KW 03: Bitcoin price hits two-month high, China to test digital currency, Upbit exchange resumes Ether services


Bitcoin price hits two-month high: The price of Bitcoin has increased once again, rallying near $8,200 for over a week beginning January 7th. Bitcoin reached its highest point in nearly two months at around $8,446, according to CoinDesk BPI data. Other notable cryptocurrencies are also up on Bitcoin’s good fortune with Ether and XRP (Ripple) both up 2.95 and 2.16 percent, respectively.

China to test digital currency: China’s central bank is preparing to test a digital currency. Chinese tech companies — counterparts to Amazon and Facebook — took the lead in developing this system. They leapfrogged ahead of their US competitors out of necessity, because China didn’t start out with a well-established payment system built on credit cards. China’s central bank has been working on the digital currency for the last six years, but the effort shifted into overdrive last summer after Facebook unveiled plans for its own electronic form of money, called Libra.

Austria relies on the blockchain: Austria’s newly formed coalition government wants to develop a plan for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Among other things, the government’s new program provides for a position on the „application and regulation of blockchain technology and its various applications“ as well as „building on Austria’s existing centers of excellence in the field of blockchain“. Austria’s blockchain program is similar to that of the German federal government, which was decided in September 2019.

Upbit exchange resumes Ether services: South Korea-based Upbit has restarted Ether wallet services nearly two months after hackers made off with $49 million of the cryptocurrency. Following an upgrade to its wallet security system, the platform is once more able to support ETH deposits and withdrawals. In November, Upbit had confirmed an abnormal transaction had resulted in the exchange losing more than 342,000 ETH from its hot wallet, which at the time was worth approximately $49 million.

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Out of a circulating supply of 63 million Litecoins (LTC), about 40 million have been dormant for over a year.


Smart contracts replace middlemen in contracts: Smart contracts automatically implement certain conditions using blockchain technology. One of the most common platforms that smart contracts can use is Ethereum. The technology is useful wherever middlemen are still needed today to conclude contracts, for example in a financial transaction. But applications in real estate sales, where signing contracts are much more complicated and lengthy, are also conceivable. In this case, the role of the notary would be eliminated. At the same time, smart contracts are secure in that they are made unchangeable by the blockchain. However, it must be ensured that the smart contract itself is correctly programmed.

Cryptocurrencies are becoming more reputable: Politicians are recognizing the advance of cryptocurrencies and beginning to try to influence development with regulations and their own projects. The European Central Bank also set up its own crypto task force. German politician Thomas Heilmann believes that with regard to projects like Facebook’s Libra, politics has no choice but to deal with cryptocurrencies. A public e-euro makes more sense than a private stablecoin. This development makes the cryptocurrencies more serious, moving away from the idea of being uncontrollable and „anarchistic“. This change is positive for many investors, as dubious and fraudulent projects disappear through regulation. However, whether Bitcoin is promising remains questionable. Experts believe that its decentralized aspect is disadvantageous. In contrast to Libra, there is no overarching authority that could further develop the technology.


„If the ECB released a crypto euro, it would have much more control and insight into all transactions and where money is located.“
Eric Demuth, one of the founders of Bitpanda, Europe’s largest trade platform for cryptocurrencies, talks about state cryptocurrencies and the possible end of cash.


Real estate deal using blockchain: The Swiss-based blockchain company Brickchain has carried out the largest real estate transaction based on blockchain, according to its own statements. The company bought a house in Zurich for more than 130 million francs (about 119 million euros). About 20 percent of the sales price is to be paid in „Brickmark tokens“. These are based on ETH technology and use smart contracts.

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