Bitcoin and cryptocurrency news round-up: 30 December 2017
What to know today
Ripple is continuing its surge to cement itself as the second biggest crypto, Venezuela is launching its own cryptocurrency, and a $US1 million Bitcoin ransom has been paid for a kidnapped crypto exchange boss.
1. Ripple is up over 50%
It looks like the market has finally noticed the deals that cryptocurrency Ripple has made with a few Asian companies that have now agreed to use the currency.
Ripple is up over 50% in the last 24 hours, hitting over US$2.40 and is now firmly ahead of Ethereum as the second-biggest cryptocurrency based on market value. Its market cap is currently sitting at around US$95 billion, while Ethereum is at US$73 billion.
2. Venezuela is launching an oil-backed cryptocurrency
Dubbed the "Petro", the South American country will be launching its own cryptocurrency sometime in the next couple of days and will be backing it with 5 billion barrels of oil. Venezuela's information minister Jorge Rodriguez said that those barrels at the current market price can support a currency with up to US$267 billion in total value. That's roughly US$20 billion more than the current market cap value of bitcoin.
The country believes that an oil-backed cryptocurrency will help Venezuela avoid attacks from the international finance system.
3. The kidnapped CEO of bitcoin exchange EXMO has been released
After being kidnapped earlier in the week in Ukraine, the CEO of EXMO finance Pavel Lerner was released after his kidnappers received roughly US$1 million worth of bitcoin. It's not known yet who paid the ransom for his release.
Lerner's EXMO exchange is based in London and currently has around 900,000 users, according to its website.
4. One Australian trader claims banks are freezing his accounts
Alex Saunders, a crypto trader and popular YouTube personality, is claiming four Australian banks, including NAB, ANZ, CBA and Westpac, have been freezing customer accounts and transfers to bitcoin exchanges. He believes that the banks have been monitoring transactions between Australian accounts and exchanges CoinJar, Coinbase, Coinspot and BTC Markets.
NAB, ANZ and CBA would not confirm or deny that they are suspending transactions to those exchanges. However, ANZ said that it does not prohibit customers buying digital currencies.
Earlier this month, popular crypto exchange Coinspot issued a statement saying it had put in a temporary restriction on all forms of AUD deposits until at least the first week of January to sort out issues with Australian banks.
5. There's a Facebook Messenger crypto mining virus being spread
Security company Trend Micro says it has discovered a new virus that can spread through Facebook Messenger and hijacks your computer to mine for altcoin Monero. The virus is called Digmine and is believed to have originated in South Korea.
It works by sending an executable script disguised as a video through Facebook Messenger. Once clicked, it sends the victim to a decoy video streaming site while it executes the malware in the background.
6. Russia is introducing ICO restrictions
Russia is restricting the amount of money local startups will be able to raise through ICOs, putting in a limit of US$17.3 million. The changes will take place sometime in July 2018. The country will also be putting a restriction on the amount of money unqualified traders can put into ICOs, capping it at 50,000 rubles (AUD$1100).
In one recent token sale, Moscow-based grocery startup INS Ecosystem raised over US$40 million, which would be more than twice the limit it could raise under the new cap.