Slovenia’s Fourth-Largest City is Home to a Bitcoin Roundabout

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Kranj, the fourth-largest city in Slovenia, will soon make history by unveiling the world’s first public Bitcoin monument.

Roundabout Kranj,” as the monument has been officially dubbed, sees a Bitcoin logo placed in the center of the roundabout connecting Oldhamska and Gregorčičeva street, a “connecting point” for the city’s “urban ecosystem.”

The monument was designed by Selman Čorović & KRARH Society and its construction was financed by cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp and tech startup 3fs, both of which are based in Kranj.

According to a statement, this location was chosen to represent the “decentralized connections” that the blockchain creates between individuals located across the globe, adding that the city hopes the Bitcoin monument will send a message that Slovenia embraces digital technologies.

From the statement:

“By revealing the commemorative monument, Slovenia will create and send into the world a message that emphasises its openness to digitization, its susceptibility to the use of new technologies and its hospitality towards progressive thinking, which aims not only at the optimization of everyday life, but also at interpersonal trust, transparency and cooperation. To local residents it will be a reminder of connectivity and of openness to new things — the foundations of a quality life in the future.”

The Bitcoin monument will officially be unveiled on March 13 in a ceremony opened by Kranj Mayor Boštjan Trilar, Slovenia State Secretary Tadej Slapnik, and Bitcoin Association Slovenia president Jure Pirc.

This is not Slovenia’s first attempt to attract more blockchain startups to the country.

As CCN reported, Slovenia Prime Minister Miro Cerar gave a speech last year in which he said that the country was establishing a “national blockchain ecosystem” and hoped to become the “most recognized blockchain destination in the European Union.”

However, the country has not been quite as welcoming to initial coin offerings (ICOs). In October, the Financial Stability Board warned investors that, like other cryptocurrencies, ICO tokens are unregulated, so buyers should “limit their investments” in this asset class. That said, regulators stopped short of adopting regulations to prevent investors from contributing to ICOs.

Featured image from BlockchainMonument.

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Malaysia’s Central Bank Rebukes ICO For Unauthorized Use Of Its Logo

The Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM) officially stated that they do not endorse crypto platform Coinzer and its unlicensed logo design on March 11.

According to BNM’s press release, Coinzer used the unauthorized images of the BNM logo and the Malaysian coat of arms on the physical design proposition for the coin, its white paper, and its website. BNM adds that crypto investments are risky and are not considered legal tender in Malaysia.

Logo

Responding to BNM’s statement, Coinzer announced on their website that they took down the contentious design on March 7:

“We want to clarify that the Coinzer physical coin’s design is based on conceptual design, which are initially intended to be used as a token of appreciation to our partners and contributors. This physical coin design proposal however has been removed from our latest edition of Whitepaper…”

Coinzer’s statement continues, elaborating on their desire to work with the Malaysian government in the crypto and Blockchain sphere.

Even though the industry is relatively unregulated, “regulators in many countries especially Malaysia are aware that this new technology and financial innovation will not only enhance productivity of economic activities, but also make financial intermediation more seamless:”

“Coinzer is working closely with the Malaysian Government and the relevant authorities to acknowledge and approve our operation in Malaysia as well as to help them better understand both Coinzer and the industry more broadly: how cryptocurrency platforms like Coinzer work, how Coinzer will help build a better economy for Malaysia and how other countries are proposing regulation.”

According to the white paper, Coinzer’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) was set for January 1, 2018, consisting first of a private limited pre-sale, then a public pre-sale, and then the ICO, which will last for one month. Coinzer tokens (CZC) are offered at a price of $0.05 per token, with a token cap of 21 bln.

In November 2017, the governor of BNM released a statement announcing that the bank would soon be releasing cryptocurrency regulations that would prevent criminal activity, as well as maintain the stability of the financial system.

At the end of February, the bank announced new anti-money laundering legislation that requires cryptocurrency exchanges in Malaysia to verify their customers’ identities for all trades.

Coincheck Hackers Have Already Laundered 40 Percent of Stolen NEM

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The hackers behind the record-setting Coincheck theft have successfully laundered 40 percent of the approximately 500 million NEM tokens (XEM) they stole from the exchange in January, cybersecurity consultants say.

Citing research from Tokyo-based consultancy group L Plus, Nikkei reports that the hackers have laundered an estimated 200 million XEM, worth $79.3 million on the open market at the time of writing.

However, it is likely the hackers made far less than that figure, as evidence indicates the funds were likely laundered through dark web channels since the NEM Foundation and reputable cryptocurrency exchanges have been working together to blacklist the stolen funds.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has reportedly assigned about 100 police officers to investigate the Coincheck hack, and this task force has identified suspicious activity at the exchange in the weeks leading up to the theft.

Apparently, the hackers infiltrated Coincheck’s servers by hacking an employee’s email account, after which they were able to gain access to the private key to the platform’s NEM hot wallet, from which they stole 500 million XEM — worth $530 million at the time of the hack but just $198 million today.

An unnamed source familiar with the investigation told Nikkei that the laundered funds, which have largely been traded for Bitcoin, will likely eventually be converted into fiat currency. It is unclear whether any of stolen funds have already been cashed out.

The identity of the hackers also remains a mystery, although previous reports have said that the attack bore similarities to cyber attacks that have been linked to North Korean state-sponsored hackers.

Japanese financial regulators have ramped up their oversight of cryptocurrency exchanges in response to the hack, and the country’s licensed trading platforms have announced that they will form a self-regulatory body that, if approved by the government, will have enforcement power over its members.

As CCN reported, Coincheck intends to resume trading this week following a government-mandated overhaul of its security systems.

The exchange will also begin compensating the estimated 260,000 customers who lost funds as the result of the hack. Notably, users will be compensated in fiat at a rate of nearly 89 JPY (~$0.83) per token, which is more than double the present XEM/JPY exchange rate.

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‘Cryptomatoes’ Grows 5 Acres Of Fruit From Bitcoin Mining Heat

The co-founder of Czech cryptocurrency exchange NakamotoX will launch a Blockchain startup based on growing edible crops from excess mining heat.

In a Twitter discussion March 10, Kamil Brejcha said staff had created bespoke housing for Bitcoin servers, which harnesses heat and sends it to greenhouses currently growing tomatoes.

The project, which will soon be accompanied by a new business called Agritechture, has been in stealth mode but has now delivered its first crop – a five-acre greenhouse full of tomatoes dubbed ‘Cryptomatoes.’

We are using the excess heat for the tomato greenhouse and it is working,” Brejcha confirmed.

The issue surrounding the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining, as well as what to do with the excess heat it generates, have become a major topic of debate both inside and outside the industry this year.

In growing the crops, Brejcha says, the “energy cycle loop” for the project is closed, as mining activities use energy from biowaste.

You will be able to buy (cryptomatoes) in common shops soon but I cannot reveal more details about the brand now,” he added.

While neither the first agricultural or even tomato-based crypto technology implementation, Agritechture would appear to demonstrate the scale on which mining energy can be recycled.

Brejcha said there had initially been plans to grow medical marijuana, but legislative hurdles forced him to focus on more orthodox crops.

Unfortunately, because of local strict rules, we were unable to obtain a license for medical (marijuana) growing so we had to choose tomatoes and other vegetables instead,” he admitted.

Bitcoin Price Charges Toward $10,000 as Bulls Regain Footing

Bitcoin price rally
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The Bitcoin price charged back toward $10,000 on Monday as the bulls began to regain their footing following last week’s downturn.

Bitcoin Price Charges Toward $10,000 as Bulls Regain Footing

Bitcoin began the week on a high note, climbing nine percent to approximately $9,800 on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex.

This bullish pivot reversed some of the damage from last week’s correction, which saw the Bitcoin price sink as low as $8,342 on March 9 after peaking at $11,700 just four days prior.

Bitcoin now has a $166.8 billion market cap, which translates into a 42.1 percent share of total cryptocurrency market cap.

bitcoin priceBTC Price Chart

At present, Bitcoin’s trading volume very well distributed, with no single trading pair accounting for more than 10 percent of the coin’s global volume.

Notably, a slight spread has opened up between Bitcoin’s USD and KRW pairs, as BTC/USD is trading consistently at $9,800 across Bitfinex, GDAX, and Bitstamp, while South Korea-based Upbit and Bithumb each price it above an equivalent value of $10,140. While not exactly a return of the “kimchi premium,” this indicates that demand among Korean investors remains strong despite the introduction of regulatory measures meant to cool off the markets.

bitcoin priceSource: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin Recovers from Mt. Gox Panic

Last week’s Bitcoin price dive correlated with a “perfect storm” of bearish factors.

As CCN reported, US regulators took several shots at initial coin offerings (ICOs). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned cryptocurrency exchanges that it is “unlawful” for them to list ICO tokens the SEC deems to be securities. Meanwhile, a newly-released Treasury Department letter suggested that ICO operators may have to comply with bank-grade reporting requirements and anti-money laundering regulations. Though targeted specifically at ICOs, these developments injected a bearish sentiment into the wider cryptocurrency markets.

Moreover, news broke that the Mt. Gox trustee had liquidated more than $400 million worth of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash on cryptocurrency exchanges over the previous several months. While it is debatable to what extent this sale had a meaningful effect on the Bitcoin price during the recent market correction,  the fact that the trustee continues to hold nearly $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency — and has demonstrated a willingness to sell on exchanges, rather than through the over-the-counter (OTC) services typically exercised by large-scale buyers and sellers — further worsened the mood among investors.

However, it appears that traders oversold these developments, as the Bitcoin price has once again proved buoyant in the face of adversity.

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South Carolina Wants To Ban Genesis Mining Over Unregistered Securities

Lawmakers in South Carolina asked cryptocurrency cloud mining platform Genesis Mining to leave the state due to selling “unlicensed securities” Friday, March 9.

A cease and desist order filed by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office Securities Division claims Genesis, which is registered in Hong Kong, along with Zurich-based partner enterprise Swiss Gold Global, illegally served residents with unregistered mining contracts.

At no time… was Swiss Gold Global registered with the Division as a broker-dealer, and no exemption from registration has been claimed,” the order reads.

“At no time… were the securities at issue registered with the Division or federal covered securities.”

The order marks the latest in a string of US state-level requests for various cryptocurrency actors to withdraw their services. Texas and New Jersey have both issued cease and desist requests in recent weeks, these nonetheless pertaining to businesses with questionable reputations and history.

Most recently, the ICO endorsed by Steven Seagal was asked to quit New Jersey’s jurisdiction.

In February, lawmakers at national level promised to continue monitoring the providence of any cryptocurrency-related offering available to US citizens.

South Carolina demands Swiss and Genesis not only halt operations within its borders, but pay an “appropriate civil penalty for the wrongdoing.”

Both companies have yet to provide official comment on the matter.  

Cryptocurrency Market Moves Closer to $400 Billion as Bitcoin Surges 14%

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Over the past 24 hours, the cryptocurrency market has sustained strong momentum, moving closer to the $400 billion region. Led by bitcoin, many major cryptocurrencies have recorded large gains since March 11.

Bitcoin Up 14%

Bitcoin, the most dominant cryptocurrency in the market, has recorded a gain of over 14 percent since yesterday, rising from $8,400 to $9,800. On both cryptocurrency-only exchanges like Binance and cryptocurrency-to-fiat exchanges like Bitfinex, bitcoin demonstrated strong volumes, despite its struggles last week, amidst the Mt. Gox bitcoin sell off.

The rise in the price of bitcoin and the momentum it has started to build over the past few days are likely triggered by optimistic developments within the cryptocurrency industry, and a prolonged recovery from the long-lasting correction since January.

Major businesses in South Korea including the country’s largest hotel booking platform Yeogi Eottae and leading e-commerce platform WeMakePrice have began integrating cryptocurrencies in collaboration with Bithumb, the biggest cryptocurrency trading platform in South Korea.

While it may require several months for the two influential businesses to start accepting cryptocurrencies, Bithumb spokesperson stated that the integration of cryptocurrencies by the two companies will lead to other major businesses in the country accepting cryptocurrencies in the near future.

Already, Kakao, the largest internet conglomerate in South Korea that operates KakaoTalk, KakaoPay, KakaoTaxi, KakaoStory, Dunamoo (UpBit), and many other subsidiaries that remain in dominant control over their respective industries and markets, have initiated the integration process of cryptocurrencies.

As CCN reported, the integration of cryptocurrencies by Kakao will allow 12,000 merchants using KakaoPay to accept cryptocurrencies with ease, millions of users on KakaoTaxi, KakaoPay, and potentially KakaoTalk, to send and receive cryptocurrencies, and tens of millions of consumers to utilize cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

Previously, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz stated that in order for cryptocurrencies to “survive,” retailers will need to adopt them as a means of payment. Schultz said:

“I personally believe that there is going to be a one or a few legitimate trusted digital currencies off of the blockchain technology. And that legitimacy and trust in terms of its consumer application will have to be legitimized by a brand and a brick and mortar environment, where the consumer has trust and confidence in the company that is providing the transaction.”

The adoption of cryptocurrencies by businesses in South Korea and Japan could lead to massive adoption, especially for major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum.

Short-Term

The long-term growth of bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies is optimistic, given the progress markets like South Korea and Japan have shown in recent months.

In the short-term, analysts remain divided on the trend of bitcoin and the market. Some argue that the price of bitcoin could spike to $12,000 and initiate a strong rally towards its previous levels, while other investors argue that bitcoin would require more time to recover fully from its correction.

But, it is evident that the market is leading towards bitcoin in a highly volatile period like this, as newcomers enter the market.

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Thomson Reuters To Begin Tracking BTC Market Chatter To Help Traders

Canadian mass media and information company Thomson Reuters has announced the launch of a Bitcoin (BTC) sentiment data feed, according to a Thomson Reuters press release published today, March 12.

The release states that through the partnership of Thomson Reuters and MarketPsych Data LLC, the company is releasing a new version of its MarketPsych Indices that will now scan more than 400 news and media sites related to cryptocurrencies for its feed.

Austin Burkett, the Global Head of Quant and Feeds at Thomson Reuters, said in a statement:

“News and social media are driving the investment and risk management process more than ever with the continuing rise of passive and quant-driven trading. As the financial marketplace rises in complexity, so too does the need to provide our clients with not only the relevant data, but the tools to help them manage and analyze that data.”

Google Trends data shows that searches for the term “Bitcoin” coincide almost directly with Bitcoin’s price, showing that the virtual nature of cryptocurrency means that what happens online is connected to crypto prices, even if it not necessarily a direct cause and effect.

Thomson Reuters has previously interacted with the cryptocurrency sphere, for in July of 2017, the company announced the formation of a new startup tech incubator that supports innovation in Blockchain technologies.

Thailand Law to Regulate [Legalize] Cryptocurrency, ICO Markets Coming in April

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The governor of Thailand’s central bank has confirmed an upcoming law to ‘comprehensively regulate’ cryptocurrency as a former Thai finance minister throws his support behind the idea.

Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob has revealed details of a meeting between the country’s deputy prime minister, finance minister and other related agencies last week wherein the regulators reportedly agreed to ‘enact a new law to comprehensively regulate’ cryptocurrencies.

The central bank chief added that the new law – which will look to grant Thailand’s ICO-friendly Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) total regulatory powers – is expected to be finalized in a month’s time.

To this end, SEC secretary-general Rapee Sucharitakul has revealed that a ‘royal decree’ is commonly seen as the path to empower the SEC to regulate ‘all aspects’ of the crypto sector including cryptocurrency exchanges, ICO fundraising.

As reported in September, Thailand’s SEC revealed an encouragingly embracive outlook toward initial coin offerings, stressing it “realizes the potential of ICO” in bringing new forms of funding for businesses and startups. The SEC has since seen the drafts of its ICO regulatory framework released for public consultation, twice extended, complete its final round on January 22, the report revealed.

The idea has gained support from a former Thai finance minister and current FinTech proponent Korn Chatikavanij. Serving as Thailand’s finance minister from 2008 to 2011, Korn has previously been recognized as the ‘Global Finance Minister of the Year’  in 2010 after charting a course for the economy through the global financial crisis at the time. The Democrat Party politician now sees a role as chairman of the Thai FinTech Association, a Bangkok-based startup accelerator that also serves as a testing lab for FinTech startups looking to carve an entry into the domestic market.

In an interview last week, the chairman spoke of discussions between the body and Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Bank of Thailand (the central bank) and the Finance Ministry with a focus on regulation for the cryptocurrency sector brought on by the SEC.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Korn reveals a concentrated effort to have the SEC, not the financial ministry or the central bank, be the sole authority responsible for introducing regulation for the sector.

“I agree with the Finance Ministry’s [view] of letting the SEC be the only organisation governing digital assets, because it already oversees securities and has a profound understanding of digital assets,” Korn said.

The former finance minister added:

“Digital assets are new for everyone, and no one knows everything [about them], so all parties should be open-minded, learn about them and have proper rules and regulations.”

So far, market participants have gotten on-board with the SEC’s floated mandatory “investment participation” requirement wherein ICO operators must have the offering originate in Thailand with capital of up to 5 million baht (approx. $160,000) registered as the minimum.

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John Oliver Compares Bitcoin With Bitconnect, Ridicules Tapscott’s ‘Dumb’ McNugget Metaphor

Comedian John Oliver tried to explain Bitcoin March 11 – with the help of a fake BitConnect promoter Carlos Matos and Don Tapscott comparing the Blockchain to a Chicken McNugget.

In the latest episode of the US-based host’s Last Week Tonight television show, Bitcoin, Blockchain and investing in cryptocurrency all came under the spotlight.

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The feature comes just weeks after fellow US host Ellen DeGeneres attempted to explain Bitcoin to mainstream audiences, comparing it to a baby goat.

Oliver began by attempting to define the nature of decentralized networks, noting their advantages over banks in terms of cost and security, but the segment soon took a questionable turn.

Inviting the fake Matos to the stage, Oliver failed to question his investment advice. This included not “just blindly hodling” coins bought. The real Carlos Matos himself has been the face of de facto defunct BitConnect before appearing to U-turn on his support.

The crypto market is extremely volatile and insufficiently regulated – they pump, they dump,” ‘Matos’ added.

BitConnect hit the headlines in January when it closed down almost its entire operation following revelations it was a suspected Ponzi scheme.

Prior to summoning his fake Matos, Oliver had shown a clip of a more reputable source in the form of investor Don Tapscott explaining why Bitcoin is so difficult to hack.

The Blockchain is a highly-processed thing – sort of like a Chicken McNugget,” he said. “And if you wanted to hack, it’d be like turn a Chicken McNugget back into a chicken.”

Oliver described Tapscott’s words as an “extremely dumb metaphor.”