New Zealand Slow to Adopt Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin reached a new all-time high in June when it inched close to the $3,000 mark after an impressive six-month rally that saw the cryptocurrency triple in value. Unsurprisingly, bitcoin has been all over the media in the past few months as global adoption and the demand is increasing. However, adoption rates are faster in some countries, such as Japan, China, and India than others. One of the countries where bitcoin adoption is slower than expected is New Zealand.

According to a report by local news publication, bitcoin adoption has been slow in New Zealand because it is not that easy to actually buy bitcoin locally using the New Zealand dollar. Bitcoin buying options for New Zealanders are effectively limited to peer-to-peer exchanges such as LocalBitcoins and Paxful, where buy prices usually come with a high premium and the country only has a handful of local exchanges, such as NZBCX and Cryptopia.

There is also the bitcoin exchange Coined, which allows users to buy the cryptocurrency using online bank deposits but on its website, it states, “The [bitcoin order] queue has been full for six days, five hours. Coined’s current bitcoin reserves have been depleted due to high demand. Use the form below to receive notification when your order can be placed.” Also, according to news publication Stuff, there is a bitcoin ATM in an Auckland bar that has not really attracted many users.

The reason for the limited buying options in New Zealand is the challenges that both bitcoin startups and individual bitcoiners are facing when dealing with local banks. Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon in the Bitcoin economy and has also been a prevalent issue in the United Kingdom where banks have closed bank accounts of users who have purchased bitcoin using bank transfers and have

Regulations Are Making it Difficult for Cybersecurity Firms to Transact in Bitcoin

Due to bitcoin’s pseudo-anonymous nature, which makes it difficult to link transactions to the individuals conducting them, bitcoin has become the new go-to ransom payment method in ransomware attacks. This development has led cybersecurity firms to buy and store bitcoin in case their clients decide to pay the ransom. However, regulations are making it increasingly difficult for cybersecurity specialists to provide this service.

Leading exchange and wallet provider Coinbase has reportedly shut down the bitcoin account of cybersecurity specialist and founder of Night Lion Security Vinny Troia. Coinbase contacted Troia at the end of last year to inquire what the purpose behind his bitcoin holdings are. When Troia informed Coinbase that it was to buy and store bitcoin on behalf of clients who may potentially want to use them to pay for ransoms during ransomware attacks, his account was suspended and he was no longer able to set up a new account under his name or those of family members.

The issue with holding funds that may be used to pay criminals is that it could get regulated firms such as Coinbase in trouble with the financial regulator as well as the law, as this may be deemed as a breach of anti-money laundering (AML) laws. Given the increased scrutiny on bitcoin businesses by regulators, it should not come as a surprise that bitcoin exchanges would rather not see their platform be used to facilitate ransom payments, despite the well-meaning intent of these payments.

On the other hand, making it more difficult for cybersecurity firms to buy and store bitcoin could easily lead to more large-scale disruptions through ransomware attacks such as the global WannaCry ransomware attack that took place in May. In some cases, it is easier for companies to simply pay the ransom to regain access to their

How to Safely Trade Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency has gone a long way from a geek thingy to the protagonist of headlines in mainstream media, which took it less than ten years to accomplish. Blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrencies has gone even farther and now finds use cases far beyond financial transactions.

This all has drawn much attention to cryptocurrency trading. The recent bitcoin price rally was some sort of an eye opener to those who had been agnostic about whether it is a gateway to the world of tomorrow or yet another Ponzi scheme. The majestic downfall that bitcoin took in just a few hours following the rally had scared lots of people away and caused them to panic sell their cryptoassets. However, it all can make an impression only on complete cryptocurrency rookies, while more seasoned traders and investors keep calm and just buy more when their preferred asset gets cheaper. God knows how many times they have already seen it.

Such a price rollercoaster may inflate one’s investment by the score or turn it into senseless dust over just a few hours or even less. Exchanges that render trading services are abundant, and sometimes the exchange rates they offer may differ by thousands of dollars. Some exchanges just blow up, and it takes a great deal of experience or some inside intel to foresee such a collapse in advance.

Effectively, it all makes cryptotrading a very attractive yet an equally risky affair. Here are some ground rules a rookie might find quite useful.

How to Invest

First, one has to choose what to invest in. There are lots of people offering advice in this regard, and sometimes their recommendations prove to be useful. However, professional traders insist that nobody should invest their money into something basing solely on someone else’s words.

“Just a brief

Banks Can Legally Deny Services to Bitcoin Companies in Israel

On June 6, the Tel Aviv district court announced its official ruling on the dispute between Israeli bitcoin exchange Bits of Gold and the country’s second largest financial institution Bank Leumi. The court ruled in favor of Bank Leumi, dismissing the case of Bits of Gold and the denial of banking services for bitcoin startups and service providers in the region.

According to Finance Magnates that obtained the court documents, Bank Leumi told the Tel Aviv district court that the financial institution could no longer provide banking services to bitcoin exchange Bits of Gold due to the country’s strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies. Representatives of Bank Leumi stated that cryptocurrencies are difficult to control under the AML systems of Israel and because of that, the bank itself cannot follow AML requirements set by the government if it continues to provide services to cryptocurrency service providers.

Although Bank Leumi acknowledged the fact Bits of Gold had established efficient and complete KYC systems to remain fully compliant with AML requirements imposed by local financial regulations, the representatives of Bank Leumi claimed that KYC systems cannot be utilized to unravel the end receiver of a transaction.

Similar to the statement the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued to the public in regard to the rejection of the Winklevoss twins’ bitcoin ETF COIN, Bank Leumi emphasized that the major factor that convinced the bank to reject Bits of Gold was the lack of regulation in overseas bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets.

Ever since the popularization and global adoption of bitcoin as digital gold, a settlement network, and a digital currency, certain banks have continued to deny providing services to companies that deal with cryptocurrencies. Startups in the UK and Australia greatly suffered from the denial of banking services throughout 2014 to 2016 before the

Kraken Trading Problems Continue Amid Duplicates And User Losses

Curious activity continues at Kraken amid a report of order duplication adding to artificial price spikes on its books.

Kraken Users Lost Thousands Of Dollars In Trading Glitch

Analysis sent to Bitcoinist by Reddit user u/Sameux appears to show two sets of duplicate orders seconds apart.

Sameux, who had been affected by transaction spikes on Kraken, asked another user to post the evidence to the social media platform due to “lack of karma.”

In emailed comments to Bitcoinist, Sameux talked about the losses, which amounted to several thousand dollars, saying:

This has been a hit for me personally. I went crazy the day it happened. […] I try to take it as a lesson, to not give too much trust to a central third party that why it’s interesting to see more people developing decentralized exchanges like NVO or OmiseGO.

Overstretched Kraken Fails To Respond

The duplication material was sent out separately. A screenshot shows two pairs of ETH/XBT transactions on Kraken around 30 seconds apart, with each pair’s volume being identical.

Sameux added that he had raised three support tickets with Kraken, but had received no response as of press time Tuesday.

I also emailed twice a Kraken account manager (who first reached out to me by email in April 2017). I also contacted a Kraken support person on Reddit. I didn’t receive any answer yet: it has been nearly 3 weeks now.

The issue with price spikes had initially been raised at the end of May, with the assumption that multiple users had lost considerable amounts of cash due to seriously imperfect exchange rates.

While Withdrawal Fees Go Down

In the intervening weeks, Kraken has faced a battle on another front. After announcing it was raising withdrawal fees for several coins – notably Bitcoin to

Chinese Exchanges to Lessen Bitcoin Fees by Building Lightning-Like Tech

On June 3, an insider source told Chinese cryptocurrency news agency CnLedger that two of the largest Chinese bitcoin exchanges Huobi and OKCoin are currently working on the development of an off-chain payment channel similar to the Lightning network to lower transaction fees.

CnLedger reported:

“Chinese exchanges Huobi and OKCoin are working on building a Lightning Network-like channel, to lower transaction fee and alleviate congestion.”

The utilization of private blockchain networks and off-chain solutions is not a new concept. Popular platforms such as Coinbase and many mobile applications such as BTCC’s Mobi have utilized private blockchains to increase the flexibility of their applications.

On March 20, BTCC released a mobile app called Mobi designed to increase liquidity and ease trading for casual traders and users. The app offers a bitcoin debit card service that allows users to purchase items and service from both online and offline merchants.

In its official press release, BTCC emphasized that Mobi operates on top of a private blockchain which can be used to send money instantly to 2 billion smartphone users. If the money is sent as a bitcoin transaction, it is first processed within Mobi’s private blockchain network and then broadcasted onto the Bitcoin public blockchain.

“Mobi accounts are linked to users’ mobile numbers; all that is needed to use Mobi is a smartphone. Mobi users can instantly transfer funds to any of the two billion other global smartphone users using Mobi’s private blockchain. Mobi also supports bitcoin transfers on the Bitcoin public blockchain,” explained the BTCC development team.

There exist many reasons why companies including Coinbase and Mobi utilize private blockchains, but the major factor is speed and functionality. The presence of an off-chain solution and a private blockchain allows apps to operate on top of a more flexible platform.

For

Weekly Cryptocurrency Market Outlook June 6

BTCManager’s Weekly Cryptocurrency Outlook highlights the price action and technical indicators on a long-term basis to identify the best opportunities in the largest cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, ether, and others.

BTC-USD (Bitstamp)

Bitcoin goes for its eighth week of consecutive gains, nearing the psychological $3000 level on June 6. As we have nine near consecutive higher highs since March 20, we expect the bullish run for BTC-USD to peak sometime between June 12 and July 24. A higher high next week will give a strong indication that bulls have reached their limit and a higher likelihood of a reversal into a downward trend. The weekly price action is shown below.

Although we can use the number of record highs to determine when bitcoin will peak, we use the Fibonacci sequence to find out a possible target. The daily price action shown below illustrates that on June 6, BTC-USD broke above the previous all-time high at $2760.10. Accordingly, this opens up the Fibonacci extension level at $3476.14. Also, the psychological $3000 level stands in the way as well.

Also, notice from the chart above that the conversion line (blue) has a sharp gradient and is moving higher, suggesting the direction of the market will continue to be up. Moreover, the Market Facilitation Index is green for June 6, suggesting traders should follow the trend and find optimal entry points into long positions.

The Ichimoku cloud shows that the $2000 to $2200 area will provide an important support zone toward the end of June, which is where BTC-USD may head once bulls have been exhausted and we have seen ten or 11 near consecutive higher highs.  

The monthly price action is bullish, as May’s close was in the upper third of the range, closing above $2260. Therefore, we expect

Coinbase Experienced Degraded Performance Amidst Bitcoin Surge

On May 22, Coinbase.com, the largest centralized online bitcoin exchange, operating in 32 countries, experienced a partial outage resulting in degraded performance, deposit/withdrawal delays, and some customers were unable to log in to their accounts.

Bitcoin crossed the $2000 mark on May 20, 2017, and continued to climb to a new all-time high of $2,760 on May 25. The price then dropped quickly down to $2,347 at the end of the day on May 25 and then shot back up to $2,639 on the morning of May 26. According to the Coinbase status page, an issue with customers incorrectly receiving CVN verification errors and 24-hour lockouts when attempting to verify new credit or debit cards was submitted for investigation on May 22 (and resolved on May 24). Also on May 22, issues with site response times and customers being unable to sign in to their accounts were reported, identified, and resolved.

However, slow load times and degraded performance of the Coinbase website continued through May 23, 24, and 25. At the time this article is being written, there still seems to be a problem with processing credit and debit cards, but no other incidents have been reported. According to a statement from Coinbase:

“Coinbase has experienced unprecedented traffic and trading volume this week. As a result, Coinbase.com has suffered a few outages and downgraded performance for some users this week. Our engineering and support teams are working around the clock to restore our site to normal performance.”

Bitcoin was not the only currency effected on the Coinbase platform, ether traders also experienced setbacks. On May 24, Coinbase reported that they saw a backup of outgoing ETH transactions. Coincidentally, Kraken, another major US-based bitcoin and altcoin exchange reported degraded performance due to all-time record traffic. A statement from Kraken

UASF: The Revolt that Will Not Happen

The User-Activated Soft Fork (UASF) wants to enforce SegWit against the will of the miners. After the movement had gained a growing momentum, it had to gulp serious drawbacks in the past weeks. Neither exchanges, miners nor Core developers stand behind it. Is this the end of the self-declared user’s revolt?

Basically, the whole UASF story is about the question who rules Bitcoin; the miners – or the users?

This smoldering conflict started to get attention when Core released the protocol upgrade Segregated Witness. Like any other soft fork, SegWit should have been activated with the support of 95 percent of the miners. Its goal is to increase capacity slightly and to fix the malleable transaction bug which would enable off-chain solutions like the Lightning Network. However, some Core developers agreed with the miners to combine SegWit with a block size-increasing hard fork. Although the miners repeatedly noted that they want this agreement to be enforced, Core and parts of the community did expect SegWit to activate fast.

UASF: How the Users want to Enforce SegWit by Closing their Eyes

SegWit was released in November 2016. Roughly seven months later, in June 2017, SegWit is still not activated. More precisely, it did not even get 40 percent of block signaling by the miners, while the competing capacity increase, Bitcoin Unlimited, is backed by up to 50 percent of miners.

One solution for this stalemate would have been to comply with the agreement and prepare a hard fork to 2MB. This is what the “Silbert Agreement” aims to fulfill. More radical however was the solution Litecoin developer Shaolin Fry proposed; the User-activated Soft Fork (UASF). It roughly goes like this; instead of letting miners activate a soft fork with block signaling, the users do this job by orphaning non-SegWit blocks with