Crypto News Headlines (05-April-2022)

German authorities seized $25 million in bitcoin (BTC) as they shut down Hydra Market, saying they had closed one of the world’s largest darknet markets.

The cybercrime office of the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office and federal criminal police confiscated 543 BTC as they “secured” the site’s servers, according to a federal police statement on Tuesday.

Federal police found 17 million customers and 19,000 seller accounts. Hydra Market probably had the highest turnover among illegal marketplaces in the world, according to the statement. In 2020, the marketplace had €1.23 billion ($1.35 billion) in revenue, the police said.

The Russian-language marketplace also had a built-in bitcoin privacy mixer, which complicated tracing the transactions, said the police statement.

Hydra Market had been operating since 2015 and was accessible via the Tor browser. The site has been taken off the internet.

The market was mainly used for narcotics, and served Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Moldova, according to blockchain forensics firm Ciphertrace.

The investigation started in August 2021 and also involved U.S. authorities, the police said.

During the last six months, approximately 244 Casascius physical bitcoins were redeemed for their digital value. The Casascius physical bitcoin collection created by Mike Caldwell is one of the most popular physical BTC collections. The rare coins are often sold for more than the digital face value and today, there are 19,676 physical coins left unredeemed or active, according to stats.

Each physical bitcoin has a different fraction of digital BTC, as some coins carry .5 in BTC value while some hold a single BTC. Caldwell also made gold bars with bitcoins loaded onto them like the popular 100 BTC gold bar. There are Casascius physical bitcoins that hold 25 BTC and even units that carry 500 to 1,000 BTC. For instance, on March 30, 2022, an “S1-COIN-25” that’s worth 25 BTC was peeled and redeemed for the digital value of $1.14 million.

Close to 250 Casascius Physical Bitcoins Were Redeemed in 6 Months, $1.9B in BTC Remain Active

The S1-COIN-25 also held 25 bitcoin cash (BCH) and 25 bitcoinsv (BSV), but those crypto assets have not been spent by the Casascius physical bitcoin owner. Five days prior, an “S2-COIN-5” was peeled and redeemed for 5 BTC or $230K. That Casascius physical bitcoin owner also saved the 5 BCH and the 5 BSV, as it has not been spent. While there are 19,676 physical coins from the Casascius collection left active, 8,262 have been redeemed so far.

Pierre Poilievre, a front-runner to lead Canada’s opposition Conservative party, bought a shwarma sandwich on the campaign trail last week—and paid for it with Bitcoin.

The move was part of a larger push by Poilievre, who is running to challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party in the next election, to brand himself as a pro-crypto populist.

“Give people back control of their money. Keep crypto legal and let it thrive,” said Poilievre on Twitter, where he also promised to help Canadians “take back control of your money from politicians and bankers.”

He has also urged people to vote for him in order to “make Canada the blockchain capital of the world.”

Poiliviere has offered few specifics on how exactly he would make the country a “blockchain capital.” For now, his goal may be to tap into the surge of interest in crypto among right-wing circles following the occupation of Canada’s capital by truckers protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates earlier this year.

As the Globe & Mail noted, Poiliviere has long directed fiery rhetoric at Canada’s central bank, blasting it for inflationary policies he claims are debasing the country’s money supply—rhetoric often espoused by Bitcoin proponents and many libertarians.

Digihost (DGHI) became the first publicly traded miner to offer shareholders the option to get dividend payments in bitcoin (BTC), starting from the third quarter of this year.

The company’s first dividend will be 10% of its net income during the third quarter of 2022. Shareholders will have the option to get paid in either bitcoin or cash, the miner said in a statement on Monday.

Rest of Digihost’s net income will be reinvested into the business requirements and opportunities.

“The Board of Directors of Digihost is pleased to announce our decision to become the first public company in the crypto mining space to implement a dividend policy payable in BTC to its shareholders,” said CEO and chairman Michel Amar in the statement.

The decision comes as publicly traded miners are looking to diversify their business model to create additional shareholder value, rather than just holding onto their bitcoins in their balance sheet.

For 2022, the company said it expects an average hashrate of 1.5 exahash pre second (EH/s), which is about a 5.5 times increase compared to its 2021 average hashrate. Currently, the miner’s hashrate is 1 EH/s and it mines 4.25 bitcoins per day.

The miner also said it mined 186.8 bitcoin in the first quarter, an increase of about 78% from the same time period last year.

At the time of writing, Digihost shares were up over 5% in early trading. Its shares have fallen about 27% this year, while bitcoin fell 3.6%.

The popular memecoin – Shiba Inu (SHIB) – has been added to Bitcoin of America – a US-based ATM chain that has over 1,800 machines spread across more than 31 states.

According to the official release, the reason behind the move is because Bitcoin of America

“…recognized the growing popularity of Shiba Inu and decided it was time to include it in their BTMs. Bitcoin of America also offers Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.”

It’s also worth noting that back in March, the company added support for another popular memecoin – Dogecoin (DOGE). At the time, the price of the cryptocurrency skyrocketed some 12% in a day.

At the time of this writing, SHIB is trading flat for the past 24 hours.

Bitcoin of America is a relatively well-known digital currency exchange, and it’s important to note that it is registered as a money services business with the United States Department of Treasury.

The Economic and Finance Ministry of the United Kingdom has stated that it aims to change its present regulatory framework to accommodate stablecoins to be utilized as a means of payment.

HM Treasury announced Monday that certain stablecoins could potentially become “a widespread means of payment” for retail clients in the United Kingdom following a consultation with various organizations, universities, and individuals conducted beginning in January 2021.

The UK government stated that it would “take the necessary legislative steps” to incorporate stablecoins into its regulatory framework, “primarily through amendments to existing electronic money and payments legislation.”

The finance ministry stated that modifying its legislative framework to incorporate stablecoins as a payment method is simply one element of a “package of measures” to integrate crypto assets and blockchain technology into the United Kingdom.

E-commerce platform Shopify Inc has been named in a class-action lawsuit for allegedly failing to safeguard consumer information in a 2020 data breach impacting Ledger cryptocurrency wallets.

What Happened: According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Delaware on April 1, plaintiffs are seeking damages against Shopify and its third-party consultant TaskUs for its negligence in the data breach.

The lawsuit alleges that Shopify and TaskUs’s “failure to exercise reasonable care” resulted in the unauthorized public release of approximately 272,000 pieces of customer information, including names, postal addresses, and phone numbers.

Hackers used internal tools from Mailchimp to target customers from a total of 102 users, including hardware cryptocurrency wallet Trezor, reported The Verge. Trezor users over the weekend received emails claiming that their accounts were compromised in a data breach. The email included a purported link to an updated version of Trezor Suite, along with instructions to set up a new pin — though in actuality it was a phishing site meant to capture the contents of their digital wallets.

In a tweet on Sunday, Trezor confirmed that the emails were a part of a sophisticated phishing campaign by a malicious actor that targeted MailChimp’s newsletter database. “The Mailchimp security team disclosed that a malicious actor accessed an internal tool used by customer-facing teams for customer support and account administration,” Trezor wrote in a blog post. “The bad actor gained access to this tool as a result of a successful social engineering attack on Mailchimp employees.”

In other words, the hackers managed to trick employees in MailChimp’s customer support team into handing over their log-in credentials, then used the company’s own internal tools to send the emails. The Trezor attack specifically was planned to a “high level of detail”, according to the company’s blog post. Still, in order for the attack to be successful, Trezor users had to download the fake app and submit their wallet credentials. It’s unlikely many made it that far, as Trezor points out in its post, considering that most operating systems would have notified the user that they were downloading software from an unknown source.

The Singapore parliament passed a law on Tuesday that will require crypto businesses based in the city-state but only doing business overseas to be licensed, according to Bloomberg.

At the moment, Singapore’s crypto entities are not regulated for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism and thus the move is aimed at tightening rules for cryptocurrency providers.

Singapore is walking a tightrope of both welcoming Web 3 companies while issuing guidelines to limit crypto ads in public spaces and media.

The new rule is part of the Financial Services and Markets Bill. This bill includes the imposition of a higher maximum penalty of S$1 million ($737,050) on financial institutions if they experience cyberattacks or their services are disrupted.

The bill gives greater powers to the Monetary Authority of Singapore to prohibit individuals who are deemed unfit from performing key roles, activities and functions in the financial industry. These will now include individuals providing payment services and conducting risk management.

Intel today launched its “Intel Blockscale ASIC,” a second-generation Bitcoin mining chip announced in February.

The chip features a 580 GH/s (gigahashes per second) hash rate, while consuming just 26 J/TH (joules per terahash), making it much more efficient. Hash rate measures how quickly a miner can generate answers to Bitcoin’s next block, while joules per terahash measure how much energy is consumed to produce every terahash. A terahash is 1 trillion hashes.

For comparison, Bitmain’s Antminer S19 Pro+ Hyd delivers a hash rate of 198 TH/s while consuming 27.5 J/TH, and MicroBT’s Whatsminer M30S++’s related specs are 112 TH/s at 31 J/TH.

As Intel explains on its site, the chip was built with a focus on energy sustainability in the context of ESG (environmental, social, governance) concerns that continue to plague the industry. For example, Ripple’s co-founder is now backing a campaign to end Bitcoin mining entirely, which cumulatively consumes more energy than Norway.

These energy-related fears are even influencing policymakers. Last month, the European Union tabled a “de facto” ban on Bitcoin mining as part of a crypto regulation package. Granted, lawmakers rejected the version of the bill that included mention of a proof-of-work ban in a 32-23 vote.