We’re Not A Bank & Don’t Want To Compete: Microsoft Pres. On Fintech Companies Issuing Currencies

We’re Not A Bank & Don’t Want To Compete With Them: Microsoft President On Fintech Companies Issuing Currencies

Brad Smith says governments are best placed for that role. Meanwhile, the company is asking its Xbox customers about Bitcoin as a payment method.

Microsoft President Brad Smith is not in favor of financial technology companies issuing currencies. According to him, governments are still best-placed for that.

“I’m not a big fan myself of encouraging or asking or wanting us to participate in the issuing of currency,” said Smith at an online conference hosted by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). He added,

“The money supply almost uniquely needs to be managed by an entity that is responsible to the public and thinks really only about the public interest, and that means governments.”

The world has been seeing a shift to digital payments accelerated by the pandemic. The massive amount of money printing as financial aid to help the economy recover has further fueled the interest in cryptos and Bitcoin as a hedge against inflation.

This has raised concerns among policymakers while central banks around the globe study issuing their own digital currencies. Smith said,

“I think the world has been better served by what has been a movement over centuries to put that in the hands of governments.”

“We’re not a bank, and we don’t want to become a bank, and we don’t want to compete with our customers who are banks.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft is asking its Xbox users about Bitcoin as a payment option.

The survey is part of the Xbox Insider Program for beta testing OS Updates. It asks a couple of questions, including your current payment method, your views on the several payment methods supported on Xbox, which other should be added, and if the lack of your preferred method prompted you not to purchase something from Xbox.

Back in 2014, Microsoft allowed its users to pay for Xbox games with BTC, but the feature has been no longer available.

Just yesterday, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, announced that the electric car maker accepts Bitcoin. He further said they wouldn’t be converting any BTC received in payment in fiat currency either, preferring to hold the cryptocurrency.

Tesla also divulged last month that it had invested $1.5 billion into Bitcoin, following which Smith said Microsoft didn’t have any investment in the cryptocurrency.

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Author: AnTy

Elon Musk: The “One Coin to Rule Them All” is Not Bitcoin

Elon Musk: The “One Coin to Rule Them All” is Not Bitcoin

Elon Musk continues to make headlines, and this time he tweeted that he “bought some Dogecoin for lil X, so he can be a toddler hodler.”

Doge continues to receive love from Musk, who time and again sends its price flying, currently trading at $0.072.

“The most ironic outcome would be Dogecoin becomes the currency of Earth in the future,” Musk said earlier this month.

Interestingly, sometime ago, Dogecoin decided to support merged mining with Litecoin and other Scrypt based coins, which allow users to mine DOGE and other coins at the same time. While the hash rate for DOGE is in line with LTC, the former remains less labor-intensive for the time being.

Now, the profitability of mining DOGE has matched LTC, which Denis Vinokourov of Bequant says “could herald the new era of flippening.”

Besides sending love towards DOGE, Musk also shared an important message saying, “Any crypto wallet that won’t give you your private keys should be avoided at all costs.”

This advice came in regards to the FreeWallet app sharing DOGE’s wild rally, which prompted Musk to impart the most important thing about owning your crypto holdings, “not your keys, not your coins.”

Earlier this week, Musks’ Tesla announced that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin, which sent the digital currency’s prices to new highs. Now the market is excited to know which company would be the next to follow in Tesla’s footsteps.

Following Tesla, even Twitter is considering adding Bitcoin to its balance sheet, revealed the company CFO, who said no changes had been made yet. Nathan Cox, CIO at investment firm Two Prime, said,

“These are just the early innings of corporate adoption, as digital currencies are beginning to play a larger role in robust balance sheet management.”

Senator Cynthia Lummis also took this move by Tesla, which has already been made by MicroStrategy and Square months back, as an opportunity to point out that people and companies are shifting to digital currencies because of the debasement of fiat currency, for which Congress’ lack of fiscal discipline is largely responsible. She said,

“Congress’ debt addiction is decimating savers return on their hard-earned dollar. The potential to address that, if Congress fails to address its own debt-fueled spending addiction, is the most compelling reason to follow digital assets extremely closely.”

For Bitcoin, what works in its favor is its finite supply that creates a meaningful store of value and the decentralized network that constantly confirms and secures the publicly available ledger.

Most importantly, she said, it “is the potential for savers to be rewarded with an appreciating (or at least stable) asset.”

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Author: AnTy

Crypto’s Are Becoming Mediums of Exchange as Visa CEO Plans to Add Them to the Network

Crypto’s Are Becoming Mediums of Exchange as Visa CEO Plans to Add Them to the Network

Describing Bitcoin as “digital gold,” Alfred Kelly said they “predominantly held as assets” but sees stablecoins and CBDCs as “emerging payments innovation” that can be used for global commerce.

Payments giant Visa could be the latest one to add cryptocurrencies to its network after PayPal allowed its millions of users to buy and sell last year and soon to use cryptos in its merchant network in October.

Last week, Alfred Kelly, the chief executive officer at Visa, said the company might add cryptos to its payment network as he said they are in a position to make digital currencies more “safe, useful and applicable.” While speaking on the company’s fiscal first-quarter 2021 earnings call, Kelly said,

“Our strategy here is to work with wallets and exchanges to enable users to purchase these currencies using their Visa credentials or to cash out onto our Visa credential to make a fiat purchase at any of the 70 million merchants where Visa is accepted globally.”

Kelly said they see the crypto market in two segments; the first one is new assets like Bitcoin, which he described as “digital gold.” He said,

“They are predominantly held as assets that are not used as a form of payment in a significant way at this point.”

The second segment is of stablecoins, which are directly backed by existing fiat currencies, and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which he said, “are an emerging payments innovation that could have the potential to be used for global commerce, much like any other fiat currency,” and Visa sees them as part of their network of networks strategy. Kelly said,

“Across both of these segments, we are the clear leader in this space.”

The CEO further goes on to mention how already several, a total of 35, leading digital currency platforms and wallets such as Crypto.com, BlockFi, Fold, and BitPanda are working with Visa, which “represent the potential for more than 50 million Visa credentials.” Kelly said,

“It goes without saying, to the extent a specific digital currency becomes a recognized means of exchange, there’s no reason why we cannot add it to our network, which already supports over 160 currencies today.”

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Author: AnTy

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

Cue to Buy BTC: Fed and Bank of England Vows to Do ‘Everything’ to Help their Economy Recover

Markets are flying right now. And the central banks are ready to give them even more reason to continue to do so.

We are less than a week into November, and the S&P 500 has already pumped 7.35% as the US dollar struggles, and yields on US Treasury debt securities remain unchanged.

Gold and Bitcoin particularly enjoy the greens as the precious metal goes back to the $1,950 level, and BTC makes 35-month highs, itching to break $16,000.

While green is splashed across the markets, the Federal Reserve pledged again to do whatever it can use “full range of tools” to sustain the speed at which the US economy is recovering.

Amidst the uncertainty around the still undecided US presidential election, the Fed kept the loose monetary policy intact — asset purchase and interest rate (near zero) remains unchanged.

Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed has begun to consider whether it needs to extend the emergency credit facilities beyond their expiration on Dec. 31.

But the Fed chief said the economy is now recovering at a slower speed after being boosted earlier in the year by fiscal aid and re-opening of businesses adding the recent rise in coronavirus infections in the US and abroad was “particularly concerning.”

The same day the Bank of England governor also vowed to do “everything we can” to support the economy amidst the resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

As the central bank announced another £150bn of support, Andrew Bailey said it was important policymakers acted “quickly and strongly.”

However, with new restrictions in England and tighter lockdown rules, a slower and bumpier recovery is expected. “We are here to do everything we can to support the people of this country – and we’ll do it and will do it quickly,” said Bailey.

All of this basically, “is code for buy Bitcoin.”

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Author: AnTy

UNI Holders Continue to Increase as Uniswap Dominance Jumps 24% in Just Over a Month

While centralized cryptocurrency exchanges struggle to live, with at least 75 of them closed down due to hacks and scams so far this year, Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) are leading 2020.

These past couple of weeks, even big exchanges like KuCoin and BitMEX weathered some storms.

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) has some part to play in this. With DEXs growing rapidly, as evident from its volume hitting $24 billion, an increase from $11.6 billion last month, a shift has been seen from CEXs to DEXs.

Until last year, the total monthly DEX volume never saw $500 million, and in 2020, it never went below this figure.

As we reported, the popular DEX Uniswap that saw $15 billion traded last month actually surpassed the volume on the leading centralized cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. Increasing every month, Uniswap volume also makes up for 65% of all DEX volume as such the fourth largest crypto exchange by volume.

Liquidity on the platform also continues to hit new highs, keeping above $2 billion in October.

Interestingly, while the total value locked (TVL) in the DeFi sector decreased from $11.23 billion this week to $10.18 billion, TVL in Uniswap increased 12% to over $2 billion, becoming the first DeFi project to hit $2 billion in total crypto funds locked.

Uniswap is the dominant force in the DeFi ecosystem, with the amount of ETH locked in the project hitting a new high of 3.2 million. Uniswap’s dominance currently sits at 21.9%, up 24% from the beginning of last month, as per DeFi Pulse.

Its governance token UNI is currently trading at $2.64 in the red, down nearly 36% in the past seven days.

However, despite the recent fall in UNI’s price, along with the rest of the DeFi tokens, the number of UNI holders continues to increase daily.

As per data source IntoTheBlock, as of Oct. 5, the number of addresses holding UNI tokens reached a new high of 85.02k addresses.

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Author: AnTy

YouTube Files to Dismiss Ripple and CEO Brad Garlinghouse’s XRP Giveaway Scam Lawsuit

YouTube is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them by Ripple earlier in April. The video-sharing Google subsidiary has been accused of promoting XRP giveaway scams, causing reputational damage to Ripple and the firm’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse.

In a response filing on July 20, YouTube argued that as an interactive computer service provider, it should is not liable for content published by third parties as per Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Ripple had sued YouTube because it failed to control giveaway scams to an extent where a particular individual was scammed $15,000. According to Ripple’s argument, the video-sharing giant had not only facilitated financial losses due to scams but also increased their reputational risk as a firm. In the motion, Ripple suggested a couple of actions to taken be by YouTube:

“This lawsuit calls on the video platform to do a number of things … First, to be more aggressive and proactive in identifying these scams, before they’re posted. Second, faster removal of these scams once they are identified and lastly, to not profit from these scams.”

In its defense, YouTube has come out to ask for the dismissal of the charges filed by Ripple, noting that it cannot be tied to the giveaway scams. As per YouTube’s argument, they are not at fault since they did not willingly engage any of the third parties or contribute to the content posted.

The firm went on to state that the Ad’s approval or endorsements could not hold water, adding that it always shuts down such scams when given a heads up. Basing the argument on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, YouTube’s filings highlighted,

“Plaintiffs have sued YouTube for allegedly failing to do enough to prevent third-party fraudsters from hijacking various YouTube user accounts and perpetrating a crypto-currency scam through those stolen accounts.

YouTube did not orchestrate or participate in that scam, and after being notified about fraudulent content posted by the hijacked accounts, YouTube removed it. Plaintiffs’ state-law claims are barred by Section 230 of the CDA, 47 U.S.C. § 230 (“Section 230”), and all their claims fail of their own accord.”

While this is still in motion, YouTube has again been sued by the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, who claims that the platform allowed malicious players to initiate Bitcoin giveaway scams in his likeness. Apple’s co-founder, along with 18 other litigators, now want YouTube to pull the scams down, as well as compensate them for the punitive damages.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Blockchain Developer Platform Releases Alchemy Build, A Tool Suite for Faster Production

Alchemy, a blockchain startup, focuses on building developers’ tools to help them become more productive and focus more on actual product development. The blockchain startup boasts some of the most influential artists in the 21st century among its investors, which include the likes of Jay-Z and Will Smith. The startup raised $15 million in Series A funding round in 2019.

The startup announced its new product, called Alchemy Build suite, which consists of debugging and search tools and promises to reduce the amount of time spent by developers on issues not related to the actual product.

The suite primarily consists of 4 tools, which include an explorer to help developers quickly locate the bugs and errors in the system, a composer to help developers create prototypes, a visualizer to find stuck transactions, and a debugger.

Alchemy a Big Hit Among Ethereum Based Product Makers

Alchemy is relatively unknown for the amount of work and collaboration it has seen since its inception. Alchemy’s platform is actively used by Ethereum based products and Dapps developers for developing the infrastructure of their products. Its client list includes the famous gaming dApp CryptoKitties, Binance Wallet, and Opera Web Platform.

Nikil Viswanathan, the co-founder of Alchemy, believes their latest product in the form of a Build suite would enhance and help developers to create a better product in less time. He said:

“Ultimately, this means that…developers [can] build products faster, which means that the users get more products, and more innovation in the blockchain space happens overall.”

The startup’s goal has been to remove the hurdles in the path of developers, and many firms who have partnered or used Alchemy’s tools are a testament to that.

The digital asset marketplace Ethereum-based, OpenSea, has also used Alchemy’s tool for building on resonated the same. Devin Finzer, the CEO of OpenSera said:

“Alchemy Build has been crucial in helping us build and debug our global marketplace.”

Pantera Capital, one of the leading investors during the Series A funding round, applauded the progress that the startup has made since its beginning. Paul Veradittakit, a partner, said:

“Alchemy Build is improving the lives of Ethereum developers by leaps and bounds, helping drive the ecosystem towards its potential.”

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Author: James W

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Calls For Crypto Businesses to Be Registered by June 30th

The U.K. Financial Watchdog, FCA, has reminded crypto-oriented businesses to register with them by June 30, 2020, so that the applications can be processed within the next six months.

According to the FCA, entities that haven’t registered by then, will not be legally recognized come the Jan 2021 deadline.

The FCA does not register “any businesses that started carrying on business in the UK immediately before 10 January 2020 and are not registered by the FCA by the 10 January 2021 deadline will have to cease carrying on business.,” reads the FCA statement.

Following a spike in crypto-related crime, the FCA was tasked in regulating this space as the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) came into action at the beginning of the year. This move is expected to reduce financial crime such as money laundering and terror financing, which appear to have found new avenues in crypto ecosystems. The call for registration is, therefore, no surprise to crypto firms operating within the U.K.

Notably, firms that previously operated in the FinTech space under U.K.’s Financial Services and Market Acts 2000, but have now scaled to crypto services, will be required to undertake a new registration. According to the U.K. regulator, this approach will help them in proactive supervision of crypto businesses:

“The FCA will proactively supervise firms” compliance with the new regulations, and will take swift action where firms fall short of desired standards.”

The 5AMLD & FATF Oversight Frameworks

To effectively regulate the crypto space, FCA will rely on the 5AMLD and FATF’s ‘travel rule‘ as underlying regulatory frameworks. With both in play, crypto entities will be required to provide information such as future projections, governance, employees, customers, and business objectives, amongst others.

Also, the FATF travel rule provides that crypto exchanges should share client information upon request when executing B2B transactions. This initiative affects around 39 countries, including China, which are expected to have complied upon a revisit by the FATF.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Six Blockchain Startups Selected On World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2020 Tech Pioneers List

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced the list of technology pioneers, and among them were six blockchain-based startups. The announcement was made earlier today through the official WEF Twitter account.

The six firms consist of:

  • MakerDAO
  • Chainlink
  • Veridum Labs
  • Lightning Labs
  • Ripio
  • Elliptic

The WEF Technology Pioneers of 2020 list brings together 100 startups from across the globe, which are set to introduce or pioneer new technologies as well as innovations in different sectors, including Artificial Technology (AI), Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning.

The listing of technology pioneers by WEF started in 2000, where outstanding tech pioneers are acknowledged and recognized. The startups are incorporated in various WEF initiatives as well as events to shed more light and insights into various critical world discussions.

According to WEF, the six blockchain-based startups will be incorporated into the organization’s initiatives, events, and activities for two years to bring their fresh thinking in various global discussions.

The six blockchain startups will also become members of the WEF’s Global Innovators Community, which is an invite-only group bringing together the globe’s most promising startups.

The six startups will also be part of WEF Strategic Intelligence ecosystem that assists industry leaders as well as policy and decision-makers to navigate different transformations in various industries, economies as well as global issues. In other words, the six startups will be taken as experts to help in making important decisions by global leaders and decision-makers.

Blockchain-based startups have been recognized previously with Bitfury, which offers blockchain solutions, making it to the list last year. In 2015, Ripple made it to the list.

The recognition is essential as it helps the startups to access a wide range of expert insights as well as the market. The startups can exchange notes with other firms from across the globe. The listing will also give the six blockchain startups the much-needed exposure to potential clients.

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Author: Joseph Kibe