The holidays are a busy time, with family gatherings, parties, and travel creating plenty of distractions from following the big crypto news headlines. Even the most dedicated cryptocurrency enthusiast can miss out on major developments, particularly when it comes to the international topics. If you’ve been lost in an eggnog-drenched haze this yuletide, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Here are three major international cryptocurrency news items you may have missed.
1. Stolen bitcoin prompts bomb threats across Russia. According to Russian news outlet Interfax, anonymous bitcoin blackmailers have made multiple bomb threats across the country since late November. The blackmailers are demanding a payment of 120 BTC, which they claim were “stolen from the WEX exchange” by former Russian Federal Security Service officer Anton Nemkin. Although no bombs have been detonated (or even identified), the blackmailers have threatened to set off explosives at a television station, courthouses, shopping malls, and other high-traffic areas, resulting in the emergency evacuation of 750,000 people from those locations over the past month.
2. Rakuten adds cryptocurrency purchasing to its loyalty program. Earlier this week, Japanese online retail giant Rakuten revealed that customers could now spend their Rakuten Super Points on cryptocurrency. Loyalty program members can directly purchase BTC, ETH, and BCH tokens through the newly launched Rakuten Wallet. Often called the “Japanese Amazon.com,” Rakuten has been actively involved in promoting cryptocurrency since at least 2015. The company even acquired a major Japanese exchange, Everybody’s Bitcoin, last year.
3. Uzbekistan reverses course, bans cryptocurrency purchases. In a statement issued on Christmas Day, Uzbekistan’s National Project Management Agency (the government’s economic development agency) formally banned the country’s citizens from buying cryptocurrency. The move came as a surprise to many in the country, as the country’s authorities signed a memorandum of understanding that effectively legalized cryptocurrency exchanges, mining, and initial coin offerings in late 2018. The unexpected reversal may be tied to a long-rumored ban of all crypto-assets in Russia, one of Uzbekistan’s closest economic allies.