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Bolivars to Bitcoin: Activists Take Down Venezuela’s Maduro in Crypto Art Exhibit

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro will be taken down today.

At least his visage, painted on 1,000 bolivars by cryptocurrency-focused artist cryptograffiti, will be. The destruction of the artist’s newest piece – an 11-foot by 10-foot portrait of the Venezuelan leader – will happen in Cucuta, Colombia, about 500 yards from the Simon Bolivar Bridge, a landmark hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have walked across to escape the poverty of their home country.

Since Maduro took office in 2003, Venezuela has suffered drastic inflation, starvation and socio-economic decline. And in recent months, the situation has worsened. This past weekend, violence broke out on the border with Brazil as the Venezuelan military moved to block food and medical supplies from entering Venezuela.

Feeling for the people of Venezuela and hoping cryptocurrency can prove to be the economic alternative it’s touted as, cryptograffiti decided he needed to see its potential for himself.

Cryptograffiti told CoinDesk:

“After reciting the tired ‘Maybe it doesn’t apply directly to you, but bitcoin is important in authoritarian regimes’ line one-too-many times, I wanted to contribute and experience the situation first-hand.”

In partnership with AirTM, a Mexico-based crypto exchange, and Cripto Conserje, a cryptocurrency-focused merchant services provider, cryptograffiti will watch as his portrait gets torn down. For every donation made, a Venezuelan at the event will physically remove a bolivar from the mural.

Only two pieces of the mural will be saved and signed as donor prizes – one section going to the highest donor and the other being given to a donor drawn at random.

One section of cryptograffiti’s mural – depicting Maduro’s eye – that will be signed and given to donors.

“Venezuelans will literally and figuratively be bringing down Maduro,” cryptograffiti said.

The all-day, livestreamed event is part of a larger project, #AirdropVenezuela, which plans to use 50 percent of the donations to send cryptocurrency to more than 100,000 Venezuelans in April.

While the focus is on bitcoin, AirTM is also accepting a number of cryptocurrencies, including zcash, bitcoin cash, ether, XRP and dash.

The other 50 percent of the funds contributed will go towards rebuilding facilities at Fundación Renacer, a non-profit organization providing daycare services to families displaced by the crisis, where the event will be held.

Fundación Renacer, a non-profit providing daycare services for displaced Venezuelans, will host cryptograffiti’s Nicolas Maduro mural.

During the event, Cripto Conserje will be focused on educating individuals and merchants on cryptocurrency use. (Venezuelan regulators have imposed a more than 11 percent fee on all crypto remittances into the country, so crypto holders will likely want to learn how to transfer their money in a peer-to-peer way to forgo those.)

Several food merchants will be at the event so attendees that get crypto can purchase food right away.

Cryptograffiti concluded:

“People are using it to steer clear of hyperinflation but also to escape with money to. All the stuff we talk about as possibilities for crypto, it’s happening right now.”

To donate to the cause, visit: http://airdropvenezuela.live/.

Cryptograffiti’s Nicolas Maduro mural via Pete Rizzo with CoinDesk

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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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Venezuela Bitcoin Trading Sets Giant All-Time High

Venezuela traded more bolivars for bitcoins than ever before last week. Volumes on P2P trading platform Localbitcoins reaching 15.7 billion VES ($10 million) amid increasing political instability.


7 Days, $10 Million

Data from monitoring resource Coin Dance, which began tracking Localbitcoins volumes again this week after a short hiatus, confirmed the new weekly record.

In Bitcoin terms, the week ending January 26 did not set a new high for trade volumes, pointing to the continued weakness of Venezuela’s six-month-old Sovereign Bolivar.

1782 BTC went through Localbitcoins over the past seven days, still constituting the second-highest amount on record.

A Non-Corruptible Alternative

As Bitcoinist reported, current political events in Venezuela are adding to its pro-Bitcoin landscape.

Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president, has actively campaigned for Bitcoin since 2014, a stance which contrasts sharply with that of incumbent Nicolas Maduro and his advocacy of state-issued cryptocurrency Petro.

The latter continues to face a plethora of woes despite the government’s enforced usage of it for an increasing number of state processes. The U.S. has already sanctioned Petro, while its financial sovereignty has been suspect since its launch in Q3 2018.

Venezuela

Juan Guaido

At the same time, non-state entities are attempting to spread Bitcoin usage and awareness among Venezuela’s embattled citizens.

Caracas’ first Bitcoin ATM from Panama-based outfit Cryptobuyer is already in situ and should ostensibly begin operations in the coming week.

The allure of financial self-control was compounded this week amid the ongoing political crisis after the Bank of England denied Maduro’s demands to withdraw the country’s own gold supplies which it stores – supplies worth $1.2 billion.

“The first rule of business as we speak is to stop the Maduro government from liquidating international assets of the country and steal them,” Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann, who is corresponding with Guaido, told Bloomberg January 25.

Maduro had previously sought international sales agents for Petro, including cryptocurrency exchanges in India.

What do you think about Venezuela’s Bitcoin trading record? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Venezuela: First Bitcoin ATM Opens ‘In 2 Weeks’ Amid Localbitcoins Shutdown Reports

Venezuela, the country seeing new Bitcoin trade volume records on an almost weekly basis, is to get its first ever Bitcoin ATM.


Cryptobuyer: ATM Already In Caracas

In an interview with local radio and news media network Union Radio, Jorge Farias, CEO of Panama-based Cryptobuyer, said the machine had already arrived in the country’s capital Caracas.

“We are going to install the first cryptocurrency ATM in Venezuela over the course of the next two weeks,” he told the network.

…We already have the equipment physically installed in Venezuela, in Caracas; it’s in its final test stage and we will then be making an announcement on social networks.

The pioneering move comes amid ever more difficult times for Venezuelans.

Venezuela's Central Bank Unveils App to Convert New Crypto-Pegged ‘Sovereign Bolivar’

As Bitcoinist variously reported, a toxic mixture of hyperinflation, travel and forex restrictions has made life for the average citizen often impossible.

At the same time, Venezuela’s government has pushed an agenda involving its state-issued cryptocurrency Petro, recently beginning to require certain payments – such as passports – only use the asset.

Petro has had a dubious reputation since inception, reports claiming that despite its peg to Venezuela’s $6 billion oil float, its backer in the form of state oil company PDVSA has $45 billion debts which undermine its status as a store of value.

Localbitcoins ‘Not Working’

It is thus little surprise that P2P Bitcoin trading has exploded, especially over the last six months of 2018.

According to the latest data from Coin Dance, the week ending January 5 was the second busiest on record for the Venezuelan Bolivar (VES) on Localbitcoins, with a total of 5.15 billion changing hands.

This was followed a dramatic drop for the week ending January 12, will social media commentators reporting the service was no longer accessible from inside Venezuela.

Cryptobuyer is first and foremost a merchant acceptance platform for Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and Dash (DASH), and at present only lists a modest network of five ATMs in Panama City. Its operational machines cater to all three cryptocurrencies.

Worldwide, the number of Bitcoin ATMs continues to expand. A deal announced this week between the first US operator, Coinme, and change counter Coinstar, could see up to 20,000 extra locations appear in the US soon.

What do you think about Venezuela’s Bitcoin ATM? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Major American Magazine Time Column Reports About Bitcoin’s Liberating Potential

Mainstream newspaper Time published an article illustrating the liberating potential of Bitcoin, especially in countries with oppressive governments.

Bitcoin (BTC) has a substantial liberating potential, American mainstream newspaper Time reports on Dec. 28.

The aforementioned article claims that “speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have overshadowed the real, liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.”

According to the article’s author, Bitcoin “can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.”

Alejandro Machado, a cryptocurrency researcher at the Open Money Initiative, reportedly said that the fee on a wire transfer from the United States to Venezuela can be as high as 56 percent.

To circumvent such conditions, Venezuelans have reportedly turned to cryptocurrency, receiving Bitcoin from their relatives abroad. The main alternative is to wire money to Colombia, withdraw and bring cash to Venezuela, which according to the article, “can take far longer, cost more, and be far more dangerous than the Bitcoin option.”

Times suggests that Bitcoin is a good way to protect oneself from fiat currency inflation. Venezuela is prime example of that, with the inflation of their native currency projected to top 1 million percent. But there are also other similar examples, like Zimbabwe, where former president Robert Mugabe “printed endless amounts of cash.” But the author points out:

“His successors can’t print more Bitcoin.”

Bitcoin is also, according to the article, a tool to evade mass surveillance in places like China. That being said, as Cointelegraph reported in March, according to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, Bitcoin isn’t optimal for avoiding government coercion, and he believes that the world needs a better option.

Times also points out the advantage given by the inability of governments to censor transactions or freeze Bitcoin wallets. In fact, Cointelegraph reported in April that WikiLeaks’ Coinbase account has been suspended due to a term of service violation.

Still, nobody can prevent WikiLeaks from using cryptocurrency wallets where the organization controls the private keys. In fact, WikiLeaks is still accepting cryptocurrency donations and also added support for Snowden’s favorite crypto Zcash in August 2017.