Is Bitcoin surging because of the coronavirus? And other Jan cryptocurrency news

Binance, an industry-leading cryptocurrency exchange, just added p2p trading services for the Vietnamese Dong (VND) to its platform. This means, users can buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum using VND.

Founder Changpeng Zhao sees Binance as a global leader in fiat-to-cryptocurrency trading in Vietnam:


Binance is committed to providing our global users with more convenient fiat gateways and easy access to cryptocurrency, and our P2P service aims to lower the barriers to entry to the crypto world. We are pleased to introduce fiat-to-crypto P2P trading services to Vietnamese users to flexibly trade cryptocurrency at low costs.”

This is only the second fiat currency (following the Chinese Yuan) available on the Binance p2p trading platform. It is expected that Binance will onboard even more fiat currencies for users in the coming year.

In late January the Iranian government issued 1,000 licenses for cryptocurrency mining in the country. Companies that apply for, and are granted the license will be able to run mining operations within the country. According to a report by Iran’s Banking and Economic System Reference Media (IBENA), an estimated $8.5 billion could be brought into Iran if miners were to operate at full capacity.

In a country where energy is cheap, this could mean big profits for mining companies. An increase in cryptocurrency mining actually led the Iranian government to increase its tariffs on electricity:


Iran has some of the lowest energy prices in the world at $0.007 per kilowatt-hour. However, recent energy shortages and blackouts have led regulators to take a more active role in managing the country’s power supplies and therefore, take a strict approach to cryptocurrency mining…The rise of cryptocurrency mining in Iran led the government to raise its electricity tariffs for the sector significantly from the aforementioned $0.007 to $0.07 per hour — the same price as electricity exports.”

The price of Bitcoin has surged since the outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus, leading some to believe there is a correlation between the two. Bitcoin has tended to perform well in periods of economic crisis. With over 10,000 reported cases of the coronavirus, this presents a perfect scenario for investors to move into Bitcoin as an alternative asset investment.

In comments to CNN, both Shaun Djie, CEO of digital token company Digix, and Marija Veitmane, senior multi-asset strategist with State Street, believe that Bitcoin is one area that investors are seeking out more during current economic conditions:


“There is a new consensus building about dollar weakness,” Veitmane said. “Bitcoin and gold may continue to do well as safe-haven investments.” Djie agreed. “Gold and bitcoin have become prominent alternatives for retail investors looking to safeguard their wealth.”

The price of Bitcoin has moved from under $7,000 to close to $9,500 in the past month, signaling a bullish trend for the cryptocurrency.

Researchers at MIT claim they are in the midst of making cryptocurrency transactions even faster. A new routing mechanism known as “Spider”, designed by these researchers splits singular cryptocurrency transactions into smaller packets to be distributed across various channels at faster speeds.

One of the project’s researchers, Vibhaalakshmi Sivaraman, explained how this process would work:

Researchers at MIT

Shortest-path routing can cause imbalances between accounts that deplete key payment channels and paralyze the system […] Routing money in a way that the funds of both users in each joint account are balanced allows us to reuse the same initial funds to support as many transactions as possible.”

This should be efficient and lucrative business. That means routing as many transactions as possible, with as little funds as possible, to give PCNs [payment channel networks] the best bang for their buck.”

Increasing transaction speeds is one of the biggest roadblocks to adoption for cryptocurrencies. Because blockchain networks can only handle a finite number of transactions on-chain, alternative methods for scaling are being investigated with the hopes of increasing speed and transaction throughput without altering the underlying blockchain in any way.

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