2018 in review: A year of regulatory shake-ups, investor wake-ups, and stablecoin take-ups

Bitcoin $3,940                    Ethereum $136.69 
Crypto Mkt Cap $133B              BTC Dominance 51.80%  

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“2018 marked the end of free money. People were trading assets out of thin air. 2018 was the end of that. It was the perfect transition year. It was ‘an evil serving the greater good’ and I think it will be extremely positive for smart contract platforms…in the long-term” — Robert Leshner, Founder Compound Finance

The Big Block

Let’s admit it – crypto 2018 has been nothing short of a Hollywood drama. It had it all – the rising stars from humble roots (Possibly the entire crypto lawyer community), the antiheroes getting unmasked (Did someone say Bitconnect?), and of course, the budget to match (Note the $1bn crypto hedge funds). It even had its own version of a blockbuster flop, with a $706 billion downturn.

Admittedly, Hollywood tends to provide more climactic finishes, but this isn’t the end for crypto; quite the contrary. So what do this year’s nerve-jolting prices, scam-coverage, and twitter rants boil down to?

Over the last five years, with the exception of China, the world watched in mixed merriment and astonishment as crypto fanatics traded their unusually volatile digital assets. After all, what was the use of serious guidelines in a short-lived micro-sphere where self-governance was the name of the game? 

But in 2018, the likes of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) got serious, perhaps deciding that crypto was not a quirk but a fundamentally new way of playing that even major institutions were considering. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton’s comments in February signaled the end of the governments’ deliberation period around token sales, telling a Senate hearing, “I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security.”

Read More on The Block (5 Minutes)

Around The Block

$3.3m EUR gone? When escrow services go wrong

This case involves a dispute over the use of escrowed funds to purchase bitcoin. It also shows the peril of sending money for bitcoin to an escrow agent who doesn’t actually hold the crypto.

Here’s the gist: Plaintiff (“Symphony”) says that it wired $4 million to defendant to buy bitcoin and instead bought bitcoin for itself. Defendant (“Thompson”) says the money was stolen by the seller’s escrow agent. Plaintiff filed a lawsuit and sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction seeking an asset freeze. The Court said no.

The Plaintiff is an Irish company that, among other things, engages in cryptocurrency trading. Thompson owns a company called Volantis Escrow (“Volantis”) that allegedly “focuses on bitcoin escrow services.” — More

Researchers demo crypto hardware wallet vulnerabilities at tech conference

At the 35th annual Chaos Communication Congress conference, a group of security researchers demonstrated their "WALLET.FAIL" hacking project, exploiting major crypto hardware wallets including Trezor and Ledger wallets. — More

Trader Jeremy Spence sued for alleged Ponzi scheme — More

Italy has formed a group of 30 blockchain experts to come up with a crypto strategy for the country — More

The Federal Reserve drops Fedcoin idea — More

Paperless nation: Estonia builds a digital society — More

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