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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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New Jersey Accuses Blockchain Firm of Unregistered Securities Sale

The State of New Jersey has accused a blockchain-related firm of conducting an unregistered securities sale when it sold its token to investors.

The State of New Jersey alleges that a blockchain-based online rental marketplace sold over $400,000 of unregistered securities.

A complaint filed on July 17 accuses Pocketinns, Inc. and its president Sarvajnya G. Mada of offering and selling around $410,000 of unregistered securities in the form of a cryptocurrency dubbed “PINNS Tokens.” The tokens were sold through an initial token offering between Jan. 15 and Jan. 31, 2018. Neither Pockettins nor Mada have allegedly been registered with the state’s Bureau of Securities. 

The defendants purportedly sold tokens to 217 investors in violation of New Jersey’s Uniform Securities Law, wherein only 11 provided documentation proving their accredited investor status. Mada and his firm subsequently planned to exchange sold tokens for Ether (ETH), which at the time had a value of around $728.

The complaint alleges that Pockettins intended to raise as much as $46 million through the sale of 30 million PINNS Tokens. Paul Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, stated:

“By failing to take reasonable steps to verify that purchasers were accredited investors capable of bearing the increased risks associated with unregistered securities, the defendants violated the law and exposed investors to financial losses that could have been devastating.”

The complaint seeks to preclude Pocketinns and Mada from selling securities in New Jersey and assess civil monetary penalties against the defendants for each violation of the Securities Law. It also seeks to require that they pay restitution to investors who participated in the offering.

Earlier in July, a Texas court ordered two defendants to pay $400,000 for conducting a fraudulent scheme to solicit Bitcoin (BTC) from members of the public.

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Ethereum Researcher: In ETH 2.0, PoS Attacks To Be Handled With Grace

Ethereum ETH 2.0

In 2013, Vitalik Buterin released a whitepaper
suggesting the creation of a blockchain network that would support application
development without being tied to a single specific scripting language.
However, the Ethereum blockchain platform mirrored the Proof of Work (PoW)
algorithm used by its predecessor; Bitcoin.

Over time, Ethereum has been considering abandoning the energy-intensive PoW algorithm and turning to Proof of Stake (PoS) algorithm to confirm transactions. Apart from consuming less energy, by shifting to the PoS algorithm, Ethereum would have a higher transactional speed and improve on its scalability.

Ethereum 2.0
Unlocked

The power of the new algorithm would be unlocked by the launch of Ethereum 2.0. To ensure a smooth transition, the new platform would be rolled out in phases. As per the Ethereum 2.0 roadmap, the launch would start with setting bases for staking on the main chain, providing random numbers through Beacon chain, enabling Sharding, and eventual activation of a virtual machine that would give state execution results.

As such, to ensure a smooth transition,
Ethereum researchers have been holding AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions once in a
while to clear contentious issues and to answer questions from the Ethereum
community.

A Robust, Scalable Platform

In a recent AMA session, Buterin said that he honestly thinks “that there are no unresolved research challenges at this point.” On how complex Ethereum 2.0 is compared to Ethereum 1.0 and migration, Vitalik said:

“It got considerably simpler over the last year. There’s a lot of things in ETH2 (Ethereum 2.0) that are much simpler than ETH1 (Ethereum 1.x). But there’s definitely lingering complexity, and I deeply care about mining it…The current approach is to fold ETH1 into ETH2 as an execution environment. In practice, this will mean that we would need to have a hard fork on the ETH1 side to rebalance some gas costs.”

Interesting, during the AMA session, it
emerged that by employing PoS, Ethereum 2.0 would be more secure as it will be
possible to gracefully eliminate a malicious party in case of an attack.

As noted by one of the researchers:

“One of the beautiful things about PoS is that these attacks can be handled with grace. The community can hard-fork out the malicious actors, so they have no more voting power. The malicious actors just burnt a lot of money to temporarily halt a network… [also] If a validator behaves provably malicious, then they are slashed by having their balance reduced…Minimum penalty is 1 ETH, but it goes up linearly.”

Proof-of-Work Is
for The Rich

Additionally, the Ethereum co-founder maintained that PoW advocates for wealth inequality because although the mined coins find themselves in “fresh hands,” it requires a higher starting capital to become a Proof of Work miner, therefore, making PoW a “big rich-get-richer mechanic.”

On timelines, phase one would be complete around Q3 of 2019, followed by phase tow. Beacon Chain would start finalizing Eth 1.x at around 2021. When developers are done with Ethereum 2.0, the blockchain platform will have a transactional speed of between 5,000 and 500,000 transactions per second.

Another feature that will come with Ethereum
2.0 is the “pause” button or a planned downtime. The button, according to researchers, “is to first exit
(which can take as little as half an hour, but may take days/weeks since
there’s a queuing mechanism) and later re-activate.”

The post Ethereum Researcher: In ETH 2.0, PoS Attacks To Be Handled With Grace appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Major Altcoins Rally as Bitcoin Sees Slight Gains

Major altcoins are rallying on the day as Bitcoin makes mild gains following yesterday’s slump.

Wednesday, July 17— The number one cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) is seeing slight gains on the day as major altcoins (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) rally.

Market visualization

Market visualization. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin has been trending down this week. Bitcoin retook $13,000 on July 9 before sinking all the way down to under $10,000 by July 16. At press time, BTC is trading just over $9,800 with a 2.64% gain on the day.

On July 4, analysts at SFOX conjectured that Bitcoin could rally in light of the American national holiday Independence Day, arguing that holidays in the midst of a bull market tend to spark FOMO. However, Bitcoin did not see any significant gains on the holiday, and is now sitting around $2,000 down from its price level 13 days ago.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Top altcoin Ether has had a bearish week, like BTC, mostly seeing a steady decline over the last seven days. It saw a fairly sharp fall on July 14, falling by about $200 in approximately an hour, without recovering. However, the number two cryptocurrency has recovered by approximately 8.3% on the day, and is sitting above $214 at press time.

Ethereum 24-hour price chart

Ethereum 24-hour price chart. Source: Coin360

Ripple’s value has also largely been on the decline for the past seven days. However, it has recovered almost 9% at press time — the largest daily gain out of the top three cryptocurrencies — and is trading just shy of $0.318.

According to a price analysis by Cointelegraph, however, XRP is currently one of the worst-performing major cryptocurrencies. Its next price level supports are reportedly $0.27795 and the yearly low of $0.24508.

XRP 7-day price chart

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Litecoin (LTC) has seen impressive daily has, rallying by over 16% at press time to trade at $92.37.

The Miami Dolphins, an American pro football team, announced on July 12 that they had adopted LTC as the team’s “official cryptocurrency.” The Dolphins will reportedly endorse the altcoin, and set up home stadium kiosks that allow fans to buy 50/50 raffle tickets with LTC as well as BTC.

The total market cap of the top 100 cryptocurrencies is currently under $254 billion, according to the data provided by Coin360’s summary table. This is approximately a $76 billion dropoff since July 4.

Traditional markets, meanwhile, are virtually all slumping. Gold is the only major traditional asset seeing mild gains at press time, according to data provided by MarketWatch.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here
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Price Analysis 17/07: BTC, ETH, XRP, LTC, BCH, EOS, BNB, BSV, XLM, TRX

This dip is a good buying opportunity in Bitcoin. What are the critical levels to watch out for? 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 the HitBTC exchange.

Bitcoin rallied from $3,355 on Jan. 29 to a high of $13,973.5 on June 26. That is a gain of 316.49% in just under five months. In that, the last 56% of the rally happened after Facebook unveiled Libra. In the past few days, Libra has come under increased scrutiny from regulators and politicians and Bitcoin has given back the last leg of the gains. 

While Libra might dent sentiment in the short term, it is unlikely to change the long-term trend in Bitcoin that is buoyed by fundamentals. Digital asset management fund Grayscale Investments has reported a significant growth in its assets under management, which has hit an all-time high of $2.7 billion with huge participation from institutional players. Similarly, Bitcoin’s average transaction volume has jumped from $1.04 billion on April 17 to $3.22 billion on July 16, according to crypto analytics site Coinmetrics.io. 

We believe that the current correction is a good entry point because soon the crypto markets will turn their focus on the launch of Bakkt, the increasing interest shown by institutional investors and Bitcoin halving due next year. However, instead of buying in a downtrend, we suggest traders wait for a bottom to be signaled before jumping in. 

BTC/USD

Bitcoin (BTC) broke below the 50-day SMA on July 16 for the first time since February 17 of this year.  Though this is a negative sign, we will watch whether the selling intensity picks up or whether the price reverses direction and quickly rises back above the 50-day SMA.

If the BTC/USD pair climbs back above the 50-day SMA and sustains, it will indicate buying support at lower levels. The pair will gain strength on a breakout above the 20-day EMA. While the 20-day EMA has started to turn down, the 50-day SMA is still sloping up, which suggests that the medium-term trend is bullish. Therefore, we are on the lookout to buy if we spot a reversal pattern on the pair.

Contrary to our assumption, if the price fails to find buyers and continues its decline, it can dive to the $7,451.63–$6,933.90 support zone. However, we give this a low probability of occurring.

ETH/USD

The rebound off the uptrend line did not find buyers above $235.70 on July 15 and 16, hence, Ether (ETH) again dipped back to the uptrend line. The moving averages have completed a bearish crossover and the RSI is close to the oversold zone, which suggests that bears are back in the game. If the uptrend line breaks down, the next stop is at $150. 

However, if the current rebound off the uptrend line breaks out of $235.70, the ETH/USD pair can rally to the 20-day EMA, which will offer stiff resistance. If the next dip sustains above $224.086, the pair might enter a range-bound action. We will wait for the buyers to assert their supremacy before proposing a trade in it.

XRP/USD

Ripple (XRP) is attempting to bounce off the critical support at $0.27795. This support has held on four previous occasions since mid-December last year, hence, we anticipate a strong defense once again. However, both the moving averages are turning down and the RSI is close to oversold levels. This suggests that the bears are in command. 

If the price slips below $0.27795, it can drop to the yearly low of $0.24508. A breakdown to new yearly lows will be very negative for the XRP/USD pair. Conversely, if the current rebound sustains, it can move up to 20-day EMA, which is likely to act as a stiff resistance. If the next dip holds above $0.27795, we might suggest a strategy to trade it. 

LTC/USD

Litecoin (LTC) broke down of the critical support of $83.65 on July 16. However, the bears could not take advantage of the breakdown, as prices are staging a smart recovery today. The price has risen back above $83.65 and is likely to retest the breakdown level of the channel.

The 20-day EMA is sloping down and the RSI is close to the oversold zone, which indicates that bears are in command. Therefore, we anticipate a stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA. If the price turns down from the 20-day EMA and breaks below $76, the decline can extend to $66.47. On the other hand, if the bulls push the price inside the ascending channel and sustain it, the LTC/USD pair can rise to $120 and above it to $140.345. We shall wait for the price to confirm a bottom before suggesting a trade in it.

BCH/USD

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is in a downtrend and is trading in the bottom half of the descending channel. The 20-day EMA is sloping down and the RSI is close to the oversold zone, which shows that bears have the upper hand. The previous recovery attempt fizzled out at $325.75 on July 15. 

However, bulls held the support line of the descending channel on July 16 and are currently attempting to push the price back above $325.75 once again. If successful, a rally to the 20-day EMA is possible. A breakout of the channel will signal a probable change in trend. However, if the current recovery attempt fails, the BCH/USD pair can slide to $227.70 and below it to $166.98.

EOS/USD

EOS broke down of the critical support of $3.8723 on July 16. Both the moving averages are sloping down and the RSI is in oversold territory, which suggests that bears are firmly in the driver’s seat. It has a minor support at $3, below which the drop can extend to $2.20. 

Any relief rally will now face selling in the $3.8723–$4.493 resistance zone and above it at the 20-day EMA. The first positive sign will be if the EOS/USD pair breaks out and sustains above $4.493. We will wait for the pair to stop falling and form a bullish reversal pattern before recommending a trade in it.

BNB/USD

The bulls are trying to keep Binance Coin (BNB) inside the descending channel because if the price breaks down and closes (UTC time frame) below the support line of the channel, it can drop to the next support at $18.30.

Currently, the BNB/USD pair has bounced sharply from the support line of the channel. The buyers will attempt to propel the price back above the uptrend line, which will be a positive sign. If the price can sustain above the uptrend line, it will invalidate the current breakdown. The pair is the strongest major altcoin, hence, we might suggest long positions on a breakout of the descending channel. 

BSV/USD

Bitcoin SV (BSV) could not re-enter the channel on July 16 and the price turned around and resumed the down move. There is a minor support at $107, below which the fall can reach $93.680, which is the 78.6% Fibonacci retracement of the rally. 

If the BSV/USD pair breaks down of $93.680, the next stop will be at $50.030. With the 20-day EMA sloping down and the RSI in oversold territory, the advantage is clearly with the bears. Nevertheless, if the pair bounces off the current levels and re-enters inside the descending channel, it can rally to the 20-day EMA and above it to the resistance line of the channel. We suggest traders wait for the trend to change before initiating fresh positions.

XLM/USD

Stellar (XLM) broke below the support of $0.080 on July 16. The failure of bulls to defend the support near the yearly lows shows a lack of demand. Both the moving averages are sloping down and the RSI is close to the oversold zone, which suggests that bears are in command. 

The next support on the downside is at the yearly low of $0.072545. If the bears sink the XLM/USD pair below this level, it will be a huge negative.

However, if the price rebounds from the current levels and climbs above $0.085, it can move up to 20-day EMA. If the next dip stays above $0.08–$0.085 support zone, it will indicate strength and a probable range formation. We will recommend long positions after the boundaries of the range are confirmed. Until then, we remain neutral on the cryptocurrency.

TRX/USD

Tron (TRX) has continued to slide after breaking down of the channel. This shows that long positions are being forced to bail out as the trend has changed from up to down. The 20-day EMA is sloping down and the RSI has dipped close to the oversold territory, which suggests that bears are in control.

The TRX/USD pair plunged below the support of $0.022 on July 16 but the bulls are presently trying to reclaim the level. If the price fails to sustain above $0.022, the fall can extend to $0.01774.

Conversely, if the price closes (UTC time frame) above $0.022, it can move up to the 20-day EMA, which is likely to act as a stiff resistance. The bulls need to push the price above the downtrend line to signal a trend change. 

Market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

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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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Bitcoin Dips Below $10,000 for the Second Time in July

Bitcoin dipped below the $10,000 threshold for the second time in July following a hearing on Facebook’s Libra crypto project.

The Bitcoin (BTC) price has dipped below the $10,000 price mark on July 16, while all top 20 coins by market cap are seeing significant losses.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin has dipped below $10,000 threshold for the second time this month after the biggest cryptocurrency broke a multi-month high above $13,700 on June 26. After Bitcoin attempted another recovery to reach nearly $11,000 yesterday, the major coin has dropped to $9,616 at press time, down 8.22% over the past 24 hours. The biggest cryptocurrency is down more than 22% over the past 7 days.

Bitcoin 30-day price chart

Bitcoin 30-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin failed to hold the $10,000 support amid the hearing on Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project with the Banking Committee of the United States Senate. 

Yesterday, American entrepreneur and crypto advocate John McAfee doubled down his prediction that Bitcoin will reach $1 million by 2020, despite the sinking price.

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Price Analysis 15/07: BTC, ETH, XRP, LTC, BCH, EOS, BNB, BSV, TRX, XLM

Can Bitcoin again lead the next leg of the recovery? 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 the HitBTC exchange.

The sharp recovery from the lows led by Bitcoin was largely based on the pretext that institutional players had finally started to take greater interest in the asset class. The sharp uptick in Bitcoin futures volumes and increased demand for Grayscale Bitcoin Trust shares was thought to be indicative of this. 

However, Binance’s chief executive Changpeng Zhao, in an interview with Bloomberg, said that there has been an equal growth in both institutional and retail trading. The retail traders still account for about 60% of trading volume at Binance, which shows that institutional trading growth “has not increased that tremendously in 2019 yet.”

Strong opposition to Facebook’s Libra project and negative tweets by United States President Donald Trump gave reasons for bulls to book profits. Though some major altcoins have corrected close to their yearly lows, Bitcoin is still holding well above it. Hence, we are viewing the current fall as a buying opportunity. Should traders buy now or wait for lower levels? Let’s analyze the charts.

BTC/USD

Bitcoin (BTC) broke below the symmetrical triangle on July 14, which is a bearish sign. The 20-day EMA is flattening out and the RSI is just below 50, which suggests a balance between buyers and sellers. 

BTC/USD

Currently, the BTC/USD pair is attempting to bounce off the 50-day SMA. The bulls will face stiff resistance at 20-day EMA but if they succeed in pushing the price above it, a rally to the resistance line of the triangle is probable.

However, if the price reverses direction from the 20-day EMA and plummets below the 50-day SMA, it can drop to $8,900 and if that level also breaks down, the next support is way lower at $7451.63. As the pair has been strong and is still quoting above its 50-day SMA, we remain bullish on it. However, we will wait for the price to show signs of a turnaround before recommending a long position in it.

ETH/USD

The bulls could not push Ether (ETH) above 50-day SMA on July 12. The price turned down sharply and broke below the next support of $224.086. Currently, the digital currency is attempting to bounce off the uptrend line. 

ETH/USD

The moving averages are on the verge of a bearish crossover, which shows that bears are back in the game. A breakdown of the uptrend line will be a negative sign that can result in a deeper correction to $160.

Conversely, if bulls succeed in sustaining the price above $224.086, it will indicate demand at lower levels. Any rally will face stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA. We will wait for the price to trade above $224.086 for a few days before suggesting a long position in it.

XRP/USD

Ripple (XRP) has been among the worst-performing major cryptocurrencies. It did not participate in the recovery and has fallen sharply when the sentiment turned negative. The next supports on the downside are at $0.27795 and below it at the yearly low of $0.24508. 

XRP/USD

Both the moving averages have turned down and the RSI is close to oversold territory. This suggests that the bears are in command. A breakdown to new yearly lows will be a huge negative for the cryptocurrency.

However, the XRP/USD pair has not closed (UTC time frame) below $0.27795 since mid-December last year. Hence, we anticipate buying close to the support. Any attempt to recover will face stiff resistance at the 20-day EMA. We will wait for buyers interest to return in the pair before recommending a trade in it.

LTC/USD

Litecoin (LTC) has broken down of the ascending channel. It is currently bouncing off the next support of $83.65. The 20-day EMA is sloping down and the RSI is in oversold territory, which suggests bears are in the driver’s seat. If the digital currency breaks down of $83.65, it can drop to $66.

LTC/USD

Conversely, if the LTC/USD pair bounces off $83.650 and re-enters the channel, it will be a positive sign. Any recovery will face selling at the 20-day EMA. We will wait for the price to sustain inside the channel before suggesting a trade in it.

BCH/USD

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is in a downtrend. It is trading inside a descending channel. The 20-day EMA is sloping down and the RSI is close to oversold territory, which suggests the bears are in command. 

BCH/USD

The bulls are currently attempting to keep the BCH/USD pair inside the channel. If successful, the price can move up to the resistance line of the channel. A breakout of the channel will be the first sign of a trend change. However, if the price breaks down of the channel, the next support is at $227.70. If this support also cracks, the correction can reach $166.98. 

EOS/USD

EOS plunged below the first support of $4.4930 on July 14 and has bounced off the support at $3.8723. Both the moving averages have turned down and the RSI has dipped into the oversold zone, which shows that sellers have the advantage. 

EOS/USD

If $3.8723 fails to provide support, the next stop might be $3. On the other hand, if the EOS/USD pair bounces off $3.8723, it can move up to 20-day EMA, which is likely to act as a stiff resistance. If the next pullback to $3.8723 holds, we might suggest a trade in it. Until then, we remain neutral on the cryptocurrency. 

BNB/USD

The pullback in Binance Coin (BNB) reversed direction from the 20-day EMA and broke below the critical support of $28.7168. Currently, bulls are attempting to hold the uptrend line. Both the moving averages have completed a bearish crossover for the first time in 2019. This signals a likely change in trend. 

BNB/USD

If the BNB/USD pair breaks down of the uptrend line and the descending channel, it will turn negative and can drop to the next support at $18.30. Conversely, if bulls defend the uptrend line, it will try to move up to the resistance line of the descending channel. A breakout of the moving averages will indicate strength. Though it has been one of the outperformers, we will wait for it to resume its up-move before proposing a trade in it.

BSV/USD

Bitcoin SV (BSV) broke below the descending channel and the critical support of $134.360 on July 14. When the price easily breaks through important support levels, it shows that sellers are in a hurry to get out and buyers are not willing to step in. This is a bearish sign. 

BSV/USD

Both moving averages have completed a bearish crossover and the RSI has dipped into oversold territory. This shows that bears are in command. 

There is a minor psychological support at $100 and below that at $93.680, which is the 78.6% Fibonacci retracement of the rally. If both these supports give way, the BSV/USD pair can plummet to $50.030, a full 100% retracement of the rally. Any attempt to recover will face resistance at the 20-day EMA, which is sloping down. 

TRX/USD

Tron (TRX) plunged below the trendline of the ascending channel on July 14. This is a bearish sign because this is the first instance when price has broken down of the trendline since the end of November last year. The 20-day EMA is sloping down and the RSI has dropped close to the oversold zone. This suggests bears are in command. 

TRX/USD

The next support is at $0.022 and if that breaks, the fall can extend to $0.017. However, before that, we expect a retest of the breakdown level. If the bulls can push the price back inside the channel, the current breakdown will be considered as a bear trap. Nevertheless, if the price fails to stay inside the channel and turns down, it will confirm a downtrend. We will get a clear picture within the next few days. Until then, we suggest traders remain on the sidelines.

XLM/USD

Stellar (XLM) dipped below $0.085 but found support closer to $0.080. Hence, it might remain range-bound between $0.08 and $0.145. Both the moving averages are sloping down and the RSI is close to the oversold zone. This shows that bears have the upper hand. 

XLM/USD

If the XLM/USD pair plunges below $0.080, it can retest the lows at $0.072545. A breakdown to new yearly lows will be very negative. However, with the $0.080–$0.085 support zone holding, bulls will try to keep the pair inside the range. The first resistance on the upside is at the 20-day EMA. A breakout of it will be a sign that the bulls are back in the game. Therefore, we suggest traders wait for the price to bounce off the support and rise above 20-day EMA before initiating a long position.

Market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

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Buterin Proposes Bitcoin Cash Integration to Scale Ethereum in Short Term

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin believes that Bitcoin Cash has the best network to become a temporary scalability solution for Ethereum.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has proposed to use the Bitcoin Cash blockchain as a temporary scalability solution for the Ethereum network. The programmer introduced a summary of the idea in a July 13 post on the Ethereum Research.

As previously reported, the Ethereum network has experienced some scalability issues, with its native blockchain capable of processing as few as 15 transactions per second (TPS), while its major competitor Ripple is reportedly estimated to have a TPS capacity of 1,500. 

As such, the Ethereum community has been working on Ethereum 2.0, a major network upgrade that is expected to improve its scalability once ETH shifts from proof-of-work to the proof-of-stake algorithm.

While the first stages of the Ethereum 2.0 shift are expected to come in early 2020, Buterin has now suggested deploying other blockchains as a new option for improving Ethereum scalability in the short term. Specifically, Buterin said the Bitcoin Cash blockchain is a perfect match for this purpose as the hard fork cryptocurrency provides a data throughput of around 53 kilobytes (KB) per second, as opposed to Ethereum’s 8 KB.

Additionally, Buterin outlined three other compelling reasons for using the blockchain, including low fees, the readiness of necessary machinery and the Bitcoin Cash community’s openness to people using the blockchain “for whatever they want as long as they pay the transaction fees.”

In the post, Buterin noted Bitcoin Cash’s 10 minute block time as the main impediment to becoming a good Ethereum scalability solution. However, the expert noted that this problem could be solved by zero-confirmation payments using techniques like Avalanche pre-consensus.

The crypto community on Twitter took a negative view on Buterin’s new Bitcoin Cash integration proposal, with some commentators forecasting that such a scenario could lead both Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash to a faster collapse.

Francis Pouliot, co-founder of blockchain consulting firm Catallaxy, tweeted that the recent proposal by Buterin signifies a failure of the Ethereum project, while Bitcoin integration will just delay and unsolved scalability crisis.

Recently, another Ethereum co-founder, Joseph Lubin, claimed that Ethereum has “already scaled quite significantly.”