Posted on

Crypto Exchange Coinsecure Says Theft Probe Is Holding Up Refunds

Coinsecure is still unable to repay its customers following a debilitating theft last month, the India-based cryptocurrency exchange said over the weekend.

The exchange – which lost nearly 440 bitcoins in mid-April in an incident that has been publicly blamed on a “rogue” employee –  announced on April 29 that while it previously hoped to begin returning customer funds by this point, it remains unable to do so because of a police investigation.

The statement continued:

“When investigations are underway, we don’t have much of a say and do need permissions from the authorities to start the compensation process, which we are yet to receive. We will update you when we have definite dates around the start of the process.”

New contracts will be issued to all customers for both Indian rupees and bitcoin, Coinsecure went on to write, without elaborating.

Coinsecure previously blamed chief security officer Amitabh Saxena for allegedly exposed the exchange’s private keys while trying to distribute bitcoin gold, a cryptocurrency offshoot of bitcoin, to customers, as previously reported. At the time, chief executive Mohit Kalra said “our customers will be indemnified from our company’s funds,” but cautioned it might take time to recover the stolen coins.

The company later announced that if all of the stolen bitcoins were recovered, customers would be repaid fully in the cryptocurrency, but otherwise, they would be paid in a mix of bitcoins and rupees. In particular, Coinsecure announced that 90 percent of the funds would be repaid in rupees according to the price on April 9. At the time, the token was trading at under $7,000, but has rallied to just under $9,000 as of press time.

“Please do bear with us as we are working on multiple fronts to resolve the issues at hand at the earliest for our users,” this weekend’s statement explained.

Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Posted on

India To Get 30% Discount On Venezuelan Crude Oil If Paid For In Petro, Says Local Source

Venezuela will give India a 30 percent discount on crude oil, but only if India uses the state-issued Petro coin, according to an article published yesterday, April 29, from local Indian news outlet Business Standard.

News about the discount comes from crypto exchange Coinsecure CEO Mohit Kalra, who told Business Standard that the offer had been put forward by a team from Venezuela’s blockchain department in India last month:

“They are going to different countries and making offers. The offer that they have given to the Indian government is: you buy Petro and we will give you a 30 per cent discount on oil purchases.”

Business Standard reports that Coinsecure will sell Petro in India after negotiations with the Venezuelan blockchain team. According to Kalra, Coinsecure will also supply white label exchange solutions for Venezuela, meaning that all crypto traders will need to trade on their exchange:

“That would be run by their brand name, but the back-end will be us. We plan to provide them with 10-15 cryptocurrency players.”

A Venezuelan official “indicated they have received response from the private sector in India,” Business Standard notes.

The Petro, which was launched on Feb. 20 in a pre-sale that ended on March 19, has brought up questions internationally over its use in the global economy, especially in regards to the economic sanctions imposed on the country.

Business Standard notes that the Petro has reportedly raised more than $3.8 bln, with more than 127 countries participating in the pre-sale.

Posted on

Coinsecure May Refund in Rupees, Not Bitcoin After $3.4 Million Heist

Indian crypto exchange Coinsecure will pay back users following a $3.4 million theft last week – but there’s a catch.

According to a message posted Saturday on the exchange’s website, all of the balances held in Indian rupees are secure. But the 438.318 BTC stolen is currently being tracked and has yet to be recovered. And depending on the outcome of its investigation, those bitcoin-denominated funds may ultimately be paid out in rupees instead.

Coinsecure explained in its message:

“Through the course of the investigation, should we be able to recover all of our BTC, all our customers’ BTC holdings will be refunded as per the balance they held with Coinsecure. However, if recovery of siphoned BTC is not possible, then we will apply the lock in rates as of the 9th of April, 2018. 10% of the Coin Holding Balance will be refunded in BTC and 90% will be returned in [Indian rupees].”

As previously reported, Coinsecure has implicated its chief security officer for the incident and is said to have gone as far as requesting that Amitabh Saxena have his passport rescinded amidst the investigation. The exchange startup further blamed the CSO’s practices for putting the funds at risk in the first place.

On April 9, bitcoin’s price closed at $6,773.94. It has since rebounded, meaning that if Coinsecure is unable to salvage the lost bitcoins, users could suffer a more than 17 percent loss (as of press time) in holding value.

The exchange said in its statement that it is working with “global exchanges and experts” to locate the funds, and plans to release further updates next week.

Bitcoin and rupee notes image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Posted on

Bitcoin Exchange Implicates Employee In $3 Million Theft

India-based bitcoin exchange Coinsecure announced yesterday that 438.318 bitcoins worth $3.3 million were stolen from its service, allegedly due to the actions of a rogue employee.

According to a statement on the company’s website, the funds were lost as a result of the exposure of private keys, the cryptographic code that unlocks and moves blockchain-based assets, by the chief security officer of the company, Dr. Amitabh Saxena, in an attempt to distribute bitcoin gold (BTG), to its customers.

In a FIR (first information report) with the cybercrime unit in New Delhi, the company says, “We feel that he is making a false story to divert our attention and he might have a role to play in this entire incident.”

Speaking to CoinDesk, CEO of Coinsecure, Mohit Kalra, said the theft occurred at no fault of the company, rather “It was our CSO’s system which was compromised as he claims. The procedures he followed was never supposed to be done online in the first place.”

The company has also asked the cybercrime unit to seize Saxena’s passport to prevent him from absconding.

Speaking on the website, Coinsecure asked its customers to stand by the company in its efforts to recover the lost funds. Speaking to CoinDesk, Kalra called this as an “unfortunate event”.

He told CoinDesk:

“We are working day and night to resolve this. It might take time to recover the lost funds, but our customers will be indemnified from our company’s funds and we will relaunch much stronger.”

Crypto assets via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Posted on

Interview With India's Three Largest Exchanges: Cryptocurrency Ban Rumors are FUD

Earlier this week, many reports falsely suggested that the Indian government has banned cryptocurrency trading and the entire cryptocurrency market. Cointelegraph spoke to India’s three largest cryptocurrency exchanges, which unanimously stated that the cryptocurrency ban rumors are nothing more than FUD.

In an exclusive interview, executives at Coinsecure, Unocoin and Zebpay, the most widely utilized cryptocurrency trading platforms in the country with millions of users, unanimously stated that the document released by the Ministry of Finance was misinterpreted. The India Ministry of Finance reaffirmed that it intends to ban the usage of cryptocurrencies in financial crimes and illicit activities, but not ban cryptocurrencies in general. It is important to acknowledge that the use of cash or any currency in financial crimes is banned.

The mainstream media, especially outlets in India, interpreted the statement as a ban on cryptocurrencies and released premature reports claiming the government has banned the market. This week, on national television, India’s Finance Minister strongly refused cryptocurrency ban rumors.

Unocoin comments

Sunny Ray, the founder and president of Unocoin, told Cointelegraph:

“We are happy that the Finance Minister has recognized the importance and popularity of cryptocurrency, and has chosen to talk about it on budget day. As far as the exact content of what he said, we are largely neutral about it. However, we are pained to see his words being misinterpreted and misreported, by a section of the media.”

Ray emphasized that the statement of India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was misinterpreted by the media which reported it as a ban on cryptocurrencies when Jaitley simply noted that the use of cryptocurrencies in illegal activities will be prohibited and restricted. Also, Jaitley stated that Bitcoin is not a legal tender. But Bitcoin is not a legal tender in anywhere in the world. Legal tender implies that it is illegal not to accept a certain asset. It is certainly not illegal to not accept Bitcoin in Japan, the US, South Korea, and everywhere else globally.

Ray added:

“During question hour in Rajya Sabha on Jan. 2, 2018, the Finance Minister had made the exact same point, where he stated that, ‘Bitcoins or such cryptocurrencies are not legal tender.’ This has been the position taken by almost all governments around the world, and we regard this statement quite neutrally. It is our understanding that only currency notes and coins are legal tender. To extrapolate that to mean that such assets are ‘illegal’ is silly at best, and grossly irresponsible at worst.”

ZebPay comments

Sandeep Goenka, the co-founder of ZebPay, another major cryptocurrency exchange in India with millions of users on its mobile app alone, shared a similar sentiment as Unocoin’s Sunny Ray. Goenka stated that the India Blockchain Committee remains optimistic in regards to the statement released by India’s Finance Minister and that the media grossly misinterpreted his words.

Goenka further explained that local exchanges welcome the Indian government’s intention to eliminate the use of cryptocurrencies in criminal activities. Last year, Indian cryptocurrency exchanges assisted local enforcement in investigating into a bank theft that led to the loss of millions of dollars. As local exchanges have done in the past, they intend to continuously support the government in its crackdown on illicit activities surrounding cryptocurrencies. Goenka told Cointelegraph:

“Every citizen and business in this country should play their role in eliminating financing of illegitimate activities, regardless of whether such financing is done using legal tender, cryptocurrency, gold or any other medium. We welcome this move by the government and want to wholeheartedly support the government in this move. We encourage the government to work with our members, as we are committed to detect, report, and eliminate suspicious transactions in pretty much the same way as other institutions do.”

Coinsecure comments

Coinsecure CEO Mohit Kalra also reassured investors within the local cryptocurrency market that the government is not banning cryptocurrencies and it exchanges will operate as usual. Kaira advised customers not to be affected by the FUD and false reports issued over the past week.

“According to Mr. Jaitley, they will be stopping illicit activities happening using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For us, it’s business as usual. Would advise customers not to panic sell at lower rates,” Kaira told Cointelegraph.

Coinsecure COO Jincy Samuel emphasized that the cryptocurrency ban reports are nothing more than FUD, adding:

“This is in no way different from the various other statements given in the recent past. Nothing new has been determined. Just seems like a lot of unnecessary media FUD.”

Posted on

India Goes Bitcoin: Zebpay Will Add 500k Users Monthly by 2018

Indian Bitcoin exchange Zebpay is adding 200,000 users a month and is eyeing half a mln by the end of 2017.

In an interview with Forbes India, the exchange, which is one of the country’s ‘big names’ in Bitcoin along with Unocoin and Coinsecure, described recent market transformation as “crazy.”

“It is crazy now. But when we started Zebpay we had no idea the price would shoot up,” Zeb Ventures CEO and co-founder Saurabh Agrawal commented. “We were here to build a business model and not play the valuation game.”

In September Zebpay passed 1 mln downloads of its mobile app for Bitcoin trading, just three months after the 500,000 mark in May.

Unocoin has reported similar successes, with Indians increasingly turning to Bitcoin interaction in the face of currency shake-ups and bank bailouts.

On Wednesday Cointelegraph reported that the Indian government would provide aid to its ailing banking sector worth $32 bln, or 1.3 percent of its GDP.

“We are adding 2 lakh users a month,” fellow co-founder Mahin Goenka added. “After two months we will be adding 5 lakh users a month.”

Zebpay only provides trading via its app and doesn’t have an exchange website.

At the same time, alternative trading platforms such as p2p Localbitcoins continue expanding, the week ending Oct. 21 being the fifth busiest for its Indian market since it began operating in 2013. 54.1 mln rupees ($834,000) changed hands over the seven days.