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Hodler’s Digest, February 4–10: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week

The mystery around embattled crypto exchange QuadrigaCX deepens, and Facebook acquires a blockchain startup.

Top Stories This Week

Facebook Reportedly Acquires Blockchain Startup in First Blockchain-Related Acquisition

Social media network Facebook has reportedly acquired blockchain startup Chainspace in its first apparent blockchain-related acquisition. According to news outlet Cheddar, the acquisition is considered an “acquihire,” or an acquisition of a company made in order to get the skills or expertise of its staff, as opposed to the company’s service or products. According to Cheddar, four of the five researchers that worked on Chainspace’s academic white paper will be joining Facebook. Facebook had told Cheddar that it had not acquired any of Chainspace’s technology.

Leaked Mt. Gox Info Purports to Show $318 Million in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash on BitPoint

According to leaked documents reportedly showing the rehabilitation proceedings of defunct cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox, the trustee for the process has sold around $318 million in  Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) on trading platform BitPoint. The information, which purportedly comes from the Tokyo District Court, shows incomplete scans of transaction at BitPoint, reportedly confirming that Mt. Gox trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi sold coins on a major exchange to repay creditors. CEO of United States exchange Kraken Jesse Powell has previously noted that Kraken’s suggestions for selling coins in an auction or with an OTC broker were not acted on.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square

Venezuela’s New Crypto Legal Framework Comes Into Force, Doesn’t Mention Petro

Venezuela’s new crypto legislation, which establishes a legal framework for the industry, officially came into force at the end of January. The official set of rules, which makes no mention of the national cryptocurrency Petro, was initially approved by the Constituent National Assembly — an alternative to the country’s Parliament, created in 2017 — in November 2018. The bill lets the national crypto watchdog inspect crypto-related commercial activities in the country. Also this week, Bitcoin trading reached an all-time high in the country amid the hyperinflation and ongoing presidential crisis, above 2,000 BTC on the week.

QuadrigaCX Controversy Continues as Securities Regulator Begins Investigation

As research this week has alleged that major Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX may not have the cold wallet reserves that it had reported, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has initiated a probe into the situation. The exchange had filed for creditor protection after the death of its founder in late December, Gerald Cotten, who allegedly controlled all of the exchange’s funds. Roughly 115,000 customers are without access to their funds, and a court-ordered lawyer will receive the encrypted laptop — which allegedly contains the crypto reserves — from QuadrigaCX representatives as per a court order. Moreover, the crypto exchange’s lawyers are considering selling the company to cover the debts.

BitTorrent Token Sales Sells Out in Under 15 Minutes, Makes Over $7 Million

The BitTorrent token (BTT) sale on the Binance Launchpad platform that concluded earlier this week net $7.1 million with the sale of 50 billion tokens in under 15 minutes. The BTT is based on a Tron TRC-10 token and will be used in order to transact computing resources between BitTorrent clients and other service users. Each token was priced at $0.00012, and were sold on the Binance Launchpad in two simultaneous sessions, one for those using Binance’s native token and the other for those using Tron (TRX).

Winners and Losers

The crypto market has seen a slight uptick at the end of the week, with Bitcoin trading at around $3,654, Ripple at about $0.30 and Ethereum at around $117. Total market cap is at about $120 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are Guaranteed Ethurance Token Extra, Nullex and MMOCoin. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Ultra Coin, bitqy and DOWCOIN.

Winners and Losers

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“I only have bitcoin,”

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square

 

“Amazon will have to issue a currency sooner or later.”

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance

“There are 2,000 cryptocurrencies out there, 95 percent of them are useless and will die a painful death. The sooner that happens, the better.”

Matt Hougan, Global Head of Research at Bitwise Asset Management and president at ETF.com

 

“Eventually, do I think someone will satisfy the standards we’ve laid out there? I hope so, yes, and I think so.”

Robert J. Jackson Jr., the SEC’s only Democratic commissioner, speaking about Bitcoin exchange-traded funds

 

“Thus, transparency and instantaneity are the true strengths of the blockchain, and should generate not only significant time savings and increased security, but also significant [financial] savings.”

Béatrice Collot, Head of Global Trade and Receivable Finance at multinational banking giant HSBC

 

“We need a change in our laws and that requires more interaction with lawmakers and regulators. We need to make Switzerland open and easy for companies to invest in blockchain projects.”

Daniel Haudenschild, recently elected president of the Swiss Crypto Valley Association

FUD of the Week

US Lawsuit Alleged Investment Group Duped Investor Into $2 Million Token Purchase

A U.S. lawsuit this week has alleged that New York-based investment group Blue Ocean Capital Group Inc. had misled plaintiff Lijun Sun to purchase $2 million of the cryptocurrency MCash. The lawsuit notes that the MCash token was not properly registered with the U.S. securities regulators, and that the investment materials provided to Sun did not accurately represent the token or its terms of purchase. Sun has asked for a return of his investment as well as damages worth $6 million.

Zcash Discloses Already Fixed Vulnerability That Permitted Unlimited ZEC Counterfeiting

An official blog post from Zcash reported this week on the patching of a vulnerability that could have allowed an attacker to create infinite Zcash (ZEC). According to the post, the vulnerability was discovered in March 2018 by one of the Zcash developers. A solution for the problem was covertly included (in order to prevent exploitation by bad actors) in the Sapling network upgrade that was adopted last October. Since the variant of zk-SNARKs that contained the bug was implemented by other projects, Zcash noted that these projects have also taken appropriate actions.

Matt Hougan, Global Head of Research at Bitwise Asset Management and president at ETF.com

Winklevii vs. Shrem: Judge Rules Twins Must Pay $45,000 in Shrem’s Legal Fees

A judge has ruled that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss must pay $45,000 of crypto entrepreneur Charlie Shrem’s legal fees as part of an ongoing lawsuit. In the proceedings, the Winklevoss twins have previously instigated an investigation and asset freeze on Shrem after accusing the entrepreneur of failing to pay back 5,000 BTC from a 2013 trade deal. Shrem’s lawyer has denied the accusations, and a judge has removed the asset freeze. According to media reports, the lawsuit will cover new ground in June.

Best Cointelegraph Features

‘The NEM Foundation You Knew Before Is Gone,’ What Is Next?

After the NEM Foundation released an announcement this week about the state of their funds, revealing that they only had about a month of operations left, the crypto community has been questioning how things got to this point. Cointelegraph looks at the history of the Foundation and how this financial disaster could have come about.

Forbes ‘Fintech 50’ List, Reviewed: New Players, Veterans and Startups Which Didn’t Make the Cut

Forbes’ latest edition of “Fintech 50” has been released, this time with only six crypto and blockchain companies, as opposed to last year’s 11. Cointelegraph examines what made these companies stand out even amid the crypto bear market.

QuadrigaCX Is Filing for Creditor Protection Amid Liquidity Crisis, Community Remains Largely Skeptical

As the controversy around embattled Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX deepens, Cointelegraph gives a rundown of the exchange’s legal history, current legal problems, and some of the questions raised concerning the death of its founder and the locations of its cold wallet reserves.

How We Will Remember the Year of the Dog? ICO Market Decline, Trend Toward Compliance and Other Takeaways

And happy Chinese New Year to all our Hodler’s who celebrated this week! We here at Cointelegraph looked at all of the major events that have taken place during the Year of the Yellow Mountain Dog.

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I’m As Certain As Ever – Bitcoin’s Revolution Is Only Just Beginning

Tim Draper is a founding partner of Draper Associates and headmaster at Draper University.

For more on bitcoin’s 10th anniversary, check out our new interactive feature Bitcoin At 10

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It wasn’t 10 years ago, but more like 15, when I first saw the potential for a digital currency. I’ve been through some big up and downs in bitcoin. But today, I’m more certain than ever that the bitcoin revolution is coming.

In 2004, I learned from a wealthy Korean industrialist that people were paying real-world money for digital items like weapons to use in massively multiplayer video games. The game was “Lineage,” which was taking Seoul by storm.

It got me thinking that there was an amazing business in virtual goods coming.

Later, Joel Yarmon first introduced me to bitcoin in about 2011. He brought in Peter Vincennes and his company Coinlab to pitch us. Bitcoin was a new currency that could be used to store value and pay for anything, not just for advancement in a video game.

I quickly absorbed the basics of bitcoin: miners, wallets and such. The decreasing number of bitcoins available to be mined over time meant that the price of a bitcoin would increase in value as fewer bitcoins were mined and usage increased. In fact, as bitcoins spread and their usage increased, it was likely that the currency would become more valuable.

Coinlab would become a bitcoin-focused innovator and miner. We made a small investment in the company. My son Adam started an accelerator called Boost VC, dedicated to bitcoin (and blockchain) companies. He was the first investor in Coinbase.

Around that time, I asked Peter if I could buy $250,000 worth of bitcoin. He bought some for me at about $6 each and stored them in Mt. Gox, the largest bitcoin exchange at the time. He said he would also buy a high-speed mining chip from Butterfly Labs to get us even cheaper bitcoin. Both of these efforts went south.

First, the mining chip was delayed. Rather than shipping it to Peter as ordered, Butterfly Labs used the chip to mine bitcoins for themselves. By the time Peter received the ASIC chips, mining had dramatically increased in difficulty. Meanwhile, the bitcoin I had bought was “lost” by Mt. Gox.

Bitcoin’s resilience

But something important happened with the failure of Mt. Gox. The price of bitcoin only dropped about 20 percent, and the currency continued to be traded on other exchanges. I was flabbergasted and fascinated.

I realized that the demand for this new digital currency was so strong that even a huge theft would not keep bitcoin from creating a new way for us to transact, store and move money. Since the financial crisis, people were losing their confidence in government or “fiat” currencies. I went on to back a number of the Boost VC bitcoin companies, and as I was discovering more and more uses, an enormous opportunity arose.

And something happened that gave me another shot at getting involved in the bitcoin opportunity. The U.S. Marshall’s office confiscated the bitcoins owned by the Silk Road, an online drug marketplace, and almost 30,000 bitcoins were put up for auction. I looked at this as an opportunity to rebuy the bitcoins I lost.

The market price then was $618 per bitcoin. At the last minute, I decided to bid higher than market price. I bid $632 and won all of the bitcoins!

After the inevitable buyer’s remorse for paying a higher price than anyone else was willing to pay, I thought about how I could best drive a positive use for these bitcoins with a tainted past. I decided that I would use them to support the proliferation of bitcoin through emerging country marketplaces where people didn’t have confidence in their own currencies.

Many people in such countries are not “bankable.” Banks lose money on people who don’t have enough to make all the paperwork worthwhile. Banking regulations set up to protect the little guy have actually kept the little guy from participating in the economy — almost guaranteeing that he will remain “the little guy.” There are billions of “unbanked.”

Avish Bhama, one Boost entrepreneur with a company called Mirror helped me figure out a good plan to spread the currency to emerging country markets. The idea was to allow people from developing nations the ability to invest in anything (even to go short against their own currency) by using bitcoin as the “rails,” the conduit for the trades.

Mirror later changed its business model, but companies I backed later — BitPesa in Africa, Bitpagos in Latin America, and CoinHako in Southeast Asia — are making the emerging world their marketplace.

Bitcoin’s great potential

I remain impressed by the possibilities for bitcoin and blockchain. Bitcoin is a currency that is accepted everywhere without any government friction or interference, a stored value solution that doesn’t require a holder to keep a room full of metals and art, and a frictionless currency that can move automatically based on a contract, without the usual drag that comes from regulations and accounting rules.

But there are many other uses.

A bitcoin wallet can also be used as an escrow for a contract in transition, as a redistribution of an estate or as a transfer agent to distribute payments, dividends or shares of stock. Blockchains can keep track of money, data, inventory, contracts, etc., and “smart” contracts can be designed such that they anticipate eventualities and automatically distribute funds appropriately. Corporations can use the blockchain to automatically pay employees their wages and benefits, pay shareholders their dividends, and pay noteholders their interest and principal payments, all with precise accuracy and automated accounting.

The blockchain can manage three-way transfers with ease, and eventually will handle retail transactions without the need for credit or debit cards. Insurance companies can use it to manage their claims and automate collections. Real estate escrows and titles can all be done quickly and easily between buyer and seller. Drugs and food can be authenticated by blockchain to guarantee their origins.

And the U.S. Government can manage social security, welfare, Medicare, worker’s comp, disability and all their data verification of citizens and businesses with bitcoin and the blockchain, since blockchain is the perfect government employee.

It is honest, incorruptible, secure, and fair.

Change is coming

Many industries will have to go through fundamental changes to adapt to the advent of this new way of thinking. People will have to learn that the bank, being the trusted third party for centuries will soon be replaced by computers that now monitor their holdings through the blockchain. Banking will be simpler, safer and easier than relying on people to do the monotonous work in some brick-and-mortar facility.

It is interesting to note that countries, now recognizing that they are in competition with one another, are trying to make sure they win the bitcoin economy. The smartest of these are either allowing bitcoin to prosper or recognize that they need a light touch in regulating bitcoin to attract all the creativity, money and startups that are flooding into the field.

The U.S. was wise to leave the internet unregulated and free because all the internet entrepreneurs created startups domestically and the economy around the internet blossomed. Keeping its regulatory hands light should help innovators stay in the U.S.

There are many parallels between bitcoin now and the internet in 1994. In 1994, the internet was just for hobbyists and hackers. I remember when I first used the Internet, the only things I could do were to buy diamonds and try to break into NORAD. There were very few uses. It took many years for the internet to become mainstream, but when it did, it transformed industries.

The long-term vision for bitcoin is to give the world economic emancipation. The potential if bitcoin is only limited by the imaginations of the entrepreneurs who work to drive this new virtual economy. To monitor and keep it honest, I believe that the community of users will ultimately self-regulate, possibly eclipsing or obviating the need for the various governments to regulate the crypto world.

I’ve been through the ups and downs with bitcoin, and I am as certain as ever that the bitcoin revolution is coming.

It is here to bank the unbanked, to democratize economic opportunity and to reevaluate governance. I expect that it will change everything from the banks and the financial system to healthcare, to democracy, even the government.

Tim Draper image via CoinDesk archives

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Former Mt. Gox CEO Karpeles Declares Innocence in Final Argument

The former CEO of now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox, Mark Karpeles, claimed his innocence as the trial nears its end.

Mark Karpeles — the former CEO of now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox — has affirmed that he is not guilty in the final argument for his trial, Cointelegraph Japan reports Dec. 27.

In court in Tokyo on Thursday, Karpeles apologized for not being able to avoid his exchange being hacked, but also reiterated the idea that he is innocent. As Cointelegraph Japan reported, in July, he declared that he treated the subtracted money “as a loan from the company,” and that he was going to settle later.

Mark Karpeles has been charged with embezzlement of approximately 340 million yen (about $3 million) from the exchange and manipulating its data to inflate its cash balance. Karpeles allegedly transferred 340 million yen belonging to customers from a Mt. Gox account to his personal account between September and December 2013.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, prosecutors asked for a ten-year prison sentence for Karpeles, who is currently facing the charges in Japan. During his trial, Karpeles has repeatedly denied having stolen money or manipulated Mt. Gox ledgers.

According to today’s report, the ruling for Karpeles’ trial is set to be delivered on March 15, 2019.

Nobuaki Kobayashi, the trustee of Mt.Gox, released a statement in September in which he claims to have liquidated almost 26 billion yen (about $230 million) in Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) in around four months.

In the document, he informed the public that since the third quarter of 2017 he sold 24,658 BTC and 25,331 BCH.

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Mt Gox Trustee Seeks to Extend Civil Rehabilitation Claims Deadline

Nobuaki Kobayashi, the trustee of the collapsed bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, is seeking to extend the deadline for filing civil rehabilitation claims to December.

Kobayashi announced Thursday that he will make “efforts to request the court to accept proofs of rehabilitation claims received by December 26, 2018.”

The earlier deadline of Oct. 22 has already passed, but as the creditors are located worldwide, the trustee said more time is needed to collect proof of claims and ensure that all forms are delivered.

The online filing system for rehabilitation claims is still accessible, and creditors who are unable to access the system can also manually fill and send the forms to the office of the trustee, not later than Dec. 26.

“Whether proofs of rehabilitation claims filed after the deadline will be accepted is determined by the court,” the trustee explained.

Once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume, Mt. Gox officially filed for liquidation in April 2014 after claiming to have been hacked for 850,000 bitcoin, some of which was later found. At the same time, it dealt a blow to investors by dropping its plan for civil rehabilitation.

After a long wait, creditors had a victory in June 2018, when the Tokyo District Court issued an order approving a petition to begin civil rehabilitation. The petition was initially submitted in November of 2017.

Now, if the court approves the December deadline, the creditors will have one more month to submit proof of their claims.

Mt. Gox image via Shutterstock