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US SEC Charges Convict and Associates for $30M Fraudulent ICO

The United States Securities and Exchange Commision has charged a group of criminals, who raised over $30 million through a fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO).

Per a Jan. 12 press release, the SEC charged convicted Boaz Manor, his business associate, and two companies, CG Blockchain Inc. and BCT Inc. SEZC, with violating the antifraud and securities registration provisions of the federal securities laws. Manor is a dual citizen of Canada and Israel. 

The entities allegedly raised more than $30 million in a fraudulent ICO, conducted with the objective to launch hedge funds testing technology to record transactions on blockchain.

In an effort to develop a “blockchain terminal”

The SEC’s complaint reads that between August 2017 and September 2018, the defendants promoted and sold digital asset securities in an effort to develop technologies for hedge funds. Manor misrepresented himself as “Shaun MacDonald,” an employee of his New Jersey-based associate Edith Pardo, an Israeli citizen, who allegedly ran the company.

At the time, the defendants claimed that they possessed 20 hedge funds testing technology to record transactions on blockchain, while in fact they only sent a prototype to a number of funds, which did not use it. Commenting on the matter, Joseph G. Sansone, chief of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit, said:

“As alleged in our complaint, Manor’s brazen scheme to conceal his identity and criminal history deprived investors of essential information and allowed defendants to take over $30 million from investors’ pockets.”

The SEC’s requirements

Also today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced criminal charges against Manor and Pardo, in a parallel action.

The SEC thus seeks disgorgement of illegally obtained profits plus interest, penalties, and injunctive relief, as well as bars Manor and Pardo from acting as officers or directors of public companies and from participating in future securities offerings.

As Contelegraph previously reported, Manor received a four-year prison sentence in Canada in 2012 for siphoning $106 million from a Toronto-based hedge fund that he co-founded. The Canadian fund reportedly had $800 million in assets under management at its peak from 26,000 investors.

On Jan. 14, the SEC sent out a warning from its Investor Education and Advocacy wing, urging citizens to be wary of initial coin offerings.

Bitcoin Price Already Up 25% in 2020 After Hitting $9,000

Bitcoin (BTC) hit $9,000 on Jan. 17 as technical metrics continued to break both local and all-time records. 

Cryptocurrency market daily overview

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

BTC clips $9,000 as traders lie in wait

Data from Coin360 and Cointelegraph Markets showed BTC/USD finally rising to the significant $9,000 boundary on Friday, following a bullish run-up overnight.

At press time, a slight retracement had sent the pair slightly lower to $8,900, with 24-hour returns still at 3% and weekly performance stronger at almost 16%. Bitcoin holders are currently sitting on monthly gains totaling almost 35%.

Bitcoin 1-day price chart

Bitcoin 1-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Now, however, attention is turning to shorter time frames. For regular Cointelegraph contributor filbfilb, despite Bitcoin’s bullish overall movements, the next close would be crucial in determining short-term trajectory. 

Specifically, if BTC/USD were to close below the bullish candle, which took it to current highs, the chance of a bearish reversal would be on the table. The price under such circumstances would then paint a so-called swing failure pattern, or SFP, which in turn may keep the pair lower.

“When price pierces above a key swing high but then closes back below that swing high, we have a potential bearish SFP,” he summarized in private comments to Cointelegraph.

In addition, the 200-day moving average, which has served as major resistance for the past two years, is also hovering around the low $9Ks. Thus, it will likely present a critical barrier for the bulls if a run-up to $10,000 is to occur. 

Bitcoin price vs. 200-day moving average, 2018-present

Bitcoin price vs. 200-day moving average, 2018-present. Source: Tradingview

Regardless, Bitcoin was exhibiting multiple trends to excite analysts as the week drew to a close. 

Hash rate, a measure of the computing power dedicated to validating the Bitcoin blockchain, hit a new all-time high on Thursday. While figures vary, monitoring resource Coin Dance put Bitcoin’s hash rate at 149 quintillion hashes per second.

Also making fresh progress was overall interest in Bitcoin, with data from Google Trends showing worldwide searches for the term “Bitcoin” at their highest since late October. 

Cointelegraph regularly reports on both hash rate and public awareness on Google Trends.

Ethereum Classic winning bet among altcoins

Altcoins continued their highly varied bullish price action as Bitcoin hit two-month highs. 

Out of the top twenty cryptocurrencies by market cap, it was Ethereum Classic (ETC) which led the charge on Friday, rising over 30% to $9.82.

Ethereum (ETH), the largest altcoin, meanwhile managed 6.5% to trade at $172.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Other solid performers were Chainlink (LINK) and Cosmos (ATOM), both of which delivered around 17% 24-hour gains. 

The overall cryptocurrency market cap was $245.6 billion, with Bitcoin’s share at 66%.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Ex-CFTC Chairman to Promote Blockchain-Based USD in New Think Tank

J. Christopher Giancarlo, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), plans to promote the blockchain-based United States dollar with a new think tank.

Giancarlo, who earned the “Crypto Dad” moniker for advocating a “do no harm” approach to blockchain regulation, is now setting up a think tank called the Digital Dollar Foundation to promote the idea of digitizing the U.S. dollar.

Giancarlo’s digital dollar is based on technology behind Bitcoin

According to a Jan. 16 report by The Wall Street Journal, the ex-CFTC chairman is establishing the non-profit foundation to study prospects for converting the dollar into a “fully electronic currency based on blockchain,” the underlying technology of Bitcoin (BTC).

As reported, the initiative will be promoting research and exploration of potential benefits presented by digitizing the U.S. dollar and is expected to launch later on Jan. 16.

Alleged e-krona partner Accenture is supporting the project and foundation

Both the new foundation and Giancarlo’s Digital Dollar Project are supported by global consulting giant Accenture PLC, the report notes. In December 2019, Sweden’s central bank revealed its plans to partner with Accenture for its own digital currency known as the e-krona.

Other founders of the the Digital Dollar Foundation include Daniel Gorfine, a former CFTC official who led the regulator’s fintech research, and Giancarlo’s brother Charles Giancarlo. Charles previously worked at international tech and IT firm Cisco Systems and private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

While the Giancarlos and Gorfine are providing the initial funding for the foundation, Accenture will focus on providing research as well as logistical support, company representatives reportedly said.

Cointelegraph reached out to Gorfine for comment on the initiative but had yet to receive a response as of press time. This article will be updated if new comments come in.

Giancarlo previously argued that the dollar could lose status in the future

Giancarlo, who first proposed his digital dollar initiative in October 2019, emphasized that the U.S. risks losing its global economic leadership if it falls behind China, which is smoothly progressing with its digital yan project. In an interview with the WSJ, Giancarlo stressed that his foundation was a non-profit and targets advancing U.S. national interests. He said:

“Like with the physical infrastructure of this country, if you don’t modernize and keep up with the times, those strengths will begin to fray.”

As Giancarlo argued in October, the U.S. needs to create the digital dollar because traditional dollar could lose its status in the future due to countries rolling out digital currencies. He said at the time:

“Significant actors, including central banks and social media platforms, may launch new currencies in the next few years. As their networks grow, they could eventually erode the dollar’s status as the most popular currency for international exchange.”

In September 2019, Giancarlo joined the board of advisors of the Chamber of Digital Commerce’s digital-asset lobbying group.

Thai Officials to Investigate Alleged Cryptocurrency Pyramid Scheme

A human rights lawyer representing victims of an alleged cryptocurrency pyramid scheme in Thailand is taking their case to the country’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

The Bangkok Post reported on Jan. 16 that roughly 20 victims, whose losses are alleged to total 75 million baht (~$2.5 million), are seeking to go beyond the investigations of local police in Thailand’s Krabi province given the gravity of the case. 

The DSI, a department of the Thai Ministry of Justice, works independently of the Thai Royal Police force and is tasked with the investigation of “special cases,” such as those involving organized criminal networks or cases tied to national security threats.

Eight percent weekly returns — until the check bounces

According to the report, the alleged pyramid scheme, dubbed “Khung Nong Cryptocurrency Trading,” operated in Krabi province in 2018. Promising returns of as high as 8% weekly, locals in the towns of Krabi, Trang, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat are reported to have sold off assets including private land, cars and motorcycles to raise the money for their investments.

Between October 2018 and February 2018, the scheme drew in more victims, until its operator abruptly stopped paying out dividends. One investor, Noopad Wachedi, said she had sold her land to raise the money needed to invest, and that the check given to her by Khung Nong Cryptocurrency Trading’s operators subsequently bounced.

Ms. Noopad claimed her recruiter had alleged her investment was being overseen by state officers; another victim, her relative, also alluded to a series of alleged tricks used to deceive investors.

Local heists

In fall 2019, Cointelegraph reported that Bangkok police had arrested a 48-year old man who had styled himself the “cryptocurrency wizard” over his alleged role in a 500 million baht ($16.3 million) crypto exchange fraud. 

The previous year, another illustrious local figure — the Thai soap-opera star Jiratpisit Jaravijit — was arrested for his alleged role in 797 million baht ($24.6 million) Bitcoin (BTC) investment heist, which he purportedly operated together with his siblings.

US Congress Looks at Role of Crypto and Internet in Funding Hate Crimes

The House Financial Services Committee has raised concerns over the use of cryptocurrencies to fund domestic terrorism in the United States.

In a Jan. 15 hearing, the FSC Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy has examined how U.S. financial institutions can combat domestic terrorism, extremism and acts of hate.

Titled “A Persistent and Evolving Threat: An Examination of the Financing of Domestic Terrorism and Extremism,” the hearing featured five witnesses reporting on various fundraising methods used by organized domestic extremists. Particularly, the officials and executives have outlined crypto as an important fundraising tool for hate crimes, emphasizing that criminal funding is often distributed via popular social media platforms like Facebook and Telegram.

Facebook and Telegram help domestic extremists get funding through Bitcoin

Jared Maples, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the first witness to address the matter in the hearing, stressed that the U.S. authorities should be closely looking to the use of crypto in funding acts of domestic extremism. Noting that foreign terrorist organizations have used Telegram and Facebook to solicit funding through Bitcoin (BTC) the official listed a number of incidents that involved the cryptocurrency.

Projecting that organized domestic extremists will continue to fund their activities via crypto alongside selling counterfeit goods, drug and weapon trafficking, cigarette smuggling, Maples called Congress to not ignore the industry as a source of funding hate crimes in the U.S.:

“We cannot discount the future role of cryptocurrencies in funding acts of domestic extremism, both within New Jersey and across the United States.”

Supremacy groups turning to Bitcoin as they are cut off from traditional payment processors

Rena Miller, specialist in financial economics at the Congressional Research Service, pointed out that combating the financing of extremist groups in the U.S. poses some new challenges due to the emergence of newer online methods of fundraising. In this regard, the executive cited a 2017 study by the Anti Defamation League (ADL) that claims that supremacy groups in the U.S. tend to be decentralized rather than highly organized, often relying on crypto.

As the study also outlined the role of social media and crypto for these domestic extremists, Miller suggested that the U.S. government should be collecting and analyzing financial data more extensively. As part of the effort, authorities should have access to data provided on social media and payment processors. She said:

“Cross-cutting issues that span different areas of congressional oversight may become more important; for example, access to data provided on social media sites and payment platforms.”

ADL exec stresses that Bitcoin is still transparent despite its anonymity

George Selim, senior vice president of programs at the Anti-Defamation League, emphasized that transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain are still transparent and can be tracked despite its anonymous character. In this context, Selim mentioned Neonazi BTC Tracker, a Twitter bot that posts information related to certain identified Bitcoin wallets. Specifically, Selim noted that Stormfront, the oldest and largest white supremacist website on the Internet, received about $30,000 in Bitcoin prior to October 2017, while white supremacist hacker Andrew Auernheimer received more than a million dollars in the cryptocurrency.

The executive concluded that Congress should fund a significant study into how crypto is used in funding domestic hate crimes. Selim also suggested that the U.S. should create a certain framework that allows platforms that enables crypto-related platforms track online transactions and prevent the potential for exploitation of their services. He noted:

“New forms of financial products and services, including cryptocurrencies, should be addressed. Analysis should cover challenges as well as opportunities inherent in these new financial products and services for those endeavoring to stop the funding of hate and violence.”

While the U.S. is trying to address all possible terrorist financing loopholes against the backdrop of disturbing rise of domestic terrorism and hate crimes, some experts claim that crypto is “poor form of money” for terrorists. Back in 2018, U.S. Congress concluded that terrorist groups that attempted to raise funds via crypto have not had great success. Similarly, U.S. nonprofit think tank RAND Corporation said that crypto is not well-suited for the needs of terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, the European Union has recently enforced another important anti-money laundering law that aims to bring more transparency to financial transactions for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Came into effect on Jan. 10, the European Union’s 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive has apparently forced some crypto firms in Europe to shut down their businesses, partly due to requirements to disclose too much information about their clients.

United Nations Says Stay Away From North Korean Crypto Conference

The United Nations has warned that attending a North Korean cryptocurrency conference in February is likely to constitute a sanctions violation, according to a report by Reuters on Jan. 15.

The report follows last week’s indictment of Ethereum Foundation researcher Virgil Griffith on charges of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Griffith traveled to North Korea for its first blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in April last year. While there, he and other conference attendees allegedly discussed cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. The United States government contends that Griffith’s presence could have aided North Korea in skirting international sanctions. 

Prosecutors in the Griffith case say that he had been encouraging other United States citizens to attend the conference this year.

The conference website states that individuals from any country except for South Korea, Japan and Israel are allowed to visit, adding that visitor passports will not be stamped:

“We will provide a paper visa separated from your passport, so there will be no evidence of your entry to the country. Your participation will never be disclosed from our side unless you publicize it on your own.”

Sanctions experts say “don’t go”

North Korea has been subject to U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Among other things, these sanctions oblige countries to prevent “financial transactions, technical training, advice, services or assistance,” if it could contribute to the missile programs or help to evade sanctions.

The alleged “explicit discussions of cryptocurrency for sanctions evasion and money laundering,” would seem to be in direct violation of this sanction.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the North Korean-affiliated hacking group Lazarus has seemingly been deploying new viruses and malware to steal cryptocurrency. Lazarus has been targeting cryptocurrency users for some time, stealing over half a billion dollars worth, between early 2017 and October 2018.

Bitcoin Price Hits 2-Month High at $8.7K as 3 Bullish Factors Converge

Bitcoin (BTC) surprised traders and analysts alike on Jan. 14 after BTC/USD broke out of its already bullish channel to strike at resistance levels near $8,600.

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

BTC climbs 2% in an hour

Data from Coin360 and Cointelegraph Markets showed Bitcoin jump 2% in just over an hour on Tuesday to hit local highs of $8,745.

A slight retracement followed, with the pair circling $8,700 at press time amid heightened volatility.

Bitcoin 1-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin 1-day price chart. Source: Coin360

The latest leg up brings Bitcoin’s 24-hour gains to almost 8%, the largest cryptocurrency remaining at levels previously thought to harbor considerable resistance.

As Cointelegraph reported on Monday, veteran trader Tone Vays was among those anticipating further gains, claiming over the weekend that BTC/USD faced little pushback until an area around $8,800.

Vays nonetheless added that not all indicators were flashing bullish, with derivatives giant BitMEX’s funding rate forming a notably uninspiring exception.

Others were slowly turning on their previously more hawkish stance. Regular Cointelegraph contributor filbfilb also began the week on a more buoyant footing.

“Maybe some chop sideways and a bit of a backtest but everything is there to make me overall bullish,” he summarized in a tweet on Sunday.

Supporting Bitcoin’s newfound strength are various factors, including healthy volume and open interest on multiple futures products. As noted by revered Bitcoin trader Murad Mahmudov on Monday, the combination of price, volume and open interest signal a uniquely bullish setup.

Bitcoin SV jumps 45% as altcoins awaken

Beyond Bitcoin, major altcoins also reacted to the momentum, with Ether (ETH) gaining 8.1% to break $155.

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Out of the top twenty cryptocurrencies by market cap, however, Bitcoin SV (BSV) firmly led the charge, gaining a surprising 45% on the day to trade at $234. Fellow Bitcoin fork Bitcoin Cash (BCH) gained 22% over the same period.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Telegram Will Release Bank Records to SEC in Ongoing Gram ICO Case

Telegram will release bank records that the United States Securities Exchange Commission believes will prove misconduct in the latter’s $1.7 billion offering of Gram tokens. 

International privacy laws and the new information

Per a Jan. 13 filing with the court of the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Telegram will have until Feb. 26 to provide the court with the bank records that the court denied the SEC in an earlier ruling that was based on privacy concerns. 

Today’s ruling will allow Telegram to redact the information provided to the court in accordance with foreign privacy regulations. According to a letter to the court from the attorneys for the defense, Telegram — a company founded in Russia by Pavel and Nikolai Durov and currently based in Berlin — will provide the SEC with these bank records in full by Jan. 15, only redacting them before submitting them to the public record. 

The fact that Telegram’s attorneys have agreed to provide the SEC with full bank records, while the public will have access to redacted versions means that all eyes will be on the SEC’s next move as a bellwether of what they do or do not find in the new documents. Philip Moustakis, an attorney with Seward and Kissel and formerly senior counsel at the SEC, told Cointelegraph that the SEC will be on alert for evidence of Telegram’s “Failing to exercise reasonable care to ensure that the purchasers were not acting as underwriters.”

The story of the bank records

As Cointelegraph reported, the SDNY denied the SEC’s original request for information earlier in January but did so “without prejudice,” leaving the subject open to further discussion.

On Jan. 10, the SEC produced invoices from alleged underwriters to Telegram’s sale of Gram tokens that the SEC believes demonstrate offering of Gram tokens outside of their approved timeline. 

SEC v. Telegram in brief

The saga of the U.S. regulator and the messenger service began in earnest on Oct. 11, when the SEC filed an emergency action demanding a cease-and-desist in Telegram’s offering. The SEC called the sale of Gram tokens an unregistered securities offering, while Telegram argued that it qualified under Regulation D exemptions to the requirement to register as such an offering. 

The SEC has been examining opportunities to adapt its Reg. D exemptions, which are dependent on making offerings to “accredited investors” alone, who by the logic of U.S. securities law does not require the same degree of regulatory protection as main-street investors. Despite this ongoing reconsideration, the commission has persisted in identifying Telegram’s offering as a security offering, meaning that the case will continue.

CME’s Options on Bitcoin Futures Pass Regulatory Approval and Go Live

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has received necessary regulatory approval and has launched its new Bitcoin (BTC) futures options as of today, Jan. 13.

According to the official website of CME, the new type of Bitcoin derivatives contract — Bitcoin futures options — is now live, which comes in line with the company’s plans announced in November 2019.

CME’s Bitcoin futures options was subject to “regulatory approval” earlier in the day

Specifically, the launch of CME’s Bitcoin futures options follows regulatory approval that the exchange received earlier today, as reported by Cointegraph. As of press time, the approval notice has gone from the website, which apparently means that regulators have given the green light.

CME, one of the first exchanges to host Bitcoin futures contracts — alongside the Chicago Board Options Exchange back in 2017 — first announced its plans to introduce options on Bitcoin futures on Nov. 12, 2019. According to CME, the new product was announced in response to growing interest in cryptocurrencies and customer demand for tools to manage Bitcoin exposure.

Crypto derivatives market continues to surge

The news comes amid Bitcoin futures traders reportedly generating at least $20 billion in daily volume last week. According to aggregate volume data for Bitcoin futures products by analyst Skew Markets, global futures trading volume exceeded $20 billion on Jan. 8 alone.

Meanwhile, CME is purportedly the third global derivatives player to launch trading for options on Bitcoin futures. The exchange was apparently beaten by cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX that reportedly quietly launched Bitcoin options trading on Jan. 11.

As reported by Cointelegraph, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)’s digital asset platform Bakkt has become the first exchange to launch Bitcoin options in the United States.

According to estimates, crypto futures trading volume reportedly amounted to almost 50% of the value of spot trading on crypto markets as of late October 2019.

Bitcoin Breakout Hopes, Telegram Trial, Binance Donation: Hodler’s Digest, Jan. 6–12

Coming every Sunday, Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

Bitcoin on the verge of breaking seven-month downtrend

It’s been another tumultuous week for the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, which is on the verge of breaking out of a long-running downtrend. Although BTC rallied to $8,400 a few days ago — which is the next resistance zone, according to analysts — prices have since retreated back to the low $8,000s. It follows speculation that geopolitical instability, fuelled by the increasing tensions between the United States and Iran, may have sparked the surge. Data from Google Trends showed that the search term “Bitcoin Iran” surged 4,450% in the seven days leading up to Jan. 8. Also this week, Fundstrat Global Advisors suggested that BTC has the potential to deliver 100% returns to investors in 2020 — and prices may rise significantly in the five months before the halving in May.

ECB president pushes for a central bank digital currency

The president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, has said she supports the institution’s efforts to develop a central bank digital currency that would facilitate faster and cheaper cross-border payments. She revealed that the ECB is continuing to “assess the costs and benefits” of such an asset, as it would enable the public to continue using central bank money even when old-fashioned coins and banknotes decline. Adding a note of caution, an ECB spokesperson told Cointelegraph that “it will take a while” before its in-depth analysis on a CBDC is complete. Nations around the world are racing to launch their own digital currencies — and this week, the People’s Bank of China said work on its digital yuan is “progressing smoothly.”

Court denies SEC request to make Telegram reveal ICO bank records

A request by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for Telegram to reveal its bank records has been rejected by a judge in New York. Telegram’s lawyers will undoubtedly be breathing a sigh of relief that the application has been thrown out. The SEC has been trying to find out how Telegram spent the $1.7 billion raised during its initial coin offering in 2018, but the company said the regulator’s request amounted to an “unfounded fishing expedition.” It isn’t all smooth sailing for Telegram, however, as it will still have to prove that its bank records comply with foreign data privacy laws. The messaging platform said that this review will take up to seven weeks to prepare.

Former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles seeks to put long-standing lawsuit to rest

The former CEO of the defunct BTC exchange Mt. Gox has kickstarted efforts to put an end to litigation that was filed by a former user of the exchange back in 2014. Mark Karpeles argues that he is entitled to summary judgment because Gregory Greene, the main plaintiff, has admitted that his initial claims were either untrue or unsupported. The defendant’s lawyers wrote: “The time has come to end this litigation in its entirety.” Greene’s lawsuit accuses Karpeles of criminal conversion and fraud, and alleges that Mt. Gox’s bank continued to accept deposits even while customers were having difficulty withdrawing their funds. Mt. Gox famously collapsed in 2014 when around 800,000 BTC — at least 700,000 of which belonged to customers — was stolen.

Changpeng Zhao

Binance charity launches relief effort for Australian bushfires

The Binance Charity Foundation is donating $1 million worth of BNB tokens to the Australia Bushfire Donations project. The pledge from the philanthropic arm of the major cryptocurrency exchange comes as the country struggles to cope with devastating fires that have killed dozens of people, destroyed thousands of homes and scorched large swathes of land. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has called on the whole crypto community to offer its support as the fires continue to rage.

Winners and Losers

At the end of the week, Bitcoin is at $8,177.14, Ether at $145.01 and XRP at $0.21. The total market cap is at $218,284,671,194.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are Aave, GoChain and Chimpion. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Synthetix Network Token, ABBC Coin and Quant.

BTC/ETH

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis

Most Memorable Quotations

“We are working on all aspects of CBDC, with in-depth analysis of costs and benefits of such a new form of central bank money.”

Christine Lagarde, ECB president

“Beware these scams. Now on Instagram :(“

Martin Lewis, British financial expert 

“Something unforeseen that could happen could really move it [Bitcoin] faster.”

Sonny Singh, BitPay chief operating officer

“It is painful to see the bushfires burning across Australia as well as the devastating effects on the ecology and local community. We want to help this urgent crisis.”

Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO

“Litecoin Difficulty Ribbon now in recovery. Should set up a bullish breakout of the bearish channel. I wouldn’t be surprised if LTC leads a bullish breakout of BTC.”

Willy Woo, crypto analyst

Prediction of the Week

BitPay exec: “Something unforeseen” to push Bitcoin over $20,000 in 2020

Sonny Singh, the chief commercial officer at BitPay, says Bitcoin will reach its highest price ever this year… with “unforeseen” events attracting new buyers. He told Bloomberg that the reasons for the rise will only become clear once a bullish surge kicks in. Singh pointed to how BTC enjoyed gains when Greece was grappling with its sovereign debt crisis in 2015, and the boost for crypto awareness that came when Facebook announced plans for its Libra stablecoin last year. His prediction is one of the more optimistic out there. While Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz believes $12,000 will be achievable in 2020, veteran trader Peter Brandt thinks BTC could tumble to $5,500 in the summer.

Related: Experts Share: What Will Bitcoin’s Price Look Like in 2020?

FUD of the Week

Bitcoin scam ads featuring Martin Lewis now spotted on Instagram

A British financial expert has warned the public to be aware of BTC scam adverts featuring his face on Instagram. In the ad, Martin Lewis appears to be endorsing a “revolutionary Bitcoin home-based opportunity” — and it links to a rip-off version of a major news website. This comes months after Lewis successfully settled a defamation lawsuit against Facebook, the owner of Instagram, for showing similar ads. Although Facebook and Instagram had banned crypto ads at the start of 2018, it eased this policy in May 2019 — prompting dozens of fake Libra pages to flood both sites.

Sonny Singh

CFTC cannot locate man responsible for $140 million crypto Ponzi scheme

Red-faced officials at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission have said they cannot locate a man who is allegedly responsible for a crypto Ponzi scheme worth more than $140 million. Benjamin Reynolds is accused of defrauding over 1,000 investors to the tune of 22,858 BTC. The CFTC tried to serve Reynolds at the “service address” of the company that managed the scheme, but it emerged that the address didn’t actually exist. Attempts to contact him over email have also been unsuccessful.

Directors of alleged crypto pyramid scheme Dunamiscoins to stand trial

Two directors of an alleged crypto pyramid scheme in Uganda have appeared in court to face 65 counts tied to obtaining money by false promise. Prosecutors have logged more than 4,000 complaints against Dunamiscoins, a suspected fraud that collapsed in December 2019 after almost two years in operation. It is believed that dozens of victims lost up to $38,000 investing in the scheme, which promised to deliver extraordinary returns. Earlier reports had indicated up to 10,000 people may have been affected, with total losses of more than $2.7 million. Samson Lwanga and Mary Nabunya have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Christine Lagarde

Best Cointelegraph Features

Bitcoin is becoming more valuable to Iranians amid tensions with the U.S.

Shiraz Jagati takes an in-depth look at BTC’s movements following the death of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, and asks whether Iranians really believe in the power of Bitcoin.

Blockchain and crypto: Will security issues finally be dealt with in 2020?

As crypto has gained popularity over the past few years, more and more security breaches have emerged. Alex Kech explores whether 2020 will see greater collaboration to prevent such incidents, or enable stolen funds to be recovered.

What happens if the U.S. loses the blockchain war?

China is seizing an opportunity to stand up to the United States and flex its muscles. But what will happen if Beijing wins the blockchain race? Paul McNeil has a look.

Bitcoin Price $4K by April? One Big Reason to Not Be Bullish Just Yet

Bitcoin price (BTC) increased over 10% over the past week, so it didn’t take long for the usual crypto Twitter suspects to start screaming that they are all bullish now. Even I saw some bullish momentum as outlined in last week’s analysis, but have we seen the bottom yet? Or is there more downside to come before we resume a bull trend?

Daily crypto market performance

Daily crypto market performance. Source: Coin360.com

The monthly MACD is bearish

BTC USD monthly chart

BTC USD monthly chart. Source: TradingView

Working backward through various time frames, a look at the Moving Average Divergence Convergence (MACD) shows it crossed bearishly on Dec. 1 and the first red candle on the histogram was printed.

Bitcoin has never seen a single candle before changing the bias on the MACD in its entire history. As it’s one of the most widely used indicators for momentum trading, this indicates that there is bound to be a longer downward period than most traders would like to admit.  

However, one positive that is worth taking note of is that the last bullish phase was the shortest the MACD has seen on Bitcoin, just 6 months of green before flipping red. As such, speculating on how much longer we could expect a bear market for is difficult. 

If these phases are getting smaller and smaller the optimist in me suggests 4 months before we see a true bottom and reversal, which would put the pivot around April 1, 2020.

The monthly Bollinger Bands 

BTC USD BB monthly chart

BTC USD BB monthly chart. Source: TradingView

Using a combination of the Bollinger Bands (BB) indicator and the monthly volume for Bitcoin, it’s impossible to ignore how much volume has dropped off over the last 2 years. This can be interpreted in many ways. Some may view breakouts in these conditions as very short term pumps, as there’s no real interest in the asset, or some may see it as a time to be greedy when others are fearful and start accumulating.  

I’m off the view, that there’s no interest in Bitcoin, therefore the price movements we’re witnessing are short term pumps as whales continue to offload their bags as they wait for the bottom.  

The moving average (MA) of the BB shows $7,100 as critical support for Bitcoin. Should the price fall below $7,100 and this price level flips to resistance, we can then expect the price of Bitcoin to slowly make its way towards the support of the BB which is currently $2,500-$3,200 depending on your BB settings.  

I see the bottom BB support at $3,200. However, I don’t believe we will get this low. The support on the BB is gradually getting higher by the month. If it continues at this trajectory, the support could be as high as $3,800 by April 1, 2020.    

This to me is a plausible target date for the bottom since the upcoming halving is expected in May, and I’m not the only person that shares this view. Twitter user @22loops called the 2019 bottom with astonishing accuracy last year, and he’s at again with his new year’s tweet that puts Bitcoin price at around $3,797.

Why Bitcoin price isn’t bullish just yet: the weekly BB rejection

BTCUSD weekly chart

BTCUSD weekly chart. Source: TradingView

Moving over to the weekly BB, we can see where Bitcoin faltered last week. It was rejected precisely at the MA of $8,462 leaving the digital asset in the lower part of the Bollinger Bands. 

Therefore, until Bitcoin flips the MA to support, there’s no real reason to be bullish just yet.

The support here shows $6,330 as the last stronghold for Bitcoin before beginning to accept the likelihood of a sub-$4,000 Bitcoin price. However, should Bitcoin find itself on another run, breaking past the $10,000 barrier doesn’t seem to be where the issue is, but slightly higher around $10,500 seems to be where we’d expect to see BTC struggle. 

Currently, both of these scenarios are too early to call, but with that being said, the weekly MACD is definitely giving a reason for the bulls to be excited.

Bullish momentum is returning to the MACD

BTCUSD weekly RSI chart

BTCUSD weekly RSI chart. Source: TradingView

Whilst I’m a big fan of following the weekly MACD as a very reliable indicator for Bitcoin, there is one element that I can’t overlook in its current setup. If the Bitcoin price continues to stay in its current range for another 2-3 weeks, the MACD line is set to cross bullish.  

However, the positioning around the zero line doesn’t look too hot. If we take a look at the last 2 bullish crosses, they occurred at – 472 and -899 with the latter being the cross that had more momentum.  

The cross at -472 resulted in some bullish momentum, but shortly after, the Bitcoin price fell again, and it crossed into a bear trend. What is concerning here, is that should Bitcoin cross bullish on the weekly MACD, it’s likely to occur somewhere around -200 below the zero line. But what does that mean for the next bullish move? 

History tells us, that perhaps it’s too early to be screaming “Bitcoin bull run” from the rooftops just yet, and this is further echoed by the rather weak Relative Strength Index (RSI) indicator, which is currently only showing a reading of 46.53 on the weekly timeframe.

The daily charts, however, are starting to tell a story of what to expect when you combine all 4 indicators mentioned in this analysis.  

Is the daily timeframe bullish or bearish?

BTCUSD daily chart

BTCUSD daily chart. Source: TradingView

Above is what I see as a short setup. The Bitcoin price is at the top of the BB. The RSI is overbought, and the volume is declining, however, volume is typically thinner at the weekends. 

The last thing I’d look at is for the MACD to cross down. At present, the MACD is still strong and is yet to show signs of crossing down.  

If there’s a decline in the price, the MACD will start to cross down, and from here I’d be looking at the BB MA as my target price which is $7,400; and this target I feel is realistic due to the gap left on the CME chart. 

BTCUSD daily chart

BTCUSD daily chart. Source: TradingView

The CME is showing a gap at $7,685. Whilst this is a very tight gap that some may argue nearly closed last week, the fact remains it is there on the charts for all to see.   

Closing this gap would most certainly force the daily MACD to cross bearish, and potentially end the bullish momentum for the price of Bitcoin.

Bearish scenario

If the CME gap fills, and Bitcoin continues to fall from $7,865, then the levels of support to watch would be $7,400. If this level fails to hold, the monthly MA on the Bollinger Bands shows that $7,100 is the price to defend. 

If both these levels hold, the last chance saloon for Bitcoin is $6,800 before the hodler doomsday scenarios start playing out, and from here I’d be looking for another MACD bear to bull cycle before being bullish again. 

Bullish scenario

Not much has changed since last week. The daily and weekly MACD are both bullish and should Bitcoin continue on this path the key resistance that must be broken remains at $8,500. 

Breaking this level would change the path of Bitcoin massively, opening up much larger leaps in price towards $10,500-$11,000 levels. That being said, 2-3 weeks of flat price action is equally bullish for Bitcoin in the medium term.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of @officiallykeith and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Bitcoin Price Is on the Verge of Breaking 7-Month Downtrend

The price of Bitcoin (BTC) broke out of a 2-month range and rallied to $8,400 during this week. However, the price couldn’t break out of the downtrend and is stuck in a new range.

Is the price of Bitcoin already in a bull market, or is the price expecting continuation downwards?

Crypto market daily performance. Source: Coin360

Crypto market daily performance. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin price is hovering below resistance and trendline

The chart of Bitcoin is showing an apparent breakthrough in the $7,600 level. After this upwards breakout, the price started to rally towards the next resistance zone, found at $8,400. This is also the downwards trendline (blue diagonal line) at which the price is currently hovering.

BTC USD 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

BTC USD 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

The price is moving in a crucial range, as a breakout above $8,400 would lead to a breakout of the 7-months downtrend. However, losing the $7,600 level as support would lead to an acceleration downwards, and then the price is likely to be continuing towards $6,400 or $5,800.

BTC USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

BTC USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 4-hour chart shows a clear retest of the $7,660 level as confirmation of support yesterday. After this test, the price of Bitcoin rallied towards $8,200 and got rejected while establishing a new range.

Total market capitalization aiming to break out of the downtrend

Total market capitalization cryptocurrency chart. Source: TradingView

Total market capitalization cryptocurrency chart. Source: TradingView

The total market capitalization chart is showing a similar outlook for the Bitcoin chart. A clear breakout upwards during the past week, as the $195 billion resistance broke to the upside. This breakout resulted in a push towards $211 billion, which is the next resistance for the total market capitalization.

Similar, the downtrend is not done yet, as the market cap is still hovering below the trendline. However, a clear break above $211 billion would mean that the market capitalization will be ready to move towards $248 and $268 billion as the next target area.

Altcoins flipping necessary USDT levels as support

How are altcoins performing recently? They are doing reasonably well against their USDT pairs. If people want to trade altcoins, it’s compulsory to use both BTC and USDT charts as that would give a clear view of the movements of the coin.

Ether (ETH) provided an excellent breakout upwards in the USDT pair recently, as the chart below shows.

ETH USD 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

ETH USD 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

ETH made a clear break of the $133 level, pushing price towards $145. A similar retest occurred and provided a good bounce, which means that buyers stepped in at $135 and confirmed this as the new support.

The price of Ether is currently also hovering below the downwards trendline. If the price can break out to the upside, targets of $167 and $190 are on the table.

A similar support/resistance flip is found on the XRP chart.

XRP USD 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

XRP USD 1-day chart. Source: TradingView

The XRP chart is showing a similar story as the other large caps: a move to the upside in which a retest resulted in confirmation of the breakout. If the price of XRP is stabilizing above the recent resistance, a breakout and continuation are likely to occur.

This breakout would lead to a potential retest of the $0.30, the level XRP bounced on throughout 2018. On the other hand, losing the green level at $0.20 would mean continuation to the downside.

Altcoin market capitalization showing similarities with February 2019

Total altcoin market capitalization chart. Source: TradingView

Total altcoin market capitalization chart. Source: TradingView

The total altcoin market capitalization shows similarities with the period in February 2019. The market capitalization has been hovering below the $59 billion support for a month, which was flipped into support in the recent week.

A similar move was seen in February 2019 with the $49 billion levels. This retest marked the start of an uptrend in the months after. If the total altcoin market capitalization can make a similar move in this period, a push towards $78-80 billion would be expected. 

Bullish scenario Bitcoin

At this point, there are two simple scenarios that are likely to happen for the current Bitcoin price action. Let’s start with the bullish one first.

BTC USD 1-day chart bullish scenario. Source: TradingView

BTC USD 1-day chart bullish scenario. Source: TradingView

Support around the $7,600 area must be maintained for the bullish scenario. If the price of Bitcoin can do that (which it looks like at this point), the price is ready for continuation to the upside.

In that regard, a breakout of the downtrend is likely to occur. A breakout would trigger more people to step into the market, causing a strong impulse wave to the upside.

If Bitcoin breaks the downtrend, then the $9,500 and $10,000 levels will be the next targets. Another resistance level is found at $8,800, but it’s likely to be broken. The reasoning is simple: a breakout of a 7-months downtrend would give a strong impulse move and strong buying power. Thus, a push to $9,500 is expected to occur.

The $9,500 level is crucial as price bounced several times here during the summer of 2019. Therefore, it is likely to be the next resistance.

Bearish scenario Bitcoin

BTC USD 1-day chart bearish scenario. Source: TradingView

BTC USD 1-day chart bearish scenario. Source: TradingView

The $7,600 level is also a crucial level for the bearish scenario. If the price of Bitcoin can’t hold the $7,600 level as support, the breakout to the upside can then be classified as a “fake-out,” possibly leading towards the continuation of the downward movements.

An example shows the big push towards $10,000 in October. The price of Bitcoin wasn’t able to find support after this push and started to accelerate to the downside, dropping even lower than the recent low.

Thus, if the price of Bitcoin can’t hold $7,600, the sentiment will then flip bearish and traders will see where the price of Bitcoin will find new support. In this case, acceleration to the downside would make me believe that $6,400 and even $5,600-5,800 could be tested as the next support levels.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.