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Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Bitcoin is “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper,” during an interview on the advisory services firm ARK Invest’s podcast.
Technology entrepreneur and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Bitcoin’s (BTC) structure is “quite brilliant” and that digital currency is “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper.” Musk made his remarks during an interview on advisory services firm ARK Invest’s podcast on Feb. 19.
In response to a question about whether Bitcoin becomes the only native cryptocurrency of the Internet, Musk said that “the Bitcoin structure was quite brilliant,” and that he thinks that “one of the downsides of crypto is that computationally it is quite energy intensive. So there have to be some kind of constraints on the creation of crypto. But it's very energy intensive to create the incremental Bitcoin at this point.”
On this note, Musk stressed that “it would not be a good use of Tesla resources to get involved in crypto. We’re just really trying to accelerate the advance of sustainable energy.”
Musk continued saying that cryptocurrency “bypasses currency controls [...] paper money is going away, and crypto is a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper, that's for sure."
Previously, major industry players also argued that Bitcoin occupies a unique place as a store of value or “digital gold.” Mike Novogratz, a former Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, said that “Bitcoin is going to be digital gold, a place where you have sovereign money, it’s not U.S. money, it’s not Chinese money, it’s sovereign. Sovereignty costs a lot, it should.”
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey — who is well known for his conviction that Bitcoin will become the “native currency of the Internet” — said earlier this month that “[Bitcoin] feels it’s the one that wants to be currency the most, versus others that are doing more general purpose things or distributed computing [...] I think [the altcoin space] has generated some really amazing ideas, but I’m focused on currency and the transactional aspect.”
A Nova Scotia supreme court justice has chosen the legal representatives for clients of Canada’s major crypto exchange QuadrigaCX.
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has ordered Canadian law firms Miller Thomson and Cox & Palmer to represent customers of cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX in upcoming proceedings. The ruling was announced in a court filing published on Feb. 19.
On Tuesday, Justice Michael Wood rendered a decision that Miller Thomson and Cox & Palmer will act as lead counsel to represent the representative committee of users of Canada’s major cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga.
Specifically, the representative counsel will be responsible for “managing communications with users; acting as user liaison for the monitor [Ernst & Young]; advocating for user interests before the court; identify[ing] potential conflicting interest amongst users; and advocating for user privacy.”
In the filing, Wood says that the proceedings should concentrate on efficiency and cost effectiveness, and that the counsel should not have open-ended retainers and undertake inquiries where they can exact fees from the exchange’s assets. The filing further explains:
“Representative counsel can make the proceeding more efficient and cost effective for all parties by providing a clear mechanism for communicating with the stakeholders and avoiding a multiplicity of potentially conflicting retainers.”
While the next hearing is scheduled on March 5, 2019, Justice Wood stated in the filing that he “expect[s] that representative counsel, the Monitor and the Applicants should be able to come to an agreement on most, if not all, of the terms of the order which could then be presented to the Court for consideration.”
Wood’s decision follows a hearing on Feb. 14, when the Nova Scotia Supreme Court brought together over “a dozen” lawyers who were vying to represent the 115,000 cryptocurrency traders owed around $260 million ($195 million) by QuadrigaCX.
On Feb. 13, Cointelegraph reported that Ersnt & Young’s recently released report dubbed “First Report of the Monitor” stated that “on February 6, 2019, Quadriga inadvertently transferred 103 bitcoins valued at approximately $468,675 to Quadriga cold wallets.” Quadriga has purportedly been unable to access its cold wallets as its recently deceased found Gerald Cotten was solely responsible for the wallets and corresponding keys.
A new survey reveals that organizations are not ready to implement blockchain tech, although a half of respondents are considering blockchain adoption.
A new study has revealed that, while businesses are considering blockchain adoption, overall they do not feel ready to implement the technology. The survey was conducted by software development firm Globant and published on Feb. 19.
The report says that 64 percent of organizations are intent on investing in blockchain solutions to improve their internal operations, while only 46 percent of respondents feel ready to deploy the technology.
Out of 61 percent of organizations that are already researching blockchain, only 28 percent have chosen a blockchain provider. According to the survey, the majority of decision-makers are still investigating the technology and comparing vendors, and have not yet defined their stance on blockchain tech.
Diego Tartara, CTO Latin America at Globant, said, "Blockchain implementation is different for every organization, so it's imperative for business leaders to have a unified idea of what their integration will look like. The technology as such usually requires a shift in paradigm to adopt it, thus sharing core objectives for the technology is key for a successful blockchain integration."
To prepare the study, the researchers reportedly surveyed 679 senior-level decision makers employed in the fields of marketing, IT and operations in the United States during first quarter of 2018.
Earlier this month, a TD Bank survey revealed that 90 percent of treasury and finance professionals think that blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) will positively affect the payments industry. Per the survey, only 14 percent of the respondents said that their organization has training strategies for blockchain.
A survey by the Global Blockchain Business Council published last January revealed that 63 percent of respondents believe that senior business executives have a poor understanding of blockchain technology. 30 percent consider their knowledge of the emerging technology as “average.” The remaining 7 percent described senior executive understanding of blockchain as “good.”
A new survey from investment platform eToro has revealed that 43 percent of millennial traders trust traditional stock exchanges less than crypto exchanges.
Nearly half of millennial traders have more trust in digital currency exchanges than in United States (U.S.) stock market exchanges. Data regarding millennial investment attitudes was collected in a new study from investment platform eToro and published on Feb. 19.
Per the report, 43 percent of the surveyed millenial online traders demonstrate less trust in the traditional stock market, while having more faith in cryptocurrency exchanges. 93 percent of millennial cryptocurrency traders reportedly said that they would invest more in digital currency if traditional financial institutions proposed such an option. At the same time, 71 percent of millennials that do not trade cryptocurrency said that they would begin if it were offered by conventional institutions.
Managing Director of eToro U.S., Guy Hirsch, said that the market is now witnessing a generation shift in trust from traditional stock exchanges to digital currency ones. “Immutability is native to blockchains and that makes real-time audit to be sensible and cost-effective and that is why millennials and Gen X perceive crypto exchanges as less likely to be subject to manipulation and less likely to be a place where bad actors get rewarded with taxpayer money,” Hirsch explained.
45 percent of the respondents expressed interest in allocating cryptocurrency in their 401(k) retirement savings plans, and 74 percent of digital currency traders would like to receive that option from their 401(k) plan providers.
The research was conducted by market research and strategy firm Provoke Insights on behalf of eToro in September 2018. Throughout the course of the study, the company surveyed 1,000 online investors from ages 20 to 65. The company notes that the margin of error is around 3 percent.
Research published last November revealed that cryptocurrency investing is most popular among millennials earning from $75,000 to $99,999 annually. The survey collected responses from over 1,000 Americans between ages 18 and 80. Almost 40 percent of respondents cited peer influence as a main reason for investing in crypto, and over 35 percent have reportedly been lured into the crypto market by the “Fear of Missing Out.”
Blockchain security firm and wallet service BitGo revealed plans to offer crypto insurance through Lloyd's of London.
BitGo Business Wallet clients will be able to acquire insurance for their digital assets held on BitGo’s Business Wallet service and Custodial offering
Assets held by either BitGo or BitGo Trust Company can insured for up to $100 million by global insurance and reinsurance market Lloyd’s, the release says. Lloyd’s had nearly $43.8 billion in gross written premiums in 2017, and has insured such eccentric items as Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard’s hands.
BitGo crypto insurance can be paid out following the loss of private keys caused by a hack or a theft by third parties or insiders, or in the case of physical loss or damage of private keys, the press release notes.
BitGo Business Wallet clients will be able to purchase theft insurance and key recovery service called Lost Key Cover through Digital Asset Services, an insurance provider operating under the purview of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the United Kingdom’s financial services regulator. The Lost Key Cover service will reportedly be available for purchase on an annual subscription basis, or at the time when needed, the release says.
On Feb. 1, Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX filed for creditor protection when it was revealed that it had lost the keys for cold wallets holding $145 million in digital assets. The exchange’s founder Gerry Cotten, who was purportedly the sole controller of the wallets and corresponding keys, passed away suddenly in December on a trip to India. Following his death, neither officials, Cotten’s wife nor the court-ordered monitor — Big Four audit company Ernst & Young — have been able to locate the keys.
Cyprus’ securities regulator is calling for the transposition of an extended version of the European Union’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive into national law.
The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) is calling for the transposition of the European Union (EU)’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive (AMLD5) into national law — bringing local regulation of cryptocurrencies under its provisions. CySEC’s announcement and consultation paper on the matter were published on Feb. 19.
Тhe directive, which came into force on July 9, 2018, sets a new legal framework for European financial regulators to monitor crypto-related businesses and service providers in order to protect against money laundering and terrorism financing.
Specifically, the directive extends the scope of regulatory oversight to crypto exchanges and wallet providers, enforcing stricter transparency requirements directed at anonymous payments — whether made via exchanges or prepaid cards. EU member states must incorporate the directive into their respective national laws by Jan. 20, 2020.
In its announcement, CySEC notes that its fintech-oriented CySEC Innovation Hub has received multiple enquires from crypto-related entities, many of which do not yet “appear to fall within the existing regulatory framework.”
The agency thus advocates for the formalization of the AMLD5 into law, and proposes bringing several additional areas of crypto-related activity in Cyprus under AML/CFT obligations. These, which are notably not included in the provisions of AMLD5, would be as follows:
“a) exchange between crypto assets, b) transfer of virtual assets, and c) participation in and provision of financial services related to an issuer’s offer and/or sale of a crypto asset.”
In its consultation paper, the agency states this extension is based upon its “judgement of the potential risk posed to investors’ protection and the integrity of the market, and the industry-accepted definitions.”
Last December, Cyprus was one of seven southern EU member states to release a declaration calling for the promotion of the use of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) in the region.
In fall, Invest Cyprus — the republic’s national investment partner — signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Singapore-based blockchain platform VeChain Foundation to work on a series of national level investment strategies to foster blockchain innovation.
U.S. hardware manufacturer Nvidia reported full-year revenue gains in 2018.
On Feb. 14, California-headquartered gaming and computer hardware manufacturer Nvidia reported full-year revenue gains in 2018, despite being one of the companies worst hit by the cryptocurrency market dip and subsequent lack of demand for mining components.
The firm’s main products include graphics processing units (GPU), among others, which became widely purchased by miners during the crypto boom of 2017 — as a result, the firm’s revenue started to correlate with the crypto market condition (at least to some extent), which resulted in a few shake-ups.
2017: Nvidia enjoys the crypto boom, becomes substantial part of the market
In 2017, its primary GPU product line, labeled "GeForce" — as well as its direct competition, Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD) "Radeon" units — began surging in price as the crypto frenzy unfolded and Bitcoin (BTC), along with altcoins, gained mainstream recognition. That year, according to Jon Peddie Research, a market research firm for the computer graphics industry, miners purchased around 3 million devices for more than $700 million. As a result, Nvidia inadvertently became one of the market’s most significant players.
The ever-increasing demand for mining equipment lead to higher prices: As Cointelegraph previously reported, the cost of flagship chips rose by 25 percent, with Nvidia’s GeForce 1080 being sold for more than $1,000 during the market peak, while it normally retailed for $550. According to media reports, Nvidia even started limiting its online sales to avoid excessive resell, allowing customer to buy no more than two items per person.
The company’s seniors greeted the sudden increase in sales caused by the rapid growth of an emerging market. In August 2017, while talking to MarketWatch, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang appeared notably bullish about the crypto industry:
“Crypto is here to stay, and the market will grow to be quite large. [...] It’s not likely to go away any time soon. There will be more currencies to come, they will come from different nations. [...] We stay very close to the market, and understand the dynamics very well.”
In May 2018, Nvidia shared information about its revenue from chip sales to the crypto mining market for the first time. Specifically, the manufacturer reported earning as much as $289 million from processor sales to miners. Essentially, Nvidia was growing along with the market: The firm’s first-quarter crypto sales that year amounted to over 9 percent of overall revenue for the company, which stood at $3.2 billion.
“Crypto miners bought a lot of our GPUs in the quarter and it drove prices up,” the company’s CEO reportedly explained on the conference call, adding, however, that high prices prevented other consumers, such as gamers, from buying into the newest GeForce graphics card series.
First half of 2018: Crypto market plunges, Nvidia GPUs decline in price
However, by that time, Bitcoin had long entered its notorious nosedive — in January alone, the cryptocurrency lost half of its value from the $20,000 landmark high — and Huang wasn’t as optimistic about the market anymore. The sales to the crypto market would likely decrease by two-thirds in Q2 2018, the company forecasted.
“In the beginning of the year, we thought and projected crypto would be a larger contribution through the rest of the year, but at this time we consider it to be immaterial for the second half,” Huang told MarketWatch at the time.
Indeed, as Cointelegraph reported, revenue for miners had decreased, as the crypto market underwent a correction following record highs in December 2017. Hash rates were still growing, however, indicating that the mining pool continued to expand globally.
In August 2018, the hardware developer declared that crypto mining sales in Q2 were even lower than expected. Nvidia began to dismiss the once profitable market, arguing that it does not expect to make significant mining-related sales for the rest of the year. Colette Kress, the company’s chief financial officer, stated:
“Our revenue outlook had anticipated cryptocurrency-specific products declining to approximately $100 million, while actual crypto-specific product revenue was $18 million. Whereas we had previously anticipated cryptocurrency to be meaningful for the year, we are now projecting no contributions going forward.”
Nvidia also forecasted its third quarter revenue between $3.19 billion and $3.32 billion, lower than the figure predicted by analysts of $3.34 billion. As a result, the manufacturer’s shares declined more than 5 percent.
In July 2018, media started to report that the price of specialized GPUs has been declining along with sinking prices in digital currency markets. Thus, according to Computerworld, in April 2018, AMD’s OEM 4GB RX 580 six-pack was sold out at the price of $3,600, while in July, it was available for just $2,500. Respectively, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, 8GB GDDR5X PCI Express 3.0 Graphics Card was sold out at a price tag of $1,050 in April, but could be purchased for $709 around July.
Second half of 2018: ASIC’s takeover, Nvidia experiences “crypto hangover”
Meanwhile, application specific integrated circuits (ASICs), a special type of computer chip that is designed solely for cryptocurrency mining, had been developed for a number of cryptocurrencies, outperforming GPUs. The largest company to ride the ASIC wave was the China-based Bitmain company, which was eventually also severely hit by the bear market. Nevertheless, the outfit began selling devices that mined non-ASIC-resistant cryptocurrencies much more efficiently than GPUs, hence partially forcing Nvidia out of mining, especially within the BTC blockchain.
Nevertheless, some cryptocurrencies can still be mined only with GPUs, says Mark D’Aria, founder and CEO of Bitpro, a New York-based installation and mining operation management firm:
“It is unlikely that Bitmain can drive Nvidia *completely* off of the market – they can certainly drive Nvidia GPUs mostly out of mining certain coins, but there are many ASIC resistant coins out there, and it would be extremely beneficial for Nvidia (and AMD) if Ethereum goes through with the ProgPoW update.”
The target markets of Nvidia and solely crypto-oriented players like Bitmain are completely different, agrees Jonathan Bertrand, president of Technologies D-Central, mining equipment provider located in Quebec, Canada:
“Bitmain's performance is closely tied to the performance of cryptocurrency while Nvidia has a wide range of markets such as gaming, AI and hash functions more general, it is not only mining operations that are hashing. Nvidia cards are excellent for the vast majority of hashing operations needed in the world, far more than an ASIC that has a single use. Not to be confused, the unique use of an ASIC is very useful, but strictly in the case of Bitcoin mining.”
Further, on Nov. 15, Nvidia released its earnings report for the Q3 of 2018. In the report, Huang revealed that the company’s “near-term results reflect excess channel inventory post the cryptocurrency boom, which will be corrected.”
Basically, while the crypto frenzy increased prices for Nvidia’s gaming cards, once that demand vanished, prices did not decrease quickly enough to attract customers who were waiting for more affordable cards. The CEO referred to this period as a “crypto hangover” in an interview with Reuters:
“The crypto hangover lasted longer than we expected. We thought we had done a better job managing the cryptocurrency dynamics.”
Nvidia’s post of sales for Q3 missed expectations yet again, and the company’s shares dropped another 17 percent. Around the same time, Goldman Sachs removed Nvidia from its list of stocks with the most potential for investors. “We were clearly wrong on the stock as we underestimated the magnitude of the channel inventory build in midrange gaming GPUs,” its analysts explained. Thus, Wall Street’s crypto-driven expectations from the hardware developer were not met.
In December, CNBC reported that in Q4 2018, Nvidia experienced a massive sell-off of its shares, cutting the stock price by 54 percent, which made it the worst performer in the S&P 500. Later that month, Nvidia even faced a class-action lawsuit over its losses. Specifically, the complaint filed by Schall law firm stated that “the Company made false and misleading statements to the market” and “touted its ability to monitor the cryptocurrency market and make rapid changes to its business as necessary.”
2019: Weak sales are likely to continue. However, the company will carry on regardless of crypto
In January 2019, Nvidia updated its financial estimates for Q4 for the fiscal year of 2019, reflecting weaker forecasted sales in its gaming and data center platforms, explained by excess midrange channel inventory following the slump in crypto market. The revenue for that quarter was now expected to be at $2.20 billion, opposed to the previous projection of $2.70 billion.
Jensen Huang said in the press release:
“Q4 was an extraordinary, unusually turbulent, and disappointing quarter.”
In addition to a lack of crypto-related business, Nvidia also cited “deteriorating conditions” in China as a indicator of lower-than-expected revenue from gaming GPU sales in Q4.
Finally, in February 2019, the United States hardware firm reported full-year revenue gains after publishing its Q4 earnings. According to the press release, its total 2018 revenue climbed 21 percent from 2017 numbers to $11.72 billion, even despite the crypto market crash. The growth was allegedly driven by all-time high sales of its gaming, data center, professional visualization and automotive products.
As a result, Nvidia’s shares jumped 8 percent after the figures were unveiled. Q4 performance turned out to be extremely low, however: Revenue was down 24 percent versus the same quarter the previous year to $2.24 billion, staying just slightly above the adjusted forecast.
Commenting on the statistics, Nvidia’s CEO stressed the market’s infamous volatility:
“The combination of post-crypto excess channel inventory and recent deteriorating end-market conditions drove a disappointing quarter.”
D’Aria of Bitpro was not surprised by those numbers, arguing that Nvidia is not that depended on its performance within the crypto market. He told Cointelegraph:
“Crypto mining was never the foundation of Nvidia’s revenue, more like a cherry on top. During the 2017 bull run it was a really big cherry, but Nvidia is one of the most innovative chip makers and they are completely dominating their competition in gaming, AI, scientific compute, etc. If crypto went away entirely, Nvidia would be just fine.”
He adds, however, that 2019 might not be as bleak for the hardware developer, especially if the market recovers enough to make GPU mining profitable again, and large projects such as Ethereum (ETH) adopt ASIC resistance measures, making more room for GPUs over ASICs. However, the frenzy times might be over for at least another few years, D’Aria warns:
“Nvidia has strong ProgPoW performance, and since they also lead AMD in general power efficiency with their latest GPUs, those two factors would definitely increase crypto mining’s contribution to their revenue, at least compared to the tail end of 2018. It’s unlikely we’ll see a return to the bonanza of late 2017-early 2018 without a another bubble, but I don’t expect that for a few more years. When that does eventually come around again, Nvidia will undoubtedly experience another huge few quarters, followed by another hangover a few quarters later.”
Similarly, D-Central President Jonathan Bertrand argues that Nvidia will stay afloat regardless of the market condition:
“I have confidence in the products of Nvidia and I am convinced that with the mining or not, the hash centers have the wind in the sails. It is the parallelization and specialization of traditional data-centers that drives us to the emergence of these new ‘hash-centers’ specialized in computing.”
Meanwhile, Bitmain has recently announced its next generation 7 nanometer ASIC mining chip, following a series of negative news caused by the crypto winter, suggesting that mining players are not giving up, but are patiently waiting for the spring to come.
Third-largest cryptocurrency exchange OKEx has added 4 additional crypto assets pairs to its margin trading platform.
Last month, OKEx added seven new crypto derivative pairs to its platform, including Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin SV (BSV), EOS (EOS), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP), as Cointelegraph reported on Jan. 3.
As Cointelegraph wrote on Dec. 4, the digital asset exchange OKEx had earlier launched a derivative product, dubbed a “perpetual swap,” that supports BTC/USD with up to 100x leverage. In January, the exchange noted that the newly added contracts would only support up to 40x leverage, as opposed to today’s press release noting a 3x leverage option.
Earlier today, Cointelegraph wrote that major United States exchange and wallet Coinbase has acquired a blockchain intelligence startup, dubbed Neutrino, underlining that the new deal is aimed at helping add more cryptocurrencies and features to Coinbase services.
New York-based True Digital announced the appointment of former Bridgewater Associates COO Thomas Kim as its new CEO.
New York-based fintech company TrueDigital Holdings (TDH) announced the appointment of former Bridgewater Associates chief operating officer Thomas Kim as its new CEO through a post on its website on Feb. 19.
Before his time at Bridgewater Associates, which had almost $125 billion assets under management in 2018, Kim worked at now-defunct global financial services firm Lehman Brothers in charge of the Townsend Analytics Electronic Trading franchise.
According to today’s post, Kim will manage TrueDigital’s existing initiatives, such as the launch of Bitcoin (BTC) swaps planned for this year. In January of this year, blockchain platform Qtum also announced that it was introducing Bitcoin atomic swaps to its mainnet infrastructure.
TrueDigital’s announcement states that TrueDigital launched Signature Bank’s blockchain-based payment infrastructure earlier this year, which was approved by the Department of Financial Services of New York (NYDFS) in December 2018.
The aforementioned payment platform also attracted a “significant number of institutions within the first 30 days of operation,” according to the announcement.
As Cointelegraph reported in March of last year, TrueEX — whose affiliate is TDH — partnered with a blockchain tech company led by Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Joseph Lubin, ConsenSys, to create a benchmark rate for the price of Ethereum.
Yoshitaka Kitao is vesting his future hopes for crypto in Ripple and R3 technologies.
Yoshitaka Kitao, CEO and representative director of Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings, has singled out Ripple (XRP) and blockchain consortium R3 as reasons to remain optimistic about the future of the crypto industry — bear market notwithstanding. Kitao made his remarks during an interview with Japanese crypto news outlet Coin Post on Feb. 18.
SBI Holdings is an active partner of Ripple via their joint venture, “SBI Ripple Asia,” established to promote the use of XRP in Asian financial markets back in 2016.
In his interview with Coin Post, Kitao underscored that the protracted crypto market slump is not to be thought of as an end to the industry, and that SBI has been working intensively to foster the adoption of XRP among financial institutions.
He affirmed that the real demand for the asset’s use in cross-border remittances and settlement is already underway and will continue to burgeon— pointing to Santander’s use of Ripple’s blockchain-powered xCurrent and RippleNet platforms for international payments as an exemplary, high-profile case.
Aside from predicting that Ripple’s still-fledgling market capitalization would eventually grow to be a global standard, Kitao also made positive remarks in relation to enterprise blockchain consortium R3 — of which SBI is a member, as well as reportedly being the largest outside shareholder — as well as the R3 Corda settlement platform.
Alluding to the now-resolved legal disputes between R3 and Ripple, Kitao said he had encouraged the two former ostensible rivals”to cooperate on a joint venture, and was bullish on the potential impact of “Corda Settler” — R3’s universal payment settlement platform, which unveiled XRP as its first supported crypto in December.
Among the rest of his wide-ranging remarks, Kitao said he judged the “temperature of institutional investors [in regard to crypto] to be extremely hot,” noting that surveillance and real-time data on the crypto markets are improving, as well as clearing services.
Kitao said he hoped that Japan would spearhead cryptocurrency regulation and act proactively ahead of other global markets, such as the United States. He noted that SBI was awaiting more legislative clarity from the Japan’s watchdog, the Financial Services Agency, before launching its own crypto fund for institutional investors.
As previously reported, the past couple of years have seen SBI pursue multiple ventures in the crypto sector, including its own exchange — VCTRADE — alongside a series of investments in businesses developing crypto infrastructure and services. It also has its own blockchain initiative S coin platform, which it trialed for retail payments in September 2018, integrating R3 Corda technology.
In January, SBI published its nine-month financial report, which identified the implementation of R3 and Ripple technologies as a major part of its strategy.
In October 2018, SBI and Ripple’s XRP-powered payments app, MoneyTap, went live for account holders at selected Japanese banks — with the eventual ambition of including a consortium of 61 institutions (representing over 80 percent of all of Japan’s banking assets) in the service.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has disclosed that his crypto investments are virtually exclusively devoted to the Ethereum network.
Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin has disclosed that his crypto investments are virtually exclusively devoted to the Ethereum network, in a post published to an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Reddit thread on Feb. 18.
The AMA post is dedicated the Ethereum leadership and accountability, asking those in leadership positions in the ETH community to share their possible conflicts of interest.
In Buterin’s summary, his total holdings of non-Ethereum ecosystem tokens — comprising Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin (BTC), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Zcash (ZEC) — account for less than 10 percent of the value of his Ethereum holdings.
A further set of non-ETH Ethereum ecosystem tokens — comprised of Kyber (KNC), OmiseGo (OMG), Maker (MKR), (OMG) and Augur (REP) — are similarly reportedly collectively worth less than 10 percent of Buterin’s Ethereum (ETH) holdings.
Buterin also disclosed on the AMA that he has “significant corporate shareholdings” in blockchain research and development firm Clearmatics, as well as in scalability- and privacy-focused blockchain startup Starkware. The latter notably develops cryptographic technology such as zero-knowledge proofs, of which Buterin is a vocal proponent.
Aside from this, Buterin revealed his external revenue over the past 12 months — aside from the Ethereum Foundation — was accounted for by his advisory role for the tokens disclosed in his holdings.
Vitalik also discussed his non-financial involvement in other blockchain projects — including the ecosystems for the aforementioned tokens — as well as several non-token-based Ethereum-related organizations; such as L4, Plasma Group, EthGlobal and EDCON.
He is also reportedly involved in several non-token-based and non-Ethereum organizations — “mainly professional cryptography and economics circles” — which he didn’t specify.
Some community members had voiced their concerns that the feature could have negative security implications, which Buterin refuted, while emphasizing the need to evolve the feature in question with a longer roadmap in view.
MIT Technology Review argued that blockchain tech is hackable due to both system bugs and the human factor.
MIT Technology Review magazine has published an article today, Feb. 19, arguing that security-touted blockchain tech is still vulnerable to hacks. The magazine is fully owned by the United States Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
In the recent article, the MIT Technology Review stressed that blockchain technology represents a complex economic system that depends on unpredictable human behavior.
As such, the Review pointed out multiple security breaches that have been increasingly emerging in cryptocurrency and smart contract platforms since the inception of crypto, citing a number of incidents including the recent double spending vulnerability that was found on a major U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase on Jan. 7.
The Review has further enumerated a number of conditions that make blockchain technology vulnerable, including both unintentional bugs in the system and the human factor. The magazine wrote:
“In short, while blockchain technology has been long touted for its security, under certain conditions it can be quite vulnerable. Sometimes shoddy execution can be blamed, or unintentional software bugs. Other times it’s more of a gray area — the complicated result of interactions between the code, the economics of the blockchain and human greed.”
The Review has further cited numerous bounties — programs provided by blockchain and crypto companies that allow white hat hackers get rewards by reporting a certain blockchain flaw on a given platform.
According to TheNextWeb, white hat hackers earned $878,000 in total by reporting crypto bugs in 2018.
Recently, Coinbase handed out a $30,000 reward for reporting a critical bug on its system, which is the largest crypto bounty ever given out by the exchange on HackerOne.
Previously, the MIT Technology Review had argued that blockchain technology will finally become common in 2019, considering the technology a disappointment of 2018.
Japan’s central bank examines central bank digital currencies in a new report, laying out their benefits and drawbacks.
In the document, the bank describes the possible ways to implement a CBDC and the hypothetical consequences of different approaches. The report divides possible CBDCs in two categories, the first being those accessible to the general public in a form like banknotes, and the other as those limited for large-value settlements.
Moreover, after explaining that CBDCs of the latter kind wouldn’t bring many new features to the monetary system, the Japanese report’s authors focused on the first kind throughout most of the document. The report also noted that distributed ledger technology and blockchain could be used for a token-based CBDC.
As Cointelegraph reported in October last year, the deputy governor of Japan’s central bank, Masayoshi Amamiya, has expressed a negative stance towards central bank-issued digital currencies.
Crypto Dividends: Staking Coins for Gains Potentially a Good Strategy in a Bear Market but Is Not Without Risk-
According to Bloomberg, investors turn to staking for gains in the crypto bear market, but there are risks.
Volatility coupled with one of the longest bear markets ever experienced by the cryptocurrency industry have compelled many investors to consider staking as a method of “playing it safe,” according to a Bloomberg article.
Staking, which is similar to earning dividends or interest on your investment, is not a new concept. However, in a long bear market, it does become more prevalent among cryptocurrency investors, as possible gains from regular trading are not as fruitful. As Kyle Samani, managing partner at Multicoin Capital Management, stated to Bloomberg:
“Regardless of market conditions, staking provides returns denominated in the asset being staked. If you’re going to be long, you might as well stake."
Staking rewards are a byproduct of the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, first introduced by Sunny King and Scott Nadal in a white paper in 2012 for peer-to-peer cryptocurrency Peercoin (PPC).
Since then, hundreds of cryptocurrencies have adopted a PoS consensus algorithm as a method to verify transactions.
The majority of cryptocurrencies use either proof-of-work (PoW) or PoS — or some iteration of it.
PoW relies on the proof that a certain amount of work has been done to verify transactions. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum use PoW to validate transactions, although Ethereum has been making it clear that they will be moving to a PoS system, called Casper, as part of the Serenity network update expected for later in 2019.
At an August 2018 Blockchain at Berkeley event, hosted by the student-run organization Origin, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, stated he can’t wait for all crypto networks to move away from PoW:
“I am seriously looking forward to when the cryptocurrency community basically passes away with proof-of-work.”
With PoW, nodes (or miners) compete to verify blocks of transactions by running highly specialized and expensive processing equipment (such as Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs) to solve complex mathematical equations. The first node to solve the equation can add the next block of transactions and collect the reward, which could either be a set amount or percentage of the transaction fee. The process, also called mining, has a number of drawbacks:
- It is highly energy intensive (the Bitcoin network consumes almost the same amount of energy as the entire country of Singapore).
- The high energy dependence is not only expensive but also bad for the environment in countries where nonrenewable fossil fuels (such as coal) is burned to generate electricity.
- Specialized mining equipment requires a significant upfront investment, which can be risky, considering that rewards are not guaranteed.
- With the advent of large centralized mining pools, the risk of a 51 percent attack on PoW networks is a very real threat.
PoS, on the other hand, only requires network participants to hold a certain amount of the native cryptocurrency in a specific wallet for a certain period of time. This is called staking and doesn’t call for any expensive computer equipment or massive amounts of processing power to solve complex mathematical equations.
Key differences from POW are:
- Nodes are often called “validators” rather than “miners.”
- There’s no specialized computer hardware requirement to become a node, which means the burden on power resources is drastically reduced. This is not only cheaper but also more eco-friendly.
- With PoS, there’s no threat of centralized mining pools.
- A 51 percent attack would be much more expensive to carry out. In order to take control of a PoS network, an individual or entity would have to purchase 51 percent of the available tokens. Not only that but, if you owned 51 percent of the tokens, you would want to do everything in your power to see the network succeed and continue to turn a profit. That means you are less likely to do anything to defraud the blockchain.
Different levels of PoS staking for different levels of rewards
It is common in PoS cryptocurrencies to award those with a bigger vested interest in the network with bigger benefits. This is both in network authority (such as voting weight) and rewards.
As such, cryptocurrency networks will often offer different levels of staking — i.e., the more coins you lock away for staking, the bigger the network will reward you.
This gives rise to two distinguishable types of staking: masternode staking and non-node staking.
Masternode staking to validate transactions
Masternodes are network participants that are tasked with validating and authenticating transactions on a PoS blockchain.
To apply for a masternode, participants will generally have to comply with some minimum requirements. This will be different from network to network but may include locking away a set number of tokens (typically a large minimum), being a network participant and holding tokens for a certain period of time, and being an active community member with a good reputation. The number of masternode positions will generally also be limited.
Rewards are distributed as part of the network fees (transaction fees) and tend to be big, as the vested interest in the network needs to be big. But the barrier to entry is also quite high — i.e., you would need a large initial investment to become a masternode.
For example, to become a Neo masternode (also called bookkeepers or consensus nodes), a participant will need to stake 1,000 GAS ($2,150) — the fuel token on the Neo network that represents the right to use the Neo blockchain and is used to pay the network fees for issuing new assets, running smart contracts and storage — to nominate themselves as a bookkeeper and also obtain a consensus authority certificate before Neo community members can vote for them. The Neo mainnet is limited to seven consensus nodes
According to Neo’s economic model, the maintainer of a Neo consensus node will be rewarded with network fees.
Similarly, to apply for masternode status (also called Authority Masternode) on VeChain (VET), a participant will have to stake 25 million VET ($97,500) to be considered and will have to complete Know Your Customer (KYC) verification in the VeChain portal. Its masternode positions are limited to 101 members.
VeChain masternodes are compensated in part by transaction fees and part from a predetermined foundation reward pool.
Non-node staking to earn interest or dividends
Non-node staking is less complicated, and users are not involved in validating transactions. There is no minimum staking amount and often no minimum holding period, meaning the barrier of entry is much lower.
All a network participant has to do is hold the specific cryptocurrency in the network’s dedicated wallet to start earning interest or dividend payouts.
Both the Neo and VeChain examples above have calculators to show you how much you can earn per amount of tokens staked.
Potential gains and risks of PoS staking
According to POS List and masternodes.online, rewards and earnings for both masternode staking and non-node staking vary significantly between cryptocurrencies, anything from 0.7 percent to well over 1,000 percent.
The possibility of long-term gains has also given birth to a number of startups that focus specifically on providing staking services to investors, including Anchorage, Eon Staking Inc., Figment and Staked.
Perhaps as an indication of the strong market interest in the possibilities of cryptocurrency staking, on Jan. 31, 2019, Staked announced that they raised $4.5 million in seed investment from a number of institutional investors that included Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures and Winklevoss Capital, while Anchorage launched on Jan. 23, 2019 after a $17 million funding round led by venture fund Andreessen Horowitz.
PoS staking is not without risk, though. It’s not just a bear market game, it’s a long game. So, a significant level of trust has to be put in the cryptocurrency network — trust that they will make it through the bear market and still be operational on the other side, and trust that they will consistently payout earnings and rewards in the long run.
Another risk is monopolization of a network, where a few large token holders end up getting the lion’s share of the rewards. Linked to the risk of monopolization is the possibility of a 51 percent attack. Although it would be much more expensive and counterintuitive, it is still possible for such an attack to be orchestrated and to devalue the network.
The government of Seoul plans to spend $1 billion to support blockchain and fintech startups via an investment fund.
According to the release, the South Korean capital’s government plans to use the “Seoul Innovation Growth Fund” for startups that have various investments problems with Series A funding rounds. The fund, launched last year, will primarily focus on startups related to blockchain and fintech industries.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government announcement underlines that the average investment per company in London and Silicon Valley is approximately $6-7 million, while in Korea, it is only about $1.1 million. Jo In-dong, the head of the economic policy department at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said:
"Innovative startup investments will be the cornerstone of corporate growth that creates innovation in our society and will be a crucial driving force for the growth of innovative venture companies. We will expand our investment to [...] stimulate the startup investment market and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem."
Last month, the capital city’s government announced the launch of the Seoul Blockchain Governance Team, which consists of 100 employees, with the goal to examine the potential and benefits of blockchain applications in various government services, as Cointelegraph wrote on Jan. 31.
As Cointelegraph reported on Oct. 4, the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, revealed a five-year plan, dubbed “Blockchain City of Seoul,” for promoting the development of blockchain-related initiatives in South Korea’s capital city.
Crypto markets have continued gaining momentum, with all top 20 coins in green and Bitcoin testing $4,000.
Market visualization from Coin360
Following a slight decline to as low as $3,908 yesterday, Bitcoin has continued growing towards the new price point, currently trading at $3,941 and up 4.4 percent over the past 24 hours. The biggest cryptocurrency saw a sharp bullish move on Feb. 17 and approached $4,000 yesterday by touching $3,973, the highest price point since Jan. 10. Bitcoin is up around 9.3 percent over the past 7 days.
Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap
Ethereum (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is up about 3.5 percent, approaching $150. Ethereum is seeing large growth over the week, up more than 22 percent since Feb. 12, when the altcoin was trading at around $121.
Ethereum 7-days price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap
Ripple (XRP), the second-top altcoin by market cap, is up about 8.3 percent and is trading at $0.338, which constitutes around 12 percent growth over the past 7 days. Recently, BankDhofar, the second-largest bank by market value in Oman, has started using RippleNet tech for cross-border payments to India.
Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap
The fourth-top cryptocurrency by market cap, EOS (EOS), is seeing the biggest growth both over the past 24 hours and 7 days, up more than 15.7 percent over the day and about 30.5 percent over the week.
EOS 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap
Total market capitalization has surged to $135 billion after having been stuck around $120 billion since Feb. 8. Daily trade volume has continued gaining momentum, currently seeing a slight decline from $36 billion to $35 billion.
Weekly total market capitalization chart. Source: CoinMarketCap
Yesterday, Indonesia’s commodity futures regulator adopted a legal framework for operating crypto and digital assets futures markets, officially requiring multiple entities on the market to seek regulatory approval and apply for registration before legally launching businesses in Indonesia.
Also on Feb. 18, prominent Bitcoin bull and venture capital investor Tim Draper declared that in five years, only criminals will use fiat as crypto becomes universally widespread. Draper also argued that Bitcoin is more secure than the U.S. dollar, and compared cashing out from BTC with exchanging gold into shells.
Following the long President’s Day weekend in the United States, stock futures were flat to lower on Tuesday as traders waited for new data from the latest round of the U.S.-China trade negotiations, CNBC reports. According to data acquired by CNBC, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 20 points at the open, while NASDAQ and S&P 500 remained flat.
Meanwhile, oil stayed within sight of its 2019 high of almost $67 a barrel on Tuesday, supported by OPEC-led supply cuts although concern about slowing economic growth is expected to curb the demand.
As the U.S. dollar reportedly weakened on anticipation of the U.S. and China trade deal, gold prices increased to the highest level in more than two weeks on Monday, while palladium hit a record high of $1,449. U.S. gold futures increased by 0.3 percent to $1,326.1 an ounce.
Coinbase has acquired a London-based blockchain intelligence startup to prevent theft of funds and investigate attacks.
Coinbase revealed that the company will continue to operate as a standalone business in its London office. The amount of the contract has not been disclosed.
The U.S. exchange believes that blockchain intelligence will contribute to creating an open and protected financial system. The company expects Neutrino to help Coinbase prevent theft of funds, investigate hacks and ransomware attacks, and identify suspicious transactions.
Moreover, the exchange hints that the acquisition will help to add more cryptocurrencies and features to its services, assisting Coinbase in complying with current laws and regulations.
Earlier this year, Coinbase announced that it had acquired Andreessen Horowitz-backed tech startup Blockspring. The startup produces tools that enable developers to automatically gather and process information from application programming interfaces.
Later, in February, Coinbase launched support for European Union residents to make fiat currency withdrawals to online payment system PayPal — a feature that was previously released for U.S. users only.
A company is offering cash loans of up to $30,000 with crypto as collateral — all without borrowers needing to sell their digital assets.
A financial company is giving crypto holders the opportunity to take out cash loans while using their digital assets as collateral.
YouHodler — whose name is inspired by the term “HODL” — says its product gives the community a way of accessing money without selling their investments.
The platform offers loans from $100 to up to $30,000 — also payable in euros and Tether (USDT) — with a maximum loan-to-value of 80 percent, a ratio which YouHodler claims is one of the highest currently available in the industry.
Six cryptocurrencies are accepted as collateral, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash and BSV. Others, including XLM, Dash and ZCash, are said to be in the pipeline.
“Easy to get cash, easy to pay off”
In a congested market, YouHodler says that one of its unique selling points is how borrowers don’t need to find a lender — a common feature of rival peer-to-peer models. Instead, the platform has its own fiat reserves, and says funds can be released “almost instantaneously” once loan approvals take place — a process which can take seconds thanks to the company’s automated Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks.
The company’s loans are offered over three timeframes: eight days, 50 days and 120 days. The team emphasizes that customizable loan terms are also available. Interest rates are set between 5 and 13 percent, depending on the duration of an agreement — as are the loan-to-value ratios available. In an attempt to distinguish itself from the “unfairly biased” financial system that exists at present, YouHodler says interest rates are not going to be determined by how much collateral a borrower offers.
Repayments are made using euro and dollar bank transfers, USDT and major credit and debit cards — and once this process is complete, YouHodler says collateral is returned in full, even if it has increased in value.
Over the course of 2019, YouHodler is planning to diversify its offering further through a credit card and app, giving its customers access to their loans on a Mastercard. This facility will have a credit limit of 30,000 euros ($34,000, at the time of writing) and an annual percentage rate of 16 percent, but no monthly fees.
Services for miners, traders and businesses
The company says its 120-day loan term is especially popular with miners, so much so that it is referred to as the “Hodler’s Favorite.” This is because this gives them the chance to unlock capital to repair mining hardware and cover business expenses.
Meanwhile, YouHodler believes its product helps traders leverage their crypto portfolio with additional cash in order to buy further digital assets. Finally, the platform stresses its doors are open to blockchain-based companies that are looking for extra financing in order to grow their businesses.
According to YouHodler, its “extensive expertise in currency exchange rate risk management” — when combined with its secure wallet system, integration with leading exchanges and partnerships with trusted fiat providers — makes it more attractive than rivals. Its website goes on to state that it has already processed more than $3.5 million in loans on behalf of 1,250 customers, primarily from Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy.
In explaining where the company sees itself within the current financial ecosystem, CEO Ilya Volkov said YouHodler has no plans to compete with traditional banks and argues that attempting to do so wouldn’t be helpful for society. Instead, the platform wants to adopt a more user-friendly, fast and sustainable approach than old-fashioned institutions can provide, giving consumers in developing economies who lack access to bank accounts a way to access fiat loans like anyone else.
Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has announced the use of blockchain technology for the bank’s first such issuance of a green bond.
Spain’s second-largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), has announced the launch of the first blockchain-backed platform for structured green bonds. The news was announced in a press release published on Feb. 19.
BBVA has closed the deal with Spanish insurance house Mapfre, which has invested 35 million euros (approximately $40 million) to finance sustainable products. To close this deal, BBVA has “issued the first structured green bond using blockchain technology to negotiate the terms and conditions,” the press release states.
The press release underlines that the funds have been specified for the financing of green projects, under the umbrella of BBVA’s sustainable development goals. BBVA’s head of global sales, Juan Garat, noted the company’s focus on innovative, sustainable solutions, adding:
“Using DLT — distributed ledger technology — for this transaction allowed us to simplify the processes and streamline the negotiation time frames.”
Previously, in last December, BBVA had already announced the closing of a 150 million-euro ($169 million) loan on blockchain, which was claimed as BBVA’s first blockchain-based loans deal with a non-Spanish borrower, as Cointelegraph reported on Dec. 14.
As Cointelegraph reported on Nov. 22, two major Spanish banks — BBVA and Banco Santander — joined the European Union International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications, which aims to develop EU blockchain regulation, along with preparing for the launch of EU-wide blockchain applications.
The FBI has outlined what it believes to be the consistent threads running through fraudulent initial coin offerings.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has outlined what it believes to be the consistent threads running through fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO) schemes. The Bureau’s perspective was shared in an interview with Netherlands-based financial news site the Paypers on Feb. 19.
According to the FBI, the key strategies of scam offerings include misrepresentations of their directors’ professional experience, an engineered false impression of how much traction the ICO has garnered in the industry, and unrealistic promises of prospective returns on tokens:
“Like any investment product, rates of return can never be guaranteed and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
The FBI warned investors to conduct due diligence on any scheme and the individuals behind it, and to be on the lookout for entities that appear to be exclusively internet-based, where a physical address or contact is hard or impossible to come by.
The Bureau also suggested investors should be aware of which jurisdiction the offering is registered in — if at all — and to which laws and regulations it therefore falls subject to.
The public can avail itself of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck system to verify the identities and registration status of entities, the FBI advised. Given that even well-known cryptocurrencies and products may carry heightened risks of volatility due to the nascent stature of the industry, the FBI advised prospective investors to only invest what they can afford to lose.
In regard to legitimate business operators of platforms such as virtual currency exchanges or cryptocurrency ATMs, the FBI noted that both the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and multiple Federal District Courts have deemed such entities as subject to registration requirements. Failure to duly register is thus reportedly deemed to be in violation of federal money transmitting laws.
Looking ahead to the future, the FBI echoed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s stance that a vast swathe of token offerings should be classified as securities and that, given the increasing proliferation of such assets — with many industry members anticipating a security token offering trend — investors should be wary of the heightened risks of fraud.
In June 2018, the Bureau revealed it had 130 ongoing crypto-related cases, with dark web drug sales a particular concern. It nonetheless characterized the sector as accounting for merely “a small sliver” of the FBI’s activities overall.
Last year, the SEC attempted to educate investors by creating a mock ICO website that lured visitors with a “too good to be true investment opportunity.” The site employed the red flags the agency claimed to have identified in the majority of fraudulent ICOs, and redirected those who attempted to purchase the ersatz tokens to an educationally-oriented page on the SEC’s site.
The government has formally opened a cyber security lab and strengthened police powers to investigate possible crypto-based crime.
As part of efforts to step up the fight against internet-based adversaries, India’s Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the cyber forensic lab and Cyber Protection Awareness and Detection Centre (CyPAD), which will be operated by police in Delhi.
“We are now equipped with technology to recover data from damaged hard disks, cryptocurrency analysis, malware forensic and data can be retrieved from 33,000 kinds of mobile models available in the market,” the Hindu quotes Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik as saying.
The announcement comes as India continues to make slow progress on separating the actions of criminals from legitimate usage of cryptocurrency.
Local scams encountered by police regularly make the headlines, but domestic cryptocurrency businesses have complained that the position adopted by India’s central bank has not helped create a more robust landscape.
Earlier this month, a government research panel appeared to suggest Delhi was concerned about the potential impact of cryptocurrency on the stability of the rupee.
SMBC conducted a proof-of-concept of R3’s Marco Polo with a multinational Japanese player.
Japan’s second-largest bank by assets, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), has completed a proof-of-concept (PoC) using blockchain consortium R3’s Marco Polo trade finance platform. A press release confirmed the PoC completion on Feb. 18.
SMBC, which is the only Japanese bank participating in Marco Polo, said it had partnered with Japanese multinational Mitsui & Co. to enhance efficiency in trade processes.
“[The] PoC was conducted between SMBC and Mitsui & Co. which aims to improve productivity in its trade operations, by testing modules such as Receivable Finance and Payment Commitment (Payment Undertaking),” the release explained, adding:
“SMBC expects to commercialize Marco Polo in the first half of (the financial year 2019) after verification of the PoC.”
Launched in 2017, Marco Polo is a joint venture between R3 and Irish tech firm TradeIX targeting trade finance utility using distributed ledger technology.
R3 is a New York-based group of businesses, banks and other entities founded in 2014 as a distributed technology company. At its launch in September 2015, it had a total of nine members. This January, R3 announced the launch of its Corda Network, with the consortium now made up of over 300 members.
An earnings report for 2018 is alleged to show the company suffered considerably in Q3 versus H1.
Bitmain, which is currently attempting to launch an initial public offering (IPO) under the auspices of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx), submitted a report into its earnings in line with listing requirements.
According to the publication, that report indicated that for 2018 as a whole, excluding Q4, revenue was $3 billion and profits $500 million. This contrasts with previous figures for the first half of the year, for which profit was $1 billion.
If the information is correct, the assumption is that Q3 cost Bitmain $500 million in losses, corroborating a widely-held theory that the accelerating Bitcoin bear market late last year took a serious toll on the mining sector.
As Cointelegraph reported, Bitmain’s IPO filing process, which could raise significant funds for the company, has been fraught with difficulties since the plans made their way into the public realm in Q2 2018.
An alleged cryptocurrency mining scam has been reported to Thai police; 140 investors are reportedly affected.
Per the report, 30 people have filed a complaint with police, stating that they were fooled into an alleged investment scam called “CryptoMining.Farm.” This purportedly led the loss of 42 million baht ($1.34 million). Local authorities reportedly suspect that a total of 140 individuals were affected by the scam.
CryptoMining.Farm, which has offices registered in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, supposedly promised investors an annual return of 70 percent in addition to the option to withdraw their funds at any time with no conditions. The Bitcoin (BTC) mining contracts offered by the company reportedly ranged from three months to a lifetime.
One affected individual told the Bangkok Post “But from August the owner began imposing conditions for withdrawing the money. Then at the start of this month, the site announced it would start paying back investors in 84 instalments — which would take over seven years to complete.” The source, which reportedly preferred to remain anonymous, said that the payments would also be made in foreign currencies, which is illegal under Thai law.
The most recent allegations follow a well-publicized case from last year, in which a former soap opera actor Jiratpisit "Boom" Jaravijit and other suspects were accused of swindling $24 million worth of Bitcoin from 21-year-old Finnish investor Aamai Otava Saarimaa.
The suspects, who were charged with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering, reportedly pleaded “not guilty” at a court in Bangkok in November 2018.
Last May, a 100-section royal decree published in the Thai Royal Gazette, defined cryptocurrencies as “digital assets and digital tokens.” In November, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam called for more regulations on cryptocurrencies. Krea-ngam said that new guidelines must be introduced in order to keep up with evolving tactics and threats to consumer security.
A startup says crowdfunding sites have a trust problem, with projects failing and contributors refusing to invest again. It believes blockchain can change this.
A new blockchain platform is vowing to take on established crowdfunding sites — and argues that their lack of accountability means greater numbers of projects fail to deliver what they promised.
Pledgecamp says its approach involves offering transparency through the form of smart contracts — and ensuring that entrepreneurs and the platform they host their projects on are equally invested in a campaign’s success.
One of the startup’s features is known as Backer Insurance. Instead of funds being released in full as soon as a target is met, project creators must propose “clear development milestones” before contributions are made. An escrow wallet then ensures that funds are unlocked gradually — with supporters given the sole right to monitor how their investments are spent, vote on whether a milestone’s objectives have been fulfilled satisfactorily, and decide if the next phase of the project should begin.
According to Pledgecamp, blockchain is the only way to deliver this concept, as it removes centralization and gives power to those who have put their funds at stake. The company’s white paper explains: “Instead of requiring teams of lawyers, creating smart contracts is essentially free, judgment is automated, and enforcement is guaranteed.”
The level of Backer Insurance associated with a project can be decided upon by the campaign creator — and those who volunteer more of the funds to be protected in Backer Insurance subsequently benefit from lower listing fees.
Tackling a trust problem
The startup cites research that suggests as many as 85 percent of campaigns end up delaying delivery, while up to 14 percent fail altogether. Pledgecamp also highlights statistics released by Kickstarter itself that show that only a third of those who contribute to a crowdfunding campaign on the website end up doing so again. According to the blockchain platform, this amounts to a “trust problem” that needs to be addressed if the industry is going to thrive — enabling businesses to secure funding away from financial institutions and validate their product ideas.
The startup argues many crowdfunding sites have failed to innovate and offer technical features that benefit entrepreneurs and contributors alike. Pledgecamp says its ecosystem will offer resources for project creators in a “secure and decentralized way” — and give them the chance to hire skilled workers who can help them achieve their goals on a temporary basis in their “gig economy.”
Moderation is also going to be a major factor in Pledgecamp’s offering — and in the spirit of decentralization, this vital role will lie with users. Those who contribute by curating campaigns and removing those that violate the platform’s Terms of Service will be eligible to receive a proportion of the listing fees generated by each successful project. While Pledge Tokens are the platform’s main cryptocurrency, moderators who stake their Pledge Tokens into Camp Shares are eligible to participate in this moderation role, as part of the ecosystem’s two-token economy.
Pledgecamp’s advisers include Randi Zuckerberg — who formerly led marketing at Facebook, the social media giant founded by her brother Mark. She is joined in this capacity by Matt Curcio, the vice president of data at Ripple.
A limited token sale begins on Feb. 18 and runs for 30 days. The startup is designing the platform in partnership with MetaLab, which has helped well-known products such as Slack and Coinbase. The launch is scheduled in full toward Q3 of 2019. In the run-up to this launch date, it plans to create a Knowledge Center for project creators, implement the website’s user interface, and complete work on the platform’s back-end and smart contract functionality.
Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.
Tokyo-based Recruit Co., Ltd. has invested in privacy coin project Beam Development Limited.
Per today’s press release, Recruit has invested in Israeli blockchain startup Beam Development Limited. The investment was made through Recruit’s $25 million fund called RSP Blockchain Tech Fund Pte. Ltd. The latter is focused on investing and acquiring shares in blockchain and cryptocurrency companies.
Beam is a privacy-oriented crypto project that purportedly secures transactions by enabling transaction data to be verified by a specified third party. The announcement states that the Beam token prevents the “divulgation of transaction data to third parties and protects user’s transaction information.”
Recruit further stressed that it “recognizes the revolutionary impact of blockchain technology in facilitating innovation while preserving confidential data, but at the same time Recruit understands the need for appropriate government regulation to ensure that this new technology is not abused.”
Founded in 1960, Recruit Co., Ltd. acts as an advertising and employment information services company internationally. The firm acquired job search portal Indeed.com in 2012, and then job search site Glassdoor in 2018.
Recently, Beam (BEAM) announced that it plans to introduce a Mimblewimble-compatible lightning network (LN) to enhance the altcoin in commercial settings where payments would require quick confirmation. While Beam’s paper states that their transaction capacity is three times faster than that of Bitcoin’s (BTC), the paper notes that it is not at the same level as other major payment processors.
According to a Litecoin Foundation blog post published Feb. 7, Mimblewimble is in part a variant of “Confidential Transactions,” which allows for transactions to be “obfuscated yet verifiable,” so as to achieve both heightened privacy and prevent double spending.
At press time, BEAM is trading at $1.26, having gained around 4.5 percent on the day, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The coin’s market capitalization is around $7.8 million, while its daily trading volume is around $7 million at press time.
Tech firm Blockstream has released the Schnorr-based multi-signature scheme MuSig designed to address Bitcoin blockchain privacy.
The Schnorr-based multi-signature scheme MuSig, a test code for a potential upgrade to the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain, has been released by blockchain tech firm Blockstream, according to an announcement published on Feb. 18.
Last January, four Bitcoin developers released a paper outlining how Schnorr multi-signatures (‘multisig’) could help scale the Bitcoin blockchain, saying that the technology could reduce its transaction size and “improve both performance and user privacy in Bitcoin”. In the paper, the developers state that MuSig is designed as “a protocol that allows a group of signers to produce a short, joint signature on a common message.”
Today’s announcement reveals that MuSig has been turned from an idea into usable code, while this week the code was also merged into secp256k1-zkp, a fork of secp256k1 representing “the high-assurance cryptographic library used by Bitcoin Core.”
In the post, the developers explain their decision to develop MuSig by creating “a misuse-resistant API without sharp corners, and which doesn’t encourage dangerous usage patterns even in constrained environments.” The post also stresses the necessity of improving verification efficiency and developing provable security in the public key model. MuSig signatures purportedly improve privacy since they hide the exact signer policy.
However, since the beginning of the MuSig development, its creators have reportedly found that a number of already published signature schemes — including an earlier unpublished version of MuSig — are insecure. The post further reads:
“MuSig signatures, just like Schnorr signatures or ECDSA, use in their construction a secret ‘nonce’ which must be produced uniformly randomly. Any deviation from uniform, even by a single bit, can lead to secret key loss and stolen funds.”
For now, the developers are asking community members to test the code, which is reportedly posted on GitHub, and provide feedback.
Bitcoin’s next halving is expected to happen in May 2020. Bitcoin halving is an event that happens roughly once every four years, after which the amount of new BTC created and earned by miners will be cut in half.
In anticipation of the next halving, United States-regulated trading and clearing platform LedgerX released a new type of derivative contract unique to BTC called LedgerX Halving Contract (LXHC). The new product represents a binary option and reportedly “allows you to get a fixed payoff if the next halving block (#630,000) happens before a certain date and time. If the block is discovered after, the contract expires at zero.”
Fudan University has opened a blockchain research center that will purportedly facilitate the development of the Shanghai economy.
Per the announcement, Fudan University established the Shanghai Blockchain Engineering Technology Research Center in collaboration with Zhongan Online Property Insurance Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Zhongren Information Technology Co., Ltd.
The center will purportedly carry out basic research on blockchain technology, demonstrate its application, as well as provide associated talent training. The establishment of the Shanghai Blockchain Engineering Technology Research Center will further promote the development and growth of the blockchain industry in Shanghai and purportedly facilitate the development of the Shanghai economy.
Other Chinese universities have also integrated blockchain into their scholarship programs. In January, in collaboration with blockchain payments firm Ripple, the Institute for Fintech Research at Beijing’s Tsinghua University (THUIFR) announced the Blockchain Technology Research Scholarship Program (BRSP). The program reportedly intends to bring together the best graduate students in China in 2019 to study global blockchain regulations and industry development.
Earlier this month, the Chinese Institute for Fintech Research at Tsinghua University joined Ripple’s global University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) — which was originally launched in June 2018 — that supports academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrencies and digital payments.
An expert from the Bank of Spain has issued a detailed report on cryptocurrencies, stating that Bitcoin will not have a significant impact on the finance sector.
An official from Spain’s central bank, the Bank of Spain (BDE) believes that Bitcoin (BTC) is unable to resolve the problems faced by major payment systems. BDE’s Deputy General Director for financial innovations and market infrastructure, Carlos Colesa, gave his opinion on the leading cryptocurrency in a report published on Sunday, Feb. 17.
The study dubbed "Bitcoin: a solution for payment systems or a solution in search of a problem?," is marked as an “occasional paper,” according to Cointelegraph en Español. This means that the Bank of Spain does not necessarily share the stance of the author.
Colesa compared Bitcoin to traditional payment systems and financial intermediaries. First, he says that the Bitcoin blockchain processes only 250,000 transactions daily, which is a relatively small volume for a global system. For instance, major Spanish retail system, the Sistema Nacional de Compensación Electrónica (SNCE), reportedly handled around 7.2 million payments daily, as of 2017.
Given that the miners have to approve transactions, Bitcoin payments are slow, and the time required for a transactions is purportedly unpredictable. Thus, the Proof of Work (PoW) in fact limits the capacity of the whole system instead of yielding benefits, Colesa concludes. The report further states that the absence of governance and coordination impedes improvements to the system.
According to Colesa, the combination of private and public keys is a very unreliable system that is vulnerable to various types of fraud and scams. Moreover, the report states that loss of private keys means that users’ funds can never be restored.
The report echoes the stance of some Bitcoin sceptics, such as Nouriel Roubini, who believe that crypto is in fact very centralized. For instance, crypto has commissions for transactions, and the payment speed depends on its rate. The average rate is set by mining pools, which, according to the expert, have enough power to control the system in order to get more rewards. Colesa concludes:
“It is unlikely that Bitcoin in its current modification will have any significant impact on the finance sector as an alternative to traditional payment systems.”
Earlier this month the bank issued a reminder to citizens, warning of the risks related to cryptocurrencies. The document notes that they are not yet regulated in the country, while exchanges are not authorized by the central bank and thus the funds stored there cannot be protected by the government. Moreover, the BDE governor, Pablo Hernández de Cos, has determined that crypto “cannot replace money and is not a means of payment or common exchange.”
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, EOS, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, TRON, Stellar, Binance Coin, Bitcoin SV: Price Analysis, February 18-
While markets are currently staging a recovery attempt, some analysts feel negative sentiment will drive prices lower still.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
Market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.
CNBC commentator and CEO of digital currency investment firm BKCM LLC, Brian Kelly, believes that, “Bitcoin is about 50 percent undervalued.” However, just because it is undervalued is not a good enough reason for it to move up. Kelly opines that due to extreme negative sentiment, he will not be surprised even if Bitcoin drops to $1,500.
While it is difficult to predict where the current bear market will bottom out, various experts believe that the next bull run will be a strong one. Zhu Fa, the co-founder of Poolin, a Chinese-based crypto mining pool, is extremely ambitious as he expects Bitcoin to reach $738,000 during the next bull phase. However, he also warns that the next bull run might be the last.
Though astronomical price targets look enticing, we are currently looking for fundamental developments to carry crypto prices out of the bear market. Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten is likely to integrate crypto payments in its mobile app that will be released on March 18. If this happens, it will be a welcome step in bringing crypto closer to mass adoption.
There have been a few recovery attempts in the past few months but they have not sustained. Will the current recovery signal a bottom? Let’s look at the charts to find out.
Unlike previous occasions, the tight range in Bitcoin (BTC) has resolved to the upside. Currently, the price is attempting to break out of the downtrend line, which has been a stiff resistance since the end November 2018. A break out of this resistance will indicate strength and attract buyers.
Traders can wait for a close (UTC time frame) above the downtrend line and buy 30 percent of their desired allocation. The stop loss can be kept just below the lows at $3,200. The next level to watch on the upside is $4,255.
A breakout above $4,255 will complete a double bottom pattern, that has a target objective of $5,273.91. Traders can add the remaining 70 percent position on a breakout and close above $4,255.
Contrary to our expectation, if the bears defend the overhead resistance of $4,255, the BTC/USD pair will remain range bound for a few more days. Our bullish view will be invalidated if the pair turns down and plunges below $3,236.09.
Ethereum (ETH) broke out of the overhead resistance at $134.50 on Feb. 17 and has soared higher. Its next target is $167.32. Traders who have long positions can trail half of their stops closely so as to protect about 75 percent of paper gains. The remaining position can be held with the stop at the breakeven. We do not recommend booking complete profits because we anticipate a move to $167.32 and higher. Hence, we will give some wiggle room for half of the positions.
The 20-day EMA is gradually sloping higher and the RSI has reached the overbought zone. This shows that the bulls are in command. The pair is in the early stage of forming an ascending triangle pattern. Our bullish view will be negated if the ETH/USD pair turns down from the current levels and plunges back below $134.50.
Ripple (XRP) has broken out of the 20-day EMA and the 50-day SMA, which is a positive sign. It can now move up to $0.33108. The price has stayed below $0.33108 since Jan. 10 of this year. Hence, a break out of this level signifies bullishness. Traders can enter long positions on a breakout and close (UTC time frame) above $0.33108. The stop loss can be kept at $0.275. The target objective of this trade is $0.40 and higher.
Contrary to our assumption, if the XRP/USD pair turns down from the overhead resistance, it might remain range bound for a few days. The downtrend will resume on a breakdown of critical zone of $0.27795 and $0.24508. The flattening moving averages and the RSI close to 50 point to a consolidation in the near term.
EOS has broken out of the overhead resistance zone of $3.05–$3.2081. Its next target objective is $3.8723 and above it $4.4930. The gradual up-sloping 20-day EMA and the RSI in the overbought zone shows that bulls have the upper hand. Traders who are long can protect half of their positions with a tight stop and trail the rest with a stop at $2.50.
We anticipate some resistance at $3.8723 but it is likely to be scaled. The target objective on the EOS/USD pair remains at $4.4930.
Our bullish assumption will be invalidated if the bears reverse direction sharply and push the price back below $3.2081.
After inching higher for the past three days, Litecoin (LTC) finally broke out of the overhead resistance at $47.2460. If the bulls sustain the breakout, the next target is $56.910. The uptrending moving averages and the RSI close to overbought territory shows that the path of least resistance is to the upside.
Nonetheless, if the bulls fail to sustain above $47.2460, the traders can book partial profits on their long positions and raise the stop loss on the rest to $40. A break below this level can result in a fall to $35 and lower. The LTC/USD pair will turn bearish if it breaks down from the critical support at $27.701.
After staying close to $121 for the past six days, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) has started its journey northwards. It is currently facing some resistance at $141.
However, after breaking out of $141, we expect it to pick up momentum. Therefore, traders can buy on a close (UTC time frame) above $141 and keep the stop loss below the recent lows of $116. The first level to watch on the upside is $163, above which the up move can extend to $175. The BCH/USD pair might consolidate or correct closer to $175. However, the pair has a history of vertical rallies. If the bulls pierce through $175, it will open the door for a rally to $220.
All our bullish expectations will be negated if the pair turns down from $141. The trend will turn negative if the bears sink the virtual currency below $103.
The bulls are attempting to stabilize TRON (TRX) for the past five days but are facing resistance at the 50-day SMA. The moving averages are on the verge of a bearish crossover, which will indicate weakness. A breakdown of $0.02344160 can drag it to $0.02113440 and below it to $0.01830000.
On the other hand, if the TRX/USD pair scales above both the moving averages, it will face selling at the downtrend line and above it at $0.02815521. The pair will pick up momentum if it sustains above $0.02815521. The targets to watch on the upside are $0.0380 and above it $0.040. Traders who are long can keep their stops at $0.0230.
For the past three days, Stellar (XLM) had been attempting to break out of the 20-day EMA. Though unsuccessful, we liked the way it did not give up any ground. A breakout above the 20-day EMA can carry it to the downtrend line and above it to the 50-day SMA. But as the digital currency has not participated in the recent pullback, we will wait for it to form a bullish setup before suggesting a trade in it.
Contrary to our expectation, if the XLM/USD pair fails to scale above the overhead resistances, it will enter into a consolidation. The 20-day EMA has flattened out and RSI is also inching towards the midpoint. This points to a range formation in the short term.
The pair will turn negative if it plummets below the recent low of $0.07256747. Following a breakdown, the next support on the downside is at $0.05795397.
Binance Coin (BNB) has again risen close to the overhead resistance of $10. We anticipate strong selling in the $10–$12 zone. From mid-August to mid-November, it had struggled to break out of this range on two occasions.
Still, if the price sustains above $10, it will signal strength. A consolidation between $10 to $12 will be bullish for the BNB/USD pair because a breakout can push it to $15 and above it to $18.
Conversely, if the pair turns down from the current levels and breaks below the 20-day EMA, it can slide to the 50-day SMA, which is a critical support. We do not find any reliable buy setup with a good risk to reward ratio, hence, we are not suggesting any fresh long positions in it.
Bitcoin SV has broken out of the 20-day EMA. This had been a major roadblock since Jan. 3 and the price had repeatedly turned down from it.
The BSV/USD pair is currently facing resistance at $71.412 and the 50-day SMA. Traders can initiate a long position on a close (UTC time frame) above the 50-day SMA, with a target objective of $102.580.
The failure of the bears to capitalize on the weakness and sink the price below $57 shows demand at lower levels. Our bullish view will be invalidated if the pair turns down from current levels and breaks down of $57. If that happens, a drop to $38.528 is probable.