This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:
Ross Ulbricht’s life sentence appeal has been denied
Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht saw his life sentence appeal denied this week by the U.S. District Court of Appeals. Ross Ulbricht’s legal team argued that the IP addresses central to the case were obtained without a warrant and as such, violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Life sentences are usually reserved for violent crimes, which is seen as making Ulbricht’s sentence unreasonable, as he was even given a “kingpin” charge, which is generally withheld for major drug cartel leaders.
The attempted murders for hire, along with the Silk Road’s infamy and scale, helped the judges make their decision. They also found the legal team’s argument that Silk Road reduced violence and overdoses associated with drug trafficking unconvincing.
“Big three” Chinese exchanges OKCoin and Huobi introduce Ether trading
Two of the “big three” Chinese exchanges, Huobi and OKCoin, have recently introduced Ether trading to their platforms, noting that Ethereum has surged in value since the beginning of the year. Trading has already begun in both exchanges. Huobi offered several bonuses to users including 5mETH for free to those who traded Bitcoin or Litecoin, and low trading fees for a short period of time.
Notable, OKCoin urged the Bitcoin community to find a unified path toward scaling the number one cryptocurrency, as the network’s efficiency has recently hit an all-time low. The exchange gave examples of how the IE browser and the Nokia phone used to be dominant, but have now fallen behind. The statement reads:
- Given this opportunity, we implore BTC Core developers and relevant Miners to work together and resolve any outstanding technical issues, activate SegWit, and solve BTC’s scaling issues7
BTCC, unlike the other two exchanges, decided to conduct a poll on Twitter to find out which currency users wanted to see on the exchange. After nearly 200,000 votes, Ethereum Classic (ETC) won and will be listed.
— Bobby Lee (@bobbyclee) May 27, 2017
Republicans have questioned the IRS’ case against Coinbase
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been going after Coinbase user information in order to investigate possible tax evasion by digital currency users, between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2015. The cryptocurrency service provider has so far fought the IRS’s ‘John Doe’ summons to stop it from accessing private data, even though the IRS reportedly revealed that less than 1,000 people declared Bitcoin profits or losses. Recently, Senior Republicans in Congress have stepped in and sent the IRS a letter that suggests it is overstepping. The letter reads:
- However, we strongly question whether the IRS has actually established a reasonable basis to support the mass production of records for half of a million people, the vast majority of whom appear to not be conducting the volume of transactions needed to report them to the IRS. Based on the information before us, this summons seems overly broad, extremely burdensome, and highly intrusive to a large population of individuals.
BTCC, Huobi and OKCoin resumed cryptocurrency withdrawals
According to various news outlets, including Reuters, all the “big three” Chinese Bitcoin exchanges have resumed cryptocurrency withdrawals, which helped boost trading volumes in the country, as well as Bitcoin’s price. Withdrawals had been halted since early February, as a consequence of inspections carried out by China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC). The withdrawal freeze was to last only about one month, but ended up lasting several. As noted by some users, withdrawal limits are, for now, rather peculiar, as OKCoin, for example, allows withdrawals up to a maximum of 10 BTC/200 LTC/1000 ETH per day, meaning a user can withdraw about $25,000 worth of Bitcoin, and about $220,000 worth of Ethereum.
Bank of Russia is looking to develop a national cryptocurrency
According to TASS, Russia’s largest news agency, Russia’s Central Bank deputy chief Olga Skorobogatova, announced at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that the financial institution will develop a national cryptocurrency. She was quoted as saying:
- “Regulators of all countries agree that it’s time to develop national cryptocurrencies, this is the future. Every country will decide on specific time frames. After our pilot projects we will understand what system we could use in our case for our national currency,
Moreover, according to CryptoCoinsNews, Herman Graf, the CEO of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, spoke at the event and called for the legalization of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in the country.
Bitcoin at $2,500.57, as its market cap reaches $40 billion
Bitcoin has had one of its best months ever. The cryptocurrency surged in May to nearly $2,800 before the price corrected. Trading volumes have also increased throughout the world, with P2P exchanges such as LocalBitcoins and Bitkan recording all-time highs. At the time of press, one Bitcoin is currently worth $2,500.57, and the cryptocurrency’s market cap is at $40.9 billion according to data from CoinMarketCap.
Ethereum hit a new all-time high, as its market cap is nearly half of Bitcoin
Ethereum has been having an incredible year, and this week its Ether token hit an all-time high of $236. Ethereum’s trading volume has been surging recently, as some of the “big three” Chinese exchanges have introduced it to their platforms, as reported above. At the time of press, one Ether is worth $222.11, and the cryptocurrency’s total market cap is of $20.4 billion, nearly half of Bitcoin’s market cap.