Bitcoin rises after court rules it's a form of money; Apple cofounder sues Google over cryptocurrency scam

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      This was a busy week in the world of cryptocurrencies. Here are some updates, both local and international.

      Bitcoin value rises

      The world's most famous virtual money has been on a bit of a tear.

      Tonight (Vancouver time), one Bitcoin punctured through the $13,000 mark in Canadian currency, according to Morningstar.

      Back on Monday (July 20), it fell to $12,403 for one Bitcoin. While it's not a world-beating gain, it does account for a five percent increase in a week. Not bad for something that billionaire Warren Buffett insists has no value.

      Court rules in favour of Bitcoin

      Bitcoin's most recent rise came after Coindesk reported that a U.S. judge had ruled that Bitcoin is a "form of money". 

      Judge Beryl Howell issued the ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a case involving Larry Dean Harmon.

      He faced three counts in connection of his operation of Helix as an underground tumbler for Bitcoin on the Darknet.

      Judge Howell denied Harmon's motion to dismiss two counts, as well as his motion for the release of 160 Bitcoins seized by the government. They're currently worth more than $2 million.

      She also declared that Helix meets the definition of an "unlicensed money transmitting business".

      Steve Wozniak isn't thrilled that his face has shown up in cryptocurrency scams on social media.

      Apple cofounder sues Google

      Meanwhile, the Verge has reported that Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and several other plaintiffs have named YouTube and Google as defendants in a lawsuit over phony Bitcoin promotions.

      Wozniak's face appeared in videos suggesting he would give away the cryptocurrency.

      The action was filed in California.

      "With full knowledge of this scam, YouTube resisted taking the scam videos down, allowed them to multiply, and contributed to the scam by making them appear legitimate," the complaint states. "YouTube and Google took the further step of promoting and profiting from these scams by providing paid advertising that targeted users who were most likely to be harmed."

      Other tech high flyers' faces were used in the scam, which gained global attention after Twitter was hacked on July 15 to spread the message more broadly.

      Among those victimized were Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple Inc.

      Wozniak alleged that YouTube has been "unresponsive" to his repeated efforts to stop the unauthorized use of his face and likeness.

      "In stark contrast to YouTube, when faced with this attack, Twitter took swift and decisive action to protect its users, shutting down the hijacked accounts until after Twitter regained control," the complaint alleges.

      "As a result, the massive Twitter hack resulted in only about $120,000 in losses, whereas the YouTube scam has generated many millions of dollars in stolen cryptocurrency."

      None of the allegations have been proven in court.

      NetCents reaches international merchants

      A Vancouver-based cryptocurrency-payment technology company says it is attracting more international merchants to use its service.

      NetCents Technology Inc. says that in 2019, only 27 percent of the merchants using its service were outside the United States.

      It says that this year, it's reached 67 percent.

      In addition, NetCents Technology claims that the average transaction for business-to-business exchanges has reached $25,000.

      On July 4, it announced that it is forming a wholly owned subsidiary in Germany to support its European business.

      NetCents Technology insists that it has a "white-label solution", which it can provide to commercial banks interested in allowing their clients to trade in cryptocurrencies.

      Last month, the company stated that it had received a US$1.4-billion institutional credit facility "to power merchant settlements".

      The term is 15 months, according to the company, with "auto-renewing one-year terms" and no interest going to the credit facility. Plus, the company said there are no fees for the first three months.

      Funds from coin sales are in a trust account managed by the company's legal counsel.

      NetCents Technology disclosed on July 6 that as of the end of April, "the funds are being held in trust subject to an investigation by the British Columbia Securities Commission".

      "The outcome of this investigation is unknown and the funds are to remain in trust until the investigation by the BCSC is complete." 

      On July 24, NetCents Technology closed at $1.12 on the Canadian Securities Exchange, down 10.4 percent on the day.