Coinbase Custody Becomes First Custodian With SOC 1 and SOC 2 Security Evaluations

The crypto custody subsidiary of major US-based crypto exchange Coinbase has managed to obtain 2 new security evaluations.

As per a press release from February 12, Coinbase Custody got a SOC 1 Type 2 and a SOC 2 Type 2 report from Grant Thornton, a major US-based accounting firm. This means Coinbase Custody is now able to prove that it complies with many of the security and reporting regulatory standards.

What Information Do SOC Reports Provide?

The Grant Thornton official website says that SOC reports provide information on how strong and present the financial, information and operational controls are in an organization. SOC 1 gives information related to the financial reporting of any organization and are intended for auditor-auditor communications.

On the other hand, SOC 2 gives more information about availability, security, privacy, processing integrity and confidentiality. The Type 1 SOC 2 and SOC 2 reports describe the controls’ design, whereas Type 2 reports cover the effectiveness of controls for a testing time period of 6 months.

Coinbase Custody Will Renew Reports

Coinbase Custody has stated that it’s going to renew its reports. The news about the evaluations arrives soon after in January, Coinbase has a established an Ireland identity in order to make its cryptocurrency services available to European institutions. There are other crypto services providers that went to obtain SOC certificates. For example, at the end of January, US-based crypto custodian and exchange Gemini was granted the SOC 2 Type 2 evaluation by Deloitte.

What Does Cryptocurrency Custody Mean?

The greatest advantage of crypto assets is that they can be under independent custody. Institutional investors and financial markets need a higher level of security standards in order to achieve self-custody. Rohan Barde Hai, a researcher for Blockchain Zoo, explained in September last year how important custody solutions are for institutional investors. The more the crypto market is maturing, the more traditional institutions decide to join it.

For instance, after the new Anti-Money Laundering laws have been instated, 40 banks in Germany asked regulators to approve their digital asset custody services, which means the adoption of crypto is on the rise.

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Author: Oana Ularu

UK’s FCA Seeks Blockchain, Crypto Expert With Knowledge Of 5AMLD’s Digital Assets Regulations

The major financial authority in the UK, known as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), wants to hire a cryptocurrency specialist.

More specifically, the FCA wishes to work with someone who has crypto expertise in order to know how to address digital assets according to the EU’s 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5). At least this is what an FCA LinkedIn posting from February 6 says. AMLD5 came into effect last month, on the 10th. It represents the efforts made by authorities to deal with money laundering activities in Europe.

The Expert Will Be a Part of the Core Function Team at the FCA

While the UK exited the EU 6 days ago, on January 31, the British government still needs to pay attention to the European cryptocurrency law that has recently been enforced, this being the reason why it’s looking for a crypto expert to join its core function team, which is the team dealing with intelligence and has been responsible with the interpretation of the AMLD5 regulation since January this year. As the job posting says, this person would be responsible with the enforcement and supervision of the regulation, also with processing applications of firms wanting to join the financial services industry in the UK.

The FCA Has Been Very Active in the Crypto Space

The FCA has many times made its voice heard in the crypto space. It has approved the operations of important firms in the industry and closely investigated what happened in the country’s crypto space. Back in July 2019, it announced that it won’t regulate 2 of the most used cryptocurrencies in the world: Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

The FCA’s new action on AMLD5 arrives soon after the agency made the official announcement that it’s going to start supervising AML compliance of crypto companies in the country. It has been reported that the rules FCA plans to impose are going to be very stringent.

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Author: Oana Ularu

CoinFlip ATMs Now Support Stellar (XLM), Making It the 8th Cryptocurrency Added

Major crypto ATM operator CoinFlip now allows their customers to buy Stellar Lumens (XLM) at their network of machines, CEO and co-founder of CoinFlip Daniel Polotsky says.

This means XLM is going to be more available in physical stores, also mentioned Polotsky. CoinFlip has around 450 ATMs in convenience stores and gas stations all over the US. These machines allow customers to buy some of the available cryptocurrencies just by using their credit or debits cards. In 40 locations, CoinFlip has ATMs that allow the crypto to be sold for USD cash.

Most Important Cryptocurrencies Already Supported by CoinFlip

The CoinFlip ATMs were already offering access to Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Komodo (KMD), Tron (TRX), Chainlink (LINK) and Dash (DASH). Polotsky said XLM has been demanded by customers, also that it has a good market prominence and a high liquidity every day, so this was convincing enough for CoinFlip to adopt it. The startup is planning to continue adding coins, seeing it’s rapidly expanding its network of ATMs, which is already clear to function in more than 40 states. This is what Polotsky said about what being done at the moment at CoinFlip:

“We’re trying to push out 20 [ATMs] a week.”

No KYC Verification Up to $900

Sam Conner, one of the biggest XLM supporters wrote on his Twitter about the benefits CoinFlip offers. He said users are now able to connect via the CoinFlip platform to their Ledger hardware wallet. It was also mentioned that buying at CoinFlip ATMs doesn’t need any Know Your Customer (KYC) knowledge for up to $900, so it allows anonymous buys.

If CoinFlip continues to expand at this rate, it can become the #1 crypto ATM operator in the US, seeing CoinCloud has 418 machines at the moment, while Coinsource and RockItCoin 272 and respectively 251.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Ethereum’s ConsenSys Announces Staff Cuts By 14% While Also Acquiring Broker-Dealer

The Ethereum development studio ConsenSys is doing a major restructuring of its business and will cut staff by 14%, as it aims to raise $200 million.

The Brooklyn-based company announced at a meeting with its entire staff from Tuesday that changes are about to be made. When inquired by the press about how many people are going to be fired more exactly, or how many employees it has, it gave no answer. This is what a statement from the firm reads:

“In the coming months, ConsenSys will finalize the transition from its venture production model and spin out a number of its internally funded projects into the ConsenSys Investments portfolio.”

Prioritizing the Development of Some Ethereum Platforms

The intention is to bring leading infrastructure platforms in the Ethereum (ETH) ecosystem to the forefront in development processes. ConsenSys said they will,

“operate a software business composed of several of its products optimized for a modular stack.”

There are sources saying Codefi, MetaMask, Pegasys and Infura are going to receive the most attention.

ConsenSys Investments Will Continue to Exist

The venture aspect will still be alive under the ConsenSys Investments banner. They said liquid digital assets, early-stage equity and strategic opportunities will be in the spotlight. It added the “Solutions” arm, which is enterprise-focused, is going to provide directly for the software business.

13% of the Staff Laid Off Back in 2018 Too

During the ConsenSys 2.0 restructuring from 2018, the company laid off around 13% of its employees. It seems the recent action was a result of thorough evaluations of the projects during the 2019 year. In the meantime, it’s attempting to break into the $3.8 trillion municipal debt market.

A separate announcement made on Tuesday says it has acquired Heritage Financial Systems, the famous broker-dealer, in an attempt to become both a broker-dealer and advisory firm. ConsenSys thinks blockchain technology can make things easier when it comes to tokenized bond offerings, especially since it helps issuers sell smaller denominative securities, or mini bonds.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Swiss Private Banking Giant Julius Baer Adds Digital Asset Trading And Crypto Custody Services

The major Swiss wealth management and private banking group Julius Baer just launched, in partnership with Seba, its new custodial and trading cryptocurrency services.

The announcement was made on January 21, after the minority equity stake acquisition from 2018 and the partnership closed with Seba Bank AG, which happened back in February 2019. According to the announcement, Julius Baer’s entrance into the crypto space has been postponed because Seba had to be regulated.

Julius Baer Says Crypto Services Are in Increasing Demand

While not too many details on the offering have been given yet, it’s very likely Seba’s capabilities and platform are going to be used. In order to meet the rising need, Julius Baer will offer services such as crypto transaction solutions, custody of digital assets and overviews on a consolidated portfolio for both digital and traditional assets. According to their security, liquidity and technical robustness, the bank is going to select the most important cryptocurrencies. It hasn’t yet mentioned anything about the offered assets.

Seba is Fully Regulated

Seba was given its FINMA license at the same time with Sygnum. Back in December 2019, it started offering services to accredited and institutional investors from 9 new countries. It provides a wallet app plus banking and card facilities for more than 5 of the most important cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ether (ETH), Ether Classic (ETC) and Stellar (XLM).

Seba investors are also offered crypto to fiat and crypto to crypto conversion services. Furthermore, the bank gives enterprise accounts to blockchain companies and their employees. As reported, Sygnum is too looking to expand globally, as it’s in talk with regulators to obtain a license for banking in Singapore.

Blockchain Technology Can Change the Financial Services Game

Back in the fall of 2019, the chief strategist and head of research and investment solutions at Julius Baer, Christian Gattiker-Ericsson, said cryptocurrencies are in a “Darwinian” selection process, with the winner remaining to be determined. He also noted that blockchain technology can change the game when it comes to financial services.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Upbit Crypto Exchange Reopens Ethereum (ETH) Wallet Services After $49 Million Hack

Upbit, one of the major crypto exchanges in South Korea, has restarted Ethereum (ETH) wallet services almost 2 months after being attacked by hackers for $49 million ETH.

It has been officially made public that after an enhancement to its wallet security structure, Upbit is supporting deposits and withdrawals in ETH again. In a tweet from Monday, it has been indicated the services are again available. However, the traders will have to create new wallet addresses that will hold the ETH they have with the exchange, said the firm. The ETH will be automatically deposited to these new addresses.

$49 Million ETH Stolen in a Transaction

Back in November 26, 2019, Upbit said it had a transaction that it called “abnormal”, through which approximately 342,000 ETH straight from its hot wallet went missing, which was valued at about $49 million. The rest of the digital assets remaining were transferred into cold storage as a measure of precaution. While users didn’t have their funds in any way affected, nor emptied, Lee Seok-woo, Upbit’s CEO, made a statement in which he said the trading functions on the company’s platform will be temporarily suspended. After a few days, hackers did something else and split the ETH they stolen among a few wallet addresses.

Voices Saying the Funds Were Laundered

A crypto analyst said the hacking group may send small amounts through the rival exchange Huobi to test if they can launder the funds. The Upbit announcement says users should delete their addresses from before, as the wallets associated with them can no longer be used. It also stated that:

“The recovery of ETH sent to previous addresses from now could be long and costly process.”

In spite of the fact that it had lost millions, Upbit assured its users that they will receive a full refund with its corporate assets.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Dubai Real Estate Firm And Huobi Exchange Partner To Allow Investors To Pay In Crypto

Huobi, one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges, has closed a partnership with a United Arab Emirates (UAE) real estate firm to enable cryptocurrency payments for industry-related investors.

The firm is called fäm Properties and conducts its activity in Dubai. As soon as its partnership with Huobi will start to take effect, real estate investors will be able to make Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH) and other important crypto payments, stablecoins included. This is supposed to bring more liquidity and stability to the real estate market. This is what the real estate firm’s CEO, Feras Al Msaddi, had to say about the partnership:

“This partnership will provide our clients immense opportunity and the ease of investing in prime locations in the UAE. Cryptocurrencies are becoming an increasingly popular payment method all over the world, and this added choice will increase our property transactions and bring more value to the real estate market here.”

Huobi Will Make Crypto to Fiat Conversions for the Firm

Huobi is licensed by the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) and will ensure that fäm is conducting legal transactions. One of Huobi OTC at DMCC’s co-founders, Mohit Davar, said the company will provide liquidity for fäm and facilitate its payments made in virtual money. He explained in an interview for Zawya.com that:

“If someone wants to buy property and use crypto as a payment currency, then we will help facilitate that transaction and sell their cryptocurrency and make the payment to fäm in fiat currency.”

AMEinfo says Huobi OTC supports fiat currencies like the US dollar, the Euro, the British pound and the UAE dirham.

UAE’s Real Estate Market Has Been Embracing Blockchain Tech and Digital Assets

The UAE’s real estate market has been very open to blockchain tech and digital assets. Only in October last year, Emaar Properties, the company that has developed the Burj Khalifa, has released its blockchain-based tokenized system for its most loyal clients and referrals, after it announced it has the intention to release a token and to hold in Europe an initial coin offering.

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Author: Oana Ularu

MetaMask’s Crypto Wallet App Back On Google Play For Android’s After Being Banned

MetaMask’s Ban from Google Play Has Been Lifted

MetaMask, one of the major Ethereum wallet services and browser extensions, has something else to celebrate besides entering the new year, as Google has lifted its browser add-on ban.

This is what MetaMask has tweeted on January 1, 2020:

MetaMask Was Mistaken for Being a Mining App by Google

A Chrome extension, MetaMask has a built-in crypto wallet that enables the running of dApps, which are Ethereum-based decentralized apps, without the operation of a full Ethereum node. Google decided a week ago to suspend the MetaMask Android client in Google Play, as Goggle has a strict policy when it comes to cryptocurrency apps that mine on mobile devices. MetaMask doesn’t do this, so Google has made a mistake regarding its activity.

Also Read: CT Boycotting YouTube to Protest Against Google’s Unexplained Crypto Censorship

MetaMask’s Appeal Rejected by Google

On December 26, MetaMask tweeted about the ban and added that Google Play rejected its appeal. It also released a new year thread in which it was thanking its users for their suggestions on alternative distributions methods for the period in which it was being blacklisted by Google. MetaMask wanted to mention the experience made its community more resilient and stronger.

Problems with the MetaMask Team?

At the end of December 2019, one of MetaMask contributors said the MetaMask team is overwhelmed and not supported by ConsensSys, its parent firm. It was also stated the project’s workflow is not decentralized, nor transparent. The code was claimed to be lacking high-quality and to have technical debt.

Daniel Finlay, a MetaMask employee, responded to these comments by saying the contributor’s tone is too “inflammatory and alarmist” for someone who isn’t a fully-fledged MetaMask team member. However, Finlay mentioned the criticism regarding the code is indeed accurate. He added how grateful MetaMask is for the support offered by Joe Lubin and ConsenSys for the project.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Bitcoin Price to Experience another Holiday Christmas-induced Pump?

  • Bitcoin registers upward price movement across major holidays
  • Google Searches for Bitcoin climbs immediately ahead of holidays only to drop during them
  • BTC movement during holidays might have become a self-fulfilling prophecy

In late November, we talked about how we need to Get Ready for a Thanksgiving Day after Spike in Bitcoin Price” as past data suggested a jump. And we did see a spike as BTC went from $7,400 to $7,640 and then another hike the next day to above $7,800.

So, are we going to experience yet another holiday-induced pump?

As per SFOX’s update on Bitcoin price increase during holidays from early December, which hasn’t been because of FOMO this time has crypto traders watching Bitcoin closely.

Holidays it says have correlated with temporary upswings in BTC’s price, particularly if they coincide with bull runs.

What’s Coming our Way? -8% or +12%

Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November had BTC in the midst of a three-day climb in price. After bottoming out at $6,515 on Nov. 25, the price rebounded 20.8% in the following four days as it peaks at $7,870 on Nov. 29. But then on Dec. 2, the price fell back to $7,345.

Though there is no knowing with certainty that the Thanksgiving holiday played a role in this rebound, the data is consistent with the crypto performance data during holidays.

On Labor Day, Sept. 2, BTC price increased about 5% and a similar behavior was seen over the Fourth of July when BTC jumped 14% between July 2 and July 4.

SFOX also found that Bitcoin holiday performance correlated with increases in the relative volume of Google searches for “bitcoin’. Relative Google search volume for ‘bitcoin’ peaked before major US holidays only to bottom out during the events themselves.

Google search volume for ‘bitcoin’ in the past 7-days, Source: Google Trends

If we take a look at the past performance of the leading cryptocurrency on the two days before Christmas, bitcoin recorded negative returns on both the days. However, the Christmas Eve day has been a positive one majority of the time but by a small percentage only.

The day after Christmas Eve has been a much positive day with an average of 2.57% and a maximum of 12.28% spike. For the last 3 years, we have been seeing greens on this day.

Source: twitter.com/Bitdealer_/status/1209254260183056385

A Self-fulfilling Prophecy?

So, what’s behind this upsurge? Previously it has been analyzed that it could be because of families getting together and experiencing FOMO, leading to researching and purchasing BTC.

However, the most recent data shows Google searches peaking before holidays and not after. As such the FOMO might not be a plausible explanation rather it could be whale movement.

Whale Alert that tracks and alerts its audience of large transactions made on Bitcoin and other major blockchains shared with SFOX that its large following on Twitter might “actually influence the price in itself.”

It could also be simply traders expecting the market to move during the holidays.

“Market participants could be researching BTC’s position ahead of holidays and then taking long positions in BTC in an expectation of a short-term price increase over the holiday, creating a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that actually does drive the price of BTC up in the short term.”

Regardless of the forces behind BTC’s holiday behavior, the flash cryptocurrency remains sensitive to major US holidays and now it needs to be seen how do we fare on Christmas and the New Year eve this time.

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Author: AnTy

OKEx Crypto Exchange To Integrate DAI Savings Rate On The 23rd, Users Can Earn 4% By Staking

The crypto exchange OKEx is about to become one of the major platforms integrating the Dai Savings Rate (DSR) and allowing stablecoin holders to earn a return of 4%.

MakerDAO, which is the autonomous and decentralized organization that’s behind Dai, made an announcement on Tuesday, an announcement in which it says on December 23, OKEx is going to integrate the DSR for its users.

OKEx Users to be Able to Directly Deposit Dai

As soon as this will happen, OKEx users will be able to make direct Dai deposits and stake in the DSR in order to earn the 4% savings rate, plus another reward offered by the exchange. Someone from OKEx said the exchange is going to offer the 40% yearly yield to new users, in the December 17 – December 23 period:

“Users can stake a minimum of 10 DAI or a maximum of 2,000 DAI during the 40% annualized yield bonus period. The maximum bonus would be 2,000 * 40% / 365 * 7 = 15.34 DAI.”

Bonuses for Inviting New People

More than this, OKEx users will also receive a bonus for inviting new users that register on the platform. Each user can invite 3 more people, receiving for each the 3 Dai bonus. This is how the spokesperson explained the system:

“For example, user A invites new user B during the staking promotion period. After user B registered an account and holds a daily average of 1,000 DAI in his account, user A can get 3 DAI invitation bonus and user B can enjoy DSR 40% annualized yield for 7 days. If user B holds 2,000 DAI daily during the special bonus period, he can get 2,000 * 40% / 365 * 7 = 15.34 DAI bonus after the promotion period ends.”

No Minimum or Maximum Deposit

MakerDAO mentions there isn’t a maximum or minimum for deposits, nor there are any fees, when it comes to getting started with the DSR. After an executive vote last month, the company activated the DSR. In an announcement made on Tuesday, it said users from all over the world have more than 16 million Dai locked in the DSR contract, in only 3 weeks since the launch.

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Author: Oana Ularu