Clickbait Media Uses Bitcoin and Russia to Pump Headlines Again

Clickbaiting Telegraph Uses Bitcoin and Russia to Pump Headlines Again

In the past week or so, a number of publications, including cryptocurrency websites, but also “reputable” mainstream outlets, have given stage to a “Kremlin economist” with a bold prediction – Russia will invest billions in bitcoin to tackle U.S. sanctions, possibly triggering a new bull run as early as next month. The claim was quoted in multiple reports, although never double-checked or substantiated.

Also read: Russia Not Ready for the Petro, Proposes Plan to Aid Venezuela Without It

Moscow Said to Dump Billions Into Bitcoin

The statements came from Vladislav Ginko, a lecturer at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (Ranepa). Last week he told the Australian online edition Micky that new U.S. sanctions will push Moscow to diversify its cash reserves and there are limited options by which they can do so. One of them is to replace part of the $466 billion saved by the Central Bank of Russia with cryptocurrency. He insisted that Russia’s elite is also being forced to dump U.S. assets and currency and “invest hugely into bitcoins.” The expert economist stated categorically:

U.S. sanctions may be mitigated only through Bitcoin use.

Ginko further suggested that the first wave of significant Russian government investment into bitcoin, “worth billions of dollars,” could come within the next few weeks. “I believe that Russia will start diversifying its reserves with bitcoin in February, when the U.S. Congress will introduce new sanctions,” he said. The economist also shared his opinion that the Russian government is not against cryptocurrencies and noted that President Putin has referred to fintech as a key driver of the country’s economy.

Clickbait Media Uses Bitcoin and Russia to Pump Headlines Again

Toward the end of the interview, Vladislav Ginko admitted that much of his work recently has been focused on persuading Russian officials that bitcoin is the best way to alleviate the effects of tough U.S. sanctions and prove to various stakeholders of Russian society the need for investing central bank money into the “heavily oversold bitcoin.”

Some ‘Exclusive’ Reports

The report was promoted by the Australian media outlet as exclusive, although Ginko has been actively spreading his views and forecasts on social media and in conversations with many journalists. A number of other crypto and mainstream media outlets, including Fortune, have quoted Micky’s report. However, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper has published its own article, posting additional information – again, unconfirmed by an official government source from Russia.

The Russian expert is quoted as saying that Moscow is ready to invest as much as $10 billion in the world’s most popular cryptocurrency as part of its de-dollarization efforts and in order to prevent interruptions of U.S. dollar payments for Russian oil and gas. Another unverified claim by Ginko, which has been quoted by The Telegraph, is that the cryptocurrency industry now accounts for 8 percent of Russia’s GDP.

In the meantime, Micky has come out with another article on the same topic, claiming to have obtained documents from Australian crypto OTC brokerage Lupo Toro reportedly showing “large and unusual increase in the volume of OTC bitcoin purchases placed by Russian nationals.” The so-called “Moscow Files” have been published under a title starting with “The Putin Pump?”

Clickbaiting With Bitcoin

Crypto prices did not see much pumping during a bearish 2018, but this didn’t diminish the spate of hyperbole-laden headlines. The cryptocurrency is a very convenient target for alarmists, attention-seekers, and clickbaiters. Bitcoin does not have a CEO and can’t complain about fake news, so the mainstream media simply doesn’t care about the actual facts. In this particular example, Russia’s Billions, Shift to Bitcoin, Ditching the Dollar, and Putin’s Pump have been an irresistible choice of words for many online editors. A reply to Barry Silbert’s tweet linking The Telegraph’s article sums it all up very well:

This is what happens when journalism becomes shitposting. ANY PROOFS? What’s wrong with reporters these days?

Russia does seek ways to decrease its dependency on the U.S. dollar. It has increased its holdings of the euro, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen, and has discussed the introduction of a common digital currency within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and BRICS. But according to one real government official, Moscow is not looking at bitcoin. Elina Sidorenko, chair of the crypto working group in Russia’s parliament, recently noted that “there’s not a bit of common sense” in Ginko’s statements.

“The Russian Federation, like any other country in the world, is simply not ready today to somehow combine its traditional financial system with cryptocurrencies … The implementation of this idea in the next at least 30 years is unlikely to be possible,” she commented. Sidorenko believes the only way to use digital assets at the state level would be to create an international cryptocurrency as a unit of account between countries. A convertible “cryptoruble” has its supporters in the Moscow corridors of power as well – it fits in Russia’s “Sovereign Democracy” concept better than any decentralized crypto.

Clickbait Media Uses Bitcoin and Russia to Pump Headlines Again

Another telling statement recently came from the chairman of the parliamentary Financial Markets Committee, Anatoly Aksakov. No one is going to ban Bitcoin in Russia, he said. His main concern was that if crypto holders are pushed against the wall by the state, they will revert back to investing in the U.S. dollar. The legislation on digital financial assets the State Duma is about to adopt on second reading in February will simply not mention cryptocurrency at all – a decision that reflects Putin’s own admission that “cryptocurrency is something that goes beyond national borders.”

It seems that anyone who thinks Russia will fully embrace Bitcoin doesn’t know Russia very well, and anyone who thinks Russia will completely ban Bitcoin doesn’t know Russia enough. In the end, Russia may decide to treat Bitcoin like Snowden: we didn’t want you here but since you’ve come, you can stay and do your thing. And of course, we don’t want you to harm the interests of “our American partners.”

‘Misunderestimating’ Russia

Misunderstanding, underestimating, and most often misinterpreting Russia remains a common mistake, as the following video humorously conveys:

Sadly, the case of “Kremlin economist” Vladislav Ginko won’t be the last time that mainstream media is badly wrong about Russia – or about Bitcoin.

Do you think Russia will invest in bitcoin, and if so, do you expect Moscow to officially admit it? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


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OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

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Binance Launches Euro and Pound Fiat-to-Crypto Platform in Jersey

European and British investors looking for a gateway to covert their fiat into cryptocurrency have just gotten another venue to trade on. Popular digital exchange Binance has launched a euro and pound fiat-to-crypto trading platform in the British Crown dependency of Jersey.

Also Read: The Daily: New Platform to Offer Tokenized Securities, Ledgerx Launches Volatility Index

Bridging the Crypto-Fiat Channel

Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced on Jan. 16 the official launch of Binance Jersey (Binance.je), a fiat-to-cryptocurrency platform for trading the euro (EUR) and British pound (GBP) with cryptos in Europe and the U.K. Trading pairs for the new exchange include BTC/GBP, ETH/GBP, BTC/EUR and ETH/EUR. Users will have to pass account verification procedures (KYC) to trade on the new GBP and EUR fiat exchange.

“Expanding the cryptocurrency exchange markets with fiat currencies in the European region is opening new economic opportunities for Europeans as well as freedom from looming Brexit uncertainty where the pound and euro are also in concern,” said Wei Zhou, Binance CFO. “Through Binance Jersey, we want to help bridge the crypto-fiat channel for Europe and the U.K. as part of our global expansion to support broader cryptocurrency adoption.”

Binance Launches Euro and Pound Fiat-to-Crypto Platform in Jersey

The Other European Crypto Hub

Similarly to Malta, Jersey has taken advantage of the slow pace larger European countries are taking to regulate the market, and established itself as an offshore hub for cryptocurrency ventures as well as ICOs. For this reason, Binance believes that Jersey will be a major driving force for increasing cryptocurrency use in the European market.

In June 2018, the exchange developed a partnership with Digital Jersey to collaborate on initiatives supporting the growing ecosystem in Jersey. Binance Jersey is also part of a cooperative effort to promote growth on the island, such as developing local banking relationships and local talent.

“Jersey has in place an existing legal and regulatory framework for cryptocurrency into which Binance Jersey easily fits,” said Zhou. “Jersey is an undisputed pioneer in blockchain development leveraged by this strong framework and talent pool. Binance Jersey hopes to increase Jersey’s competitive advantage in banking from other jurisdictions competing for cryptocurrency-related business as the island’s cryptocurrency regulation allows.”

What do you think about this new fiat-to-crypto offering? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Chatter Report: Pacia Shows Avalanche Regtest Data, Powell Advocates Hardware Wallets

Pacia Showcases Avalanche Regtest Data, Powell and Zhao Express Different Opinions on Crypto Safety

In today’s chatter report, Chris Pacia reveals his BCH transaction using Avalanche on regtest finalized in just 185.822377 milliseconds. Also, Changpeng Zhao advocates storing crypto on reputable exchanges while Jesse Powell advises his followers to store crypto on hardware wallets. Lastly, Eric Wall proposes targeting children to spread crypto adoption. 

Also Read: Jason Cox Extends Open Invitation for Assistance With Development and Review of Bitcoin Cash Code

Avalanche Regtest Results

Recently, Openbazaar developer Chris Pacia was testing the pre-consensus implementation Avalanche on regtest. Pacia was optimistic when sharing his results, as his transaction finalized in just 185.822377 milliseconds.

Chris Pacia: 2019-01-14 18:20:01.776 [INF] AVAL: Starting avalanche for tx 46db02b656673509670b5a952215015bebd4a97155022132d6cb206c046c6178 2019-01-14 18:20:01.963 [INF] AVAL: Avalanche finalized transaction 46db02b656673509670b5a952215015bebd4a97155022132d6cb206c046c6178 in 185.822377ms from btc

In an attempt to lower expectations, lead developer of Bitcoin ABC Amaury Séchet explained that he does not believe that transactions will confirm at the same speed on mainnet, because a round trip around the earth via the internet typically takes 500-600 milliseconds.

When asked by Reddit user “CatatonicAdenosine” if Pacia thinks the numbers will stay this low, Pacia said he doesn’t expect transactions to take more than one to two seconds to finalize. Pacia also stated that he plans to run pre-consensus mechanism Avalanche on mainnet in a few weeks and begin logging data.

CZ’s Advice on Safe Crypto Storage Causes a Stir

In response to Cryptopia exchange being hacked, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao proposed three different options for storing cryptocurrency safely. Many users were critical of Zhao’s proposal to store coins on “reputable” exchanges and raised eyebrows when Zhao criticized the practice of storing coins in noncustodial wallets.

Zhao’s comments were in contrast to those of Kraken exchange CEO Jesse Powell, who advised users to store only the coins they plan to actively trade with, and no more, on exchanges. Powell also advised storing crypto on a Ledger or Trezor hardware wallet instead of an exchange.

Other cryptocurrency community members like developer David Shares also echoed Powell’s advice, advising users to store crypto in a wallet where they control their own private keys.

Targeting Children For Crypto Adoption

Cinnober cryptocurrency lead Eric Wall recently took to Twitter to argue that children should be a target for spreading future crypto adoption. While many in the cryptocurrency space believe that the future of crypto adoption lies with people living in emerging markets, Wall believes the focus should be on children, as they are an unbanked group that are more likely to adopt the technology.

The 17-strong tweet-storm contains some compelling arguments on why children will integrate well with the crypto ecosystem. Wall believes that kids are more sophisticated when it comes to using social media apps because they explore the full functionality of them. They also are better at online marketing as they direct message all their friends instead of just uploading content like adults do. Also, kids today understand virtual goods and in-app purchases because of things like Fortnite V-bucks and WoW gold. Creating crypto-based apps that directly target children, Wall believes, will help to spread adoption and introduce the next generation to cryptocurrencies

What do you think of Eric Wall’s hypothesis? Let us know in the comments below.


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The Daily: New Platform to Offer Tokenized Securities, Ledgerx Launches Volatility Index

The Daily: New Platform to Offer Tokenized Securities, Ledgerx Launches Volatility Index

In today’s edition of The Daily, we cover a number of stories that are of importance to cryptocurrency traders. A new trading platform is set to offer tokenized securities, Ledgerx releases a volatility benchmark based on U.S. BTC options, and the police investigate an exchange that suffered a significant security breach.

Also Read: Bitwise Asset Management Files With SEC for New Bitcoin ETF

A New Tokenized Securities Trading Platform

The Daily: New Platform to Offer Tokenized Securities, Ledgerx Launches Volatility Index
Minsk, Belarus

Currency.com, a company licensed in Belarus, has announced the launch of a new trading platform for tokenized securities. Starting with over 150 instruments, the company plans to issue over 10,000 tokens which will track the underlying prices of equities, indices and commodities. The service is in invite-only mode right now, but prospective clients can apply to be added to a waiting list.

Users will be able to buy these tokens with cryptocurrencies, and will have the ability to trade them on margin. The tokenized securities platform will also be supplemented by a service for buying cryptocurrencies using fiat, storing them and making cross-crypto exchanges, as well as with a portfolio tracking app. Currency.com is said to be using the technology of Capital.com, its sister CFDs platform.

The platform is said to implement Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures and verify all transactions with blockchain intelligence services such as Coinfirm, Elliptic and Chainalysis. Ivan Gowan, the CEO of the company, commented, “We are excited to be launching this revolutionary blockchain venture and providing crypto investors with a concrete option to diversify their portfolio by investing in traditional asset classes, without the pressure of exchanging cryptocurrencies into fiat money to do so. Currency.com is committed to providing users with superior security and fraud protection, and preventing any potential risks by leveraging the full traceability of blockchain transactions and adhering to the strictest regulatory standards set by Belarus’s Decree No. 8 ‘On the Development of the Digital Economy’.”

Ledgerx Launches Benchmark Volatility Index

The Daily: New Platform to Offer Tokenized Securities, Ledgerx Launches Volatility Index
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX)

Ledgerx, the CFTC regulated digital currency clearinghouse and options exchange, has announced the launch of Ledgerx Volatility Index (LXVX) a volatility estimate for BTC based on live U.S. options trading. The company says that the LXVX is designed to incorporate the level of fear and uncertainty in the crypto market, and thus can be thought of as the “bitcoin fear index”, in the same way the VIX is commonly referred to as the stock market fear index.

“Having cleared half a billion in derivatives, we feel confident that the LXVX is the only credible indicator for future bitcoin volatility,” said Juthica Chou, the company’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. “The importance for a volatility estimate is a range of strikes and terms. Ledgerx has active options contracts from $2k to $50k in strikes, out to June 2020.”

“One of the fascinating things about volatility indices is that they’re of interest to a lot of participants, even if they don’t trade the options directly. For example, if you are a large holder of bitcoin or a risk manager, you’d be very interested in how much the market expects bitcoin to move over the next month. To finally have an estimate of volatility for bitcoin is another step in the maturation of the market,” she added.

NZ Police: We Didn’t Storm Cryptopia Exchange

The Daily: New Platform to Offer Tokenized Securities, Ledgerx Launches Volatility Index

Christchurch, New Zealand-based Cryptopia is the latest exchange to get hit by hackers. After initially claiming the service was only taken down for “unscheduled maintenance” on Monday, the company revealed yesterday that it has “suffered a security breach which resulted in significant losses.” The New Zealand authorities updated the public today, Wednesday Jan. 16, that they are working with Cryptopia to establish what exactly happened, which seems to counter the fears of some commenters that the company pulled a $3.6 million exit scam.

“Police are not yet in a position to say how much cryptocurrency is involved, other than it is a significant amount,” the investigative force stated.“A large team, including Canterbury CIB and specialist staff from the police High Tech Crime Unit, have been assigned to the case. There has been a visible police presence at the company’s Colombo Street headquarters throughout the day as police take the steps needed to progress the investigation. While police are unable to go into details about specific steps being taken at this stage, we can say that our focus includes commencing both a forensic digital investigation of the company and a physical scene examination at the building.”

“We are dealing with a complex situation and we are unable to put a timeframe on how long the investigation may take. We are also aware of speculation in the online community about what might have occurred. It is too early for us to draw any conclusions and Police will keep an open mind on all possibilities while we gather the information we need. A priority for police is to identify and, if possible, recover missing funds for Cryptopia customers; however there are likely to be many challenges to achieving this. We would also like to make clear that Cryptopia are cooperating fully with the investigation team and a media report that police ‘stormed’ the building today is entirely incorrect.”

What do you think about today’s news tidbits? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Review: HTC’s Exodus 1 Is an Impressive Phone With a Basic Crypto Wallet

HTC's Blockchain Smartphone Can Be Ordered With Bitcoin

After weeks of delays and hundreds of frustrated customer messages in its Telegram channel, HTC finally shipped its “blockchain phone” on Jan. 14. The HTC Exodus 1 promises an array of features for cryptocurrency users, but the manufacturer couldn’t keep its promise to ship the devices in December. With the phones finally rolled out, news.Bitcoin.com unboxed one of the semi-transparent devices and put it through its paces.

Also read: These Developers Claim They Can Crack Any Hardware Wallet

The Exodus 1 Is a Big Phone With Grand Aspirations

There’s no mistaking the Exodus 1 when it slips out of its protective wrapping and into the palm of your hand. Even if you’ve hands like baseball mitts, you’ll struggle to operate this phone with one paw. Thankfully it’s got a feature called Edge Sense 2 which enables one-handed convenience by shrinking the visible screen when you double tap on the side of the phone. At 157 x 74 x 9.7 mm, 188 grams, and $750, the Android O-powered Exodus 1 is a phone that’s as hard on the pocket as it is on the wallet. For that $750, however (or rather its BTC, LTC, or ETH equivalent), you’re getting a whole lot of smartphone.

Review: HTC's Exodus 1 Is an Impressive Phone With a Basic Crypto Wallet
Big phones come in big boxes

While this review will focus on the cryptocurrency elements of the phone, we’ll start with the basics. Given that you’ll be using the Exodus 1 as a smartphone a lot more than you’ll be using it to send or receive crypto, it’s imperative that you can abide what it has to offer when compared to flagship Android phones such as the Goggle Pixel 3 ($799) or the Samsung Galaxy S9 ($720). The Exodus 1’s features include:

  • 6.0” Quad HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio
  • 3500mAh battery
  • 12MP + 16MP main camera with high quality zoom
  • 8MP+8MP dual front camera with natural bokeh
  • 4k/60fps 3D audio recording quality
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
  • 6GB – DDR4x RAM
  • 128GB storage

The Exodus 1 has twice as much internal storage as the Galaxy S9, the same processor, and same resolution cameras. The Exodus 1’s battery is the same size as the larger S9+ and has the same 6GB of RAM, while both phones are of similar dimensions. Samsung’s S9 and S9+ are both 1.2mm slimmer than the HTC however. The Google Pixel 3 only has 4GB of RAM, a smaller battery and the same processor as the Exodus 1. The Pixel 3 does have some things in its favor though: its main camera, while lower resolution, is arguably better than the Exodus 1’s, it’s slimmer, at just 7.9mm, it has an eSIM, which some users may prefer, and runs a newer version of Android.

Review: HTC's Exodus 1 Is an Impressive Phone With a Basic Crypto Wallet
Unboxing the Exodus 1

With the Exodus 1, you’re getting a phone that can match Samsung and Google’s leading models pound for pound in most areas. Aside from being a little bulkier, there’s not much between the handsets performance-wise. The question, then, is whether the HTC’s exclusive feature – a built-in cryptocurrency hardware wallet, with the key stored in a secure enclave – justifies choosing the Exodus 1.

Take a Trip to Zion

Review: HTC's Exodus 1 Is an Impressive Phone With a Basic Crypto Wallet
Zion crypto wallet

Zion is the name of the wallet app that comes pre-loaded on the Exodus 1 and, while limited in functionality, it works just fine. It is beyond the scope of this reviewer to determine whether the “secure enclave,” separated from the rest of the phone’s operations, makes Zion more secure than the average crypto wallet app. “Theoretically” is the likeliest answer, though that’s probably a matter for the Wallet Fail team to resolve. The Zion wallet supports BTC, LTC, ETH, some ERC721 tokens, and ERC20s such as BAT, the latter the native token of the Brave browser, which also comes installed.

Sending and receiving cryptocurrencies is easy, and the UX is reasonable. The collectibles section of the wallet is less scintillating though; import a Cryptokittie and all you’ll get is a small thumbnail of the cat, with no ability to view it full-screen or read its “cattributes.” It’s all very meh. From a privacy perspective, the Zion wallet isn’t great either. There’s no ability to create new addresses, for instance, so you’re stuck with the same three wallets for BTC, LTC, and ETH unless you chose to create an entirely new 12-word seed and install a fresh wallet.

Review: HTC's Exodus 1 Is an Impressive Phone With a Basic Crypto Wallet
Crypto collectibles viewed in the Zion app

The social recovery option, enabling you to select trusted friends to help restore the wallet in the event of phone loss, is a welcome touch. While this presents an additional attack vector, it’s a trade-off cryptocurrency users may be willing to make in return for having access to crypto on the go. There are clear drawbacks to owning a blockchain phone of course. The very fact that you have one suggests you have crypto stored on it, which instantly makes you a target. If you’re lazy and have enabled fingerprint access to your wallet, a physical attacker or law enforcement could gain entry without too much trouble.

A Solid Phone That’s Likely to Get Better

iPhone owners are unlikely to swoon over the Exodus 1, but if you’re an Android user who’s due an upgrade, the mere act of switching to a new handset running a current OS and that’s fully equipped with the latest spec makes the Exodus 1 a pleasure to use. Features such as squeeze force, which will open the camera or shrink the screen when you grip or tap the side of the phone, are very nifty. Edge Sense will also ensure the phone doesn’t time out when held in your hand, and the rear fingerprint sensor is responsive and well positioned.

The biggest drawback to the Exodus 1 – the lackluster cryptocurrency wallet – could and likely will be improved through software updates. Even if advanced features were to be added, and the number of supported cryptocurrencies was to increase, however, you’re unlikely to hold much funds in the Zion wallet. Secure enclave or otherwise, it’s debatable whether the Exodus 1’s wallet is any more robust than the leading crypto wallet apps it’s competing against.  

Review: HTC's Exodus 1 Is an Impressive Phone With a Basic Crypto Wallet
The back of the Exodus 1 is fully transparent

While a little industrial in places, the Exodus 1 is a significantly slicker device than Sirin Labs’ “Finney” blockchain phone and can stake a claim for being the leading smartphone in what is still a very small vertical. Whatever the fate of the Exodus 1, it’s likely this won’t be the last time we see a hardware manufacturer targeting the crypto crowd. In fact, with Samsung’s trademark filings suggesting it’s thinking of following suit, blockchain phones could soon go from being niche to the norm.

What are your thoughts on the Exodus 1 phone? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Disclaimer: Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service.

Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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How Indian Cryptocurrency Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

How Indian Crypto Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

Banks in India have been closing the accounts of customers they believe have made transactions involving cryptocurrencies. The majority of crypto users in the country, however, have reportedly found a way to avoid their accounts being closed by their banks which are complying with the crypto banking ban imposed by the country’s central bank.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Avoiding Problems With Banks

Reports of banks in India closing customer accounts with cryptocurrency-related transactions have been on the rise. Banks cite compliance with the circular issued by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), that bans them from providing services to customers and businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies.

How Indian Cryptocurrency Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

A spokesperson for local cryptocurrency exchange Instashift told news.Bitcoin.com that banks have been closing the accounts of customers when they find any cryptocurrency-related words such as “bitcoin” in transaction remarks. He clarified that if a customer’s bank account “comes under scrutiny and the bank officers read the crypto keywords in remarks” then the bank account will be closed.

The CEO of crypto exchange Wazirx, Nischal Shetty, shared with news.Bitcoin.com on Tuesday that the:

Majority of the people understand not to enter such terms in the remarks. So simply avoiding entering anything related to crypto in the payment remarks is more than enough to avoid any problems from banks. There’s no other way for banks to know if a P2P transaction was done to transact in crypto.

Other Indian crypto users agree with this strategy. Twitter user Cryptomaniac advised, “Use P2P without writing anything related to crypto in remarks. And don’t do heavy transactions.” P2P is the exchange-escrowed peer-to-peer style of trading which has been growing in popularity since the RBI ban. Most crypto exchanges in India offer this type of trading. Another Twitter user, Vivekmacha, agreed and wrote that “If we use P2P they can’t track us,” emphasizing the importance of not writing any crypto-related terms such as bitcoin or BTC in remarks when making transactions.

The Instashift spokesperson explained that crypto users that have their bank accounts closed just “open a fresh account in another bank” and continue to trade without “using any crypto terms for transactions,” emphasizing:

It’s easy to open a new account for a person in India & banks also welcome people to open accounts.

He noted that “no matter how many accounts you open, all bank accounts get linked with your PAN card” which he said is similar to the social security number used in the U.S.

More Banks Closing Accounts of Crypto Users

Many banks in India have been closing customer accounts showing evidence of cryptocurrency transactions. Two major banks in the country — Kotak Mahindra Bank and Digibank — have recently gained more attention for doing so when Twitter user Indiancryptogirl posted letters she claimed to have received from them. Digibank is powered by DBS, a major Asian financial services group. “We have observed few transactions in your account with brokers / traders, dealing in virtual currencies,” the letter reads, adding:

Since these types of transactions are not permitted in India, we are constrained to place a credit freeze in your account. Further as per the extant guidelines, we are required to exit such relationships where transactions with brokers / traders, dealing in virtual currencies are observed.

A credit freeze, the bank explained, means that customers “will not be able to deposit any funds” into their accounts. The bank proceeded to inform that “Hence 30 days from the date of this communication your account will be closed by the bank.”

How Indian Cryptocurrency Users Avoid Banks Closing Their Accounts

Kotak Mahindra Bank and Digibank are not the only ones taking a hostile approach toward customer accounts showing crypto transactions. Twitter user Pushpendra Singh wrote, “So many Indian banks doing the same thing,” claiming that one of them is UCO Bank. Another Twitter user, Bluecrypto, said the “same happened with me and my HDFC account got closed.”

Another bank with a similar policy is Standard Chartered bank which requires customers opening an account in India to agree to this statement: “I confirm that this account will not be used for settling transactions or dealing in virtual currencies, including but not limited to bitcoins.”

However, Twitter user Yatharth Vashishth pointed out that banks are only following RBI’s order. “Kotak Bank is acting as per regulations by the RBI. All banks are instructed to shut accounts of all entities dealing in crypto. Not a big deal.”

What do you think of how Indian crypto users respond to banks closing their accounts? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Venezuelan President Raises Petro’s Value Again in Bid to Create ‘New System’

Venezuela President Raises Petro's Value Again in Move to Create 'New System'

For the second time in a little over a month, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has hiked up the value of the national cryptocurrency, the petro, this time to 36,000 sovereign bolivars. The move has again been met with criticism. 

Also read: Russia Not Ready for the Petro, Proposes Plan to Aid Venezuela Without It

‘A New Monetary System’

President Nicolas Maduro introduced a “new monetary system” on Jan. 14 which included another increase in the country’s cryptocurrency and a higher minimum wage in a bid to combat the “criminal dollar.” As the country continues to struggle with the world’s highest inflation – around 2 million percent – the leader of the South American nation said the move would protect the national bolivar.

“I want us to create a great alliance to produce and create new formulas of investment and financing,” Maduro told the Constituent Assembly in a video broadcast by local media. President Maduro said he would up the the minimum wage by 300 percent to 18,000 bolivars per month, around $6.70, and increase the value of the petro fourfold. His new monetary system will be based on the petro and he said he would stabilize the economy with his new measures.

Venezuelan President Raises Petro's Value Again in Bid to Create 'New System'

But this isn’t the first time President Maduro has made such pledges. In December he hiked up the price of the petro, with experts and civilians alike expressing their skepticism, while the minimum wage was raised a total of five times last year. There is still no sign of a crypto wallet for the petro, the links to download it don’t work, and the Venezuelan government still strives to sell the digital currency and issue certificates of purchase to buyers. Venezuelans, meanwhile, are still fleeing the country’s dire economic situation in the hundreds of thousands.

The Reaction

Previously, when Nicholas Maduro hiked up the value of the petro and increased the minimum wage, he was slammed. It was the same story on this occasion. Henkel Garcia, director of the Caracas consultancy Econometrica, wrote on Twitter: “The announcement will exacerbate both hyperinflation and economic downturn. The monetary restriction that continues, both for banking and for companies, is very dangerous.” He added: “They try and try to give the petro circulation. They ignore that the use of a coin is a voluntary act and in which confidence plays an essential role.”Venezuelan President Raises Petro's Value Again in Bid to Create 'New System'

Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Ecoanalitica, a Caracas-based economic research organization, told news.Bitcoin.com: “There is no intention to rectify the direction of the economy so it will continue on its deteriorating path in 2019.” Elsewhere, the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaido, said: “Today, Nicolas Maduro mocks the Venezuelan people, once again, after taking economic measures that only bleed more in the pocket of Venezuelans,” adding:

The Venezuelan economy does not improve with an increase of the salary.

Other Venezuelans told news.Bitcoin.com that they had little faith in the petro improving the economy. One law student, Rafael Gutierrez, 23, opined: “It’s not even worth speaking about it. The whole thing is a sham – and the economy is doomed.” Fabian Camacho, a 28-year-old software developer and systems engineer, added: “No one has and no one ever will have faith in the petro, nor Maduro’s economic knowledge.”

What do you think about President Maduro upping the value of the petro again? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock


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Cashshuffle Developer Says Privacy Project Nears Completion

Cashshuffle Developer Says Privacy Project Nears Completion

One of the Cashshuffle development team contributors, Josh Ellithorpe, revealed on Jan. 14 that the BCH-focused privacy shuffling protocol is near completion. The developers are planning to run a security audit on the code and have launched a fundraiser on the Bitbacker.io platform to help secure funding for the audit.

Also read: Crypto Luminary Impersonation Scammers on Social Media Raked in Millions in 2018

Cashshuffle Crowdfunds Security Audit on Bitbacker.io

Cashshuffle Developer Says Privacy Project Nears CompletionThe Cashshuffle protocol is an open source project being developed by the Electron Cash programmers and other well-known BCH developers. Cashshuffle is a client-server mixing application that allows servers to coordinate with users in order to shuffle bitcoin cash (BCH) UTXOs. After the coins are shuffled it is difficult for law enforcement and blockchain surveillance entities to track coin movements. News.Bitcoin.com has reported on the project’s roadmap on multiple occasions, and the project is nearing completion according to Cashshuffle contributor Josh Ellithorpe. A few hours ago, Ellithorpe launched a Bitbacker.io fundraiser to help raise BCH for the security check. So far there’s a slew of people who have donated $5-10 increments of BCH over the last 24 hours.  

“Getting ready for the Cashshuffle security audit from Kudelski Security — Can’t wait to finally release a mature privacy solution for BCH,” reads Ellithorpe’s fundraiser post.

The Cashshuffle concept was first announced back in 2017 and has seen steady development since then. Initially, there was the pre-release version launch and people experimenting with the plugin for the BCH wallet Electron Cash. “Privacy and fungibility go hand in hand and are vital for cryptocurrency — free people living in a free society should have a right to privacy without fearing the state peering into their personal finances,” Electron Cash developer Jonald Fyookball told news.Bitcoin.com at the time. Once the funds are raised, Ellithorpe believes Kudelski’s audit may take anywhere between three weeks to a month to finish.

Cashshuffle Developer Says Privacy Project Nears Completion
The free and open source protocol has its own website, Cashshuffle.com, which hosts the current plugin repository, the Cashshuffle server specification, and other documentation.   

Cashshuffle and Protocols Like It Will Increase Privacy

After the audit and a further code polish, the Cashshuffle protocol will likely become a default installation on the Electron Cash wallet, in contrast to the plugin available today, and it may see the light of day on mobile versions of the light client as well. The Cashshuffle team has been upfront about the project’s progress and development since the protocol’s plugin was launched. Last summer Ellithorpe and Fyookball detailed that Coinshuffle testing was going very well and they couldn’t wait to release it to the public.

Cashshuffle Developer Says Privacy Project Nears Completion
The Cashshuffle plugin.

At the time developers were working on solving a critical issue with cryptocurrency-centric tumbling and shuffling platforms — liquidity. Cashshuffle engineers designed a proof-of-concept automated liquidity bot that could provide shuffles if insufficient participants are online. The team had also discussed developing some kind of incentivization program similar to the join market protocol. Further, because the shuffle platform is open source, the Cashshuffle protocol can be implemented into other BCH light clients like the Bitcoin.com Wallet. Lots of Bitcoin Cash community members were thrilled to hear about the fungibility concept getting closer to being finished. A few BCH supporters also commented on Ellithorpe’s Bitbacker page.  

“Love fungibility features and building onchain — Thank you guys, keep up the great work,” the anonymous person wrote, while donating $5 in BCH to the security audit fundraiser.

What do you think about the Cashshuffle developers planning a security audit for the platform? Let us know what you think about this project in the comments section below.


Images credits: Shutterstock, Electron Cash, Cashshuffle website.


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French ATM Glitches and Bank Closures Reported After Scheduled Bank Run

The grassroots yellow vest movement in France has been participating in protests for weeks on end. Just recently, high profile yellow vest members have been promoting a “bank run” on financial institutions and automated teller machines in Paris. According to reports, the scheduled bank run began in phases, the first of which started on Jan. 12 and since then a few ATMs have been shut down due to “glitches” while some banking offices have allegedly closed shop temporarily.

Also Read: Embracing Utility in 2019: Unreliable Crypto Networks Will Lose to Hyperbitcoinization

Reports of ATM Glitches and Bank Closures Spread After Yellow Vest Movement’s Bank Run Begins

Over the last nine weeks, Gilets Jaunes, otherwise known as the yellow vest movement, have caused quite a stir in regions like Bordeaux and Paris, France. The political movement has been upset about high taxes, fraudulent banking practices, and a higher cost of living. Protesters specifically blame bureaucrats like the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the French banking system. A few high profile yellow vest leaders have been promoting a run on French banks and ATMs in order to show the opposition they mean business. A bank run occurs when a large number of customers of a bank withdraw their deposits simultaneously, which can easily threaten a bank’s solvency.

For instance, the bank run proposals have been called the “Tax Collectors’ Referendum” and French activists Tahz San and Maxime Nicolle, also known as “Fly Rider,” have been telling protestors in videos to withdraw their funds on Saturday. The activists say people should continue to “scare the banks” without any violent provocation. One of the videos has since been scrubbed from the Youtube platform.

A bank run occurs when a large number of customers of a bank withdraw their deposits simultaneously which can threaten a bank’s solvency.

“For Act IX, we will scare this state legally and without any violence and through the Référendum des percepteurs [Tax Collectors’ Referendum],” explained one of the yellow vest members on Youtube. “We all know that the power of a country is not in the hands of the government but in those of the banks — If the banks weaken, the state weakens immediately.” 

Maxime Nicolle added:

On Saturday, at 8 a.m. we will all vote by withdrawing our money.

A dismantled ATM in Bordeaux, France.

News.Bitcoin.com spoke with a correspondent residing in France, who wished to remain anonymous, who said the Gilets Jaunes have been pressing people to run on the banks. “They [yellow vest participants] said to scare the government and go to the ATMs and withdraw the most money as possible,” a person familiar with the matter told our newsdesk Tuesday. Interestingly enough on Saturday reports of ATMs having “glitches” and alleged “bank closures” were described by the journalist Gilbert du Motier. The reporter explained that the glitches were similar to the situation in Greece a few years ago when banks implemented withdrawal limits of 60 euros per person. According to the report, the French government is also planning to implement withdrawal restrictions as well as laws to make sure the protests end.

Photo of an out of service ATM in France after Saturday’s scheduled bank run phases.

While discussions of a massive bank run heat up, many Bitcoin proponents have been vocally supporting the run on these financial institutions and hope the money will funnel into the crypto economy. High profile cryptocurrency advocates like Max Keiser and many others have been telling their Twitter followers the French should buy bitcoin.

One thing for certain is that if thousands or millions of French activists simply removed their funds from their bank accounts then the “fractional reserve” banking scheme used in France would be exposed, along with many of its EU extensions. Bitcoin, on the other hand, cannot be stopped by a central banking system as financial executives and bureaucrats like Macron are powerless to limit withdrawals or produce systemwide technical glitches on account of the cryptocurrency’s decentralized design.

What do you think of the yellow vest movement’s proposed bank run phases? Do you think they should move funds into cryptocurrencies? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Lucas Barioulet, Gilbert du Motier, and Pixabay. 


At Bitcoin.com there’s a bunch of free helpful services. For instance, have you seen our Tools page? You can even lookup the exchange rate for a transaction in the past. Or calculate the value of your current holdings. Or create a paper wallet. And much more.

The post French ATM Glitches and Bank Closures Reported After Scheduled Bank Run appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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