Tanla & Microsoft Launches Blockchain-based Communication Platform on Azure

Tanla Platforms Limited and Microsoft have partnered to launch a blockchain-based communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) dubbed ‘Wisely.’ This communication channel touts a secure, trusted, and private edge-to-edge network targeting enterprises and their supply chains. The Wisely CPaaS is built on Microsoft Azure, hence leveraging the underlying fundamentals of this cloud ecosystem.

Wisely derives some of the functionalities including Microsoft Azure PostgresSQL Database, Databricks, Cosmos DB, Kubernetes Service, and other embedded services. The platform also uses AI/ML to increase the value proposition of its product and cut associated costs over time. Being a blockchain-based network Wisely provides a single truth source by making all the data visible to participating stakeholders. Tanla’s CEO & Chairman, Uday Reddy, said that the new tech is a game-changer for enterprise communication,

“We’re excited to launch Wisely, our new global platform powered by Microsoft. It is a gamechanger for enterprises, mobile carriers, OTT players, marketers, and industry regulators.”

The Wisely marketplace is designed to create a trustworthy communication network where enterprises can connect and access the omnichannel capabilities. This edge-to-edge encrypted platform allows enterprises to collaborate with suppliers, meeting the ever-changing communication needs. Enterprises have an option to onboard their own suppliers or chose from an existing channel. So far, wisely has secured three cryptography and blockchain-oriented patents from the U.S Patents and Trademark office. Microsoft Corporate VP of Cross-Industry solutions, Omar Abbosh, commented on the potential disruption of this milestone,

“Disruption isn’t part of the journey; it is the journey. Leading and thriving requires a commitment to perpetual transformation, and the cloud is where and how this happens. Data security and privacy is an important component, and Wisely leverages the flexibility and reliability of Microsoft Azure to provide another great business communication option for our enterprise customers.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Bancor’s Approach to Handling Impermanent Loss Shows Financial Viability

Bancor has been working on a reliable method to address impermanent loss and it seems to have struck gold with its insurance-based approach

The Bancor Network has been busy trying to solve the issue of impermanent loss on its decentralized exchange. In a recent report, the protocol showed significant success with its approach, leading to the belief that it might be able to handle the protection of temporary loss of funds in the long term.

Impermanent Loss on DEXs

Yesterday, Bancor released a Protocol Health Report for its v2.1 decentralized exchange (DEX) upgrade.

The report covered the exchange’s financial and operational performance for the past quarter, showing significant liquidity and revenue gains.

As the report showed, liquidity across the DEX rose by 100 percent over the past three months, resulting in about 700,000 BNT (worth $1.12 million) in earnings from swap fees. However, the platform’s strategy on impermanent loss appeared to have faltered.

When Bancor launched the DEX late last year, it focused primarily on effective impermanent loss management.

Also known as divergence loss, the impermanent loss is a problem that affects mostly exchanges that run on the automated market maker (AMM) protocol. It occurs when liquidity providers (LPs) lose funds due to the volatility of a trading pair. It basically describes how much revenue an investor would have earned if they had held on rather than provide liquidity to the market.

The effect of this divergence is a loss of value, compared to the benchmark “buy and hold” portfolio.

The loss is termed “impermanent” because it could be reverted if the prices returned to their original state. However, even in the best scenarios, losses due to divergence will reduce liquidity providers’ profits from price swings.

Possible Long-Term Benefits

Bancor had initially tried to solve the problem with oracles, which reads token prices and render arbitrage virtually unnecessary.

However, front-running issues rendered this approach impractical. So, the exchange deployed an insurance mechanism to cover the cost of impermanent loss.

The project implemented a vesting schedule to incentivize LPs to stake their tokens in the long term.

The protocol’s strategy was to incentivize more altcoin holders to become LPs instead of adopting the buy-and-hold strategy. Another strategy Bancor plans to explore is to encourage projects to use their treasuries to provide liquidity to AMMs. Just like proof-of-stake (PoS) rewards, the method could allow projects with considerable token reserves to increase liquidity on token pairs and also get additional rewards.

The vesting schedule will see Bancor provide one percent coverage on liquidity capital for up to 100 days. However, LPs who make withdrawals before 30 days won’t get any compensation for losses in that period.

Bancor’s approach appears to be yielding benefits. As the company reported, the total impermanent loss associated with withdrawn liquidity amounted to 41,000 BNT ($64,000). On the flip side, the protocol also earned 350,00 BNT ($560,000) in fees.

Bancor added that some LPs withdrew their deposits before getting 100 percent insurance. These LPs got partial protection, which was paid based on their coverage level. The report pointed out,

“As the proportion of insurance policies with 100% protection increases over time, it stands to reason that the associated cost to the protocol will rise. However, various factors suggest the protocol is able to handle this insurance burden.”

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Hackers Have Been Stealing Crypto From Wallets for Over a Year with a New Malware

Hackers Have Been Stealing Crypto From Wallets for Over a Year with a New Malware Dubbed ‘ElectroRAT’

A new malware, dubbed ElectroRAT has been discovered by cybersecurity researchers at Intezer Labs; the remote access Trojan (RAT) targets crypto wallet users and has been operational for the past year according to the report published on Jan 5.

With crypto prices on a bullish trend, the market continues to be exposed to malicious attackers looking to drain funds from users’ wallets. This latest malware is said to have been embedded in three crypto apps built on Electron hence the pseudo ‘ElectroRAT’.

Under the Hood

Per the report, the apps in which the malware was hidden include Jamm, eTrade/Kintum, and DaoPoker. All these are crypto-oriented applications with the first two being trading apps, while DaoPoker was fronted as a gambling platform. Notably, the three applications were deployed for Linux, Mac, and Windows versions.

Intezer Labs researchers highlighted that the malware took longer to be detected since the apps were built from scratch, concealing the actual intention, which was to breach users’ crypto-wallets. The report describes ElectroRAT as extremely intrusive given its embedded functionalities. ElectroRAT has,

“Various capabilities such as keylogging, taking screenshots, uploading files from disk, downloading files, and executing commands on the victim’s console.”

This malware was written on the Golang programming language which made it even more difficult for malicious malware to be detected. Golang has become a favorite amongst malware authors given the complexity of analyzing projects written in this language; they tend to be more sophisticated than malware written in C#, C++, and C.

Level of Exposure

Intezer Labs estimated that thousands of users may have already been affected by the malware, although they might not be aware. According to additional evidence from the report, some of the victims are Metamask wallet users. This comes as no surprise given that the three apps sourced for marketing support and were able to advertise on popular crypto portals such as SteemCoinPan and Bitcointalk.

Cyber sec stakeholders who have commented on this development include Casa crypto custody CTO, Jameson Lopp, who said that such novel malware is to be expected in a bull market. He went on to caution crypto users against using wallets that store private keys on one’s desktop/laptop; instead, the ‘private keys should be stored on dedicated hardware devices’.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Kraken Users Have Staked Over $1 Billion in Cryptocurrencies

Kraken Users Have Staked Over $1 Billion in Cryptocurrencies

Top crypto exchange Kraken made a significant splash when it announced its Ethereum staking service last year. Since then, it has gotten a substantial amount of commitment from users.

This week, the exchange confirmed its customers have staked over $1 billion in assets on its crypto service, marking continued growth.

Kraken Users Love Them Some ETH

Citing data from Jeremy Welch, Kraken’s Vice President of Product, the exchange’s users have now staked about 45.5 million XTZ (worth about $120 million) and 58 million DOT (worth $580 million). This adds to the 307,904 ETH ($368.5 million) already being staked on the platform. Welch added that staking positions’ increased growth reflects investors’ and traders’ positive sentiment about cryptocurrencies.

The executive added that staking has also presented a paradigm shift in how people invest in cryptocurrencies. With the crypto asset class on a growth and maturity trajectory, investors are no longer satisfied with securing short-term gains. Many are getting more comfortable with locking their assets up for a long time because they believe the industry will keep growing.

As explained, Kraken launched its Ethereum 2.0 staking service in December 2020. In just four days, the exchange confirmed that it has seen over 100,000 ETH in deposits, with a value of $60 million at the time.

Everyone Wants to Get In on Ethereum 2.0 Staking

It’s easy to see why Kraken’s staking will draw so many investors. The exchange has impressive reward rates, with investors getting between five to seven percent based on network activity.

However, the exchange isn’t alone in the Ethereum 2.0 staking business. Binance, the industry’s largest exchange, launched its staking service in December, with investors getting between 5 and 20 percent in annual percentage yields (APY). It also provided extra incentives for customers who complete its know-your-customer (KYC) identity verification process.

Coinbase also announced two months ago that it would launch Ethereum 2.0 staking in the early part of 2021. The exchange has yet to provide additional details, although it would most likely offer commissions in similar ranges to its competitors.

The increase in staking activity is also coming at a time when Ether is on a significant upsurge. The asset’s value has increased significantly over the past few weeks, rallying on the back of increased activity in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector and on the back of Bitcoin’s jump.

In a blog post, crypto exchange OKCoin also shared some insights n how the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade could drive the asset’s price higher. As many know, the upgrade will essentially transition Ether into the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. It will also provide additional benefits in terms of Ether’s transaction speed and costs.

As OKCoin explains, improvements in Ether’s functionality should lead to a greater demand for the asset. Ether’s price should continue to surge in the long run, leading to a boom for investors – and stakers.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Bitcoin ‘Kimchi Premium’ Makes a Comeback As Euphoria Builds

South Koreans have also started to join in on the crypto rally.

Another sign of Bitcoin euphoria can be seen in the “kimchi premium” that has returned.

The positive price gap between South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges and other exchanges is the Kimchi premium which has hit two-year highs amidst the ongoing price rally.

This premium first made its presence known in December around the time Bitcoin breached its 2017 peak of $20,000. At one point this premium was above 6% in January this year.

As of writing, Bitcoin price BTC 4.05% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 35,315.36
$1,430.27 4.05%
Volume 68.8 b Change $1,430.27 Open $35,315.36 Circulating 18.59 m Market Cap 656.61 b
2 h Bitcoin Supply Liquidity Falling Faster than Ever Amidst ‘Tremendous Demand’ 2 h IGT Gets Regulatory Approval to Use Bitcoin & Crypto’s at Slot Machines 2 h What’s Happening on the Bitcoin Network Amidst The Red Hot Market?
is trading at $34,670 on Bitfinex, $34,685 on Coinbase, $35,621 on Upbit, $35,595 on Bithumb, and $34,834 on Binance, as per Coinmarketcap.

The last time such a difference in prices was seen was in early 2018.

“‘Player 2 has entered the game,” said Ari Paul CIO at Blocktower Capital. “The long-running trend of Asia hours being bearish may be broken as South Korea seems to have finally caught a major bid yesterday and continuing into tonight,” he added.

Korean exchanges are also seeing massive deposits. On Tuesday, 3,001 BTC worth more than $99 million was moved to Bithumb, as per data source CryptoQuant. Just this week, Bithumb Global also opened the BTC market for their KRW only market.

These premiums appear for a number of reasons which include the availability of crypto service providers, regulatory environment, fiat currency conversion ease, and economic situation.

As Bitcoin price rallies, people are getting back into crypto which can also be seen in Bitcoin trending on South Korea’s biggest search engine Naver, which happened the day the digital asset ripped past $30k. The volume on these exchanges has also started to trend up moving into 2021.

Just this week, Naver published an article about Bitcoin, gold, and real estate skyrocketing, noting how BTC surpassed 30 million won at the end of last year.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin’s Rising Popularity Not an ‘Existential Threat’ to Gold’s Last Resort Status

Amidst the wild bull rally of 2020, several mainstream firms have commented on Bitcoin’s ability to outdo gold in the long term. In its recent report, JPMorgan also said that if Bitcoin continues to see the institutional adoption it is seeing, which has just “begun,” gold can “suffer” over the coming years.

However, according to Goldman Sachs Group, Bitcoin and gold can coexist despite the largest digital currency pinching some demand from the traditional safe haven asset. The bank said in a note,

“Gold’s recent underperformance versus real rates and the dollar has left some investors concerned that Bitcoin is replacing gold as the inflation hedge of choice.”

While the banking giant noted that there’d been some substitution, “we do not see Bitcoin’s rising popularity as an existential threat to gold’s status as the currency of last resort,” it added.

As we reported, Bitcoin flows have been increasing massively thanks to the cryptocurrency’s more than 210% rally this year. Meanwhile, the world’s largest gold ETF recorded the most significant outflow last month has not recorded any inflows. Goldman said,

“We do not see evidence that Bitcoin’s rally is cannibalizing gold’s bull market and believe the two can coexist.”

Dan Tapiero, co-founder-10T Holdings, a supporter of both Bitcoin and gold, agrees with Goldman Sachs and that there are not enough stores of value available for investors. He said,

“Non-financial market people do not understand that we have an overall SHORTAGE of stores of value available in the markets.”

“GOLD not losing its SOV premium any time soon, unlikely in my LIFETIME.”

According to Goldman, wealthy and institutional investors avoid digital assets due to “transparency issues,” and “speculative retail investment causes Bitcoin to act as an excessively risky asset.”

According to Jeff Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, “Bitcoin is the retail inflation hedge.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, Currie said it is the copper chart that looks “similar” to Bitcoin, and what they have in common is they both are “risk-on growth proxies.”

He further added that gold remains a “defensive asset” and “there’s really no evidence” that Bitcoin hasn’t stolen demand from the precious metal.

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Author: AnTy

Fidelity Digital Assets Dives Into Why Institutions Are Adding Bitcoin to Treasury Reserves

Over the year, several companies have chosen to add Bitcoin to their Treasury reserves, including MicroStrategy, Square Inc., and Tudor Investment Corporation. The latest two, Canada-based BIGG Digital Assets and MassMutual, a 169-year old insurance firm, also added $3.6 million and $100 million in BTC to their reserves in 2020, respectively.

As one of the first institutional investment-focused firms on Bitcoin, Fidelity Digital Assets released a synthesis report on the growing number of institutions adding BTC as a treasury reserve asset – and crucially, why more companies will consider adding Bitcoin-backed treasuries in the future.

From August through October, a billion-dollar publicly traded firm, MicroStrategy, added over 40,000 Bitcoin for $475 million into its Treasury coffers. Less than three months later, Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy’s CEO, announced a doubled down bet on BTC selling $635 million of senior convertible notes to purchase the ‘digital gold.’

The huge bet paid off wonderfully across Q4 2020 for MicroStrategy’s stock (MSTR), which reached a 20-year high after the firm recorded over 50% profit on its BTC Treasury reserves. Despite CITI Bank downgrading its stock from “neutral” to “sell” in their latest report (due to “disproportionate focus on BTC), the firm looks to add even more, Saylor confirmed.

Additionally, Square Inc., founded by Twitter CEO and Bitcoin enthusiast Jack Dorsey, introduced BTC buying and selling through Cash App earlier in the year. The payments firm purchased $50 million worth of bitcoin (or 4,709 bitcoins) in October 2020, representing 1% of their Treasury reserve.

Other institutions such as Stone Ridge, Mode Global Holdings PLC, and Tudor Investment Corporation have also announced Bitcoin allocations this year.

So what is causing a sudden increase in corporations adopting Bitcoin-backed Treasury reserves?

Damaged financials, cash flows, and profitability

According to the report, three main issues affect a corporation’s decision to hold BTC in its reserves. First, the global COVID-19 pandemic “damaged corporate balance sheets, cash flows, and profitability,” which put most corporations in a precarious position. The sudden reduction in cash flows raises the importance for these institutions to put away excess cash in uncorrelated investments to fight off the recession.

Bitcoin is well-diversified from the demand shocks that health and economic crises cause on stocks, bonds, and traditional finance markets. The report further states,

“Companies may also benefit from bitcoin’s diversification benefits, potential outperformance, and liquidity profile when the core business and other potential investments are disadvantaged by the state of the economy”.

Moreover, BTC offers companies the potential of a longer-term investment profile while also offering liquidity to shorter-term investors. This will help companies maintain their liquidity while diversifying their investments, providing a buffer in difficult times.

Ultra-low interest rates across the world

Secondly, interest rates across the world reached yearly lows as the pandemic struck to stimulate borrowing. However, while corporations may rejoice in having a cheaper leeway for acquiring debt or refinancing existing debt at lower rates, companies with excess cash reserves may suffer as they cannot find attractive rates, the report explains.

While safe-haven assets like gold and Bitcoin generally do not generate interest yields, having these assets in your portfolio prevents cash-filed companies from avoiding negative or ultra-low interest rates, the report also states.

Inflation strikes

Finally, there has been an increase in monetary and fiscal policies globally, with money printing reaching “unprecedented levels.” McKinsey’s report showed that the top 54 economies contributing to 93% of global GDP made over $10 trillion in stimulus payments in two months – over three times more than the 2008 financial crisis. This unchecked and unbalanced economic stimulus could cause a sudden hike in asset and consumer price inflation leading to corporations having less purchasing power with cash.

Bitcoin offers a verifiable and inelastic monetary supply, which differs from the expansive monetary and fiscal currently being broadcast globally. Some companies view BTC as a wealth preserving asset that could prevent inflation risk and store value.

The entry of MicroStrategy, Home Ridge, Square Inc., and Tudor Investment Corporation signals a start of the institutional investment wave in Bitcoin – and who can predict how far it can go?

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Author: Lujan Odera

G7 Finance Ministers Strongly Support Regulating Digital Currencies

Central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies have “strong support” on the need to regulate digital currencies. The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement after a virtual meeting of the officials on Monday. Steven Mnuchin, the current US Treasury Secretary, tweeted,

“Productive #G7 call this morning. We discussed the effective actions in response to COVID19, strategies to achieve a robust recovery, and cryptocurrencies.”

The official discussed domestic and international responses to achieve a robust global recovery along with the responses to the “evolving landscape of crypto assets and other digital assets and national authorities’ work to prevent their use for malign purposes and illicit activities,” the statement reads.

Facebook’s stablecoin Diem (renamed from Libra just last week), in a statement after the video conference, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said it would take more than renaming the cryptocurrency to address regulators’ concerns regarding its launch in Germany and Europe. He added,

“A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.”

“It is clear to me that Germany and Europe cannot and will not accept its entry into the market while the regulatory risks are not adequately addressed.”

“We must do everything possible to make sure the currency monopoly remains in the hands of states.”

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Author: AnTy

Korea’s National Assembly Suggests Delaying Income Tax Rule on Crypto Assets to Jan 2022

South Korean lawmakers have allegedly proposed to delay the upcoming income tax rule on crypto-assets by three months from its scheduled commencement date in October 2021. According to the Dong-a Ilbo, a South Korean media which first reported this news, the law might come into effect later in January 2022.

The report notes that South Korea’s National Assembly, led by its planning and finance committee, recently tabled a report to suggest this law’s delay. This is because local crypto exchanges have asked for more time to develop proper tax infrastructures to meet the reporting requirements.

Through the Ministry of Economic and Finance, South Korea’s government made amendments to its tax code back in July. The new framework, which is yet to be approved by the National Assembly, proposed a 20% capital gains tax on crypto trading activity for income above 2.5 million Won ($2000).

As earlier reported by BEG, the suggested South Korea tax code details how transacting parties will annually report their taxes. It outlines that tax payments associated with crypto assets will be paid in May, per the ‘Taxation on Virtual Asset Transaction Income’ section on the new tax code.

Notably, the proposed tax on virtual assets is applied to both residents and non-residents that leverage South Korea-based crypto exchanges for their digital asset activity. With the commencement dates pushed back, the planning and finance committee is expected to update in the coming days.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Bitcoin Shortage is Real; PayPal & Cash App Buying More Than 100% of All Newly-Issued BTC

Ever since the Bitcoin halving on May 11, a mere 900 BTC have been generated every day, half of what has been mined before that day.

At the time, BTC price was around $8,500, and legendary investor Paul Tudor Jones had just come out with his Bitcoin bull thesis calling it the fastest horse as an inflation hedge.

While Square’s Cash App and Grayscale have been all in Bitcoin’s business, eating up more than half of the bitcoin supply, things were relatively very smooth.

Now, nearly seven months following the halving, BTC’s price has increased 10x, currently trading around $18,500.

This jump in price in the backdrop of zero and sub-zero interest rates, money printing by the central banks, and their ever-expanding balance sheets has captured the interest of companies like MicroStrategy and Square, celebrities like Maisie Williams and rapper Logic, high-profile investors like Stan Druckenmiller, Bill Miller, JPMorgan and BlackRock changing their tunes on BTC – seeing it replacing gold.

“All the big hitters in the hedge fund world are coming out to endorse bitcoin now; it is entering the realm of the mainstream,” said Pendal’s head of fixed income, Vimal Gor.

According to him, “ultimately, the government bonds will turn into a “dead asset class,” and cryptos have a part to play there. He added,

“We have so many clients asking us about bitcoin and what to do and how to get access. Large institutions have stayed away so far, but high-net-worth clients and wholesale investors are leading the charge.”

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On top of this, PayPal launched its new service enabling its customers to buy, sell, and hold cryptos directly from their PayPal accounts.

With 300 million active users, PayPal offers great potential in crypto adoption. PayPal, Cash App, and Robinhood provide millions of people instant access to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital assets.

Already, in less than a month, the volume has exploded on PayPal’s crypto infrastructure provider Paxos.

itBit, the Paxos-run exchange, was doing a fairly constant amount of trading volume up until PayPal got involved.

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“PayPal is already buying almost 70% of the new supply of bitcoins. PayPal and Cash App are already buying more than 100% of all newly-issued bitcoins,” noted Pantera Capital in its latest blockchain letter.

If the growth continues, within weeks, PayPal will be buying more than all the newly-issued bitcoin. And this is just PayPal.

While demand continues to increase, this supply shortage will push the price of BTC higher, as we have seen in this quarter. Dan Morehead, CEO of Pantera Capital, said,

“When other, larger financial institutions follow their lead, the supply scarcity will become even more imbalanced. The only way supply and demand equilibrates is at a higher price.”

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Author: AnTy