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Binance Launches Testnet for Decentralized Exchange, Elon Musk Says Bitcoin has a Brilliant Structure

The recent bull run in the crypto markets has subsided as markets traded sideways during the day. Bitcoin, which broke the $4,000 after an impressive 2-day rally, has retreated to $3,978, 0.17 percent down in the last 24 hours. However, Bitcoin is still up by more than 8 percent since the beginning of the week. Bitcoin did not go down alone. It was followed by Ether and XRP who are 0.30 percent and 1.80 percent down respectively. EOS and Litecoin are both up 5 percent in the same period and Bitcoin Cash posted a gain of 0.25 percent. Despite the losses and gains, the overall market cap remained relatively stable at over $134 billion in the last 24 hours. On a positive note, the total trading volume reached $33.85 billion, its highest figure in 10 months. The uptick in trading is an indication that investor interest is back and the surge is not just a temporary increase in prices. The entire market has increased by approximately 12 percent in the last seven days. The top 10 digital assets accounted for about 88 percent of the trading volume registered on Feb. 19. Bitcoin, the largest digital asset and the stablecoin Tether recorded trading volumes or more than $9 billion.

Bitcoin’s structure is brilliant, says Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of electric car maker Tesla stated that Bitcoin is interesting but not good for Tesla. Musk said these comments in an episode of ARK Invest’s FYI podcast. The discussion was meant to be about Tesla but eventually spilled to crypto. He gave a vote of confidence to Bitcoin and Ethereum. He specifically said that Bitcoin has a brilliant structure but said it may not be good for Tesla to get itself involved with cryptocurrencies.

“I mean I think the bitcoin structure was quite brilliant. It seems like there’s some merit to Ethereum as well, and maybe some of the others. But, you know, I’m not sure if it would be a good use of Tesla resources to get into crypto,” said Musk. Musk was not partisan as he touched on the negative side of Bitcoin. He said the major downside of Bitcoin is that it is energy intensive. A lot of energy is required to maintain the Bitcoin network and validate transactions. Musk, who once smoked pot during an interview with Joe Rogan, said that “crypto is a much better value for a transfer of value than pieces of paper but it has its pros and cons.” This is a fair endorsement of Bitcoin from a man who wants to see Tesla produce vehicles that can be operated without drivers.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance launches Testnet

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume has launched the testnet of its much awaited decentralized exchange (DEX). In an interview with Forbes, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) said the DEX will mainly focus on speed, security, and better user experience, the same elements that other decentralized exchanges are already focusing on.

“The user interface on Binance DEX is similar to the interface of Binance.com. Fast, secure and user-friendly. We envision the Binance Chain to help grow the community and further crypto adoption and accessibility,” said CZ in the interview.

Binance is focusing on developing the DEX as soon as they can and will figure out some functions along the way after receiving feedback from traders. DEXs gained prominence in the last 12 months when a number of them were launched on the Ethereum network. However, DEX projects have struggled to claim a fair share of the market despite interest from investors. The new DEX is based on Binance Chain, a blockchain protocol designed for DEXs and has huge transactional capacity. Binance Chain is focused on scalability, which allows the decentralized exchange to process trading volumes that rival those of centralized exchanges. “Binance Chain has near-instant transaction finality, with one-second block times. This is faster than other blockchains today,” explained CZ. He added that “With the core Binance Chain technology, Binance DEX can handle the same trading volume as Binance.com is handling today. This solves the issues many other decentralized exchanges face with speed and power.”

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ShapeShift rebranding to simplify the user experience

Cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift has rebranding plans on the pipeline. The plans were announced at an Ethereum conference, ETHDenver in Colorado, reported CoinDesk. ShapeShift chief executive Erik Voorhees said that the exchange is launching a beta period to a select number of users so that they try out a new version of the trading platform re-designed to improve and simplify the user experience. The new version of the exchange will feature greater interoperability with KeepKey hardware wallet and bring together ShapeShift’s disparate products such as CoinCap, a cryptocurrency price ticker. Voorhees; alongside the co-founder of Earn.com Lily Liu, CSO ConsenSys Sam Cassatt, and co-founder of Holochain Arthur Brock sat on a panel on Feb. 16 which focused on leadership.

“If you’re going to be a company in the crypto industry, you’re attached to the severe market cycles of the industry. That’s full of good and bad,” Voorhees explained what it means to be in the crypto industry. When each member of the panel was asked to reveal one of the hardest decisions they have ever taken in the crypto industry, Voorhees said it was introducing the Know-Your-Customer compliance at ShapeShift trading platform. “I felt like I had to do something morally wrong to allow the company to persist…It’s a really awful position to be in,” he said. The exchange recently laid off a third of its staff as the realities of the bear market took their toll on the startup.

Huobi lists 3 more digital assets

HBUS, the entity that operates the U.S. based trading platform Huobi.com announced that it has listed three new tokens on its platform. The newly added tokens are Stellar (XLM), Monero (XMR), and Steem (STEEM). This takes the total number of digital assets listed on the platform to 15. The firm has also ascertained that it will release a framework so that its listing process can be more transparent.

“The winning organizations are those looking towards the future. They will be the ones that have strong regulation practices, security processes, and dedication to the extensive vetting of projects listed on their marketplaces,” said Frank Fu, the CEO of HBUS. Fu added that “We understand the importance of having a versatile marketplace of tokens and plan to continue to list tokens with great utility and versatility.

FBI airs its thought on the cryptocurrencies and the ICO industry

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has given cryptocurrency investors and traders insights on how to protect themselves from scams. In an interview with The Payers, Steven M. D’Antuono, section chief of the FBI’s financial crimes section within the Criminal Investigative Division talked about fraudulent activities in the crypto sector and how they affect the economy. D’Antuono firstly talked about the characteristics of scam ICOs. He said that they are similar to the majority of scam investment vehicles in that they involve the fraudsters misrepresenting the potential returns the investment will generate. He said the agency is trying to learn about the scams in the market so that they can formulate a strategy that mitigates the dangers posed to investors. He elaborated that the FBI works closely with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC). The FBI acknowledged that many people have fallen victim to several fraudulent ICOs and their best bet in combating these criminal activities is educating the public about these offerings.

“While the FBI and other law enforcement and regulatory agencies are actively trying to eliminate the scams and bring the scammers to justice, there seems to be a lucrative market for the scammers, meaning they continue to appear,” said D’Antuono.

ICO reports itself to the SEC for selling unregistered securities

The SEC is notorious in the crypto sector for cracking down on initial coin offerings (ICOs) that violate federal securities laws. It was a different case after Gladius Network LLC reported itself to the regulatory agency for conducting an unregistered coin offering, announced the SEC in a press statement on Feb. 20. Gladius, a Washington, DC-based company raised about $12.7 million in its 2017 ICO. The funds were intended to develop its network and protect itself from cyber attacks. The ICO firm did not register its coin offering with the regulatory agency and did not qualify to be exempted from the securities laws. Gladius cooperated with the investigations and agreed to reimburse investors and to egister its tokens as securities. The SEC did not impose penalties on the company because it reported itself of its misconduct.

“The SEC has been clear that companies must comply with the securities laws when issuing digital tokens that are securities. Today’s case shows the benefit of self-reporting and taking proactive steps to remediate unregistered offerings,” said Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC’s Cyber Unit.

Other ICOs that are sure that they violated federal securities laws can self-report and hope that the SEC takes similar action.

Crypto security firm CipherTrace secures $15 million in venture funding

Venture capital continues to flow in the crypto market.

Blockchain security firm CipherTrace announced on Feb. 19 that it secured $15 million in venture capital to fund its growth. The firm said that it raised the money from some of the biggest venture capital names in Silicon Valley and New York.

The financing round was led by Aspect Ventures with participation from Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital, Neotribe Ventures, and WestWave Capital.

CipherTrace develops security solutions such as anti-money laundering (AML), compliance solutions, and blockchain analytics and forensics. The products developed by the firm are used by law enforcement investigators, governments, regulators, and auditors to minimize fraud and enforce AML laws.

“CipherTrace is pleased to announce this strong backing from top-tier investors who share our vision that cryptocurrencies and blockchains need to be secured, regulated and made safe so that they can scale globally,” said CipherTrace CEO David Jevans.

He added that “Our investors have decades of experience investing in proven teams and technology companies in the internet security and financial technology industries. CipherTrace will join the ranks of these successful companies.”

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