Cointelegraph By Helen Partz
Ant Group, the financial affiliate of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, has reportedly reached an agreement with Chinese regulators over the company’s status.
According to a Feb. 3 report by Bloomberg, Chinese regulators have agreed on a restructuring plan that will turn Jack Ma’s fintech giant into a financial holding company.
Ant Group’s new status will reportedly make it subject to capital requirements similar to those for Chinese banks. The agreement will impact a wide scope of Ant’s business operations, including its technology offerings in areas like blockchain and food delivery, unnamed sources told Bloomberg.
According to the report, the restructuring plan marks the first step of an upcoming overhaul, which is expected to be a continuous process as regulators are set to develop detailed capital requirements and other guidelines for companies spanning multiple financial business lines.
The new holding status will reportedly have crucial implications for Ant Group in terms of its planned initial public offering. According to Bloomberg, Ant is still exploring opportunities for its potential IPO, but the new holding framework could make it more difficult as it is unclear how long it will take for authorities to come up with a listing decision.
As of publishing time, Ant Group has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.
As previously reported, Ant Group filed its IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai in August 2020, projecting to become the largest IPO in history. The $37 billion offering was subsequently halted by Chinese authorities amid concerns about Ant’s size as well as new rules requiring online platforms to provide more of their own funding for arranged loans.
Ant Group eventually became the subject of an antitrust investigation in late 2020. The latest news about Ant’s agreement with regulators comes shortly after Ma made his first public appearance since late 2020, after nearly three months of intense speculation about his whereabouts.
Banksy art burned and tokenized
Cointelegraph By Greg Thomson
An original artwork by anonymous British street artist Banksy has been burned and turned into a nonfungible token. The NFT will be auctioned next week on the blockchain-based Rarible platform, where users can create and purchase rare tokenized artworks.
The original Banksy in question is a satirical piece entitled “Morons,” which depicts buyers at an art auction bidding on a piece emblazoned with the words “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit.” The piece received certification from Pest Control — the only body authorized to authenticate original Banksy artworks.
“Morons” was sold at Christie’s auction house in London in late 2019, where it fetched $32,500 from an anonymous, independent buyer.
The burning of the piece took place at an unknown location in Brooklyn, New York, and was livestreamed via the recently created Twitter account BurntBanksy. The burning was reportedly carried out by a group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts in association with executives from the blockchain project Injective Labs.
The tokenization of the authenticated piece took place without input from the pseudonymous Banksy. However, other prominent artists have seen fit to dip their toes into the crypto world of late, as witnessed recently when famed British artist Damien Hirst announced he would accept bids for his work in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).
The NFT market became an industry unto itself toward the end of 2020, as almost $9 million in token sales was recorded in December 2020 alone. But that was just a sign of things to come, as NFT sales exploded moving into 2021, helped by the validation of several high-profile celebrities such as YouTuber Logan Paul and entrepreneur Mark Cuban.
On Sunday, acclaimed Canadian musician and artist Grimes launched an NFT collection titled “WarNymph”, which went on to sell for a collective $5.8 million. The NBA recently embarked on a joint venture with CryptoKitties creator Dapper Labs to launch NBA Top Shot — an NBA-themed digital token marketplace that has reportedly generated $230 million in sales since launch.
The “Morons” piece is not the first Banksy to be destroyed on purpose. In 2018, Banksy’s “Girl With Balloon” automatically self-destructed shortly after selling for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s. The artist later revealed that he had installed an automatic shredder in the painting’s frame in case it ever went to auction. In an ironic twist of fate, the destroyed Banksy is now thought to be more valuable than the original piece ever was.
The “Morons” NFT will be auctioned on Rarible on Tuesday next week. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to charity. The successful bidder will be entitled to receive the certificate of authentication from Pest Control; however, this too will be burned if it is not claimed within two weeks of the sale.
In an art industry fraught with fakes and forgeries, “Morons” may now be the most authentic, most secure Banksy piece in the world. Once logged on the blockchain, the possibility of it being forged, altered or manipulated in any way is close to zero.
Given Banksy’s rejection of the bloated, materialistic art world, what would he think of the current mania surrounding NFTs? Keep an eye on your local graffiti spots. The answer may be forthcoming.
How crypto fraud and security breaches are investigated
Cointelegraph By Connor Sephton
It’s every exchange’s worst nightmare: Falling victim to a security breach. An incident can disrupt a trading platform’s operations for weeks, affect customer confidence and damage a carefully cultivated reputation — even causing crypto markets to fall in some cases.
Crypto companies have been ramping up their security measures in recent years, determined to ensure that malicious actors don’t get an opportunity to infiltrate their systems. This has prompted hackers, scammers and fraudsters to rely on more sophisticated techniques.
One crucial weapon has emerged that helps trading platforms take speedy action in the event that their infrastructure is compromised: Analytics software. But how do these companies go about their investigations whenever a breach is reported? What are the tools that can be relied upon to follow a thief’s tracks?
This is a step-by-step guide to investigating crypto fraud, security breaches and ransomware.
Hunting the hackers
Irrespective of whether cryptocurrencies are stolen through fraudulent activities or scams — with ransomware becoming an increasingly popular method for swindling victims — investigation techniques often follow a similar pattern.
The first step is to identify a criminal’s crypto address as soon as possible. This information can then be passed on to analytics software companies, which can immediately tag the address as high risk. Doing this quickly can ensure that the entity is easier to track. There can be times when there’s little information about an address hash, but this doesn’t mean that there’s a dead end. That’s because transaction and date filtering can be used instead.
Next, it’s a race against time to start tracking bad actors who may begin to obfuscate the funds that they have misappropriated. They may start sending transactions to other exchanges or use mixing services and darknet entities. Although this commonly happens immediately after crypto has been taken, it can sometimes take months or years for obfuscation to commence — when a criminal may think no one is looking. Analytics providers can offer transaction alerts to ensure that victims can be immediately notified when funds flow to or from an address.
These transaction alerts need to be acted upon as a matter of urgency, as work begins to follow the trail. A crucial step involves notifying exchanges that might end up receiving some of this crypto to ensure they are able to block stolen funds that flow into their accounts. Visualization tools can play a role in illustrating how misappropriated assets are distributed — and show the addresses that may be directly or indirectly connected to the criminal.
An investigation in action
Crystal Blockchain has shared an example of how investigations work in practice. The analytics software provider recently played an instrumental role in examining the aftermath of a hot wallet security breach that affected Eterbase in September 2020, which Cointelegraph reported on at the time.
Immediately after the theft took place, Eterbase sprang to action by publicly announcing the address that was used by the Bitcoin thief. This enabled Crystal to immediately tag this wallet as a high-risk entity.
Quickly, it became possible to piece together information about this address — including statistics on further transactions and connections. It soon emerged that this suspicious wallet had connections to 16 other addresses.
Through Crystal’s All Connections tool, it was revealed that this address had indeed received funds from Eterbase, as well as other exchanges, which had been sent on to a plethora of unnamed entities.
The company said it was able to look further than a one-hop distance — and include indirect connections in its results. From here, it was established that 80% of the total funds that were stolen had been sent to a mixing service.
Eterbase went live once again on Jan. 15 — with its team asking exchange users to stop using old crypto deposit addresses that belonged to their accounts. In an update at the end of January, the company said that an official investigation is still ongoing — and it stressed that affected users who are eligible for a refund will receive one as soon as possible.
Crystal Blockchain says crypto crime is growing in parallel with the crypto markets. The company recently released a map of security breaches and fraud within the digital assets sector over the past 10 years.
The interactive timeline tracks the number of incidents in every year since 2011, and also provides a total figure for the funds that were stolen. Its data suggests that $1.48 billion was taken across 28 incidents in 2020.
Users who visit this article can also use a spinning globe to find out the total volume of funds that have been stolen in countries around the world — with the hardest-hit nations colored in the darkest shade of red.
According to Crystal, the most common locations for exchange breaches include the U.S., the U.K., South Korea, Japan and China. The largest-ever crypto security breach remains the incident involving the Japanese exchange Coincheck in 2018, overtaking the Mt. Gox incident back in 2014.
Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.
Unibright (UBT) price soars after DeFi staking and enterprise-level partnerships
Cointelegraph By Jordan Finneseth
As Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) gain legitimacy in top financial circles that will eventually help digital currencies go mainstream, projects that offer enterprise-level blockchain solutions are also gaining attention from the corporate sector and investing class.
Sold as one of the next technological breakthroughs that will revolutionize the current digital landscape and usher in a new era of decentralization, businesses and corporations have already shown immense interest in how blockchain technology can be integrated into their operations to help save money and increase efficiency.
One project that has a focus on enterprise-level blockchain solutions is Unibright, which has seen the price of its Unibright Token (UBT) grow more than 350% in 2021, going from $0.39 on Jan. 1 to an all-time high of $1.72 on Feb. 19.
Three reasons for the recent breakout in the price of Unibright Token are the release of Unibright’s enterprise solution Baseledger, big-name partnerships that have proven real-world use, and increasing trading volumes taking place as the result of DeFi integrations and tokens begin to be removed from circulation.
Enterprise-level blockchains need privacy
Unibright was originally developed with the goal of bringing blockchain technology and contracts to the business sector by offering enterprise-level solutions that take into consideration the privacy needs of companies that cannot have all of their operations conducted on a public ledger.
The project is part of Baseline Protocol, an open-source initiative that is designed to connect traditional systems together and notarize data on public mainnets like Ethereum. This is done by combining advances in cryptography and messaging with blockchain in order to deliver secure, private business processes at a low cost.
On Feb. 25, Unibright released a white paper for Baseledger, which is described as offering “a public, council-governed blockchain” that utilizes a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism that “enables low and fixed costs, high and guaranteed performance, data privacy compliance, multi-chain-coordination and off-chain integration by design.”
According to the project’s website, enterprises will use UBT tokens to access blockchain-based business integration products, and workers will be able to stake the token in order to earn rewards for doing work on the network, such as node operation and deployment.
Partnerships point toward growing demand
Unibright’s recent partnerships and integrations have also been a source of optimism, as the project has big-name companies like Coca-Cola now looking to integrate blockchain solutions into their vast supply chains.
On Feb. 23, it was announced that CONA Services signed a partnership with Salesforce for real-time tracking. CONA Services provides IT services for all Coca-Cola suppliers and bottlers and was also revealed to be partnered with Unibright in August 2020 in an effort to develop enterprise blockchain applications that created a “Coca-Cola Bottling Harbor.”
At the most recent earnings call for Coca-Cola, chairman and CEO James Quincey detailed how its bottling investment group helped to further improve operating margin performance.
Integrations with companies like Salesforce and Coca-Cola are a foothold into gaining access to a wider market as more companies learn how blockchain implementation can help in reducing operating costs and improving efficiency.
Record trading volume and DeFi exposure
Trading volume for UBT surged from an average of $3 million per day to more than $18 million on Feb. 19 as its price established a new all-time high when the first teaser about the upcoming release of the Baseledger white paper was announced.
Following the initial surge, trading volume pulled back to a daily average of $5 million, but this is noticeably higher than the prior weeks.
Unibright has also benefited from integrations with popular decentralized exchanges such as Uniswap, and it was most recently added to QuickSwap exchange, a layer-two DEX built on Polygon.
UBT rallied 40% after the QuickSwap listing on Feb. 28, and now that an increasing number of tokens are being removed from circulation and locked into DeFi liquidity pools, investors expect the price to rise higher.
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