What will save crypto?

Cryptocurrency technology has been on a tumultuous journey since its creation in 2009. According to a recent New York Times article, bitcoin enthusiasts in the U.S. wrongly predicted the involvement of Wall Street institutions and investors in cryptocurrency, which would have given it legitimacy. Instead, the opposite effect has taken place: big investors have avoided crypto because of its volatility, as shown by bitcoin’s devastating drop in price last year.

Elsewhere in the world, particularly in the Middle East and among major Muslim communities, there is a growing curiosity surrounding cryptocurrency — and a call for regulation that deals with the stigmas against it. There are about 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, and the global Islamic economy with the inclusion of crypto tools, services and products could equate to approximately US$3 trillion by 2021. If we are able to work through the challenges and implement crypto for a Muslim audience, the addressable market for crypto could increase exponentially. 

But since its inception, Muslim leaders and communities have debated on whether or not cryptocurrencies should be deemed halal or haram, permissible or forbidden. Shariah-compliant finance is a fundamental part of Islamic tradition, and it’s the primary reason why Islamic countries have been so dubious of the new currency.

The challenge of Shariah compliance

Shariah compliance refers to finances and investments that adhere to Islamic law. This includes prohibiting riba, or charged Read the rest

‘Crypto exchange’ Goxtrade caught using other people’s photos on its staff page

Alleged cryptocurrency exchange Goxtrade bills itself as a “trusted platform for trading bitcoins,” but its staff page is filled with photos of people pulled seemingly at random from the internet.

The alleged exchange, which claimed to debut in 2017 yet its website is only a little more than a week old, used photos taken from social media profiles and other company websites not associated with the company.

Bizarrely, the alleged exchange didn’t bother to change all of the names of the people whose photos it used.

Amber Baldet, co-founder of Clovyr, a prominent figure in the blockchain community, and listed in Fortune’s 40 Under 40, was one of the people whose name and photos appeared on the site.

“Fraud alert: I am not a developer at Goxtrade and probably their entire business is a lie,” she tweeted Friday.

Nearly all of the names are accurate but have no connection to the site (Image: TechCrunch)

Goxtrade claims to be an exchange that lets users “receive, send and trade cryptocurrency.” After we created an account and signed in, it’s not clear if the site even works. But the online chat room has hundreds of messages of users trying to trade their cryptocurrencies. The site’s name appears to associate closely with Mt. Gox, a failed cryptocurrency exchange that collapsed after it was hacked. At its 2014 peak, the exchange handled more than 70% of all bitcoin transactions. More than $450 million in bitcoins were stolen in the apparent breach.

Baldet isn’t the only person wrongly associated with the suspect site.

TechCrunch has confirmed the other photos on the site belong to other people seemingly chosen at random — including a claims specialist in Illinois, a lawyer in Germany and an operations manager in Melbourne.

Another person whose photo was used without … Read the rest

Openfinance opens up US trading of third-party digital assets

Openfinance, the secondary market for trading digital alternative assets, announced it will be opening up trading of third-party digital securities to U.S. Investors, making it the first trading platform to do so.

The company already supported the trading of third-party digital securities (securities that have been migrated onto the blockchain that are now traded on Openfinance’s blockchain-based platform) in Europe, but was unable to provide the same capability in the U.S. due to minimum holding periods for new tokenized securities required by U.S. regulators.

Now that the holding periods are up for two of the first security token assets traded on Openfinance — Blockchain Capital’s BCAP security token and SPiCE VC’s SPiCE token — both accredited and non-accredited investors in the U.S. will be able to access and trade both securities through the Openfinance network.

The BCAP and SPiCE tokens are the first of several digital securities that will soon be tradeable through Openfinance, as minimum holding periods conclude for a multitude of other assets that are currently tradable for the platform’s non-U.S. investors.

As a result, Openfinance will be able to relieve significant pain points for those looking to sell digital alternative assets, who often are forced to sell at prices significantly below the asset’s true value due to poor liquidity.

“The ability for U.S. investors to trade these digital assets and access liquidity marks a significant next step in the evolution of the digital securities market,” said Openfinance founder and CEO Juan Hernandez.

The launch is one of several firsts for Openfinance, which was also the first company to facilitate a secondary market for tokenized securities, and was also the first secondary market for digital alternative assets to become regulated by U.S. agencies.

Unlike previous players in the digital securities space that seemed averse to Read the rest

Binance resumes trading following $40M bitcoin hack

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has resumed trading activity. Users can now cancel open orders, deposit crypto assets into their Binance account and, of course, buy and sell cryptocurrencies. You can’t withdraw crypto assets to an external wallet just yet, but the company says that this feature will be available shortly.

Last week, the company suffered from a data breach that resulted in hackers stealing the equivalent of more than $40 million in bitcoin. Hackers stole API keys, two-factor codes and other information in order to transfer more than 7,000 bitcoins to their own wallets. Binance covered the bitcoins lost with its own funds.

Shortly after the company noticed the hack, the company blocked some features on the platform in order to perform a security review. In particular, withdrawals and deposits have been frozen for a week so that hackers can’t steal more crypto assets.

Given that anybody can track the stolen bitcoins by looking up transactions on the bitcoin blockchain, Binance has been talking with other exchanges in order to track and freeze the stolen assets.

Binance’s own cryptocurrency BNB is currently trading up 19.6% against bitcoin compared to 24 hours ago.

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Binance pledges to ‘significantly’ increase security following $40M Bitcoin hack

Binance has vowed to raise the quality of its security in the aftermath of a hack that saw thieves make off with more than $40 million in Bitcoin from the exchange.

The company — which is widely believed to operate the world’s largest crypto exchange based on trading volumes — said today that it will “significantly revamp” its security measures, procedures and practices in response. In particular, CEO Changpeng Zhao wrote in a blog post that Binance will make “significant changes to the API, 2FA, and withdrawal validation areas, which was an area exploited by hackers during this incident.”

Speaking on a live stream following the disclosure of the hack earlier this week, Zhao said the hackers had been “very patient” and, in addition to targeting high-net-worth Binance users, he suggested the attack used both internal and external vectors. That might well mean phishing, and that’s an area where Zhao has pledged to work on “more innovative ways” to combat threats, alongside improved KYC and better user and threat analysis.

“We are working with a dozen or so industry-leading security expert teams to help improve our security as well as track down the hackers,” Zhao wrote. He added that other exchanges are helping as best they can to track and freeze the stolen assets.

The real focus must be to look forward, and in that spirit, Binance said it will soon add support for hardware-based two-factor-authentication keys as a method to log in to its site.

That’s probably long overdue and, perhaps to make up for the delay, Zhao said the company plans to give away 1,000 YubiKeys when the feature goes live. That’s a worthy gesture, but unless Binance is giving out a discount code to redeem on the website directly, security purists would likely recommend users buy their … Read the rest