This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:
Darknet market AlphaBay shut down by authorities; alleged admin found dead in Bangkok
Reports suggest AlphaBay disappeared alongside unfolding raids in Canada, Thailand, and the United States. When the raids were first reported a spokesperson stated that a suspect had been arrested in Thailand, and now it is known that the suspect was 26-year-old Canadian national Alexander Cazes, as reported by DeepDotWeb. He had fled the United States seven to eight years prior, as he was facing a slew of drug and firearm trafficking charges.
According to reports, Alexander Cazes was arrested in Thailand per the FBI’s request, and authorities seized three houses and three high-end vehicles, including a Lamborghini Aventador. Alexander was then found dead in his cell at the Narcotics Bureau in Bangkok by a duty officer, after reportedly using a towel to hang himself.
Some believe the incident might have affected the price of the cryptocurrencies accepted by the marketplace, given its volume, although this is just speculation. DeepDotWeb has already published a report with information on which market is headed to the top, now that AlphaBay has been taken down.
Former Mt Gox CEO pleads not guilty to Bitcoin embezzlement charges
The 32-year-old Mt Gox CEO Mark Karpeles recently went to trial in Japan at Tokyo’s District Court, and claimed that he was not guilty of embezzlement and data manipulation of customers’ Bitcoins. In a prepared statement in Japanese, Mark Karpeles stated: “I swear to God I am innocent”.
Karpeles maintained that Mt Gox’s losses, about 750.000 Bitcoins (now worth about $1.5 billion), were due to “an external hacking attack”. According to the prosecution, Karpeles transferred 341 million yen (about $3 million) from a Mt Gox account with customer funds to an account in his name in December 2013. Moreover, he allegedly boosted the amount in his account in the Mt Gox trading system.
IRS to reduce the scope of its Coinbase summons
After the IRS’s ‘John Doe’ summons was questioned by members of Congress, and after a few Coinbase customers attempted to block it, the latest development in the Coinbase-IRS case is that the IRS now plans on reducing the scope of its request, according to an IRS attorney. Originally, the IRS asked Coinbase to provide U.S. customers’ account information, including passwords, security settings, and other personal data so it could look for unreported income.
Now, reports suggest the IRS spoke to Coinbase and plans on limiting its request. Now, it is only seeking information on users who transacted – bought, sold, or received – at least $20,000 in Bitcoin, and no longer seeks payment information and security settings. Steven Elis, Coinbase’s lawyer, stated that the company is going to file its own brief opposing the IRS’s request, presumably to further reduce its scope.
Japanese Bitcoin exchanges to be inspected by the FSA
In order to prevent another Mt Gox-like scenario, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan’s financial regulator, has announced it was going to step up scrutiny of Bitcoin exchanges in Japan, a country where Bitcoin has already been embraced. According to Nikkei, companies such as Coincheck and bitFlyer, two Tokyo-based exchanges, are to be inspected so authorities can determine if adequate user protection measures are in place.
Moreover, industry firms are going to be investigated, to determine whether and how they are educating potential Bitcoin investors and buyers on volatility and other risks. The FSA is also to examine exchange’s books to determine if digital holdings and customer funds are held separately.
South Korean FinTech firms can now perform international money transfers with Bitcoin
Starting July 18, an amended version of the South Korean Foreign Exchange Transactions Act will allow FinTech companies to legally “provide international money transfer services for small funds” after registering with the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). FinTech companies will be able to transfer money using various methods, with Bitcoin being one of them, although the transferable amount for a one-off transfer is limited to $3,000 or less, with an annual limit of $20,000.
To obtain a permit that allows FinTech companies to perform international money transactions using Bitcoin, a paid-in capital of over 2 billion won (about $1.77 million) and a debt-to-equity ratio below 200 percent is required. Traditional remittance services take 3-4 business days between payment and settlement, and could charge fees as high as 6%. Bitcoin remittance companies, on the other hand, guarantee same-day transfers with fees that go up to 1%.
It’s now possible to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dash in Austrian post offices
A recent partnership between Bitpanda and the Austrian Post, Austria’s leading postal services provider, allow users to purchase Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dash in over 1,800 locations throughout Austria, in the form of Bitpanda vouches in denominations of €50, €100, and €500. These vouchers can then be used on Bitpanda’s website, where the user can select the cryptocurrency he wishes to purchase with the voucher. The company’s press release stated:
- “An account with a valid E-Mail address is all you need. You select the chosen digital currency such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash or Litecoin and after entering the code, within seconds the amount of your chosen currency will be transferred into your wallet.”
Bitcoin at $2,053.02, as the cryptocurrency ecosystem is now worth less than $80 billion
The cryptocurrency ecosystem has been having a rough time. After surpassing the $100 billion market cap, most cryptocurrencies have been on a downtrend and now the ecosystem’s total market cap is at $73 billion. Bitcoin, according to data from CoinMarketCap, is down by 10.89 percent in the last 24 hours, as one coin is now worth $2,053.02. Bitcoin’s total market cap is at $33.7 billion.
Ethereum at $183.78, as its downtrend continues
Ethereum’s Ether token has been losing value for a while now, with media outlets reporting it lost 50% of its value in only two weeks, as one Ether was worth over $370 on June 19, and is now worth about $183.78, according to CoinMarketCap. This week’s downtrend seems to be accompanying the rest of the market, and a few of Ethereum’s supporters still believe the cryptocurrency’s value is going to surge this year.