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$19 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) seized in dark web drug probe

The U.S. government has seized $19 million worth of BTC from a drug trafficker, who allegedly laundered funds through the cryptocurrency on the original dark web marketplace known as “Silk Road.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the news on Thursday, saying that the trafficker, Hugh Brian Haney, 60, was arrested near Columbus, Ohio. In 2017 and 2018, Haney allegedly transferred bitcoins representing drug proceeds he had earned through Silk Road to an account held at a company involved in the exchange of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He claimed falsely that the source of these bitcoins was from mining.

Haney is charged with one count of concealment money laundering and one count of engaging in a financial transaction in a criminally derived property. The former count carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, while the latter a maximum term of 10 years.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent-in-charge Angel M. Melendez said:

“HSI special agents employed blockchain analytics to uncover and seize bitcoins valued at $19 million and usher Haney out of the dark web shadows to face justice in the Southern District of New York.”

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Bitcoin Is Skyrocketing As Investors Panic About Coronavirus

The cryptocurrency has soared as fears about the coronavirus outbreak send shock waves throughout global stock markets.
The price of one bitcoin (XBT) is now hovering around $9,300. Bitcoin is up nearly 10% this week and has gained 30% since the end of 2019. It’s the best start to the year for bitcoin since 2012.
Worries about the rapid spread of the coronavirus is one factor boosting bitcoin, an asset that often has gone up when investors are nervous. But it isn’t the only factor helping to push bitcoin higher.
“The recent bitcoin rally can be attributed to ongoing economic uncertainties,” said Shaun Djie, CEO of digital token company Digix in comments e-mailed to CNN Business.
Djie cited lingering worries about US-China trade relations, Brexit concerns and political tension between Japan and South Korea as factors that have boosted bitcoin prices. But the coronavirus is clearly the biggest catalyst as of late.
“The rise in bitcoin price correlates to the ongoing outbreak,” Djie said.
In that sense, bitcoin’s latest spike is similar to gold’s stellar run this year. The yellow metal has also surged this month and is now trading at a seven-year high.
“Is this peak bullishness for the stock market? Gold and bitcoin are up as investors don’t seem convinced about last year’s stock rally,” said Marija Veitmane, senior multi-asset strategist with State Street in an interview with CNN Business.
Veitmane added that bitcoin, as well as gold, is benefiting from the fact that interest rates are low (or in some cases, negative) following cuts by the Federal Reserve and many other central banks last year.
That has led to a decline in the US dollar versus other currencies over the past few months.

Weaker dollar is good for bitcoin

Bitcoin, gold and other cryptocurrencies and precious metals have historically done well when investors bet that the value of big government-backed currencies will fall.
“There is a new consensus building about dollar weakness,” Veitmane said. “Bitcoin and gold may continue to do well as safe haven investments.”
Djie agreed. “Gold and bitcoin have become prominent alternatives for retail investors looking to safeguard their wealth.”
Investors considering bitcoin as a long-term investment should probably think of bitcoin much like gold. It could be a small part of a portfolio but not something investors should go overboard with, especially given the volatility of the cryptocurrency.
After all, bitcoin prices are still more than 50%below the all-time high of nearly $20,000 that they hit in December 2017 — even though they’ve nearly tripled from a recent low of about $3,200 in December 2018.

Big Tech and Wall Street embracing crypto

Bitcoin investing has become more mainstream thanks to cryptocurrency initiatives by big tech companies like Square (SQ) and Facebook (FB).
“The backing from Square and Facebook are definitely very significant to the overall crypto industry as it validates distributed technologies and the overall digital assets and cryptocurrency space,” Djie said. “The embrace of crypto by these companies can allow mainstream users to enjoy the versatility and agility of the technology.”
The rise of futures trading for bitcoin on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) may also help validate bitcoin with larger mutual funds, hedge funds and pensions.
“Among the biggest contributors to the rally, as I see it, is the hope that 2020 could finally see institutional investors move into the digital field en masse, prompted by growing client demand and more attractive ways to get exposure than direct ownership of coins,” said Frank Holmes, CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors (GROW), in a recent blog post.
But Holmes conceded that the Securities and Exchange Commission could provide the biggest boost for bitcoin if it ever approves a crypto-backed exchange-traded fund. The SEC has rejected numerous proposals so far.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that a bitcoin ETF is highly anticipated,” Holmes wrote.
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Coinbase CEO reveals his top crypto predictions for the next decade.

Prominent crypto personality and CEO of Coinbase Brian Armstrong has revealed the top trends which he believes will define the next decade of blockchain technology.

Outlining 11 areas of development for blockchain and cryptocurrency during the 2020s, Armstrong predicts that blockchain will reach one billion users by the end of the decade, and also sees a future where governments make a mass move into crypto.

Armstrong predicts that over the course of the decade, new layer-two scaling solutions will be developed that may increase blockchain scalability by “several orders of magnitude”, which would allow decentralised applications (dApps) to be developed more rapidly.

Discussing scalability challenges, Armstrong said:

“Just like broadband replacing 56k modems led to many new applications on the internet (YouTube, Uber, and so on), I believe scalability is a prerequisite for the utility phase of crypto to really get going.”

Armstrong also addressed issues of privacy, predicting that a privacy coin would emerge during the 2020s which would attract mainstream adoption, and he also shared that trading and speculation would give way to real utility for blockchain assets.

CBDCs in the spotlight

Interestingly, Armstrong also included central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, in his predictions for the next decade.

He argued that while Facebook’s Libra coin had largely been met with derision from the global regulatory community, other digital fiat currencies were gaining traction.

Principal among these new CBDCs is China’s digital yuan, which Armstrong says has left the US playing catch up, exploring new ways to digitise the dollar.

However, Armstrong argues national-level CBDCs may not be the promised digital currencies of the future:

“I think we will then see basket digital currencies come out, either by a consortium like Libra or CENTRE, or possibly the IMF itself.”

Billionaire flippening

Armstrong’s last prediction is based on what he terms the “billionaire flippening”. The Coinbase CEO predicts a scenario where BTC will reach $200,000 and more than half of the world’s billionaires will have their fortunes in crypto.

This theory was made popular by Polychain Capital founder Olaf Carlson-Wee and angel investor Balaji Srinivasan, who are good friends of Armstrong.

Discussing the potential effects of such a scenario, Armstrong shared:

“It would mean that more pro-technology people will have access to large amounts of capital in the 2020s. Presumably, this will increase the amount of investment made in science and technology, and I think we’ll also see more crypto folks turn to philanthropy.”

Despite Coinbase’s role as a trading platform and exchange, Armstrong has long been a proponent of blockchain utility, and has previously indicated a wish to move beyond trading and drive innovation.

The post Coinbase CEO reveals top crypto predictions for the next decade appeared first on Coin Rivet.

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Will A War With Iran Send Bitcoin (BTC) To The Moon?

It behooves a speculator to speculate, and nothing gets the attention of the speculator more than the classic market catalyst of “war in the Middle East.” So last night’s U.S. strike, killing Iranian General Soleimani, is the sort of event that gets markets moving.

As one might expect, oil jumped and so did gold. Oil is up 3% and gold jumped 2%.

In this new world there is a third safe haven asset, bitcoin (BTC). It is up 5%.

Here is a chart of that action:

 

This is a very interesting chart because it shows the global professionals reacting to the news much faster than the private traders and it might be suggested this hike is the result of Middle Eastern retail piling into BTC as a flight to safety rather than the relatively non-existent institutional money.

In any event, bitcoin has the most beta in this situation and what’s more there appears to be plenty of time to get your trade on in response to the news.

This, of course, is a gift to all skilled traders, a three-hour warning to buy.

Longer term, however, it is clear to see that in instances where there is trouble in capital controlled countries like Iran and China, bitcoin will be a key asset when times get sketchy.

As such, for those speculators who think of gold and oil as the place to trade when war in the Middle East is on the rise, then bitcoin is the place to be.

For those wanting to trade what might be a U.S./Iran escalation, bitcoin is the place to do your thing because while there are trillions in gold and oil to suck up demand, there is only a smattering of bitcoin to take the sort of buying surge a country like Iran could create were the situation to spin up into a large scale conflict.

Bitcoin is the best place for flight capital and haven capital for those in Iran wishing to protect their assets, and that alone is enough to drive Bitcoin back towards its previous and all-time highs. Then there is the exaggerated Beta of Bitcoin that will draw in the global speculators and their wall of money, so that in an extended and fraught US/Iran conflict only one thing is certain about the price of Bitcoin and that is, it will be far higher than it is now.

This Article Originally Featured In Forbes.

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