Category Archive : Blockchain News

btc-record-in-sight,-eth-rallies,-uniswap-disaster:-hodler’s-digest,-nov.-16–21

BTC record in sight, ETH rallies, Uniswap disaster: Hodler’s Digest, Nov. 16–21

Coming every Sunday, Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

Ray Dalio might be wrong

Path to $20,000 Bitcoin price now wide open after previous resistance breaks

Is… is this happening?! After encountering resistance at $18,420 (a price that was unthinkable even a few days ago), Bitcoin surged to new highs of $18,817.

The latest boost put BTC within touching distance of $20,089 — the all-time high set back in December 2017.

“It’s killing it this year,” Fundstrat Global Advisors co-founder Tom Lee enthused. He added that 2021 could be a year of “fireworks” for the world’s biggest cryptocurrency.

A corporate frenzy has meant that companies now hold over $15 billion in BTC. But this surge isn’t just being driven by institutions. Data suggests that searches for Bitcoin in November 2020 now far outpace what was seen in December 2017.

FOMO is growing. Glassnode reported that there was a major spike in the number of new Bitcoin addresses on Nov. 18 — 25,000 an hour, to be exact. The co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital sold his Chevy to get his hands on more crypto. And the chief information officer of BlackRock says BTC is here to stay… and will eventually take gold’s place.

By all accounts, it looks like Bitcoin has arrived. It’s no wonder 73% of millionaires want to own digital assets before 2022.

Ether hits $500 for the first time since June 2018, outperforming Bitcoin YTD

It isn’t just Bitcoin that’s starting to return to historic highs.

ETH hit $500 for the first time since June 2018 on Friday, with other altcoins also slowly staging a comeback.

Reaching this psychologically important barrier delighted traders — not least because ETH has outperformed BTC so far this year.

While Ether’s year-to-date returns stand at 284%, Bitcoin trails behind at 155%. It’s a different story when it comes to how these two assets have appreciated since March, though. ETH/USD is up 327% from its low point of $117, while BTC/USD has ballooned 411% from $3,600 to $18,420.

Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppe has argued that a realistic top for ETH’s next bull run could be as high as $20,000, while Nugget News CEO Alex Saunders has forecast that Ether could beat its all-time high of $1,400 by the end of 2021.

It’s also been a good week for Litecoin, which has gained more in percentage terms than BTC and ETH combined over the past seven days.

Attack of the vampires: Uniswap loses 57% TVL as rivals up rewards

The celebratory atmosphere isn’t extending across the whole of the crypto sector. The total value locked in Uniswap crashed 57.5% after its yield farming incentive program ended — plummeting by more than $1 billion in less than 24 hours.

SushiSwap saw an opportunity to pounce, with the cloned, automated market maker announcing a new scheme covering the same four pairings previously incentivized by Uniswap. Its TVL has rocketed by almost 160% in two days, from $407 million to $1.05 billion.

Several other DEXs have also launched “vampire” campaigns targeting Uniswap’s liquidity providers… including Bancor and 1inch.

As Uniswap liquidity vanished before their very eyes, token holders pounced on a new governance proposal that sought to reinstate rewards in the form of UNI tokens for liquidity providers. The platform is unlikely to go down without a fight.

OKEx to resume withdrawals next week with promises of 100% reserves

After weeks and weeks of waiting, OKEx is finally resuming withdrawals of customer assets.

The shock suspension came on Oct. 16, rocking crypto markets, with reports circulating that the exchange’s founder Mingxing Xu was under investigation by Chinese authorities.

OKEx has now revealed more details about what happened and stressed that the company has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, the exchange admitted that existing contingency plans hadn’t covered what would have happened if a private key holder became unreachable due to unforeseen circumstances.

OKEx says withdrawals will be back in full by Nov. 27, and users will be able to claim back their funds in full if they wish. Acknowledging that trust will need to be rebuilt, the exchange is planning to launch a new loyalty reward program to apologize.

Celebrities are catching the Bitcoin bug

Former Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams certainly caused a scene this week when she asked her 2.7 million Twitter followers whether she should go long on Bitcoin. (46.6% said yes, 53.4% said no.)

Major investor Mike Novogratz was one of those who weighed into the debate, telling the A-lister: “I bought more BTC last night at 15,800. It’s going to 20K and (then) To 65K. The network effect has taken over. I see tons of new buyers and there is very little supply. It’s an easier trade here (than) at 11K. So YES, buy it.

Later in the week, the rapper Logic revealed that he, too, had dived into Bitcoin.

In a video posted to his Instagram story, the star — whose real name is Sir Robert Bryson Hall II — bragged that he “bought 6 million in Bitcoin last month.”

Despite his posturing, Logic’s investment could turn out to be a particularly canny financial move. Depending on when in October he snapped up the BTC, he’ll be sitting on a profit of between $2 million and $4.4 million.

Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers of the week

At the end of the week, Bitcoin is at $18,675.88, Ether at $525.95 and XRP at $0.41. The total market cap is at $533,641,480,617.

Among the biggest 100 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Helium, SushiSwap and Reserve Rights. The top three altcoin losers of the week are The Midas Touch Gold, ABBC Coin and Blockstack.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“I think we will start seeing lots of traditional players like banks and major payment providers partner with crypto custodians. PayPal will be the first and then more banks and financial institutions will follow.”

Bob Reid, Everest co-founder and CEO

“We are extremely pleased to be able to announce the return of a full service for our users and would like to thank them for their continuous support during this difficult time. We apologize for the inconvenience caused and know that we must continue to work diligently to restore their confidence.”

Jay Hao, OKEx CEO

“It’s either going to keep going like right now in the next few weeks and get to $20,000 very quickly, or it’s going to have its bit of a range now and then hopefully positive into next year.”

Alex Saunders, Nugget’s News CEO

“I honestly think that Bitcoin will hit $100,000 in the next five years, and then it’s going to become about, ‘Well do they actually try and shut it down, or how do they regulate it and trade it?’”

Alex Saunders, Nugget’s News CEO

“If it’s allowed to just continue on its mission and absorb all the money from around the world and become a global reserve currency… I think we can get to $1 million per coin in the next, whatever that is, 15 years.”

Alex Saunders, Nugget’s News CEO 

“Right now we’re seeing a lot of other projects launching incentives after Uniswap’s ended.”

Sergej Kunz, 1inch CEO and co-founder

“You have the hardcore ‘I’m a cryptocurrency investor’ group but it hasn’t really expanded because it’s been so volatile, there have been so many questions around security and what regulations might do. The number of questions I get on it now is a fraction of what I got a couple of years ago when it was really hot.”

Kathy Jones, Charles Schwab chief fixed income strategist

“I think DeFi is here to stay. Even now, with Bitcoin’s popularity rising again, DeFi is still popular. We think there is a lot of growth potential in DeFi.”

Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO

“Should I go long on Bitcoin?”

Maisie Williams, actress

“I bought more BTC last night at 15,800. It’s going to 20K and (then) To 65K. The network effect has taken over. I see tons of new buyers and there is very little supply. It’s an easier trade here (than) at 11K.”

Mike Novogratz, investor

“Grayscale Bitcoin Trust now holds more than 500,000 $BTC. Yes, you read that right.”

Grayscale Investments

“$20,000 #Bitcoin Is Primary Hurdle Toward $1 Trillion Market Cap — The digital version of #gold but with more-limited supply and a history of adding zeros, appears to be in an early price-discovery stage and may simply continue its ascent in 2021. Mainstream adoption is rising.”

Mike McGlone, Bloomberg analyst

Vitalik likes to move fast

Prediction of the Week

Bloomberg’s McGlone thinks Bitcoin could hit $170,000 over the next two years

It’s been a huge week for predictions. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone suggested that the next year or two “could add a zero” to the end of Bitcoin’s price — taking it to $180,000 at current levels.

Earlier this week, McGlone also said that a $1-trillion market cap (about $47,000 a coin) was “the next big resistance” for Bitcoin… as long as it could surmount the “primary hurdle” of reaching $20,000 first. “Mainstream adoption is rising,” he tweeted.

Elsewhere, Nugget News CEO Alex Saunders — who we mentioned earlier — told Cointelegraph that BTC can hit $100,000 in five years and $1 million by 2035. He described current market conditions as the “perfect backdrop” for new highs.

Last but not least, a Citibank analyst said BTC has seen “unthinkable rallies followed by painful corrections” — and suggested that highs of $318,000 could be seen some time in December 2021.

FUD of the Week 

Bitcoin price drop in 3, 2… 1? Fear & Greed Index nears dangerous record high

As the markets surged, there’s one thing that’s worth keeping an eye on: the Fear & Greed Index.

This metric has been firmly in the “extreme greed” category for some time. It was flashing a score of 86 on Friday and an eye-watering 94 on Thursday. That’s close to the all-time high of 95 points out of 100 seen on June 26, 2019.

Compiled using multiple estimates of investor sentiment, the Crypto Fear & Greed Index delivers a normalized score out of 100 to gauge how overbought or oversold cryptocurrency markets really are. The closer the number is to 100, the greater the chance that the market is due for a pullback.

Heavily tied to price action, the index has succeeded in calling price tops with considerable accuracy since its launch in early 2018.

“Coordinated media FUD” about Bitcoin from Financial Times to Fox Business

Mainstream media outlets are finally reporting on the recent rally that saw Bitcoin creep close to its all-time high, but some commentators appear to be determined to spread FUD.

The Financial Times published an editorial that warned Bitcoin’s “status as a safe haven is more theoretical than anything else.”

Fox Business also noted Bitcoin’s price rise with apparent alarm and set about warning its readers away from investing in the cryptocurrency. It rounded up Bitcoin haters including gold bug Peter Schiff, Roubini Macro Associates CEO Nouriel Roubini and Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio.

However, there was some support for Bitcoin in the media from an unexpected party — China, a country well-known for its tight stance restricting the digital asset. The recent price rally even hit the national news, on state-run CCTV.

Binance files U.S. lawsuit against Forbes and two cryptocurrency journalists

Binance has filed a lawsuit against Forbes Media and two of its journalists, Michael del Castillo and Jason Brett.

The exchange alleges that an article published under the title “Leaked ‘Tai Chi’ Document Reveals Binance’s Elaborate Scheme To Evade Bitcoin Regulators” was defamatory, false and misleading — and caused millions of dollars in losses.

The article in question reported that the “Tai Chi” document contained details of a scheme designed to “intentionally deceive regulators” in the United States.

While Forbes says it stands by its reporting, Binance is now demanding compensatory and punitive damages, and there’s no doubt that the company is getting serious.

The exchange has retained the services of Charles Harder, the attorney best known for representing Hulk Hogan in a suit against Gawker Media. He procured a reward of $140 million, and this directly led to the downfall of the media group.

Bitcoin climbs higher

Best Cointelegraph Features

Bitcoin price breaks past $18,800 as bears and bulls map out its path

The price of Bitcoin has stabilized above $18,000 and broken out of the critical $18,500 level. Analysts discuss short-term bull and bear cases.

Uniswap fights back as competitors drain value from the DEX

Even as incentives continue to dry up on Uniswap, TVL across the board seems to have remained steady.

Who watches the watchmen? Crypto may not be as trustless as it seems

Crypto is often seen as trustless and failproof. But as more regulation, venues and developers come aboard, just how trustless is it really?

the-us-election-seals-china’s-victory-in-digital-currency-supremacy

The US election seals China’s victory in digital currency supremacy

The world is engaging in financial warfare, and China is winning. China’s digital yuan — also referred to as Digital Currency Electronic Payment, or DCEP — will soon be used around the world. The People’s Bank of China is one of the most advanced central banks in the world. For that reason, it has been advancing on the digital currency front, while by all appearances, the United States Federal Reserve has not.

And now that Donald Trump and his “America First” policy has been defeated — though counting remains ongoing and court cases over the results are pending — China’s supremacy in the area of digital currency has been assured.

Joe Biden has not outlined a clear technology policy, let alone a digital currency policy. That will assure China the opportunity to increase its lead in the digital currency race. Maintaining the American position as the world’s superpower does not appear anywhere in Biden’s agenda. Back in 2015, as a vice president, Biden once made a toast to China:

“To the hope and expectation that 50 years from now our great grandchildren will look back and say what a beautiful history we wrote together.”

In 1979, Biden traveled to China as a junior senator after President Richard Nixon normalized relations between the U.S. and China. During his visit to Sichuan University as Barack Obama’s vice president in 2011, he mentioned:

“I believed in 1979 and said so and I believe now that a rising China is a positive development, not only for the people of China but for the United States and the world as a whole. A rising China will fuel economic growth and prosperity and it will bring to the fore a new partner with whom we can meet global challenges together.”

In the meantime, China marches forward, rolling out the world’s first digital currency.

Related: Digital cold war? United States and China vie for blockchain supremacy

According to announcements, the administration of Biden and Kamala Harris is focused on the coronavirus, racial equality and climate change. In its foreign policy and American leadership plan, dubbed “The Power of America’s Example: The Biden Plan for Leading the Democratic World to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century,” the word “digital” doesn’t appear once. In addition, Biden has long ties with China and has long been a proponent of its industrialization and growth into a world leader. When asked by a National Public Radio journalist if he as president would keep Trump’s tariffs on China, Biden shot back with a resounding “No.”

The Chinese yuan via the DCEP will become the dominant global currency. DCEP won’t only be successful because of the forward-thinking PBoC but also thanks to the fact that over 12 million Chinese people live outside of China — in fact, 2.5 million live in the United States. They could adopt the digital currency and spread the yuan globally.

With their help, the Chinese yuan can become an international currency. If the Chinese yuan is used by such individuals throughout the world, the Chinese currency can surmount U.S. monetary sovereignty.

Related: Central bank digital currencies are dead in the water

The current situation has been made possible by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased reliance on digital services. As tensions soar in the U.S., China could siphon off global influence. While the Federal Reserve has experimented with distributed ledger platforms to understand their potential benefits and tradeoffs, it has apparently not made a definitive decision to adopt such a currency.

Related: China and US must learn from one another and collaborate on CBDC

Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, has said the U.S. government is not particularly concerned with speed when it comes to developing a central bank digital currency. Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Anthony Pompliano sounded the alarm on this slipshod approach.

Powell explained the U.S.’s slow-moving efforts:

“We have not made a decision to issue a CBDC, and we think there’s a great deal of work yet to be done.”

Powell suggested that building a CBDC correctly was more important than winning the digital currency race. In the meantime, China marches forward. Pompliano sees this as an existential threat to the U.S. dollar. “They’re talking about, like, maybe we’ll build one in the next couple of years,” Pompliano said of Powell’s recent comments on CBDCs. “This is not a next-couple-of-years thing.” He added:

“This is a right-now thing, and if they don’t act, the U.S. is going to fall really far behind China because it all comes down to accessibility.”

Pompliano said accessibility to a digital fiat currency will determine the winner on this new fintech frontier. “If I’m sitting somewhere in the world and I can use the internet connection and I want a global currency, can I get a yuan, or can I get the dollar?”

Pomp is right. The U.S. dollar’s relevancy is on the line. But, the hour is late — perhaps, too late.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Alex Zha serves as director of global operations at MXC Exchange, a one-stop cryptocurrency service provider. Prior to MXC, he gained experience at OKEx as senior global marketing manager. Alex is a veteran in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry and is a well-versed marketing and operations specialist who believes blockchain and cryptocurrency will usher in the era of modern financial inclusion. He holds a master’s degree from the National University of Singapore.

btc-record-in-sight,-eth-rallies,-uniswap-disaster:-hodler’s-digest,-nov.-15–21

BTC record in sight, ETH rallies, Uniswap disaster: Hodler’s Digest, Nov. 15–21

Coming every Sunday, Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

Ray Dalio might be wrong

Path to $20,000 Bitcoin price now wide open after previous resistance breaks

Is… is this happening?! After encountering resistance at $18,420 (a price that was unthinkable even a few days ago), Bitcoin surged to new highs of $18,817.

The latest boost put BTC within touching distance of $20,089 — the all-time high set back in December 2017.

“It’s killing it this year,” Fundstrat Global Advisors co-founder Tom Lee enthused. He added that 2021 could be a year of “fireworks” for the world’s biggest cryptocurrency.

A corporate frenzy has meant that companies now hold over $15 billion in BTC. But this surge isn’t just being driven by institutions. Data suggests that searches for Bitcoin in November 2020 now far outpace what was seen in December 2017.

FOMO is growing. Glassnode reported that there was a major spike in the number of new Bitcoin addresses on Nov. 18 — 25,000 an hour, to be exact. The co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital sold his Chevy to get his hands on more crypto. And the chief information officer of BlackRock says BTC is here to stay… and will eventually take gold’s place.

By all accounts, it looks like Bitcoin has arrived. It’s no wonder 73% of millionaires want to own digital assets before 2022.

Ether hits $500 for the first time since June 2018, outperforming Bitcoin YTD

It isn’t just Bitcoin that’s starting to return to historic highs.

ETH hit $500 for the first time since June 2018 on Friday, with other altcoins also slowly staging a comeback.

Reaching this psychologically important barrier delighted traders — not least because ETH has outperformed BTC so far this year.

While Ether’s year-to-date returns stand at 284%, Bitcoin trails behind at 155%. It’s a different story when it comes to how these two assets have appreciated since March, though. ETH/USD is up 327% from its low point of $117, while BTC/USD has ballooned 411% from $3,600 to $18,420.

Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppe has argued that a realistic top for ETH’s next bull run could be as high as $20,000, while Nugget News CEO Alex Saunders has forecast that Ether could beat its all-time high of $1,400 by the end of 2021.

It’s also been a good week for Litecoin, which has gained more in percentage terms than BTC and ETH combined over the past seven days.

Attack of the vampires: Uniswap loses 57% TVL as rivals up rewards

The celebratory atmosphere isn’t extending across the whole of the crypto sector. The total value locked in Uniswap crashed 57.5% after its yield farming incentive program ended — plummeting by more than $1 billion in less than 24 hours.

SushiSwap saw an opportunity to pounce, with the cloned, automated market maker announcing a new scheme covering the same four pairings previously incentivized by Uniswap. Its TVL has rocketed by almost 160% in two days, from $407 million to $1.05 billion.

Several other DEXs have also launched “vampire” campaigns targeting Uniswap’s liquidity providers… including Bancor and 1inch.

As Uniswap liquidity vanished before their very eyes, token holders pounced on a new governance proposal that sought to reinstate rewards in the form of UNI tokens for liquidity providers. The platform is unlikely to go down without a fight.

OKEx to resume withdrawals next week with promises of 100% reserves

After weeks and weeks of waiting, OKEx is finally resuming withdrawals of customer assets.

The shock suspension came on Oct. 16, rocking crypto markets, with reports circulating that the exchange’s founder Mingxing Xu was under investigation by Chinese authorities.

OKEx has now revealed more details about what happened and stressed that the company has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, the exchange admitted that existing contingency plans hadn’t covered what would have happened if a private key holder became unreachable due to unforeseen circumstances.

OKEx says withdrawals will be back in full by Nov. 27, and users will be able to claim back their funds in full if they wish. Acknowledging that trust will need to be rebuilt, the exchange is planning to launch a new loyalty reward program to apologize.

Celebrities are catching the Bitcoin bug

Former Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams certainly caused a scene this week when she asked her 2.7 million Twitter followers whether she should go long on Bitcoin. (46.6% said yes, 53.4% said no.)

Major investor Mike Novogratz was one of those who weighed into the debate, telling the A-lister: “I bought more BTC last night at 15,800. It’s going to 20K and (then) To 65K. The network effect has taken over. I see tons of new buyers and there is very little supply. It’s an easier trade here (than) at 11K. So YES, buy it.

Later in the week, the rapper Logic revealed that he, too, had dived into Bitcoin.

In a video posted to his Instagram story, the star — whose real name is Sir Robert Bryson Hall II — bragged that he “bought 6 million in Bitcoin last month.”

Despite his posturing, Logic’s investment could turn out to be a particularly canny financial move. Depending on when in October he snapped up the BTC, he’ll be sitting on a profit of between $2 million and $4.4 million.

Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers of the week

At the end of the week, Bitcoin is at $18,675.88, Ether at $525.95 and XRP at $0.41. The total market cap is at $533,641,480,617.

Among the biggest 100 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Helium, SushiSwap and Reserve Rights. The top three altcoin losers of the week are The Midas Touch Gold, ABBC Coin and Blockstack.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“I think we will start seeing lots of traditional players like banks and major payment providers partner with crypto custodians. PayPal will be the first and then more banks and financial institutions will follow.”

Bob Reid, Everest co-founder and CEO

“We are extremely pleased to be able to announce the return of a full service for our users and would like to thank them for their continuous support during this difficult time. We apologize for the inconvenience caused and know that we must continue to work diligently to restore their confidence.”

Jay Hao, OKEx CEO

“It’s either going to keep going like right now in the next few weeks and get to $20,000 very quickly, or it’s going to have its bit of a range now and then hopefully positive into next year.”

Alex Saunders, Nugget’s News CEO

“I honestly think that Bitcoin will hit $100,000 in the next five years, and then it’s going to become about, ‘Well do they actually try and shut it down, or how do they regulate it and trade it?’”

Alex Saunders, Nugget’s News CEO

“If it’s allowed to just continue on its mission and absorb all the money from around the world and become a global reserve currency… I think we can get to $1 million per coin in the next, whatever that is, 15 years.”

Alex Saunders, Nugget’s News CEO 

“Right now we’re seeing a lot of other projects launching incentives after Uniswap’s ended.”

Sergej Kunz, 1inch CEO and co-founder

“You have the hardcore ‘I’m a cryptocurrency investor’ group but it hasn’t really expanded because it’s been so volatile, there have been so many questions around security and what regulations might do. The number of questions I get on it now is a fraction of what I got a couple of years ago when it was really hot.”

Kathy Jones, Charles Schwab chief fixed income strategist

“I think DeFi is here to stay. Even now, with Bitcoin’s popularity rising again, DeFi is still popular. We think there is a lot of growth potential in DeFi.”

Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO

“Should I go long on Bitcoin?”

Maisie Williams, actress

“I bought more BTC last night at 15,800. It’s going to 20K and (then) To 65K. The network effect has taken over. I see tons of new buyers and there is very little supply. It’s an easier trade here (than) at 11K.”

Mike Novogratz, investor

“Grayscale Bitcoin Trust now holds more than 500,000 $BTC. Yes, you read that right.”

Grayscale Investments

“$20,000 #Bitcoin Is Primary Hurdle Toward $1 Trillion Market Cap — The digital version of #gold but with more-limited supply and a history of adding zeros, appears to be in an early price-discovery stage and may simply continue its ascent in 2021. Mainstream adoption is rising.”

Mike McGlone, Bloomberg analyst

Vitalik likes to move fast

Prediction of the Week

Bloomberg’s McGlone thinks Bitcoin could hit $170,000 over the next two years

It’s been a huge week for predictions. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone suggested that the next year or two “could add a zero” to the end of Bitcoin’s price — taking it to $180,000 at current levels.

Earlier this week, McGlone also said that a $1-trillion market cap (about $47,000 a coin) was “the next big resistance” for Bitcoin… as long as it could surmount the “primary hurdle” of reaching $20,000 first. “Mainstream adoption is rising,” he tweeted.

Elsewhere, Nugget News CEO Alex Saunders — who we mentioned earlier — told Cointelegraph that BTC can hit $100,000 in five years and $1 million by 2035. He described current market conditions as the “perfect backdrop” for new highs.

Last but not least, a Citibank analyst said BTC has seen “unthinkable rallies followed by painful corrections” — and suggested that highs of $318,000 could be seen some time in December 2021.

FUD of the Week 

Bitcoin price drop in 3, 2… 1? Fear & Greed Index nears dangerous record high

As the markets surged, there’s one thing that’s worth keeping an eye on: the Fear & Greed Index.

This metric has been firmly in the “extreme greed” category for some time. It was flashing a score of 86 on Friday and an eye-watering 94 on Thursday. That’s close to the all-time high of 95 points out of 100 seen on June 26, 2019.

Compiled using multiple estimates of investor sentiment, the Crypto Fear & Greed Index delivers a normalized score out of 100 to gauge how overbought or oversold cryptocurrency markets really are. The closer the number is to 100, the greater the chance that the market is due for a pullback.

Heavily tied to price action, the index has succeeded in calling price tops with considerable accuracy since its launch in early 2018.

“Coordinated media FUD” about Bitcoin from Financial Times to Fox Business

Mainstream media outlets are finally reporting on the recent rally that saw Bitcoin creep close to its all-time high, but some commentators appear to be determined to spread FUD.

The Financial Times published an editorial that warned Bitcoin’s “status as a safe haven is more theoretical than anything else.”

Fox Business also noted Bitcoin’s price rise with apparent alarm and set about warning its readers away from investing in the cryptocurrency. It rounded up Bitcoin haters including gold bug Peter Schiff, Roubini Macro Associates CEO Nouriel Roubini and Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio.

However, there was some support for Bitcoin in the media from an unexpected party — China, a country well-known for its tight stance restricting the digital asset. The recent price rally even hit the national news, on state-run CCTV.

Binance files U.S. lawsuit against Forbes and two cryptocurrency journalists

Binance has filed a lawsuit against Forbes Media and two of its journalists, Michael del Castillo and Jason Brett.

The exchange alleges that an article published under the title “Leaked ‘Tai Chi’ Document Reveals Binance’s Elaborate Scheme To Evade Bitcoin Regulators” was defamatory, false and misleading — and caused millions of dollars in losses.

The article in question reported that the “Tai Chi” document contained details of a scheme designed to “intentionally deceive regulators” in the United States.

While Forbes says it stands by its reporting, Binance is now demanding compensatory and punitive damages, and there’s no doubt that the company is getting serious.

The exchange has retained the services of Charles Harder, the attorney best known for representing Hulk Hogan in a suit against Gawker Media. He procured a reward of $140 million, and this directly led to the downfall of the media group.

Bitcoin climbs higher

Best Cointelegraph Features

Bitcoin price breaks past $18,800 as bears and bulls map out its path

The price of Bitcoin has stabilized above $18,000 and broken out of the critical $18,500 level. Analysts discuss short-term bull and bear cases.

Uniswap fights back as competitors drain value from the DEX

Even as incentives continue to dry up on Uniswap, TVL across the board seems to have remained steady.

Who watches the watchmen? Crypto may not be as trustless as it seems

Crypto is often seen as trustless and failproof. But as more regulation, venues and developers come aboard, just how trustless is it really?

tokenization-will-bring-desirable-stability-to-emerging-markets

Tokenization will bring desirable stability to emerging markets

One of the biggest challenges emerging markets face is volatility. Fueled by political and economic instability, dependency on a limited number of industries, and constraints on market accessibility, these matters are exacerbated by a bad or nonexistent regulatory framework. While it doesn’t appear that many of these elements will change anytime soon, there are financial and technological implementations that can be introduced to provide stability. Tokenization — a relatively novel, blockchain-based, cryptographic ratification of assets — can be the vehicle that empowers this vision to be realized.

What emerging markets are missing: Participation and liquidity

Essential to a successful, mature market is more movement of assets. In other words, markets need liquidity, which is partly derived from participation. If not enough people are participating, the odds are low that a security will be liquid. As a result, the market remains more stagnant, investors see higher risk, and economies then become dependent on a few strong industries to compensate, while both foreign and domestic actors are unable to generate wealth from within by other market means. In the end, more participation would lead to higher liquidity, but political-economic systems can impede progress.

Many emerging markets, although not all, also operate under political regimes that hinder financial participation, with swaths of the population unable to access a bank or an investing account remotely, limiting social mobility and liquidity as well as increasing the wealth gap.

Related: Financial inclusion, cryptocurrency and the developing world

In some oligarchies, which comprise a sizable portion of emerging markets, the lack of accessibility to finance can be purposeful, with the intent to limit political advancement and maintain political oppression.

In other cases, socioeconomic mobility is not technically restrained, but domestic issues limit opportunities for the more impoverished in one way or another. Blockchain technology has spurred the potential for a real financial revolution, though, with more potential participation and opportunity.

Related: Crypto is the revolution leading developing countries to financial inclusion

Blockchain: The democratizer for finance

The underlying concept for blockchain’s development stems from a familiar system and feeling that people in emerging markets face: centralized power and not much to do about it. The idea was to take the centralized power out of the hands of the wealthy Wall Street few, whose own whims had global market implications.

Rather than route the markets through legacy financial institutions, blockchain would route them through the people, thereby cutting out the intermediary and empowering individual people. Ultimately, empowering the people with blockchain-based finance should, theoretically, lead to more accessibility and, subsequently, participation, especially for the unbanked or financially strained.

Although the underlying blockchain technology has the power to decentralize finance, it is the digital capsules that run on it called “tokens” that are the real culprit in boosting market participation. Practically speaking, tokens can represent any sort of tradable asset, whether digital or tangible. In a 2018 report, Deloitte strongly voiced its confidence in the true potential of tokenization:

“The act of tokenizing assets threatens to disrupt many industries, in particular the financial industry, and those who are not prepared risk being left behind. […] We foresee that tokenization could make the financial industry more accessible, cheaper, faster and easier, thereby possibly unlocking trillions of euros in currently illiquid assets, and vastly increasing the volumes of trades.”

These ideas have manifested into a variety of different applications, from securities to assets as unique as art pieces, that have benefitted from the unique capacities of tokenization.

Building the foundations for participation with tokenization

Combined with cost-effective blockchain technology, tokenization offers a whole new type of flexibility that is sorely lacking in the traditional mainstream financial ecosystem. As a result, assets from traditional financial instruments like securities to unique physical items like art pieces have been tokenized.

Many in emerging-market nations are unable to afford to invest in standard assets because of the high cost. But because tokens are divisible, their assets become shareable among a group of people, allowing investors to get in on the ground with lower investments.

Rather than one person buying a property — a typically illiquid asset with a $500,000 price tag — a very large group of retail investors could collectively purchase the home as an asset via tokenization. Each investor would be free to trade their tokens easily without legal issue. What this means is that not only can retail investors previously shut out due to the high cost of assets be exposed to the market, but liquidity would also be dramatically boosted. This could translate into more fundraising opportunities, too, for small and medium businesses within emerging markets that are struggling to find investment through traditional avenues.

Moreover, the flexibility effect would be amplified by the absence of legacy intermediaries on a trustless blockchain system, which would, therefore, result in cheaper operational costs that trickle down to the investor. The system trustlessness would extend to the issue of regulations as well, where stringent — or an absence of — policies could be overcome via smart contracts that execute transactions based on real-world information, without human interference.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Derek Boirun is the founder, CEO and director of Realio. Derek is an entrepreneur with institutional experience in commercial real estate development, EB-5 capital investments and blockchain-based investing. He previously founded, and currently acts as a managing member of, the American Economic Growth Fund, an EB-5 investment platform focused on sourcing overseas capital for U.S.-based real estate projects. To date, the fund owns two regional centers, hosts over 100 investors and sponsors over $1.2 billion in total project cost.

corporate-bitcoin-treasuries-are-here,-which-can-only-mean-good-things

Corporate Bitcoin treasuries are here, which can only mean good things

Holding Bitcoin (BTC) in treasury will soon become a corporate standard. Wall Street firm MicroStrategy recently made headlines when it decided to allocate a large portion of its treasury to Bitcoin, buying over 21,000 BTC in August and almost 17,000 more in September, making its CEO, Michael Saylor, seem quite prescient already. MicroStrategy stock rallied just like BTC as well — by 50%. According to Saylor, Bitcoin was the best inflation hedge and store of value, and in his words, “Cash is trash.” His wager has, so far, been handsomely rewarding.

Related: MicroStrategy buying Bitcoin shows institutional investors seek to de-risk

Technically speaking, Bitcoin is, in fact, a worldwide store of value. BTC is not just a United States or an Asian phenomenon — it is held and exchanged around the world via myriad local exchanges, making the available liquidity pool both global and capillary in granularity.

There are many technical reasons for calling Bitcoin an inflation hedge. BTC is a numerus-clausus asset class, meaning that there is a finite number in circulation (a maximum of 21 million coins) much like gold, high-end real estate and fine art. Furthermore, there is a dwindling new supply of Bitcoin — after the BTC mining halving — and a culture of long-term holding among most crypto participants. All of this spells a small supply. Historically, BTC seems to replay its past bull run waves post-halvings. This is the third halving, and it doesn’t disappoint. On the demand side, the picture is expanding.

The world’s economies are entering strong expansionary monetary phases — generalized quantitative easing, so to speak — as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bitcoin, so far, has outperformed every asset class throughout the crisis, spurring new demand and earning its wings as a global store of value. The fact that it is ethereal and not tied to real economic cash flows — unlike, say, stocks or real estate — plays to its advantage when the world’s economies sputter about.

Related: What the COVID-19 pandemic means for blockchain and crypto

Bitcoin provides an alternative, digital safe haven. Demand, then, is materializing on pure monetary considerations, and Bitcoin is, technically speaking, a natural inflation hedge in that regard. It will soon be a corporate standard like owning treasury notes is.

Crypto as a treasury holdings

There is also a slight ideological bent to the current corporate moves. For savvy chief financial officers, having a portion of the treasury held in digital currency provides a measure of regulatory hedge and arbitrage. No one controls the Bitcoin blockchain, and no government can hack it and seize operational funds. This added safety valve, a feature of most blockchains (censorship resistance), is in fact one of the main raisons d’etre of BTC. This feature may be a deterrent for most central banks, as they want to run their own currencies and blockchains, not Bitcoin’s, and they certainly want to control issuance, unlike Bitcoin’s programmatic and nondiscretionary issuance. And it is, in fact, why Bitcoin will find favor with many chief financial officers, ironically both conservative and avant-garde ones.

What is surprising in the case of Saylor and MicroStrategy is the size of the bet. With a market capitalization of around $2 billion, a $425 million wager seems very consequential to the business. So far, it has paid off — dramatically. While waging everything may seem foolhardy, not waging anything is worse.

What may seem foolhardy or extreme will seem run of the mill. With about a rough estimate of $10 trillion of corporate treasury worldwide, even a 3% allocation instead of cash represents $300 billion, which is about the aggregate value of Bitcoin, in liquid cash. These orders of magnitude say that BTC’s new wave has arrived. The demand number gets big, and the supply gets smaller. Soon, every chief financial officer will be calmly asking not if the corporation needs exposure to the digital asset class but how to do it well and who to trust in the management of its digital assets.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Marc Fleury is the CEO and co-founder of Two Prime, a financial technology company that focuses on the financial application of crypto to the real economy. Building upon his financial expertise spanning from his role advising private equity firms to his academic pursuits in modern monetary and banking theories, he provides the strategic direction for core-vision investment strategy and partnerships for the firm.

smart-contract-standards:-making-defi-transactions-on-ethereum-more-secure

Smart contract standards: Making DeFi transactions on Ethereum more secure

Decentralized finance continues to make its impact on the crypto market, and with over $13 billion of total value of assets locked, DeFi projects are clearly resonating with eager crypto investors. Yet while the DeFi space has been progressing over the last year, a number of illegitimate projects have come to fruition, reminding some of the 2017 ICO boom and its subsequent bust.

For example, Harvest Finance, a major decentralized protocol, was recently hacked. The attacker made away with $24 million from Harvest Finance pools. Most recently, Value DeFi, the decentralized finance protocol, fell victim to a $6-million flash loan exploit. And of course, one of the biggest events of the year for DeFi involved SushiSwap, where the creator sold $13 million of dev funds, causing a market crash.

It’s important to point out that the majority of DeFi projects are built on the Ethereum blockchain. According to the website DeFiPrime, there are currently over 200 DeFi projects on the Ethereum network. Yet while Ethereum appears to be the most suitable platform for DeFi projects, the network’s vulnerabilities have played a large role in hacks and fraudulent activities.

Smart contract transactions on Ethereum require security

Specifically speaking, the smart contracts that power Ethereum are known for being fraught with security issues, which, in turn, have greatly impacted DeFi projects. In addition, smart contracts being applied to DeFi projects worth billions of dollars are often not audited beforehand.

Tom Lindeman, a previous veteran researcher at Microsoft and the former managing director of the Ethereum Trust Alliance — a group of blockchain companies working on a security system for smart contracts — told Cointelegraph that there is currently no good ways to identify whether a smart contract is secure before initiating a transaction:

“The DeFi space is worth billions of dollars now, but so many of those smart contracts being used are never audited. As such, the DeFi sector continues to see a flurry of activity that has individuals and organizations approving token contracts, swapping tokens, and adding liquidity to pools in quick succession without being able to easily check contract security.”

In an attempt to solve the security challenges related to smart contracts, Lindeman has joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance’s newly formed “EthTrust Security Levels Working Group” as its co-chair. According to Lindeman, the working group’s mission will be to continue the advances initially started by the Ethereum Trust Alliance, or ETA, which are aimed to set standards for secure, smart contract transactions conducted on the Ethereum blockchain.

A registry system for rated smart contracts

Lindeman explained that the ETA has been working on its EthTrust project for close to a year, even before the DeFi space started to expose the vulnerabilities of Ethereum smart contracts. Coincidentally, the EthTrust project joined forces with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance just as the DeFi space was gaining traction.

Daniel Burnett, executive director of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, told Cointelegraph that the timing for the new working group has been purely coincidental in regards to the rise of DeFi. According to Burnett, the new EthTrust project further demonstrates that the Ethereum network is maturing. “We want to help solve the problems many of our members have expressed in regards to Ethereum,” he said.

Specifically, the new working group plans to address security vulnerabilities in smart contracts by creating a standard and registry system to help users gain greater awareness of how to differentiate which contracts have gone through rigorous security checks. While the project is still a work in progress, the goal is to define certain requirements that smart contracts must exhibit in order to be deemed secure.

For example, Pierre-Alain Mouy, an Enterprise Ethereum Alliance member, former ETA product owner and managing director at NVISO Security in Germany, told Cointelegraph that there are three levels of validation that a smart contract can achieve to help individuals understand its level of trust:

“We started the project by including three different levels of badges that smart contracts can earn to prove its level of trust. Level one consists of a smart contract undergoing work through automation. Levels two and three are manual audits by humans to ensure that contracts are safe and secure.”

Mouy shared that in order for a smart contract to achieve a level one badge, an automated security scanning tool will be run against the contract. The AI-powered tool is designed to check for a specific set of requirements that the working group is currently defining.

If a smart contract continues to level two, individuals will perform a security audit. “There will be definitions for audit companies, explaining how long they need to dig into these smart contracts,” said Mouy, adding further: “Eventually, an audit report will be created for the working group to manually review. We are not auditors, however. The working group serves as a router to verify that these steps are taken.”

Finally, if a smart contract makes it to level three, additional specifications and test cases written to verify properties in the contract will be performed. According to Mouy, this is called the “formal verification process.”

Once a smart contract has undergone this step-by-step verification process, the initiative’s registry system will enable exchanges, for example, to request a specific rating level before new tokens are listed. This system could also be applied to a multi-member consortium that relies on smart contracts for business purposes.

Growing interest for secure smart contracts

According to Lindeman, the EthTrust project has already sparked interest from daily Ethereum users who want to see new things, such as yield farming. He further shared that Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has expressed interest in using this system to provide smart contract ratings for companies interested in the blockchain space.

The growing interest in secure smart contracts is especially important as the Ethereum infrastructure progresses and the promised benefits of Ethereum 2.0 come to fruition. Burnett believes the Ethereum ecosystem will see increased trust moving forward, which will be exhibited by new projects being used by businesses, such as the work being done by the Baseline Protocol.

While innovative, it’s important to point out that the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance’s new working group and the EthTrust project are not the first to tackle challenges related to the security of smart contracts. For example, blockchain security firm Quantstamp has been performing smart contract audits and security checks for blockchain companies since 2017. The firm’s clients include major players in the space such as Binance and eToro. Quantstamp recently announced that it will audit a new DeFi project on the Polkadot blockchain.

In addition to security firms performing audits, companies are also finding ways to ensure secure smart contracts. For example, Vaiot, a blockchain company that uses artificial intelligence to create digital services for enterprises, leverages AI to provide software security and performance in smart contracts. Jakub Kobeldys, the lead developer at Vaiot, told Cointelegraph that while no amount of AI can fully protect against flaws in code, the technology can aid developers significantly:

“Unsupervised learning techniques could track down new flaws in an automated way, or at least narrow down the search area and give some hints for human experts. It could also lead to the more dynamic development of frameworks that help developers code in a secure manner.”

singapore-ready-to-launch-wholesale-cbdc,-local-exec-says

Singapore ready to launch wholesale CBDC, local exec says

CFO at Singapore’s central bank told Cointelegraph about his plans to implement Singapore’s wholesale CBDC.

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Singapore is ready to launch it’s own central bank digital currency, or CBDC, said Sopnendu Mohanty, chief FinTech officer at Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator, Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Speaking on the subject during an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, Mohanty pointed out that in Singapore there is not much demand for a retail CBDC, given that payment system infrastructure in the country already allow fast and cheap payments among individuals.

Instead, Singapore’s central bank is focused on the development of a wholesale CBDC, which will be used to facilitate settlements of securities and payments among financial institutions. 

“I don’t think we need to do any more experiments on wholesale CBDCs”, pointed out Mohanty. “Now we should start thinking about going into production”.

According to Mohanty, a severe but clear regulatory framework coupled with openness to innovation is what makes Singapore one of the most attractive places for cryptocurrency business in Southeast Asia. 

“Defining Singapore “crypto-friendly”, said Mohanty, “would be “highly misleading”.

In fact, he pointed out, the small city state has a very clear regulatory framework in place to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Singapore’s Central bank still believes that while business activity poses certain risks, the technology itself is neutral.

“Allowing crypto to be an experimental construct in Singapore is what we are looking at”, he explained.

Watch the full interview on our Youtube channel and don’t forget to subscribe!

sexual-violence-in-india:-blockchain’s-role-in-empowering-survivors

Sexual Violence in India: Blockchain’s Role in Empowering Survivors

On a typically brisk winter evening in Saket, South Delhi, Jyoti Singh and a male friend enjoyed a trip to the movies to watch Ang Lee’s Life of Pi

Heading home afterwards they waited at a bus stop, and then boarded a private bus bound for Dwarka at around 9.30pm. But Jyoti didn’t make it home. Six men brutally gang-raped and tortured her while her friend was beaten. On December 29 2012, after fighting for her life for 13 days, Jyoti Singh died.

The savage murder of this young woman sent shockwaves throughout India. Thousands of protestors took to the streets across India and South Asia, as anger erupted in every corner of the country and spilled out across the world. 

To many, it felt different this time, as if Jyoti’s cruel fate could spark meaningful cultural and legal change, as if perhaps the country was reckoning with the fact that India’s traditionalism and inherent values weren’t enough to keep its citizens safe. Young women were especially concerned; many had experienced enough harassment to recognize that Jyoti’s fate could have easily been a friend’s, a sister’s, their own.

Once-silenced voices began to make themselves heard. Nascent citizen journalism made use of the internet and social media to collect and disseminate information, opening up a new space for survivors and allies to express their thoughts and unleash their despair, and exposing a swelling tumor of discontent and outrage to the world. ‘Nirbhaya’, the internet screamed out in pain for Jyoti, meaning ‘fearless one’ in Hindi, a word which quickly became synonymous with the movement itself.

But speaking out on these issues is a tough decision, one that takes substantial courage; the desperation for change and justice can outweigh the fear and eclipse the risk, but there is no denying it can change your life, and put a target on your back.

It changed the life of journalist Meera Vijayann, herself a survivor of sexual violence. Meera says in a 2013 TEDx talk that December 29 was a day that India “plunged into darkness”, as people across the country woke up to the “horrific truth” about the treatment of women in the country. As protests spread to where Meera was living in Bangalore, she made a spontaneous decision. Logging onto a citizen journalism platform, Meera recorded and posted a video of the scene in her city and aired her frustrations and concerns. “I realized, for the first time, that my voice mattered”, she asserts in the talk.

There were, of course, risks associated with speaking up. She received hateful comments and online abuse. I asked Meera if she thought the option to report or even just to access support anonymously would encourage survivors to speak up and reach out for the assistance they need. “As a survivor myself, I’ve thought about it a lot,” she tells me.

I stayed silent for many years because I knew that there’d be consequences when I talked in public.

“I decided to do so because I knew that I had supportive family and friends. So yes, personal stories can put survivors of violence and their families at risk. I think the option to report on violence anonymously will definitely encourage women to speak up (especially when they are at-risk or marginalized), but it does make a huge difference when women share their stories publicly.”

Reporting and documenting sexual violence

If the internet democratizes information, blockchain goes some way toward safeguarding it. Not every survivor seeking access to justice and support wants to be the latest poster child for rape victims in the media. Nobody is obligated to speak up before they are ready or even at all, particular in cultures in which stigmatization is more prevalent. So how do we ensure that survivors aren’t facing a choice between waiving anonymity or waiving access to support and justice? 

Smashboard, ‘your digital ally to smash patriarchy’, is an app that utilizes the Ethereum Blockchain to create an encrypted space for survivors in India to report sexual violence. Smashboard users are able to obtain medical, legal, or psychological support, and store information such as photos, video and audio files, screenshots and documents as time-stamped evidence that could prove crucial to a case.

As the Smashboard website puts it, “fighting the patriarchy is real and risky labor – and tech can simplify a lot of this work”. As well as helping survivors of sexual violence access justice and support through connections with legal representatives, emotional and psychological support, and offering the ability to create an immutable record of evidential material, Smashboard can connect users with feminist journalists sensitive to their stories — and enables them to leave anonymous tips, without having to make the difficult choice to speak up publicly.

Choose your anonymity?

Founder Noopur Tiwari, a survivor of sexual violence herself, is a strong believer that while survivors speaking out is an essential part of empowering others to do the same, pushing people to report or speak out particularly before they are ready can be retraumatizing. The app provides an element of ‘choose your own anonymity’ by implementing a blockchain solution alongside a wealth of additional features.

 “Smashboard’s implementation is heavily geared towards zero knowledge proof,” says Noopur. “That, for us, is paramount so that users can remain anonymous for as long as they need to, and still manage to access all the features that they want to access. We also felt that the system needed a way to indisputably link anonymized artefacts to a given user at any point, irrespective of whether they have chosen to remain pseudo-anonymous or not. And blockchain allows you to do that – it affords users the secure comfort that they need.”

The pseudo-anonymity that a blockchain solution delivers was a crucial element for Noopur.  “I have been through the ups and downs, the insecurities of reaching out and asking for help. the primary thing that you’re afraid of is that you will lose your agency,” she explains. “You want to control the way in which you’re reaching out. Sometimes you don’t have the energy to even ask for help. So how do we reduce the effort that the survivor has to make to tell their story and be able to speak? Just that little comfort of pseudo-anonymity can go a long, long way in helping survivors.”

For Noopur, there is another value proposition of blockchain that is more ideological than technological. She explains: “We found that the disruptive nature of blockchain could actually find a synergy with feminist values. The whole idea of decentralization at the center of blockchain is something that appeals to us, because patriarchy is something that functions due to misuse of power, and the centralization of power. So the disruption of centralized networks is something which appealed to us as feminists.”         

Decentralization as a feminist doctrine

The idea of blockchain and decentralization as a feminist doctrine is tinged with a modicum of irony. Noopur isn’t the first woman in the space to allude to blockchain’s ‘tech bro’ trouble, with men disproportionately representing the industry when it comes to high level positions, speaking gigs, and investment.

Noopur very clearly asserts Smashboard’s rejection of such a culture, giving an account of how Smashboard’s original project fell to pieces as a result of a collaboration with the wrong people. “We tried to work with the tech bros,” Noopur tells me. “If they thought that our project was something that deserved their labor, we thought, why not?”

But the collaboration was ill-fated, and short-lived.  She continues: “It turned out that the way in which they function, the way in which they communicated was terrible for us. It was almost traumatic. They were behaving in ways that were extremely patriarchal. In the end, we had to stop working with them, and we lost all our code for the first app. Our entire project was ready to go online, and on the day we planned to launch, our collaboration with those tech bros fell apart – the way in which they were behaving was just not acceptable to us as feminists.

“We begged them to give us the work that they had done with our labor for a long time, and we didn’t succeed. So we started from scratch, and this time, we decided not to work with tech bros. And obviously it’s more difficult, because there are more men who know the technology.” Building a digital feminist community that centers survivors and their needs is at the core of Smashboard’s ethos, and that means doing things differently, and a little more slowly, than your average crypto start-up.

“We’ve had enough of misogyny online,” Noopur tells me. 

We want to build trust, we want to be able to actually show that it is easily possible to not punish people that have marginalized identities in the digital space.

“It’s the people who are behind those digital spaces or who are helping that digital space exist that needs to work on feminist principles.” One of the ways Smashboard is achieving that goal is by building a business model that does not rely on harvesting data that could be lost, hacked, or eventually sold.

Taking into account Smashboard’s commitment to holding space and centering the needs of survivors, I asked Noopur how the project tackles the challenge of trust – many users would presumably be unaware of how the underpinning technology that affords them pseudo-anyonymity works, and therefore may be apprehensive about sharing sensitive information.

Noopur is pragmatic; Smashboard isn’t taking on the task of erasing sexual violence, nor does it aim to help every single survivor.  The ‘strength in numbers’ benefits of citizen journalism translate to the building of a robust digital community, and Smashboard’s approach, rather than setting about the impossible task of reaching out to every potential user of the app to convince them and explain the technology, is to build a community of feminist influencers whom survivors independently advocate for the platform and the trustworthiness of the blockchain element.

Smashboard is just one way that survivors of sexual violence in India can make other survivors’ lives a little easier, and help them move forward without being needlessly retraumatized.

Tech solutions to societal problems?

Niki Kandirikirira, Director of Programs at Equality Now, a charitable organization that works to end sexual violence, recognizes the potential benefits of Smashboard while acknowledging the wider social change needed to make a difference on a macro level. She tells me: 

India’s criminal justice system has largely failed survivors of sexual violence. It’s estimated that over 90 percent of rape cases go unreported, with stigma, pressure from family members to remain silent, and victim-blaming all rife.

“Even when cases do make it to court, conviction rates for crimes against women are abysmally low and it is extremely hard for victims to obtain justice, particularly if they are from marginalized communities.”

“Investments in tech like Smashboard offer opportunities for feminists to connect and for survivors to tap into support systems, store evidence safely and, hopefully, improve their access to justice. But, of course, what we ultimately need to invest in, is effective legal responses that put an end to impunity and deter men from raping and violating women and girls. In India, most perpetrators of sexual assault are not held to account for their actions and are able to act with impunity. The government needs to do much more to improve the criminal justice system, including better implementation of existing laws and reform of procedures, and ensuring more funding goes to address gender-based violence.”

Of course, these issues are not unique to India, and the current COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating and intensifying physical and sexual violence against women and girls globally. Quoted in a press release from UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the organization’s Executive Director, says: “Since lockdown restrictions, domestic violence has multiplied, spreading across the world in a shadow pandemic. This is a critical time for action, from prioritizing essential services like shelter and support for women survivors, to providing the economic support and stimulus packages needed for broader recovery.”

LACChain, a regional program from IDB Lab, the innovation laboratory of IDB Group, an organization focused on improving lives in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), has taken aim at the issue in a different way, looking to blockchain for the solution in the form of the BlockchAngel challenge.

“Through BlockchAngel, we are looking for blockchain solutions to stop violence against women, children and the elderly,” explains Itzel Nava Valdez, Organization Coordinator at LACChain. The challenge, organized by IDB Lab, LACChain, and non-profit Everis Foundation, has closed for entries, and an eventual winner will enjoy ‘free, open and preferential access to the infrastructures promoted by LACChain’, and support from IDB to obtain funding.

Itzel continues: “The challenge can involve entrepreneurs, companies, startups, NGOs, or foundations, which can present their proposals either individually or in consortia. The projects can be in prototype phase, or in a more advanced stage of development.” While this challenge is currently focused on solutions for LAC, there could be scope to expand its reach or for the projects themselves to cast their nets wider. Itzel continues: “We believe there are [solutions among those submitted to BlockchAngel] which could be adapted to other countries. The issue is whether or not [the solutions] comply with other legal jurisdictions.”

Other blockchain-based initiatives for women in crisis

UN Women itself is no stranger to exploring the applications of blockchain technology to improve the lives of women in crisis situations.

The organization has previously identified cash transfers using blockchain to boost financial inclusion among women as a way to utilize the technology in a humanitarian setting, partnering with the World Food Program (WFP) to trial an interagency blockchain project, ‘Building Blocks’. The pilot focused on Syrian refugee women in the Azraq and Zaatari camps in Jordan, and a case study on the project describes a potential use-case: “A Syrian woman will soon be able to scan her eye to request cash back at WFP-contracted supermarkets. The scan will link to her account on the blockchain, and the amount of cash dispensed will automatically be sent to Building Blocks.”

The fact that UN Women and WFP validate each other’s transactions through a common blockchain network results in improved security and accountability. This reduces risks and costs, while promoting the increased harmonization of aid efforts.

Additional toes dipped into blockchain’s waters by UN Women include a four-day hackathon in January 2018, during which seven blockchain companies presented humanitarian solutions to participants from UN agencies, permanent missions to the UN, tech communities, humanitarian workers and academic researchers. The strongest of those pitches were invited to submit proposals for field testing. Further to this, a blockchain mobile wallet solution was developed by a private sector partner of UN Women, and was piloted in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. The challenges with these pilot projects and hackathons may be in growing promising seedlings into scalable, adaptable programs.

The most dangerous place on Earth to be a woman

Violence against women and girls and sexual violence in particular may not be confined within India’s borders, but there are unique challenges in a country such as India with conservative laws and values, an oppressive caste system, and a number of archaic laws that punish women and girls disproportionately.

It’s true that the violent rape and murder of Jyoti Singh and the outrage and protests that followed marked a shift in public perception, but the passage of time means momentum can fade. We’re all guilty of it; think of every news headline that has filled you with white hot rage, caused tears to sting your eyes, induced a sickened feeling in the pit in your stomach. Eventually, the cases fade from chyrons, the raw wounds scab over, and the mundanity of everyday life engulfs us.

India is still the most dangerous place on Earth to be a woman. Reporting of sexual violence is estimated to be as low as 1 percent, which may be partly due to the fact that marital rape continues to be legal across the country, with one in three men admitting to raping their wives

Nirbhaya, #MeToo, these movements went some way toward challenging taboos, but the ephemeral fury of an inflammatory news item or the fleeting engagement of a social media post just don’t endure.

Just like Noopur Tiwari’s acknowledgement that projects like Smashboard won’t change the world or eradicate sexual violence and the culturally-ingrained issues and belief structures that allow it to thrive, we can acknowledge blockchain’s limitations as a tool for humanitarian aid as well. Intentions aren’t always pure, risks aren’t always fully considered, and shoehorning in blockchain-as-a-buzzword for its headline grabbing clout leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those fighting for real change.

However, sometimes it’s worth looking at the smaller picture; these solutions do have the capacity to change the entire world. For an individual.


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Who watches the watchmen? Crypto may not be as trustless as it seems

Blockchain technology is great because it cuts out the middleman, removes the need to trust third parties, and gives users full agency over their finances, or true ownership of their wealth. From Bitcoin (BTC) to decentralized finance, blockchain technology has been delivering on this promise for quite some time now — but just how trustless is crypto really?

Cryptocurrencies were created as a result of a lack of trust in the legacy financial system, but as crypto continues to evolve and change, more trust is required: in the developers, miners, exchange operators and other network participants. To some degree, crypto is changing the recipients of trust rather than eliminating the need for it.

Ilya Abugov, lead analyst at DappRadar, told Cointelegraph: “There are still a lot of centralized elements, where users need to trust a particular entity or a group of entities. Even things like delegated voting relies on the delegates acting in the best interest of the community.” So, below is an outline of different areas and examples in which crypto perhaps falls short of its promise of “trustless” technology.

Developers and companies

Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin as a pseudonymous developer and released it into the world, so to speak. Today, Bitcoin is backed by millions of users, thousands of miners and nodes, and much more. To an extent, Bitcoin is the closest thing to “trustless” that crypto has to offer, as no single entity holds “too much power” and the code has been reviewed and used countless times.

There are also thousands of different cryptocurrency projects. From altcoins to initial coin offerings and decentralized finance protocols, crypto comes in all shapes and sizes. Complex smart contracts are the name of the game, and in this case, users must trust the developers creating the applications.

Faulty smart contracts have led to numerous losses, including the hack of The DAO in 2016 and the recent hack of Andre Cronje’s Eminence project. Users can always count on auditors to bring them more security, but once again, trust is required, either in the developers or in the auditors. Abugov told Cointelegraph:

“Sophisticated users and entities may perform code audits. Otherwise, the user just assumes the risk. Trust is an incomplete term here. The developer may be trying in good faith, but still miss vulnerabilities that are then exploited and result in a loss for the user.”

The same can be true when updates or changes to the code are made and users can’t be 100% sure that an update will not lead to a flaw or change the project completely. In the past, this has led to forks such as Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which aimed to keep SegWit out of Bitcoin, or Ethereum Classic (ETC), which was created in protest following the hack of The DAO and subsequent fork to retrieve stolen funds.

So, while some trust is required, this can be somewhat instilled through confidence. When using Bitcoin, there is confidence that it just works due to the amount of peer review the code has received by the community and developers. The same can be true for other projects in crypto; however, the effort and time put into reviewing newer projects will be considerably less than that spent on Bitcoin.

However, it’s worth considering that while most people are not able to review the code themselves, open-source crypto projects offer that possibility, as the technology behind them is completely transparent. Jordan Lazaro Gustave, chief operating officer of Aave — a DeFi protocol on Ethereum — told Cointelegraph:

“Users and developers must trust coders completely and all the time when it comes to everything they interact with daily. However, the difference for DeFi is that everything is auditable and open-source, not like traditional finance.”

Exchanges and tokenization

Arguably, crypto’s biggest point of centralization is the popular exchanges. These account for the main methods through which people acquire and exchange cryptocurrencies, so they are a vital piece of the crypto ecosystem. However, they are reminiscent of banking, where one must trust the exchange operators to hold their funds while trading. Moreover, users also need to trust the exchange with their personal documents and information after the Know Your Customer verification process is completed.

Needless to say, there have been multiple instances in which users would have rather not trusted an exchange — for example, the infamous Mt. Gox collapse, which led to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Since then, there have also been countless hacks of and exit scams on exchanges and projects.

Related: The unluckiest DeFi protocol? A personal take on bZX’s tumultuous year

While people need to trust exchanges, this trust has become spread thin as the community constantly monitors exchange wallets to keep an eye on suspicious activity. The same is true for other parts of the crypto ecosystem, including tokenization. Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), for example, requires the user to trust the people in charge of minting the token and the custodian that will keep the BTC.

While the majority of exchange representatives believe decentralized exchanges will not overtake centralized exchanges in the near future,“Uniswap already has more daily volume than most centralized exchanges,” according to Gustave.

While this is one of the main issues when it comes to crypto centralization, it is also one that has been heavily tackled. Decentralized exchanges allow users to trade cryptocurrencies freely without the need to trust a centralized party to hold their funds and also keep their privacy intact. However, when it comes to converting cryptocurrencies to fiat and vice versa, users must always trust a centralized party to receive or pay out fiat currencies.

Regulation and governments

So, trust is required when interacting both with smart contracts and centralized parts of the cryptosphere such as exchanges. However, crypto users must also be aware of regulation and how it can affect their experience with cryptocurrencies. While in theory crypto can be used by anyone, anywhere, there are multiple restrictions in different countries that can prevent users from using crypto freely.

This means that there needs to be a certain degree of trust in regulatory agencies when investing in crypto. While crypto may just continue to be “tolerated” by governments, that could change in a heartbeat. For example, privacy coins have recently been under fire, with exchanges delisting them preemptively to ensure compliance.

Related: Dash claims ‘inaccurate categorization’ as ShapeShift delists privacy coins

More recently, the United Kingdom’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, banned cryptocurrency derivatives for retail users, which means either trading has to stop or decentralized exchanges have to be used. While this may be a possible way to circumvent the FCA ban in the U.K. and other regulations that may follow, it seems that unless exchanges can find a way to enforce KYC and Anti-Money Laundering policies, they can still be taken down, one way or another. Adam Cochran, partner at Cinneamhain Ventures, tweeted on the matter, citing the precedent established by the recent BitMex lawsuit in the United States:

“DAO or no DAO you can find that developers with admin keys, users who create front-ends, companies hiring individuals to work on the protocol and others who enable or profit from the contract, to be in violation on the BSA. That can lead to seizing domain names and hosting servers, shutting down front-ends, and arresting developers.”

Is crypto trustless?

To put it shortly, it seems “no” is the answer. Cryptocurrencies require a certain degree of trust either in the people creating and maintaining cryptocurrency networks, in on- and off-ramp operators, or even in the regulators that oversee the legality of cryptocurrencies.

However, they require much less trust than any other alternative, and they do so without compromising security and efficiency. Most importantly, Bitcoin users don’t need to trust anyone with their savings. They have full ownership of an asset they know will not be inflated at will and that is the biggest value proposition crypto has to offer.

thai-music-festival-to-use-its-own-token-for-a-cashless-event

Thai music festival to use its own token for a cashless event

A major music festival in Thailand is adopting blockchain for safer, smoother payments.

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Thai music festival to use its own token for a cashless event

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some global events have chosen to move forward as planned. Instead of canceling, they are working to limit close contact between attendees through the introduction of new technologies. One such solution involves a cashless payment system powered by blockchain.

Mystic Valley, one the largest music festivals in Thailand, will be issuing its own token for cashless payments during its upcoming three-day event.

According to a Thursday announcement, Mystic Valley organizers partnered with local cryptocurrency exchange Bitazza and blockchain startup Fuse.io to mint its own crypto token, MYST.

The new token is designed to provide all financial transactions at the festival including payments made to food and drink vendors and merchandisers. The event is scheduled to run from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29 at the Mountain Creek Golf Resort in Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima.

According to the announcement, MYST is intended to eliminate the need for paper money, resulting in a smoother, safer experience for attendees and vendors.

The new cashless payment system is also expected to reduce costly fees charged by major point-of-sale systems. “Network’s $0.01 transaction makes the implementation of cashless payments accessible to any kind of event organizer at [a] fraction of the cost,” the announcement notes.

A spokesperson for the event told Cointelegraph that users will be able to exchange the unused amount of MYST tokens for fiat. “Then they will get a cash or wire transfer refund,” the person added.

Alongside providing a cashless payment system, Mystic Valley also allows attendees to buy their tickets with major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and the stablecoin Tether (USDT), the announcement notes.

The music industry has been closely tied with crypto in recent years. Audius, a Binance-backed decentralized music sharing service, distributed $8 million in governance tokens to musicians and listeners on its platform in late October. In late September, French DJ David Guetta secured a deal with crypto-focused virtual reality platform Sensorium Galaxy.