Bitcoin, the Dark Knight, is losing the race against itself. Just six weeks after Bitcoin hit a record high of $19,511 in December last year, it tumbled to around $6K in February 2018. Amid the cryptocurrency slowdown, as many as 800 cryptocurrencies/tokens have gone down to be worth next to nothing.
Is ‘the Bitcoin bubble’, which Nobel laureate (Economics) Robert Shiller recently termed a perfect example of “faddish human behaviour”, finally bursting?
While the US and EU agencies busted some of the biggest dark web and LSD rackets trading in cryptocurrencies, the US House of Commons has enacted a bill to help prevent their illicit use.
For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, such developments are now part of their everyday lives. A dark web vendor who claimed to have traded Bitcoins in bulk back in 2017, had told Inc42, “Our group left the dark web last year because we knew it was coming. Bitcoin gonna lose its charm!”
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On the US agencies seizing cryptocurrencies from dark web vendors, he said, “This happens if you merge both the worlds together, which many of them did by messaging and advertising through Telegram and WhatsApp groups. Earlier, we didn’t need that.”
On the current scenario, he said, “We didn’t lose a Bitcoin to gain a Bitcoin. It’s happening now. The advertisement is costlier than the gain. Precisely the reason I left.”
Meanwhile, in some good news for crypto enthusiasts, Facebook has reversed its ban on cryptocurrency ads, providing a huge relief to cryptocurrency companies.
Here’s a look at this week’s development in the world of Bitcoin:
Facebook Revamps Policy, Reverses Ban On Cryptocurrency Ads With Immediate Effect
Facebook has announced the reversal of its ban on cryptocurrency ads with immediate effect. The social media giant has decided to allow ads and related content on cryptocurrencies from “pre-approved advisors”. However, ads promoting binary options and initial coin offerings (ICOs) are still banned.
Facebook acknowledged that the revamped policy would still disallow some cryptocurrency advertisers from being able to promote their businesses on the social network, but added that its policy in this area continues to be work in progress. “We’ll listen to feedback, look at how well this policy works, and continue to study this technology so that, if necessary, we can revise it over time,” said Rob Leathern, product management director, in Facebook’s announcement.
In the name of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, many Ponzi schemes were running their ads on Google, Facebook, and other platforms.
Stating that misleading ads have no place on Facebook, the social media giant had banned all ads that promoted cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and ICOs, in January. The decision was aimed at preventing people from advertising “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”
The company had admitted then that banning all cryptocurrency advertisements was a big change and that its new policy would improve the integrity and security of ads, making it harder for scammers to profit from Facebook ads.
Indian Cryptocurrency Exchange WazirX Introduces P2P Crypto Transfers
Mumbai-based cryptocurrency exchange WazirX has launched a P2P crypto transfer solution to enable crypto enthusiasts to continue buying and selling cryptocurrencies.
The Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transfer will allow users to buy and sell crypto directly with each other for the Indian rupee. WazirX will act as an intermediary here, connecting buyers and sellers on the platform.
How it works: The seller deposits the cryptocurrency with WazirX, which the latter escrows for safekeeping during the transaction. At the other end, the buyer pays Indian rupees to the seller. As soon as the seller confirms receipt of the payment, WazirX releases the crypto to the buyer.
Nischal Shetty, co-founder and CEO of WazirX, said, “We will be at the centre of these (P2P) transactions, ensuring completely secured and hassle-free transfer of funds and cryptos to voluntary buyers and sellers.”
He added that while the P2P crypto transfer feature allows users to build digital assets, WazirX is also hopeful that the authorities will acknowledge the impact crypto has on global economies and will work closely with private players like them to regulate this space instead of simply banning cryptocurrency.
Belfrics Group Resumes Cryptocurrency Exchange Operations In India
Despite the RBI’s circular banning banks, payments companies, and NBFCs from dealing with cryptocurrency entities and the matter being under subjudice, dozens of crypto companies are about to launch their operations in India. Now, Malaysia-based cryptocurrency company Belfrics Group has resumed its trading operations in India.
The company had stopped its exchange operations in India in the early January this year after banks stopped providing payments solutions.
After resuming its services, Belfrics India will initially offer trading in four coins — Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, and Litecoin. The group plans to launch 20 more coins in the next six months.
Emphasising India’s importance for Belfrics, Jabeer KM, Group COO, said, “India is a key market for us when it comes to crypto trading. With the launch of these new coins, we are targeting a base of at least 2,50,000 new traders on our platform by December 2018.”
Cryptomining Malware On The Rise: 3 Mn Cryptojacking Hits Detected In 2018
Pune-based IT security solutions provider Quick Heal revealed that it has detected more than 3 Mn cryptojacking hits between January and May 2018.
In contrast to ransomware, cryptojacking attacks are mostly undetected, enabling attackers to use the compromised systems to mine cryptocurrencies for as long as they want.
In India, while no hackers have been arrested so far in this regard, Japanese prosecutors recently arrested 16 individuals suspected of cryptojacking. As per reports, the arrested suspects were allegedly running their own websites to spread the crypto mining malware, including the Coinhive program, that mines Monero.
Do Women Invest More Than Men In Cryptocurrency?
Indian cryptocurrency exchange BuyUCoin has claimed in a survey that the average size of cryptocurrency investments made by women — $2045 (INR 1,40,000) — is higher than that made by men — $1022 (INR 70,000).
However, the ratio of females to males investing in cryptocurrencies is quite low. The data revealed that New Delhi/NCR tops the list among other cities in terms of the highest number of active cryptocurrency users in India. New Delhi/NCR accounted for 22.03% of India’s total users, of which 91.2% were male and 8.8% female. Mumbai is in the second position, accounting for 14.42% of the total active users, 93.4% of them male and 6.6% female.
Bengaluru grabs the third position, standing at 13.91% active users, of which 93.2% were male and 6.8% female. Hyderabad and Pune registered 9.06% and 8.09% active cryptocurrency users respectively. The percentage of males and females currently trading in cryptocurrencies in India is 93.28% and 6.72% respectively.
Koinex Launches Loop, A P2P Token Transaction Network
Another Indian exchange Koinex, has announced the launch of its new product, Loop, a peer-to-peer (P2P) token transaction network, which will be available from July.
Koinex Loop enables users to transact with other KYC-verified peers on the platform, make and receive payments directly from peers, and helps them strategise their trading activity better. Users will be able to trade in crypto/crypto trading markets on the exchange as the next step of their transactions on the P2P network.
Speaking on this strategic move, Rahul Raj, co-Founder and CEO, Koinex, said, “Digital assets hold immense value (both economically and technologically) but unfavourable regulations pose a threat to the investments made into digital assets. Loop is a whole-hearted effort to ensure that the legit and verified investments made by Indian investors’ don’t turn into dead assets.”
US Agencies Seize Cryptocurrencies From Dark Web Vendors Valued At $23 Mn
The Department of Justice, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the US Secret Service (USSS), the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have announced the results of the first year-long, coordinated national operation that used undercover action to target vendors of illicit goods on the Darknet.
Special agents of the HSI New York Field Division, in coordination with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, posed as money launderers on Darknet market sites, exchanging US dollars for virtual currency. Through this operation, HSI New York was able to identify numerous vendors of illicit goods, leading to the opening of more than 90 active cases around the country.
The operation saw:
- Federal arrests of more than 35 Darknet vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods
- Execution of 70 search warrants, resulting in the seizure of massive amounts of illegal narcotics, including 333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, over 100,000 tramadol pills, 100 grams of fentanyl, more than 24 kilograms of Xanax, and additional seizures of Oxycodone, MDMA, cocaine, LSD, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms growing at a residence
- Seizure of more than 100 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, and a grenade launcher
- Seizure of five vehicles that were purchased with illicit proceeds and/or used to facilitate criminal activity
- Seizure of more than $3.6 Mn in US currency and gold bars
- Seizure of nearly 2,000 Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, with an approximate value of more than $20 Mn
- Confiscation of 15 pill presses, which are used to create illegal synthetic opioids
- Seizure of Bitcoin mining devices, computer equipment, and vacuum sealers
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein said, “We can expose their networks, and we are determined to bring them to justice. Today, we arrested more than 35 alleged Darknet vendors. We seized their weapons, their drugs, and $23.6 Mn of their ill-gotten gains.”
LSD Racket Trading In Cryptocurrency Busted In Europe
The Spanish Guardia Civil and the Austrian Federal Police, supported by Europol, have busted a criminal network producing and distributing synthetic drugs worldwide, known as new psychoactive substances (NPS), on the Dark Web.
The criminal group was also involved in money laundering their share of profits by selling cryptocurrencies, mainly Bitcoins. More than $ 5.3 Mn (EUR 4 500 000) in Bitcoins, IOTA, and lumen were seized by law enforcement authorities.
Over 100 different types of NPS were seized in two laboratories in the provinces of Granada and Valencia in Spain, whose market value would exceed $ 14 Mn (EUR 12 Mn). Nearly 800,000 doses of LSD were confiscated, marking it the biggest-ever haul of this type of substance and derivatives in the European Union (EU). Europol supported the action day with two mobile offices in Spain and Austria. Analytical support was provided during the entire operation.
At at a time when there are chances that India might regulate cryptocurrencies instead of banning them, are things getting tougher for Bitcoin traders?
“Trading in Bitcoin, or HODLing it, has always been tough. We are like the subway surfers where Jack continues to run away from the grumpy inspector and his dog, while collecting, trading all the cryptocurrencies on the way!” said the dark web vendor.
Update: This article was updated at 1.15pm on July 3, 2018, after being edited for grammar and language inconsistencies.