Announcements, Stories, Opinions And Ideas

The HyperLinq Weekly Digest is the one-stop source for the HyperLinq community to access relevant news involving digital assets, where we essentially outline key industry updates that our members may have missed. We are always open to suggestions and feedback so please do not hesitate to let us know what you think!

US Rep Sherman Calls for Crypto Ban, Says It Threatens to Diminish American Power : Marie Huillet | CoinTelegraph

United States Congressman Brad Sherman has called on colleagues to outlaw cryptocurrencies, saying they threaten to disempower American foreign policy and diminish the rule of law. Crypto-oriented non-profit Coin Center tweeted the remarks of the congressman, a Democratic representative for California's 30th congressional district, on May 9. Crypto’s threat, he claimed, forebodes no less than a shake-up of America’s geopolitical influence due to its potential diminishing of the power of its sovereign currency. To illustrate the dollar’s current hegemony, Sherman noted that in many key global markets such as oil, clearing via the New York Federal Reserve remains critical for major transactions. The congressman continued to outline the purportedly negative impact of cryptocurrencies should they gain traction as a global unit of value. As reported, Sherman had previously called for a prohibition on U.S. citizens buying or mining cryptocurrencies. He had also remarked of the supporters of initial coin offerings that "charlatans and scammers have always favored decentralized new enterprises". In March 2018, he claimed that cryptocurrencies are a crock whose value lies in aiding terrorists and criminals.

Indian Crypto Exchange Coinome Halts Services Citing Regulatory Pressure : Marie Huillet | CoinTelegraph

Indian cryptocurrency exchange Coinome has announced it will be halting operations as of May 15, ostensibly due to regulatory difficulties. The development was announced in an official tweet from the exchange on May 9. As Cointelegraph has reported, exchanges in the country have faced a moratorium on banking services since the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, implemented a ban on dealings with crypto businesses last year. Coinome, which is backed by prominent Indian online payments gateway Billdesk, has not clarified whether the suspension is in effect a total shuttering of services. Coinome’s difficulties come despite its association with Billdesk, which notably is supervised by RBI, is a participant under the country’s Payments and Settlements Systems Act 2007, and has investments from two of India's leading public sector banks — State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda. In October 2018, major exchange Zebpay was forced to its doors to its Indian customers due to RBI’s policy. As the lengthy legal battle continues, this February, the Supreme Court granted four weeks to authorities to come up with crypto regulation policies before the Court would cease hearing crypto-related cases — including parties who demand to reverse the RBI’s crypto circular. This spring, RBI excluded crypto assets from its regulatory sandbox.

You Can Now Short Uber With Bitcoin : Abhimanyu Krishnan | InvestInBlockchain

Swiss-based trading exchange, WCX, has announced that, from May 10, users on the platform will be able to long and short Uber stocks during Uber’s Initial Public Offering (IPO). The official release by WCX states,

"The IPO is expected to value the company at over $90B. While the company has yet to turn a profit, many signs are pointing to its increasing success. New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is working hard to reinvent the brand’s image and reignite trust in the business model. Uber is also betting big on technologies such as self-driving cars and food delivery which would allow it to keep scaling its business internationally."

Users will be able to use bitcoin to make predictions go long and short on Uber.

Uber, which already has a tie-up with popular project Basic Attention Token (BAT), as users can redeem their BAT tokens for gift cards that can be used with Uber.

Facebook Reverses Ban On Cryptocurrency Ads : Mitchell Moos | CryptoSlate

Facebook announced in a blog post on May 8 that it will once again allow advertising related to cryptocurrency and blockchain. Previously, only a limited number of pre-approved advertisers were permitted to run crypto-related ads. In 2017, as money poured into the sector scams proliferated. ICOs with cobbled together WordPress websites and unverifiable, and oftentimes faked, teams were able to raise hundreds of millions from unsuspecting investors. Facebook was one of these hotbeds for crypto-related advertising. To combat the sudden explosion of dubious advertisements on the platform, in January of 2018 following the peak of the market, Facebook announced a new policy which outright banned cryptocurrency ads, saying that these ads were frequently «misleading or deceptive». Facebook was not the only company to combat crypto ads. Google banned cryptocurrency ads in March of 2018, a few months after Facebook’s decision. Google followed close behind and loosened its crypto-related ad policy in September. Although cryptocurrency ads are once again permitted on Facebook, advertisements for initial coin offerings will still be rejected. If history proves accurate, Google may follow Facebook’s lead and once again allow cryptocurrency advertising. Overall, the move is indicative of maturity in the cryptocurrency markets.

Hackers Steal Over $40 Million Worth of Bitcoin From One of the World's Largest Cryptocurrency Exchanges : Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

Hackers have stolen over $40 million worth of bitcoin from Binance, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, the company said on Tuesday. Binance said the hackers ran off with over 7,000 bitcoin and used a variety of attack methods to carry out the "large scale security breach". They also managed to get some user information such as two-factor authentication codes, which are required to log in to a Binance account. The cryptocurrency exchange was able to trace the stolen bitcoin to a single wallet and said,

"The hackers had the patience to wait, and execute well-orchestrated actions through multiple seemingly independent accounts at the most opportune time, The transaction was structured in a way that passed our existing security checks. Once executed, the withdrawal triggered various alarms in our system. We stopped all withdrawals immediately after that."

Binance said the theft occurred from the company's so-called "hot wallet", which accounts for about 2% of its total bitcoin holdings. A "hot wallet" is one that is connected to the internet as opposed to a "cold" one which stores digital coins offline. Deposits and withdrawals on Binance's platform will remain suspended but trading will be allowed. Binance also warned that hackers may still control certain user accounts and may use those to influence prices. However, the company said that it will cover the incident in full and no users' funds will be affected.

Thai Central Bank Builds Blockchain Solution for Digital Currency Project : Yogita Khatri | CoinDesk

The Bank of Thailand, the country’s central bank, has moved ahead with its digital currency project by building a blockchain-based prototype solution. The solution will enable the central bank to settle interbank transactions using a digital currency among its eight commercial bank partners. They built the prototype as part of the central bank’s digital currency project, called lnthanon. Wipro and blockchain enterprise software firm R3 on Corda platform provided development services. The BoT first revealed the project in June, seeking to create its own blockchain-based cryptocurrency to make interbank transactions both faster and cheaper. In August, the central bank said that the ultimate goal of the effort is to also "enhance efficiency of the Thai financial market infrastructure." The project’s banking partners include Bangkok Bank Public, Krung Thai, Siam Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC, among others.

Messaging Giant WeChat Bans Merchant Users From Crypto Trading : Wolfie Zhao | CoinDesk

WeChat, the dominant messaging application in China operated by technology giant Tencent, has updated its payments policy that will prevent merchants on the platform from engaging in cryptocurrency-related activities. The messaging giant updated its Payment Service Protocol on April 30, indicating that merchants using its service shall not, among other things, "either directly or indirectly", be involved in "any initial coin offering activities or operating virtual currency trading". With the new policy taking effect on May 31, WeChat will terminate its payment services for merchants that are found of violation. The new policy could have an impact on over-the-counter traders in China who are using WeChat Pay as one of the options for transacting Chinese yuan. Exchanges like Huobi and OKEx both offer their platforms for OTC market makers as well as individual users to place bid and ask orders to exchange fiat to crypto, vice versa. That said, the policy update follows WeChat’s long-time stance of banning users from using its platform to engage in crypto-related transactions.

Starbucks to Track Coffee Using Microsoft’s Blockchain Service : Daniel Palmer | CoinDesk

Starbucks is moving to give consumers more information on its coffee products using a blockchain system that will track beans from "farm to cup". For the effort, the coffee chain is working with Microsoft to harness its Azure Blockchain Service in tracking coffee shipments from across the world, bringing "digital, real-time traceability" to its supply chains, according to an announcement from Microsoft. With the partnership, Microsoft’s blockchain service will record all changes along the journey of the coffee on a shared ledger, providing participants with a "more complete view" of the supply chain. As part of its commitment to ethical sourcing, it’s also hoping that the blockchain system can help benefit growers too, by providing them with data such as where their beans end up in consumers’ cups. According to the release, Starbucks sourced beans from over 380,000 coffee farms in 2018. While a date for the launch of the new service has not been revealed, the digital traceability concept was demoed to shareholders at Starbuck’s annual meeting in March. The firm is currently talking to coffee farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda to find out more about how the project can best benefit them said Michelle Burns, SVP of Global Coffee & Tea at Starbucks. Starbucks is notably working with the Bakkt digital assets and bitcoin futures platform being developed by Intercontinental Exchange, the parent firm of the New York Stock Exchange.

Bitfinex and Tether Call Out New York’s AG; Claim They Do Not Have Duty To Inform Customers of All Matters : Namrata Shukla | AMBCrypto

The Bitfinex-Tether fiasco took a new turn after Bitfinex and Tether released an official response to the allegations made against it by the New York Attorney General’s office. Bitfinex’s and Tether’s parent company, iFinex, moved to vacate the court order, claiming that the order was based on ‘inaccurate or incorrect facts and wrong legal standard’. A document filed on May 5 by iFinex argued that New York’s AG failed to explain the qualifications passed by Tether to be termed as a security or a commodity and under the Martin Act of 1921, would provide the agency’s authority over the firm. The document highlighted that AG would need that basis of authority "to even regulate in this sphere" and require Tether and Bitfinex to "address blunderbuss document demands". The document also stated that the "massive regulatory overreach has no corresponding benefit" because there was no fraud and "much less harm that is either ongoing or irreparable".