Kidnapping of Bitcoin Exchange Executive Showed Importance of Financial Privacy

UK-based Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Operator Pavel Lerner, who was kidnapped outside of his office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Dec. 28, has paid $1 mln in ransom to be set free.

The recent abduction of UK-based Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Operator Pavel Lerner has demonstrated the importance of financial privacy for cryptocurrency users.

Earlier this week, BBC initially reported that Lerner kidnapped outside of his office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Dec. 28, by a group of individuals who dragged him at knife point to a black Mercedes and drove off the scene. At the time, Anatoliy Larin, the spokesperson of the exchange, stated:

"Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel's job at Exmo doesn't assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users' funds are absolutely safe."

Within two days after the disappearance of Lerner, Financial Times revealed that Lerner has paid more than $1 mln to an armed gang as a price for his freedom. The advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister Anton Gerashchenko told FT:

“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting Bitcoins. We have operative information that he paid more than $1 mln worth of Bitcoins. [After one and a half days, he was] then released in a state of shock. … He got very lucky that he remained alive.”

The Ukrainian National Police has officially opened a criminal case to investigate into the abduction of Lerner and to disclose the identities behind the attack.

While Exmo is a small Bitcoin exchange with only 94,000 active investors and a $125 mln daily trading volume, less than one percent of leading exchanges like Bithumb, Coinbase’s GDAX and Bitfinex, both the company and Ukrainian authorities believe that Lerner became a target of the armed gang because of his involvement in a Bitcoin venture.

Over the past 12 months, the price of Bitcoin has surged from $900 to $14,000, by nearly 14,000 percent. Thus, an increasing number of hackers and criminals have started to target large-scale cryptocurrency businesses and executives of Bitcoin companies.

Importance of financial privacy

During a presentation given at the Coinbase headquarters, Monero Lead Developer Riccardo Spagni, better known to the cryptocurrency community as FluffyPony, emphasized the importance of financial privacy for users and investors of all types.

He noted financial privacy on public Blockchain networks and cryptocurrencies is crucial in preventing sensitive information of users from being used for criminal activities, such as direct attacks, blackmailing, targeted advertising, and unwanted disclosure of assets, wealth and holdings.

In January 2017, when he gave the talk to Coinbase employees, FluffyPony jokingly stated that investors could become kidnapped for purchasing large amounts of Bitcoin at a local exchange.

“If we don’t have financial privacy, there are bad things that can happen. We might end up with targeted advertising based on spending habits. [Another example is] targeted crime against the wealthy. You go to a local Bitcoin exchange and next minute you’re held up at knife point. Even worse, you go and pay with Bitcoin for an item and now, the owner knows your bank balance,” said FluffyPony.

Dumbfoundingly, FluffyPony’s statement became a reality in Kiev, Ukraine, as Lerner became a direct target of an armed gang with a pre-established plan of extorting ransom in Bitcoin from the exchange operator.

However, the lack of privacy measures in Bitcoin also means that the criminals that have abducted Lerner cannot easily spend the money or sell it for cash because the transaction can be traced using the public Bitcoin Blockchain.

Source: Coin Telegraph




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Investors Still Wary of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is established, but many investors are still wary according to industry experts.

Setting aside a massive December price correction, Bitcoin has pushed its way into the minds of ordinary people all over the world.

Google stats for 2017 have Bitcoin as the second most searched news term of the year, as everyone from plucky investors, cryptocurrency newbies and diehard technologists look for the latest news and price updates on the lucrative cryptocurrency.

With a market capitalization of over $11 bln, Bitcoin has made many a millionaire with its rapid appreciation in value this year. Investors flocked to buy Bitcoin during its most recent bull run which started in November which saw the price skyrocket to an eventual high of $20,000.

The almost inevitable correction in the lead up to Christmas sent jitters through the market and many investors will have lamented the dramatic drop in price.

It's not surprising to hear financial analysts and industry experts describe an apathy towards the market due to the volatility seen in recent weeks. Both big businesses and individual investors still seem wary of putting their money into cryptocurrencies.

Small players

Speaking to CNBC this week, American billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who made his fortune as a restauranteur, believes the average man won’t go near Bitcoin until they have some sort of insurance.

"They don't have the money. It's just paper. That's all Bitcoin is, is paper, but it's not insured by the FDIC today. And until it's insured, a lot of people are never going to buy it.”

Nevertheless, the 60-year-old isn’t opposed to the idea of Bitcoin becoming a widely accepted payment method in the future, even by some of his businesses, ranging from casinos, hotels to restaurants.

"I mean, I remember somebody walking into my office and saying, 'The world's going to change. There's this thing called the Internet.' And that wasn't that long ago. So we have to remember this. It's just something new and everything moves at a quicker pace today."

Big players

Larger financial institutions have already entered the cryptocurrency fray after the launch of Bitcoin futures contracts on CBOE and CME trading exchanges. The NASDAQ and Goldman Sachs are also set to jump onboard in 2018 – paving the way for wider mainstream adoption.

Nevertheless there still seems to be a reluctance for bigger corporate players to invest some serious capital into the market.

In an interview with CNBC this week, head of currency and forex technology company FiREapps Wolfgang Koester said big companies want a less speculative environment,

FiREapps provide insights into the likes of Google and Ericsson, but Koester says big companies will not invest in current cryptocurrencies and are waiting for state-issued digital currencies, backed by regulation.

"They are saying we can't get involved with Bitcoin, but we like the idea of Bitcoin and others. We like speedy transactions at a lower cost. They are waiting for governments to issue those digital currencies so that they can take advantage.”

Source: Coin Telegraph




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Bitcoin Headed ‘Below $5k,’ Is ‘One Of Silliest Things’ – Dennis Gartman To CNBC

New bear warnings on Bitcoin have come from ex-commodities trader Dennis Gartman, who thinks it is going below $5,000.

Gartman Letter creator and former trader Dennis Gartman has said Bitcoin will trade “below $5,000” and that it is “one of the silliest things in a long time.”

In two appearances on newly Bitcoin-bearish TV network CNBC, Gartman stressed the implausibility of the virtual currency and said he would have no contact or exposure to it.

“I'm very bearish on Bitcoin, I think it's one of the silliest ideas I've heard in a long time," he told its Futures Now segment Saturday.

Speaking on Worldwide Exchange previously, Gartman added Bitcoin makes “no sense whatsoever.”

“I won't trade it. I won't be long of it. I won't be short of it,” he announced, failing to see the merits of “some sort of an asset that has no real asset value behind it.”

The Wall Street veteran’s perspective is typical of the highly critical approach a diminishing number of traditional finance figures continue to hold on Bitcoin.

While some of the most famous naysayers have either U-turned or quietened down on the topic, some, including central bank chiefs and even entire governments, maintain that it will evaporate.

For its part, while previously adopting a neutral stance on Bitcoin, CNBC recently turned the tables dramatically, publishing practically all warnings about investing in it while championing the alleged benefits of an altcoin, Bitcoin Cash.

The network’s Fast Money segment has been especially vocal, its Twitter account causing a stir when it published pro-Bitcoin Cash material some considered was verging on aggressive in nature.

Source: Coin Telegraph




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Crypto Market Crash – Not The New Year’s Present Everyone Hoped For

Most of the cryptocurrencies have lost a lot of value over the past two days, including the majority of top-20 by market cap, followed by a slight recovery today.

The cryptocurrency market has experienced a powerful drop this Friday and Saturday. Coins were losing value across the board, with just three of the top twenty by market capitalization displaying growth of over 10 percent: Cardano, Qtum and Neo.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, has dropped from a Friday high of $15,266 to as low as $12,350 on Saturday. The past two weeks have been very volatile for the original cryptocurrency, as it has achieved an all-time high of $20,000 on Dec. 17, 2017, only to hold it for a single day and consequently lose about 32 percent of that value, as of press time.

 

Bitcoin Price Chart

The latest fall seems to be the continuation of that trend, with no recovery in sight yet.

Ripple, which has just recently displaced Ethereum as the highest altcoin by market capitalization, has similarly dropped by at least 20 percent over the past two days. Despite experiencing a powerful surge this week, it hasn’t been spared from the “crypto massacre.”

Ripple Price Chart

Fortunately for holders of Ethereum, its drop has been less prominent. A fall from $769 to $685, constituting just an 11 percent loss of value, compares much more favorably to the performance of Bitcoin and Ripple. Especially if you consider the slight recovery of 2.22 percent over the past 24 hours.

Ethereum Price Chart

Overall, 2017 has been a good year for Ethereum, seeing the coin rise from mere $8 to its own all-time high of $750 and beyond, and so far it seems to be maintaining that dynamic.

Other prominent cryptocurrencies have also lost value over the past two days, including Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, NEM, Dash, Monero, and others. This year has been very positive for the vast majority of coins, possibly indicating that the crash of the past two days is a temporary retracement of that progress, which may be followed by resumed growth.

As of press time, most cryptocurrencies have either started growing or slowed down their downward trends.

Source: Coin Telegraph




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Global P2P Crypto Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout December

Global P2P Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout December

The global peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin markets have seen record trading volume as a consequence of last week’s major price retracement. According to data provided by Coindance, numerous national markets saw historically unprecedented trade volume throughout December – suggesting that many investors may have been taking profits following bitcoin’s dramatic bull run up to the $20,000 USD area.

Also Read: Markets Update: BTC Value Against the Dollar Continues to Slide 

Global P2P Trading Soars

According to Coindance, the week of the 23rd of December saw over $130 million worth of bitcoin exchange hands via Localbitcoins – comprising the largest week of P2P trade in bitcoin’s history.

Global P2P Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout December
Localbitcoins Weekly Gobal Trading Volume Measured in USD

Western P2P Markets Surge During Week of 23rd of December

The P2P bitcoin markets of most western nations saw record-breaking trade volume this past week. Peer-to-peer trade in USD set a new record for volume, with over $12.4 million in bitcoins exchanging hands. The Australasian markets have consistently rallied across December, with Australia’s P2P markets experiencing new all-time highs for trade volume for each consecutive week during December, whilst New Zealand’s markets broke volume records during weeks of the 2nd, 9th, and 23rd of December.

P2P trade between bitcoin and the national currencies of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom all set new records during the week of the 23rd of December, whilst peer-to-peer trade between bitcoin and the Euro established record trade volume during the week of the 16th of September.

Global P2P Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout December
EUR/BTC Localbitcoins Weekly Trading Volume

Eastern European Markets Witness Record Trade Volume During December

Russian P2P bitcoin trade established a new volume record of $1.75 billion RUB during the week of the 23rd of December – exceeding its prior record from the week of the 9th of December by approximately $30 million RUB. Last week’s volume spike comprised a new RUB/BTC volume record for the third time in four weeks.

Polish and Czech P2P bitcoin trading established record volume during the weeks of the 9th and the 16th of December, before experiencing a retracement heading into the week of the 23rd of December. During last week, trade in the Romanian Leu (ROL) fell roughly $2,500 ROL shy of testing its prior weekly volume record of approximately $1,425,000 ROL – that was established during the week of the 9th of December. Trade between bitcoin and the Kazakh Tenge also set a new record high for the week of the 9th of December, before volume consistently declined during the ensuing two weeks. Ukraine’s P2P markets also established a new record for trading volume during the week of the 9th of December.

Latin American P2P Markets Rally Throughout December

Global P2P Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout DecemberSeveral Latin American P2P bitcoin markets established new all-time highs for trade volume this past week, with Peru, Chile, and Venezuela all witnessing record-breaking volume.

Peru broke its preceding P2P volume record by almost 50%, with more than $1.5 million PEN worth of bitcoin exchanging hands during the week of the 23rd of December. During the same week, Chile also smashed its previous peer-to-peer volume high by nearly 50%, with more than $200 million CLP worth of bitcoin trading on Localbitcoins last week. Venezuelan P2P trading has continued on its trajectory of exponential growth, with over $350 billion VEF in bitcoin trading this past week.

Other South American peer-to-peer bitcoin markets have seen record trade volume in recent weeks, with Argentina and Colombia setting new records for volume during the week of the 16th of December, and the P2P markets of Mexico and the Dominican Republic experiencing record trade volume during the week of the 9th of December.

West Asian P2P Markets Have Also Witnessed a Dramatic Spike in Trade Volume During December

In the last four weeks, Iranian peer-to-peer trade has produced $71.2 billion IRR, almost $49.7 billion IRR, $26.6 billion IRR, and $16.7 billion IRR in trade respectively – dwarfing the Iranian markets’ previous volume high of $6.3 billion IRR in trade from the week of the 4th of November. Trade between the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED) and BTC has also smashed its prior volume record this month, with the last three weeks’ trade posting consecutive volume records comprising more than double that of the previous high.

Global P2P Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout December
AED/BTC Localbitcoins Weekly Trading Volume

Turkey has also witnessed record volume in its P2P markets for the preceding three weeks, with trade exceeding $1.7 million TRY during the week of the 23rd of December. Saudi Arabia established a record high of over $3.3 million SAR for P2P volume during the week of the 9th of December.

South East Asian Markets Witness Spikes in P2P Trade

The week of the 23rd of December saw several Southeast Asian peer-to-peer bitcoin markets set record trade volume, with Vietnam and Malaysia almost doubling their preceding all-time volume highs, and Indonesia also posting a new all-time high for volume.

The P2P markets for China, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines set new records for volume during the week of the 9th of December, whilst Hong Kong’s Localbitcoins markets rallied to establish a new volume high for the week of the 16th of December.

Other International Markets

Global P2P Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout DecemberThe South Asian P2P bitcoin markets also experienced a dramatic spike in volume during December, with both India and Pakistan’s Localbitcoins markets witnessing weekly volume comprising more than double that of their preceding records.

Select African P2P markets rallied during December, with Nigeria and South Africa both setting record volume during the week of the 16th of December. Kenya established a new all-time high for trade volume during the week of the 9th of December.

Do you think that we will continue to see growth in the dollar-value of the trade volume witnessed by the P2P markets? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coindance


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The post Global P2P Crypto Markets Experience Record Volume Throughout December appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Source: Bitcoin News




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