Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus

The decree signed by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko which legalizes cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, and smart contracts, will enter into force in March. Cryptocurrency activities are not restricted by the decree and will be tax exempt until 2023.

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Cryptocurrencies Soon To Be Legal

Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus Starting in March
Alexander Lukashenko.

The decree which legalizes cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and smart contracts in Belarus will go into effect on March 28. Entitled “On the development of the digital economy,” it was signed by President Alexander Lukashenko on December 21, as reported previously.
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“The decree entitles legal entities and individual entrepreneurs who are residents of the High Technology Park (the HTP) to perform operations with tokens (including cryptocurrency),” explained Iryna Chelyshava, an associate attorney at the Belarusian law firm of Vlasova Mikhel & Partners. “Others can use tokens in the territory of Belarus through residents of the HTP,” she elaborated on Jurist.

Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus Starting in MarchThe HTP is a special economic zone with a special tax and legal regime in Belarus, analogous to Silicon Valley in the US. According to its website, 192 companies that develop software products and provide IT services to customers from 67 countries worldwide are residents of the park, 35% of which are enterprises with 100% foreign investments.

The park describes itself as “the main experimental site for the implementation of pilot projects,” including those based on cryptocurrencies. According to its announcement this week:

The HTP Administration draws your attention to the fact that Decree No.8 ‘On the development of the digital economy’ comes into force on March 28, 2018.

No Restrictions and No Taxes

“The new decree legalizes ICOs, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts,” the HTP explained. It “does not imply any restrictions and special requirements for the operations of creation, placement, storage, alienation, exchange of tokens, as well as the activities of crypto exchanges and crypto platforms.” Furthermore, the park clarified:

Activity such as mining, acquisition, alienation of tokens, carried out by individuals, are not entrepreneurial activities, and tokens are not subject to declaration. At the same time, until 2023, activities related to mining, the creation, acquisition and alienation of tokens are not taxed.

Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus Starting in MarchChelyshava explained that the decree provides the definition of tokens, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. “The definition given in the decree for cryptocurrency lists it as a version of the token,” she conveyed, adding that “for now the decree does not provide the criteria of cryptocurrency that would distinguish it from tokens.” As for smart contracts, the definition “is broad enough to encompass various approaches to the understanding of smart contracts that exist now,” she emphasized. For tokens, she wrote:

The decree does not specify the nature of the certain civil right, and therefore the concept of ‘token’ is provided with a high degree of flexibility.

By making smart contracts legal documents, “Belarus becomes the first country in the world to legalize smart contracts at the country level,” the HTP noted.

Anton Myakishev, the head of Microsoft’s Belarus office, told Reuters that “the decree is a breakthrough for Belarus,” adding that “it gives the industry the possibility to make a leap forward in its development and allows foreign capital the possibility to come to Belarus and work in comfortable conditions.”

What do you think of Belarus making a tax-free zone for cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bitconnect Shuts Down Its Exchange Citing a String of Excuses

In a move that will surprise few observers, Bitconnect has announced that it is closing its lending and exchange platform. The company has widely been accused of operating a Ponzi scheme and was recently rocked by cease and desist notices in two US states. Immediately after the firm declared its intention to wind things up, its BCC coin plummeted from $290 to under $10 before recovering slightly. With the exchange offline, many holders have been left locked out and powerless to sell their heavily deprecated assets.

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Bitconnect Bids Bye Bye

Pressure has been mounting on Bitconnect for months, with leading figures within the crypto community, from Vitalik Buterin to Jameson Lopp, speculating that the exchange was not all it was cracked up to be. News.Bitcoin.com reported on these rumors back in November before revealing, less than a fortnight ago, that the company had been slapped with an emergency cease and desist order in Texas. Among many red flags to have set alarm bells ringing were Bitconnect’s extremely odd marketing videos, described by one commenter as being “like scientology merged with hillsong infused with dorks and used car salesmen”.

Bitconnect Shuts Down Its Exchange, Citing a String of Excuses

In an update posted on the Bitconnect website, the company said it was halting its lending and exchange service due to the spate of cease and desist notices coupled with “bad press” and a string of DDoS attacks. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing DDoS attacks, the blog post can’t be accessed at this time. The “bad press” that Bitconnect cites, otherwise known as accurate reporting, has been invaluable in helping guide crypto newcomers away from the platform.

Bitconnect Shuts Down Its Exchange, Citing a String of Excuses

A Secret Blend of Herbs and Spices

The exact workings of Bitconnect’s secret sauce that purportedly makes its investors generous returns has never been disclosed, but the general consensus is that the whole operation is little more than a pyramid scheme. It is almost certain that Bitconnect’s “intelligent trading bot” which makes profitable trades and then shares those dividends with the community, does not exist.


The Bitconnect statement in full

It is not clear whether the news of Bitconnect’s lending service shutdown heralds the end of the company altogether, although it is hard to imagine it being able to limp on in any shape or form after shuttering its main hub. DDoS attacks are a tactic that a number of deep web marketplaces have used to sow confusion ahead of an exit scam. It is impossible to ascertain the origins of the distributed denial of service the site is under, though it it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the attack may have originated from close to home.

Bitconnect Shuts Down Its Exchange, Citing a String of Excuses

Bitconnect Token Falls Through the Floor

Historically, Bitconnect’s BCC token has been remarkably stable, maintaining steady growth in a pattern not dissimilar from that of bitcoin. But as news.Bitcoin.com noted back in November:

With most of the BCC in existence locked in the company’s exchange, if its founders were to perform an exit scam or wind up behind bars, millions of dollars of bitcoin would instantly be locked up and BCC would be rendered worthless.

That prophecy has now come to pass. Coinmarketcap reports zero trade volume on the Bitconnect platform in the last 60 hours, leaving its token still listed at $290 there. On other platforms though, such as Coinexchange, which recorded 24-hour BCC trade volume of $1.26 million, the token dropped to $8 before recovering to around $25 at the time of publication. Coinmarketcap, the web’s go-to cryptocurrency checker, has previously come in for criticism for hosting ads promoting Bitconnect. Coincodex, in comparison, has elected to post a notice alongside BCC warning investors away. Its CEO Marko Stokelj previously told news.Bitcoin.com:

Bitconnect employs a number of dubious methods in order to operate and promote its business. The business model outlined by the company is economically unsustainable with the current level of returns unable to be validated by any legally known investment system.

While some observers in the crypto community may feel a touch of schadenfreude at Bitconnect’s demise, it is worth being mindful of the many victims who will have suffered heavy losses. Thanks to its marketing strategy, including use of referral schemes, Bitconnect preyed on newbs who lacked the necessary understanding to differentiate legitimate cryptocurrencies from get rich quick schemes.

Bitconnect Shuts Down Its Exchange, Citing a String of Excuses

If the news emanating from Bitconnect’s 404’d website does prove to be terminal – and it’s hard to imagine the company coming back from this – there will at least be some good to come out of this story. A number of similar sites with names such as Ethconnect have appeared in recent months, each with the same opaque business model. The fall of Bitconnect will hopefully serve as a warning to other crypto startups not to go down the same route. For Bitconnect bag-holders, though, this cautionary tale will provide little consolation.

UPDATE: This post has since been updated to include a screenshot of the Bitconnect statement in full.

A Crying Foul Coinbase Withdrawal Delays Leave Users Frustrated

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) received yet another request to approve Wall Street bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This time, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) wishes to list five new ETFs, so-called leveraged and inverse funds which increase risk and reward.

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Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk/Reward

Wall Street Goes Short, Gets Bear, with Proposed Risky Bitcoin ETFs

The trope for years has been bitcoin’s volatility, risk, is too great for the sober adults of professional finance to be bothered. That myth was thoroughly smashed on 4 January 2018 when the NYSE Arca filed a fifty page request with the SEC. Wall Street wants Direxion Asset Management’s five ETFs, known as leveraged or inverse funds. The proposed funds up the risk level by twice, in either direction, and are short term investments. They’re easily some of the riskiest funds put forward.

ETFs are prized because they’re traded like stocks with the muscle of mutual funds. The SEC has yet to approve bitcoin ETFs, and applications for rule-changes are stacking up. Some estimates have requests for the cryptocurrency to be formally listed at nearly a dozen. This year enthusiasts will learn the financial product’s fate, most experts believe.

Direxion is presently asking five funds be listed: Direxion Daily Bitcoin Bear 1X Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.25X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.5X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bull Shares, and Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bear Shares. If approved they’d trade on the NYSE’s Arca market. Investors could see their returns as much as double; they could also see losses compound in the other direction just as fast.

Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk

Twice as Fast in Either Direction

The funds aren’t necessarily tethered to bitcoin’s spot price, but are instead a way to track bitcoin futures on markets such as those created by NYSE rivals Cboe and CME, with “investment results (before fees and expenses) that correlate positively to either 125%, 150%, or 200% the daily return of the target benchmark,” according to the filing.Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk

That assumes a bull market, but, again, losses are multiplied as well which logically means these are for short term investing (longer options are available). ETFs would bring even more mainstreaming to bitcoin with regard to the broader investment community.

It’s a curious move, but the risks are sure to attract investment. One would assume the natural bitcoin price spikes would be enough for adrenaline junkies. But there is still widespread skepticism and worry about actually owning and holding bitcoin among Wall Street types. Nevertheless, such short-term volatility is something many traders value. Indeed the filing insists the Direxion ETFs “enhance competition among market participants, to the benefit of investors and the marketplace.”

What do you think of bitcoin ETFs? Let us know in the comments section below

Locked Out Visa Veto Leaves Several European Cryptocurrency Cards

European cryptocurrency card holders are awakening to discover that their plastic is now worthless. A Visa-led crackdown has seen several crypto card issuers forced to call an end to their services across Europe. Visa subsidiary Wavecrest is being blamed for the withdrawal of service, which affects scores of crypto card issuers including Bitwala, Tenx, Bitpay, and Xapo.

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Visa Issues a Veto

Seemingly overnight, Visa, acting via Wavecrest, has put an end to cryptocurrency cards. The prepaid cards, which have become extremely popular in the crypto community, provide a means of indirectly paying for goods and services using cryptocurrency. The cards are a means of bridging the gap between the fiat and crypto worlds, preventing hodlers from needing to cash out to spend their digital assets.

Visa Veto Leaves Several European Cryptocurrency Cards Locked Out

Tenx’s PAY token has dropped discernibly since the story broke

As a result of the surprise crackdown, companies such as Cryptopay, Bitwala, and Bitpay have been left with no choice but to end their European services and return funds to users. Upon news of the clampdown emerging, the price of the PAY token linked to the Tenx card dropped by 15%. With the Tenx wallet on Bittrex still offline, seemingly as a result of the Spectre bug being patched, many token-holders have been unable to transfer PAY from their mobile wallets to their normal exchange. The Tenx PAY token was trading at $5 hours ago, but is now sitting at around $4.30.

Bitwala were one of the first card-issuers to break the story to their customers, tweeting:

Visa Veto Leaves European Cryptocurrency Cards Locked Out

Cryptopay tweeted: “Unfortunately, our card issuer instructed us to cease all Cryptopay prepaid cards starting January 5th, 2018. All funds stored on cards are safe and will be returned to your Cryptopay accounts ASAP. Sorry for all the inconvenience caused, we’re working on the solution!” Other crypto card companies have yet to pass comment, but it appears that the vast majority of European cryptocurrency cards are reliant on the Gibraltar-based Wavepay including Uquid, Coinsbank, Spectrocoin, Advcash, and Wirex.

Xapo’s European Service is Zapped

In an email sent to its customers today, Xapo explained: “Unfortunately, Xapo did not receive any anticipated notice to prepare for – and have our cardholders prepare for –  the cancellation of our Card program.” It continued:

Your Xapo Card has been deactivated, and you will not be able to use it for further payments or withdrawals. The rest of your Xapo account remains active, and you can continue to access your Xapo wallet balance and funds without interruptions. All other Xapo services are available for your use, as always.

The email finished: “As a token of our appreciation for being a loyal Xapo customer, once we are able to service Xapo Cards in your country again, we will offer you a new card free of charge. We are hard at work to find alternative card solutions for you. The past years have shown what a powerful product a cryptocurrency payment card can be, and we are already in discussions with potential card issuers allowing Xapo to continue serving customers in Europe and beyond.”

Legacy Finance Lashes Out

Visa Veto Leaves European Cryptocurrency Cards Locked OutThe reasons for Visa electing to wield the banhammer are unclear, though the company has long been regarded as hostile to bitcoin. Given that bitcoin threatens to disrupt the status quo, of which Visa is a firmly entrenched part, that tallies. Visa has stated that the cards have been suspended due to “continued non-compliance with our operating rules”, and insists the move isn’t part of a targeted campaign against cryptocurrency. It also claims that Visa cards which convert Bitcoin into fiat currency won’t be affected by the decision, stating:

Visa has other approved card programmes that use fiat funds converted from cryptocurrency in a number of jurisdictions. The termination of WaveCrest’s Visa membership does not affect these other products.

Web-users who value their financial freedom have long been been wary of Visa. This is the company, after all, which facilitated the financial blockade of Wikileaks in 2011. That decision ultimately proved to be Wikileaks’ salvation, with Julian Assange later crowing that the switch to bitcoin caused a windfall as the cryptocurrency began to multiply in price.

The repercussions of the Wavepay edict are still being felt, and it is too early to say whether the affected crypto companies will be able to find an alternative payment processor. Whatever the reason for the ban, the case illustrates something bitcoiners have known for years: too much centralization is a dangerous thing.

Do you think Visa has valid reasons for shutting down crypto cards, or is it simply hostile to cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.

After Tripling in a Week Stellar Rockets into the Cryptocurrency Top 10

2018 is still in diapers and yet the cryptocurrency top 10 is already looking very different to last year. Gone are the likes of dash, replaced by coins that have never reached these heady heights before: tron and stellar. The latter peaked at number six this week after tripling in value in seven days from a low of 32 cents. Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

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From a Ripple to a Rocket

Stellar is described is an open-source project with a “distributed, hybrid blockchain”. It “exists to facilitate cross-asset transfers of value, including payments. The Stellar Network forms “an open, global financial network where all actors – be they people, payment networks, or banks – have equal access”. If that sounds a lot like Ripple, that’s because it is: Stellar is Ripple’s sibling, having been created by Ripple cofounder Jed McCaleb after he left the company. McCaleb is also famous for having sold Mt Gox to Mark Karpeles in 2011. Stellar was initially a fork of the Ripple protocol, before later being extensively rewritten.

Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

Lumens (XLM) are the currency that power the Stellar Network, which boasts transaction times of under five seconds. The network has a fixed inflation rate of 1% per year. Like Ripple, Stellar’s targets are financial institutions and corporations, and the company has already inked deals with IBM and Deloitte; the latter is classified as a partner. Stellar’s goal, like that of many cryptocurrencies, is to become the web’s go-to payment solution. Low fees and fast transaction times are its two biggest claims, although the same can be said of many altcoins.

Billions of Lumens Shining Bright

In 2017, 29 cryptocurrencies exceeded bitcoin’s 1,600% gains, and stellar was one of them. Its value has grown an astonishing 28,000% in the space of a year. In the past 24 hours, $800 million lumens were traded on exchanges. The token reached an all-time high of 90 cents this week and is currently trading for around 75 cents.

Stellar Rockets Into the Cryptocurrency Top 10 After Tripling in a WeekSome commenters see Ripple and Stellar as locked in a battle for supremacy, enacting their own version of Bitcoin Core vs Bitcoin Cash. Given the similarities between Ripple and Stellar, including their shared codebase, people, and target audience, these comparisons are inevitable. In terms of developing relationships with banks and other financial institutions, Ripple is streets ahead, but Stellar has the upper hand in other areas.

For one thing, it’s not hoarding 60% of the total supply to itself. Ripple, on the other hand, still holds 55 billion XRP. The total number of coins in existence on each network is very similar though, standing at 100 billion ripple and 103 billion stellar. 17.8 billion stellar are in circulation right now, two billion of which were awarded to Stripe in 2014 in exchange for a $3 million loan. If Stripe still has them, those lumens are now worth billions.

Despite Stellar’s interstellar ascent, not everyone is convinced by the cryptocurrency.

Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

How Centralized is Stellar?

Like Ripple, Stellar usesstellar-1068x1068ich have close ties to Stellar. As a consequence, stellar is not a true decentralized currency. Generally speaking, the closer a cryptocurrency is aligned with institutional investors, the more centralized it is by design. For what it is worth, Stellar is at least less centralized than Ripple.

It is debatable whether Stellar is worth its $13 billion market cap, but then the same could be said of many cryptocurrencies lurking in the top 10, including Ripple, Tron, and Cardano. In an irrational market, assets are worth whatever the next buyer’s willing to pay for them, and right now that figure is higher than the one before. If Ripple can become a $3 coin, there’s no reason why Stellar can’t continue on its rocket ride to infinity and beyond. After months of bitcoin dominance, altcoin season has returned, and it’s the penny stocks of the crypto world that are shining the brightest.

Which project do you prefer – Stellar or Ripple? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ethereum Over $1000 and $100B Market Cap, BTC Dominance at 32% Record Low

This day might be remembered in the history books as a major milestone for cryptocurrency diversification or as another colossal indicator of the altcoin bubble. There are now three cryptocurrencies with over a $100 billion market cap each. Bitcoin, ethereum (ETH) and ripple (XRP) are worth today a combined total of about half a trillion USD.

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$100 Billion Club

Ethereum long term investors and short term speculators are celebrating alike today as the smart contracts altcoin has broken through the $1,000 per coin psychological barrier. Standing at about $1,040 at the time of writing, the overall value of all ETH in circulation is now over $100 billion. It is the third cryptocurrency in this exclusive club, behind only bitcoin and ripple.

And despite all the warnings about ripple being centralized and freezable speculators keep pouring in to XRP. After rising about 160% from just a week ago and 28% in the last 24 hours alone, its market cap is now well over $140 billion. With a price of just under $4 per coin, part of this movement has to be due to penny stock mentality of new traders seeking a “cheap bitcoin” to bet on.

Ethereum Over $1000 and $100B Market Cap, BTC Dominance at 32% Record Low Altogether, with bitcoin over $250 billion market cap, the three top cryptocurrencies are now worth just shy of $500 billion. Putting this mind boggling number into perspective, its just about 10% below the combined stock value of Visa (NYSE:V $265 billion), Mastercard (NYSE: MA $166 billion), American (NYSE: AXP $87 billion), and Discover (NYSE: DFS $28 billion).

Entering a Multi-Polar World?

Bitcoin has been able to maintain an impressive price level at $15,000 and a quarter trillion USD market cap in the face of this altcoin onslaught, but its market share has suffered. The BTC Dominance Index is now just above 32%, a new all time low, which means that bitcoin is for first time worth less than a third of the crypto market.

While some of ripple’s staunch supporters, as well as fans that heard about it a week ago, are cheering on for “The Rippening” maybe its time to forget about the term and any other Flippening. It is possible that we are simply seeing a paradigm shift in the market, from one leading cryptocurrency and a thousand copy cats to a top heavy, multi-polar landscape. This can probably only be validated in the next big correction, when all the short term speculators will scatter away and either bitcoin will remain alone at the top or not.

Ethereum Over $1000 and $100B Market Cap, BTC Dominance at 32% Record Low

Do you think that bitcoin will continue to lose its market dominance to altcoins in 2018? Share your predictions in the comments section below!

Bitcoin Fees Are Falling Amidst Greater Segwit Adoption

Transaction fees, a bugbear for many in the bitcoin community, are on their way down. Spiraling fees were a contentious issue that reached fever pitch in the twilight of 2017. But with the dawn of a new year, bitcoin has been blessed with reduced fees, set against a backdrop of increased Segwit adoption.

 

Fees Have Halved from Their December Peak

After spending the final quarter of 2017 ramping up, transaction fees on the bitcoin network have finally begun to decline. Bitcoinfees.info indicates an average fee of $15.79 to have a transaction mined within the next six blocks, rising slightly to $16.54 for the next three blocks and $17.29 for the next block. The median withdrawal fee from exchanges such as Bitfinex this week has been closer to $14 however.

While $14-$16 is still more than many people would like to spend, it’s an improvement at least over the $30 bitcoin fees that were reached during December. Estimatefee.com quotes an average of 358 satoshis/byte to move a transaction within the next six blocks. The number of transactions in the mempool waiting to be confirmed is now below 90,000, from a peak of over 115,000 on December 30.

Bitcoin Fees Are Falling Amidst Greater Segwit Adoption
The average cost per transaction in $ has dropped considerably.

More Bitcoin Wallets Add Segwit Support

In the last 24 hours,many sites have added Segwit support to their wallets. In a blogpost, mining pool and bitcoin wallet provider BTC.com wrote: “As a BTC.com wallet user, you will experience a drop in the transaction fees and faster transaction times when you send bitcoin to another address.” It has now added this functionality to both its mobile and desktop wallets.

Bitcoin Fees Are Falling Amidst Greater Segwit Adoption

Peer-to-peer exchange and online wallet LBCbitcoin-fees-falling-1068x1068 has also followed suit. The site is used extensively in countries as diverse as the Dominican Republic and Poland, and has reached record weekly trading volume of almost $140 million in the US. It will be a while before recent Segwit adoption by wallet providers filters through and impacts upon average bitcoin fees across the network. Segwit adoption is only around 11%, showing there is still a long way to go before the scaling technology nears universal adoption.

Bitcoin Fees Are Falling Amidst Greater Segwit Adoption

As always, the greatest absentee from Segwit is Coinbase, which has yet to formalize plans for introducing the Segregated Witness technology. CEO Brian Armstrong appears to be more interested in experimenting with ethereum Dapp browsers, much to the chagrin of many Coinbase users. Bitcoin pioneer Nick Szabo, meanwhile, has been urging the community to favor Segwit, endorsing a Whalepool tweet listing Segwit wallets.

Bitcoin Fees Are Falling Amidst Greater Segwit Adoption
Segwit adoption is still barely into the double digits.

2018: The Year of Cheaper Fees?

Bitcoin fees are likely to remain a hot topic throughout 2018 as efforts to lower the median cost of transacting the decentralized currency intensify. With the Lightning Network now having been successfully tested live, there are hopes that the off-chain scaling solution could be introduced sooner than initially expected, bringing with it the prospect of lower fees for all.

The high cost of sending bitcoin has forced many to look elsewhere, either to bitcoin cash, with its famously low fees, or to other altcoins which can be sent for less than a cent in many cases. In bitcoin’s earliest days, when blocks were empty, it was equally easy to complete low-cost transactions. The cryptocurrency markets are no exception to Metcalfe’s law, however, and should any altcoin start to approach the size of the bitcoin network, it will succumb to the same problem: a growing number of users trying to use a resource that can only process a finite number of transactions per second.

Speaking of laws, prominent bitcoin thinker Tuur Demeester cited Kleiber’s law, which governs the size of the world’s largest cities. Applying it to cryptocurrencies, he tweeted:

If “Bitcoin City” remains the largest of cryptocurrencies, Kleiber’s law suggests that over the long run it will be the ecosystem where resources are allocated in the most efficient way.

Fees and transaction times are still higher than desired, but if Kleiber’s law applies, it’s only a matter of time until the bitcoin metropolis becomes a model in city planning.

Do you think bitcoin fees are still too high? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bittrex /Poloniex Customers Locked Out: Are Crypto Exchanges Ready for Bitcoin?

Bittrex and Poloniex users took to social media to voice their concerns: something is wrong at the third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. Customers openly complain they’re having issues with withdrawals, and this has been going on for weeks. Certainly every popular platform has had its share of problems with runs in the wake of price spikes, but until yesterday the exchange offered no formal, public explanation.  

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Bittrex Has a Public Relations Problem

BittrexPoloniexIMG_2151-1-1068x1068 hasn’t Tweeted since 30 November. Its Facebook page hasn’t been updated since Summer. Customers are starting to worry, loudly.

Important Information About Identity Verification, published the evening of 5 December, the exchange explained, “We are committed to making sure our services are not used to launder money, support terrorism, commit fraud or other illegal activities,” citing the Bank Secrecy Act and other regulations as catalyst.

Describing their services as “frustrating or a hassle,” the exchange blamed, essentially, lack of customer literacy in the identity verification process. Stressing they “cannot do this without the help of our customers,” the post then lists “common mistakes or issues that arise.”

Included are problems such as “Creating multiple accounts associated with a single individual or entity; Name mismatch; Unreadable IDs; Non-Latin characters on the Government IDs; [and] Opening multiple support tickets.”

Signed by The Team, the post ends: “We trust that you understand Bittrex is committed to following the law and ensuring that it has a robust compliance program. We ask for your patience and cooperation throughout this process.”

Bittrex Customers Locked Out: Are Crypto Exchanges Ready for Bitcoin?

So, Criminals can Deposit but Not Withdraw?

Curious to outsiders, infuriating to customers, is the notion of the exchange taking orders, money, seemingly without issue … only to cover itself in cloaks of legalisms at withdrawal time.

Indeed, a user told Business Insider how “This is a big deal because when you sign up with Bittrex, they allow you to deposit funds into your wallet and even allow you to trade without Verification. But then you cannot withdraw your funds.”

The exchange has been around since 2014, and is based in Las Vegas though its mailing address is Seattle. Its daily trading volumes hover near 1 billion USD. As of this writing, it ranks second in daily volume among exchanges.

Bittrex Customers Locked Out: Are Crypto Exchanges Ready for Bitcoin?

Though not Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited, Bittrex nevertheless has a dedicated page of mounting complaints. Users have gone public with their stories, and most have documented something like the following, “Last night I tried to withdraw and got this: ‘Unverified account withdraw limit has been reached. Please try again in 24 hours. To increase your limits, please verify your account,’” Russia Today noted. There’s even a Twitter hashtag, #BittrexTrouble.

These are not the first problems for Bittrex, nor are they alone in this regard. Bitcoin’s price, as well as the value of the crypto space generally, has risen beyond expectations. It could just be the case of not being prepared. In these pages, flashes and run-ups were reported at Kraken, Coinbase, Tether, Gemini, among others.

Problems like these are not only worrisome for those unable to access their funds, but they’re also excuses for tighter government controls and regulations. With Wall Street and assorted whales headed crypto’s way in the coming months, readers can be sure such problems will not be tolerated.

As a matter of plain justice, however, in a volatile market, losing precious seconds, much less weeks or months, could literally financially break enthusiasts.
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Bitcoin Price Reaches Another Peak Crossing $15,000

On December 7, at 9 am EDT the price of bitcoin broke a new record as one BTC is now worth US$15,000 across global exchanges. Bitcoin trade volume has been exponential with over $14.7Bn BTC being swapped on trading platforms worldwide.

 

Bitcoin Reaches $15,000 Commanding a $250Bn Market Cap

The price of bitcoin has been on a tear over the past week and even more so during the past three days. In the last 72-hours, the price has moved over $3,000 in gains, and markets are showing feverish buy support. On December 6 when the price tackled $13K and then $14K, a large portion of volume stemmed from South Korean exchanges, most notably Bithumb. The KRW volume has dropped a touch, and the EUR has gained some significant steam. However, the Japanese yen still dominates bitcoin’s global markets at 47 percent. The top exchange today trading the most BTC is Bitfinex, as Bithumb has settled back into the second position. Following the Korean exchange is GDAX, Bitflyer, and Coinone. On Bitstamp, one bitcoin is roughly around $15,200 at the time of writing.

Bitcoin Price Reaches Another Peak Crossing $15,000
Bitcoin trade volume among global exchanges has been over $14.7Bn in the past 24-hours.

Technical Indicators

Looking at charts show the price has been extremely volatile with large swings over the course of the past 24-hours. The two Simple Moving Averages (SMA) still have a nice gap, but the 100 SMA and 200 SMA look as though they are getting closer. This indicates some sell-off may happen soon. Order books show massive resistance beginning at $15,300 all the way to $15,700. If bulls persist in breaking these zones, then the price could go upward even more at warp speed. Again since our last price report, charts indicate that buy walls are much thinner than the sell wall side. Which means the price could slide downwards with ease, and not much resistance on the way down. At press time there’s a strong foundation around $13,400.

Bitcoin Price Reaches Another Peak Crossing $15,000
The price of bitcoin surpassed $15,000 per BTC across global exchanges on December 7, 2017, at 9 am EDT.

The Verdict

Bitcoin proponents are either super happy or extremely skeptical as a fast run up like this one is causing some concern for a deep correction. Some bitcoin proponents believe the time has “finally come” and bitcoin is cementing itself into history. Others believe the decentralized currency has passed through a phase of maturity and is searching for its “fair market price.” Then there’s those speaking the word “bubble” regularly, and they expect bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets, in general, to burst at the seams.

Then there are those who think institutional money is coming into bitcoin due to the upcoming futures markets coming shortly from Cboe, CME Group, and other firms that have expressed interest. Whatever is driving this demand is causing individuals to buy up bitcoin at the highest price it’s been all year. And $15K per bitcoin is quite the feat!

Where do you see the price of bitcoin heading from here? Let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: Bitcoin price articles and markets updates are intended for informational purposes only and should not to be considered as trading advice. Neither Bitcoin.com nor the author is responsible for any losses or gains, as the ultimate decision to conduct a trade is made by the reader. Always remember that only those in possession of the private keys are in control of the “money.”

Segwit Integration is Set to Increase with Bitfinex Next on the List

rrs67asd-e1510906117495Segwit wallet integration has been bumped to the top of Bitfinex’s to-do list, with an exchange staffer declaring that the job should be completed next week. Despite the scaling technology having been available since August, a number of exchanges have dithered. Now, there are signs that progress is being made in activating BIP141.

Also read: Cryptocurrencies See Volatile Prices After Canceled Fork

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Witness the Wallet Integration

Segregated Witness, as it’s officially known, has been available on the bitcoin network since August 24, and has been activated for certain altcoins such as litecoin and digibyte for much longer. After the backwards-compatible network upgrade locked in, Segwit transactions began to show up on the bitcoin blockchain. This number grew to 10% of all transactions within the first week of October, but has since fallen.

Segwit Integration is Set to Increase With Bitfinex Next on the List
The percentage of all bitcoin transactions that use Segwit.

The blockchain has grown increasingly congested of late, culminating in fees reaching an all-time high last week, when the mempool filled with over 130,000 unconfirmed transactions. While not everyone in the bitcoin community is enamored with Segwit, it is hard to assess the technology’s efficacy until it has been widely rolled out. Various wallet developers have been Segwit-compatible for weeks, but exchanges haven’t been so quick off the mark. Kraken and Blockchain are among the major players that are still Segwit-less.

Segwit Integration is Set to Increase With Bitfinex Next on the List

First Bitfinex, Then Deribit

Bitfinex is one of the world’s largest exchanges, with a 24-hour trading volume of 96,000 BTC. In belatedly embracing Segwit, Bitfinex’ actions may spur other exchanges into Segwit Integration is Set to Increase With Bitfinex Next on the Listfollowing suit. Shortly after a Bitfinex staffer confirmed that Segwit activation was on its way, Amsterdam’s Deribit exchange signaled that it too was working on Segwit.

Due to a transaction malleability fix that is built into Segwit, more data can be squeezed into each block – theoretically raising the size from 1MB to around 1.8MB. Despite this facility, block sizes on the bitcoin network have been averaging around 1.1MB, showing that Segwit’s full capacity has yet to be utilized. The major absentee from the Segwit activation party is of course Coinbase. Were the Californian player to commit to the scaling technology, the number of Segwit transactions would shoot up.

Do you think widespread Segwit activation will lead to lower fees and less congestion? Let us know in the comments section below.
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