VC Backed Startup, Deel, Partners With Coinbase to Roll Out Cryptocurrency Payroll Service

Deel, a San Francisco based crypto startup backed by Andreesen Horowitz, is launching a crypto payroll tool that would allow international workers to get paid in different cryptocurrencies.

Deel raised about $44 million in funding ($14M Series A and $30M Series B) during the ongoing pandemic and specialized in offering payroll and compliance services to remote workers internationally. The new payroll tool would allow the Deel customers to accept their payroll in top cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Ether, and XRP with instant withdrawals.

Deel has partnered with Coinbase to offer its payroll tool, and users would be required to have or create a Coinbase account to use the new services.

Dan Westgarth, Deel’s chief operating officer, explained that the motive behind creating such a payroll tool was to help international workers to save hefty remittance costs charged by traditional banks and money transfer services. He explained,

“A question on a lot of people’s tongues is: will it be widely adopted? Will the companies paying these people to be willing to opt into it?

Well, we built it in a way that the company doesn’t choose. The remote worker chooses.”

“So I can be working for an old, boring institution, run by a load of old guys who don’t understand crypto and oppose it.

They could pay me in U.S. dollars, but given I’m a Deel user and given I get paid through Deel; I could elect to have my paycheck delivered in XRP — instantly.”

Read Original/a>
Author: James W

MetaMask Launches A ‘Token Swap’ Feature In the Battle For A Share of the DeFi Market

MetaMask, the ConsenSys backed Ethereum app, introduces a token swap feature, promising the best trading fees in the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. This aims to take a share of the market from the prevailing decentralized exchanges which used Metamask connection to transfer funds to the trading wallet.

At launch, MetaMask will release the ERC-20 token swapping feature on Firefox web browser extension with other web extensions and its mobile app to come later. The token swapping feature will source its data feeds from multiple decentralized exchanges and their aggregators to offer the best prices and gas fees on the platform.

“We get the best prices because we simultaneously aggregate the most liquidity sources (DEXs) and many different methods for splitting the order across the DEXs (aggregators),” Jacob Cantele, head of product at MetaMask.

The token swapping feature is set to open a gateway to users to directly swap their tokens without the need for a third-party service. Previously, a user needed to connect their MetaMask wallet to a DEX such as Paraswap or Uniswap to swap their ERC 20 tokens to obtain them. With the direct swap, users will not choose to transfer their tokens to another party – reducing the number of steps.

The wallet will support data feeds from Uniswap, Paraswap, Kyber Network, 0x exchange, and 1.inch exchange, among other decentralized platforms.

According to ConsenSys, the fees will range across users depending on the order size, with trading fees expected to range from 0.03% to 0.085% on the platform.

The latest developments follow the Metamask mobile wallet’s launch on iOS and Android, allowing users to buy Ethereum (ETH) using Apple Pay directly. The developments will be key to onboard more customers, recently announcing they had reached 1 million active digital wallet users.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Overstock’s Crypto Trading Subsidiary, tZERO, Hits Record High Volumes in August

  • tZERO, the crypto trading app backed by retail giant Overstock, has announced new record volumes in August.
  • This digital securities platform noted that both their crypto trading app and blockchain-built alternative trading system (ATS) experienced the highest activity since they were launched back in June 2019.

The month of August saw tZERO’s user base grow by 11% compared to July, marking an increase of more than 1,000 new users on the digital asset app. Notably, this year has been relatively bullish for tZERO with a total of 143% growth in user base since it began. The platform is now looking to give traditional brokers a run for their money when it comes to offering digital securities trading services to Wall Street.

Going by last month’s stats, tZERO’s digital asset app grew by around threefold in traded dollar volumes. The reported figure, which is $22 million, is a jump from July’s $7.6 million, while the year-over-year growth stood at 684%. Saum Noursalehi, the CEO of tZERO, further highlighted significant milestones by the project,

“In addition to delivering record trading volume on the tZERO ATS in August, the St. Regis Aspen (ASPD) digital security began trading … These wins, coupled with FINRA’s approval of tZERO Markets, are exciting, and we look forward to offering our crypto customers the opportunity to open brokerage accounts at zero Markets.”

The platform is now incentivizing activity with its recently rolled out zero-fee structure for publicly-traded digital securities; private ones, however, retained the previous fee structure. Nonetheless, the project is not yet out of the words when it comes to product scaling and attracting heavyweight investors to compete favorably against traditional brokerages.

Apart from the crypto trading app, tZERO has been actively involved in the tokenization of assets, not limited to real estate and film productions. It is also quite noteworthy that Overstock began accepting BTC payments as early as 2014, giving the retailer a head start in the space.

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Reserve Bank of Australia Sees No Rush in Launching A CBDC; Aussie Banknotes Are Working

As other nations are rushing to launch central bank backed digital currency dubbed CBDC, Australia is not joining the bandwagon.

As per the Australian local news platforms, the Reserve Bank of Australia recent payments paper indicates that the bank is taking a cautious stand when it comes to CBDCs and privately issued stablecoins.

According to the australian central bank, there is no urgent case or need to introduce a CBDC in the country. The regulator argues that the country has an efficient, real-time payment platform which eliminates the need of a CBDC.

In addition, the regulator notes that the use of cash for transactions is decreasing in the country as Australian citizens are getting rid of banknotes just like in other countries like Sweden.

According to the central bank, despite the COVID-19 crisis in the country, the demand for cash has gone up. In this regard, RBA has committed to continue making it easy for Australians to access banknotes “for as long as Australians wish to keep using them.”

The Reserves Bank’s paper also explored the projects being carried in China, Sweden and Canada – some of the countries which have taken the CBDC initiatives proactively.

When it comes to Sweden, the RBA says that the country has witnessed a significant decrease in the use of cash for a number of years hence the need for Riksbank to come up and test the use of e-krona.

In Canada’s case, the country’s central bank has been preparing itself to provide CBDC when the opportune time comes. The Canadian central bank has envisioned two scenarios when CBDC can be beneficial – a collapse in use of fiat money for normal transactions as well as a threat to the country’s monetary policy as a result of growth and development of privately issued digital money.

The RBA’s report also touches on Facebook’s Libra stating that it still remains a dream and is following closely on whether it be granted regulatory approval to operate in various jurisdictions.

The Australian central bank also opined that the Chinese CBDC project which is at an advanced stage is largely informed by the popularity of private-sector e-money wallets like WeChat and Alipay.

Read Original/a>
Author: Joseph Kibe

TD Ameritrade Backed ErisX, Joins Silvergate Exchange Network for Seamless Fiat-to-Crypto

ErisX, the TD Ameritrade backed crypto exchange, has tapped into the Silvergate Bank Bitcoin-friendly services. This Chicago based exchange whose niche is institutional investors will now offer its clients more options when it comes to crypto account management. It joins the likes of Anchorage, Bitstamp, CEX, Coinbase, Gemini, and Kraken, which was onboarded to the Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN) back in November 2019.

The move will allow ErisX clients to access deposit and withdrawal facilities based on the U.S dollar ecosystem. Compared to the Fedwire system, SEN proposes a higher value according to ErisX CEO, Thomas Chippas:

“If you think about the traditional means of moving fiat today, most institutional market participants would utilize the Fedwire system … You’re talking about the availability of getting your money around 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m., depending on the bank.”

He went on to note that the underlying fees are less costly than a Fedwire transfer. Going by this value proposition, it is not surprising that SEN has attracted a significant clientele within the past year. The platform’s transaction activity shot up to 31,405 in Q1 2020 compared to 14, 400 during the last quarter of 2019; It is also an improvement from the 7,097 transactions recorded in Q1 of the same year.

Notably, Silvergate, which is listed in the NYSE, has further ventured into product development based on crypto assets. The firm recently scaled access to SEN leverage, a financial product structured to offer U.S dollar-denominated loans with Bitcoin pegged as collateral. ErisX CEO has since hinted that they are also evaluating this product but are yet to decide to bring to the exchange’s clients.

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Ethereum Layer 2 Solution, SKALE Network, Launches Its First Phase On Mainnet

SKALE – an open-source scaling solution backed by Gemini exchange founders Winklevoss brothers for scaling the Ethereum network – has started to roll out the first phase of its mainnet.

The Web 3.0 centered startup has been in the development mode for years with backing from the likes of Arrington Capital, Winklevoss Capital, Consensys, and more.

The main goal of the startup is to help decentralized applications (DApps) on the Ethereum network to scale better. The startup offers an elastic validator which can be utilized by developers and is fully compatible with the second-largest blockchain by market cap. In the first phase of the rollout, SKALE promises 2,000 transactions per second along with sub-second block time and also offers smart contract compatibility.

The second-phase rollout would see the addition of new features such as bounty and staking rewards facilitated via the Consensys Activate Platform. In contrast, the third and final phase rollout would see the removal of all kinds of transfer and exchange restrictions.

Jack O’Holleran, CEO of SKALE labs, commented on the first-phase rollout of SKALE protocol and how it would save a ton of cost and time by offering dapp scaling solutions. He said:

“SKALE pricing supports Ethereum by giving dapps their blockchain with a charge for the amount of server space over some time, rather than by transaction. On SKALE, it will be thousands of times less expensive to run transactions while not losing sync with Ethereum.”

The Second and Third Phase Rollout Will Coincide With Consensys Activate Platform Launch

Consensys is all set to launch a token sale platform called Consensys Activate which, would be a more structured and secure form of fundraising platform as an alternative to the scam ridden ICO boom in 2017. The phase two and three rollouts of SKALE protocol will coincide with the launch of the Consensys fundraising platform.

The ICO boom of 2017 saw many new projects and tokens being launched with millions and billions in raised funds. However, a majority of those projects turned out to be a scam that never made it to any exchange.

Consensys Activate platform would eliminate the fraudulent factor associated with the ICOs, where the platform would require strict identity verification and would require investors to have at least a basic knowledge of the project they are investing in.

Consensys Activate also aims to eradicate the technical complexities involved with buying and managing a new token. The platform promises to bring a simplified user interface for its platform allowing users to stake tokens and interact with the protocol easily.

O’Holleran while talking about the upcoming Activate platform explained what would be new with the platform saying:

“We have been working towards this moment for over two and a half years and, we could not have gotten to this point without such an amazing team, community, and supporters. The best thing about a network launch is that it marks not the end, but the end of the beginning.”

Read Original/a>
Author: Hank Klinger

Bitcoin (BTC) Has A “Really Good Chance” Of Becoming A Global Reserve Currency, Analyst Says

Bitcoin (BTC) is increasingly gaining its fame as a favorable replacement to the current fiat backed monetary systems. One of the latest top personality to speak on the potential of BTC posing a threat to the current financial world is top selling author and financial analyst, Max Keiser.

An interview by Max Keiser on RT to CEO of e-commerce company BuildDirect, Jeff Booth, revealed the current challenges in the financial system and the importance of digital assets such as Bitcoin.

Bitcoin likely to become world reserve currency

The increasing global expansionary monetary policy led by the Federal Reserve’s $4.3 trillion monetary injections into the economy is raising tension on possible widespread inflation. Bitcoin is built to solve such challenges in the current legacy financial systems through its deflationary policy and Booth believes this may propel it into a world beating reserve currency.

“First of all, I see Bitcoin as a likely, a very likely candidate for a world reserve currency. So, I see it has a really good chance of winning over time as it works on a network effect.”

As the value of fiat currencies erodes due to governments expansionary policies, Booth said the need for a better system will emerge. He further said,

“Bitcoin seems to be that one that’s emerging as something that people trust more.”

Founder of BlockchainEDU, Jeremy Gardner, recently weighed in on the current value that Bitcoin holds against a failing financial system. Gardner tweeted,

So what are the predictions for Bitcoin?

Bitcoin (BTC) dropped below $9,000 for the first time in three weeks causing a bearish mood over the current market. The volatility of the top crypto coin has always been a factor to focus on and a number of analysts have made their predictions.

Chris Burniske, Partner at Place Holders, a decentralized applications VC firm, predicts a $1 trillion dollar market cap for Bitcoin, a sizable amount to be considered a global reserve. Reaching this level will require the price of Bitcoin to touch $50,000, or approximately a 450% increase from current market price.

While the long term prospects of Bitcoin look bullish, the price of BTC in the near term may drop to $6000 level after a fake breakout to $10,400 at the start of the month, BEG reported.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Trustless Bridge Between BTC & ETH Remains a Pipe Dream; tBTC Paused Two Days After Mainnet

“tBTC lasted on mainnet two days.” That’s right, the Ethereum-based token tBTC which was backed 1:1 by bitcoin has been paused just two days after its public launch.

A sidechain, tBTC allows to move BTC in and out of Ethereum without a trusted counterparty. As the project lead Matt Luongo explained, “think cool dApps and new privacy tools for BTC.”

Luongo shared the news via Twitter earlier today that they have pulled the stop and are not helping the users with their funds.

But the team lead was “glad” that they caught it this early as it means the depositors’ funds are saved. The smart contract bug was found by Antonino Salazar Cardozo, Thesis’ head of engineering and confirmed by James Prestwich of Summa. “It’s not so bad. Finding things early means protecting users,” said Luongo.

As for what happened, the team will be posting a deep post-mortem once everything is cleaned up but in short, “Smart contracts are very hard.”

They have taken down the dapp and are now helping users recover funds in Discord. From a maximum of 11 BTC, 7 are pegged in, shared Luongo. Those holding tBTC are asked to visit here.

On May 16, Luongo was the “proud” first tBTC minter on mainnet. Because the system is young and most of the minters were active community members, they are expecting to get this all sorted out in a couple of days only.

“All depositor funds are safe now- but they might not be if they aren’t withdrawn within the 10-day new deposit pause,” warned Luongo.

An ambitious attempt failed

The idea with tBTC was to bring BTC over to ETH network via decentralized custodians.

Keep Network, an Ethereum-based system for storing data off-chain and Summa that provides tools for cross-chain communication are the team behind this project.

Unlike BitGo’s Wrapped BTC (WBTC), tBTC took a unique approach to bring a decentralized version of pegged BTC to Ethereum’s DeFi. As we reported, its launch also saw double the amount of BTC locked in DeFi last week while the amount of Ether locked in DeFi continues to drop since February.

With tBTC, it was possible to mint tBTC directly on the Ethereum blockchain in a trustless manner and use their held BTC to generate yield in DeFi.

If tBTC had succeeded “in bringing significant BTC liquidity into DeFi, DeFi could grow significantly” given bitcoin’s market cap, noted Token Daily. It had hoped to reflect in Ether’s price and benefitted in the form of having its interoperability capabilities enforced with other chains.

But it would have also threatened to replace ETH as the main collateral for DeFi protocols.

But now that tBTC isn’t running anymore, its advantages and risks are all fruitless, for now.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Libra’s Permissionless Blockchain Objective Pushed as They Face Regulatory Woes

  • Facebook backed Libra have moved away from their fully permissionless concept due to regulatory woes with the financial watchdogs.
  • Ran Goldi gave Libra a five to ten-year timeline to actually achieve their goal. They recently appointed a new CEO who they believed has the expertise and experience to help Libra launch legally.

Ran Goldi, the CEO of First Group, has now revealed that Libra might not be able to realize their Permissionless Blockchain ideology. At least not just yet. Adding that it might take another decade or half-decade to achieve this as he hosted the Consensus 2020 event earlier this week.

The CEO, who has been a major proponent of Libra, reiterated that the stablecoin could set the basis from which other Coins would be launched. The Permissionless concept would have to be put on hold due to the regulatory crunches posed. They had envisioned achieving this on a 5-year timeline but have been forced to abandon their plans until the financial watchdogs could realize that the DeFi sphere was actually capable of self-regulation.

Banking the Unbanked

When quizzed about what type of ecosystem could be developed around Libra, he was quick to cite that mostly remittance applications would benefit from Libra. This is as they venture into developing an application that would ‘bank the unbanked’.

He also conversed with Michael Shaulov CEO of FireBlocks on why they had no commitment to joining Libra despite their competitors Anchorage had already onboarded Libra. FireBlocks provides expertise in secure infrastructure (Storage and transfer) for financial institutions that are in cryptocurrencies and Blockchain. Servicing around 50 institutions facilitating over $7 billion in transactions.

Mr. Shaulov expressed his concern that they hadn’t exactly determined how joining Libra’s fold would be especially beneficial to FireBlocks.

“…we sort of realized that actually it’s not clear that being part of the Association would really help us.”

New CEO to help with regulatory crunches

Notably, the Libra association revealed their newly appointed CEO during a May 6th announcement. Mr. Levey, the former Chief Legal Officer at HSBC, boasts of vast experience in both private and government sectors. He has served in the government as the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence under both Obama and Bush regimes.

He has been touted as the one to steer Libra from the regulatory crunches and help them launch stablecoins legally according to a Libra board member.

“…bringing his extensive expertise to combine technology innovation with a robust compliance and regulatory framework”.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Central Bank of Argentina to Test IOV Labs PoC Blockchain Clearance System Built on RSK

  • Blockchain Proof of Concept (PoC) by IOV labs backed by Argentinian Central Bank (BRCA) already undergoing tests seeking approval.
  • It is set to be onboarded by big players in the Argentinian financial realm including the central bank.

Reports have surfaced that IOV labs – the Blockchain solutions firm – has developed a proof of concept for a Blockchain supported clearing system. The project is now undergoing testing, which is being carried out by the Argentinian Central Bank (BCRA). The BCRA will need to approve this system before it’s to be used by the financial institutions.

The system was designed to streamline payments, rendering them more efficient, while increasing transaction traceability as it makes its way to the intended destination.

Diego Gutiérrez Zaldívar, CEO of IOV Labs, was confident that the incorporation of its cutting-edge tech, with the legacy financial systems, would put them in the big boys’ league.

He remarked especially now faced by a global pandemic there was a need to fill the gap with tech to better serve their people:

“We need now more than ever to use technology in order to optimize processes and provide better services to our citizens.”

Greenlighted By Industry Titans

Most notably, if the network is approved, it will be onboarded by industry titans like Santander and BBVA, the BCRA several clearinghouses and various financial institutions. Despite not being fully approved the BCRA cited that it could be used as an alternative meanwhile.

Blockchain for Non-Cryptocurrency uses

The BCRA has been at the forefront in adopting new tech including Blockchain and others beyond cryptocurrencies.

They were keen to dissuade their citizens from using cryptocurrencies as a source of value; citing fraud concerns in 2014. The scope of the project would also shed a light on other uses of Blockchain, zeroing in on smart contracts.

The project is similar to a previous one:

Gasnet, by the country’s national gas regulator, Gasnor smart contract-based certification platform. They supply gas to more than 2 million residents. Running on an enterprise model of the RSK smart contract, Gasnet was developed to bolster Argentina’s gas certification processes.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera