Ontario Crackdown on Crypto Exchanges Continues With Binance Leaving the Province

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance will no longer provide services in the Canadian province of Ontario. The decision comes amid ongoing regulatory pressure on digital asset trading platforms that has already affected the operations of several exchanges.

Crypto Exchange Binance Exits Canada’s Ontario

Binance, which is one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges by daily volume, has updated customers on a change that concerns crypto traders in Ontario. The Canadian province is now a restricted jurisdiction, the company announced this week.

In a press release, Binance explains the move is part of its continuing compliance efforts. “Binance has updated its Terms of Use to provide that Ontario (Canada) has become a restricted jurisdiction, effective 2021-06-26 at 3:59:59 AM (UTC),” the exchange said, adding:

Regrettably, Binance can no longer continue to service Ontario-based users… We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

The platform advised cryptocurrency traders in Canada’s most populous region to “take immediate measures to close out all active positions by December 31, 2021.”

Exchanges Face Pressure From Securities Regulator

In the past weeks and months, the Ontario Securities Commission has been going after digital asset trading platforms in the province. The regulator wants them to comply with the region’s securities legislation that requires registration, which Binance has probably decided to avoid.

In March, the OSC urged crypto exchanges to reach out to its staff until April 19 to discuss compliance or face legal action. The commission regards crypto platforms providing access to Ontario residents as local operators, as far as securities regulation is concerned. Many have already found themselves in the crosshairs.

This week, the OSC accused BVI-registered Bybit of offering Ontarians to trade securities and derivatives in the form of crypto asset products. Earlier this month, the regulator alleged that two trading platforms run by Kucoin did not comply with the securities law. And in May, the commission said that Seychelles-based Poloniex had failed to contact it in time.

Like Binance, crypto derivatives exchange Bitmex decided to leave Ontario last August, as Bitcoin.com News reported. The platform, which was not a registered operator in the province, announced it was restricting access to Ontario users from September 2020. Bitmex explained the move with restrictions imposed by the OSC.

What are your thoughts on the regulatory crackdown on crypto exchanges in Ontario? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Crypto Climate Accord Walks a Fine Line Between Self-Interest and the Greater Good

As the spotlight turns once again towards the environmental impact of blockchain technologies, support for the Crypto Climate Accord has come from curious corners of the industry, raising questions about its signatories’ motives.

Authenticity of CCA’s Support Remains Debatable

With concerns surrounding blockchain’s environmental impact garnering a lot of attention, the alarms have grown so loud that crypto mining was the hottest topic of discussion during this year’s UN World Environment Day.

This echoed increased support for initiatives designed to restore the natural ecosystem, proposed by several prominent personalities and environmentally-conscious investors. For instance, this year’s mid-May crypto market crash started when Elon Musk suddenly tweeted that Tesla won’t be accepting Bitcoin as payment due to ‘environmental concerns.’

While blockchain is a powerful and transformative technology that can support real-world cases across a growing range of sectors, its energy footprint is a matter of concern. Blockchains relying on the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism require high-performance computers, which consume immense amounts of power, leading to inefficiency, non-renewable resource consumption, and significant electronic waste.

To address the carbon footprint of cryptocurrency mining, a newly announced Crypto Climate Accord (CCA) takes on the challenge of transitioning all blockchains to renewable energy by 2030 or sooner and eliminating greenhouse emissions by 2040. Led by private organizations operating within the blockchain and fintech industries, the Accord aims to build a sustainable crypto ecosystem with support from the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

As of now, the accord has garnered support from some influential names, including crypto company Ripple, blockchain software technology developer Consensys, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, and the UN’s ‘climate champions.’

But at this juncture where the planet has been filled with carbon emissions, are billionaires and industry evangelists suddenly regaining a conscience to restore the planet’s ecosystem and act for the greater good? Or is this simply a gimmick designed to suppress criticism and provide good PR?

Self-Promotion Parading as Environmental Activism

`Environmentally conscious’ investors and businesses could finally be waking up to solve the problem at hand, but this also might be more about virtue signaling and trying to appeal to the masses.

The most critical aspect to consider is that CCA is a privately-led initiative with no government backing, leading critics to doubt a self-regulated accord could be as effective as government policies for lowering crypto’s carbon footprint.

Take Ripple’s involvement in the accord and how it benefits from the green crypto initiative. By design, Ripple uses the less energy-intensive proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus protocol, meaning it already has a minimal impact relative to PoW networks. As more and more blockchains are already opting for the PoS consensus protocol over the PoW protocol, it means that over time, crypto’s energy footprint will automatically decline.

Given that nearly all the signatories either already use green energy or are focused on energy efficiency, this Accord feels a bit more like self-serving activism than simply affecting industry change. As such, the Accord’s pronouncements can feel more like a pat on the back than a stern warning to the industry’s main polluters. With no teeth or enforcement, how can this group possibly fight the more significant issue at hand?

Institutional investors, VC firms, and angel investors already realize that PoS-based applications are taking over, and they have already invested billions in forthcoming dApps and protocols. So why are these very organizations the sole supporters of the CCA? Could the support be marketing their competitive advantages and designed to attract more users to their platform through a “greener” appeal?

With the noose already tightening around the PoW protocol due to its impact on the environment, many voices supporting green crypto appear to fall into the conflicted category of self-interest and selfishness. Given the incentives and money at stake within the industry, especially as networks compete for more users and adoption, this latest attempt to self-regulate feels a little insincere.

If money weren’t involved or at stake, the initiative might take on a different look and feel. But given the “winner take all” attitude prevailing in today’s crypto climate, the CCA might just be the edge that organizations feel is necessary to put them on a perceived higher moral plane, despite the genuine environmental concerns the industry must address.

Do you think CCA’s cause is environmentally conscious in nature or a self-promotional stunt of the companies on board? Let us know in the comments section below.

Africrypt Directors Deny Allegations They Fleeced Clients as Doubts Over Actual Value Missing Bitcoins Grows

According to new reports, Raees and Ameer Cajee, the two young directors of the recently collapsed crypto investment firm, Africrypt, have “categorically denied” allegations they fleeced clients. Instead, the brothers insist their company is the victim of a hack while also claiming that the media may be overestimating the value of the missing bitcoins. These fresh denials by Africrypt directors come as doubts over the actual number of stolen bitcoins continue to mount.

Africrypt Directors Have Little Life Experience

Responding to an inquiry from BBC, John Oosthuizen, the lawyer representing Cajees suggested that accusations against his clients had no foundation and lacked “merit.” Still, when asked if his clients had made a police report following the hacking incident, Oosthuizen said “no.”

Still, the lawyer suggests that his clients, who are thought to be aged 18 and 20, have “very little life experience.” As a result, when they started receiving death threats, their “first reaction was to keep themselves and their families safe.”

Cajee Brothers Willing to Cooperate

While Oosthuizen has not revealed the whereabouts of the Cajees, he has, however, said his clients “would co-operate with any future inquiries by the authorities.” Nevertheless, the Cajees would only do this once they have been notified of an investigation, the lawyer explained.

Meanwhile, doubts over the exact value of the stolen bitcoins grew after an anonymous Africrypt investor told BBC that while the losses incurred were considerable “they were very much less than the billions that had been reported.”

In fact, an archive of Africrypt’s website from Jan 2021 suggests that the investment firm had $100 million under management. This figure is far less than the reported $3.6 billion worth of missing bitcoins suggesting that initial figures were inflated.

Do you believe the Cajee brothers’ claims that Africrypt is a victim of a hack? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

French Court of Appeals Upholds Alexander Vinnik’s Sentence

A court of appeals in France has upheld the verdict in the case against BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik. His lawyers vowed to continue the legal struggle against Vinnik’s return to Greece in order to avoid a likely extradition to the U.S.

Court Confirms Vinnik’s 5-year Sentence for Money Laundering

The Court of Appeals of Paris has confirmed the first instance decision in Alexander Vinnik’s trial, Russian media reported. In late 2020, the IT specialist, and alleged cybercriminal, was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering.

Vinnik’s defense team now plans to file a cassation appeal within five days as required by French law, the leading Russian business daily Kommersant wrote, quoting Vinnik’s lawyer, Frédéric Bélot, who also commented:

If we summarize what happened, we have to regrettably admit that the court made a “lazy decision.” The judge did not want to investigate the money laundering charges, despite that the prosecution’s evidence is far from certain.

Bélot is convinced prosecutors are not in the position to argue that Alexander received remuneration for dubious transactions. “This is not the case,” he insisted. The lawyer expressed his satisfaction with the dropping of most other charges from the verdict, and in particular, the one for extortion of money through malware.

Alexander Vinnik’s Lawyers to Fight Extradition to the US

Vinnik’s defense will now focus its efforts to ensure that he will not be transferred back to Greece after serving his French term. His lawyers fear that Greek authorities may extradite him to the United States where he is also accused of money laundering.

In July 2017, the Russian national was arrested in Thessaloniki where he arrived on a vacation with his family. Vinnik was detained on a U.S. warrant. American prosecutors allege he laundered up to $9 billion through the infamous crypto exchange BTC-e.

Frédéric Bélot said the French judge argued that Vinnik’s rights would not be violated in Greece, an EU member state, not recognizing that the Russian faces possible extradition to the U.S. and a new trial “in extreme, not European conditions.” Bélot considers this to be a serious threat to the “already shaken physical and mental health” of his client and is planning to submit a new appeal in the near future.

Russia, where Vinnik faces charges of “fraud in the field of computer information,” is also seeking his extradition but the French judiciary rejected Moscow’s request. During his detention in Greece, where he went on a long hunger strike, Vinnik stated he was ready to return and appear in court in his home country. At the latest hearing in Pairs, lawyers were joined by Vinnik’s mother who arrived in May to support her son.

What’s your opinion about Alexander Vinnik’s case? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Bitcoin’s Hashrate Recoups Some Loss, 2021’s Largest Mining Difficulty Drop Expected Next Week

On Saturday, Bitcoin’s SHA256 hashrate managed to climb back above the 100 exahash per second region after it slid to a low of 91 EH/s three days ago. Meanwhile, in five days the network’s mining difficulty change is approaching and it could see the difficulty drop over 20%.

Bitcoin Hashrate Climbs Back Above 100 EH/s, Difficulty Could Drop More Than 20% Next Week

  • Statistics show that bitcoin (BTC) miners are processing blocks a lot faster, as the hashrate has improved during the last 48 hours. On June 26, 2021, the network’s hashrate jumped back above the 100 EH/s zone.
  • The hashrate fell to 91 EH/s on June 23, 2021, following the crackdowns in China stemming from five Chinese provinces with the most recent being Sichuan. Between then and over the last three days, the hashrate has increased 9-13%.

  • The next mining difficulty drop is expected to happen in five days and at current processing power, it could drop around 20.57%. At the time of writing, the network’s mining difficulty is 19.93 trillion and the change could bring it to 15.83 trillion next week.
  • Bitcoin’s mining difficulty is essentially the measurement of how difficult it is to find a hash below a given target. When Bitcoin’s hashrate is high, the difficulty will increase, and when the hashrate drops like it did after China’s crackdown, the mining difficulty will drop lower. Therefore making it easier and harder to mine BTC with every fluctuation. Bitcoin’s network difficulty changes every 2,016 blocks or roughly every two weeks.

  • A lower difficulty will make it easier for bitcoin miners to find blocks and it can be more profitable for miners this month, as bitcoin’s (BTC) price has dropped much lower than it was two weeks ago. The last difficulty change saw the Taproot lock-in take place and the protocol upgrade should activate in November 2021.
  • There’s approximately 16 known bitcoin mining pools with dedicated SHA256 hashrate directed at the Bitcoin chain. One portion of hashrate is considered “unknown” or mystery hashrate, which currently captures 7.57 EH/s or 7.49% of the global hashrate distribution on Saturday evening (ET).

  • The top five bitcoin (BTC) mining pools on June 26, 2021, include Antpool, F2pool, Viabtc, Binance Pool, and Poolin. Those five mining pools capture 62.83% of the Bitcoin hashrate, while the rest is processed by 11 known pools and a 7.49% portion of mystery hashrate.
  • The next difficulty change seems to be pointing toward the largest mining difficulty drop in 2021 thus far. The network did see the largest difficult rise in 2021, with an approximate 21.53% increase, at block height 683,424 on May 13.

What do you think about the hashrate climbing back after the crackdowns in China? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.