Hello and welcome to this week's edition of Overbit News.
We kick off this week's edition of Overbit News with the news that the US and UK governments have joined forces on cryptocurrency clampdown as they "Committed and agreed to heighten the focus on the illicit use of cryptocurrency and ransomware," the US Department of Justice announced.
According to the FBI, rising cryptocurrency prices have made ransomware "incredibly lucrative for criminals."
Both the deputy attorney general and the home secretary of either country pledged and agreed to focus more on the illegal use of Bitcoin and ransomware and keep the conversation about growing national security risks going.
This news comes as the federal government of the United States has been fighting to combat ransomware attacks.
Just last week, Bryan Vorndran, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that high crypto values fuel criminal networks and ransomware operators. This year, the hearing was part of a congressional inquiry into multimillion-dollar ransomware assaults on major U.S. firms, including Colonial Pipeline Co. and JBS Foods' US branch.
Recent actions from The United States government indicate there is some weight behind this commitment, as the US government recently took action against several ransomware perpetrators.
Two "Prolific" ransomware operators were arrested in October after a concerted operation including Europol, Interpol, and the FBI resulted in a two-man arrest at the centre of a 70 million Euro ransom.
As cryptocurrency markets continue to become an established asset class, we expect more and more governments to try and tackle the problem of theft and fraud in these markets.
We close out this week's edition with a story out of South America, where cryptocurrency adoption is continually gaining speed.
According to Bloomberg, MercadoPago, MercadoLibre's digital payments software, will soon allow Brazilian consumers to buy, sell, and keep Bitcoin. This functionality was first made available to a small set of clients in November, and it will be made available to a larger group of clients in the following weeks.
MercadoLibre, also known as MercadoLivre in Brazil, is the country's largest eCommerce site. Users of MercadoPago have access to credit lines, a free credit card, and a basic account to send and receive payments.
"We took the time to study and learn before deciding to step into crypto," Tulio Oliveira, MercadoPago vice president, said per the report. "This has a transformational potential ahead and opens up a new avenue for us."
Customers will soon be able to buy, hold, and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies through the app, which is integrated with Pix, Brazil's rapid and free money-transfer network.
"The idea is to replicate the product in other Latin American markets going forward, according to Oliveira," per the report. "However, customers, at first, won't be able to use cryptocurrencies to pay directly for goods purchased on MercadoLibre, he said."
Customers may be allowed to withdraw BTC into a self-custody wallet for which they retain the private keys, although this is uncertain. Customers will be purchasing a Bitcoin IOU if MercadoPago does not enable this option, which, while providing price exposure, locks consumers away from individual sovereignty and provides an attack vector by relying on a third party.
Regardless of initial self-custodial aspects, this move by MercadoLibre is a step in the right direction, as more and more South Americans look for alternative currencies and markets versus their own.
That's all for this week's edition of Overbit News. Thanks so much for reading, and take care until next time!