Bear Cross on Key Indicator Could Push Bitcoin Price to $7,300

Bitcoin remains pinned below $8K as the 128 and 111-day moving average are on the verge of a bearish cross which could drop the price below $7,700.

At the moment, not too much is happening with Bitcoin’s (BTC) price action. The price continues to drop and a series of lower highs occur even as bullish news hits the press week after week. The news of Bakkt Bitcoin futures trading volume increasing by 796% failed to positively impact Bitcoin price and Fidelity Investments’ announcement that it has launched crypto custodial services also did little for the market. 

Daily crypto market data

Daily crypto market data. Source: Coin360

The general sentiment amongst Bitcoin traders seems relatively unenthusiastic and many traders view Bitcoin’s current price action as an opportunity for accumulation at $7,800 and below. 

This conclusion is supported by the Crypto Fear and Greed Index (CFGI) which currently shows investor’s fear level as being flat throughout the month of October. If the $7,800 support fails to hold and Bitcoin drops to $7,300 and below, then one would expect the fear index to rise. 

Crypto Fear & Greed Index

Crypto Fear & Greed Index Source: Alternative.me

As Bitcoin’s price gradually sinks lower, traders appear to have turned their appetites elsewhere. Earlier this week crypto market analyst Crypto Michael tweeted that altcoins have quietly posted amazing gains since bottoming in September. 

Below are the top altcoin performers compared against Bitcoin: 

ETH +36%

XRP +50%

XLM +43%

ZRX +170%

LINK +98%

With that said, Bitcoin is again approaching an important point and it seems likely that volatility could increase over the next 24 to 48-hours. Let’s take a closer look at the charts to see where Bitcoin stands. 

Bitcoin is bearish on nearly all time frames

BTC USD daily chart

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

As shown by the daily chart, Bitcoin price is approaching the double bottom at $7,775 and $7,714. As mentioned previously, a drop below these levels could see the price slink down to $7,300. 

The pattern of lower highs could eventually give way to lower lows as was demonstrated in September when Bitcoin’s price was in the low $9,000s. Multiple retests of supports tend to give way to downside breaks and this could be weighing on investors’ appetite for making purchases around the $7,800 area. 

One will also notice that the 200-day moving average has flattened and Bitcoin price continues to peel away from the indicator which many traders describe as being crucial. 

BTC USD weekly chart

BTC USD weekly chart. Source: TradingView

On the weekly time frame the 111-day moving average lines up with the 50% Fibonacci Retracement level at $6,600 and the volume profile visible range (VPVR) also shows an increase in purchasing volume at this price.

Bitcoin needs to overcome $8,450 followed by last week’s high at $8,835 to turn the ship around. A drop below $7,300 could drop Bitcoin as low as $6,720 which aligns with the 111-day moving average and a high volume node on the VPVR. 

The weekly Stoch RSI still shows a bull cross which is a slightly encouraging sign.

Longer-term moving average provide insight

Earlier this week market analyst Philip Swift suggested that it was time to pay closer attention to the longer-term moving averages and he pointed out that: 

“When these two moving averages cross it causes a significant directional market move…as seen here the last two times they crossed…and they are about to cross again!”

BTC USD daily chart

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

Currently, on the daily time frame, the 111-day moving average and the 128-day moving average are on the verge of crossing. Also, shown by the chart below, Swift points out that moving average crosses between the 128-day moving average and the 111-day moving average led to significant trend reversals during the 2018 bear market. 

BTC USD daily chart

BTC USD daily chart. Source: Philip Swift

BTC USD daily chart

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

As the week progressed, buy and sell volume has slowly tapered off and the Bollinger Bands have tightened as price constricts to a narrowing range. These are all indicators that the price is on the verge of making a move. 

Throughout 2019 high volume spikes tended to occur on weekends near the weekly close so here we find ourselves in yet another familiar trading predicament. Some traders have pointed to the bullish divergence currently seen on the daily moving average convergence divergence (MACD) as a sign of positive price action for Bitcoin but the MACD is also on the verge of dropping below the signal line. 

Traders who swear by the MACD should keep an eye on this impending convergence, along with the MACD histogram to see if it drops below zero and flashes pink.   

Over the past two weeks Bitcoin has frequently revisited the zone around the double bottom and while this shows that there is buying interest at this price, failure to rise above $8,000 to $8,500 also shows that sellers wait overhead. The near-equal buy and sell volume on the VPVR also supports this interpretation. 

Looking forward

Lately, not much has changed with Bitcoin’s market structure and the price seems to be ranging. Lower lows have yet to be set but if the price below the support areas (dotted lines) on the daily chart the situation could rapidly change. 

As mentioned earlier, Bitcoin bulls need to push the price to $8,450 and then knock out last week’s high at $8,835 to flip the short-term trend bullish. Until then, it seems likely that traders will be taking up positions in the larger cap altcoins. 

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of (@horushughes) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Former IBM, Google Russia Exec Joins Blockchain Firm Credits as CBO

Former IBM and Google Russia executive Jennifer Trelewicz joins blockchain platform Credits as its new chief business officer.

Former Google Russia chief technology officer Jennifer Trelewicz has joined blockchain platform Credits (CS) as its new chief business officer (CBO).

According to an official announcement published on Oct. 11, Trelewicz’s first experience working with blockchain was during her time as the CEO of Russian technology startup S7 TechLab. 

In the past, she also worked as the director of IBM’s systems and technology laboratory and the director of risks and market data at Deutsche Bank.

Focused on new partnerships

Potential collaboration with major companies such as IBM is now among the key growth opportunities for Credits, Trelewicz added. In fact, she explicitly stated that her main objective in the company will be to develop new partnerships:

“I will be nurturing and developing our relationships with partners, clients, and advisors worldwide. As well, I put a high priority on building our channel partnerships, including with integrators. […] IBM is an excellent partner for complex solutions projects, and they have a worldwide channel for enterprise clients.”

Previously, Credits announced that it had joined the New Vision Technology project of Chinese technology giant Lenovo in September 2018.

As Cointelegraph reported on Oct. 2, blockchain and cryptocurrency investment firm Multicoin Capital hired a former Google product manager as one of its new investment principals.

Crypto News From the German-Speaking World: Oct. 13–19 in Review

Cointelegraph presents a weekly digest of news from the German-speaking world, with help from Cointelegraph auf Deutsch.

The German-speaking world has seen another week of events in the crypto industry, with a new survey revealing that 27% of Germans are interested in using Facebook’s planned Libra stablecoin, which has been discussed all over the world since its announcement in June 2019. Despite existing criticism of Libra, global regulators do not plan to ban either Facebook’s crypto initiative or other stablecoin projects, the European Central Bank (ECB) director claimed earlier this week.

Here is the past week of crypto and blockchain news in review, as originally reported by Cointelegraph auf Deutsch.

Lykke launches utility token to bet against crypto markets

As reported by Cointelegraph auf Deutsch on Oct. 14, Swiss blockchain startup Lykke recently launched a new token designed to track the performance of the top 25 cryptocurrencies by market cap as well as to put bets on falling prices in the crypto market. Dubbed Short LyCI, the new Lykke’s utility token reportedly includes 73% of Bitcoin (BTC), 9.6% of Ether (ETH) and 5.9% of XRP.

Lykke founder Richard Olsen, who is also a co-founder of private financial services firm Oanda, noted that Short LyCI is a simple investment product to manage risks and hedge exposure during downturns on crypto markets.

Ormera, new platform for electricity billing

On Oct. 14, Swiss companies PostFinance and Energie Wasser Bern (EWB) announced the launch of Ormera, a new startup providing a tool for measuring and automatic billing of self-generated electricity. Based on blockchain technology, Ormera’s platform intends to cut administrative costs by supporting effective use of energy generated in decentralized production, EWB said in the announcement. 

Combining internet-of-things and blockchain components, Ormera targets energy supply companies, energy and real estate service providers and property management firms, the report notes.

Bauwens invests in Germany’s first provider of real estate tokens

German real estate giant Bauwens invested in the Foundation Group, which is known as the first-ever provider of real estate-based security token offerings regulated by major German financial authority, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). As reported by Cointelegraph auf Deutsch, Bauwens intends to expand its expertise in the new business field of digitizing real estate investments by investing in the Foundation Group.

Bundesbank board member: stablecoins underpin the importance of central banks

As reported on Oct. 16, a board member of the German Bundesbank recently declared that the emergence of stablecoins — cryptocurrencies pegged to fiat currencies to provide a stable value — underpins the importance of central banks. In a speech on Oct. 8 in South Africa, Burkhard Balz claimed that stablecoins benefit from a kind of indirect stability, which could be interpreted as a complement to the successful and stability-oriented monetary policy by central banks.

Libra news

On Oct. 18, Cointelegraph reported on a new survey showing that 27% of German people are planning to use Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency Libra. Powered by French online survey firm Toluna, the survey shows 73% of German residents have completely rejected Libra, with 42% saying that they do not trust Facebook, while 31% of respondents noted that they only believe in centralized currencies.

Also on Thursday, BaFin’s president Felix Hufeld expressed concerns over Libra, claiming that Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency sees a number of unresolved questions and represents a parallel currency created privately.

Despite existing concerns, global financial regulators are not planning to ban either Facebook’s Libra or other stablecoins, ECB director Benoit Coeure said in an interview on Oct. 17. However, Coeure stressed that such initiatives will have to meet high regulatory standards prescribed by the ECB.

Telegram Writes Investors to Counter FUD Before Feb. SEC Hearings

Telegram writes investors regarding delayed judgment, anticipating resolution that Grams are not securities February hearings.

In a letter to investors, Telegram encouraged investors to view the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hearing recently rescheduled for February as “a positive step.”

Cause for optimism

The letter, sent on Oct. 19, briefly reassures investors that the recent rescheduling of hearings until Feb. 18-19 is good news while maintaining that the company will not be distributing Gram tokens until that time. In their own words: 

“Telegram views this development as a positive step towards resolving this matter through the court system in an expeditious manner, and we and our advisers will be using the time to ensure that Telegram’s position is presented and supported as strongly as possible at the February hearing.”

A conclusive decision?

Telegram’s argument has largely been that its Gram tokens do not qualify as securities and thus do not fall under the purview of the SEC. In the letter, the Telegram team anticipated the February hearings resolving this matter more satisfactorily than the originally scheduled Oct. 24th hearing, writing:

“The February hearing is different from the one previously scheduled for October 24, because in the February hearing Telegram anticipates asking the court to rule on the core argument that Grams are not securities. The October 24 hearing, in contrast, was only to consider whether a delay should have been mandated, without conclusively resolving the core argument.”

The SEC and Telegram

This letter is just the latest in an extensive back-and-forth between the SEC and Telegram surrounding the launch of the latter’s Telegram Open Network and its associated Gram tokens, the distribution of which was the subject of an SEC emergency action on Oct. 11. 

By deeming Gram tokens securities, the SEC labeled their sale in the U.S. — which netted roughly $1.7 billion — an unregistered security offering and thus illegal. Telegram responded with a filing on Oct. 16, refuting the “emergency” nature of the SEC’s complaint and countering by criticizing the commission’s lack of action in the preceding 18 months during which they were aware of the coming launch of TON.

HTC Launches Exodus 1S, First Phone That Can Run a Full BTC Node

The HTC’s new Exodus 1s smartphone launches in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and can run a full mobile BTC node.

Taiwanese electronics giant HTC has launched its new smartphone Exodus 1s, enabling users to run a full Bitcoin (BTC) node on mobile.

First smartphone to support full Bitcoin node

In line with an announcement in May 2019, HTC launched the Exodus 1s at the Lightning Conference in Berlin on Oct. 19 and started selling the first devices during the even using the Lightning payment network, the firm said in a press release to Cointelegraph.

The new Exodus 1s is a lower-cost version of the pioneering HTC’s blockchain-powered phone Exodus 1, which recently added support of Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Priced at €219 ($233), the new device is available to buy using Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Binance Coin (BNB) and Bitcoin Cash, the firm said.

Apart from featuring buy, sell, send, receive, trade and lend and borrow options, HTC claims that the Exodus 1s is the first-ever smartphone capable of running a full Bitcoin node.

Initial availability

The product will be initially available for users in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while other regions such as Taiwan, Switzerland and Germany will see launches at a later date, the firm noted.

Phil Chen, Decentralized Chief Officer at HTC, stated that full nodes are the “most important ingredient in the resilience of the Bitcoin network,” noting that by launching the Exodus 1s the firm has lowered the entry barrier for any person to run a node and participate in the global network.

Exodus 1s’s predecessor Exodus 1 and “the first native blockchain phone” was announced for presale on Oct. 23. 2018 and was available in 34 regions, including the U.S., U.K. and Hong Kong.

In mid-September, decentralized offline crypto sales firm Pundi X introduced its Blok on Blok blockchain smartphone at the IFA trade show in Berlin. On Oct. 8, South Korean electronics giant LG was reported to be developing its own blockchain phone in response to Samsung’s Klaytn blockchain smartphone.

Bittrex International Halts Service in Venezuela and 30 More Countries

Bittrex International’s trading platform to shut down in Venezuela and 30 other countries on Oct. 29, Cointelegraph en Español reports.

Bittrex International, Malta-based international unit of United States’ crypto exchange Bittrex, will cease operations in Venezuela and 30 other countries.

No clear reason for the action

In an email to Venezuelan customers, Bittrex International announced that the exchange will halt account and trading access to users on Oct. 29, asking them to withdraw their funds with the exchange before that date, Cointelegraph en Español reports on Oct. 19.

According to the report, the Malta-based international trading platform of Bittrex has informed its entire user base in Venezuela that it will stop its services for users in the country without citing a clear reason for the action.

31 countries totally banned from the service

However, Venezuela is not the only country that will have to stop using Bittrex’s services this time, according to information acquired by Cointelegraph en Español. The firm confirmed to the Cointelegraph en Español team that it is actually halting the service for a total of 31 countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Yemen.

Venezuela and crypto

As previously reported, Venezuela has become more reliant on decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) in order to avoid sanctions by the U.S. Venezuela’s national oil-pegged cryptocurrency, Petro (PTR), was also purportedly designed to allow the country to gain access to new forms of international financing as well as to skirt sanctions.

In early September, Bitcoin trading volumes in Venezuela hit another record as volume on peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins surged 48%. On Oct. 1, two Venezuelan companies have partnered to release a cryptocurrency debit card and point-of-sale system supporting Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Dash (DASH) and Petro.

Yesterday, another popular U.S.-based crypto exchange Poloniex announced it is spinning out from its parent company Circle to establish a new exchange that will not support trading for customers based in the U.S.

How Can EEA’s Reward Token System Help Banks Motivate Their Employees?

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance’s reputation system: Why do banks want to reward employees with tokens?

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) created a token system to encourage the active contribution of member organizations and their employees to the consortium, as reported by Cointelegraph on Oct. 8. The tokens are powered by the EEA’s Off-chain Trusted Compute Specification and is said to be trustworthy enough for use both within and between different companies.

The system was first demonstrated at the Devcon5 conference at the start of October in Osaka as part of an experiment conducted inside the EEA. Specifically, member organizations are testing the viability of a project to check whether it can be used by any company outside the consortium for incentivizing its staff and optimizing its business processes.

Particular interest in the initiative was shown by financial companies — Banco Santander and Chainlink — that presented their use cases in one of the Devcon5 workshops. Given this, how can a reward token-based system be interesting from a financial point of view and why are banks willing to invest in the development and implementation of such solutions?

What do we know about the token?

To motivate employees and member companies, EEA proposed using three types of tokens at once — reward, reputation and penalty — which are said to be awarded from a grant fund each time an employee performs or does not perform a particular action. Simply put, while those who regularly contribute to the code are rewarded, the specialists who fail to complete work on time get a penalty token. The same principle is applied to the companies that are credited reward points for both group work and contributions made by its individual employees.

Paul DiMarzio, EEA’s director of community, explained to Cointelegraph that the proposed reward system differs from traditional loyalty programs and has no alternatives as of yet. He said:

“Reward tokens in the context of collaborative organizations differ from the typical and well-known reward systems used by airlines, retailers, etc. These systems incentivize loyalty. The use of tokens to incentivize collaboration is relatively new and very valuable in all sorts of member-driven organizations.”

The token itself represents a digital unit with a specific value. As stated in the EEA’s technical documentation, accumulated tokens are displayed as a balance in the employee’s profile and can be subsequently exchanged for items from the EEA swag store or a bounty defined in the grant. 

In an entertaining and interactive manner, Marley Gray, the principal architect for Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Engineering, demonstrated several possible ways how tokens can be redeemed. For example, 10 EEA tokens can be exchanged for an EEA t-shirt, while 100 tokens can be used to have dinner with Ron Resnick, EEA executive director. Gray added:

“We are creating the first simple use case that is actually usable so enterprises can actually start using tokens in their day-to-day operations because this model is easily transferable into one enterprise or between multiple enterprises.” 

According to the EEA developers, the system will analyze not only the productivity indicators of individual employees but also tokenize the outcomes of the member organizations’ activity. As a result, each employee of the company will be motivated to regularly and efficiently work within the consortium. A contracted commitment to contribute to an organization’s activity will reflect the relative impact and the potential reward in the grant. At the same time, reward tokens can be transferred to other project participants, while penalty and reputation ones will stay nontransferable. 

To sum up, a reward token-based system will work according to the principle that the more active the employee is, the more tokens they receive. But what if they are not active at all? In this case, the developers offer a so-called penalty system, with tokens being taken away from a member organization each time it commits to performing a particular task and doesn’t deliver. Notably, penalty tokens should be subtracted before an employee can redeem a reward token. 

Why do banks need tokens?

World banks and financial institutions such as Banco Santander, JPMorgan Chase, ING, the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon), Qiwi, Chainlink and many others actively participate in the EEA consortium.

Their active participation in the EEA’s initiatives demonstrates a high level of interest in blockchain solutions that can enhance business processes. DiMarzio emphasized that with the new reward token system, companies would get an understanding of how to do this. He said:

“KPMG recent study says that organizations of all sizes, and across sectors, need to embrace blockchain-based tokenization — or risk being left out: noting that 82% of consumers willing to use reward tokens on the blockchain. Yet, enterprises and developers don’t know how to do it.”

At Devcon5, EEA member Banco Santander shared its latest case study of the blockchain system. The bank’s developer, Przemek Siemion, emphasized the importance of tokenized enterprise solutions and briefly demonstrated how blockchain could be used to protect bank clients’ data. As such, according to him, the company, together with other EEA members, is exploring the possibilities of the open ecosystem space around incentive models to see whether they can be leveraged in the enterprise. 

Related: What Are Crypto Banks and How Do They Work?

John Whelan, chairman of the board of the EEA and head of Digital Investment Banking at Banco Santander, told Cointelegraph that tokenization will drive financial innovation:

“The concept of digital tokens has been given to us by the blockchain world and it appears that in the coming years many different asset classes will be tokenized. As such, the Token Taxonomy Initiative will be key to ensuring that this next wave of financial innovation will start with cross-platform standards in mind.”

Banks have a great interest in the study and development of blockchain-based enterprise solutions. There is also an economic justification for that. According to a report by consulting firm Accenture, the eight largest investment banks can save up to $12 billion a year by 2025 if blockchain-based products become widespread.

One of the EEA’s member organizations, JPMorgan, annually invests $11 billion on IT, with the major part of this budget being spent on routine operations automation. In June 2016, the company launched the Contract Intelligence (COIN) program that cuts the time spent on verifying documents from 360,000 hours a year to several seconds. Larry Feinsmith, managing director and head of global tech strategy at JPMorgan, said:

“While other tech companies have a narrower scope of things they do very well, what differentiates JPMorgan Chase is our ability to invest $11 billion dollars in a broad number of technologies simultaneously. Our size and scale are simply unparalleled.”

Increasing employees’ productivity

The EEA is not the first organization to offer a token to motivate staff members. In June 2018, the payment system Qiwi Blockchain Technologies (QBT) announced the launch of a reward program called QBT token.

It has been reported that one of them is designed to reward employees for the implementation of the project deliverables and can be exchanged for corporate bonuses. The other one — a voting token — grants authorized employees the right to decide how many tokens to charge for the contribution to the development of the company, and to whom. According to Qiwi representatives, about 50% of the net profit, to which tokens should be tied, was allocated for the implementation of the QBT program. The employees were supposed to receive the first coins in 2018.

Another financial giant, PayPal, launched, an internal blockchain platform for incentivizing its employees in mid-November, where they can exchange corporate tokens for various services and goods. Once obtaining a certain number of tokens, an employee can, for example, play poker with the vice president of the company or have a cup of coffee with the CEO. Although PayPal tokens have no value outside the company’s office, they can be traded among employees.

Staff development

In one of the leading Spanish banks, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), tokens are awarded to employees for developing their skills and training other specialists. According to the company, 4,000 employees have already taken part in testing the project and 20,833 new tokens have been created so far.

Explaining how the solution works, Ricardo Forcano, BBVA’s global head of talent and culture, said it “assigns value to training through tokens that certify each hour of training taken or given to other colleagues, and opens the doors to all employees — independent of their role — so that they can take courses that until now have only been available by invitation.”

The accumulated tokens can be further redeemed for participation in professional training courses and workshops. The most successful of the employees can gain access to private events and even meetings with top bank managers.

A tool to study blockchain

The daily use of corporate tokens helps the Bank of New York Mellon’s IT employees better understand the structure and operation of blockchain technology. Suresh Kumar, BNY Mellon’s chief information officer, emphasized that while the bank is not interested in cryptocurrency, it sees the potential in exploring the possibilities of the blockchain. He noted:

“It’s a way for own employees to understand what it is so they can think about the implications for their own work and for our clients.”

It’s one of the first initiatives developed by banks to help employees learn about the technology in an easy and interesting way. “It’s not like going to a classroom training or a seminar, but something that people can try themselves and play with it,” Kumar added. Along with educational purposes, staff members can also redeem BK Coins – the bank’s digital currency – for gift cards and vouchers.

Testing a solution before offering it to customers 

The Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is actively experimenting with digital technologies to explore the possibility of using blockchain for financial purposes such as everyday financial transactions and payments. Most recently, the bank released a stablecoin for facilitating work with retail customers. However, before offering the coin, MUFG is testing it among its employees, who shop in a small store in the headquarters of MUFG. 

In addition to stablecoin, whose scope of application can be expanded in the future, MUFG is testing a token for corporate use. The essence of the new digital asset is to serve as a unit in the system of rewards and bonuses for employees who work less overtime and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Global companies’ experience shows…

Examples of large banks around the world show that reward token systems are not only tested but also successfully applied by financial corporations. At the same time, the large-scale initiative of the EEA consortium may become an additional catalyst and a ready-made tokenized enterprise solution, which will allow companies to find wider applications to improve their economic performance. EEA’s executive director, Resnick, told Cointelegraph on the matter:

“Standardizing tokens to work anywhere could hold the key to one of the greatest economic opportunities in modern history. Just like standards that led to the rise of e-commerce on the internet, applying standards to tokenization will enable the enterprise to use tokens to serve as, or provide access to, a set of goods, financial assets, securities, services, value or content through enterprise blockchain applications.”

Bitcoin Recovers Above $8K After 18th Million Bitcoin Was Mined

Crypto markets edge up after another downward movement, with 17 out of the top 20 coins by market cap in green.

Saturday, Oct. 19 — crypto markets are seeing a slight recovery after another downward movement as Bitcoin (BTC) is back to trading above $8,000.

Market visualization. Source: Coin360

Market visualization. Source: Coin360

18 million BTC mined, BTC blockchain hits 600,000 blocks 

After trading below $8,000 threshold for most of the day, Bitcoin has seen a sharp recovery to climb above the mark at publishing time. The biggest cryptocurrency is trading at $8,041, up 1.2% over the past 24 hours, according to Coin360. However, Bitcoin is still in red over the past week as its price is down 3.4% over the past seven days. Bitcoin’s market dominance stands at 66.2% at press time.

On Oct. 18, the total number of mined bitcoins crossed 18 million, leaving 3 million to mine in total, as tweeted by founder of crypto investment firm Morgan Creek Digital Assets, Anthony Pompliano. Following the new milestone, Bitcoin now has 85.7% of total coins mined, while the number of Bitcoin left to mine until the next halving now amounts to 373,888, according to BitcoinBlockHalf.com.

Bitcoin’s blockchain has also seen another important milestone today as the number of blocks passed 600,000, Bitcoin Core developer Pieter Wuille tweeted on Oct. 19.

Earlier today, gold bug Peter Schiff posted another bearish tweet, claiming that Bitcoin chart “looks horrible” and forecasting that the biggest cryptocurrency may soon not only drop to as low as $6,000, but also may collapse to below $2,000.

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: Coin360

Ether (ETH), the second cryptocurrency by market cap, is up nearly 1% over the day. At the time of writing, the top altcoin is trading at $174, down more than 5% over the past seven days.

Ether seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Ether seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

XRP, the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is up 1.3% to trade at $0.294. The altcoin is seeing significant growth over the past week, up nearly 8% over a seven-day period. 

Yesterday, XRP’s developer Ripple announced that it sold $66.24 million worth of XRP in Q3 2019, which is down almost 74% compared to the record sale worth $251.51 million in Q2 2019.

XRP seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

XRP seven-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Winners and losers

At press time, only three coins among the top 20 cryptos by market cap are seeing red, while privacy-focused coin Monero (XMR) is seeing the biggest loss of 5.6%.

On the other hand, Tron (TRON) is seeing the biggest gains in the top 20 list over the past 24 hours, up 4.6%.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Alipay Denounces Bitcoin OTC Trading: Regulatory ‘Gray Area’ in China

Alipay denies providing support for Bitcoin trading amid reports of Binance accepting fiat deposits via popular payment channels.

Earlier in October 2019, Binance announced a fiat on-ramp for crypto trading via Chinese payment services Alipay and WeChat. This move was part of the exchange giant’s peer-to-peer (P2P) trading rollout for Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and Tether (USDT) against the Chinese yuan.

The public nature of this announcement did bring questions to the fore regarding the use of payment channels like Alipay and WeChat for crypto trading. Alipay did, in fact, release statements distancing itself from cryptocurrency trading activities, with Binance later clarifying that it wasn’t working directly with the aforementioned payment services.

Meanwhile the evolving narrative around the situation speaks to the legal status of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in China. Even with a trading ban in place, there are whispers of a booming P2P trading arena, with authorities in Beijing seeming to adopt a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” approach.

However, whenever these reports do make it into the public domain, Chinese authorities and businesses are swift to put a lid on them. Perhaps the arrival of the country’s proposed digital currency might necessitate the emergence of more clear-cut handling of crypto commerce in China.

Alipay wants nothing to do with Bitcoin

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Alibaba-owned payment channel Alipay has moved to ban transactions involving Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In an email to Cointelegraph, a spokesperson for the platform wrote:

“Alipay closely monitors over-the-counter (OTC) transactions to identify irregular behavior and ensure compliance with relevant regulations. If any transactions are identified as being related to bitcoin or other virtual currencies, we immediately stop the relevant payment services.”

This statement came in response to reports that Chinese crypto traders were using the platform as a P2P trading marketplace. Crypto exchange giant Binance even announced that it had enabled support for fiat deposits via Alipay and WeChat.

Cointelegraph spoke with Filipe Castro, co-founder and chief information officer of Utrust — a Swiss-based digital payments processor — about the Alipay announcement. “AliPay, as many other established companies are still focused on their traditional business models and see this ecosystem as a challenger,” Castro said.

For the Utrust chief, Alipay’s status as a major player in China’s electronic payment arena means it has to work toward balancing the need for increasing revenue streams and compliance with directives from authorities in Beijing. Castro also highlighted the less than favorable standing held by the crypto industry in China, noting:

“Mainland China has strict laws banning gambling, and many still see cryptocurrency as such. Alipay and other providers still look at other cryptocurrency providers as investment outlets and not payment vehicles. Thus, until this perception changes, it is likely that current measures will stay in force.”

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Celine Lu, founder and CEO of BitDeer — a hashpower sharing platform — provided further insight. According to Lu, the Chinese government pays particular attention to the activities of popular third-party payment processors like Alipay:

“In these regulations, the state clarifies the nature of Bitcoin as a virtual commodity. At the same time, for the purpose of prevention of risks to the financial system, the relevant regulations limit the participation of financial institutions and payment institutions in Bitcoin-related activities.”

Alipay isn’t alone in coming out to distance itself from Bitcoin OTC trading. Back in May 2019, WeChat changed its payment policy, forbidding the use of its platform for P2P transactions.

Is it all about the narrative?

However, despite Alipay coming out to deny the use of its platform for Bitcoin OTC trading, several commentators say the practice is common in China. The summary of the arguments posited by many is that such activities while illegal on paper, fall into a regulatory gray area.

To clarify, Bitcoin OTC trading is not in itself illegal in China. Back in May 2019, the government revealed that the 2017 trading and initial coin offering (ICO) ban did not affect Bitcoin’s legal status as a property that can be held or exchanged via P2P channels.

Indeed, following the 2017 trading and ICO ban, reports began to emerge of growing P2P Bitcoin trading in China. Platforms like WeChat became marketplaces for the convergence of prospective buyers and sellers.

There are even reports that major crypto exchanges use these backchannel avenues to conduct P2P Bitcoin trading in China. These exchanges reportedly mask such activities by using the guise of running a P2P trading desk for the BTC/USDT trading pair. OTC P2P trading reportedly accounts for the overwhelming majority of Chinese BTC/CNY trading. Users place manual buy and sell orders, with the exchanges acting as the go-between.

Given the informal nature of the arrangement, counterparty risk becomes a major problem. The buyer reportedly has to send fiat payments first before receiving the agreed-upon Bitcoin. Thus, these marketplaces tend to put in a lot of effort in ensuring that participants hold to their respective ends of the bargain.

The fiat payment part of the deal requires channels like WeChat, Alipay or wire transfers. However, financial institutions in mainland China are barred from facilitating crypto transactions. Thus, users of such channels usually run the risk of having their accounts terminated.

However, some commentators allege that such practices are possible not because of regulatory loopholes but due to an unwritten “implied consent” of some Chinese government officials. These people claim that crypto exchanges have forged useful relationships with key actors in Beijing that help to smoothen any legal wrinkles.

While the Alipay/Binance situation was unfolding, a Twitter account named Blocfilo posted some startling revelations about the Chinese crypto trading scene. Allegedly, despite the trading ban, many cryptocurrency exchanges still operate and have their headquarters in mainland China. The self-professed crypto exchange analyst also tweeted that government officials are prepared to look the other way as long as they receive bribes from the platforms. Excerpts from the thread read:

“You just gotta pay the government officials some money and you can operate just fine under the radar. A lot of crypto exchanges have already become banks to certain extent. Only the legitimate ones will survive in the long run though.”

Cointelegraph reached out to several Chinese crypto exchanges to ascertain the veracity of these claims. The platforms that responded declined to comment on the matter. If such statements are true, then it appears authorities in Beijing seem more concerned with optics rather than actual trading activities.

Crypto-yuan: To be or not to be?

Back in April 2018, Chinese social media-based news platform cnLedger revealed that there was a booming Bitcoin OTC trade for crypto bulls in the country. As reported by Cointelegraph at the time, traders in China were paying a premium for BTC via these OTC desks. Chinese traders exchange CNY for USDT, which is then used to purchase BTC overseas. Such activities bring capital control issues with yuan deposits leaving the country.

Indeed, one of the objections raised by China to Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency project is the potential impact on its capital control efforts. Some countries in Europe, such as Germany and France, say Libra could have troubling implications for the monetary sovereignty of nations.

Related: Chinese National Cryptocurrency Turns Out Not Being an Actual Crypto

There has been talk for some time of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) creating a digital yuan currency. Some commentators suggest that such a move even presents greater prominence following the Libra announcement.

China already has a well-developed electronic payment ecosystem with the likes of Alipay and WeChat dominating the scene. The coming of a digital yuan is seen by some as an effort by the government to prevent the penetration of cryptocurrencies into the space.

Cointelegraph asked Utrust’s Castro about the potential impact of Alipay’s announcement distancing itself from Bitcoin trading on the future of crypto payments in China. According to Castro, Alipay’s stance is not surprising given what it has said in the past, adding:

“The advent of an e-Yuan digital currency, natively developed in China could help shape its strategic stance going forward. Competition from Libra and other private initiatives can undoubtedly act as a catalyst that accelerates this process.”

As reported by Cointelegraph, there is still no official consensus on the exact release date for the proposed digital yuan currency. Back in August, reports emerged that the PBoC was ready to roll out the central bank digital currency, or CBDC. However, conflicting revelations emerged a month later saying the central bank still required more time to study the pros and cons.

China’s proposed digital currency coupled with Facebook’s foray into the market has also reportedly spooked several key actors within the European Union. In an op-ed in the Financial Times, Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, urged the EU to consider creating its own digital currency. According to Le Maire:

“We [the European Central Bank] should consider the creation of central banks’ own digital currencies, in the medium to long term. We cannot let China be the only player in this field. Our independence is at stake.”

Le Maire’s aversion to the involvement of private institutions in global monetary affairs echoes some of the sentiments the Utrust co-founder shared with Cointelegraph. During the interview, Castro highlighted the still-prevailing negative rhetoric surrounding the industry, stating, “There are many challenges still ahead, namely the establishment of a good, credible and trustworthy brand reputation for the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”

For now, the likes of Alipay need to maintain a public perception of crypto-aversion, even if private dealings reveal otherwise. Perhaps a time will come when governments will no longer be able to cast the industry in a bad light and cryptocurrencies will usher in the expected global electronic payment revolution.

Blockchain Voting is Vulnerable to Hacking and Low-Quality Data: Research

Some major issues must be resolved before blockchain voting becomes trustworthy, according to a new study.

Nir Kshetri, a professor of management at the University of North Carolina, has suggested that before blockchain-based voting can be considered safe and trustworthy, some major issues must be resolved.

In an article published on Oct. 18, Kshetri claims that “small-scale tests run so far have identified problems and vulnerabilities in the digital systems and government administrative procedures” that must be solved before adopting the technology. 

Hard to audit

Per the report, such systems need to verify voters’ identities — often by analyzing a portrait photo or video with facial recognition software. According to Kshetri, contemporary voting tokens are anonymous and cannot be used to trace anyone’s identity. He also noted that many of the previous tests involved informal ballots such as community projects and student government groups.

Kshetri also voiced concerns that “even experts don’t have a way to identify every possible irregularity in online voting.” On the other hand, he points out that paper-based voting is well-understood and easy to verify and audit.

One major issue is identity verification since various secure keys require large amounts of computing power to verify. Because of this, for instance, the initially assigned keys were found to be easy to hack during the last elections in Moscow.

Experts also fear that devices used to vote could be compromised or that facial recognition systems might make mistakes or get tricked by hackers. Lastly, proprietary systems like the one developed by blockchain voting startup Voatz do not allow to verify whether the votes were cast accurately.

Testing on a small scale

That being said, in November 2018 multiple election officials in the United States allowed members of the military stationed overseas to vote electronically. In the same month, 144 voters living abroad have been approved by West Virginia’s authorities to cast ballots from 31 different countries by means of an app developed by Voatz.

The state reportedly plans to continue and expand the trial in the 2020 presidential election. Also, 119 voters who were overseas used Voatz’s system to vote during Denver’s municipal primary elections in May.

The last — and biggest — example of blockchain voting test provided by the article is the one used at the beginning of September during the city council elections in Moscow. That being said, out of the city’s 20 electoral precincts, only three allowed users to vote via the Internet because of security concerns.

As Cointelegraph reported on Oct. 18, two state counties in the U.S. are implementing blockchain-based mobile voting in the special elections in November.