What Does China’s Full Ban of Cryptocurrency Exchanges Mean for Bitcoin? 29 1491

The rumors were true. China finally announced its full ban on cryptocurrency exchanges yesterday, causing catastrophic landslides in Bitcoin trading value. Hitting a new low on Monday February 5th, Bitcoin dropped below $7,000 for the first time since November 2017, losing approximately 60 percent of its value in just three months.

It wasn’t only Bitcoin that took a bashing, either. Ethereum and Ripple were also heavily affected and other cryptocurrencies as well, losing a collective total of $60 billion in just 24 hours. So, what does this mean for the future of Bitcoin, and could this be the start of the bursting bubble that so many analysts predicted?

China’s Ban on Bitcoin

You have to admit, it doesn’t look good on paper. While the threat of China banning digital currencies has long been looming overhead, the crackdown previously only applied to domestic cryptocurrency exchanges. But yesterday, the central bank announced its intention to block all cryptocurrency trading platforms, including the issuing of ICOs. Moreover, China’s infamous “great firewall” will block all cryptocurrency websites as well.

It’s still unclear whether India will follow suit, although the country’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley reported that the country aimed to “eliminate” usage of all digital currencies. With nothing certain as of yet, and lack of government action, a full ban is not anticipated any time soon. Moreover, India is currently a minor player in the cryptocurrency world. There are greater, more pressing threats to deal with.

The Banks

One of the issues that has repeatedly hampered the widespread adoption of Bitcoin is the sticky matter of regulation. The success of the digital currency is largely tied into the banks’ reaction to it, and now they have dealt Bitcoin a further blow by starting to restrict the use of their services for buying cryptocurrencies.

Lloyds Banking Group, a major UK lender, said on Monday that people would no longer be able to buy cryptocurrencies with their credit cards. This announcement comes on the back of US banks, J.P Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America, who implemented the same policy the week before.

Tether

With all eyes on Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, cryptocurrency, Tether, may have fallen under the radar, but it’s a silent and potentially deadly threat. What’s so special about Tether? Tether tokens are tied to the dollar, with one token equalling one dollar. And the largest exchange in the world, Bitfinex, has been steadily increasing supplies of Tether in the last few months.

But with the 1:1 ratio, Bitfinex has been accused of not having enough reserves of dollars to issue Tether tokens. Moreover, because of Tether’s dollar value, the price of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could have been inflated, as investors have been buying with Tether and not with actual US dollars. What does all this mean? If the accusations are true and Bitfinex doesn’t have the dollar reserve to support the amount of Tether tokens in existence, things could get pretty ugly.

Is There Any Hope For Bitcoin on The Horizon?

That depends what angle you examine it from. There are still some analysts positive about the ailing cryptocurrency future. Wall Street’s Tom Lee, the only major strategist to issue Bitcoin price targets, commented that this major low for Bitcoin represents the biggest buying opportunity of this year. He further issued a report maintaining his target price of $25,000 for Bitcoin.

Saxo Bank analyst, known for predicting the crypto rally at the start of 2017, Kay Van-Petersen also told CNBC that he believed Bitcoin could still hit between $50,000 and $100,000 this year.

Whether these figures are to be believed or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. Crypto investors and ICOs will be biting their nails around the globe as the roller coaster gets set for further intense highs and lows.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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South Korea to Launch K-Voting: Elections by Blockchain 4 2339

South Korean officials are developing a blockchain based voting system, scheduled for completion by the end of the year. Naturally, it’s called K-Voting.

An election watchdog called the National Election Commission, along with the Ministry of Science and ICT, started developing the system in June in pursuit of a more reliable and secure online voting system. The ministry hopes the transparency of the blockchain will prevent any tampering with election results, because anyone, including the candidates, can see the data and vet the results themselves.

The launch will begin by testing the system with lower-stakes trial runs, like surveys. After assessing the results of the trial runs, the ministry and the NEC will launch the full version of K-voting, which will use the blockchain throughout the entire voting process, from voter authentication all the way through tallying election results.

“We expect the blockchain-based voting system to enhance reliability of voting,” said ministry official Kim Jeong-won. “The ministry will continue to support the application of blockchain technology to actively utilize it in areas that require reliability.”

It’s Not Korea’s First Dance With Blockchain Voting

This isn’t the first time South Korea has used blockchain for voting. Last March, citizens used a voting platform developed by Blocko to decide how to prioritize community projects in the local budget. The blockchain election took place in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea’s most populous province, which surrounds Seoul and is home to many federally administrative buildings including the Ministry of Science and ICT headquarters. With 9,000 participants, the vote was smaller in scale than what the ministry hopes to implement now. But the success of the project boosted confidence in the potential of the distributed ledger for regulating and securing online elections.

“Blockchains will change the world within a few years just as smart-phones did,” Gyeonggi-do Governor Nam Kyung-Pil said at the time. “We can complement the limits of representative democracy with some direct democracy systems by using blockchains, the technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“Numerous institutions have contacted us to adopt a blockchain-based voting system after the voting in Gyeonggi-do,” said Blocko CEO Won-Beom Kim following the success of the project. “By using a blockchain technology in online voting, we can save expenses required to maintain a central management agency and time to collect vote results.”

Blockchain Voting in West Virginia

For this year’s midterm elections in the US, West Virginia introduced a blockchain-based app to replace absentee ballots. The app was specifically geared towards West Virginia residents serving overseas in the military.

Around 144 West Virginians in 30 different countries apped in their votes on the platform, which was developed by Boston-based startup Voatz. West Virginia reported the experiment as a success. “This is a first-in-the-nation project that allowed uniformed services members and overseas citizens to use a mobile application to cast a ballot secured by blockchain technology,” West Virginia Secretary of State Andrew “Mac” Warner said following the midterms.

Despite the professed success, Warner’s Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Queen told the Washington Post they have no plans to expand the project, and “will never advocate that this is a solution for mainstream voting.”

The Precedents Are Set for ‘Direct Democracy’

But West Virginia has set a precedent, and now blockchain voting has a foot in the door Stateside. A bolder election-by-blockchain enterprise like South Korea’s K-Voting could inspire change in the States where election reform is desperately needed. If K-Voting takes hold, it could change the face of democracy worldwide.

Freelance Terrorist Carried Out Hundreds of Bomb Threats in Exchange For Bitcoin 45 7066

An American-Israeli teen is sentenced to a decade in prison after a Tel Aviv court convicted him for a series of fake bomb threats he carried out in exchange for Bitcoin.

The 19 year old began making threats professionally at the age of 16. He is convicted only for crimes committed while over the age of 18. These include making false threats and reports, extortion, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

While the Israeli courts withheld the defendant’s identity because some of his alleged crimes occurred while he was a minor, the Guardian identified him as Michael Kadar at the time of his arrest. He was originally indicted for over 2,000 bomb threats, carried out between 2015 and 2017.

Kadar Targeted Children and Jewish Community Centers

The targets of Kadar’s threats included Jewish community centers, the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, elementary schools, shopping centers, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, airports and airlines.

A threat to an El-Al flight resulted in the deployment of fighter jets for an escorted emergency landing; another threat to a Canadian airport left six people injured during emergency disembarkment; a Virgin flight dumped eight tons of fuel before landing because of a threat; and another threat went to a plane carrying the Boston Celtics.

Kadar also targeted Republican Delaware state senator Ernesto Lopez, who he threatened with blackmail and the murder of his daughter. After Lopez ignored the demands, Kadar ordered drugs to have sent to Lopez’s residence.

Dealing Terror From Mom and Dad’s Apartment

His reign of terror operated from his parent’s fifth floor apartment near the beach in a posh neighborhood in Ashkelon, about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv. But his threats landed in over a dozen countries, including Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, Belgium, Australia, Norway, Argentina, Israel, the United States, and Canada.

“One can easily imagine the terror, the fear and the horror that gripped the airplane passengers who were forced to make an emergency landing, some of whom were injured while evacuating the plane,” read the verdict by judge Zvi Gurfinkel, “and the terrified panic caused when there was a need to evacuate pupils from schools because of fake bomb threats.”

The Judge also divulged Kadar’s fees for his services: $40 for a threatening phone call to a private residence, $80 for a bomb threat to a school, and $500 for an airplane scare. Kadar operated on the dark net and disguised his IP address, using a powerful self-installed antenna to tap into remote networks, and software to mask his voice. According to an indictment filed against him in Florida, he spent some of his calls going into graphic detail threatening the deaths of children in American Jewish centers.

A Small Fortune in Bitcoins

At the time of his arrest, Kadar had amassed around 184 Bitcoins for such services—about half a million dollars at the time, and closer to $680,000 today. He also dealt in bomb making manuals, drugs, and child pornography.

Kadar is the son of an American mother, and his father is an Israeli engineer, and has dual citizenship. The US Department of Justice has also indicted Kadar for 32 crimes, including hate crimes, cyberstalking, giving false information to the police, and making threatening phone calls to around 200 institutions. A separate indictment also accuses Kadar of threatening the children of a former CIA and Pentagon official with kidnapping and murder, and links him to over 245 threatening calls.

When Kadar was arrested, he tried to escape by grabbing a pistol from a police officer, but was wrestled to the ground. Thursday’s conviction follows a cooperative investigation by the FBI and Israeli authorities, who have not been able to recover Kadar’s Bitcoins.

Teen’s Mother Calls Conviction ‘Cruel’

Kadar’s mother spoke outside the courtroom after her son’s sentencing, saying “This is the most cruel, cruel thing in the world. I’m very sorry, but I am ashamed that the country acts this way.” She insisted that her son needed treatment, not prison.

In an earlier interview she told Israeli TV her sun was suffering from a brain tumor, which made school difficult for him. Because of this and his autism, Kadar was homeschooled.

Defense lawyer Shira Nir said these conditions made Kadar unfit to stand trial, as he could not distinguish right from wrong. A medical panel confirmed the defendant’s autistic condition, but concluded he was capable of understanding the consequences of his actions. Judge Gurfinkel said Kadar’s conditions were taken into account, lessening the sentence from 17 years in prison to 10.

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