Mastercard Will Now Allow Banks and Merchants to Buy, Sell, and Pay with Crypto

Mastercard Will Now Allow Banks and Merchants to Buy, Sell, and Pay with Crypto

Payment giant Mastercard is now preparing to allow millions of merchants and thousands of banks on its network to integrate cryptocurrency into their products soon announced the company on Monday.

This will cover bitcoin wallets, debit and credit cards that enable spending crypto assets and earning rewards in crypto, and loyalty programs where the airline or hotel points can be converted into digital currency.

For this, Mastercard is partnering with Bakkt, which will provide custodial services. Sherri Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships, in an interview, said,

“We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing.”

“Our partners, be they banks, fintechs or merchants can offer their customers the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency through an integration with the Baktt platform.”

The company has more than 20,000 financial institutions as part of its network. Also, there are 2.8 billion Mastercards in use.

The growing interest in crypto this year has Mastercard clients also asking them to help in providing crypto services, said Haymond. According to her, this will allow banks to keep customers on their platforms instead of having their dollars migrate to crypto exchanges. Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael said,

“We’re lowering the barriers to entry, allowing people to take something like your rewards points and trade them into crypto.”

“It’s an easy way to get going because you’re not using cash, you’re putting something that’s an idle asset sitting on your balance sheet, and we’re allowing you to put in to work.”

This is in line with earlier findings that nearly half (48%) of respondents purchased crypto in the first half of 2021, and 32% of those who didn’t are either very or somewhat interested in doing so before year-end.

77% of millennials are also interested in learning more about crypto, with 75% saying they would use cryptocurrency if they understood it better.

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Author: AnTy

FATF to Publish Detailed Crypto Guidelines Late Next Week

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will be publishing its revised guidance for cryptocurrency firms very soon, said President Marcus Pleyer.

The outcomes of the October plenary meeting of the FATF were released this week, in which the agency shared that it has finalized its guidance and plans to publish the updated version on October 28.

“This guidance that we finalized for a risk-based approach to virtual assets and investments will be published next week,” Pleyer told reporters during a press conference following the agency’s latest meeting.

Back in March, the global anti-money laundering (AML) watchdog issued draft guidance (VASPs) at a plenary meeting. However, the final revised guidance was delayed as the regulatory agency attempted to cover the areas like decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

As such, the revised guidance will now include the definition of VASP in DeFi as well. Also, FATF will share its take on NFTs this time.

While the standards related to virtual assets or VASPs aren’t amended, the guidance will provide “more detailed information on how countries and the private sector can implement the FATF standards.”

Additionally, the guidance will provide further clarification on the definition of VASPs and how the standards will apply to stablecoins, Player said. He further shared FATF’s expectation that countries will implement standards for the “Travel Rule” for crypto transactions “as soon as possible.”

Under the travel rule, VASPs are required to collect and transmit information on those involved in a transaction.

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Author: AnTy

ProShares Bitcoin Futures ETF Coming on Tuesday, Grayscale Confirms Filing to Convert GBTC into ETF

In anticipation of the first Bitcoin ETF, which will finally be coming to the US this week, Bitcoin hit $63,000.

ProShares will be launching its exchange-traded fund (ETF) linked to CME-based Bitcoin futures on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker ‘BITO’ on Tuesday, the firm and the exchange have reported.

“2021 will be remembered for this milestone,” Michael Sapir, the CEO of ProShares, told DealBook.

Investors who want exposure to the leading cryptocurrency but don’t want to hold it directly and are hesitant to engage with unregulated crypto exchanges will now have “convenient access to Bitcoin in a wrapper that has market integrity,” he said.

In a statement on Monday, Sapir further said, “a multitude of investors have been eagerly awaiting the launch of a bitcoin-linked ETF,” and finally BITO will provide access to Bitcoin to this large segment of investors who have a brokerage account and are familiar and comfortable with buying stocks and ETFs but don’t want to go through the hassle for establishing another account with a crypto provider and be subject to security risks.

“This will be a floodgate of new capital and new people into the space,” said Ian Balina, CEO of the data and analytics firm Token Metrics.

Approval for the ProShares ETF, which is based on Bitcoin futures trading on the CME, won’t be announced by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but the firm’s formal prospectus has met with no opposition ahead of its effective deadline, which means it is good to go. NYSE is also readying its launch for tomorrow.

“This is an exciting step but not the last,” said Douglas Yones, the NYSE’s head of exchange-traded products. He foresees a range of crypto-linked ETFs getting approval, eventually.

Currently, nine other ETF applications for Bitcoin Futures are awaiting approval, while many more for physically-backed ETFs.

Future ETFs will come with its own costs, though, as it adds 5% to 10% of annualized roll yield on top of the underlying asset’s price. Not to mention, they are “also more confusing,” said Matt Hougan, chief investment officer at Bitwise Asset Management, which has also filed for a Bitcoin futures ETF with the SEC.

“They have challenges like position limit and official dilution, and they can’t get 100% exposure to the futures market.”

Interestingly, Grayscale also announced that it is filing to have its $38 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust converted into an ETF on Monday. GBTC is still trading at over a 15% discount.

“It is official,” confirmed Barry Silbert, founder, and CEO of Digital Currency Group, the parent company of the largest digital asset manager Grayscale Investments.

While calling Bitcoin Futures ETF launch a “historic and important moment” for Bitcoin and the entire crypto ecosystem, Jennifer Rosenthal, Communication Director at Grayscale, said,

“I’m happy to confirm that Grayscale *WILL* file for GBTC to be converted into an ETF as soon as there’s a clear, formal indication from the SEC.”

The official and verifiable evidence of SEC’s comfort with the underlying Bitcoin market could likely be in the form of a Bitcoin Futures ETF being deemed effective, and once that happens, “the NYSE Arca will file a document called the 19b-4 to convert GBTC into an ETF,” she added.

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Author: AnTy

Citadel Founder Says Regulating Crypto Will Make It “A Smaller Market” And “That’ll Be Good”

Citadel Founder Says Regulating Crypto Will Make It “A Smaller Market” And “That’ll Be Good”

The billionaire’s Wellington hedge fund beat S&P 500’s 16% return by a mere 2.5% this year through September while Bitcoin rose 68%, Ethereum 363%, Solana 8914%, and Dogecoin 4055% YTD.

Ken Griffin, the founder of the $38 billion hedge fund Citadel and market-maker Citadel Securities, is a cryptocurrency skeptic and recently criticized the time and energy spent on cryptocurrencies.

“I wish all this passion and energy that went into crypto was directed toward making the United States stronger,” said Griffin on Monday in an interview with Bloomberg at the Economic Club of Chicago.

“What a crazy concept this is that we as a country embrace so many bright, young, talented people to come up with a replacement for our reserve currency.”

According to him, it’s “a jihadist call” that “we don’t believe in the dollar.”

While not a fan of crypto, Griffin said his firm would trade digital assets if they were properly regulated.

“I just don’t want to take on the regulatory risk in this regulatory void that some of my contemporaries are willing to take on,” he said. Market makers, firms that provide market liquidity, such as Jump Trading and DRW, have embraced the asset class.

Griffin further praised US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler for increasing the scrutiny of cryptocurrencies.

He “is spot-on on the need to have thoughtful regulation around cryptocurrency,” Griffin said, adding:

“I actually think that doing so will make it a smaller market because it will become a far more competitive market when there is regulatory clarity and that will be good.”

The hedge fund billionaire has long been a crypto skeptic as back in 2018, when he questioned crypto’s value, moaning about how young investors are attracted to the crypto asset instead of company stocks that drive economic growth.

Citadel’s Wellington hedge fund rose 18.5% this year through September after recording a 7.8% gain last month but only managed to beat the S&P 500’s total return of 16%, reported Bloomberg citing a person familiar with the matter.

When it comes to year-to-date returns of the crypto market, Bitcoin is up 68%, Ethereum 363%, Solana 8914%, and Dogecoin 4055%. The total crypto market cap recorded gains of 148% in the year through September, according to CoinGecko.

During the conversation, Griffin also commented on inflation running hot, which he says is “unsettling,” but noted the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is doing the best he can. He further said that people who are in the early part of their careers are making a “grave mistake” by not going back to the office.

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Author: AnTy

Fintech Revolut Is Launching its Own Token, Which Will Be Earned By Users

Fintech Revolut Is Launching its Own Token, Which Will Be Earned By Users

Fintech company Revolut that offers cryptocurrency buying, selling, and trading, is now exploring launching its very own cryptocurrency token.

About three months back, the UK-based neo bank raised $800 million in funding at a valuation of $33 billion. Revolut has more than 16 million customers and sees over 150 million transactions per month.

Revolut offers access to more than 50 cryptos and, in its earnings call in June, said crypto services make up about 20% of its revenue.

Now the company is planning to launch its own token, which will be something like an exchange token instead of a stablecoin, reported CoinDesk, citing two people with knowledge of the plans.

“It’s a ‘Revolut users earn a token’ type of thing, similar to Wirex and Nexo,” said the source. Card issuer Wirex has a token called WXT, and the crypto lender Nexo has the  NEXO token.

The launch of the token, for which Europe and locations outside the US are being targeted, is subject to approval from the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The firm already holds a European Union banking license and recently secured a US broker-dealer license to compete with the likes of Robinhood and Square, after launching in the U.S. last year just as the pandemic began.

“We are building a single app where people can manage all aspects of their finances, from banking and foreign exchange, to cryptocurrency and stock trading,” said CEO and founder Nik Storonsky at the time.

A couple of weeks back, Revolut became WeWork’s first enterprise members to pay for office space in Dallas using Bitcoin. The office-sharing giant first began accepting crypto as payment in April.

The company will eventually aim for a public listing in the UK, US, or maybe even a dual listing, Storonsky said.

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Author: AnTy

Binance.US Hires New President to Begin its “Journey Toward IPO,” VC Giant Onboards Former CFTC Official

Brian Shroder, who was previously an executive at Ant Group and Uber, believes it will be “an extremely successful IPO.” Meanwhile, Brian Quintenz, who left CFTC last month, will advise a16z on crypto policy issues.

Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance’s US entity, Binance.US, has appointed a new president after former OCC head Brian Brooks stepped down in just three months, and before that, Catherine Coley, who became the CEO in late 2019 and left this April.

At the time of Brooks’ departure, Matthew Graham, CEO at VC Sino Global Capital, had said that foreigners taking executive-level positions at Chinese companies “frequently ends in disaster.”

The latest hire is Brian Shroder, who was previously an executive at Ant Group, where he oversaw South East Asia operations, and Uber Technologies, where he was the head of strategy and business development for the Asia-Pacific region.

He will oversee the exchange’s strategy, execution, business and corporate development, fundraising, and manage its legal, product, and technology functions, the company said in a statement.

Shroder further said that he is looking “forward to sharing our exciting story with the broader investment community as we begin our journey toward IPO.”

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, CZ, the chairman of the board at Binance.US, recently said that the US entity, which was launched in 2019, is expecting to close a funding round shortly and is planning an eventual public offering (IPO).

“Based on our current trajectory, I believe we could have an extremely successful IPO in the next two to three years,” Shroder told Bloomberg, adding, the exchange looks to “close its first seed round by the end of the year.”

Ongoing Dialogues With Regulators

Binance has been facing a lot of regulatory scrutiny from regulators all over the world, the latest being Singapore. But Binance says it is currently having ongoing dialogues with regulators all around the world.

“Right now, the regulators around the world are paying attention to crypto.” When they do that, they pay attention to Binance because it is one of the largest players globally, so “of course they look at us” as such, “we have taken a lead example of some of the regulatory compliance measures,” said CZ in an interview with CNBC this week.

These measures include implementing mandatory full KYC on all of its platforms, and before that, they limited certain products in certain regions, said Zhao adding, “we have a lot of other things in the pipeline, but I think overall the situation is regulators are paying attention to this industry.”

While bad from the perspective of PR, it’s “also good that we can help shape the regulatory narrative,” CZ added.

Regulatory Response To Crypto Innovation

Another big hire in the crypto industry was made by Silicon Valley venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), who onboarded former CFTC commissioner Brian Quintenz to advise on crypto policy issues.

Quintenz, who served at the CFTC from 2017 until last month and gave the green light to the listing of the first future contracts based on virtual currencies during his tenure, will be working with the team involved in crypto-related investments. He will be joining other crypto advisers at the firm, including Brent McIntosh, former top Treasury Department official for international affairs during the Trump administration, and Bill Hinman, who ran the corporate filings division at the SEC.

“The regulatory response to crypto innovation will be critical in whether an openly accessible, fully transparent, and decentralized value-creating financial ecosystem can be truly achieved,” Quintenz said in a statement.

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Author: AnTy

Big Institutions Are Buying ETH for the First Time, Over 25% of Supply Used in Smart Contracts

Ahead of the London upgrade with EIP 1559 that will burn ETH and deplete Ether supply, as supply on exchanges continues to decline.

Trading above $2,300, Ether’s year-to-date gains are back above 200%, but the cryptocurrency is still down about 50% from its all-time high around $4,380 hit three months back.

Interestingly, Ether was traded more than Bitcoin in the first half of the year as the trading volume of the former grew faster than the latter, according to a report from Coinbase. BTC 1.71% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 40,007.16
Volume 38.54 b Change $684.12 Open $40,007.16 Circulating 18.77 m Market Cap 750.92 b
9 h A Shift in Momentum: Binance Yields to Regulatory Pressure, the Definition of HQ Changing for CZ Too 10 h US Lawmakers See All the “Flashing Warning Signs” of Cryptocurrency Putting USD at Risk 10 h Big Institutions Are Buying ETH for the First Time, Over 25% of Supply Already Used in Smart Contracts

Based on data from 20 major cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide, Coinbase found that the trading volume for Bitcoin for H1 reached $2.1 trillion, up 489% from $356 billion over the first half of last year.

In the same period, Ether’s total trading volume climbed to $1.4 trillion, up 1,461% from $92 billion in the first half of 2020.

According to Coinbase, the largest exchange in the US, this was the first sustained period of time ever that Ether’s trading pace exceeded that of Bitcoin.

Coinbase further noted that many of its largest institutional clients, including hedge funds, endowments, and corporates, increased or bought ETH for the first time during this period, believing the asset has long-term staying power tantamount to BTC’s.

Depleting Supply

Amidst this growing adoption, the most anticipated upgrade, the London hard fork with EIP-1559, is coming in about a week at block 12,965,000.

EIP-1559 is already implemented on the testnet, and its deployment on the mainnet will mean Ether will officially effectively become a deflationary asset as, according to this proposal, the base fee paid on Ethereum Network in ETH will be burned, decreasing Ether’s supply and boosting Ether’s price.

But already, ETH’s liquid supply continues to deplete.

Before even the supply of ETH paid in base fees could be burned, one-fourth of it is now used in smart contracts in terms of DeFi and staked at ETH 2.0, for instance. While the ETH locked in smart contracts is on an incline at over 25%, up from about 12% a year back, the supply held on exchanges that could be easily sold, is in decline at under 13.4%.

Ethereum blockchain is actually the biggest fees earner by a wide margin, which captured over $11 million in fees in the past 24 hours, followed by $3.1 million by BSC, while Bitcoin is recording under $634k.

In the last 365 days, Ethereum has generated $4.3 billion in total revenue compared to Bitcoin’s $1.1 billion at the second spot, as per Token Terminal.

On the third spot is the popular DEX Uniswap at $937.4 million, while its biggest competitor SushiSwap is at the fifth spot with $309.4 million, with BSC in between at almost $327 million.

Interestingly, as CryptoCobain explained in his recent episode of the UpOnly podcast, Ethereum generates more fees during bull runs as everyone is participating in the frenzy, clogging the network and pushing the fees skywards, which after EIP 1559 will means, more fees being burned, leading to even higher prices.

But during downtrends, as we saw recently, gas fees fall in single digits, which doesn’t help prop up its price at all.

ETH basically gets insanely bullish in bull markets and then crazy bearish in bear markets which makes it the best bet during uptrends to increase your wealth but not so much to protect your investment in downtrends.

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Author: AnTy

82% Wealth Managers & Institutional Investors to Dramatically Increase Crypto Holdings within 3 Yrs

82% of Wealth Managers & Institutional Investors say They will Dramatically Increase their Crypto Holdings within 3 Years

Only 7% of this new survey respondents said they would reduce their crypto exposure, and a mere 1% said they would sell their entire holding.

Four out of ten institutional investors and wealth managers from the US, UK, France, Germany, and the UAE who have exposure to crypto-assets revealed that they will dramatically increase their holdings between now and 2023.

These findings were revealed by a new survey conducted by Nickel Digital Asset Management in early June. At the time, Bitcoin’s price was between $30k and $35k.

According to the firm, in most cases, institutional investors with holdings in cryptocurrencies have very low levels of exposure as they start testing the markets. Anatoly Crachilov, co-founder and CEO of Nickel Digital said,

“The number of institutional investors and corporates holding bitcoin and other cryptoassets is growing, and their confidence in the asset class is also increasing.”

The survey further reported that while 82% expect to increase their exposure, only 7% said they would reduce their crypto exposure, and a mere 1% said they would sell their entire holdings.

When it comes to what is driving this interest, 58% of respondents said the main reason for investing more in digital assets is the long-term capital growth prospects of crypto assets. This was followed by 38% saying they are getting more comfortable and confident in holding the asset class.

37% cited more leading fund managers and corporates investing, giving them more confidence to invest, with 34% saying an improving regulatory environment is also a key factor in wanting to raise their allocation.

Many of these professional investors who already hold crypto and are looking to increase their exposure are driven by several factors, including strong market performance during the Covid-19 crisis, said Crachilov.

Crachilov also pointed to more established investors and corporations endorsing the market, and the improving infrastructure and regulatory framework as other factors for the same, saying, “These trends will continue to expand.”

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Author: AnTy

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele Says Bitcoin Will be Airdropped to its Adult Citizens

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele Says Bitcoin Will be Airdropped to its Adult Citizens

After passing the law that declares Bitcoin a legal tender, which goes into effect in September, El Salvador will be giving out $30 in bitcoin to any of its adult citizens that download a specific app and get verified there.

With a population of 6.5 million, about 70% of it is over the age of 15. Adults are estimated to make up around 60% of the population in El Salvador. This puts the Bitcoin airdrop at roughly $11 million or about 3,440 BTC.

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele addressed the nation this week, where he revealed the upcoming airdrop and that bitcoin would officially become legal tender on Sept. 7.

To be eligible for this $30 airdrop in BTC, citizens have to download the Chivo e-wallet and get their facial recognition.

“The wallet app will even work anywhere with a cell connection, and you won’t have to have a cell plan for the app.”

In his appearance on the ‘What Bitcoin Did’ podcast, Bukele shared that the law was designed to protect the unbanked and talked about using volcanic geothermal energy to mine crypto.

He said that the country had found new wells that will provide further 95 megawatts that will be used for bitcoin mining, which has already found a lot of interest in the country.

“We have had interest in probably 2 gigawatts, which is 2,000 megawatts and we only have 95 so they’re going to go like this. And they’re going to provide a lot of income to the country.”

Not just countries in Central America but even in the US, several states are taking an active approach to crypto adoption.

This week, New York City Mayoral front runner Eric Adams said, “We will become the center of Bitcoin. Miami, you had your run, but we’re bringing our business back.”

Another American state competing to be the most Bitcoin-friendly is Texas, the 9th largest economy in the world, which aims to bring more security to its jobs, economy, and energy grid through Bitcoin adoption.

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Author: AnTy