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Bitcoin Falls Under $8,000 Again as US Stock Market Sees Discrete Gains

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Wednesday, May 15 — most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are reporting moderate gains on the day by press time, as bitcoin (BTC) has fallen below the $8,000 mark again.

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Bitcoin is nearly a percent down on the day, trading at $7,975 at press time, according to CoinMarketCap. Looking at its weekly chart, the coin is up over 25.7%.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, the CEO of instant cryptocurrency exchange platform ShapeShift told Bloomberg that bubbles are an essential part of the industry’s growth.

Ether (ETH) is holding onto its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which currently stands at $24.5 billion. The second-largest altcoin, XRP, has a market cap of $17.9 billion at press time.

CoinMarketCap data shows that ETH is up over 11% over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading around $231. On the week, the coin has also seen its value increase by over 26.8%.

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin recently said that the Ethereum blockchain will become about 1,000 times more scalable in 18 to 24 months.

XRP is up over 5.6% over the last 24 hours and is currently trading at around $0.427. On the week, the coin is up over 29%.

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, the ones reporting the most notable gains are tezos (XTZ), which is up nearly 22%, binance coin (BNB), which is up over 14.5%, tron (TRX) and ethereum classic (ETC), both up over 12%.

At press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is $244.3 billion, nearly 24% higher than the value it reported a week ago.

Total market capitalization 24-hour chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Total market capitalization 24-hour chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

In traditional markets, the United States stock market is seeing discrete gains so far today, with the S&P 500 up 0.55% and the Nasdaq up 0.98% at press time. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), on the other hand, has lost a solid 6.26% on the day at press time.

Major oil futures and indexes are seeing mixed movements today, with WTI Crude up 0.19%, Brent Crude up 0.73% and Mars US up 1.56% at press time. The OPEC Basket is down 0.77% and the Canadian Crude Index has gained 0.51% by press time, according to OilPrices.





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New Zealand Blockchain Group to Request Government Blockchain Strategy

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New Zealand-based blockchain industry group BlockchainNZ announced that it will request a national blockchain strategy from the government next Thursday, according to a press release on May 21.

The executive director of Blockchain NZ, Mark Pascall, will give a presentation to the New Zealand parliament’s economic development, science and innovation select committee hearing on the potential economic advantages of implementing blockchain tech solutions in the country.

The presentation will reportedly serve as an introductory seminar on blockchain, bitcoin, smart contracts, security tokens, and decentralized autonomous organisations.

Pascall commented that Blockchain NZ wants to have its experts work together with the government to formulate this strategy, and also highlighted the financial scope of blockchain in 2019:

“So, we really want government to take blockchain seriously and produce a strategy. We can help them with that so we strike a balance between trying to plan for an unpredictable future and taking some action so we realize huge potential economic benefits for the country.”

Blockchain NZ is a group of various blockchain-oriented business, organizations and experts, that was formed in 2016. In 2018, the organization voted to become part of the not-for-profit New Zealand Tech Alliance.

Various countries have either implemented or are in the process of implementing or have already implemented national blockchain strategies.

In April 2018, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the ‘UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021.’ In addition to other benefits, the plan will purportedly reduce government expenditures on documentation.

In February, the German government announced it would form such a strategy by mid-2019. Some parliamentarians of the Bundestag stated that the strategy should also include a framework for trading cryptocurrencies.

In March, Australia revealed a national blockchain roadmap and a funding boost to support the technology’s development. The new plan aims to make Australia a national leader in the blockchain industry.





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Central Bank of Laos Issues Warning Against Using Cryptocurrency

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The central bank of Laos has warned the public against the use, purchase or sale of digital currencies, local news outlet Vientiane Times reported on May 21.

The Bank of the Lao PDR has issued a warning to financial market participants and the public against cryptocurrency transactions as they are considered illegal in the country. The bank previously banned financial institutions from conducting any operations with cryptocurrencies, as well as making investments in such an asset.

The bank is purportedly concerned about the anonymity of the sender and receiver in a cryptocurrency transaction, which it worries increases the risk of digital assets’ use in money laundering. A source familiar with the matter told Vientiane Times that authorities do not have a relevant security system to protect cryptocurrency owners.

While some countries like, Canada, Malta and Switzerland have embraced the new asset class to varying degrees, officials around the globe are still expressing skepticism toward crypto, while some hardliners call for outright bans.

In the United States, where the legal status of crypto can vary state-to-state, California Congressman Brad Sherman recently called for a full ban on cryptocurrencies. Sherman claimed that crypto presents a threat to the power of the U.S. dollar to affect world economic developments.

In April, Cointelegraph reported that the Indian government was considering a complete ban of cryptocurrencies under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act since it could purportedly be used for money laundering. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs reportedly stated that cryptocurrencies are used in fraudulent schemes to “defraud gullible investors”.

That same month, news broke that Pakistan — which banned cryptocurrency trading last April — is implementing new cryptocurrency regulations in an effort to improve its track record in fighting financial crime. The move was reportedly in part a reaction to demands from international monitoring body the Finance Action Task Force, which has repeatedly voiced concerns about cryptocurrencies’ role in terrorist financing.





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Firefox Quantum Offers Anti-Cryptojacking Feature

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Firefox Quantum, the latest version of open-source internet browser Firefox, has a new privacy toggle that protects against cryptojacking, according to a blog post by Mozilla on May 21.

Mozilla previously warned official blog post that websites can deploy scripts that launch a crypto miner on a user’s machine without them being aware — a practice known as cryptojacking.

To combat these exploitative practices, Mozilla partnered with online privacy company Disconnect to create a crypto mining blocker for their browser. Users can now toggle an opt-in feature, that purportedly blocks would-be cryptojackers from taking advantage of spare computing power to mine cryptocurrencies.

Mozilla initially announced that it would block cryptojacking in new browser releases in August 2018. As per a report by Cointelegraph, Firefox featured cryptojacking protection in its Firefox Nightly 68 and Beta 67 versions this April, just prior to the launch of Quantum.

Firefox Quantum also aims to mitigate the practice of so-called “fingerprinting,” which makes a sort of digital fingerprint of a user that is employed to monitor their activities on the internet.

Cryptojacking at the consumer level was called “essentially extinct” by cybersecurity company MalwareBytes on April 23. According to the report:

“Marked by the popular drive-by mining company CoinHive shutting down operations in early March, consumer cryptomining seems to have gone the way of the dodo. Detections of consumer-focused bitcoin miners have dropped significantly over the last year and even from last quarter, while business-focused miners have increased from the previous quarter, especially in the APAC region.”

According to the report, consumer malware detections have gone down by approximately 40%. Businesses, however, are being targeted more heavily by cryptojacking attempts, with

Business detections increasing by about 7% during the first quarter of 2019.





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