Verifone and BItPay Partnership to Aid Crypto Adoption Among US Merchants

Earlier this week, Verifone – one of the world’s largest point-of-sale(POS) payment service providers – announced a partnership with crypto payment processor BitPay to bring cryptocurrency transactions to businesses, per an official press release.

Crypto Payments for Wherever You Are

The release confirmed that this partnership would ramp up cryptocurrency payments at in-store locations and via online cloud services for e-commerce businesses all across the United States.

Verifone has over 600,000 customers in the United States and processes upwards of $10 billion in annual transaction volumes. The company plans to roll out the crypto payment feature later this year, possibly increasing its user base even more.

Speaking with news sources, Verifone chief executive Mike Pulli explained that the company had been seeking alternative payment channels for a while now. They’ve come to recognize the increased demand that cryptocurrencies have gotten as well, and this seems like a perfect time to venture into the crypto space.

Jeremy Belostock, the company’s head of payments, also explained that the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated the move to mobile payments for many people. This means an increased demand for cryptocurrencies, hence the company’s need to push forward.

The Verifone partnership is the largest for BitPay to date. So far, the company has established itself as the largest payment processor for cryptocurrencies, and it has had some impressive milestones this year.

Earlier this month, BitPay partnered with e-commerce company Shop.com to allow crypto payments. Thanks to the partnership, Shop.com’s customers will now be able to make payments for their purchases using seven digital assets and five stablecoins.

Crypto’s Continued Entry Into Payments

Besides ease of use and access, large payment companies have also been moving more into the crypto space as they look to increase their platforms’ security. For instance, this month saw the bombshell acquisition of crypto analytics and tracking platform CipherTrace by credit card manufacturer Mastercard.

As an official announcement pointed out, Mastercard confirmed that it plans to integrate CipherTrace’s operations into its cybersecurity solutions for cryptocurrencies. The two companies will combine their cyber capabilities and tools to improve Mastercard’s real-time payments and card infrastructure.

Amongst other things, Mastercard executives explained that the CipherTrace acquisition would help ensure that their clients can spend cryptocurrencies easily while maintaining regulatory safety standards.

The move is part of Mastercard’s plan to establish a much broader presence in the crypto space. In July, company CEO Michael Miebach said that they would be looking to become the de facto payment processing channel for intra-country transfers using central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and stablecoins.

With more countries looking to digitize their currencies, Mastercard is looking to make it easier for international value flows using these assets. The CipherTrace acquisition will make it much easier.

Read Original/a>
Author: Jimmy Aki

Cryptocurrencies Are A “Pure Trading Instrument,” says CEO of World’s Largest Hedge Fund

Cryptocurrencies Are A “Pure Trading Instrument,” says CEO of World’s Largest Hedge Fund

Luke Ellis, the CEO of Man Group, says cryptocurrencies have “no inherent worth whatsoever” and compared them to tulip bulbs mania but added that it’s suitable for trading.

“If you look at cryptocurrencies as a whole, it is a pure trading instrument. It has no inherent value. It’s a tulip bulb,” said Ellis, whose largest publicly listed hedge fund manages $127 billion in assets (AUM) as of March 31.

The London-based hedge fund manager uses quantitative models to make profits off of trends in markets, and crypto is one of them.

Ellis said cryptocurrencies were one of about 800 markets plus thousand of stocks and credits that they operate in. He said,

“We like to be long and short depending on what the models say is likely to happen in the market, and we will trade it in the long and short term with the same happiness and in as large a size as the market liquidity allows you to trade.”

“We trade S&P futures to sushi rice futures.”

But just because the hedge fund trades crypto doesn’t mean they are an asset management product in which they “offer value.” Crypto assets, he maintained, are “things to trade because they go up and down a lot.”

Like many people from traditional finance, Ellis is still in the phase of preferring blockchain technology, which he believes has potential, then cryptos that can be of “infinite numbers” because anyone can launch one any day.

While Ellis has his concerns and doubts about cryptocurrencies’ value, he understands what’s driving investors towards them. He said,

“The thing that worries customers the most is inflation.”

“I think we will stay in a world of very low rates until central banks lose control, and when they lose control, it will not be fun.”

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

World’s Leading Index Provider Launches Three New Digital Asset Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices, the world’s leading index provider, which is behind S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has officially launched its new series of digital asset benchmarks, the S&P Digital Market Indices.

These new indices will be measuring the performance of cryptocurrencies. It covers the top two cryptos, with additional coins to be included later this year.

At launch, it includes three indexes, including S&P Bitcoin Index, S&P Ethereum Index, and S&P Cryptocurrency MegaCap Index; the last one will measure the performance of BTC and Ether.

The indices will use pricing data from crypto software and data provider Lukka.

With these indices, S&P Dow Jones aims to make it easier for investors to access the emerging asset class while potentially mitigating some common risks in this “speculative market” and bringing transparency to what it calls an “exciting” market.

“Traditional financial markets and digital assets are no longer mutually exclusive markets,” said Peter Roffman, Global Head of Innovation and Strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “As cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, investors now have access to reliable and transparent benchmarks backed by institutional quality pricing data.”

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Fidelity Amasses over $100 Million from 83 Investors for its Bitcoin Fund

One of the world’s largest asset managers, Fidelity Investments’ Bitcoin Fund raised $102 million from investors since its launch in August last year.

According to the filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the asset manager amassed a total of $102,350,437 from 83 investors with a minimum investment of $50,000 each, in a matter of nine months.

Last month, Morgan Stanley’s standalone Bitcoin Fund, which is offered in partnership with NYDIG, aggregated $29.4 million in its first two weeks.

The pooled investment fund is a passively-managed vehicle that Fidelity sells to qualified investors through the company’s subsidiary Fidelity Digital Funds.

Wise Origin Bitcoin Index Fund I, LP is managed by chief strategist Peter Jubber.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

NYDIG CEO: We’ll See an ‘Explosion’ in Bitcoin-Driven Financial Innovation in Banking & Insurance

Ross Stevens also revealed that he had a meeting with the heads of three of the world’s largest central banks about Bitcoin and inflation. He believes that we could see a central bank adopting the bitcoin standard or purchasing BTC as a reserve asset in the next 12 months.

“Bitcoin is life insurance” is how Ross Stevens, founder, and CEO of NYDIG, a Bitcoin management company, which is the subsidiary of $10 billion asset manager Stone Ridge, defined the cryptocurrency in his latest interview.

Bitcoin, according to him, is a payout in the form of freedom and dignity. And when one is poor, and all they have is fiat, then “that’s a melting ice cube of value” as the Federal Reserve continues to print money.

And this has been through the thoughts of “exacerbation of wealth inequality, profound unfairness of central bank activities,” that Stevens “saw the awesome power of bitcoin.”

NYDIG bought a bunch of bitcoin way back when no one knew about it and held it all the way through. But in 2020, they bought more bitcoin than the previous five years combined and are “on a pace to buy even more this year.”

This is because the company sees Bitcoin as a “peaceful weapon of choice against central bank driven time theft.”

The firm basically went all-in in 2017, and “it had profound effects on our company,” said Stevens adding,

“if you think about that denominator of fiat money just never-ending and expanding, that means necessarily that bitcoin gets more and more valuable.”

Bitcoin is the “first store of value in human history whose supply is completely impervious to any amount of increased demand,” he said.

Cash No Longer An Asset But A Liability

As we have been since last year, ever since the Fed implemented ultra-loose monetary policy, the value of the currency took a hit, propelling companies to see Bitcoin as a treasury asset, a replacement to the cash.

“Cash is no longer an asset; it is a liability,” said Stevens, and as such, companies have to decide what to do with their reserves.

“For companies like Stone Ridge and others that have adopted the bitcoin standard versus companies in their industries that have not, the results are profound, and part of the key is a shift in mindset,” which is that “bitcoin is not vulnerable,” like fiat and not subject to the whims of human frailties like decision making, he added.

This means, if you are not long bitcoin, you are short bitcoin, which is “not going away.”

Others also realize it, and that’s why NYDIG is “seeing uptake from kind of all spectrums of financial services, all spectrum of investors.”

“We’re At A Time Of Great Transition”

Amidst the growing interest for bitcoin, the strangest pairing in the most active folks is millennials and life insurers. What they have in common is that “they have the longest fiat denominated liabilities basically in the world,” said Stevens.

“What you will see over the next 12 to 24 months is nothing short of an explosion in bitcoin-driven financial innovation in the banking sector and the insurance sector.”

The problem is that people don’t feel safe with trusting their financial solution, and NYDIG is partnering with them to solve this. And the beginning of the baby steps of a rollout would be seen in Q4 with 2022 as “the year of bank after bank after bank enabling their customers to buy bitcoin,” get BTC rewards on credit cards and receive interest in it as well.

As for fear and opposition from central banks on bitcoin, Stevens revealed that he is meeting with the top officials who want to understand this asset class. “We’re at a time of great transition,” he said.

Steven didn’t share the name of the officials but said that they had a four-hour-long discussion:

“This past Saturday, the heads of three of the largest central banks in the world wanted to talk about inflation and bitcoin with me.”

But one topic he thinks about is when a country will change their legal tender laws to adopt the bitcoin standard, or a central bank would purchase bitcoin as a reserve asset. According to him, there is a 50-50 chance this would happen, and his contemplation is that it will happen in the next 12 months, he said.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Grayscale Buys A Stake in ClearShares; Helps Them Convert ‘PIFI’ to ‘BTC’ ETF

The world’s largest digital asset manager, Grayscale Investments, has purchased a stake in a little-known ETF provider, ClearShares.

This is the same company that we reported this week filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to change its ticker from “PIFI” to “BTC,” effective from April 16, 2021.

What had been looking like a company trying to ride the coattails of crypto success, as ClearShares Piton Intermediate Fixed Income exchange-traded fund has no involvement with the industry, it turns out it was Grayscale’s attempt at a Bitcoin ETF.

Recently, the asset manager, which surpassed $50 billion in AUM, shared its intention to convert Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into an ETF. GBTC, which has $41.5 billion in assets under management, is on track to take over the world’s largest commodity, ETF GLD, which has $57 billion in AUM.

Grayscale had purchased a stake in the $32 million ClearShares ETF, which is involved in buying investment-grade corporate bonds, U.S. government agency bonds, and Treasuries.

“Grayscale has taken an ownership stake in ClearShares as part of its long-term commitment to bring digital currency ETFs to market, with the potential to collaborate on products with investment strategies related to the digital currency industry,” spokesperson Seres Lu has been reported as saying.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Grayscale Adds Chainlink (LINK) to its Digital Large Cap Fund

Grayscale Investments, the world’s largest digital asset manager, has rebalanced its Digital Large Cap Fund (GDLC) composition to make the crypto asset LINK part of it.

Built on Ethereum, Chainlink is an oracle service provider which was recently announced by Grayscale as a single-asset investment product.

The 10th largest cryptocurrency by market cap of $14.17 billion is the only one qualified for this inclusion in the Fund, out of the other four latest additions, LivePeer (LPT), Filecoin (FIL), Decentraland (MANA), and Basic Attention Token (BAT) by Grayscale. The Fund’s composition is evaluated every quarter.

The Fund’s portfolio, a passive rules-based strategy that seeks to provide exposure to 70% of the digital asset market, has been adjusted by selling its existing components. The cash proceeds from that were then used to purchase LINK.

As of April 2nd, 2021, the Fund is a composition of 79.8% Bitcoin (BTC), 17.5% Ethereum (ETH), 0.80% Bitcoin Cash (BCH), 1.00% Litecoin (LTC) and 0.90% Chainlink (LINK).

On April 1st, Grayscale added 65.67k LINK and now holds a total of 115.57k LINK, worth just over $4 million.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

BlackRock Discloses Bitcoin Exposure in SEC Filing; Holding .5M in CME BTC Futures

BlackRock Discloses Bitcoin Exposure in SEC Filing; Holding $6.5M in CME BTC Futures

The world’s largest asset manager BlackRock with $8.7 trillion in assets under management (AUM), disclosed in its latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it already has exposure to Bitcoin.

As the investment giant said earlier this year that they have “started to dabble,” the filing published on Wednesday indeed showed that.

The asset manager that held $6.5 million in CME Bitcoin futures contracts at the beginning of 2021 has these appreciating about $360,457 on reporting day. These holdings, however, are just 0.03% of BlackRock’s Global Allocation Fund.

It was in January they gave two of its funds the green light to trade Bitcoin futures.

Ever since last year, when corporates and legendary investors started warming up to Bitcoin, BlackRock also showed its interest in the leading cryptocurrency.

While the fund CEO Larry Fink had said they are watching Bitcoin and that it can become a store of value, the BlackRock CIO Rick Rieder noted that three is clearly greater demand for BTC than supply, which can even replace gold one day.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Canadian Financial Institution Launches World’s First Stablecoin Backed by Bank Deposits

Canadian Financial Institution Launches World’s First Stablecoin Backed by Bank Deposits

  • Canadian-based bank, VersaBank, announced the launch of its digital stablecoin, VCAD, which is backed 1:1 by Canadian dollar bank deposits by the bank.

VersaBank, a North American banking leader in B2B digital payment solutions, announced its plans to launch VCAD, the “world’s first digital currency backed by a North American bank deposits”. The stablecoin aims to offer users a channel of commerce while offering the highest levels of stability and security on its system.

The VCAD stablecoin is as a result of a partnership between VersaBank and Stablecorp, a joint venture between crypto asset manager, 3iQ and Mavenet, a blockchain development firm, both Canadian firms too. The partnership will ensure the commercial launch of VCAD, with VersaVault, a digital bank vault under VersaBank’s cybersecurity subsidiary, DRT Cyber Inc., securely managing the stablecoin.

The VCAD project is expected to launch in the coming months, a statement from the team further stated.

VCAD allows consumers and businesses to leverage the benefits of stable tokens such as removing the wild volatility experienced across the crypto market or fiat currencies. Moreover, users will also enjoy the security of a fully-backed stablecoin through the bank deposits, David Taylor, President of VersaBank and DRT Cyber Inc. said in a statement.

“Consumers and businesses purchasing products and services with VCAD will finally know the precise value of their digital currency when executing these transactions.”

At launch, VCAD will be issued to financial intermediaries working with VersaBank in exchange for Canadian dollar deposits. These partners and intermediaries will then offer the stablecoin directly to users and businesses allowing them to redeem for Canadian dollars and payment purposes at any time. Jean Desgagne, CEO, Stablecorp said,

“VCAD provides consumers with not only the security afforded by an underlying deposit with a Canadian chartered bank but also the comfort of knowing that each VCAD issued or redeemed will always have one-to-one value with the Canadian dollar.”

Stablecoins are rapidly gaining acceptance across Canada as a bank of Canada official, Deputy Governor Tim Lane, praised the innovation over “flawed Bitcoin” as a payment channel.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

MasterCard Launches World’s First CBDC-Linked Card in the Bahamas

MasterCard Launches World’s First CBDC-Linked Card in the Bahamas

  • MasterCard launches prepaid cards for the Bahamian central bank digital currency or CBDC.
  • The card allows payments using the Sand Dollar across all accepted stores.

MasterCard, Island Pay, and the central bank of Bahamas collaborate to launch the world’s first CBDC-linked card. The card will integrate Bahamian digital currency, Sand Dollars, enhancing and allowing greater flexibility on how users can pay at any MasterCard-accepted store, an announcement on Wednesday read.

The prepaid card will convert the Sand Dollars to any fiat currency, and users can pay for goods and services around the world.

Island Pay and MasterCard launched the card to “reduce the operational distribution costs of cash and modernize the overall payments system” across the islands. Richard Douglas, the co-founder of Island Pay, said,

“By working closely with the Central Bank of The Bahamas and Mastercard, we can issue a prepaid card unlike any other in the world.”

“We are now able to bring immediate, critical benefits to our customers at a time when they are looking to find new, innovative ways to pay.”

Piloted in 2019, the Sand Dollar became the first-ever fully-deployed CBDC to a country’s fiat system. The Sand dollar carries the same customer protection laws and value propositions as the Bahamian fiat currency. The project aims to build a more inclusive financial system by facilitating government disbursements across the 700+ islands and offering more payment options to Bahamians.

The partnership with MasterCard is expected to open up the Sand Dollar borders, which was previously only available to selected merchants in the Bahamas.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera