This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:
Circle has decided to give up on the bitcoin side of its business
According to The Wall Street Journal, Circle Internet Financial Ltd, a social payments app that has in the past been backed by Goldman Sachs, has given up on allowing its customers to buy and sell bitcoin as it didn’t become a substantial part of their business. Customers will be able to continue to store and convert bitcoin to dollars, euros and pounds via the app. If they intend to buy or sell, however, they will then be redirected to Coinbase. The company will, however, keep on going with Spark, its open source project that provides a way for digital wallets to exchange value.
Ethereum and Augur VC hacked, over $300.000 were stolen
Bo Shen founder of VC firm Fenbushi Capital, is a notable altcoin investor that has been hacked this week, reportedly with the use of social engineering tactics. The hackers have stolen over 100.000 REP (Augur), equivalent to over $300.000, plus some ether, although the amount wasn’t confirmed. The hacker(s) managed to take a hold of Bo Shen’s Twitter account and used it not only to brag, but to imply there is currently a group of hackers targeting Augur investors. The hack influenced Augur and Ethereum prices.
The hack was, however, preventable according to the hacker(s). Reportedly, the group had been in contact with Augur developers demanding a $60.000 ransom that was not paid. Joey Krug claims to believe the hacker is also responsible for other attacks at digital currency exchange Kraken.
Kaspersky Labs awards blockchain voting project $10.000
A blockchain voting project named Votebook has won $10.000 in a contest organized by Kaspersky Labs, as it even got featured on The Economist. The idea of using blockchain technology to back up voting has long been discussed and apparently is now finally being rolled out. Votebook, according to a pitch from the team, satisfies the requirements of an acceptable voting system, and provides minimal disruption of voter expectations.
Saxo Bank predicts bitcoin’s price could triple in 2017
Danish investment bank Saxo Bank has recently published a list of outrageous predictions for 2017. These are created to put those in the financial industry updated on some of the most extreme possibilities that could occur next year. Among there, there is a prediction that claims bitcoin’s price could surge up to more than $2.100. The principal reasons behind this outrageous prediction for 2017 are Donald Trump’s Presidency, and the acceptance of bitcoin in nations such as Russia and China as an alternative to the USD and traditional banking and payment system.
Vietnam to regulate bitcoin in the future
According to a report from a regional publication named VnEconomy, the government in Vietnam is going to look into the legal frameworks of electronic money, virtual currency and virtual property in order to, in the future, regulate bitcoin and possibly other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is currently not officially recognized in the country, and this is part of what needs to be done, according to the report. The government has included a number of governmental agencies in the regulatory task, including the state Bank,, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Information and Communications, among others. The review of the legal frameworks is due in December 2017.
Erste Bank sponsored a blockchain startup contest
Two Ethereum-focused startup projects were awarded €5.000 in ether after winning the startup contest held by the Austrian Bank. The winners were Etherisc from London, an automated insurance tool, and a mobile-based browser that supports payments and decentralized applications from Singapore, named Status. Another three projects earned €1.670. The contest was sponsored by Erste Bank as it digs deeper in its investigation into the blockchain technology and its uses.
There is now a German University accepting bitcoin as payment
ESMT Berlin, a University with mainly a business focus, is now accepting bitcoin as payment for tuition and degree certifications, making it the first University in Germany to do so. According to a press release published on ESMT’s website, accepting bitcoin as a payment method is, to the university a “logical consequence of digitalization”. The press release cited a few advantages the cryptocurrency, such as its practically free transactions. The move marks the advances of cryptocurrencies in Germany. This isn’t, however, the first University in the world to accept cryptocurrencies, as the University of Nicosia in Cyprus has been accepting bitcoin since 2013.
Bitcoin closes in on the $800 mark near the end of 2016
Even though Circle Internet Financial has pulled the plug on the digital currency in its business, the price of bitcoin didn’t stop rising this week and is, at press time, at $775. Circle was one of the most prominent startups to work with bitcoin, but it looks like its influence for the cryptocurrency isn’t as big as it once was. Blockchain research, India’s fight against counterfeit money, and other major announcements such as the one above about ESMT Berlin accepting bitcoin are all helping the cryptocurrency end the year on a very positive note.