SEC Rejects VanEck Spot Bitcoin ETF, But its Futures ETF Finally Coming Next Week

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected rule changes that would have allowed the listing and trading of the VanEck Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

In March, the Cboe BZX Exchange filed a proposed rule change to list and trade shares of the Bitcoin Trust, but the SEC again rejected the physically-backed ETF after delaying the decision on the application twice.

This time, the regulator reiterated its long-stated concern that a product based on the spot price of Bitcoin could violate securities rules because the market is too prone to abuse. The SEC in its order, said,

“The Commission applies the same standard used in its orders considering previous proposals to list bitcoin-based commodity trusts and bitcoin-based trust issued receipts — that it must be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices”

“The Commission concludes that BZX has not met its burden.”

Meanwhile, the agency let the future-based Bitcoin ETFs start trading last month.

As per the document, SEC believes actors could manipulate the spot Bitcoin market without impacting the CME Bitcoin futures pricing, which doesn’t make sense to the crypto industry and the ETF experts.

“Since the SEC has already approved a futures-based bitcoin ETF, we strongly believe it should approve a spot ETF as well. We encourage the SEC to give bitcoin the fair and equal treatment it deserves, and hope future ETF proposals receive their due consideration,” wrote Blockchain Association on Twitter, showing their strong disagreement with the SEC’s decision.

Two bitcoin futures ETFs, the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) and the Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF), began trading in late October and led to a rally in the price of the leading cryptocurrency.

While its proposal for a spot Bitcoin ETF has been rejected, VanEck has set a date to launch its own futures-based Bitcoin ETF. The ETF (XBTF) is set to launch next week on Nov. 16 on Cboe Global Markets.

At an expense ratio of 0.65%, XBTF undercuts the 0.95% charged by the other bitcoin futures ETFs. The fund is actively managed and reserves the right to invest in bitcoin-related companies closely tied to the price of bitcoin futures.

VanEck has been initially eligible to launch since Oct. 23, but the issuer held off launching.

BITO saw massive attraction as it amassed $1 billion in assets in its just first two days of trading. Meanwhile, after BITO, demand for BTF was far less dramatic as it only has $63 million in assets under management.

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Author: AnTy

27 Percent of Americans Would Like Washington to Adopt Bitcoin: Survey

27 Percent of Americans Would Like Washington to Adopt Bitcoin: Survey

Bitcoin legalization as a topic is growing significantly, thanks in no small part to the developments in El Salvador.

Interestingly, a growing number of people in the United States are also looking forward to the day that Bitcoin will become legal tender in the country.

Democrats and Millenials More Receptive

Earlier this week, research and data analytics firm YouGov shared a research report showing that 27 percent of Americans would support the government making Bitcoin legal tender.

The report explained that 11 percent of respondents strongly support the move, while another 16 percent would “somewhat support” it.

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The YouGov poll had taken responses from 4,912 residents in the country. It shared a divide among Democrats and Republicans – the two major political parties in the country. As the report showed, about 29 percent of Democrats would either strongly support or somewhat support recognizing Bitcoin as legal tender in the country. This compares slightly favorably to the 26 percent of Republicans who answered the same way.

Besides political inclinations, the poll also divided respondents based on demographics. Unsurprisingly, respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 are much more supportive of the Bitcoin legalization move, with 44 percent of them showing a positive response. Interestingly, 43 percent of baby boomers (people between 57 and 75) opposed the idea.

El Salvador: Changing the Narrative

As expected, the poll is coming off El Salvador’s crypto law, which officially confirms Bitcoin as legal tender in the country. President Nayibb Bukele has faced heavy criticism from both home and abroad over the law, but he has so far remained resolute in his commitment to the leading cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin was eventually incorporated into El Salvador’s economy on September 7. Since then, reports have confirmed that adoption in the country has ramped up. Popular fast-food chain McDonald’s has reportedly started accepting Bitcoin for payments. The El Salvadorian government has also purchased 200 BTC as part of a $150 million Fund earmarked to spur Bitcoin adoption.

Besides restaurants and the government, Bancoagrícola, El Salvador’s largest financial institution, has partnered with digital payments gateway Flexa to accept Bitcoin payments. As part of the agreement, Bancoagrícola’s customers will be able to make dollar-denominated credit card payments via Flexa or other Lightning Network-enabled wallets. The payments won’t attract any fees, and they will cover things like merchant goods, loans, etc.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Mastercard to Facilitate Conversion of Crypto to Fiat through Stablecoins

Payment processor Mastercard announced on Tuesday that it would enhance its card program for cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges to reduce friction in experience by making it simpler for partners to convert crypto to fiat currency.

For this, the payment giant is working with Paxos Trust, which helped PayPal enable crypto buying, selling, and hold service for its users, Evolve Bank of Trust, and Circle, the issuer of the second-largest USDC stablecoin to facilitate the conversion of crypto to fiat through fiat-backed stablecoins.

BitPay, Uphold, Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Apto Payments, i2c Inc., and Galileo Financial Technologies are other partners.

“Working with Mastercard’s pilot to turn digital assets into dollars for everyday spending will accelerate consumers’ use of crypto as a means of commerce,” said Stephen Pair, co-founder, and CEO of BitPay.

Scot Lenoir, chairman of Evolve, believes settlement via USDC and other stablecoins is the next step in modernizing banking for all, while JP Thieriot, CEO of Uphold says, removing friction and barriers to entry are “critical” to ensure the wide adoption of digital payments.

Up until now, when people spent crypto, it all settled on Mastercard’s network, and those planning to launch or expand card programs found it challenging. Now, the company aims to solve this with its new capability that will enable more banks and crypto companies to offer a card option to people wanting to spend their digital assets anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

“Today, not all crypto companies have the foundational infrastructure to convert cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency, and we’re making it easier,” said Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of digital asset and blockchain products & partnerships at Mastercard.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Cash ABC Rebrands To eCash, Introduces Avalanche Consensus Layer

Bitcoin ABC (BCHA) has announced that it would be rebranding and officially changing its name to a new project dubbed eCash.

The BCHA token will now be renamed XEC.

New eCash To Use PoS Consensus Algorithm

The project said it would be using the latest proof-of-stake consensus layer, “Avalanche,” which would introduce concepts like staking, fork-free network upgrades, and subchains.

The developers described Avalanche as a revolutionary consensus algorithm that reduces the confirmation time of transactions to less than 1 second, thereby greatly increasing the speed of block finality.

With Avalanche, the eCash protocol is expected to be technically sound using a decentralized governance framework. Lead developer Amaury Sechet said,

“eCash opens the door to possibilities previously unattainable by combining the core tech behind Bitcoin’s success – the same fixed supply, halving schedule, and genesis block – with the latest Proof of Stake consensus and protocol governance.”

Sechet also said that as part of the rebranding effort, the number of decimals in the token price would be reduced from 8 to 2.

Crypto exchange Binance has already said that all users of BCHA coins will be converted to XEC at a ratio of one to one million with this upgrade.

BCHA holders do not have to take any action, as the rebranding will take place automatically. The developers of eCash have advised users to upgrade their BCHA wallets, as they expect most wallets and exchanges to use the eCash/XEC variant once the upgrade is complete.

Bitcoin Cash ABC, A Fork Of Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoin Cash ABC is the cryptocurrency project that forked away from both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. While Bitcoin Cash, the first of the Bitcoin forks, was created in 2017, Bitcoin ABC was created in 2020.

Amaury Sechet was one of the Bitcoin pioneers who had a significant impact on the development of both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. However, he parted ways with core developer Roger Ver in 2020 before creating Bitcoin Cash ABC.

Both Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Cash ABC were developed to address the scalability and speed issues of Bitcoin, but they both differ.

One thing that makes Bitcoin Cash ABC different is its “coinbase rule.” The coinbase rule adds a tax to those mining Bitcoin Cash ABC in which 50% is given to developers for protocol operation and the remainder used in a governance system called the Global Network Council.

8% of all BCHA coins mined are distributed back into the ecosystem, enabling a self-sustaining network. Bitcoin Cash ABC has been doing well recently. The coin was up 78.6% last month and currently ranks 217th on the chart with a market cap of $587 million.

Bitcoin Cash, on the other hand, is currently the 12th-largest crypto asset with a capitalization of $9.2 billion, according to CoinmarketCap.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Square Unveils New Initiative To Promote Bitcoin Inclusion

Financial payments firm Square Inc. has announced that it would distribute $5 million in grants to a newly created fund aimed at encouraging financial inclusion for historically under-resourced communities.

Black Bitcoin Billionaire Group Selected As First Recipient

The newly created fund dubbed the Bitcoin Endowment Fund would be focused on building wealth and increasing Bitcoin education.

Square has selected the Black Bitcoin Billionaire group to be the first recipient to get a grant from the Bitcoin Endowment Fund. The Black Bitcoin Billionaire is an organization aimed at educating the Black community on Bitcoin.

The newly created fund would be funded with the interest Square earns on the Bitcoin in its corporate treasury, the company said in a memo.

The Bitcoin Endowment Fund is part of a program Square launched to invest $100 million in promoting financial inclusion.

The initiative is also focused on improving access to crypto and other technologies among minority communities.

As part of the program, $25 million would be contributed to the Netflix-led Black Economic Development Fund while $10 million would be given to the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund group.

Another $10 million would go to international organizations focused on supporting minority groups globally.

The Entrepreneurs of Color fund is managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a non-profit focused on giving minority small business owners capital. It also provides support such as coaching, operational guidance, and training.

President of LISC Fund Management George Ashton noted that the tech firm’s support would help minority business owners struggling with their businesses.

This latest move from Square comes only days after it revealed that it is considering a Bitcoin hardware wallet that would give consumers greater control over their own cryptocurrency.

This comes as no surprise considering the fact that Bitcoin transactions have been a major source of revenue for Square. Through its CashApp, customers store Bitcoin and make purchases.

Square’s Constant Support For Bitcoin And Crypto

The Bitcoin Endowment Fund is part of Square’s ongoing push into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

The company recently invested $5 million to build an open-source, solar-powered bitcoin mining facility at one of the US sites of Blockchain technology firm, Blockstream.

Square also teamed up with Blockstream as part of its Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative.

The CEO and founder of Square, Jack Dorsey, has been known to improve educational opportunities around Bitcoin alongside its adoption.

In February, Dorsey announced a partnership with rapper Jay-Z to donate 500 BTC to an endowment trust in Africa and India.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Hedera Hashgraph Partners With Oracle Solutions Provider Chainlink Labs

Leading Oracle solution Chainlink Labs would be joining the Hedera Governing Council, the governing arm of the distributed ledger company Hedera Hashgraph. This was made known in an announcement on its website.

Chainlink To Integrate With HTS

Chainlink has also been selected as the oracle partner for the Hedera network and will integrate its protocol with the Hedera Token Service (HTS). The HTS allows for the minting, management, and transfer of fungible and non-fungible assets on the blockchain.

Hedera says the partnership provides centralized financial services access to the distributed computational trust, visibility, and control the blockchain ecosystem offers. Chainlink would join the Governing Council as the 21st member.

Hedera will have a maximum of 39 members in its Governance Council. Other council members include major enterprises like IBM, Tata Communications, FIS Global, Nomura Holdings, Google, Deutsche Telekom, Boeing, and DLA Piper.

Speaking on the new development, Chainlink’s Managing Director for Business Development and Strategy David Post said that as blockchain technology continues to advance, decentralized oracle solutions become more important given their myriad use cases.

Post also asserted that Chainlink would expand its suite of smart contract-related services. This would be targeted at empowering a vast array of secure, feature-rich applications.

“To power a vast array of secure, feature-rich applications, it is a very natural progression for us to join the Hedera Governing Council and work with the leading enterprise-grade public network and their other Council members to make Chainlink the default oracle provider for enterprise applications.”

The Boom In DeFi

Cryptocurrencies have been the most talked-about asset class in the past few years. This has been primarily due to the growing adoption by institutional investors who view these lines of digital assets as a better store of value than gold and conventional fiat.

Bitcoin, the first-ever cryptocurrency made globally, has been the face of the nascent industry as it has surged 90%, leading the emerging space to its first trillion-dollar valuation in less than a dozen years.

Even though many crypto investors associate the crypto space with Bitcoin, as per a report by top US crypto exchange Gemini, many other crypto protocols and sub-sectors have also posted positive returns.

One of the best-performing has been the DeFi space. The sub-sector, which has its home primarily on the second most valuable cryptocurrency Ethereum has enjoyed wide adoption.

Following the DeFi protocol Yearn Finance launch in early 2020, DeFi has seen exponential growth, snapping up over 15% of the market share in just a year.

DeFi focuses on providing legacy-backed financial services like earning interests on your savings, lending, borrowing, insurance, and asset speculation. The interest payments have been the main attraction as some projects paid as much as 20% for keeping crypto funds on the platform. This is in contrast to conventional banking rates, which are below 1%.

Chainlink, which provides decentralized oracle solutions to enterprise users, surged over 500% in 2019, rising from just 30 cents to more than $4.27 in June of the same year.

At the time of publishing, 1 LINK currently goes for $31.72.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Nebraska Approves Bill Allowing Banks Offer Crypto Services

The Nebraska state legislature has approved a bill that would allow banks in the state to offer cryptocurrency services to customers.

Nebraska’s Crypto Banking Charter Bill

Nebraska state senators have voted for the bill that would allow banks to register as cryptocurrency depositories and offer crypto trading services to customers.

The bill passed with near-unanimous approval as 39 lawmakers voted to advance the bill to enrollment and initial review, with only one in disagreement.

Senator Mike Flood first introduced the bill in January, intending to adopt the Nebraska Financial Innovation Act to create digital asset depository institutions while providing for charter, operation, supervision, and regulation of such institutions.

According to Senator Flood, Nebraska had an opportunity to become an early adopter of cryptocurrencies which could help it benefit from finance and technology jobs.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only for my district but the state of Nebraska,” he said.

Flood had introduced the bill alongside another also focused on crypto banking. The second, Legislative Bill 648, contains the “Transactions in Digital Assets Act,” which proposes a set of rules for Nebraska banks looking to hold cryptocurrencies or offer custodial services. However, this bill is yet to be adopted.

Nebraska Follows Wyoming’s Footsteps

This move by Nebraska follows similar legislation enacted by the state of Wyoming, thereby making it the second state in the US to set up a formal charter for crypto-powered banks.

Wyoming started its crypto-friendly constitutions when it passed its Digital Asset Law on February 26, 2019, and put into effect on July 1, 2019.

Wyoming went on to approve Kraken as its first crypto bank in September 2020. Kraken was granted the first special-purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter in Wyoming after the banking board approved the application.

After Kraken, another SPDI charter was approved for Avanti by the Wyoming State Banking Board, making it the second chartered bank in the state in 2020.

Nebraska is not the only state that has followed Wyoming’s lead.

Some months back, Texas had attempted to follow in Wyoming’s footsteps after Representative Tan Parker introduced the Texas UCC amendment bill, which aims to recognize virtual currencies under commercial law. This bill was supposed to help define crypto regulation clarity in the state but it did not pass due to lingering challenges.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Uber CEO: We Won’t Invest in Bitcoin, Would Rather Keep the Non Existent Cash Safe

Uber CEO: We Won’t Invest in Bitcoin, Would Rather Keep the Non Existent Cash Safe

PepsiCo also doesn’t have any interest in investing in Bitcoin either, due to the digital asset being “speculative” and just like UBER share prices fell, PEP’s also took a hit, that too in spite of better-than-expected earnings and revenue.

Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi says the company has discussed the idea of buying Bitcoin with corporate cash but “quickly dismissed” it.

After Tesla announced a $1.5 billion purchase of BTC and Twitter is also considering the option of adding Bitcoin to its balance sheet, Uber took the route that General Motors (GM) is taking, no investing in the cryptocurrency.

“It’s a conversation that’s happened that has been quickly dismissed,” Khosrowshahi said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We’re going to keep our cash safe. We’re not in the speculation business.”

However, unlike GM, Uber doesn’t have any cash to spare with their free cash flow running in the negative.

The company’s decision not to invest in Bitcoin saw the share prices of Uber taking a hit initially only to rise to $63.53 but still just 0.5% up from Wednesday’s close. Khosrowshahi said,

“The upside in our company is in the business that we’ve built, not the investments that we invest in.”

Like Uber, PepsiCo CFO, Huge Johnston, said the beverage giant has “had the conversation” but is not going to follow in Tesla, MicroStrategy, and Square’s footsteps. Johnston said,

“The conclusion we came to pretty quickly was bitcoin is too speculative for the way we manage our cash portfolio.”

Just like Uber, PepsiCo’s shares also dropped by 1.22%; they have actually been falling ever since the beginning of 2021, despite the company’s better-than-expected earnings and revenue.

The ride-hailing and food-delivery provider, Uber, however, is interested in considering the option of accepting cryptocurrencies as payment, something GM is also evaluating. Khosrowshahi said,

“Just like we accept all kinds of local currency, we are going to look at cryptocurrency and/or bitcoin in terms of currency to transact.”

“That’s good for business. That’s good for our riders and our eaters. That we’ll certainly look at and if there’s a benefit there, if there’s a need there, we’ll do it. We’re just not going to do it as part of a promotion.”

The company reported mixed fourth-quarter earnings with revenue of $3.17 billion, below what Wall Street expected. The company’s overall loss for 4Q20 was $968 million, down from a $1.1 billion loss in the same period last year.

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Author: AnTy

Deeper Pullback in Precious Metals Indicates Flows Are Moving Towards Bitcoin

However, if the dollar rally continues on “that would sink a few boats.”

Cryptocurrencies are already leading the market gains in 2021.

On Friday, Bitcoin price nearly hit $42,000 and is currently holding strongly above $40k with over $14 billion in ‘real’ volume.

This week, BTC started with a dip to about $28,500 and since then has seen a 42% increment in its value.

“The surge in Bitcoin is indicative of froth but not only in that market, in many other areas where risk premiums have come down sharply in the past year despite a recession,” said Kevin Caron, portfolio manager for Washington Crossing. “We view Bitcoin as a proxy for risk appetite.”

Besides Bitcoin, altcoins also enjoyed a good week with notable mentions including Nano (256%), Pundi X (146%), YFL (130%), Stellar (128%), Loopring (126%), ROOK (118%), Nexus (107%), Verge (96%), ALPHA (87%), YFI (82%), SOL (78%), MATIC (67%), KIMCHI (62%), KP3R (60%), IOTA (58%), and Ethereum (58%).

These gains led to the total cryptocurrency market capitalization to climb to $1.09 trillion.

Bitcoin awakening

While cryptocurrencies are enjoying just another green week, the same is not the case for metals.

As we reported, precious metals have been taking a beating for three days in a row. Since Wednesday, spot gold has lost 6.6% of its value and is now seeing a slight relief to $1,847 per ounce. The same is the case for silver, which slid a good 12.8% during the same period.

These losses have been the result of the US dollar index rising and keeping above the 90 level. Unlike the traditional safe-haven asset, Bitcoin and the stock market remained unaffected by the greenback’s strength.

According to Charlie Morris of ByteTree, the deep slide in precious metals could be the result of flows moving towards Bitcoin. “If this continues, expect a dollar counter-rally. That would sink a few boats,” he said.

Much like gold, treasuries also sold off as investors focused on further stimulus. The sell-off in 10-year US Treasuries pushed their yields to their highest levels since March. Despite the UK economy losing 140,000 jobs in December, the first time in eight months. Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Swiss wealth manager Prime Partners, said,

“Investors are buying the end of an erratic Trump administration and looking forward to something new, which is a Biden presidency and the prospect of a significant spending program.”

The Biden administration is expected to be good for cryptocurrencies with the expectations for more stimulus and money printing. Frank Spiteri, chief revenue officer at CoinShares, said,

“It seems like we’re in the middle of a simultaneous awakening among institutions to Bitcoin as an uncorrelated store of value assets with the possibility of serving as an inflation hedge in the face of a highly unconventional monetary policy environment.”

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Author: AnTy

Crypto is the Only Way to Pay for Pornhub After Mastercard & Visa Drops Adult Platform

Last week, Mastercard and Visa announced that they would no longer allow their cards to be used on the popular adult website Pornhub.com. The decision came after the payment processors’ review of the website found unlawful content. Mastercard said in a statement,

“Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content on their site.”

“We instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance.”

Both the companies started the investigation after a New York Times column accused Pornhub of videos depicting child abuse and non-consensual violence, which the company said to be untrue.

In response, this week, Pornhub enacted safeguards including banning unverified uploaders from posting new content and eliminated downloads and partnered with non-profit organizations to combat illegal content. The company’s latest update reads,

“It is clear that Pornhub is being targeted not because of our policies and how we compare to our peers, but because we are an adult content platform.”

Regarding Mastercard and Visa severing its ties with the company, Pornhub said the move was “exceptionally disappointing,” adding that it affects hundreds of thousands of models who rely on the platform for their livelihoods.

Now, the website exclusively supports cryptocurrency as it has become the default payment method.

Currently, the supported digital currencies include Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), Dash, Monero (XMR), Ripple (XRP), NEM (XEM), Tron (TRX), Tether (USDT), Verge (XVG), Waves, and Zcash (ZEC).

This development is expected to help digital currencies gain further adoption as Nic Carter of Coin Metrics states, “financial infrastructure is already thoroughly politicized, from top to bottom.”

Pornhub attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, which is more than Amazon, Netflix, or Yahoo. Venture capitalist Paul Graham, co-founder of startup accelerator Y Combinator tweeted,

“Possible future scenario: Credit card companies become increasingly picky about who they’ll process transactions for, and this becomes the thing that tips the general public into using cryptocurrency in transactions, ultimately killing credit cards.”

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Author: AnTy