Crypto Lending Services Coming to Australian Markets

Despite the ongoing bear market of 2018 crypto startups are still entering the market with new and innovative products. Australians are about to get their first taste of crypto lending services as a new company launched into the markets this week.
Crypto Collateral Without Liquidation
Helio Lending is the first independent crypto lending company to launch on Australian shores according to reports. Founder and Managing Director, John O’Shea, said he was excited to be entering such an untapped market with a huge growth potential;
“Currently there are only two or three providers globally, and we are excited to offer such an exciting service acting as a direct lender, with a quick seamless process and exceptional customer service.”
The company claims to be in the position to offer 50% more spending power to clients than they would have by holding on to their crypto assets. O’Shea added “These assets may be held overseas or Australia, and we allow the funds to come back to AUS, USD, EUR and HKD to be used by our clients. We anticipate our clients will reinvest, buy goods and services and even start their own business through unlocking these assets.”
The principle of crypto lending allows holders of cryptocurrencies to access fiat funds without selling any of their digital assets. By using the blockchain to record transaction and settlement data removes counter party risk and provides immutability for clients that wish to use cryptocurrencies as collateral without liquidating them.
Helio will be working with approved digital currencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and XRP. Crypto wallet management and liquidity clearing will be provided by ETHlend which has become the Asia Pacific partner for the venture.
“We are excited by the opportunity to partner with Helio Lending and already have enquires streaming in from the regional Helio opportunity, it will be great to now have a local presence to service our clients,” added Stani Kulechov, chief executive and founder of ETHlend
Australia is still very open to crypto and reports indicate that cryptocurrency holdings within the country have tripled during 2018. The survey also revealed that 80% of respondents said they would be open to using crypto for daily purchases on the condition that it was as easy to use as AUD.
The good news for Helio is that crypto is gathering pace in Australia quicker than elsewhere. RealRenta is a good example with their cryptocurrency token, House Coin, due for launch in 2019. It aims to give everyday Australians a better and more affordable way to invest in property by tokenizing it.
 
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Australian Woman Arrested Over Theft of AU$450,000 Worth of XRP

A 23-year-old Australian woman has been arrested over the alleged theft of AU$450,000 worth of XRP tokens following a 10-month investigation.
More than 100,000 units of the token were stolen from an electronic account belonging to a 56-year-old man.
Australian Police Call for Multi-Factor Authentication to Add Protection Against Cryptocurrency Hackers
In mid-January 2018, the victim was locked out of his account for two days before discovering his balance was near zero. The account was allegedly hacked in the previous month.
Police in New South Wales executed a search warrant at a home in Epping at 8 a.m. on Thursday. The suspect was charged with knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime and was granted strict conditional bail, news.com.au reported.
She transferred over 100,000 XRP into an exchange based in China, which was later converted into Bitcoin. Multi-factor authentication is vital to keep a cryptocurrency account safe, according to Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis.
“An email account is more valuable than people realize — scammers are increasingly targeting emails as they link the individual to financial accounts and other personal information. There is often valuable information saved in sent items or the trash, and scammers will look for anything that will assist in taking over your identity or accessing your finances. This is the modern equivalent of digging through a household rubbish bin or stealing mail.”
Approximately AU$2.1 million worth of digital currency has been stolen from Australians in scams and ransoms last year, according to a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Investment scams topped the categories at AU$64 million with dating and romance-related scams following behind at AU$42 million.
“Scammers adapt each year and find ways to exploit popular trends, new platforms, new ways of communicating, fad products, changes to legislation, or new investment opportunities.”
Cryptocurrency-related scams represented 0.617 percent of the overall AU$340 million scam economy in 2017. Scamwatch received 33,000 reported impersonation scams where 2,800 people gave out personal information, which accounted for AU$4.7 million in losses.
Earlier in October, four people lost AU$50,000 to scammers after depositing funds into a Bitcoin ATM. According to Victoria Police, they were told they owed a tax debt and could be arrested if they failed to pay. Kath Anderson, assistant commissioner at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) called for caution.
“Cryptocurrency operates in a virtual world, and, once the scammers receive payment, it’s virtually impossible to get it back. Scammers are constantly adapting their methods to maximize their chances of picking your pocket. Unfortunately, it was inevitable that scammers would target cryptocurrency given its current popularity and anonymity.”
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Australian DTA Tells Senate There is Better Technology Than Blockchain

Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has told the Senate that there is better technology for every use of blockchain considered today.
The agency received AU$700,000 from the Australian 2018-19 Budget to explore blockchain for efficient government services purposes.
Australian Government to Launch Blockchain Applications
In May, the DTA was sent on a mission to look for use cases across the Commonwealth with an initial focus on the welfare payment delivery system. The ultimate goal is to conduct user research with a view to having a prototype by the end of 2019.
At the Senate hearing, Peter Alexander, DTA’s chief digital officer, recognized great potential in distributed ledger technologies but said they’re not ripe yet, ZDNet reported.
“Blockchain is an interesting technology that would well worth being observed but without standardization and a lot of work to come — for every use of blockchain you would consider today, there is a better technology — alternate databases, secure connections, standardized API engagement,” he said.
The Australian government is exploring use cases for blockchain in a number of divisions with DTA’s help. The Department of Home Affairs is studying the technology on freight monitoring and the use of smart contracts for duties and tariffs.
The Treasury Department, including the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australia Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) are exploring settlements and payments with blockchain. IP Australia is conducting a trial to handle food provenance.
Alexander told the Senate how the welfare payment delivery system would work using blockchain. The prototype is expected to be ready by the end of next financial year.
“When someone might receive a welfare payment or a balance … where someone would be allocated a certain amount of money, and be able to access that for various purposes — used for some purposes, not used for others — the smart contract, the programmable currency, can release that fund for a particular purchase, and say no for another without having an intervention,” he added.
The DTA is set to begin rolling out digital identity pilots, which will allow acquiring government-issued digital identities and a Tax File Number online. The program is designed to reduce month-long analog processes to 30-minute digital tasks and make it easier for end users to deal with public affairs.
DTA’s chief digital officer said the Australian government is as advanced in blockchain maturity as other progressive governments and added that vendors are the ones creating the hype.
“I think it would be fair to say a lot of big vendors, and technology vendors, are pushing blockchain very hard, they see sales opportunity in it. So internationally, most of the hype around it is from vendors and companies, not from governments, or users and deliverers of services who are saying ‘blockchain is the solution to our problem.’”
Non-corporate Commonwealth entities spent a total of AU$1.2 billion on IT and digital initiatives in 2017-18, according to the DTA’s annual report.
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Crypto Hedge Funds Launching at Record Rate while Traditional Funds Slowdown: Research

Crypto hedge funds are launching at a fast pace and are further expected to rise despite the crypto market being a bear one defying the notion of the traditional market. Though crypto hedge funds rise is a “global phenomenon”, the US is leading the race with more than half of these funds.
Crypto hedge funds defies the traditional market notion
According to the latest report by Crypto Fund Research, about 90 crypto hedge fund has been launched in the first three quarters of this year. Now, this number is on track to reach 120 for this fiscal year.
This fact defies the traditional notion that hedge funds tend to launch in bull markets as 2018 has been a bear market for the cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), among others are down more than 60 percent TYD 2018. Additionally, crypto hedge funds primarily invest in cryptos like Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP.
Joshua Gnaizda, the founder of Crypto Fund Research stated about this rise in the crypto hedge funds:
“In the midst of 2018’s decline in traditional hedge fund launches, crypto hedge funds are a notable aberration. Cryptocurrency prices have been in a bear market for the better part of the year and regulatory uncertainty persists in much of the world. Yet these seemingly unfavorable market conditions have not deterred managers from launching new crypto hedge funds at a record pace. While we don’t believe the rate of new launches is sustainable longer-term, there are currently few signs of a significant slowdown.”
Crypto hedge funds to surging further
As per the Hedge Fund Research, about 600 hedge funds are expected to launch in 2018 for both traditional and crypto market. Out of this, 20 percent i.e. 120 will be crypto hedge funds. In 2016, these funds accounted for less than 3 percent which surged in 2017 reaching 16 percent. Actually this year, “Two-thirds of all currently operational crypto funds have launched in the last seven quarters, through Q3 2018.”

The research further points out crypto hedge funds are one of the fastest growing hedge fund strategies now. But still, it makes up a small percentage of the overall industry in terms of assets under management and raw numbers.
“According to Crypto Fund Research, there are currently 303 crypto hedge funds. Crypto-focused hedge funds comprise just 3% of the more than 9,000 hedge funds currently in operation. Crypto hedge fund assets, at less than $4 billion, are also still quite meager. The global hedge fund industry, by comparison, manages more than $3 trillion.”
Currently, there are 622 crypto funds of all types. These crypto hedge funds involve “just under half of the broader class of crypto funds,” covering crypto venture capital and crypto private equity funds as well.
As for which country is seeing the most growth, the research notes half of the crypto hedge funds launched are from the US. However, the rise of the crypto fund is a “global phenomenon” as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, China, Australia, The Netherlands, and Malta also saw multiple crypto hedge funds this year.
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Scammers Use Cryptocurrency ATMs to Target Potentially Vulnerable Victims

Australian police have been informed of a scam in which the perpetrators are requesting people deposit funds for them at cryptocurrency ATMs. It is thought that those behind the scam are targeting newly-arrived migrants who are unsure if such requests are genuine since they are navigating an entirely foreign system of taxation for the first time.
Elaborate Cryptocurrency Scam Generates Tens of Thousands of Dollars
According to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper, there have been four victims of the Australian crypto ATM scam to date. All of those defrauded out of funds were based in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
The scam itself involves those behind it contacting potential victims with a request for outstanding taxes. It states that these must be paid directly into one of the city’s cryptocurrency ATM machines and sent to an unknown address.
Police investigating the scam have reason to believe that those behind it are targeting newly-arrived economic migrants. This demographic is much more likely to be compliant with such a request since refusal to adhere to similar, legitimate requests could negatively impact on the immigration process.
As strangers in a foreign land, the victims are also much less likely to question correspondence supposedly from the government, since they have no yardstick to compare above board requests from authorities to fraudulent ones.
The victims were under the impression that they would be detained if they did not comply to requests for deposits at the crypto ATM in Braybrook, Melbourne. This scaremongering tactic is reported to have netted the scammers an undisclosed five-figure sum.
The Daily Mail also reports on a second variation of the same scam. This time, those behind it tell victims that they have been alerted to a debt of outstanding taxes by the federal police or private accountants.
Katherine Lehpamer, a local police representative, said of the scam:
“Anyone getting a call along these lines should make inquiries with the relevant authority before paying any money… We believe there are a number of victims who may be here on visas or not aware that authorities would never tell them to deposit money into an ATM.”
Scams involving cryptocurrency are nothing new. They come in literally all different guises. Some involve the promotion of fraudulent companies, others are orchestrated by vast armies of Twitter-based robots. Most of these rely on the victims’ own greed being their downfall.
The Australian ATM scam is particularly devious, however, since it plays on newly-arrived migrants’ fears of being returned to the land which they have often worked incredibly hard to escape. Since they will have every intention of doing things by the book in their new home, they are much more likely to fall victim to such a scheme.
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Couple Charged with Money Laundering, NSW Police Call Crypto a Challenge

The New South Wales Police Force have placed two Sydney residents in custody after they allegedly attempted to launder $300,000 in cash that was suspected to be involved in a string of crimes, by converting them into crypto.
Criminal Crypto Converting Couple Charged
NSW Police Cybercrime Squad detectives arrested an unidentified male, age 32, and an unnamed female, age 29, at their Wiley Park residence, over money laundering charges. The pair were also charged with alleged ID fraud.
Detectives say the cybercrime duo had started up 45 different companies and opened a number of bank accounts to receive fiat deposits. The deposits were related to “purchases being made online using stolen and fraudulently obtained credit card information,” NSW Police explained, reports itnews.
According to the investigation – dubbed Strike Force Breabank – the two suspects would then move the fiat into cryptocurrencies that were later sent to offshore cryptocurrency wallets. Criminals often move funds into decentralized cryptocurrencies due to their difficult to trace, pseudo-anonymous design. Another practice involves moving the crypto into other types of cryptocurrencies to further hide any trace of the origin of funds.
“Police will further allege in court more than $300,000 was transferred to digital currency and distributed into cryptocurrency accounts offshore,” the police said in a statement.
During the search of the perpetrators home, New South Wales police seized everything from laptops and personal computers, to external hard drives, mobile phones, and even documentation that may be used as evidence in court against the suspects.
Police said they were checking on the couple’s immigration status, which could be why the unnamed man was refused bail, and is set to appear in court on Friday, September 28. The female accomplice, however, was granted “strict conditional bail” and will appear in Burwood Local Court later in October.
Australian Authorities Call Crypto a “Significant Challenge”
Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, Commander of the New South Wales Cybercrime Squad, called cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum “a significant challenge for law enforcement both here and abroad,” in reference to cryptocurrencies being used for money laundering and other cybercrimes.
“The semi-anonymous and decentralised nature of many cryptocurrencies make it desirable for criminal activity, particularly for those groups who are operating offshore,” Katsoginannis explained.
Katsoginannis continued, suggesting he and his team have an edge in monitoring and investigating illicit transactions thanks to cryptocurrency exchanges in the region falling under the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).
“The sharing of financial intelligence and information of all currencies can only help to minimise the risk of criminal groups conducting ‘business’ without detection,” Katsoginannis said.
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Report: Australian’s Cryptocurrency Holdings Triple in 2018 Despite Bear Market

According to a recently conducted survey, the number of Australians who own cryptocurrency has nearly tripled in 2018 alone, signaling that the current bear market is not an accurate signal of interest in cryptocurrency, which is growing at rapid rates.
The new report comes on the heels of Bitcoin plunging nearly $1,000 to its current price of just over $6,400.
The survey was conducted by Finder-backed brokerage firm HiveEx, who surveyed a total of 2,000 Australians, finding that of the sample group, cryptocurrency ownership totaled at 13.5% in August, as compared to 5% in January, reports News.com.au.
HiveEx also found that the reasons behind the growing cryptocurrency ownership vary, with 50% of the surveyed group holding crypto as an investment, 34% holding it because of “fear of missing out” (FOMO), and 26% using it to save for retirement. Notably, more than a third of Australians holding cryptocurrency mentioned that they were planning on paying their taxes using their cryptocurrency.
An important statistic found in the survey is that 80% of respondents said that they would be open to using crypto for their daily purchases on the condition that it was as easy to use as Australian Dollars.
The survey also found that the main reason behind some individuals not holding crypto is due to lack of knowledge. Of those who responded, 65% said that their lack of cryptocurrency ownership can be attributed to lack of understanding or difficulty in use or acquisition. Over 20% of those who don’t hold cryptocurrency also indicated that they believe it is a “scam,” and the same percentage of respondents thought it was a “bubble.”
Other Reports Coincide with Cryptocurrency Ownership Statistics
The HiveEx survey comes on the heels of a SharePost survey that also analyzed cryptocurrency interest and ownership, but on a more international scale. This survey also found that despite a persisting bear market, consumer interest in cryptocurrencies is at nearly an all-time-high.
This survey found that 59% of investors, and 79% of consumers, will be adding to their crypto portfolios over the course of 2018, coinciding closely with the statistics from the HiveEx survey. The report also found that non-crypto holding consumers are mainly interested in Bitcoin as their first crypto investment, while crypto investors are looking towards ETH and XRP as the greatest investment opportunities.
The report notably states that:
“Among cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has seen a surge in optimism over the past six months. 80 percent of investors and 64 percent of consumers believe Bitcoin offers the most potential for future success. However, enthusiasm for Ethereum decreased during the same period as companies increasingly use their own individual blockchains to launch tokens instead of Ethereum.”
The statistics coming from these reports signal that although the markets are sitting near their year-to-date lows, and sentiment from investors is overwhelmingly negative, the crypto markets are still in their infancy. Investors can find confidence in the fact that interest from “no-coiners” is nearing an all-time high, regardless of the current state of the markets.
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