Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Unchained newsletter! 

This week on the podcast, we dive into how Asia is faring in this crypto winter. As you can imagine, it isn’t looking pretty for the miners but there’s been no Bitcoin “death spiral.” We also talk about the prospects for mining giant Bitmain (though we recorded before co-CEOs Jihan Wu and Zhan Ketuan stepped down).

It was a fascinating discussion, and Dovey Wan graciously answered the questions left on the cutting room floor by email. You can read them here.

Also be sure to check out the Unconfirmed interview with the Blockchain Association’s Kristin Smith, about when a token is sufficiently decentralized to not be a security.

Because it wouldn’t be crypto if all went smoothly, the no-drama Constantinople hard fork on Ethereum was pulled last minute. As Taylor Monahan of MyCrypto put it, “better safe than sorry, especially when dealing with things that hold immense monetary value.”

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of “you can’t make this stuff up” kind of news, with China requiring blockchains to censor prohibited content, Russia perhaps intending to invest in Bitcoin, and Ripple perhaps being the subject of a hostile takeover?

This Week’s Crypto News…

Hard Fork Hold Up

Many thought it would be a hard fork without the drama. Ethereum’s Constantinople upgrade, which should have introduced technical optimizations and reduced miner rewards by a third, was delayed after a serious bug was found with less than 24 hours to go. The lead developers are now proposing that the fork take place in late February. (If you’re interested in how the decision to postpone unfolded, one of the parties involved has written about it here.)

Censorship-Resistant — Except in China?

New rules from the Cyberspace Administration of China require blockchain platforms to censor content. Though the new rules take effect next month, it’s not clear how they’ll enforce it.

Dovey Wan Q&A

We don’t always get to every question we have for Unchained guests, so Dovey Wan answered some additional questions by email. she gives insight into Korean exchanges, Japanese bitcoin maximalism, and which Asian crypto projects she has her eye on.

ICO Creators Paid Themselves—a Lot

According a report by BitMex, despite the rise and fall of the crypto markets, teams raising money via ICOs profited by  $13 billion. The report concludes, “In our view, this money was made incredibly easily, with very little work, accountability or transparency. Therefore, ICOs have proven to be an extremely attractive way for project founders to raise funds. The results for investors of course, have not been as attractive.”

Moscow Money Coming Into Bitcoin?

The Telegraph reported that Russia planned to tackle US sanctions with Bitcoin investments, but a Russian official denied this would happen within the next 30 years.

BitMEX US and Canadian Clients Shown the Door

Hong Kong-based exchange BitMEX has shut down the trading accounts of users from the US and Québec after pressure from regulators in these jurisdictions. Though the ruling from the Canadian province is recent, US traders have been barred from using the platform since 2015, but many have used VPNs to skirt IP address blocking measures.

Grin Goes Live

Grin, the much anticipated cryptocurrency that incorporates mimblewimble privacy technology, is now up and running. The first block of transactions was mined on Tuesday night, with trading taking place on decentralized exchange Bisq.