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Concerns Arise as North Korea’s Financial Services Commission Unsure of Its Cryptocurrency Mandate

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The Financial Services Commission of North Korea has come under the spotlight. The agency, which is supposed to be in charge of the supervision of cryptocurrencies, recently asked which ministry is responsible for dealing with challenges associated with the theft of cryptocurrencies in the country.

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Lawmaker Seong II-Jong, the opposition party secretary of the National Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee, revealed that the Financial Services Commission (FSC) wrote an inquiry letter asking “Which ministry is responsible for the defense of North Korean cryptocurrency theft?”

The Korean Communications Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the letter and responded that cryptocurrency issues are under the responsibility of the FSC.

This shows that there is a need for the Korean government to clarify roles tasked with relevant ministries and help ministers understand their responsibilities. However, the task of the supervision and management of digital asset providers like crypto exchanges is jurisdiction under the FSC.

On March 5, 2020, the Members of North Korea’s National Assembly passed the law that amended “The Use and Reporting of Specific Financial Transactions Formation.” The law now mandates digital asset businesses like crypto exchanges to enter their real name verifications in commercial banks. Once obtaining active bank accounts, such businesses are required by the law to fill a business report with the FIU (Financial Information Analysis Institutes) under the FSC. Seong stated:

“With the passage of the amendment, cryptocurrency management has become a business of the Financial Services Commission, but the Financial Services Commission says ‘it’s not our business’. I am going to ask.”

Where Funds Come from For North Korea’s Missile Programme

According to Dr. Marx Schiller, German Missile scientist, it would cost North Korea more than $1 million to 1.5 million to develop a new short-range ballistic missile in the country. The scientist further said that it would cost the country to have a total of $1 billion to build and weaponize the missile program. The scientist said that the country must have invested a huge cost of about 1,135.7 billion ($1.00642 billion) in developing missiles.

Since the international community started imposing sanctions in 2018, North Korea’s exports have declined to an estimate of 10%. The country has further experienced export reduction because of the coronavirus pandemic that has led to border closures between China and North Korea since the beginning of this year.

In such situations, questions are being asked about how North Korea has been able to obtain a huge amount of funds being used to build and produce missiles. A confidential report indicates that North Korea is funding its missile program with fiat and cryptocurrency stolen from exchanges and banks.

In September this year, Chainalysis, a US blockchain analysis company, published a report that identified that the amount of crypto funds stolen in North Korea for the last five years (from 2015-2019) have reached $1.5 billion.

In September 2019, the U.S Department of Treasury submitted a report saying that three hacking groups (Andariel, Bluenoroff, and Lazarus) are controlled by the North Korean government. The report identified that these groups have stolen cryptocurrencies worth $571 million from January 2017 to September 2018.

 

Image source: Shutterstock Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/concerns-north-korea-financial-services-commission-unsure-cryptocurrency

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Active Bitcoin Addresses Hit Third-Highest Level in November

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Bitcoin (BTC) bulls have been continuously trying reach the $20,000 price, falling just shy of what would have been a new ATH price by getting to $19,832 in the past 24 hours. Bitcoin has since nosedived and recovered to $19,268 at press time.

At the time of the Bitcoin price rally, the number of active BTC addresses was at its third-highest level, according to on-chain metrics platform Glassnode. The blockchain data provider noted:

“Almost 19.6 million Bitcoin addresses were active in November sending or receiving BTC. That is the third-highest value in Bitcoin’s history – only topped in December 2017 and January 2018.”

The rollercoaster ride experienced by Bitcoin price in November made BTC addresses either sending or receiving BTC to hit nearly 19.6 million, making the on-chain transaction volume to rise by 47%.

The number of active Bitcoin addresses broke the record in December 2017 by surging to 21.64 million, followed by January 2018, where they rose to 19.67 million, meaning that these numbers have not been seen in the recent past. November 2020, therefore, serves as a reminder of the notable levels the leading cryptocurrency can go.

The high number of active BTC addresses correlates with the fact that Bitcoin withdrawals from crypto exchanges surged to a 17-month high in November at 2,288.125. These record-breaking withdrawals were linked to investors either cashing in their profits after the BTC price hit a new all-time high of more than $19,800 on Nov 30 or others holding in cold storage wallets.

The near-record highs of active BTC addresses in November could prove to be a trigger of what awaits the leading cryptocurrency. For instance, an on-chain analyst who previously predicted the Bitcoin and stock market decoupling, Willy Woo, recently revealed a new model suggesting BTC will reach $200,000 by the end of 2021 at least, if not $300,000.

He expounded that the current re-accumulation phase coincides with the spot market inventory depletion, and is roughly two times longer and deeper than the last cycle, which could lead to Bitcoin’s price climbing higher. 

Image source: Shutterstock Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/active-bitcoin-addresses-hit-third-highest-level-in-november

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OKEx Announces Support for Spark (FLR) Airdrop as XRP Holders Prepare for Token Distribution

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OKEx has joined other digital asset exchanges in announcing support for the upcoming Spark (FLR) token airdrop.

Businessmen anticipating crypto giveaway

Along with other crypto exchanges, OKEx will enable XRP holders leveraging their services to benefit from the Spark Airdrop Program. It is the latest trading platform to have joined, as a growing number of leading exchanges such as Binance, Bithumb, Bitstamp, Poloniex, KuCoin, and more have said that the cryptocurrency distribution would be made available to their XRP holders. Per OKEx’s official Twitter announcement:

“$XRP Deposits and Withdrawals will be suspended from 12:00 pm UTC Dec 11; Snapshot of users’ $XRP tokens at 12:00am UTC Dec 12. After the snapshot, Deposits and Withdrawals will resume.”

How will Spark Airdrop Program work?

December 12 is announced as the official date where Spark will be airdropped, but it will actually be the first step in Flare Networks’ initiative to distribute FLR tokens to XRP holders. On December 12, at 12:00 am UTC, a “snapshot” of XRP holders’ total amount of XRP will be taken by Flare Networks. Traders and investors who hold Ripple’s native digital currency will be able to receive Spark tokens for free on a 1:1 ratio.

The total amount of tokens to be distributed under the Spark Airdrop Program will be approximately 45 billion, made available to all XRP holders except for Ripple Labs. The upcoming release of tokens is said to have triggered an upward price movement for XRP.

Flare Networks, the Ripple-backed smart contract utility fork, will then take into account XRP held on participating wallets and crypto exchanges. An actual distribution day for their native tokens is not known, although it is anticipated for some time between March and May 2021.

It is also recommended that all XRP deposits be locked into the compatible exchanges and wallets before December 11, as most crypto exchanges will temporarily pause withdrawal and deposits of XRP on their platforms.

The easiest way to benefit from the airdrop is to deposit XRP into a crypto exchange that supports the snapshot. Another way to gain free Spark tokens is to hold XRP in compatible digital wallets, although there may be additional steps for users to take before being able to claim their free tokens. Users also have the choice to file a self-custody claim of XRP, although this may not be the easiest way of participating in the token distribution.

Many exchanges have announced their support for the upcoming airdrop. However, Binance.US and Coinbase XRP holders will not be able to benefit from it. A crypto enthusiast retweeted by Flare Networks said:

“At this point in time, pretty much every major exchange minus @coinbase is supporting the @FlareNetworks airdrop.”

Coinbase had previously omitted to confirm their participation in the Spark token distribution and was called out by Flare Networks, as the US-based crypto exchange held about 3 billion XRP on their platform.

Currently, XRP token tracker announced via Twitter that funds for XRP were increasingly being deposited into exchanges supporting the Spark airdrop. Per the Tweet:

“We’ve noticed a lot of $XRP action on the exchanges that will be supporting the airdrop including: @binance, @bitfinex, @Bitstamp and more.” 

Image source: Shutterstock Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/okex-announces-support-spark-flr-airdrop-xrp-holders-prepare-token-distribution

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SushiSwap (SUSHI) Token Price Surges Over 15% After Merger with Yearn.finance

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Decentralized finance SushiSwap’s native token SUSHI has surged over 15 percent in the past 24 hours, while Bitcoin and other large cap altcoins are in a sea of red. SushiSwap’s SUSHI token has become the best performing asset in the past 24 hours, and the DeFi token has been able to climb nearly 60 percent in a week.

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While Bitcoin has attempted to surpass the $20,000 resistance level while hitting its all-time high, selling pressure quickly accumulated and the digital asset dropped 7 percent. 

After the founder of Yearn.finance, Andre Cronje revealed that SushiSwap would be merged with the team of Yearn.finance, the SUSHI token quickly rose. Cronje announced the merger, saying:

“As Sushi focused on expanding their AMM ecosystem, and as Yearn focused on expanding their strategies, more and more overlap became apparent, Yearn needed custom AMM experiences for their strategies, and Sushi started pushing the boundaries of yield and money markets.”

The decentralized finance (DeFi) industry has also seen a boom lately, with over $14.4 billion in cryptocurrencies locked. MakerDAO continues to be in the lead with the most cryptocurrencies locked, almost reaching $3 billion, after SushiSwap’s original blockchain before its fork, Uniswap recently lost most of its dominance in the ecosystem.

SushiSwap currently has over $790 million in total value locked and is currently trading at $2.25 per token. SushiSwap is also expected to roll out new products in the future, which would enable it to differentiate itself from other automated market makers (AMM) in the DeFi ecosystem. 

The last time SushiSwap’s SUSHI token price surged was when Uniswap’s rewards ended. SushiSwap’s TVL climbed over 150 percent the day Uniswap’s rewards ended and has reached above $1 billion. Bancor, another decentralized exchange has released a liquidity mining program, which includes retroactive rewards on Nov. 17.

Image source: Shutterstock Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/sushiswap-sushi-token-price-surges-15-after-merger-yearn-finance

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BlackRock CEO Larry Fink Says Bitcoin Can Evolve Into Global Asset and Impact Dollar

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Larry Fink, the head of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock sees the potential for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency sector to evolve into a mainstream marketplace. He also noted the impact BTC is having on dollar-based assets internationally.

Bitcoin, Larry Fink, BlackRock, Global Asset, Evolve

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has given a relatively understated endorsement of Bitcoin in a report by CNBC on Dec. 1.

Fink said:

“Bitcoin has caught the attention and the imagination of many people. Still untested, pretty small market relative to other markets.”

Although the Blackrock CEO recognizes that BTC is “seeing big giant moves every day,” Fink maintained it’s a “thin market,” but did not rule out Bitcoin’s potential growth.

While speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on Dec 1, Fink said:

“Can it (BTC) evolve into a global market? Possibly.”

Fink also noted in the CNBC report that having a digital currency like Bitcoin has a real impact on the US dollar—making it less relevant to international holders of dollar-based assets.

The Blackrock CEO further raised the question that many economists have been pondering in regard to Bitcoin:

“Does it change the need for the dollar as a reserve currency?”

BlackRock holds over $7.4 trillion in assets under management making it the world’s largest asset manager. While Fink’s comments were not overly bullish, the comments are still a positive development for the still-nascent cryptocurrency market and its pioneer Bitcoin. The CEO’s comments also indicate that BlackRock is watching the crypto space very closely.

Notably, institutional adoption is currently driving bullish sentiment in the Bitcoin and crypto space along with major players who have publicly announced major allocations of their portfolios to Bitcoin—such as billionaire hedge fund managers Stanley Druckenmiller and Paul Tudor Jones II and MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor.

Image source: Shutterstock Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/blackrock-ceo-larry-fink-says-bitcoin-can-evolve-into-global-asset-and-impact-dollar

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