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Michael Novogratz: Bitcoin Rally Likely to Take Place Next Year

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Michael Novogratz
Michael Novogratz

Michael Novogratz, one of the most prominent investors in digital currencies, reiterated that he doesn’t expect big moves in the price of Bitcoin until institutional investors jump in, perhaps in the first half of next year.

“One thing you learn in this process is that everything takes a little longer than you hoped it would,” Novogratz said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I don’t don’t see us breaking $10,000 by the end of the year.”

Novogratz’s Galaxy Investment Partners will be one of the first customers of a digital asset unit announced Monday by Fidelity Investments during a conference.

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Bitfinex to Charge 3% on Frequent Withdrawals

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Crypto Industry

Bitfinex has introduced new fees on external wire requests that appear to be designed to reduce the frequency and size of fiat withdrawals. As of this week, the exchange will start charging 3 percent when its customers make more than two fiat withdrawals within a 30-day period. It will also charge a 3 percent fee when customers request “more than $1 million in aggregate in fiat withdrawals in any 30-day period.”

Bitfinex claimed that “regular withdrawals” will not be affected by the change, estimating that it will not impact “99 percent” of its customers. However, the exchange “may exempt customers from this charge in its sole discretion.”

The company also claimed that it “serves as the primary fiat gateway in the crypto ecosystem.” It added that it has processed more than 700 withdrawals, worth more than $1 billion in total, over the last month alone. Despite the purportedly high number of withdrawals it said it has been handling, a quick glimpse at the exchange’s subreddit suggests that many of its customers are still waiting for their transactions to be processed.

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Great Lakes Science Center: We take bitcoin

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At Great Lakes Science Center, cryptocurrency will now be an accepted form of payment. The museum announced that it will begin accepting bitcoin transactions on Tuesday, Nov. 13, reportedly making it among just a few museums in the country to do so. The box office will use BitPay to process the transactions.

According to the website SpendBitcoins.com, two American museums known to accept the cryptocurrency today are Museum of the Coastal Bend in Texas and St. Petersburg Museum of History in Florida.

The Great Lakes museum will begin accepting bitcoin ahead of the Blockland Solutions Conference, which clearly inspired it. That inaugural four-day event takes place in December; admission can be paid there in bitcoin as well.

“There is a lot of excitement around the conference,” said Great Lakes Science Center president and CEO Kirsten Ellenbogen in a statement. “Accepting bitcoin is just a small part of the momentum to grow a blockchain ecosystem in Cleveland.”

For Ellenbogen, it also underscores the museum’s own innovative efforts as it supports the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.

“Last year we launched our mobile app that uses augmented and virtual reality to allow guests to experiment with flames in space and test spacecraft designs re-entering Earth’s atmosphere when they visit the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, and now they’ll be able to use their phone to pay for their admission using Bitcoin,” she said,

Some other local companies involved with cryptocurrency Crain’s has covered recently include accounting firm Skoda Minotti, which started accepting bitcoin in September, and Ethode sister company LightSpeed Hosting, which runs a massive cryptocurrency mining facility in Medina County.

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Science Museum in Cleveland to Take Bitcoin Payments

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Cleveland

Great Lakes Science Center, an engineering and technology museum in Cleveland, Ohio, has told local media outlets that it will begin accepting cryptocurrency payments on Nov. 13. The educational center is integrating Bitpay into its payments system for ticket sales ahead of a blockchain conference that will be held at the facility in December.

“Accepting bitcoin is just a small part of the momentum to grow a blockchain ecosystem in Cleveland,” stated Kirsten Ellenbogen, president and CEO of Great Lakes Science Center. “Last year we launched our mobile app that uses augmented and virtual reality to allow guests to experiment with flames in space and test spacecraft designs re-entering Earth’s atmosphere when they visit the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, and now they’ll be able to use their phone to pay for their admission using Bitcoin.”

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Bitcoin Mining Bitmain Releases New 7nm Antminer

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Braiins OS

Bitmain has officially released two new 7nm (nanometer) “Antminer” crypto mining machines, according to an official tweet. Bitmain indicated in September that it would be equipping its new Antminer models with next-generation Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips.

ASIC chips are geared to compute optimally for a specific hashing algorithm and, as Bitmain’s tweet confirms, these latest “acceleration” chips use an SHA256 algorithm, which is based on 7nm Finfet semiconductor manufacturing technology.

In Bitmain CEO and co-founder Jihan Wu’s keynote lecture in September, he outlined that the new chip integrates “more than a billion transistors,” using a special circuit structure and low power-intensive technology to optimize efficiency. Wu claimed that tests have shown the chip “can achieve a ratio of energy consumption to the mining capacity that is as low as 42J/T.”

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Turkish Hackers Steal $80,000 Worth of Cryptocurrency

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Crypto Mining

According to Turkish media, 14 people have informed authorities about their compromised cryptocurrency wallets. The coins have been transferred to other wallets and subsequently sold for fiat. Investigators discovered the hackers had stolen “bitcoins worth 437,000 Turkish lira” (over $80,000), the Daily Sabah reported.

The cybercrime combatting division identified some of the suspects by tracking a new phone number they used to register on the trading platforms where they exchanged the cryptocurrency. The thieves moved the money through numerous accounts to cover their tracks, the Hürriyet newspaper detailed.

On Oct. 26, agents from the unit detained 11 people at different addresses in Istanbul during joint raids with Polis Özel Harekat, the special operations department of the Turkish police. Currently, 10 of the accused remain in custody. Policemen also seized 18 mobile phones and SIM cards, 22 memory sticks, six laptops, three hard disks, a tablet, two driver’s licenses, and a fake identity card.

During the investigation, police officers tracked the suspects who tried to withdraw the fiat money from various banks and ATMs. Their attempts have been recorded by multiple security cameras. Investigators are also looking for more victims of the hackers.

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OKEx named “Crypto Exchange of the Year” at Malta Blockchain Awards

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Gemini

OKEx, the Malta-based world-leading digital asset exchange, has been recognized as Crypto Exchange of the Year at the first edition of Malta Blockchain Awards. The award was presented in the ceremony held during Malta Blockchain Summit 2018 to recognize the companies, experts, and leaders who made outstanding contribution to the blockchain technology development in Malta.

The Crypto Exchange of the Year award is judged by 32 industry leaders and executives with combined experience in the blockchain Industry. Three exchanges were nominated in the category. OKEx stood out from fellow finalists Binance and BitBay.

“These awards are particularly gratifying as they reflect a vote of confidence from industry leaders, who recognize our ongoing efforts. Like we said, we dare to innovate and will keep pushing the limits of what is possible,” said Andy Cheung, OKEx’s Head of Operations.

OKEx is a world-leading digital asset exchange founded in 2017, offering digital assets trading services including token trading, futures trading, and index tracker to global traders with blockchain technology. Currently, the exchange offers over 400 token and futures trading pairs enabling users to optimize their strategies. The platform provides a safe, reliable, and stable environment for digital asset trading, serving millions of customers from over 100 countries.

“Receiving this honour is truly a testament to our unrelenting effort in making changes in the crypto and blockchain industry. We never stop innovating to create the best user experience, to build a robust ecosystem, to improve the crypto industry, and above all, to revolutionize our world with blockchain technology. As a leader, continuing to improve the ecosystem is not only our promise, it is also our responsibility.”

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Department of Financial Services Grants Virtual Currency License to Coinsource

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Crypto Exchange

New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has approved the application of Coinsource, Inc. for a virtual currency license. Coinsource owns and operates touchscreen kiosks, which allow customers to buy Bitcoin with, or sell Bitcoin for, fiat currency in the form of cash. Coinsource is the first DFS virtual currency licensee to operate Bitcoin Teller Machines (BTM).

“Today’s approval is a further step in implementing strong regulatory safeguards and effective risk-based controls while encouraging the responsible growth of financial innovation,” said Superintendent Vullo. “New York’s financial services marketplace is thriving with companies committed to complying with DFS’s regulations that ensure the security of transactions, safeguard the industry and protect consumers.”

DFS has rapidly responded to innovations by licensing technology-based money transmitters under New York’s money transmitter law; online lenders under New York’s banking law; and virtual currency exchanges under New York’s financial services law. To date, DFS has approved twelve charters or licenses for companies in the virtual currency marketplace.

Presently Coinsource operates 40 Bitcoin kiosks in New York, located in New York City, Westchester and Nassau County. The company allows customers to insert cash and buy bitcoin (and store it on their mobile wallet) or sell bitcoin for cash (by scanning their mobile wallet at the kiosk).

CEO of Coinsource Sheffield Clark said, “Coinsource is the first and only company that operates BTMs to receive a New York virtual currency license. All New Yorkers — from the people that are unbanked to the people who own the banks — can use our kiosks in their neighborhood retail locations to buy bitcoin instantly in a convenient and familiar way. Now that Coinsource is a license holder, our customers can buy and sell with confidence that Coinsource meets and exceeds the high standards set by the New York Department of Financial Services. New York represents not just a center of global innovation but also one of our largest target markets. We are extremely proud to be the only BTM operator holding a New York virtual currency license.”

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Bitcoin Dealer Jacob Campos Pleads Guilty & Agrees to Forfeit Ill-Gotten Gains

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Jacob Burrell Campos pled guilty today in federal court to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, in connection with his sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to over 1,000 customers throughout the United States from January 2015 to April of 2016.

According to the terms of his plea agreement, Burrell admitted to operating a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury, and without implementing the required anti-money laundering safeguards. According to the plea agreement, Burrell advertised his business on Localbitcoins.com, and communicated with his customers through email and text messages, often using encrypted applications. He negotiated a commission of 5% above the prevailing exchange rate, and accepted cash in person, through nationwide ATMs, and through MoneyGram. Burrell admitted that he had no anti-money laundering or “know your customer” program, and performed no due diligence on the source of his customers’ money.

Burrell admitted that, at first, he purchased his supply of Bitcoin through a U.S.-based, regulated exchange, but his account was soon closed because of the large number of suspicious transactions. He then resorted to a cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong, where he purchased a total of $3.29 million in Bitcoin, in hundreds of separate transactions, between March 2015 and April 2017.

Finally, Burrell admitted that he exchanged his U.S. currency, which he kept in Mexico, with Joseph Castillo, a San Diego-based precious metals dealer. Between late 2016 and early 2018, Burrell and others imported over $1 million in U.S. currency on almost a daily basis. Burrell admitted that they did this in amounts slightly below the $10,000 reporting requirement. Castillo pled guilty to making a false statement on his federal tax returns, and is awaiting sentencing on December 13, 2018.

According to his plea agreement, Burrell agreed to forfeit to the United States a total of $823,357.00.

“Unlicensed money transmitting businesses, especially those operating at or near the border, pose a serious threat to the integrity of the US banking system, and provide an ‘open door’ for criminals to utilize such businesses to launder the proceeds of their illicit activities,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “The Department of Justice will continue to investigate and prosecute all individuals and businesses that seek to evade the licensing and anti-money laundering requirements under federal law.”

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Regulation Could ‘Backfire’ and Break up the UK Crypto Market

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British Pounds

Attempts to tame the “wild west” of digital currencies will backfire and damage the UK fintech market, experts have warned. A plan by MPs to make the Financial Conduct Authority crack down on illegal activity in the crypto industry is “ashamedly geared around Bitcoin” and could penalise any other kind of asset, a new report argued.

Patrick Curry, chief executive of the British Business Federation Authority has claimed that inappropriate legislation could force crypto exchanges to move out of the UK, damaging the country’s standing as a fintech hub.

The BBFA, law firm Baker Botts, venture capital fund Novum Insights and cryptocurrency exchange TodaQ co-authored the report, which argues that “bad regulation is worse than no regulation at all”.

Mr Curry said: “It is a very blunt instrument approach and I haven’t seen this in other countries. The use of this technology is still a voyage of discovery and these technologies are being refined for different types of use. My concern is the law of unintended consequences.”

Their report responds to prompts for the Government to extend the power of the FCA’s “Regulated Activities Order”, which governs the UK financial market.

Neil Foster, corporate technology partner at Baker Botts, called for more sophisticated legislation that would avoid lumping together other “crypto assets” such as stocks, shares or bonds under the same rules as one currency.

Mr Foster said: “With sophisticated classification we should work out what could be a regulated activity. If you crowbar everything into the Regulated Activities Order you are making everything into an investment bank.”

MPs have struggled to respond to demands to regulate the crypto market after widespread reports of fraud and money laundering raised alarms that investors are unprotected. 
HMRC, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority are currently working on a joint proposal for new regulation.

Earlier this year, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Bitcoin was “failing” as a currency, and had become a “global speculative mania” that “exhibited all the classic hallmarks of bubbles”.

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Bank of Australia: No Need for National Digital Dollars

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Australian

The Reserve Bank of Australia and a global investment bank say the speed of payments innovation will fend off any threat from cryptocurrencies, and creating digitised versions of central bank money will make bank runs much more likely during a crisis.

After last year’s speculative bitcoin bubble, the potential for the Australian central bank to issue digital dollars to allow money to move through distributed ledgers is fading.

RBA assistant governor Michelle Bullock told a global audience at Sibos that while it’s still open to considering wholesale applications for a digital Australian dollar, it hasn’t yet been convinced of the need to create one, and the RBA does not want one for domestic use.

“The system works well and you don’t actually need access to direct settlement to do lots and lots of business,” she told the event in Sydney.

The RBA, like other central banks around the world, has been pressured by fintechs to open up its payment infrastructure by making the real-time gross settlement system more accessible.

“I’m interested to consider what frictions these technologies are designed to address [but] in many cases I just don’t see what the point is,” Ms Bullock said.

“I think there’s an element of – it’s a new technology, we have to find a use for it,” she said, but the burden of proof is on those wanting change, and she said she hasn’t yet been convinced.

“We do have more of an open mind on the issue of wholesale and whether or not central bank digital currencies should play a role in assisting with perhaps supply chains, cross border … But it remains for industry to demonstrate to us really why what we have got available in terms of payments systems, including those still coming on board, can’t actually deliver that already.

“I am not convinced that it has a use.”

The global business head for payments and receivables at Citi, Manish Kohli, agreed, saying global central banks won’t have to create digital currencies due to rapid innovation across global payments systems.

These are occurring in three areas: banks’ own investment in payment infrastructure; Swift’s transformation; and national infrastructure being drastically improved, including real-time capability (such as Australia’s “new payments platform”).

“You put these three together, this combination is going to progressively make the need for digital central bank issued digital currency unnecessary,” Mr Kohli told The Australian Financial Review on the sidelines of Sibos.

The event is being attended by global banks and disrupters like Ripple, which has developed a blockchain-based alternative to Swift allowing funds to move across borders via its own cryptocurrency.

“I think the trifecta is much more credible than the alternatives, which I just don’t see are credible enough,” Mr Kohli said. “Banks of repute won’t want to touch cryptocurrencies to move money because of the market risk they carry.”

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