Bitcoin Barreling towards $3,600 while institutional demand still remains strong
Jan 11, 2019
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Developments in Financial Services
- The Chinese internet censorship agency has approved regulations for providers of blockchain services. As an example, blockchain service providers will need to regiers with the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) within 10 working days of formal operations. All the rules are outlined in the CAC report Regulation for Managing Blockchain Information Services.
- According to a report by the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Korea Internet & Security Agency and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, 21 crypto exchanges failed inspected in the 4th quarter of 2018. According to the report, only 7 exchanges passed examination: Upbit, Bithumb, Gopax, Korbit, Coinone, Hanbitco, and Huobi Korea.
- Pakistani government officials announce they will permit blockchain-enabled international remittances. The Government of Pakistan is partnering with Malaysia FinTech startup Valyou to offer an instant and secure international remittances services to Pakistanis living in Malaysia.
- Thailand’s Ministry of Finance announces it is granting digital asset licenses to four crypto firms. The following four firms received licenses: Bitcoin Exchange, Bitkub Online, Satang Corporation (Satang Pro), and crypto broker-dealer Coins TH Co.
- FactSet, a notable US-based financial research and data company, is filing a lawsuit against CG Blockchain, a company associated with professional trading service Blockchain Terminal (BCT), according to filings through the Supreme Court for the State of New York. In January 2018, FactSet and CG Blockchain began a partnership to develop an interfacing application between the two firms’ products. FactSet is claiming that CG Blockchain did not pay the minimum licensing fee agreed on when the partnership began, which called for a fee of USD$3.8mm payable in three increments. FactSet is suing for USD$2.8mm in damages plus interest and attorney fees associated with the court case.
- Hans-Ole Jochumsen, the former Vice Chairman of NASDAQ Europe, has joined the advisory board of Concordium Foundation, a Switzerland-based non-profit aiming to develop a cryptocurrency featuring a built-in compliance function, according to CoinDesk. Jochumsen’s primary responsibilities will include advising Concordium’s compliance efforts, providing tax expertise, and guiding the company’s know-your-customer practices.
- ShapeShift, a large Switzerland-based cryptocurrency exchange headed by prominent crypto CEO Erik Voorhees, has confirmed that it’s laid off a third of its staff. As per a company blog post titled, “Overcoming ShapeShift’s Crypto Winter and the Path Ahead,” ShapeShift laid off 37 employees while attributing the staff cuts to the, “latest bear market cycle.” The blog post also highlights that the exchange’s, “greatest and worst financial decision was to embrace substantial exposure to crypto assets.”
- RippleNet, the payment network developed and managed by the Ripple company, announced today that 13 new financial institutions have joined the platform, bringing the total number of participants to over 200. The 200+ financial institutions using RippleNet span across 40 countries. As per the official announcement from the Ripple company, five of the new financial institutions joining RippleNet, including JNFX, SendFriend, Transpaygo, FTCS, and Euro Exim Bank, will use Ripple (XRP) for liquidity when conducting cross-border payments.
- Canaan Creative, a Chinese Bitcoin (BTC) mining hardware manufacturer, is considering an initial public offering (IPO), according to a Bloomberg report that cites anonymous sources. Canaan is China’s second-largest BTC mining hardware manufacturer. The Bloomberg report details that an IPO could come as soon as in the first half of 2019. A quote from the Bloomberg article’s anonymous source reads, “deliberations are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction.”
- DX Exchange, the Nasdaq-powered digital exchange that announced the launch of tokenized stock trading on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain last week, unveiled available listings in a series of Tweets on Sunday. Users will be able to trade stocks of some of the largest companies in the world, including Amazon, Baidu, Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, Nvidia, and Tesla, on the Nasdaq-Financial Information Exchange protocol-powered platform. Currently, the platform is only available to investors in the European Union.
- CoinfloorEx, a subsidiary of UK cryptocurrency exchange Coinfloor, will be repurposed in order to offer physical Bitcoin (BTC) futures trading in Asian markets, according to an interview between the CEO and Bloomberg on Monday. CoinfloorEX will be rebranded as CoinFLEX and is reportedly owned by a mix of individuals, including early BTC entrepreneur Roger Ver. According to the head of the venture, Mark Lamb, the futures contract will deliver BTC upon a contract’s expiration rather than a cash payment
- Bitcoin (BTC) median transaction fees recently reached a 3-year low of just USD$0.029 per transaction, according to data on BitInfoCharts. As discussed by cryptocurrency researcher Kevin Rooke on Twitter, the BTC network is processing 75% more transactions since October 2015, but doing so in a more efficient matter. BTC transaction capabilities have been aided by scaling solutions like Segregated Witness (SegWit), a technological development that decreases the data size of a transaction, and the Lightning Network, a two-layer network with a current total capacity of over 557BTC (USD$2.26mm).
- The Chinese internet censorship agency has approved regulationsur crypto firms. The following four firms received licenses: Bitcoin Exchange, Bitkub Online, Satang Corporation (Satang Pro), and crypto broker-dealer Coins TH Co.
- Tron (TRX), a blockchain platform whose coin is the eighth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, has hired David Labhart, a former US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) supervisory attorney, to serve as the company’s first Chief Compliance Officer. Labhart will also take on the role of co-general counsel at Tron. The Tron platform is aimed at hosting decentralized applications (DApps) and celebrated its one-millionth user in December.
- The European Banking Authority (EBA), a European Union (EU) regulatory agency, and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), an EU securities regulator, have both separately called for bloc-wide cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) rules. The EBA published a report on Tuesday saying that crypto asset activities do not fall under pre-existing financial laws while urging the European Commission to perform a, “comprehensive,” analysis to determine what actions should be taken at the EU level. Separately, the ESMA also published a report on crypto assets and ICOs Wednesday morning that advises the European Commission on what existing rules could be applied to crypto assets and what gaps in regulation should be filled with new legislation.
- Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) denied reports that it is considering the approval of Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETFs), according to an article by Cointelegraph Japan. In response to a Bloomberg article on Monday that claimed Japan’s FSA is considering the approval of BTC ETFs, Japan’s FSA said that, “At this moment, we are not exploring an approval of ETFs based on crypto assets.” Additionally, Japan’s FSA detailed that it does not know who the person is that the Bloomberg article cites in its report.
- Mikhail Vidyakin, the director of the strategy and reform department of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), said that overregulation in the country is preventing the domestic cryptocurrency industry from flourishing while speaking to crypto news outlet LetKnow on Tuesday. Vidyakin discussed that he believes there are too many institutions in the country trying to regulate cryptocurrencies, highlighting that the NBU, the Ministry of Finance, and the National Securities Commission all technically have the authority to regulate cryptocurrencies in Ukraine.
- Thailand’s Ministry of Finance has granted working licenses to three cryptocurrency exchanges, including Bitcoin Exchange Co., Bitkub Online Co., and Satang Corporation, while denying licenses to two firms that sought to become regulated exchanges. The two firms denied cryptocurrency exchange licenses, Southeast Asia Digital Exchange Co. And Cash2Coins Co., failed to meet standards set by Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission -- the two exchanges have until January 14th to notify their users to withdraw or transfer their digital holdings.
- Vladislav Ginko, a Russian university professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, said while speaking to news outlet Micky that he expects new US sanctions to push the Kremlin into diversifying cash reserves into Bitcoin (BTC). The publication quotes Ginko saying, “US sanctions may be mitigated only through Bitcoin use. Because of US sanctions, Russia’s elite is forced to dump US assets and US dollars and invest hugely into Bitcoins. The central bank of Russia sits on USD$466bn of reserves and has to diversity in case there are limited opportunities to do it in the future.”
- Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) may be seeking to regulate domestic unregistered cryptocurrency investment firms, according to a report by Cointelegraph Japan. Unregistered cryptocurrency investment firms in Japan do not fall under the jurisdiction of Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, but the FSA is reportedly considering closing this loophole.
- A new report published by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) finds that 70% of central banks across the globe are conducting research into central bank digital currency (CBDC) issuances. The BIS, which is based in Switzerland and comprised of 60 central banks, details in its report that motives for conducting research into CBDC issuance vary across central banks.
- The cost of handling US government subpoenas and navigating other regulation is quickly becoming a, “barrier to entry,” for cryptocurrency exchanges wishing to enter US markets, that is, according to San Francisco-based crypto exchange Kraken. When asked about inquiries from US regulators, Kraken replied, “US is about 1/5 of clients but 2/3 of requests. US agencies are much more active and are much less surgical. For many requests, we have no matches. It wouldn’t be surprising to find that the same subpoenas go out to everyone in the hopes that a match will be found.”
- A bipartisan bill introduced to the floor of the Colorado State Senate would effectively exempt cryptocurrencies from some securities laws in the state, as per official documents released January 4th. The, “Colorado Digital Token Act,” introduced by Republican Jack Tate and Democrat Steve Fenberg aims to offer the cryptocurrency industry more freedoms in an effort to define the industry’s local landscape. A summary of the proposals reads, “The bill provides limited exemptions from the securities registration and securities broker-dealer and salesperson licensing requirements for persons dealing in digital tokens.”
- Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is considering the approval of Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETFs), according to a report by Bloomberg that cites an anonymous source. The Japanese regulator is reportedly fielding the interest for a BTC ETF with a possibility of granting approval for the instrument to trade on domestic markets. Additionally, the Bloomberg report highlights that Japanese regulators are against BTC futures trading, explaining that the FSA concludes that, “such products would achieve little besides stoke speculation.”
- Bitmain announces its 2 co-founders will step down as co-CEOS but will stay on co-Chairmen of the company. Wang Haichao, Bitmain’s director of product engineering, is expected to become the next CEO.
A French tobacco store has begun selling Bitcoin for fiat currency in spite of the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the digital currency. French magazine Capital claims there are actually 24 such shops where users can buy Bitcoin in unites of 50, 100 r 250 euros.
- A joint research report out of King’s College of London and Carlos III University in Madrid, Spain finds that cryptocurrency mining malware is responsible for less of the supply of altcoin Monero in circulation than previously estimated. The study analyzes the 4.4 million malware samples (close to 1 million malicious miners) and finds that 4.36% of the public supply of Monero is related to malicious mining operations.
Sharepost announces it has successfully facilitated a secondary trade of security tokens on a blockchain network. Sharepost, which is a registered broker-dealer, was able to run tokens from the Blockchain Capital III Digital Liquid Venture Fund on the Ethereum blockchain,
- Qtum (QTUM), a blockchain platform whose coin is the twenty-eighth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, announced plans to introduce Bitcoin (BTC) atomic swaps to the infrastructure of its mainnet in an official press release. Atomic swaps are meant to enable the swap or exchange of one cryptocurrency for another without requiring a trusted third party. Qtum will implement QTUM-to-BTC atomic swaps through use of Hash Time-Locked Contracts (HTLCs), the most secure way of implementing atomic swaps, according to the company announcement.
- The US Department of Energy will allocate USD$4.8mm of federal funding to universities working on research and development projects, some of which deal with blockchain technology. As of part of the department's, "University Training and Research,” initiative, university projects will be funded to develop fossil energy applications that reduce inefficiencies, improve electrical grids, and create more affordable domestic energy resources. An official announcement from the department discusses that some funding will target blockchain technology applications that would, "secure process signal data and other information flows within distributed sensor networks for fossil-based power generation systems.”
- A block reorganization that occurred on the Ethereum Classic (ETC) blockchain reportedly included double spending that involved more than USD$1.1mm of crypto tokens, according to US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. A post on the Coinbase blog reveals that the team first detected eight block reorganizations on the Ethereum involving 88,500 ETC (worth about USD$460,000) before discovering 12 additional block reorganizations, totaling 219,500 ETC (worth about USD$1.1mm). Coinbase also stated in its post that the exchange’s customers were not affected by the ETC network attack.
- As Ethereum (ETH) core developers are deliberating the implementation of new proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm ProgPoW, some ETH developers are suggesting the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency embrace specialized mining hardware (ASIC) rather than work against it. The ProgPoW protocol would decrease the efficiency divide between ASICs and traditional GPUs while rendering current Ethereum ASICs obsolete. David Vorick, an ETH core developer, however, believes that ProgPoW would favor larger ASIC producers because of the complex hardware required to benefit from economies of scale.
- KodakONE Image Rights Management Platform, a blockchain-based image rights platform developed by KodakONE and licensed by photo industry giant Kodak, generated more than USD$1mm in licensing claims for image rights during its limited beta test. Of the USD$1mm in licensing claims, KodakONE is expected to profit USD$400,000. KodakONE hopes to implement its KodakCoin token and smart contracts in the future in order to enable instant license settlement and license management at scale.
- Cameron Winklevoss, one of the Founders of Gemini, a regulated digital assets platform, discussed in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit Monday that the company is, “committed as ever to making an ETF a reality!” Cameron Winklevoss added that, “we believe bitcoin is better at being gold than gold. If we’re right, then over time the market cap of Bitcoin will surpass the ~7trillion dollar market cap of gold.”
- The Ethereum Foundation has awarded a USD$5mm grant to Parity Technologies, a blockchain development firm based in the United Kingdom. As per an official post on the Ethereum (ETH) blog, the grant was awarded to Parity Technologies for scalability, usability, and security work as a part of, “Parity’s work on Casper, sharding, light clients, developer tools, QA, audits, and infrastructure improvements.” Casper is the Ethereum Network’s prospective proof of stake/proof of work verification protocol hybrid.
- Ethereum Classic (ETC) may be sustaining a 51% attack on its network, although early reports are conflicting. Late last night, the official Ethereum Classic Twitter account tweeted, “There have been rumors of a possible chain reorganization or double spend attack. From what we can tell the ETC network is operating normally.” The official Twitter account of Coinbase, however, tweeted that, “Coinbase detected a deep chain reorganization of the Ethereum Classic blockchain that included a double spend. In order to protect customer funds, we immediately paused movements of these funds on the ETC blockchain.” The reported double spend amounts to 88,500 ETC, worth about USD$460,000 at the time of writing.
- NEM Foundation in Argentina and CISPREN, an Argentinian trade union of journalists, have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a blockchain technology solution for copyright protection in the country. The memorandum of understanding details a Proof-of-Concept for the project to develop a platform to protect intellectual property rights. The prospective platform will require journalists to upload content the blockchain network and feature a time stamp as proof of authenticity.
- After Epic Games’ popular video game Fortnite began to accept Monero (XMR) as payment method in its online store, the company has removed the payment option, explaining that it was a mistake. Epic EOS Tim Sweeney said on Twitter Saturday, “We worked with a partner to open a merchandise store, and somewhere along the way Monero payment was enabled,” adding that, “Many of us at Epic are big fans of decentralized computing tech underlying cryptocurrency, however a lot more work is needed on volatility and fraud-proofing before bringing it to such a broad audience that includes younger gamers.”
- Ledger, a popular cryptocurrency wallet company, announced that its Nano X device will feature Bluetooth capabilities at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Sunday. The Bluetooth feature will enable users to connect their wallet directly with their mobile devices, a long-standing pain point for many users of the company’s most advanced wallet. Ledger CEO Eric Larcheveque said while speaking to CoinDesk on Sunday, “The fact that we have a mobile application and it works with the Nano X is really the big evolution of the hardware for this lineup.”
*Data in Price Return and Updated Real-Time (with a delay), Source: StockDio