Zurich Based Sygnum Becomes First Bank to Tokenize its Shares on Ethereum

Sygnum, a Zurich-based digital currency bank, has tokenized its shares according to a recent announcement on the company’s blog post. The bank touts itself as the first of its kind to tokenize shares on a distributed ledger, hence forging a path for the future of public offerings. These shares have been tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain via Sygnum’s tokenization platform dubbed ‘Desygnate.’

This means that Sygnum’s shares can now be accounted for via a blockchain ecosystem, including the associated legal rights and obligations. The blog reads,

“Put simply; this means that digital representations of Sygnum shares, together with associated legal rights and obligations, have been created and are immutably accounted for on a distributed ledger.”

With tokenization in the picture, Sygnum’s share registry will be updated automatically any time there is a capital injection transfer. According to Sygnum, this approach minimizes the counter-party risk attributed to settlements, given the bank will be using distributed ledger tech to manage both primary and secondary market transactions.

This initiative will also eliminate the administrative burden of written share transfer requests embedded in the current market structures. Sygnum Bank co-founder, Mathias Imbach, commented on the underlying value proposition in share tokenization,

“This is an important milestone towards fulfilling our mission of creating more direct and efficient access to ownership and value. This includes new engagement models with our clients and partners, and ultimately providing liquidity for our trusted shareholders.”

In the future, Sygnum plans to list its shares in Switzerland and Singapore via SIX Digital exchange and SBI digital Asset Holdings for the latter market. As reported by BEG, SIX recently completed a CBDC pilot test in collaboration with the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

It comes as no surprise that Sygnum is already eyeing a public offering in this marketplace. SIX Digital Exchange Head, Tim Grant, said that they are looking forward to the partnership,

“We are excited to partner with Sygnum on this journey and hope to facilitate a successful dual listing across Switzerland and Singapore in the future.”

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

Swedish Government Launches Exploration Into Digital Krona

The Swedish government was one of the first in Europe to explore a possible Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). It has now moved into an exploratory phase, with a panel studying the potential benefits and consequences of digitizing its currency.

Ready to Roll

On Friday, Blomberg reported that the Swedish government had launched a formal review of a possible e-krona. The review will explore the feasibility of moving its currency into the digital standard, utilizing its current digital payments infrastructure.

The Nordic country has one of the world’s most advanced cashless payment systems, and many believe that transitioning into a full-fledged CBDC won’t take as much effort as others. The initiative will be led by Anna Kinberg Batra, a former chairwoman of the Riksbank’s finance committee.

Per Bolund, Sweden’s financial markets minister revealed that the government expects to complete the review by the end of November 2022.

Bolund emphasized the need to ensure that the country’s digital payments infrastructure functions safely and inclusively. He added that depending on the technology’s design and utilization, it could have substantial consequences for its financial system.

The Question of Time

When it comes to CBDCs, most countries are in the exploratory phase. The European Union has confirmed that plans will explore a possible digital Euro soon, with the region looking to bolster digital payments and improve its overall economy.

However, even that effort still seems to be a long shot. The European Central Bank (ECB) believes its exploratory efforts would yield results in 2021, and it will begin drafting the module for the digital Euro then.

Experts from several European banks believe proof of concept for the digital Euro could arrive in the next half-decade. The panel, titled “Upgrading Money to the Digital Age: Introducing Digital Euro,” saw everyone agree that the most pressing task will be getting everyone on board with the specifics of the digital Euro. With that in mind, implementation could take years on its own.

Austėja Šostakaitė of the European Central Bank pointed out that the bank won’t even decide on whether to pursue the digital Euro until the middle of 2021. For her, the primary issue will be introducing the asset into the European financial ecosystem and ensuring that it collaborates effectively with bank money.

Read Original/a>
Author: Jimmy Aki

UK’s Leading Crypto Miner Increases Bitcoin Holdings by 30% in November

British digital currency miner Argo Blockchain reported an average monthly mining margin of 57% for November compared to 40% in October.

Last month was a good one for the price of Bitcoin, as it rallied 45%, and as a result, good for companies working with the cryptocurrency as well.

Argo Blockchain reported higher revenues for the period, recording a surge from £1.2mln to £1.48mln.

“This has been an extremely exciting month for cryptocurrency miners,” Argo chief executive Peter Wall said in a statement.

“We have seen the value of Bitcoin climb exponentially to over £14,000 as investors and payment service providers are turning their interest to cryptocurrencies.”

Despite the firm mining 115 Bitcoin compared to 126 BTC in October, this has been attributed to changes in the mining difficulty and Zcash halving. In total, the firm has mined 2,369 BTC year-to-date.

As of November 30, the London Stock Exchange-listed company held 178 BTC worth nearly $3.5 million, up from 137 BTC on October 31. The company also has a mining capacity of 16,000, increased from 5,000 machines in the first half of 2019. Wall said,

“At Argo, we are continuing to prioritise efficiency in our mining operations, and this has enabled us to increase our revenue by 23% this month and achieve our highest mining margin since the halving earlier this year.”

The shares of Argo are trading around $11, up 147% in the past two months.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

“Nobody’s Going to Ban Bitcoin,” says OCC Brooks; ‘Clarity’ Coming in Early 2021

The acting Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Brian Brooks, said on Thursday that new regulations on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are coming soon.

Brooks appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to talk about “clarity” on the leading cryptocurrency to be expected in the next six-to-eight weeks but made it very clear that “nobody’s going to ban bitcoin.”

So this is one thing out of the way, which some anti-bitcoiners like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon try to blame their ignorance on.

“We’re very focused on getting this right. We’re very focused on not killing this,” Brooks said.

“And it’s equally important that we develop the networks behind bitcoin and other cryptos as it is that we prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.”

Brooks also cleared the air around potential regulation heightened by his former employer Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong last month. Armstrong took to Twitter to warn the crypto community that he had heard rumors that the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was working to regulate self-hosted crypto wallets before President Donald Trump’s term ends in January.

However, Brooks clarified, “I think you’re going to see a lot of good news for crypto before the end of the term.”

Adoption is too widespread & technology too important

Bitcoin has been on a tear recently, hitting a new all-time high this week, a price level not seen since the peak of the 2017 bull market.

According to Brooks, the upcoming rules and regulations “will make it easier for crypto investors to know how to invest, to know how institutions can be in the asset class, and those are the things driving prices at this point.”

In 2020, the largest cryptocurrency continues to see increased institutional adoption, with PayPal allowing users to buy and sell cryptos on its platform and legendary hedge fund managers like Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller betting big on BTC. Brooks said,

“It may have been a bubble two years ago, but with more clarity, institutions that see this as a real thing are going to adopt at scale, which they’ve already started to do.”

As Brooks further shared, the regulators are also working on bringing more clarity around the nature of the assets and convey a “positive message.” Adding,

“Adoption is too widespread, the technology is too important, the need for the currency is too important for it to go away. I’m not too worried about that.”

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Grayscale to Split ETHE Shares 9 for 1 In Its Ethereum Trust ($1.6B AUM) On Dec. 17

  • Digital Currency Group’s Grayscale Investments announced a 9-to-1 share stock split on its Grayscale Ethereum Trust shares (ETHE).
  • This aims to boost investors’ liquidity and participation as the shares become more affordable for retail investors.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Grayscale Investments plans to add eight ETHE shares to each ETHE share held on the exchange. The Grayscale Ethereum Trust share stock split will be effected on December 17th on registered users’ shares at the close of business on Monday, December 14th. No action is required from the users to receive the split shares, “and they will not be required to surrender or exchange their shares in the Trust,” the statement reads.

Grayscale’s Ethereum Trust Fund closely resembles an Ethereum ETF allowing investors to gain exposure to the cryptocurrency. The fund is listed on the stock market with a share representing a fraction of ETH (plus a hefty premium in management fees) bought using the pooled investor’s cash and held in Grayscale’s vaults.

Currently, Grayscale’s ETHE fund has a total of 29.5 million issued and outstanding shares, with each share representing 0.09284789 ETH in the pool. Following the share split on Dec. 17, one share’s total value will represent the ownership of 0.01031643 ETH, as the total number of issued and outstanding shares grows to 265.5 million Grayscale ETHE shares. This means that the total allocated value will not change once the stock split is complete.

According to the statement, one of the biggest reasons motivating the stock split is to make the share more affordable to retail investors. In 2020, the Grayscale Ethereum Trust share price has skyrocketed from $60 to $110 as the price of ETH reached a three year high of $635. This shows that a continued rise in ETH price could make it too expensive for retail investors to buy the share.

Grayscale has posted a successful year so far, growing their Bitcoin holdings to over 500,000 BTC, holding 2.7% of the total BTC supply.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

US Regulator OCC Proposes ‘Fair Access’ to Banking Services For All Including Crypto Companies

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the US’s national bank regulator, has proposed a rule that would forbid banks from providing their services to legal industries, including cryptocurrency companies.

As per the proposed rule, led by former Coinbase counsel Brian Brooks, fair access is promoted under which financial services could be denied by banks to customers only on the basis of “quantitative, risk-based standards established in advance.”

They can’t do so due to political pressures, to prevent the customer from entering or competing in a market or to benefit another person or business activity.

Published on Friday, the proposal does not explicitly mention cryptocurrency but is surely welcoming news for the industry, which has been time and again denied the services by the banks.

The proposal does mention Operation Choke Point, an initiative taken by the Justice Department under the Barack Obama presidency that reportedly aimed to shut down the fraudulent businesses and lenders.

It further reads that it has been revealed that the government agencies have pressured banks to sever their financial services access to “disfavored (but not unlawful) sectors of the economy.”

But neither OCC nor banks are well-equipped to balance these risks that are unrelated to the financial exposure, it said.

Marco Santori on US OCC
Source: @MSantoriESQ

“Fair access to financial services, credit, and capital are essential to our economy,” said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks.

“This proposed rule would ensure that banks meet their responsibility to provide their services fairly since they enjoy special privilege and powers because if the system fails to provide fairness to all, it cannot be a source of strength for any.”

The proposal is open for public comments until January 4, 2021.

This week, President Donald Trump nominated the acting Comptroller Brooks as the permanent head of the OCC, a five-year stint.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Members Of Congress Blasts Acting OCC For His “Unilateral Crypto Decisions”

On Tuesday, the acting Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Brian Brooks, testified before the Senate bringing forward several proposals on the cryptocurrency and the digital assets market. However, multiple congress members have come forward criticizing Brook’s unilateral decisions in the digital assets space, stating the former Coinbase executive is “too focused on crypto.”

In a speech before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Brooks highly praised the digital assets market and the importance of stablecoins. He praised the adoption rate of digital assets among Americans and the exponential growth of the cryptocurrency market, saying,

“These figures clearly illustrate that this payment mechanism is now firmly entrenched in the financial mainstream.

Cryptocurrency has become a popular mechanism for sending and receiving payments for goods and services because transactions post in real-time and provide convenience and security.”

Brooks is, however, facing a backlash from multiple members of Congress who view his crypto-related efforts as the head of OCC as “one-sided.” A letter signed by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and cosigned by Congressmen Stephen Lynch (MA-08) led a letter, which was cosigned by Reps. Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) blasted Brooks for his crypto-heavy leadership.

Read More: OCC Needs To Provide Regulation Clarity To Protect Users And Businesses

The letter argues that Brooks’ stance on digital assets should not take precedence in millions of Americans’ lives while there is an ongoing global pandemic. The members wrote,

“Arguably, the immediate needs of millions of at-risk individuals who have not yet received an economic stimulus check and/or cannot deposit their funds in a bank deserve greater attention than an effort to increase access to financial services to the ‘banked community’ via mobile phones.”

They further questioned his unilateral actions in the digital asset space, including “interpretive letters on cryptocurrency custody, stablecoins, and announced plans to start offering special purpose ‘payments’ charters.” Furthermore, they criticized Brooks’ plan to offer huge corporations such as Amazon and Facebook payment charters, claiming it would increase systemic risks, which could “expose the financial system to significant vulnerabilities.” The lawmakers wrote.

“Our concern regarding the OCC’s excessive focus on crypto assets and crypto-related financial services is shared by the American Bankers Association and other trade groups who have expressed similar reservations that such services move too far away from the core business of banking.”

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Genesis Reports Largest Ever Quarter, Q3 Driven by ETH, Stablecoins, & DeFi

Digital currency prime broker Genesis reported a record quarter third of 2020 with $4.5 billion in spot volume — up 285% from the same quarter in 2019, $1 billion in bilateral derivatives volume — which was driven by the BTC spot becoming more tightly coupled to risk assets in the broader macro and the embedded optionality in DeFi, and $5.2 billion in new loan originations.

First, Grayscale announced its biggest quarter ever, the third time in a row, and now Genesis is reporting “tremendous growth in its lending business.”

According to its Q3 2020 Digital Asset Market Report, the company’s active loan outstanding grew 50% QoQ to $2.1 billion, adding $5.2 billion in new originations in just Q3, “marking its largest quarter ever by a landslide.”

Q1 Reading: New Loans Issuance Hits $2B In Q1 For Its Largest Quarter Ever

Q2 Reading: Hunt for Yield Drives a Record Q2 for Genesis Lending

Active Loans Outstanding
Source: Genesis Report

Its Cumulative originations increased 61.5% from the prior quarter, seeing the tenth consecutive quarter of strong growth and bringing total originations to $13.6 billion since launching the lending business in March 2018.

“Our loan portfolio substantially increased in value through increased cash and altcoin loan issuance, along with a modest increase in the notional value of crypto loans outstanding.”

The report also noted a growing “appetite for yield” on digital assets as it recorded 165 unique institutional lenders, up from 47.3% from the previous quarter and 275% from last year.

But it hasn’t been Bitcoin that was driving this growth as BTC as a percentage of loans outstanding fell sharply QoQ from 51.2% to 40.8%. It was actually ETH, USD, and equivalents, and “other” altcoins drove the increase in book size in Q3.

“The main driver of this portfolio shift came from the impact of liquidity mining on DeFi protocols,” leading to the active borrowing of ETH and stablecoins.

The report further noted “ample cash on the balance sheets of top tier trading firms,” which indicates that there has been a significant increase in credit distributed by banks to prime brokerage lines across hedge funds, trading firms, and high net worth individuals.

This was also seen in the vastly increased institutional participation in the CME that became the second biggest futures market in OI this month.

And Genesis expects these trends to persist for at least another quarter because Federal Reserve balance sheet expansion may continue in Q4. This means CME growth can continue into 2021.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Huawei’s Flagship Phone, Mate 40, Will Support China’s Digital Currency Wallet On Launch

Huawei announces support for the upcoming Chinese central bank digital currency in its upcoming flagship smartphone, Mate 40. The smartphone will include a hardware wallet for the digital renminbi, a Weibo post stated.

The Chinese digital currency electronic payment (DC/EP) project was launched back in 2014, but tests only took to the public earlier this year. The project looks ready to go mainstream with the latest announcement of the Mate 40 supporting a digital wallet for the token. The smartphone offers users a self-custodial “hardware-level security, controllable anonymous protection, and dual offline transactions,” the statement on the Weibo post reads.

Huawei Mate 40

The latest Huawei support for the digital yuan follows a public test run across the country. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) distributed over 10 million yuan to 50,000 random participants in Shenzhen in a public trial of the DC/EP system.

With the DC/EP, users can spend the digital yuan at any of the thousands of merchant stores that support it or at any point of sale devices with support for the token.

The post, however, did not clarify how the digital DC/EP project will work or how users could convert their bank balances and cash to the digital yuan using the Mate 40 hardware wallet. Moreover, it remains unclear if the Mate 40 smartphones in other regions will support the DC/EP wallet or restricted in some regions.

However, China is not the first state to release a national digital currency – being beat to the race by the Bahamas. The island nation announced a public launch of the “Sand Dollar” as the first public CBDC worldwide.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

Toyota’s IT Subsidiary to Launch Digital Token Trial With Japanese Crypto Exchange, DeCurret

The IT subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Systems, is embarking on a digital currency trial scheduled to last for six months. According to the announcement by Toyota Systems, the trial will be run in collaboration with a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange dubbed ‘DeCurret.’ The latter is set to provide underlying blockchain crypto infrastructure to facilitate the prospectus Toyota Systems digital currency pilot.

All Toyota Systems employees will be part of this digital currency test as per the press release in collaboration with DeCurret. This means that a total of 2,500 participants will be onboarded to try out the Toyota Systems digital currency initiative. They will perform blockchain-based functions such as task automation, data recording and management, and payment transactions based on the digital currency; this will be done through smart contract infrastructure.

Most notably, Toyota Systems employees will be able to derive utility from the prospectus token because their welfare benefits will be issued in the digital token form. They will be able to exchange this token for gifts or benefits listed that are featured in a particular catalog. However, Toyota Systems was keen to mention that the digital token will not be exchangeable for the Japanese Yen.

With this development in place, the car manufacturing giant said that it would be looking at the possibility of integrating a digital token within its P2P ecosystems for large scale use. This is not the first time Toyota has invested in blockchain technology; they launched a blockchain lab back in March as part of an increased effort in researching the underlying potential. Toyota is also a long-term member of the R3 consortium, having joined the bandwagon as early as 2016.

Other car manufacturers are also bootstrapping when it comes to blockchain and crypto innovations. Some notable milestones include the anticipated token launch trial by BMW Korea, scheduled for later this year. French carmaker Renault recently launched a blockchain project as part of boosting its vehicle parts compliance certification.

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui