Říj 20

Crypto-Mergers and Acquisitions Increased by 200% in 2018

Institutional investors, venture capitalists, and other well-heeled entities “in the know” are using a year-long bear market to buy up future technologies for what might turn out to be pennies on the dollar.


It Takes Money to Make Money

Yesterday CNBC reported that most of  2018 has been a “deal frenzy” for cryptocurrency and blockchain-related companies as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are reported to have increased by 200 percent. Pitchbook had JMP Securities crunch M&A data the results showed that by the end of 2018 there will have been 145 M&A deals.

The data is inclusive of majority investments, partial and full acquisitions but it does not pinpoint the exact dollar amount spent for each deal. JMP did mention that most of the M&As are “relatively small” as the sum is less than $100 million. The uptick in M&As took place as Bitcoin declined to trade nearly 53% below its January price.

Interestingly, buyers did not appear deterred by Bitcoin’s fall from $20,000 in January as the $830 billion dollar market capitalization began to disintegrate. In fact, according to Satya Bajpai, the head of blockchain and digital assets investment banking at JMP Securities, “You’re seeing a mispricing of assets.” Bajpai believes that the majority of crypto-startups have token values that “remain correlated to Bitcoin” and this phenomenon “can create an ideal opportunity for strategic acquirers.”

Crypto is an Investors Smorgasbord

Bajpai used the analogy of a “land grab” when describing how the rapid pace of growth and innovation in a new sector compels investors to buy up technology producers instead of attempting to build their own platform. Bajpai explained that “[The M&A route is] expensive, but you get the technology and product immediately. This industry is like a treadmill – the only way to keep up on a treadmill is to keep running by investing in new technology.”

The Ends Justifies the Means

Bajpai also pointed out that hasty acquisitions come with significant risks as a number of the companies scooped up during mergers and acquisitions are startups in infancy and have yet to prove themselves. Nonetheless, the uptick in mergers and acquisitions shows that many investors are willing to look past these issues as the potential for future returns could far outweigh these risks.  

What do you think about venture capitalists and institutions purchasing crypto-startups? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of JMP Securities, Shutterstock.

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Říj 19

Nordea in Money Laundering Scandal After Calling Bitcoin ‘High-Risk’ for Money Laundering

Nordic banking giant Nordea Bank is allegedly implicated in a multi-million money laundering scandal. Reportedly, the case is related to another recent money laundering scheme involving Denmark’s Danske Bank.


Nordea in Hot Water 

Banking giant Nordea Bank, headquartered in Helsinki, is alleged to have accepted criminally-sourced funds from banks located in Lithuania and Estonia.

The giant confirmed that it’s aware of the report on Tuesday October 16th:

We are aware of the report, and at Nordea we work closely with the relevant authorities in the countries in which we operate, including the Nordic Financial Intelligence Units.

According to Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT, some 365 individual accounts at the bank have allegedly received payments from shell companies amounting to 150 million euros. What is more, the media, which claims to have access to the report, outlines that part of those payments came from the Estonian branch of Danske Bank.

Danske Bank

Bitcoinist reported earlier in October that Denmark’s Danske Bank found itself at the center of a tremendous Russian money laundering scandal, alleging that it has illegitimately processed some $235 billion.

And Yet, Cryptocurrencies Present a Threat?

Danske Bank reportedly laundered more money than the entire cryptocurrency market capitalization alone. That’s one bank at one location.

According to the report mentioned above, Nordea is also at the center of yet another 150 million money laundering scandal. This is the same bank which banned all of its 31,000 employees from trading Bitcoin 00 because of its “high risks.”

Back in February, another major Dutch bank – Rabobank, was also fined for accepting at least $369 million in illegal proceeds from drug trafficking and other activity from the period between 2009 and 2012.

Rabobank also warned against the risks of Bitcoin. Quickly after that, the bank took a major U-turn and announced that it plans to offer a cryptocurrency wallet.

Coincheck NEM laundered

The obvious conclusions aside, it’s important to note that multiple international governmental institutions have already spoken up on the risks of cryptocurrencies associated with illicit activities.

A report from the Financial Services and Treasury of Hong Kong on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment revealed that cryptocurrencies are widely left out of organized crime.

The National Crime Agency of the UK, in its National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing report of 2017 also outlined that the risks of cryptocurrencies used for money laundering is “relatively low.”

What do you think of the recent allegations against Nordea? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Říj 18

Goldman Sachs and Mike Novogratz Invest in Cryptocurrency Startup BitGo

BitGo, a company which provides institutional-grade investors with compliance, security, and custodial solutions for cryptocurrencies has closed its Series B funding round bringing in $58.5 million. Goldman Sachs and Novogratz’ Galaxy Digital Ventures LLC contributed with $15 million of said amount.


Investing in a $1 Trillion Cryptocurrency Wallet

In an official release from today, BitGo disclosed that it has successfully finalized its Series B funding round, bringing in a total amount of $58.8 million USD.

The lineup of investors includes companies like Valor Equity Partners, Craft Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, DRW, and, most recently – Mike Novogratz’ Galaxy Digital Ventures LLC and Goldman Sachs’ Principal Strategic Investments Group.

According to Bloomberg, Novogratz and Goldman invested a total of $15 million in this round of funding. The money is designated to support BitGo’s development of a $1 trillion cryptocurrency wallet.

Notes BitGo CEO, Mike Belshe:

This strategic investment from Goldman Sachs and Galaxy Digital Ventures validates both our market opportunity and unique position. No one is better positioned than BitGo to serve institutional investors who want to trade cryptocurrencies and digital assets. That’s why we’re focused on figuring out what it takes to secure a trillion dollars. The market’s not there yet but our job is to be ready first.

Novogratz Backtracks

The former Goldman Sachs partner sat down with CNBC’s “Cryptotrader” Ran Neu-Ner in July, outlining that the next price rally will require a “custody from a trusting source.”

Novogratz

At the same time, the permabull was quite straightforward on his position regarding existing custodial solutions at the time, namely BitGo, saying:

If I’m at the state of Wisconsin, I’m not going to risk my job on a company called BitGo.

Speaking on his most recent multi-million dollar investment–in the company he had no confidence in just four months ago–Novogratz said:

We have been impressed with BitGo’s world class team, their deep technical understanding of digital assets as well as their ability to deliver institutional-quality products to investors. Our team is excited to support BitGo as it enters into this next phase of growth.

Bitcoin (BTC) price 00 remains unfazed by the positive news in what has been an auspicious week for cryptocurrency so far and amid rising Bitcoin futures volumes on the CME.

“Institutional movement into the space continues …,” commented Bitcoin entrepreneur Alan Silbert.

What do you think of Goldman Sachs’ and Galaxy Digital Ventures’ most recent investment in BitGo? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives

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Říj 16

Amid Brexit Uncertainties, Coinbase Announces a New Dublin Office

Coinbase has announced the opening of a new office in Dublin. The decision to move shop to the famed Irish city may be part of a plan to hedge Brexit uncertainty by expanding the company’s presence across Europe.


San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase continues to expand its presence across Europe. October 15th the company said on are opening a new office in Dublin Ireland after considering a number of locales across the European Union.

Coinbase made the announcement through a Tweet and a blog post by Vice President of Operations and Technology, Tina Bhatnagar. According to Bhatnagar, the Dublin office will allow Coinbase to “[…] tap into the city’s diverse talent pool and long-standing support for technological innovation.”

Bhatnagar noted that the exchange is currently hiring for roles in the new office. Team members will be complimenting current Coinbase operations in London, and will also play host to new business-related functions.

As of press time, the Coinbase careers page lists a handful of open positions located in Dublin. These include opportunities as Support Analyst, Compliance Manager, and Sr. Product Manager.

Dublin

Hedging Bets In A Post-Brexit World?

Coinbase U.K. CEO Zeeshan Feroz made a point to say the expansion to Ireland was part of a strategy to “better service our customers.” Feroz told CNBC through a phone interview that the European Union was the company’s “most significant market outside the U.S.”

However, some speculate the decision by Coinbase might be part of a plan to offset the ramifications of Brexit by boosting their presence across the European continent.

According to CNBC, Feroz thought the uncertainty surrounding Brexit “played some part in the decision.”

He explained how the company believes Ireland was a good spot for expansion since it is a growing technological hub, home to a range of talent, and an English speaking nation.

Staff Shakeups Continue At Coinbase

The decision by Coinbase to open up a Dublin office and seek out some new talent is another sign the company is looking to increase their clout and even shake up personnel if necessary.

In early September, Bitcoinist reported that the Coinbase had managed to double their staff while hitting their 2018 hiring target.

Earlier in the year, Coinbase opened up an office in Portland, Oregon and hired new workers after coming face to face with a flurry of criticism for not being prepared on the customer service front.

More recently, the company announced the departure of Adam White, Coinbase’s fifth employee. Around the same time, Charles Schwab Board of Directors Member Chris Dodds was introduced as the newest member of the Coinbase Board.

What do you think about Coinbase’s decision to select Dublin as the location for a new office? Let us know in the comments below!


Images and media courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Twitter (@Coinbase).

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Říj 15

Despite the Falling Market, Lynked.World Secures Impressive $5 Million in Support from Institutional Funds

The great news is out: Lynked.World was able to forge a strategic partnership with the leading blockchain investment firm Pecunio Investments. According to the freshly signed deal, Pecunio’s support of the project will amount to up to $5M.

Pecunio is a Dubai-based venture capital fund that holds an ever growing portfolio of blockchain companies with its most recent investments being in leading projects like CoinSeason, Alchemy, Photochain to name a few and is renowned for its rigorous evaluation of ICO projects, which it conducts based on strict due diligence principles. The company carefully selects the candidates, only working with those whose prospects are believed to be the best fit for integration with its PICO fund. This prudent strategy accomplishes two important goals: it ensures that the fund’s investors don’t miss out on a good investment opportunity, and it minimizing their risks.

“We strongly believe that Lynked.World will be the next generation Trust and Authenticity platform, because its technology is so advanced. Pecunio is pleased to partner with such a dedicated and creative team,” said Reinhard Berger, Pecunio’s CEO. “My heartfelt congratulations to Arun Kumar, the CEO and founder of Lynked.World, a company well positioned to redefine how trust and authenticity are established in the digital age. This is a project we will definitely be hearing about a lot in the future.”

“At Lynked.World, we envision, and are getting ready for a new era in the digital world, a time when blockchain technology will conclusively become the primary vehicle for ensuring trust and authenticity and validating and safeguarding digital identities, data and documents. We see our mission as to be the pioneers who will eliminate the key constraints around reliability and provide an innovative application platform for the next leap forward towards Web 3.0. Our mission will greatly benefit from our strategic partnership with Pecunio: Besides the deal’s obvious financial advantages for our project, we recognize Pecunio as a leading blockchain influencer. They have the tools and experience to create global brands for the blockchain market and an astonishing industry network, which we will now be able to leverage for our project,” said Arun Kumar, CEO and founder of Lynked.World.

Dima Zaitsev, Head of International PR of ICOBox, the world’s premier ICO service provider working with Lynked.World, is very happy about the new alliance: “In my experience, ICO projects with strong partnerships like the one between Lynked.World and Pecunio, have very high chances of becoming a success. In Lynked.World’s case, this chance is already a reality: they have already deployed their service throughout several Indian states, which will now be issuing birth certificates for its citizens using Lynked.World’s proprietary blockchain. Their actions speak louder than words!”

For more information about the project please visit https://tokensale.lynked.world.

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Říj 14

Christie’s Auction House Leads Art World in Blockchain Tech

Christie’s recently announced the introduction of a system for recording art transactions on blockchain. The decision is just the latest example of how the tech is catching on inside of the art world.


Leading auction house Christie’s announced a new system utilizing blockchain to encrypt the registration of art transactions for a November sale.

The company is planning to sell a variety of major artworks from one of the most extensive privately-held collections of American art from the last century. According to early estimates project that the artworks could command more than $300 million at auction.

Richard Entrup of Christie’s said the blockchain-based registration system arose out of a partnership with Artory, who is a well-known digital registry for the art market.

According to Entrup, the upcoming art sale will give collectors and clients a way to

Explore the advantages of having a secure encrypted record of information about their purchased artwork.

Buyers will be able to access a secure record of information about their purchase that includes the description, final price, and verification of the transaction.

The decision by Christie’s to integrate blockchain into the art world seems to signify the cutting-edge technology is starting to catch on in a complicated, high-end industry.

Putting An End To Stolen Art?

Blockchain has been the recipient of buzz within of the art community due to its storage capabilities. The idea of a legitimate and secure digital record of a work’s provenance has figures in the art world embracing the idea that blockchain could be used to drastically slash instances of stolen or misrepresented work.

Geneva-based Fine Arts Expert Institute said in 2014 that more than half of all artwork they looked at was either forged or not associated with the right artist.

The Blockchain Art Collective (BAC) has been working to register art onto distributed ledgers by attaching tamper-proof seals to pieces of art. The idea is to let others know that a particular work has its information on a certain blockchain.

Startups like the BAC hope these virtual authenticity certificates will inspire more confidence in the art market, especially for higher-priced pieces.

Bringing A Crypto Arts Culture To Life

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain tech has also become a popular subject for a growing number of artists who are interested in investigating concepts related to the digital world.

Some street artists have begun to create public displays paying homage to popular virtual currencies like Bitcoin. Instagram user @thisisludo posted a photo of a creation that depicted giving “power to the people.”

Otherwise, crypto-themed art has slowly been making its ways into traditional art circles. One serigraph containing the word “HODL,” mimicking Robert Indiana’s famous “LOVE” sculpture, sold at auction for $8,000 to Mike Novogratz. Another crypto-inspired work by cryptograffiti sold for $33,000.

What are your thoughts on blockchain, crypto, and its relationship with the art world? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of, Bitcoinist archives, Christie’s, Instagram (@thisisludo), Wassilykandinsky.net.

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Říj 13

Goldman Sachs Ex-President Gary Cohn to Advise Blockchain Startup

Former Goldman Sachs president and Trump chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, will take an advisory role with Spring Labs. The FinTech startup aims to use blockchain technologies to revolutionize credit and identity services.


New Horizons

Cohn resigned as director of the US National Economic Council in April, after disagreements with President Trump over trade tariffs. Prior to taking this position, he served as president and chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs for over ten years.

The Spring Labs venture will be his first major move since leaving the Trump administration. He joins a host of high-profile names in financial services, blockchain technologies and regulatory bodies on the advisory team.

The First Days of Spring

[nb: this is the title of a Dali painting. not sure if it can be used as an image to illustrate]

Spring Labs is building a decentralized network using a distributed ledger to improve transparency, security, and efficiency in exchanging credit and identity information. It also intends to allow consumers to view information held about them without charge.

The company, which has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago, raised nearly $15 million in seed-funding, without an ICO in sight. CEO Adam Jiwan explained:

We don’t have a need to use a coin offering or token offering as a means to raising capital. We might deploy a digital asset. But at the moment, our focus is on architecting the network and driving adoption.

Role Play

On taking the position, Cohn received an undisclosed amount of equity in the company. And as to the role he will fulfill, Jiwan says:

We envision him playing a role around helping us think through for developing something that’s regulatory compliant and that others need to see in order to adapt it.

In the press release, Cohn himself states:

I have been very interested in blockchain technology for a number of years, and Spring Labs is developing a network that could have profound implications for the financial services sector, among others.

Is traditional finance becoming more embracing of cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, wikimedia.org

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Říj 12

‘Nurture Productive Aspects Of Cryptocurrency,’ US Presidential Hopeful Tells Senate

The US senator and potential presidential contender who suggested cryptocurrency “hurt” American families repeated concerns about the industry on October 11, saying it was “easy to steal.”


Warren Argues For Consumer Protection ‘Balance’

In a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Elizabeth Warren voiced fresh worry over the current regulatory climate in Washington, implying balanced rules should come into force.

At the same time, Warren poured scorn on ICOs, alleging “a lot of small investors” were being “scammed” by them, Forbes reports.

“The challenge is how to nurture productive aspects of crypto with protecting consumers,” the publication quotes her as saying.

Last year, Warren had claimed when US regulators turn their attention away from an emerging phenomenon in need of regulation, it was “American families” who “suffer” as a result.

“It was exactly that attitude at the Fed in the run up in the crash in 2008,” she said at the time. “The Fed had a lot of tools they could have intervened, but they sat there on their hands and said, ‘Let the market go forward.’”

Elizabeth Warren

Roubini Has No Time For Cryptocurrency

The Senate hearing meanwhile has already become infamous in cryptocurrency circles following comments from economist and famed naysayer Nouriel Roubini, who delivered what could be considered his most scathing appraisal of the industry yet.

“Crypto is the mother or father of all scams and bubbles,” he told the Committee as part of the prepared testimony.

“Especially folks with zero financial literacy – individuals who could not tell the difference between stocks and bonds – went into a literal manic frenzy of Bitcoin and Crypto buying.”

On ICOs, Roubini was also keen to espouse the view the industry was mostly legally dubious, using results of research published earlier this summer by Satis Group which concluded over 80 percent of such projects were scams.

“It would appear that ICOs serve little purpose other than to skirt securities laws that exist to protect investors from being cheated,” he concluded. 

What do you think about Elizabeth Warren and Nouriel Roubini’s appraisals? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Říj 11

BREAKING: Bitfinex Reportedly Halts Fiat Deposits

Bitfinex, the world’s fourth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by means of trading volume, has purportedly halted fiat deposits temporarily.


EUR, USD, JPY, GBP Wire Deposits Temporarily Halted

Screenshots of customer accounts started circulating on social media moments ago, suggesting that the British Virgin Islands-based and Hong-Kong-operated cryptocurrency exchange has temporarily paused wire deposits with EUR, USD, JPY, and GBP. However, the screenshot also indicates that the situation is expected to “normalize within a week.”

“Bitfinex’s EUR, USD, JPT, GBP wire deposits are temporarily paused. Things are expected to resume in a week,” notes Twitter account Squeeze.

Questionable Timing

As Bitcoinist reported last week, citing anonymous sources speaking to Bloomberg, Noble Bank is supposedly facing financial difficulties. The sources also revealed that two of the bank’s clients – Tether and Bitfinex — are seeking a buyout.

The exchange was quick to answer, stating that:

Stories and allegations currently circulating mentioning an entity called Noble Bank have no impact on our operations, survivability, or solvency.

Shortly after, an online report started circulating, raising concerns that the cryptocurrency exchange was bankrupt. Interestingly enough, the report has since been removed. Regardless, Bitfinex released an official rebuttal, claiming:

Bitfinex is not insolvent, and a constant stream of Medium articles, claiming otherwise is not going to change this. As one of only a very few exchanges operating since 2013 with a small team and low operating costs, we do not entirely understand the arguments that purport to show us to be insolvent without providing any explanation about why.

Furthermore, Bitcoin (BTC) 00 lost around 5 percent in hours on October 11, dragging the entire cryptocurrency market down with more than $16 billion. The decline followed a transfer of more than 15,000 BTC from one unknown wallet to another in a single transaction, quickly firing up suspicions about market manipulation.

What do you think of Bitfinex’s move to halt some fiat deposits? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Říj 10

In Switzerland, Crypto Finance AG Obtains First Ever Cryptocurrency Asset Management License

In what is a first for Switzerland, Crypto Fund, a subsidiary of Crypto Finance AG, recently obtained a cryptocurrency asset management from the country’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). The company becomes the first to be authorized to provide full spectrum services to institutional investors regarding blockchain-based assets.


FINMA Grants Crypto Fund Full Cryptocurrency Asset Management License

According to Bloomberg, the license puts Crypto Finance AG in the same bracket as other non-cryptocurrency asset management firms in the country. Commenting on the development, company CEO, Jan Brzezek, said:

The importance of crypto assets is growing, and our aim is to accelerate maturity in these markets. FINMA authorization is an important acknowledgment of the Crypto Fund and for crypto assets around the world.

FINMA

FINMA initially gave Crypto Finance AG limited authorization earlier in the year to function as a cryptocurrency asset management firm. With this license upgrade, the Zug-headquartered company is now free to issue investment products that track cryptocurrencies and even provide investment advisory services to its customers.

This license upgrade will also enable the company to steal a march on its rivals as the competition in the burgeoning cryptocurrency scene in Switzerland becomes fiercer. Apart from Crypto Fund, there are many other firms in the country knocking on FINMA’s door for different licenses that would enable them to offer their services.

Cementing Switzerland’s Place in the Emerging Cryptocurrency Narrative

For cryptocurrency enthusiasts in Switzerland, this news will come as a welcome development. Recently, some stakeholders raised alarms that the country risked losing cryptocurrency-based companies if the regulatory landscape didn’t improve.

Despite difficulties in obtaining valuable banking partnerships, the Swiss canton of Zug remains a popular destinations for virtual currency companies. However, significant developments in places like Malta and Liechtenstein could see a migration of these companies away from Switzerland.

Former UBS Bankers Raise Funds for Innovative Bank in Zug

Recently, a group of former UBS bankers announced the successful fundraising for SEBA Crypto AG in its bid to become the world’s first regulated cryptocurrency bank. According to Swissinfo, the startup hopes to secure FINMA license to allow its customers to trade digital currency.

SEBA also secured vital investments from Black River Asset Management and Hong Kong-based Summer Capital. With all these recent developments, the Zug Crypto Valley initiative seems well on its way to becoming a reality. Once that happens, Switzerland automatically becomes a major global hub for all things cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

What do you think this development will mean for the burgeoning cryptocurrency and blockchain development hub in Switzerland? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


Image courtesy of Crypto Finance AG, Shutterstock.

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