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Bank of England to consider adopting cryptocurrency – The Guardian

The Bank of England will examine how Britain could adopt a bitcoin-style digital currency as part of a global group of central banks that have joined together to examine the possible pitfalls of relying on electronic money.

Bank officials will meet with the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Sveriges Riksbank, the Bank of Canada, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to pool research and experiences of the potential for a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The BoE deputy governor Sir Jon Cunliffe will co-chair the group with Benoit Cure, a former ECB board member and head of the BIS innovation hub.

The move comes amid the emergence of private sector digital currencies, such as bitcoin and Facebooks libra, which is due to be launched this year.

Facebooks plans for its libra coin and a digital wallet have caught the attention of regulators and central banks worldwide, with Threadneedle Street being among those vowing tough new rules.

The BoE was among several central banks to warn that libra would need to be regulated, leading many supporters to end their relationship with the digital currency.

The idea of a central bank digital currency has been increasingly mooted worldwide to help improve payment systems and cross-border transactions.

The Bank said the new working group would look at CBDC use cases; economic, functional and technical design choices, including cross-border interoperability; and the sharing of knowledge on emerging technologies.

It will also work closely with other global forums and groups, such as the Financial Stability Board and the committee on payments and market infrastructures (CPMI), which is also chaired by Cunliffe.

Just last month, Swedens central bank said it would sign a deal with the consultancy firm Accenture to create a pilot platform for a digital currency, known as the e-krona.

The Riksbank has been exploring the idea of its own digital currency for some time, especially given the rapid decline in the use of cash in Sweden.

The European Central Bank has also been investigating the possible benefits of CBDC since last year.

Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, said policymakers had been slow to realise how much enthusiasm there was for digital money.

They have been asleep at the wheel over the future of our money system being determined by a small number of banks, payment companies and now tech giants.

The rapid decline of cash and threat of private digital currencies like Facebooks libra have served as a much-needed wake-up call, but central bankers have a lot of catching up to do.

Central banks need to accelerate plans for a central bank digital currency, which would both ensure that people have the choice of a safe public banking option and prevent our monetary system being completely surrendered to unaccountable private interests. This new group must serve as a vehicle for doing so.

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Crypto Tidbits: Bitcoin Hits $9,000, Institutional Cryptocurrency Investment Spikes, NBA Team Uses Ethereum – newsBTC

Another week, another round ofCrypto Tidbits. The past seven days have been quite, quite exciting for Bitcoin and its ilk.

Per data from Coin360, BTC has gained 11% in the past week, rallying as high as $9,000 as buyers have stepped in en-masse. While already impressive in and of itself, what has been especially interesting is the performance of altcoins, which have largely outpaced Bitcoin for the first time in a while.

Ethereum gained 22%, surging to multi-month highs on the back of positive news and an influx of buying pressure; Bitcoin Satoshis Vision (BSV) has surged by 75%, rallying higher on developments in a court case between Craig S. Wright and his former business partner; and a majority of other altcoins saw weekly gains between 10% and 20%.

Like the market, the underlying industry saw its fair share of positive developments over the past week, which is as follows.

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How Cybercriminals Are Converting Cryptocurrency to Cash – BankInfoSecurity.com

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) , Blockchain & Cryptocurrency , Cybercrime

Cybercriminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to turn illicitly gained cryptocurrency into cash, which raises new concerns about enforcing anti-money laundering laws, according a report by blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis.

See Also: Webinar | The Future of Adaptive Authentication in Financial Services

During 2019, analysts at Chainalysis traced $2.8 billion in bitcoin that criminal entities sent through cryptocurrency exchanges. They found that some exchanges known as "over-the-counter brokers" are being leveraged by cybercriminals to convert cryptocurrency that is paid out in ransomware and other attacks into cash for a fixed fee.

These brokers facilitate trade between individual buyers and sellers who don't want to transact on an open exchange, according to the report. And while most of these over-the-counter brokers are legitimate, there is a subgroup that the Chainalysis report calls the "Rogue 100," which help circumvent laws, including anti-money laundering and know your customer regulations that are designed to ensure that businesses can identify their clients.

The emergence of these types of rogue cryptocurrency exchanges, along with technical advances, have made tracking virtual currency used in cybercrime, as well as terrorist financing, more difficult for law enforcement, the Chainalysis report finds.

"What's especially worrying are the advancements in technical sophistication that have enabled successful terrorism financing campaigns using cryptocurrency," the report states.

The Chainalysis analysis does not name any of these rogue cryptocurrency brokers. But it notes that these exchanges control their own digital wallets and frequently exchange bitcoins and other virtual currencies among themselves to make tracing these transactions more difficult to trace.

Given the low barriers to entry in establishing an over-the-counter broker, some of the Rogue 100 brokers may actually be individuals operating through apps, while others could be long-established criminal networks, Chainalysis co-founder Jonathan Levin told Fortune in an interview.

In addition to these 100 brokers, the Chainalysis report found that two cryptocurrency exchange organizations, Binance and Huobi, are helping to convert illegally gotten bitcoins and other virtual currencies into cash. These two exchanges also appear to circumvent anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer rules, according to the report.

The study found that out of the Rogue 100 brokers, 70 have accounts on Huobi and received $194 million in bitcoin from criminal entities over the course of 2019. The report did not mention how many of the Rogue 100 accounts were on Binance.

In response to the Chainalysis report, Samuel Lim, the chief compliance officer of Binance, told Fortune that the company would continue to improve its proprietary know your customer and anti-money laundering technologies, as well as use third-party tools and partners to further strengthen the company's compliance standards.

A Huobi representative also denied wrongdoing.

"As an exchange that works closely with regulators and government agencies in every country we operate in, we practice a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illicit activities," Ciara Sun, vice president of global markets at Huobi said in a statement provided to Bloomberg.

The use of cryptocurrencies to support cybercrime has begun to draw more scrutiny from U.S. federal agencies as well as Congress.

In October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned by a U.S. Congressional committee about the company's plans for a cryptocurrency called Libra. In the hearing, the committee raised concerns about privacy issues as well as potential use of the currency for money laundering or to finance deals for illegal drugs and weapons (see: Congress Grills Facebook's Zuckerberg on Cryptocurrency Plans)

In November, the U.S. Federal Reserve warned that the increasing use of cryptocurrencies known as "stablecoins," without proper safeguards and regulations, could pave the way for crime, including money laundering and terrorism financing (see: Federal Reserve Report Raises Concerns About 'Stablecoins')

The Chainalysis report urges law enforcement agents and regulators to become experts in crypto-based technology in order to start fighting money laundering in cryptocurrency. It also calls on exchanges to carry out more extensive due diligence on over-the-counter brokers and other nested services operating on their platforms.

Law enforcement can address such challenges by collaborating to trace funds and applying additional scrutiny to exchanges and cryptocurrency brokers, Levin told Fortune.

Advancements in cryptocurrency have also enabled terrorist organizations to carry out sophisticated financing campaigns using cryptocurrency, Chainalysis noted in another section of its report.

The study analyzed two terrorism financing campaigns and compared them to determine how terrorist groups are improving their ability to attract donors online.

One campaign that Chainalysis studied, which took place between 2016 and 2018, was carried out by Ibn Taymiyya Media Center, the media wing of Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, the report notes

A second campaign, which started early last year and is ongoing, was led by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, as well as another unnamed terrorist organization.

While the Ibn Taymiyya Media Center campaign publicized a single bitcoin address for financing from its donors, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades organization integrated a bitcoin wallet into its website. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades' bitcoin wallet generated a unique bitcoin address for each donor to which they could send contributions, according to the report.

Cybercriminals used this feature to make it more difficult to identify addresses and track transactions in and out of those addresses, according to the report. Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades even published a video on their website instructing people on how to donate anonymously.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades campaign that used unique bitcoin addresses raised more than $10,000, making it the most successful, according to the report. More than half of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades donations came from cryptocurrency exchanges, the study found.

"It's possible that in 2020 and beyond, more terrorist organizations will embrace cryptocurrency as a fundraising tool and push for further advancements that allow them to take in more funds and enhance their privacy," according to the report.

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UK offers $130K for software that can trace Bitcoin, Ethereum, and (hopefully) Monero – The Next Web

The UK has opened a contract worth 100,000 ($130,000) to procure software to identify when cryptocurrency is used to avoid paying taxes.

In particular, HMRC is seeking the ability to cluster cryptocurrency transactions, identifying those linked to service providers such as mixing, gambling, and dark market services.

The contract, posted on January 17, notes the tool must track and trace Bitcoin, BTC Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Tether, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic the latter two it unfortunately misspelled as Ethereium.

Preferential treatment is pledged to those seeking to develop additional functionality to analyzemore private cryptocurrencies such as Monero, Zcash, and Dash.

Crypto assets, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, provide a means to transfer value between interacting parties, reads the contract. [] These services are increasingly used for a range of purposes, from international money transfers, sales of digital services, paying staff, and tax evasion and money laundering.

If successfully implemented, the winning crypto-tracking solution would close HMRCs intelligence gaps in use of cryptocurrency for illicit activity against the HMRC.

Last year, UK authorities reportedly demanded customer lists and transaction data from cryptocurrency exchanges operating locally, supposedly intent on recouping unpaid taxes from their users.

Around the same time, the US Internal Revenue Service sent more than 10,000 letters to cryptocurrency holders whod sold, sent, received, or bought at least $20,000 worth of cryptocurrency between 2013 and 2015.

They were warned of penalties should they not correctly report their income or fail to pay tax on their cryptocurrency transactions. Those who received mail were asked to sign a statement confirming theyd done so correctly, under penalty of perjury.

HMRC might however be out of luck when it comes to working with more anonymous cryptocurrencies like Monero.

In December, a Europol strategy analyst noted that even the top international authorities had struggled to track transactions made on the network.

[H/T Public Technology]

Published January 20, 2020 16:39 UTC

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Hackers have got their hands on $11 billion in stolen cryptocurrency since 2011 – SmartCompany.com.au

More than US$11 billion has been stolen from supposedly secure crypto exchanges, wallets and mining platforms since 2011, mostly due to hacking incidents, research from Inside Bitcoins has revealed.

For a form of currency that bases itself on safety and security, $11 billion is a pretty significant number. Stored on blockchain technology and protected by encryption keys, cryptocurrencies are supposed to be impossible to counterfeit or copy.

In fact, the currency is so secure that when the co-founder and chief of Canadian exchange QuadringaCXGerald Cotten died last year, it transpired he was the only one with the digital keys to the digital safe where all the coins were kept.

Since then, there have been questions as to whether or not Cotton actually died at all. Lawyers for Quadringas investors have even called for his body to be exhumed in order to settle the matter once and for all.

However, it turns out even crypto coins can be half-inched. According to US bitcoin publication Inside Bitcoins, there have been some 33 hacking incidents, globally, since 2011.

The exchange that fell victim to the first reported crypto hack in 2011 was also on the sharp end of the biggest hack in 2014.

In 2011, Tokyo exchange Mt.Gox was breached, losing about US$17.2 million in bitcoin.

It recovered from the incident, and by 2014, it was the leading exchange in the world, managing about 70% of all bitcoin transactions.

In February 2014, however, it suffered a second attack, losing about US$6.5 billion worth of bitcoin or six percent of all bitcoin in existence at the time.

Three years later, Mt.Gox was bankrupt.

The Mt.Gox hack of 2014 is now infamous its the subject of lengthy deep-dive articles, its explored in many tech podcasts and its even the subject of an ebook.

Three additional hacks were recorded in 2014, bringing the total loss to US$6.7 billion, and making the year an almost comical standout on a graph detailing losses over the past eight years.

By contrast, the second most-catastrophic year was 2016, which saw total losses of US$1.6 billion in cryptocurrency.

Interestingly, 2017 saw an increase in the number of hacks, but a dip in the value stolen. Its perhaps no surprise that there was more criminal interest this was the year of the crypto-boom, in which prices reached a peak of US$20,000.

However, the most hacks occurred in 2019, including that of prominent exchange Binance, which lost about US$60.5 million in bitcoin.

NOW READ:Bitcoin in your pocket: Singapore startup brings cryptocurrency into the physical realm

NOW READ:Is Bitcoin back? Cryptocurrency rallies more than 20%, but no one seems to know why

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Moonday Mornings: Its 2020 and the OneCoin scam is still alive – The Next Web

Welcome to Moonday Mornings, Hard Forks wrap-up of the weekends cryptocurrency and blockchain headlines you shouldnt miss.

Take a look what happened over the last few days.

The Canadian Securities Administration (CSA) issued new terms, which seek to determine which digital asset exchanges fall under derivatives law, last week.

The Guidance on the Application of Securities Legislation to Entities Facilitating the Trading of Crypto Assets draws a line between exchanges that pay out to users immediately and those that hold assets for users. Those that hold the assets will fall under securities legislation.

According to Radio New Zealand, a second Samoan church is being investigated by the Department of Internal Affairs in relation to its involvement in the OneCoin cryptocurrency scam.

Investors have said that OneCoin reps targeted the Samoan community in Auckland, New Zealand. Allegedly they sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. Even though OneCoin is widely known to be a scam, the scheme said it denies any wrongdoing and is not responsible for its independent contractors who sell on its products.

[Read: 2019s juiciest crypto drama: The saga of OneCoins $4B cryptocurrency scam]

Investors that were affected by the unexpected closure of Ugandan cryptocurrency startup Dunamiscoins have taken their complaints to the countrys government, local news reports.

More than 5,000 people have petitioned Ugandan parliament to pursue refunds for the money they invested in Dunamiscoins. Earlier this year, the companys directors were arrested and charged, but have so far denied accusations that they were obtaining money under false pretense.

A Montreal teen is facing four criminal charges in connection with a SIM-swapping attack which was allegedly used in an attempt to steal cryptocurrency from blockchain proponents and father-son duo, Don and Alex Tapscott, The Star reports.

We can confirm that last year a hacker attempted steal crypto assets from our company and its employees, Don Tapscott said. While the Tapscotts may have fended off the attack, others werent so lucky. The case involved dozens of victims local police said, the scammers have reportedly netted themselves $50 million in the US and $300,000 in Canada.

And finally

In a tweet yesterday, Peter Schiff, an American stock broker, said that he has lost all of his Bitcoin because his digital wallet wont accept his password.

According to Schiff, he didnt forget his password, rather his wallet is corrupt and wont accept it. For most of us, losing money or Bitcoin would be a bit of a bummer, but Schiff seems to be taking it in his stride saying: Since all the Bitcoin in my corrupted wallet were gifted to me, its not a great tragedy for me that theyre lost. I wish someone would gift me some Bitcoin.

Now go and get on with your life. Hodl hard kind stranger.

Published January 20, 2020 10:12 UTC

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Thailand launches probe into $2.46M cryptocurrency pyramid scam – The Next Web

Cryptocurrency investors who fell for an alleged pyramid scheme that resulted in losses of more than$2.46 million (THB75 million) have asked Thailands Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to investigate.

According to the Bangkok Post, the cryptocurrency project, known as Khung Nong Cryptocurrency Trading, became famous in parts of the country in 2018.

The scheme allegedly promised maximum returns of 8 percent per week, attracting individuals fromKrabi, Trang, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat who sold their assets including cars, businesses, and land in order to invest.

[Read:Thailands oldest bank hints at new blockchain app powered by Ripple]

Human rights activistPhadungsak Tienpairoj, who has referred 20 victims to the DSI, has now reportedly taken up the case and prompted the department to investigate alongside law enforcement in the Krabi province.

Thailand made headlines in November 2018 as it prepared to launch its first regulated initial coin offering (ICO) portal in a bid to reinforce its tough stance on cryptocurrency and blockchain.

Although todays news wont bring total solace to victims, its certainly a step in the right direction if theyre ever to recover the lost funds.

Published January 17, 2020 14:30 UTC

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$140,600,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) Exits Cryptocurrency Exchange As Whale Moves $6,320,422 in XRP – The Daily Hodl

Whale activity is picking up steam as a big week in the crypto markets comes to a close.

In a 12-hour span, an anonymous crypto whale moved 16,001 Bitcoin (BTC), worth $140.6 million, from the crypto exchange OKEx to an unknown wallet.

While its possible that the whale is OKEx itself moving funds on behalf of its customers, the exchange has not announced plans to move mass funds. The transfers come a day after Bitfinex reportedly moved 123,447 Bitcoin worth $1.1 billion between two of its wallets.

Heres a look at all of the large OKEx transfers in the last day.

Meanwhile, traders are also following a lone crypto whale who moved 27,000,000 XRP worth $6.3 million from the crypto exchange Bithumb to an unknown wallet.

27,000,000 #XRP (6,320,422 USD) transferred from #Bithumb to unknown wallet

Tx: https://t.co/cTFFpOSJ3e

Whale Alert (@whale_alert) January 17, 2020

Both Ethereum and XRP whale activity has been limited over the past week.

Regarding the second and third largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, the most talked-about transfer was a movement of 100,000,000 XRP from Ripple. The payments startup, which owns more than half of all XRP in existence, moved the trove of XRP, which is worth $21.8 million, out of an escrow wallet on Tuesday.

The transfer frees up funds for Ripple to sell to institutions over-the-counter and on crypto exchanges. In recent months, Ripple has reduced the amount of XRP its selling. In the third quarter of 2019, the company reported selling XRP totaling $66 million, down from $251 million in the second quarter.

Ripples fourth quarter report is expected this month.

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Cryptocurrency No longer banned in India? – The Coin Republic

Ritika Sharma Tuesday, 21 January 2020, 08:41 EST Modified date: Tuesday, 21 January 2020, 08:41 EST

The RBI has mentioned that it has not banned the digital coins or cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum etc. The body said that these currencies had only been kept away from the Banking systems, to prevent the digital crimes committed by fraudsters. Earlier a petition had been filed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the not-for-profitable body.

RBI said it had not banned crypto but only ringfenced regulated entities like banks from risks associated

Economic Times

Talking of the RBI, which is the regulatory body of all the issues related to finance and monetary purposes, was established in 1935. The Reserve Bank of India is the regulator of the entire banking of India and plays the role of making and enforcing of the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The body says that it has just ringfenced regulated entities for prevention of crimes such as terror financing and money laundering through cryptocurrencies.

The affidavit issued by RBI says:

The affidavit also mentions that RBI has not prohibited the use of the Virtual currencies, but has directed the entities regulated by it not to provide the services. In a hearing, the IAMAI argues the facts given by the regulatory body and tries to talk the good of it. The next hearing of the case is scheduled for today where much of the matter would be further discussed.

Back in 2018, while the government was taking decisions regarding the digital asset, RBI had mentioned that the ICOs must be prohibited and also that these crypto funds would not be considered as legal entities.

The Liberalised Remittance Scheme, which allowed the people toremita certain amount of money during a financial year to another country for investment and expenditure, was also launched for tracing the investment in these digital assets.

Thus until the next hearing all we can do is to wait and see where this matter results.

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Akons AKOIN Cryptocurrency City White Paper to be Live by February 2020 – The Cryptocurrency Analytics

Akon is all set to build a smart green cryptocurrency city in Senegal. AKON city will use AKOIN.The vision for the cryptocurrency city project was publicized back in 2018, and Akoin will be the sole cryptocurrency of the city. Solar power will be the defining concept of Akon City. The city is set to be powered by renewable energy and, therefore, is set to be an Eco-Tourism Destination.

On January 13, 2020, Akon Tweeted: Just finalized the agreement for AKON CITY in Senegal. Looking forward to hosting you there in the future.

Sydney Ifergan, Crypto Expert Tweeted: Akon is moving ahead with something that is still in the form of an idea in the minds of many. Waiting to visit the smart green cryptocurrency city in Senegal. He further tweeted: Akons love for Africa is seen in his Lighting Africa Initiative. More than ownership, it is philanthropy and empathy to ensure improved lifestyle facilitated with basic necessities.

Sall, Senegal President, gave 2000 acres to the legendary rapper. The construction of the project has already begun, and the second phase of the project construction is allotted for 2025.

Akon stated, Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology offers a more secure currency that enables people in Africa to advance themselves independent of the government.

For those who are not sure about the humane feelings that make this project, Akon, in the past, spoke about how it felt to see young children, grown men, and women crying in wonder because it was the first time that they are witnessing artificial light. Children were able to study at night using artificial light, something that was not possible before the coming of the artificial light. The Akon Lighting project changed the world of the Akon Lighting Area in Africa for better.

The blockchain technology is proving to be a savior for Africa in several ways by giving power to the people through cryptocurrency. Thus, governments cannot force people down when cryptocurrency can lift them.

The 100% crypto-centric city will serve as a model city for several unbanked economies across the world. The realities of the power of blockchain technology are showing up in real-time in the real-world through philanthropists like Akon.

The website of the legendary rapper states that Akoin will soon be available in 54 African Countries. Their goal is to empower Africa by uniting Africa with cryptocurrency.

The White Paper of Akoin Coin will be live by February 2020.

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