Cryptocurrency startup Tagomi gets BitLicense to operate in New York

Tagomi Trading LLC, a cryptocurrency venture backed by Paradigm and Pantera Capital, has become the 18th firm to receive a coveted BitLicense.

The crypto brokerage firm received approval for a virtual currency license and a money transmission license. As a result, Tagomi is now authorized to offer trading for “non-securities virtual currencies“, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, and Litecoin.

The controversial BitLicense was first established in 2015 in a bid to regulate the rapidly expanding virtual currency market.

The piece of legislation is issued by New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) and was first introduced and designed by Benjamin Lawsky , New York‘s first Superintendent of Financial Services.

Coming into effect on August 8, 2015, the BitLicense resulted in at least 10 Bitcoin companies shutting down operations in the Big Apple. At the time, many critics had gripes about specific rules – such as the need for new licenses to be issued for every new service offered – as well as the application process, considered too costly and arduous by some.

Others, such as Boston-based Circle submitted an application in a bid to continue operating in New York. The firm made headlines after it was granted the first-ever BitLicense in September 2015. It’s since pivoted away from its Bitcoin exchange to focus on payments, though.

In July 2016, San Francisco-based Ripple was handed the second BitLicense . Several months later, in January 2017, Coinbase – at the time one of the most well-funded startups in the ecosystem – had its application approved .

The fourth BitLicense approval was obtained by bitFlyer , a Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange. Other companies with BitLicense approval include Xapo , Square Inc , BitPay , Coinsource. More recently, Robinhood Crypto, Moon Inc, and LibertyX had their applications approved .

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LocalBitcoins sees huge spikes in usage during Hong Kong’s political unrest

Interest in Bitcoin, the censorship resistant cryptocurrency, often spikes during times of political or economic unrest. It’s no accident that Satoshi Nakamoto embedded a reference to the financial crisis in Bitcoin‘s genesis block.

Indeed, Bitcoin volumes have seen an increase recently, specifically in Hong Kong on peer-to-peer trading site LocalBitcoins , The Block reports .

LocalBitcoins reportedly witnessed its third largest weekly BTC volume ever last week. The platform recorded a $1.42 million (172.8 BTC) worth of Bitcoin transaction volume.

The first and second highest weeks in terms of volume came in December 2017 and January 2018, with $1.53 million and $1.52 million respectively.

Forbes reported back in August that because of the rising interest in Bitcoin, Hong Kong locals were actually paying an $80 premium for the cryptocurrency.

Citizens took to the streets of Hong Kong after the nation’s Security Bureau proposed a law that would allow extraditions to countries on top of the 20 states that Hong Kong already has agreements with. It would allow citizens to be extradited to China.

This was in February, and since then, Hong Kong has continued to witness growing unrest from citizens. In April, tens of thousands marches on the region’s city assembly building demanding that the legislation be scrapped.

Things between pro-democracy lawmakers and those loyal to Beijing intensified in June, when thousands of lawyers took to the streets to protest the bill.

Protests are one thing, but the marches against the bill weren’t always so civil.

Police have been reported to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds and violent protesters. In early September Hong Kong‘s chief executive Carrie Lam withdrew the controversial bill, but it seems it wasn’t enough to curtail the demonstrations as violent protests have since continued .

With such political uncertainty, LocalBitcoins users in Hong Kong seem to be turning to Bitcoin for its inherent censorship resistance, something they apparently need more than ever.

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H/T – Reuters

Federal judge refuses to dismiss $224M lawsuit against AT&T for SIM-swap bungle

A US federal judge has rejected AT&T‘s request to dismiss a $224 million lawsuit over a SIM-swapping incident that led to $24 million in stolen cryptocurrency.

A press release confirms the telecom giant will face court over allegations it violated the Federal Communications Act, a consumer contract, as well as several other laws, when hackers assumed the identity (and telephone account) of cryptocurrency investor Michael Terpin in 2017.

“Judge Wright strongly repudiated AT&T’s audacious bid to prevent [Terpin] from demonstrating to a jury the carrier’s contempt for consumers’ privacy and utter disregard of its legal obligations to prevent this very type of SIM swap and financial crime,” said Terpin’s defence.

“The evidence will show that AT&T not once, but twice allowed hackers posing as [Terpin] to obtain his SIM card,” they added.

NY’s ‘Bitcoin Bandit’ already has to pay Terpin millions

Terpin’s federal lawsuit relates to fraudster Nicholas Truglia , the alleged kingpin of a SIM-swapping crew believed to have stolen $80 million worth of digital assets from high-profile cryptocurrency owners, including Terpin.

“On January 7, 2018, [Terpin’s] phone with his AT&T wireless number went dead. As [Terpin’s] subsequent discussions with AT&T revealed, an AT&T employee on that date had ported over [Terpin’s] wireless number to an imposter,” said lawyers earlier this year.

That imposter was Truglia, dubbed New York’s “ Bitcoin Bandit. ”

Together with a crew of 25 fraudsters known as the “OG Users,” Truglia is said to have sourced false identification documents via the dark web and phishing, later using them to trick customer support staff into porting their victim’s telephone numbers to phones under their control (SIM-swapping).

SIM-swapping allows text messages and 2FA codes to be intercepted, so stealing $24 million in cryptocurrency was as trivial as logging in and transferring it to external wallets.

Truglia later bragged: “I’m a millionaire. I’m not kidding. I have 100 Bitcoin,” and even boasted: “Nobody can get me in trouble. Nobody can put me in jail. I would bet my life on it, actually.”

In May this year, Truglia was ordered to pay $75.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Terpin — over three times the amount he originally stole, and reportedly one of the largest cryptocurrency-related court judgements awarded to an individual.

Let’s find out if AT&T is responsible for SIM-swap bungles

The ruling above resolved Terpin’s civil case against Truglia. Now, we’re set to discover (at a federal level) if telecom providers like AT&T can be held responsible when their staff are tricked into SIM-swapping plots.

According to Terpin’s press release, federal judge Otis Wright II said of AT&T’s potential negligence: “Mr. Terpin has sufficiently alleged that AT&T permitted unauthorized access to his proprietary information, specifically his account information and private communications.”

“Mr. Terpin’s claim […] seeks to declare AT&T’s wireless customer agreement as unconscionable, void against public policy, and unenforceable in its entirety,” said Terpin’s lawyers. “[Our client] alleges that as a result of these illegal contract provisions, the entire customer agreement is unenforceable because the central purpose of the agreement is tainted with illegality.”

Terpin now has 21 days to submit amendments to his lawsuit. Hard Fork has reached out to Terpin’s legal team to confirm what changes must be made, and will update this piece should we hear back.

Hunter Jones

Hunter Jones

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