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This Week in Crypto and Blockchain: Crypto Market Begins 2020 Trading Sideways

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This Week in Crypto and Blockchain: Crypto Market Begins 2020 Trading Sideways

This week started with the crypto market registering slight gains. Bitcoin (BTC), the leading coin in terms of market cap went as high as $7,454. Ether (ETH) and ripple (XRP) also followed suit to set daily highs at $136 and $0.1987 respectively. However, this bullish momentum did not last. As a result, most coins in the top-10 list of market capitalization plunged.

BTC closed trading on Monday trading at $7,293. On Tuesday, bears and bulls were both present in the BTC market. While the coin made decent gains to reach a daily high of $7,335, bears became dominant once again causing the coin to plummet as low as $7,169. The mixed forces in the market saw BTC crossover into 2020 trading at $7,193.

At the time of writing, BTC is trading at $7,135, a 1.13 percent loss over the past 24 hours. According to data from Coinmarketcap, ETH and XRP also failed to crossover into 2020 with gains. At the moment, ETH is trading at $129 and XRP is changing hands at $0.1911. In the top-10, all coins but tezos (XTZ) are bleeding. The biggest losers are bitcoin SV (BSV) and bitcoin cash (BCH) after losing 3.33 percent and 2.2 percent respectively over the last 24 hours.

$12.5 Million Worth of XRP Moved from Bithumb Exchange

Stepping away from the state of the crypto market, ripple (XRP) has once again disappointed its investors. A report unveiled this information, noting that $12.5 million in XRP had been moved from Bithumb exchange to an unknown account. Per the publication, the total number of XRP involved in this transaction was 64,000,000.

According to the report, this transaction came as XRP continues facing tokenomics concerns. Despite the adoption of XRP’s services and products by financial institutions, the coin’s performance has been deplorable. While BTC surged by almost 100 percent over the past year, XRP plunged by 46 percent, causing its investors a lot of distress.

Per Mati Greenspan, a crypto market analyst, XRP’s poor performance is a result of two factors relating to its tokenomics. These are the fact that XRP has a lot of selling from its parent firm and that financial institutions do not need to buy XRP to use its services.

Coinbase Set to Remove DApp Browser from Its Wallet to Comply with Apple Store’s Regulations

Moving on, Coinbase has unveiled that it is considering removing DApp Browser from its crypto wallet app. The firm unveiled that it made this decision so that the Apple app store would continue hosting it. Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s CEO revealed this news via a Reddit post, noting that Apple seems to be trying to eliminate the use of DApps from its App Store.

According to his post, DApp users would have to switch to desktop versions. He added that they would have to scan a QR code through WalletLink to be able to use the DApps on Coinbase’s wallet. However, Armstrong believes that not all hope is gone. He claimed that DApp users can help prevent the elimination of DApps from the App Store by requesting Apple to accommodate DApps.

He said,

If Apple customers want to be able to use Dapps, we may need to make this request know to Apple in some way. This is an important area of innovation in finance, and many developers and early adopters of this technology have millions of dollars worth of crypto tied up in these financial applications, which they will no longer be able to use on Apple mobile devices if this app store policy continues.

South Korea Imposes $69 Million Tax Obligation on Bithumb Exchange

In government-related crypto affairs, the National Tax Service of South Korea (NTS) decided to withhold income tax from Bithumb exchange’s foreign customers. A report unveiled this news on December 31, noting that NTS had imposed a tax obligation of approximately 80 billion won (more than $69 million). Reportedly, the NTS made this decision before the amending of the country’s laws to allow crypto taxation.

Per the publication, South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance unveiled that the 2020 tax reform would introduce crypto taxation. Industry experts believe that NTS’ move against Bithumb means that the government intends to keep its word. However, the NTS did not follow the correct procedure by withholding the funds. This is because Bithumb should be in charge of withholding and depositing the tax to the country’s treasury.

Seeing that the tax agency did not act diligently, Bithumb revealed that it would take legal action against the tax claim. As a result, the final payment may vary from the stated amount. According to industry experts, Bithumb is likely to succeed if it takes legal action against the tax agency. This is because NTS did not follow any tax rules while withholding the funds.

Bitcoin Scammers Threaten to Cut Victims’ Electricity Unless They are Paid

In other news, Canadian Bitcoin scammers have been targeting the customers of Toronto Hydro, a leading electric utility in Canada. A report revealed this information, noting that the scammers have been calling the customers threatening to disconnect their electricity unless they pay them in BTC.

Per the report, Toronto Hydro is aware that the scammers have been targeting its customers. As a result, the firm cautioned its clients to beware of the scammers. It noted that it would never disconnect a client’s electricity before reaching out via multiple channels. On top of this, the firm asserted that it does not accept BTC payments. Also, the company reassured its customers that it would not cut their power even if they have unpaid bills.

In related news, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) urged Canadians to beware of scammers that are sending bomb threats to their victims. Per the police, the extortionists claimed to have mounted explosives on their victims’ cars or houses. They then threatened to blow up their victims’ property unless they are paid in BTC.

UEFA Set to Tokenize 20K VIP Tickets Using an Ethereum Mobile Wallet

In some bullish news for the blockchain sector, AlphaWallet, an Ethereum mobile wallet, has announced that it would tokenize over 20,000 VIP EUFA Euro 2020 tickets. AlphaWallet’s CEO Victor Zhang disclosed the progress of this initiative during an interview. He unveiled that this program is a partnership between his firm and Shankai, UEFA’s official sales agent.

According to a report, all VIP ticket holders in this year’s UEFA Euro tournament would use the blockchain. Powered by the Ethereum blockchain, AlphaWallet is not new in the blockchain space. The startup first tested the first phase of this program during the FIFA World Cup in 2018. Per AlphaWallet, its experience during the tournament was successful.

Explaining the importance of the blockchain, Victor noted that it functions in the same manner that trusted third parties did in the past.

He added that,

In 5 to 10 years from now, if you ask a business ‘Do you have tokens?’ they will have the same feeling as if you ask them, ‘Do you have a website?

Number of Blockchain Companies in Israel Grew By 32 Percent in 2019

In more positive news for the blockchain sector, the number of blockchain firms in Israel grew by 32 percent in the past year. A report unveiled this news on December 31, noting that there were 150 blockchain companies in Israel as of December 2019. While the growth in 2019 was moderate compared to 2018, the progress is significant considering the harsh market conditions in the past year.

According to the report, all 150 companies are not operational. Apart from that, the remaining firms do not deal with the blockchain exclusively. They reportedly major in other sectors including software development, FinTech, and cyber. While the firms managed to stay afloat, they have been facing various challenges. The most significant of these challenges is that capital raising was very weak in 2019 compared to the previous years.

Per the publication, out of the 150 companies, only four are older than five years. Most of the startups are new with 30 percent having been founded in 2017. Another 30 percent of the firms were established in 2018. Most of these firms are also relatively small, with most employing an average of 10 employees.

DLive Joins BitTorrent to Simplify Blockchain-based Content Sharing

Still on the blockchain sector, BitTorrent, a P2P file-sharing platform unveiled that DLive, a blockchain-based live streaming platform had joined its ecosystem. BitTorrent noted that this collaboration would introduce DLive’s P2P content sharing and live streaming capabilities to BitTorrent’s 100 million monthly users.

According to Justin Sun, BitTorrent’s CEO, decentralized content platforms are the future. He said this in light of YouTube’s recent ban on all crypto-related content.

He said,

It’s unfortunate to see content platforms such as YouTube taking down crypto-related content, this is the issue with centralized agencies. Decentralized content platforms such as TRON’s newest partner DLive are the platforms of the future.

This partnership will also see DLive merge its accounts with BitTorrent to integrate both communities further. For instance, BLive will migrate to DLive. Also, DLive will be able to advertise its products and services on BitTorrent networks. In so doing, the duo aims to create awareness for decentralized content sharing.

New York Judge Sets Virgil Griffith’s Bails at $1 Million

Moving on, a US judge granted Virgil Griffith, Ethereum’s co-founder conditional bail at the US District Court in New York. The judge set the bail at $1 million and it is secured by the homes of his father and sister. This news comes after US authorities arrested Griffith on thanksgiving on charges of traveling to North Korea and teaching how to dodge sanctions using crypto.

Reportedly, Griffith first appealed for bail on December 26. On Monday, Judge Vernon S. Broderick granted him bail under several pre-release terms. Although prosecutors had asked the judge to deny Griffith bail claiming that he was a flight risk, the judge granted the bail on condition that he stays at his father’s house in Alabama.  On top of this, Judge Broderick barred him from entering the state of California.

However, Judge Broderick permitted him to use his passport. He also allowed him to access his email and use a computer under supervision.

Electricity Shortage Pushes China to Tighten Clampdowns on Crypto Mining

Regarding crypto mining, local authorities of the Chinese province of Sichuan have cracked down on BTC mining in the region. This move comes as the region continues facing a power shortage. A report unveiled this news, noting that the authorities are also going after the power stations that supply miners with electricity.

According to the report, authorities fined two power stations in Sichuan a whopping $140,000 for supplying electricity to unlicensed mining businesses. While the power plants in Sichuan generate surplus electricity in the wet season, they fail to generate enough during the dry season. As a result, the region experiences power shortages during the dry season. This has become worse considering mining businesses have flocked the region to take advantage of the cheap electricity during the wet season.

Despite having clear rules on crypto mining, China is still responsible for two-thirds of all mined crypto. Sichuan alone contributes more than 50 percent of the total BTC mining hash rate.

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