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.

Also read: ethereum-over-1000-and-100b-market-cap-btc-dominance-at-32-record-low

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.

Also Read: bitcoin-price-reaches-another-peak-crossing-15000Untitled-design-2-1068x1068

$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 Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network’s Upgrade Approaches

It’s been a crazy week for cryptocurrency enthusiasts as the digital asset ecosystem is still reeling over the canceled Segwit2x fork that was expected to take place on the Bitcoin network next week. Over the course of the past few weeks leading up to the planned 2MB Segwit2x hard fork, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) markets have doubled in value after hovering around $300 per BCH for weeks. Now the market has stabilized around the $625 region as the BCH network participants prepare for their own fork that’s just four days away.

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Bitcoin Cash Network and Markets Remain Vigilant After the Canceled BTC Fork Event

Bitcoin Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network's Upgrade ApproachesThe Bitcoin Cash network is thriving as the decentralized currency’s value has spiked quite a bit over the past few weeks. At the moment the price per BCH is hovering around $625 as markets currently command roughly $830M worth of daily trade volume. The price of BCH has allowed it to hold the third highest market capitalization at $10.4B just below the ethereum market cap. BCH markets are still seeing lots of trade volume from the South Korean won, as the currency typically captures around 49 percent or more of the daily volumes. The exchange rate stemming from BCH currently makes it the third highest digital asset trade volume within the cryptocurrency landscape. The exchanges trading the most BCH include Bithumb, Hitbtc, Bitfinex, Bittrex, and Korbit.

Bitcoin Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network's Upgrade Approaches
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) markets are holding above $600 per token at the time of writing.

Miners Have Started to Signal Intent to Fork the BCH Network

As the currency’s network hard fork approaches, the BCH chain is 8100 blocks ahead of the BTC chain. BCH this week is operating at 8 percent of the current BTC difficulty, and it’s 3.4 percent more profitable to mine BTC. Mining profitability and its fluctuations may change after the BCH network reconfigures the Difficulty-Adjustment-Algorithm (DAA). BCH miners are now signaling their intent to activate the fork and the change is estimated to occur around 2 pm EDT depending on hashrate speed.

Bitcoin Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network's Upgrade Approaches

Bitpay Prepares Users for the Bitcoin Cash Consensus Change

Because the fork is drawing closer the Atlanta-based company, Bitpay, has announced to its wallet users its plans for the BCH hard fork. The firm explains that with any blockchain protocol change it must always ensure that customer funds will be safe.

“For the November Bitcoin Cash protocol change, Bitpay and Copay wallets will follow the bitcoin cash chain with the most accumulated difficulty — With current miner signaling, this means that our wallets will be compatible with the new rules activated by the bitcoin cash mining majority,” explains Bitpay.

We don’t currently have any reason to think that this hard fork will be contentious or will result in a blockchain split for bitcoin cash. Users can continue to receive and send bitcoin cash transactions from their wallets up to, during, and after the hard fork protocol change.

Kim Dotcom Asks His Fans Which Cryptocurrency Will Dominate — BTC or BCH?

Also this week the notorious Kim Dotcom started talking about bitcoin cash with his 671,000 followers. Dotcom asks his fans, “By 2021 which of these two is going to carry the larger volume of Internet payments?” With just 11 hours left remaining for the poll bitcoin (BTC) is leading by 64 percent and bitcoin cash (BCH) has 36 percent.

Overall the BCH community seems pleased with the currency’s growing ecosystem and many supporters believe next week’s fork will be smooth. With Segwit2x gone and the rest of the cryptocurrency competition constantly nipping at BTC’s heels many spectators will be focused on bitcoin cash.

What’s your thoughts on bitcoin cash at the moment? Do you think the hard fork approaching will be smooth? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Putin Confirms Russia Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies

Following the meeting with Vladimir Putin, Russian regulators announced that cryptocurrencies will officially be regulated in Russia. The central bank and the finance ministry will now work together to come up with one draft law to provide a basic regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, which is expected by the year’s end.

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Putin Has Spoken

At the meeting on cryptocurrencies between Putin and top Russian regulators on Tuesday, the decision to regulate cryptocurrencies in Russia was reached. “The Russian government has decided to officially regulate the mining and circulation of cryptocurrencies,” RT described and quoted Finance Minister Anton Siluanov announcing on Wednesday that:

We have agreed on the following: the state should regulate the process of issuing cryptocurrencies, the process of mining, the process of circulation…The state should head this situation and regulate it legally.

Putin Confirms Russia Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies
Putin’s meeting on cryptocurrencies.

The meeting was attended by Siluanov, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, Central Bank Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova, Presidential Aide Andrei Belousov, and Qiwi CEO Sergei Solonin.

In the meeting, Putin acknowledged the risks associated with cryptocurrencies. However, he also stressed that “it is important not to create unnecessary barriers, of course, but rather to provide essential conditions for advancing and upgrading the national financial system.”

Finance Ministry to Work With Central Bank

Currently, cryptocurrencies including bitcoin are not regulated in Russia despite many attempts by various government departments to put forward proposals to regulate them. Both the central bank and the finance ministry have been working separately on a draft law to regulate cryptocurrencies. A draft bill was supposed to be introduced in October but was postponed due to a lack of consensus among the regulators.

Putin Confirms Russia Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

The finance ministry proposed to legalize cryptocurrencies but was opposed by the central bank due to “a loss of control over the money flows from abroad.” This week, the ministry proposed to register cryptocurrency miners and to license crypto exchanges.

After the meeting with Putin, however, Siluanov told journalists that the finance ministry and the central bank will now work together to prepare one basic draft law to regulate cryptocurrencies, Tass reported on Wednesday and quoted him saying:

We will prepare the draft law together with the Central Bank…I think we will be able to determine the basic regulatory positions before the end of the year.

“According to him, with regard to regulation, the functions of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and Rosfinmonitoring will be delineated,” the publication elaborated.

Possible Restrictions

In addition, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev indicated on Wednesday that there may be some restrictions. “Russia’s Finance Ministry supports the idea to limit the amount cryptocurrency that can be purchased by individuals,” Tass detailed and quoted him saying:

We said that restrictions are needed on purchases and sales, accounts, miners’ taxation and so on…Yes, there is such an idea, we support it. We should discuss the amounts. We should look at international practice.

This is not the first time Moiseev talked about restricting the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies in Russia. In August, he proposed listing them on regulated exchanges but banning non-qualified investors from buying and selling them. However, his proposal did not receive a lot of support from other regulators. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov promptly commented on Moiseev’s suggestion, stating that no legislation had been decided. The finance minister followed up with a suggestion that cryptocurrencies could be made available to anyone in the same way federal loan bonds (OFZ) are.

How do you think Russia will regulate cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

Pakistan Government to Put the Searchlight on Bitcoin Traders Says Local Media

Powerful Pakistan government and media officials appear to be contradicting the domestic population’s embrace of bitcoin.   

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Pakistan Government on the Defensive, Maybe

Karachi, Pakistan’s Dawn, a widely circulated and read periodical and website in English, is rather cosmopolitan. Covering bitcoin, however, its website curation seems to have a decidedly negative slant.

Pakistan Herald Publications Limited is Dawn‘s owner, and its CEO is Hameed Haroon, noted regional journalist and member of a highly influential family in the country.

In one dispatch from Mr. Haroon’s flagship, reprinted all over the world, the headline announced, “FBR goes after bitcoin traders.”

Pakistan Government to Put the Searchlight on Bitcoin Traders Says Local Media
Faisal Khan’s only evidence Pakistan’s government is paying any attention to bitcoin.

FBR is Pakistan’s Federal Bureau of Revenue, its principal collector of tax.

“The top intelligence department,” the piece insisted, “is investigating cases where investors trade digital currencies probably to evade taxes or launder money.”

The sentence-inserted link refers to the site’s own coverage of bitcoin reaching 1000 USD early this year. Not a single reference to FBR nor an investigation.

“A senior tax official said people evade tax and launder money using cryptocurrencies,” the article asserts without a single quote or reference. “They buy bitcoin to launder their tax-evaded money […], adding that they park their black money out of Pakistan in many cases.”

Paraphrases are allowed, of course, but this drove news.Bitcoin.com to search relevant Pakistani government pronouncements on bitcoin specifically, cryptocurrencies generally.

Nothing.

The Dawn piece goes on in this manner, listing a veritable alphabet soup of agencies and investigators and laws employed to hunt bitcoin traders without citing a documented source.

Pakistan Government's and Street's Tensions with Bitcoin
Screen Shot of SBP by Faisal Khan, showing no reference to the bank’s position on bitcoin.

What Blogs and Independent Sites Know

Faisal Khan, financial technology scout for venture capitalists and payments consultant, based in Turkey, blogged his similar bafflement.

After he too read the Dawn piece, he “wanted to explore the basis under which these raids are being conducted and wanted to comment on this further.”

He searched and searched.

Mr. Khan writes, “I’ve searched […], trying to find any circular &/or notification, gazette, SRO, press release, etc. related to Bitcoin &/or Cryptocurrency – but I could not find it.”

His knowledge of Pakistan’s legal history is impressive, and he cites all the documents he examined.Pakistan Government's and Street's Tensions with Bitcoin

“For bitcoin to be considered for money-laundering,” Mr. Khan notes, “it has to be defined into an asset class whereby [bitcoin] has been declared [money] or some form of an asset as per ‘some’ legal definition in some law in Pakistan.”

He concludes, “Right now, the Government of Pakistan in no way recognizes [bitcoin] as legal tender or legal ‘anything.’ It has no legal standing under any law in Pakistan.”

Since the series of articles in Dawn, bitcoin seems to be capturing the attention of Pakistani rupee holders anyway.

Localbitcoins exchange activity in the region as of this writing has risen exponentially, matching a global pattern.

Citing Japan’s approach, long-time Pakistani commodity trader Shahan Rehman urged acceptance “by a country compels people to jump on the bandwagon, increasing its price massively.”

As of now, official government pronouncements are not available to the public.

Are Pakistan’s laws on bitcoin just not available digitally? Is the government on purpose holding back? Tell us in the comments below.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Price Dives Deeper in the Midst of ICO Shakedown

dip-1068x1068The price of bitcoin dropping over 8 percent immediately after the digital currency’s all time high of $4,980. On September 4, bitcoin dropped to a low of $4,140. Speculators now believe the price drop today may be due to the recent announcement from the People’s Bank of China banning Initial Coin Offerings (ICO).

 

Bitcoin Markets Shave a Few Billion Again

There’s a bearish sentiment throughout bitcoin markets, just as we predicted would happen two days ago in our last price analysis. At press time, bitcoin’s price is trying to hold above the $4,150 territory as the currency’s value dropped another six legs down on Monday, September 4. Volume is still pretty decent with over $2.4B traded over the past 24-hours, but most of the action is stemming from this morning’s huge sell off. Bitcoin’s price dip caused the entire top eighteen cryptocurrency market capitalizations to drop, slashing prices from 5 to 34 percent, as most altcoins right now are in the red. This past week’s sell off has been the largest to date since mid-July, and we are seeing a similar 25-30 percent total correction during the bearish cycle.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Price Dives Deeper in the Midst of ICO Shakedown

Bitcoin price 11:30 am EDT September 4, 2017. Prices are now below the sub-$4,300 range.

Technical Indicators

Right now technical indicators show the Relative Strength Index (RSI) continues to head downwards, confirming that sellers right now have the upper hand. Of course, over the past three days, the two Simple Moving Averages (SMA) crossed hairs, and the long term 200 SMA is well above the short term 100 SMA. This again assures traders the storm is not yet over, and there is great resistance down the road. Looking at order books on some of the most popular exchanges, there are monstrous walls between the $4,600-5,000 positions. If support holds steady in the $4,160-4,200 area, bulls will have some work to do to eat through the next wave of resistance levels.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Price Dives Deeper in the Midst of ICO Shakedown

Bitcoin price, September 4, 2017. 200 SMA (white trendline) is well above the 100 SMA (green).

PBOC: ‘No ICOs For You’

Market sentiment seems to be geared towards the recent announcement from China’s central bank concerning ICOs. Cryptocurrency markets were already battling through a significant correction after bitcoin reached new price highs. So speculators think the recent banning of ICOs in China adds uncertainty to these types of markets. Otherwise, bitcoin is running its course through a typical 25-30 percent correction, after rocketing close to the $5K levels. Other spectators believe banks are spreading ‘fake news’ about bitcoin right now, because cryptocurrency popularity has risen exponentially. The UK publication the Mirror reports that certain banks are spreading these phony news stories to “restore the status quo.”

Bitcoin’s dip redlines the top eighteen altcoins below bitcoin’s market cap.

The Verdict

Right now bitcoin is holding above $4,150, so it may consolidate in this territory and push higher this week with some bounce back. Most of the top ten altcoins below bitcoin’s market cap lost larger percentages than bitcoin, which is likely tethered to the ICO news. This has pushed bitcoin’s market dominance up to 48.5 percent among the hundreds of altcoin market caps in existence. After the lull, bitcoin could follow its typical trend of moving up higher than before after a deep correction. So far this has been a consistent trend this year for bitcoin’s price, but we should never place all of our bets on this trend, because it may not be the case going forward.

Bear Scenario: Bitcoin markets could drop lower if the $4,100 floor collapses, bringing the price into the $4,000-3,900 territory. Right now big players have stepped off to the sidelines to catch more satoshis from weak hands and wait to choose a better entry point. Most technical indicators like the Stochastic, RSI, SMA, and order books are showing a strong negative sentiment at press time.

Bull Scenario: Right now, we are either going to consolidate in the $4,125-4,200 range, or we are seeing a short term bull trap at the moment. Bitcoin needs to break upper-level resistance past the $4,600 territory, but right now walls are considerably high. Of course topping the $5K range again is not out of the question, but it’s going to take some significant time to get there again.

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

U.S. Pressures BTC-e Exchange as They Plan to Distribute Funds Next Month

Last week the Russian bitcoin exchange, BTC-e, told the public about the trading platform’s plan to repay customers. Now the exchange is back and says there will be a full update come August 30 and the organization will follow with daily announcements. Further, BTC-e answered multiple questions from customers who want access to their funds.

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Releasing 55% of Funds & Pressure from the U.S.

U.S. Pressures BTC-e Exchange as They Plan to Distribute Funds Next MonthEarlier this summer news.Easypaypakistan reported on the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e being taken down by U.S. law enforcement for connections to bitcoin laundering and illegal money transmissions. Following the FBI arresting alleged employees and seizing funds, the exchange announced on August 3 it had control over its servers and “some of its bitcoin purses.” The trading platform has released a few messages through Twitter and the forum Bitcointalk.org over the course of the past two weeks.

In those messages the exchange spoke of rebranding, working with other partners, and utilizing a unique in-house token to pay customers back similarly to how Bitfinex handled their hack. Now the exchange says come August 30th the organization will update customers every day.

“To date, there is a process of transferring digital resources to an investment company,” explains BTC-e’s latest announcement. “The company is preparing the resource for our launch. As it was announced earlier, at startup users will be able to withdraw 55% of the funds.”

We want to notify all users that there is a political background in closing our service and pressure from the U.S.

BTC-e Claims Fully Functional Exchange is Coming and Bitcoin Cash Refunds

The exchange also fielded questions from forum visitors who said they lost a lot of money due to the trading platform “going under.” Many of the traders were not happy with waiting and called BTC-e’s situation a “circus.” “There was a problem, and we will try to solve it in the shortest possible time,” the exchange says to upset clients. Another person stated that he needed his money now and called the exchange “evil.” BTC-e responds by saying that if it were possible funds would have been given out earlier and the real ‘evil’ resided with a “flag with a bunch of stars.”

The organization says they are hoping to open this September and will publish a “FAQ” in the near future. The FAQ was delayed due to an agreement with lawyers, BTC-e explains, and they can’t release it until the investigation completes. The exchange also answers a trader who asks if the exchange will have only “minimal functionality” and the company seems to think trading will be fully operational. Moreover, the exchange also detailed when they disperse customer holdings next month, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) will also be given to customers at a 1:1 rate.

What do you think about BTC-e’s recent announcement? Let us know in the comments below.

Ethereum’s Parity Client Users Lose Millions in a Multi-Sig Hack

On July 19 the ethereum community was warned that the Parity client version 1.5 and above contained a critical vulnerability in the multi-signature wallet feature. Further, a group of multi-signature “black hat exploiters” has managed to drain 150,000 ether from multi-sig wallets and ICO projects.

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A Vulnerability Found in the Multi-Signature Contract “Wallet.sol” Used in Parity Clients

Ethereum's Parity Client Users Lose Millions in a Multi-Sig HackAccording to the company Parity and the firm’s founder Gavin Wood, the startup’s product the Parity wallet version 1.5 and above contained a bug that enabled the theft of $30 million worth of ETH. The vulnerability discovered in these specific Parity wallets used a multi-signature contract called “wallet.sol” and the contract was utilized by a few initial coin offerings (ICO) as well. Circulating reports believe that three particular ICO projects were compromised including Swarm City, æternity, and Edgeless Casino.

The Parity startup had issued a security warning on its website on July 19 detailing the extent of the issue stating;

A vulnerability in Parity Wallet’s variant of the standard multi-sig contract has been found — Immediately move assets contained in the multi-sig wallet to a secure address.

The Mysterious ‘White Hat Group’ Returns to Rescue Funds

Ethereum's Parity Client Users Lose Millions in a Multi-Sig HackFollowing this incident, a group of unknown “white hat group” hackers took it upon themselves to drain the rest of the vulnerable multi-sig wallets by sweeping the network. According to the group, they recovered 377,105 ether worth about $85M at the time of writing. The group says they will be returning the funds to accounts that have been drained and are using the DAO rescue donations for the gas to send the ether forward.

“The White Hat Group were made aware of a vulnerability in a specific version of a commonly used multisig contract,” explains the hacker’s announcement. “This vulnerability was trivial to execute, so they took the necessary action to drain every vulnerable multisig they could find as quickly as possible. Thank you to the greater Ethereum Community that helped finding these vulnerable contracts.”

If you hold a multisig contract that was drained, please be patient. We will be creating another multisig for you that has the same settings as your old multisig but with the vulnerability removed and we will return your funds to you there. We will be using the donations sent to us from The DAO Rescue to pay for gas.

How Many More Faulty Contracts Will Be Found in the Future?

The news of the vulnerability comes just after the Coindash ICO hack last week which saw the loss of $10M worth of ether. The malicious hacks from that event last week and yesterday’s multi-signature wallet drain has had little effect on the price of ethereum. However, the cryptocurrency community is once again discussing the issue of faulty contracts held within the Ethereum network that currently hold millions of dollars in funds. Close to a quarter of a billion dollars in ether has been drained by either the “black hat exploiters” or the “white hat group” since the notorious DAO debacle last year.

What do you think about the latest multi-signature wallet ethereum hacks? Let us know in the comments below.

The Hidden Reason Behind Bitcoin’s Increasing Fees: Darknet Mixers

Just recently a darknet marketplace (DNM) vendor who details he’s been involved with the bitcoin industry for five years, says the rising fee market is caused by marketplace mixers that process multiple transactions at a time. The vendor details that DNM sales using these mixers are forcing him and many others to pay for 50 transactions at a time at ten times the cost, to cover their tracks.

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As Global Bitcoin Exchanges Suffer From Increased Use — Darknet Marketplaces Are Also Busier Than Ever

The Hidden Reason Behind Bitcoin's Increasing Fees: Darknet MixersAs much as people don’t like to talk about it, bitcoin has been used widely across DNMs across the deep web for years. Many people believe the lion’s share of bitcoin transactions come from DNM sales. Since the inception of the first DNM — the Silk Road — illicit narcotic sales have increased exponentially. Furthermore, two years after the sentencing of the Silk Road operator there are more online marketplaces located on the deep web than ever before. Over the past year, these markets have been extremely busy as bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed and many of the top underground market users have reported on experiencing big issues with withdrawals.

According to many forum posts, a lot of people have been having problems withdrawing from the leading DNM Alpha Bay. Additionally, there have been congestion issues over the past month on other popular markets such as Dream, Valhalla, and Hansa.

“Add me to the long list of people who can’t get their funds out of Alpha Bay,” explains a DNM consumer on Reddit. “I have been trying to withdraw a couple of hundred dollars worth of BTC for several weeks now. I go the transfer page, fill in all of the information, but after I submit the transaction, the page refreshes like the transaction has gone through, but when the page is done refreshing, it’s like I never submitted a transaction.”

Fee Pressure Stemming From Darknet Markets

According to one particular DNM vendor, he believes the super high fees lately are attributed to black market sales. Nobody seems to understand the rising fee market is coming from that “invisible” web.

Drugs, drugs, and more drugs — None of you are recognizing that most of the fee pressure comes from darknet markets; most especially from DNMs like Alpha Bay that has a built in mixer and causes 20-50 + transactions

The vendor who deals with cannabis sales details that in his opinion DNMs are “responsible for the lion’s share of bitcoin transactions daily.” According to him, there are hundreds of thousands of transactions coming from DNMs daily, rated around 550-600 satoshis. The obvious reason for this he explains is so “drug addicts can get their shit as fast as possible.” Many of the top DNMs found on the deep web have their own mixing services for customers who want to cover their tracks. The tumblers used on Alpha Bay and other DNMs continuously split transfers into multiple transactions at a time, which could quite possibly be adding more strain to the bitcoin network’s throughput.

Darknet Mixers May Be Putting Pressure on Bitcoin's Fee Market
An example of 16.1 BTC being mixed into multiple outputs.

The cannabis dealer states the bitcoin network fee estimation is “way off the radar” these days, mainly because DNMs are catering to addicts who want their products shipped as soon as possible.

DNM Sales Still Account for a Great Majority of Bitcoin Transfers

There is no doubt that DNMs are getting used far more than they were back in 2013, and back then the underground sales attributed to a vast majority of bitcoin transfers. The vendor’s theory may be more truthful than a lot of people would like to admit, as much of the focus these days has been on mainstream adoption. The likelihood of the fee market and network congestion rising due to more DNM usage is quite probable even though the discussion is not so favorable to everyone.

What do you think about DNM use boosting the fee market and adding to the network congestion? Let us know what you think in the comments below.