ICICI Bank and Others Partner with Stellar to Offer Blockchain Based Fund Transfer

The Indian fintech sector has lately been in the news a lot. In yet another milestone achievement, one of the leading banking institution — ICICI has partnered with Stellar blockchain platform.

In the latest release, Stellar has announced partnerships with not one but four different entities across the world. In addition to ICICI Bank, other platforms include Coins.ph — a Philippines-based mobile financial services provider; Flutterwave — a pan-African financial platform; and Tempo Money Transfer — a French remittance service provider.

All the four companies will be using Stellar platform to power transactions on their network and beyond. ICICI Bank has announced plans to use Stellar network to support both domestic and international money transfer.  As a pilot program, ICICI Bank is expected to launch a Stellar based cross-border payment channel minus the conventional wire transfer fees. In addition, the banking major has also expressed its intention to create a mobile wallet platform based on cryptocurrency technology for use in university and office campuses.

“With blockchain technology, we are able to conduct business seamlessly with parties with which we had no prior relationships. Blockchain platforms such as Stellar.org are providing us with an automated technology solution to establish trust without the need for an intermediary… enabling us to conduct business a lot quicker, cheaper with lower error rates and lower vulnerability to cyber threats. It is helping us eradicate the need for post-transaction settlements which are cumbersome and expensive. We envision blockchain technology playing a key role in banking in the years ahead.”

Similar to ICICI, Coins.ph’s service will enable people to make domestic transfers to phone numbers or accounts within the Philippines. With Flutterwave and Stellar, M-Pesa users in African nations will be able to make fund transfers within and beyond borders. And Tempo Money Transfer will offer remittance services for European customers, enabling them transfer funds across the globe through institutions connected via Stellar.

These strategic partnerships are a two-way street where all parties involved will benefit mutually.

Ref: Official Announcement


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So that’s another day done out of Europe, and it’s time to take the second of our twice daily looks at the bitcoin price this evening. A look at the session for today reveals one thing: it’s been a bit dull. Some days, action is flat and we don’t manage to get in to any real breakout entries. Some days, we manage to get into an entry, but it’s a quick turnaround, and we don’t see anything else outside of that position materialize for the remainder of the day. Today was the latter of these two scenarios. With that said, a profit is a profit, so we shouldn’t really be complaining.

We’d like to see a bit more solid action this evening, however, just to mix things up a bit. So, with that noted, let’s outline some fresh levels, and see if we can’t pull a profit from the market.

As ever, take a quick look at the chart below before we get started, and then we’ll get in to the detail.

It’s a five-minute candlestick chart with about twelve hours’ worth of action displayed, and it’s got our key levels overlaid in green.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-20-03-34

As the chart shows, the range we are looking at is defined by in term support to the downside at 763 flat, and in term resistance to the upside at 767.

We will initially look for a reversal of the current action, and some bullish momentum, to break above, and close above, resistance. If we get this break, we’ll get in long towards an immediate upside target of 775. A stop loss on this position somewhere in the region of 765 works to keep risk pretty tight.

Looking the other way, a close below support will signal a short entry with a downside target of 755. A stop on this one at 765 looks good.

Charts courtesy of SimpleFX

The impact of regulations targeting cryptocurrencies is being felt again in the United States. This time it is the State of Washington which seems to be at the receiving end after Bitstamp announced that it won’t be providing services in the “Evergreen State”.

The platform’s mail to its customers reads,

“After long and careful deliberation, we are sorry to inform you that due to recent regulatory constraints imposed by the State of Washington, Bitstamp will cease to serve customers from The Evergreen State, effective 20th December 2016.

We kindly ask you to withdraw your funds by 20th December 2016 by means of Bitcoin or international wire. Your account will be closed after the deadline has expired.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. We are actively working to restart our services within the State of Washington and we will inform you as soon as the situation is resolved.

In the meantime, should you have any question, please feel free to reach out to our support at www.bitstamp.net/support/”

Bitstamp is one of the leading European cryptocurrency platform operating out of Luxembourg, United Kingdom , and the United States. The platform has not offered any clear explanation regarding the specificities of the regulations responsible for its decision. However, the platform currently holds a Payments Institution License issued by the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance making it the first regulated and licensed cryptocurrency platform in the Europe. Bitstamp’s license is valid across all the European Union nations.

Armed with the Payments Institution License, Bitstamp is already subject to various AML and KYC regulations along with frequent audits to ensure compliance in accordance with the EU laws. Introduction of similar conditions by the State of Washington will be of little concern to the platform, unless few drastic changes or compliance requirements are stated by the state authorities for cryptocurrency exchanges.

In the wake of recent incident involving Coinbase and the US Internal Revenue Service, Bitstamp may as well be insulating itself from any additional hassles it might face due to recent developments. Few people also believe that the complicated financial regulations of Washington State are to be blamed for Bitstamp’s decision to stop serving customers in its jurisdiction.

For now, existing Bitstamp customers from the region have another 14 days to withdraw Bitcoin deposits from their respective accounts.

Ref: Reddit | Image: Bitstamp

People keeping a close eye on the Ethereum price may have noticed things are heading south. In fact, Augur’s REP token is following a similar trend. As it turns out, someone has – allegedly – hacked one of both currency’s “whales” and is dumping all associated coins. An excellent example why security matters, even to people such as Bo Shen.

Both Ethereum and REP are going down the drain in quick succession on the exchanges. So-called “whales,” investors holding significant amounts of a particular currency, are often the reason for any significant change. But in this case, it appears one of those whales has been hacked, and this funds is being drained rather quickly.

Bo Shen, one of the early investors in Ethereum and Augur, is the “whale” in question. It is true the invested significant amounts of money in Ethereum, and later on in Augur as well. Both currencies are currently going down in value pretty quickly, indicating someone is unloading large quantities. Rumors are circulating Bo Shen has been hacked, although that has not been officially confirmed just yet.

Bo Shen Allegedly Loses ETH and REP Balances

When these types of messages are posted on social media, they need to be taken with a grain of salt. Anyone can claim they have been hacked – although Bo Shen never said as much – when things go south. Both Ethereum and REP have been going downhill before this news broke as well, as investors are seemingly losing confidence.

To make matters even worse, it appears Bo Shen seemingly had this Twitter account hacked too. That is, once again, not confirmed, as there is nothing out of the ordinary on this timeline right now. What is rather disconcerting is how this is not the first time Ethereum or any of its associated projects come under attack.

Every since The DAO got hacked, the price of Ethereum tokens has dipped lower and lower. Several hard forks later, and the price continues to go lower. When things are looking very bleak all of a sudden, one of their early adopters is allegedly hacked. It is entirely possible Bo Shen had this funds stolen, but it’s hard to prove.

In the end, this goes to show any cryptocurrency holder is vulnerable to hackers, assuming that its what happened. Storing funds in an insecure manner will attract unwanted attention. Once funds are stolen and spent, there is no way to retrieve it. Unless the Ethereum developers will hard fork again to bail out Bo Shen, that is.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

Status and Etherisc were announced winners at the recently concluded Blockchain Startup Contest.

The contest, conceptualized by the BlockchainHub Graz, saw participation by contestants from over 29 different countries. The contestants showcased a variety of blockchain use cases. Only 20 out of the 80 participants, made it to the finals where they were judged by their pitch and live Q&A session. 

Impressing the jury panel of eight thought leaders from within the industry, Status– an Ethereum mobile client, and Etherisc — a decentralized insurance application, won the contest. The winning teams were also awarded with a cash prize of €15,000 each.

Status, the Singapore headquartered open source project, combines a messenger, wallet, and DApps browser for the mass market to begin using cryptocurrency and decentralized applications directly from their Android or iOS devices. It hopes to launch an API and developer tools by the end of Q1 2017. This will enable enable DAppdevelopers to reach new users through its open, decentralized platform.

Whereas, Etherics aspires to make the insurance processes more efficient and fully transparent. For this, they build smart insurance applications on the blockchainEtheriscdemonstrated the benefits of a fully automated process with the flight delay DApp at evcon2 in Shanghai in September 2016.

Etherics is now working to extend this model to other insurance verticals and provide investors with a truly peer-to-peer and decentralized insurance market.

The Blockchain Startup Contest was organized in collaboration between Lab10, Coinfinity, and MakerSpace, and was sponsored and supported by Energie SteiermarkSteiermärkische Sparkasse + Erste Bank, eCountingKaPa Ventures and the City of Graz.

Further, the prizes were awarded in Ether (ETH) to winners, to demonstrate the near real- time cross-border payment capability of Ethereum Network.

The event was a resounding success and the amount, diversity and quality of the applications amazed even the organizers. Thomas Zeinzinger, Co-Founder of BlockchainHub Graz was quoted saying that most of the projects not only shared the Blockchain as technical foundation but also the common goal to make the world a better place.

Tuesday’s here, and as things turned out, we had a pretty interesting night’s worth of trading in the bitcoin price last night. Not because price moved considerably, or anything like that, but because we got some choppy action that fell in line with our breakout levels. Normally, choppy action is a real pain. It gets us into trades and then ends up taking them out again almost right away. That’s what stop losses are for, and it’s a pain but something we just have to accept. However, last night’s choppy action fell just about exactly where we wanted it to. We got in short, ran down to our take profit, then price turned and ran through our range to put us in long, and again, take out our profit target. We could say it’s down to excellent level placement, but that would be giving us too much credit. Sometimes the cards just fall exactly how you want them to, and this was one of those times.

Whether we’ll see a similar degree of luck in our forward operations – who knows. We’re going to go after price with a breakout strategy again, at least setting up the chance that we might see some quick profits, and see what happens.

So, take a look at the chart below to get an idea what’s on, and we’ll get moving with the detail.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-11-14-36

As the chart shows, the levels I focus for today’s session are in term support to the downside at 766, and in term resistance to the upside at 772.

We’re going to watch out for a break and a close below or above these levels respectively to get us in our positions. So, a close below support signals short towards 760 flat, and a close above resistance puts us long towards 780. Stops at 768 and 770 respectively define risk.

Happy trading!

Charts courtesy of SimpleFX

Fake Bitcoin wallets are a real threat to the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Mainly the Apple App Store seems to allow illegitimate wallets more often than not. A total of six new false wallets has been added to the Apple App Store over the past few days. Bitcoin users need to be aware of these issues and make sure they only install legitimate offerings.

Six new malicious wallets on the Apple App Store is quite a significant development. Not in a positive manner by any means, though, as the electronics giant needs to step up their game. A lot of these apps need to be checked properly by the auditing team. However, they still seem to e through without any issue, although it is anybody’s guess as to how this is happening.

It is not the first time malicious Bitcoin wallets show up in the Apple App Store either. Earlier this year, several of these malicious offerings have been reported. Although Apple has been removing these apps rather quickly, the threat is far from over. If their team would thoroughly check these wallets before approving them, the situation would be very different from now.

Apple Still Approves Malicious Bitcoin Wallets

What is rather interesting is how two of these wallets are not designed for Bitcoin users. Instead, they target the Litecoin community, which seems rather odd at this time. Then again, ever cryptocurrency community has its value to scammers, and Litecoin is not different in that regard.

This begs the question whether or not Apple is doing this on purpose. Given their track record of approving scam cryptocurrency wallets, it certainly seems they do not care much about the ecosystem. Then again, it would not be in the company’s best interest to publicly promote Bitcoin scam wallets either. Something will have to change sooner rather than later, though.

Keeping in mind how Apple has very strict restrictions when it comes to submitting apps, this news is very disconcerting. Legitimate applications have difficulties getting verified and approved, but these bitcoin wallets get approved without a second glance. The company needs to be educated on cryptocurrency wallets, by the look of things.

For the time being, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies remain a high-value target for criminals. Creating funds-stealing mobile apps is a troublesome development and one that will not go away anytime soon. Check out this Reddit thread for the most recent list of new scam additions to the Apple App Store.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

Key Highlights

  • ETH price collapsed further against the US Dollar and Bitcoin, and reached a monster support around $6.20-40.
  • There are two bearish trend lines formed on the hourly chart (data feed via SimpleFX) of ETH/USD, which may act as a resistance if the price recovers.
  • No doubt, the price has reached a major turning points or we may call it as make it or break it levels.

Ethereum price extended its downside against the USD, and moved below $7.00. However, the ETH/USD pair has now reached a monster support just above $6.00.

Ethereum Price Support to Hold Downsides?

ETH price failed to hold the downside move and declined further against the USD and BTC. The ETH/USD pair broke a major support area at $7.00, and traded lower. There was a sharp downside move, taking the pair further lower. Now, the question which comes to everyone’s mind is how long this may continue? I think the price gone too far, and must find a support soon.

The price has now reached a monster support area just above $6.00. It was a turning point many times, and could act as a strong barrier for the downside. There are chances that the price may find bids around the current or a bit lower levels, and start consolidating. So, the ETH sellers need to be very careful from here, and need not to get aggressive. On the upside, there are two bearish trend lines formed on the hourly chart (data feed via SimpleFX) of ETH/USD.

Ethereum Price Technical Analysis

These trend lines along with 38.2% Fib retracement level of the last decline from the $7.53 high to $6.39 low may act as a resistance.

Hourly MACD – The MACD is strongly placed in the bearish zone, which is a concern.

Hourly RSI – The RSI has reached the extreme oversold readings, calling for a correction.

Major Support Level – $6.20

Major Resistance Level – $7.00

 

Charts courtesy – SimpleFX

Bitcoin Price Key Highlights

  • Bitcoin price hasn’t made much headway north after pulling back to a nearby support zone.
  • Price seems to be moving inside a rising wedge pattern, as buyers are trying to push higher while sellers are also putting up a strong fight.
  • Technical indicators are hinting that further gains are in the cards for bitcoin price.

Bitcoin price appears to be trading inside a rising wedge pattern on the 4-hour chart and is currently testing the bottom.

Technical Indicators Signals

The 100 SMA is above the longer-term 200 SMA on this time frame so the path of least resistance is to the upside, which means that a bounce is more likely to take place than  downside break. In addition, the 100 SMA lines up with the rising wedge support, adding to its strength as a floor. A larger bitcoin price correction could still find support at the 200 SMA dynamic inflection point.

Stochastic is approaching the oversold region to indicate that selling pressure could weaken soon. RSI is also heading south so bitcoin price could follow suit then turn higher once the oscillator indicates oversold conditions. However, if bears are strong enough, a downside break from the 200 SMA could signal that a reversal from the uptrend is due.

Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 12/6/2016 - More Like a Rising Wedge?

Market Events

Traders have turned their attention to the goings-on in Europe so there wasn’t much action in the bitcoin arena recently. The US dollar has held on to some of its gains when risk appetite weakened but was unable to extend its climb once risk-taking resumed.

There are no major reports due from the US economy in the next few days, with the spotlight on the ECB interest rate statement. Next week, the FOMC will make its policy decision and likely increase interest rates, although this scenario has already been priced in for the past few weeks. With that, profit-taking on the dollar against bitcoin price might be seen, possibly leading to a bounce back to the resistance at $800 or higher.

Charts from SimpleFX

Vietnam has had a particularly rocky relationship with bitcoin.

Just a few months ago, the country was shattered by an alleged Ponzi scheme surrounding bitcoin activity. Promises were made that ultimately weren’t kept, and several people lost money that could have otherwise gone to much smarter and loftier purposes.

There have been several warnings about bitcoin in Vietnam since it first arrived on the scene. Like Russia, the nation has sought to keep a safe distance, believing it likely stirs up trouble and related criminal activity, though remittance systems via bitcoin are present all over South Asia.

So why the sudden change in attitude? Reports explain that Vietnam is now on the verge of legalizing bitcoin and cryptocurrency usage, and legislators are looking for ways to regulate bitcoin activity and instill new rules that will allow it to be used in the form of non-cash payments. If and when this occurs, Vietnam will stand alongside nations like the United States, France, Germany, Canada and Japan, all of which have carved out regulatory practices that can be applied to bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies.

For the most part, this stands as good news, though it’s hard to completely disbar Vietnam’s up and down relationship with digital currency in the past. On one hand, the attitude that bitcoin can induce things like tax evasion, corruption, bribery and other illegal activity has run rampant. At the same time, when the country works as a “partner ground” between Coinify and Bitcoin Vietnam, it’s a little hard to place where the nation truly stands.

Introduced early this year, Bitcoin Vietnam is the country’s first official bitcoin exchange, and is working with Coinify to introduce bitcoin transactions to the masses. Coinify CEO Mark Hojgaard has expressed that BV certainly “paved the path for bitcoin adoption” in the region, and that the team is excited to be part of such a revolutionary process.