North Korea to Hold International Blockchain Conference in October, Report Claims

  • A new report suggests North Korea is set to hold an international blockchain conference in October.
  • Per experts cited in the report, the recluse nation is organizing it to "show off" technological capabilities.

A recently published report suggests North Korea is set to hold a blockchain-related conference in the beginning of October, in a move that experts believe is being made to “show off” technological capabilities.

According to the Stratis Times, citing a report from US-based media outlet Radio Free Asia, the hermit country is set to invite experts in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies from all over the world to attend the event, which will reportedly last two days and begin on October 1.

The conference’s attendees, per the report, will meet North Korean business officials on October 3. Notably, this would require changes in international policies as Kim Jong-un’s regime has an underdeveloped tourism industry, as visiting the country is somewhat restricted.

Countries like the US have banned their citizens from visiting the country over security issues and international sanctions that’ve recently hit the recluse nation. According to security experts the news outlet cited, the conference is being organized to “show off its capabilities regarding such technologies.”

North Korea, as CryptoGlobe covered, is often seen as a bad actor in the cryptocurrency space, as some analysts believe Kim Jong-un employs hackers to steal bitcoin from other nations to fund the regime.

Earlier this year South Korea accused the country of stealing over $530 million from its cryptocurrency exchanges in a series of attacks. At the time, North Korea was blamed for hacking the popular Bithumb exchange, a little-known local exchange called Coinus, and more.

Kim Byung-kee, a South Korean parliament member, noted the regime’s hackers were hitting South Korea cryptocurrency exchanges with phishing campaigns to gain access. He said:

North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won.

In March, former NSA officer Priscilla Moriuchi claimed North Korean hackers could’ve netted the regime over $200 million worth of cryptocurrency last year, in an effort to dilute the impact of international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear and missiles program.

Per Moriuchi, the hackers could have been able to steal an estimated 11,000 BTC at press time worth about $74.2 million, through a “cyber army.”

Galaxy Digital Sells $71.2 Million Worth of Block.one Shares for 123% Return

Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd., a New York-based full-service crypto merchant bank that provides “distinct trading”, principal investment, and asset management services, has sold a significant amount of its outstanding shares in Block.one, a Cayman Islands-registered firm focused on publishing open-source software for EOS.

Founded by prominent crypto investor Michael Novogratz, Galaxy Digital has reportedly received $71.2 million after selling its shares in the company

123% Return On Investment (ROI)

According to a press release, published on May 21, 2019, Galaxy Digital’s management finalized the transaction involving the sale of its Block.one shares on Monday (May 20, 2019). This, after receiving (and accepting) a tender offer for its position in Block.one, which was reportedly made on April 18, 2019.

As noted in the announcement, the management at Galaxy Digital revealed it made a 123% return on its invested capital in Block.one. Per the release, the digital asset merchant bank’s remaining shares in Block.one “will no longer maintain a material position.”

“Rebalancing Portfolio To Maintain Appropriate Level Of Diversification”

Commenting on the sale of its shares in Block.one, Novogratz, the CEO at Galaxy Digital, remarked: 

The acceptance of Block.one’s tender offer reflected a decision to rebalance the portfolio to maintain an appropriate level of diversification after the position increased due to its substantial outperformance relative to the remainder of the portfolio.

The release mentioned that Galaxy Digital will maintain its partnership with Block.one - as the two firms are involved in various other businesses. Notably, Galaxy Digital operates an EOS-focused venture capital fund, which assists blockchain startups that are building decentralized applications (dApps) on the EOS platform.

In June 2018, Block.one and Galaxy Digital launched a $325 million joint initiative, called the EOSIO Ecosystem Fund. As its name implies, the EOS-focused fund will be used to provide funding to various projects that are supporting the ongoing development of EOSIO, one the largest smart contract-enabled, blockchain-based development platforms.

In July 2018, Block.one had reportedly received substantial investments from Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, and Jihan Wu, the co-founder of crypto mining giant Bitmain.

Galaxy Digital’s exit appears to have come as part of Block.one’s 10% buyback program from holders of its company shares. As confirmed by Bloomberg, Block.one’s buyback offer has been valued at approximately $2.3 billion, which represents an increase of almost 66x its original value (in 2017).

Block.one is Holding 140,000 Bitcoin

During Block.one’s seed funding round in 2017, the company’s shares had been offered at $22.5 (per share). The current repurchasing price for Block.one’s company shares is about $1,500 (per share).

Currently, Block.one has around $3 billion in total assets, which includes cash and investments (as of February 2019). This, according to an email sent to Block.one’s shareholders on March 19, 2019. The software developer is also holding approximately 140,000 Bitcoin (BTC), currently valued at $1.12 billion, in its treasury.