Pro 31

Bakkt Raises $182.5M From Microsoft And Other Big-Name Investors

Bakkt on Monday announced the completion of its first funding round, to the tune of $182.5 million. The platform which aims to offer the first-ever Bitcoin-settled futures contracts in the coming year says it is going ahead with its plans irrespective of the current market conditions.


$182.5 Million in Funding From High Profile Investors

In a Medium post published on Monday (Dec. 31, 2018) by the Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, the company announced that it had successfully carried out its first funding round. According to the announcement, 12 investors participated in the capital raising exercise.

The CEO notes the investors including some big names, namely:

The partners and investors in the first round include Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, the fintech arm of Naspers, and Protocol Ventures.

Bakkt Moving Ahead Despite Bear Market

For Loeffler, the status quo remains unchanged despite the prolonged bear market that characterized the cryptocurrency space in 2018. The company intends to continue its drive for proper onboarding of clients, as well as, collaborating with relevant business partners.

New York Stock Exchange Owner to Launch Bitcoin Data Service

Reinstating Bakkt’s commitment and resolve to the process, Loeffler, said:

We have worked to build new markets and products many times before. Those of us building Bakkt have earned our stripes by helping advance markets in once-nascent asset classes, from energy to credit derivatives and, now, bitcoin. The path to developing new markets is rarely linear: progress tends to modulate between innovation, dismissal, reinvention, and, finally, acceptance.

According to Loeffler, focusing on the BTC price 00 action is a distraction from the groundbreaking developments happening with Bitcoin as a whole. The Bakkt CEO also noted that paradigm-shifting technological breakthroughs have a long incubation time and price isn’t always the best metric for gauging growth.

Notably, 2018 was the most active year for crypto in its brief ten-year history. This was evidenced by rising investment in distributed ledger technology and digital assets, as well as by blockchain network metrics such as daily bitcoin transaction value and active addresses. Yet, these milestones tend to be overshadowed by the more narrow focus on bitcoin’s price…

Bakkt Postponed From January to ‘Early 2019’

Bakkt and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) continue to work out modalities for the launch of the BTC-settled futures contracts. However, the current government shutdown in the United States looks like it has pushed back the January 2019 launch to “early 2019.”

The official statement published on December 31, reads:

Following consultation with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, ICE Futures U.S., Inc. expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019, for the trading, clearing and warehousing of the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract. The launch had previously been set for January 24, 2019, but will be amended pursuant to the CFTC’s process and timeline.

While awaiting CFTC approval, the platform says it will continue to onboard customers while firming up its institutional-grade infrastructure.

Do you think the signs are good for Bakkt following this successful fundraising round? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Twitter (@Bakkt), Shutterstock

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Pro 30

New Survey Finds 40% of Chinese Want To Invest In Bitcoin

A new survey asked nearly 5000 Chinese people about their familiarity and interest in cryptocurrency. The results of the survey show that two in five or 40 percent wanting to invest in bitcoin, despite the current bear market.


Subject Knowledge

The survey found that 98 percent of the respondents had heard of at least one concept related to cryptocurrency or blockchain.

Although, only 50 percent said they had heard of cryptocurrency, digital currency or bitcoin, and 42% had heard of blockchain. One would imagine a very high level of crossover in these two groups, so it is unclear what the other 48 percent had heard of.

Only 20% of those who have heard of blockchain claim to have an understanding of the technology. Half of these were millennials, suggesting a greater level of crypto-interest amongst this group.

Indeed, the affinity for digital payments among the millennial generation alongside a deep distrust in banks following the ’08 financial crisis may be setting the stage for Bitcoin adoption to happen naturally.

In November, Bitcoinist noted:

[I]n 8 years, there will be no person under 18 years old who have lived in a world without Bitcoin, which has been working flawlessly their whole lives. This will be the reality for everyone born in 2009 and beyond.

Their trust in bitcoin will be as profound as their trust in gravity.

Invested In Crypto

14 percent of survey respondents had invested in cryptocurrency. Of these, one in five have little knowledge and only know about Bitcoin, two in five know about mainstream cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and EOS, and two in five have knowledge of other altcoins.

China’s First Bitcoin Documentary Premiere

Influencers play an important role in the spread of cryptocurrency awareness. Nearly 40% of those polled had discovered crypto through online celebrities. 25 percent learned about crypto through friends and relatives, whilst 20 percent became aware through media coverage.

Age Appropriate

60 percent of those who had invested in cryptocurrency was in the 19-28 age range, with most having invested between 10,000 and 100,000 yuan ($1450 – $14,500). Most of this group invested after the 2017 bull-run, so will likely be nursing some major losses.

Despite this, 40 percent of the survey respondents said that they would invest any spare funds in cryptocurrency in the future.

Barriers To Entry

However, almost 60 percent of respondents said they were scared off by complicated procedures when using wallets or exchanges. A similar number believe that they don’t need crypto as a means of payment, due to existing mobile payment options being pervasive in the country.

Despite these misgivings and the ongoing legality issues, the survey claimed to be the largest of its kind, seems to indicate a bright future for crypto in China.

What do you think of the survey’s findings? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Pro 29

Use Bitcoin! Customers Condemn PayPal After It ‘Bans’ The Hacker News

Cybersecurity news resource The Hacker News (THN) has become the latest PayPal user to have its accounts frozen without warning, the company has claimed.


‘At Least One Valid Reason’

In a series of tweets December 28, officials reported that funds from “all” its corporate accounts with the money transmitter were no longer accessible.  

“(PayPal) has permanently banned all of our accounts without mentioning any reason and hold wallet funds wrongly for 180 days. Upon asking, (PayPal Support) also refused to share any details,” they wrote.

Describing the situation as “frustrating,” THN also accused PayPal of failing to provide “at least one valid reason” for its actions.

PayPal has often instigated funds blocking against corporate clients, including those involved in the cryptocurrency industry, without explanation.

As Bitcoinist has reported, such blocks are part of the service’s terms of use, which include the caveat that users can be frozen out of their accounts without the company being required to explain why.

Bitcoin Doesn’t Care

Almost immediately after THN made the news public, Twitter commentators pointed it in the direction of Bitcoin as an alternative.

The event comes amid a progressively changing mood to centralized payment providers among tech circles.

The same day, TIME Magazine had published a pro-Bitcoin article focusing on its use as a circumventive method, specifically highlighting PayPal’s Venmo as an example of middlemen who “can potentially censor, surveil, and profit” from customers.

The backlash has extended beyond PayPal in recent months. In August and on several occasions since, crowdfunding platform Patreon blocked high-profile users and gave dubious reasons for doing so.

Open source alternatives have also targeted centralization within cryptocurrency, such as BTCPay rapidly taking custom away from industry names such as BitPay and Coinbase, which have both faced controversies of their own.

At press time, no further information had come from PayPal over the THN stunt.

What do you think about PayPal allegedly blocking The Hacker News? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of shutterstock

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Pro 28

The Federal Reserve Could Launch a ‘FedCoin’- But There’s Really No Point

It seems as if the Federal Reserve really understands the core values of Bitcoin and that launching a national cryptocurrency is pointless.


Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde spoke out about the benefits of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) this November. She said that they could improve security, accelerate financial inclusion, reduce poverty, and afford greater privacy. She even made a reference to cryptocurrencies as a “contender” in our cashless society.

And many crypto enthusiasts took heart. It seemed that finally, aging institutions were coming around to the technology and understanding its value. After all, cryptocurrencies can already achieve most of the things that Lagarde suggested. They can lower the cost of international remittances, streamline efficiencies, and protect the identity of their users.

But It’s Not Interesting to The Federal Reserve

At the height of bitcoin’s price explosion last year, when crypto entered the mainstream, many people called it the future of money. In fact, a former governor at the Federal Reserve Kevin Walsh, who was among the candidates to become chairman, said that if he were elected he would allocate resources to explore the creation of Fedcoin–a national cryptocurrency.

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank: 3 Qualities Bitcoin and Cash Share

Why? Because it could improve transparency, increase efficiency, and allow the Fed to access negative interest rates and other financial tools.

But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, none of these things are of interest to the Fed, the banks, or national governments.

Sorry, No National Cryptocurrency for Now

The IMF is famous for imposing loans on struggling countries and crippling them with exorbitant interest rates. So it seems unlikely that such an institution would race to adopt a technology that would unchain the downtrodden from their shackles.

Moreover, researchers at the St. Louis Fed, Fabian Schar and Aleksander Berentsen, noted that a central bank “could easily” create its own crypto:

However, the key characteristics of cryptocurrencies are a red flag for central banks.

The red flags, they argued, were that law enforcers must be able to monitor who is using a currency at all times, which means that they would need strict identification requirements to eliminate fraudsters and money launderers.

They fail to mention that some two-thirds of all $100 US dollar bills are outside of the United States–and that no one has any idea who is using them.

They do make some very valid points, however, that underpin the reason there may never be a Fedcoin or any other national cryptocurrency:

Once you add a central bank and remove the “permissionless” network—with nodes that can leave and join as they wish, there isn’t much left to the cryptocurrency you started with.

In fact, a centralized cryptocurrency isn’t really a ‘cryptocurrency’ at all. It’s just centralized electronic money, which they’ve already got bucketloads of.

The two St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve researchers further pointed out that this kind of centralized electronic money doesn’t even need a blockchain to work, in fact:

The technology for issuing virtual money in a centralized way existed long before the invention of the blockchain.

The Old Money Laundering Argument Again

A Federal Reserve Board governor Lael Brainard tore the concept of CBDCs apart at San Francisco’s Decoding Digital Currency Conference. While praising blockchain’s innovation, she went on to note that crypto’s volatility made it unsuitable as a unit of currency or store of value and that it was susceptible to hacks and money laundering.

She repeated Schar and Berentsen’s red flag of identity management and noted how a national digital currency would affect banks–again, pointing out that we do, indeed, already have electronic money.

So, while its certainly true that the Fed could digitize the US dollar and turn it into a cryptocurrency, it would only work against the interests of existing institutions and essentially be totally pointless.

Could There Be a Middle Ground?

It’s interesting to note that while adding centralized authorities to crypto does, in fact, seem to be missing the point, that doesn’t render crypto entirely useless for national purposes. Neither does it make fiat any more suitable. Cryptographer Peter Todd noted that:

It’s fashionable to criticise all blockchain stuff when applied to centralized systems as nonsense, because most of the solutions peddled have been nonsense. But the truth is somewhere in between.

Which means there may be some middle ground. But perhaps the main takeaway is this:

That the Federal Reserve wants nothing to do with a national cryptocurrency should be about as surprising as the Vatican failing to embrace gay marriage or abortion. Or if you want a further comparison, asking Jamie Dimon about bitcoin is like asking a taxi driver about Uber.

It’s still a young technology, and we’ve got a long way to go. So for now, it’s really no shocker that the old institutions aren’t diving in to expose their ills and remove their controls.

Do you agree with the Fed’s position on national cryptocurrencies? Share below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Pro 26

Perfect Storm: Bitcoin Didn’t Exist in the Last Financial Crisis

Bitcoin has been quietly preparing for over a decade for the next market storm as a non-political alternative to the money printing pyramid.


Bitcoin Separates Money and State

Bitcoin was forged by the last great financial crisis of 2008 and designed to thrive in financial turmoil.

“Bitcoin adoption has always been driven by bank failures, bailouts, bail-ins, and political unrest,” said Max Keiser in an interview with Bitcoinist earlier this month.

It’s certainly no coincidence that Satoshi Nakamoto left a message in the first ever mined Bitcoin block —known as the genesis block. It famously contains the dated title of an FT article:

The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.

The anonymous creator hints that Bitcoin is a non-political alternative to the existing financial system. The Bitcoin whitepaper could, in fact, be interpreted by some as a declaration of the separation of money and state. 

Bitcoin was an inevitability  a solution to downfalls of the trust-based monetary system — in which central banks and governments have historically abused that trust at the expense of the public.

For almost fifty years now, the de facto global currency has essentially been running on ‘full faith and credit’ only. The problem is that when this faith is tested by the markets (i.e. reality), credit-fuelled bubbles are exposed. When they go pop, liquidity dries up and cash once again becomes king.

Bitcoin: Trust Buster

So it’s no surprise that cash injections — euphemistically known as QE (Quantative Easing) — have become the preferred drug prescribed by central banks to fuel the longest bull market in history. 

At the same time, the demand for the US dollar hasn’t waned but actually risen. This phenomenon may have impacted the price of bitcoin 00 this year, according to Keiser.

“The problem Bitcoin has had recently is its competitor, the US Dollar, has been rising,” he explains.

When the dollar rolls over and starts dropping, Bitcoin will hit new ATH.

Meanwhile, critics say it’s too volatile to be a safe haven alternative. Its price has admittedly dropped by 85 percent from its all-time high in 2017. But proponents, like Max Keiser and many others, argue that short-term price fluctuations do not matter if the legacy fiat monetary system is inherently flawed.

They also note that savvy investors are realizing the long-term value proposition of holding the world’s most politically-neutral, hard form of money.

Simply put, trusting no one pays off for those who wait.

Bitcoin Transfers Value From the Sodler to the Hodler

Saifedean Ammous, economist and author of the Bitcoin Standard, states that Bitcoin’s attributes, particularly immutability and neutrality, make it attractive to investors with a long-time preference.

saifedean

Saifedean Ammous

He explained:

Bitcoin has already gone through 9 years of growth out in the wilds of the internet, mostly without a central planner in charge of it after its creator disappeared. It grew because it offered utility to enough users and developers to keep maintaining it.

It has weathered attacks and hacks and ‘community conflict’ and plenty of powerful interests and questionable characters trying to bend it to their will. After all of this, Bitcoin can indeed claim to be immutable. Once it became clear Bitcoin was successful at doing this, then anyone who was interested in an immutable digital hard money could use it.”

Coinbase President Asiff Hirji, whose San Francisco-based exchange launched a custodial platform for institutional investors earlier this year, also sees Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies rewarding the patient in the future.

According to Hirji, none of Coinbase’s investors speculated on BTC price when they valued the exchange at $8 billion earlier this year. They weren’t betting on what the price will be “today, tomorrow or even a year from now,” he said 

“If that’s your time horizon, as an institutional investor, you shouldn’t be touching this,” adds Hirji.

Fragile Fiat

From a security standpoint, centralized money systems are also honeypots. Centralized infrastructure is prone to hacks and shut down compared to a much more robust decentralized network like Bitcoin, which has been operating 24/7 with 99.8 percent uptime.

What’s more, third-parties aren’t just security holes. They are also structurally political. A duopoly such as Visa and Mastercard, for example, can (and do) restrict access for their own reasons, and even have the power to push other companies to toe the line.

bakkt earnings season Wall Street's Old Guard Has A Double Standard When It Comes To Bitcoin

The next global financial crisis is baked into the fiat cake. It’s a matter of not if, but when.

Will Bitcoin be ready? Only time will tell. But with warning signs already surfacing such as global social unrest and the markets tanking, the test may come sooner rather than later. 

Do you consider Bitcoin the perfect long-term investment? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock

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Pro 25

Japanese Yen Set to Surpass US Dollar in Bitcoin Trading

The U.S. Dollar (USD) and the Japanese Yen (JPY) are the two most dominant national currencies used in Bitcoin/fiat trading. But while the USD has always dominated the market, it appears BTC/JPY may now be on the verge of overtaking the dollar.


Most Bitcoin/Fiat Trades Denominated in USD or JPY

The USD is in many ways the de facto global currency for business and trade. It is the most popular currency in the forex market, and as such, it is no surprise to find that BTC/USD 00 is one of the most commonly used trading pairs.

According to the cryptocurrency market indexing platform Coinhills, BTC/USD accounted for more than 48 percent of all Bitcoin/fiat trades over the last 24 hours. JPY comes as a close second with more than 47.23 percent of all such transactions within the same time frame.

Japan Needs to Have Stricter Exchange Regulations According to Monex

Together, both account for 95.87 percent making them by far the most popular fiat currencies used in BTC trading. The popularity of the BTC/USD pair isn’t exactly surprising given that Tether (USDT), the most popular stablecoin in the market is pegged to the USD.

Based on Coinhills’ data, JPY is becoming a firm favorite for Bitcoin traders. Back in November, Bitcoinst reported on a study by Cryptocompare that showed a 50 percent dominance for USD in the BTC/fiat market. At the time, JPY accounted for only 21 percent. Though it is important to note that Coinhills’ data covers only 24 hours. The research by CryptoCompare was for the whole of November 2018.

Meanwhile, Bitcoinist reported last week that Asian markets tend to have a bigger impact on BTC price than the US and Europe, according to cryptocurrency research firm Mosaic. If the trend holds, Japan, in particular, could give the USD a run for its money when it comes to fiat trading pairs. The land of the rising sun is known for its crypto-friendly laws and embracing BTC commerce with major retailers accepting bitcoin both at brick and mortar stores and online.

BTC/KRW Surprisingly at Two Percent

Leading the rest of the minor currencies is the Korean Won (KRW), which accounts for two percent. Data from the CryptoCompare study put the BTC/KRW trading pair at 16 percent of the Bitcoin/fiat market.

The figures from Coinhills might indicate a cooling off of trading activity in the Korean market. Between October and November 2018, BTC trading to KRW dominated the fiat spot trading for the top-ranked cryptocurrency. Sometimes, the BTC/KRW pair accounted for about half of all daily Bitcoin fiat spot trading.

Other lesser traded fiats include the Euro (EUR), the Polish Złoty (PLN) and the Russian Ruble (RUB). These account for 1.35 percent, 0.15 percent, and 0.11 percent, respectively. Outside of the Americas, Europe, and Asia, the most popular BTC/fiat pairs are the South African Rand (ZAR – 0.03 percent) and the Australian Dollar (AUD – 0.03 percent).

Do you think the Japanese Yen can upstage the U.S. Dollar as the dominant BTC/fiat trading pair? Share below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and CryptoCompare

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Pro 24

Bitmain Fires Entire Bitcoin Cash Development Team: Report

Things appear to be far from well with Bitcoin Mining firm Bitmain as several reports indicate another round of employee layoffs at the firm. This news follows reports that the company’s IPO is also dead in the water after rumors of Q3 losses running into over $700 million.


Bitmain on Firing Spree

According to Blockstream CSO, Samson Mow, there are rumors swirling that the mining giant laid off its entire Copernicus team. Mow cited posts from Chinese LinkedIn published by company employees. The Copernicus team was responsible for developing the Bitcoin Cash GO client for Bitmain.

In another report, other messages indicate a far more extensive labor cutback, which could target up to half of Bitmain’s entire workforce. Earlier in the month, Bitcoinist reported that the company closed down its research division in Israel. More than 20 employees lost their jobs after the move.

BCH Blues

Bitmain bet on Bitcoin Cash 00, a move that now appears to have backfired leading to severe losses for the company. Rumors of massive Q3 2018 losses are also casting huge doubts over the company financials and will likely stonewall its IPO plans.

The second half of 2018 has turned out to be a challenging one for the company. From the massive fall in BCH prices to the Bitcoin Cash hash wars, Bitmain’s bitcoin mining industry monopoly could be in jeopardy.

Recently, US IT firm UnitedCorp sued Bitmain along with Kraken, Bitcoin.com, and Roger Ver for allegedly manipulating the BCH network.

Tis the Season of Layoffs

Bitmain is only the latest in a series of mass layoffs in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology industry. Earlier this month, Consensys fired 100 of its employees (about 10 percent of its entire staff strength) as Ethereum price 00 plummeted from an all-time high of $1,400 in January to as low as $83 in early December. Reports even indicate that the company isn’t through with its downsizing.

Others like Steemit and Ethereum mobile dApp maker Status have also significantly reduced their workforce in the past months. For many of these startups, the reason for their downsizing is directly tied to the dramatic fall in cryptocurrency prices with many experiencing drop of over 90 percent.

Oddly enough, despite the increasing layoffs, the latest figures show that talent is still very much in demand in the space. A recent Glassdoor survey found that job openings in the cryptocurrency industry are at an 18-month high.

What do you think the situation at Bitmain reveals about the state of similar companies in the cryptocurrency scene at the moment? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Twitter (@DoveyWan and @Excellion), Shutterstock

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Pro 23

Bitcoin Price to $17K in 2020, Says ‘Unorthodox’ Mining Difficulty Prediction

An ‘unorthodox prediction’ of mining difficulty increases puts the bitcoin price somewhere around $17,000 in 2020 — due to the possible power law relationship between the two.


Bitcoin price and difficulty ‘power law relationship’

Twitter user @100trillionUSD is back again with another intriguing chart — this time plotting the relationship between BTC price 00 and expected bitcoin mining difficulty in the coming years.

The previous graph visualized the relationship between the bitcoin mining reward halving and its impact on price over time, plotting the months before the halving event took place. This time the focus was on mining difficulty and price, since many analysts consider it to be inextricably linked to network hash rate.

 “Price follows hashrate,” said Max Keiser earlier this year. Adding that it’s been his “mantra” since bitcoin was at $3.

Mining is undoubtedly profitable when the hash rate is rising. It also means miners are confident in the future of Bitcoin if they are adding hardware to scale up their operations. However, a high hash rate also causes the Bitcoin mining difficulty to increase. This makes the mining process more resource-intensive as more hash power is needed to achieve the same results as at lower difficulty levels.

If the hash rate is too high relative to the price at which miners can sell their mined bitcoin (as we’ve seen this year), the most unprofitable miners will likely drop out. They may sell their equipment or simply turn off their rigs until the price recovers or it becomes easier to mine as difficulty adjusts. 

“Based on the poll results on bitcoin difficulty and the possible power law relationship between bitcoin price and difficulty (see formula below), an unorthodox prediction of the 2020 bitcoin price would be: $17,317,” explains 100trillionUSD.

Overall, 85 percent of respondents believe the difficulty will increase 10-100 times in the next two years. Meanwhile, only 10 percent think this is the beginning of the end for Bitcoin mining frequently referred to as the ‘death spiral’ (more about this later).

The biggest share of respondents (59 percent) expects the difficulty to rise 10x between today and the end of 2020. A smaller group (27 percent), however, believe the increase could be as high as 100X, which would translate into a price above $28,000.

Granted, the poll sample size was rather small with just over 250 votes. Nevertheless, mining difficulty is an important factor to consider for not only predicting BTC price but also evaluating the state of the network as a whole.

Difficulty Drops But No ‘Death Spiral’

Bitcoinist recently reported that the Bitcoin network mining difficulty just had another downward adjustment to lower price. The biggest in seven years, in fact, amid a year-long bear market that saw an 85 percent drop in market capitalization from its all-time high in late 2017.

But contrary to many ‘experts’ equating a break in the trend to the start of a mining ‘death spiral,’ the difficulty adjustment is an important counterbalance for the Bitcoin network. In other words, the adjusting difficulty (every 2016 blocks) relative to hash rate is a feature that enables the Bitcoin network to find the equilibrium for mining profitability.

What’s more, this is similar to what central banks do by raising and lowering interest rates with changing market conditions. However, in Bitcoin’s case, the adjustment is entirely baked into the code and thus, entirely predictable. 

Is mining difficulty a good metric to consider when predicting price? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, blockchain.info, @100trillionUSD.

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Pro 22

US Congressmen Introduce Bill To Exempt Crypto From Securities Law

A couple of Congressmen in the United States are trying to get an exemption for cryptocurrencies from securities law. If successful, it could signal a paradigm shift in the US regulatory climate as far as virtual currencies are concerned.


Crypto May Be Exempt From Securities Law

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Florida) introduced a bill on Thursday (December 20, 2018) called the “Token Taxonomy Act.” The bill seeks to exempt cryptocurrencies from being classified as securities. If passed, US securities law will no longer apply to virtual currency tokens once their projects become fully functioning networks.

The current securities law framework applied by the SEC to virtual assets comes from the Securities Act of 1933. A US Supreme Court ruling from 1946 introduced the “Howey Test” as a baseline set of rules to determine whether an asset is a security.

Based on the Howey Test, transactions that can be classified as investment contracts are securities. Based on this definition, many ICO tokens, according to the SEC are securities. This is because individuals invest in these ICOs (common enterprises) in the expectation of profit from the efforts of the project team or third party.

However, the sponsors of the new bill argue that the 70-year old Securities Act is inadequate to regulate a market as nuanced as cryptocurrencies. This position is one shared by many stakeholders in the industry. Expressing similar sentiments, Kristin Smith, the Blockchain Association chief said:

These decentralized networks don’t fit neatly within the existing regulatory structure. This is a step forward in finding the right way to regulate them.

Cryptocurrency-Specific Regulations

For the sponsors of the bill, their efforts are reminiscent of the steps taken during the early days of the internet. Commenting on this, Rep. Davidson, said:

In the early days of the internet, Congress passed legislation that provided certainty and resisted the temptation to over-regulate the market. Our intent is to achieve a similar win for America’s economy and for American leadership in this innovative space.

For people like internet security expert and cryptocurrency enthusiast, John McAfee, the SEC has no right to regulate cryptocurrencies in the first place. McAfee hasn’t hidden his disdain for the Commission’s “encroachment” into the market with many strongly-worded posts on Twitter.

The current efforts by the lawmakers if successful might initiate the emergence of cryptocurrency-specific regulations in the US. Agencies like the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) or Federal Trade Commission might now have oversight over the industry.

Will the token taxonomy act help the US in catching up with the developments in the Asian cryptocurrency market? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Twitter (@MatiGreenspan and @officialmcafee).

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Pro 21

Bakkt Bitcoin-Settled Futures Set To Be Approved in Early 2019

Bakkt, a platform for the first-ever Bitcoin-settled futures contract, is expected to be approved by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), according to the Wall Street Journal.


CFTC Approval Imminent

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bakkt will soon receive a regulatory green light from the CFTC for its Bitcoin futures contract. The WSJ notes:

The first futures contract that will pay out in cryptocurrency rather than cash is expected to soon get regulatory approval.

Bakkt, owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc., will be the first to offer a BTC-settled futures product.

The Chairman Of The CFTC Might Just Have Brought The Bitcoin Crash To An End

Both Bakkt and the CFTC have been working together to iron out crucial issues relating to the futures contract. CFTC is also reportedly examining Bakkt’s business plan to determine whether they comply with its regulations.

Another major point of concern has to do with cybersecurity infrastructure. Cryptocurrencies are a target of hackers and other cybercriminals. The CFTC is looking at Bakkt’s security framework and the modalities in place to recover from a possible cyberattack.

Previously, Bakkt had to postpone the launch of BTC futures contracts to 2019 to give more room for proper customer onboarding and warehousing for the product.

In a press released issued by ICE back in November, the company announced that Bakkt would begin trading BTC futures on January 24, 2019. According to available reports, the CFTC will likely vote on the matter in early 2019.

Focus on Price Discovery

For Bakkt, the mechanism of price discovery is a critical issue given that its contract will be BTC-settled and not cash-settled like the ones offered by the CME and the CBOE.

Back in 2017, the appeal of the futures contract provided by the latter two gave traders the ability to place leveraged bets on BTC price 00 movement without having to buy the cryptocurrency itself.

However, the dynamics of price discovery could improve with Bakkt contracts being settled in actual bitcoin to gauge real demand as opposed to placing USD cash bets on BTC price movement. In August 2018, Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, said:

A critical element to price discovery is physical delivery. Specifically, with our solution, the buying and selling of Bitcoin is fully collateralized or pre-funded. As such, our new daily Bitcoin contract will not be traded on margin, use leverage, or serve to create a paper claim on a real asset.

Apart from Bakkt, Nasdaq has also confirmed that it wants to launch its Bitcoin futures product in 2019 and possibly other altcoins like Ethereum thereafter.

Will Bakkt Bitcoin futures get approved and make Bitcoin price discovery more accurate? Share your thoughts below!


Image courtesy of Twitter (@Bakkt), Shutterstock

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