eBay Debunks Rumours: E-Retailing Site Will NOT Accept Crypto as Payment


Earlier this week, there were rumors that eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) is going to start accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment. While the e-retailing giant did not confirm these rumours at the time, many thought it was true: the company’s banners at the Consensus conference indicated so. But it’s not true. And the company has now confirmed that.

Here’s everything we know.

eBay Accepting Crypto? Nope

It’s no secret that the list of companies that have started to accept cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, as payment is growing. And at a rapid pace, might we add. But not everyone is jumping on this train, despite rumours saying so. One company is eBay, which said yesterday, according to Bloomberg, that it is not accepting, nor is it planning to accept cryptocurrencies as a method of payment.

“Cryptocurrency is not accepted as a form of payment on the eBay platform, nor is it part of our payments strategy,” explained a spokesperson for the San Jose, California company.

Of course, this might come as a disappointment to some. When you combine this week’s increase in crypto prices with the company’s reach, in addition to its “Virtual Currency. It’s happening on eBay” billboards, one might have been convinced the rumors were true.

Then again, not everyone seems disappointed. After all, EBAY stock didn’t plunge on the market today. In fact, EBAY stock closed the day up 0.65%. 

Never Say Never

Some companies don’t like to announce things too fast. Just because crypto payments are not part of eBay’s payments strategy right now doesn’t mean it won’t ever be. The company is clearly aware of the potentials of the industry, so we have to think it is not ousting the idea entirely. 

What do you think? Do you think eBay should start accepting cryptocurrencies as a method of payment? Let us know in the comments below! 

Featured image: DepositPhotos 

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SFOX Crypto Volatility Report May 2019: Uncertain

SFOX determines the monthly value of this index by using proprietary, quantifiable indicators to analyze three market factors: price momentummarket sentiment, and continued advancement of the sector. It is calculated using a proprietary formula that combines quantified data on search traffic, blockchain transactions, and moving averages. The index ranges from highly bearish to highly bullish.

While the crypto market as a whole recovered substantially in May 2019, the overall sentiment appears to be at a tipping point: especially in the wake of the explosive late-2017 rally, it’s not clear in times of rapid growth how much of the growth is due to underlying fundamentals and how much is due to “fear of missing out,” or “FOMO.” This may be why the growth we’ve seen lately has been accompanied by renewed volatility and substantial swings in the prices of leading cryptoassets such as BTC.

Analysis of May 2019 Crypto Performance

In May of 2019, market movements suggested that investors may be eyeing BTC as a hedge against the S&P 500 and other markets tumbled amid trade disputes. At the same time, unexpected events on particular cryptocurrency exchanges indicated that, while the crypto market has come a long way in terms of maturing infrastructure, it still has further to go.

BTC’s nearly perfect negative correlation with the S&P 500 suggests that some traders may be using it as a hedge amidst ongoing global trade disputes (May 13th-May 31st).

May marked one of the most tumultuous months for global markets in recent history as U.S.-China trade relations continued to strain. On Monday the 13th, as China announced that it would raise tariffs on roughly $60 billion of U.S. goods, the S&P 500 fell 1.7% and the Chinese yuan reached a four-month low. At the same time, BTC rose 7%, from $7158.34 to $7679.21. From that point onward in the month, BTC approached a nearly perfect negative correlation with the S&P 500, while its correlations with leading altcoins became almost perfectly positive:

These correlation data corroborate the view that some investors may be using BTC as a hedge against global markets. BTC’s typically low correlation with other markets may make it appealing to some as such a hedge, and the fact that altcoins followed BTC during this time suggests that those investors using crypto as a serious hedge may still be defaulting to BTC, despite the continued maturation of the crypto sector beyond BTC. This highlights the potential for BTC to function as a unique hybrid of gold’s status as a store of value and the S&P 500’s status as a risk asset.

Broader market movements may have overshadowed ETF news (May 15th & May 20th).

Last month, the SFOX Volatility Report commented that anticipated SEC responses around the two Bitcoin ETF proposals — the Bitwise proposal and the VanEck proposal — could potentially impact the market, as ETF news had done in the past. This didn’t end up being the case: when the SEC postponed its decision on the Bitwise ETF proposal with a five-week public comment period, the volume-weighted average price of BTC only moved 0.7%, from $8010 to $8069; when the SEC postponed the VanEck/SolidX ETF proposal and requested additional comments on the proposal, the volume-weighted average price of BTC only move 0.3%, from $7910 to $7936. This may suggest that, despite the substantial “hype” around Bitcoin ETF approval, the market doesn’t care about a Bitcoin ETF as much as it cares, for instance, about BTC’s utility as a hedge against global markets. Alternatively — or additionally — the probability of ETF approval may have already been “baked into” market prices.

Individual exchange gaffes underscored the need of the crypto sector to continue maturing (May 7th & May 17th).

On May 7th, Binance announced that hackers had stolen 7000 BTC, or about $40 million, from them — though Binance was able to use its emergency insurance fund to prevent users’ funds from being affected, and BTC’s volume-weighted average price was minimally impacted. On the other hand, on May 17th, the price of BTC fell 10% from $8002.08 to $7191.58 — a “flash crash” that was broadly attributed to a below-market sell order of 5000 BTC for $6200 on Bitstamp. That the Binance hack didn’t crash BTC’s price demonstrates that the crypto market’s infrastructure has matured since the days of major hacks such as Mt. Gox — but the Bitstamp order shows that the market still has a ways to go in terms of a single exchange’s outsized impact on the asset class.

What to Watch in June 2019

Look to these events as potentially moving the volatility indices of BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, BSV, and ETC in June:

Continued movement in trade relations and traditional markets.

If the thesis is correct that BTC traders are hedging against the S&P 500 and other global markets, then further news about trade relations could theoretically impact crypto as well.

Bitcoin 2019 in San Francisco (June 25th-26th).

While May was the major month for New York crypto conferences, this major conference on the west coast will bring together a diverse set of speakers including Edward Snowden, Tim Draper, Daniel Buchner, Jihan Wu, and Lily Liu. While New York is the historic center of finance, Silicon Valley has had a keen interest in crypto for a long time, so this conference could have a potentially high impact.

CME BTC futures last-trade date and BitMEX XBTM19 expiration date (June 28th).

Crypto volatility typically moves around the time of futures expirations. With CBOE having backed off from BTC futures, for the time being, the date of CME and BitMEX’s futures expirations may potentially impact volatility more than usual.

The Details: May 2019 Crypto Price, Volatility, and Correlation Data

Price Performance: A Steady Surge

BTC opened the month of May at $5306.16. It closed the month at $8350.13, representing an increase of over 57%. Every crypto asset tracked by this report closed May with positive month-over-month growth, whereas gold and the S&P 500 closed the month down from April.

TruSet teams with imbrex for residential real estate contract blockchain platform

Imbrex a real estate listing platform, and TruSet, a blockchain platform specializing in the collection of high-quality reference data, have announced a partnership to collect and curate real estate contracts for each state using blockchain technology.

Imbrex’s real estate transaction closing room, Escrow Commons, is a transparent closing room where individuals on the buying and selling side of a real estate transaction can exchange transaction documents, clearly identify and assign action items, and process escrow, deposits and transaction funds.

In the residential real estate industry, states use unique standards for purchase and sale agreements (PSAs). Some states, such as California and Colorado, do not require attorney involvement and contracts are standardized by local governments. In other states, like New York, where legal representation is more customary, contract frameworks vary.

This lack of standardization creates confusion and inefficiencies in real estate markets and provides a tremendous opportunity for the large group of technologists and real estate agents around the country to curate the contracts using community consensus. Imbrex will utilize the TruSet community-curated purchase and sale agreements for each U.S. state.

“By aggregating the top purchase and sale agreements in all 50 states, imbrex will leverage OpenLaw markup language and convert the contracts to dynamic smart contract code. The result will be a set of carefully vetted contracts that can be customized to reflect the individual deal. Agents will be able to list, obtain a qualified lead, choose from customizable contracts and process the transaction efficiently. In addition, imbrex plans to open source the agreements so that the entire real estate industry can benefit from this partnership.”

Stephen King, Founder of imbrex

“TruSet’s proven track record and understanding of data collection and curation models make this an ideal partnership. Our cooperation will provide a consensus-driven set of real estate agreements that can be translated into code then used for real estate transactions. The teams will release a detailed report outlining our results at the end of the pilot trial.”

Will Janensch, Founder of TruSet

Algorand sets date for auction to launch network as tokens enter circulation

On June 19th, 2019, The Algorand Foundation will hold its first in a series of Dutch Auctions out of Singapore. These auctions will allow Algos, the native tokens of Algorand, the PoS blockchain protocol, to enter circulation via a mechanism where the market determines the fair price.

The Algorand Foundation believes in the value of the Algorand platform, the Algo, and the potential for everyone to have an opportunity as we enter a new, borderless economy. With a goal of investing in the sustainability and performance of that economy, the foundation has also announced a refund policy for auction participants. Should any participant be dissatisfied with their purchase of Algos, they may return their Algos back to the foundation one-year post-purchase at up to 90 percent of the value paid.

For the first auction, 25 million Algos will be available at a starting price of $10.00 USD and a reserve price of $0.10 USD. The auction will last for 4,000 blocks (about 5 hours), all bids will be posted to and processed from the Algorand blockchain for transparency and Algos will be distributed after the close of the auction.

Details from the foundation regarding token dynamics can be found at algorand.foundation/token-dynamics.

  • Who: The Algorand Foundation invites eligible participants to register and join the auction.
  • When: The auction starts Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at 6 PM Singapore Standard Time.
  • Where: The auction will be conducted on the Algorand blockchain at https://auctions.algorand.foundation.
  • How: To participate in the first Algorand Foundation auction, users need to complete the registration process, including creating an account, completing compliance checks, funding a USD wallet and creating or importing an Algo wallet. These steps may take several days to finalize before bidding is possible.

Please note that participation in auctions is not possible for the following excluded jurisdictions: United States of America and its territories, Canada, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Republic of Crimea, People’s Republic of China, and jurisdictions in which the auctions and/or trading of the tokens themselves are prohibited, restricted or unauthorized in any form or manner whether in full or in part under the laws, regulatory requirements or rules in such jurisdiction.

Waves enterprise blockchain platform Vostok goes live

Vostok, a universal technological solution for scalable digital infrastructure developed by Waves, announced today that the main network of the platform has launched at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Partners and clients of the project will now be able to build their own nodes of the main network, as well as private subnets. This will allow them to use all the features of the Vostok blockchain network, while storing their data exclusively in their own IT systems. The main network is used only for the validation of transactions.

The launch of our platform at the international economic forum in St. Petersburg is symbolic, because, on the one hand, it is the final link in creating the infrastructure for our work in Russia, and on the other, the first step to starting international expansion.”

Alexander Ivanov, General Director and founder of Waves and Vostok project

Vostok promised to launch the blockchain platform in the first half of 2019 in December 2018 after closing the first round of financing, during which the project attracted $120 million from a group of foreign and Russian investors at a total valuation of $600 million.

Today, Vostok cooperates with major Russian corporate and government customers: Sberbank, Transmashholding, Vnesheconombank, Rostec and Nizhny Novgorod region. In addition, an agreement with the National Information Center allows you to comfortably and quickly implement Vostok products from potential customers.

The “Gorod N” project for initiative budgeting became the first blockchain solution in the field of public administration, implemented in the framework of cooperation with the Nizhny Novgorod region.

Simultaneously with the launch of the main network, 1 billion Vostok system tokens were released. These use the Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm and are an integral part of the platform, ensuring it operates correctly.

Vostok is comprised of two constituent elements:

  • a fundamental technological innovation (the Vostok digital platform)
  • a facilitator of its maintenance, development, and optimization (the Vostok system integrator). The main purpose of the project is to form the basis of the digital infrastructure for certification, registration and data tracking, and to make new technologies easy-to-use in business and public administration.

New Augur version promotes more liquid and valid prediction markets

The developers of Augur, a decentralized trading and betting protocol, just released a new version of the app that promotes more liquid markets and counteracts bad actors. The new version of the app released this week adds strong filters to help protect users from invalid market scams and redefines how markets are sorted in order to promote more liquid and legitimate markets.

Since Augur’s initial launch last summer, one or more bad actors have created and profited off illegitimate markets at the expense of unsuspecting traders. These markets appeared legitimate but had subtle gotchas that rendered them Invalid due to ambiguous or unverifiable terms. Bad actors bought cheap shares that netted a profit once the markets were deemed invalid.

Augur lets people trade and create prediction markets on any outcomes in the world, from political elections and sports to future asset prices.

A new liquidity-based sort ranks markets based on their depth-weighted spread. The sort favors markets that contain order books with tight spreads and heavy bid and ask volume. It simulates buying and selling shares and calculates how much the trader would recoup. Markets where users could buy and sell greater volume while recouping the same threshold rank higher.

The sort makes the markets that are the most useful to traders, the most visible and incentivizes market makers to create tight spreads. It also hides the Invalid scam markets where traders could incur the greatest losses.

An additional invalid filter excludes markets that have no bids or asks that would incur a loss for the order creators in the case of Invalid resolution. The presence of such orders is a signal that a market is valid, since one or more rational actors would have filled them already if the market were Invalid.

Augur, one of the first protocols built on the Ethereum blockchain, lets people trade on any assets or events in the world with unlimited stakes and for low fees. Since Augur is peer-to-peer, nobody has custody over users funds. Augur currently denominates trades in Ether, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency. In upcoming Augur v2, the first major upgrade, traders will use a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. Dollar.

Augur v2

npm thwarts malware attempt, helps Komodo protect $13 million in crypto assets

On Tuesday, June 4, the npm, Inc. security team, in collaboration with Komodo, helped protect over $13 million in cryptocurrency assets after finding and responding to a malware threat targeting the users of a cryptocurrency wallet called Agama. The attack focused on getting a malicious package into the build chain for Agama and stealing the wallet seeds and other login passphrases used within the application.

The attack was carried out by using a pattern that is becoming more and more popular: the attacker published a “useful” package (electron-native-notify) to the npm registry, waited until it was in use by the target, and then updated it to include a malicious payload.

npm, Inc.’s internal security tooling team identified the threat and immediately responded by notifying and coordinating with Komodo to protect their users, as well as removing the malware from npm. The Komodo cybersecurity team used the same exploit to gain control of the affected seeds and secure the funds at risk, sweeping approximately 8 million KMD and 96 BTC from the vulnerable wallets.

npm operates the world’s largest public registry of reusable, open source library packages. The JavaScript community as a whole has published more than one million packages to the registry to make them easily discoverable and freely accessible. More than 11 million JavaScript developers worldwide make 40 billion registry requests per month. Ninety-seven percent of the code in a typical web application is downloaded from the npm public registry.

The safety and security of this vast resource is critical to the JavaScript community-at-large, and to all of the applications that depend on it. While the primary defense against bad actors and malicious code is policing by the community itself, npm Inc. as operator of the registry has a unique role with valuable insights into security threats and code vulnerabilities. The continuous research and vigilance of npm’s 24/7 security team provides an additional layer of defense by detecting potential vulnerabilities the moment they are published and taking swift action to alert the community to risks. npm also provides mitigation strategies before downstream users and customers are compromised.

“The npm, Inc. team handled this vulnerability disclosure in an exemplary manner by providing us details that allowed the Komodo team to intervene and to significantly minimize the damage and potential impact. We would like to thank all involved parties for this commendable collaboration and look forward to future collaborations.”

Kadan Stadelmann, chief technology officer of Komodo

Below is a video and brief demonstration showing the Agama wallet sending a wallet seed to a remote server:

  • After launching the wallet application on the left, the user will see a request to a remote server hosted on Heroku on the right which downloads the second stage payload.
  • Once in the wallet seed, the user will see another request to that remote Heroku server successfully stealing the wallet seed.

Users of npm will be automatically notified via npm audit if they encounter this malicious dependency in their projects.

npm audit performs moment-in-time security reviews of a project’s dependency tree, and can help fix security vulnerabilities by providing simple-to-run npm commands and recommendations for further troubleshooting. npm audit is fully backed by reports from the community and independent research performed by the npm security team.

“The npm registry is the supplier of much of the world’s JavaScript, so we see packages before anybody else, with a context that nobody else has. That means our security team can often spot things no one else can. And when we do, we immediately take action.”

Adam Baldwin, vice president of security, npm, Inc.

Blockchain secured voting platform Voatz raises $7 million

Voatz, a mobile voting and citizen engagement platform, announced today that it has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Medici Ventures and Techstars with participation from Urban Innovation Fund and Oakhouse Partners.

The Voatz platform uses biometrics, encryption and blockchain technology to increase convenience, security, and auditability to election systems.

The company plans to leverage the funds to enhance the accessibility and usability of its technology, and to grow its security footprint as it launches new pilot programs with states, cities and select international jurisdictions.

In addition to the pilot programs with Denver and West Virginia, Voatz has partnered with state political parties, universities, labor unions, church groups and nonprofits to administer elections using its platform.

In March 2019, the company announced a new pilot program with the City and County of Denver, CO to expand absentee voting for deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens during the city’s 2019 municipal elections, which concluded successfully earlier this week.

Last year, Voatz also conducted a successful pilot with 24 counties in West Virginia during the 2018 Midterm Elections where deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens leveraged the platform to cast their ballots. This pilot represented the first time that mobile voting secured by a blockchain-based infrastructure had ever been used in a US Federal Election.

“We are delighted and grateful for the continued support of our existing and new investors to help us accelerate the development and deployment of our technology. We are committed to the steady progress of mobile voting backed by blockchain technology to improve our election infrastructure and make remote voting more accessible and safer.”

Voatz Co-Founder & CEO Nimit Sawhney

“Voting is a great application of blockchain technology. What Voatz is doing to allow more registered voters to participate remotely in elections in a safe and secure way is important. It bodes well for more widespread adoption of the Voatz application. That’s one reason we’ve increased our investment in the company by leading this Series A round.”

Medici Ventures President Jonathan Johnson

“Techstars has been impressed with the vision and drive demonstrated by the Voatz team since their participation in the Techstars Boston Accelerator in 2017. We are thrilled to continue to support Voatz on their mission to modernize the technology of voting and to improve the voting experience for constituents around the world.”

Techstars Partner Cody Simms

Tokenization platform BlockState to issue its own digitized equity

The Swiss security tokenization provider BlockState, today has announced that it will launch its asset tokenization platform issuing its own digitized company equity. The announcement comes shortly after BlockState unveiled one of its first clients to conduct an STO, the European urban music promoter Streetlife International. BlockState’s digital company shares will be on public sale starting June 18th, 2019.

BlockState will showcase the entire security tokenization and investment process from start to finish, enabling institutional, professional and retail investors to participate in a public equity round.

It is being backed by international investors from the finance industry and advisors from leading companies including Airbnb, Google, Credit Suisse, and Pictet. Patrick Storchenegger, Swiss notary and board member of the Ethereum Foundation, acted as the legal architect. BlockState will enable both institutional and retail investors to participate in the public offering of €2 million to fund further technical and business development activities.

“Issuing our company equity on our own platform really demonstrates the value of tokenization for SMEs and other non-bankable assets. The ease with which issuers and investors can be connected compared to the complex, bloated value chains of traditional capital markets is nothing short of disruptive. We are thrilled to see our own issuance become an example case for the wider market and are even more excited about the trust placed in us by the many international clients in our pipeline.”

Paul Claudius, co-founder and CEO of BlockState

Tokenization: the new standard for fundraising infrastructure

BlockState addresses the inefficient access to capital markets, which according to data from the Bank of International Settlement affects 54 percent of assets worldwide. Security tokenization enables entrepreneurs and asset holders to access capital markets at significantly reduced costs, breaking down barriers to entry for issuers as well as investors.

Security tokens are digital representations of existing regulated financial products. Using blockchain technology and smart contracts, security tokens can be programmed to enable shareholder rights like dividends and voting without the need for costly intermediaries. Security tokens can be issued at low cost and split indefinitely to allow smaller investment tickets. The easy and instantaneous transfer between parties paired with a growing demand for tokens on the issuer and investor side holds the promise of more efficient secondary markets.

Creating a new fundraising ecosystem

In addition to the legal and technical setup for a digital issuance and interfaces to manage investor communications and corporate actions such as dividends or votings, BlockState provides access to an ecosystem of financial service providers such as private banks and secondary markets for digital assets to directly connect issuers with investors. The BlockState solution operates on the Ethereum blockchain and is set up to accommodate interoperability with R3/Corda, to ensure compatibility for institutional investors and financial intermediaries.

EOS powered gaming challenge platform Azarus gets $1.8 million seed investment

Azarus, a “Smart Challenge” platform that offers gamers the ability to compete for digital assets in both casual and competitive gaming challenges, announced it has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Galaxy Digital via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund, Kleiner Perkins, and SVK Crypto, among others.

Launched in late 2018, Azarus’ “Smart Challenge” platform motivates players by using in-game API data and information pulled from Twitch extensions to measure victory conditions in online games, paying out rewards to the victors and their fans alike.

The “Smart Challenge” platform empowers users to create their own rules and challenges, the terms of which are notarized on the EOSIO blockchain in order to maximize transparency and fairness.

Viewers and players earn AZA credits by watching Azarus-enabled amateur and professional esports streams and answering historical or predictive questions based on the broadcasts. AZAs can be redeemed at the Azarus Marketplace in exchange for rare in-game items, digital assets, and more.

“Driving retention and engagement have become critical factors of success in online games. The Azarus challenge/reward platform gives players an added element of skin in the game, which we believe will help publishers experience higher levels of retention and engagement. This, combined with their innovative blockchain integration, makes Azarus one of the best ideas we have seen in the space.”

Bing Gordon, Partner at Kleiner Perkins

“Azarus’ implementation of blockchain tech and the EOSIO protocol is precisely what we look to invest in from the Galaxy EOS VC Fund: a scalable and consumer-friendly gaming platform that demonstrates the promise of blockchain technology. We have tremendous confidence in the team’s vision and ability to execute.”

Sam Englebardt, Co-founder & Partner of Galaxy Digital and the firm’s Co-Head of Principal Investments

“Gaming is one of the verticals that we have identified as proof points for the efficacy of blockchain technology. As one of our initial investments, we were drawn to Azarus’ platform approach and the potential for Azarus to leverage blockchain to disrupt the entire gaming ecosystem.”

Hugh Cochrane, co-founder of SVK Crypto

The close of seed funding follows a series of successful pilot tests in Ubisoft’s Entrepreneurs Lab, an international program dedicated to supporting start-ups with businesses in gaming and entertainment. As part of the program, Azarus collaborated with Ubisoft teams to conduct several successful tests with the publisher’s flagship eSports game – Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six™ Siege. Results indicated that in limited rounds with select Creators, Azarus-enabled streams saw a comparable increase in viewership and engagement metrics, as well as an increase in the frequency of gameplay by players.

“We are excited to see what opportunities blockchain can bring to players and us, world creators. This is the reason why we got interested in the technology in the first place and our collaboration with Azarus shows we are headed in the right direction to offer new engaging interactions and entertainment experiences.”

Jean Guerin, Director of Community Engagement, Ubisoft EMEA

Azarus was founded by game industry veterans Alex Casassovici, Erik Whiteford, and Andrew Lacy. With more than a decade of business experience in mobile services, cloud services, and VR devices, the team also brings to the table experience working with enduring game brands like Madden Football, NBA 2K, James Bond, Harry Potter, and World of Tanks.

“We aim to vastly improve the connection between players, creators, and publishers through the deployment of what we call Smart Challenges. By letting anyone set their own rules, stakes, and rewards, against their friends or audience, on the games they already play, we’ll unlock a new dimension to amplify the industry as a whole.”

Alex Casassovici, Co-founder & CEO of Azarus.io