On North Korea, Venezuela, Bitcoin and sanctions

The two countries see cryptocurrency as salvation against sanctions.

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Venezuela is trying to determine whether it can hold cryptocurrencies in coffers so it can use them in international transactions. And North Korea is in the early stages of developing its own.

Most of the world has restrictions on their business with North Korea and Venezuela. Largely U.S.-led, the sanctions on the two countries are meant to pressure them to address alleged human-rights issues.

That impact on North Korea has been called “crippling.” The state energy company of the oil-rich Venezuela has struggled to get paid by customers because major banks shun it.

Now they see cryptocurrency — which operates without centralized control, effectively immune to sanctions — as salvation. Venezuela’s state oil company already has a stash, indicating some customers may have paid it with digital assets.

It remains to be seen how cryptocurrency will affect geopolitics and vice-versa. But one thing is certain. The effectiveness of sanctions is fading.

Price: big dip maybe ahead after tumultuous week

Bitcoin risks extending its current drop to support near $7,500 over the next days, technical analysis suggests. Bitcoin is at $7,972 (C$10,562) as of noon Sunday, Eastern Time, down some 20 per cent since Monday, set for its biggest weekly loss of 2019. Factors cited include the lacklustre launch of a major mainstream investment backed by Bitcoin and the downturn in U.S. stocks.

Canada: TSX sued over aborted Bitcoin platform

Toronto’s Paycase, a payments provider, is suing the parent of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) for C$500 million over an aborted partnership to form a brokerage for buying and selling cryptocurrency. Paycase is founded by Joseph Weinberg, who also started Shyft, a blockchain-based platform for proving identities on the Internet.

Vancouver’s Hut 8 Mining, which used to call itself the biggest publicly listed cryptocurrency-generation company, has been conditionally approved for the TSX. It was previously on an exchange within TSX with lower listing requirements.

Kik, of Canada’s technology hub of Waterloo, Ont., is shutting its messaging app and shrinking to 19 staff to focus on fighting U.S. authorities after being accused of illegally raising millions by selling its own cryptocurrency — an “initial coin offering” (ICO).

News: as regulators probe Libra, Facebook’s Zuckerberg blinks

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is refusing to commit to the planned 2020 launch for the Libra cryptocurrency, saying: “Obviously we want to move forward at some point soon — not have this take many years.” The proposed coin faces severed regulatory scrutiny.