Visa Launches NFT Support Program, Stripe Sees Crypto’s Potential of Faster and Cheap Payments

Visa Launches NFT Support Program, Stripe Sees Crypto’s Potential of Faster and Cheap Payments

Payments giant Visa is launching a non-fungible token (NFT) support program in partnership with Major League Baseball player turned NFT artist Micah Johnson. With this program, the idea is to support artists who want to sell NFTs of their artwork.

Johnson is the creator of animated astronaut Aku which was released on Nifty Gateway in February this year and sold for more than $2 million.

“Working together [with Visa], we want to arm creators with the resources they need to stay at the forefront of this revolution,” Johnson said in a statement.

There is an application process to participate in the program for which Visa will select a small group of creators and help them learn about blockchain and the crypto industry.

“We believe that we are at the beginning of a digital renaissance in the world of art and content creation,” Visa’s Head of Crypto Cuy Sheffield wrote on Twitter.

“New technologies emerging in the crypto ecosystem, like NFTs, have the potential to lower the barrier to entry for digital creators across the world to build their own small businesses.”

Another payment company Stripe has also jumped into the crypto scene. As we reported two weeks back, Stripe has been hiring an engineer for its brand new “Crypto” team, and this week, the company made the official announcement.

The crypto engineering team that Stripe has begun assembling will be run by the company’s former head of engineering for banking and financial products, Guillaume Poncin.

Those engineers “will design and build the core components that we need to support crypto use cases,” the job posts said. “Crypto is a brand new team at Stripe.”

Stripe first supported Bitcoin in 2014, only to end it four years later. But the $95 billion company says it never left and continues to watch the space develop, and this time, it will remain tech-neutral and won’t be picking any favorites.

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Author: AnTy

Insurance Giant Sees Bitcoin As A “Store Of Value” And A “Potential For Significant Price Appreciation”

Insurance Giant Sees Bitcoin As A “Store Of Value” And A “Potential For Significant Price Appreciation”

MassMutual CIO says it would take multiple market cycles to determine if Bitcoin serves as an inflation hedge. Meanwhile, Billionaire private equity investor Orlando Bravo asks, “How could you not love crypto?”

Billionaire private equity investor Orlando Bravo revealed that he is a Bitcoiner and is “very bullish” on cryptocurrency.

“How could you not love crypto?” said Bravo at this week’s Delivering Alpha conference on CNBC.

Bravo is the founder of Thoma Bravo and has a net worth of $6.3 billion. His firm has invested in the crypto derivatives platform FTX. On Wednesday, he shared that he personally owns Bitcoin.

“Crypto is just a great system. It’s frictionless. It’s decentralized. And young people want their own financial system. So it is here to stay.”

“For me, it’s pretty simple. More people are going to use it in the future than today, and it’s going to be more established. Institutions are just beginning to go there, and once that happens, I think it will increase significantly over the years. I’m very bullish.”

According to Bravo, regardless of what protocol or system one is building on, the underlying blockchain technology can be “very powerful” and “provide better use cases than data-based software.”

New And Still Undergoing Price Discovery

Much like Bravo, Chief Investment Officer of MassMutual, an insurance company with $616 billion assets under management, is bullish on the future of cryptocurrencies.

In a LinkedIn post titled “Bitcoin and beyond: evolving for the digital world of tomorrow,” published on Thursday, ​​Tim Corbett talked about Bitcoin has the potential of being a store of value over the long term.

MassMutual first ventured into cryptocurrency last year with an investment in Bitcoin for its General Investment Account (GIA).

“We have come to believe that cryptocurrency and the blockchain ecosystem have the potential for significant growth and transformation across our industry, amongst others, in the years to come,” as such the company found it imperative to invest in crypto itself and lay the groundwork for ways to incorporate it into their business.

Corbett further wrote that they have come to “view bitcoin as a potential store of value over the long-term.”

According to him, Bitcoin may also serve as a “digital gold,” thanks to its unique characteristics including digital scarcity, known supply growth, transfer characteristics, and hard cap, “with the potential for significant price appreciation.”

Overall, he says the “asset class is new and still undergoing price discovery,” with significant uncertainty, risk, and volatility, which is expected to decrease as more institutions join in but added that,

“it will take multiple market cycles before we have robust data to further describe the characteristics of the investment, such as correlations to other asset classes or whether it will serve as an inflation hedge.”

Still, Bitcoin is not untested, and while the regulatory environment is still developing, Corbett says thoughtful and prudent regulation will accelerate the industry while protecting investors.

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Author: AnTy

Future of Digital Yen to Gain Clarity in 2022; CBDC Has Potential to Reshape Japan’s Financial Industry

Future of Digital Yen to Gain Clarity in 2022; CBDC Has Potential to Reshape Japan’s Financial Industry

Japan’s Central Bank could issue its central bank digital currency (CBDC) by the end of next year.

This was made known by Hideki Murai, who runs the Liberal Democratic Party’s panel on cryptos. Murai believes the country would have a clearer picture of what to expect concerning a digital yen by 2022, Reuters reports.

How CBDC Would Affect Financial Institutions

The lawmaker said there is no immediate decision regarding the issuance of a CBDC.

“If the BOJ were to issue CBDC, it would have a huge impact on financial institutions and Japan’s settlement system. CBDC has the potential to completely reshape changes occurring in Japan’s financial industry.”

Murai also spoke on issues concerning whether the digital yen will supersede or interfere with private business when issued.

The country’s financial industry is already facing major changes. This is because non-bank retailers are venturing into the turf of commercial banks by offering various online settlement services.

Murai said that if CBDC is designed in a way that makes banks key intermediaries, this could shift business and data away from such retailers back to the banks.

Away from internal issues, Murai noted that the Bank of Japan should ensure that the digital yen is compatible with CBDCs of other developed countries. This is to ensure it can compete with China’s digital yuan.

Bank Of Japan Trailing Behind China

Although several Central banks have hastened efforts to develop CBDCs in their various countries, China remains at the forefront.

The People’s Bank of China is currently launching trials across the country as it accelerates efforts to digitize its national currency. China expects to have its CBDC in circulation to an extent by the time the Winter Olympics in Beijing comes in February next year.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ), on the other hand, only began its CBDC project a few months ago. The bank introduced a liaison and coordination committee focused on CBDC in March. In April this year, it began the first phase of CBDC experiments with the second phase scheduled for next year.

The Bank of Japan had previously stressed its unreadiness in issuing a CBDC. However, this latest statement from a public official suggests the bank’s willingness to pursue a CBDC issuance sooner.

Murai’s comment also comes after former top Japanese financial regulator Toshihide Endo said when China launches its CBDC proper, negative perceptions around digital currencies will change.

According to him, China’s progress in issuing its digital yuan will push advanced economies into following suit.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Cboe Files for Investment Giant Fidelity’s Bitcoin ETF

Cboe says concerns about potential manipulation of a Bitcoin ETF have been “sufficiently mitigated” as it acknowledges that it will be listing and trading shares of the Wise Origin’s product.

Cboe BZX Exchange has filed a 19b-4 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acknowledging that it will be listing and trading shares of the Wise Origin’s Bitcoin exchange-traded product, saying concerns about potential manipulation of a Bitcoin ETF have been “sufficiently mitigated.”

With this move, it has kicked off the process to the SEC.

Wise Origin, a fund affiliated with Fidelity Investments, first filed the application for its Bitcoin ETF in March. However, for the SEC to consider it, they need an exchange partner to file a corresponding 19b-4 form, which Cboe did on Monday.

Now, it’s the agency’s turn to make a move within 45 days to make a decision on the ETF application. Typically, SEC has taken the full 240 days to evaluate a bitcoin ETF application and has rejected every single one of them so far.

With the appointment of new SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, who is expected to be more crypto-friendly than his predecessor Jay Clayton, along with the matured market, there is a higher expectation for a crypto ETF to be finally approved this year.

Last week, Gensler told Congress that the crypto market “could benefit from greater investor protection.”

Bitcoin market participants claim that such a product would bring in a horde of new investors, including those who either can’t invest in the cryptocurrency directly or who are only able to invest in regulated investment vehicles.

Already, VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF application is undergoing the SEC review, a decision on which was postponed by the agency for June. VanEck, along with WisdomTree and Kryptcoin, have also filed with Cboe exchange. Another company is Valkyrie which is working with NYSE Arca for its Bitcoin ETF.

Last week, VanEck also filed for an Ether ETF, which along with other Bitcoin ETF applications from SkyBridge, NYDIG, and Galaxy Digital, have filed the requisite 19b-4 forms.

Amidst this, Ninepoint Partners LP, which has $6.5 billion in assets under management, is dedicating a portion of its crypto ETFs management fee to offset the fund’s carbon footprint. Alex Tapscott, managing director of digital assets at the Toronto-based firm said,

“For some investors who are concerned about the carbon footprint of mining, they may be wary of investing in a Bitcoin ETF.”

“What we’re doing is creating what we hope is a solution to that problem and giving them the choice that they want and, frankly, that they need.”

Ninepoint is partnering with CarbonX to purchase carbon credits and support forest conservation projects. The company’s Bitcoin ETF was converted from a trust on May 6 and had roughly $320 million in assets at the time.

Alan Howard-backed One River Asset Management is another company that is building carbon neutrality into its existing Bitcoin and Ether funds and planning to seek regulatory approval for an ETF with the same features.

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Author: AnTy

Rise in Digital Payments has India Exploring the Potential of Digital Rupee

Rise in Digital Payments has India Exploring the Potential of Digital Rupee

While India has had an often adversarial, murky attitude towards digital assets and cryptocurrencies, the Reserve Bank of India is currently contemplating whether there is a need for a digital version of its sovereign currency, the Rupee. Along with creating a crypto-based iteration of it, the RBI is also hypothesizing how best to operationalize it.

According to a booklet that was recently published by the RBI, this news covers the journey and evolution of payment and settlements systems in India from 2010-20. The Central Bank stated within its booklet,

“Private digital currencies (PDCs) / virtual currencies (VCs) / cryptocurrencies (CCs) have gained popularity in recent years. In India, the regulators and governments have been skeptical about these currencies and are apprehensive about the associated risks.”

“Nevertheless, RBI is exploring the possibility as to whether there is a need for a digital version of fiat currency and in case there is, then how to operationalize it.”

This conversation regarding the value of a digital version of India’s fiat stems from the rapid increase in digital payments; which are expected to increase threefold in the coming years. Even so, the RBI must contend with a considerable amount of skepticism, even hostility, towards cryptocurrencies from local regulators.

India’s Love-Hate Relationship with Crypto

India’s relationship with cryptocurrencies is a matter of common knowledge, having been opposed to their use for some time now. April 2018, for example, India joined China as the former’s RBI imposed a blanket ban on cryptocurrency transactions, which was only overturned in March 2020.

Though, India finds itself being the latest among a growing group of countries considering and testing CBDCs. The likes of Sweden and China having already tested their e-Kroner and digital yuan, respectively. The European Union and the U.S. are also getting work underway for a crypto-iteration of their fiat currencies.

Even so, RBI’s Governor, Shaktikanta Das has previously cooled the metaphorical jets of crypto enthusiasts; having commented in December 2019 that discussions were at an incredibly early stage.

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Author: James Fox

Pakistan Regulators Look to Build Friendly Framework for Digital Assets

Pakistan seems to realize the potential of digital assets in the financial future as the country seems geared up for formulating a new framework to regulate cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. This is highly bullish since Pakistan was among the very few countries that in mid-2018 blanket banned digital assets in any form. It wasn’t until April of 2019 that regulators started to change their minds.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), on November 6th, released a consultation paper about regulating digital assets. The paper mentioned that the finance ministry is looking to make new laws as they look at the regulatory frameworks set by other countries.

SECP believe digital assets is a “start of a new era of digital finance.” The consultation paper further noted that to propel this new digital finance era, a new set of frameworks would be required to drive its adoption.

“Digital assets also known as Virtual Assets, and Crypto Assets are the start of a new era of Digital Finance, and demand innovative regulatory measures and approaches by the regulators across the world.

This could only be possible by initiation of a new era that re-invents regulatory regime/measures as they are known to the regulators globally today.”

It is also important to note that many developed countries in the West are currently discussing launching a Central Bank-issued Digital Currency (CBDC); however, the consultation paper makes no mention of any such plans by Pakistani financial watchdog. At present, they are only focusing on regulating private digital assets such as bitcoin.

The paper made a note of two types of tokens, namely security tokens and utility tokens, where the regulatory body sees a security token as an important tool that might help in fractionalizing real-world assets and digitize them.

The paper mentions that they have 2 choices as regulators; restrict digital assets due to current rules or take a ‘let-things-happen’ approach. Which they mention that they are heavily leaning towards the do-no-harm approach.

The paper also welcomed feedback from the stakeholders of the decentralized space in developing the new framework.

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Author: James W

Malaysia Shariah Advisory Council Sees ‘Great Potential’ in Crypto; Unclear Laws Held Back Adoption

A Shariah Advisory Council chairman in Malaysia believes cryptocurrencies have great potential. The comments were made by Dr. Modh Daud Bakar, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) Shariah Advisory Council chairman. However, he also highlighted the challenges in adopting these digital assets, given the lack of understanding about the technology among the masses.

The chairman’s comments come just three months after a monumental judgment allowing transactions and trade of digital assets under the Islamic law.

Mr. Bakar made these bullish comments about cryptocurrencies during SCxSC Fintech Conference 2020 in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 6. At the conference, Mr. Bakar also noted that only 2% of Malaysians know about the nascent technology. He said that since digital assets were not considered a legal tender under Islamic laws, it was seen as a commodity, quite similar to gold and silver. Bakar explained during the conference,

“It is a medium of exchange, and we cannot stop people [from using] commodities as a medium of exchange. It is as good as buying an e-ticket or commodities in the market.”

“The acceptance of digital assets] can open up so many interesting areas in Malaysia, in which crypto can be deemed as investment assets where people can buy and hold for trading. The potential of this currency is as great as it comes with a growing digital economy of the world.”

How does Shariah Law see Digital Assets?

There has been a great debate on whether digit assets are acceptable under the Islamic laws with differences of opinion based on regions. However, in 2018 an advisor to the Indonesian FinTech firm declared Bitcoin as permissible under sharia law. In July this year, Malaysia’s council declared digital assets trading as permissible.

With a population of over 60% of Muslims, Malaysia has benefited the most from this decision. It helps further the adoption of digital assets and offers more exposure to the new population to nascent technology like Bitcoin. Bakar concluded,

“This has opened opportunities to take advantage of cryptos as a commodity or investment in a company.”

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Author: James W

CBDCs Are A Threat to The US Dollar’s Reign As The World’s Reserve Currency: Deutsche Bank

A new report by Deutsche Bank has acknowledged the potential of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) to disrupt the US dollar’s dominance as the most held reserve currency. This is not the first research that highlights such a possibility; previous reports by Bloomberg and German think tank, DGEN, have speculated similar situations as more Central Banks evaluate the feasibility of a CBDC.

The report, which is dubbed ‘Central Bank Digital Currencies; Money reinvented,’ was released in September and particularly highlighted that CBDCs could ‘erode the dollar’s primacy in the global financial market.’ Currently, the U.S dollar is involved in over 90% of global transactions and has been the world’s reserve currency since abolishing the gold standard.

This dominance is, however, at a threat given a sudden spike in CBDC interest and their value proposition to individual jurisdictions when it comes to oversight and bilateral trade. China, which appears to have taken the lead, is already piloting its digital yuan (e-RMB) in several cities, including Hong Kong and Beijing; the initiative began back in 2014 but was accelerated previously following Facebook’s intentions to launch Libra.

Though still at its early stages, the ongoing global tech wars seem to be in line with the digital yuans’ purpose as China looks to challenge the U.S economic supremacy. Deutsche Bank’s Chief Investment strategist, Gerit Heinz, told Coindesk that,

“The e-RMB and the Belt and Road Initiative would give China a chance to increase the importance of that currency overall … That could also imply some changes in the global reserve system.”

The report goes on to mention that around 80% of the world’s central banks have already begun active research into potential CBDCs. However, progress has been different for some countries already in the development and implementation phases. That said, Europe is also considering a digital Euro, although its progress is far behind compared to China. Heinz was keen to point out that societal underpinnings such as a democratic approach should have placed the continent ahead,

“In Europe, I would expect a lot of discussions about this. The euro, introduced as a currency decades ago, has triggered a lot of discussions.

So CBDC in a euro system of different countries would, of course, imply much more discussion than in a bigger, more centralized country like China.”

Being a relatively new concept, this report by Deutsche bank also highlighted that the current verifiable evidence is not sufficient enough to make conclusive speculations. Nonetheless, the bank noted it would follow CBDC developments more actively to provide informed updates on the impact of this upcoming class of legal tenders.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Ripple Gains Praise From US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau For Remittance Service

Ripple and XRP’s remittance potential in cross-border transfers has been recognized by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

According to a CFPB paper from May 11, the bureau responsible for providing the financial sector’s US consumers has been researching the remittance market’s new trends. Furthermore, it has been focusing on the continued expansion and growth of partnerships developed by digital asset companies such as Ripple.

XRP for Settling Cross-Border Transfers

In the same paper, the CFPB mentioned that XRP could be used for cross-border transfers. Also, Ripple’s products can give credit unions and banks exact information on how much remittance transfers’ recipients are going to receive before they’re even being sent anything.

The platform for global payments innovation (GPI) from SWIFT was mentioned in the paper too. This platform’s purpose is to speed up remittance by using the infrastructure banks from all over the world prefer to use.

SWIFT said it was considering using blockchain rails for its GPI solution ever since 2019, yet no update on this matter has been provided yet.

Ripple Pushes for XRP Adoption

In spite of showing support for Ripple, the CFPB doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about crypto company’s push for widespread adoption of the XRP. It concluded that any new solutions would most likely not eliminate the reliance on their correspondent banking network, as this what the market players’ feedback and the agency’s estimations have revealed.

Despite this, Ripple doesn’t give up, aiming at the financial mainstream. Only last month, it had Japan-based financial giant SBI Holdings, which it’s its investor and partner, announcing that Ripple-powered settlements are going to be integrated with ATMs all over Japan. According to market researcher Fundstrat, XRP was the weakest performing crypto asset since the beginning of 2020 until May.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Bitcoin Cash & Bitcoin SV Halving Next Week to Put Selling Pressure on Bitcoin as Well

  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin SV (BSV) halvings to “drastically” expose them to potential 51% attacks
  • A cycle of decreased profit margins, increased selling, capitulation, and a culling of the least efficient miners to take place

Crypto community is excited about the Bitcoin reward halving next month but interestingly bitcoin forks’ halving is here.

Bitcoin Core’s (BTC) fork Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and the latter’s fork Bitcoin SV (BSV) will go through their respective block reward halving on April 8 and April 9 next week.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin Cash has laid off 50% of its employees just days before its halving.

More Miners will Turn to Bitcoin

Both these Bitcoin’s forks will have their halving one month prior to bitcoin because of the very rapid block generation in Bitcoin Cash which started right after its fork in August 2017. However, the block production rate was later normalized with an update of the difficulty adjustment algorithm.

Now, these early halvings might have a “dramatic effect” on both BCH and BSV’s hash rate, according to Arcane Research. Currently, a vast majority of this hash rate share (94.8%) belongs to the world’s leading cryptocurrency and both BCH and BSV have a meager less than 3% share.

Source: Arcane Research

The halving event could be expected to have at least a temporary halving of the hash rate as the miners switch to mine BTC because mining Bitcoin will be more profitable than BCH and BSV.

Both the forks can capture the share only if their price or fees increases drastically or hash rate halves.

A decline in hash rate means both Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV will be “drastically” more exposed for potential 51% attacks.

Things could change when Bitcoin halving occurs in mid-May, however, the effect on BTC would be “minuscule” because it already accounts for almost 95% of SHA-256 hash rate.

Selling Pressure for All Three

In its latest report, Coin Metrics also discusses the effect of halving and that,

“miners are a continuous and significant source of selling pressure that has a pro-cyclical impact on prices.”

Miner-led selling pressure for all three of the cryptocurrencies is currently high which is only expected to increase further as all of them undergo their halvings. This is because all three assets share the same SHA-256 mining algorithm and miners can “seamlessly” redirect their hash power to the digital asset that provides the highest return.

BCH and BSV halving will force miners to direct more hash power to Bitcoin which is expected to increase the difficulty and further squeeze profit miners for all miners. Coin Metrics states,

“We expect miners to follow a cycle of decreased profit margins, increased selling, capitulation, and a culling of the least efficient miners from the network.

Once this cycle is complete, the miner industry should return to a healthier state that is supportive of future price increases.”

At the time of writing, Bitcoin (BTC) has been trading at $6,750 BTC -0.61, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at $235 BCH -2.65, and Bitcoin SV (BSV) at $177 BSV -1.86.

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Author: Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team