Posted on June 22, 2018 by staff

FinTech Crypto Briefing: Hackers attack another exchange


Mainstream interest in the world of cryptocurrency is growing an extraordinary rate – but a rise in the number of attacks on crypto exchanges means investors are more on alert than ever before.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: hardly a week goes by without news of a major digital currency exchange falling victim to a cyber criminal.

South Korea’s Bithumb has become one of the latest exchanges to have been targeted, with $31.5 million reported to have been stolen.

Of course, some would say this is just a drop in the ocean when you consider that more than $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies was reportedly stolen in the first half of 2018.

Bithumb said it was working with cryptocurrency exchanges and others to prevent further losses and retrieve the funds – a move which was hailed by the Korea Blockchain Association, which called the hack “embarrassing”.

Charlie Lee, founder of the world’s fifth-largest cryptocurrency Litecoin, says it’s normal for investors to panic but that a hack should not change the fundamentals of crypto assets.

He cited the example of a gold heist at a bank, arguing that theoretically it shouldn’t affect the price of gold.

“Whenever there’s an exchange hack, people get scared and the price drops. It happens all the time,” he told CNBC’s Fast Money programme this week. “The thing is it doesn’t really change the fundamentals of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.”

Crypto could be ‘Saviour of Africa’

…So says rapper and music producer Akon, who made headlines this week after announcing his plans to build in a city in Senegal based on his own cryptocurrency.

The 45-year-old says ‘AKoin’ could be at the centre of a futuristic African city similar to Wakanda – the hi-tech fictional African nation from Marvel’s award-winning Black Panther movie.

For the sake of context, I should clarify that this wasn’t a revelation that came out over Friday night drinks in a pub. The Grammy-nominated artist was in fact speaking on a panel about Africa, blockchain and entrepreneurship at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

He says he will call the city Akon Crypto City but does not plan to be intimately involved in the execution of the project.

“I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out,” he said.

Chinese police arrest 16

The crazy world of cryptocurrency is hugely exciting – but it has also become a haven for scams and fraud.

Sixteen IT employees who installed hidden cryptocurrency miners on thousands of computers in China were arrested by police last week.

The group reportedly used the computers to mine for the Siacoin (SC) cryptocurrency, which is currently ranked as number 32 by trading volume.

When Internet cafe owners would complain that their computers would become unusable, the employees called to investigate would tell them they found nothing wrong.

This incident is part of a recent wave of arrests for crypto mining-related offences.

Japanese police have recently arrested 16 individuals who were suspected of being involved in cryptojacking, the practice of adding JavaScript-based coinminers to online websites.

One of UK’s largest FinTech deals

Global Processing Services (GPS) is probably a company you’ve never heard of, but it’s technology powers ‘household names’ of the digital banking world like Revolut, Curve and Starling Bank.

The payment processing firm has recently raised £44 million in one of the largest FinTech financing deals of the year.

Private equity house Dunedin took a “significant stake” in the business, which has around 150 employees in London and Newcastle.

Another airport gets on board with crypto

Earlier this month I told you about an Australian airport making history by becoming the world’s first cryptocurrency-friendly airport.

Well now Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has become the first European airport to trial a ‘cryptocurrency ATM’ which lets travelleres swap leftover euros for international cryptocurrencies.

Tanja Dik, director of consumer products and services at Schiphol, said: “With the bitcoin ATM, we hope to provide a useful service to passengers by allowing them to easily exchange ‘local’ euros for the ‘global’ cryptocurrencies bitcoin and ethereum.

“That can be beneficial if, for instance, it’s not possible to spend euros in their home country.”

The machine has been installed for a six-month trial to gauge demand for the service.