Bitcoin kept sliding throughout the week after experiencing the much feared "death cross" over the holiday weekend, which was less destabilizing due to the apparently oversold position in the market. The top cryptocurrency failed to find support around $6,600 towards the end of the week and now risks drifting lower to $6,000 as concerns over regulation and taxation weigh on market sentiment. Disappointing market data for the first quarter, increasing regulation, bans, scams, taxation worries -all served to dampen sentiment over the week.
Here is a collection of the main stories from the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain this week, thus far.
Crypto Markets See Heavy Losses In Q1, Bitcoin Logs Worst Q1 Ever
The combined cryptocurrency market capitalization dropped by 59 percent or by more than $300 billion since the start of January to below $300 billion by the end of the first quarter, Coinmarketcap data indicated. The world's most popular cryptocurrency recorded its worst first quarter ever since it started trading regularly in 2010 as it lost more than half its value since the beginning of this year - from $13,412 on January 1 to $6685 on April 1. The previous biggest decline was a 38 percent fall in the price in Q1 of 2014, according to data from CoinDesk. Adding to the dismal news was the results of a study by ETH Zurich that said Bitcoin remained overvalued and was likely to plunge before the year end. And in India, one of the booming crypto markets, Ethereum topped Bitcoin as the most searched crypto over the past five months, research from mobile internet provider Jana showed.
In altcoin news, VeChain soared nearly 30 percent after Bithumb, one of South Korea's largest crypto exchanges, listed the coin. The cryptocurrency was among the few altcoins to defy the crypto market sell-off in the first quarter of this year.
Japan To Fight Crypto Theft, Australia Brings Exchanges Under Regulation
The Japanese government reportedly decided to set up a security agency in Tokyo to fight crypto currency theft. Meanwhile, the Australian government brought all cryptocurrency exchanges in the country under its control after the new anti-money laundering or AML guidelines came into force early this week.
India's Central Bank Bans Banks From Crypto Dealings
The Reserve Bank of India slapped an immediate ban on banks providing services to investors and firms dealing in digital currencies. The central bank asked banks to stop their existing business with cryptocurrency investors within three months. Meanwhile, the RBI has formed an inter-departmental group "to study and provide guidance on the desirability and feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency." The group is expected to submit a report by the end of June.
South Korea, Thailand Plan Cryptocurrency Taxation
South Korea has set June 2018 as cut-off time to come out with a taxation framework for cryptocurrencies, a month ahead of the July 2018, the deadline recommended by the G20 for own regulations for the crypto industry. In Thailand, the finance minister Apisak Tantivorawong reportedly unveiled the tax framework under which, investors would be required to pay 7 percent in value-added tax on all crypto trades alongside a 15 percent capital gains tax on returns on cryptocurrency investments.
Google Bans Crypto Mining Extensions On Chrome
Google banned all cryptocurrency mining extensions on its Chrome Web Store, citing a rise in malicious extensions. However, extensions with blockchain-related purposes other than mining will continue to be permitted. In other bans targeting cryptocurrencies, e-mail marketing platform MailChimp started to block cryptocurrency and ICO related campaigns.
SEC Unearths Another Crypto Fraud, Alibaba Sues ICO For Trademark Violation
Two founders of a cryptocurrency firm Centra were charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission for carrying out a fake initial coin offering that raised $32 million and was promoted by boxer Floyd Mayweather. Elsewhere, Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the Chinese retail and internet conglomerate, sued a Dubai-based cryptocurrency firm for trademark violation as the latter raised over $3.5 million through the initial coin offering of a token called "AlibabaCoins" or "ABBC Coins". The Chinese retailer had previously made it clear that it was not interested in entering the cryptocurrency space.
Japan's Hacked Coincheck To Be Bought By Monex For JPY 3.6 Bln
Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, which was hit by the largest-ever digital currency theft late January, has agreed to be acquired by Japanese online brokerage Monex Group for 3.6 billion yen or about $34 million. Monex's shares climbed around 20 percent in Japan following the announcement. In late January, Coincheck was hacked of 523 million NEM coins worth 58 billion yen or $530 million at that time.
AirAsia Creating Own Cryptocurrency 'BigCoin'
Budget airline AirAsia is creating its own cryptocurrency, embracing more digital tech as it expands into more markets, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing the company founder and CEO Tony Fernandes. The Malaysia-based budget airline, which is the largest in Asia by passenger volume, is planning to convert the frequent flyer points to cryptocurrency that it has named "BigCoin". Singapore Airlines already announced such a plan earlier this year.
Sirin Labs Teams With Foxconn To Make First Blockchain Smartphone
Sirin Labs' Finney, the world's first blockchain-based smartphone, reportedly will be manufactured by FIH Mobile Ltd., a unit of electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn. Finney, created by the Swiss-Israeli technology firm, is designed to securely store and use digital currencies in fee-less transactions.
Hollywood Hopes To End Piracy With Blockchain Movie Distribution
Hollywood is also on board the blockchain wagon with hopes of seeing an end to piracy and "No Postage Necessary", the first movie to be distributed using the technology is set for release in June. The movie has partnered with Vevue, which is a Qtum blockchain based incentivized peer-to-peer video sharing decentralized application, or DApp, network. The romantic comedy is about a computer hacker and a stash of stolen Bitcoins.
As of 9.52 am ET on Friday, Bitcoin was down 4.09 percent for the week at $6,607.01 and Ethereum was lower by 7.1 percent at $367.96 on Coinbase.
by Jyotsna V