Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Bitcoin on Dark Web ‘Is a Big Problem’
U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions is concerned about the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in illicit transactions.
During his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Sessions – a former U.S. senator himself – highlighted the use of bitcoin in response to a question by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about dark markets, or online marketplaces
Sessions told the committee:
“[Dark web users] use bitcoins and other untraceable financial capabilities and it is a big problem.”
In his remarks, Sessions referred to the closure of two dark markets, including previous ecosystem leader AlphaBay, following a crackdown by US authorities. Sessions claimed that AlphaBay’s client base constituted “240,000 accounts where individuals were selling for the most part illegal substances and guns, including fentanyl.”
Law enforcement officials have long expressed concern about the use of cryptocurrencies by dark markets, arguing that they obscure the paper trail that investigators might follow. Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation have targeted this use case when seeking funds to bolster their cybercrime efforts, a trend that arguably began in the wake of the closure of the Silk Road, once the world’s top dark market.
Sessions’ appearance yesterday also led to indications that Congress may take up specific measures related to dark markets.
In her remarks, Sen. Feinstein stated that she would like to work with Sessions and the Justice Department on issues surrounding the dark web, potentially through legislation or alternative actions.
Image via mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com.
Written by CoinDesk
USV’s Fred Wilson Dismisses Bitcoin Crash Prediction, Explains Optimal Crypto Holdings for Investors
Prominent venture capitalist and Union Square Ventures co-founder Fred Wilson, who previously stated banks are oblivious to bitcoin’s best feature, recently published a blog post in which he explains how much each type of investor should put into cryptocurrencies, in a response to news that led people to believe he stated investors should have 10-20% of their net worth in crypto assets.
He pointed to a tweet he had to correct, showing how things could be misinterpreted.
Wilson, who first got into bitcoin in 2013, decided to get the record straight, and started by clarifying that he has “about five percent” of his net worth in crypto assets, across various vehicles. These include token funds, USV funds, direct holding, and more. According to him, the portfolio is “likely much more diversified than most folks could do on their own.”
To Wilson, the amount he has in crypto assets is on the high end of what the average person should have. He stated:
“I think that’s likely at the high end of what the average person should have, but I also think its not a ridiculous number for the average person to have.”
He compared the figure with the allocation some put onto venture capital, knowing it’s a risky asset with a potential for outsized returns. Wilson added that the largest allocation he’s seen to venture capital from a big endowment or pension fund is of 10%.
The 10-20% rumor that circulated was the amount he believes “true believes” in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology should invest. To some true believers, as he points out, that would still be a conservative number, as some could get to 80-100% of what they have.
According to Fred Wilson, here’s how much each type of investor should put into cryptocurrencies: a young, aggressive risk taker should get 10% of his net worth in crypto assets, while a sophisticated investor, who might not be such a risk taker, should go with 5%:
Conservative, everyday investors, who are willing to take on some risk, should go with 3%, and investors at their retirement age shouldn’t invest in cryptocurrencies. Wilson’s motivation to publish the blog post was to “set the record straight.” Per his own words, seeing people tweet out advice he didn’t give makes him nervous.
Written by Crypto Coin News
Sweden’s Government Sold Bitcoin Today At Above Market Rates
The Swedish government has successfully auctioned off some bitcoin, collecting more than the prevailing market rate in the sale.
The 0.6 BTC – along with an equal amount of bitcoin cash, which was not previously dsiclosed – were sold by the Kronofogden during a week-long auction for a total of 43,000 kroner, equal to roughly $6,841 at press time.
When the auction was first announced last Thursday, the BTC up for grabs was valued at about $3,200. Bitcoin cash, according to CoinMarketCap, is currently trading at around $330.
According to Digital Di, Sweden’s largest digital news organization, the identity of the winning bidder isn’t immediately known, nor has the Kronofogden issued an official statement marking the conclusion of the auction.
The auction’s unveiling last week was a notable one, given that the Kronofogden – which acts as a kind of debt collection agency – had acquired the cryptocurrency holdings as part of its official duties. According to Di Digital, one of the other bidders, a member of the day-trading podcast Borspodden confirmed they participated but said they did not win the auction.
Kronofogden is not the first government agency to sell seized bitcoin. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice formally took possession of $48 million it accrued through the sale of 144,336 bitcoins since the closure of the Silk Road dark market.
At the press-time price of about $5,650, those holdings would be worth more than $800 million.
Image via Tupungato / Shutterstock.com.
Written by Coin Desk
List of top virtual currencies in 2017 and what differentiates them
With more than 1,100 cryptocurrencies and a total market cap of approximately $150 billion circulating in the market today, this ‘next-gen gold’ has taken the financial world by storm.
The question of their survival, which enveloped this fintech invention in the beginning, has now been replaced by the question of the extent of its evolution and adoption. Industry skeptics raised concerns regarding the new “currency’s” power to disrupt the financial landscape as we know it and lead world economies to lose financial control to the hands of the common man.
Even when many countries and companies ‘banned’ the use of the digital currency, its rapid growth and mass adoption by technology aficionados and leading global firms (such as Microsoft, Virgin Galactic, Shopify, and Tesla) led to its strengthening in today’s fiscal society.
According to a report by PwC, cryptocurrencies have been called one of the “greatest technological breakthroughs since the Internet.” They have also been called “a black hole” into which a consumer’s money could just disappear.
These two stark contrasting statements are the reason why cryptocurrencies have inspired more debate than actual commerce.
In this article, BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has listed the top cryptocurrencies of 2017, decoding the cashless era’s top players.
Having the first-mover advantage, Bitcoin is the world’s first peer-to-peer decentralized digital currency, which is now not only the most recognized and known cryptocurrency, but also the only digital currency that is most widely accepted and used in numerous real-world transactions.
With a market cap of approximately $80 billion and a supply of more than 16.5 million Bitcoins, one Bitcoin (until recently) had a value of more than $4,800, making it the costliest virtual currency on the market. Recently, it broke an all-time record high and hit a historic mark when its value peaked at a whopping $5,856.10 on October 13, 2017.
With Bitcoin ATMs and widespread knowledge and adoption, it is now easier than ever to mine and obtain Bitcoins and make actual transactions.
Coinbase operates one of the most popular wallets and is a simple way to buy Bitcoins, while Xapo is known for its ease of use in Bitcoin transactions and as a bitcoin cold-storage vault.
The main advantages of Bitcoins over other cryptocurrencies, according to Bitcoin developer and Medium writer Jimmy Song, are its network effect and proven security. According to him, other advantages of Bitcoins that make them unique are:
- Bitcoin is more accessible with more merchants, more exchanges, and software/hardware support systems available.
- It has the largest developer ecosystem with more software and more implementations.
- First mover advantage: Large user base, loyalists, and entrepreneurs creating companies (open source projects, startups) around it.
- It is far more liquid than other digital currencies
- Security has been proven far more than its much younger counterparts with usage by almost every metric exceeding that of altcoins.
- It has a large lead as a store of value.
Bitcoin should, however, not be confused with Bitcoin Cash. Bitcoin Cash is a breakaway part from Bitcoin, which is now a separate cryptocurrency itself. Bitcoin Cash has a market cap of nearly $5.5 billion, and one BCH can be bought for $nearly $330 as of this writing.
Proposed in late 2013, Ethereum is a decentralized platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship, or third-party interference. It provides a decentralized virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes.
Ethereum is a platform built for smart contracts, but it has been controversial and resulted in diverging blockchains.
The market cap of Ethereum is more than $29 billion with a price of approximately $300 (from a mere $8 at the start of 2017). In the historic quarter for cryptocurrencies, Ethereum’s rise has been almost negligible in terms of what is expected from digital currencies, it has gone up just 8%.
The Ethereum Wallet is a gateway to decentralized applications on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows you to hold and secure ether and other crypto-assets built on Ethereum, as well as write, deploy and use smart contracts.
Despite Ethereum being overshadowed by Bitcoin in various arenas, recent news and developments in the Ethereum realm have started igniting deep interest in this cryptocurrency.
Recently, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin spoke about Ethereum’s capacity to have transactional power to equal Visa in the next two years. Buterin believes the cryptocurrency and its blockchain can replace credit card networks and gaming servers.
Also in major news this year, thirty big banks, tech giants, and other organizations (including J.P. Morgan Chase, Microsoft, and Intel) are uniting to build business-ready versions of the software behind Ethereum. The Ethereum alliance arrives as a challenger to several other extant blockchain ventures.
In April 2017, a Microsoft demo day in New York featured Ethereum blockchain strongly. There, three high-profile companies – Bank of America, tech firm Mojix, and digital travel firm Webjet – demoed products built using Ethereum to streamline various aspects of their industries and usher in new levels of transparency.
Altcoins or “Alternative coins” are the alternative cryptocurrencies launched after the success of Bitcoin. Altcoins promote themselves as better substitutes to Bitcoin. The success of Bitcoin as the first peer-to-peer digital currency paved the way for many to follow.
Although the list is constantly changing, the top 10 Altcoins (contenders of Bitcoin) are:
- Dash: Digital+ cash
- Ethereum Classic
- Decred: Decentralized credit
- PIVX: Private Instant Verified Transactions
Where to Buy Cryptocurrency?
Ranging from BTMs (Bitcoin ATMs), embassies, and exchanges, cryptocurrencies can be bought and traded at multiple locations worldwide.
Cryptocurrency exchanges are websites where you can buy, sell, or exchange cryptocurrencies for other digital currencies or traditional currencies such as US dollars or Euro. There are three types of exchanges:
- Trading Platforms
- Direct Trading
Amongst a number of host platforms, some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges based on user friendliness, accessibility, fees, and security are:
- Coinbase- one of the most popular and well-known cryptocurrency broker/trading platform in the world
- Kraken- is the largest Bitcoin exchange in euro volume and liquidity and is a partner in the first cryptocurrency bank.
- io- The platform lets users easily trade fiat money with cryptocurrencies and conversely cryptocurrencies for fiat money.
- Poloniex and many others.
BTMs or Bitcoin ATMs are Internet machines that allow a person to exchange Bitcoins and cash. Some Bitcoin ATMs offer bi-directional functionality; these machines enable the purchase of Bitcoin as well as the redemption of Bitcoin for cash.
Bitcoin kiosks are machines which are connected to the Internet, allowing the insertion of cash in exchange for Bitcoins given as a paper receipt or by moving money to a public key on the blockchain. They look like traditional ATMs, but Bitcoin kiosks do not connect to a bank account. They instead connect the user directly to a digital exchange.
The world’s first BTM was installed in Vancouver in 2013, and they have since expanded to various countries all around the world. Coin ATM radar actually allows you to find Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency ATM locations/exchange services on their world map.
Bitcoin embassies are physical locations there to represent Bitcoin and blockchain technology to show people how the technology works. They offer consulting services, information on Bitcoin mining equipment, security tools, storage solutions, and other related information.
More to Learn
Cryptocurrency is a growing mega-trend, which is being recognized worldwide and is being incorporated into daily life transactions. Bitcoin has the fintech ecosystem and the resources to compete, whereas its counterparts are still trying to stay on top and fight the other 1,100 cryptocurrencies in the market space.
BI Intelligence has delved further into this virtual competition between the digital currencies and has put together two detailed reports on the blockchain: The Blockchain in the IoT Report and The Blockchain in Banking Report.
Written by UK Business Insider
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are not ‘mature’ enough to regulate, ECB chief Mario Draghi says
- ECB chief Mario Draghi said cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are not “mature” enough
- Cryptocurrencies “should be embraced with lots of attention to its potential risks”
- Regulators have taken different approaches to creating rules around cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies are not “mature” enough to be considered by the European Central Bank (ECB) for regulation, Mario Draghi said.
At a press conference last weekend, the ECB president addressed a question about the potential of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
“With anything that’s new, people have great expectations and also great uncertainty. Right now we think that especially as far as bitcoins and cryptocurrencies are concerned, we don’t think the technology is mature for our consideration,” Draghi said.
He expressed caution and said that while innovation should be “cherished for its potential benefits,” it should also be “critically assessed” for risks.
“One of the lessons of the great financial crisis is that financial innovation, in this case it’s financial and technology innovation… should be embraced with lots of attention to its potential risks,” Draghi told a room of reporters.
Last month, in a statement to the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Draghi said the ECB did not have the authority to regulate cryptocurrencies.
Interest in cryptocurrencies has exploded in recent months with many seeing sharp rises in price. There are now over 1,000 virtual currencies and regulators across the world have differing views on them.
While Draghi appears to be taking a wait and see approach, China banned cryptocurrency exchanges. South Korea also put a stop to initial coin offerings (ICOs), a way for start-ups to raise money by issuing virtual tokens.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi recently ruled that bitcoin is a commodity in the same vein as precious metals or fuels. Therefore, it remains unregulated. Japan, however, has allowed companies to accept bitcoin as payments.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told CNBC that cryptocurrencies could cause “massive disruptions” and that the organization wants to be a part of how they develop in the future.