BTC Direct Raises $13 Million in Series A Funding; Bringing New Life to the Crypto Broker

BTC Direct, a Netherland-based fiat-to-crypto gateway platform, has raised around $13 Million in a Series A funding round. The funding round has brought in a new lease of life for the startup, which has been funded and run by its founders. The lead investors of the Series A remain undisclosed.

Toon Schraven, head of marketing and communications at BTC Direct, revealed that the Series A funding round was backed by a European investment group and several other private investors. The platform revealed that it would utilize the new funds to expand its workforce and expand its services and develop new products. The firm would also utilize a portion of the fund for broadening its marketing efforts.

The fiat-to-crypto gateway was launched in 2013 as a crypto brokerage service, which later started to offer fiat-to-crypto on-ramp to crypto exchange wallets service providers. Apart from the brokerage and gateway services, BTC Direct also runs a crypto trading app known as BLOX and a private trading desk and hardware wallet service.

Mike Hutting, the CEO of BTC Direct, commented on Series A to find raise and said that the funding round would surely boost their morals and services. They are planning to utilize these funds to make their platform more user-friendly and develop new products. He said,

“Continuous focus is being spent on product development and broadening our marketing efforts.”

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Block.One to Offer Enterprise Blockchain Service Via It’s New ‘EOSIO for Business’ Platform

Block.one, the developer platform behind the EOS network, has launched an Enterprise-grade blockchain solution called EOSIO for Business. The new enterprise platform would allow businesses to leverage their offering on the decentralized tech.

The business platform offers four modes to its clients, which can be utilized to build and maintain blockchain-based infrastructure. The four modes include Blockchain-as-a-Service (BAAS), training businesses on utilizing the platform, technical support, and a certification program.

Ted Cahall, Block.one’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) commented on the launch of the enterprise-grade blockchain solution and said,

“Despite knowing the inherent benefits that blockchain will deliver to their business operations, many in-house product engineering teams are wary of the complexity involved in setting up and administering their blockchain.”

“Our EOSIO for Business customers will be able to work directly with EOSIO experts to ensure that their implementations seamlessly integrate with existing technology, and they will also have exclusive access to the newest EOSIO features and upgrades.”

How EOSIO Promises To Help Enterprises Scale?

The new enterprise-grade blockchain solution from Block.one promises to help businesses grow and scale via its platform without worrying about the technical aspect and maintenance of the services. This part would be taken care of by Block.one itself whose BaaS service would include complete technical support along with maintenance of the EOSIO network

The consulting and certification part of the platform would make it more interactive and help the businesses utilize the decentralized tech as per their business model. The EOS engineers promise to help these enterprises to grow without worrying about maintenance or technical complexities.

Mythical Games is one of the first business rosters for the EOSIO platform. Rudy Koch, co-founder and SVP of Business Development at Mythical Games, said that their association with the EOSIO platform had enabled them to meet their goals. He said,

“At Mythical, we are redefining game economies and creating new revenue opportunities by putting more power and ownership in the hands of players and content creators. EOSIO is an integral part of our efforts.

Leveraging Block.one’s EOSIO BaaS service enables us to continue delivering world-class game technology products to our players and partners.”

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Bitfinex and Celsius Partner to Let Users Earn Rewards for Holding Bitcoin & Ethereum

Celsius Network, a crypto lending, and borrowing platform partners with Bitfinex exchange to offer yield services to over 100,000 Bitfinex users. Celsius, which already offers its Ethereum holders a 9.65% interest rate and 6.2% for bitcoin users, would now offer its services to Bitfinex customers under the new collaboration.

The partnership would allow Bitfinex users to create a wallet with the Celsius Network and manage it without a need to switch between two platforms. This partnership would also allow Bitfinex users to withdraw their digital assets from the Celsius wallet at any given time without any additional fees for withdrawal or deposit.

The partnership would see interests being generated daily and later compounded for the next day, and the payout would be made by Celsius every week. The yield contract would also have the provision for auto-renewals for extending the custody beyond the set period or when the term expires.

Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius Network, commented on their association with Celsius and believed that the partnership would help both the firms extend their services to a new set of users. He said,

“Our integration with Bitfinex extends the mission and focus of both companies to bring the next 100 million people into the crypto community and do it while we do good before we all do well.

Celsius’s commitment to reward our users with 80% of the value we create is now available to all Bitfinex customers.”

Celsius to Bring More Liquidity For Bitfinex

The partnership between Celsius and Bitfinex is expected to help the exchange to bring in more liquidity for both the platforms. This would be possible because of Celsius’s lending policy, where the startup lends its digital assets to miners, investment funds, retail investors, and other digital asset companies ‘on a guaranteed and collateralized basis.’

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Author: Hank Klinger

Contour Trade Finance Platform Backed by HSBC Launches; Reducing LC Processing Time by 90%

Contour, a blockchain-based trade finance platform, has gone live after a successful beta testing phase. The trade finance platform aims to optimize the traditional financial system by digitizing them and putting them on a blockchain. The trade finance platform is backed by 8 major banks, including HSBC, Citi, ING, Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC, Standard Chartered, and SEB.

The platform was launched back in 2017 as Voltron built on top of the R3s Corda Platform. The platform promise to ease up the slow bureaucratic process for several institutions and companies via a global blockchain network. HSBC tweeted about the official launch of the platform and said,

“We’re excited to announce the world’s first global, decentralized, digital trade finance platform using #Blockchain technology has gone live this week to coincide with #Sibos2020:”

However, it is also important to note that the network is a private blockchain that would be exclusively available for partner companies for data sharing. Thus, even though HSBC’s tweet calls the platform a decentralized network, it is not centralized in the traditional sense.

How Would Contour Optimize Traditional Trade Finance?

After its launch, the first goal for Contour would be to optimize the letter of credit (LC) process among parties, which, on average, takes 10 days to process currently. With Contour’s blockchain system, the time consumed for processing would be reduced by 1/10th, taking around 24 hours.

Contour would develop a rulebook and membership agreement system, which would allow for the reduction of processing time by 90%.

Carl Wegner, the CEO of the platform, explained how the rulebook would help in optimizing the process and said,

“The rulebook is really important. Rather than having to string together four or five different legal agreements between the buyer, seller, buyer’s banks, and seller’s banks, which was very onerous, we now have a rulebook which makes it very easy for everybody to sign up and know what their roles and responsibilities are.”

With the official launch of the platform, all the existing members would migrate to the main net. However, it is unclear how many other members are on the platform apart from the official partners.

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Author: James W

Mobile Crypto Wallet BRD Hits 6 Million Users; Sets Target on 10M by Early 2021

Bread, (BRD), a Zurich based crypto wallet provider, announced on Oct 6 that the platform has hit 6 million users globally. These numbers have been particularly driven by the high adoption rates in Latin America and India; the firm is now optimistic of hitting the 10 million mark within the first phase of 2021.

BRD has been in the game since 2015, but only skyrocketed its user acquisition this year. As recent as July, the digital wallet provider was only doing 550,000 Monthly Active Users and it took close to five years for the firm to hit 1 million. It now seems that the COVID-19 pandemic was a much-needed booster for this startup. The firm’s user base has been growing by about 1 million every 2 months.

According to BRD’s CEO Adam Traidman, the pandemic is causing most people to dig deeper into the fundamentals of existing systems, hence the reaction to optional markets such as crypto,

“It’s causing a lot of thinking about money and finances. People have had a lot more time over the last six months to look at their investments and as a result of that, we found that for cryptocurrency in general, but especially for BRD’s business, we’ve been growing dramatically.”

Niche Markets

Adam went on to highlight that BRD’s dramatic growth has resulted from two groups of users; millennials and those affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first group, which happens to be very speculative and tech-savvy leverage platforms like Robinhood, access traditional markets instead of brokerage firms. The latter mostly compose of individuals looking to hedge for inflation or currency devaluation in shaky economies like Argentina and Venezuela.

Also Read: Bitcoin Scales Just Fine As A Store Of Value Says MicroStrategy CEO

BRD’s recent success is a culmination of fundamentals, including its non-custodial crypto wallet that allows users to retain control of their digital assets. According to the firm, this saves the hustle of a lengthy registration process, limiting most people from being onboarded into a financial ecosystem. BRD users can also use their bank accounts or Apple Pay to acquire cryptocurrencies. The startup has had quite successful funding rounds, with the latest being a series B that raised $15 million back in Jan 2019.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Europe Based Exchange, Bitpanda, Launches the First ‘Real’ Cryptocurrency Index For Investors

  • Europe-based cryptocurrency virtual asset trading platform Bitpanda is launching its own crypto assets index.
  • The Bitpanda Crypto Index (BCI) will include top cryptocurrencies aiming to make it simpler for investors and traders to trade complex crypto products.

In a press release statement emailed to the BEG desk, Bitpanda confirmed it would launch ‘the world’s first real crypto index’ on October 6th. The index aims at making the purchase and selling of crypto assets easy, allowing traders to buy multiple cryptocurrencies with a single click.

According to the statement, the BCI is centered on traders and investors who aim to enter professional crypto trading without the hustle. Users can buy a selected list of cryptocurrencies in three main indices – the BCI Top 5 (BCI5), BCI Top 10 (BCI10), and the BCI Top 25 (BCI25) index. The portfolio then rebalances automatically every month based on the market liquidity and the price and market capitalization. The statement reads,

“The Index automatically adjusts the weightings of assets in portfolios over time, so users never feel like they’re missing out on “the next big thing.”

Over the past year, cryptocurrency trading has once again taken a front foot in traders’ minds across the world. Despite this increasing appetite, there is a lack of suitable financial products for users to invest as a whole, rather than individual assets. This reduces the overall volatility while keeping the portfolio diversified and balanced.

Eric Demuth, Co-Founder and CEO of Bitpanda, praised the BCI regulated product will index initiative stating the index “brings the world one step closer to the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.” Eric further said,

“Apart from making crypto investments super easy, our Indices will help you build a diversified portfolio of assets by tracking the market as a whole. Think of it as a more grown-up, guess-free version of crypto investing.”

The index launch follows a $52 million Series A funding raised by Bitpanda in 2020 led by Valar Ventures. This is the largest European funding round in 2020, yet with a plan to scale its market base and increase its trading platform. The raise will further allow the Vienna-based exchange to start offering stock exchange markets to its customers.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Digital Asset Trading Platform eToro Rolls Out Cardano (ADA) And Tron (TRX) Staking Service

Popular trading platform, eToro, announced on Thursday that it would provide staking rewards for cryptocurrencies starting with Cardano (ADA) and Tron (TRX).

The multi-asset exchange stated that clients that own these cryptocurrencies, ADA, or TRX, would have a chance to earn rewards by staking, which will be paid out monthly. The firm also revealed that it plans to introduce other assets later, but hasn’t revealed what the next digital assets would be.

According to the press statement, the system is fully automated, and users will not need to do anything extra but just trade these assets like normal.

The rewards will be calculated by taking a daily snapshot, which will be taken at 00:00 GMT. The automated system calculates the staking rewards based on the snapshot and distributes them at month-end according to the average daily position size. This means that traders who will change their positions on these cryptocurrencies over the course of the month will see their staking rewards change.

Like most proof of staking (PoS) tokens, investors will need to hold the assets for a certain number of days before they receive the first reward. However, the amount of time required is variable. For Cardano, one must hold the asset for nine days.

According to the press release, the rewards will be compounded on a monthly basis. It says:

“Clients staking on eToro benefit from doing so on a regulated and globally trusted platform. We also believe staking rewards on our platforms are among the most generous in the market, from a minimum of 75% of the staking yield.”

In late July, Cardano introduced staking on its mainnet following a successful trial using an incentivized testnet. In the recent past, staking as a service has gained prominence, and eToro will now be competing with various exchanges and independent staking providers such as Binance, Coinbase, Bison Trials, and many more.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Binance Launches Decentralized Stablecoin Via; Forked From Compound & MakerDAO

On September. 28, Binance announced the launch of Venus Protocol, an algorithmic money market platform that allows borrowing of over-collateralized loans, lending, and generation of new synthetic stablecoins, VAI. According to a tweet by Joselito Lizarondo, founder of Swipe Wallet and Venus Protocol, the BSC-based platform is a fork from Compound (COMP) and Maker (MKR).

Venus does not include any VC pre-mined tokens or team allocation funds in a bid to fully decentralize the project. The VAI token is a multi-collateralized stablecoin offering cross-chain collateral with other crypto assets based in the BEP-20 format.

The platform allows over-collateralized lending with 75% or lower of the assets supplied on the Venus Protocol and interest-earning on collateral supplied. Users can also stake their vTokens (e.g., vETH) to mint VAI stablecoin, which is pegged to the dollar at a ratio of 1:1. The statement from Binance reads,

“VAI is minted by the same collateral that is supplied to the protocol. Users can borrow up to 50% of the remaining collateral value they have on the protocol from their vTokens to mint VAI”.

The protocol is, however, governed by its governance token, XVS, which allows users to vote on issues on the platform such as adding collateral assets, initiating product developments, and major changes on Venus. At the start, Swipe wallet’s native token, SXP, will be used for governance “until there’s enough quorum of XVS mined to be sufficiently decentralized,” Lizarondo said.

A total of 20% of the mined XVS tokens will be allocated to the Binance launch pool, 1% to the Binance Chain Ecosystem, and the rest will be distributed to the miners. A total of 30 million XVS governance tokens will be mined by May 2024. Miners will be able to stake their Binance Coin (BNB), Binance USD stablecoin (BUSD), and Swipe’s SXP tokens to receive XVS tokens.

Binance also announced the XVS trading pairs would be listed in its Innovation zone, including the XVS/BTC, XVS/USDT, XVS/BUSD, and XVS/BNB pairs.

In September 2019, BEG reported Binance’s Venus project launch as a government-friendly replacement of Facebook-led stablecoin, Libra. But the Venus Protocol was clear to say that this wasn’t the same as the open project from Binance.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ant Group Launches Blockchain-Powered Cross-border Trade Settlement Platform ‘Trusple’

Ant Group, owner of mobile payment app Alipay, launched a blockchain-powered platform for cross-border trade settlements this week. The move came ahead of its IPO, which it plans to list in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s STAR Market next month simultaneously.

The 16-year old giant, which is backed by e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group, is seeking to raise about $35 billion in the dual IPO to become the world’s largest IPO by surpassing oil giant Saudi Aramco’s billion last December.

Previously known as Ant Financial, Ant was rebranded this year as a tech firm due to tighter financial regulations.

Ant is known for submitting the most number of blockchain patent applications globally, over the past two years. The technology saw a surge in interest after President Xi Jinping said last year that the country should accelerate its development.

Its new platform, “Trusple,” is based on Antchain, the company’s blockchain technology.

On this platform, buyers and sellers upload their orders, which automatically generate smart contracts with information like logistics. The banks then process payments using Antchain.

The users of the platform could also include vendors that sell to other businesses through marketplaces like Alibaba’s overseas e-commerce site, AliExpress.

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Author: AnTy

Polkadot (DOT) Integrates Bluzelle’s Decentralized Data Oracles To Boost DeFi App Development

  • Bluzelle, a distributed oracle platform, announced a partnership with the blockchain research and development firm, Web3 Foundation (W3F), to integrate its decentralized data oracle on Polkadot.
  • This blockchain will offer developers the ability to build cross-chain applications.

According to a release on Medium, Bluzelle aims to bring “distributed storage capabilities” to projects building dApps on Polkadot ranging from decentralized finance dApps to gaming applications. The partnership between the two blockchain firms aims at directly taking up market share on the burgeoning DeFi apps market.

Polkadot’s founder, Gavin Wood (also the founder of W3F), said the partnership with Bluzelle would help in the quick transition of apps to the Web3 phase by leveraging the decentralized storage and trusted data oracles provided by the latter firm.

Polkadot is steadily improving cross-chain interaction between dApps in a bid to switch the web to Web3 standard entirely. In August, the Polkadot team announced the launch of its first parachain implementation testnet, Rococo, removing the need for relay chains. The Bluzelle integration will enhance development on Polkadot-based parachains by offering an architecture that “aligns with that of Polkadot” and “retains access to a reliable data network.”

Additionally, the oracles will provide DeFi projects with historical price data allowing the statistical analysis of token prices. Smart contracts rely on historical on-chain data to keep the market prices in check; hence projects using the decentralized oracles on Polkadot will be resilient to data manipulation attacks.

Bluzelle will be made available to all projects building on Polkadot’s Substrate framework.

Bluzelle is a delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) blockchain-powered by Cosmos, claiming to handle over 10,000 transactions per second (TPS). Such infrastructure is a crucial feature to the growing DeFi market to provide scalability and cheap transaction fees – something that the current DeFi-leading platform, Ethereum, is suffering from. Pavel Bains, CEO of Bluzelle, said the consensus infrastructure would remain on Cosmos and further stating the embryonic stage of Polkadot’s integration:

“At this time, there is not anything built to show. It’s early stages. We are working with a number of DOT projects already.”

In February, BEG reported Polkadot’s integration of decentralized data oracle, Chainlink, becoming the first blockchain outside Ethereum to integrate the latter.

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Author: Lujan Odera