Cryptocurrencies finish week broadly mixed as Binance Coin (BNB) continues outperformance and major retailers flirt with crypto payments
Mar 08, 2019
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Developments in Financial Services
- According to a new report published by Bloomberg, cryptocurrency companies across are still facing difficulties in opening bank accounts. The Bloomberg report cites Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of quantitative crypto trading firm Alameda Research, who said, “the standard answer of ‘just go to your local Chase branch’ doesn’t work in crypto,” adding that, “it’s a massive compliance headache that they don’t want to put the resources in to solve.” The Bloomberg report notes that, while large US banks are treading lightly in regards to serving the crypto industry, smaller banks are trying to capitalize on the underserved market.
- Coinbase’s Director of Institutional Sales, Christine Sandler, defended the notable US exchange’s controversial acquisition of blockchain intelligence firm Neutrino while interviewing with financial news outlet Cheddar last week. First announced on February 19th, the acquisition of Neutrino by Coinbase prompted criticisms after reports surfaced that the co-founders of Neutrino had prior involvement with commercial software firm Hacking Team, whose spyware has reportedly been used by a suite of international governments, including authoritarian regimes. In the interview with Cheddar, Sandler discussed that previous client data providers for Coinbase were selling user data to outside sources, prompting the acquisition.
- EToro, an exchange and social network platform with over 10 million unique registered users, officially launched cryptocurrency trading services for US users, according to a press release Thursday. EToro will offer trading services for 13 major cryptocurrencies, although the company has yet to specify which. EToro will also release a multi-signature wallet available to customers in 31 different US states and territories, which will support Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Stellar (XLM), and Ripple (XRP).
- Fidelity Digital Assets has no plans to rush its roll out of trading support for Ethereum (ETH), the world’s largest altcoin, according to comments made by Fidelity Digital Assets President Tom Jessop. Jessop told CoinDesk in an interview on Thursday, “We’re currently supporting bitcoin, we have designs to support other coins over the balance of the year center to various criteria including our [in-house selection framework], where we obviously look at client demands and other things.”
- Five notable Japanese banks announced they were collaborating to launch a financial services infrastructure based on blockchain in a joint press release last week. The Bank of Iwate, Bank of Yokohama, Aomori Bank, Akita Bank, and Yamanashi Chuo Bank will partner to form the, “Fitting Hub,” with a target launch period of April 2019 for its first service, an electronic delivery feature. Fitting Hub leverages IBM’s blockchain expertise in its financial services blockchain platform.
- German financial institutions Commerzbank and Deutsche Boerse have officially completed a proof-of-concept (PoC) for a legally binding repo transaction based on a blockchain platform, according to a report by Cointelegraph Germany. The repo transaction conducted on the blockchain platform was based on a 10mm euro (USD$11.3mm) bond issued by KfW Bankengruppe.
- Huobi, one of the largest global cryptocurrency exchanges, announced that it added support for Ripple (XRP) trading through its peer-to-peer, over-the-counter (OTC) exchange. According to a press release published on Wednesday, XRP will follow major coins Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Tether (USDT), Eos (EOS), and Huobi Token (HT) in gaining support on Huobi’s OTC exchange.
- Tagomi Holdings, a cryptocurrency brokerage and trading platform based in New York, announced it raised USD$12mm in its latest funding round in a press release Monday. The USD$12mm funding round, led by the Yale-backed Paradigm Fund, brings Tagomi Holdings’ total funding to USD$28mm following its initial launch in December 2018. Pantera Capital was among the most notable investors for Nagomi Holdings’ first funding round.
- The HB10, a cryptocurrency index maintained by cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, will be listed on major financial data and analysis news site TradingView, according to an official release published by Huobi. The HB10 index helps, “users attain exposure to the digital assets market with a relatively small capital outlay and also provide users with greater diversification across constituent coin trading pairs.” In addition to the support of HB10, TradingView will also support all of Huobi’s coin-to-coin trading pairs.
- Trading through cryptocurrency futures provider Crypto Facilities, which was acquired by US-based Kraken last month, has observed, “tremendous growth,” in the last month. Since being acquired by Kraken at the beginning of February, trading volume through Crypto Facilities has increased by more than 500%. Over USD$1bn of cryptocurrency futures, across Crypto Facilities’ Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) products, have been traded since the acquisition.
- The United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published two pieces of extensive cryptocurrency research on Thursday that examines the attitude of citizen’s attitude towards cryptocurrencies. In the first study conducted by research firm Revealing Reality, 31 crypto consumers were interviewed with 17 of those being selected for follow-up interviews. According to the results of those interviews, most UK crypto investors see cryptocurrencies as a way to, “get rich quick,”. The second survey, conducted by research firm Kantar TNS in December 2018, surveyed 2,132 UK consumer and found that about 25% of respondents, most of whom were men aged between 20-44, could identify what cryptocurrencies are.
- The South Korean Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) announced that it will for a task force specifically aimed at combatting cryptocurrency-related fraud and other crimes, according to an article published by Korean Broadcasting System. The launch of a crypto crime-focused task force comes after a nearly 9x increase in fraud cases and counterclaims related to cryptocurrency investments from 2016 to 2017. According to a report by Money Today published on Tuesday, reports of crypto related crimes in South Korea increased to 4,591 cases in 2018, a more than tenfold increase from the 453 in 2017.
- The Central Bank of the Bahamas announced key technology providers for its development of a digital fiat currency system and a pilot of the system in an official press release Friday. Dubbed, “Project Sand Dollar,” the Central Bank of the Bahamas aims to enable financial equality and inclusion across its communities in the Bahamas. As part of the pilot program the Central Bank of the Bahamas will work with transaction provider NZIA.io, which brings, “together the collective know-how and expertise of IBM,” and Zynesis, a Singaporean blockchain developer.
- Utah’s State Senate is set to field a bill that outlines the special treatment of blockchain companies in the state. Introduced by Republican State Senator Daniel Hemmert, Bill 0213, which is also known as the, “Blockchain Technology Act,” would seek to exclude blockchain technology businesses from money transmitter compliance obligations. If passed, Utah would become the latest US state behind Utah to adopt regulation for special treatment of blockchain companies in their state.
- The Argentinian government will begin to co-invest in blockchain projects backed by Binance Labs and LatamEx, a Latin America-based crypto exchange, according to a press release Wednesday. The news comes after Binance Labs announced that Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, will become its Latin America hub for the next phase of its Binance Labs Incubation Program. Argentina’s Ministry of Production and Labour has agreed that it will watch investors of up to USD$50,000 in each blockchain project sponsored by Binance Labs, with the agreement applying to as many as 10 blockchain projects per year for the next four years.
- Sam Palmisano, a retired Chairman of IBM and the current Chairman of US nonprofit The Center for Global Enterprise, said he has yet to learn of a solution that makes public blockchain networks compliant with European data privacy laws. While interviewing on Bloomberg Markets with David Kappos, Palmisano described, “With the public case, it is more complicated because of the nature of the information out there an how it’s being shred. I do know of research that’s going on to address the public market, however, I don’t know of a solution that’s been found.”
- A new report by Diar highlights that Bitcoin (BTC) mining revenues fell to their lowest levels in 18 months. Total BTC mining income for February came in at USD$190.3mm, the lowest level seen since July 2017. Additionally, Diar highlighted, “To make matters slightly more difficult, miners running optimal equipment and who have secured wholesale electricity prices have seen their gross margins squeezed requiring a missive deployment of hash power in order to stay afloat.”
- After major US retailer Kroger announced that it would stop accepting Visa at some locations, Morgan Creek Digital founder Anthony Pompliano is suggesting it deploy Lightning Network support in its stores. According to Tweets fired off by, in fact, the negotiations have already started. In announcing that it would stop support of Visa, Kroger cited high fees that the company imposes on major US retailers. Pompliano frankly tweeted on Sunday that, “The Morgan Creed Digital team will fly to meet them [Kroger team] and get them hooked up with the Lightning Network nationwide.”
- Bangchak Corporation Public Co. Limited (BCP), a large Thai petroleum refining company, will test a blockchain-based energy trading platform and commercial microgrid at one of its stations in Bangkok, according to a report published by news outlet Microgrid Knowledge. The new microgrid generation and distribution blockchain platform will be responsible for generating, distributing, and storing energy for shopping hall tenants in Bangkok. According to comments made by Wuthipong Suponthana, Managing Director of Leonics, the designer of the blockchain system, “Our customer, Bangchak Petroleum Co., wants their people to gain know-how regarding the design and implementation of microgrid systems, as well as know-how regarding the operation of microgrids as a business.”
- Carrefour, a retail giant based in France, is continuing its adoption of blockchain technology with its new system for tracking milk, according to a press release. Beginning this March, Carrefour Quality Line (CQL) will be a new line of micro-filtered full-fat milk whose supply chain in powered by blockchain technology. The move by Carrefour comes after it launched a blockchain food tracking solutions in partnership with Hyperledger to track free-range chickens.
- Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics firm based in New York, published an official user data policy with a goal of clarifying that it does not collect or sell personal data. Chainalysis faced allegations that the blockchain analytics firm was circulating clients’ user data following backlash from the controversial acquisition of Neutrino, another blockchain analytics firm, by Coinbase. Coinbase explained that the acquisition was driven by previous blockchain analytics tool providers, one of which is Chainalysis, selling clients’ user data to third-parties.
- Civil, a blockchain-based journalism platform, announced its official launch in a blog post published on Medium. The Civil platform will use its native token, CVL Token, to provide financial sustainability and create trust in the journalism industry. Beginning today, March 6th, users will be able to buy a Civil membership and receive voting power on the platform. 100% of proceeds generated through Civil memberships will be reinvested into non-profit organization Civil Foundation to support ethical journalism across the globe.
- Enjin, a digital asset tokenization startup, announced that it will unveil a Software Development Kit (SDK) for Unity, a leading game development engine, on March 14th, 2019. According to an official Medium post published on Monday, the SKD will allow developers to create, integrate, and manage the distribution of ERC1155-compliant tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. The SKD will also enable interoperability between tokenized game assets, allowing players to use multiple virtual items across different games.
- Experts from US technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton believe that renewable energy markets across the Gulf Cooperation Council could benefit from increased security capabilities and cost efficiencies through the use of blockchain technology. According to a report published by news outlet AI Bawaba, Booz Allen Hamilton Vice President Dr Adham Sleiman argued that the transactional nature of the renewable energy sector leaves it poised to benefit from a decentralized blockchain system, where a centralized one currently dominates.
- Following an equity deal between Starbucks and US-based cryptocurrency platform Bakkt, the global coffee giant could be set to accept Bitcoin (BTC)-based payments at its retail locations, according to a report by The Block. The report by The Block explains that Starbucks would not actually process any cryptocurrency, as cryptos used as payment will be instantly transferred to fiat. The Block quotes an unnamed expert who is close to the deal who said, “there’s high value from having a brand at this level.”
- IBM announced the launch of an operational version of its X-Force Red Blockchain Testing service for conducting security testing on blockchain solution platforms in a press release Tuesday. According to the press release, “IBM X-Force Red is seeing that 70 percent of solutions that incorporate blockchain rely on traditional technologies for backend processes like authentication, data processing, and Application Programming Interfaces (API).” The press release added that the new service, “will evaluate the whole implementation, including public key infrastructure and Hyperledger's.”
- Lyft, a popular ridesharing application, is partnering with blockchain startup Solve.Care with a goal of tokenizing healthcare transportation agreements, according to a Solve.Care press release on Monday. The new partnership will allow Solve.Care users to schedule Lyft rides to doctor offices, hospitals, and pharmacies through an automated payment feature using the native SOLVE token, which users hold in their Solve.Care digital wallets. Pradeep Goel, CEO of Solve.Care, hopes the partnership with Lyft will help its blockchain healthcare platform, “improve patient satisfaction through timely access to care, reduced wait times, and simpler cost-sharing and access to transportation subsidies.”
- MakerDao (Maker), a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), will allow users to vote on whether or not to increase a fee used by its Dai (DAI) stablecoin, according to an official blog post. Stablecoin DAI has many uses, including as a medium for loans through the Maker platform. The proposal, known as the Stability Fee, seeks to implement a fee hike for when DAI is created through collateralized debt position (CDP) on Maker. Users are currently voting on the proposal with the period for voting ending Thursday.
- Marseille Fos Port, the main seaport for trade in France, announced its participation in a blockchain pilot oriented towards increasing the efficiencies in freight logistics. According to a report by local news outlet PortSEurope, French authority the Interministerial Delegation is support the blockchain pilot. Specifically, the blockchain pilot will target boosting efficiencies in data management associated with port logistics.
- QuadrigaCX, the defunct crypto exchange whose founders’ passing left over USD$100mm worth of digital assets inaccessible, most likely store a significant amount of Ethereum (ETH) with other cryptocurrency exchanges, according to new research. Crypto research and consulting platform ZeroNonCense published a report last week, containing corroborating information from Kraken CEO Jesse Powell and MyCrypto CEO Taylor Monahan that finds, “there is a very strong probability,” that almost 650,000 ETH owned by QuadrigaCX was stored between crypto exchanges Kraken, Bitfinex, and Poloniex.
- Tether, the issuer of the US dollar-pegged stablecoin USDT, is partnering with blockchain protocol Tron (TRX) to introduce USDT to the Tron network, according to an official announcement by the companies. According to the announcement, Tron and Tether are aiming to enable USDT on the Tron network by the second quarter of 2019. On February 28th, Tron implemented a hard fork designed to introduce a suite of institution-friendly features on its network.
*Data in Price Return and Updated Real-Time (with a delay), Source: StockDio