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.

Crackdown on Bitcoin Hits Businesses in Bali

Having issued a stark warning to “all parties” against any use of “virtual currency”, Bank Indonesia has now joined forces with local police to prevent bitcoin transactions where they are most likely to take place – in Bali. The island, a popular holiday destination with tourists spending both fiat and crypto, has been targeted by authorities. Inspections of businesses accepting bitcoin are underway, according to Indonesian media and the crypto community in the country.

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Authorities on the Lookout for Illegal Transactions

Representatives of the Indonesian central bank and the national police force on the island have teamed up to investigate cases of cryptocurrency trading deemed illegal by authorities in Jakarta. They have already started collecting information about possible violations.

The crackdown in Bali comes after BI declared bitcoin an illegal form of payment in the country. Virtual currencies are prohibited in Indonesia, the financial institution stated. Rupiahs should be used for all payments and transactions that need money. The banning statement came with plans to swiftly implement the rules:

We are looking out for bitcoin transactions in Bali, particularly in tourist spots. We will take measures against non-rupiah transactions.

That announcement was made by the head of BI’s local branch Causa Iman Karana, who called the island “an alluring place for those who want to carry out illegal transactions”. Quoted by local press, Karana said in Denpasar that institutions had already warned people not to use virtual money “because there is no authority that regulates transactions”.

Crackdown on Bitcoin Hits Businesses in Bali

Businesses Can Be Closed, Owners Taken to Court

Members of the crypto community on the island quickly shared the news of the imminent crackdown in social media. Warnings were posted about checks expected to be carried out by bank officials and local law enforcement officers. Businesses could be suspended and owners taken to court, if they accept bitcoin payments. A villa has been reportedly closed down by inspectors. A foreign national had been used as a “mystery customer”… according to comments on the Bitcoins in Bali Facebook page.

Bali has been put in the spotlight after the announced prohibition of payments involving bitcoin. BI’s spokesman Agusman Zainal said that such transactions violated Law No. 7/2011 regulating currencies and their transactions in the country.

The ban has been further detailed in a dedicated bank regulation No. PBI: 19/12/PBI/2017 covering the implementation of financial technology. Under the current law, any payment in Indonesia should be made in the national currency, the Rupiah.

Crackdown on Bitcoin Hits Businesses in Bali

The central bank official also pointed to the risks associated with bitcoin transactions, noting that the cryptocurrency had no “official administrator”. Money laundering, terrorism and other criminal activities were added to the ubiquitous list of unwanted side effects.

Indonesians had been notified about the restrictions long before BI issued its ultimate warning to “not buy, sell, or trade virtual currency”. The assault on Bali shows that Jakarta means business. But what the crackdown means for the business, only time will show.

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Do you think that the Indonesian government will succeed in preventing Bitcoin payments in Bali? Tell us in the comments section below.shutterstock_351592148_1600-1068x1068

After Coinbase Rejects Rumors of Adding New Assets Ripple Dips

Ripple has taken a hit by a move to end rumors that Bitcoin’s centralized competitor might be introduced to the leading trading platforms in the US. No decision to add new assets to either GDAX or Coinbase has been made, the exchange said in a blog post dismissing any statements to the contrary. Ripple lost some $30 billion of market capitalization on the day of the announcement.

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God Giveth, God Taketh

The clarification on the matter came in response to unverified rumors and unfounded reports that Coinbase might add Ripple to its cryptocurrency markets. They have most certainly helped fuel Ripple’s surge that doubled its price in a week. After Coinbase stated it had no intentions to change its Digital Asset Framework in the short run, Ripple wobbled in charts and lost 20 percent of its value before it rebounded a little. Its capitalization is now below $125 billion, down from Thursday’s peak at almost $149 billion. One XRP coin is currently trading for less than $3.25 USD at the time of publishing according to Coinmarketcap.

Ripple Dips after Coinbase Rejects Rumors of a New Asset

Coinbase is the biggest cryptocurrency marketplace in the US and operates the Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX), a platform for trading a variety of digital assets, and a broker processing crypto-fiat transactions. It trades Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherium and has added Bitcoin Cash support last month. BCH jumped 70% after the latest update of its Digital Asset Framework. The December 17 announcement had been proceeded by a leak that attracted a lot of criticism and led to an internal investigation.

Yesterday Coinbase made it clear that it had no immediate plans to start trading Ripple, although XRP was not explicitly mentioned in its blog post:

We have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.

Coinbase also reminded that its Digital Asset Framework, released a few months ago, highlights the criteria for supporting new assets. It added that a committee of internal experts was responsible for determining whether and when new assets would be added and insisted that these employees were subject to confidentiality and trading restrictions.

Ripple Dips after Coinbase Rejects Rumors of a New Asset

Ups and Downs, and Peace of Mind

Ripple’s rise made it the second most valued cryptocurrency after Bitcoin during a spell when BTC saw its market share falling below 40%. XRP was trading for as little as $0.006 in January and ended 2017 at a price of $2.30 USD. A few days ago the current and former CEOs of the company, Chris Larsen and Brad Garlinghouse, were ranking among the wealthiest Americans according to Forbes. Larsen, cofounder and Executive Chairman, who reportedly has the largest stash of ripples, would have placed somewhere between Steve Ballmer and Mark Zuckerberg in the 400 richest people list on Monday. But there have been some ups and downs since then – Ether passed the $1,000 barrier and Bitcoin is touching $16,000 again.

In the volatile world of digital money, following experts’ advice and staring at charts doesn’t always help to find a way to sustainable growth and lasting wealth. Reading the Holy Scripture, however, may bring some peace of mind and a sense of intrinsic value: “Naked came I…, naked shall I depart! The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away!”

Do you think Ripple has a chance to compete with Bitcoin, despite its centralized design? Tell us 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.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any Time

Ripple has been the talk of the town lately thanks to its rocketing value and growing market capitalization that’s making eyes at bitcoin. $1,000 of XRP bought a year ago would be worth half a million dollars today. But away from the price action, there’s an issue bugging ripple that just won’t go away. It’s been alleged for years that Ripple Labs has the power to freeze the balances of account holders. If true, it would be a major cause for concern, especially for proponents of decentralized currency.

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The Big Freeze

The origins of the Ripple freeze go as follows: In August 2014, Ripple quietly introduced a feature called Freeze. It was put to the test a few months later when Ripple cofounder Jed McCaleb tried to cash out some of his billions in XRP after leaving the company. He’d previously signed an agreement to sell no more than $10,000 of XRP a week, only to attempt to clear $1 million worth through Bitstamp in one go.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any TimeUpon learning of McCaleb’s actions, Ripple intervened and prevented him from doing so, utilizing its Balance Freeze feature. Built into Ripple gateways such as Bitstamp by default, it enables the company to stop the movement of XRP. During the brouhaha that followed, Bitstamp, caught in the middle, filed a lawsuit to settle the dispute between McCaleb and Ripple Labs.

2015 was a lifetime ago in cryptocurrency, and a lot has happened since then to all of the players caught up in the spat, and to the industry as a whole. Bitstamp, Ripple, and McCaleb would all aver that they’ve moved on to bigger and better things: the former reporting record turnover and trading volume, and McCaleb launching Stellar, whose market cap has quadrupled in a matter of days, catapulting it into the top 10. And then there’s Ripple, which is going great guns.

The Case for the Defense

Ripple’s transformation from sluggish cryptocurrency into the hottest ticket in town has been rapid: three months ago, no one wanted to know. Now, traders of all genders, demographics, and territories are invested in ripple, and not just financially, but emotionally too. Anyone who buys an unfancied coin and then watches it moon can’t help but feel a sense of vindication, and a newfound appreciation for the project. At this stage, anything that threatens the coin’s upward trajectory – such as negative news – risks being shot down.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any Time

In a report on ripple’s meteoric rise this week, news.Bitcoin.com mentioned the “big freeze”, linking to another recent article on the site which explains this in more detail. Ripple’s defenders hotly dispute the facts of the matter, though, highlighting a sentence on Ripple’s Freeze page which states: “No one can freeze XRP”.

So what’s the truth of the matter? Can Ripple freeze users’ funds or not?

An Uncomfortable Half-Truth

The answer to Ripple’s capabilities lies in a document the company released in 2014 introducing Balance Freeze and stating:

The freeze protocol extension gives gateways the ability to…freeze funds issued to a particular user. Frozen funds may only be sent back to the gateway who issued them. The global freeze feature allows a gateway to freeze all balances issued by it.

When you purchase cryptocurrency on an exchange, your account is assigned a virtual balance – a token essentially – correlating to your holdings. Buy 1 BTC, for example, and nothing moves on the blockchain. All that happens is that your USD and BTC account balances are updated. It’s only once a user makes a withdrawal request that an on-chain transaction takes place.

Ripple uses a distributed ledger called the Ripple protocol which each Ripple gateway – essentially a bank – keeps a record of. Bitstamp, Gatehub, and The Rock Trading are some of the major gateways partnered with Ripple. Purchase ripple on Bitstamp, for example, and the transaction won’t show up on the Ripple protocol. The ledger will only record the movement of funds when they are withdrawn from the Bitstamp wallet to the customer’s XRP wallet.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any Time

The phrase “No one can freeze XRP” is thus a half-truth. Ripple does not possess the power to magically remove the funds from a customer’s personal XRP wallet. For example, it can’t plunder the funds that a holder has stored on their Nano S. If those funds are stored with a Ripple gateway that hasn’t opted out of Freeze, however, they can be locked up. Not only can the XRP be frozen, but so can the account balances associated with its sale, such as USD.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any TimeRipple’s defenders claim that in this respect, ripple is no different from any other cryptocurrency. If Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin had 10,000 ETH stolen from him and sent to Bitstamp, for example, he could probably pressure the exchange into freezing that ether while the matter was investigated. The difference with Ripple is that the company has developed a special relationship with its gateways which gives these “banks” unprecedented powers to freeze individual counts on a whim, or on the say-so of Ripple, law enforcement, or regulators.

Not only does Ripple encourage the XRP of suspicious accounts to be frozen, but “The financial institution should also freeze the counterparty in any other systems the financial institution operates that are connected to the XRP Ledger”. Your bitcoin; your litecoin; your euros; anything connected to a Ripple gateway can be locked down. No other cryptocurrency has a similar framework in place, which grants exchanges unprecedented powers to lock up funds at the drop of a hat.

A Frosty Reception for Centralized Currencies

No one is suggesting that Ripple Labs has a desire to freeze anyone’s funds. That’s not good for business. Nevertheless, a cryptocurrency which enables a centralized authority to freeze funds at the touch of a button defeats the entire purpose of cryptocurrency. Most people have no objection to stemming the funding of terrorists and money launderers. Once a kill switch is created, however, it leads to a slippery slope in which anyone suspected of misbehavior can have their funds seized.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any TimeAs Ripple explains, the feature provides the ability “to freeze individual accounts issuances in order to investigate suspicious activity”. Owning XRP in a country that is hostile to cryptocurrency; possessing an unusually large amount of XRP; signing up to a Ripple gateway exchange from a banned country: all could be grounds for freezing your account.

If law enforcement suspected a cryptocurrency holder was engaged in criminal behavior, they could try to obtain a subpoena granting permission to seize that individual’s exchange balance – and would be required to submit evidence to show there was probable cause for doing so. But if that exchange happened to be a Ripple gateway, they could simply pick up the phone and ask for the Big Button of Freeze to be pressed. And that’s the difference between ripple and other cryptocurrencies.

Keeping so much as 1 XRP on a gateway exchange would technically be enough to see all of your fiat and crypto balances frozen. There are ways to obtain and transact XRP without going near a gateway that possesses special powers. In a world of decentralized cryptocurrencies, however, purveyors of financial freedom may prefer to look elsewhere.

Do you think Ripple’s freeze function is a cause for concern? Let us know in the comments section below.ripple-freeze-1068x1068

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!

Tether Tokens Were Stolen From Treasury Wallet

On Sunday, November 19th, $30,950,010.00 in Tether tokens were stolen from our treasury wallet through malicious action by an external attacker. While we are in the process of co-ordinating and co-operating with law enforcement on this matter, we are satisfied that we have found the cause of the breach of Tether’s systems. We are taking measures to recover the Tethers and are migrating the platform to a new infrastructure. More information about our initial response to this breach is here.

No customer funds were stolen as a part of this security breach; only Tether tokens were taken, and only from the Tether hot wallet. We have told Tether integrators that those Tethers will not be redeemed by Tether. This breach was planned and premeditated as a market disruption event and an attack on our customers, our business, and our community.

Those of us who care about our community must fight against hackers as well as those enemies using misinformation to create chaos and sow distrust.

We are a privately held corporation with significant assets. Our books are currently under audit by Friedman LLP, one of the fifty largest accounting firms in the United States. While the audit is taking longer than we would have liked, the reality is that the interim consulting memorandum they produced shows clearly that Tether has the resources to back Tethers that have been issued. Friedman looked at our bank statements and other documents underpinning these issuances.

We have strong customer and shareholder relations and tens of thousands of you know the importance of our community and this journey we are on together. We work closely with financial regulators, law enforcement agencies, compliance personnel, bank officials, and tech academics, among others, to ensure that we are protecting our customers and meeting our obligations.

As with other financial institutions worldwide, and in order to safeguard your assets, we do not redeem Tethers from terrorists or other criminal elements. In order to protect our customers and the community, we must keep language in our terms of service preventing bad elements from sullying our systems. In any event, our terms of service inform our customers of what the law already provides: that we cannot and will not issue Tethers to or redeem Tethers from criminal elements. Nevertheless, we believe in being as straightforward and honest as possible about what you are dealing in. We are willing to review our terms of service to see if we can make this point more clearly.

Similarly, we will not endanger our customers by revealing our banks. As those of you who are active in cryptocurrency know, there is pressure from large correspondent banks in the U.S. to bully other institutions not to accept the community’s business. We do, however, bank at major financial institutions and will continue to do so.

Further Issuances

Tethers are being ‘printed’ or issued because there is demand for them. This process is explained in the Tether whitepaper. When Tethers are issued, assets are debited (added) to the assets on Tether’s balance sheet, and Tethers are credited (added) to the business’s liabilities. The consulting memorandum demonstrates that these mechanisms are in balance. Every Tether is fully backed by the fiat underpinning it upon issuance.

We are proud to have been one of the first to market with a product. Some of the main actors in the digital token space have adopted it. We believe it works well.

Conclusion

We are proud of the business that we have built, and of its resilience in the face of threats from those trying to attack our community. We always have room for improvement, and we will continue to work hard to continue to earn your trust and confidence. We understand trust must always be earned and we will continue to work hard as a business to improve our communications.51877416-cartoon-thief-safecracker-breaks-into-a-safe-vector-illustration

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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