According to a new paper by University of Texas finance professor John Griffin, and graduate student Amin Shams, Bitcoin’s price may have been artificially inflated in its run-up last December to nearly $20,000 per coin.
It was just seven months ago that some of the internet’s most insufferable assholes told anyone that would listen about the newest force in the global currency market. It was a coin, made of digital 1’s and 0’s, that would disrupt the very idea of currency, a project so revolutionary that we’d all be rich, if only we had the resolve to “HODL.”
And some did. During Bitcoin’s most recent boom, millionaires were made — a handful of billionaires too.
Others bought at the peak of the hype cycle, mortgaging homes and other assets to get in early and ride the rocket to its next station, which was the “moon,” according to cryptocurrency types.
Instead, they saw the asset falter. First losing half of its value in January, before a brief rally breathed new hope into the market, only to painfully extract it in the following weeks.
Now, Bitcoin’s value sits at just $6,500, a nearly 70 percent decrease in value over that span. If this were a stock, this is the point at which shareholders might begin to consider liquidating assets.
But in cryptocurrency, nothing is what it seems.
According to Professor Griffin — who has a history of spotting fraud in financial markets — we were all victims in what could be a massive price manipulation scam.
Griffin looked at the flow of digital tokens entering and leaving one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitfinex, and identified several patterns that would suggest someone, or a group of people, had successfully propped up prices when they’d flattened at other exchanges.
To push up the price when it sagged elsewhere, someone or some people, at Bitfinex purchased Bitcoin using a secondary currency known as Tether. Tether was created, and sold, by the owners of Bitfinex. Tether’s creators claim the currency is backed by the US dollar, providing a hedge against volatility in cryptocurrency markets. Simply put, it allowed investors to offload Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) into Tether during wild price swings as a means to avoid substantial losses.
Professor Griffin and Mr. Shams examined the flow of Tether and determined that roughly half of Bitcoin’s price in 2017 could be traced to the hours immediately following its movement into other exchanges — typically during periods where cryptocurrencies were in decline. Coin prices at marketplaces that used Tether exceeded those of exchanges that did not, according to the researchers. The pattern ended earlier this year when Bitfinex stopped issuing new Tether.
Bitfinex executives have denied the exchange was involved in any manipulation. The company, told the New York Times today that it never engaged in “any sort” of market or price manipulation and that “Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of Bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex.”
Regulators don’t seem to be as sure. Late last year, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission subpoenaed Bitfinex, and Tether — both of which share a CEO — for a closer look.
Things got worse for the company from there, as it cut ties with a third-party auditor, Friedman LLP., over its failures in auditing the supply of Tether in a “reasonable timeframe.”
Friedman, however, was never hired to look at the reliability of Tether’s records, just to prove that the stated amount existed — the equivalent of writing random numbers in an accounting ledger, and then hiring a firm to prove that there are numbers in an accounting ledger. The scope of Friedman’s audit was limited, and remains unfinished.
According to the New York Times, two others have come forward to back Griffin’s research. University College London professor Sarah Meiklejohn said the analysis “seems sound” and chief economist at blockchain data analysis company Chainalysis, Phillip Gradwell, said the study “seems credible.”
What this means for Bitfinex, Tether, or cryptocurrency markets as a whole remains to be seen.
Champion Shave to Launch Champion Coin ICO with Usain Bolt, Ronaldinho and Dominique Wilkins
Champion Shave to Launch Champion Coin in an ICO in 2019 Q2
Champion Shave, a superstar-owned shaving company, has outlined its intentions to launch its own cryptocurrency token. The company was established in 2016 by 100m world record holder, Fusain Bolt, soccer legend, Ronaldinho, and NBA legend, Dominique Wilkins.
Since its inception, the company has sold over 10 million razor products. The products are available in 17 countries across the world. According to Manny Bains, the CEO of Champion Shave, the firm is revolutionizing the men’s grooming sector that is valued at $47 billion. They intend to further this transformation by adopting a blockchain-based solution for their supply chain and customer data management.
Manny states that Champion Shave will use blockchain technology to track the entirety of the supply chain. This would reduce expenses and enhance efficiency by offering a transparent, unalterable and decentralized ledger for tracking movement of freight. Moreover, Champion Shave will conduct an ICO where it will issue its cryptocurrency token, called Champion Coin.
The objective of the Champion Coin and Champion Shave blockchain ecosystem is to eliminate intermediaries and charges in cross-border transactions. In addition to increased efficiency, Champion coin users will get rewards and discounts for shaving products.
Champion Coin ICO
The presale phase of the Champion Coin ICO is expected to start on October 29. The event will be backed by a specially curated marketing campaign meant to appeal to sports fans as well as crypto hobbyists. The main token sale is expected to go live in Q2 2019.
David Trezeguet, a former football star, will represent tie Champion Coin ICO during the Malta Blockchain Summit scheduled for November 1. Trezeguet said that he was excited by the launch of the token, adding that it would be useful to all members of the Champion Shave fraternity.
Debating Satoshi Nakamoto’s Original Vision Between Blockchain Ledgers or Tokens
According to Adam Krellenstein, co-founder and CTO at Symbiont.io, says that ten years after the anniversary of Bitcoin’s creation, the community is in a crisis. Symbiont.io is a fintech company that focuses on traditional financial markets and blockchain technology.
Mr Krellenstein says that he has been working during the last decade in order to produce new blockchain protocols that go beyond Satoshi’s original proposal. However, it seems that the industry is still struggling to answer important questions related to the nature of this technology and how it should improve society.
The author explains the struggle to understand the relationship between Bitcoin and distributed ledger technology (DLT). For him, there are some blockchains that want to create smart contracts, while others aim at creating tokens. Additionally, there is a debate on whether blockchain networks should be permissioned or not. Krellenstein believes that token systems are more useful than smart contracts when they are based on a public blockchain consensus protocol.
He mentions that Satoshi Nakamoto was right about the best use of blockchain technology. In this way, he created a payment system and a virtual currency (Bitcoin) that is nowadays the most popular and, perhaps, one of the most resilient in the market.
However, Krellenstein says that he spent a lot of time thinking about this issue and that he analyzed it very well when he created the cryptocurrency Counterparty and Symbiont. He goes on describing how Counter-party and Symbiont work and how they were created.
On the matter, he explained:
“Counterparty is a public blockchain smart contracts platform, albeit one focused on token issuance and trading, while Symbiont is a fintech company that develops and licenses its permissioned blockchain-based smart contracts system to improve the infrastructure of traditional financial markets.”
He said that while working on Counterparty and watching Ethereum – one of the largest virtual currencies and blockchain networks in the market – he saw that although both systems were built to support smart contracts, they were primarily used to create and transfer tokens.
Moreover, he explains that their vision was to create a trustless network of decentralized finance, and in order to do so, they implemented smart contracts for token balances, prediction markets, transparent elections and many other features. Nonetheless, those using Counterparty were focusing around its token rather than on other applications.
Krellenstein says that Ethereum makes it difficult to create real applications using the Solidity language. For him, one of the most advanced Ethereum smart contracts is related to CryptoKitties, something that is very similar to other games launched on Counterparty before. Although both platforms, Counterparty and Ethereum, were created to perform many other powerful things, they are exclusively used for tracing tokens.
This is why he thinks that smart contract systems for the general public are not a good idea. Additionally, he says that efficiency is sometimes more important than universality and that interaction among individuals is not yet as complex enough to justify a not efficient decentralized computer program.
Permissioned blockchains could work properly for some participants such as insitutions, governments or corporations. With these blockchains, it is possible to improve consistency and correctness of the current infrastructure.
This is something that some companies such as JP Morgan are already implementing and something that they properly understood.Quorum is the network that has been developed by the recognised bank and that is being used by different institutions and parties.
Krellenstein explains that blockchain can be valuable when replacing a consistent centralized system with a consistent decentralized one. He concludes saying that blockchain technology could become valuable as well when turning an inconsistent decentralized system into a consistent decentralized system.
“The conclusion that I’ve come to is that, just as was originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto, the greatest use of a public blockchain is in fact as a digital currency and payment system,” he says. “Generalizations of Satoshi’s innovations in the time since he launched bitcoin, manifest partly in the enterprise DLT space, are not competitive with bitcoin.”
Perhaps, instead of replacing fiat currencies, blockchain technology could be used to build new databases that support workflows that are un-amenable to management within traditional client-server frameworks.
Coinbase Adds Circle’s USD Coin (USDC) Stablecoin, Doubles Down on Digital Dollar Doubts
Coinbase Adds Circle’s USD Coin (USDC) Stablecoin
San Francisco-based cryptocurrency giant Coinbase just announced that it has added support for USD Coin (USDC), a stablecoin designed by competing crypto exchange Circle, the owner of Poloniex.
One USDC is a 1:1 representation of a US dollar on the Ethereum blockchain. Each USDC is 100% collateralized by a corresponding USD held in accounts subject to regular public reporting of reserves. The underlying technology behind the USDC was developed collaboratively between Coinbase and Circle.
“Coinbase and Circle share a common vision of an open global financial system built on crypto rails and blockchain infrastructure, and realizing this vision requires industry leaders to collaborate to build interoperable protocols and standards,” Circle co-founders Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville said
Distinctly, USD Coin will be the first stablecoin supported by Coinbase. Circle was the first issuer of the coin in September. The consortium, called Centre, will serve as a platform for users to make deposits from traditional bank accounts, convert fiat currency into tokens issued by members to facilitate transactions and provide the ability to shift back to the greenback.
Use cases of USDC
To start off with, two Ethereum wallets can quickly send and receive any amount of USDC at any time of day. Large transfers for business purposes become as easy as small e-commerce payments. Consumers can use the Coinbase app to send USDC to someone while remaining confident the value is stable.
There is a burgeoning ecosystem of crypto dApps, exchanges, and blockchain-based games. A USDC follows the ERC20 standard, which means it can be used with any app that accepts tokens based on that standard. The USDC can thus be used as a stable digital dollar to buy items in the crypto ecosystem, from Cryptokitties to tickets for blockchain-based games.
Additionally, for developers and fintech companies, a digital dollar like USDC is easier to program with. For example, given the private keys for USDC, a program can easily send and receive them back and forth using the public Ethereum blockchain.
Recently, there has been a large amount of new issuance of stable coins recently as industry enthusiasts try to find more uses for crypto. Tether is the largest of the bunch but is plagued by doubters amid concern as the company has refused to be audited and won’t disclose its banks. Critics of Tether have called into question whether that cryptocurrency is truly backed by the equivalent amount of U.S. dollars.