•XRP rose 80 percent Friday after struggling as one of the worst performing top cryptocurrencies this year.
•Its market capitalization is now at roughly $26.8 billion, surpassing ethereum as the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, according to data from CoinMarketCap.com.
•Investors are “buying the news” that payment company Ripple is close to launching a new product for banks that relies on the use of XRP, says Joe DiPasquale, CEO of cryptocurrency fund of hedge funds BitBull Capital.
Kate Rooney | @Kr00ney
Published 1:53 PM ET Fri, 21 Sept 2018 | Updated 11:48 PM ET Fri, 21 Sept 2018 CNBC.com
One of the worst performing cryptocurrencies this year is making a comeback.
XRP rose more than 80 percent Friday to a high of 77 cents, bringing its gains this week to 185 percent, according to data from CoinMarketCap.com. Its market capitalization jumped to roughly $26.8 billion, surpassing ethereum as the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency behind bitcoin.
Often mistakenly called “Ripple,” XRP has fared the worst of the top cryptocurrencies this year. At one point this summer, it was down more than 90 percent from the high.
Ripple is a fintech company that focuses on global payments, and holds the majority of XRP the cryptocurrency. XRP is a cryptocurrency, independent of the company, that can be used on Ripple’s platforms.
The upward move was spurred by rumors of a new product. An executive at Ripple told CNBC this week that the start-up was making headway with its xRapid product, aimed at helping banks speed up transactions by using the cryptocurrency XRP.
“I am very confident that in the next one month or so you will see some good news coming in where we launch the product live in production,” Sagar Sarbhai, head of regulatory relations for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East at Ripple told CNBC Monday.
Ripple describes its xRapid product as using XRP as “bridge” between currencies, which executives say allows payment providers and banks to process faster cross-border transactions.
Joe DiPasquale, CEO of cryptocurrency fund of hedge funds BitBull Capital pointed to the xRapid news as a positive for the cryptocurrency’s price recovery.
“People are definitely buying the news,” he said. “This is another case of Ripple showing its dominance in real world relationships with financial companies, and yet another spike in XRP’s price because of it.”
The company has struck deals with various high-profile financial institutions, including Santander and American Express. But those partnerships have so far been mostly focused on another product called xCurrent.
Ripple’s Sarbhai said that more than 120 banks are currently partnered with Ripple, using the blockchain-based product xCurrent. Firms testing the product include money transfer giants Western Union and MoneyGram and payment upstarts MercuryFX, Viamericas and Cuallix.
Ripple’s xCurrent is used by banks to settle international transactions and is used to confirm each stage of a cross-border payment in real-time, according to the company.
This week, U.S. banking giant PNC announced it would use Ripple’s blockchain technology for cross-border transactions like wire transfers, but it won’t be using the cryptocurrency XRP.
Despite the partnerships, XRP has a long way to recover to this year’s highs above $3.60 in January. It’s still down
The Supreme Court in Greece has ruled today that the owner of a shady Bitcoin exchange platform through which ransomware operators laundered cyber-crime money will be extradited to Russia, instead of the US or France, countries which also requested the hacker’s extradition.
The suspect at the center of this tug-of-war is Alexander Vinnik, also known under the nickname of “Mr. Bitcoin,” and the owner of the BTC-e.com cryptocurrency exchange.
US authorities shut down BTC-e in July 2017. Vinnik was arrested the same month by Greek police while vacationing in a seaside resort in the country’s northern Halkidiki region.
Also: Kelihos botnet operator jailed for account theft, ID trading in the Dark Web
The US requested Vinnik’s extradition on a case involving 21 charges related to money laundering and the operation of an unlicensed money exchange. Vinnik faced a combined maximum sentence of up to 35 years in prison, along with various fines, in the US case alone.
As soon as Vinnik’s arrest became public, Russia filed an extradition claim of their own. Russian authorities said Vinnik was also a suspected in an investigation in Russia in relation to a €9,500 ($11,000) fraud charge. Details about the case remained murky.
France filed its own extradition claim in June 2018, for involvement in “cybercrime, money laundering, and membership in a criminal organization and extortion.”
Greek judges waivered in the case at every turn and with every appeal. They initially agreed to extradite Vinnik to the US, then to France over the summer, then to Russia at the start of September.
The case eventually reached Greece’s Supreme Court, and today, it was decided that Vinnik should face charges in Russia, the suspect’s native country, and where he expressed his desire to be trialed, mainly because of the thinner charges brought against him.
Also: Blockchain betting app mocks competitor for getting hacked. Gets hacked four days later
On the same day Greek authorities were arresting Vinnik, a team of researchers that also included Google staffers, presented findings at the Black Hat USA 2017 security conference, revealing that 95 percent of all ransomware ransom payments were cashed out and converted into fiat currency through Vinnik’s BTC-e portal.
Also on the same day, a group of Bitcoin security specialists calling themselves WizSec published the results of an investigation that linked Vinnik’s Bitcoin accounts to laundering funds stolen from the Mt. Gox exchange.
Researchers said that Vinnik was also involved in laundering funds stolen from other cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Bitcoinica, Bitfloor, and other platforms they did not name at the time.
US authorities said in an indictment that Vinnik’s platform helped launder over $4 billion in illegal funds. BTC-e’s website, before it went down, claimed to have handled over $7 billion during its lifetime.
Vinnik extradition to Russia is now in the hands of the Greek Justice Minister. The Minister can decline to sign, although, state officials rarely overrule justice systems on these decisions.
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Put plainly, W-ETH is “wrapped ETH” but let’s start by introducing the players.
FIRST, THERE’S ETHER TOKEN
Ether or ETH is the native currency built on the Ethereum blockchain.
SECOND, THERE ARE ALT TOKENS
When a dApp (decentralized app) is built off of the Ethereum Blockchain it usually implements it’s own form of Token. Think Augur’s REP Token, or Bancor’s BNT Token.
FINALLY THE ERC-20 STANDARD
ERC20 is a standard developed after the release of ETH that defines how tokens are transferred and how to keep a consistent record of those transfers among tokens in the Ethereum Network.
WHY YOU NEED W-ETH
ETH DOESN’T CONFORM TO ITS OWN ERC20 STANDARD.
As mentioned above, ETH was the proto-token of the Ethereum Alt tokens, which means it was built before the ERC20 standard existed.
WRAPPING ETH ALLOWS YOU TO TRADE DIRECTLY WITH ALT TOKENS.
The reason you need W-ETH is to be able to trade ETH for other ERC20 tokens on decentralized platforms like Radar Relay. Because decentralized platforms running on Ethereum use smart contracts to facilitate trades directly between users, every user needs to have the same standardized format for every token they trade. This ensures tokens don’t get lost in translation.
READY TO WRAP?
SO THIS IS AWKWARD…YOU DON’T ACTUALLY WRAP ANYTHING.
When you “wrap” ETH, you aren’t really wrapping so much as trading via a smart contract for an equal token called W-ETH. If you want to get plain ETH back you need to “unwrap” it. AKA trade it back for plain ETH.
WHATEVER, JUST GIVE ME THE W-ETH!
Go to Radar Relay or 0x OTC to use their interface. Once you have the WETH you can freely trade with anyone holding an ERC-20 token.
THE FUTURE OF W-ETH
HOPEFULLY, THERE’S NO FUTURE FOR W-ETH.
Steps are being taken to update the ETH codebase to make it compliant with it’s own ERC20 standards. Weird, we know. Additionally, ERC20 may be replaced by other standards as problems and solutions arise. There’s already a ERC223 in the works.
Put your WETH to work on Radar Relay.
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