eToro Signs Advertising Deal with 7 Premier League Football Clubs

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UK-based trading platform eToro has signed an advertising deal with seven Premier League football clubs paid in Bitcoin for the first time, the parties revealed Tuesday, August 21.

According to various sources, UK clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, Leicester City Football Club, Newcastle United and Southampton announced they had signed up to host eToro advertisements.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency integration in football stadiums and the industry will also form a focus for the partnerships, eToro so far not giving details as to the nature of the “exploration.”

The move marks a fresh milestone for cryptocurrency integration in mainstream football. Sporadic experiments have already come from clubs elsewhere, including Turkey, where Harunustaspor hired a professional player for Bitcoin in January.

“This is very much the first step on a long road to football fully embracing bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology,” eToro’s UK managing director Iqbal V. Gandham meanwhile said quoted by The Drum.

Last week, the Union of European Football Associations, more commonly known as UEFA, confirmed it had deployed a Blockchain-based ticketing system as part of a phased rollout.

Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi Group has launched a new product designed to streamline the token listing application process.

The new service, which Huobi developed to provide a more transparent listing process, is called the Huobi Automated Listing Platform.

Per the announcement, projects that want to list on Huobi Global or an autonomous digital asset exchange Huobi HADAX, will have to register and submit specific documentation about the project. The announcement states that the Huobi Automated Listing Platform “will not automatically list any token or coin that applies.”

Upon passing the verification process, applicants will receive a unique login account, which provides access to submit, edit, amend, and review documents and status of the token listing.

Projects that fail to pass the verification will be provided with a reminder notification of re-application to HADAX 2.0 and assistance in registering on the newly launched platform. Projects that decide to re-apply will have to follow specific application and listing rules.

The announcement also states that later this year, Huobi is looking to launch the Huobi Blockchain Project Show Center within the Huobi Automated Listing Platform, which will provide users access to reports, videos, and live broadcasts.

In July, Huobi Group launched Huobi Cloud, which allows users to build over-the-counter (OTC) and digital asset exchanges on top of Huobi’s existing platform. Partners will also be able to use the order integration and wallet systems, as well as the asset management and clearing system of the Huobi Global platform.

That same month, HBUS, the U.S. “strategic partner” of Huobi, confirmed the release of its API for “experienced traders” in some U.S. states. The product was geared to high-volume users who required live pricing data and other tools. In addition to price tracking, the API also offers historical price data, support for margin trade customization support, setting buy and sell limits, and retrieving trade history.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has announced that he plans to get “involved” in a blockchain project in what is a “first” for him. The statement was made at the ChainXchange blockchain conference and reported by NullTX news site August 19.

At the ChainXchange conference, held in Las Vegas, U.S. August 13-15, Steve Wozniak revealed in an interview that he plans to participate in a blockchain startup, praising the benefits of the technology. He said:

“I’m involved with, very soon, my first time being involved in a blockchain company. <…> Our approach is not like a new currency, or something phony where an event will make it go up in value. It’s a share of stock, in a company. This company is doing investment by investors with huge track records in good investments in things like apartment buildings in Dubai.”

Apple co-founder further explained his fascination with the blockchain technology:

“It’s so independent! It’s kind of like the internet when it was brand new… I was amazed at the technology behind it. <…> I’ve encountered people working in real estate avenues, types of Uber systems, everything we’ve got in our life, especially involving transactions <…> Every single one you hear about, to me, has value…. A few people can see the value, which reminds me very much of the early internet days.”

Wozniak also compared the Ethereum (ETH) platform with the Apple’s App Store, as both allow thousands of companies and individuals to develop and run their own applications: “Ethereum provides the tools for a blockchain application of your own… I see more people using Ethereum that way.”

Earlier this spring, Wozniak had called blockchain tech a “bubble”, even though it is “decentralized and totally trustworthy,” Despite his ambiguous stance on blockchain, Steve Wozniak admires Bitcoin, having said that it is “the only digital gold”.

Cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase might, as market research firm Bernstein recently said, be on the cusp of assembling an “unassailable” market share in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean that the San Francisco-based firm isn’t struggling to maintain consumer activity during the current downturn.

Citing data from CoinApi, cryptoasset research firm Diar reports that USD-denominated cryptocurrency trading has plunged in 2018, even as large cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency exchanges headquartered in other parts of the world have seen stable or even rising volumes.

According to the publication, Coinbase — the most well-known cryptocurrency trading platform in the U.S. — has seen volumes plunge by 83 percent from their all-time high in January. In July, Coinbase processed an estimated $3.9 billion worth of trades, down from a peak of nearly $21 billion. Bitstamp and Kraken, both of whom offer USD trading pairs, have also experienced significant declines, though they have been less-pronounced than those seen on Coinbase.

coinbase trading volume binance cryptocurrency exchange
Source: Diar

Binance, the world’s largest order-book cryptocurrency exchange, has also seen a moderate decline in volumes in its BTC, ETH, BCH, and LTC markets (the four cryptocurrencies that have been available on Coinbase throughout 2018), from $17.5 billion in February to a low of $9.4 billion in June. However, Binance volume jumped 21 percent the next month, reaching $11.3 billion in July.

okex cryptocurrency exchange volume
Source: Diar

Meanwhile, OKEx, generally the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, attracted a surge in trading volume among these four-large cap coins between June and July, from to $5.7 billion from $2.9 billion. That not only signifies a month-over-month increase of 97 percent but also, Diar reports, represents a new monthly record for OKEx.

That’s particularly notable since volume on Coinbase and Bitstamp decreased between June and July, albeit slightly. Incidentally, neither Coinbase nor Bitstamp supports USD-pegged stablecoin Tether(USDT), while both OKEx and Binance do. Tether, whose solvency and credibility have been the subject of much debate within the cryptocurrency community, has issued hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new tokens over the past few weeks, which could help explain the discrepancy in volume between exchanges that support USDT and those that do not.

Additionally, both Binance and OKEx, are planning to set up shop in Malta after pro-industry regulations go into effect in the self-described “Blockchain Island” later this year. Binance, which heretofore has only offered crypto-to-crypto trading, has also unveiled plans to partner with a Liechtenstein-based company to begin offering its first fiat trading pairs.

Bitcoin has neither dumped nor has broken its crucial resistance level since August 15.

The BTC/USD on Monday started with a bullish promise after snoozing through the whole weekend. The pair confirmed 6346-fiat as a strong support and rose 3.5 percent during the early Asian trading session. As the day progressed, bulls began to lose their grip and price started slipping, only to find itself approaching 6346-fiat again. At the time of this writing, BTC/USD has stabilized amidst 6385-6483 area.

What’s noteworthy, however, is Bitcoin’s contrasting price action with respect to the altcoin market. Almost all the top coins have undergone extensive bearish corrections in the past 24 hours whilst Bitcoin continues to show a relatively stable approach, confirming dominance. Historically, an overlong sideways trend in the Bitcoin market has resulted in a major breakout action.

BTC/USD Technical Analysis

To study a potential breakout, we noticed an ascending triangle formation which, if stood the time, could tell the course of next week. The price is currently holding its leg near 6346-fiat while forming higher lows towards 6500-fiat. Any volatile upside action from here could bring the price closer to testing 6700-fiat in medium-term. The triangle range, in the meantime, offers pretty good opportunities to enter and exit positions on decent profits.

The BTC/USD meanwhile is closely above it’s rising 100H and sideways 200H moving averages, indicating a buying sentiment. The RSI and Stochastic Oscillator indicators are also indicating an upside correction, meaning the price could retest 6500-fiat anytime today. Overall, the bias is slightly bullish.

BTC/USD Intraday Analysis

According to our intraday analysis, we are now looking at 6346-fiat as our interim support and 6500-fiat as our interim resistance. This is the range we are watching for today.

So, our first action would be to place a long position towards 6500-fiat, as a part of our intra-range strategy, while placing our stop loss a 2-pips below the entry position. In case we break above the resistance level, we will put another long towards ascending triangle resistance (~6650-fiat). Putting stop loss 3-pips below our entry position will define our risk management perspective.

Conversely, a pullback from resistance – or anywhere before – will allow us to enter a short position towards 6346-fiat, while a stop loss anywhere 3-pips above the entry position will minimize our losses in case the trend reverses.

A working group led by cryptocurrency exchange Gemini will hold its first meeting in September to discuss forming a self-regulatory organization (SRO) to oversee the burgeoning U.S. crypto trading market.

Announced on Monday, the Virtual Commodity Association (VCA) initially includes participation from four cryptocurrency exchanges that serve U.S. customers: Gemini, Bitstamp, Bittrex, and bitFlyer USA.

Representatives from these firms will meet in September to discuss forming an SRO, which will include drafting best practices for the industry and determining guidelines for membership in the VCA. They will also choose an executive director for the organization.

“This is the first of many steps in policing the digital asset markets and answering the call of regulators,” said Yusuf Hussain, head of risk at Gemini.

“We believe in the value of self-regulation, which we pursued in Europe almost from our inception, and look forward to following a similar path in the U.S. Those that can’t or won’t comply with regulations put consumers – and their own operations – at risk,” added Bitstamp CEO Nejc Kodrič

In the meantime, the VCA’s interim executive director is Maria Filipakis, who formerly served as executive deputy superintendent at the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) and helped draft the agency’s controversial cryptocurrency regulatory framework, commonly referred to as the “BitLicense.”

“I applaud the VCA and its members in their commitment to strengthen the digital asset industry’s regulatory landscape, rules for the protection of customers, and bring forth industry setting best practices and market transparency,” Filipakis said.

Notably absent from the VCA’s list of initial members is Coinbase, which according to market research firm Bernstein accounts for half of all U.S. cryptocurrency trading and was one of the first exchanges to receive a BitLicense. The San Francisco-based company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As SEC Slaps Down Bitcoin ETF, Industry Wants to Show it’s Grown up

Jay Clayton SEC
The SEC, which is led by Chairman Jay Clayton (right), has not yet approved a bitcoin ETF, though there are several applications on its desk. | Source: YouTube/Brookings

Gemini, which was founded by brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, first proposed the VCA in March, arguing that “a thoughtful SRO framework that provides a virtual commodity regulatory program for the virtual commodity industry is the next logical step in the maturation of this market.”

At the time, the proposal earned praise from sitting CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz, who published a statement of support on the regulatory agency’s official website.

The formation of the VCA follows the SEC’s recent announcement that it had denied the Winklevoss twins’ second attempt to create a bitcoin ETF. By establishing an SRO, industry exchanges likely aim to signal that the industry is mature enough to warrant exchange-traded products (ETPs).

The first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) is expected to be approved by February of 2019. But, some experts have stated that ETFs may increase the volatility of the market.

How the ETF Will Impact the Market

Over the past few months, analysts have been divided on the effect of the ruling of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding Bitcoin ETFs on the crypto market.

Brian Kelly, a contributor to CNBC’s Fast Money and the CEO at BKCM, previously explained that the rise in the price of Bitcoin from the lower end of $7,000 to $8,000 in early August could be attributed to the increasing hype around Bitcoin ETFs.

Last week, as the price of BTC dropped substantially against the US dollar, Kelly emphasized that the SEC’s rejection of the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF likely had an impact on the market and that investors have overreacted to the news.

bitcoin price
Bitcoin Price | Bitfinex

Recently, in a Q&A session, well respected cryptocurrency researcher and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos disclosed his stance on Bitcoin ETFs, firmly stating that he is against the introduction of ETFs in regulated markets.

Antonopoulos said that while ETFs have the ability to open the Bitcoin market to a group of institutional investors and retail traders that have not been able to trade the dominant cryptocurrencies due to issues pertaining to regulation, they also provide a platform for large investors to manipulate the price of BTC.

He explained:

“Everybody is so excited about ETFs. What we have seen in other markets is that when an ETF becomes available, the price really increases dramatically, as suddenly that commodity becomes available to a lot more investors and these investors pile on. But, the other side of it, is that there are always these claims that the commodities markets are heavily manipulated and opening up these ETFs only increase the ability of institutional investors to manipulate the prices of commodities.”

It is possible, given that the ETF of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and VanEck-SolidX may lead to billions of dollars in new capital into the Bitcoin market, that the price of BTC sways by large margins on both the upside and downside during the operating hours of the US stock market, if an ETF is launched.

Unlike futures contracts, in the ETF market, investors do not necessarily have the motivation or the incentive to intentionally bring down the price of Bitcoin by manipulating its price trend. But, for instance, if a group of investors decide to utilize the ETF market to manipulate the price of BTC to record gains in the futures market, the Bitcoin market could become significantly more volatile.

ETF, Futures, and Long-Term Growth

In the long run, as more publicly tradable investment vehicles are introduced by regulated financial institutions and the liquidity of Bitcoin drastically improves, it will become difficult to manipulate the price trend of the crypto market.

However, in a period of instability, high volatility, and fast growth, publicly tradable investment vehicles could provide enough leverage to large investors that are capable of reversing market trends.

The founders of cryptocurrency exchange Cobinhood are commissioning the development of a new blockchain capable of processing 1 million transactions per second, a massive undertaking given that Bitcoin transaction can take hours to complete and Ethereum transactions range from 1-5 minutes, with even Visa’s ~2000 tx/s being dwarfed in comparison.

The company behind the project is DEXON, which is focused on blockchain mass adoption within the banking industry and real-world application requirements.

DEXON reports that the new blockchain technology uses a blocklattice structure that meshes multiple chains together to form what the company claims to be an infinitely scalable, low-latency decentralized transaction processing engine.

The company was launched by the executive team of the zero-fee crypto exchange Cobinhood, and the $20 million funding round that just closed was led by IDG Capital, a venture capital firm which manages over $20 billion in assets. The funding round also drew investments from various angel investors.

While it sounds far-fetched, the company claim to have already recorded test transaction speeds at 50 blocks per second or approximately 1 million transactions throughout 25 nodes, with each block being 2MB and each transaction being 100 bytes on average.

DEXON aims to use a so-called “blocklattice” structure to increase transaction capacity.

“Clearly, investors believe in DEXON’s ‘blocklattice’ protocol, which is underpinned by consensus algorithms that allow for transaction speeds competitive with major credit card companies,” said Popo Chen, founder of Cobinhood and co-founder of the non-profit DEXON Foundation. “In fact, we hope to partner with these institutions, as we’re now able to offer the same processing power without a need for centralization. Other than DEXON, current blockchain protocols can only process a few secure transactions per second, leaving them unable to keep pace with traditional solutions.”

Through the use of a blocklattice structure along with a total-ordering consensus algorithm, DEXON claims to be able to make decentralized transactions scalable. Unlike traditional blockchain systems that build encrypted blocks linearly, DEXON’ s blocklattice features multiple blockchains that work together in parallel, which DEXON execs say makes it easier to scale automatically and energy-efficiently.

“With its fundamentally new architecture, the DEXON network is poised to become the world’s first mainstream blockchain,” said Wei-Ning Huang, co-founder of DEXON. “Investors are recognizing that there is a problem with current blockchain technology, and that the protocol most focused on throughput and scalability will form the basis of Blockchain 4.0. These tests prove that the blocklattice works, and this funding is proof that investors trust DEXON’ s strategy over the long term.”

Launched earlier, the DEXON blockchain will be the fastest in the world by a long shot — if it works. The difficulties in scaling blockchains are well-documented at this stage, and with an enormous undertaking like DEXON it remains to be seen whether the block lattice structure can scale as advertised. However, if the design is as advertised, the blocklattice system may be about to make a major impact on the cryptocurrency and blockchain landscape.

On Aug. 15, American investor Michael Terpin filed a $224 million lawsuit against AT&T. He believes that the telecoms giant had provided hackers with access to his phone number, which led to a major crypto heist.

Michael Terpin is a Puerto Rico-based entrepreneur and CEO of TransformGroup. He is also a co-founder of an angel group for Bitcoin (BTC) investors named BitAngels and of a digital currency fund, the BitAngels DApps Fund.

Terpin claims that he lost $24 million worth of cryptocurrencies as a result of two hacks that occured over the course of seven months: The 69-page complaint he filed with California law firm Greenberg Glusker mentions two seperate episodes, dated June 11, 2017 and Jan. 7, 2018. In both cases, as per the document, AT&T, of which Terpin was a longtime subscriber since the 1990s, failed to protect his digital identity.

Now, Terpin is seeking $200 million in punitive damages and $24 million in compensation from the telecommunications corporation.

SIM swapping scam: What does a telecoms provider have to do with crypto savings?

“What AT&T did was like a hotel giving a thief with a fake ID a room key and a key to the room safe to steal jewelry in the safe from the rightful owner,” the complaint states, arguing that Terpin fell victim to a SIM swap fraud, also known as SIM hijacking or a “port out scam.”

SIM swapping is a process of leading a telecoms provider like, say, T-Mobile transferring the target’s phone number to a SIM card held by the attacker. Once they receive the phone number, hackers can use it to reset the victims’ passwords and break into their accounts, including accounts on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Occasionally, that allows thieves to bypass even two-factor authentication, as Motherboard writes. According to their investigation, SIM swapping “is relatively easy to pull off and has become widespread,” adding that “cryptocurrency accounts are common targets.”

The tactics employed by criminals to perform such hacks may vary. Sometimes, they trick customer representatives into believing they are the targets and make them hand over their data. However, as per Motherboard, fraudsters often use the so-called “plugs”: telecom company insiders who get paid to do illegal swaps. An anonymous SIM hijacker told the publication:

“Everyone uses them[…] When you tell someone [who works at a telecoms company] they can make money, they do it.”

An anonymous source at Verizon told Motherboard that he had been approached via Reddit, where he was offered bribes in exchange for SIM swaps. Another Verizon employee claimed that the hacker promised that they would make “$100,000 in a few months” if he would cooperate — all he had to do is “either activate the SIM cards for [the hacker] when [he was] at work or give [the attacker his] Employee ID and PIN.”

More related to the Terpin case, Motherboard’s dialogue with an AT&T employee suggested that their system’s design reportedly allows some employees to supersede security features, such as the phone passcode that AT&T requires when porting numbers:

“From there, the passcode can be changed[…] With a fresh passcode, the number can be ported out with no hang ups.”

How was Terpin hacked?

As mentioned above, Terpin was hacked twice: in June 2017 and in January 2018.

First, in the summer of 2017, he found out that his AT&T number had been hacked when his phone suddenly went dead, according to the complaint. He then learned from AT&T that his password had been changed remotely “after 11 attempts in AT&T stores had failed.”

After gaining access to Terpin’s phone, the attackers used his personal information, including calls and text messages, to break into his accounts that use telephone numbers as a means of verification, including his “cryptocurrency accounts” — although it doesn’t specify the type of those accounts. The hackers also reportedly hijacked Terpin’s Skype account to impersonate him and convince one of his clients to send them cryptocurrency.

AT&T reportedly cut off access to the hackers only after they managed to steal “substantial funds” from Terpin. The document also states that after the incident, on June 13, 2017, Terpin met with AT&T representatives to discuss the attack and was promised by AT&T that his account would be moved to a “higher security level” with “special protection,” akin to the ones used by celebrities:

“AT&T further told Mr. Terpin that the implementation of the increased security measures would prevent Mr. Terpin’s number from being moved to another phone without Mr. Terpin’s explicit permission, because no one other than Mr. Terpin and his wife would know the secret code.”

Nevertheless, half a year later, on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2018, Terpin’s phone reportedly turned off again — he got attacked yet another time. The complaint claims that “an employee in an AT&T store cooperated with an imposter committing SIM swap fraud,” despite extra security measures being taken back in June 2017:

“As AT&T later admitted, an employee in an AT&T store in Norwich, Connecticut ported over Mr. Terpin’s wireless number to an imposter in violation of AT&T’s commitments and promises, including the higher security that it had supposedly placed on Mr. Terpin’s account after the June 11, 2017 hack that had supposedly been implemented to prevent precisely such fraud.”

This time the thieves allegedly stole about $24 million worth of cryptocurrency, even though he tried to contact AT&T “instantly” after his phone stopped working. AT&T allegedly “ignored” his request, leaving the hackers enough time to get enough information about Terpin’s crypto accounts to move his funds to their own accounts. The plaintiff complaint argues that Terpin’s wife also tried calling AT&T at the time, but was put on “endless hold” when she asked to be connected to AT&T’s fraud department.

The Terpin case could be a legal precedent for SIM swapping scams

As the complaint sums up, emphasising the potential scale of port out scams:

“AT&T is doing nothing to protect its almost 140 million customers from SIM card fraud. AT&T is therefore directly culpable for these attacks because it is well aware that its customers are subject to SIM swap fraud and that its security measures are ineffective. AT&T does virtually nothing to protect its customers from such fraud because it has become too big to care.”

When Gizmodo contacted AT&T for a comment on the story, the company reportedly denied the accusation, stating that they are ready to stand their ground:

“We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court.”

Terpin told Gizmodo that such crypto heists are commonly performed by “college kids who go online in these Discord groups.” He also insisted that in his case, the thieves used an AT&T employee:

“The one thing that’s been a link between [the crypto hacks] is that in every case they’ve had an insider[…] [Trading cryptocurrencies] is safe as long as nobody gives out your digital identity.”

He added that he contacted the FBI, Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service, and they’ve identified the AT&T employee who allegedly participated in the attack.

Terpin also claimed that he doesn’t give out his phone number anymore, relying on Google Voice instead.

A decentralized exchange claims that its trading fees are considerably lower than that of its rivals — with a one percent fee reduced to 0.03 percent whenever they use the platform’s native tokens.

Blockonix says its exchange is the “most clean, most user friendly” on the marketplace right now and offers a more cost-effective experience than the likes of EtherDelta, Idex and ForkDelta.

The platform provides users with a way to trade Ethereum — as well as Ethereum-based digital assets and tokens — around the world, and its team says it is “promoting a new wave of payment gateways and exchanges with futuristic applications.” Blockonix does not store any assets in its infrastructure, with all funds remaining with the user at all times.

Blockonix says, unlike other exchanges, it earns zero percent — and all of the fees collected through the platform are used to buy back BDT tokens and burn them. This includes the five ETH fee for listing on the exchange itself. Whereas other organizations are driven by profit, Blockonix says it is motivated by community.

In an article explaining the rationale behind its fees, the platform wrote: “Some of you would begin to question yourself why we are charging so little to offer a very complex service which demands constant monitoring to enforce maximum security.

“We have developed the right technology which enable us to significantly cut down our operational cost while keeping our system at the top level in terms of security and functionality.”

A change of plans

Blockonix was formerly known as BitIndia, and that platform was intended to be an exclusive exchange for Indian crypto enthusiasts. The organization said it had to make the “tough decision” to rebrand, make the exchange purely decentralized and shift its focus international following the Indian government’s negative response to cryptocurrencies.

The country’s Department of Economic Affairs said certain crypto assets could be made legal to use in India — with officials saying they “categorically denied” that cryptocurrencies themselves would be used “in any manner” at some point in the future.

Most of those who held BitIndia tokens have now had them replaced with BDT tokens — and according to Blockonix, almost 170 million BITINDIA tokens have been burned permanently, with just over 10 million remaining in circulation.

Decentralized exchanges create ‘trustless environments’ where deals are made through smart contracts or atomic swaps instead of going via a middleman. This is different than a centralized exchange, where an organization is trusted to look after a customer’s money on their behalf.

As explained here, decentralized exchanges are appealing to some because they remove a single point of authority — helping to reduce costs and enhance levels of privacy and security.

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