In this edition, we examine how quickly the tides can turn in Wall Street’s love/hate relationship with bitcoin, take a look at some of the positive coverage come out of online financial media, and discuss the sometimes annoying and sometimes not so annoying intrusion of unsolicited mining ware.

BTC Stabilizes on Healthy PR and New Wall Street Endorsements

While the majority Wall Street executive types remain doomsayers and relatively unenthusiastic about bitcoin and the future of cryptocurrency, other noteworthy figures have recently given it their full embrace, to the point where long-standing financial know-it-all publications like The Motley Fool are all but endorsing BTC as a vehicle for personal savings. A recent article by the publication (authored by the same analyst who once put a $1 million prediction price tag on BTC) noted that $10 worth of bitcoin in 2010 would now be worth an astonishing $13.9 million, making it a highly superior investment, in hindsight.

Even the fact that other major publications like CNBC are having to tell their readers that jumping into cryptocurrency investments for long-term or retirement goals may not be the best idea signifies that their readership is increasingly interested in doing so. Also last week was a guide published by The Huffington Post offering readers clues as to why cryptocurrency is a legitimate form of money, and is here to stay — a retort to the bombshell dropped by JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s that bitcoin was an outright “fraud.” Dimon’s comments have come into heavy scrutiny by the community as of late, with suggestions that his wanton disapproval of bitcoin may actually backfire and work in the favor of bitcoin’s popularity.

More Governments Beginning to Crack Down on Fraud in Crypto

The famous E-Coin scandal has been in the public eye for quite some time, with their questionable design structure and Pyramid scheme-like user referral system frequently coming under criticism and scrutiny by the blockchain community. Without a decentralized blockchain or the ability of users to control their own funds, E-Coin was regarded as heavily suspicious, an instinct that was proven right earlier last week.

Financial regulators in Switzerland had long been investigating creators of the fraudulent cryptocurrency, slowly building a case against them 2016. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) recently announced that, in addition to recovering over $2 million from the business association that owned E-Coin, they had 12 other cryptocurrencies of dubious design and operation in their crosshairs for future investigations. The operations of the E-Coin association were quickly shut down and their assets seized by the Swiss government in an effort to send a signal to would-be future cryptocurrency criminals.

Both Koreas Enter the Mining Game

One unlikely government to fully embrace bitcoin is that of North Korea, which has recently added bitcoin mining operations to aid government income. Though their present mining income is dwarfed by military and other expenditures, it theoretically gives the isolated kingdom a bit more solidarity, control of their own money supply, and the ability to skirt around heavy-handed international sanctions. Other cash-strapped countries that are considering bitcoin as a reliable store of value (when compared to the unhinged monetary system of their central governments) including that of Venezuela, where government officials liken the shift to the process of “becoming a cashless society… we are starting to see in Venezuela, the first bitcoinization of a sovereign state.”

Meanwhile in South Korea, a country that already hosts a disproportionately large amount of bitcoin miners and users, exchange activity is picking up due to incoming refugee traders from China, who were recently forced to seek elsewhere after a couple of their biggest exchanges announced their imminent closure earlier this month. Korean cryptocurrency mining groups are taking to Ethereum which tends to be easier and less competitive to mine. Notably, South Korea is also leading the way in Bitcoin Cash (BCH) mining, finding it to be an immensely profitable alternative to BTC mining.

Mining Gone Bad: Malware Miners

Cryptocurrency mining is not always proving to be great for everybody, especially thousands of cellphone and computer users who have had cryptocurrency-mining malware covertly installed on their devices, and without their permission. Though illicit use of large public, private or institutional network computational power to secretly mine bitcoin is nothing new, ever-more sophisticated and clandestine attempts to secretly use personal device CPU and GPU to mine cryptocurrencies are on the rise, mainly taking the form of undetected malware. The malware may be as innocuous as a Google Chrome extension plugin, or may be advertised in a straightforward manner on sites like The Pirate Bay, which states that the attempt is an experiment to replace advertisement revenue.

The Pirate Bay’s novel model of site-based revenue, which basically runs JavaScript programs that harness visitor CPU, does so explicitly with visitor permission. This sets them apart from malware-type mining operations that do not offer any sort of disclosure of their ill-willed activities. The underlying philosophical justification of The Pirate Bay model is to offer an ad-free website for “a few of your CPU cycles every time you visit the site,” which seems like a far more attractive deal than having your CPUs being stolen without your permission. To combat such a possibility, AdBlock has released a mining malware prevention utility, free of charge, which promises to block unwanted cryptocurrency mining operations from taking place on your device. If your computer seems slow, hot, or you just want a piece of mind, the instructions on how to configure the AdBlock settings can be found here.

Also in the News

  • Roger Ver, bitcoin early adopter and known as “Bitcoin Jesus” in some circles, has predicted yet another “bitcoin split” as soon as November. While there technically only remains one bitcoin (BTC), part of the SegWit agreement that went into effect on August 1st dictated that there would be a hard fork in bitcoin to upgrade block sizes from 1 MB to 2 MB. This decision was high contentious and left many community heads at odds with each other and generally dissatisfied with the outcome.
  • The Business Standard released a comprehensive article detailing certain approaches that the world’s financial powers are taking to deal with the regulation of bitcoin. At the core of the issue lies the matter of whether bitcoin will be able to hold up to the same scrutiny that banks, corporations, stock exchanges and IPOs are forced to under in order to enjoy the benefits of full regulatory status.
  • Perhaps the most bitcoin-friendly country of all, Japan, has decided to blockchain-ize their financial markets to better streamline rapidly incoming financial data. The Japanese government has had a relatively open-arms policy when it comes to bitcoin and use of blockchain technology, despite being home to the headquarters of the infamous exchange MtGOX.