Feb 132018

The Governor of the Bank of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda, said in front of the parliament members last Tuesday that cryptocurrencies are not a threat to the Yen and won’t pose a danger to existing standard payments in the near future.

Haruhiko Kuroda

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda (pic: wikimedia commons)

“For the time being, the digital coins are generally used for speculative trading rather than making payments”, said the governor adding that the Bank of Japan keeps an eye on the cryptocurrency market to ensure they do not “erode public trust” on existing settlement systems the bank currently oversees.

“Cryptocurrencies aren’t legal tenders and don’t have assets to back up their value… Some people say they should be described as crypto-assets, not cryptocurrencies,” said Kuroda.

A survey conducted by John McAfee revealed that 58% of over 45,000 poll participants see cryptocurrencies more as an investment than a means of payment. However, this figure is expected to change once the virtualcoin market has matured and then increasingly more financial transactions will be done in Bitcoin, Ethereum and their alternatives.

So far, Japan is known to be one of the most crypto friendly nations in the world as cryptocurrencies have been regulated by the government and increasing number of shops and businesses in the country accept Bitcoin and other altcoins as a means of payment.

Feb 122018

The Historic Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany, is home to the oldest unopened bottle of wine in the world. The content of the Speyer wine bottle remained remarcably untouched for 1,693 years.

oldest wine bottle

Römerwein von Speyer – world’s oldest wine bottle (pic: CAROLE RADDATO)

The one-and-a-half-liter sealed vessel, which is also called Römerwein aus Speyer, was appareently buried in the tomb of a Roman noble dicovered near Speyer in 1867. Researchers estimate it dates back to 325 AD.

The wine was most likely made from local grapes that were planted during the Roman times. There are other plants whose identity has not been revealed, probably used for taste or preservation. The liquid inside can not really be called wine as it looks more like a mixture of a solid, dark mass and a whitish liquid, according to the photograph. However, even the survival of this residue is unprecedented.

It is a bottle that was hermetically closed with a hot wax seal and a thick layer of olive oil that prevented evaporation of the contents.

But can you drink what’s left? At a microbiological level, yes. Researchers are pretty sure the content will not kill you, though the wine will not taste good. Of course, this is a hypothetical answer, as the museum does not want to open the bottle, not even for research purposes.
Photo credit: CAROLE RADDATO/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Feb 122018

South Korean officials have confirmed that a cyber attack occurred during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games. The hack attempt hit a number of systems, but fortunately no critical element became inoperable.

Pyeongchang 2018

Winter Olympics venue in Pyeongchang (pic: Pyeongchang2018)

The organizers did not want to clearly say who carried out the attack, but there are two primary suspects: North Korea -the historic enemy-, and Russia -the country excluded from the 2018 Winter Olympics because of its intense doping program.

Internet and TV-related systems were reportedly affected by the attack, but organizers say critical infrastructure wasn’t compromised.

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are held in Pyeongchang, just 80 km from the North Korean border, and everyone has initially turned eyes on the northern neighbour famous for its long streak of IT attacks.

Another suspect possibly linked to the hack is Russia, the country that did not get the permission to take part in the Games with its standard team due to a doping program involving many athletes.

However, Russian athletes who could prove they were not part of the state-run doping plan were allowed to compete in Pyeongchang.

Feb 112018

Harunustaspor, a sports club competing in the regional amateur football league Sakarya First Division Group B in Turkey, acquired a player using cryptocurrency Bitcoin, a football’s first.

football bitcoin payment

Celebration after football’s first official bitcoin payment (pic:

According to local media outlets, 22-year-old Omer Faruk Kiroglu has accepted an offer of 0.0524 Bitcoin (about 431 euros) and 2,500 Turkish Lira (534 euros).

“We did so to be known to the world. This transfer has become the first of this kind in Turkey and even in the whole world. If such a trade was made by professionals, it would have been widely advertised on television. However, as amateurs, we were the first to do it and we are proud of that,” said club’s president, Haldun Sehit.

Omar Faruk Kiroglu was delighted with this experience. “I’m a man open to new things. For me it is a historic moment, as it is for the whole soccer world,” he added.

Feb 112018

Central banks need to be prepared to intervene and counteract the risks created by digital currencies, such as bitcoin, which have become a “combination of speculative bubble, pyramid scheme and ecological disaster,” said Agustin Carstens, general manager of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), according to The Wall Street Journal.

Agustin Carstens

Agustin Carstens (public domain photo)

“There are strong arguments for an intervention by the authorities. These assets can give rise to concerns about the protection of consumers and investors. Relevant authorities have a duty to educate and protect investors and consumers and must be prepared to act,” Agustin Carstens said at an event held at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. “Private digital symbols claiming to be coins should not undermine confidence in central banks,” added Carstens without telling which concrete measures should be taken.

Agustin Carstens, a former governor of the Central Bank of Mexico, is the latest in a series of decision-makers who have ruled against digital currencies after Bitcoin, the best known cryptocoin, has seen a spectacular rise of over 1,000% in 2017.

Feb 112018

The crypto market will grow stronger only when all alternative coins having “no substance” and now competing with Bitcoin, will fail. This is the opinion of Charles Hoskinson, the co-founder of one of the most successful virtual coins, Ethereum.

Charles Hoskinson

Charles Hoskinson (pic:

In a recent interview with CNBC, Hoskinson said that, from his point of view, a “consolidation” of the cryptocurrency would be triggered by a “crash” of the altcoin market segment.

Charles Hoskinson now runs blockchain research firm IOHK, but was previously in charge of Ethereum, which develops the underlying technology for the cryptocurrency ether (also known as ethereum).

“What’s going to occur is a lot of these ventures that don’t have strong fundamentals, don’t have good tech, or just unrealistic projects, they will eventually run into some major wall they can’t quite overcome. They will fracture up and you will see a lot of them are certain to fail,” Ethereum co-founder explained.

After hitting an unprecedented $20,000 threshold last December, Bitcoin started to decline slowly, negatively influencing other virtual currencies such as ether (Ethereum) and Litecoin, because of investors’ fears that regulators will tighten the market control.

Regulatory authorities in China, South Korea and India strengthen the oversight of bitcoin and mining transactions, while the US Stock Exchange and Securities Commission began controlling its tradings as of the end of last year.

Video: CryptoMarket to crash and then consolidate, Ethereum creator says

Feb 112018

A Russian passenger plane carrying 71 people on board crashed near Moscow shortly after taking off from Domodedovo airport, informs Russian news agencies.

Saratov Airlines crash

Saratov Airlines passenger plane crashed after takeoff from Moscow (pic: Twitter/Flightradar24)

The Antonov An-148, a 7 year old aircraft with registration number RA-61704, was owned by the Russian company Saratov Airlines and operating flight #6W703 bound to Orsk, an city in the Urals. According to RIA agency, there were 65 passengers and 6 crew members aboard.

The airplane plunged to the ground somewhere in the Ramenskoye district of Moscow, with all people on board likely losing their lives, writes Interfax citing an emergency services source.

“The crew and passengers had “no chance” of survival”, said the same source.

According to local media, numerous witnesses claimed that they saw the aircraft in flames before crashing in the locality of Argunovo, southeast of Moscow.

Rescue workers were unable to reach the crash site by road and had to approach on foot.

The debries from the plane were found scattered over a wide area around the site of impact.

Video: Wreckage of Saratov Airlines plane after Moscow crash

Feb 102018

The Senate of the US state of Arizona passed a bill a few days ago which aims at enabling people to pay their taxes using cryptocoins.

arizona cryptocurrency

Arizona to ease legislation for cryptocoins use (pic: wikimedia commons)

The bill, which was approved by a 16-13 margin, could allow taxpayers to make use of their digital coins such as ethereum, bitcoin or ripple, to pay “tax and any interest and penalties” to the state’s Department of Revenue.

The Senate’s decision has been meanwhile delivered to the state’s House of Representatives for further analysis.

Arizona State lawmakers claim that the tax measure is intended at making the state an accommodating place for users of the technology.

Practically, the crytocurrency focus sends out a signal to the entire US and throughout the world, that Arizona is very likely to become an attractive spot for blockchain and digital currency technology in the near future.

Feb 102018

European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) summarized its primary areas of interest for the coming year in a work agenda revealed on February 7.

europe cryptocurrency

EU financial security agency to monitor cryptocurrencies in 2018 (pic: wikimedia)

One of the 2018 missions is to watchdog the evolution of financial innovations, which includes among others also the trendy cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

ESMA stated:
“Monitoring developments in financial innovation, in particular through the analysis of emerging and existing instruments, platforms and technology (new): ESMA expects the rapid pace of financial innovation developments across the EU securities markets to continue in 2018. These developments
influence the way in which securities are developed, traded and supervised. In turn, ESMA is undertaking material analysis on the emergence of such instruments as virtual currencies, such platforms as ICOs and such tools as the distributed ledger technology. Additionally, ESMA will analyse how market participants are embracing regulatory technology to comply with recently implemented regulation, and how supervisors are deploying supervisory technology to undertake what has become a data driven supervisory process. The remit of this analysis will include increased uses of cloud computing to efficiently employ such technologies and the potential cyber risk vulnerabilities
as firms and supervisors implement such methods.”

It appears to be for the first time when a EU agency included cryptocurrency in its supervisory convergence priorities, thus confirming the growing interest of the EU regulators into the fast development of cryptocurrency and ledger technology inside the European Union.
Photo credit: By Sébastien Bertrand [CC BY 2.0 or CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Feb 102018

Facebook has announced its decision to ban all adverts that refer to bitcoin, cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO), thus trying to combat scams and fraud, informs Techcrunch.

facebook bans cryptocoin

Bitcoins (public domain image)

The social network claims that such cryptocoin ads promote deceptive commercial practices including as examples: “Start binary options trading now and receive a 10-risk free trades bonus“, “Click here to learn more about our no-risk cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to anyone in the world“, “New ICO! Buy tokens at a 15% discount now” or “Use your retirement funds to buy bitcoin”.

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception,” said Rob Leathern, a product management director at the social network, in a blog post. “That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”

Initial public offering of currencies (ICO) are unregulated operations, similar to the public offerings of shares on stock exchanges, whereby cryptocoin operators raise funds in exchange for their electronic assets. Recently, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the institution overseeing the US capital market, announced that it had identified a crypto transaction that fraudulently raised $600 million.

Rob Leathern did not rule out the possibility for legitimate cryptocoin businesses to appear in the near future in commercials ads on the social media platform.