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Bitcoin news roundup May 14, 2017

This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:

New developments:

There are over 150,000 unconfirmed bitcoin transactions

Unconfirmed bitcoin transactions reached an all-time high this week, as according to Blokchain.info the number got as high as 160,000 – at the time of press, there are currently 156,900. It isn’t yet clear what caused a spike in the number of unconfirmed transactions, but some point out that the recent price surge may have been responsible, as bitcoin holders could have been trying to cash in on it. Bitcoin’s endless scaling debate aims to provide users with a solution but, unfortunately, there is still no answer to how bitcoin should be scaled.

Litecoin has successfully activated SegWit

Litecoin, the silver to bitcoin’s gold, has now successfully activated segregated Witness (SegWit). The change activated at block 1201536 this week, and this means that litecoin users can now verify whether or not the update, subject to bitcoin’s seemingly endless scaling debate, will indeed help the network or not – the move will even reveal whether SegWit is valid for bitcoin. Litecoin is currently the fourth biggest cryptocurrency with a $1.3 billion market cap. One token is currently worth $27.20, according to CoinMarketCap.

Some litecoin enthusiasts are even excited about the implementation of new technologies, such as the Lightning Network, although these are still at an early stage. There are still some who worry about the activation, as earlier analysis seems to show not all miners and exchanges were ready.

Two major bitcoin exchanges have been targeted with a DDoS attack

Kraken and Poloniex, two major cryptocurrency exchanges, have been downed by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack this week. Before Kraken went down, according to reports, there was a large ETH sell order whose timing, according to the exchange, was pure coincidence as there is no evidence of market manipulation. While it was down, Kraken did not suspend trading, which led to a lot of criticism on the exchange that afterward publicly stated suspending trading would be worse.

A few minutes after Kraken announced being under a DDoS attack, Poloniex tweeted out that its platform would be back in a few minutes and that user’s funds were safe. A few users told news outlets they lost thousands of dollars within a few minutes due to the outage and some even demanded their money back. The attack led some to believe someone is manipulating the market.

World affairs:

Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges may restore withdrawals next month

Back in January, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) started inspecting bitcoin exchanges in the country. These inspections are now near completion and, reportedly, regulatory guideless for these exchanges are being drafted. These are expected to be released in June and, if so, withdrawals should soon follow, as these could not be resumed until the AML rules had been clarified. The exchanges, according to Chinese publication 8Btc, “Will be facing a penalty of an unknown amount”, as part of a “Notice of Administrative Punishment” that, according to Cnledger on Twitter, is a notice issued to those who didn’t break the law but did violate certain rules or regulations.

Australia to end bitcoin double taxation in July

According to Australia’s 2017-2018 budget report, the country is committed to becoming a global leader when it comes to financial technology. As part of the country’s measures to achieve that goal, its goods and services tax (GST) will be amended so as to end bitcoin double taxation. The government had, in the past, promised to amend the GST, as Australian consumers who transacted in bitcoin had to pay the tax twice; once on the product, and once on the digital currency being used. The country’s budget report reads:

  • The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia. From 1 July 2017, purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST, allowing digital currencies to be treated just like money for GST purposes,

Ulmart, Russia’s largest online retailer, to start accepting bitcoin

In a press release issued this week, Russian e-commerce giant Ulmart revealed plans to start accepting bitcoin payments in September. The company, which mostly deals with electronic goods, intends to accept the currency, at least at first, on higher-priced items. Ulmart’s chairman, Dmitry Kostygin, revealed that the company had taken an interested in the currency even when a legislative approach was being decided in Russia. This year, the country revealed that set regulations would occur in 2018, according to the CoinTelegraph.

Financial:

Bitcoin at $1,753.13 after dropping from a new all-time high

Bitcoin reached a new all-time high this week, above the $1,800 mark, even though in some exchanges, including Bitfinex, the cryptocurrency hit $1,900. Bitcoin’s value has been consistently increasing and, and such, a few believe we are now looking at a bubble that will eventually burst. The value of one bitcoin has dropped by $100 earlier today, which could merely mean there was a price consolidation after intense growth, according to some.

The scaling debate could be heating up again, as not only did Litecoin recently upgrade its code, data shows the average bitcoin transaction fees are above $1.

Ripple is currently the No. 2 cryptocurrency by market cap

Ripple, fueled by partnerships with Asian and Australian banks, along with its plan to act as a large interbank transfer facilitator, and a plan to “become more decentralized than bitcoin” has recently surpassed Ethereum as the number 2 cryptocurrency by market cap. At the time of press, Ripple has an $8.407 billion market cap, while Ethereum has an $8.282 billion market cap. One ether is currently worth $90.45, while Ripple’s tokens are at $0.219471 each, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

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