Crypto Wallet Ledger Opens Business Unit Dedicated to Institutions

Crypto Wallet Ledger Opens Business Unit Dedicated to Institutions

Ledger, popular for the provision of crypto cold wallets, has announced Ledger Enterprise Solutions’ launching to serve institutional clients.

The newly formed division will offer crypto custodial services for institutions such as Tesla and MicroStrategy, which have embraced Bitcoin in the recent past.

The new division will also provide consulting services to its clients and has already employed 50 people in different categories. Ledger announced that it would employ 60 more people before the end of the year.

Jean-Michel Pailhon will lead the division as the vice president in charge of Business Solutions. Pailhon will be joined by Alexandre Lemarchand, who was recently appointed a vice president in sales and partnerships. In addition, Ledger Enterprise recruited Alex Zinder, the ex SDX developer, the VP in charge of engineering, and Laurent Castillo, ex Thales engineer, the VP in charge of technical architecture. Pailhon explained,

“Ledger Enterprise Solutions represents our company’s investment in the future of broad-scale financial adoption of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets by enterprise-class businesses. Our mission is to enable the digital assets industry to become a multi-trillion dollar industry.”

Already, the division has recruited various clients, including Crypto.com, Bank Frick, BitStamp, Komainu, Nexo, among others.

Komainu, a digital asset custody, is a joint venture with Nomura and CoinShare in June last year. Last week the firm raised $25 million in Series A funding.

The crypto assets custody sector has become a hot cake with numerous institutions entering the crypto space. Ledger joins other custodial services providers in offering enterprise custodial services such as BitGo, Fireblocks, Anchorage, and PayPal’s owned Curv.

Pailhon explained that as more firms continue recognizing cryptos in their balance sheet, there will be a rise in demand for enterprise custodial services. He said,

“As more companies apportion significant parts of their balance sheets to blockchain-based holdings, we recognize the drastic need for enterprise-grade solutions for holding and securing digital assets.”

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Norwegian Publicly-listed Oil Company Buys $58 Million Worth of Bitcoin

Aker has established a new unit called Seetee to invest throughout the Bitcoin ecosystem. Co-founder Kjell Inge Røk­ke calls it not investing in Bitcoin the “riskiest decision.”

Norway’s Aker ASA is establishing a new unit dedicated to investing throughout the Bitcoin ecosystem, announced the company on Monday.

The new unit called Seetee AS would have an initial capital of 500 million Norwegian crowns ($58.6 million). The company is planning to keep its liquid assets in BTC, the industrial holding company said.

Seetee has already made its first Bitcoin purchase of 1,170 BTC with a strategy to HODL.

“Aker’s de­ci­sion to en­ter Bit­coin through See­tee is the re­sult of a long and fun­da­men­tal dis­cus­sion about val­ue,” states the shareholder letter. It further calls, not investing in Bitcoin the “riskiest decision.” Aker co-founder Kjell Inge Røk­ke wrote,

“Bitcoin may still go to zero. But it can also become the core of a new monetary architecture. If so, one bitcoin may be worth mil­lions of dollars. The asym­me­try is in­ter­est­ing to a port­fo­lio.”

As of writing, Bitcoin is trading around $51,000.

Besides using Bitcoin as a treasury asset, the company will also build and in­vest in projects and companies in Bit­coin’s ecosystem.

The unit will also establish mining operations and integrate blockchain technology with Aker’s industrial operations. For this, the company would collaborate with Canada’s Blockstream. Aker ASA Chief Executive Oeyvind Eriksen said,

“These technologies have the potential to reduce frictions in our day to day lives, enhance the security of our digitally-driven economies, and unlock new business models for innovation.”

Aker, controlled by Norwegian billionaire investor Kjell Inge Roekke, derives most of its income from the oil and gas industry. And the company doesn’t see “a long-term problem related to Bit­coin’s electricity consumption.”

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Author: AnTy

Alphabet’s Venture Capital Unit Invests in Blockchain.com’s 0 Million Funding Round

Alphabet’s Venture Capital Unit Invests in Blockchain.com’s $120 Million Funding Round

Blockchain, a cryptocurrency service provider, has raised $120 million in its latest funding round. The funding included investments from Alphabet Inc’s venture capital unit GV.

Other investors in the funding round included hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, investment firms Moore Strategic Ventures, Rovida Advisors, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and industrial group Access Industries, the company said.

The London-based company said that about 28% of all Bitcoin transactions since 2012 had been routed through its platform.

The total number of unique Blockchain.com wallets created has also reached 67.72 million, up from 32 million at the beginning of 2019 and almost 11 million at the start of 2017, as per their website.

Gaining immense acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, the price of Bitcoin has jumped past $52,000, up from about $30,000 at the beginning of this year.

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Author: AnTy

ConsenSys Acquires JPMorgan’s Ethereum-based Quorum for an Undisclosed Amount

Blockchain software startup ConsenSys has acquired Quorum, JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain unit, for an undisclosed amount.

The investment banking giant has also made a strategic investment in ConsenSys, the company established by the co-founder of Ethereum, Joseph Lubin, in 2014 to help build applications running on top of the second-largest blockchain network. Lubin said,

“Even before the very first block on Ethereum was mined, and ConsenSys was formed, we’ve collaborated with JPMorgan on Ethereum proofs of concept and production systems.”

There is a “commercial arrangement” for ConsenSys to support JPMorgan in their projects.

Quorum blockchain, which will remain open-source, was built internally at JPMorgan using the Ethereum network. The blockchain is used by the bank to run the Interbank Network — a payments network that already involves over 300 banks, which will continue to operate using the platform.

The Quorum team will remain at JPMorgan, and the transition will happen over the next year before it starts working on other blockchain projects.

“We believe a platform like Quorum could thrive better in the hands of a software and services-oriented organization,” said Umar Farooq, global head of blockchain at JPMorgan.

“Acquiring a blockchain sort of misses the point,” said Samantha Radocchia, author of the book “Bitcoin Pizza” about this development.

Earlier this year, ConsenSys underwent a restructuring to separate its software business form venture activities. As we reported recently, ConsenSys also owned the source code of popular Ethereum wallet MetaMask.

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Author: AnTy

Russian Monitoring Agency Develops Blockchain Analysis Tool To Track Bitcoin And Monero

A report from local news channel RBC confirmed on Tuesday Russian intelligence unit, Rosfinmonitoring, (Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service), has proposed a cryptocurrency monitoring tool similar to U.S.’s Chainalysis. The agency, in charge of reducing cases of money laundering and terrorist financing in the country, will start tracking Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies including privacy enhanced tokens such as DASH and XMR.

“The Transparent Blockchain”, is a new prototype built in partnership with the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences that will use artificial intelligence to track blockchain activity and cryptocurrency transactions. According to the report, a letter to the Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, Maxim Parshin, has been approved by the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communication.

So far, the Rosfinmonitoring has started preparations for widespread production of the software with the Bank of Russia and financial institutions within the country set to test it in the “near future.”

A $10 million request

The prototype is ready and tested on drug controls, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service confirmed. However, till now development of the blockchain analysis service has been constricted to extrabudgetary funds. To continue the build, the Rosfinmonitoring requested the federal government to increase their funding for the project by 760 million rubles (~$10.42 million) in the next three years.

Russia has been on the forefront in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing using cryptocurrencies. In July, President Vladimir Putin signed two digital asset bills into law – first, authorizing that crypto is property and second, digital assets cannot be used as a form of payment within the country. Earlier this month, the Russian government outlawed sending cryptocurrencies to any anonymous wallets forcing users to be fully KYC compliant.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Targeting Institutional Investors: SBI Holdings Is Buying a Minority Stake in B2C2 Exchange

A unit of Japanese financial conglomerate SBI Holdings, SBI Financial Services is buying a minority stake in London-based crypto market maker B2C2 for $30 million.

This is yet another example of situational-focused crypto players tying up with the incumbent institutions to offer additional services to their clients. Meanwhile, SBI will be getting a new source of revenue, “as a recession has hit their core income stream of local retail traders,” said Reuters.

B2C2 will be the leading liquidity provider of SBI as the latter expands its crypto offerings to millions of its existing customers. On the other hand, the digital asset trading firm will benefit from SBI’s distribution network and financial firepower.

SBI’s balance sheet will complement B2C2’s asset-liability framework “to deliver an execution platform that will not only be a game-changer in crypto but also positions us to expand across asset classes as we set our sights on the $20bn-a-year prime brokerage market,” said Max Boonen, founder of B2C2.

On-Ramp for Institutional Investment

In 2016, B2C2 launched the first crypto-native single dealer platform. Currently, it provides liquidity to banks, exchanges, and hedge funds.

The platform already has a license to operate in Japan, and last year, the firm launched the first OTC streaming price feed and is authorized and regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.

SBI meanwhile is launching a fully automated facility, an electronic prime brokerage built upon its single dealer platform, to provide competitive two-way prices in the funding market. This capability will expand B2C2’s existing secured financing operation, already lending hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We expect a lot of synergies with B2C2, a firm which has a large number of clients globally and offers abundant liquidity, excellent price competitiveness, and a diverse suite of products for their customers,” said Yoshitaka Kitao, President and CEO of SBI Holdings.

“We will work to develop innovative new crypto products and deepen synergies across our group of companies.”

Competition is Heating Up

Prime brokers provide services to hedge funds and active trading firms, which is a growing trend in the crypto industry.

Earlier this month, Bakkt partnered up with Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital to launch a “white-glove service” for “multi-billion-dollar” asset managers looking to buy and store bitcoin.

Last month, Genesis Capital acquired the London-based custodian, Volt, to join the likes of identity Digital Assets and BitGo and build the “preeminent prime brokerage in the digital currency ecosystem.”

A week after that, Coinbase announced that it is looking to acquire Tagomi, a crypto prime brokerage platform. The deal, however, hasn’t been closed yet and is subject to regulatory approvals.

The crypto industry is fast building the infrastructure for the institutional investors who are currently driving the bitcoin market.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin’s Transaction Volume on the Darknet Grows by 65% in Q1, 2020

Recent analysis conducted by Crystal Blockchain – the analytics unit of Bitfury – has revealed that the use of Bitcoin and other altcoins on the darknet is on the rise.

These same stats also show that the use of mixers to conceal BTC transactions has grown from 1% to 20% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter last year.

This market research dubbed ‘Darknet Use and Bitcoin’ highlights some key segments in which users transfer or receive digital assets via the darknet.

Notably, the value of BTC transacted between darknet entities grew by 65% despite a plunge in the number of Bitcoins transferred. As per the report, there was a 22% and 26% drop in the number of Bitcoins sent and received through darknet channels.

Source; Crystal Blockchain

The BTC Darknet Market Outlook

Bitcoin launched about a decade ago and has been gaining popularity over the years. It is noteworthy that the darknet is among the major adoption drivers of this market.

However, recent developments in regulation by entities like the FATF aim at changing some dynamics of the darknet’s BTC operations. Most notably, more players have opted to use mixers in a bid to conceal their identities.

This has shift has caused a drop in the use of exchanges with strict KYC requirements. Stats by Crystal Blockchain show that the BTC market share of such ecosystems decreased to 13% compared to 24% back in Q1, 2019. The report reads:

“While more exchanges implement the FATF requirements, darknet users are trying to avoid the risk of unveiling of their activity by those exchanges. To veil darknet activities, they started to prefer mixing services to exchanges for withdrawal of cryptocurrency.”

Based on this market shift, there was a total of 7,496 BTC transferred through mixers compared to 790 Bitcoins last year. This translated to a surge in USD value from $3 million to $67 million in Q1, 2020.

Though BTC remains dominant, the report noted that other altcoins are now competing for the darknet market share.

Private coins like Monero have actually found themselves in trouble with authorities for facilitating illegal activities via its private coin. Crystal blockchain is, however, optimistic that darknet crypto usage will be reduced with advanced tech and regulations.

“What is reassuring, however, is that these activities are easy to monitor and identify with analytical tools like Crystal. As a result, the impact of the strong regulations enacted by the FATF and the European Union to fight these illicit activities is already apparent.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Backed By Major Financial Institutions, SolarisBank Launches Subsidiary For Crypto Custody

SolarisBank has recently announced that it is has created a new unit called Solaris Digital Assets in order to offer crypto-custody services to clients. The German fintech company has been backed by recognized investors such as BBVA or Visa.

SolarisBank Launches New Crypto Subsidiary

The company located in Berlin is now working so as to offer custody solutions to clients that were already able to have access to digital banking services offered by the firm. SolarisBank received over $63 million from investors in order to start working on solutions in relation to the crypto space.

The cryptocurrency market has been evolving during the last years and custody solutions have been highly demanded by firms and investors all over the world. At the same time, regulatory agencies have been focusing in order to create clear regulations for crypto custody services.

The subsidiary of SolarisBank, Solaris Digital Assets, is planning to be compliant with all the regulatory requirements imposed by the German authorities. The main goal is to be able to offer crypto-related custody solutions to clients. The firm is going to be applying for a crypto license to offer custody to clients as soon as in 2020.

Despite the new products available for both large and retail investors in the market, custody remains as one of the most important topics for the industry.

At the moment, there are some partners that are testing the custody product created by the company and that would eventually be combined with other traditional banking services. This would be very useful to bridge the current gap that there is between the traditional financial market and digital assets.

In the past, SolarisBank offered services to Bitwala, Boerse Stuttgart Digital Exchange and many other companies involved in the crypto market.

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Author: Carl T

New Crypto-Jacking Malware ‘Graboid’ Infects Thousands of Computers to Mine Monero (XMR)

Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 researchers discovered a new crypto-jacking malware that infected over 2000 victim’s computers.

The malware infects unsuspecting users’ computers to mine Monero (XMR), a privacy-based cryptocurrency. The crypto-jacking worm, named Graboid, spread using containers in the Docker Engine (Community Edition) to unsecured hosts’ computers.

Docker images spread the crypto-jacking malware

In a new intelligence report by the Unit 42 team, Graboid worm, targets Docker, a Linux and Windows based, platform as a service (PaaS) solution, which allows users to create, develop and deploy applications in a virtual environment.

The platform however is vulnerable to attacks from the newly found malware that on average mined XMR for 250 seconds with the miners active 63% of the time.

https://unit42.paloaltonetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Figure-1.-Cryptojacking-worm-activity-overview-1024x556.png

https://unit42.paloaltonetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Figure-1.-Cryptojacking-worm-activity-overview-1024x556.png

https://unit42.paloaltonetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Figure-1.-Cryptojacking-worm-activity-overview-1024x556.png

1Crypto-jacking malware, Graboid, activity overview. (Source: PaloAlto)

According to the report,

“The attacker compromised an unsecured Docker daemon, ran the malicious Docker container pulled from Docker Hub, downloaded a few scripts and a list of vulnerable hosts from C2 and repeatedly picked the next target to spread the worm.”

After identifying the 2,000+ cases of malicious activity on the Docker Engines (CE), Unit 42 partnered with Docker in a bid to stop the worm from spreading. Jay Chen, Unit 42’s Senior Cloud Vulnerability and Exploit Researcher, hopes tighter security protocols will be set on Docker images to reduce the instances of malware. He said,

“We’re continuing to see instances where the failure to properly configure containers can lead to the loss of sensitive information and as a result, default configurations can be significant security risks for organizations.”

Hike in crypto-jacking activities

In August, BEG reported over 850,000 computers were infected with another crypto-jacking software mining Monero on the users computers. Retadup Monero, was quickly stopped by Paris police officers after a tip off by Avast software security company.

On Oct.8, ESSET, a security firm, also discovered a new crypto-jacking software rampant in South and Latin America spreading on users’ computers. Casbaneiro, or Metamorfo, attacks users cryptocurrency wallets and banking services to reveal personal information.

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Author: Lujan Odera