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Warning Signs About Another Giant Bitcoin Exchange

Phil Potter is the chief strategy officer of Bitfinex, an unregulated virtual currency exchange. Its size and impact worry even advocates of virtual currencies.CreditChristopher Goodney/Bloomberg

Warning Signs About Another Giant Bitcoin Exchange

SAN FRANCISCO — As the price of Bitcoin has soared, the virtual currency has edged toward the mainstream.

Square, the fast-growing payments company run by the Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has begun selling Bitcoins to ordinary consumers, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange will soon allow banks to trade on the value of Bitcoin.

But if you want to see where the price of Bitcoin is actually determined in round-the-clock bidding, you have to go to a number of unregulated exchanges that often fly in the face of American and European laws.

These days, no exchange is bigger than Bitfinex, an opaque operation that provides no information on its website about where it is or who operates the company.

Bitfinex, which is officially incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, has been fined by regulators in the United States and cut off by American banks, and it has lost millions of dollars of customer money in two separate hackings, leading critics to question whether it even has the money it claims to hold.

In the latest blow, on Tuesday, an alternative virtual currency that is owned and operated by the same people as Bitfinex, known as Tether, announced that it had been hacked and lost around $30 million worth of digital tokens.

None of that has been enough to stop customers from pumping billions of dollars worth of virtual currency trades through Bitfinex in recent weeks — on some days, the exchange claimed to be doing more trades, by dollar value, than some stock exchanges in the United States.

Even many people who believe in virtual currencies worry that the mixture of loose controls and booming trading at the world’s largest exchange is likely to cause trouble for all the investors piling into virtual currencies, even those who don’t go near Bitfinex.

22BITFINEX-2-jumbo
On some days, Bitfinex claims to carry more transactions, in dollar volume, than major stock exchanges.Credit

 

“I’m worried about the systemic risk that this centralized company poses, and I’m worried that if they go down, they will take down the space with them,” said Emin Gün Sirer, a computer science professor at Cornell University, who has a track record of successfully predicting problems in the growing virtual currency industry.

The chief executive of Bitfinex and Tether, Jan Ludovicus van der Velde, said in an email on Tuesday that “the financial position of the company has never been stronger.”

Concerns over virtual currency exchanges are nothing new. The first and largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, collapsed in 2014 after losing $500 million of customer money to hackers.

This year, law enforcement took down another large Bitcoin exchange, BTC-E, which was accused of being a way station for many of the Bitcoin flowing through online black markets and ransomware attacks.

Regulators in the United States and a few other countries have tried to tame the business, and the largest exchanges in the United States and Japan are now under official oversight.

Those regulated exchanges, though, are dwarfed by unregulated ones like Bitfinex and several that have popped up in South Korea, where regulators have been slow to act.

The liquid nature of the Bitcoin markets, flowing around national borders and laws, is a product of the virtual currency’s unusual structure. Bitcoin is stored and moved through a decentralized network of computers that are not under the control of any single company or government.

 

Author: Nathaniel Popper Nov. 21, 2017

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

3 Reasons the Bitcoin Price Hit $8,000 Today

3 Reasons the Bitcoin Price Hit $8,000 Today

3 Reasons the Bitcoin Price Hit $8,000 Today

The bitcoin price touched the $8,000 mark on Friday morning (or Thursday night, depending on your time zone), enabling the flagship cryptocurrency to check another milestone off its to-do list before it reaches five-figure territory.
 

Bitcoin Price Touches $8,000

Just days prior, the bitcoin price had been trading below $6,000, but a mid-week rally raised bitcoin back to its pre-dip level and ultimately vaulted it to a new all-time high of $8,040 on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex.


BTC Price Chart | Source: BitcoinWisdom

At present, the bitcoin price is trading at a global average of $7,741, which translates into a $129.2 billion market cap.

 

3 Factors Behind Bitcoin’s Rally

While a multitude of factors contribute to the movement of the bitcoin price, three stand out as primary drivers of the present rally:
 

1. Wall Street’s Anticipated Entry Into the Markets

Ever since regulated U.S. derivatives exchange operator CME announced it would add bitcoin futures contracts to its product offering, analysts have been counting down the days until Wall Street makes its first major entry into the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Anecdotal evidence indicates that prominent institutional investors are eying the markets with interest — enough interest that Coinbase is launching a cryptocurrency custodial service specifically targeted at institutional investors with more than $10 million in crypto assets.

Related to this is the fact that Wall Street investors are increasingly bullish on publicly-traded companies that enter the bitcoin or blockchain space. Payment processor Square, for instance, received a significant bump to its share price after it rolled out a bitcoin pilot program to a limited number of users of its Square Cash app.

square-cash-bitcoin-price-nov17

2. Successful Lightning-Based Atomic Swap

Though less likely to make its way into the mainstream press, another factor influencing bitcoin’s rally is the successful completion of the first off-chain atomic swap. Accomplished using lightning network technology, developers at Lightning Labs traded testnet bitcoin for testnet litecoin trustlessly and without leaving a record of the transaction in either blockchain. Once the lightning network reaches mainnet implementation, this feature will enable the creation of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges.

 

3. SegWit2x

Finally, some analysts believe that the bitcoin price received a small bump due to the fact that a minority percentage of miners continued to signal for SegWit2x even though the fork’s most prominent advocates had called for its cancellation. Spencer Bogart, head of research at Blockchain Capital, had told Bloomberg Quint that he believed “some capital is rotating out of other crypto-assets and into bitcoin to make sure they receive coins on both sides of the fork” in the event that it did execute as planned. However, the fork did not occur — or at least has not yet — and fork-compatible nodes remain stuck at block 494782.

 

Author: Josiah Wilmoth on 17/11/2017

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Breaks Through $8,000 Following Massive Head Fake

Bitcoin Breaks Through $8,000 Following Massive Head Fake

Bitcoin Breaks Through $8,000 Following Massive Head Fake

Bitcoin just surmounted the $8,000 level, topping out at $8,020 on Bitfinex before retreating to $7,900 at press time. By now, reading about Bitcoin’s breach of its previous high might be getting repetitious, so strong has the currency’s bull run been. This time is an exception, though, because Bitcoin just pulled the mother of all head fakes.

Looking back

About a week ago, the SegWit2x hard fork was cancelled and the price immediately spiked from $7,200 to $7,800. But within the hour, the price had dropped and continued to fall further. Just a few days later, Bitcoin had sunk to a local low of $5,500, while rival Bitcoin Cash shot up from $600 to $2,600. At the time, a large number of Bitcoin miners had moved to Bitcoin Cash and the number of unconfirmed transactions soared to over 135,000. Fees increased commensurately.

Things didn’t look good. Bitcoin had just officially eschewed the only near-term solution to the scalability crisis. SegWit, which was adopted back in August, will take time to gain traction as wallet providers must include the feature and users must voluntarily begin using it. Lightning Network, Bitcoin’s long-term scaling plan, is still in testing and not ready for primetime yet. With the cancellation of 2MB blocks, it became obvious that there would be no quick fix to the currency’s scaling problem.
 

Waves of good news

However, Bitcoin Cash began rapidly dropping from its nearly vertical price ascent, miners came back to Bitcoin, and the transaction backlog subsided. Bitcoin’s price began to rise, and as good news arrived, the price moves became even larger.

What good news? Well, the British hedge fund Man Group, with over $100 bln in funds under management, announced they will begin trading Bitcoin once CME’s futures market is launched. Immediately following this, Payments app Square announced its full integration of Bitcoin into the payments platform. The company stated:

“We’re always listening to our customers and we’ve found that they are interested in using the Cash App to buy Bitcoin. We're exploring how Square can make this experience faster and easier, and have rolled out this feature to a small number of Cash App customers. We believe cryptocurrency can greatly impact the ability of individuals to participate in the global financial system and we're excited to learn more here.”

Square’s market capitalization swelled from $15 bln to $16 bln following the announcement, so Wall Street is apparently just as pleased as the Bitcoin community.

 

Coinbase Custody

Adding to the good news, Coinbase today announced Coinbase Custody, a Bitcoin storage service intended for hedge funds that might want to invest in the digital currency. Coinbase’s announcement states:

“Over 100 hedge funds have been created in the past year exclusively to trade digital currency. An even greater number of traditional institutional investors are starting to look at trading digital assets (including family offices, sovereign wealth funds, traditional hedge funds, and more). By some estimates there is $10B of institutional money waiting on the sidelines to invest in digital currency today. When we speak with these institutions, they tell us that the number one thing preventing them from getting started is the existence of a digital asset custodian that they can trust to store client funds securely.”

The announcement continues, describing the benefits of the service:

We are designing Coinbase Custody to meet the needs of institutional clients. In particular, we feel that institutional clients require:

  • Strict financial controls (multiple signers, audit trails, limits, etc)

  • Dedicated account representatives and phone support

  • SLAs on funds transfers

  • A regulated digital currency custodian

  • Multi-user accounts with separate permissions

  • Support for a wide range of digital assets and currencies

  • Insurance (in some cases)

  • And high levels of cyber and physical security

  • The new service is expected to launch in 2018.

Expect sharp moves

Bitcoin’s technical analysts, who look at chart patterns to try and predict price moves, suggest that the currency is about to experience a significant price move. Because of its rapid climb, analysis would seem to indicate that the price should experience a pullback here to regroup and consolidate before pushing higher. However, around $8,000 is the top of the trading channel that Bitcoin has been in for months, and if the price can resoundingly break through this barrier, it could go parabolic.
 

In a sense, Bitcoin’s value is even higher than it would appear, at least for those who owned Bitcoin before the August 1 fork and who held the resulting Bitcoin Cash they received. User csasker on the /r/BitcoinMarkets subreddit wrote:
 

BTG + BCH + BTC now over 9000! :D:DDD

 

Author: David Dinkins

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member