News: Friedman LLP parts with Bitfinex, Weiss Crypto Ratings, Netherlands, SEC, ICOs, Venezuela, Arsenal

I’m currently 5000 words into a 1500-word article on Tether. There’s also 1000 words of a 300-word introduction to IOTA, and I haven’t even got to the hard part, dissecting IOTA’s Time Cube-in-LATEX white paper. Meanwhile …

  • Friedman LLP appear no longer to be auditing Bitfinex/Tether. Their “Digital Currency Services” page, 7 December: “We audit leaders in the digital currency industry, including the Bitcoin Investment Trust and Bitfinex.” 24 January: “We audit leaders in the digital currency industry, including the Bitcoin Investment Trust.” Their 8 May 2017 announcement of being engaged by Bitfinex is now a 404 Not Found.



  • The words “Fast” and “Low processing fees” have been removed from the website. Apparently Bitcoin now offers “fraud protection” — perhaps they mean protection for those running frauds. No chargebacks!
  • The Autoriteit Financiële Markten, the financial regulator in the Netherlands, is banning various extremely risky financial products, including crypto-related ones.
  • SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton spoke at the Securities Regulation Institute on Monday 22 January, about ICOs and securities lawyers’ responsibilities when engaged by an ICO. To the lay reader, his speech looks slightly pointed; to lawyers, it was savage. Alexandra Scaggs at FT Alphaville supplies an anger translation.


  • Venezuela releases the white paper for its proposed cryptocurrency, the Petro! It’s an aspirational manifesto with less substance than a bad ICO white paper. The real pitch is “we’re a sovereign country, this is us issuing bonds,” without the constraints from being in the EU that Estonia’s similar idea suffers — unlike Estonia, however, they’re subject to US sanctions, and the US has warned that anyone buying these things could be sanctioned in turn.
  • Arsenal Football Club releases … Arsecoin! No, it’s actually a gambling company, CashBet, who have started an ICO, CashBetCoin. They bought some advertising from Arsenal and are touting it as a partnership, as you apparently do. The pitch is to offer tokens to gamblers who can’t send money from their bank account to bookmakers. They’ll sell you the tokens, but they’ll never cash them in for you — you’ll need to go to a third-party exchange to do that. Of course they don’t have exchange partners as yet. The BBC kindly asked me for comment — “Crypto-currencies are less regulated than regular betting shops and it’s a lot harder to get actual pounds back out again.” The official word is that punters will “eventually be able to convert their winnings into cash on third party exchanges.” Can’t wait to hear the delight of average Arsenal fans who bet ten quid on something and discover it’s nearly impossible to collect on their win. My name was wrong for about thirty minutes:



  • Gareth Costa at The West Australian is … not a fan of Bitcoin. Nice to see tabloids calling BS on this trash.



  • And local radio. Guy Shone from Explain The Market was on Anna King’s BBC Gloucestershire show this morning (24 January) talking about Bitcoin, from about 1h17m on. A pretty good intro for the average listener (some of whom call in for clarification), the stuff a normal person with a high opinion of their own financial brilliance needs to hear, and includes a plug for the book at 1:47:30ish!




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6 Comments on “News: Friedman LLP parts with Bitfinex, Weiss Crypto Ratings, Netherlands, SEC, ICOs, Venezuela, Arsenal”

  1. May I respectfully point out that “Estonia’s proposal” is not an initiative of the Estonian government, but rather a Medium blog post by the project manager of the e-residency scheme (which is somewhat adjacent but a whole different thing). Kaspar Korjus is a hypebeast who needs to stop saying words, but despite being in fact a civil servant, he is not actually a government spokesperson.

  2. Does anyone know what this supposed ‘fraud protection’ is? I thought the big thing about BTC was that in dispensing with the services or trusted 3rd parties, legal institutions and mediators – it offered no protection whatsoever and that everyone was charged with the libertarian demands of having to do all their research themselves in order to try and best protect themselves. If you failed to do enough whois and other lookups in order to verify an on-line vendor and ordered stuff which was never delivered – then tough – that is your failure to fulfil your libertarian research responsibilities. Bitcoin is not designed to care about the actual outcomes of its transactions so how could it possibly offer fraud protection as it is systemically disinterested?

    The only protection I can think of could be drawn from the implication or assumption that if something is recorded on a blockchain that something must be completely true or honest. That notion is complete rubbish. Just because a blockchain might be designed to be decentred, distributed and immutable – doesn’t mean that anything recorded upon it is necessarily true or logged in good faith. Half of the blockchain ICOs out there are frauds.

    1. I’m assuming they mean “no chargebacks”, the fatal flaw of cryptocurrencies that advocates keep putting forward as an incredibly desirable killer feature.

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