Blockchain Bites: Major Crypto Players Sued, Steem Froze Accounts and More

Daniel Kuhn

At least 10 class-action lawsuits were filed against major crypto firms and personalities accusing them of offering unregistered securities.

The thread tying it all together? The lawsuits were filed by the same boutique law firm – Roche Cyrulnik Freedman – heading up another high profile case involving bitcoin’s (BTC) self-defined creator and antagonist Craig S. Wright. No matter the outcome, these suits could provide clarity around the open question of when a token offering could fall under U.S. securities law.

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Related: First Mover: Bitcoin’s Back in the Black for 2020

Class action
Plaintiffs filed at least 10 class-action lawsuits against some of the biggest names in crypto, including Binance, KuCoin and BitMEX operator HDR Global Trading, as well as blockchain projects like Tron, Block.One and Kyber Network. The thread tying these cases together? Accusations the companies facilitated the sale of unregistered securities (aka “tokens”) to the public. 

Frozen steem
Witnesses on Steem have frozen eight accounts, putting a total of 17.6 million steem (worth approximately $3.2 million) in limbo. “We are at an extremely difficult time in the history of Steem, and the power of communities are [sic] the key to make Steem great again,” said a Steemit blog announcing the move. A tit-for-tat between Steem’s old and new leadership boiled over after Justin Sun purchased a majority stake in the Steem blockchain two months ago. Dissident token holders forked to a new blockchain called Hive, and it now appears some of their original Steem tokens are locked. 

Going digital
Researchers at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) think COVID-19 may accelerate the adoption of digital payments and sharpen the debate over central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Issuing their forecast in BIS’s April 3 Bulletin, they researchers said COVID-19 is changing the public’s relationship with cash, despite the scientific community’s consensus that coronavirus transmission via banknote is relatively unlikely. 

Market maturity
Crypto companies kept buying each other last year even as both M&A and funding deal flow in the industry took a dive, according to a report by PwC. While the number of M&A deals dropped from 189 in 2018 to 114 in 2019, representing a whopping 76 percent decline in value to $451 million, more than half of the deals were initiated by crypto-native firms, indicating that larger companies acquired smaller firms providing ancillary services.  

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Planned obsolescence
MakerDAO is planning its obsolescence. Rune Christensen, Maker’s founder, has a two-year three-plank plan to turn over work done by the MakerDAO Foundation to organizations controlled by token holders. “The rollout of the self-sustaining MakerDAO initiative is going to be a very much a step-by-step process that will happen very carefully and deliberately,” he said. 

Subsidiary scam
Victims of an alleged crypto ponzi scam have filed a class-action lawsuit against a Wells Fargo subsidiary, claiming a financial advisor associated with the firm defrauded 150 investors out of $35 million. 

Revolut’s crypto will not be Americanized
Revolut, a UK-based neo-bank, will now allow a larger swath of clients to buy and sell cryptocurrencies supported in its banking app. While the challenger bank successfully expanded to the U.S. in March, American investors are still excluded from crypto trading. 

Blockchain stimulus
As coronavirus roils markets, U.S. legislators are committing to providing financial aid to citizens through the CARES Act. But, legislation lacks certainty around how and when financial relief will be delivered. CoinDesk columnist Stephanie Hurder writes that blockchain can be an essential tool in providing clarity, and for Congress to “show their commitment” to delivering this needed stimulus. 

Around the web

  • The Gemini exchange is adding Basic Attention Token (BAT) on Friday (Decrypt).
  • Decrypt takes “a look at China’s most prolific crypto venture firm,” NGC Ventures.
  • The Bank of Korea, the country’s central bank, has launched a pilot program for testing digital won. (The Block)
  • Poloniex launches token sale platform, with Tron’s decentralized stablecoin system as first project (The Block)
  • Crypto to the rescue after Khan Academy’s COVID-19 traffic surge (Cointelegraph)
  • Loom Network to cap off troublesome quarter with a network upgrade (Messari)

Market Intel

Modest rally
Bitcoin has rallied above $7,100 at press time, a 5 percent gain from the previous 24 hours. The move began during Asian equity market trading hours as Japan’s Nikkei index moved up 4.2 percent. Many analysts attribute the changing sentiment in both crypto and traditional markets to positive data showing the coronavirus crisis may soon lessen.

Gold bugs out
In the recent market turmoil, bitcoin did not act like the uncorrelated asset many thought it was. Nor did gold. As things calmed down a bit (or as we got used to the new volatility), gold resumed its upward climb. But there are problems: gold is not as fungible as we assumed. During this period, BTC’s correlation to equities rose sharply, while its correlation to gold fell. Still, the BTC/Gold relationship is stronger than that of bitcoin and equities, CoinDesk’s head of research Noelle Acheson writes in Crypto Long & Short, a newsletter that looks closely at the forces driving cryptocurrency markets. You can subscribe here.

Security patch
Braiins, the company behind the world’s sixth-largest bitcoin mining pool has released software to patch security problems with such pools. This software update, called Stratum V2, provides better privacy for miners and protections from so-called hijacking attacks, where other entities temporarily steal their hashing power. 

Halving report
In May of 2020, bitcoin is expected to undergo its third “halving,” a programmed supply reduction that has in the past coincided with a strong run-up in the bitcoin price. In this paper, we explain what the bitcoin halving is, why it matters and why the market is so focused on this event.

Let’s Talk Bitcoin!

The long tail of COVID-19
BitTorrent creator and Chia CEO Bram Cohen joins Let’s Talk Bitcoin! to discuss the limitations of Satoshi’s approach to Nakamoto consensus, how he believes it can be improved and the lasting impacts of coronavirus lockdowns. 

Who Won Crypto Twitter?

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