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

Enel Group Attacked Again by Ransomware, Netwalker Demands for 1234.0238 Bitcoins

According to an update from Bleeping Computer, Enel, a multinational energy firm based in Italy, is facing yet another ransomware attack. Barely five months since the firm neutralized a Snake ransomware attack, a Netwalker has now attacked its systems, touting to have accessed 5TB of Enel’s data. They are demanding to be paid 1234.0238 BTC ($16.3 million at the time of publication) as a ransom to surrender its decryption keys and maintain Enel’s data privacy.

As per the Bleeping computer report, the attacker first shared a ransom note with them; it appeared to be from a Netwalker who had compromised Enel’s data. Notably, Enel is a leading Fortune 500 company and operates in over 40 countries, while its customer outreach is more than 61 million.

Netwalker-Enel-ransom-note (1)
Source; Bleeping Computer

While Enel has yet to comment on the issue, the attackers have shared links to confirm that they have compromised data from the Enel group. So far, Enel has yet to respond to Netwalker, a situation that now appears to be doubling the amount of ransom. The attackers are now asking for 1234.0238 BTC to give Enel access to the decryptor; something they say must be bought.

Nonetheless, the Netwalker attackers have communicated with the Enel group as per a recent post on Enel’s support chat.

“Hello, Enel. Don’t be afraid to write to us. Tomorrow we will make a blog post about you or start looking for good hands for your files.”

Meanwhile, they have shown that they are willing to leak Enel’s data if their demands are not met. The Netwalker has already released a screenshot of Enel’s unencrypted data, threatening to make it public and analyze further for ‘interesting things.’

As the crypto industry grows, attackers have found a ‘favorite’ in privacy coins like Monero while others don’t go past Bitcoin. Recent months have seen multiple malicious players demand ransom in BTC, one of the latest attacks on Argentina’s immigration office where the hackers demanded $4 million in BTC.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

BlockFi Acquires a 5% Stake in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), Becomes a Top Shareholder

BlockFi, the crypto lending focused firm, has invested in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), becoming one of the biggest shareholders. According to a filing made with the U.S Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the firm purchased 5.07% of the GBTC Trust. Notably, companies in the U.S are required to report through form 13G if they own more than 5% in another firm.

The filing further reveals that the shares acquired by BlockFi translate to 24,235,578 of the GBTC Trust. Going by the latest Grayscale annual filings, this value is roughly 24,235.578 Bitcoins, given that every share is priced at 0.0001 BTC. As per the prevailing crypto market prices, the BlockFi investment in GBTC is roughly $328 million.

GBTC has been operational since 2013, pivoted as a Bitcoin buying avenue without owning the underlying crypto themselves. Currently, the firm manages an AUM of over $6 billion, acquiring an SEC license earlier in the year. In recent months, its value has been growing exponentially, with Q3 inflows breaking record highs to hit the $1 billion mark.

The CEO of BlockFi, Zac Price, said that the move to invest in GBTC is part of an effort to serve their clients better,

“There are lending markets alongside investment opportunities related to the product, and our significant participation enables us to add value for our clients and the marketplace for liquid and illiquid GBTC shares.”

BlockFi is not the only crypto-focused firm that has acquired a significant share of the GBTC Trust; back in June, Three Arrows Capital bought 21,057,237 shares, roughly 6.26% of the total trust at the time.  

Also Read: BTC Potential Investors’ Market Increases by 52% to 32 Million in 2020: Grayscale Survey

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Cashaa’s New Joint Venture, UNICAS, to Roll Out 22 Physical Crypto Banks in India

U.K. based cryptocurrency firm, Cashaa partners with India’s banking service provider, United Multistate Credit Cooperative Society, as the latter, introduces banking transactions using cryptocurrencies to 22 physical locations in northern India. According to a blog post on Medium, the two financial firms will operate under a joint venture, UNICAS, to launch the products in December this year.

The UNICAS venture will allow users to invest in cryptocurrency, real estate, gold, and other physical assets directly, buy crypto using cash at any of the 22 physical locations, and take up loans against their digital assets. Cashaa plans to open over 100 physical locations across India in 2021, currently stationed across three states – Delhi, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, with a combined population of over 140 million.

The Indian based bank will provide the physical locations and licenses necessary to operate in the country while Cashaa joins in with experience in the crypto space. Mr. Dinesh Kukreja, Managing Director of United Multistate Credit Co. Operative Society, will lead UNICAS as the joint venture’s chief executive.

“We are the first regulated financial institution in the world with physical branches where users can access crypto products,” Kukreja, CEO, UNICAS.

Kukreja stated the project would allow the company to “scale and offer customized financial and crypto products for the local Indian markets.” The banking location will be reconstructed as crypto launches, allowing crypto transactions using the rupee and asking for loans using your crypto assets.

At launch, the banks will allow transactions, buying, and selling of six cryptocurrencies, including – Bitcoin (BTC), Cashaa (CAS), Ethereum (ETH), Binance (BNB), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS, Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP).

However, there still is the dark cloud of regulation from the Indian government following the Supreme Court’s ruling – overturning the blanket ban of cryptocurrencies imposed by the Royal Bank of India (RBI). Kumar Gaurav, Founder & CEO of Cashaa, said the confused nature of the government could be the reason “most Indians are not aware or are miss guided about cryptocurrency as an online product.”

“They tend to trust what they see or what the government recognizes and recommends,” he continued. “Also, India is still largely a cash-based economy despite a Demonetization drive. With UNICAS Crypto lounges we intend to address both issues which are slowing the process of cryptocurrency adoption in India.”

The joint venture aims at rapidly expanding its reach across India – targeting over 100 branches serving cryptocurrency customers in 2021. With the traditional finance world merging with the innovative crypto industry, Kukreja aims the partnership will “bring enormous transformation to both Indian fintech and the crypto industry.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Top 20 Global Investment Firm Franklin Templeton & VC Illuminate Finance Invest in Curv Series A

The global investment firm Franklin Templeton and Illuminate Financial, a Fintech venture capital firm, join Curv, an institutional cryptocurrency wallet solution, as investors – joining Curv’s July 2020 Series A funding. The move sees the former two firms join the $23 million funding round, including several top investors, including Digital Currency Group (DCG), Coinbase Ventures, CommerzVentures, Google’s Digital Garage, and Team 8.

According to an email sent to the BEG news desk, Franklin Templeton will switch from a customer of Curv to an investor. This follows the successful completion of a proof of concept built by BNP Paribas that allows Curv to transfer digital assets across blockchains securely.

This partnership will see the two traditional finance heavyweights join the digital and crypto world through Curv. The institutional wallet firm aims to drive traditional finance corporations to own and hold digital assets through its Multi-party Computation (MPC) technology. MPC allows a secure transfer, storage, and management of digital assets on distributed ledgers.

Franklin Templeton aims to leverage Curv’s MPC technology to expand into the growing crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) market on a secure platform. Curv’s MPC technology introduces a keyless approach removing all single points of failures to help institutions securely move assets and deliver them instantaneously on a blockchain.

Joe Boerio, EVP, Chief Risk & Transformation Officer at Franklin Templeton, believes joining Curv as an investor will improve security when transferring assets across blockchains with the MPC technology – protecting the system “against cyber breaches and insider collusion.” He said,

“We are excited to participate in Curv’s journey as it sets a new standard for digital asset security and scales its business across major financial institutions across the globe.”

Over the past few months, governments worldwide have taken a front foot in regulating the virtual currency industry to curb illicit activities. Due to this, first-time institutions entering the field are leaning towards licensed institutional wallets to store their digital assets. Curv, in particular, has witnessed a growth in its client base, offering an enterprise-grade infrastructure for these institutions ensuring they securely deploy these solutions. Itay Malinger, Curv CEO and Co-founder said,

“The addition of Franklin Templeton is a barometer of the traditional industry’s shift into digital assets, and a broader desire to bring public blockchain-based offerings to market.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s Almeda Continues to Short YFI, Now Adds ETH & LINK Too

Almeda’s Quant trading firm is now onto shorting the center of DeFi Ethereum, DeFi darling YFI, and the top DeFi cryptocurrency LINK.

The platform has investments in some of the top DeFi tokens, including WBTC, REN, BAL, COMP, SNX, NXM, and others.

But for now, they are short on ETH, LINK, and YFI.

Shorting YFI makes the most sense out of the three here, given all that is going around it. After what looked like a bottom last week, this popular DeFi token is back to sliding south. Recently, rumors were floating around of its creator Andre Cronje quitting the project, as even conveyed by the founder to a media publication himself only to deny it all on Twitter. He wrote,

“Still here. Still building. Nothing has changed. Anyone that says otherwise fuck off. I’m just done tweeting and being on social media.”

So, for right now, it just means Almeda sees YFI price declining, as Sam said YFI “have great builders — and might come roaring back if/when Andre builds cool shit that’s less yield farming related.”

The second-largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, meanwhile, is currently trading at around $385, down nearly 1.25% in the past month but still holding onto a 192% return YTD.

LINK has moved back above $11.25 after experiencing huge losses -62.5% since hitting its peak in mid-August. The 7th largest crypto seems to have found its bottom around $7.5 in late Sept.

“Alameda is short ETH, LINK, and YFI in size. Let’s blow them up,” said trader and economist Alex Kruger.

As we reported last week, when the crypto twitter came to know that FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s Almeda is short on YFI, CRV, and UNI, some weren’t happy to see the company not feeling bullish around their favorite tokens.

Meanwhile, some think of it as a catalyst to the DeFi bottom, a move that will accelerate the downward momentum and get the winter down and over with so that the tokens can start its journey upwards again.

Among the tokens shorted by the trading company previously, CRV has lost 99% of its value while UNI and YFI are down 60% and 63% % from their ATH, respectively.

At that time, over the community’s vocal disappointment of Almeda – “a team of traders,” shorting the DeFi tokens, Sam took to Twitter to clarify that his focus is FTX and Serum, and not Almeda. However, he is “involved in larger investments,” there. He said,

“We naturally get long crypto: from FTT, and SRM, and all of our investments,” and “short the things that are less exciting.”

According to him, yield farming is a “bubble,” and “as is much of DeFi, and most of NFTs right now.”

“I’m not bullish on ETH-based DeFi as it exists: it just doesn’t scale, and that’s fatal. But that doesn’t mean future DeFi won’t be huge!”

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Author: AnTy

After CFTC Files Charges, Chainalysis Labels BitMEX Crypto Exchange as a ‘High Risk’

BitMEX is set to be classified as a ‘high risk’ exchange by crypto intelligence firm Chainalysis; barely a week since its officials, including CEO Arthur Hayes, were indicted by the U.S Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Chainalysis advised its clientele, which includes government agencies, financial institutions, and crypto exchanges that it would consider BitMEX a ‘high risk’ label as of October 13 onwards.

This risk classification update on BitMEX means that Chainalysis clients who leverage the platform’s ‘KYT’ monitoring tool will be able to see both historical and future trigger alerts from the now haunted crypto derivatives exchange. Chainalysis shared the client advisory email with TheBlock,

“Any transfers from October 1st and later should be considered high risk. Compliance teams should also look back at older transfers, but given this change may trigger alerts on thousands of older transfers, it is reasonable to do that incrementally,”

However, a Chainalysis spokesperson said that the company’s clients could opt for their own risk tolerance levels and adjust accordingly. That said, they were keen to highlight it is their duty as a crypto intelligence firm to protect its clients, hence the consideration of ‘high risk’ based on criminal charges filed against a specific firm or its ownership/leadership.

Meanwhile, Arthur Hayes remains at large as BitMEX’s parent firm, HDR Global Trading Ltd, vows to take on the government against the recently filed charges. The accused are being pursued on grounds of violating KYC/AML rules and running an unregistered trading service. While it might be early to predict the future of BitMEX, the exchange is already taking a hard hit on its business. In fact, brutal skeptics like LMAX Group CEO, David Mercer, are of the opinion that recent developments will ultimately affect BitMEX’s going concern,

“I can’t see any significant institution wanting to continue to trade there.”

Also Read: ‘Warning Shot’ for DeFi: Here’s Why BitMEX Charges are ‘Incredible Bearish’ for this Burgeoning Sector

More Reading: After Targeting BitMEX, SEC Takes On John McAfee, Who Made Over $23M From Fraudulent ICO Promotions

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Author: Edwin Munyui

SBI Holding’s eSports Subsidiary to Pay Gamers in Ripple’s XRP In Sponsorship Deal with VC Trade

  • A Japanese firm to pay its e-sports players in XRP.
  • This aims to target the digitally-focused individuals in the e-sports industry.

SBI e-sports, a subsidiary to Japanese conglomerate SBI Group, announced a strategic partnership with the group’s venture capital wing, SBI VC Trade Co., Ltd. The partnership will set in a new digital-focused mindset to the e-sports wing, with SBI eSport’s players set to be paid annual salaries in the fourth largest digital asset, XRP.

This is a voluntary option to players who wish to enter into the cryptocurrency ecosystem; the statement read:

“Through this partnership, if a player belonging to ‘SBI e-Sports’ wishes to do so, the annual salary will be paid by the crypto asset ‘XRP’”

SBI Group Holdings is a partner with XRP’s top custodian, Ripple, and takes significant steps in the crypto and blockchain scene. Its venture capital wing deals with digital assets and exchanges to provide a reliable, safe, and secure platform to transact and store assets to their institutional and retail investors.

The addition of XRP to its eSports wing aims to diversify its holdings and provide a gateway for digital asset users. VC Trade statement on the partnership reads,

“We aim to create and nurture a healthy market based on customer-centricity, improve prices, expand liquidity, etc.”

SBI Holdings entered the gaming scene with its eSports platform. Ripple also has had previous ties in the gaming industry. In March 2019, BEG reported Ripple For Developers, a group leading development on Ripple, announced a $100 million fund for Forte developers, a blockchain-based gaming platform.

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Author: Lujan Odera

SingularityNET to Move ‘A Significant Portion’ Of Operations To Cardano From Ethereum

In an announcement on Sept. 30, SingularityNET, the AI firm developing the human-like Sophia robot, announced its partnership with IOHK, the development team behind Cardano, led by founder, Charles Hoskinson. The strategic partnership between the two firms has been on the table for several months as Ethereum blockchain gas fees spiked to all-time highs – at an average tx cost of $15.

The move between the two will see IOHK transfer Ethereum (ERC-20) based AGI tokens to Cardano-based AGI tokens, similar to the wrapped tokens. Moreover, the statement says there will be significant advantages to switching to Cardano, mainly the new updates coming to the Plutus smart contract language – moving away from Ethereum’s Solidity coding language.

However, the statement did not state the portion of SingularityNET that will move from the Ethereum network,

“Final decisions and details regarding porting of a portion of the SingularityNET network to Cardano have not yet been made and will be discussed in-depth with the SingularityNET community when the time is right.”

The move to Cardano aims to increase the speeds of the transaction while lowering the network fees. The announcement states Ethereum high gas fees and high latency times as the main reason they are looking at other options. Additionally, the never-ending postponement of the ETH 2.0 launch, which will introduce a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, has been a barrier to the growth of SingularityNET.

“The ambitious Ethereum 2.0 design holds promise, but the timing of the rollout of different aspects of this next-generation Ethereum remains unclear, along with many of the practical particulars.”

In a 90-minute video chat with Hoskinson, SingularityNET CEO, Ben Goertzel, stated the company still aims at having a multi-chain approach when building blockchain-agnostic solutions to AI. This means that the company, more than likely, will not fully move the blockchain operations from Ethereum, Goertzel stated.

He states it will be left to the community to decide which blockchain offers the best properties, given Cardano has its own flaws. He stated:

“If it turns out the Ethereum portion is more powerful and useful for some purposes, and the Cardano portion is useful for other purposes, then so be it, right?”

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Author: Lujan Odera

FinTech Firm, Wirex, to Launch A Multi-Currency Mastercard Card With 2% Crypto-Back in Europe

Wirex, the inaugural crypto firm to become a Mastercard principal member, is set to roll on its new multi-currency card days after gaining principal membership.

The crypto payment platform is based in London and is licensed by Uk’s Financial Conduct Authority to offer crypto cards across Europe.

The new multi-currency Wirex Card will be backed by Mastercard and will be connected to 19 crypto as well as fiat currency accounts found in the Wirex app. The firm is however yet to issue the release date.

In efforts to boost the utilization of crypto in everyday payments, the firm is also enhancing its existing cryptoback rewards program that has so far been rewarding crypto users with upto 1.5% back in Bitcoin for every in-store transaction.

Going forward, crypto users will enjoy a 2% cryptoback for both in-store and online transactions. In addition, users will get up to 6% rewards on their native Wirex Token balance per year.

Before releasing the Mastercard backed crypto card, Wirex is also set to release various new features taking advantage of the recent partnership with LHV, a payments solution firm.

Within the European Economic Area, the new features which are now live come with support for five fresh currencies consisting of Hungarian forint, Czech Koruna, Romanian leu, Croatian kuna and Polish złoty.

Wirex has in the recent past enjoyed an increase in support with the platform revealing that it has more than three million users in the start of the year. According to the firm’s CEO, the firm has seen adoption especially among mainstream users that are not usually hardcore crypto worshippers or enthusiasts.

Wirex platform allows users from about 130 nations to use their crypto as well as fiat money via an existing dedicated Visa card as well as mobile app.

Recently, there have been positive signs of integration between plastic money and crypto as both Visa and Mastercard have enhanced their efforts to form working relationships with various established crypt-based companies.

Coinbase card was the inaugural crypto card to be issued in the United States and is backed by both Mastercard and Visa.

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Author: Joseph Kibe