Goldman Sachs Joins Blockchain Infrastructure Company’s $28 Million Funding Round

Goldman Sachs Joins Blockchain Infrastructure Company’s $28 Million Funding Round

Blockdaemon has been acquiring many institutional clients who are starting to allow their customers to buy Bitcoin and Ether before branching out to protocols that pay interest on tokens.

Blockdaemon has raised $28 million from lead investor Greenspring Associates along with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

BlockFi, Warburg Serres, Uphold, and Voyager Digital Ltd., were other investors in the Series A fund-raising, as per the company statement.

The firm that creates and hosts the computer nodes for the blockchain network is planning to make acquisitions and double its headcount to 100. With the latest funding, the company aims to “help institutions quickly and securely scale blockchain infrastructure.”

Over the past year, the company has seen rapid growth and gained customers, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, PayPal Holdings, Robinhood Markets, and E*Trade.

“We’re selling ten times what we did a year ago, mostly to new institutions coming into the space,” said Chief Executive Officer Konstantin Richter.

In the first quarter of 2021, Blockdaemon reported a net income of $18 million and revenue at about $24 million.

Goldman Sachs, which led the $15 million investment into data provider Coin Metrics, contributed $5 million to the Blockdaemon round. “It’s been a long dialogue with them,” Ritcher said.

The CEO further shared in an interview that he’s been seeing a progression among large financial firms that starts with them allowing their customers to buy Bitcoin and Ether before branching out to protocols that pay interest on tokens to secure the network.

“Large institutions are getting serious about paying yield on tokens out to their customers,” he said. “It shows that large financial institutions over time will want to rival Coinbase” by copying its model of easier ways to buy and earn interest on various digital coins.

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Author: AnTy

Soros Fund Investing in Crypto Infrastructure Says CEO; Bitcoin Is Taking Gold’s ‘Firebase Away’

Soros Fund Investing in Crypto Infrastructure Says CEO; Bitcoin Is Taking Gold’s ‘Firebase Away’

In her “mysterious response,” Dawn Fitzpatrick refused to answer if she owns any BTC.

Soros Fund Management Chief Investment Officer Dawn Fitzpatrick revealed that the fund is making investments in the cryptocurrency industry as it sees an “inflection point” for Bitcoin and other crypto-assets.

In an interview with Bloomberg, when asked if she owns any Bitcoin, Fitzpatrick replied with a “mysterious” – “I’m not gonna answer that.”

While she didn’t reveal her personal Bitcoin holdings, she talked about her views on the cryptocurrency industry.

“We think the whole infrastructure around crypto is really interesting. We’ve been making some investments into that infrastructure, and we think that is at an inflection point. I’d say it’s everything from kind of exchange asset managers custodians to the mundane like tax reporting on your crypto gains and everything in between. We think that’s interesting.”

She further discussed how the Federal Reserve’s money printing is the factor behind Bitcoin’s success.

“We’re at a really important moment in time in that something like Bitcoin might have stayed a fringe asset. But for the fact that over the last twelve months, we’ve increased money supply in the US by 25 percent. So there is a real fear of debasing of fiat currencies.”

According to her, Bitcoin is not a currency but a commodity that’s easily storable and transferable. The IRS also classifies it as a physical asset that has a finite amount of supply. The fact that Bitcoin’s limited supply halves every four years is “interesting” to her.

“By the way when you look at gold price action in the context of a fairly robust inflation narrative of late, it’s struggled getting traction. I think that’s because Bitcoin is taking some of its firebase away.”

Regarding the central bank launching their own digital currencies (CBDC), Fitzpatrick said they are going to be here and even “quicker than people expect.” China is currently leading the race for CBDC as it has already run several digital yuan trials for a while now.

“There are some strategic reasons why they are going to be a first mover. And I do think from a geopolitical perspective; they want to use that digital currency too. They want that to be used around the world. And it is a potential threat to other bitcoin and crypto.”

While she thinks CBDCs are a “real threat” to crypto, it will only be “temporary,” as they won’t be successful in “permanently destabilizing Bitcoin,” she said.

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Author: AnTy

IDEX to Roll Out Multi-Chain Solution; Starting With Polkadot & Binance Smart Chain

  • IDEX, a popular decentralized exchange (DEX), plans to expand its infrastructure into two extra blockchains, adding its Ethereum (ETH) implementation.

In an announcement shared with BEG, IDEX confirmed a multi-chain solution expansion program that will integrate the decentralized exchange’s infrastructure to Polkadot and Binance Smart Chain (BSC). The latest move aims to expand the possibilities of traders on the platform to tokens, staking programs, and swaps across the blockchains.

IDEX is a layer-2 blockchain solution that combines the non-custodial security of a decentralized exchange while offering a centralized exchange speed and convenience. IDEX runs all of its operations on the Ethereum blockchain and plans to give every IDEX token holder on the ETH blockchain a similar number of tokens on the newly expanded chains.

As Ethereum faces huge gas costs and scalability issues with the rise of the DeFi market, new smart contract platforms such as Polkadot are coming up to offer users faster and cheaper platforms for developers to build their DeFi apps. In a statement on the expansion program, IDEX CEO Alex Wearn stated the expansion program aims to “give customers new networks to complete trades.”

Ethereum is facing tough competition from other blockchains, even in light of the ETH 2.0 Beacon chain launch, expected next week. However, we are stated that the latest move by IDEX to Polkadot and Binance Smart Chain is a diversification tactic rather than a competitive stance as the DEX aims to “put a stake in the ground and plant our [IDEX] flag early.”

The implementation of IDEX will happen on Polkadot Layer 0, meaning that the exchange will connect to a parallel chain (parachain) to Polkadot’s blockchain. IDEX will be integrated on Binance Smart Chain Layer 1, enabling traders to tap into BSC’s centralized DEX ecosystem directly.

The new tokens will be distributed to IDEX users on Ethereum starting December 7, trading on BSC and Polkadot, expected to start in Q1 2021. Tokens that are not claimed promptly will be transferred to a community fund for uses promoting the development of IDEX.

Wearn further stated the decentralized exchange is working on adding new blockchains in the future but is currently working with Polkadot and BSC because both are currently compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). He further said,

“As these platforms grow, we’ll see increased demand for trading these assets and a need for non-custodial trading solutions that support these networks.”

To enhance the cross-chain network that will provide a one-stop-shop allowing different assets to be traded on its platform, IDEX will offer independent assets across each blockchain. Binance Smart Chain and Polkadot will start with the tickers IDXB and IDXP, respectively.

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Author: Lujan Odera

‘Large-Scale’ Crypto Exit Scams Detected in Estonia’s E-Residency Program

Estonia had granted foreigners remote access to its digital infrastructure through its e-residency program, which is now linked to cryptocurrency frauds abroad.

Amidst Europe working on improving its anti-money laundering rules, with EU banking watchdog calling for a single set of regulations after going through several related scandals, companies headed by Estonian e-residents have been involved in “a few large-scale exit scams,” where clients are unable to withdraw their assets.

The police’s Finance Intelligence Unit form last week said these companies that are registered overseas are also linked to organizing “suspicious initial coin offerings and the misappropriation of large sums within them.”

The Baltic nation’s reputation recently got a hit after seeing Europe’s biggest scandal with Danske Bank accused of funneling $230 billion in illicit funds through the Estonian branch.

Estonia, which has a 1.2 million population, has also been seeing the issuance of digital IDs, a program that started in 2014, to e-residents down from the 2018 peak, having already issued 70,000 from 174 countries.

In June this year, the nation also canceled the licenses of 500 crypto firms, 30% of the total, as part of the clampdown on illicit financial flows.

Still, a new set of frauds have been detected. Officials had warned earlier that the e-residency program, allowing non-residents to run businesses from abroad, needed changes to avoid criminal abuse and improve its security.

Police have also moved to curb down on companies that exchange and help clients hold digital currencies.

The e-residency team is currently working “hand in hand” with the police and the FIU. “The survey doesn’t show that all fraudsters have been e-residents, but that there have also been e-residents among fraudsters,” said its head Ott Vatter.

According to the police, a “considerable connection” with e-residents is raising the risk of reputational damage in the crypto sector of Estonia, where about a third of companies, 554, providing crypto services have at least one e-resident as a related party.

Compared to 1,234 companies with cryptocurrency licenses at the end of last year in the country, as of August, there were only 353.

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Author: AnTy

Bison Trails Launches Validator Support For Smart Contract Platform, NEAR Protocol

In an announcement released on June 9, 2020, Bison Trails, an infrastructure as a service platform, announced the addition of NEAR Protocol validator support. As a member of the NEAR Protocol Advisory board, Bison Trails aims at easing the transition of NEAR protocol nodes through the integration of its Proof of Authority (PoA) consensus mechanism and the “Restricted Mainnet” scheduled to launch next quarter.

CEO at Bison Trails, Joe Lallouz, statement on the NEAR Protocol integration acquired by BEG reads,

“We are excited to support the NEAR team as they launch the protocol. I’ve been following the team at NEAR for some time now and am blown away by their focus on the developer experience.

NEAR’s incredible technical team understands building a strong developer ecosystem will help drive success.”

Bison Trails Supports NEAR Protocol Validators

The NEAR Protocol is a proof of stake (PoS) decentralized app that enables the management of high-value assets to give the power of open finance and open web to the user. The system employs a PoA consensus mechanism that delegates the power to approve and verify transactions to validators.

Anyone can become a validator on NEAR Protocol but for those who do not wish to be one, Bison Trails offers its platform to run the node on the users’ behalf.

According to the statement, any participant who runs their nodes on the Restricted Mainnet will be awarded a stipend while the validators “warded special voting rights.” It reads,

“The voting power of these validators will be magnified in the community stage by having the additional delegated tokens on the validator.”

NEAR Protocol also adopts dynamic sharding, which means the number of shards changes in response to usage demands, scaling up and down, in a bid to increase scalability on the platform. The system is yet to be built on to the platform but Bison Trails stated they will be supporting the NEAR’s sharding – as it also helps in Bison’s scalability.

Future of NEAR Protocol

Bison Trails and NEAR Protocol have worked together since March 2019, when the latter become the first company to launch NEAR’s testnet. The co-founder of NEAR Protocol, Illia Polosukhin, believes Bison Trails will provide mentoring and further development on their validator program in the future. On the partnership between the two blockchain firms, Illia said,

“Bison Trails has been at the forefront of what is now considered the professional validator industry, making participation in blockchain networks more accessible and helping to provide more high-quality operators to the network.”

NEAR Foundation, the development lead on the platform, in May announced a $21.8 Million funding led by VC firm, a16z, in its plan to launch the mainnet. Illia said the company will be moving into layers 1, 2, and 3 in the summer of 2020 in preparation for the Restricted mainnet.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitfarms Forced to Lay Off Staff, Cuts Expenses, and Optimize Crypto Mining Due to COVID-19

Canada-based and publicly listed blockchain infrastructure and mining company Bitfarms is at the moment reducing staff as a result of the economic and social effects brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

In an update from April 6, Bitfarms informed that it managed to maintain the average hashrate of about 750 PH per day since March 19, all because it optimized operations for its computing power to be maximized. According to the firm, this was very helpful as far as generating a positive cash flow during the current difficult times when crypto and traditional markets are in chaos.

Being in Line with Government Guidance

Bitfarms also mentioned that it remains viable in this crisis by temporary cutting staff so that it’s in line with government guidance. It aims to fight the coronavirus’s spread, but it didn’t provide any details on what arrangements it made with the workers being let go. In the same update, the firm talks about what it intends to do in order to reduce administrative costs and save as much as 20 to 25%. Here’s how Bitfarms’ chief financial officer, John Rim, commented the situation:

“Seeking cost efficiencies is consistent with our business model and thesis that efficient miners like Bitfarms will be best positioned to be able to withstand short-term volatility in mining economics and remain profitable through the long-term, including potential challenges relating to the upcoming Bitcoin halving.”

What’s Happening with Other Firms?

Recent reports say that there some mining firms are trying hard to overcome the market volatility brought by the coronavirus until now. However, earlier in March, Argo Blockchain, the mining firm listed on the London Stock Exchange, mined the most Bitcoin (BTC) ever in its own records. It also said operations at its sites in North America haven’t in any way been affected by the pandemic.

The Bitcoin halving from May this year is also mentioned in the update published by Bitfarms. The adjustment that will reduce by 50% mining rewards is going to be very challenging in terms of profits for the mining sector all over the world. Some other mining firms that have laid off staff because of the coronavirus are Bitcoin.com and Galaxy Digital. The former let go of 15% of its workforce globally, whereas the latter of 10%.

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Author: Oana Ularu

CertiK Crypto Security Project Set to Launch Beta for Smart Contracts Certik Chain

The organization developing blockchain security infrastructure CertiK Foundation is preparing to launch its beta CertiK Chain.

CertiK Foundation wants to launch next week the Testnet 3.0 for CertiK Chain, which will make it possible for smart contracts to check the other contracts’ security audits before making a transaction. The CertiK Virtual Machine (CVM) is fully compatible with Ethereum’s EVM. EVM allows the seamless running of Solidity smart contracts. Developed on the Cosmos Network, CertiK Chain will have Solidity Smart contracts running in the Cosmos Network.

Scaling and Block Validation Handled More Efficiently

With the initiative of releasing the open beta to the public, CertiK wants to make block validation and scaling more efficient. Certik Chain is going to be compatible with many applications, including the ones for staking and decentralized finance. The company also said a user can look for on-chain evidence on security audit before sending cryptocurrency to be locked in any staking contract. According to the results, the user can choose to send smaller batches of cryptocurrency. This is what CertiK had to say:

“Ultimately, if blockchain becomes as disruptive as people expect, with smart contracts (such as DAOs) interacting with other smart contracts, then the ability to verify security on-chain would help prevent malicious interactions. Other features of the CertiK Chain includes a sandboxing of smart contracts so that they can deploy in a simulated environment for dynamic testing, which would be useful for both deploying new contracts and implementing upgrades of existing contracts.”

More Security Features to be Released

In the releases following the launch, CertiK wants to include other security features meant to prevent a malicious interaction with the blockchain. Certik Chain is going to operate on the certified CertiKOS hypervisor and kernel, enabling the CVM to run any smart contract that has been developed in the DeepSEA programming language.

Native CertiK Chain Launched Earlier in Julu

The CertiK Foundation has launched the native CertiK Chain earlier this year, in late July, after Binance Labs made an investment in 2018. During that time, the organization said smart contracts can be developed with the same DeepSEA programming language because it is the most secure when it comes to the code. Ethereum Foundation has funded DeepSEA in March this year, not to mention Qtum also provided $400,000 in funds for it in December last year.

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Author: Oana Ularu