Japanese Art Commission Platform With Over 1.5M Users is ‘Very Interested’ in Accepting Crypto

Japanese Art Commission Platform With Over 1.5 Million Users Is ‘Very Interested’ in Accepting Crypto as Payment

Japanese artwork commissioning service Skeb took to Twitter to share that it won’t be joining the non-fungible token (NFT) mania.

Last week, Skeb said that it has “no plans to issue NFTs,” and if it does, these digital artworks will belong to the creators. If they issue NFTs to clients, this will be the proof of “I requested it,” but the company noted NFTs can shift ownerships and that “will be meaningless.”

Non-fungible tokens are unique assets stored on a digital ledger that uses blockchain technology to establish a verified and public proof of ownership, and this year they have exploded into popularity and usage, recording more than $10 billion in sales.

“NFTs are now heating up as targets for investment, and creators may be issuing them without fully understanding how they work. It is also important to note that the ownership of NFTs is not in sync with the ownership of arts associated with them,” wrote the company on Twitter.

Skeb further said that NFTs are like museum memorabilia, and they should not be associated with copyrights or real properties. “NFTs should not be used as proofs of ownership of them,” it added.

As of Sept. 25, the company’s total number of registered users exceeded 1.5 million.

While not interested in NFTs, Skeb is “very interested” in using cryptocurrency as a payment method. This payment method will allow them to “keep the freedom of expression without any influence of credit card companies.”

This makes sense given that the platform accepts Visa and MasterCard but can’t accept PayPal as the payment giant doesn’t provide support to them. PayPal actually started offering crypto buying, selling, and storing last year, while Visa and MasterCard have also become crypto-friendly. This year, Visa also joined the NFT trend by buying a CryptoPunk and recently announced an NFT program to help creators.

“It isn’t that Skeb does not accept PayPal. It is that PayPal denied Skeb,” wrote the company on Twitter earlier this year.

As such, the company is actually currently having internal discussions regarding how it can be involved with cryptocurrency.

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Author: AnTy

Uniswap Labs, Startup Behind Powerhouse DEX, is Being Investigated by the SEC: Report

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Uniswaps Labs, the startup behind the leading decentralized exchange (DEX), reported The Wall Street Journal on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the report, enforcement attorneys are seeking information about how people use the DEX and how it is marketed.

The agency, however, didn’t confirm or deny the investigations to the news outlet. But the report says the investigation appears to be in its early stages and may not even result in any formal allegations of wrongdoing.

This comes as regulators probe further into the cryptocurrency market, going for the decentralized protocols which don’t have any middleman and provide direct access to investors without any broker.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler recently said that decentralized finance (DeFi) projects are not immune from oversight. He also called on lawmakers to give the SEC more power to oversee these platforms.

The absence of clear investor protection obligations means “the investing public is left vulnerable,” said Gensler this week.

Gensler has repeatedly said that the agency could regulate DeFi, and they even have a “fair amount of centralization” in terms of governance, fees, and incentives and called DeFi a “bit of a misnomer.”

Uniswap Labs, however, is “committed to complying with the laws and regulations governing our industry and to providing information to regulators that will assist them with any inquiry,” a Uniswap Labs spokesperson told The Journal.

“They went after a company building software. They don’t operate the exchange. It’s a very shitty precedent,” commented Banteg, a lead developer of DeFi blue-chip Yearn Finance. “Probably every DeFi project got hit at this point, even NFTs and full decentralization didn’t protect Uniswap.”

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Accounts for 73% of eToro’s Total Trading Commission in Q2, “Strong Interest from Retail”

Crypto Accounts for 73% of eToro’s Total Trading Commission in Q2, “Strong Interest from Retail”

Trading platform eToro reported its second-quarter results this week that revealed commission from crypto trading to be $264.2 million, an increase of 23x compared with $11.2 million in the Q2 of the previous year.

Crypto represented 73% of total trading commissions in Q2 compared to a mere 7% in Q2 of 2020.

When it comes to particular crypto assets, XRP is the one bringing in the most commission for eToro out of all the crypto assets along with ETH and ADA, “reflecting strong interest from retail investors in crypto markets.”

Bitcoin, which accounted for the most trading volume, only contributed 7% to total crypto commissions, even less than DOGE, which was added to the platform only in May.

Last quarter, eToro added ten new crypto assets, including Shiba Inu, and launched ETH 2.0 staking offering.

“The rise in self-directed investing and eToro’s growth are underpinned by long-term secular trends in investor behavior,” said Yoni Assia, CEO, and co-founder of eToro, in a statement.

Overall, the company reported $362 million in total trading commissions, up from about $161 million in the same period last year, and a net trading income of $290 million.

Additionally, eToro processed 127 million trades in Q2 of this year, up from 74 million from the previous year.

In Q2 of 2021, the company still posted a net loss of $89 million due to a non-cash charge of $71 million in stock-based compensation for its employees. Also, eToro incurred a $36 million transaction cost for its future merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), FinTech Acquisition Corp. V.

Back in May, the firm announced its plans to go public via a SPAC that gave it a valuation of $10.4 billion and a commitment for a $650 million private placement from investors including Fidelity Management & Research Company, Third Point LLC, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Wellington Management, and ION Investment Group.

eToro added 2.6 million new clients in the second quarter, bringing its total users to 23.2 million at the end of June. The company saw an increase of 121% from the same period last year but added 500,000 fewer users than it did in the first quarter of 2021.

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Author: AnTy

Morgan Stanley Discloses Holding More than 5.8 Million GBTC Shares

In its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), banking giant Morgan Stanley revealed that it owns a large amount of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) shares, currently trading at $39.12, at a 13.36% discount to Bitcoin, which is hovering around $47k.

Morgan Stanley owns GBTC shares across multiple portfolios, with the largest 928,051 shares held by its Insight Fund.

Twelve separate mentions of Morgan Stanley Institutional Fund Inc show a collective 4,772,064 GBTC shares, while two of the three Morgan Stanley Variable Insurance Fund Inc. owns a total of 179,703 GBTC shares.

Overall, the bank owns 5,879,818 GBTC shares worth $230 million.

Additionally, all of the Morgan Stanley Institutional Fund Trust shows 611,868 GBTC shares in the filing.

Back in late June, when BTC was trading in the below $30,000s, Morgan Stanley had also disclosed a position worth $1.3 million in GBTC via their Europe Opportunity Fund.

With trillions of dollars in assets under its management, Morgan Stanley is one of the biggest traditional participants to explore cryptocurrencies and investing in crypto infrastructure.

Competitors Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs, are also investing in the crypto space and planning to offer their clients access to cryptocurrencies.

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Author: AnTy

Kryptoin Files for a Physically-backed Ethereum ETF

Investment advisor Krypton has filed a proposal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an Ethereum exchange-traded fund (ETF) Trust. Back in May, VanEck filed for a similar ETH investment vehicle.

The Delaware-based firm said in its filing that the trust would not purchase or sell ETH directly, rather will do so in ‘in-kind’ transactions in blocks of 100,000 shares.

However, the Trust will be paying its Sponsor a unified management fee in “ETH only,” and the Sponsor will pay all of its operating expenses out of this fee, it added.

With this Trust, the firm’s investment objective is to provide exposure to the second-largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $378.5 billion, at a price “reflective of the actual Ethereum market where investors can purchase and sell Ethereum.”

The trust provides direct exposure to ETH, and its shares will be valued on a daily basis. Investors who want to buy or sell shares of the Trust will do so through their brokers.

The company has chosen Gemini as its custodian, while a Delaware trust company will act as the Trustee, and the Bank of New York Mellon will serve as its administrator and the transfer agent.

Kryptoin’s application for a Bitcoin ETF submitted in October 2019 is already under SEC’s review.

More than 20 cryptocurrency-related ETFs have been filed so far, but a single one has yet to be approved. Krypton’s Ethereum ETF might not get approved any time soon either as SEC Chair Gary Gensler is more open to futures-backed ETF for greater investor protection, four of which have been filed in less than the last two weeks.

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Author: AnTy

VanEck Files for a “Bitcoin Strategy ETF” After SEC Chair’s Positive Signal

VanEck has filed for a “Bitcoin Strategy ETF” with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which will hold bitcoin futures and other bitcoin funds.

In 2017, VanEck unsuccessfully attempted to list such a fund with the SEC, but now that SEC Chair Gary Gensler has signaled that he is open to an exchange-traded fund backed with Bitcoin futures, four such filings have been made under the 40 Act.

The investment firm, as such, is now resubmitting the application with some amendments and is hopeful for approval, given that future markets have matured significantly in the past four years.

Much like Invesco, which filed its Bitcoin ETF last week, VanEck clarified that “the Fund does not invest in bitcoin or other digital assets directly.”

The fund will be an actively managed ETF that will provide exposure to Bitcoin Futures, pooled investment vehicles including ETFs listed and traded in Canada, and exchange-traded products (ETPs) invested in bitcoin, according to the filing.

These investments will be made through a Cayman Islands-based wholly-owned subsidiary of VanEck.

In June, the firm also filed a similar prospectus for a bitcoin futures mutual fund, managed by Gregory Krenzer, just like the latest fund.

While the Bitcoin, Ether, and crypto ETF applications continue to pile on the SEC’s desk, running in double-digits, the SEC has yet to approve a single crypto ETF. But with Gensler’s recent comments, a product with futures products may finally get approved.

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Author: AnTy

SEC Extends Decision On WisdomTree’s Bitcoin ETF Application

The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has postponed its decision on WisdomTree’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application.

SEC Seeks Public Comments On WisdomTree’s Application

The SEC pushed back its decision to get feedback from the public on WisdomTree’s application. According to the federal securities regulator, public comments would help ascertain whether the ETF would be safe for investors.

The public would be required to communicate their position on whether the ETF should be approved or denied.

The SEC also wants to know if the public thinks that the proposed Bitcoin ETF would be susceptible to market manipulation. It also intends to determine if the ETF is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices. The SEC explained,

“The Exchange asserts that the manipulation concerns previously articulated by the Commission are sufficiently mitigated to the point that quantifiable investor protection issues outweigh them.”

Members of the public are expected to submit their comments to the Federal Register within 21 days, while rebuttals would be filed 35 days from publication.

The SEC is still struggling to decide on whether to approve an ETF or not. This is the second time the regulator is asking for public comment on the same WisdomTree’s application.

The first time the commission asked for public comments was in April this year, a month after WisdomTree first filed its Bitcoin ETF application. On May 26, the SEC designated even a longer time to approve or disapprove WisdomTree’s proposed rule change.

WisdomTree has been working on ETFs since last year.

In June 2020, the firm applied for an ETF focused majorly on agriculture, energy, and metals, in which 5% of the assets would be invested in Bitcoin futures contracts. In addition to its Bitcoin ETF, the firm also filed for an Ethereum ETF in May this year.

WisdomTree Investments was founded in 2006 as an asset management firm based in the US. The company has subsidiaries in Canada, Europe, and Japan and was established by Jonathan Steinberg.

The SEC Continues Stalling ETF Applications

The SEC is still reviewing several applications for both Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs. Some of the applications have come from firms like VanEck, Kryptoin, and Fidelity. The regulator is yet to approve any crypto ETF within the US.

Proponents claim that a Bitcoin ETF can help investors by creating a more regulated market. Yet, the SEC continues to stall while citing volatility and market manipulation as key concerns in rejecting the ETF applications.

Former chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Timothy Massad, recently urged the SEC to approve a Bitcoin ETF. In a Bloomberg opinion piece, Massad said the SEC should look into approving an ETF in a way that would enhance transparency and integrity in the industry.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce has also made solid points supporting the approval of a Bitcoin ETF. According to CNBC, Peirce said a Bitcoin ETF approval is overdue and argued that the rejections for such funds are a kind of double standard.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Former CFTC Chair Says A Bitcoin ETF Would Be Good For Regulators; SkyBridge BTC ETF Delayed

Timothy Massad, former chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has urged the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Massad made his points known in a Bloomberg opinion piece. He said the SEC should look into approving an ETF in a way that would enhance transparency and integrity in the industry.

Bitcoin ETF Would Be Good For Retail Investors

Massad said a Bitcoin ETF would help retail investors invest in digital assets without purchasing them and dealing with the complexities of custody.

He said that while it would be best to have crypto regulations in place before approving a Bitcoin ETF, this may not happen soon. This is why Massad thinks a conditional approval would be best to increase the industry’s transparency, integrity, and investor protection, not just its mass appeal. Massad said,

“Although it would be best to see such ETFs approved only after Congress has strengthened crypto regulation generally, the likelihood of that happening in the near future is low.”

While cryptocurrency exchanges are largely unregulated in the U.S, the former CFTC chair said the SEC could use the ETF listing process to improve the integrity of cryptocurrency exchanges in the absence of comprehensive regulations.

He added that the ETF approval could be granted on the condition that the ETF prices are based on an index of exchanges meeting certain prescribed standards.

Massad’s comments follow similar comments attributed to SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, who argued that a Bitcoin ETF should have been approved a long time ago.

In an interview with CNBC, Peirce said that she sees the SEC using double standards in approving crypto products. According to her, the SEC applies a heightened standard in filings associated with cryptocurrencies, unlike the standards it uses for traditional, equity-based products.

SEC’s Continuous Delay In Approving ETFs

Over the years, there have been several applications for a Bitcoin ETF, but the SEC is yet to approve any of the applications.

The regulator had previously cited concerns like fraud, market manipulation, and volatility as the reasons behind the rejections or delays.

The latest application facing delay by the SEC is Anthony Scarammuci’s SkyBridge Capital’s application for a Bitcoin ETF. A filing by the regulator shows that the application submitted on May 6 has been extended for 45 days ending in August.

The SEC is currently reviewing many applications and has invited public comment on the Bitcoin ETF filed by asset manager VanEck. The review process has also been extended until August 2021.

Other firms currently witnessing delays from the regulator in approving ETFs include WisdomTree, Kryptoin, and Fidelity Investments.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

SEC Delays VanEck Bitcoin ETF Decision Again, Another 45 Day Wait Period

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seems to be struggling to make its mind up about Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETF). The agency has once again extended the review period for the VanEck Bitcoin ETF application by 45 days.

This is the second time the SEC is delaying its decision on the VanEck Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application. The regulator first extended its decision in April 2021.

SEC To Accept Comments On The VanEck Bitcoin ETF Application

According to the order filed on Wednesday, the SEC said it would now accept public input on the proposed rule change surrounding the VanEck Bitcoin ETF. This would help guide its decision on whether to approve the fund or not.

The regulator asked the public for comments on the vulnerability of the ETF to market manipulation and if Bitcoin is suitable as an underlying asset for an ETF.

The commission also wants to know commenters’ views on whether the regulatory landscape relating to Bitcoin and other digital assets has changed since 2016.

The regulatory answer to that question could have deep implications for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, which is also yet to get approval to be used in exchange-traded funds.

Interested people who wish to comment on the proposed Bitcoin ETF have until 21 days after the order is published in the Federal Register and 35 days after publication in the same register for rebuttals.

VanEck had filed for the Bitcoin ETF in December 2020. In March, the Chicago Board Options exchange (Cboe) pleaded for VanEck when it filed a request to list and trade shares of the VanEck Bitcoin fund, thereby putting the SEC on the 45-day clock.

The SEC’s 45-days window, which started in April 2021, was expected to end on June 17, 2021. The latest extension means we don’t know the fate of the VanEck Bitcoin ETF until August 3, 2021.

The SEC typically renders a decision on future applications within 45-day windows but can also take up to 240 days to decide.

The US Continuous Delay In Approving A Bitcoin ETF

Despite the change in leadership at the SEC, the agency has so far shown no sign of approving any Bitcoin ETF anytime soon.

The agency has often cited fraud and market manipulation as obstacles to its approval, but applicants have made arguments as to why those issues are blown out of proportion.

Apart from VanEck, there have been at least seven other applications of firms seeking to launch competing funds but none has been approved.

Given the SEC’s continued delay in approving the ETFs of firms like VanEck, WisdomTree, Kryptoin, and Fidelity Investments, many do not expect approval soon.

However, Canada remains one of the most progressive countries in terms of ETFs. Over the past few months, the North American nation has approved both Bitcoin and Ether ETFs.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

SEC Extends Kryptoin’s Bitcoin ETF Application By 45 Days

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has extended the review period for Kryptoin’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application.

The regulator disclosed the update in a notice dated June 9. The SEC said its decision would be delayed for another 45 days, ending July 27, 2021.

SEC Delays Another ETF Application

The delay of the Delaware-based investment advisory firm’s application makes it the latest extension the SEC has announced in the last few weeks.

Last month, the SEC postponed WisdomTree’s Bitcoin ETF application review by 45 days. VanEck’s bid got a similar treatment in April.

According to the agency’s notice, Kryptoin’s application was delayed to allow it to have adequate time to consider the proposed rule change. The notice said,

“The Commission finds that it is appropriate to designate a longer period within which to take action on the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider the proposed rule change and the comments received.”

Kryptoin first applied for a Bitcoin ETF in 2019, and after a year and a half of inactivity, the firm filed for an amendment in April this year.

In its first filing, Kryptoin chose to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange but later changed it to Cboe BZX in its amended filing. Both WisdomTree and VanEck also named Cboe as their planned listing exchange.

The Kryptoin ETF provides exposure to Bitcoin using the CF Bitcoin US Settlement Price as its pricing mechanism.

Founded in 2016, Kryptoin Investment Advisors is a financial services company run by Jason Toussaint.

Will The SEC Approve A Crypto ETF This Year?

The US is yet to allow a Bitcoin-based ETF, with the SEC pointing to the Bitcoin market’s vulnerability to manipulation, among other concerns, as its rationale for rejecting all such applications.

At the moment, there are eight active ETF applications before the SEC. Apart from the previously mentioned VanEcK and WisdomTree, other firms that have filed for Bitcoin-based ETFs include NYDIG, Valkyrie, SkyBridge Capital, Simplify, and Fidelity.

WisdomTree and VanEcK are the only two companies that have also filed for Ethereum ETFs in addition to their Bitcoin ETFs.

This signifies that Ethereum ETFs are gaining more popularity as retail and institutional investors look to gain exposure to the digital asset without investing in it directly.

Several factors have driven Ethereum’s popularity and increasing institutional adoption among investors. These include decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and improvement in the crypto asset’s infrastructure. A planned upgrade from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS) has also piqued investors’ interest.

If VanEcK and WisdomTree’s Ether ETF applications are approved, they would be the first set of Ether ETFs in the US, but not the first in North America.

Three Ethereum ETFs have already been approved and are available in Canada on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

Canada has also approved several Bitcoin ETFs, and these funds have grown exponentially in a few months with massive investor interests. In the US, investors continue to be optimistic that the SEC’s new crypto-conscious chairman, Gary Gensler, will approve an ETF soon.

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Author: Jimmy Aki