Russia’s Largest State-Owned Bank Introduces Country’s First Crypto and Blockchain ETF

Sberbank, the largest and state-owned Russian bank, has introduced the country’s first exchange-traded fund (ETF) to offer exposure to companies involved in the blockchain industry.

The fund launched by the bank is called Sberbank Blockchain Economy ETF that trades on the Russian stock market under the ticker “SBBE,” Sber Asset Management said in a statement.

The new ETF aims to track the Sber Blockchain Economy Index and provide its investors’ exposure to crypto trading firms, including publicly listed crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN), crypto asset management firm Galaxy Digital, and Digindex, a blockchain software provider.

Besides these firms, the index also covers crypto and mining companies and firms providing consulting services in the industry.

“There are hardly any people left who have never heard of blockchain,” said Evgeny Zaitsev, General Director of Sberbank Asset Management, noting that direct investments in crypto-assets are associated with high risks; as such, they propose to invest in companies that are involved in the development of blockchain technologies than in crypto assets.

The ETF will give its investors exposure to the “blockchain economy without the difficulties associated with the direct development, purchase, storage, and sale of digital assets,” the company said in a press release.

Meanwhile, Russia’s central bank has been vocal about its stance against crypto, with Governor Elvira Nabiullina saying recently that they don’t want people to invest in crypto. Another official called this a “financial pyramid,” saying in no unclear terms that they have a “negative attitude” towards crypto assets.

The central bank also said that it is looking to ban crypto investments in the country, citing their usage in money laundering and terrorism financing. However, more than $5 billion transactions have been conducted in the country annually, said the Central Bank of Russia in its November report.

Like other countries, Russia is also working on a ruble-backed central bank digital currency (CBDC).

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Author: AnTy

ErisX Launches Cash-Settled Contracts to Help Limit Investors Exposure to Market Volatility

The cryptocurrency derivatives platform ErisX has now introduced cash-settled bounded futures to protect against market volatility and enable short positions in the crypto market.

Chief Executive Officer of ErisX Thomas Chippas said the firm wants to encourage traders interested in trading spot Bitcoin. By adding physically settled futures to the platform, traders will protect the futures clearinghouse and futures exchange.

Unlike physically settled contracts, the nature of cash-settled contracts means they do not need Bitcoin delivery. This enables investors to still profit from Bitcoin, even when they don’t have enough to invest heavily.

Chippas reiterated that the only way investors and traders will be drawn to physically traded futures is when exchanges start offering them on margin. He further revealed that ErisX has reached out to the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to enable the exchange to provide margined accounts for physically settled futures.

Meanwhile, the launch of cash-settled bounded futures, according to Chippas, will offer both lower and upper bonds on losses and gains, which protects investors from high volatility in the market.

Since 2017, exchanges have been offering cash-settled futures in the U.S. Cboe, and CME rolled out their products the same year, although the former stopped offering Bitcoin futures last year.

Traders can gain more crypto exposure through the platform.

ErisX gained approval from CFTC to offer additional trading services on its platform.

There is a minimum potential risk of trading cash-settled contracts, and it requires less collateral than other contracts.

Bounded Futures also protect holders against volatility in the market, as it enables short positions in the market. Traders can quickly cash out in the market when they discover that the trade is going against them.

The contracts are entered and settled in cash, enabling customers to gain more crypto exposure, even those who may have restricted access in the market.

He added that the bounded funds would offer traders the chance to profit even from a volatile market by allowing cost-efficient strategies. As a result, they manage their risks effectively and still reap good rewards from their investments.

“These contracts are one initiative among many that we have been working on to simplify access to the crypto markets,” Chippas said, pointing out that the goal of the exchange is to make trading simpler for traders.

Offering lesser trading risks

Another interesting feature is the bringing of all options on a single platform for traders. As it stands, ErisX offers traders the right access to crypto markets while maintaining performance and security. It’s currently the only US-based exchange that allows customers to trade regulated and spot futures on a single platform.

The exchange also has a reward or bonus policy where new clients are rewarded with a $50 token for their next transaction after completing signup and making their first transaction.

The exchange says it’s in the company’s goal and interest to continue offering maximum security and protection of traders’ funds even as they take advantage of the market volatility.

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Author: Ali Raza

Bitstamp Rolls Out New Crime Insurance Policy to Protect Crypto Held on the Exchange

Bitstamp, one of the leading crypto exchanges based in Europe, has introduced a new insurance policy against online crypto thefts and other crimes for digital assets held online.

The insurance policy comes in the wake of several exchange hacks leading to the theft of millions worth of digital assets. Most of these exchanges fail to ensure the proper refurbishment for the loss incurred by the exchange users. Thus, this insurance policy initiative by the Bitstamp exchange could prove to be a great attraction for customers.

Paragon International Insurance Brokers would offer Bitstamp’s new insurance policy in association with Woodruff-Sawyer. The insurance policy would be applicable for several digital assets like bitcoin and other similar crypto-assets.

The policy would cover several crimes such as online theft, hack, employee theft, loss of assets while under the custody of the exchange, loss in transit, loss caused by computer fraud, and losses related to legal fees and expenses.

Bitstamp revealed that 98% of all the digital assets under its custody are held offline and are protected and covered by the crypto custodian BitGo. Thus, the current insurance policy would focus on assets held online, even though it meant covering both online and offline.

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Author: James W

Coinbase Launches Staking Program For Cosmos, ATOM Holders Can Earn 5%

In a blog post released on Wednesday, Coinbase introduced staking on ATOM, promising up to 5% return per annum on the value staked. The Cosmos Staking Reward will be available to select customers across 48 states in the U.S and across Europe, including the U.K., Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and France.

This is an automatic process generated by Coinbase. Users only need to deposit ATOM or buy the tokens directly on the exchange to start earning rewards. At launch, ATOM rewards will be distributed every seven days – Tezos (XTZ) rewards are distributed every three days.

‘Coinbase is always looking for ways to enable easy and secure participation in the crypto-economy,” the statement reads.

Cosmos is a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain that allows users to “stake” their tokens to participate in the governance of the network and receive rewards in the process. The blockchain provides interoperability across blockchain and their native tokens.

A spokesperson from Coinbase to The Block states ATOM staking will charge a commission of 25% is lower than that of XTZ. The latter offers a 15% annual return being the only staking platform on the exchange before ATOM joined. Since launching in Q4 2019, Tezos holders have received more than $2 million in rewards from Coinbase.

Coinbase stated they would be adding more tokens to its staking program in the future.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Cream Finance Announces AMM, creamY, with Several Innovations that ‘Make it Stand Out’

Cream Finance has introduced an automated market maker (AMM) which focuses on low slippage and fees of stablecoins.

Combining Curve’s very low cost and very high-efficiency feature and Balancer’s updatable for addition or removal of an asset from the pool — unlike Uniswap or Curve pool, which are immutable — creamY has created a “dynamically updateable AMM which consolidates liquidity.”

Besides being dynamic and capital-efficient, this AMM allows users to hold or transact with yielding and provide liquidity using one token.

According to yEarn Finance’s Andre Cronje, who partook in the discussion of the project, the design of creamY. it “can alleviate a lot of the current liquidity pain-points.”

Coming up with innovations such as consolidated liquidity, a mixture of a shared order book, a governed liquidity pool, and allowing single-sided liquidity is what makes it “stand out,” said Cronje.

Right from the launch, It will support exchanges for stablecoins, BTC, and ETH.

It will be supporting cryUSD including USDT, USDC, TUSD, BUSD, yCRV, yyCRV, yUSDT, yUSDC, yTUSD, cUSDT, cUSDC, crUSDT, crUSDC, and crBUSD; cryBTC covering wBTC/renBTC/tBTC/crRENBTC/cWBTC/ycrvRenWSBTC, and cryETH inclusive of WETH/yETH/crETH/cETH.

Although the code of the protocol has been reviewed by several developers and is currently in the final stages of it, like all the DeFi projects, it hasn’t been through production testing yet.

According to the official announcement, creamY will launch with “strong incentive rewards” in CREAM tokens form, which will be escrowed until the end of the LP period.

For now, the CREAM token of the lending protocol with a TVL of $241 million, is trading at $118, up 2.63% since Sunday in line with the broad market.

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Author: AnTy

BTCPay Server Update Streamlines Refund Process; Adds Notification for Payment Status

The open-source bitcoin payment server BTCPay Server introduced a new system update called Update 1.0.5 on Friday. The updated aim is to ease the interaction between the server and the merchant. This update would make it easier for the merchants to manage their crypto transactions on their website.

The latest update brings a set of new features, including notifications, pull payment, and refunds, along with a few upgrades to the wallet. The BTCPay Server was launched back in 2017 and helped merchants in processing their bitcoin transactions. It also kept all the invoices organized for the owner. The server also has a native wallet that can be used to store bitcoins.

The most talked-about feature of the update is the refund, which streamlines the otherwise quite cluttered process of re-issuing of coins. The update feature would allow merchants to decide a certain amount of bitcoin that can be pulled from the escrow. Before the update, merchants had to manually authorize the payment, where the sender and receiver had no common platform to connect onto, which made the process complex and challenging.

With the new update, merchants won’t have to send and receive numerous messages as the process is automated, where the refund is generated via invoices without the need for any formal communication between the two parties.

The other notable feature is notifications, which comes with an API integration option and allows merchants to monitor their payment status, whether it is confirmed or not. It would also include the status of partial payment and many other similar payments related notifications. All of these will be managed through a dedicated notification page.

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Author: James W

XRP Ledger Feature ‘Checks’ Goes Live; Works Similar to a Traditional Paper Check

XRP Ledger has introduced the traditional finance feature of checks starting from June 18th after getting the approval of the validators. The firm claimed that the feature was introduced with ripple v0.90.0. However, it failed to get the required support of node validators to be active at that time.

However, Wietse Wind, a popular XRP contributor, claimed that this amendment was implemented without getting the approval from Ripple-associated validators.

For this amendment to be passed and remain active, at least 80% of the node validators must approve it, and as long as this amendment enjoys majority support, it would be available on the XRP ledger.

What Would be the Use of Checks on XRP Ledger?

The ‘checks‘ feature on XRP Ledger would function quite similar to that of traditional tests where anyone can use them to transfer a certain amount of XRP to a particular person. The holder of the check can then cash the mentioned amount.

The developer also explained that the real transfer of value only occurs once the check is cashed out, so in case the sender of the check does not have the specified XRP in their wallet, then the check would “bounce.”

Until the recipient cashes out, the XRP remains in the sender’s wallet. The official announcement made by the XRP also mentioned that the XRP community does not require to download any update to avail the new Check feature as the minimum requirement for the XRP ledger to support this function as it is already synced with the network.

XRP, as a cryptocurrency token, hasn’t seen any progress in terms of price, failing to get past the psychological barrier of $0.30 ever since the bear market of 2018 and recently also lost its third-position in crypto rankings by CoinMarketCap to Tether’s Stablecoin. However, it has continued to support Ripple’s remittance technology and offers liquidity for the RippleNet.

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Author: James W

Crypto Derivatives Platform, Delta Exchange, Rolls Out BNB and LINK Options Trading

  • Crypto exchange Delta has introduced options trading for the Binance Coin and Chainlink’s LINK.
  • The CEO has revealed that this was due to demand from the traders denoting that the two were the most active digital assets on their platform.

Singapore-based crypto derivatives platform Delta Exchange has now launched trading options for the Binance coin (BNB) and LINK, a brainchild of enterprise oracle solutions Chainlink. The June 19th announcement highlighted that the BNB and LINK would be corresponding to contracts they have with Tezos (XTZ), Atomic Coin (ATOM), XRP, and Litecoin (LTC).

According to the CEO, Pankaj Balani has insisted that they released the products due to demand from traders. He remarked at the popularity of the two altcoins on their exchange.

“A lot of inbound interest from traders”

The crypto derivatives platform has been offering Bitcoin and Ethereum options for a while now wrapped in lucrative contracts dubbed Move. Unlike legacy contracts that extend traders the option to acquire or trade at a specified price, the move contracts enable the traders to focus specifically on the volatility of the crypto asset.

“When trading these contracts, a trader is betting on the absolute value of the price movement of a coin rather than the coin going up or down”

This was likened by the CEO in combining the call and put options into one. This way, the amateur traders would be awarded an extra edge due to its simplicity—the Move contracts currently attracting a 0.05% transactional fee. According to the executive, the contracts have recorded at least $4 Million and $2 Million daily for the BTC and ETH move contracts, respectively.

BTC Options Popular choice for Crypto Derivative Platforms

Similarly, other crypto exchanges have jumped at the opportunity of offering options trading for an array of crypto assets with OKEX, Binance, and FTX, all unleashing parallel products. Notably, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has experienced exponential upsurge (20x) since the introduction of the CME BTC options making up for nearly 25% of the global IO on BTC options surpassing OKEx and LedgerX markets.

With CME, bitcoin options open interest soared from $13 million to an all-time high recorded this June 10th of close to $373 million.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Huobi Wallet Users Can Now Buy Cryptocurrency Using Credit Card Via Simplex Integration

Huobi’s newly introduced native wallet is all set to allow users to purchase cryptocurrencies using credit and debit card via Simplex.

Earlier, the wallet only allowed users to buy or sell crypto without any fiat support. But the latest addition of credit and debit card buying support will surely help in attracting more customers to the wallet. The wallet also allowed access to decentralized lending platforms.

Huobi Wallet is one of the major players in the Asia Pacific region, with over half a million users from around 200 countries. The wallet currently offers 18 cryptocurrencies with an array of services and support including the latest crypto/debit card purchase option.

Huobi wallet CEO, Will Huang, claimed that the addition of credit and debit card purchase option would make the wallet more feasible and accessible to a larger population and would offer all basic needs of a crypto user. He explained further,

“[The app] has become a one-stop app for users to buy, store, swap and transfer crypto on the go, while retaining complete control of their assets.”

The addition of credit and debit card purchasing would be supported by Simplex, a payment processing firm which has partnered with various other crypto platforms to make their on-chain and ecosystem-based payment processing seamless.

Prior to its partnership with Huobi, Simplex also made headlines for helping fiat onramp for Matrixpoint which is a Bitmain affiliated financial service provider.

Simplex also helped Celsius to integrate fiat onramp onto its platform in early 2020 and similarly, Binance also started using Simplex’s payment solution to add 15 Fiat gateways in February.

While fiat integration was largely avoided by many crypto service providers earlier primarily due to the regulatory scrutiny and uncertainty, a lot has changed in recent times where major governments have started to regulate crypto trading, which has made it convenient for exchanges to allow fiat on-ramp, thus payment processing solution providers such as Simplex are in great demand as well.

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Author: Silvia A

Facebook Calibra Wallet Devs Reveal Distributed Auditing Proofs of Liabilities (DAPOL)

  • Facebook has recently introduced a new audit protocol on its Calibra wallet app for auditing of its assets.
  • In a bid to improve the already existing distributed audit process, Calibra’s research team brought forward the Distributed Auditing Proofs of Liabilities (DAPOL) onto the platform.

Dating back to April 2014, the cryptocurrency world witnessed one of its biggest heists when a hacker managed to illegally transfer a large number of Bitcoins to himself. This was after allegedly getting hold of an Mt. Gox auditor’s credentials. In April 2014 Mt. Gox announced that Bitcoins, worth $450 million, had been stolen from customers. This ultimately led to the company’s liquidation. The company, however, would have survived had it adopted a legit protocol for asset auditing.

Calibra team leader and blockchain engineer Konstantinos Chalkias recently told the public that DAPOL protocol was setting a platform to improve on the already existing auditing methods. Most importantly to enhance privacy. The protocol allows a distributed audit of liabilities to be undertaken on entities.

DAPOL’S Main Advantage Over The Old Auditing Techniques

Arguably the main advantage brought to the table by DAPOL is its enhanced privacy, where a third party is combined together with a decentralized audit. This typically means that during an audit, all accounts are focused on and none is overlooked. In his statement, Konstantinos Chalkias explained that in the Distributed Auditing Proofs of Liabilities (DAPOL), it does not expose the number of people who verify their inclusion in the totals. He said,

“The Distributed Auditing Proofs of Liabilities (DAPOL) are schemes designed to let companies that accept a) monetary deposits from consumers (i.e., custodial wallets, blockchain exchanges, banks, gambling industry etc.) or b) fungible obligations and report claims from users (i.e., fake news and hate speech reporting, disapproval voting etc.) to prove their total amount of liabilities or obligations without compromising the privacy of both users’ identity and individual amounts.”

He gave an example of the Enron corporation scandal case which ran bankrupt and collapsed some years back after the company in an attempt to cover up its illegal dealings paid an auditor Arthur Andersen to tamper with the information. He added that the corporation’s downfall would have been avoided had it adopted a more private and transparent auditing process.

Full Transparency For Everyone

DAPOL has proved to be an improvement from old distributed auditing processes in that it comes with new features. One of the features is that it allows everyone to take part in processes like proof verification and offers a more sophisticated validation tool than was not offered before. Calibra’s team is not fully sure but is quite optimistic that DAPOL can be integrated onto Facebook’s Libra project to have an impact on such domains as economic data, crypto blockchain wallets, and public health.

The team is open to inviting any player that shares the same development enthusiasm on DAPOL’S project as them. This is after they released their plans to make the code open-source soon. It is their hope that with time this new DAPOL distributed audit process will be adopted widely by crypto firms globally.

“The backbone of this proposal is based on the enhanced Maxwell’s Merkle-tree construction and is extended using balance splitting tricks, efficient padding, verifiable random functions, deterministic key derivation functions, and the range proof techniques from Provisions and ZeroLedge solvency protocols, respectively.

Because Bulletproofs, Gro16, Ligero, Plonk, Halo and other efficient zkSNARK or zkSTARK constructions were not available or mature when the above solvency protocols were published, we will assume that any efficient zero knowledge scheme for set membership in summation structures can be a good candidate.”

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Author: Lujan Odera