Blockchain and Bitcoin round-up: 7 December 2017
Quickly following on from the blockchain and Bitcoin round-up on Tuesday (5 December), we bring you more bite-sized action. Features a nasty hack on NiceHash; Pundi X in Indonesia; a Deluge Network for ICOs; and Blockchain Centre Vilnius in Lithuania.
Bitcoin has crossed the $14,000 mark, but let’s focus and begin with another hack. Cryptocurrency mining platform NiceHash has revealed it was hacked – and up to $60 million worth of Bitcoin may be missing. NiceHash says its payment system was “compromised and the contents of the NiceHash Bitcoin wallet have been stolen” and it is “working to verify the precise number of BTC taken”. Although, Andrej Skraba, head of marketing at NiceHash, told Reuters that around 4,700 Bitcoins — worth roughly $68 million at current prices — were lost in the hack.
This wouldn’t be the first time people have lost out. We’ll stick to recent examples. In November, a wallet scam managed to net fraudsters with over $3.2 million in various tokens including Litecoin, Bitcoin and Ethereum. Also, York Regional Police in Toronto carried out an investigation into reports of a new Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam, which led to victims losing CA$340,000 ($268,268) in cash into Bitcoin ATMs. Potential marks would be contacted by a scammer posing as tax collectors or police officers threatening them over tax issues.
Pundi X, a blockchain start-up targeting payment environments across South East Asia, has unveiled its Pundi X POS (point of sale) smart device to enable shops, cafes and convenience stores to sell to “general consumers who would otherwise have little or no access to cryptocurrency”.
The device lets consumers buy or sell using fiat money, bank cards, mobile wallets or a Pundi X Pass. The purchased cryptocurrency can be stored in a digital wallet or used to make cashless payments to top up phones, pay utility bills or buy goods. The firm says it has signed up more than 100,000 registered users and over 500 merchant partners in Jakarta.
Unleash the alchemists! Advisory group New Alchemy has announced that its team of engineers is developing Deluge Network, the “first service” to allow users to directly contribute Bitcoin to an initial coin offering (ICO) without an exchange. According to the firm, currently, ICO contributors must use a two-step process: 1) send Bitcoin to an exchange to convert it to Ethereum or ERC20 token, 2) contribute. This process “can take an hour or more and is prohibitively expensive for large transactions”.
Deluge Network will enable Bitcoin to act as if it is moving on the Ethereum blockchain by backing the Deluge Bitcoin Token (DBTC) with an equal amount of Bitcoin (BTC). This will allow “fast and easy conversion both to and from Bitcoin”. Plans include extending to other cryptocurrencies, such as Zcash, Monero, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold.
Over in Lithuania, the Blockchain Centre Vilnius will open its doors on 27 January 2018. Its mission is to apply the technology to business, finance and public administration. It’s a co-working and shared office space for start-ups and will connect people on three continents. It joins partner Blockchain Centres in Melbourne and Shanghai. The centres incubate and accelerate start-ups while sharing information about new opportunities with investors and businesses alike.
This is not strictly blockchain or Bitcoin news, but several months ago Banking Technology was invited to a tour of the country as Lithuania seeks to carve its own niche in the fintech space. In addition, last year, Bank of Lithuania, the country’s central bank and regulator, promised to provide preliminary answers to financial institution licence enquiries within one week, “the fastest turnaround in the EU”.