Bitcoin in Brief Tuesday: NY Regulator Approves Bitcoin Cash, Zcash and Litecoin Trading
NYDFS Approves Expanded Crypto Portfolio
New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo has announced on Monday that Gemini Trust Company LLC has been authorized to offer the custody services and trading of Zcash, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash on its exchange based in NYC. She said: “This action continues New York’s longstanding commitment to innovation and leadership in the global marketplace. With smart and thorough regulatory oversight, the development and long-term growth of the industry will remain thriving.”
The addition of Zcash especially seems to have taken the market by surprise, leading to its price jumping over 40% in the last twenty-four hours. Back in March, the founders of the trading venue revealed that adding new cryptocurrency options are high on the company’s agenda this year, with BCH and LTC at the top of the list. Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini, commented on Monday: “We are proud to be the first licensed exchange in the world to offer Zcash trading and custody services and look forward to providing customers with a safe, secure, and regulated place to buy, sell, and store Zcash, an incredible new form of digital cash.”
Surprise CEO Resignation
Chris Lee, Chief Executive Officer at Chinese-run cryptocurrency exchange Okex, has reportedly left his position with the Hong Kong based company. Lee cited personal reasons for his departure, seeking to “start a new life,” the exchange stated on Monday. According to his spokeswoman, Lee added it had been the “greatest pleasure and an honor” to work at Okex and that he will return to the blockchain community after a short break to spend time with his family. The surprising move raised some speculations online as for the reasons.
$1 Million Bitcoin Heist Foiled
According to media reports from the state of Georgia, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office found that five young men had conspired to break into a local home and steal nearly $1 million in bitcoin. Their robbery investigation has reportedly been ongoing since January, following a drug bust. The five young men, Justin Ellison, Trivette Adams, Matthew Schwartz, Jacob South, and Michael McDermont, have been charged with residential strong arm robbery and are being held in a detention center without bond.
Australian Sexual Health Provider Held for Ransom
Family Planning New South Wales, one of Australia’s largest reproductive and sexual health service providers, has sent out an email to its clients on Monday notifying them that it reported a cyber attack on its website to Australian Federal Police.
“I want to stress to people that this has absolutely nothing to do with, and has no impact on our clinical medical records, they’ve always been secure,” the organization’s chief executive Ann Brassil said at a press conference on Monday. “There’s no evidence that this cyberattack was on Family Planning NSW itself;…and it appears it was an attack for ransom, so it was financial. The ransom said we are shutting down your website and you pay us $15,000 in Bitcoin for us to release the website, and it had a clock ticking down.”
Polish financial authorities have again been found to spend taxpayers’ money on a smear campaign on social media against investing in cryptocurrencies. Poland’s Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) has issued a new tender order to plan and conduct a campaign aimed at “building awareness” among the public for the risks associated with investing in cryptocurrencies, pyramid schemes and forex activities unsupervised by the KNF.
Earlier this year it was reveled that the Central Bank of Poland and KNF had paid over 90,000 PLN (złoty) to, among others, a Polish Youtube content network which represents many popular young local content creators to produce anti-crypto videos.
What do you think about today’s news updates? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
IBM Is Helping Build a Carbon Credit Blockchain Token
IBM is collaborating with environmental technology firm Veridium Labs to launch a token with the goal of shaking up the carbon credits industry.
Veridium, whose plan to issue the so-called verde was revealed last year, isn’t the first token-related project to land IBM as a partner, but it could prove to be one of the most consequential.
Their collaboration also builds on IBM’s previous relationship with Stellar, which was unveiled last October with a cross-border payments initiative that used Stellar’s lumens token as a medium of exchange.
Veridium’s verde token runs on the Stellar network and is backed by Triple Gold REDD+ credits, or carbon credits issued by a company called Infinite Earth. Infinite Earth oversees the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, a 64,000-hectare-large area in Borneo. The reserve serves as the “natural capital” for the carbon credits and is home to a number of endangered species.
At the heart of the carbon credit concept is the idea that real change can be affected by relying on market forces to push down the total amount of pollutive materials companies produce. The credits, which companies can purchase, function as a kind of tradeable permit, each worth a ton of carbon.
REDD is short for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and it focuses squarely on the carbon emissions created by deforestation. More than 60 countries are party to the REDD framework, spread across the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and South America.
Yet according to Todd Lemons, a co-founder and the CEO of Veridium, the process of actually measuring the carbon impact of each foot of forest can be cumbersome. In the company’s years of work, there was always a need for a different tool to streamline the process and improve transparency, Lemons said.
And that’s where blockchain comes in, he said.
“We’ve developed a new set of protocols to take a completely different approach, to create a set of calculations that measure the footprint per dollar. So that set of protocols is being codified into the verde token,” Lemons told CoinDesk, going on to say of the token:
“It represents the underlying asset, the environment asset, as well as completely automates the carbon accounting and offsetting process to make it infinitely more consumable for companies to be able to integrate that into their transactions.”
Carbon on the blockchain
Running on the Stellar network allows for some key benefits, according to Jared Klee, blockchain offering manager for IBM and the company’s point person on the initiative.
Among those is the ability to swap those tokens directly, rather than relying on an exchange platform that would be vulnerable to hacking or other issues.
“Stellar has built in a decentralized exchange which, among other things, helps mitigate central points of failure,” Klee explained.
More broadly, he contended, using a blockchain brings transparency that’s been lacking in this market. As Transparency International wrote back in 2012, accounting for carbon can be problematic – thus making it more susceptible to fraud.
“Given the remoteness of REDD+ sites there may be no easy way of knowing whether a project is authentic or bogus,” the group wrote at the time.
This is why IBM sees an auditable shared ledger adding value to the process. As Klee told CoinDesk:
“Blockchain plays a critical role in … enabling the transparency so that individuals interested in purchasing, trading and using the token have visibility into the underlying carbon credits that back the token.”
Borneo forest image via Shutterstock
Written by CoinDesk.com
Thomson Reuters Launches Real Time Rates for Six Cryptocurrencies
Six Cryptocurrencies Will Be Tracked
The new Cryptocurrency Real Time Rates are already accessible through a customized API interface on Thomson Reuters Eikon platform. The application is providing trading data from various crypto exchanges including Bitflyer and Bitpoint. More trading platforms will be added in the future, according to a Reuters report.
The announcement comes after a recent Thomson Reuters survey found that cryptocurrency trading by financial firms is likely increase this year. About 20% of 400 finance companies participating in the study are considering entering trading crypto assets within 12 months. That means that one in every five of the undisclosed businesses plans to establish direct contact with cryptocurrencies in 2018.
Pricing data for the real-time rates will cover six cryptocurrencies, not mentioned in the report. The launch of the service could be interpreted as an indication that Reuters is considering embracing the digital asset class on its own trading platforms. In December, the mass media and information giant added bitcoin cash (BCH) to Eikon. BCH became only the third cryptocurrency to list on the platform after bitcoin core (BTC) and ethereum.
The latest release comes after an announcement from CME Group which is launching a daily price benchmark for Ethereum, as reported by Finance Magnates. The service will be provided in partnership with the cryptocurrency trading platform Crypto Facilities.
Earlier this year, Thomson Reuters Corp. announced the launch of a new version of the Marketpsych Indices sentiment data feed, which includes analysis of bitcoin market sentiment. The service is provided in cooperation with Marketpsych Data LLC, as news.Bitcoin.com reported in March. 400 news and social media sites, including many specific to cryptocurrencies, have been added to the feed. Each one of them is scanned and scored in real time to ascertain market-moving sentiments and themes.
Immense Growth Highlights Strong Momentum
According to Michael Go, head of FX Market Development for Asia Pacific at Thomson Reuters, the immense growth in the cryptocurrency market in the last decade highlights the strong momentum around the new technology and the tradable asset class. “Thomson Reuters Cryptocurrency Real Time Rates enhances our rate offering and helps create a transparent and efficient global marketplace, vital to the future stability of cryptocurrency trading to support the investor,” he commented.
“As the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Bitflyer has made efforts to facilitate the development of cryptocurrency markets,” said Yuzo Kano, CEO and co-founder of the trading platform. He noted that Bitflyer is the first company to obtain license to trade cryptocurrencies in Japan, the US and Europe. “We are delighted to be able to provide valuable data to customers worldwide through Thomson Reuters,” Kano added.
President and representative director of Bitpoint, Genki Oda, also expressed satisfaction with the partnership on the real-time rates. “We are pleased to cooperate with Thomson Reuters in the further enhancement of its services and hope that our data will become a benchmark for the cryptocurrency industry as a global cryptocurrency trading exchange,” Oda said.
Written by CoinDesk.com
Founders of $32 Million Mayweather-Backed ICO Indicted for Securities Fraud
The founders of a high-grossing initial coin offering (ICO) have been indicted for defrauding investors in the course of operating their cryptocurrency company, Centra Tech.
On Monday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced that it had filed charges against Sohrab Sharma, Raymond Trapani, and Robert Farkas, who co-founded and operated Centra Tech.
Authorities allege that in addition to holding an unregistered securities offering the Centra Tech operators “engaged in fraudulent conduct and made material misstatements and omissions designed to deceive investors,” including lying about having partnerships with large financial institutions such as Visa and Mastercard.
US Attorney Robert Khuzami said that the defendants had further created a fictitious CEO in an attempt to give the scheme more credibility:
“As alleged, the defendants conspired to capitalize on investor interest in the burgeoning cryptocurrency market. They allegedly made false claims about their product and about relationships they had with credible financial institutions, even creating a fictitious Centra Tech CEO. Whether traditional or cutting-edge, investment vehicles can’t legally be peddled with falsehoods and lies.”
The ICO, which was promoted by legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather, raised $32 million at the time of the offering, but upon arresting the three suspects the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized 91,000 ether, which are now worth approximately $67 million.
Each of the three Centra Tech Founders has been charged in a four-count indictment for conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and wire fraud. The first count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the latter three each carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. They will also likely face financial penalties. The case has been assigned to US District Judge Lorna G. Schofield.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has separately filed civil charges against Sharma, Trapani, and Farkas for their roles in the scheme.