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Friday, January 26, 2018

Blockchain wallets advance, criminals attack

A recent flurry of headlines reflects a growing interest in cryptocurrencies, according to payments and legal analysts. Recent reports include numerous initial coin offerings (ICOs), cardless cash startups and armed robberies involving bitcoin wallets.

Peter Vessenes, co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation and Managing Director of New Alchemy, expects blockchain technology and various methods of tokenization to become mainstream in the next five years. Vessenes and a team of engineers launched Deluge Network in December 2017, a new service designed to simplify ICOs. The new service will dispense with requiring participants to convert bitcoins to tokens through an intermediating exchange, which is time-consuming and expensive, Vessenes noted. In contrast, an ICO can fund an ICO directly with their Bitcoin through Deluge Network's easy, decentralized process, he noted.

"Existing exchanges and trading desks can take an hour to days to process; fees and slippage can total up to 10 percent," Vessenes said. "We propose something different: Deluge delivers both the value of Bitcoin as well as the smart contract features, speed, and price benefits of Ethereum."

Cardless schemes

New York-based NationPay, a blockchain technology startup, launched a cardless payment network Jan. 23, 2018, linking consumer bank accounts to Ethereum blockchain wallets. The company's cardless payment network facilitates bank-to-wallet and wallet-to-wallet transfers, eliminating the need for credit and debit cards, company representatives stated. James Yen, Chairman and Managing Director at NationPay, said the touchless wallet-to-wallet transfer is secure and transparent.

"The transfer is secured through bank-secured tokens," he said. "The wallet links directly to a client's bank or credit card account. On the NationPay platform, merchants are clients and clients are anyone from the same or different banks."

Yen further noted that NationPay's wallet-to-wallet remittances eliminate the process flow from credit card brands and money transfer companies, reducing end-to-end fees by about 1 percent. Users can withdraw funds from traditional bank networks at NationPay-branded ATMs, which can accept bank tokens from phones and dispense cash.

Criminal element

Meanwhile, the New York County District Attorney's Office filed armed robber and kidnapping charges against Louis Meza, a suspect in a heist of $1.8 million worth of ether, a cryptocurrency in the Ethereum network. Charges, filed in the New York State Supreme Court, include grand larceny, kidnapping, robbery and criminal use of a firearm. New York State District Attorney Cyrus Vance said he expects to see more cryptocurrency-related crimes as values surge.

Meza absconded with the victim's cell phone, wallet and keys after holding his mark at gunpoint, according to prosecutors familiar with the case. Video surveillance from the victim's apartment building shows Meza using the stolen keys to enter the victim's apartment, where he allegedly stole the ether, which he then transferred to his own cryptocurrency wallet.

In other news, police in Ottawa, Canada, are reviewing an attempted robbery at a cryptocurrency exchange. CBC news reported three armed suspects entered Canadian Bitcoins offices Jan. 24, 2018, where they restrained four employees and forcibly attempted an outbound transaction. A fifth employee notified police, who promptly arrived before any assets could be taken. CBC News noted one suspect has been captured and charged; the case remains an open investigation. end of article

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