Lis 18

Switzerland Approves First Bitcoin-Cryptocurrency ETF with Ticker $HODL

The Bitcoin ETF $HODL, offered by Amun Crypto, will begin trading on Switzerland’s Six Swiss Exchange beginning next week. The ETF’s earnings will be linked to five different cryptocurrencies.


The ETF is being offered by Amun Crypto, a U.K. based fintech company. It will begin trading on Six Swiss Exchange next week. Six is Switzerland’s chief stock exchange, as well as the fourth largest in Europe.

According to the Financial Times, the ETF “[…] has been designed to track an index based on the movements of five leading cryptocurrencies.”

Roughly half (48%) of the ETF’s assets will be invested in Bitcoin (BTC) 00. The rest will be put towards bitcoin cash, XRP (30%), ethereum, and litecoin.

New Kid On the Block

Financial Times‘ writer Matt Flood notes that the ETF has been crafted in close accordance with the standards expected from traditional exchange-traded funds. This is according Hany Rashwan, Amun’s top executive.

Rashwan describes the aims of the ETF:

The Amun ETP will give institutional investors that are restricted to investing only in securities or do not want to set up custody for digital assets exposure to cryptocurrencies. It will also provide access for retail investors that currently have no access to crypto exchanges due to local regulatory impediments

The Times reports that while competitors like CoinShares and Grayscale exist, they differ in legal form, whilst only being linked to one cryptocurrency. Seeding for the ETF will be fostered by Jane Street and Flow Traders, and it will trade using the ticker $HODL.

The Financial Times highlights the ETF’s arrival amid the lowest drop in BTC price 00 in over a year. The ETF is has been particularly the source of much hype in the cryptocurrency space. An exchange-traded fund product is expected to facilitate institutional buying of bitcoin.

Switzerland seems to be perpetually fixed in the crypto news cycle whether its happenings in Crypto Valley or the present ETF. Progress seems to abound.

In October, Bitcoinist reported on Crypto AG’s recently-granted cryptocurrency asset management license. A month earlier, Bitcoinist also wrote on Switzerland’s status as a top global Bitcoin destination.

What are your thoughts on the Bitcoin ETF $HODL? Share your thoughts below!


Images and media courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter (@boscryptocnn, @MANT121266), YouTube (ThinkCrypto).

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Lis 11

Bitcoin ATMs Have Spread to 4,000 Locations Globally

Numerous signs of maturity can be noted across the cryptocurrency industry. A growing number of Bitcoin ATMs is making their mark on the world. This month, the number is expected to surpass the 4,000 milestone.


Another Milestone for Bitcoin ATMs

Making cryptocurrency more accessible remains a key priority. Bitcoin ATMs have their role to play in this regard. These machines make it easier to buy bitcoin and altcoins with fiat currencies. Nearly 4,000 of these devices can be accessed on a global scale.

It is a low number compared to bank ATMs, but more devices are brought online every single day. Currently over 6 Bitcoin ATMs come online every single day.

Bitcoin ATMs Spring up Across Utah... ish

In May, Bitcoinist reported on the 3,000 location milestone for Bitcoin ATMs worldwide.

North America is the place to be for accessing Bitcoin ATMs. The continent controls 71.3% of the market at this time. Europe is the somewhat surprising second entrant on the list. Nearly one in four devices can be found in top European cities. Asia, while quite prominent in cryptocurrency trading, only houses 2.56% of all Bitcoin ATMs. Oceania, South America, and Africa are even further down the rankings.

One peculiar trend is how operators are not just focusing on Bitcoin. Over six in ten machines support altcoins in various degrees. Litecoin is the most popular altcoin offering, followed by Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash. Support for Dash, Monero, Dogecoin, and ZCash also appears to be on the rise. Additionally, nearly four in ten Bitcoin ATMs let users both buy and sell cryptocurrency.

Manufacturer Competition Heats up

In the early days of the Bitcoin ATM industry, Lamassu was the most prominent company. That situation has changed over time. Its current market share sits at 10.96%, making it the third-most common manufacturer. Genesis Coin currently maintains a small lead over General Bytes.

Further down the list, names such as BitAccess, Coinsource, Covault, and OrderbobATM are also trying to increase their market position. New producers have also come to market over the years. BitxATM, CoinOutlet, Bitnovo, and DOBI ATM are just some of the up-and-coming manufacturers. This level of competition is another sign of Bitcoin’s maturity. Increasing exposure for cryptocurrency will be a vital aspect of reaching mainstream adoption.

One aspect of Bitcoin ATM services which needs to be improved upon is transaction fees. Buying cryptocurrency remains subject to an average fee of 8.85%. Selling cryptocurrency is slightly cheaper, at a cost of 7.9%. Compared to using normal exchanges, these costs are quite steep. At the same time, the level of convenience is very different. More convenience usually leads to higher premium fees in the financial industry.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, coinatmradar.com

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Lis 09

Bitcoin to $250K by 2023 Prediction is ‘Absolutely Solid,’ Says Tim Draper

Serial cryptocurrency investor and billionaire Tim Draper has said his Bitcoin price prediction of $250,000 by 2022 is “absolutely solid.”


Draper: Destination Clear, Path Uncertain

Speaking during the giant Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon which ended November 8, Draper, who is well known for his optimistic outlook on Bitcoin, in particular, doubled down on his price forecast few others have dared rival.

“I have a pretty good sense of what’s going on four, five, six ten years from now because that’s my business – to meet with young entrepreneurs who are putting a future into my mind,” he told a panel which also featured Blockchain CEO Peter Smith and Managing Capital co-founder Garry Tan.

…My prediction for $250,000 by 2022 – maybe 2023 but in that range – is absolutely solid, but I’m not so sure how we’re going to get there[.]

Cryptocurrency became an increasingly focal topic at this year’s Summit, which with almost 70,000 attendees constitutes the largest such conference in Europe.

Smith’s Blockchain, announcing a partnership with payment network Stellar at the event, has begun giving away $125 million in the latter’s Lumen tokens in a bid to increase awareness and adoption of cryptoassets.

‘Just Go Do It’

While touching on different aspects of how the industry should grow in future, both Smith and Draper agreed on the need to continue placing financial sovereignty in users’ hands.

“Why we aren’t all… creating Bitcoin, putting together a wallet – just go do it so you get the feel for it because it’s so much better than what we have today,” Draper told the audience.

All three panelists, with varying degrees of reluctance, meanwhile agreed that BTC/USD 00 should trade higher this time next year, Smith additionally confirming he was still accumulating bitcoin.

Anticipation of an end to what Tan among many others referred to as the “crypto winter” continues to run high across the community, with markets yet to provide hints of an imminent end to bear market conditions.

Tan added he was uncertain whether the ‘winter’ would be over by the end of 2019.

What do you think about Tim Draper’s price prediction reiteration? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Lis 01

Bithumb Launching US Securities Exchange with SeriesOne Partnership

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has joined the league of exchanges diversifying their international offerings by setting up a US securities trading platform. 


Preempting ‘Global’ Blockchain Asset Tokenization

Through a partnership with blockchain fundraising platform SeriesOne, Bithumb seeks to speed up its growth into a “global financial firm” by cornering the securities token market, local South Korean media outlet Yonhap News Agency reported Nov 1.

The announcement comes days after US exchanges Bittrex and Coinbase announced they were preparing to launch international versions of their exchanges catering to non-US residents in a bid to bypass the country’s complex regulations.

“SeriesOne actively sought to strike a deal with Bithumb after assessing it as the most suitable partner,” Yonhap quotes an unnamed Bithumb official as saying.

Bithumb will ramp up efforts to develop into a global financial firm as the blockchain-based asset tokenization is expected to spread globally down the road.

Bithumb

Platform To Launch By Q3 2019

The partnership will leverage SeriesOne’s license to operate as an environment for trading cryptocurrency tokens deemed to be securities by US regulators. The joint platform, Yonhap says quoting anonymous “sources,” should debut “during the first half of next year.”

In a tit-for-tat move, SeriesOne has already expanded into the South Korean market, where it also plans to trade securities.

The country continues to modify its stance on the cryptocurrency industry, authorities nonetheless opting not to end the country’s fourteen-month-old ban on ICOs.

“Although many people call for the government to allow initial coin offerings, there are still uncertainties related to such a move as well as the possibility of serious fallouts,” Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Choi Jong-ku said during a parliamentary meeting earlier in October.

At the same time, Bithumb saw a change of ownership place it in the hands of Singapore investor BK Consortium, which purchased the exchange for $353 million.

What do you think about Bithumb’s US exchange? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Říj 31

Why Did Bitmain’s Antpool ‘Stop Mining’ SegWit Blocks?

Antpool, the Bitcoin mining pool owned by hardware manufacturer Bitmain, has stopped mining Segregated Witness (‘SegWit’) blocks.


A Question Of ‘Charity’?

In a move which has sparked suspicion among cryptocurrency figures, data from the past seven days of block mining shows Bitmain mining blocks of under 1 megabyte – smaller than SegWit blocks mined by other pools.

“AntPool no longer includes SegWit txs in Bitcoin (BTC) blocks,” one Twitter account confirmed October 30.

If there are enough non-SW transactions to fill up Core’s 1MB base blocks and they pay higher fees than the SW transactions, why should (it) be charitable?

The curious statistics contrast with Bitmain’s desire to increase the Bitcoin block size limit as an alternative to the off-chain scaling options favored by SegWit proponents.

The apparent conflict was not lost on the industry, the research team of Hong Kong-based trading platform BitMEX also highlighting the sub-megabyte blocks on Twitter.

“Despite Bitmain’s strong support for larger blocks, Antpool has recently been producing smaller blocks (below 1MB), while other pools produce larger blocks,” staff commented.

Worst Of Both Worlds

Reactions to BitMEX included claims Bitmain, through excluding SegWit, could continue to use the highly-controversial Covert ASICBoost mining technique it had previously claimed was “not practical.”

Last month, the company began rolling out Overt ASICBoost for its Antminer hardware family, a move which similarly drew suspicion from commentators.

Bitmain 135 Watt Data Center

In a further nuance meanwhile, Blockstream’s Warren Togami noted that despite non-SegWit blocks ostensibly having a higher fee attached, the blocks Antpool had chosen to mine in fact contained less in fees than the SegWit blocks it was avoiding.

Bitmain continues to hold a monopoly on Bitcoin mining through control of Antpool and BTC.com, the latter regularly mining the most blocks on a given day.

The proportion of transactions using SegWit had continued to climb in recent months, reaching an all-time high of 48 percent in early October before dropping.

What do you think about Antpool’s mining behavior? Let us know in the comments below!


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Říj 29

UK Fintech Industry Slams Govt’s ‘Blunt Instrument Approach’ To Cryptocurrency

The UK could compromise its fintech sector with “very blunt instrument” regulation currently under consideration, a new report from several industry entities warns.


‘Ashamedly Geared Around Bitcoin’

As local news outlet the Telegraph reports October 29, the report criticizes plans to award more power to regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and says treating all cryptoassets in the same way as Bitcoin was counterproductive.

“Bad regulation is worse than no regulation at all,” the Telegraph quotes it as reading, adding that the extant proposals are “ashamedly geared around Bitcoin.”

Politicians had lobbied for wider FCA jurisdiction in September, six months after the regulator had launched a dedicated “task force” with the remit of formalizing the domestic space.

Far from increasing security and consumer protection, however, one of the report’s authors argues a laissez-faire attitude would be considerably more beneficial for a sector which is only just beginning to mature.

“It is a very blunt instrument approach and I haven’t seen this in other countries,” Patrick Curry, chief executive of the British Business Federation Authority (BBFA) commented about the plans.

The use of this technology is still a voyage of discovery and these technologies are being refined for different types of use. My concern is the law of unintended consequences.

Overreaching?

The government had pledged to make London a home for fintech in the coming years, sounding out concerns that Brexit would make the city an unattractive place for innovative newcomers.

Blockchain Expo - Crypto La La land

At the same time, the Bank of England has said it is open to the concept of a self-issued national digital currency while also claiming that cryptocurrency poses “reputational risks.”

“Crypto-assets also raise concerns related to misconduct and market integrity,” Deputy Governor Sam Woods wrote in June.

Many appear vulnerable to fraud and manipulation, as well as money-laundering and terrorist financing risks.

What do you think about the UK’s cryptocurrency regulation plans? Let us know in the comments below!


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Říj 26

Litecoin Core 0.17 Will ‘Beat Bitcoin Cash’ On Cost And Speed

Litecoin’s (LTC) forthcoming client release will make it “faster” and “cheaper” than Bitcoin Cash (BCH), according to one analyst as developers confirm transaction fees will reduce 90 percent.


10X Fee Decrease Puts LTC In Front

Litecoin Core 0.17, which the Litecoin Foundation said was “upcoming” in a blog post on its now-suspended Medium account, will deliver a host of end-user improvements.

Specifically, while LTC 00 currently costs around $0.05 in average fees, after the update this will reduce closer to $0.005.

This, Alternative Assets performance analyst and LearnCrypto.io president Nich Hellmann notes, will end the status quo in which Litecoin is more expensive to use than Bitcoin Cash.

Despite its larger market cap, he continues, BCH 00 is slower and has a more “contentious” community.

“Currently because the blocks aren’t full there is no need to pay higher fees, which is one reason why the move is being taken,” developers wrote explaining the updates.

Togami: BCH Attack ‘Not Hypothetical’

LTC markets have so far not reacted to the update, trading behavior broadly falling in the line other major altcoin assets this week.

Cryptocurrency users suspicious of BCH’s development and marketing practices will no doubt have doubled down on their perspective after data this week showed its network is in a precarious position.

Updating his ongoing tracking of BCH, Blockstream VP solutions head Warren Togami noted the network’s 30-day average hashrate had fallen below 7 percent of Bitcoin’s.

This, he warned “matters (because) of the risk of exchange insolvency from double-spend theft.”

The hashrate proportion had dipped below 8 percent at the start of September, Bitcoinist reporting on Togami’s preexisting concerns about network security.

At the time, he compared the state of the network to an LTC hard fork from 2013, which imploded due to a 51 percent attack months afterwards.

Now, he says, the danger of BCH following suit is “not hypothetical.”

What do you think about Litecoin’s coming update? Let us know in the comments below!


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Říj 25

Australia Post Delivers ‘Buy Bitcoin’ Service to Its 11.7 Million Customers

One of Australia’s oldest institutions, Australia Post, has announced that customers will now be able to buy bitcoin on participating exchanges within minutes through its Digital iD service.


Australia Post Delivers Bitcoin

Now Australians will be able to buy bitcoin through their post office. Australia Post lets users sign up to local Bitcoin exchanges through its Digital iD service, which eliminates the need to take selfies and verify documents.

Think ‘Log in with Facebook or LinkedIn’ button, but for buying BTC 00.

Brisbane-based Bitcoin exchange, Digital Surge, for example, is among the first adopters of the Digital iD platform, local news outlet Micky reports.

Director of Digital Surge, Josh Lehman, says the new service helps speed up the registration process that could discourage many potential users.

“Digital iD allows us to verify the identity of a prospective Bitcoin buyer in minutes,
instead of the days it takes other exchanges,” Mr Lehman explained.

For the first time, an Australian can log on to a computer, punch in their driver’s licence or
passport details, and be buying Bitcoin within minutes.

Digital iD also works with Australian companies Coinjar and Coin Loft, and could boost confidence for potential investors, who were previously reluctant to submit personal data to questionable online services.

Digital Identity Service Struggles

Australia Post has struggled with its Digital iD program, however, with budget hand staff cuts amid controversy and a potential conflict of interest with another government digital ID program, according to local news portal Innovationaus. In addition, an attempt to gauge the possibility of private sector funding has also been “halted.” 

The Digital iD project was rolled out earlier this year after development began in 2016 with 13 participating organizations, a number which has now grown to over 40, including Queensland Police, CUA, and Airtasker.

The process is simple. Customers submit their national ID such as a driver license or passport once, and then only use a smartphone app and QR codes instead. But ultimately, Australia Post’s Digital iD service does store all of this personal information and (purportedly) lets users share only the bits of data that are required for verification on participating platforms. 

“Digital iD gives people more control over the personal data they share with organizations,” General Manager of Australia Post’s Digital iD, Cameron Gough, says. 

Australia Could be an ICO Hub

A Privacy for Usability Tradeoff

Using this new way to buy bitcoin in Australia may indeed become the easiest method currently available. At the same time, there is a tradeoff for people who value privacy.

In June, Bitcoinist reported that the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) announced it will collect Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on cryptocurrency gains. In other words, users should expect to pay capital gains tax since their newly-purchased bitcoin can be easily traced to their digital ID.

Nevertheless, this has not stopped Australians from buying bitcoin as the number of cryptocurrency holders has nearly tripled since the beginning of 2018. Therefore, Australia Post, which services 11.7 million addresses across the country based on the latest data, could attract some new buyers of bitcoin who prefer to trust a government corporation over some off-shore exchange.

Would you use Australia Post to buy bitcoin? Let us know below!


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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!


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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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