What the Holy Land Reveals About Bitcoin

Israel’s political backdrop gave attendees of Tel Aviv Blockchain Week an opportunity to ponder the duality of the bitcoin movement. LINK @La__Cuen reports
Source: coindesk
What the Holy Land Reveals About Bitcoin

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SEC Chair, Commissioners to Talk Crypto at Congress Hearing Next Week

The House Financial Services Committee will question SEC commissioners crypto regulations and Facebook’s Libra next week.
Source: coindesk
SEC Chair, Commissioners to Talk Crypto at Congress Hearing Next Week

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Stephan Livera Podcast: Interview with Jeremy Welch & Jameson Lopp '" Casa Wealth Security Protocol

Jeremy Welch (CEO Casa) and Jameson Lopp (CTO Casa) rejoin me in this episode to talk Casa Wealth Security Protocol and Casa Keymaster. We talk various points related to securing your Bitcoin:

  • Design Principles and Decisions
  • Key risks
  • Casa Keymaster and Basic Multi Sig set up
  • Multi sig, multi location, multi device
  • Going seedless
  • Privacy
  • Roadmap

Casa, Jeremy and Jameson links:

SLP Bitcoin Custody Series

Sponsor links:

Stephan Livera Podcast links:

Email contact: [email protected]

Source: letstalkbitcoin
Stephan Livera Podcast: Interview with Jeremy Welch & Jameson Lopp ‘” Casa Wealth Security Protocol

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VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet

VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet

The U.S. Congress is considering more than 20 bills on cryptocurrency. One deserves special attention: S.1025, the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development Act (VERDAD). “Verdad” is Spanish for “truth.” If VERDAD passes, it will be the first time a specific crypto has been deemed illegal for Americans at home or abroad to use.

Also read: North Korea Plans to Launch Cryptocurrency to Bypass Economic Sanctions

The Truth Verdad

The Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development Act seeks to ban U.S. nationals and organizations from holding, trading, buying, and spending the state-issued Venezuelan crypto the Petro, which is backed by reserves of oil, gasoline, and diamonds—at least, in theory. The Petro was created in 2018 by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s regime as a way to circumvent U.S. sanctions and to international financing.

If VERDAD passes, it will be the first time a specific type of crypto has been outlawed by the U.S. Jason Brett, founder of Value Technology Foundation, a research company devoted to blockchain law, explains: “The implications for this are huge because it could be bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency inserted into this language, we’re talking about a road map for how to ban a particular cryptocurrency.” The Act would set a precedent for the banning of any other crypto in the future.

VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet

A Bad Bill Dressed as a Good Deed

The potential impact on crypto usage receives little attention compared to VERDAD’s other goals, which are expressed in lofty philanthropic terms. The act expands humanitarian aid to Venezuela by $400 million, for example, and calls for the restoration of human rights and democracy. Most articles on VERDAD do not even mention the Petro.

The closest they come: the Secretary of State will recover assets stolen from the people of Venezuela and its institutions by means of special financial investigations to track the assets taken through money laundering, theft, corruption, and other “illicit” means. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury are to consult with the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in order “to develop a methodology to assess how any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the Maduro regime is being utilized to circumvent or undermine United States sanctions.”

VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet

Title VII of VERDAD: “Cryptocurrency sanctions and ensuring the effectiveness of United States sanctions.” Note: the wording of S.1025 presented is as of June 3, 2019. If passed, the wording may vary somewhat.

Since the Petro has scant value as a currency, the construction of a monetary tracking system and authority could be one of the real goals of VERDAD. Once established, however, who would monitor the monitors and ensure they stay within the vague and sometimes unstated boundaries of VERDAD?

From Whence Did VERDAD Come?

On March 19, 2018, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13827: Executive Order on Taking Additional Steps to Address the Situation in Venezuela. It was signed one month after the Petro’s pre-sale launch and on the same day the pre-sale ended. A week later, the Petro was officially inaugurated.

VERDAD seeks to enact the order into law. What is the difference between the two? An executive order is a directive issued by a sitting President which determines the operations of the federal government; within this constraint, the directive has the power of law. But for it to apply outside of the federal government, it must be enacted into law.

Order 13827 states, in part:

I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America,… in light of recent actions taken by the Maduro regime to attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions by issuing a digital currency in a process that Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly has denounced as unlawful, hereby order as follows…[A]ny digital currency, digital coin, or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Venezuela on or after January 9, 2018, are prohibited…

Executive Orders are never the starting point of a political story, however; they are the result of one. Arguably, the starting point was the election of the socialist Hugo Chávez as President in 1999, which caused America to losE much of its influence in the region. The Venezuela-U.S. relationship became so tense that Chávez accused President George W. Bush of supporting a failed coup attempt against him in 2002. The accusation is unproven.

Fast forward to January 2019. The American-backed Juan Guaidó swears himself in as interim president of Venezuela even though Maduro—Chávez’s chosen successor—retains actual power. Trump immediately recognizes Guaidó and declares Maduro to be an illegitimate leader. Other nations follow Trump’s lead, but the attempted coup is badly bungled. Maduro retains power, although the situation is unstable.

VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet

A History of Sanctions and Bullying

The U.S. has a long history of imposing financial sanctions upon objectionable regimes in order to cut them off from foreign investment and reserves; money is used as a tool of foreign policy and vice versa. Sometimes the strategy aims at extracting concessions, as with the current tariff war with China. Sometimes it aims at regime change, as with Venezuela. When the economy of a targeted regime crumbles, the U.S. blames the disaster on the leaders and so lays the groundwork for a coup, police , or an economic takeover, often phrased in humanitarian terms.

Trump wants a U.S.-friendly regime in Venezuela, not only to access the nation’s vast oil resources but also because the current situation allows China and Russia to become entrenched in South America. Both nations are financial crutches for Maduro, without whom he could not retain power. In turn, China and Russia receive inexpensive access to Venezuelan resources, and they maintain their spheres of influence. Again, monetary policy is intimately connected with foreign policy goals. Analysis by the D.C.-based Atlantic Council illustrates this connection between Russia and Venezuela:

The success of Moscow’s policy in Venezuela rests on its military, economic, and financial clout…As of July 2019, Venezuela currently owes $10 billion for the purchase of 36 Russian Su-30MK2s fighter jets, $1.1 billion for Rosneft investment into Venezuelan oilfield development, and has received more than $4 billion of investment from Russia, to Russian Economic Development Ministry.

An added wrinkle: China wants its fiat, the yuan, to replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s default currency. This makes the competition for control of money and its movement more urgent. China is not alone in waging monetary war, and Venezuela uses the conflict to advantage. In September 2017, Reuters reported: “’Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar’, Maduro said in an hours-long address to a new legislative superbody. ‘If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro’.”

A March 26, 2018 article in Venezuela Analysis announced the official release of the Petro, which could be bought and spent anywhere in the world. The article declared: “The cryptocurrency can be purchased in Chinese yuan, Turkish lira, euros, Russian roubles, as well as in other cryptocurrencies, including bitcoins, ethereums, or litecoins. Money exchanges are to be opened in Venezuela and internationally.” It also reported Maduro’s final word on the U.S. dollar: “We won’t dollarize our economy, we are going to defend our Bolivar.”

Power politics underlies VERDAD. The May 22 Press Release by which the act moved from Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the full Senate states: “The legislation was amended to include three bills approved by the House of Representatives to expand U.S. humanitarian assistance in Venezuela (H.R. 854), prohibit U.S. exports of arm sales to the Maduro regime (H.R. 920), and counter Russia’s presence and influence in Venezuela (H.R.1477).” Nothing is more powerful in power politics than the control of money.

VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet

Whither VERDAD?

If VERDAD is an isolated attack on the Maduro regime, then it may have minimal consequences for cryptocurrency in general. But there are reasons to worry.

  • It would be the first ban on the use of a specific cryptocurrency by American individuals and organizations; currently, as long as taxes are paid and some regulations met, crypto transactions are legal.
  • Expanding the ban to other forms of crypto might be as easy as filling in a blank.
  • It would establish a new monetary-tracking authority and system to monitor the Petro. The system could be used to monitor the movement of other financial vehicles.
  • Within 180 days of establishing the system, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury must brief relevant congressional committees, thus raising Congressional oversight of crypto.
  • VERDAD would be a leap toward federalizing and centralizing policy on crypto.
  • The Act could be the leading edge to open the way for the approximately 20 other bills in Congress.

There are reasons to believe VERDAD will pass. Trump is not a fan of crypto, especially the unregulated type, and will do nothing but applaud a bill that embeds his executive order into law. Added to this, Congress has become more aggressive toward crypto. In the second week of September alone, Congress hosted three hearings related to cryptocurrency, largely due to concern over Facebook’s intentions to release Libra. So far, VERDAD appears to have bipartisan support; certainly, its prohibitions on the Petro are not likely to elicit debate.

But there are also reasons to believe VERDAD may not pass. For one thing, some observers expected it to be enacted already, but the bill is dragging. Moreover, the general bill may have overreached by including foreign policy goals that are too ambitious. The summary write up at Congress.gov states, for example:

The bill imposes sanctions on foreign persons responsible for or complicit in corruption or activity undermining Venezuela’s democratic institutions. Sanctions include barring entry into the United States and various financial restrictions. The bill also imposes various sanctions targeting the Maduro regime’s ability to finance debt, trade gold, and use cryptocurrencies to evade U.S. sanctions. The bill directs the President to prevent Russia’s government-controlled oil company Rosneft from acquiring control of critical U.S. energy infrastructure, including assets belonging to Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.

Perhaps this overreach is why Skopos Labs—the Automated Predictive Intelligence service used by the govtrack.us site—gives VERDAD a poor chance of passing. Even if defeated, however, Brett’s warning about Congress should be heeded: “there are 20 bills” by which crypto “could be impacted and could change in some way shape or form along the way. It’s very important that we watch them, almost like the weather map.”

Do you think VERDAD could lead to usage of other cryptocurrencies being criminalized in the U.S? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry.

The post VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Source: bitcoin.com
VERDAD is the Most Dangerous Crypto Bill to Face Congress Yet

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Trojan Virus Discovered That Steals Password Data from Crypto Wallets

crypto malware

Cybercriminals have launched a new malware conceived to steal data from crypto wallets. ThreatLabZ, a Zscaler team of security experts, has identified the malware as a RAT (Remote Trojan), which they named InnfiRAT.

Malware Continues to Rise

Malware using backdoors methods to gain unauthorized access to computers and other electronic appliances continue to pose a formidable threat. Malwarebytes Labs, a cybersecurity company, in its 2019 State of Malware report underscored that the two major malware categories included cryptominers and trojans. And the report predicted for 2019 the advent of new tricks and threats.

Now, Zscaler, another cyber security specialist team, has identified a new threat against the protection of privacy data. Written in the .NET programming language, InnfiRAT has been flagged as a new trojan virus designed to perform specific tasks such as stealing personal information from users’ crypto wallets. Zscaler researchers point out,

Among other things, InnfiRAT is written to look for cryptocurrency wallet information, such as Bitcoin and Litecoin. InnfiRAT also grabs browser cookies to steal stored usernames and passwords, as well as session data.

Moreover, innfiRAT uses its Screenshot functionality to extract information from open windows while checking other applications running on the targeted system. It even checks antivirus programs.

Then, to the researchers, the RAT transmits the stolen data to its command-and-control center and waits for further instructions. These instructions, for example, could direct the RAT to download additional information from the targeted computer.

Crypto Users Targeted Again

For members of the crypto community, cybersecurity threats involving backdoor methods are not new. For example, in October 2018, Thomas Reed, Director of Mac & Mobile, at Malwarebytes, reported the Mac cryptocurrency “ticker” app. once launched it infected two open-source broad-spectrum backdoors: EvilOSX and EggShell.

The aim of this malware has not been identified. Nevertheless, Reed believes, most likely, the malware was designed to steal digital coins from cryptocurrency wallets.

Cybercriminals spread most computer viruses via email attachments. Thus, Zscaler’s ThreatLabZ security team reiterates best practices for email attachments, “as always, refrain from downloading programs or opening attachments that aren’t from a trusted source.”

What do you think about the threats to crypto wallets posed by InffiRAT? Let us know in the comments!


Images via Shutterstock, Twitter @attcyber

The post Trojan Virus Discovered That Steals Password Data from Crypto Wallets appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: bitcoinist
Trojan Virus Discovered That Steals Password Data from Crypto Wallets

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The Tatiana Show Ep. 219 Rigel Walshe

On this episode of The Tatiana Show we talk with a speaker from the Baltic Honeybadger Bitcoin Conference, Rigel Walshe. Walshe went from working in government to finding a unique way to integrate his heavy metal music career with blockchain technology. He is a firm believer that “Bitcoin is a tool that is going to change the world,” and enlightens us on his focus of individual freedom.

Thanks to our sponsors Vaultoro and SALT Lending for supporting The Tatiana Show!

the Guests:

In 2016 Rigel Walshe took on a contract as the program manager and facilitator for the Be Your Own Boss Course- a government program that teaches beneficiaries the basics of running a small business and writing a business plan. Successful participants receive government funding to enter self employment and start their own business.

In 2018, four years after stumbling Bitcoin, Rigel decided to become a more participant in the industry. He ran Coinsure Ltd for a year and a half as a distributor for Trezor, Ledger and Coinkite products in New Zealand whilst upskilling as a software developer. In early 2019 he took on his first role as a contractor for Dasset, an Auckland based Cryptocurrency exchange that is part of the Techemy group. His focus is on programming applications that interface with the Bitcoin base layer, primarily in Python.

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Proof of Love

*You have been listening to the Tatiana Show. This show may contain adult content, language, and humor and is intended for mature audiences. If that’s not you, please stop listening. Nothing you hear on The Tatiana Show is intended as financial advice, legal advice, or really, anything other than entertainment. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Oh, and if you’re hearing to us on an affiliate network, the ideas and views expressed on this show, are not necessarily of the those of the network you are listening on, or of any sponsors or any affiliate products you may hear about on the show.

Source: letstalkbitcoin
The Tatiana Show Ep. 219 Rigel Walshe

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Explosive Mining Growth Indicates High Confidence in Bitcoin (BTC)

bitcoin mining

Bitcoin miners are not giving up, showing immense confidence and working against significant network difficulty. The last difficulty hike from September 13 made it 10.38% less likely for miners to discover a block. But in the meantime, mining pools have been compensated with even more power.

Competition Pushes Bitcoin Hashrate Skyward

It’s expected that another double-digit growth in difficulty will take place during the Bitcoin mining re-evaluation next week if  mining keeps up the current pace. Data reveals, however, that mining has grown exponentially, while difficulty growth tracks flatter.

to social media personality @Hodlonaut, a prominent Bitcoin supporter, the relentless race for more mining is a sign of confidence.

Miners are currently producing 1,800 new BTC each day, a number that will be slashed in half sometime in early 2020. The halving of the reward may even arrive earlier, as block times go down to less than 10 minutes, and possibly even lower than 9 minutes.

The growth in mining has led to a peak of 100 quintillion hashing operations – a unique growth for any industry. Given that mining started with computer CPUs and moved to multiple generations of specialized machines, it’s difficult to imagine what the future of Bitcoin mining will look like as we approach the final block.

Pool Balance of Power Shifts

Bitcoin is also the network with the highest daily transaction fees, or at least was until recently, when Ethereum took over due to network overload and rampant fee increase.

The competition between miners shows that a more diverse selection of pools are discovering the blocks of late. BTC.com still keeps the leading position, but Poolin, a newly arrived pool, has gained speed in the past months, challenging the primacy of BTC.com.

The growth in mining points to the launch of an estimated half a million mining rigs. Bitmain has pledged transparency on Antminer shipments, but it is still difficult to estimate the number of new mining facilities. There are reports that Bitmain is building a significant fleet of miners, in addition to supplying other pools.

Miners also point their machines to the Bitcoin Cash network, where mining has grown by roughly 30% since the beginning of September to 2.68 EH/s, about 40 times lower than that of Bitcoin. The hashrate for the other competitor, Bitcoin SV, remains largely unchanged, as the coin is mined only by a handful of staunch supporters.

Despite the price drop of BTC to below $10,000 on September 19, mining is still viable. Bitcoin mining retreated to 93 EH/s, still capable of breaking records.

What do you think about the record mining ? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images via Shutterstock

The post Explosive Mining Growth Indicates High Confidence in Bitcoin (BTC) appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: bitcoinist
Explosive Mining Growth Indicates High Confidence in Bitcoin (BTC)

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CME Bitcoin Futures Volumes Hit 4-Month Low, Should We Be Worried?

Bitcoin CME

The market for CME Bitcoin futures shrank to its lowest level in four months, with volumes 50% lower than peak activity in July. The futures market behavior was viewed as an indicator for weakening Bitcoin (BTC) performance.

Futures Potentially Sway Bitcoin Price Direction

The futures market posted the lowest volumes in four months, just as BTC broke down below $10,000 again, failing to perform another rally. BTC slid to $9,896.49 after a one-hour crash early on Thursday.

The futures markets may indicate both moods and potential attempts to sway the BTC market. The launch of the cash-settled futures was seen as potentially setting off the long slide in BTC prices in 2018.

Now, the low CME also coincides with the imminent launch of the Bakkt ICE futures market. This time, there are still questions on how the product will affect BTC spot prices. Bakkt will use a physical delivery settlement, instead of cash settlement.

Sentiment surrounding BTC prices are still showing the prevalent mood is “fear”. At this point, it is still unknown what type of investors would enter the futures markets, and how they would differ in sentiment and in comparison to spot market traders.

Traders are still finding unconclusive evidence that BTC prices are somehow swayed by the behavior of CME futures:

Bakkt Physical Futures Arrive in Days

It is uncertain if the new Bakkt futures would have a similar effect. In theory, traders could acquire physical BTC by acquiring a contract and holding onto it until after settlement. Then, they would be credited with actual BTC.

Despite the lowered volumes, the CME has increased the spot month position limits. As BTC remains unpredictable, it is possible that there is also suddenly increasing interest in trading. BTC gains usually follow a pattern of fast appreciation and long in-between periods of low activity or corrections.

The CME futures market also proved to be more in comparison to the CBOE product, which was discontinued just before the big summer rally which sent BTC to a yearly peak. BTC cash-settled futures remain a limited tool for investments, with markets closing upon events of higher volatility.

What do you think about Bitcoin futures? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images via Shutterstock, Twitter @DeezuIP @Cryptowelson @skew_markets

The post CME Bitcoin Futures Volumes Hit 4-Month Low, Should We Be Worried? appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: bitcoinist
CME Bitcoin Futures Volumes Hit 4-Month Low, Should We Be Worried?

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Crypto Isn’t Sound Money, Says Swiss Central Bank Official

Swiss crypto

Swiss central bank official Thomas Jordan says crypto isn’t sound money but stablecoins have the potential to see widespread adoption.

Crypto Won’t See Mainstream Adoption

Speaking during a recent event at the University of Basel, Jordan — chairman of the governing board of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), argued against the value proposition of crypto as currencies.

to Jordan:

Crypto tokens do not possess the characteristics of ‘good’ money, which is typically stable over time, is broadly accepted, and enables efficient payments. Given these parameters, it seems unlikely that crypto tokens will be widely used as money in Switzerland.

Jordan, however, highlighted the potential for stablecoins to see mainstream adoption. The Swiss central bank official stated that fiat-pegged stablecoins could become substitutes for traditional fiat currencies.

Bitcoin is already a substitute for fiat in countries like Turkey and Venezuela. When a country’s currency loses value and forex becomes difficult to obtain, people turn to bitcoin and crypto.

Transferring value via cryptocurrency is currently more efficient than with SWIFT wire transfers. Case in point, the several instances of hundred-million-dollar bitcoin transfers that occur in mere minutes for a few hundred dollars in fees.

All Stablecoins are Equal, but Some More So than Others

Jordan isn’t the first European banker to shill stablecoins over bitcoin. Back in May 2019, European Central Bank (ECB) policymaker, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, said stablecoins would ultimately beat bitcoin in the race for mainstream adoption.

However, this apparent love for stablecoins only exists within the framework of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Jordan made this distinction clear during his speech, saying:

It is essential that we are clear the economic function of stablecoins. Depending on how they are structured, stablecoins may have the characteristics of a bank deposit or a privately issued banknote. This would be the case for the Swiss franc stablecoin, were it to be used widely for cashless payments or as a store of value, as it would effectively become a substitute for Swiss franc bank deposits.

Libra Requires International Regulatory Cooperation

To this end, stablecoin projects like Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency will not easily obtain the all-clear in Europe. Commenting on the project, Jordan said regulators from the globe would need to work in consonance to adequately police its operations.

Authorities in Germany and France have recently come out to oppose the Libra cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, Swiss regulators say they are going to enforce strict anti-money laundering (AML) laws on the project.

Do you think stablecoins can become more dominant than bitcoin in terms of adoption? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

The post Crypto Isn’t Sound Money, Says Swiss Central Bank Official appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Source: bitcoinist
Crypto Isn’t Sound Money, Says Swiss Central Bank Official

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