Bitcoin Weekly Recap 8-5-2016
12k Bitcoin Stolen in Bitfinex Hack
News broke this week that a security breach in the Hong Kong Bitfinex exchange resulted in the theft of around 120,000 Bitcoins from users’ wallets. The sent the price of Bitcoin into freefall, dropping to as low as $465 before regaining momentum and climbing back to roughly $550. As of this writing, the price is at $574 – well below its July-ending highs of around $650. Bitfinex has suspended both deposits and withdrawals as it works to investigate the breach and determine how the theft occurred.
Now, someone claiming responsibility for the theft has apparently posted a statement on Reddit, taking credit for the hack and promising to deliver 1,000 Bitcoins to “one lucky winner” sometime next week. That Reddit user - identified only as “rekcahxfb” – has asked others to simply submit their own bitcoin addresses for a chance to be selected for the giveaway. This has led many to suspect that the thief – if rekcahxfb is the actual perpetrator of this crime – is simply preparing a money-laundering scheme that will enable those stolen Bitcoins to be effectively laundered by sending them to the thief’s own account address and then claiming that they were innocently received rather than stolen.
United Pharmacies to Accept Bitcoin Payments
In another indication of just how far Bitcoin has come in gaining more widespread acceptance and mass adoption, United Pharmacies recently announced that it will now accept Bitcoin for purchases of its drugs. To celebrate that announcement, the retailer is offering its customers a discount of ten percent for any orders paid using the cryptocurrency. United Pharmacies cited the company’s commitment to ensuring the protection of its customers’ personal information as a major reason for providing support for Bitcoin payments. The company, which provides pharmaceuticals for both humans and their pets, has been in operation for half a decade and delivers roughly 100,000 customer orders each year.
Bitcoin Experts Question Florida Judge’s View that Bitcoin is Not Currency
We reported recently about Florida Judge Teresa Pooler’s court decision in the Espinoza trial, and her decision to declare that Bitcoin does not meet the definition of money. As expected, that decision is likely to have little immediate impact beyond the particulars of that one individual case, other than to serve as fuel for the ongoing debate over the cryptocurrency’s legal status. Since the decision, a number of experts have expressed their views on the topic.
Ark Investment Management’s Christopher Burniske questioned the judge’s interpretation, noting that digital currency already effectively fulfills all of the recognized functions of money since it can serve as a means of exchange, a unit of account, and an effective store of value. It might be a different type of monetary vehicle, but that doesn’t mean that it is not currency. Those sentiments were echoed by others like Exante’s Anatoliy Knyazev and Frost & Sullivan’s Vijay Michalik as well. Meanwhile, others such as the Billon Group’s James Lynn argued that the lack of government backing tends to make Bitcoin something more akin to a commodity than an actual currency.
Bitcoin Miners and Developers Gather in California
In an effort to improve the communications between Bitcoin core developers and the coin’s miners, the two groups gathered in California to work toward strengthening their relationships. While the attendees did discuss matters like scaling, decentralization of mining efforts, and forking issues, organizers have made it clear that those discussions were of an informal nature and that there were no prior expectations that any clear decisions or consensus would manifest at the retreat. The gathering had drawn some criticism due to the absence of representatives from the wallet providers and exchanges, but many in attendance recognized that the gathering needed to be more focused on miners and developers to ensure that those two groups could interact in a more personal way.