Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: Report

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: Report

According to the head of Iran’s Blockchain Association, over 500 BTC belonging to Iranians were confiscated by the U.S. government last year, and the number is still rising. He explains that Iranians are unable to take action through proper channels from within their country due to Iran’s legal status of cryptocurrency.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Iranians’ 500 BTC Seized by US Government

Sepehr Mohammadi, the president of Iran’s Blockchain Association, told Ibena news outlet last week:

Last year, a remarkable volume of bitcoins which belonged to some Iranians were confiscated for unspecific reasons by the federal government of the United States, and the process of confiscation is still continuing.

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: ReportHe admitted that the exact number of confiscated BTC “is not clear, but it is expected to be over 500 bitcoins, worth approximately 25 billion tomans ($5.77 million)” at the time, the publication quoted him.

“Some people believe that this confiscation is because bitcoin owners were circumventing U.S. sanctions,” Mohammadi added.

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: ReportRecently, news.Bitcoin.com reported that the government of Iran is considering using cryptocurrencies to evade long-held U.S. economic sanctions. Mohammad Reza Pour-Ebrahimi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Economic Commission, said in an interview with Mizan news agency on July 15 that digital currencies are among the major mechanisms that Iran can use to the evade the sanctions. He noted that the Iranian parliament will soon discuss this issue.

Legal Challenge

Mohammadi further explained to Ibena the challenges Iranian citizens face to recover their cryptocurrencies:

The owners of confiscated bitcoins are unable to take legal action against the U.S. inside Iran as cryptocurrencies are banned in the country. The association is looking to take international legal action, but they have not yet found a legal expert in anti-money laundering law who will handle the case.

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: Report
Central Bank of Iran.

In April, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) banned banks and financial institutions in the country from dealing with cryptocurrencies. The CBI claimed that “All cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals’ money.”

Nonetheless, Pour-Ebrahimi told Ibena in May that even though “few people in Iran are cryptocurrency users,” according to his data, “more than 2.5 billion dollars has been sent out of the country for buying digital currencies.”

What do you think of the US government seizing Iranians’ BTC? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Financial Tribune.

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AUDJPY analysis for week ahead – 23/07/2018

AUDJPY analysis for week ahead – 23/07/2018

My next pair on this weekly watchlist is AUDJPY             .

We have had 4 rejections of our monthly key level of resistance at 83.619. Following our most previous rejection, we saw a 100 pip sell off.

A minor pullback was experienced but more small bearish momentum and our weekly close and bearish engulfing candle suggests we have broken this bullish trend and we could experience a stronger presence of the bears in this pair in the upcoming weeks.

I anticipate targets of 80.86 in the upcoming weeks if we get a strong confirmation of a break in this bullish trend we have been previously trading in.

Crypto Week In Review: Sentiment Starts To Shift As Bitcoin Moves Up 15%

Sentiment regarding the cryptocurrency market took a large shift this past week, as Bitcoin rallied 15% due to a series of positive technical and fundamental indicators.

IBM To Use Stellar-Based Stablecoin For Faster Financial Payments

IBM, one of the largest technology firms in the world, has just announced that it will be exploring the utilization of a Stellar-based token for cross-border payments.  The token in question was created by asset management firm Stronghold and was fittingly named Stronghold USD, which is a stablecoin that is pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar.

Unlike other stablecoin projects like Tether, prospective Stronghold USD users will make a deposit to the Nevada-based Prime Trust bank, with Stronghold issuing tokens on a 1:1 ratio. Additionally, this project was created with institutions in mind, rather than consumers, making the aforementioned stablecoin a much better choice for IBM in comparison with something like Tether or TrueUSD.

Tammy Camp, the founder and CEO of Stronghold, explained the use cases of the token more in-depth, stating:

“The token allows folks to do payments, foreign exchange between companies in a very seamless and frictionless and more secure way. It enables people to be able to trade that token with other assets and other tokens as well.”

Despite The Bear Market, Greyscale Investments Sees An Influx of Institutional Capital

Grayscale Investments, a digital asset focused investment firm, recently revealed that it had received an influx of institutional investment and interest, despite market woes.

Grayscale, which is headed by cryptocurrency expert and long-time investor Barry Silbert, released a report that cited that it had received just around $250 million from investors, looking to invest into Greyscale’s array of investment products. Although this is an impressive figure by itself, Silbert noted that 56% of the aforementioned figure was generated from institutional investors, potentially noting that these firms see a good entry point at current prices.

Bithumb To Expand Into New Asian Markets

Bithumb, a popular Korean exchange, has announced that it has plans to expand into the Japanese and Thai markets within the upcoming months. The exchange is currently working on obtaining the required regulatory approval from the local governments, namely the Japanese Financial Services Agency and the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Thai Bithumb branch is the furthest in development, with its parent company creating a webpage for the platform, along with allocating 3 million Thai Baht (~$90,000 U.S.) to the newly-opened subsidiary.

It is expected for Bithumb Thai to launch by the end of October, while Bithumb Japan is expected to open its doors early next year, despite harsh regulation imposed by regulators. The exchange will not be any ordinary platform, with ZDNet Korea noting that Bithumb “plans to set up an exchange that supports the largest number of coins (cryptocurrencies) in Japan.”

Tom Lee And Barry Silbert Call For Bitcoin To Continue Upwards

CNBC’s “Fast Money” show hosted industry leaders Tom Lee and Barry Silbert this week, with the two stating that they hold positive sentiment regarding Bitcoin’s price.

Barry Silbert, who is a long-time cryptocurrency investor and the aforementioned founder of Grayscale Investments, expects an influx of institutional “dry powder,” or highly liquid assets, in the near future. Silbert also stated that the bears have “run out of energy,” and have no more Bitcoin to sell, therefore resulting in less selling pressure placed upon prices.

The Bitcoin proponent later pointed out that the criticisms placed upon the industry by regulatory bodies don’t hold any value, and come unwarranted. He said:

“So I started buying Bitcoin in 2012 when the price was ten dollars and I’ve gone through now two 80 percent corrections, and this was a 65 percent correction. It’s the same old criticisms… Its just (that) they’re uninformed because everybody on this desk, anyone who spends the time to look into what is this asset class, why is it important, why does it have so much potential comes out of it being a believer.”

Tom Lee, the head of research at market analysis firm Fundstrat, also pointed out that fundamentals and technical indicators are starting to turn bullish once again, expecting for the world’s foremost cryptocurrency to head upwards from here.

Crypto Experts Hold Bullish Price Predictions

Arthur Hayes, the co-founder and CEO of the BitMEX exchange, tripled-down on his $50,000 price prediction, while also making an appearance on the CNBC show that seems to cover cryptocurrencies each and every day. Despite stating that he believes the market hasn’t “seen the worst” yet, expecting for Bitcoin to bottom at $5,000, he is betting that the cryptocurrency market will return to a bullish state as we move into the second half of the year.

Hayes noted:

“I don’t actually think we’ve seen the worst. I would like to see us test $5,000 to really see if we put a bottom in. But come back in Q3, Q4, I think is when the party is going to start again.”

Bitcoin Holds Weekly Gains, As Altcoins Slightly Pullback 

On Tuesday, Bitcoin saw an astonishing run-up, easily surpassing the heavily contested resistance levels at $6,800 and $7,000. Altcoins quickly followed, with a majority of the cryptocurrency market posting ~8-9% gains on that day alone. Many attributed this run-up to a series of positive news that was released prior to the run-up, namely discussion regarding institutional involvement, with this variety of investment being held as the primary catalyst for the expected bull-run of 2018.

Additionally, as Tom Lee stated on CNBC, the technical indicators were starting to become more favorable as discerned by a variety of analysts.

Since then, many altcoins experienced a slight pullback, with Bitcoin’s market dominance rising from 43% to 45%. Bitcoin has continued to hold the gains it made earlier this week, with the cryptocurrency sitting at around $7,450.

It has become apparent that the sentiment surrounding the cryptocurrency market is starting to change, with an onslaught of positive news coming from all corners of the industry. Arthur Hayes put it best when he said:

“But come back in Q3, Q4, I think that is when the party is going to start again.”

Featured Image From Shutterstock

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Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in Cryptocurrency

Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in Cryptocurrency

Employees in Costa Rica can receive part of their salary in cryptocurrency and that wouldn’t be against the law. Certain provisions in the national legislation allow companies to pay their workers not only with fiat money but also with goods, and some legal experts believe cryptos can fit in this category. Besides, Costa Rican laws provide for the use of commonly accepted assets as means of payment.   

Also read: New BATM Supporting BTC, BCH Launches in Sofia

Cryptos in Costa Rica Can Be Goods, Assets, Quasi-Money

Workers in Costa Rica may soon start receiving a portion of their salary in cryptocurrency, local media reported. As far as Costa Rican law is concerned, there is no reason this cannot happen. The country’s legislation allows employers to partly remunerate their staff with goods that are not currency, as long as the legal minimum wage is paid in money. It also develops the concept of “quasi-money”, or any asset that can be used as a means of payment and has been widely accepted as such in the society.

Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in Cryptocurrency“This is a trend that could take hold in the country,” said Rolando Perlaza who is working at Nassar Abogados, a prominent law firm in Central America. “This type of payment would in no way replace traditional or liquid cash. It would rather become an incentive for the workers, who could decide if they accept these currencies as payment for their services,” the expert elaborated, quoted by the Costa Rican News. He also emphasized that in any case employees are protected by article 166 of the country’s Labor Code.

The publication notes that in October last year, the Central Bank of Costa Rica (CBCR) issued a directive which established that cryptocurrencies are outside the national banking system. The document also indicated that carrying out any type of commercial transactions with digital coins is a “limited option” in the country. Along with that, the central bank warned that those who use cryptocurrencies assume the associated financial risks.

Costa Rica’s Growing Crypto Sector

Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in CryptocurrencyDespite CBCR’s assessment, the local crypto sector has been developing steadily in recent years with a growing number of merchants and other businesses, including many hotels and companies from the tourism industry, accepting cryptocurrencies as a legitimate payment method. Costa Rica, which has remained relatively open towards business ventures in the crypto space, has also seen a number of bitcoin ATMs popping up in the capital San Jose and elsewhere.

According to the report, the Latin American country also offers favorable conditions for crypto mining thanks to its renewable sources. “Our Costa Rica-based crypto mining facility utilizes renewable energy options such as solar and wind. We think renewable energy has to be an essential part of any crypto related project. This green approach is good both for us and for the planet and makes the new business opportunities even better,” said Daniel Yépez, a local crypto entrepreneur. “Cryptocurrencies are here to stay and we are embracing the changes,” added Yépez whose company, SH Mining Technologies, specializes in providing cloud mining services.

Can cryptocurrencies be used as legal means of payment under the current legislation in your country? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Bancor Founder Discuss Hack, Says Crypto Community Need to Fight Thieves

The co-founder of the Bancor Network, which suffered a $13 million hack on July 9, has argued that the crypto industry needs to join forces in the war against cyber hackers and thieves. She also defended the network against the criticism of Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, who said Bancor is not truly decentralized.

Fight Against Crypto Thieves and Hackers

Co-Founder of Bancor, Galia Benartzi, has called on each crypto community to join together in order to cope with the increasing number of cyberhacks in the industry. In an interview with Max Keiser, she said that this is a “battle” against thieves and criminals who are advancing with their technology. She argued that the crypto communities are “stronger together.”

Benartzi said: “What we learned from this experience is there’s so much chaos that happens after an incident like this, where if all the parties were better coordinated, if there was a hotline, if we could share information more transparently, if we could be quicker about getting flagged accounts or flagged wallets to the exchanges so they could track those as well then we could all be better off.

RT host Max Keiser argued that, within the crypto space, there is a “huge fear of any kind of organized, centralized group at all.” He said there is a general view that organization of this degree is seen as bad as the industry has a big sense of individualism. However, Benartzi said that “We’re going to have to stick together” in order to fight against criminals.

She said:

“You don’t have to be either centralized or decentralized. You don’t have to be either black or white. You don’t have to be either on your own or together. We can develop third ways, we can develop better models for how we coordinate, how we collaborate and yet maintain with individual and organizational sovereignty. It’s not actually that hard to do, we just need to build a framework and follow that.”

Charlie Lee: Bancor is “Designed Poorly”

Benartzi responded to recent criticisms over whether or not the Bancor network is truly destabilized. She hit back at Charlie Lee who claimed the network offers a “false sense of decentralization” and is “designed poorly.” Benartzi replied that decentralization is something to be looked at on a spectrum and with many different parameters. She said that having a “centralized design mechanism does not make a network centralized.”

Benartzi said: “We just don’t believe that this is true. An exchange is centralized and decentralized on a number of various parameters. Do users own their own wallets and maintain custody over their funds at all time? In the Bancor liquidity network, absolutely yes. Even in a situation such as a breach we experienced last week, users were able to access their funds at any time, even during the breach.”

Charlie Lee on Bancor Network

Clarifying the extent of the hack, she said: “A criminal, a thief, a hacker was able to access one of the wallets owned by Bancor and to withdraw from there a significant amount of cryptocurrency. The initial amount was  somewhere around $23.5 million worth of tokens and shortly thereafter we were able to retrieve around $10 million worth of the BNT, the Bancor network token bringing the total to around $13 million worth of crypto.”

Featured Image From Shutterstock

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Some Crypto-Mining Operations Are Not What They Say They Are

Some Crypto-Mining Operations Are Not What They Say They Are

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining has become a very competitive industry, and the amount of processing power hashing away to mine these digital assets is truly amazing. However over the years since the inception of GPU and ASIC mining, essentially when home mining turned into an industry, the cryptocurrency mining space has been riddled with fraudulent operations and people pretending to be massive mining facilities when they don’t even own a single miner.

Also read: Altcoins Are Dying

Phony Crypto-Mining Rigs & Massive Facilities: The Tale of Mining Vaporware

If you know about cryptocurrencies then you surely have heard about mining and the mega-competitive industry that surrounds this process of minting new digital assets like bitcoin, litecoin, and ethereum. Between the BCH and BTC network alone, miners are processing an average hashrate of 45 exahashes per second. However, over the years there have been a lot of fraudulent individuals and operations within the mining industry claiming to be something their not.

Some Crypto-Mining Operations Are Not What They Say They Are
Just because someone shows a picture of a cryptocurrency mining facility or a new bitcoin mining rig that outperforms the competition doesn’t make it real.

We recently wrote about some sketchy blockchain projects that send cryptocurrency publications press releases, and these clown projects get front page articles even though their operations are pure vaporware. In the mining sector, there are some shady operations that profess they have a huge facility with thousands of SHA256 miners churning away at the bitcoin network, but there have been many instances where individuals have found these warehouses filled with miners don’t even exist. Some of these fraudsters have even used pictures of other people’s mining operations so they can make people believe they have a facility filled with ASIC miners.

GAW Miners and Hashlets

A few years ago a lot of people from the cryptocurrency community were scammed by the firm GAW Miners and its related companies. The founder of GAW Miners Joshua Garza started out as a simple mining hardware reseller, and suddenly claimed to own massive mining facilities and the company started a cloud-mining operation called “Hashlets.” There was one big problem, the operations were seemingly faked with photoshopped pictures, and his projects were bolstered by a mess of lies pushed by Garza and his associates. Of course due to these factors of fabrication, the company’s cloud-mining products called ‘Hashlets’ never paid out. The US Securities and Exchange Commission eventually charged Garza with fraud and running a Ponzi scheme.

Some Crypto-Mining Operations Are Not What They Say They Are
GAW Miners Josh Garza found guilty to fraud and Ponzi schemes involved with fake mining operations.

Hashocean’s Exit Scam

Another shady venture that started in 2014 was another cloud-mining operation called Hashocean. The Hashocean team for years claimed to have six super-large mining farms located all around the world, and for a year or so it became a very large business operation as far as contract sales were concerned. Then two years ago in July of 2016, the company abruptly halted all payouts and the site silently went offline. Hashocean was then accused of being an ‘exit scam.’ Moreover, even though the operation lasted two years according to Bitcoincloudmining.org, Hashocean had a horrible reputation for paying out, even when the site was alive and well. After the site went down so-called core members of the Hashocean team claimed they were ‘hacked’ and promised to allow withdrawals but nothing ever materialized.

Some Crypto-Mining Operations Are Not What They Say They Are
Hashocean team members said the domain had been hacked and sold, and it was beyond their control.

Fabricated Mining Rigs

Another prevalent scam is when people promote a new mining machine that supposedly outperforms every mining rig on the market, but the machine doesn’t really exist. Just like some legitimate mining manufacturers, scam machine sellers have a pre-order for their first batches of super-efficient miners. Back in May of 2017, news.Bitcoin.com caught three shady websites that were all interconnected selling fabricated mining devices. The machines did not exist, but the websites and the people behind them sure did, collecting a couple grand worth of BTC per miner for devices that will never ship out. Foxminers, UFO Miners and Minerslab all sold the same machines with different logos but the logos were photoshopped on older miners manufactured in the past like Zeus Miners.

Some Crypto-Mining Operations Are Not What They Say They Are
The Foxminers machine to the left is a phony machine and skeptics assumed it was a photoshopped Zeus miner.

‘The Largest Miners’

Even now pretend mining operations are still using the same old smoke and mirror tactics to make themselves look bigger than they are. For instance, to this day there are many sketchy press releases sent to cryptocurrency publications that consist of firms claiming to be the biggest data centers in Canada or the US. But there are never any pictures sent with these press announcements, and the locations of these facilities are never truly publicized, but yet these firms always claim to be the ‘largest mining facility in North America.’

If people can’t verify that these mining operations actually exist, and a press release claims to be the region’s largest crypto-mining facility by capacity, and publications print this garbage based on faith, then something is wrong. The cryptocurrency industry has a bunch of sketchy people, and some of them claim to be mining behemoths.

If one was to google, “the biggest bitcoin miners in North America,” the person would find there are many firms who claim to be the areas largest operations. Who is the largest mining operation in that region? — Is it Bitfury, Hut8, Gigawatt, Hashflare, Coinmint, and the many others who have claimed to be the biggest? Without true transparency, real-time documentation of the facilities, and actual witnesses it is likely some of the ‘biggest miners’ in North America and other regions around the world are all talk.

Some Crypto-Mining Operations Are Not What They Say They Are
Just because a mining company’s press release claims to have a 500-1000 petahash operation — That doesn’t make it true.

Photoshopped Facilities  

The moral of the story is when it comes to mining operations, if it can’t be proven it’s likely someone blowing smoke. A few years ago the financial publication Business Insider’s Rob Price got a tour of the Genesis Mining firm’s mine located in Iceland. Marco Streng, the Genesis co-founder, explained at the time that mining operations have a “major trust issue.” Streng tells Price back in June of 2016:

[Some miners] don’t ever even own their own mining facilities. They just take pictures from other companies, Photoshop them, then pretend they are theirs.

What do you think about miners pretending to be more than what they really are? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

Images via Shutterstock, Pixabay, Bitcointalk.org, and the Foxminers scam.

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