Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services Practitioners

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services Practitioners

The pass rate for the exam developed by the Maltese government for financial services practitioners seeking to obtain cryptocurrency agent certification is reportedly only 39 percent. The exam is part of the requirements mandated by the country’s newly established Virtual Financial Assets Act.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Low Pass Rate

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services PractitionersUnder Malta’s Virtual Financial Assets (VFA) Act, practitioners who wish to act as agents in the field that includes cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) must successfully complete a short training course and pass an exam.

Noting that the first exam took place in September, the Times of Malta reported on Thursday:

Nearly two-thirds of those applying for cryptocurrency agent certification failed the official assessment process despite last-second changes intended to boost the pass rate.

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services PractitionersThe exam was set by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and administered by the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners.

The news outlet quoted sources revealing that about 250 lawyers, accountants, and auditors took the exam, which consisted of a series of multiple choice questions. “Once the exam papers were graded, it became clear the pass rate was extremely low,” the publication conveyed, adding that “Even after the changes the pass rate was just 39 percent.”

License Required

According to the MFSA’s consultation document for VFA service providers, “any person who is providing a VFA service … shall within twelve months apply for a license with the competent authority in terms of Article 14 to the Act,” the CBS Group described.

Only 39 Percent Pass Malta’s Cryptocurrency Exam for Financial Services PractitionersThe MFSA wrote, “It has also become evident that certain industry players are not sufficiently prepared to register as VFA agents.” The regulator, therefore, proposes a number of additional rules for them to comply. They include increasing the initial and ongoing capital requirements as well as regulatory fees. In addition, the MFSA proposes “introducing a rigorous competence assessment” and “a mandatory requirement for Continuous Professional Education.”

The Times of Malta elaborated, “The VFA Act is one of three new laws forming part of the government’s ‘Blockchain Island’ strategy and which seek to regulate the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector,” adding that “It will enter into force in November.” Other than trading cryptocurrencies and issuing ICOs, the publication explained:

Companies looking to provide other virtual financial asset services, such as portfolio management or investment advice, also need an agent to apply for a licence.

What do you think of the low pass rate for the Maltese cryptocurrency agent certification exam? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and MFSA.


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Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme Founder Slapped with $2.5 Million Fine

New York investment firm Gelfman Blueprint, Inc. (GBI) will see over $2.5 million in fines for fraudulent practices, as filed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). According to the agency, this marks the first time that CFTC has made an anti-fraud enforcement action involving bitcoin. Yesterday’s CTFC press release states that Gelfman Blueprint Inc. … Continued

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If Your Bitcoin is Stolen, There’s Only a 20% Chance You’ll Ever Get it Back

If you’re ever so unfortunate as to become the victim of a bitcoin theft, there’s very little chance that you will ever see your cryptocurrency assets again. For this reason, security experts have suggested that only a fraction of these cases ever get reported, as victims believe they are not likely to retrieve stolen cryptocurrency. … Continued

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North Korean Hacking Group Lazarus Behind $571M in Hacks Since January 2017

Lazarus

North Korean cybercrime hacking group The Lazarus Group is currently the biggest crypto hacking syndicate in the world, having stolen millions worth of cryptocurrencies from online exchanges. Also known as HIDDEN COBRA, which works at the behest of the North Korean government, the Lazarus Group has been responsible for some of the world's largest cyber attacks including the Sony hack in 2014, the Wannacry ransomware outbreak, military espionage and a number of attacks on South Korean businesses.

In a report acquired by news outlet HardFork, cybersecurity outfit Group-IB outlines trends in hi-tech cybercrime, detailing 14 different attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges since January 2017. It suggests that Lazarus has been responsible for the disappearance of over $571 million in cryptocurrency.

What is most interesting about the data from Group-IB is that a large majority of the targeted exchanges are domiciled in South Korea, such as Bithumb, YouBit and Coinrail.

This data appears to confirm accusations made by a member of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee that the North Korean government has stolen cryptocurrency worth billions of won last year from South Korean exchanges.

Hackers who target cryptocurrency exchanges favor traditional methods and tools such as spear phishing, social engineering and malware. According to the cybersecurity group, hackers were able to steal 10 percent of the total funds raised by initial coin offering (ICO) platforms over the past year and a half, with 50 percent of the funds lost to phishers.

Cybercriminals can create fake web pages, simulating the real project, tricking investors who are desperate to jump in on the next big thing. The report notes that large phishing groups have become so skilled in their craft, they can steal as much as $1 million in a day.

One incident that stands out was the creation of phishing sites for Telegram's ICO project, which allowed the thieves to scam would-be investors of Telegram's ICO. Gramtoken.io was the most prominent fake website during that period. It built authenticity by stealing details from Telegram's white papers, project roadmap and more.

Phishing schemes can also take the form of investor database theft which hackers can resell on the darknet or use to blackmail crypto holders.

While attacks on ICOs might have dwindled in the wake of the clampdown by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Group-IB believes the previous attacks on ICOs remain a threat for any crypto project that attracts investors. The group also predicts that phishing scams won't go away anytime soon, but they will become harder to detect as fraudsters unveil new tricks and tools to perpetrate their crimes.

“Fraudulent phishing-schemes involving crypto-brands will only get more complex as well as cybercriminals’ level of preparation for phishing attacks,” the report warns. “Automated phishing and the use of so-called ‘phishing-kits’ will become more widespread, including for the attacks on ICOs.”

The cybersecurity group sees a future where state-sponsored hackers, like the Lazarus Group, could target large mining pools, as 51-percent attacks seem to be on the increase.

“In 2017, no successful 51-percent attacks were detected, but they are now [happening] more often. In the first half of 2018, five successful attacks were registered with direct financial losses ranging from $0.55 million to $18 million,” the report concluded.



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Fake News: Elon Musk’s Flamethrower Company isn’t Accepting Bitcoin

Yesterday, various news websites including The Next Web reported that Elon Musk’s Boring Company was accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for its famous flamethrowers. However, it has now been revealed — also by TNW — that it is a fake website created by a scammer and that the real Boring Company is not accepting cryptocurrency. … Continued

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Bitcoin Price Intraday Analysis: BTC/USD in Pullback Action

The bitcoin-to-dollar exchange rate started losing its grip on the sideways action, slipping almost a percent this Friday. The pair broke below 6400-fiat, the psychological support level of the previous trend, to establish new intraday lows towards 6356-fiat. The downside action appeared after bulls began to feel weak near the giant descending trendline formation that

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Marks Jewelers Now Accepting Bitcoin Cash for Payments

Jewelry Maker Marks Jewelers Now Accepts Bitcoin Cash for Payments

U.S. jewelry retailer Marks Jewelers has started accepting payments in cryptocurrency, including bitcoin cash. Shoppers can now pay for luxury goods such as fine diamonds, watches and engagement rings using BCH and seven other digital currencies.

Also read: Report: Emerging Markets See Sharp Growth in Cashless Transactions

Retailer to Cut Costs with
Low BCH Transaction Fees

In addition to BCH, the company is now accepting payments in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether. “This will allow us to make our fine jewelry available to the global market while paying lower fees and avoiding chargebacks,” Joshua Rubin, director of marketing at Marks Jewelers, said in an online statement. Marks Jewelers Now Accepting Bitcoin Cash for Payments

Marks Jewelers is already one of the biggest jewelry retailers in the U.S. market. But Rubin said that the new payment methods, established in partnership with e-commerce platform Shopping Cart Elite, will help to expand access to its jewelry range for buyers throughout the world. The Pennsylvania-based company, which has sold diamonds and jewelry for 35 years, said that the removal of currency conversion charges will help it cut costs. It wants to pass those savings over to jewelry shoppers in the form of lower retail prices.

Cheaper Than Credit Cards

Marks Jewelers joins a growing list of jewelry retailers, including Samer Halimeh New York and Reeds, that are starting to accept payments in cryptocurrencies such as BCH. Bitcoin cash offers fast, reliable and inexpensive transactions compared with traditional means of sending money. Marks Jewelers Now Accepting Bitcoin Cash for Payments For example, credit and debit card providers generally charge fees that are as much as 3.5 percent of every transaction. That compares with transaction fees of around $1 or less for cryptocurrency-based purchases, regardless of the amount of each transaction.

According to Coinline, which provides a directory of merchants that accept payments in bitcoin cash, more than 210 retailers throughout the world now handle transactions in the cryptocurrency. Australia is home to the greatest concentration of merchants that welcome BCH as a form of payment, with about 80 locations in total accepting it.

What do you think about using cryptocurrencies such as BCH to pay for retail goods? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com

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Biggest Bank in Nordic Region Bans Bitcoin, Gets Caught for Money Laundering

Nordea Bank, the largest financial group in the Nordic countries, which banned Bitcoin in January, has been caught in a major money laundering scandal for allegedly receiving dirty money from two banks in the Baltics. Yle, a state-owned publication in Finland with over 3,500 employees, reported that finance authorities in Sweden received a report with … Continued

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Bitcoin Volume Approaches Yearly Low Again as Market Deletes $6 Billion

Over the past 48 hours, the volume of Bitcoin (BTC) has fell substantially from over $5 billion to $3.8 billion, and is quickly moving to its yearly low. On CoinCap.io, ShapeShift’s official cryptocurrency market data provider, the volume of Bitcoin remains at around $2.54 billion. If the volume of BTC drops by around 15 percent

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Slain Bitcoin Investor Was Cashing out to Buy an Apartment

The Norwegian cryptocurrency investor who earlier this week was brutally murdered following a cash-for-bitcoin exchange was reportedly liquidating his holdings so that he could buy his own apartment. CCN reported yesterday that the 24-year-old investor had been stabbed to death in his apartment on Monday morning, sometime between 7:50 am and 12:10 pm, when one … Continued

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Bitcoin Price Not Correlated to Futures Expiration Dates: Research

The common idea that the bitcoin price drops just before the cryptocurrency futures contracts expire has no solid basis, a new study published by Cindicator suggests. The report, titled Bitcoin Futures: Market Evolution, studied bitcoin volumes on futures and spot cryptocurrency exchanges to get an idea about the liquidity and development of the holistic trading market. … Continued

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Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency Petro

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency Petro

Venezuela has authorized six cryptocurrency exchanges to start selling its national cryptocurrency, the petro, according to the government’s website. The petro, which recently became a Venezuelan national currency, can now be purchased at the six exchanges, local media report.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Six Websites Authorized to Sell Petro

The Venezuelan government has authorized six websites it claims are cryptocurrency exchanges to market and sell the petro, the country’s new national currency. Noticiero Digital elaborated:

The petro will be available from this Wednesday, October 17, at six exchanges, although President Maduro announced previously that there would be 16 certified companies that could market the digital currency.

The six places are Cave Blockchain (caveblockchain.com), Bancar (bancarexchange.io), Cryptia (cryptiaexchange.com), Amberes Coin (amberescoin.com), Afx Trade (afx.trade), and Criptolago (criptolago.com.ve). Some of them are already advertising the petro on their websites. In his speech earlier this month, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro said that the petro would be available at “the six most powerful [exchanges] in the world.”

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency Petro
The petro section on Cryptia.

Cryptia’s website lists three cryptocurrencies for trading against BTC — ETH, DASH, and XRP — but with zero trading volumes. “Buy and sell petros through our platform,” the section on its website describing the petro reads, adding (translated from Spanish):

Access the cryptocurrency [petro] in bolivares and exchange them for bitcoin, ethereum or American dollars.

Amberes Coin describes itself as a cryptocurrency exchange “authorized by the Venezuelan State for the purchase and sale of the petro, bitcoin, ether and any digital assets” that are allowed by the country’s regulation. Afx Trade explained that it is a regulated cryptocurrency exchange platform in Venezuela for buying, selling, and safeguarding “digital assets inside and outside the national territory.”

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency PetroMaduro’s government released a new whitepaper for the petro earlier this month, bearing striking resemblance to the whitepaper for another cryptocurrency, DASH.

In addition, the petro is no longer only backed by oil, as it was first described in December of last year. The new whitepaper explains that the petro is now backed by 50 percent oil, 20 percent gold, 20 percent iron, and 10 percent diamond.

In April, Maduro announced that he had “authorized the certification” of 16 exchanges for the petro. Noting that there are currently only six exchanges authorized, Noticiero Digital pointed out that Afx Trade was not included in the initial list of 16 exchanges.

Regulating Crypto Industry in Venezuela

Venezuela Authorizes 6 Exchanges to Start Selling National Cryptocurrency PetroIn Venezuela, the National Superintendency of Criptoassets and Related Activities (Sunacrip) is responsible for regulating cryptocurrencies and all crypto-related activities.

Its website details:

Exchanges need licenses issued by the Venezuelan State in order to operate in Venezuela. Its reason lies in the protection of users of exchanges with regulatory and administrative infrastructure.

Digital mining in Venezuela is regulated by the Intendence of Digital Mining, which is part of Sunacrip. “The Intendence of Digital Mining is in charge of planning, coordinating, promoting and executing all the digital mining and related activities in Venezuela,” Sunacrip’s website describes. “This includes issuing licenses [and] certifications for all mining activities.”

Disclaimer: Bitcoin.com does not endorse or support claims made by any parties in this article. None of the information in this article is intended as investment advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as a recommendation, endorsement, or sponsorship of any products or companies. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

What do you think of the petro? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Venezuelan government.


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SEC Sets Up Open Line of Communication for Fintech Projects With FinHub

SEC Sets Up Open Line of Communication for Crypto Projects With FinHub

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a new office to engage with cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. Called the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub), the division will make it easier for fintech startups to interact with the regulator on related issues and the legal implications of products before they launch them.

Announced Thursday, October 18, 2018, FinHub will serve as the central point for entrepreneurs in the fintech world, especially groups focusing on new technologies such as blockchains, artificial intelligence, digital marketplace financing and more.

With the number of subpoenas being sent out by the agency and the expansion of its clampdown on blockchain startups that it claims have violated federal securities law, the FinHub can direct entrepreneurs and provide the much-needed clarity on the requirements needed to build compliant platforms and products.

Entrepreneurs and developers will be able to ask questions from the Hub as well as have access to the regulator's views and actions about the fintech space. Startups can also use the portal to request for meetings with the regulator.

The Hub will be led by Valerie A. Szczepanik, the Senior Advisor for Digital Asset and Innovation in the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance, and will be staffed with agency officials with expertise in fintech related issues.

Szczepanik said the SEC has been educating entrepreneurs for a while now but the portal will centralize the process.

“SEC staff across the agency have been engaged for some time in efforts to understand emerging technologies, communicate the agency's stance on new issues, and facilitate beneficial innovations in the securities industry.”

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton believes the portal will provide a "central point of focus" for the agency's "efforts to monitor and engage on innovations in the securities market."

"The SEC is committed to working with investors and market participants on new approaches to capital formation, market structure, and financial services, with an eye toward enhancing, and in no way reducing, investor protection."

The number of cases being pursued by the SEC and its sister agencies has increased over the years. Just last month, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed charges against securities broker 1pool Ltd for offering security-based swaps funded with Bitcoin, which the agency says violates federal securities law.

The regulator also went after the owners of PlexCoin and issued a cease and desist order to Hedge Fund Crypto Asset Management and its founder Timothy Enneking for misrepresenting the company as the "first regulated crypto asset fund in the United States." 

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Decentralization Gains Traction: Go-Ethereum Fifth Most Active on Github

Go Ethereum Github

Bear markets refine industries. Overall sentiment becomes negative from all angles, and naysayers proclaim that crypto is “dead.”

Underneath all the fear, uncertainty and doubt, though, developers are still building.

Case in point, Go-Ethereum (or geth), a command-line interface for running an Ethereum node using the Go programming language, is now the fifth fastest growing open-source project in GitHub

https://octoverse.github.com/projects#repositories

. The other projects above go-ethereum on the list are azure-docs from Microsoft Azure, pytorch from Facebook, godot from the GoDot Gaming Engine and nuxt.js, a Javascript framework.

For the uninitiated, geth is the official Go implementation of the Ethereum protocol. At the time of writing, go-ethereum has over 10,000 commits on GitHub as well as over 21,000 stars, indicating the amount of developer interest for the project in this iteration is high.

Why Geth Over Eth and Pyethapp?

Go, commonly referred to as Golang, was developed by Google engineers Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike and Ken Thompson. Per the golang.org website, “Go was born out of frustration with existing languages and environments for the work we were doing at Google.”

The language enables higher productivity than languages in an era of complex processors and large computer networks. Consequently, it has been adopted by developers around the world.

Go-ethereum is by far the most active project in the Ethereum ecosystem, but there are several important projects that are not far behind. There are other client languages including eth, a C++ client and pyethapp, a python-friendly client.

“Aleth,” Ethereum’s official C++ client, and “EIPs,” the official Ethereum Improvement Proposal repository, are two of the most active repositories behind go-ethereum when looking at indicators like commits, forks, stars and contributors. Solidity, Ethereum’s smart contract programming language, is also highly active. Activity can be difficult to measure sometimes, so it is important to understand what these indicators mean.

Commits are defined as a moment when a developer saves their work at a specific point. Therefore, it can be misleading when a project is showing lots of commits, as it may just mean someone has been tediously saving their work every step of the way.

Forks, in GitHub, are copies of code made so that a developer can freely make edits to the code without affecting the original implementation. They are generally used for implementing future changes that will be proposed to the original code.

Stars can be viewed as a “favorite” button, used simply as a means of keeping tabs with a certain project as it develops, and contributors are a measure of how many individual GitHub accounts have, well, contributed in any way.

Go-ethereum currently has 10,200 commits, 7,332 forks, 21,229 stars and 345 contributors.

At the time of writing, aleth has 32,939 commits, 2,109 forks, 3,404 stars and 138 contributors. EIPs has 1,302 commits, 1,125 forks, 3,858 stars and 149 contributors. Solidity has 11,635 commits, 1,641 forks, 6,130 stars and 276 contributors.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Cryptocurrency Fever is Starting to Fade: Russian Central Bank

Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, claimed that investors’ excitement toward cryptocurrency has begun to cool. Her remarks came at the FINOPOLIS innovative financial technology forum. Cryptocurrency Fever ‘Beginning to Disappear’ The famed Russian economist and former economic advisor to the Russian President Vladimir Putin represented businesses’ point of view

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