Bitfinex Launches Perpetual Contracts Settled In Tether (USDt) for Europe 50 and Germany 30

  • The renowned crypto exchange, Bitfinex, is expanding its product line beyond crypto assets and is rolling out an equity index derivatives which will settle in the controversial stablecoin Tether (USDt).

According to a press release shared with Bitcoin Exchange Guide, the perpetual contracts will be on Europe 50 and Germany 30 and are set to go live on Monday. The firm also clarified that the new offering would provide its clients with exposure to conventional stock markets.

Europe 50 represents the STOXX Europe Index that covers about 50 stocks based in 18 countries in Europe. On the other hand, Germany 30 is a representative of the Deutscher Aktien Index (DAX), which covers Germany’s 30 most significant stocks listed in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

According to the press release, every contract will provide up to 100x leverage, and USDt will be used for settling.

An equity derivative can be equated to a traditional futures contract; however, it comes with no expiry and operates like a margin-based spot market. Bitfinex Derivatives CTO, Paolo Ardoino explained:

“This is the first time that an exchange from the digital asset space has launched a product that bridges the gap with traditional stock markets, representing a significant milestone in the evolution of crypto as an established asset class.”

Ardoino also explained that Bitfinex was motivated to move to the traditional markets by CME moving to Bitcoin futures. Ardoino says that the new product will help in improving cross-asset trading initiatives in the crypto space.

Ardoino also explained that since the new offering will settle in USDt and will help in the reduction of forex as well as interest rate risks. This will also aid in ensuring that the trading is seamless as well as efficient, said Ardoino.

The new product will be available in the selected countries and only for verified users. This means that traders wishing to trade the new product will need to go through the various due diligence aspects to verify their source of funds, identity, and banking history.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Crypto Exchange Gemini Makes an Aggressive Move, Adds 15 Hot DeFi Tokens

DeFi is all the rage in today’s crypto world, and no one wants to be left behind, especially cryptocurrency exchanges.

Over the past few months, we saw these exchanges rushing to DeFi space – in the fastest ever listing of these tokens, a complete U-turn from the past few years when crypto projects had to approach them or even pay them to get their tokens listed.

Coinbase has already jumped the altcoins and DeFi mania, this time, it’s Gemini which defines DeFi as a “warm ray of sunlight shining down on us during the winter of our financial discontent.”

According to the exchange’s official announcement, “the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) revolution is coming into bloom, and it presents the possibility of permissionless, bankless, alternatives to the legacy financial system.”

The promise of DeFi is apparently “aligned” with Gemini’s “ethos” of giving its customers “greater choice, independence, and opportunity.”

While the exchange says these new tokens make up some of the major building blocks of DeFi, still, it warns that they present “unique risks,” and the listing doesn’t endorse the protocol and “makes no recommendation that” customers participate in the DeFi ecosystem.

Up until today, Gemini’s list of cryptos was extremely limited. A meager nine coins were available on the exchange for trading viz. BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, ZEC, BAT, LINK, DAI, and OXT.

But on Friday, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss-founded crypto exchange has made an aggressive move and extended this list to 15 more coins.

“We are proud to be the first regulated platform to offer trading and custody support in the State of New York,” for a total of 24 cryptos.

The exchange announced new support for the most popular DeFi tokens, including Balancer (BAL), Curve (CRV), Ren Network (REN), Synthetix Network (SNX), Uma (UMA), Uniswap (UNI), and Yearn.finance (YFI) which are available for both trading and custody.

Five tokens that were previously supported for custody, Decentraland (MANA), Kyber Network (KNC), Maker (MKR), Storj (STORJ), and 0x (ZRX), are now available for trading as well.

On top of this, Keep Network (KEEP), Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC), and tBTC (tBTC), three new coins altogether, have been added to its custody.

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Author: AnTy

VISA Execs Focus on Crypto And Blockchain Development As Its The Future Of Payments

Two of Visa’s largest executives in charge of crypto payments and blockchain technology gave a detailed interview on the overall crypto ecosystem. The interview of the pair, by Forbes, touched on how the company is structuring its business on the crypto and blockchain front to integrate innovative solutions to current payment problems.

The executives also highlighted the impact of the central bank’s digital currencies (CBDCs), stablecoins such as Libra, and the future of digital payments, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain in Visa’s strategy.

Visa Executives share firm’s visions in crypto and blockchain

As SVP global head of fintech at Visa, Terry Angelos handles a distributed network of groups building solutions on blockchain and deals with clients in the crypto space. Cuy Sheffield’s role as the senior director in charge of crypto at Visa speaks on the way Visa’s fintech clients in the crypto and blockchain space can leverage existing products.

Visa has been making partnerships across the globe – recently partnering with Coinbase exchange, which saw the crypto exchange become the first Visa cards issuer. The partnership has since made waves across the crypto universe. Other recent partnerships include;

Responding on the number of crypto and blockchain clients Visa has so far, Terry said,

“So far, we have onboarded about 25 companies from around the world that are at various stages of development. Given this diversity, our engagement with them can go down a few different paths. First, there are very large and established companies like Coinbase, which we simply treat as strategic fintech clients.”

Further clarifying the distinction between how they rank their clients, Terry explained crypto companies as those that work with “assets that are natively issued onto a blockchain.” On the other hand, digital currencies are defined as “tokenized versions of fiat, such as what Coinbase and Circle are doing with USDC.”

A clear look on CBDCs from Visa

On the subject of the development of central bank digital currencies, Sheffield said Visa is ‘closely working with some of them in the development of a CBDC”. He stated for CBDCs to gain global traction, the assets must-have utility and should be acceptable by merchants,

“We think there’s a big opportunity for Visa to leverage our existing network and assets and expertise to add value to both central banks as they think about CBDCs, as well as to other private sector entities that are exploring these privately issued stable coins.”

Read More: CBDC’s Are The Future Of Money & Payment Ecosystems: Visa’s Head Of Crypto

Visa also led the founding team of the Libra Association before quitting a year ago, claiming they are concentrating on their payment projects. Cuy further explained that Visa is currently not looking for a consortium (recently joined Chamber of Digital Commerce) after leaving the Libra Association. He added,

“I doubt that we would join any exclusively.”

On his closing remarks, Terry highlighted that Visa is focusing on launching offline digital currency payment solutions in the future. He remarked, “One area that we’ve spent time on as well is offline digital currency payments,” he remarked.

“When central banks think about CBDCs, one of the potential features that they are paying attention to is offline payments.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

China Blacklists Crypto OTC Trading Desks With A Five-Year Banking Ban As Punishment

  • PBoC blacklists crypto OTC traders in its latest efforts to crack down on money laundering.
  • This has caused several OTC trading desks to shut down as the future turns bleak.
  • The central bank set a three to five-year banking ban in the country as punishment.

Bitcoin over-the-counter (OTC) traders could be facing up to a five-year ban on their banking accounts in China, local reports state. The central bank, People’s Bank of China (PBoC), is heavily cracking down on money laundering activities and is blacklisting several OTC trading desks dealing in cryptocurrencies.

Recently, the Chinese central bank had enhanced its efforts in cracking down money laundering activities hence the latest move. In a bid to stop the illicit and illegal trades, the PBoC is taking a step affront to combat cryptocurrencies being used to launder funds by setting some of the OTC traders under its “disciplinary list.”

The first step in PBoC’s crackdown in the crypto ecosystem will target large OTC traders who trade in millions. According to the report, exchanges that allow transactions away from the public and transact high volumes will be blacklisted. Some have already faced the brunt, having their bank accounts and bank-issued cards blacklisted for the next three years and their online accounts banned for the next five years.

Local banks and financial institutions are now in charge of monitoring money laundering, bidding to keep the vice away at the lowest levels and higher levels of government. The institutions quickly flag and restrict the transactions involved in money laundering, and subsequently, the information is transferred to the local branch of the PBoC.

Once registered, the “blacklist” is transferred to other banks and local financial institutions across the country. This prevents the OTC dealers on the disciplinary list from opening and transferring funds to new accounts.

Despite the crackdown, regulations on cryptocurrency transactions within China remain slim – leaving a grey area on the crypto transactions by investors. Because there are no corresponding rules and regulations, “various financial institutions have different judgment standards for cryptocurrency transactions” hence some crypto OTC desks could be flagged by some local financial institutions.

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Author: Lujan Odera

‘Bullish Divergence’ for SNX; Nearly 80% of Synthetix’s Native Token is Locked as Collateral

Synthetix currently has about $600 million worth of crypto deposit locked, which is in decline since hitting the record $1 billion on Sept. 2nd, as per DeFi Pulse.

One of the top DeFi protocols, Synthetix, is a synthetic asset issuance and trading protocol that tracks real-world assets like crypto, fiat, and stocks and uses Chainlink’s oracle for price feed.

Launched on mainnet earlier last year, the protocol has a native token called SNX, which can be locked as collateral along with ETH to mint Synths, which are tradeable ERC20 tokens. Token holders also get the transaction fees generated from Synths being exchanged on Synthetix’s non-custodial DEX.

Ranked 40th as per market cap of $408 million, SNX currently trades at $4.10 in green. While up 500% YTD, the token has lost about 35% of its value in the past month.

But unlike the price, the address activity is holding up nicely with DAA sitting “well above its expected historical levels.”

“When price levels move down, but address activity stays high, this is something we tout as a bullish divergence,” states data provider Santiment.

So Little to Accumulate

With nearly 80% of SNX locked as collateral for minting synths like sUSD, only a small percentage of SNX supply is left for accumulation.

A meager, 3.8% of all SNX is available on crypto exchanges viz. Binance, Uniswap, Poloniex, and Kucoin.

For large players, the over-the-counter (OTC) market, which tends to be opaque, is the place to get their bid filled without incurring much slippage. Here, market participants make use of Airswap and Deversifi’s smart contracts to execute OTC deals.

Over the last six months, 4,520,232 SNX, 3.78% of the circulating SNX supply, worth over $21 million have been swapped through Airswap. During this period, July was the busiest month with 11 trades conducted.

It was also in that month that the leading spot exchange Binance listed SNX, which @Neuros12 says “likely to weigh negatively on future OTC activity for SNX.” With more than 5 million SNX in its wallet, Binance is the largest SNX holder among the centralized and decentralized exchanges.

Keep on Building

The protocol is currently preparing for a technical release called The Fomalhaut that includes Ether collateral enable ETH holders to mint sUSD when sUSD is trading above $1 to help reduce the premium and opening the possibility of sUSD borrowing against BTC tokens such as renBTC and tBTC in future.

Exchange rates aggregator V3 and migrating iETH rewards to the protocol, decrease to 0 SNX per week are also part of it. The Synthetix team continues to build and become an integral part of the DeFi ecosystem.

Amidst the sky-high Ether gas fees, there are also plans to implement layer2 solutions to scale the Ethereum network, which has gotten congested due to DeFi’s speculative frenzy.

“Everyone priced out of staking SNX due to high gas prices is about to be unpriced out,” tweeted Synthetix founder Kain Warwick.

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Author: AnTy

Trader Calls for an Extended DeFi Winter for the Best Performing Assets of 2020

The decentralized finance (DeFi) rage made many people in the crypto community very rich. With DeFi tokens surging by as much as 10,000% and more, they have become the best-performing assets of 2020, so far.

2020 saw everything from stocks, bonds, and commodities flying, hitting new all-time highs (ATH). But nothing compares to the success of DeFi.

In the macro, the YTD returns have been: gold 25% and S&P 500 2.62%.

In the crypto market, Bitcoin recorded 45.7% returns YTD. The center of the DeFi world, Ether, which according to Bloomberg strategist Mike McGlone, “appears to be maintaining its platform leadership status” meanwhile rallied 160%.

Now, in the DeFi market, the top year-to-date performers include Cream (+98,900%), Aave (+2,617%), YFI (+2,144%), Loopring (+953%), and Melon Protocol (+877%).

Crypto assets performed well during the Covid-19 crisis thanks to Bitcoin becoming a “refuge” like gold and offering a store of value amidst the concerns of fiat devaluation, weakening dollar, and inflation propelled by huge stimulus injections to counter the pandemic.

“A purely ethereal instrument performs well when the real economy is on pause,” said Marc Fleury, CEO of crypto asset management and fintech firm Two Prime.

As for DeFi solutions, they basically port financial functions like lending, borrowing, trading, earnings, and insuring on blockchains.

DeFi also led to a surge in interest in Ethereum contracts, with 5.2 million ETH now locked in the sector, as per DeFi Pulse.

“Retail cryptocurrency users have increasingly turned to derivatives to maximize their returns,” said Aziz Zainuddin, chief product officer of Fasset.

Time for a Break?

However, recently the growth of DeFi is slowing down. On Sept. 18, the DeFi collateral levels reached over $13.2 billion from less than $700 million at the start of the year.

This week, the losses recorded by DeFi tokens have the TVL of DeFi declining to $6.3 billion, currently around $8 billion.

While the deposits are struggling to get back up, the price of the tokens has been taking a hard beating for the past few days.

In the past seven days, DeFi projects have lost a considerable amount of their value, including Swerve (65%), Rune (59%), Balancer (32%), UMA (30%), YFI (30%), Bancor (25%), and Curve (20%) to name a few.

“Been expecting a DeFi mini-winter since two weeks ago, but the kind of obnoxious shit that happened last few days makes think we are headed for a much longer winter. Could easily be invalidated by price action but need to be mentally prepared whether you’re an investor or founder,” said entrepreneur and quant trader, Qiao Wang.

While the past week, the largest DEX by volume Uniswap launched its much anticipated token UNI, this week, a group of large accounts were caught dumping their coin.

This week, we also saw Curve fork Swerve’s TVL crashing from over a billion-dollar last week to a mere $44 million today.

But while the Defi bull market might take a pause, the builders aren’t stopping

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Author: AnTy

South Korean Crypto Exchange, Bithumb, Is Back on the Market for $430 Million

  • Bithumb crypto exchange is back on the market.
  • This follows a failed buy attempt in 2018 for 400 billion Korean Won.
  • Management complications and legal difficulties are making the sale drag along

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, Bithumb, is reportedly looking for a buyer after a failed purchase in 2018. The exchange has been plagued by legal and management rights issues in the recent past, which could make the 500 billion Korean won ($430 million) sale almost impossible.

On Tuesday, the local financial news website, Herald Economy, reported Bithumb, South Korea’s largest crypto exchange is on the market for a buyer. According to the post, the investment bank participants are starting to take note of Bithumb’s sale, with the exchange boasting of nearly 5 million customers.

The investment banks report that Bithumb Holdings, the majority stakeholder in Bithumb exchange with 74% ownership, is looking to sell-off the exchange. One of the best audit firms in the country, Samjung KPMG, is in charge of selling the exchange between 500 billion won ($430 million) and 700 billion KRW ($608 million).

Since setting up the sale earlier this month, Bithumb has received several letters of buyer’s intent from domestic and foreign investors who see potential in the exchange. Despite the rising interest in Bithumb, there remain legal, and management complications are troubling the exchange and hence making it hard for investors to buy it. One investment banker focusing on the sale said,

“As management rights disputes and legal disputes continue, we are speculating that investors are trying to recover their investments and get out of their hands through the sale.”

Can Bithumb complete its 500 billion won sale?

On September 7, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Intelligent Crime Investigation Unit raided the Bithumb Holding main offices to find evidence to build a case against Lee Jung-hoon, Chairman of the board of directors at Bithumb Global and Bithumb Korea. Lee is charged with fraud after raising over $25 million in BXA tokens, Bithumb’s native token, investors, and not listing it afterward.

This raid followed a Sept 2 raid in the building, as federal investigations continue on the BXA token case. However, this is not the only problem facing a possible acquisition of Bithumb.

Read more: Court Enforces Seizure Of Korean Crypto Exchange Bithumb’s Shares

In 2018, Bithumb Holding was prepared to sell the exchange to South Korean BK Global Consortium, led by BK Medical Group Chairman Kim Byung-gun, for 400 billion won ($345 million). While the deal was ready to be closed, Kim Byung-gun failed to raise the rest of the investment and saw the deal fall through late October 2018.

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Author: Lujan Odera

bitFlyer Europe Integrates PayPal To Bridge the Fiat-Crypto Gap For European Traders

bitFlyer Europe, the subsidiary of one of Japan’s largest crypto exchanges, has integrated PaPal, which will allow its European clients to deposit and purchase tokens directly from their PayPal accounts.

According to the official announcement, the integration between the giant online payment platform and bitFlyer will play a major part in bridging the gap between the crypto space and fiat for European crypto enthusiasts.

Although bitFlyer Europe currently allows wire card transfers, one to three days is required for clearance. PayPal integration will allow customers to make near-instant deposits.

The announcement states that bitFlyer Europe customers can henceforth deposit euros from PayPal directly to their wallets and trade different cryptos. The statement also said that no extra charges would be passed onto the customer. Jacek Bastin, bitFlyer Europe manager in charge of business strategy, clarified:

“bitFlyer charges no handling or processing costs on top of the fees charged by PayPal.”

Since PayPal has about 340 million users globally and handles approximately 35% of the total eCommerce dealings within Europe. It is expected that the integration will help in exposing a wide array of European netizens to the bitFlyer platform, as well as to the crypto world in general.

Without going into details, Bastin revealed that bitFlyer Europe is working on several projects to ensure crypto trading becomes more accessible and secure to everyone.

bitFlyer has embarked on several activities to expand its reach globally with the firm opening branches in Europe and the United States in the recent past. Integration with PayPal is an effort by the firm to attract more crypto enthusiasts and worshippers to its platform.

PayPal has also been gearing up to enhance its innovation by using cryptos as well as blockchain technology. In June this year, PayPal announced it was hiring crypto and blockchain engineers, and it is alleged that the platform is looking on ways it can enable crypto buying for its worldwide users.

In a letter to the European Commission, PayPal stated that it was carefully assessing the worldwide developments in the crypto and blockchain spheres.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Overstock’s Crypto Trading Subsidiary, tZERO, Hits Record High Volumes in August

  • tZERO, the crypto trading app backed by retail giant Overstock, has announced new record volumes in August.
  • This digital securities platform noted that both their crypto trading app and blockchain-built alternative trading system (ATS) experienced the highest activity since they were launched back in June 2019.

The month of August saw tZERO’s user base grow by 11% compared to July, marking an increase of more than 1,000 new users on the digital asset app. Notably, this year has been relatively bullish for tZERO with a total of 143% growth in user base since it began. The platform is now looking to give traditional brokers a run for their money when it comes to offering digital securities trading services to Wall Street.

Going by last month’s stats, tZERO’s digital asset app grew by around threefold in traded dollar volumes. The reported figure, which is $22 million, is a jump from July’s $7.6 million, while the year-over-year growth stood at 684%. Saum Noursalehi, the CEO of tZERO, further highlighted significant milestones by the project,

“In addition to delivering record trading volume on the tZERO ATS in August, the St. Regis Aspen (ASPD) digital security began trading … These wins, coupled with FINRA’s approval of tZERO Markets, are exciting, and we look forward to offering our crypto customers the opportunity to open brokerage accounts at zero Markets.”

The platform is now incentivizing activity with its recently rolled out zero-fee structure for publicly-traded digital securities; private ones, however, retained the previous fee structure. Nonetheless, the project is not yet out of the words when it comes to product scaling and attracting heavyweight investors to compete favorably against traditional brokerages.

Apart from the crypto trading app, tZERO has been actively involved in the tokenization of assets, not limited to real estate and film productions. It is also quite noteworthy that Overstock began accepting BTC payments as early as 2014, giving the retailer a head start in the space.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

FinTech Firm, Wirex, to Launch A Multi-Currency Mastercard Card With 2% Crypto-Back in Europe

Wirex, the inaugural crypto firm to become a Mastercard principal member, is set to roll on its new multi-currency card days after gaining principal membership.

The crypto payment platform is based in London and is licensed by Uk’s Financial Conduct Authority to offer crypto cards across Europe.

The new multi-currency Wirex Card will be backed by Mastercard and will be connected to 19 crypto as well as fiat currency accounts found in the Wirex app. The firm is however yet to issue the release date.

In efforts to boost the utilization of crypto in everyday payments, the firm is also enhancing its existing cryptoback rewards program that has so far been rewarding crypto users with upto 1.5% back in Bitcoin for every in-store transaction.

Going forward, crypto users will enjoy a 2% cryptoback for both in-store and online transactions. In addition, users will get up to 6% rewards on their native Wirex Token balance per year.

Before releasing the Mastercard backed crypto card, Wirex is also set to release various new features taking advantage of the recent partnership with LHV, a payments solution firm.

Within the European Economic Area, the new features which are now live come with support for five fresh currencies consisting of Hungarian forint, Czech Koruna, Romanian leu, Croatian kuna and Polish złoty.

Wirex has in the recent past enjoyed an increase in support with the platform revealing that it has more than three million users in the start of the year. According to the firm’s CEO, the firm has seen adoption especially among mainstream users that are not usually hardcore crypto worshippers or enthusiasts.

Wirex platform allows users from about 130 nations to use their crypto as well as fiat money via an existing dedicated Visa card as well as mobile app.

Recently, there have been positive signs of integration between plastic money and crypto as both Visa and Mastercard have enhanced their efforts to form working relationships with various established crypt-based companies.

Coinbase card was the inaugural crypto card to be issued in the United States and is backed by both Mastercard and Visa.

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Author: Joseph Kibe