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

Visa Deploys First Smart Contract on Ethereum for its “Universal Payment Channels” Platform

Visa Deploys First Smart Contract on Ethereum for its “Universal Payment Channels” Platform for CBDCs and Stablecoins

Payment giant Visa revealed its “Universal Payment Channels” (UPC) platform for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) on Thursday.

In its paper, Visa noted that with a “significant growth” in digital tokens in the form of crypto, stablecoins, and CBDCs, as the number of distributed ledger technology (DLT) networks increases, transacting parties are getting scattered.

Here, the company envisions a future payment network built on top of DLT networks. This is where Visa’s interoperability platform for digital currencies UPC comes into play.

UPC is a scalable, interoperable platform for digital currencies which operates in a hub-and-spoke model, where clients register with a UPC hub to route their transactions to other clients.

Visa ticks cross-border payments for CBDCs and a marketplace for digital currencies as UPC’s use cases. It aims to become a bridge between independent CBDC networks and to connect regulated stablecoins with CBDCs.

“We envision that the development of this technology will significantly expand the utility of digital currencies as means of making digital payment across a network of businesses, consumers, and developers.”

Visa has also deployed its first sample smart contract on Ethereum’s Ropsten testnet. This payment channel accepts both Ether (ETH) and stablecoin USDC. Visa said,

“UPC’s specialized payment channels would be established off the blockchain and leverage smart contracts to communicate back with the various blockchain networks, delivering high transaction throughput securely and reliably and improving speeds overall.”

Visa sees privacy, concurrent transactions, UPC-as-a-Service, and liquidity management on layer 2 in the future of its Universal Payment Channels.

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Author: AnTy

Canada’s First Multi-Crypto ETF Allows Investors to Hold Both Bitcoin and Ether

Evolve Funds Group has launched Canada’s first multi-crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF), which allows investors to hold both Bitcoin and Ether. The ETF now trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the ticker ETC.

The Evolve Cryptocurrencies ETF (ETC), a market-cap weighted crypto fund, currently has about 68% of its holdings in BTC and 32% in ETH.

Raj Lala, Evolve’s President, and CEO said in an interview,

“A lot of investors want to invest in cryptocurrencies. They’re not exactly sure which one to pick, or they may also want to get exposure to the cryptocurrencies that are growing.”

“They’re looking for more of a turnkey solution to participate in the cryptocurrency market.”

The ETF provides exposure to Bitcoin and Ether by holding its Evolve Bitcoin ETF (EBIT) and the Evolve Ether ETF (ETHR).

This new ETF will be rebalanced monthly but doesn’t use leverage and won’t pay distributions. While no management fee is imposed on the ETF, the underlying ETFs held in the fund charge a 0.75% management fee.

Being an ETF allows the product to be less costly, more transparent, and more tax-efficient than mutual funds.

On its first day of trades, the Evolve Cryptocurrencies ETF managed to amass only about $2.1 million in assets, according to the firm’s website. The other two crypto funds, Bitcoin and Ether ETFs, have about $181 million in combined assets under management.

In its most recent study that polled 208 advisors conducted from August 26 to September 10, Evolve found that 40% have invested in cryptocurrency ETFs, while 31% said client interest was their biggest driver. Of the 60% who weren’t investing in cryptocurrency ETFs, 40% cited the asset class as too volatile.

Interestingly, 80% of respondents believe Bitcoin will continue to be the largest cryptocurrency at the end of 2022, while 85% expect Ether to have the most market growth in the coming year.

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Author: AnTy

Swiss-based SEBA Bank Becomes The First Firm To Receive A Digital Asset Custodian License From Regulators

Swiss-based SEBA Bank Becomes The First Firm To Receive A Digital Asset Custodian License From Regulators

Switzerland-based SEBA Bank became the first Swiss-licensed financial institution to receive a license from regulators to offer digital assets to mutual funds in the country. The cryptocurrency-focused bank will act as a custodian to the firm enabling mutual funds to get exposure to cryptocurrencies.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, announced they have granted a license, a first of its kind, to SEBA Bank, one of the leading banks dealing with digital assets in Switzerland, to offer mutual funds investments in digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The bank will act as the custodian of the funds from institutional clients enabling them to add to their alternative investments basket.

In a phone interview, SEBA Bank CEO Guido Buehler confirmed the product would first be launched to institutional clients with retail clients in plans.

“This collective investment scheme license allows institutional clients, and then later retail clients, to invest into crypto assets on a liquid basis through fund structures.”

”It means there is now the opportunity for institutions to establish their fund structures for crypto as a liquid asset, so people can subscribe today and can sell tomorrow.”

The fintech firm launched in mid-2018 promising to offer clients the “best services in digital banking” and has since introduced digital assets and cryptocurrencies in line with the company’s vision. Having received its digital asset banking license in late 2019, the bank raised $95 million (100 million CHF) in mid-2020 in a bid to enhance its services in preparation for institutional investors.

Unlike the US and China, which are setting up strict regulations on cryptocurrency, Switzerland is leading the way in offering digital asset licenses to Swiss companies. Such ease in regulations is seeing growing interest in traditional firms hoping on to the crypto train. Recently, Swiss-bank UBS was reported exploring various alternatives to offer its wealthy clients exposure to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

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Author: Lujan Odera

SBI Holdings to Launch Japan’s First Crypto Fund Before 2021 is Over

SBI Holdings to Launch Japan’s First Crypto Fund Before 2021 is Over

Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings is now planning to launch the country’s first cryptocurrency fund before the year is over. With this offering, the company aims to give individual investors a way to diversify their broader portfolio, reported Bloomberg.

The fund that seeks to be launched by the end of November could grow to several hundred million dollars.

It will invest in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), XRP, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and other crypto assets, said Tomoya Asakura, who oversees asset management for Japan’s biggest online brokerage, SBI affiliate Morningstar Japan K.K.

“I want people to hold it together with other assets and experience firsthand how useful it can be for diversifying portfolios,” Asakura told Bloomberg, adding that if the fund succeeded, the company would “move quickly” to launch a second one.

Investors in the fund may be required to put in a minimum of roughly 1 million yen ($9,100) to 3 million yen.

Asakura further said that this fund would mainly be aimed at people who understand risks associated with cryptocurrencies, such as high volatility.

It took four years for SBI to come to this point, primarily because of Japan’s tightening restrictions over crypto investing.

Earlier last month, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) Commissioner Junichi Nakajima said he is open-minded about the potential benefits of crypto but added that digital currencies are currently being used primarily for speculation and investment and not as a means of transferring money. Nakajima said at the time,

“We need to consider carefully whether it is necessary to make it easier for the general public to invest in crypto assets.”

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Author: AnTy

BlockFi’s First Independent Director, Former CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo, Quits Board After Just 4 Months

BlockFi’s First Independent Director, Former CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo, Quits Board After Just 4 Months

Former chief US commodities regulator Christopher Giancarlo has made an exit from the board of directors of crypto lending firm BlockFi after four months, the company said on Wednesday.

“We appreciate the wisdom that Chris has imparted in his formal capacity as a Board member,” said Zac Prince, CEO, and Founder of BlockFi.

Giancarlo has been replaced by Ellen-Blair Chube, a managing director at William Blair, but he will continue to provide strategic counsel to the firm in an advisory role.

“BlockFi is an institution that is critical to the broader crypto ecosystem. I’m looking forward to continuing to advise this impressive group of leaders as they work to bridge the worlds of traditional finance and blockchain technology,” said Giancarlo in a statement.

The reason why Giancarlo has resigned from his position in BlockFi wasn’t shared by the company. He was the first independent director of BlockFi’s board.

During his tenure as chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Giancarlo was known as ‘Crypto Dad’ for his crypto-friendly views. He has also co-founded the Digital Dollar project.

Great Turmoil

BlockFi has been going through a turbulent past few months as it faced an onslaught of legal issues. As we reported, multiple US states issued a warning against the company’s flagship BlockFi Interest Accounts (BIA), alleging they were unregistered securities.

The company stopped onboarded new accounts in the states and warned that it could be forced to do so “worldwide” if its New Jersey case isn’t resolved, whose thrice-delayed cease-and-desist order takes effect at the end of the month.

The firm is also planning to go public as soon as 2022 after a potential $500 million Series E funding round at a roughly $5 billion valuation. Reportedly, lead investor Third Point LLC has pulled out following its ongoing fight with regulators.

Amidst this, yet again, BlockFi slashed the rates on crypto holdings for the fourth time this year. Starting Sept. 1st, rates and tiers are changed for Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Chainlink (LINK), PAX Gold (PAXG), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Uniswap (UNI), and Stablecoins (BUSD, DAI, GUSD, PAX, USDC, and USDT) holdings in the BlockFi Interest Account (BIA).

“Tier 1 rates for all cryptocurrencies are increasing. By our estimates, close to 75% of clients will see an increase in their APY,” noted the company, which said the rates are set based on “market dynamics for lending and borrowing.”

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Author: AnTy

Lake County Illinois Treasurer Accepts Campaign Contributions in Multiple Cryptocurrencies

In the midwest state of Illinois, Lake County Treasurer has become one of the first political candidates to accept digital currency, according to the local publication.

Holly Kim, a Democrat running for reelection next year, received a $3 donation in Litecoin (LTC), with a promise of more to come later.

Kim also accepts the popular meme coin, Dogecoin, which has surged 4,717% YTD in value and is currently trading at $0.273.

After consulting with the election board to include an option for crypto donations, Kim has started accepting Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and stablecoin DAI besides Dogecoin (DOGE) and Litecoin (LTC).

“I believe you’ll probably find crypto enthusiasts will support candidacies of government officials who see the potential of blockchain technology as something that’s moving forward,” said Mark Tan, founder of Lake Forest-based investment management firm T Capital Coin, who sent a fraction of a single LTC, to test the donation system works as planned. “(Crypto donors) are more supportive and open-minded,” he added.

FTX CEO Sam Bankman Fried actually made the second-biggest contribution of $5.2 million to the Biden campaign. After the recent debacle with the controversial infrastructure bill containing a crypto tax provision in the Senate, the crypto community is further motivated to spend their riches on supporting those political candidates who support the crypto industry.

Getting Things Right

The election board is treating crypto donations like in-kind donations of corporate stock instead of cash.

Kim, who is also a crypto believer, plans to hold onto the donations in expectation of a rise in their value, and “if worse comes to worst, we can always convert it (to dollars),” she said.

The value of crypto assets is established in USD on the day they’re donated for the purpose of staying within campaign contribution limits, said Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections.

In order to make crypto donations, the donor has to provide their name, address, and occupation, just as with traditional contributions.

“Since we’re trailblazing here, I want to be sure we’re good ambassadors.”

“This could reflect how crypto donations are received in the future, so we want to be sure we do everything right.”

The election board can also investigate if it believes crypto donations are being used to subvert reporting requirements, Dietrich said. But Kent Redfield, a campaign finance expert and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said the rules already allow a level of opaqueness. People can shield their identities by donating to nonprofits then contributing to political action committees (PACs).

A New Frontier

By accepting cryptocurrency for campaign donations, Kim said it is a way to connect with tech-savvy people who might be new to political donations.

“It seems to be how people want to give,” she said. “I feel like it’s a new frontier.”

Crypto donations have been allowed by the Federal Election Commission since 2014, but few politicians have taken advantage of that so far.

A couple of months back in June, the campaign arm of the Republican House reportedly started accepting contributions in crypto in collaboration with crypto payment processor BitPay.

Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur, and Democratic presidential candidate, actually made digital currencies an important part of the campaign last year and shared his plans to make New York a hub for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

Aaron Merreighn, a Conservative Party candidate for lieutenant governor, might be the first one in Illinois to receive a Bitcoin contribution in 2018, which was never spent, and was returned to the donor at the campaign’s conclusion, said Rick Crosley, a DuPage County-based political consultant who was the treasurer on that campaign and believes crypto has several advantages that will bring it in the political mainstream.

“The speed and efficiency of this financial instrument will allow a candidate to do much more.”

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Author: AnTy

Coca-Cola to Launch First NFT on OpenSea on Friendship Day to Benefit the Special Olympics

Coca-Cola to Launch First NFT on OpenSea on Friendship Day to Benefit the Special Olympics

Coca-Cola, one of the most popular beverage companies in the world, has announced that it will launch a non-fungible token (NFT).

In a press release shared earlier today, the Atlanta-based beverage conglomerate confirmed that it had partnered with developer Tafi to launch branded virtual wearables as NFTs. The tokens will represent different items, and they will be available on multiple blockchain-powered platforms.

NFTs for a Good Cause

The upcoming launch will be Coca-Cola’s first foray into NFTs. It also marks yet another big brand working with these tokens to grow their reach. With the beverage company looking to celebrate International Friendship Day with the NFT, all proceeds coming from the sale will go to the Special Olympics.

Explaining the NFT drop, Coca-Cola explained that the collection would feature four separate pieces and feature multi-sensory NFTs housed inside a Friendship Box. the box itself will be an NFT too. The NFT will be auctioned off, and the winning bidder will get additional unique surprises when they digitally open it.

Another unique feature of the NFT launch is that the assets can be worn within Decentraland – a blockchain-powered 3D virtual reality world. Coca-Cola also said that it would host a “Rooftop Party” on Decentraland to celebrate the NFT launch.

Coca-Cola Deepens Crypto and Blockchain Ties

While this is a milestone for Coca-Cola, it’s not their first foray into the blockchain and crypto industry. In November 2019, Business Insider reported that Coke One North America (CONA), the company that handles IT operations for Coca-Cola, used a blockchain solution to manage its supply chain.

Per the report, CONA managed a platform to oversee different franchises that manufacture, bottle, and ship about 160,000 Coca-Cola product orders daily. The technology could help improve cross-company transaction processes and transactions, allowing the bottling operation to move along more rapidly.

Andrei Semenov, senior manager at CONA, told Business Insider that the company expected to use blockchain to reduce order reconciliation durations from 50 days to just a few days. With an inter-company, transparent blockchain platform, CONA will get real-time insights into all bottlers’ transactions, which generate up to $21 billion in annual revenues.

Last year, Amatil X, Coca-Cola Amatil’s corporate venture platform, also announced an investment into Centrepay – a digital asset and payment service provider. Amatil, one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the world, had built a corporate partnership with Centrepay at the time that allowed users to make crypto payments at any of its 2,000+ vending machines across New Zealand and Australia.

With the investment, Centrepay claimed that it would expand its service range t include Epay gift cards, contactless fiat, and vouchers.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Visa Customers Spent Over $1 Bln on its Crypto-linked Cards in First Half of the Year

Visa Customers Spent Over $1 Bln on its Crypto-linked Cards in First Half of the Year

Payments giant Visa said that its customers spent more than $1 billion on its crypto-linked cards in the first half of the year, just as the payment processor has been making moves to make crypto transactions smoother.

The company said it was partnering with 50 crypto platforms that will allow its customers to convert and spend digital currencies at 70 million merchants worldwide.

This is yet another step in Visa’s acceptance of cryptocurrencies which announced in March that it would allow the use of USDC stablecoin to settle transactions on its payment network.

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Author: AnTy

Inflows Recorded Across Digital Assets for the First Time in 9 Weeks: CoinShares Report

Inflows Recorded Across Digital Assets for the First Time in 9 Weeks: CoinShares Report

After five weeks of consecutive outflows, digital asset investment products finally saw inflows last week totaling $63 million in the week ending July 2nd, according to CoinShares’ data.

It was also the first time in nine weeks that inflows were seen across all individual digital assets, “implying a turnaround in sentiment amongst investors.”

Bitcoin saw the most inflows at $39 million, a minor update to the previous weeks’ data highlighting a two-week run of inflows now.

Compared to Bitcoin’s (BTC) two consecutive weeks of inflows, Ethereum (ETH) had three weeks of inflows totaling $18 million. BTC -3.93% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 33,931.74
-$1,333.52-3.93%
Volume 26.85 b Change -$1,333.52 Open $33,931.74 Circulating 18.75 m Market Cap 636.18 b
6 h Inflows Recorded Across Digital Assets for the First Time in 9 Weeks: CoinShares Report 7 h Aave Pro for Institutional Investors Is Coming This Month ‘Due to Extensive Demand’ 8 h Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) Unlocks Coming to an End, They Aren’t Bearish But Bullish for BTC Price
ETH -4.59% Ethereum / USD ETHUSD $ 2,217.74
-$101.79-4.59%
Volume 20.24 b Change -$101.79 Open $2,217.74 Circulating 116.57 m Market Cap 258.53 b
6 h Inflows Recorded Across Digital Assets for the First Time in 9 Weeks: CoinShares Report 7 h Aave Pro for Institutional Investors Is Coming This Month ‘Due to Extensive Demand’ 10 h Smart Money Is Becoming Bullish on Ether, Bitcoin, and Cryptocurrencies Again

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While inflows have finally come in, Bitcoin investment product trading turnover was the lowest since November 2020. According to CoinShares, a similar observation was seen more broadly across the whole of the Bitcoin ecosystem, with volumes down 38% relative to the average for 2021.

Among altcoins, Polkadot (DOT) had the highest inflows of $992.1 million followed by XRP and Cardano (ADA) at $512 million and $90.7 million respectively. DOT -4.11% Polkadot / USD DOTUSD $ 15.36
-$0.63-4.11%
Volume 844.83 m Change -$0.63 Open $15.36 Circulating 957.84 m Market Cap 14.71 b
6 h Inflows Recorded Across Digital Assets for the First Time in 9 Weeks: CoinShares Report 5 d After Compound Finance, Now Coinbase is Offering Users 4% APY on USDC 6 d Coinbase’s Goal is to List ‘Every’ Crypto Asset, says CEO Brian Armstrong
XRP -5.18% XRP / USD XRPUSD $ 0.66
-$0.03-5.18%
Volume 2.08 b Change -$0.03 Open $0.66 Circulating 46.15 b Market Cap 30.45 b
6 h Inflows Recorded Across Digital Assets for the First Time in 9 Weeks: CoinShares Report 3 d BIS: Crypto Investors’ Objectives Are Same as Other Asset Classes, “So Should Be The Regulation” 4 d Japan’s SBI Holdings Says XRP Ledger Can Be Used To Build NFT Markets
ADA -2.86% Cardano / USD ADAUSD $ 1.42
-$0.04-2.86%
Volume 1.78 b Change -$0.04 Open $1.42 Circulating 31.95 b Market Cap 45.22 b
6 h Inflows Recorded Across Digital Assets for the First Time in 9 Weeks: CoinShares Report 1 d Cardano (ADA) Gains 3rd Largest Weightage in Grayscale’s Rebalanced Large Cap Fund 1 w Three Consecutive Weeks of Bitcoin Outflows Mark the Longest Bear Run Since Feb 2018

Inflows of $0.6 million were seen into multi-digital asset investment products; however, this was much smaller than previous weeks suggesting investors were less interested in diversification.

When it comes to digital asset managers, the largest one in the world, Grayscale still hasn’t seen any while its AUM is currently at just above $30 billion. Meanwhile, the second-largest CoinShares had net outflows with its AUM now at almost $3.3 billion, with 3iQ also recording net outflows.

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Author: AnTy