This week began with most coins in the top-100 list recording slight gains. In the morning hours of Monday, all coins in the top-10 but USDT were green. However, the bullish momentum died out and the market went back to trading sideways. On Tuesday, bears took over the market, pulling BTC’s price down from the 7,500 level to the $7,200 level
At the time of writing, BTC is trading at $7,291, registering a 0.74 percent loss over the past 24 hours. Ethereum (ETH) and ripple (XRP) are also bleeding with 0.46 percent and 0.15 percent losses respectively. ETH is currently trading at $146 and XRP is changing hands at $0.22.
In the top-10, only USDT, BCH, LTC and BSV are green today. The biggest gainer is USDT followed by LTC, whereas the biggest losers are EOS and BNB according to data from Coinmarketcap.
China’s Central Bank Plans to Launch National Digital Currency in Two Cities
Stepping away from the crypto market, China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has unveiled that it seeks to launch its much-awaited CBDC in two cities. These are Shenzhen and Suzhou. The bank disclosed this information on December 9, noting that this launch will be for testing purposes.
According to a report, PBoC joined hands with seven state-owned firms. Out of the seven companies, four are commercial banks and the remaining three are telecom firms. At the moment, the names of these partners remain unknown.
This news comes after a recent publication revealed that PBoC would distribute the first batch of the digital currency through several leading banks in the country. These are the China Construction Bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and the Agricultural Bank of China. Apart from these, PBoC also unveiled that it would use UnionPay and other two leading telecom firms to distribute the coin.
New Ruling Lets Nordea Bank Bar Employees from Investing in Crypto
Moving on, Danish courts passed a ruling that permits Nordea Bank to prevent its employees from investing in bitcoin (BTC) and other crypto coins. A report disclosed this information on December 10, noting that this move aims to reduce the risks associated with crypto.
Per the publication, this ruling came after Denmark’s union for financial industry employees filed a lawsuit against the bank. The union filed the complaint after Nordea Bank allegedly issued a memo in January 2018 warning its employees that the risks of trading in crypto were too high. Nordea Bank claimed that the crypto market was widely unregulated. It added that the sector harbors criminal activities such as money laundering.
Speaking against the bank’s decision, Kent Petersen, the union’s chairman said,
We filed suit because of the principle that everyone obviously has a private life and the right to act as a private individual. It was important for us and our members to establish what rights managers have. In this case, it was more far-reaching than what we find to be appropriate.
While the Danish courts favored the bank’s decision to restrict crypto trading among its employees, this ban does not apply to previously owned crypto assets.
Bakkt Partners with CME Group to Offer Cash-settled Bitcoin Futures Options
In positive news for crypto adoption, Bakkt, the first platform that managed to launch physically-settled BTC futures has expanded its catalog. The firm joined hands with the CME Group to offer users cash-settled Bitcoin futures. The firms launched this option on December 9.
After launch, the product received high acceptance with the exchange recording a volume of 1,250 BTC. This is a major improvement from the volume of 72 BTC that the exchange registered on the first day of rolling out physically settled BTC futures.
Reportedly, the cash-settled BTC futures will be available for trading on ICE Futures Singapore. The exchange is set to offer this product to Asian users and other users across the globe.
Commenting on this achievement, Bakkt’s COO, Adam White said,
These new contracts represent an important milestone in the development of this emerging asset class and our bitcoin product complex.
Brave Chosen as the Official Browser for the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship
In bullish partnerships for the nascent sector, Brave Software unveiled that the Brave browser had been selected as the official browser for the 2019 E-1 Soccer Championship. Hosted by the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) in South Korea, this event began yesterday and is set to run until December 18.
According to the official announcement, the stadium will have a Brave LED board. This move is reportedly part of EAFF’s wider goal of expanding its outreach from East Asia to the world. The deal with Brave involves a co-marketing campaign. This campaign will provide fans with a new experience of watching soccer through the Brave browser.
The partnership involves three initiatives. These are Color the Cheer, AI Match Forecast, and Brave Award.
Bitcoin Ransomware Attack in Argentina Encrypts 7,700GB Worth of Government Files
In other news, Hackers attacked a data center in Argentina and managed to encrypt a decade worth of government files. A report on December 9 unveiled this news, stating that the attackers got their hands on 7.7TB worth of data after gaining access to a data center on November 25.
Per the publication, the attackers demanded an undisclosed amount of BTC to decrypt the files. The government failed to comply with their demands and decided to decrypt the files using its resources. According to the country’s minister of Science and Technology, Alicia Banuelos, they managed to decrypt 90 percent of the data.
This news comes as Bitcoin ransomware attacks continue becoming more prevalent. Before Argentina’s attack, hackers attacked Spain’s largest radio station Cadena SER. They demanded $827,000 worth of BTC to decrypt the station’s systems.
Romanian Hackers Get 20 Years in Prison for Cryptojacking
In related news, a US court sentenced two cryptojackers to 20 years in prison. The two were reportedly members of the Bayrob Group, which stole computer power to mine more than $4 million in BTC and XMR. The court charged the duo with 21 separate accounts of wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft among other crimes.
A report unveiled this news on December 9 noting, that the two hackers will serve their time in US prisons. Bogdan Nicolescu, the leader of the group and his conspirator Radu Miclaus worked with another member Tiberiu Danet to install mining malware in more than 400,000 computers.
While Nicolescu and Miclaus have already been sentenced, Danet’s hearing is set for January in the coming year. This news comes after he pled guilty to eight charges in November last year.
Researchers Discover New Mac Malware That Masquerades as a Crypto App
Still on crypto-related hacking, Researchers discovered new malware targeting Apple computers. The malware is fileless as it infects Mac computers and hides in the memory. It is unique as it does not touch the drives or files. Once it infects a computer, it masquerades as a piece of crypto trading malware dubbed UnionCryptoTrader.dmg.
Reportedly, this malware is suspected to be the work of Lazurus APT, a North Korean hacking group. The malware infects Mac OS computers by adding an executable file to the boot process. As a result, it becomes invisible to the computer’s user, therefore, hard to remove. The executable then searches for different online payloads and runs them in memory. This ensures that the installed anti-virus software does not detect its activity.
Per VirusTotal, a security research service, only 19 out of 72 Mac OS anti-virus apps can detect this malware.
eToro Set to Begin Issuing Debit Cards in the Coming Year
eToro, a multi-asset investment platform, and social network unveiled that it is set to start issuing debit cards in the second quarter of 2020. A report disclosed this news on December 9, noting that the platform’s users will be able to spend their earnings through a debit card.
According to the report, this service is set to go live in the UK first. While Amy Butler, the firm’s head of PR and communications confirmed that they are working on a debit card, she declined to give more details.
This news comes as eToro continues expanding its services. Before this, the firm acquired Delta a crypto portfolio app for approximately $5 million. The firm sought to integrate this app with the eToro platform to helps its users monitor and trade up to 6,000 crypto coins seamlessly.