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

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

Disables New User Registrations:Binance Exchange

Untitled-design-3-1068x1068Anyone still sitting on the fence and considering whether to jump on the runaway cryptocurrency train way wish to make a move, because another door just slammed shut, reducing the number of on-ramps. The popular Binance exchange is no longer accepting new traders.

Also Read: bittrex-wallets-are-taken-offline-as-companies-scramble-to-patch-the-intel-bug

No Binance For You

Binance Exchange Disables New User RegistrationsBinance exchange has announced today the immediate suspension of client registration. The company informed all prospective clients about an hour ago that: “Due to the overwhelming surge in popularity, Binance will have to temporarily disable new user registrations to allow for an infrastructure upgrade.”

The popular trading venue thus joins the growing list of major bitcoin exchanges no longer open for servicing new clients. As previously reported, CEX.IO, Bitfinex, and Bittrex have all announced similar difficulties with handling the massive influx of new business resulting in a halt of registrations. Other exchanges such as Kraken have also reported this situation is causing severe operational difficulties.

Binance Who?

Binance Exchange Disables New User RegistrationsFor anyone living under a rock for the past five months, Binance is the hottest cryptocurrency exchange at the moment. It recently proclaimed to have become the largest crypto trading venue in the world by volume with $2.8 billion traded daily, according to data from Coinmarketcap. The company also recently stated it reached 2.9 million users on the platform since its launch in July of 2017.

The Hong Kong based exchange has a global offering and supports multiple languages including English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, French and German. It also offers instant exchanging between 96 different cryptocurrencies and bitcoin, ethereum, tether (USDT) and its own native BNB token.

While the team behind Binance attribute its rapid growth to its service, technology, and affiliates (members of the ‘Binance Angel Program’), the word on the street is that its relatively lax client verification procedures don’t hurt either. Whatever the case, this pace is obviously no longer sustainable for the company without an upgrade to its infrastructure.

Have recent exchange issues affected your trading? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bittrex Wallets Are Taken Offline as Companies Scramble to Patch the Intel Bug

On Wednesday, the tech world was rocked by revelations of a computer chip vulnerability that exposes critical data. Meltdown and Spectre are the names assigned to the newly discovered flaws which primarily affect Intel chips. From a security perspective, the bug concerns everyone who uses an Intel-powered device to connect to the internet, which is pretty much everyone. But from a practical perspective, the bug is already making its presence felt: today Bittrex exchange was forced to take numerous wallets offline while Azure servers were patched.

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A Bug in the System

Bittrex Wallets Are Taken Offline as Companies Scramble to Patch the Intel BugComputer bugs and vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, but the Intel one is particularly nasty. It risks leaving passwords and other critical data exposed on billions of internet connected devices, from smartphones to PCs. While patches are being rushed out for the major operating systems, hackers are trying to find ways to exploit the vulnerability, which could provide them with complete system access. Spectre forces programs to leak confidential data, while Meltdown noses around in the system kernel for the same purpose.

Cryptocurrency holders, who already face a heightened threat from hackers, have good reason to be concerned. In addition to affecting personal computers, Spectre and Meltdown spell danger for cloud-based systems. Cloud computing providers store data from multiple clients on the same server. If that server were to be exploited, it would theoretically be possible for an attacker to access multiple accounts.

A Dark Cloud

Cryptocurrency exchanges, whose websites carry a heavy load, are reliant on the cloud. While the likes of Amazon have been rushing to patch their servers, exchanges have been affected by outages and reduced service. Earlier today, Bittrex tweeted:

Azure accelerated a planned reboot due to the public Intel disclosure. Wallets will be online again once they complete post reboot audits.

At present, withdrawals and deposits for around 30% of the coins traded on the exchange are unavailable.


Bittrex wallets today.

Several other exchanges were temporarily taken offline, with some platforms specifically referencing the patch, and others simply referring to maintenance. Among those affected were Einstein Exchange, CEX.io, and Kucoin. Hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger also updated concerned customers on the situation, tweeting:

Bittrex Wallets Are Taken Offline as Companies Scramble to Patch the Intel Bug

There is an added issue regarding the Intel bug: as a consequence of patching it, system performance will be reduced by as much as 30%. Cryptocurrency miners are unlikely to be badly affected, as the process doesn’t involve making a high number of kernel requests. But for anyone who prides themselves on running an overclocked PC with a high benchmark, the slowdown may be hard to stomach.

Are you concerned by the Intel bug and do you think cryptocurrency holders should be worried? Let us know 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.  

Also read: bitcoin-price-reaches-another-peak-crossing-15000/

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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