BitGo Launches FATF Travel Rule Compliance Product, Rallying Other VASPs to Adopt

BitGo, a San Francisco domiciled crypto custodian, is extending its API’s for clients to append their data in line with the FATF ‘Travel Rule.’ This set of regulations came into action back in 2019 under recommendation 16, requiring all Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP) to comply with the guidelines.

Most notably is the aspect of data traveling whereby any amount above $1,000 sent via the crypto ecosystem has to go along with the sender’s data. BitGo’s internal APIs now seek to make this more practical, with the firm being optimistic about mainstream adoption by other VASPS as well. Mike Belshe, the CEO, of BitGo, has since confirmed the firm’s potential in scaling this milestone to other projects:

“We can offer this technology to our exchange clients and, in the process, assist them with the new FATF standards for digital asset compliance.”

BitGo’s API Travel Rule Solution

This innovation is expected to enhance the compliance of BitGo as a VASP while recording originator and beneficiary data as stipulated by the FATF Travel Rule.

It has already started working within BitGo’s ecosystem; the platform users have since been asked to check out the new API feature to be able to submit additional information during transaction requests in the network. The company’s senior product manager, Chris Metcalfe, noted that the process should be seamless given prior experience with API tools:

“The integration effort required by our clients is relatively light, as they simply need to append slightly more information about the sender in the transaction requests they are already making.”

To support communication between VASP providers, BitGo’s API has been upgraded to accommodate a subset of InterVASP’s IVMS101 standard. In doing so, BitGo is optimistic about acquiring a more significant market as the FATF crackdown looms. According to Metcalfe, this is possible given BitGo’s value proposition in the crypto ecosystem:

“So, BitGo, being the wallet platform to many of these large exchanges, has a good reason to believe we are going to be a source of gravity.”

Other than the VASP Travel Rule solution, BitGo has been working together with prominent banks like Standard Chartered and ING in developing a bank-backed Travel Rule Protocol (TRP).

“We are working towards an MVP (minimum viable product) with the TRP, as well as the U.S. Travel Rule working group, so we kind of have our toes in two ponds, and intend to play in both of those networks,” highlighted Metcalfe.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Cryptocurrency Focused Insurer, Evertas, Raises A $2.8 Million Seed Round Led by Morgan Creek

  • Evertas crypto insurer has received $2.8 Million cash injection from a recently concluded seed round led by Morgan Creek Capital Management.
  • Morgan Creek CEO will onboard the Evertas Board of Directors as part of the agreement.

Chicago based Evertas insurance has raised $2.8Million in a recent seed round. The insurance company, formerly known as BlockRe, was founded in 2017 by current CEO J Gdanski. They have zeroed in on the crypto realm, helping their clients reduce exposure to crypto-related risks offering expertise in insurance, Blockchain, investigation, and financial audits.

The seed round was led by Morgan Creek, an investment advisory firm that offers customized investment management facilities to institutions, wealthy individuals and families. Other investors in the investment round include Plug n Play, Kailash Ventures, RenGen, Vy Capital, and Wavemaker Genesis.

Notably, the founder and CEO at Morgan Creek, Mark Yusco, will onboard the Evertas Insurance board of Directors as stipulated in the deal. The funds raised are set to be used in an expansion plan of their customer base and product market.

According to Evertas CEO, being the only crypto-focused insurer places them at a prime position to capitalize on the lucrative crypto space, especially now that the governments across the world are turning their eyes to the industry.

Evertas’ spokesperson – Phil Anderson – highlighted that they are looking to venture into extending their vault services to cold and hot wallets for their clients. Their clientele will be comprised of mostly institutional investors, crypto exchanges, and extremely rich investors.

They were recently greenlighted by Bermuda Monetary Authority to commence operations in the jurisdiction operating as a class 3A insurer. As a small scale insurer, they are required obligated to have at least a million dollars as its minimum capital and surplus.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Grayscale’s Record-Breaking Q2 Sees Influx of New Investors; GBTC Inflows 118% of BTC Mined

Grayscale reported yet another record quarter with the most massive quarterly inflows at $905.8 million in Q2 2020, a quarter characterized by unprecedented global events, which is almost double the inflows recorded in Q1 2020.

This demand shows investors are increasingly looking to diversify their portfolios amid aggressive monetary and fiscal intervention resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, reads the report. And the record inflows make it difficult to ignore the “shift in sentiment towards digital assets from individual and institutional investors alike,” it said.

Both Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and Grayscale Ethereum Trust (ETHE) had record quarterly inflows; the latter one accounted for 15% of total inflows into the Grayscale products. ETHE was the reason demand for Grayscale products excluding Bitcoin grew to $154.7 million in 2Q20, up 35% QoQ, and up over 649% from 2Q19.

Even Grayscale Litecoin Trust saw its largest inflows to date, while the one providing exposure to Bitcoin Cash had its largest inflow since 2Q18.

Grayscale AUM
Source: Grayscale

Also, inflows into Grayscale products over six months surpassed the $1 billion thresholds for the first time ever, “demonstrating sustained demand for digital asset exposure despite a backdrop characterized by economic uncertainty.”

According to Grayscale, GBTC inflows actually exceeded newly mined bitcoin, which was cut down by 50% post-halving, a phenomenon widely circulating in the market.

Apparently, inflows into GBTC were proportional to almost 70% of all Bitcoin mined during Q2 2020, which increased to 118% after Bitcoin completed its third halving in May 2020.

The company noted that this significant reduction in the supply-side pressure might be “a positive sign for Bitcoin price appreciation.”

Grayscale BTC Flows
Source: Grayscale

However, the company still did not mention how much of these purchases were “in-kind,” which was last disclosed at “58% of total quarterly contributions in 3Q18, 71% in 2Q19, and 79% in 3Q19.”

The positive thing is that $124 million of inflows were from new investors who made up 57% of its investor base while 81% were returning institutional investors. This time these investors were more heavily weighted to offshore investors.

Overall, the majority of the investment that is 85% came from institutional investors who were dominated by hedge funds.

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Author: AnTy

China’s Testing its CBDC on Tencent-backed Food Delivery Giant

The People’s Bank of China is now planning to test its state-backed digital currency on the Tencent Holdings backed food delivery giant Meituan Dianping, just days after the reports came that DiDi Cuxing, the Chinese equivalent to Uber will be piloting the DC/EP.

Meituan has been in talks with the research department of China’s central bank on the real-world uses for the virtual legal tender dubbed Digital Currency Electronic Payment. The research wing is also in discussion on trials with another of Tencent-backed company Bilibili that streams video, reported Bloomberg.

Just like Didi, Meituan processes billions of dollars in daily transactions, the perfect stage for government-backed digital currency’s mass adoption. This digital yuan would further offer the government greater control over its financial system. According to some, it could even push the US dollar from the center of the global currency system.

The reports also helped Meituan, whose shares spiked, pushing it out of the negative territory.

Meituan and Bilibili offer various online services ranging from food delivery to e-commerce and video games. Currently, they are using the payment systems of Tencent and Alibaba’s Ant Group.

There is no date on a national rollout, which could still be years away. DC/EP was the result of five years of research and began its pilot program for the digital currency only a few months ago.

Coronavirus pandemic accelerated the development of digital currency in 2020, which combined with China’s progress, has other countries rushing towards developing their own state-backed virtual currency as well.

The Bank of Sweden is actively exploring “e-krona” while the US Federal Reserve is studying digital currencies but says it has no plan to issue a digital dollar.

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Author: AnTy

FDA Releases Blueprint On Using Modern Technologies To Usher In A ‘New Era Of Smarter Food’

  • The U.S Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is looking into integrating modern technology such as AI and blockchains to develop a new era of food safety.

In a blueprint document published on July 13, ‘New Era for Smarter Food Safety Blueprint,’ the FDA is looking into a new approach to food safety through leveraging modern technologies to “create a safer and more digital, traceable food system.”

The document focuses on new technologies, strategies, and leadership to offer the safest food possible, blockchain is mentioned as a key component in the blueprint.

The new era of modern food security and safety lies on four key pillars, namely the new business models and retail modernization, food safety culture, faster prevention and approach methods to outbreaks, and finally, a tech-enabled traceability feature such as AI, Big data, and blockchain.

When we look at how industries track, through digital means, the real-time movement of planes, ride-sharing, and packaged goods or how firms are harnessing big data to identify trends,” the blueprint reads.

“It is clear FDA, and our stakeholders should be looking at how to tap into new technologies that include, but are not limited to, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, sensor technologies, and blockchain.”

Blockchain technology also mentioned as a critical component in leveraging digital transformation whereby if implemented, it will help in “receiving receive critical tracking events and key data elements from industry and regulatory partners.”

FDA is critically looking at blockchain solutions to improve traceability and tracking of food and medicine. In May, BEG reported FDA’s successful completion of a pilot blockchain program together with IBM, KPMG, Merck, and Walmart to trace medication in the U.S.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Big US Banks Set Aside Billions in Downturn Warning; Stocks Continue to Tumble

The markets started to see red as investors grew worried about an uptick in coronavirus infections slowing the economic recovery when they kicked higher later in the day yesterday after the banks earning season kicked off.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average raced higher with its biggest percentage advance of the month. S&P 500 also spiked 1.7%, which can be further driven by a good performance by the banks’ stocks.

Bitcoin meanwhile continues to hover around $9,215 as it has been doing for about a month now. The volume remains extremely low while Tether is recording more than double the bitcoin’s ‘real’ trading volume, as per Messari.

The first earnings report showed that Wells Fargo took a $2.4 billion loss, the first quarterly loss since 2008. The earnings declined due to low-interest rates, uncertainty associated with COVID-19, and a worse-than-expected macro environment.

The surprise came in the form of JPMorgan, which topped its revenue estimated at $33 billion, up from 15% from the same quarter last year while profits dropped over 50%. Citigroup also reported revenue of $19.8 billion but a drop of 73% in profits from last year.

This was because of trading revenue driven by massive volatility in the market and the Fed injecting liquidity while purchasing corporate bonds as such, not sustainable.

Banks stocks are currently down with Wells Fargo losing as much as 45% in yearly returns. The shares of Wells Fargo and Citigroup fell 5.4% and 2.8%, respectively, yesterday with little changes in JPMorgan’s.

While both Citibank and JPMorgan Chase beat their estimated earnings, they didn’t put out an optimistic outlook.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon warned that the bank still “faces much uncertainty regarding the future path of the economy.”

All three of the banks meanwhile continue to stockpile billions; Citibank added $5.6 billion in the Q2 2020 while Wells Fargo and JPMorgan added $8.4 billion and $11 billion respectively to prepare for things to get worse.

Although government aid cushioned the economic fallout from the pandemic so far, bank executives said as the programs begin to expire in the coming months, the banks expect their losses to mount as defaults will rise.

“The banks are pessimistic about the course of the recovery,” said Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, associate professor of economics at Harvard University. “The banks don’t see a rapid recovery over the next six months — they see a protracted recession.”

Amidst this, Lael Brainard, a Federal Reserve governor, warned that “a broad second wave could reignite financial market volatility and market disruptions at a time of greater vulnerability.”

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Asset Broker, Voyager Digital, Reports An Impressive 1,159% YoY Revenue Jump

  • Voyager Digital Limited, a licensed Canadian crypto-asset broker, announced a preliminary unaudited revenue figure of $1.1 million after a sharp growth through the fiscal year ending June 30th, 2020.
  • The strong revenue growth is greatly attributed to a strong Q4 where the revenues grew 701% year-on-year to $700,000.

The preliminary report, released by Voyager, showed that the unaudited revenues by the firm jumped an impressive 1,159% over the year to $1.1 million. The company registered over 230,000 customers in the past fiscal year as the brokerage accounts increased 750% year-on-year to 86,000 accounts.

The results show exceptional performance in the operational and financial milestones set by the firm. Stephen Ehrlich, CEO, and Co-founder of the brokerage firm said the company had increased its customers’ assets by 1,959% to $35 million, and the principal value traded grew to $165 million, representing a 725% YoY growth. Ehrlich said,

“Our exceptional business momentum carried over into the fourth quarter, where we saw strong revenue growth both sequentially and year-over-year. […] These results reflect our evolution this past year into a fully integrated digital asset agency broker.”

The rapid growth in Voyager follows a rapid expansion in its business capabilities, including the addition of 39 crypto assets on its platform, including XRP, Compound (COMP), Kyber Network (KNC), Multi-Collateral Dai (DAI) and Celo (CELO) among others.

Over the past fiscal year, the company has completed several partnerships and acquisitions, including Avant-Garde and Circle’s crypto investing app.

Read more: Voyager Raises $2.1 Million in Private Placement to Expand User Base

In the remaining part of 2020 (first half of 2021 fiscal year), Voyager aims at integrating USDC stablecoin as one of the assets, obtain a BitLicense from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) and extend their interest program to other assets.

“Looking ahead, we continue to take steps to strengthen the Voyager Platform, and grow both our retail and institutional customer base,” Ehrlich added.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Cash App Sponsoring NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace & Puts Bitcoin Logo on it

African American NASCAR driver Darrel “Bubba” Wallace will now be driving the car and wearing the gear that adorns the Bitcoin logo, shared Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey.

As per the tweet shared by the Square co-founder, Cash App will be sponsoring Wallace, and his race car will feature the logo of Bitcoin and Cash App, the payment platform from Square that allows investors to invest in Bitcoin and stocks.

A staunch bitcoin supporter, Dorsey believes someday the internet will have a native currency, which could be Bitcoin. Recently, he unveiled a Bitcoin emoji on Twitter. Also, his Twitter bio simply reads “bitcoin.”

Now, the bitcoin logo will be seen flying around the race track.

A professional race driver, Wallace, recently made headlines after he pushed NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from the events during the Black Lives Matter protests.

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Author: AnTy

Revolut’s Partnership with Paxos Allows its US Users to Buy, Sell, & Hold BTC & ETH in 49 States

Revolut now allows its US users to trade cryptocurrencies by partnering with Paxos. This was made possible by New York-based Paxos getting a new brokerage service to let merchants offer crypto trading services.

Revolut US, the American division of the online bank, is the first client of Paxos. Paxos CEO Chad Cascarilla compared its new brokerage with a “plug-and-play” service that can be used by any company from payment firms to retailers to offer crypto to their customers with Paxos on the backend.

“It’s clear many firms want to offer crypto but are finding it’s difficult to build the regulatory and technological infrastructure to do that,” he told Fortune. “This allows anyone, no matter what type of firm they are, to do that.”

Paxos is a legal trust company, which means it retains all the assets it holds on its customers’ behalf, which allows it to deal with traditional financial firms that have to otherwise keep away from digital assets because of regulation or another risk.

Paxos currently offers a fiat-pegged stablecoin Paxos Standard and a crypto token backed by physical gold.

More Options for US Customers

Just a few months back, in late March 2020, Revolut launched its app and service in the US. Its partnership with the Metropolitan Commercial Bank enabled the company to offer its debit card to US customers.

Now, the European fintech allows its US users to buy, hold, and sell Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) from the Revolut app, but you can’t send and receive crypto from third-party wallets. The feature is available in 49 states due to some regulator issues in Tennessee.

For now, only the top two cryptos are available, unlike its European counterpart, where it offers more cryptos such as XRP, Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The company is working on adding more cryptos to the list.

For the first 30 days, Revolut is waiving the fees, which usually is 2.5% for a free Revolut account while Premium and Metal subscription will pay 1.5% in conversion fees. There are some monthly limits on currency exchange for free user users, which means you have to pay a 0.5% fee above that limit.

Square’s Cash App and commission-free Robinhood also let US users buy cryptocurrency via their apps.

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Author: AnTy

Japan’s Govt. Is Strongly Considering Launching A CBDC In Cooperation With The US and Europe

Japan is increasing its efforts in developing a central bank digital currency (CBDC), reported the largest financial paper in Japan, Nikkei on Wednesday. The post further confirms that the Japanese government plans to add the development of a digital yen into its policy framework this year.

Governments and central banks are looking at digital payments and currencies more seriously in a bid to plan for future financial systems. With China and Russia leading the field of digital payments, Japan is trying to catch up on developing its own.

Lawmakers in the country have long been calling for regulations and policies to be set in developing a digital yen. Moreover, cooperation with the US and Europe is on the cards to build a local electronic payment system.

Earlier this month, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) released a technical study report on launching a digital yen but said they had no plans to launch it soon. The BoJ has had a knack for CBDCs and digital payment systems for a while now since China’s announced it’s digital yuan is nearly complete.

Other top banks in the country are also exploring the digital asset world as seen with the recent joining of three top Japanese banks – Mizuho Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) – to a crypto exchange-led study group.

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Author: Lujan Odera