Ripple Rolls Out XRP Ledger Updates to Boost Software Efficiency

Ripple Labs has rolled out new upgrades to its asset’s ledger to improve functionality. The company continues to deal with the fallout of the SEC’s probe into its affairs.

Top blockchain company Ripple Labs continues to make progress with its XRP asset and other affiliated projects despite the looming lawsuits against it.

In a recent update, the company has announced operational developments that will improve its XRP Ledger’s efficiency.

Improved Speed, Reduced Bandwidth

Yesterday, the Silicon Valley firm published a press release confirming the launch of version 1.7.0 of its XRP Ledger. In the release, Ripple confirmed that the updates would go a long way in bolstering the ledger’s security, efficiency, and operational decentralization.

RippleX, Ripple’s open payment integration platform, has been working to improve the XRP Ledger’s resources and compatibility with various server configurations.

David Schwartz, Ripple’s technology chief, was given the most credit for this, following his work to reduce several caching layers. With his move, the payment platform has reduced execution time and memory by 50 percent.

Along with the optimizations, the latest update will also provide enhanced proposal routing, and transaction validation, and validator manifests, which will improve visibility into operators’ work across the XRP ecosystem.

There is also the introduction of forward ledger replay, which will enhance security on the XRP Ledger and improve server synchronization with the rest of the network. This way, the Ledger can reduce bandwidth and work faster.

On its plans, Bharath Chari, a member of the XRP Ledger Foundation, explained that they would be working to support the broader XRP ecosystem even more. For now, their focus will be on expanding the validator list and enhancing the XRP Ledger’s core code.

MoneyGram Joins the Movement to Ditch Ripple

The recent updates show that Ripple Labs isn’t entirely giving up on XRP yet. The company has had a bit of a rough patch over the past few months, following a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that accused it of organizing an illegal securities offering in its XRP Initial Coin Offering (ICO) back in 2013.

Since the SEC suit came out, Ripple Labs has been faced with significant industry pushback as exchanges, investment firms, and more distanced themselves from it.

Another pushback came earlier this week as payment processor MoneyGram, one of Ripple’s high-profile partners, suspended trading from its end. In its quarterly outlook, MoneyGram reported that it doesn’t plan to see any benefits from its Ripple market development fees in Q1 2021. Due to litigation from regulators, it has chosen to close all Ripple trades for the time being.

The MoneyGram partnership is one of Ripple Labs’ crown jewels. Ripple purchased 10 percent of the company in 2019, while MoneyGram incorporated its on-demand liquidity (ODL) tool to make quicker and safer cross-border transactions. While the relationship appeared rosy, Ripple did sell off a chunk of its MoneyGram shares last November 2020.

Asides from suspending its asset, the payment processor has also reiterated that it never used the ODL tool for direct customer transfers or forex transactions. With MoneyGram further distancing itself from Ripple amid its SEC lawsuit, the blockchain company is finding itself further in need of supporters.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

End of the Tether Fud as Parent Company iFinex Reaches an $18.5 Million Settlement with NYAG

End of the Tether Fud as Parent Company iFinex Reaches an $18.5 Million Settlement with NYAG

The crypto market is already enjoying the news of settlement as Bitfinex and Tether notes, “there was no finding that Tether ever issued tethers without backing, or to manipulate crypto prices.”

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has reached a settlement with New York Attorney General (NYAG) Letitia James, after 2.5 years and 2.5 million pages of information, over the allegations that it hid the loss of $850 million commingled client funds.

Bitfinex didn’t admit or deny any wrongdoing, and agreed to pay $18.5 million, said the state attorney general’s office in a statement on Tuesday.

This settlement should be “viewed as a measure of our desire to put this matter behind us and focus on our business,” said Stuart Hoegner, general counsel at Bitfinex and Tether.

The crypto community celebrated the news, calling this a huge buying opportunity, and after the deep sell-off, the market is now recovering.

“A decidedly Bullish outcome to a saga that began in April 2019,” noted HXRO Labs. Given that Tether FUD has been persistent in the market through all these years, this settlement puts it to an end and legitimizes Tether by requiring transparency reports.

“This settlement is a great outcome for Tether/Bitfinex & the crypto industry at large,” noted Jake Chervinsky, general counsel at Compound Finance. “It does send a strong signal that, after so much discovery, NYAG was ready to move on,” he added.

Just last month, Bitfinex said it repaid the remaining balance of $550 million and interest on the loan that was the center of the attorney general’s allegations of fraud.

New York officials that began investigating Bitfinex in 2019 will be receiving quarterly reports on the composition of Tether’s reserves for the next two years.

Talking about the reckless and unlawful cover for financial losses, Attorney General James said Tether’s claims of being fully backed by US dollars at all times “was a lie.” She said their action against the crypto company is sending the message that they,

“Will stand up to corporate greed whether it comes out of a traditional bank, a virtual currency trading platform, or any other type of financial institution.”

The agreement between iFinex and NYAG requires both Bitfinex and Tether to discontinue any trading activity with New Yorkers, and of course, submit regular reports.

As for the transparency report, the companies have to submit mandatory reporting on core business functions, including proper segregation of corporate and client accounts, segregation of government-issued and virtual currency trading accounts by company executives, and transfers of assets between and among Bitfinex and Tether entities.

Tether is also asked to offer public disclosures of the assets backing USDT and provide greater transparency. Both Bifinex and Tether stated,

“Contrary to online speculation, after two and half years, there was no finding that Tether ever issued tethers without backing, or to manipulate crypto prices.”

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Author: AnTy

BTC Breaks Yet Another Level, k, as Elon Musk says, Bitcoin and Ethereum ‘Seem High’

Since making a similar remark on his electric car company, the price of TSLA shares has surged 400%. Tesla CEO is also busy mining his favorite cryptocurrency Dogecoin as a “fun family project.”

The market value of Bitcoin hit the milestone of $1 trillion on Friday as the price of the digital asset broke past many levels.

Today, we went even higher, past $57,000, aiming for the sweet round number of $60k now. As of writing, BTC/USD has been comfortably trading above $57k, with a market cap of $1.06 billion.

With Bitcoin continuing to roar higher, Tesla CEO Elon Musk threw some love at Bitcoin with yet again the picture of Bitcoin in his Twitter profile, but “Just for a day.”

Musk also took a jab at gold bug Peter Schiff, who thinks and talks about Bitcoin day and night, all the time, and this time as well saying gold is real money and better than both fiat and Bitcoin, referring to Musk calling “Bitcoin is almost as BS as fiat money.”

“An email saying you have gold is not the same as having gold. You might as well have crypto. Money is just data that allows us to avoid the inconvenience of barter. That data, like all data, is subject to latency & error. The system will evolve to that which minimizes both.”

Musk explained to Schiff, adding, “That said, BTC & ETH do seem high lol.”

Musk made a similar infamous comment regarding his electric car company back in May last year, “Tesla stock price is too high imo.” Since then, the price of TSLA shares has surged 400%.

Besides Bitcoin, the founder and CEO of SpaceX is also busy mining his favorite cryptocurrency, Dogecoin.

“I just set up some little Doge mining rigs with my kids. It was fun,” said Musk on Saturday. He also shared that he has been using Antminer L3+ rigs to mine the meme coin, which was bought off eBay.

“Not really economic, but it was a fun family project,” he added.

The Next Major Milestone

When it comes to Bitcoin, the leading digital currency is enjoying more than a 92% uptrend in 2021 so far.

Despite the latest round of gains, over 17% this week, the funding rates on Bitcoin perpetual contracts haven’t heated up, currently between 0.0158% on Deribit and 0.1457% on Huobi, as per Viewbase.

While the Perp-spot basis is flat, the basis of the future is sky high while implied volatility is falling and 25-day skew rising, noted trader and economist Alex Kruger adding, “leverage is very high, but inflows are gargantuan.”

Now that the first milestone for $1 trillion has been hit, the next major milestone ahead for Bitcoin is surpassing the market cap of gold which is about $10 trillion. This will put the price of Bitcoin around $500,000.

Qiao Wang of DeFi Alliance has a 90% conviction that it will happen in our lifetime but will this happen during this hype cycle, that’s to be seen.

Before that, going above $100k will make it the world’s largest asset, dethroning Apple. The hopium from Su Zhu, the CEO of Three Arrows Capital,

“This is not yet another cycle; this is the End of Cycles. The one where after BTC flippens gold, it doesn’t flip back. The one where web3 supersedes web2. Where culture is collected and accrued digitally instead of physically. Where life is lived mindfully rather than mindlessly.”

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Author: AnTy

Private Aviation Company Sees 20% Revenue Coming from Bitcoin Paying Users

Almost 20% of private aviation company PrivateFly’s yearly revenues are now coming from travelers paying with Bitcoin. The use of cryptocurrency as a payment option has surged over the past two months, which previously made up only a marginal amount of revenue.

According to the company’s latest figures, 12% of flights were paid for using Bitcoin in December. These numbers increased to 13% in January, a huge jump from about 2% of previously paid flights through digital currency.

Those paying with Bitcoin tend to spend it on more expensive flights, notes the company. The company CEO Adam Twidell said,

“Some of these are clients who are looking to realize their gains, while others want to hold onto their cryptocurrency, in expectation of future increases. So, in addition to taking out a membership with us in Bitcoin and converting the account funds into traditional currency (as we have offered for a while), we now offer a membership program that allows the account funds to stay in Bitcoin

The price of Bitcoin has nearly increased 13x since its March 2020 low as it currently trades above $52,000.

The company first started accepting Bitcoin as a payment option in 2014 when a tech entrepreneur flew from Brussel to Nice and paid for that trip with digital currency.

PrivateFly has introduced a new membership program that allows its customers to place Bitcoin in an account that is charged using the value of BTC at the time of booking.

Other cryptos accepted by the company include Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and USDC, GUSD, PAX, and BUSD stablecoins.

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Author: AnTy

First Publicly-Traded German Company Buys Bitcoin as a Hedge Against Euro Devaluation

First Publicly-Traded German Company Buys Bitcoin as a Hedge Against Euro Devaluation

Bitcoin “exact antithesis of traditional currencies,” said Lars Müller, CEO of Cannabis company SynBiotic SE.

SynBiotic SE has become the first publicly-traded company in Germany to add Bitcoin to its balance sheet.

Corporate Bitcoin buying has now grown beyond the US, where already the likes of Tesla, MicroStrategy, and Square have bought the leading digital asset.

Now, Germany has also joined in with SynBiotic SE, a cannabis company, in an attempt to hedge against the devaluation of the euro due to the excessive increase in the money supply of the fiat currency.

“Our decision focused less on price fluctuations than the risk of devaluation of euro and dollar,” said SynBiotic SE CEO Lars Müller on the company’s decision to make a shift to Bitcoin.

Müller further points to Bitcoin’s limited supply of 21 million, which he said is the “exact antithesis of traditional currencies.”

“This limit is fixed and inviolable, which the cryptocurrency‘s decentralized organization and the blockchain‘s tamper-proof nature in turn guarantees,” added Müller, which he said instills “more long-term confidence in bitcoin than in euros or dollars, where a central institution, influenced by politicians, can expand the money supply immeasurably.”

Besides the risk of devaluing fiat currencies, the cannabis sector already has very positive experiences with bitcoin as a digital means of payment. SynBiotic’s several subsidiaries already accept payments in bitcoin in addition to euros.

According to a recent survey, 5% of company executives plan to hold Bitcoin. This increased corporate adoption has Bitcoin nearing the $52,000 level, up over 77% YTD.

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Author: AnTy

Bakkt to Become a NYSE-Listed Publicly Traded Company with a $2.1 Billion Valuation

Bakkt to Become a NYSE-Listed Publicly Traded Company with a $2.1 Billion Valuation

Renamed Bakkt Holdings, the company appointed new CEO Gavin Michael from Citi bank as it prepares to launch its App in March.

Bitcoin trading platform Bakkt is now becoming a publicly-traded company with a value of $2.1 billion and will be listed on the New York State Exchange with renamed Bakkt Holdings.

Launched during the bear market of 2018 by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Bakkt investors will roll their equity into the combined company, with ICE contributing an additional $50 million in capital.

This is made possible through its merger with Victor VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings that completed its initial public offering in September 2020. Together, they aim to grow Bakkt’s “market-leading position in digital assets.”

The company also announced a new CEO, Gavin Michael, former head of technology of Citi’s Global Consumer Bank, as it focuses on the rollout of its consumer application. Meanwhile, interim CEO David Clifton will sit on the Board of Directors.

The new Bakkt App, to be rolled out in March 2021, will allow the users to buy, sell, store, and spend digital assets. Michael said,

“The average consumer holds a wealth of digital assets but rarely tracks their value and lacks the tools to manage and utilize them.”

“I’m excited to join the management team of a company, at this important time in its expansion, whose vision is to bring trust and transparency to digital assets through innovation and technology and, through that process, unlock trillions of dollars currently held in customer and loyalty accounts and allow consumers to put them to work.”

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Author: AnTy

Publicly-Traded Canadian FinTech Company Invests 1.5% of its Assets into Bitcoin

Publicly-Traded Canadian FinTech Company Invests 1.5% of its Assets into Bitcoin

The $1.5 Million worth of corporate Bitcoin investments is just the beginning, MOGO plans to buy more BTC next year.

Canadian Fintech company MOGO is investing $1.5 million in Bitcoin. This investment represents the company’s 1.5% assets, as of the end of the third quarter of 2020. But the company is not done with its Bitcoin investment, it plans to do more of it with more of it in 2021. Greg Feller, President, and CFO of Mogo said,

“We plan to initially allocate a modest portion of our capital toward bitcoin investments and will consider additional investments in bitcoin as we monetize some of our existing $17 million portfolios which we expect to begin doing in 2021.”

The company which is publicly traded on the NASDAQ and TSX believe it is “well-positioned to capitalize on the fast-growing demand for bitcoin.”

This isn’t the first time that Mogo has ventured into the cryptocurrency market. Back in 2018, it launched MogoCrypto to enable the buying and selling of Bitcoin in Canada. Recently, it also announced its bitcoin rewards program, an opportunity to earn BTC by engaging with Mogo’s products.

Earlier this month, the company reported a 135% month-over-month increase in the value of Bitcoin traded on its platform from Oct. to Nov. 2020. Feller said,

“We are strong believers in bitcoin as an asset class and believe this investment is consistent with our goal to make bitcoin investing available to all Canadians. In addition, we believe bitcoin represents an attractive investment for our shareholders with significant long-term potential as its adoption continues to grow globally.”

Mogo is just another addition to the long line of companies that have been making corporate investments in the world’s largest cryptocurrency.

MicroStrategy, Square, Ruffer Investment, and many others have jumped on the Bitcoin bandwagon along with the big names like Guggenheim, Paul Tudor Jones, Stanley Druckenmiller, Ben Miller becoming Bitcoiners.

“Most investment banks and private banks will announce crypto offerings,” and “several large public companies will issue BTC-related capital structure instruments,” predicts Su Zhu, CEO of Three Arrows Capital for 2021. He also sees several central banks announcing “substantial stakes in BTC.”

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Author: AnTy

Ruffer Investment Reduces Gold Exposure & Adds Bitcoin as an ‘Insurance Policy’

UK-based traditional asset manager Ruffer Investment is the latest company to allocate 2.5% of its portfolio to Bitcoin.

Much like Paul Tudor Jones, MicroStrategy, Square, MassMutual, and other institutions, Ruffer uses Bitcoin as insurance against the devaluation of the world’s fiat currencies.

The company’s Bitcoin allocation was close to 2.5%, which represents about $740 million (according to a spokesperson that confirmed with CoinDesk). On the other hand, Ruffer’s parent company has £20.3 billion ($27.4 billion) in AUM. The official announcement by the company reads,

“We wanted to give shareholders a short update on performance this year and to let you know about a new allocation to the digital currency bitcoin.”

During its performance update on Dec. 15, the company noted that their portfolio made strong progress even amidst the turmoil of 2020, which was the result of gold and the inflation-linked bonds performing well, and more recently, equities reacted very positively to the success of the covid-19 vaccines, leading the portfolio higher.

The company further stated that they had made a recent addition “within the Ruffer Multi-Strategies Fund,” Bitcoin, which is “primarily a defensive move.” This allocation to Bitcoin was actually made in November “after reducing the company’s exposure to gold,” it said.

It further goes on to say that their bitcoin exposure though small is a “potent insurance policy against the continuing devaluation of the world’s major currencies.”

According to Ruffer, Bitcoin diversified their much larger investments in gold and inflation-linked bonds, adding that the largest cryptocurrency “acts as a hedge to some of the monetary and market risks that we see.”

The company aims to not lose money by being in cash and grow the value of their clients’ assets in the long term.

“Traditional asset managers are not buying bitcoin to dump after a short period of time. They represent the herd we’ve been talking about for years,” said trader and economist Alex Kruger.

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Author: AnTy

ConsenSys Rolls Out MetaMask for Institutions to Bring DeFi to Crypto Funds & Custodians

Ethereum software company ConsenSys has announced a new offering of MetaMask that allows institutions, including crypto funds, custodians, and professional traders, to access decentralized finance (DeFi).

MetaMask is a popular Ethereum wallet with over 1 million monthly active users who recently introduced a token swap feature and increased privacy level.

With DeFi space exploding in 2020, growing to over $14 billion, “Custody providers increasingly seek exposure and access to the diverse, decentralized finance opportunities,” noted ConsesnSys.

According to the firm, professional trading firms’ current process to use the attractive DeFi protocols is inefficient; they are introducing an institutional-grade version of MetaMask.

ConsenSys is working with the digital asset security provider Curv which also announced Curv DeFi for institutions that will integrate MetaMask. Curv Co-Founder and CEO Itay Malinger said,

“Since there is no reliable and secure institutional solution for DeFi, organizations are reverting to retail-level use of MetaMask or custom integrations with individual apps as a workaround.”

“We believe by combining our unique multi-party computation (MPC)-based security infrastructure with MetaMask we will be able to play a significant role in the institutional adoption of DeFi.”

Curv is ConsesnSys’s first launch partner, and it will be collaborating with other custodians and professional trading firms.

Scams Promoted via Google Paid Ads

In other news, MetaMask informed its users about the new scam targeting crypto users – rotter seed phrase attack. These malicious pre-phishing scams are being promoted via paid ads on Google linked to fake versions of wallet websites.

In this attack, a malicious website mimics the original wallet’s website and imitates its onboarding flow. Toward the end of the fake onboarding process on the fake website, the user is instructed to backup their seed phrase previously generated by the scammer.

The user is then taken to the wallet’s real website, where they are instructed to install the wallet and import the rotten seed phrase whose access is with the scammer who waits for the user to add funds to their wallet and then drains the accounts.

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Author: AnTy

Australian Payments Firm, Novatti Launches Partnership With Ripple to Leverage RippleNet

Novatti Group Limited, a digital banking and payments company, announced an innovative partnership with Ripple Inc. this last Monday. The partnership aims to foster the integration of RippleNET, Ripple’s global financial network, in Novatti’s platform to enhance the transfer of funds across South East Asia and the world.

According to the statement obtained by BEG, Novatti becomes one of the major partners of Ripple, allowing the company to “gain access to the RippleNET framework, its capabilities, and the hundreds of financial institutions and clients” Ripple is already working with. The digital payments firm will benefit from the distributed technology network RippleNET provides, including instant settlement transfers and other features such as bi-directional messaging, liquidity management, and credit lines.

The partnership further aims to “increase Novatti’s competitiveness” while offering users better and more efficient payment solutions [especially in Australia and Southeast Asia], managing director of Novatti, Peter Cook, said.

Cook further praised Ripple’s partnership with his sights on integrating the innovative blockchain and decentralized solutions RippleNET offers. He further said,

“In particular, we look forward to working with Ripple to provide our customers with access to their exciting alternative financing solutions so that our customers can free-up capital to focus on growing their businesses.”

At launch, the services will only target cross-border transfers across Australia and South East Asia region customers with a plan to strengthen its hold in the Australian market. This is expected to grow Novatti’s potential revenue and customer base in its core payments business, the report further states.

The company recorded its highest quarterly revenue in data collected in September – a total of $3.65 million – representing a 46% year-on-year growth. Moreover, the company welcomed the partnership of UnionPay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, VISA, and Alipay recently. Cook concluded,

“This partnership will fast-track Novatti’s international expansion, particularly in South-East Asia. In doing so, we aim to deliver increased transaction volumes and revenue growth for Novatti’s core payment processing business.”

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Author: Lujan Odera