Cryptocurrencies poised to finish the week mostly negative while cryptocurrency regulation talks heat up in Washington and Compound unveils plans for a cryptocurrency money market
Sep 28, 2018
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Developments in Financial Services
- A Swiss-based startup headed by former UBS bankers, SEBA Crypto AG, has raised 100 million Swiss Francs (USD$103 million) to build a bank that offers crypto related services. SEBA Crypto AG plans to apply for a banking and security dealer license through Switzerland’s financial market regulator, FINMA. This license would allow SEBA Crypto AG to partake in crypto trading and investing on behalf of other banks and qualified investors.
- Bakkt, a cryptocurrency platform launched by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), announced the platform’s first offering will be physical Bitcoin futures. These physically delivered Bitcoin futures contracts will be against three fiat currencies – the U.S. Dollar, British Pound Sterling, and the Euro. ICE also operates the New York Stock Exchange.
- Bank of America filed for a patent Thursday that details an ability to adapt multiple digital signatures in a distributed network. The patent proposes a system that would manage data communication from Internet-connected devices, leading experts to surmise that this patent is related to Internet of Things technology. The patent highlights an automated determination of which devices are communicating to which third-party entities and what type of data is being communicated.
- Chinese crypto mining company, Bitmain, has officially filed for its shares to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX). This is the first step in Bitmain launching an initial public offering (IPO). In its application, Bitmain emphasized that it has generated 328% annual revenue growth with USD$2,517,719,000 of revenue in 2017. The firm also detailed that it is one of the few companies that offer mining tools for a large variety of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dash, Ethereum, and Zcash.
- Circle Internet Financial Ltd. has officially launched its USD-backed digital stablecoin, called USD Coin. USD Coin began trading Wednesday and is reportedly trading on Circle’s Poloniex exchange, Huobi, OKCoin, KUCoin, and Coinbase. Centre will serve as the regulator for USD Coin issuers while ensuring that issuers possess relevant state licenses to handle electronic money and uphold anti-money laundering standards.
- Coinbase has announced a partnership with token-based trading protocol startup, Caspian, in an attempt to boost its platform, Coinbase Pro, a platform geared towards pro traders and financial firms. As a part of the deal, Coinbase Pro will integrate Caspian’s “full-stack” of tools to add trading and portfolio management capabilities. Caspian launched just days ago as a joint venture of Kenetic, a Hong-Kong based crypto trading firm, and Tora, a firm that supplies trading systems in industries like portfolio management and risk assessment.
- Cryptocurrency investment platform, Circle, has announced that it has added EOS, Stellar, 0x, and Qtum to its platform. The addition of these four coins brings the total amount of listings on Circle to 11. Circle also announced a new feature called Explore. Explore is a tool that will allow users to research contextual and relevant information about different aspects of cryptocurrencies in a simplified way.
- Four early employees of Hong Kong cryptocurrency company, Block.one, have left in order to launch StrongBlock, a blockchain project that not much is known about. David Moss, Thomas Cox, Brian Abramson, and Corey J. Lederer were the second, third, fourth, and fifth employees of the notable blockchain company that created EOS.
- Gemini, the New York-based cryptocurrency exchange owned by the Winklevoss Twins, reportedly has plans to enter the UK market. According to the Financial Times, Gemini has begun to hire consultants for the expansion project. The move to the UK would put Gemini in direct competition with Coinbase and Bithumb, two other US crypto exchange giants with operations in the UK.
- JP Morgan announced today that it has expanded its blockchain payment platform to include over 75 multinational banks. Societe Generale and Santander are among the major financial institutions to join JP Morgan’s Interbank Information Network, which has been in development since October 2017. The goal of the Interbank Information Network is for financial institutions to combine efforts in fighting off competition from outside the banking sector.
- Swap.Online announced the release of its decentralized program on the mainnet that will feature a built-in wallet and a service for atomic swap exchange between BTC, ETH, and ERC-20. The team also announced that it had successful performed the first atomic swap between EOS and Bitcoin blockchains on their testnet and mainnet. The team plans to roll out an ability to purchase cryptos with fiat currency in the near future.
- The fourth largest bank in Thailand, Kasikornbank, has reportedly joined Visa’s business-to-business blockchain-solution, Connect, for cross-border payments. Reported by local news outlet, The Nation, Kasikornbank is the first bank in the country to use this technology. Utilizing Connect should help Kasikornbank become an industry leader in Thailand by increasing transaction security while lowering costs and transaction time.
- The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have announced they are suing 1Broker, a Marshall Islands-based securities dealer who allegedly violated federal laws through a bitcoin security swap scheme. The SEC is claiming that 1Broker is not a registered security-based swaps dealer while they also failed to list its security-based swaps on a national exchange. Investors were only able to purchase this product with Bitcoin.
- US based cryptocurrency exchange and wallet, Coinbase, has rolled out their new “Coinbase Bundles”, a product designed to simplify cryptocurrency trading. The Coinbase Bundle is a product that baskets five of the largest cryptocurrencies supported by Coinbase, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ethereum Classic. The Coinbase Bundle baskets these five cryptos in proportion with market capitalization with a minimum purchase size of USD$25.
- A US federal district judge ruled that an alleged fraudulent cryptocurrency scam can be classified as a commodity and falls under the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC sued alleged fraudulent coin, My Big Coin Pay, after the individuals behind the coin misled investors by releasing a series of false statements. The coin raised roughly USD$6 million from investors while claiming the coin was backed by gold.
- According to a report by Bloomberg, Brazil’s largest independent broker, Grupo XP, is launching a cryptocurrency exchange in the coming months. Grupo XP announced this move as Brazil may be on the brink of eased cryptocurrency regulations after Brazil’s regulatory agency announced last week it is investigating the country’s largest banks for allegedly halted the service to cryptocurrency related firms. Approximately 3 million Brazilians own cryptocurrencies while just 600,000 have holdings in stocks.
- According to Italy’s Member of Parliament, Mirella Liuzzi, Italy is about to enter the European Blockchain Partnership, a coalition of 26 EU countries. According to Liuzzi, Italy will officially join this partnership tomorrow, September 28th. Liuzzi also went on to mention that Italy will be hiring a slew of blockchain experts to develop national strategy for blockchain technology and cryptocurrency markets.
- Dubai’s Department of Finance (DoF) announced yesterday that it has partnered with the Smart Dubai Office (SDO) to launch a blockchain-powered government payment system. Reported by local news outlet, Zawya, the platform, dubbed, Payment Reconciliation and Settlement, launched yesterday and enables government entities to conduct real-time payments between each other and within government structures while providing more transparency.
- Iceland’s cryptocurrency industry may be moving away from a mining focus and moving towards a pure blockchain focus. Halldor Jorgenson, chairman of Borealis Data Center in Reykjavik, told news outlet Red Herring that demand from local cryptocurrency firms is shifting more towards pure blockchain. Iceland has become a popular area for mining due to its cold climate and cheap electricity, however, Icelandic industry experts have cited that a blockchain focus is better for the long-term future.
- Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) issued a third business improvement order to Zaif, the Japanese crypto exchange that was hacked earlier this month. Prior to the exchange getting hacked for roughly 6.7 billion yen (USD$59.7 million) of crypto assets, Japan’s FSA issued two other business improvement orders to CEO, Tech Bureau, with the first coming in March 2018 and the second coming in June 2018.
- Members of US Congress are backing House Resolution 5036, a bill that aims to establish the Independent Financial Technology Task Force to Combat Terrorism and Illicit Financing. The bill was referred to the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The bill has a provision to prevent “rogue and foreign actors from evading sanctions”, a line that may be alluding to North Korea’s alleged usage of cryptos to avoid sanctions.
- Representatives from the United States’ largest financial companies and cryptocurrency startups will be convening in Washington D.C. with lawmakers this afternoon to discuss the crypto regulatory landscape. The discussion will be a roundtable and is called, “Legislating Certainty for Cryptocurrencies.” The roundtable will focus on policy making in the new asset class while homing in on the trio of blockchain bills slated to be introduced in the US House of Representatives this Fall.
- South Korean government officials have made the decision to exclude companies that trade digital assets from the venture business classification. Cryptocurrency exchanges have already been excluded from this business classification by South Korea’s Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Startups. The goal of this move by South Korean officials appears to be to protect citizens from “illegal activities” that are associated with digital asset businesses.
- The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has issued a new report outlining that cryptocurrencies, at the moment, do not pose a risk to global financial stability. The report directly contradicts a statement made earlier this year by the head of BIS, Agustin Carstens, when he called Bitcoin a, “combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme, and an environmental disaster.” The same report goes onto add that cryptocurrency markets and prices are still highly swayed by news events related to regulation.
- The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) is considering launching a state-owned digital currency based on a blockchain ledger. Reported by local news outlet Vesti Ukraine, the NBU stressed that the state-owned digital currency would be both centralized and under government control. In January, the NBU revealed plans to launch a digital state-backed currency that was not based on blockchain technology.
- The National Stock Exchange of India announced that it is testing a platform powered by blockchain technology to conduct e-voting for publicly traded companies. The blockchain platform will tokenize voting rights while connect the firm, registrar, transfer agents, and regulators. News outlet Hindu Businessline noted in its report on this announcement that tokenized votes will be easy to transfer and proxy.
- The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking to levy sanctions against the individuals behind PlexCoin, an alleged fraudulent initial coin offering. The SEC has been in ongoing court battles with the owners of PlexCorps, Dominic Lacroix and Sabrina Paradis-Royer, since December 2017. The PlexCorps initial coin offering in question raised USD$15 million from investors with promises of a 1,354% return in just 29 days.
- Three members of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party, La Republique En Marche, have proposed an amendment to French legislation that would regulate all service providers in the crypto industry while enabling the French government to introduce regulatory framework. The legal framework would guarantee all crypto service providers an ability to operate in France however, approval from the country’s stock market regulator, Autorite des Marches Financiers, would guarantee the entities credibility and seriousness.
- Zebpay, once India’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, gave just a few hours notice in announcing that it would be halting all trading services today. In a tweet, Zebpay said that it would halt its exchange service while cancelling all unexecuted orders while crediting the funds to users’ wallets. Zebpay cited in a blog post that this decision comes in wake of the ban by India’s central bank that prohibits domestic banks from offering financial services to crypto exchanges.
- A research report authored by Weiss Ratings, a provider of market research on stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and cryptocurrencies, makes a bold prediction saying Bitcoin will lose half of its market share to Ethereum within five years. The research report cites that Bitcoin is a, “one trick pony” while Ethereum’s superior blockchain does not limit the cryptocurrency in any sense. After receiving some negative feedback from investors, Weiss Ratings clarified via tweet that they see an, “Ethereum-like platform dominating the market – not necessarily Ethereum itself.”
- A Russian subsidiary of Raiffeeisen Bank International issued an electronic mortage today via local blockchain platform, Masterchain. The mortage document, which featured the credit loan and its duration along with the property purchased, was issued using a decentralized depositary system on Russia's Masterchain – a platform Russian banks and its central bank has been developing since 2016.
- A study, titled, “Crypto Asset Market Coverage Initiation: Trading & Custody” projects that digital currency trading volume will grow by 50% in 2019. The study, conducted by Satis Group, also forecasts an overall Compound Annual Growth Rate of 9% through 2028 in crypto trading volume. The study points out that 75% of current crypto trading volume takes place on the top 20 crypto exchanges.
- According to data compiled by Diar, a prominent cryptocurrency newsletter, American government bodies have spent over USD$5.7 million of taxpayer money to purchase services provided by blockchain analysis companies. The government has purchased these services in order to investigate blockchains for illegal activities, including money laundering and terrorist financing.
- According to new data from Chainalysis, the amount of Bitcoin held in wallets by active individual users, compared to companies and long-term investors, is near an all-time high. Released in a report Monday, the firm found that 4.8 million Bitcoin, roughly 32% of the crypto’s total supply minus lost coins, is held in personal individual wallets as of August 31. This number is up significantly from the end of 2017, when just 3.8 million Bitcoin were held in personal individual wallets, or 26% of the coin’s total supply minus lost coins.
- According to the head of research at Fundstrat, Tom Lee, Ethereum is on the verge of a trend reversal that will see the altcoin rally up to USD$1,900 per token by the end of 2019. Tom Lee discussed in a note to clients of Fundstrat that Ethereum has experienced “overly negative” sentiment in 2018 and that will serve as a basis for its strong rebound to come. At the time of this writing, Ethereum is trading at USD$225 per token.
- After a bug was revealed and patched in Bitcoin Core that an individual could have exploited to create more Bitcoin, the Bitcoin community is looking forward to see how they can create a more robust process for code review. Developers have purposed more frequent, sophisticated tests that are geared at locating severe and hard to find bugs, like the one last week.
- After Bitcoin developers reported of a patch in Bitcoin Core to fix a bug that could bring down a large chunk of the network, an official Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) report revealed that the bug was more serious than initially let on. According to the CVE report, an attacker could have exploited the bug to create new Bitcoin, thereby inflating the 21-million coin supply and devaluing current Bitcoins. Over half of Bitcoin miners have updated to the new software patch meaning users can no longer exploit this bug.
- Andreessen Horowitz, a large US venture capital fund, has invested USD$15 million into blockchain startup, MakerDAO. MakerDAO is the maker of Ethereum-based stablecoin, DAI, and the decentralized credit system behind it. With the USD$15 million investment, Andreessen Horowitz now owns 6% of the total supply of DAI.
- AT&T, the world’s largest telecom firm, has launched a variety of blockchain services targeting a plethora of different industries. In a press release Wednesday, AT&T said a large part of the blockchain services are focused on automating and digitizing the firm’s supply chain process. AT&T’s blockchain platforms are reportedly designed to work alongside IBM Blockchain and Microsoft’s Azure.
- Austria will issue 1.15 billion euros worth of government bonds in a federal bond auction that will utilize blockchain notarization. Overseeing the auction will be Austria’s Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB), who will leverage the public Ethereum blockchain to carry out the blockchain notarization.
- Bitmain’s public offering documents filed yesterday reveal that the crypto mining giant lost roughly USD$400 million last quarter. After filing offering documents with the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, BitMEX research conducted a thorough analysis of the heavily redacted documents. Bitmain generated USD$1.2 billion of profit in 2017 and USD$742 million in the first half of 2018 but faced problems when the firm placed a large amount of orders with their production partners as growth slowed last quarter.
- Bitwala, a startup blockchain banking service based out of Germany, has closed a funding round that generated more than EUR4 million. The funding round was led by Earlybird Venture Capital. The successful funding round will allow Bitwala to launch its fully regulated blockchain bank service by November 2018.
- Chine city Nanjing’s arbitration body, the Nanjing Arbitration Committee, announced Thursday that its online blockchain platform for depositing and storing data in legal disputes has gone live for its testing phase. Users that can be upload data to the online blockchain platform includes evidence deposition platforms, financial institutions, and other arbitration committees. The system will allow parties to view digital evidence simultaneously over a tamper proof and distributed network.
- Compound, an Ethereum-based startup, is launching a product that would allow individuals to invest in cryptocurrencies while generating interest. Users on Compound’s platform will offer the option to issue short-term loans from their crypto earnings, effectively resulting in short-term interest generation. This creation by Compound is known in traditional financial markets as a money market.
- Cryptocurrencies and their blockchains have observed more “down-time” in 2018 than ever before. After Steemit, a blockchain-based blogging platform that pays content creator in cryptocurrencies, went down for multiple hours on September 17th, Coindesk released an article discussing the increased down-time cryptocurrencies and their blockchains have observed in 2018. Coindesk’s article details that new and innovative consensus protocols, such as varied versions of Proof of Stake, have contributed to causing increased blockchain downtimes due to experimental protocols and unforeseen issues with these experimental protocols.
- Erik Voorhees, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift, said that the exchange’s decision to begin collecting IDs from users was proactive and a necessary step to reduce legal risks. The decision came as Shapeshift was facing warnings from regulators to begin adhering to Know-Your-Customer regulations.
- Ethereum co-creator, Vitalik Buterin, believes that second-layer technologies used in cryptocurrencies like Zcash are the key to scaling Ethereum. In writing on an Ethereum research forum Saturday, Buterin details that second-layer technologies, such as Plasma, could allow Ethereum to increase transactions by as much as 3,200%.
- Ethereum developers and miners have come together to stop specialized mining hardware from operating on its network. After a new application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) was announced last Thursday, developers and mines have become vocal about ASICs effectively pushing out smaller miners from being able to operate. Members of the Ethereum community have called on developers to implement measures against ASIC mining in the Ethereum blockchain, as many believe ASICs can dominate a mining community and force decisions upon a coin.
- FedEx has become one of 14 of the newest members to join the Hyperledger consortium. The global shipping giant announced this today as they hope to help build a massive blockchain platform and applications for large enterprises. Also included in the consortium are Honeywell International and a number of crypto startups.
- Google has announced that it will update its advertising policy to allow ads from cryptocurrency exchanges after it banned all crypto related ads in March. The ad policy change will take effect at the beginning of October. Google was careful to specify that ads related to initial coin offerings, crypto wallets, and crypto trading advice were still banned.
- IBM has been awarded a patent for the autonomous self-servicing of networked devices that makes up part of its Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT) environment. First filed in June 2016, the patent is part of a system that uses a blockchain protocol on a distributed network of devices – a sort of decentralized Internet of Things.
- IBM has held several meetings with members of US Congress, specifically with members of the US Congressional Blockchain Caucus, to discuss blockchain use in ID systems, payments, and supply chains in the government. During a meeting yesterday, September 24th, IBM’s Vice President for Blockchain Technology and Chief Technology Officer, Jerry Cuomo, said to officials, “Blockchain is ready for government, let’s get government ready for blockchain.”
- In a tweeted statement, commission-free trading application, Robinhood, announced it will launch crypto trading services for residents in Alaska. Alaskan residents will now be able to trade Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum classic, and Litecoin on Robinhood’s crypto trading platform.
- In relation to the probe against Amit Bhardwaj and his alleged Bitcoin Ponzi fraud, Indian police authorities have seized USD$60 million of assets associated with the scheme. The Ponzi scheme was responsible for stealing roughly USD$5.26 billion from over 8,000 people.
- Lamassu, a company known for producing cryptocurrency ATMs, has announced a new line of crypto ATMs, dubbed Sintra. The new line of crypto ATMs will include a sleek, futuristic look and functionality that makes buying and selling cryptos as painless as possible. In order for these ATMs to breakeven, each machine needs to generate between roughly USD$800 and USD$1,000. Currently, Lamassu has 3,750 crypto ATMs installed worldwide.
- Luxembourg-based cryptocurrency wallet provider, Blockchain, announced Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against Blockchain.io just days before Blockchain.io is set to launch an initial coin offering (ICO). The lawsuit surrounds Blockchain.io’s similar name to Blockchain, citing concerns that investors may think they are buying tokens distributed by the crypto wallet, Blockchain.
- Nobuaki Kobayashi, the trustee of defunct crypto exchange, Mt.Gox, released a statement today indicating that he liquidated close to 26 billion yen ($230 million) in Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash in just four months. The selloff began around March 7, 2018 and Mr. Kobayashi sold his Bitcoin for an average of roughly USD$8,111 each and his Bitcoin Cash for about USD$1,195 each.
- Opera is launching a special edition of its Labs desktop browser today that will feature a functional built-in crypto wallet. Announced in early August, the special edition of Labs opened today for private beta testers. According to a blog-post shared with Cointelegraph, Labs will enable users to authenticate Web 3.0 and dApp transactions made on their computer using their Android phone.
- Porsche AG, the large German automobile manufacturer, is increasing its investment in startups with a focus in blockchain technology and artificial intelligence by USD$176 million over the next five years, according to a company press release. The investments will target early and growth stage businesses with the need for investment being prompted by Porsche’s desire to, “gain access to trends, new technologies, and business models.”
- Ripple announced today that it is launching a charitable program, dubbed Ripple for Good, that will pool USD$25 million from the firm with USD$80 million of donations. While Ripple has yet to finalize its program, Ripple will likely focus on educational programs in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and financial technology (FinTech). Ripple has already donated USD$50 million to 17 different universities this year as a part of its University Blockchain Research Initiative.
- SBI Holdings, the investment arm of financial giant, SBI Group, announced that it is testing a crypto token that would be used for retail payments through mobile devices. The token, dubbed “S coin”, is one based on distributed ledger technology and would allow users to carry out cash free transactions in retail environments. S coin is currently being tested by SBI’s employees at cafes and restaurants around SBI’s headquarters in Tokyo.
- South American crypto exchange, Buda.com, has requested the help of Colombian President, Ivan Duque, in resuming operations in Columbia. Reported by local news outlet, La Republica, the digital asset exchange had about 35,000 accounts in Columbia before it was forced to terminate operations after the Columbia’s banks closed all of the exchange's accounts due to lack of guarantees.
- Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food is planning on adopting blockchain technology to increase transparency within its forestry industry. Reported by local news outlet, EuropaPress, on Friday, Chainwood, the operating group in charge of the project, aims to use blockchain technology to improve the traceability and efficiency of the wood supply in Spain.
- Swiss-based asset management firm, Tiberius Group AG, has announced that it will introduce a cryptocurrency backed by precious metals. Tiberius Group plans to issue their Tiberius Coin that will trade on a blockchain ledger and be tied to the price of copper, aluminum, nickel, cobalt, tin, gold, and platinum. CEO Giuseppe Rapallo said the Tiberius Coin will likely be offered at around USD$0.70 per token. The Tiberius Coin will be issued on LATOKEN, an Estonian exchange that meets “necessary regulatory standards.”
- The Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) announced Tuesday that it is beginning to work on a blockchain platform to track milk products in order to, “increase supply chain transparency.” The DFA does not have plans on how exactly to implement a blockchain solution but has a simple goal in mind to help consumers understand where their food comes from.
- The Malaysian government is beginning to explore blockchain solutions in its three largest industries: renewable energy, palm oil, and Islamic finance. The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) will spearhead the blockchain adoption with goals of increasing transparency, sustainability, and logistical efficiency. MIGHT is currently in the process of meeting with industry leaders to find out how blockchain solutions can best address each of the three industries.
- The world’s first advanced blockchain identity laboratory and Europe’s first dedicated blockchain research facility launched in Eidinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Called the Blockpass Identity Lab, the blockchain research facility will focus on exploring ways blockchain technology can be implemented to protect personal data online. The blockchain research laboratory is part of a £600,000 joint venture between Hong Kong-based Blockpass IDN and Scottish University, Edinburgh Napier University.
- Tom Emmer, a member of US Congress, is sponsoring a trio of blockchain-focused bills that aims to support the development and use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. The first of the three bills addresses regulatory frameworks around cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The second bill ensures cryptocurrency miners would not be required to register as money transmitters. The third bill would protect tax payers in reporting revenue from tokens that resulted from a hardfork. Emmer’s announcement of these three bills came Friday, the same day he was named a co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.
- Walmart and its division, Sam’s Club, will begin to require suppliers of produce to implement farm-to-store tracking systems that use blockchain technology. The tracking system Walmart wants its produce suppliers to implement is a distributed ledger technology system developed by IBM. Walmart will require its produce suppliers to implement the blockchain tacking system by September 2019.
*Data in Price Return and Updated Real-Time (with a delay), Source: StockDio