The cryptocurrency industry has seen a resurgence in terms of price recently, after a majority of the top coins recorded double-digit gains over the week. In the middle of this, Weiss Ratings, the popular cryptocurrency rating platform, has taken up arms against the much-talked about Facebook Coin, tweeting,“#FB allegedly recruiting financial firms to develop its own #crypto, project codename Libra. Financial firms are being recruited yet, #Facebook is “noticeably absent” from discussions about using #DLT to enhance user privacy. What does that say about #FBCoin? #ThisIsNoCrypto”
Weiss’ attack comes in the wake of many organizations pointing out Facebook’s tumultuous history with user privacy, citing cases such as the recent account leak and the scandal associated with Cambridge Analytica. There have also been concerns about how the tech behemoth will focus on getting more people on its roster, rather than focus on Distributed Ledger Technology that was intended to be its main focus.
Even Andreas Antonopoulos, author of Mastering Bitcoin and famous Bitcoin proponent, had previously attacked Facebook, claiming that the social media giant will sell user transaction data to commercial companies. He had said,‘They are centralized, censorable, bordered, controlled, [permissioned], and closed systems… that have the same characteristics of fiat, but are simply now digital. Guess what? We already have digital fiat. All banks operate primarily with digital fiat. About 92% of the money supply in the world is digital fiat, with no physical equivalent in cash.”
Despite such attacks, the Mark Zuckerberg-led company has been aggressively pushing its agenda. It recently hired two former Coinbase employees to join Facebook Coin’s compliance team. Barclays had previously predicted the project’s success, claiming that the cryptocurrency could potentially be worth $19 billion. Ross Sandler, an internet analyst with Barclays, had said,“Based on our checks, the first version of Facebook Coin may be a single purpose coin for micro-payments and domestic p2p money transfer (in-country), very similar to the original credits from 2010 and Venmo today.”
Firefox Browser Adds Option to Automatically Block Crypto Mining Scripts
Mozilla has released an update for its Firefox browser which includes an option to block cryptocurrency mining scripts on websites.
The option is being offered alongside control of cookies and trackers in the “Privacy & Security” tab of the browser, where users can now also choose to tick a box that prevents “cryptominers” from running, Mozilla announced on its blog Tuesday.
Crypto-mining scripts on websites run in the browser, normally without users’ knowledge or consent, using the power of the computer processor to mine cryptocurrency for hackers’ personal gain.
“These scripts slow down your computer, drain your battery and rack up your electric bill,” Mozilla said.
The option to block mining scripts has been available in beta since the feature’s initial launch in April, with Mozilla partnering with cybersecurity firm Disconnect for the service.
Mozilla revealed its plan to offer the feature last August, saying its goal was to prevent third-party scripts from hampering the user experience. Web browser Opera also offers miner protection in its smartphone version, while Google’s Chrome has banned miners from its extensions.
Illicit crypto mining, sometimes called crypto-jacking, is fast gaining in popularity with criminals (there are more legitimate uses too). The code that carries out the task of mining can be propagated by malware and placed directly within computer systems, or it can be placed on websites by hackers to mine using victims’ machines through browsers.
A report from Skybox Security last year found that the method now account for 32 percent of all cyberattacks, while ransomware only makes up 8 percent.
In 2017, Skybox found that the situation was almost exactly reversed. While ransomware attacks – in which the data on an individual’s computer is encrypted by malware and only unlocked upon payment of a fee – made up 32 percent of all attacks, cryptojacking represented 7 percent of the total at the time.
Crypto Lending Startup BlockFi Slashing Interest Rates on Ether Deposits
Cryptocurrency lending startup BlockFi is almost halving the interest rates it offers on ether (ETH) deposits, while some bitcoin (BTC) rates will increase slightly.
From June 1, customers with 25–100 ETH balances in a BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) will see the interest rate drop from the current 6.2 percent annual percentage yield (APY) to 3.25 percent, the startup announced Tuesday. Those holding over 100 ETH balances will earn just 0.2 percent APY.
Some BTC balances, on the other hand, will see a slight interest rate increase – up to 2.15 percent from the current 2 percent – for deposits of over 25 BTC. Those holding 0.5–25 BTC will continue to earn 6.2 percent APY, BlockFi said.
The firm cited the reason for the increased interest rate on larger BTC deposits as being because borrowing and lending markets for the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization “have developed into a vibrant and growing field.”
On the contrary, the ether lending market has become “stagnant” over the last couple quarters, BlockFi said. The firm’s terms and conditions state that it can change interest rates at its discretion.
The company launched the BIA in March, offering an annual interest rate of 6 percent, paid on a monthly basis in cryptocurrency. That monthly interest is then compounded to produce a 6.2 percent APY.
BIA crypto holdings are custodied at the Gemini Trust Company, which is regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services and also offers insurance coverage for the digital assets it holds in custody.
In Tuesday’s update, BlockFi further updated that the BIA now has over $100 million in assets under management – almost double the $53 million it had as of last month.
BlockFi is backed by notable investors including Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Ventures and Anthony Pompliano’s Morgan Creek Digital. The firm raised $4 million last December, and previously raised $52.5 million last July.
IRS Says It Will ‘Soon’ Issue Crypto Tax Guidance in First Since 2014
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is working on its first tax guidance for cryptocurrency since 2014, the agency’s commissioner told a lawmaker Monday.
In a reply to Rep. Tom Emmer’s request for further guidance on reporting cryptocurrencies, IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig outlined a non-specific plan to release in-depth guidance in the near future.
“I share your belief that taxpayers deserve clarity on basic issues related to the taxation of virtual currency transactions and have made it a priority of the IRS to issue guidance,” Rettig wrote.
The IRS is working on guidance for “acceptable methods for calculating cost basis, acceptable methods of cost basis assignment, and the tax treatment of forks” according to the letter.
Guidance on these and other issues will be published “soon,” Rettig wrote.
5.16.2019 emmer 2019-11771 by John Biggs on Scribd
“I am glad to hear of the IRS’ plans to issue guidance on this important issue,” Rep. Emmer said in a statement after receiving Rettig’s reply. “Taxpayers deserve clarity on several basic questions regarding federal taxation of these emerging exchanges of value. I look forward to seeing their forthcoming proposal, and working together to serve the American taxpayers.”
Rep. Emmer is part of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a group of lawmakers that aims, among other goals, to solidify the reporting requirements and legal requirements associated with cryptocurrencies.
His original request called for the IRS to “issue more robust guidance clarifying taxpayers’ obligations when using virtual currencies” with a deadline of May 15, 2019.
2019 IRS Letter Final by John Biggs on Scribd