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Terrorists still raise money through crypto, but the impact is limited

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We’re living today “amidst an explosion of risk related to fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, and data privacy,” said United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in February — and she specifically cited cryptocurrencies as a “tool to finance terrorism.”

Yellen appeared to be flagging an important new turn in the war against terror, and it begged some questions: Is crypto in the hands of terrorists a real, present danger to governments and society? If so, should the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry be worried?

Recent evidence suggests that crypto’s role as an enabler of terrorism globally remains relatively minor. “Cryptocurrencies have been used in several terror finance cases, but it has not yet become a primary means of terror financing,” Matthew Levitt, director of the Jeanette and Eli Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Cointelegraph.

Gina Pieters, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago, told Cointelegraph: “Her [Yellen’s] statement is factually true — it is a tool.” But Yellen also chose her words carefully. “She did not say it was a major tool — she specifically said it was a growing one. And that is also true, as cryptocurrencies grow they will be used in more criminal activities.”

Increasing apprehensions about crypto?

Dave Jevans, CEO of CipherTrace, expressed some unease about the treasury secretary’s remarks. “If leaders like Janet Yellen set a fearful attitude toward cryptocurrencies associated with criminality, regulators could take harsh action to impose more strict rules on cryptocurrency transactions that may not be warranted,” he told Cointelegraph, adding: “Such action, like the blanket cryptocurrency ban in India, would greatly inhibit mass adoption and innovation in the space.”

“I think she wanted to raise the issue and put it on people’s radar,” remarked Levitt, who added that misuse of cryptocurrencies looms as more of a geopolitical concern with regard to states trying to evade Western political sanctions — like Russia, Iran or Venezuela — than with would-be terrorists.

Still, it doesn’t take much money to finance a terrorist act, so any help that Bitcoin (BTC) or other cryptocurrencies provide to terrorist groups that are trying to obscure their funding sources remains a worry. For that reason, Jesse Spiro, chief of government affairs at Chainalysis, told Cointelegraph that Yellen wasn’t exactly exaggerating the threat. That said, “Terrorism financing represents an incredibly small portion of cryptocurrency transactions.” In 2020, Chainalysis traced just 37.35 Bitcoin that went toward terrorism financing, or “a mere 0.00324 per cent of the overall illicit activity,” he said.

Crypto becoming more important for terror groups?

In August 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice seized the cryptocurrency accounts of three Middle East-based terrorist financing operations. This was the “largest ever seizure of terrorist organizations’ cryptocurrency accounts,” according to the DoJ. “It is a fact that jihadi groups, led by ISIS and Al-Qaeda, have been using cryptocurrency for years,” Steven Stalinsky, executive director at the Middle East Media Research Institute, told Cointelegraph. “Following the fall of ISIS’s caliphate, it quickly became even more important for them.”

In its daily monitoring of jihadi groups online, MEMRI sees groups and individuals discussing the use of different cryptocurrencies, “But this use has not recently developed to the extreme proportions that it could have and still might,” said Stalinsky. “Any arrests and public news of jihadis using cryptocurrency has so far led to the companies acting to shut down these and related accounts, and this seems to be creating a balance to curb the problem.”

A 2019 Rand Corporation study noted that “No current cryptocurrency can address all of the terrorist organizations’ financial needs” — which include anonymity, usability, security, reliability and acceptance — but cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, “particularly with improved usability, could be appealing to use in fundraising, and some evidence is emerging that terrorist organizations might be using cryptocurrencies for this purpose.” It is critical for such groups to be able to receive money from donors, beyond the gaze of governments.

In an intelligence brief, Chainalysis noted that advertisements and messages from BitcoinTransfer, a Syrian-based cryptocurrency exchange that has been publicly cited as being run by jihadis, “often emphasize security and anonymity, as well as its ability to facilitate transfers from European countries without submitting identification documents or ‘exposing your friend or family to danger.’”

Bitcoin, the world’s oldest and largest blockchain network, isn’t really anonymous, as Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups discovered with the DoJ’s August 2020 takedown. Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security Investigations and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents tracked and seized all 150 crypto accounts that laundered funds to and from the al-Qassam Brigades’ accounts, for instance. The group had advertised that its Bitcoin donations were untraceable and would be used for militant activities.

Ditching BTC for Monero and Zcash?

Perhaps as a result of the disruption to the three cyber-enabled jihadi campaigns, reports have surfaced recently that terrorist groups are moving from BTC to other cryptocurrencies, including privacy coins like Monero (XMR) and Zcash (ZEC), that are more difficult to trace.

“BTC has always been the most popular and is the most well known,” Stalinsky told Cointelegraph, but others, including Monero and Zcash, are also being used by terror groups. Jevans added:

“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are still easier to trace than cash, but privacy coins […] certainly make the jobs of law enforcement more challenging.”

Still, privacy coins, even if they are better at obfuscating transactions, “haven’t been adopted to the extent that one may expect,” Spiro told Cointelegraph. This is mainly because they lack liquidity. In 2020, several crypto exchanges, under pressure from regulators, began delisting privacy coins, so accessibility has become an issue for aspiring terrorists. “Cryptocurrency is only useful if you can buy and sell goods and services or cash out into fiat, and that is much more difficult with privacy coins,” explained Spiro.

Upsurge in Western countries

If one accepts that crypto use isn’t exploding among terrorist groups, is it at least growing? “Cryptocurrency adoption is growing everywhere, including among domestic and international terrorist groups,” answered Jevans, while Spiro highlighted: “We have seen evidence of them using cryptocurrency to pay for online infrastructure that facilitates recruitment and propaganda.”

The MEMRI Domestic Terrorism Threat Monitor, which focuses on terrorist groups in the U.S. and other Western countries, has seen an upsurge in the use of and references to cryptocurrencies — “very much like what happened with jihadis a few years ago,” said Stalinsky. He added:

“[U.S.] Domestic terrorist groups follow closely what jihadi groups have done online, whether in migrating to other platforms, using encryption technology, or using and promoting cryptocurrency.”

Stalinsky continued: “After the events of January 6, when the U.S. Capitol building was stormed by extremist groups, there is more pressure to go after these groups’ fundraising online. A year ago it was common to see many of these individuals, groups, and organizations openly using mainstream banking platforms, from major credit card companies to regular banks, Apple Pay, PayPal, and other platforms.”

But they have now been largely forced off these platforms, he added, and need to raise funds — “whether for recruitment, solicitation of support, or sales of merchandise such as books and clothing lines — through cryptocurrency wallets, which they are all using and promoting.” Bitcoin remains the favored cryptocurrency among these groups, though Monero is also popular, he said.

When asked about the particular attraction that cryptocurrencies hold for terrorists, Pieters answered: “It is the ability to move a large value of funds without physical transportation, along with the relative speed and low risk compared to other digital alternatives.”

Should the blockchain industry itself be worried about such nefarious uses of cryptocurrencies? After all, it could further blacken the industry’s image, undoing progress toward bringing blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies into the economic and societal mainstream. According to Spiro:

“Bad actors are often early adopters of new technologies, and cryptocurrency is no exception. The difference with crypto, though, is that it can actually be harnessed by law enforcement to follow the money.”

Cryptocurrencies are widely thought to be anonymous and untraceable, but they actually “operate on public, transparent blockchains,” Spiro continued. “We’ve found that once lawmakers, regulators, and law enforcement agencies understand this, they find that crypto can actually help, not harm, their missions to weed out illicit activity.”

Antonio Fatás, professor of economics at INSEAD, told Cointelegraph that in recent decades, many Western nations have put in place strict regulations to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. “Cryptocurrencies have been left out of these regulations partly because they were small, partly because it is not always easy to implement this regulation to decentralized forms of money.” But it is now clear that this exclusion will not be allowed much longer, said Fatás. Industry players will need to comply.

All in all, any funds that go toward funding terrorism on a blockchain network should be of concern to government and society, as well as the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, even if the gross amounts still aren’t large.

There is a silver lining in all this, though. “The good news is that cryptocurrency is inherently transparent,” said Spiro, whose firm, Chainalysis, assisted the DoJ in disrupting the previously mentioned Middle Eastern terror-financing operations in August 2020. “With the right tools, law enforcement can trace that activity,” he concluded.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/terrorists-still-raise-money-through-crypto-but-the-impact-is-limited

Blockchain

TrustSwap Launchpad hosts token offering for RegTech platform Sekuritance

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Sekuritance, a CeFi/DeFi ecosystem delivering compliance, regulatory, transaction monitoring, and identity management solutions, is collaborating with TrustSwap, a full-service blockchain asset platform, to support the execution of its SKRT token offering starting on May 8th, 2021 at 9:00 AM PST.

Introducing Sekuritance

The cryptocurrency economy has taken the world by storm and it is here to stay. Just like traditional finance, the risk of fraud, misuse, abuse also exists in the crypto space. Due to the decentralized and semi-anonymous nature of blockchain, these factors can be compounded resulting in hesitation of adoption by financial regulators and banking institutions. While there may not yet be a bulletproof solution, there are ways to mitigate risk and potential losses, and blacklisting.

Most people who are active in the DeFi space are also using some form of traditional banking service (credit cards, bank accounts, mortgage/insurance payments, retail commerce, etc.). When crypto proceeds start moving between these realms, the banks and regulators want to know where the money came from, whether it has been declared or taxed effectively, whether it has passed through unauthorized darknet services, and so many more questions needing specific answers. In the event that any of the above questions result negatively, the traditional finance ecosystem is most likely to reject the onboarding or the use of those proceeds to pass through their networks.

The Sekuritance RegTech Suite addresses this by making available specific services and modules to address the various regulatory and compliance requirements.

Sekuritance recognizes that there are many jurisdictional challenges in the RegTech niche so, rather than competing with other software-as-a-service providers in the RegTech industry, they are invited to make their API offerings available also through the Sekuritance Partner Marketplace so that merchants and individuals around the world can enjoy an All-In-One RegTech Gateway.

Sekuritance Ecosystem

The Sekuritance ecosystem is comprised of 8 main products:

1. Sekur.Vault (Data Tokenisation Vault)

Sekur.Vault is a unique omni-vault, audited to the highest level of industry security standards and tweaked to not only store what is commonly referred to as “Rubbish In, Rubbish Out” but to add value to the output upon retrieval by cross-consumption of the other Sekuritance modules such as BIN checks, KYC checks, AML checks and more.

The platform’s robust and simple to use API set and dedicated user interface allows the secure storage of Card Data (Debit, Credit, Alternate); Crypto Wallet Private & Public Keys; Sensitive Personal Data; Confidential Corporate Data; KYC, KYB Related Data; Transaction Data for BI and AI and more.

2. Sekur.MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication)

This omni-auth module caters primarily to 3D Secure services for the traditional card payment industry. Development has also started for an on-chain decentralized identity management and claiming process. Our own unique acquirer-agnostic 3D Solution allows merchants to validate and process 3D checks (both versions 1 and 2) before taking payment.

3. Sekur.Connect (RegTech Marketplace)

The Sekuritance RegTech SekurSuite platform is a powerful toolkit on its own but trying to stay ahead of all the global jurisdictions, updates to regulations and policies, AML guidelines, etc. is a mammoth task. So, rather than try to outsmart all the other valuable and recognized players in the industry, Sekuritance is creating a RegTech marketplace where software-as-a-service providers and developers can showcase their solutions and participate in the SKRT token economy.

4. Sekur.Alert

Sekur.Alert functionality connects to specialized datasets to help keep our customers safe and help them ensure that they are doing business with wallets and identities of good standing. To help grow this dataset, the crypto community is invited to report any fraudulent activity to Sekuritance so that the whole community can be better protected. Every new unique and verified report gets to participate in the SKRT Loyalty and Reward program.

5. Sekur.Transact

KYC, KYB, KYT, AML, Sanction Screening, and other rule engine applications are all available on the Sekuritance platform. Businesses and institutions can use these tools to identify who customers are and their eligibility for specific product offerings. They can use the Sekuritance RegTech platform to get transaction and IP “Risk Scores” and sub-scores as well as other data in order to prevent fraud and abuse.

7. Sekur.Trace

The anonymity of cryptocurrencies is a myth. Very few mixing services can outwit modern de-anonymization technologies for Bitcoin tracking and other cryptocurrency alternatives. No one has a clear understanding of how fast the RegTech niche will be evolving but one thing beyond question — regulation of the cryptocurrency space will tighten and all will have to accept the new rules and play by them.

Sekuritance strives to become one of the leading vendors of RegTech solutions for the crypto and fiat industry and believes that the openness of financial data on blockchains will be a driver for regulatory institutions to reinforce control. With a powerful blockchain analytics toolset like Sekuritance, regulatory bodies could end money laundering and make financial reporting easy and transparent.

8. Sekur.Certify

The Sekuritance Sekur.Certify Blockchain Wallet Verification service allows for a user to claim controlling power certification on a particular wallet once a number of actions would have been performed, KYC & AML checks confirmed and crypto investigation on the wallet completed.

Details of Sekuritance Token Offering

The Sekuritance token offering will be executed by leveraging the TrustSwap Launchpad. Upon the successful conclusion of the offering, a Uniswap pool will be created on May 13th, 2021, and trading can commence for use of SKRT in the Sekuritance network. Alongside the offering, Sekuritance will be showcasing a preview of its RegTech Suite and Partner Platform.

TrustSwap technology utilizes secure peer-to-peer transactions via TrustSwap SmartLaunch; which ensures that Sekuritance and its community can transact securely and without fear of participants or team members negatively impacting the markets following the public offering. TrustSwap’s time-based SmartLock ensures a methodical distribution to mitigate the risk of unauthorized token transfers.

Sekuritance will use TrustSwap SmartLocks for:

  • Team token vesting
  • Token holder vesting
  • Liquidity locks

For more information about Sekuritance visit https://www.sekuritance.com.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.cryptoninjas.net/2021/05/07/trustswap-launchpad-hosts-token-offering-for-regtech-platform-sekuritance/

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Blockchain

Shanghai Man: VeChain on TV, DOGE flips BTC volume, Hotbit hack and more …

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This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.

Will DOGEmania ever stop?

Dogecoin has officially flipped Bitcoin in a few categories here in China, with DOGE trading volume on leading Chinese exchange Huobi surpassing that of leading assets ETH and BTC. On May 6th, according to CoinGecko, DOGE volume made up more than 15% of total exchange volume, whereas BTC and ETH were around 8% each. Searches for ‘Dogecoin’ on WeChat surpassed searches for Bitcoin, with 2.3 million versus 1.7 million on May 5th. Dogecoin has become increasingly appealing to the Chinese retail community since earlier this year as many are attracted to the virality and get-rich-quick potential of the colorful DOGE community.

Hacking attempt fails, but causes a major ruckus

Centralized exchange Hotbit was the victim of a hacking attempt on April 30th. The good news was that assets appear to be safe on the platform. The bad news was that user data was compromised, leading to a corrupted database. Trading, deposits and withdrawals have all been paused while the exchange attempts to restore normality. The Chinese exchange has been communicating actively via Twitter, with the interrupted service lasting potentially another week. Hotbit is well known for listing a diverse range of assets, making it a popular spot among more risk averse investors.

Shenzhen-based HOO launches Smart Chain contender

Hoo.com became yet another exchange to launch an Ethereum Virtual Machine, or EVM-based, smart chain, attempting to bridge their CeFi users into the DeFi space. The chain, currently in testnet, boasts low fees of just 0.001 USD per transaction and over 500+ transactions per second, as well as compatibility with Ethereum, BSC, and HECO. Since the start of the year, Hoo’s token has increased by over 350%. Other Chinese exchanges, including OKEx and Gate, have also launched smart chains. Smart chains are proving an attractive way to let users maximize yield while still letting the exchange capture value from the process.

VeChain on national TV

English-language and state-run business channel CGTN created a short expository video on blockchain’s growth post-COVID19. The video and article featured a close look at VeChain’s progress in developing business solutions, explaining how the technology could be applied to the food safety and infection control industry. The media company shot a short video inside the office and interviewed a few of the developers, indicating that the company has done well to comply with regulatory requirements in the tightly run country. It’s no secret that VeChain has a top position and close relationship with many government backed organizations, which is an enviable position for any enterprise Blockchain-as-a-Service provider.

Rising salaries for blockchain devs

The Beijing Human Resources and Social Security Bureau recently released the 2021 Beijing Human Resources Market Salary Survey Report (First Quarterly)”. According to the report, new and hot jobs, which included the tech space, had a median average monthly salary mainly in the $3,000 to $4,600 range. Blockchain engineers comfortably eclipsed that with a wage of $6,700 per month, showing the growing demand for the skills. By contrast, the average annual salary of a blockchain developer in the U.S. often exceeds $12,500 per month, according to recruitment firm Hired.com, nearly double the going rate in Beijing.

Miners back up and running… away?

Mining appears to have resumed as normal following the outages after a deadly coal mine accident last month. The incident required rigorous inspections of mining facilities, forcing many ASIC miners to turn off their machines. Hashrates have currently recovered to near the rates they were prior to the incident in the middle of April. One interesting shift, however, is that the industry appears to be gradually shifting from China to North America. F2Pool founder Chun Wang noted that for the first time in 8 years, more than half the BTC hashing power was coming from outside of China. This may have been partially tied to the incident, but is a trend that many experts are following as mining regulations in China appear to be growing stricter.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/shanghai-man-vechain-on-tv-doge-flips-btc-hotbit-hack-blockchain-engineers-make

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Blockchain

XRP, Dogecoin, Cardano Price Analysis: 06 May

Republished by Plato

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With Bitcoin’s market dominance falling once again and the altseason gaining steam, the likes of XRP, Dogecoin, and Cardano have all appreciated significantly on the price charts over the past week or so.

XRP

Source: XRP/USD on TradingView

XRP’s recovery since falling to close to $0.20 on the back of the SEC filing a lawsuit against Ripple Labs has been impressive, with the alt recording YTD returns of 510% at press time. Its price action over the past week, however, has been very inconsistent, with bouts of appreciation followed by sharp price falls on the charts. Even so, the cryptocurrency was close to recuperating all its losses following the depreciation on the 25th of April.

While Parabolic SAR’s dotted markers were under the price candles and underlined the bullishness in the XRP market, Awesome Oscillator gave the opposite signal, with its histogram picturing a fall in market momentum.

According to Ripple CEO, the aforementioned lawsuit has been “frustrating,” despite how well it has been going for the defendants.

Dogecoin [DOGE]

Source: DOGE/USD on TradingView

Dogecoin has been one of 2021’s best crypto-performers, with the alt hiking astronomically to register YTD returns of 10,800% this year. DOGE’s hike has been particularly exponential since the month of April, with the same more or less being the trend in May too. In the last week alone, DOGE has climbed by over 115% on the charts, with many expecting the popular meme-coin to continue surging at least until Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s appearance as “Dogefather” on Saturday Night Live.

The scale of its bullishness was evident when Dogecoin’s technical indicators were checked out. While Chaikin Money Flow was holding steady close to the 0.20-mark, Relative Strength Index noted a slight dip after a visit to the overbought zone.

Mark Cuban was one of the many crypto-proponents to come forward and comment on the meme-coin’s utility and purpose recently.

Cardano [ADA]

Source: ADA/USD on TradingView

After a brief phase in February which saw ADA surge up the charts to lead the altseason for a time, the past few months have mostly seen Cardano trade within a tight price channel. At the time of writing, ADA was close to breaking out of the said range, while also inching closer to its previous ATH of $1.55 on the price charts.

In the last three days, ADA hiked by almost 20% on the charts.

While Bollinger Bands remained far apart to highlight volatility, MACD line was moving away from the Signal line to indicate the crypto’s latest bullish credentials.

The altcoin was in the news recently after IOHK’s Charles Hoskinson hit back at critics to comment that it’s bizarre to suggest that Cardano is a blatant scam.


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Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://ambcrypto.com/xrp-dogecoin-cardano-price-analysis-06-may

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