The past week was tumultuous for bitcoin holders as the price of bitcoin temporarily collapsed to trade below the $3,000 mark for the first time in over a month. This correction was sparked after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon publicly declared bitcoin a fraud and when Chinese bitcoin exchanges BTCC, ViaBTC, and Yunbi announced their closures.
China was once considered the largest market for bitcoin trading but has lost market share in 2017 when Korea and Japan started to take larger shares in trading volumes due to favorable regulations in these countries. Nonetheless, the closure of Chinese bitcoin exchanges led to crypto traders, especially in China, dumping their bitcoins in fear of a more severe price collapse. Altcoins also took a hit with several China-related coins taking a deep dive.
Jamie Dimon’s comments that bitcoin is a fraud and “not a real thing” did not help the situation. His statements may have scared newbie investors, especially in the US, into selling their bitcoin holding to take profit before the price drops further.
Interestingly, while Jamie Dimon said he would fire any of his traders who dealt in bitcoin, a JPMorgan subsidiary actually purchased 19,102 shares in the regulated Swedish Nasdaq traded bitcoin ETN (exchange-traded note), which is the equivalent of around 95 bitcoins, worth around $500,000 shortly after Dimon made his comments. Whether the bank bought the bitcoin ETN for itself or on behalf of a client is unknown.
Regardless of the bad news coming out of China and the noise coming out of the US, the price of bitcoin quickly recovered by over $700 of its intra-month lows to currently trade at around $3,500. While that may seen quite far away from its recent all-time high of $5,000, the reality is that bitcoin was trading at “only” $2,000 two months ago.
If anything, the fact that the Chinese exchange closures did not cause a steeper price drop shows how mature bitcoin has become as an asset class and that the regulatory volatile country China no longer plays such an important role regarding the price of bitcoin. This is good news for bitcoin holders who want steady long-term price growth.
This week’s review is compiled from contributions by Alex Lielacher, Liam Kelly, and Jamie Holmes.
The lack of options when it comes to wallets may be off putting for newcomers to monero (XMR), but this is about to change, with light wallets reaching their final stages and Ledger will give users the chance to store XMR in a hardware wallet.
On September 2, the bounty for a light wallet meeting various conditions was claimed by the creator of the Android wallet, Monerujo. On September 5, a developer from the hardware wallet company Ledger announced that monero integration had begun. Two months ago, Ledger laid the foundation for the adoption of monero for their Nano S and Blue devices. An alpha version is expected by the end of September. Furthermore, on October 8, following the Hackers Congress (HCPP17) in Prague, Justin Smith, the CEO of XMR Systems LLC will unveil an iOS wallet.
One of the largest exchanges in China is voluntarily closing its operations. BTCChina announced on September 14 that it will stop all trading on September 30 as regulators are reportedly planning to stop fiat to bitcoin trades in the country. BTC-USD has suffered another sharp drop, hitting a fresh low at $3426.92, with the price regaining the $3500 handle at the time of writing.
BTCChina previously listed ICO-coin, a token for the specific purpose of raising funds for ICO projects, and China’s recent move to ban initial coin offerings may play a part.
It is no secret that North Korea has been deeply engaged in cyber espionage for Nation State purposes.
Since attracting the attention of a myriad cyber-security firms, North Korean hackers are now turning to stealing bitcoin and other virtual currencies. FireEye, another security firm, recently reported that “since May 2017, we have observed North Korean actors target at least three South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges with the suspected intent of stealing funds.” Specifically, malware disguised as tax information has been used to target personal email accounts of a number of workers at the cryptocurrency exchanges. Both pieces of malware, PEACHPIT and HANGMAN, have been linked to the same cyber-hackers responsible for the global bank attacks in 2016.
The reason behind North Korea’s growing interest in cryptocurrency is two-fold. The growing market price of the currency is the most important; bitcoin has shown a near 400 percent increase in value in this year alone. Secondly, on April 26, 2017, the Trump administration placed strict economic sanctions on the country in attempts to, “to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs.” The anonymity behind cryptocurrencies also makes them a convenient medium for conducting similar cyber crimes more efficiently.
According to a blog post by Neha Narula, Director of the Digital Currency Initiate at MIT Media Labs, the researchers analyzed the repositories of the IOTA Ledger on GitHub and were able to discover a serious vulnerability in the project’s cryptographic hash function called Curl.
IOTA’s proprietary hash function, Curl, created collisions when different inputs hash to the same output. The team of researchers developed an attack that could discover collisions using commodity hardware within minutes and allowed them to forge signatures on ITOA payments, which malicious hackers could have potentially stolen funds from IOTA users.
As the MIT/Boston University researchers are not black hat hackers out looking to gain or destroy something, however, they responsibly informed the IOTA development team of the vulnerability back in August. The exploit was made public around a month later, on September 7, 2017, and “recommended that they replace the Curl hash function with a recognized and publicly vetted hash function” to reduce the risk of another vulnerability appearing.