wikileaks

The WikiLeaks Shop has been banned from Coinbase’s payment platform, the organization revealed on Friday.

“Coinbase has blocked the official @WikiLeaks shop from its platform without notice or explanation,” the organization wrote on its Twitter account. “You can continue to donate #Bitcoin to WikiLeaks at WikiLeaks.org/donate.”

WikiLeaks posted a screenshot of the email that Coinbase allegedly sent the non-profit organization, which publishes classified government documents provided by anonymous sources. In the email, Coinbase referenced the exchange operator and payment processor’s regulatory obligations as a money services business (MSB) that must remain compliant with FinCEN policies.

From the email:

“Upon careful review, we believe your account has engaged in prohibited use in violation of our Terms of Service and we regret to inform you that we can no longer provide you with access to our service. We respectfully request that you follow the on-screen instructions presented when you log into your Coinbase account to send any remaining balance offsite to an external address.”

WikiLeaks first began accepting bitcoin in 2010, after MasterCard, PayPal, and other payment processors began barring their customers from donating to the controversial organization.

The organization’s embrace of bitcoin provided the fledgling cryptocurrency with one of its first significant waves of mainstream media attention, and WikiLeaks now accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies, including zcash, monero, litecoin, and ethereum.

Despite the Coinbase ban, customers can continue to purchase items at the WikiLeaks Shop using CoinPayments.net’s payment processing tool, through which the store continues to accept bitcoin, as well as a number of altcoins.

WikiLeaks responded to the ban by calling for a “global blockade” of the company next week, arguing that its actions make it an “unfit member of the crypto community.”

Widely-respected bitcoin advocate and public speaker Andreas M. Antonopoulos tweeted that he was “disappointed with Coinbase” for shutting off access to the organization but said that he doesn’t hate them and won’t support a boycott.

“Coinbase is the most bitcoin-friendly bank there is,” he said. “Once you accept that they are a bank, it becomes easier to understand. If you need to use a bank, they’re it.”

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fake news

“Fake news” — that’s how Binance responded to reports that the cryptocurrency exchange giant is preparing to add USD trading pairs to its online trading platform.

The Hong Kong-based exchange, which is currently in the process of moving its operations to Malta, said Thursday that while it is holding discussions with banks in the hopes of adding fiat-to-cryptocurrency trading pairs in the future, it has “no plans” to support USD in the short-term. Nor, when it does offer fiat pairs, will verge (XVG) or ripple (XRP) receive preferential treatment.

That statement, straight from the Twitter account of Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, contradicted baseless reports from several industry media outlets that claimed the exchange had announced that it was adding XRP/USD and XVG/USD trading pairs to its platform.

Part of the confusion may also stem from the fact that Binance has gradually been rolling out USDT trading pairs for altcoins that are listed on its platform. Better known as ‘tether‘ and created by a company of the same name, USDT is a cryptocurrency token that is supposedly backed by physical dollars at a 1:1 ratio. However, USDT holders cannot withdraw dollars directly to their bank accounts, nor can they deposit actual USD at Binance.

Binance currently ranks as the world’s highest-volume cryptocurrency exchange, with daily volume in excess of $2.1 billion. Consequently, getting listed on Binance increases a coin’s liquidity and generally leads to positive price movements — at least in the short-term.

Becoming one of the few coins to trade directly against fiat currency pairs has an even more profound effect on a cryptocurrency’s price, as it allows the coin to decouple from bitcoin and ethereum and trade in an isolated market.

It’s impossible to know the justification behind spreading these false rumors, though it would not be surprising if at least some of the perpetrators did so to artificially inflate the verge and ripple prices so that they could turn a quick profit.

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Kraken’s CEO, Jesse Powell, had nothing but strong words for New York regulators who tried to compel the San Francisco based exchange to take part in it’s Virtual Market Integrity Initiative. Kraken and 13 other exchanges were instructed to participate in the Virtual Market Integrity Initiative, with the goal of seeking greater transparency regarding how trading platforms operate.

The New York Attorney General offices Investor Protection Bureau sent letters to the platforms requesting they completed a questionnaire by May 1. The forms included detailed questions on ownership, fees, money laundering and more.

According to the Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman:

“Too often, consumers don’t have the basic facts they need to assess the fairness, integrity and security of these trading platforms.”

Most exchanges were willing to cooperate with the inquiry and are interested in increasing transparency in the space. Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini whose statement was published on CNBC applauded the Attorney General and  said:

“We look forward to cooperating with and submitting our responses to the questionnaire that has been circulated.”

Powell (Kraken), however, was more critical of the regulators. In an update shared on Twitter, he said:

“Kraken’s BitLicense-prompted exit from New York in 2015 pays another dividend today. When I saw this 34-point demand, with a deadline 2 weeks out, I immediately thought ‘The audacity of these guys — the entitlement, the disrespect for our business, our time! The resource diversion for this production is massive. This is going to completely blow up our roadmap!’ Then I realized that we made the right decision to get the hell out of New York three years ago and that we can dodge this bullet.”

Kraken had ceased operations in New York in 2015 as part of the “Great Bitcoin Exodus” that resulted after the controversial BitLicense was introduced. Powell said that Kraken was open to help New York’s regulators understand their business operations as well as how the crypto space works but he believes the AG’s inquiry is misplaced and blames other crypto exchanges for “kowtowing” to the probe and others before it. Kraken also recently ceased operations in Japan due to regulatory pressure, but still ranks in America’s top 15 by volume list for cryptocurrency trading platforms.

Kraken, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in operation, has just announced that it will be ceasing its operations in Japan for the time being.

The move is as a result of increased regulations and sky-high operational costs in the Japanese cryptocurrency market.

In a report Bloomberg published, Kraken stated:

“Suspending our services for Japan residents will allow us to better focus on our resources to improve in other geographical areas.” They reassured their numerous customers by adding: “This is a localised suspension of service that only affects residents of Japan and does not impact services for Japanese citizens or businesses domiciled outside of Japan”.

For a while now, Japan has been cited as the hub for crypto activity by the cryptocurrency community. A large number of Japanese organizations have been hopping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Internet companies have shown growing interest in dipping into the rising market. As an example, Yahoo Japan recently announced the acquisition of a cryptocurrency exchange.

Along with companies, it seems the general public has warmed up to the sector as well. R25 conducted a survey where it was reported that approximately 14% of Japanese males within the age bracket of 25 to 30 own cryptocurrency.

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Even while the Japanese public’s acceptance of cryptocurrency is on the rise, increasing government regulations have cropped up after the $560 Million hack of Coincheck. Several calls have been made by investors and members of the public for increased scrutiny of the exchanges to prevent a future occurrence.

The Japanese Financial Services Agency made a move towards protecting the industry by requiring licenses for exchanges and a higher level of security. This led to a lot of closures as some exchanges couldn’t meet these demands.

Kraken, on the other hand, obtained the necessary authority to operate in Japan without a license but the American-based company was never a crowd’s favorite.

Over the course of its 3-year existence in Japan, Kraken was never able to reach the volume it required to justify its existence in Japan. As of April 17th, the BTC/JPY pair accounted for a measly 0.9% of the exchange’s total volume, minuscule when compared to the BTC/USD pair’s total volume.

smartphone

Coinbase has acquired Cipher Browser, an ethereum wallet and Web 3 browser that allows mobile users to access decentralized applications (DApps) that run on the Ethereum blockchain.

The San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange and brokerage platform made the announcement on Friday, just weeks after revealing that it intended to work to ensure that its products were compatible with ERC20 tokens.

Coinbase already has its own mobile ethereum wallet and DApp browser, Toshi, which is available for both iOS and Android devices. In addition to letting mobile users access DApps like CryptoKitties, the app also has a built-in messaging system, which uses the Signal protocol to offer end-to-end encrypted chats.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the company did reveal that Peter Kim, Cipher’s creator, would join Coinbase as Toshi’s new head of engineering and work to integrate many of Cipher’s features into Toshi.

One of those features will be support for testnets, which allow developers to test their apps in a sandbox that mimics real-world implementation without having to risk actual funds. The lack of testnet support in Toshi had been a sticking point for DApp developers.

That Kim will immediately transition to developing Toshi is not surprising, as Emilie Choi — Coinbase’s new vice president of corporate and business development — is a fan of “acqhiring,” a strategy whereby a firm buys out another company primarily for the staff and their expertise.

As BlockExplorer reported, Coinbase is also rumored to be in discussions to acquire Earn.com, a paid messaging platform that rewards users with cryptocurrency for replying to emails and completing other microtasks.

Coinbase also recently launched a venture capital fund, which will provide cryptocurrency startups with seed funding. The fund will open with $15 million, and the company said this number will grow along with Coinbase itself.

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