Fidelity Digital Assets Exploring the Possibility to Offer Yield Funds, Stablecoins, and DeFi Tokens

Fidelity Digital Assets Exploring the Possibility to Offer Yield Funds, Stablecoins, and DeFi Tokens

Fidelity Digital Assets also plans to increase its employee headcount by up to 70% by the end of the year. Meanwhile, its survey reveals over 60% of US investors are neutral to positive about a Bitcoin ETF.

Fidelity Investments is growing its digital assets team to expand its cryptocurrency-related products in response to the increasing interest from financial advisors, family offices, and other institutional investors.

Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets, said in an interview that the company is planning to increase its employee headcount by up to 70% by the end of the year.

Fidelity’s digital asset arm that provides institutional services including trade execution and custody is also exploring the possibility of offering yield funds and other products that may involve stablecoins or DeFi tokens, said the managing director, Peter Jubber.

“All of these are candidates for us as we begin this exploration.”

“Could they result in actual products? Early days.”

Fidelity also published a survey this week that showed that in the US, 79% of family offices have a neutral, positive view of digital assets. The survey of 1,100 professionals was conducted between early December and early April.

It further showed that factors such as fear of inflation due to financial stimulus was a catalyst for many investors to enter the crypto market.

“A catalyst for a lot of industries was the start of the pandemic.”

“Our clients said the factor to get them off the fence were the macro economic issues in the pandemic.”

For the first time, Fidelity surveyed Asian investors and found them to be the most accepting of digital assets, with more than 70% of those surveyed currently invested in them.

Investors are particularly looking for institutional investment products to hold digital assets. More than 60% of U.S. investors express a neutral to positive view about a potential Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). Fidelity itself has filed an application with the SEC for a Bitcoin ETF.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Exchanges Kraken, Bitfinex, and KuCoin Exploring India for Entry: Report

Crypto Exchanges Kraken, Bitfinex, and KuCoin Exploring India for Entry: Report

After cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, U.S.-based Kraken, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, and rival KuCoin are actively exploring ways to set up in India, reported Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter.

Despite the uncertainty around the country’s regulatory stance on crypto, India has reportedly 15 million crypto investors in India, holding over 100 billion rupees ($1.37 billion).

Binance acquired the Indian crypto startup Wazirx in 2019, and Coinbase also announced plans for a back office in India. Now, these crypto exchanges are looking to enter a young nation of 1.35 billion people.

“These companies have already begun talks to understand the Indian market and the entry points better,” one source directly involved was quoted as saying.

While one exchange has already begun its due diligence for an Indian firm it was considering acquiring, the others were still in initial states and weighing their options. Founder of digital bank Cashaa, Kumar Gaurav, said,

“The Indian market is huge, and it is only starting to grow; if there was more policy certainty by now, Indian consumers would have been spoilt for choice in terms of exchanges because everyone wants to be here.”

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Author: AnTy

US Department of Education Is Exploring Blockchain-Based Solutions to Store Student Records

The U.S Department of Education is exploring blockchain technology, intending to “rethink” how distributed ledger technologies can be incorporated into the education system.

In current global pandemic times, various U.S. government departments are exploring blockchain technology to finding solutions regarding transparency, safe record-keeping, and decentralized information sharing. The U.S. Department of Education (Office of Educational Technology) became the latest department to join the bandwagon funding the “Education Blockchain Initiative (EBI).”

EBI is designed to help identify and evaluate ways that blockchain technology can improve data flow among educational institutions and employers while empowering individuals to translate educational outcomes into economic opportunities.

The project, launched by the American Council on Education (ACE), aims to find blockchain-based solutions to enhance the network and communication between and among students, learning institutions, and employers.

According to a statement from ACE, the EBI aims at identifying and evaluating new ways blockchain can improve the flow of data to institutions, students, and employers. Projects launched through the EBI will restore data control to the learner, “empowering them to control their identity and leverage the skills learned,” the statement further reads.

ACE is an organization that lobbies and creates “inclusive, dynamic, and resilient” public policy across postsecondary education centers to better the students. In line with finding blockchain solutions, the organization launched the ‘Blockchain Innovation Challenge’ in 2020 to overhaul the education and employment systems in the U.S.

Louis Soares, chief learning and innovation officer of ACE, stated the challenge would help the undeserving and minority students affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The solutions being created will also enhance student enrollment, improve the transfer of credits, and communicate between institutions and employers. Soares said in a statement,

“This includes finding new approaches to credentialing (and hiring) that leverage the potential of emerging technologies to improve communication among education and training organizations.”

Phase 1 winners of Blockchain Innovation Challenge announced

To pace up developments in the education space, the Blockchain Innovation Challenge is making awards totaling $900,000 in two phases. The awards target teams and projects that “put forward bold ideas to reorient the education and employment ecosystem” to improve information transfer across students, institutions, and employers.

On Feb 11, four Phase 1 winners were announced, including teams from Nebraska, Texas, Arizona, and Utah.

One of the winning projects, “Student 1”, collaborating with the Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, created learner records for a third of all Nebraska students involved with multiple behavioral, judicial, or state educational services.

Other winners include Texas Woman’s University, which is partnering with the University of Texas- Arlington to build a “shared credentialing platform” that enhances sharing educational records across institutions and training facilities.

A similar project, UnBlockEd, led by the University of Arizona and Georgia Institute of Technology, Fluree, and the John N. Gardner Institute, is developing an open and decentralized transfer exchange that will enhance credit transfer articulation for students transferring schools.

Powered by Fluree is the Lifelong Learner project, also sponsored by the Utah Department of Education. The project is developing a digital wallet to allow teachers to store and share information, including their credibility scores, licenses, and exemplars of practice with human resource departments and other management systems.

Still a long road ahead

While these blockchain developments move ahead to provide innovative solutions in the education industry, practical integration to real-life situations remains challenging. Brian Platz, co-CEO of Fluree, mentioned in a statement.

He explained that blockchain developments suffer from the supply-demand rhetoric across the education space. He noted that building a data-sharing platform and digital credentials is currently not in demand as employers rarely ask for them.

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Author: Lujan Odera

The Graph Now Exploring Support for Bitcoin, Polkadot, Solana, BSC & Other Layer 1 Blockchains

The Graph Now Exploring Support for Bitcoin, Polkadot, Solana, BSC & Other Layer 1 Blockchains

After successfully launching its mainnet on Ethereum blockchain, The Graph protocol for indexing and querying data is now exploring providing support for additional Layer 1 blockchains.

Blockchain interoperability is a pain point for developers. Amidst the growing DeFi and NFT spaces, applications need to interact with many protocols and chains, reads the official announcement while noting over 7,000 subgraphs are deployed to date. The team said,

“Additional Layer 1 integrations will dramatically increase the number of subgraphs and the ability for dApps to work in a multi-blockchain environment to give users optionality and the best Web3 experience.”

The blockchains under consideration include Bitcoin, Polkadot, NEAR, Cosmos, Solana, Avalanche, Binance Smart Chain, and Celo to support Web3 development and make it easy for developers to access on-chain data and build decentralized applications.

Already many Ethereum projects have built subgraphs to retrieve data, including Uniswap, Aave, Synthetix, ENS, and DAostack. Eva Beylin, Director at The Graph Foundation, said,

“After launching mainnet, we are looking to accelerate the upward trajectory of the Web3 ecosystem. That means ensuring that no matter which Layer 1 blockchain you are building on, you can build a subgraph and easily access data from across chains. We think this is a key part of unlocking that next wave of innovation on the decentralized internet.”

The community is currently conducting due diligence on Layer 1’s infrastructure, and they are expected to be onboarded in the coming months.

However, Ethereum will remain the standard, and GRT an ERC20 token, said the team.

The Graph Network’s native $889 million market cap GRT token is currently trading at $0.713 and enjoying an uptrend. It is also up over 101% YTD.

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Author: AnTy

Rise in Digital Payments has India Exploring the Potential of Digital Rupee

Rise in Digital Payments has India Exploring the Potential of Digital Rupee

While India has had an often adversarial, murky attitude towards digital assets and cryptocurrencies, the Reserve Bank of India is currently contemplating whether there is a need for a digital version of its sovereign currency, the Rupee. Along with creating a crypto-based iteration of it, the RBI is also hypothesizing how best to operationalize it.

According to a booklet that was recently published by the RBI, this news covers the journey and evolution of payment and settlements systems in India from 2010-20. The Central Bank stated within its booklet,

“Private digital currencies (PDCs) / virtual currencies (VCs) / cryptocurrencies (CCs) have gained popularity in recent years. In India, the regulators and governments have been skeptical about these currencies and are apprehensive about the associated risks.”

“Nevertheless, RBI is exploring the possibility as to whether there is a need for a digital version of fiat currency and in case there is, then how to operationalize it.”

This conversation regarding the value of a digital version of India’s fiat stems from the rapid increase in digital payments; which are expected to increase threefold in the coming years. Even so, the RBI must contend with a considerable amount of skepticism, even hostility, towards cryptocurrencies from local regulators.

India’s Love-Hate Relationship with Crypto

India’s relationship with cryptocurrencies is a matter of common knowledge, having been opposed to their use for some time now. April 2018, for example, India joined China as the former’s RBI imposed a blanket ban on cryptocurrency transactions, which was only overturned in March 2020.

Though, India finds itself being the latest among a growing group of countries considering and testing CBDCs. The likes of Sweden and China having already tested their e-Kroner and digital yuan, respectively. The European Union and the U.S. are also getting work underway for a crypto-iteration of their fiat currencies.

Even so, RBI’s Governor, Shaktikanta Das has previously cooled the metaphorical jets of crypto enthusiasts; having commented in December 2019 that discussions were at an incredibly early stage.

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Author: James Fox

PayPal Exploring Acquiring Crypto Companies, Already in Talks with Bitcoin Custodian BitGo

PayPal is now exploring acquisitions of crypto companies, including bitcoin custodian BitGo, reported Bloomberg.

This week, Paypal announcing support, buy, sell, and hold for cryptos has been the biggest news. The online payments company will also be soon allowing its customers to shop at its 26 million merchants within its network with digital currencies.

This led to a spike in bitcoins’ price past $13,000, a new 2020 high last seen in July last year, and the other three altcoins – Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC), that are supported as well.

Now, PayPal is holding talks with BitGo, which are still in the early stage, and it could either be finalized within weeks or fall out as it is possible PayPal might opt to buy other targets.

BitGo basically helps investors store BTC securely. Besides custody, it also provides trading, lending, and staking functions. The company has also issued $1.5 billion worth of wrapped bitcoin (WBTC) on the Ethereum network.

Backed by investors like Goldman Sachs Group, Digital Currency Group, DRW, Craft Ventures, Galaxy Digital Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Founders Fund, and Valor Equity Partners, BitGo raised $58.5 million in 2018 at a $170 million valuation.

The Palo Alto, California-based company, was founded in 2013 by CEO Mike Belshe and applied to New York regulators in August to become an independent, regulated qualified custodian under New York State Banking Law.

At the time of the crypto announcement, PayPal had said it would partner with the regulated crypto service provider and BitGo competitor Paxos Trust Company.

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Author: AnTy

BoE Explores Negative Rates; Bitcoin Is A ‘Must’ Because Fiat is a ‘Giant Ponzi Scheme’

The Bank of England (BoE) is exploring negative interest rates now and in response Sterling weakened sharply.

The pound dropped 0.7% against the dollar after the central bank’s plans “to explore how a negative Bank Rate could be implemented effectively, should the outlook for inflation and output warrant it at some point,” were revealed.

While the negative rates are being considered, the key interest rate at 0.1% and the QE program remained unchanged on Thursday. Petr Krpata, a currency strategist at ING said,

“There was some expectation that one or two dovish members would vote for an increase in QE, but instead the BoE surprised people by revealing that they’ve been discussing negative rates.”

The UK is currently grappling with a resurgence in virus infections and fresh social restrictions to counter them. There are also fears that unemployment could spike when the government withdraws support for wages next month. Adding to this is Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threats to redraw his Brexit deal with the EU.

The same day, the Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve also kept the rates unchanged at -0.1% and 0%-0.25% respectively.

This path to sub-zero rates has been already taken by some European peers and of course the BOJ, which means customers are charged for their deposits in banks.

Source: Gemini’s Tyler Winklevoss

In response to BoE contemplating negative rates, Jeff Booth, the author of the book “Price of Tomorrow,” called fiat currencies and economies “a giant Ponzi scheme.” He also said we should expect more banks to announce sub-zero rates.

Earlier this week, he had called Bitcoin “a “must” Not just for your wealth but as a lifeboat.”

Booth fired up his Twitter by explaining how central banks are exponentially adding more debt to escape the massive debt problem. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the debt was $250 trillion on a global economy of $80 trillion, out of which $185 trillion has been added in the last 20 years only.

“The unwind in whatever form it takes is going to be brutal,” and in that case, the world has only two choices either default through hyperinflation or default though a deflationary depression and the latter one will include the collapse of the banking system, he said.

And all of it because “an economic system (is) trying to fight gravity and catching all of us in its vortex,” said Booth.

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Author: AnTy

Vodafone Turns To ‘Trust Your Supplier’ Blockchain-based ID Platform To Increase Diversity

Vodafone, the multinational telecom company, is exploring blockchain tech in an attempt to enhance its supply chain and verify its suppliers.

If it integrates blockchain with its internal processes, it will manage to enhance its supply chain. Known as Trust Your Supplier, a digital identity platform, they are able to endorse and authenticate suppliers, per a Vodafone announcement on 3/6/2020.

Criteria for Diversity to Be Implemented

In the same announcement, Vodafone also explained that it is implementing diversity criteria in order to influence decisions on procurement, all while not ignoring the standard criteria that include value, technology, safety, and delivery when suppliers are invited to manage the business.

Developed last summer by tech behemoth IBM and Chainyard, a blockchain company, Trust Your Supplier doesn’t have only Vodafone as a founding member. On the contrary, its founders include Lenovo, Cisco, Schneider Electric, Nokia and even one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the UK, GlaxoSmithKline. And these are only a few of the big names behind it.

The Trust Your Supplier platform’s main objectives are eliminating manual processes than consume too much time and reducing the risks of errors and fraud.

Blockchain Embraced by the Telecom Sector

Telecom providers from all over the world are deploying blockchain more and more, and even for other than their supply chain. For example, Telefonica closed a partnership with the Association of Science and Technology Parks and allowed access for around 8,000 Spanish firms to its blockchain.

The largest telecom firm in South Korea, KT, was about to launch a blockchain-based currency for the city of Busan on December 30, saying the currency could have been used with any credit card terminal, especially more at small local business and less at larger retailers so that shopping with businesses run by families or individuals and not corporations would be encouraged.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Medici Bank To Roll Out Private Beta In October; Q1 2020 Launch With Goal Of $1B In Assets & Deposits

Medici Bank is exploring new ways of becoming crypto-friendly, its CEO Ed Boyle has revealed. The bank which is located in Puerto Rico, a territory of the US, has said it is in the process of testing its virtual onboarding procedure that will comprise web portals as well as the application programing interface.

The process will bring on board about five companies from around the world and the main aim will be to examine whether the bank’s system are prudent to accommodate trading volume.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Boyle revealed that among the five firms, two or three of them will be crypto-based and one of them is a crypto exchange platform.

The bank that was started by Prince Lorenzo de’ Medici about 500 years ago in Italy is set to become one of the few banking institutions that are crypto friendly.

Majority of mainstream banking institutions are wary of serving the crypto sector due to the perceived high risks involved especially on money laundering and financing of crimes. This makes it costly to comply with the tough laws and rules imposed compared to the revenue the banks will generate.

In the US only a few banks have opened their doors to crypto companies comprising of Silvergate, Signature, Quontic as well as Metropolitan Commercial. In recent years, Fidor Bank from Germany also started to accept crypto customers. It is worth to note that Boyle was the head of Fidor Bank US subsidiary.

Boyle also stated that there are less than 10 banks in the world that serve crypto clients and wants Medici to join the chosen few.

Medici is set to go on an open beta by year end, which is not a completely operational environment with a few users. As per Boyle, the bank is optimistic that it will fully roll on the service within the first quarter of next year and aims at about $1 billion of both deposits and assets placed under its management by three years.

Medici also looks forward at splitting its clients base between fintech-based firms where crypto businesses fall, import-export firms as well as private wealth customers. Boyle stated that the bank is optimistic that more than half of its business is likely to be crypto clients.

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Author: Joseph Kibe