Iran Changes Mind, Decides it Doesn’t Actually Like Bitcoin After All

In October 2017, the Iranian government all but decided to implement Bitcoin as a means to completely bypass sanctions, while also allowing citizens to conduct international trades otherwise not possible. Now, however, the Islamic Republic on the Persian coast has changed its mind.


A Foolish Inconsistency

According to the independent Iranian news site Iran Front Page (via Fortune), the Republic’s central bank claims it never recognized, nor planned on recognizing, Bitcoin as an official currency. It also denies all claims that it was actively facilitating Bitcoin transactions to circumvent sanctions while making some rather bearish statements on cryptocurrencies in general:

The wild fluctuations of the digital currencies along with competitive business activities underway via network marketing and pyramid scheme [tactics] have made the market of these currencies highly unreliable and risky.

A Foolish Inconsistency

Interestingly, Iran’s central bank is not only claiming to be disinterested in cryptocurrency but is actively looking to “control and prevent digital currencies” in the country.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…

Though many Iranians are already accustomed to the decentralized benefits of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the country’s government is not. However, as is almost always the case, Iran’s anti-crypto stance coincides with a very pro-blockchain sentiment.

According to reports, Iran’s technology minister announced this week that the government is actively working on the creation of their own, state-issued cryptocurrency — possibly allowing the country, which is largely excluded from major international payment networks such as Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal, to circumvent international sanctions.

Bitcoin in Venezuela

This news, of course, follows the launch of Venezuela’s own supposedly oil-backed cryptocurrency, Petro — the first state-issued cryptocurrency in history. Venezuela is currently in the midst of an extreme economic crisis, with much of the country suffering from food shortages and a crackdown on human rights, and the potential for Petro to solve any of Venezuela’s issues is speculative at best.

Israel – no friend of Iran – is also considering their own state-issued cryptocurrency. Late last year, Israel’s Ministry of Finance confirmed they are considering they’re own crypto, the Shekel, in hopes of reducing the number of cash transactions made within the middle eastern country.

What do you think of Iran’s supposed flip-flopping of opinion in regards to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency? Do you think we’ll see more state-issued cryptocurrencies in the future? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of AdobeStock, Wikimedia Commons

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Ripple Is On the Verge of Major Price Correction

Major Price Correction

Ripple price (XRP) rose significantly in the last two weeks amid its penetration in the financial sector; the price is now struggling to extend the momentum. What’s going on? XRP price dipped for the fourth straight session on Wednesday, and the price plunged below $103. There was no particular event or market report that could change the bullish trend; the downside movement signifies a major price correction – possibly the end of the Bull-Run.   

Has The Bulls Enthusiasm Faded?

Bulls had pushed ripple and other cryptocurrency prices in the last two weeks, with the …

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Could US Law Enforcement Benefit from Storing Cryptocurrency Seizures on a Blockchain?

As cryptocurrency usage becomes more widespread both above and below the law, various authorities are increasingly required to perform seizures on funds used in criminal cases. Thanks to the various anonymity properties of digital coins, however, it’s proving difficult to track these forfeitures. This lack of transparency leaves critics of the government musing over the possibility that not all digital currency is being sold fairly and through the correct channels. If only there was some way of publicly recording details regarding funds acquired through forfeiture and their sale…

Seizures are Rife, Reports are Less So

There is no shortage of examples of government agencies seizing digital currencies. High profile cases like that of Alexandre Cazes, the ringleader behind global dark web marketplace Alpha Bay, and Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind Silk Road have involved huge sums of cryptocurrency being turned over to the government.

More recently, 513 Bitcoins were seized from a seller of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Utah, and Fortune reports a kidnapping case in which a man was bundled into what he thought was an Uber and was forced to surrender private keys at gunpoint. Those behind the incident were able to make off with $1.8 million in ETH tokens. They promptly converted these to BTC which then soared in price. What remains unclear is who should receive all that extra cash.

There are many more examples of forfeiture involving digital currency making the total amount of seized funds incredibly difficult to work out. This is exacerbated by anonymity properties of digital coins, along with the penchant for secrecy within some of the agencies making the seizures.

A website, Forfeiture.gov, exists that documents cases of forfeiture in the States. However, their records are fleeting. They’re regularly updated and old cases are removed with the addition of new ones. In addition, there are often long periods between the seizure of assets and their appearance in any records and some sales of cryptocurrency aren’t reported at all.

It seems somewhat ironic that the very technology behind digital currency, the blockchain, could provide the transparency needed in such matters. An attorney who has worked extensively on cases of forfeiture, Alex Lakatos, feels that some form of central registry would be beneficial:

“This country is weirdly lacking in central registries… we don’t know how much property has been seized.”

Since there is no law obliging the government to provide such a ledger, one has yet to be created. It’s argued that increased transparency would likely tip criminals off to the methods used by law enforcement and thus undermine operations.

However, there are plenty who feel that this lack of transparency is completely unacceptable and promotes underhand behaviour from those working in government agencies. Clifford Histed, an attorney at K&L Gates spoke to Fortune of the historical precedent for embezzlement in cases of forfeiture:

“I’ve spent 23 years in law enforcement and, unfortunately, I believe as long as police have been seizing cash, some have been skimming it… I don’t think Bitcoin will prove any different.”

Whilst there is no hard evidence to suggest that government agents have been misappropriating funds from seizures, the ease with which it could be taking place concerns lawyers and libertarians alike. An investigation into the Marshals Service last September uncovered examples of the agency using seized funds to pay for such unnecessary luxuries as “high-end granite countertops and expensive custom artwork.” Amusingly, much of this was found at the new Asset Forfeiture Academy in Houston. Surely, with such incidents occurring and the numbers of seizures only set to grow, there should be some effort made to provide transparency to avoid allegations of corruptions.

 

 

 

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Tesla’s Amazon Cloud Account Hacked to Mine Cryptocurrency

Tesla, the automotive company, was the victim of a cryptojacking attack as their Amazon cloud account was compromised and used to mine cryptocurrency.


Even the largest and most technologically advanced companies can be vulnerable to being hacked. Case in point is the pioneering electric car company, Tesla, owned by tech billionaire Elon Musk. They were recently the target of a cryptojacking attack that saw their Amazon cloud account compromised and used to mine cryptocurrency.

Tesla car

Security Not up to Snuff

A hacker, or group of hackers, hijacked an IT administrative console belonging to Tesla that had no password protection. The cybercriminals then used sophisticated scripts to begin mining for cryptocurrency.

The hack was discovered by RedLock, a cybersecurity firm. Apparently, researchers for RedLock were tracking down which groups had left their Amazon Web Services credentials openly exposed on the internet. One of the groups that RedLock found was Tesla.

Of the hack, a Tesla spokesman says:

We maintain a bug bounty program to encourage this type of research, and we addressed this vulnerability within hours of learning about it..

The impact seems to be limited to internally used engineering test cars only, and our initial investigation found no indication that customer privacy or vehicle safety or security was compromised in any way.

Crafty Hackers

RedLock notes that the hackers exposed an Amazon “simple storage service” (S3) bucket that held telemetry, mapping, and vehicle servicing data for Tesla. It appears that individual information was not accessed, but the CEO of RedLock, Varun Badhwar, says that they “didn’t try to dig in too much” and instead alerted the car company.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Badhwar says that the hackers were pretty crafty in hiding their tracks. They made sure to lower the CPU usage demanded by the Stratum software they were using for cryptocurrency mining. This allowed the mining to be virtually undetected. The hackers also kept their internet addresses secret by hiding behind the services of a content delivery service, CloudFlare.

Overall, it is unknown what cryptocurrency the hackers mined for. The current popular choice is Monero. The amount of cryptocurrency mined by the hackers is also unknown.

For their efforts, RedLock were given $3,133.70 by Tesla as part of the company’s bounty program to reward outside hackers who find flaws in their system. The amount is a reference to 1337, which is old hacker slang for elite.

Tesla is not alone in being the victim of cryptojacking. RedLock estimates that 58% of businesses that use public cloud services have exposed “at least one cloud storage device” to the public. Of that amount, the cybersecurity firm says a full 8% have had cryptojacking incidents.

Do you think companies like Tesla can do more to protect themselves from cryptojacking attacks? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Flickr/@Maurizio Pesce, Pixabay, and Flickr/@JD Lasica.

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Russian Bank to Develop Blockchain-Based Payment System

blockchain

Everyone seems to be interested in Blockchain. It might even be more popular than cryptocurrency itself. Or is that too much of a stretch? Either way, there have been a number of companies and banks announcing pivots into the blockchain sector. Now, it seems the latest to make a move into the industry is Russian state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB). 

What’s Going On?

The world is now aware that the governor of Kaliningrad, Anton Alkikhanov, and the chairman of VEB, Sergei Gorkov, had a meeting last week at the Russian Investment Forum in Sochi. At the …

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Lisk Rebrands in Berlin but Fails to Lift Price

A relaunch or rebrand usually does wonders for a cryptocurrency or blockchain project. The latest to revamp their look, website, and products is Berlin based Lisk which held an event yesterday. The team addressed an audience of over 500 highlighting new products, core updates, and a vision for the future.

The conference started out with a fancy introduction and a keynote by Max Kordek, co-founder and president of the Lisk Foundation. His main focus was on the goal to make blockchain technology open for everyone through the Lisk platform. Christian Vatter from Rlevance then took the stage to explain how the company achieved its new branding and what Lisk actually is.

Rebranded Lisk Products

In its strive to make blockchain technology accessible for everybody Lisk has built a blockchain application platform for users and developers to build upon, one with aspirations to be so successful that any Javascript developer can jump onboard immediately. The ethos being that it is not about the technology but the benefit to the people.

A new series of product names were then introduced by marketing lead Thomas Schouten. These included Lisk Core which remained unchanged, JS and Lisky which are part of the SDK, were rebranded to Lisk Element sand Lisk Commander, and the App became Lisk Hub. Lisk Nano will be discontinued and Lisk Hub will take its place to act as a one-stop dashboard, combining the functionality from the wallet and blockchain explorer. The presentation continued to show the basic workings and setup of the platform for developers. A series of professional videos were shown before a new website was unveiled to be launched this week.

Jacob Kowalewski then introduced the Lisk Academy which aims to educate on blockchain technology and instruct on how to implement blockchain into business. A technical panel explained Lisk Core 1.0.0. which will be a culmination of development efforts over the last few months. Its release will be a major back end milestone ahead of the rollout of the entire Sidechain Development Kit. Finally, Kordek wrapped up summarizing the event and thanking the contributors and audience.

Price Action Unaffected

The Lisk team offered some seriously slick marketing and plans for the future however its price action has taken a beating along with the rest of the altcoins during trading today. LSK is down over 10% on the day but marginally over the week, it is currently trading at $25.74 according to Coinmarketcap.

Looking at the bigger picture LSK has doubled since the February 6 dip and has shown steady increases over the past 3 months climbing over 250% from its late-November levels. The total market capacity for LSK is $2.6 billion and $223 million has been traded in the past 24 hours, the total supply is only 118 million. Lisk has shown to be a very resilient digital asset, and if the conference was anything to go by the team has huge plans for the future of blockchain industry.

Photo: Twitter @LiskHQ

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Steven Seagal Punches His Way into the Crypto World

Another celebrity has entered the cryptocurrency world. This time, it’s Steven Seagal as the action movie star endorses Bitcoiin2Gen.


There are times when you think things couldn’t get more interesting in the crypto world, but then it does. Such a time is now as the up-and-down world of Bitcoin and its cryptocurrency brethren have been graced by the deadly mitts of Steven Seagal. The 1990s action movie star is officially endorsing the Bitcoiin2Gen cryptocurrency.

Kung-Fu Crypto?

Out of the number of celebrities who have endorsed cryptocurrency, such as Floyd Mayweather, it’s surprising to see Steven Seagal added to that list. The actor hasn’t had a hit in 20 years and is currently known for churning out straight-to-DVD action films.

Seagal noted his new role of ambassador for the Bitcoiin2Gen cryptocurrency with a Tweet. Apparently, the worldview and ideology of Seagal mesh perfectly with those developing the new virtual currency. The official announcement notes:

As a Buddhist, Zen teacher, and healer, Steven lives by the principles that the development of the physical self is essential to protect the spiritual man. He believes that what he does in his life is about leading people into contemplation to wake them up and enlighten them in some manner. These are precisely the objectives of the Bitcoiin2Gen to empower the community by providing a decentralized P2P payment system with its own wallet, mining ecosystem and robust blockchain platform without the need of any third party.

Red Flags

There are some definite red flags associated with Bitcoiin2Gen. First off is its name, which is definitely riffing off of Bitcoin. What is amusing is that the virtual currency is actually based upon the Ethereum blockchain.

Steven Seagal

Another red flag is that there’s no listing on who the developers are behind the project. There’s no mention of any names on either the crypto’s website or whitepaper. The site’s domain was registered in Panama back in 2015 but changed hands sometime around January 8th.

As for the coin itself, the website and whitepaper are really just filled with buzzwords associated with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Investors are guaranteed a steady rate of return for hodling the coins.

Also, it’s not like the ICO that’s slated to begin in March for Bitcoiin is small potatoes. The company is planning on releasing 50 million coins, and their target for the ICO is $75 million for the soft cap and $250 million for the hard cap. Every 5 bucks nets you a B2G coin.

One wonders if Steven Seagal needs the money (he’s supposedly worth $16 million) or if he’s just getting paid to endorse something he knows little about. It would all be worth it if we get some movies like Bitcoiin: Out for Justice or Bitcoiin (Not to Be Confused with Bitcoin): Hard to Kill from this relationship.

BitcoiinB2G has released a statement, saying that they are not a pyramid scheme or a scam. You can read their statement here.

What do you think about Steven Seagal endorsing the Bitcoiin2Gen cryptocurrency? Do you think the new coin is a scam or not? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@sseagalofficial, Flickr/@Gage Skidmore, and the Kremlin.

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Telegram ICO Raises $850 Million, but Receives Major Backlash

Telegram ICO

Telegram closed its pre-sale ICO at record-breaking numbers. The team sent a document to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in which they claim that they have generated $850 million, so far. The SAFT backed ICO was aimed at major venture capital firms and other cryptocurrency whales. For putting money in early, these investors will receive discounts on the platform’s GRAM tokens. The public token sale is set for March and the team anticipates it will raise another $600 million more. However, that number may grow after the immediate success of the Telegram pre-sale.

The …

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ShineChain Brings the First Blockchain-Based Mutual Insurance Platform

ShineChain, A Global Mutual Insurance Community Based on Blockchain Technology, redefines the insurance marketplace. Led by its CEO Jin Hui, ShineChain is backed by a dedicated team of experts having an extensive industry experience and are all set to bring their vision to reality.

Jin Hui, the CEO of ShineChain, explains that industry experts realize that through the trust-creation and decentralization features, the blockchain technology can successfully tackle the challenges in the current insurance industry. Defining the scope of the project, Hui says:

ShineChain is opening a new chapter in the insurance industry, where blockchain technology is leveraged to insure the health and wellbeing of our members. In our society, we are seeing rapid development and drastic changes in our living and working environment. There are increasing instabilities, environmental disruptions and food safety issues.  Mutual Insurance has also become a necessary supplement to public and tradition commercial insurance programs.”

The ShineChain Platform & its Real Life Applications

Traditionally, the commercial insurance companies charge high premiums, have information asymmetry, risk of inflation and privacy concerns.

Once such example is the recent case of Aetna, the U.S. third-largest insurance provider having 23.1 million customers. As per California’s insurance commissioner’s investigation, a former medical director for the insurer admitted under oath that he never looked at patients’ records when deciding whether to approve or deny care. The insurance commissioner says:

“If the health insurer is making decisions to deny coverage without a physician actually ever reviewing medical records, that’s of significant concern to me as insurance commissioner in California — and potentially a violation of law”.

ShineChain could solve such problems and other problems faced by both customers of health insurance as well as the lawmakers tasked with monitoring the lawful sale of these services. This is because its business model is based on blockchain technology, which eliminates the chances of insurance fraud, higher cost, inefficient data exchange, privacy leakages and improper decision making. As shown in Aetna’s case, these issues are inevitable in the traditional insurance model, but the ShineChain insurance system will mitigate these challenges.

In the context of Aetna case, it is evident that the health insurance company made decisions on the allocation of care without reading medical records. The use of block chain technology would have alerted the insurance monitors to this violation. This is because blockchain algorithms can be designed to keep track of the chain of custody for each individual document as it goes through the approval process. The person who reviewed the document and the time that they spent on each document can even be spent be logged to the page level. This is what ShineChain ecosystem is based upon, which makes it bear significant real-life implications in the current insurance industry. ShineChain is able to catch these inconsistencies in real time.

The Effective Process & SHE Tokens

ShineChain connects customers and insurance providers using blockchain based smart contacts. SHE Tokens are the unit of exchange for this system. They will be used to synchronize all the transactionional activities within the ecosystem. SHE synchronizes all transactional activities, value transferal and message delivery across the platform. SHE is governed by smart contracts. Users, investors and managers hold SHE, ensuring a healthy flow and circulation.

ShineChain intends to deploy its ecosystem on the global market. Plans are in place to initially promote the system in Japan, Korea, Britain, the United States, Dubai and then the globally after the transaction line is listed. ShineChain issues SHE tokens for platform trading, so that people around the world can participate in this blockchain mutual Insurance community.

Customers use SHE to pay premiums and gain SHE as compensation for claims. As a hedge against future token value deflation, the number of SHE tokens are locked after a user joins the ShineChain community.

ShineChain will have their product demo at the TokenSky Conference in Seoul, Korea on March, 14th and 15th 2018.  To learn more about this platform and invest in SHE tokens, please visit http://www.shinechain.org.

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South Korea to ‘Support’ And ‘Encourage’ Crypto Transactions – Regulator Chief

South Korea will “encourage” banks to interact with cryptocurrency exchanges, regulators have said in a surprising development in the country’s narrative.


Choe: We Want ‘Normal’ Transactions

As local news media outlet Yonhap News Agency reports Tuesday, Choe Heung-sik, governor of the Financial Supervisory Service, has announced government organs will “support” all legitimate transactions in the cryptocurrency trading space.

The comments were delivered during a meeting which included representatives from South Korea’s exchange industry.

The emphasis appeared to be on legal versus illegal transactions, with the promise of support “if normal transactions are made.”

South Korea Issues Ban on ICOsChoe’s hinting at a more open-minded stance from Seoul going forward forms part of a recent departure from lawmakers’ harsher words which caused public outrage in recent months.

Since December, talk of an outright ban on cryptocurrency exchanges had metamorphosed into a ban on anonymous trading. This was then joined by plans to create a Japan-style exchange licensing system, constituting an about turn in the space’s legal prospects.

Turbulence As Police Investigate Official Death

Despite the rapidly-changing landscape, however, Yonhap notes the general atmosphere of confusion and hesitation on the part of exchanges themselves to embrace the current market.

“Currently, local banks have been reportedly reluctant to open virtual accounts for cryptocurrency trading amid the government’s crackdown,” it adds commenting on the teething problems witnessed following the anonymous trading ban when it became law January 30.

 

On Monday, the government released data showing South Korea’s exchanges generated taxable revenues amounting to almost $650 million in 2017. Taxation, hastily enacted last month and worth 24.2% of that figure, is due for payment by the end of April.

At the same time, a more solemn development this week saw Jung Ki-joon, the official working on future cryptocurrency treatment plans suddenly die of a heart attack. Police investigating the event have since announced a more in-depth review will be carried out.

What do you think about Choe Heung-sik’s plans for cryptocurrency treatment? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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