Galaxy Digital’s Novogratz Remains Bullish as Ever on BTC: “This is the Time for Bitcoin”

The price of Bitcoin has surged 74% from the low the digital currency put on March 12. However, we are still down 36% from 2020 high of about $10,500. But according to billionaire investor Mike Novogratz instead of panicking, this should be taken as a buy the dip opportunity.

In a recent interview with CNBC, the Galaxy Digital Holdings’ CEO said, “If there was ever a time — debasement of fiat currencies, monetization of trillions of dollars of debt, this is the time for Bitcoin.”

The bitcoin bull predicted on Tuesday that the world’s leading cryptocurrency would rally this year as it was designed after the 2008 financial crisis to be an alternative when central banks “run amok.”

In recent weeks, we saw central banks around the world announcing trillions of dollars in stimulus to pump in the financial markets and promising every step necessary to combat the impact of coronavirus on their economies.

“It needs to rally this year,” said Novogratz. “If at the end of the year Bitcoin’s not a lot higher, I’m going to scratch my head and say, ‘Look, what the heck is going on?’”

Bitcoin Looking Promising

Currently, BTC/USD is trading under $6,700 after surging to $6,990 after the $2 trillion stimulus coronavirus bill was passed. The move yet again followed the stock market. Yesterday, the Dow Industrial Average had its historic rise only today to swing between gains and losses.

Meanwhile, one technical indicator, GTI VERA Convergence Divergence is flashing a buy signal. Moreover, according to Christel Quek, co-founder of Bolt Global,

“It could be very likely that traditional investors are seeking to regain liquidity through profit hunting from crypto assets as equities are negative worldwide.”

However, in the short-term, in the next 1 to 2 months, economist and trader Alex Kruger sees everything from equities, their volatility, bitcoin if it remains risk-on, and crude oil to be lower.

It’s worth noting, in less than two months, Bitcoin will experience its third reward halving that would cut down miners block rewards while the cost of mining bitcoin will surge between $12000 to $15,000.

In the next six months, the economist sees equities and gold higher while his 12 months’ view is everything from equities, its volatility, gold to bitcoin going higher. But the main risk he said is if the equities’ bottom is in because of the rising coronavirus cases and the period of lockdown in the US.

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Author: AnTy

Bitfinex Rolls Out Shimmer Surveillance Tool To Reduce Suspicious Trading Activities

One of the largest digital currency exchanges, Bitfinex, has made on Tuesday the announcement that it’s going to deploy a proprietary surveillance tool that can combat all the abuse happening in the crypto trading market.

The tool is called Shimmer and will help Bitfinex both identify and investigate potential suspicious and manipulative practices, an activity that’s supposed to improve the market’s visibility and integrity, according to the exchange.

Bitfinex Decided to Develop Its Own Surveillance System

Bitfinex’s CTO, Paolo Ardoino, said about the new tool that:

“Comprehensive market and trade surveillance capabilities are integral to operating a leading cryptocurrency exchange. To meet the complex needs of an evolving digital asset class and to protect our sophisticated participants, Bitfinex has chosen to develop its own state-of-the-art surveillance system. This will help to assure that potentially manipulative practices are rooted out and suspicious behaviour detected.”

In case Shimmer finds anything unusual, it immediately sends the details of the potential manipulation to the exchange’s surveillance team. The information arrives in the form of emails and includes summaries of the suspicious trading patterns on the exchange’s pairs.

What Measures Will be Taken to Stop Manipulation?

One of Shimmer’s ways to block manipulative tactics is wash trading. Wash trading can take place when users buy and sell assets to mislead the market, or are trying layering, the situation of buy orders being used to confuse what’s being circulated about the demand and supply of a specific token.

Bitfinex Suspected of Market Manipulation

Some voices are saying Shimmer is only a mirage, as Bitfinex has ties with Crypto Capital, the controversial payment processing company. It seems the exchange lost funds worth about $1 billion more than a year ago, and the money were in Crypto Capital’s holding. Crypto Capital claims Portuguese, American and Polish officials have seized those funds.

In other words, Bitfinex faces charges of manipulation the market itself, seeing it lost so much through Crypto Capital. More than this, iFinex, which is the company owning Bitfinex and Tether, has a lawsuit going on. This lawsuit was filed by the New York Attorney General’s office and charges the iFinex with using Tether reserves illegally to replace about $850 million of Bitfinex users’ funds.

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Author: Oana Ularu

China Moves Closer to Issuing its Digital Currency in the Face of Coronavirus: Report

  • Alibaba, the company involved in the development of China’s digital currency filed for a patent related to the digital currency
  • The news came hot on the heels of new coronavirus bill in Congress proposing a digital dollar

The People’s Bank of China is getting nearer to releasing its digital currency, reports The Global Times.

According to the latest report, China’s central bank in collaboration with private companies has completed the development of the basic function of the autonomous digital currency and is now drafting laws for its circulation.

Many companies in the private sector, most located in Shenzhen such as Alibaba, Huawei, Tencent, and China Merchant Bank are the participants in the development of China’s digital currency.

Alibaba’s financial arm, Alipay, has made public 5 patents pertinent to China’s  digital currency from 1/21 to 3/17.

The patents address digital wallets, issuance, transaction recording, and anti-money laundering aspects of the digital currency.

The next step in this process is working with financial services and regulators of insurance as well as passing legislation that could be lengthy and as such no exact date has been set for the launch.

Coronavirus Pandemic Pushing for the Need of Digital Currency

This report came close on the heels of the US considering creating a digital dollar to save the US economy from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual greenback could be used to send payments of $1,000 for minors and $2,000 to legal adults.

Both the draft bills “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act” and the “Financial Protections and Assistance for America’s Consumers, States, Businesses, and Vulnerable Populations Act,” suggest the creation of a digital dollar.

Digital currency is seen as the “most convenient tool” to translate central banks’ zero and negative interest policy to commercial banks.

Citing the industry insiders, the Global Times also reported China should accelerate the availability of its digital currency as interest rates are driven into negative territory around the world to improve liquidity in the market amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Cao Yan, vice director of the Advanced Research Institute of Blockchain, the central bank should accelerate the launch of its CBDC due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Cao said,

“If there is a chance China is considering lowering its interest rate into negative territory as a final option and directing such policy to commercial loans and lending, a circulated digital currency rather than M0 will be able to achieve that.”

He believes the development of the digital currency would be more efficient if the bank works with private institutions that are involved with blockchain technology and 3rd party payment processes.

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Author: AnTy

Hawaii Opens Up Regulatory Sandbox For Crypto Payment Companies Till 2021

Hawaii launches a regulatory sandbox, “Digital Currency Innovation Lab”, a pilot program to boost the understanding of digital currencies. The program will run for two years offering crypto startups and companies an opportunity to do business in the country “without obtaining a state money transmitter license.”

Hawaii launches the Digital Currency Innovation Lab

In a joint partnership among three financial authorities in Hawaii, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) and Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC), cryptocurrency payment services will now be able to carry out business in the state under the new sandbox program. The new program is set to assist the authorities shape up regulations for the industry while understanding it deeper.

Furthermore, this looks set to relax the arduous rules that crypto companies have had to deal with over the past few years in the state. One particular rule that is set to be eased is the “double-reserve” requirement that states companies can only hold as much fiat currency as their customers hold crypto.

Those companies that will be selected in the program will have total autonomy to carry out business activities that would previously been considered unlicensed money transfer activity. This means none of the financial authorities will take action for companies registered in the program. Iris Ikeda, Commissioner of Financial Institutions says,

“DFI is leveraging its statutory authority to provide an innovative way to introduce digital currency issuers into the State of Hawaii, while ensuring the safety of our consumers.”

“Financial authorities to benefit from program”

The digital currency pilot program is specifically set to help in regulating the crypto payments industry in the state better according to Len Higashi, acting executive director of HTDC. Len believes Hawaii will lead in the digital currency payments race by being an early adopter. He remarked,

“By spearheading the Digital Currency Innovation Lab, Hawaii can position itself on the forefront of financial technology and potentially, reap the economic benefits that accompany the leadership stance taken.”

Iris also believes that the project will help in understanding and appreciating the overall advantages that cryptocurrency offers. He said,

“By acknowledging digital currencies as a transmission vehicle of the future, we will be able to craft legislation that is conducive to its development in Hawaii.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

AZ Congressman Gosar Updates ‘Crypto-Currency Act of 2020’ Bill To Provide More Clarity

The US congressman Paul Gosar just introduced the Crypto Currency Act of 2020 that aims to bring more clarity on which regulator should cover digital assets.

The bill proposal says digital assets should be divided in 3 categories: crypto commodities, crypto securities and crypto currencies. These 3 should be governed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and respectively the Secretary of the Treasury through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The Bill Initially Introduced in December

As a matter of fact, the bill (as first seen by CoinTelegraph) is an updated version of another one from December, and it’s now covering the definitions of smart contracts and decentralized cryptographic ledgers, both concepts with which they US regulators are struggling. It’s more explicit when it comes what primary and sole regulatory responsibilities mean too.

Gosar Presenting the Bill Solo

Not at all usual for the congressional practice, congressman Gosar doesn’t have a co-sponsor for the bill. His communication director explained that:

“Since this is such a niche issue, we worked with stakeholders and outside groups/experts to get a good sense of the kind of clarity that the industry needed. We chose to gather stakeholder support before working toward cosponsors.”

However, Erik Finman, the famous Bitcoin (BTC) investor wan involved in drafting the new bill. Finman mentioned there were a few participants bringing changes to it ever since December.

Many Draft Bills Introduced in 2019

2019 was a year that has seen many draft bills being introduced, mostly as a response to the Libra white paper from Facebook. Meanwhile, the initial version of Libra changed, probably after concluding the SEC has many regulations that could be interpreted in different ways.

The other most recent crypto-related bill is the Token Taxonomy Act, which was first introduced by Warren Davidson in 2018 and updated in April last year. Finman says he thinks the Token Taxonomy Act is now stalling and that Gosar’s new bill is “slightly bigger in scope.”

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Author: Oana Ularu

Chiliz and Decentralized Oracle Powerhouse Chainlink Partner on Real-Time Sports NFTs

The leading sports and blockchain-based fan engagement digital currency Chiliz (CHZ) has integrated Chainlink, the secure decentralized network from Oracle that enables the auto-execution of smart contracts based on real-world events and data.

With this integration, Chiliz will get to mint Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in real time for partners on Socios.com, after using data provided by Chainlink. Furthermore, Chiliz will introduce and support a CHZ/USD Chainlink Price Reference Contract to provide the most accurate on-chain prices for conversions between $CHZ and USD.

FC Barcelona and Juventus Among Partners

The platform already has FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, A.S. Roma, Atlético de Madrid, Galatasaray, CA Independiente and the back-to-back OG champions of Dota 2 esports as partners. Chiliz is thinking to partner up with 50 IPs in the sports, entertainment and esports industries till the end of this year. The latest integration makes it possible for Chiliz to create dynamic and real-world sporting events responsive NFTs while minting collectible tokens with limited availability. For example, it can mint a certain number of tokens when Lionel Messi breaks another goal-scoring record.

Chiliz, a New Player for Branded Collectibles

At the beginning of last month, Chiliz made its entrance into the branded collectibles world, after announcing its partnership with Enjin, in order to mint Ethereum (ETH) -based collectibles for Socios.com. About the latest Chainlink integration, Chiliz and Socios.com’s co-founder and CEO, Alexandre Dreyfus, had this to say:

“NFTs will be key to expanding the utility of $CHZ in 2020 and beyond. The Chainlink integration enables us to be responsive to real world sporting events in real time, allowing us to mint limited availability NFTs to commemorate moments that can’t be predicted or recreated, giving these tokens real collectors value.”

Chainlink Makes a Move into Sporting

It’s the first time Chainlink integrates with a sporting platform. Until now, it has been busy with all sort of blockchain projects that provide accurate and secure feeds, not to mention that it has most recently become a standard protocol for decentralized finance (DeFi) apps. What it surprised with is its integration with other sectors, such as the ones of gaming, sporting and insurance.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Marshall Islands to Issue Digital Currency (SOV) Utilizing Algorand’s Blockchain Tech

  • The Marshall Islands are about to build the first digital currency backed by state, using the Algorand protocol.

The Marshallese sovereign (SOV) will be developed by SFB Technologies. In a statement, SFB’s CTO and co-founder, Jim Wagner, said Algorand has been chosen after an extensive research, also that is scalable and secure enough to properly issue and manage the SOV.

Algorand Will Create, Issue and Manage the SOV

The agreement between the Marshall Islands and Algorand is that the latter will come with the base technology for creating, issuing and managing the SOV. At the same time, it will provide technical support after the launch of the currency, all while making sure the country’s requirements are being met.

The SOV will be built on a permissioned version of the Algorand blockchain, more precisely on the co-chain, which is not public. This way, the central bank and the Marshallese government will be able to oversee the network. It will be US dollar-pegged and have its inflation algorithmically fixed at 4%.

The Marshall Islands Announced the SOV in 2018

The Marshall Islands have expressed their intention to launch a digital currency that works alongside the US dollar, the national currency in the country, ever since the beginning of 2018, when it also started working with international regulatory agencies to make sure the SOV is going to comply with regulations.

The collaboration with Algorand started a few months ago. The SOV is supposed to be issued later in 2020 and may be the first one of its kind. China and Cambodia are the only 2 other countries that may launch their own digital currencies very soon.

Algorand Hoping to Make the SOV Compatible with Other Digital Currencies

Algorand’s COO, Sean Ford, said the SOV may be made compatible with other digital currencies released by sovereign countries, in an attempt to make it part of the global ecosystem. Here are his exact words on this:

“We know central bank digital currency initiatives are only expanding, there are many different countries that are now collaborating and thinking about how they can leverage blockchain in this space.”

No comment about any partnership has been made. It may be that other sovereign currencies looking to develop their own digital currencies have already started talking with Algorand too.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Sweden’s Riksbank Launches Its Central Bank Digital Currency (e-Krona) Testing

Sweden is getting closer and closer to issuing its own central bank digital currency (CBDC), as it already started testing the e-krona.

The pilot program for the new digital currency is supposed to last for a year and thus, to end in February 2021. It’s not yet clear when the e-krona will be launched and made available to the public, but one thing’s for sure: a blockchain-based currency would improve the banking activities and payments in the country. Therefore, credit cards would no longer be swiped as transactions would be moved to the blockchain and no longer use fiat currencies.

Sweden Is Definitely Not Late

After the Bahamas, Sweden is the second country to reveal its plans about working on a national cryptocurrency. In December 2019, the Bahamas launched a CBDC pilot program that’s expected to be rolled out during 2020’s second half. While China has also talked a lot about the development of its own CBDC, it seems things aren’t as serious as in Sweden or the Bahamas. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Sweden wants the e-krona seeing the country almost no longer use cash anymore.

Riksbank to Analyze the Implementation of the E-Krona

Riksbank will analyze whether Sweden is ready or not to implement a CBDC in an efficient manner. The consultancy firm developing the e-krona is called Accenture. Preliminary tests in sandbox testnet are already being run by this company. 80% out of all payments in the country are being made through other means rather than cash.

This means the implementation of a CBDC will be an easy process for the Swedish citizens who are already used to not having money on them, not to mention the transition from credit and debit card payments to a digital currency is simpler. Germany, for example, would most likely have a problem implementing a CDBC, seeing German people are still using cash to make most of their payments.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Crypto Custodian, BitGo, Acquires Harbor to Expand its Digital Currency Services

BitGo has announced that it will soon be an all-stack digital currency service provider following the acquisition of Harbor. The crypto custodian also acquired Harbor’s business subsidiaries which include a transfer agency and broker dealership for digital currencies.

The beauty about Harbor’s existing operations is that they are legally under the supervision of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and SEC. According to the announcement made on Feb 18, BitGo has already initiated the process of a transfer of functions with both FINRA and the SEC. This milestone will allow BitGo to implement a replica of traditional financial services within its tokenomics.

Mike Belshe, the CEO of BitGo, was keen to note that the firm’s vision was always bigger than its current business as a custodian;

“Our vision has always been bigger than wallets and custody and acquiring Harbor furthers BitGo’s vision of building a new digital infrastructure for financial services.”

This acquisition is clearly a big deal for both BitGo and Harbor given its mutually beneficial nature. The former however seems to have been the bigger winner since BitGo will now be the first firm to have an agency, broker and custodian license for crypto assets. Harbor on the other hand stands to leverage BitGo’s custodial services although a clear roadmap is yet to be defined.

Josh Stein, Harbor’s CEO, is also expected to join BitGo as part of the acquisition deal. He however mentioned that they have previously worked together with BitGo given both provided services that the other didn’t have;

“BitGo has been an important partner since Harbor inception. We’ve worked closely together to integrate BitGo Business Wallets and BitGo Custody into Harbor’s services.”

Belshe is optimistic that consolidating services will reduce the barriers to entry in the crypto market. In addition, BitGo will scale its security token services to a number of functions including issuing, transferring and trade executions.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Digital Dollar Discussion Is ‘Extremely Important’ Urges Pres. Trump’s Fed Nominee

Digitizing the dollar is a key factor in maintaining its appeal as a global currency, Trump’s nominee to the Federal Reserve, Judy Shelton, says.

In a congressional hearing on Thursday, Fed nominee, Judy Shelton, said the Federal Reserve should be “compelled to think” about a central bank digital currency (CBDC) given the mileage the innovation offers to rival countries such as China. Shelton believes the U.S should rely on fintech innovations to keep themselves abreast in financial matters and retain the dollar as the global reserve currency.

Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), was critical of the benefits the that CBDCs offer saying that having a digital dollar will increase the dominance of the country and maintain the countries power in global influence. Asking Shelton’s opinion on the possible development of a digital dollar. Shelton said,

“The dollar is the most important soft instrument of power that we have across the globe. Yes, it is a dominant reserve currency but we can’t rest on our laurels in that regard.”

The accelerated efforts on development of a digital currency by both Facebook’s Libra project, and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) CBDC is a key point that Ms. Shelton focused on too. She emphasized that the U.S. should not lag behind as it seeks to retain its control as the largest reserve currency in the world. She said,

“Rival nations are working very diligently to have an alternative to the dollar. I think it is very important that we get ahead of the curve to ensure that the dollar continues to offer the best currency in the world.”

With Shelton having shown affinity to blockchain, cryptocurrencies, CBDCs and stablecoins before, her appointment to the Fed board shows light at the end of the tunnel in regulation of cryptocurrencies across the states.

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Author: Lujan Odera