Bitcoin Can Only Act As A Hedge Against A Loss Of Confidence In Fiat And Payment System: JPMorgan

  • From calling Bitcoin a “fraud” to the crypto asset having a place in investors’ portfolio
  • “2019 will be remembered for the rise of digital money” – JPMorgan Chase Report
  • Blockchain has its “clearest” use case in “payments, trade finance, and custodial services” but not in supply chain

According to JP Morgan Chase and Co.’s 74-page report later this week states, the digital money will change the financial world.

“2019 will be remembered for the rise of digital money,” the bank said in its report. “The groundwork is now in place for more mainstream adoption of blockchain technology at the same time that the foundation is being established for the development of digital currency and fast payments.”

Back in 2017 JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called Bitcoin a “fraud” and now in 2020, the bank says crypto assets have a place in investors’ portfolio. JPMorgan report said,

“Developments over the past year have not altered our reservations about the limited role that cryptocurrencies play in global portfolio diversification or as a hedge instrument. Crypto assets have a place in investors’ portfolios only as a hedge against a loss of confidence in both the domestic currency and the payments system.”

Rapid adoption faces practical challenges

The New York-based bank said in its report that the emergence of blockchain that underpins Bitcoin and Ether has made the modernization of payments global. While JPMorgan debuted its very own digital coin last year to facilitate cross border payments with a digital asset among the banks, the blockchain system created by Paxos has broken through to the real world and China is developing digital yuan, noted the bank.

It further said blockchain is promising for corporations and banks, yet most corporate efforts are in the early development stage or being tested.

When it comes to using blockchain, JPMorgan sees its “clearest” use cases in “payments, trade finance, and custodial services.” But founds using a distributed ledger to manage the supply chain — “viewed as ripe for disruption is often a limiting factor” — to be a fading application.

However, challenges still remain in the form of technology such as scaling and slow network and regulatory unclarity.

Tech giants are also jumping in on the trend with Facebook launching its so-called cryptocurrency Libra pegged by a basket of fiat currencies. However, it received a lot of backlash from European officials and members of Congress.

“The failed release of Facebook’s Libra serves as a reminder that rapid adoption faces practical challenges to attain scale,” the bank said in the report. In order to succeed, the bank said Libra needs several market mechanisms in place such as less distributed, semi-private networks and short-term liquidity facilities.

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Author: AnTy

Upbit Blames South Korea’s Taxation and KYC Hurdles in Foreigners’ Frozen Funds Saga

Upbit crypto exchange woes are still on after it emerged that foreign clients to this South Korean firm are yet to withdraw their ‘frozen’ funds. The platform suffered a blow when close to $50 million worth of Ether was stolen upon a successful hack towards the end of 2019.

Most of the affected clients are from China with over 6,000 crypto traders’ assets being frozen; they cannot even withdraw using the Korean Won. This group has since concluded that Upbit may be on its way to insolvency and also understated the financial damage caused by November’s 2019 hack. So far, organized efforts to have Upbit act on its obligations have been futile.

Upbit’s Defense

The Korean crypto exchange came out to clear the air on why they are yet to release frozen funds. According to them, structural hurdles under the legalities of financial markets have mainly contributed to this situation.

Top of the list is an internal Korean tax obligation under review; this came up after the authorities took a look of Upbit’s reports in December. The firm however highlighted that,

“Upbit has been working closely with the tax authority to ensure accurate taxation standards, and also with tax experts to review taxation standards by country.”

The other hurdle is a KYC process that has been prolonged despite Upbit submitting updated clients’ records upon request last year. New regulatory pressures from Korea’s regulator may have actually caused this delay given the financial attention and scrutiny triggered by Upbit’s hack.

Users who submitted their ID’s afresh are now wondering whether they are safe or more exposed? This is quite frustrating for them and only time can reveal if indeed Upbit is being truthful in its excuses.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

DeFi App Celsius Partners With Simplex to Integrate Fiat Onramp To Buy Crypto Direct

The UK-based crypto lending firm Celsius Network has just closed a partnership with Simplex so that it can offer in-app crypto purchases, an announcement from February 18 says.

More and more crypto business from all over the world are trying to integrate into their operations the fiat onramp options for their customers to jump into crypto more easily. Simplex is very popular for being a fiat-to-crypto payments provider, especially since it services exchanges like Binance and now it will unlock direct crypto purchases for the users of the Celsius app.

Celsius Clients Will Be Able to Buy BTC and ETH via Credit or Debit Cards

The partnership enables Celsius clients to buy cryptocurrencies such as the Bitcoin (BTC) or the Ether (ETH) just by using their credit or debit cards. Just like other fiat onramps powered by Simplex, the feature supports payments made with via Visa and Mastercard.

Aside from making in-app crypto purchases possible, the partnership will greatly cut the costs of unloading BTC on the Celsius platform. This means transaction fees will be reduced by 50% and the credit or debit card crypto purchases will only charge 3.5%.

The US Dollar Accepted as the Only Currency

When it will be launched, the Celsius platform will accept only the US dollar as a new payment option, says a Celsius spokesperson. More than this, the monthly crypto purchases will have to remain at under $20,000. Simplex was founded back in 2014 as a crypto-enabled payment processor. On February 14, it has unlocked another 15 fiat currencies for Visa and Mastercard payments on Binance.

In the past, Simplex was also providing its services to OKCoin and KuCoin. The Celsius Network reached at the end of 2019 the total crypt loan origination of $4.25 billion.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Blocknox, Boerse Stuttgart Subsidiary, Expands Crypto Custody To Institutional Investors

Boerse Stuttgart subsidiary Blocknox has expanded its crypto custody services to institutional investors, says an announcement made on Tuesday.

Blocknox is already known for offering crypto custody assets services on the escrow basis, but now it has made the same service available to Boerse Stuttgart BISON app’s users and the BSDEX digital assets exchange. The company’s plan is to expand its services even more, behind its own offerings, by safeguarding cryptocurrencies and other types of digital assets for institutional investors, asset managers and banks included.

Blocknox Has Been a Custodian in Germany for Over 1 Year

Talking about Blocknox and its plans, this is what the company’s managing director and Boerse’s chief digital officer, Dr. Ulli Spankowski, had to say:

“As a pioneer in Germany, Blocknox has already been operating as a custodian of cryptocurrencies for more than one year. Now we want institutional clients to benefit from our experience and set-up as well. They can use Blocknox’s reliable custody as a building block for their own services around digital assets.”

Besides, the firm said it already created and deployed a multilevel type of security concept for protecting the assets under its custody.

Blocknox Applying for a Custodian License

Germany has introduced in January new rules for the crypto services providers in the country. Blocknox mentioned it already applied for a license so that it can offer custody services provisionally. Furthermore, it wants to submit a final application before the deadline for becoming a regulated provider of financial services passes.

Spankowski thinks that functioning according to the new rules makes everything more professional in the crypto industry, which can encourage many other institutions to enter the same market. He may be right, as perhaps institutions that haven’t decided to function in the crypto space until now didn’t do it because the regulations were unclear.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Deribit Exchange Launches Ethereum Daily Options After Success With Bitcoin Contracts

The Deribit Exchange specializing in crypto derivatives has launched daily Ether (ETH) options, an announcement from Monday and made on Twitter says.

The strike price intervals for the new product will be $5. Their expiring date will be every day at 08:00 UTC, so traders will only have a window of 24 hours for trading. As far as their trading lifetime goes, this will be 2 days when introduced. Starting with February 19, Deribit will also scale back the tick size for all options, said Andras Caron, Deribit’s CMO. This means the size will be cut back from 0.001 ETH to 0.0005 ETH.

Deribit Volumes Raised Considerably as a Result of ETH Prices Increasing

Deribit also launched longer duration options settled in cash, in late March of last year Ever since, it has traded a $1.9 million average daily volume. The exchange’s volumes have risen considerably when the ETH prices have increased, so on February 13, Deribit had a record volume of $13 million in 1 day. ETH has recently reached its 7-month $290 high and gained almost 100% until now, for this year. The derivatives space has been very heated in the last few months, seeing huge names such as Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) have launched options on Bitcoin (BTC).

Deribit Remains a Leader in Options Volume

Deribit is based in Panama and continues to remain superior as far as options volume. According to Skew, Deribit has handled almost ninety percent of the worldwide volume since January 28.  Deribit’s launch of the daily ETH options arrives just 2 weeks after the daily BTC options went live. This is what Caron had to say about what daily options have to offer users:

“Daily options only have one or two days remaining lifetime and thus lower time value or premium and thus [are] cheaper. These shorter-dated, cheaper options are great instruments to use for short term strategies enabling the trader to hedge events or benefit from expected short term moves.”

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Author: Oana Ularu

Binance Applies for Singapore Crypto License Under The New Payment Services Act

Binance crypto exchange through its parent company has applied for Singapore’s new operating license. This follows an upgrade of laws governing crypto in the FinTech friendly jurisdiction. Singapore sought to advance its payments’ ecosystem legalities as more firms’ leveraging blockchain tech and tokenization set up in the country.

Changpeng Zhao (CZ), has since cleared the air for Binance Holdings noting that its local entity was among the first stakeholders to apply for this new license. According to Mr. Zhao, Binance Singapore is quite open-minded and has been working closely with local authorities since its launch.

Singapore’s Payment Services Act

The payment services act came into being at the beginning of 2020 and is meant to harmonize digital payment operations. This act now regulates crypto market players whose business involves tokens like Ether or clearing and settlements networks that facilitate digital currency transactions.

One of the major reasons for advancing crypto regulation in Singapore was risk minimization. The new payments’ laws are set to empower the country’s Monetary Authority in issues money laundering, terror financing and cybersecurity exposures. Furthermore, it will be much easier to regulate all crypto-oriented firms in Singapore going forward under the same law.

Other firms that have signaled an intention to acquire the new license include Luno and Liquid Group Inc. The two are headquartered in London and Tokyo respectively but have a significant part of their operations in Singapore.

Binance’s swift move in compliance shows that the company’s market prospects in Singapore are promising. The exchange’s operation within this jurisdiction are run under Temasek Holdings’ VC wing, Vertex Venture. Since its inception, Binance has been on an upward growth trajectory despite regulatory uncertainties in booming markets like the U.S. This firm’s journey began with a crypto-to-crypto exchange mindset but is now making game-changing moves in both product innovation and compliance in new territories like Singapore.

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Author: James W

DeFi Startup Amber Raises $28M From Pantera, Coinbase To Expand Operations

The Hong Kong-based firm offering crypto finance services Amber Group has managed to raise $28 million in Series A round of funding.

The main investors were Pantera Capital, Paradigm, Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Fenbushi Capital and Blockchain.com. Dragonfly Capital invested as well. On Friday, Amber Group said the funds are going to be used to add fresh attributes to the platform and expand operations so that client demands are met. Here’s what Michael Wu, the CEO at Amber Group had to say about what the company is planning to do:

“While the industry has come a long way, there is still plenty of work to do in order to meet the growing demands of clients in a fragmented market. We’re thrilled to partner with some of the world’s leading investors and crypto companies to accelerate our mission of strengthening the crypto finance ecosystem.”

Amber Offers its Clients a Plethora of Services

Amber Group offers its clients services like collateralized lending, automated OTC trading and crypto electronic market making. It serves mining pools and companies, hedge funds, wallets and exchanges. The CEO and founder of Pantera Capital, Dan Morehead, had this to say about the investment its company made in Amber:

“Our most successful investments have been when we’ve found companies doing something better than we can ourselves. Amber dramatically improved our electronic execution across a wide spectrum of assets.”

Amber AI Was the First Ever Created Amber Structure

In 2015, Amber started as Amber AI, a company providing artificial intelligence algorithms for trading Chinese stocks and securities. In 2017, it switched to crypto as there were huge opportunities for arbitrage. They could, for example, buy from one exchange Bitcoin (BTC) for $7,300 and sell it on another exchange for $7,700, making this way a 5% profit. In the October – December 2017 time period, Amber gained 100% to 200% each month, even though its total assets were only a few millions of US dollars.

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Author: Oana Ularu

OKEx, CoinDCX Exchange Form Partnership to Offer Leveraged Futures in India

The Mumbai-based crypto exchange CoinDCX and the trading platform OKEx have closed a partnership in order to offer Indian customers leveraged futures.

The announcement was made on Friday and says that OKEx is going to help CoinDCX to develop DCXfutures, a new derivative facility in return for introducing the trading platform to the Indian market. By using DCXfutures, investors from India will be given the option to trade the 15x leveraged futures provided by OKEx. The platform will be available for both retail and institutional investors, offering futures contracts in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). Here’s what the head of OKEx India, Zaz Zou had to say about the new partnership:

“India is primed to be the driving force behind the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, which is why we are keen on adding more equitable currencies to the ecosystem. We believe having a variety of options to transact digital currencies will bolster the growth of economy in India as it positively impacts both crowdfunding and institutional funding.”

Crypto Ban in India Still to Be Ruled On

In the following weeks, the Supreme Court of India is expected to rule over the banking ban issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Anticipating that the ruling will be in their favor, many crypto companies in the country are starting to set their stalls out. In November 2019, Binance acquired the Indian exchange WazirX and entered the Indian market.

A Growing Demand for Futures

The audit and credit rating firm Crebaco Global has looked at the crypto scene in India, and calculated that if regulated properly, it can reach the $12.9 billion market size, not to mention that it can create somewhere in between 25,000 to 30,000 jobs. This is what Sumit Gupta, the CEO of CoinDCX said about the Indian market and what’s expected of it:

“We have witnessed rapidly growing demand for futures trading among Indian cryptocurrency market participants. […] huge potential of cryptocurrency markets to accelerate economic growth and wealth generation.”

DCXfutures is currently open for testers and expected to become available for the public in Q2 of 2020.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Ex-Wall Street Team Builds ExOne Platform To Battle The ‘Fragmented’ Crypto Market

  • New liquidity solution unveiled to reduce the discrepancies and inefficiencies in the crypto trading market.
  • Former trading gurus at NASDAQ, Visa and Morgan Stanley, are developing a similar product to the ‘best bid and offer’ in traditional markets.

On Wednesday this week, XRP perpetual contracts on BitMEX experienced a flash crash causing an outrage from users, some complaining that their whole account was wiped out. For a relatively big exchange like BitMEX flash crashes should be rare but happens all the time due to liquidity issues as the crypto market continues to mature.

Well, Apifiny, a trading tech development firm, announced a possible solution to the increasing market inefficiencies in the market leading with a liquidity solution, ExOne. According to the official website, the back-end tool introduces traditional market solutions in non-traditional markets such as digital assets trading offering a wide range of advantages.

According to the former vice chair of NASDAQ and Co-Chairman at Apifiny, the fragmented market in the crypto industry and inefficiencies are the main issues ExOne will be trying to solve in the coming days. He said,

“These marketplaces are highly fragmented and remarkably inefficient. If an investor goes to one marketplace the bid that he sees in that one marketplace may be wildly different than it is in another venue.”

The team consists of a number of former professional traders including Ashu Swami, former VP of Program trading at Morgan Stanley; Head of Product Connie Wong, former Design Lead at Kraken, and CEO of Retail Product Ben Rab, formerly Visa’s head of Global Network Product Support.

A “Best Bid and Offer” solution

Traders in traditional markets are used to a stable quote rate as the data is consolidated before it’s broadcasted on trading platforms. However in the crypto world, the markets are fragmented hence the need for a similar best bid and offer as traditional markets to secure the most optimal bid for retail clients.

The product is still in development with official launch dates set to be released soon. Co-Chairman David Wield, a former vice chair of NASDAQ said,

“This is what we’re looking to do in the digital asset space, broadly defined and globally.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Binance Adds 15 New Instant Fiat-to-Crypto Conversions With Simplex Partnership

Trying to corner local markets, the Malta-based crypto exchange Binance has added support for 15 more fiat currencies through the integration with Simplex.

Gateways for currencies like the Korean won, the Swiss franc, the Polish zloty, the South African rand and the Australian dollar have been created and made available through the exchange’s fiat-to-crypto trading facility. The Russian ruble and the pound sterling are now Simplex supported too. The integration was confirmed by developers to be fully operational until Thursday in the afternoon.

Binance’s Base Cryptocurrencies Will Be Paired with the Supported Fiat Currencies

The supported fiat currencies are going to be paired with the base cryptocurrencies on Binance, which are the assets used by the exchange for default trading pairs. These cryptocurrencies include the Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and XRP, while the fiat currencies include the US dollar and even the Nigerian naira.

It seems that fiat volumes are not that significant for the trading activity on Binance, seeing from a daily volume of about $3.5 billion, $3.5 million is fiat. Most of this volume is in US dollars since a gateway for this currency became open. As Binance is folding some of the currencies it supports into US dollars, it’s still not sure if end-users are the ones who generated the exchange’s dollar volume.

Simplex and Binance Working Together Since 2019

Simplex and Binance have become partners in January 2019. They allow users to buy crypto using their debit and credit cards in either euros, Canadian dollars, US dollars and Japanese yens. While the fee charged is 3% plus $10 on purchases under $200, it’s still cheaper than the card or bank providers’ transactions, which levy a 3% FX fee aside from the usual fiat-crypto swap fees. By encouraging users to make trades in their local currency, Binance is becoming more global.

In October 2019, the company’s CEO Changpeng Zhao said Binance integrated the Russian ruble because Russia was representing one of the key markers for the exchange. Thursday, the firm hired a product lead that used to work for Uber in order to expand its services to local markets.

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Author: Oana Ularu