Venezuela’s Bolivarian Army Embarks on Bitcoin Mining for Income and Sanction Evasion

Venezuela is further expanding its crypto foothold in what seems to be a tact towards salvaging the country’s economy while evading imposed sanctions, especially by the United States. Through one of its engineering brigades, the Venezuelan army recently revealed a Bitcoin mining center dubbed ‘Digital Assets Production Center of the Bolivarian Army of Venezuela.’

Inaugurated via an Instagram post, the center is fitted with ASIC machines to mine crypto assets by cracking the proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm. This implies that Bitcoin is probably the main asset which the Venezuelan army plans to mine within its newly launched facility.

The move comes as Venezuelans continue to struggle to make ends meet after the country’s economy tumbled on oil prices coupled with political uncertainty under Maduro’s administration. Today, the Venezuelan Bolivar is almost useless, trading at 1 million VES against the U.S dollar.

Given the circumstances, it is not surprising that Venezuela is among the jurisdictions that have experimented with crypto assets the most. The state had approved its oil-backed crypto-asset dubbed ‘petrodollar’; however, it did not solve the shortcomings as expected.

The Venezuelan army now says that a mining center might be part of the solution to its ailing economy and sanctions. Presenting the new operation, General Lenin Herrera noted that the goal is to strengthen and achieve self-sustainability within the Bolivarian army units.

He went on to highlight that this milestone will also generate ‘unblockable sources of income.’ Therefore, he could act as an alternative in evading colonial interests from countries like the U.S. Notably, Venezuela recently legalized Bitcoin mining but with a central oversight through a national digital mining pool.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

KPMG Partners with Coin Metrics to Enhance Digital Asset Services for Institutional Clients

‘Big four’ accounting firm, KPMG, is expanding its blockchain product suite following a partnership with a leading crypto market data service provider, Coin Metrics. According to the announcement on Oct 27, the strategic alliance is meant to enhance the delivery of reliable data insights to bring more institutional clients into public blockchains and crypto-assets.

Notably, the announcement coincides with an increased interest in crypto by traditional financial institutions. Going by the trends, big players like PayPal will soon require advanced product suites in the blockchain niche for auditing processes. The KPMG partnership with Coin Metrics will see both firms integrate their blockchain products to serve institutional clients’ growing demand.

KPMG’s ‘Chain Fusion,’ a digital asset oriented product designed for financial firms, was launched as recently as June 2020. This product is set for integration with Coin Metrics’ Farum and Atlas, both of which propose value to KPMG’s core operations. Farum will enable KPMG clients to efficiently monitor risks by identifying fee volatility, transaction reorganizations, and network attacks.

Atlas, on the other hand, proposes value in transaction audits; this comes in handy with issues such as capital tax reporting, a niche where KPMG is a veteran player. KPMG’s Cryptoasset Services co-lead, Sal Ternullo, said that,

“The integration of Coin Metrics’ Atlas and Farum products and KPMG Chain Fusion provides a trusted foundation for the adoption of digital assets … Farum represents a significant step forward for custodians and exchanges who are exposed to often, unmonitored blockchain network risks that may impact their businesses.”

As the crypto market continues to gain traction, it is becoming evident that audit functions are necessary for the space to thrive. Well, KPMG is not the only ‘big four’ that has made a debut in crypto; its peer competitors PWC, Ernest & Young, and Deloitte have also shown interest. In fact, PWC recently partnered with ChainSecurity while Ernest & Young launched its crypto tax service a few months ago.

Also Read: KPMG Reveals Blockchain-Based Climate Accounting Infrastructure (CAI) for Greenhouse Gas Tracking

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Winklevoss’ Crypto Exchange, Gemini, Partners With European Payments Processor, BCB Group

The Winklevoss-owned crypto exchange, Gemini, is expanding its presence in the U.K., aiming to provide more efficient payment systems to its clients. The NYFDS regulated exchange announced a partnership with BCB Group, a payment processing service provider, to consolidate and enhance payments from U.K based clients.

Having previously partnered with top crypto exchanges, including Coinbase and Bitstamp, as well as crypto custodial firms such as Galaxy Digital, BCB Group’s rapport in the crypto industry is well established’. The partnership with Gemini will enhance the liquidity provisions and fiat-to-crypto conversions to the exchange.

BCB Group is an institutional-grade payment processor offering cryptocurrency-focused companies, accounts, and liquidity to boost financial transactions. The company received it’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) license to act as an authorized payment institution (API) in the U.K. This provides a regulatory cover for Gemini clients in the U.K.

Read More: Gemini Crypto Exchange Opens GBP for Buying, Selling, & Trading in the UK

The partnership with Gemini aims at improving conversions of fiat (i.e., British Pound) to crypto with faster and safer payment processes. According to Blair Halliday, Gemini’s chief compliance officer in Europe, partnering with BCB Group will simplify the payment process for its clients and improve the relationship with banks and institutions in the U.K.

Notwithstanding, Blair believes BCB Group’s partnership will further “secure access to real-time settlement infrastructure, enabling us [Gemini] to integrate with banking partners.” Halliday said,

“Gemini is focused on creating the smoothest experience possible for our UK customers to make deposits into and withdrawals out of their accounts instantly in GBP via Faster Payments, CHAPS, and SWIFT transfers.”

The crypto exchange is known for its regulatory approach, having recently acquired its FCA license granting it an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license. This followed the company’s insistent nature is following the Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) crypto-asset registration process.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Riot Blockchain Targets 2.3 EH/s Hashrate by June 2021; Adds 2,500 Bitmain S19 Pro Miners

Riot Blockchain announced on Oct 6 that it would be expanding its S19 Pro Antminer fleet following a recent purchase of 2500 units from Bitmain. The firm also highlighted progress in previous S19 Pro miners’ orders [1,000 in April, 1,040 in May, 1,000 in July, and 8,000 in August] and an update on their deployment. Currently, Riot’s deployed hashrate capacity stands at 519 PH/s; they are now looking to quadruple this to 2.3 EH/s by June 2021.

According to the announcement, the newly purchased Bitmain S19 Pro miners were acquired at the cost of $ 6.1 million with delivery and deployment scheduled for December. Notably, this operational expansion comes barely a month since Riot ordered 13,100 S19 Pro miners, delivery for these is slated for the first 6 months of 2021.

With this aggressive scaling, Riot, a Nasdaq listed firm, is looking to take the lead in the Bitcoin mining space. As far as stats go, this will be the first listed Bitcoin mining firm to achieve a hashrate above 2 EH/s. The blog announcement reads,

“As far as the Company is aware, no other publicly traded bitcoin mining company has disclosed a hashing capacity exceeding 2 EH/s.”

Riot anticipates that it will have deployed up to 22,640 miners by the end of June 2021. However, this year’s target is 9,540 miners, which will boost the firm’s hashpower by 14% to 842 PH/s. Going by these developments, the race for Bitcoin mining domination seems to have taken the next level as industry titans play catch up with the latest BTC mining difficulty.

Other than scaling its mining fleet, Riot recently moved its Antminers to the Coinmint data center domiciled in Massena, New York. The facility provides cheaper electricity for Riot’s mining operations, given that its geographical location has abundant wind power and hydroelectricity.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

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

Gemini Crypto Exchange Opens Up GBP for Buying, Selling, and Trading for UK Customers

Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini is now expanding into the UK.

The launch follows obtaining an electronic-money institutions (EMI) license from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after the agency declared that all crypto exchanges operating in the country are required to register with it as per its Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) by Jan. 10, 2021.

Now that Gemini is open for business in the UK, the users in the region can buy, sell, store, and trade crypto using their local currency pound sterling (GBP).

“London is one of the birthplaces of modern finance and has a rich tradition of regulation, but also fosters an environment of innovation,” said Tyler Winklevoss.

The New York-based firm founded by Tyer and Cameron Winklevoss will now let its users buy Bitcoin and other cryptos using debit cards. Supported cryptos include Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Dai (DAI), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), ChainLink (LINK), Orchid (OXT), Amp (AMP), Pax Gold (PAXG), and Compound (COMP).

Cryptocurrency investors can also fund digital wallets via bank payments such as CHAPS, Faster Payments, and Swift wire transfers without incurring foreign exchange fees.

Gemini is among the few registered firms — already operating — in the UK, with Archax being another one approved by the US regulator and due to launch in the fourth quarter.

The crypto exchange, which is also a New York State Department of Financial Services regulated custodian, is also in the licensing process in Singapore.

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Author: AnTy

Huobi Rolls Out Interest-Earning BTC & USDT Savings Products as Alternatives to Yield Farming

Huobi, one of the leading crypto derivatives exchanges globally, is expanding its footprint in the Centralized Finance (CeFi) space with a savings product that will allow its clients to earn interest on BTC or USDT. The Singapore-domiciled exchange launched this product on September 7 as it prepares to scale its share of the growing crypto investment space.

According to the company’s Global Markets VP, Ciara Sun, the new savings product by Huobi targets retail clients whose preference is a more stable earning as opposed to volatile DeFi projects. Speaking to Coindesk, Sun noted that the more significant percentage of the exchange’s clientele are not day traders hence a value proposition in less risky crypto portfolios,

“By offering this saving product in addition to trading, (users) can get stable and flexible income as an alternative use of their crypto assets.”

Sun was keen to highlight further that this milestone will also boost the exchange’s valuation metrics. In her opinion, prevalent valuation metrics such as an exchange volumes can be easily manipulated in comparison to Assets Under Management (AUM) on-chain metrics.

The Huobi savings product is set to pay an annual yield of 8% and 3.5% on USDT and Bitcoin holdings, respectively. Its deposit limit has been set at 3,000 Tethers or similar value in BTC. To incentivize new prospects, Huobi is currently offering an 88% APY for the premier launch week of its savings product.

While the annualized returns set on Huobi’s savings do not match the lucrative DeFi earnings, the figure is much more than what most local banks would offer on their savings account. Sun also noted that the initiative would open up more crypto investment opportunities as the DeFi craze continues,

“As there is this DeFi craze happening in the space and people are looking at it, and they may be interested, and they want to participate in crypto because they see those high returns.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Exchange Sees Record Growth with Expansion for Rapid Crypto Adoption

Cryptocurrency platform Luno is now expanding into Australia. The region where bitcoin trading reached a record in February, to $74,000 up from $44,000 in January, still remains largely untapped.

In the last five years, Australia that has a supportive regulatory environment, has seen a fivefold increase in the number of fintech companies, said Luno General Manager Marius Reitz.

The South African company, which operates in Nigeria and the UK and recently started trading Uganda and Zambia as well, employs 350 people across offices in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

According to Reitz, Africa is one of the “most promising” regions for crypto adoption, given the challenges of high inflation rates, volatile currencies, and a lack of banking infrastructure in different countries of the continent.

Moreover, “Africa’s young and mobile-native make the continent even more ideal for the rapid adoption of crypto,” he said. Not to mention, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana are frequently among the top 10 countries by Google searches for the term “Bitcoin.”

Luno has added about a million users to its platform since the pandemic began. Just yesterday, it announced that the company has officially reached 5 million customers.

Founded seven years ago, Luno attracted $3 million in funding in 2015, led by Africa’s biggest company Naspers, which along with Rand Merchant Investment Holdings Ltd, Balderton Capital UK LLP, Venturra Capital, and Digital Currency Group all own less than 20% stakes in the company.

As we reported, DCG here just made a bet of $100 million on bitcoin mining with its fourth subsidiary, Foundry, the other three being Grayscale Investments, Genesis, and Coindesk, to reduce China’s dominance on BTC hash rate and bring it back to North America.

The crypto world is seeing a lot of development in 2020, just this week, Fidelity unveiled its first bitcoin fund for family officers and registered investment advisers with a minimum investment of $100,000.

As the crypto market is enjoying the gains, with Bitcoin up 56.4% YTD, development in the space is gathering speed as well.

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Author: AnTy

US Based BitGo to Provide Custodian Services to India’s Largest Crypto Exchange CoinDCX

BitGo, a crypto custodian service provider based in the U.S, is expanding its market share with Indian crypto exchange, CoinDCX, as the new client. According to an announcement by CoinDCX, they will be leveraging BitGo’s secure storage as well as partial insurance for the cryptocurrencies traded within its ecosystem.

The move is set to benefit both entities given the recent reversal on the provision of banking-based services to crypto-based firms in India. A decision by India’s Supreme Court earlier in the year gave hope to the long-starved industry which had been denied banking services. BitGo’s Chief Revenue Officer, Pete Najarian, noted that this formality presents an opportunity to move towards professionalism,

“With the recent uptick in trading volumes on Indian exchanges, the need of the hour is for professionalization in the form of fund security in the crypto market,”

BitGo’s Custodial and Insurance Service

Najarian went on to further note that BitGo’s involvement in the CoinDCX custodial operations will provide the exchange’s users with added value and assurance. BitGo has in the past claimed to be responsible for processing over 20% of BTC transactions. Notably, the firm’s insurance provision covers up to $100 million in value. They are able to achieve this via a group of insurers in the European Marketplace and Lloyd’s of London.

CoinDCX will, therefore, have some of its traded funds insured under BitGo’s provision. This includes those held on the platform’s lending service, DCXLend.As for the secure crypto storage, BitGo will distribute the digital assets in segregated hot and cold wallets and omnibus.

Market Prospects

BitGo has made some significant milestones in the recent past; the firm’s current clientele includes popular crypto exchanges like LGO Markets and Bitstamp. Back in February, BitGo scaled its services to institutional-level crypto trading and rolled out a lending service in early March. In addition, they established two independent crypto custodians in Germany and Switzerland.

CoinDCX, on the other hand, is riding on India’s crypto-friendly environment for exponential growth. The platform’s trading volumes grew by 47% in Q1 with daily active users surging by 150%. Adding a lending service called Dcxlend as well as partnered with OKEx to offer leveraged futures in India. Sumit Gupta, the company’s co-founder, and CEO, however, told Cointelegraph that financial institutions are still reluctant to fully supporting crypto ventures,

“Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, regulation of the cryptocurrency sector within India remains vague—with limited clarity as to what frameworks are likely to emerge in relation to emerging technologies.

This has led to a degree of continued hesitancy for traditional actors to engage with actors within the cryptocurrency and digital asset space.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Binance To Launch Fiat Gateway, Latamex, In Brazil And Argentina; Can Buy BTC, BNB, BUSD, ETH

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platform is expanding its services in Latin America. Binance announced on 12th December via press release shared with CryptoGlobe its plan to launch a new fiat gateway for Latin America. It is partnering with various digital assets settlement networks to launch a platform called Latamex.

Latamex will allow direct fiat purchase of cryptocurrencies for Latin America on its website. Purchasers will be able to use Argentine Peso (ARS) and Brazilian Real (BRL) to buy some of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, and stablecoins such as BUSD.

Binance in Latin America

Binance’s new platform announcement has come days after Bitcoin trading volumes in Argentina made a new record at the beginning of December. Political turmoil in the nation has resulted in higher inflation rates, which is turning more people to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. It is the case in other politically troubled countries in Latin America. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said:

“There is a strong need for cryptocurrencies in Latin America, especially for financial access. Roughly 50 percent of the Latin American population is unbanked, and Latamex is a response to our users’ demands and the current market climate. Working with Settle Network allows us to instantly bridge the gap between fiat and crypto for Latin American traders. We are continuing to build with our key partner, Settle Network, to bring wider accessibility of cryptocurrency in Latin America and will support additional local fiat currencies in the region in the future.”

Latamex Future

The company will continue to build partners and settle networks to bring more extensive accessibility of cryptocurrencies in Latin America and also support additional fiat currencies in the future. In the future, Binance plans to launch Latamex in 13 other American countries, including Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Salvador, and Uruguay.

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Author: Daniel W