Libra Association Forms Steering Committee to Guide Technical Development

Libra Association Forms Steering Committee to Guide Technical Development

The Libra Association has formed a five-member steering committee to guid the network’s technical development.

The Libra Association — the government body of the eponymous stablecoin introduced by Facebook in late 2019 — has formed a new committee to guide the network’s technical development. 

According to an announcement on Jan. 16, the Libra Association has voted to establish the five-member Technical Steering Committee which comprises leading experts from various firms in the fintech and blockchain industries. 

The members are: Calibra core product lead George Cabrera III, Anchorage co-founder Diogo Monica, Union Square Ventures partner Nick Grossman, Bison Trails CEO and founder Joe Lallouz, and Mercy Corps director of emerging technology Ric Shreves.

In overseeing the technical aspects of the Libra network’s development, the committee will direct the technical roadmap for the Libra network, form working groups to prioritize selected avenues of research, guide the development of a codebase, and generally develop and engage the Libra development community.  

The statement claims that the creation of a separate committee is in line with the Libra project’s goal of being decentralized and self-governing “independent of any one organization’s control.”

The committee says that it will publish  its technical governance framework and other relevant documents by the end of the first fiscal quarter of 2020. 

Independence from any one organization 

Faceboook’s announcement of the Libra stablecoin and payments network, along with its corresponding Calibra wallet last year, made waves in the tech and cryptocurrency communities while globally, legislators and regulators wasted no time in scrutinizing the project. 

The social media giant’s previous history with data breaches and mishandling of user information has been at the forefront of some regulators’ concerns. At a hearing before the United States Congress last summer, Calibra head David Marcus assured lawmakers — some more convingly than others — that Facebook would not have access to Libra users’ financial records and information and that such data would be kept separate from social platform’s user data.

Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of Ripple — the firm behind the XRP token — said that Libra will likely not receive regulatory approval before 2023, stating that the stablecoin’s debut may have gone over better if Facebook had not been at the head of the project. 

Indeed, regulators have been grappling with how to classify the new asset. Last November, lawmakers in the United States introduced legislation that would regulate the coin under securities laws. 

Following the bill’s introduction, the Libra Association quietly updated the coin’s whitepaper, with the biggest change being the removal of dividends payable to those early investors. Not only does the change remove a potential conflict of interest between the Libra Association members, and end-users of the currency, but could address concerns that Libra should be classified as a security.

WisdomTree Mulls New Stablecoin as US Money Manager Drives Toward Crypto

WisdomTree Mulls New Stablecoin as US Money Manager Drives Toward Crypto

WisdomTree, an asset manager specializing in exchange-traded funds, is vying to become one of the first established U.S. financial firms to offer clients digital assets, including a so-called stablecoin whose value is closely linked to the U.S. dollar.

Better Safe Than Hacked? Google and Apple Flip-Flop on Crypto

Better Safe Than Hacked? Google and Apple Flip-Flop on Crypto

The “Shitcoin Wallet” debacle shined a light on crypto security issues. Experts weigh in on how companies are caught in the balance.

The cryptocurrency sector has many criticisms. One is that it can appear impenetrable to newcomers. Another is that it is probably easier to lose money investing in crypto than in most other areas of finance. What’s more, these issues can combine to create a lucrative environment for hackers with nefarious intentions. 

Chrome browser extension makes a stink

By virtue of the fluctuations and hype that influence the markets, investors are often highly motivated to buy certain cryptocurrencies. Regardless of their background, all face the same initial hurdles: Where to buy the cryptocurrency and where to store it? 

Due in part to the lack of robust regulation and limited legal ability of often under-funded and over-stretched law enforcement, there is no uniform way to find a risk-free way of buying cryptocurrency for the uninitiated. 

Many scam wallets and exchanges have high-quality and well-designed websites that create a convincing illusion of authenticity. Although the mechanics of both cryptocurrencies and blockchain are highly complex, everyday investors are not expected to be technology experts. 

While many investors might not be coder-extraordinaires, there are fortunately a number of experts who detect something odd online and have the know-how to dive into the code and see what’s truly going on. In only the last few days, the crypto world learned of the latest scam to part investors from their precious funds.

Caught with hands in the crypto jar

On Dec. 30, Harry Denley, a security officer at MyCrypto, spotted that an Ethereum wallet, known as “Shitcoin Wallet,” was reportedly injecting malicious javascript code from open browser windows to steal data from customers.

After examining the code, Denley noted that the chrome extension functions by downloading javascript files from a remote server. Denley related to Cointelegraph how Shitcoin Wallet was brought to his attention and what exactly set off the alarm bells for him:

“Since we started calling out, indexing and investigating a bunch of different scams, malware and phishing kits, we have gained a network of people who consistently report to us. One of those people reported Shitcoin Wallet to me directly with a brief investigation of the behaviour of injecting `content_.js` into the current browser tab to steal secrets. Before the report to me, I had never heard of it. I then downloaded the extension on a VM and viewed the code to confirm the report and find other malicious behaviour — the wallet create behaviour of the extension also sent the fresh secrets to their backend.”

“Shitcoin” is a derogatory term that frequently pops up in Bitcoin (BTC) maximalist circles, as well as among investors who have a particular belief in the inherent qualities of one digital currency of their choice over all others.

While it’s true that the online world of crypto discussion has an oversupply of irony and trolling, which is often built into the branding of companies and platforms, many commentators felt that the provocatively named “Shitcoin Wallet” should have been a big enough warning for investors to steer clear. A number of Twitter users wrote of their disbelief that people would mistake the chrome extension for a legitimate service. 

Cybersecurity expert Kevin Beaumont appeared to tweet his incredulity at the idea that someone would voluntarily install a plugin called “Shitcoin Wallet” after receiving an email from his office’s security team: 

“First email at work today, our threat intelligence provider having to write up malware in ‘Shitcoin wallet.’ Damn, I was just about to install Shitcoin Wallet plugin.”

Likewise, self-described open-source evangelist at Red Hat Jan Wildeboer also tweeted that the name should set off alarm bells for investors: 

“Who would even install an extension with that name? #WhereIsMySurprisedFace A Google Chrome extension named Shitcoin Wallet is stealing passwords and wallet private keys.”

Experts weigh in on security deficit in crypto

Hartej Sawhney, CEO of Las Vegas-based cybersecurity agency Zokyo Labs, told Cointelegraph that getting crypto companies to have a robust cybersecurity policy in place is easier said than done due in part to an over-reliance on insurance policies and staffing restrictions: 

“Crypto is a new industry that is relatively unregulated. The challenge of having a cybersecurity program is needing to have qualified staff both in-house and third-party. Basic standards such as hiring third party ethical hackers to regularly conduct penetration testing are not being followed. In Crypto, if hackers can identify and exploit protocol flaws, then they will compromise the entire network, since the security chain is protocol, then exchange, and then wallet.”

The lack of comprehensive regulatory structures and security standards in the crypto industry is decried from both inside and out. Sawhney explained to Cointelegraph that many companies do not even have staff assigned for general tech oversight and that the industry suffers from a lack of incentive for those qualified to fill the gap: 

“Many major crypto companies do not even have an assigned Chief Information Security Officer or a basic cybersecurity program that highlights what steps to even take when facing a breach. There is also a lack of incentive for world-class cybersecurity specialists to focus on the crypto industry. An extremely specialized skill set is needed to focus on the intersection of cybersecurity and cryptocurrency.”

For Charles Phan, chief technology officer of the London-based exchange Interdax, a joint effort needs to be made by both law enforcement and crypto businesses in order to boost cybersecurity defences and awareness. Phan went on to add: 

“Many aspects of cybercrime also require specific knowledge so there needs to be communication between experts, law enforcement, investors and the ecosystem in general to weed out bad players. Prevention in the form of education is also important.” 

Aanand Krishnan, CEO and founder of Tala Security, said that understanding the reasoning for the rise in attacks is simple: Security is just not up to scratch. Krishnan told Cointelegraph:

“It may be stating the obvious, but attacks are on the rise because attack techniques continue to innovate while security effectiveness has waned. This “State of the market” requires either more security investment or different thinking. Since security budgets remain tight new approaches are required. Many of these attacks leverage JavaScript vulnerabilities that can be addressed by standards-based security measures. Surprisingly these measures are infrequently deployed.”

Is Google masking its intentions? 

While the Shitcoin Wallet extension was rightly spotted and outed, not all online platforms get the treatment they feel they deserve. Since the watershed moment of Facebook’s Libra announcement in 2019, the world’s tech behemoths have begun scaling up their operations in the cryptocurrency industry. With the relatively short-lived “Libra effect” aside, the actions of influential and powerful companies do not always have a positive impact. 

In a world where mobile phones play an ever more central role in daily life, the presence of an app on either Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play App Store can be a matter of life or death for companies. Apps that are found to fall foul of regulations are frequently removed from the stores. While platforms must exert prudence over what apps they make available for customers, security measures do not always go as planned. 

In late December 2019, the prominent Chrome extension and wallet service provider MetaMask received an unwanted Christmas present in the form of a Google blacklisting. Fortunately for MetaMask, the ban only lasted a week before it was eventually overturned. Google’s reasoning for the ban stems from the tech giant mistaking the browser extension for a mining app, which are not permitted.

Although MetaMask may well have been temporarily canceled by Google, the short blacklisting unearthed other issues for the wallet provider. As reported in late December, a MetaMask contributor alleged that the team was totally overwhelmed and had not received adequate support from its parent firm, ConsenSys

While popular crypto companies being stretched under the pressures of rapidly growing demand is far from uncommon, the contributor also alleged that the company was neither transparent nor decentralized, claiming that the project’s code was “of low quality, full of technical debt.”

The contributor’s comments elicited a response from Daniel Finlay, a MetaMask employee, who challenged what he described as the alarmist tone of someone who was not an official team member. Nonetheless, Finlay admitted that some of the criticisms were accurate, particularly regarding that of the project’s code. Finlay told Cointelegraph that he felt uncomfortable about the mounting bans on crypto-related companies and accounts occurring across technology platforms: 

“I very much hope that this was an honest mistake on the part of Google’s reviewers, but in combination with all the crypto YouTube bans, it definitely puts me at disease about how Google is engaging with decentralizing technologies.”

Former federal enforcement attorney and regulatory and government investigations attorney with Kansas City-based Kennyhertz Perry LLC Braden Perry, explained to Cointelegraph that while Google has considerable influence over the proliferation of DApps on its platforms, the lack of regulatory clarity and clash between security and demand often means that the tech giant finds itself in a tricky situation: 

“They have altered course and allowed apps after further review. Take MetaMask as an example — Google disallowed it and then based on the reaction for the developers and public, reversed course and allows the app. Google is in a difficult position, trying to ensure safety to the public that downloads Dapps while staying relevant to the developers behind the Dapps.”

Apple is also wary of DApps

MetaMask was not the only company to draw the ire of one of the so-called Big Four of tech. According to a Reddit post published on Dec. 28, the United States-based cryptocurrency exchange and wallet provider Coinbase warned users that it might be forced to remove the DApp browser feature from its wallet application in order to comply with Apple’s mobile App Store policy. 

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong commented on the post, outlining his view that Apple was undergoing a process of eliminating DApps from the App Store: 

“This is really unfortunate to see. Apple seems to be eliminating usage of Dapps from the App Store. […] It’s beyond Coinbase and IMO a very big threat to the ecosystem.”

For Zokyo Lab’s Sawhney, the actions of many big tech companies are tantamount to censorship, “It’s all about censorship and control. Tech giants, such as Apple and Google, want their customers to have limited exposure to the multi-billion dollar DApp market.”

For MyCrypto’s Denley, the question of Google’s stance toward DApps is not quite so simple. While Denley recognizes that Google has made some questionable decisions regarding the execution of its policy, part of this is down to a lack of clarity: 

“Google’s approach to DApp/cryptocurrency censorship is not consistent, so it’s not justified in my view as the rules are too muddy to know which side of the line you stand.”

Denley added that once there is greater clarity about what should and shouldn’t be allowed regarding the ability to censor and police poor quality or malicious cryptocurrency content, it will be easier for companies and commentators alike to pick sides. Braden Perry outlined his view to Cointelegraph that through regulation, it may be possible to strike a healthy balance between decentralization and security: 

“Regulation is inevitable. How it will affect crypto depends on what that regulation looks like. A hasty attempt to reign in every potential for security would likely fail and cause more damage than good to the technology. But a well-designed regulatory scheme that aims to affect the bad actors and not overregulate the technology would likely be a positive for crypto, and this would require a collaborative effort between congress, regulators, big tech (Google, Apple, etc) and developers.”

Taking a market-based approach, Tala Security’s Krishnan argued that decentralization had already been accepted. Krishnan’s comments also echoed the growing consensus among business leaders and legal figures in the cryptocurrency industry that the only way forward is the creation of standards-based security and information sharing in order to turn the tide against the proliferation of malicious actors in the industry:

“Standards-based security models where information-sharing, often from the best and brightest, offers hope for defining the required security model of the future. Embracing these models and contributing to their advancement is the kind of different thinking that’s required to ensure that the attackers don’t always win.”

Facebook’s Calibra Looks for Two Marketing Professionals

Facebook’s Calibra Looks for Two Marketing Professionals

Facebook’s Calibra is in search for two marketing specialists as the company continues the development of its Libra stablecoin project.

Facebook’s Calibra is on the hunt for two marketing specialists as the company continues development of its Libra stablecoin project.

The company is looking for a head of media, digital marketing and community and a head of brand for the Calibra digital wallet unit. The roles ask for applicants with a minimum of 15 years of experience in their respective fields, as well as upwards of ten years of leadership and people management experience.

Per the job ads, the proposed head of media will be engaged in building acquisition and cross-sell strategies, creation of customer segments and audiences that can be used in engagement programs, among other responsibilities. The head of brand is set to develop mobile-first creative campaigns with assets across the marketing mix to promote the company to over 2.5 billion worldwide.

Despite regulators’ skepticism

Calibra apparently continues its development and expanding the team of professionals working on the project despite the skepticism demonstrated by the world’s regulators. Last fall, David Marcus, the head of Calibra, addressed regulators’ fears that Facebook’s planned stablecoin could potentially disrupt central bank monetary policy and destabilize the global financial system.

Marcus previously claimed that the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards of Libra will be better than other payments networks. He stated that the network’s underlying blockchain technology will allow regulators to better trace transactions and identify suspicious activities, adding:

“The open ledger – the blockchain – enables regulators to look at what is happening themselves and identify where the risk is without relying on reports. The onus is on us to do that work and now that we have the governance structure in place, we can now demonstrate this improvement.”

Who Got Gifts from Crypto Santa in 2019… and Who Got Coal

Who Got Gifts from Crypto Santa in 2019… and Who Got Coal

Crypto Santa has done his rounds for Christmas after checking his naughty and nice list. But which crypto players got coal this year, and which got presents?

On Christmas Eve, Crypto Claus did his rounds after checking the list to see who was naughty and nice. But who got some lovely presents after making a positive impact in 2019 — and who got coal for setting the industry back? Here, we take a look at the people and businesses who have had a year to remember — and those who have had a year to forget.

The naughty list

Some crypto players were resigned to getting coal rather early on in 2019. Right at the start of the year, John McAfee suddenly announced he was fleeing the United States after being indicted by tax authorities. This led to the bizarre announcement that he would run to become U.S. president while he was in international waters.

In the 12 months that followed, he held back on plans to reveal the real identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, told Cointelegraph that the CIA was harassing him, reasserted that Bitcoin (BTC) will hit $1 million in 2020, got arrested twice in the Dominican Republic, unveiled plans to run for the roles of U.S. president and British prime minister simultaneously, and launched an “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” coin.

While we’re on the topic of Satoshi Nakamoto, it’s likely that Crypto Santa was frowning furiously at Craig Wright’s antics in 2019. The controversial Australian entrepreneur has had quite a litigious year — not least because he has been trying to prove that he was the person who invented Bitcoin. In May, he filed copyright registrations for the Bitcoin white paper with the U.S. Copyright Office, but critics maintain that this proves very little. Wright also found time to sue crypto podcaster Peter McCormack and Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver for libel — with Ver calling him a “fraud and a liar” in a YouTube video.

But the real showstopper this year was the bitter case that pitted him against the family of his late business partner, Dave Kleiman. Wright was accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins that were rightfully Kleiman’s — and a court subsequently ruled that he should pay 500,000 BTC back. This prompted the embattled entrepreneur to challenge the ruling, questioning the judge’s power in the process. Although the two parties then embarked on extensive settlement negotiations, Wright later informed Kleiman’s estate that he was unable to finance the agreement, which was worth a whopping $4.5 billion at the time.

So… who else was in the running for Crypto Santa’s coal? Well, some would potentially be on his naughty list because of how their actions tarnished the industry’s image or slowed down its progress. There was Brad Sherman, a Democratic congressman for California who is violently opposed to crypto. This year, he called for U.S. lawmakers to outlaw cryptocurrencies altogether for fear that they could undermine the dollar. On Libra, Facebook’s proposed stablecoin, he claimed “Mark Zuckerberg is sending a friend request to oligarchs, drug dealers, human traffickers and terrorists.” Political rivals of Sherman have claimed his “goal is essentially to try to ban the internet.”

QuadrigaCX also retains its spot on the naughty list after December 2018’s bombshell announcement that $190 million in user assets was lost when CEO Gerald Cotten died suddenly. He was the only person in possession of the keys to the cold wallets apparently being used to store the funds. Over the course of the year, it emerged that these cold wallets were mostly empty anyway, and the Canadian company was officially declared bankrupt. Although Cotten’s widow has handed over $9 million in assets to compensate affected users, QuadrigaCX’s liabilities still run into many tens of millions of dollars. The murky circumstances surrounding the exchange’s demise have also fueled cynicism over whether Cotten is actually dead, with lawyers representing disgruntled investors asking police for the disgraced executive’s body to be exhumed.

There were countless other hacks, exit scams and incidents over 2019. Some were caused by lax security, but some — such as India’s Coinome and Koinex — blamed regulatory pressure as the country prolonged uncertainty by announcing plans to ban crypto and enforce 10-year jail terms, only to delay enshrining them in law. 

The nice list

Thankfully, Crypto Santa had plenty of presents to dish out this year, too. Some of those in line for a gift from Crypto Santa simply did a good deed — showing the world that the community can be a giving, generous place. Back in September there was the tale of Keith Mali Chung, otherwise known as the “African Bitcoin Bull.” The blockchain educator and advocate had inadvertently received “a huge sum of BTC from an unknown sender” — believed to be worth about $80,000 at the time — and launched a Twitter appeal in a bid to return it to the sender. Thankfully, his campaign succeeded, and a man who he had done business with before came forward to be reunited with his coins.

There has also been plenty of charitable giving over the course of the year. BitPay began offering its services to the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia, so the nonprofit could accept donations in Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. Binance, one of the world’s biggest exchanges, launched a campaign to provide two meals a day to more than 200 students and school staff throughout 2019 in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Countless crypto organizations commenced fundraising drives following the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in France — including BlockShow and Binance. And it seems there really is an appetite for charitable donations in the community, with Fidelity Charitable disclosing back in August that it received more than $100 million in cryptocurrency donations since it began accepting digital currencies back in 2015.

Also on the nice list are countries that have adopted measures that provide legal clarity to crypto and blockchain users around the world. In the summer, Australia unveiled plans to exclude crypto from restrictions on cash payments, New Zealand ruled that cryptocurrencies are legal and subject to tax, and Portugal declared that Bitcoin payments and trading should be tax-free.

In the final quarter of the year, France announced that crypto gains will only be taxed if assets are converted into fiat — effectively meaning that crypto-to-crypto transactions will remain exempt. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom proclaimed that Libra has the potential to become “a systemically important payment system” if it satisfies some crucial provisions to be compliant with the law. Over in Germany, a new bill emerged that would legalize banks holding Bitcoin and other ditigal currencies from next year, prompting some to describe the country as a “crypto haven.”

As in politics, as in economics, as in global affairs, crypto and blockchain have had some celebrations and commiserations in the past 12 months. Learning lessons from 2019 could prove decisive when Crypto Santa is deciding who is on the naughty and nice list for 2020.

2019 in Review: Another Year of Highs and Lows for Crypto

2019 in Review: Another Year of Highs and Lows for Crypto

Facebook’s Libra, Ethereum, QuadrigaCX, Tether and Bitfinex — Cointelegraph breaks down the biggest stories of 2019.

2019 may not go down as a year of breathtaking highs for cryptocurrency markets, but major strides have been made for mass adoption of digital payments and blockchain technology.

A quick look at major headlines over the past 12 months highlight the shortcomings of the sector as well as the potential for cryptocurrencies to completely shake up the global payment system.

One need look no further than social media giant Facebook announcing plans to launch its cryptocurrency Libra and digital wallet Calibra. The move sent shockwaves around the world and led to the United States Congress enforcing a moratorium on the project. 

Security concerns continued to be a concerning topic amid some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges and platforms falling prey to hacks and thefts.

Bitcoin had a lackluster year in terms of trading and market value, as the preeminent cryptocurrency saw periods of both resurgence and decline. Meanwhile, Ethereum’s developers carried out a number of crucial upgrades that form part of the ongoing progression of the world’s second most-valuable cryptocurrency.

Important moves were made on the regulatory front as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission made pivotal announcements regarding the likes of Ethereum and went after projects such as social media startup Kik as well as Telegram’s highly anticipated Telegram Open Network.

Regulators in the United Kingdom took a softer stance toward Bitcoin and Ethereum, leaving the cryptocurrencies unrestricted in the country.

In this article, Cointelegraph delves into these stories while exploring the biggest highlights of every month of 2019.

Bitcoin’s lowly start

The dawn of 2019 found Bitcoin, the world’s preeminent cryptocurrency, trading below the $4000 mark following a difficult year for the global cryptol market. 

The price of Bitcoin summed up the slump in the sector, but the low price would soon pick up as the year began.

Ten days into the new year, news broke that Ethereum Classic’s network had fallen victim to a fully-fledged 51% attack. An unknown entity managed to gain a majority share of the network’s hashing power. 

The incident was serious enough to prompt American cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to cease all ETC transactions. Their own blockchain analysis claimed that a “deep chain reorganisation” had occurred and included 12 double-spends amounting to 219,500 ETC, valued at over $1 million at the time.

All the while, the Ethereum network neared a planned upgrade that was then postponed on Jan. 19. The Constantinople hard fork was due to be activated at the end of the month, incorporating a number of Ethereum Improvement Proposals that would aid in the move from the currently used proof-of-work consensus algorithm to a proof-of-stake system.

A major feature of the upgrade would cancel out backwards compatibility in the network by requiring nodes to update along with the rest of the system. If not, those nodes would be running on a seperate blockchain.

The curious case of Cotten’s QuadrigaCX

Early in February, Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission initiated a probe into missing funds at the now-defunct QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange.

Late in 2018, founder Gerald Cotten died in India and took with him the knowledge of crucial wallet passwords that held millions of dollars worth of his clients’ cryptocurrency holdings. Adding intrigue to the situation was the fact that Cotten had made changes to his will, which was released 12 days before his death. Cotten’s wife Jennifer Robertson was named as the sole beneficiary of his estate.

The Ontario Securities Commission eventually launched an investigation into the situation as clients sought to recover their lost digital assets. 

While QuadrigaCX users fought to recover their lost cryptocurrency in Ontario, an American pension fund in Virginia announced that it would directly invest a portion of its funds into the cryptocurrency and blockchain space through the Morgan Creek Digital firm.

The move is considered to be the first instance that a United States pension fund directly invested into cryptocurrency assets. Two funds in the Fairfax County’s Retirement Systems invested a total of $40 million into the Morgan Creek Blockchain Opportunities Fund.

Tesla’s founder Elon Musk also found his way into crypto news headlines after giving Bitcoin a proverbial “thumbs up” during a podcast interview in February. Musk gave credit to the “structure” of Bitcoin while highlighting the downside of the energy-intensive requirements of the cryptocurrency.

Musk also said that cryptocurrencies are a far better way to transfer value than traditional paper means.

Ethereum cleared at the U.S. SEC; Tether and Bitfinex in the crosshairs

Just days after finally implementing its Constantinople hard fork, Ethereum received a regulatory green light that had been hanging in the balance for some time.

The United States Securities Exchange Commission had been considering the nature of Ethereum’s original initial coin offering back in 2014 and whether it had broken longstanding laws of securities offerings. 

But on March 12, the SEC finally announced that Ethereum was not considered a security, and therefore wouldn’t be regulated as such. The move set a big precedent for token offerings that are similar to Ethereum which would otherwise be subject to stringent securities laws that have led to major lawsuits against ICOs over the past 24 months.

If the findings had been the other way round, Ethereum may have had to pay the SEC millions of dollars for conducting an illegal token offering.

While things looked up for Ethereum, the wider cryptocurrency community shifted its attention to Tether, the stablecoin that is linked to the U.S. dollar at a 1:1 ratio. 

Over the past two years, questions have been raised about the veracity of Tether’s cash reserves to back the amount of USDT in circulation. A lack of an official third-party audit of its accounts was a major reason for the attention. 

On March 14, users noticed that Tether had changed the terms of its reserve policy on its website. The website’s fine print had changed to state that Tether tokens were backed by “traditional currency and cash equivalents.” 

The move garnered plenty of suspicion from the cryptocurrency community regarding the way in which Tether was maintaining and managing reserves. 

In April Tether and its affiliated cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex were back in the headlines. Bitfinex had been accused of using $850 million of Tether’s cash reserves to cover losses and meet client fiat withdrawals

The New York Attorney General’s office requested a number of documents to be provided by Bitfinex in relation to the transfer of funds between the companies. It was also suggested that the transactions had included a trade of shares and the rest of the cash funds would be repaid with interest — points that were argued by both companies.

By the end of the month, Tether’s lawyers addressed concerns around the company’s reserve policy. Legal documents given to the New York Attorney General showed that Tether only had enough cash reserves to cover 74% of outstanding USDT.

On the other side of the world, a report revealed that an arm of the Chinese government had developed plans to curb cryptocurrency mining in the country as part of an industrial revision program. 

Binance hacked while Facebook’s crypto project is unveiled

Early in May, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance, confirmed that it had been the victim of cyber theft in which over $40 million worth of Bitcoin was stolen from a hot wallet.

Hackers had reportedly obtained a variety of data including two-factor authentication codes and API that allowed the attackers access to one of Binance’s hot wallets. A total 7000 BTC were stolen in the attack.

The attack was a reminder that even the biggest exchanges could fall prey to malicious forces. Binance had to suspend all deposits and withdrawals while it reviewed its safety systems in the wake of the incident.

All the while, one of the biggest stories in the cryptocurrency space of 2019 began to unfold. 

A report on May 3 claimed that social media giant Facebook was officially looking to raise $1 billion for an ambitious cryptocurrency and wallet project. The company was reportedly in talks with Mastercard and VISA about the launch of a native payment system for its users.

A month later, Facebook finally released the white paper for its proposed cryptocurrency and blockchain project. Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency was unveiled to the world alongside the digital wallet Calibra, created to support the token.

Buoyed by the positive sentiment in the space, Bitcoin also climbed above the $10,000 mark for the first time since March 2018. The bull run came to an unceremonious end that was directly attributed to the technical problems and crash of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on June 26. The price of BTC plummeted by over $1,400 just minutes after Coinbase’s operation crashed.

Congress halts, grills Facebook over Libra plans

Facebook’s plans for Libra came to a screeching halt at the beginning of July as the United States congress requested a stop-order on the project.

The financial services committee laid out serious concerns in a letter to Facebook’s leadership, saying that the project threatened the “privacy, trading, national security, and monetary policy concerns for not only Facebook’s over 2 billion users, but also for investors, consumers, and the broader global economy.”

None other than president Donald Trump added a voice of detraction on Twitter, going as far as saying Libra would have “little standing or dependability” while slamming cryptocurrencies in general. 

Two weeks later, Facebook was subjected to a three-day hearing by the U.S. Congress. Calibra’s head David Marcus was grilled for two days over the details of Libra and Calibra’s plans. Congress was specifically interested in how Libra would be associated to Facebook and how it would work.

While Facebook’s Libra dealt with a regulatory crackdown, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced at the end of July that it would not regulate Bitcoin or Ethereum.

The regulator released an updated policy statement on cryptocurrencies labeling Bitcoin and Ethereum as decentralized tokens that mainly act as a means of exchange. The documentation confirmed that neither cryptocurrency fell under the jurisdiction of the FCA.

Good news for crypto traders

Cryptocurrency traders in America were given some good news as Digital asset platform Bakkt announced the launch date of its highly-anticipated cryptocurrency futures markets.

The company had a long battle to meet regulatory requirements in order to provide the first regulated Bitcoin options and cash-settled futures and set its sights on a launch in late September.

The Bitcoin mining network hit a major milestone as the year rolled into September. Bitcoin’s overall hashrate surpassed 100 quintillion hashes — a measure that indicates the combined computing power of the Bitcoin network. 

Busy October as Zuckerberg enters the Congress–Libra fray

At the beginning of October, global payment processor PayPal announced its withdrawal from the Libra association.

The company was one of a number of heavyweights involved in the association, but the first high-profile one to pull out of the project. PayPal went on to tell Cointelegraph that it would keep options of future collaboration open. 

A couple of days later, Tether and Bitfinex were back in the news. The companies were the target of a class action lawsuit instituted by Roche Freedman in the U.S.

The law firm alleged that both companies were responsible for defrauding investors, market manipulation, and hiding illicit earnings. Part of the lawsuit accuses both organisations of manipulating cryptocurrency markets by issuing unbacked USDT and using them to pump and dump markets.

Meanwhile, global messaging service Telegram found itself in the firing line of the U.S. SEC for its record-breaking token offering for the Telegram Open Network project. The SEC announced it would sue Telegram and TON for the unlicensed sale of GRM tokens in 2018.

The TON ICO raised over $1.7 billion through two private token sales, which required an investment of at least $1 million from prospective, accredited investors. 

Problems started when Telegram’s Gram Asia began selling the rights to its GRM tokens through a Japanese-based cryptocurrency exchange. The sale broke the agreement of the original ICO and caught the attention of the SEC as an unregistered token sale.

Toward the end of the month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before the U.S. Congress in order to further discuss the Libra project.

Zuckerberg assured Congress that Libra would not be launched unless it was given full regulatory approval in the U.S. and suggested that talks over Libra having a majority backing by the U.S. dollar could be considered.

Positive moves for crypto in China and India

November started off on a stronger note for the cryptocurrency industry as Chinese authorities officially scrapped plans to enforce the ban on mining in the country.

Following reports published earlier in 2019, an updated report on China’s proposed industrial structure adjustments removed cryptocurrency mining from the list of undesirable industrial activities.

Meanwhile, India’s parliament decided to delay a sitting that would look at its “Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currencies” bill. It is understood that the bill proposes a complete ban of cryptocurrency use in India while encapsulating details of a planned central bank issued digital rupee.

The delay was met with positivity from the wider cryptocurrency community, considering the massive population in India and the postponement of stifling laws.

ETH one step closer to PoS, exhumation key to unlocking QuadrigaCX funds?

December 2019 brought down the curtain on an interesting year for the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector.

Ethereum closed the year by rolling out the Istanbul hard fork network upgrade. A key function of the upgrade enables interoperability with Zcash as well as improves scaling and privacy functionality of the network.

On Dec. 9, Bakkt celebrated the launch of the first regulated Bitcoin options and cash-settled futures in the U.S

Up in Canada, lawyers representing victims who lost funds in the defunct Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX filed to have the late Cotten’s body exhumed to prove his death.

Law firm Miller Thomson have requested that the Canadian Mounted Police perform a post-mortem autopsy to assuage concerns that Cotten is indeed deceased. Given the dubious circumstances surrounding his death and the loss of private keys to cold wallets storing millions of user funds, lawyers want final proof that there has been no foul play.

A constantly changing landscape

The end of 2019 brings down the curtain on an all-important decade for cryptocurrencies and blockchain. In the space of ten years, Bitcoin has led the way for a wide variety of projects that have continued to shake up the space.

As the past 12 months have shown, some of the world’s biggest institutions and businesses are actively looking to employ blockchain technology to improve the services they’re offering to users around the world.

The challenge seems to be keeping regulators happy with a variety of projects. Facebook’s Libra plans are the perfect example of this, as the U.S. Congress went as far as saying the project could form a new global financial system.

Digital payment systems of this scale could well challenge the dominance of traditional fiat and global banking systems. The fact that Libra is being built on blockchain technology is just another feather in the cap of the cryptocurrency movement.

Some things seemingly don’t change. Security concerns will always be a challenge for cryptocurrency exchanges, while the cryptocurrency community will continue to be openly critical of projects that aren’t completely transparent about their operations.

Given the developments in 2019, the new year holds a lot of promise for the space. The likes of Facebook and Libra could well be the big news makers once again next year.

What You Need To Know About Congress’s Two Proposed Crypto Laws

What You Need To Know About Congress’s Two Proposed Crypto Laws

U.S. Congress drafts legislation against big tech companies acting as financial entities and securities regulations, but will Facebook back down?

As the cryptocurrency universe enters 2020, U.S. lawmakers are drafting bills to provide clarity around stablecoins and offer regulations for tech companies like Facebook that might want to create their own cryptocurrencies.

The draft legislation “Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act” was proposed on July 15, 2019 by the Democratic majority of the House Financial Services Committee. While this legislation specifically targets Libra, a new digital currency spearheaded by Facebook, the proposal aims to prevent big technology companies from operating like financial institutions.

According to a copy of the draft legislation, a large technology firm is described as a company offering an online platform service with at least $25 billion in annual revenue.

With that in mind, the bill specifically proposes that:

“A large platform utility may not establish, maintain, or operate a digital asset that is intended to be widely used as medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, or any other similar function, as defined by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.”

Facebook still plans to launch Libra, regulators express concern

Facebook (which instantly qualifies as a large technology company) still has plans to launch Libra, and continues to develop the stablecoin’s network today. Facebook also plans to introduce a range of new features in upcoming months, set forth in a press release published on Nov. 15.

Although Facebook has still not set any release date for Libra, regulators around the world are expressing concern.  

As a followup to the Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance legislation, Chairwoman Maxine Waters expressed her negative sentiments about Libra, asking Facebook to put it on hold during her July 17 opening statement, saying:

“In light of these and other concerns, my colleagues and I wrote to Facebook earlier this month to call on it to cease implementation of its plans until regulators and Congress can examine the issues associated with a large technology company developing a digital currency, and take action. The Independent Community Bankers of America and others support this commonsense step.”

While Facebook has remained pretty quiet following congressional hearings about Libra, the Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance proposal would empower the federal government’s financial regulators to assess fines up to $1 million per day for violations.

Based on the drafted legislation and penalty that follows if rules are not met, large technology companies will most likely think twice before launching their own currencies and/or performing bank functions.

Will stablecoins be considered securities?

On Oct. 18, 2019, U.S. Congress published a draft bill titled “Stablecoins Are Securities Act.” This legislation is meant to regulate stablecoins, a cryptocurrency that works as a non-volatile, stable source of value, under the familiar Securities Act of 1933.

That bill states:

“Because issuers of managed stablecoins nevertheless maintain that managed stablecoins are not securities, it is appropriate for Congress to provide clarity by amending statutory definitions of the term security to include managed stablecoins.”

It would appear that the proposed legislation is a direct response to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, which the company described in its whitepaper as a stablecoin pegged to a basket of fiat currencies.

Assuming the “Stablecoins Are Securities Act” bill does pass, all of the laws that apply to stocks and bonds will also apply to stablecoins like Libra. Marketplace policy reporter Nancy Marshall-Genzer explained this in an article published on January 1, saying:

“This bill says that Stablecoins, which are [digital] coins, like Libra, pegged to a basket of something that is considered stable, so these coins are not supposed to fluctuate. So securities being stocks and bonds, this bill says, “Hey, Libra, all the laws that apply to stocks and bonds are going to apply to you.”

Have these bills scared Facebook?

All signs suggest Facebook isn’t backing down from releasing Libra this year. Cointelegraph previously reported that updates were recently made to the Libra whitepaper. 

Although it would appear that the biggest change is the removal of dividends payable to early Libra investors, there is also talk that the changes could address concerns of Libra being classified as a security. 

Libra’s whitepaper initially mentioned dividends, specifically stating: “Interest on its reserve assets would go towards system maintenance, keep transaction fees low, assist with growth, and pay dividends to early investors.”

Yet as Brummer pointed out in an article about these changes, all mention of “paying dividends” had been completely removed. While there are a few theories behind these edits, a primary guess at the motive is that Facebook wants to avoid having this new financial product classified as a financial security.

The Biggest Crypto Winners and Losers of 2019

The Biggest Crypto Winners and Losers of 2019

Amid volatility and regulatory uncertainty, some projects and individuals came out on top in 2019 while others faltered.

Even though the cryptocurrency industry is not new to ups and downs, 2019 has turned out to be the year with the most surprising reveals. The long-lasting bear market of 2018 moved market analysts to call it the year of regulatory reckoning, leaving many jurisdictions uncertain about how to treat cryptocurrencies.

However, 2019 also turned out to be the year of the comeback, as big tech giants like Facebook moved from banning crypto to embracing it. 

Escalating global events such as the trade war between the United States and China have shifted investors’ point of view on the utility of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but there is still a lot to be done even as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission continues to turn down every other Bitcoin ETF proposal. 

As the year comes to a close, here is a look at the companies, individuals and various crypto projects that managed to come out on top in 2019, as well as those that failed to mark the year as a positive in their books.

The winners

Bitcoin’s double growth

This year, Bitcoin and the entire blockchain and cryptocurrency industry celebrated its tenth anniversary as proof of the resilience of Satoshi Nakamoto’s creation. However, at the beginning of 2019, the cryptocurrency industry was just recovering from the so-called crypto winter of 2018. 

Fortunately, Bitcoin kicked off the year with a bullish trend that resulted in an approximate price increase of 11% higher by the end of the first quarter. Anthony Pompliano, the co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital asset management firm, shared his view with Cointelegraph:

“Bitcoin’s price is up significantly in 2019 [as there are] more buyers than sellers on a net basis this year.”

As the trading volume and market capitalization increased throughout the second quarter of the year, Bitcoin led the market with a 165% gain as its price surged from $4,103 to $10,888. Furthermore, Bitcoin’s market dominance increased from 54.6% to 65%.

Among the reasons that have promoted Bitcoin’s continued growth despite a struggling market is the view that the digital currency can act as a hedge in the wake of increasing global uncertainty. This year, the U.S.–China trade war saw most investors look to Bitcoin and gold as hedges. Pompliano also told Cointelegraph that there were other contributing factors:

“The biggest moments probably revolve around the announcement of Libra and the subsequent reactions, both positive and negative, from various folks across the traditional and cryptocurrency markets.”

However, it was not all sunshine for Bitcoin in 2019. Over the third quarter of the year, a bearish outlook emerged as Bitcoin’s price decreased significantly as 100 billion in market capitalization was lost. Fortunately, even as the market struggled to gain ground against the bears, Bitcoin not only closed the quarter with the least amount of loss but also increased its market dominance by 5.4%. Ultimately, of all cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin’s performance has been the best so far.

Compared to assets from other markets, Bitcoin’s performance throughout the year is still far from tenuous. For instance, even though gold is regarded as a reliable store of value, its price has only increased by 17% since January. Even the S&P 500 Index, although with an excellent performance of +21%, is still dwarfed by Bitcoin’s growth throughout the year. Beyond price, Bobby Lee, CEO of the Ballet crypto wallet, told Cointelegraph that Bitcoin has benefited from several major technological developments:

“2019 was a great year for Bitcoin bulls because of the advances in the open-source ecosystem. Lightning Network is increasing Bitcoin’s transaction capacity, wallets with built-in, user-friendly features (Wasabi, Samourai) are improving privacy.”

Gods Unchained’s rise to popularity

According to reports, Gods Unchained, a blockchain-based virtual card game built on Ethereum, emerged as one of the highest-grossing and most popular blockchain games in 2019. This came about after the platform completely sold out its Genesis Card Pack to the tune of about $6.2 million. This came about after Blizzard, the creators of Hearthstone (a digital trading card game) banned Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai (also known as Blitzchung) for expressing support for the Hong Kong protests. The Hearthstone game developer also stripped Blitzchung of his winnings. 

In addition to the backlash received from the gaming community, Blizzard’s actions were criticized in a tweet by Gods Unchained that claimed Blizzard “care[s] about money more than freedom.” Gods Unchained also promised to compensate Blitzchung for his lost winnings while offering him an invitation to their $500,000 tournament.

Related: Blizzard Bans Hearthstone Player, Blockchain Comes to Rescue

The tweet by Gods Unchained was retweeted over 10,000 times, and Google searches for the game have since surged. Unlike Hearthstone, Gods Unchained is decentralized and uses blockchain to ensure that players truly own in-game items and have the freedom to trade them at will.

In a move to give online game players long-term incentives, James Ferguson, CEO of Gods Unchained said that the game is “leveling up the outdated practices of the gaming industry.”

Coinbase’s continued expansion 

In the past, Coinbase maintained a reputation for employing a rather selective strategy for adding coins to its exchange. As one of the big league exchanges in the crypto space, Coinbase is also known for having significantly fewer large-scale hacks. In a year that saw other major exchanges like Binance fall victim to large scale security breaches, leading to the loss of thousands of Bitcoin, Coinbase stands out as a reliable and safe platform.

However, the company was heavily scrutinized by Twitter users this year over its acquisition of Neutrino, a startup that collects cryptocurrency transactional data using the blockchain. For most Twitter users, this move seems to facilitate the exchange’s spying on its customers. 

However, Coinbase’s move to acquire Neutrino is, according to a Coinbase blog post, part of its goal to support all assets while complying with applicable laws. In addition to acquiring Neutrino, Coinbase has doubled the number of listed cryptocurrencies on its exchange since 2018. Coinbase’s aggressive listing approach has seen the addition of coins such as Dash, Cosmos and Waves, to mention just a few.

The company has almost constantly been making news throughout the year, from making acquisitions to denying them, as well as securing multiple patents along the way. Meanwhile, Coinbases’s Visa debit card solution has also seen exponential growth this year, now available for use in even more countries. 

In May 2019, the company also expanded its reach to more than 100 countries while making its USDC stable coin — previously only available in the U.S. — available in 85 of those supported countries. In comparison, Coinbase was only available in about 32 countries last year. Its aggressive expansion appears to be in direct competition to other global players like Binance.

Binance ventures further

Ask any market analyst and they will admit that initial exchange offerings have grown into a big business in 2019. Reports have revealed a high demand for IEOs right from Q1 2019 to Q3, not to mention the fact that they collectively raised over $1.5 billion in the first half of 2019 alone. Unlike initial coin offerings, the biggest determining factor for a successful IEO is the availability of liquidity, and what better way to access liquidity than launching an IEO on a popular exchange. 

That is why Binance and its native cryptocurrency BNB have had one of the best years yet. As one of the biggest marketplaces for digital assets, Binance enjoys a significant share of the trading volume. The exchange’s performance has been so exceptional that the Binance Coin has gained value by 150% over the year. When taking everything into account and considering year-on-year growth, Binance Coin has even slightly outperformed Bitcoin.

Also, Binance expanded its reach with the launch of a fully independent U.S. arm of its trading platform. Despite heavy regulatory pressure that keeps the Binance exchange in the U.S. from operating in states such as New York, the company’s partnership with BAM, a registered money service in the U.S., has so far given the exchange some leeway.

The losers

Facebook’s uncertain Libra launch in 2020 

Facebook’s announcement of its Libra cryptocurrency has been one of the major events of 2019. However, on the unveiling of Libra as a stablecoin backed by a select number of national currencies, U.S. lawmakers reacted with skepticism, summoning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to multiple hearings.

Related: What Is Libra? Breaking Down Facebook’s New Digital Currency

At its core, Libra is a stablecoin backed by real money and lets users buy, sell and send money at nearly zero fees across borders. According to the project’s white paper, Libra’s overall mission is “to enable a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers millions of people.”

Libra’s white paper further claims that it will use “a new decentralized blockchain, a low volatility cryptocurrency, and a smart contract platform” to empower about 1.7 billion unbanked people. This will be achieved through the use of Facebook’s WhatsApp, Messenger and Calibra, which is a digital wallet designed for Libra users.

Despite Libra’s ambitious plan to empower the unbanked, the Libra project has not only come under heavy scrutiny from lawmakers but also faced internal problems of its own. While sharing his thoughts with Cointelegraph, Ballet wallet’s Lee expressed optimism about Libra, saying that although “legislators and regulators in the United States and Europe understand that non-government currencies are a threat to their power, government opposition will diminish over time.” Lee further explained:

“Governments will change their stance because they will come to understand that they can’t control or stop Bitcoin, and they will prefer to have their citizens use centralized corporate coins that can easily be regulated, monitored, and pegged to fiat currency.”

Despite Libra’s ambitious plan to empower the unbaked, the Libra project has not only come under heavy scrutiny from lawmakers but also faced internal problems of its own. 

The U.S. Congress has asked Facebook to pause further development of the Libra projects, and cynics now believe that the project will not get out of the starting blocks without the government’s approval. Multiple European countries have also spoken out against the proposed cryptocurrency, while China announced that it will soon launch its own stablecoin, a national central bank digital currency, likely as a retaliatory measure. Furthermore, in the wake of increased scrutiny from government regulators, some of Libra’s high profile backers like Visa, eBay, MasterCard and PayPal have abandoned the project.

A rocky year for Circle

In October 2018, Circle, a cryptocurrency firm based in Boston and backed by Goldman Sachs teamed up with Coinbase to launch the Centre consortium. Counting on its reputation as one of the most well-funded crypto startups, the two companies aimed to help accelerate adoption of cryptocurrencies. Through the Centre consortium, Coinbase and Circle would increase liquidity to the crypto industry through the issue of a stable coin called the USD Coin. 

In July this year, Coinbase and Circle broadened participation into their consortium in a move that will allow other financial entities interested in the project to issue the USD Coin. In the announcement, the Centre network mentioned that “a natural next step is to imagine a new global digital currency” that would include a basket of tokens backed by a variety of stablecoins. Simply put, Centre’s plan is to go with a Facebook-like approach to create a global currency.

However, Circle has had a rocky experience throughout 2019. Even though the USD Coin has received a positive reception, with Centre claiming that the stablecoin has been used to clear on-chain transfers worth over $11 billion, Circle closed its mobile app, reduced its fundraising goal by 40%, and laid off 10% of its staff between May and June this year. Just recently, the company let go of 10 more of its employees, citing efforts to streamline its services. 

The latest news of layoffs from Circle comes after the recent transition of the company’s co-founder Sean Neville from his position as CEO to a seat at the company’s board of directors. However, a representative of Circle has denied any connections between the recent layoffs and Sean’s transition, telling Cointelegraph that: 

“None of this is related to Sean transitioning out of the co-CEO role. Sean will continue to serve on Circle’s board.”

Craig Wright’s court battles

When Australian-born technologist Craig Wright claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2015, most people in the crypto community were skeptical and thought nothing of it. 

Most people expected that the Satoshi Nakamoto impersonator would have scurried back into obscurity by now. However, Wright and his claims have continued to headline the news throughout 2019. Wright claims that he invented Bitcoin a decade ago and mined over 1 million BTC along with his late business partner Dave Kleiman. After Kleiman’s death in 2013, Wright claims that he put the mined Bitcoin in the “Tulip Trust.”

However, the Australian entrepreneur and computer scientist was sued by Kleiman’s estate in 2018 for allegedly stealing up to 1 million Bitcoin. In the past, it is said that Wright and Kleiman worked together on mining and developing Bitcoin. According to Kleiman’s family, Wright stole between 550,000 to 1 million Bitcoin — worth about $10 billion. 

The ongoing case led to Magistrate Judge Bruce’s ruling that ordered Wright to turn over half of his Bitcoin holdings and intellectual property from before 2014 to Kleiman’s estate, presuming he is indeed Nakamoto. On Oct. 31, the trials re-emerged after Wright pulled out of the settlement agreement to forfeit half his Bitcoin and intellectual property.

In addition to his court battles, Wright was scrutinized by the crypto community after presenting what was considered forged documents as evidence of him being Nakamoto in another case of Wright against Peter McCormack. Wright’s case against McCormack is based on the fact that McCormack’s repeated statement that Wright is not Satoshi is harmful to Wright’s reputation. Most recently, Wright presented another document that allegedly proves how he came up with the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym.

Bitcoin ETF’s continual rejection by the SEC 

Even though U.S. regulators have always left a window for the possibility of approving Bitcoin exchange-traded funds in the future, up until now, every single attempt to license a Bitcoin ETF has been met with failure. In October this year, an ETF proposal filed by Bitwise Asset Management in conjunction with NYSE Arca was rejected by the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to meet legal requirements that prevent illicit market manipulation. 

In fact, all Bitcoin ETF proposals presented to the SEC have been rejected on concerns about fraudulent activities and market manipulation. One of the main criteria for approving an ETF is establishing the underlying market of a new commodity-based ETF.

Related: The SEC Does Not Want Crypto ETFs — What Will It Take to Get Approval?

If the underlying market is resistant to manipulation, regulators can give the ETF the go-ahead. Given the complexities of the Bitcoin market, it seems approval from the SEC is unlikely. Despite the earlier rejection of Bitwise’s application, the SEC later announced that it would review Bitwise’s proposal once again.

While speaking to Cointelegraph on the realistic timeline of the first Bitcoin ETF approval, Charles Lu, the CEO of the Findora fintech toolkit provider said, “For a Bitcoin ETF proposal to gain SEC approval, the sponsor will need to prove that real price discovery is happening as opposed to market manipulations.” In Lu’s opinion, this will not happen anywhere soon, since the SEC would require “surveillance sharing agreements” with the big exchanges.

2019 and 2020

Overall, the crypto industry has shown some significant growth over the past year. Although volatile, Bitcoin is showing significant signs of growth. More institutional investors are looking into the industry to find more ways to invest as well. Even though there is a downtrend in market cap and trading volumes, prominent traders believe that a turn of fate might just be around the corner, especially for Bitcoin holders.

Out of all the winners and losers of 2019, perhaps Facebook Libra is one that stands to be most impactful in 2020. For most onlookers, it will be interesting to see whether Facebook’s Libra project will turn a new leaf and launch successfully in 2020. If it does, there is a high likelihood that big changes will take place throughout the entire industry.

Facebook’s Libra Has Failed in Current Form, Says Swiss President

Facebook’s Libra Has Failed in Current Form, Says Swiss President

The basket of assets backing Facebook’s Libra stablecoin needs to change for the project to be accepted by regulators, according to Switzerland’s President.

The basket of assets backing Facebook’s Libra stablecoin needs to change in order for the project to be accepted by regulators, according to Switzerland’s President.

“Central banks will not accept the basket of currencies underpinning it”

Reuters reported on Dec. 27 that Swiss finance minister and outgoing president Ueli Maurer said that Libra won’t be approved because central banks won’t accept the basket of currencies behind it. 

He concluded:

“The project, in this form, has thus failed.”

Libra’s conflict with regulators

Earlier this month, Libra’s whitepaper was updated to remove dividends payable to those investors, aside from eliminating a potential conflict of interest. The change is thought to be introduced to avoid the asset being classified as a security. 

The announcement came after some United States lawmakers sponsored a bill defining stablecoins as securities. Libra, on the other hand, insists that its stablecoin is a commodity.

Meanwhile, the United States is not the only country pushing back against the proposed Libra project. In November, a draft document to be discussed by the European Union’s finance ministers stated that impeding Libra’s development is an option on the table. 

Also last month, Libra announced that despite the regulatory concern over the project, the development has gone forward with 30 projects and 51,000 transactions having already been logged on the test network over the two previous months.