Cryptocurrency news roundup, March 3, 2018
This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments.
ING Group reveals Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex has an account with it
Dutch financial services company ING recently revealed that popular cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has a bank account with it. Ever since the exchange saw Wells Fargo sever ties with it last April, it wasn’t clear where it was banking, which led to various rumors that it was using Tether, a company issuing tokens pegged to the US dollar, to cover up insolvency by pumping Bitcoin’s price.
According to Reuters, an ING spokesperson revealed that the bank performed “more extensive due diligence” on transactions conducted by cryptocurrency firms. It isn’t clear when Bitfinex opened the account at ING, nor is it clear whether the company has dollars to back up all circulating Tethers. ING’s spokesperson stated:
- “With companies that are active in the crypto market we are very reserved … not with companies that are in traditional markets and receive or do payments with cryptocurrencies, but with parties that are in the chain of cryptocurrencies.”
Ethereum chief Vitalik Buterin warns cryptocurrencies could “drop to near-zero at any time”
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin tweeted out this week that cryptocurrencies are still a hyper-volatile asset class, one that “could drop to near-zero at any time.” His advice to potential investors is to not put in more money than they can afford to lose, and to store their life savings in traditional assets, as these are still a safe bet.
In response, some users claimed Buterin was exaggerating, while others claimed no investment was completely safe, adding that they’d rather risk and lose, than do nothing.
Venezuela launches pre-sale of oil-backed cryptocurrency Petro, announces Petro Gold
The Venezuelan government announced the Petro (PTR), an oil-backed cryptocurrency, back in December. It was created as a way to bypass sanctions and fight the “economic war” with the US. According to local source Telesur, a total of 82.4 million Petros are initially available, and the token is set to be accepted by the Venezuelan government as a payment method. One day after the cryptocurrency’s pre-sale began, Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro claimed it netted $735 million, without proving it. Shortly after, Maduro announced yet another cryptocurrency, the Petro Gold, which is set to be backed by precious metals. He stated:
- “Next week I‘m going to launch the petro gold, backed by gold, which is even more powerful, that will strengthen the petro.”
Turkey, Iran to launch their own national cryptocurrencies
Shortly after Veenezuela’s Petro launched, other countries started to show they were looking into launching their own national cryptocurrencies. Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revealed that the country’s Post Bank was working on a cryptocurrency. Per the CoinTelegraph, a lawmaker stated.
- “In a meeting with the board of directors of Post Bank on digital currencies based on the blockchain, I […] prescribed […] measures to implement the country’s first cloud-based digital currency.”
Middle-Eastern news website Al-Monitor also revealed that a Turkish lawmaker for the country’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) recently endorsed launching a “national Bitcoin,” dubbed “Turkcoin.” The cryptocurrency is described in a 22-page report that hasn’t yet been made public, and would be backed by the country’s wealth fund.
Poland’s central bank funded a smear campaign against cryptocurrencies
The Central Bank of Poland recently admitted to sponsoring a smear campaign against cryptocurrencies, according to Money.pl. The campaign essentially saw popular Polish YouTubers create videos against cryptocurrencies, after getting paid by the central bank to do so. In one of the controversial videos, YouTuber Marcin Dubiel loses his date and ends up losing all of his money because of cryptocurrencies, and has a dramatic ending in which an evil version of himself counts all his fiat profits.
Notably, it has come to light that the anti-cryptocurrency campaign was orchestrated by YouTube partner network Gamellon. Poland’s central bank paid 91,000 Zloty (roughly $27,000) for the campaign, and saw it include the hashtag #uważajnakryptowaluty on the videos, pointing to a government website warning users against cryptocurrencies. The fact that the video was a paid promotion was never disclosed, and in the country it is illegal to create sponsored content without explicitly mentioning it. Money.pl further claims another YouTube channel, with over 1.5 million subscribers, received money to do a video on differences between fiat and Bitcoin.
Bank of America reveals it considers Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies a threat to its business
Bank of America, one of the world’s largest banks and the second biggest one in the United States in terms of total assets, recently revealed through an annual report that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a threat to its business model. The report, filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), lists a wide range of operational, geopolitical, and economic risks the bank faces in this new fiscal year. The bank, which recently stopped customers from being able to purchase cryptocurrencies with credit cards, wrote that similar moves could cost clients in the future.
The financial institution further admitted that cryptocurrencies and other fintech innovations could force it to “make substantial expenditures” to update its services and remain competitive. The report reads:
- “The widespread adoption of new technologies, including internet services, cryptocurrencies and payment systems, could require substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our existing products and services.”
Bitcoin at $9,859 as markets turn red
This week Bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, was seemingly recovering back its previous highs, before the price started tumbling again as the markets turned red. At press time, one Bitcoin is currently trading at $9,859, after recently falling from the $10,000 mark. Bitcoin’s market cap is $166 billion, and its market share of the cryptocurrency ecosystem is of 38.6%.
Ethereum falls to $836, maintains its position as second biggest cryptocurrency
Ethereum’s Ether token saw its value drop to $836 this week, as its market cap is now of $81 billion. The cryptocurrency fell from a $975 weekly high, as it seemingly didn’t manage to get to the $1,000 mark, according to data from CoinMarketCap. Ethereum’s market share of the cryptocurrency ecosystem is 18.8%