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Blockchain This Week – Bitcoin at 16K, An Unintended Ethereum Fork

This week’s newsletter is the 25th one in the weekly newsletter series. And what a week it has been. Bitcoin soars to US $16,000. Interest for staking in Ethereum 2.0 is gaining momentum. A mysterious fork in the Ethereum Blockchain raises alarms. These and many more in this week’s Blockchain This Week.

Bitcoin Price Shoots to 16K

This week began with a sharp drop in the Bitcoin price from its earlier US $15,000 pennant. The price dropped from $15,800 to a low of close to $14,815. This downturn was attributed to the announcement of a potential coronavirus vaccine made by the pharma company Pfizer. 

However, by Thursday, the stalled rally picked pace, and the price soared up above $16,000. The last time such an uptick was seen was in Jan 2018. At the time of writing, the price was cruising at US $16,113.40.

Bitcoin’s recent rally has bolstered its value by 123 percent on a year-on-year basis. Furthermore, the total market cap of Bitcoin has crossed the US $300 billion mark for the first time since Dec 2017.

Ethereum Chain’s Unintended Split

Meanwhile, Ethereum Blockchain witnessed some action as well. On Wednesday, the network suffered an unintended fork in the transaction chain that started at block 11234873. The day began with an announcement from Infura, an infrastructure provider of Ethereum, reporting a service outage. It was quickly followed by similar reports from Binance and Blockchair. The crypto exchange, Binance, temporarily stopped all withdrawals

The split is purportedly a result of some changes introduced in the Ethereum network’s code. Node operators such as Infura, whose APIs, Binance, MetaMask, and other third parties use, had not upgraded its code. Hence, they ended up being on the minority chain. 

Ironically, this code update that was added to Ethereum’s Geth client was intended to prevent such accidental forks. However, some node operators ignore this update, considering it minor, thus resulting in the very split the code was trying to stop.

Ethereum 2.0 Staking Deposits Gains Momentum

On the other hand, over 50,000 Ether is now locked in the Ethereum 2.0 deposit contract. Patrons interested in participating in the imminent Proof of Stake network started depositing their stakes into the contract that launched last week. So far, close to 10 percent of the required 16384 deposits of 32 Ether has been collected. However, according to people involved in Ethereum 2.0, the investments have to garner further momentum if the switch to the PoS network has to happen on Dec 1. 

Mainstream Adoption of Crypto

World Second Largest Bank Issues Bonds Over Blockchain

China Construction Bank, the second largest bank globally in terms of market capitalization, will issue the US $3 billion worth of debt securities over Blockchain. As per reports, these bond certificates were distributed through the Malaysian branch of the state-owned Labuan bank over a period of three months. These securities will be exchangeable for bitcoin and US dollars on the Fusang exchange. 

Largest Bank in Belarus Launches Crypto Exchange Service

Belarusbank, the largest bank in Belarus, is launching a service that will allow its customers to exchange cryptocurrencies using a Visa payment card. This program will enable trading crypto with fiat currencies such as the Belarusian ruble, the US dollar, and the Euro.

PayPal Crypto Goes Live

On Thursday, Paypal launched its crypto trading and payment services for customers in the US. As per the latest announcement, the customers will be able to trade up to US $20,000 a week. Earlier the payments company had said that it would allow buying and selling for up to US $10,000 worth of crypto.

Sustainable Ecosystem With Blockchain

Blockchain to Streamline Wheat Markets

Swiss Blockchain firm Cerealia SA is set for the commercial launch of its agricultural trading and finance platform. This move comes after two years of extensive testing of the pilot with companies from Algeria, Brazil, Dubai, Japan, and Ukraine. As per reports, Cerealia plans to address the need for a reliable trading platform in the Russian wheat market with this program. 

African Weather Information on Blockchain

Telokonda Weather Group will record the West African weather data on Telos public Blockchain. Telokonda plans to share this information with universities and farming communities. According to the weather group, reliable weather data will help in climate research, hurricane tracking, and weather forecasting.

Electric Vehicle Charging Trial on Blockchain

This week, the Natural Resources department of the Canadian government granted funds of US $1 million for a three year pilot of a Blockchain-powered EV charging platform. The objective of the program is to reduce the costs involved in charging electric vehicles while improving power grid efficiency. This trial focuses on a mutual benefit scenario where vehicle owners can sell the excess power stored in their EV batteries back to the grid. 

Crypto Frauds

However, not everything was bright and sunny in the world of cryptocurrencies this week. Firms reported hacks, attacks, and some even filed for bankruptcy.

Cred Goes Under

Cred, the US-based crypto lending firm, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, citing no clear means by which its customers can get their funds back. As per the court documents, the company has submitted the bankruptcy papers in the District of Delaware. Cred reports its assets estimated at US $50-$100 million and its liabilities at US $100-500 million. According to a letter published by the lender, it has experienced some irregularities in the handling of specific funds by a perpetrator of fraudulent activity. As a result, as advised by their legal counsel, the firm decided to temporarily suspend the inflow and outflow of funds for two weeks starting Oct 28. This development is now followed by the news of bankruptcy.

Ex-Employee Arrested for Defrauding the Tech Giant

An engineer, formerly working for Microsoft, Volodymyr Kvashuk, was sentenced to nine years allegedly for defrauding the tech giant for more than US $10 million. Kvashuk, who worked at Microsoft from Aug 2016 to June 2018, abused his access to the company’s online retail sales platform and used it to steal gift cards. He then profited by selling these cards on the internet. In an attempt to hide the digital evidence, he used bitcoin mixers to launder the profits earned. He transferred close to US $2.8 million in bitcoin to his bank accounts. Finally, he filed fraudulent tax returns, where he falsely claimed that this money was gifts received from a relative. 

Grin Under Attack

The Grin Blockchain network suffered a 51 percent attack this week. An unknown miner(s) controlled 57.4 percent of the network’s hash power. The price of the Grin’s native token, GRIN, however, remained relatively unaffected, falling just 1.3 percent over 24 hours. 

Hackers Exploit DeFi Protocol

Gibraltar-based DeFi platform Akropolis became the latest victim of the proliferating flash loan attacks. Hackers reportedly got away with more than US $2 million in Dai stablecoin before the network paused all the transaction pools. The funds have since been moved to a different address. According to the firm, it had identified a hack that was executed across a body of smart contracts in the savings pools. The hackers got away with more than 2,030,850 Dai. Akropolis has since issued a statement on its website stating that the majority of funds are safe, and it was exploring ways to reimburse affected users. 

Chainalysis to Help Authorities Manage Confiscated Crypto

Last week, the US Department of Justice confiscated over US $1 billion worth of Bitcoin that was associated with the clandestine online marketplace, Silk Road. Ever wondered what happens to this digital cash seized from the nefarious actors? How do law enforcement authorities manage these funds? Now, a new program launched by the Blockchain analytics firm, Chainalysis, proposes a solution for dealing with the confiscated crypto. This program enables tracking, seizure planning, storing, and monitoring the collected assets for the officials.

And Finally, an Ethereum Undo Button

There have been a lot of instances where users enter wrong amounts or enter amounts in the wrong fields while transacting on the Ethereum Blockchain. As recently as last week, one such incident where an Ethereum user accidentally spent US $9,300 (23 Ether) to send US $120 (0.296 Ether) was reported. At these times, having an option to retract such transactions come in handy. Israeli Blockchain startup Kirobo, known for its Bitcoin Undo button, has launched the same service for Ethereum (ETH). This Ethereum Undo button will allow the users to add passwords when they send payments using the network. These transactions can be reversed at any time until the receiver of the payments enters the password.

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