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This Rare ‘Physical’ Bitcoin Can Be Yours for $99,000

The “collector’s must have” is a Casascius brass token that has the private key for one bitcoin embedded inside, the seller claims.

A physical bitcoin (BTC) is selling on eBay for $99,000, a listing on July 6 shows.

The seller claims the “collector’s must have” is a Casascius brass token that was created in 2011.

According to the listing, the physical coin is loaded with one BTC that has not been redeemed, and all of the seals remain intact.

Payment can be made in crypto or cash, and the seller says they will also consider trading it for real estate. However, the listing adds that “Cars and boats = no.”

The seller says they made the purchase back in 2012 and have kept it in their safe since then, adding: “Only a few hundred remains in the ENTIRE world.”

Casascius bitcoins were invested by a crypto enthusiast in the early 2010s as a collectible that contained real cryptocurrency. The man behind the concept stopped selling them in November 2013.

The private key for the bitcoin is embedded inside the physical coin on a card protected by a tamper-evident hologram.

According to a website dedicated to tracking Casascius coins, 15,586 coins with a denomination of 1 BTC have been produced, 4,651 of which have been opened to date.

Quirky listings relating to crypto have appeared on eBay before. Back in March, the owner of a startup that never launched its initial coin offering attempted to sell the project on the e-commerce website for $60,000.

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Hodler’s Digest, May 13–19: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week

Bitstamp processed a very large sell order, while Bakkt’s bitcoin futures should be tested in July.

Top Stories This Week

Coming every Sunday, the Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions, and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Bitstamp Starts Investigation After Large BTC Sell Leads to $250 Million Liquidated on BitMEX

Major crypto exchange Bitstamp launched an investigation this week after a large bitcoin (BTC) sell order heavily impacted its order book. Bitstamp reported on the execution of the large bitcoin sell order from BTC to United States dollars, without specifying themselves the details of the transaction. Other crypto media noted that it involved a sell order that led to a liquidation of $250 million long positions on the BitMEX exchange with 5,000 BTC sold at $6,200, which further resulted in price declines on other crypto exchanges. Some crypto commentators suggested that the sell order could be made by mistake, with the order’s owner having meant to sell his/her bitcoin at $8,200 instead of $6,200.

Flexa Launches App Where Shoppers Can Spend Crypto at 15 Major U.S. Retailers

Payments startup Flexa unveiled an app this week that allows consumers to spend cryptocurrencies at major American retailers. The app, called Spedn, is currently set up to work with retailers including Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, GameStop, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, Office Depot and Whole Foods Market, with more stores to be added in the coming months. Stores that aren’t able to accept cryptocurrency will require the crypto to be instantly converted to fiat when an item is purchased. As of now, purchase on Spedn can be made with bitcoin, ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH) as well as the gemini dollar (GUSD) stablecoin.

U.S. SEC Delays Decision on Bitwise Bitcoin ETF, Seeks Public Comment

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has again delayed its decision to approve or disapprove cryptocurrency index fund provider Bitwise Asset Management’s bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) application. In this week’s filing, the SEC also noted that it requested public comment from interested parties, asking for “written submissions of their views, data, and arguments with respect to the issues identified above, as well as any other concerns they may have with the proposal.” Bitwise had initially filed for an ETF in February, under the condition that the SEC would reach a decision in 45 days, with its application differing from others in that it draws prices from a variety of cryptocurrency exchanges, with the aim of better representing the market.

Bakkt to Roll Out First Bitcoin Futures Testing in July 2019

Institutional crypto exchange Bakkt plans to roll out testing for bitcoin futures trading in early July 2019, according to its CEO, Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler noted in a Medium post this week that Bakkt is working with both the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures U.S. exchange and ICE Clear U.S. clearing house to prepare the first testing of bitcoin futures trading and custody. In the announcement, Bakkt noted that it has been working with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission in order to be compliant with federal regulations, as well as to meet major requirements in terms of investors protection. Bakkt was first introduced in August 2018, with the stated goal of offering physically backed bitcoin futures.

EBay Denies Rumors It Will Start Accepting Crypto, Despite Advertising at Crypto Event

EBay has denied rumors after Blockchain Week that it is going to start accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method. Rumors have mounted that the online retail giant would be offering crypto as a payment option since ads were shown at crypto conference Consensus stating: “Virtual currency. It’s happening on eBay.” However, it does currently have a section marked Virtual Currency, where people can use traditional monetary forms to purchase crypto from sellers. In response to the rumors, an eBay spokesperson said that “cryptocurrency is not accepted as a form of payment on the eBay platform, nor is it part of our payments strategy.”

Winners and Losers

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are ultra coin, icechain and pwr coin. The top three altcoin losers of the week are segwit2x, blockport and sharpe platform token.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“The more interaction, and willingness that people want to engage with us, the happier we are because we want this to work. We want there to be innovation in these markets. We want there to be change.”

Amy Starr, chief of the office of capital markets trends at the U.S. SEC

“It is a useless currency, that’s what I believe. Look, I realize that people have different opinions, but to me, it’s garbage.”

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary

“In a small number of months, we should have a fully operational testnet and possibly, by the end of this year we’ll have a fully operational phase 0 Ethereum 2.0.”

Joseph Lubin, Ethereum co-founder

“I believe that there are use cases that makes sense today, we have yet to find them at scale in financial services. We’re experimenting heavily, we have more patents than any other financial institution in the blockchain space, but have yet to find something that makes a difference for our clients or our customer.”

Catherine Bessant, chief technology officer at Bank of America

“There is a broad discussion in Washington around 5G being dominated by foreign firms and the U.S. being reliant on foreign technology and foreign expertise. […] With blockchain and crypto, I think there’s a recognition now that these will be part of our future infrastructure. […] It’s important both for national security and from an economic perspective, that the U.S. is a leader in that.”

Ryan Zagone, Ripple’s Director of Regulatory Relations

Prediction of the Week

Joseph Lubin on Ethereum 2.0: ETH to Become 1,000 Times More Scalable Within 24 Months

Joseph Lubin, Ethereum co-founder, said in an interview with Cointelegraph this week that the Ethereum blockchain will become about 1,000 times more scalable in 18 to 24 months. In the interview, Lubin noted that Ethereum 2.0, also called Serenity, will be responsible for bringing the drastic scalability increase to the ecosystem. The development, which Lubin noted is divided into four phases, already has eight groups developing clients for the new chain. He explained that there are several ways in which the new chain could be connected with the old one, noting “there may be bidirectional mechanisms” in moving ether (ETH) tokens from the old chain to the new chain.

FUD of the Week

Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled Escape Lawsuit Brought by Defrauded ICO Investors

High-profile boxer Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled were dismissed this week from a lawsuit brought by investors in a fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO). The two celebrities had been involved in promoting Centra Tech’s ICO, and had originally been charged last November with unlawfully advertising the aforementioned ICO. This week, a judge ruled that the investors who had brought the legal action against the ICO had not proven that they had bought tokens as a direct result of the pair’s actions. In the settlement where neither of the parties admitted to nor denied the charges against them, Mayweather was fined more than $600,000, while Khaled was fined more than $150,000.

Tron Co-Founder and CTO Leaves Project, Alleging Excessive Centralization

Lucien Chen — the former chief technical officer and co-founder of blockchain protocol Tron — announced that he is leaving the project, citing an excessive centralization. In his announcement, Chen noted that in spite of the project’s success, irreconcilable contradictions between himself and co-founder Justin Sun have led him to choose to leave Tron. In the post, Chen noted that Tron is no longer staying true to its founding principle of decentralizing the web, critiquing Tron’s delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) consensus mechanism and Super Representative governance and block production nodes.

Hacked New Zealand Exchange Cryptopia Appoints Liquidators, Trading Suspended

Hacked New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia said this week that trading was suspended and it was appointing liquidators. The exchange specifically said that it has appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore from consultancy and audit firm network Grant Thornton New Zealand as the aforementioned liquidators. In mid-January of this year, Cryptopia had said that it was the target of a security breach resulting in significant losses. According to the liquidators, the exchange decided to go into liquidation, as it has been unable to return the business to profitability, notwithstanding management’s reported efforts to reduce costs. The liquidators plan to conduct an investigation with the aim of securing assets for the benefit of the stakeholders.

Best Cointelegraph Features

Major Crypto Exchange in Korea Shut Down in April: 2018 Was a Nightmare for Most

Joseph Young explains what’s been happening with South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, as they suffered through a freeze on accepting new registrations as well as the overall bear market.

What Crypto Exchanges Do to Comply With KYC, AML and CFT Regulations

Since most altcoins require crypto enthusiasts to purchase them via cryptocurrency exchanges, Cointelegraph takes a look at how these exchanges work with Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regulations to ensure both safety and regulatory compliance.

Blockchain as Key to Vienna’s Digital Future — Interview with Ulrike Huemer, CIO of Vienna, Austria

Cointelegraph’s German division spoke with the chief information officer of Vienna’s digital future initiative about the ways the city can evolve to integrate more emerging technologies, including, of course, blockchain.

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EBay Isn’t Diving Into Crypto, Bitcoin Included, But Don’t Worry

eBay Denies Crypto Rumors

Earlier this week, Ethereum World News reported that eBay may be delving into Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency. This was due to the fact that at Consensus, the leading crypto & blockchain event that is run by CoinDesk, the online marketplace giant was a primary sponsor of the event and had advertisements all over the venue.

What was even more convincing was the words that were plastered on said ads. One said “Virtual currencies. It’s happening on eBay”, while others mentioned digital collectibles among other topics pertinent to this budding industry. This led many, including many of the crypto ecosystem’s big names on Twitter, to consider that maybe, the $32 billion e-commerce giant had intentions to accept a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, or launch one of its own. Yet, in a comment issued to CoinTelegraph on Wednesday, the Silicon Valley firm revealed that it, in fact, doesn’t have exact intentions to get into this industry. A spokesperson told the outlet:

“Cryptocurrency is not accepted as a form of payment on the eBay platform, nor is it part of our payments strategy.”

Other reports indicated that the firm only had issued those ads because you could sell Bitcoin and other digital asset miners (ASICs) on the platform.

Regardless, the bottom line that if eBay isn’t ‘pulling a fast one’ on the industry, it doesn’t have intentions to do anything remotely crypto-related any time soon. Yet, there’s no need to flip bearish right now.

News Cycle Still Bullish For Bitcoin

As we have reported on the past few days, the news cycle has been absolutely bullish for Bitcoin and other digital assets. Here’s a brief compilation of what’s going for this market at the moment.

  • Whole Foods, Gamestop, Other Outlets To (Indirectly) Accept Bitcoin: In an announcement made during the opening of Consensus, Gemini has partnered with a crypto payments startup, Flexa, to offer its users the ability to purchase physical goods across America with Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Gemini’s resident stablecoin. While the retailers themselves aren’t directly accepting cryptocurrency, the partners, which include Lowe’s, Amazon’s Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Gamestop will accept fiat sourced from Bitcoin. This will boost cryptocurrency adoption, and likely sparked some hype in the retail audience.
  • Bakkt To Finally Launch Futures: Earlier today, Bakkt, the Intercontinental Exchange’s independent crypto initiative, revealed that it will be launching its physically-backed futures contract in June. According to a Medium update from its chief executive, Kelly Loeffler, the product will take two forms: 1) a daily settlement future; 2) monthly futures. This confirms rumors that the platform was looking to launch a vehicle for a same-day market. Bakkt expects the soft launch of this product by July, explaining that it intends to iron out any kinks in the coming weeks. This report comes just a few weeks after Bakkt was revealed to be working with major U.S. bank BNY Mellon. As we reported, the exchange was working closely with the institution to secure Bitcoin and other digital asset private keys, specifically through a system of geographic distribution. In the same announcement, it was revealed that Bakkt had acquired Digital Asset Custody Company (DACC), while securing a $100 million insurance policy with “global insurance carriers.”
  • Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, E*Trade: These three financial institutions, which are giants in their own right, are expected to soon allow for direct cryptocurrency trading on their respective platforms, opening the Bitcoin doors to institutions and retail investors alike.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The post EBay Isn’t Diving Into Crypto, Bitcoin Included, But Don’t Worry appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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EBay Denies Rumors It Will Start Accepting Crypto, Despite Advertising at Crypto Event

Speculation has been growing since eBay took out ads at the Consensus blockchain and crypto conference in New York City.

EBay has denied rumors that it is going to start accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method, according to a Bloomberg report on May 14.

Speculation has been mounting since the e-commerce giant took out ads at the Consensus conference in New York City. One of the billboards said:

“Virtual Currency. It’s happening on eBay.”

It has been suggested that this week’s surge in crypto prices, which has happened without explanation, was linked to hopes that eBay was preparing to embrace crypto.

Given how the online auction site bills itself as “the world’s largest marketplace,” such a move would have been a major milestone in the industry’s quest to achieve mainstream adoption, Bloomberg reports. But addressing the rumors directly, an eBay spokesperson said:

“Cryptocurrency is not accepted as a form of payment on the eBay platform, nor is it part of our payments strategy.”

The online marketplace does currently have a section marked Virtual Currency, where people can use traditional monetary forms to purchase crypto from sellers.

The eBay clarification is not the only rumor that has been discredited over recent days. Excitement had started to build in the crypto community in April when a tweet suggested that TD Ameritrade, which holds an estimated $1.3 trillion in assets, was testing bitcoin (BTC) and litecoin (LTC) spot trading on its brokerage.

But Sunayna Tuteja, the company’s head of digital assets, told Bloomberg:

“Currently we’re not. We have what we call paperMoney, which is what our clients can try for trading strategies. It was a simulation. So there was no actual execution.”

Despite these denials, other major brands have confirmed this week that they will allow customers to spend crypto in their stores. On the first day of the Consensus conference, the likes of Whole Foods Market, Barnes & Noble and Bed Bath & Beyond were confirmed as launch partners for a new app called Spedn, which facilitates crypto transactions via the Flexa network.

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eBay to Start Accepting Crypto? Community Stirred by Unconfirmed Twitter Rumours

Photos have leaked from preparations for the coming Consensus 2019 conference that eBay, one of the sponsors, might hint that the company plans to start accepting crypto soon and it will not be Bitcoin

eBay is one of the sponsors of the upcoming Consensus conference that is to take place in New York on May 15. Along with eBay, the event will be sponsored by such companies as ConsenSys, Ledger, Tron, Microsoft, BitGo and others.

eBay is rumoured to start
taking crypto payments soon

These advert photos, which have leaked into the web, have sparked a massive speculation on Twitter. Users are curious whether the world-famous e-commerce platform is headed towards crypto payments in the near future.

Should this be true, eBay, which is one of the largest market places on the planet with 180 mln regular users, will give cryptocurrency a major push towards global adoption.

The rumours have it that the crypto eBay is allegedly eying is Binance Coin (BNB).

Some in the crypto community are pointing out to the fact that a former executive of PayPal and eBay, Sanja Kon, already works for the UTRUST crypto payments service and is in charge of Global Partnerships. Quite possibly that Kon would try to get eBay as a strategic partner.

Just recently, Kon worked as Head of Marketplaces and Large Enterprise Partnerships at PayPal and before that she had spent five years working for eBay.

eBay has been eying BTC for a while, PayPal declines it

Two years ago, the Senior VP for eBay, Scott Cutler, shared with Yahoo Finance that the e-commerce giant is mulling starting to accept Bitcoin for its goods.

Last week, the CFO of PayPal publicly said that it is too early for PayPal to start using BTC transactions due to the high volatility of the market. Besides, he added that the top management team is more excited by blockchain itself rather than Bitcoin.

‘Virtual Currencies’ already exists on eBay

The pictures featured in the tweets above could be about a totally different thing, though. “Virtual Currency. It’s happening on eBay” – this could refer to the category titled ‘Virtual Currency’ that allows platform users to trade crypto against fiat anonymously. If that is the case, then the community is jumping to conclusions way too fast.

The post eBay to Start Accepting Crypto? Community Stirred by Unconfirmed Twitter Rumours appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Hodler’s Digest, March 25–31: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week

This week saw the hacks of several large cryptocurrency exchanges, while the SEC pushed back their BTC ETF decision.

Top Stories This Week

Owner of ICO That Never Happened Attempts to Sell Project on eBay for $60,000

The owner of a crypto-related startup dubbed Sponsy, which never launched its initial coin offering (ICO), is attempting to sell the project on eBay for $60,000. The project is described as a blockchain-related identity that is able to launch both an ICO and a security token offering (STO), with the author of the posting claiming that the project was both audited by an investment firm and approved by several investment banks. Sponsy also claims to have a solid social presence, although its Twitter and Facebook page posts have around ten likes on average. The eBay poster noted in an interview that he lost out on the ICO craze by taking time to develop a product, rather than first launching an offering.

Over 130-Year-Old Liquor Company William Grant & Sons to Track Whiskey on Blockchain

Premium scotch whisky brand Ailsa Bay, which is owned by William Grant & Sons (WG&S), a liquor company founded in 1887, is set to launch what it claims to be the world’s first scotch whisky tracked on the blockchain. According to the company, the whisky will be tracked in collaboration with blockchain firm arc-net, which will develop the new products and a system to track manufacturing from distillery to store. The reason behind the blockchain tracking is to prevent whisky counterfeiting in the United Kingdom, as well as allow the firm to gather data on both existing and potential customers by employing location systems for the purchases.

Tim Draper Urges Argentina’s President to Legalize Bitcoin to Improve Economy

When speaking to Argentine president Mauricio Macri, crypto bull and investor Tim Draper said that the legalization of Bitcoin (BTC) in the country could help improve their economic situation. During the meeting, Draper noted that the use of blockchain and crypto could help improve major economic problems, including the devaluation of the Argentine peso (ARS). Draper also reportedly proposed a humorous bet, stating that if the peso would be valued more than Bitcoin, he would double his investment in the country, but if BTC became higher than the peso, Argentina would have to declare the crypto a national currency.

Weiss Crypto Ratings Puts Bitcoin Aside EOS and XRP in Annual Outlook

The newest Weiss Crypto Ratings and given top cryptocurrency Bitcoin an “A,” along with Ripple (XRP) and EOS. In the report, which was based on an analysis of 120 cryptocurrencies, letter grades were assigned based on an evaluation of the possibilities for adoption and technology. XRP received the “A” ranking as it is well-positioned to compete with global interbank system SWIFT, while EOS was noted as making a solid attempt to become the “backbone of the new internet.” Bitcoin’s “A” ranking was due to its Lightning Network upgrade and use as of store of value. However, another ranking based on risk and reward factors failed to give any cryptocurrencies an “A.” The three currencies are followed by Ethereum (A-) and Cardano (B+).

 Crypto Exchange Bithumb Reportedly Hacked of Almost $19 Mln in EOS and XRP

Crypto exchange Bithumb reported this weekend that they have experienced a hack of an unknown amount, and are currently working with various law enforcement on the issue. The exchange notes that withdrawals and deposits have been temporarily paused, and that the loss does not affect users’ funds, but only those of the exchange. Unconfirmed reports state that around 3 million EOS (around $12.5 million) and 20 million Ripple (about $6.2 million) are the funds lost. The company’s post about the hack indicates that it was an insider job, but the details are as of yet unspecified.

Winners and Losers

The crypto market has ended with week with Bitcoin well above $4,100, Ethereum is at $143 and Ripple at about $.31. Total market cap is $144 billion.

Top three altcoin gainers of the week are AICHAIN, BBSCoin and HondaisCoin. Top three altcoin losers of the week are Luna Coin, Crowdvilla Ownership and Coinonat.

Winners and Losers

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“All of the big tech companies will come and say blockchain, blockchain, blockchain. I say, ‘Show me the use case. You bring me the use case and I’ll try it.’”

Catherine Bessant, Bank of America (BoA) chief technology officer

 

“If Quadriga was licensed under the Bermuda Monetary Authority, what has happened would not have been able to happen, because we have rules regarding the custody of master keys and making sure they’re not held by a particular individual.”

David Burt, Premier of Bermuda

“One of my theses here is that the cypherpunks’ attempts to get into the money business forced them to realize some other things along the way. And [one of those things] is that money is a fundamentally social thing in a much deeper way than, say, two-party encrypted communication You have to start thinking about governance, social contracts, common shared expectations in this community, how do changes get made, how do we decide how changes get made, how do we discuss things. These are all very political things.”

Vitalik Buterin, speaking at the RadicalxChange conference

 

“I do believe that the regulators right now are a little careful about just rubber stamping anything as it relates to crypto. You are going to have to have an offering that the regulators are going to have to get comfortable. And I think it is hard to get comfortable with something that is so new like this.”

Terry Duffy, CEO of United States derivative market CME Group

 

“What we are seeing is a collection of standards being created [that] will inevitably converge over the next three to five years to create a situation where you can move information and value between all these different systems ー not just Bitcoin to Litecoin to Ethereum to Cardano ー but also your regular bank account.”

Charles Hoskinson, a founder of IOHK, the firm that developed cryptocurrency Cardano (ADA)

Prediction of the Week

Sharp Bitcoin Rally in 2019 Unlikely

According to Emmanuel Goh, a former JPMorgan Chase derivatives trader and founder of crypto data firm Skew, Bitcoin is unlikely to recover its former five-digit highs in 2019. Goh has noted that, according to options traders, there is a five percent chance that Bitcoin will reach $10,000 by September of this year. The trader also noted that there is even a $20,000 call option for this June, but the probability of BTC reaching that price is zero, as it was likely a “bullish trade that was made last year when investors were still discussing the short-term possibility of making new highs.”

FUD of the Week

US SEC Delays Decision on Bitcoin ETF Applications From VanEck and Bitwise

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has again delayed its decision on a rule change to the Securities Act that would allow the listing of Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETF). According to the latest notice, the SEC has extended the period to 90 days, after Bitwise’s Feb. 15 application reached the end of its 45-day time period. According to the extension, the SEC must now reach a decision on the rule change by May 16, 2019. The two firms, NYSE ARCA and Bitwise, had announced their recent plans to launch Bitcoin ETFs in January, with the former intending to launch five separate ETFs linked to both bull and bear futures contracts on NYSE Arca. The SEC has also extended its decision on the VanEck/CBOE Bitcoin ETF

Analysts Claim CoinBene Transactions, Recent Activity ‘Consistent’ With Exchange Hack

Elementus, a blockchain infrastructure firm, published details of recent transactions at crypto exchange CoinBene that they consider to be suspicious in the wake of a presumed hack. After $105 million in crypto was moved from the exchange’s hot wallet this week, CoinBene had assured users that it was a period of unforeseen maintenance responsible for the suspicious activity. Elementus has noted that they are not contradicting what CoinBene has claimed, but that their findings are consistent with the modus operandi for how hack are normally carried out, as the amount of crypto transferred is large and was quickly sold.

Android Malware Targets Users of 32 Crypto Apps, Including Coinbase, BitPay

According to research, a new strain of Trojan malware for Android phones is now targeting the global users of cryptocurrency apps including Coinbase, BitPay and Bitcoin Wallet, as well as banks including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Cybercrime analytics firm Group-IB noted that this is the first time that the Trojan, dubbed Gustaff, has been reported or analyzed, and that it is described as being designed for mass infections and spread by SMS messages linked to load malicious Android package kit files. The group notes that the malware’s creators have made a system that increases the scale of thefts by triggering autofills of payment fields for legitimate Android apps to maliciously reroute transfers to the hackers.

Best Cointelegraph Features

The Lightning Torch: How the Community United to Teach Jack Dorsey About Feeless, Rapid Off-Chain Transactions

After Twitter’s Jack Dorsey joined the Lightning Network Torch recently, awareness of the second-layer solutions both benefits and drawbacks have become more debated in the crypto ecosystem. Cointelegraph examines how the LN has changed over time, and how Dorsey’s reference to the technology has brought it more into the public eye.

Indian Street Protests for Cryptocurrency

After the Reserve Bank of India’s ban on crypto dealings last year, the crypto community is coming together again, this time in the form of a series of blockchain supporter rallies held across the country. With the fourth rally set for Bangalore, Cointelegraph looks at the possible public impact of this movement.

Meet the 21 Year-Old Entrepreneur Trying to Sell His Failed ICO on Ebay

After an eBay listing for a cryptocurrency- and blockchain-related project was posted with a price tag of $60,000, Cointelegraph reached out to the lister himself to find out what happened with the project that led him to sell it online in this particular format.

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Owner of ICO That Never Happened Attempts to Sell Project on eBay for $60,000

A startup that never launched its ICO is on now sale on eBay for $60,000.

The owner of a startup that never launched its initial coin offering (ICO) is trying to sell the project on eBbay for $60,000, according to an offer on the e-commerce website that expires Friday, March 29.

The startup, named “Sponsy,” is described as a blockchain project that is fully prepared to launch both ICO and security token offerings (STO). The author of the offer claims that the project was audited by an investment firm and approved by investment bankers. Moreover, the advertisement states that the solutions developed by Sponsy comply with European Union and United States regulations.

In addition, the project claims to have a “solid social presence,” with over 10,000 likes on Facebook and 8,000 subscribers on Twitter. However, the Twitter page has only been updated twice a month since the company announced its forthcoming token sale last December, and the posts have around ten likes on average. Sponsy has a similar presence on Facebook, with posts randomly commented on by several seemingly bot-like users.

Sponsy also mentions that it is listed by famous ICO trackers such as ICOBench. However, the latter ranks it 2.9, with no experts evaluating the project.

The Financial Times (FT) has reached Ivan Komar, the founder of Sponsy, to find out why the ICO has not yet been launched. Komar explained that the company missed the ICO hype of 2017, and no one became interested in its tokens later in 2019.

According to Komar, his lawyer recommended that he developed the product first instead of launching an ICO — a decision that the entrepreneur now regrets:

“We would not have tried to build a product first, we would have tried to run a token sale as soon as possible, to jump into this crypto craze bandwagon, and raise as much money as possible before building any product. And that’s exactly what others were doing.”

However, Komar believes that the project can be successfully sold, especially due to the fact that the crypto part can be easily removed from it. He also admits that institutional “approval” is quite a strong statement:

“It might be some kind of exaggeration. We did have a law firm based in the UK that ran some sort of audit of our project, and it ranked it, and the rank that we got was pretty high and the risk we got was pretty low.”

The overwhelming popularity of ICOs in 2017 and early 2018 was described by the crypto industry as “hype,” but nowadays many experts believe the ICO boom is now over. During Q3 2018 — from July to September 2018 — ICO funding overall has fallen by 48 percent.

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3 Web Giants That Could Be Decentralized on a Blockchain

The web has taken over our lives, and with that, online enterprises have grown into huge monoliths of power.

Yet, while tech giants give us access to the stuff we like – music, movies, shopping – blockchain enthusiasts think an individual’s web experience could be greatly improved by decentralization.

If the web’s giants decentralize, the web itself will become a wildly different place – it’s hard to even wrap your head around, just like it would have been impossible to imagine meme culture in 1999.

Today, a site and its database are one entity. In the decentralized version, the database doesn’t belong to its creators; it belongs to its community, and that community can build lots of different business models on top of the database.

Think of it like this: if the web had been decentralized from the beginning, you could have made your first social media profile on Friendster in 2003. Then, when MySpace came along, you wouldn’t need to create a new profile, you’d just give MySpace permission to access the one you had already made for Friendster. Same thing for Facebook.

Obviously, each new site would add new features and ways of interacting, but users would have never needed to start over, lose friends from other sites or the content they’d created on prior platforms.

Are those advantages strong enough to upend the Dot-Com era’s familiar incumbents?

Entrepreneurs and the various investors who have committed capital – whether that be in the form of traditional venture capital, or perhaps more common in the space today, through initial coin offerings (ICOs) – have made their bets that it is.

And with ICOs providing not only a new fundraising mechanism for these blockchain startups, but also a tool for users to interact with these new distributed networks, the underlying infrastructure for a new internet – a “web 3.0” – is growing.

Below are three verticals on the web that blockchain startups are aiming to take market share from through the use of crypto tokens.

Eliminating eBay?

eBay logo image via Shutterstock

While eBay is an internet O.G., in the early days of the web, there were also other sites built around specific products, such as comic books, where sellers sold directly to buyers.

One might imagine that focused marketplaces would naturally provide a better customer experience, but eBay, which offered an array of different products, proved that wrong. It turned out that it was better to sell comic books on the site that also sold bicycle parts, because someone might come looking for one and end up buying both. On top of that, it was just easier to remember one site for buying used stuff, rather than many.

While there’s nothing stopping a seller from offering one product on both a specialized site and a general site, such as eBay, it would take sophisticated software to make sure the same item didn’t get sold twice, and eBay doesn’t want to make that kind of thing easy.

But what if consumers could have both? What if the comic books, for example, lived in the same database as the all the other products, but different websites could be built around that data? In that way, a listing could show up in a variety of marketplaces, but if one listing sold on any one marketplace, it would show as sold on all of them.

That’s possible, according to Gee Chuang, the CEO of Listia, an existing marketplace that’s developing a decentralized version of eBay called Ink Protocol:

“Ink Protocol’s vision is to decentralize peer-to-peer marketplaces, taking the power away from the companies that run them and giving it back to the buyers and sellers. As a result, more value is distributed back to the actual user.”

In an effort to create this system, Listia plans to sell $15 million worth of crypto tokens, starting on Jan. 29. Listia will also seed early users of its existing marketplace, where people already earn Listia credits for trading items peer-to-peer, with the token. Listia credits will convert into the crypto tokens as the blockchain network launches.

It’s a similar goal to OB1’s OpenBazaar, one of the longest-running and most popular decentralized marketplaces, except that OB1 is also focused on making it easier for users to transact anonymously, and has only used bitcoin for transacting. Yet, that could soon change, as OB1’s CEO Brian Hoffman announced at Token Summit II recently that that company would be pursuing a token offering in response to increased congestion on the bitcoin network.

Speaking to the benefits of a decentralized marketplace, Listia’s Chuang said, “Sellers in decentralized marketplaces have the freedom to use any platform they like at any time, while bringing that hard-earned reputation with them everywhere they go.”

Move over YouTube

YouTube on a laptopYouTube image via Shutterstock

YouTube is the number one place in the world to share and search for video.

While the site has created a new career path for content creators, the tensions between those creators and its central administrators have become heated.

Content creators suffer as YouTube decreases its revenue share with video makers and uses automation to pull advertisements from their videos if they suspect the video displays offensive or inappropriate behavior, catching some suitable videos in its wide net. Consumers, meanwhile, complain that advertisements are becoming too prevalent on the site in general.

A new generation of startups believes decentralizing their platforms will allow content creators to interact directly with their audiences with the use of a crypto token. At the same time, users will get more choice in how their attention can be monetized – they can view ads, release personal information or even contribute part of their computing power to the operation of the system.

“Bittorrent — with more than 250 million users worldwide — has been already proven to be capable of delivering good quality content in a decentralized and compelling manner,” said Adrian Garelik, CEO of Flixxo, a decentralized video sharing platform that closed its token sale in November.

Released in 2001, Bittorrent works by connecting users to copies of content held on other people’s devices, rather than a centralized server system. And Garelik envisions making the torrent network more robust by giving people more incentive to host content by earning cryptocurrency.

“By creating this incentivized network, any kind of content could be distributed in a peer-to-peer fashion, with a lot of monetization possibilities,” Garelik said.

According to Flixxo creators, users of peer-to-peer file sharing platforms have been in need of an effective peer-to-peer payment system to make the platforms more useful. And that seems to be a thought shared by a number of blockchain-based startups looking to decentralize file sharing, including Stream, Theta and Livepeer, each that has its own token.

And that’s not all of them. In fact, there are handfuls of players at each level of the online video stack.

As explained by another decentralized video company Paratii in a blog post:

“What we see forming is not a single pyramidal stack, where the choice of one piece of tech inevitably ‘disables’ another. Rather, what we have are protocol silos, with more or less interoperable layers.”

Disrupting Apple Music

iTunes gift cards image via Shutterstock

It’s possibly taken years to purchase and download all that music that gets your heart racing when you’re at the gym or mellows you out after a long day of work – the perfect soundtrack to your life.

And just as special as all that is to you, those tastes are just as important to the companies that control the online music marketplaces where you get that music. That’s because, as users participate in marketplaces like Apple Music, they build up their own intellectual property by creating playlists, following artists and flagging their favorite songs.

And that data is lucrative for the marketplaces to track and control, so much so that they make it difficult to move those preferences to another service.

According to Jesse Grushack from Consensys’s Ujo, a blockchain-based music supply chain provider:

“We are being locked into these systems controlled by corporate giants.”

And many startups, not just Ujo, agree. A handful of blockchain-based companies have started up looking to disrupt various layers of the music industry, including Viberate, which looks to eliminate the need for musicians’ rent-seeking agents with smart contracts.

Even more mainstream names are seeing potential benefits in adopting blockchain and cryptocurrency in the music biz. Icelandic singer Bjork announced in November that she’d be accepting four different cryptocurrencies for her forthcoming album, and a former Universal Music Group executive raised $1.2 million in October for a music-rights management platform called Blokur that uses the ethereum blockchain.

While many of these platforms haven’t announced crypto token sales, Grushack admitted that Ujo might issue a token down the road.

Currently, though, the company is focused on the concept of a “portable fan badge” – a token-like instrument that ties identity and data together – so that as a fan, you could port what musicians, songs and genres you like across all different kinds of music marketplaces. In this way, Grushack said, the musician would really know a person is a fan, and could then market them new content directly.

And not only that, but the portal is designed to make it easier for any number of parties to share rights, for example of one song, where each musician that participated gets paid out based on the work they put in. While this is technically possible today, the process would require a significant number of intermediaries who would all want to take a cut, making it worthless for artists today.

“Right now Apple is in the process of phasing out purchases for music, so that leaves us in a scenario where everything we consume is in a rental model,” Grushack said, adding:

“If we did transition back into a system in which we bought music, being able to own that music and relationship regardless of the platform is something blockchain enables.”

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Blokur, Livepeer and OB1.

Fiber optics image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Interested in offering your expertise or insights to our reporting? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.

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Ancora: Should You Invest in a Limited Edition Bitcoin Fountain Pen?

Alongside your investments in stocks, gold and Bitcoin, have you considered adding a writing instrument to your investment portfolio? While Italian pen-maker Ancora and digital moneymaker Bitcoin may seem to have little in common, the value of both assets is based on the economic concept of scarcity. Both the pen-maker and the digital moneymaker produce a limited stock (only 21 mln Bitcoins will be minted). The scarcer an asset, the higher its demand, and as demand increases so should its value.

Ancora has well understood the concept of scarcity since its inception in 1919 along Lake Maggiore in Italy. The maker of fountain pens and ballpoint pens produces its fine pens in limited editions.
Its latest special edition pen is the Bitcoinpen. If you are considering investing in one of Ancora’s 88 Bitcoin fountain pens or 888 Bitcoin rollerball pens, here are five reasons why fountain pens are an attractive investment.

Typically produced with gold and other precious materials, like gold, fountain pens can act as a safe haven investment. In addition to the quality of materials, investors value these fine writing instruments based on their rarity (limited editions), reputation and design themes.

Rarity

Fine writing instruments are considered luxury collectibles that can retain and appreciate in value. With high sentimental value, fountain pens are passed on to future generations in wills. Those pens not kept as mementos may end up at auction houses as part of estate sales. Auction houses such as Christie’s and Southeby’s regularly have fountain pens for sale under $200, but it is not uncommon for a pen to sell for thousands of dollars.

Rarity is highly valued. The most expensive pens are typically part of special limited editions. One of 20 Ancora The Pulse of Time Square Limited Edition fountain pens is currently selling on eBay for $8,800, a seven-fold increase since the pens were introduced in 2015 and sold for $1,200 a piece. The pen contains mother of pearl, gold and silver.

Precious and novel materials

Unlike many speculative assets, the value of pens may be backed by their materials. Currently among the world’s most expensive pens is a limited edition Boehme Papillon pen by Montblanc with 1,400 diamonds and gold selling for $230,410. A true rarity, a gem-encrusted pen made by Florentine pen-maker Tibalidi recently sold for $8 mln in Shanghai. Rare materials are an increasingly popular feature, with current offerings including rhodium, ruthenium, titanium and Ancora’s Minerals series (e.g., azurite and diopside). Newer designer Romain Jerome is selling a $5,000 pen (88 pieces) made from materials from the doomed Titanic ship.

Status and sentimental value

Fountain pens have timeless appeal. As gifts, many writing instruments are ordered with a  custom monogram to personalize the pen. When the monogram belongs to a famous personality, a pen can become very valuable in the secondary market. Like watches, heritage adds a premium to fountain and ballpoint pens. When the near century-old Ancora went out of business in the 1970s for a decade, its pens became more valuable owing to its enduring reputation as a quality Italian maker of fine fountain pens.

Sustainable value

While fountain pens have benefited from trends, including the vintage trend, long-term sustainable trends are now supporting the growth in sales. The environmentally conscious consumer is buying long-lasting ballpoint and fountain pens in place of disposable pens. Backed by the greening consumer, this trend is expected to remain positive and strong.

Custom pen themes and artist editions

Writing your great novel with the Ancora custom designed Jules Verne pen, your screenplay with the Michelangelo pen or your song lyrics with the Signorelli pen can add inspiration and sentimental value to the writing experience. Fountain pens are commonly designed after famous personalities, including those from the literary, art, entertainment, sports and religious worlds.

As with any investment, researching the market can lead to better investment decisions. Japanese-themed pens of Dunhill-Namiki, for example, have done particularly well. Bonhams.com currently has an Emperor Tanabata theme, inspired by a well-loved folktale, selling for between $45,000 and $65,000. Five pens have been produced. Another Dunhill-Namiki pen signed by artist Shogo recently sold for $225,000—one of a number of 1930s era pens signed by Japanese artists selling at high prices.

Above all, cherished brands hold value in the luxury collectibles market. The Ancora Bitcoinpens can be purchased at half their retail price during the current production stage running from Jan. 5 to Jan. 26. The Bitcoin fountain pens normally retail for $2,500 and the rollerball pen $2,250.

Catherina Leona, Guest Author

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Life Savings Stolen from Second-hand Ledger Hardware Wallet

A man’s life savings disappeared from a Ledger brand Nano hardware wallet after Reddit user moodyrocket purchased the wallet second-hand on eBay. The stolen coins amount to over $34,000.

According to posts on Reddit, the seller of the wallet utilized a ‘man in the middle’ attack, inserting his own recovery seed rather than the random seed assigned by the manufacturer. According to the post:

“I have not used my Ledger in a week, today I decide to check the value of my XRP, Litecoin and Dash only to discover that all of them showed up as zero and had been transferred somewhere else yesterday all around the same time at 7:30pm. I am not sure how this is possible as I have not access my Ledger in a week. I do not know what do to as the total value is over £25000, has by currency been stolen or is it something else? I am at a lost here and right now feel so physical sick. Some please help.”

The post shows the extent to which thieves will go to access coin wallets. Ledger’s CEO (user murzika) has offered to help ‘bring the seller to justice’ through legal means.

Need for security

As values of cryptocurrencies continue to increase, the reality of security needs continues to increase. Stories of theft and hacking continue to proliferate. For individual users some additional technology may eventually be required. Vadim Onishchenko, CEO of Blockchain photo security system Selfllery told Cointelegraph:

“We used to ask ourselves: Where is it better to keep your money, at home in a safe or in the bank? None of these options is ever completely safe. Cryptocurrency is no different: the safety issue is very complex, because there are lots of ways to break into accounts, or to force people to give over their holdings. There needs to be a mechanism ensuring complete safety, because the current options are all lacking. A new technology is needed to protect cryptocurrency.”