This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:

New developments:

Goldman Sachs states cryptocurrencies are getting harder to ignore

According to Business Insider, Goldman Sachs analyst Robert D. Boroujerdi and his team sent a note to portfolio managers, stating that with a market cap of nearly $120 billion, it’s getting harder for institutional investors to ignore cryptocurrencies. Robert and his team pointed out that major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have had major price rallies this year, and that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are also rising in popularity – over $1 billion has been raised through ICOs this year.

Nevertheless, Goldman Sachs did point out that the cryptocurrency market cap equals less than 2% of the value of all the mined gold in the world, and that the sector has a long tail, as there are over 800 cryptocurrencies out there and most don’t have a lot of value. Moreover, regulations in the space are still being figured out, and as such financial institutions have a hard time getting involved.

Hackers threaten release of 1.5 TB of HBO data if the network doesn’t pay a Bitcoin ransom

A hacker, or a group of hackers, calling themselves “Mr Smith” has recently released about 3-4 GB of sensitive HBO data, including the phone numbers of various Game of Thrones actors, emails, and scripts, and are now demanding a million-dollar Bitcoin ransom in order not to release the whole Game of Thrones series and further data. The demand came in a five-minute video letter sent to HBO chief executive officer Richard Plepler, and in it the hackers added that they have 1.5 TB of data – the equivalent of several TV series or millions of documents – and that they want six months “worth of salary in Bitcoin” not to release anything. The demand equals roughly $6 million, as the hackers claim to make between $12 million to $15 million per year blackmailing organizations.

BTC-e to return with a new name and refund users through a token

Downed exchange BTC-e is, according to the exchange’s Bitcointalk account, going to return with a new name and will even issue a token that it will use to refund users who lost their money after the exchange was taken down, fined for over $100 million, and had its domain seized. One of the exchange’s alleged operators – Alexander Vinnik – was arrested, despite the exchange stating that he never worked for BTC-e. The exchange further revealed that it managed to “gain control of 55% of the funds”, as the rest was confiscated by authorities.

According to BTC-e’s spokesperson, the BTC-e brand needs to be abandoned because of “unresolved issues from the Financial Crimes of the US Treasury.” He added that it is working with an unnamed group of investors to help revive the site. The new token, dubbed “BTE” will be issued to users, and the exchange will be buying it back from the market – just like Bitfinex did when it was hacked.

Wikileaks started accepting Zcash donations

After accepting Bitcoin and Litecoin donations, Wikileaks recently announced through a tweet that it now accepts Zcash as well. Earlier this month, Wikileaks tweeted a poll in which Zcash, Monero, and Ethereum were included for donations and, out of the 12,204 votes, 21% were to Monero, 45% to Ethereum, and only 11% to Zcash (23% opted with “other”). Despite the results, Wikileaks still added the privacy-centric cryptocurrency Zcash.

World affairs:

A South Korean shopping mall stopped merchants from mining Bitcoin

A South Korean shopping mall in Seoul reportedly stated that vendors aren’t allowed to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The move comes as a way to reduce electrical costs, and due to concerns a fire might start partly due to rising room temperatures. The mall, the Yongsan Electronics Market, also added that electrical costs would be applied to merchant bills. In a letter sent to a tenant, the mall’s management explained why mining Bitcoin isn’t allowed, it stated:

  • “When a mining machine is operated, a considerable amount of power is consumed. As a result, the electricity price increases sharply (due to the progressive tax) in the shopping districts, which increases the cost burden on all merchants.”

Ukraine to install 150 new Bitcoin ATMs

According to the Kyiv Post, 150 new Bitcoin ATMs will be installed in Ukraine this year, including 20 to 30 in the country’s capital, Kiev, by the end of the summer. This, according to Michael Chobanian, founder of the Kuna Cryptocurrency Exchange, and of the Kuna Bitcoin Agency. The move reportedly comes due to a request from one customer, and due to constant demand from Ukrainian entrepreneurs. Right now, there is only one Bitcoin ATM in Ukraine, and with these new machines people will be able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Ether, Waves, Golos, and Bitcoin.


Bitcoin at $3,767.57, as tensions between North Korea and the U.S. rise

As North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and U.S. President Donald Trump are escalating their war of words, and the potential of a nuclear attack increases, various investors are turning to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in order to hedge against potential consequences. If a war breaks out, Bitcoin won’t be affected by higher inflation or capital controls, for example. As such, Bitcoin’s value has been surging, as one Bitcoin is now worth $3,767.57, and the cryptocurrency’s total market cap is of $62.17 billion. Bitcoin’s dominance is at 46.9%.

Bitcoin cash at $332.29, after recovering from a $216 low

Bitcoin Cash (BCH), the cryptocurrency that was created from Bitcoin’s hard fork, is currently at $332.29 per token, with a market cap of $5.47 billion. It is currently the fourth biggest cryptocurrency, and has been gaining value after hitting a $216 low. Its value presumably went down after various Bitcoin users started selling their Bitcoin Cash tokens as soon as they were able to.

Ethereum at $311.24, as it benefits from being a safe haven

According to the South China Morning Post, both Bitcoin and Ethereum are being used as safe havens from the North Korea – United States crisis. This has helped Ethereum’s value go up, as according to data from CoinMarketCap the cryptocurrency’s Ether token is currently at $311.24, and its market cap is at $29.25 billion.

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