Beating back bears, Bitcoin briefly balloons beyond $4,900

Bitcoin went on a tear in early morning trading earlier today, popping up to above $4,900 and reminding some investors of the good old days of 2017.

The currency is still trading up above 15% at $4,782.60, which is a healthy jump for the cryptocurrency (which had languishing at around $4,000 for the past three months). Indeed the price was up over 25% over the previous month, according to Coinbase.

Bitcoin’s surge also sent the other top cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum and Litecoin soaring.

No one can quite pin down the reason for the currency’s surge, given the string of bad news that has unspooled around the cryptocurrency business in the past few weeks.

Despite an April Fool’s Day article to the contrary, the Securities and Exchange Commission still has not approved an exchange traded fund that would track to the cryptocurrency. And one of the big [...]  read more

QuadrigaCX’s missing millions is the messiest Bitcoin saga yet

Those deposit holders and interested third parties began a forensic analysis of QuadrigaCX to determine what the hell was going on. It didn’t take long before several suspicious details began to shake loose, raising more questions than answers. Less than a month before he died, Cotten wrote a will assigning his fortune — including a number of properties, an airplane and a yacht — to Robertson.

Cotten made a specific provision in his will for his pair of dogs, should Roberson not survive him. In that circumstance, his assets were to be distributed to the couple’s family and a $100,000 CAD trust set up to provide for their two chihuahuas. It’s the sort of extravagance that has led one Twitter user to call QuadrigaCX an “#exitscam.”

Journalist Amy Castor has written a series of extensive reports about the state of QuadrigaCX and its finances. [...]  read more

HTC’s blockchain phone can now be purchased with fiat currency

Until now, the Exodus 1 has, fittingly, only been available for purchase with cryptocurrency. Starting today, however, interested parties will be able to pick HTC’s blockchain phone up through more traditional means, including USD, which prices the handset at a not unreasonable $699.

One assumes, of course, if you’ve got enough of an interested in purchasing a blockchain phone that they’ve already got a bit of Bitcoin, Ether or Litecoin lying about. This move, however, is very clearly about helping growing the product beyond its initial soft launch. When the device was released last year, HTC was pretty clearly expecting to sell it in limited quantities to users who could essentially help beta test the product in the wild.

HTC Decentralized Chief Officer Phil Chen calls the product the company’s 1.0 solution. In fact, it’s planning to create a formal bounty program to discover and patch potential exploits.

But HTC has long held that a device like [...]  read more

The plot to revive Mt. Gox and repay victims’ Bitcoin

It was the Lehman Brothers of blockchain. 850,000 Bitcoin disappeared when cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox imploded in 2014 after a series of hacks. The incident cemented the industry’s reputation as frighteningly insecure. Now a controversial crypto celebrity named Brock Pierce is trying to get the Mt. Gox flameout’s 24,000 victims their money back and build a new company from the ashes.

Pierce spoke to TechCrunch for the first interview about Gox Rising — his plan to reboot the Mt. Gox brand and challenge Coinbase and Binance for the title of top cryptocurrency exchange. He claims there’s around $630 million and 150,000 Bitcoin are waiting in the Mt. Gox bankruptcy trust, and Pierce wants to solve the legal and technical barriers to getting those assets distributed back to their rightful owners.

The consensus from several blockchain startup CEOs I spoke with was that the plot is “crazy”, but that it also has the potential to right one of the biggest wrongs marring [...]  read more

Digital Garage teams up with Blockstream to develop blockchain financial services in Japan

The global crypto market may have tanked last year, but notable names have joined forces to develop Bitcoin and blockchain financial services in Japan, which has emerged as one of the world’s most crypto-friendly markets.

Blockstream, a blockchain startup founded by Bitcoin contributors, announced this week that it has launched a joint venture in Japan alongside Digital Garage, an early-stage investor/incubator that’s backed local launches from Twitter, Square and others, and financial services firm Tokyo Tanshi.

Crypto Garage — as the new venture is called — is “is dedicated to building Bitcoin and blockchain solutions for the Japanese institutional market.” The venture was first unveiled last year, and it looks like Blockstream recently came onboard through an undisclosed investment. The startup said it is providing “technical expertise” for the effort.

That’s about all the color on the venture for now, although it has released its first product, “SETTLENET.” That [...]  read more

The social layer is ironically key to Bitcoin’s security

A funny thing happened in the second half of 2018. At some moment, all the people active in crypto looked around and realized there weren’t very many of us. The friends we’d convinced during the last holiday season were no longer speaking to us. They had stopped checking their Coinbase accounts. The tide had gone out from the beach. Tokens and blockchains were supposed to change the world; how come nobody was using them?

In most cases, still, nobody is using them. In this respect, many crypto projects have succeeded admirably. Cryptocurrency’s appeal is understood by many as freedom from human fallibility. There is no central banker, playing politics with the money supply. There is no lawyer, overseeing the contract. Sometimes it feels like crypto developers adopted the defense mechanism of the skunk. It’s working: they are succeeding at keeping people away.

Some now acknowledge the need for human users, the so-called “social layer,” of Bitcoin and other crypto networks. That [...]  read more

Coinstar machines will start selling Bitcoin at the grocery store

You know those machines at the grocery store that transform your gallon jugs worth of change into more usable currency? They’re about to start selling Bitcoin.

To make this impulse shopping dream come true, Coinstar, the company behind those ubiquitous change-counting kiosks, has partnered with Coinme, a startup that operates a small network of cryptocurrency-dispensing ATMs around the country.

“Coinstar is always looking for new ways to offer value to our consumers when they visit our kiosks, and Coinme’s innovative delivery mechanism along with Coinstar’s flexible platform makes it possible for consumers to easily purchase Bitcoin with cash,” Coinstar CEO Jim Gaherity said in the announcement, first reported by GeekWire.

With 20,000 machines around the world, Coinstar operates a pretty huge network that could be enabled to dispense digital currency. As the company’s announcement states, there are “thousands in the U.S. market that can be enabled to accept Bitcoin transactions” [...]  read more

Crypto mining giant Bitmain is reportedly getting a new CEO as its IPO plan stalls

Bitmain, the Chinese crypto miner maker, looks like it has reached an interesting point in its pathway to going public. There’s been little heard since the company filed to go public in Hong Kong in September, but now it appears that a new CEO has been hired and its two founders are leaving.

That’s according to a report from SCMP which — citing two sources — said Wang Haichao, Bitmain’s director of product engineering, has assumed CEO duties following a transition that began in December. Founders Wu Jihan (pictured above) and Zhan Ketuan will be co-chairs with Wang described as the “potential successor.”

The publication said that it isn’t clear when a new CEO will be named, or indeed whether an outside appointment will be made.

Bitmain declined to comment on the report when asked by TechCrunch.

The company, which is said to have been valued as high as $15 billion, certainly appears to have stalled with its IPO following the filing of an application on September 26. That [...]  read more

NYSE operator’s crypto project Bakkt brings in $182M

The Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) cryptocurrency project Bakkt celebrated New Year’s Eve with the announcement of a $182.5 million equity round from a slew of notable institutional investors. ICE, the operator of several global exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange, established Bakkt to build a trading platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets.

This is Bakkt’s first institutional funding round; it was not a token sale. Participating in the round are Horizons Ventures, Microsoft’s venture capital arm (M12), Pantera Capital, Naspers’ fintech arm (PayU), Protocol Ventures, Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners and more.

Bakkt is currently seeking regulatory approval to launch a one-day physically delivered Bitcoin futures contract along with physical warehousing. The startup initially [...]  read more

As Bitcoin sinks, industry startups are forced to cut back

Around this time last year, the price of Bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $20,000. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts everywhere boasted about the wealth 2018 would bring, initial coin offerings exploded and startups continued to pull in record amounts of venture capital. Fast-forward one year: Bitcoin is down 75 percent to a meager $3,700, sinking as quickly as its meteoric rise, and industry startups are paying the price.

The latest victim is Bitmain, a provider of bitcoin mining hardware that very recently submitted its IPO prospectus to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. The company confirmed to CoinDesk this week that cutbacks would begin imminently: “There has been some adjustment to our staff this year as we continue to build a long-term, sustainable and scalable business,” a spokesperson for Bitmain told CoinDesk. “A part of that is having to really focus on things that are core to that mission and not things that are auxiliary.”

Beijing-based Bitmain hasn’t clarified [...]  read more