The second week of July has been exciting for the cryptocurrency markets. Arguably the biggest news was that Chinese authorities cracked down on a $1.5 billion cryptocurrency World Cup gambling ring. Local police seized the accounts of six suspects worth over 15 million yuan, a majority in cryptocurrency. The gambling site operated on the dark web, accepted only cryptocurrencies, attracted 330,000 users and used a pyramid scheme referral system. Chinese authorities have been working hard to shut down illegal World Cup gambling operations.
Here’s the rest of the week in review:
Bitcoin (BTC) apparently played a role in Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A new report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers. The report accuses the officers of stealing voter data, illegally accessing the Democratic campaign committee’s computers, and using BTC to launder more than $95,000, among other counts. The officers apparently used BTC to buy servers and domains and pay off activities related to hacking. With the help of the FBI’s cyber teams, the Special Counsel’s investigation continues to shed light. The cryptocurrency and political communities expressed a variety of opinions on the report on social media.
On July 11, President Trump signed an executive order to establish a new task force that will investigate and prosecute consumer fraud in various markets, including digital currency fraud. The attorney general has been directed to establish a Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud, with members from the Justice Department. The task force will make financial fraud enforcement recommendations to the attorney general and president. The executive order can be seen as another sign of greater regulatory scrutiny of cryptocurrency.
Steven Cohen, known as the “hedge fund king,” has invested in a cryptocurrency hedge fund. The billionaire manager made an investment through Cohen Private Ventures, his long-term portfolio fund. An undisclosed amount was invested in Autonomous Partners, a fund that buys both coins and equity stakes in blockchain startups. Led by venture capitalist Arianna Simpson, Autonomous Partners’ portfolio includes BTC, Ethereum (ETH), privacy coins, and 0x, but not Ripple (XRP). Cohen’s move suggests that some big players are interested in buying at low prices.
A new paper published by Finland’s central bank argues that the idea of cryptocurrency as currency is a fallacy. The Bank of Finland compares how banks and Bitcoin function. It states that money is a unit of account, so cryptocurrency serves as a recordkeeping mechanism. But it concludes that money is not well understood by people and that cryptocurrency is not money. The central bank classifies cryptocurrency as a commodity. While cryptocurrency has features that bolster the argument that it is not money, the debate continues.
Square Cash, a money transfer app that enables Bitcoin purchases, is reportedly outpacing the growth of PayPal’s popular social payment app Venmo. According to a report by CNBC that cites a recent Nomura Instinet analysis, Square Cash had nearly 2 million downloads per month in May and June, tripling Venmo’s growth during that period.
Coinbase, the popular cryptocurrency wallet and exchange, announced that it is currently exploring adding five new cryptocurrencies to its trading products, including Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC) and 0x (ZRX).
Cryptocurrency prices mostly fell this week, as last week’s rally met fierce resistance. The biggest winners are Metaverse ETP (ETP), up 43%, PRIZM (PZM), up 14%, and GoChain (GO), up 14%. The biggest losers are Nebulas (NAS), down 31%, Bitcoin Diamond (BCD), down 29%, and Elastos (ELA), down 27%. Next week might be eventful, as the majors’ one-day moving average convergence divergence (MACD) could go negative, plunging the market into deeper lows.
Disclaimer: This article’s author has cryptocurrency holdings that can be tracked here. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice. Always conduct your own due diligence before making investments.