Launch Timeline for Bakkt’s Bitcoin Futures to Be Clarified Early 2019: ICE

 

The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced an update on the launch of the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract in an official notice Dec. 31.

The document from ICE — the operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and creator of digital assets platform Bakkt — states that “[f]ollowing consultation with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC], ICE Futures U.S., Inc. expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019 for the trading, clearing and warehousing” of Bakkt’s Bitcoin (BTC) futures contract.

The document reiterated that previously the firm had been targeting Jan. 24, 2019 as a launch date, but that the date “will be amended pursuant to the CFTC’s process and timeline.”

The statement also outlines the particular nature of Bakkt’s futures contracts, stating:

“The Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract is a physically-settled daily futures contract for bitcoin held in Bakkt Warehouse, and will be cleared by ICE Clear US, Inc. Each futures contract calls for delivery of one bitcoin held in Bakkt Warehouse, and will trade in U.S. dollar terms.”

As Cointelegraph also reported today, Bakkt has completed its first funding round, raising $182.5 million from 12 partners and investors.

ICE initially announced the intention to create an “open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets” powered by the Microsoft cloud infrastructure this past August.

The founder of Galaxy Digital — a crypto investment firm that invested in Bakkt — cited Bakkt’s pending launch as one of the industry developments that could help turn around the downward trend in crypto markets this year.

Bitcoin on Facebook? Lite.IM Adds BTC Support for Leading Social Networks

Cryptocurrency adoption pioneers Lite.IM have just announced that the platform will now support Bitcoin (BTC) payments. This means, users of Facebook, Telegram, and even plain old SMS will now be able to send BTC to one another via their chosen social application.

Such moves bridge the gap between the now enormously adopted mobile phone and social media networks and the still niche Bitcoin.

Lite.IM Brings Bitcoin Payments to the Masses

Users of various popular social messaging applications and even SMS will now be able to send Bitcoin to their contacts using the Lite.IM application. Zulu Republic, the developer of the software, announced the addition of Bitcoin to its list of supported cryptos late last week via a Tweet and their Medium channel.

The Lite.IM platform was developed by Zulu Republic with the aim of aiding the proliferation of cryptocurrency use. It already supports payments across all aforementioned platforms using Litecoin (LTC), Ether (ETH), and the company’s own token, ZTX.

Zulu Republic had the following to say about the recent decision to include Bitcoin as part of the Lite.IM platform:

“With each new update, Lite.IM becomes more and more of a user-friendly cryptocurrency powerhouse, moving us closer and closer to widespread adoption. We’re proud to be bringing the world’s most popular cryptocurrency to the combined 2.5 billion users of Facebook and Telegram, not to mention all those who lack dependable internet access that can now manage Bitcoin via SMS messaging.”

The Lite.IM platform could do a lot for cryptocurrency adoption. By adding the sending function to a service an absolute novice is already familiar with, the barrier to entry is lowered somewhat. However, users need to nurture this adoption themselves. Expecting someone to suddenly buy Bitcoin to use with Lite.IM just because they can is futile. However, offering to send someone a few bucks in Bitcoin over the service will certainly yield different, more favourable results.

Social Media Giants Already Eyeing Crypto

The Lite.IM is a layer that works above the application itself, it is, of course, not an endorsement by any of the aforementioned social media networks for Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. For the likes of Facebook and Telegram, such an endorsement may be counterproductive based on their own current ambitions with digital currencies.

Facebook has recently been rumoured to be launching their own stable coin to use on the mammoth social network. The company has been assembling an impressive roster of blockchain specialists, which includes former PayPal execs. According to one anonymous insider, the plan is to launch a USD-pegged digital currency to use on the WhatsApp social messeging application.

Elsewhere, Telegram, the cross-platform messaging service is also pursuing similar ends. It had originally planned to launch an ICO in spring of this year. However, the company raised $1.8 billion through private investors and the token sale was not needed. This money will be used to fund a network to rival Ethereum. According to recent reports, it is around 70% complete.

 

Related Reading: Binance CEO: About Time Facebook Launches Its Own Crypto, Bolsters Adoption

Featured Image from Shutterstock.

 

EOS Price Analysis – December 31

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EOS Price Analysis – December 31

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Eos, EOSUSD, Cryptocompare chartEOS chart by tradingview

EOSUSD Price Medium-term Trend: Bullish

Supply zones: $9.00, $10.00, $11.00

Demand zones: $2.00, $1.00, $0.50

EOS resumes bullish trend in its medium-term outlook. The bullish marubozu candle followed by the bullish engulfing candle on 28th December confirmed the bulls are now in charge of the market. EOSUSD rose to $2.88 in the supply area over the weekend as momentum gradually reduces on 29th December with the formation of a long-tailed inverted candle.

Correction to the move resulted in the bears dropping the price to $2.58 in the demand area.

Today’s opening 4-hour candle formed a bearish railroad and price was down to $2.53 in the demand area as the bearish momentum shows exhaustion and possible bull return.

The price is below the two EMAs crossover while the stochastic oscillator signal points down at 22% which reflect the downward price movement before a possible reversal to the upside.

EOSUSD Price Short-term Trend: Ranging

Eos, EOSUSD, Cryptocompare chartEOS chart by tradingview

EOS  is in a range bound-market in its short-term outlook. After a bullish opening at $2.73 and minor push of the price to $2.77 in the supply area, the bears gradually staged a return which was confirmed by a bearish engulfing candle at $2.74 which dropped EOSUSD to $2.65 in the demand area.

The price is below the two EMAs and the stochastic oscillator signal points up at 38% as the cryptocurrency ranges.

EOS is in consolidation and trading between $2.78 in the upper supply area and at $2.53 in the lower demand area of the range. A breakout at the upper supply area or breakdown at the lower area may occur hence patience is required to allow this to happen before a position is taken.

 

 The views and opinions expressed here do not reflect that of CryptoGlobe.com and do not constitute financial advice. Always do your own research

Indian Gov’t to Approach Crypto Regulation ‘With Due Caution’

The Indian government is approaching cryptocurrency regulation with caution, tech magazine Quartz reported Dec. 31, quoting Pon Radhakrishnan, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Shipping.

The latest episode in India’s increasingly drawn-out path to formalizing its domestic cryptocurrency economy, Radhakrishnan said that the lack of a “globally acceptable solution” meant lawmakers were unlikely to issue formal statues in the short term.

Addressing the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, on Dec. 28, he said:

“In absence of a globally acceptable solution and the need to devise technically feasible solution, the department is pursuing the matter with due caution. It is difficult to state a specific timeline to come up with clear recommendations.”

India currently enforces a ban on banks servicing cryptocurrency-related operations. Enacted in July, the Reserve Bank of India’s rule has led to the exit of several local businesses and a Supreme Court challenge.

Thus far, neither the central bank nor the government has been moved by the consumer backlash, a governmental panel source earlier this month suggesting making cryptocurrency partially illegal was still on the cards.

Nonetheless, this week saw the same panel reportedly signal it would be in favor of regulation over criminalization of the sector.

At present, it remains legal to own cryptocurrency in India, but some parties have publicly stated as of October that they consider such ownership illegal.

Bakkt Raises $182.5M From Microsoft And Other Big-Name Investors

Bakkt on Monday announced the completion of its first funding round, to the tune of $182.5 million. The platform which aims to offer the first-ever Bitcoin-settled futures contracts in the coming year says it is going ahead with its plans irrespective of the current market conditions.


$182.5 Million in Funding From High Profile Investors

In a Medium post published on Monday (Dec. 31, 2018) by the Bakkt CEO, Kelly Loeffler, the company announced that it had successfully carried out its first funding round. According to the announcement, 12 investors participated in the capital raising exercise.

The CEO notes the investors including some big names, namely:

The partners and investors in the first round include Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, the fintech arm of Naspers, and Protocol Ventures.

Bakkt Moving Ahead Despite Bear Market

For Loeffler, the status quo remains unchanged despite the prolonged bear market that characterized the cryptocurrency space in 2018. The company intends to continue its drive for proper onboarding of clients, as well as, collaborating with relevant business partners.

New York Stock Exchange Owner to Launch Bitcoin Data Service

Reinstating Bakkt’s commitment and resolve to the process, Loeffler, said:

We have worked to build new markets and products many times before. Those of us building Bakkt have earned our stripes by helping advance markets in once-nascent asset classes, from energy to credit derivatives and, now, bitcoin. The path to developing new markets is rarely linear: progress tends to modulate between innovation, dismissal, reinvention, and, finally, acceptance.

According to Loeffler, focusing on the BTC price 00 action is a distraction from the groundbreaking developments happening with Bitcoin as a whole. The Bakkt CEO also noted that paradigm-shifting technological breakthroughs have a long incubation time and price isn’t always the best metric for gauging growth.

Notably, 2018 was the most active year for crypto in its brief ten-year history. This was evidenced by rising investment in distributed ledger technology and digital assets, as well as by blockchain network metrics such as daily bitcoin transaction value and active addresses. Yet, these milestones tend to be overshadowed by the more narrow focus on bitcoin’s price…

Bakkt Postponed From January to ‘Early 2019’

Bakkt and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) continue to work out modalities for the launch of the BTC-settled futures contracts. However, the current government shutdown in the United States looks like it has pushed back the January 2019 launch to “early 2019.”

The official statement published on December 31, reads:

Following consultation with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, ICE Futures U.S., Inc. expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019, for the trading, clearing and warehousing of the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract. The launch had previously been set for January 24, 2019, but will be amended pursuant to the CFTC’s process and timeline.

While awaiting CFTC approval, the platform says it will continue to onboard customers while firming up its institutional-grade infrastructure.

Do you think the signs are good for Bakkt following this successful fundraising round? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Twitter (@Bakkt), Shutterstock

Bakkt’s Investors Place $182.5M Bet on Crypto Adoption, Launch Postponed Again

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On Monday (31 December 2018), Kelly Loeffler, the Chief Executive Officer of Bakkt, a subsidiary of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), announced that Bakkt, in its first round of fundraising, had received $182.5 million from several partners and investors who also “believe in the future of digital assets.”

In a blog post published a short time ago, Loeffler started by explaining who some of these partners/investors were:

“Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, the fintech arm of Naspers, and Protocol Ventures.”

Next, she explained what Bakkt’s current focus was: 

“Our work today is centered on driving institutional access for digital assets, along with merchant and consumer uses, and we’re already expanding on this vision, collaborating with great companies like Starbucks in these efforts.”

In particular, she said that she and COO Adam white were “focused on opportunities to provide new infrastructure, including the industry’s first institutional grade regulated exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage.”

She also had some very good news:

“Clearing firms and customers have continued to join us as we work toward CFTC approval. We made great progress in December, and we’ll continue to onboard customers as we await the ‘green light.’”

As for when they will receive “regulatory approval for physically delivered and warehoused bitcoin” from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), she explained that Bakkt had filed the necessary applications, and it was now just waiting for the green light from the CFTC, which was originally expected (according to her blog post from November 20th) to take place next month.

However, according to a notice (titled “BAKKT BITCOIN (USD) DAILY FUTURES CONTRACT LAUNCH UPDATE”) posted on the Intercontinental Exchange website, it seems that the Bakkt platform’s launch has been postponed, with a new launch date set to be announced in early 2019:

“Following consultation with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, ICE Futures U.S., Inc. expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019, for the trading, clearing and warehousing of the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract. The launch had previously been set for January 24, 2019, but will be amended pursuant to the CFTC’s process and timeline.”

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Bakkt

67 Cryptocurrency Companies Probed by UK Regulator

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has reportedly provided an update of its investigations of crypto companies. A total of 67 inquiries were launched, 49 of which have been closed, leaving 18 businesses currently under investigation. The UK government has reportedly said it is ready to give power to the FCA to regulate the crypto industry.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

More Crypto Companies Under Investigation

67 Cryptocurrency Companies Probed by UK RegulatorThe U.K.’s FCA has released new information regarding its investigations into crypto businesses to The Telegraph in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The publication reported on Saturday that the FCA revealed that “as of Nov. 12 it had opened inquiries into 67 firms involved in cryptocurrency businesses.” The Financial Times elaborated:

The Financial Conduct Authority on Sunday confirmed it was investigating 18 businesses involved in the sale of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The regulator has also issued alerts and warnings about dozens of companies suspected of cryptocurrency investment scams.

67 Cryptocurrency Companies Probed by UK RegulatorOut of 67 inquiries, 49 have been closed. The FCA issued consumer alerts for 39 firms. “Alerts are issued by the regulator when it is concerned a company is operating without authorisation, and is a suspected scam,” the publication described. The other 10 inquiries were closed because the companies involved were either warned that they may need authorization to continue their activities or there was not enough evidence to proceed with the investigation. The regulator declined to name the companies under investigation.

In May, the FCA investigated 24 crypto firms. In November, The Telegraph reported that the number of unauthorized crypto companies the regulator suspected of operating in the financial services industry jumped to 50, citing information from a different FOI request. In addition, the regulator has received seven whistle-blowing reports from employees of crypto businesses this year, whereas it did not receive any in the previous three years.

Regulating the UK Crypto Industry

While cryptocurrency transactions are currently not regulated in the U.K., companies that sell regulated investments with cryptocurrencies as their underlying assets may need approval from the FCA. However, “it is currently unclear in some instances whether certain assets fall within the scope,” the news outlet noted.

67 Cryptocurrency Companies Probed by UK RegulatorFollowing a report by the Treasury Committee published in September stating that “‘Wild West’ crypto-assets should be regulated,” the government earlier this month said that it is ready to give the FCA power to oversee the cryptocurrency industry. The authority will launch a consultation early next year to determine how the crypto market should be regulated.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, explained that the government will discuss whether crypto assets that “have comparable features to specified investments but that fall outside the current perimeter” should be regulated, the news outlet quoted him as saying. Glen further detailed:

Subject to the outcome of this consultation, the government stands ready to legislate to expand the regulatory perimeter to ensure that FCA regulation can be applied to all cryptoassets that have comparable features to security tokens, regardless of the way they are structured.

Furthermore, the FCA said in October that it is considering banning the sale of crypto derivatives. In November, news.Bitcoin.com reported that the regulator indicated that a “comprehensive response” to the illicit adoption of crypto assets is being planned.

What do you think of the U.K.’s FCA investigating all these crypto companies? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the U.K.’s FCA.


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NYSE Operator’s Crypto Platform Bakkt Completes $182.5 Million Funding Round

Digital assets platform Bakkt — created by the operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) — has announced the completion of its first funding round in a blog post today, Dec. 31.

The institutional investor-focused cryptocurrency platform from the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) has officially raised $182.5 million from 12 partners and investors, according to the post.

The partners and investors reportedly include major names in both traditional finance and crypto-oriented investing, including ICE, Boston Consulting Group, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Microsoft’s venture capital arm and Pantera Capital.

Bakkt also noted in the announcement that the company is working with United States regulators — namely the  Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) — to obtain “regulatory approval for physically delivered and warehoused bitcoin,” adding:

“We have filed our applications and the timing for approval is now based on the regulatory review process.”

Also today, ICE separately announced in a notice that the firm “expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019, for the trading, clearing and warehousing of the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract.” In late November, the long-awaited digital assets platform stated that it was targeting Jan. 24, 2019 as a launch date, pending CFTC approval.

ICE first announced plans to create a Microsoft cloud-powered “open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets” in August, as Cointelegraph reported at the time.

Multiple experts and commentators in the crypto and blockchain industry have pointed to Bakkt’s coming launch as a major factor that will help crypto markets rebound from this year’s ongoing bear market.

Here’s How Hackers Made Nearly $1 Million from not Stealing

HackerOne, a bug bounty platform that allows companies to test their security with ethical hackers, has announced that nearly $1,000,000 has been collected from blockchain companies as of December 30, 2018.

Blockchain Has Bugs Too

While blockchain technology is regarded in many people’s eyes the solution to problems that plague key industries, technology is still technology and requires debugging. With the concept of cryptocurrency only coming into existence a decade ago, there are still lots of issues companies are working out.

As demand for cryptocurrency increase, demand for someone or a service that can patch vulnerabilities increases as well. Critical bugs that would allow hackers to manipulate transactions and the like are more severe in this space due to cryptocurrency’s generally decentralized nature.

Since transactions are typically irreversible, it makes it hard to not only track where stolen funds have gone but to do anything about it as well. Outside of a network-wide hardfork to an earlier time on the blockchain, there’s not much one can do if they wake up to their funds stolen.

Big Bucks for Bugs

Both companies new and old are devoting serious money into their bug bounty program. Coinbase has had a program running since 2014 and is the second largest blockchain company handing out bounties on the platform.

The first would be Block.one, the same team behind EOS. While their bug bounty program for EOS only launched in May 2018, The bounties they handed out accounted for 60 percent of bounties this year.

While only 4 percent of bounties are from crypto-related companies further highlights the considerable demand in comparison with other sectors. With only 64 crypto companies listed on the platform, amount of bounties and dollars distributed are expected to go up as more join the platform. Each cryptocurrency represents a potential “company” that could join the platform, as well as other traditional businesses.

According to research conducted earlier this year, there’s suggested to be over 34,000 vulnerable, smart contracts in Ethereum alone which would give hackers plenty to work with. Furthermore, the average bounty within crypto compensated the hackers better as well.

Bounties averaged around $1490, much higher than the Q4 average of $900 for the platform. A spokesperson for HackerOne even reported that one of the top paid crypto hackers earned 7x that of a similar software engineer in their country.

$182 Million: ICE Exchange’s Bitcoin Startup Bakkt Announces Massive Fundraise

Bakkt has raised $182.5 million to build out its global digital assets platform and bitcoin futures product.

The round, which is Bakkt’s first, included 12 partners, according to a Medium post by CEO Kelly Loeffler. The crypto startup is owned by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which is best known as the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Investors in the funding round included Boston Consulting Group, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, ICE, M12 (Microsoft’s VC fund), Pantera Capital and Protocol Ventures.

Loeffler wrote:

“We are focused on opportunities to provide new infrastructure, including the industry’s first institutional grade regulated exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage.”

In a separate announcement Monday, Bakkt disclosed that its planned bitcoin futures market has been delayed again. CoinDesk had previously warned that such a delay was likely. It had been expected to launch on Jan. 24. A new date has not been announced.

Loeffler first announced Jan. 24 as the target launch date in a previous delay announcement issued in November.

The release ascribed the delay to consultation with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, estimating a new launch date should be announced early in the new year.

While these delays may engender impatience on the part of bitcoin holders who had hoped a new institutional-grade product could relieve some of the pain of crypto winter, today’s fundraising announcement leans heavily on a message of patience.

Noting that the Bakkt team has been built from veterans of other new and nascent financial markets, Loeffler wrote, “The path to developing new markets is rarely linear: progress tends to modulate between innovation, dismissal, reinvention and, finally, acceptance.”

Moving too soon, she notes, has its own dangers:

“While access to information as technology innovation occurs is extremely valuable, the risk is a ‘marking to market’ of innovations before they have a chance to mature. Few innovations reached their full potential in their first decade of development.”

Bakkt declined to give additional comment. Investors were not immediately available for comment.

New York Stock Exchange photo via Shutterstock