Blockchain correctly predicted Trump’s impeachment, protected migrants, and could be enabling a messaging app for terrorists—all in the last seven days. Here’s what else happened this week in crypto.
Brave hits 350,000 publisher milestone
Crypto-friendly browser Brave hit a new milestone this week: it surpassed 350,000 publishers for its “tipping” service, in which content producers can sign up to receive tips in the form of Brave’s native currency, the Basic Attention Token (BAT). The 350,000 figure is an 820 percent jump from last year; in January 2019, just 38,000 were signed up to the service.
So who are these 350,000 “publishers?” According to Brave, 231,865 are Youtubers, 19,370 are Twitch streamers, and websites account for 38,819. Prominent among its ranks are media stalwarts, such as The Guardian, The Washington Post and Wikipedia.
Elsewhere, the browser surpassed 10 million monthly users. Most notable is its move to shake the advertising industry. Instead of regular ads, which bombard the user with unwanted material and harvest their data, Brave takes a different route to advertisement. Instead, its users can earn BAT for watching advertisements, and tracking cookies are blocked.
What next for BAT? Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon in November, CEO Brendan Eich said, “We want to go the full distance towards e-commerce...so any cryptocurrency you want, we'll matchmake with the merchant. This gets rid of credit card fraud and credit card interchange charges.”
Fluffypony to clomp no more
Privacy coin Monero announced early last week that its “lead maintainer,” Riccardo “Fluffypony” Spagni, is stepping down. The the pseudonymous “Snipa” will be taking his place.
Notwithstanding his departure, Spagni, who was on the job for five years, ’s staying on as a regular maintainer, he told Decrypt. "I've been talking about doing this for two years, since I stepped back as lead maintainer on the Monero website and Monero GUI projects, so it should come as no surprise,” he said.
"I plan on continuing to focus on the broader Monero and privacy ecosystem, specifically my work on the Tari project, which will benefit Monero in different ways to what I was accomplishing as lead maintainer,” he added. Tari is a “sidechain” that connects to the Monero blockchain. It’s focused on crypto collectibles.
Crypto Capital investigation pushed forward
A US federal court is permitting crypto exchange Bitfinex to subpoena information in connection with payments processor Crypto Capital to help it recover some of the nearly $1 billion it alleges the company owes it.
After Crypto Capital’s accounts were frozen by authorities following the arrests of executives in connection with drug running and money laundering, the payment processing firm said it was no longer able to access Bitfinex’s money.
Bitfinex disagreed, and contended that Crypto Capital secretly had been sending money to several banks accounts to evade detection from authorities. Hence the request for the subpoena.
Bitfinex asked the court to depose and obtain documents from Rondell “Rhon” Clyde Monroe, the former vice president of TCA Investment Bancorp and Trust Company. According to a filing dated November 15, Crypto Capital holds more than $306 million of Bitfinex’s funds in a bank run by TCA, Global Trading Solutions.
The Court wrote: “[Bitfinex alleges] that the requested records will help ‘demonstrate [Applicant’s] ownership of, and entitlement to, the various funds...by helping Applicant trace the funds ‘between and among various banks’ that Crypto Capital used.”
Stuart Hoegner, General Counsel to Bitfinex told Decrypt, "We are pleased that the court has granted our application and we look forward to receiving information and materials that can aid our international recovery efforts."
The funds allegedly held by Crypto Capital are the subject of a criminal investigation by the new york attorney general. Last year the agency found that Bitfinex had used funds from the reserves of tether, its sister company and the issuer of the dollar-pegged stablecoin USDT, to mask the $850m financial hole left by the appropriation of Crypto Capital's accounts by law enforcement in several countries.
Trump impeachment predicted by Augur
From the Department of Hardly Surprising Predictions: Augur, the prediction and betting platform, this week correctly predicted the impeachment of US President Donald Trump! The prediction was placed over a month ago and 75 percent of Augur’s bettors predicted that the divisive President would be impeached.
Enraged onlookers, quick to claim that Trump’s impeachment isn’t definitive—he’s still in office after all, and the US Senate trial hasn’t convicted Trump yet—might be soothed upon learning that “Neither trial nor conviction by the U.S. Senate, nor removal from office, is necessary to cause this market to resolve as Yes," reads the description for the bidding market.
In addition to Trump’s impeachment, during the past few years, bettors correctly guessed that the Democrats would find success in the 2018 midterms, and that Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Augur also correctly predicted that Brexit—Britain’s impending exit from the European Union—wouldn’t happen by October 31.
Blockchain to prevent exploitation of migrants
Some people take advantage of migrants who travel to new countries in search of low-paying jobs. Migrants often sign up at home for jobs in other countries that seem to promise high salaries and great benefits. But once they arrive at their host countries, they’re pressured to sign binding contracts with far worse terms, or pay additional fees to recruiters.
Diginex, a blockchain company, is working with the UN’s migration agency to combat the nasty phenomenon, known as “contract swapping.” It unveiled a new blockchain tool that’s being tested in Hong Kong. The tool logs contracts on the blockchain, meaning whatever a migrant worker signed up for in his or her home country, can’t be swapped later. Thanks, blockchain!
Terrorists using a blockchain-based messaging app?
Terrorist group ISIS is using blockchain to spread its propaganda.
Per reporting by VICE, ISIS is testing a messaging app called BCM Messenger. Blockchain, says Vice, offers everything BCM ”needs to thrive: secure, anonymous communication, a tamper-proof repository for beheading videos and other ISIS propaganda, and perhaps most ominously, the ability to transfer cryptocurrency anywhere in the world.”
The app is available on Android and IOS. Merry Christmas!