A Mysterious Blockchain Company Unveils Its New Office
Cryptocurrencies plunge for the week with Bitcoin still below USD$6,550, forecasters project 54% per annum growth in the Cryptocurrency ATM industry over 5 years and Coinbase explores launching a Bitcoin ETF with BlackRock
Developments in Financial Services
Apex Clearing, a digital financial clearing and execution company, announced Wednesday of plans to launch a new cryptocurrency brokerage subsidiary. As a result, Apex’s clients, who are primarily wealth management and financial advisory firms, will have access to investment opportunities in cryptocurrencies. Initially in its brokerage service, Apex will include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Ethereum before expanding to other coins.
The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has announced a six-month delay in the rollout of a specialized blockchain to facilitate equity transactions. ASX has been working to implement the blockchain since December 2017 and had plans to launch in late 2020. However, with the six-month setback, ASX will not launch the blockchain until March or April of 2021. ASX cited plans to devote more time to user development and testing in explaining its decision to delay the blockchain’s launch.
Abra, the cryptocurrency wallet startup, is now permitting deposits to come from European bank accounts. Users in Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) can now transfer Euros (or other national currencies) directly into Abra.
The ASX is delaying the roll-out of a blockchain settlement system until 2021. After receiving 41 written submissions form various stakeholders in the process (clearing & settlement, payment providers, market operators, etc), ASX management decided it makes sense to delay implementation and extend the development testing period.
Bittrex announced it is partnering with Cryptrofacil to launch a cryptocurrency trading exchange for Latin America. The new exchange will be based out of Uruguay.
Coinbase announced Thursday of plans to roll out new crypto trading pairs for the British pound. David Farmer, general manager of Coinbase Pro, said in a blog that Coinbase Pro will begin offering trading services for the pound against Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin. Coinbase Pro already offers trading services for the pound against bitcoin.
Crypto.com is launching its first cryptocurrency debit card in Singapore. The company raised USD$25mm this past June in its an ICO. Crypto.com will be partnering with payment provider Visa to deliver its debit card.
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the largest bank in China, has announced it will focus on investing in “intelligent banking” and the deployment of new financial technologies. The goal of the bank is to introduce “smart banking” to the financial ecosystem in China.
ResearchandMarkets.com forecasts that the crypto ATM industry will grow to USD$114.5mm by CY2023 and implies a per annum growth rate of ~54.7%. The company suggests the majority of the growth will come from two-way ATMs which let customer change digital currency into fiat and vice-versa. Furthermore, the reported by ResearchandMarkets.com posits that that the majority of the crypto ATMs will be based in North America. At the moment, crypto ATM industry is forecasted to be ~USD$16.3mm.
Robinhood, the mobile zero-fee investment app, revealed Thursday that the firm is actively looking for a CFO while citing ‘definite’ plans for the firm to go public. Robinhood CEO Baiju Bhatt expanded, saying, “it’s definitely on the horizon, not in the immediate term, but that’s something we are thinking about.”
After making a controversial move to hold themselves to know-your-customer (KYC) regulations, ShapeShift exchange is facing criticism from users across the crypto industry. In explaining their decision, CEO Erik Voorhees explained that the idea of requiring customers to hand over private information is something the exchange has struggled with for a long time, but they believe this is the best decision to help the firm navigate the regulatory environment.
Breugel, a Belgium-based think tank, argues that the EU should create a single standard for regulating cryptocurrencies for the Euro-bloc. The group believes there should be common regulations for crypto exchanges and ICOs.
Global crypto wallet Abra will begin enabling the direct purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies with European bank accounts, the company announced Tuesday in a press release. Users will now be able to transfer euros and other national currencies into their wallet, which can then be used to purchase any of 28 cryptocurrencies offered by the crypto wallet.
The Iranian government has accepted the mining of cryptocurrencies as a formal industry. The Supreme Cyberspace Council is now focusing on developing a framework for regulation of the crypto mining industry.
Members of the European Parliament met Tuesday to review a proposal of regulatory framework that would surround initial coin offerings (ICO). If passed, the proposal would cap token sales of an ICO at EUR 8 million and hold offerings to know-your-customeanti-money-laundering regulations. The framework would allow projects to raise funds in any of the 28 EU member nations.
The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Tuesday that it plans to release trading rules for cryptocurrency exchanges to follow, according to local news outlets. The Philippines has been an early mover in crypto regulation, having already published regulatory framework for initial coin offerings and requiring actual registration of crypto exchanges.
A high-ranking official of Ukraine's Finance Ministry, Sergey Verlanov, explained in an interview that Ukrainians are expected to pay the regular 19.5% income tax on profits from crypto related activities. Verlanov went on to add that while cryptocurrencies have no official legal status in Ukraine, they are common items deemed intangible assets.
An order issued by Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoev on Sunday states that Uzbekistan will no longer charge tax on cryptocurrency related income and that licensed cryptocurrency exchanges will not be held to the country’s securities and exchanges regulations. This announcement comes as Uzbekistan is attempting to attract cryptocurrency related businesses to the country.
Andreas Antonopoulos, Bitcoin evangelist, believes Bitcoin ETFs will be negative for Bitcoin long-term as it will let investor speculate about its price more easily. Antonopoulos believes a Bitcoin ETF will permit market makers to manipulate Bitcoin markets and that individual investors would move away from playing an important part in the decision-making process of the cryptocurrency ecosystem (since they would inevitably shy away from the responsibilities of owning Bitcoin key).
Bill Barhydt, CEIO of cryptocurrency payment startup Abra, during an interview on CNBC’s Coin Rush, suggests the SEC is rejecting Bitcoin ETFs because the applicants don’t “fit the mold of who the SEC is used to approving.” Barhydty suggests a trusted financial organization has better probability of getting a Bitcoin ETF approved than a startup.
Bitcoin Depot has launched 20 crypto ATMS in California to bring its total global installed base to 160. The company expects to reach 200 installed ATMs globally by year-end. With an install rate of 7 ATM/months, Bitcoin Depot may not reach its management goal of 1,000 installed Bitcoin ATMs by CY2020.
Bitcoin’s market capitalization is back to 55% of total digital currency market capitalization, the highest level since December 2017.
Bitmain’s AntPool has activated AsicBoost, a controversial method of mining Bitcoin more efficiently. AsicBoost exploits a previously known weakness in Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm that allows for faster mining. Bitmain notably holds a patent in China for a system that exploits the Bitcoin network’s weakness in order to increase mining productivity.
Bitfi, previously advertised as an unhackable Bitcoin wallet, has withdrawn its claim that it is not hackable after cybersecurity researchers were able to discover serious security flaws in Bitfi’s technology.
Bittrex has decided to delist Bitcoin Gold following failure by the cryptocurrency to pay Bittrex the monthly listing fee of USD$262,907.
Blockchain identity startup Civic has decided to use 333 million of its 1 billion supply of CVC token (~USD$43mm) to pay for the costs of identity checks of users on its platform as well as stress-testing the protocol.
Blockstream VP Warren Togami warned investors on Tuesday of a possible ‘51 percent’ attack on Bitcoin Cash’s blockchain. With a hashrate below 8% of Bitcoin’s , Togami warned that a ‘51 percent attack’ could render the cryptocurrency useless. In his rantings on Twitter, Togami cited Bitcoin Cash’s similarity to Feathercoin, a cryptocurrency who’s ‘51 percent’ attack left the coin obsolete.
Cannabis publication, High Times, reported Wednesday that they would be accepting cryptocurrency for its ongoing initial public offering (IPO). High Times initially announced that it would accept bitcoin and Ethereum in the beginning of August; however, it rolled back on its announcement citing regulation issues. Despite the rollback, it appears that bitcoin has remained a payment option in the publication’s IPO.
Cryptocurrencies underwent a harsh selloff Wednesday morning with the top 100 coins losing $12 billion of market cap in just one hour. Most notably, Bitcoin’s price dipped below the $7,000 level and Ethereum lost more than 11% in the last 24 hours. CNBC crypto analyst Ran NeuNer cited that a possible reasoning for this price move could be a large sell-off of digital assets from a crypto wallet that may be associated with the infamous Silk Road.
Google is rolling out an update to its Big Data service that will help investors “visualize” the Ethereum blockchain. The platform, BigQuery, will permit users to visualize behavior and clustering on the Ethereum blockchain.
IBM announced today of a partnership with Hu-manity.co to develop a ‘health data application that utilizes blockchain technology. This is not the first time the tech giant has partnered on a blockchain related projects, announcing partnerships earlier in the year with SecureKey and Sovrin.
According to iPR Daily, Alibaba and IBM have filed the largest number of blockchain-related patents to date. Alibaba has filed for 90 different blockchain-related patents while IBM has filed 89. Mastercard is 3rd on the list at 80.
Japanese city Tsukuba has officially become the first Japanese city to test a voting system that leverages blockchain technology. The blockchain voting system allows citizens to vote on different social contribution project proposals, such as the construction of a cheap sporting facility and the creation of a new cancer diagnostics center.
A malware that targets Bitcoin ATMs is on sale in underground markets for approximately US$25,000 according to Trend Micro. The malware exploits a service vulnerability and utilizes Near-Field Communication or pre-written cards that are provided to the buyers of the malware.
The Mega Chrome extension for the Chrome internet browser has been compromised. Hackers can now steal a user’s Monero as well as sensitive information according to chatrooms on Reddit and posts on Twitter.
The People’s Bank of China announced Tuesday that it has officially launched the testing phase of its blockchain trade finance platform, according to the Shanghai Securities News. The new blockchain aims to provide an “open financial and trade ecosystem based on the Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau Bay are.” The new blockchain should help banks conduct business authenticity audits, slash business costs, and improve efficiencies while helping regulators monitor various financial activities and improve interdepartmental information sharing.
Ripio, an Argentinian startup that ICO’d last year, has launched its full service, offering microloans to some 200,000 bitcoin wallet users in Argentina. Ripio’s blockchain connects lenders with borrowers from across the globe by leveraging Ethereum smart contracts. Ripio said its microloans can be issued for as much as US$730 and its average loan size is around $146.
Rising RAM costs are making the costs of EOS dapps cost prohibitive for developers. RAM, according to analysis by CoinDesk.com, has to be bought at market prices using EOS, with trades taking place on the Bancor algorithm. Each EOS dapp user takes 4 kilobytes of RAM to onboard for developers. According to the current RAM price, that's around $3.12 per user.
The South Korean government continues to make a push to invest and trial blockchain technologies in the public sector. According to CoinDesk.com, The Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) is looking to increasing the number of blockchain starter projects in the public sector from 6 to 12 by CY2019.
Southeast Asia’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Coins, reported that it tripled its user count over the last fiscal year, going from 1.5 million users to over 5 million users. Coins is located in the Philippines and has grown by aggressively targeting foreign markets, specifically Malaysia and Thailand.
A survey by YouGov Omnibus finds that half of American Millennials are interested in using cryptocurrencies. The survey covered 1,202 persons and according to the results, 79% of the respondents knew of at least one cryptocurrency and 71% knew of Bitcoin.
Wal-Mart plans to begin testing the effectiveness of automated delivery drones based on blockchain protocol. The blockchain technology is meant to replace the elements of the delivery process that is dependent on “trust”.
While testifying in front of a US Congressional committee Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the social media giant believes blockchain may be a potential solution to the lack of trust between social media companies and their users. Dorsey cited that a decentralized blockchain would help to establish digital trust between the company and users, and that a blockchain may help to solve problems introduced in social media within the last two years.
The Winklevoss twins have won a patent for a cold storage method of protecting crypto keys that involves air-gapped computers, geographically remote vaults, plastic cards, and papyrus. The patent, awarded on Tuesday, was awarded to the brothers’ firm, Winklevoss IP, LLC by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Wyre, a crypto payments startup, has acquired Hedgy, a venture capitalist backed bitcoin smart contract development firm. Wyre hopes to leverage the acquisition of Hedgy in order to wider their crypt financial ecosystem, specifically by offering more financial instruments, such as forwards, swaps, and more.
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