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SunnyAugust 18, 2018


Tough times for cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Having hit $950 Bn last year, the cryptocurrency market valuation has been continuously going down since then. While Bitcoin, this week, having plunged below $6K is back to $6.5K now; however, crypto marvels clearly indicate tougher times ahead for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Warning that over 90% of the cryptocurrencies are heading to disappear, Hong kong-based Bitcoin Wallet Xapo’s President Ted Rogers tweeted, “We could be in the midst of the extinction-level event for “cryptoassets” that many maximalists have predicted. 90%+ of @CoinMarketCap list will disappear eventually – might as well happen now.”

Brian Armstrong, Chief executive of San Francisco-based leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase too voiced similar opinion. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that only about 10% of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, will be used in real life applications such as in games and other purchases online; however, the mass Bitcoin adoption for payments is going to take a long time.

Bill Harris, former CEO of Paypal too joined the Bitcoin bubble debate. Speaking of Bitcoin, Bill averred that Bitcoin is a “cult”, heading “straight to zero.” Harris, however, later clarified that he didn’t mean absolute zero but near to zero.

Let’s take a look at this week’s crypto developments!

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SunnyAugust 18, 2018


It’s a familiar scenario.

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You forget a password to a website or log in from a new computer, and get locked out of your account. The website or your bank sends a text to confirm it’s you. Most of the time it is.

But the person receiving that text could be a hacker. Criminals are using a method known as “SIM swapping” to take over phone number accounts by duping wireless carriers, and in some cases stealing millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.

“In online banking, if someone gets into your account there’s ways to get the money back,” said Kyle Samani, managing partner at crypto hedge fund Multicoin Capital. “In crypto, if hackers get access to your your private keys, they own your money and you’re screwed.”

This week, a California man sued AT&T for $224 million after hackers used his number to steal $24 million worth of cryptocurrency stored on an online exchange. The plaintiff Michael Terpin accused AT&T of negligence, and likened it to “a hotel giving a thief with a fake ID a room key and a key to the room safe to steal jewelry in the safe from the rightful owner.”

Terpin is hardly the only one to suffer a hack. The total in cryptocurrency lost by individuals hit $1.6 billion at the end of June, according to CoinDesk’s 2018 State of Blockchain Report.

In order to stop the trend, cybersecurity and industry experts say investors should guard their cellphone numbers with the same paranoia with which they guard their social security numbers.

Wireless store employees can assign your phone number to any device, with the right authorization. To confirm, they ask for pieces of private information like a birthday or a social security number. But those can be easily accessed for a price.

“Data is being bought, sold and traded on the dark web,” said Aaron Higbee, chief technology officer and co-founder of anti-phishing company Cofense. “If your phone number is of a sufficient age, you’re on a database somewhere.”

While one piece of data like a birthday might not be valuable on its own, combined with your phone number or address it can be used to answer those security questions from a wireless store employee.

After a criminal hacks into the person’s email or cryptocurrency account from their own devices, what’s known as “two-factor identification” will send a text code to the phone number as a form of security, and to prevent any sort of unauthorized log in. But because the hacker now controls that phone number, there’s no way of the rightful owner regaining control or stopping the hack.

This happened to a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist who invests in early stage tech companies. He asked not to be named for this story because he did not want to be targeted again, and feared he might egg on the hackers.

He was in his office on Monday when he was suddenly logged out of both his personal and business email accounts. When he turned on his AT&T phone, the device had no signal. Because of his experience in cryptocurrency and the tech world, he recognized it as a SIM swap attack. He immediately called his wireless carrier through Skype, and quickly went to the store to regain access to his cell phone but “not quickly enough.”

“This was the perfect storm,” he said. “If I was on vacation or didn’t know what to do immediately, they would have taken everything in my bank account.”

He was able to regain control of his email but not his Coinbase account. Hackers had already moved the cryptocurrency he held to another account, and had attempted to wire money from his CitiBank account, which was refunded by the bank, he said.

The total amount stolen was roughly $5,000 — which he says is no where near the total of his crypto holdings because the rest was stored offline.

Savvy, and in some cases paranoid, crypto investors opt to keep their funds in what’s known as “cold storage.” The method allows you to store digital currency offline, away from any internet access and therefore makes it harder to hack.

Cryptocurrency exchange Abra does not store any of its customers funds online for this very reason, according to CEO Bill Barhydt. He called storing private keys online “the worst idea in the history of bad ideas.” Those who want to keep money on an exchange might be trading it frequently, or could be first-time investors who bought in when bitcoin became a household-name in December. The cryptocurrency climbed to nearly $20,000, inviting a wave of first-time retail investors.

Private keys are the only way to access cryptocurrency wallets online. In many cases, people use their phone numbers as the only backup if they forget that code.

“Your phone number right now is a lot more important than your social security number,” Barhydt said. “The average consumer doesn’t pay attention to security until they’ve been hacked.”

It’s still unclear who is legally responsible when a phone number is used to hack into a cryptocurrency account. Exchanges say the customer, and angry customers have blamed exchanges or in the case of Michael Terpin, his wireless carrier.

“The question is, do people believe that telecos have responsibility for protecting your bank account? Maybe that’s a little much to ask,” said Stephen Palley, partner at Anderson Kill and co-chair of the firm’s blockchain and virtual currency group. “A telecommunication company doesn’t have control over what you use your phone for.”

Still, Terpin is seeking damages from AT&T, which told CNBC in an emailed statement, “We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court.”

It’s not just cryptocurrency at risk. Palley said anything for which a cell phone is used as a second way to identify yourself could be at risk if a hacker takes over your phone number.

“People assume that your cell phone is a comfortable and secure way of protecting data,” he said. “It turns out that it’s not.”

If you’re worried about a hack:

  • Consider alternative authentication applications. Cofense’s Aaron Higbee recommended apps like Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, Authy, Duo, or Authenticator plus.
  • Don’t store your cryptocurrency on an exchange for extended periods of time, according to Multicoin Capital’s Kyle Samani.
  • Call your service provider and request additional protections on your account.
  • Consider the risks: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to walk around with your life savings on a crypto wallet in your pocket,” Higbee says.
  • Don’t go bragging about your crypto gains and Lamborghini, or #lambo, on Twitter. “What you’re doing is saying I have all of this money, so hack me personally,” says Higbee.
  • Don’t post a screenshot that includes your wireless carrier (it will usually show up in the top left corner of your phone). Higbee says this applies more to celebrities, who might not want curious wireless employees snooping into their accounts.
  • Don’t post your cellphone number online.

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SunnyAugust 18, 2018


After being arrested by federal agents for allegedly hacking videogame giant Electronic Arts Inc.’s systems, Martin Marsich tried to post a $750,000 bond with cryptocurrency.

That’s when Masich, federal authorities and the court ran into problems that show how difficult it can be to use digital currency in the real world, even as it becomes more prevalent online. In this case making its way through federal court in San Francisco, there were concerns that selling a large stash of small and lightly traded coins could have caused severe fluctuations in their prices.

Last known to reside in Italy, Marsich, 25, has been accused by the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation of infiltrating EA

EA, -1.31%

 systems related to its “FIFA” soccer franchise and stealing roughly $324,000 worth of digital goods, according to court documents. Arrested at San Francisco International Airport amid a sightseeing trip to Los Angeles, Marsich tried to use his stash of cryptocurrency as bail.

Don’t miss: The cryptocurrency market has shed more than $600 billion from its peak — what exactly happened?

While trying to set up the bond, government and defense lawyers spent several minutes hammering out the precise details of the exchange, and one lawyer suggested it wasn’t the first time the issue had come up.

“My sense is that it’s happened before, but it’s not the most common thing, so it might take a couple of days to get set up,” assistant U.S. attorney Ben Kingsley said in an Aug. 9 court hearing, according to an audio tape of the proceedings obtained by MarketWatch. “By then we should have the [cryptocurrency] wallet set up and we can do the transaction with the agents present.”

After trying to set up the bond — including taking steps to create a cryptocurrency wallet to facilitate the transfer — the government reversed course the next week and said it was not, in fact, able to take the digital money.

“Unfortunately, the FBI could not take possession of the cryptocurrency even though part of it would be used for restitution to Electronic Arts, due to liability issues,” assistant U.S. attorney Susan Knight said at an Aug. 13 hearing. “I had extended conversations with their district counsel and they refused to accept it, to have it as part of a bond and part of forfeiture.”

Instead, Knight suggested that Marsich sell $750,000 worth of his cryptocurrency to pay bail — but to sell such a large chunk of the currency Marsich holds could tank the value of the currency because it is thinly traded. And if that happened, Marsich would not be able to pay restitution that could be owed to EA.

Marsich holds several lesser known cryptocurrencies instead of a more well-known currency like bitcoin

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 , and Masich’s lawyer said in court that selling off a $750,000 stake would have the potential to crash the price. MarketWatch was unable to determine the exact currencies Marsich holds Friday.

Ultimately, the prosecutors and the defense agreed that Marsich would sell $200,000 worth of his cryptocurrency via a broker to secure his bail. From court documents, it’s not clear whether the transfer has occurred yet.

While in other parts of the country, court officials may deny such an approach because of a lack of knowledge about cryptocurrencies, that did not appear to be the case in the heart of Silicon Valley. At several points during the various proceedings, those in court showed knowledge of cryptocurrency, including the judge overseeing the case.

“I just went to a conference where I learned all about this,” magistrate judge Jacqueline Corley said in court. “It is very volatile, that I know,” she added later in that hearing.

Marsich is accused of using developer software designed to let two apps communicate, as well as a secret key that EA posses to gain access to EA’s systems and alter databases related to granting tens of thousands people online access to “FIFA 18” and digital content associated with it. The accounts Marsich effectively stole give players access to the game, which normally would cost players up to $60, plus the cost of the additional digital content.

See also: ICO swindlers have absconded with some $100 million in investor dough, research firm says

EA told the FBI that it suspects the hacker sold the stolen accounts over the dark web or online black markets, according to the FBI’s affidavit.

EA spokesman John Reseburg said Friday that EA works hard to protect its players and took steps to mitigate the problem as soon as it discovered the intrusion. No player data was exposed, he said.

During a court hearing earlier in August, Kingsley said that Marsich admitted to federal agents that he converted some of the proceeds from the scheme into cryptocurrency, which he then used for his trip to the U.S.

The hack began Sept. 24 of last year and EA figured out that its systems had been compromised March 25, 2018. Marsich faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

EA stock fell 2.5% this week, as the S&P 500 index

SPX, +0.33%

 rose 0.3%.

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SunnyAugust 17, 2018


LONDON (Reuters) – Cryptocurrency scams are using images of celebrities and upmarket London addresses to hoodwink consumers into parting with cash, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority has said.

FILE PHOTO: Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The warning, first made in June, was reposted on the FCA’s website on Friday.

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether are not regulated in Britain, and the FCA said it has received a rising number of reports about investment scams that claim to offer high returns.

“UK consumers are being increasingly targeted by cryptocurrency-related investment scams,” the FCA said in a statement.

“Cryptocurrency fraudsters tend to advertise on social media, often using the images of celebrities or well-known individuals to promote cryptocurrency investments.”

The ads link to websites for investments either using cryptocurrencies or traditional cash.

“The firms operating the scams are usually based outside of the UK but will claim to have a UK presence, often a prestigious City of London address,” the FCA said.

Given that cryptocurrencies are not regulated, consumers are unlikely to get their money back, and are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the watchdog said.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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SunnyAugust 17, 2018


Digital currencies on Friday were on pace to log three consecutive sessions in the green, with all major coins trading in positive territory.


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the most prominent digital currency, has popped back above $6,500, last trading at $6,519.09, up 4.1% since Thursday at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on the Kraken crypto exchange.

It has been a fruitful 72-hours for digital currency owners that suffered a setback earlier in the week after a vicious selloff wiped $20 billion off the value of all cryptocurrencies in the space of 24-hours. Friday’s broad-based rally has added $12 billion to the market cap of all cryptocurrencies, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Ether at whim of futures market, says analyst


ETHUSD, +6.73%

which runs on the Ethereum network, has borne the brunt of the August selloff, hitting an 11-month low Tuesday, with crypto experts pointing to the flailing initial coin offering market for the reason behind the slump. However, leading crypto analyst Tom Lee, managing partner of Fundstrat Global Advisors, said in a research note that the introduction of Ether futures by the Bitmex exchange might explain the recent decline of the second largest digital currency.

Citing an analysis by Justin Saslaw of Raptor Capital Management, Lee said the Ether decline “is more due to the Bitmex futures/swap launch…and the impact of fundamentals is substantially less than perceived. Liquidity remains a critical factor in performance of digital assets, not surprising, given the early stage nature of these markets.”

Saslaw concluded that the introduction of the two-way liquidity had attracted short selling, which can be attributed to the weakness of Ether.

Token performance post futures launch

Ether is trading up 5.8% at $299.45 in early afternoon trading Friday.

Read: Are cash-strapped ICOs behind Ether’s underperformance?

Bitcoin will trade to $15,000 by year-end, says exchange co-founder

The co-founder of CoinCorner, a small Isle of Man-based crypto exchange, said in an email to MarketWatch that rising demand from wealthy individuals will see the world’s biggest digital currency pushed higher by year-end. “For the last few months, the price of bitcoin has been at $6,000 which we believe will continue for a while but we predict the price will reach $15,000 by the end of the year,” said Danny Scott.

”We are also seeing huge amounts of investment coming through from high net worth individuals and institutes purchasing bitcoin in high volumes. This all adds to the increase and interest of the cryptocurrency,” he said.

Read: Nvidia stock drops as crypto-mining decline overshadows earnings beat

Elsewhere, other altcoins, or coins other than bitcoin, are trading higher Friday. Bitcoin Cash

BCHUSD, +7.82%

is up 5.7% at $550.20, Litecoin

LTCUSD, +6.84%

has added 6.8% to $59.02 and Ripple’s XRP

XRPUSD, +11.58%

is trading at 33 cents, up 5.8%.

Futures were lagging behind spot markets Friday but showed gains in early trading. The Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s September contract

XBTU8, +1.64%

 is up 1.6% at $6,490 while the CME Group Inc August contract

BTCQ8, +1.64%

is up 1.6% at $6,510.

Read: ICO swindlers have absconded with some $100 million in investor dough, research firm says

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SunnyAugust 17, 2018


In an echo of the carnage following the collapse of the 1990s tech bubble, the cryptocurrency industry will see a significant number of additional projects fail, said one asset management firm.

Element Digital Asset Management said that while the recent drawdown of around 78% in the total value of cryptocurrencies from its peak matches the drop by the Nasdaq-100 Index

NDX, -0.06%

 following the bursting of the internet bubble, the cycle hasn’t ran its course, and investors in small projects should expect further disappointment.

“An analysis of historical project failures suggests that maximum pain in the altcoin market has not yet been felt. Investors should expect a total loss of investment in certain coins as projects eventually fail and get delisted,” wrote Thejas Nalval, Elements portfolio director, and Kevin Lu, the firm’s director of quantitative research.

Altcoins, are coins other than bitcoin

BTCUSD, +3.88%

the worlds biggest digital currency.

Read: The cryptocurrency market has shed more than $600 billion from its peak — what exactly happened?

Element evaluated the top 100 coins by market cap at the beginning of each year from 2015 through 2018 and found that a significant number of ventures had ceased operations. Of the top 100 ventures at the beginning of 2015, more than one-third were no longer running.

ICO failures

Despite the failure rate, it has not stopped an abundance of cash pouring into the initial coin offering market. After raising $6.2 billion in 2017, ICOs have raised $18 billion in 2018, to date, according to data from CoinSchedule. All this as warning signs grow.

An ICO is a crowdfunding tool used by cryptocurrency-related ventures that issue investors coins instead of stock.

Crypto-guru Barry Silbert told onlookers at the CNBC Delivering Alpha conference in July that 99% of cryptocurrencies would fail, and more recently, analysis from Diar, a blockchain data and analytics firm said close to $100 million had been swindled from investors by ICO promoters either before or during launches, in what’s known as an exit scam.

ICO funding

So how to pick a winner? Despite a downbeat outlook, the research team at Element said some signs can help investors spot a diamond in the rough.

“Projects that have already achieved sufficient decentralization such that the success or failure of the project isn’t dependent on the efforts of the founding team,” said Element, adding that projects that are aligned with companies that already turn a profit and projects that have consistent funding, often through mining rewards, would likely survive the continuing demise of crypto ventures.

Read: Nearly half of all 2017 ICOs have failed

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SunnyAugust 16, 2018


Thai regulators announced Thursday, August 16, that they have so far approved seven business entities to conduct cryptocurrency operations as part of the formalization of the country’s domestic market.

In a statement, Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (Thai SEC) confirmed Bitcoin Co. Ltd. (BX), Bitkub Online Co. Ltd., Cash2coins Co. Ltd., Group Co. Ltd. (TDAX), and Coin Asset Co. Ltd. were able to operate as legal cryptocurrency exchanges.

In addition, the regulator approved two cryptocurrency dealers: Coins TH Co. Ltd. and Digital Coin Co. Ltd. (ThaiWM).

The move forms part of a package of “transitional” rules governing crypto businesses operating in Thailand prior to the first tranche of regulations that came into force May 14.

As Cointelegraph reported, those entities continue serving customers while applying and waiting for a full license by notifying the Thai SEC within 90 days of the May deadline.

“In addition, the SEC is currently reviewing the data of two other digital asset operators that have filed an application under the Transitional Provisions,” the statement continues.

Last week, the SEC had also revealed heavy interest from prospective Initial Coin Offering (ICO) issuers in applying for regulated status in Thailand.

Over 50 projects had come forward, the regulator having previously outlined prerequisites needed to be fulfilled in order to be considered for approval. As of June, however, only five applicants had met those prerequisites.

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SunnyAugust 16, 2018


Yet another dire security flaw was unveiled Tuesday with potential ripple effects across the tech world, including for cryptocurrency projects seeking to leverage certain hardware devices.

Following a pair of bugs unveiled earlier this year, the Foreshadow vulnerability impacts all Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX) enclaves, a special, supposedly extra-secure region of chip often used for storing sensitive data.

In short, while the enclave is supposed to be tamper-proof, a group of researchers found a way for an attacker to steal the information it stores.

For many, Meltdown and Spectre were spooky enough. The bugs impacted every single Intel chip, the hardware powering most of the world’s computers. But, since it wasn’t so easy to execute, there weren’t many real-world attacks.

Foreshadow might not sound as bad because it impacts a more specific type of Intel hardware: SGX. However, since many cryptocurrency projects plan to use this technology, Foreshadow could have even worse ramifications for the cryptocurrency world.

Perhaps most notably, Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike is in the process of advising a new, allegedly greener coin called MobileCoin that puts SGX at the center, even raising $30 million to do so.

As a result, these projects will have to do some restructuring before launching for real.

“The findings released today absolutely have a broad impact on cryptocurrency projects,” Cornell University security researcher Phil Daian told CoinDesk.

The good news, though, is that the researchers followed the security world’s “responsible disclosure process” for revealing bugs, alerting Intel before showing it off so the tech giant could come up with a fix (which deployed a few months ago).

But the security world is making a lot of noise because that still might not be enough.

“It is likely that, because many of these systems are slow to upgrade and because many of these fixes require either involved or hardware upgrades, infrastructure will remain vulnerable to this class of attack for a long time,” Daian said, adding:

“It would be surprising if at some point this flavor of attack is not used to steal cryptocurrency.”

The good and the bad

But there’s both good and bad news.

For one, it appears as though none of the high-profile SGX projects in cryptocurrency are yet being used to secure real money. “To my knowledge, there is no SGX system in production or widespread use in the space today,” Daian said.

The bad news is there are a plenty of projects that want to use SGX, and maybe even have plans to do so soon. And the ideas are pretty cool.

MobileCoin is perhaps the most ambitious since the project’s developers want to replace miners, a crucial part of securing any cryptocurrency, with these enclaves to build a more energy-efficient cryptocurrency.

But there are plenty of others that want to use SGX for its security and privacy gains.

Enigma is using it in a unique bid to boost privacy in smart contracts, while wallet hardware company Ledger went as far as to partner with the tech giant Intel to explore using SGX as a new avenue for storing private keys. And the list goes on and on.

“The SGX attack is devastating,” Kings College London assistant professor Patrick McCorry told CoinDesk, adding that research groups have long been discussing how it can be deployed to add extra security to data.

“It can potentially undermine the integrity – and privacy – for any application that is reliant upon trusted hardware. A lot of companies in the cryptocurrency space rely on SGX to support multi-party protocols, but this attack allows any participant to cheat,” he added.

“In my opinion, good SGX research and systems should assume hardware can always be broken at some cost, and should, as always, design defensively and include layered security,” Daian said.

He went on to give some advice to companies that plan to launch soon.

“Projects planning to launch soon that rely on SGX should evaluate the vulnerabilities and any updates from Intel with caution for implications to the security of their systems, and should publish such investigations along with their code,” he said.

The other bad news, though, is it’s possible for hackers to find a new variant of the bug, similarly impacting all SGX chips.

“But as foreshadow demonstrates, attacks only get better,” McCorry remarked.

Sweet vindication

Meanwhile, the bug is leaving some developers feeling vindicated.

Because Intel has a backdoor into all SGX devices, it’s long been a controversial tech avenue for cryptocurrency projects, with enthusiasts often arguing that using the technology puts too much power or trust in one company’s hands.

Simply put, in their minds, the Foreshadow vulnerability is a good example of why not to put SGX at the cornerstone of a cryptocurrency project.

“Good thing we didn’t adopt a certain professor’s SGX-based bitcoin scaling solution!” tweeted pseudonymous bitcoin enthusiast Grubles.

“Though even *if* it had been somehow perfect, it was never a good idea to root the security of bitcoin in a chip vendor’s secret sauce technology,” Bitcoin Core maintainer Wladimir van der Laan responded.

But again, most projects using SGX haven’t actually launched in production.

Some researchers went as far as to argue most cryptocurrency projects exploring SGX haven’t actually used them on real money because Intel has such a bad reputation. The industry has been experimenting with the technology – but is too cautious to actually launch go through with it.

Some security researchers advise to continue on this trend – to not use SGX.

But other researchers are more optimistic that SGX, or something like it, could one day play a big role in cryptocurrency, seeing Foreshadow as a positive sign trusted hardware is being battle-tested.

“SGX will need to be repeatedly tested and broken by adversarial researchers until it can claim a strong degree of security, which will take years,” Daian said, going on to add that he believes trusted hardware along the lines of SGX may one day play a big (and positive) role in cryptocurrency.

In short, it might just take some time, he argued, adding:

“Realizing such a technology certainly holds great promise for trust minimization and scalable privacy protection in cryptocurrency and beyond.”

Laptop via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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SunnyAugust 16, 2018


Distributed celebration.
Image: Andrew Dang/more las vegas

It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Friday night and a man in a white button-down shirt named Joey just ordered me a shot of Fireball. It’s a little hard to hear him over the music blasting from the other side of the velvet ropes, but the club’s director of services leans in close to make sure I can hear him. 

“Excellence and hospitality in the crypto world,” Joey says in response to my request that he describe just what, exactly, is going on here. 

I’m sitting on a spacious couch in a private club, inside of another nightclub, inside of a casino, and we’re discussing Las Vegas’s first cryptocurrency nightclub: MORE Las Vegas. Launched in April by Peter Klamka — a man known for, among other things, his involvement with The Legends Room gentlemen’s club which allowed patrons to tip performers in bitcoin — the nightclub comes with all the trappings of a typical VIP Vegas destination. There’s the $250,000 bottles of champagne, high-heeled cocktail waitresses, and view of the Bellagio fountains that’s to die for. 

Unlike every other club in Las Vegas, however, this one has its own cryptocurrency — a currency you need to HODL to even get through the front door. 

Party through the Crypto Winter

It has not been a good year for the price of cryptocurrency. 

Bitcoin and ether are way down from their late 2017 and early 2018 highs, and most altcoins have fared significantly worse. Meanwhile, in the background, ICOs are revealed as scams at a disturbingly regular clip, and the SEC keeps dragging its heels on a proposed bitcoin ETF

The much-maligned talk of Lambos has shifted to progressively less convincing explanations as to why all of this is actually good for bitcoin. 

Still, some people are getting — or, if they sold at the right time, remain — undeniably rich. It is often that crew, the group who either through dumb luck or skill managed to retain its newfound wealth while the market bled, who feels the most committed to its bitcoin maximalist or Ethereum-world vision. 

Their livelihood depends on it, after all. And they like to party with each other. 


It was with all this in mind that I accepted an invitation to check out MORE Las Vegas. I’d be in Vegas anyway for DEF CON, and this seemed like a great opportunity to see what a city that practically defines opulence does when it sticks its toes into the world of cryptocurrency. 

Well, what is does is MORE Las Vegas — a club with its own token that doubles as a de facto membership fee. Owning 5,000 MORE Coins or more makes you a MORE Las Vegas member. 

“[MORE Coin is] the intersection of nightlife and crypto demonstrating a real-world application of blockchain tech,” Klamka told me later that night.  

The coin trades on the Bittrex exchange, and was created at the behest of Klamka. At the time of this writing, the ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain is listed at just over 15 cents with a 24-hour trading volume of $201. 

For coin holders only.

For coin holders only.

Image: more las vegas

MORE Las Vegas is essentially a special VIP area inside of the Hyde nightclub, which itself is located inside of the Bellagio hotel and casino. To get in, you have to first reach out to Joey. This both gives you an opportunity to let the club know you’re coming, and to prove your stake in the coin.

The floor staff is trained to accept cryptocurrency as payment, though interestingly all the prices on the bottle-service menu are listed in USD. And the staff isn’t picky about how you pay. Want to send them $100,000 worth of bitcoin for that 15-liter bottle of Ace of Spades champagne? They’re happy to take it. 

Want to pay in MORE Coin? Well, that’s fine too.

According to a MORE Las Vegas spokesperson, the club has around 1,500 members — though, she emphasized, as the only thing that makes you a member is coin ownership, the number changes all the time.  

The place was about a third full when I arrived at 11 p.m. on Friday, which, in all fairness, is well before a Las Vegas club gets going. A look around at the clientele revealed what appeared to be typical Vegas nightclub goers: They were well-dressed and young with money to spend. 

Essentially, just like every other place on the Strip. Had crypto finally hit mainstream adoption?

But that changed shortly after we went outside to the club’s stunning private patio. Directly at ground level, it overlooked the Bellagio fountains and was clearly a big selling point for Klamka. Shortly after our interview concluded, Klamka left the patio to soon return with a group of young men that much more closely aligned with the stereotype of someone all in on crypto. 

One of the group, covered in various crypto tattoos, had a scrolling LED hat that brightly read “BITCOIN.”

One of the group, covered in various crypto tattoos, had a scrolling LED hat that brightly read “BITCOIN.” Below his shorts, high bitcoin-themed socks complimented some form of fuzzy slipper. 

The club had a strict dress code, and while it wasn’t clear if this new arrival’s garb fell within it, that clearly hadn’t stopped him from getting in. 

We struck up a conversation, and soon realized we were both in town for the DEF CON hacking convention. When I asked him if he was worried that his tattoos might make him a target for hackers, he shrugged off the possibility. 

He kept most of his crypto in cold storage, he assured me. His blinding hat made conversation difficult. 

When his friends settled the bill later in the night, they appeared to pay with a credit card. 

Big Plans

In many ways, MORE Las Vegas is just another luxury nightclub in a city full of them. But, in the world of cryptocurrency, it is possibly something more. It’s an actual brick-and-mortar business, after all, in an industry that is flush with grand ideas but lacking in execution.  

Klamka spoke of plans to open additional locations in Miami and elsewhere, and described a business model where people buy and sell club memberships on the blockchain. This was a real-world application, albeit an extremely boozy one, of an ERC-20 token. 

It may not have been what Vitalik Buterin had in mind, but I can’t imagine that would bother Klamka too much. 

After all, he’s got a business to run and a coin to promote — and you’d better believe he’s HODLing. ebe1 8e37%2fthumb%2f00001

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SunnyAugust 15, 2018


President Nicolas Maduro announced state-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) will begin using the digital token from Monday, August 20.

In a television address, the Venezuelan leader revealed the country would soon have two units of currency: the digital Petro and the ‘sovereign bolivar’, ABC International reports.

He said his government would also introduce a new salary and pricing systems which will be pegged to the cryptocurrency.

The announcement comes as the oil-rich nation grapples with hyperinflation which some forecasters have warned will soon hit one million percent.

President Maduro said the new Petro-based system “will mean a substantial improvement in the income of the workers”.

He said: “As of next Monday, Venezuela will have a second accounting unit based on the price, the value of the Petro.

“It will be a second accounting unit of the Republic and will begin operations as a mandatory accounting unit of our PDVSA oil industry.”

The Petro was launched in February this year.

The cryptocurrency is designed to be propped up by Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, with each digital token supposedly backed by one barrel of oil.

Nearly 100 million coins, worth some £4.7billion ($6bn), were made available in the initial sale, with discounts offered to attract overseas investors.

The Venezuelan government hopes to use the digital currency to skirt sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union, as well as reduce hyperinflation which has plagued the South American country’s economy.

A white paper on the Petro published by the government says the cryptocurrency complies with Venezuelan law and “will be an instrument for Venezuela’s economic stability and financial independence”.

But the cryptocurrency has come under fire from some observers who say there is a lack of detail on exactly how its value will be guaranteed by oil reserves.

Rating site has branded Petro as a “scam”, warning potential investors there is a worrying lack of information on how the digital token will work.

The implementation of the Petro will take place on the same day five zeros are knocked off from the bolivar – the latest in a series of attempts by the Venezuelan government to curb the county’s soaring inflation.

The newly-printed bank notes will be known as the sovereign bolivar to differentiate them from the old bolivar notes.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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