Telegram Attacks Apple, Musk on Crypto, WEF Debrief: Hodler’s Digest, Jan 20–26


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Coming every Sunday, Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

World Economic Forum debuts framework for central bank digital currency

It was a c-c-c-cold week in Davos, but Cointelegraph’s reporters wrapped up warm to bring you all the news from the World Economic Forum. One particularly big announcement saw the WEF unveil a central bank digital currency policymaker toolkit. The framework, created in tandem with central banks, is designed to help policymakers understand whether deploying a CBDC would be advantageous. In other developments, a global consortium has been formed to focus on developing interoperable, transparent and inclusive policy approaches to regulating digital currencies. At the start of the week, the European Union and five major central banks — the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland — announced they were planning to team up on their research for CBDCs.

WEF: Facebook’s Libra pushed world to reconsider USD as global reserve currency

Elsewhere in the snowy hills of Davos, global economists begrudgingly admitted that Libra had played an instrumental role in getting the world to evaluate CBDCs — and to challenge the U.S. dollar’s role as an anchor currency. On a panel exploring the issue, Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said new technologies like blockchain are paving the way for future currencies to be digital. Others, such as the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath, cautioned that the dollar still remains attractive because it “provides the best stability and safety.” David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s Calibra wallet, was speaking at another WEF panel. He questioned whether “wholesale” CBDCs would solve any problems in the global economy, and argued that a retail-focused approach is the best way to tackle an “unacceptable” situation where 1.7 billion people are unbanked and another 1 billion underserved. Whether Libra will be that solution remains to be seen.

WEF: Ripple CEO hints at IPO, says more crypto firms will go public in 2020

And we’ve just got time for one final morsel of gossip from Davos. Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has predicted that initial public offerings will become more prevalent in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space in 2020 — and he hinted his company would be among those seeking a public flotation. “We’re not going to be the first and we’re not going to be the last, but I expect us to be on the leading side,” he said. Such a move could be instrumental in building confidence with mainstream investors and secure a pivot away from controversial initial coin offerings, which have seen young startups suffer often expensive run-ins with regulators such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Tether launches gold-backed stablecoin and begins trading on Bitfinex

Of course, plenty of news has been happening away from Davos. Tether has announced it is now supporting a gold-backed stablecoin, where one token represents ownership of a troy ounce of physical gold. The funds are said to be backed by physical gold held in a “Switzerland vault” — and the product is available as an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, as well as a TRC-20 token on Tron. Plans for commodity-backed Tethers have been in place for some time, but the company has often been criticized for its opaque approach to reserve management. A high-profile class-action lawsuit recently accused the company of market manipulation in 2017. Tether reserves were also allegedly used to cover a liquidity shortfall.

Elon Musk reveals his true opinion on Bitcoin and crypto

Tesla’s CEO may be constantly cryptic on his attitudes toward crypto, but this week, we got a little insight into Elon Musk’s thinking. On a podcast, the billionaire said he’s “neither here nor there on Bitcoin,” acknowledged Satoshi’s white paper was “pretty clever,” and warned his stance on cryptocurrencies often “gets the crypto people angry.” Musk added: “You must have a legal to illegal bridge. So, where I see crypto is effectively as a replacement for cash. I do not see crypto being the primary database [for transactions].” Musk has been known to write short tweets about crypto that were widely interpreted as jokes. Last year, he unexpectedly declared himself as the new CEO of Dogecoin — a gesture that helped the joke coin clock short-lived gains of 35%.

Winners and Losers

At the end of the week, Bitcoin is at $8,450.74, Ether at $163.88 and XRP at $0.22. The total market cap is at $233,388,704,913.

Among the biggest 1,000 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Polybius, Prometheus and Eureka Coin. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Q DAO Governance, OVCODE and CannabisCoin.

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For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“I think there’s a lot of things that are illegal that shouldn’t be illegal. I think that sometimes governments just have too many laws about the missions that they should have, and shouldn’t have so many things that are illegal.”

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO

“So then there is the new technology, the digital, the blockchain. […] The Libra episode is just evoking a future digital currency.”

Paulo Guedes, Brazil’s economy minister

“When we started this journey almost six months ago, the whole idea was not around a certain way of doing things, but more around ‘let’s come together and try to figure out how we solve a problem that is unacceptable’ — 1.7 billion people who are currently unbanked, another billion underserved.”

David Marcus, Calibra CEO

“Given the critical roles central banks play in the global economy, any central bank digital currency implementation, including potentially with blockchain technology, will have a profound impact domestically and internationally.”

Sheila Warren, World Economic Forum head of blockchain

“In the next 12 months, you’ll see IPOs in the crypto/blockchain space. We’re not going to be the first and we’re not going to be the last, but I expect us to be on the leading side… it’s a natural evolution for our company.”

Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple CEO

“My #Bitcoin mystery is solved. I mistook my pin for my password. When Blockchain updated their app I got logged out. I [tried] logging back in using my pin, which was the only ‘password’ I had ever known or used. I also never had a copy of my seed phrase. Honest but costly mistake!”

Peter Schiff, crypto skeptic and gold bug

“iCloud is now officially a surveillance tool. Apps that are relying on it to store your private messages (such as WhatsApp) are part of the problem.”

Pavel Durov, Telegram founder and CEO

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FUD of the Week

Greece extradites alleged launderer of $4 billion in BTC, Alexander Vinnik, to France

A Russian national accused of heading a group that laundered $4 billion in Bitcoin has been extradited from Greece to France. Alexander Vinnik formerly operated the now-shuttered exchange BTC-e and is believed to have a direct relationship to the infamous hack of Mt. Gox. The case has risked triggering a diplomatic row, with Russia filing several requests to bring him under its jurisdiction. Lawyers writing on behalf of Vinnik’s young children had submitted a complaint to a Greek court at the start of the week in an attempt to prevent the extradition. Reports now suggest that Vinnik is being held at a hospital in Paris. His legal representative Zoe Konstantopoulou said: “In every way the government is trying to scare him, terrorize him, in a moment of great agony, while his health has worsened.”

India’s central bank says it hasn’t banned crypto

The Reserve Bank of India has said restrictions on regulated entities offering crypto assets do not equate to an overall ban. In a document submitted to the country’s supreme court back in September, which has now been made public, the institution said: “The RBI has not prohibited VCs (virtual currencies) in the country. The RBI has directed the entities regulated by it to not provide services to those persons or entities dealing in or settling VCs.” All of this comes as a landmark case against the RBI concludes its second week. Hearings are set to resume on Jan. 28.

Peter Schiff bungled wallet password, solving “Bitcoin mystery”

Long-running crypto skeptic and gold bug Peter Schiff is likely to be even more skeptical after losing access to his funds. At first, he believed his wallet was corrupted — but he later found out that he mistook his PIN for his password, and he was unable to log in after an app update because he had never taken a copy of his seed phrase. Many in the crypto community have criticized Schiff for making a rookie mistake, with Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao quipping: “I can’t believe I am about to say this, but maybe ‘stay in fiat?’” In recent days, CZ has said that keeping assets on an exchange is often safer than keeping the keys themselves — but those who have fallen victims to hacks on these platforms may not be so quick to agree.

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Telegram CEO: Apple’s iCloud is “now officially a surveillance tool”

Pavel Durov, the founder and CEO of Telegram, has claimed that Apple’s cloud service iCloud is “now officially a surveillance tool.” His stinging rebuke followed reports that the tech giant dropped plans for end-to-end encryption on iCloud two years ago — apparently following complaints from the FBI. This ultimately means that backed-up texts from iMessage, WhatsApp and other encrypted services remain available to Apple employees and authorities. Telegram has been positioning itself as a global fighter for privacy — and in 2018, it refused to give Russian authorities the encryption keys to user accounts, prompting as-of-yet unfulfilled threats that the app would be blocked “in the near future.”

Best Cointelegraph Features

SEC goes head-to-head with Telegram, makes a guinea pig of TON

The Chamber of Digital Commerce submitted a legal document to the court overseeing the hearing between Telegram and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Shiraz Jagati looks at what it says.

Effect of CME futures options on BTC price depends on halving

CME Group has launched new Bitcoin options — further uplifting the institutional infrastructure supporting the asset class. Joseph Young writes that it’s a net positive for the crypto community, and the upcoming “halving” could make things more interesting.

Adam Back on Satoshi emails, privacy concerns and Bitcoin’s early days

Cassio Gusson has caught up with Adam Back to discuss the early years of Bitcoin, his emails with Satoshi Nakamoto and privacy — 11 years after BTC’s release.


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Cryptocurrencies have always faced challenges when it comes to reducing risk and making themselves regulatory compliant for traditional investors. Providing custody for Bitcoin and others is becoming increasingly more complex due to the nature of crypto: whoever has control of the asset, owns the asset. While users typically had to store their own BTC private keys when the cryptocurrency was launched, now there are more solutions like cypherpunk storage and crypto banks like Coinbase.  

At present, crypto custody solutions range from: 

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Copper and Binance are such exchanges offering custody for cryptocurrencies, and the former just received a huge boost in the UK this week. CoinDesk reported that the London-based startup has raised $8 million in a Series A round which included venture capital firms like MMC…

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Four Telcos Test Blockchain Solution To Automate Roaming Discounts


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A group of four international telecommunications companies are currently testing a blockchain-based solution to automate the management of inter-operator roaming discount agreements. According to a report published on Feb. 17 by Mobile Europe, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile US, Telefonica and Orange say the solution vastly reduces the complexity of the current system, and is “production ready.”

Simplifying to allow scaling

The new solution revamps a process that hasn’t changed in many years and involves drafting, signing and manually implementing agreements for discounted roaming charges.

Automating this workflow speeds up and streamlines this process. Use of blockchain means that the terms of the agreement cannot subsequently be altered.

New technologies were set to make the existing process even more complex, as Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President of Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, explained:

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Bithumb to Get Wall Street-Level Fintech Expertise via New Partnership


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As not a day goes by without another cryptocurrency partnership, one of the biggest crypto exchanges in South Korea has begun new cooperation.

Major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has partnered with Singaporean crypto trading platform BitMax to jointly develop new services and products.

BitMax’s staff includes former experts from Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Gemini

According to a Feb. 17 blog post by Bithumb Official, the two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to bring their forces together to build new services and strengthen their competitiveness in the global market. As part of the MoU, Bithumb and BitMax will be sharing their expertise with one another to actively cooperate in the development of blockchain and crypto-related technologies and infrastructure.

In the announcement, Bithumb emphasized that BitMax’s founding team includes quant trading experts from Wall Street…

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Binance Cloud to Allow Users to Launch a Crypto Exchange Within 5 Days


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Binance’s newly released Binance Cloud platform might be somewhat different from what the crypto industry expects the new feature to be.

After Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) first hinted at the introduction of Binance Cloud on Feb. 8, the new service has been officially released on Feb. 17, targeting users willing to set up crypto exchanges, according to a blog post by Binance.

All-in-one infrastructure for launching a crypto exchange

According to the announcement, Binance Cloud will serve as an all-in-one infrastructure platform for customers and partners to launch digital asset exchanges based on Binance’s industry-leading technology, security, liquidity as well as custodial services. The solution also supports dashboard for managing funds, multilingual functionality, as well as a range of trading pairs and coin listings.

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New Email Extortion Scam Targets Google’s AdSense, Demands Bitcoin


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A new extortion scam targeting website owners serving banner ads through Google’s AdSense program has begun circulating the Internet. The malicious scheme demands Bitcoin (BTC) in exchange for preventing an attack, which would purportedly lead to the users’ AdSense account suspension.

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Blockchain Deployment Rises Amid Coronavirus Outbreak


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Amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, China has turned to blockchain technology to manage medical data, track supply of virus prevention materials and consult the public.

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Blockchain is on guard for medical data security

Local authorities noted that blockchain lets them effectively track and secure collected information. Thus, Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, applies the tech for online consultation and screening, as well as securely manage health records. In Hangzhou, tech company Vastchain Technology rolled out a WeChat-based program dubbed Access Pass. The program generates a…

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Bitcoin Price Dips Below $9.5K as Whale Deposits 600 BTC to BitMEX


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Bitcoin (BTC) fell below $9,500 for the first time in almost two weeks on Feb. 17 as downward pressure continued to pressure markets.

Crypto market weekly price chart

Crypto market weekly price chart. Source: Coin360

BTC further rejects $10K

Data from Coin360 and Cointelegraph Markets showed BTC/USD hitting twelve-day lows of $9,485 on Monday. At press time, the BTC price was struggling to find support at $9,500. 

The shift lower followed a four-day slide for Bitcoin, which had topped out at $10,500 before seeing considerable resistance kick in. 

Some traders appeared worried, as evidenced by a single deposit onto derivatives giant BitMEX on Monday, which totaled 600 BTC ($5.72 million).

Weekly losses totaled around 3.5% on the day, while monthly performance remained strong at 7% growth.

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India’s Citizens Will Vote With Blockchain, Election Commissioner Says


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India’s citizens will soon be able to cast votes from outside their city of registration thanks to a blockchain-based system.

According to The Times of India on Feb. 13, India’s Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that the country hopes to increase voter turnout with a blockchain-based voting solution.

Using blockchain to prevent “lost votes”

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