So what’s new crypto-lovers? Are you all as excited as I am? How do you feel about the recent price break about $15,000, and what does it mean to you? Could the collective predictions by “top wall street analysts” pricing bitcoin anywhere between $25,000 and $100,000 in the next couple years have some weight to them? After all, they are the “top wall street analysts”; not just armchair quarterbacks but some of the most well-trained, well-groomed and well-paid citizens of the universe.

Ponzi Schemes Alive and Well in Bitcoin (Still)

The (now defunct cryptocurrency investment group known as PlexCorps was abruptly shut down by the SEC last week, after facing charges of “running a digital currency investment scam” that took millions from investors while promising ridiculously unheard of fixed profits of 13,000%. Of course, there is no way a company of this size and competence could ever come close to reaching such returns – much less on a regular basis. The SEC in their infinite wisdom recognized this and immediately froze millions of dollars of stolen funds in a warning signal for future ICO crackdowns to come.

Cryptocurrency futures exchanges are expected to roll out across major commodity markets before the end of the year, which will give investors the opportunity to not only make bet on the continued rise of the price of BTC, but also gives them the chance to bet against it as well through such futures trading markets. This will also give voting power (through the purchase or sales of bitcoin futures) to those who truly believe that bitcoin itself is indeed a Ponzi scheme, of which there are plenty. Because the SEC has been stepping in so heavily into their crackdown on ICOs, Ponzis and other crypto-related fraud schemes in the last couple months, some are declaring the “bitcoin gold rush” to be over, removing some of its accompanying “Wild West” persona with it, for better or for worse.

Steam Will No Longer Accept Bitcoin

The legendary, next-gen game development studio Steam (owned by Valve) announced last week that they would no longer be accepting bitcoin for their in-platform purchases for games, mods, add-ins, expansion packs, etc. The company cites bitcoin’s high level of volatility as the reason they will no longer accept the cryptocurrency, claiming that conversion to fiat withdrawals and deposits take too long and are therefore subject to gigantic price swings witch may wipe out the company’s ability to make a profit on sales transactions. A blogger at Steam recently summarized the rational behind their decision as such:

At this point, it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option. We may re-evaluate whether Bitcoin makes sense for us and for the Steam community later. We will continue working to resolve any pending issues for customers who are impacted by existing underpayments or transaction fees.

Fake Kittens Bog Down Ethereum Network

The blockchain-based game, which has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last year, is the first non coin-based application to run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine. “We wanted to explore blockchain applications outside of ICOs and cryptocurrencies,” quoted Bryce Bladon, communications manager for the blockchain startup. So far, this particular “smart contract”-driven ICO has made it one the most successful to come out of the Ethereum development space, providing investors with a 1,350% return in less than 30 days after of release. One such kitten card was sold for $6000 last week, meaning that as much as it might seem like it, the blockchain-based virtual kitten game is no joke.

More than 22,000 “cats” have been sold thus far for a grand total of $3 million. The concept is so popular and widely utilized that CryptoKitten-related transactions now account for over 14% of all Ethereum network activity. This is causing a problem for the remainder of the network which now has to operate somewhat more slowly to accommodate for all these fake kitties being traded around, effectively slowing down everybody else’s transactions. Though it doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense to us, CryptoKitties are becoming something of the new Digital Pokémon, whose value comes from being a collectable item rather than something to be used for an end purpose. Nevertheless, the blockchain-based game continues to build momentum and will likely sell millions more in virtual kittens before the fad dies down.

Also in the News

Advanced trading bots using quantitative algorithms are now on the loose, guaranteed to increase the overall number of transactions on the bitcoin network while simultaneously providing more liquidity and tighter bid/ask spreads.

Slovenian cryptocurrency NiceHash suffered a devastating attack, with hackers stealing close to $70 million in bitcoin in what is being called one of the most highly sophisticated exchange hacking operations seen to date.