Top Crypto News – 13/03/2018

South African Google Searches for Bitcoin Spike Amid Economic Uncertainty


South African Searches Relating to Bitcoin Surge

South African Google Searches for Bitcoin Spike Amid Economic UncertaintyThe popularity of bitcoin appears to be continuing to grow in South Africa despite the recent declining performance of the leading cryptocurrency.

As of this writing, South African Google searches are the highest in proportion to the size of searches generated by high search-volume nations, with the average number of monthly South African searches for “bitcoin” over the last 12 months currently estimated at between 100,000 and 1,000,000. South African peer-to-peer bitcoin trade volume also appears to be rising, with weekly rand-value of localbitcoins trading exceeding 20,000,000 (approximately $1.7 million USD) for the first time since January this past week.

Mati Greenspan, a market analyst for major social trading and asset brokerage, Etoro, recently attested to the platform experiencing a significant surge in the number of South African bitcoin traders, stating that “In South Africa, the number of new users trading bitcoin through eToro rose by 671% from January to the end of November last year over the same period in 2016, more than the 574% overall growth.”

Rising South African Bitcoin Investment Attributed to Fears of Looming Economic Disruption

South African Google Searches for Bitcoin Spike Amid Economic UncertaintyMany analysts are attributing the growing South African interest in cryptocurrencies to perceptions that president Cyril Ramaphosa’s radical land reforms may comprise a catalyst for economic instability.

President Ramaphosa’s recent acceleration of his policy of forcefully redistributing white-owned property to black citizens who do not possess farmland has prompted concerns from leading international rating agency, Moody’s. Despite the concerns, many are expecting that South Africa may be able to narrowly avoid receiving a fourth credit rating downgrade in less than a calendar year due to a reduction in the cost of insuring the nation’s sovereign debt against default using credit-default swaps.

Mr. Ramaphosa recently issued a statement seeking to assure Moody’s that the “accelerated land reform will unfold within a clear legal framework and without negatively affecting economic growth, agricultural production, and food security.”

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Large Mining Farm Discovered in Abandoned Russian Factory


One of Russia’s Biggest

Investigating unusual consumption of electricity, police in the Russian city of Orenburg came across one of the largest facilities for cryptocurrency mining in the country. The unknown miners have illegally set up their farm in a closed-down plant, plugging the cables into the nearby transformer station.

In what Russian media described as “a scene from The Matrix”, investigators found racks upon racks of mining processors. The farm was equipped with powerful application specific circuits, and not the ordinary video cards, used by amateur miners.

The ASIC devices have been most likely used to mine bitcoin, as they are able to provide the necessary computing power to process its transactions. ASICs consume enormous amount of electricity and generate a lot of heat. The cooling needed was provided by large industrial ventilators.

The farm was discovered after employees of the local utility company detected suspiciously high electricity consumption from the old factory. The state-owned enterprise went out of business years ago.

According to preliminary estimates, the energy hungry mining equipment has used electricity worth 60 million rubles (more than $1 million), Ren TV reports. The miners never bothered to pay any bills, however. If found by the police, they may be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mining on Industrial Scale

Cryptocurrency mining has been gaining popularity in Russia thanks to low electricity rates. Despite calls from officials to take mining out of garages and apartments, many Russians have tried to make a coin or two, using homemade GPU rigs. A string of fires due to faulty hardware has been covered in Russian media, with the latest incidentcaused by a pensioner in Vologda.

Large Mining Farm Discovered in Abandoned Russian FactoryRecent reports suggest, however, that amateur mining is not really that profitable anymore. Several Russian regions have declared their readiness to host industrial-scale mining facilities. Authorities in Leningrad Oblast have invited miners to a nuclear power plant that will be decommissioned within a couple of years. The local Economic Department and the company operating the NPP have already approved the project.

The Russian Federation is ready to accommodate entrepreneurs willing to invest in cryptocurrency mining. Homes and businesses consume less than 60% of the electricity the country can produce. Recently, a Russian businessman acquired two electric power stations to be used specifically for bitcoin mining. Foreign investors are welcome, as well.

The bitcoin farm in Orenburg, however, has not received approval from any government institution. The crypto facility in the old rubber processing plant is definitely not what authorities mean by industrialized mining. Nevertheless, the illegal farm is one of the biggest mining operations in Russia to date.

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Malaysia’s Central Bank Slaps Down ICO for Logo Misuse


Malaysia’s central bank has issued a statement seeking to warn customers and distance itself from the Coinzer cryptocurrency.

Bank Negara Malaysia’s concern is Coinzer’s use of official logos on their proposed physical token. The statement outlines that Coinzer’s use of the BNM and Jata Negara logo on their prototype token website and whitepaper are unauthorized, and the project is in no way connected with the bank. Alongside this, the bank reminds customers that digital currencies are not legal tender, and urged investors to exercise caution and carefully examine the potential risks.

Coinzer’s proposed digital token, which uses the official BNM logo.

Since the Bank’s statement, Coinzer has produced their own press release, posted on their website. The statement attempts to clarify that the physical token was only a proposal and that they will now not be going ahead with this idea. They add that they are in fact working closely with Malaysian authorities and that the development of cryptocurrencies is recognized as a positive force by both sides:

 “Regulators in many countries especially Malaysia are aware that this new technology and financial innovation will not only enhance productivity of economic activities, but also make financial intermediation more seamless”

According to the website, a new design and a video further explaining the situation are in production.

Coinzer is building on the Ethereum network, focused on maximizing the efficiency of businesses by bringing all manner of systems on to the blockchain.  Their whitepaper states that they are trying to become the number one cryptocurrency in Malaysia and attract international investments to the Asian country.

Malaysia itself has taken a passive stance towards cryptocurrencies, with the head of the central bank announcing that the public would decide the technology’s future last month. “It is not the intention of the authorities to ban or put a stop on any innovation that is perceived to be beneficial to the public,” he told reporters. It marks Malaysia as one of the few countries that has laid out a clear approach to the development of virtual currencies, allowing the public to decide their fate.

Whilst the central bank’s position has been for the most part positive towards crypto, Malaysia’s statutory securities regulator did shut down an ICO in January. CopyCash, a decentralized trading and investing platform, was told to cease and desist by the authority, after it was discovered the platform’s token did not comply with laws regarding securities.

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‘Bitcoin Misery Index’ Indicates Now is A Good Time To Buy


The “bitcoin misery index” created by Wall Street strategist Thomas Lee indicates this is a good time to buy bitcoin, according to CNBC. Lee has not changed his midyear price target of $20,000 and his end year price target of $25,000 for bitcoin.

Lee, co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors, told CNBC’s “Fast Money” Friday that when the bitcoin misery index falls below 27, bitcoin sees its best 12-month performance. Such a signal comes about every year, the strategist said.

Lowest Index Since September 2011

The index now stands at 18.8 on a scale of 100, making its lowest point since Sept. 6, 2011.
Lee said the index offers a way to measure how happy or said you are owning bitcoin.

The index is intended as a contrarian indicator. When it is low, investors should buy. When it is high, they should sell. The index accounts for the number of winning trades from the total trades. It also accounts for volatility.

At the end of last week, bitcoin’s price fell 24 percent from its Monday high following reports about rising regulatory scrutiny.

The low points signify pain, even though they are short-term signals. Long-term, Lee said the low points could point to a great entry way into bitcoin.

What Past Patterns Foretell

The last four times the index fell below 27 on the bitcoin misery index, bitcoin never failed to rise 12 months later, Lee said.

Last week was a tough one for bitcoin. A major Hong Kong exchange reported on Wednesday that some accounts might have been compromised. At the same time, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission increased its scrutiny of cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges. On Thursday, Japan suspended two cryptocurrency exchanges from operating for a month and called for business improvements at five other exchanges.

It was also reported Wednesday that the trustee of the now defunct Mt. Gox exchange sold about $400 million worth of bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

Bitcoin traded more than 3.5 percent lower Friday morning, around $8,900. While it remains more than 800 percent higher than where it was a year ago, it has lost more than 50 percent from its record high of more than $19,000 in mid-December.

Lee said it is very uncommon to be this unhappy owning bitcoin. The last such periods were November of 2012, September of 2016 and January of 2015.

In each case, bitcoin was higher in the following month.

Lee: Hold On One To Three Weeks

Lee said the index is telling people to wait it out for the next one or two or three weeks.

He is the only major Wall Street strategist to issue regular bitcoin reports and formal price targets. Prior to co-founding Fundstrat, he was chief equity strategist at J.P. Morgan Chase.

Lee maintained his midyear price target of $20,000 and his end year price target of $25,000 for bitcoin.

Featured image from Shutterstock.
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