129 Crypto Startups Raised $2.6 Billion in Q1: CB Insights Report

Venture capitalists are pouring money like crazy into cryptocurrency-related companies, according to CB Insights.

In the first half quarter of 2020, $2.6 billion was raised by 129 startups focused on the blockchain. In just three months, the crypto industry had raised more than they did in all of 2020 when they attracted $2.3 billion in 341 deals.

This jump in fundraising was fueled by several large rounds by the likes of game-maker Dapper Labs Inc., crypto wallet provider Blockchain.com, and crypto lender BlockFi Inc., according to the data analysis company.

This surge in funding is happening due to the ongoing bull rally that has Bitcoin price soaring to an all-time high of $62k and becoming a billion-dollar asset.

With the cryptocurrency market reaching a $2 trillion market capitalization, corporations, hedge funds, high net-worth individuals, institutions, asset managers, pension funds, and insurance companies are all coming in to invest in the crypto space.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

India To Criminalize Private Crypto Ownership Despite Community Outcry

According to a senior government official familiar with the situation, the Indian government is working on legislation that will see private ownership of cryptocurrencies criminalized.

India’s Crypto Ban Is Still On Course

In a Reuters report published on Monday, an unnamed government official said the legislation banning cryptocurrencies in the country is in its final stages. According to the report, this will see the possession, issuance, mining, holding, and digital assets swap criminalized.

While India seeks to criminalize crypto ownership, the government official said that the government does not have any issues with blockchain technology, the technology behind Bitcoin. He said fines would be imposed and not jail terms in speaking on how the government plans to dissuade private crypto ownership this time around. A 2019 proposed ban had recommended jail terms of up to 10 years for private crypto holders.

The proposed legislation is hugely supported by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) its apex bank. The RBI had imposed a blanket ban in 2018 on cryptocurrencies in the country, making it unlawful to issue, mine, hold, and exchange digital assets for other asset classes. The central bank had cited financial instability occasioned by the volatile digital assets as a reason for the decision.

A Supreme Court ruling overturned the embargo in March 2020, leading to massive crypto adoption. The court asked the financial governing body to provide regulatory goalposts in the crypto space.

The RBI promised to continue its fight against what many in the government considered a “Ponzi scheme” and made another attempt last month, saying the volatile nature of digital assets could pose a risk to investor funds.

According to the financial body, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were a bubble and could affect market sentiments leading investors to invest large portions of their capital. A fall in value could see many financial markets sliding into depression and harming the country’s already fragile economy. The RBI is currently exploring blockchain technology to issue a state-backed digital currency (digital rupee) to combat the rise of cryptocurrencies.

Finance Chief Taking A “Calibrated” Position

But, a contrary view has been aired by the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman. According to the 61-year-old technocrat, the government is taking a more considerate outlook. Sitharaman made this comment in a separate event saying the government is looking at how experiments can happen in the digital world and cryptocurrency. These experiments would invariably lead the government to take a “calibrated” position on the issue.

Sitharaman further stated that the Finance Ministry would allow a certain amount of “window” for people to experiment with blockchain and Bitcoin as they will not be shutting off all options.

Even though the RBI is under the Ministry of Finance jurisdiction, operates independently from the government body due to how the Indian financial system is structured. The Reserve Bank of India caters to economic activities like monetary policies, issuing the national currency- the Rupee, and regulating the entire Indian banking system.

The Ministry of Finance focuses on macroeconomic policies, public financing, inflation, and the stock markets’ supervision. Their disparate outlook on economic issues has seen disputes erupt between the two Indian finance arms.

Crypto holders may likely be caught up in a show of strength between the RBI and the Finance Ministry, but many investors are still trooping in despite the proposed ban.

The government has said crypto investors would be given a six-month grace period to liquidate their crypto assets before penalties are exerted. But still, crypto exchanges are seeing traffic into the space growing by the day.

With Bitcoin breaking through a new ATH of $60,000 on Saturday, tripling its market value from 2017 after being backed by several institutions, the Indian crypto markets have grown astronomically. Since documented, a daily transaction volume showed 8 million investors holding 100 billion rupees (about $1.4 billion) in crypto investments.

Unocoin, India’s oldest crypto exchange, said 20,000 new investors came on board in January and February despite growing concerns about the ban being enforced.

Read Original/a>
Author: Jimmy Aki

Brad Garlinghouse on Asia: Business As Usual For Ripple Despite SEC’s XRP Lawsuit

According to Ripple Labs CEO Brad Garlinghouse, it’s business as usual for the blockchain company in Asia despite its issues with regulators in the U.S.

Asian Market Keeps XRP Afloat

The San-Francisco digital payments firm, which is in a legal tussle with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the classification of its XRP token, says the case hasn’t had much of an effect on its operations.

During a guest talk show with network news Reuters, Garlinghouse said that its Asia interests were still thriving despite the ongoing legal storm. To him, the clear regulatory signposts in the Asia-Pacific nations have made it easier for Ripple to model its digital products to the taste of regulators.

Talking down the impact of crypto exchanges delisting its digital currency in America, Garlinghouse said that XRP was traded in 200 exchanges worldwide, and only three or four exchanges ever listed the virtual currency in the United States. Garlinghouse explained,

“We have been able to continue to grow the business in Asia and Japan because we’ve had regulatory clarity in those markets.”

Garlinghouse and Ripple have witnessed some wins in the past months. Ripple had initially suffered a slump following the lawsuit in December but has since rallied, with the majority of the crypto market posting strong gains. It also announced a pilot for its central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) private ledger targeted at countries interested in digitizing their fiat currencies.

The CBDC Private Ledger is an offspring of its XRP Ledger (XRPL) technology and will run on the same blockchain the digital currency uses.

The private transactions logbook is created for large payments and will help central banks issue and maintain their digital currencies.

When the lawsuit was made public, large crypto houses like Coinbase and Kraken delisted the XRP cryptocurrency from their exchanges. But Asian exchanges continued to list the struggling crypto-asset.

Ripple has a good working relationship with APAC countries like Japan and Thailand, according to Garlinghouse. The cryptocurrency company is said to be in partnership with Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings. The Japanese powerhouse is already planning to leverage Ripple’s digital payments expertise to establish itself in the Asian continent.

Garlinghouse also spoke on the apparent lack of regulatory goalposts to guide corporate holdings of digital assets. To him, the SEC’s continued aggression will only end up stunting the growth of the crypto industry in the US.

Gensler Expected To Bring Regulatory Clarity

The Ripple case which has dragged on for months and may likely last longer, has seen crypto lawyers wade in on the discussion. Joseph Hall, a legal practitioner at David Polk’s law firm and former SEC commissioner, reportedly said the SEC was being biased in its suit against Ripple and its top executives.

Hall pointed out that Ethereum and Bitcoin sharing similar attributes with XRP, were confirmed as commodities by the SEC’s sister agency – the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

To him, XRP deserves the same treatment. Stating that the SEC took a long time before it made up its mind to file a case against XRP, Hall said it may not be a slam-dunk case.

At his confirmation ceremony in Congress, President Biden’s SEC Chair pick Gary Gensler promised to bring an end to the uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrencies in the United States.

Gensler is an MIT professor who teaches cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and public policy. He had previously served as the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Gensler told Congress at his confirmation hearing,

“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have brought new thinking to payments and financial inclusion, but they’ve also raised new issues of investor protection that we still need to attend to.”

Read Original/a>
Author: Jimmy Aki

Zurich Based Sygnum Becomes First Bank to Tokenize its Shares on Ethereum

Sygnum, a Zurich-based digital currency bank, has tokenized its shares according to a recent announcement on the company’s blog post. The bank touts itself as the first of its kind to tokenize shares on a distributed ledger, hence forging a path for the future of public offerings. These shares have been tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain via Sygnum’s tokenization platform dubbed ‘Desygnate.’

This means that Sygnum’s shares can now be accounted for via a blockchain ecosystem, including the associated legal rights and obligations. The blog reads,

“Put simply; this means that digital representations of Sygnum shares, together with associated legal rights and obligations, have been created and are immutably accounted for on a distributed ledger.”

With tokenization in the picture, Sygnum’s share registry will be updated automatically any time there is a capital injection transfer. According to Sygnum, this approach minimizes the counter-party risk attributed to settlements, given the bank will be using distributed ledger tech to manage both primary and secondary market transactions.

This initiative will also eliminate the administrative burden of written share transfer requests embedded in the current market structures. Sygnum Bank co-founder, Mathias Imbach, commented on the underlying value proposition in share tokenization,

“This is an important milestone towards fulfilling our mission of creating more direct and efficient access to ownership and value. This includes new engagement models with our clients and partners, and ultimately providing liquidity for our trusted shareholders.”

In the future, Sygnum plans to list its shares in Switzerland and Singapore via SIX Digital exchange and SBI digital Asset Holdings for the latter market. As reported by BEG, SIX recently completed a CBDC pilot test in collaboration with the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

It comes as no surprise that Sygnum is already eyeing a public offering in this marketplace. SIX Digital Exchange Head, Tim Grant, said that they are looking forward to the partnership,

“We are excited to partner with Sygnum on this journey and hope to facilitate a successful dual listing across Switzerland and Singapore in the future.”

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Bitcoin Adoption has Achieved Another Milestone; Primed for Additional $600B Demand

According to JPMorgan Chase, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.’s recent investment in Bitcoin means there is potential for additional institutional demand for the largest cryptocurrency in coming years.

In its previous report, the analysts at the banking giant had said that the institutional adoption of Bitcoin has just begun.

As for the latest round of $100 million purchase by the 169-year old insurance behemoth, Bitcoin’s adoption is spreading from wealthy investors and family offices to insurance firms and pension funds, wrote the strategists including Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou.

Although pension funds and insurance firms are unlikely to make high allocations, the strategists said even a small shift could be significant for the cryptocurrency.

“MassMutual’s Bitcoin purchases represent another milestone in the Bitcoin adoption by institutional investors,” the strategists said.

“One can see the potential demand that could arise over the coming years as other insurance companies and pension funds follow MassMutual’s example.”

This bullish commentary for Bitcoin didn’t end here; the strategies went to say that if the insurance firms and pension funds in the US, UK, Japan, and Europe allocate just 1% of their assets into Bitcoin, that would see an additional $600 billion in Bitcoin demand.

Currently, the largest cryptocurrency has a market cap of $356 billion.

However, the JPMorgan strategies also wrote that the regulatory hurdles related to risk levels and liability mismatches could limit their Bitcoin allocation for these traditional investors.

Bitcoin is having a great time in 4Q20, in which it has rallied 78% while being up over 166% YTD. After the correction last week, Bitcoin started surging on the weekend, and currently, around $19,100, it is yet again ready to go for the all-time high.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

IOTA to Launch A New Wallet; Firefly Was Built from the Ground Up for the Chrysalis

IOTA has announced a new wallet dubbed ‘Firefly’ according to a recent tweet by the IoT-focused blockchain foundation. The tweet sent out yesterday revealed that Firefly would replace IOTA’s infamous wallet, Trinity, which was hacked earlier this year.

Dominik Schiener, the co-founder of IOTA, quoted this tweet announcement noting that the chrysalis upgrade will feature many upgrades as the platform prepares to go fully decentralized in the awaited 2.0 upgrade.

“With Chrysalis, we are fundamentally upgrading the entire IOTA stack.

Over the coming weeks, everyone will participate in this new IOTA future and try our new Firefly wallet and Testnet. This will be an exciting new chapter for IOTA and the entire ecosystem!”

The Chrysalis upgrade marked the commencement towards ‘coordicide’ where IOTA’s coordinator will be removed to usher in complete decentralization. As we reported earlier, the chrysalis is the final testnet before the coordinator is removed.

IOTA’s developer, Charlie Varley, who commented on the ‘Firefly’ announcement, further expounded that the prospective wallet has been a work in progress. He added that the new wallet is redesigned from scratch based on the experiences learned from Trinity, with the first alpha expected in the course of 2020,

“Firefly is our new wallet. We are aiming for a first alpha this year. Taking everything we learned from Trinity, we redesigned it from the ground up.

In 2021 we will add additional features like contacts and chat. Firefly will set a benchmark for user-facing apps in crypto.”

In February, the Trinity wallet had been compromised, an attack that resulted in the loss of $1.6 million user funds, although this was later reimbursed by IOTA’s co-founder David Sonstebo. IOTA is now looking to improve its ecosystem’s security with the 2.0 launch, which is anticipated to take place in Q1, 2021 when the coordinator is replaced by coordicide.

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Blockchain Coalition, Universal Protocol Alliance, Launches The First Tradeable Carbon Token

The Universal Protocol Alliance (UPA) has launched the first tradeable carbon token, according to a press release shared with BEG. This group comprises prominent players in the blockchain industry, including Bittrex Global, Uphold, Infinigold, Certik, and Ledger. UPA’s goal is to eventually digitize or tokenize every asset class in preparation for a new era of finance.

The newly introduced tradeable carbon token is dubbed ‘UPCO2’, represents a year of carbon dioxide or a similar reduction from ‘Verra-approved REDD+ voluntary projects in the world’s rainforests.’ This new carbon token is available for trading on the Uphold digital asset platform and marks the first of its kind to trade in a public blockchain ecosystem.

Democratizing the Global Carbon Market

Recent years have seen the demand for carbon skyrocket as the world became more environmentally aware of pollution’s looming risks. According to World Bank stats, the need for carbon credits is currently more than its supply by close to 4 times. Universal Protocol Alliance is among the groups that are presently working to offset this gap.

The UPCO2 token is built to democratize carbon demand and supply by introducing a global playing field for clearing prices, just like other commodities, including gold and oil. Each UPCO2 token will be backed by a Voluntary Carbon Unit (VCU), while Verra will issue the same certificate. This is the standard International Agency that permits the conversion of greenhouse gas to tradeable carbon credits.

Mathew Le Merle, the chairman of UPA, explained that supporting projects through credit purchases prevents deforestation in areas like the Amazon and Congo Basin. He went on to highlight the value proposition of UPCO2 carbon token as an asset of the ‘future’ investor,

“For a new generation of investors looking for more than mere financial return, UPCO2 offers attractive social, economic, and environmental benefits. At a key moment for climate change, UPCO2 allows people worldwide to do good for the planet and potentially do well for themselves.”

A Lucrative Macroeconomic Outlook

In the future, there is a likelihood that combating climate change will be among the dominant discussion points across the globe. World Bank stats indicate that only 22% of emissions are compensated for by humanity; meanwhile, the percentage of countries that operate in regulated carbon markets has grown from 40% to 70% within the past four years.

Uphold CEO and Co-founder of the UP Alliance, JP Thieriot, emphasized this trend noting the underlying potential of the UPCO2 carbon token,

“Combating climate change is likely to become the dominant economic issue of the next 20 years.  The UPCO2 Token allows people everywhere to participate in this hugely important – and potentially lucrative – new market, as well as do the right thing for the planet.”

Notably, the Voluntary Credit Units offer some perks compared to the regulated credits, including global recognition and the ability to retain value until used or retired as compensation for carbon footprints.

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Ethereum Classic Network Announces Latest Hardfork; ‘Thanos’ Upgrade Scheduled for Nov 29

The Ethereum Classic network is set to undergo a network upgrade on November 29, according to an announcement by ETC Core developer and Ethereum Classic Labs, the teams behind ETC’s blockchain ecosystem. Dubbed ‘Thanos,’ this hardfork is an Ethereum Classic Improvement Proposal (ECIP 1099) and is part of developing a stable ecosystem that can withstand 51% attacks.

Notably, ETC’s blockchain experienced three 51% attacks over the summer, calling for the need to upgrade its technical fundamentals. Per the estimated timeframe, the Ethereum Classic community’s consensus decision to initiate the Thanos hardfork will happen in a week.

Once this milestone is achieved, Ethereum classic stakeholders are optimistic that the network will continue to ‘drive innovations that will support existing miners and attract new ones while maintaining compatibility with Ethereum (ETH).’

Prior Solutions to the ETC 51% Attacks

While the Thanos hardfork is anticipated to mark a big milestone, Ethereum Classic had already launched some initiatives to counter the 51% attacks. One of these solutions is dubbed Modified Exponential Subjective Scoring (MESS) and goes by the ticker ‘ECIP 1100’. Ideally, this innovation makes it harder for 51% attacks by increasing the costs associated with chain re-organizations.

Ethereum Classic Labs Founder and Chairman, James Wo, commented that,

“After the successful implementation of MESS, the finality algorithm that provides 51% protection, we continue to see Ethereum Classic innovate and grow in a way that distinguishes itself and increases functionality for its users.”

Mainnet Activation

ETC’s Mordor Testnet, which went last month, has already implemented the Thanos upgrade, ahead of the Mainnet activation scheduled for block 11,700,000. This will happen around November 29, although the timeframe might change as the network narrows closer to the activation block (currently at block 11,672,555). Wo was keen to note that Thanos hardfork is the next natural thing after MESS,

“The Thanos hard fork is the natural next step for the network, reducing the DAG size to help cultivate a more distributed and healthy mining ecosystem, increasing hash rate, and allowing for miners to continue mining ETC and for new miners to join the ecosystem.”

Ethereum Classic has since advised its consumers to upgrade their software nodes to fork compatible versions ‘if they have not done so already to Core-geth v1.11.16 or later.’

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Stellar Network Rolls Out Protocol 15 Upgrade, Adding Two New Payment Features; XLM Surges

Stellar blockchain network has upgraded to protocol 15, according to a blog post announcement on Nov 23. The publication was sent out by Stellar Development Foundation Ecosystem lead, Justin Rice; it highlights two new features: ‘make it easier than ever to build user-friendly apps on Stellar.’ The new functions are Sponsored Reserves and Claimable Balances.

According to the blog post, these new features are already changing Stellar’s ecosystem when it comes to hosting user-friendly DApps,

“We’ve already seen both deployed to great effect on the testnet, and we’re excited to see what you can do with them in a production environment.”

Notably, Stellar skipped protocol 14 after a critical bug was discovered in this update while in the testing phase. The previous protocol ‘13’ had been voted for by the validator nodes in June; improvements in this upgrade included fee bump transactions and advanced asset authorization control.

Stellar’s Protocol 15 Upgrade

This milestone was first announced in October, although the project had been a work in progress for several months. The upgrade went live on Nov 23 at 1600 UTC, and users have since been advised to install software that supports the latest protocol. According to the blog,

“Stellar Core will immediately throw an error if it’s not up to date, but Horizon and the Stellar SDKs may function as normal for a bit until they encounter — and are baffled by — one of the new operations.”

The value proposition in claimable balances can split payments into two by creating a new ledger entry. Stellar users can create a balance and claim a balance, which means that they can send an asset, regardless of the receiving account’s state.

On the other hand, Sponsored Reserves open up the window for funding innovations with Lumens (XLM) while maintaining control. An earlier blog post highlighted that,

“It also adds new extensions to account entries and ledger entries to record pertinent information about sponsorships.”

XLM Price Bullish

Meanwhile, the XLM price is currently bullish, having gained 72.6% within the past 24 hours. The coin is currently trading at $0.189 while its total market cap is well over $3 billion, according to metrics site Coingecko.

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Poker Websites Buying Millions of Dollars Worth of BTC Per Day to Meet Crazy High Customer Demand

Bitcoin is helping people get hilariously rich as it continues to surge. According to Bloomberg, online gamblers have also taken to cashing out in BTC to get their winnings bigger and bigger.

Winning Power Network, which operates AmericasCardRoom.eu is one of the poker websites that reported buying millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin a day from the over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks in recent weeks to meet the demands of its players, which is dominated by Americans despite online poker being illegal in most states, said Chief Executive Phil Nagy. He said,

“Right now, 90-95% of our payouts are people asking for Bitcoin because it’s going up.”

“We are constantly having to go out and buy Bitcoin — lots. Lots. More than we’ve even had to before.”

More than 60% of its transaction volume, which is about $100 million a month, is currently in Bitcoin. Due to this crazy high demand, brokers are charging up to a 1.5% premium.

This makes sense given that Bitcoin beats the traditional asset by a wide margin, up 150% YTD reaching $18,600, a level last seen right around the peak of December 2017.

While before this rally, 60 of WPN’s customers were cashing out in Bitcoin, this has now shot over 90%.

Poker sites have been accepting Bitcoin since 2014. Just last year, a Guinness World Record for the largest crypto jackpot in online poker was set for $1 million.

In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the poker business exploded, growing a whopping 43%, as people were stuck home with business shutdowns as part of the lockdown measures.

WPN, whose long-term customers can make both the deposits and withdrawals in Bitcoin, doesn’t hold it but instead converts BTC into fiat right away. Nagy said,

“When Bitcoin drops or does something significant, inevitably, we have people send us $100,000 or $200,000 in Bitcoin because it’s the fastest way to liquidate it.”

“And we are kind of stuck with it.”

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy