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Exit scams and regulations disrupt global darknet markets

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A report published by blockchain forensics firm CipherTrace has detailed significant disruptions to the clandestine darknet marketplace sector following a spate of exit scams during recent months. 

Despite opportunities for new marketplaces to capture the users of the now-defunct platforms, CipherTrace notes the absence of a single platform dominating Western volume. It estimates that the Russian-focussed Hydra market is now the largest worldwide.

Hydra is estimated to have generated more than $1.2 billion in revenue between June 2019 and July 2020 despite exclusively servicing the Eastern European region.

While darknet marketplaces have historically been dominated by a small number of large players, CipherTrace reports the sector now appears to comprise a greater number of platforms commanding smaller respective user bases. The outfit is “currently monitoring over 35 active darknet markets.

The landscape has changed rapidly. Empire Market, a major darknet market launched in February 2018 that had attracted more than one million users as of January this year, went offline in August, abruptly disappearing with roughly $30 million of its users’ funds.

Many of the platform’s users quickly migrated to other marketplaces, Icarus Markets among the notable beneficiaries, but it also vanished within three weeks of Empire’s exit scam. CipherTrace believes Icarus’ exit was not planned, noting the platform “had been pushing high effort updates” shortly before going offline:

“It’s probable that the large influx of new users from Empire and their deposits made Icarus ripe for a profitable exit. As a result, the admins may have taken advantage of the opportunity and exited sooner than they had originally planned.”

CipherTrace noted that DeepSea market has been offline for more than one week, suggesting another rug-pull in the absence of an announced seizure from law enforcement. 

The report found that White House Market and DarkMarket are currently the largest platforms operating in the Western world, estimating that each has more than 300,000 users.

While CipherTrace believes White House Market’s user base grew by 50% after the recent exit scams, the platform’s “high security requirements tends to turn the average dark market user away,” and suggested DarkMarket will be preferred among less technologically-savvy users.

The firm also identified two new darknet markets launched during September — Lime Market and Invictus Market, which are believed to be operated by the former admins of DarkBay and Imperiya.

Despite the openings created by the recent exit scams, CipherTrace notes that Invictus’ growth has “slowed drastically” after adding the first 10,000 users, while Lime Market “appears to be a very small market and is not expected become a very notable enterprise.”

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/exit-scams-and-regulations-disrupt-global-darknet-markets

Blockchain

Respected Financial Historian Calls for Bitcoin Integration into U.S. Financial System

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Financial historian and Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Niall Ferguson, has penned a lengthy piece on Bitcoin which is getting noticed by the crypto community.

In it, the former Harvard and Oxford University professor commented on how the traditional naysayers and debunkers have softened their collective stances this year as the asset outperforms most other traditional investments.

Big Bitcoin Endorsements

The piece was re-tweeted a number of times, most recently by 10T Holdings co-founder Dan Tapiero who observed that this could garner huge attention. Of particular note were the comments on the integration of Bitcoin into the U.S. financial system;

“Rather than seeking to create a Chinese-style digital dollar, Joe Biden’s nascent administration should recognize the benefits of integrating Bitcoin into the U.S. financial system,”

Ferguson made additional references to China’s digital yuan adding that its potential for adoption for remittance payments or cross-border trade settlements is ‘substantial’.

The Bloomberg columnist had previously written on the virtues of Bitcoin stating that there are far fewer coins in circulation than there are millionaires on the planet.

“If millionaires collectively decided to hold just 1% of their wealth as Bitcoin, the price would be above $75,000 — higher, if adjustment is made for all the bitcoins that have been lost or hoarded.”

Big Names Paying Attention

He made reference to a number of big names in the financial world including Paul Tudor Jones, Stan Druckenmiller, Bill Miller, and even Ray Dalio that are now appearing to turn bullish. Even ardent Bitcoin detractors such as Peter Schiff and Nouriel Roubini, also mentioned in the article, have started to change their tune.

He added that adoption has much further to go, quoting Argentine-born tech investor Wences Casares who stated after ten years of working well without interruption, with close to 100 million holders, adding more than a million new holders per month and moving more than $1 billion per day worldwide;

“it has a 50% chance of hitting a price of $1 million per bitcoin in five to seven years’ time.”

The advantages of sovereignty and scarcity are obvious at a time when the supply of fiat money is exploding, Ferguson added, concluding that there was a clear demand for more privacy when it comes to a payment system that will inevitably replace cash.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/respected-financial-historian-calls-for-bitcoin-integration-into-u-s-financial-system/

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Blockchain

Further Declines in Bitcoin Price Possible Though Grayscale is Crucial, Notes JPM Analyst

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Although Bitcoin has recovered from its vigorous price losses during the Thanksgiving massacre, analysts from JPMorgan Chase & Co believe that further declines may still occur.

The strategists pointed out that Grayscale, through its Bitcoin Trust, will play a significant role in future BTC price developments.

Is Bitcoin To Head Further South?

The primary cryptocurrency reached a new yearly high of $19,500 last week; thus, it came less than 3% away from the 2017 all-time high of $20,000. As the community began speculating on how long it will take to surpass that level, the trend reversed viciously.

Bitcoin headed south and lost over $3,000 of value in hours. Nevertheless, the cryptocurrency has recovered most of its losses and trades north of $18,000.

A JPM analysis, led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, recently said that the Thanksgiving price drops had cleared the “previous froth in momentum traders’ positioning.” However, the strategists hinted that Bitcoin could still go lower.

“Momentum traders such as commodity trading advisors and other quantitative funds likely played a big role in the slide by unwinding long Bitcoin futures positions. Momentum traders have room to further propagate” the Bitcoin decline, noted the analysts cited by Bloomberg.

Apart from broaching “momentum traders,” the strategists also discussed various other reasons behind the price developments. Those included the rumors of new regulations proposed by the Trump administration and profit-taking.

Grayscale Is Key

The JPM strategists also highlighted the significant role of Grayscale and its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust on the market. The cryptocurrency manager is the most preferred company for institutional investors to receive exposure to Bitcoin (and other digital assets) without worrying about storing the funds.

This has been exemplified through 2020 as Grayscale has reported back-to-back recording-breaking quarterly results. The assets under management (AUM) have exploded in the past 12 months to over $10 billion. Somewhat expectedly, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust has the most substantial share.

The analysts asserted that if there’s a decline in the interest towards GBTC, this could damage the narrative that Bitcoin has become a favorite among institutional investors:

“A failure by the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to receive additional inflows over the coming weeks would also cast doubt to the idea that institutional investors such as family offices have embarked on a trend of embracing Bitcoin as digital gold replacing traditional gold as a long-term investment.”

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/further-declines-in-bitcoin-price-possible-though-grayscale-is-crucial-notes-jpm-analyst/

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Blockchain

Bitcoin Breaks New All-Time Highs Targeting $23,000

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The information on or accessed through this website is obtained from independent sources we believe to be accurate and reliable, but Decentral Media, Inc. makes no representation or warranty as to the timeliness, completeness, or accuracy of any information on or accessed through this website. Decentral Media, Inc. is not an investment advisor. We do not give personalized investment advice or other financial advice. The information on this website is subject to change without notice. Some or all of the information on this website may become outdated, or it may be or become incomplete or inaccurate. We may, but are not obligated to, update any outdated, incomplete, or inaccurate information.

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Source: https://cryptobriefing.com/bitcoin-breaks-new-all-time-highs-targeting-23000/

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