Reddit Founder Talks Crypto Winter and Ongoing Innovation in the Space

The founder of the social news discussion website Reddit has once again commented on his belief in the future of crypto. Alexis Ohanian has long been a believer in the fintech innovation and states that the bear market has driven many speculators from the space, allowing developers to concentrate on building out much-needed infrastructure.

Despite his optimism for the industry, Ohanian did not give any price predictions for any digital assets. He was famously proved spectacularly wrong with a call he made last year for Ether’s end of 2018 price.

Alexis Ohanian: All That is Left in Crypto is the True Believers

The founder of Reddit and software venture fund Initialized Capital appeared on Yahoo! Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer” show earlier today. Alexis Ohanian was asked by Serwer to comment on a variety of topics, ranging from the history of Reddit, his interest in paid annual leave for employees, and whether social media could use regulation to help prevent harassment of users.

After these topics, the conversation turned to crypto. Serwer asked Ohanian if he was still confident in the future of digital assets. To this, the Reddit and Initialized Capital executive responded that he was indeed optimistic. He added:

“So, this is the crypto winter, no doubt. But a friend of mine – Brian Armstrong, who is the CEO of Coinbase – said, ‘This is the spring of crypto innovation.’”

Ohanian then elaborated on this point, stating that many of the mindless speculators that fuelled the impressive bull run of 2017 had left the space now and that those remaining were fuelled by passion for the technology, rather than trying to make a quick buck:

“The people who are now building on crypto are true believers, and they’re actually builders. They’re actually building the infrastructure that it’s going to take to really make this happen.”

He continued, stating that some of the brightest minds he knew were working on creating new products, services, and companies to take cryptocurrency and blockchain mainstream.

Next, Ohanian addressed the recent announcement by JP Morgan to create the JPM Coin. Although not particularly innovative in terms of its design, the fact that the bank headed by one of crypto’s biggest naysayers is even exploring such an idea is evidence for the Reddit co-founder that digital assets are here to stay.

Finally, Ohanian commented on investor expectations in the crypto market. He stated that investing in digital assets, and any other sector for that matter, should always be a long game:

“It’s a painful thing for a lot of people to see those accounts but if you were investing in it in the first place, you really should have been thinking long-term.”

One thing absent from Ohanian’s interview with Serwer was discussion of any particular digital assets or their specific price performances. Previously, the former Reddit exec has had proverbial egg on his face thanks to his Ether price predication last year. Seemingly defying all logic, Ohanian stated that he believed that the price of a single ETH coin would reach highs of more than $15,000. Clearly, this particular call never came true and prices of almost all digital currencies continued to slump throughout 2018.


Source
Author: Rick D.
Image Credit

Their Goal: Make Cryptocurrency Less Scary

If you have a tough time with the idea of putting even a dollar of your net worth into a digital cryptocurrency — Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and the like — no sensible person would blame you.

Aside from the price fluctuations, there’s the question of who’s protecting those digital assets. Is it an institution like QuadrigaCX, an exchange for cryptocurrency run from its founder’s laptop, which reportedly lost $140 million in customer funds after the founder died in India in December? Or one like Tokyo-based Coincheck, which had $532 million in cryptocurrency stolen by hackers in January 2018?

“Every time I see one of these exchanges get hacked, or the founder take off with money in some kind of scam, it’s another reminder of how immature this industry is,” says Matthew Walsh, a former Fidelity Investments vice president who helped launch a private fund that invested in cryptocurrency there. “It’s bordering on a joke how immature the infrastructure is — and how dangerous it is.”

But for a growing group of venture capital firms and startup companies in Boston, the dangerous and mostly unregulated realm of cryptocurrency represents an opportunity. They see these digital currencies — which can store value and operate independently of government-controlled monetary systems — eventually becoming as safe for investors as a Bank of America money market fund. That, however, is going to require a lot of new technology. Which they plan to build and sell.

Walsh’s new venture capital firm, Castle Island Ventures, is among them. After he and cofounder Nic Carter left Fidelity, they raised $30 million to invest in what Walsh says is a “whole new category of infrastructure” required to make cryptocurrency safer and more reliable.

Sharon Goldberg and Ethan Heilman cofounded Arwen, a Boston startup trying to make cryptocurrency exchanges more secure.

“The reason we launched the fund is we think a lot of these cryptocurrencies will be investible assets,” Walsh says — even if they don’t feel that way to most mainstream investors today.

Castle Island has already invested in six startup companies, Walsh says, and other local firms like General Catalyst, First Star Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and Underscore VC have also been writing checks to fledgling cryptocurrency companies.

Highland and Underscore helped incubate a startup called Arwen, founded by a Boston University computer science professor and her doctoral student.

“We’re in the early days,” says Arwen CEO Sharon Goldberg. “But let’s go back to 1999 and using credit cards on the Internet. Nobody wanted to put their credit card number into a website. But you do today, because you trust the encryption. You see that little lock in your browser.”

Goldberg is taking a sabbatical from teaching to build the company, which has eight employees and earlier this month moved out of Underscore’s space into its own office.

She points out that cryptocurrency is designed to be a “decentralized” system — there’s no central bank regulating how much of it there is, just software code running on computers. Yet if you want to exchange one kind of cryptocurrency for another, or turn cryptocurrency into dollars or yen, you need to entrust that transaction to a centralized exchange. “Centralized exchanges are the way to trade this decentralized currency,” Goldberg says. “It’s strange.”

So Arwen is creating a layer of technology that would enable you to convert one currency into another securely, even if the exchange gets hacked or goes offline in the middle of a trade. Arwen’s technology is based on something called an “atomic swap,” which Goldberg explains using the metaphor of a briefcase full of cash. If two people intend to swap briefcases filled with two different kinds of currency, the risk is that you hand your briefcase to the other person and they run off. An atomic swap ensures that each person get the other person’s briefcase, even if the other person tries to split.

Late last month, Arwen launched a “sandbox” environment for demonstrating the technology, and Goldberg says the company is talking with prospective customers. “The majority of our customer calls are outside of the US,” Goldberg says. “In Japan, for instance, there are just a massive number of companies creating ways to buy cryptocurrencies.”

Why is the United States behind? “Regulation is stronger here, and other institutions are more trustworthy,” she says.

Arwen is working on “an important problem” and it could prove “a key missing piece needed to get wider adoption of crypto assets as a real investment asset class,” says Drew Volpe of Boston-based First Star Ventures.

Volpe’s firm last year put money into Everbloom, which is building its own cryptocurrency exchange that tries to solve the issues of trust and reliability “from the ground up.” Everbloom, he explains, is a decentralized exchange that never has to take ownership of the asset itself — similar to Arwen’s approach, the trades happen “trader to trader” using the same atomic swap idea.

Two things could happen to make holding and trading cryptocurrencies more trustworthy, observes Boris Revsin, managing director of Republic Labs, a firm that has made recent investments in the cryptocurrency sector.

One is that trusted financial services brands like Fidelity or Charles Schwab will launch cryptocurrency-related products and services and “offer recourse if something terrible happens” to your money, he says.

But the other is that non-brand name exchanges that today are not trustworthy could start to incorporate technology from Arwen or other companies like it, and begin to build trust with investors.

Either of those scenarios, Revsin says, could encourage more asset managers and investors to move some of their assets into cryptocurrency.

In case you haven’t been tracking it closely, the price of Bitcoin is down almost 60 percent from February 2018. But over two years, the price has risen 240 percent, and more than 800 percent over three years. It’s a risky place to keep your wealth today — but investors and entrepreneurs are betting that just as credit card transactions on the Internet became more trustworthy, that will change.


Source
Author: Scott Kirsner
Image Credit
Image Credit

13 Celebrities Who Back Cryptocurrency And May Own Millions in Bitcoin

  • There’s no shortage of public figures who have advocated crypto as the currency of the future.
  • From artists like Pitbull and Snoop Dogg to actors Johnny Depp and Ashton Kutcher, recent years have seen a surge in the number of celebrities to get involved with cryptocurrencies.
  • Some of them could be in possession of millions of dollars worth of bitcoin.

Up until relatively recently, cryptocurrency hadn’t captured the interest of the general public; it was reserved almost exclusively for the engineers, developers, and entrepreneurs who had been involved in its conception around a decade ago.

However, the bitcoin bubble in 2017 caused cryptocurrencies to soar in value, and led to millions purchasing cryptoshares and even setting up their own mining farms.

Despite the considerable drop in the value of bitcoin over the past year, experts are predicting a new cryptocurrency boom in the near future, possibly from 2020.

With a considerable number of public figures already investing their fortunes in cryptocurrency, more seem to be jumping on board with cryptocurrency for business ventures and more.

Here are 13 celebrities who have publicly backed various cryptocurrencies.

Bill Gates

Despite having reservations about Bitcoin more recently, Gates is one of the most well-known bitcoin-invested public figures in the world.

“Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be,” he explained in an interview. “Bitcoin is better than currency in that that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

Though Gwyneth Paltrow receives a lot of attention in the media, often for questionable health advice on her lifestyle website “Goop”, the actress is involved in a number of other business ventures too.

Paltrow is another advocate of crypto — in fact, she was the face of bitcoin wallet, Abra, as well as becoming an advisor there from August 2017.

Last November Paltrow shared an article on Twitter on “The Basics of Bitcoin and Crypto Currency, and How to Invest”.

Paris Hilton

Despite controversy over the owner of LydianCoin having been convicted of domestic violence, in September 2017 Hilton stated that she was “looking forward to participating in the new” ICO.

Snoop Dogg

Although it’s not known how many albums he ultimately sold, Snoop Dog was selling them at 0.3 BTC in 2013.

Based on bitcoin value today, he could possibly have earned over roughly $1,000 per album. The artists also made an appearance at an XRP Community Night crypto party.

Ashton Kutcher

As well as founding his own investment firm “A-Grade” in 2010, Ashton Kutcher has invested in UnikoinGold along with billionaire Mark Cuban.

The esports gambling startup responsible for the currency, Unikrn, marketed UnikoinGold as a currency to be used for betting on the likes of League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The actor has also invested in Uber, Airbnb, and BitPay in the past.

Hugh Laurie

British actor, Hugh Laurie, well known for his role as Gregory House, M.D, hadn’t had any particular interest in crypto up until four years ago.

However, in 2015, a friend suggested he invest in Bitcoin, at which time it was starting to rocket in value.

At the behest of a friend, Laurie invested in BTC at the value of $5,000.

Mike Tyson

As well as investing in Bitcoin, Tyson has produced Bitcoin ATMs branded with his face tattoo.

In collaboration with Bitcoin Direct, he also came up with a Bitcoin Wallet with the same branding as the ATM.

In 2015, Engadget reported that he had launched a Bitcoin ATM system, a virtual wallet operated using bitcoins.

Pitbull

In April 2018, Pitbull announced that, in conjunction with eMerge Americas, he would be launching Smackathon — a cryptocurrency to revolutionize payments in the music industry.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi became brand ambassador for Israeli company Sirin Labs in late 2017.

Sirin Labs is producing the world’s first crypto smartphone and, according to the his Instagram, the footballer is backing it.

A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi) on Dec 7, 2017 at 6:26am PST

Ethereum World News reported at the end of last year that the Finney phone is now available and has a variety of features aimed specifically at crypto users.

Mel B

Mel B became the first British artist to begin accepting bitcoin as payment for her 2014 Christmas single through a partnership with CloudHashing.

Cloudhashing is among the biggest companies in the industry offering bitcoin-mining contracts.

“I love how new technology makes our lives easier, and to me that’s exciting,” said the artist, on announcing that she’d be accepting crypto payments. “Bitcoin unites my fans around the world using one currency.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been promoting several ICOs for some time, including Stox, Hubii Network, and Centra.

In 2017, he tweeted:

Madonna

Madonna, along with Bill Clinton, is one of many public figures involved in spreading the word about how easy and secure cryptocurrency is as a payment method.

The Queen of Pop teamed up with Facebook and Ripple last year for an online fundraiser to benefit her Raising Malawi foundation.

Ripple matched each dollar donated to the campaign, with Madonna describing Ripple’s involvement as a “generous commitment” to her organization.

Johnny Depp

While the Johnny Depp has received a lot of tumultuous publicity over the past few years, in part, down to his unusual spending habits, the actor hasn’t shied away from getting involved in crypto.

Last autumn, the actor became a partner at blockchain startup TaTaTu.

According to CCN, the platform rewards users in the form of tokens for interacting with content like films and games.


Source
Author: Pavel Ramírez and Ruqayyah Moynihan
Image Credit
Image Credit
Image Credit
Image Credit
Image Credit
Image Credit

Investing Through The Eyes Of A Crypto Trader

The last few years could rightfully be described as a rollercoaster when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin became a household name overnight, and just as quickly, its bubble burst. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) enjoyed a boom but now their success is dwindling. Meanwhile, security token offerings (STOs) and other breakthroughs are vying to fill the void.

 

To navigate and understand where the cryptocurrency market is headed, I spoke to Anatoly Radchenko, the CEO of United Traders, which is an advanced investment and financial services company. At the age of 28, Radchenko was named the Best Private Investor twice and started a hedge fund. He has significant experience with financial markets in general, and a unique first-person perspective on trading cryptocurrencies.

Over the past year and a half, the crypto industry has become quite well-known. What happened?

“The period from 2016 to 2017 was the most interesting in the crypto market. ICOs appeared on the scene, and everyone had very high expectations. These prospects are still there today, but are much more grounded. In the beginning, expectations were too high, and were in a very short timeframe. That is why everyone quickly became disillusioned and the bubble burst—and why 2017 was very difficult for all traders. Even with top funds like Novograts and Pantera Capital, investors lost about the same amount as if they personally held bitcoin”.

Radchenko explains that in traditional markets, not all assets are correlated with the market—but with the crypto market, all assets fell alongside it. It was difficult to find a safe haven. So 2017 taught traders, especially new ones, that the markets are quite volatile. Many traders used leverage, which led to large losses and eventually to the elimination of all positions. They came with high expectations for a quick profit—and it did not quite pan out – he added.

Can we expect a rebound in the market?

“I think that the drop is a good thing, because a drop in value will ultimately lead to a decrease in volatility. When a large number of people have at least one bitcoin each, they press the button and the losses snowball. Now, though, most bitcoins will once again belong to large holders. This will reduce the circulation of bitcoins in the market, which in general should stabilize the markets a little bit. Such a strong drop also made investments possible for many serious players who were suddenly able to afford it”.

Radchenko is circumspect on what will happen next since, of course, everyone has different predictions about what will happen with cryptocurrencies—to the point that many experts are sick of being asked what they think at all. Wall Street’s main advisor has said he is tired of forecasting crypto, and recently wrote on Bloomberg that he is refusing to comment on the topic.

“We even decided to make a little joke out of it with a fun, quick quiz where anyone can predict what comes next”, Radchenko adds.

Do you think cryptocurrency prices were manipulated—and if so, by who and how?

“In principle, when the price was at $6,000, everyone understood that, okay, someone buys, someone sells. But with sharp movement from $6,000 to $3,000, many people got knocked off track. And it happened without any significant events. I do think Tether and Bitfinex, which are being probed by the Department of Justice, are at play here. I also think this may be some kind of manipulation by the same bitmix”.

Radchenko explains that a bitmix is an exchange which accepts only bitcoins. It is very easy to register. Most people—let’s call them gamblers—switched to this platform and there was high turnover. If you look at the volume on the bitmix, the total could reach 5 or 6 billion a day relative to the volume on the Binance and Bitfinex exchanges. So it turns out that we find ourselves in a situation widely talked about in classical markets: the volume of derivatives, which in one way or another indirectly affect the underlying asset, or spot price of the asset itself, is much higher. This holds true for gold and oil too. And with crypto, we do not have regulation or a central supplier, so prices differ everywhere. There is a lot of systemic and financial risk.

What are some rules for investing in crypto?

A great rule is to try to invest in large projects, because money tends to go toward money—that is, projects with good marketing. Another good rule is that there is no need to try to guess the bottom. It is better to allocate your assets evenly and in equal parts into different projects, because, once again, the price now does not reflect anything. As we recently saw, iOS just grew 30% in a day. Why did this happen? Nobody knows. And you will never guess whether it will start growing today or tomorrow. It is necessary to be patient and not try to look for the bottom.

With regard to the challenges traders faced in 2017, it’s hard to be happy when people lose money because of their inexperience. But the most important thing a trader must understand is that, even if he has been mistaken when it comes to his predictions and transactions, all is not lost. The market will be there tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and in a year. A trader must always have a margin of safety (or cash) in order to somehow correct a situation that has gone wrong. Do not go all-in and expect instant results. Gamblers get mowed down.

How do scam projects affect the industry and the value of currencies? Do a large number of them affect the cost of other cryptocurrencies?

Scam projects have always existed and will always exist. Most people try to focus on good projects, but there have always been both bad and good projects and novice investors might not be able to tell the difference. But I do not think most projects that failed were necessarily the result of organized criminal groups, for example. They did not intend for the funds to disappear. A lot of guys who raised money for ICOs had no background building businesses, and knew nothing about corporate culture or hiring staff, much less how to conduct B2B and B2C relations. They just had an idea, investors invested a lot of money in the idea, and the idea did not go anywhere. Plus, the crypto market fell. It was kind of a game, and they lost. I do not think most people wanted to throw their investors under the bus.

What trends await us in 2019? Maybe some that will be transferred from 2018 and so on?

The first is the development of various protocols, services, and chains for bitcoins, like Lightning. These are faster, reliable, simplified ways of banking and the user experience will only continue to improve in 2019. The second is the emergence, I hope, of the framework for security tokens. When companies collect money, they can only issue tokens a year later, so this year we will see how Telegram tokens, for example, will behave. Also, as services like Facebook have their own internal currencies (like it’s said to be creating for WhatsApp transfers) it will drive adoption so that people start to understand how, say, the Facebook cryptocurrency differs from Bitcoin, what decentralization is in general, and why it is needed. Finally, we will also see the use of blockchain technology by corporations.

Can you talk about how the ICO boom happened and whether it will happen again?

It can easily happen again, but it will just be called something else and have another mechanism. The rules will change a little bit, the names will change, the marketing will change, and the boom will repeat. I think security tokens will be the next boom.

And what is the importance of security tokens now for the industry?

The fact that your rights are described, and, roughly speaking, the company has some responsibility. These security tokens can have dividend distribution properties, they can have voting properties — that is, they can have properties like a security, but they can be stored and transmitted to each other like tokens.

With security tokens it is always clear how many there are, where they lie, who they lie with, how to find a buyer, seller, etc. It will help to make the market liquid and transparent. That is, it can lower the barriers for medium investors to invest during the earlier stage of a company. As a rule, all the best companies look at how they can attract Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia, and so on. But security tokens can also drive the democratization of investments in good companies.

How will current utility tokens, including security tokens, be regulated in the future?

This is actually, probably, one of the most difficult issues, and, in my opinion, no one knows, and everyone is waiting for that answer. I think the Security and Exchange Commission should listen to other regulators from other countries and figure it out. They cannot simply talk about how thing should be.


Source
Author: Gerald Fenech
Image Credit

10 Crypto Events You Can Expect to See in 2019

If 2018 was the year we all realized unregulated cryptocurrency offerings (ICOs) would have to be replaced by regulated “security token” offerings (STOs), 2019 is shaping up to be the year we see that regulation implemented.

As a result of that change, here are 10 events I predict we’ll see in the crypto space within the next 12 months:

1. A large bank will enter into the crypto custody business

The institutions are coming! It’s hard to get through a day on crypto Twitter without someone associating the current price of Bitcoin with the imminent entrance of so-called “institutional money.” It’s hard to imagine the “suits” won’t soon enter the community. The promises of Bitcoin and Ethereum (and their profit-producing volatility and liquidity) attracted professional traders in droves in late 2017 and 2018, and many of them stayed through the latest downturn. With the SEC declaring BTC and ETH as currencies, the path towards institutional custody and trading isn’t far behind. Expect JP Morgan or Goldman to enter the market, with perhaps BoNY joining them. Confidence level: 100%.

2. Several traditional broker-dealers will open ATSs for STO trading

If you have followed the crypto sector for any amount of time, you are probably familiar with OFN, aka The Open Finance Network, a recently licensed regulated alternative trading system. In the U.S. and Canada, an ATS is a non-exchange trading venue that matches buyers and sellers to find counterparties for transactions. They are usually regulated as broker-dealers instead of as exchanges (note: my company’s General Counsel and cofounder, Gautam Gujral, was an author on the SEC’s first Concept Release on ATS and Exchange regulations). OFN is just the first of these businesses that will be popping up. Recently, Coinbase purchased a broker-dealer, as did token issuance platform Tokensoft. In 2019, we can expect more broker-dealers (perhaps firms such as Entoro Capital, US Capital Global, or SeriesOne) to obtain licenses to trade in alternative investments like security tokens. Confidence level: 100%.

3. 2017 ICOs issued in the U.S. will be the first security tokens traded on exchanges

With year-long restrictions, small-ish raises, and tiny floats, don’t expect many of the 2018 STOs you’ve heard about to trade on exchanges (some have fewer than five holders and asset values in the low single digits). Instead, expect “remediated” ICOs that have registered their shares with the SEC to be the first issuers to trade in volume on compliant exchanges. There really is a Santa Claus for the security token exchanges, and his name is SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. In 2018 he put some presents under the tree in the form of Airfox and Paragon Coin, both ICOs that received “orders” from the SEC forcing them to register. In other words, the first widely traded STOs will have started life as ICOs. Hear me now, believe me later. Confidence level: 99%.

4. Asian investors and funds will pivot to the US to invest in digital assets

Asian investors are still dominant in traditional Bitcoin (mining) and ICO-driven crypto activity, but over the course of the last six months, as prices have dropped and new technologies (like digital asset tokenization) have come to the market, investor groups such as Huobi and Binance, and newer VCs like 8 Decimal, Alpha Omega Capital, Aurablock Capital, and Alpha Square Group are inverting the market and coming to the U.S. for its regulatory clarity. With the Chinese government saying that STOs will be kicked out, Chinese investment teams have been especially active in the U.S.-based STO community, seeking to learn how to structure these offerings. This is exciting; the U.S. may in fact be a bastion of innovation in at least one realm of crypto — the kind that Wall Street and big investors prefer. Confidence level: 95%.

5. The SEC will approve several Reg A+ deals related to tokens

The JOBS Act Reg A+ exemption, for those who don’t remember, allows unaccredited investors to fund startups. Ignored in the heyday of the ICO, Reg A+ is now considered a holy grail by those in crypto who oppose the idea of accredited investor requirements but still believe in playing by the SEC’s rulebook. Reg A+ lets a company raise up to $50 million annually via non-restrictive crowd fundraising, enabling a form of ICO that’s legal in the U.S.

When Circle acquired SeedInvest in Q4 2019, it laid the groundwork for some successful 2019 Reg A’s. Expect the SEC to approve several Reg A+ issuances this year with an underlying token, from firms like Issuance.com and SeedInvest. Confidence level: 90%.

6. ‘Legacy’ financial institutions will become digital asset infrastructure buyers

Once crypto tokens cross the chasm and the so-called early-majority starts to form (in mid-to-late 2019), expect to see some significant M&A activity within the ecosystem. Coinbase’s hiring of former LinkedIn M&A boss Emilie Choi, is a good indicator. While it’s tempting to expect large and early crypto infrastructure ventures like Coinbase (and Circle, Huobi, Binance, Cumberland-DRW, etc.) to be the primary drivers of this activity, some believe we will see the Nasdaq, NYSE, EuroNext, JPX, or even more likely DTCC or Cede and Co., come in as acquirers. What could prevent this from happening? Not enough data/signal to create institutional FOMO, where fear of insurgent innovation drives M&A. Confidence level: 90%.

7. Ethereum will lose ground as the predominant platform for the next generation of coin offerings

Ethereum’s ERC-20 smart contract standard is the undisputed coin of the ICO realm, with more than 1,000 unique ERC-20 crypto tokens issued since Ethereum debuted in 2015. Despite its overwhelming popularity with ICOs, widespread exchange compatibility, and developers’ familiarity with Solidity (the programming language for Ethereum-based smart contracts), Ethereum’s time as the predominant platform may be coming to an end. Faster and cheaper smart contract platforms like NEO, Stellar, IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric, and Hedera Hashgraph are coming along to steal the limelight just as the world starts paying attention to SEC-compliant token offerings. Also not helping Ethereum is the Constantinople hard fork coming up later this month, which could damage the community supporting the chain. While there are many reasons to move from Ethereum, the concentration of developer expertise and the standardization efforts of security token issuance projects like Polymath, Harbor, and Securrency will keep Ethereum in the lead for 2019. Confidence level: 70%.

8. Regional authorities will increasingly match U.S. crypto policies and may surpass the U.S. in STO activity

As more ICO projects launched outside of the U.S. fail (shut down, etc.) and more issuers wrap their offerings in safe-seeming nomenclature (i.e. calling any offering an STO, regardless of how it is structured), expect foreign regulators to adopt frameworks similar to what the SEC has established in the U.S. Exhibit A: Malta. While Malta has been attracting projects seeking to raise capital, it suffers from a poor reputation among banking regulators. In order for Malta to attain its goal of becoming “Blockchain Island,” it will need to pass and maintain stricter KYC & AML rules so depositors in its banks (i.e. crypto projects) can be confident they can use the funds to pay developers and vendors who are not on the island. Malta is not alone in its attempts to normalize and provide investor protections. Singapore recently stepped up efforts and may be the real pioneer in trading tokens on regulated exchanges. Confidence level: 60%.

9. Tokens will be traded on ‘major’ exchanges in addition to new broker-dealer operated Automated Trading Systems

This might be the easiest prediction, because an insider made news of it at December’s Consensus: Invest. According to Gabor Gurbacs of Nasdaq partner Van Eck, the Nasdaq plans on launching Bitcoin futures trading in Q1 2019. But before you say this is a safe prediction, remember what Bakkt said about ICE-Bakkt in August. There is no such thing as a “gimme putt” in crypto, and yes, tokens will also trade on tZero and Open Finance. Confidence level: 50%.

10. Rules related to accredited investor requirements will be relaxed

Accredited investor rules are what separate ICOs from STOs. They dampen excitement and enthusiasm among fans of so-called “open finance.” With these rules in place, only the wealthy are able to participate in current STOs. Spice VC, which recently began trading on OpenFinance, is an example of an offering that might be interesting to more investors, but is only available to those with a $200k annual income or more than $1 million in assets. The market will struggle to foment revolution in capital formation and liquidity as long as most of the potential investor pool is excluded from investing. However, in the harsh light of the ICO hangover, changes to accreditation rules have little chance of a quick modification. Confidence level: 1%.


Source
Author: Dave Hendricks
Image Credit

Crypto Giant Coinbase Made Strides In Q4 2018, Even As Bitcoin (BTC) Plunged 40%

Although Coinbase has recently become a controversial company, especially as it began to add crypto assets left and right, the company has long had an unrelenting drive for innovation. Since setting up shop in 2012, the San Francisco-headquartered startup, headed by a former Airbnb employee with visions of grandeur, has quickly set the industry standard in a number of subsectors.

The firm may have started as a consumer-centric exchange, which sported a simple (near-)one-click interface, but Coinbase has evolved far beyond its original premise now. And interestingly, even as digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC) — Coinbase’s lifeblood — continue to lose value, the firm has only doubled-down on its expansion and development efforts.

Coinbase Outperformed The Bitcoin Sell-Off

Recent Giving Pledge signee Brian Armstrong, the fervent, sometimes controversial chief of Coinbase, recently issued a note to his underlings — a swelling group of talent — accentuating the fact that the company has not only survived but thrived in the recent bearish downturn.

The American firm, which now has offices around the globe, started Q4 of 2018 with a bang, securing $300 million in funding from Tiger Global, Y Combinator, A16Z, Polychain Cap, and a number of other crypto-friendly venture groups. This round valued Coinbase at a jaw-dropping $8 billion, making the firm arguably the most valuable company in the entirety of Bitcoin ecosystem.

And since that $300 million cash boost, which was explained to be allocated towards global expansion efforts, institutional services, and applications for crypto, Coinbase has arguably been on the up-and-up. As explained in Armstrong’s letter, released to the public in an evident attempt at transparency, Coinbase launched a number of pertinent products, including support for Circle-backed USD Coin, a revamped version of Earn, PayPal withdrawals, and crypto-to-crypto trading, to only name a few products.

The firm also added a dozen crypto assets to its platform, an evident sign of changing times, with notable additions including ZCash (ZEC), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Maker (MKR), and 0x (ZRX). In a podcast, vice-president Dan Romero explained that firm’s clientele has begun to clamor for crypto asset support, presumably catalyzing the recent listings.

Along with adding the aforementioned tokens and products, Coinbase forayed into six new regions, opening the ground-breaking potential of crypto to millions more. The Coinbase chief also explained that his firm made a number of investments, into organizations such as Alchemy, Securitize, Starkware, Nomics, and Abacus.

Closing the retrospective post, Armstrong made his excitement and gratitude more than apparent when he wrote:

“I continue to be so impressed by the ability of this team to execute on aggressive timelines, all while solving problems that have never been solved before. This was a year of scaling Coinbase up to meet the demand of the market and efficiently executing to serve our customers.”

Great Year Ahead For The Crypto Juggernaut

Interestingly, the firm already seems to have prospects for a great 2019. As reported by NewsBTC earlier today, an apparent survey from Coinbase has polled users on the appeal of a subscription model, which would reduce “maker” and “taker” fees for Pro traders, while offering perks for premium members. If implemented, this program would be the first of its kind in the cryptosphere, and would likely propel the company’s trading platforms to new heights.

Asiff Hirji, president of the fledgling company, recently hinted that 2019 will be a great year for institutional participation in cryptocurrencies. In an interview with CNBC, Hirji explained that Coinbase’s custodial service “has blown by internal goals,” as “hundred of institutions” have boarded onto the platform in recent memory. Seeing that Coinbase has been playing a role in that facet of this industry, it can be assumed that this influx of Wall Street hotshots will trickle down to the company’s growing roster of institutional products.

Zeeshan Feroz, the chief at Coinbase’s U.K. branch, also expressed a similar positive outlook, but from a broader perspective. He said:

“I think you can expect a more aggressive approach to us adding more countries in the coming months. Much of what we’re doing here is driven by customer needs and what we’re seeing in the market… I think if you look at last year, a lot of the focus was on people who bought crypto from an investment point of view and a lot of projects raised a ludicrous amount of money as a result of that.”


Source
Author: Nick Chong
Image Credit

Crypto Startup Puts Tesla, Apple, Facebook Shares On Ethereum Blockchain

According to a report from Bloomberg, DX.Exchange, an up-and-coming crypto startup headquartered in Estonia and Israel, will be putting a number of popular American equities onto a blockchain next week. As the firm’s name implies, DX.Exchange is an online trading platform that will allow investors to trade and transact shares of Apple, Facebook, Tesla, along with seven other household names listed on Nasdaq, even when markets are shuttered for the day.

If its inaugural trading sessions perform well, the startup intends to expand its crypto offerings to encompass shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange, coupled with those situated on Tokyo’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng.

Each digital security token will be collateralized by one common share, and interestingly, stockholders will be purportedly be “entitled to the same cash dividends,” arguably making this offering just as good as buying stocks through TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, and the like. MPS MarketPlace Securities, a partner of DX, will be taking custody of the shares, allowing Ethereum tokens to be created that represent the securities.

But what are the benefits of the platform?

Well, as explained by Bloomberg, digital securities will allow traders to transact their holdings when markets are closed. This simple feature could catalyze the creation of secondary markets, drawing die-hard traders, even those without crypto knowledge and experience, to blockchain-based platforms, subsequently catapulting adoption.  Ethereum-based shares could also interact with other facets of the blockchain’s ecosystem.

These crypto tokens can also be divvied up, while trading fees can be minimized, lowering the bar for entry. The aforementioned factors, coupled with the fact that foreign investors will be able to gain access to U.S. shares, is undoubtedly a move towards financial inclusion — crypto’s underlying raison d’etre. 

And interestingly, this is all legal too. Speaking to the aforementioned outlet in a recent interview, DX chief Daniel Skowronski explained that his platform is licensed by the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit, which has the backing of the European Union. So, DX has the legal capacity to make such an offering. Skowronski also expressed his excitement for his firm’s innovative platform, noting:

We saw a huge market opportunity in tokenizing existing securities… We believe that this is the beginning of the traditional market’s merge with blockchain technology. This is going to open a whole new world of trading securities old and new alike.

The Tokenization Of Everything

While DX.Exchange’s foray into blockchain-based securities is a step in the right direction and is something to be commended, the tokens aren’t fully decentralized, as there are still centralized counterparties. This lack of fully-fledged decentralization may introduce risk over time. But, a number of pundits believe that eventually, shares and other pertinent assets will become fully decentralized.

Anthony Pompliano, the founder of Morgan Creek Digital Assets and an anti-establishment figure, recently told BlockTV that he expects for all securities, whether it be stocks, bonds, real estate certificates, or otherwise, to be tokenized. The decentralist, well-known for his anti-bank, pro-Bitcoin rhetoric, claimed that this won’t be an easy task, however, quipping that this journey will take more than five years.

Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Boston-based, Goldman-backed Circle, also echoed this sentiment in a recent CNBC interview. Speaking to the outlet, Allaire, who manages the aforementioned crypto startup, exclaimed that the “tokenization of everything” will eventually occur.

Allaire, who doesn’t seem to embody the hallmarks of a Bitcoin maximalist, noted he envisions a future filled with millions of crypto assets, whether they take the form of security, commodity, or utility tokens. In short, the long-time crypto advocate noted that he doesn’t believe cryptocurrencies are a “winner takes all” scenario, instead, he made it clear that a multitude of projects can live in relative harmony, due to this innovation’s ground-breaking potential.


Source
Author: Nick Chong
Image Credit

Signs That China Is Bullish On Cryptocurrency Future

Over the last two or three years, China’s relationship with blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies can be easily regarded as a love-hate one.

However, as of late, there have been numerous reports hinting at the incredible attention the Chinese government towards cryptocurrencies. In fact, there have been numerous reports of a cryptocurrency launched by the Chinese communist government.

Considering China’s economic power, its international prowess, and its immense population, there’s no wonder that such a cryptocurrency could very well surpass Ethereum and even Bitcoin in popularity.

Before we dive deeper into the subject and analyze all the signs that China is bullish on cryptocurrencies, we will discuss China’s past events related to crypto, to the country’s current stance regarding cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as well as previous developments regarding legislative decisions.

Past Legislative Decisions Regarding Cryptos

If you’ve been passionate about crypto for the last two years, you probably remember that one of China’s most controversial legislative decisions regarding cryptocurrencies was to ban ICOs and any activity if any entity is raising virtual currencies.

The Chinese government declared then that the selling and distribution of tokens is an illegal fundraising method and, hence, a form of financial fraud punishable by law. Things didn’t stop here, as the Chinese government also blocked all websites related to crypto trading and ICOs, including foreign platforms. Still, regulatory bodies have been more favorable.

Following these decisions, advertisements for cryptos were also removed from the mainstream media. Back in April 2018, China put a halt to hosted blockchain events as well. So, considering all these aggressive and extreme decisions that display a rather bad stance on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, it’s surprising that China is, in fact, bullish on blockchain and cryptocurrency developments.

China’s Current Stance On Cryptocurrencies

According to People’s Bank of China (PBOC), cryptocurrency investments (at least uncontrolled ones) can harm the Chinese economy and potentially pose a risk for the Yuan.

In short, the government has made its stance on crypto very clear: it doesn’t want them, and will not tolerate them, especially if they are external and not entirely controlled by the ruling power of China.

Be that as it may, the PBOC also released various statements saying that the research and development of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a top priority for China. This means that China’s central bank acknowledges the fact that crypto will replace paper money inevitably and this requires some research in order to take the best possible decision.

Interestingly enough, it is said that the Chinese government has invested and backed up various local crypto projects, such as Xiong’An Global Blockchain Innovation Fund, which supports many blockchain startups. According to several sources, the government offered at least $3 billion to fund emerging blockchain projects.

President Xi Jinping has also made a public televised appearance and called blockchain a “breakthrough” technology.

Why China Might Need Its Own Cryptocurrency

Despite all the bans and the controversial attitude towards blockchains, the national cryptocurrency started to circulate in two Chinese cities (Shenzhen and Guiyang). The national cryptocurrency in China is far from being a secret, as Zhang Yifeng, the chief of science and technology at the Banknote Blockchain Technology Institute admitted on numerous occasions that China is working on it.

The PBOC needs a digital coin in order to bring all cryptocurrencies back under the state control. It’s worth noting that, before the ban, China actually had one of the largest trading volumes of all countries. Not only that, but China also has a big number of crypto enthusiasts and crypto miners, not to mention crypto mining farms.

Ether and Bitcoin (as well as other cryptos) are still used in China to conduct illegal transactions and money laundering operations. The Chinese government wants to introduce its own cryptocurrency to solve these problems and also to make miners switch to mining a government-backed cryptocurrency. With these moves, the Chinese government hopes to reinstate control over all financial operations within the country.

There’s still not much information whether the coin will be ChinaCoin or CryptoYuan, but one thing is for sure: China will join the ranks of Russia and Venezuela who both have the same types of financial aspirations.

One interesting point of view is related to what effect will this cryptocurrency have on the crypto market once it hits mainstream adoption in China. There are those who are afraid that this Chinese cryptocurrency will actually crash the Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum-powered market.

Conclusion

Considering everything that’s been said, it’s safe to say that China is not truly bearish or bullish on cryptocurrencies. The government does indeed accept the inevitability of crypto dominance over other traditional payment systems, but it still wants to retain full control over all transactions within the country.

In fact, China is very bullish on blockchain development and the government seems to have a long-term plan that started with the banning of cryptocurrencies last year. China’s authority finance institutions have announced that cryptocurrency and blockchain development will be a top priority for 2018 and, so far, everything acted out accordingly.

Many crypto experts agree that China will either “break” the crypto market or lead the charge towards a new bull market. It’s important not to forget that China’s influence on the international cryptocurrency market is immense.


Source
Author: UseTheBitcoin
Image Credit

Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware Maker Turns £1,000 into Over £1 Million in First Year

A 28-year-old cryptocurrency entrepreneur from the UK has managed to turn £1,000 (around $1,500) into over £1 million in just 18 months of trading. Josh Riddett, of Bury, Greater Manchester, has found success manufacturing specialist digital currency mining hardware.

 

Riddett’s company, Easy Crypto Hunter, has expanded from the sale of a single unit, with profits reinvested, into the UK’s largest GPU mining rig manufacturer. The firm also gives educational sessions on the cryptocurrency space, as well as providing accountancy services for investors and traders.

Cryptocurrency Startups Still Proving Profitable, Despite Market Dip

Even though those investing in digital assets have had a pretty rough 2018, that is not to say that all those involved in the cryptocurrency space have lost money through the ongoing bear market. One entrepreneur from Bury, UK, has managed to turn just £1,000 of savings into a seven-figure crypto company in only 18 months.

Josh Riddett started Easy Crypto Hunter in late 2017. He had just graduated from Lancaster University where he studied business entrepreneurship management. Evidently, his choice of course was a strong one since he has managed to make a roaring success of his first venture into the world of business – even despite the surrounding market conditions.

Riddett’s firm specialises in putting together GPU mining rigs, which are designed to secure the networks of various altcoins such as Ethereum, Monero, and Dogecoin. From its humble beginnings, Easy Crypto Hunter today boasts has more than 100 customers. These include business owners, property companies, and retirees. Those buying units hope to earn a side income by using GPU mining rigs to validate transactions on the network they work upon.

Riddett spoke to local news publication Prolific North about his company and the future of cryptocurrency:

“We are absolutely delighted to see the business take off and I strongly believe cryptocurrency is here to stay and is set to become more popular and more mainstream as the likes of BMW, Microsoft and Expedia accept it as a form of payment.”

The entrepreneur went on to state that he was confident that cryptocurrency is already causing massive disruption to the payments and banking industry. In his own words: “Cryptocurrency is the future.”

Riddett’s success was celebrated last month at a local awards presentation. At the Made in Bury Business Awards 2018 event, Easy Crypto Hunter scooped the prize for Technology Business of the Year.

Easy Crypto Hunter Planning Expansion As Others Downsize

The bear market of 2018 has already seen many digital asset startups laying off members of staff. Blockchain-based social network Steemit recently announced that they would be getting rid of as much as 70% of its workforce. Meanwhile, Ethereum’s chat platform Status will be losing 25% of its staff.

Bucking this trend is Riddett’s Easy Crypto Hunter. The Bury-based entrepreneur has stated that he is looking to take on more workers to help it keep up with growing demand for GPU mining units.


Source
Author: Rick D.
Image Credit

Ethereum (ETH) Network Hits Key Milestone Amid Crypto Bear Market

Ethereum Eclipses 50M Addresses

According to data compiled by The Block from Etherscan.io, the number of unique Ethereum addresses (not wallets) has recently surpassed a key, round number milestone at 50 million — a monumental accomplishment for any network. Interestingly, even amid 2018’s dismal unpredictable bear market, the growth of this figure hasn’t slowed (much), as depicted in the graph below.

Yet, this statistic’s current growth prospects are a far cry from those seen in early-January 2018, which was when ETH surpassed $1,000, and while demand for DApps and Ethereum (token) trading shot through the metaphorical roof. For example, on January 4th, as the altcoin mania was nearing its peak, 352,888 new addresses were created in a single day.

Today, approximately 70,000 new addresses are added to the network each and every day, which is far from a measly sum, to say the least. This could indicate that tens of thousands of consumers still see value in what Ethereum has to offer, as processes have become even cheaper, specifically due to market qualms.

 

It Isn’t All Sunshine And Rainbows 

While the network’s continual growth is a welcome sight, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, so to speak. As noted by The Block, the number of active addresses, or accounts that send and receive transactions on the day-to-day, has actually fallen, even while total addresses have been well on the rise. On January 16th, 2018, 719,093 Ethereum addresses sent and/or received transactions, that same figure sits at a dismal 232,085 on Saturday — not the end of the world, but a harrowing sight nonetheless.

Worse yet, active Ethereum addresses only account for 0.46% for all unique addresses in existence, a far cry from the ~3.5% seen in January.

The number of daily transactions on the network has also fallen, from 1,349,890 on January 4th — a seeming important date in Ethereum’s multi-year history — to 551,916 as of yesterday. To give the latter figure some perspective, 551,916 daily transactions amount to 22,996 an hour, 383 a minute, and 6.4 a second — a far cry from what Visa processes.

 

ETH Posts Slight Gain In ‘Sea Of Green’

In spite of the caveats of Ethereum’s current state, Ether has performed relatively well over the past 24 hours. According to Coin Market Cap, the asset is up to $85.5 apiece, while posting a slight gain of 1.2% in the past day. Although ETH is outperforming its rivals in Bitcoin (BTC), XRP, and EOS by less than 1%, it has underperformed a number of other prominent altcoins — Litecoin (+7.61%), Bitcoin SV (+11.09%), and Maker (+7.92%).

At the time of writing, the market capitalization of cryptocurrencies is at $103 billion, with volume backing the market moves amounting to $10.4 billion (unadjusted).


Source
Author: Nick Chong
Image Credit
Image Credit
Image Credit