Blockchain Africa Conference Held Despite Virus Outbreak

Several crypto conferences have been postponed due to the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. The market is in a bearish phase as the virus has affected multiple cryptocurrencies, and even Bitcoin has hit rock bottom.

Despite the current circumstances, the Blockchain Africa Conference 2020 was held according to schedule. The conference was not at its full glory as the event’s chief speaker, Charles Hoskinson, had to cancel his trip because of travel restrictions. Only 230 members were able to attend the conference.

However, the event was able to attract the biggest crypto exchange, Binance. During the conference, Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, revealed the news to extend its services in South Africa. The platform will allow users to trade using the local fiat currency (Rand). The new trading pairs will be offered for the South African market. The initial trading pair will include BNB/ZAR, BTC/ZAR, ETH/ZAR, and USDT/ZAR.

“Africa illustrates one of the largest demands and instrumental use cases for cryptocurrency, notably for financial access. According to the World Bank, approximately 66 percent of sub-Saharan Africans are listed as unbanked. So instead of trying to bank the unbanked, let’s try and Bitcoin the un-Bitcoined.” – States Binance

Event Successfully Attracted US Investors

The conference was able to bring several positive news for the African crypto market. Alternet Systems Inc (ALYI), the US electric motorbike company, is currently starting its operation in Africa. The company has partnered with a blockchain-based company to differentiate its services from the competition by adding user-centric features of transparency. However, the name of the chosen partner has not yet been disclosed, but it is claimed that the firm has been successfully operating cryptocurrencies on the Ethereum blockchain.

To grab the African rider market share, ALYI has developed the designs of electric vehicles. ALYI is now looking to raise $100 million funds through ICOs. The firm will utilize the funds in the production of electric motorcycles. 

ICOs are currently at an all time low, far from monthly 10-figure sell-outs, as was seen in early 2018. However new markets, unique products, and strong market-fits could turn the diminishing tide of ICOs into a once-again booming sector.

Binance Considering to Expand Support For United States Users With 30 Tokens

 

Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance in a blog post on August 9, has announced that it is considering launching support for a larger number of digital assets available to its United States-based users.

According the report, Binance intends to launch support for 30 digital assets in its Binance US platform created specifically for United States-based users. It noted that:

“Binance US strives to be a reliable and efficient marketplace for a rich selection of high-quality digital assets, so that our users can be part of the open and competitive market that discovers projects with true utility.”

Digital assets to be included in the Binance US platform include: Bitcoin (BTC), EOS (EOS), Ethereum (ETH), Cardano (ADA), Cosmos (ATOM), Tether (USDT), TrueUSD (TUSD), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), its BNB token and many others, all amounting to 30 tokens.

The report noted that Binance is currently evaluating the 30 tokens its intends to launch on the Binance US platform under its Digital Asset Risk Assessment Framework, a body set up to investigate and determine that all blockchain projects listed on the platform complies with every legal requirements demanded by the country.

This development comes amid reports by CryptoPotato who warned cryptocurrency users in the United States that they would no longer have access to trading cryptocurrencies, as Binance intends to shutdown access to many trading options come September, it noted.

Binance has recently come under fire over claims of a ‘KYC leaked FUD’ in which was alleged that hackers gained access to thousands of users personal information, a rumor which the CEO of leading cryptocurrency exchange, Changpeng Zhao, debunked as false, saying:

“Don’t fall into the ‘KYC leak’ FUD. We are investigating, will update shortly,” he tweeted.”

 

 

Ripple Looking to Effect New Investments and Acquisitions After MoneyGram

 

The CEO of blockchain payment firm Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, has revealed that the firm is looking towards effecting new investments and acquisitions, following a $30 million partnership deal it signed with major remittance firm, MoneyGram. This was reported from a source on August 9.

According to the report, the deal signed between Ripple and MoneyGram, earned Ripple ownership of 10% stake in the entity, with option to increase its stake on the firm by another $20 million in the next two years.

Speaking in an interview with Yahoo Finance, the CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, said: “We’re in a very strong position, our business is growing strongly, we have a strong balance sheet, and I intend to press our advantage.”

The $30 million deal is no doubt paying off, as MoneyGram CEO, Alex Holmes, in an announcement on August 3, disclosed that it has begun using Ripple’s xRapid liquidity product.

Garlinghouse further disclosed that MoneyGram integrated Ripple’s tech alongside its US dollar to Mexican peso and US dollar to Philippine peso pairings. Debunking claims that Ripple had forked out a premium on MoneyGram shares as a form of inducement for the remittance firm to adopt its tech, he said:

“I wouldn’t characterize it as an inducement […] we’re getting more and more customers to sign up and we’re seeing that value. If we want to accelerate that, we have the option of doing things that might be perceived and characterized by some as an inducement.”

He added that the firm will do “Anything it can to accelerate our growth and give us more capabilities that serve customer needs is a good place to be,” “We’re probably the largest investor in blockchain and crypto on the planet. We’ve publicly announced we’ve made about $500m [of investments] in the space over the last 18 months,” he said.

Also speaking on the impact the MoneyGram partnership will bring to play in the crypto world, Garlinghouse noted that:

“This is a big deal. If I were betting now, a year from now the MoneyGram deal will have a more consequential impact on the crypto markets than the Libra white paper.”

 

 

 

Australian Police Arrests Five Persons in Connection to a Fraudulent Cryptocurrency Scheme

 

In a cryptocurrency investment gone wrong, five people have been charged in Australia, in connection to an alleged fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme.

Per the report, a thorough investigation was carried out by the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, State Crime Command, led detectives to arrest three men and two women who have allegedly swindle over 100 investors into investing more than A$2.7 million, valued around (US$1.83 million) into a fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme that promised them high returns on investment.

However, a warning from Queensland police on August 8, revealed that was not the case, stating that as at 2017, some persons were said to have been cajoled into investing their crypto assets in an assumed “legitimate firm” by the name Exmount Holdings Group, which even convincingly had a website with a call center and sales staff.

Initially the victims were cajoled to participate in a trial investment which promised high returns if they invest more funds. The victims were also provided website accounts, created to enable them to monitor their investment in the time frame of the trial period.

Terry Lawrence a Detective Superintendent of the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, said:

“When victims attempted to withdraw their capital, they could not. Their money had gone and any attempt they made to contact one of the companies or their staff was unsuccessful.”

The police also disclosed that there were other entities and website that were also connected to the fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme, they include: “Exmount Holdings Ltd,” “The Quid Pro Quo Foundation,” “The Atlas Group,” “AFG Associates Pty Ltd,” “tradex123,” “exmounttrading,” “atlasfxgroup” and “amazonqus.”

The five person who were charged in connection to the fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme will subsequently be arraign before a magistrate court on August 9, August 22 and November 5.

Issuing a clear warning to the public, the Detective Superintendent, Lawrence advised citizens to “be wary of any unsolicited telephone calls or emails offering investment opportunities and seek independent advice from friends, family or financial advisors.”

 

 

Malaysian Authorities Clamps Down on 33 Illegal Bitcoin Mining Activities

 

Malaysian authorities have reportedly clamped down on illegal Bitcoin mining activities in the state, after it was discovered that electricity worth 3.2 million ringgit, valued at ($760,736) was stolen from the utility company by the suspected cryptocurrency miners to illegally mined Bitcoin.

According to the report on August 7, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, a major electricity utility company in Malaysia disclosed that due to the illegal mining of cryptocurrency perpetrated by the suspected cryptocurrency miners, it has made a loss of $760,736 in electricity consumed for cryptocurrency mining activities across 33 premises located near the state capital of Pahang, Kuatan.

The distributing network general manager at the electricity utility company, Siti Sarah johana Mohd, revealed that the illegal Bitcoin mining have been going on for six months, she said:

“TNB collected evidence that 23 premises were running Bitcoin mining activities while the other 10 premises were aware of our raid this time around and destroyed the evidence.”

Mohd further explained that the electricity consumed to Bitcoin mining, was tapped directly from the distribution board, she said:

“The metered 3 Amp was used only for one lamp and a suction fan. They paid a bill of only 219 Malaysian ringgit ($52) whereas they should have been billed 108,000 Malaysian ringgit ($25,674) a month for the unmetered 1,500 Amp.”

Malaysia is also one the nations that permits and does not restrict Bitcoin mining and cryptocurrency trading. However, the central bank takes a more rigid stance against Bitcoin, as it disclosed that it would not be seen as a legal tender as there is no protection against fraudulent schemes in which some of its users have been victims of.

South Korea’s Financial Services Commission Propose Direct Regulation for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

 

South Korea is taking steps to bring cryptocurrency exchanges across the state under direct regulation, according to a report from a source on August 7.

Per the report, the Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) of South Korea’s Financial Services Commission disclosed that it is currently working on plans to bring all cryptocurrency exchanges under its direct regulation.

According to statement by an official of the FIU on August 6, the South Korean government intends to plans to achieve this objective through the introduction of a cryptocurrency exchange licensing system, an initiative of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This it noted will improve transparency of cryptocurrency transactions.

The Head of Administration and Planning at the FIU, Lee Tae-hoon, speaking at a public hearing at the National Assembly Member’s Office held in Seoul, disclosed that if the decision to bring cryptocurrency exchanges under direct regulation is upheld by lawmakers, it would enhance the effectiveness of cryptocurrency exchanges. He added that:

“If an amendment to the Act on Reporting and Use of Certain Financial Transaction Information, which reflects the FATF’s international standards for cryptocurrencies, passes the National Assembly, it will be possible to prevent money laundering through cryptocurrencies.”

Reactions from various commentators who noted that regulatory authorities in South Korea must first ensure that existing regulations are adhered to, one of which is that the banks must issue real-name accounts to cryptocurrency exchanges, while cryptocurrency exchanges in the face of compliance by the banks, will in turn adhere to Know-Your-Customer standards and anti-money laundering regulations.

 

Chinese Cryptocurrency Exchange EtherDelta Comes Under Scrutiny by China Police for Alleged Exit Scam

 

Cryptocurrency exchange EtherDelta has come under the radar of the Chinese police who is taking legal action against it in relation to what it termed an exit scam, reported via tweets uploaded by Dovey Wan, co-founder at blockchain-focused investment firm, Primitive Ventures.

Per the report, the tweets from Wan, suggested that the exit scam involved the sale of EtherDelta Tokens (EDT), following its acquisition in 2017 by Chinese investors:

“The actual beneficiaries of EtherDelta are all Chinese after ownership transition in 2017 […] Basically [the founder] Zack Coburn sold EtherDelta to a group of Chinese who later issued exchange token $EDT and turned out to be a exit scam. Now furious investors of $EDT whistle blowed to local police the case was recently taking into official investigation process.”

“FYI Chinese police shows no mercy if any crypto scam involved large amount of retail capital,” he added in the tweet.

EtherDelta, originally founded by Zachary Coburn before its acquisition by Chinese investors is a non-custodial cryptocurrency exchange for trading ERC20 tokens via an order book and Ethereum-backed smart contracts.

In a previous report, the cryptocurrency exchange was also faced with legal difficulties backed in 2018 when Zachary Coburn the original founder of the exchange was charged with operating an unregistered securities exchange by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an accusation which is neither admitted nor denied. However, he agreed to pay $13,000 in prejudgement interest and $75,000 penalty.

 

 

 

Binance Debunks Rumors of Hacked User Confidential Images, Investigating ‘KYC Leaked FUD’

 

Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the CEO of leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance has debunked rumors stating that hackers were able to gain users’ personal data such as personal ID.

The CEO in a tweet on August 7, described claims that the alleged Know-Your-Customer (KYC) data as ploy to spread “FUD” (fear, uncertainty and doubt) among users.

“Don’t fall into the ‘KYC leak’ FUD. We are investigating, will update shortly,” he tweeted.

However, social media users were left in a state of alarm after warnings that appeared to be fake was discovered with figures on personal documents, which turned at to be that of Binance users.

In reaction to this Binance disclosed in an official statement that:

“We would like to inform you that an unidentified individual has threatened and harassed us, demanding 300 BTC in exchange for withholding 10,000 photos that bear similarity to Binance KYC data. We are still investigating this case for legitimacy and relevancy.”

Binance noted that after investigating the images, it discovered that the leaked images where from February 2018, when it “contracted a third-party vendor for KYC verification in order to handle the high volume of requests at that time,” “Currently, we are investigating with the third-party vendor for more information. We are continuing to investigate and will keep you informed,” it added.

In the heat of this claim, a Telegram group has been discovered with rumored “leaked documents” having membership of over 8,300 members, growing by thousands in minutes. The documents posted to the group do not possess the digital watermark distinction that only Binance uses for its confidential information, which raises suspicion on its authenticity.

Zhao reacting to the users joining and spread the link to the Telegram group stated:

“What we should do as an industry is to fight them. Stay on the positive side. Report the group, then leave.”

 

 

 

North Korea has Laundered $2 billion From Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Banks, UN Reports

 

North Korea has reportedly laundered about $2 billion from hacking banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, with which the country uses to procure its weapons of mass of destruction, according to a report from a source on August 5.

Per the report, the information on North Korea’s usage of stolen funds from cryptocurrency exchanges and banks was researched by “independent experts” and presented to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee last week, stated that North Korea utilized “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” in laundering over $2 billion from cryptocurrency exchanges and banks.

The report stated that:

“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion US dollars.”

It added that the experts are currently looking into “at least 35 reported instances of DPRK actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity designed to earn foreign currency” in around 17 nations.

The U.N report also noted that North Korea preferred to target cryptocurrency exchanges because it allowed the country “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.”

Speaking on the development, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said:

“We call upon all responsible states to take action to counter North Korea’s ability to conduct malicious cyber activity, which generates revenue that supports its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”

In a recent report, a phishing email scam directed at South Korea was uncovered in which the hackers were suspected to be operating from North Korea, camouflaging as major trading platform UpBit.

UK Data Protection Agency Drafts Letter to Libra Association, Raises Concern on User Data Privacy

 

United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a request, admonishing companies under the Libra Association to give a detailed explanation on how users’ data will be protected  using Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency.

Per the report, the ICO addressing global privacy expectations for the Libra network, drafted a letter to Facebook and 28 other companies forming the body Libra and Calibra to provide explanations on how they intend to collect and process users’ data in line with data protection laws.

The letter noted that the Libra Associated if launched will hold large amounts of user financial data, stating that:

“These risks are not limited to financial privacy, since the involvement of Facebook Inc., and its expansive categories of data collection on hundreds of millions of users, raises additional concerns.”

A number of authorities also concerned on the manner in which the Libra Association will handle users’ personal data collectively signed the letter drafted by the ICO, the authorities include:

Information and Data Protection Commissioner, the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner, the President of the Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties, the European Data Protection Supervisor, and the United States Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission.

Speaking on the issue of data privacy, British Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, also demanded that the Libra Association provide a detailed explanation on how it plans to secure user data, she said:

“We know that the Libra Network has already opened dialogue with many financial regulators on how it intends to comply with financial services product rules. However, given the rapid plans for Libra and Calibra, we are concerned that there is little detail available about the information handling practices that will be in place to secure and protect personal information.”