VanEck Bitcoin ETF Postponed for the Last Time to Nov 14th As Futures Get the Lead Role

VanEck is one of the dozen companies awaiting an answer from the SEC on approval of physically-backed Bitcoin ETF and has also filed for a futures-backed Bitcoin ETF, which is raising Grayscale’s hackles.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has, yet again, extended the review process of VanEck’s physically-backed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) for the final time.

On Wednesday, the US securities regulator posted an extension notice, saying it is designating a longer period, additional 60 days, to review the proposed rule change to list and trade shares of the VanEck Bitcoin Trust.

This puts the final deadline to get approval or disapproval on the application at November 14, 2021.

The application to list VanEck’s Bitcoin Trust was filed by Cboe BZX Exchange in March this year but continued to postpone making any decision. The commission can take up to 180 days from the filing date to announce its decision, with an additional 60 days permitted if it is deemed “appropriate.”

This time, the notice stated that the Commission finds it appropriate to allocate a longer period to issue its order on the application,

“so that it has sufficient time to consider the proposed rule change and the issues raised in the comment letters that have been submitted in connection therewith.”

VanEck is one of 13 companies awaiting an answer from the SEC on approval with other players, including Ark Invest, Valkyrie Investments, One River Asset Management, and SkyBridge Capital.

Coming Soon?

SEC Chair Gary Gensler recently said that the agency is more open to a futures-backed BItcoin ETF as it offers an additional level of security due to being governed by the CME. Also, futures requires investors to put down cash on margin to trade as collateral and, in the case of CME, a minimum of 35% of the amount. Gensler said earlier last month,

“I anticipate that there will be filings with regard to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) under the Investment Company Act (’40 Act). When combined with the other federal securities laws, the ’40 Act provides significant investor protections. Given these important protections, I look forward to the staff’s review of such filings, particularly if those are limited to these CME-traded Bitcoin futures.”

Since Gensler’s comments, at least seven firms, including VanEck and Invesco, have applied to launch Bitcoin futures products.

Industry experts expect a Bitcoin futures ETF to receive SEC approval by October or November.

Grayscale Gives A Warning

This is now raising the largest digital asset manager Grayscale’s hackles. As we reported, CEO Michael Sonnenshein in an interview with CNBC this week, said,

“It would be shortsighted of the SEC to allow a futures-based product into the market before a spot product.”

Grayscale, which has a closed-ended Bitcoin Trust, is also looking to convert its product into an ETF. According to Sonnenshein,

“If a futures-based ETF comes to market without the ability for GBTC to convert to an ETF, it has the potential to harm investors who hold tens of billions of dollars’ worth of GBTC today outright, as well as the investors who have exposure to GBTC inside mutual funds, retirement accounts, and other places.”

While SEC has yet to approve a single crypto ETF in the past 8 years when the first BItcoin ETF was filed by the Winklevoss brothers, Canada has already approved a number of Bitcoin and Ether ETFs.

Canada and North America’s first ETF tracking Bitcoin, Purpose Bitcoin ETF (BTCC), which has $747 million in assets, is now trailing its competitors 3iQ CoinShares Bitcoin ETF (BTCQ) that was launched two months later and has now amassed $1.2 billion (US$946 million) in assets.

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Author: AnTy

Swiss Companies to Offer Institutions Tokenized Assets Built on Tezos (XTZ)

Swiss Companies to Offer Institutions Tokenized Assets Built on Tezos (XTZ)

A trio of Swiss-based crypto-friendly banks has announced plans to offer regulated tokenized assets using the Tezos blockchain. The banks are Crypto Finance, InCore Bank, and Inacta.

Regulated Trio Team Up with Tezos to Create Tokenized Assets

Tezos was chosen because of its unique blockchain. The network is self-upgrading, which enables the activation of essential consensus updates without splitting the network.

The banks plan to integrate financial products for their institutional clients using a new token standard on the Tezos blockchain.

The new standard dubbed “DAR-1” was created based on Tezos’ FA2 design. The DAR-1 token standard enables smart contracts necessary to support the modern financial markets in compliance with regulations.

Crypto Finance would serve as the infrastructure provider on the project, while InCore Bank would handle the tokenization using the new DAR-1 token standard, which Inacta developed.

In addition to the joint partnership, InCore Bank has also introduced institutional-grade storage, staking, and trading services for XTZ, the native cryptocurrency of the Tezos blockchain.

This would make InCore Bank the first Swiss business-to-business bank to launch staking services for the Tezos network, unlocking new yield earning products for institutional customers.

The XTZ staking with InCore Bank can be initiated directly via embarking, unlike the traditional staking method. Clients will receive periodic statements regarding staking payouts.

Tezos is quite popular in Switzerland, which is not surprising as the network’s founders, the Tezos Foundation, is based there. Last year, Swiss-based digital asset firm Sygnum Bank launched trading and custody services for Tezos.

More recently, Crypto exchange Gemini announced the listing of the Tezos token on its Gemini Earn platform. Gemini Earn is a passive income program where tokens are locked with world-class security and interest accrued daily.

Tezos Rolling Out Upgrades On Network

In recent times Tezos has welcomed integrations from different protocols as it continues to upgrade its network.

Tezos is an open-source proof of stake blockchain network that powers applications and tools behind leading financial institutions, central banks, NFTs, DeFi platforms, and so on.

The network’s seventh successful upgrade called Granada went live this year. Granada contains numerous bug fixes and minor improvements for the Tezos protocol. The update cuts block times in half and decreases smart contract gas consumption by 3-6x. It also introduces liquidity banking.

The upgrade, which is the third to occur this year, was named after a Spanish city. Granada goes live less than three months after the previous one, dubbed Florence.

The Florence upgrade was the update that doubled the size of maximum operations (from 16kB to 32kB), reduced gas in smart contract execution. It streamlined the amendment process by deactivating unused test chains on the Tezos protocol.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Ripple Inks Partnership With South Korean Payment Provider, GME Remittance

Ripple Labs Inc has announced a partnership with GME Remittance, one of the leading companies in South Korea.

GME Remittance Joins RippleNet

The partnership would enable GME Remittance to use Ripple’s global financial network, RippleNet, to enable faster remittance payments to Thailand.

GME Remittance aims to connect with RippleNet customers to expand into additional remittance corridors across the region and globally.The collaboration was established through SBI Ripple Asia, a joint venture between SBI Holdings and Ripple.

By joining RippleNet, GME Remittance is now connected to Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Thailand’s oldest bank and Ripple’s long-time partner.

According to the COO of GME Remittance, Subash Chandra Poudel, Ripple was chosen as a partner because of the benefits RippleNet offers.

Poudel said the team is already benefiting from RippleNet’s privileges. For instance, RippleNet tracks transactions at every step of the process, and this he said makes it easy to send money across borders with speed and transparency.

Emi Yoshikawa, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Operations at Ripple, believes that partnerships with providers like GME Remittance would help deliver good customer experiences while accelerating their expansion into new markets.

With this move, GME Remittance joins an existing list of Korean financial institutions and money transfer companies who have pitched their tent with Ripple.

Ripple Increasing Adoption Of Services In Asian Region

Ripple has been particular about expanding and increasing the adoption of its services this year. To this end, the San Francisco-based firm has formed several partnerships, especially in the Asia Pacific region.

According to Ripple, the region is one of its fastest-growing areas, with transactions growing 130% year-over-year.

Last month, Ripple announced a collaboration with Japan’s SBI Remit and Philippines-based firm The partnership was formed to launch RippleNet’s first live On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) service implementation in Japan.

Ripple has also made other moves to expand its ODL service in the Asian region, like acquiring a 40% stake in cross-border payments firm Tranglo.

Since this partnership with Ripple, Tranglo has continued to expand its services significantly. The company recently received approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to provide account issuance, domestic money transfer, and e-money issuance services.

Through the latest approvals, Tranglo will be able to enhance its payment function in different countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, and others.

Ripple has also previously partnered with fintech company Novatti Group to expand the reach of its ODL service. Novatti was brought in to deploy the ODL Service via RippleNet to make instant, cross-border payments. The collaboration was also focused on improving remittances between Australia and the Philippines through Filipino-owned remittance service provider iRemit.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

“I Would Leave Twitter or Square for Bitcoin,” says Jack Dorsey At the Bitcoin 2021 Conference

His life goal at the moment is to “remove” the corporate-ness of his companies and build a Bitcoin-inspired social media that will have “none of the restrictions” of Twitter.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey being extremely bullish on the future of Bitcoin isn’t anything new. He has always been a Bitcoiner through and through.

Earlier on Friday, as we reported, Dorsey took to Twitter to share that his payment company Square is also considering making a Bitcoin hardware wallet. But he doesn’t want to “compete” with the hardware wallets already in the market, rather takes it to the next level and “do it sometime very soon.” Later in the day, Dorsey doubled down on his love for the largest cryptocurrency at the Bitcoin 2021 Conference, saying,

“I don’t think there is anything more important in my lifetime to work on.”

“If I were not at Square or Twitter, I would be working on bitcoin. If [bitcoin] needed more help than Square or Twitter, I would leave them for bitcoin. But, I believe both companies have a role to play.”

Bitcoin, according to him, “changes absolutely everything,” and it has the potential to create a new financial infrastructure that is more inclusive.

“I don’t think there is anything more enabling for people around the world.”

No Need for Banks

Bitcoin is a way to protect against currency devaluation, he said, and that’s why Dorsey is partnering with rapper Jay-Z to create a multimillion-dollar fund to further bitcoin development in India and Africa.

“Jay loves Bitcoin,” said Dorsey.

“He goes very deep on what he loves, he believes in it, and he also believes in this idea of making sure if we’re going to create this money for the world, it has to be developed around the world.”

During the 30-minute fireside chat with the Human Rights Foundation’s Alex Gladstein, Dorsey then discusses there is no need for banks and financial institutions that we have today.

“We have one that is thriving, that is sound, that is owned by the community, and that is driven by the community, that has this incredible and amazing consensus that always manages to do the right thing over time. It’s noble, and it’s so rare and so unique. Anything that we can do to build it and protect it, we’re down to do.”

But there’s much work to do around education and accessibility, he said.

Bitcoin Exclusive

While some like far-right activist Laura Loomer, who has been banned from Twitter and called Dorsey the “king of censorship,” feel that he is not the right one to talk about the censorship-resistant Bitcoin, Dorsey said, they have “evolved” the Twitter policies that a lot of people disagree with.

“My goal, in my life at this moment, is to remove—as much as I can—the corporate-ness of our companies,” he said, pointing to Twitter’s Blue Sky initiative to build a decentralized standard for social media, which will have “none of the restrictions that you see on Twitter.”

“Inspired entirely by Bitcoin, we want to do the same thing for social media.”

“I’m going to prove it to you. And then we can have another conversation later.”

Dorsey, however, is all about Bitcoin and is in no way interested in other cryptocurrencies. The crypto asset that achieved a trillion-dollar market cap during this year’s price action, he said, will be the native currency for the internet, and “the only reason Square got involved with bitcoin is to that end.”

This is how his companies will do everything to make bitcoin accessible to everyone and how Dorsey plans to “spend the rest of his life.”

Additionally, “That’s why we don’t deal with any other ‘currencies’ or ‘coins’ because we’re so focused on making bitcoin the native currency for the internet,” Dorsey said.

“All of the other” altcoins like Ethereum and Dogecoin simply “don’t factor in at all” for him.

As for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), they are “bullshit” and just “bumps in the road,” according to him.

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Author: AnTy

Ransomware Attacks: US Rep Asks Colonial Pipeline, CNA Financial for Payment Details

Ransomware Attacks: US Rep Asks Colonial Pipeline, CNA Financial for Payment Details

Two US companies and ransomware victims, Colonial Pipeline and CNA Financial, have been asked to reveal details of the payments made to hackers before they recovered their data.

US Rep. Carolyn Maloney sent letters to the firm on Thursday requesting that they release payment documents relating to the communications made with the ransomware attackers.

Maloney Fixes June 12 Deadline For Documents

Colonial Pipeline and CNA have been given until June 12, approximately two weeks to gather the materials and send them to the House Oversight Committee.

In the letters, Maloney requested all documents that detail how the attack was discovered, whether the companies sought external consultation about paying the ransoms, and documents detailing the decryption tools provided by the attackers.

According to Maloney, detailed information about the ransom payments made to cybercriminals is required to legislate effective laws on cybersecurity and ransomware in the country.

“I am extremely concerned that the decision to pay international criminal actors sets a dangerous precedent that will put an even bigger target on the back of critical infrastructure going forward,” she said in a press release.

Colonial Pipeline was hacked in May by hackers believed to be from Russia. The company was forced to shut down due to the ransomware attack, which created fuel shortages in the Southeastern states. The company reportedly paid $4.4 million in ransom.

Another ransomware attack happened later in the same month against CNA Financial. CNA, one of the country’s largest insurance companies, reportedly paid $40 million in Bitcoin to restore access to its network.

Apart from these two companies mentioned above, other companies have also been attacked as ransomware hackers continue to terrorize US companies.

A few days ago, JBS SA, the largest meat producer globally, was forced to shut down its US beef plants after a ransomware attack. Details are, however, unknown as to whether a ransom has been paid or not.

Ransomware Attackers to Face Growing Scrutiny In The US

The constant rate at which ransomware hackers attack firms and the cryptocurrency payments the hackers often induce has heightened the US government’s concern.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) disclosed yesterday that it would start treating these attacks with the same urgency it treats terrorism.

The DoJ also sent a memo to the state US attorney offices and branches, asking US attorneys to file urgent reports if they hear of a significant ransomware attack.

These actions by the Justice Department to push ransomware into this special process show just how much the government is prioritizing the issue.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Another Ethereum ETF Filed with the SEC

Now, two companies, VanEck and Wisdom Tree, have joined the race for an Ethereum ETF, with a longer coverage of risks, including consensus mechanism shift, energy-intensive mining raising the economic and societal costs of mining, congestion in-network, and more.

  • WisdomTree is the latest one and the second to file for an Ethereum exchange-traded fund (ETF) after VanEck.

According to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Wisdom Ethereum Trust has named Cboe BZX Exchange as the exchange to list the ETF under a to-be-determined ticker symbol if approved. The ETF specialist firm hasn’t picked a crypto custodian yet.

WisdomTree has already filed for a Bitcoin ETF, but the US regulator has yet to approve a single one in the country. In Canada, several Bitcoin ETFs and Ether ETFs have been approved and are already demonstrating a spectacular performance making the US companies excited and competitive to be the ones to launch the investment vehicle first to gain the first-mover advantage.

While several, at least nine Bitcoin ETFs have been filed in the US, lately, Ether has also joined the race amidst the bull run as the crypto market matures and the second-largest cryptocurrency grabs the attention.

As we reported recently, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and billionaire investor Carl Icahn have come in support of Ethereum, finding it more valuable as a payments system and a store of value than Bitcoin.

Besides the usual risks, this time, in regards to Ethereum, the firm also covered several more, including hard fork, its energy-intensive mining, raising concerns about climate change that may raise the economic and societal costs of mining, moving from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, new competing blockchain networks posing a challenge and competition from central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Congestion or delay in the Ethereum network delaying purchases or sales of ether by the Trust, scaling challenges and efforts to increase the volume of transactions not turning out to be successful, and miners acting in collusion to raise transaction fees adversely affecting the usage of the Ethereum network, are also covered as potential risks for the loss in the value of the Trust.

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Author: AnTy

Sichuan, China Regulators Meeting up with Power Companies Regarding Crypto Mining

Sichuan, China Regulators Meeting up with Power Companies Regarding Crypto Mining

Sichuan, which is the largest hydropower mining area in China and accounts for 10% of China’s hash rate, is not the only province gathering information on crypto mining.

The situation in China about crypto mining hasn’t become clear yet but the good thing is the Sichuan government is holding a virtual currency mining research symposium where it will meet local power companies regarding crypto mining.

Sichuan is not the only province gathering information on crypto mining, an official at the Sichuan Energy Regulatory Office of National Energy Administration told Reuters.

To be held on June 2nd, the energy regulator is aiming to analyze the impact of shutting down mining on the consumption of wastewater and gather suggestions, as per local publication Wu Blockchain.

Sichuan is the largest hydropower mining area in China and accounts for 10% of China’s hash rate.

As we reported, Chinese miners have already started to make their way overseas ahead of the government providing clarity on crypto mining. Some large miners have booked the mines in North America, Kazakhstan, and Russia. However, compared to China, these regions will cost them much more.

According to Chinanews, Binance’s hash rate coin BTCST has also reportedly invested $3.1 million to acquire a mine in Tbilisi, Georgia, with a capacity of 29 million watts.

Amidst this, Spartan Black of crypto fund The Spartan Group shared that the date July 1st is of significance in China’s context as this marks the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. He said,

“The CCP needs to ensure stability ahead of the CCP centennial celebrations on July 1st. Heads will roll if there are any social disturbances ahead of one of the most important events in CCP history.”

This could further explain the sudden “change” in the government’s stance toward crypto assets, which the PBOC governor termed as an alternative asset class only last month.

Meanwhile, after reacting negatively to China banning Bitcoin and mining, the price of BTC is now showing signs of recovery.

But while BTC has gone past $40,000, the market is not sure about what’s to come next. It is expected that Bitcoin can very much continue to trade sideways for months before it goes on to hit new highs.

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Author: AnTy

Bitwise Launches Crypto Industry Innovators ETF After a Green Light from the SEC

The ETF won’t be holding Bitcoin or Ethereum directly but tracks the performance of public companies that are involved in the cryptocurrency sector.

Bitwise, a digital asset manager with $1.5 billion in assets under management as of May 7, 2021, is launching the Crypto Industry Innovators ETF (NYSE: BITQ) that provides exposure to public companies that are involved in the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency sector. The ETF won’t be holding Bitcoin or Ethereum directly.

With this, it has become the first ETF with crypto in it to be approved by the SEC, while a Bitcoin ETF has yet to make it despite several, at least eleven, companies interested and having filed their applications.

But Hunter Horsley, CEO of Bitwise, is hopeful that SEC is moving closer to approving one.

“The bitcoin ETF journey has been almost a decade long,” Horsley told CNN. “But I think it will be possible. This is a big milestone for us.”

BITQ meanwhile seeks to track the Bitwise Crypto Industry Innovators 30 Index, which captures pure-play companies engaged in the crypto sector and has at least $100 million of liquid digital assets on their balance sheet.

Also, these companies derive at least 75% of their revenue from either directly holding crypto assets or serving the crypto market.

It basically tracks the performance of crypto stocks and not coins. A similar ETF (VanEck Vectors Digital Assets Equity – DAPP) has been launched by VanEck as well that trades on Nasdaq, London Stock Exchange, and Deutsche Boerse.

“Until recently, most great crypto innovators were private companies, but that’s changing rapidly. Today, there’s a growing set of public companies capitalizing on crypto,” said Matt Hougan, CIO of Bitwise.

Crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN), which recently went public, accounts for 11.63% of the index’s weightage joined by MicroStrategy, Galaxy Digital, Riot Blockchain, Voyager Digital, Canaan, Northern Data, Hive Blockchain, Bitfarm, and Marathon Digital Asset Holdings, along with PayPal, Square, Silvergate, and others.

“Over the past few years, many investors have had to watch from the sidelines as a select few have reaped the rewards of stellar cryptocurrency returns.”

“With BITQ, our aim is to make crypto investment opportunities available through traditional investing platforms and a familiar, liquid, and cost-effective ETF.”

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Author: AnTy

VanEck’s Latest ETFs Starts Trading on London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse

The index tracks the prices of 26 pure-play digital asset companies, notably Galaxy Digital, Square, Voyager Digital, Riot Blockchain, Nvidia, Silvergate Capital, and others, with the US making up about two-thirds of allocation, followed by China, Canada, Germany, Taiwan, and the UK.

While the decision on VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF in the US has been postponed by the SEC, the company has launched Europe’s first thematic exchange-traded fund that offers exposure to companies involved in digital assets.

The VanEck Vectors Digital Assets Equity UCITS ETF (DAPP) that tracks the recently launched MVIS Global Digital Assets Equity index is listed on the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse.

Instead of investing in crypto assets directly or indirectly, this index includes trading platforms, miners, bankers, payment gateway operators, and other companies that provide the infrastructure.

In mid-April, VanEck rolled out the same product in the US, DAPP US, listed on Nasdaq, which currently manages $25 million in assets.

The index tracks the prices of 26 pure-play digital asset companies with notable positions, including Galaxy Digital (9.2%), Square (8.6%), Voyager Digital (7.6%), Riot Blockchain (6.1%), Marathon Digital (6.1%), Nvidia (5.4%), and Silvergate Capital (5.3%).

In terms of country, stocks from the US presently make up nearly two-thirds (64.0%) of the total index allocation, with the remaining weight distributed across China (11.8%), Canada (11.6%), Germany (4.9%), Taiwan (4.6%), and the UK (3.1%).

According to VanEck, the companies included in the ETF’s index have seen their revenue accelerate rapidly in 2020 to surpass $10 billion, up from $5bn in the previous two years. Martijn Rozemuller, CEO in Europe at VanEck said,

“The digital transformation is changing large parts of our economy. This is not just short-term hype, but rather is a long-term, structural development. Blockchain applications are finding more areas of use that now extend way beyond cryptocurrencies. Consequently, investors are increasingly looking to digital assets for investment opportunities.”

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Author: AnTy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author: AnTy