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In Wake Of Tragedy, El Salvador’s Bitcoin Community Raising Donations For Memorial Surf Center

Bitcoin Beach’s bitcoin fundraiser is in honor of the late Kathy Díaz, an El Salvador national surf team member who was struck by lightning.

Bitcoin Beach, the bitcoin-focused project giving residents of a modest beach community in El Salvador unprecedented access to financial autonomy, is driving a global fundraiser to build a surf and community center in honor of Kathy Díaz, a member of the national surf team who was struck and killed by lightning while training.

The team signed its first-ever paid contracts in March, which were denominated in sats and funded by Bitcoin Beach. After consulting with Díaz’s family, the Bitcoin Beach team launched the campaign to build a permanent surf training and community center for the team, which will be funded entirely in bitcoin and named after Díaz.

“In a moment of darkness, there is an opportunity to create a positive, to lift up a team that has never had the support it deserves, and to create the world’s first national sports team that Bitcoiners around the world can champion,” according to a press release from Bitcoin Beach shared with Bitcoin Magazine. “Bitcoiners the world over have an opportunity to show the values that we care about, that real Bitcoin adoption can and is happening, and showcase the power that Bitcoin has to bring meaningful change to those who most need it.”

Bitcoin Beach hopes to raise 10 BTC (roughly $550,700 at the time of this writing) so that it can secure the land, build the facility and maintain a budget for ongoing maintenance. Any additional funds that it secures will go toward the Kathy Díaz ESA Surf Travel And Training Program, which will help the national team travel to global competitions.

Bitcoin Beach will collect on-chain bitcoin donations via the Cash App $Cashtag $KathyDiazMemorial from external bitcoin wallets, as well as via bitcoin donation management platform Engiven. It will collect Lightning Network donations through Strike, which has been working with Bitcoin Beach and recently launched for download in El Salvador. Fiat can be donationed via the $Cashtag as well. Once the fundraiser is complete, the bitcoin will be distributed to the Salvadoran Surf Federation’s non-profit.

The initiative already has a significant number of large donations lined up, including $100,000 worth of bitcoin from Cash App, $50,000 from Strike, $25,000 from Bitcoin Beach, an undisclosed amount from NFL athlete and Bitcoin proponent Russel Okung, as well as $25,000 committed from Bitcoin Magazine.

As the Bitcoin Beach project itself continues to demonstrate, Bitcoin is a powerful financial tool as well as a technology that engenders community and activism among those who use it. This fundraising campaign is another chance for Bitcoiners to demonstrate that and for the magical internet money to once again affect meaningful, tangible change in the lives of those who need it.

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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In Bitcoin Space’s Largest-Ever Deal, Galaxy Digital Will Buy BitGo For $1.2 Billion

In the largest-ever acquisition of a bitcoin services company, Galaxy Digital is buying BitGo for $1.2 billion.

Bitcoin-focused asset management firm Galaxy Digital will be acquiring digital asset custody provider BitGo for $1.2 billion — the largest-ever acquisition of a company offering bitcoin services.

“The acquisition will make Galaxy Digital a crypto-focused financial-services firm with more than $40 billion in assets under custody,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The combined company will offer an array of products and services, including trading, custody and asset management, investment banking, prime lending, tax services and even a mining operation, aimed mainly at institutional investors.”

Galaxy Digital will reportedly pay $265 million in cash and issue 33.8 million new shares, with BitGo shareholders set to own about 10% of the newly-formed company. BitGo founder Mike Belshe will remain with the merged company.

Such a large acquisition will not just make Galaxy Digital a leader in the Bitcoin space, but give it enhanced ability to compete within the legacy financial system.

“In order for crypto to become this revolutionary transformation, you’re going to need bigger companies that are going to knock heads against the bigger businesses,” Galaxy’s founder Mike Novogratz told the Journal.

Though Galaxy and BitGo offer services that cover cryptocurrencies beyond bitcoin, both firms have maintained significant focuses on bitcoin. Earlier this month, Galaxy Digital filed for regulatory approval to offer a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). And Belshe was first inspired by the technology behind Bitcoin as he developed BitGo’s multisignature wallet technology to secure his own BTC holdings.

Bitcoin has also been leading the way in a larger cryptocurrency bull market, which has doubtlessly fueled this record-breaking acquisition.

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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Bit Digital Brings 5,679 Bitcoin Miners, 280 PH/s To Foundry USA Pool

Bitcoin mining company Bit Digital has joined DCG’s Foundry USA Pool as it seeks to become a world leader in hash rate.

Correction, May 5, 2021: This article inaccurately claimed that Bit Digital is owned by Digital Currency Group. It’s been corrected to reflect that is not the case.

Bit Digital, a Bitcoin mining company based in New York, is now mining bitcoin as part of Foundry USA Pool, adding some 5,679 mining rigs and 280 peta hashes per second to the pool.

Foundry USA Pool, which is a subsidiary of DCG, is currently ranked within the top 10 of all mining pools in the world by hash rate, per BTC.com, contributing 6.74 exa hashes per second with a 3.98% network share. It is often the highest-ranked pool based in the U.S. and the addition of Bit Digital’s capacity is a move to raise its status in the global rankings.

“With Bit Digital’s addition, Foundry USA Pool is now a step closer to Foundry’s ultimate aim of securing a permanent spot among the world’s top five Bitcoin mining pools,” according to a press release shared with Bitcoin Magazine.

Earlier this month, Bit Digital began colocating in facilities operated by Compute North, which can switch between power sources and offer more flexibility to grids and better leverage renewable energy sources.

Meanwhile, Foundry USA has been focused on onboarding more institutional clients, announcing the addition of Blockap, Inc in March. Later that month Hut 8 Mining Corp. joined the pool and then, in April, Bitfarms did likewise.

This recent series of additions to Foundry USA Pool certainly position it to be the biggest contributor of Bitcoin hash rate from North America, as well as one of the biggest in the world. 

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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Sotheby's Accepting Bitcoin For A Banksy

The legacy fine arts auction house Sotheby’s International would accept bitcoin in exchange for a Banksy painting being auctioned soon.

276-year-old fine arts auction house Sotheby’s International is open to bitcoin payments for a Banksy piece estimated to fetch $3 million to $5 million during an upcoming sale.

“What better combination to introduce crypto than an iconic Banksy painting,” Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart told CNBC. The winner of the auction, which will be held on May 12, can choose to pay in USD or ether as well.

The painting, titled “Love Is In The Air,” is one of Banksy’s best known works and its subject matter, which depicts a masked figure in the midst of throwing a bouquet, has some countercultural overtones that appear to mesh with Bitcoin’s own.

The ability for Sotheby’s to enable bitcoin payment for the piece is the result of its partnership with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. It’s unclear whether the bitcoin paid for the painting would be liquidated or HODL’d.

“We have an agreement with the owner of the painting, the consigner of the painting, so that will ultimately be up to them,” Stewart said. “Part of the partnership with Coinbase gives us not only the ability to process the payment, but that possibility [to liquidate it] as well.”

The announcement is certainly a driver of attention to the auction, but also another indicator of growing mainstream and institutional acceptance of Bitcoin. Recently, age-old institutions like BNY Mellon and Morgan Stanley have also signaled growing support for Bitcoin.

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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Turkish Court Jails Suspects In Thodex Cryptocurrency Exchange Probe

A Turkish court has jailed suspects connected to the Thodex cryptocurrency exchange as its regulatory actions around bitcoin intensify.

According to a recent report from Reuters, a Turkish court has jailed six suspects as part of its investigation into local cryptocurrency exchange Thodex. The group of suspects, who are reportedly being held pending trial, include the brother and sister of Thodex CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer, as well as senior company employees.

Ozer fled Turkey earlier this month, leaving the funds of about 390,000 users of the exchange irretrievable. Bitcoin accounted for 1.73% of Thodex’s total volume at the time, more than $10 million worth. Thodex and Ozer cited liquidity problems, a years-old hacking incident and the inability to transfer shares to an outside investor as reasons for the apparent exit scam.

“At least 83 people were detained over the past week as users of the platform said the company scammed them and blocked access to accounts and money withdrawals,” Reuters reported. “Most of those detained over the past week have been released. Others, including seven on Thursday, were let go with judicial control measures.”

The Turkish government is also reportedly exploring the idea of establishing a central custodian bank for cryptocurrency exchanges following the issues with Thodex, as well as the local cryptocurrency exchange Vebitcoin. Turkish authorities reportedly arrested four employees of Vebitcoin earlier this week.

The Turkish government instituted a ban on cryptocurrency payments earlier this month as well, as its own fiat currency is rapidly being devalued.

Though it is not possible for a government to outright ban a decentralized financial system like Bitcoin, it can make it difficult for citizens to leverage, particularly by instituting restrictions on payments services and bitcoin exchanges. While the reported actions of Ozer and the operators of Vebitcoin appear to justify regulatory action, forthcoming government restrictions or custody requirements for Bitcoin could oppress what is meant to be a sovereign route to financial security for Turkey’s citizens.

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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Report: Turkey To Establish Custodian Bank For Bitcoin Exchanges

The Turkish government reportedly plans to serve as a custodian for local cryptocurrency exchanges, potentially holding bitcoin for users.

Following the collapse of two local cryptocurrency exchanges and new regulations banning cryptocurrency-based payment services, the Turkish government is now reportedly planning to institute new measures to serve as a custody middleman for cryptocurrency investors.

“The government is planning to establish a central custodian bank to eliminate counterparty risk following the collapse of the Thodex and Vebitcoin exchanges last week, according to a senior official familiar with the plans,” Bloomberg reported. “Authorities are also pondering a capital threshold for exchanges and education requirements for executives at such firms.”

Earlier this month, Turkey instituted a ban on all cryptocurrency payment services, as its own fiat currency, the lira, continues to be devalued. Then, the CEO of local cryptocurrency exchange Thodex fled the country, leaving user funds irretrievable. Days later, local cryptocurrency exchange Vebitcoin ceased all activities.

The plans are reportedly unfinalized, at least weeks away from being implemented and there were no details about how the rules would apply to bitcoin custody specifically. But presumably the world’s leading cryptocurrency would be included.

The implications of a central bank serving as a custodian for bitcoin exchanges are unprecedented. Bitcoin was designed as a financial vehicle that circumvents the policies and practices of central banks. By controlling the private keys for any bitcoin purchased on a Turkish exchange, the country’s central bank would ultimately have power over those funds. Only if users were to fully withdraw their bitcoin from the exchange, and therefore take control of the private keys from this custodian, could they really control an asset free from government oversight.

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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Meet The Tennessee Mayor Who’s Ready To Embrace Bitcoin

“We can hold on to the way it’s always been done, or we can drive innovation. We have to be willing to embrace the future.”

With a population of some 67,000 people, sitting about 70 miles east of Memphis, there’s nothing particularly cypherpunk about the city of Jackson, Tennessee. But Mayor Scott Conger realizes that it can benefit from embracing Bitcoin nonetheless, just like any other city in the world.

“I’ve been interested in Bitcoin for a while, but it’s been from a distance as a spectator,” Conger told Bitcoin Magazine. “In the past few months, I’ve gotten more interested and I am always looking for ways to make Jackson better and to stand out. I’ve started having conversations with people. The more conversations I have, the more interested I become.”

Conger got the attention of the Bitcoin world with a series of tweets this month. He put laser eyes on his profile picture, announced that he’s forming a “blockchain taskforce” for the city and noted the forthcoming, equitable industrial revolution that will be brought on by Bitcoin adoption. Specifically, Conger is exploring ways that he can offer cryptocurrency-based payroll conversions for city employees.

“We already offer our employees a deferred compensation opportunity for their retirement,” Conger explained, comparing the wealth protection potential of bitcoin to more traditional forms of savings. “Those options are great, but we need to expand our options for our employees to utilize dollar-cost averaging to increase and enhance their portfolios.”

Bitcoin-based payroll services would be novel, but it’s an option also being explored by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. (Conger and Suarez have established something of a Bitcoin-forward mayor bromance.)

But Conger is also looking into the possibility of mining bitcoin to add the asset to Jackson’s balance sheet. Currently, his team is assessing the initial investment and energy costs, but he seems optimistic about the potential.

“The benefits could be exponential,” Conger said of a city-based bitcoin mining initiative. “We can potentially get to a point where we are not only funding municipal projects from mined coins, but we could also benefit from our local energy authority by mining in off-peak hours, which will allow them to plan and regulate the energy output.”

Though Conger is still exploring the potential that Bitcoin can bring to Jackson’s municipal services, he is positive about ways that the transformative technology can help its citizens. It’s another indicator in just how early we are in the process of hyperbitcoinization that his openness and optimism makes him a standout among the country’s legislators, many of whom are more focused on finding reasons to restrict the use of Bitcoin. Conger said that he is hoping for a larger attitude shift among these legislators soon (while potentially making a reference to “The Avengers” film franchise).

“I think it’s easy to find the 14,000,604 ways something won’t work,” he said. “Leaders have to find the way it will work. We can hold on to the way it’s always been done, or we can drive innovation. We have to be willing to embrace the future and create a vision on how to get there.”

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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$623 Million In Stolen Bitcoin From 2016 Bitfinex Hack Has Been Moved

More than 10,000 BTC stolen from cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex in 2016 has been moved to a new address.

According to blockchain analysis service Whale Alert, 10,057 bitcoin (worth some $623 million at the time of this writing) that were stolen from cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex in 2016 was transferred in a series of transactions yesterday.

Whale Alert shared the transactions across more than 60 tweets within one hour, all with the note that it was seeing “stolen funds transferred from Bitfinex hack to unknown wallet.”

The 2016 theft from Bitfinex totaled about $65 million worth of bitcoin at the time and raised questions about a contemporary decision to eliminate the cold storage aspect of its custody. The bitcoin associated with the theft have been transferred before, with 270 BTC being transferred in November 2020, for instance. Due to the Bitcoin blockchain’s public nature, bitcoin transactions like these are trackable and auditable.

The timing of these most recent transactions appeared to some to be auspicious, as they came on the first day of Coinbase’s momentous public listing. With most of the Bitcoin-adjacent attention on that, it’s possible that the person transferring the Bitfinex bitcoin thought the moves would fly under the radar or create intentional market conditions.

Adam Cochran, a financial analyst for Cinneamhain Ventures, noted that the transactions might have been intentionally timed to move the bitcoin market.

“The 2016 Bitfinex hack BTC are some of the most tracked and blacklisted funds in the world,” he tweeted. “No exchange will process them. They can basically never be cashed out. This isn’t the first time that the whale has moved them during a market rally to cause panic and likely cash in a short.” 

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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F2Pool Encodes Money-Printing Headline Into First Post-Coinbase Listing Block

In an echo of the Bitcoin Genesis Block, F2Pool encoded a money-printing headline into the first block it mined after Coinbase went public.

Bitcoin mining pool F2Pool memorialized Coinbase’s first day of public trading with a nod to Bitcoin’s Genesis Block, encoding the text “NYTimes 10/Mar/21 House Gives Final Approval to Biden’s $1.9T Pandemic Relief Bill” into the first Bitcoin block it mined yesterday.

The message was taken from a New York Times headline reporting a recent stimulus package that would necessitate rampant money printing. It echoes the message that Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto encoded into the coinbase data of Bitcoin’s first-ever (or “genesis”) block, which read “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks” in reference to a similar headline.

Coinbase announced that it had asked F2Pool to embed the message as a tribute to Bitcoin history. It was encoded at block height 679,187 and is now an immutable part of the Bitcoin blockchain.

“On 03/Jan/2009, Satoshi coded a message into the Bitcoin Genesis Block,” Coinbase tweeted. “As a nod to Satoshi in our listing today, we asked F2Pool to embed a message in the Bitcoin blockchain.”

As one of the earliest portals for buying bitcoin, Coinbase has been instrumental in BTC adoption. Its public listing, which saw it reach a valuation around $85 billion, is a significant marker of Bitcoin’s growth since its Genesis Block. The fact that a recent headline so closely resembling the one that Satoshi chose could be embedded into the blockchain to mark this occasion is a sign that the world needs Bitcoin now as much as ever.

Source: Bitcoin magazine

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Paxful: Hacked User Data Offer Is “Fake”

A recent forum post offering the personal data of millions of Paxful users has been called “fake” by the exchange’s CEO.

Last week, a user called “Mafufi” took to stolen data marketplace RaidForums to offer user and employee data from cryptocurrency exchange Paxful including their “first name, last name, date of birth, gender, address, phone number, email [and] passwords,” in exchange for 1 BTC.

Shortly afterward, Paxful CEO Ray Youssef took to Twitter to clarify that the offered information could not really be for sale.

“Any KYC data is never on our servers. We don’t take asking for people’s identities lightly,” Youssef tweeted. “1 BTC for millions of users? We get this leak spam all the time. Always fake. No user data leaked.”

Youssef went on to write that he was “still confirming if some employee data was leaked from [a] third-party payroll site.”

Nevertheless, the forum post received significant attention from the Bitcoin community, which is particularly adverse to the idea of user data being collected, shared or sold without consent. As a decentralized, middleman-free platform, the ultimate vision for Bitcoin is to enable users to operate pseudonymously and without their private information being recorded or shared. Furthermore, a long history of hacks and scams in the space has led to innumerable funds being lost and potential harm to data hack victims who would be known to hold significant amounts of bitcoin.

Source: Bitcoin magazine