Japan Bitcoin Prices Hit 300,000 Yen, Trade Volume Doubles

Bitcoin spot rates on Japanese exchanges hit 300,000 yen ($2690) Saturday as the largest trading market continues to buoy prices.


Japan Exchange Frenzy: Coincheck Sees 97% Increase

As Bitcoin breached the $2000 barrier worldwide Friday, Japan’s exchange spreads had begun widening, with asking prices exceeding $500 above the average amount quoted on resources such as Coinmarketcap.com.

Compared to an average press time rate of $2080, major exchange Coincheck currently quotes a spot rate of 260823 yen ($2344).

Japan Bitcoin Prices Hit 300,000 Yen

Fellow exchange BitFlyer registered a 97% increase in trade volumes in the 24 hours to press time Sunday. By contrast, Kraken saw USD/BTC up 21%, Bitfinex 51% and GDAX 45%.

Dotcom, Saxobank: ‘I Told You So’

Momentum in Japan has steadily increased as Bitcoin gains more of a public profile in business and media circles. Most recently, a drive focussed on mainstream availability – and hence adoption – of Bitcoin payments will see hundreds of thousands more outlets able to accept the virtual currency.

These outlets include those of major payment apps and by extension Alipay.

The Japanese exchange climate is also of interest to traders abroad as prices accelerate and opportunities for profit-taking via arbitrage become an increasingly hot topic of conversation on social media.

Taking kudos already meanwhile are those who predicted current prices when Bitcoin was worth much less.

Among those were Saxobank and Kim Dotcom, both of whom forecast a $2000 Bitcoin in 2017.

 

The banking world has also seemingly reacted to the new personality of Bitcoin, with Norwegian Skandiabanken offering cryptocurrency-denominated accounts.

Mempool Woes Continue To Haunt Users

At the same time, however, all is not well. On a technical usability level, the Bitcoin network’s backlog of unprocessed transactions means that many investors are unable to benefit from arbitrage or other trading-based options afforded by the diverse exchange market.

The mempool is hovering around all-time high levels, vastly inflated compared to even two months ago, with even significant fee rises unable to impact on waiting times.

Having briefly dropped Friday, queues are now lengthening once more, with tools such as transaction accelerators either maxed out or charging comparatively high fees to increase the probability of a speedy confirmation.

A test transaction from Bitcoinist with a fee of 120 satoshi per byte, unconfirmed for 24 hours, would currently cost $4.66 to accelerate with BTC.com.

What do you think about the differences in exchange prices for Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of CoinCheck, BTC.com, Wikimedia.org

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Bitcoin Fees Fall 34% As Bloated Mempool Deflates

Amid anger and even despair over Bitcoin’s fees, the recommended rate per transaction has quietly dipped by 34% amid a drop in mempool size.


Bitcoin Fees Fall But Delays Stretch On

From a recommended 450 satoshis per byte, figures this week have fallen to just 300 according to unnamed sources quoted by crypto angel investor Alistair Milne.

Data from 21.co meanwhile also confirms a fall in the “fastest and cheapest” transaction fee, albeit not as drastic, current figures quoting 390 satoshis per byte versus a previous 450.

Milne added the proviso that the discount was in fact volatility, a characteristic detrimental to the Bitcoin network which would be solved by Layer 2 tech, specifically the Lightning Network.

“We need Lightning ASAP,” he said in a discussion of the fee findings.

Man in the moon

Moon Fever Versus Daily Grind

Despite fees rising at a considerable rate for the past two months, transaction delays and even failures are becoming a common narrative in Bitcoin.

An influx of new users lacking knowledge about fees has likely compounded the problem, Bitcoin’s simultaneous price increases leading to a 600% surge in exchange use, Poloniex said this week.

Meanwhile, other commentators remain critical of the economic state of the network. Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham asserted Friday that Bitcoin “doesn’t make economic sense for any transaction less than $100” compared to “credit cards and PayPal.”

At the same time, however, his apparent excitement for prices continuing past $2000 per coin to hit $5000 suggests a U-turn.

In a succession of blog posts throughout the first quarter of 2017, Lingham explicitly warned against Bitcoin becoming too valuable too quickly, the effect of a bubble having an adverse effect on its economy.

Bitpay To Users: We Hear You

As Bitcoinist reported earlier this week, rising fees no longer guarantee even comparable transaction processing times to previous months. Bitcoin’s mempool was laden with hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of unconfirmed payments, this number, however, falling sharply Friday.

In a blog post about the mempool and transactions issue, Bitpay wrote:

The bad news is that this network traffic may produce delays of a few hours to a few days for some users and a wait time of weeks for a small number of users.

Why does it take so long!!?

“…We care about the payment frustrations BitPay merchants and purchasers are experiencing right now,” it continued, adding that it was “continuing to explore options for faster, simpler, and more affordable bitcoin payments.”

Bitpay had responded to the fee increases early, raising its minimum invoice amount from 4 cents to $1.

What do you think about Bitcoin’s drop in fees and mempool size? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Wikimedia, QuickMeme, Pixabay

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Barry Silbert’s ‘Compromise’ to Scale Bitcoin Nets 80% Hashrate Support

Entrepreneur and cryptocurrency fund creator Barry Silbert has concluded the community is behind SegWit after canvassing businesses and miners.


Silbert SegWit Support Echoes Coin Dance

In a series of Twitter posts, Silbert announced he had at least 50 businesses who had “signed on” to his preferred Bitcoin scaling solution – SegWit with a block size increase to 2 megabytes within 12 months.

This was followed by almost 80% of network hashrate coming from miners who supported the solution.

Voorhees Embodies Businesses’ Network Frustration

As CEO of Digital Currency Group, the umbrella corporation controlling both the GBTC fund and the Ethereum Classic Fund, Silbert’s interest in addressing Bitcoin network slowness and expense is no secret.

Bitcoinist_Digital Currency Group Barry Silbert

While onboarding new Bitcoin users appears to be little problem, as exchanges testified earlier this week, frustration is still mounting due to the time and costs involved in confirming transactions.

Responding to Silbert, ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees showed ire towards those whom he considered were hindering scaling progress, specifically Core developer Eric Lombrozo.

Alleging Lombrozo was “diverting the initiative” with his own response to one of Silbert’s tweets, Voorhees expressed dismay at what he called the inability of core developers to “get behind” the move.

Lombrozo responded later that both Silbert and Voorhees were asking impossible things. “…It’s not how [Bitcoin] works,” he wrote. “You’re asking me to change the laws of physics to massage people’s egos.”

Other well-known figures in the industry openly supported Silbert’s proposal, however, including Charlie Shrem and angel investor Chandler Guo.

In a separate exchange with Luke-jr meanwhile, Silbert added he did not know who was in opposition to a hard fork block size increase.

 

Mempool Harbors $400k Unconfirmed

Data from Coin Dance meanwhile tells a slightly different story. Out of businesses tracked by the online resource, 46% “explicitly support” SegWit, with another 41% describing themselves as either “ready” or “prepared” to implement it.

Together with 6% taking a “neutral” or “no official stance” to SegWit, these statistics have remained almost identical for the last month, despite both transaction fees and confirmation times increasing during that period.

At the same time, a  glance at the Bitcoin mempool today makes for disconcerting viewing. Approximately $400,000 worth of Bitcoin transactions currently remains unconfirmed despite the higher fees paid. The average value of the unconfirmed transactions is also high, at around $2300.

What do you think about Barry Silbert’s efforts? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, Coin.dance

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Bitcoin Boom: Poloniex, Bitstamp Stretched Thin Amid 600% User Surge

Bitstamp and Poloniex have reported a surge in new users as cryptocurrency prices and press coverage pique mainstream interest.


Poloniex: Users Up 600%, Transactions 640% in 4 Months

Poloniex, commonly considered the go-to resource for crypto-to-crypto trading, released data showing a 600% increase in user numbers, while first-time traders caused Bitstamp to warn about delays to support response times.

As digital currencies continue to gain in popularity, the increase in the number of new traders on exchanges like ours can exert significant pressure on the customer service team,” Bitstamp wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

[…]As you might expect, this recent spike in popularity has led to us receiving significantly higher numbers of customer support queries and verification requests.

Poloniex has been dogged by technical problems in recent weeks as more and more traders turn to the platform to trade on increasingly lucrative altcoin markets.

Slowdowns in load times, ‘stuck’ transactions and site loading problems came amid the exchange confirming it was dealing with a major DDOS attack.

Transaction numbers themselves, it continued in a press release this week, are up 640% in just four months.

More Demand Means More Customer Liability

“Poloniex does not advise on the merits of any particular trade (including the associated trading risks and strategies) or the tax consequences of any trades,” the release said, adding that customer liability for technical difficulties was a necessary part of exchange use.

Price

[…]This means users accept the risk of transaction failure resulting from unanticipated or heightened technical difficulties, such as those resulting from operational challenges or sophisticated attacks.

“As blockchains enter the mainstream, we extend a warm welcome to new entrants and want to assure long time members of the Poloniex community of our commitment to scaling up,” it concluded.

Bitstamp too was not left technically unscathed, being forced to shut down its telephone-based support service altogether.

India Exchange Zebpay Onboarding 2500 Users Daily

Bitcoin meanwhile has proven that all publicity is good publicity, as the negative press resulting from the ongoing WannaCry cyberattack only served to heighten demand from new investors.

Flagship Indian exchange Zebpay announced it was adding 2500 new users a day, Hindu Business Line reported Wednesday, while downloads of its app passed half a million this week.

This despite repeated warnings from the Reserve Bank of India and government figures cautioning against Bitcoin’s use, as well as media attention prior to WannaCry, with multiple criminal operations involving the virtual currency hitting the headlines.

What do you think about exchanges’ reactions to the increase in demand? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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Report: Only ‘7.92 BTC’ Funded Terrorism Since 2015

Coin Center CEO Jerry Brito has said it is “time to assess” cryptocurrency’s exposure to terrorism in light of the US Congress moving to investigate links.


Brito: Community ‘Shouldn’t Be Concerned’ By Congress

Highlighting preliminary findings from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which he describes as “by and large excellent,” Brito said the community should learn not to fear scrutiny from regulators.

“News reports today that Congress may soon commission a study assessing the link between terrorism and virtual currencies have generated concern within the cryptocurrency community, but they shouldn’t,” he began.

No one should want cryptocurrency networks to be used to finance terrorism, and an assessment of how they may be used and how to prevent that use should be welcome.

The announcement from Congress comes as Bitcoin remains in the headlines globally due to the ongoing ransomware-based cyberattack.

While its perpetrators’ plan to get rich appears to have stalled, the level of disruption caused has nonetheless placed Bitcoin at the heart of mainstream internet businesses’ latest headache.

Only ‘Anecdotal Evidence’ Of Crypto Terror Financing

The CNAS meanwhile clearly segregates terrorism from comparatively innocuous cyber attacks of this nature.

“Currently […] there is no more than anecdotal evidence that terrorist groups have used virtual currencies to support themselves,” Brito highlights a remark from the report, which he notes is “very important.”

“…There is time to develop an appropriate response to the possibility,” he continued.

bitcoin value

The possibility remains precisely that, CNAS confirms, with the overwhelming choice among organized terrorist groups and even individuals regarding funds transfer still being the “legacy financial system,” as Brito describes it.

“They still find it possible to circumvent global rules governing terrorist financing with suficient (sic) ease and frequency that using VCs is unnecessary,” the report continues.

They exploit incomplete implementation of regulatory requirements and global standards at banks, use unlicensed and undersupervised (sic) money services businesses (MSBs), or simply cart around cash.

A timeline supplied in the CNAS report highlighting “selected” incidents of terrorist financing only produces 7.929 BTC as a total from 2015 – 2017.

This, a commentator responded, is less even than “the cost of commissioning” the report itself.

Congress Commission Will Not Surprise

In terms of regulation, Brito considers the Congressional findings will likely “reach the same conclusions” as CNAS regarding regulatory next moves. These revolve around taking a measured approach to financial innovation without overwhelming “compliance burdens.”

“Financial policymakers should consider how to actively support beneficial financial technology development, particularly when it can bring virtual currency and new payment technology platforms successfully into the regulated financial sphere,” he quotes the report.

The international community has traditionally been at odds over the ‘real’ extent of cryptocurrency penetration among terrorist actors.

The ostensible need to guard against terrorism has formed grounds for regulatory moves from sources such as the European Union, whose plans to link cryptocurrency wallets to holders’ names in a database is still causing controversy.

What do you think about Jerry Brito’s angle on cryptocurrency in terrorism? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of coincenter.org, Shutterstock

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Microsoft: WanaCry Blame Game Ends At NSA, Consumers’ Door

Microsoft has defended itself in the aftermath of WanaCry, saying system modernization is “a high priority for everyone.”


NSA, Consumers Firmly To Blame

As the Windows attack, known by various names such as WanaCry, WannaCrypt and WanaCrypt0r 2.0, rages on, the computer giant also pointed the finger firmly at the US National Security Agency (NSA). Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith write in a blog post on Sunday:

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith

The WannaCrypt exploits used in the attack were drawn from the exploits stolen from the National Security Agency, or NSA, in the United States. That theft was publicly reported earlier this year.

This, Edward Snowden subsequently noted, is effective confirmation that the NSA lay at the source of the attack.

At the same time, Microsoft’s position on business consumers was clear, if tempered: operating legacy systems was beyond its control, and organizations themselves only have themselves to blame:

As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems. Otherwise they’re literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past […] This attack is a powerful reminder that information technology basics like keeping computers current and patched are a high responsibility for everyone, and it’s something every top executive should support.

Windows XP Legacy At Risk The World Over

As major victims such as Telefonica and the UK’s National Health Service scrabble to regain full control, the attack is continuing to spread, especially in China, where up to 29,000 businesses have now become affected.

Any significant system with older Windows operating systems at its core – specifically Windows XP or earlier – is now a potential victim.

As time progresses, it is also becoming apparent that despite the ransom demands, financial gain may, in fact, come second to disruption in terms of the perpetrators’ priorities.

WanaCry 2 cyber attack

Sources suggest that from the 200,000 machines currently infected, hackers have accrued only $50,000 worth of Bitcoin.

Given the original demand of $300 per machine, they are $59,950,000 short, leading some to believe a previous threat to double price tag for regaining control could in fact occur.

“We think over the course of today as we approach the first deadline where fines double we will see a bigger increase (in bitcoin payments),” law enforcement support startup Elliptic CEO James Smith told CNBC.

Fake News and Misinformation

Meanwhile, significant mainstream press exposure for Bitcoin has resulted in the usual deluge of misinformation hitting consumers.

British tabloid The Sun, writing about the virtual currency in light of the NHS stranglehold, even announced that Bitcoin “has no transaction fees.”

What do you think about Microsoft’s response to the WanaCrypt cyberattack? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock, Associated Press

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Antonopoulos On Trust: Fake News ‘Is About To Happen To Money’

Andreas Antonopoulos has predicted that the world’s money supply will suffer the fate of information in the fake news era.


Money To Get Its Fake News Moment

In a talk originally held April 11 but republished Saturday, Antonopoulos said that in light of the multiple currency failures seen in recent times, consumers no longer know what gives cash in their pockets value. During the discussion Antonopoulos commented:

blockchain training conference Antonopoulos

What’s really interesting is what just happened in [the] news that has left an entire generation of people now unable to discern truth from fiction, easily manipulated through propaganda […] What I’m going to suggest today is this is about to happen to money.

Just like the information consumer watching television or reading news sources online, the debate about whom to trust and whether the reputation of a source means that source can be considered reliable is now transferring to the financial sector.

…And Bitcoin Is Already On Consumers’ Radar

Antonopoulos highlights the currency failures in countries including Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Ukraine as prime examples of central banks failing to uphold the promise that cash will be worth approximately the same tomorrow as today.

One day, that phrase which seemed so meaningful and strong and satisfying – ‘the full faith and credit of the United States of America’ […] – compare it to this one: ‘the full faith and credit of the National Bank of Zimbabwe.’ […] That sentence no longer has much weight to it.

In terms of Bitcoin’s role in providing a haven away from trusting third party authority, Antonopoulos used India’s increased interest in the virtual currency following demonetization of 86% of its cash supply last November.

Bitcoin is not going after replacing national currency; […] it’s doing something far more dangerous: it’s encouraging people to put their savings outside the system.

Germany: ‘If You Think Bitcoin Is Safe As Fiat, Take Responsibility’

For those reading the news a month after Antonopoulos’ words, a warning against using Bitcoin, this time from Germany’s central bank, now strikes an altogether less sincere tone.

“From our perspective Bitcoin does not constitute a suitable medium for storage of wealth,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele told German newspaper, Die Welt, last weekend. “Just one look at the highly volatile exchange rate demonstrates that.”

In further comments even more ironic in light of Antonopoulos’ words about trust, Thiele continued:

Carl-Ludwig Thiele

Whoever nonetheless thinks Bitcoin is as safe as the euro or dollar must take responsibility for that. All we can do is warn people about using Bitcoin as a means of wealth storage.

What do you think about Andreas Antonopoulos and Carl-Ludwig Thiele’s opinions? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Andreas Antonopoulos, Reuters, AdobeStock

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WanaCrypt0r 2.0 Ransomware Myths Fail To Shake Bitcoin Optimism

Bitcoin is shrugging off links with the ongoing international WanaCrypt0r 2 cyber attack as the media struggles to work out who to blame.


WanaCrypt0r 2: Media Perpetuates Bitcoin Myth

Beginning Friday morning, 99 countries began losing control of huge sections of their IT infrastructure.

The alarm first became public after Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica saw 85% of its computers infiltrated with Bitcoin ransomware. Screens displayed a demand for around $300 per machine to end the attack, which soon spread to countries around the world including the UK, where its public health service, the NHS, was targeted.

As more details have come to light, Bitcoin has taken a substantial publicity hit due to a combination of misinformation and sensationalism in the mainstream press.

UK publication the Daily Mirror published a form of explainer for readers about BItcoin as the attack spread, in which it described the virtual currency as “the money ransomware hackers are demanding from NHS.”

Attack Fails To Shake Crypto Confidence

Not everyone was fooled by the kneejerk reaction. One response to the Mirror article reading “blaming bitcoin for ransomware is exactly like blaming the duffel bag for of cash for a kidnapping,” yet markets clearly felt the pressure.

Having reached a high of almost $1870 earlier in the week, Bitcoin briefly saw a dip to $1655 in light of the attack, subsequently recovering to sit at around $1750 at press time Saturday.

Bitcoin price drops in wake of cyber attack

Given the scale of the attack, such resilience is remarkable, perhaps due to an already emerging sense the real weakness lies in outdated IT systems.

In the hunt to find the source of the attack, Microsoft immediately came under fire, as its perpetrators appear to have exploited a Windows vulnerability to spread WanaCrypt0r 2.

This vulnerability first hit the headlines after hacker group the Shadow Brokers leaked a second batch of National Security Agency data in April.

Real Spotlight On Legacy Infrastructure

In the case of the NHS, which has seen doctors switch to pen and paper as a result of computers being outside staff control, running the Windows XP operating system would have made its network a ‘sitting duck’ for more modern attacks.

Despite Microsoft releasing security updates to minimize the threat from the Shadow Brokers leak, XP has not had official security updates made for several years.

I'll Never Let Go XP

Outdated infrastructure has been easy prey for ransomware attackers in the past. The scale of the problem became evident in studies last year, which suggested the majority of both smaller and larger businesses were ill-prepared for such eventualities.

Data collected by Phishme in Q3 2016 showed that 97% of common phishing emails contained ransomware.

What do you think about the WanaCrypt0r 2 attacks? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of MemeGenerator, CoinMarketCap, AdobeStock

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Litecoin Activates SegWit Today As Price Nears $40

SegWit activation day is here for Litecoin as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency gains another 38% in price.

Litecoin Passes $35, Lee Remains Cool

With just several hours to go before its “locked-in” status changes to “activated”, investors are celebrating as Litecoin’s price per token exceeds $35.

The surge marks a turnaround in the altcoin’s fortunes, prices having suffered earlier this week as assets across the board hemorrhaged value.

Poloniex, a major altcoin exchange, experienced slowness and loading problems, which some pointed to as a major cause of panic selling resulting in a broad comedown.

On Twitter Wednesday, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee appeared naturally upbeat, noting nonetheless that this was just the start for his cryptocurrency.

 

SegWit Still King For Investor Confidence

The rags-to-riches story has been marked by overwhelming investor appetite for SegWit. The confidence that accompanied Litecoin locking in the technology appeared to engulf any misgivings or even alleged attempts to derail the process.

This in turn led to a rapid U-turn for two other altcoins, namely SysCoin and Vertcoin, which both successfully activated SegWit and benefitted from giant price rises.

As in the case of Litecoin, criticism that SegWit activation was simply a tool for developers to make money did not stop trading interest.

Now, Litecoin will no doubt be eyeing the next step in the chain – introduction of Lightning Network transactions.

Lightning Network Brewing

“The activation of segwit on Litecoin allows us to deploy Lightning on an active production blockchain,” Lightning’s Olaoluwa Osuntokun wrote in a blog post last week.

“With our ultimate launch, we’ll be able to examine monetary incentives within the network, observe the emergent properties of the networks’ channel graph, and see the rise of production services and applications built on top of the network.”

A survey conducted by Lee meanwhile suggested Litecoin users were keener on harboring their funds long term than testing Lightning.

 

Lee himself stated that he intended to both “hodl” and test the technology.

Across the altcoin board meanwhile, only a modest recovery is noticeable, while Bitcoin is also down from its near $1800 highs. The figures will likely be music to the ears of experts such as Vinny Lingham, who repeated warnings about “bubbles” in recent public comments.

What do you think about Litecoin after SegWit activation? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of

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Dare To Dream? Bitcoin Just $350 Off $2000 Moon Landing

Bitcoin is adamant which way it intends to go as its price beats $1600 resistance to land just $350 short of a new $2000 frontier.


Healthy Metrics Or Another Bubble?

In what has been an unprecedented run since March, the cryptocurrency has beaten all expectations to gain $750 without major downward pressure.

Now, just weeks after the price per coin fell below $1000 on hard fork fears, the question on everyone’s lips has become whether it is about to hit double that figure.

Commentators recently began citing underlying healthy pointers in Bitcoin such as investment as reasons for the optimism. On Twitter Monday, BitFury CEO George Kikvadze continued the sentiment, saying the Bitcoin asset class “has become too large to ignore.”

Looking further ahead into the future, industry commentator Willy Woo noted significantly more time was needed before Bitcoin’s real potential can unfold.

Highlighting a potential use case as a reserve currency, Woo produced a chart showing that despite the potential, drawing any conclusions would be hasty.

More conservative reactions came from Tuur Demeester and Vinny Lingham. Demeester had previously stated he was “quite sure” another Bitcoin bubble would occur, and on Sunday added that any downward correction could see prices back to $1200 or even $1000.

Lingham meanwhile, having warned about the dangers of too quick a growth in value, was among the first in line to sound the alarm.

Commenting on Ripple’s brief overtaking Ethereum’s market cap to become the biggest altcoin Monday, Lingham commented that “anyone who doesn’t think we’re in the middle of a Crypto bubble/manipulated market is naive.”

Altcoin Top Ten Barely Adds Up

The altcoin market indeed continues to see upheaval of its own. As Ripple and Ethereum vie for the top spot, last week also saw Ethereum Classic briefly surpass Dash’s market cap, having seen dramatic increases after Barry Silbert’s Grayscale Investments launched a dedicated fund for the asset.

Charts at press time tell a tale of two sides. Coins including Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dash have seen flat daily activity, while huge gains from unlikely sources come in the form of NEM and Steem, which gained 31% and 80% respectively.

Stellar’s Lumens token also continues its sudden upsurge, adding another 70% to several days of growth. A token giveaway is scheduled for June.

What do you think about Bitcoin’s current price performance? Will it reach $2000? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Pixabay

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