$8.7 Trillion Asset Manager BlackRock Is Exploring Bitcoin As Institutions Flood Crypto

Glowing dark background with bitcoin symbol.

Rick Rieder, BlackRock’s chief investment officer of global fixed income, told CNBC Wednesday that the investment giant has “started to dabble” in bitcoin—it’s the latest instance of a major financial player dipping its toes into digital assets.

Reider did not elaborate on BlackRock’s cryptocurrency strategy, but last month the investment giant filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission showing that it wants to include cash-settled Bitcoin futures as eligible investments for two of its funds.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager—it managed some $8.7 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter.

Rieder told CNBC that he believes bitcoin’s recent rally is gaining momentum in part because of stronger regulations and better technology.

“My sense is the technology has evolved and the regulation has evolved to the point where a number of people find it should be part of the portfolio, so that’s what’s driving the price up,” he said.

Big Number

$51,000. That’s the new record price bitcoin hit early on Wednesday morning. The most popular cryptocurrency started the year with prices around $30,000.

Key Background

A spate of major corporations and financial institutions including MicroStrategy, BNY Mellon, and MasterCard,and PayPal have announced cryptocurrency initiatives this month, and there are reports that a $150 billion investment division at Morgan Stanley is considering investing in bitcoin. A portion of bitcoin’s recent gains are likely attributable to a surprise announcement from Tesla that the electric car maker had invested $1.5 billion into the cryptocurrency and has plans to start accepting it as payment.

Further Reading

BlackRock’s Rick Rieder says the world’s largest asset manager has ‘started to dabble’ in bitcoin (CNBC)

Not Just Tesla: Big Institutions Keep Piling Into Bitcoin As Price Rockets Past $50,000 (Forbes)

Bitcoin Soars To New High After Tesla Says It Invested $1.5 Billion (Forbes)

BlackRock Files To Add Bitcoin Futures To Funds (Forbes)

By: Sarah HansenSarah Hansen

 

 

Source: $8.7 Trillion Asset Manager BlackRock Is Exploring Bitcoin As Institutions Flood Crypto

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Bitcoin surges to hit NEW all-time high on Christmas day as BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, looking to cryptocurrency in 2021! Altcoin Daily, the best cryptocurrency news media online! Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AltcoinDailyio Follow me [Austin] on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/theaustinar… TimeStamps: 00:00 Intro 00:17 Bitcoin and BlackRock 05:39 NEW SEC Chairman Appointed! 07:14 XRP Delistings 09:38 1inch vs Uniswap vs Sushi 11:31 Final Thoughts
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Europeans Are the Most Interested in the Bitcoin Halving, According to Google Data

  • The Netherlands leads the world when it comes to search interest for the term ‘Bitcoin halving’

The Bitcoin block halving is happening in just one week, and Google data shows that searches for the term ‘Bitcoin halving’ are surging in general. This data can also be broken down by country, and it reveals where people are most interested in the Bitcoin halving.

Specifically, Google gives countries rankings from 1 to 100 for interest in a certain search term such as Bitcoin halving, with a rank of 100 meaning that country has the most searches for Bitcoin halving relative to total searches.

Netherlands leads the world with a ranking of 100, followed by Cyprus, Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria, and Latvia, all of which are European nations. Notably, the United States is well behind most European nations with a ranking of just 39.

Thus, this data from Google suggests that the Bitcoin halving is garnering the most interest in Europe.

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Source: Europeans Are the Most Interested in the Bitcoin Halving, According to Google Data – BitcoinNews.com

The Bitcoin ( BTC ) block subsidy halving is all anyone can talk about this week — but according to Google, it’s Europe that is most obsessed. Data from Google Trends shows that when it comes to searching “bitcoin halving,” western and central Europe is leading the way. As Cointelegraph reported , search interest can often translate into adoption through channels such as major exchanges. Purchasing volumes have increased conspicuously since mid-March. As of press time on May 5, these five countries generated the most requests regarding the largest cryptocurrency’s most important coming of age.

Here’s Where $800 Of Bitcoin Buys You $10,000 Cash

Researchers from cloud security-as-a-service provider Armor’s Threat Resistance Unit (TRU) have been taking a deep dive into a dozen dark markets and forums. Analysis of the data compiled from trawling these English and Russian-speaking criminal marketplaces has been published in the annual Armor Black Market Report. As well as the usual tracking of the prices for stolen credit cards, bank account credentials and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) for-hire operators, there was one surprising new trend: a Bitcoin to cash conversion scheme that offers criminal buyers the opportunity to buy cash for pennies on the dollar. Paying $800 (£647) in Bitcoin gets you $10,000 (£8,095) in cash.

The Black Market Report

The Armor Black Market Report is the result of researchers from the Armor TRU trawling through underground internet markets and criminal forums. These “dark markets” are notorious for selling just about anything that can be stolen online, from personal and financial data to illicit services such as articles of incorporation for creating shell companies, the distribution malicious spam and even hackers for hire who will scrub your credit history.

The TRU research team analyzed and compiled data from twelve dark markets and criminal forums visited between February and June 2019. It came as no surprise to me that they found cybercriminal after cybercriminal selling credentials for as yet “unhacked” Windows remote desktop (RDP) servers. These are often used by ransomware actors looking for an entry point into corporate networks. That these credentials were being sold for as little as $20 (£16) was unexpected though. The cost of entry, quite literally, to the ransomware threat sector has never been cheaper.

Today In: Innovation

Neither, for that matter, has the cost of cold, hard cash. The TRU researchers found that, partly to get noticed in a crowded market and partly to offset the risk of monetizing stolen banking and credit card accounts, entrepreneurial threat actors are selling cash for between 10 and 12 cents on the dollar. This isn’t, as you might have guessed, a case of criminal philanthropy.

Instead, it’s a method for criminals to offload the risk of monetizing stolen account credentials by transferring the funds available rather than taking possession of them. It’s still money laundering, and it’s illegal, but it puts the most significant weight of risk onto the buyer.

Here’s how the buy cash for Bitcoin scheme works

The seller offers bundles of cash in various amounts, from $2,500 (£2,020) to $10,000 (£8,095) in exchange for a pre-paid fee in Bitcoin. That fee varies between 10% and 12%. Which means that $10,000 of cold cash can be bought for $800 in Bitcoin.

The buyer makes the payment and then chooses how they would like to collect the cash. This can be a straightforward transfer of funds to a bank or PayPal account or wired via Western Union. As well as getting a significant return on their illicit investment, the purchaser no longer has to worry about monetizing online bank account or credit card credentials. It’s a turn-key service; there’s no risky logging into compromised accounts, no money mules to worry about, just the (totally illegal) collection of cash.

“For those scammers who don’t possess the technical skills and a robust money mule network to monetize online bank account or credit card credentials, this is an offer that can be very attractive,” Chris Hinkley, head of Armor’s TRU team said, “the threat actors are still selling financial account and credit card credentials outright, but this clever service gives them an additional channel for monetizing the large amounts of financial data available on the underground.”

Money mules served well by dark market documentation

One of the other interesting things to come out of this analysis was the fact that cybercriminals are selling articles of incorporation and sole proprietorship papers on the dark market. Not shocking, but interesting. While the cash for Bitcoin transactions gets rid of the money mule requirement, there are still plenty of people who adopt that role, and these papers are aimed at them. A money mule is someone who transfers stolen money between accounts in exchange for a fee of between 10% and 20% of the value. For a money mule to be successful, they need to open business bank accounts that don’t trigger fraud alerts on larger transfer volumes. To open these accounts, they need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) assigned by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and that’s where the documentation to create shell companies enters the equation. The documentation does not come cheap, however. Sole proprietorship papers complete with EIN were found on sale for $1,611 (£1,298), and Articles of Incorporation with EIN were $811 (£653).

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I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share

Source: Here’s Where $800 Of Bitcoin Buys You $10,000 Cash

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The Large Bitcoin Collider Is Generating Trillions of Keys and Breaking Into Wallets – VICE

Since we first published this article, major security flaws in the Large Bitcoin Collider client have come to light. Check out our follow-up reporting on these issues here.

For nearly a year, a group of cryptography enthusiasts has been pooling their resources on a quixotic quest to brute-force crack one of bitcoin’s cryptographic algorithms for creating wallet addresses. This is thought to be impossible today, but if they succeed, at least one element of bitcoin’s cryptography will be instantly obsolete.

It’s probably due to the scope of the challenge that the project is called the Large Bitcoin Collider, after the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. But instead of new physics, the Large Bitcoin Collider is hunting cryptographic collisions—essentially proving that a supposedly unique and random string of numbers can be duplicated. More on collisions and their ramifications for bitcoin later, but along the way the LBC is using its computing power to try and bust open bitcoin wallets owned by other people, and potentially taking the coins inside.

Read More: The Great Physical Bitcoin Robbery

The basics are this: bitcoin addresses containing funds can be accessed by private keys, which are generated at the same time as the address. Technically, a number of private keys could work with any given address, but you’d need a huge amount of computing power to brute force your way through enough possibilities to find any of them. The LBC attempts to accomplish this by recruiting the computing power of anyone who’s willing to download and run their software.

Finding a private key that works with an existing wallet is a fast-and-loose version of “cracking,” and gives the attacker access to all the funds inside. But when someone in the LBC pool finds a working private key, do they get to keep the coins?

“In principle yes, although there is a process defined where—if someone appears with an alternate key—the pool members consider him the owner of the address,” “Rico,” the pseudonymous lead of LBC, told me in an email. He would only tell me that he’s a computer programmer “past his 40s,” who lives in Europe.

As for the legality of all this, LBC advises participants with a rather laissez-faire attitude.

“Depending on your jurisdiction, this may be considered theft and is therefore illegal,” the site’s FAQ states. “However, there are many jusrisdictions [sic] where you could perfectly legally claim 5-10% of the value found. So you should consider if you want 100% and become a criminal or if you get 10% and still be a law abiding citizen.”

The LBC has been working for just under a year. So far, Rico claims, the project has generated over 3,000 trillion private keys and checked them against existing bitcoin addresses to see if they work, and has found three that do and contain bitcoin. They’ve found over 30 private keys in total, some of which are for so-called “puzzle” addresses that are suspected to have been generated as easy bait for crackers.

“This project has been called many things: Impossible, illegal, pointless, cool, etc.”

Cracking wallets may seem malicious on the surface—and if an LBC participant knowingly steals funds, it might just be—but it also has research value. Bitcoin security researcher Ryan Castellucci has done work cracking wallets as a proof-of-concept in order to model attacker behaviour and defend against it.

“The thing that disappoints me about this is that they’re only checking addresses that have a balance instead of all addresses that have ever been used,” he said in an interview over the phone. “For research, it’s much more interesting to check all addresses that have ever been used, because that will show you if there’ve been weak addresses created in the past and if they’ve been cleaned out by attackers.”

But cracking wallets is just one part of the LBC’s mission. The other is to find a genuine cryptographic collision, which would mean it’s possible to generate inputs that, when put through the bitcoin address hashing algorithm, generate an identical pair. If it were ever to happen, bitcoin would have to use a new cryptographic algorithm for addresses. This would be similar to Google creating a collision with the once-popular SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm, which ended its usefulness for good.

Read More: I Broke Bitcoin

“Finding a P2PKH-collision [one cryptographic method of creating bitcoin addresses] would probably mean the end of P2PKH but not bitcoin,” Rico explained, regarding the ramifications of finding a collision. “Bitcoin would evolve with new address types. Most certainly it wouldn’t ‘die’ because of this.”

Castellucci also urged caution when it comes to getting all riled up about the LBC’s search for a cryptographic collision in bitcoin.

“To effectively find [a collision], you would have to find some way to generate [keys] much, much faster than is currently known to be possible,” he said. “Unless they find some sort of breakthrough in cracking techniques, the brute force strategy they’re using poses no threat to anybody’s bitcoin.”

“Someone could play the lottery three weeks in a row and win every time,” he explained. “That theoretically could happen, but it’s safe to assume it won’t.” Castellucci isn’t alone in this belief. Others, on the /r/bitcoin subreddit for example, have been much less kind and called the LBC “pointless.” But that hasn’t deterred Rico.

“Since it’s inception [around] 8 months ago, this project has been called many things: Impossible, illegal, pointless, cool, etc.,” Rico wrote.

“I think there is more waiting to be uncovered by the LBC—including a collision,” he continued. “So with that in mind we really do not care much about what ‘someone on Reddit’ said.”

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Source: The Large Bitcoin Collider Is Generating Trillions of Keys and Breaking Into Wallets – VICE

You Can Now Buy Crypto With Visa and Mastercard via Binance App for Android – Siamak Masnavi

On Thursday (April 25), Binance announced that its mobile app for Android now lets you buy with Mastercard or Visa some of the most popular cryptocurrencies that are listed on Binance.com.

According to Binance, this support for cryptocurrency purchases via debit/credit cards, which is possible as a result of the partnership with Fintech startup Simplex that was announced on January 31, is available in version 1.5.8.0 or higher of the “Binance – Cryptocurrency Exchange” app for Android.

Since January 31, it is has been possible to buy on the main Binance website (Binance.com) Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCHABC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and XRP using debit/credit cards (Mastercard and Visa). Then, on March 12, it became possible to do the same on Trust Wallet (Binance’s official non-custodial wallet app). And now, the Binance app for Android joins the party by offering the same feature.

Here is what you need to do to buy crypto via debit/credit cards on the Binance app for Android:

  • Tap on the “Credit Card” button, which is the last button on the toolbar you see in the middle of the “Home” screen. This takes you to the “Buy Bitcoin” screen.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 1 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • On the “Buy Bitcoin” screen, you can choose from a dropdown list the cryptocurrency you want to buy (BTC, XRP, ETH, LTC, or BCHABC), specify the quantity of a particular cryptocurrency that you want to buy, and choose the fiat currency (USD or EUR) you want to pay with.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 2 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • You will then be shown the total amount (including the fee) that you will get charged if you go ahead with the purchase.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 3 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • Once you tap on the “Buy Now” button on this screen, you will be shown a “Confirm Your Order” screen.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 5 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • If you then tap on the “Accept, go to payment” button on the confirmation screen, you will be taken to the checkout screen on Simplex.com, where you will be asked to enter into a form your personal details (email, phone number, date of birth) and your card details.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 6 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

Source: CryptoGlobe

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