Privacy-Focused Crypto, Beam, to Jump Into DeFi With ‘Confidential Assets’ In Upcoming Hard Fork

Beam, one of the significant privacy-focused crypto assets, is moving into the DeFi space in a bid to disrupt the $1.5 billion booming market. The project has since confirmed its second hard fork on June 28, an upgrade that will facilitate its debut in the DeFi space. This milestone comes with several modifications in Beam’s ecosystem hence the bold move towards ‘Confidential DeFi.’

To enhance its privacy levels, Beam is built on the mimblewimble blockchain. This network designed to minimize transaction size to handle more activity, creating room for scalability. Also, it prevents one from reusing a blockchain address hence making it difficult for analytics firms to track crypto funds transferred on its chain.

With the DeFi market on a steep growth curve, Beam now wants to bring its underlying privacy features into this space. Currently, it is almost impossible to operate anonymously, given all transactions are recorded on Ethereum’s public blockchain. This also applies to the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) as well. Beam has since highlighted its goal as,

“Beam will enable true private and decentralized DeFi instruments like private stablecoins and private synthetics which will track commodity, stocks, and ETFs.”

Beam Upgrades in Preparation for DeFi

The new hardfork will facilitate the creation of Confidential Assets dubbed ‘Beam CA’ set to run within the network as independent tokens. This feature is part of Eager Electron 5.0, a recent upgrade designed for the creation of Confidential DeFi apps. Notably, the CA’s are linked with various assets ranging from commodities like gold to crypto-assets such as ETH.

Some fundamental privacy features embedded in the CA’s include sending assets via non-interactive transactions and an option to unlink transaction history. The Beam CA’s will be made available to users who can lock up to 3,000 Beam tokens, roughly $1,400 as of press date.

Apart from CA’s, the Beam hardfork lays the ground for scriptless smart contracts. Beam’s CTO, Alex Romanov, told Decrypt that the project would extend mimblewimble’s infrastructure to enable anonymity in the digital contracts,

“As a part of building a confidential DeFi platform on top of the Beam blockchain, we will enable the creation of Mimblewimble-based sidechains and integrate a wide variety of Scriptless Contracts to support escrows, collateralized debt positions, multiparty transactions, and Oracle-based settlements.”

The hardfork will also scale Beam’s DEX, which is currently available on atomic swaps as it completes the beta phase. Consequently, CA’s will be tradeable against frequently favored assets like BTC, LTC, BEAM, and QTUM once they debut.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

36% of Big Institutional Investors Own Digital Assets While 80% Find them Appealing: Fidelity

36% of large institutional investors own digital assets such as Bitcoin, according to a survey from Fidelity Investments which also runs a service that trades and secures digital assets. Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets said,

“These results confirm a trend we are seeing in the market towards greater interest in and acceptance of digital assets as a new investable asset class.

This is evident in the evolving composition of our client pipeline, which spans from crypto native funds to pensions.”

Investors in Europe are more likely to own digital assets

Across the US and Europe, a third of the survey’s 774 respondents said they own cryptocurrencies or derivatives. In Europe, 45% of institutions — including pension funds, investment advisers, family offices, and hedge funds are invested in digital assets.

In the US, only 27% of the surveyed 393 institutions said they own digital assets. Interestingly, 59% of these US investors are invested directly and only 22% have done so via futures. Although just over half of Europe’s, interest investors in the US has increased from 22% a year ago. “Europe is perhaps more supportive and accommodating,” said Jessop which could

“be just things going on in Europe right now, you got negative interest rates in many countries. Bitcoin may look more attractive because there are other assets that aren’t paying return.”

Bitcoin continues to be the digital asset of choice

The survey was conducted by Greenwich Associates between November 2019 and early March, right before the market crashed.

Over a quarter of the respondents hold Bitcoin while only 11% are holding Ether. In 2020 so far, Bitcoin is up 32% while Ethereum has gained 86%. After tumbling during the COVID-10 pandemic triggered sell-off, crypto assets have rallied.

Besides price, the survey also noticed that over the last year, there have been incumbent service providers and increasing coverage by the mainstream financial firms, all of which contribute to the upward trend seen in institutional investors’ digital asset ownership.

Volatility the main concern impeding adoption

There is still a lot of scope for growth here as almost 80% of investors surveyed find something appealing about the asset class.

Interestingly, while 25% of European investors find the fact that certain digital assets are free from government intervention to be appealing, only 10% of investors in the U.S. feel this way.

91% of those open to exposure to digital assets in the next five years expect to have at least 0.5% of their portfolio allocated to them.

The majority of institutional investors feel digital assets have a place in their portfolio while 40% believe it to be an alternative asset class and 20% as an independent asset class.

The survey found that price volatility was the top concern followed by market manipulation and lack of fundamentals to gauge appropriate value hindering digital assets’ wider institutional adoption.

But according to Jessop, these issuers are largely those that will “resolve themselves as the market infrastructure evolves.”

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Author: AnTy

SEC Files Lawsuit Against Crypto MLM Scheme, MMT, for Defrauding $12M From Investors

  • The U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) is raising charges to freeze the assets of a cryptocurrency Ponzi-like scheme.
  • Modern Money Team (MMT), ran two crypto MLM schemes collecting over $12 million in the process.

In a court filing submitted to the U.S District Court of Utah, the SEC is moving to freeze the assets of three participants in a cryptocurrency scam (Daniel F. Putnam, Jean Paul Ramirez Rico, Angel A. Rodriguez of MMT Distribution, LLC, and R & D Global, LLC), who raised $12 million in running a multi-level marketing scheme. The Ponzi-like scheme run from July 2017 through November last year even if investors continued paying to the scheme till March 2020.

Putnam’s and Rodriguez: Crypto mining scam

Modern Money Team (MMT), the Ponzi scheme, promised investors huge gains on their investments through the mining of cryptocurrencies on MMT managed mining hardware. The profits were then to be split to the investors each month. Investors from the U.S and all across the globe paid as little as $50 for a “two-year mining contract” or $2000 for a “lifetime mining contract”.

After raising $3.5 million from the “mining operations” from about 200 investors across the world, the defendants were unable to fulfill their weekly and monthly payouts at the end of November 2018 as the value of cryptocurrencies dropped sharply.

However, the top management of MMT used up a huge chunk of the users funds for personal gain. Putnam spent close to $150,000 on a condominium and spa the filing states.

Ramirez connection: MLM scam

In a fight to keep the scheme going on, MMT released a statement on pivoting their business to offer “cryptocurrency trading packages.” The filing reads,

“Investors could purchase packages ranging in price from $20 to $500 per package and in duration from one to two years. Half of the invested funds would be used to engage in trading activities, and the other half would be paid out as commissions to the MLM structure.”

Ramirez was in charge of the funds collected in the MLM claiming he invests the funds in a BitFinex account. In Nov 2019, the payments to investors stopped abruptly. MMT told investors BitFinex froze Ramirez’s account and stopped any trading on the account. Investors have not received any payments since. As a word of caution, be mindful of new emerging companies like Forsage as well.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Top UN Blockchain Expert Believes Digital Currencies And CBDC’s Pose a Threat To Bank Accounts

  • Top U.N. official says digital assets, particularly central bank-issued digital payment systems may soon replace bank accounts due to the low-interest rates.

Massimo Buonomo, a United Nations global blockchain and fintech expert, said the rising development of CBDCs and the low interest (negative) rates offered in commercial bank accounts may act as a catalyst to make corporate bank accounts obsolete.

The corporate banking system deficiencies are getting exemplified over the years and the monopoly on digital payments finally being challenged by cryptocurrencies, opening a way to the extinction of bank accounts, Buonomo explained.

In another interview on City AM this Thursday, Buonomo urged the need for adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic and the state of the current Bitcoin market.

Massimo sees the exponential growth of digital currencies development killing off the need for bank accounts completely. The global monetary system does not give any signal of getting better any time soon either. For instance, the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, called for more financial stimulus in the economy, and Trump called for a possible extension of negative interest rates.

‘CBDCs over public blockchains’

While Massimo remains a big fan of public blockchains such as BTC and ETH, he believes the implementation of a central bank based is more suitable to be used as a national currency. The scalability and congestion issues combined with the technological limitations on the legacy blockchain systems still hinder mass adoption hence the call for the central bank to step in.

Research published by the Philadelphia Fed Reserve on June 1, shared the opinion that the development of a CBDC may replace the role of commercial banks. The proposed implementation of a digital USD by the Digital Dollar Foundation, the ECB’s plans of a retail CBDC, and China’s accelerated efforts on launching a digital Yuan all culminate in a possible commercial bank death spiral as the middleman.

U.N. takes on cryptocurrency and blockchain development

United Nations has taken a keen interest in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency implementation over the past few years. The World Food Program has run tests of a blockchain food distribution system in African countries to ease the refugee aid process.

In October 2019, UNICEF opened up a donation website accepting Ethereum, ETH Foundation donating 100 ETH (~$20,000 at the time). UNICEF also opened up tests on blockchain projects in different fields – providing internet to Kyrgyzstan schools, a bounty token system, and extensive donations to blockchain projects.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Two Top Cryptocurrencies with the Worst Serial Market Performance

After the crypto winter of 2018, digital assets started recovering last year and continued the behavior into 2020.

Although still far from their all-time highs, the top cryptocurrencies have made a major recovery from their lows.

However, there are a few top cryptos that are still struggling and experiencing the worst performance. XRP and EOS are the top two cryptocurrencies that aren’t doing well. Both XRP and EOS have lost the most against BTC in 2020 so far.

The third-largest cryptocurrency dropped to a new low last month which has the digital asset to lose its position to Tether (USDT) at times. XRP/USD is currently trading at $0.20, up only 5% YTD but down almost 20% against BTC.

Source: TradingView – XRP’s 1-year price performance

In the past seven days, it recorded 7.32% losses, the biggest loser among the top 65 cryptos. In the past year as well, XRP didn’t fare well with 54% losses but several crypto joined the digital asset in these losses such as Bitcoin Cash (43%), Litecoin (59%), BNB (47%), XLM (40%), Tron (56%) and others.

XRP is also down a whopping 94.82% from its all-time hit in January 2018.

Amidst the poor price performance, the liquidity of XRP/MXN on Bitso rose to a new record of 37 million on May 31, as per Liquidity Index Bot. Similarly, a new all-time high of 15.6 million was tracked on the Australian payment corridor XRP/AUD.

Recently, Towo Labs, founded in 2019 to focus on developing the infrastructure for XRP Ledger (XRPL) and Interledger protocol released the XRP Toolkit V2. Using this Toolkit, trading orders can be executed on decentralized exchanges, XRP escrows can be created, and a connection to the XUMM wallet can be established.

Moreover, one of the amendments to XRP Ledger, Checks that was introduced in February 2018 with the 0.9.0 release may now become a reality that a UNL validator has removed a veto. This amendment is similar to paper checks and works with both XRP and any other issued currency on the XRPL.

A compliance move, it will let users exchange funds asynchronously and know the source of funds received.

EOS is another cryptocurrency not performing well, down 88% from its peak. Currently, EOS/USD is trading at $2.6, up 0.94% but down 23% against BTC.

The price of EOS, the record-breaking ICO of $4.2 billion, is now only down over 5% in the past month but also in the past year by 66%, the biggest loser among the top 40 cryptos.

Source: TradingView – EOS’s 1-year price performance

Yesterday marked the second anniversary of EOS mainnet going live.

“Happy 2nd Birthday EOS. I’m humbled and thankful to be a part of this talented global community that underpins the most performant and aligned public blockchain in the world. This year is going to be the best yet,” celebrated Brendan Blumer, CEO of Block.one, the company behind EOS.

Reportedly, Multicoin Capital that invested in EOS and shared in its thesis at that time that “decentralization requires tradeoffs in both economics and performance” has now gotten out of its position because “the governance process didn’t work.”

“I honestly have no idea what’s been happening with eos over the past year but thought they were still backing it. Still in the top 10 but going to drop out soon,” said analyst Ceteris Paribus.

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Author: AnTy

Here’s Why Bitcoin & Gold Didn’t Surge During the Enormous Volatility in Q1 2020: Report

The reason behind the safe assets like gold and bitcoin not surging despite the coronavirus pandemic creating enormous volatility in the global financial markets is the “intense and large-scale manipulation,” states a report by the University of Sussex.

The report published on May 14 points out how during the 2008 crisis, the correlation between the S&P 500 and gold was about minus 40% but this time around it was +20%.

“As funds flow out of equities one would expect demand for gold and bitcoin to increase,” said Carol Alexander, Professor of Finance at the University of Sussex Business School.

But what happened this time around is that safe havens behaved completely differently. Both gold and bitcoin fell at the same time as US equities.

Safe haven take a hit along with stock market

After the equities market crashed in March 2020, gold had its worst week in eight years when it should have been its best. This was because of the massive shorts on COMEX gold futures, she said.

S&P 500 crashed 33.9% in March and has already climbed above 3,000, up over 34% since the sell-off. The precious metal meanwhile dropped 11.7% from the multi-year lows and is currently at $1,726 per ounce.

However, while the S&P 500 only continued upwards since the fall, gold is down 1.7% from $1,756 in mid-April.

A behavior also is seen in Bitcoin.

BTC fell 63% from February high but recovered and went up 163% to above $10,000 only to now trade for around $8,850.

The report mentions that since its birth in 2009, the world’s leading digital asset has been uncorrelated with any traditional asset. But this time, bitcoin’s correlation with SPX was +63% and remains “unsettlingly” high at 40%.

Bitcoin was “driven down by some pretty obvious manipulation bots on the unregulated crypto derivatives exchanges, especially BitMEX,” Alexander said.

Rarely seen before manipulation affect the markets

On tracking the trades on both gold and bitcoin markets, it was found that there have been detailed huge sell orders on gold futures and massive pump and dump on copper futures in recent months.

Some single trades on COMEX were extremely large — innately clear contraventions of US laws on market abuse. But with the regulators busy in the current time of distress, these manipulations even the large scale ones remain off the radar of regulators. She said,

“We are witnessing financial market manipulations on a scale and frequency that have rarely been seen before.”

Also, large spoofing orders on key cryptocurrency exchanges have been detected.

But those placing these trades are not the only biggest beneficiaries of these attacks but also the holders of US dollars and US assets.

Both of them have become the primary sources of positive returns for global investors in attempts to “curtail the recent trend of some central banks to diversify their reserves away from the US dollar.”

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Author: AnTy

FalconX Exchange Raises $17M to Enhance Trading Services For Its Growing Demand

FalconX, the US-based virtual assets trading startup that offers its customers best execution via data science, has announced that it has raised $17 million from different investors.

The firm stated that the funding round comprised Coinbase Ventures, Accel, Fenbushi Capital, Accomplice VC, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners as well as Avon Ventures.

According to a press release shared with Bitcoin EXchange Guide, the money will be utilized in rolling out fresh products, enhancing FalconX’s crypto trading services, as well as, enhancing its infrastructure in order to serve the expanding institutional clients in the market.

According to FalconX CEO, Raghu Yarlagadda, the firm’s technology is set to offer the right infrastructure that will define the future of digital assets.

According to the firm, in the last 10 months, it has processed over $7 billion in worldwide trading volume, which also translates to 600% quarterly growth rate which is fueled by tight spreads, removing spillage as well as hidden fees. The firm also attributes the exponential growth to high levels of enterprise-grade security.

The San Francisco, CA-based Exchange FalconX provides digital asset trading and has developed robust liquidity via various liquidity pools or exchanges as well as proprietary dark pools. Currently, the firm boasts more than 100 financial-based institutions ranging from crypto miners, hedge funds, payment gateways, and exchanges. The firm also revealed that it was seeking licenses in different jurisdictions in efforts to expand its footprint in the world.

FalconX was started in 2018 by Prabhahar Reddy as well as Raghu Yarlagadda. Before founding FalconX, Yarlagadda, an engineer and renowned entrepreneur, held various leadership positions including an executive role at Google. Yarlagadda played a vital role in scaling Chromebooks, helping to turn it into a multi-billion dollar venture. On the other hand, Reddy previously worked at Accel, a venture capital firm.

The FalconX team is made up of experienced individuals from Silicon Valley as well as Wall Street.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Crypto.com Now Boasts $360M In Pooled Insurance to Secure Its 2M Users’ Digital Assets

Crypto.com announces a $360 million insurance fund for their offline crypto assets after partnering with institutional custody provider Ledger Vault, who offered additional insurance through Lloyd’s of London subsidiary crypto arm, Marsh.

However, the company’s CEO, Kris Marszalek, stated the journey to securing the additional funding is costing “an arm and a leg” but hopes for more competitors to enter the field to give crypto companies wiggle room in negotiation.

Crypto.com Insurance Fund Grows to $360 Million

Ledger Vault, a crypto-insurance fund secured a partnership with Lloyd’s of London Syndicate Arch back in 2019, securing a $150 million crypto insurance policy. Crypto.com, a subscriber to the system topped up $100 million through a direct plan and an additional $110 million in custody insurance from BitGo.

Marsh and Arch, the crypto arm in Lloyd’s who are leading focus on crypto-insurance enabled the Crypto.com’s additional insurance policy. James Croome, head of specie for Arch Underwriting believes current challenges in the underwriting of crypto insurance policies lie in understanding the custodial processes employed by the firms. Croome further said:

“By choosing to partner with Ledger Vault, a known service provider to insurers, Crypto.com was not only able to provide underwriters with the necessary confidence in their custodial security, but they were also able to obtain a policy in a much shorter time frame than is ordinarily the case.”

Crypto Insurance is a Hard nut to Crack

Despite successfully raising a record amount of $360 million in Crypto.com’s offline assets insurance, the CEO, Kris Marszalek, laments on the difficulty and time-consuming process, the big institutional insurance firms take. Kris said:

“These types of big firms and institutions take their sweet time of course, and boy, oh boy, do they charge an arm and a leg for this.”

The company paid for the firm’s education in its custodial services within the space. Kris hopes the field will get more competitors in offering insurance to give a leeway for crypto companies to negotiate better rates. He concluded:

“Over time, as the industry gets bigger and maybe some competitors come in, we will have slightly more leverage to negotiate.”

However, top exchanges across the field are coming up with their insurance fund in a bid to solve the current barriers of entry in the institutional crypto-insurance field. Binance, BitMEX, Huobi and other top exchanges are all taking up the “self-insure” approach, but Kris quite prefers an external player given the audits and trust by the users. He said:

“Am I a fan of the insurance industry in general? Probably not. But our customers care. They know that before the insurer gives their stamp of approval, they are going to go in and check everything.”

Crypto.com Adds Payment Plug-in on Ecwid

Currently, the crypto exchange platform has over 2 million customers on the platform, and the number looks set to grow further after recently launching crypto debit and credit card purchases in several countries. Kris explained that the latest crypto insurances were less to do with the fund growing to support the several clients they have.

Furthermore, the company recently announced a partnership with Ecwid, a Shopify kind like application, to provide crypto payment checkouts on the platform. With the platform boasting over one million customers, the Crypto.com Pay Checkout plugin is expected to further raise awareness on crypto utility.

The plugin will support top crypto payments including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), XRP and Crypto.com Coin (CRO), the platform’s native token.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Economist Survey Suggests Users Trust CBDC’s (54%) Twice As Much As Private Crypto’s (26%)

A recent survey conducted on crypto assets and investment by Crypto.com and The Economist saw participation from over 3,000 users.

The survey shed some interesting light on how the general public perceives cryptocurrencies. The most surprising part was that the majority of those surveyed expressed far more interest and confidence in Central Bank Issued Digital Currencies than more popular decentralized crypto assets.

The survey revealed:

  • 38% of the people did not consider decentralized crypto as a safe investment against
  • 26% of people who believed that decentralized crypto tokens are a safe form of investments while
  • 25% of those surveyed were in the middle and the remaining
  • 11% had no idea whether they are safe or not.

On the other hand, 54% of the surveyed people showed trust in CBDC and believed that a token issued by their government or central bank would be a more secure form of investment, while 14% believed CBDCs are not that safe. 23% of the correspondent was in-between and the remaining 9% had no idea.

Use-frequency-for-payment-methods
Source: Economist

Why People Trust CBDCs More than Decentralized Currency?

Survey respondent rating of trustworthiness

The cryptocurrency space emerged with the launch of Bitcoin after the financial crisis of 2008/9. It only gained the attention of the large public after the massive rise in 2017.

At the same time, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies received a lot of negative press, perpetuated by central banks, commercial banks and even governments who called it a mere internet bubble.

However, in the following years, these critics realized that cryptocurrencies, like any other new asset, are volatile and not just an internet bubble and thus a lot of them changed their stance including governments.

These cryptocurrencies have been advertised as an alternative form of currency by many proponents. But because of their high volatility (which has come down significantly) it still cannot be used as a direct form of exchange.

Thus a majority of the people use it as an instrument for investment diversification. Along with the volatility issues, and passive regulatory stances of governments, even in developed nations, it makes it tough for the common public to look at it as a safe bet.

The lack of knowledge among the broader public, whose only aim is to see Bitcoin rise to 2017 level highs as a quick profit maker, in addition to evolving scams involving crypto, wreaks havoc on the underlying trust in digital asset classes.

On the other hand, Central Bank Issued Digital Currencies (CBDC or DC/EP) offer that sense of security that at least their asset won’t be under the scanner of authorities.

Apart from that CBDCs are basically digitized fiat that runs on the common credit system of the country and thus people won’t have to worry about high volatility or their investment getting to zero.

Apart from that, a majority of the countries are looking to launch their own CBDCs. China currently at the top, having already started trials for its national digitized yuan. Other countries, meanwhile, have either started research for the same or are looking to study the pros and cons of launching CBDCs.

The Rate of Crypto Adoption in Developed Nations Are High

The survey found that there is a 20% deviation in the rate of adoption between developed and developing nations. Meaning that the chances of consumers in developed nations of adopting crypto was 20% higher than developing nations.

The survey revealed that 23% of the surveyed consumers in developed nations owned cryptocurrencies, while only 19% of people in developing nations had already invested in digital assets.

The study also revealed that 60% of crypto owners were aged between 18 and 38 years old while only 40% above 39 years owned crypto.

Digital Currency Survey By Economist.com

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

TradeStation Crypto Connects to ErisX To Boost Trading Liquidity; Joined Fidelity Last Week

A week after securing a similar partnership with Fidelity Digital Assets, TradeStation Crypto adds ErisX to expand its connectivity and liquidity to its platform.

On the 15th of April 2020, TradeStation Crypto, the Crypto arm of the popular TradeStation platform, announced that customers now have access to quotes and liquidity from ErisX’s spot markets for digital assets.

These supported assets include Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC). TradeStation is plugging into ErisX in order to enhance better price clarity, heavier liquidity and streamlined access to the crypto markets.

James Putra, the Director Product Strategy at TradeStation Crypto, recently stated that this new alliance was a key step towards achieving their end goal.

Further adding that its main goal was to deliver a liquidity pool in the crypto market. With the help of TradeStation Crypto’s new partnership with ErisX, the two companies will work hand-in-hand to provide mainstream access to all the crypto markets. This is also an attempt to mature the general market structure.

ErisX offers individuals an innovative platform to access digital asset spot and future markets.

Using just a single account, TradeStation Crypto has also opened a gateway to crypto markets which allow the trading of cryptocurrencies on several different markets including the exchange itself.

Through the use of the TradeStation platform as a go-between, customers will now be able to execute trades on these markets. Customers will also be able to access ErisX for spot market trading.

Thomas Chippas, the CEO of ErisX, said recently that the new collaboration was mainly aimed at simplifying access to the crypto markets, overall. Adding that it was also to ensure investors could add these digital assets to their broader portfolio.

For traders who crave a seamless and dependable trading experience for their digital assets: TradeStation is proving itself as the way to go. Just like with Fidelity Digital Assets, customers on TradeStation Crypto will also be able to access the ErisX crypto spot market.

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Author: Lujan Odera