Crypto payments ‘coming soon’ in Venezuela

The controversial president of Venezuela has said Venezuelans can expect crypto payments to be activated “very soon,” in a move that looks set to introduce more flexibility to payments in the country, Bloomberg reported.

President Nicolas Maduro said the crypto payment service would allow “free national and international payments,” providing new instruments for Venezuelans to conduct banking transactions.

In a televised press conference this week, Maduro said the government, in partnership with the central bank, was poised to launch the new crypto payments system.

The finance minister and Venezuela’s central bank have new instruments which we will activate very soon so that everyone can do banking transactions, as well as national and international payments through the central bank’s accounts. Venezuela is working within the cryptocurrency world.

It comes just days after it was reported that Venezuela’s central bank was preparing to add cryptocurrencies to its international reserves, namely BTC and ETH.

Venezuela is of course no stranger to cryptocurrency, following the launch of the state-backed Petro token. Backed by the country’s oil reserves, the Petro was intended to help Venezuela circumvent international sanctions.

The country has attempted to convince other countries to trade oil in Petro as opposed to the U.S. dollar, which would again allow the country to evade economic sanctions introduced by the U.S.-led international community.

The Petro has been hotly contested since it was launched, with political opponents and commentators branding the move as unconstitutional for its reliance on the state’s oil reserves.

The cryptocurrency has also come under international fire, with U.S. authorities in particular expressing a dim view about the token and those engaged in illegal transactions with Venezuela in Petro.

The news of a forthcoming crypto payments system would ratchet up the international pressure, and likely attract further criticism and condemnation, at a time of growing international scrutiny on the embattled Venezuelan state.

With the weight of economic sanctions still bearing heavy on Maduro, and Venezuela’s, shoulders, the government hopes the system will allow access to more stable payments for those operating in and trading with Venezuela.

Crypto mining firm Hut 8 hits Toronto Stock Exchange

A crypto mining company has been granted conditional approval to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), becoming the first company of its kind to be listed in a public trading venue in Canada.

Hut 8 Mining Corp. is the first company to be listed via the Toronto Stock Exchange Sandbox, where it will be given a 12-month probation period to demonstrate compliance. Should the company pass this compliance threshold, it will automatically join the main TSX after that period, opening it up to mainstream access to capital markets.

The Canadian mining company is an exclusive North American partner of mining hardware manufacturer Bitfury Group Ltd. Across its two sites in Alberta, the firm contributes 963 PH/s to the network, running 94 BlockBox AC mining units.

The TSX Sandbox was set up to allow firms that don’t satisfy the listing requirements for the main exchange, but might still otherwise be suitable candidates for inclusion on the exchange.

Hut 8 will be allowed a rolling 12-month period during which it must avoid compliance issues. During that period, shares will be available for trading in the same way as regularly listed securities. Any compliance issues arising during the period will reset the probation period.

For the duration of the period, Hut 8 will be required to make two additional disclosures, highlighting risks inherent in their investment proposition: First, “The value of Hut 8 shares is directly linked to the price of the Bitcoin held by the company. Volatility in the Bitcoin market can therefore impact the price of shares.” Also, “The company is in an early stage of development and therefore has a limited history of operations.”

Hut 8 securities will be listed under the HUT ticker symbol, or as “HUTMF” on the OTXQX Exchange.

The news means Hut 8 will now be able to access capital markets, the first company of its kind to list in this way in Toronto. It also serves as a trailblazer for other mining firms to list in future, though it remains to be seen whether the firm can overcome the compliance tests necessary to graduate to a full listing.

Bitmain might be about to decimate BTC miners

Market manipulation is a common topic in the digital currency space, often driven by concerns that whale investors may be manipulating cryptocurrency prices and trends to maximize their own profits. But could Bitmain, the mining hardware manufacturer, be preparing for a devilish scheme to crush outdated mining operations?

As the price of BTC hovers between $10,000 and 11,000, and could be a couple of big days away from its all time high, it remains popular as a mining option. CoinGeek has learned from its sources that Bitmain may be planning to take advantage of the current environment by using their resources to crush the profits of older mining hardware.

They’ll accomplish this goal by bringing as much hash to bare on the BTC blockchain as they possibly can, through old mining rigs and new, effectively cranking up the difficulty of BTC mining. Block rewards will be nearly impossible to win for those with older hardware.

For miners, and especially Chinese miners, this could be disaster. With a small leap in total hashing power brought to bear on the BTC blockchain, the increase in difficulty will devastate profits for most miners. They will be holding on and praying that electricity rates stay low to make any profit at all.

The Chinese hydro season, or when rains are sufficient enough to keep hydroelectricity flowing cheaply, can help make crypto mining more profitable. That season typically lasts into September or October. As the dams begin to dry up, electricity costs will steadily increase. That, combined with an increase in hash power, will completely crash mining profits.

The intended consequence of this gambit is simple. To stay competitive in the mining sector, operations will be forced to upgrade to the latest hardware, perhaps from Bitmain, or run their operation into the red against the hash power of Bitmain.

This could end up being a fairly profitable venture for Bitmain if it works, but our sources are worried it will be a bloodbath for the BTC mining community. Operations that can’t afford to upgrade will be run into the ground, and those that can will be paying a premium just to help Bitmain’s bottom line.

This isn’t what miners need right now. With the long crypto winter of 2018 still very recent in their memory, many operations are still working to get their head above water for all the deficits they had to run for so long. And now that BTC prices have recovered, competition is naturally making mining more expensive. Operations having to spend $0.08 or more per kilowatthour (kWh) are already likely back in the red.

If these reports are true, Bitmain might be about to cripple the mining industry for their own short term profit. Not exactly the community building move that the crypto world needs right now.

Linux malware masks illicit crypto mining with fake network traffic

A new cryptocurrency mining malware targeting Linux systems has demonstrated how complex this type of malware has become. Known as Skidmap, the malware is not only harder to detect, it also gives the attackers unfiltered access to the affected system.

The malware was discovered by security researchers from TrendMicro. In a blog post, the researchers revealed that the malware can set up a secret master password that gives the attackers access to any user account on the system.

The malware installs itself through crontab, a list of tasks schedule to run on regular intervals, the researchers explained. Upon execution, the malware decreases the affected machine’s security settings. It does this by disabling the Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) module, a security module which provides support in the system’s access control policies.

Skidmap also gives the attackers backdoor access to the affected machine by adding the attacker’s public keys to the list of keys needed for authentication.

Furthermore, it replaces the system’s authentication module known as pam_unix with its own malicious version. This version accepts a specific password set by the attackers for any user on the system, allowing them to log in to any user account at will.

To avoid detection, Skidmap loads several other malicious components onto the affected machines. One of these is a netlink rootkit that fakes the network statistics, specifically traffic involving certain ports and IP addresses. It also fakes CPU-related statistics, making the affected machines appear to be running normally. With high CPU usage being one of the more renowned red flags of a cryptojacking malware, this is a key strategy for the attackers.

The researchers revealed to The Next Web that Skidmap mines Monero, one of the leading dark coins. “The cryptocurrency miner pertaining to this article is a variant of XMRig which mines Monero cryptocurrency,” they stated.

The researchers advised, “Given Linux’s use in many enterprise environments, its users, particularly administrators, should always adopt best practices: keep the systems and servers updated and patched (or use virtual patching for legacy systems); beware of unverified, third-party repositories; and enforce the principle of least privilege to prevent suspicious and malicious executables or processes from running.”

Cryptojacking malware attacks surged by 29% in the first quarter of the year, a report by McAfee Labs revealed last month. The attackers have continued to find new ways to stay ahead, with a recent report revealing that Glupteba malware is using the Core Coin (BTC) blockchain to increase its resilience.

BSV miners raking in high rewards per transaction

Miners of Bitcoin SV (BSV) raked in the highest rewards per transaction over the weekend, a snapshot of data captured has revealed. In a comparison with SegWitCoin (BTC) and BCH, BSV miners came out on top in terms of the mining rewards secured, providing a greater incentive to mine BSV than the others.

Users on social media flagged the discrepancy, and questioned when this would encourage more miners to switch to BSV over mining BCH and BTC cryptocurrencies. Twitter user winterwishin posted a screenshot comparing rewards in the past 24 hours for BSV, BCH and BTC, highlighting the higher rewards per transaction on offer for BSV miners.

In the tweet, the user asked how long it would take miners to realize that BSV was the best option: “BSV has the most tx few rewards for miners in the last 24 hrs. This is just the beginning. When will other miners realise?”

In data posted on Twitter, BSV reported some 130 blocks in the last 24 hours, compared to 132 for BCH and 174 for BTC. However, while BTC posted and BCH posted rewards of 1650+0.3825 BCH and 2188+26.58 BTC respectively, BCH edged them out, with rewards of 1625+26.88 BSV over the 24 hour period.

The discrepancy means miners would be better off mining BSV than either of the other options, with higher rewards for those that choose to get behind the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin SV is the original bitcoin as intended in Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper, offering payments at mass scale with low cost transactions and fast transaction speeds.

Designed to be affordable and efficient for sending payments and powering apps and other services, this is reflected in the lower average transaction value of 2.99 BSV—roughly $439.41, compared to over US$11,000 for BCH and US$16,833 for BTC.

The median transaction value shows an even more accurate picture, at just $1.34 for BSV, compared to $172.13 in the case of BTC.

The news is further incentive for miners to switch their attention to BSV, at a time when the cryptocurrency is increasingly gaining traction as the coin of choice amongst miners, developers and users.

UNICEF turns to cryptocurrency mining to help Syrian children

UNICEF turns to cryptocurrency mining to help Syrian children

Charity organizations always look to out-of-the-box methods for increasing the money they collect for their causes. One of the world’s most well-known non-profit organizations, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), is paving the way for unique methods. They are looking to online gamers to mine cryptocurrencies for the charity.

A few days ago, UNICEF launched a fundraising program designed to raise funds to protect Syrian children. Gamer Chaingers, as the new program is called, takes advantage of cryptocurrency mining to deliver funds to the group, foregoing the need to ask the public for donations. The novel approach is expected to run until March 31 of this year.

UNICEF created a website especially for the event. From there, users can download the mining software and review the operation instructions. So far, 326 people have downloaded the software, and just over $1,000 has been raised.

Because the group typically goes to the same donors repeatedly seeking funds, it decided to try a different tactic with Gamer Chaingers. The gaming community was chosen because computer games require powerful graphics cards to provide better rendering to the games. These same graphic cards are beneficial for faster cryptocurrency mining.

Since gamers aren’t always using their computers—they have to sleep, work, stop to eat or even study—the downtime can be used to mine coins like Ethereum. This will generate the funds UNICEF desperately needs, without the user having to be hassled with money transfers.

The one obvious drawback to this solution is the current market volatility witnessed in the cryptocurrency market. The recent fluctuations in major coins like SegWit1x (BTC) and Ethereum could produce results lower than what UNICEF anticipates receiving. However, if the analysts are correct and cryptocurrencies continue to bounce back, it could be a significant whirlwind of funds.

Founded in 1946, UNICEF is one of the most well-known and well-respected charity organizations around the world. It receives donations from both governments and private citizens, and has raised over $5 billion since its inception. It joins a very short list of non-profit charity groups to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, which it was awarded in 1965.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Cryptocurrency mining causes GPU shortage

Cryptocurrency mining causes GPU shortage

Despite losing some $44 billion as the year opened, the current market cap for cryptocurrencies is fast approaching the trillion mark. Because of this growth, the demand for cryptocurrency mining hardware has reached record-high levels, affecting other industries that need the same equipment.

Traditionally, the pricing index for graphics processing units (GPUs) made by companies like AMD and Nvidia are relative to the demand from one of its primary consumers: gamers, and the whole industry of professional eSports built around it. Recently, however, there has been an increased demand for hardware components like GPU, which has been attributed to the rising cryptocurrency mining industry.

These changes in the GPU market has resulted in supply shortages. Gamers looking to build their rigs with mid-range or high-end graphics card now have a harder time to set up their gaming machines.

Small cryptocurrency mining enthusiasts actively buying the hardware in bulk in hopes of improving their passive profits are often pointed as the culprits. While some crypto-mining companies like Bitmain have shifted to creating dedicated processors like ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit chips) mining units, there are cryptocurrencies that have differing algorithms which may still make use of current GPUs in the market and continue to mine profitably.

These significant changes in pricing have affected gamers negatively. As hardware enthusiasts, gamers are often keen as to what kind of GPUs are set to run their graphics-intensive games. Specifications matter most, and the capabilities of a GPU determine what a gamer may or may not be able to play.

In a report by Polygon, it has been noted that the average pricing for Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070, a higher-tier mid-range GPU, has soared past $700 because of stock shortages. Such an increase is 80% more than the typical price range, even with retailer repricings taken into account. With GPU brands such as Galax, Asus, EVGA, MSI, Gigabtye, Zotac, and Palit all competing in the market, gamers now also have to compete with cryptocurrency miners looking to purchase powerful GPUs.

Because crypto mining hardware with algorithms adjusted specifically for GPUs instead of CPU compete by solving the mathematical problems needed to verify transactions on a blockchain, better power efficiency and higher hashrates create more returns and profitability.

As the difficulty of a cryptocurrency adjusts in relation to the current height of blocks mined, the supply of a certain cryptocurrency also dwindles. Miners are then compelled to adjust their own hardware capacity in order to stay competitive and profit from their efforts. To date, cryptocurrencies using encryption algorithms such as SHA-256 (Bitcoin Cash), Scrypt (Litecoin, Dogecoin, etc.), and X11 (Dash) can still profit from using GPUs as mining hardware.

Gamers are taking the toll, with the impact of the demand in GPUs adversely raising prices for mid-range cards like the Nvidia GTX 1060 or GTX 1070, or AMD’s Radeon RX 570, 580, Vega56, and Vega 64 cards. Higher-specced cards like the GTX 1080 or even the top-end Ryzen series from AMD have also been affected by the demand surge.

To curb this, Nvidia has advised its retail partners to prioritize sales for gamers over miners, in an attempt to pacify its gaming-oriented consumer base. However, retailers are less likely to follow this notice, given how the margins provided by sales to miners are significantly higher than those from the gaming crowd. This trend has resulted in the introduction of new policies and offers from retailers such as purchase limits for a specific model and bundled discounts for gamers who buy GPUs with other hardware components.

The push for mining companies andmining pools to verify more blocks has reached an unprecedented proportion of competitiveness, one that can be observed particularly with the legacy bitcoin, or SegWit1x (BTC), network which has been noted to have serious effects to the environment. More sensible cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash have since attracted investments for environmentally-sustainable mining infrastructures to be built. As the crypto industry heads into a new phase of development following the maturity of its software, networks at the forefront of its global adoption and growth should take responsibility over the adverse effects of its mining hardware requirements.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Samsung begins manufacturing cryptocurrency mining hardware

Samsung begins manufacturing cryptocurrency mining hardware

South Korea’s electronics and tech behemoth is now officially a player in the cryptocurrency space.

In a report published by Korean capital market news site The Bell, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. has begun the production phase for ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) miners and other cryptocurrency mining peripherals.

Confirming the news in a tweet, cryptocurrency analyst Joseph Young opined that Samsung’s move to create and sustain their own foundry dedicated to cryptocurrency mining is “unprecedented,” adding that it would most likely “provide Bitmain its first real competitor.”

In the report by The Bell, however, a long-term plan was revealed in which Samsung has partnered up with a Chinese bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer, a partnership that began in 2017. It was only this year that the design and development of Samsung’s own ASIC chips were finished. This is related to news of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) taking mass orders for ASIC miners from Bitmain.

With suppliers like TSMC and now Samsung both providing for major mining companies like Bitmain, the revenues for the foundry business is expected to rise. Samsung Securities analyst Hwang Min-seong, however, said that “[While] Samsung Electronics could increase its revenues through ASIC chip manufacturing but because the foundry only accounts for a small portion of the company’s semi-conductor manufacturing plant, it is difficult to predict that the firm’s mining venture will have a significant impact on the company’s revenues.”

The new foundry is expected to expand its operation in coming years, with Samsung planning ventures from China to other Asian regions like South Korea and Japan which both have strong demand for cryptocurrencies despite government regulation. The foundry’s operation is aligned with the demand from the Chinese bitcoin mining firm that Samsung has partnered with.

As a new player in the foundry business, Samsung’s position isn’t one poised at targeting revenues, rather, it is merely opening and laying out foundations for future ventures. After its brief showcase of upcycled old smartphones repurposed as crypto mining rigs last year, Samsung also has GPU-based mining development in its roadmap for the newly-opened foundry. With its well-established portfolio for large-scale and sophisticated semi-conductor manufacturing, Samsung is stable enough to provide for and match the demand by major mining companies like Bitmain.

With the rising demand for prominent cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash, ASIC mining rigs have also experienced increased orders. Mining ventures have attracted strong investments from global players and continue to expand as more people are enlightened about the benefits of cryptocurrencies for a future filled with unrestricted growth, global adoption, permissionless innovation, and decentralized development.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.