Hackers: Death is complicated enough in the cryptosphere when a private investor dies with the private keys to their fortune. But the pain is amplified exponentially should the deceased be the CEO of a digital currency exchange responsible for the safekeeping of millions of dollars. The death of Gerald Cotten, founder and chief executive officer of crypto exchange Quadrigacx, has led to the loss of CAD $190 million (~ U.S. $145 million) stashed in the platform’s cold storage wallets. Canadian exchange Quadrigacx this week filed for protection from creditors in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, claiming to have failed to locate or access the money since the death of Cotten on December 9th.
After stealing $5 million in cryptocurrency from 40 victims through SIM swapping, 20-year-old Joel Ortiz, pleaded guilty to theft and accepted a plea deal of 10 years in prison as reported by Motherboard, on February 1st. Ortiz accepted the plea deal last week, according to Erin West, the Deputy District Attorney of Santa Clara County, California. He will officially be sentenced on March 14th. Authorities reportedly state that Ortiz is the first individual convicted of a crime for SIM swapping.
Bullish Key Players: According to Weiss Ratings, Bitcoin shares many resemblances with gold. Martin D. Weiss himself explains that Bitcoin has shown similar patterns to gold, with both making sharp U-turns called “pinpoint tops.” At lows, both assets form long bottoming patterns known as “rounded bottoms.” Gold hit its bottom in August of last year and has since begun a new 3-year cycle, expecting to reach five-year highs. “Bitcoin is not far behind. The charts tell us it’s currently still in a bear market, but improving fundamentals tell us a new bull market is in the making.”
Chief executive of Binance, Changpeng Zhao has also briefly touched on the prospect of an upcoming bull run. According to him, a bull run will happen “sooner or later.” He explained to CNBC’s Crypto Trader program that “even if I don’t know what will catalyze a Bitcoin bull run, I am certain it will happen… Sooner or later, something will trigger it.”
In December of last year, co-founder of BTCChina and YourBTCC Bobby Lee gave a general prediction of Bitcoin’s price movements over the next few years. In his opinion, January 2019 will see Bitcoin bottom out at around $2,500 which will set the stage for a bull run sometime in late 2020. He predicts that Bitcoin will peak at $333,000 in December 2021 before crashing again to $41,000 in January 2023.
Banks & Institutions: Tokensoft, a U.S.-based digital asset security platform, has announced the beta launch of its new Knox Wallet, a mobile-first, cold storage, self-custody system for enterprises. It is designed for issuers of asset-backed tokens for equity, debt, or real estate, and it can also hold multiple cryptocurrencies. The wallet is said to incorporate three levels of security: offline cold storage, role-based access control and cryptographic authentication. The developers expect that different types of companies will want the Knox Wallet, including exchanges that could use it to manage and administer assets trading on their platform.
Bxb Inc. has announced the launch of KRWb, a stablecoin backed by the South Korean won. This reportedly followed an initial capital deposit of 400 million Korean won ($360,000 USD) that has collateralized an equivalent volume of newly minted tokens. The issuers promise that each token generated will be matched with an equivalent fiat deposit stored in a bank, and that an independent auditor will perform regular checks on the KRW reserves to ensure that a minimum of 1:1 matching with KRWb liquidity is continuously maintained.
New York-based trading platform Gemini has announced it completed a SOC 2 Service Organizations Type 1 examination. Auditing firm Deloitte has performed an evaluation of Gemini’s security controls which were inspected to meet the criteria set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This reportedly included a review of the exchange application, infrastructure, and underlying customer database, as well as its cryptocurrency storage system. The company also promises to undergo a SOC 2 examination on an annual basis from now on.
Adoption: After the bearish 2018, 2019 is expected to be the year of crypto mass adoption worldwide. Not only that the crypto market is expected to recover, but cryptos are predicted to become much easier to hold and use this year. There have been a lot of moves in the crypto space that are made towards mainstream adoption. It also seems that the obstacles that are keeping mass adoption just around the corner are slowly but surely overcome. In Russia, a legal framework to validate cryptos is missing, but despite this, the country has been reported to have at least 52 operating Bitcoin ATM/Teller Machines. The latest data coming from the leading Bitcoin ATM tracking site, CoinATMRadar reports that Moscow holds the highest number of BATMs – nine of them.
The first retailers to accept Bitcoin as a payment method were Overstock, a major e-store for electronics. They have recently added over 40 altcoins to their roster of options. Electronics and computing retailer Newegg were quick to follow, as they introduced Bitcoin payment methods in 2014. Other established giants that accept cryptocurrency include Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Expedia and Cheap Air.
It is interesting to note that certain features afforded by cryptocurrency fits certain industries better than others. Casino and iGaming industries have also been quick to adopt, with casinos offering Bitcoin payments for use at their front desks, gift shops and restaurants. E-commerce companies can offer an international payment option without the usual hassles of cross-border transactions. Additionally, privacy coins have found increased adoption not just in illicit trade but also in transactions that require high levels of anonymity.