ProShares Bitcoin Futures ETF Coming on Tuesday, Grayscale Confirms Filing to Convert GBTC into ETF

In anticipation of the first Bitcoin ETF, which will finally be coming to the US this week, Bitcoin hit $63,000.

ProShares will be launching its exchange-traded fund (ETF) linked to CME-based Bitcoin futures on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker ‘BITO’ on Tuesday, the firm and the exchange have reported.

“2021 will be remembered for this milestone,” Michael Sapir, the CEO of ProShares, told DealBook.

Investors who want exposure to the leading cryptocurrency but don’t want to hold it directly and are hesitant to engage with unregulated crypto exchanges will now have “convenient access to Bitcoin in a wrapper that has market integrity,” he said.

In a statement on Monday, Sapir further said, “a multitude of investors have been eagerly awaiting the launch of a bitcoin-linked ETF,” and finally BITO will provide access to Bitcoin to this large segment of investors who have a brokerage account and are familiar and comfortable with buying stocks and ETFs but don’t want to go through the hassle for establishing another account with a crypto provider and be subject to security risks.

“This will be a floodgate of new capital and new people into the space,” said Ian Balina, CEO of the data and analytics firm Token Metrics.

Approval for the ProShares ETF, which is based on Bitcoin futures trading on the CME, won’t be announced by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but the firm’s formal prospectus has met with no opposition ahead of its effective deadline, which means it is good to go. NYSE is also readying its launch for tomorrow.

“This is an exciting step but not the last,” said Douglas Yones, the NYSE’s head of exchange-traded products. He foresees a range of crypto-linked ETFs getting approval, eventually.

Currently, nine other ETF applications for Bitcoin Futures are awaiting approval, while many more for physically-backed ETFs.

Future ETFs will come with its own costs, though, as it adds 5% to 10% of annualized roll yield on top of the underlying asset’s price. Not to mention, they are “also more confusing,” said Matt Hougan, chief investment officer at Bitwise Asset Management, which has also filed for a Bitcoin futures ETF with the SEC.

“They have challenges like position limit and official dilution, and they can’t get 100% exposure to the futures market.”

Interestingly, Grayscale also announced that it is filing to have its $38 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust converted into an ETF on Monday. GBTC is still trading at over a 15% discount.

“It is official,” confirmed Barry Silbert, founder, and CEO of Digital Currency Group, the parent company of the largest digital asset manager Grayscale Investments.

While calling Bitcoin Futures ETF launch a “historic and important moment” for Bitcoin and the entire crypto ecosystem, Jennifer Rosenthal, Communication Director at Grayscale, said,

“I’m happy to confirm that Grayscale *WILL* file for GBTC to be converted into an ETF as soon as there’s a clear, formal indication from the SEC.”

The official and verifiable evidence of SEC’s comfort with the underlying Bitcoin market could likely be in the form of a Bitcoin Futures ETF being deemed effective, and once that happens, “the NYSE Arca will file a document called the 19b-4 to convert GBTC into an ETF,” she added.

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Author: AnTy

ByBit Finally Launches Spot Trading with Four Trading Pairs Including BTC, ETH, XRP, & EOS

ByBit Finally Launches Spot Trading with Four Trading Pairs Including BTC, ETH, XRP, & EOS

Crypto derivatives exchange ByBit has announced the expansion of its product offerings with a spot trading feature.

ByBit Spot Trading Platform Opens With Four Pairs

The Singapore-based exchange disclosed that spot trading in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), XRP, and EOS is now available to users against the Tether (USDT) stablecoin. The exchange said more trading pairs would follow.

ByBit said the new spot trading feature would come with zero maker fees. ByBit CEO Ben Zhou said the new product is a lifelong feature and not just a limited offer. The exchange described spot trading as a complementary vector to its derivatives offering for hedging traders.

Similar to ByBit’s derivatives offering, the spot trading option will not be available to residents of selected countries. This includes the US, mainland China, Singapore, Quebec (Canada), Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

ByBit’s new launch comes after the exchange revamped its know-your-customer (KYC) rules to protect users’ funds and improve security compliance for traders.

The individual KYC requirements implemented on July 12 mandated users to submit documents containing basic information like proof of origin (passport/ID), full name, and date of birth.

ByBit also plans to introduce options trading and upgrade its cold wallet before the end of the year.

Founded in 2018, ByBit is one of the world’s largest derivatives exchanges in trade volume. In the past week, the exchange has tallied up to $33 billion in trading volume.

The crypto exchange claims to have about 2.5 million global trading clients in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Before launching the spot trading feature, ByBit was focused on enabling users to trade contracts on crypto-assets instead of trading in the assets directly.

ByBit’s Trouble With Regulators

ByBit is one of the exchanges that has had trouble with the regulators in the last few months. In May, Japanese financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), issued a warning to ByBit for operating without registration. The FSA had claimed that ByBit allowed residents of Japan access to the exchange without getting permission from authorities.

The firm had to cut off its service to customers in the United Kingdom following the Financial Conduct Authority’s ban on crypto derivatives.

Just last month, ByBit was accused in Canada by the Ontario Securities Commission of operating an unregistered crypto asset trading platform. The OSC said ByBit was running a platform that encouraged residents to trade crypto assets that are securities and derivatives on its platform.

The OSC and ByBit recently agreed on the schedule for ByBit’s upcoming enforcement proceeding. According to the regulator, the first hearing is slated for July 15 and will be held via correspondence between the two parties.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Uniswap V3 Recording $265M in Liquidity and $70M in Volume After Going Live on the Ethereum Mainnet

Popular decentralized exchange (DEX) Uniswap has finally deployed v3 to the Ethereum manninet. The official announcement states,

“Uniswap v3 is the most powerful version of the protocol yet, with Concentrated Liquidity offering unprecedented capital efficiency for liquidity providers, better execution for traders, and superior infrastructure at the heart of decentralized finance.”

The pool interface now supports the creation of Uniswap v3 positions with multiple fee tiers and concentrated liquidity ranges. Developers can start building on Uniswap v3.

Dominating the DEX space with more than 50% share, Uniswap also accounts for 80% of all daily DeFi active users. Just last month, Uniswap achieved the milestone of surpassing $10 billion in weekly trading volume.

Overall, April was a record month for DEXs, with total volume hitting nearly $77.5 billion.

Meanwhile, UNI is trading around $42, down 6.7% from its all-time high of almost $45 earlier this week. In the past 8 months, the token has soared about 4,000%.

Defined as a “profound” step forward for DeFi, V3 offers capital efficiency for LPs and improved execution for traders.

As for Uniswap V2 protocol, it will remain functional and available for use as long as the Ethereum network continues to exist; it is expected over time the advantages of Uniswap v3 will draw a majority of liquidity and trading volume away from v2, reads the FAQ.

The liquidity on the latest version is currently $265 million with a volume of just over $70 million, as per Uniswap.info.

Interestingly, each Uniswap v3 LP position is represented as an NFT and comes with a unique piece of on-chain generative art. But “Look out for rare sparkles!”

To counter the high gas prices on Ethereum, Uniswap will also be launching v3 on a Layer solution called Optimism within the next few months.

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Author: AnTy

Cosmos (ATOM) Enhances Interoperability with IBC Protocol Rollout

Cosmos has finally launched its Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol following a majority vote from the community members.

Cosmos IBC Now Lets Blockchains Talk To Each Other

The newly launched protocol would enable the transfers of tokens and data between sovereign blockchains.

More than 1500 Cosmos validators and delegates supported the launch.

The long-awaited IBC protocol would also address scalability issues through sharding technology, according to the development team.

Cosmos also said that this launch opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, as decentralized applications (DApps) built on its network would be able to execute multi-chain smart contracts.

According to Tendermint CEO Peng Zhong, the launching of the IBC marks a momentous milestone in the evolution of the Cosmos ecosystem as it builds the foundation for interoperability.

Cosmos has been working on its vision to realize an open blockchain protocol for some time now.

Although the IBC whitepaper was released back in 2016 by Cosmos co-founders Jae Kwon and Ethan Buchman, it was not until 2019 that a mainnet was launched.

In 2020, the ATOM’s native blockchain launched another incentivized testnet for IBC, dubbed Game of Zones, which stress-tested the IBC module pre-launch and distributed over 100,000 ATOMs in rewards to dozens of validators.

Stargate, the last phase of IBC, which completed the original roadmap laid out in the Cosmos whitepaper, was then launched in February 2021. Speaking on the impact IBC would have on the blockchain space, the lead developer of the IBC Protocol Christopher Goes, said,

“IBC will create an ecosystem of politically independent chains that can interact via trade and information exchange. Knitting together many different blockchains can form a new crypto-economic system”.

The Impact of IBC In DeFi Sector

IBC’s launch greatly expands the realm of possibilities for blockchain applications. IBC will be used to transfer both fungible (cross-chain payments) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) between chains. This will see the subsequent rise of interchain token exchanges and NFT marketplaces.

The launch of IBC is a big deal, especially in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector, as it could open up opportunities by allowing tokens to zip between chains. A product on an application-specific blockchain could use an asset from a completely different chain.

The initial version of IBC allows users to kick off token transfers between various chains only on the Cosmos Hub, the central blockchain that connects all other Cosmos blockchains or zones. Now for the first time, Cosmos has achieved actual cross-chain token transfers.

The blockchains built on Cosmos’ native consensus model like Kava (KAVA) and Crypto.com (CRO) will likely be the first crypto projects to adopt the IBC standard, putting an end to blockchain silos.

Even though Gavin Wood-led Polkadot (DOT) blockchain ecosystem is on the path to end network tribalism through its Bridges protocol, Cosmos seems to have beaten them to the finish line.

Meanwhile, Cosmos also announced its plans to add the Gravity DEX, a decentralized exchange, as the next upgrade following IIBC.

The Gravity DEX will act as an online marketplace for trading tokens from any connected blockchain, including tokens from IBC-enabled blockchains, wrapped ETH (wETH) to wrapped BTC (wBTC) tokens, and from any future networks that implement IBC.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Popular Ethereum Wallet, MetaMask, Rolls Out V2 Token Swapping Feature for Smartphones

Popular Ethereum Wallet, MetaMask, Rolls Out V2 Token Swapping Feature for Smartphones

MetaMask has finally rolled out the token swap feature for iOs and Android phone users.

The company said that users can now swap tokens inside their mobile wallets using the Swaps feature.

MetaMask Brings DeFi Closer With New Add-on

MetaMask token swaps are achieved with a combination of data from automated and professional market makers and individual decentralized exchanges (DEXs).

The Swap feature includes slippage protection, fewer appeals, and reduced gas fees. On its website MetaMask stated,

“Instead of searching for the best prices between DEXs, MetaMask aggregates this information in a user-friendly interface so that users have access to the greatest liquidity, the largest selection of tokens, and the most competitive prices. The mobile version of Swaps comes with the same fees of 0.875% as the desktop version, which is automatically factored into each quote.”

Mobile users who want to access the new swaps feature would need to update or download the mobile app.

Once inside, users can tap on the new ‘Swap’ button to choose the tokens they want to exchange, select a quote, and then swap. MetaMask charges 0.875% for each swap completed.

Owned by ConsenSys, MetaMask is a popular Ethereum (ETH) wallet that was originally available as an extension for Chrome and Firefox. The company has seen its swaps feature grow substantially alongside its non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Growing Revenue from Token Swaps

Token Swaps has helped MetaMask grow its revenue substantially over the past few months.

According to reports released by the crypto metrics platform in February, Dune Analytics, users reportedly swap between $11 million and $15 million worth of Ethereum-based tokens daily. This level of activity generates about $95,000-$131,000 in fees each day.

The MetaMask token swaps feature was announced for the first time in October 2020. The Swaps feature was first launched for its web wallet on Chrome and Firefox browsers.

Swaps basically combine data from multiple decentralized exchange aggregators, professional market makers, and individual DEXs to ensure MetaMask users always get the best price with the lowest network fees.

Before the MetaMask Swaps feature, users had to navigate many DEXs to compare prices and swap tokens. This didn’t always yield the best price for every trade, as each aggregator performs differently under different circumstances.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Chinese New Year, the Year of Ox (Bull), is Finally Here as Crypto Market Aims for the .5 Trillion Mark

Chinese New Year, the Year of Ox (Bull), is Finally Here as Crypto Market Aims for the $1.5 Trillion Mark

The bullish tailwinds for the Bitcoin market hold strong with negative rates, bond purchases, fiscal stimulus, a weaker dollar, mainstream adoption in this year of bull.

Chinese New Year is finally here. The festival celebrated around the world on Friday marks the beginning of the Lunar New year. The Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival.

Each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, and this is the year of Ox. As an analyst, Mati Greenspan says, “The qualities of this particular four-legged animal are not so different from those of bitcoin itself,” very slow and steady paced but moves only forward and with a sense of purpose.

The crypto market has already been enjoying an uptrend ever since last year, with the overall market cap ready to hit $1.5 trillion, as per CoinMarketCap.

While Bitcoin seems primed for $50k, the fully diluted market cap of the leading cryptocurrency has already surged past the $1 trillion mark. The reported market cap still has a way to go, as the highest level was hit on Friday at $898 billion.

Going forward, Bitcoin is “quickly approaching the two-year MA multiplier upper resistance, currently at $56k,” as per trader Josh Olszewicz. “Ideally, we tap somewhere near $56k, slow down a bit, reconsolidate at the midline, then make the move past the resistance (ala 2017),” he said.

Bullish Tailwinds

Bitcoin hit a new ATH at $49,000 this week as the institutional adoption of the market continues to grow with more and more people and companies embracing cryptocurrencies.

With the names like Tesla, BNY Mellon getting in, it is expected to lay down the groundwork for even more mainstream adoption of cryptos.

The weakness in the dollar also helps the markets, currently around two-week lows after the release of weaker-than-expected weekly US jobless claims data, which is denting investors’ expectations about the pace of the economic recovery. Westpac strategists wrote,

“The U.S. economy will outperform most thanks to fiscal stimulus and faster vaccine deployment, but ongoing reflationary fiscal and monetary policy will leave DXY on a sustained medium-term bear trend.”

This week, as we reported, the Bank of Japan has been signaling its readiness to take interest rates deeper into the negative territory. European Central Bank is also planning to keep the fiscal spending going in 2022.

Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, also said on Wednesday that continued aggressive policy support is needed to fix the issues like the dour state of the US employment. Powell said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York,

“Despite the surprising speed of recovery early on, we are still very far from a strong labor market whose benefits are broadly shared.”

The Fed has signaled that it expects to hold rates near zero at least through 2023, and Powell repeated that the central bank’s $120 billion monthly paces of bond purchases commitment would also continue until “substantial further progress” is recorded on employment and inflation.

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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

Mt Gox Trustee Submits Rehabilitation Plan; 150,000 Bitcoin to Be Returned to Traders

After several consecutive delays, Mt. Gox users could finally get paid after the trustee submitted a draft rehabilitation plan.

Nobuaki Kobayashi, Mt. Gox trustee, submitted the draft rehabilitation plan on Tuesday, Dec. 15. The draft plan promises to repay the former Mt. Gox creditors using Bitcoin. The rehabilitation plan, which has since been posted on the Mt. Gox website, reveals that the trustee is set to return about 150,000 Bitcoin worth approximately $2.6 billion to the former Mt. Gox users. The announcement reads,

“The Tokyo District Court and an examiner will review the draft rehabilitation plan and determine whether to proceed with the rehabilitation proceedings relevant to the draft rehabilitation plan.”

This indicates that the draft rehabilitation plan is currently being reviewed. If the Tokyo District Court okays the plan, then the trustee will repay the money to the creditors within a specified timeframe.

The move comes months after Kobayashi was given another approval extending the date of filing a rehabilitation plan back in October this year. Kobayashi had been given until Dec. 15, 2020, to file the draft rehabilitation plan. The trustee had previously been given several such deadline extensions in April 2019 as well as march 2020.

Mt. Gox was founded in 2010 and arguably underwent the greatest crypto heist in history. The crypto exchange was hacked on two separate occasions in 2011 and 2011, leading to a loss of about 1.35 million Bitcoin. The second hacking led to the exchange’s closure, which catered for about 70% of the total Bitcoin transactions.

Mt. Gox users are yet to receive any management compensation, leading to multiple cases to trace the perpetrators and retrieve the stolen funds.

The Tokyo-based court appointed a Japanese lawyer, Kobayashi, to manage the civil reimbursement process and allegedly has about 150,000 BTC to refund the users. The rehabilitation process is expected to end a protracted legal battle involving the regulators and users.

Mt. Gox is the recent defunct crypto exchange for making positive progress in reimbursement plans. Cryptopia began reimbursements to its users on Dec. 9 after the exchange was hacked last year.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Fidelity-backed OSL Becomes World’s First SFC-Licensed & Insured Crypto Exchange

Fidelity owned BC Technology’s OSL Digital Securities has finally obtained the Securities and Exchange Commission’s license to become the world’s first SFC-licensed, listed, digital asset wallet-insured, Big-4 audited digital asset trading platform for institutions and professional investors.

One of Asia’s most prominent digital asset platforms for investors, OSL is now licensed to conduct Type 1 (dealing in securities) and Type 7 (automated trading service (ATS)) regulated activities.

Besides the Hong Kong licenses, OSL has also applied to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for a digital asset license under the Payment Services Act.

OSL can now legally operate regulated brokerage and automated trading services for digital assets. Once it goes live, which is to be announced in the coming weeks, OSL will offer trading access to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptos along with selected security token offerings (STOs). OSL CEO Wayne Trench said,

“Institutional investment in Bitcoin and other digital assets has rapidly accelerated over the past several years, and has entered a new era of growth in Hong Kong with licensing.”

“Institutions, and other professional investors, including HNWIs and family offices, can now trade digital assets with the region’s most comprehensive and trusted digital asset platform in OSL.”

The company already opted into SFC’s virtual asset regime, and now it has completed its rigorous vetting program.

According to the official announcement, the same heightened level of regulations has applied to digital assets that govern the securities markets so clients can trade with confidence under the safeguards they are accustomed to.

OSL customers will have to undergo “rigorous” KYC and AML measures while benefitted from the additional insurance protection on digital assets. OSL Head of Distribution and Prime Matt Long noted,

“Licensed entities are the future of digital assets and capital markets in the digital age, and professional investors, hedge funds, and family offices are now rapidly increasing portfolio allocations to digital assets such as Bitcoin.”

The digital platform had “exceptional” growth in 2019 and the first half of 2020 with a year-on-year revenue increase of 47%, driven by annualized trading volumes of $28 billion in the first six months of the year.

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Author: AnTy

Bitbond And Germany’s Oldest Bank to Issue A Euro Stablecoin On Stellar’s Blockchain

Bitbond, a Germany-based tokenization firm, has finally completed the launch of its first stablecoin after securing a partnership with Bankhaus von der Heydt (BVDH), the country’s oldest running bank, an official statement confirmed on December 9. Earlier in February this year, BEG had reported the partnership between the two to develop the first Euro-backed stablecoin on the Stellar blockchain, which has now come to life.

In a press statement, Radoslav Albrecht, founder and CEO of Bitbond said,

“Bitbond has been working with Stellar since 2019 when we issued the first-ever tokenized security recognized by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), [the financial regulatory authority for Germany].”

Bitbond utilizes blockchain technology to enhance the issuance, settlement, and custody of bonds through tokenization. Following the completion and launch of the Euro stablecoin issuance, Bitbond “has completed our digital assets tech suite which, up to now, included digital asset custody and tokenization technology,” Albrecht further said.

The statement claims the Euro stablecoin is the first-of-its-kind issued in Europe or across any banking institution. It is fully regulated by BaFin and fully backed at a 1:1 ratio, which gives institutional investors and third party banks confidence in using the token. However, given the strict regulations, KYC/AML compliance, and other regulatory requirements, Bitbond’s EUR stablecoin will not be traded on open exchanges.

BVDH customers and other third-party developers of financial applications dealing with digital assets’ online settlements can use the stablecoin – reducing their costs and transaction times – albeit in a more regulated way. Bitbond also integrated the tokenization of bond securities allowing the system to directly mint and destroy tokens according to the demand/supply mechanisms.

This opens up a gateway for Stellar blockchain to dominate the Euro stablecoin market in a similar manner that Ethereum does for Tether – the dollar-backed stablecoin. Partnering with one of the largest banks across Europe shows the digital space’s potential to work with traditional banks to create better innovative solutions in the finance space. Denelle Dixon, the CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation stated,

“This is a testament to the ways that traditional banking and blockchain can work together, bringing together one of the oldest banks in Europe with a FinTech start-up to deliver exciting innovation in the digital currency space.”

The 266-year old bank is finally taking its role in digitizing securitization, fund administration, and mergers & acquisitions to complement the traditional methods already employed in the bank. The bank has looked at stablecoins and digital assets in the past few years, according to Lukas Weniger, BVDH business development.

However, institutions and big corporations are still wary of using current stablecoins such as Tether and Circle’s USDC due to the third party risk and a lack of a fully licensed bank to back them, Weniger said.

Bitbond will also offer regulated tokenized bonds on the Stellar blockchain as the company works with real estate developers who wish to issue tokenized securities, he further confirmed.

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Author: Lujan Odera