NEO’s dismal performance in August has likely strengthened the already strong bear grip on its market.

Down 39.6 percent month-on-month in August, it is the biggest loser among the top 25 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap and analysis by CoinDesk.

Throughout the month, the world’s 14th largest cryptocurrency has moved in tandem with the broader market, which took a beating in August due to SEC’s rejection of multiple bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Notably, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies was printing more than $100 billion loss just two weeks into the month as the metric sank below $200 billion for the first time in over eight months. At the same time, NEO was reporting monthly lows below $14.50.

However, the broader market made a considerable rebound in the final two weeks of August, regaining nearly $40 billion of the lost value in total market capitalization.

Still, the rally towards August’s end was not enough for many cryptocurrencies to salvage the considerable losses endured in the weeks prior, including the likes of bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH), the markets largest assets, reporting double-digit monthly losses.

NEO also recovered 35 percent from the lows seen on Aug. 14 but is still a standout performer in the losers column.

Monthly Loser

NEO

Monthly performance: -39.62 percent
All-time high: $162.11
Closing price on August 31: $31.73
Current market price: $19.16
Rank as per market capitalization: 15

NEO came stumbling into August thanks to a less than impressive performance in July when its price declined more than 40 percent month to month. The resulting short-term oversold conditions, however, did little to put a bid under the cryptocurrency.

Prices continued theor descent from a starting price of $28.87 on Aug. 1 to its monthly low of $14.38 set on Aug. 14, at the time representing a 50.16 percent two-week depreciation.

The cryptocurrency made a bit of a comeback during the last two weeks of August, climbing 33 percent from its monthly low to a final price of just over $19 on Aug. 31. All in all, NEO printed a 39.62 percent loss during the month of August.

Monthly Chart

The above chart paints the picture of a cryptocurrency stuck in limbo.

A rebound from the key support of $14, though encouraging, is not enough to for the bulls to make a strong comeback. Only a break above $30 (former support-turned-resistance) would indicate a bottom has been made.

However, it could be a tough task, as the 5-week and 10-week moving averages (MAs) reside above current prices, indicating the path of least resistance is still to the downside. Further, with six of the last seven months flashing red, it is clear that bears are in control.

Still, the monthly candle does offer some hope for bulls due to its lengthy bottom wick, which indicates there was considerable buying after price touched the $14 support.

A monthly close above current resistance at $34.00 would return the longer term trend to bullish favor and set the scope for a rally to $50 – the location of prior support and 5-month moving average. On the other hand, a close below current support of $14 would confirm the bearish strength and likely send prices to the prior support of $7.70.

Disclosure: The author holds BTC, AST, REQ, OMG, FUEL, 1st and AMP at the time of writing.

Credits to Sam Ouimet

Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) is to fund development of new software to help track individuals behind illicit crypto transactions.

According to a news report from NHK on Thursday, the NPA will budget 35 million yen ($315,000) for 2019 to fund the creation of the product – outsourcing technological development of the software to the private sector.

The NPA said the software will track the flow of blockchain transactions flagged as suspicious and “visualize and locate” the individuals sending or receiving the cryptocurrency.

The effort apparently comes in response to the increasing number of suspected criminal cases in Japan that involve cryptocurrency. Given the anonymity of blockchain transactions, police forces in the country are facing difficulties when conducting further investigations.

Early this year, the NPA disclosed it had received 669 reports of suspected money laundering from Japanese crypto exchanges in just eight months of 2017, as reported by CoinDesk.

Further, according to an annual reported revealed by the agency in March, hackers stole at least $6.2 million-worth of cryptocurrencies from Japanese users’ exchange and wallet accounts in 2017.

The cryptocurrency industry in Japan also took a hit in January after the Coincheck exchange reported a $520 million hack, which prompted calls from regulators to implement better crypto anti-money laundering and security measures.

Credits to Wolfie Zhao

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten is planning another step into the cryptocurrency industry with the acquisition of a local bitcoin exchange.

The company said in an announcement that it has inked a share transfer agreement for 100 percent of an exchange called Everybody’s Bitcoin on Friday. The acquisition appears to be costing the firm 265 million yen, or $2.4 million, when it goes through on Oct. 1.

Explaining the move, Rakuten said it believes “the role of cryptocurrency-based payments in e-commerce, offline retail and in P2P payments will grow in the future,” adding:

“In order to provide cryptocurrency payment methods smoothly, we believe it is necessary for us to provide a cryptocurrency exchange function.”

Further, the firm indicated that the acquisition is in response to demands from a growing number of foreign exchange customers on its securities business arm, who have been calling for the offering of a cryptocurrency exchange service.

Launched in March 2017, Everybody’s Bitcoin is one of the several unlicensed crypto exchanges in Japan that came under scrutiny from Japan’s Financial Services Agency after the Coincheck hack in January, as the regulator sought business and security improvements.

With the planned acquisition, Rakuten aims to assist the exchange in enhancing its internal systems in an effort to meet with the regulator’s requirements for obtaining a license.

According to today’s announcement, Everybody’s Bitcoin reported a net loss of around $444,000 in the fiscal year ended March 30, 2018.

The acquisition deal follows a previous report that Rakuten is also planning to launch its own cryptocurrency as a way to help the group expand its global user base.

The e-commerce firm first started accepting bitcoin payments in 2015, when it integrated its U.S. website with bitcoin payment processor Bitnet.

Credits to Wolfie Zhao

Yahoo Finance, one of the world’s largest news sites for real-time stock quotes and market information, has added a feature allowing cryptocurrency trading on its platform.

According to a blog post on Thursday, the company now supports trading of four types of assets – bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and dogecoin – on its iOS mobile app.

The announcement came amid various tweets online yesterday indicating the service appeared to be also available on the desktop version of Yahoo Finance – although, the feature is not visible on desktop browsers at the moment. Yahoo Finance said in the announcement it pans to extend the service to Android, desktop and mobile web platforms in the future.

For the new feature, Yahoo partnered with TradeIt, a platform that integrates with brokerage services to act as a hub for trading financial assets. TradeIt notably integrated with the U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase last year, according to a statement at the time, though it isn’t yet clear which brokerage Yahoo is connected with for the new offering.

The financial news service first started its partnership with TradeIt in September 2017, letting users carry out in-app trading of traditional financial assets. The exposure to cryptos at the time was limited to data on prices and portfolio performance.

The site first started tracking bitcoin’s price in 2014, as CoinDesk reported. Last year, the company expanded its price tracking service to cover over 100 cryptocurrencies across all its platforms globally.

Credits to Wolfie Zhao

Consultancy firm PwC is kicking off a new “digital skills” program aimed at improving the expertise of its employees on new technologies like blockchain.

The firm will assign 1,000 of its employees to a two-year training program which will cover various digital technology-related, from blockchain to 3D printing to drones, Digiday reported Thursday.

Called Digital Accelerators, the program will begin this January, according to the report.

PwC Digital Accelerators head Sarah McEneaney told the publication that the move is part of a wider effort to help increase the firm’s subject-matter expertise.

“My job is to future proof our workforce … It just seems table stakes at this point that people should have more technology skills. It’s needed for us to remain competitive and to be responsive for what our clients are also going through.”

The training should make employees more efficient as well, reducing the number of hours they spend working on problems, McEneany contended. These savings will be transferred to PwC’s customers.

Roughly 3,500 out of the more than 46,000 employees working at PwC are said to have applied for spots in the program.

During the program, the 1,000 selected employees will work with clients while taking roughly 10 hours worth of courses each week. Data and analytics, which will include information collection and blockchain, will make up the first part of the program’s curriculum.

Credits to Nikhilesh De

The Finnish businessman who lost 5,564  bitcoins, worth US$24 million at the time, in a fraudulent scheme in Thailand has begun talks with some of the key suspects.

According to the Bangkok Post, Aarni Otavi Saarimaa is negotiating a settlement deal with Prasit Srisuwan, a high-profile stocks trader and Chakris Ahmad, a tech investor. The two Thai nationals are key suspects in the scam.

Thai law allows settlements in fraud cases and in the event that they reach a deal, Saarimaa could withdraw the criminal complaints against Srisuwan and Ahmad. Saarimaa, however, refused to offer detailed information on what was discussed.

“My talks with them [the two suspects] turned out to be very satisfactory but I cannot give any details now,” said Saarimaa after the meeting.

Gone With the Wind

Alongside other suspects, Srisuwan and Ahmad are accused of luring Saarimaa into investing 5,564 bitcoins (which at the time were worth 797 million baht or approximately US$24 million) in three companies namely ExpaySoftware (of which Ahmad is a major shareholder), NX Chain Inc and DNA 2002 (which is linked to the alleged mastermind of the fraud, Prinya Jaravijit). Saarimaa did not, however, get the promised stake after parting with his cryptocurrency.

After the meeting, Prasit, who described Saarimaa as a ‘friend’ and a ‘work colleague’, repeated his claims that he was innocent and had been duped by Prinya. Less than a fortnight ago, Srisuwan addressed a press conference in which he claimed that his role was restricted to offering brokerage services to the Finnish national and DNA 2002 Plc, as CCN reported.

Family Affair

After Saarimaa reported the matter to the police in January this year, the case has experienced a flurry of twists and turns especially in the last few weeks. Though Prinya reportedly fled Thailand and is said to be hiding in the United States, his siblings were arrested and released on bail. This included his younger brother, Jiratpisit Jaravijit, a television and commercials actor, as well as his sister, Supitcha Jaravijit.

At the time of their arrest, Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office had frozen accounts of some of the suspects. As CCN reported at the time, Prinya’s account was found to be in possession of US$3.3 million while Supitcha’s allegedly had approximately US$4.2 million. Jiratpisit’s bank account had the lowest amount at US$649,000.

Earlier this week parents of the three were questioned by Thai police investigating the scam. This had followed reports that Suwit Jaravijit, the father, and Lertchatkamol, the mother, were also beneficiaries of the scam as Prinya allegedly wired proceeds of the fraudulent scheme, around 90 million baht (approximately US$2.75 million), to their bank accounts.

Credits to Mark Emem

Colorado Securities Commissioner Gerald Rome has issued signed orders to show cause that three cryptocurrency businesses have allegedly offered and promoted unregistered ICOs in Colorado.

The investigation is part of a recent crackdown against fraudulent ICOs by officials of the Division of Securities under Colorado State’s Department Of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

‘ICO Task Force’ Targets Project Marketing Fake Forbes Partnership

The officials are part of an “ICO Task Force” put together in May by Commissioner Rome with the mandate of identifying individuals and companies with fraudulent or unregistered businesses that present their customers with an investment risk.

The three companies that are subject to the latest order are Bionic Coin, Sybrelabs Ltd., also known as CryptoARB, and Global Pay Net, also known as GLPN Coin and GPN Token.

Similar orders have previously been received by Bitcoin Investments Ltd., also known as DB Capital, EstateX, Bitconnect, and Magma Foundation, also known as Magma Coin.

Bionic Coin promotes an ICO known as “Bionic” or “BNC,” and it promises to enable instant cross-border payments to anyone, as well as simplify the process of buying software and electronic devices. The ICO site offers investment-related information about the ICO including a timeline roadmap, a technical whitepaper, and FAQs.

It also makes promises of returns to investors, saying, “Bionic will grow your money without any effort.” On the site, a number of purported media partners are listed including Forbes magazine, but upon investigation it was discovered that no such reference to the company exists on any of the sites it listed.

Users are also incentivized to promote the ICO on their social media accounts with promises of receiving up to 10,000 BNC tokens per post. Most significantly, the site has no associated physical address or control person identified.

‘Cryptoarbitrage Robot’

Robot ICO

Sybrelabs Ltd., which claims to be based in Cambridgeshire, England, promotes an unregistered security in the form of an investment pool that allows users to trade on cryptocurrency exchanges through what is termed a “cryptoarbitrage robot.”

According to Sybrelabs, this is a tool that allows the company to “automate many factors occurring with effective arbitrage on several instruments.” It offers huge profit percentages for a minimum participation of $25.00, and it solicits “active investment portfolios” of $25,000 or more.

Like Bionic Coin, it encourages members to promote the scheme and its website also provides marketing materials including a PDF presentation, online banners, and souvenir products.

Global Pay Net markets an ICO purporting to sell “GLPN Coins,” which allegedly provide a blockchain-based international financial platform. It claims that GLPN tokens are “full-value assets that represent one’s share in the business” and that “investors receive 80 percent of the company’s profits.”

Multiple cryptocurrency professionals and personalities are listed on the site, purportedly as having involvement in the project, but two of them have denied that this is the case.

It also claims that it has a filing with the SEC’s EDGAR database, but this cannot be verified because the phone number listed for the 2011 filing is disconnected, and no business filing is registered in Washington State where the company is supposedly located.

Like the other two, it also offers inducements for individuals to promote it using their personal social media accounts, and it provides marketing materials on its website.

Earlier, CCN reported that “Operation Cryptosweep,” an initiative of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), is actively investigating over 200 ICOs across the continent.

Credits to David Hundeyin

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced the formation of a data consortium in partnership with IBM and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills for the purpose of building a groundbreaking large-scale, cross-industry smart contract platform for Australian businesses to collaborate and do business within.

Australian National Blockchain

The platform, which will be called the Australian National Blockchain (ANB) is being touted as potentially game-changing infrastructure within Australia’s digital economy, helping businesses around the country make use of legally-enforceable smart contracts and exchange data, as well as confirm the status and authenticity of legal contracts.

When it is fully operational, the ANB will permit Australian businesses to electronically manage the entire life cycle of a smart contract from negotiation through to execution under complete transparency and trustless, permissioned-based access among parties on the platform.

In other words, Australian businesses will gain the ability to use smart contracts to automatically trigger business events and processes using preset milestones. The smart legal contracts (SLC) provided by ANB include clauses to accommodate recording of information from external data sources such as IoT devices, with the ability to self-execute once conditions listed in the contract are met.

This is an extension of CSIRO’s extensive research into potential applications of blockchain technology for Australian businesses. In 2017, the Institute’s Data61 research unit released comprehensive research reports for the Australian Treasury detailing strategies for blockchain technology adoption across government and commercial applications in Australia.

Pilot Project

IBM blockchain
The ANB has been developed with the support of computing giant IBM

According to information from CSIRO, Herbert Smith Freehills, Data61, and IBM will initially trial ANB as a pilot project using IBM Blockchain. If the trial is successful, the plan is to deploy the framework across Australia and beyond.

Plans are already afoot to bring Australian regulators, banks, law firms and businesses onboard in the pilot, which is expected to kick off before the end of 2018.

Speaking ahead of the pilot, Paul Hutchison, vice president and partner, Cognitive Process Transformation, at IBM Global Business Services said:

“IBM Blockchain and the IBM Cloud provide the highest level of security to support even highly regulated industries such as healthcare and government, and IBM has extensive experience building blockchain networks and convening large consortia focused around solving important business problems. Blockchain will be to transactions what the internet was to communication – what starts as a tool for sharing information becomes transformational once adoption is widespread. The ANB could be that inflection point for commercial blockchain, spurring innovation and economic development throughout Australia.”

On his part, Dr Mark Staples, senior research scientist at Data61, expressed optimism that ANB will create an exciting range of new opportunities for Australian businesses.

He said:

“Our reports identified distributed ledger technology as a significant opportunity for Australia to create productivity benefits and drive local innovation. Data61’s independence and world-leading expertise will help to catalyse the creation of digital infrastructure for Australian businesses to transition to a digitally-enabled future. For complex enterprise contracts, there are huge opportunities to benefit from our research into blockchain architecture and into computational law. Smart contracts have many applications, and as the ANB progresses we look forward to exploring other business use cases to roll out.”

In July, CCN reported that IBM’s we.trade finance blockchain platform recorded its first live trades following more than a year of development.

Credits to David Hundeyin

Google is reportedly hosting cryptocurrency mining applications in Play Store, despite a ban imposed last month.

Google’s revised terms of service states that, “We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices.” However, the search engine giant mentioned last month that apps that remotely manage cryptocurrency mining are permitted. Despite the ban, few digital currency mining apps have either updated to abide with the new terms nor have removed their apps from the store.

Mining apps such as Bitcoin Mining, BTC Miner Pool, and Pickaxe Miner are found to be still live on Google Play, while Cloud Bitcoin Miner app is said to have revised its services in accordance with the new Google terms. “Mining is not performed on the user’s phone,” the app’s description clarifies.

Earlier this month, UK-based blockchain startup JSEcoin, which facilitates cryptocurrency mining, announced the launch of Android mobile mining app on Google Play. “We have additionally reached out to the Google Support team to confirm if we are allowed to allow our users to mine our tokens via our official app – as we are aware of their restriction policy,” JSEcoin co-founder and CTO John Sim, told HardFork during its launch. Later, the JSEcoin app disappeared from the Play Store.

Another mining app, MinerGate, announced last week in a tweet that a new version has been designed for “monitoring and managing” the user’s mining process in a move to abide by the new Google terms. With the update, MinerGate told Hard Fork:

“Mining on your phone directly was among the core features of the MinerGate app before the last changes in Google Play Development policies. With the last update, we are removing this functionality to meet the updated requirements.”

Earlier this year, Google outlawed cryptocurrency mining extensions from the Chrome Web Store. The search engine outlined the reason for the ban in its official release stating that, “90% of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with their new mining policies.”

Google had already banned malicious cryptojacking apps after an Android app was found cryptojacking devices in January, while also mining monero. Following this, Google also imposed a ban on ICO advertisements from June.

Credits to Sujha Sundararajan

The cryptocurrency market has now been in a bear cycle for more than two-thirds of the past year, and, as August prepares to roll in September, predictions from past months that the bitcoin price would test its all-time high in 2018 appear less and less likely.

However, even after this prolonged decline, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee says that the flagship cryptocurrency is still a good buy.

Speaking with CNBC, Lee said that the dropoff in prices has created an excellent investment opportunity for long-term bulls who have cash-in-hand that they can afford to lose.

“It’s always good to buy on the way down to dollar-cost average your buy-in,” he said. “As long as you don’t spend money that you can’t afford to lose, I think that’s fine.

The former Google and Coinbase engineer cautioned against using borrowed funds to invest in bitcoin, a practice that became disturbingly common during last year’s fevered Q4 rally, noting that it’s incredibly difficult to predict short-term price movements and bear markets can in some cases endure for years.

He said:

“It’s hard to predict prices. I’ve been in this space for seven years now. I think sometimes it comes back within six months to a year, and sometimes it takes three or four years.”

Lee further noted that, at present, cryptocurrency prices primarily reflect speculative interest, not actual consumer adoption.

“It’s all about speculation these days, but, in the future, the price will reflect the success of the currencies,” he said, adding that there has been quite a bit of adoption this year even as prices have waned.

However, when asked if he would be buying back into litecoin (he sold all his LTC back in December, citing a conflict of interest in having the ability to swap price movements with his public statements), Lee said no:

“I sold because of conflict of interest, so I’m not going to buy my litecoins back anytime soon — or at all.”

Credits to Josiah Wilmoth