Cryptocurrency news roundup, March 4, 2018

This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments.

New developments:

Bitcoin SegWit transactions are hitting all-time highs

Segregated Witness (SegWit) was introduced to the Bitcoin network in August last year, through BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) 141 as a way to improve the network’s efficiency, so as to bring down high transaction fees and slow confirmation times. The technology allows for further upgrades such as Lightning Channels, which are set to further improve the network’s efficiency. While adoption has been somewhat low so far, recently various cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase adopted the technology.

Moreover, the Bitcoin Core wallet released its 0.16.0 version, which implemented the upgrade. According to available data, this increase in adoption helped SegWit transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain hit new highs. SegWit usage levels are now at roughly 30%.

Cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex was acquired by payments company Circle

US-based cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex was recently acquired by payments company Circle, according to a released statement. In the statement, Poloniex recognizes that its tremendous growth was costly to users, as its platform experienced scalability problems. Poloniex’s team added that it looks forward to bringing Circle’s experience to improve its platform. Rumors about the acquisition had been circulating for weeks, and Fortune reports Circle paid $400 million.

Circle, commenting on the deal, revealed that it plans to build Poloniex beyond an exchange for crypto assets. The company’s co-founders wrote:

  • “We envision a robust multi-sided distributed marketplace that can host tokens which represent everything of value: physical goods, fundraising and equity, real estate, creative productions such as works of art, music and literature, service leases and time-based rentals, credit, futures, and more.”

Coinbase informed 13,000 users their data was going to be sent to the IRS

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase recently sent an official notice to roughly 13,000 users whose information it is legally required to hand over to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Coinbase has been embroiled in a legal battle with the IRS since November 2016, when the government filed a “Jon Doe summons” in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Initially the IRS was asking for detailed information on over 500,000 users, in an attempt to catch those evading taxes through cryptocurrencies.

A court order later on reduced the number of affected users to those “high-transacting”, meaning roughly 13,000. Coinbase will, as such, send the IRS these customers’ taxpayer IDs, names, birth dates, addresses, and historical transaction records from 2013-2015. The information will be sent within 21 days, and the users are encouraged to “seek legal advice from an attorney promptly.” At the time, the cryptocurrency exchange called this reduction a “partial, but still significant, victory for Coinbase and its users.”

Alleged Bitcoin creator Craig Wright sued for $10 billion

Craig Wright, chief scientist at nChain, who’s in the past claimed to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, is being sued for $10 billion. The lawsuit was filed by Ira Kleiman in behalf of the estate of his brother Dave Kleinman, who’s been linked to Bitcoin’s earliest days. Dave passed away in 2013 after battling with MRSA. At the heart of the lawsuit are 1.1 million BTC, which Ira’s lawyers claim are worth over $10 billion. Kleinman is being represented by Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, a well-known firm that’s been involved in other high-profile cases.

Craig Wright, according to the lawsuit, is being accused of running a “scheme against Dave’s estate to seize Dave’s Bitcoins and his rights to certain intellectual property associated with the Bitcoin technology.” In addition to the 1.1 million Bitcoins, Kleinman is also seeking compensation for the intellectual property that his lawyers claim arose form a partnership between Wright and Dave Kleinman. Court documents read:

  • “As part of this plan, Craig forged a series of contracts that purported to transfer Dave’s assets to Craig and/or companies controlled by him. Craig backdated these contracts and forged Dave’s signature on them.”

World affairs:

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro claims the Petro received over 171,000 purchase orders

Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro recently stated that the government has received over 171,000 purchase orders for its oil-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro (PTR). Via Twitter, he stated that most of these were in US dollars, with Bitcoin and Ethereum orders also being prevalent. Maduro had in the past stated that the Petro token sale netted the country $175 million in the first day. However, a look at the NEM ledger shows that the Venezuelan government still holds all 100 million Petros.

https://twitter.com/PresidencialVen/status/968281803990683654/photo/1

Last week, Maduro also announced he would launch a new cryptocurrency backed by precious metals, the Petro Gold.

Liberland to issue its own cryptocurrency

Self-proclaimed country Liberland is set to issue its own cryptocurrency on April 13, which will mark the country’s third anniversary. Initially, the country planned to have Bitcoin as its own currency and have no mandatory taxes or gun control. Although nearly half a million citizens have already signed up to be a part of Liberland, the country is currently struggling as it was supposed to be located near Croatia and Servia. The Croatian government however warned it didn’t want a libertarian state with gun-wielding residents next door, so it has so far arrested 100 people who attempted to enter the 2.5 miles that would belong to Liberland.

Financial:

Bitcoin recovers to $11,451 while regaining part of the cryptocurrency market share

Bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, is currently closing in on the $200 billion market cap, as one Bitcoin is now trading for $11,451. Per data from CoinMarketCap, the cryptocurrency is currently up by 4.72 percent in the last 24-hour period, and its dominance is currently at 41.7 percent.