Cryptocurrencies settle after Walmart hoax

Cryptocurrencies steadied and litecoin was rising modestly on 14 September following a hoax that tied the digital currency to a partnership with retail giant Walmart. 

Litecoin was up 3.61% at $179.77 on Tuesday. Other cryptocurrencies traded higher, with bitcoin up 2.81% to $45,866.

Litecoin surged more than 30% on 13 September but then gave up most of its gains after Walmart denied it had struck an agreement to accept litecoin payments.

Both Walmart and GlobeNewswire, which distributed the fake press release, said they have started an investigation into the matter.

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Charlie Lee, creator of litecoin and managing director of the The Litecoin Foundation, admitted in a television appearance that one of its employees retweeted what turned out to be the untrue announcement about the Walmart partnership.

A Walmart spokesperson confirmed to Barron’s on 13 September that the release, which claimed that from 1 October all of Walmart’s e-commerce stores would have a “Pay with Litecoin Option” was “not authentic”.

“We try our best to not tweet fake news and this time we really screwed up,” Lee said on the “Bloomberg Technology” programme. “I deny that it has anything to do with us and we’ll try our best to figure out who did it — and we will stop fake news from spreading.”

“This morning I woke up and found out that Walmart is accepting litecoin, and I was like, ‘Wow that’s awesome,’ — and it turned out to be fake,” Lee told Bloomberg on 13 September. “We didn’t have a partnership,” he said.

Lee said anyone can start accepting litecoin without having to talk with the Litecoin Foundation first.

Meanwhile, star stock picker Cathie Wood said she expects bitcoin to top $500,000 in the next five years.

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“If we’re right, and companies continue to diversify their cash into something like crypto, and institutional investors start allocating 5% of their funds towards crypto… We believe that [Bitcoin’s] price will be tenfold of where it is today,” she said on 13 September at a conference.

This article was published by Barron’s.

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