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DASH, ETH, LINK: Top-3 Crypto Losers of the Week — Price Analysis

Two of the weakest performers of the past seven days are looking strong. What are the best levels to buy? Let’s look at the charts.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Market data is provided by HitBTC.

The short-term sentiment in the crypto community is one of uncertainty. Facebook’s Libra project, which was expected to attract millions of people to cryptocurrencies, is likely to face stiff regulatory hurdles. Likewise, various politicians around the world, including United States President Donald Trump are voicing their objections to cryptocurrencies.

Now, reports suggest that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is investigating whether BitMEX allowed U.S. residents to use its platform to trade. These developments have led to profit-booking in most cryptocurrencies. 

Total crypto market capitalization dropped from over $386 billion on June 27 to a low of just under $252 billion on July 17, which is a fall of 34.7%. Though this looks like a deep cut, we believe that it is a healthy correction as it comes after a sharp rally from close to $100 billion mid-December last year to $386 billion. 

Corrections are part and parcel of every uptrend. They offer a low-risk entry point to traders who have missed buying in the previous leg of the rally. We consider the current correction a buying opportunity. Therefore, we are starting a new series in which we analyze the charts of the top three losers of the past seven days among major cryptocurrencies. We will highlight the critical levels where the correction could end, and will also point out levels that will indicate a probable change in the trend. 

DASH/USD

Dash (DASH) rallied from a low of $58.49 on December 15 to a high of $188.5598 on June 26. That is a 222.37% gain in just over six months. The upside was that DASH ascended gradually and never entered a blow-out phase. This indicates that after the correction ends, we can expect bulls to start a new uptrend. In the long term, the current fall will put a higher low in place. 

DASH/USD

On July 16, the DASH/USD pair plunged below the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level of the entire rally from the lows. On the plus side, the break was temporary and bulls quickly reclaimed the level. This shows strong demand at lower levels. The pullback can now reach the downtrend line, which is likely to act as stiff resistance.

The next move lower will confirm whether a bottom is in place at $95.4264. If the pair rebounds off the support and rises above the downtrend line, it will indicate that the correction has ended. Traders can thereafter initiate long positions with stops placed below $95.

On the other hand, if the bears sink the price below $95.4264, it may result in a fall to $86.3249, which is the 78.6% Fibonacci retracement of the rally. This is the final support below which the fall will retrace the complete move. Therefore, traders should avoid bottom fishing if the support at $95 gives way.

ETH/USD

Ether (ETH) rallied from a low of $84.25 on December 15 last year to a high of $366 on June 26. That constitutes gains of 334.42% in just over six months. The subsequent correction has held the uptrend line, which is close to the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement of $191.879. This is a positive sign.

ETH/USD

The bulls are currently attempting to climb back above the overhead resistance of $224.086. If successful, the ETH/USD pair can rally to 20-day EMA, which is likely to act as a resistance. If the subsequent pullback bounces off $192.945, it will indicate a bottom. The price is thereafter likely to move up to $320.84. If this level is crossed, the next target is $366.

Conversely, if bears sink the pair below $191.879, it will signal weakness and a probable drop to the 78.6% Fibonacci retracement level of $144.545. Therefore, traders should avoid cherry-picking if support at $191.879 breaks down.

LINK/USD

Chainlink (LINK) started its uptrend on April 30, rallying from a low of $0.4320 on that day to a high of $4.5826 on June 29. That was a gain of 960.78% in two months. After such a scintillating run, profit-booking was to be expected.

LINK/USD

The pullback found support at the 50-day SMA, which is close to the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level of $2.0175. This is a positive sign. However, the bounce off the support is facing stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA.

Both moving averages have flattened out and the RSI is just below 50, which points to a consolidation in the near term. The LINK/USD pair might trade between the 20-day EMA and the 50-day SMA for a few days. If the pair breaks out of the 20-day EMA and the downtrend line, it will signal strength and traders can buy with stops placed below the recent lows. The rally may reach $3.3282 and above it $3.75.

Our bullish view will be invalidated if the price breaks down of $2.0175. The next support is at the 78.6% Fibonacci retracement level of $1.3202. However, the pair will lose momentum below $2.0175, hence — following the breakdown — traders should wait for a new buy setup to form before initiating long positions. 

Market data is provided by HitBTC.

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Israeli Citizen Accused of Stealing Over $1.7 Million in Crypto

A Tel Aviv resident has been arrested and accused of international phishing fraud, using a collection of websites to steal cryptocurrencies.

Eliyahu Gigi, a 31-year-old from Tel Aviv, has been charged with stealing over $1.7 billion in a variety of cryptocurrencies. Gigi allegedly stole BTC, Ethereum, and Dash from users in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. 

Lawyer Yeela Harel of the cyber department in the State Attorney’s Office filed charges against Gigi on July 17, according to a report published the same day by Globes. Gigi has reportedly been charged with crimes including theft, fraud, and money laundering, among others.

According to the report, Harel’s indictment claims that Gigi set up a network of scam websites to steal crypto through the use of malware. He is accused of using a number of methods to cover his tracks, including employing remote servers and shuffling the stolen funds around through different wallets. 

Gigi and his brother, a demobilized soldier, were reportedly arrested in June. The pair were suspected of being involved in international phishing fraud, but Harel moved to indict only Gigi.

The police apparently first began to look into Gigi when they received information suggesting that he was dropping scam links on digital wallet forums. According to the report, Gigi would link to a website that appeared to have a downloadable wallet manager. However, Gigi appeared to have collected and misappropriated users’ account credentials to steal their crypto.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, an employee at Microsoft was recently arrested on suspicion of stealing $10 million in crypto. Volodymyr Kvashuk allegedly stole and flipped crypto gift cards for Microsoft products, selling them for a profit to customers over the Internet.

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Venezuelan Petro Against US Sanctions: History and Use of the Crypto

Venezuela is leading the crypto peer-to-peer BTC trade market, despite government efforts to drive adoption of its oil-backed cryptocurrency, Petro.

For the entirety of cryptocurrency’s short history, Venezuela has been seen to be among the most striking example of the need for the utility. The South American country has hosted escalating political tension for years, as skyrocketing hyperinflation, electricity blackouts and shortages of vital food and medicine intensified popular discontent.

Venezuelan trade volume dominates P2P markets

Venezuelan peer-to-peer (P2P) markets have long been a leader in terms of volume, in part owing to widespread geo-blocking that targets Venezuelan citizens on the part of cryptocurrency exchanges. Recently, Binance announced that as of July 1, 2019, the residents of Venezuela and 28 other countries will be restricted from accessing Binance’s decentralized exchange platform.

Venezuelan trade has consistently comprised the second-largest market on P2P Bitcoin marketplace Localbitcoins, trailing only behind Russia. During the week of July 13, 2019, approximately 5,012 BTC changed hands — equating to 49,248,298,468 Venezuelan bolivar (approximately $5 million).

LocalBitcoins Volume in Venezuela

Origins of Venezuela’s economic crisis

Following former President Hugo Chavez’s death in March 2013, Venezuela’s current president, Nicolas Maduro, was elected to power in April 2013. The Democratic Unity Roundtable, an electoral coalition of Venezuelan political parties opposed to the policies of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, claimed that the election was fraudulent. However, the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled Maduro to be the country’s legitimate president. During 2013, Venezuela’s annual inflation reached a 16-year-high of 56.2%. Since Maduro’s election, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest corruption, hyperinflation, a scarcity of basic goods and violent coercion. 

Oil prices slump during 2014

From the start of 2014, the price of oil dropped roughly 60% from more than $100 per barrel. With crude oil equating to approximately 80% of Venezuelan exports, the plummeting price of oil drove the Venezuelan economy to enter a recession. 2015 saw Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela suffer defeat during parliamentary elections. However, Maduro vowed to “stop by hook or by crook the opposition coming to power, whatever the costs, in any way,” and replaced the country’s entire Supreme Court the following day. The following month, President Maduro consolidated executive control over all three branches of government amid decreeing a national “economic emergency,” effectively preventing the National Assembly from legislating.

During 2015, Venezuela experienced the highest rate of inflation in the world, with inflation exceeding 100% for the first time in the country’s history. The following year saw annual inflation reach 274%, while the price of consumer goods in Venezuela rose by 800%. A study published by Diario Las Americas approximated that more than 15% of Venezuelans were then regularly consuming food waste that had been discarded by commercial establishments.

During 2017, Venezuelan inflation was estimated to have skyrocketed to 2,000% annually. Victor Torres, a chauffeur living in the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, articulated the ordeal of attempting to make basic purchases under conditions of extreme hyperinflation to The Telegraph, stating: “The other day I went to buy a banana. In the morning it cost 1,900 bolivares and in the afternoon, 3,000. You can’t live this way. I am disappointed with politicians.”

Petro implementation timeline

Venezuelan inflation climbs to 130,000% in 2019

Following Venezuela’s May 2018 election, Maduro claimed to have won 67.8% of the ballot. However, the result was challenged by the governments of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, France and the United States — which described the election as failing to guarantee a free, fair and transparent democratic process, and subsequently moved to recognize Juan Guaido of the Popular Will party as the legitimate president of Venezuela. During October 2018, Venezuelan annual inflation was estimated to have reached 130,060%.

Since 2015, the United Nations estimates that 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country — roughly 12.5% of Venezuela’s current population.

Since the establishment of the Corruption Perceptions Index in 1995, Venezuela has been ranked among the world’s most corrupt regimes. In 2010, the index ranked Venezuela as the 164th-least transparent government of 178 nations, with Venezuela ranking 166th of 178 countries in 2016, and 168th of 180 nations in 2018. The World Justice Project also ranked Venezuela 99th out of 99 nations according to its 2014 Rule of Law Index, with the index currently ranking Venezuela 126th of 126 nations.

Economic sanctions

In addition to struggling to persevere the degrading economy and rampant political corruption, Venezuelan citizens also bear the brunt of sanctions imposed on the Latin American nation by the U.S. and other countries.

At the start of 2019, Alfred de Zayas, the first U.N. rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years, described U.S.-imposed sanctions as comprising “economic warfare.” The special rapporteur recommended that the International Criminal Court investigate the sanctions maintained by the U.S. as potential crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute, arguing that the sanctions are illegal due to their lack of endorsement from the U.N. Security Council. He stated:

“Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns. Twenty-first-century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees.”

Zayas’ findings were based on his late-2017 mission to the country that saw the rapporteur interview government ministers, members of the country’s opposing parties, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Venezuela, and local academics, activists and church officials. The criticisms of the economic sanctions have been echoed by numerous NGOs, with the president of Fundalatin, Eugenia Russian, stating:

“We consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States.”

President Donald Trump has recently threatened to intensify the sanctions currently imposed on Venezuela, stating that he will “continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy” while announcing support for the recognition of Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader in January.

Petro

In a bid to circumvent the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro announced plans to launch a cryptocurrency backed by the nation’s oil, gasoline, gold and diamond reserves during December 2017. The president claimed that the digital currency, named Petro (PTR), would allow the country to access “new forms of international financing.”

At the start of January 2018, President Maduro ordered the issuance of the first 100 million Petros, announcing that each Petro will be pegged to the value of one barrel of Venezuelan oil — equating the cryptocurrency’s capitalization to roughly $5.9 billion. Several days later, the opposition-run National Assembly criticized Petro, calling the digital currency “null and void.” Parliamentary Deputy Jorge Millan described Petro as fraudulent, stating: “This is not a cryptocurrency, this is a forward sale of Venezuelan oil. It is tailor-made for corruption.” He went on:

“We find ourselves before a new kind of fraud, disguised as a solution the (financial) crisis. This incompetent government wants to compensate for lack of oil production with these virtual barrels.”

At the end of January 2018, Maduro announced that cryptocurrency mining was a “perfectly legal” activity. The president also announced that citizens targeted during the prior year’s police crackdown on mining operations would have any related charges dismissed. On Jan. 30, 2018, Maduro’s administration published the white paper for the cryptocurrency.

On Feb. 8, 2018, Jose Vielma Mora, Venezuela’s minister of foreign trade and international investment, told the state-sponsored news outlet TeleSur that foreign investors would be willing to conduct trade in exchange for Petro, claiming that Poland, Denmark, Honduras, Norway, Canada and Vietnam were among the trading partners preparing to accept the controversial cryptocurrency as a means of payment.

Venezuela launched the presale for Petro on Feb. 20, 2018. 82.4 million Petros were made available in exchange for select fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies. Three days later, Venezuelan media claimed that the presale had raised $1 billion. On Feb. 24, the Venezuelan government launched a free cryptocurrency training course aimed at improving digital currency literacy for ordinary citizens.

Trump administration bans U.S. citizens from purchasing Petro

On March 19, President Trump barred American citizens from purchasing Petro by executive order. At a G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, stated:

“President Maduro decimated the Venezuelan economy and spurred a humanitarian crisis. Instead of correcting course to avoid further catastrophe, the Maduro regime is attempting to circumvent sanctions through the Petro digital currency — a ploy that Venezuela’s democratically-elected National Assembly has denounced and Treasury has cautioned U.S. persons to avoid.”

The U.S. Treasury Department described Petro as comprising an “attempt to prop up the Maduro regime, while further looting the resources of the Venezuelan people.” On March 27, Bitfinex announced that it would not support Petro in light of the U.S. sanctions against the cryptocurrency.

Venezuela promotes Petro adoption

During 2018, the Venezuelan government conceived several initiatives designed to bolster the adoption and perceived utility of Petro. In May 2018, Maduro announced the launch of a Petro-funded crypto bank that would support project proposals from the country’s youth. During July 2018, The Venezuelan minister of habitat and housing, Ildemaro Villarroel, announced a plan to fund the construction of houses for homeless citizens using the cryptocurrency. The following month, the president also announced that Petro would be used as a general unit of account in Venezuela, stating:

“As of next Monday, Venezuela will have a second accounting unit based on the price, the value of the Petro. It will be a second accounting unit of the Republic and will begin operations as a mandatory accounting unit of our PDVSA oil industry.”

Despite the announcements, during August 2018, Reuters reported that there was little indication of Petro’s presence in the oil-rich Venezuelan town of Atapirire. Despite comprising the sole town located in a region that the Venezuelan government estimates is home to 5 billion barrels of oil, Atapirire resident, Igdalia Diaz, told Reuters, “There is no sign of that Petro here.”

During the same month, the country’s former oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, estimated that Venezuela’s state-owned oil company did not possess the roughly $20 billion that he believed would be required in order to tap the nation’s oil reserves. Ramirez stated, “The Petro is being set at an arbitrary value, which only exists in the government’s imagination.”

Accusations of plagiarism

Ethereum Core developer Joey Zhou published a tweet on Oct. 2, 2018, asserting that the 11th page of Petro’s white paper contained an image plagiarized from the Github repository of Dash. Petro also opted to use the same X11 proof-of-work (PoW) mining algorithm as Dash. Zhou described Petro as comprising a “blatant Dash clone.”

On Oct. 5, 2018, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced that the fees for all passport applications would be exclusively payable in the form of Petro from Oct. 8 onward. The announcement was accompanied by a hike in the cost of passport applications, with new applications incurring a fee of 2 PTR and passport extensions priced at 1 PTR.

Venezuela launches Petro offering

Venezuela’s Ministry of Economy announced that Petro had been made available for purchase on Oct. 29, 2018. In an infographic published on Twitter, the token could be purchased from the Venezuelan Treasury from either the coin’s official website or from six government-authorized cryptocurrency exchanges: Bancar, Afx Trae, Cave Blockchain, Amberes Coin, Cryptia and Criptolago. The official Twitter account of the Petro indicated that investors were able to purchase the cryptocurrency using U.S. dollars, euros and Chinese yuan, in addition to Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether and Dash. 

During November 2018, the National Assembly of Venezuela approved a bill containing new cryptocurrency regulation. The bill sought to legitimate Petro as a unit of commercial exchange within the country. The same month saw the National Assembly pass amendments to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws to pave the way for Venezuelan cryptocurrency exchanges to conduct foreign exchange operations using Petro.

Venezuelan government official Andres Eloy Mendez described the amendments as being intended to combat the “financial and commercial blockade” being maintained by the U.S. government, adding that the cryptocurrency would allow the evasion of sanctions and facilitate new transnational business relationships.

Venezuela raises bolivar-value of Petro

On Nov. 30, 2018, President Maduro announced that the fiat-value of Petro had been raised from 3,600 bolivars to 9,000 bolivars amid extreme inflation, alongside ordering an increase in the monthly minimum wage by 150% — the sixth wage hike of that year.

During December 2018, the Venezuelan government moved to automatically convert its pensioners’ monthly bonuses into Petro. According to Caracas Chronicles, pensioners’ government payouts were withdrawn and converted into Petro after initially being deposited into fiat accounts hosted by government web portal patria.org.ve on Dec. 7, 2018. 

On Dec. 28, 2018, Venezuela filed a consultation request with the World Trade Organization (WTO) making a complaint regarding the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., describing five examples of “coercive trade-restrictive measures” that were imposed on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. 

With regard to “transactions in Venezuelan digital currency,” the complaint alleged that U.S. sanctions violated the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services by subjecting Venezuelan financial service suppliers to conditions “less favourable than that accorded to like services and service suppliers of WTO Member States not subject to the measures,” as well as conditions inferior to the treatment of “like domestic financial services and service suppliers.”

In February 2019, the Venezuelan government published a decree imposing regulations on cryptocurrency remittances within the country. The document revealed that the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (SUNACRIP) would be responsible for taxation pertaining to cryptocurrency transactions. 

The new regulations established a monthly limit on cryptocurrency regulations and imposed a maximum fee of 15% on cryptocurrency transfers alongside a minimum fee of roughly $0.28. Remittances in the form of Petro were capped at 10 PTR per month (equating to approximately $600), however, individuals and entities will be permitted to conduct up to 50 Petros worth of monthly trade with SUNACRIP approval.

Petro-active

During March 2019, the United States Treasury Department added Moscow-based Evrofinance Mosnarbank to its sanctions list, accusing the financial institution of comprising the “primary international financial institution willing to finance” Petro. The department stated:

“This action demonstrates that the United States will take action against foreign financial institutions that sustain the illegitimate Maduro regime and contribute to the economic collapse and humanitarian crisis plaguing the people of Venezuela.”

In May 2019, Venezuelan U.N. delegate Geneva Jorge Valero stated that Russia and Venezuela were discussing utilities for Petro amid agreements to settle trade using the Russian ruble. On July 4, 2019, President Maduro ordered the country’s leading bank, Banco de Venezuela, to open “Petro desks” and accept PTR at all of its branches.

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United States Residents Will Lose Access to Many Altcoins Starting in September

Many cryptocurrencies will be unavailable for trade in U.S. after Binance updates scheduled for September.

Crypto enthusiasts living in the United States will have no trading options for a many cryptocurrencies when the major crypto exchange Binance becomes unavailable for them in September, according to a report by CryptoPotato on June 14.

The report draws this conclusion based on the following table, which shows which cryptocurrencies will still available for U.S.-based traders after Binance discontinues its U.S. service:

Former Binance options in the U.S. on other crypto exchanges

Former Binance options in the U.S. on other crypto exchanges. Source: Goomba’s Twitter

The foregoing exchanges listed are Coinbase, Bittrex, Poloniex, Kraken, HuobiUS, and eToro.

The report also highlights that, in addition to the cryptocurrencies with no trading outlet in the U.S.—the all-white rows—there are also a number of tokens listed on only one exchange after Binance drops off, including ARK, BTT, IOTA, PIVX, and ZIL.

These “endangered” exchange tokens, as well as the (temporarily) extinct tokens, will likely witness a large drop in volume, according to the report.

However, veteran cryptocurrencies such as XRP, DASH, XLM, ETC, ZRX, and ZEN should survive Binance’s departure with little issue, since they are listed on four or more of the aforementioned exchanges.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, Binance updated its terms of use on June 14 to exclude trading on the platform in the U.S., which comes shortly after its announcement of a U.S.-exclusive fiat-to-crypto exchange.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) remarked on the recent changes, implying that the restructuring will be useful in the long run:

“Some short term pains may be necessary for long term gains. And we always work hard to turn every short term pain into a long term gain.”

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Is Bitcoin’s Increasing Anonymity a Threat to Privacy Coins?

Bitcoin’s privacy is getting better, but does it pose an existential threat to anonymous cryptocurrencies?

It’s no secret that Bitcoin isn’t actually anonymous, despite what various outside observers of crypto might claim. It is, in fact, pseudonymous, as its transactions are vulnerable to being traced to specific individuals by governments and intelligence agencies with enough determination and knowhow. However, in recent months, the privacy it offers users has been steadily increasing, given that a number of coin-mixing services and add-ons are successfully providing more and more users with the anonymity that Bitcoin itself doesn’t quite furnish on its own.

But with Bitcoin’s improving privacy, the possibility emerges that it could end up weakening the position of dedicated privacy coins, such as Monero, Zcash and Dash. If Bitcoin offers anonymity and also a superior store of value, it could potentially cause the popularity of such altcoins to wane to the point where they see less usage, less community support and less growth. In other words, it’s possible that Bitcoin is becoming an existential threat to such privacy-enhancing coins.

However, not only would this be a worst-case scenario, but developers on both the Bitcoin and altcoin sides of the equation believe that it’s highly unlikely. On the one hand, numerous privacy coins offer technological advantages over Bitcoin, even when Bitcoin is benefiting from mixing services. But on the other, the cryptocurrency market is not a zero-sum game, and there is enough space for more than one coin to maintain popularity and a wide user base, especially because Bitcoin — even with enhancements — still isn’t as private as certain rivals.

Bitcoin’s march toward greater privacy

As anyone who followed the Silk Road/Ross Ulbricht saga knows, Bitcoin transactions and wallet addresses can be pinned to particular people, given enough detective work. In 2014, for instance, researchers at Pennsylvania State University managed to map the IP addresses of over 1,000 Bitcoin wallets, doing so by analyzing the Bitcoin network’s data flow and looking for isolated transactions from single IP addresses. It has also been suggested via leaks that the National Security Agency (NSA) can identify Bitcoin users by processing internet traffic in bulk.

But while this suggests that Bitcoin’s privacy isn’t perfect, a range of services and plug-ins have been made available over the year that ramp up its protection of user identities. And one of these — CoinJoin — recently celebrated its first-ever 100-person transaction, which was facilitated by the privacy-focused Wasabi Wallet. For those who aren’t familiar with such mixing protocols, they basically combine numerous Bitcoin payments into a single transaction, so that it becomes difficult to disentangle who exactly sent what and to whom.

According to the Wasabi Wallet, mixed transactions constituted 4.09% of all Bitcoin transactions as of April, with the total having increased by over 300% in only nine months. It would therefore seem that mixers are becoming more popular and are getting better at mixing larger numbers of transactions together. Combined, this could create a virtuous circle, with improved services attracting more users, and more users leading to improved privacy.

Mixing services such as CoinJoin aren’t the only emergent tech that Bitcoin is likely to use to increase the privacy it offers the public. For one, there’s also Dandelion, which according to its GitHub page is “a transaction routing mechanism that provides formal anonymity guarantees.” It does this by preventing deanonymization, which occurs when a bad actor uses the delay in the transmission of transactions to the Bitcoin network to link these transactions to IP addresses. Put simply, it removes the risk of this by routing transactions over randomly selected paths, so that they can’t be linked to specific IP addresses when being transmitted to the network. And according to its authors (who include researchers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Illinois), by doing this it “provides near-optimal anonymity guarantees among schemes that do not introduce additional encryption mechanisms.”

Alternatively, there’s also MimbleWimble, a protocol that uses a combination of zero-knowledge proofs and mixing to enable “transactions that are completely opaque but can still be properly validated.” It has already been implemented by the new altcoin grin, and it’s likely that some implementation of it could become an optional extra for Bitcoin in the future. And even if it isn’t, one new privacy-enhancing technology that almost certainly will be added to Bitcoin in the near future is Schnorr signatures. Primarily, these improve Bitcoin’s scalability by aggregating multiple transaction signatures into one, but they also have positive privacy implications, since they make it easier and cheaper to use mixing services such as CoinJoin.

Taken as a whole, the addition of these new technologies will make Bitcoin considerably more private, and because it already has a head start over dedicated privacy coins in terms of users and its value, this could result in the likes of Monero, Zcash and others being pushed to the sidelines. It’s worth pointing out, for example, that since the beginning of the year, Bitcoin has risen by roughly 108% in value, from approximately $3,733 to around $8,000. By contrast, Monero — the most valuable privacy coin by market cap — has risen by roughly 86% over this same period, from $45.90 to roughly $90. Bitcoin is therefore still continuing to attract more investment and more interest, and it’s likely that this could work in its favor as it adds more privacy-enhancing features in the future.

Picture 1

Bitcoin developers agree with this view, suggesting that the cryptocurrency’s much wider pool of users could make it more private than its privacy-focused rivals, at least in practice, as Bitcoin Core developer Ryan Havar told Cointelegraph:

“A lot of the privacy coins offer better ‘technological’ advantages, yet from a practical point of view can be a lot less private. Simply put, there’s a lot more bitcoin users, and use cases. So if you can ‘hide’ in the crowd of bitcoin users, it’s a much bigger crowd than say ZCash.”

Banning privacy

In addition to Bitcoin’s improving privacy, a crackdown has been launched against privacy coins in various corners of the globe. For instance, in March, the French National Assembly’s finance committee proposed a ban on anonymous cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Zcash, with the committee’s head, Eric Woerth, addressing the subject in the proposal’s forward, which translates to read:

“It would also have been appropriate to propose the prohibition of the dissemination and trade of crypto-assets to guarantee complete anonymity by preventing, by their design, any identification procedure. This is the case of a number of crypto-assets (Monero, PIVX, DeepOnion, Zcash…) whose purpose is to circumvent any possibility of identification holders. To date, regulation has not gone so far.”

This proposal was only one instance in a range of actions and developments that will potentially hurt privacy coins, or at least limit their use. The South Korean exchange Korbit delisted five privacy coins in May 2018, following in the footsteps of the South Korean government’s ban of anonymous cryptocurrency transactions.

Also in May that year, the Japanese exchange Coincheck delisted four privacy coins, while the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association recommended that its members follow suit. And like their South Korean counterparts, these bodies acted in this way in response to new government guidelines, which effectively banned such coins.

There are also bans or inklings of bans on anonymous transactions in other nations and areas, such as Taiwan, the Netherlands, the Europmean Union, and even the United States (or at least, Texas). In theory, such prohibitions will hurt privacy-enhancing add-ons for Bitcoin, as indicated by how mixing service Bestmixer was shut down by Europol in May.

However, many add-ons are open-source and decentralized, and so can’t be shut down in any obvious way. In addition, Bitcoin can still continue to operate legally even if anonymizing services or protocols are outlawed, while anonymity is built into Monero, Zcash and their ilk, meaning that they’ll be targeted directly by authorities. As such, it’s likely that more users will be driven toward Bitcoin, since they’ll know they can use it on any regulated exchange, and that they can still make occasional use of additional privacy features whenever might they need them.

Light vs. heavy privacy

Overall, the situation doesn’t look too good for privacy coins, although with Monero still being the 13th most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap, you’d struggle to find any immediate proof of a decline in favor of Bitcoin, even if it was the ninth most valuable crypto in early November.

But while there’s a possibility that Bitcoin might take away some of the edge from anonymous cryptocurrencies, it’s not necessarily the case that Monero, Zcash and other coins will even come close to fading into obscurity.

Asked whether the recent 100-person CoinJoin on Wasabi Wallet was a sign that Bitcoin would make privacy coins irrelevant, Havar replied, “No, not really. Firstly, it’s not zero-sum, and I doubt Wasabi will be widely used as it’s expensive and opt-in.”

More damningly, experts associated with privacy coins argue that, while they boost Bitcoin’s privacy to an extent, protocols such as CoinJoin don’t really come close to providing the kind of anonymity offered by the privacy coins. For example, Ian Miers, a Zcash founding scientist, explained to Cointelegraph via email that CoinJoin doesn’t make it impossible — or even especially difficult — to link Bitcoin transactions to specific identities:

“CoinJoin does not offer meaningful privacy for customers and companies. Zcash shielded transactions do. Coinjoin effectively adds a small amount of uncertainty over the source of funds. In effect, it adds some noise. However, it is very easy to remove this noise by looking at multiple transactions and patterns. In fact, most of AI and machine learning is extracting signals from noise and it keeps getting better.”

Miers doesn’t stop there, going on to suggest that mixing services like CoinJoin can’t prevent the profiling and tracking of users:

“For example, if a Starbucks accepted payments using CoinJoin, one could still learn how many customers they serve each week and how much they spent. If a democracy activist solicited donations on a pseudonymous Twitter account using CoinJoin they could easily be identified and detained. If they cash out through an exchange controlled or compromised by a hostile government, then their identity can be learned simply by them being paid multiple times by that government.”

“These are not reasonable issues for a privacy system to have,” Miers concludes, adding that CoinJoin doesn’t scale very well at the present moment in time, is expensive if used extensively, and would clog the Bitcoin blockchain if adopted by a majority of BTC holders. And while defenders would point to Schnorr signatures, Dandelion and even MimbleWimble as future hopes for bitcoin’s privacy, it’s worth remembering that these aren’t close to being implemented yet.

And from one perspective, this is unfortunate, because even if some might suppose that cryptocurrencies need to be absolutely transparent in order to legitimize themselves, it’s arguable that the reverse is necessary if Bitcoin or any other crypto is to become a bonafide and widely used currency — especially when privacy is becoming an important concern for an increasing number of people. Regarding this, Bitcoin Core developer Nicolas Dorier believes that:

“The need for privacy is growing as a counter reaction to repression. When a user once get his coins on some exchange frozen without any recourse, when his exchange is over complying from fear of regulators, the only defense this user has is to mix his coins for the next time. This distrust the user has on exchanges and payment processors is the source of appeal to privacy.“

Havar agrees with Dorier’s views:

“I think improving bitcoin’s privacy is important for its survival. The lack of privacy directly attacks bitcoin fungibility, which is what makes bitcoin a useful currency.”

This lack of fungibility could be a big problem for Bitcoin as it moves forward and tries to make the all-important jump to mainstream use. But on the other hand, it could be a boon for privacy coins, which, despite being curtailed on a number of exchanges, could end up being widely used as actual currencies, rather than primarily as digital assets.

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New Malware Campaign Spreads Trojans Through Clone Crypto Trading Website

A new website spreads crypto-stealing malware by imitating the website Cryptohopper, a legitimate website where users can program tools for automatic trading.

Twitter user and malware researcher Fumik0_ has discovered a new website that spreads cryptocurrency malware, according to a report by Bleeping Computer on June 5.

According to the report, the host for transmitting these viruses is a website that imitates the website for Cryptohopper, a website where users can program tools to perform automatic cryptocurrency trading.

When the scam site is visited, it reportedly automatically downloads a setup.exe installer, which will infect the computer once it runs. The setup panel will also display the logo of Cryptohopper in another attempt to trick the user.

Running the installer is said to install the Vidar information-stealing Trojan, which further installs two Qulab trojans for mining and clipboard hijacking. The clipper and miners are then deployed once every minute in order to continuously collect data.

The Vidar information-stealing trojan itself will attempt to scrape user data such as browser cookies, browser history, browser payment information, saved login credentials, and cryptocurrency wallets. The information is periodically compiled and sent to a remote server, after which the compilation is deleted.

The Qulab clipboard hijacker will attempt to substitute its own addresses in the clipboard when it recognizes that a user has copied a string that looks like a wallet address. This allows cryptocurrency transactions initiated by the user to get redirected to the attacker’s address instead.

This hijacker has address substitutions available for ether (ETH), bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), dogecoin (DOGE), dash (DASH), litecoin (LTC), zcash (ZEC), bitcoin gold (BTG), xrp, and qtum.

One wallet reportedly associated with the clipper has received 33 BTC, or $258,335 at press time, via the substitution address ‘1FFRitFm5rP5oY5aeTeDikpQiWRz278L45,’ although this may not all have come from the Cryptohopper scam.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, a YouTube-based crypto scam campaign was discovered in May, luring in victims with the promise of a free BTC generator. After users ran the alleged BTC generator, which was automatically downloaded by visiting the associated website, they would be infected with a Qulab trojan. Then, the Qulab trojan would attempt to steal user information and run a clipboard hijacker for crypto addresses.

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Bitcoin Drops Below $8K, Stocks See Volatility Amid Global Trade Tensions

Virtually all of the top cryptocurrencies are today seeing deep red in a market-wide correction.

Tuesday, June 4 —  virtually all of the top cryptocurrencies are today seeing deep red in a market-wide correction, with bitcoin (BTC) dropping back below the $8,000 price point, as Coin360 data shows.

Market visualization

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Having bullishly broken through the psychological price point of $9,000 at the end of May, bitcoin has gradually corrected downwards in subsequent days. To press time, the top coin is trading at $7,950 — roughly 6.7% down on the day and losing its hold on the $8,000 mark, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Bitcoin’s sharp tumble started very early trading hours, with the coin swiftly dropping from roughly $8,500 at midnight to around $8,000 by 1:00AM (UTC+1). Since then, the cryptocurrency has brushed an intraday low of roughly $7,865 before slightly regaining ground before press time.  

On the week, the cryptocurrency’s losses have reached 8.78%.

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Largest altcoin by market cap ether (ETH) has seen a loss of 6.36% on the day to press time to trade around $247. Ether has today correlated with bitcoin’s price tumble, losing value during very early trading hours. On its 7-day chart, the alt has seen jagged volatility, breaking above $285 on May 30, then seeing seeing a sharp correction back to $250,before reclaiming the $260-70 range.

Ether is reporting an 8.7% loss on the week.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

XRP has reported a 7% loss on the day to trade at $0.41 by press time. While holding its ground on the XRP-BTC chart, XRP has lost sharply against the U.S. dollar over the past 24 hours. On the week, XRP’s losses stand at a milder 3.53%.

XRP 7-day price chart

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top ten cryptocurrencies at press time, all are in the red except for eighth-largest coin bitcoin sv (BSV), which has reported a 3% gain on the day to trade around $221.

The highest 24-hour loss has been reported by 6th largest crypto eos (EOS), which is down 9.36% to trade at $6.70 by press time. Bitcoin cash (BCH), litecoin (LTC) and stellar (XLM) are all down between 7-8% on the day.

Widening out to the top twenty, all further coins are red. 18th largest coin tezos (XTZ) has seen the highest loss, down 10.25% to trade at $1.31 by press time. Tron (TRX), iota (MIOTA), neo (NEO) and nem (XEM) are all reporting losses of between 8 and 10% on the day.

Ethereum classic (ETC) and dash (DASH) are meanwhile seeing milder losses of 4.2 and 5.5% respectively.

To press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is at around $254.29 billion — as compared with an intraweek high of $286.55 billion on May 30. Bitcoin dominance is at 55.8%.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies. Source: CoinMarketCap

According to data released by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission yesterday, the number of open contracts for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) bitcoin (BTC) futures ostensibly hit at an all-time high for the week from May 27 to June 3.

Analytics firm Delphi Digital has meanwhile argued that bitcoin has been outperforming weaker traditional risk assets, with the latter seeing selling pressure amid waning sentiment for economic growth in 2019 and United States-China trade tensions.

In traditional markets, U.S. stock index futures opened slightly higher this morning, with Dow futures rising 9 points — indicating a positive open of more than 52 points — as of 01.45 a.m. ET, CNBC reported. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq reported similarly slight gains.

Yesterday, St. Louis Federal Reserve president James Bullard revealed that a U.S. interest rate cut “may be warranted soon” in light of the risks to economic growth presented by international trade feuds as well as weak domestic inflation.

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Bitcoin Breaks $9,000 In Latest Landmark Price Point

In the latest milestone of its renewed bull run, bitcoin today broke past $9,000, soaring to its highest price point in over a year.

Thursday, May 30 —  in the latest milestone of its renewed bull run, bitcoin (BTC) today broke past $9,000, soaring to its highest price point in over a year. Most of the top 50 cryptocurrencies are seeing solid green, as Coin360 data shows.

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Bitcoin broke the psychological price point of $9,000 earlier today, hitting a high last seen in early May 2018. To press time, the top coin is up 1% on the day and is trading at $8,802, according to CoinMarketCap data. In recent days, bitcoin had been comfortably trading in the $8,600-800 range.

On the week, the cryptocurrency’s gains have surged to a bullish 14.5%.

 

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Largest altcoin by market cap ether (ETH) has seen a gentle gain of 2.25% on the day to press time to trade around $279. Ether has correlated with bitcoin’s price surge, breaking above $285 earlier today. The altcoin last traded in a similar range in the first week of September 2018.

Ether has sealed a strong 16.7% gain on the week.

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

XRP has reported a 2% gain on the day to trade at $0.46 by press time. The asset has seen positive upward momentum since May 27, and has capped a gain of above 21% on the week.

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top ten cryptocurrencies at press time, seven are in the green. The three outliers — eos (EOS), litecoin (LTC) and native exchange token binance coin (BNB), ranked fifth, sixth and seventh largest coins by market cap respectively — are all reporting slight losses of below 1%.

A major outlier in a green direction is eighth largest coin bitcoin SV (BSV), which has seen an almost 11% gain on the day to trade at $201.78 to press time. Other top ten cryptos are reporting gains of up to 2% on the day.

The co-founder of cryptocurrency investment holding firm Primitive Ventures Dovey Wan has claimed that fake news circulating in China may be responsible for bitcoin sv’s sudden recent price surge.

Widening out to the top twenty, two further coins are seeing red — dash (DASH), which has seen a negligible 0.2% loss, and iota (MIOTA), which has reported a more sizeable loss of 5.6%. The highest gain has been secured by 16th largest crypto cosmos (ATOM), which has surged 23.35% on the day to trade at $5.85 by press time.

Ethereum classic (ETC), neo (NEO) and nem (XEM) — ranked 18th, 19th and 20th respectively — have all seen above average gains, of 2.7%, 3.4% and 5.8% each. Other coins are seeing 24-hour gains of below 2%.

To press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is at around $277.87 billion — having brushed $286 billion earlier today — with bitcoin dominance at 55.7%.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies. Source: CoinMarketCap

In a tweet today, Shapeshift CEO Erik Voorhees contrasted bitcoin’s price performance with the tulip bubble — which is usually cited as a pejorative comparison by cryptocurrency skeptics. Voorhees remarked:

“Tulips never re-emerged to hit new ATH’s.  Bitcoin does it every couple years. Anyone equating the two needs to explain this discrepancy.”

As Cointelegraph reported today, United States copyright archive data indicates that Wei Liu, a Chinese citizen residing in California, claimed copyright to bitcoin’s (BTC) white paper on May 24.

In other crypto news, Russian-developed encrypted instant messaging service Telegram has officially released a test client for its Telegram Open Network (TON).

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Top 5 Crypto Performers: BSV, BNB, LTC, BCH, DASH

Can the top five performers of the past week extend their rally?

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

Instant messaging service Telegram reportedly plans to launch its Telegram Open Network (TON) in the third quarter of this year. It has created a new programming language called Fift, which will help develop and manage TON blockchain smart contracts and interact with the TON Virtual Machine.

On the other hand, Facebook is allegedly planning to launch its own cryptocurrency in early 2020. The company expects its large user base to start using its cryptocurrency in a dozen countries for making purchases, transferring money and more. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, has reportedly discussed the project with U.S. Treasury officials along with Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England.  

Bitcoin bull Michael Novogratz believes that one of the crypto assets created by the above-mentioned companies is likely to be successful and can even have a “chance to be a real currency.” He also reiterated that the “crypto winter is over” in comments this week. And, according to token rating platform ICObench, the ICO sector is showing a higher success rate as the sentiment improves.

BSV/USD

Bitcoin sv (BSV) was the best performer among the major cryptocurrencies with a rally of above 60% in the past seven days. The boost came amid the news that nChain founder Craig Wright had filed United States copyright registrations for the Bitcoin white paper and the original code used to build Bitcoin. However, the bitcoin community and a few experts do not consider this to be an important event that can alter the fortunes of bitcoin sv. But what do the charts project? Let us find out.

BSV/USD

The BSV/USD pair skyrocketed this week and reached the overhead resistance of $134.360. However, profit booking and selling just above this resistance resulted in the pair giving up a large part of its gains. The cryptocurrency should find some support at the current levels, failing which, the drop can extend to $82.489 and lower.

While the sharp up move from the lows shows buying at lower levels, the failure to hold onto the gains shows a lack of demand at higher levels. The pair will pick up momentum on a close (UTC time frame) above $134.360 and will weaken below $38.528. Until then, it is likely to remain range bound between these two levels.

BNB/USD

Binance coin (BNB) has been one of the strongest performers among the major coins: it has consistently made new highs and is in a strong uptrend. Riding high on its success, cryptocurrency exchange Binance is reportedly planning to offer margin trading to its clients. The exchange is also giving away $1,000 of $ONE tokens to celebrate the launch of the forthcoming token sale. How far can the rally continue? Let us find out.

BNB/USD

The BNB/USD pair is in a strong uptrend and has picked up momentum after breaking out of previous lifetime highs. Earlier, the resistance line had acted as a major roadblock, but the bulls are currently attempting to breakout of it. If successful, the rally can extend to $40 and above it to $46.1645899, which is a 1.618 Fibonacci extension level.

But the rally is getting vertical and the RSI on the weekly charts is threatening to enter deeply overbought territory. This shows that the up move has been overdone in the short-term, and that a minor correction or consolidation can start between $40 and $46.1645899.

LTC/USD

Litecoin (LTC) is benefitting from the positive sentiment in the crypto space, and the forthcoming halving has added to the bullishness. A series of tweets by OKEx pointing to some kind of an announcement regarding Litecoin has also heightened interests. Can the upward move continue?  

LTC/USD

The LTC/USD pair has completed a cup and handle reversal pattern that has a minimum target objective of $158.81. If the momentum continues, the upward move can extend to $172.647. The moving averages completed a bullish crossover a couple of weeks back and the 20-week EMA is sloping up: this shows that the bulls have the upper hand.

Our bullish view will be invalidated if the cryptocurrency fails to sustain the breakout and dips below the support of $91 once again. The support levels to watch on the downside are $84.3439, $74.6054 and below it to $60.1980.

BCH/USD

Two miners who control about 43% of the bitcoin cash (BCH) mining pool, BTC.top and BTC.com, joined hands this week and executed a 51% attack to stop an unknown miner from taking coins that were accidentally sent to “anyone can spend” addresses. In this case, the attackers did not carry out the 51% attack for their own benefit, but still some believe that it shows that the cryptocurrency is too centralized. How does its chart look?

BCH/USD

The BCH/USD pair is currently rising inside an ascending channel. It has crossed above both the moving averages, which is a positive sign. The bulls are facing selling at the resistance line of the channel, but the positive thing is that the pair has not given up ground. If the price holds above the 50-week SMA, we should see another attempt to breakout of the channel. If successful, a rally to $620 is probable.

On the contrary, if the bulls fail to scale the resistance line of the channel, the digital currency can dip to the support line of the channel, closer to $300. A breakdown of this support will break the trend.

DASH/USD

Dash (DASH) released its latest version 0.14 on the mainnet, which is another step leading to version 1.0, dubbed evolution. The upgrade improves the security of the network against 51% mining attacks, the first for proof-of-work networks, according to Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor. An analysis by Cryptoslate shows that DASH has seen a growth of 58% in the active address count from 2018 to 2019, the largest growth among the major coins. This was reportedly mainly due to the surge in usage in crisis-hit Venezuela.

DASH/USD

The DASH/USD pair has been facing resistance at $176.81 since the past week, and a breakout of this barrier will propel the pair to the next level of $229.24. We expect the bulls to again face selling at these levels. Currently, both the moving averages are on the verge of a bullish crossover and the RSI is in the positive territory. This shows that the bulls are at an advantage.  

However, if the digital currency turns down from $176.81, it might enter into a consolidation. The support of the range will be at $107.36, and a break of this support will be a bearish sign.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. Charts for analysis are provided by TradingView.