Crypto Bear Market Has Even Led $15 Billion Bitmain to Lay Off Employees

The ongoing bear market has begun to take its toll on a number of businesses, as many seek to close up operations, reduce staff, or make other changes that impact their ability to stay afloat. The latest cryptocurrency firm to feel pressure due to continued price decline, is the $15 billion-valued mining giant Bitmain.
Bitmain Closes Israeli Dev Center Due to Crypto “Shake Up”
After a mere two years in operation, Bitmain will be shutting down its development center in Ra’anana, Israel, citing continued turmoil and uncertainty in the cryptocurrency market.
“The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation,” said Bitmain VP International Sales and Marketing Gadi Glikberg who also serves as the Branch Manager at Bitmain’s Israeli development center.
Related Reading | Bitmain Restructures Leadership Board Positions Ahead of IPO
According to Globes Israel, the Ra’anana office has 23 employees who will be laid off in the process. Glikberg himself is also leaving the company in the wake of the closure.
Back in September, before Bitcoin’s price broke through the critical support floor of $6,000 and plummeted yet another 40% from previous 2018 lows, Glikberg appeared unfazed, suggesting that the “market will find a way to perfect itself” when discussing the influence falling prices had on sales of Bitmain’s Antminer ASIC miners. In the same interview, Glikberg revealed that he had aimed to expand his team to up to 30 employees before the year’s end and was anticipating growth into 2019. However, the tides have turned and many business have been forced to either shut down, or alter their business operations significantly to remain competitive in the current market climate.
ConsenSys and Coinbase: Other Crypto Giants Struggling to Survive
It’s not just Bitamin that is suffering amidst the current downtrend in cryptocurrencies. This past week, blockchain innovation firm ConsenSys laid off over 13% of its 1,200 employees in a major restructuring the company is calling ConsenSys 2.0. The company’s founder Joseph Lubin, who also helped co-found Ethereum, said the the market was extremely “competitive” and the company would need to “retain, and in some cases regain, the lean and gritty startup mindset that made us who we are.”
Related Reading | ConsenSys CEO is Planning Company Restructure Following Bear Market
Coinbase, who generated a whopping $1 billion in revenue during 2017’s bull market, also laid off nearly 3% of its workforce this past October. It’s especially surprising for Coinbase to be dropping employees as the firm’s CEO Brian Armstrong has said that bear markets are a time to “build a strong foundation so we can thrive in the next growth cycle.” The company was also recently valued at $8 billion after a successful $500 million round of investment.

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Coinbase Exploring Support for 31 More Crypto Assets, Ripple Included

Coinbase has announced that is exploring an additional 29 cryptocurrencies including Ripple, in addition to the previously announced Cardano and Stellar, bringing the total coins the firm is exploring to 31 in total.
Coinbase Explores 29 More Altcoins In Addition to Cardano and Stellar
Back in September, Coinbase announced its ambitious goal to “rapidly list” any “digital assets that are compliant with local law.” Now, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency giant is staying true to that word and has revealed a variety of new altcoins that the firm is “exploring” support for to potentially list in the future.
Related Reading | Coinbase To Be Valued at $8 Billion After $500M Investment
While Coinbase is quick to point out that they “cannot guarantee” all of the assets will eventually be listed for trading on Coinbase and Coinbase Pro, the current crypto kingpin aims to offer its clients “access to greater than 90% of all compliant digital assets by market cap,” starting with the following altcoins:

Cardano (ADA)
Aeternity (AE)
Aragon (ANT)
Bread Wallet (BRD)
Civic (CVC)
Dai (DAI)
district0x (DNT)
EnjinCoin (ENJ)
EOS (EOS)
Golem Network (GNT)
IOST (IOST)
Kin (KIN)
Kyber Network (KNC)
ChainLink (LINK)
Loom Network (LOOM)
Loopring (LRC)
Decentraland (MANA)
Mainframe (MFT)
Maker (MKR)
NEO (NEO)
OmiseGo (OMG)
Po.et (POE)
QuarkChain (QKC)
Augur (REP)
Request Network (REQ)
Status (SNT)
Storj (STORJ)
Stellar (XLM)
Ripple (XRP)
Tezos (XTZ)
Zilliqa (ZIL)

Seeking to curb any rumors before they start to fester, Coinbase cautions that “customers may see public-facing APIs and other signs that we are conducting engineering work to potentially support these assets,” and that these signs shouldn’t be taken as confirmation that any assets are being listed, and that Coinbase will provide updates through its official channels.
Coinbase also says to expect “similar announcements about exploring the addition of multiple assets” in the future. The last time Coinbase revealed a list of altcoins they were exploring, it was a batch of five altcoins including Basic Attention Token (BAT), Cardano (ADA), 0x (ZRX), Stellar (XLM), and ZCash (ZEC). Of those five, Coinbase has listed three, starting with 0x, followed by BAT, and most recently Zcash.
XRP May Finally Be Listed on Coinbase
Of the list of new tokens, among the most interesting inclusions is Ripple’s XRP token. Coinbase has long listed many of the tokens in the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap, but have oddly omitted the current number two crypto, Ripple. Speculators suggest that Coinbase may have avoided listing XRP over concerns it may not be sufficiently centralized, which could make it a security under U.S. law.
Related Reading | Ripple Rumors on Coinbase Swell
Back in April, anonymous sources claimed that Ripple had offered to lend Coinbase $100 million in XRP tokens to let users begin trading the asset, and were even willing to allow Coinbase to pay back the loan in dollars, letting Coinbase profit on the loan if the value of Ripple increased.
Given Coinbase’s full compliance with U.S. regulators, should XRP be listed it could be viewed as a green light for investors to safely hold the asset without fear of it being deemed a security.
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Kik Begins Rollout of Crypto Ecosystem with Kin Tipping Feature

The Kin Foundation has begun rolling out its plans to build a cryptocurrency ecosystem to power its messenger platform, starting with a new tipping feature.
Kik Kickstarts Its Crypto Strategy with Kin Tipping
Kik, the popular messenger app for iPhone and Android, revealed today a new tipping feature that uses the company’s native Kin cryptocurrency token, reports The Next Web. The feature will be available today for a limited set of users, and will only be available on Android devices for the time being.
Kik is a widely used messenger app that connects users via individual and group chats. The company is also behind The Kin Foundation that created the Kin cryptocurrency token.
Kin started its life as an Ethereum-based ERC20 token, but the company eventually decided to fork Stellar to create its own blockchain. Now, Kin is finally ready for real world usage.
Related Reading: Kik Messenger Team Moves Away from ETH Blockchain
For now, Kin tipping will only allows users to tip the moderators and admins of public group chats, but Kik will eventually launch tipping for all of its 300 million users.
Kik’s head of product Laura Newton explained that “admin tipping incentivizes public group admins to foster enjoyable chat experiences on Kik, while giving group participants the opportunity to thank admins for maintaining these spaces in the app.”
As reported by Redditors, tips appear as a mid-chat alert, similar to the way users joining or exiting a chat is indicated. The value of the tip isn’t revealed, but tips are currently capped at 500 Kin, which is just a little more than a penny’s worth of the cryptocurrency. 
The initial rollout is also limited to 1,000 public groups as the new feature is thoroughly tested. Those 1,000 public groups can have up to 50 users each chatting, potentially exposing the new tipping feature to as many as 50,000 Kik users.
“The introduction of this new peer-to-peer experience is a huge step forward in shaping Kik into the lighthouse example for new and existing participants in the Kin Ecosystem,” said Kik founder Ted Livingston about the newly launched feature.
More Kin-Related Developments in the Pipeline
The Kin Foundation announced a developer incentive program earlier this year, with the intention of luring developers to build new experiences that utilize the Kin cryptocurrency.
Related Reading: Kin Mentioned On Popular TV game Show Jeopardy
The program offered up to 25 select developers an aggregate total of $3M in a mix of fiat and Kin tokens for “successfully launching their own Kin economies” after six months of development. Phase 2 of the program comes to an end within a month, and the final phase of the program will close on April 1, 2019.
As the program winds down, developers will be ready to debut their new experiences that utilize the Kin cryptocurrency token.
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ConsenSys CEO is Planning Company Restructure Following Bear Market

The continued bear market is taking its toll on cryptocurrency investors, miners, and businesses alike, and has prompted ConsenSys to consider restructuring its business plans so it can adapt to the new market environment and continue to thrive.
ConsenSys CEO Joseph Lubin Alerts Staff to Major Restructure
In response to the ongoing “crypto winter” that has seen cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum plummet as much as 90% from their all-time high prices, and in recent weeks nosedive an additional 50% as the market participants capitulate, blockchain technology solutions provider ConsenSys will be altering their business strategy to ensure its long-term survival.
In a note to ConsenSys employees from founder Joseph Lubin, who also helped co-found Ethereum alongside Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood, told his staff the company will be reorganizing, and entering a new phase of the company’s strategy called ConsenSys 2.0, reports Forbes.
Related Reading: Bear Market Strikes Again: Ethereum Classic Dev Shuts Down
Lubin explained that the company now finds itself “occupying a very competitive universe,” and “must retain, and in some cases regain, the lean and gritty startup mindset that made us who we are.”
“We must recognize that what got us here will probably not get us there, wherever ‘there’ is,” Lubin added.
ConsenSys 2.0 Explained
While employees first learned of the changes this past Friday in a company-wide letter, the new strategy is already being rolled out.
ConsenSys 2.0 will see the company drop underperforming projects and the firm’s investment branch will now function more similarly to a traditional startup accelerator that involves strict deadlines and tougher standards.
The ConsenSys CEO told Breaker Mag that the company will become “a lot more rigorous in terms of milestones and timetables,” and will sacrifice projects with less long-term potential “if we’ve come to the conclusion that our earlier assumptions were incorrect.”
ConsenSys 2.0 will center around five “pillars,” including further developing the Ethereum ecosystem, funding startups through its venture arm, offering businesses blockchain solutions, providing education about blockchain, and instilling a “culture of excellence and accountability.” The firm will hold itself more accountable in the future to ensure profitability during the difficult market climate.
Related Reading: Ethereum Price Analysis: ETH/USD Could Revisit $100
Despite the ongoing downtrend, cryptocurrencies like Ethereum have been suffering through for much of 2018, Lubin is undeterred in his beliefs that blockchain and Ethereum will ultimately become a success.
“In ConsenSys 1.0, we built a laboratory instrumented to prove the moon existed, using complex engineering and math and creative philosophical arguments,” Lubin elaborated. “Now we need a streamlined rocket ship to get us there, since the actual proof, ultimately, is in the landing,” he said.
To put the market troubles into perspective, Ethereum is currently trading at $102 at the time of this writing, down 92% from its all-time high of $1,417.38 back in January of this year. Lubin attributes this to “riskier assets around the world” correcting and Bitcoin’s price “affecting all the different tokens.”
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Future is Brighter Than Ever for Crypto, Says Roger Ver

The outspoken CEO of Bitcoin.com believes that the future of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash is bright, despite the current market sentiment, fearing that the budding financial technology has already met its demise.
Roger Ver: Based on Fundamentals, Crypto’s Long-Term Future is Bright
Roger Ver is a polarizing character in the cryptocurrency industry.
Love him or hate him, though, there’s no denying the early Bitcoin investor has helped bring cryptocurrency into the mainstream and has pushed the envelope for widespread adoption. In his latest comments, the Bitcoin.com CEO gives a positive outlook on cryptocurrencies.
While speaking to Bloomberg, Ver was questioned about the longevity of cryptocurrencies. As a self-proclaimed “fundamentals investor,” Ver believes that “long-term the future is brighter than ever,” for cryptocurrencies, adding that there’s “more awareness,” “more adoption,” and “more stuff happening all over the world.”
Related Reading: Roger Ver Hints at Launching Bitcoin Cash-Centric Exchange
Pundits like to demonize cryptocurrency for its usage in cyber crimes, for being a Ponzi scheme, or how cryptocurrency exchanges have suffered security breaches resulting in millions of dollars stolen from investors. Ver, on the other hand, claims that these things are nothing more than “bullish signals that cryptocurrency is here to stay and here for the long-term.”
“If anything I think it’s brought additional awareness to the ecosystem in the fact that such big players are involved. The fact that hackers are trying to hack it shows its worth something. If it wasn’t worth anything, it wasn’t useful, hackers wouldn’t be wasting their time trying to hack it,” Ver said justifying his comments.

“I’m incredibly bullish on the entire crypto coin ecosystem, and Bitcoin Cash specifically,” Ver explained.

Ver Wishes Bitcoin SV and Other Crypto “Good Luck”
When asked how cryptocurrencies can shed some of the stigma surrounding them, Ver suggests that influential figures and businesses in the space “need to build an economy based on actually using cryptocurrencies as currencies rather than just a bunch of speculators speculating.” Ver says that’s been Bitcoin’s goals from day one, as is the goal of Bitcoin Cash and recent rival Bitcoin SV.
While a “war” between two Bitcoin Cash factions has been waging for months – which many point to as the uncertainty that led to Bitcoin’s break of support at $6,000, sending it to new lows – Ver wished his opposing camp “good luck.”
Related Reading: Bitcoin Cash Rivals Duke It Out Ahead of Hard Fork
“I wish every cryptocurrency good luck if they’re trying to bring more economic freedom to the world by making them useful as currencies for the world,” Ver added.
Last month, Bitcoin Cash was hard forked to split and create two “camps” as Ver called them: Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV. Bitcoin ABC was favored by Ver and his supporters, while Bitcoin SV – Satoshi’s Vision – was led by Craig Wright, who claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto.
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US Government Aims to Make Privacy Coins’ Use Case Obsolete

A branch of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DoHS) is researching the possibility of using blockchain forensic analysis tools to better trace privacy coin transactions.
Privacy No More: US Government Preparing Forensic Analysis Tools
Among the biggest concerns surrounding cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are fears that the emerging technology could facilitate money laundering by rogue countries, terrorist organizations, and cybercriminals.
However, the United States government has increasingly bolstered their ability to trace blockchain transactions, and have even learned how to track Bitcoin transactions back to the source and identify the wallet holder, as was the recent case where the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two men from Iran over their involvement in ransomware attacks.
Related Reading: Iran Is Prepping National Crypto to Evade US Sanctions
Next on the government’s agenda, is to begin looking into privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, such as Dash, Zcash, Monero, and more.
According to a pre-solicitation document published by the DoHS’s Small Business Innovation Research Program. The document, discovered by The Block, the U.S. government is allegedly investigating ways to better track transactions on the blockchains of the aforementioned privacy coins.
The report does speak positively about some of the aspects of privacy coins, but calls attention to transactions of “illegal nature” that occur using said cryptocurrencies. The eventual goal is to build out a platform that law enforcement agencies, government branches, and even private financial institutions can use to analyze and enforce important anti-money laundering laws.
Since the document is just a pre-solicitation, the notice is “merely an opportunity for interested parties to comment on or request information about the attached topic areas,” and doesn’t mean that the government already has such tools in its possession. It does, however, prove that the DoHS has concerns over privacy coins and their potentially illegal usage.
Japan Bans Privacy Coins, Will the United States Follow?
Zcash, Dash, Monero, and many other privacy-focused cryptocurrencies allow users to hide transaction and address data from anyone outside of the sender and receiver.
Monero is the cryptocurrency of choice for most cryptojackers as cybercriminals are able to easily hide their tracks. Monero has also unseated Bitcoin as the most-used cryptocurrency on the dark web, so it’s no surprise to see that the United States is joining Japan in addressing concerns around privacy coins.
Related Reading: Japan’s FSA Grants Self-Regulatory Status to Crypto Industry
In Japan, where cryptocurrency-related theft has skyrocketed, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) has imposed a ban against any cryptocurrency exchanges in the country from offering privacy coins. The ban took effect this past June, and the ripple effect is just now reaching the United States.
Coincheck, which suffered the largest cryptocurrency exchange hack in history at the start of this year, was among the exchanges that were forced to comply with the FSA’s ban, and removed Monero, Dash, Zcash, and Augur’s Reputation coin.
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US Mining CEO: Bitcoin Miners Are Being Flushed Out of the Market

The CEO of one of the largest cryptocurrency mining firms in North America says miners are being flushed out of the market after Bitcoin’s latest price drop.
Bitcoin Mining No Longer Profitable, Miners Exiting En Masse
While November has typically been among the most profitable months for Bitcoin investors in the past, this November led to the worst single-month decline since August 2011, dropping 37% in a month. Even with Bitcoin having already fallen over 70% from its all-time high of $20,000, full-blown panic didn’t ensue until this break of critical support at $6,000.
With this latest decline, Bitcoin’s price is now well below the price at which Bitcoin mining provides a profitable return on investment, which currently hovers around $4,500.
Malachi Salcido, CEO of Washington-based cryptocurrency mining firm Salcido Enterprises, said that companies like his own are “entering in the phase when there’s a flushing out of the market,” and that only “relatively few” operations “will come out the other side,” reports Bloomberg.
Related Reading: November Crypto Review: One-Third of Market Wiped Out
According to Salcido, the 22 megawatts of power his firm currently has deployed makes him among one of the largest miners in North America and the United States. The Washington-based cryptocurrency mining firm is building an additional 20 megawatts of power.
With Bitcoin prices plummeting and reaching levels of unprofitability for most miners, only those – such as Salcido Enterprises – who have access to low energy costs and have significant scale, can stay in operation. Salcido Enterprises’ base operations are located near the Columbia River and are privy to some of the cheapest electricity prices in the entire country.
Salcido pays just three cents per kilowatt hour, which is roughly half of what Bitcoin miners in China are paying.
The mining firm executive has been through three other major Bitcoin price crashes in the past, and is predicting that the “bottom” will be “in February.”
“I expect where we are at to possibly get a little worse before it gets better,” Salcido said.
100,000 Individual Miners Shut Down, Leaving Bitcoin Susceptible
Blockchain research and analysis firm Autonomous Research LLP estimates that 100,000 individual miners have closed up shop after this latest price drop in Bitcoin, causing retail investors, speculators, miners and even hedge funds to capitulate.
Related Reading: Bitmain Launches Crypto Index for Investors
As smaller miners leave the market, mining difficulty lowers and profitability increases for the largest entities, such as Salcido and Chinese-based mining giant Bitmain. But with fewer and fewer companies mining for Bitcoin and thus controlling the network’s hashpower, the crypto asset is increasingly susceptible to a 51-percent attack.
In a 51-percent attack, miners with at least a 51% majority control of the network’s hash rate would gain the ability to alter transactions on the blockchain, and could potentially steal billions of dollars from Bitcoin investors in the process.
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What Is Bitcoin? Crypto Featured as Category on Jeopardy

During last night’s airing of the popular TV game show Jeopardy, cryptocurrency was featured among the categories contestants could choose from.
I’ll Take Cryptocurrency for $1,000, Alex
On Thursday night’s episode of the iconic TV game show hosted by Alex Trebek, Jeopardy, cryptocurrency was one of the six categories contestants could select from.
In Jeopardy, chosen categories reveal an answer to a query and the contestants must phrase their response in the form of a question.
The first answer in the category was “an altcoin is any unit of cryptocurrency other than this one,” with the correct response being “What is Bitcoin?”
Next up, was the Daily Double, which had an answer “in 2018, this South American country launched the Petro currency backed by oil reserves,” referencing Venezuela’s native cryptocurrency token.
The third answer touched on a “3-letter chat app” that had a similar sounding name as its cryptocurrency token – a nod to Kik and the Kin token that will power the app’s cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Up fourth was an answer describing how blockchain worked. And last but not least, the answer “a lawsuit from this rapper killed off the Coinye currency,” pointed to the court case years prior between hip hop icon Kanye West and the Coinye cryptocurrency. West had no affiliation with the project but his likeness was used regardless without his permission, and a legal battle ensued that led to the founders of the project abandoning it.
While cryptocurrency being featured on a popular TV show like Jeopardy really has little to no impact on prices, adoption, or other key factors, one cannot discount the value of cryptocurrencies being exposed in an educational manner to the mainstream public on one of the most watched television shows in history. Jeopardy has over nine million viewers per week tune in, and is a household name easily recognizable by its iconic jingle.
Even better for crypto, the way cryptocurrencies were presented in a positive, educational manner and not the demonizing tone mainstream media usually portrays cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
More Ways to Play with Crypto
Playing Jeopardy alongside the live contestants and responding correctly in a crypto-focused Jeopardy category would be fun for just about any cryptocurrency enthusiast. But the fun doesn’t need to stop there.
Earlier this year, Bitcoin was officially added as a recognized word in the popular Hasbro board game Scrabble. Merriam-Webster, who maintains the official Scrabble dictionary made the addition in September alongside 300 other words including “emoji” and “twerk.” Placing tiles on the Scrabble board spelling out Bitcoin earns the player 11 points.
Scrabble points aside, investors betting on the cryptocurrency could potentially earn a lot of money, however, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been stuck in a grueling downtrend over the last 11-months.
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ASUS Announces Crypto-Mining Partnership Despite Market Challenges

ASUS has announced a partnership with Quantumcloud that turns idle graphic cards into cryptocurrency miners.
ASUS Partners with Quantumcloud
Taiwan-based computer and electronic component manufacturer AsusTek Computer Inc., most commonly known as ASUS, has partnered with “innovation factory” Quantumcloud, reports Tech Radar.
The partnership will allow owners of ASUS-branded graphics cards to mine for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, while a GPU is idle. According to the report, it turns a regular ASUS graphics card into a GPU that can “potentially earn a passive income by installing Quantumcloud’s software.”
ASUS graphics card owners will be able to download Quantuncloud software that allows them to tap into the GPU’s processing power, and use it to mine for cryptocurrencies. The software also provides users with the ability to set up a wallet, perform conversions, transfers, and more, right from the software, removing much of the guess work out of cryptocurrency mining.
Related Reading: ASUS Introduces 20 GPU Motherboards for Crypto Mining
Once the software is set up, and cryptocurrencies have been mined, users can also opt for digital payouts via PayPal or WeChat.
ASUS says that all customer user and financial data is protected under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), so ASUS GPU owners can rest assured using their graphics card to mine for cryptocurrencies is a safe and secure process.
Interest In Crypto Mining Dwindles as ASUS’ Competitor Shares Suffer
ASUS continuing down the path of cryptocurrency mining is a surprising move. This is due to the fact that some of ASUS’ biggest competitors across a number of industries are suffering major financial losses due to their investment in supporting the cryptocurrency mining craze last year, and are now fleeing the industry.
California-based Nvidia went all-in on cryptocurrency mining at the peak of the 2017 bull run. Cryptocurrencies can be mined using specialized mining hardware designed for the task, however, graphics cards, the same ones that companies like Nvidia, AMD, and ASUS produce, can also be used – albeit less effectively – to mine for cryptocurrencies.
Related Reading: Nvidia Pulls Out of Crypto Mining Citing Low Revenue
As the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum began to climb throughout 2017, so did sales, and thus demand, of GPUs. Store shelves everywhere were left empty as those hooked by the crypto craze sought to increase their cryptocurrency holdings any way they could.
But as the cryptocurrency bubble popped, interest in cryptocurrency mining evaporated as portability dropped.
GPU-manufacturers like Nvidia were taken by surprise by the initial demand, thinking that they had a new revenue stream to tap into. Nvidia responded by increasing production of its GPUs, but is now regretting that decision as sales of its cryptocurrency-based products have declined significantly, reducing the company’s annual financial projections.
The news of lowered revenue expectations sent Nvidia shares plummeting by 17%. Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, explained that “the crypto hangover lasted longer than we expected.”
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Move over Twitter: Crypto Scams Have Infiltrated Facebook

While cryptocurrency-related scams are commonplace on Twitter, Facebook users have started being targeted by scammers with fake cryptocurrency ads.
Facebook Users Targeted with Fake Crypto Ads
Twitter has been widely plagued with cryptocurrency-related scams, typically through phony giveaways that lure users into sending crypto in exchange for a larger sum. The scam is so frequent and so commonplace, that scammers may have reached a level of saturation on that social media platform, and have since turned to its social media rival, Facebook.
A string of sponsored ads promoting a fake cryptocurrency has been spotted on Facebook. In this particular scheme, the cybercriminals behind it aren’t looking to steal cryptocurrencies from Facebook users, they’re trying to gain access to sensitive user data, including credit card information.
Hard Fork says the ad redirects users from Facebook, to a site mimicking CNBC, which does indeed report on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The site offers Facebook users the chance to get in on a “big investment opportunity” and provides info on a fake cryptocurrency called CashlessPay.
Related Reading: Facebook Has a Change of Heart, Reverses Ban on Crypto Ads
The website also features all of the common red flags the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) points out on their HoweyCoins educational website designed to teach investors how to spot fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs). These signs include a celebrity endorsement by British serial entrepreneur and investor Sir Richard Branson, and the promise of turning “today’s breakfast money” into “something big within a week.”
Clicking through the counterfeit CNBC site leads to the CashlessPay fake crypto site itself, and completing the registration process further sends users down the scam’s rabbit hole to phony cryptocurrency exchanges hosted in Bulgaria.
Facebook May Regret Its Move to Reinstate Crypto Ads
At the start of the year, Facebook, Google, and others banned cryptocurrency-related ads outright – fraudulent or legit – from their advertising platforms. The move was highly controversial, and many point to the ban as what kicked off the current bear market.
However, back in June, Facebook updated its advertising policies to allow some pre-approved cryptocurrency advertisers to market on the popular social media platform. It appears that somehow scammers have found loopholes in Facebook’s policy.
Related Reading: Twitter on the Defensive, Blames Third-Party App for Recent Scams
One such way the scammers are able to spread their message via sponsored ads, is through existing popular accounts similar to what happens on Twitter.
There, a prominent user’s account – such as Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla – is hijacked and used to dupe users. In this case, musician Jonatanas Kazlauskas’ page was used to promote the scam. At this time, though, it is not clear if Kazlauskas’ 7.4K follower page was compromised or if the musician is directly involved in the scam.
Twitter has been plagued with similar scams throughout the year, and has mostly been defenseless against the swarm of scammers preying on social media users. Twitter recently said it had implemented some new security measures, which may have caused some scammers to seek Facebook as a new hunting ground.
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CNBC Tech Correspondent: Bitcoin’s Survival Hinges on People Believing in It

While speaking on a recent panel, Elizabeth Schulze, CNBC technology correspondent, explained how Bitcoin’s long-term survival as an asset and currency depends upon people believing in it.
Bitcoin’s Long-Term Survival Will Be Determined By Its Users
The current price action witnessed with Bitcoin, is enough to shake even the strongest investor’s hands.
The continued price decline and the recent break of important support that took the cryptocurrency to new lows has created unparalleled fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) in investors everywhere, who are now left questioning the long-term validity of their investment.
That long-term validity, Bitcoin’s very survival, will be determined by its users, according to Schulze.

“Bitcoin’s success ultimately hinges on its customers – its buyers believing in it. It’s not something backed. There’s no authority that is going to come in and say ‘we’re going to buy Bitcoin if nobody else does’ so there really is a belief in this system,” Schulze said in a CNBC segment.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is a speculator’s game. At the moment, it’s nearly impossible to assign a realistic value to Bitcoin or any of the thousands of cryptocurrencies in the wild. The value of other asset types are based on a number of tangible factors, such as revenue streams, assets, liabilities, and more.
Related Reading: Apple Co-Founder Hopes Bitcoin Becomes Global Currency
Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology they brought into existence are a new emerging technology that’s applications aren’t yet fully understood, making assigning a reasonable value extra challenging.
Given Bitcoin’s potential to replace the entire world’s fiat currency system, its value could be extremely high – potentially hundreds of thousands per BTC given its scarce supply. But it’s hard to say what Bitcoin should be worth based on its current use cases.
This is why Schulze’s comments ring true: Bitcoin will only succeed if enough people believe in the asset and technology changing the future, or at least believing in it as a form of payment, a store of value, or any of the other things Bitcoin is pitched as.
Bitcoin Longevity Faces Challenge as New Money Dries Up
Since valuation is difficult, investors look to trends to tell them when to buy. And after so many retail investors and hedge funds got burned by buying into the last bull run, new money coming in has all but dried up, which can in part explain the continued price decline.

“It currently looks like there’s enough early investors still out there, you know, it hasn’t gone to zero. But not a lot of retail investors, not a lot of hedge funds, [or] overall investors [are] getting in,” Schulze explained in closing.

Bitcoin is currently trading at around $3,700, over 40% less than it was just a month ago. The asset billed as “pure digital gold” is down roughly 80% from its all-time high in December 2017, leaving many wondering what will end up happening to the original cryptocurrency that started it all.
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American Woman Faces 20-Year Sentence for Using Bitcoin to Fund ISIS

A Pakistani-American woman is facing up to 20 years in prison after she admitted to sending Bitcoin to a terrorist organization to fund their deadly criminal operation and activities.
27-Year-Old New York Woman Funds ISIS with Bitcoin
Zoobia Shahnaz, a 27-year old New York hospital technician, has admitted to a Federal Court Judge that she took out a fraudulent $22,500 loan and a number of fraudulent credit cards in order to raise a grand total of $62,000. The raised funds were used to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which were then sent to various ISIS shell companies across the globe.
Shahnaz admitted to the charges as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Oftentimes a defendant can bargain with prosecutors for a less stringent sentence if charges are admitted to, or information is provided that further’s an investigation or better supports the charges of the case.
Related Reading: Indonesian Investigator Claims Bitcoin is Funding ISIS Operations
Even with the plea deal, the judge presiding over Central Islip federal court in New York, Judge Joanna Seybert, could sentence Shahnaz to up to 20 years in a federal prison.
Shahnaz – a U.S. citizen – was apprehended by authorities from the Joint Terrorism Task Force back in July 2017, as she was preparing to board a flight to Pakistan, on her way to Syria. The investigation also revealed that the defendant was visiting “various violent jihad-related websites and message boards, and social media and messaging pages of known IS recruiters, facilitators and financiers.”
Crypto Not Typically an Effective Tool for Funding Terror
While Shahnaz eventually was caught, the American woman was able to send cryptocurrencies to ISIS abroad effectively, while the practice usually fails in general for terrorists, according to Yaya Fanusie, the director of analysis for the Foundation For Defense of Democracies Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance.
In September, during a Congressional House Financial Services Committee hearing, Fanusie revealed his findings that terrorist organizations such as ISIS have repeatedly failed to fund their criminal operation using cryptocurrencies.
Related Reading: Blaming Bitcoin for Aiding Terrorism, Money Laundering
Fanusie pointed out the fact that part of the struggle is due to terrorists organizations being required to operate in desolate locations, often hidden away from society for protection.
Without easy access to internet or electricity infrastructure, sending and receiving cryptocurrencies creates an insurmountable challenge that has deterred terrorists from using the emerging technology to fund their criminal activities.
Even though terrorists organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS have struggled thus far, Fanusie warned Congress that that could change in the future, and that the United States should prepare itself “for terrorists’ increasing usage of cryptocurrencies,” so the U.S. “can limit the ability to turn digital currency markets into a sanctuary for illicit finance.”
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Bitcoin Cyber Monday: Deals, Shopping Tips, and Discounts

It’s Cyber Monday, and that means there are deals and discounts for cryptocurrency investors to take advantage of.
After families everywhere gather for Thanksgiving and appreciate the things they have in life, the day immediately after, known as Black Friday, is a day for trampling others in retail stores in order to buy the things you don’t have, usually at a deep discount. The savings extend from retail to online the first Monday following after Black Friday in a day dubbed Cyber Monday. 
With Bitcoin prices continuing to tumble, cryptocurrency investors may be more interested than ever in saving a few bucks this Cyber Monday.
Bitcoin Cyber Monday Deal: Ledger Nano S 50% Off
Among the most important things a cryptocurrency investor can do is to protect their investment. Keeping cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin on an exchange can be a risky move and may lead to theft. Web- and other internet-based wallets such as mobile apps are better than keeping funds on an exchange, but cold storage via a hardware wallet is recommended for the highest level of security and peace of mind.
Leading cryptocurrency hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger, is offering their best-selling Ledger Nano S USB cold storage wallet for 50% off today only for Cyber Monday.
Ledger recently announced a range of different colors available for the Ledger Nano S, however, Ledger is only offering the discount on the Matte Black model.
Bitcoin Cyber Moday Deal: Buy 2 Trezor, Get Third Free
Trezor, Ledger’s fiercest competitor in the hardware crypto wallet space, is holding a Cyber Monday deal of their own.
Today only, it is offering a buy two, get three deal for the Model One hardware wallet. The Cyber Monday deal beats out the Black Friday discount which only offered 33% off a Trezor hardware wallet.
Bitcoin Cyber Monday: Earn Bitcoin While Online Shopping
If you are already doing Cyber Monday shopping online, you might as well earn Bitcoin as you shop. Retailers like Macy’s, Walmart, and many more are offering up some of the best deals of the year, and are available on through Lolli’s Google Chrome add-on.
Using Lolli, the add-on software will alert you if a website you are shopping on is eligible for a Bitcoin reward. Dozens of popular retailers are eligible for Bitcoin returns.
Bitcoin Cyber Monday: Deep Discounts on Cryptocurrencies
In case the aforementioned savings weren’t enough discounts for Cyber Monday, some of the best deals available today are on cryptocurrencies themselves.
Bitcoin is currently trading at roughly $3,750, a nearly 80% discount off Bitcoin’s all-time high price of $20,000. Ethereum, which was trading at $1,200 at the start of 2018, is currently 90% off, at a price of $110.
Nearly all cryptocurrencies are down at least 75% from their all-time highs, making this a buyer’s market. It’s always difficult to buy in the face of fear, but as the saying goes, “buy when there is blood in the streets.”
Related Reading: Bitcoin Bounces Off $3,500, Analysts Skeptical That Crypto Bottom Is In
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Lead Monero Dev Slams BAT Policies, Brave Founder Clarifies

The lead developer for Monero slammed BAT over its policies and “awful design decisions,” putting Brave founder Brendan Eich on the defensive.
Monero Dev Compares BAT to The Mafia
Monero frontman Ricardo “fluffypony” Spagni took to Twitter on Thanksgiving not to give thanks, but to give Basic Attention Token (BAT) a verbal beating, comparing the utility cryptocurrency token developers to “the mafia.” The heavily opinionated developer also called BAT “centralized, permissioned, and thus entirely disinteresting and better done with a database instead of a blockchain.”
Spagni’s comments come after he discovered a “loophole” that allows BAT devs to “steal funds from users.” “The BAT ToS let’s them steal ‘unclaimed’ tokens after 90 days, but they can also use ‘Sybil attack investigation’ and KYC/AML excuses to prevent you from claiming your coins for 90 days,” he alleges.
He asserts that Brave features an overly complicated AML/KYC process disguised as a backdoor, allowing them to hold BAT tokens hostage that were initially intended for content creators.
Brave’s Eich Responds, Clarifies BAT Clawback
While Spagni is only looking out for cryptocurrency investor’s best interests, his comments are exceptionally accusatory and negative despite BAT creator and founder of the Brave browser Brendan Rich’s track record of success in creating game-changing internet technologies. Eich first’s contribution to the world was his development of the JavaScript programming language, and after that he co-founded Mozilla – the company behind the Firefox browser best known for its privacy features.
Eich explains that certain countermeasures are required to prevent “hundreds to thousands of fraudulent users” from accepting grants from Brave’s  User Growth Pool (UGP) and forwarding it to fake content creators. The UGP is designed to grant users with BAT tokens who are encouraged to tip content creators and plant the seeds of the content monetization platform Brave ultimately intends to be.
As for “stealing” BAT, Eich refutes the claim, and clarifies that Brave can only clawback BAT tokens granted from the UGP that go unused – a user’s imported BAT cannot be accessed in any way. “We’re not going to hold a potential grant in limbo forever waiting for it to be used,” Eich explained. The firm makes this clear to users up front, and shows an expiration date on the unused funds. He also clears the air around his company’s access to BAT holdings rightfully owned by individual users. “The only person who can move BAT from a wallet is the person who has that wallet’s key. If we’re talking about BAT that you own, Brave doesn’t have the key,” Eich said in an interview. “There’s nothing we can do to touch your BAT. BAT in a wallet you control cannot be ‘confiscated.’ KYC has nothing to do with this fact, and in any event, user-provided wallet KYC is not yet implemented.”
Related Reading: Basic Attention Token Nosedives 20% Amidst SEC Crackdown Concerns
BAT has been a hot topic amongst the cryptocurrency community as of late, as the utility token was recently listed on Coinbase and saw rapid price gains that eventually turned into losses as concerns mounted around ERC20 tokens like BAT. Last month the operator of decentralized ERC20 trading platform EtherDelta was charged with operating an unregistered securities exchange. Fears over ERC20 tokens being deemed a security by the Securities and Exchange Commission led to a sell off of the Ethereum-based token.
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DoJ Bitcoin Manipulation Probe Homes in on Tether and Bitfinex

Tether Burns Half a Billion USDT Coins in an Act of RedemptionAn ongoing criminal probe into potential Bitcoin price manipulation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice has begun to take a closer look at how Tether and crypto exchange Bitfinex may have played a role in Bitcoin’s parabolic rise in late December.
Bitcoin Manipulation Probe Sets Sights on Tether, Bitfinex
Back in May of this year, the United States Justice Department (DoJ) in collaboration with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) launched a criminal probe into whether or not crypto traders were manipulating the price of Bitcoin.
They were trying to determine where they were using tactics such as wash-trading and spoofing – a practice in which large orders are placed in an attempt to influence the direction of price movement, only to have the order “wall” pulled once its orders begin closing into it.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, investigators have homed in on the leading stablecoin by market share, Tether, and the popular margin-trading crypto exchange Bitfinex that it is closely tied to.
As many as three different sources “familiar with the matter” suggest that the probe evidence potentially points toward Tether and Bitfinex being used to illegally boost prices. Both Tether and Bitfinex share the same management team, which appears to be at the center of the investigation.
Research Suggests Tether Used as FOMO Fuel, Tether and Bitfinex Deny
Shortly after the DoJ launched its probe, academic researchers from the University of Texas released a scathing 66-page report claiming they had discovered data that suggested Tether was printed and used following “market downturns,” which resulted in “sizable increases in Bitcoin prices.”

“Less than 1% of hours with such heavy Tether transactions are associated with 50% of the meteoric rise in Bitcoin and 64% of other top cryptocurrencies,” the paper surmised.

Despite repeated questioning into the integrity of the businesses he oversees, Jean-Louis van der Velde, CEO of Tether Ltd., refutes all claims and asserts his business is legitimate.
Related Reading: Tether Burns Half a Billion USDT Coins in an Act of Redemption
Continued Controversy Surrounding Tether and Bitfinex
Controversy seems to follow Tether around at every turn. The company has long been under scrutiny that the stablecoin cryptocurrency isn’t tied 1-to-1 to a corresponding U.S. dollar as the company claims. Tether has released reports from third-party auditors confirming the Tethers supply is appropriately backed, but the cryptocurrency community remains skeptical.
Uncertainty surrounding Tether recently led to the price of Bitcoin becoming out of sync across cryptocurrency exchanges, depending on if the exchange offered a trading pair against BTC tied to Tether, or tied to USD. Exchanges that offered Tether saw Bitcoin prices trade at as much as a $1,000 premium at once point, as capital flowed out of Tether and into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin on the exchanges that offered the controversial stablecoin.
In the past year, Bitcoin has risen from around $6,000 to $20,000, only to this week break below $5,000 to a one-year low of $4,250. Tether is said to have been used to pump Bitcoin’s price, creating a parabolic rise and subsequent market crash.
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