Cryptocurrency Markets Rally After News of Record Bitcoin Futures Volume, Microsoft Project

The spate of auspicious news has continued over the past 24 hours in the crypto space. Among the leading stories was a partnership between Gemini and Flexa to launch a crypto payment solution that will be accepted at various world-renowned retailers. Derivatives exchange CME Group reported an all-time high record for daily bitcoin futures volume. Microsoft unveiled an early preview of a decentralized identifier network built atop the Bitcoin blockchain.

The cryptocurrency market responded favourably to what was arguably the industry’s best news day in recent memory. At the time of writing, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) are trading at $8,209.62 (+16.78%) and $212.48 (+13.18%), respectively. The MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index is currently tracking at 3,643.41, a 5.45% rise over the past 24 hours.

Flexa, Gemini Partner on Solution to Bring Bitcoin to Major Retailers

Crypto exchange and custodian Gemini partnered with Flexa to launch a real-time cryptocurrency payment system for consumers. With the use of Flexa’s SPEDN mobile wallet app, users can pay for a wide range of goods and services using either bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH), or Gemini dollars (GUSD). Among the fifteen merchant partners already integrated with Flexa’s self-named payment network are Amazon-owned Whole Foods, GameStop, Barnes & Noble, and Nordstrom. As another outcome of the partnership, Gemini will custody all cryptocurrency deposited on the SPEDN mobile app.

CME Group Celebrates Record Bitcoin Future Volumes

CME Group, the largest options and futures exchange in the world, reported its bitcoin futures product reached “an all-time record high of 33.7K contracts on May 13 (168K equivalent bitcoin), up nearly 50% from the last record of 22.5K contracts on April 4.” According to exchange volume data from Bitwise, CME Group’s daily bitcoin futures volume is, at the time of writing, $1.32 billion; a total slightly greater than the combined 24-hour trading volumes of Binance and Coinbase.

Microsoft Previews Bitcoin-Based Decentralized Identifier Network

Microsoft announced on Monday it is test-running a decentralized identifier (DID) network built atop the Bitcoin blockchain. The open-source project, known as ‘Ion’, will focus on developing protocols which allow different networks to communicate with each other, according to an announcement by the vice president of program management for Microsoft Identity Division, Alex Simons.

Bitrue Hacked: $4.5 Million in XRP and ADA Stolen, User Funds Will Be Replaced

At around 17:00 UTC on June 26 or 01:00 on June 27 in Singapore, where digital asset exchange Bitrue is based, a security breach occurred, which resulted in a loss of $4.5 million in crypto from the exchange's hot wallets.

Bitrue, which was founded in 2018, has quickly become a favorite with members of the XRP community because of the high degree of enthusiasm, support, and transparency shown by its management towards XRP. One interesting fact about Bitrue is that it supported XRP as a base currency on the day that its trading platform was launched (19 July 2018). 

At press time (07:57 UTC on June 27), visitors to the Bitrue website are greeted with this message:

Bitrue Hack Announcement.png

Around 02:16 UTC on June 27, Bitrue issued an official statement (via a series of tweets) that explained what exactly had happened, how this impacted its users, and what it was going to do next:

  • At approximately 17:00 UTC on June 26, a hacker or group of hackers "exploited a vulnerability" in the exchange's "Risk Control team's 2nd review process" to "access the personal funds of about 90 Bitrue users."
  • The hackers "used what they learned from this breach" to steal around $4.5 million in crypto—more specifically 9.3 million XRP and 2.5 million Cardano (ADA)—from the exchange's hot wallets and moved these coins to various other exchanges.
  • Shortly after the security breach, this attack was detected and trading, withdrawals, and deposits were all suspended on Bitrue, and the three exchanges where the stolen funds were moved to—Huobi Global, Bittrex, and ChangeNOW—were alerted and asked to freeze "the affected funds and accounts." Bitrue has also "contacted the relevant authorities in Singapore to assist us in tracking down the culprit and retrieving the stolen funds."
  • Because initially it was not quite clear what exactly had happened, the message shown above (about "system maintenance") was posted on the Bitrue website... Bitrue wishes to apologize for "this miscommunication" with its users.
  • Bitrue wants to reassure its users that all "heir personal funds are insured, and anybody affected by this breach will have their funds replaced by us as soon as possible."
  • Bitrue is currently "conducting an emergency inspection of the exchange and hope to be live again as soon as possible with log in & trading functionality." As for withdrawals, they will be "offline for a slightly longer period" while the investigation continues.
  • The flow of stolen XRP can be tracked via the XRP Ledger tool at Bithomp: https://bithomp.com/explorer/rwSvajJ4ZNhjgzcfaJWkEuLh4VURTFHuka

In communication with CryptoGlobe, Bitrue's support team confirmed that:

  • all user funds are "insured up to a maximum value of 1 million USD per user"; and
  • "trading should be back up within a few hours, and at that time users who were affected will already have their lost funds back in their accounts"

A few hours ago, Bitrue CEO Curis Wang posted this message on Twitter:

UPDATE (08:15 on June 27): Bitrue has just released a statement to media outlets to provide further details about this incident:

  • Of the $4.5 million in stolen crypto, 50% was "moved to private wallets," and the other 50% was moved to five crypto exchanges: Huobi, Bittrex, ChangeNOW, Exmo.me, and Coinswitch.co. The first three have frozen the stolen funds that were moved there (worth around $1.35 million). 
  • "This frozen amount should be recoverable by Bitrue in the future after working with the authorities and exchanges."
  • "After recovering the frozen assets, the net loss will be $3.15 million USD." This total "includes $1.89 million USD lost from individual user accounts, and $1.26 million USD lost from Bitrue’s own hot wallet."
  • "The funds lost by user accounts were insured and will be replaced by Bitrue as soon as the exchange resumes service."
  • "Bitrue plans to re-enable log in and trading services by midnight (Singapore time) June 27, i.e. by 16:00 UTC on June 27.
  • "Withdrawals from the exchange will not be possible until the Bitrue team is confident that any security vulnerabilities have been addressed."
  • "Bitrue will continue the planned launch of the trading of their platform token, Bitrue Coin (BTR), on Sunday 30 June 2019."
  • "Bitrue will analyze their automated systems and manual processes to identify any potential vulnerabilities and patch them before they can be exploited."

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