Category: Crypto Currency

Bitcoin price reaches three-year high of more than $19,000 – The Guardian

The price of bitcoin has broken through $19,000 for the first time in almost three years, taking the world’s biggest cryptocurrency close to its all-time high of just under $20,000.

Bitcoin has surged by almost 40% in November and is up about 160% this year. It reached a peak of just under $20,000 in December 2017, before crashing spectacularly, losing a quarter of its value in a single day.

Analysts and investors say the coronavirus pandemic has led to a reassessment of bitcoin’s value as an alternative currency, and even as an alternative to gold. As the US dollar and other currencies have weakened, more investors are turning to cryptocurrency as protection against inflation.

Rick Rieder, the chief investment officer of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, said last Friday that cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, were “here to stay”. He said millennials were happily embracing new technologies – although he himself has not bought much bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

“But do I think it is a durable mechanism that could replace gold to a large extent? Yeah I do, because it’s so much more functional than passing a bar of gold around,” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box.

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PayPal has launched a crypto trading service on its platform, and has reportedly bought nearly 70% of all new bitcoin in circulation. Its chief executive, Dan Schulman, said the pandemic had accelerated the shift to digital forms of payments.

A number of hedge fund managers, including the US billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, who predicted and profited from the 1987 stock market crash, have revealed in recent months that they have invested in bitcoin. Jones, who runs Tudor Investment Corp, has been recommending the cryptocurrency to his clients as a hedge against inflation, with the US Federal Reserve expected to keep interest rates at zero. Congress has resumed its negotiations over a massive stimulus package for the US economy.

Cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile, and other digital currencies have also regained popularity in recent months, such as Ethereum, Litecoin and XRP, as investors reviewed their long-term prospects.

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Ether, XRP and other ‘altcoins’ rally as bitcoin heads for all-time high – CNBC

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Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency posting strong gains lately.

Ether, XRP and a handful of other so-called “altcoins,” or alternative cryptocurrencies, rallied Monday, following the world’s best-known digital currency higher.

At around 9:15 a.m. ET, ether passed the $600 level, a point it hasn’t reached since June 2018, according to data from industry site CoinDesk. XRP at one point surged 29% to almost 55 cents, hitting its highest level in over two years.

Ether was last trading up about 8% in the last 24 hours at $595, having earlier risen as much as 13%, while XRP was 19% higher at around 54 cents. Both are up about 350% and 180% respectively year-to-date.

Crypto industry investors said altcoins were tracking the momentum that has seen bitcoin surge recently. Bitcoin last week crossed the $18,000 threshold and is close to an all-time high near $20,000, which it hit in late 2017 before slumping as low as $3,122 the following year.

“What you generally see in the space is bitcoin goes on a run and then a period of time later — might be a few weeks, might be a month — the altcoins then go on a run,” Peter Wall, CEO of London-based crypto mining firm Argo Blockchain, told CNBC. “Bitcoin leads and the altcoins follow.”

Another altcoin, Chainlink, rose as much as 6% to around $15. It’s currently up more than 740% since the start of the year.

Chainlink is often associated with a concept called “DeFi,” or decentralized finance, which aims to recreate traditional financial products like loans without middlemen like banks.

DeFi has become a popular theme in crypto this year, with several new projects emerging. It has been compared to the initial coin offering, or ICO, frenzy of late 2017 which saw multiple new virtual coins appear.

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Ethereum and Ripple are exploding higher thanks to the growing interest in cryptocurrencies that lifted B.. – Business Insider

GettyImages 1214132428
  • Ethereum and Ripple are soaring, echoing the powerful rally in Bitcoin, as mass interest in cryptocurrencies picks up steam.
  • Ethereum has jumped almost four-fold this year to just below $600, although this is still short of its record $1,500 in January 2018.
  • The price of smaller crypto rival Ripple has hit its highest since mid-2019, having doubled in value in this month alone.
  • This growing interest raises red flags, because many people are pouring in money into cryptocurrencies without really understanding how they work, which could lead to several mistakes and lost money, a researcher said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bitcoin’s growing reputation as an inflation hedge is boosting the price of other cryptocurrencies. Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency platform in the world, rose by more than 6% to $597 on Monday, its highest since mid 2018. 

Ethereum is still well below its all-time high of about $1,500 recorded in January 2018, but its price has increased four-fold since March 2020, when the pandemic brought global money markets to a grinding halt. Smaller rival Ripple’s price has doubled in the month of November alone. 

The sudden price surge could be explained in large part because of Bitcoin’s massive rally this year. The digital token is up 160% on the year and was trading around $18,632 on Monday, near three-year highs.

Screenshot 2020 11 23 at 11.38.06

While both crypto assets have risen massively in price, their market capitalization is still dwarfed by Bitcoin. Ethereum represents about $40.6 billion in market cap, Ripple stands at about $48.5 billion, while Bitcoin touched an all-time high of $336 billion last week.

Michael Sonnenshein, managing director of the world’s biggest crypto fund Grayscale Investments, told Business Insider last week that he believes Bitcoin is the next step in the evolution of money.

As the pandemic continues to quarantine huge swathes of the global population, people are spending more time online, and they’re probably getting more interested in cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Bernard Meyer, senior researcher at CyberNews.com, said.

Read More: A Wall Street strategist breaks down why bitcoin’s latest surge past $18,000 is sniffing out a major downward spiral in the stock market’s hottest trade

“But because it’s all so technical, they’re probably investing in these cryptocurrencies without really being certain of what they’re doing – which can lead to a lot of mistakes and money lost,” he said.

In the past, a number of high-profile hacking and security breaches resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies being stolen on various platforms. While security across the major trading platforms has tightened up, would-be Ethereum buyers need to make sure they are familiar with their token’s smart contract – a form of account on the Ethereum blockchain that can send transactions across the network.

“If they’re on Ethereum, they’ll be using what’s known as a smart contract to sort of automate the process of sending and receiving payments for users. But these smart contracts can have some big security holes in them,” Meyer said.

Investors need to check the type of smart contract they’re using and whether it has been audited and verified, to limit the chances of something going wrong. 

Read More: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 14 stocks well-positioned to see surging cash flow as the recovering economy upends the market

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Five crypto bulls predict what’s next for bitcoin as it closes in on an all-time high – CNBC

A visual representation of bitcoin.

studioEAST | Getty Images

Bitcoin is back. The cryptocurrency last week passed the $18,000 level for the first time since its all-time peak in December 2017.

As the digital currency — which is up over 150% this year — moves closer than ever to its record high of almost $20,000, CNBC asked five crypto experts for their take on the latest rally.

Is bitcoin’s meteoric rise in value now different than the speculative frenzy of late 2017 and early 2018? And where does the price of bitcoin go from here? Here’s what they said:

What’s different this time round?

Many commentators in the industry say the crypto market has matured over the last three years.

“The main difference between now and the 2017 rally is that back then the market was driven by retail speculation and now it’s being driven by corporations and billionaires,” said Mati Greenspan, portfolio manager and founder of Quantum Economics.

Wall Street incumbent Fidelity, for instance, set up a new unit to let its clients invest in digital assets, while PayPal recently started letting its U.S. users buy, hold and sell a range of virtual currencies.

And there are now big-name investors putting their money into bitcoin, including billionaire hedge fund managers Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller.

“There was nothing conspicuous about their involvement,” said Antoni Trenchev, managing partner of crypto lender Nexo. “They purchased in stealth mode but once bitcoin made it to their treasuries, they let the world know, similar to the gold bull market in the 1970s.”

Then there’s the coronavirus pandemic. Crypto fans have compared bitcoin to safe-haven assets like gold, which investors often flock to in times of economic turbulence. They claim that Covid-related stimulus measures have lessened the appeal of sovereign currencies like the U.S. dollar.

Meanwhile, bitcoin underwent a key technical event earlier this year called the “halving,” which saw the amount of bitcoins rewarded to the so-called “miners” who add bitcoin transactions to its public ledger get cut in half. Some analysts say this event has also contributed to the asset’s climb in 2020.

Where does bitcoin go from here?

There are plenty of sky-high predictions for what price bitcoin could zoom to in the near-to-long term. But many crypto enthusiasts agree bitcoin is likely to pass its all-time high soon.

“A new all-time high is not only possible but is largely anticipated by bitcoin believers to happen any day now,” said Greenspan.

Pascal Gauthier, CEO of crypto hardware wallet maker Ledger, said he thinks the latest bitcoin bull run will last for longer than the previous one.

“Bitcoin has reached market recognition and maturity, making it the one coin that is definitely here to stay,” he said. “2021 will be exciting and will still be about building great products and tech but this time with the wind blowing in the sails.”

Some crypto bulls have already given bold predictions for where the price of bitcoin could go next. Mike Novogratz, CEO of investment firm Galaxy Digital, thinks bitcoin could reach $55,000 to $60,000 by the end of the year — though he also once said it could “easily” hit $40,000 by the end of 2018.

Words of caution?

The cryptocurrency has a reputation for extreme volatility. It plummeted as low as $3,122 in 2018 after rallying to nearly $20,000 a year earlier. In the last week alone, bitcoin has added more than $2,000 and was at $18,485.60 on Monday morning ET.

Soravis Srinawakoon, CEO and co-founder of crypto software firm Band Protocol, said it “remains to be seen” whether bitcoin can reach new highs by the end of the year.

Lior Messika, founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Eden Block, said bitcoin is “plagued with volatility” as it has “neither an established narrative nor an ability to manipulate its proportionality in response to fluctuations in its underlying value.”

“As time goes on, the bitcoin narrative is strengthening, although the global belief in its usability is still negligible,” he added. “This has resulted in continuing volatility for the asset.”

Still, there is broad confidence about the digital asset’s prospects. Trenchev — who earlier this year predicted bitcoin could reach $50,000 by the end of 2020 — said there’s “increasing evidence of that upward trend.”

Srinawakoon said “all signals point strongly towards the next wave of adoption and new users in the near future.”

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4 Metrics That Show How the Current Bitcoin Spike Is Different From 2017 – CoinDesk – CoinDesk

Crypto markets have historically been led by retail investors, with professional investors following. Is that changing? After all, high-tech innovation in the past 15 years has executed an opposite about-face, flipping an enterprise-led pattern into a consumer-led pattern. 

Retail’s lead was evident in the fourth quarter of 2017, as media hype soared, alongside the price. There’s no doubt the retail hype is quieter this time around. CNBC had nearly 100 “bitcoin” headlines in the first half of Q4 2017. These past six weeks, as bitcoin ran to a new all-time high in market value, it’s put up less than 40. Where the hell are Davy Day Trader and the “Robinhood effect” investors? Did their stimulus checks run out? 

It’s premature to diagnose a secular trend in crypto investing, mostly because the retail/institutional dichotomy is problematically simplistic. Below, I’ll run through four dimensions of the market that show how the participants in this run-up are behaving differently than investors did in 2017:

  • Bitcoin whales and trading vs. holding
  • Bitcoin vs. ether and everything else
  • Regulated vs. off-shore futures markets
  • N. America vs. E. Asia investors

1. Bitcoin whales and trading vs. holding

The number of addresses holding at least 1 bitcoin increased at an unrelenting pace from the end of 2013 to the 2018 crash. It picked up again in 2019, then leveled off again this spring. This is different from the end of 2017, when it soared to a peak with the bitcoin price.

1btcaddresses_20nov18_coindeskresearch

Compare that to the number of what we could call bitcoin “billionaires,” addresses holding at least 1,000 BTC. These whales were selling into the run-up in 2017. This time, the Bitcoin blockchain’s Forbes List is growing, not shrinking.

1kbtcaddresses_20nov18_coindeskresearch

Address balances must be taken with a grain of salt; addresses ≠ entities. Behavior is a better signal. If there be whales, where are they swimming to? Wherever they winter, they are bringing their bitcoin bags along. The orange coin is accumulating more in wallets that historically buy and hold, and less in wallets that have shown a tendency to trade.

bitcoinholdersvstraders_20nov19_chainalysis

Twice since 2017, a slowing in holder accumulation has been a leading indicator for the market top. In 2020, it shows no sign of slowing, yet.

2. Bitcoin vs. ether and everything else

The 2017 bull market is remembered as a phenomenon driven by enthusiasm for initial coin offerings (ICOs) on Ethereum. However, by the time the frenzy reached its fever pitch, ether (ETH) had largely completed its run. At the midpoint of 2017 Q4, bitcoin returns were 23.9%; ether returns were 6.9%. It was bitcoin’s Q4 catch-up run that fed the bulls.

bitcoinandethreturns2017_coindeskresearch

Contrast that to 2020, and the similarities and differences are telling. Again, ether led the run-up, but this time it’s keeping pace with bitcoin, returning 23.2% so far on the fourth quarter to bitcoin’s 28.4%, even before it crossed $500, early Friday. If 2017’s pattern repeats, the bitcoin bulls may have a longer range to run.

bitcoinandethreturns2020_coindeskresearch

So, are crypto markets consolidating? The answer is, yes and no. Bitcoin dominance, the orange coin’s share of cumulative market cap, is in the high 50s. Usually, that means a shorter list of assets that compose the bulk of the market. Not this year.

bitcoindominanceandcryptomarketconsolidation_coindeskresearch_20nov01

Top-five assets in the CoinDesk 20 are growing with bitcoin, but the long tail is now more fragmented than it has been since the aftermath of the 2017 bubble. (This tally includes stablecoins and other pegged assets.)

3. Regulated vs. off-shore futures markets

The “institutions are here” chorus can sing about the growth of the CME Bitcoin Futures market, signaling increasing demand for regulated exposure to bitcoin via established operations channels. Open interest on the CME hit $1 billion this week, an all-time high.

skew_cme_bitcoin_futures__total_open_interest__volumes_-11

However, much of that growth is attributable to bitcoin’s price run. And in aggregate, lightly regulated derivatives contracts, traded by individuals, prop desks and liquidity providers, dwarf the CME. It would be unwise to base an institutional flippening thesis on growth in the CME alone. Better to say institutional participation is growing with the rest of the market.

skew_btc_futures__aggregated_open_interest-8

4. N. America vs. E. Asia investors

Parallel to the growth of CME futures is the flow of bitcoin onto North American exchanges, and off of East Asian exchanges.

bitcoinexchangeflows_eastasianorthamerica_chainalysis_20nov18

To the extent exchange flows represent the activity of participants, East Asian investors have been selling bitcoin into this bull market at rates never before seen. Meanwhile, North American interest in bitcoin is greater than it was in 2017.

One important caveat: the flows here may represent the preferences of traders more than the long-term activity of investors. The stablecoin tether is on pace to grow its market cap by more than $10 billion this quarter. Some of the flows in East Asia likely represent Tether’s (USDT) march toward quote currency dominance, as traders increasingly favor it over bitcoin in crypto-to-crypto markets.

Conclusion

The takeaway: This bull run is indeed different from 2017, though that doesn’t mean we won’t see another peak-and-trough cycle. Signals that hint at the kinds of investors who are participating indicate we may be earlier in the cycle than we were when bitcoin hit its all-time high three years ago. Bitcoin’s history is full of narratives about upcoming shifts or regulatory change s that would change the market fundamentally. Those narratives have been overblown in the past, and they’re probably overblown now. The same is true of narratives that foretell the dollar’s demise. 

Are traditional financial markets burning down their own frat house? Maybe, but that doesn’t suddenly transform bitcoin into a safe haven or a hedge. The current patterns of new, larger and longer-term investors’ growing involvement is likely to continue, but bitcoin and downmarket cryptos will be risk-on investments for the foreseeable future, and investors should continue to treat them as such. 

Anyone know what’s going on yet?

One of the things that makes bitcoin such a successful investment is its lack of infrastructure. Like most retail investors, I tend to take profits too early. Like many bitcoin investors, I keep my coins in cold storage, which means it takes time and effort to get them ready to trade. We bitcoin investors are akin to the apocryphal Fidelity clients, who died and, in death, stopped mucking around with their portfolios, thereby becoming more successful than other Fidelity customers. 

That said, bitcoin’s returns this month have put the orange coin into a stratospheric percentage of my family’s portfolio. Anyone else out there getting white knuckles, yet?

bitcoinandmacroreturnstable_coindeskresearch_20nov20

(Coin Metrics, FactSet)

(Note: Nothing in this newsletter is investment advice. The author owns some bitcoin and ether.)

CHAIN LINKS

Rick Rieder, CIO of fixed income at BlackRock, is thinking about crypto assets. In case you’ve been living under a rock, yourself, Rieder made comments on CNBC Friday morning that indicate the world’s largest asset manager is taking crypto seriously: “Do I think it’s a durable mechanism that … could take the place of gold to a large extent? Yeah, I do, because it’s so much more functional than passing a bar of gold around,” Rieder said. TAKEAWAY: If BlackRock walks the walk Rieder is talking, we all better put on our running shoes to keep up. 

IBM has secured a patent covering blockchain-based transactions in massively multiplayer online video games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone. TAKEAWAY: Blockchain startups in the game industry have touted similar technology as a way to secure player ownership of virtual goods and their portability between games, but it’s unclear whether existing incentives in game development and publishing would support moving to such a structure. It’s doubly unclear how permissioned blockchains like the kind IBM has championed would improve upon a simple database in these cases.

One potentially overlooked factor in the current bitcoin run-up: Beijing’s crackdown on over-the-counter crypto trading desks, where miners convert new-minted bitcoin into cash. We broke it down in a new CoinDesk partnership with Axios, this week (check it out), after reporting the news on Monday. TAKEAWAY: The 2020 Bitcoin Halving reduced the impact of new supply on the market. With more investors holding, demand factors may be more of a driver in this run-up. This is more a medium-term supply issue to monitor, as it may shape the makeup of bitcoin mining. 

Brian Brooks, a former Coinbase general counsel, has gotten a White House nod to serve a five-year term to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the primary U.S. bank regulator. Brooks, who has been serving as Acting Comptroller, has already overseen a public letter allowing nationally regulated banks to offer crypto custody and to handle accounts for stablecoin issuers. TAKEAWAY: Most of the air in crypto goes to securities- and commodities-markets regulators. For the non-regulated currencies that top the CoinDesk 20 list of crypto assets, bank regulation may be more significant as an enabler of infrastructure that professional investors need, in order to participate. 

Offshore crypto exchange operator Binance has sued Forbes and two of its journalists alleging defamation over a story on the so-called “Tai Chi” documents, reportedly leaked from inside Binance, detailing a strategy for regulatory misdirection in the U.S. TAKEAWAY: CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has been coy about his company’s corporate structure, refusing to say where Binance’s jurisdictional headquarters lie. It’s a sign of crypto infrastructure’s immaturity when one of the largest exchange operators won’t tell you what law they operate under.

Goldman Sachs expects the digital yuan, China’s planned national virtual currency, to reach 1.6 trillion rmb ($229 billion) in issuance and 19 trillion rmb ($2.7 trillion) in annual total payment value within 10 years. TAKEAWAY: If you think PayPal’s move to embrace bitcoin is exciting as an onramp to crypto, you should be frenzied over the opportunity presented by central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Their aptitude as a gateway drug depends heavily on structure and regulation, but the potential is there.

In Japan, 30 firms have announced a collaborative effort to issue a private digital yen and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), one of Japan’s largest banks, has announced plans to launch a blockchain payment network in 2021. TAKEAWAY: This looks quite different from China’s digital yuan (see above), but both are examples of ways in which digital currencies can reach mainstream banking and its customers. East Asian economies are ahead of the U.S. and Europe in this. If you think U.S. and EU adoption of this kind of technology seems far-fetched, please reflect that you probably said the same thing about text messaging in 2005.

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Bitcoin is ‘here to stay’ thanks to huge demand from millennials, BlackRock’s Rick Rieder says – Business Insider

Rick Rieder
  • Bitcoin is “is here to stay,” BlackRock’s chief investment officer of fixed income Rick Rieder told CNBC on Friday.
  • Rieder pointed to millenials openness to cryptocurrencies and digital payments as one reason why the popular crypto currency isn’t going anywhere.
  • While Rieder said he doesn’t own bitcoin in his own portfolio, he does see potential for bitcoin to “take the place of gold to a large extent,” according to the interview.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere, according to BlackRock’s CIO of fixed income Rick Rieder.

In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Rieder said bitcoin is “here to stay” thanks to millenials’ openness to the cryptocurrency and digital payments in general.

The comments come in a month where bitcoin has surged 37% to levels not seen since its run to just under $20,000 in December of 2017.

Rieder believes bitcoin has real potential to “replace gold to a large extent” given that it’s a durable mechanism for means of trade, more so than gold at least.

“[Bitcoin] is so much for functional than passing a bar of gold around,” Rieder said.

Read more: ‘I still think there’s a long way to go’: A crypto CEO breaks down why he’s bullish on Bitcoin even after its surge back to $18,000 – and shares the other cryptocurrency he thinks is here to stay

Rieder isn’t alone in that thinking. JPMorgan said it sees “considerable” upside in bitcoin as it better competes with gold as an alternative currency, according to a note from October.

JPMorgan said it sees millennials accelerating adoption of bitcoin, which will further its status as both a store of wealth and means of payment.

“Even a modest crowding out of gold as an ‘alternative’ currency over the longer term would imply doubling or tripling of the bitcoin price,” JPMorgan said.

Other investors weighing in on bitcoin’s rapid rise this year and where they see it going next include billionaire investors Chamath Palihapitiya Stanley Druckenmiller, and Ray Dalio.

While Rieder believes in the long term outlook of bitcoin, he has yet to add any to his investment portfolios, according to the interview. 

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 14 stocks well-positioned to see surging cash flow as the recovering economy upends the market

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Jeff Bezos-Backed African App Chipper Cash Launching Crypto Trading After Raising $30 Million | News – Bitcoin News

An African company backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Chipper Cash, has raised $30 million and is launching a cryptocurrency trading service due to high demand for cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. Users of Chipper Cash will be able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies as well as U.S. stocks, such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon, through the app.

Jeff Bezos-Backed Chipper Cash to Begin Offering Crypto Trading

African cross-border payments startup Chipper Cash has raised $30 million in a Series B funding round. It was led by venture capital firm Ribbit Capital, with the participation of Bezos Expeditions, the personal VC fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Founded in 2018 by Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled, the San Francisco-based Chipper Cash offers fee-free mobile P2P payment services. The services are available in seven African countries: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya. The app allows users to send and receive money across Africa. “Enjoy free transfers and the lowest cross-border rates,” its website describes.

The Chipper Cash platform has three million users and processes about 80,000 transactions daily on average. CEO Serunjogi said that in June the app reached a monthly payments value of $100 million.

Chipper Cash plans to use the funds raised to provide additional products and services as well as expand into more countries. “On the product side, that entails offering more business payment solutions, crypto-currency trading options, and investment services,” Techcrunch reported Thursday and quoted Serunjogi as saying:

We’ve had demand from our users to offer other value services … like purchasing cryptocurrency assets and making investments in stocks.

Chipper Cash has already added on its website and app the option to buy and sell bitcoin in beta. Users can also invest in U.S. stocks through the app from Africa via a partnership with U.S. financial services company Drivewealth.

The stock product will launch in Nigeria first and then expand to other countries, Serunjogi explained, adding that Nigerians will “have the option to buy fractional stocks — Tesla shares, Apple shares or Amazon shares and others — through our app.”

Bezos is now the world’s richest person. Forbes reported in August that the Amazon CEO became the world’s first-ever person to amass a $200 billion fortune.

Serunjogi believes that the backing of well-known investors such as Jeff Bezos benefits Africa as a whole. He opined: “It’s a big deal when a world class investor like Bezos or Ribbit goes out of their sweet spot to a new area where they previously haven’t done investments … Ultimately, the winner of those things happening is the African tech ecosystem overall, as it will bring more investment from firms of that caliber to African startups.”

What do you think about Jeff Bezos-backed Chipper Cash? Let us know in the comments section below.

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GoDaddy Employees Used in Attacks on Multiple Cryptocurrency Services – Krebs on Security

Fraudsters redirected email and web traffic destined for several cryptocurrency trading platforms over the past week. The attacks were facilitated by scams targeting employees at GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name registrar, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.

The incident is the latest incursion at GoDaddy that relied on tricking employees into transferring ownership and/or control over targeted domains to fraudsters. In March, a voice phishing scam targeting GoDaddy support employees allowed attackers to assume control over at least a half-dozen domain names, including transaction brokering site escrow.com.

And in May of this year, GoDaddy disclosed that 28,000 of its customers’ web hosting accounts were compromised following a security incident in Oct. 2019 that wasn’t discovered until April 2020.

This latest campaign appears to have begun on or around Nov. 13, with an attack on cryptocurrency trading platform liquid.com.

“A domain hosting provider ‘GoDaddy’ that manages one of our core domain names incorrectly transferred control of the account and domain to a malicious actor,” Liquid CEO Mike Kayamori said in a blog post. “This gave the actor the ability to change DNS records and in turn, take control of a number of internal email accounts. In due course, the malicious actor was able to partially compromise our infrastructure, and gain access to document storage.”

In the early morning hours of Nov. 18 Central European Time (CET), cyptocurrency mining service NiceHash disccovered that some of the settings for its domain registration records at GoDaddy were changed without authorization, briefly redirecting email and web traffic for the site. NiceHash froze all customer funds for roughly 24 hours until it was able to verify that its domain settings had been changed back to their original settings.

“At this moment in time, it looks like no emails, passwords, or any personal data were accessed, but we do suggest resetting your password and activate 2FA security,” the company wrote in a blog post.

NiceHash founder Matjaz Skorjanc said the unauthorized changes were made from an Internet address at GoDaddy, and that the attackers tried to use their access to its incoming NiceHash emails to perform password resets on various third-party services, including Slack and Github. But he said GoDaddy was impossible to reach at the time because it was undergoing a widespread system outage in which phone and email systems were unresponsive.

“We detected this almost immediately [and] started to mitigate [the] attack,” Skorjanc said in an email to this author. “Luckily, we fought them off well and they did not gain access to any important service. Nothing was stolen.”

Skorjanc said NiceHash’s email service was redirected to privateemail.com, an email platform run by Namecheap Inc., another large domain name registrar. Using Farsight Security, a service which maps changes to domain name records over time, KrebsOnSecurity instructed the service to show all domains registered at GoDaddy that had alterations to their email records in the past week which pointed them to privateemail.com. Those results were then indexed against the top one million most popular websites according to Alexa.com.

The result shows that several other cryptocurrency platforms also may have been targeted by the same group, including Bibox.com, Celsius.network, and Wirex.app. None of these companies responded to requests for comment.

In response to questions from KrebsOnSecurity, GoDaddy acknowledged that “a small number” of customer domain names had been modified after a “limited” number of GoDaddy employees fell for a social engineering scam. GoDaddy said the outage between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. PST on Nov. 17 was not related to a security incident, but rather a technical issue that materialized during planned network maintenance.

“Separately, and unrelated to the outage, a routine audit of account activity identified potential unauthorized changes to a small number of customer domains and/or account information,” GoDaddy spokesperson Dan Race said. “Our security team investigated and confirmed threat actor activity, including social engineering of a limited number of GoDaddy employees.

“We immediately locked down the accounts involved in this incident, reverted any changes that took place to accounts, and assisted affected customers with regaining access to their accounts,” GoDaddy’s statement continued. “As threat actors become increasingly sophisticated and aggressive in their attacks, we are constantly educating employees about new tactics that might be used against them and adopting new security measures to prevent future attacks.”

Race declined to specify how its employees were tricked into making the unauthorized changes, saying the matter was still under investigation. But in the attacks earlier this year that affected escrow.com and several other GoDaddy customer domains, the assailants targeted employees over the phone, and were able to read internal notes that GoDaddy employees had left on customer accounts.

What’s more, the attack on escrow.com redirected the site to an Internet address in Malaysia that hosted fewer than a dozen other domains, including the phishing website servicenow-godaddy.com. This suggests the attackers behind the March incident — and possibly this latest one — succeeded by calling GoDaddy employees and convincing them to use their employee credentials at a fraudulent GoDaddy login page.

In August 2020, KrebsOnSecurity warned about a marked increase in large corporations being targeted in sophisticated voice phishing or “vishing” scams. Experts say the success of these scams has been aided greatly by many employees working remotely thanks to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

A typical vishing scam begins with a series of phone calls to employees working remotely at a targeted organization. The phishers often will explain that they’re calling from the employer’s IT department to help troubleshoot issues with the company’s email or virtual private networking (VPN) technology.

The goal is to convince the target either to divulge their credentials over the phone or to input them manually at a website set up by the attackers that mimics the organization’s corporate email or VPN portal.

On July 15, a number of high-profile Twitter accounts were used to tweet out a bitcoin scam that earned more than $100,000 in a few hours. According to Twitter, that attack succeeded because the perpetrators were able to social engineer several Twitter employees over the phone into giving away access to internal Twitter tools.

An alert issued jointly by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) says the perpetrators of these vishing attacks compile dossiers on employees at their targeted companies using mass scraping of public profiles on social media platforms, recruiter and marketing tools, publicly available background check services, and open-source research.

The FBI/CISA advisory includes a number of suggestions that companies can implement to help mitigate the threat from vishing attacks, including:

• Restrict VPN connections to managed devices only, using mechanisms like hardware checks or installed certificates, so user input alone is not enough to access the corporate VPN.

• Restrict VPN access hours, where applicable, to mitigate access outside of allowed times.

• Employ domain monitoring to track the creation of, or changes to, corporate, brand-name domains.

• Actively scan and monitor web applications for unauthorized access, modification, and anomalous activities.

• Employ the principle of least privilege and implement software restriction policies or other controls; monitor authorized user accesses and usage.

• Consider using a formalized authentication process for employee-to-employee communications made over the public telephone network where a second factor is used to
authenticate the phone call before sensitive information can be discussed.

• Improve 2FA and OTP messaging to reduce confusion about employee authentication attempts.

• Verify web links do not have misspellings or contain the wrong domain.

• Bookmark the correct corporate VPN URL and do not visit alternative URLs on the sole basis of an inbound phone call.

• Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from unknown individuals claiming to be from a legitimate organization. Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information. If possible, try to verify the caller’s identity directly with the company.

• If you receive a vishing call, document the phone number of the caller as well as the domain that the actor tried to send you to and relay this information to law enforcement.

• Limit the amount of personal information you post on social networking sites. The internet is a public resource; only post information you are comfortable with anyone seeing.

• Evaluate your settings: sites may change their options periodically, so review your security and privacy settings regularly to make sure that your choices are still appropriate.



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Blackrock’s Chief Investment Officer: Cryptocurrency Is Here to Stay, Bitcoin Could Replace Gold | News – Bitcoin News

Blackrock’s Chief Investment Officer, Rick Rieder, said cryptocurrency, including bitcoin, “is here to stay.” In addition, he said bitcoin is a durable mechanism that could replace gold.

Blackrock on Bitcoin and Gold

Rick Rieder, Blackrock’s Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of Global Fixed Income, talked about bitcoin replacing gold in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday.

Blackrock is the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $7.4 trillion in assets under management as of September. Rieder is also Blackrock’s Head of the Global Allocation Investment Team in the Multi-Asset Strategies Group.

Responding to a question about the price of bitcoin and gold and whether he is a bitcoin bull, Rieder said:

I think cryptocurrency is here to stay.

Rieder elaborated: “I think it is durable, and you’ve seen the central banks that have talked about digital currencies. I think digital currency and the receptivity — particularly millennials’ receptivity — of technology and cryptocurrency is real. Digital payment systems are real, so I think bitcoin is here to stay.”

In terms of whether he is a bitcoin bull, Rieder said: “I don’t do a lot of it, or much any of it, in my portfolios, my corporate portfolios, my business portfolios.” While stating that “It’s hard to say whether it’s [bitcoin’s] worth the price it is trading at today,” he affirmed:

But do I think it is a durable mechanism that could replace gold to a large extent? Yeah I do, because it’s so much more functional than passing a bar of gold around.

Reid’s comments were very welcome in the crypto community. Former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Raoul Pal tweeted:

This is huge news. This is the largest asset management firm on earth. 2021 is setting up to be a year of severe supply shortages vs. demand in bitcoin, and upside price dislocations.

Thomas Lee, Head of Research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, commented that bitcoin is “killing it this year — it’s just crushing all other hedges and asset classes this year, but in 2021 I think bitcoin could be the year of the fireworks … the best is probably yet to come.”

The Blackrock chief investment officer’s comments followed a string of other hedge fund managers saying that they own bitcoin, including Paul Tudor Jones, Bill Miller, and Stan Druckenmiller.

What do you think about the Blackrock executive’s view on bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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XRP Rises More Than 30% as Altcoins Piggyback on Bitcoin’s Wave – CoinDesk – CoinDesk

XRP has surged to 16-month highs, leading a pack of cryptocurrencies all benefiting from bitcoin’s rally toward historic levels. 

XRP, the native asset of the XRP ledger, developed by payment-focused blockchain firm Ripple Labs, climbed to as high as $0.437564 before retreating to $0.413853 at press time, reaching the highest price point since July 2019, according to The CoinDesk 20.

The third-largest cryptocurrency by market value has gained over 33% in the past 24 hours, extending the year-to-date gain to 116%. 

Other alternative cryptocurrencies such as ether, litecoin, cardano , bitcoin SV, EOS, tezos and tron are also flashing green. Most of these coins have picked up a bullish momentum in the past few days, seemingly tracking bitcoin‘s fast move toward the record high of $19,783 reached in December 2017. 

“Altcoins are high beta assets and usually move in the same direction as bitcoin, but more,” trader and analyst Alex Kruger tweeted on Friday. Alternative cryptocurrencies can be considered as leveraged bitcoin plays, according to Kruger. 

Bitcoin, the top cryptocurrency by market capitalization, has charted a steep rally from $10,000 to nearly $19,000 in the past eight weeks. 

At the currency price of $18,736, bitcoin is a little over 5% from setting a new lifetime high, while XRP is still down about 89% from its record high of $3.84 set in January 2018, according to data source Messari. 

XRP and other altcoins may also be rising in reaction to a proposed rule by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that would forbid banks to blacklist legal industries – including, presumably, cryptocurrency firms.  The proposed rule is likely welcome news to businesses in the space, which have long struggled to obtain, or keep, bank accounts in the U.S.

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