- Bitcoin trading soars as Venezuela locks down
- IT firm offers ransomware assistance pro bono
- Blockchain could save the pharmaceutical industry a fortune
- Bitcoin crash caused by institutional investors, says study
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro placed the entire country under quarantine earlier this week in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While the national banking network has shut down in response to the virus, bitcoin trading saw its biggest spike of the year. At the end of February, volume was around 491 BTC, but rose last week to 540.
Venezuela isn’t the only Latin American country seeing a rise in Bitcoin. As other countries heighten security to slow the progress of coronavirus, crypto trading is increasing.
“At the same time, throughout Latin America, other countries (with the exception of Brazil) are becoming increasingly cautious with regard to the new coronavirus. Countries such as Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, and Paraguay have closed their borders, and much of the population within these nations have been forced to stay in their homes under quarantine.”
“And, likewise, crypto trading volume in a few of these nations appears to be on the rise. In Colombia, for example, Bitcoin trading volume went from 289 BTC to 403 BTC in just one week in the midst of the pandemic, which are figures not seen in the country since mid-2019. In Argentina, traders broke the weekly barrier of 50 BTC—a milestone that has been reached fewer than 10 times in the last three years.”
Earlier this week, cybersecurity firm Emsisoft joined with incident response company Coveware to offer ransomware-related services at no cost to healthcare providers. While healthcare providers are always at risk for such attacks, the speed with which the coronavirus has spread could leave them especially vulnerable.
“Emsisoft also suggests that this year, the spike could be more pronounced than usual due to potential system vulnerabilities introduced by the hastily-introduced remote work environments and staffing shortages.
Brett Callow, an Emsisoft threat analyst told Cointelegraph that, in the vast majority of ransomware incidents, the attack vector is an email or an improperly secured remote access solution, adding:
‘We’re anticipating an increase in ransomware incidents which could be significantly in excess of the typical seasonal spikes and, unfortunately, may coincide with COVID-19’s peak. A perfect storm.’
At the end of last year, Emsisoft released a report claiming that in 2019, at least 764 healthcare providers were impacted by ransomware. Now, the firm suggests that with the ongoing pandemic such attacks ‘could tip the balance and result in a significant loss of life.’”
UCLA Health and LedgerDomain, a blockchain development platform, recently announced the results of a study that suggests blockchain could save the US pharmaceutical industry $180 million a year. The study was conducted as part of a pilot program to track prescription drugs throughout the US. By 2023, all pharmacies in the country will have to comply with the Drug Supply Security Chain act, which requires drugs be verified before they’re dispensed.
“One of the Pilot Project Program’s objectives was to focus on enhanced requirements for package tracking. In turn, UCLA Health leveraged LedgerDomain’s blockchain-based mobile application, ‘BRUINchain,’ to track a prescription drug called Spinraza.
According to Taylor, BRUINchain is built on Hyperledger Fabric, an enterprise-grade, open-source distributed ledger. He explained how the platform operates:
‘By leveraging blockchain technology, BRUINchain is able to track and trace drugs as they move through a pharmacy while verifying the legitimacy of the drug with the manufacturer before being administered.’
Leveraging blockchain technology means that only a single scan is required, saving the U.S. pharmaceutical industry $180 million each year in labor costs alone. Blockchain technology would also reduce the need for pharmacies to hoard safety stock, resulting in $3.5 billion per year in savings.
While this may be the case, Taylor mentioned that the cost to implement a solution such as BRUINchain would result in a multi-billion dollar challenge for the pharmaceutical industry. ‘We learned that this current work process would cost UCLA about $5 million a year to comply with the law,’ he explained.”
Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis issued a report suggesting the recent crypto crash was the result of institutional investors dumping bitcoin in an abundance of caution.
“Chainalysis found that transfers of 10-100 and 100-1,000 BTC accounted for about 70% of all Bitcoin sent and received by crypto exchanges in recent days, which is slightly higher share than usual. Interestingly, about 10% of Bitcoin was from transfers of over 1,000 BTC.
These trends suggest that the deeper pocketed professional traders and investors were driving the market, but they were joined, both on the selling and the buying, by a large number of retail holders, the report reads.
Given the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to predict where the bitcoin market will go next, Chainalysis concluded.”
That’s the roundup for March 21, 2020. Check in next week for the latest news of cryptocurrency innovation and regulation around the world!
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