Crypto ETP Volume Surges in January as Institutions Flood the Market

Data shows that the trading volumes for crypto-denominated ETPs saw a significant surge in January 2021. Institutions also appear to be cutting their losses as the crypto market braces for a more significant pullback.

All eyes are on institutional crypto investors this week again, as it appears that some have been making significant plays to begin the year. In its recent weekly report, market data and metrics provider CryptoCompare has confirmed a spike in the volume of assets under management (AUM) in crypto-denominated exchange-traded products (ETPs).

Promising Numbers Across the Board

Per the report, there has been a staggering 93.7 percent increase in the AUM for crypto ETPs across the board. In nominal terms, crypto ETPs now holds an impressive $36 billion. Aggregate daily volumes also jumped above $1.5 billion, marking healthy institutional participation to kick-off 2021.

CryptoCompare noted that Grayscale Investments makes up a significant chunk of these figures, with its various investment trusts housing $22.6 billion, 63 percent of all capital invested into crypto ETPs. The New York-based asset management firm’s products were also found to have represented 64 percent of the entire industry’s ETP volumes, pushing $972 million in daily trading volumes.

Grayscale’s dominance in the institutional investment space has been nothing short of astonishing. The company, which operates several investment trusts for large-cap cryptos, has been the go-to source for institutions looking to get their bit of the crypto pie. As a result, its AUM has been on the rise for months.

Earlier this week, Danny Scott, the CEO of crypto exchange CoinCorner, confirmed that Grayscale purchased 16,244 BTC ($607 million) in 24 hours. Even with the threat of a liquidity crunch, the company has continued to suck up Bitcoins from the open market at incredible levels.

While Grayscale dominated trading volumes, the company’s products still trailed in the spot markets, as the premiums on its shares fell by 8 percent this month.

As for exchange-traded notes (ETNs), trade volumes almost tripled in January. These were dominated by the BTCE product from ETC Group, which saw nearly $50 million in daily trades.

The second-most traded ETN was the BTCW/USD ETN from WisdomTree, which had $7million in trading volumes, while VanEck’s Bitcoin Vectors saw $5 million in daily trades.

Profit-Taking from Investors

Although the commitments into crypto ETPs have been impressive, institutions are also staying vigilant as Bitcoin’s price begins a significant pullback.

Crypto fund provider CoinShares reported that institutional crypto products had seen $85 million in outflows this past week, asserting that some investors seem to be taking profits following Bitcoin’s bull run over the past month.

CoinShares noted a similar trend in Ether-derived investment products, with $3 million exiting the past week’s market.

Despite the strong profit-taking, institutional inflows are still strong, with $359 million entering crypto investment products this week. CoinShares noted that Bitcoin remains investors’ top prize, with the leading cryptocurrency representing 99 percent of all capital inflows this week.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Blockchain.com to Follow Other Exchanges; Freezing XRP Trading on January 14th

Blockchain.com to Follow Other Exchanges; Freezing XRP Trading on January 14th

Blockchain.com is the latest crypto exchange to halt XRP trading according to an announcement by the firm on January 4. This crypto exchange service provider joins a list of other exchanges that have taken a similar stance since the SEC filed a lawsuit against XRP’s parent company, Ripple.

The statement highlights that Blockchain.com will halt XRP trading within its platform from January 14 at 11:59 pm GMT. It goes on to clarify that XRP traders will retain access to their coins, as well as the ability to send them out, but the exchange will no longer facilitate XRP deposits.

Blockchain.com also made it clear that the action against XRP is a result of the ongoing lawsuit against Ripple, where the SEC claims that it raised $1.3 billion through an unregistered ICO. In essence, the regulator views XRP as an unregistered security.

Ripple’s woes have seen the price of XRP plummet despite the ongoing bull run; in fact, it slid down from 3rd position in market cap to stand at 5th as of press time. Popular exchanges that have already taken action to freeze XRP include Bittrex, Binance U.S, eToro, and Coinbase.

Meanwhile, there is another bandwagon of exchanges that are taking a wait-and-see approach. One of them is Uphold which recently issued its statement clarifying that it will continue to list XRP unless a court decision favors the SEC.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

South Korea Approves Amendment to Push Crypto Tax Rule to January 2022

South Korea is set to enforce its upcoming crypto tax law in January 2022 instead of the earlier proposition of October 2021. This will give crypto stakeholders operating within its jurisdiction one more year to sort out in-house tax reporting infrastructure.

A South Korea local news agency dubbed ‘Yonhap’ reported yesterday that the National Assembly’s Strategy and Finance committee met on Nov 30 and agreed to include the amendment into the recently proposed tax code. Last week, the committee had raised this suggestion, and now it seems that there is consensus on the date of implementation.

This piece of legislation is expected to capture South Korea’s active crypto market in matters tax, an issue that remains complex for most jurisdictions. As we reported earlier, South Korea’s government’s tax code was finalized in July and was awaiting parliament approval.

Some of the pertinent highlights in this tax code are that crypto assets will be considered commodities, attracting a 20% income tax. However, this will only apply to above 2.5 million Korean Won ($2,000).

Other than crypto trading activity, the tax code also captures gains from mining and income attributed to ICO’s. While it is a financial reprieve for the government, some stakeholders believe that smaller players will be forced out given the activity in South Korea’s crypto markets.

Notably, South Korea had already begun intense crypto oversight, especially when it comes to KYC and AML practices by exchanges. The country legalized crypto trading in March this year, requiring that exchanges comply with the real-name trading account stipulations.

Meanwhile, they have taken a ‘watch first’ approach in the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) space, with the digital Won test scheduled for next year. This initiative is currently in its second phase, where stakeholders are being consulted before token distribution rolls out next year.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Former Ripple CTO Jed McCaleb Ready to Sell Another 120 Million XRP ($28.14M)

Ever since hitting its all-time high of $3.84 in January 2018, XRP hasn’t been having a good time. As a matter of fact, it has been only on a decline.

There have been several pumps along its downward journey, but unlike other altcoins, XRP fails to show any momentum.

In 2020, the fourth largest digital asset managed to record 20% losses, but it is among the worst performers, joining the ranks with Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC).

At the time of writing, XRP has been trading at $0.234, managing just $109 million in ‘real’ trading volume.

Amidst this, former Ripple CTO Jed McCaleb continues to dump his XRP on the market regularly. Just yesterday, another 120 million XRP were transferred to his wallet.

Although this doesn’t have much of an impact on the price of XRP, with not much happening with XRP’s price anyway, it just adds to the sell-side.

XRP sees some use!

Ripple’s prominent partner, SBI Holdings, however, continues to keep XRP relevant. In the latest news, SBI Group’s subsidiary, SBI esports, announced that it would be paying player salaries in crypto instead of fiat.

Esports players will drive their salaries in XRP as part of the sponsorship deal with Venture capital firm, VC Trade, to strengthen the company’s presence in the field.

With this deal, the goal is to “create and nurture a healthy market based on customer-centricity, improve prices, and expand liquidity.”

Increase those numbers…

According to Ripple, using sustainable architecture means XRP transactions could grow by more than 1000% by 2025.

Ripple also wrote about how “the digital asset XRP is a staggering 61,000x more energy-efficient than Bitcoin.”

The company has announced that it will achieve a net carbon zero target by 2030 for which it is working with XRP Ledger Foundation, Energy Web, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

The company is also helping in launching and funding the EW Zero open-source to enable any blockchain to decarbonize through the purchase of renewable energy in local markets in partnership with Energy Web Foundation.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Records Biggest Network Difficulty Adjustment of 15% Since January 2018

Today, Bitcoin recorded its biggest upward adjustment of +15% since January 2018. The last two adjustments were lower by -9.29% and -6%, after the halving, as per Coinwarz.

CoinWarz BTC Difficulty Chart
Source: CoinWarz BTC Difficulty Chart

After the halving on May 11th, the hash rate dropped more than 40% and the time to find new blocks jumped to 14 minutes which caused the difficulty to lower.

However, in the first week of June, the hash rate of the bitcoin network started recovering following the downward difficulty adjustment and the block time fell to nearly 7 minutes, as per Bitinfocharts.

Now, with new bitcoin mining machines in the market, China’s rainy season at its peak, and inefficient miners having exit the market, this difficulty adjustment will make it harder to mine bitcoin.

Bitcoin Back into Greens

Price-wise Bitcoin is back in the range.

On Monday, Bitcoin fell amidst a renewal in global risk aversion induced by the growing number of coronavirus cases, with China now working to contain a new outbreak and Chinese economic data disappointing investors.

“The digital currency market is not immune when it comes to flight for cash, as evidenced during the February/March selloff,” said Denis Vinokourov, head of research at Bequant, a London-based digital asset prime broker. “With liquidity sapped away, the unwind resulted in a cascade of exits.”

Yesterday, the digital asset bounced off of the lows on the back of central banks’ dovish tone. And today, we are back to trading above $9,500 with 3.76% gains but with just $1.8 billion in real volume.

According to technical gauges, the short-term bottom has been found at $8,900 with upper support present at $10,000 and is expected to sustain its rally since March.

Investors Busy HODLing

Interestingly, more than 60% of bitcoin’s supply has been inactive for at least 1 year now.

This means crypto investors are not taking profits rather choosing to hold onto their BTC which is up 150% since its March lows in the current uncertain economic scenario.

The last time this much percentage of bitcoin supply was inactive was four years back in 2016.

Meanwhile, “HODL Waves,” where each wave represents the period of time in which a percentage of BTC’s issues supply has been inactive, shows that those holding the coins for more than ten years are up 31% and those holding it for two to three years are also up 26%.

Those holding it for a decade, however, might also include those who have lost their coins.

Bitcoin-UTXO-Age-Distribution-HODL-Waves
Source: Unchained Capital – Bitcoin UTXO Age Distribution

These hodling trends only emphasize investors’ bullish outlook of bitcoin’s future. Also, the smart money moving from weak hands to strong hands as macro trends highlights the value proposition of bitcoin.

Also, “the overall network health remains strong” and the Glassnode compass has solidified its position in the green zone.

Moreover, the bitcoin whale population is growing, now 1882 entities are holding at least 1000 BTC. The last time, this figure was so high was in September 2017 as BTC made its way to $20,000.

Interestingly, the first time these many BTC whales were seen was in March 2016. However, the average balance held by each whale has decreased during the period.

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Author: AnTy

Beam Privacy Cryptocurrency to Undergo Second Hard Fork at Block 777,777 in June 2020

Beam, a privacy centered altcoin which was launched on top of the Bitcoin mainnet on January 3rd, 2019, has announced the date and timeline for its second hard-fork which would be executed on June 28, 2020 on the 777,777th Block of the network. The announcement was made via a blog post,which was published on April 22nd, detailed that the new hard-fork would see the Proof-of-Work based mining consensus change from BeamHash II to BeamHash III.

Some of the major changes that would be implemented with the second hard-fork would include,

  • PoW algorithm will change from BeamHash II to BeamHash III. More details on BeamHash III will be shared closer to the time.
  • Activate support for Confidential Assets
  • Activate support for Lelantus Mimblewimble
  • Activate support for One-Sided Payment

The upgrade to the PoW mining consensus is expected to bring significant improvement to the present mining network and enhance the GPU card capabilities along with it.

The beam would also avail a testnet a few weeks prior to the scheduled hardfork and the launch of the testnet would depend on the block time. The hardfork would only require users to make a software upgrade. The platform is planning to release the node and desktop wallet binaries a month in advance to give necessary amount of time to its users to upgrade to the latest version.

The users would be required to upgrade to the latest version of the wallet called Eager Electron 5.0 prior to the hardfork as the upgrade won’t support the earlier versions and that is one of the key reasons for releasing it a month prior. The firm also assured that the funds will remain safe even if some people forget to upgrade in the given time frame.

The Second Hard-Fork Comes Within a Year of the First One

Beam network’s first hard fork came in August 2019 which also saw major upgrades in the mining consensus software changing from Beam Hash I to Beam Hash II at block 321,321. The first hard fork resulted in the decline of the mining difficulty, which was found because some miners forget to upgrade their software on time.

Beam being a privacy-focused altcoin uses Mimblewimble privacy protocol. Although a research study from Dragonfly Research analyst, Ivan Bogatyy claimed that the protocol in question cannot be seen as an alternative to Monero or Zcash, due to certain privacy breaches in the past, Beam challenged the study claiming their implementation of the protocol was not used in the study.

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Author: James W

Top Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency News And Analysis From January

January 1 Bitcoin completes improbable black-swan decade by posting a 9 million percent gain!

Even 10 months after Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first block of bitcoins, bitcoins had no official value. Then in October 2009, a Bitcointalk forum member named “NewLibertyStandard” devised a method of price evaluation based on the amount of energy required to mine bitcoins, giving rise to the rudimentary bitcoin market website which operated as the first-ever bitcoin exchange.

From trading below $0.001 in July 2010 to trading as high as $19,893 in December 2017, Bitcoin positioned itself as by far the best performing asset of the decade. By comparison, S&P 500 tripled in value and gold value rose just 25%, only marginally above the inflation rate for the decade.

January 3 Bitcoin network celebrates its 11th birthday by setting a new hash rate record.

Growing steadily throughout 2019, the Bitcoin network hashrate set a new record of 120 ex-hashes per second (EH/s) which represents a 186% rise from 42 exahashes per second (EH/s) a year ago. On the development front, Bitcoin Core Github grew from 19,104 commits from 601 unique contributors to 22,536 commits from 678 contributors.

The number of active addresses crossed half a million with a 20% increase from 433,715 to 524,360. Lightning network also witnessed significant growth, with the number of channels increasing 41% from 21,130 to 36,130 and, even more impressively, the number of Lightning network nodes rising 114% from 2,297 nodes to 4,923.

January 4 South Korea refrains from taxing cryptocurrency profits.

Only a month after it was reported that the Ministry of Economy and Finance was seeking to impose capital gains tax on incomes from digital currencies, South Korea’s Ministry of Finance and Strategy made it clear that the current tax law does not consider crypto trading gains as taxable income for the time being due to a lack of legal definition of virtual currencies. The ministry, however, stated that it was looking into amending the laws based on a review of cryptocurrency taxation in other countries,

“The income tax law is only taxable on income listed as taxable. We are preparing a taxation plan for virtual assets by comprehensively reviewing the taxation of major countries, consistency with accounting standards, and trends in international discussions to prevent money laundering.”

January 6 Telegram issues statement regarding its role in the development of Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain.

In a public notice issued on its official website, Telegram noted that it had been careful not to speak publicly on the project while it was working to ensure that it was compliant with all relevant laws and regulations. The statement, intended to dispel misleading rumors, revealed that the TON blockchain will be fully open-source and decentralized with Telegram having no control or involvement with the project after its launch, relying solely on community developers for further development.

Since raising $1.7 billion in early 2018 in a private ICO, Telegram had maintained complete radio silence on the development of the TON blockchain. It wasn’t until October 2019 that Telegram even officially confirmed its involvement in the project.

January 7 IBM launches the blockchain app to allow consumers to trace the origin of their coffee.

Built by the IBM Food Trust with the support of 10 leading organizations in the coffee industry, the app, named “Thank My Farmer” was unveiled by IBM’s food traceability platform Farmer Connect at the 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and is expected to be made available to consumers in the US, Canada, and Europe later this year.

The idea behind the project is to bring traceability, efficiency, fairness, and communication across the coffee supply chain which supports the $200 billion industry. The app will let the coffee consumers learn about the provenance of their coffee and even support the farmer who grew the beans.

January 8 Libra executive dismisses Bitcoin’s merit as a means of payment.

Speaking at the Digital Money Forum at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, vice chairman of the Libra Association Dante Disparte argued that Libra was being unfairly subjected to what he called “a crypto purity test” when permissionless decentralized crypto projects have failed to deliver a payments system capable of scaling and meeting the needs of people in the developing world,

“Bitcoin as an asset class has proven that mathematical scarcity can support an incredibly exciting asset. It’s not a means of payment.

The bottom rung of the ladder of economic mobility is payment access and crypto isn’t cutting it on payments. How do you remove insidious levels of friction that basically make it cost-prohibitive to give people access to payments?”

January 10 Kaspersky report identifies Telegram as a key attack vector for Lazarus hacking group.

The cybercrime group from Pyongyang, designated as an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) and believed to be responsible for various cyberattacks since 2009 has made “significant changes to the group’s attack methodology” according to the report. Taking more careful steps than before and employing multi-stage infection procedures, Kaspersky found that fake cryptocurrency companies with Telegram trading groups were being used to fool victims into downloading a malicious payload.

Once the payload infected the victim’s system, the attackers would gain remote access to control the compromised device to execute the next stages of their attacks. Several cryptocurrency businesses from UK, Poland, Russia, and China were identified as victims of such attacks.

January 13 CME Bitcoin options go live and surpass Bakkt’s reported volume on the first day of trading.

Options on CME bitcoin futures contracts were opened for trading on the CME Globex Trading System with each contract, quoted in US dollars, representing five bitcoins and relying on trade flow data from several of the largest bitcoin exchanges to track the price.

Remarkably, on the first day of trading itself, 55 contracts worth 275 bitcoin or $2.1 million were trading on the Chicago-based derivatives exchange, nearly double the reported cumulative volume of $1.15 million attracted by Bakkt’s bitcoin options which had been trading for over a month since December 9. Trading activity confirmed reports from JPMorgan ahead of the launch that there was greater anticipation for the CME options than Bakkt’s options.

January 14 Craig Wright notifies the court of the arrival of the bonded courier.

Wright had originally claimed that a bonded courier would arrive on January 1, delivering him the keys to the bitcoins held in the Tulip Trust. On January 10, Wright requested an extension to file a notice and was granted until February 3 to notify the court of the courier’s arrival.

In the court filing submitted, Wright notified the US District Court of Southern Florida that he had obtained all the necessary information to unlock the bitcoins held in the Tulip Trust and that he had produced to the court a list of 16,404 addresses which held the bitcoins. The Kleiman estate promptly refuted Wright’s notice as “simply a list of addresses” with no reference or information pertaining to the bonded courier. Wright’s lawyer later admitted that Wright did not receive private keys to the addresses.

January 15 LinkedIn report reveals blockchain as the most in-demand skill in 2020.

In its annual list of the most in-demand skills sought by recruiters, the employment networking website listed blockchain as the hard skill companies needed most in 2020, ahead of cloud computing, analytical reasoning, and artificial intelligence. The report stated that companies were looking at blockchain as a transformational technology beyond its scope in financial services, seeing it as a secure, decentralized, and cost- and time-efficient way to transparently track shipments and transactions of all kinds.

While companies recognized the concerns surrounding lack of standardized protocols, regulation, and scalability, they were sufficiently convinced by blockchain’s potential to view it worthy of the gamble.

January 16 Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb disputes $69 million tax bill.

Less than two weeks after the Finance Ministry said it would not tax cryptocurrency profits, Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb filed a complaint with the Tax Tribunal against the National Tax Service (NTS) over what it considers a “groundless” tax the agency imposed on its customers.

Bithumb claimed that cryptocurrency is not a legally recognized currency and therefore the authorities did not have grounds to impose a withholding tax, also known as a retention tax, which is an income tax paid to the government by the payer of the income rather than by its recipient. A withholding tax of 80.3 billion won ($69.1 million) was imposed by the NTS on cryptocurrency profits withdrawn in Korean won from accounts held by foreigners.

January 17 UK Government seeks software to trace cryptocurrency transactions.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) posted a contract offer on the UK government’s official public sector information website offering $130k for a,

“cryptoasset blockchain analysis tool that will support intelligence gathering methods to identify and cluster cryptoasset transactions into linked transactions and identify those linked to cryptoasset service providers.”

Seeking the ability to identify transactions linked to service providers such as mixing, gambling, and dark market services, HMRC noted that the blockchain analysis tool was primarily required to trace Bitcoin, Ripple, Tether, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic transactions, but also preferably privacy-focused cryptocurrencies such as Monero, Zcash, and Dash.

January 18 Grayscale Investments reports that it attracted an inflow of $608 million in 2019.

The New York-based digital currency asset manager raised $225.5 million into its investment products, bringing assets raised for the year 2019 to $607.7 million, a figure which surpasses cumulative investment across Grayscale products from the last six years since its inception in 2013.

Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust continued to lead 2019’s investment demand with $471.7 million total, $193.8 million of which were raised in 4Q2019, marking the largest ever quarterly investment into the Trust. Nearly three-quarters of Grayscale’s 2019 assets raised came from institutional investors like hedge funds, with institutional investors accounting for 71% of inflows in 2019, up from 51% in the previous year.

January 19 Gold bug Peter Schiff claims he lost all his bitcoins due to a corrupt wallet.

Blaming Bitcoin for his inadequate understanding of how his wallet worked, Schiff tweeted,

“I just lost all the Bitcoin I have ever owned. My wallet got corrupted somehow and my password is no longer valid.

So now not only is my Bitcoin intrinsically worthless; it has no market value either. I knew owning Bitcoin was a bad idea, I just never realized it was this bad!”

Schiff went on to claim that he had a simple numeric password which he remembered, not realizing that it was only a login PIN for his blockchain wallet. After several days of hand-wringing and gum-flapping, Schiff eventually conceded that he had confounded his PIN for his password. Having failed to back up his seed phrase, Schiff was unable to recover his bitcoins.

January 20 Indian IT minister calls for blockchain solutions to improve the quality of government schools.

Speaking on the occasion of the inauguration of a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Blockchain Technology set up by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in Bengaluru, Telecom and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the NIC to come up with blockchain-based solutions to improve the quality of government schools in the country.

The CoE develops blockchain-based Proof of Concepts (PoCs) for select government use cases to understand potential benefits provided by the emerging technology. Urging the NIC to work on a mechanism to involve more startups in the field, Prasad added that blockchain technology would open up new frontiers in areas of governance, treasury management, excise operations, agriculture, health, and education.

January 22 Vodafone pulls out of the Libra Association.

The London-based telecommunications giant became the eighth company to join the wave of exodus from Facebook’s Libra project, after Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Stripe, eBay, Mercado Pago, and Booking Holdings. Vodafone said in a statement that while it was committed to financial inclusion, it felt that such interests would be better served by focusing its efforts on M-Pesa, the company’s mobile phone-based money transfer service,

“We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion. We remain fully committed to that goal.

We will continue to monitor the development of the Libra Association and do not rule out the possibility of future cooperation.”

January 24 Bitcoin money laundering suspect Aleksandr Vinnik extradited to France.

Following a ruling of Greece’s Council of State, Russian national Vinnik, operator of defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, was extradited from Greece to France. Vinnik’s lawyer, Zoe Konstantopoulou, claimed that his client had been kidnapped, and suggested he had been sent to France without her knowledge. Vinnik was arrested on a US arrest warrant in 2017 on a Greek beach while vacationing with his family as the alleged mastermind behind an international money-laundering scheme that had processed over $4 billion in cryptocurrency transactions, including bitcoins stolen from Mt. Gox.

A Greek court had initially approved Vinnik’s extradition to the United States in December 2017 but an extradition request by France in 2018 was given precedence.

January 27 Dubai government agency announces crypto valley to promote blockchain growth.

Dubai’s Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), the world’s flagship free zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise, announced its plans to launch a crypto valley in partnership with CV VC and CV Labs.

An agreement, aligned with the Dubai Blockchain Strategy launched by the Crown Prince of Dubai, was signed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos to develop an ecosystem in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), DMCC’s business district, where over 17,000 companies are currently registered. Research from DMCC’s Future of Trade report found that blockchain could help reduce up to 20 percent of the physical paper costs associated with global trade, currently estimated at USD 1.8 trillion.

January 29 Cambodia set to implement a blockchain-based digital payment system.

Speaking to Cambodia’s oldest English daily, the Phnom Penh Post, director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Chea Serey said that the central bank was preparing to launch a blockchain-based peer-to-peer payment and money transfer platform within the next few months. Dubbed ‘Project Bakong’, Serey described the system as “the national payment gateway for Cambodia” and said that the scheme was already launched on a trial basis in July and was expected to become fully operational within the first quarter of 2020,

“Bakong will bring all players in the payment space in Cambodia under the same platform, making it easy for users to pay each other regardless of the institutions they bank with. Eventually, we hope to allow cross border payment through the Bakong system.”

January 31 Kraken discloses a critical flaw in Trezor Bitcoin hardware wallets.

Security researchers at San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken managed to hack both of Trezor’s flagship hardware wallets within 15 minutes. Kraken Security Labs disclosed the critical flaw, first identified in October 2019, through a blog post. Taking advantage of inherent flaws within the microcontroller used in the Trezor wallets, the attack exploited voltage glitching in Trezor’s hardware design to extract an encrypted seed, after which the security researchers were able to brute-force the PIN protecting the encrypted seed.

The only way for Trezor to fix the vulnerability would be to fully redesign its hardware. Until then, users of Trezor wallets are advised not to allow physical access to their wallets and enable their BIP39 Passphrase with the Trezor client.

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Author: Lamps T

Overstock’s Security Token Platform To Launch Retail Broker-Dealer tZERO Markets By Mid-Year

tZERO is a security token platform operated by Overstock, the online retailer. On January 30, 2020, the platform released a summary of its business performance in the form of a review letter. The letter provided a summary of everything from 2019, including providing a detailed layout of what they intend to achieve in the course of this year.

Saum Noursalehi, the tZERO CEO, is behind the penning of this review letter which focused on various aspects of the business including an anticipated introduction of the broker-dealer program, which is also being referred to as the tZERO markets. The review states that this release is expected to occur “in the first half of this year.”

Funding from External Sources

At the same time, the company also made known their plans to approach external sources for additional funding. This is something they expect to accomplish later this year or in the beginning of next year.

tZERO was founded in January 2019. In May of the same year, they received a total of five million dollars from GSR Capital. However, tZERO still managed to miss their initial fundraising goal by a whopping 98.7 percent. In the review letter, Noursalehi wrote that:

“As Overstock management mentioned recently, it is committed to funding tZERO. As our business continues to develop in the first half of the year and we continue to hit milestones and prove out the business model further, it may become appropriate to approach external sources of capital in late 2020 or 2021.”

The Chief Executive Officer was, however, quick to point out that the only time that the platform will take this measure is when they’re sure that the funding obtained from external sources will help to enhance the company, as well as the value of its stakeholders.

tZERO was in hopes that it would manage to list at least 5 security tokens on the tZERO ATS exchange by the end of last year. But this process was delayed by various regulatory and legal concerns.

Noursalehi pointed out that the exchange currently has one broker-dealer and 2 listed tokens.

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Author: Daniel W

Ethereum Foundation Grants Nimbus $650,000 To Help Develop ETH 2.0

A press release sent out to the public on January 28th indicates that Nimbus was recently awarded a grant of $650,000 by the Ethereum Foundation that would enable it to continue working on the Light ETH 2.0 Client. The main goal of this project is to enable embedded devices and smartphones to operate nodes that are smart contracts capable.

Nimbus was launched by Status in March 2018 as an infrastructure project. In the beginning, it had been imagined as a project that would provide better admittance to the Status application that is installed on all modern smartphones. But as time progressed, the scope of the project was stretched out with the aim of transforming it into something that would be good for the entire Ethereum community.

Jacek Sieka, the current Nimbus Head of Research had a one-on-one with Cointelegraph and stated that:

“The R&D performed by the Nimbus team is not specific to Status or The Status Network, but rather designed as a public good for anyone to use, change, and benefit from.”

Nimbus was started as a collaborative effort between Gitcoin, the Ethereum Foundation, and is co-funded by Status. The money awarded to Nimbus as a grant is set to be used into getting it ready into a state where it can start being produced.

The upcoming project milestones, according to the project map indicate that testing is the next phase, which will then be followed by the final release of a client that will be capable of supporting the beacon chain from Ethereum.

About Nimbus

As is the case with the already existing ETH clients such as Parity and Mist, Nimbus is expected to enable its users to link to the Serenity network that is about to be released by Ethereum.

The main difference between Nimbus and the existing clients lies in the form of support that it will provide to all devices. It’s a client that intends to provide support to a broad range of devices, and not just servers and computers.

As things stand at the moment, the ETH blockchain has been seen to take up too many resources, making it unfriendly for use in smartphones.

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Author: Daniel W

TradeStation Users Now Have Access To CME, Bakkt Bitcoin Futures Options Trading

TradeStation is an online brokerage firm for securities and on 27th January announced that its clients can now trade Bitcoin Futures Options from CME and Bakkt on their recently revealed FuturesPlus platform.

The new futures platform would come equipped with various analytical tools and simplified pricing to help institutional clients to trade the futures contractor from both the popular platforms in one place.

Futures contracts have become the hottest crypto trend since it has given a smooth pathway for institutional traders to enter the digital space. Earlier these big shot traders avoided crypto markets owing to its high price volatility and risk-return factor.

However, the likes of CME and Bakkt has efficiently managed to bring in these institutional players by offering a less volatile form of investing via futures contracts. These contracts are settled at the prefixed date of every month to depending on the time frame of the trader’s contract.

CME Group was the first exchange to enter the futures market for digital currencies as it launched its Bitcoin futures contract during the peak bull market for the king coin in December 2017. Recently they also launched the Bitcoin Futures Options trading with tremendous response from the community as it’s volume soared and doubled in just the first week.

Bakkt’s physically settled Bitcoin futures were launched in September 2019 amid high speculations and hopes. However the start was quite disappointing for Bakkt as it failed to generate trading volumes anywhere near CME’s, but slowly picked up the pace by December and since then has seen significant rising volumes with each passing day.

TradeStation Securities has been in the business since 1980’s catering its services mainly towards institutional clients. The securities brokerage firm has been known for offering commission free trading for traditional stocks, futures, options and exchange traded funds as well.

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Author: James W