Bitcoin news roundup, September 17, 2017
This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:
BTC-e’s new exchange platform is up and running: it’s called WEX
BTC-e, one of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges, had been taken down following the arrest of a Russian national in Greece. At the time, the man was believed to be an admin at the exchange, but soon a Bitcointalk account associated with the exchange started rolling out updates, and clarified that he wasn’t connected to the organization, and that the exchange still held 55% of user funds, despite its domain being seized by law enforcement. The exchange also claimed that it would reimburse the remaining 45% through a Bitfinex-like token, and that it would be back online in September.
As covered by DeepDotWeb, the exchange already started giving users their Bitcoin Cash tokens, and allowed them to update their security settings. Via Twitter, BTC-e now announced its new platform, WEX, the result of a months-long effort by the company to return service to its customers. According to CoinDesk, WEX is trying to differentiate itself from BTC-e by claiming that it’s unrelated to the company – despite migrating the exchange’s former users, it claims to have a different technical team. WEX also claims to not have received funds from BTC-e, and to abide by Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. For the next few days it is to operate in test mode, and users who transfer their balances over to it will receive bonus tokens.
— BTC-E (@btcecom) September 15, 2017
Alleged BTC-e admin claims innocence in new interview
As stated above, BTC-e was taken down and its domain was seized by authorities following the arrest of a Russian national in Greece. The man, named Alexander Vinnik, was allegedly a BTC-e operator, despite the exchange denying he ever worked there in the first place. Now, in an interview with Russia Today, Vinnik revealed that he doesn’t consider himself guilty and that he only found out what his charges were one month after his arrest. He stated:
- “I do not consider myself guilty … The fact that I worked for BTC-e and did my job, and it’s not justifiable to accuse me of it. I found out about the charge about a month after I was taken into custody. This was told to me by my Russian lawyer.”
Moreover, he pointed out that being a Russian citizen, he doesn’t understand why he would be extradited to the U.S. His wife, speaking to Russia Today, claimed that he is “wanted for his intellect.”
JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon stated that “Bitcoin is a fraud”
Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan’s CEO, recently called Bitcoin a “fraud” while speaking at a banking conference in New York, and added that he would fire any employee trading the cryptocurrency, as according to the banker it’s both “stupid” and against JP Morgan’s rules. Notably, according to CNBC, he stated:
- “It’s just not a real thing, eventually it will be closed.”
Moreover, Dimon compared it to the tulip bulb craze in the 17th century, one of the most well-known bubbles in history. The banker even stated that his words weren’t advice on what to do, and that the cryptocurrency could still surge in value before ultimately going down. He added that his daughter bought Bitcoin and, after the cryptocurrency’s price surged, she now “thinks she’s a genius.” Finally, he opined that Bitcoin’s purpose is to be used in impoverished economies such as that of Venezuela, or to be used by murderers or drug dealers.
China’s cryptocurrency exchanges received shutdown orders
According to various reports, China’s cryptocurrency exchanges received shutdown orders from authorities, as China proves last week’s rumors of the country shutting down Bitcoin exchanges were true. BTCChina, the longest-running Bitcoin exchange in the world, announced via Twitter it would suspend trading on September 30.
1/ BTCChina will completely shut down its exchange businesses on September 30th.
— BTCC (@YourBTCC) September 15, 2017
The announcement was followed by ViaBTC and Yunbi’s announcements that they would, too, shutter their platforms, with registrations, deposits, and trading pairs being closed on September 25, and their websites on September 30.
Later on, reports from Chinese financial website Caixin revealed that two other trading platforms, OKCoin and Huobi, will close their trading platforms by the end of October – these were given extra time reportedly due to their large number of users and the fact that neither had listed trading pairs of Initial Coin Offering (ICO) tokens. A lot of people believe that the Chinese government will establish a licensing process in the future.
Report claims North Korea is targeting the South’s Bitcoin exchanges
U.S.-based cybersecurity firm FireEye’s senior researcher Luke McNamara recently published a blog post in which he claims the firm recently observed North Korean actors target South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, in an attempt to steal funds. The report states that North Korea’s actors launched phishing attempts against exchange employees, using tax-themed lures, and deploying malware linked to North Korean actors who used it to attack global banks in 2016. The attack’s goal, per the report, is presumably to fund the North Korean regime. It states:
- “With North Korea’s tight control of its military and intelligence capabilities, it is likely that this activity was carried out to fund the state or personal coffers of Pyongyang’s elite”
Russian Minister claims cryptocurrencies are “impossible to ignore”
A Russian minister, Mikhail Abyzov, recently spoke against the idea of cryptocurrencies being banned, and instead stated that the technology is “impossible to ignore,” meaning that he believes a decision regarding cryptocurrencies will soon be made, even if by necessity due to the technology’s growth, according to Russian news source RIA. Notably, Abyzov stated that it was necessary to move from a policy of denial to a more thoughtful approach. He said:
- “It is necessary to move from a policy of denial and prohibition to a very accurate, thoughtful state regulation of the turnover of crypto-currencies. I think we should officially recognize them as a financial tool and properly handle it carefully so that excessive pressure does not destroy the technology itself.”
Bitcoin at $3,599.11 following China’s crackdown
China’s crackdown and Jamie Dimon’s words on Bitcoin, mentioned above, both led the number one cryptocurrency’s price below the $3,000 mark this week, before it recovered to $3,599.11 at press time, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The recovery was triggered once China announced that two of its exchanges, OKCoin and Huobi, had until October to shut down their operations. Bitcoin’s market cap is currently at $59.6 billion, and its dominance is at 48.6%.