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Bitcoin news roundup, August 20, 2017

This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:

New developments:

Rogue Silk Road agent admits he stole another 1,600 BTC after guilty plea

Shaun Bridges, a rogue Secret Service agent who plead guilty to obstruction of justice and money laundering while investigating Silk Road, after stealing over $800,000 worth of Bitcoin, recently plead guilty to stealing another 1,600 BTC from a different investigation. When first sentenced for stealing Bitcoins from the Silk Road case, Bridges was sentenced to 71 months in prison, just like another rogue Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Carl Force, who was sentenced to 78 months for similar crimes.

After pleading guilty, Bridges attempted to leave the country before going to prison. Now, according to new court documents, Bridges confessed he stole 1,606.6488 BTC, about $6.5 million, that had been seized from Bitfinex. He moved the funds to a wallet he controlled, and then allegedly laundered them through downed exchange BTC-e. 605 Bitcoins were recovered, and if convicted Bridges could face an extra 10 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine.

SegWit2x: Bitcoin hard fork may occur on block 494,784

The developers behind SegWit2x, a controversial update that was agreed upon in the Bitcoin Scaling Agreement in New York back in May, recently announced through a blog post that the team will enable miners to run the new software at block 494,784, a block they expect to occur sometime in November. If enabled, SegWit2x, as CoinDesk puts it, could lead to another hard fork, that could once again result in the creation of another cryptocurrency. The blog post reads:

  • “During the month of November 2017, approximately 90 days after the activation of Segregated Witnesses in the Bitcoin blockchain, a block between 1MB and 2MB in size will be generated by Bitcoin miners in a move to increase network capacity. At this point it is expected that more than 90% of the computational capacity that secures the Bitcoin network will carry on mining on top of this large block.”

Bitcoin wallet provider Blockchain added support for Ethereum

Bitcoin’s most popular wallet, Blockchain, recently added support for a second cryptocurrency: Ethereum. The move comes after the company entered a partnership with exchange company Shapeshift, and is the first time the company adds another cryptocurrency since it launched in 2011. In a statement, its CEO Peter Smith stated that the popularity of Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency, has grown and along with it so has the company’s customers’ desire to have the option to manage multiple wallets.

The company also added that it is going to offer new services to Ethereum users, meaning some of its data tools might see an upgrade to support both Ethereum and Bitcoin.

World affairs:

Bitcoin isn’t legal in Russia yet, as legislators are looking for an optimal solution

According to Russian media website Invest-Foresight, a working group that’s working on a cryptocurrency legalization bill decided to further delay it due to a number of reasons. Per Elina Leonidovna Sidorenko, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the process was pushed to, at the earliest, winter this year. Sidorenko stated that not all stakeholders agree on what the bill itself should accomplish, and that it isn’t yet clear whether the bill should be a stand-alone measure or be an amendment to an already existing law. Fluctuations in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and the recent collapse of BTC-e are issues that have been concerning members of the working group.

Australia to regulate Bitcoin exchanges through new bill

Australian Bitcoin exchanges are now going to be regulated under the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the country’s financial intelligence agency, as the government is currently cracking down on money laundering and terrorism financing, according to a public statement published by Australia’s Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan. The new bill will “close a regulatory gap” bringing exchanges under the remit of AUSTRAC, and strengthen AUSTRAC’s powers at the same time. Moreover, it will improve police and customers officers’ search powers at the border and provide regulatory relief by deregulating low-risk industry sectors.

The move comes after a financial scandal involving the Commonwealh Bank of Australia, according to CryptoCoinsNews. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is the biggest bank in the country and has reportedly breached AML and terrorism financing laws.

OneCoin promoters fined €2.59 million in Italy

L’Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), the Italian Competition Authority, recently fined several OneCoin promoters for a total of €2.59 million for utilizing pyramid scheme tactics, and for misleading investors through their promotional events. Essentially, a group of companies that were promoting OneCoin, a digital currency investment believed to be fraudulent, were making investors believe that after acquiring a training package, they would get a “OneCoin cryptocurrency” that would substantially increase in value, according to the AGCM. The AGCM detailed an example, in which it stated that the purchase of a €27,530 package would give the investor a €3,000,000 return in two years.

Investors were encouraged to recruit new consumers, which according to authorities was the only purpose of their activities, as it was strongly encouraged with various bonuses and was the “only real and effective remuneration of the program.”

Financial:

Bitcoin at $3,970.55 after hitting an all-time high of $4,478.62

Bitcoin’s value recently plummeted after the cryptocurrency hit a new all-time high of $4,478.62 this week, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The cryptocurrency’s market cap is currently at $65.57 billion and its dominance is at 46.6%. The cryptocurrency ecosystem has a market cap of $140 billion at press time. Bitcoin’s value fell below $4,000 presumably due to market participants taking profits from its recent uptrend, although other factors may be affecting its price.

Bitcoin Cash is now the third biggest cryptocurrency, as one token is worth $930.86

Bitcoin Cash recently became the third biggest cryptocurrency, with a market cap of $15.3 billion. Its price recently surged, possibly due to various reasons. For one, according to reports, Bitcoin Cash transactions process faster, which means investors might have turned to the cryptocurrency. When it launched only a handful of exchanges supported it, but now various others are starting to adopt it. Finally, according to CoinDesk it is now more profitable to mine than Bitcoin, which means various investors are turning their attention to the cryptocurrency. All of this helped one Bitcoin Cash token be worth $930.86 at press time.

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