Bail Bloc Founder Says How Monero Mining Can Help ICE Detainees

Cointelegraph has had an in-depth talk with Bail Bloc’s Grayson Earle about how the charity project helps release people from incarceration through cryptocurrency.

One cryptocurrency project is using Monero (XMR) to give undocumented immigrants a better shot at a fair treatment in the United States judicial system.

The Bail Bloc project collects cryptocurrency to help people get out of pretrial incarceration for cases with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Unlike conventional charities, Bail Bloc doesn’t want your money — it wants your computer processing power.

Cointelegraph reached out to Bail Bloc co-creator Grayson Earle for deeper insight into the initiative.

Detainees make bail with Monero

Users download a special app that uses between 10% and 50% of their overall processor capacity— the user can set the rate — to mine the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero.

Bail Bloc trades its XMR for U.S. dollars every month and then donates the sum on a rotating basis to the bail funds in the National Bail Fund Network.

“The idea is to get people to volunteer their spare computing power to mine, so it doesn’t require them to make any cash donations. It’s like creating an ad hoc supercomputer with the purpose of mining cryptocurrency,” said Earle.

ICE detention and who ends up there

ICE’s operations target individuals “who present a danger to national security” and “undermine the integrity of the immigration system”. However, most detainees are undocumented immigrants who otherwise have no criminal records and are detained simply for unlawful entry to the U.S.

In ICE detention, people can pay an immigration bond in exchange for their immediate release, but less than half of those in detention are given a bond hearing. Those who cannot afford to pay the bond, or who are not granted a bond at all, must wait for their court hearing while detained, which could last from months to years.

Additionally, ICE’s treatment of detainees has repeatedly raised concerns of violence, inappropriate segregation practices, foodservice issues, lack of recreation, and even violations of medical ethics.

While Bail Bloc was initially created for individuals in the American prison system, Earle said, “We’ve since re-oriented the project to pay immigration bonds for people affected by Trump’s policies. This includes people who are not citizens of the U.S. who might be living here.”

Bail Bloc steps in

Bail Bloc has mined cryptocurrency for the Immigrant Bail Fund since November 2018. The fund pays bonds for people in ICE detention across Connecticut, where the $15,000 immigration bond is nearly double the national average.

There are currently some 300 users running Bail Bloc on their computers, but the number is subject to fluctuation. “At its height, we had 2,500 users at peak hours, including Grimes as she actively used it while recording her new album,” Earle revealed.

It’s true — popular musician Grimes, (who was romantically linked to tech billionaire Elon Musk) tweeted about the project back in 2017, encouraging her fans to get involved:

“Downloaded bail bloc onto my comp. mines crypto currency 2 pay ppls bail; SO cool! & so easy…”

Why Monero?

It’s not surprising that Bail Bloc chose Monero as its digital currency of choice. “The anonymity of everyone we have helped to release from pre-trial detention is paramount,” Earle said, adding:

“I chose Monero because it was a fairly stable coin and is ASIC-resistant. I knew that our target participant had a laptop so we needed CPU mining to be viable. More recently, Monero has made GPU mining less viable which also improves the viability of our project.”

As Malta Delays Regulatory Clarity, Fewer Firms Remain on ‘Blockchain Island’

Once the go-to place for crypto and blockchain firms, is the “blockchain island” of Malta being hollowed out?

It seems that Malta is becoming both less popular among and less populated with crypto firms. The European Union country attracted dozens of industry players in 2018 on the back of the “blockchain island” agenda championed by the local government, but the relevant framework has not yet proven to be effective. Meanwhile, the official rhetoric apparently started to shift away from the blockchain sector, as the government now aims to consolidate it with “other niche sectors.”

Meanwhile, the Malta Financial Services Authority, continues to pluck out non-registered crypto agents — be it the world’s top crypto exchange or smaller startups. But in reality, no businesses have been licensed under the blockchain framework yet, despite it being released in the summer of 2018. As a result, a number of companies have decided to leave the island over the past months. So, who is currently based in Malta, and why?

Crypto regulation was off to a fast start

In July 2018, the Maltese government approved the Digital Innovation Framework, aiming to establish a strong regulatory climate for blockchain innovation and digital assets. The framework comprises three acts: the Digital Innovation Authority Act, the Innovative Technological Arrangement and Services Act, and the Virtual Financial Asset Act.

The latter, which is the most essential act out of three, required businesses to be licensed by the MFSA if they launch initial coin offerings, trade digital assets, or provide electronic wallets and brokerage activities. The act also introduces VFA Agents — the so-called “gatekeepers,” or entities that advise and support crypto firms.

The agency approved the first VFA Agents in May 2019. Currently, there are 21 authorized VFA Agents, according to the MFSA’s financial register. However, no VFA licenses have been issued under the framework yet, meaning that VFA Agents have few potential clients that are willing to apply for it.

Local politicians actively addressed the crypto bills when they were passed, arguing that the island nation had become a pioneer in the area. For instance, Silvio Schembri, who acted as a junior minister for financial services, digital economy and innovation, said that Malta was “the first world jurisdiction to provide legal certainty to this space,” even though nations like Canada, Japan and Belarus had already enacted cryptocurrency-specific laws.

Then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was also among the crypto-friendly officeholders. In September 2018, he went as far as to present his country as a “blockchain island” at the United Nations General Assembly.

Consequently, the Maltese government was especially close with crypto actors throughout 2018. In March, Muscat publically welcomed Binance to the island on his Twitter. The crypto exchange decided to move to Malta after facing regulatory difficulties in Japan, where it was previously headquartered.

A few months later, Binance held a private event at the official residence of the President of Malta. “How many of you have attended a blockchain even at the presidential palace?” CEO Changpeng Zhao, aka CZ, asked while giving a speech there, saying, “Malta came at a time when regulatory clarity was very much needed.”

It wasn’t just Binance that was looking for a friendlier jurisdiction and low corporate tax rates — which is set at 5%, the lowest in the EU. More crypto companies soon began relocating to the island, including fellow exchanges OKEx and BitBay. On Nov. 1, 2018, the cryptocurrency framework finally came into effect — but instead of getting the long-awaited clarity, local players were left dealing with more legal ambiguity and sluggishness.

Local players getting anxious

Most regulatory problems for crypto firms in Malta stem from the fact that no businesses have been licensed under the VFA framework yet, despite the fact that it’s been more than a year since it was enacted.

For instance, reports suggested that local banks were declining crypto and blockchain firms’ applications to open bank accounts, saying that it was beyond their “risk appetite.” As Schembri explained to the Times of Malta at the time, banks were reluctant to engage with crypto and blockchain firms because they were waiting for them to obtain MFSA licenses first, which he said was understandable.

In 2018, major crypto exchange OKEx successfully migrated to Malta from Japan after facing warnings from the local regulator. “Malta is getting crowded,” community commentators noticed at the time, when Binance was in the process of its relocation. Soon, OKEx received permission to operate and provide its services from Malta under the transitory provision granted by MFSA for a period of one year until the license is obtained, but the exchange is still waiting for a VFA license after almost two years.

As the time goes by, fewer firms remain hopeful. Leon Siegmund, a board member of Malta’s Blockchain Association and founder of Bitcoin Club Malta, criticized the VFA license in a comment to crypto publication Decrypt, saying, “It’s too expensive; it doesn’t provide any value.” The MFSA reportedly requires a fee of 10,000 euros to process a pre-application for the VFA license.

Additionally, Malta’s regulatory approach toward crypto businesses seems to be as stringent as that of other EU countries, given that the AMLD5 directive also applies. As Wayne Pisani, a partner at registered VFA Agent Grant Thornton, previously told Cointelegraph, “It was never the intention to create a soft touch regulatory framework.”

Therefore, some actors, such as derivatives exchange Deribit and a noncustodial exchange KyberSwap, have chosen to leave the island. In January 2020, KyberSwap announced it was moving out of Malta to the British Virgin Islands. The decision to relocate was driven by practical considerations, Sunny Jain, the company’s head of product, told Cointelegraph:

“KyberSwap anticipated that Malta will adopt a very strict implementation of new EU regulations for crypto companies. Under these new regulations, KyberSwap would require an extensive amount of information from our current and future customers, and overall costs might increase.”

Other companies that have cut ties with Maltese regulators include Bittrex and even the once-darling Binance. Bittrex announced it was relocating its headquarters to Liechtenstein in October 2019, just one month after the MFSA declared that it would “actively monitor” licensed crypto firms in the country (Bittrex declined to comment on this story nor to clarify the specific reasons for leaving Malta), while Binance was unexpectedly called out by the regulator, which issued a statement saying that the exchange “is not authorized by the MFSA to operate in the crypto currency sphere,” to which CZ said that Binance “is not headquartered or operated in Malta.”

The MFSA has now clarified to Cointelegraph that it issued the press statement to correct an article published by the Times of Malta, “which gave the impression that Binance was licensed to operate as a crypto exchange in and from Malta.” The spokesperson for the MFSA added that the agency is currently processing a number of applications, most of which are for crypto exchanges, adding that the aim is to establish the “highest standards of compliance and governance” for local businesses:

“The MFSA’s stance has always been the same and remains unchanged: to operate in the virtual financial assets sphere in Malta, the highest standards of compliance and governance in the conduct of business, including AML/CFT standards, have to be adhered to, both at on-boarding stage and throughout the lifecycle of the licensed activity.”

Either way, it seems that Binance’s relationship with local authorities has apparently worsened, especially since Muscat stepped down due to a political crisis in the country at the end of 2019, which was followed by a cabinet reshuffle. The exchange has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Other companies that have seemingly left Malta include an Indian exchange Zebpay. The company moved to the island in October 2018 after the Reserve Bank of India banned crypto-related transactions in the country. Although things seemed good at the start — with CEO Ajeet Khurana saying in March 2019 that he was pleasantly surprised at how open-minded the Maltese government was — the company ultimately closed down its Maltese subsidiary.

In August 2019, less than a year after it moved to the EU country, the exchange informed its users that Zebpay Malta was shutting down. When asked to comment, however, a representative for the company said it is not “relevant” to this article because “ZebPay still has our Malta entity.” The spokesperson added, “We have just put EU operations on the backburner while we review our overall operations and refocus on core competencies.”

Further, investment trading market Coinvest, which once announced it was joining leading blockchain companies in moving to Malta, has since decided not to move forward with its registration in Malta citing a lack of progress, as confirmed to Cointelegraph by the firm’s representative.

Not everyone has left

The political crisis, which was largely fuelled by allegations of corruption and lead to Muscat’s resignation, might be a crucial factor for the current regulatory stagnation, according to Sidharth Sogani, CEO at crypto-focused research and intelligence firm Crebaco, who told Cointelegraph:

“At this point, Malta doesn’t seem to have a proper loophole-free regulatory framework that takes care of illicit activities arising out of the Crypto industry and maybe that is the reason why the new licenses are delayed and the existing businesses are facing regulatory and compliance hurdles.”

“Over the last few months, we have seen an exodus of companies leaving Malta,” Cal Evans, the founder of compliance and strategy firm Gresham International, summarized in a comment for Cointelegraph, elaborating that the local regulation seems to be the main reason:

“The island made great steps toward creating crypto-friendly laws, but made little to no steps in implementing them. To date, it is rumored that only two licenses have been issued. The Maltese authorities seemingly unwilling, or unable, to issue the licenses companies so desperately wanted to prove legitimacy.”

However, some Malta-based actors remain optimistic. Jan Sammut, the founder of ICO Launch Malta, told Cointelegraph:

“Whilst the consensus is that the VFA act is overly onerous and that its implementation leaves much to be desired, the Maltese jurisdiction as a whole remains a very attractive prospect for blockchain companies. Therefore, apart from the few who made the decision to relocate to other jurisdictions very early on, most remain based here operating under their transitional period provisions.”

Similarly, a representative for OKEx reiterated the exchange’s commitment to stay in Malta in a comment to Cointelegraph, saying that there is still room for the crypto sector to grow on the island:

“We believe the Maltese government is very committed to crypto and they do have one of the most comprehensive crypto regulatory frameworks in the EU. Yet, OKEx will always be here to keep our commitment in joining hands with the Maltese government to build the ecosystem.”

Experts warn that further short-term developments are unlikely

As for now, the future of the crypto industry in Malta seems uncertain — the VFA act has yet to be implemented in full after almost two years. As Sogani suggested, this process might take even more time due to the pandemic: “I believe we won’t see any concrete revised regulation coming in the next six months, as a lot of things have been delayed due to the coronavirus lockdown.” The MFSA did not reply to Cointelegraph’s request for comment by press time.

Related: New Malta Government Says It Still Wants to Run a ‘Blockchain Island’

When asked for a statement, Malta’s junior minister for financial services and digital economy, Bartolo Clayton, repeated his previous comment given to Cointelegraph, stating that “the Government of Malta is committed to consolidate blockchain together with other niche sectors,” adding that, “the Government of Malta is opting for an overarching and holistic strategy for the Digital, Financial and Innovative services in Malta.”

Additionally, Clayton’s press office mentioned that “the Junior Minister further extends his commitment to attract more investment in these emerging sectors.”

Bitcoin Bulls Can Take BTC Price to $8K Amid Report $10 Oil Inevitable

As coronavirus is tipped to create fresh misery for oil markets, Bitcoin is eyeing a chance to hit 1-month highs, says Cointelegraph’s filbfilb.

Bitcoin (BTC) was pushing to flip $7,000 resistance to support on April 3 amid warnings that oil markets really will hit $10 a barrel this month.

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

Cryptocurrency market daily overview. Source: Coin360

Media: $10 oil could last the whole Q2

Data from Coin360 and Cointelegraph Markets tracked multiple attempts by Bitcoin bulls to push the market definitively over the $7,000 mark on Thursday and Friday.

At press time, all those attempts had failed to deliver support, with BTC/USD in each case falling back to the high $6,000 range.

Bitcoin 1-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin 1-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin surged higher earlier on Thursday, as anticipation built around an end to the ongoing oil price war which, according to United States President Donald Trump, could send the price of a barrel to just $9.

Fresh comments by Trump about an agreement sent oil markets spinning, with Brent crude gaining 30% in hours before comments by Russia contradicted the buoyant tone.

Speaking to CNBC, Victor Shum, vice president of energy consulting at insight provider IHS Markit, warned that $10 oil remained a firm possibility for April.

“We are projecting that Brent is going to drop to around $10 a barrel in April and will likely stay at that level in the second quarter,” he told the publication.

“There is little chance of any OPEC+ deal that’s going to save the crude oil market from the attack of the COVID-19. I think any talk of big cuts is probably too little, too late.”

Filbfilb: Bitcoin bulls are strong

For Bitcoin, meanwhile, previously cautious traders were now delivering increasingly upbeat forecasts for the short term.

In an announcement to subscribers of his Telegram trading channel, Cointelegraph Markets analyst filbfilb eyed a possible run to $8,000 as the next step.

“The bulls seemingly are strong here,” he summarized.

“Assuming the day closes something like it is now I favor the bulls to squeeze us up to ~8k.”

At $6,900, BTC/USD is just $300 below its position at the start of 2020, meaning Bitcoin has limited its year-to-date losses to just 4.3%.

Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here

Coronavirus Pandemic Reminds Us That Security Is Important During the Zoom Boom

Under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments may target our civil liberties, and cryptography could become the technological protector of our rights.

Even with all the looming uncertainty surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic, system security needs to remain at the forefront of companies’ planning. 

Businesses around the world are shutting down under local, state or national decrees as COVID-19 fears bring caution regarding public gatherings. Unsurprisingly, hackers have used the unprecedented opportunity of chaos and panic to probe weaknesses in information technology systems. One of those systems happened to be the United States Department of Health and Human Services, making the act even more egregious, considering the circumstances.

But the problem extends beyond hackers and threats to companies and individuals. During times of crisis, civil liberties also come under threat, and cryptography often provides a shield against unwarranted encroaches by the government.

So, whether you’re a business worried about paying server and security costs during this economic turmoil or an individual protecting your digital assets, cryptography can serve you well.

Hackers will continue to be opportunistic 

It’s an unfortunate byproduct of crises, but hackers can wield social, economic and financial chaos for their gain.

For example, hackers launched a distributed denial of service attack against the Department of Health and Human Services last month in a bid to slow down the COVID-19 response. The current narrative makes the hack seem distinctly malicious in its effort to make the pandemic response slower, but there is likely more to the story.

The surging number of cases and by extension the hoarding of medical data under a consolidated government system presents an opportunity for hackers to abscond with sensitive information. Moreover, when emergency responses elicit rapid reactions, much of the system’s security may be a patchwork of protocols not backend tested thoroughly.

For example, cases being uploaded from the field — such as hospitals, makeshift testing centers, etc. — to government servers that aggregate and display current COVID-19 metrics may contain serious security flaws due to the rapidity of their development. Applications developed by small teams to assist doctors in times of crisis may also not follow security standards, specifically the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — commonly referred to as HIPAA — compliance laws, which are esoteric and outside the scope of most technology-focused engineers.

Hackers, looking for medical data that can be sold at a high value on black markets, likely view this as a gold mine. The hacking incident against the Health Department is probably not the first, nor will it be the last, of ongoing attempts to infiltrate prominent security systems. 

Cryptography provides a useful layer of defense against such intrusions. Masking medical data identifiers and other sensitive information is possible with a variety of cryptographic standards available today. Many projects in the crypto sector explicitly focus on financial applications, but the cryptographic modules for protecting and verifying sensitive data translate to other industries, such as healthcare, very well.

That’s not to say that cryptography is a panacea to the ongoing fallout of COVID-19. In some cases, governments are covertly using the dilemma as a method to subvert encryption entirely, such as is occurring in the U.S. 

Government surveillance covertly gaining favor among amid crisis

Hidden behind all of the headlines about the Federal Reserve interest rate, the S&P 500 tanking and COVID-19 cases was a proposed legislation effort that has profound consequences on the field of cryptography. 

Known as the EARN IT bill, U.S. Congresspeople have proposed a bill that would effectively grant the U.S. government the ability to access “any digital message.” The bill would create a consortium of law enforcement agencies headed by the Justice Department that would institute a standard verification mechanism for any digital message. If the message does not use the standard “verification” of the government’s technology to authenticate the message, then the sending/receiving parties can be sued into oblivion.

Concerning cryptography, this is a disastrous bill. The proposed document cleverly avoids the explicit use of the word “encryption,” but its language indicates that cryptography would become illegal, as all messages cannot be private between two counterparties. The government gets a backdoor.

Encryption would become illegal by default because it preserves privacy and authentication of a message between two parties, preventing the ability of a third party to snoop on the message’s contents.

The bill is still in its early stages, but it shows, once again, that governments do not approve of widespread encryption use among the public. Whether it be the Clipper chip scandal of the 1990s or the subversive move by Congress that is masked by a national crisis, the government’s efforts are persistent.

Fortunately, cryptography — which is empirically just math — does not adhere to the caprices of hackers, governments or opportunities to subvert its influence. The grassroots encryption movement started by cypherpunks and bolstered by the crypto community has spread the technology to an extent that is unlikely to fade away at fiat decree.

For businesses enduring the turbulent COVID-19 situation, don’t forget to account for your security during these vulnerable times. As individuals, remember that cryptography is your friend in protecting your civil liberties during a public health crisis.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Dr. Huang Lin is the co-founder and CTO of Suterusu, a project developing trustless privacy technology. He holds Ph.D. degrees in applied cryptography and privacy-preserving distributed systems from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the University of Florida. He has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne on applied cryptography for genomic privacy and blockchain-based data monetization.

Blockchain Head at European Commission Explains Usefulness of DLT

The European Commission sees some specific uses for blockchain technology in coordinating communication between member states, fostering crypto innovation.

The head of the digital innovation and blockchain unit at the European Commission (EC), Pēteris Zilgalvis, explained the concise benefits of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in an interview to The Banker, a subsidiary of the Financial Times. In the interview, published on April 3, Zilgalvis talked about the benefits and challenges of the technology.

According to him, blockchain provides a powerful framework for data sharing, something that can’t be done by normal databases:

“We think that it presents an excellent technology for situations where different stakeholders need to collaborate but, due to competition or legal reasons, they do not want to or are unable to share a single database.”

He added that blockchain is not “the solution for everything,” but there are applications such as document certification, self-sovereign identities and regulatory reporting, where DLT is “30% to 80% more efficient.”

Sharing data between members of a group

The distributed nature of blockchain is especially useful in the context of the EU, where it provides a way of coordinating data between member countries without sending it to a central location in Brussels or Luxembourg.

This is the rationale behind the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure, which aims to bring public services into a pan-European context. One of the potential uses of EBSI is connecting European banks in terms of their regulatory reporting, for example by sharing client data gathered in their anti-money laundering efforts.

Zilgalvis noted that this is a bigger challenge than it may seem, as banks are reluctant to do so due to concerns about competition and user privacy regulations.

The European blockchain effort is finding more issues with the political aspect rather than technological, as Zilgalvis revealed:

“The biggest challenge is governance. The best use cases for blockchain are where it is not one enterprise or entity but many. Thus, governance is important.”

On the technology side, efforts are being made to improve scaling, consensus mechanisms and privacy.

Blockchain and crypto

Unlike some other governments, namely China, the European Union’s blockchain efforts are also coupled with a relaxed stance on cryptocurrencies, according to Zilgalvis”

“We haven’t made any moves to prohibit anything, which stands against the stereotype of ‘if it moves, Europe regulates it.’”

He added that crypto is regulated through the same principles as any currency and that any future changes will be “very much done in a ‘pro-innovation’ spirit.”

European countries are indeed traditionally open to crypto, with recent examples of favorable treatment being found in both France and Germany.

The European Central Bank is also pushing for issuing a “digital Euro” in response to Libra and similar worldwide initiatives. Zilgalvis, while noting that this is not EC’s area of competence, urged the bank to determine the advantages and risks of the proposal. He added:

“Obviously for the EC, and the EBSI initiative, it would be easiest for us to use the euro in our blockchain infrastructure rather than another digital currency or cryptocurrency.”

YouTube Bans Drive Cryptocurrency Fans to Decentralized Alternatives

YouTube’s crypto policy has driven crypto enthusiasts to look for decentralized alternatives that are uncensored and provide incentives to their users.

In recent years, Google-owned video-sharing platform YouTube deleted and banned an array of cryptocurrency-related channels. The platform’s policy has driven cryptocurrency enthusiasts to look for decentralized alternatives to YouTube, which allow users to skirt censorship and even incentivize them with their own tokens.

In a YouTube video published on April 1, a channel dubbed Bitcoin for Beginners reviewed some of the decentralized YouTube alternatives. When choosing the most relevant platforms, the channel host took into account their usability, track records and user interface as major criteria.

Among the most popular decentralized video sharing platforms, the author noted LBRY, Bitchute, BitTube, PeerTube and Dtube. 

Censorship-resistance and incentives

LBRY has a community-controlled blockchain protocol and enables users to mine library credits and send them as tips to various creators. However, it is not easy to find good content as the platform doesn’t lay out popular or trending videos before you start following a channel.

Launched in 2018, BitTube allows users to overpass censorship thanks to InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). BitTube appears to be more entertaining as it offers livestreams, games, groups, and other options. Moreover, the platform has a reward system, wherein it rewards creators and viewers based on the time watched, and provides two privacy tokens.

Bitchute claims to use a peer-to-peer WebTorrent technology, however, the service still can delist content as it comes from their centralized servers. Also, most of the content is heavily political. 

Another platform called DTube is built on IPFS and the STEEM blockchain and rewards its users with DTC tokens, which gives them an ad-free option. The last platform mentioned, Peertube, was launched in 2015 and is based on the WebTorrent technology. Peertube features P2P video sharing.

Calling for a mass migration to alternative platforms

In a bid to stand up to Google for censoring cryptocurrency-related content across its platforms, the crypto community started a petition in early March. The so-called #ForkGoogle memorandum accuses the tech giant of waging “campaigns of suppression against Bitcoin and blockchain industry for years.”

#ForkGoogle calls for the crypto community to boycott Google’s services and migrate to alternative decentralized platforms like blogging platform Steemit and open-source browser Brave.

In recent years, Google-owned video-sharing platform YouTube deleted and banned an array of cryptocurrency-related channels. The platform’s policy has driven cryptocurrency enthusiasts to look for decentralized alternatives to YouTube, which allow users to skirt censorship and even incentivize them with their own tokens.

In a YouTube video published on April 1, a channel dubbed Bitcoin for Beginners reviewed some of the decentralized YouTube alternatives. When choosing the most relevant platforms, the channel host took into account their usability, track records and user interface as major criteria.

Among the most popular decentralized video sharing platforms, the author noted LBRY, Bitchute, BitTube, PeerTube and Dtube. 

Censorship-resistance and incentives

LBRY has a community-controlled blockchain protocol and enables users to mine library credits and send them as tips to various creators. However, it is not easy to find good content as the platform doesn’t lay out popular or trending videos before you start following a channel.

Launched in 2018, BitTube allows users to overpass censorship thanks to InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). BitTube appears to be more entertaining as it offers livestreams, games, groups, and other options. Moreover, the platform has a reward system, wherein it rewards creators and viewers based on the time watched, and provides two privacy tokens.

Bitchute claims to use a peer-to-peer WebTorrent technology, however, the service still can delist content as it comes from their centralized servers. Also, most of the content is heavily political. 

Another platform called DTube is built on IPFS and the STEEM blockchain and rewards its users with DTC tokens, which gives them an ad-free option. The last platform mentioned, Peertube, was launched in 2015 and is based on the WebTorrent technology. Peertube features P2P video sharing.

Calling for a mass migration to alternative platforms

In a bid to stand up to Google for censoring cryptocurrency-related content across its platforms, the crypto community started a petition in early March. The so-called #ForkGoogle memorandum accuses the tech giant of waging “campaigns of suppression against Bitcoin and blockchain industry for years.”

#ForkGoogle calls for the crypto community to boycott Google’s services and migrate to alternative decentralized platforms like blogging platform Steemit and open-source browser Brave.

Bithumb Global Launches Margin Trading for Bitcoin and Ether Pairs with Tether

Bithumb Global, the international platform of South Korea’s top crypto exchange, has rolled out margin trading with 5x leverage for Bitcoin and Ether trading pairs with Tether.

Bithumb Global, the international platform of South Korea’s top crypto exchange, has rolled out margin trading with 5x leverage for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) trading pairs with Tether (USDT).

In an announcement published on April 2, the exchange revealed the service would be available on its website and app. It will, however, be restricted for traders living in jurisdictions where margin trading is prohibited or capped — as, for example, with Japan.  

Leveraged trading gains traction in the industry

Margin trading enables traders to use borrowed funds in order to increase their potential profits, yet it is a high-risk strategy, as it can equally compound losses where unsuccessful. 

Many platforms and regulators therefore advise, or intervene, against retail traders engaging in leveraged trading — often restricting the option to accredited or institutional investors.

Briefly hinting at this, Bithumb Global urges traders to keep their strategies “appropriate” to their financial situation, in light of the “significant risks” they are courting. 

In late March, major crypto exchange Binance announced it was delisting FTX leveraged token pairs, just weeks after launching the products. In this case, the exchange reported that retail traders did not appear to understand the tokens and appeared to be holding rather than trading them, counter to their specific design.

Binance — like OKEx and others — offers high leverage on derivatives such as futures, where complexity and liquidation risks need to be carefully navigated.

In January, the 12th-largest crypto exchange Bitstamp partnered with crypto-friendly Silvergate Bank to trial leveraged Bitcoin trading, restricting the pilot to select institutional clients. 

Yesterday, the National Internet Finance Association of China accused overseas crypto exchanges of intentionally shutting off their systems or staging outages to trap and liquidate leverage traders during times of peak volatility.