Cryptocurrencies are set to finish the week mixed after Japan's FSA grants self-regulatory status to Japanese cryptocurrency industry group and Bitfinex destroys half of its USDT treasury supply
Oct 26, 2018
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Developments in Financial Services
- A joint study conducted by IBM Blockchain World Wire and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) finds that a majority of global financial institutions believe that central banks should develop central bank-issued digital currencies. 38% of financial institutions surveyed are reportedly actively exploring and trialing central bank-issued digital currencies. 76% of survey respondents expressed uncertainty about the efficiency of distributed ledger technology implementations.
- Bloomberg reports that Bitfury, a large European cryptocurrency miner manufacturer, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) as one of a few different options to raise funding -- Bitfury is also considering raising debt or selling a minority stake in the company, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s sources detail that Bitfury could IPO with a valuation between USD$3 billion and USD$5 billion, however, the report specifies that these valuations are, “early estimates and could change depending on markets and the industry.” The firm is reportedly considering listing its IPO on exchanges in Amsterdam, London, or Hong Kong.
- Caspian, a fintech startup based in the Cayman Islands, has completed its initial coin offering (ICO) ahead of schedule and raised USD$19.5 million in the process. Caspian was founded earlier in 2018 and aims to consolidate the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges under one single interface while also offering a full-stack of cryptocurrency asset management tools, including features geared towards compliance, algorithms, portfolio management, risk, and reporting. 40% of the USD$19.5 million raised will go towards research and development for Caspian while 25% and 15% will go towards sales/marketing and application support, respectively. Specifically, Caspian is geared toward attracting institutional clients to use their application.
- Experts are beginning to weigh in on the potentially gargantuan impact that Fidelity Investments could have on cryptocurrency markets after the investment management firm announced the launch of a new arm, Fidelity Digital Asset Management. According to BKCM CEO, Brian Kelly, the new stamp of approval by Fidelity on cryptocurrency markets is enough to appeal to institutional investors, including hedge funds, pensions, and endowments. Yesterday, Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, said on Twitter, “What happens when a fund like Fidelity allocates a mere 5% of their portfolio to crypto? Have you calculated how much that is?”5% of Fidelity’s assets under management equals roughly USD$360 billion, which would nearly triple the current size of cryptocurrency markets.
- Fidelity Investments’ head of blockchain research and development, Hadley Stern, has left Fidelity after 17 years to serve as COO of blockchain software startup, Bloq. Stern’s departure comes just days after Fidelity announced the launch of a new arm, Fidelity Digital Asset Services. In regards to the career move, Stern said, “I’m glad to dig deeper into the blockchain technology beyond just financial services use cases: healthcare, identity, internet of things, cross-border transactions. It really gets to this notion of tokenization of things, that anything that can be tokenized will be, and potentially what can be decentralized will be.” In his new role at Bloq, a startup that provides blockchain solutions to enterprises, Stern will focus on broad blockchain applications and delivering products to clients.
- Her Majesty’s Royal Mint, the institution responsible for producing currency in Britain, will no longer launch a gold-backed cryptocurrency after the government vetoed the project. According to a Reuters report, the project was first unveiled in 2016 and had aspirations of producing USD$1 billion worth of digital gold tokens. The project was originally pitched as a way for investors to buy and trade gold currently being held in the vaults of the 1,100-year-old institution.
- In its 3rd quarter XRP Markets Report released on Thursday, Ripple announced that it sold USD$163.33 million of XRP, more than double from 2Q2018 where it sold USD$75.53 million of XRP. A majority of the XRP sales came from institutions, which were responsible for USD$98.06 million of XRP sold, up a whopping 481% from 2Q2018 where it sold USD$16.87 million of XRP to institutions. Ripple also detailed that it released 3 billion XRP from escrow accounts, however, 2.6 billion XRP were placed in new escrow accounts.
- ING, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company, confirmed in a Monday press release that it has released its open source blockchain tool, Zero-Knowledge Set Membership (ZKSM). ZKSM essentially functions as a privacy ‘improvement’ to distributed ledger technology by providing validation to certain alphanumeric data without revealing that data’s full characteristics. In its press release, ING detailed, “One of the major challenges in implementing new distributed ledger technology is protecting private information on a public ledger, where changes must be verified by each participant in the network.”
- Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange and new cryptocurrency venture, Bakkt, has announced the launch date for Bitcoin (BTC) futures on Bakkt. Bakkt is a platform meant to facilitate the trading, storing, and spending of cryptocurrencies. According to a document posted on ICE’s website, Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contracts will begin trading on December 12th, 2018. The document goes on to read, “Each futures contract calls for delivery of one bitcoin held in the Bakkt Digital Asset Warehouse, and will trade in US Dollar terms. One daily contract will be listed for trading each Exchange Business Day.”
- Mastercard, the US multinational financial services corporation, believes that cryptocurrencies could benefit from applying some principles of fractional reserve banking, according to a new patent application made public on Thursday. The patent application, submitted through the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), outlines plans to allow merchants to interact with “blockchain currencies” through a new method of simultaneous cryptocurrency and fiat-currency storage. The patent details, “The use of traditional payment networks and payment systems technologies in combination with blockchain currencies may provide consumers and merchants the benefits of the decentralized blockchain while maintaining security of account information and provide a strong defense against fraud and theft.”
- Nasdaq, the world’s second largest stock exchange by market capitalization, has been awarded a new patent to tackle the implementation of blockchain in releasing new information to the media industry. Originally filed in January 2017, the patent references, “an information computer system […] provided for securely releasing time-sensitive information to recipients via a blockchain.” The patent explains the purposed system’s process, saying, “A submitter submits a document to the system and a blockchain transaction is generated and submitted to the blockchain based on the document […] An editor may edit the document and an approver may approve the document for release to the recipients.” This past June, Nasdaq tested a blockchain proof-of-concept system for securities collateral.
- Ran Neuner, host of CNBC Africa show, Crypto Trader, claimed that Coinbase, the major US-based cryptocurrency exchange, is about to announce its first initial public offering (IPO). Neuner tweeted Thursday that details of the Coinbase IPO will be revealed live on his show Friday. Neuner supplied an infographic in his tweet detailing that Coinbase has 25 million total users, 7 million accounts with fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies, and 600,000 monthly active trading accounts. Neuner also supplied an infographic that reveals Coinbase's financials -- per the infographic, Coinbase generated USD$900 million in revenue last quarter vs. USD$450 million in revenue in 4Q2017. In terms of a revenue breakdown, the infographic details that Coinbase generated 80% of its revenue from consumers, 15% of its revenue from Coinbase Pro (institutional), and 5% of its revenue from ‘other’.
- Swissquote, a Swiss online financial services provider, has reportedly become the “first bank worldwide” to offer purchase and custodial services of initial coin offerings (ICOs) for clients. Announced via press release on Monday, Swissquote explained that it is now no longer necessary for ICO consumers to “understand blockchain”. Swissquote’s new service will allow users to purchase ICO tokens directly from their online account while the bank will hold the tokens in a separately managed wallet. ICO markets have suffered in 2018 as roughly 90% of ICO tokens are now trading below their initial launch price.
- Tech news outlet, The Block, is reporting that the Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) Bakkt cryptocurrency platform could receive approval from US regulators to launch physically-delivered Bitcoin (BTC) futures trading. The Block cites an anonymous source, “with direct knowledge of the situation,” who also said that Bakkt could launch Bitcoin futures trading as soon as the first week of next month. The anonymous source also alleged that DV Trading, a Chicago trading firm, will trade Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures product.
- The National Bank of Canada (NBC) is partnering with IT and business consulting firm, CGI, and blockchain startup, Skuchain, to simplify the process banks use to issue transactions by leveraging smart contracts to replace current email-based procedures. The partnership will combine CGI’s Trade360 trade finance platform with Skuchain’s software to create smart contracts in order to accomplish their goal. Patrice Roy, vice president of payments, cash management, and international solutions at the National Bank of Canada said about the partnership, “This will enable us to offer a simple, fast and efficient experience to our commercial clients which facilitates managing their business.”
- The pitch decks used by Bitmain Technologies in soliciting investors for its upcoming initial public offerings reportedly contained false information, claiming the company had secured financial backing from Digital Sky Technologies Global and GIC Private Limited, according to CoinDesk. CoinDesk obtained three versions of the pitch decks, however, they were not able to verify their authenticity because Bitmain did not respond to CoinDesk’s multiple inquiries regarding the pitch decks. One version of the pitch deck claims that Bitmain had, “recently completed a USD$400 million Series B round of financing from Sequoia Capital, Digital Sky Technologies Global, and GIC Private Limited, with a pre-investment valuation of USD$12 billion.”
- Visa announced in a press release on Sunday that it is set to launch its blockchain-based identity system in partnership with IBM in the first quarter of 2019. Dubbed Visa B2B Connect, the platform will offer financial institutions a way to securely process cross-border payments while verifying users’ identities. Global Head of Visa’s Business Solutions, Kevin Phalen, said in regards to the system, “B2B Connect’s digital identity greatly reduces the opportunity for fraud that might otherwise exist with checks, ACH and wire transfers today, while also helping companies remain compliant as part of the regulated financial ecosystem.”
- A long-awaited draft of the Russian bill concerning cryptocurrencies and blockchain regulation has been made public and it will reportedly let privately held businesses and legal entities ‘digitize’ their shares and store them on a blockchain ledger. The draft bill, “On Digital Financial Assets” was obtained by local news outlet, Vedomosti, and details the legalization of so-called, “digital financial outlets (DFA)” that would act as digitized equity for a company -- a DFA is essentially a cryptocurrency token, just under a different name. The new bill, if approved, would apply to limited liability companies as well as non-public stock companies.
- Alibaba Cloud, Alibaba’s cloud computing division, is expanding its blockchain-as-a-service offering outside of China, as per a company press release. Soon after Alibaba Cloud initially rolls out its enterprise-level blockchain-as-a-service platform in China, Alibaba Cloud will offer the services to international markets, including the United States, Europe, and South East Asia. Alibaba Cloud’s blockchain-as-a-service is based on two blockchain network implementations, including Hyperledger Fabric and Ant Blockchain -- the blockchain-as-a-service platform offers a range of applications like automatic deployment, consortium blockchain management, and smart contracts.
- As per the Taipei Times, Taiwan is planning to release draft initial coin offering (ICO) regulatory framework by June 2019. The Taiei Times cited Welington Koo, chairman of Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), who spoke at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan Finance Committee, saying, “The more we regulate, the more this new economic behavior wanes.”
- Coinbase has been granted approval from New York State regulators to offer cryptocurrency custody services in New York, per an announcement on Tuesday. The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) granted authorization for Coinbase to offer custody services to New Yorkers for cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Ripple (XRP), and Litecoin (LTC). Coinbase’s custody services, launched this past July, utilizes measures like on-chain segregation of digital assets, offline multi-signature verification, and cold storage auditing and reporting to ensure cryptocurrency assets are secure.
- Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is considering a cap on the amount of leverage investors can borrow for margin trading cryptocurrencies, according to a Nikkei report this Thursday morning. Currently, there are no restrictions on margin trading amounts in domestic Japanese markets with some exchanges offering traders an ability to leverage 25x their deposit. The FSA is reportedly considering a margin trading leverage cap of between 2x and 4x deposits. Currently, 16 licensed cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan offer margin-trading services while Japan’s self-regulating cryptocurrency body enforced a margin trading leverage cap of 4x deposits starting this July.
- Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) officially recognized and approved the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association as a self-regulating industry body on Tuesday. The Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association is comprised of 16 licensed Japanese cryptocurrency trading platforms and was created in the beginning of 2018, shortly after the USD$530 million hack on Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck. In the past, the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association has taken action by imposing regular audits on cryptocurrency exchanges and setting limits on margin available to crypto traders. With the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association's new ‘certified fund settlement business association’ status, the self-regulating body will be legally allowed to set rules for Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges and take action if said rules are violated.
- Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle, a cryptocurrency investment application backed by Goldman Sachs, called on global regulators to develop cryptocurrency regulation in coordination with each other while interviewing with Reuters on Monday. In the interview, Allaire said he believes that in regards to the cryptocurrency industry, “ultimately there needs to be normalization at the G20 level.” Allaire’s comments come shortly after the Financial Action Task Force, the global money laundering regulator, announced they have established regulation for cryptocurrency exchanges, digital wallets, and other crypto firms. In regards to the Financial Action Task Force, Allaire said the move was, “a good start.”
- Malta’s Financial Services Authority is warning investors of a “dubious” online cryptocurrency trading platform that falsely claims to be licensed in the country. The platform in question, Primetradingbot, reportedly runs a “high-yield” Bitcoin (BTC) investment scheme. In its warning, the Malta Financial Services Authority said, “The MFSA wishes to alert the public, in Malta and abroad, that Primetradingbot is not licensed or otherwise authorized by the MFSA to provide any investment other financial services which are required to be licensed or otherwise authorized under Maltese law.” The Malta Financial Services Authority also provided investors with a list of licensed cryptocurrency entities on its website.
- Masayoshi Amamiya, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan, reiterated his stance towards a central bank-issued digital currency while speaking at a meeting in Nagoya, Japan. Amamiya stated that he does not believe central bank-issued digital currencies are likely to improve existing monetary systems while also stating that the Bank of Japan has no plans to issue a digital currency. Financial experts have recently claimed that a central bank-issued digital currency could provide a way for central banks to provide stimulation to their economy when interest rates fall to zero -- Amamiya questioned this theory, saying, “In order for central banks to overcome the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates, they would need to get rid of cash from society.”
- Police officers in Bangalore, India have shut down and taken possession of a cryptocurrency ATM set up by cryptocurrency exchange, Unocoin, just weeks earlier. According to a report by the Times of India, Harish BV, co-founder and CTO of Unocoin, was arrested by police while attending to the cryptocurrency ATM on Tuesday. In a news report by Bangalore Mirror published Wednesday, Alok Kumar, commissioner of the Bangalore City Police, said that Unocoin did not have a license from the Reserve Bank of India, the Securities Exchange Board of India, or any other agency allowing Unocoin to conduct cryptocurrency transactions. This arrest comes as India’s Supreme Court is deliberating on the legality of the Reserve Bank of India’s outright cryptocurrency ban in India, which came into effect on July 6th, 2018.
- Setl, a UK blockchain startup, has received approval from French securities regulators and is set to enter the European Union’s settlement system. Setl aims to launch its Target2-Securities platform, a EUR1 billion network built to span across the European Union and settle securities processed by the European Central Bank. Setl is expected to launch in early 2019.
- South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FCS) issued a statement today warning investors to be cautious when investing in cryptocurrencies. Documents published on the FSC’s website warn investors that they could be misled by cryptocurrency funds and that investors could mistake cryptocurrency funds for legal public funds that comply with South Korea’s Capital Markets Act. The FSC added that cryptocurrency funds must be approved and registered with the FSC to operate legally -- something no South Korean cryptocurrency fund has done yet.
- Stephen Hammond, a UK Member of Parliament, has joined the advisory board of IronX, a retail-focused cryptocurrency exchange, to offer guidance on government relations. IronX is a joint-venture by IronFX, a digital trading firm, and EmurgoHK, the developers of the world’s ninth largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Cardano (ADA). The platform’s mission is to, “bring crypto trading to the mass retail trading market.” Hammond has served as a Member of Parliament since 2005 prior to a 20-year career in financial markets -- today, Hammond was quoted saying, “We are all on a steep learning curve to understand this new asset class.”
- Switzerland’s Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) has published new anti-money-laundering standards related to digital assets and distributed ledger technologies. The creation of these standards was part of a joint initiative between Swissquote, an online Swiss-bank, Temenos, a market software maker, and Lenz & Staehelin, Switzerland’s largest law firm. CMTA said the standards are meant to, “clarify measures to be taken in order to comply with the Swiss regulations against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.” These standards do not possess any formal regulatory status in Switzerland.
- The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has halted an initial coin offering (ICO) being conducted by Global Tech Exchange (GTE) that was launched in the Summer of 2018. Global Tech Exchange had a fundraising goal of USD$50 million to create an education-based trading and exchange platform. The ICO by Global Tech Exchange gained popularity after being endorsed by Michael Clarke, a former Australian cricket captain. On Global Tech Exchange’s website, however, a statement reads that Michael Clarke, “is no longer associated with Global Tech Exchange and the Global Tech Exchange Blockchain and awareness program”. Earlier in the fall, the ASIC announced plans to increase scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges and to crackdown on ICOs taking place in the country.
- The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), China’s highest-level internet regulator, has published a new set of draft regulations for blockchain-based information service providers. Published on October 19th, 2018, the draft is open for public review and consultation until November 2nd, 2018. Containing 23 articles concerning blockchain-based information service regulation, the draft regulations would require all entities to register with the CAC within 10 days before launching their platform. Another effect of the draft regulations would require service providers to request users to register for services using their real names, phone numbers, and national ID card numbers.
- The Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) published a research report on October 18th, 2018 that looked at the potential of blockchain and AI technology in different facets of finance and found that blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused fintech firms are best regulated under pre-existing financial regulations. The report details that emerging technologies like blockchain technology could be, “integrated in the areas of investment, trading, clearing, and settlement,” while adding that regulations should be common to all companies in the finance space. The report went on to add that financial regulations must be looked at and updated continuously in order to keep pace with rapid technological change and to prevent any regulatory loopholes from being exploited.
- The Shenzen Court of International Arbitration published a case analysis on Thursday that contains a ruling involving a recent dispute related to the possession and transfer of cryptocurrency assets. Despite China’s ban on cryptocurrency trading, the arbitration body found that Bitcoin should still be legally protected as property with economic values. The case with the ruling involved a plaintiff who signed an agreement for the defendant to manage a pool of cryptocurrencies on behalf of the plaintiff until a certain period in time -- upon reaching that period in time, the defendant refused to return the cryptocurrency assets. The cryptocurrencies in question were 20 Bitcoin (BTC), 50 Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and 13 Bitcoin Diamond (BCD), worth a combined USD$493,158.
- The Spanish Ministry of Finance has enacted a draft law to close a legal loophole that allowed holders of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies in Spain to circumvent asset declaration laws. The draft law was approved by the Council of Ministers early on Thursday and will require all Spaniards with off-shore currency holdings to declare their holdings in an annual declaration, whether those holdings are fiat are cryptocurrency. The newly enacted draft law is expected to raise tax revenues by 850 million euros.
- The Supreme Court of India has formally requested that the Indian government provide an opinion on cryptocurrencies after the country’s central bank banned domestic banks from providing services to cryptocurrency firms. The Supreme Court of India made this request on Thursday after the court heard multiple petitions submitted by local cryptocurrency exchanges and the Internet & Mobile Association of India concerning the Reserve Bank of India’s ban. Nakul Dewan, the legal representative for nine different cryptocurrency exchanges involved in the hearing, was quoted saying, “The government must give some finality to the issue. We have got employees. There are jobs.” The Supreme Court of India will revisit the matters on November 20th, 2018.
- The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released a memorandum, dated October 9th, 2018, from its meeting regarding Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded-fund (ETF) applications from VanEck and SolidX. The memorandum details that US SEC Commissioner, Elad L. Roisman, along with other members of the US SEC met with representatives from SolidX, VanEck, and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Attendees of the meeting reportedly argued with the US SEC over concerns, saying, “As issuers, we are concerned the SEC staff have created a moving target in their use of the word ‘significant.’ The Staff have never provided guidance as to what ‘significant’ means, enabling them to move the goal post indefinitely.” According to the memorandum, the proposed share pricing of the physically-backed Bitcoin ETF is roughly USD$200,0000, or 25 BTC/share.
- Unikrn, an esports company that received USD$15 million in funding from its initial coin offering (ICO) pre-sale last year, has been awarded a sports betting license in the Isle of Man -- Unikrn's ICO attracted notable investors, including Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, and Elisabeth Murdoch. The sports betting license awarded to Unikrn will allow users to place bets on esports teams, events, and players in popular esports games like Fortnite, League of Legends, and Dota 2 after the platform launches. UnikoinGold (UKG) will be the native cryptocurrency of Unikrn’s platform -- the token will be used to bet on esports and give users exclusive benefits. Unikrn hopes to become the default esports wagering platform in more than 20 countries and has the ability to process more than 9,000 bets per second.
- While interviewing with Cointelegraph on Tuesday, Dash Core Group’s CEO, Ryan Taylor, expressed that he believes central bank-issued cryptocurrencies are the “inevitable future”. Taylor went on to state that he thinks global cryptocurrency regulation is coming very soon, adding, “the smaller nations will move first as the risks [for them] are lower.” Taylor believes central banks stand to benefit from issuing their own cryptocurrencies, but he is not sure how markets would react, saying, “I do think it’s inevitable. They [governments] all are going --through either competitors’ pressure or through their own desires -- to launch their own cryptocurrencies. But I don’t think it is where the greatest innovations will occur.”
- While speaking at the India Mobile Congress 2018 event, Ajjt Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that the US should not “disadvantage” emerging technologies such as blockchain due to “antiquated” regulations -- Pai went on to call for a conversation between tech giants like Facebook and Google regarding data privacy and blockchain’s potential applications. Pai went on to comment, “We don’t have jurisdiction over these firms but that’s one of the things we are trying to learn about. What are the emerging technologies that will have an effect on this space and how should our thinking about regulation evolve?”
- A new upgrade, expected to be activated on the Zcash (ZEC) blockchain on October 29th, 2018, adds significant usability to Zcash’s protocol by reducing the size of private transactions. The upgrade, called Sapling, is a hardfork that has been in development since Zcash launched in 2016. Speaking about Sapling, Nathan Wilcox, CTO of the Zcash Company, said, “The Sapling protocol will allow shielded transfers to be completed with about 100 times less memory and probably six or more times faster.” Currently, shielded transactions on Zcash are only possible for users that run a full node -- the Sapling upgrade should enable shielded transactions for anyone using Zcash.
- A research report conducted by Recorded Future, a US-based security firm, finds that the North Korean government has sponsored at least two scam cryptocurrencies so far in 2018. Titled, "Shifting Patterns in Internet Use Reveal Adaptable and Innovative North Korean Ruling Elite,” the report details that the first scam coin backed by the North Korean government is Interstellar Coin, founded by Insikt Group in 2018 -- since being established, the coin has gone by a number of names, including HOLD, HUZU, and Stellar. The second scam coin backed by North Korea is called Marine Chain coin and it was originally identified on multiple Bitcoin forums in August 2018 -- the scam coin claim to enable the tokenization of maritime vessels for multiple users and owners.
- A study conducted by Hired, called the 2018 State of Salaries Report, finds that the average salary of a blockchain engineer in 2018 has soared to between USD$150,000 and USD$175,000 per year -- this is notably higher than software engineers’ average salary of USD$135,000. While speaking to CNBC, Paul Mehul, CEO of Hired, said, “There’s a ton of demand for blockchain. Software engineers are in very short supply, but this is even more acute and that’s why salaries are even higher.” According to the Hired report, demand for blockchain engineers has risen 400% since a year ago despite the cryptocurrency bear market. A CNBC article also notes that demand for blockchain engineers have been further bolstered by tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft.
- According to four different studies conducted by institutional authorities, between 3% and 5% of Canadians own Bitcoin (BTC). One study cited by the Bank of Canada finds that Bitcoin awareness in Canada has steadily risen from 64% in 2016 to 85% in 2017. The studies also find that survey participants’ reason for owning BTC changed from transactional purposes in 2016 to investment purposes in 2017. Francis Pouliot, CEO of Bylls, cited these four studies, saying adoption of BTC and cryptocurrencies is “real”.
- After Coindesk accused Bitfinex, a major cryptocurrency exchange and operator of stablecoin Tether (USDT), of publishing trading volume data from, “a market that doesn’t exist,”, Bitfinex responded, saying they do not publish fake numbers. In its article, Coindesk noted that Bitfinex does not offer a USDT/USD pair, however, their exchange reports substantial trading volume on its exchange for the pairing -- at the time of this writing, daily trading volume for USDT/USD on Bitfinex is reported as USD$33,598,474, or 18.30% of USDT’s total 24-hour trading volume. Bitfinex clarified in its rebuttal, saying they reach their daily trading volume calculation for USDT/USD by calculating the sum of USDT deposits and withdrawals to and from Bitfinex. Bitfinex provided a link to the application program interface (API) where this data is supposed to be visible, however, the link did not work at the time of this writing.
- After launching a cryptocurrency exchange in June, SBI Group is partnering with Sepior, a blockchain security startup, to develop a digital wallet. Sepior announced in a press release on Monday that SBI has licensed its threshold signature wallet technology, a proprietary technology that can be used to secure online content and transactions. Sepior’s threshold technology uses signatures that are based on multiparty computation to allow private information to be shared between different parties without revealing the actual private information. Yoshitake Kitao, CEO of SBI Holdings, said in a press release, “After extensive investigation, our security research team determined threshold signatures based on multiparty computation offered our desired level of security, performance, and scalability needed to manage transactions for our growing SI Virtual Currencies customer base.”
- Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has officially launched Uganda’s first ever fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange, as per an official announcement on Medium. Currently, Ugandans are only able to trade Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) through the domestic Ugandan shilling (UGX). Called Binance Uganda, the new fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange is offering zero-fee trading until November 24th, 2018. According to the company statement, the launch of Binance Uganda is part of Binance’s initiative to contribute to blockchain technology development across the African continent -- shortly after their announcement, Binance’s charity wing donated USD$500,000 aid Uganda.
- Bitmain, one of the world’s largest producers of cryptocurrency mining devices, has released a new software update for its Bitcoin mining device, Antminer s9, that activates a controversial code to mine Bitcoin more efficiently. The code in the update is controversial because it exploits a flaw in Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm that allows Bitmain’s Antminer s9 to mine Bitcoin 20% more efficiently. The exploit also saves miners roughly 13% on energy costs.
- Cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, announced that it has added support and will begin listing trading pairs for the Circle-issued stablecoin, USDC. Coinbase discussed in a blog post published Tuesday that US users outside of New York state can buy, sell, send, and receive USC through iOS and Android applications and on coinbase.com. USDC is backed 1:1 by the US Dollar and is 100% collateralized. Coinbase said in regards to listing USDC, “The advantage of a blockchain-based digital dollar like USDC is it’s easier to program with, send quickly, use in dApps, and to store locally than traditional bank account-based dollars. That’s why we think of it as an important step towards a more open financial system.”
- Despite Tether (USDT) maintaining the position on Coinmarketcap.com as the second most traded cryptocurrency by daily volume, Bitfinex, the cryptocurrency exchange that offers USDT, does not actually offer a USDT/USD trading pair. Although users of Bitfinex are allowed to deposit and withdraw both USDT and US Dollars, this is far less efficient and takes much longer than a simple trading pair. According to Carylyne Chan, Coinmarketcap’s global head of marketing, the data that shows the USDT/USD trading pair as the second most frequently traded cryptocurrency pair comes from Bitfinex’s application program interface (API). Coindesk reached out to Bitfinex in regards to this phenomenon, but Bitfinex did not provide a response.
- Europe’s largest port, the Port of Rotterdam, has partnered with Dutch banking giant, ABN AMRO, and Samsung’s IT subsidiary, Samsung SDS, to test blockchain technology for shipping. Announced in a Samsung SDS press release on Monday morning, the partnership will focus primarily on a trial involving the shipment of containers from an unnamed factory in Asia to the Port of Rotterdam. The announcement also states that the technology and infrastructure behind the project was developed by BlockLab, a Dutch company created by the Port of Rotterdam Authority. Aside from the infrastructure developed by Blocklab, the partnership will involve two other decentralized platforms, including Samsung’s Nexledger and R3’s Corda.
- Gavin Wood, founder of blockchain infrastructure firm, Parity Technologies, launched a blockchain live in just fifteen minutes while on stage at the Web3 Summit in Berlin. Wood launched the blockchain in the manner that he did to prove how fast and easy the entire process of a platform launch could be. Substrate, the blockchain framework demoed by Wood, serves as framework for building blockchains using Parity’s Polkadot protocol. Substrate is set to release by the end of 2019 with the beta launching in November 2019.
- HTC, the producer of Android smartphones, has announced that their HTC Exodus is available for pre-order and must be purchased using cryptocurrency. Customers across 30 countries, including the United States, Hong Kong, and the UK can purchase the new phone, dubbed the EXODUS 1, using either Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH). The EXODUS 1 includes a ‘secret enclave’ within the device to store a user’s cryptocurrency wallet keys -- the ‘secret enclave’ is also kept separate from the Android operating system. The EXODUS 1 is known as the ‘world’s first native blockchain phone’, and features support for decentralized applications (DApps).
- In a blog post published on Wednesday, Tether, the issuer of stablecoin USDT, announced that it, “redeemed a significant amount,” of USDT from circulation and that it will destroy 500 million USDT from its treasury wallet -- the 500 million destroyed USDT represents a whopping 52.8% of its total treasury supply for future issuances. This news comes after the value of USDT dipped below USD$0.90/token last week and after Circle and Coinbase partnered to list stablecoin USDC on Coinbase. Tether refered readers of the announcement to their white paper, where the firm states, "every tether issued or redeemed, as publicly recorded by the Bitcoin blockchain will correspond to a desposit or withdrawal of funds from the [company's] bank account."
- In reporting its quarterly financial results on Wednesday, semiconductor manufacturer Advanced Micro Drives (AMD) detailed that its, “blockchain-related graphics processing unit (GPU) sales in the third quarter were negligible.” Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, has previously stated that blockchain technology is, “a bit of a distraction, in the short term,” however, she later admitted the importance of blockchain technology, saying, “the idea you can do all these peer-to-peer transactions, a decentralized network, is a good technology.” AMD’s stock price fell 9% to close at USD$22.79/share in yesterday’s trading.
- Monero (XMR) transaction fees have fallen more than 96% to an average of USD$0.021 per transaction after the privacy coin enacted the ‘bulletproofs’ software upgrade. Bulletproofs is built to make privacy features on privacy coins like Monero more scalable by changing the way confidential transactions are verified. The bulletproofs update also contained deterrents to prevent the development of specialized mining hardware for Monero.
- Novatti Group, an Australian online payments processor, announced at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday that it is launching a new Australian dollar (AUD)-pegged stablecoin on the Stellar blockchain on November 19th, 2018 -- the stablecoin will be collateralized 1:1 by AUD held in a trust. Stablecoins have traditionally been used to move money quickly between cryptocurrency exchanges, however, Novatti Group aims for this token to be for more common use cases, including purchases and remittances. Peter Cook, a Managing Director with Novatti, said in an interview with Coindesk, “We think that people will use them [stablecoins] to help purchase goods for Australian enterprises. And we think that [people] will also use them for the payment of bills or for services inside of Australia.”
- Oracle Corporation, the software development giant, announced on Wednesday that it has released a suite of blockchain-based software-as-a-service applications on its Oracle Blockchain Cloud Services platform. According to the announcement, the blockchain-based software-as-a-service applications are designed to improve traceability and transparency in supply chains. Oracle released four different applications as a part of this announcement, including Intelligent Track and Trace, Lot Lineage and Provenance, Intelligent Cold Chain, and Warranty and Usage Tracking.
- People Capital, the venture capital division of People’s Daily Online, China’s largest newspaper, has officially entered an agreement with Xunlei Limited to leverage blockchain technology for innovation and to empower the Chinese economy -- this agreement is part of a larger global partnership agreement signed earlier in 2018 at the People’s Daily Online’s China-US Entrepreneur and Investment Summit hosted in the US. As part of the agreement, People Capital and Xunlei Limited will build a blockchain laboratory to explore how blockchain technology can be implemented in various business sectors across China. The laboratory will fall under the jurisdiction of People Capital’s Blockchain Research Institute, a research platform focused on distributed ledger technology.
- Rumors of a delay in Ethereum’s upcoming hardfork, Constantinople, have been confirmed after developers agreed in a meeting on Friday, October 19th, 2018 to delay the hardfork until early 2019. The target launch date was originally aimed for November 2018 until several bugs were discovered in the hardfork’s code that was recently enacted on the Ethereum test network. Ethereum developer, Afri Schoeden, said while the meeting was being live streamed, “I keep getting the feeling that we’re trying to rush this and I would second that we should breathe and see what happens.”
- Sony Computer Science Labs, the research arm of Japanese technology giant, Sony, announced in a press release Tuesday that it created a contactless cryptocurrency hardware wallet. Still unnamed, the new device leverages IC smart card technology in order to communicate with various cryptocurrency networks. The new device’s biggest advantage, according to developers from Sony Computer Science Lab, is that it dispenses the need to connect the cryptocurrency wallet through a UBS connection. In its press release, Sony explained, “This IC card-type cryptocurrency hardware wallet technology not only manages the private keys used for cryptocurrency transactions, but also manages private keys used for other purposes, such as those for permitting the use of personal information using blockchain technology.”
- Square, the popular mobile payments startup, has open-sourced its solution for Bitcoin (BTC) cold storage, releasing the company’s documentation, code, and tools for Square’s ‘Subzero’ Bitcoin cold storage solution. Alok Menghranjani, a security engineer with Square, said in a blog post this morning that Square utilizes the Subzero solution to hold Bitcoin on behalf of its users in an offline environment based on a hardware security module -- this hardware security module is programmable, said Menghranjani, which allows Square and users of Subzero to send BTC from a hot wallet to storage in a cold wallet at any time.
- The world’s largest agricultural companies, including Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge td., Cargill Inc., and Louis Dreyfus Co., are partnering to leverage blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to digitize international grain trading. Better known as ABCD, the four agricultural giants aim to make trading grain more efficient and transparent while also reducing costs. Long-term, ABCD hopes to integrate blockchain and AI technology in different levels of the grain supply chain, including shipping, storage, and customer experience. The first step of ABCD’s partnership, however, will entail the implementation of blockchain and AI technology to automate grain and oilseed post-trade execution processes, which are costly and highly manual parts of the supply chain.
- Vertex Ventures, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, a government-owned investment company, announced in a press release of an investment in Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, to facilitate Binance’s expansion into Singapore. Founded in 2015, Vertex Ventures manages portfolios in the United States, Cina, Israel, India, and Southeast Asia and is responsible for USD$2.5 billion of assets under management. Binance previously announced plans to expand operations into Singapore early in September. Wei Zhou, CFO of Binance, said in regards to the expansion that Binance, “look[s] forward to building up the blockchain ecosystem and working with all stakeholders in Singapore to support continued innovation in the local fintech space.”
*Data in Price Return and Updated Real-Time (with a delay), Source: StockDio