Four out of the top 5 cryptocurrency markets closed the month of March with gains. Other important developments include the first sale of Huobi Prime, a blockchain being used to track high-end commodities and metals, the announcement of a possible proprietary cryptocurrency for VK, and three reported cases of hacked exchanges. In terms of research, Bitwise’s data inaccuracy concerns still linger, while new research brings the KYC and AML procedures into question.
Here’s what you need to know about last week’s events in the crypto world:
1. Cryptocurrency market analysis
Bitcoin (BTC) started Monday at $4,024.11 following the previous week’s above-the-$4k-mark streak. Later that day, the low of the week happened at $3,934.03. Tuesday was the only day of the week that it didn’t rise over 4k, closing at $3,985.08. The rest of the week went steady until the peak of the week on Saturday at $4,296.81, gaining 9% from its low-of-the-week price. BTC opened and closed Sunday at $4,105.46 and $4,105.4 respectively, with a 0.001% loss for the day, a 2% gain for the week and a 6.5% gain for the month. Bitcoin’s market capitalization at the beginning of the week was $69.8B and it increased evenly throughout the week to close at $72.3B on Sunday, increasing a total of 3.6%.
Ethereum (ETH) opened at $137.08 on Monday and, like BTC, had it’s low of the week that same day at $133.49. By the end of the day, ETH had lost 1.5% of its initial value, closing at $135.03. The Ethereum coin closed Tuesday at $135.46, displaying no big adjustments. By the end of Wednesday, however, it had increased by 4%, closing at $140.99. The weekend held ETH’s price mostly above $140, and the peak of the week (and of the month) happened on Saturday when it climbed to $149.61, a 12% increase from the week’s low. By the end of the day, the price of ETH had gone back down, closing at $142.09. On Sunday there were no important changes and Ether closed at $141.51, with a 0.4% loss for the day, a 3.2% gain for the week, and a 3.4% gain for the month. Ethereum’s market cap on Monday was $14.2B and $14.9B on Sunday, gaining 4.9%.
Ripple (XRP) opened the week at $0.3094 and experienced losses throughout the day, closing at $0.304. The low of the week came the next day at $0.2989, the only day that XRP dipped below $0.3. The rest of the week the cryptocurrency’s prices moved up a little without relevant changes until XRP coin’s peak on Saturday at $0.3267, increasing 9.3% from the week’s low. By the end of the day, XRP’s price had gone down to $0.3106, and it closed Sunday at $0.3092, losing 0.48% during the day and 0.07% during the week. Unlike the coins above, XRP closed March with a 1.8% loss for the month. RIpple’s market capitalization closed Monday at $12.7B and grew 1.7%, closing Sunday at $12.9B.
EOS saw Monday opening and closing at $3.66 and $3.68 respectively, for a steady start to the week. The week’s low happened that day as well, at $3.63. Tuesday showed similar prices. Wednesday, however, closed almost 15% higher than the day before, at $4.32. Like the rest of the top markets, the peak of the week was on Saturday, at $4.43. By the end of the day, prices had settled at a more modest $4.14, and the EOS coin closed Sunday at $4.18, with a 1% gain for the day, a 14% gain for the week and an 18% gain for the month. EOS’s market cap started the week at $3.3B and closed it at $3.8B, growing 13.7% during the week.
Litecoin opened at $60.3 on Monday and closed similarly at $59.5. Tuesday, much like the rest of the markets, saw the low of the week, at $58.33. Wednesday saw the highest price at closing time, with LTC at $62.25. The high of the week, however, following the previous coins’ fashion, didn’t come until Saturday when Litecoin’s price reached $64.11, a 10% increase from the low on Tuesday. By the end of the day, LTC had settled at 60.62 USD and throughout Sunday there weren’t significant changes, opening and closing at $60.64 and $60.76 respectively, with a 0.2% gain for the day, a 0.8% gain for the week, and an astounding 31% gain for the month. The market capitalization of Litecoin on Monday was $3.6B and by Sunday it had gained 2.3%, closing the week at $3.7B.
2. VK considering launching their own cryptocurrency
According to a Mar. 28 report from RNS, an insider source from the Russian social media company revealed that there are plans to develop a proprietary cryptocurrency. While a final decision has not been reached on whether or not there will be a coin launch, the source claims that there are plans of creating individual cryptocurrency accounts for VK members.
One of the reported presentations shows that one of the ways of obtaining the tokens is through activeness and time spent on VK. These tokens could be accumulated or transferred to other users through their own payment app. Tipping through this application is supposed to also be in the works, and it could be a feature that is tied to the implementation of a cryptocurrency.
3. Huobi Prime completes its first DPO sale
In only seconds, the new Direct Premium Offering (DPO; a concept explained by Huobi’s Ross Zhang here) token sale platform Huobi Prime completed its first sale, raising $3.4M in the Top Network’s TOP tokens. The sale was designed to take place in three different rounds—each one with a different price—, all of them with a 20-minute limit. However, each sale was over in record time, and all 1,500,000,000 TOP tokens were sold in 19 seconds. As soon as it was listed, the TOP token spiked in price and peaked at $0,0065, a 250% price increase.
However, this caused backlash from the community due to the extremely short-lived nature of the sale. Other complaints also arose, citing that the exchange did not show an updated availability of Huobi Token or that buying orders were not processed, showing that massive token sales usually can’t cope with the demand.
4. BitTorrent announces new live-streaming project BitTorrent Live
A Mar. 27 official blog post announced that BitTorrent is offering early access to their new streaming service, BitTorrent Live, a social media platform specially designed “for people to express their creativity and connect with others around the world”. It will be a service that is going to incorporate blockchain technology to bolster privacy and ownership, and also support payments in BTT tokens. The estimated beta testing download date is for Q2 2019, and people can enroll in the beta program here.
This will be BitTorrent’s second shot at BitTorrent Live, because the company already released a streaming service under the name of BitTorrent Live, though it was shut down merely a year later.
5. OK Group partners up with Prime Trust to announce new stablecoin
First announced on Mar. 27 by Prime Trust via Twitter, the news was then corroborated by the founder of OKEx: OK Group is partnering up with Prime Trust, a technology-driven trust company that is heavily focused on blockchain technology and which offers services such as custody, AML/KYC compliance, and asset protection to ICOs.
In addition to this, the original tweet by Prime Trust also mentioned that the OK Group, as part of this partnership, was planning to release a compliant stablecoin under the name of OKUSD, which will operate on the OkChain blockchain. Little details about OKUSD have been released, but its name suggests that it will be a USD-pegged asset.
6. Coinbene users suspect possible exchange hack
Coinbene, ranked at press time as the 9th crypto exchange in terms of volume, announced on Mar. 26 that Coinbene underwent maintenance to upgrade their platform’s wallets, a move that doesn’t affect trading, but affects operations such as deposits and withdrawals. This announcement was done in response to a tweet that claims that the exchange was probably hacked, and that was the reason why no prior announcements of the maintenance were made.
After it was found that Etherscan shows that there were massive outgoing transactions from the platform that added up to $40M, suspicion rose even more. In response to this, Coinbene exchange tweeted an official statement on Mar. 27 which explains that the maintenance was a preventive—not reactive—measure, due to multiple cases of user asset theft that were reported recently. Despite this, a thorough analysis by Elementus shows that the recent activity of the exchange is consistent with a hack.
7. Exchanges DragonEX and Bithumb also report hacks
In addition to the controversy surrounding the possible Coinbene hack, Singapore-based crypto exchange DragonEX announced in their Telegram Channel on Mar. 24 that they had been hacked and the attack had compromised both user and platform assets. The amount of money involved in the hack is unknown, but an update was provided on Mar. 25 identifying 20 wallets that could have possibly received the stolen assets.
An additional hack was reported on Mar. 30 by crypto exchange Bithumb via Twitter, where they announced that the deposit and withdrawal services were temporarily suspended. According to the full report, the exchange noticed that there was an abnormal amount of EOS and XRP (a total of roughly $19M) withdrawals, which led to the suspension of the services. Additionally, they stated that only platform assets were compromised, as users’ assets are in a cold wallet, and that the attack was likely from an “insider”, which could link the attack to Bithumb laying off 50% of its staff earlier in March.
8. A Formula 1 blockchain game, Scotch Whisky and other luxury goods to be tracked on blockchain and new crypto payment options
Blockchain startup Animoca Brands has partnered with Formula 1 to develop an “F1 Delta Time” blockchain game. The game will be based on NFTs and the first phase of the launch is set for May 10. Bitrefill, a Sweden-based firm provider of digital gifts cards, has added a new feature to pay for Airbnb reservations with crypto currencies. U.S. customers can purchase vouchers with BTC, ETH, DASH, LTC, and DOGE in order to get a code to use on the platform.
In an attempt to prevent liquor counterfeit in the UK, William Grant & Sons — a liquor company founded in 1887 — is releasing the first scotch whisky tracked with a blockchain-based system. WG&S has partnered with blockchain tech company Arc-net to develop a system that will enable customers to track their whisky from source to store. This move will also allow the company to collect “data from existing and potential customers, using mobile location services to correlate where the whisky is being purchased.” In a similar initiative, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH) is reportedly working with ConsenSys and Microsoft Azure to develop a blockchain platform — the AURA platform — to track its products. The platform is scheduled to go live in May or June 2019 with Louis Vuitton and Parfums Christian Dior. AURA is supposed to prove LVMH’s luxury products’ authenticity by tracking them from origin to stores. In a similar fashion, Vladimir Potanin, CEO of the Russian nickel and palladium mining and smelting company MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC (Nornickel), is planning to create crypto tokens that are backed by palladium, to trade the metal through a Swiss-based palladium fund, thus enabling more fluid transactions.
9. Crypto news around the world
This week saw two developments regarding national securities regulators. The first one happened on Mar. 26 in Spain, when the Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) stated that it had not authorized any entity to operate an Initial Coin Offering. The commission also confirmed that tokens that are deemed to be securities with an issuance of less than 5 million euros and that are aimed at less than 150 retail investors, or that have a minimum investment of 100,000 euros or more, do not require approval or verification from the CNMV. Then, on Mar. 28, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), issued an official statement on security token offerings. The statement claims that security tokens are likely to be considered securities in Hong Kong, and would thus fall under previously-existing securities laws. This also means that Hong-Kong based STOs must acquire a license for dealing in securities.
In other important crypto news, Japanese exchange DeCurret announced through a press release that it had completed the registration process of virtual currency exchange service providers, which means that it will be joining Rakuten as the two registered and approved Japanese crypto exchanges, launching in April and June respectively. Finland-based crypto exchange LocalBitcoins announced on Mar. 25 that due to new legislations, the exchange and other Finnish virtual currency services will become supervised by the Financial Supervisory Authority of the country, which will give crypto legal status and make Bitcoin a viable financial solution in the country. Finally, on Mar. 27, the council of Innisfil in Ontario, Canada, approved a pilot project that will allow residents to pay for town services and property taxes with Bitcoin.
10. CoinMarketCap says that Bitwise’s data inaccuracy concerns are valid
As reported last week, a study conducted by Bitwise shows that a huge majority of reported Bitcoin trading volumes were actually artificially created. This week, on Mar. 25, Bloomberg reported that CoinMarketCap, a cryptocurrency market data aggregator alluded to in the study, said that the concerns regarding the inaccuracy of data were valid and that the site is working on adding more information so users can make more informed decisions. Carylyne Chan, the global head of marketing at CoinMarketCap, told Bloomberg News in an email that there are now plans to include liquidity measures, hot and cold wallet balances, and traffic data for listed exchanges as new tools to bolster transparency on the site, so users “can form their own conclusions and interpretations—and not introduce our own bias into that mix”.
11. Coinfirm: the majority of exchanges have insufficient KYC policies
A crypto exchange risk report by regulatory technology startup, Coinfirm, was released on Mar. 27, showing that only 16% of 216 crypto exchanges were actually licensed by regulators. The firm also stated that these crypto exchanges collectively represent more than 90% of the global exchange activity.
Additionally, the study found that almost 70% of the exchanges do not have “complete and transparent” CDD and KYC procedures and that less than 30% had actually introduced anti-money laundering procedures like hiring a money laundering officer. Finally, Coinfirm provided average composite risk performance of exchanges in different jurisdictions, claiming that Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and others are considered to be low-risk countries, whereas Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus are considered high-risk.
12. Research shows that blockchain spending in the US could reach $41 billion by 2025
A Mar. 25 report from Research and Markets indicates that Blockchain spending in the US could go from $3 billion to $41 billion in the next 6 years. The report called the “United States Blockchain Business Opportunities and Outlook Databook Series (2016-2015)” claims that there will be a compound annual growth rate of 44.5 percent. The report claims that there was a 110% increase in blockchain spending in the US during 2018.
This report follows a recent trend of similar results, namely the report from the International Data Corporation, which projects that the period between 2018 and 2022 will be particularly fruitful for blockchain spending, though the projection is more cautious—amounting to $12.4 billion by 2022.
Crypto continues to make its way into mainstream businesses and regulation moves forward in both China and Spain. While having hacking reports for three different exchanges in one week is a grim reality, some announcements and developments, such as exchanges having to become more accountable in the future, bring hope to crypto. March ended with most of the biggest markets experiencing growth, with BTC ending the month with a 6.5% gain, EOS with an 18% gain, and Litecoin taking the lead with a 31% gain for the month.
We wish you a great week,