This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:
CBOE to launch Bitcoin futures on December 10
Last week, DeepDotWeb reported on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) receiving approval from the U.S: Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to trade Bitcoin futures on its platform. At the time, the date in which the regulated exchange would list Bitcoin futures contracts was yet to be announced. According to Bloomberg, Bitcoin futures contracts trading will start on December 10, giving CBOE a week of exclusivity, and stealing thunder from CME, which is set to list Bitcoin futures on December 18. CBOE’s contracts will be cash-settled, and their price will be based on the daily auction price from New-York based cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. Although Bitcoin futures aren’t yet live, the exchange, according to Business Insider, is already hinting at launching Bitcoin Cash and Ether futures contracts.
The Winklevoss twins are now the first verified Bitcoin billionaires
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, also known as the Winklevoss twins, are the first verified Bitcoin billionaires. The twins, famously known for suing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after claiming he stole them his Facebook idea, invested $11 million in Bitcoin in 2013, and as such are estimated to hold 100,000 Bitcoins, according to UK-based publication City AM. At today’s rates, 100,000 Bitcoins equal $1.5 billion. Back in 2015, Tyler Winklevoss stated: “If Bitcoin is a better gold or seen as a type of gold-like asset, then it could be in the trillions on a market cap.” The Winklevoss twins have, over the years, emphasized their belief in Bitcoin as a store of value, with one of their most successful projects being Gemini, a regulated U.S.-based Bitcoin exchange that recently partnered with the Chicago Board Options Exchange to list Bitcoin futures.
There are other Bitcoin wallets with over $1 billion worth of the flagship cryptocurrency in them, but their owners aren’t verified. One of those wallets is that of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, who mined his coins back in 2009, but hasn’t touched them for nearly eight years.
Cryptocurrency mining marketplace NiceHash hacked, about 4,700 BTC stolen
Slovenia-based cryptocurrency mining marketplace NiceHash was recently hacked, and about 4,700 BTC were stolen, at press time worth about $71 billion. The attack forced the company to shut its website down for 24 hours, as its system was compromised and its wallets were emptied. In a Facebook livestream, CEO Marko Kobal and co-founder Sasa Coh made it clear NiceHash didn’t abandon its users, despite some pointing out it could all have been an inside job.
The company, which according to the founders has paid out over a billion dollars to miners since it launched, stated that a hacker or group of hackers accessed an employee’s PC with an IP outside of Europe. Through that access, the hacker(s) managed to obtain a NiceHash engineer’s credentials, which were then used to steal the funds. Per the founders, its success made it a target of the “highly sophisticated attack.” Kobal and Soh added that forensic analysis involving local and international authorities was taking place, but didn’t reveal which agencies were involved.
Gaming platform Steam no longer accepts Bitcoin payments
Steam, Valve’s gaming and digital distribution platform, recently announced it will no longer accept Bitcoin payments due to the cryptocurrency’s high fees and volatility. According to the company’s blog post, players who wish to pay with Bitcoin have to pay premiums for games due to the cryptocurrency’s fees, and its volatility often makes it so that the amount of Bitcoin they ask for games varies in short periods of time. This leads to either the issuance of refunds, or to the customer being required to send more Bitcoin to the company – these additional transactions incur more costly fees. The announcement reads:
- “Historically, the value of Bitcoin has been volatile, but the degree of volatility has become extreme in the last few months, losing as much as 25% in value over a period of days. This creates a problem for customers trying to purchase games with Bitcoin (..) At this point, it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option. We may re-evaluate whether Bitcoin makes sense for us and for the Steam community at a later date.”
Steam began accepting Bitcoin payments back in 2016, when the cryptocurrency was trading at around $450. In response to the announcement, users started pointing out other cryptocurrencies, like Dash, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash, aren’t dealing with the problems Bitcoin is currently dealing with, and suggested the company started accepting payments in these cryptocurrencies.
Venezuela announces the “Petro”, a commodity-backed cryptocurrency
According to Reuters, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro recently announced the creation of a new cryptocurrency, the “petro,” set to be backed by commodity reserves, including diamonds, gold, and oil. The Venezuelan leader claims the petro will help “overcome the financial blockade and thus move towards new forms of international financing for the economic and social development of the country.” Venezuela’s economy has been ravaged by government failures and hyperinflation, and people in the country now lack basic supplies. According to opposition leaders, the petro isn’t going to solve the country’s problems and may not even see the light of day, taking into account the country’s current situation.
Some went as far as state that Maduro refused to overhaul Venezuela’s controls, effectively worsening the economic crisis in the country. Now, economists and opposition leaders claim the president’s plan is to pay foreign creditors in the cryptocurrency. Maduro, however, sees petro a fight against what he claims to be a Washington-backed conspiracy to sabotage his government, and put an end to socialism in the region.
Reports suggest Indonesian Central Bank will ban Bitcoin in 2018
Bank Indonesia (BI) is reportedly planning regulations that will completely ban cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in the country, according to local publication Pikiran Rakyat. Agus Martowardojo, the central bank’s governor, said people will no longer be allowed to trade or transact in cryptocurrencies, in a move that’s said to be required to maintain the sovereignty of the country’s fiat currency, the rupiah. According to the official, cryptocurrencies are potentially used for money laundering and terrorism financing. He added:
- “We [will] also prevent arbitrage opportunities, unhealthy business practices and business controls by parties outside the legal reach of Indonesia’s laws that could damage the structure of industries here.”
Per CryptoCoinsNews, Martowardojo’s remarks come days after Indonesia’s financial regulator urged retail investors to stay away from cryptocurrencies. The new rules, set to come out in 2018, will also affect FinTech companies and startups.
Bitcoin hit a new all-time high above $18,200
According to data from CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin recently hit a new all-time high above $18,200. At press time, the cryptocurrency is currently trading at $15,305.10 as a minor correction set in, and has a market cap of $256.05 billion. The cryptocurrency ecosystem’s market cap is currently at $424 billion, meaning Bitcoin’s dominance is currently at 60.4%. Bitcoin’s price is expected to be affected by the influx of institutional investors when Bitcoin futures contracts are live on CBOE, CME, and on Nasdaq.