The meteoric rise of the market continued last week. The price of Bitcoin passed $1800 for the first time ever, extraordinary considering it had never in its eight-year history passed $1300 until last month.
A dramatic ransomware attack took place last week, thought to be the largest ransomware attack in history. Hackers used malware leaked from the NSA affected Microsoft Windows computers in at least 99 countries. The computer network of the UK’s National Health Service was particularly badly affected. Files on affected computers were encrypted, and a ransom in Bitcoin was demanded for the password. The attack was foiled after just one day when someone discovered a killswitch built in to the leaked code.
The Ethereum Name Service launched last week and did roaring business, with $2.6 million being bid for one name! The service will allow users to receive payments at human-readable addresses, such as alicesaddress.eth, instead of cryptographic ones such as 0x96f885125d61a8ff23a95d874a5114db7b3d0a75.
Vinay Gupta, of the Ethereum team, gave a presentation to the European Parliament on blockchain technology.
Mysterium released their whitepaper for comment on May 12 and opened to testing on May 13. Mysterium would use cryptocurrency payments to allow users to swap their network connections – creating what is, in effect, a decentralized Virtual Private Network.
Russia’s largest retailer, Ulmart, will accept Bitcoin from Sept 1, 2017.
The Russian government seems to have turned 180 degrees in its approach to Bitcoin. Last week, Russian government sources said that official regulations will be in place by 2019. The currency was illegal there until December 2016.
The French government has convened a working group to report on the blockchain. The group will report their findings to the government in Oct 2017.
In Hong Kong, The Financial Services Development Council, an advisory group, has finalized a report to the government, urging it to prepare for the impact of cryptocurrencies, and invest in research and development. You can read the report in PDF form here.
Canaan, a manufacturer of Bitcoin mining hardware, raised $43 million in funding. This is the largest amount ever raised by a mining hardware business.
Australia released its national budget for 2017. The summary of the implications for digital currency state that the rules will be changed, “allowing digital currencies to be treated just like money”. This means a reduction in tax for Bitcoin users; under old rules, Bitcoin was considered an asset, so purchases made in Bitcoin would be taxed twice: once for the transaction of the goods, and again for the transaction of the Bitcoin.
Japanese Bitcoin exchange Coincheck will launch a Bitcoin account that pays 5 percent interest, similar to a high-interest bank account. The new account was announced in a tweet by the company’s co-founder on May 8. This reinforces the trade of Bitcoin moving more into the mainstream in Japan.