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Vitalik Buterin discusses his 'excitement' for the future of Ethereum
Buterin was specifically bullish on the rise of decentralized blockchain identities to enhance user privacy.
In a blog post dated Dec. 5, Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin wrote that money, blockchain identities, decentralized finance (DeFi), decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and hybrid applications were the top developments he was excited about in the Ethereum ecosystem. Buterin then described his experience in using Ether as a means of payment in a cafe in Argentina:
"When we walked in, the owner recognized me, and immediately showed me that he has ETH and other crypto-assets on his Binance account. We ordered tea and snacks, and we asked if we could pay in ETH. The coffee shop owner obliged, and showed me the QR code for his Binance deposit address, to which I sent about $20 of ETH from my Status wallet on my phone."
Buterin continued that due to side effects of The Merge, "transactions get included significantly more quickly, and the chain has become more stable, making it safer to accept transactions after fewer confirmations." The Ethereum co-founder then contrasted it with his earlier coffee experience, where at the time, network fees accounted for one-third of the transaction, and funds took several minutes to arrive.
Then, speaking of the rise of DeFi, Buterin commented that the industry started off honorable and limited but quickly became "an overcapitalized monster that relied on unsustainable forms of yield forming." However, he added that DeFi is in the "early stages of setting down into a stable medium, improving security, and refocusing on a few applications that are particularly valuable."
Next, Buterin praised the rise of blockchain identification methods, such as the Sign In With Ethereum (SIWE), and their ability to enhance user privacy. "[SIWE] it allows you to interact with a site without giving Google or Facebook access to your private information or the ability to take over or lock you out of your account," wrote Buterin. Furthermore, he said such protocols could also be used to prove eligibility in events like governance or airdrops without compromising users' personal data.
Regarding the topic of DAOs, Buterin said while they "captures many of the hopes and dreams that people have put into the crypto space to build more democratic, resilient and efficient forms of governance," greater work needs to be done to improve censorship resistance and susceptibility to internal organization. Highlighting the example of MakerDAO, Buterin wrote:
"MakerDAO has $7.8 billion in collateral, over 17x the market cap of the profit-taking token, MKR. Hence, if governance was up to MKR holders with no safeguards, someone could buy up half the MKR, use that to manipulate the price oracles, and steal a large portion of the collateral for themselves." Finally, the Ethereum co-founder noted the potential of merging Ethereum blockchain technology with off-chain processes, such as voting. In one scenario, Buterin wrote: "Votes are published to the blockchain, so users have a way independent of the voting system to ensure that their votes get included. But votes are encrypted, preserving privacy, and a ZK-SNARK-based solution."
As for the next steps, Buterin stuck to his belief of prioritizing projects with long-term value propositions rather than those fixated on short-term profits. "Many of the more stable and boring applications do not get built because there is less excitement and less short-term profit to be earned around them: the LUNA market cap got to over $30 billion, while stablecoins striving for robustness and simplicity often get largely ignored for years," he wrote. Post-Merge, Ethereum's next major anticipated update is the Shanghai Upgrade, which would enable users to withdraw their staked Ether. The Upgrade is scheduled for the second half of 2023.
Trader allegedly saw over 5,000x gains after Ankr protocol hack
Ankr announced that it will be reissuing aBNBc tokens, promising that it will assess the situation and compensate affected users.
When the BNB Chain-based protocol Ankr was exploited and a hacker dumped Ankr Reward Bearing Staked BNB (aBNBc) tokens, a trader took advantage of the price discrepancies and turned $2,879 into $15.5 million.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, security firm Beosin suggested that the multimillion-dollar exploit may have come from vulnerabilities in the smart contract code and compromised private keys due to a technical upgrade. After the hacker minted and dumped 20 trillion aBNBc tokens, the price of aBNBc significantly dropped.
As this happened, a trader reacted quickly and took advantage of an opportunity. Going through on-chain data, analysis platform Lookonchain recently shared how a trader allegedly managed to gain $15.5 million by making their way through the Helio Protocol platform. According to Lookonchain, the trader bought 183,885 aBNBc with only 10 BNB BNB
tickers down $292
after the Ankr exploiter dumped the aBNBc.
After this, the trader deposited the aBNBc into Helio Protocol and used the funds as collateral to borrow 16 million HAY tokens. In the end, the trader exchanged the HAY for 15.5 million Binance USD (BUSD), earning a 5,209x profit from their original capital.
Apart from losses sustained from the trade, the exploit may have also affected Helio’s total value locked. Before the attack, the HAY stablecoin had around $87 million in TVL. However, at the time of writing, the decentralized finance data tracker DefiLlama shows that HAY now has $0 in TVL.
In an announcement to its community, Helio Protocol assured users that their assets were safe and that all of their staked BNB is within the validators. At present, the protocol has suspended all its functions and asked HAY holders to refrain from any transactions.
Related: After FTX: DeFi can go mainstream if it overcomes its flaws
After recently asking decentralized exchanges to halt trading, Ankr mentioned that it will be reissuing aBNBc tokens. The platform promised that it will assess the situation and compensate affected users.
Meanwhile, crypto exchange Binance paused Ankr token withdrawals and froze $3 million worth of assets that the hacker moved to the trading platform.
The issue is tied to the Gemini Earn program, which offers 8% earn interest on crypto lending and is operated by Gemini in partnership with Genesis.
Crypto lender Genesis and its parent company Digital Currency Group (DCG) allegedly owe $900 million to Gemini’s clients, according to a Financial Times report disclosed on Dec. 3, citing people familiar with the matter.
The issue derives from the FTX dramatic collapse in November. Crypto exchange Gemini operates a product called Gemini Earn in partnership with Genesis, offering investors the opportunity to earn 8% in interest by lending out their crypto, including Bitcoin and stablecoins pegged to fiat currencies.
On Nov. 16, Genesis announced it had temporarily suspended withdrawals citing “unprecedented market turmoil,” days after disclosing around $175 million worth of funds stuck in an FTX trading account. Genesis is reportedly facing difficulties raising money for its lending unit but refuted speculation of its “imminent” bankruptcy.
Also on Nov. 16, Gemini Earn started experiencing issues with deposits, according to the exchange status page. The product remains unavailable at the time of writing, while all other Gemini services, including the exchange trading engine and the Gemini Credit Card, remain available.
Gemini has formed a creditor’s committee and is working to recoup the funds from Genesis and DCG, noted the report. In an effort to restore clients’ trust amid fears of contagious spread following FTX’s fall, Gemini announced on Nov. 29 its Trust Center, a dashboard showing metrics for funds held by Gemini and on the exchange’s behalf.
In the Twitter thread about the Trust Center, however, Earn program clients stated they would regain their trust once withdrawal earnings resumed.
Gemini’s Earn program was launched in 2021 in the United States. As of November 2022, it operates in more than 65 countries, including new jurisdictions like Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and others, the firm said. The exchange was hit by the ongoing crypto bear market, cutting up to 20% of its staff this year.
Decentralized finance (DeFi) infrastructure provider Ankr has been exploited to the tune of over $5 million due to a bug that allowed for unlimited minting of its token. In a tweet today, the team said that their aBNBc token had been exploited. They also asked exchanges to halt trading and asked liquidity providers to remove liquidity from decentralized exchanges (DEXs). The team did not provide specific details of the exploit, but crypto security firm PeckShield said they found out that the project's smart contract had an unlimited minting bug. This allowed the attacker to mint six quadrillion aBNBc tokens, tanking the token price as the supply hit the market.
After minting quadrillions of aBNBc token, the attacker used the decentralized exchange PancakeSwap to swap them for BNB before moving them to crypto mixer Tornado Cash. The attacker then swapped the BNB tokens for 5 million USDC. Since the hacker has almost drained the aBNBc liquidity pools on PancakeSwap and ApeSwap, the token has plunged by more than 99%. As of now, aBNBc token is trading at $1.52, down by 99.5% over the past day. The coin recorded an all-time high of over $380 in May this year. Crypto security firm Lookonchain also reported that one opportunistic trader managed to turn 10 BNB ($2,885) into 15.5 million BUSD by using the BNB to buy aBNBc and used them as collateral against a 15.5 million BUSD loan on DeFi lending protocol Helio, which did not have up-to-date pricing on aBNBc post-crash.
The team is already looking for ways to reimburse affected users.
Binance CEO CZ also confirmed the hack, adding that the exchange froze about $3 million worth of crypto assets that the hacker had deposited.
Ankr is a cross-chain infrastructure with a DeFi platform that enables staking and dApp development. It hosts various protocols related to the development of dApps and the DeFi sector. Notably, hacks and exploits continue to be rampant in crypto. As reported, Binance announced the suspension of deposits and withdrawals from its BNB chain in early October after it identified an unauthorized transfer of BNB coins. The hacker or hackers used a bug to withdraw BNB 2 million, worth around $568 million at the time.
Russia intends to launch a ‘national crypto exchange’.
Local lawmakers are working on amendments to the existing legislation “On digital financial assets” in consultation with market stakeholders.
Russian lawmakers are working on amendments to launch a national crypto exchange. This effort is reportedly supported both by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Russia, which have a long history of disagreement over crypto regulation in the country.
As local media reported on Nov. 23, members of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the Duma, have been in discussions regarding amendments to the country’s existing cryptocurrency legislation “On digital financial assets” with market stakeholders. The amendments, which would lay down a legal framework for a national exchange, will first be presented to the central bank.
Sergey Altuhov, a member of Duma’s Committee of Economic Policy, highlighted the fiscal sensibility of such measures:
“It makes no sense to deny the existence of cryptocurrencies, the problem is they circulate in a large stream outside of state regulation. These are billions of tax rubles of lost tax revenues to the federal budget.“
In June, the head of Duma’s Committee on Financial Market, Anatoly Aksakov, suggested that a national crypto exchange in Russia could be launched as part of the Moscow Exchange, “a respectable organization with long traditions.” In September, the Moscow Exchange drafted a bill on behalf of the central bank to allow trading in digital financial assets.
Earlier this month, a bill that would legalize cryptocurrency mining and the sale of the cryptocurrency mined was introduced to Duma. The bill would form a Russian platform for cryptocurrency sales will be, but local miners will also be able to use foreign platforms. In the latter case, Russian currency controls and regulations would not apply to transactions, but they would have to be reported to the Russian tax service.
Japanese Digital Yen Pilot to Begin ‘in Early 2023’
The Japanese central bank could begin piloting the digital yen as early as spring 2023 and will reportedly start a trial involving “consumers and private sector companies.”
Per Nikkei, sources close to the matter confirmed that the Bank of Japan (BoJ) is close to completing its “basic functions” tests on the central bank digital currency (CBDC) prototype. Assuming there are no last-minute issues, the BoJ will then move on to “second-phase pilot testing” that “will begin in the spring of 2023.”
The BoJ has previously stated that it wants “second-phase pilot tests” to “involve private businesses and consumers.”
The same media outlet claimed that the BoJ is already in talks with “three mega-banks” as well as several regional banking players ahead of the pilot. It also added that these financial companies had “a positive attitude” to the pilot.
How Close is Japan to Launching a Digital Yen?
The BoJ is keen to experiment with issues such as transaction speeds and interest accrual in the new phase of the pilot.
But it appears likely that the bank will want to move forward with pilots not unlike those being conducted in nearby China. Beijing has essentially released its digital yuan in a number of its biggest financial hubs – and has experimented with both online and offline functionality.
However, unlike the Chinese CBDC, which does not make direct use of blockchain technology, the BoJ’s prototype is more likely to make use of some of the IT advances that are used in cryptoassets.
The BoJ has repeatedly claimed that it is “yet to decide” whether it will indeed seek to launch a CBDC.
Instead, it has stated that a “national consensus” would need to be achieved before a token could be launched.
The BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told a parliamentary session back in January this year that a decision on digital yen issuance might not be forthcoming until 2026. However, Japan's breakneck pace of pilot development would appear to suggest otherwise.
Best Crypto to Buy Today 24 November – D2T, DASH, TARO, SOL, RIA
The crypto markets are more or less in limbo as major cryptos like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, and Ripple are showing slight gains over the past 24 hours while still being down slightly over the past week.
Meanwhile, the total crypto market cap is up almost 1% in the past 24 hours and currently sits at $834.4 billion. The total crypto market volume over the last 24 hours has decreased by 13% to $52.67 billion, while Bitcoin is up 0.63% over the past day and is currently trading at an average price of $16,570.
Solana, which has seen intense volatility on a massive downward trajectory since FTX's collapse, is at $14.36, up 3.41% over the past 24 hours.
In other news, Binance has stepped in to bid for defunct crypto lender Voyager now that FTX is out of the picture.
In an interview, Binance US CEO "CZ" Zhao confirmed that the company will make a new bid for cryptocurrency lender Voyager. He said that this decision was made because "FTX is no longer able to follow through on that commitment".
Following Voyager's bankruptcy, FTX first emerged as the frontrunner to acquire the lender while Binance's original bid was reportedly withheld. CZ clarifies: “I think the U.S. national security concerns were rumors spread by FTX."
Although it may be risky to buy into cryptocurrencies with little short to medium-term upside potential due to current market conditions, cryptocurrencies like SOL that have already suffered huge losses may be an option to consider if the wider market continues to move sideways. DASH may also be a good buy once it consolidates after a recent pump. Meanwhile, tokens in presale like D2T, TARO, and RIA offer a chance to capitalize on future growth.
Dash 2 Trade (D2T) Dash 2 Trade is a cutting-edge crypto analytics and social trading platform that enables users to find the best trades for any coin and time frame. The platform, currently in presale, will launch in Q1 of 2023 and will offer indispensable tools to traders to track and analyze price movements, news, and market sentiment of various coins.
Visit Dash 2 Trade Now
DASH After a major pump starting on Nov. 22 that saw the crypto rise 37% at one point and hit $43.59, Dash has entered a consolidation phase while forming a bull pennant pattern.
Some speculation suggests prices may have pumped due to the cryptocurrency's anonymous nature and its potential use for online betting in the FIFA World Cup. Whatever the cause, if Dash shows a decisive break out above $44 it may be considered a short-term buy, with a reasonable price target of $47.
RobotEra (TARO) The project is a metaverse world in which the founders are attempting to create a Sandbox-style environment. This means that there will be different assets and experiences available as part of the world for players to enjoy.
The project will initially sell the native token $TARO to run the in-world economy. They will then sell land parcels and robot characters as NFTs. $TARO can be used for various in-world transactions like purchases, entries into games and events, etc.
The robot NFT will be the user's in-game character, while the land will allow users to build assets mine $TARO, build digital buildings, create games, and more. The project's easy-to-use tools will allow users to create assets in the RobotEra metaverse with no coding knowledge.
The world also features "play to earn" elements, so players can earn $TARO by completing tasks.
Visit RobotEra Now.
Solana (SOL) As you probably know, Solana tanked big after the FTX fiasco, with FTX selling off their large holdings of the coin to prop up the price of FTT -- while speculation of how Solana would survive without the support of the exchange further depreciated its value.
It's quite possible that Solana has seen its bottom and may be able to gain enough momentum from here to hit the 50% retracement level from its ATH, around $20. However, there is no guarantee that simply because it has currently fallen 95% since its ATH that it's currently a solid buy.
Sam Bankman-Fried deepfake attempts to scam investors impacted by FTX
A faked video the FTX founder created by scammers has circulated on Twitter with users poking fun at its poor production quality.
A faked video of Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has circulated on Twitter, attempting to scam investors affected by the exchange’s bankruptcy.
Created using programs to emulate Bankman-Fried’s likeness and voice, the poorly made “deepfake” video attempts to direct users to a malicious site under the promise of a “giveaway” that will “double your cryptocurrency.”
The video uses appears to be old interview footage of Bankman-Fried and used a voice emulator to create the illusion of him saying “as you know our F-DEX [sic] exchange is going bankrupt, but I hasten to inform all users that you should not panic.”
The fake Bankman-Fried then directs users to a website saying FTX has “prepared a giveaway for you in which you can double your cryptocurrency” in an apparent “double-your-crypto” scam, where users send crypto under the promise they’ll receive double back.
A now-suspended Twitter account with the handle S4GE_ETH is understood to have been compromised, leading to scammers posting a link to the scam website — which now appears to have been taken offline.
The crypto community has pointed to the fact that scammers were able to pay a small fee in order to get Twitter’s “blue tick” verification in order to appear authentic.
Meanwhile, the video received widespread mockery for its poor production quality, with one Twitter user ridiculing how the scam production pronounced “FTX” in the video, saying they’re “definitely using [...] ‘Effed-X’ from now on.”
At the same time, it gave many the opportunity to criticize the FTX founder, one user said “fake [Bankman-Fried] at least admits FTX is bankrupt,” and YouTuber Stephen Findeisen shared the video saying he “can’t tell who lies more” between the real and fake Bankman-Fried.
Related: Crypto scammers are using black market identities to avoid detection: CertiK
Authorities in Singapore on Nov. 19 warned affected FTX users and investors to be vigilant as websites offering services promising to assist in recovering crypto stuck on the exchange are scams that mostly steal information such as account logins.
The Singapore Police Force warned of such a website which prompted FTX users to log in with their account credentials that claimed to be hosted by the United States Department of Justice.
Others have attempted to profit from the attention FTX and its former CEO are receiving. On Nov. 14, shortly after Bankman-Fried tweeted “What” without further explanation, some noticed the launch of a so-called memecoin called WHAT.
Deepfake videos have long been used by cryptocurrency scammers to try to con unwitting investors. In May, faked videos of Elon Musk promoting a crypto platform surfaced on Twitter using footage from a TED Talk the month prior.
The video caught Musk’s attention at the time, who responded: “Yikes. Def not me.”
Crypto scammers are using black market identities to avoid detection: CertiK
The blockchain security firm has uncovered a new tactic used by crypto scammers as the industry continues to improve its fraud detection capabilities.
Crypto scammers have been accessing a “cheap and easy” black market of individuals willing to put their name and face on fraudulent projects — all for the low price of $8.00, blockchain security firm CertiK has uncovered.
These individuals, described by CertiK as “Professional KYC actors,” would, in some cases, voluntarily become the verified face of a crypto project, gaining trust in the crypto community prior to an “insider hack or exit scam.”
Other uses of these Know Your Customers (KYC) actors include using their identities to open up bank or exchange accounts on behalf of the bad actors.
According to a Nov. 17 blog post, CertiK analysts were able to find over 20 underground marketplaces hosted on Telegram, Discord, mobile apps and gig websites to recruit KYC actors for as low as $8.00 for simple “gigs” like passing the KYC requirements “to open a bank or exchange account from a developing country.”
Pricier jobs involve the KYC actor putting their face and name on a fraudulent project. CertiK noted that most actors are seemingly exploited as they are based in developing countries “with an above-average concentration in South-East Asia” and paid around $20 or $30 per role.
Meanwhile, more complex requirements or verification processes could fetch an even higher asking price, particularly if the KYC actors are residents of countries considered a low money laundering risk.
Some roles paid up to $500 a week if an actor was to play the role of CEO for a malicious project but the KYC actor market was “marginal” compared to the market for already KYCed bank and crypto exchange accounts, according to CertiK.
Crypto to fiat — or vice-versa — conversions were also cited as a significant percentage of the transactions seen on these marketplaces with CertiK calculating that more than 500,000 members in marketplace sizes ranging from 4,000 to 300,000 were buyers and sellers on these black markets.
Related: Scary stats: $3B stolen in 2022 as of ‘Hacktober,’ doubling 2021
CertiK warned that over 40 websites claiming to vet crypto projects and offer “KYC badges” are “worthless,” as the services are “too superficial to detect fraud or simply too amateur to detect insider threats.”
They added the teams behind these websites are “missing the needed “investigation methodology, training, and experience,” meaning these badges are then leveraged by scammers to mislead the community and investors.
That being said, the industry has been working hard and is gaining ground in its fight against crypto scammers. A tool released in October by traditional finance giant Mastercard combines artificial intelligence and blockchain data to help find and prevent fraud.
Contrary to popular belief, the open nature of blockchain transactions means it’s harder for fraudsters to hide the movement of funds. Another recent example has been the work of French authorities using on-chain analysis to find and charge five people who stole nonfungible tokens (NFT) through a phishing scam.