Maitland/AMO Cryptocurrency Monitor – 13 February 2020
The Big Read
The Financial Times reports that DAG Global, a London-based start-up established in 2018, is applying to become the country’s first bank for cryptocurrency businesses, in what will be a test of regulators’ openness to the digital assets. The article notes that companies that handle cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and those that provide services to them have struggled to maintain relationships with mainstream banks because of their perceived links to money laundering and other forms of criminal activity.
Coronavirus has already had a significant impact on the global and particularly Chinese economy, however the country’s cryptocurrency ambitions have also taken a hit as a result of the virus, largely as a result of a reduction of citizens going out and spending their money. CoinDesk reports that the crisis happened just as China began its national experiment into a digital currency system with testing in Suzhou and Shenzhen, with this now under threat following recent updates.
Bitcoin on 9 February briefly hit $10,000, capping a momentous first month of 2020 to reach its highest level since October last year. Currently, the overall cryptocurrency market cap now stands at $283.9 billion, with Bitcoin’s dominance rate at 63.5%.
New Kid on the Block – The Technologies, Funds and ICOs you should know about
Cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX has created a new, specialized futures contract for traders to bet on President Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020. Named TRUMP-2020, FTX announced that the contract expires to $1 if Donald Trump wins the 2020 US presidential general election, and $0 if otherwise.
Blockstack is giving its long-term holders a new way to earn bitcoin. CoinDesk writes that the decentralized-web start-up is rolling out a consensus mechanism that essentially presents a fresh use case for the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.
Scams, Sanctions and Suspicious Activity
The Wall Street Journal reports that Ponzi schemes are the latest form of bitcoin fraud, with big platforms like one called PlusToken, a platform that traded bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, drawing the most money. The article explains that in June 2019 Chinese authorities concluded PlusToken was a scam and arrested six Chinese citizens allegedly running the platform out of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. According to Chainalysis, Ponzi schemes and other frauds involving bitcoin and cryptocurrencies lured at least $4.3bn from investors in 2019.
Italian exchange Altsbit announced it had become the target of a devastating hack last week on Twitter. According to the exchange, criminals made off with 1,066 Komodo tokens and 283,375 Verus “coins” with a combined value of $27,000. The publication notes that funds kept in cold storage—crypto coins whose private keys are stored on devices that exist in an offline environment—were not stolen in the attack.
A new court filing reveals that the self-proclaimed Michael Jordan of crypto trading has been charged with scamming over 100 investors out of $7.5m. NewsBTC writes that the investors include former professional MLB players, raising the stakes and bringing additional public attention to the case.
Bulls & Bears of the week
“Promises made about tokens increasing in value are nothing more than expressions of the hope that a network will succeed and be used by lots of people” – Hester Peirce, SEC
“It’s a lack of understanding and reputation risk that has kept others away — we think it can be a cleaner sector [than mainstream finance]” - Sean Kiernan, CEO at DAG Global