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Ethereum Unique Addresses Break 50 Million, Active Wallet Number Keeps Dropping

The number of unique ETH addresses has broken 50 million, but active wallets now number around 330,000.

The number of unique Ethereum (ETH) wallet addresses has broken 50 million on Saturday, Dec. 15, according to data from the ETH BlockExplorer Etherscan.

Number of unique Ethereum addresses on Dec. 15, 2018

Number of unique Ethereum addresses on Dec. 15, 2018. Source: Etherscan.io

On Saturday, the Ethereum network saw a daily increase of 168,506 unique crypto wallets, following a steady growing trend this year. With that, the highest historical daily growth of unique Ethereum addresses took place on Jan. 4, 2018, with 352,888 new addresses created on the Ethereum network.

Highest historical growth of unique Ethereum addresses on Jan. 4, 2018

Highest historical growth of unique Ethereum addresses on Jan. 4, 2018. Source: Etherscan.io

While the unique address growth chart indicates the number of existing crypto wallets, there is also an index that shows the number of active crypto addresses, representing the number of unique sending and receiving addresses carrying out transactions on a certain day, according to the daily cryptocurrency data website Coinmetrics.

Referring to data from BitInfoCharts, the number of active Ethereum addresses has been decreasing steadily in 2018. Having peaked at around 1.1 million on Jan. 4, 2018, the amount of active Ethereum addresses has dropped below one million in mid-January, and has fallen by around 70 percent over the year — to 328,400 addresses recorded yesterday, Dec. 16.

Number of active Ethereum addresses in 2018

Number of active Ethereum addresses in 2018. Source: BitInfoCharts

According to Blockchain.com, the latest recorded number of unique Bitcoin (BTC) wallets accounted for 364,387 on Dec. 15, down from around one million on Jan. 3, 2018. The number of active BTC addresses amounts to around 461,000 as recorded yesterday, Dec. 16. The highest amount of active Bitcoin addresses was registered on Dec. 14, 2017, with more than 1.13 million active wallets, according to BitInfoCharts.

Recently, Cointelegraph reported that the number of crypto users has grown by almost 50 percent in 2018, having gained around 17 million new ID-verified users.

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Circle CEO: In 3 Years Bitcoin is “Certainly Going to be Worth a Great Deal More Than It Is Today”

Despite the sharp drop in the price of Bitcoin (BTC) and the rest of cryptocurrencies, there are still good reasons to be long on Bitcoin. That’s what Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle said in an interview for CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Jeremy Allaire

For Mr. Allaire, the fact that there is a growing number of users is a sign of the core value of this cryptocurrency and is one of the reasons to think that at present, both Bitcoin and Ethereum are oversold.

Allaire is a firm believer that blockchain technologies will play an essential role in the way business will be conceived in the future. For the man behind Circle, the day when all valuable goods have a token running on the blockchain is near.

He also commented that from his viewpoint the United States has a robust regulatory system when it comes to the topic of crypto money, however, there is a need for greater clarity when discerning which cryptos are cataloged as commodities and which as securities.

There Are Plenty of Reasons to be Long on Bitcoin (BTC)

The CEO of Circle also explained that Bitcoin has a series of important characteristics that guarantee that its value will increase with time. For Allaire, the fact that it is an asset with worldwide appeal is something key to take into account when making predictions for the future beyond the temporary contraction that the markets are suffering.

“The key thing with bitcoin is [that] it’s unique in its security and scale. And as an idea that we need a scarce [and] non-sovereign store of value that individuals can hold, and hold in a protected fashion, [Bitcoin] is attractive all around the world.”

Circle Logo
Circle Logo

Allaire also commented that he does not dare to make concrete predictions regarding the future price of Bitcoin, especially considering that many have tended to fail, but he was confident to point out that at least in a period of three years “it’s certainly going to be worth a great deal more than it is today.”

Circle is a peer-to-peer payments technology company founded in 2013. It received over US$135 million in venture capital from 4 investment rounds from 2013 to 2016. On February 2018 Circle bought Poloniex for 400$ Million.

Mr. Allaire’s full interview is available here

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Blockchain Technology Can Solve User Data Privacy Issues

Lucy Wang believes that blockchain technology holds the key to the actualization of robust data security for the digital landscape. The Lambda co-founder made the call recently while talking about the recent Marriott Hotel data breach.

Data Breaches Aplenty

Breaches that end up compromising user data aren’t a new phenomenon on the internet. Almost every website with a significant volume of user information has fallen victim to hackers and other cybercrime syndicates.

Recently, Marriott International Hotel Group became the latest prominent name to admit being victims numerous data breaches. A statement released by the company said that as many as 500 million customers had been affected by multiple hacks beginning in 2014.

By the company’s admission, hackers successfully compromised user information such as credit card details, addresses, and even passport information. How could this happen? Well, all that data found its way unto centralized servers, providing a single point of failure that could be exploited by agents on the internet.

There are many within the decentralized technology landscape like Wang who believes that blockchain technology offers a solution to this problem. However, before going into such details, why should we even care?

Data is Valuable

Data is the currency of the digital economy, and as such, data is valuable. However, the present construct of the internet places user data in the hands of corporations that can pretty much do whatever they like with our precious information. They can sell them to the government (for surveillance) or to other companies (for targetted advertisements) both of which are horrible exploitation of user privacy.

In the process of shopping, browsing websites, watching YouTube videos, reading various social information on the e-commerce platform, the algorithm will secretly monitor our behavior, and also collect our various data. In a sense, “data and the algorithm “knows” us more than ourselves. They know that we prefer juice or cola, we like beautiful models or men with eight packs of abdominal muscles. Like this Marriott case also shows that under certain circumstances, “data and algorithms” could have the “control right” of our wealth.

Data giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu attract their attention by providing various information, services, and entertainment. And hotel giants like Huazhu and Marriott have our personal information and even bank card information. We have also seen that these “centralized” giants have used our data to earn hundreds of billions of dollars. We are not at all equal to the “centralized” giants.

Adopting Blockchain For Data Security

Under the centralized network, the giant almost has all of our private data, and the centralized internet has already relied heavily on the main-net. Whether it is academic or technical, these problems cannot be solved perfectly. In recent years, with the blockchain concept deeply rooted in people’s minds, the need to build a new decentralized network capable of subverting traditional client/server has gained more and more recognition.

However, most of the existing public chains are “ineffective” for data storage, TPS deficiency, cross-chain issues, governance issues, application development issues, etc. The nature of the blockchain is decentralized distributed ledger, and the data that can be stored is minimal (simple transaction records), other data cannot be efficiently stored. Therefore, in the absence of underlying data support, the actual use of the blockchain is significantly limited. More specifically, the decentralized storage of data is the most critical part of the future application of the blockchain.

To provide useful solutions to the problem, blockchain technology must of necessity, evolve with more robust and advanced features. Part of this improvement has to come at an algorithmic level like exists in projects like Lambda, with its Provable Data Possession (PDP) and Proofs of Retrievability (POR) protocols.

Recently, Ethereum World News reported the Project’s launch of the first ever Proof of Space-Time (PoST) protocol on GitHub. For Lucy Wang, the hope is that stakeholders become aware of the need to implement blockchain in data security frameworks to prevent further largescale data breaches.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Switzerland Working on Major Changes to Develop Pro-Crypto and Blockchain Legal Framework

The Swiss government has recently announced that it would take a new direction regarding its position on the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, working out a strategy to create an appropriate legal framework to allow such technologies to flourish.

In an official report released this Friday, the government recognized the importance of blockchain technologies as critical tools to promote the development of the country’s economy:

“(Blockchain Technologies are) among the remarkable and potentially promising developments in digitalisation. It is predicted that these developments have considerable potential for innovation and enhanced efficiency, both in the financial sector and in other areas of the economy.

Switzerland: Using Crypto and Blockchain Technologies to Boost Its Economy

The strategy seeks to incorporate the use of tokens in various sectors of the country’s politics and economy. One of the most significant proposals tries to clear away regulatory hurdles for trading securities (such as shares, bonds or real estate) on blockchain platforms.

Switzerland is one of the most important blockchain hubs in Europe. Not only have a significant number of startups with several hundred million dollars in investments been established, but the Swiss Central Bank itself has shown interest in the use of cryptocurrencies to promote the national economy.

The measures announced by the Swiss government attracted a positive reaction from investors and users. One example is Mattia Rattaggi, member of the Crypto Valley Association, who shared his impressions via email :

We feel that this approach best represents the principle of technological neutrality and is in line with the position taken by the CVA in the consultation process … Crucially, this approach ensures maximum consistency within the current legal framework while keeping it principle-based and flexible, while allowing changes to be adopted on a ‘need-to-regulate’ basis.

What is Switzerland Trying to Do?

According to Swissinfo, the innovations proposed by the Swiss government are quite numerous and will subsequently require hard work on the part of Swiss legislators to be shaped up as a holistic policy and not merely isolated changes:

  • Amend company bankruptcy laws to recognise data as an asset. This would allow courts to handle purely digital assets, and make sure they go to the right creditor, when sorting out insolvent firms.
  • Amend the Banking Act along the same lines as above in the case of a financial institution going bankrupt.
  • Amend the scope of the Anti-Money Laundering Act to cover decentralised exchanges with the power to dispose of third-party assets.
  • Create a “new authorisation category” for blockchain securities traders and exchanges to give FINMA discretion to apply a lighter touch when assessing the activities of such entities. Amend the Financial Market Infrastructure law and the Financial Institutions Act to “create more flexibility” for blockchain/DLT applications.
  • The finance ministry is already looking into a Collective Investment Schemes Act amendment to include a new category of funds (limited qualified investment funds L-QIFs) so that “new innovative products could be placed on the market more quickly and cost-effectively in the future”.
  • No immediate changes to financial laws for the insurance industry are immediately foreseen as blockhain/DLT is in its “infancy” in this sector.
  • The report also sees no reason to change any legislation with regards to cryptocurrencies.

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CEO of Coinflux Exchange Accused of Fraud and Money Laundering

Vlad Nistor

Vlad Nistor, CEO of Coinflux, was arrested by local authorities in his native Romania after the United States launched a formal investigation charging him with several crimes against American citizens.

According to local media, Ziar de Cluj report, in a loose translation, MrNistor used other online platforms to scam people via fraudulent sales and get personal information about the victims. Coinflux is not mentioned as a part of the scams:

“Two of these methods were run online via phishing or through various fictitious sale ads  (via Ebay or via online platforms.) For example, Romanians were sending e-mails using instant messaging programs or phone numbers where the user is advised to give confidential data to win certain prizes or was informed that they are necessary due to technical errors that led to loss of original data. A web address containing a clone of the site of a financial or trading institution was indicated in the e-mail.”

Coinflux is one of the most important exchanges in Romania, Mr. Nistor’s country of origin. According to data provided by the platform’s own website, so far more than 201 million Euros worth of cryptocurrencies have been traded in more than 203,000 transactions made by the nearly 20k registered users of the platform.

A Short Recount of What Happened

According to local media, the U.S. Justice Department accused Coinflux’s CEO of running a fraud scheme, committing computer fraud, leading an organized crime group and money laundering. Nistor was preemptively detained while awaiting a decision by the Bucharest Court of Appeals regarding his extradition.

Shortly after his arrest, the judges of the Bucharest Court of Appeals denied the extradition requested by the United States. Nistor was released under judicial control for a period of 30 days.

Nistor’s arrest affected the proper functioning of the platform. According to an article published on the Exchange’s official blog, Coinflux’s team mentions that due to the procedure under which its CEO is located, operations on the platform were temporarily interrupted:

“Unfortunately, our company’s bank accounts have been frozen, situation which affects the CoinFlux wallets as well. We are doing all possible efforts, along with our legal advisers, to make sure everyone who had money deposited in CoinFlux wallets gets it back.
Another unpleasant consequence of the investigation is the fact that our access to some parts of our platform has been restricted; thus we are unable to send this announcement through the usual communication channels: e-mail and website. Our expectation is that we will gain control back, within the next days.”

Until now it seems that Mr. Nistor’s situation has been clarified; however, there is still some uncertainty regarding the future of the platform. In a post published yesterday, the platform announced that it was taking action with the aim of refunding the funds to the bank accounts of its users.

 

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Ethereum Beats Bitcoin Cash’s Price for First Time Ever as Crypto Markets See Growth

A rare first in current market conditions saw Ethereum leave Bitcoin Cash behind in terms of USD price.

Cryptocurrency markets were showing signs of life today, Dec. 17, but the major focus was on Ethereum (ETH), which passed the price of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) for the first time.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Data from Cointelegraph’s price tracker, Coin360, CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap confirm the ongoing battle within the top ten altcoin assets, with ETH trading around $90.86 compared with BCH on $88.63 at press time.

Previously, BCH had traded above the market price of ETH since its creation in August 2017.

Bitcoin Cash/Ethereum 7-day price chart

Bitcoin Cash/Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinGecko

A contentious hard fork in November caused BCH to split into two chains, the second being Bitcoin Cash “Satoshi’s Vision,” now with the ticker BSV.

BSV’s price began to show inverse correlation with the majority of crypto assets, fluctuating according to activity in Bitcoin (BTC) markets before drifting downwards to almost match BCH in price by mid-December.

BCH and BSV currently occupy positions eight and nine respectively in the top cryptocurrencies by market cap.

Bitcoin itself meanwhile has managed to bounce off 15-month lows of $3,130 seen over the weekend to circle support around $3,200 earlier Monday.

A sudden uptick subsequently propelled prices $150 higher to close in on $3,470.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph

Trading sources remained uncertain about the chances of current levels holding, crypto expert Tone Vays warning in his latest market update Sunday that a collapse to at least $1,300 could be imminent.

Specifically, a close below the long-term 50-month moving average price for BTC/USD would trigger the extended downward spiral.

“Until we close below it, my probability of $1,300 remains a little bit lower; the […] we have a full candle below the moving average, it’s all over; we’re going to $1,300,” he told viewers.

Elsewhere in the top twenty, Litecoin (LTC) partly the daily gains at just over 9 percent to around $28.78, the uptick coming on the back of an announcement from accomodation booking website Travala that it would accept the altcoin.

Litecoin 7-day price chart

Litecoin 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph

EOS also saw large gains today, up more than 10 percent on the day to trade at around $2.16 at press time.

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Hong Kong’s New Regulation ‘Might’ Be Harmful for Local Crypto Industry, Experts Say

Hong Kong’s stricter rules for crypto businesses that force them to get licenses for trading might be harmful for the industry, local experts say.

New regulations for crypto-related companies, which Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) earlier announced, might prevent crypto entrepreneurs from entering the market. Expert comments on the situation were reported by business media Nikkei Asian Review on Monday, Dec. 17.

Timothy Loh, owner of a local law firm, told Nikkei that some entrepreneurs might decide not to participate in the new framework in order to “maintain their current shares in the market”. “The requirements of the SFC initiative may prove too burdensome for some operators,” he added.

Other speakers cited by Nikkei believe that higher trading costs could discourage institutional investors from entering the market, which could work against the plans to stabilize markets with their presence. However, the counter argument is that a stricter policy may lead to greater investor confidence, Nikkei notes.

The SFC first announced the new regulatory framework in November. The guidelines compared cryptocurrency exchanges to existing licensed providers of automated trading services, pointing out that they also need to protect investors.

Moreover, the SFC has major concerns about money-laundering cases and fraud, which have prompted the regulator to introduce new legislation. It will likely be applied to exchanges, traders, investment funds and other crypto-related businesses.

Under the new guidelines, investment funds are obliged to obtain a license from the SFC in the event that more than 10 percent of their assets consist of Bitcoin (BTC) or other cryptocurrencies. Moreover, in this case they will be allowed to sell products only to professional investors.

Before applying for a license, crypto entrepreneurs can participate in a “regulatory sandbox” to test their solutions.

The new regulation also refers to initial coin offerings (ICO), Nikkei reports. For example, all tokens have to fulfill the SFC’s requirements and are obliged to have existed for at least 12 months before an ICO is launched.

Hong Kong is known for its significantly more lenient approach towards cryptocurrencies in comparison to mainland China, which upholds an effective ban on crypto activities. According to a recent report published by CryptoCompare, the highest quantity of top exchanges is still located in Hong Kong (ten) and Singapore (11).

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Egypt’s Central Bank Conducting ‘Feasibility Studies’ Around Digital Currency Issuance

A sub-governor from the central bank of Egypt has said the entity is looking into issuing a blockchain-based digital currency.

The central bank of Egypt wants to introduce a digital version of the Egyptian pound to reduce costs, local English language news outlet Amwal Al Ghad reported Dec. 16.

Ayman Hussein, sub-governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), told an Abu Dhabi conference on Sunday that “feasibility studies” were currently ongoing.

In line with various authorities in the vicinity, Egypt believes a blockchain-based digital version of its fiat currency can help keep issuance and transaction costs to a minimum compared to coins and banknotes, Amwal Al Ghad notes.

The move is one step in the journey to a cashless society.

“A number of international institutions” are involved in the studies, Amwal Al Ghad reported Hussein as saying, “without disclosing names or specifying whether the anticipated currency would be traded for banks only or between banks and clients.”

Egypt has traditionally taken a highly risk-averse stance to decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), stepping up its public rhetoric since the country’s first crypto exchange launched in August 2017.

At the time, CBE reacted saying there was no “legislation or law” in force “allowing” such activities to take place, the Egypt Independent reported. The exchange, Bitcoin Egypt, was not able to be found online today at press time.

In January this year, the country’s top cleric meanwhile added to the anti-crypto stance, declaring Bitcoin trading forbidden in Islam, while an advisor subsequently told local daily Egypt Today that Bitcoin is “used directly to fund terrorists.”

The Turkish government has also warned over the incompatibility of Bitcoin trading and Islam, while a report in April from an Indonesian-based fintech startup concluded that the coin is “generally permissible” under Sharia law.