Former Coinbase Exec Nominated by President Trump to Lead US Comptroller of the Currency

President Trump has made several nominations, amongst them being that of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), where former Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Brian Brooks is currently at the helm acting capacity. He has now been nominated to serve in a permanent position for the next five years, should the lame-duck senate approve his appointment.

Brooks assumed his acting role at the OCC in May after Joseph Otting resigned from the position, prompting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to replace him. Before this, he had served as Coinbase’s general counsel, a background that made stakeholders optimistic of a more crypto-friendly OCC. Unsurprisingly, Brooks has introduced significant changes in line with Fintech and crypto services.

One of his office’s most popular moves was the announcement that regulated U.S banks could offer crypto custodial services. Since then, U.S banks have loosened their gun-shy approach towards crypto with some launching services in this niche. The OCC also announced in September that these financial institutions could further extend their services to stablecoin providers.

In a recent Forbes interview, the acting OCC head elaborated some options that payment companies, including crypto, can pursue to receive a federal bank charter. Per the breakdown by Brooks, firms can acquire this charter by applying for a non-depository bank charter, National Trust Bank Charter, or buying a depository institution.

Confirmation Still Uncertain

With the U.S elections just recently concluded, the Brooks appointment by outgoing President Trump could face some challenges if the senate does not act before Jan 20. This is when President-elect Joe Biden is expected to assume office, which means he could nominate another person for the position.

Notably, Brooks has faced a backlash from the Democrats in the past, especially with handling the COVID-19 pandemic. His appointment will first go through the U.S banking senate committee, which will hold a confirmation hearing before a decision is voted in the senate.

Meanwhile, Brooks has already welcomed the nomination by President Trump, noting that he will continue to advance the mission of the OCC if confirmed,

“As Acting Comptroller of the Currency, I am proud to contribute to this 157-year-old mission.

If confirmed, I will work ceaselessly to ensure the agency continues to fulfill its critical mission and the men and women of this agency have the resources, training, and leadership they need to succeed in their duties.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Capital Influx in Bitcoin Is The Highest its Been Since the Last Bull Market

Over the weekend, the price of the Bitcoin fell to the $15,700 level, but today, we made another attempt to test high levels. Going back to nearly $16,400, currently, Bitcoin is trading in the green with $1.85 billion.

According to on-chain analyst Willy Woo, Bitcoin is shaking off the bearishness technicals that make short and mid-term on-chain fundamentals bullish as more coins get scooped off exchanges still. This means more users arriving, indicating a buy the dip scenario.

This price action is rather organic, means instead of dominated by short term derivative traders, it tracks closely with investor capital entering and leaving.

The Realised Price of BItcoin, which estimates the average price the market paid for their BTC, is currently at its steepest slope for this cycle, “meaning capital influx into Bitcoin is at its highest rate since the last bull market,” said Woo.

Given that it is higher than last year’s $4k-$14k move, the current move signals to be more organic.

BTC-Realized-Price
Source: @Woonomic

“If you missed 2013 and 2017 bull markets: current bitcoin price rise to $16K is just a small taste of what will come next. We are just warming up,” said analyst PlanB.

As we reported, after JPMorgan’s bullish view of Bitcoin, Citibank released a report where it set the moon target for BTC at over $300,000 by December 2021, calling it the gold of the 21st century.

Already, the aggregate open interest (OI) continues to rise to new highs with that of the regulated venue, the CME, not lagging behind its peers either, a critical factor to consider.

“The outperformance is led by venues that provide stablecoin margined futures as opposed to Bitcoin margined products. As a result, the market is in a much healthier condition than it would have been if the said movement into stablecoin margin products did not happen. This leads to belief that higher levels will be achieved with much less strain on the market,” said Denis Vinokourov of Bequant.

The market cap of stablecoins has exploded this year, with that of the largest one, USDT surpassing $18 billion. All this dry power could further help the market run higher when prices start trending up again.

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Author: AnTy

Coinbase Expands its Regulatory Compliance Team with Two New Hires

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has made two new additions to its growing legal and compliance team. The company hired Milana McCullagh as Vice President, Deputy General Counsel for Product and Commercial, and Katherine Minarik as Vice President, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation.

Both the new hires will help drive Coinbase’s momentum to ensure its internal and external operations remain regulatory compliant.

While Milana spent over a decade at Google supporting the tech giant’s some of the most notable products, Katherine previously has been with Dyson, Cleverbridge, and over a decade at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott law firm. Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s Chief Legal Officer, wrote,

“One of our key priorities at Coinbase is to be trusted as we create an open financial system for the world.”

A Hiring Spree

Coinbase is currently hiring for many roles, 182 to be exact, across different departments, including security & privacy, legal & compliance, international expansion, data, and engineering. The exchange is also hiring a Director for the position of Belonging Inclusion & Diversity. The job description reads,

“This individual will be responsible for owning, executing, and advancing our newly refreshed BID Strategy, which rests on the vision that every employee feels they belong and can succeed.”

This remote job for the USA follows its CEO Brian Armstrong’s apolitical mission statement, for which, while he received support, he also got a public backlash.

This led 5%, about 60 of its employees, to accept a company’s severance package to employees that aren’t comfortable with Armstrong’s position.

The previous head of belonging, inclusion, and employee experience, Tariq Meyers, left over the summer for unclear reasons. Meyers was one of Coinbase’s senior Black employees. Before Armstrong made his political mission public, there have been reportedly a walkout of an employee because of an internal Ask-me-Anything session about Black Lives Matter.

Now, for the new head of BID, the person is required to take a data-driven approach to get “an understanding of BID’s impact on culture and the Coinbase experience” and then “leverage” all the new and existing data to attract and select talent & further grow and retain it.

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Author: AnTy

Strong Institutional Demand for Bitcoin, CME Becomes Second Largest BTC Futures Market

Bitcoin’s price made a big shift this week as the bulls gained control of the market and pushed it past $13,000.

A similar shift has been seen in the open interest recorded by the bitcoin trading platforms. The biggest change has obviously been in derivatives exchange BitMEX, which has been seeing a constant decline since earlier this month when CFTC brought down criminal charges against it.

From 55k BTC OI on Oct. 1st, it fell to 28k BTC yesterday, a decline of nearly 50%.

In USD terms, the OI has dropped from $781 million in late Sept. to under $600 million, but the recent jump in BTC price helped it get back above it but barely.

Interestingly, CME enjoyed a good uptick during the same period, showcasing strong institutional demand for bitcoin.

With $790 million in OI this month, the OI on CME recorded a growth of almost 130%, from $345 million on Oct. 2nd. And this uptrend helped the regulated trading platform become the second-largest futures market for bitcoin.

“The OI on the CME BTC futures has climbed aggressively lately. CME is currently the second-largest futures market for bitcoin, holding 15.7% of the total OI in the BTC futures market. This is still slightly below CME’s record share of the total market OI from August of 16.2%,” noted Vetle Lunde, an analyst at Arcane Research.

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Another crypto exchange seeing an incremental exchange in OI is FTX, which saw an increase of just over 103% from $166 million at the beginning of this month to $337 million.

Other exchanges Deribit (+79%), Binance (+72%), ByBit (+44.5%), Kraken (+41.4%), Bitfinex (+35%), OKEx (+25%), and Huobi (+18%), all recorded an uptick as well but of small percentage compared to CME.

Unlike others, Bakkt’s 50% wasn’t sustainable, and it continues to move up and down while keeping below $18 million.

Markets are healthy, not just OI, but solid activity has been recorded across spot, futures, and options as well. The big session has been the result of PayPal announcing support for cryptocurrencies.

Also Read: ‌PayPal Exploring Acquiring Crypto Companies, Already in Talks with Bitcoin Custodian BitGo

And with this, futures are no longer in backwardation.

“Bitmex, bybit BTC futures are now higher than spot ($10-25). An interesting shift of market sentiment. People are finally starting to become bullish. But that doesn’t mean this is the top. It can take weeks or months for the top to happen. Funding rate will be the key indicator,” noted trader Crypto Squeeze.

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Author: AnTy

Biggest Challenges Ahead for Crypto as Regulators Declare War on Privacy & Self-Custody

The start of the new quarter saw a slew of regulatory moves targeting the cryptocurrency space – “we’ve made the world stage,” which Fundstrat Global Advisors LLC believes is good for the overall crypto market because it’s just regulators “clearing up bad actors.”

While the “prevailing bull market trend is intact,” the ideological war over self-custody & privacy means “our biggest challenges still lie ahead,” said Jake Chervinsky, general counsel at Compound Finance.

As the crypto market continues to grow, the change is now coming.

Policymakers have taken a stern approach to KYC and AML on a global scale intended to prevent criminals from abusing the financial system.

With the goal that “crime doesn’t pay,” AML regulations deputize the “gatekeepers” financial institutions to act as government agents such as identify customers, surveil transactions, and file reports with the government.

Although AML regulations break down in the context of cash, which govt. are trying to get rid of it, it has its limitations because cash works only in-person and isn’t easy to move in large amounts over long distances.

As such, regulators are much more concerned about digital transfers.

Pursuing Crypto Aggressively

Up until now, they weren’t concerned much because, in their belief, crypto’s main utility comes from conversion into fiat, they can track crypto transfers via blockchain fairly easy, and there isn’t much criminal activity in crypto.

But, over the last year, as bitcoin gained geopolitical significance & fiat-pegged stablecoin volume exploded upwards, governments are now concerned about both illicit activity & the threat to their monetary sovereignty, noted Chervinsky.

Now, they’re enforcing AML regulations more aggressively.

As we saw in the case of BitMEX, which not only got tagged by CFTC for unregistered derivatives trading as expected, but DOJ also turned the case criminal, which “doesn’t happen often.”

The key takeaways from this action are that not only law enforcement and the regulators are paying attention to what you do, but those non-U.S. entities may also be subject to U.S. laws and willful ignorance or violation of US AML laws is serious, said Phil Liu, chief legal officer at Arca.

The Main Challenge

Last week, DOJ released a framework to cryptos where it described anonymous transactions as “a high-risk activity…indicative of possible criminal conduct” and an ominous warning in the form of “anonymity enhanced cryptocurrencies” for exchanges.

This war over privacy and restricting access to crypto is global as the international standard-setting body for AML regulation FATF said in June that the “lack of explicit coverage of peer-to-peer transactions…was a source of concern.”

“Swiss Rule” is already prohibiting self-custody “in the guise of verifying the owner of a private key.” And just last week, BIS said in its report on CBDCs that “full anonymity is not plausible.”

With FATF red-flagging hardware wallets, Europol prioritizing privacy wallets, and UK’s FCA banning crypto derivatives, the situation is serious.

“I fear we’re heading for a world where withdrawing crypto from exchanges to self-custody is restricted as a means of attacking privacy,” said Chervinksy, which according to him, is the main challenge for the crypto market for years to come.

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Author: AnTy

Binance’s Plan to Return to Japan Falls Through The Cracks As Deal With TaoTao Collapses

In a report first made public by Coindesk Japan, Binance exchange’s deal with Japan-based crypto trading exchange, TaoTao, has fallen through. According to the statement, the two companies have called off the strategic alliance that could see Binance services return to the island nation.

The largest global cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, announced in 2019 they will be restricting their services to Japan residents with increased scrutiny from the Financial Service Authority (FSA). In January this year, BEG reported Binance was in a strategic alliance agreement with TaoTao, the crypto exchange wing of Z Corporation. The two latter firms are under Z Holdings, the firm in charge of the Yahoo Japan enterprise.

After nine months of discussions, the deal has been abandoned, however, the statement from TaoTao, released Monday, did not give a clear explanation as to why the deal was abandoned.

Binance announced its restrictions to Japan residents shortly before the discussions with TaoTao began. Trading services to Japan-based clients will continue as normal in the future.

Binance is also facing a possible lawsuit in Japan after the locally-based crypto exchange, Fisco (formerly Zaif), which was hacked in 2018, that claimed over $9 million in crypto stolen was transferred and withdrawn from their platform. Binance has yet to comment on the alleged money laundering claims from Fisco.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Love it or Hate it, UNI Token Stands to Benefit from Uniswap’s Evolution

After releasing the UNI token as part of Uniswap V3, the first update for Uniswap V3 has been made on Github. It might say “trigger a new major release,” but for now, it just seems to be a tease with an IPFS deployment release.

Amidst the growing hype around Uniswap V3, such teases only push the market sentiments towards excitement, which in the DeFi world doesn’t take much to turn into euphoria.

For now, the UNI token is trading at $5.17, still in the green by 6.14%, slowly uptrending towards its ATH of over $8.

Today, with Ethereum Layer 2 solution Ethereum Optimism entering the first phase of its testament launch, Uniswap has announced itself as the early adopter, along with Synthetix and Chainlink.

Additionally, Mask Network rolled out a widget that lets users trade tokens on the biggest decentralized exchange (DEX) by volume, through its Twitter extension. The aim is to make it easier for Web 2 users to migrate to Web 3 apps.

The Question of Decentralization

The top DeFi project, with nearly $2 billion in deposits, is gaining a lot of attention these days thanks to its governance token, which was airdropped to its early adopters.

But not all of its is good; as we reported, there have been questions on the regulatory nature of the UNI token, which is also allocated to team members, advisors, and investors — Uniswap raised $11 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz along with USV, Paradigm, Version One, Variant, Parafi Capital, SV Angel, and A.Capital.

At the time, it has been said the resources will be used to build Uniswap V3, which will “dramatically increase the flexibility and capital efficiency of the protocol.”

Besides the legal nature, the latest report from Glassnode also took a stab at the decentralized nature of the token launch, which raised a few questions.

“With the launch of its UNI token, Uniswap has branded itself as “decentralized,” but it still has a long way to go to reach this point. By giving itself a skeleton key to the protocol, Uniswap has (at least in the near term) sacrificed decentralization for the sake of control,” noted Glassnode.

But the crypto data provider also noted that the decision was “almost certainly” made with the protocol’s best interests at heart. Moreover, the control will gradually transition to the community.

“Despite the team’s lack of transparency and somewhat deceptive marketing, the UNI token remains a strong and likely extremely valuable asset,” combined with Uniswap’s impressive growth, V3 deployment in the pipeline, and activation of fee switch that will enable UNI holders to earn a portion of trading fees.

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Author: AnTy

Trader Calls for an Extended DeFi Winter for the Best Performing Assets of 2020

The decentralized finance (DeFi) rage made many people in the crypto community very rich. With DeFi tokens surging by as much as 10,000% and more, they have become the best-performing assets of 2020, so far.

2020 saw everything from stocks, bonds, and commodities flying, hitting new all-time highs (ATH). But nothing compares to the success of DeFi.

In the macro, the YTD returns have been: gold 25% and S&P 500 2.62%.

In the crypto market, Bitcoin recorded 45.7% returns YTD. The center of the DeFi world, Ether, which according to Bloomberg strategist Mike McGlone, “appears to be maintaining its platform leadership status” meanwhile rallied 160%.

Now, in the DeFi market, the top year-to-date performers include Cream (+98,900%), Aave (+2,617%), YFI (+2,144%), Loopring (+953%), and Melon Protocol (+877%).

Crypto assets performed well during the Covid-19 crisis thanks to Bitcoin becoming a “refuge” like gold and offering a store of value amidst the concerns of fiat devaluation, weakening dollar, and inflation propelled by huge stimulus injections to counter the pandemic.

“A purely ethereal instrument performs well when the real economy is on pause,” said Marc Fleury, CEO of crypto asset management and fintech firm Two Prime.

As for DeFi solutions, they basically port financial functions like lending, borrowing, trading, earnings, and insuring on blockchains.

DeFi also led to a surge in interest in Ethereum contracts, with 5.2 million ETH now locked in the sector, as per DeFi Pulse.

“Retail cryptocurrency users have increasingly turned to derivatives to maximize their returns,” said Aziz Zainuddin, chief product officer of Fasset.

Time for a Break?

However, recently the growth of DeFi is slowing down. On Sept. 18, the DeFi collateral levels reached over $13.2 billion from less than $700 million at the start of the year.

This week, the losses recorded by DeFi tokens have the TVL of DeFi declining to $6.3 billion, currently around $8 billion.

While the deposits are struggling to get back up, the price of the tokens has been taking a hard beating for the past few days.

In the past seven days, DeFi projects have lost a considerable amount of their value, including Swerve (65%), Rune (59%), Balancer (32%), UMA (30%), YFI (30%), Bancor (25%), and Curve (20%) to name a few.

“Been expecting a DeFi mini-winter since two weeks ago, but the kind of obnoxious shit that happened last few days makes think we are headed for a much longer winter. Could easily be invalidated by price action but need to be mentally prepared whether you’re an investor or founder,” said entrepreneur and quant trader, Qiao Wang.

While the past week, the largest DEX by volume Uniswap launched its much anticipated token UNI, this week, a group of large accounts were caught dumping their coin.

This week, we also saw Curve fork Swerve’s TVL crashing from over a billion-dollar last week to a mere $44 million today.

But while the Defi bull market might take a pause, the builders aren’t stopping

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Author: AnTy

Social Capital Reveals its ‘Big Bet’ Bitcoin Investment During Investor Call

In its investor conference call, Social Capital revealed its Bitcoin investment made in 2013.

The company CEO Chamath Palihapitiya, who is a bitcoin proponent, revealed last week that the company invested in Bitcoin seven years back when the price of BTC ranged between $13 to $1,200.

Today, Bitcoin is trading above $10,400.

In the Sept. 15 call, while talking about the company’s aim to “partner with iconic technology companies,” and the plan to take Opendoor public, Chamath likened his latest bet with that of Bitcoin, which belongs to the same category as Tesla and Amazon.

“I believe in this the same way that I believed in some of our other big bets that we’ve made, whether it was Bitcoin in 2013, Amazon in 2015, Tesla in 2016, and Virgin Galactic in 2019. We really try to find companies that we think are run by exceptional leaders with great asymmetric upside, which can 10x in 10 years.”

With Social Capital looking to raise $2 billion for three new blank cheque companies and even planning to go public itself to become the “Warren Buffett of tech investing,” it would be the first publicly-traded company of significant market value to invest in the leading cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin History

This isn’t the first time Chamath has talked about investing in the undisclosed amount of Bitcoin, but he hasn’t clarified if it was a private or fund investment.

A minority stakeholder at the Golden State Warriors and chairman of Virgin Galactic, he also worked as a senior vice president of Facebook from 2007 to 2011.

Earlier this year, he called bitcoin a “fantastic hedge” and advised that “everybody should have 1% of their assets in bitcoin.” He had shared in a separate interview that he bought “a lot” of BTC in 2013 and, at one point, had “almost 5% of all the bitcoin.”

Chamath has called the flagship cryptocurrency a “schmuck insurance” which will “protect our wealth” because it is an uncorrelated hedge to the government’s decision-making.

According to him, the gold 2.0 “is either zero or it’s millions.”

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Author: AnTy

FTX’s New Decentralized Exchange (DEX) On Solana, Serum, Goes Live with 9 Tokens

Six months in, the Project Serum was made officially live on the weekend.

The decentralized exchange by FTX is based on permissionless blockchain Solana, which boasts of over 50k transactions per second.

Its native token SRM is trading at $2.70, down from its $2.96 all-time high hit yesterday.

The same has been the case for Solana’s SOL token, which reacted to the news by climbing to $4.4. For now, it has retraced some gains.

And, of course, FTX’s token FTT also hit a new peak at $4.21 today thanks to all the development FTX is seeing — listing DeFi perpetual contracts, launching Uniswap index markets, announcing no maker fees for the rest of 2020, and acquiring Blockfolio.

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is the “Elon of Crypto, Don’t bet against him,” said Joe McCann, who works on Cloud and AI in Microsoft. According to him, FTT is a “Low beta exchange token that continues to accrue value,” which he called the best trade of 2020 in December 2019.

Now, Serum is launched that needs no login or two-factor authentication. As one trader shared, “Speed as promised…Liquidity again as promised,” with small spread and gas very low – “almost negligible.”

In the current world of extremely high fees on the Ethereum network, which is around its highest level since Ether was launched in 2015, it makes this project all the more interesting.

Currently, the exchange has BTC, ETH, XRP, FTT, SRM, LINK, and MSRM with wrapped SOL and surprise listing YFI trading against USDT and USDC.

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Author: AnTy