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.

Featured Image from Pexels

south korea bans cryptocurrency trading

The Justice Ministry of South Korea has announced plans to ban cryptocurrency trading. While this is not a ban on the use and holding of cryptocurrency, the effect on exchanges is already being felt. Multiple Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have been raided by local tax authorities and police. The alleged crime? Tax evasion. The finance ministry had increasingly been looking into local cryptocurrency exchanges, especially as their activity grew to eclipse that of Korean stock exchanges such as Kosdaq. Korean official Park Sang-ki said at a press conference:

“There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges.”

Korean cryptocurrency exchanges raided by authorities

The two largest Bitcoin exchanges in Korea, Coinone and Bithumb, were raided during this past week. According to a Coinone employee that spoke to Reuters under conditions of anonymity, the exchange is cooperating with authorities on the tax matter. He said:

“Local police also have been investigating our company since last year, they think what we do is gambling.”

In addition to exchanges, the finance ministry is also looking into the banks that are providing virtual currency account services to exchanges, and possibly other companies. According to reports, six local bank are under the eye of financial authorities for offering such services.

Cryptocurrency Market Cap retreats on false news of Korean cryptocurrency trading ban

Since the release of this news, cryptocurrency markets across the world have reacted to the news negatively. Korean exchanges were a major driver of volume prior to these events, and were largely perceived to have captured the activity of other Asian cryptocurrency traders, such as those in China. Which cryptocurrency exchange becomes the top of the pack now, remains to be seen. One thing seems certain though, the days of the top volume exchanges being based in South Korea and driving the all time highs are long gone.

bitcoin exchange

The director of a UK-based bitcoin exchange kidnapped earlier this week has been released after he paid his captors a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins.

Pavel Lerner, 40, was kidnapped on December 26 while leaving his office in Kiev, Ukraine. According to local media reports, a group of men wearing balaclavas grabbed him and forced him into a black Mercedes-Benz.

uk bitcoin exchange
Photo from Pavel Lerner’s Facebook Page

Lerner is an executive at EXMO, a UK-based cryptocurrency exchange that processes approximately $100 to $125 million in trades on a daily basis, primarily against the US dollar and the Russian ruble.

After spending nearly two days in captivity, Lerner was released on December 28 after paying a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins, according to a report in the Financial Times.

“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins,” Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukranian official, told the publication, adding: “We have operative information that he paid more than $1m worth of bitcoins.”

Geraschenko said that Lerner was in a “state of shock” when he was released and was “very lucky that he remained alive.”

On Thursday — while Lerner was in captivity — EXMO revealed that it had been the subject of a DDOS attack, but it is not known whether the two incidents are related. The exchange assured users that, even in Lerner’s absence, the trading platform was operating as usual and that user funds remained safe.

As BlockExplorer explained its previous article on Lerner’s kidnapping, the incident is the latest in a small but growing trend of individuals being targeted by criminals for their cryptocurrency wealth.

Because decentralized cryptocurrency transactions are uncensorable and, in most cases, users retain control of their holdings, cryptocurrency executives and investors prove to be attractive targets for criminal enterprises.

Consequently, users should recognizing the risks of publicizing both their personal holdings and their affiliation with the industry in general and take steps to secure their investments against theft, just as they would with traditional assets.

Featured Image from Pexels

top 25 cryptocurrency exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchanges have become an important onramp and offramp to the cryptocurrency world. From the infamous and now shuttered Mt. Gox to current industry leaders in volume such as Poloniex and Bittrex, cryptocurrency exchanges and altcoin exchanges are seeing increased use around the world. Every day, billions of dollars are traded back and forth over the top cryptocurrencies on these cryptocurrency exchanges. Traders, buyers, and sellers must trust these exchanges with their money, but are the exchanges really trustworthy? Unfortunately, not all cryptocurrency services are as secure or safe as you might think. In fact, some crypto exchanges have been known to be scams or vulnerable to hacking. This could lead to the loss of any cryptocurrency stored on there.

We take a look at the fees, history, and usability of the top cryptocurrency exchanges available in 2017. Whether you’re seeking to buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as an investment, to utilize margin trading, or anything else – Use this list of cryptocurrency exchanges to help choose an exchange for you.

1. Poloniex

poloniex cryptoName: Poloniex
Review
URL: https://www.poloniex.com
Total trading pairs: 101
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.10% – 0.25%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Email, First & Last Name, Country $2,000, USD Margin Trading Enabled
Level 2 Complete Address, Phone Number, Date of Birth 7,000 USD
Level 3 SSN, Scan of Photo ID, Selfie holding your ID $25,000 USD
Enhanced Verification Contact Support Greater than $25,000 USD

2. Bittrex

Namebittrex crypto: Bittrex
Review
URL: https://www.bittrex.com/
Total trading pairs: 271
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic 0.4 BTC
Enhanced 100 BTC

3. GDAX

gdax cryptoName: GDAX
Review
URL: https://www.gdax.com/
Total trading pairs: 9
Founded: 2016
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.25%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: yes
Review: BlockExplorer’s GDAX Review
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified Algorithmic

4. Kraken

kraken crpytoName: Kraken
Review
URL: https://www.kraken.com/
Total trading pairs: 59
Founded: 2011
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.36%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

 Individual w/o proof of source $25k USD daily
 Individual w/ proof of source $100k USD daily
 Corporate w/o proof of source $100k USD daily
 Corporate w/ proof of source $1m USD daily

5. Bitfinex

bitfinex cryptoName: Bitfinex
Review
URL: https://www.bitfinex.com
Total trading pairs: 56
Founded: 2012
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.04% – 0.20%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Individual No limit
Corporate No limit

6. Bitstamp

bitstamp cryptoName: Bitstamp
Review
URL: https://www.bitstamp.net
Total trading pairs: 11
Founded: 2011
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.05% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

7. WEX

wex cryptoName: Wex (formerly BTC-e)
Review
URL: https://wex.nz
Total trading pairs: 26
Founded: 2017
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Regular 10k USD
VIP 100k USD

8. Coinone

coinone cryptoName: Coinone
Review
URL: https://coinone.co.kr
Total trading pairs: 7
Founded: 2015
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.15%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Email, Country 1,000 KRW
Level 2 Mobile phone authentication 500,000 KRW
Level 3 OTP registration 1,000,000 KRW
Level 4 Operation team review Greater than 100,000,000 KRW

9. Quione

quoine cryptoName: Quoine
Review
URL: https://www.quoine.com
Total trading pairs: 23
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.25%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Indvidual Daily: 30-50k USD; Monthly: 300-500k USD
Corporate Daily: 100-150k USD; Monthly: 1-1.5m USD

10. bithumb

bithumb cryptoName: bithumb
Review
URL: https://www.bithumb.com
Total trading pairs: 23
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.15%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic 3 BTC
Enhanced 100 BTC

11. HitBTC

hitbtc cryptoName: HitBTC
Review
URL: https://www.hitbtc.com
Total trading pairs: 327
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: yes
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.10% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

12. Gemini

gemini cryptoName: Gemini
Review
URL: https://www.gemini.com
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and deposit/withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Individual ACH Daily Deposit/Withdrawal: $500/$10,000; ACH Monthly Deposit/Withdrawal: $15,000/$100,000; Cryptocurrency: No Limit
Institutional ACH Daily Deposit/Withdrawal: $10,000/$10,000; ACH Monthly Deposit/Withdrawal: $300,000/$100,000; Cryptocurrency: No Limit

13. Korbit

korbit cryptoName: Korbit
Review
URL: https://www.korbit.co.kr
Total trading pairs: 5
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Phone number KRW: 0; Cryptocurrency: 5,000,000 KRW
Level 2 SMS verification KRW: 0; Cryptocurrency: 5,000,000 KRW
Level 3 Address and Bank account registration KRW: 30,000,000 KRW; Cryptocurrency: 5,000,000 KRW
Level 4 Approval process 300,000,000 KRW
Level 5 Approval Process 500,000,000 KRW

14. bitFlyer

bitflyer cryptoName: bitFlyer
Review
URL: https://www.bitflyer.jp
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.11% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Email, First & Last Name, Cellphone verification 2,000 USD
Level 2 Bank account and photo ID verification 50,000 USD

15. Binance

binance cryptoName: Binance
Review
URL: https://www.binance.com
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2017
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.1%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and deposit/withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified 2 BTC
Institutional 50 BTC

16. Vaultoro

vaultoro cryptoName: Vaultoro
Review
URL: https://www.vaultoro.com
Total trading pairs: 1 (and it doesn’t involve USD)
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.20% – 0.50%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

17. LakeBTC

lakebtc cryptoName: LakeBTC
Review
URL: https://www.lakebtc.com
Total trading pairs: 8
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Normal No limit

18. BitMarket

bitmarket cryptoName: BitMarket
Review
URL: https://www.bitmarket.net
Total trading pairs: 5
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.45%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Unverified Yearly: 15,000 PLR/EUR
Verified No limit

19. CEX.io

cex cryptoName: CEX
Review
URL: https://www.cex.io
Total trading pairs: 15
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic Daily: 500 USD; Monthly: 2,000 USD
Verified Daily: 50,000 USD; Monthly: 300,000 USD
Verified Plus Unlimited
Corporate Unlimited

20. QuadrigaCX

quadrigacx cryptoName: QuaudrigaCX
Review
URL: https://www.quadrigacx.com
Total trading pairs: 10
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.20% – 0.50%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Unverified Voucher only
Verified Bank wire: 500,000 USD; Cryptocurrency: 250,000 USD

21. Coinfloor

coinfloor cryptoName: Coinfloor
Review
URL: https://www.coinfloor.co.uk
Total trading pairs: 8
Founded: 2013
Deposit fee: yes (not on BTC)
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: Yes
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

22. itBit

itbit cryptoName: itBit
URL: https://www.itbit.com
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2012
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

2FA Verified Daily: 30,000 USD; Monthly: 600,000 USD

23. Liqui

liqui cryptoName: Liqui
Review
URL: https://www.liqui.io
Total trading pairs: 235
Founded: 2016
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.10% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no (coming soon)
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic 50,000 USDT
Enhanced 500,000 USDT

24. ACX

acx cryptoName: ACX
Review
URL: https://www.acx.io
Total trading pairs: 6
Founded: 2016
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.00%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

25. Gatecoin

gatecoin cryptoName: Gatecoin
URL: https://www.gatecoin.com
Total trading pairs: 39
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.02% – 0.35%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Tier 1 50,000 USD
Tier 2 Greater than 500,000 USD