This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:
Bitcoin.org states it’ll denounce SegWit2x supporting companies
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This week, Bitcoin.org published a blog post in which it states that it will publicly denounce via a banner on their website companies that support the SegWit2x hard fork, and that are going to default to the Segwit2x (S2X) chain, putting users at risk. In order not to denounce a company, Bitcoin.org demands that said company doesn’t list SegWit2x chain tokens as “BTC” or “Bitcoin”, and that it doesn’t do anything to “deprive users of their Bitcoins,” which also means that selling Bitcoins and crediting users with S2X tokens isn’t acceptable. The blog post goes on to list 50 companies that will be denounced by name, unless they start to comply with its demands. Among these companies are some of the cryptocurrency ecosystem’s most prominent, including BitPay, Xapo, Coinbase, and ShapeShift.
In response, SegWit2x supporters showed they weren’t pleased with Bitcoin.org’s decision, and BTC1 developer Jeff Garzik called the move part of Bitcoin.org’s “Culture of Reprisals.” ShaeShift CEO Erik Voorhees also showed he wasn’t happy with the move, stating:
- “Using Bitcoin.org for political positions… not a good precedent. Don’t people here often condemn Roger for using Bitcoin.com in the same way?”
CFTC is investigating Coinbase’s Ethereum flash crash
Earlier this year, Ethereum prices plunged on Coinbase’s Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX) for a fraction of a second, from over $300 to only $0.10 before quickly recovering. The flash crash was triggered by a multimillion-dollar sell order, which then triggered margin positions and led to the flash crash. Now, sources indicate that the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is unofficially investigating the crash in an attempt to find out more, including what role leverage and margin trading may have played in the crash. Although details of the actual letter the CFTC sent Coinbase are scarce, Coinbase revealed that it complies with regulations and fully cooperates with regulators, but that it is unaware of a formal investigation.
Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht drops claims to millions raised from his Bitcoins
Back in 2013, Silk Road was taken down, its operator Ross Ulbricht was arrested, and over 144,000 were Bitcoins confiscated during the crackdown. At the time, the U.S. government auctioned off the Bitcoins and sold them for over $48 million, but couldn’t claim the proceeds as Ulbricht challenged the legality of the forfeiture. This week, however, Ulbricht dropped his claims on the $48.2 million, effectively allowing the government to use the seized funds. Notably, however, had the U.S. sold the Bitcoins today instead of when it first confiscated them, the proceeds would be of about $600 million.
Alleged BTC-e admin to be extradited to the U.S.
Earlier this year 37-year-old Russian national Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece for allegedly laundering $4 billion worth of Bitcoin, including funds stolen from Mt. Gox. Vinnik reportedly committed these crimes while working at a popular Bitcoin exchange, BTC-e, although the exchange denies he ever worked there. According to reports, Vinnik then refused voluntary extradition to the U.S., as he was a Russian citizen and maintained that he should be tried by a Russian court. A three-judge panel recently ruled that the U.S. request to extradite the Russian national should be granted, and Vinnik is now expected to appeal the decision to the Greek Supreme Court.
A public Swiss university is now accepting Bitcoin as a payment method
According to an announcement, Switzerland’s Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is now accepting Bitcoin payments for student-related bills, through a partnership with Bitcoin Suisse AG. The university itself won’t be handling any Bitcoin, as the brokerage firm will exchange Bitcoin payments for Swiss francs. According to the university, Bitcoin Suisse AG will be the one to bear any losses caused by currency fluctuations.
According to CoinDesk, the move is perhaps unsurprising as the university had already shown interest in the technology, and is already involved in a number of blockchain initiatives. Other universities throughout the world, including King’s College New York, and the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, also accept Bitcoin as a payment method.
Singapore to regulate Bitcoin payments
Singapore’s minister for its central bank authority, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently stated that the institution is working on creating regulatory framework for Bitcoin and Ether payments. The minister confirmed it in a response to a question from an MP, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and while he admitted that the MAS has been monitoring and has no intention of regulating these cryptocurrencies, certain activities will require regulatory framework.
Shanmugaratnam revealed that only about 20 Singaporean retailers accept Bitcoin, and further explained in a statement that the MAS will produce targeted regulatory framework for ICOs, if deemed necessary. He stated:
- “Virtual currencies can go beyond being a means of payment, and evolve into “second generation” tokens representing benefits such as ownership in assets, like a share or bond certificate. These are financial activities that falls under MAS’ regulatory ambit.”
Bitcoin at $4,331.38 as a potential hard fork approaches
Next month, a possible hard fork may occur, as planned in the New York Agreement, although various users and companies oppose the hard fork. Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex, for example, has already listed the S2X token for trading. Despite the potential risks, Bitcoin’s price is seemingly bullish. At press time, one Bitcoin is trading at $4,331.38, and the cryptocurrency’s total market cap is at $71.9 billion, with its dominance at 48.9%.