Autor Cointelegraph By Aaron Wood

In Georgia, crypto is a crucial tool for refugees escaping the war

I arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia, near Russia’s southern border, in late February — just a few days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine. I had been reporting on crypto and blockchain from St. Petersburg, but after the war started, staying there had become untenable. During my first week in the city, I searched for an apartment to rent and for ways to set up a basic bank account.I went to a major branch of the Bank of Georgia, the second-largest private bank in the country, next to Liberty Square in the city center. The bank had only been open for an hour, but it was already full of people waiting to meet with a banker.As I entered, a visibly frazzled teller at a help desk asked me point blank, “Russian?” I said no but that I wanted to open a bank account. She handed me an application form, a piece of receipt paper with a number on it, and told me to wait my turn.While I waited, filling out the bank application, I noticed that no one who was holding a red passport — i.e., a Russian passport — had been handed application forms. I watched Russian clients approach the bank windows. Each was invariably handed a long list of required documents they must produce in order to open a standard bank account with a debit card. The list included six months’ worth of transaction records, translations of passports, and a copy of a work contract.I began to worry because, as far as I was aware from my own research, none of this was previously required. As I approached the window, the banker reflexively reached for a copy of the list of required documents — until I showed my American passport. Within a half-hour, my application was processed, and the banker told me to stop by the next day to pick up my card.Your papers, pleaseMoney issues are further complicating the lives of Russians and Belarusians who have come to Georgia to escape draconian crackdowns at home. Telegram channels devoted to Russians relocated abroad are flooded with questions about how and when people were able to move their money.Sanctions from major banks, payments firms and card issuers such as Mastercard and Visa, in addition to strong capital controls at home, have left Russians in Georgia with little means to access their savings in Russian banks. They face further difficulties at Georgian banks, where once relatively lax requirements for opening a bank account have been replaced by intensive Know Your Customer procedures for hopeful clients. Reports surfaced on social media of some banks requiring Russian and Belarusian applicants to make sworn statements that Russia is the aggressor in an illegal war on Ukraine, recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as parts of Georgia, and swear to counteract propaganda.Given recent laws about “anti-Russian propaganda” and disseminating misinformation about the “special operation” in Ukraine, signing such a statement could constitute a crime if the signatory returned home to Russia.Crypto without questionsSome Russian friends who know I work in crypto media asked me if there was any way to use crypto to access their funds.Buying crypto is still largely unregulated in Russia, with small exchanges requiring only very basic KYC procedures, if they require them at all. And since any transactions via bank card still happen within Russian territory, residents needn’t worry about sanctions on credit card companies when buying crypto on a local exchange.These small exchanges were quick to catch on to the spike in demand, and many were selling major coins like Bitcoin and popular dollar-based stablecoins like Tether at premium prices, some well above their adjusted value in dollars.But smaller, less popular coins like Litecoin were still relatively fairly priced in the first two weeks following the onset of the war. One friend shifted the majority of their savings into Litecoin via a Russian online exchange. Once their phone-based wallet pinged them with a notification that they had received their LTC, they went straight to one of several physical crypto exchanges in Tbilisi to sell their coins for dollars.I, myself, ventured to one such exchange to sell some Ether for cash. On its website, the firm maintained its apolitical status and compliance with Georgian law. I’m not really sure what I expected to see when I arrived, but what I found was a rather humble affair.The small room in the crowded office building in the city center had two desks and a few chairs for clients to relax while block confirmations went through. In the single window, neon Bitcoin, Litecoin and Tether signs glowed. Miniature Georgian and Ukrainian flags were stuffed into the potted plants.As I arrived, a small group of clients speaking Russian were leaving, thanking the two staff who sat at their respective desks. The staff asked how they could help me, and I said I would like to sell some crypto.What kind? Ether. How much? About $2,500 worth.They gave me an address, and I sent the crypto. After the transaction was confirmed, a cash counting machine whirred, spitting out the exact amount in U.S. dollars, which the staff carefully counted again on the desk in front of me. The whole process took about 10 minutes.I was not once asked about my nationality, ID or business in Tbilisi.Dollars in hand, I made small talk with the staff. The operators of the exchange, who prefer to remain anonymous, said that the vast majority of their customers in recent weeks had been Russian or Belarusian and that the flow of clients had been more or less nonstop.This was just one of several physical crypto exchanges in the capital of Georgia, which maintains laissez-faire laws on cryptocurrency. It has no licensing scheme for crypto trading, and crypto traders do not have to pay tax on income or gains. The sale of crypto and hashing power both abroad and domestically is also exempt from the country’s value-added tax.No RussiansThe capital city of just over 1 million residents has found it difficult, both materially and politically, to absorb the thousands of new arrivals from Ukraine, Belarus and especially Russia.And while many of the city’s cryptocurrency-centric businesses observe a live-and-let-live approach to their clientele, many other businesses and services are outright discriminatory.Take one example: Much of the city’s residential rental property was snatched up in the weeks leading up to and following the start of the conflict. Now, well over a month into the war, there’s little to choose from for the crowds of Russians who are still arriving.Supply issues aside, Russians also face discrimination from landlords. When contacting real estate agents in the city, the first question I invariably faced, even as an American, was, “Are you Russian?” — followed by something like, “We will need to see your passport before we can move forward.” Several real estate agents I spoke to said landlords have a “no Russians” policy.In a local cafe, I overheard an exasperated Russian man talking on his phone to someone I assumed was a real estate agent. He rattled off a list of requirements — like the number of bedrooms, the price range, needing a stove and washing machine — that he’s desperate to find:“My wife and I are renting a room in the city center right now, and she is hysterical. She says there’s nowhere to cook, no washing machine to clean our clothes. She says she wants to go back. I say, ‘What do you mean go back? We can’t go back, not for anything. We’re here…’”While I can’t approve of such outright discrimination, I can understand how it came about.In 2008, Russia supported separatists in the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, now known by many as South Ossetia. The subsequent war in August 2008 lasted 12 days and left many areas bombed out and scarred. Years later, the conflict has given the Georgian people a strong sense of solidarity with Ukraine, and bitter resentment toward Russia.An instrument, not a solutionAlmost all of the Russians I have met in Tbilisi have used crypto to move at least some part of their savings. And while this initially seems like a success story — a time for crypto to shine as the decentralized future allowing people to control their own savings — I think it is important to zoom out.Cryptocurrencies, like any other technology, are only as good or as useful as the people and human institutions who surround and implement them. While many libertarian-minded crypto-maximalists will no doubt laud the technology and its apolitical design amid this Russia-Georgia context, the only thing allowing it to be successful is the people and businesses on both ends of the transaction connecting traditional financial systems to blockchain-based, decentralized ones.If the Russian government required exchanges to implement more robust KYC protocols — as they do with bank accounts and foreign currency transactions — citizens could not buy crypto, or they’d be severely limited in how much they could buy and subsequently save.If the Georgian government required exchanges to follow the same robust, almost impossible KYC measures that private banks are currently implementing, it would be incredibly difficult for Russian immigrants to sell their crypto in order to pay rent, buy food and organize transportation.If the exchange operators allowed their political stance to determine their clientele, the crypto-owning public could find their options for buying, selling and withdrawing assets further limited.Crypto, like most other new tech praised upon its creation as apolitical or neutral, becomes political in the hands of the people who use it and regulate it.Aaron Wood is an editor at Cointelegraph with a background in energy and economics. He keeps an eye on blockchain’s applications in building smarter, more equitable energy access globally.The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph or its affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice.

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Top universities have added crypto to the curriculum

The world of digital assets saw a significant rise last year. The total cryptocurrency market cap reached $3 trillion, making more people, governments and universities take a closer look at the asset class.The presence of crypto in the world’s major economies has created a big opportunity for diverse startups in the industry, leading to a massive demand for digital assets. This newly born market has helped develop more working and educational opportunities, among other things.Furthermore, some of the world’s top universities and educational institutions including MIT, the University of Oxford and Harvard University, have added pieces of the burgeoning technology to their curriculums. Here are some of the top universities that have added blockchain-related subjects to their syllabus.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyWhen it comes to research, few come close to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT is renowned for its groundbreaking research and competitive academic curriculum and is ranked second only to Harvard University. The institution is, without doubt, the leading university in terms of blockchain technology, taking a research-driven approach to the decentralized ecosystem.The institution boasts of impressive academic staff, with current United States Securities and Exchange Commision Chair Gary Gensler teaching a blockchain course at the university. On-campus, it has one of the oldest Bitcoin (BTC) clubs called the MIT Bitcoin Club, which serves as the epicenter of blockchain discussions at the university.The university famously launched the MIT Digital Currency Experiment back in 2014 and distributed Bitcoin to students in a bid to foster cryptocurrency adoption. The university has gone ahead with its peer-reviewed journal on Blockchain technology to catalog the growing interest of researchers in the field. True to the ethos of decentralization, the journal is distributed freely. Courses offered at the university include: Blockchain Ethics: The Impact and Ethics of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain TechnologyB Digital Frontier: Emerging Blockchain HavensShared Public Ledgers: Cryptocurrencies, Blockchains, and Other MarvelsMIT’s Building 10 and Great Dome. Source: MadcoverboyHarvard UniversityHarvard is one of the oldest universities in the United States and has earned a reputation as part of the most prestigious universities in the world. Founded in 1636, the Ivy League college has churned out a record eight U.S. presidents, fourteen Turing Award winners and multiple Nobel laureates.In line with the principles of excellence and innovation, Harvard has added blockchain education to its curriculum. For starters, the university teamed up with Coursera to provide six free courses on cryptocurrencies that cover the fundamentals all the way to intermediate levels. An online introductory course titled “Breakthrough Innovation with Blockchain Technology” explores the combination of AI and blockchain across several industries.Harvard also offers a thriving blockchain student community with over 200 members. Weekly “Crypto 101” discussions are held and the presence of an incubator on the campus allows students to build and scale their cryptocurrency projects. National University of SingaporeSingapore is one of the leading cryptocurrency hubs in Southeast Asia and the National University of Singapore (NUS) is at the core of the crypto adoption. The university was founded in 1905 and its dedication to original research has consistently put it among the leading universities on the continent.The university’s blockchain offering centers strongly around research and entrepreneurship with interesting essays being published on harnessing blockchain for decentralized computing and improving distributed consensus and smart contracts. NUS offers an in-depth blockchain curriculum that cuts across several fields and levels from beginners to CEOs and mid-level managers.The school boasts of courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels with vibrant student-led crypto clubs. Furthermore, these crypto clubs allow students to learn from their peers and publish essays on the use and future of blockchain technologies. Leading courses in the curriculum include: Enterprise Blockchain And DLT for ExecutivesBlockchain, Digital Currencies, And Distributed Ledgers Start From HereUniversity Hall at the National University of Singapore. Source: Joshua Rommel Hayag VargasOxford UniversityOxford University occupies a leading place among world universities and holds the record of being the second-oldest university in operation. The English university ranks as having the largest university press and the largest academic library system that sets it apart from its peers. In terms of blockchain, Oxford is one of the leading centers of learning for the new technology in Europe, thanks to an expansive research center. The blockchain research center has produced a litany of interesting blockchain essays, with the Oxford-Hainan Blockchain Research Institute recording significant strides.Oxford Foundry, the university’s entrepreneurship hub, has struck interesting partnerships with Ripple to facilitate a wider blockchain technology. The university has a vibrant student-run community called the Oxford Blockchain Society that competes favorably with its contemporaries in other institutions. In terms of learning, the university has one of the most comprehensive blockchain learning. Top courses include:Blockchain Software Engineering Blockchain For ManagersOxford Blockchain Strategy ProgramCornell UniversityCornell University was founded in 1865 and has carved a niche for itself as one of the leading research universities in the world. The university is among the top five schools with graduates going on to pursue their PhDs and with an average of over $500 million spent annually on research and development, it’s easy to see why.The university boasts an impressive alumni list that includes 33 Rhodes Scholars, 10 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and 35 billionaires. Cornell University also offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses focused on blockchain technology. The caliber of the academic staff is impressive and made up of persons like Emin Gun Sirer, with multiple papers presented at blockchain conferences as far back as 2014.Students from the university have secured roles in leading blockchain firms like Coinbase and ConsenSys through the help of the Cornell Blockchain Club. The club is student-run and has gone on to publish interesting papers on blockchain technology and famously hosted its annual conference with an impressive lineup of speakers from the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Courses offered at the university include:Cryptocurrencies and LedgersApplications of Blockchain TechnologyIntroductions to Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies, and Smart Contracts Cryptography EssentialsThe Arts Quad with McGraw Tower at Cornell University. Source: EustressUniversity of California, BerkeleyFounded in 1868, the University of California, Berkeley is a leading institution for blockchain enthusiasts. The university’s diversity is evident in its fourteen colleges and over 350-degree programs that it offers to thousands of students. Research is one of the core reasons why the university makes the list as it has one of the longest streaks of blockchain research. The Berkeley Haas Blockchain Initiative is the main driver of blockchain research and is largely funded by Ripple Labs. Research grants are made available to students to dive deep into the applications of the nascent technology, with particular progress being made in the areas of stablecoins.The university also offers a “Blockchain Fundamentals Professional Certificate Program” through the online education platform edX. In terms of curriculum, the University of California, Berkeley offers students an expansive blockchain offering that includes:Lattices: Algorithms, Complexity, and CryptographyBlockchain, Cryptoeconomics, and the Future of Technology, Business and LawBlockchain Fundamentals

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Kitchen table Bitcoin: How should average investors approach crypto?

Cryptocurrencies have come a long way over the last few years, so much so that their market capitalization is now above the $2 trillion mark, and large businesses including Tesla and MicroStrategy have invested billions in Bitcoin (BTC).While institutional investments in crypto assets have been growing over the last few years, discussion on how retail investors should approach cryptocurrency investments has dominated social media. While some advocate for all-or-nothing bets on small-cap altcoins, more conservative approaches include investing only in Bitcoin or gaining exposure via indexes.Younger generations are more prone to investing in cryptocurrency, with surveys showing that 83% of millennial millionaires now own crypto. But, what about those who aren’t millionaires and are making average salaries? Should cryptocurrencies even be considered at all?Cointelegraph reached out to various experts to find out how they believe someone with an average American salary of between $45,000 to $50,000 a year should approach cryptocurrency investing.Paying yourself first Traditional personal finance wisdom suggests that before creating a portfolio, investors should accumulate a few months’ worth of living expenses in cash to prepare for a rainy day. How those funds should be saved varies depending on who’s giving the advice, but one common theme is paying yourself first.Former U.S. President Barack Obama Obama at a Missouri home in 2010. “Kitchen table issues” is an American phrase that refers to taxes, investments, retirement and other everyday concerns. Source: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty via The New Republic.Speaking to Cointelegraph, Bill Barhydt, CEO of cryptocurrency investment app Abra, echoed this sentiment saying retail investors “should always pay themselves first.” To him, however, paying themselves first “means keeping savings in crypto for the long term, especially Bitcoin and Ether.”Barhydt added he keeps the majority of his wealth in cryptocurrencies “along with some cash in high-yield interest accounts.” During market crashes, he allocates 10% to 25% of his savings to stocks, he said.To Barhydt, cryptocurrency investments should be a part of a retail investor’s portfolio, while he himself questions the “balanced portfolio concept.” He added that “balanced portfolios are for lazy people who don’t do research, understand markets or can’t stomach short-term losses.” Instead, Barhydt believes wealthy investors “know that concentrating investments based on their own convictions and homework, plus the ability to deal with losses, is their key to success.”Speaking to Cointelegraph, Stephen Stonberg, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex Global, noted that for retail investors with small amounts to invest or limited access to portfolio strategies, “crypto investments may not make the most sense on a large scale — but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t invest.”Stonberg said investing in crypto is being equated to investing in the internet in 1993 — ahead of the dot-com bubble — and, as such, the “best approach would be to look at making investments in more established coins such as Bitcoin and Ether” as these have strong use cases and established communities. He added:“Crypto should be a part of a more balanced portfolio and investors should be careful to do their own research. Diversification is a tried and trusted portfolio model and has shown to be defensive against waves of turmoil.”Caleb Silver, editor-in-chief of investing and finance website Investopedia, was more conservative, saying that cryptocurrencies are “highly volatile and speculative investments and should be handled as such.”To Silver, cryptocurrencies “should not be considered elements to balance a portfolio.” Given the performance of “many of the largest cryptocurrencies,” investors could consider limited exposure to the asset class but “should not depend on it to balance their portfolios.”Thomas Perfumo, head of business operations and strategy at cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, told Cointelegraph the exchange “cannot provide recommendations on what people should do with their money” but showed excitement over “the ability to earn rewards through staking.”As to how much should be allocated to a portfolio, most experts responded, “it depends,” with any actual figures always being below 10% of a portfolio.Crypto, funds or indexes?In early 2021, strategists at Wall Street banking giant JPMorgan suggested a 1% portfolio allocation to BTC could serve as a hedge against fluctuations in traditional asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and commodities. In January 2022, billionaire Ray Dalio recommended a 1–2% allocation for the flagship cryptocurrency as an inflation hedge.Speaking to Cointelegraph, Bittrex Global’s Stonberg advanced that a relatively “safe” allocation would be at 5%, enough to be considered low-risk while also allowing for “marginal return.” Silver echoed Stonberg’s figure, adding that investors should allocate the 5% with “complete awareness that they could lose it all quickly.”Silver said that cryptocurrency index funds, futures exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or other diversified investments could be less risky while also producing “far less upside than individual tokens.” He added an alternative would be companies and ETFs around the blockchain space.Stonberg, on the other hand, pointed out the “most economical choice is to purchase cryptocurrencies directly rather than hold an index,” as there is no reason to cover an index’s custody and marketing costs if investors can just pick cryptocurrencies directly.One-year Bitcoin price chart. Source: Cointelegraph.Johnny Lyu, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin, did not specify any type of allocation. He, instead, noted that specific recommendations depend on several factors including investors’ financial and technical literacy, their goals, strategies and risk appetite.To Lyu, more crypto-savvy investors should allocate more to crypto than those who are just curious about the space. He added:“No matter how much you invest in crypto, it gives you some advantages in terms of personal, financial and career advancement if you just understand how digital money works.”Lyu also said that a golden rule for any investment is diversification. An ideal crypto portfolio consists of “coins of different categories such as top crypto assets, stablecoins, nonfungible tokens, decentralized finance instruments etc.” Such a portfolio, he said, should be part of a larger one with non-crypto assets.Investing only what investors can afford to lose is a typical disclaimer in the space, but what if investors aren’t able to stomach the losses that may come? In 2017, BTC rallied to a high near $20,000 before plunging. By late 2018, it was trading at little over $3,000, having shaken off thousands of investors.Crypto investing boils down to risk toleranceThose with the stomach to stick to their strategy likely benefited, as in late 2021 when Bitcoin hit a new high near $69,000. Those who didn’t, watched the rollercoaster unfold in disbelief. Stonberg offered a solution to the problem:“A good way to approach crypto is to first determine your risk tolerance: The amount of investment capital you have to work with and your ideal amount of exposure while factoring risk.”Even if some investors put in their hard-earned money while understanding that their investment may lose all of its value, it’s clear that cryptocurrencies and their innovations are here to stay. So much so that BTC is now being compared to a digital version of gold.Stonberg concluded by saying he is “convinced that crypto investing will become a regular point of conversation for a family in the next year or two” as cryptocurrencies become mainstream. Silver agreed, saying that the crypto space is “where finance, investing and payments are moving. The more we talk and learn about these themes, the smarter we will be as consumers and investors.”Barhydt suggested that cryptocurrency investments should be a secondary investment discussion to be had, with the first one being “how are families going to guarantee that they can pay themselves first.”At the end of the day, it’s important first to analyze the purpose of cryptocurrency investments. If investors are picking up BTC because of its resistance to censorship, they can easily stomach short-term price fluctuations. If their goal is to retire early and live on an island, bear markets may become a nightmare regardless of the chosen investment vehicle.The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Lost Bitcoin may be a ‘donation,’ but is it hindering adoption?

Cryptocurrency custody solutions have become a big business over the last few years. Independent storage and security systems meant to hold large quantities of crypto on behalf of clients can bring in institutional capital and retail investors waiting on the sidelines simply because they remove a major fear: losing access to funds that become unrecoverable.Because of the decentralized nature of major blockchains like that of Bitcoin or Ethereum, whenever a user loses access to their wallet and doesn’t have a backup of their private keys, the funds within it cannot be recovered. There’s no central entity to turn to, and no one can control the blockchain to give anyone access back to their funds.Storing a private key can be challenging, as it needs to be kept away from bad actors, yet close enough for the user to access it when necessary. Dealing with the challenges associated with managing cryptocurrency has seen many simply leave their funds on cryptocurrency exchanges, creating a massive demand for crypto custody services, to the point where America’s fifth-largest bank is offering a solution.While keeping cryptocurrencies with a third party is often seen as a security risk because that third party can itself get hacked, experts told Cointelegraph that custody services are the best option out there when it comes to lost coins.Early cryptocurrency adopters have lost cryptocurrency in numerous ways, including exchange hacks. These security breaches have seen Bitcoin academic Andreas Antonopoulos popularize the famous slogan “not your keys, not your coins.”How much crypto has been lost?Cryptocurrencies can be lost in a number of ways, although unless someone admits that they have lost access to their funds, it’s impossible to tell from data on the blockchain. More often than not, users lose access to a wallet’s private key, which allows them to access the funds within it.There have also been cases in which users send cryptocurrency to the wrong address. Once again, because of the decentralized nature of the blockchain, there’s no remedial action to retrieve these tokens. Finally, users can pass away without leaving anyone else access to their funds.Speaking to Cointelegraph, Kim Grauer, director of research at blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, noted that an estimated 3.7 million Bitcoin (BTC) (today worth over $140 billion) has been lost. Grauer said the estimate is a “bit old” and is set to be updated with further research later this year.Crypto assets are often considered lost after remaining dormant for a specific number of years. While this method does point to coins that are effectively not currently in circulation, it is flawed. In 2020, for example, a wallet with 50 BTC first mined in February 2009 moved its funds to two addresses.Michael Fasanello, director of training and regulatory affairs at the Blockchain Intelligence Group — which helps government agencies, cryptocurrency businesses and financial institutions address fraud — told Cointelegraph it may be difficult to approximate the monetary value of lost coins because “those who suffered losses would not always be interested in sharing such information.”The figure of 3.7 million represents close to 20% of Bitcoin’s circulating supply, which, to Grauer, likely has an “economic impact that will affect the long-term price” of the cryptocurrency. Grauer added:“There is also a more psychological impact. It’s possible people will be more hesitant to invest in Bitcoin out of a fear of losing it, at which point it is not recoverable.”The Chainalysis executive added that this quality isn’t unique to the cryptocurrency ecosystem and “should not be prohibitive to further adoption,” as there are “many ways to custody your cryptocurrency safely either in your own possession or on an exchange.”Speaking to Cointelegraph, Chris Brooks, founder of cryptocurrency recovery business Crypto Asset Recovery, noted that in his experience, people should be more worried about leaving their seed phrase or private keys in paper wallets that can be mistakenly thrown out, rather than about hackers or scammers. Brooks said:“You have a far greater chance of moving to a new apartment and losing your crypto password in the process than you do of getting hacked.”In March 2011, a user on the Bitcointalk forum started a thread, trying to add up the known lost BTC. While the thread derailed with time, it did show just how many users have lost access to cryptocurrency over the years.These losses, as Chainalysis’ Grauer said, can have a significant economic impact on the cryptocurrency ecosystem.Should lost crypto be considered a donation?Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto has famously said that lost coins “only make everyone else’s coins worth slightly more” and that they should be thought of as a “donation to everyone.” The Blockchain Intelligence Group’s Fasanello said that when it comes to coins with a limited supply, Satoshi may be right, but those with an infinite supply could see the reverse be true.Fasanello said that just as fiat currency loses value with inflation, so do cryptocurrencies. If a cryptocurrency doesn’t have a finite supply, the value of the lost coins is simply going to erode over time.Speaking to Cointelegraph, Yuriy Kovalev, CEO of crypto trading platform Zenfuse, said that lost coins represent a hidden cost of security in the cryptocurrency space that benefits everyone else:“The amount of lost crypto only shows that decentralized networks like Bitcoin are extremely secure, so much so that trivial mistakes can cost millions. Wallet hunters are seldom only able to help in cases of lost passwords, further proving the blockchain is immutable.”Indeed, most cases in which lost tokens are recovered involve lost passwords used to unlock wallets and not the private keys used to recover them. A recent case saw a computer engineer and hardware hacker crack a Trezor One hardware wallet that was locked because its owner had forgotten its security PIN.Asaf Naim, founder and CEO of blockchain application developer Kirobo, told Cointelegraph that Satoshi’s words may be true for “minor and occasional instances of losing crypto,” but Naim added that the “law of scarcity only holds if people have confidence in the underlying system. If too much cryptocurrency is lost, people will stop believing in its use and its intrinsic value.”Lost crypto and mass adoptionEarly stories from the cryptocurrency space about lost crypto have made headlines over the years, pointing to how hard it may be to recover lost funds. One such example is that of James Howells, who threw away a hard drive containing 7,500 BTC (almost $285 million today) while cleaning his house in 2013.Wallet recovery services have gained popularity over the last few years but often charge large percentages of the funds they recover. Grauer said that there are industry solutions meant to reduce the chances of accidental losses, which include “storing your cryptocurrency on a known and trusted exchange, or hot wallet, similar to what you do with a bank.”The approach contrasts those who argue that if a user does not control the private keys to their wallet, they do not actually own the coins within it. Speaking to Cointelegraph, Crypto Asset Recovery’s Brooks seemed to agree with Grauer, adding, however, that “crypto can be extremely complicated,” and as such, he believes “new investors are better off with custodial wallets.”To Brooks, if a user suddenly passes away or suffers a serious accident, it’s easy for loved ones to claim their crypto from a custodial wallet, but it’s hard to do so through the use of a private key. Kirobo’s Naim believes the cryptocurrency recovery industry may be important but is part of a backward approach: “The main effect of so much crypto being lost is that it stands in the way of mass adoption. If people don’t feel safe using crypto, they just won’t use it. It’s not acceptable that forgetting access credentials is irreversible.”He added that credit cards wouldn’t be as popular as they are if “there was a high chance of irreversibly losing money every time you used one.” The solution could be related to cryptocurrency platforms and their user experience, which could, for example, implement whitelists the same way online banking platforms do to prevent common errors.To the executive, it’s “amazing that writing down words on a piece of paper or memorizing them is the best practice for security in 2022,” as it shows “crypto has lacked a safety net for human error.”The free market has attempted to come up with better solutions over time, which include the creation of titanium sheets where users can write down their seed phrases or private keys. These sheets are harder to throw away by accident and can often survive natural disasters. Some wallets, including Coinbase Wallet, allow users to back up their private keys on Google Drive or iCloud.While cryptocurrency custody services may offer institutional investors the security they need to enter the market, for users looking for an uncensorable form of money, lost crypto may continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

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Russian Orthodox Patriarch is not a Bitcoiner, church clarifies

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Rus’, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, has not urged his flock to invest in Bitcoin, despite videos claiming otherwise. A clip recently emerged claiming that Kirill had urged the faithful to invest in cryptocurrencies. While the video does include genuine comments from the patriarch regarding the benefits of robotics for the economy, and a mention of Bitcoin (BTC), the comments were heavily edited, with the narrator further claiming that the leader would bless those who wish to invest in crypto in a special service at a Moscow church.The church’s top media representative, Vakhtang Kipshidze, told local publication Daily Storm:“This is an absolute deception, misleading those people who might think that the patriarch allegedly encourages someone to participate in financial fraud and speculation.”Kipshidze said that he considered the fraudulent nature of the video to be apparent, stating, “It would never occur to any sane person that the patriarch would call for investing in some kind of fly-by-night scheme, the fraudulent nature of which, in my opinion, is quite obvious.”Religious communities around the world have had varying opinions about cryptocurrencies, ranging from cautious approval to outright condemnation. Related: Indonesia’s national Islamic council reportedly declares Bitcoin haramIn the Islamic world, which has its own set of guidelines and laws pertaining to finance — and now digital assets — the acceptance of cryptocurrency is far from uniformMalaysia’s shariah advisory council, for example, has declared that trading digital assets was permissible, while late last year, religious authorities in Indonesia have found it “haram,” or forbidden, namely due to its speculative nature and purported propensity for fraud. 

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