Thanks for joining us for this edition of our news roundup, where we’ll be sharing the latest on Bitfinex’s recovery post-hack, and bitcoin’s status as a legal form of payment in Japan. We’ve also got headlines on DarkWallet co-creator Amir Taaki’s reappearance and the AsicBoost controversy. Continue reading for all the details!
Bitfinex’s full post-hack recovery
Last August’s hacking of major exchange, Bitfinex, resulted in a loss of 120,000 bitcoins, worth $72 million USD at the time. The hack was the second largest security breach seen by a bitcoin exchange and it shook the global bitcoin community. To properly record customer losses (minus an evenly distributed 36% loss), Bitfinex distributed BFX tokens. And as per their recent blog post, Bitfinex reported that due to a combination of factors, they were able to redeem all remaining tokens and make a “full recovery in just eight months.” As per their word, the final buy-back occurred at 20:00:00 UTC and fund requests settled in about 45 minutes.
At 20:00:00 UTC, #Bitfinex will be redeeming 100% of all currently issued and outstanding BFX tokens. See announcement for more details.
— Bitfinex.com (@bitfinex) April 3, 2017
In other exchange-related headlines, New Zealanders upset about bitNZ’s unfortunate shut down in February will be excited to learn that BitPrime, an NZ-based bitcoin trading platform, has officially launched. Users can buy and sell bitcoin with bank transfers, cash deposits, and in-person at their Christchurch location. BitPrime uses LocalBitcoins as their third-party escrow partner as a way to hold funds before releasing them, and currently maintains a 100% feedback score on their LocalBitcoins profile.
Also on a super optimistic front, cryptocurrency-only exchange ShapeShift announced they’ve raised $10.4 million in a Series A investment round. The exchange, which supports over 40 digital currencies and assets, hopes to use the Series A funds to continue to build the team “to keep up with [the company’s] rapid growth”. More exciting Series A news comes from hardware wallet, Ledger, which raised $7 million. With over 50,000 units sold so far, the company is hoping to move beyond hardware wallets to provide security solutions for companies in sensitive industries.
DarkWallet’s founder reemerges; Greg Maxwell warns against AsicBoost
The co-creator of highly anticipated ultra-stealth bitcoin wallet, DarkWallet, has recently emerged from nearly two years of silence. It was revealed by several headlines including this Wired article, that Amir Taaki, one of the bitcoin community’s most talented software engineers, spent 15 months in Syria fighting against the Islamic State. The self-described anarchist revolutionary had the intent of offering his technical expertise, but instead ended up on the front lines for three and a half of those months. Upon his return to the UK, Taaki was placed under house arrest and further investigation by British police due to his involvement in Syria. Reportedly, Taaki has begun planning DarkWallet’s next steps and is eager to pursue his work once he can leave the UK.
As we wait and see what the future brings for DarkWallet, a new controversy has surfaced as Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell revealed news about “unfair practices” that may cause “inequality in the mining process” and prevent important network improvements, like SegWit. He was referring to the use of AsicBoost, a patent pending technology created by cryptographer Timo Hanke and security expert Sergio Demian Lerner, which allows miners “to mine roughly 20% faster than competitors.” Maxwell’s greatest concerns are when AsicBoost is used covertly; in such instances, “[it] is not easily detected except through its interference with the [bitcoin] protocol.” Critics of AsicBoost share Maxwell’s concerns about its unfair advantage suggesting it could encourage the centralization of mining, though others say it’s merely an optimization for mining technology.
Bitcoin acceptance in Japan; confusion about legal status in India
Last year, regulators in Japan announced a proposal to handle bitcoin in the same manner as conventional currencies. Just over a year later, bitcoin is now a legal form of payment in Japan. While this means more red tape for bitcoin exchanges, the legislative endorsement is considered a significant step forward for bitcoin’s legitimacy. Shortly after the new legislation kicked in, asia.nikkei.com reported that two large Japanese retail groups already have plans in the works to allow customers to pay in bitcoin. If things go well, it’s possible bitcoin will be accepted at over 260,000 shops in Japan this summer. A Business Insider article speculates this new treatment of bitcoin in Japan may be what sparked the recent price jump.
Indeed, Japan has become a major industry leader for digital assets. In contrast, the state of bitcoin in India has been a source for confusion. Union Minister of State in Finance, Arjun Ram Meghwal, made a statement that was misconstrued by a number of media outlets to mean bitcoin was deemed illegal in India. According to several sources including Medianama and the country’s largest bitcoin exchange, ZebPay, Meghwal’s statement is not a declaration of bitcoin’s legality, but a reference to the fact that it is unregulated and thus using it comes with risks attached.
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