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A number of banks in India are reportedly closing accounts of customers who have purchased or dealt in cryptocurrencies. It is thought that India’s Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are driving the initiative.

“We noticed you did a transaction involving crypto, hence, we will close your account within 30 days”

– Kotak Mahindra Bank

P.S: Glad they’re doing it for me pic.twitter.com/JIWzeU54i5

— Indian CryptoGirl (@DesiCryptoHodlr) January 12, 2019


With no official statement yet issued by the RBI, who report to the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) in Switzerland, it remains unclear if the latest clampdown is as a result of independent action or has been initiated by actors within Prime Minister Modi’s Government.

The RBI has previously been accused of violating the country’s constitution for its stance on cryptocurrencies.

Little Media Attention

The news of the account closures has received little attention within Indian media, however, given the country’s current political context. India has just witnessed one of the largest employment disputes in history with an estimated 200 million employees within the public services, communications and agriculture sectors going on a 48 hour strike in an attempt to improve general working conditions.

According to the Washington Post, the number of people in India aged between the age of 15 and 34 is expected to hit 480 million by the year 2021 yet general economic prospects appear poor despite the country being ranked as one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

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The legions of League of Legends players can now earn cryptocurrency simply from playing the multi-online battle arena (MOBA) game thanks to an extension of the partnership between the game’s producers Riot Games and Refereum.

It is estimated that over 65 million monthly users will benefit from the integration of the blockchain reward system as they begin to receive Refereum tokens (RFR) by completing games, winning matches and accomplishing in-game achievements.

Industry Expectations

This development had been anticipated for some time by some in the industry, given that a significant portion of League of Legend users had already been earning RFR for streaming, sharing and watching games.

The reward platform has been integrated into the game’s API and, during the beta stage, points earned for playing will be added to a Refereum user’s total balance. At the end of a season, gamers will receive RFR based on how many points they have earned during the entire period.

Dylan Jones, CEO of Refereum, believes “Gamification is happening at all levels of society from behavioural economics, to game theory, neural networks and artificial intelligence…” and as such “…in our ever-connected world, we all matter and we all add value, and we built Refereum to recognise this by fairly sharing rewards.”

With the added intention of shaking up the gaming market by releasing higher profits for developers and content creators, Refereum appear to be adhering to an early pledge of rewarding users who engage with popular gaming content.

Refereum cancelled its public ICO just over a year ago after enjoying a hugely successful pre-sale that netted 40,000 ETH in contributions and, at the time, they justified the decision by expressing a preference for holders of its tokens to be end-users of the platform rather than speculative buyers.

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According to a press release by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC), the country’s Ministry of Finance has approved the applications of four companies to operate cryptocurrency exchanges within the Kingdom.

The four to gain an official operating licence are Bitcoin Company Limited (BX), Bitkhun Online Company Limited (BITKUB), Satang Corporation Limited (Satang Pro) and Coins TH Company (Coins).

Asia Hub of Digital Assets

A fifth entity, Coin Asset, is still undergoing review but two other exchanges, Cash2Coin and South East Asia Digital Exchange, were denied permission due to being “…not ready to meet standards accepted by the SEC” and told to cease operations by 15th January 2019.

Both exchanges may re-apply after addressing IT security concerns and improving their KYC standards.

Most of the companies considered by the authorities began the procedure for an official licence in August 2018.

Last year was indeed a busy time for Thailand’s SEC who compelled all ICO issuers, digital exchanges, brokers and dealers involved with digital asset transactions to formally register with statutory authorities and then moved swiftly to formulate a regulatory framework.

Developments within Thailand are being seen as an attempt to position the country alongside nations such as Singapore who have helped to establish Asia as a strong cryptocurrency hub, with Japan recently taking the unusual step of granting the industry self-regulatory status.

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Following the Coinbase exchange report that Ethereum Classic (ETC) has been subjected to deep reorganisations of its blockchain, including cases of double spending, conflicting theories have been presented to explain the possible cause.

On 1/5/2019, Coinbase detected a deep chain reorganization of the Ethereum Classic blockchain that included a double spend. In order to protect customer funds, we immediately paused movements of these funds on the ETC blockchain. Read more here: https://t.co/vCx89dz44m

— Coinbase (@coinbase) January 7, 2019


Coinbase has since revised the value of the double spends detected upwards to a figure of around $1.1 million involving 219,500 ETC, and the still-developing narrative is dividing opinion as to the depth and purpose of the attack.

Denial of Motive v Suggestion of Intent

Although the only notable exchange to publicise the event, Coinbase funds are not thought to be effected as they quickly froze their transactions with the blockchain.

Initially taking an opposing stance to Coinbase, Ethereum Classic developers responded to the news by denying any double spends took place and pointed to ASIC manufacturer Linzhi testing new ethash machines as accounting for the excessive network hashrate rather than a malicious attempt at a 51% attack.

Subsequent tweets from the same group have shown active investigation acknowledging Coinbase may have been correct and suggests the situation is still fluid.

To be clear we are making no attempt to hide or downplay recent events.

Facts are facts and as the situation develops we’ll soon get a full picture of what actually took place.
Linzhi is testing ASICS. Coinbase reported double spends; both may be true.

In time we will see. https://t.co/bbq6eqIoiS

— Ethereum Classic (@eth_classic) January 7, 2019


Either way, the block reorganisation created a brief spell of substantial sell pressure for ETC and the asset traded lower across all exchanges once the news broke before recovering.

There has also been speculation that the situation is the result of organised intent to manipulate ETC’s price with Hong Kong-based OKEx exchange coming under the spotlight from some observers as, just days earlier ,they had provided facilities to short ETC.

Recent ETC ongoing 51% attack targeting OKEx exchange.
3 days ago, OKEx enabled ETC shorting capabilities. Coincidence?

Step1: Buy ETC Shorts
Step 2: Launch 51% Attack
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit @NikhilKal @AliBHamed @coventurevc

— Honour Masters (@_itsanhonour) January 7, 2019

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Since late October, a section of France’s working classes and self-employed has been engaged in protests and riots. The protests have largely taken the form of spontaneous – and generally amicable – assemblies at round-abouts and other major intersections on France’s national roads.

The riots, on the other hand, have been focused on Paris and have been taking place on each Saturday for the last two months. Over the course of that period, at least seven people have been killed – largely at the hands of the police – with many more seriously injured, some losing limbs and at least one having lost sight in one eye.

As a decentralised movement with no formal spokes-people and no formal organisational structure, it has been difficult for observers to make generalisations about the so-called Yellow Vests. Whilst their grievances are understood, there is still much debate about what the movement is seeking in terms of redress.

As a decentralised movement, however, it is also perhaps of no surprise that Bitcoin has put in an appearance – albeit a minor one – amidst proceedings. Previous demonstrations have witnessed a handful of protests donning yellow vests with the slogan: “Buy Bitcoin”.

And on Sunday, a new mural painting has appeared on the streets of Paris, reprising some of France’s most iconic revolutionary images, updated to incorporate a reference to France’s latest insurrectionary moment.

Intriguingly, the artist, Pascal Boyart, who refers to himself as Pboy – which thankfully does not quite have the same connotation in French as it does in English – has incorporated a puzzle into one of the murals which provides clues to unlocking a prize of $1000 in BTC.

An up-and-coming French banksy of sorts, Pboy is known to be something of a Bitcoin fan, regularly taking payment for his work in the form of crypto-currency and adjoining Bitcoin payment addresses in QR code format to his exhibited works of art.

To claim the prize, participants – according to Pboy’s instructions – need to be physically present at the mural whose location is not disclosed on his website. The prize – originally worth 0.25 BTC – has increased slightly to 0.285 BTC as others have contributed their own funds to its associated Bitcoin address.

Whilst it is not quite clear if the initiative is more of a publicity stunt or a political statement, it is, he states, “what might be described as the first street-art treasure hunt of its kind,” just as “Bitcoin gets set to celebrate its 10th birthday.”

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Transaction fees on the Bitcoin network in the opening days of January 2019 have reached their lowest level in over three years, registering a median of $0.02 per transaction, according to new data released by Bitcoin Visuals.

The data, compiled by analyst Kevin Rooke and published in a tweet two days ago, also indicate that current transaction fees are being applied in a context in which Bitcoin volume has doubled in comparison to October 2015, the period in which such transaction fees had last been witnessed.

Bitcoin tx fees just hit their lowest level in over 3 years!

Jan 1, 2019:
Median Bitcoin tx fee = $0.02
Total transactions = 234,576

Oct 13, 2015:
Median Bitcoin tx fee = $0.02
Total transactions = 134,741 pic.twitter.com/HjNUO4ktnj

— Kevin Rooke (@kerooke) January 4, 2019

Nudging Towards Real Adoption?

Commissions applied to transactions in the Bitcoin network represent the fees received by the miners as an incentive to maintain the network. Historically, fees – along with volatility – have been considered too high by most analysts to allow for adoption of Bitcoin as a viable medium for general retail payments.

However, with scalability solutions such as SegWit, launched in 2017 and now accounting for about 40% of all transactions, along with Lightning Network – a second-layer technology launched on top of the existing Bitcoin protocol less than a year ago in a bid to accommodate micro-payments using Bitcoin – the falling trend in fee commissions appears to represent a positive, long-term trend in favour of the utility adoption of Bitcoin as an everyday payments mechanism as opposed to a means as a store of value.

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NEO CEO Da Hongfei has rung in the new year with a rare tweet promising to “work harder to improve infrastructure” and focus on modules that “…deliver the best developer experience.”

Happy NEO Year! In 2019 we will work harder to improve infrastructure. Personally I’ll focus on modules that can be added to NEO incl. distributed storage, identity, layer2, to improve NEO’s crypto-economics, and to deliver the best developer experience. https://t.co/RCT5yjMaye pic.twitter.com/bPPYbxuzSB

— Da Hongfei (@dahongfei) January 2, 2019

Da Hongfei, who is traditionally more reticent to take to social media than some of his peers in the crypto space, did not make any reference to any of the projects on the NEO group’s roadmap for 2019, but one such project from NEO developers set to cause a stir this year is Luna,

Mobile Dating Simulation

Coming to life through a venture between BlaCat and YYMOON Network, Luna is the star of NEO.Girl, a mobile dating simulation game that purportedly “combines virtual reality, non-fungible blockchain assets and artificial intelligence.”

An alpha version of the game was awarded JPY 500,000 in prize money after impressing judges at the inaugural NEO Game Development Competition last summer.

The objective of the game is open-ended and is said to simulate the complete life-death cycle of an individual with users encouraged to form a friendly and even romantic experience with the Luna character, including – bizarrely – taking care of Luna’s wardrobe, with the game’s ecosystem to be maintained through the buying and selling of limited edition clothing which will be rendered as “scarce, non-fungible token assets.”

However the type of clothes, as well as other aspects of the game, appear not to be going down well with NEO’s active reddit brigade.

One member, ZenoftheBaron, was traumatised enough to write “I saw the face of God and it was weeping” while Up-vote_cat_stuff responded with the less-poetic but perhaps more succinct “This is creepy AF.”

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TRON founder Justin Sun took to Twitter over the festive period to extol the growth of the platform’s development team and the number of dApps on its network which he predicts will exceed those on EOS by the end of the month.

#TRON grows rapidly and has 83 Dapps in @dapp_review now! Mission accomplished! We will surpass EOS on the number of Dapps (now 259) at the end of January, 2019! #TRX $TRX https://t.co/ybPZdldmEI pic.twitter.com/HlbkUgi9Po

— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) December 30, 2018

Such figures are unlikely to impress Jed McCaleb, however. The co-founder of Mt Gox, Ripple and Stellar, has described TRON as “just garbage” and became the latest prominent player within the crypto industry to criticise the project..

Hype v. Technical Merit

In his interview with Yahoo Finance, McCaleb said it is “…amazing to me how hype-driven” the market is now and “Ninety percent of these projects are B.S…. Things like TRON, it’s just garbage. But people dump tons of money into it, these things that just do not technically work.”

Sun was quick to respond to the criticism by belittling Stellar’s accomplishments and dismissed them as a non-competitor “…since they have extremely low transaction volume, centralized & non-democratic system and 0 dApps.”

We don’t think @StellarLumens is our competitor at all since they have extremely low transaction volume, centralized&non-democratic system and 0 Dapps. #TRON will take their place within 2019 anyway. #TRX $TRX #XLM https://t.co/kPuTIwiI0r

— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) January 1, 2019

Just a couple of hours later, Sun could not resist firing another shot at the Stellar CEO when he compared TRON’s file-sharing BitTorrent to another of McCaleb’s earlier projects, eDonkey.

BitTorrent: The OG in P2P, 1B+ users, bringing P2P to mass market. eDonkey, founded by @JedMcCaleb: RIP 2002. Guess we’re doing pretty well for “garbage” Prediction for 2019 : #TRON vs @StellarOrg will have same results as @BitTorrent vs eDonkey $TRX #XLM https://t.co/HTu5p6Q8g9

— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) January 1, 2019

TRON has received positive headlines in recent weeks, including that of surpassing one million active user accounts and 100 million smart contracts on its network. In August, the introduction of the TRON Virtual Machine (TVM) allowed developers to port Ethereum and Java apps onto the platform, raising the overall total available to users.

Future plans suggest a further addition to TRON’s product range, Project Atlas, will again raise the overall profile of the TRON brand as it sets out to compensate users for seeding torrents and is likely to gain traction from a wide internet-user base outside of the usual cryptocurrency community.

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