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Researchers Find New Way for Criminals to Launder Money Using Bitcoin

Criminals could use “Exclusive mining” to pass off their money laundering as Bitcoin mining income.

Republished by Plato



In brief

  • Exclusive mining could be used to launder Bitcoin.
  • It works by only allowing certain miners to process transaction fees.
  • It could also be used to start a whole industry around exclusive mining.

Researchers at the Blockchain Research Lab in Hamburg have outlined a new way to launder money on the blockchain: “Exclusive mining.” 

Here’s how exclusive mining works, according to the paper by Dr. Elias Strehle of the Blockchain Research Lab and Lennar Ante of the University of Hamburg, published on Friday: 

Someone places a transaction through a private channel and gives a single miner, or mining pool, the exclusive right to confirm that transaction and earn cryptocurrency as a reward. These are added to the blockchain, just like regular transactions. 

This is different from what usually happens: if someone makes a Bitcoin transfer, everyone on the network can take a shot at mining it to earn their reward of Bitcoin. 

Strehle told Decrypt that he is not the first to come up with the concept, but that his research is the first time it has been described in an academic paper.

How could exclusive mining be used by criminals?

So, how can the technology, as the paper mentions, be used for “camouflaging wealth transfers as transaction costs to evade taxes or launder money”?

Imagine that you’re a darknet drug baron and you need to launder your millions of Bitcoin. You send some Bitcoin to an exclusive miner—that you control—and get that miner to charge an absurdly high transaction fee.

Then the exclusive miner takes the Bitcoin they received as a reward for processing this expensive transaction to a cryptocurrency exchange and swaps it for fiat currency. It looks legitimate since it’s income earned from Bitcoin mining. Then the exclusive miner gives the fiat currency to the mafia boss. 

And the money trail disappears. 

The researchers say that exclusive mining is pretty difficult to detect and can’t easily be solved—it is here to stay. 

But is it likely to be used by money launderers? 

“I have not come across [it],” Rich Sanders, CEO of blockchain investigations firm CipherBlade, told Decrypt.

“I’ve come across mining services as a laundering methodology, but it is FAR less technically complex—it’s more like a deposit to [mining pool] NiceHash, which, from a functional perspective, will be equivalent to a deposit at an exchanger (trading one coin for another for chain-hopping),” he said, adding that it’s an “interesting” technique but one more likely to be employed by sophisticated users. “This isn’t going to be a route, say, a divorcee is going to use—at least, not now. It’s way too technical, so unless someone makes a turnkey solution, I doubt we’ll see much of it.” 

Legitimate uses for exclusive mining

There are other, legitimate uses for exclusive mining, said Strehle. It opens up a whole new market for private mining: Imagine if you paid a miner a flat fee to process your transaction to get around volatile mining costs or to ensure that none of your miners go rogue and try and mess with the blockchain.

“My gut feeling is that this will become more and more important as block rewards go down on Bitcoin and Ethereum and miners will increasingly have to find other ways of securing their income,” said Strehle. Becoming the exclusive miner of an exchange could be good for business. 



Crypto Exchange Mistakenly Sold Bitcoin for $6,000: Now Requests Users To Return It

Republished by Plato



What started out as a normal trading day for some PDAX customers led to a favorable turn of fortune, or so it seemed. Their euphoria may have been short-lived by a harsh reality check as the Philippine-based exchange prepares to take legal actions.

Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) suffered a flaw that led to bitcoin trading 88% below its actual price. The exchange reported that a surge in trading activity was the cause. At the time, bitcoin was trading north of $50k, but traders were able to scoop some for $6k.

Although PDAX halted operations to fix the glitch, it was a bit too late by then. Some users capitalized on the loophole and withdrew bitcoins out of the exchange.

To avert the massive loss, PDAX has asked traders to return its bitcoin or risk facing legal proceedings. Many users claim to have received messages to this effect.

It remains unclear how the legal proceedings will play for PDAX, with users rightly pointing out that traders’ actions are within the agreed terms and conditions.

Bitcoin Whale Responsible For Glitch?

Large volume transactions have become the order of the day as bitcoin whales step up activity. Their mass transactions often indicate strong bullish signals unless they get hooked while at it.

Reports surfacing on social media led to strong suggestions that the entire fiasco occurred due to an error by a bitcoin whale. who allegedly sold 316,000 BTC for PHP 300k (about $6100) instead of the actual price of PHP 2.3 million ($47,000). This prompted PDAX to cease trading activity and temporarily shut out users.

Users Outraged By Inability To Access Accounts

PDAX’s attempt to control the situation turned out to be counterproductive as it sparked outrage from many users on social media. The downtime, which lasted for 36 hours, left customers furious as they could not access their accounts.

They expressed frustration due to missed trading opportunities and accrued losses from not being able to close positions.

PDAX Clears The Air

PDAX eventually released a comprehensive report addressing the issue. It claimed that an “isolated unfunded order” infiltrated its system and affected the account of its users. It explained further that it had tracked and rectified the glitch and was in the process of fully restoring users’ accounts.

Speaking in a press conference, PDAX CEO Nichel Gaba said:

“It’s very understandable that a lot of users will feel upset they were able to buy what they thought an order was there for Bitcoin at very low prices. But unfortunately, the underlying Bitcoins were never in the possession of the exchange, so there’s never really anything there to be bought or sold, unfortunately.”

The BSP-licensed exchanged assured users that it will continue addressing their concerns and rendering support where necessary.

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Here’s how the Purpose Bitcoin ETF differs from Grayscale’s GBTC Trust

Republished by Plato



Since 2017, investors have been anxiously awaiting a Bitcoin ETF approval as the existence of such a fund was an important symbol of mass adoption and acceptance from the realm of traditional finance. 

On Feb. 18, the Toronto Stock Exchange hosted the official launch of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF and the fund quickly absorbed more than $333 million in market capitalization in just two days.

Now that the long-awaited Bitcoin ETF is here, investors are curious about how it will compete with Grayscale Investments GBTC fund. On Feb. 17, Ark Investment Management founder and CEO Cathie Wood said the likelihood that U.S. regulators will approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund has gone up.

Although exchange-traded funds (ETF) and exchange-traded notes (ETN) sound quite similar, there are fundamental differences in trading, risks, and taxation.

What is an exchange-traded fund?

An ETF is a security type that holds underlying investments such as commodities, stocks, or bonds. It often resembles a mutual fund, as it is pooled and managed by its issuer.

ETFs have become a $7.7 trillion industry, growing by 65% in the last two years alone.

The most recognizable example is the SPY, a fund that tracks the S&P 500 index, currently managed by State Street. Invesco’s QQQ is another EFT that tracks U.S.-based large-capitalization technology companies.

More exotic structures are available, such as the ProShares UltraShort Bloomberg Crude Oil ($SCO). Using derivatives products, this fund aims to offer two times the daily short leverage on oil prices.

What is an exchange-traded note?

Exchange-traded notes (ETN) are similar to an ETF in that trading occurs using traditional brokers. Still, the difference is an ETN is a debt instrument issued by a financial institution. Even if the fund has a redemption program, the credit risk relies entirely on its issuer.

For example, after Lehman Brothers imploded in 2008, it took ETN investors more than a decade to recoup the investment.

On the other hand, buying an ETF gives one direct ownership of its contents, creating different taxation events when holding futures contracts and leveraging positions. Meanwhile, ETNs are taxed exclusively upon sale.

GBTC does not offer conversion or redemption

Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust Fund (GBTC) is the absolute leader in the cryptocurrency market, with $35 billion in assets under management.

Investment trusts are structured as companies — at least in regulatory form — and are ‘closed-end funds.’ Thus, the number of shares available is limited and the supply and demand for them largely determines their price.

Investment trust funds are regulated by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), therefore outside the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authority.

GBTC shares cannot easily be created, neither is there an active redemption program in place. This tends to generate significant price discrepancies from its Net Asset Value, which is the underlying BTC fraction represented.

An ETF, on the other hand, allows the market maker to create and redeem shares at will. Therefore, a premium or discount is usually unlikely if enough liquidity is in place.

An ETF instrument is far more acceptable to mutual fund managers and pension funds as it carries much less risk than a closed-ended trust like GBTC. Retail investors may not have been aware of the possibility that GBTC trades below net assets value. Thus the recent event might further pressure investors to move their position to the Canadian ETF.

To sum up, an ETF product carries a significantly less risk due to greater transparency and the possibility to redeem shares in the case of shares trading at a discount.

Nevertheless, the impressive GBTC market capitalization clearly states that institutional investors are already on board.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.


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Top 5 cryptocurrencies to watch this week: BTC, BNB, DOT, XEM, MIOTA

Republished by Plato



Bitcoin (BTC) price has been correcting in the past few days and traders are curious to know whether this is a minor pullback or the start of a deeper decline. The problem is that no one has a crystal ball and analysts can only point to critical support levels that may hold based on historical data and evidence. 

However, in a bear phase, the price tends to slip below key support levels as traders panic and sell out of fear, similar to how the price exceeds the upside targets during a bull run as traders buy due to FOMO.

March has historically been a weak month for Bitcoin, which suggests seasonal traders may prefer to wait and watch rather than jump to buy on dips. This lack of demand may be one of the reasons for the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust premium dipping into the negative over the past week.

Crypto market data daily view. Source: Coin360

However, not all the data is bearish. On Feb. 26, Moskovski Capital CEO Lex Moskovski pointed out that Bitcoin miners positions turned positive on Feb. 26 for the first time since Dec. 27. Adding to this, CryptoQuant CEO Ki Young Ju said the large Coinbase outflows in the past few days suggest that institutions are still accumulating at lower levels.

This data seems to be inconclusive and does not provide an immediate picture of whether the advantage is with the bulls or the bears. Let’s study the charts of the top-5 cryptocurrencies that may outperform in the next few days.


Bitcoin has broken below the 20-day exponential moving average ($47,441), which is the first indication of the start of a deeper correction. The next critical support is the 50-day simple moving average at $41,066. The price has not closed below this support since Oct. 9, hence the level assumes significance.

BTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The bulls are likely to defend the 50-day SMA aggressively. If the price rebounds off this support and rises above the 20-day EMA, it will suggest the sentiment remains bullish and traders are buying on dips.

However, the flat moving averages and the relative strength index (RSI) just below the midpoint suggest the bulls are losing their grip.

If the bears sink the price below the 50-day SMA, it will indicate that supply exceeds demand and traders are booking profits in a hurry. Such a move could pull the price down to the Feb. 8 intraday low of $38,000.

A break below this support will be a huge negative as the next support is at $32,000 and then $28,850.

BTC/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The downsloping 20-EMA and the RSI in the negative zone suggest that bears are in control. The price is now approaching the critical support at $41,959.63.

If the price rebounds off this support, the bulls will try to push the price above the 20-EMA. If they succeed, it will suggest that bulls are accumulating the dips aggressively. The BTC/USD pair may then rise to the 50-SMA and then $52,000.

Conversely, if the $41,959.63 support breaks and the bears flip it to resistance, then a deeper correction is likely.


Binance Coin (BNB) has been in a corrective phase since Feb. 20, which shows that traders are booking profits after the sharp up-move on Feb. 19. However, the pace of the fall has been gradual since Feb. 25, indicating that traders are not panicking.

BNB/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The price has currently dropped to the 20-day EMA ($194) where the buyers may step in. If the price rebounds off this support and breaks above the downtrend line, the BNB/USD pair may again attract buying from short-term traders. That could push the price to $280 and then to $300.

The 20-day EMA has flattened out and the RSI is just above the midpoint, indicating a balance between supply and demand. However, if the bears sink and sustain the price below the 20-day EMA, it will suggest that supply exceeds demand, The pair could then correct to $167.3691 and then $118.

BNB/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 4-hour chart shows the formation of a descending triangle pattern that will complete on a breakdown and close below $189. If that happens, it will suggest that the top is in place and the pair could then drop to $118.

Conversely, if the bulls defend the support at $189, it will suggest that the sentiment remains positive as the bulls are buying on dips to strong support levels. A breakout and close above the downtrend line will invalidate the bearish setup and that may result in a rally to $280.


Polkadot (DOT) is correcting in an uptrend. The long tail on the Feb. 23 and Feb. 26 candlestick suggests that the bulls are attempting to defend the 20-day EMA ($30.49). However, the long wick on the rebound on Feb. 27 shows that demand dries up at higher levels.

DOT/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The 20-day EMA is flattening out and the RSI is dropping towards the center, which suggests the bullish momentum is weakening. However, during the recent bull run, the DOT/USD pair has repeatedly taken support at the 20-day EMA.

If the price again rebounds off the 20-day EMA and the bulls push the price above $35.6618, the pair may retest the all-time high at $42.2848. A break above this resistance could result in a rally to $50.

This bullish view will invalidate if the bears sink the price below the 20-day EMA and the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level at $25.7817. If that happens, the pair may drop to the 50-day SMA ($22.33). 

DOT/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 4-hour chart shows the price is currently trading inside a symmetrical triangle. If the bears can sink the price below the support line of the triangle, the pair could drop to $25.7817 and then to the pattern target at $18.70.

The downsloping 20-EMA and the RSI in the negative territory suggest a minor advantage to the bears in the short term. But if the price rebounds off the current level, the bulls will try to push the price above the triangle. If they succeed, the pair may rise to $42.2848.


The bulls defended the 20-day EMA ($0.475) on Feb. 26, which shows that the sentiment remains positive and traders are buying on dips. The bulls are currently attempting to resume the uptrend in NEM (XEM).

XEM/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The upsloping moving averages and the RSI above 63 suggest the path of least resistance is to the upside. If the bulls can drive the price above $0.5051, the XEM/USD pair could rally to $0.7637. A breakout of this resistance could open the doors for an up-move to $0.9607.

Contrary to this assumption, if the price turns down from $0.5051, the pair may consolidate for a few days before starting the next trending move. A break and close below the 20-day EMA will suggest the start of a deeper correction.

XEM/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 4-hour chart shows the price is stuck between $0.439 and $0.63 for the past few days. Both moving averages are sloping up marginally and the RSI is just above the midpoint, which suggests a minor advantage to the bulls.

If the bulls can propel the price above $0.63, the pair may rally to $0.763 and then to $0.821. On the contrary, if the price breaks below the moving averages, the pair may drop to the $0.439 support. If this support also cracks, the correction may extend to $0.346 and then to $0.277.


MIOTA has been in a corrective phase since topping out at $1.554775 on Feb. 19. While the pullback has been sharp, the positive sign is that the bulls have been successfully defending the 20-day EMA ($1.09) for the past few days.

MIOTA/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The 20-day EMA has flattened out and the RSI is also trading just above the midpoint, indicating a balance between supply and demand. Attempts by the bulls and the bears to assert their supremacy have failed in the past few days.

This equilibrium may tilt in favor of the bulls if they can push and sustain the price above the overhead resistance at $1.30. In such a case, the MIOTA/USD pair may rally to $1.554775.

On the other hand, if the bears sink the price below $0.90, a fall to the 50-day SMA ($0.74) is possible.

MIOTA/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 4-hour chart shows the formation of a symmetrical triangle, which generally acts as a continuation pattern. Both moving averages are gradually turning down and the RSI is in the negative territory, indicating advantage to the bears.

The pair has broken below the support line of the triangle but the bulls are attempting to arrest the decline and push the price back into the triangle. If they succeed, it will suggest buying at lower levels. The bulls will gain the upper hand after the pair sustains above the triangle.

However, if the price turns down from the current levels, it may signal the start of a deeper correction.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.


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