Bitcoin price failed on many occasions to break the key $3,860 resistance level against the US Dollar.The price started a downward move and broke the $3,800 and $3,760 support levels.There was a break below a declining channel with resistance at $3,800 on the hourly chart of the BTC/USD pair (data feed from Kraken).The pair is trading in a bearish zone and it could decline further below $3,700 and $3,680.Bitcoin price failed to climb above key resistances and declined against the US Dollar. BTC is likely to retest the key $3,600 support area before it could bounce back above $3,800.Bitcoin Price AnalysisThis past week, we saw many rejections near the $3,900 and $3,860 resistances in bitcoin price against the US Dollar. The BTC/USD pair topped near the $3,860 level and later started a downward move. It broke the $3,800 and $3,760 support levels to move into a bearish zone. The recent decline was crucial as the price settled below the $3,800 level and the 100 hourly simple moving average. The decline was such that the price even broke the $3,720 support level.Moreover, there was a break below a declining channel with resistance at $3,800 on the hourly chart of the BTC/USD pair. Finally, a new intraday low was formed near $3,692. In the short term, there could be a minor upside correction towards $3,760 or $3,750. The 50% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $3,805 high to $3,692 low is near the $3,748 level to act as a resistance. However, the main resistance is near the $3,800 level and the channel upper trend line.An intermediate resistance is near the $3,775 level. It coincides with the 76.4% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $3,805 high to $3,692 low. Therefore, if the price corrects higher, it could struggle to clear the $3,760, $3,775 and $3,800 resistance levels. The main hurdle for buyers remain near $3,860, above which the price may move into a bullish zone.Looking at the chart, bitcoin price is slowly declining towards the $3,680 and $3,650 support levels. If sellers remain in action, there are even chances of more losses below the $3,640 level. The key support is at $3,600, where buyers are likely to take a stand. On the other hand, to start a decent uptrend, the price must clear the $3,800 and $3,860 resistance levels.Technical indicatorsHourly MACD – The MACD is gaining momentum in the bearish zone.Hourly RSI (Relative Strength Index) – The RSI for BTC/USD declined heavily and it seems to be heading towards the 15 level.Major Support Level – $3,650 followed by $3,600.Major Resistance Level – $3,760, $3,775 and 3,800.
Archives for March 3, 2019
Crypto markets have just started to slide; Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, EOS and IOTA getting hurt, Ravencoin flying high.Market WrapIt looks like a Monday morning crypto market dump has just been ignited. All major cryptocurrencies are breaking down at the moment and heading deeper into the red. Following a week of consolidation and failure to break through resistance this has been expected. Total market capitalization has dumped $4 billion and is heading towards $125 billion at the time of writing.Bitcoin has spent most of the past 24 hours floating around the $3,850 level; it hasn’t even attempted to test $3,900 resistance again. A couple of hours ago things started to break down and BTC plunged to below $3,800, it is still falling at the time of writing, down 2.4% on the day.Naturally the digital lemmings have all followed suit, Ethereum no exception. With a 5% slide ETH has dropped back below $130 and is still heading south. Market cap is down to $13.5 billion as the gap to XRP closes with the Ripple token only falling 3% in the rout.A sea of deepening red has enveloped the top ten during Asian trading today as coins are offloaded. EOS and Bitcoin Cash are taking the brunt of things dumping 6% at the time of writing. Litecoin and Tron not far behind with losses over 4% as market caps erode.The top twenty is all falling off the cliff this morning leaving no survivors. Cardano and IOTA falling fastest right now with 6% losses, and Bitcoin SV, Dash and Zcash are closing up with 5% falls.Ravencoin Flying HighAll of today’s FOMO is going to Ravencoin which is still up 30% on the same time yesterday. The altcoin has reached a three month high as it continues to spike. RVN is a token based on an asset, security and stock tokenization platform that offers dividend payouts. Network growth and a Bittrex listing is keeping Ravencoin flying while markets dump again.RVN is available on @BittrexExchange, one of the earliest supporters of this project!As with all exchange listings, no fee was paid.
Raven is decentralized and has no funds, no offices, no leadership, no executives, no CEO & no one authorized to sign anything.Thanks Bittrex!— Project Raven / RVN / Ravencoin (@Ravencoin) March 3, 2019Also still holding up at the moment is MOAC which has a green 9% today. Double digit dumps are going on at THETA, Komodo, and Aelf right now but that list is likely to grow until markets find a new floor.Two hours ago crypto markets dumped $4 billion falling to $126 billion at the time of writing. It is the largest movement for over a week but not one that has come as a surprise. A lot of indecision and consolidation always ends with a breakout and many had predicted that it would be on the downside.Total market cap 24 hours. Coinmarketcap.comBitcoin has failed to break through resistance several times over the past week and yet again has pulled the rest of its brethren into the red today. At the moment things are still falling so we will have to wait and see where the digital dust will settle this time.Market Wrap is a section that takes a daily look at the top cryptocurrencies during the current trading session and analyses the best-performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals.
The total crypto market cap is following a declining structure below the $128.0B resistance level.EOS price broke the key $3.55 and $3.50 support levels to move into a bearish zone.Bitcoin cash price traded below the $130 support and it could now test the $125 level.Tron (TRX) price extended losses below $0.0240 and it is now approaching the $0.0220 support.Cardano (ADA) price is currently sliding towards the key $0.0400 support level.The crypto market recovery remains at a risk of more losses. Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), EOS, BCH, ripple, tron (TRX), ADA and other altcoins could continue to weaken in the near term.Bitcoin Cash Price AnalysisRecently, bitcoin cash price struggled to break the $135 resistance level and later declined against the US Dollar. The BCH/USD pair broke the $132 and $130 support levels to move into a bearish zone. The current price action is negative and it suggests that the price may decline further towards the $125 support level.On the upside, the main resistance is at $132, above which the price could recover towards the $135 resistance level. The risk remains to the downside as long as the price is below the $132 level.EOS, Tron (TRX) and ADA Price AnalysisEOS price declined heavily from well above the $4.00 support. It broke the $3.80 and $3.65 support levels to trim most its gains. Recently, sellers pushed the price below the key $3.55 and $3.50 support levels. The price is now under pressure and it may continue to decline towards the $3.40 or $3.35 support zone.Tron price traded below the $0.0250 support level to enter a bearish zone. TRX recently declined below $0.0240 and it seems like sellers are aiming for the $0.0220 support level. On the upside, an initial resistance is at $0.0235, followed by the $0.0240 level.Cardano price remained in a downtrend and it recently broke the $0.0440 and $0.0420 support levels. ADA is about to test the $0.0400 support level, below which there is a risk of a sharp drop. On the upside, there are many hurdles near the $0.0420, $0.0425 and $0.0440 levels.Looking at the total cryptocurrency market cap hourly chart, there were many failures near the $128.0B resistance level, resulting in a sharp decline. The market cap recently broke the $125.0B and $124.0B supports to set the pace for more losses. It is currently following a declining channel with resistance at $125.0B on the same chart. The technical structure suggests that the crypto market cap is under pressure and it could slide towards the $122.0B and $120.0B support levels in the near term. Therefore, there could be more losses in bitcoin, ETH, XRP, tron, bitcoin cash, litecoin, EOS, stellar, IOTA and other altcoins.
A technical indicator that incorporates both bitcoin’s price and trading volume is signaling the cryptocurrency may have bottomed in December.
The money flow index (MFI), also known as the volume-weighted relative strength index, is used to identify buying and selling pressure and oscillates between zero to 100. A rising MFI indicates an increase in buying pressure, while a falling MFI is considered a sign of increasing selling pressures.
Essentially, the MFI validates or confirms price trends. Many times, however, the indicator diverges from the prevailing market trend.
For instance, BTC dashed hopes of a long-term bullish reversal with a break below $6,000 on Nov. 14 and hit a 15-month low of $3,122 on Dec. 15. The 14-week MFI also nosedived from the high of 43.00 in mid-November, confirming the sell-off in prices.
The indicator, however, bottomed out with a higher low at 22.00, contradicting the lower low in bitcoin’s price. That bullish divergence is widely considered an early warning of a bearish-to-bullish trend reversal. Supporting that argument is the fact BTC snapped its record six-month losing streak with a 10 percent gain in February and the MFI rose from 25 to 44.
Other indicators like the moving average convergence divergence (MACD) and the bearish crossover of the 50- and 100-week moving average are also signaling long-term bearish exhaustion. These tools, however, don’t incorporate trading volumes. The MFI, therefore, stands out as a more reliable technical tool.
That said, with a number of indicators pointing to bullish reversal, the probability of BTC picking a strong bid a year ahead of the mining reward halving appears high.
As of writing, BTC is trading at $3,785 according to CoinDesk data.
As seen above, the MFI diverged in favor of the bulls in mid-December, despite BTC sliding to lows near $3,100. Further, it carved out another higher low at 25 at the end of January and is now rising toward the upper edge of the channel. A breakout on the MFI, if confirmed, would reinforce the bullish divergence witnessed in December.
When it comes to BTC, $4,190 is the level to beat for the bulls, as it is the high of the inverted bullish hammer carved out last week. That candlestick pattern indicates the bulls are beginning to test bears’ resolve to keep prices low – a sign the market is bottoming out.
A convincing move above $4,190, if backed by a rise in the money flow, could yield a rally toward the psychological resistance of $5,000.
The bullish case presented by the MFI would weaken if the February low of $3,328 is breached with high volumes.
Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing.
Ripple price failed to gain momentum above the $0.3150 resistance and declined against the US dollar.The price is now trading well below the $0.3140 resistance and the 100 hourly simple moving average.There is a crucial contracting triangle in place with resistance near the $0.3095 level on the hourly chart of the XRP/USD pair (data source from Kraken).The pair could dip sharply towards the $0.3020 support before it attempts a solid recovery.Ripple price trading with a bearish angle against the US Dollar and bitcoin. XRP/USD remains at a risk of more losses before it could bounce back above $0.3120 and $0.3140.Ripple Price AnalysisThis past week, we saw a decent recovery from the $0.2980 swing low in ripple price against the US Dollar. The XRP/USD pair broke the $0.3100 and $0.3150 resistance levels to climb above $0.3200. It traded as high as $0.3232 and later started a downside move. There was a bearish push below the $0.3150 support and the 100 hourly simple moving average. The price broke the 50% Fib retracement level of the last wave from the $0.2981 low to $0.3232 high. It opened the doors for more losses and the price declined below $0.3100.At the outset, the price is testing an important support near the $0.3070 level. If there is a downside break below $0.3070, the price could decline towards $0.3040. It represents the 76.4% Fib retracement level of the last wave from the $0.2981 low to $0.3232 high. More importantly, there is a crucial contracting triangle in place with resistance near the $0.3095 level on the hourly chart of the XRP/USD pair. The pair could dip sharply below the triangle support and test $0.3040 in the near term.On the upside, if there is a break above the triangle, the price may test the $0.3130 resistance and 100 hourly simple moving average. Having said that, a proper break and close above $0.3150 is must for buyers to gain traction. The next key resistance is at $0.3200 and $0.3220.Looking at the chart, ripple price is currently in a bearish zone below $0.3140. Therefore, there is a risk of a sharp drop towards the $0.3020 support before XRP attempts a solid recovery. Should buyers fail to defend the $0.3020 support, the price could break the last swing low at $0.2981. The next main support is at $0.2950 and $0.2920.Technical IndicatorsHourly MACD – The MACD for XRP/USD is slowly gaining momentum in the bearish zone.Hourly RSI (Relative Strength Index) – The RSI for XRP/USD is now well below the 40 level, with a bearish bias.Major Support Levels – $0.3070, $0.3040 and $0.3020.Major Resistance Levels – $0.3100, $0.3140 and $0.3150.
ETH price made many swing highs and later declined below the $131 support against the US Dollar.The price is now trading well below the $135 resistance and the 100 hourly simple moving average.There was a break below a major triangle with support at $131 on the hourly chart of ETH/USD (data feed via Kraken).The pair could continue to move down and it could test the $126 or $125 support level in the near term.Ethereum price is under pressure below key resistances against the US Dollar and bitcoin. ETH/USD remains a sell until buyers manage to push the price above the $134-135 resistance area.Ethereum Price AnalysisThis past week, we saw how ETH price struggled near the $139 and $140 resistances against the US Dollar. The ETH/USD pair made many attempts to break higher towards $145, but it failed. Recently, it formed many swing highs such as $140, $138 and $135 before it started a downside move. Sellers gained pace below the $134 support, with a strong negative angle. There was a sharp drop below the $130 support and the price settled well below the 100 hourly simple moving average.During the decline, there was a break below a major triangle with support at $131 on the hourly chart of ETH/USD. The pair even broke the $128 support and traded close to the $127 level. Later, there was a minor bounce above the $128 level. The price recovered above the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $135 swing high to $127 low. However, the recovery remained capped by the $130 zone. It seems like there is a strong resistance formed near the $131 zone. Besides, the 50% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $135 swing high to $127 low is also near $131.Above the $131 resistance, the next key resistance is near the $134 and $135 levels. More importantly, buyers need to push the price above $136 and the 100 hourly SMA for a sustained move higher. If they fail, there are chances of more losses below the $127 swing low.Looking at the chart, ETH price is clearly trading in a bearish zone below the $134 and $131 resistance levels. There could be a short term upside correction, but sellers remain in control below $134. On the downside, an initial support is at $126, followed by the $125 pivot level.ETH Technical IndicatorsHourly MACD – The MACD for ETH/USD is placed heavily in the bearish zone.Hourly RSI – The RSI for ETH/USD moved down sharply below the 30 level, with a bearish angle.Major Support Level – $126Major Resistance Level – $134
Michael J. Casey is the chairman of CoinDesk’s advisory board and a senior advisor for blockchain research at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative.
The following article originally appeared in CoinDesk Weekly, a custom-curated newsletter delivered every Sunday exclusively to our subscribers.
If you want to test a cryptocurrency newcomer’s grasp of the design principles of permissionless record-keeping networks, tell them it wouldn’t matter to bitcoin if ISIS were running a node.
The statement can provoke a look of alarm. But it helps to make the point that the security model behind bitcoin and other decentralized cryptocurrencies – the way they resolve the Byzantine General’s Problem – is independent of the question of who is participating in the network. ISIS’s intent, evil as it would no doubt be, is irrelevant if it has less than 50 percent control of the network.
It’s also a good way to draw a distinction between the ostensibly “trustless” nature of the underlying ledger and the fact that so many of the businesses that provide services for cryptocurrencies – exchanges, custodians, price feeds and so forth – actually function as trusted third parties.
The point is that once you have to trust someone or some entity, then the question of who they are really does matter. That’s the lesson everyone should take from the PR disaster that Coinbase brought upon itself with its recent acquisition of the rather dodgy blockchain analytics firm Neutrino.
Precisely because it acts as a steward and custodian of a very large amount of people’s funds and assets, Coinbase’s business model depends on it building up and maintaining trust with its customers.
And as it learned last week, that can be a complicated exercise, one that goes far beyond what the entity does, to include how its messaging and its dealings with others are perceived.
The Neutrino-Hacking Team connection
After BreakerMag’s David Z. Morris pointed out that the founders of Neutrino were the same folks who headed up Hacking Team, a notorious Italian IT firm whose software has helped authoritarian governments spy on their citizens, a #DeleteCoinbase movement arose on Twitter and elsewhere.
The backlash isn’t surprising. In a report that identified Hacking Team as one of five “corporate enemies of the Internet,” Reporters Without Borders documented the outfit’s cooperation with a wide range of governments around the world, including Sudan and Morocco, enabling them to “commit violations of human rights and freedom of information.”
The Washington Post reported that Hacking Team once worked with the Saudi enforcement unit that was later involved in the murder of the newspaper’s correspondent, Jamal Khashoggi. A Toronto human rights group found that the firm had helped the repressive Ethiopian regime monitor expatriate dissidents’ activities.
It’s not clear how many users have actually deleted their Coinbase accounts in response to these revelations. Some reported difficulty in withdrawing their bitcoin balances to zero, a pre-requirement for closing an account; the amounts left were too small to easily transfer on-chain.
That prompted developer Udi Wertheimer to create #DeleteCoinbaseTrustChain – a play on the Lightning Network Trust Chain – to create a chain of Coinbase users transferring residual bitcoin to each other on the company’s books so they could drain and delete their accounts.
Either way, it’s impossible to put a positive spin on the branding impact of the Neutrino decision – which is why it’s also really important to look at Coinbase’s response to it.
As of the time of writing there had been no update on the Coinbase blog beyond the upbeat announcement of the acquisition from engineering director Varun Srinivasan.
In a statement to The Block, however, Coinbase said it was “aware that Neutrino’s co-founders previously worked at Hacking Team, which we reviewed as part of our security, technical and hiring diligence,” adding that “Coinbase does not condone nor will it defend the actions of Hacking Team,” but “it was important for Coinbase to bring this function in-house to fully control and protect our customers’ data and Neutrino’s technology was the best we encountered in the space to achieve this goal.”
Elaborating on why this was important, Christine Sandler, the company’s head of institutional sales, told Cheddar that the previous third-party providers “were actually selling client data to outside sources.”
Well, good thing that’s coming to an end. But the company’s argument – that this is best-of-class tech and that by bringing it “in-house” the company can be sure that it will “fully control and protect our customer’s data” – depends entirely on the presumption that users can trust Coinbase to act in their interests.
And trust isn’t as easily maintained as Coinbase seems to think it is. Hiring people who worked on such unsavory projects as the Hacking Team is a good way to lose it.
I’m not suggesting that Coinbase intends to surveil or otherwise abuse the rights of its customers. It has been a mostly faithful and trustworthy steward of its more than 20 million users’ assets. There’s nothing to indicate that it won’t continue to work hard to protect them.
But Coinbase is a trusted third party. To succeed it must develop, nurture and maintain the public’s trust. And as the saying goes, it’s very difficult to engender trust and easy to lose it.
This requires more than just living up to legal and de-facto fiduciary duties. It’s about how the entire company behaves, with everything from its blog posts to its corporate decisions under scrutiny.
An alternative that can be trusted
Banks and other financial institutions have been well aware of this challenge for years. It’s why they work hard on their branding – using words like “trust” and “fidelity” in their names and product offerings, and associating their logos and other corporate iconography with images of strength and dependability.
Even so, because of their poor behavior in recent years, public trust in banks is near all-time lows. Not that this has caused them to lose much business; most people feel they have no choice but to deal with banks if they are to transact in the real world. (Even among competing banks, switching costs, such as the hassle of changing direct deposit for paychecks, have historically made consumers “sticky,” or disinclined to switch providers.) It’s a captive audience, but a miserable one.
Perhaps Coinbase is relying on similar inertia, and maybe it can even afford to, given its massive user base and relative ease of use compared to most crypto exchanges. But if it wants to be a real alternative to the complacent, too-big-to-fail banks, Coinbase and others like it must hold themselves to a higher standard. They have to win the public’s trust.
Even if the Lightning Network and other decentralized technologies start to allow cryptocurrency users to more easily “be their own bank” and manage their assets without relying on exchanges or custodians, trusted entities will continue to play vital roles in the crypto ecosystem. In any case, we’re a long way from having those new technologies operate at scale.
Can Coinbase survive the Neutrino controversy and the #DeleteCoinbase movement? Possibly.
Yet the fallout from its decision and response affect confidence in the entire field of cryptocurrencies.
If the company and other such intermediaries want to help the industry grow and, in so doing, succeed in building their own respected brands, they need to work a lot harder at winning the trust of the people they serve.
Coinbase image via Shutterstock
Over cryptocurrency’s ten-year history, this space has been beaten to hell and back by skeptics who don’t think (or don’t want) the innovation to succeed. Yet, one Bitcoin-friendly venture capitalist claims that there’s an inevitability to the crypto space. Better yet, he remarked that even those sardonic towards this space have an inkling of a feeling that this paradigm-shifting innovation could potentially garner traction the world over.Crypto Not Mainstream’s Darling, But It Still Could Be The ‘Next Big Thing’Chris Burniske, a partner at Placeholder Ventures, recently broke down his thoughts on this subject matter in his most recent installment of his insightful Twitter thread series. He notes that while crypto isn’t the darling of the mainstream conversation or consciousness, it remains “latent” in the mind of the majority. Citing personal conversations, the former head of ARK Invest’s crypto branch added that when he delves deeper down the cryptocurrency rabbit hole with people he meets, there is a number that sees it as the “next big thing.”1/ In the last bear market, telling someone you worked in the #bitcoin industry still drew blank stares.In this bear market, telling someone you work in #crypto elicits some kind of reaction, good or bad.— Chris Burniske (@cburniske) February 27, 2019Burniske, who authored the primer on all things digital asset, added that the fact that even those who are skeptical concede to the inevitability argument shows that broad deployment could be in crypto’s sights. He concluded:“So yes, the tech is still early & we have a long ways to go. But the way in which the ideas are lingering in peoples’ minds is a great long-term indicator for crypto.”Why Bitcoin Seems InevitableAlthough many cynics, including Warren Buffet, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of the skeptics in that Wall Street posse, would claim that Bitcoin is inevitably going to bite the dust, this might not be the case. More specifically, in the current context of the embattled macroeconomy, some argue that decentralized money’s value proposition is as apparent as ever, if not more so than normal.Speaking to TD Ameritrade, Wall Street hotshot Travis Kling explained that there’s a non-zero chance that Bitcoin could live up to everyone’s expectations, becoming a globally-secured transaction settlement layer that is immutable, decentralized, censorship-resistant, and cost- and time-effective. Kling, the incumbent chief investment officer of Ikigai, added that as governments continue to enlist the use of questionable fiscal decisions, that gives Bitcoin a sort of inevitability, citing quantitative easing and sovereign debt concerns.Related Reading: Analyst: Despite 80% Drop Bitcoin Network is as Strong as Ever, Enduring FundamentalsIt could also be argued that non-BTC cryptocurrencies and related technologies also have some sort of inevitability too, like what Burniske was touching on. But, this facet of the nascent industry has yet to get fully fleshed out, as cryptocurrencies are rather embryonic on the world stage. Regardless, more and more technologists and futurists are coming to the conclusion that the future will be rife with blockchain technologies, digital assets, and peer-to-peer systems for all society asks or wants.Every stock, bond, currency, and commodity will be tokenized.ICOs are horrible investment opportunity.99% of utility tokens are nonsense.Owning equity in infrastructure companies is ideal.Bitcoin to the moon.That’s my thesis. Never changed.— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) March 2, 2019Anthony Pompliano of Morgan Creek Digital recently put it best, noting that his underlying investment thesis is that eventually, whether it be months, years, or even decades, all form of stock, bond, currency, and commodity will have a corresponding token form, increasing the efficiency, inclusivity, transparency, security, and immutability of the global financial system.Related Reading: Crypto Programmer: Goal of Bitcoin is to Bypass Existing Financial System, Not to Support itFeatured Image from Shutterstock
Coinbase’s controversial acquisition of Neutrino was motivated by a desire to ditch its existing tech partners because they ”were actually selling client data to outside sources,” the head of sales at Coinbase said on Saturday.
In an interview with Cheddar, Coinbase’s Christine Sandler explained the rationale for buying Neutrino— a blockchain intelligence firm whose founders used to build hacking tools to sell to the police.
We are aware of the backgrounds of some of the folks that were involved in Neutrino and we are looking into that. I think the compelling reason for making the acquisition was that Neutrino really had some industry-leading, best-in-class technology. And moreover, it was really important for us to migrate away from our current providers — our current providers were actually selling client data to outside sources. It was really compelling for us to kind of get control over that and have proprietary technology that we could leverage to keep the data safe, and to protect our clients.
Wow. I’m really struggling to view Coinbase’s actions in anything but the harshest light.
1. Deal with blockchain tracing firm
2. Discover that firm selling client data
3. Don’t disclose this to anyone
4. Buy a firm that is made up of human rights violators
5. Profit?!? https://t.co/9om7HRxape
— Riccardo Spagni (@fluffypony) March 3, 2019
CCN has reached out to Coinbase seeking clarification as to which vendors sold Coinbase customer data, how long this went on, and whether or not customer data is now fully in Coinbase’s control. Coinbase had not responded as of publication time Sunday evening.
Neutrino, Hacking Team, and Surveillance
Neutrino bills itself as a go-to analytics platform for helping law enforcement agencies and financial institutions keep track of transactions on the blockchain. Previously, Neutrino CEO Giancarlo Russo, CTO Alberto Ornaghi, and CRO Marco Valleri used to ply their wares as cyber gurus for a firm known called Hacking Team.
On its website, the Hacking Team says:
We believe that fighting crime should be easy; we provide effective, easy-to-use offensive technology to the worldwide law enforcement and intelligence communities.
On the “Solutions” page of the Hacking Team’s website, the company sheds light on the nature of the tools that are being sold to governments around the world:
Criminals and terrorists rely on mobile phones, tablets, lap tops and computers equipped with universal end-to-end encryption to hide their activity. Their secret communications and encrypted files can be critical to investigating, preventing and prosecuting crime. Hacking Team provides law enforcement an effective, easy-to-use solution.
When I said it would be great to have more infosec people involved in the “crypto” space, I didn’t mean the largest US exchange should acquire an analysis tools company run by a former Hacking Team member, but here we are
— Amber ☘️ (@AmberBaldet) February 24, 2019
Hacking Team’s mostly-secret client list reportedly includes Mexico, Oman, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, and others. In some instances, the Hacking Team’s tools have apparently been deployed to spy on journalists and dissidents instead of criminals.
On it’s “About Us” page, Hacking Team notes that its technology “is used daily to fight crime in six continents.”
Hacking Team’s Saudi Partnership Revealed
Supporting good-faith efforts to prosecute crime sounds reasonable enough. Different countries adhere to unique criminal codes, though. Speaking out against the government is legal in many countries, but not in others. For instance, Saudi Arabia has imprisoned women’s rights activists, journalists, and government critics. And in late 2017, Riyadh passed an “antiterrorism” law that tied certain “nonviolent political and religious speech” with prison time, according to a report by Freedom House.
Saud al-Qahtani, head of the Center for Studies and Media Affairs in the Saudi capital, has reportedly been one of Hacking Team’s clients.
“Qahtani and his cyber colleagues worked at first with an Italian company called Hacking Team,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported in December, citing “many knowledgeable sources who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.”
Qhatani worked with Hacking Team as he built “a network of surveillance and social-media manipulation to advance MBS’s agenda and suppress his enemies,” the WashPost report notes.
Hacking Team in the U.S.
In 2012, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spent $2.4 million on Hacking Team’s Remote Control System, which lets government agents remotely access communications data on a device.
There’s just something about that $1 million mark that causes crypto bulls to froth at the mouth. The VP of blockchain and digital currencies for IBM, Jesse Lund, is one of the most recent industry experts to proclaim that the bitcoin price could hit seven figures.
“I see Bitcoin at a million dollars, maybe $5,000 by the end of the year but a way higher trajectory… that means there’s over $20 trillion of liquidity in this network.”
Bitcoin Bulls Have Been Pounding the Table on $1 Million for Years
Mr. Lund is not the first to predict such a lofty bitcoin price. RT host Max Keiser said on his show in early 2016:
“Most of the people who are on the sidelines not buying bitcoins today will start to buy when it gets over $1,000, and then a greater percentage of people will definitely plow into bitcoin once it trades over a $10,000.”
Rick Falkvinge believes it’s reasonable for bitcoin to capture 1% to 10% of the global investor market.
“This leads us to a target market cap of 600 billion to 6 trillion USD, to be fulfilled by about 6 million bitcoin, which makes for easy calculations. That means that each bitcoin would be worth $100,000 at the low market cap and $1,000,000 at the high market cap,” he wrote.
A PayPal Board Member Joins the Fray
Wences Casares, CEO of bitcoin service provider Xapo, said on a panel at TechCrunch Disrupt 2015 that he thinks $1 million is not out of the question and may be more likely than not.
“I think that there is a higher than 50 percent chance that a bitcoin is worth more than a million dollars.”
Mr. Casares also wrote about his opinion on the Bitcoin.com forum.
“It is hard to estimate how many people on (sic) bitcoins, but it may be somewhere between 13 and 15 million people right now,” he wrote at the time. “If Bitcoin is successful we will see hundreds of millions of people own Bitcoin and, eventually, billions. The only way we can get to billions of people owning Bitcoin is by the price going up by several orders of magnitude, let’s say $ 1 million (but this is highly speculative and risky). So, if I am right, and Bitcoin has to go from $390 to $1,000,000 the best way for it to get there without crashing irreversibly is with as much volatility as possible.”
Trace Mayer, the Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast host, has made multiple cases for a bitcoin price of more than $1 million.
“If you moved just 1% of the cash balances from off shore tax haven bank accounts, which currently hold estimated $30 trillion of value, if you move just 1% of that into bitcoin you are looking at $2.8 million per bitcoin,” he said back in 2013.
John McAfee Puts Skin in the Game
If price increases were in line to reach $1 million by the end of 2020, one bitcoin today should be worth over $39,000, according to an online tracker that measures the progress of John Mcafee’s infamous prediction to cut off his own member should it not reach seven digits by the end of 2020.
That’s quite a prediction. To reach the seven-figure mark in a more conservative timeframe of five years, bitcoin needs to see daily growth of roughly 0.3%. It has exceeded this in the past—the height of the 2017 bull run saw the coin enjoy massive growth on an almost daily basis.
Stable growth throughout the coming year could be crucial, and the first two months of 2019 have proved promising so far, as the price of bitcoin stays relatively steady between $3,500 and $4,200.
While McAfee was the first crypto celebrity to put so much, well, skin in the game with his $1 million bitcoin price prediction, there’s something about that seven-figure mark that’s simply irresistible to crypto bulls.
This brings us back to IBM VP Jesse Lund’s forecast:
“Two billion adults are unbanked yet one billion of those are carrying smartphones,” said Lund. “If the price of Bitcoin were higher, there would be more liquidity and we could be having a different discussion with banks right now.”
Institutional heads echo this, saying that bitcoin needs to find stability at a price that more closely reflects its utility. Best case scenarios include extended and exponential growth for the flagship cryptocurrency.
Maintaining a Long-Term Outlook Even in Frigid Crypto Winter
A substantial price increase is likely to be contingent on what the true utility of cryptocurrency actually is, and this will only become apparent as markets continue to mature. But for the Winklevoss twins, who in 2017 became the first “verified bitcoin billionaires,” the cryptocurrency is already close to becoming an effective store of value.
Responding to questions in a Reddit AMA thread, Cameron Winklevoss and brother Tyler – founders of the Gemini exchange – stated that BTC is the most likely “winner” in cryptocurrency markets due to its existing prominence.
“It’s hard to defeat network effects,” Tyler Winklevoss said. “We believe Bitcoin is better at being gold than gold. If we’re right, then over time the market cap of Bitcoin will surpass the $7 trillion market cap of gold.”
This line of thinking relies on bitcoin becoming less volatile than it has been historically. Toward that end, there have been positive developments since the onset of a long ‘Crypto Winter,’ as proponents dub the consolidation period that began for most cryptocurrencies at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018.
Markets may be tentatively approaching these conditions. Online trackers show that the usage of Segregated Witness (SegWit) on some days accounts for nearly half of all transactions conducted on the BTC blockchain, which before saw average fees rise to $30 when the number of transactions spiked to 300,000 daily. Previously, this was seen as a huge obstacle to the future of “digital gold.”
But, at the time of writing, median transaction fees sit below $0.30, despite recent highs of 360,000 transactions within a 24 hour period. Data indicates that SegWit is working to raise the ceiling for bitcoin and could yet help to realize a value that better represents its utility. This, smart money says, is how a promising start to 2019 will eventually turn into a major bull run.