News: shuts down, Chinese CBDC test, new Libra member Heifer, North Korea does not dump its bitcoins radically improves its service, blocks illegal uses, abolishes all fees announced on 16 April that it was shutting down some functionality, with a view to closing down entirely by June — though it apparently now has interested buyers. [blog post]

Purse started in 2014. It let you buy Amazon gift certificates with Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, at a discount.

The problem was, a lot of the Amazon gift certificates had been bought using stolen credit cards — which is why they were being offered at a discount.

You could also sell your coins for quite a while without going through Know-Your-Customer procedures.

The entire operation ran on credit card fraud and money laundering. Purse users would discover their gift certificates had been invalidated, or their purchases were no longer warrantied, or their Amazon account had been shut. One user tells his story: “Local police come to my address investigating my latest order.” [blog post]



Libra and CBDCs, unbalanced

The US House wasn’t impressed with Libra’s new plan — Rep. Sylvia Garcia: “Facebook and the Libra Association have issued a second white paper that retains a Libra coin backed by a basket of assets. As such, this does not address the concerns I raised when Mr Zuckerberg testified before the Financial Services Committee.” [Sylvia Garcia]

Heifer International, who provide financial and technological support to small farmers in developing countries, has joined the Libra Association. They hope to bank the unbanked, and get finance for them. [Blog post]

Facebook is still hiring furiously in Ireland — including fifty new jobs working on Calibra. [Irish Times]

China is running a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) trial — after Libra spurred the People’s Bank of China into action last year. The trial is running in four regions. The commercial bank running the trial is the state-owned Agricultural Bank of China. [SCMP]

The test users will be able to buy things in actual shops, such as McDonalds, Starbucks and Subway. One important difference from Alipay or WeChatPay is the ability for the bank to track all transactions. [SCMP]

It’s not clear how widespread this Chinese CBDC trial is. The Digital Currency Research Institute (of the PBOC) speaks of “closed environments” and a whitelisted group of test users. John Kiff of the IMF suggests to Decrypt that this trial is barely even a pilot, but is more of a proof-of-concept. [SCMP; Decrypt]

Financial Times: “How Facebook’s Libra went from world changer to just another PayPal.” With a quote from me. [Financial Times, paywalled]


The SEC is suing the Dropil ICO of January 2018, and its founders Jeremy McAlpine, Zachary Matar, and Patrick O’Hara, for fraud. Not just for running an unregistered offering of securities — though that too — but lying about what a great investment opportunity all of this was, and paying investors “dividends” that were just previously-generated DROP tokens. [Press release; complaint, PDF]

Hey, remember KodakCoin? KodakOne have important information on how to deal with Covid-19! Step one is to sign your photos up with KodakOne. [Medium]

The Blockchain Association has submitted a new amicus brief in the SEC’s case against the Kik ICO. Like the Association’s brief in SEC v. Telegram, it tries to draw a line between the pre-sale and the eventual tokens. It’s about as bad and misconstrued as the brief in Telegram. This was not written to convince the judge — it’s to market the Blockchain Association to its members and prospective members. [CoinDesk]

Phunware are developing the official Trump 2020 phone app. They’re also crypto promoters, with a token called PhunCoin, which lets you sell your personal data to marketers — but only if you’re an accredited investor. Because rich people are well-known to be really into selling their lives for pennies. [White paper, PDF]

Georgios Konstantopoulos on how ICO founders can use DeFi to quietly dump their tokens: [Twitter]

  1. open loan with $ICO
  2. borrow DAI / USDC
  3. never repay the loan
  4. you covertly dumped your coins for a fee set by the collateralization ratio

Basically you lock in your paper gains:

– if the collateral appreciates you can borrow more against it
– if it crashes, you get liquidated and lose some, but still have the borrowed asset so still +EV compared to owning an asset you cannot move

heads you win, tails they lose.



Good news for Bitcoin

Netherlands Bitcoin bank Bittr has to shut down all of a sudden — due to the totally unanticipated oncoming circumstance of the Fifth European Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD), which has only been scheduled since 2018. The Netherlands implementation of 5AMLD is apparently unusually harsh — though the things Bittr is citing as reasons for their shutdown are basic know-your-customer provisions suddenly applying to crypto, which was already in 5AMLD. [blog post]

Bitnomial has permission from the CFTC to sell Bitcoin futures — with physically deliverable bitcoins at the end, on much the same model as Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures contracts. And never mind that Bakkt’s are still a miserable failure. [Decrypt]

Latest in Kleiman v. Wright — Judge Reinhard has ordered Dr Wright to produce in discovery all the things the Kleiman estate has been asking for. There was a discovery hearing at 11am on Friday 24 April, in which a legal representative for the alleged “bonded courier” defended the courier’s anonymity. There’s yet another hearing on Tuesday 28 April at 1pm. [order, PDF; Twitter; Twitter; docket]

How are Dr Wright’s defamation cases going? He’s dropped the suit against Vitalik Buterin. [Decrypt]

Shocked to see that Bitcoin is increasingly popular for child pornography, according to Chainalysis — just the traceable usage was up 33% from 2018 to 2019. [Chainalysis]

(Pedo pesos. Diddler dollars. Creeper kroners. Fiddler francs. Ephebophile euros. Savile shillings. Nambla nickels. Nonce cents. Cellblock chain.)



Where have you gone, Virgil Griffith? Their nation turns its lonely eyes to you

Zack Voell is the new Markets Correspondent at CoinDesk. Previously, he professionally shilled for Tether, and continues to pursue this interest at CoinDesk. [archive]

But Zack seems to be a Buttcoin undercover operative. Earlier today, he posted a now-deleted joke tweet in the style of Whale Alert, which tweets large movements of bitcoins:

65,091 #BTC (491,437,050 USD) transferred from Kim Jong-un’s Trezor wallet to #Coinbase

He also temporarily changed his Twitter avatar to Whale Alert’s.

The crypto press proceeded to go completely nuts — particularly in China. “Woke up, saw everyone is talking about this. Literally everywhere, weibo, WeChat groups, all crypto medias.” His report was credible, because he was from CoinDesk. [Twitter]

Googling on “65,091” “BTC” for 26 April 2020 is comedy gold. [Google]

Everyone knows that Kim Jong-un’s really into Ethereum, not that deprecated first-generation cryptocurrency. But good work, Zack — next crash is on you.



Things happen

Two years ago, Santander, in partnership with Ripple, launched a blockchain-ish remittance service called One Pay FX. It was widely advertised as being available to millions of people! Though in practice, almost none of them used it.

There’s a new Santander remittance service, called PagoFX — they want this one to have actual customers, because they want it to compete with Transferwise. PagoFX was “inspired by” the previous effort — but Santander decided that perhaps they wouldn’t use anything blockchainy this time around. [Financial Times, paywalled]

Real-world crypto use case: helping the RubyGems respository improve its security! In this case, 725 compromised packages that substituted Bitcoin addresses with the attacker’s own address. [Ars Technica]

There’s yet another conspiracy theory video going around, claiming that 5G phone Internet causes Covid-19. The “former Vodafone executive” in the video is UK pastor Jonathan James — who was previously a cryptocurrency scammer, who advocated “Bitcoin-type products pegged to diamond deposits through blockchain technology.” [Guardian]

12 April: Crypto media goes nuts for Reddit putting its Community Points system on Ethereum, and does so for the rest of that week! Update 13 April: “The wallet feature in my Reddit app was disabled shortly after this post and hasn’t been enabled since.” [Medium, archive]

How popular is crypto? The #2 movie in the US last week was promoting Monero! Of course by “popular,” they mean that the film grossed $3,430, and paid cinemas to claim to have put it on. [Vice]

There is nothing crypto traders can’t make worse — some are now trying Technical Analysis on the price of turnips in the hot new Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing. This is even though the price follows one of four known algorithms, according to someone who reverse-engineered the binary. [Mel; Twitter; GitHub]

r/bitcoin’s advice to the lovelorn: “You start dating someone. How do you explain you’re a bitcoiner, and that you believe the current economic system is crumbling around you without coming across as a crazy person with ‘extreme views’?”

Also, what about your operational security risk from admitting you hold bitcoins to a human feeemale? Also, does your explanation of Austrian economics — and why Saifedean is da man — come before or after you’ve asked her to pick up the tab, because your wealth is entirely in 0.1 digital pogs, and you’re just a little tight on filthy fiat right now? [Reddit, archive]




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