Cryptocurrency

The 21-day bitcoin challenge

There is a documentary series currently airing on iQiyi, China’s Netflix equivalent, about a Chinese bitcoin enthusiast who attempts to survive 21 days by merely living on 0.21 bitcoin, or $1,300, without any help or donations. He You Bing is traveling and carrying nothing with her, and she has to retrieve food, housing, and basic necessities all through bitcoin transactions done on her phone. Interestingly, she is also doing this challenge in some of China’s largest cities including Beijing and Shenzhen. Her name is something of a nom de guerre – a nickname, with “You Bing” directly translating to “having a disease,” and the whole name alludes to the girl’s over-enthusiasm for bitcoin. It’s a fascinating time for making this attempt. In the last few weeks, there have been numerous reports...

Cryptocurrency mining attacks using leaked NSA hacking tools are still highly active a year later

It’s been over a year since highly classified exploits built by the National Security Agency were stolen and published online. One of the tools, dubbed EternalBlue, can covertly break into almost any Windows machine around the world. It didn’t take long for hackers to start using the exploits to run ransomware on thousands of computers, grinding hospitals and businesses to a halt. Two separate attacks in as many months used WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware, which spread like wildfire. Once a single computer in a network was infected, the malware would also target other devices on the network. The recovery was slow and cost companies hundreds of millions in damages. Yet, more than a year since Microsoft released patches that slammed the backdoor shut, almost a million computers and networks...

The Winklevoss stablecoin is one small step toward crypto acceptance

A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency pegged 1-to-1 with another “stable” currency. In most cases, these coins are pegged to the US dollar and, as such, allow for true transfers of actual fiat currencies between parties using the blockchain. If you’re nodding off right now thinking about this, I would posit that these moves, however minor right now, are an important step forward in cryptocurrency acceptance. The latest stablecoin to hit the virtual streets is the Gemini Dollar. This coin comes on the heels of the much-ridiculed Tether, a stablecoin created in 2014 that has been the the brunt of much criticism including suggestions that the team has been artificially pumping the currency with wash trades. The new currency by Winklevoss-run Gemini is pegged directly to the US dollar on the Ethere...

Tokens can better incentivize startup employees than equity

Token structuring and tokeneconomics are among of the most important considerations when designing a blockchain. When thinking about how best to distribute these tokens, founders often think about how the tokens will impact external stakeholders such as their investors, the community, and stakers (people that can mine or validate block transactions according to how many coins he or she holds). But token economies are also bringing disruption to organizations internally, especially when it comes to HR and compensation. If the tokens are structured properly for a blockchain, external stakeholders will be directly aligned with the goal of the project. Those incentives can encourage participation on the blockchain platform and/or drive token demand with community-building and marketing. Simila...

Coinbase plots to become the New York Stock Exchange of crypto securities

The future of Coinbase looks something like the New York Stock Exchange. That’s according a vision laid out by CEO Brian Amstrong who was interviewed on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco today. Coinbase is known for being the most popular exchange for converting fiat currency into crypto — most of the largest traded exchanges are crypto-to-crypto — but he foresees a future in which it plays host to a growing number of cryptocurrencies as it becomes standard for companies to create their own token, which runs alongside equity as an alternative investment system. “It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table… should have their own token. Every open source project, every charity, potentially every fund or these new types of decentralized organizations [and] apps, t...

Goldman CFO: the story about us dropping Bitcoin trading was ‘fake news’

It sometimes feels like the price of Bitcoin rises and falls on the turn of a speculative dime, and yesterday we saw one such moment come to pass, when it was reported that Goldman Sachs was planning to drop a plan to build a Bitcoin trading platform, causing the price of the cryptocurrency to crash. But today, at TechCrunch Disrupt, the CFO of Goldman Sachs described the story as “fake news,” and said that in fact the bank is still considering how to offer services that involved physical Bitcoin, but that it has not yet set a timeline for it. “I was in New York yesterday and I was co-chairing our risk committee, and I saw the news article,” said CFO Marty Chavez, referring to the report yesterday. “It wasn’t like we announced anything or that anything had changed for us… I never thought I...

Thailand is becoming a critical country for blockchain

While United States regulators are still trying to figure out how to think about cryptocurrencies, Thailand’s government is already mapping out its own central bank digital currency. This is just one of numerous examples how Thailand has emerged as one the most interesting cryptocurrency and blockchain countries in Southeast Asia in 2018. Since the start of the year, the Thai government has become increasingly outspoken and welcoming of cryptocurrency projects and exchanges. In just a few months, Thai regulators have made notable progress, from setting up cryptocurrency company licenses to permitting exchanges and ICOs. More importantly, the country has attracted foreign companies by providing clear and explicit guidelines for foreign blockchain companies to operate. It’s a pattern that we...

Chat app Line hopes its own crypto token can solve its user growth problem

Line, the Japanese messaging app firm that’s best known for its cutesy characters and stickers, is pushing deeper into crypto after it launched its own token to help grow its stagnant user base. Line went public two years ago with 218 million monthly active users, but it hasn’t been able to kick on. The company no longer gives out its worldwide user number, but the number of active users in its four biggest markets has fallen from 169 million in Q2 2017 to 164 million in its recent Q2 2018 period. Link — Line’s token — isn’t being minted through an ICO, instead, it’ll be given out to Line users as an incentive for using certain services. Line hasn’t said exactly how it can be earned yet, although it is likely that it’ll be tied to specific activities to promote engagement. Line plans to us...

Security tokens will be coming soon to an exchange near you

Sunny Dhillon Contributor More posts by this contributor Amazon’s next conquest will be apparel The rise of experiential commerce While cryptocurrencies have generated the lion’s share of investment and attention to date, I’m more excited about the potential for another blockchain-based digital asset: security tokens. Security tokens are defined as “any blockchain-based representation of value that is subject to regulation under security laws.” In other words, they represent ownership in a real-world asset, whether that is equity, debt or even real estate. (They also encompass certain pre-launch utility tokens.) With $256 trillion of real-world assets in the world, the opportunity for crypto-securities is truly massive, especially with regards to asset classes like real estate and fine art...

Cryptocurrency and blockchain bring Asia funds to the forefront of U.S. tech

Since early 2017, there’s been a new trend in the U.S. where a number of Asian funds have been actively involved in early-stage crypto investing. Many folks in traditional tech have not heard of them before, but these funds will only be growing more important as cryptocurrency and blockchain solidify their position in the American tech industry. Funds with Asian money, primarily from China, have been in Silicon Valley for a long time. However, in the past, they were rarely heard or seen in the press, mostly because their assets under management (AUM) and investment check sizes were smaller in size and fewer in frequency than their American counterparts on average. These funds were often only found investing in later-stage rounds, since they weren’t able to compete against the top venture f...

Binance launches an incubator program to develop early stage blockchain startups

Who needs VCs? The largest companies in the crypto world are continuing to build the ecosystem through aggressive investments of their own, as I forecasted at the start of this year. Binance, the world’s largest exchange, is the latest example. The company is marching beyond a gargantuan $1 billion fund it unveiled earlier this year after it announced an incubator program that’s focused on nurturing early-stage blockchain startups. The Binance Labs Incubation Program was teased back in June when the company announced its fund, but now the company has taken off the wraps and provided more details — the venture is very aggressive. The program will take on around 8-10 companies per batch for a 10-week period, Binance Labs CEO Ella Zhang told TechCrunch in an interview, adding that the target ...

Why the next CryptoKitties mania won’t be about collectables

Kyle Wood Contributor Kyle Wood is senior counsel in Perkins Coie’s Blockchain Technology & Digital Currency industry group in the Dallas office. Taylor Lindman Contributor Taylor Lindman is an associate in Perkins Coie’s New York office focusing on fintech, distributed ledger technology, payments and finance matters. In recent months, the CryptoKitties fad that had users buying and selling tens of thousands of dollars of blockchain-based collectable cats has settled down considerably. That is not to say that CryptoKitties hasn’t spawned numerous copycats (see CryptoPuppies, CryptoCountries and many more). Unfortunately, the immense popularity of CryptoKitties is unlikely to be repeated, at least not by clones hoping to cash in on the novelty of blockchain-based crypto collectables. Th...