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Current State of The Crypto Market (June 19th, 2019)

Hackers:  Russian hackers, may be the bad actors behind probably the biggest ever theft from a cryptocurrency exchange.  Reports Monday state that virus variants known to be linked to Russian hackers have been found on employee computers at the Tokyo-based Coincheck exchange.  Coincheck suffered a breach in January 2018 that resulted in the loss of 500 million NEM tokens worth around $530 million at the time – an amount even bigger than that lost by Mt. Gox.  According to the report, the malware found at the exchange had been emailed to employees and included types called Mokes and Netwire, which allow malicious distributors to gain access to victims’ machines and operate them remotely. Mokes apparently first appeared on a Russian bulletin board in 2011, while Netwire has been around for 12 years.  The Coincheck hack has previously been linked with North Korea. In a report last February, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said that phishing scams and other methods had yielded tens of billions of won in customer funds. The country’s authorities were said at the same time to be probing whether North Korea was behind the Coincheck attack.

Bullish Key Players:   Bitcoin developer Tamas Blummer offered the most damning assessment of the Libra protocol. He said Facebook is abusing its position to muscle into the blockchain world.  “Trying to buy leadership in a cutting edge technology is very expensive and likely futile. I am pretty certain that this will be a very expensive failure, but a great door opener for Bitcoin.”  Getting deeper into the blockchain itself, Blummer said the blockchain has more in common with Ethereum more than Bitcoin. It shares many of the same features as Ethereum such as sharding and a form of Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance. Indeed, it may even kill  Ripple, Blummer claimed. He goes on to say ”Libra resembles Ethereum more than Bitcoin. It contains all the features that make Ethereum garbage. account model, generic language, gas, on-chain scaling with sharding, some BFT consensus. In addition it has to implement all KCY and AML. A sure disaster in slow motion.”

Banks & Institutions:  Fnality International is building the missing link in the banking blockchain.  Formerly known as Utility Settlement Coin (USC), the newly rechristened U.K.-based project is developing blockchain versions of five major fiat currencies: the U.S. dollar, the Canadian dollar, the British pound, the Japanese yen and the euro. Led by former Deutsche Bank executive Rhomaios Ram, the consortium boasts an ample budget, having just raised $63.2 million from 14 shareholder banks.  Bank and tech executives involved in Fnality shed some light on the previously secretive project’s plans – starting with the role these tokens, still referred to as USC, would play in the enterprise blockchain ecosystem and the wider financial world.  What’s the point of representing fiat currency, the very thing bitcoin sought to usurp, on a blockchain? According to Ram, it’s a means to an end, not an end in itself.  He pointed to the many private blockchain projects trying to tokenize wholesale markets, either at the proof of concept stage or close to production. All are lacking one thing: fiat currency on the ledger.

Adoption: Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, will adopt the country’s major crypto bill “On Digital Financial Assets” in the next two weeks, according to a local senior finance official. The news was reported by Russian government-backed news agency TASS on June 19.  Russia’s deputy finance minister, Alexei Moiseev, revealed that the State Duma is currently considering the DFA, and is expected to adopt the bill in the second reading within the next two weeks.  Moiseev added that the authority has approved separate legislation for initial coin offerings, which will be a part of Russia’s law on crowdfunding.  Russia will thus have two bills related to cryptocurrencies.

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