Top Crypto News – 30/04/2018

Analyst Predicts Ethereum Price to Hit a Record $2,500 in 2018


Ethereum could rise fourfold to $2,500 and have a record-setting year this year, a financial consulting firm has predicted.

“The price of Ethereum is predicted to increase significantly this year, and could hit $2,500 by the end of 2018 with a further increase by 2019 and 2020,” Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group, stated in an email to MarketWatch.

Three Factors At Work

Green attributed the general upswing to three drivers. The first being that more platforms are using Ethereum for trading. Secondly, Ethereum contracts are expanding. Thirdly, the decentralization of cloud computing bodes well for Ethereum.

Green further observed that regulation in the cryptocurrency sector is inevitable, which points to greater investor protection and long-term market confidence. Ethereum has emerged as the digital currency of choice for new token issuers due to its efficiency and flexibility. The average transaction processing time on Ethereum is about 14 seconds, compared to bitcoin, which can be as long as 10 minutes.

Ethereum’s market value was $67.4 billion at the time of this report.

Ethereum led a market retreat with a 9% decline on Wednesday, and altogether nine of the 10 largest coins and tokens lost value against the dollar, while four posted double-digit declines.

The major price action began Wednesday morning at approximately 2:30 UTC when the cryptocurrency market cap was valued at $434 billion. Over the next two-and-a-half hours, the market shed $30 billion, and — despite a brief recovery — continued to decline throughout the morning.

It was not clear what caused the bulls to run out of steam, though it could have been a simple matter of traders who bought at the bear market’s bottom taking profits following the week’s rapid recovery, which had seen the cryptocurrency market cap swell by more than $100 billion. Both single-day and one-hour price movements moved into negative territory across the board Wednesday, though the retreat disproportionately affected altcoins. Bitcoin declined just 1% for the day, beating the index by more than 8% and raising its market share back above 39%.

The Ethereum price had declined by more than 9% just hours after piercing $700 for the first time in more than a month.

Bitcoin, at -1.96%, traded back above $9,000 Friday, consolidating over critical support between $8,500 and $9,000.

Altcoins overall were in the green Friday. Bitcoin Cash was up by 1.97% to $1,388.50, Litecoin, -1.05%, was largely unchanged at $150.89 while Ripple traded at 85 cents, pushing its volume up by 1%.

Analyst Still Bullish On Cryptocurrency

Green has been bullish on cryptocurrency in general.

“Most major cryptocurrencies have been posting big gains over the last Green stated on his company’s website on Wednesday. “Current market activity indicates that the major cryptocurrencies are set for another considerable surge in prices gains in the near future.”

“What’s fueling this current rally in crypto prices? There are several key motivators,” he said. “These include the growing integration with and adoption by major banks and other financial institutions.”

Green said 20 percent of all financial firms, ranging from hedge funds to banking giants, are now considering trading digital currencies in the 12 months, according to a new Thomson Reuters survey.

“Another key reason for the rally is that there’s a growing awareness of the need and demand for digital, global currencies in a digitalized, globalized world,” he said.

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Binance, Bermuda Ink $15 Million Crypto Investment Agreement


Binance plans to set up its new global compliance center in Bermuda over the next few months, Premier David Burt has announced.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Friday, Burt announced that a memorandum of understanding has been signed, under which the Binance Charity Foundation will put $10 million toward educational programs related to the tech. An additional $5 million will be invested in blockchain startups.

On top of that, Binance will help the Bermuda government develop a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as well as establish a new office in the country.

Burt said during the press conference:

“Through this partnership, Binance proposes to develop its global compliance base here in Bermuda, creating at least 40 jobs in Bermuda with at least 30 jobs for Bermudians … [and] as soon as practical, develop a digital asset exchange in Bermuda subject to all required legal and regulatory processes, and finally, work collaboratively with the government of Bermuda and all necessary oversight agencies in the development and improvement of the robust legal and regulatory framework.”

Binance CEO and founder Zhao Changpeng said Bermuda’s government and regulatory bodies “are one of the most approachable on the planet,” and said his company would “commit to helping the local economy.”

The exchange has already begun working with a local law firm to ensure the startup’s new office would be compliant with relevant laws, he added.

During the press conference, Zhao also addressed the recent lawsuit filed against Binance, noting that “the Hong Kong high court has already rejected it and ordered Sequoia to repay our legal fees.”

In his closing remarks, Burt also mentioned the new legislation Bermuda intends to pass regulating initial coin offerings. Burt claimed that Bermuda intends to “comprehensively govern” initial coin offerings that are conducted within the country’s borders.

“We want to ensure that Bermuda is the world’s number-one place for regulation inside of this space. We have a reputation to protect,  we will protect it but we will work with all persons who we believe represents future growth for the people of this country and future opportunities and jobs,” Burt said.

Premier David Burt; Changpeng Zhao image via Bernews
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The Crypto Community Must Use the Blockchain to Self-Police


Self-policing illicit activity on the blockchain may soon be a necessity for the cryptocurrency space.

The everyday cryptocurrency enthusiast in the future is likely to spend time identifying illicit wallets and transactions to avoid. The U.S. Treasury Department has made that inevitable.

A few weeks ago, Treasury quietly published additions to its FAQs section on the website for the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the unit which oversees U.S. economic sanctions. The language shows that OFAC is planning to include “digital currency” addresses on its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list.

This would be a big deal.

Banks and all types of businesses are supposed to check the SDN list to ensure they do not provide financial services to people, organizations, and governments which the U.S. has designated as “blocked” due to involvement in terrorism, nuclear proliferation, kleptocracy, human rights violations, and other crimes.

Banks can be legally compelled to freeze any assets they have custody over that belong to those on OFAC’s list, and stop their transactions. The financial penalties for not doing so can be severe. And while most everyday cryptocurrency investors know little about the legalese-laden world of sanctions compliance, anyone running any sort of financial business knows that noncompliance can put you out of business-and potentially, in jail – quick.

Never before has a specific cryptocurrency address or wallet been listed by OFAC, although legal experts have understood for years that sending bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies to anyone on the SDN list is illegal for U.S. persons.

Still, there is a big difference between blocking funds in the fiat banking world and what can be done in the realm of crypto. Peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions cannot be blocked or reversed by third parties.

So an OFAC-designated crypto wallet is likely going to bring more scrutiny on the external addresses it transacts with rather than the designated wallet itself.

Some cryptocurrency industry compliance experts argue that digital currency wallet designations could usher in a new era; where tokens get categorized as either clean, tainted, or unknown with regard to their level of association with SDN addresses.

This might cause varying price levels for coins on the same blockchain, with clean tokens valued above those with tainted or unclear origins, and the end of the fungibility that cryptocurrencies have enjoyed since their existence.

One can also expect that blockchain forensics tools will become more valuable and more widely deployed as crypto exchanges aim to lessen the risk of transacting with users with tainted coins.

It’s on you

However, the more significant part of a new era arising from financial authorities scrutinizing cryptocurrency addresses is going to be what the cryptocurrency community itself will have to do: Work to prevent illicit transactions on the blockchain.

This is something many in the crypto space do not want to hear.

Cryptocurrency experts often point to “censorship resistance” as the technology’s most valuable feature, enabling anyone to store and send funds, unencumbered by any government authority. In theory, this is a strong enabler of freedom and democracy.

But in practice, this technical ability has never been a scalable reality given the reach of laws in most jurisdictions relating to financial crime. While evading the impositions of corrupt governments is a worthy goal, the crypto community should recognize that it is morally unacceptable to stay passive while evidence grows that criminals and terrorists are exploiting the community’s freedom.

In recent years, anti-money laundering (AML) compliance experts focusing on the blockchain industry have encouraged cryptocurrency firms to go beyond doing the “know your customer” (KYC) due diligence required of traditional financial institutions and do “know your transaction” (KYT) analysis by leveraging data on the blockchain.

There are multiple startups specializing in such blockchain forensics, serving crypto exchanges along with other enterprise customers like law enforcement agencies and large banks. These companies’ analytic tools are useful for fighting crime, but many voices in the crypto community criticize such tools–which deanonymize financial transactions on the blockchain–for undermining privacy. However, most information from blockchain forensics is not shared publicly. One usually needs to be a corporate or government client to access the data.

But OFAC listing cryptocurrency addresses would raise the stakes of KYT analysis.

It would make it more important for anyone involved in cryptocurrency transactions to verify the “licitness” of the addresses they touch.

And although it is likely that the number of designated addresses would be minimal to begin with (OFAC does not make designations lightly), even the small chance of a sanctions violation brings compliance risk mitigation into the picture for Joe Blow Token Buyer.

An inadvertent transaction with a banned address or an address that has transacted with a banned address would be viewable on the public blockchain ledger, possibly tainting that person’s cryptocurrency wallet as well.

The only way to help everyday users of cryptocurrency navigate the maze of an SDN-laden blockchain platform would be having real-time AML/KYT insight into the funding flows of various wallet addresses. This is not possible under the current environment where blockchain analysis is done in siloes, available just to financial firms and law enforcement.

Crowdsourced AML

What’s needed is an open-source platform where illicit activity is flagged and derogatory information is vetted. Call it crowdsourced AML on the blockchain.

I understand this need. As a researcher at a nonprofit national security think tank, I’ve investigated cases of cryptocurrencies and illicit financing, such as bitcoin terrorist funding campaigns in the Middle East. Our team has used free public blockchain explorer websites to analyze donations to these campaigns.

These tools are not as robust as what the government and banks can access with costly specialized machine learning and algorithmic tools. And even  if I, through rigorous manual tracking and analysis of blockchain activity, flag addresses I see transacting with a terrorist funding wallet, there is no efficient way to share my findings on a platform so everyday cryptocurrency users could see my “flags,” evaluate their veracity, and stay clear of those addresses, as appropriate.

The industry can help.

Two years ago, I suggested that cryptocurrency experts should set up their own watchdog groupsto look out for nefarious activity on the blockchain, similar to how “white hat” hackers flag viruses and other cyber threats. Treasury’s plans make it more important now for the crypto space to build self-policing initiatives.

And besides incorporating OFAC’s blacklist, a public crowdsourced blockchain AML tool could address an illicit finance threat that affects crypto users directly: crypto heists. It would allow victims of ransomware or exchange hacks to voluntarily list their extorted or stolen tokens. While that won’t bring funds back to their rightful owners, it could make moving or stealing coins more difficult and disincentivize cryptocurrency theft in the long term.

Of course, for a self-policing AML platform to work, there would have to be a way to vet listings so that inaccurate and false information is not published. Otherwise, such a tool could be misused to falsely malign addresses, and thus, undermine innocent people financially. But this is more a technical problem to solve rather than a reason to not pursue a better way of doing AML on the blockchain.

The breakthrough of the first blockchain protocol, bitcoin, was in designing a decentralized way to incentivize strangers to compete and confirm the veracity of a global public financial record.

Certainly, with all the attention, time, and money invested in new products and services built off of cryptocurrency tokens, those who are developing this technology should be able to design ways to incentivize keeping the blockchain clean.

Police car image via Shutterstock
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Mastercard Seeks ‘Fast Track’ Way to Sync Blockchain Data


Payments giant Mastercard wants to patent a way to quickly add new nodes to a blockchain network, new filings reveal.

In a patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company outlines a method by which nodes can connect with and verify the contents of a particular blockchain. Per Mastercard, the idea is to boost the speed at which the nodes – which store a copy of that network’s transaction history – can get up to date.

Mastercard first filed the application back in October 2016. And as the application explains, “a blockchain may store thousands, millions, or even billions of transaction records over time in a vast number of different blocks.”

While this is part of its immutable nature, this also means the blockchain could “contain thousands, millions, or billions of blocks, each of which must be verified by the new node prior to the generation and addition of new blocks to the blockchain.”

The payments firm goes on to say:

“The verification of such a large number of blocks may take a significant amount of time, during which new blocks may be added to the blockchain, further delaying the ability for the new node to participate … Thus, there is a need for a technical solution to increase the speed at which a blockchain may be navigated for verification thereof, which can thereby reduce the time required for a new node to begin participating in the blockchain.”

In order to do this, the proposed system would include so-called “fast track flags” included in block headers. Nodes, per Mastercard, would be able to use those flags to scan over the blockchain’s contents more quickly.

Notably, the filing also discusses using a specially configured blockchain, which would act as the software counterpart to the nodes and help enable further efficiencies.

Image Credit: Africa Studio /
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