Lis 12

Stellar (XLM) Becomes Top-5 Cryptocurrency Pushing Out EOS

Open source cryptocurrency transfer protocol Stellar’s Lumens (XLM) token has entered the top five cryptocurrencies by market cap the week after its $125 million deal with Blockchain.


Stellar Lumens Beat EOS To Top 5

Data from Coinmarketcap confirms the repositioning, which gives XLM a market cap of $5.15 billion and relegates TRON to eleventh place and edging out EOS from the Top-5.

Stellar (XLM) 00 has seen considerable publicity over the past weeks after executives announced a giveaway campaign with wallet provider Blockchain worth $125 million.

Stellar: Headed Towards $1?

As Bitcoinist reported, the campaign was ostensibly designed to draw attention to cryptocurrency more generally among the wider populace, but XLM immediately profited, bucking the general trend to stave off losses taken by other altcoins since.

“We’ve already shared our thoughts on how Blockchain Airdrops are a great way for crypto creators to drive decentralization and adoption for new networks. We think they’re great for crypto users too,” Blockchain CEO Peter Smith wrote in a blog post about the giveaway, which is open to anyone with a Blockchain wallet.

“…We’re starting with Stellar because its network is built for scalability.”

EOS Battles Publicity Crisis

Stellar has instigated mass XLM giveaways before, a blog post of its own describing the feature as “core” to its “vision and strategy.”

“…The network has grown enough for mass distributions to make sense,” executives wrote.

XLM outmaneuvers EOS to enter the crypto top five, the latter facing fresh controversy this week after it emerged agents had the power to reverse transactions which had already confirmed on its network.

Currently causing furor on social media, the case in question involved an EOS account which had been phished and funds moved without the owner’s permission.

Settling the issue, an EOS ‘arbitrator’ took the decision to simply reverse the transactions, leading to criticism of the protocol’s ethics.

In an interview last month meanwhile, CTO Daniel Larimer dismissed the need for decentralized features in EOS, claiming the concept “isn’t what we’re after.”

What do you think about Stellar reaching the top five cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments below!


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Lis 08

EtherDelta Founder Charged with Operating ‘Unregistered Securities Exchange’

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pressed formal charges against Zachary Coburn, the founder of cryptocurrency trading platform EtherDelta, for not registering his company as a national securities exchange.  


Required to Register

According to an official press release, the SEC has taken action against the founder of digital token trading platform EtherDelta, Zachary Coburn.

According to the Commission’s order, EtherDelta constitutes an online platform for secondary market trading of ERC20 tokens — most of which are usually issued through an initial coin offering (ICO). Furthermore, the SEC has found that almost all of the orders which have been placed through the platform have taken place after its 2017 DAO Report. According to it, certain digital assets, DAO tokens included, are considered securities and, hence, their trading is subject to the Commission’s requirement that exchange register or qualify for an exemption.

According to Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of SEC’s enforcement arm, EtherDelta did neither of those, stating:

EtherDelta had both the user interface and underlying functionality of an online national securities exchange and was required to register with the SEC or qualify for an exemption.

Fines and Penalties Already Paid

The release also says that Zachary Coburn has already paid $300,000 in disgorgement, $13,000 in prejudgment interest, as well as a $75,000 penalty.

However, he hasn’t admitted to anything and the investigation is continuing. Still, the SEC recognizes his cooperation, stating that it may have prevented an even greater penalty.

According to Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, existing legislation needs to be followed carefully in order to protect investors in times of “significant innovation.” Noted Peikin:

We are witnessing a time of significant innovation in the securities markets with the use and application of distributed ledger technology. But to protect investors, this innovation necessitates the SEC’s thoughtful oversight of digital markets and enforcement of existing laws.

Do you think the SEC has merit to press charges against EtherDelta? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below! 


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Lis 04

Bitly Blocks 200 Links From Andreas Antonopoulos’ ‘Mastering Ethereum’

Bitly (bit.ly) has come under fire from cryptocurrency circles after the business appeared to block all the links from Andreas Antonopoulos’ new book.


Bitly Silent On Surprise Block

Antonopoulos, who is weeks away from publishing his latest guide, ‘Mastering Ethereum,’ publicly took issue with the URL shortening service and link management platform on social media after a tip-off about it preventing around 200 of the book’s links from opening.

“I’m about to publish my 4th book and it has about 200 http://bit.ly links in it,” he wrote on Twitter November 3.

“If you are going to block links, I will need to remove all 200 and replace them with a competitor[.]”

Bitly has existed since 2008 and currently sees monthly traffic of around 600 million link shortenings.

As of press time, officials had not responded to Antonopoulos’ tweet, and the cause and future status of the block remains unknown.

‘Not Your Shortener, Not Your Link’?

In the absence of an explanation from Bitly, Twitter users were swift to call for a “decentralized” alternative to private link shorteners, identifying them as a bottleneck.

“Don’t rely on bitly or ANY shortener service. They are all a single point of failure,” one response read.

Not your keys, not your bitcoin? Not your shortner (sic), not your link.

The tone echoes recent calls among some cryptocurrency figures to abandon the traditional stalwarts of the online ecosystem, Bitcoinist previously reporting on an increasing distaste for Twitter itself in favor of decentralized open source alternative Mastodon.

Antonopoulos Bitcoinist

The Bitly episode is the latest headache for Antonopoulos on the road to publishing Mastering Ethereum, the celebrated educator previously defending his choice of subject material in the face of fans who appeared confused about a refocusing away from Bitcoin 00 to altcoins.

Mastering Ethereum is due for publication within the next four weeks, Antonopoulos further confirmed.

What do you think about Bitly blocking links from ‘Mastering Ethereum’? Let us know in the comments below!


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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! 


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Říj 23

VanEck Says Bitcoin ETF Concerns ‘Resolved’ at Meeting With SEC

Entities seeking to launch a Bitcoin ETF (exchange-traded fund) met with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) October 23 as one commissioner spelled out the expectations in fresh media comments.


5 Key ‘Issues Resolved’

VanEck, which received a rejection of its ETF application in late August, met with the SEC to discuss its status, producing a supporting document outlining five reasons for approval.

“Issues identified in disapproval order have been resolved,” it states.

 There now exists a significant regulated derivatives market for bitcoin

Relevant markets – Cboe, bitcoin futures, OTC desks – are regulated

Concerns around price manipulation have been mitigated, consistent with approval of prior commodity-based ETPs

Cboe’s rules are designed to surveil for potential manipulation of Trust shares

Promotes investor protection.”

Stein Highlights Points Of Consideration

Speaking to Bloomberg TV Monday meanwhile, SEC Commissioner Kara Stein underscored the uncertainty over whether or not ETFs will soon see regulatory approval.

One the face of it, it may seem like the SEC is poking around and trying to cause issues but in reality, it might be the opposite.

Multiple applications to launch have stalled at the SEC’s door, authorities either rejecting or postponing their decision regarding whether or not investors can legally interact with them.

“They’re going to have to show how they can get accurate valuations… despite sometimes volatile price swings, how they can make sure there’s physical custody when necessary,” Stein told the network.

How they’re going to make sure there’s adequate liquidity, especially in a 40 act fund context so investors can get their money… we’ll look at all those factors and make a decision on that particular fund and how it’s actually going to be able to handle those particular requirements.

2019 Or Sooner?

After the initial round of rejections and delays, attention from cryptocurrency analysts and investors turned to other financial products aimed at institutional investors and their capital.

As Bitcoinist reported, multiple Wall Street heavyweights are planning to release cryptocurrency products in the short term, Intercontinental Exchange this week confirming it would launch its Bakkt platform December 12 – again subject to regulatory approval.

ETFs and their potential to shore up cryptocurrency markets meanwhile remain a talking point more generally, with various predictions surfacing that 2019 will be the make-or-break year for the instrument.

Andreas Antonopoulos, while remaining skeptical on the benefits of an ETF for Bitcoin’s reputation, nonetheless forecast that their market entry was a certainty.

“…There’s enormous market appetite and very little technical knowledge, so institutional investors simply can’t at the moment hold Bitcoin directly.” he said in July.

Stein declined to speculate on possible timeframes for an ETF approval to come from the SEC.

Does the VanEck/SolidX Bitcoin ETF now habe a higher chance of approval? 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!


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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!


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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.


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Říj 09

Ether September Price Lows Could Signal End of Bitcoin Bear Market: Analyst

Ether (ETH) prices “capitulating” in September was “significant” to ending the 2018 cryptocurrency bear market, according to a new theory from one cryptocurrency analyst. 


Thies: ‘We Were Looking In The Wrong Place’

In a series of tweets, UTR Equity’s crypto market commentator Eric Thies postulated that Bitcoin’s run to all-time price highs in December 2017 came as a result of Ether investment during the ICO phenomenon.

When interest slowed, so too did prices begin to freefall — Bitcoin reaching lows below $5900 in February this year and Ether below $170 in September.

“(Bitcoin’s) run in the end of 2017 was fueled by a MASSIVE ICO (ERC20) bubble and therefore indirectly fueled via ETH. Meaning that ETH capitulating in early Sept was significant to ending the bear market,” he wrote, noting the concept was a “theory.”

“We were all looking in the wrong place, expecting (Bitcoin) to do it.”

The ‘When Moon?’ Question

Commentators across the cryptocurrency industry and beyond have long sought a narrative to accompany the continued ‘slow bleed’ performance of most assets this year.

As Bitcoinist reported, talk of institutional investors entering to prop up prices continues to contrast with technical analyses suggesting price declines have not yet finished.

While most sources agree that a decisive U-turn cannot be far off, disagreements remain as to the real impact of institutional money or other factors on the industry, should these appear in the short term.

BTC

For Thies meanwhile, funds flowing in via exchanges, stablecoin Tether (USDT)’s token issuance, and other factors support the bear market culmination.

“…Capitulation really may have been $12k-$6k in early Feb, and everything thereafter has been the ecosystem stabilizing itself after a MASSIVE run up,” he concluded about Bitcoin’s performance.

Bitcoin prices have experienced several months of broad stability, at press time falling within 4 percent of values against the USD seen on the same date in July, August and September. 

What do you think about Eric Thies’ market theory? Let us know in the comments below! 


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