The price of bitcoin remains firm, gaining two percent week-on-week, amid a mix of positive and negative news.
The announcement by Bakkt that it has made its first acquisition shows that the institutional crypto trading venture is on track to become a serious player in the institutional digital asset trading market and has the potential to attract a wave of institutional money to bitcoin.
Moreover, Binance has announced its expansion into the UK with its Jersey-based exchange and leading bitcoin payments company BitPay announced that it processed over $1 billion worth of digital currency payments in 2018.
Perhaps the biggest news of the week has been the hack of New Zealand-based exchange Cryptopia, which reportedly amounts to over $3.5 million of lost funds. Interestingly, some of the stolen funds have been found and frozen on Binance.
The Ethereum development team announced that it would postpone the Constantinople upgrade due to vulnerabilities in the code that would make it susceptible to reentrancy attacks. Despite the postponement of the upgrade, the price of ether (ETH) did not plummet and was down marginally versus the previous week.
The remainder of the altcoin market saw a mixed picture with about two-thirds of the top 25 digital assets dropping slightly in the red and the rest slightly in the green, as one would expect when the price of bitcoin remains stable.
Crypto-exchange giant Binance announced on January 16, 2019, that it was opening new offices on the island of Jersey, United Kingdom, and has also established a EURGBP trading pair among others.
According to the company’s post, Binance.je is already operating and accepting new registrations, allowing for citizens of the United Kingdom to tap a broader spectrum of trading pairs. Binance posted on its website:
“Binance is excited to announce that Binance’s EUR/GBP Fiat Exchange, Binance.je, is now online, with trading in BTC/GBP, ETH/GBP, BTC/EUR and ETH/EUR trading pairs now open. Registrations, deposits and withdrawals are now also available.”
Binance is considered the world’s second largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchange whose rise to the top was meteoric. Since its launch in July of 2017, the exchange has experienced exponential growth. Its rise is not compared to any other firm in the industry and today, the company is proud to have around $6 billion in assets traded in an average seven day period.
On January 16, 2019, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao confirmed that the exchange has frozen some of the stolen funds from the Cryptopia exchange hack discovered on their platform.
Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, confirmed in a tweet that Binance has frozen some of the stolen funds detected in their exchange. The stolen funds in question belong to Cryptopia, an exchange that was hacked on January 13, 2019, and had over $3.5 million in cryptocurrency stolen from it.
It would now seem that the hackers are attempting to sell off the cryptocurrency they stole. As Zhao pointed out, social media users are helping by reporting any traces of the funds to Binance, who are, in turn, freezing them.
On January 16, 2019, ChainSecurity, a smart contact audit firm, released the results of an audit carried out on the Constantinople Hard Fork which was found to be vulnerable to reentrancy attacks. The Hard Fork Launch has since been postponed.
According to the report published by ChainSecurity, there are a number of vulnerabilities on the Constantinople hard fork that leave it open to a possible “reentrancy attack.”
The news broke on the same day that the Ethereum Classic Team announced the formation of their ETC Core Labs team.
The report states that whilst the current Constantinople upgrade helps users by introducing lower transaction costs, it also means that reentrancy attacks are more likely and can be done through the use of certain ETH smart contract commands.
A reentrancy attack involves a malicious party stealing funds from a network and is achieved by an attacker repeatedly asking the network for funds while supplying false information about their ETH account balance. This makes the reentrancy vulnerabilities a serious concern that could stall the project to avoid funds going missing, especially in light of the recent 51 percent Attack on Ethereum Classic.
In response to this revelation, the management of Ethereum has scheduled an all-core-dev call for January 18, 2019, to decide what will be done about the issue.
Also, the launch of Constantinople has also been shifted from this week, with Schoedon saying, “We will decide (sic) further steps on Friday in the all-core-devs call. For now, it will not happen this week. Stay tuned for instructions.”
According to a press release from January 16, 2018, BitPay saw increased growth in 2018 including a 78 percent increase in workforce and a seven percent decrease in funds lost to error.
BitPay apparently had a very fruitful 2018 despite the bitcoin price slump in the later part of the year. According to a press release, the blockchain payment provider processed over a billion dollars in transactions in the last year, setting a new record for transaction fee revenue. On top of this, they also secured a number of high profile clients such as Dish Networks, HackerOne, and the state of Ohio.
Progress was also made with their B2B services with many businesses such as law firms, and IT vendors signing up with them, causing that arm of BitPay’s business to grow 255 percent.
Their administrative sector wasn’t left out and also underwent some big changes. Rolf Haag, Former Western Union and PayPal executive, was brought on board as Head of Industry Solutions for the B2B arm of BitPay.
On January 17, 2019, Digital Currency Group’s investment subsidiary, Grayscale Investments, announced the launch of the Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust, the first investment fund exclusively dedicated to the cryptocurrency Lumens (XLM).
The Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust is the ninth single-asset investment fund dedicated to cryptoassets that the management company has launched since introducing the Bitcoin Investment Trust back in 2013.
The Stellar Network was launched in 2014 by Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb and former lawyer Joyce Kim as an open-source, decentralized blockchain network for digital currency to fiat currency transfers to enable low-cost, high-speed cross-border money transfers. Since its launch, Stellar has grown into one of the most established cryptocurrency networks with a market capitalization of over $2 billion.
The Stellar Lumens Trust, whose inception date was December 6, 2018, currently has $400,000 of assets under management and tracks the market price of Lumens (XLM), minus fees and expenses. The annual fund management fee is 2.5 percent and only accredited and institutional investors are able to purchase shares in the fund, which is traded over-the-counter.
On January 16, 2019, R3 launched its Corda Network and announced the formation of the Corda Network Foundation which will manage its affairs.
According to the announcement, the network will be managed by its new non-profit body, the Corda Network Foundation.
The Corda Network will function as an open shared network, that will foster compatibility among network users and also “provides a common layer of identity and consensus for participants on Corda and Corda Enterprise.”
The Corda Network allows the transfer of data and digital assets between not only communities of nodes, but also CorDapps (Corda Distributed Applications). The advantage of this for users of the network is that they can create smaller ecosystems made up of their own trusted members and share information. They also enjoy the benefit of being part of the larger Corda Network.
Because a lot of sensitive information will be shared on the network, Corda offers identity verification and privacy services. By sharing through their network, duplication is avoided and the information is secure.
Applications can be easily designed for Corda and, its businesses-centric offshoot platform, Corda Enterprise.