Bakkt’s Bitcoin Futures Surge, UpBit Hacked for $50 Million in Ethereum, US Arrests Blockchain Researcher


Another week, another round of Crypto Tidbits. Surprisingly, Bitcoin (BTC), saw some relatively strong performance over the past seven days, gaining 2% according to Coin360. This came after the leading cryptocurrency tapped $6,600 in a surprise flash crash late last week, shocking investors the world over.

The past week was an interesting one for the industry at large: an Ethereum Foundation researcher was arrested by the U.S. for purportedly supporting North Korea, Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures saw an absolutely colossal week in terms of adoption and usage, and the chief executive of a Chinese exchange went missing, leaving the company without access to its cryptocurrency holdings.

Related Reading: Crypto Tidbits: Bitcoin Dives Under $8,000, Fidelity Bags Trust License, SEC Takes Second Look at ETF

Bitcoin & Crypto Tidbits

  • Bakkt’s Bitcoin Futures See Amazing Week: When crypto exchange upstart Bakkt launched its Bitcoin futures contract in September, few institutional investors were using the product. Bakkt’s market saw less than $5 million worth of daily volumes for weeks on end, with little sign of improvement. Though, over the past few weeks, the futures have seen a strong uptick in adoption. In fact, on Wednesday, Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures saw nearly $40 million worth of volume trade. And while Bakkt’s volumes are a sign of institutional trading interest, Bakkt’s open interest metrics are signs of institutions’ propensity to hold Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency data Twitter page Ecoinometrics recently noted that the open interest in the Bitcoin futures contracts has surged by hundreds of BTC over recent days. This implies that “some people are seeing the price dip as a good occasion to get in long.”
  • IDAX CEO Goes Missing, Crypto WIthdrawals Halted: The chief executive of IDAX, a lesser-known cryptocurrency trading platform purportedly in Shanghai, has disappeared off the face of the Earth. The exchange announced this in an announcement published on Friday morning, in which it was written that “since November 24th, IDAX Global CEO have gone missing with unknown cause and IDAX Global staffs were out of touch with him.” The exchange added that as a result of this, it will be halting all deposits and withdrawals as IDAX’s access to its cold wallet, which “stored almost all cryptocurrency balances for IDAX (including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other assets),” has been “restricted.” Henceforth, the exchange has “drawn up and emergency plan about platform services, including our deposit/withdrawal service.”
  • U.S. Arrests Ethereum Proponent for “Assisting” North Korea: On Friday, the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York State revealed something astounding: it, alongside individuals from the FBI and other authorities of the U.S. government, had arrested Virgil Griffith, a United States citizen at the Los Angeles Airport. As to why the individual was arrested, a press release indicated that the individual had “violated the  International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) by traveling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK” or “North Korea”) in order deliver a presentation… [on how to use technology] to evade sanctions.” Griffith, whose LinkedIn claims he is a research scientist for the Ethereum Foundation, was there for a state-sponsored blockchain event. Prominent members of the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency community have mixed reactions to this case.
  • HSBC to Use Blockchain to Manage $20 Billion Worth of Assets:According to a report published Wednesday by Reuters, HSBC will be using a blockchain-based custody platform dubbed “Digital Vault” to manage $20 billion worth of assets in “one of the biggest deployments yet of the widely-hyped but still unproven technology by a global bank.” HSBC representatives said that the company intends to have this done by March. This new HSBC platform will effectively bring formerly paper-based records of private placement investments onto a blockchain, reducing the “time it takes investors to make checks or queries on holdings.”
  • UpBit Hacked for $50 Million in EthereumEarlier this week, blockchain analytics services picked up on an interesting set of transactions from the wallets of UpBit, a Korean exchange. The transactions include multi-million transfers of Ethereum, Tron, EOS, and other top cryptocurrencies (not Bitcoin though) from UpBit-owned wallets to exchanges and “unknown wallets,” addresses left unmarked by these analytics firms. Eventually, UpBit came out to speak on the matter, revealing in an announcement that a 342,000 Ethereum (then valued at $50 million) transaction was suspicious. The translated version of the release does not contain the word “hack,” though many have taken the statement as a sign that the $50 million worth of cryptocurrency has been misplaced and is currently unretrievable. Upbit has confirmed that it will cover the funds with up to $51 million worth of its corporate funds, and has also revealed that it has moved all cryptocurrencies into its cold wallet to protect its customers.
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