This week in bitcoin was all about Korea, although every week in bitcoin is all about Korea. Markets dropping? Blame Korea. Markets soaring? Credit Korea. Zero fee trading sends a pointless altcoin pumping? You bet it comes from Korea. While real news, fake news, and news whose legitimacy is a matter of dispute emanated from the east, there were big stories breaking stateside, like the Miami bitcoin conference that can’t take bitcoin.
As smugness is never a good look. It would be fair to say however that a lot of this week’s biggest bitcoin stories started here before being picked up by the mainstream media, including European bank Nordea banning employees from owning cryptocurrency. Welcome to Miami where your dirty crypto’s no good, we reported, in another scoop, after the city’s annual bitcoin conference stopped accepting bitcoin, citing fees and congestion.
Bitcoin haters had a field day with that one including famed economist Paul Krugman, which gave us an opportunity to dredge up his most famous quote for posterity:
By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.
That one never tires. It wasn’t just bitcoin conferences that declared they were no longer handling bitcoin; Microsoft also announced that it had stopped accepting bitcoin for similar reasons, before reneging and declaring that it’s now accepting bitcoin again. Glad we’ve cleared that one up.
There were so many stories emanating from South Korea this week in bitcoin it’s hard to know where to start. It all started with officials urging other nations to support them in curbing crypto trading, and from there morphed into the country’s banks being forced to stop serving South Korean crypto exchanges. For more information on South Korean developments – as well as those originating in Brazil, Venezuela, and Japan – our trusty scribe Kevin Helms has got you covered. It was he who broke this week’s most uplifting story, about Japan’s virtual currency girls, writing:
Their songs incorporate reminders, advice, and warnings related to cryptocurrency trading. The girls receive their salaries in bitcoin and the show’s tickets and merchandise are also sold for the cryptocurrency.
You love, you lose. Another story from the east was that of Malaysia issuing a cease and desist order on the Copycash ICO. These events are becoming commonplace now, and not just in Asia; a few days ago the SEC suspended trading in a dubious blockchain firm with no product. It would be fair to say the prevailing mood in bitcoin this week was one of uncertainty, with developments in Asia, as always, dictating market sentiment.
Rumors of China banning bitcoin mining and South Korea shutting down exchanges for being complicit in money laundering have abounded. Despite these stories having been refuted or at least shown to be exaggerated, the fear has manifested in the markets, with bitcoin dropping to around $13,000 at its lowest point, and many of this year’s most hyped altcoins – ripple, tron, and stellar – losing as much as 25% of their value.
Ripplets were still seething over last week’s story about XRP gateways freezing customer funds, and thus didn’t take kindly to Monday’s piece on vaporware – cryptocurrency projects with market caps worth billions of dollars but no working product – in which tron, ripple, verge, and cardano were pilloried. That was this week’s second most popular story, second only to one about bitcoin diamond casually doing a 40x – and then predictably plummeting.
On Thursday, Kraken went down and then stayed down for no less than 40 hours while it chased down a pesky bug in the system. Upon its return, Kraken promised fee-free trading for all by means of apology. 48 hours since returning to life, Kraken still hasn’t enabled withdrawals however. It wasn’t the only exchange to experience problems this week. A number of cryptocurrency exchange oddities have surfaced lately, although the craziest tales, as always, come from the weird and wonderful world of ICOs.
There was the story about the porn ICO CEO who did a ghost with contributors’ funds, and, in the same article, the tale of Dadi’s demise. That ICO was being shilled as one of the hottest tickets in town until it emerged that, like Tron, large chunks of its white paper had been plagiarized. Desperate not to be left behind, Kodakalso plunged itself into the ICO game and yet another stagnant company invoked the blockchain word to give itself a lift.
The trouble with all this ICO madness is that applying rational thinking to projects doesn’t always work. This week, for example, the Peatcoin ICO was launched, promising “Tokenized investment in peat processing and extraction”. It would be easy to dismiss the project out of hand, as this writer did with Dentacoin earlier this year. The trouble is, the dental industry’s proprietary token now has a $2.5 billion market cap that fleetingly placed it higher than Zcash earlier this week. What a time to be alive.