Australian ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Firm Looking to Allow Users to Trade Crypto on Customer Demand

Australian ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Firm Looking to Allow Users to Trade Crypto on Customer Demand

Zip Co Ltd, an Australian buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm, explores the option to allow its users to trade cryptocurrencies.

Trading in crypto using Zip digital wallets was one of most requested new product features from users, said co-founder Peter Gray on Thursday.

Zip said it would likely launch the new service in the US first and then in the next 12 months in Australia. The US is driving its fourth-quarter growth and is set to soon become its biggest market by volume.

The company’s fourth-quarter volumes and revenue doubled, with transaction volumes hitting A$1.76 billion ($1.29 billion) in the June quarter and volume at its US unit quadrupled.

Zip’s Australian user base is mature, with about 30% of adults having a BNPL account.

This attempt by Zip to go into crypto is also propelled by the company’s established competitors like Afterpay and Klarna expanding into more countries and planning new offerings like a banking app. The BNPL sector is also attracting the giants like PayPal and even Apple.

“We know our younger generation of customers seek additional products and services that are relevant to them,” Gray told Reuters. The company itself is also looking at expansion in Europe and the Middle East.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Mining ETF Focused On Green Energy Launches On NYSE

Investment firm Viridi Funds has launched an environmentally friendly, crypto mining-focused exchange-traded fund (ETF). The fund aims to invest in crypto mining firms using cleaner sources of energy.

Viridi Funds’ New RIGZ ETF

The ETF dubbed the Viridi Cleaner Energy Crypto-Mining and Semiconductor ETF will trade on the New York Stock Exchange’s Arca platform under the symbol ‘RIGZ.’

According to the announcement, Viridi Funds will serve as a sub-adviser to the fund, with Alpha Architect creating the fund’s infrastructure.

The ETF, which has an expense ratio of 0.9%, was first filed by Viridi in April this year.

Viridi said 80% of the fund’s investment would go to publicly traded miners, while 20% would go towards semiconductors that take advantage of clean energy. The fund would only invest in miners who have switched to nuclear or renewable energy sources or are working on offsetting their carbon emissions with carbon credits.

According to the CEO of Viridi Funds, Wes Fulford, the firm would use an internal proprietary screening algorithm to select the companies based on their current and planned energy source.

Viridi Funds is backed by several investors, including CoinShares, Alameda Ventures, Luxor Technology, Fundamental Labs, and Mechanism Capital.

Fulford commented on the recent movement of miners from China to North America. He said this was good news as North American miners have access to renewable energy sources.

“We believe that based on recent developments within the Chinese mining sector, North American miners that have access to sustainable low-cost power, large fleets of new-generation rigs, and access to capital are well-positioned to generate higher returns during the months and years ahead.”

With the migration of Chinese miners to North America, the country now accounts for nearly 17% of all global Bitcoin mining, CNBC reports.

Viridi’s ETF Amid Calls For Clean Energy

Viridi’s new product launch is part of the growing efforts of institutions in focusing on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Several partnerships have been formed lately by US crypto mining firms to make Bitcoin mining more environmentally friendly. Last week, Bitcoin miner Cleanspark partnered with ESG focused miner Coinmint to increase scalability.

Other companies like Hut 8 and Hive Blockchain have also signed deals recently purchasing new machines to increase their hashrate.

For months, all the buzz has been about Bitcoin exchange-traded funds. While countries like Canada and Brazil have already listed Bitcoin ETFs in their stock exchanges, the US is yet to approve any.

Viridi’s ETF differs because it will not invest directly in cryptocurrencies but will likely have indirect exposure to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. This is because many publicly listed miners have these assets on their balance sheets.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Brazil Approves its First Ethereum ETF

Blockchain investment firm QR Capital’s Ether exchange-traded fund (ETF) has been approved by Brazil’s Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM).

This first Ether ETF approval of the country comes just three weeks after their first Bitcoin ETF went public on the Brazilian Stock Exchange, which was approved in March.

QETH11 “will be listed on the B3, which becomes the 1st exchange in Latin America to have a 100% Ethereum ETF,” announced the firm on Twitter on Wednesday. The date of listing hasn’t been set yet.

This week, another manager Hashdex announced its Bitcoin ETF BITH11, which bets on neutralizing the carbon footprint of mining bitcoin acquired by the fund. It will be listed on the Brazilian stock exchange in the first half of August.

Brazil has also approved an ETF, HASH11, that invests in a basket of cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, QR Capital’s Ether ETF will track the same Ethereum index used by the CME Group, the CME CF Ether Reference Rate. QR Asset Management said.

“The Brazilian investor now has the possibility of exposure to the two largest and most valuable digital assets in the world, in a regulated, simple and secure manner. It is no longer necessary to register in exchanges, create private keys or worry about secure custody.”

QR Capital will use crypto exchange Gemini’s crypto custody solution to store digital assets.

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Author: AnTy

a16Z Launches Largest Ever $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency-focused Fund

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has launched the third and biggest multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency-focused fund to continue to invest in the market.

Founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, the firm announced its new $2.2 billion fund on Thursday. It plans to deploy capital across blockchain, digital assets, next-generation payments, decentralized finance (DeFi), Web 3, and more. Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, partners who run Andreessen’s cryptocurrency group said,

“The size of this fund speaks to the size of the opportunity before us: crypto is not only the future of finance but, as with the internet in the early days, is poised to transform all aspects of our lives.”

The company launched its first crypto-focused fund three years ago during crypto winter. Currently, Bitcoin has halved from its all-time high, and altcoins have lost even more of their value.

But as Haun and Dixon noted, “prices may fluctuate but innovation continues to increase through each cycle.”

“We believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto,” they wrote, adding that they’re “radically optimistic about crypto’s potential.”

The firm is known for its early bets on companies like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Lyft. It made the first move into the crypto asset space in 2013 through Coinbase, which went public this year. Additionally, it is now an early investor in Facebook-backed stablecoin Diem, previously known as Libra. The firm has also joined the NFT boom by investing in Dapper Labs and OpenSea.

Andreessen Horowitz said it plans to hold these crypto investments for a decade or more.

The firm also announced new hires for the fund, including former SEC director Bill Hinman as an advisory partner and former undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs Brent McIntosh as an advisor.

For the global head of policy, Tomicah Tillemann, the former chair of the Global Blockchain Business Council and an adviser to the White House, has been appointed. Anthony Albanese, who left the New York Stock Exchange last year, will serve as the new COO, while Rachael Horwitz, who led communications at Twitter, Facebook, and Google, is joining as an operating partner.

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Author: AnTy

Solana-based Pyth Network Partners with High-Frequency Trading Firm Virtu Financial After GTX & Jump Trading

Solana-based Pyth Network Partners with High-Frequency Trading Firm Virtu Financial After GTX & Jump Trading

Solana-based oracle solution Pyth Network has partnered with Virtu Financial, one of the global leaders in trading and execution services, to deliver institutional-grade market data to all decentralized Finance (DeFi) participants.

This decision to join the platform by Virtu was first announced in April by Jump Trading Group that followed a similar move made by fellow high-frequency trading firm GTS earlier this month.

Both Virtu and GTS are two of the biggest traders in the US stock market, while Jump is another major player in derivatives.

This is a step towards Pyth’s objective of building a decentralized, HiFi financial market data distribution platform as the world’s most sophisticated market participants seek better ways to distribute precise, real-time market data using high-performance blockchains.

Virtu provides execution services to its clients and delivers liquidity across 25,000 securities spread over 230 venues in more than 50 countries. Joe Molluso, Virtu’s co-president, and the co-chief operating officer said,

“For something like this to succeed, the data needs to be something people can rely on — that’s where we see the opportunity to help.”

“I’m not sure anyone has a crystal clear picture of what it’ll look like in the future,” but “the end game could be very exciting.”

It will now publish its unique sets of equities, FX, and cryptocurrencies’ market data on Pyth Network for sophisticated asset pricing and consumption by smart contract using “ultra-fast, high-throughput low-latency blockchain with near costless transactions” Solana blockchain and other major blockchains. GTS CEO Ari Rubenstein said in an interview,

“We’re just donating the trading that we’re doing to this facility so that content can be more efficiently propagated to the investment community.”

“We think if you lower barriers to entry, you’ll get more trading and demand for risk transfer services.”

According to Douglas Cifu, CEO of Virtu Financial, Puth Network will become an integral part of the infrastructure in the quickly evolving DeFi ecosystem.

Meanwhile, Dave Olsen, the president, and CIO of Jump says with their data, which updates fast and is accessible by anyone, users will “now have a window into the insider market for prices of financial assets.”

For Olsen, who worked at JPMorgan for almost 25 years, “This is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever worked on.”

He sees parallels to when tech giant Apple first started letting developers make apps for the iPhone, and while no one could have predicted that something like Uber will emerge from that, the potential was clear, he said.

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Author: AnTy

VanEck’s CEO Calls for Bitcoin ETF Approval Amid Intense Customer Demand

Following another delay in the approval of the VanEck Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), the CEO of the investment firm has called for a prompt decision.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Jan van Eck urged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to approve a Bitcoin ETF due to the high customer demand.

SEC Continues Delay In Approving VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF

Last week, the SEC postponed its decision on approving VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF for the second time.

The agency extended the review process till August 2021 while requesting public comments on the proposed rule change and if the ETF would be vulnerable to market manipulation.

During the interview on CNBC’s ETF Edge, van Eck highlighted the growing demand for a Bitcoin ETF, adding that investors are asking for a more efficient means of trading the premier digital asset.

The CEO also took a shot at the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, the largest bitcoin-related fund on the market. He said that the only alternative to a Bitcoin ETF in the US is a closed-end fund that trades it at a 40% premium or 20% discount. VanEck added,

“Bitcoin futures … aren’t any better because of the shape of the futures curve. There’s a futures-based fund that underperformed bitcoin by 22% last year and 8% this year.”

Speaking on the frequent delays, VanEck said the April extension was only an artificial deadline. According to him, the SEC chairman was unwilling to prioritize or make a decision regarding a Bitcoin ETF.

Van Eck’s comments come amid his company’s continual attempt to have an exchange-traded product approved in the US.

The global investment firm currently has two ETF proposals with the SEC awaiting approval, a Bitcoin ETF and an Ethereum ETF.

VanEck filed the Bitcoin ETF last year intending to work alongside Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe) on the proposed offering.

The Ethereum ETF, which is the first Ethereum ETF proposal in the US, was filed earlier this month. VanEck’s goal for this ETF is to expose retail and institutional traders to ETH without directly investing.

Meanwhile, the SEC has also delayed in approving ETFs from firms like WisdomTree, Kryptoin, and Fidelity Investments.

VanEck Files New Prospectus For A Bitcoin Futures Mutual Fund

As VanEck waits for the SEC’s final decision on its Bitcoin ETF, the firm decided to also file another draft prospectus for a BTC Futures Mutual Fund.

Dubbed the “Bitcoin Strategy Fund,” the fund is aimed at investing in BTC futures contracts, pooled investment vehicles, and ETPs with exposure to the largest cryptocurrency.

According to the prospectus, the fund will invest in Bitcoin futures through a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, and the portfolio will be managed by Gregory Krenzer.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Square Unveils New Initiative To Promote Bitcoin Inclusion

Financial payments firm Square Inc. has announced that it would distribute $5 million in grants to a newly created fund aimed at encouraging financial inclusion for historically under-resourced communities.

Black Bitcoin Billionaire Group Selected As First Recipient

The newly created fund dubbed the Bitcoin Endowment Fund would be focused on building wealth and increasing Bitcoin education.

Square has selected the Black Bitcoin Billionaire group to be the first recipient to get a grant from the Bitcoin Endowment Fund. The Black Bitcoin Billionaire is an organization aimed at educating the Black community on Bitcoin.

The newly created fund would be funded with the interest Square earns on the Bitcoin in its corporate treasury, the company said in a memo.

The Bitcoin Endowment Fund is part of a program Square launched to invest $100 million in promoting financial inclusion.

The initiative is also focused on improving access to crypto and other technologies among minority communities.

As part of the program, $25 million would be contributed to the Netflix-led Black Economic Development Fund while $10 million would be given to the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund group.

Another $10 million would go to international organizations focused on supporting minority groups globally.

The Entrepreneurs of Color fund is managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a non-profit focused on giving minority small business owners capital. It also provides support such as coaching, operational guidance, and training.

President of LISC Fund Management George Ashton noted that the tech firm’s support would help minority business owners struggling with their businesses.

This latest move from Square comes only days after it revealed that it is considering a Bitcoin hardware wallet that would give consumers greater control over their own cryptocurrency.

This comes as no surprise considering the fact that Bitcoin transactions have been a major source of revenue for Square. Through its CashApp, customers store Bitcoin and make purchases.

Square’s Constant Support For Bitcoin And Crypto

The Bitcoin Endowment Fund is part of Square’s ongoing push into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

The company recently invested $5 million to build an open-source, solar-powered bitcoin mining facility at one of the US sites of Blockchain technology firm, Blockstream.

Square also teamed up with Blockstream as part of its Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative.

The CEO and founder of Square, Jack Dorsey, has been known to improve educational opportunities around Bitcoin alongside its adoption.

In February, Dorsey announced a partnership with rapper Jay-Z to donate 500 BTC to an endowment trust in Africa and India.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Cryptocurrency Exchange Gemini Acquires Crypto Custody Firm Shard X

Cryptocurrency Exchange Gemini Acquires Crypto Custody Firm Shard X

Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini has acquired cryptocurrency custody specialist Shard X.

Per an official blog post, Gemini disclosed that it would use Shard X’s multi-party computation (MPC) technology to speed up its efficiency.

Gemini To Use Shard X’s MPC Technology

The technology would help increase the speed at which the exchange transfers customer assets on its platform, the New York-based firm said.

“We’re excited to announce the acquisition of Shard X, a leading developer of secure multi-party computation cryptographic technology. Gemini will integrate Shard X’s MPC technology into our distributed, multi-site key management and signing infrastructure.” Gemini stated.

MPC is a type of cryptographic technology that is fast and secure. It breaks up private keys into shards or parts and distributes them between various parties to execute a transaction.

Shard X was founded in 2018 by Yaniv Neu-Ner, Nikita Lesnikov, and Navaho De Wet in London. The firm claims to be the first company to offer multi-party computation (MPC) on hardware security modules (HSMs).

This acquisition would enhance the security of Gemini’s crypto custody platform, which surpassed $30 billion of crypto assets under custody last month.

The addition of Shard X’s MPC will work in concert with all other aspects of Gemini’s custody offering, including Gemini’s key security, like role-based governance protocols, biometric access controls, and physical security.

It will also expand Gemini’s reach to decentralized finance (DeFi) and other applications. Basically, this acquisition is set to beef up Gemini’s custody tech.

The terms of the deals were not disclosed. However, the exchange’s Chief Operating Officer Noah Perlman revealed that Shard X would join Gemini’s UK affiliate.

Gemini was founded by brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in 2014. The company, which has more than 440 employees, is known for its regulated platform that allows users to buy, sell, store, and earn interest on more than 40 cryptocurrencies.

Shard X Joins Growing List Of Gemini’s Acquisitions

The Shard X deal is the third acquisition for Gemini in the last two years.

In November 2019, Gemini acquired the popular non-fungible tokens (NFTs) marketplace Nifty Gateway. The platform, which launched in 2018, facilitates nifty purchases for some of today’s most popular crypto-games and applications, including OpenSea, Gods Unchained, and CryptoKitties.

Fast forward to January this year, Gemini also acquired crypto credit card company Blockrize to accelerate its plans of launching the Gemini Credit Card. A card that offers rewards in digital currencies.

Meanwhile, there have been a couple of crypto custody acquisitions lately. A notable one among them is Galaxy Digital’s $1.2 billion acquisition of crypto custodian BitGo and PayPal’s acquisition of Curv.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Crypto Investment Firm Valour Unveils Cardano (ADA) and Polkadot (DOT) ETPs

Crypto Investment Firm Valour Unveils Cardano (ADA) and Polkadot (DOT) Exchange-Traded Products (ETPs)

Cayman island-based company, Valour Structured Products Inc, has joined the litany of companies launching exchange-traded products (ETPs)

Valour Launches Cardano And Polkadot ETPs

The digital asset investment firm revealed its two new ETPs, dubbed the Valour Cardano SEK ETP and the Valour Polkadot SEK.

According to the announcement, the Valour Cardano SEK ETP has been listed on the Nordic Growth Market (NGM) stock exchange today under the ticker CH111478796. On the other hand, the Valor Polkadot SEK would launch later this month under the code CH1114178770.

Valour had rolled out its Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) ETPs called Bitcoin Zero and Ethereum Zero prior to this.

According to Valour CEO Diana Biggs, the unveiling of the Cardano and Polkadot ETPs follows the success of the Bitcoin and Ethereum ETPs, which led to investors demanding more digital asset products.

“With the increasing development and understanding of these technologies, we’re thrilled to bring investors the most cost-effective and secure way to access investment in innovative protocols like Cardano and Polkadot.”

The CEO of DeFi Technologies, Wouter Witvoet, noted that Valour is focused on helping investors navigate the regulatory constraints in the crypto space by making it easier for them to access credible cryptocurrency investment opportunities.

Valour is a subsidiary of DeFi Technologies Inc. The issuer focuses on rolling out exchange-listed financial products that enable investors to gain exposure to popular digital assets simply and securely.

Cardano And Polkadot Enjoying Rising Global Demand

Cardano (ADA) and Polkadot (DOT) currently rank among the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap. While Cardano has a market cap of $65 billion, Polkadot stands at $37 billion.

The altcoins are undoubtedly among the hottest altcoins in the crypto market right now as the crypto bull market continues to roar on.

The ADA coin has seen a lot of positive news surrounding it lately, one of which is the listing on Coinbase Pro.

In the same vein, Polkadot (DOT) has had a good run this year. DOT began the year strongly as its price rallied over 700% into the February high, securing its position as one of the largest cryptocurrencies.

It is no surprise that crypto ETP issuer 21Shares also has Polkadot and Cardano ETPs. 21Shares listed the DOT ETP in February 2021, while the ADA ETP launched in April, both on the Swiss SIX exchange.

At press time, ADA is trading at $2.08, while the DOT coin trades at $39.85.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

SEC Moves To Expunge XRP Holders From Ongoing Ripple Lawsuit With Latest Filing

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s ongoing lawsuit against blockchain firm Ripple Labs and its executives has taken a new twist.

SEC Files Opposition To Motion To Intervene

In a recent release, the agency filed a motion to stop XRP holders from intervening in the ongoing lawsuit. The filing termed the “Memorandum of Law in Opposition of the Motion to Intervene” seeks to ensure no third party is involved in the ongoing case.

The government agency said this is because the movants have no stake whatsoever and cannot be called in as reliable witnesses due to their association with the defendants.

It also noted that their grievances are properly represented by Ripple Labs and the company’s chairman Chris Larsen and CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

The SEC noted that this is not the first occasion the movants have tried infusing themselves into the case, citing their first filing in the Rhodes Island District Court.

It, however, said that the XRP holders might force the agency to take up a legal case against the body of interested movants since there has not been any reason to bring them into the matter.

The SEC said that this intervention is summarily against the agency’s sovereign immunity, and if the courts decide to let them state their case, it may be forced to bring in other disgruntled investors who feel the defendants were not honest in their dealings with them.

The financial agency also explained that the movants’ cause is a lost one given the fact that whatever funds they lost following the lawsuit on secondary markets cannot be recovered as they are not a party to the case.

The SEC said the recent filing by the lead counsel for the movants Jordan Deaton lacked any new substantive argument as they have repeatedly borrowed from the defendants’ narrative of XRP not being a “security.”

It says this sustained discourse is similar to XRP’s position and shouldn’t, therefore, be allowed to stand in order not to foster delay and confusion.

The regulatory body also jabbed at Deaton’s motive, subtly stating that this could be a platform for the lawyer to gain Twitter prominence following the growing media attention surrounding the case.

Ripple Scaling Up Despite SEC Lawsuit

The SEC’s lawsuit in the closing days of 2020 adversely affected Ripple Lab’s partnerships and its utility token’s valuation in the secondary market.

Following the December filing by outgoing Chairman Jay Clayton, crypto exchanges in the US swiftly delisted the XRP token from their platforms. If that weren’t enough, key partnerships with US companies, went underwater with MoneyGram reneging its agreement with the embattled company.

Ripple CEO Garlinghouse had noted that most of the blockchain company’s business was executed overseas, citing the regulatory haze in the American nation as a deterrent to innovative banking in the country.

He also pointed out that only the US SEC has a problem with the XRP token given that Asian nations, the area XRP has the most influence, do not classify the digital token as a “security.”

In the months that followed, XRP dropped from the 4th most valuable crypto position to the bottom ten, and its value traded way below a dollar.

But following preliminary victories in the opening case with the SEC, the XRP has rallied significantly, and calls for the digital payment firm to be relisted on exchanges have begun making the rounds.

And as the general crypto market has rallied, the XRP token has surged after it rose 17% in April and momentarily reclaimed its position as the 4th most valuable cryptocurrency.

The San Francisco-based fintech company has also been strategically repositioning itself since the SEC lawsuit was made public. Ripple said it was launching a private version of its XRP Ledger Protocol tailored for national banks in a release on its website. This private protocol would help apex banks in the issuance, maintenance, and monitoring of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), set to serve a secondary role to fiat.

The US tech company also recently appointed former US Treasurer Rosa Gumataotao Rios as a board member. Alongside, financial veteran Kristina Campbell will serve as the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Rios’ former role as the currency maker is seen as a strategic move to sell the idea of digital currencies to anti-crypto critics. Campbell would be tasked with the responsibility of accelerating the company’s growth while delivering value to shareholders.

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Author: Jimmy Aki