Bakkt Gets $740 Million Valuation But Investors Have Questions, Sources Reveal

Intercontinental Exchange’s to-be-launched institutional trading platform Bakkt has earned a $740 million valuation after it raised over $180 million in funding last year, anonymous sources told cryptocurrency industry news outlet The Block on March 21.

Bakkt, which has yet to launch any investment products and continues to liaise with regulators, could increase its valuation even further should it raise further funds.

At the same time, the sources said questions among investors remained about their risk-return ratio, given Bakkt has yet to get the official go-ahead to launch and will operate on different terms from traditional platforms.

“From a cash-flow perspective, Bakkt will not be earning much based on their proposed contract fees, so they really need a lot of volume,” one source told The Block, adding:

“A lot of things will need to line up for investors to receive returns that they would typically expect for a Series A.”

As reported, United States regulator the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) remains in talks to iron out kinks in Bakkt’s operations which have seen its debut pushed back several times.

Nonetheless, according to Commissioner Dan Berkovitz, there appears to be a strong will among lawmakers to ensure Bakkt’s first product — physically-delivered Bitcoin (BTC) futures — makes it to market.

Bakkt’s giant valuation pre-launch comes as the regulatory landscape in the U.S. surrounding crypto products remains uncertain across the board.

As Cointelegraph reported, the fate of the Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) application by VanEck and SolidX, filed and withdrawn several times, currently hangs in the balance as public feedback appears to turn against the concept.

VanEck has sought on multiple occasions to assuage fears over the provenance of its offering.

SBI Holdings Latest Crypto Venture Will See It Make Mining Chips

Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings has established a new subsidiary to manufacture cryptocurrency mining chips and systems.

The new venture, SBI Mining Chip Co. (SBIMC), is a part of SBI’s strategy on digital assets-related businesses, according to an announcement on Friday

SBIMC will be carrying out the development and manufacturing of cryptocurrency miners in partnership with an unnamed “large” semiconductor enterprise in the U.S., said SBI.

The new venture will be led by former NASA veteran Adam Traidman, who has a “high level of expertise in the field of leading-edge semiconductors and other electronics.”

Traidman has a total experience of over 20 years and has served as CEO of Chip Estimate (acquired by Cadence Design Systems, Inc. in 2008) and WearSens (Wearable device developer specialized in dietary monitoring) in the past. He also served as CEO of BRD, in which SBI Group has invested, according to the announcement.

SBI Group, through its subsidiary SBI Crypto, started a mining pool for bitcoin cash (BCH) last year, but is no longer mining the cryptocurrency.

The group first revealed its interest in the cryptocurrency industry back in 2017. At the time, the firm said it is looking to acquire cryptocurrencies directly, including through mining, as well as establishing ways of using cryptocurrencies and providing investment opportunities.

Over the years, the firm has ventured into several areas within the industry, including establishing regulated cryptocurrency exchange VCTRADE last June, and launching blockchain-based money transfer app MoneyTap in partnership with Ripple back in October.

Earlier this year, the group invested $15 million in Swiss startup Tangem, maker of a slimline hardware wallet for cryptocurrencies. It also recently formed a joint venture with blockchain consortium startup R3 to boost the adoption of R3’s Corda platform in Japan and beyond.

Mining rigs image via Shutterstock

Crypto Roundup – Tron’s Four Major Developments to Launch by Q2 2019 & How to File Your Cryptocurrency Taxes

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Crypto Roundup – Tron’s Four Major Developments to Launch by Q2 2019 & How to File Your Cryptocurrency Taxes

crypto-roundup-22-march-2019

MVIS CryptoCompare Top 100 IndexThe MVIS CryptoCompare Top 100 Index has dropped 2.68% in the last 24 hours to 1,375.97

Eight coins from the top 10 coins by 24-hour volume posted negative changes, ranging from 1.27% to 4.08%. Tron’s ‘four major developments’ including zk-SNARKs to launch by Q2 2019How to file your cryptocurrency taxes.

Top 10

CryptoCompare Top 10 Coins

Eight coins from the top 10 coins by 24-hour volume posted negative changes, ranging from 1.27% to 4.08%. ZCash ($56.2) represented a loss of 4.08%, while Bitcoin Cash ($153) and XRP ($0.31) showed negative changes of 3.86% and 2.33% respectively. NEO ($9.3) posted a loss of 1.27%, while Okex ($1.4) and Ethereum CLassic ($4.9) prices raised 4.89% and 1.86%, respectively.

BTC

Bitcoin BTC/USD CryptoCompare Chart

At the time of writing, the Bitcoin price is sitting at $4000 representing a loss of 1.4% in the last 24 hours. More than 160 Mln worth of BTC were exchanged in the BTC/USD market representing a 10.13% share of the global daily volume. The BTC/USDT pair represents a 78.43% share.

ETH

Ethereum ETH/USD CryptoCompare Chart

The Ethereum price posted a negative change of 1.96% over the past 24 hours and is currently sitting at $137, with over $55 Mln worth of Ether exchanged in the past 24 hours on the ETH/USD pair, which has a 4.07% market share of the daily trading volume. The ETH/USDT pair represents a 52.80% share.

EOS

EOS EOS/USD CryptoCompare Chart

The EOS price is sitting at $3.65 representing a negative change of 3.18% in the last 24 hours. More than $10 Mln worth of EOS were exchanged in the EOS/USD market representing a 1.66% share of global daily volume. The EOS/USDT pair represents a 32.41% share.

LTC

Litecoin LTC/USD CryptoCompare Chart

The LTC price has dropped 2.33% over the past 24 hours and is currently sitting at $59, with more than $25 Mln worth of Litecoin exchanged in the past 24 hours on the LTC/USD pair, which represents  a 4.57% share. The biggest Litecoin pair is the LTC/BTC pair, that represents a 49.98% share.

Blockchain in Biometrics Could be Used in Travel Security, US Customs Rep Says

Using blockchain for biometric tracking would be the technology’s killer app in the travel security sector, according to a representative from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. The news was reported by travel industry media outlet Skift on March 21.

Sikina Hasham, program manager at the CBP, made her remarks during a panel at the JetBlue Technology Ventures Blockchain in Travel Summit in New York City on Wednesday.

In response to a question from panel moderator David Post — managing director of IBM Blockchain Ventures — Hasham said that an area of significant promise for the government’s use of blockchain lies in its conjunction with biometrics:

“One area we’ve seen a significant amount of success in is facial comparison and biometric data. There is a service we’ve created to verify who an individual boarding an aircraft who is as they’re seeking admission into the United States. If we could have more data for the verification from another government party, that would be really great for us.”

Nonetheless, Hasham noted, a significant hurdle still needs to be overcome for the technology to gain traction and provide maximum use value: the development of standardized specifications for communication between multiple organizations’ blockchain systems.

If governments are to implement blockchain, rather than legacy databases, to share data within key security areas such as border control, robust standards for the industry would thus be a crucial enabling factor, Hasham implied. She also noted a further challenge the government is reportedly tackling, stating that:

“Our primary goal is security, but also facilitating trade and travel. Blockchain is relatively new for us […] in the travel space, we are still working on figuring out how industry stakeholders in the technology space will help us. […] Privacy and decentralized information are some of the challenges we as a government organization have a legal obligation to protect.”

As reported, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently appealed to startups who develop blockchain solutions that can help prevent forgery of digital documents, in order to serve the mission needs of various programs under its aegis, among them CBP.

The CBP has already been trialing a blockchain shipment tracking system to gauge how much the technology is able to enhance the verification process for certificates of origin from various free trade agreement partners.

The coupling of blockchain with biometrics is meanwhile being developed across diverse applications, including municipal elections, secure ATMs, and Internet of Things biometric devices in the healthcare sector.

China Favors Tron and EOS in New Crypto Ranking But Downgrades Bitcoin

China Favors Tron and EOS in New Crypto Ranking But Downgrades Bitcoin

China’s Center for Information and Industry Development has released its latest crypto project ranking. Tron and EOS top the list out of the 35 crypto projects evaluated while Bitcoin has been downgraded slightly. The center also evaluated the projects independently based on basic technology, applicability, and creativity.

Also read: SEC Chair Explains Key Upgrades Needed for Bitcoin ETF Approval

March Ranking

The Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID), under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, released the 11th update of its crypto project ranking report on Friday. The number of crypto projects evaluated this month was 35, unchanged from the previous month.

“The results show that the world’s three major Dapp platforms — EOS, Tron, [and] Ethereum — still rank in the top three, [and] the scores are 155.7, 146.7 and 142.8, respectively,” the center wrote. Tron debuted last month, replacing Ethereum as the second highest ranked project. EOS has been in the top spot since it started being ranked in June last year. This month, BTC ranks 15th, down two places from the previous month. BCH also fell slightly from the 27th spot to the 31st spot.

China Favors Tron and EOS in New Crypto Ranking But Downgrades Bitcoin

3 Sub-Rankings

All 35 crypto projects were also evaluated based on three sub-categories: basic technology, applicability, and creativity.

The basic technology “sub-index accounts for 64% of the total index,” the center described, noting that this category “mainly examines the technical realization level of the public chain, including function, performance, security, and decentralization.” The top projects are EOS, Tron, Bitshares, Steem, and Gxchain. “Since the upgrade of Constantinople, the efficiency of the Ethereum network has improved, and the Ethereum basic technology index has also risen from the 9th [place] to the 6th,” the CCID pointed out. Nonetheless, it found that “the average of the basic technology index has slightly decreased from the previous period.”

China Favors Tron and EOS in New Crypto Ranking But Downgrades Bitcoin

The applicability “sub-index accounts for 20% of the total index,” the CCID continued, adding that this category mainly evaluates “the comprehensive level of public chain support for practical applications.” The top five projects are Ethereum, NEO, Nebulas, Tron, and Ontology. Unlike the basic technology category, the center said that “The average of the applicability index has increased from the previous period.”

The creativity “sub-index accounts for 16% of the total index,” and the top five projects are Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS, Litecoin and Lisk. This category focuses on “continuous innovation in the public chain,” the CCID explained, adding that “The innovation sub-indices of Litecoin, Bytecoin, EOS, Nebulas and Hcash have increased significantly from the previous period,” However, the center concluded that overall, “the average value of the innovation sub-index has declined to a certain extent compared with the previous period, indicating that the activity of global public-chain technology innovation is decreasing.”

What do you think of CCID’s latest ranking? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the CCID.


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Kevin Helms

A student of Austrian Economics, Kevin found Bitcoin in 2011 and has been an evangelist ever since. His interests lie in Bitcoin security, open-source systems, network effects and the intersection between economics and cryptography.





Mexican Central Bank Looks to Hamstring Cryptocurrency Exchanges

banco de mexico News

Mexican Central Bank Looks to Hamstring Cryptocurrency Exchanges


Mexico’s central bank, Banco de México, is reportedly leveraging the country’s new fintech law to propose further regulations that would, in all but definition, ban cryptocurrency exchanges. 


According to a report from Washington, D.C.-based non-profit research and advocacy center Coin Center, the proposed laws in Mexico would hamstring cryptocurrency exchanges ability to access the local banking system. In doing so, cryptocurrency exchanges would be effectively banned, even though the law would not explicitly forbid their operation.

The proposed regulation reportedly comes straight from Mexico’s central bank, which surely has little interest in seeing cryptocurrencies and digital assets flourish in the country, and flies straight in the face of what the original fintech legislation aimed to achieve — namely, the facilitation of effective cryptocurrency exchange regulation. Preventing exchanges from accessing legacy financial institutions does not facilitate, however, but effectively kills.

As stated by Coin Center:

The Mexican central bank’s proposal unfortunately demonstrates a dismissive ignorance of how these technologies work. The rationale for the proposed rule is breathtaking: that the “complexity of the mathematical and cryptographic processes that underlie digital assets” and the “difficulty for users to understand these processes,” along with the volatility of digital assets, presents an information asymmetry problem that, apparently, can only be addressed by quarantining consumers from direct contact with crypto.

Mexico Central Bank

Banco de México’s proposed legislation implies that citizens of the country are incapable of understanding cryptocurrencies and, thus, should be restricted from purchasing them. From another perspective, this is clearly another example of a central bank deciding to act in its own self-interests by pretending to be looking out for the best interest of the common man.

The public is able to voice its opinion on the matter for 60 days following the rule proposal.

What do you think of Banco de México’s proposal to effectively kill cryptocurrency exchanges in the country by preventing them from accessing financial systems? Let us know what you think in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

QuadrigaCX Update: Exchange’s Legal Representatives Form Creditors Committee

QuadrigaCX Update: Exchange’s Legal Representatives Form Creditors Committee

Law firms Miller Thomson and Cox & Palmer have appointed a new committee to aid them in representing close to 115,000 customers of the now defunct Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX. This according to a court notice published March 19, 2019.

The Committee Will Represent the Users

The QuadrigaCX fiasco has once again highlighted the need for firm crypto regulations.

In the latest development, law firm Miller Thomson announced that it had constituted its Official Committee of Affected Users. The committee comprises of seven users of QuadrigaCX adversely impacted by the sudden demise of the exchange’s late CEO Gerald Cotten in December 2018. Notably, a total of 119 customers had applied to join the committee.

The newly created committee will help the law firm and QuadrigaCX’s court-appointed monitor Ernst & Young (EY) in representing the interests of all affected users in the court. It is estimated that a total of $136 million worth of cryptocurrencies are missing after it came to light that only Cotten had access to the exchange’s alleged cold wallet holdings.

As a result of this mishap, QuadrigaCX now owes over $198.4 million to more than 115,000 affected users.

The committee has been granted certain powers and authorities to help speed up the case’s investigation. It can reportedly “retain advisors, experts and consultants to provide advice to and to assist the Official Committee of Affected Users and Representative Council in the exercise of their duties in relation to the Purpose.”

The committee consists of people who have had prior experience in the crypto and government space. One of the committee members is Eric Bachour, a creditor of the infamous Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange. The court notice reads in part:

“Bachour is also a creditor of Mt. Gox in 2013, and has direct experience with arbitrage and market trading in cryptocurrency. Through the Mt. Gox process he gained exposure to the legal side of bankruptcy and insolvency.”

Another committee member Camila Gronowska has worked for the Government of Ontario in the past.

QuadrigaCX Story Continues to Unfold

The continually unfolding QuadrigaCX story has not been low on drama at all.

On March 20, 2019, reports emerged that Michael Patryn, the co-founder of the inoperative Canadian exchange has a criminal background and spent 18 months in a U.S. Federal prison for identity theft linked to credit card and bank fraud.

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Overstock’s tZERO Exchange to Launch Bitcoin Trading App This June

Overstock’s security token platform tZERO is going full crypto.

Until now, security tokens had been the startup’s priority, but this summer, tZERO plans to launch its own mobile trading app for buying and selling bitcoin and, possibly, ether, CEO Saum Noursalehi told CoinDesk Thursday.

The app for IOS and Android devices is scheduled to launch in June and is being developed by Bitsy — a crypto startup in the portfolio of Overstock’s venture arm Medici Ventures.

“That’s part of the reason we acquired Bitsy — to accelerate time to market for our mobile app,” Noursalehi told CoinDesk, adding:

“They have an app for trading crypto, primarily bitcoin, in a beta-phase, they built a wallet and key recovery mechanism, and this will be the foundation of the mobile app for tZERO. They are also working on some cool stuff like biometric login.”

The app, he added, will allow users to hold custody of their crypto without relying on a third party, and will plug into a network of exchanges through tZERO’s partner, institutional trading platform SFox.

tZERO’s app will connect to SFox’s network of exchanges via its API, Noursalehi said, but this is only a beginning of what the company envisions.

One app to trade them all

In the future, tZERO says it’s going to hold its own crypto treasury to satisfy user demand.

When tZERO acquires a retail broker-dealer license (for which it’s filing now), the app will allow users to trade security tokens listed at tZERO and even traditional stock — all in one app, Noursalehi said.

As of now, the company said it wants to hire the right people to fit the plan.

Already onboard is Elliot Grossman, former managing director at Dinosaur Financial Group, currently tZERO’s broker-dealer, who will lead the future retail broker-dealer as a CEO.

As for the security tokens, since tZERO’s alternative trading system (ATS) launched in January, so far only its own native tZERO Preferred (TZEROP) token has been available. But, the onboarding of new issuers is on the way, Noursalehi said.

According to Noursalehi, additional companies are now talking to tZERO’s team, including real estate, private equity and venture funds, as well as private companies in the technology, pharmaceuticals and even food and beverage industries.

“I hope in the next quarter we will sign contracts with them,” Noursalehi said. “We’ve been a bit more selective than other ATS out there, we want to make sure the companies that want to issue tokens with us are well-funded, have revenues and will be around in the next three-four years.”

tZERO is also in the process of integrating a third-party security token platform, so that tokens issued there can be listed on tZERO. However, the name of the platform is not yet public.

tZERO booth image via CoinDesk archives

Vitalik Buterin Explains Why He Cares About Price of Ethereum (ETH)

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On March 20th, in New York City, Vitalik Butin, the creator of Ethereum, talked to crypto-focused journalist Laura Shin at a live taping of her Unchained podcast (at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Pulitzer Hall), and answered questions on a wide range of topics. Here are some key highlights from this interview.

What Vitalik Thinks About Zcash (ZEC)’s ‘Dev Tax’

“Zcash is interesting… Definitely, like big props to them for just doing that and being proud of that and saying like ‘you know, we got a 20% dev tax, what’s up man?’. I am very proud of them for doing that. So, a great job, Zucco! But on the other hand, they clearly haven’t solved the problem of where to allocate the money because, right now, they just have this centralized allocation pool that goes to Zcash company, or these individuals, or these other individuals, and they have hard forks, and these hard forks can decide to reallocate the pool, but then what process do they use to decide, and so it’s definitely very far from the ideals that a lot of people see cryptocurrencies as having… It’s still an improvement from no funding… It would be really nice if there was some decentralized process for achieving the same thing.”

Why the Price of Ether (ETH) Is Important

“I’m going to be really candid because that’s the right thing… Some of the earlier rhetoric, especially veering on the more extreme side of the price not mattering at all, in part was counter signaling to distinguish ourselves from other crypto projects that just do pumping and lambo-ing way too much, but another thing is that it was about minimizing legal risk by basically trying to make the project seem more distant from something that will be covered by financial regulation… 

If people try to claim the price doesn’t matter at all, they [the financial regulators] are totally going to see through that…

I can tell you… why the price being higher than lower… is good.

One of them is, obviously, security. So if the price is zero, the network can’t be secure, and that’s true in Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake. 

Another reason is, obviously, that there’s a lot of projects who in the ecosystem hold cryptocurrency… and if the price is higher, then they’ll have more money to do the things they want to do…

Especially, the security concern is a totally legitimate technical argument.

There are members of the Ethereum community who just say that ‘Ether is a cryptocurrency and we want it to be more of a cryptocurrency’…

The Ethereum Foundation doesn’t have a monopoly on Ethereum messaging, or even a hegemony on Ethereum messaging at this point…

The thing I am absolutely opposed to is engineering pumps for the sake of pumps because that’s just a short term that’s fundamentally dishonest. The thing I am definitely in favor of is not doing stupid that would lead to the price going to zero. So, one example of that would be having an issuance of like 100 million ether every year. Regardless of what other consequences that has, that would clearly drop the price to zero, and that would clearly be just terrible.”

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Smart Contract Code Risk

“I’m definitely watching the whole DeFi space with interest and fascination… 

[On Twitter] Someone was trying to say something like ‘Why doesn’t pretty much everyone just take their money out of their bank accounts and put it into Dai earning interesting on Compound because that pays better rates, why would you just not get a free 3%?’. And I am like ‘Excuse me, free? Are you really that confident that that contract has less than a 3% chance a year of having a bug in it?’. I mean, I honestly don’t know how to measure the chances of those contracts having bugs in them, but there’s definitely far too many people that round those risks to zero.”

If Vitalik Had a Time Machine, What Advice He Would Give Satoshi

“github.com/ethereum/eth2.0-specs”… 

When Laura asked Vitalik if he was really serious about telling Satoshi to build Ethereum 2.0, he answered: “I do think it’s a good architecture!” 

He then went on to elaborate:

“First of all, Satoshi had a really hard job because he just could not have predicted which way the ecosystem would have gone… I think on a technical level, suggesting a path that opens the door to upgradeability, to proof-of-stake, to more powerful virtual machines…”

What Vitalik Thinks Will Be the First Mainstream Use Case for Cryptocurrency

“Things I am near term optimistic about include first of all, the decentralized finance space… second of all, gaming [as in videogames]… on the non-financial side, identity, credentials, key revocation, and all of those things… fourth is parametric insurance… this is insurance that [for example] says if some extreme weather event happens, then pay me $500.”

Ethereum Price Analysis: ETH Loses the Daily Uptrend

ethereum price ETH price ETH/USD Ethereum

Ethereum Price Analysis: ETH Loses the Daily Uptrend


Ethereum price (ETH) has halted its upward trend, highlighting that confirmation bias is a dangerous thing. Let’s take a look at the current situation and where ETH/USD may be headed next. 


Ethereum Price Stirs Bears

While the general market set up was bullish up till this morning, the echo chamber of bullish news and moon sighting technical analysts coming from all angles seems to be generating a bit of confirmation bias within the crypto community. Hopefully today’s Ethereum price pullback will serve as a reminder that just because everyone says it is so doesn’t make it so.

On the BUIDL side of things, partnerships, new developments, protocol upgrades, and mainstream adoption just keeps chugging along strong and this is great for the everyone, technologists, and speculators included. Investors seem to be playing whack a mole with the hottest altcoins and Ontology, LOOM, Enjin, BAT are all evidence of this.

BTC price stability around $4,000 is providing lucrative opportunities for those trading BTC/Altcoin pairings and Binance’s IOST competition with a 16,000 BNB purse is sure to perk traders interest in the same way it did for ONT’s, which managed to gain approximately 30% during Binance’s recent trading competition.

4-Hour Chart

ETH price 00 has been locked in a tightening range with resistance at $138, $140 and $142, and today’s hiccup pulled ETH below a strong support at $135.

This pinned in price action corresponds with BTC’s repeated rejection at $4k and $4,050 and today’s pullback could mean bears have woken up from their brief nap and re-established their positions at BTCs recent top. Price action over the coming days with provide greater insight into this.

ETH found support at $132 and now consolidates near $134. With the exception of a high volume break out from Bitcoin, ETH will likely return to the $135 to $138 range and remain pinned in by overhead resistance.

Daily Chart

The daily chart shows that Ethereum price broke below the ascending trendline but the altcoin is slowly crawling back into the upper arm of the Bollinger band indicator and the exponential moving averages have not turned bearish.

The weekly time frame raises some cautions signals and ETH is on the verge of losing its uptrend and closely currently rides atop the 26ema.

On the 4-hr chart, the RSI flatlined in oversold territory and the Stoch and MACD remain bearish Conservative traders could wait for a bullish cross over and enter on strength above $140, $142, while swing traders might have an opportunity to purchase at or below the recent swing low if ETH’s situation fails to improve.

ETH traders should also keep an eye on the 12 and 26 EMA on the ETH/BTC pairing as it has provided a bit more insight than the ETH/USD pairing.

Trade Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and other cryptocurrencies on online Bitcoin forex broker platform evolve.markets.  

[Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not intended as investment advice. Market data is provided by Bitfinex and Coinbase.]


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, TradingView. Market data sourced from Bitfinex and Coinbase