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2018 was epic. It started with the madness of altcoins rally at the beginning of the year. Followed by massive steps towards bitcoin and crypto mass-adoption made by regulators, large enterprises, and institutional investors. 

And it ended with the blood and tears of traders on the streets (we can still hear some of them screaming). 

Block Explorer is willing to reflect on the most important events that brought the industry to its current state. So, here are the major crypto announcements that shaped 2018: 

1. January: The Perfect Month to Ban Something

Bitcoin price: $14,112 (on the first of the month)

The beginning of January was marked by the huge news splash made by the South Korean government. They unveiled plans to ban anonymous trading on cryptocurrency exchanges over tax avoidance. And sent the police and tax-collecting authorities to their offices. 

As a result, the bitcoin price decreased by $2,000.

At the end of the month, crypto was in trouble again, as Facebook decided to ban all ads related to digital currencies. Since Facebook marketing was a major driving force for many initial coin offerings (ICOs), it cut the source of easy promo for many blockchain startups. 

2. February: China and Bankers Join Forces Against Bitcoin

Bitcoin price: $10,264

It’s not easy living in China without the freedom of internet browsing, catching up with friends on Facebook or just googling. All of that is restricted by the “Great Firewall of China.”  At the beginning of February, the list of undesirable foreign websites was supplemented with bitcoin-related websites to eliminate the financial risks for Chinese citizens.

Next, the head of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) called bitcoin “a bubble, a Ponzi scheme, and an environmental disaster”. The media went nuts over it, and the more they referred to it in the following articles the more the price of crypto was sliding down, falling as much as 14% in one day. 

3. March: SEC has a Crush on Crypto Exchanges. Google Doesn’t

Bitcoin price: $10,433

Some more heartbreaking and uncomfortable milestones for bitcoin and crypto included the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcement made in March. They obliged all cryptocurrency exchanges to go through the registration procedure through the agency. 

One week later, news from Google set an overall moody tone of the blockchain scene: the company joined Facebook to ban all cryptocurrency-related ads. 

google bans crypto ads

4. April: India Joins the Strike Against Bitcoin 

Bitcoin price: $7,030

In April, crypto’s misadventures continued. This time the Central Bank of India (The Reserve Bank of India) banned financial institutions from allowing transactions from people’s accounts to bitcoin wallets. 

5. May: Goldman Sachs is Going Crypto, “Rich Dudes” are Boiling Over

Bitcoin price: $9,037

A little happy bitcoin rally happened when it was uncovered that Goldman Sachs had its own team dedicated to entering the crypto market. 

Although some people were are not happy about it. Including some very “rich dudes” that were on a mission to come up with the most-quoted insult for bitcoin. For instance, well-known billionaire value investor Warren Buffett referred to bitcoin as “rat poison squared,” and Bill Gates, one of the kindest billionaires in the world, labeled it a “greater fool theory”. 

Later this month the U.S. Justice Department started an investigation into bitcoin price manipulation. Oh, boy, it’s getting tougher.

But even in spite of all those troubles, crypto was still on a good path to wider acceptance. Or how else could you explain the 25 million crypto wallets registered at blockchain.com?  

6. June: Facebook is Stricken by FOMO  

Bitcoin price: $7,519

In June it was time for more bad news. It’s never enough in the crypto world. A panic sell-off happened in the first half of the month after Coinrail’s hack announcement. Even though this South Korean exchange was relatively small it led to a rapid 10% drop in bitcoin price. 

A couple of weeks later, big news came from Facebook who decided to reconsider the crypto advertising ban. Promoting initial coin offerings was still off the table though. 

7. July: Winklevoss Twins Keep Being Stubborn With SEC

Bitcoin price: $6,366

July was relatively calm for cryptocurrencies. Probably because most of the troublemakers were on vacation. But some news was still in the air, including the fact that asset-management heavy-weight BlackRock was looking into crypto assets and another SEC rejection of exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal filed by Winklevoss twins. 

8. August: Too Many Rejections of ETF Proposals

Bitcoin price: $7,634

August was all about ETF proposals, their postponing and rejections. The bitcoin exchange rates struggled at first, but at the end of the month, after the U.S. Security Exchange Commission declined nine bitcoin ETFs, the price of the major crypto remained stable. How resilient is it? 

9. September: The First Crypto-Related Company Files for IPO

Bitcoin price: $7,192

Most of September’s announcements were quite positive. First, there was more news about Goldman Sachs jumping into crypto. The company’s chief financial officer Martin Chavez confirmed that the Wall Street giant was working on the development of bitcoin-based derivatives that will be accessible to the bank’s clients. 

At the end of the month, one of the leading bitcoin miners, Bitmain, spilled out their intention to run an initial public offering (IPO). And the application for the process was already filed. Bitcoin Cash prices (one of the assets Bitmain is mining) surged up to 20% rapidly. 

10. October: Happy birthday, Bitcoin. Here’s Your Mass-Adoption

Bitcoin price: $6,619

More happy news to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Bitcoin’s whitepaper. Big steps from institutional investors happened in the middle of October when Fidelity Investments announced the launch of a spin-off company, dedicated to crypto assets exclusively. The new firm named Fidelity Digital Assets was onboarding its first clients and still preparing for the grand opening for the general public in 2019. 

Also, the launch of the first blockchain phone, made by HTC, stole the headlines in October. 

11. November: Blood, Sweat, and Tears of Bitcoin Cash Fork 

Bitcoin price: $6,427

Fights over the Bitcoin Cash fork got completely out of control. The battle between BCHSV (Satoshi Vision), lead by Craig Wright, aka Fake Satoshi and BCHABC (Adjustable Blocksize Cap), driven by Roger Ver, previously labeled as Bitcoin Jesus was observed by the entire industry. It triggered huge crypto volatility, increased trading volume and, as some experts might say, a bitcoin nosedive to a new bottom. And we are still in the middle of that roller coaster.

On the other hand, we had some good news too. Like the announcement about the first state in the U.S. will be accepting bitcoin as a tax payment. Way to go, Ohio! 

This year is not over yet, and we don’t know exactly what the future holds. As you know in crypto, “one day you are in, and another day you are out”.  But we promise to keep you posted. 

And what was your favorite news break of the year? Go ahead and share it in the comment section below.

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Every Friday, we take a light-hearted tour through the best memes, artwork, and oddities from the cryptoverse. In a year when $1 billion crypto was stolen, Carty Sewill explorers a meme devoted to crypto hacks: “Funds are Safu.”

We’ve all felt it. The overwhelming anxiety that comes when you log into an exchange and see any change in balance or lack of withdrawal options. It instantly triggers thoughts of GOX. Whether it’s a hack, a server error, or just maintenance, we’re a shaky bunch; with good reason. Sometimes we need assurances. We want to know our ‘Funds are safu.’

CZ Binance funds are safu

Everyone knows they shouldn’t keep coins they’re not willing to lose sitting on an exchange. But sometimes it’s not so simple. Withdrawal and transaction fees, for some of us, can nickel and dime our portfolios out of existence. Others trade too frequently to be moving coins back and forth all day. Unless you plan on quitting your job.

The majority of us have a few exchanges we trust and most of us use one of those exchanges like a wallet. Binance being one such exchange for many a crypto-enthusiast. And in early March of 2018 the collective PTSD of the crypto-community was triggered once again when an API and SYScoin attack caused a disruption of balances and the temporary shutdown on Binance.

In a clever scheme, a hacker used Binance APIs to target a low liquidity coin, SYScoin, in order to manipulate the order book and use access to a high volume account to withdraw Bitcoin without an audit. The hack triggered an immediate shutdown of Binance and as a consequence the cryptosphere went on red alert. Thousands of Twitter handles began screaming foul and speculating as to whether or not their funds were still sitting safely in Binance wallets.

funds are safe CZ binance
The original, and deleted, “funds are safe” tweet.

In response, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) tweeted an explanation claiming “all funds are safe.”  Soon, 4Chan channel /biz/ was exploding with parody and the phrase “Funds are Safu,” was born. In just a few days, Bizonacci cemented ‘Funds are Safu’ as a crypto-meme when he released an animated mockery of the situation on Youtube. 

As usual in, our small corner of the internet, original content began flooding Twitter. The meme was a hit and even CZ himself played along, tweeting “Funds are safu,” during a scheduled upgrade later in the month. Even going so far as to name the Binance insurance fund S.A.F.U.

funds are safu
CZ embracing the “funds are safu” meme.
funds are safu
CZ explaining the history of “funds are safu”

It’s a meme with legs and it’s unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. Reminding all of us to remain vigilant, use 2FA, and keep our funds safu.

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Bitcoin satellites

Blockchain technology company Blockstream has switched on its fifth satellite, taking bitcoin to space.

The Blockstream satellite network will broadcast the entire bitcoin blockchain to every populated country on Earth. There are three huge implications here:

  1. It brings potential access to bitcoin for the 45% of the global population without internet access.
  2. It ensures bitcoin is still usable in the event of a natural disaster or internet network disruption. 
  3. It paves the way for uncensored messaging and communication services around the world, without internet service providers like Verizon.

Blockstream Satellite

The newest satellite is the fifth in Blockstream’s network, named Telstar 18V. It covers the Asia Pacific region, adding to its existing coverage in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa.

The bitcoin satellite node works by sending blockchain information from ground stations, called “Teleports” to the satellites in orbit. The satellites then broadcast it over a larger portion of Earth.

Blockstream bitcoin satellite coverage
Blockstream’s satellites now cover almost the entire land mass on Earth

Blockstream Satellite Phase 2

Moving into the second phase of the project, Blockstream will also allow users to send data and communications via the satellites in private, using encryption. It means people in the most remote parts of the world can send messages securely without an internet connection.

To do this, they’ll introduce an API in January 2019 giving developers free rein to build applications that “broadcast messages globally using the Blockstream Satellite network.”

Users will pay for the secure communications using bitcoin via the Lightning Network. The Lightning Network is designed to facilitate micropayments and speed up transactions.

“Bitcoin has always been about uncensorable money,” Blockstream chief strategy officer Samson Mow told Forbes“Now we have uncensorable communications as well.”

The Next Generation for Bitcoin

The move into space has unprecedented ramifications for cryptocurrency. It puts the bitcoin network far out of reach of governments – you can’t regulate space.

It gives power to people without an internet connection. Not only by giving them access to bitcoin and money transfer but to secure communication and even mining potential. As Blockstream CEO Adam Back explains:

 “You could set up a bitcoin mining operation in the middle of the desert powered by solar.”

It might be wildly ambitious, but Blockstream is quietly revolutionizing the way we send money and communicate around the world.

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crypto exchange manipulation

Major cryptocurrency exchanges are manipulating their own volume figures. That’s according to a new report by the Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI). 

The BTI report claims as much as 80% of the volume on the top 25 bitcoin pairs are subject to wash trading and manipulative bot trading.

Exchanges are inflating their own volume numbers in an attempt to draw huge listing fees from new coin projects.

What is wash trading?

Wash trading is a practice by which an investor or company buys and sells an asset simultaneously. They are essentially buying and selling from themselves. Do this with enough frequency, and it gives the impression of huge volume.

The BTI claims that major exchanges use wash trading techniques to fake the volume on their exchanges.

By doing this, crypto exchanges appear larger and more active than they truly are.

In some cases, true volume is under 1% of reported volume

To find out how deep the problem goes, BTI calculated the true volume of CoinMarketCap’s top 25 BTC pairs. The research firm discovered that actual volume on most of the pairs is less than 1% of the reported figures.

The worst offenders: OKEx, Bithumb, Huobi

Among the worst offenders are some of the biggest crypto exchanges on the planet.

OKEx, the fourth-largest exchange by reported volume, was singled out for evidence of wash trading on all 30 of its traded tokens. Huobi, the fifth-largest by reported volume, appears to be wash trading most of its top pairs, according to the report. And Bithumb, the second-largest by reported volume, is accused of wash trading its Monero, Dash, Bitcoin Gold, and ZCash pairs.

Bithumb now tops the BTI’s Exchange Advisory List, which highlights risky or opaque exchange practices.

BTI Advisory List: use with caution

Binance, Bitfinex, Coinbase Pro get the green light

Not all exchanges are engaging in nefarious wash trading. The BTI found no evidence of manipulation at Binance or Bitfinex. Binance is currently the largest exchange by adjusted volume on CoinMarketCap.

Bitfinex has been accused of market manipulation in the past due to its close ties with stablecoin Tether. However, the BTI report confirms that 100% of trading volume is real.

Coinbase Pro, Kraken, and Gemini also appear to have 100% true volume.

Crypto exchanges reporting true volume, according to BTI

Why are crypto exchanges manipulating their volume?

By faking their volume, crypto exchanges appear bigger and more liquid than they truly are. A high “reported volume” also puts them near the top of CoinMarketCap rankings, which drives more traffic to the exchange.

With a bigger profile, the exchange can charge huge fees for projects looking to list their coins on the platform.

The BTI estimates that coin project teams spend an average of $50,000 on listing fees just for the exchanges on its advisory list. It amounts to $100 million stolen by shady exchanges.

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Tim May cypherpunks

Cypherpunk Tim May has reportedly died at his home in California. May was a co-founder of the Cypherpunk mailing list and author of The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto. His influence lay the groundwork for bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and a new movement of privacy advocates.

Word of his death was announced by fellow cypherpunk Lucky Green: 

“My dear friend, co-conspirator in many things and for many years, fellow Freedom Fighter Tim May passed away earlier this week at his home in Corralitos, California… Tim May co-founded the Cypherpunks, perhaps the single most effective pro-cryptography grassroots organization in history.”

Founded in 1992, Tim May’s Cypherpunk mailing list was home to some of the most groundbreaking ideas in cryptographic and cryptocurrency history. Wei Dei shared his vision for a digital currency called b-money on the mailing list, many years before bitcoin was envisioned. Nick Szabo shared his concept for “smart contracts,” a decade before Ethereum came along to popularize the technology. And Adam Back outlined an early version of “proof of work,” which became the algorithm behind bitcoin.

The Cypherpunk mailing list was a melting pot of concepts and ideas that eventually came to the mainstream via Satoshi Nakamoto’s famous bitcoin whitepaper.

Without Tim May and the cypherpunk movement, there would be no bitcoin.

The Eerily Accurate Predictions of The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto

May’s lasting contribution to the world, however, is The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto. A short, passionate piece of writing published in 1988 that predicted the future with eerie accuracy. 

May outlined how computer technology would provide “the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner.”

However, he explained how governments would react negatively to the movement. 

“The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration.”

May even predicted how the technology would lead to an internet black market: 

“[Cryptography] will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion.”

The prediction is not a million miles away from the infamous Silk Road marketplace which harnessed bitcoin as a payment method.

But May was right in predicting that these events would not bring down the wider movement:

“This will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.”

“Satoshi would barf”

As bitcoin infiltrated the mainstream, May became somewhat disillusioned with the trajectory. In his last published interview with CoinDesk, he lamented the direction of cryptocurrency:

“I can’t speak for what Satoshi intended, but I sure don’t think it involved bitcoin exchanges that have draconian rules about KYC, AML, passports, freezes on accounts and laws about reporting “suspicious activity” to the local secret police… I think Satoshi would barf.”

The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, in Full

For those that are interested in Bitcoin and its history, take some time to read through The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto in full. This is how cryptocurrency took shape. It’s how the early pioneers envisioned the technology and what it could do. RIP, Tim May. 

The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto – Timothy C. May

A specter is haunting the modern world, the specter of crypto anarchy.

Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re- routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.

The technology for this revolution–and it surely will be both a social and economic revolution–has existed in theory for the past decade. The methods are based upon public-key encryption, zero-knowledge interactive proof systems, and various software protocols for interaction, authentication, and verification. The focus has until now been on academic conferences in Europe and the U.S., conferences monitored closely by the National Security Agency. But only recently have computer networks and personal computers attained sufficient speed to make the ideas practically realizable. And the next ten years will bring enough additional speed to make the ideas economically feasible and essentially unstoppable. High-speed networks, ISDN, tamper-proof boxes, smart cards, satellites, Ku-band transmitters, multi-MIPS personal computers, and encryption chips now under development will be some of the enabling technologies.

The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration. Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade freely and will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. Various criminal and foreign elements will be active users of CryptoNet. But this will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.

Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions. Combined with emerging information markets, crypto anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all material which can be put into words and pictures. And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property.

Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!