People across the world could be mining a cryptocurrency – and not even know it, Forbes reported. Hackers are breaking into computers and smartphones and installing malware that forces the devices to mine Monero, which is attractive because of that currency’s anonymity and the fact that Monero requires less power to mine than, say, bitcoin.
In Venezuela, the government is launching a cryptocurrency – and institutional investors are getting first dibs, according to Bloomberg. The coins, which will be known as Petro, were originally going to be sold in a transparent process with discounts as high as 60 percent for those that got in early, but a final document said that the sale, which will begin next month, would be private.
Over in Russia, Sperbank said it would offer cryptocurrency trading without running afoul of Russian laws by extending the service to customers outside of the country, Express reported. Sperbank’s head of global markets, Andrey Shemetov, said the bank “plans to start trading cryptocurrencies outside Russia in order to avoid violating domestic rules.”
In technology news, Samsung has confirmed it has begun manufacturing application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips that are used for mining cryptocurrencies, TechCrunch reported. “Samsung’s foundry business is currently engaged in the manufacturing of cryptocurrency mining chips. However, we are unable to disclose further details regarding our customers,” a Samsung spokesperson told the blog.
And, in Japan, the head of a large industry group is claiming that Coincheck falsely explained its security to customers prior to suffering a massive crypto hack, Reuters reported. Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association’s Taizen Okuyama went on to say that authorities would have halted operations of Coincheck had it been a business focused on securities or currency margin trading. Coincheck did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment on Okuyama’s statement.
Square users who want to trade bitcoin are in luck. Square's CEO, Jack Dorsey, said the company will roll out bitcoin trading for many of its users, Bloomberg reported. But those in New York, Georgia, Wyoming and Hawaii are out of luck, as they will not be able to use the feature. "We support bitcoin because we see it as a long-term path toward greater financial access for all," Dorsey wrote in a tweet Wednesday. "This is a small step."
It hasn’t been a good January for bitcoin – but then again, the cryptocurrency doesn’t usually fare well in the first month of the year, CNBC reported. Still, bitcoin may see its worst monthly decline in value since January 2015. As of 8:35 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 31), bitcoin was trading at $10,174.76, according to CoinDesk. By comparison, it traded at $13,412.44 on Jan. 1. Bitcoin hit a low of $9,627.89 during its most recent drop, marking a decline of slightly more than 28 percent.