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This Week in Crypto: Crypto Market Gains Bullish Momentum; Pushes Market Cap to $219 Billion

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This week kicked off with most coins in the crypto market registering gains. Bitcoin (BTC), the leading crypto coin in terms of market cap opened the week trading at $7,410. BTC continued gaining to set a daily high of $7,781 before correcting downward slightly to close the day trading at $7,769. On Tuesday, BTC continued surging to breach the $8,000 level. The coin traded as high as $8,178 before closing trading at $8,163.

According to data from Coinmarketcap at the time of writing, BTC is up 5.89 percent to change hands at $8,347. Following BTC’s gains, other leading altcoins in the crypto space picked up the bullish momentum, pushing the market cap above $219 billion.

In the top-10, all coins but ripple (XRP), tether (USDT), and bitcoin SV (BSV), and monero (XMR) are green. The biggest gainers are litecoin (LTC), with 6 percent gains over the past 24 hours followed by BTC. Ether (ETH) is currently trading at $145, registering a 1.17 gain over the last 24 hours. XRP is down 0.95 percent to change hands at $0.21, and BCH is up 1.2 percent to trade at $244.

Telegram Revokes Promises to Investors After Regulatory Scrutiny

Stepping away from the condition of the crypto market, Telegram has rescinded promises that it made to its investors during its $1.7 billion capital raise. A report unveiled this news on January 7, noting that the firm took this action in response to SEC’s scrutiny that stopped the mass sale of Grams in the past year.

In the report, the firm said,

Telegram is under no obligation, and makes no promise or commitment, to ever establish a TON Foundation or similar entity in the future.

Telegram added that,

At the time of the anticipated launch of the TON Blockchain, Telegram’s TON Wallet application is expected to be made available solely on a stand-alone basis and will not be integrated with the Telegram Messenger service.

In its notice, Telegram also noted that it was not obliged to maintain the TON platform nor create any applications for it. On top of this, it warned that the value of Grams may decrease over time or that the coins may lose their monetary value entirely.

Baidu Rolls Out a Cryptocurrency Dubbed Xuperchain

Moving on, Baidu, a Chinese internet tech giant has launched a crypto coin dubbed Xuperchain. The firm rolled out this coin as China continues working towards creating a central bank digital currency. A report revealed that Baidu rolled out the open network for its coin on January 6. The open network runs on Baidu’s self-developed technology. Reportedly, this technology consists of super alliance nodes that the firm intends to distribute across China.

Per the report, Baidu seeks to use its blockchain for apps and payments. The firm noted that Xuperchain would provide users with an environment for rapid deployment and operation of blockchain apps and computing. It added that the tech would minimize user deployment and operation and make trust links more convenient.

According to Baidu, Xuperchain has several advantages over its competitors. These include autonomous security with low-cost payments, capabilities of handling 10,000 transactions per second, and an in-built blockchain explorer.

Litecoin Foundation Joins Hands with BitGo

Regarding crypto-related partnerships, the Litecoin Foundation announced that it sought to work with BitGo, a leading crypto custody provider in the industry. While the Litecoin Foundation and other LTC holders are not obliged to deposit funds with a custodian, doing so offers institutional-grade security. The foundation unveiled this news via a tweet, noting that it had selected BitGo as its custody solution.

According to a report, neither firm has disclosed the details of this agreement. However, speculations claim that the Litecoin Foundation will either offer its customers a custodial wallet directly or store its funds with BitGo.

Should the foundation store its fund with BitGo, this will not be the first time it has made such an investment. Before this agreement, the Litecoin Foundation stored its funds with Celsius, a crypto lending and banking network. Apart from this, the firm has a stake in WEG, a German bank owned by TokenPay.

Malicious Google Chrome Extension Steals Crypto Worth $16,000

Still on the crypto sector, a malicious Google Chrome extension that managed to make it to the Chrome Web Store stole over $16,000 worth of crypto. Dubbed Ledge Secure, the extension claims to serve as a crypto wallet inside Google Chrome. A report unveiled this news on January 6, noting that at least one user confirmed losing crypto after installing the extension.

Per the publication, Google has already banned the Ledger Secure extension. The tech giant has also called on anyone that had installed the extension to check their wallet balance to ensure they did not lose any funds. At the time of writing, it is still unclear how many crypto holders fell victim to this extension during the period it was available.  

Apart from Google’s action, Ledger confirmed that the extension was not a legitimate add-on. The firm urged its users to avoid installing the extension on their devices, noting that anyone that had installed it should contact them.

TaxBit Raises $5 Million from Dragonfly and Winklevoss Capital

In other news, TaxBit, a crypto-focused tax compliance firm closed its seed funding round after raising $5 million. The firm announced this news on Monday, noting that these funds came from a wide array of VC companies. These include Winklevoss Capital, Fintech venture firm, TTV Capital, Dragonfly Capital Partners, and Album VC among others.

According to the firm, it seeks to use the newly acquired funds to improve the software of its tax calculating platform. The company also aims to use the funds in its global expansion plan, which involves branching out into Canada, the UK, and Australia. While TaxBit primarily targeted retail customers with its tax calculating solutions, it now aims to develop an enterprise tax center suite.

Explaining why Winklevoss Capital chose to invest in TaxBit, Sterling Witzke, a partner at the firm said,

Navigating cryptocurrency tax laws is a byzantine process. TaxBit’s technology eliminates this confusion and complexity by allowing crypto owners to seamlessly understand the full picture of their tax liability through an intuitive and easy-to-use platform. Solving for this pain point is integral to accelerating cryptocurrency adoption, and we are thrilled to back TaxBit on this mission.

SEC Seeks to Distribute $1.4 Million to PlexCoin Victims

In what might be a sigh of relief for PlexCoin victims, the SEC is planning to distribute $1.4 million of the seized funds. A report unveiled this news on January 7, noting that the regulator aims to refund this amount in one distribution. This news comes after the SEC requested court permission to distribute these funds.

The regulator’s filing read,

The SEC is considering recommending to this Court that the U.S. Assets be sent to the Receiver to effect one, single distribution to harmed investors. Prior to making such a recommendation, the SEC is ascertaining whether the Proposed Plan, and the accompanying claims process, is fair and reasonable and whether investors would be better served by one distribution as opposed to a second, separate distribution in the United States.

Explaining why it prefers a single distribution, the SEC claimed that involving a third party would reduce the distribution amount significantly. Per the SEC, PlexCoin victims lost more than $8 million. It added that involving a third party would reduce this amount to around $5 million, thus defeating the aim of maximizing the amount each victim receives.

In crypto crime news, crypto hackers have begun hijacking the channels of popular YouTubers to propagate crypto scams. A report unveiled this news on January 6, noting that one such scam saw hacker make $15,000 in XRP.

According to the report, Roth Wellden, an artist had his channel with 310,000 subscribers hacked. After hacking the account, the attacker deleted all his videos before changing his name and profile picture to those if Changpeng Zhao, Binance’s CEO. The hacker then ran a live stream dubbed “BINANCELIVE: Interview with Binance CEO, Announce BTC Giveaway”. This resulted in the hacker promising an airdrop of 5,000 BTC to people that sent their BTC addresses. As a result, all subscribers that sent their addresses fell victim to the scam.

In another instance, Adam Jicha, a popular Czech gaming enthusiast with 300,000 subscribers had his channel hacked. His account ended up on the darknet and the hacker sold it for 0.45 BTC. However, he managed to get his account back after YouTube stepped in.

Turkey Gears Up to Increase Oversight in the Crypto Sector

Meanwhile, Turkey authorities are preparing to introduce greater oversight in the crypto space following the alarming spread of crypto in the country. A report unveiled this news, noting that the Central Markets Board of Turkey (CMB) is hastening the creation of mechanisms that will introduce sterner regulation in the crypto space.

According to the report, this hurried response comes after several indicators unveiled that Turkey is among the countries that have the highest number of crypto holders in the world. A publication estimated that the number of Turks that hold crypto is approximately 1 million. Prior to this, a survey revealed that a fifth of Turkey’s population admitted to having used or owned crypto.

Per the Turkish government, it is important to introduce crypto regulation seeing as criminals could use crypto for manipulation.

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