Italian cryptocurrency exchange BitGrail has revealed that it is insolvent following a $170 million hack.

BitGrail Hacked for $170 Million Worth of XRB

On Friday, BitGrail, which is headquartered in Florence, announced on its website that it had discovered “unauthorized transactions” that resulted in the theft of 17 million Nano tokens (XRB), which were formerly known as RaiBlocks. At the time of the theft, these tokens were worth $170 million.

BitGrail owner and operator Francesco “The Bomber” Firano stated on Twitter that the company could not fully-reimburse customers, as the exchange is now in possession of just 4 million XRB. This indicates either that BitGrail was storing the majority of its funds in internet-connected “hot wallets” or that the theft was an inside job, as the perpetrator would have needed physical access to steal funds stored in cold storage.

The Nano developers quickly moved to warn other cryptocurrency exchanges about the theft so that they could prevent the hackers from laundering the stolen funds.

BitGrail, Nano Blame One Another for Theft

Meanwhile, BitGrail and Firano claimed that all other funds were secure, and said that it had notified the relevant authorities about the theft. He said that the only way to return customer funds was to fork the Nano blockchain, and he lambasted the Nano Core developers of resisting this solution.

However, in a withering blog post, the Nano developers accused Firano of concealing BitGrail’s insolvency.

“We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time,” the post said.

Nano Core also posted a transcript of chat logs with Firano, who appears to have threatened to tell customers that the theft was the result of a bug in the XRB protocol.

Notably, the BitGrail theft comes just weeks after Japanese exchange Coincheck was fleeced for $530 million worth of NEM tokens (XEM) in what is now the largest cryptocurrency theft in history. In both of these instances, the thieves targeted wallets holding cryptocurrencies with smaller market caps, instead of large-cap coins like bitcoin or ethereum.

okex

Cryptocurrency exchange giant OKEx has announced that it has launched its own utility token, likely in a bid to siphon market share away from Binance.

The Hong Kong-based OKEx made the announcement on Saturday, revealing that the launch was timed to correlate with the Chinese New Year.

The exchange said that, among other things, OKB tokens can be used to settle trading fees, as well as obtain access to exclusive services including dedicated customer support and enhanced API rate limits.

Initially, OKB will be structured as an ERC-20 token and run on the Ethereum blockchain. However, interestingly, the company said that it plans to eventually launch its own public blockchain, tentatively named OKChain.

“OKB will be accepted on OKEx and will be a vital piece of OKEx’s architecture & development,” the company stated in a press release. “We aim to build a sharing community with blockchain technology, allowing every user to participate and contribute to the development of our platform.”

The move is likely a bid to compete with Binance, an exchange that bootstrapped its development through an initial coin offering (ICO) last year.

Despite launching just months ago, Binance has already become the undisputed leader in trading volume among exchanges that only offer cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trading pairs. Within the past 24 hours, Binance has processed more than $2 billion worth of trades, while OKEx, the fifth most popular exchange, has seen about $1.3 billion in volume.

One reason for Binance’s meteoric ascent is the fact that BNB, its utility token, provides users with discounted trading fees. This not only increases liquidity but also ensures customer loyalty, since the tokens cannot be used on other platforms.

Similarly, OKEx’s token will likely be distributed through an ICO-style token generation event, but the company has been tight-lipped on the details of this distribution.

However, the exchange did reveal that it will distribute an initial round of 100 million OKB through a giveaway this week. Through Feb. 14, all users who achieve at least 5 BTC worth of trading volume will receive a random amount of tokens, ranging between 10 and 1,000 OKB.

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bittrex crypto

Bittrex is a United States based cryptocurrency exchange. It was founded in 2014 by  Bill Shihara, Richie Lai, Rami Kawach, and Ryan Hentz. As of the time of writing, the platform has 271 trading pairs. And much like Poloniex, it does not support buying cryptocurrency directly with USD (aside from a wire transfer $10,000 or more).

Bittrex is currently ranked #2 on BlockExplorer’s top 25 exchange list

 

bittrex crypto exchange

URL: https://www.bittrex.com/

Total Trading Pairs: 271

Founded: 2014

Deposit fees: None

Withdrawal fees: Yes

Trading fees: Yes, 0.25% flat rate

Verification: Yes, two levels

Verification Level Maximum Withdrawal
Basic 0.4BTC equivalent
Enhanced 100BTC equivalent

Bittrex has a large amount of liquidity in its markets and supports API based trading. These two factors make it recommended to mid to large tier traders. Specifically, those looking for arbitrage opportunities, or otherwise have a need to trade programmatically.

Verifying your Bittrex account

Bittrex has two levels of verification, the first, Basic Verification, allows for 0.4BTC or equivalent worth of withdrawals per day. And the second, Enhanced Verification, allows for up to 100BTC equivalent per day.

Basic verification

To acquire Basic Verification status, you will need to provide personal information such as full name, country of residence, birthdate, and address. Taking care to confirm that names match those on your government-issued identity documents.

Upgrading to Enhanced Verification

Bittrex uses an external service called Jumio for enhanced verification. It supports a large number of countries. Enhanced verification requires a picture of you holding your government ID (that the name on your account matches) in such a way that both the ID and your face are clearly visible. If verification fails, you will need to contact Bittrex support for a resolution.

Coincheck, the largest exchange in Japan, has been hacked, reportedly losing 530+ million dollars worth of NEM. According to Nikkei, they have reported the transfer to the Financial Services Authority and the Police. They have frozen all withdrawals at this time.

An earlier blog post announced the freeze on NEM deposits:

“Depositing NEM on Coincheck is currently being restricted. Deposits made to your account will not be reflected in your balance, and we advise all users to refrain from making deposits until the restriction has been lifted.’

Shortly thereafter, purchase and sales of NEM were halted, followed by several announcements of all withdrawals and movements of any kind being frozen.

At 2 pm UTC the NEM Foundation president Lon Wong has confirmed that the hack, calling the event ‘the biggest theft in the history of the world’.

Coincheck has expressed their intent to compensate their customers, but the practicality of this remains to be seen: (translated from Japanese via Google Translate)

History

Coincheck is a crypto wallet and exchange solution based in Tokyo and was founded by Koichiro Wada and Yusuke Otsuka in 2014. It specializes in bitcoin/ether exchange as well as fiat currencies in Japan.  As of August 2016, the exchange services over $160 million in transactions per month. More than 2200 merchants have used their bitcoin payment offering in Japan only.

In 2016 the entertainment company DMM.com opted to use Coincheck’s crypto processing solution, bringing a userbase of more than 19 million. Coincheck also has with Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwan investors through SEKAI in order to support the purchase of real estate using Bitcoin.

mufg

Japan’s largest bank, MUFG, plans to launch its own digital currency and add a cryptocurrency exchange to its growing list of blockchain-related services.

MUFG to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), which also ranks as one of the five largest banks in the world, intends to become the first Japanese bank to open a licensed cryptocurrency exchange, according to a report from The Mainichi, a media outlet based in Tokyo.

Following its launch later this year, MUFG plans to use the exchange as a platform to issue MUFG Coin, a yen-pegged token that will operate on a private blockchain controlled by the bank.

Strictly speaking, MUFG Coin’s value will not be directly fixed to the yen, because Japanese financial services regulations require that transfers of more than one million yen (~$9,000) be conducted through a bank.

Consequently, a crypto-token that was truly pegged to the yen could not operate as a fully-functional currency.

Instead, the bank will “suppress” the price of MUFG Coin on its exchange to ensure that each token is always worth approximately one yen while also retaining the currency’s utility as a payment mechanism.

The report said that MUFG has already informed Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) of its plans to open the exchange and use it to issue MUFG Coin, although the bank has not officially submitted an application for licensure.

MUFG has not revealed what other cryptoassets, if any, will trade on its exchange alongside MUFG Coin.

However, the bank has announced the creation of a custodial service for bitcoin traders. Customers who opt-in to the service will have their holdings placed in segregated accounts that are separate from the exchange’s assets, and these assets will be guaranteed by the trust bank in the event that they are compromised.

Although this service will be available to traders at all participating bitcoin exchanges, it would seem likely that MUFG would seek to integrate it into its own service as well.

Japanese Banks Race to Issue Digital Currencies

Notably, MUFG is not the only bank in cryptocurrency-friendly Japan that intends to issue its own digital currency.

A consortium led by Mizuho Financial Group has announced that they will issue the yen-pegged J-Coin later this year.

Mizuho has said that one of its chief priorities is integrating J-Coin with Alibaba’s Alipay mobile payment platform.

Featured Image from Wikimedia Commons/Rebirth10