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Despite Slow Start, Analysts Believe 2018 Could be the Best Year for Bitcoin

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Cryptocurrency markets are not off to a good start in 2018. Most markets have lost nearly half of their value during the first few weeks. This most recent dip has pushed the momentum back as well. Even so, analysts are convinced this year will be very bullish for all cryptocurrency markets in the long run. Especially Bitcoin may see some big gains.

Bitcoin Scalability Improvements?

All cryptocurrency markets have seen major declines throughout the first seven weeks of 2018. Although Bitcoin showed some good momentum this week, most gains have been lost once again. Whether or not this is a bubble effectively bursting, remains to be determined. However, there are still a few solid reasons as to why things may turn out for the better. Julian Hosp remains bullish on cryptocurrency for quite some time to come.

Especially where Bitcoin is concerned, things can still improve quite a bit. With new scaling solutions coming to the ecosystem, a lot of progress will be made. Segregated Witness is now enabled by default through the Core client. It has also become more convenient to use altogether. If this adoption rate improves, the Lightning Network has a fair chance of succeeding as well. For now, there is no official release date for the Lightning Network as of yet.

With a lack of scaling, Bitcoin made a lot of headlines due to mounting fees. At one point, a Bitcoin transaction cost over $20. It is far from ideal, yet solving the problem is not all that easy. With SegWit and LN, those fees should eventually come down over time. Only time will tell if this works as people expect it to. Moreover, the addition of smart contracts to Bitcoin through Rootstock is something to look forward to.

Other Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

Cryptocurrency is about so much more than just Bitcoin, though. More regulation of this entire industry can be a good thing in many different ways. If an industry is regulated, it is “validated” in the eyes of the general public. For now, we see dozens of countries looking into regulating Bitcoin and other currencies. Not everyone is a big fan of regulation, as it imposes severe restrictions in some cases. For now, it seems further regulation will help legitimize cryptocurrencies and digital tokens moving forward.

Most people expected institutional investors to make a big impact on cryptocurrency. Through the Bitcoin futures, that should have happened some time ago. So far, the initial interest in such futures has been rather limited. Even though the volume is picking up, it remains to be seen if institutional investors effectively show a real interest in cryptocurrency. Depending on how this trend evolves, we may see some big progress in overall prices moving forward.

Last but not least, the elephant in the room is the ICO industry. To many people, it seems initial coin offerings are the downfall of cryptocurrency. With the SEC cracking down on illicit projects, things will improve moving forward. It all comes down to more legitimate coin offerings in the future, and which companies will embrace this model. Especially with Telegram turning their ICO into an IPO of sorts, it is evident the business model itself may see some big changes.

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Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 02/23/2018 – Short-Term Reversal Signal

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Bitcoin Price Key Highlights

  • Bitcoin price recently formed a head and shoulders pattern on its 1-hour chart.
  • Price has broken below the neckline to show that a downtrend is underway.
  • The chart pattern spans more than $1,000 in height so the resulting selloff could be of the same size.

Bitcoin price broke below a short-term head and shoulders pattern to signal that more losses are in the cards.

Technical Indicators Signals

The 100 SMA is above the longer-term 200 SMA to show that the path of least resistance is to the upside or that the rally could continue. However, the gap between the moving averages has narrowed to show that bearish momentum could kick in.

Stochastic is hovering around oversold levels and could turn higher to show that buyers are ready to get back in. RSI is also in the oversold area, which means that sellers are exhausted.

In that case, a pullback to the broken neckline around $10,250 could happen before selling pressure gains more traction.

Market Factors

The US dollar gave up ground to most of its peers in recent trading sessions as risk appetite picked up. However, bitcoin price failed to benefit from this as profit-taking is being blamed for the recent drop.

Zooming out to the longer-term charts shows that price hit a long-term area of interest at $12,000, which prompted some liquidation orders. This marked the second straight day of declines for bitcoin as positive sentiment over the recent regulatory news appears to be fading.

With that, bitcoin price could need a fresh positive catalyst before resuming its rally. Otherwise, it could revisit the lows closer to the $6,500 level as more and more officials are expressing their doubts about the cryptocurrency.

Apart from that, the SEC charged former cryptocurrency exchange BitFunder and its founder Jon E. Montroll with fraud for running the operation as an “unregistered securities exchange” and allegedly defrauded clients.

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British Man Charged With Using Bitcoin to Launder 11.5 Million Euros

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A British man has been arrested on money laundering charges in Holland. He is alleged to have been running a “money cleaning” service for clients trading on the dark web between the years 2014 and 2016. The Dutch Public Prosecutor demanded on Wednesday that he serves at least five years in prison.

Funds Likely Came From Illicit Sources

According to NL Times, the laundered money is thought to have come from various dark web dealings in illicit goods. The man accused is a 38-year-old British man living in Amsterdam. It’s alleged that he was responsible for “cleaning” over 11.5 million euros during the years he was active. It’s thought that he received Bitcoin from dealers of narcotics and other contraband items and sold them using his own bank account. He then withdrew the funds in local currency and returned them, minus a cut for himself, to the original party.

The Public Prosecutor alleges that the man took an “unusually high” percentage of the funds. It’s thought that he charged between five and eight percent for carrying some of the burdens of risk for his clients. The accused and his spouse were living predominantly off their ill-gotten gains. The Prosecutor added that neither of them earns much in the way of legal income.

Along with the charges of money laundering, the suspect is also thought to have been previously cultivating cannabis illegally. Photos on his computer of large cannabis plantations at his previous home support this. The Prosecutor stated:

“He thought he had seen a gap in the market and jumped into it… He started with a cannabis plantation, sold the harvest on the dark web and was paid in bitcoins. Soon he noticed that he no longer needed the weed to make a substantial turnover and a fine profit.”

The man accused is adamant that all those he dealt with over the years 2014-16 were law-abiding citizens. He refutes the allegation that they were involved in any illicit trade. It’s thought that the court will rule on the matter in early March.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long been associated with money laundering. However, just because something illegal is possible using a certain tool doesn’t mean the tool ought to be forever tarred with that brush. It’s possible to murder someone with a lump hammer. Are all lump hammers associated with murder? No, of course they’re not.

Critics of Bitcoin love to play the money laundering card whenever they can. The fact is there are plenty more examples of money laundering that takes place using other forms of currency. Recently, US Bankcorp were forced to pay a hefty fine for the very same crime. Also, one of Bitcoin’s fiercest naysayers, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, has repeatedly stated that crypto is only good for criminal use. This includes money laundering. Just weeks after making his famous “fraud” remarks JP Morgan themselves were charged with money laundering. Evidently, current money laundering laws are failing and it’s a cop-out to blame an innovative form of currency for their shortcomings.

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Montana: Power Block Coin, LLC to Build $251 Million Data Center to Mine Cryptocurrency

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Power Block Coin, LLC’s proposal to invest $251 million to build a cryptocurrency mining farm in Montana Connections, a special tax district west of the city of Butte, has been given the green light.

This Wednesday, Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners voted unanimously (9-0) to allow Utah-based Power Block Coin, LLC — a subsidiary of Blue Castle Holdings Inc. — to build a campus of high-powered data centres in special tax district Montana Connections. The company plans to spend $251 million on improvements to the site over 36 months.

The Campus

Power Block Coin plans to harness 135-megawatts of power on its campus. As per the proposal to the county, the company will do this by building a substation at Montana Connections, which will be built in two phases over 24 months. Out of the $251 million total, $8 to $10 million will be spent on this new electric infrastructure. The company also plans to spend $60 million on between 70 to 200 separate mining units, each of which would use large amounts of power transmitted through the new substation. The size of these units will vary from larger warehouse buildings to small shipping containers.

The reason for the creation of this campus is primarily to mine digital currency mining, like Bitcoin. In addition, the infrastructure the company builds will also be able to support other businesses that need large amounts of power, such medical research, and artificial intelligence.

“Bitcoin is the fastest growing segment of cryptocurrency. If it tanks, the same processors can be used for medical research or AI (artificial intelligence),” Aaron Tilton, President and CEO of Blue Castle Holdings, said.

Moving Forward

According to Tilton’s interview with The Montana Standard, the jobs available at the campus won’t all begin at once. He estimates they will hire about 15 employees before the end of the year — that number will jump up to about 50 by the time the project is up and running. Salaries are estimated to range from $37,000 per year to $48,000 per year. Tilton said the company hopes to break ground this summer. After that, they expect to have the first data center up and running within 30 to 60 days, and by the end of the year, Power Block Coin anticipates it will have 30-megawatts of power at its campus.

County administrator Kristen Rosa said the county will reimburse Power Block Coin for their infrastructure through the taxes the company generates at Montana Connections — adding that it would only be based on what the company itself invests.

“Power Block Coin has to invest their money, build a substation, they’ll be a big power user,” Rosa said. “It’s not just a Bitcoin facility. We’re not buying into Bitcoin. They’re an aggregator, a campus to allow additional users to come in and use power.”

Data centers are key to the broader Bitcoin project going forward, as fewer coins are available to be mined and computation becomes ever more difficult. The climate of Montana is conducive to mining operations: Located in the West and Northern-most part of the U.S., along the border with Canada, Montana is very cold for a substantial part of the year, which can save miners money on cooling costs (mining operations generate a substantial amount of heat — sometimes leading to disaster).

Power Block Coin’s operation will be the second largest mining operation to find Montana in recent years. Back in 2016, Project Spokane, LLC launched its site near Missoula. It’s already one of the largest energy consumers in the region, housing a 20-megawatt facility and employing at least 25 locals.

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Taiwan: Suspects in $100k Bitcoin Robbery Arrested

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Four men have been arrested in Taiwan in connection with a Bitcoin robbery. During the incident, the suspects were able to make off with Bitcoin worth over 5 million Taiwanese dollars – the equivalent of around US$170,000. Authorities have deemed it the first case of Bitcoin robbery in the nation.

Suspects Posed as Potential Buyers of Bitcoin

According to local authorities, the victim was lured to the city of Taichung. He was under the impression that he was meeting a group to sell them Bitcoins.

After meeting with three men, the victim – surnamed Tai – showed them proof that he did indeed have the Bitcoin needed to make the trade on his phone. It was then that the suspects assaulted both Tai and his friend. The victims suitably incapacitated, the three men then sent 18BTC from the wallet on the phone to one under their control.

In an effort to cover their tracks, the suspects then forced the victims to drink a strong liquor known as Kaoliang, which is extremely popular in Taiwan. According to Taichung police, they were trying to pass the incident off as a drunken argument.

Police was alerted by a witness to the altercation. They were able to arrest one man at the scene but the others had already fled. Later, the other men were both arrested. One had attempted to evade capture by travelling to the neighbouring island of Kinmen.

According to Arab News, a statement from local law enforcement released on Wednesday described the incident as the “first domestic case of Bitcoin robbery.” It went on to say:

 “The police saw bloodstains at the scene … after further investigation, it was discovered to be a bitcoin virtual currency robbery.”

A fourth man was also detained in connection with the incident. He is believed to be responsible for planning the entire robbery.

Whilst this is the first case of Bitcoin robbery in Taiwan, it is by no means unique globally. Just last month, a similar incident occurred in the UK. This time, armed robbers broke into a property and held two victims at gunpoint until they transferred an unknown amount of Bitcoin to them.

Also last month, there was an incident of attempted Bitcoin robbery against a company in Ottawa, Canada. During this case, employees of Canadian Bitcoins were held hostage and demands were made for them to send funds to a wallet in the kidnappers’ control. However, the plan was foiled by an additional employee who was able to alert the authorities without being noticed by the criminal gang. They were forced to flee before any transfer could be made.

As the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies increases, it’s likely we’ll see more incidents of robbery and extortion occurring against holders of digital coins. For this reason, it’s wise to avoid disclosing holdings to others. In addition, care should be taken when trying to trade Bitcoin in person with someone you don’t know.

 

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