Daily Byte: Thursday, November 15, 2018


Bitcoin Cash splits, IBM targets Thailand, crypto malware infests the Google Play Store, crypto Ponzi scheme busted in Japan, and accountants claim that ‘institutionalization’ is crypto’s only hope.

Here is some of what is happening, for Thursday, November 15, 2018:

Bitcoin Cash to Split Today

Bitcoin Cash, the most popular of the Bitcoin forks, is undergoing a hard fork of its own today. The split is expected to produce incompatible, competing versions of Bitcoin Cash.

The fight over Bitcoin Cash pits Bitcoin ABC against a faction led by Craig Wright, who became infamous when he claimed to be the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. The hard fork came to represent the growing power struggle that is developing in the Bitcoin Cash community.

Bitcoin ABC has introduced smart contracts and oracles to its Bitcoin Cash implementation, giving it the capability to support decentralized applications. Wright’s implementation, developed by Wright’s research firm, nChain, would increase the block size from 32 MB to a maximum of 128 MB.

Eight Arrested in Japanese Crypto Ponzi Scheme

The Asahi Shimbun is reporting that Tokyo police arrested eight men for running a pyramid scheme that allegedly collected about 7.8 billion yen ($68 million) in crypto assets from 6,000 individuals. The men are charged with violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law by not registering their business with regulators.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department believed that the men attempted to get away with the scam by using cryptocurrency, which is less regulated than fiat currency. The men were caught when they attempted to solicit investments from a group of nine people. The nine, who filed a complaint, were made to believe they were working with an American investment firm that would buy bitcoin on their behalf.

The scammers promised returns on investment between three and 20 percent, depending on the size of the initial investment, with greater returns promised for bringing in new investors. A lawsuit against the men from a group of 73 victims seeks about 370 million yen in damages.

IBM Thailand Seeks to Turn Thailand into Regional Sales Hub Using AI and Blockchain

The Bangkok Post is reporting that IBM Thailand is moving toward making itself a “digital transformation partner” for Thailand. To do this, the Thailand branch of the computing giant has announced that it will use blockchain technology and its Watson AI to help promote the digitalization of local businesses and to make Thailand a sales hub for the Indochina subregion.

IBM is planning to promote blockchain in collaboration with the Bank of Thailand. However, IBM is also considering the possibility of sponsoring blockchain education in Thailand’s local schools and universities to prime the future workforce to engage with blockchain technology. At the same time, IBM will be using Watson, its adaptive natural language question-answering artificial intelligence platform, to find insight in industry verticals such as retail, education, finance, and energy.

This corresponds with other blockchain efforts from the Thai government. In October, the Thai Ministry of Commerce indicated that it started feasibility studies in the use of blockchain in copyright protection, trade finance, and agriculture. In November, the Thai Revenue Department announced it would start tracking tax payments using AI and blockchain.

Crypto Malware Discovered on Google Play Store

In a blog post published by security researcher Lukas Stefanko, several apps available for download from the Google Play Store have been found to be malware. These apps were masquerading as wallets for NEO and Tether; another was a fake MetaMask app.

The MetaMask wallet was a phishing wallet. Once installed, it would have asked the user for his/her private key and wallet address and quietly transmitted it to the scammers. The NEO and Tether wallets were fake wallets, which would have shown the public key of the scammer’s wallet instead of that of a new wallet. Any coins deposited to these wallets would be sent directly to the scammer. The apps have since been reported and removed by Google.

Most alarmingly, however, is that these apps were made with AppyBuilder, a freeware drag-and-drop app builder that requires no programming skills from the app creator. This means that these types of scam apps can be easily made and loaded to the Play Store.

It is recommended that – before adding funds to a wallet –your private key can be found on the app and that it is correct. Also, you should make a small test transaction to ensure that the transaction went through as expected.

Big Four Accounting Firm KPMG Says Crypto Not Ready for Primetime

In a new report, “Big Four” accounting firm KPMG claims that cryptocurrencies – including bitcoin – are not ready to be classified as currency and that using them as such is foolish. KPMG claims the only road forward for mass adoption of cryptocurrency is “institutionalization.”

KPMG defines “institutionalization” as “the at-scale participation in the crypto market of banks, broker dealers, exchanges, payment providers, fintechs, and other entities in the global financial services ecosystem.” The firm argues that while crypto can be a unit of account – a needed component of the traditional definition of currency – it fails as a store of value. The volatility of crypto pricing makes it unusable, per KPMG, for traditional financial operations, such as lending.

The way forward for crypto may be the global payments market, says Constance Hunter, an author of the report and KPMG’s chief economist:

“If a crypto could achieve enough stability of value to be used for this purpose, it could eliminate the need to have bank accounts in multiple countries and could allow individuals to transfer money to anyone without paying wire fees. If a fully equipped crypto that has a stable value becomes easier and less expensive to transact than a government-issued fiat currency, it could be an innovation that becomes ubiquitous in the global financial services system.”

Be fast, be clever, be wise. Most importantly, be here tomorrow for your Daily Byte.


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