Bitcoin Risks Turning Bearish Due to Declining Market Health, Says Glassnode

Bitcoin Risks Turning Bearish Due to Declining Market Health, Says GlassnodeBitcoin (BTC) risks sliding back into bearish territory should onchain activity and overall market health continue to decline, warns analytics firm Glassnode. The latest market update from Glassnode shows that the GNI index, which measures the overall state of the Bitcoin network, dropped 18% or 13 points week-on-week, to a value of 60 points. Simultaneously, […]

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Bank of Lithuania Envisions Future Cross-Industry Blockchain Platform

The Bank of Lithuania has revealed ambitious long-term plans to develop its blockchain platform for use beyond the financial services sector.

The Bank of Lithuania (BoL) has revealed ambitious long-term plans to develop its blockchain platform for use beyond the financial services sector.

On May 26, the central bank’s blockchain-based sandbox, LBChain project, completed its third and final stage. 

In a wrap-up meeting this morning, BoL’s blockchain project manager Andrius Adamonis said that the bank ultimately envisions moving beyond LBChain to develop a future “LTChain” — short for Lithuania Chain —  that would have non-financial applications.

This future LTChain would see the bank cooperating with other public institutions and seeking to attract start-ups from non-financial sectors, including energy, healthcare and transportation.

Bank of Lithuania plans to launch LBChain in Q4 2020

In the short term, Adamonis revealed that the central bank has plans to launch LBChain in the fourth quarter of this year, as well as to finalize its commercial procurement with the fintechs and service providers currently involved in the LBChain project.

In its earliest stage, the BoL had selected Deloitte, IBM and Tieto to work with fintechs on developing and testing their solutions. In fall 2019, the bank chose IBM and Tieto to proceed as finalists vying to develop the LBChain platform itself.

Adamonis noted that in response to feedback from the financial services sector, the bank had focused R&D on permissioned systems rather than on public blockchains, choosing therefore to base LBChain on R3’s Corda and Hyperledger Fabric.

The five fintechs that were selected to take part in the third and final stage of the sandbox presented the results of their testing at the meeting today. 

Their projects include a solution for blockchain-based regulatory reporting, a blockchain platform for green bond issuance, and a blockchain-based digital bank.

Throughout its three stages, the sandbox has enabled 11 fintechs from eight different countries to conduct blockchain-focused research in a controlled regulatory environment.

Adamonis said the project had been successful in attracting foreign investment, spurring cooperation with academic institutions and deepening the bank’s technological capacities with blockchain. 

Going forward, he said the BoL seeks to attract more international start-ups and to strengthen its public-private collaborations.

At the end of last year, the BoL also revealed its plans to release a digital, blockchain-based collector coin dedicated to commemorating Lithuania’s Act of Independence in 1918.

Goldman Sachs Hosting Bitcoin Call as Institutional Interest in Cryptocurrency Surges

Goldman Sachs Hosting Bitcoin Call as Institutional Interest in Cryptocurrency SurgesAs interest in cryptocurrency grows among institutional investors, global investment banks, like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, are reexamining their views about bitcoin. Goldman Sachs is hosting a call for its clients to learn about the implications of current policies for bitcoin, gold, and inflation. Goldman Sachs’ Bitcoin Call for Clients New York City-headquartered investment […]

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Turkish Stablecoin Receives Spot Listing on BTSE Exchange

The Turkish stablecoin BiLira has received a spot listing on BTSE, offering a new on-ramp for Turkish investors to access crypto markets.

Over-the-counter and cryptocurrency futures exchange BTSE today launched support for BiLira’s Turkish stablecoin TRYB. TRYB can now be traded against Tether (USDT) on BTSE’s spot markets.

Cointelegraph spoke to BiLira and BTSE to find out more about what the listing means for Turkey’s burgeoning cryptocurrency sector.

BTSE co-founder and CEO Jonathan Leong stated that the listing “enables Turkish users to facilitate lower fees via remittances, as well as instantaneous settlement times for TRYB users.”

Leong told Cointelegraph that BTSE entered the Turkish market earlier this year, stating that the exchange has garnered “a strong and growing community in Turkey.” 

He also noted “an increase in demand for onboarding options through the Turkish Lira,” prompting the decision to list the TRYB stablecoin.

BiLira is the 19th crypto asset for which BTSE has introduced pairings.

Turkey is ripe for crypto adoption

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Vidal Artditi, BiLira’s COO, predicted that Turkey will emerge as a leading jurisdiction within the global blockchain industry, emphasizing high levels of crypto literacy and adoption among the general population.

Anecdotally, he reports that Turkey’s citizens predominantly use crypto assets for trading and to hedge risk. Arditi asserts that trading is a fundamental part of Turkish culture, stating that “the cultural nuances of [Turkey] really resonate with blockchain and cryptocurrency.”

“Mobile penetration in this country is north of 90% […] You can use QR codes and you can use your mobile banking app for pretty much anything,” he adds.

“We’re not here to create a bubble”

Despite emphasizing the strong Turkish trading traditions, Artditi emphasized that BiLira “is not here to create speculation”

“We’re not here to create a bubble. We’re here to create real use cases, which is why we’ve set up our system and our platform in a way that people can buy up to 100,000 euro per month without paying even a lira on commissions,” he said.

“It’s to be able to make it as easily accessible, even if it’s going to be damaging financially to our company in the short term. Just to make sure we highlight the value proposition of this product and how it can really change the lives of these people.” 

“There are a lot of immigrants who live in this country who send paychecks every week to their families in different countries. There are people who don’t necessarily have a bank account who would like and can transfer [this] cryptocurrency with a few clicks of a button,” Artditi added.

This Is Not Capitalism: How Covid-19 Shined a Light on America’s Fascist System

This Is Not Capitalism: How Covid-19 Shined a Light on America’s Fascist SystemIn the last few months, giant American corporations and financial incumbents that are subsidized by the U.S. government, have profited immensely during the coronavirus outbreak. This has caused certain groups of people and those who despise wealth to claim that “capitalism is broken.” However, today’s system, that’s currently practiced in the U.S. and many other […]

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Industry at a Crossroads, Crypto Enters Fourth Phase of Development

A recent Andreessen Horowitz report says crypto is in its growth stage, but critics say the industry is yet to create end-use value.

The crypto space is well over a decade old with more than 5,500 different cryptocurrencies and a market capitalization north of $250 billion. Researchers at American venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz say the 11-year old industry is in its fourth supercycle with the three previous epochs culminating in distinct developments that have gone on to shape the market as a whole.

In a report issued earlier in May, the VC firm posited that despite the apparently chaotic nature of the crypto market, each previous cycle has proceeded in roughly the same order. According to the report, every new stage begins with a massive increase in Bitcoin’s (BTC) price that triggers renewed interest in cryptos leading to the emergence of new ideas and startups.

However, there is an argument to be made over whether these thousands of crypto and blockchain projects have succeeded in ensuring any tangible value creation for end-users. For some pundits, apart from speculative investments, cryptocurrencies are not useful for much else.

Given that the industry is only 11 years old, some of the criticism may be premature. Seeing as the emerging crypto space mirrors the early days of the internet, the current challenges being posed by trying to navigate the decentralization, scalability and security trilemma may be little more than growing pains for a digital assets ecosystem still in its infancy.

Summary of the three past crypto cycles

According to the report, the first crypto cycle took place from 2009 to 2012 with mining pools and crypto exchanges being the highlights of the epoch. During this period, Bitcoin remained mostly within the confines of the cryptography and cypherpunk community as an elegant solution to the double-spending problem that had plagued previous attempts at digital money.

The ability to transfer value trustlessly — i.e., without the need for a central intermediary — likely attracted many of the early BTC adopters. An interesting piece of Bitcoin history from this period comes from the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Posting on the Bitcointalk forum back in December 2010, Nakamoto discouraged WikiLeaks from adopting Bitcoin after major payment gateways like Visa, PayPal and Mastercard began to deny services to WikiLeaks.

Some in the nascent Bitcoin community saw any association with WikiLeaks as a growth opportunity for BTC. In response to the debate at the time, Nakamoto wrote:

“No, ‘don’t bring it on’. The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way. I make this appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy.”

The second growth phase between 2012 and 2016 saw crypto begin to permeate the larger tech space. In October 2013, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down the Silk Road darknet marketplace. Like the Andreessen Horowitz research report details, seeds planted in one epoch tend to drive up some aspects of the adoption seen in the following growth phase. Before Silk Road became a reality in 2011, a Bitcointalk forum poster named ‘teppy’ outlined a proposal to use Bitcoin in a hypothetical dark web-hosted heroin store.

The details of Bitcoin’s association with illegal drug trafficking isn’t the focus here, but it suffices to say that it served to catapult BTC beyond the cypherpunk community. Many developers drawn to the perceived potentials in blockchain technology entered the space and thus came the first wave of altcoin projects like Ethereum.

The initial coin offering mania of 2017 and 2018 was arguably the highlight of the third epoch — 2016 to 2019 — as developers and entrepreneurs tried to convince investors that their project was “the next Bitcoin.” BTC itself also set what is still its all-time highest price of about $19,800 in mid-December 2017. This third epoch saw the expansion of the crypto space beyond the creation of peer-to-peer cash systems into infrastructures like decentralized finance and decentralized apps.

What about actual value creation?

Early on in its emergence, the word “disruption” was almost always included in any mention of crypto and blockchain technology. The premise was that decentralized systems would disrupt several facets of the global business process dominated by centralized infrastructure.

Amid the expanding cast of projects and startups, some critics say cryptocurrencies are only useful as a speculative play — as an asset to hold in the expectation that its price increases in the future. Beyond the premise of the “greater fool theory,” the crypto skeptics believe tokens create no additional value for end-users.

Bitcoin proponents typically counter these assertions by pointing out BTC’s increasing utilization in cross-border transfers. For fees as measly as pennies to the dollar, Bitcoin allows users to transfer value across continents in a matter of minutes when bank wires would normally take days and come with a hefty fee.

The above use case, while arguably being prosaic, takes on a greater significance when viewed in the context of Bitcoin acting as a scarce digital wealth capsule in a time when government monetary policies appear to be wavering. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the offshore banking industry is believed to be worth more than $30 trillion.

Additionally, and despite its price volatility, Bitcoin is the best-performing asset of the decade and is leading the way in 2020 as well. This year, while major U.S. banking stocks are in the red, the largest crypto by market capitalization has printed a 30% price gain for holders.

Related: Defining Bitcoin: Money, Currency or Store of Value

Within the value creation argument for cryptos comes the need to define what exactly constitutes an acceptable set of parameters for judging the success of a digital asset project. For example, is Bitcoin’s emerging status as a safe haven asset and a convenient vehicle for cross-border transactions not akin to tangible value?

Critics of the reasoning above will point to Bitcoin’s limited scope of merchant adoption, which indeed applies for virtually all “payment” cryptos. Blockchains have so far appeared unable to scale sufficiently to enable broad-based retail adoption. For Jerry Chan, the CEO of TAAL, a blockchain service company, the focus on Bitcoin’s value as a store of wealth has taken away from developing useful payment projects. In an email to Cointelegraph, Chan remarked:

“We haven’t seen a focus on transactions on Bitcoin in the past, because the system in this market has historically been handicapped by limited block size, thus limiting its transactional processing capabilities. Instead, the focus has been exclusively on the monetary aspects of Bitcoin, namely that it is a stateless money, and nothing else.”

What will be the likely highlights of the fourth epoch?

Going by the Andreessen Horowitz report, the crypto space is currently in its fourth cycle and if history repeats itself, the current epoch should take effect following a BTC price gain that would renew interest for the creation of new projects. According to TAAL’s Chan, crypto projects that focus on transaction processing will be the main focus of the current cycle going forward: “In the next couple of years, we can expect to see the transaction processing businesses take center stage,” adding:

“The supercycle that we are now entering will be one where the processors that can handle more transactions, or develop innovative ways to serve new emerging transaction use cases and profiles, will be the ones that earn more share of the available transaction fees, which will incentivize them to continue building and supporting the infrastructure of the network.”

For Thor Chan, the CEO of crypto exchange AAX, the current cycle is going to be all about established platforms coming into greater compliance with regulatory standards. According to the AAX CEO, crypto businesses have been working toward building trust with not only investors but with government agencies, adding:

“It’s about getting security right, connecting to solid custody service providers, deploying market surveillance technology to protect the integrity of the markets, and then there’s the workaround optimising fiat on and off-ramps as well as the practical utility of cryptocurrencies in everyday life. We are seeing advances being made across all these sectors and together they are setting the scene for the next phase of growth.”

In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Emin Gün Sirer, a professor of computer science at Cornell University and the founder of Ava Labs, opined that the current crypto epoch will seek to solve issues neglected by the earlier generation of cryptocurrencies:

“The next cycle will revolve around ‘asset digitization,’ where mainstream financial professionals realize that issuing both physically-backed  (e.g., gold, real estate, commodities and the like) and purely financial (e.g., corporate debt instruments, CDSs, etc.) digital assets on blockchains confers enormous benefits. What is needed is an Internet of Finance, where any asset can be issued in a way that captures its unique properties, managed throughout its lifecycle in a legally compliant manner, and traded across the globe.”

Which direction to go?

On the subject of value creation for crypto projects, there is clearly a division between the pundits as some argue that the movement itself has been derailed from its original goals. For Fernando Gutierrez, the CMO of Dash (DASH) Core Group, the cryptocurrency space is losing the plot by pivoting away from building efficient payment infrastructure and focusing on tokenization:

“Payments is a use case that the traditional financial system has not fully solved where crypto can add a lot of value, especially in a world where digital is the only option, and borders are harder limits than they used to be. Everyone does many payments every day, yet many crypto projects try to solve funky problems that only happen when you margin trade a tokenised asset collateralised by a stablecoin that is obscurely backed by fiat money.”

Building efficient crypto-based payment systems will involve finding a solution to the scalability problem. For Sirer, the ability to operate at scale is cryptocurrency’s major challenge, adding: “None of the existing blockchains scale, and to the extent that people claim to scale, they do so by compromising decentralization.”

For TAAL’s Chan, the current issues in the crypto space stem from Bitcoin not being representative of its original purpose as developers agave been creating projects that range from alternative money systems to directly compete with fiat currencies to solving unnecessary problems. According to Chan, a fully functioning Bitcoin negates the need for the entire altcoin market, declaring:

“Altcoins shouldn’t be platforms, they should be applications built on-top-of Bitcoin. But because BTC ‘lost the plot,’ they started off on their own to build a blockchain with each use case. That is equivalent to creating a new internet protocol and payment system for every online application that needs to be developed. It makes very little sense.”

Steven Pu, the CEO and a co-founder of Taraxa, a platform looking to deploy blockchain technology for internet of things solutions, highlighted DApps as an area where the crypto movement is getting it wrong. According to Pu, the insistence of creating completely decentralized platforms is getting in the way of developers creating easy-to-use applications, as he told Cointelegraph:

“DApps will not gain widespread adoption until they offer excellent user experience, which includes performance on par with centralized systems and minimizing exposing users to blockchain’s underlying complexities — e.g., managing private keys. The ‘complete’ privacy offered by completely decentralized systems almost never offer anywhere close to good enough user experience to gain adoption, so some compromises need to be made.”

At the start of 2020, Cointelegraph reported that user retention was still a major issue for DApps. With many apps having difficult-to-navigate user interfaces, projects seem unable to continue directing user traffic to their products.

For Zach Resnick, a managing partner at crypto VC firm Unbounded Capital, only projects able to successfully solve the blockchain trilemma will become dominant in the emerging cryptocurrency landscape. In an email to Cointelegraph, Resnick posited:

“There is utility in being a store of value as well a highly efficient payment system. Further, there is utility in being able to store large amounts of data or perform complex computations. For all of these functions, scale increases the utility. I think scale is highly underrated by the broad blockchain community, and that trustlessness and censorship resistance are highly overrated.”

Russia Proposes Law That Criminalizes Buying Bitcoin With Cash, Offenders Face 7 Years in Jail

Russia Proposes Law That Criminalizes Buying Bitcoin With Cash, Offenders Face 7 Years in JailRussian lawmakers have proposed new laws that seek to ban the use of bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies in the country, local media reported. According to draft bills submitted by a group of deputies to the Russian parliament recently, individuals may face up to seven years in prison and fines of up to $7,000 for […]

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‘Coinbase Listings’ Return: 200% OmiseGo Pump and Dump Raises Eyebrows

The launch of support for OmiseGo sees an 80% trading premium, a sudden price breakout and renewed accusations of insider trading.

Controversy has returned to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase after an altcoin it listed surged 200% in 15 minutes — only to crash immediately afterward.

Currently a topic of interest on social media, Coinbase’s listing of OmiseGo (OMG), the 34th ranked cryptocurrency by market capitalization, also sparked familiar accusations of insider trading.

Coinbase ‘premium’ reaches 80%

“OmiseGO (OMG) is launching at and in the iOS and Android apps within the next 15 minutes,” the company tweeted on May 21. 

The first day’s trading was marked by OMG trading at a significant premium over other exchanges, notably Binance. At one point, the premium reached 82% on five-minute closing prices.

Matt Casto, an analyst at crypto asset trading group CMT Digital, described the situation as “ridiculous” and argued that the premium was creating “new lifetime bagholders.”

One 15-minute period further saw a 200% price increase, after which the altcoin almost immediately crashed.

OMG/USD chart showing Coinbase premium versus Binance

OMG/USD chart showing Coinbase premium versus Binance. Source: Matt Casto/ Twitter

A history of dubious launches

Coinbase has yet to provide public comment on the criticism, which for longtime traders will be reminiscent of previous altcoin launches by the exchange. 

Perhaps most notorious was Coinbase’s support of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which began climbing in price even before any public announcement of the exchange supporting it. This in turn led to accusations of insider trading, and even an investigation by Coinbase itself, which ultimately found no evidence of foul play. 

This time, however, commentators noted that OMG likewise began its uptrend before an official announcement — as far as seven days prior.

“When will accountability be held? Tell me it is just coincidence or is it insider trading,” Twitter account Crypto Pilot responded. 

OMG goes live on Coinbase on May 21, but for some unknown reason it started a 65% rise on May 14, 7 days ago.

At press time, OMG trading prices across exchanges had stabilized to around $1.90 per coin.

Bitcoin Worth $282K from the 2016 Bitfinex Hack on the Move

Bitcoin Worth $282K from the 2016 Bitfinex Hack on the MoveThe cryptocurrency community has noticed a number of bitcoins from the August 2, 2016, Bitfinex breach has been moved. A small 30 BTC transaction ($282,000) from the stash has moved from the hacker’s address to an unknown bitcoin address. The last time coins from the Bitfinex incident moved was June and August 2019, as the […]

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Don’t Buy Bitcoin, Says Wealth Exec as Lebanon Chooses BTC Over Fiat

Bitcoin and gold are “too speculative” and it’s better for investors to trust the government to pay them back, claims Peter Mallouk.

Bitcoin (BTC) is not what young investors should buy after the coronavirus crash, says the man who once said that the biggest cryptocurrency faces an “inevitable death spiral.”

Speaking to CNBC on May 21, Peter Mallouk, president and chief investment officer at wealth management firm Creative Planning, claimed that stocks and bonds were better options than Bitcoin and even gold. 

Mallouk: “no need” to buy Bitcoin or gold

“There is no need to go over into the speculative world,” he told the network, arguing that assets such as Bitcoin and gold “see a lot more booms and busts.”

Basically, we define ‘speculative’ as anything that doesn’t produce income and bring it to you as an investor.

Mallouk was speaking as Bitcoin far outperformed stocks, bonds, oil and gold year-to-date. As Cointelegraph reported, the cryptocurrency’s 2020 performance has no comparison, having entirely erased the losses from its crash which also took down traditional markets. Their recovery, however, has been much less certain.

Even Mallouk himself appeared to doubt the appeal of his own advice. While recommending buying bonds, he could not avoid mentioning the amount of blind faith required in the issuer. 

“If you’re loaning money to a company or government, that company or government is promising to pay you back,” he continued.

It’s no different from loaning money to your brother — hopefully, your brother’s really economically stable, you loan him money, he’s going to pay you back.

Macro asset performance in 2020

Macro asset performance in 2020. Source: Skew

It is precisely this lack of the need to trust that Bitcoin has become the top investment available in terms of its “hardness” as money. Unlike with fiat, companies or bonds, there is no need to worry whether the actions of a small number of people will destroy an investment’s value.

Lebanese investors vote for BTC

Lay consumers have once again been voting against fiat investment en masse and in favor of Bitcoin this week. According to a survey of Lebanese residents currently circulating on Twitter, 57.5% of the 6,661 respondents would prefer to receive their salary in Bitcoin.

The sentiment comes as the value of the local currency, the Lebanese pound, continues to freefall. Earlier this month, a dollar peg in place since 1997 vanished, adding to the rout.

At the same time, Gemini co-founder Tyler Winklevoss is sounding the alarm over governments’ gold buying strategies. The Bank of England blocking access to Venezuela’s reserves “may cause some governments to rethink their gold strategy,” he argued on Thursday.

Mallouk meanwhile is convinced that Bitcoin will fail. In December 2018, around the time that BTC/USD hit lows of $3,100, he said that for him, “Bitcoin is dead.”

“It won’t go quietly, but the recent precipitous drop may be the beginning of its inevitable and inexorable death spiral. Or there could be a dead cat bounce,” he wrote in Forbes. 

Either way, I see bitcoin as a dead man walking.

According to the current count of such “obituaries” by 99Bitcoins, Bitcoin has now died and come back to life 380 times.

Bitcoin Futures, Options, and Open Interest: Crypto Derivatives Break Records After the Halving 

Since the market rout on March 12, otherwise known as ‘Black Thursday,’ bitcoin futures and options contracts have seen significant demand. On May 14, CME Group saw the total number of outstanding derivatives contracts (open interest) touch a high of $142 million. Four days later, CME broke records again. Data from the researchers at […]

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People Are Removing the Most Bitcoin From Exchanges Since 2018 Bottom

Exchange reserves hit an 18-month bottom while miners keep selling despite lower revenues after the halving.

Bitcoin (BTC) is failing to retake $10,000 due to a fresh wave of miner selling, fresh data suggests ten days after the halving.

Compiled by monitoring resource CryptoQuant, the figures show that over the past five days, combined outflows from BTC mining pools spiked 600% — from 1,066 BTC to 7,426 BTC on May 20. 

Bitcoin miners sell into $10,000

The change mimics that seen in the week before the halving on May 11, when miner outflows increased from around 2,100 BTC to a high of nearly 5,000 BTC on May 10.

CryptoQuant’s data also confirms a correlation between increased miner selling and Bitcoin price bottoms. 

Sales in the week before the halving coincided with Bitcoin’s “pre-halving dump” of over $1,200, while this week also saw negative price performance — from $9,950 on May 18 to press time levels of $9,340.

Sustained offloading would have a negative knock-on effect on Bitcoin price growth, slowing the upward trend to keep markets more averse to five figures.

Bitcoin mining pool outflows 1-year chart

Bitcoin mining pool outflows 1-year chart. Source: CryptoQuant

Exchange reserves keep plummeting

Beyond outflows, meanwhile, change is afoot on exchanges. According to CryptoQuant, total exchange holdings fell dramatically on March 12 during Bitcoin’s crash but kept falling as the price recovered.

As of Wednesday, reserves across 17 major exchanges totaled 1.18 million BTC — the lowest value since November 2018. At that time, BTC/USD traded at near its lows of $3,100.

Bitcoin exchange reserves 2-year chart

Bitcoin exchange reserves 2-year chart. Source: CryptoQuant

A lack of interest in trading Bitcoin delivers clear signals on market sentiment, but the change in correlation with price-performance puts the current situation at odds with previous behavior.

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