Facebook messenger malware FacexWorm targets crypto platforms

Facebook messenger malware FacexWorm targets crypto platforms

FacexWorm, a malicious Google Chrome extension, has been targeting cryptocurrency trading platforms via Facebook Messenger, according to a Trend Micro report.

This was not the first time FacexWorm has targeted unsuspecting users. The malware was first uncovered last year in August by Kaspersky labs researcher David Jacoby. At the time, it was unclear how it operated and the purpose for its creation. Eight months later,Trend Micro noticed on April 8 activities that resembled the malware. At the time of discovery, there were already reports of FacexWorm attack in countries like Tunisia, Germany, Spain, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

The new version of FacexWorm works similarly like the old version with few new adjustments. In addition to sending socially engineered links to friends from an affected Facebook Messenger account, it can steal users account and credential details. FacexWorm also causes cryptocurrency fraud, puts malicious cryptocurrency mining codes on a website and redirects users to attackers’ referral link for cryptocurrency related programs. It can also hijack cryptocurrency transactions and steal money from platforms, such as Poloniex, HitBTC, Bitfinex, Ethfinex, and Binance, and wallets like Blockchain.info.

According to the report, users who opened the link were redirected to a fake YouTube page, where they will be asked to install a codec extension—FacexWorm—to play the video. Finally, users will get a request for “privilege to access,” and change data on the opened website. Once granted access,FacexWorm will download malicious codes to help in executing its operations.

The malware has only been able to affect a small group of people, according to the Trend Micro team, which has so far been able to identify one BTC transaction that was affected by FacexWorm. They were, however, not able to determine how many BTC coins have been earned from the malicious malware

Chrome has taken measures to remove and prevent attackers from uploading FacexWorm in their system.Facebook Messenger has also put measures to detect and prevent FacexWorm uploads by attackers. Trend Micro urges users to be careful while sharing information with friends.

Last year, Amazon had a malware attack that was uploaded to their Amazon Web Services servers. The malware executed BTC mining command that allowed mining using the company’s large process power to facilitate the process.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Plus500 shares skyrocket in cryptocurrency trading explosion

Plus500 shares skyrocket in cryptocurrency trading explosion

Australian-based online trading platform Plus500 enjoyed a tremendous first quarter in 2018, as revenue jumped by 284% reaching $297.3 million. The explosion comes as the exchange introduced a new cryptocurrency trading option, resulting in 72,960 new customers registering with the exchange.

Already this year, Plus500 has achieved 68% of what it earned during the entire 2017. It began offering contracts for difference (CFD), which have proven to be highly popular with its clients. The launch of CFDs was implemented due to customer requests and Plus500’s continual review of practices to stay on top of the charts. Plus500 CEO Asaf Elimelech said, “Having a flexible business model and a lean cost structure enables us to optimise our performance as necessary despite the recently announced regulatory changes. Having the industry leading framework enables us to be confident about the future.”

Elimelech was referring to the regulatory changes introduced this year by the European Securities and Markets Authority (EMSA). The new regulations brought a halt to trading of binary options and implemented limitations to CFDs designed to help protect investors.

A CFD is an investment vehicle that allows individuals to invest in a product without requiring them to own it. Despite the company’s skyrocketing value, Elimelech doesn’t anticipate that it will continue throughout the rest of the year. In its trading report, Plus500 commented, “We have since seen market conditions return to more normal levels in the last two months.” It added that the new rules implemented by EMSA could mean that “performance could be further impacted by the rate at which customers opt to be reclassified as professional investors.”

Plus500 was founded in 2008, offering a PC-based online trading platform. The company began to offer CFDs the following year, and launched a web-based version of its software in 2010. That same year, it also introduced trading in exchange-traded funds (EFT). It is licensed with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and went public on the London Stock Exchange in 2013, launching Bitcoin CFDs shortly after.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
India’s Koinex rolls out zero-fee

India’s Koinex rolls out zero-fee, crypto-to-crypto trading pairs

As the cryptocurrency world continues to expand at a rapid pace, it is now the turn of Indian cryptocurrency exchange Koinex to introduce cryptocurrency trading pairs. Last week, Koinex announced that it would be introducing no less than 23 crypto-to-crypto trading pairs with no fees—an added incentive for new cryptocurrency investors who are hoping to enter the market in a big way.

Koinex was not the only exchange to introduce these pairs. Last week, another leading Indian cryptocurrency, Zebpay, also announced that it would be launching crypto-to-crypto trading pairs, but they only decided to launch one pair.

In its announcement, Koinex was quite bullish, boasting that it was the first exchange in India to launch such a large number of trading pairs.

“We are going live with not just one or two crypto-crypto pairs; we are launching a total of 15 token pairs, all at the same time. This is the largest crypto-crypto pair offering by any Indian exchange and to add to this, the trading fees will be zero,” Koinex wrote in a blog post.

Koinex added more cryptocurrency trading pairs on Saturday, and also confirmed the seller fee of 0.15% for the Indian rupee (INR) market as well as a flat buyer’s fee of 0.15%. Payments, however, are only accepted via the Netbanking gateway. According to Koinex, “all other payment methods are discontinued… All INR withdrawals are temporarily halted.”

Koinex currently trades 19 coins against the INR, with a market turnover of $5.5 million daily—far below the massive turnover of exchange giants such as Binance, which reportedly moves around $1.7 billion a day. The launch of the new crypto-to-crypto trading pairs is expected to raise domestic investor interest substantially. According to the announcement there will be nine bitcoin trading pairs, six Ethereum trading pairs and another eight Ripple trading pairs. Koinex is claiming that it is the first exchange to offer XRP-based trading pairs.

Trading pairs for the BTC market include Bitcoin Cash (BCH/BTC), Ethereum (ETH/BTC), Litecoin (LTC/BTC), TRON (TRX/BTC), Ripple (XRP/BTC), Omisego (OMG/BTC), EOS (EOS/BTC), Nucleus Vision (NCASH/BTC), and Request (REQ/BTC).”

For the Ethereum market, Koinex is offering trading pairs for BCH, TRX, XRP, OMG EOS, and NCASH, alongside BTC. For the XRP market, customers can trade BTC as well as LTC, TRX, EOS, OMG, REQ, NCASH, AE (aeternity), and GNT (golem). This is quite an interesting variety of pairs and should see a sharp uptake of interest in the Koinex exchange.

The launch of Koinex and Zebpay’s crypto-to-crypto trading pairs comes on the heels of the Reserve Bank of India’s announcement that local banks were forbidden from dealing with any entity that settles of exchanges cryptocurrency.

In response to the RBI order, Koinex said it has been looking for alternative solutions, like “introducing UPI payments or instant withdrawals or new tokens for trading.”

“As you know, the crypto-market has been in a disarray of sorts since the start of the year due to the ambiguous stand on crypto-assets by the government and situations further took a downward spiral with the RBI directive reprimanding banks from partnering with crypto-entities,” according to Koinex. “So the need of the hour in this uncertain market was a safer alternate trading format, like crypto-to-crypto.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
LocalBitcoins users decry mandatory IDs for large transactions

LocalBitcoins users decry mandatory IDs for large transactions

LocalBitcoins, an over-the-counter trading platform for SegWit-Coin BTC (also referred to as Bitcoin legacy or Core), has been a popular solution for users around the world. It enables individuals to anonymously buy and sell SegWit-Coin BTC on their own, indicating the amount, the exchange rate and the payment method desired. It’s an easy, quick way to move coins, and allows for transactions to and from anywhere around the world. The platform, however, has made a move that isn’t sitting too well with a lot of the users, compelling a number of complaints on popular social media platforms such as Reddit.

A Reddit user, “yellowcuda,” posted a screenshot showing that certain users are being forced to show identification before being allowed to conduct any transactions. The message reads that the user must produce a personal ID due to what LocalBitcoins deems as a high amount of trading over the course of the past year. The message states, ““Error! Your trade volume has been significant in the past 12 months. Please, verify your ID to continue trading.”

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As was to be expected, the reaction to the new policy hasn’t been great. One user posted, “RIP localbitcoins. Hi, another centralized exchange.” Many users have threatened to jump ship, opting for alternative platforms such as hodlhodl.com or the bisq.network. Others chimed in with suggestions such as Paxful or Open Bazaar. The general consensus, however, was that the LocalBitcoins decision was going to be extremely detrimental to the company’s future.

Localbitcoins, founded in Finland in 2012, has—until now—been one of the most popular SegWit-Coin BTC trading platforms. It began raising and introducing fees in 2017 as a result of changes in the cryptocurrency’s network costs, but many users stuck around due to its reliable performance. The latest decision, however, could be a death sentence for the platform.

Russia attempted to block the service two years ago, but the cryptocurrency community proved to be more resilient than it anticipated. A mirror site, localbitcoins.net, was created to bypass the wall, and the service continued to operate, almost never skipping a beat.

Information regarding the new policy is scarce. Localbitcoins made no announcement of the change, nor has it addressed the issue since it was raised. There has been no word on what the platform considers to be a significant amount, or who is verifying the users’ identification. It’s unfortunate that the company so inappropriately mismanaged the policy implementation, but it’s safe to say that it won’t be the last to make this change.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Artificial Intelligence meets blockchain in new trading platform

Artificial intelligence meets blockchain in new trading platform

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has advanced astronomically over the years. Apart from being used in projects to help fight world hunger and create autonomous cars, the technology has also seen a lot of success in games like poker and chess. Now, AI is looking to take on blockchain to help investors predict how to manage their portfolios.

OpenBlock has created OBi, a trading bot that is built around AI. It never sleeps, constantly crunching data to help users determine when to buy or sell, or keep things the way they are. OBi follows a strict set of rules, compiles analysis based on these rules and then supplies its results to OpenBlock users.

Obi took developers two years to create. It now works with more than 20 cryptocurrency pairs and can manage up to 1,200 round trips each day. The bot’s algorithm purportedly will provide the users with maximum returns if its output is followed.

OpenBlock started its presale on February 28. During the initial round, the price was $0.50, but went up to $0.65 in the second round, which is currently ongoing. When it moves into round three on March 6, the price will rise again, reaching $0.70. The initial coin offering (ICO) will follow the presale and begin on April 3, lasting for a month.

With the high volatility in the markets right now, traders need all the help they can get. With new cryptocurrencies being launched daily, predicting how to direct investments becomes a more and more confusing task. Currently, more than 1,500 digital coins are on the market, with new coins being released almost daily.

Every day, it seems that new information is being disseminated that is difficult to verify, making the decision-making process a complete chore. The information may be low-quality, irrelevant or even immaterial, perpetuating the confusion around cryptocurrencies and their true place in global finance.

Those investors who have had a lot of success in the markets will say that cryptocurrencies are great. On the other hand, the unlucky ones who have lost would prefer to never hear of cryptocurrencies again. The broad range of options, irregular information, major fluctuations and the relatively young age of crypto, makes a tool such as OBi a highly-valuable resource.

While trading of any kind—cryptocurrency, stocks, futures—has an element of risk attached to it, any tool that can assist investors in making their decisions is welcome. Based on how far AI has advanced in recently years, and how it continues to advance, having an AI buddy as a guide can be a huge benefit.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Embarrassingly on point: John Oliver hits nail on the head about crypto-hysteria

Embarrassingly on point: John Oliver hits nail on the head about crypto-hysteria

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have gained a bad rap, and it’s nobody else’s fault.

For a man who claims not to know much about cryptocurrencies, English comedian John Oliver actually hits a lot of nails on the head in his recent segment criticizing the ongoing crypto-hysteria.

“I want to approach this subject carefully because discussions of any new technology tend to age very badly,” Oliver opened. “I’m forty years old, British, and oblivious—or FYOBO,” he joked in reference to the well-known acronym FOMO (fear of missing out).

Speaking about how complex blockchain technology is, he described it as “everything you don’t understand about money combined with everything you don’t understand about computers.”

Technical definitions aside, Oliver’s segment on his observations about the raging cryptocurrency hysteria is as animated as Bitconnect’s infamous presentation guy Carlos Matos, and embarrassingly, it’s pretty accurate. Oliver pointed out some disturbingly ridiculous cryptocurrency start-ups, including one particular company blatantly advertising a coordinated pump-and-dump—“a brazen advertisement for something that you could have sworn was illegal,” he said. Oliver also pointed out Bitconnect’s presentation of what he says is “a picture of a man coming up with the idea for a pyramid scheme.”

The cult mentality in the cryptocurrency space is so high that it borders religious delirium, as demonstrated by the very heated and often senseless word wars in online forums. It has got to a point where people seem to have become desensitized to criminal activities being openly marketed online that no one bats an eye. Overly hyped up marketing messages with no technical merits are also all over the web, with company founders even doing press conferences saying all sorts of flowery, techie words that overall do not have any meaning. Yet people still buy it, the same way they bought Dogecoin, which the founder said from the very beginning was a joke.

Otherwise intelligent people still consider the potential profits of obviously dubious companies, and this has led to the rise of countless ICO’s hoping to cut in on all the cash being thrown around in the sphere. It is pretty tempting, what with the cryptocurrency industry quickly breaking through the $2 billion market cap. Traditional companies are also jumping in, with stocks tripling simply by adding the word “blockchain” to their product.

“You’re not investing, you’re gambling,” Oliver said. While some would be up in arms arguing that there are absolutely legitimate projects out there and that some people actually “invest” based on roadmaps and white papers, we all have to admit: majority of “cryptocurrency traders” are in fact, wild guessing. Oliver using the term “gambling” is actually flattery in itself. Investing requires a certain level of intelligence and sound foundations for decisions, otherwise, you’re not even gambling—you’re just feeding yourself to the sharks.

Indeed, people have been throwing the word “invest” around to make wild guesses seem more dignified, but in truth many cryptocurrency “investors” know very little about what they’re investing in, whether it’s ICO’s, legitimate blockchain projects, or Ponzi scams. These days, using the term “invest” is a way to flatter oneself for throwing money at something not fully understood, and to help convince others to follow suit.

Oliver’s comedic segment on cryptocurrencies can strike a nerve for some, but it seems to come from a genuine place of concern, ending the segment with some firm warnings with the help of American comedian Keegan-Michael Key (channelling Carlos Matos). One would think that in this day and age, adults would be wise enough not to fall for the most obvious scams and risks when it comes to money, but current events are proving otherwise.

Watch the video below for the full segment on LastWeek Tonight.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Bitcoin Cash looks to be on the rebound

Bitcoin Cash looks to be on the rebound

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) still continues to show a strong performance in the markets. Despite a few ups and downs that have seen the cryptocurrency hit as high as $1,119 and as low as $938 over the course of the past few days. On Tuesday, BCH rose by 14%, which can be attributed to an overall increase in trading of 38%. The jump in volume should help bolster BCH as the week continues to progress.

Most investors and analysts are looking for the target of $1,200 as the “psychological hurdle” the coin needs to jump to see exponential gains. BCH is currently under a bull flag, which means a continual upward climb could signal a future rally. However, as market continues to show signs of volatility, it’s not yet possible to determine if there will be a long-term upswing. BCH still appears to be caught in a falling channel on price charts.

If BCH does, in fact, reach $1,200 as predicted, it would be a strong indicator that the sell-off seen from the coin’s record highs has come to a close, and that the bulls are back. The fourth largest coin by market cap had reached as high as $4,000 in 2017 before trading across the board took a significant hit. It’s possible that BCH will reach the $1,200 point within the next couple of days.

Part of BCH’s recent bump comes way of Asia, where the digital currency has been trading at around 11% higher than Monday. Compared to last week’s figures, however, BCH is still down around 14%.  Another factor that is helping BCH is the recent announcement that U.S.-based exchange Gemini could soon list the cryptocurrency on its platform. Additionally, BCH has seen heavy trading on the Hong Kong’s OKEx exchange, which holds just under 30% of the coin’s volume. About $500 million worth of BCH has been traded over the course of the past 24 hours on OKEx.

In light of the fluctuations, BCH has shown resiliency over the past 24 hours, and, barring any major catastrophes, should start to climb back toward the $1,200 mark. Out of the top five coins, as of this writing, only BCH is showing positive gains. There’s a lot of work ahead, but it would appear that BCH is on the right path.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
KuCoin rolls out Bitcoin BCH trading pairs

KuCoin rolls out Bitcoin BCH trading pairs

Hong Kong-based exchange KuCoin has added Bitcoin Cash (BCH) trading pairs to its market, in a bid to provide a diverse platform that allows its users to trade with more flexibility.

The BCH pairs began trading on Jan. 17, 2018, at 22:00 UTC+8, according to the announcement on the exchange’s website. KuCoin’s traders can now trade BCH with the other cryptocurrencies listed on the exchange, including Kucoin Shares (KCS), which is the Ethereum-based token issued by KuCoin cryptocurrency exchange platform.

Founded in 2017 by CEO Michael Gan, a former technical expert of Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial, KuCoin is led by a team of blockchain enthusiasts who wants to provide users “digital asset transaction and exchange services which are even [safer] and convenient, integrating premium assets worldwide, and constructing state of the art transaction platform.”

To celebrate the addition of BCH trading pairs to its platform, KuCoin also launched “trading competitions,” one of which promises to reward the top 100 traders who will be ranked “in terms of the total BCH trading pairs volume traded” on their accounts, including buys and sells.

KuCoin said they will also reward among the top 100 traders several “lucky winners with ranking rewards that include the digit ‘8’”.

For KCS holders, the exchange said they will give out a total of 490,000 KCS tokens as a special bonus for trading BCH. The rewards are based on the amount of KCS holding during the activities, and will be equally divided between all users holding KCS and in proportion to the total amount of KCS each user holds and total volume of BCH traded, according to KuCoin.

KuCoin joins the growing list of exchanges that are making Bitcoin Cash, the true remaining Bitcoin as envisioned by the Satoshi Nakamoto whitepaper, the base cryptocurrency against which other cryptocurrencies are measured. Early this week, Hong Kong-based exchange CoinEx announced that all of its transactions are now “BCH-priced,” meaning all of the other cryptocurrencies that the platform offers are based and paired with Bitcoin Cash.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
CoinEx pioneers Bitcoin BCH-based trading

CoinEx pioneers Bitcoin BCH-based trading

Launched in December, CoinEx is a new player in the cryptomarket with a practical idea: make Bitcoin Cash (BCH) the base cryptocurrency against which all other cryptocurrencies will be measured.

The Hong Kong-based exchange offers a high-speed matching engine with its proprietary infrastructure, holding up to 10,000 transactions per second. The exchange has secure standards such as an encrypted frontend (with TLS), two-factor authentication, multi-signature strategies, and an optional cold wallet storage. The exchange provides an assurance of 100% reserves for all its users, alongside a suite of global-oriented services backed with worldwide liquidity.

Despite a perceived market crash in the recent week’s general decline, these falling rates are nothing new to the crypto world. Whenever the SegWit1x chain (BTC), also known as legacy Bitcoin, declines, leading cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash usually react with a correlation, a result of covariance in the crypto market, a measure made whenever assets like the two are met with extensive risk. In a little over five months, Bitcoin Cash has proven to be a strong and reliable name in the cryptocurrency space. Newer platforms like CoinEx recognize these factors in their business strategy, and have thus resolved to make Bitcoin Cash their default cryptocurrency.

According to its trading page, all of CoinEx’s transactions are “BCH-priced.” This means that all other cryptocurrencies are based and paired with Bitcoin Cash. Even its site title’s built-in ticker displays BCH equivalencies. CoinEx is an engine whose backend is maintained and operated by ViaBTC developers, known by crypto enthusiasts for their strong BCH pool.

To date, CoinEx facilitates trading of BTC, Ethereum, Litecoin, Zcash, and Dash with Bitcoin Cash as its base cryptocurrency. The exchange also adopts a refined valuation model for listing new tokens.

With cryptocurrencies bouncing back after a brief series of corrections in the past few days, a BCH-first trading platform like CoinEx will benefit from the rise of Bitcoin Cash users and traders, further expanding the ecosystem’s adoption into different sectors. True to its micro-transactions ethos, the exchange prioritizes small withdrawals, which it processes in under five minutes.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.

Unlucky 13: Russia starts blocking cryptocurrency-focused sites

Thirteen websites specializing in cryptocurrency are now restricted in Russia as the government sets out to limit cryptocurrency trading in the country.

Last week, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) and the central bank decided to block the access to 13 websites that trade cryptocurrencies or distribute information about them.

Eleven others were also ordered by the communications watchdog to delete digital currency-related information on their sites or risk suffering the same fate as the first group, according to Russian-language news agency RNS.

The decision to restrict access to the sites were based on “valid judgments,” given that blocking of such sites without a trial is not allowed by Russian law. The Roskomnadzor said it has processed 22 court decisions, which led to the 24 sites being added to the Unified Register of Prohibited Information.

Additional websites are expected to be banned in the future, according to the central bank.

Despite admitting that they “are real,” officials in Russia are keen on restricting its citizens’ access to cryptocurrencies under the guise of consumer protection. In August, Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev revealed a plan to restrict the sale of cryptocurrencies to “qualified investors,” saying that “ordinary people” are ill-equipped to deal with such “very dangerous investments that could lead to loss of money.”

Recently, President Vladimir Putin also gave the go signal for a state-backed cryptocurrency—the CryptoRuble—in a bid to beat Russia’s neighbors in the Eurasian Economic Community. The announcement comes in the heels of reports that the government ministers have agreed to let the state take control of “the process of cryptocurrency emission and its circulation.”

Russia’s authoritarian government has taken a traditionally harsh stance toward cryptocurrencies, having previously proposed legislation that would criminalize the use of ‘surrogate’ financial products. Currently, the finance ministry is working to introduce a bill that will define a procedure for buying cryptocurrencies by the end of 2017.

Unlucky 13: Russia starts blocking cryptocurrency-focused sites

Thirteen websites specializing in cryptocurrency are now restricted in Russia as the government sets out to limit cryptocurrency trading in the country.

Last week, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) and the central bank decided to block the access to 13 websites that trade cryptocurrencies or distribute information about them.

Eleven others were also ordered by the communications watchdog to delete digital currency-related information on their sites or risk suffering the same fate as the first group, according to Russian-language news agency RNS.

The decision to restrict access to the sites were based on “valid judgments,” given that blocking of such sites without a trial is not allowed by Russian law. The Roskomnadzor said it has processed 22 court decisions, which led to the 24 sites being added to the Unified Register of Prohibited Information.

Additional websites are expected to be banned in the future, according to the central bank.

Despite admitting that they “are real,” officials in Russia are keen on restricting its citizens’ access to cryptocurrencies under the guise of consumer protection. In August, Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev revealed a plan to restrict the sale of cryptocurrencies to “qualified investors,” saying that “ordinary people” are ill-equipped to deal with such “very dangerous investments that could lead to loss of money.”

Recently, President Vladimir Putin also gave the go signal for a state-backed cryptocurrency—the CryptoRuble—in a bid to beat Russia’s neighbors in the Eurasian Economic Community. The announcement comes in the heels of reports that the government ministers have agreed to let the state take control of “the process of cryptocurrency emission and its circulation.”

Russia’s authoritarian government has taken a traditionally harsh stance toward cryptocurrencies, having previously proposed legislation that would criminalize the use of ‘surrogate’ financial products. Currently, the finance ministry is working to introduce a bill that will define a procedure for buying cryptocurrencies by the end of 2017.

BTC trading crackdown prompts Chinese exchanges to reinvent

November marks the end of an era in China: BTC trading on domestic exchanges is now banned in the country.

The Beijing government announced in September that they will prohibit cryptocurrency trading in the country over growing concerns that the digital currencies have become the top choice for criminal activities like money laundering, drug trafficking, smuggling and illegal fundraising.

Most exchanges ceased their operations at the end of September, although two of China’s largest exchanges—OKCoin and Huobi—have been allowed to offer yuan-denominated trading until October 31, after which BTC trading is officially history in China.

There have been reports that cryptocurrency trading may resume in the country in the coming months, but the People’s Bank of China has yet to make an official announcement. Until then, many exchanges are reinventing themselves to survive.

OKCoin announced that it will rebrand as Bihang.com, and will offer customers a free online wallet for all types of digital assets. The company’s Beijing team will become a service provider for blockchain applications and development, while Hong Kong-based branch OKEx, which remains unaffected by the Beijing crackdown, plans to open a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform.

Also looking to open a P2P platform is Huobi via Huobi Pro, a Singapore-based digital asset trading platform for professional traders. Huobi Pro currently offers trading in nearly 10 digital asset classes and P2P investment services. Huobi is also setting up an exchange platform in South Korea to compete with marketplaces like Bithumb.

“Huozhuo China (huobi.cn) will transform itself into a comprehensive integrated information and research service platform in the vertical area of the blockchain, focusing on providing professional, in-depth and frontier blockchain technology research and development and application for users in mainland China,” said Lin Li, CEO of Huobi, in a statement.

BTC China, which shut down its domestic trading platform in September, has since rebranded as BTCC and shifted its resources to its mining pool, international market and wallet software Moby.

After shutting down the exchanges, the Beijing government has now turned its attention to the cryptocurrency over-the-counter (OTC) market, which has seen a spike in trading after regulators halted domestic on-exchange trading.

According to a new report from the National Committee of Experts on Internet Financial Security Technology, yuan trading volumes on OTC exchanges like LocalBitcoins, Paxful, CoinCola and Bitcoinworld have significantly increased after the government cracked down on domestic exchanges.

After analyzing the BTC-CNY transaction data of LocalBitcoins, Paxful and CoinCola, the government agency found that “the transaction volume of the three platforms totaled 680 million yuan (US$103 million).

“With the deepening development of BTC, OTC trading has been increasingly active. OTC opponents both anonymity, transaction payment channels, and there may be fraud trading risks. [The] National Internet Financial Risk analysis technology platform will continue to monitor.”