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Cryptocurrencies are poised to finish negative in a week headlined by a successful Zcash hardfork and with Morgan Stanley classifying cryptocurrencies as an institutional asset class

Nov 02, 2018

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Top 5 Cryptocurrencies sorted by 7 Day Price Percent Change

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Name Ticker Price 1H %Chg 24H %Chg 7D %Chg Market Cap Volume
Bitcoin Cash BCH USD$452.78 -0.11% 6.79% 3.17% USD$7,894,674,226 USD$392,650,948
XRP XRP USD$0.46 -0.15% 1.6% 0.22% USD$18,474,380,335 USD$419,069,758
Monero XMR USD$105.31 -0.33% 2.07% -0.39% USD$1,741,541,224 USD$12,850,940
Dash DASH USD$154.19 0.14% 0.39% -0.47% USD$1,298,554,522 USD$151,558,171
EOS EOS USD$5.36 -0.15% 1.72% -0.49% USD$4,853,351,579 USD$668,925,724

Developments in Financial Services

  • A new blockchain trade finance platform was launched in Hong Kong this week by a consortium of dozens of banks, including notables like HSBC, BNP Paribas, and Standard Charted. Called eTrade Connect, the trade finance platform will increase efficiency by cutting the time needed to approve a loan application from 36 hours to just 4 hours. eTrade Connect will use blockchain technology in order to automate multiple trade finance processes and streamline interactions between counterparties -- the system is also expected to reduce fraud risks in letters of credit and other documents. 
  • A new partnership between Microsoft and Nasdaq will see the US-based software giant integrate its Azure Blockchain technology into Nasdaq’s Financial Framework. Nasdaq’s Financial Framework is a technology that provides trading infrastructure and operations outsourcing -- according to a press release on Tuesday, Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain technology will be implemented in Nasdaq’s Financial Framework in order to fulfill risk and surveillance duties. In the long-term, the partnership aims to develop a, “ledger agnostic blockchain capability,” to allow for a service or platform across multiple ledgers. The integration of Azure Blockchain technology into Nasdaq’s Financial Framework will allow users to launch multiple blockchains in one interface.   
  • A new report by Morgan Stanley classifies cryptocurrencies as an institutional asset class, citing an increasing number of institutional investors getting involved with Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies. The report, titled, “Bitcoin Decrypted: A Brief Teach-In and Implications,” dives into the last six months of events in the cryptocurrency market and acknowledges that retail investor growth has become stagnant. The report emphasizes Morgan Stanley’s, “Rapidly Morphing Thesis,” of what cryptocurrencies are, which began as defining cryptocurrencies like BTC as “digital cash”, then as a solution to problems in our financial systems, and now to a new institutional investment class -- according to the report, Morgan Stanley has maintained the thesis that cryptocurrencies are an institutional asset class for the last year.   
  • An article by The Block cites a source, “familiar with the matter,” in reporting that investment banking giant, Goldman Sachs, has begun signing up a limited number of customers for its yet-to-be-launched Bitcon trading product. The article goes on to detail that the bank is onboarding, “a small number of clients,” to actively trade its Bitcoin futures contract product. At the time, Bitcoin futures trading is available through several regulated US platforms, including notable exchanges CME and CBOE -- Bakkt, a venture by the owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is expected to launch its Bitcoin futures product beginning on December 12th, 2018.    
  • An article by the Financial Times details that big four auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), has hired as many as 400 blockchain experts in an effort to best serve clients’ blockchain needs. Ralph Weinberger, head of PWC’s global network assurance methodology group, told the Financial Times, “We are devoting significant resources to how we might provide audit services in not just cryptocurrency, but blockchain.” PwC has focused on helping companies understand compliance procedures involving cryptocurrencies while assuring firms properly meet tax obligations relating to crypto assets. The Financial Times’ article concludes that PwC has a strong desire to become a leader in blockchain compliance and technology, pointing out that the big four auditor already has a section of their website dedicated to blockchain.   
  • Bank of America has been awarded a patent that appears to detail a device to store cryptographic keys. In the patent awarded to Bank of America on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the US-bank describes a, “hardened storage device,” for storing private keys. The patent goes on to read, “in specific embodiments of the system, the authentication routine is conducted as part of a cryptocurrency transaction, a blockchain transaction, or the like.” Bank of America has been highly active in the cryptocurrency patent space -- this past June, Bank of America applied for patent rights for dozens of potential applications, citing an effort to be “prepared” for the future 
  • Bitmex, the issuer of the recently-controversial cryptocurrency stablecoin, Tether (USDT), has formed a new banking partnership with Bahamas-based Deltec Bank & Trust.  USDT underwent a slew of controversy in the last month as the stablecoin broke from its USD$1 peg amidst rumors of Bitmex’s insolvency. In announcing the new partnership with Deltec Bank & Trust, Bitmex stressed that USDT is backed by a full money supply of US dollars.   
  • Bitstamp, a large cryptocurrency exchange, has been acquired by NXMH, an investment firm based in Belgium and owned by NXC, a South Korean gaming-focused conglomerate. Signed last Thursday, the acquisition still leaves Bitstamp CEO Nejc Kodric as a minority owner and allows the CEO to continue running Bitstamp’s operations. Pantera Capital, an early backer of Bitstamp, will also retain a 6% ownership stake. Although Bitstamp users will not see immediate changes in the platform’s services, the exchange has a long-term pre-existing roadmap for improvements that NXMH agreed to stick to during negotiations.  
  • BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, will not offer a cryptocurrency exchange traded fund (ETF) until cryptocurrency markets are further established. According to a report by CNBC, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink replied to a question that asked about his openness towards entering cryptocurrency markets, saying, “I wouldn’t say never, when it’s legitimate, yes.” On November 5th, the SEC is set to announce its final decision on nine Bitcoin (BTC) ETF applications from three different companies.   
  • Circle, a cryptocurrency firm that has received backing from notables like Goldman Sachs, will join the Global Digital Finance (GDF) industry body as a founding member to develop a global code of conduct for cryptocurrencies. According to a press release and the company’s Twitter, the global code of conduct for cryptocurrencies will be structured to facilitate acceleration and adoption of digital assets. Other notable cryptocurrency industry members joining the GDF include Coinbase, ConsenSys, DLA Piper, and Diginex. The GDF released the, “Code of Conduct and Taxonomy for Cryptographic Assets,” today after receiving approval from the GDF community in a series of mini-summits held in Asia, Europe, and the US -- the ‘Code’ was also reviewed through a 60-day consultation with over 200 firms contributing to the consultation.   
  • Coinbase, a major US cryptocurrency exchange and wallet provider, has raised USD$300 million in its latest fundraising round, bringing its total valuation to USD$8 billion. Coinbase’s Series E equity financing round was led by notable investment firm, Tiger Global Management, and generated participation from well-known investors in the crypto space, including Y Combinator Continuity, Wellington Management, Polychain, and others. The primary use of Coinbase’s new funding will be to “accelerate” the adoption rate of cryptocurrencies while acting on plans to build infrastructure to support regulated fiat-to-crypto trading on a global scale. This past June, Coinbase opened its Index Fund to US accredited investors for investments between USD$250,000 and USD$20 million. 
  • Ernst and Young, a big four auditing company, has launched a prototype of a zero-knowledge system designed to take place on the Ethereum (ETH) public network, as per a company press release on Tuesday. Dubbed, EY Ops Chain Public Edition (PE), the system leverages an alternative algorithm for verifying distributed ledger entries that require the transaction parties to supply a proof of validity, however, all other information remains private. Paul Brody, Ernst and Young’s Global Innovation Leader, said in regards to the system, “With zero-knowledge proofs, organizations can transact on the same network as their competition in complete privacy and without giving up the security of the public Ethereum blockchain.”  
  • Fujitsu, a Japanese multinational IT equipment and services company, is building an interbank settlements platform that will use blockchain technology. With a goal to, “confirm the viability of blockchain technology,” the blockchain platform will be tested by the Japanese Banks’ Payment Clearing Network, which is comprised of nine Japanese banks. A press release by the Japnese Banks’ Payment Clearing Network details that Fujitsu, “will additionally leverage the P2P money transfer platform it developed in [the] fiscal [year] 2017 with three major banks to generate the money transfers to other banks that will trigger interbank funds transfer settlement.”  
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank’s blockchain, Quorum, is going to be used to tokenize gold bars using smart contracts, according to an article by the Financial Review. Quorum was originally developed in partnership with the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance to be applied in the financial sector, however, employees at JPMorgan Chase have begun to test its applications in industries like healthcare, aviation, and banking. JPMorgan Chase’s head of blockchain initiatives, Umar Farooq, is quoted by the Financial Review, saying, “We are the only financial player that owns the entire stack, from the application to the protocol.”   
  • Nasdaq believes that it can lead the charge to eliminate the scandal and fraud that has plagued the cryptocurrency industry, according to a paper it released on Thursday and an article by Bloomberg. The paper discusses tools to police securities, currencies, and other financial markets that the world’s second largest stock exchange has been developing for decades. Currently, Nasdaq license its market-surveillance to one cryptocurrency exchange: Gemini, the company founded by the Winklevoss twins. 
  • Notable cryptocurrency and Bitcoin (BTC) bull and founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors, Tom Lee, said that he is pleasantly surprised with the drop in recent cryptocurrency volatility. Lee added that he is particularly pleasantly surprised with the cryptocurrency market’s stability in October relative to global stock markets. Lee discussed that he believes BTC’s price has found a floor at USD$6,000 and has tested that floor several times throughout the year. Early in September, Lee predicted that BTC’s price could reach USD$25,000 by 2018’s end.   
  • Reggie Browne, known as the, “godfather of ETFs,” said while speaking at Georgetown University’s Financial Markets Quality Conference yesterday that Bitcoin (BTC) Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) will be certified, “no time soon,”. Browne currently serves as a senior managing director and the head of ETF trading at Cantor Fitzgerald, a large finical services firm with over 5,000 institutional clients. Browne went on to add that, “It’s very difficult for the [Securities and Exchange Commission] to wrap their heads around a positive approval because there’s no data yet... the markets just aren’t here.” 
  • The State Bank of India (SBI) is partnering with Hitachi Payments to build and establish a digital payments platform. The SBI is partnering with Hitachi as part of the India Government’s, “Digital India,” campaign. Hitachi Payments is a subsidiary of multinational tech conglomerate, Hitachi, which reportedly has 55,000 ATMs and 850,000 point of sale devices in India. The SBI is India’s largest commercial bank with over 420 million customers and more than 6,000,000 point of sale devices in India. The joint venture between the SBI and Hitachi Payments, dubbed, Hitachi Payments-SBI, will accelerate the digitalization of financial services in India.   
  • Two major Brazilian banks have reopened the bank accounts of local cryptocurrency exchange, Bitcoin Max, according to Portal do Bitcoin, a local news outlet. A Federal District Court recommended that the two Brazilian banks in question, Banco do Brasil and Santander Brasil, reopen that accounts of Bitcoin Max after they closed the accounts of the cryptocurrency exchange without notice -- the Federal District Court said this could be treated as “abusive conduct”. If the banks did not comply with the Federal District Court, Santander Brasil would have been forced to pay up to 5,000 Brazilian reals (roughly USD$1,300) and Banco do Brasil would have been forced to pay up to 20,000 Brazilian reals (roughly USD$5,400).   
  • Warren Buffet’s multinational holding conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, has invested roughly USD$600 million between two separate fintech payment firms with focuses on emerging markets, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday. The Wall Street Journal report details that both investments appear to be spearheaded by one of Berkshire Hathaway’s two portfolio managers, Todd Combs. In the past, Buffet has claimed that tech investments are beyond his area of expertise. One investment, made in August, came in the form of a USD$300 million stake in the parent company of Paytm, the largest mobile-payments service in India. The other investment, which occurred this past week, was through the purchase of shares in an initial public offering for StoneCo, a Brazilian payments processor and the country’s fourth-largest by volume. 
  • While interviewing with Bloomberg today, Asiff Hirji, President and COO of Coinbase, declared that Coinbase will not perform an initial coin offering (IPO), “any time soon.” Hirji clarified that Coinbase would not IPO any time soon after Ran Neuner, host of CNBC show Crypto Trader, claimed on his show that Coinbase would officially confirm ICO plans on his October 26th, 2018 show. Instead, Hirji discussed that Coinbase is focused on diversifying its revenue streams and listing as many as 300 new cryptocurrency pairs.   
     

Regulatory Environment

  • A joint report released by the British Business Federation Authority (BBFA), venture capital fund, Novum Insights, and cryptocurrency exchange, TodaQ, urges that UK regulators use caution in instituting far-reaching regulation. BBFA Chief Executive, Patrick Curry, said to Cointelegraph in regards to UK crypto regulation, “It is a very blunt instrument approach and I haven’t seen this in other countries.” This news comes after Members of Parliament that sit on the UK Treasury Committee called for increased cryptocurrency regulation to protect investors and urged the Financial Conduct Authority to supervise cryptocurrencies.  
  • After the South Korean government initiated a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in September 2017, Min Byung-doo, a member of the ruling Minjoo Party, has committed to end the country’s ICO ban. Min is currently the Chairman of the National Policy Committee, a committee which many consider the first hurdle in removing the country’s ICO ban. In an interview with CoinDesk Korea, Min discussed that a lot of ICO bubbles have already burst and that many people have learned not to rush into ICO markets. Min also cited other countries, like Switzerland, Malta, and Singapore, have recently made efforts to classify ICOs under existing institutional regulatory frameworks.   
  • After undergoing months of uncertainty in regards to cryptocurrencies’ legality in India, the Indian government is reportedly considering a ban on the usage of “private” cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). During the 19th meeting of India’s Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), the subject of cryptocurrencies arose -- an excerpt from the press release concerning the meeting reads, “The Council also deliberated on the issues and challenges of crypto assets/currency and was briefed about the deliberations in the High-level Committee chaired by the Secretary (Economic Affairs) to devise an appropriate legal framework to ban use of private cryptocurrencies in India and encouraging the use of distributed ledger technology, as announced in the Budget 2018-19.” The phrasing of the excerpt is critical, as cryptocurrency experts are now deliberating whether or not possession and trading of cryptocurrencies will be permitted in India, or if the “ban” would only extend to cryptocurrencies’ use as a payment vehicle.   
  • Azerbaijan is gearing up to implement blockchain technology and smart contracts into its country’s legal system and housing sector, as per a report by Trend News Agency. Chairman of the Azerbaijani Internet Forum, Osman Gunduz, discussed plans to implement blockchain and smart contracts in the country’s legal system and housing sector directly with Trend News Agency, saying, “It was announced that in the future, the smart contracts will be introduced in the field of public utilities,” and adding, “This refers to the switch-over of existing contracts by citizens for utility services to smart contracts, which will ensure transparency and will allow to suppress the cases of falsification in the area.” 
  • Circle, a cryptocurrency firm that has received backing from notables like Goldman Sachs, will join the Global Digital Finance (GDF) industry body as a founding member to develop a global code of conduct for cryptocurrencies. According to a press release and the company’s Twitter, the global code of conduct for cryptocurrencies will be structured to facilitate acceleration and adoption of digital assets. Other notable cryptocurrency industry members joining the GDF include Coinbase, ConsenSys, DLA Piper, and Diginex. The GDF released the, “Code of Conduct and Taxonomy for Cryptographic Assets,” today after receiving approval from the GDF community in a series of mini-summits held in Asia, Europe, and the US -- the ‘Code’ was also reviewed through a 60-day consultation with over 200 firms contributing to the consultation.   
  • Commissioner of South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC), Choi Jong-Ku, reaffirmed that there are no compliance issues that banks face in providing services to cryptocurrency exchanges. Jong-Ku discussed this while speaking at the country’s state affairs audit to assess the progress of all of South Korea’s government agencies and commissioners, declaring, “There exists no issue in banks providing virtual bank accounts to cryptocurrency exchanges. If digital asset trading platforms have KYC and AML systems in place, there is no problem in issuing virtual bank accounts to exchanges.”  
  • DeVere, a financial advisory firm, is launching an actively managed cryptocurrency investment fund that will focus on capturing future growth of cryptocurrency markets. DeVere historically caters to high-net-worth clients through large wealth advisory groups, potentially leading this fund to introduce high-wealth into cryptocurrency markets. Aside from capturing future growth, the new fund by DeVere will also explore arbitrage opportunities to secure stable and regular gains for investors. 
  • Hong Kong’s securities regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has issued a statement setting guidelines for funds that deal with cryptocurrencies. Chief of the SFC, Ashley Alder, discussed that this set of guidelines is the first move in a series of steps that will culminate to form a formal regulatory environment. The guidelines specifically apply to investment fund who invest more than 10% of their holdings in digital assets. The statement issued on Thursday mornings reads, “In order to afford better protection to investors, the SFC considers that all licensed portfolio managers intending to invest in virtual assets should observe essentially the same regulatory requirements even if the portfolios (or portions of portfolios) under their management invest solely or partially in virtual assets, irrespective of whether these virtual assets amount to ‘securities’ or ‘futures contracts.’”  
  • In her speech at the 2018 Canada FinTech Forum in Montreal, Canada, former US Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, professed that Bitcoin (BTC) is, “anything but,” a useful store of value. While interviewing after her speech, Yellen doubled-down on her comments, stating, “It has long been thought that for something to be a useful currency, it needs to be a stable source of value, and bitcoin is anything but.” Yellen elaborated, saying, “It’s not used for a lot of transactions, it’s not a stable source of value, and it’s not an efficient means of processing payments. It’s very slow in handling payments. It has difficulty because of its very decentralized nature.” 
  • Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) announced today that it does not consider stablecoins to be classified as cryptocurrencies. Under Japan’s Payments Services Act and the Fund Settlement Law, cryptocurrencies are defined as a method of payment that users are not required to pay taxes on. Japan’s FSA has concluded that stablecoins do not fit the criteria for cryptocurrencies, as they lack a uniform set of characteristics, making them impossible to categorize. Last week, Japan’s FSA granted Japan’s Virtual Currency Exchange Association, a group of Japanese cryptocurrency industry members, with self-regulatory status -- Japan's Virtual Currency Exchange Association will not have the authority to regulate stablecoins, however, as they are not classified as cryptocurrencies by Japan’s FSA. 
  • New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has added three crypto-related platforms to its list of online scams, according to an announcement on Thursday. The three companies added to the list include Crypto Gain, Russ Horn, and Zend Trade with the FMA citing that citizens have warned of risks in dealing with these websites -- Crypto Gain is unique as it is posing as a pre-existing New Zealand company with the same name to mislead investors. This past September, a New Zealand investor lost USD$213,000 of crypto assets in a cryptocurrency scam, leading the New Zealand police to issue a formal warning of crypto-related online scams to its citizens. 
  • Russia’s Financial Monitor Service (FMS) has contacted the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to request an intergovernmental initiative to manage the supply and flow of cryptocurrencies. The FATF is a global financial regulating body -- this past June, it announced that it would build global-binding policies for cryptocurrency exchanges.  Deputy Director of the FMS, Pavel Livadny, confirmed that the FMS is seeking cooperation from al FATF member countries, pointing to money laundering as the primary concern in cryptocurrencies. Livadny also went on to confirm that Russia’s FMS will seek to impose a restriction on cryptocurrency transactions over USD$9,000.   
  • The Department of Federal Revenue in Brazil (RFB) has published a draft on domestic cryptocurrency tax regulation that seeks to require monthly reports from exchanges on their cryptocurrency assets -- for example, the draft regulation would require cryptocurrency exchanges disclose monthly transaction volume, the identify of its customers, etc.). The draft crypto tax regulation also would institute a range of fines for those that fail to issue monthly reports. The RFB will hear criticisms and entertain public consultation on the draft regulation until November 19th, 2018. 
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is recommending that all of its members take action to control the exchange of cryptocurrencies, their storage, and other crypto-related activities. Founded in 1989, the FATF is an intergovernmental organization based in Paris with a directive of establishing standards to fight money laundering and other illegal financial activities. While speaking to Russian news outlet, Izvestia, Vice President of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation, Pavel Livadny, expressed a desire to institute controls on crypto transactions of more than 600,000 rubles (USD$9,120). Earlier in October, the FATF made changes to its standards relating to digital currencies and businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies.   
  • The New York State Department of Financial Services has issued the state’s first virtual currency license, or “Bitlicense,” to Bitcoin ATM operator, Coinsource. This move by the New York state regulator represents a seal of approval for New Yorkers to use cash to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) through Coinsource’s Bitcoin Teller Machines. This is the first cryptocurrency ATM operator to receive regulatory approval from the state of New York. So far, Coinsource has already installed 40 Bitcoin Teller Machines across the state.   
  • The UK Government’s, “Cryptoasset Taskforce,” published its final report on Monday that details various regulatory steps concerning cryptoassets and distributed ledger technology. Three different UK Government groups make up the task force, including the HM Treasury, Financial Conduct Authority, and the Bank of England. The report details that the HM Treasury will work closely with HM Revenue and Customs to update cryptocurrency tax guidance by early 2019. The report reads, “While the authorities’ immediate priority is to mitigate the risks associated with the currency generation of cryptoassets, the Taskforce considers that other applications of DLT have the potential to deliver significant benefits in both financial services and other sectors. The authorities do not believe there are regulatory barriers to further adoption of DLT.”  
  • The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is considering a ban on the sale of cryptocurrency-based derivatives, according to a Monday report by the Financial Times. The UK’s FCA published a statement Monday detailing that it is set to launch a consultation in the first quarter of 2019 concerning whether or not to place a ban on the sale of cryptocurrency-based derivatives at some point in the future. The FCA is also reportedly launching a parallel consultation into whether or not to extend its regulatory jurisdiction onto cryptocurrency assets themselves and the exchanges and wallet services that work with cryptocurrency assets. The FCA detailed in its statement issued Monday that it has, “made clear that in its view crypto assets have no intrinsic value and investors should therefore be prepared to lose all the value they have put in.” 
  • Ukraine’s Economic Development and Trade Ministry has launched a state policy to reclassify and legalize crypto-related activities, as per Ukrainian news agency, Ukrinform. According to a statement issued by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry of Ukraine, the purpose of the state policy is to, “create understandable conditions for conducting activities in the field of virtual assets and virtual currencies,” and to usher in, “adoption of the concept of a state policy.” Ukrinform details in its report that the state policy will be completed by 2021 in two separate stages.   
  • Venezuela has officially launched its state-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro, as of October 29th, 2018. As per a tweet from the Venezuelan Vice President of the Economy’s account, “The Petro may be acquired by legal and natural persons from its web portal.” The Petro can be bought using Bitcoin (BTC) or Litecoin (LTC). The official launch of the Petro comes as a surprise, as previous announcements had detailed that the Petro’s launch would not come until November 5th, 2018.    
  • While interviewing with German business news outlet, Handelsblatt, Felix Hufeld, chairman of Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), called for global initial coin offering (ICO) regulatory standards. Hufeld said in the interview, “The number [of ICOs] and the volume per ICO are both getting higher. Investors have mostly minimal rights,” and added, “I can thus only recommend private investors keep away from such things.” Traditionally, Germany has taken a global stance on cryptocurrency regulation. Hufeld went on to add during the interview that international standards for ICOs would be “desirable” in the long-term and that conversations were underway in “multiple international forums”. 
     

General News

  • A new report published on Nature.com finds that the carbon footprint of Bitcoin (BTC) and its potential future growth could have a significant effect on global warming. The report discusses that, even if BTC follows a lower-level, “median growth trend,” its energy output could equal that of the current total of global cashless transactions in, “under 100 years.” The report goes on to read, “60% of the economic return of the Bitcoin transaction verification process goes to electricity, at USD$0.05 per kWh and 0.7 kg of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emitted per kWh, [resulting in an] estimate that Bitcoin usage emits 33.5 metric tons of CO2e annually, as of May 2018.”  
  • Alrosa, a Russian diamond mining firm and the largest diamond mining firm in the world, is joining the pilot of De Beers’ diamond supply chain blockchain platform, dubbed, “Tracr”. Tracr is geared towards improving transparency and consumer trust in the diamond value chain. Tracr works by establishing a digital certificate for each diamond and recording important attributes about each diamond. The data is then stored on a blockchain where buyers can track all previous transactions involving a specified diamond, allowing buyers to verify that a diamond is natural and conflict-free.   
  • Arthur Hayes, CEO of Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange’s (BitMEX), the world’s largest trading platform for Bitcoin (BTC) derivatives, believes the current cryptocurrency bear market could last another 18 months. While speaking to Yahoo Finance, Hayes said, “My view is the volatility environment that exists right now could persist for another 12 to 18 months.” Hayes started trading cryptocurrencies full-time in 2013 after he lost his job as an equities trader at Citibank -- the CEO discussed in the interview with Yahoo Finance that today’s trading patterns resemble that of the, “nuclear bear market,” he witnessed in 2014. Hayes elaborated, saying, “I started in BTC in 2013, when the price went from USD$250 to USD$1,300,” and continued, “And then 2014 to 2015 was sort of the nuclear bear market. Price crashed, volume crashed -- very very difficult to make money.”  
  • Binance has frozen the funds of fellow cryptocurrency exchange, WEX.nz, after users claimed that WEX.nz is involved with money laundering. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao confirmed this event on Twitter, saying, “[T]he identified accounts are frozen, please report to law enforcement and have a case number. We will work with LE [law enforcement],” and, “This is part of centralization we hate too, dealing with other exchange’s mess (we don’t even know the details). But we will do what we can.” Zhao went on to add that soon enough, people will use decentralized exchanges to launder funds and avoid account freezes.   
  • Bithumb, a major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, is reportedly signing a deal with SeriesOne, a US fintech firm, in order to launch a securities token exchange in the US. Specifically, SeriesOne is a crowdfunding platform. While discussing the deal with South Korean Yonhap News, a Bithumb official said, “SeriesOne actively sought to strike a deal with Bithumb after assessing it as the most suitable partner. Bithumb will ramp up efforts to develop into a global financial firm as the blockchain-based asset tokenization is expected to spread globally down the road.” In reporting the deal, Yonhap News discussed that the US exchange should launch in the first half of 2019. Early in October, Bithumb announced intentions to launch a global decentralized cryptocurrency exchange.   
  • Bittrex International is launching a cryptocurrency exchange platform available to all international customers except those from the United States, according to a company blog post on Monday. The blog post details that new tokens will be listed on the platform within weeks. Bittrex’s new international cryptocurrency exchange will operate under regulatory framework established by the European Union and Maltese Government -- after 12 months, Bittrex intends to apply for its platform to be recognized as a regulated virtual financial asset exchange by the Malta Financial Services Authority. In its press release, Bitrex detailed that, “current and new US-based customers will continue to use Bittrex.com and will not have access to international markets.” 
  • Callaghan, a New Zealand state-backed innovation institute, is awarding a USD$330,000 grant to Vimba, a local cryptocurrency wallet and trading service that is a rebranded version of MyCryptoSaver. Vimba will use the USD$330,000 “R&D Project Grant” to expand its current offerings, list more cryptocurrencies, and enable multi-signature cryptocurrency wallets. Speaking to Cointelegraph, a spokesperson from Callaghan detailed that the R&D Project Grant will fund up to 40% of Vimba’s project and that 355 similar grants were approved within the last fiscal year. Vimba has been operating, in one form or another, since 2014 and has undergone two separate investment rounds -- Vimba is reportedly set to launch services in the UK in the coming weeks.   
  • Changelly, a Prague-based cryptocurrency exchange service, announced that it has assisted South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, Bithumb, in the recovery of 1.063 million stolen Ripple (XRP) tokens. Bithumb was hacked in June 2018 for over USD$30 million of crypto assets but soon recovered USD$14 million of its stolen assets after working with global cryptocurrency-related businesses. According to its CEO, Changelly quickly cooperated to assist Bithumb and employed Anti-Money Laundering procedures to detect malicious actors whose addresses were recognized by Bithumb. Changelly CEO, Ilya Bere, discussed the situation, saying, “This case sets a precedent for how the joint work of the key players in the cryptocurrency market can positively affect the industry, bringing security improvements to the crypto-trading projects.” 
  • Coinbase’s Head of Trading, Hunter Merghart, has resigned from his position after just six months on the job. According to the people familiar with the matter, Merghart made his decision last week and is now pursuing other opportunities. Citing two people familiar with the matter, Coindesk is reporting that Merghart was frustrated because he wasn’t getting enough resources or clarity on the roadmap to Coinbase building an institutional business.  
  • ConsenSys, a notable Ethereum-focused venture studio, has acquired Planetary Resources, a company that hopes to one day mine asteroids in space. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the asset-purchase transaction will see ConsenSys absorb Planetary Resources while its President and CEO, Chris Lewicki, along with General Counsel Brian Israel will joining ConsenSys. Since it formed in 2012, Planetary Resources has successfully launched two satellites into orbit. Planetary Resources began to deal with financial difficulties after it failed to secure a new round of funding in June. ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin admitted Wednesday that he admires Planetary Resources and that the acquisition will help ConsenSys pursue its space initiatives, adding, “Bringing deep space capabilities into the ConsenSys ecosystem reflects our belief in the potential for Ethereum to help humanity craft new societal rule systems through automated trust and guaranteed execution. And it reflects our belief in democratizing and decentralizing space endeavors to unite our species and unlock untapped human potential.”  
  • eToro, a popular social cryptocurrency trading platform, has partnered with Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, to list Binance Coin (BNB) on eToro. This marks the first exchange to list BNB tokens for trading using fiat. BNB was first issued by Binance to serve as the “gas” that powers its cryptocurrency exchange -- often times, BNB is used on Binance to pay for trading fee, exchange fees, listing fees, and partner applications. The addition of BNB on eToro brings the total cryptocurrency assets offered on the exchange up to 13.   
  • Fabian Vogelstellar, co-author of the ERC-20 token and Ethereum developer, introduced a new initial coin offering (ICO) model that would better protect investors. Vogelstellar unveiled his new ICO concept whiles peaking at Ethereum’s annual Devcon conference in Prague on October 30th. Dubbed a “reversable ICO” (RICO), Vogelstellar described the concept as a fundraising model where investors could return their tokens, and be reimbursed, at any stage of a project through the use of a special-purpose smart contract.  Vogelstellar admitted that, because the model would result in less stable funding amounts, RICOs would require some sort of outside, private investment.   
  • Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck, saw its revenue fall 66% in CY3Q2018. Acquired by Monex Group, Inc. on April 16th, 2018, Coincheck is the notable Japanese cryptocurrency exchange that was hacked for USD$532 million of digital assets in January 2018. According to Monex CEO, Oki Matsumoto, Coincheck is still awaiting a license from Japanese regulators to operate as a cryptocurrency exchange in the country. Coincheck’s quarterly report discusses the revenue loss, saying, “Since service suspension in January 2018, Coincheck only allowed existing customers to sell their cryptocurrency. The limited revenue stream resulted in segment loss of 0.6bn yen (USD$5.3 million). Coincheck has improved governance, internal controls, and internal audits, aiming for full-service resumption.”  
  • Jason Hsu, known as Taiwan’s, “Crypto Congressmen,” is continuing to push forward-thinking regulation concerning tech in Taiwan as he is proposing new rules surrounding token sales. This past Friday, Hsu proposed a slew of policy recommendations geared towards assisting cryptocurrency startups -- notably, one of the recommendations would see the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) establish a new business category for cryptocurrency firms while another recommendation would see new legal framework established for security tokens. Last week, the Taipei Times reported that Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission would see standards established for initial coin offerings (ICOs) by June of next year.  
  • JD.com, a large Chinese retailer, will launch a blockchain research lab in partnership with two technical institutes, including the Ying Wu College of Computing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS). JD.com currently controls about 30% of the business-to-consumer online market and maintains roughly 314 million active users. The blockchain research lab being launched by this partnership will aim to solve efficiency problems and examine potential applications of blockchain technology. Specifically, JD.com hopes to focus efforts on potential fundamental consensus protocols with long-term applications, privacy protection, and security of decentralized applications (DApps).   
  • Ledger, the notable Paris-based security company, announced that it will soon launch an expansion into Asia and establish a Hong Kong office with Benjamin Soong at the helm. Ledger was launched in 2014 by experts in fields such as security, cryptocurrencies, and entrepreneurship. The company has gained a strong global reputation for its security and infrastructure solutions for cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms through use of a unique operating system called BOLOS. 
  • MapleChange, a small Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, was hacked this weekend resulting in the loss of all consumer-owned funds. According to a series of tweets this weekend, hackers exploited a bug in the exchange allowing them to withdraw the entirety of consumer-owned funds from the exchange. Maplechange has suspended users’ accounts in light of the events. MapleChange has noted that it will open wallets at some point in the future to refund users as with as much money as possible.  
  • Monex Group, a Japanese internet broker who purchased Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck, after it was hacked in January 2018, is reopening new account signups and offering limited trading services on Coincheck, as per a statement issued Tuesday morning. This news comes after Coincheck reported yesterday of a 66% revenue drop in CY3Q2018. According to the announcement, users are now able to deposit four cryptocurrencies into accounts, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). A strict know-your-customer process will be in place for new users registering with Coincheck, the announcement detailed.   
  • Notable privacy coin and the 19th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Zcash (ZEC), has enacted its “Sapling” hardfork that will largely improve transaction speeds while reducing the size of transactions themselves. ZEC’s Sapling hardfork should allow all users to conduct shielded transactions, which are transactions that make it near impossible to track a user’s private information. The Sapling hardfork enables shielded transactions on ZEC’s blockchain to be 100 times “lighter” and up to 6 times faster. Prior to the Sapling hardfork, only users who ran full nodes were able to conduct shielded transactions.   
  • OKEx, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges by daily trading volume, is delisting more than 50 cryptocurrency trading pairs from its platform due to weak performance. As per an announcement published on October 25th, 2018, OKEx will delist these cryptocurrency trading pairs due to weak liquidity and poor trading volume. OKEx specified in their announcement that only the indicated trading pairs would be delisted, and not the cryptocurrencies themselves. Andy Cheung, Head of Operations at OKEx, tweeted this weekend, “Getting listed is not final. Maintaining a good performance is the key to success.”  
  • Ran NeuNer, prominent cryptocurrency analyst and host of CNBC’s CryptoTrader show, has retracted his prediction that Bitcoin (BTC) would reach USD$50,000 by the end of 2018. In a tweet on Thursday, NeuNew stated, “Given we are in a bear market and no good news is moving the market, I can’t see a $50k BTC this year.”   
  • Sia, a distributed storage blockchain network, has successfully completed a planned hardfork that changes its consensus rules to prevent some specialized mining hardware from dominating the network. Following the planned hardfork, however, part of the Sia community decided to continue mining the old Sia blockchain -- the group calls itself, “Sia Classic”. Despite Sia Classic, David Vorick, the founder and CEO of Nebulous, the company that owns Sia, still considers the hardfork a success, saying, “The hashrate is much more decentralized than before the fork,” and estimating that 87% of the Sia network’s computing power is accounted for on the newly forked blockchain. 
  • SP Group, a large utility company based in Singapore, is launching a blockchain-powered renewable energy certificate (REC) marketplace, as per a Monday company press release. In discussing the blockchain-powered REC marketplace, Samuel Tan, Chief Digital Officer of SP Group, said, “Through blockchain technology, we enable companies to trade in renewable energy certificates conveniently, seamlessly, and securely, helping them achieve greener business operations and meet their sustainability targets.”  
  • The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) announced in a statement that it will issue blockchain-based academic certificates starting on October 31st, 2018. Blockchain-based academic certificates will be distributed, alongside physical certificates, to 24,000 candidates who sat for exams in May and June of 2018. Candidates will receive their e-certificates through a free and open-source Blockcerts Wallet, which can used for both storing the certificate and for verifying a candidates performance in examinations administered by the CXC.   
  • The cryptocurrency community is coming together to refute claims by Nature after it posted a research report claiming that Bitcoin (BTC) mining could help temperatures increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius in just 11 years, depending on BTC’s rate of adoption. Cryptocurrency experts are arguing that the study’s assumptions are “naive”, saying the study’s assumptions would require BTC to scale to an unrealistic 310 billion daily transactions on chain and that block sizes would have to be a massive 3.2 gigabytes.
  • US household cleaning supplies manufacturer, SC Johnson, and environmental organization, Plastic Bank, are opening multiple plastic recycling centers in Indonesia that will use blockchain technology to reward users. SC Johnson recently revealed data that indicates five Asian countries are responsible for more than 55% of the world’s plastic leaking into the ocean -- these five countries are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. SC Johnson and Plastic Bank believe that blockchain technology can be used to distribute tokens to individuals based on recycling efforts, not only helping to combat ocean pollution but potentially reducing the poverty level of Indonesia itself.  
  • While conducting a keynote presentation at Ethereum’s Devcon4 conference in Prague on October 31st, 2018, Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin unveiled a roadmap for Ethereum 2.0. Dubbed by Buterin as “Serenity”, the project culminates multiple projects that Ethereum developers have been working on since 2014. The features that will make up Serenity include an implementation of a proof-of-stake verification protocol known as Casper, a scalability enhancement known as sharding, and other various protocol upgrades.  

 

*Data in Price Return and Updated Real-Time (with a delay), Source: StockDio

Sources:


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