Analyzing bitcoin merchant adoption | As the SEC clamps downs on ICOs, one hedge fund is trying to decentralize its token | North Korean hackers are now targeting individual cryptocurrency users

Bitcoin $4,246                    Ethereum $117.97 
Crypto Mkt Cap $137B              BTC Dominance 53.90%  

“If you think the crypto markets have been painful this quarter, wait until you see the ICO market fully unwind, and many projects begin to refund investors in 2019.” — Ryan Selkis, Founder Messari

The Big Block

The idea of bitcoin as “the new global currency” has long been losing prominence as the primary narrative around the digital currency. These days, you’re more likely to hear about bitcoin as “censorship resistant gold” rather than as a means of payment. The value of bitcoin payments handled by major processors fell to $96 million in September from a December 2017 high of $427 million, according to the data compiled by Chainalysis. As the blocks filled in December and January, fees to transact in bitcoin increased rapidly. As a result, for some time bitcoin became impractical for payments. By January, Stripe announced that it was ending support for bitcoin payments, citing high fees and long transaction times. With the emergence of Lightning Network as a payment protocol for bitcoin, however, its use in commerce could increase again.

The Block used the data from, which compiles all the ATMs, brick-and-mortar stores, services, restaurants and other venues accepting bitcoin. There are currently more than 13,000 bitcoin accepting venues worldwide. Out of the ones that were tagged with categories (roughly half of the total), the largest share of all venues is general shopping (35.1%) followed by ATMs (13.5%), and lodging (9.7%).

Read More on The Block (3 Minutes)

Around The Block

As the SEC clamps downs on ICOs, one hedge fund is trying to decentralize its token

AI-run hedge fund Numerai is driving forward plans to decentralize its cryptocurrency.

Since 2015, Numerai has crowdsourced investment data on which an artificial intellgience makes trades. The company sources trading investment tips, models, stock predictions, and trading algorithms from contributors and data scientists using its platform. Numerai then builds financial models that incorporate these sources — executing trades based on these models. While Numerai initially rewarded contributors with bitcoin, it introduced its own token, Numeraire, in 2017. — More

North Korean hackers are now targeting individual cryptocurrency users

Due to ongoing international sanctions imposed on the country, North Korea has been exploring new avenues of income. Cryptocurrency has come to be seen as a good opportunity for the country, with North Korean hackers stealing an estimated $517M in cryptocurrencies in 2017. While North Korean hackers have traditionally targeted cryptocurrency exchanges and businesses, they are increasingly ramping up their efforts against individual users. — More

AriseBank CEO indicted over $4M crypto fraud — More

Coinbase to list privacy coin Zcash (ZEC) — More

Kaspersky: Crypto-mining malware on the rise, with many unaware — More

Fidelity is looking to expand trading services for cryptocurrencies beyond bitcoin and ether — More

Coinbase, Digital Currency Group back crypto-analytics startup in $4.5M round — More

Singapore-based Huobi launches its crypto derivatives marketplace — More

SpankChain team down 60% from peak as firm tries to reduce burn — More

The Block wants to understand who our readers are. Please take a few minutes to respond to our short survey. Your participation will give us a better understanding of our readers and what interests them! Please note that the survey results will be anonymized and aggregated. Please take the survey here.