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

Commuters become crypto users, as DOVU signs loyalty deal with rail service

While blockchain emerged first as a platform for currency and value, its employment in the tokenization of data and information has become recognized as being of at least, if not more, underlying value. You could perhaps even use it to track movements on a grid associated with mobility. That was the underlying idea behind the launch a couple of years ago of DOVU, a London-based startup that aims to become “the global marketplace for transport data.” DOVU is backed by seed funding from InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s investment arm, and Creative England, a fund backed by the U.K. government.

Founder and CEO Irfon Watkins aims to use blockchain to provide trust for corporates or individuals in data sets for public and enterprise use. The DOVU system works by creating a distributed marketplace for transport data. That would mean vehicle hire, insurance companies, ridesharing and others could be connected to create a network of transport-related data resources.

This shared data [...]  read more

Crypto wallet BRD raises $15M for Asian expansion

Mobile cryptocurrency wallet BRD is announcing that it has raised $15 million in Series B funding.

The funding comes from SBI Crypto Investment, a subsidiary of Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings (formerly a subsidiary of SoftBank). BRD said the funding will allow it to grow its product and engineering teams, and to expand in Japan and across Asia.

“SBI Group’s investment in BRD allows us to firmly cement ourselves in the Asian market,” said BRD co-founder and CEO Adam Traidman in a statement. “It shows incredible support for the foundation that we have built in North America and reinforces our proven ability to scale the success we have achieved in the past 4 years. The new investment will ensure our long-term global growth, and we are incredibly excited about collaborating with SBI as a strategic investor and business partner to make that happen.”

It’s surprising to see a crypto startup raising money now, given the [...]  read more

Steemit, crypto’s answer to Reddit, gets a new boss to rebuild after widespread layoffs

Steemit, an early blockchain startup that’s developing an alternative to Reddit, has a new chief less than two months after laying off most of its staff as part of cost-cutting measures.

Celebrated as an early success story in the crypto world, the company shed 70 percent of its employees back in November on account of the ‘crypto winter’ which has seen the price of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies plummet by 90 percent or so. Steemit is far from the only blockchain startup forced to restructure, and now its rebuilding plans rest in the hands of newly-appointed managing director Elizabeth Powell.

Formerly the company’s head of communications and advocacy, Powell has replaced former CEO Ned Scott — who is now executive chairman — at the helm of the business, which has 12 full-time staff.

“We recently published our updated Mission, Vision and Values, as well as its roadmap focusing on increasing ad revenues, protecting Steem assets’ value and cost reductions. [...]  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

Thailand issues its first licenses to 4 crypto exchanges

Thailand has joined Japan in regulating crypto exchanges after it issued its first licenses to four applicants.

The four that were approved as licensed brokers and dealers of cryptocurrencies in the country are Bx, Bitkub, Coins and Satang Pro. One other exchange — Coin Asset — is under extended review after replacing its management team in a bid to win a license.

But two that failed to win a license — Cash2Coins and Southeast Asia Digital Exchange — will shut down this month. They have until January 14 to notify their customers and move any assets outside of their exchanges. The companies were rejected on account of insufficient know your customer (KYC) processes and inadequate IT infrastructure, according to a report from the Bangkok Post.

The deal has been hailed as a major step forward for the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies in Thailand.

“We can partner with traditional financial institutions, brokers, e-wallets etc to offer more financial products to customers,” Jirayut [...]  read more

Coinbase freezes Ethereum Classic trading following attack

Coinbase is preparing to list a lot of new coins this year, but its first major piece of action in 2019 is to temporarily pause one of its existing portfolio. The exchange said it has stopped all trading on Ethereum Classica cryptocurrency it added back in August — after it detected an attack on the cryptocurrency’s network.

Coinbase identified “a deep chain reorganization” of the Ethereum Classic blockchain which essentially means that someone controlling miners on the network had rewritten transaction history. Such tampering can allow what’s called ‘double spending,’ which essentially invalidates past transactions to alter the route of cryptocurrency transfers — a lot like stealing. Coinbase said it found a further eight reorganizations which, coupled with the larger one, saw around 88,500 RTC ($460,000) in double spends.

It is being suggested that the incident is a 51 percent attack — essentially, anyone who controls over half of the mining power has the ability [...]  read more