Pioneering Crypto Bank, Sygnum, Launches Bitcoin and Ethereum Options Contracts

Pioneering Crypto Bank, Sygnum, Launches Bitcoin and Ethereum Options Contracts

Swiss-based Sygnum has launched bitcoin and ether options for customers who want to execute more sophisticated cryptocurrency trading strategies.

Digital asset bank Sygnum has launched over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency options for customers, per its official press release. Synum received regulatory approval from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) in September 2020, allowing the bank to offer regulated digital asset trading services.

Sophisticated Trades and Premiums

The crypto bank says the new asset offering would enable its clientele to execute sophisticated investment and trading strategies. The options would be available on both BTC/USD and ETH/USD trading pairs. The press release explains,

“Options have long played an important role in traditional financial markets as a tool to help investors navigate through unpredictable market conditions. By paying the option premium, buyers can participate in larger price swings, while sellers leverage elevated volatility levels and collect premium payments to generate additional yield on existing holdings.”

Crypto options are a form of financial derivative that gives the investor the right, not the obligation, to buy assets at a specific price on an agreed date in the future, for which they pay sellers a premium. If the asset’s price on expiration is higher than the agreed price, buyers can execute their contract and take profit or refuse and lose the premium. They are the new rave of the crypto trading world and are slowly outpacing spot trading.

Sygnum’s regulated options offerings include long and short positioning, European OTC call and put options, fully customizable strike and expiry date, and cash settlement. Dominic Lohberger, Head of Brokerage at Sygnum Banknotes said,

“With options, clients can now profit from any price movement – be it a bull, bear, or sideways market. They can also use them to hedge positions, take leveraged exposure to the market or trade volatility.”

A Multitude of Crypto Services

Headquartered in Zurich, Sygnum is known for its forward-thinking approach. The Swiss firm launched a stablecoin (DHCF) pegged to the Swiss franc in 2020. The stablecoin is backed 1:1 with funds kept with the Swiss National Bank. DHCF enables fast and seamless settlements on Sygnum’s platform. Last December, the bank tokenized its shares on the blockchain as it prepares for a public offering.

Sygnum described the move as an essential milestone on its journey towards creating more access to ownership and value. The crypto bank said tokenizing its shares simplifies the process of updating shareholder registry and reduces the administrative bottlenecks in transferring share ownership.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Growing Number of Clients Bought ETH, But Only A Select Group Is Investing in DeFi: Coinbase

Growing Number of Clients Bought ETH, But Only A Select Group of VC Funds & Family Offices Investing in DeFi: Coinbase

DeFi remains retail-driven just like the early days of Bitcoin adoption, says Coinbase whose clients are interested in Ethereum’s evolving potential as a store of value and its status as a digital commodity.

2020 brought “traditional hedge funds to the forefront of participation,” states Coinbase in its 2020 in the Review report.

Covering the year “crypto cemented its status as an institutional asset class,” said the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US, which is planning to launch its IPO, noting that macro funds are the earlier adopters with several large funds now begun trading Bitcoin and Ethereum directly with investor capital as well.

The company’s clients invested in Bitcoin for a range of reasons, including as a store of value, as an inflation hedge and/or insurance against new potential monetary policy risks, as a portfolio diversification tool, and as a treasury reserve asset.

Coinbase is particularly expanding its business in Europe and Asia, with Singapore as the staging post for Asia expansion because of its regulatory clarity. After opening its third office in Europe, Coinbase now has 120 full-time employees in the region.

A Trend Occurring out of View for Most of Wall Street

“While our institutional clients predominantly bought Bitcoin in 2020, a growing number also took positions in Ethereum,” reads the report.

The second-largest cryptocurrency, which has been more volatile than Bitcoin, is seen by Coinbase’s institutional clients as a “decentralized computing network that shares Bitcoin’s properties of trustless store and transmission of value, along with more flexible programmability via smart contracts.”

Ethereum’s evolving potential as a store of value and its status as a digital commodity required to power transactions on its network are the clients’ reasons for owning the digital asset. However, the community needs to settle on a clearer and simpler narrative, which Coinbase says is both a challenge and an opportunity for Ethereum.

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is also seen as one of the most important growth developments for the Ethereum network as Coinbase clients believe this sector has “potential to reinvent financial products and services.”

Coinbase hasn’t yet seen significant investment in DeFi assets from institutional clients, except for “a select group of venture capital funds and family offices.”

DeFi remains retail-driven; just like the early days of Bitcoin adoption, Coinbase added maturity would take time.

“We can imagine a future in which institutional investors can access both traditional and decentralized financial services through trusted, regulated onramps,” which may be difficult to imagine today given the relatively small size of the DeFi market, a bottom-up trend that is occurring out of view for most of Wall Street.

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Author: AnTy

Fundstrat Raises ETH Target Price to $10,500; “The Best Risk/Reward Investment Play In Crypto”

Fundstrat Raises Ethereum Price Target to $10,500; Calls It “The Best Risk/Reward Investment Play In Crypto”

The second-largest cryptocurrency could surge more than 700% from its current level to $10,500, according to Fundstrat Global Advisors LLC.

The prediction is made by digital asset strategist of Fundstrat, David Grider, who wrote, Ether is “the best risk/reward investment play in crypto.” “Blockchain computing may be the future of the cloud,” added Grider, who sees setbacks in the Ethereum 2.0 network upgrade or a crypto bear market as the risks.

The first phase of ETH 2.0, the Beacon Chain, already has 2.57 million ETH locked in its deposit contract. Calling the launch “a resounding success,” developer Danny Ryan says, thus far, it has proved to be “stable and robust.” Ryan in a blog post on Wednesday wrote,

“The successful launch of the beacon chain was a huge milestone for engineers, stakers, and the community at large. We now have the foundation for Ethereum’s sustainable future. Although there are many moving pieces and innumerable winding threads, across the board, the Ethereum community has shown its unbelievable resilience and ability to deliver.”

Besides the network upgrade, Grider’s prediction is also based on the popularity of decentralized finance (DeFi), a growing sector that has over $23 billion in total value locked (TVL).

This moon target came a day after Ether hit its all-time high at $1,440 before seeing a decline today in tandem with Bitcoin. Eth’s new high came with an “overheated” derivatives market seen in the recent high funding rate.

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Eth’s more than fivefold gains last year beats Bitcoin’s uptrend, which quadrupled in 2020. The crypto market expects ETH to outperform Bitcoin yet again, as it did during the 2017 bull cycle as well.

Crypto derivatives platform Deribit actually added ETH options contracts with a strike price of $10k in the first week of January 2021. On Tuesday, Deribit added another ETH options contract at a strike price of $20,000 with the December expiry.

On Feb. 8, the regulated platform, CME, will also launch the Ethereum futures contract, which is further expected to bring in institutional investors by legitimizing the cryptocurrency for institutions to make it part of their investment portfolio.

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Author: AnTy

Optimistic Ethereum Finally Soft Launches Mainnet; Synthetix (SNX) Staking Goes Live Too

Optimistic Ethereum Finally Soft Launches Mainnet; Synthetix (SNX) Staking Goes Live Too

To “alleviate the gas crisis,” the Layer 2 solution has taken its first big step so that small users don’t get priced out by extremely high fees.

Just at the beginning of this week, average fees on Ethereum skyrocketed to a new high. This was just one of many such huge spikes in the fees the network has been seeing since last year, especially after decentralized finance (DeFi) gained momentum in the second half of 2020.

Amidst “undeniably insane” demand for Ethereum, the layer 2 solution, Optimistic Ethereum, took “first material steps towards alleviating the gas crisis by deploying to mainnet.”

The soft launch is just a peek with a full flash, public testament coming in late February or early March so that anyone can deploy and interact with it.

As for the public mainnet, which will implement fixes from public testament and be audited will come “as soon as humanly possible,” says the team.

Synthetix staking now live on L2 mainnet!

The same day, DeFi blue chip Synthetix announced the launch of staking on the L2 mainnet of Optimistic Ethereum.

This is the first layer 2 scaling solution with full cross-layer porting capability for smart contracts without rewriting them as such, making it a huge step for Synthetix and the entire Ethereum ecosystem.

This first phase of migration is designed for smaller SNX holders who get priced out due to high gas costs, reads the official announcement.

To migrate to L2, those participating in SNX trading on L1 must pay back any staking debt in sUSD first to unstake their SNX. For now, Metamask is the only supported wallet on L2, with support for more wallets coming next week. As for migrating escrowed SNX to L2, it is optional and may cost up to 0.5 ETH.

Once migrated, SNX holders can stake their DeFi token to mint sUSD, an option to be launched next week.

Synthetic’s staking activity has been growing steadily throughout last year, with daily active stakers increasing 187% over this period.

Now that Synthetix staking is live on Optimistic Ethereum’s L2 mainnet, SNX is having a wild time, hitting new ATHs one after another. The token price went above $17 today, following a surge of 126% in 2021 so far. Meanwhile, only 2.6% of SNX’s total supply is available on exchanges.

In contrast to this growth, the total value locked (TVL) in the project has fallen to $1.8 billion from Jan. 14 of $2.48 bln.

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Author: AnTy

Fireblocks Introduces Crypto Staking for Institutional Investors

Fireblocks Introduces Crypto Staking for Institutional Investors; Ethereum, Tezos and Polkadot

Fireblocks wants to help institutional investors access crypto staking opportunities. The company’s institutional focus comes at a time when interest in crypto is high.

Digital asset security platform Fireblocks has been working over the past year to improve institutional access to cryptocurrencies. Following the success in decentralized finance (DeFi) and more, the company is now turning its sights to the burgeoning staking scene.

Staking is for Everyone

Fireblocks plans to support hosted proof-of-stake (PoS) services for Ethereum 2.0, Tezos, and Polkadot, as it opens up token staking to its institutional client base.

Fireblocks has over 165 clients, which includes heavyweight crypto lenders Salt, Celsius, and UK-based Fintech firm Revolut. The crypto custodian is partnering with popular staking providers Staked and Blockdaemon to pull this off.

Company chief executive Michael Shaulov confirmed that the move was largely due to increased investor demand.

As he pointed out, most of Fireblock’s customers hold Bitcoin, while a small minority hold altcoins. That small minority is split in assets such as XTZ, DOT, and ETH, which total about $1 billion.

Institutional investors with idle funds, should expect between 5 and 15 percent in yields annually if they lock up their funds on the platform.

Fireblocks’ customers will maintain custody of their funds in their MPC-based wallets. From there, they can monitor their performance on Staked and Blockdaemon.

Data from Staking Rewards shows that the two are ranked first and sixth, respectively, on the list of crypto assets by staked value. With Polkadot staking in particularly high demand, Fireblocks appears to be in an excellent position to land its desired institutional clients.

Staking on Ethereum 2.0 is also on the rise. Industry news sources recently confirmed that Ethereum 2.0 staking on top crypto exchange Kraken had surpassed the billion-dollar mark.

Fireblocks’ Encompassing Institutional Crypto Play

Fireblocks’ cryptocurrency staking service is the latest in a flurry of efforts to drive institutional crypto investment.

Last June, the firm created an open network called Secure Asset Transfer Network, for institutions to connect, trade, settle and transfer crypto on-chain. The network launched with over 55 institutions and 26 exchanges. Participants included brokers, liquidity providers, asset custodians, and market makers. Shaulov said at the time,

“The launch of the Fireblocks Network makes it possible for users to store and transfer assets across the entire institutional ecosystem and removes the need for any middle-men. We’re redefining on-chain settlement processes by adding an unprecedented layer of security and efficiency, preserving the decentralized nature of blockchain, and allowing it to operate at the institutional level.”

The Asset Transfer Network was built on its multiparty computational technology (MCT). The Network also provides access to easy on-chain transfers while streamlining post-trade operations and settlements.

Fireblocks also has interests in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space. Last March, the company partnered with leading lending protocol Compound to allow institutional investors to access DeFi opportunities. Thanks to the integration, Fireblocks customers can now earn interest via Compound’s lending protocol.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Gnosis Safe Is Now The 4th Largest Ethereum Wallet Address; Adds 1.5M ETH In A Day

Crypto Custodian, Gnosis Safe Is Now The 4th Largest Ethereum Wallet Address; Adds 1.5M ETH In A Day

Gnosis Safe added over 1.5 million Ethereum tokens in a single day. The value of the ETH and ERC20 tokens stored soared to $2.3 billion, making the firm the fourth largest custodian of ETH.

In a tweet sent out on Thursday, Gnosis Safe, an Ethereum digital assets custodian, confirmed over 1,500,000 ETH (~$1.8 billion) was added to their safe on Jan 14. This brings the total amount of ETH stored on Gnosis wallets to slightly above 2% of the total supply of ETH.

Just a day earlier, the crypto custodian announced they had reached a million ETH stored in their safe after a 600,000 ETH deposit by an unknown account. The latest transaction is also unknown but is widely speculated to institutional money – a bullish indicator for ETH price in the future ETH -1.86% Ethereum / USD ETHUSD $ 1,162.91
-$21.63-1.86%
Volume 35.74 b Change -$21.63 Open $1,162.91 Circulating 114.27 m Market Cap 132.88 b
2 h Fireblocks Introduces Crypto Staking for Institutional Investors; Ethereum, Tezos and Polkadot 4 h Crypto Custodian, Gnosis Safe Is Now The 4th Largest Ethereum Wallet Address; Adds 1.5M ETH In A Day 7 h DeFi Project CREAM Reinventing with Zero Collateral Protocol-to-Protocol Lending Platform
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According to Etherscan’s ‘Rich List‘ –ranking the top account addresses by value – Gnosis Safe is the fourth largest account with 2.5 million ETH held in the account or 2.18% of the total ETH supply. Only Wrapped ETH deposit contract address (4.59%), Binance ETH address (2.53%), and Ethereum 2.0 deposit contract address (2.19%) have larger amounts of ETH tokens than Gnosis Safe. Back in August of 2020, the wallet had just toppled $1 Billion AUM.

Gnosis Safe is a smart contract powered platform that provides users with a safe and secure multi-signature wallet solution to retail and institutional holders. Individual users will need to sign the transactions from multiple wallets or devices, while institutions can choose to delegate several employees to sign the transactions.

Safe replaced the Gnosis Multisig wallet in 2019, enhancing its infrastructure, security, and users’ functionality. The custodian also launched its iOS and Android mobile apps on its mainnet and Rinkeby testnet platforms.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Grayscale Reopens Deposits for New Investors In Its Crypto Trusts; Excludes Ethereum & XRP

Grayscale Reopens Deposits for New Investors In Its Crypto Trusts; Excludes Ethereum & XRP

Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust and Digital Large Cap Fund Trust are now open for investments from new customers.

Grayscale Investments is gearing up for a healthy 2021 as it finally reopens most of its investment trusts and allows deposits.

According to an update on the company’s website, clients can now deposit funds into its Bitcoin Investment Trust and the Digital Large Cap Fund Trust.

Grayscale trusts

All Systems Go

As the update shows, the Grayscale Ether Trust is still unavailable, and not everyone on Crypto Twitter is taking that very well. However, that could change any moment for now considering the interest in Ether. The company’s XRP Investment Trust remains unavailable, which is not surprising considering the legal battle Ripple Labs has with the SEC.

Grayscale closed all of its investment trusts last month, as reported on  Twitter. A company spokesperson later confirmed that the move was due to a mandatory lock-up period for selling recently purchased shares of its Bitcoin Investment Fund.

Now that investments are opening up again, Grayscale appears set to continue with the momentum it held in 2020. Buoyed by increased institutional investment and the Bitcoin rise, Grayscale was able to solidify its place as the crypto industry’s top asset management firm. It currently holds $24.5 billion in assets under management and controls three percent of Bitcoin tokens in circulation.

Markets Open as Investors Eye 2021

The firm is also seeing a significant opportunity for growth in 2021. Last Thursday, company CEO Michael Sonnenshein told Bloomberg that Grayscale had seen a considerable increase in activity and commitments from pension funds and endowments.

With institutional investment hopefully increasing, Grayscale will be looking to benefit and add to its vast portfolio. The development could also bode well for the crypto market at large. Many believe that institutions were the driving force behind last year’s crypto rally, and a continuation of that trend should improve confidence in the marker’s long-term viability.

Retail investors also appear to be making significant moves. Yesterday, Alex Saunders, an Australian crypto-focused journalist, reported that crypto trading activity on PayPal had reached a new all-time high of $242 million. As the journalist put it, this surge shows an increased interest in the crypto space from retail traders.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Wrapped Monero (wXMR) Goes Live On Ethereum Extending DeFi Capabilities To Holders

Wrapped Monero (wXMR) Goes Live On Ethereum Extending DeFi Capabilities To Holders

Cryptocurrency custodian BTSE introduces ‘Wrapped Monero’ on to the Ethereum blockchain. This aims to boost the overall DeFi capabilities to XMR holders.

Privacy tokens such as Monero (XMR) are widely used to mask transactions and preserve user privacy– factors have led to the delisting of XMR on multiple exchanges; Bittrex, the latest exchange to delist privacy-enabled cryptocurrencies. However, this could change with the latest development from the crypto custodian, BTSE – wrapped Monero (wXMR) – a synthetic token built on Ethereum and backed on a 1:1 basis to XMR.

To obtain wXMR, users will need to deposit XMR to BTSE and use the conversion feature to wrap and unwrap them at will at a 1:1 ratio. BTSE will be the sole custodian and in charge of securing the XMR tokens deposited to mint the wXMR. This being the first-of-its-kind asset, BTSE stated the “Proof of Reserves” on privacy tokens is a bit harder than on open blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

So, Why Wrapped Monero?

The launch of wXMR tokens offers users a gateway to spend and use their XMR tokens on Ethereum, expanding the overall DeFi ecosystem. This is expected to “bring additional liquidity to the DeFi ecosystem,” the statement from BTSE reads. Wrapped XMR will allow users of XMR to use their tokens on DeFi products to borrow directly, lend, yield farm, and any other function without the need to sell their tokens to ETH or stablecoins.

Moreover, this is aiming to change the bad publicity that privacy-enabled cryptocurrencies are getting. Over the past year, multiple exchanges have delisted privacy coins such as XMR, DASH, and Zcash from their platforms, citing regulatory uncertainty as to the main reason. Following the FATF ‘Travel Rule’ notice, OKEX Korea paused trading of XMR. Shortly after, Colorado-based Shapeshift delisted privacy coins adding to the unceremonious delisting of these coins from BitOasis and Bittrex.

The delisting of XMR from regulated crypto exchanges arises from money laundering fears and extreme privacy that the crypto employs. With over $2.5 billion market cap, Monero is the largest private crypto employing the “Cryptonote” algorithm to obfuscate both the sender’s and receiver’s address.

Such privacy has seen the coin rise as one of the most popular coins on dark web marketplaces and wanted ransomware payment. In October, ahead of the U.S. Presidential election, hackers demanded XMR payment after attacking Donald Trump’s official campaign website.

The quest to unmask Monero’s privacy led the IRS to raise a $625,000 bounty for companies to build a tracking solution for Monero and the Lightning Network. A cybersecurity firm, CipherTrace, in November, registered its second patent to track Monero.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Tron & BitGo Launch Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) And Ethereum (WETH) On Its Blockchain

Tron & BitGo Launch Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) And Ethereum (WETH) On Its Blockchain

  • Bitgo, the sole custodian of wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) and wrapped Ethereum (wETH) introduces the synthetic tokens to the Tron ecosystem.
  • Tron becomes the second blockchain to welcome Bitgo’s synthetic tokens after Ethereum.

Bitgo, a US-based digital assets custodian, announced a partnership with the Tron Foundation to integrate Bitcoin and Ethereum synthetic tokens, wBTC and wETH, on Tron’s blockchain. The partnership will see wrapped Bitcoin and Ethereum added on to the Tron blockchain as TRC20 tokens. This sets Tron as the second blockchain after Ethereum to add wBTC and wETH, which expands the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem to Tron.

And the community is already responding to the news

Alameda Research and CoinList are some of the big firms in crypto that have already dipped their feet into minting wrapped tokens on Tron. According to BitGo’s order book, over 100 BTC have already been minted as TRC20 wBTC tokens by the two firms. Furthermore, Alameda also minted 1 wETH on Tuesday morning to satisfy the client’s demands, Alameda’s Ryan Salame said.

Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) is a synthetic token pegged to Bitcoin, while wrapped Ethereum (wETH) is pegged to ETH. BitGo is the sole custodian of the BTC, and ETH backing the wrapped tokens allowing clients to tokenize assets by minting wBTC and wETH. This allows the users to utilize their assets in the raging DeFi market to take up collateralized loans, lend, or stake on different platforms.

Justin Sun, the founder of Tron, said the new wrapped tokens on the blockchain open up a gateway to the “unlimited potential of DeFi” for Tron users.

In comparison to the rising gas costs, and scalability issues on Ethereum, Tron aims to offer low gas fees and faster transactions for DeFi users, Sun said.

“We dreamt of providing our users with the benefits of BTC/ETH without the high gas fees and today it is a reality.”

Over the course of 2020, the total market capitalization of wBTC exponentially grew to over $3.81 billion, as at the time of writing as the DeFi ecosystem saw a parabolic growth in use and value locked. However, as the DeFi space cooled down with the monstrous growth in Bitcoin’s price, the total minted wBTC reduced to a current level of 110,000 wBTC from a high of 150,000 wBTC in November.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Grayscale ETHE Price & Premium Crashes as Millions of Shares Flood the Market

Grayscale ETHE Price & Premium Crashes as Millions of Shares Flood the Market

Grayscale Ethereum Trust share price fell 48% and premium 94% despite the price of Ether surging past $1,000.

The shares of Grayscale’s Ethereum Product, ETHE, that had been trading at a premium of 270% on Dec. 22nd have now come down to just under 15%.

This premium has been coming down over the years; back in June, this premium was at about 950%, and before that in 2018, it was around 3,550% based on the demand for the product, price of the underlying asset, availability of other products, and the lock-up period of these shares.

The premium on ETHE has been on an incline since October, when crypto assets started rallying. But this week, the 6-months lock-up period for these shares ended, which pushed this premium down.

“A significant number of private placement investors have their lock-ups ending today and are receiving shares this week,” noted Joshua Frank, CEO at The TIE.

Grayscale’s ETH holdings are still at 2.94 million ETH, worth $2.94 billion, but with no new additions since Dec. 9.

Interestingly, the ETHE share price has fallen over 48% to Nov. 30 level of $12 while during the same period, the price of Ether rallied more than 75% to above $1,000.

The cause of this fall in ETHE price was a flood of new shares in the Grayscale Ethereum Trust. Besides the 47 million shares already outstanding, another 116 million were available to trade as their lock-up period ended.

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Because regulators haven’t approved an exchange-traded fund (ETF) for cryptocurrencies, Grayscale’s exchange-traded product works similar to a closed-end mutual fund. Here, a fixed number of shares are issued that can at times trade at premiums or discounts with a six-month lock-up period, but without a method to realign the prices.

“By failing to allow a crypto ETF in the U.S., the SEC has left retail investors exposed to significant risks via wide mispricing in less-efficient vehicles, while giving an advantage to accredited investors such as wealthy individuals, hedge funds and private-equity firms,” said James Seyffart, associate analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

The price of ETH actually went to the Jan. 2018 high of $1,000 on Coinbase on Sunday only to drop to $885 right after.

One trader expects ETHE investors to affect the price and send it crashing in the near future.

“What are boomers gonna do tomorrow when they see that ETH is up 70% and ETHE is down -50%? and then the next boomers and the next and the next? a reflexive cycle. down to the depths of namek.”

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Author: AnTy