AI Startup SenseTime Partners With Chinese Central Bank In Development Of Digital Yuan

The well known artificial intelligence (AI) firm SenseTime, valued at $7.5 billion, has officially partnered with China’s digital currency research institute, an offshoot of the Chinese Central Bank, to help in accelerating the creation of digital yuan.

SenseTime, which is based in Hong Kong, announced that the deal will see the startup offer its expertise on accelerating, innovating as well as implementing the applications for AI technology within the Chinese financial sector.

SenseTime and China’s Central Bank – The Finer Print

According to the deal, SenseTime will collaborate with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to enhance risk control as well as operational capacity among the financial institutions across China.

SenseTime will now consult the Digital Currency Research Institute in the creation of a joint research division that will oversee the adoption of AI within the financial space in China.

SenseTime stated:

“The two parties will jointly establish a research and innovation body, take application scenarios as guidance, jointly develop applications of AI technology in financial scenarios, and accelerate the advancement of AI innovation research in the financial field.”

SenseTime’s Background of Exciting Innovation

Established in 2014, SenseTime provides expert services on facial recognition as well as images but on a large scale. The startup has since attracted numerous clients and partners over time such as Weibo, Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Huawei.

The firm is backed by Alibaba, which led SenseTime’s funding round with an investment of $600 million back in 2018. SenseTime is also backed by big names such as Temasek Holdings (Singapore’s state investment company), SoftBank Vision Fund, Qualcomm Ventures, and others.

China has been keen on the introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), and is currently conducting a pilot program of its digital yuan in four cities including Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu, and Xiongan.

The American restaurant giants McDonald’s and Starbucks are some of the firms involved in digital yuan piloting in Xiong’an, for example. Reportedly, China is aiming to introduce the use of digital yuan across the country in May 2020.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Crypto Market Finally Out of “Extreme Fear,” Altcoin Market Cap Pushing With No Sign of Stopping

In the past week, the overall market added $25 billion while in the past month, the market recovery saw the inflow of $36 billion.

Market sentiments are making a shift with the Crypto Fear and Greed Index finally out of the “Extreme Fear” after seven long weeks.

Crypto Fear and Greed Index
Source: Crypto Fear and Greed Index

The world’s leading cryptocurrency made a strong comeback as it jumped over $7,700. However, this didn’t spell more gains for altcoins.

Altcoins that have been enjoying gains while BTC was trading flat, slowed down after a hike in the price of bitcoin. Today, the market is either red or barely in the green.

“As is quite often the case, alts turn green for several days, bullish alt sentiment comes back only for them to get slammed down again by a significant BTC move,” said TraderXO.

Losers and Winners

When it comes to YTD gains, altcoins are leading with Bitcoin recording only +5% returns. Among the top cryptocurrencies, BSV (103%), Tezos (101%), Link (92%), Dash (92%), and Ethereum (50%) are leading the pack.

In the mid-cap cryptos, Kyber Network (261%), Hedera Hashgraph (153%), ICON (141%), Digibyte (139%), DigixDAO (118%), Steem (75%), and Enjin Coin (73%) are market movers.

Amidst this, out of nowhere in a typical altcoin fashion, HIVE jumped 500% in a week. Today, it climbed to its all-time high at $0.995 only to dump over 25%.

Earlier this month, Steem witnesses implemented a soft fork to freeze eight accounts collectively holding 17.6 million STEEM and were Hive network supporters. Angered by the acquisition by the Tron Foundation, a portion of the Steem community underwent a contentious split to build a new chain called Hive.

Now when it comes to the percentage since their ATH, Zcash is the biggest loser, down over 99% the same as Pundi X and Verge.

Other top cryptos doing extremely bad are Lisk (97.2%), IOTA (96.9%), Cardano (96.6%), NEO (95.7%), Dash (95.3%), Tron (95.2%), XRP (94.9%), XLM (93.3%), Monero (89.6%), Litecoin (88.2%), EOS (88%), VeChainThor (84%), and BAT (82%).

Bitcoin meanwhile is down only 61.5% since its all-time high. Also, since 2017 high, it made attempts to reach closer to this level.

Will altcoins return to form?

While bitcoin had three rallies in the past, each time making a new high, altcoins had experienced only one rally in 2017, as such, it is to be seen if they will make new ATH or end up being a failure.

“I can’t help but wonder if some of these 2017 bubble large caps simply never return to form,” said trader Jonny Moe.

An analyst with the pseudonym Pentoshi took to twitter to share why he is reducing his exposure to altcoins in favor of bitcoin.

He explained that with halving coming, the direction the BTC moves in, spike, or dump, altcoins will follow. With new CME contracts starting and altcoins following the same patterns while remaining coordinated, it’s best to stay away.

Also, altcoin pumps when bitcoin is near the .618 fibs are typically short-lived, he added.

“Being over-exposed to alts at this inflection point, seems risky,” said the analyst. He is cautioning to wait and manage the risk before jumping back in altcoins.

But not everyone is bearish on altcoins…

“Many of these Altcoin pumps won’t make sense. They will just keep going, with no explanation whatsoever. Don’t question it. Embrace the pump in its full glory,” said Bitlord.

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Author: AnTy

Libra to Become a Reality in India? Facebook Invests $5.7 Billion in Jio Platform

In its biggest deal since WhatsApp, Facebook Inc. will invest $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms. The Tech giant will buy about 10% of the digital assets controlled by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani to become the largest minority shareholders in the company.

This is the US company’s attempt to gain a broader foothold in WhatsApp’s biggest global market and connect the platform with e-commerce venture JioMart, which would rival Amazon and Walmart in the country.

Jio Platforms of Reliance Industries brings Jio’s digital apps, ecosystems, and wireless platform together under one umbrella. This partnership will allow Facebook to expand in India which is rapidly embracing online payment and e-commerce. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook video,

“India is a special place for us.”

“We’re also committing to work together on some critical projects that we think are going to open up a lot of opportunities for commerce in India.”

The companies will start working with Indian regulators to seek approval now that the deal is formally announced. Back in 2019, Facebook ran into opposition from Indian regulators when it tried to launch a payments feature inside WhatsApp regarding encrypted content regulation.

India Supports Tech-Issued Digital Currency

Facebook has about 250 million users in India while Whatsapp has more than 400 million. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been aiming to introduce a digital currency in the country.

Zuckerberg has long been looking at the market for his so-called cryptocurrency project, Libra. Now, this big step might aid him in finally introducing his stablecoin to the South Asian country’s half a billion internet users.

The good thing for the tech giant is unlike the developed markets, emerging markets have confidence in tech-issued digital currency.

Developed-Markets
Source: OMFIF Report

Recently, the Supreme Court of India also lifted the restrictions put by the Reserve Bank of India on banks and financial institutions that prevented them from providing services to crypto exchanges and businesses.

India’s crypto community is welcoming this new partnership as Nischal Shetty, founder of Binance acquired crypto exchange WazirX said,

“Clear signs of Crypto emerging as a popular technology in India. Facebook investing $5.7B in Jio is great news for Indian Crypto ecosystem. FB has Libra. Jio has been working on Blockchain Crypto tech. Libra may become a reality in India.”

CryptoKanoon
Source: cryptokanoon

Facebook has also been making changes to the whitepaper of Libra as it continues to run into regulatory hurdles. Last week, the Libra Association announced that the stablecoin will be backed by individual national currencies.

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Author: AnTy

RippleNet Helps Coinone Transfer Break Into the $33B South Korean Remittance Market

  • South Korea’s lucrative $33 billion remittance industry mainly dominated by players from the banking industry saw new players such as Coinone Transfer after new regulation was implemented in 2017.
  • SBI Ripple backed remittance company boasts of cheaper and faster real-time cross border money transfers.

The banking industry in Korea had majorly dominated remittance services in South Korea before 2017. The new regulation that came into effect in 2017 granted non-banking institutions access to a slice of the $33 billion pie.

This resulted in the launching of Coinone Transfer which was a brainchild of the SBI Ripple Asia partnership. This was a strategic partnership between RippleNet and SBI holdings to give birth to South Korea’s first remittance service that was supported by Blockchain.

Migrant Workers in South Korea

Their scope would at the moment focus on foreigners who work in South Korea and yet have to send money to their families. Cross border money transfers proved to a timeous process as Camille Jeong, Business Development Manager at Coinone explained. They had to physically visit bank brick and mortar premises, marking the beginning of the long and expensive process where they had to queue to fill in paperwork and wait for as long as one week for payments to reflect on destination accounts. This was especially harder for those working in rural setups.

The unique partnership also gave SBI access to RippleNet’s wide array of partners located in Thailand, Philippines, and Sri Lanka in their fold. This resulted in lower operational costs and thus translated to transfer fees lower than 1%. Jeong explained that this also trimmed the transactional period as they were in real-time.

They then embarked on a marketing spree to convince the people to use their platform. This they achieved by using three animated characters that would represent their remittance superheroes as Jeong cited. The response from the market was massive as their transaction volumes have grown by 50% monthly since. They also enjoyed up to 80% client retention rates meaning they got a lot of repeat business from satisfied clients.

Korean Students Studying Abroad Next

Notably, they now want to zero in on another type of clientele that also relies heavily on cross border money transfers. Parents based in South Korea whose kids study abroad and have to rely on money transfers to pay for school tuition and upkeep as highlighted by Jeong. Coinone would be able to offer reliable remittance services across the globe in the US, UK, Hong Kong, and even Singapore

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Author: Lujan Odera

Block.One Injects $150M Into Voice Social Media Platform to Fund Independent Operations

EOS blockchain protocol publisher that ran a $4 Billion ICO, Block.one, is injecting $150 million to enhance independent operations of its Voice social media platform that was introduced in June 2019.

According to a press statement released on Thursday, the money will be used to kick off Voice’s independent operations away from its parent company, Block.one. Voice has already started the process of independent operations as it hired Salah Zelatimo as the CEO in January who previously worked as the global digital head in Forbes. Following Zelatimo’s hiring, a public beta was launched last month.

According to the press release, Selah will lead the initiative to establish Voice as a separate enterprise and the $150 million will be used in the expansion of operations and building up of the firm’s workforce. Block.One had already spent roughly $150M last year getting the platform ready to go live. This doesn’t include the $30M they spent buying Voice.com.

Voice debuted in summer last year and at that time, it was hyped as the social media platform which gets rid of bots. During the launching time, it was touted as the social media network where real people rather than bots will post as well as share content in order to be rewarded with tokens.

The app aims at enhancing authenticity in the social media space which has been elusive in the recent past. Users will have to produce their identity details for verification. After verification, users will then be awarded Voice tokens every day which they then use to push certain posts. Users can also win extra tokens when they create original content on the platform.

Zalatimo stated that Voice is set to be a true content marketplace and the user will be in total control of the content which will be promoted. Members will also not be afraid of being wrong as the community can hold each other accountable. Zalatimo said:

“By designing a platform where every user has gone through Know Your Customer (KYC) verification and real identities are attached to the original content being shared, we are empowering users to hold each other accountable.”

Through the use of tokens, Voice aims at enhancing transparency in the content promotion process.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Bears To Push Bulls Out, Expecting XRP to Crash Another 30%: Crypto Trader

The fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap of $4.3 billion, as per Messari, XRP is currently in the green by 1.14% while trading at $0.157.

On March 13, XRP took a big fall, falling to $0.128, that had the digital asset down over 97% from its all-time high of $3.92 hit in January 2018.

In the past month, the crypto asset has lost over 40% of its value however, it managed to recover some gains in the past 7 days. But XRP isn’t out of the woods yet and is expected to see new lows soon.

The crypto asset has fallen to its three-year lows but according to trader Credible Crypto, the price of XRP will be making its way to below $0.11. XRP is “progressing beautifully” to his over 30% drop target, a level which according to the trader is a buy the dip zone.

Trader with the pseudonym Livercoin is also expecting another big 30% drop. For now, it is holding the 2500 sats support “strong” but bulls will finally lose to bears as per the trader.

In the BTC market, XRP has been down throughout.

Intermex to Test XRP But Won’t Use RippleNet in Core Markets

In other news, Ripple partner Intermex will begin testing the viability of XRP as a bridge currency later this year. The company is building out its network into other corridors, where it would require on-demand liquidity.

Here, they “can use XRP as kind of a pivot currency to swap US dollars for pesos, 24/7. And it’s early days, but we would expect to be testing that later this year.”

However, the company that specializes in payments in the US and Latin America recently shared that it doesn’t not plan to use RippleNet in its primary corridor between the US and Mexico. CEO Bob Lisy said,

“Ripple will not be an answer for places like Mexico. We’re very proud about the relationships we have there… We have very tight relationships that strategically [set] plans and objectives with those payers. And so you won’t really see us leveraging Ripple in our core markets.”

Tony Lauro, the chief financial officer shared recently that the company is looking at Ripple for several other products.

As for RippleNet, the hub that connects financial institutions, it “will enable us to onboard new payers faster than we would if we were doing direct connections to each one,” said Lauro.

The company is likely to utilize Ripple’s payment solutions in the emerging markets, where there is less liquidity and efficiency.

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Author: AnTy

Increased Safeguards Is Needed For Crypto Growth As Nearly $10B Has Been Stolen: KPMG

  • Almost $10 Billion in Crypto Stolen by Hackers Since 2017
  • KPMG says the crypto market needs to improve security when it comes to digital assets, seeing the industry is currently valued at $245 billion and growing.

Ever since 2017, hackers have stolen over $9.8 billion in digital assets due to poorly written code or lax security, according to a KPMG report from Monday.

Furthermore, the accounting firm added that the adoption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) by institutional investors has increased competition amongst investors seeking to occupy a place in portfolios.

This competitive climate means that the safeguarding of tokens to be even more important than it used to be.

Institutional Investors Don’t Take Risks When It Comes to Owning Crypto Assets

The co-author of the KPMG report and co-leader of the crypto asset services at KPMG, Sal Ternullo, said that:

“Institutional investors especially will not risk owning crypto assets if their value cannot be safeguarded in the same way their cash, stocks and bonds are.”

Coinbase Inc., Intercontinental Exchange Inc, Fidelity Investments and Gemini Trust Co. are the first companies to ever offer crypto custody services. Just like a type of bond or cash, cryptocurrencies are bearers instruments, which means they’re owned solely by the bearer.

What is actually being held is a dedicated private key, which consists of a string of characters from a digital wallet or a piece of paper.

If the paper or the key is lost/stolen, the asset is lost. For this reason, key custody represents a challenge for firms that have been offering traditional financial services until now.

KYC and AML Rules to Be Abided By

This is what the KPMG report adds:

“As crypto-assets proliferate, custodians have a tremendous opportunity to profit — both by earning management fees for delivering straightforward custodian services, and also by offering adjacent services only possible in the emerging crypto ecosystem.”

It’s important for the industry to create stricter rules when it comes to storing cryptocurrencies, the accounting firm adds. Much like with other financial transactions, brokers and banks need to respect the know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) laws.

According to KPMG, even the already established financial institutions that have the most mature compliance programs have to reconsider the ways they’re offering security for crypto assets.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Revolut Crypto Investing App Valuated at $5.5 Billion After New $500M Funding Round

The UK-based digital bank Revolut is now valued at $5.5 billion, after raising $500 million in its latest series D funding round. Raising a total of $836 million across the 4 funding rounds. This makes it one of the EU’s most valuable fintech apps that is crypto-friendly.

The Revolut app has been used to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC) since 2017 while adding Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and XRP in 2018. In December last year, it received in Lithuania a banking license and started offering its customers prepaid cards together with banking services.

Funding Round Led by TCV

Revolut’s new funding round was led by TCV, the Silicon Valley-based venture capital group that invests in the top tech players on the market, like Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb.

The digital bank’s new $5.5 billion evaluation ties to the record set by a private Swedish fintech firm Klarna, back in 2019. Revolut has more than 10 million users. Aside from offering stock trading and cryptocurrency features, it’s now looking to obtain a UK banking license and to provide lending services.

The UK Offers the Most Lucrative Market for Neobanks

The market in the UK has proven to be very lucrative for disrupter banks, also known as “neobanks“. Customers of neobanks have increased in numbers from 7.7 million to 19.6 million in 2019, says an Accenture report from Monday.

If Revolut manages to clear its path with regulators, it will also launch in the US during the first half of this year, while also trying to expand into the Asian and Latin markets.

More Traction for Crypto and Neobanks

The co-founder of another UK-based neobank, Sterling’s Mark Hipperson, has plans to launch another banking venture called Ziglu, in 2020’s Q1. Ziglu will offer multiple fiat and cryptocurrencies balances under one account and will have a Mastercard debit card linked to it. Hybrid banks that combine banking with cryptocurrency transactions are becoming more popular with the latest developments in fintech.

For example, Coinbase announced just last week that it have become an official Visa Principal Member and collaborations with crypto-based banks such as Syngum and Switzerland’s SEBA.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Crypto Related Losses Skyrocket Despite Hacking Crimes Dropping Significantly

  • According to a Q4, 2019 survey by CipherTrace users have lost 4.5 billion in Ponzi scheme and fraud scams while hacking-related scams have significantly dropped
  • Banks have also fallen prey as US banks unsuspectingly facilitate illegal transactions

Losses in 2019 shot up by 160% despite hacking crimes dropping by 66%, this was according to a 2019 Q4 report by CipherTrace, a cryptocurrency intelligence firm. Amounting to $4.5 million just in the previous year.

Dave Jevans, CipherTrace CEO, stated they had seen a major bump in crimes where the unsuspecting users were duped by Ponzi schemes, mainly set up by people inside the system. This would make investors pull the plug on the cryptocurrency investments that are hurting the systems built around digital assets.

“We noticed a significant uptick in malicious insiders scamming unsuspecting victims or leaching on their users through Ponzi schemes.”

A common use case is the crypto wallet and exchange PlusToken Ponzi scheme where unsuspecting clients lost $3 billion in a single scam. There has also been the Canadian Exchange, QuadrigaCX, clients lost close to $135 million after the founder of the company passed away suddenly.

Banks are Unsuspecting perpetrators

Banks have also been victims as they have unknowingly facilitated illegal cryptocurrency transactions of up to $2 billion in US banks alone. This could be mainly attributed to the fact that it has become harder for traditional financial systems to embrace emerging technology while steering clear of crypto relations. This is as banks globally continue to face fines levied by Anti-money laundering (AML) authorities of about $6.2 billion.

Jevans further explained that banks need to come up with alternative solutions of ridding their systems of illegal dealings that would finance terrorism as they had previously underestimated the percentage of digital assets that are to be found in their accounts and systems.

“Like them or not, banks have a lot more virtual assets lurking in their accounts and payment networks than most in the industry had previously thought.

Banks need new capabilities to ferret out illicit MSBs [Money Service Businesses], terrorist financing, and other major sources of risk.”

Illegal crypto merchants have also been key in funneling funds to terrorist fronts. They are usually connected to high-risk exchanges and hide the transactions by intentionally using the wrong merchant category codes (MCC) the report further read.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Investors Increasingly Bullish As New Money Is Flowing Into Bitcoin

  • Bitcoin realized value hits ATH at $103.5 billion, up 15% from Dec. 2017 when the price was at its peak
  • The premium on bitcoin futures means investors across all platforms increasingly bullish for the upcoming months

The amount paid for all bitcoin has reached an all-time high (ATH) of $103.5 billion, as per the data provided by Glassnode, which is up about 15% from the value when the Bitcoin price hit its peak at $20,000 in December 2017.

Currently, Bitcoin is trading at a five-month high of $10,138, hitting $10k for the first time since October 2019.

Created by crypto analytics firm, Coin Metrics, realized cap is an alternative approach to market cap as a measure of network valuation. The realized cap values all the coins in the network based on the last time they were moved.

This is unlike market capitalization which uses the last traded price and multiplies it by the coins in circulation, which is currently at $184 billion. Borrowed from the world of equities, the Coin Metrics team found market cap to be an empty metric when applied to cryptocurrencies.

Unlike equities, large fractions of cryptos tend to get lost, go unclaimed or remain dormant because of bugs. So, to take into account the permanently lost bitcoins, which are roughly 15% of the supply, this metric was created.

According to Arcane Research, this new high is a bullish signal but says these shifts in the realized cap should only be used as an indication. This is because a large amount of the currency bitcoin supply is held by exchange and leaves no trace on the blockchain if traded within the same exchange. Also, large BTC holders and exchanges moving coins between the wallets inflate the metric.

Investors increasingly bullish for the upcoming months

When it comes to new money flowing into the market, institutional investors are just as active as retail ones.

Retail and institutional investors are in agreement on futures bitcoin price, for the first time in several months. The premium rates for BTC are about equal across most platforms, with the premium rate on March contracts keep on rising but June premiums are decreasing, at just above 10%.

With the annualized premium rates for both February and March bitcoin futures contracts above 20%, this means, “Investors across all platforms are increasingly bullish for the upcoming months,” found Arcane Research.

Meanwhile, roughly 500 contacts, 2500 BTC worth of interest rolled off for the second week in a row on CME, “in contract to near-record highs on Bitmex,” as per Market Science’s COT Report.

The trading volume for these contacts is also pushing to new highs, reaching over $600 million last week, the highest since the price topped last summer. January saw an increase of 250% in daily volume.

However, these trading activities are still far from retail exchanges like BitMEX which sees daily trading volume 10x of CME.

The net short positioning of the largest layers in the CME futures markets, leveraged funds meanwhile, has increased “significantly” from last week. Other reportable positions, on the other hand, flipped net-long after being net-short much of 2019.

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Author: AnTy