Sunday, Dec. 23 — all of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are seeing moderate gains, with Bitcoin’s (BTC) price going above $4,000 again, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Market visualization

Market visualization from Coin360

At press time, Bitcoin is up nearly four percent on the day, trading at $4,050. Looking at its weekly chart, the current price is lower than the Friday’s high of almost $4,200; but the cryptocurrency is still trading significantly up from $3,294 — the point at which it started this week.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP) — the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization — has gained over five percent on the day, trading at $0.374 as of press time.

On the weekly chart, the current price is significantly higher than $0.292, the price at which XRP started the week. However, the current price is slightly lower than the high of $0.389 reached on Wednesday.

Ripple 7-day price chart

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum (ETH) remains the third largest cryptocurrency by market cap, seeing a 15 percent value increase over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading at $128, having started the day at $111 and hitting an intra-day high of $133.

On the weekly chart, the current price is notably higher than $87, which was the value of ETH on Monday.

Ethereum 7-day chart

Ethereum 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, some are reporting more significant growth rates. Namely, NEO has gained 12 percent, and EOS is also up nearly 12 percent. Cardano (ADA), Litecoin (LTC), IOTA and Ethereum Classic (ETC) are all up almost 10 percent.

The combined market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies has surged to over $135 billion at press time. This places the current market cap near its weekly high of over $137 billion, after having started the week at just $104 billion.

As Cointelegraph reported recently, co-founder of Ethereum, Joseph Lubin, declared on Twitter that he is “calling the cryptobottom of 2018.” He further added that from his perspective “the future looks very bright.”

Earlier this week, two United States congressmen introduced a bipartisan bill titled “Token Taxonomy Act,” which proposes to exempt crypto assets from being considered securities.

United States lawmakers have introduced a bill to levy further sanctions on Iranian financial institutions and the development and use of the national digital currency. HR 7321 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Gallagher on Dec. 17.

In a bid to combat money laundering and terrorism-related activities, the “Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act” calls for sanctions on the Iranian financial sector and on the development and use of the national cryptocurrency.

The act specifically prohibits transactions, financing or other dealings related to an Iranian digital currency, and would also introduce sanctions on foreign individuals engaged in the sale, supply, holding or transfer of the digital currency.

The act also calls for a report to Congress on the government of Iran’s progress in developing a sovereign digital currency. A corresponding bill was introduced in the Senate by former presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz on Dec. 13.

The U.S. government introduced sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program in 2005, while the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act in 2010. The sanctions affected the financial sector of the country, barring financial institutions of Iran from directly accessing the U.S. financial system.

The sanctions were lifted in 2015 after the country agreed to dial down its nuclear program to meet standards set out by International Atomic Energy Agency in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

However, in May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that America would withdraw from the JCPOA that was brokered under his predecessor President Barack Obama. Sanctions were subsequently reintroduced.

Many Iranians have turn to cryptocurrency as a way to skirt sanctions. In May, Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, the head of the Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Economic Affairs, referred to cryptocurrencies as a promising way for Iran to avoid U.S. dollar transactions, as well as a possibly replace the SWIFT interbank payment system.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier in December, Iranians are turning to Bitcoin (BTC) mining due to economic difficulties. Despite the recent crash in crypto markets and fluctuations in the national rial currency caused by sanctions, Iranian people are still reportedly managing to gain profits from mining Bitcoin.

Despite the market downturn in digital asset values, cryptocurrency automated teller machines (ATMs) are still in vogue. According to a tweet from cryptocurrency analytics firm DataLight, the number of crypto ATMs doubled in 2018 from 2,025 ATMs in 2017 to 4,051 ATMs, signaling an increase in the adoption of cryptocurrencies in general, despite the slump in price.

November will go down as a month investors won’t forget in a hurry, as bitcoin, along with the rest of the cryptocurrency market, experienced a massive slump in prices. Bitcoin, the dominant cryptocurrency, fell to $3,750 in November, as the market witnessed massive selloffs that would have bitcoin touch nearly $3,000 in December.

Data from Coin ATM Radar shows that while 68 bitcoin ATMs were closed in November, 209 new machines were also installed by operators all across the world. Bitcoin of America led the way, introducing 16 new ATMs, followed closely by CoinFlip Bitcoin ATMs and Localcoin, who installed 10 and 7 new ATMs, respectively.

While the U.S. remains the dominant country with 70 new installations, Peru, Albania and South Korea had their first bitcoin ATMs installed in November, the data from Coin ATM Radar revealed.

Bitcoin ATMs have also been a target of criminals. Security researchers at Trend Micro discovered malware that targets a service vulnerability in bitcoin ATMs, selling for $25,000, in an underground forum.

A senior researcher at Trend Micro, Fernando Mercês, commented on the vulnerability in his report, criticizing bitcoin ATMs for their lack of security standards, which make them easy to hack.

“Unlike regular ATMs, there is no single set of verification or security standards for Bitcoin ATMs. For example, instead of requiring an ATM, credit, or debit card for transactions, a Bitcoin ATM involves the use of mobile numbers and ID cards for user identity verification.”

They might not be as secure as traditional ATMs, but they are still finding meaningful uses cases across the world.

Bitcoin ATMs and Cannabis

While providing an easy avenue to trade bitcoin, these crypto ATMs have also created a channel for pot companies that are experiencing banking restrictions.

Bitcoin ATMs have made it easier for pot companies to receive payments from customers, thereby reducing their dependencies on cash. Cannabis cryptocurrency PotCoin also partnered with bitcoin ATM provider GENERAL BYTES (GB), making use of GB’s network of crypto ATMs to ease the transaction process for cannabis vendors.

Virtual Crypto Technologies also developed a proprietary crypto payment solution for cannabis dispensaries that enables them to exchange pot for bitcoin using a QR code placed on the shop’s point-of-sale interface.

A supposed Bitcoin (BTC) millionaire has been arrested in Hong Kong after “making it rain cash” on the streets, local English-language news outlet the Shanghaiist reported on Dec. 17.

On Sunday, a swathe of 100-Hong Kong dollar bills were thrown off a roof in Sham Shui Po, one of the poorest Hong Kong neighborhoods. Wong Ching-kit, a local cryptocurrency enthusiast, purported Bitcoin millionaire, and entrepreneur who owns the Epoch Cryptocurrency website, is reportedly believed to be responsible for the stunt.

In a video posted on Epoch’s Facebook page, he is seen asking “does anyone believe that money can fall from the sky?” before money starts falling from a high building behind him.

The description of the video details a competition wherein participants can allegedly win large cash prizes. In another video Ching-kit reportedly describes himself inside a luxury car as some kind of “god” that “steals from the rich and gives to the poor.”

According to Shanghaiist, the man was subsequently arrested by local police, reportedly before performing another publicity stunt. Shanghaiist reports that he was detained for “disorderly conduct in a public place” while live-streaming with a stack of cash in his hand.

Leo Weese, a member of the local crypto community, tweeted that Ching-kit is not a Bitcoin millionaire but is instead “running a pyramid-like scheme.” The police reportedly claim to have only recovered 6,000 Hong Kong dollars ($767) while “a popular Twitter post claims, unreasonably, that ‘100’s of millions of HKD’ was dropped from the rooftop.”

In May 2018, organizers of a blockchain conference in China were subjected to harsh criticism after they arranged a performance including a Mao Zedong impersonator. An actor dressed in a grey Mao suit gave a speech in the style of the Chairman, wishing success to the audience in an accent from Mao’s birth province of Hunan, declaring:

“You are worthy of being called the great sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, and I thank you in the name of Mao Zedong.”

The organizers reportedly broke a law prohibiting the use of the image of any past or present leader in promotional activities and television advertisements.

Earlier that same month, a Ukrainian initial coin offering (ICO) publicity stunt on Mount Everest resulted in the death of a sherpa. Social network ASKfm sponsored “crypto enthusiasts” to climb Mount Everest and place a Ledger wallet holding 500,000 in ASKfm tokens at the peak. The sherpa died during the descent.

The world’s second largest stock exchange Nasdaq and U.S. investment firm VanEck have announced a partnership to jointly launch a set of “transparent, regulated and surveilled” digital assets products. VanEck’s director of digital asset strategy Gabor Gurbacs tweeted the news Nov. 27.

Gurbacs revealed the partnership at the Consensus:Invest crypto conference in New York City. The announcement echoes yesterday’s report from Bloomberg, citing “two people familiar with the matter,” that Nasdaq would be rolling out a Bitcoin (BTC) futures contract as early as Q1 ‘19.

Gurbacs indicated in his tweet that the new products would harness Nasdaq’s SMARTS Market Surveillance system, alongside VanEck’s MVIS digital asset pricing indices.

SMARTS is a cross-market, cross-asset, multi-venue surveillance tool that correlates real-time and historical data with detection patterns to trace illegal market activities such as spoofing and wash trading.

As of press time, it has not been confirmed whether the BTC futures contract will be cash-backed, or physically settled (i.e. with returns paid out in BTC rather than fiat currency).

As reported, VanEck is currently awaiting a final decision from securities regulators on its joint proposal for a physically-backed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) together with blockchain software and financial services firm SolidX.

After a rejection by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March 2017, the proposal was re-submitted for listing on CBOE’s BZX Equities Exchange this June. Its fate is still pending since the SEC postponed its decision this August.

While cash-settled Bitcoin futures contracts came to market as early as December 2017, the first physically-delivered Bitcoin futures are targeted for launch in January 2019 on Bakkt, the digital assets platform created by New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) operator, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).

The German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) has ordered partial cessation of activities by U.K.-based crypto-related firm Finatex Ltd., according to an official announcement published on BaFin’s website on Friday, Nov. 9.

According to the BaFin’s notice, reportedly dated Oct. 2, Finatex Ltd. is ordered to “immediately” stop offering cross-border proprietary trading on its trading platform, Crypto-Capitals. According to BaFin’s announcement friday, the firm must cease trading since its activity is not approved by German financial legislation, including the German Banking Act.

In a short description of the company’s activities, the financial regulator noted that Crypto-Capitals offers “options, contracts for difference (CFDs) on shares, indices, currencies and commodities.” In turn, the company positions itself as a “premium cryptocurrency trading platform operator.” The firm also evidently does not possess an account on any of the social networks listed on its website.

Previously, BaFin has addressed the cryptocurrency industry with public warnings, particularly focusing on Initial Coin Offering (ICO) projects. In late 2017, Germany’s major financial regulator warned investors about the risks of investing in ICO tokens, claiming that ICO investors take all associated risks upon themselves due to the “lack of legal requirements and transparency rules” in the industry.

In February of this year, BaFin clarified obligations for ICO issuers, following “increased queries” about ICO tokens, with operators specifically inquiring “whether the underlying tokens, coins or cryptocurrencies behind so-called ICOs are viewed as financial instruments within the area of securities supervision.”

Most recently, last month BaFin urged the global community to combine efforts in order to regulate the ICO industry, despite uncertainty as to whether ICOs will remain a “niche issue,” or become a “standard part of the financial economy.”

Prior to that, in June 2018, BaFin’s President stated that the main mission of the agency is not protecting individual retail investors, but rather the preservation of general financial stability.

According to the company’s release, MultiVAC reported achieving 30,784 transactions per second (TPS) using 64 shards. While the total amount of transactions for all shards used exceeded 30K at its peak, a single a shard was claimed to reach 533 TPS.

MultiVAC also claimed in the release that their “all-dimensional sharding expansion solution” could potentially be used for large-scale commercial applications, as well as for crypto mining on low-performance computers.

The term sharding in crypto is most often applied in reference to the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain’s upcoming major upgrades. In May 2018, Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin hinted that sharding – or splitting up the workload for transaction between nodes to speed up processing time – would be implemented on Ethereum.

In late October, Buterin revealed the roadmap for Ethereum 2.0, dubbed Serenity, during his keynote speech at the annual Devcon conference. Apart from a transfer to a proof-of-stake algorithm, the Ethereum think tank also confirmed that Serenity would implement sharding.

Earlier in October, Bitcoin (BTC) developer Mark Friedenbach presented a method for Bitcoin scaling that would rely on sharding and reportedly would not require a hard fork. He  claimed the new solution would be able to increase “settlement transaction volume to 3,584 times current levels” and improve censorship resistance.

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Colorado State Securities Commissioner Gerald Rome has issued a cease and desist order to four Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) for allegedly offering unregistered securities, according to an official notice published Nov. 8.

The orders come as part of a state operation by the “ICO Task Force” within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), which in May of this year commenced investigations into potentially unlawful activity targeting cryptocurrency investors. With yesterday’s orders, DORA has now issued 12 cease and desist actions against ICOs.

On Nov. 8, Rome signed four orders to Bitcoin Investments, Ltd. — which is also conducting  business as DB Capital — PinkDate, Prisma, and Clear Shop Vision Ltd.

Per the notice, Bitcoin Investments claims to be a blockchain investment firm with over $700 million assets under management across multiple funds. The company allegedly promised its customers over one percent daily returns along with additional returns on internal trading of the “DB Token.”

The company reportedly claimed that “the average registered investment return over a two month period in 2017 was an amazing 95 percent,” while its ICO lists a number of celebrity promoters.

Bitcoin Investments’ website reportedly deploys the same format, visual content, and employee team as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) educational site about related risks for potential crypto investors. Per the statement, DB Token ICO has not been registered as a security with the Division of Securities.

“Anonymously-operated, worldwide escorting service[s]” company Pinkdate allegedly seeks to fundrise more than $5 million via an ICO in tokens referred to as PinkDate Platform (PDP). The statement says that the firm promises investors “50 percent of Net Profits through dividends” in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Monero (XMR), or Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The PinkDate ICO allegedly has not been registered with the Division of Securities.

As for Prisma, its website allegedly requires users to buy its native crypto Prismacoin (PRIS) to use a proposed lending and arbitraging investment platform, through which investors could ostensibly profit up to 27 percent on their initial investment. The “arbitrage bot” is claimed to generate returns of up to 1.5 percent daily.

The last company on the list, Clear Shop Vision, Ltd, has promoted three ICOs since June 2018 and offered “ORC Token” with a “serious appreciation potential.” The company’s site allegedly directs investors to send ETH directly to Clear Shop’s ETH wallet, but not through a crypto exchange.

Per the notice, all mentioned companies have to immediately cease and desist all alleged violations of the Colorado Securities Act, including unregistered securities and fraud.

Nov. 2: Cryptocurrency markets have continued trading slightly in the green today, remaining relatively quiet with moderate gains throughout the top 20 coins. Most of the top 100 digital currencies have experienced humble gains over the past 24 hours.

COIN360

Market visualization from Coin360

The leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) is up only 0.06 percent on the day, and is trading at around $6,395 as of press time. BTC has seen slight volatility during the day, with the deepest and highest points of $6,327 and $6,396 respectively.

BTC

Bitcoin 24-hour chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum (ETH) is up by slightly almost 1 percent over the last 24 hours, trading around $200, and the altcoin’s weekly chart showing its price decreasing by a relatively modest 0.41 percent. After dipping to its weekly low of $193.29 on Oct. 31, ETH has been steadily gaining in price.

ETH

Ethereum 24-hour chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The third largest cryptocurrency by market cap Ripple (XRP) is up by 0.57 percent over the last 24 hours, and trading around $0.459 at press time. Over the past seven days, XRP is down by 0.06 percent.

XRP

XRP 24-hour chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) has stood out among other top 10 coins, making gains of 9 percent on the day. The altcoin is trading at around $462, while its daily trading volume is around $522 million, according to CoinMarketCap. On its weekly chart, BCH rose to as high as $469 following a dive to $411.

BCH

Bitcoin Cash 24-hour chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

During the last week, total market cap has seen some notable fluctuations, with a sudden dive to $202 billion and surge to $209 billion on Oct. 29 and Nov. 1 respectively. After jumping to as much as $209 billion yesterday, total market capitalization dropped to $205 billion, after which it saw moderate gains today.

TOTAL

Total market capitalization weekly chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The industry has been awaiting the decision of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the review of proposed rule changes related to a series of applications to list and trade various BTC Exchange-Traded Fund (ETFs) set for Nov. 5.

Yesterday, the so-called “godfather of ETFs” Reggie Browne said that Bitcoin ETFs will be certified “no time soon.” He specified that Bitcoin ETFs will be approved only after the development of a strong regulatory framework for the industry.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai have a lot more in common than just their jobs. Both tech billionaires have crypto-savvy young sons who mine ethereum.

Pichai said his 11-year-old son mines ethereum on a home computer that Pichai built himself, according to Business Insider. He made the amusing revelation at the New York Times DealBook conference this week while — ironically — discussing tech addiction and the importance of limiting screen time for children.

“Last week I was at dinner with my son, and I was talking about something about bitcoin and my son clarified what I was talking about was ethereum, which is slightly different,” Pichai recounted. “He’s 11 years old, and he told me he’s mining it.”

When asked if he built a server to help with his son’s crypto mining efforts, Pichai said no, and insisted that his family only has one computer at home.

‘I Had to Explain How Paper Money Works’

Pichai said his son understands a lot more about virtual currencies than he does about fiat currency, so he had to explain how money works in real life.

“I had [to] explain to him how paper money actually works,” Pichai laughed. “I realized he understood ethereum better than how paper money works. I had to talk to him about the banking system, the importance of it. It was a good conversation.”

In July 2018, Google co-founder Sergey Brin revealed that he mines ethereum with his son, as CCN has reported.

“A year or two ago, my son insisted that we needed to get a gaming PC,” Brin said. “I told him, ‘Okay, if we get a gaming PC, we have to mine cryptocurrency. So we set up an ethereum miner on there.”

Brin — whose net worth tops a staggering $47 billion — added that he and his son had made some money on crypto-mining.

“We’ve made a few pennies, a few dollars,” he joked.

Sergey Brin: ‘We Are in a Tech Renaissance’

As CCN reported, Brin has previously credited ethereum mining with playing a central role in the recent computing boom that is driving a “technology renaissance.”

Brin made the revelations in an enthusiastic letter to investors, where he raved: “We are truly in a technology renaissance, an exciting time where we can see applications across nearly every segment of modern society.”

Brin added: “There are several factors at play in this boom of computing. First, of course, is the steady hum of Moore’s Law…The second factor is greater demand, stemming from advanced graphics in gaming and, surprisingly, from the GPU-friendly proof-of-work algorithms found in some of today’s leading cryptocurrencies, such as ethereum.”