Bitcoin Remittances to El Salvador Surge 300% Ahead of BTC Becoming Legal Tender

Bitcoin Remittances to El Salvador Jump 300% Ahead of Law Making BTC Legal Tender

Bitcoin remittances to El Salvador jumped more than fourfold in May from the previous year, according to data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. Last week, El Salvador passed a bill making bitcoin legal tender in the country alongside the U.S. dollar.

  • The monthly bitcoin transfers of under $1,000 to El Salvador totaled $1.7 million in May, representing more than a 300% increase from $424,000 the previous year, Reuters reported, citing data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. The monthly bitcoin transfers to the country peaked in March at $2.5 million.
  • While remittances using bitcoin have soared, they are still a small portion of total remittances to the country. According to the World Bank, remittances using traditional money totaled nearly $6 billion in 2019, and about 95% of total remittances in the first quarter of this year came from Salvadorans working in the U.S.
  • El Salvador became the first country in the world to make bitcoin legal tender when its congress passed President Nayib Bukele’s bitcoin bill last week. The country is now focusing on bitcoin mining using energy from volcanoes, which aims to be “very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable” and with “0 emissions.”
  • Several organizations have voiced concerns over El Salvador’s move to make bitcoin legal tender, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which warned the country of legal and economic issues last week.
  • Ratings agency Moody’s said last week that El Salvador’s bitcoin law “carries risks for the financial system, the stability of the country’s monetary regime and signals a lack of a coherent economic framework.”
  • Meanwhile, an official with the Bank of International Settlement (BIS) called the bitcoin law in El Salvador an “interesting experiment” but said it did not change the bank’s approach to cryptocurrency. The president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, similarly said the ECB’s policy is unaffected by El Salvador’s bitcoin law.

What do you think about the rise in bitcoin remittances to El Salvador? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Crypto Cyberthreats Spike This Year With Russia Hit the Hardest, Report Reveals

Crypto Cyberthreats Spike This Year With Russia Hit the Hardest, Report Reveals

Cyberthreats related to cryptocurrencies have increased with rising demand for the digital assets, a study has concluded. Russia, Thailand and Peru are the most affected countries by malicious attacks designed to exploit the heightened interest in decentralized money, the authors point out.

Booming Crypto Markets Bring Out Cybercriminals

Despite the ongoing Covid pandemic still leading the headlines around the world, the topic has lost some prominence in the cyberthreat landscape since the beginning of this year. At the same time, threats related to cryptocurrencies have increased alongside rising crypto prices over the past few months, shows a recent report by ESET.

Mainstream acceptance, including by celebrities and executives like famous American rapper Snoop Dogg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has also contributed to the growing appeal of crypto assets. “Booming cryptocurrencies bring out cybercriminals,” the company emphasized in the study, released earlier this month and quoted by RT on Monday.

Crypto Cyberthreats Spike This Year With Russia Hit the Hardest, Report Reveals

Crypto-related threats started to grow in the second half of 2020 and continued to increase in the first four months of 2021. This particular malware category expanded by 18.6%, with two spikes related to cryptocurrency miners in February and April. Noting that major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) have reached their all-time highs during the period, researchers commented:

The upward trend comes as no surprise, since recent months have seen cryptocurrencies dramatically increase in value, becoming much more tempting for cybercriminals.

The Russian Federation is the country that has suffered the most from cyber threats related to cryptocurrencies this year, accounting for 8.9% of all attacks. G7 leaders recently called on the government in Moscow to identify those who abuse cryptocurrency in ransomware attacks, as Bitcoin.com News reported. Russia is followed closely by Thailand, with 5.6% of the detections, and Peru comes in third with 5.3%.

Miners Drive Growth in Crypto-related Cyberthreats

Cryptocurrency mining software has been the driving force behind the growth of cryptocurrency threats, ESET said. According to the cybersecurity firm, this type of malware, including cryptojacking attacks, increased this year by 22% compared to the last four months of 2020.

Meanwhile, the share of crypto stealers dropped by 28%. Malicious software in this category often targets the biggest, most established cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH), the mining of which is not as profitable anymore. ESET has registered a significant increase in attacks involving ETH. Cybercriminals spreading mining software usually target smaller coins that have only recently become popular.

According to Igor Kabina, ESET Senior Detection Engineer, crypto-related criminality in the cyber space remains closely tied to ransomware as well. The increasing value of cryptocurrency, which the expert says is the go-to means of payment in such attacks, motivates perpetrators to create more ransomware. “This is because the relative anonymity offered by the cryptocurrency trading market enables threat actors to increase their profits without taking unnecessary risks,” the cybersecurity expert elaborated.

Have you been targeted in cyberattacks related to cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Subcontractors and Builders Located in China’s Xiong’an New Area Are Being Paid in Digital Yuan 

Subcontractors and Builders Located in China's Xiong'an New Area Are Being Paid in Digital Yuan

Xiong’an New Area, a state-level new area in Hebei, China, is seeing the use of onchain digital yuan payments, according to a circular issued by the Xiong’an government. The announcement details that Xiong’an subcontractors and builders are being paid using the central bank digital currency (CBDC) via the People’s Bank of China and the new area’s development management committee.

Xiong’an New Area Pays Contractors in Digital Yuan

It seems workers in the state-level new area in Hebei, China also known as Xiong’an New Area, are being paid with China’s CBDC. Xiong’an government officials published a circular which described the project’s testing goals. According to the announcement, the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) Shijiazhuang office and the new area’s development management committee are involved in the wage pilot system.

The statement stemming from the Xiong’an New Area, which explains its paying builders in onchain digital yuan payments, follows the recent statements from the director-general of the PBOC’s Digital Currency Research Institute.

The Xiong’an New Area is bustling with contractors working on buildings, Xiong’an railway station, Beijing–Xiong’an intercity railway, expressways, G45 and G18, spring afforestation projects, and Beijing Daxing International Airport.

The director-general Mu Changchun explained on Friday, at the Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai, that the digital yuan would be “inclusive.” Mu’s statements follow the recent report that shows the CBDC is not seeing wide acceptance in China.

The PBOC’s Digital Currency Research Institute director-general stressed on Friday that the digital yuan will be able to leverage all kinds of wallet software and physical payment vehicles as well. Mu remarked that the different wallets will satisfy the unique types of Chinese residents utilizing the CBDC. China’s central bank has also launched even more ‘red envelope’ digital yuan lotteries in Beijing and Shanghai. Hong Kong will also be able to connect with the digital yuan as well, according to a recent report.

Xiong’an New Area has always been considered a “millennium strategy,” since it was introduced by the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China in 2014. The Xiong’an government’s circular explains that builders in the region are being paid wages via the Blockchain Fund Payment Platform. The new area has an abundance of workers building at work sites like the Beijing–Xiong’an intercity railway and Xiong’an railway station.

Vast amounts of city-wide construction takes place in Xiong’an, as the new area saw a flood of Beijing investors purchase real estate in the region in recent years. This caused a housing bubble in the Xiong’an New Area and local officials imposed a temporary ban on new real estate sales. The digital yuan trial is aimed at paying wages to the development sector by “comprehensively improving service capabilities and optimizing service experience,” the circular notes.

The first set of digital yuan payments have been directed at the contractors working at spring afforestation projects in Xiong’an. The Bank of Hebei is also collaborating with the digital yuan trial members in Xiong’an. A rough translation of the circular further describes the digital yuan appropriation from a subcontractor’s public wallet to the builder’s private digital wallet in batches. The protocol “greatly simplifies the intermediate payment process, and significantly improving the efficiency of wage payment.”

What do you think about the Xiong’an New Area piloting the digital yuan with contractor payments? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

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