Bitcoin prices rose in Thursday trading to as high as $8,275, up slightly for the day. Volume jumped above $7 billion for the first time in a week. Most other cryptocurrencies rose as well, with all but about four of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market cap trading into the green.
Here's what you need to know in cryptocurrencies for Thursday, April 19.
Crypto Hardware Thief Escapes
The man behind Iceland's "Big Bitcoin Heist" has escaped from prison in the country and fled to Sweden, according to the BBC. Sindri Thor Stefansson was accused of stealing 600 cryptocurrency mining computers in at least four separate incidents from December 2017 through January 2018 - about $2 million worth of mining hardware total. When Stefansson was taken into custody, officials called it a "highly organized crime" coordinated "on a scale unseen before." Stefansson escaped from a low-security prison this week, fled to an airport 60 miles away and used a fake name to board a flight to Sweden, on which the prime minister of Iceland was a passenger. There is currently a warrant out for Stefansson's arrest in Sweden, though his whereabouts remain unknown.
Cryptos for Kids
A new cryptocurrency wallet and interactive app called Pigzbe is creating a "new piggy banking paradigm" aimed at breeding digital asset financial literacy among children. Pigzbe is powered by a "family-friendly" token called Wollo, which can be shared and collected by users. The app has games and features that teach young kids about spending and saving, CEO Filippo Yacob told Quartz. Pigzbe allows for users to send Wollo tokens via the app, perhaps ushering in the new age for sending birthday money in the mail. The Wollo tokens in Pigzbe will become available to the public on June 13 in an initial coin offering (ICO), but presale has already raised about $10 million, Yacob said. The app will not, however, be available in the U.S. or China due to securities laws.
Mining Demand Boosts TSM Revenue
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSM) announced first-quarter financial results Thursday. The company, which is the world's largest independent semiconductor maker, tallied about $8.5 billion in sales revenue during the quarter, up 6.1% from a year earlier. President and Co-CEO C.C. Wei said on a conference call, "These results were mainly driven by strong demand from high performance computing such as cryptocurrency mining." Fellow Co-CEO Mark Liu added, "We see very strong demand in the first quarter from cryptocurrencies. During the second quarter, while we do see some weakness in the 28mm chip, the [demand for] the rest of the technology is still very strong on cryptocurrency."
BP Considering Tokens
BP plc (BP) is considering partnering with blockchain companies that offer ICOs and testing its own token internally within the company, said Julian Gray, tech director for BP's digital innovation organization. Speaking at the Blockchain Expo in London this week, Gray said, "We haven't done anything with public chains yet. But that doesn't mean we won't. We have done proof of concepts using tokens internally, transferring value." Gray added that he believes non-financial enterprises might be better suited to utilize blockchain technology than some financial services companies.