Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Slips For the First Time in 2020 + More News

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Crypto Briefs is your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.

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Mining news

  • After five consecutive increases, the Bitcoin mining difficulty dropped by 0.38% on February 25, and is estimated to decrease by another 0.91% in 13 days when the next adjustment is set to happen, according to the estimates by major Bitcoin mining pool In total, the mining difficulty increased by around 12% this year. Last time it corrected lower was on December 5, when it dropped 0.74%.


Adoption news

  • Coinbase Wallet users can now use short and simple addresses to send their crypto, instead of traditional long addresses. The blog post explains that the wallet, offered by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, has launched support for sending to usernames like @walletfan, as well as Ethereum Name Service addresses like walletfan.eth, which has also been integrated. Additionally, they’ve made it easier to send crypto back to the linked Coinbase account.
  • South Korean telecoms giant KT says it is setting up a blockchain-powered mobile phone donations platform for charity. Per iNews24, KT, which has launched a range of blockchain services, has signed a deal with a charity called Good People, and will allow citizens to donate phones worth more than USD 25. The money raised will be used to fund drinking water programs in Africa.
  • Azimo, a European digital money transfer service, has partnered with Ripple, to deliver faster and cheaper payment to the Philippines. Azimo has launched its first service using Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity solution (ODL), with plans to expand to more markets in 2020. The Philippines is one of the top remittance destinations globally, receiving USD 34 billion in 2018, while the ODL uses the digital asset XRP and has the potential to reduce liquidity costs by up to 60% compared to traditional banking solutions, says Azimo.
  • Dapper Labs, a blockchain company and creator of CryptoKitties, has announced a new licensing partnership with UFC, a mixed martial arts promotion company. Per the press release, UFC and Dapper Labs will develop a new digital opportunity for UFC fans worldwide to purchase, trade, and own UFC-branded digital collectibles on Dapper Labs’ Flow, a new platform built specifically to support consumer-facing blockchain experiences.

Exchanges news

  • Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini has announced upcoming support for the custody of Filecoin (FIL), the reward and incentive token of the InterPlanetary File System, a decentralized cloud storage network. The Filecoin mainnet launch is tentatively scheduled for Q3 2020, says the announcement, adding that the exchange is working with the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) to obtain approval to offer Filecoin trading for the customers.
  • Poloniex has introduced higher withdrawal limits. Per the announcement, Level 1 accounts can withdraw up to USD 10,000 per day and Level 2 accounts can withdraw up to USD 250,000 per day, while the requests for limits up to USD 1,000,000 will be required to whitelist their withdrawal addresses.
  • Swiss stock exchange SIX has signed a partnership agreement with Omniex, an institutional trading platform for digital assets, becoming a shareholder in Omniex. Per the announcement, the partnership will provide a gateway to digital exchanges (including crypto currency exchanges) and OTC market makers worldwide for SIX and its clients.

Digital fiats news

  • The Ukrainian central bank says that it has completed its digital fiat testing, but still has reservations about issuance, per an official release. National Bank chief Yakov Smoly admitted the country was “considering the possibility of issuing an electronic hryvnia.” However, he added, “We will return to this issue later, when we are firmly convinced of the economic feasibility of the project, and certain that it will not pose any threat to Ukrainian pricing policy and financial stability.”
  • The Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Timothy Lane said that the central bank won’t issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC). In his recent speech, Lane stated that there is no compelling case to issue a CBDC at this time and that Canadians will continue to be well-served by the existing payment ecosystem, provided it is modernized and remains fit for purpose. Though it’s hard to predict what will happen with Facebook‘s Libra, he says, it’s a good example of a transformative technology that affects how the Bank needs to respond to the future of money.

Regulation news

  • The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has released feedback on security token offerings (STO), as well as the challenges these face in the Maltese financial markets. 18 industry stakeholders, such as national agencies, regulated businesses, technology providers, law firms, and consultancy firms, provided feedback. Many of them disagreed with the categorization of different types of STOs proposed by the MFSA, finding that there shouldn’t be a distinction based on whether the instrument is tokenized.

Investment news

  • Ripple has given MoneyGram, a major money transfer company co-owned by Ripple, over USD 11.3 million in the span of six months. According to regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the accompanying press release, MoneyGram received USD 2.4 million in the third quarter and USD 8.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Crime news

  • A California federal judge ruled in favor of the telecom giant AT&T when it comes to the breach of contract and punitive damages claims, but it must face fraud and negligence claims, reports Law360. This ruling is a part of the lawsuit by investor Michael Terpin who claims that AT&T allowed hackers to gain access to his phone by swapping his SIM card, which allegedly resulted in the theft of USD 24 million worth of crypto.
  • Finnish Customs is deciding what to do with BTC 1,666 it seized years ago in a major drug bust. At the time it was worth less than EUR 700,000 (USD 762,184), reports Yle. As the agency never converted the cryptocurrency into fiat, it’s now worth USD 15.3 million. From the Custom’s point of view, says finance director Pekka Pylkkänen, the problems are specifically related to the risk of money laundering, adding that the crypto buyers “rarely use them for normal endeavours.” (As reported, the darknet still accounts for less than 1% of all BTC transactions.)
  • The Russian central bank has warned that pyramid schemes in the country are increasingly making use of cryptocurrencies. Per Izvestia, the bank says that last year one notable crypto-related pyramid raised over USD 7.6 million – and warned the public to be vigilant of schemes including fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs) and bogus membership incentive programs.
  • A Ukrainian regulator has taken to Facebook to warn citizens of a fraudulent project calling itself the “Ukrainian People’s Bank.” The country’s National Commission on Securities and the Stock Market says the project is a scam that is attempting to selling shares in exchange for bitcoin payments. The regulator says the operator is unregulated, unregistered and should be avoided.