Coinhive Announces the Date When It Will Discontinue Its Service

Coinhive, the cryptocurrency mining service, announced in a blog post that it will cease all its activities on March 8th, a day before a planned Monero (XMR) hard fork. Used to mine XMR coins on any type of consumer hardware, Coinhive allowed the hidden or known injection of a script to mine coins for small-scale gains.

According to the blog post, the mining service will cease its operations on March 8th, 2019, whilst the users’ dashboards will still be accessible until April 30th. The mining service cited multiple reasons for its decision, amongst which are the over 50% drop in hash rate following the last Monero (XMR) hard fork as well as the cryptocurrency market drop off, with the value of XMR having dropped over 85% within a year.

The blog post further adds that “this and the announced hard fork and algorithm update of the Monero network on March 9th has lead us to the conclusion that we need to discontinue Coinhive.

The mining service, which launched in mid-September 2017, promoted itself as an alternative to classic banner ads. It operated on the idea that websites could load a JavaScript file (coinhive.js) on their pages. This JS file would then mine XMR inside visitors’ browsers on behalf of the site owners. The more time the users spent on the site, the more money the site owner would make.

Although Coinhive is not an inherently malicious code, it has become popular among hackers for hijacking. The mining service became the go-to solution for cyber-criminal gangs who proceeded to hack sites all over the internet and leave the Coinhive file configured to mine Monero for their accounts.

This practice became widely known under different names, such as “cryptojacking,” “in-browser mining,” or “drive-by mining” and it became a real problem in late 2017 and the first half of 2018, with Coinhive scripts ending up on government sites, live chat widgets, gaming mods, famous sites, fundraising campaigns, Youtube ads, ad networks, browser extensions, routers, mobile apps, and desktop applications. Subsequently, Coinhive was listed by many security firms as the top malicious threat to Internet users.

Earlier this month, tech giant Microsoft removed eight Windows 10 apps from its official app store after cybersecurity firm Symantec had discovered the presence of a secret XMR coin mining code. The firm’s analysis identified the strain of mining malware enclosed in the apps as being the web browser-based Coinhive XMR mining code.

Most recently, a report from cyber security research firm Kaspersky Labs disclosed that cryptojacking overtook ransomware as the biggest cybersecurity threat — particularly in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. Not only PC but also smartphone users are targeted by unauthorized mining software as from the 2016 to 2018 period, these type of attacks increased by 9.5%.

Inveniam Capital Plans to Tokenize Shares in a Real Estate Project

Patrick O’Meara, chairman and chief executive officer of Inveniam Capital Partners (ICP), has announced on Tuesday that the company plans to tokenize some $260 million in four private real estate and debt transactions, starting with a WeWork-occupied building in downtown Miami, Florida. The company also plans to sell tokenized shares of the building, valued at $65.5 million, likely the largest piece of real estate to be financed this way to date.

In a press release, O’Meara has shed some light on the terms tokenized securities and security tokens. A security token is just a crypto token which follows the laws set for securities, whereas a tokenized security is a term used when real objects in the world are sold through cryptocurrency shares. Thus the technology provides a high level of transparency to the investors.

ICP has already placed a deposit for the Miami property last month for an unspecified amount of Bitcoin and in the coming weeks, ERC-20 tokens will be available on the Ethereum blockchain for those who wish to buy shares of the assets.

In addition to the WeWork building, the company intends to tokenize shares for a student housing facility in North Dakota, which is being valued at about $90 million as well as a North Dakota water pipeline worth $50 million and a multi-family housing facility in southwest Florida worth $75 million.

All in all, the total value of the four properties will add up to $260 million.

The sale of the shares in the four assets will proceed through a Dutch auction. In this case, those who are interested will bid by specifying how many tokens they intend to purchase, how much they want to pay for each and what cryptocurrency they want to use for payment.

In order to participate, potential buyers are required to hold at least $10 million in crypto, with a minimum purchase of $500,000. The sale will be conducted in accordance with private placement rules issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ICP will be accepting bids in the top 50 cryptocurrencies and all tokens will be distributed in order of bid values from highest to lowest.

Lately, tokenized real estate has become an increasingly popular use case for blockchain technology. Harbor CEO Josh Stein disclosed last November that using tokenized shares allowed the company to more easily track shareholders and verify that they are compliant with relevant securities laws.

Last year, Templum Markets – a token trading platform and advisor- sold a security token representing shares in a Colorado ski resort, accepting payment in U.S. dollars, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Similarly, security token startup Harbor is selling 955 shares in a high-rise building in South Carolina, each share being worth only $21,000.

Coinbase Enables XRP Trading on its Platform

Giant crypto exchange Coinbase has announced its plans to add XRP, the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap and one of the world’s most controversial cryptocurrencies, to the list of virtual currencies traded on its platform.

Coinbase announced on Monday, through an official blog post, that it would be listing XRP on its trading platform, Coinbase Pro, in “transfer-only” mode, meaning users can only deposit tokens for now. In an attempt to avoid market manipulation, Coinbase stated it would roll out the XRP listing in phases, beginning with a 12-hour period where it is accepting inbound XRP deposits. After that, the company said it would begin to fulfill orders and execute trades, however this timeline is subject to changes.

Full trading of XRP will be available to customers in the U.S., Canada, the European Union, the U.K, Singapore and Australia. Coinbase may expand its services to other countries in the future.

According to the blog post:

 “The [XRP] ledger is powered by a network of peer-to-peer servers. All accounts on this network can send or receive XRP to/from each other, while XRP can be used to send underlying fiat currencies between two parties. In this way, XRP can function as a bridge currency in transactions involving different currencies such as US dollars, Japanese yen, Euros, Francs, and others in use on the XRP network.”

XRP is a digital asset tied to a ledger that’s used for cross-border payments. The virtual coin has provoked controversy for its tangled history with Ripple, a startup that owns the vast majority of XRP—a stockpile worth billions of dollars—in reserve.

Ripple Labs, its subsidiary XRP II and a number of individuals affiliated with the XRP cryptocurrency are currently defendants in a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that XRP is a security issued by the payments startup, a claim which has been denied by Ripple.

Over the past several months, Coinbase Pro has been actively expanding its list of tokens supported on the platform. In August 2018, it added support for Ethereum Classic (ETC), followed by Basic Attention Token (BAT) and privacy-oriented altcoin Zcash (ZEC) in November.

The addition of XRP to Coinbase has been long-awaited by the crypto community. In January 2018, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong put down rumors that the exchange was adding support for XRP in the short term.

Presently, XRP received a massive boost following this week’s announcement. This also resulted in the market cap of XRP shooting up to $13 billion, trailing to Ethereum’s $14 billion.

Financial Group Mizuho to Launch Stablecoin for the Japanese Market in March

The Japanese megabank, Mizuho Financial Group, will launch their own stablecoin for payments and remittance services on March 1st. This news has been reported on February 21st by local financial newspaper Nikkei Asian Review.

Mizuho Giant Launches its Own Stablecoin

Mizuho Financial Group is a public banking holding company that reported over $1.8 trillion in total assets as of last year.

Ahead of the launch, Mizuho has strategically partnered up with over 60 financial institutions, whose total combined customer base exceeds 56 million people. The currency will be managed by a dedicated mobile app­, J-Coin Pay, which will allow customers to purchase goods by scanning QR codes at checkout to complete retail payments. The currency will be a digital stablecoin fixed at a price of 1 Japanese Yen per unit.

Each client account will be directly linked to a J-Coin wallet so that adopters will be able to start using the new stablecoin immediately. According to the report, transfers between J-Coin wallets and customer bank accounts will be free of charge in order to help stimulate mainstream adoption.

Aiming to lure clients away from its competitors, the financial institution is planning to undercut the existing 2%-5% transaction fee for processing cashless payments. The J-Coin wallet will also not charge any fees for depositing or withdrawing money into a bank account, nor will it involve any credit checking or age restriction.

In addition to that, J-Coin wallets will also serve a more flexible range of payments and remittance services than traditional bank accounts — with options for colleagues to split bills or for family members to transfer pocket money.

Strong Competition in Japan

Notably, Japan is already served by payment innovators such as e-commerce giant Rakuten and chat app provider Line, which has launched its own cryptocurrency and in-house blockchain. Line Pay, which dominates the Japanese market at the moment with over 79 million users and 1.3 million participating stores, charges 216 yen ($1.95) per withdrawal and prohibits anyone under the age of 13 from using the service.

The Japanese giant bank hopes to attract 6.5 million users and over 300,000 vendors within the first two years of launching the J-Coin digital payment system. There have also been rumors that the bank is pursuing a partnership with Alibaba’s Alipay to dramatically increase retail adoption and onboard more vendors.

Mizuho is also trying to negotiate with convenience store FamilyMart, as well as electronic retailer Bic Camera and transport company East Japan Railway, aiming to establish its platform with giant retail industry players.

European Derivatives Exchange Prepares to Launch Physically Delivered Cryptocurrency Futures

Eurex, a Germany-based derivatives exchange managed by Deutsche Börse, is preparing to launch futures contracts tied to digital assets, according to news outlet The Block.

Eurex, founded in 1998, is an international derivatives exchange operated by one of the world’s leading stock exchanges, Deutsche Börse. Eurex Clearing manages a collateral pool of 49 billion Euros ($55.5 billion) and clears trades valued at 12.46 trillion Euros each month.

According to people with knowledge about the imminent development, Eurex will be primarly focusing on Bitcoin (BTC) futures, as well as Ethereum (ETH), and Ripple (XRP) for the time being.

Currently, the firm is working to bring new futures contracts to market, following in the footsteps of CME, CBOE Global Markets, and other US exchanges, which have launched Bitcoin futures markets in December 2017.

Since then Deutsche Börse has subsequently been considering the introduction of digital currency futures. At the time, a spokesperson had disclosed to a local economics news outlet that “we are thinking about futures, with which private investors and institutional investors can protect existing investments in Bitcoin or set for falling prices of the cyber currency.”

In September 2018, Deutsche Boerse established a “DLT, Crypto Assets and New Market Structures” unit, with the goal to explore the unruly potential that technology could have for the financial market infrastructure. Other tasks included developing new products that could enhance the exchange’s existing services.

Recently, Deutsche Börse announced that it was making significant progress on its blockchain-based securities lending platform. Following a press release from German stock exchange, six banks to date have confirmed their plans to join the ​​securities lending platform, and have begun “their connectivity processes.” The securities lending platform is expected to be launched within the first half of 2019.

The crypto futures market is seeing substantial growth in the industry right now, and the positive effect of the derivatives market is proving to be appealing to institutional investors.

The market for crypto derivates is already gaining a lot of heat, using names that investors inside and outside of the industry already know, like BitMEX, BitFlyer, and OKEx, which have led the trading volume. Physically delivered crypto futures are currently being built by other ventures, such as Bakkt, SeedCX, and ErisX. Launch dates are scattered throughout this year in the U.S.