Bitcoin As An Election Hedge; Binance’s Bait And Switch
Crypto News Recap for the week ending August 3rd
Developments in Financial Services
Decentralized security token exchange, DSTOQ, has launched a platform called its minimum viable product (MVP). MVP allows people to invest in real assets such as stocks, bonds, and commodities using cryptocurrencies. This platform runs using Stellar’s blockchain testnet, and all transactions will happen completely on-chain.
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), the world fourth largest bank by assets, announces it will making its first loan on a blockchain system. The loan, valued at USD$300k, is meant to support the local tea industry in the Guizhou province and is backed by a piece of agricultural land.
“Civilized blockchain”1 company Billon, has partnered with Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) to develop blockchain technology solutions. Billon implements blockchain solutions for the main purpose of processing fiat currencies. FIS will utilize Billon for document and identity management, the exploration of joint sales and product development opportunities, and smartphone micropayments among other services.
SBI Group, a Japanese financial services company, has announced plans to develop a platform to trade cryptocurrency derivatives. The platform would help crypto investors hedge their risk by offering cryptocurrency credit default swap (CDS) trading. SBI will accomplish this through its recent 12% purchase of North Carolina-based digital marketplace developer Clear Markets.
Equity research provider Fundstrat Global Advisors has announced that it will begin accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for accessing research reports. Fundstrat is using payment operator BitPay, which has processed over USD$1 billion in Bitcoin payments CY2017, to process their new BTC payments accepted from institutional investors, high net-worth clients, and financial advisors.
The most popular cryptocurrency markets tracking platform, CoinMarketCap (CMC), has added a professional-grade API, and support for derivatives markets to its services. The API provides developers with access to aggregated data packages, providing everything from price and market cap, to trading pair data and conversions. CMC is marketing this product to those who need to back-test trading strategies, and run simulations more accurately.
Logos Network, a decentralized payments platform, successfully raised USD$3mm in seed funding. Logos is hoping to build a quick and scalable P2P payments network on a new blockchain. The payments network plans to be quick, scalable, and secure.
The Stuggart Börse, Germany’s second largest stock exchange, has announced an initiative to construct a multilateral cryptocurrency trading platform, as well as an initial coin offering (ICO) platform. The exchange already launched in May a crypto trading app called Bison, which features zero-fee transactions.
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and 22 others, will develop a Microsoft cloud-based digital asset ecosystem. ICE is creating a new company for this, called Bakkt, which will work closely with companies including Starbucks and BCG. The ecosystem is planned to be a one-stop-shop for all consumers, from retail to institutional, to buy, hold, sell, and spend cryptocurrencies on a communal network. ICE will also launch physically-delivered BTC futures contracts.
The Chamber of Digital Commerce, an American advocacy group promoting the blockchain industry, is producing new guidelines to aid the in the responsible growth of the initial coin offering (ICO) markets and cryptocurrency markets all together. These guidelines were released in a whitepaper detailing current and future regulations for investor reference, a set of principles for trading platforms and token sponsors to follow, and a general discussion about the growth of the cryptocurrency industry so far.
The South Korean government has proposed revisions to its tax law, affecting cryptocurrency exchanges. The proposition states that cryptocurrency exchanges will be exempt from the tax benefits given to startups and small-mid-sized businesses. It is important to note that new propositions might be made to change this before implementation, but the South Korean government doesn’t believe that crypto transaction companies do not generate added value like other companies do.
Indian cryptocurrency traders are finding ways to circumvent the India government’s decision to ban cryptocurrency trading. Traders are now making use of a Dabba trading which refers to making OTC trades that are off the books. Dabba traders execute trades through platforms at international banks in Dubbai, Europe and the UK. Indian stock traders have used this method for years, and has experienced an upsurge after the crypto ban.
The U.S. Consumer financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has created an Office of Innovation. The Office of innovation is responsible for the development of a regulatory framework surrounding new products and services in the cryptocurrency, blockchain, and microlending fields. This regulatory sandbox could give some guidance on creation of regulatory frameworks around innovative fintech companies.
South Korea Financial Supervisory Service is advising local regulators to work towards creating an integrated blockchain system for stocks transactions. The group finds the use of a centralized ledger to be inefficient and vulnerable to hacks.
It was recently reported that HTC will be releasing a new mobile phone utilizing decentralized ledger technology, but Litecoin (LTC) founder Charlie Lee announced July 29th that he will be one of HTC’s advisors on the smartphone. The phone will be called Exodus and is expected to be the first blockchain phone. Exodus’s built-in cryptocurrency wallet will now natively support LTC and the Lightning Network (LN), in addition to Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).
Cointelegraph.com reported that digital asset exchange Huobi will begin supporting trades in the Indian rupee (INR) on its over-the-counter (OTC) service. Huobi’s peer-to-peer (P2P) trading platform will allow INR users free trading in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Tether (USDT). This comes at a good time for Indian cryptocurrency traders after the Reserve Bank of India banned banks from dealing with cryptocurrency-related companies in early July.
IOHK, the company behind the popular cryptocurrency Cardano (ADA), announced that it has launched the testnet for a new Cardano virtual machine. The virtual machine, called IELE, provides developers with a stronger and more reliable platform for developing smart contracts on Cardano’s blockchain.
IoT and blockchain platform Ambrosus has announced the launch of its mainnet, called AMB-NET 1.0. Ambrosus improves pharmaceutical and food supply chains by allowing companies to record private and public supply chain data on its blockchain. Organizations can work with the Ambrosus Network through its native AMB token.
San Francisco-based platform, DCEX, will begin accepting registration applications for its new cryptocurrency exchange. DCEX’s base currency, the currency participants use to exchange for other currencies, will be Ripple’s XRP. This is a change from the cryptocurrency exchange norm of using Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) as base currencies. Not basing all transactions off of Bitcoin is a step in the right directions for pushing the market to be more independent from it.
Thomson Reuters, a Canadian mass-media and information company, has announced a partnership with CryptoCompare, a cryptocurrency data tracking resource. CryptoCompare will provide Thomson Reuters will trade and order book data on 50 cryptocurrencies.
Major Cineplex, the largest movie theater chain in Thailand, is integrating cryptocurrency payments to permits moviegoers to buy anything from tickets to popcorn. Major Cineplex is partnering with RapizPay to deploy the digital currency payment system. This comes a week after the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission began allowing cryptocurrency operators to file license applications.
Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency services in the world, has announced in a blog post that Jeff Horowitz, an ex-Pershing exec, has joined as company’s new Chief Compliance Officer. Horowitz has ample background experience for this position, as he was Managing Director and Global Head of Compliance for Pershing, a banking regulator for the FDIC, and even led compliance and anti-money-laundering (AML) programs at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Salomon Brothers.
Binance, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange, has made its first-ever acquisition, purchasing crypto wallet provider Trust Wallet. This move appeals to cryptocurrency investors wary of keeping their coins on centralized custodial services as Trust Wallet now introduces Binance users to decentralized custody. The decentralized wallet will be offered on mobile platforms, and supports coins built off of Ethereum’s protocol. You can read more about decentralized exchanges in our latest Crypto Quant Shot: Atomic Swaps, Decentralized Exchanges, and the Future of Crypto Exchanges.
Google has announced that later this year, it will introduce open-source integrations of Ethereum and Hyperledger applications through its Google Cloud Product marketplace. This move pushes Google into the blockchain services industry, thereby joining others such as Amazon Web Services, IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft Azure.
U.S. lawmakers working with the Congressional Valley Fever Task Force are looking for blockchain applications to help fight infectious fungal diseases. The lawmakers have proposed a bill as a part of the FORWARD Act for the creation of a blockchain pilot hoping to improve the way doctors share information about endemic fungal diseases such as Valley Fever. If information could be exchanged between doctors quicker and more efficiently, they would be better equipped to treat these infectious diseases.
Mobile engagement firm MobileBridge, has launched a blockchain loyalty program called Momentum. Momentum will offer other companies many data-based insights, and consumers full custody of their earned cryptocurrency rewards. Consumers can earn loyalty cards and other rewards for simply shopping at their favorite stores. These rewards can be exchanged for Momentum tokens, and then other branded reward tokens to be used with other companies.
CoinMarketApp, a cryptocurrency news multi-use app, has released compatibility with iOS and Android smartphones. CoinMarketApp is not like typical cryptocurrency apps, in that it offers crypto historic data, prices, mining information, trustworthy news, and even portfolio services.
Northern Trust, an asset manager with USD$954bn in AUM announces plans to start a custody service for digital assets. Pete Cherecwich, Northern Trust’s head of corporate and institutional business, explained that the firm plans to offer custodial services similar to others, but with lower fees.
Swissquote, a Switzerland-based online banking firm which recently added cryptocurrency investing to its services, has seen a 44% profit increase in this C1H2018 relative to C1H2017. Throughout the second half of CY2017, Swiss quote has allowed trading in Bitcoin (BTC) with the EUR and USD, as well as Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP).
MINDOL is a blockchain platform aiming to disrupt the entertainment provider industry in Japan. MINDOL’s whitepaper states a growing demand for and heavy government investing in spreading Japanese culture throughout the world, including animations, games, music, and movies. MINDOL hopes to regularly produce programs on TV. MINDOL’s central network, called eMINDOL, lets consumers purchase products, watch content, and even invest in the projects and artists they like.
Telegram, a popular desktop and mobile app messenger, recently executed an ICO, raising USD$1.7 billion. However, US-based cybersecurity startup Virgil Security, praised the fact that Telegram published the application’s API on an open source platform for developers to review, but has uncovered several security flaws with Telegram’s ID verification app Passport. Virgil discovered issues with their encryption methods and the way they protect stored data. These issues are very important to fix if Telegram wishes to begin accepting payments on its platform.
Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading services, has now allowed users in the UK to purchase cryptocurrencies with the British Pound. Before this announcement, users in the UK would have had to acquire Euros in order to purchase cryptos on Coinbase, which sometimes took multiple days.
The government of Queensland, Australia is giving USD$8.3mm to a crypto start-up as part of the state’s innovation funding initiative. The start-up’s goal is to increase the number of tourists to Central Queensland through selling travel offers based in different cryptocurrencies.
RandomCrypto, a fintech firm working with cryptocurrencies has released a Bitcoin (BTC) mining calculator, which improves upon the details given by competing products. Random Crypto CEO Josh Metnick says he developed this product after “many years of getting screwed… by mining companies,” and that his goal is to “bring more truth, accuracy, and transparency to [proof-of-work] mining.”1 The calculator shows that at today’s current BTC prices, most bitcoin mining hardware on the markets is unprofitable.
Chinese company Seven Stars Cloud, has announced plans to build a USD$300 million crypto hub in Hartford, CT. Seven Stars Cloud is a fintech company hoping to create a community for itself and other fintech firms to collaborate on machine-learning, robotics, and crypto-related projects. The firm is also trying to launch a fintech college at schools near Hartford, CT such as Yale University, University of Hartford, University of New Haven, and University of Connecticut.
Canaan Creative, the world’s second largest provider of Bitcoin mining components has announced a new product called the AvalonMiner Inside. The Avalon Miner Inside is essentially a television with built-in Bitcoin (BTC) mining capabilities. The TV will be powered by artificial intelligence and will also enable voice dictation. The mining components possess a 2.8 trillion hashes-per-second hash rate, and even includes a profitability calculator to measure performance.
Bitfi, a cryptocurrency hardware wallet manufacturer claiming it is “unhackable”, denies claims that it was hacked. Bitfi and its official partner John McAfee offered a $100,000 bug bounty in July to try to get people to hack its wallet. But when one twitter user claimed to have done this, Bitfi CEO Daniel Khesin denied these claims amid no evidence of a hack, and because of the fact that the “hacker” refused the bounty reward.
Switzerland-based cryptocurrency platform MCO has added Litecoin (LTC) to its supported coins. MCO enables users to purchase, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies from its mobile app. Formerly known as Monaco, MCO has amassed over 180,000 downloads, and expects to widen its user base as it adds more coins to its platform. This app will soon integrate with a Visa card allowing international purchases.
Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange OKEx says it will have to claw back millions in USD$ following a single user’s large bet on bitcoin futures (the user lost “the bet”). Each futures contract has a notional value of $100, and OKEx estimate the total value of the position was over $400 million. OKEx initiated a forced liquidation of the account but because of the size, the exchange has had to trigger “societal loss risk management” mechanisms because of the size of the order. After insurance coverage is considered, the aggregate loss to investors is around BTC$1,200 (USD$8.8mm), which will "split proportionately by all profited traders' realized + unrealized gains".
Coinbase Commerce, Coinbase’s non-custodial merchant payment service, has launched a product integrating with e-commerce company WooCommerce. WooCommercie is currently used by between 21% and 28% of all web stores, and affiliated stores will now accept cryptocurrency payments from Coinbase Commerce users.
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