By CCN Markets: Bitcoin, the asset written off by many prominent economists after an enormous fall last year, has surged by more than 115% in the first half of 2019. The world’s largest cryptocurrency in May established a year-to-date high of $9,090 on Coinbase exchange. The price corrected downwards by more than $1,000 afterward. However, the drop did not shake bitcoin’s long-term bullish bias, at least according to Barry Silbert, the founder, and CEO of Digital Currency Group. Silbert told Bloomberg that crypto spring has arrived. He’s been in the crypto market since 2011 and is used to the volatility.
“[We’ve] been through quite a roller coaster. Price has gone down 80% four times. But in the past four times, the price has hit record highs afterward. And so if you look at the price for bitcoin, it looks like perhaps we’re coming out of the crypto winter and we’ve entered the crypto spring.”
According to Silbert, the market has responded positively to apparent demand from venture capitalists and institutional investors. The crypto bull noted that none of the bitcoin’s previous price rallies had the same optimism.
“If you compare the infrastructure today relative to where it was right before the last bitcoin bull market in 2017, it’s really night and day. And so now the question is not if institutional money is going to move into the asset class, but the question is really when.”
In retrospective, the surging demand for bitcoin tokens recorded in 2017 was mainly because of the so-called ICO-mania. People purchased the cryptocurrency to use it as a tool to invest in blockchain startups. However, as more than 90% of them failed, they started recovering their losses by selling the bitcoins they had raised through crowdfunds. The move eventually brought the price down by more than 75% in 2018.
But, as Silbert noted, the market has already moved away from the ICO-mania phase.
Binance to Add Fiat-to-Crypto OTC Trading in a Month, Co-Founder Says
Crypto exchange Binance is planning to add over-the-counter (OTC) trading to its platform in a month to provide users with fiat currency gateways.
Binance’s co-founder and chief marketing officer He Yi said at a media session on Tuesday during the Shanghai Blockchain Week that the exchange will specifically support fiat on-ramp via OTC for Chinese yuan.
He added that the new service will be part of Binance’s plan in the coming months to dedicate more time and resources to compete in the Chinese market. Further, the exchange is also rolling out a payment service to allow users from 170 countries to buy crypto assets using fiat currencies at Binance.com.
Fiat-to-crypto OTC trading has been a critical part in terms of fiat on-ramp for crypto traders based in China as local authorities prevent the direct connection of exchanges to banks and fiat deposits as part of the ban on initial coin offerings in September 2017.
Other long-running Chinese exchanges like Huobi and OKCoin have since then moved overseas and offered crypto-to-crypto trading while recruiting OTC market makers onto their platforms to help users buy and sell cryptos using Chinese yuan.
The news about Binance’s OTC capabilities comes as the exchange, which, according to CoinMarketCap data, is the world’s largest by trading volume, quickly racks up deals that increase its links with the real economy and improve its connections to mainstream finance.
At the beginning of the month, it began to offer sandboxes for the testing of two crypto-futures trading platforms, dubbed Futures A and Futures B. Users will vote on which is the best. The following day, it said it acquired Seychelles-registered JEX, a crypto derivatives exchange.
Last week, Binance introduced a dollar-based stable coin, Binance USD, and said the coin received approval from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).
The exchange is pitching its stable coins as alternatives to Libre. Also in the U.S., Binance said it would start accepting U.S. customers via its partner from Sept. 18, after banning them earlier in the year.
And just yesterday, the exchange invested into Mars Finance, a Chinese crypto data and media company, although the amount of the investment was not disclosed.
Abra to Add Cash-to-Crypto Outlets at All Philippines 7-Elevens
Investment app provider Abra is to sell cryptocurrency for cash at 6,000 outlets across the Philippines.
The expansion comes after the firm inked a deal with local payments company ECPAY to access its network that includes all 7-Eleven stores in the country.
The service lets any user of an Abra wallet purchase crypto via 7-Eleven’s CLIQQ app or kiosks. Terms include a minimum deposit requirement of 500 Philippines pesos (roughly $10) and a maximum purchase amount of 100,000 pesos (over $1,900) per day. Users will be charged a two percent transaction fee and can purchase all of Abra’s offered cryptocurrencies through their wallet.
Abra founder and CEO Bill Barhydt said:
“Now Abra users in the Philippines can quickly and easily add pesos into Abra and use that to invest in cryptocurrencies or popular stocks like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc., which opens up a world of new possibilities to build wealth.”
The app firm said back in February that it was launching a new service that allowed customers to invest in fractions of stocks of NASDAQ-listed firms. It also supports 30 cryptocurrencies and over 50 fiat currencies.
The new partnership “widens the product and service offerings of ECPay to its Collection Partners like 7-Eleven, NCCC Department Stores and Supermarkets, LCC Malls and other Remittance, Pawnshop partners,” said Trisha D. Pascual, general manager at ECPay.
‘Panda’ Crypto Malware Group Has Nabbed $100K in Monero Since 2018
A cybersecurity firm has identified a group behind a spate of cryptocurrency-mining malware attacks that have been targeting enterprises across the globe.
Said to have already scooped up almost $100,000 (at current prices) in the monero cryptocurrency via its malicious software packages, the group has been dubbed “Panda,” by the team that identified it last summer – the Cisco Talos Intelligence Group.
Talos said in a report on Tuesday that Panda’s employs remote access tools (RATs) and crypto-mining malwareto exploit vulnerable web applications, and manages to access networks of companies internationally. Its use of RATs puts organizations at risk of the hacking group using their networks for crypto mining purposes or theft of information, according to Talos.
“This is far from the most sophisticated actor we’ve ever seen, but it still has been one of the most active attackers we’ve seen in Cisco Talos threat trap data,” the team said.
The group has proven adept at updating its tools as they are discovered, in something of an arms race with security researchers.
Talos indicates that Panda harnesses exploits previously employed by Shadow Brokers – a group notorious for publishing hacking tools stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency – and Mimikatz, open-source software that is able to steal passwords from computer memory.
Talos said it has identified “successful” and “widespread” malware campaigns associated with Panda after identifying the group in 2018. Since then Panda has upgraded its infrastructure, exploits and payloads.
The researchers said:
“We believe Panda is a legitimate threat capable of spreading cryptocurrency miners that can use up valuable computing resources and slow down networks and systems. Talos confirmed that organizations in the banking, healthcare, transportation, telecommunications, IT services industries were affected in these campaigns.”
While the group may not be the most sophisticated, alos warned that “system administrators and researchers should never underestimate the damage an actor can do with widely available tools such as Mimikatz.”
It calculated that Panda has mined around 1,215 monero (XMR) – worth $91,000 at press time – since it started operations.