Category Archives: Bitcoin
Bitcoins (BTC-USD) chances of falling below $10,000 have increased significantly since mid-April, according to betting aggregators US-Bookies.com.
The odds that Bitcoin drops to $10,000 in 2021 were 8/11 (57.9% implied probability), a sharp increase from mid-April, where the odds were 4/1 (20%).
The latest trends have not indicated a positive outcome for the popular cryptocurrency, a US-Bookies spokesperson said. Bitcoin rose over $2,000 Thursday after the Basel Committee recognized it as an asset class, but fell back down later in the day.
There are many factors that affect trader sentiment, the spokesperson said. But the most significant appear to be US monetary policy and the impact of pressure from mainland China.
Chinas Qinghai province took an aggressive stance against crypto Wednesday by ordering all crypto miners to shut down. The region, which was a hub of mining activity, is the latest of several East Asian regions, including Xinjiang Inner Mongolia, to ban the practice.
Financial sector analysts have identified Bitcoin's reduced market share as a crucial detail supporting bearish attitudes. The virtual currency now represents about 40% of the crypto market, down from 70%.
It should be noted, the spokesperson said, that the market for betting on bitcoin is very small and extends to a handful of jurisdictions globally where sportsbook betting on bitcoin is legal, like Europe. Betting on bitcoin is illegal within the United States.
The data came as little surprise to US-Bookies, as bitcoins predicted gloomy future is within the context of a broader market correction. Cryptocurrency investors should be aware of the asset classes' volatility and these odds are aligned with the sharp correction in the market of late, the spokesperson said.
Ihsaan Fanusie is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @IFanusie.
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When Bitcoin burst onto the scene in 2009, fans heralded the cryptocurrency as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct transactions outside the traditional financial system.
Criminals, often operating in hidden reaches of the internet, flocked to Bitcoin to do illicit business without revealing their names or locations. The digital currency quickly became as popular with drug dealers and tax evaders as it was with contrarian libertarians.
But this weeks revelation that federal officials had recovered most of the Bitcoin ransom paid in the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack exposed a fundamental misconception about cryptocurrencies: They are not as hard to track as cybercriminals think.
On Monday, the Justice Department announced it had traced 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins some $2.3 million of the $4.3 million that Colonial Pipeline had paid to the hackers as the ransomware attack shut down the companys computer systems, prompting fuel shortages and a spike in gasoline prices. Officials have since declined to provide more details about how exactly they recouped the Bitcoin, which has fluctuated in value.
Yet for the growing community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investors, the fact that federal investigators had tracked the ransom as it moved through at least 23 different electronic accounts belonging to DarkSide, the hacking collective, before accessing one account showed that law enforcement was growing along with the industry.
Thats because the same properties that make cryptocurrencies attractive to cybercriminals the ability to transfer money instantaneously without a banks permission can be leveraged by law enforcement to track and seize criminals funds at the speed of the internet.
Bitcoin is also traceable. While the digital currency can be created, moved and stored outside the purview of any government or financial institution, each payment is recorded in a permanent fixed ledger, called the blockchain.
That means all Bitcoin transactions are out in the open. The Bitcoin ledger can be viewed by anyone who is plugged into the blockchain.
It is digital bread crumbs, said Kathryn Haun, a former federal prosecutor and investor at venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Theres a trail law enforcement can follow rather nicely.
Ms. Haun added that the speed with which the Justice Department seized most of the ransom was groundbreaking precisely because of the hackers use of cryptocurrency. In contrast, she said, getting records from banks often requires months or years of navigating paperwork and bureaucracy, especially when those banks are overseas.
Given the public nature of the ledger, cryptocurrency experts said, all law enforcement needed to do was figure out how to connect the criminals to a digital wallet, which stores the Bitcoin. To do so, authorities likely focused on what is known as a public key and a private key.
A public key is the string of numbers and letters that Bitcoin holders have for transacting with others, while a private key is used to keep a wallet secure. Tracking down a users transaction history was a matter of figuring out which public key they controlled, authorities said.
Seizing the assets then required obtaining the private key, which is more difficult. Its unclear how federal agents were able to get DarkSides private key.
Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi declined to say more about how the F.B.I. seized DarkSides private key. According to court documents, investigators accessed the password for one of the hackers Bitcoin wallets, though they did not detail how.
The F.B.I. did not appear to rely on any underlying vulnerability in blockchain technology, cryptocurrency experts said. The likelier culprit was good old-fashioned police work.
Federal agents could have seized DarkSides private keys by planting a human spy inside DarkSides network, hacking the computers where their private keys and passwords were stored, or compelling the service that holds their private wallet to turn them over via search warrant or other means.
If they can get their hands on the keys, its seizable, said Jesse Proudman, founder of Makara, a cryptocurrency investment site. Just putting it on a blockchain doesnt absolve that fact.
The F.B.I. has partnered with several companies that specialize in tracking cryptocurrencies across digital accounts, according to officials, court documents and the companies. Start-ups with names like TRM Labs, Elliptic and Chainalysis that trace cryptocurrency payments and flag possible criminal activity have blossomed as law enforcement agencies and banks try to get ahead of financial crime.
Their technology traces blockchains looking for patterns that suggest illegal activity. Its akin to how Google and Microsoft tamed email spam by identifying and then blocking accounts that spray email links across hundreds of accounts.
Cryptocurrency allows us to use these tools to trace funds and financial flows along the blockchain in ways that we could never do with cash, said Ari Redbord, the head of legal affairs at TRM Labs, a blockchain intelligence company that sells its analytic software to law enforcement and banks. He was previously a senior adviser on financial intelligence and terrorism at the Treasury Department.
Several longtime cryptocurrency enthusiasts said the recovery of much of the Bitcoin ransom was a win for the legitimacy of digital currencies. That would help shift the image of Bitcoin as the playground of criminals, they said.
The public is slowly being shown, in case after case, that Bitcoin is good for law enforcement and bad for crime the opposite of what many historically believed, said Hunter Horsley, chief executive of Bitwise Asset Management, a cryptocurrency investment company.
In recent months, cryptocurrencies have become increasingly mainstream. Companies such as PayPal and Square have expanded their cryptocurrency services. Coinbase, a start-up that allows people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, went public in April and is now valued at $47 billion. Over the weekend, a Bitcoin conference in Miami attracted more than 12,000 attendees, including Twitters chief executive, Jack Dorsey, and the former boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.
As more people use Bitcoin, most are accessing the digital currency in a way that mirrors a traditional bank, through a central intermediary like a crypto exchange. In the United States, anti-money laundering and identity verification laws require such services to know who their customers are, creating a link between identity and account. Customers must upload government identification when they sign up.
Ransomware attacks have put unregulated crypto exchanges under the microscope. Cybercriminals have flocked to thousands of high-risk ones in Eastern Europe that do not abide by these laws.
After the Colonial Pipeline attack, several financial leaders proposed a ban on cryptocurrency.
We can live in a world with cryptocurrency or a world without ransomware, but we cant have both, Lee Reiners, the executive director of the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke Law School, wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
Cryptocurrency experts said the hackers could have tried to make their Bitcoin accounts even more secure. Some cryptocurrency holders go to great lengths to store their private keys away from anything connected to the internet, in what is called a cold wallet. Some memorize the string of numbers and letters. Others write them down on paper, though those can be obtained by search warrants or police work.
The only way to obtain the truly unseizable characteristic of the asset class is to memorize the keys and not have them written down anywhere, Mr. Proudman said.
Mr. Raimondi of the Justice Department said the Colonial Pipeline ransom seizure was the latest sting operation by federal prosecutors to recoup illicitly gained cryptocurrency. He said the department has made many seizures, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, from unhosted cryptocurrency wallets used for criminal activity.
In January, the Justice Department disrupted another ransomware group, NetWalker, which used ransomware to extort money from municipalities, hospitals, law enforcement agencies and schools.
As part of that sting, the department obtained about $500,000 of NetWalkers cryptocurrency that had been collected from victims of their ransomware.
While these individuals believe they operate anonymously in the digital space, we have the skill and tenacity to identify and prosecute these actors to the full extent of the law and seize their criminal proceeds, Maria Chapa Lopez, then the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, said when the case was announced.
In February, the Justice Department said it had warrants to seize nearly $2 million in cryptocurrencies that North Korean hackers had stolen and put into accounts at two different cryptocurrency exchanges.
Last August, the department also unsealed a complaint outing North Korean hackers who stole $28.7 million of cryptocurrency from a cryptocurrency exchange, and then laundered the proceeds through Chinese cryptocurrency laundering services. The F.B.I. traced the funds to 280 cryptocurrency wallets and their owners.
In the end, cryptocurrencies are actually more transparent than most other forms of value transfer, said Madeleine Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Chainalysis, the start-up that traces cryptocurrency payments. Certainly more transparent than cash.
Bitcoin continues its sharp decline.
The digital currency Tuesday tumbled more than 6%, falling to $32,000 and ending the day at roughly $33,300, after U.S. officials seized more than $2 million in bitcoin tied to the Colonial Pipeline ransom. While questions remain as to how the U.S. gained access to the hacker's bitcoin wallet, concerns arose about how impregnable the cryptocurrency may be.
Michael Binger, president of Gradient Investments, says security is just one of the reasons he remains on the sidelines when it comes to bitcoin.
"I understand that crypto is a global currency, it's unregulated; I understand that some may be concerned about U.S. inflation and a weakening dollar, but I still think that gold is a better hedge if those are your concerns," Binger told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Tuesday.
Bitcoin is seen by some investors as the digital alternative to gold, holding a store of value that can hedge inflation risk.
"Crypto is just way too volatile, way too speculative for our client base," said Binger. "I really think the crypto market is more for retail traders who are trading on price momentum both up and down and a handful of corporations that are willing to take a swing at it."
Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global and chief market strategist at Lido Advisors, is also steering clear of the asset.
"We're still sellers of bitcoin," Sanchez said during the same interview. "The broader market and the economy, quite frankly, are showing a lot of money shifting back into the economy through consumption and through investment, and it's hurting all speculative assets."
Tuesday's sell-off was just the most recent drop for bitcoin. It has also come under pressure after Tesla reversed a decision to allow payments to be made in the coin and as the threat of regulation in the U.S. and overseas looms.
"Bitcoin lands solidly in that space as a speculative asset, but we're also seeing SPACs, IPOs, all get hit, all at the same time, and we see this as just a sign that money is moving away from speculation back into the real economy," added Sanchez.
CNBC's Jim Cramer is advising that investors who are searching for entry and exit points keep a close eye on both stock and cryptocurrency trades in the coming weeks.
The "Mad Money" host on Friday reviewed chart analysis from Tom DeMark, the founder and head of DeMark Analytics.
"The charts, as interpreted by Tom DeMark, suggest that bitcoin might take another month to bottom, while the S&P 500 could peak as soon as next week," he said. "Considering Tom's track record, that's a good reason to be patient with bitcoin and approach the S&P with some caution."
DeMark invented the DeMark Indicator, which some traders use to time the market. The methodology, which follows patterns to project when a trend could change course, is popular among crypto traders to spot highs and lows, Cramer said.
Cramer reviewed the daily chart action for bitcoin, which peaked at around $65,000 in mid-April. The digital coin is now trading above $37,300 as of Friday after falling to $30,000 in mid-May.
DeMark, who said the drop in bitcoin resembles the crash of 1987, projected that the decline could bring the token's value to a floor of $32,000 or $24,000 in the worst case. He now thinks that bitcoin will generally hold above the May 19th low, Cramer said.
In what's known as "Black Monday," the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than 20% on Oct. 19, 1987. It was the bookend of a 36% decline in the blue-chip index from August that year.
"If DeMark's right, you could get a chance to buy bitcoin in the not-too-distant future, and I might take it," Cramer said. "I think this '87 analogy is good news. After the crash of '87, the stock market bounced back fast."
As for the S&P 500, which closed at a record for the second-straight day, DeMark's indicator suggests the index could be close to a top, Cramer said. DeMark has price targets of $4,335 and $4,344, about 2% higher than Friday's finish.
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Jim Cramer: Be patient with bitcoin, approach the S&P with caution - CNBC
Hacking bitcoin wallets with quantum computers could happen but cryptographers are racing to build a workaround – CNBC
Intel's 17-qubit quantum test chip.
Stefan Thomas really could have used a quantum computer this year.
The German-born programmer and crypto trader forgot the password to unlock his digital wallet, which contains 7,002 bitcoin, now worth $265 million. Quantum computers, which will be several million times faster than traditional computers, could have easily helped him crack the code.
Though quantum computing is still very much in its infancy, governments and private-sector companies such as Microsoft and Google are working to make it a reality. Within a decade, quantum computers could be powerful enough to break the cryptographic security that protects cell phones, bank accounts, email addresses and yes bitcoin wallets.
"If you had a quantum computer today, and you were a state sponsor China, for example most probably in about eight years, you could crack wallets on the blockchain," said Fred Thiel, CEO of cryptocurrency mining specialist Marathon Digital Holdings.
This is precisely why cryptographers around the world are racing to build a quantum-resistant encryption protocol.
Right now, much of the world runs on something called asymmetric cryptography, in which individuals use a private and public key pair to access things such as email and crypto wallets.
"Every single financial institution, every login on your phone it is all based on asymmetric cryptography, which is susceptible to hacking with a quantum computer," Thiel said. Thiel is a former director of Utimaco, one of the largest cryptography companies in Europe, which has worked with Microsoft, Google and others on post-quantum encryption.
The public-private key pair lets users produce a digital signature, using their private key, which can be verified by anyone who has the corresponding public key.
In the case of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, this digital signature is called the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm, and it ensures that bitcoin can only be spent by the rightful owner.
Theoretically, someone using quantum computing could reverse-engineer your private key, forge your digital signature, and subsequently empty your bitcoin wallet.
"If I was dealing in fear-mongering ... I'd tell you that among the first types of digital signatures that will be broken by quantum computers are elliptic curves, as we use them today, for bitcoin wallets," said Thorsten Groetker, former Utimaco CTO and one of the top experts in the field of quantum computing.
"But that would happen if we do nothing," he said.
Crypto experts told CNBC they aren't all that worried about quantum hacking of bitcoin wallets for a couple of different reasons.
Castle Island Ventures founding partner Nic Carter pointed out that quantum breaks would be gradual rather than sudden.
"We would have plenty of forewarning if quantum computing was reaching the stage of maturity and sophistication at which it started to threaten our core cryptographic primitives," he said. "It wouldn't be something that happens overnight."
There is also the fact that the community knows that it is coming, and researchers are already in the process of building quantum-safe cryptography.
"The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) has been working on a new standard for encryption for the future that's quantum-proof," said Thiel.
NIST is running that selection process now, picking the best candidates and standardizing them.
"It's a technical problem, and there's a technical solution for it," said Groetker. "There are new and secure algorithms for digital signatures. ... You will have years of time to migrate your funds from one account to another."
Groetker said he expects the first standard quantum-safe crypto algorithm by 2024, which is still, as he put it, well before we'd see a quantum computer capable of breaking bitcoin's cryptography.
Once a newly standardized post-quantum secure cryptography is built, Groetker said, the process of mass migration will begin. "Everyone who owns bitcoin or ethereum will transfer [their] funds from the digital identity that is secured with the old type of key, to a new wallet, or new account, that's secured with a new type of key, which is going to be secure," he said.
However, this kind of upgrade in security requires users to be proactive. In some scenarios, where fiat money accounts are centralized through a bank, this process may be easier than requiring a decentralized network of crypto holders to update their systems individually.
"Not everybody, regardless of how long it takes, will move their funds in time," said Groetker. Inevitably, there will be users who forget their password or perhaps passed away without sharing their key.
"There will be a number of wallets ... that become increasingly insecure, because they're using weaker keys."
But there are ways to deal with this kind of failing in security upgrade. For example, an organization could lock down all accounts still using the old type of cryptography and give owners some way to access it. The trade-off here would be the loss of anonymity when users go to reclaim their balance.
Follow us @crypto for our full coverage.
Bitcoins recent bounce has yet to dispel doubts about its vulnerability following a rout in May.
The cryptocurrency has jumped about 14% over two days and was trading at $38,295 as of 11:05 a.m. in London on Thursday. While the momentum may cheer bulls, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. team said backwardation in a part of the futures market -- where the spot price is above futures prices -- is reason for caution.
We believe that the return to backwardation in recent weeks has been a negative signal pointing to a bear market, JPMorgan strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note. They added that Bitcoins relatively depressed share of total crypto market value is another concerning trend.
The JPMorgan analysis is based on the 21-day rolling average of the 2nd Bitcoin futures spread over spot prices, and pointed out the Bitcoin futures curve was in backwardation for most of 2018. That year, the cryptocurrency fell 74% after a boom. Backwardation is an unusual development and a reflection of how weak Bitcoin demand is at the moment from institutional investors who tend use contracts listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, according to the report.
The cryptocurrencys share of overall crypto market value is about 42% currently, down from roughly 70% at the start of the year, according to data from tracker CoinGecko. For some analysts, thats in part a sign of retail-driven investor froth lifting other coins.
Bitcoins share may need to top 50% to make it easier to argue the current bear market is over, the JPMorgan strategists said in the June 9 report. Panigirtzoglou previously flagged Bitcoins declining market share in early May, ahead of tumble in the coins price.
Traders are waiting for the next catalyst to break Bitcoin from a $30,000 to $40,000 range thats been in place since a decline from a record of almost $65,000 in April. Public criticism of the digital currencys energy needs by tycoon Elon Musk and a Chinese regulatory crackdown are among obstacles. Bulls got a bit of a lift Wednesday after El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender.
We will need to see a break here for the bulls to feel were out of this period of vulnerability, Chris Weston, head of research with Pepperstone Financial Pty, wrote in a note Thursday.
(Updates markets in the second paragraph.)
Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
Bitcoin is bouncing back from its recent lows.
The cryptocurrency climbed nearly 9% on Wednesday after hitting a three-week bottom Tuesday, fueled in part by El Salvador becoming the first country to accept bitcoin as legal tender. Interactive Brokers also said Wednesday that it would launch crypto trading on its popular platform by the end of the summer.
But significant obstacles remain, long-term bitcoin bull Todd Gordon told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Wednesday.
"We're recently short bitcoin. We've covered it," said the TradingAnalysis.com founder, adding that he's still a long-term holder. "There's a lot of sort of bad things, bad narratives weighing against it."
With investors still reluctant to embrace it as a store of value, competition from ethereum increasing, the governments of China, Turkey and India cracking down, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk raising environmental concerns, bitcoin's headwinds aren't exactly few and far between, Gordon said.
"If we look at the technicals, you saw a 53% drop in 2019, a 62% drop in '20 and we just saw a 53% drop. So, we could go a little bit lower, but right now, I think we're neutral," Gordon said.
He suggested watching some key inflation data the consumer price index (CPI), set to be released Thursday for hints on where bitcoin could head next.
"If that CPI number is not hot, watch bitcoin's reaction and that'll start to tell you maybe it's an inflation hedge," he said.
One fellow bitcoin bull wasn't as worried for the near term.
"I'm still bullish and still buying," Delano Saporu, founder and CEO of New Street Advisors Group, said in the same "Trading Nation" interview.
With El Salvador, "you're seeing a country that's going to possibly be able to level the playing field for a lot of folks," Saporu said.
"They mentioned 70% of people in the country aren't able to have financial services readily available," he said. "That's one of the use cases that a lot of people are bullish on when it comes to cryptocurrencies in general, so, we're definitely still buying and definitely still bullish."
Disclosure: Gordon owns bitcoin and shares of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC). Saporu and New Street Advisors Group own bitcoin.
Cryptocurrency News Today June 12: Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Shiba Inu and other top coins prices and all latest u… – Zee Business
Bitcoin and all majortop cryptocurrencies were trading in red at3:45 pm on Saturday, June 12.In line with its recent trends,overall global crypto market was down by over 15 per centon the weekend, showedCoinSwitchKuber data.World number one cryptocurrency Bitcoin was down by 6% and was trading at Rs 27,28,815after hitting day's high of Rs 29,00,208.
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Ethereum, ranked at 2ndposition globally, was trading at Rs1,84,949, down 3.35%. It reached a day high of Rs 1,90,490 and slid up to Rs 1,75,060.
Ranked 3, Tether continued to trade in limited space and was marginally up by 0.05%. Market price of Tether was RS 77.4716.Meme coinsDogecoin, Shiba Inu were down over 5 % and 10%. Dogecoin was trading at Rs23.869532 andShibaInuat Rs 0.000462.Other coins like Polka Dot andBinanacecoin were trading down 9.94% and 6.79% respectively.Matic was also trading over 10 per cent lower on Saturday.
Meanwhile inthe latestnews related to cryptocurrency,China`s crackdown on cryptocurrencies spread to the country`s southwest with a campaign against misuse of electricity by bitcoin miners in Yunnan province, Reuters quoted local media reported saying this on Saturday.
Earlier, after it was widely reported that ED has served a showcause notice toWazirXand its directorsovercryptocurrency transactions worth Rs. 2,790.74 crore, India's largest cryptocurrency Exchange refuted any suchnotice. "WazirXis yet to receive any show cause notice from the Enforcement Directorate as mentioned in today's media reports.WazirXis in compliance with all applicable laws. We go beyond our legal obligations by following Know Your Customer (KYC) and should we receive a formal communication or notice from the ED, we'll fully cooperate in the investigation.Please note: Your funds are absolutely safe onWazirX,"tweeted the crypto exchange
In India, despite the Supreme Courtstruckingdown RBI 2018 circular that barred banks and financialinstitutions from engaging in crypto dealings,uncertaintyprevails as far as crypto trading in country is concerned.
Nayib Bukele, El Salvador's president, delivers a speech to Congress at the Legislative Assembly building in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Photographer: Camilo Freedman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
MIAMI El Salvador is looking to introduce legislation that will make it the world's first sovereign nation to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, alongside the U.S. dollar.
In a video broadcast to Bitcoin 2021, a multiday conference in Miami being billed as the biggest bitcoin event in history, President Nayib Bukele announced El Salvador's partnership with digital wallet company, Strike, to build the country's modern financial infrastructure using bitcoin technology.
"Next week I will send to congress a bill that will make bitcoin a legal tender," said Bukele.
Jack Mallers, founder of the Lightning Network payments platform Strike, said this will go down as the "shot heard 'round the world for bitcoin."
"What's transformative here is that bitcoin is both the greatest reserve asset ever created and a superior monetary network. Holding bitcoin provides a way to protect developing economies from potential shocks of fiat currency inflation," continued Mallers.
Speaking from the mainstage, Mallers said the move will help unleash the power and potential of bitcoin for everyday use cases on an open network that benefits individuals, businesses, and public sector services.
El Salvador is a largely cash economy, where roughly 70% of people do not have bank accounts or credit cards. Remittances, or the money sent home by migrants, account for more than 20% of El Salvador's gross domestic product. Incumbent services can charge 10% or more in fees for those international transfers, which can sometimes take days to arrive and that sometimes require a physical pick-up.
Bitcoin isn't backed by an asset, nor does it have the full faith and backing of any one government. Its value is derived, in part, from the fact that it is digitally scarce; there will only ever be 21 million bitcoin in existence.
While details are still forthcoming about how the rollout will work, CNBC is told that El Salvador has assembled a team of bitcoin leaders to help build a new financial ecosystem with bitcoin as the base layer.
Bukele's New Ideas party has control over the country's Legislative Assembly, so passage of the bill is very likely.
"It was an inevitability, but here already: the first country on track to make bitcoin legal tender," said Adam Back, CEO of Blockstream.
Back said he plans to contribute technologies like Liquid and satellite infrastructure to make El Salvador a model for the world.
"We're pleased to help El Salvador on its journey towards adoption of the Bitcoin Standard," he said.
This isn't El Salvador's first move into bitcoin. In March, Strike launched its mobile payments app there, and it quickly became the number one downloaded app in the country.
Bukele has been very popular, with his populist New Ideas party sweeping recent elections. However, the new assembly recently came under fire after it ousted the attorney general and top judges. The move prompted the U.S. Agency for International Development to pull aid from El Salvador's national police and a public information institute, instead re-routing funds to civil society groups.
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El Salvador looks to become the first country to adopt ...
A banner with the logo of bitcoin is seen during the crypto-currency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021.
Marco Bello | AFP | Getty Images
Bitcoin's price slipped again Tuesday. The world's largest cryptocurrency continued to fall throughout the day amid a brutal sell-off among digital currencies.
The reason for the move was unclear, however it may be related to concerns over security of the cryptocurrency after U.S. officials managed to recover most of the ransom paid to hackers that targeted Colonial Pipeline.
Court documents said investigators were able to access the password for one of the hackers' bitcoin wallets. The money was recovered by a recently launched task force in Washington created as part of the government's response to a rise in cyberattacks.
Bitcoin accelerated its slide late Tuesday morning, falling almost 11% at 11 a.m. ET to a price of $31,629, according to Coin Metrics data. Smaller digital coins also slumped, with ether falling nearly 13% to $2,368 and XRP tanking over 12%.
In April, 2021 was looking to be a banner year for digital assets, with bitcoin having topped $60,000 for the first time ever. But a recent plunge in crypto prices has shaken confidence in the market. Bitcoin sank to nearly $30,000 last month, and is currently down almost 50% from its all-time high.
The digital currency is now up only 9% since the start of the year, though it's still more than tripled in price from a year ago.
On Monday, U.S. law enforcement officials said they had seized $2.3 million in bitcoin paid to DarkSide, the cybercriminal gang behind a crippling cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline.
According to a court document, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to access the "private key," or password, for one of the hackers' bitcoin wallets. Bitcoin has often been the currency of choice for hackers demanding ransom payments to decrypt data locked by malware known as "ransomware."
Crypto media outlet Decrypt reported there were unfounded rumors that the attackers' bitcoin wallet had been "hacked," an unlikely scenario.
DarkSide, which reportedly received $90 million in bitcoin ransom payments before shutting down, operated a so-called "ransomware as a service" business model, where hackers develop and market ransomware tools and sell them to affiliates who then carry out attacks.
According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, the seized funds represented the bulk of the DarkSide affiliate's share of the ransom paid out by Colonial.
John Hultquist, vice president of analysis at Mandiant Threat Intelligence, called the move a "welcome development."
"It has become clear that we need to use several tools to stem the tide of this serious problem, and even law enforcement agencies need to broaden their approach beyond building cases against criminals who may be beyond the grasp of the law," said Hultquist.
"In addition to the immediate benefits of this approach, a stronger focus on disruption may disincentivize this behavior, which is growing in a vicious cycle," he added.
A number of issues are weighing on cryptocurrencies, including fears of a regulatory clampdown and recent tweets from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Chinese authorities last month called for a crackdown on crypto mining and trading. Once a major player in the market, China has since moved to stamp out speculative investment in cryptocurrencies, banning a fundraising method known as initial coin offerings and shuttering local exchanges.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk has gone from a supporter of bitcoin to seemingly falling out of love with it in a matter of months. Musk's electric car firm stopped accepting bitcoin as a payment method last month due to concerns over its environmental impact, resulting in a crypto market sell-off.
"Bitcoin bulls have been chastened by the market pull back and perhaps are feeling once bitten, twice shy," Charles Hayter, CEO of digital currency data firm CryptoCompare, told CNBC.
"The euphoria has worn off to some extent in the retail frenzy, as regulators have moved to temper manias," he added. "Data is showing continued cornering of the market by institutionals."
Last week, thousands of bitcoin investors descended on Miami for an event billed as the biggest bitcoin event in history.
The conference had a few bizarre highlights, including El Salvador President Nayib Bukele announcing plans for the country to accept bitcoin as legal tender.