Bittrex CEO Joins StormX Board After Undisclosed Investment

Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara will expand his role at cashback rewards platform StormX from investor to board member.

Bill Shihara, founder and CEO of Bittrex crypto exchange, is joining the Board of Directors for Seattle-based blockchain startup StormX.

According to an announcement from StormX, the addition of Shihara to the board comes after the CEO invested “an undisclosed sum” in the company’s latest equity round. However, Shihara was already an angel investor for the startup — originally founded in 2015 as Bitmaker — and reportedly acted as one of its ICO advisors.

StormX CEO Simon Yu cited Shihara’s experience with Bittrex as one reason to be optimistic. Yu said the Bittrex CEO’s “strategic advice and connections” could help fuel growth at the blockchain company in the years ahead.

Crypto cashback rewards

StormX’s StormShop service gives users crypto rewards when they buy from over 500 partner stores, including eBay, Microsoft, Walmart, Target, Samsung, and GameStop. After making a purchase, users have the option of getting cryptocurrency back in the form of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) or Dai (DAI).

According to StormX, those who choose to make purchases with the platform’s native token STMX — which they can earn by doing jobs through StormX’s microtasks platform — get “additional perks” including “up to 87.5%” crypto cashback.

The company said that nearly 200,000 people have signed up since March, when StormX began offering new services for iOS and Android users. STMX has a market capitalization of $13.2 million and is priced at $0.0019, a nearly 50% drop since mid-June. 

Bittrex facing legal challenges

Bittrex is currently named as one of the defendants in a class-action lawsuit originally filed against Tether and Bitfinex in October 2019. The Southern District of New York alleges that the crypto exchange — along with Poloniex — was in on a plan to inflate the supply of Tether (USDT) to drive up crypto prices in 2017. 

The Plaintiffs accuse Bittrex of facilitating the coordination of enormous buy orders across multiple exchanges to create the illusion of fresh liquidity flooding into the markets.

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IRS Wants to Track ‘Nefarious’ Privacy Coin and Lightning Transactions

The IRS is looking to expand its investigative capabilities around privacy coins, layer-two solutions, and sidechains.

The United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is seeking information and tools to help it trace transactions using privacy coins, layer two protocols such as Lightning Network and side chains like Plasma and OmiseGo (OMG).

A June 30 request for information published by the U.S. Department Of The Treasury reveals the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division is seeking submissions for “an interactive prototype” with a graphic user interface for analyzing distributed ledger-based transactions involving privacy coins and other privacy-enhancing blockchain technologies.

IRS peeks into privacy

The document explicitly names Monero (XMR), Zcash (ZEC), Dash (DASH), Grin (GRIN), Komodo (KMD), Verge (XVG), and Horizon (ZEN) among the privacy coins that the IRS hopes to target, in addition to the layer-two solutions Raiden Network, Celer Network, and Lightning.

The IRS requests that prototypes detail systems for “clustering transactions” from a single user who is using “privacy coins and obfuscation technologies”; compile a library of wallet addresses associated with “suspected or known to be involved in nefarious activities”; and identify other addresses associated with said nefarious wallets.

The agency also requests that the system include “a mechanism for sharing investigative research between investigators”, secure data export and import functionality, and estimates on proposed systems’ cost and return on investment. 

Hard to track privacy coins

Despite the bold ambitions of the IRS’ cryptocurrency tracing initiative, the agency acknowledges that few resources currently exist for tracking the movements and addresses of privacy coins:

“Currently, there are few investigative resources for tracing transactions involving privacy cryptocurrency coins, layer-two network protocol transactions, side-chain ledger transactions, or transactions on distributed ledgers that are adopting signature algorithms that provide privacy to illicit actors.”

The regulator also highlighted the dynamic nature of innovation in privacy-enhancing technologies, noting challenges presented by Schnorr Signatures — which were partially implemented by Bitcoin Cash (BCH) last year.

The deadline for prototype submissions is July 14.

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Authorities Take Down Biggest Criminal Chat Network Yet

Authorities across Europe take down an organized crime syndicate that used an encrypted chat network to coordinate their illicit activities.

Law enforcement authorities throughout Europe arrested over 800 individuals that allegedly were using an encrypted chat network to coordinate their illicit activities.

60,000 members

EncroChat was using modified Android devices to provide its users “worry free secure communications”. BBC reports that EncoChat has about 60,000 users:

“An estimated 60,000 people, among them up to 10,000 in Britain, subscribed to France-based EncroChat, which has now been taken down.”

Authorities allege that the criminals were using the encrypted messaging service to coordinate illegal activities like the sale of drugs and weapons. However, it is not clear whether they allege that all the users of EncroChat engaged in criminal activity.

EnchroChat Main Page (the site is currently offline)

EnchroChat Main Page (the site is currently offline). Source:

War on encryption?

This comes a week after a bill that, in essence, would ban end-to-end encryption was introduced to the Senate. The same issue was recently raised in the ministerial meeting of the nations that make up the “Five Eye” intelligence community — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States:

“We discussed the vital importance of collaboration between governments and the digital industry to address concerns with end-to-end encryption where it impacts public safety and the lawful access to information necessary to prevent or investigate serious crimes.”

Taking this into consideration, it is possible that this bust is part of the coordinated campaign to discredit privacy-preserving technologies in the eyes of the general public. If this indeed is the case, then we would expect to see more similar announcements in the coming months.

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Anthony Pompliano Believes The Success Of Ripple Doesn’t Guarantee The Success Of XRP

These events show why Ripple and XRP are still top payment solutions

Morgan Creek Digital co-founder and partner, Anthony Pompliano or better known as Pomp, has stated that if Ripple, the San Francisco-based blockchain payments firm associated with XRP is successful in the long-run, it does not mean that XRP is guaranteed to be successful as well. Pomp said this during an interview with TechCrunch and Arrington […]

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