Last Week Today: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Weekly Digest August 1st-8th

  • 60,000 Binance customers’ KYC data leaked, which Binance dismisses as false data
  • Amid first Federal rate cut since 2008 and devalued yuan, is Bitcoin a safe haven?
  • UN report reveals North Korea’s $2 billion cryptocurrency loot to fund weapons programs
  • Apple shuns cryptocurrencies, but MasterCard and Walmart hop on the blockchain bandwagon

Binance KYC data leak drama an indictment of vulnerable services built around Bitcoin

In a data leak which is speculated to be linked to the hack back in May, which resulted in a theft of 7000 BTC from the exchange, nearly 60,000 Binance users’ KYC data has been reportedly compromised.

After failing to extort 300 BTC from Binance, the yet to be identified hacker started releasing the KYC documents online to various media outlets and on a Telegram group, assuming the pseudonym “Guardian M”.

Hundreds of KYC images have been leaked thus far on the Telegram group which shall not be explicitly identified in this article. The hacker claims to have KYC documents of more than 60,000 users who sent their IDs to Binance for KYC verification purposes in February 2018.

Binance released a statement on the data leak, refuting the hacker’s claims and the authenticity of KYC documents leaked by the hacker, stating that the documents being circulated on Telegram are inconsistent with Binance’s internal data,

“An unidentified individual has threatened and harassed us, demanding 300 BTC in exchange for withholding 10,000 photos that bear similarity to Binance KYC data. After refusing to cooperate and continuing with this extortion, this individual has begun distributing the data to the public and to media outlets.

There are inconsistencies when comparing this data to the data in our system. At the present time, no evidence has been supplied that indicates any KYC images have been obtained from Binance, as these images do not contain the digital watermark imprinted by our system”

The exchange also said that it had enlisted the services of a third-party vendor to handle KYC verification process back in 2018 and that it was investigating the matter with the vendor,

“On initial review of the images made public, they all appear to be dated from February of 2018, at which time Binance had contracted a third-party vendor for KYC verification in order to handle the high volume of requests at that time. Currently, we are investigating with the third-party vendor for more information.”

On Thursday, Binance announced a 25 BTC bounty for anyone who can provide them with information on the identity of the hacker as the exchange intends to pursue legal proceedings.

The episode highlights just how vulnerable centralised services built around Bitcoin can compromise Bitcoin’s promise of privacy. In many ways, Binance is no different from Facebook. It’s just another private financial services company built around public, decentralised networks.

The data leak serves as a timely reminder to lawmakers that should services like Binance persist, they must be regulated to the same rigorous standards other for-profit private businesses are regulated.

Has Bitcoin become a safe haven attracting flight of capital from falling fiat?

If you’re holding fiat or fiat-correlated assets, trying times could be ahead as the Federal Reserve announced a 0.25% rate cut last week, the first US interest rate cut since 2008, to pre-empt an economic downturn stemming from trade disputes with China.

Speaking of China, things aren’t particularly rosy in the east either as the People’s Bank of China has been weakening the yuan through quantitative easing policies to retain attractiveness for its exports. Last week, the yuan dropped below 7 per dollar, also for the first time since 2008.

China, seeking any port in this trade storm to undermine the dollar, has also siginificantly softened its stance on Bitcoin, including recognizing Bitcoin as legal property and engaging the public via infomercials to educate them on the merits and risks associated with Bitcoin.

The reaction as it pertains to Bitcoin to these developments which are unprecedented in Bitcoin’s 10-year history has been resoundingly bullish.

As a novel non-correlated, asymmetric return digital asset for the digital generation, many economists are now subscribing to the idea that Bitcoin may be emerging as a new safe haven and the current macroeconomic scenario may prove to be the perfect catalyst for Bitcoin to go mainstream.

Digital assets research firm, Delphi Digital published a report last week outlining economic trends that could propel Bitcoin to be widely recognized and adopted as digital gold, such as fiat devaluation from monetary easing, economic downturn and further trade conflicts,

“The rising risk of currency devaluation, especially among reserve currencies, is a longer-term catalyst that should propel BTC higher along with gold. A key reason behind Bitcoin’s outperformance in recent months is the strengthening narrative around its value proposition as digital gold.

The macro backdrop that’s emerging is the perfect storm for Bitcoin to thrive as it has the potential to benefit from both secular and cyclical trends in the coming years.”

$2 billion worth of crypto stolen by North Korea from various exchange hacks

Nearly two years ago, at the height of the last Bitcoin bull market, faced with crippling UN sanctions and military tension with the US, it was reported that North Korea was using Bitcoin to conduct business with the outside world.

On Monday, Reuters was shown a confidential UN report detailing how North Korea had stolen an estimated $2 billion to fund its nuclear programs using widespread and increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, which were carried out by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s military intelligence agency.

UN Security Council experts are currently investigating at least 35 reported instances of North Korean actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and illicit mining activity designed to earn foreign currency in some 17 countries. The experts noted that North Korea’s hacking efforts against cryptocurrency exchanges allowed it “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.”

In response to the report, a US State Department spokesperson urged other countries to take counteractive measures against North Korea, “We call upon all responsible states to take action to counter North Korea’s ability to conduct malicious cyber activity, which generates revenue that supports its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”

If Bitcoin is a safe haven, it’s not just for the good guys. Although Bitcoin does not discriminate, it’s sufficiently transparent to allow ease of access to cyber investigators. North Korea has only been able to accumulate cryptocurrencies by targeting focused points of failure built around Bitcoin, centralized exchanges.

Libra may inspire many imitators, but ailing Apple wants no piece of the crypto pie

Walmart filed a cryptocurrency patent titled “System and Method for Digital Currency via Blockchain” this week with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its own digital currency, a stablecoin pegged to a sovereign currency similar to Libra.

The filing also incorporates much of the same, lame and hackneyed rhetoric employed by Facebook in the Libra whitepaper – such as providing financial services to the unbanked, offering low-fee alternatives to the likes of PayPal and removing the need for credit cards.

“Using a digital currency, low-income households that find banking expensive, may have an alternative way to handle wealth at an institution that can supply the majority of their day-to-day financial and product needs.”

A spokesperson for the company has said that despite filing a patent, Walmart has no current plans to immediately issue a digital currency.

MasterCard, which is one of the founding members of the Libra association, also seems to be eyeing up some blockchain opportunities, adding three job openings to its website in blockchain product management.

Two of the job descriptions mention wallet solutions, which has led to speculation that the payments company is looking to build digital wallet services to rival Facebook’s Calibra.

One company that’s not jumping on the blockchain bandwagon anytime soon is Apple, as it was revealed this week that contrary to earlier expectations, its highly anticipated Apple card will not support cryptocurrency purchases.

Apple card, first announced in March, is designed to be both a physical titanium card and a virtual credit card built into Apple devices within the Apple wallet app. The project is part of broader efforts by Apple to diversify revenue sources following a sharp decline in iPhone sales this year.

A partner in the project, Goldman Sachs released a statement this week on its website stating that “the card cannot be used to purchase cash advances or cash equivalents that include cryptocurrencies.”

Trading Insights

Piggybacking on bearish market sentiment towards fiat-correlated assets, Bitcoin closed last week’s trading at 10986, a 15% surge from last week, and has continued to ride high, trading at 11829 at the time of writing.

Although MACD and Stochastic oscillator look bullish in the daily chart, slight caution is in order as yesterday’s trading session closed in a dragonfly doji.

A strong lower close today would indicate short-term bearishness. A higher close would invalidate the pattern and we should be looking at the next point of resistance at 12363.

Another point of caution comes in the form of weekly RSI, which is showing a bearish divergence from the price curve.

Fans of Ethereum expecting a revival for the altcoin were only left baffled further this week as the #2 cryptocurrency further receded further away from Bitcoin, trading at a new 30-month low of 0.0175 BTC today.

Daily RSI breached extreme oversold territory this week, dipping below 20, with Directional Movement Index showing rising ADX and further sharply bearish -DI divergence.

Like Ethereum, other altcoins continue to cede their market share as Bitcoin’s market dominance reached a 30-month high of 70% yesterday.

Lamps Toujours
Lamps is a British economist and Bitcoin evangelist with an elusive ken for all things blockchain. A writer by avocation, Lamps' suasive opinions and analyses evince a quenchless passion to promote the integration of blockchain as the new economic and commercial infrastructure on a global scale.


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