The first month has ended, and 2018 has been an interesting year so far. Our prior weekly roundup had shown that cryptocurrency markets had risen to over $727 billion dollars. However, there’s been a healthy correction, and the general digital asset economy is now valued at $550Bn USD. In our last report bitcoin (BTC) was coasting along in the $16K range but now the price is roughly $8,300. Global exchanges are trading over $10B worth of BTC over the past 24-hours and traders are hoping for a healthy recovery over the next few months.
Coinmama's Weekly Roundup
South Korea Ends Anonymous Cryptocurrency Trading
The most prominent news over the past three week’s that has likely affected the price of bitcoin a great deal stems from South Korea. South Korean officials have been enforcing new regulations towards cryptocurrencies and have officially ended anonymous digital asset trading using mainland exchanges. This means all cryptocurrency traders must verify their identities with six major participating SK-based banks including Gwangju Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, Shinhan Bank, Hana Bank, Kookmin Bank, and Nonghyup Bank. The regional news outlet Yonhap reported, “opening cryptocurrency accounts have been banned for weeks while the banks have installed the system, which ensures only real-name bank accounts and matching accounts at cryptocurrency exchanges for deposits and withdrawals.”
Japanese Cryptocurrency Trading Platform Coincheck Hacked
This past week bitcoiners received some unfortunate news as Japan was hit with one of the biggest digital asset exchange hacks since Mt Gox in 2013. According to reports, Coincheck had lost roughly $400-534 million USD worth of a cryptocurrency called NEM. At around 3 am in the morning Japan time a hacker withdrew the trading platform’s entire stash of NEM in one single transaction. Coincheck’s press statements reveal the NEM was not kept in a ‘cold storage’ wallet and the funds remained in a ‘hot wallet.’ Over 200,000 customers lost balances, and Coincheck has promised to repay the victims back at $0.81 cents per NEM.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Announces the Country’s National Cryptocurrency Pre-Sale
It seems Venezuela will be the first nation state to create and adopt a national cryptocurrency. The oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro was announced a few months ago, but President Nicolás Maduro has revealed the currency’s white paper and pre-sale which will begin on February 20, 2018. “We have reached the future. Venezuela advances as an economic power,” explains President Nicolás Maduro. “Venezuela is at the forefront of the world, and we are going to accelerate permanently the start-up of the cryptocurrency, the petro.” The petro will be the first cryptocurrency issued by a government of this size and is sure to be a historic moment for the region.
Tech Giant Samsung Is Manufacturing Bitcoin Mining Hardware
The Korean-based tech giant Samsung is getting into the bitcoin mining economy in the near future according to a Samsung Electronics spokesperson. The company has been building a cutting-edge semiconductor ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) and has already started mass production. The current standard in most ASIC mining rigs today is a 16-nanometer chip, but Samsung’s semiconductor will use a 10-nanometer 16Gb GDDR6 DRAM that will be faster and improve performance by over 35 percent.
Japan’s Largest Electronics Retailer Goes Bitcoin
The most significant electronics retailer in Japan, Yamada Denki, has announced two stores will be accepting bitcoin in a trial. If everything works out the store will roll out bitcoin acceptance in all of its stores nationwide. The two Yamada Denki stores currently offering bitcoin acceptance are located in Tokyo. The deal was finalized with Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange Bitflyer who helped facilitate the agreement. Yamada Denki is extremely popular and offers cameras, kitchen appliances, computers, mobile phones, and more. Tokyo residents will be able to purchase these items in bitcoin at Yamada Denki today.
Hong Kong Offers ICO and Cryptocurrency Education
Officials from Hong Kong have launched an educational program to inform citizens about initial coin offerings (ICO) and general cryptocurrency investment vehicles. Hong Kong’s Treasury Bureau (FSTB), the Investor Education Centre (IEC), and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) have initiated the crypto-campaign. Joseph Chan, the FSTB’s undersecretary, states, "Through this series of public education initiatives, the government aims to provide the public with a correct and comprehensive understanding of ICOs and 'cryptocurrencies,' so that they can thoroughly assess the risks before making transactions or investment decisions.”
Overall the cryptocurrency ecosystem still has a lot of optimism and things to look forward to ahead. Currently, enthusiasts have been waiting on things like the Lightning Network, and Ethereum’s protocol will soon switch to a Proof-of-Stake consensus in the near future. Both decentralized currencies are still up well over 1000% since the last few months, and many cryptocurrency proponents expect another phenomenal year in 2018. However, proponents also are aware there's going to be a whole lot more regulation this year as well.