News: Brave browser’s opt-out “fundraising” for third parties, fallout from the Bitcoin and Ether price crash, Tether margin trading, UK tax guidance

The Brave web browser is a favourite of crypto fans, because it has a crypto in it — the Basic Attention Token (BAT) ERC-20 token. It appears the browser renders YouTube data to look like you can donate to a YouTube channel … even if they’re not signed up for BAT at all. This exploded on Twitter on Friday, when a viewer asked British YouTuber Tom Scott if he was getting his BAT donations — and Tom was not pleased in the slightest with Brave’s claim to represent him, when they didn’t in any way at all.

Brave have apparently released an updated version of the browser with new wording — which still doesn’t really make it clear that the supposed recipient never signed up for this and has nothing to do with it — and they’ll keep defaulting to taking “donations” on behalf of people who haven’t signed up at all. Amy Castor has a story coming on all of this in The Block shortly. edit: story is up now.

(And the image in this post from last November suggests you can donate to Wikipedia this way. Wikimedia legal don’t tolerate this sort of fundraising fraud for a second.)

Jackson Palmer details how, even when you do sign up with Brave/BAT as a publisher, the system is hilariously terrible and utterly, utterly centralised.


Sky News covers the retail investors and small businesses who got burnt by the Bitcoin price crash.

But the institutional investors will save the Bitcoin price! … oh. “Participation by financial institutions in Bitcoin trading appears to be fading. Key flow metrics have downshifted dramatically.” The CME and CBOE Bitcoin futures are losing interest. The investment banks built crypto products — but the investors haven’t shown up.

How hard are the Bitcoin price pumpers pushing the price? 20 December 2018 was Bitcoin’s single highest trading volume day in its entire history.

World’s luckiest Bitcoin margin trader — Mark Dow shorted Bitcoin at the peak, and cashed out at the bottom. “I’m done … I don’t want to try to squeeze more out of the lemon.” Here’s his blog post shortly before he opened his position — there’s no details on where and how he set up the short.

NUMBER GO UP, December 2017 — Meltem Demirors sees a “much bigger run coming in 2018 when more products and more instruments come to market.”
NUMBER GO DOWN, December 2018 — actually it’s about the technology, OK,

Tether is supposed to be pegged to the US Dollar. Who would introduce margin trading on such a stablecoin? Bitfinex, the people who issue it!

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is reluctant to approve the Bitmain IPO — “The exchange is very hesitant to actually approve these bitcoin mining companies because the industry is so volatile. There’s a real risk that they could just not exist any more in a year or two.”

NiceHash competitor WinMiner — a miner for casual users, which shuffled between coins for you, according to which was most profitable to mine that day — has gone into “hibernation” as so many home miners give up.

How’s Bitcoin mining going? Nicholas Weaver posts this graph — when half the peak mining capacity is “dark”, that dark capacity can be used to launch 51% attacks, if that’s more profitable.


The new White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, appears to be a hodler. Speaking to the far-right John Birch Society in 2016, he praised Bitcoin as “not manipulatable by any government.” The John Birch Society were some of the early propagators of the gold-bug ideology that led to Bitcoin, as I covered in Chapter 2 of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain.

HMRC has issued UK tax guidance on how to account for your crypto earnings. “HMRC does not consider the buying and selling of cryptoassets to be the same as gambling” — that is, unlike with gambling, your winnings are taxable and you can claim your losses.

Thomas Roth will be giving a talk at 35C3 on hacking hardware wallets. Finally, a use case for crypto!



The Etherpocalypse continues. ConsenSys has been reported, with a considerable pile of sources, to be firing a lot of people — or spinning a lot of its “spokes” (incubated entities that ConsenSys owned 50% of) out as separate entities that couldn’t possibly survive — though they now deny this.

Substratum’s ICO takings have been hammered so badly by the crash that they’ve resorted to day-trading their startup capital.

In the original 2015 Ethereum crowdfunding launch … where did all the tokens go?

The Civil ICO to save journalism went down the tubes and ripped everyone off — but it’s coming back again, with a never-ending token sale — starting in February.

Remember CashBetCoin, who had ads for their gambling ICO up in Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium in January? They’re being sued over their ICO — on the grounds that their SAFT constituted a security in the US.

Here’s an academic writeup of 4818 pump-and-dump schemes over one six-month period, involving 300 or so cryptos.

Software developer site InfoQ has been doing a blockchain panel discussion by email. Part 1 has John Davies (Velo Payments) and Conor Svensson (author of web3j), and Part 2 has me and Richard Gendal-Brown of R3. We also recorded an hour of discussion (without Richard, annoyingly) last Tuesday, which will go up at some point.


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