Coming every Sunday, the Hodler’s Digest will help you to track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions, and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.
Top Stories This Week
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has again postponed its decision regarding approval for a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) this week.
According to a document released by the SEC, the new deadline is Feb. 27, 2019, and they will take the extension to further review the rule change proposals needed to list the BTC ETF.
The financial instrument was proposed by investment firm VanEck and blockchain company SolidX, with plans to list it on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Legally, as the proposed rule change was first published in the Federal Register on July 2, 2018, the maximum period of consideration falls 240 days later, on Feb. 27, 2019.
Venezuelan President Maduro Raises Petro’s Value by 150 Percent
Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, has raised the reference value of the national cryptocurrency, Petro, from 3,6000 to 9,000 sovereign bolivars. Speaking in Caracas this week, Maduro also ordered an increase in the monthly minimum wage by 150 percent, the sixth increase in 2018 and 25th in total during Maduro’s presidency.
At the same time, Venezuela also devalued Dicom, the official exchange rate in the country, bringing the national fiat down around 40 percent from 96.84 sovereign bolivars per dollar on Nov. 30 to 171.67 the following day.
Nasdaq Confirms Bitcoin Futures Launch for First Half of 2019
Nasdaq, the world’s second-largest stock exchange, has confirmed plans to launch Bitcoin futures in the first half of 2019. VanEck Director of Digital Asset Strategies Gabor Gurbacs told Cointelegraph that the firm has been discussing futures with Nasdaq, MVIS Indices, and other market participants for “about 18 months.”
According to Gurbacs, the new offering will differ from those trading on the on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) with its transparency and resiliency.
Major Crypto Exchange Binance to Launch ‘Binance Blockchain’ Soon
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volumes, will launch its own blockchain “Binance Chain” in the “coming months,” according to a tweet this week. The upcoming blockchain will allow persons to create new cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) tokens. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) noted that the new plans are actually a response to the “old vision” of crypto, which will then lead to increasing adoption on a global scale.
Crypto Exchange ErisX Raises $27.5 Mln in Funding from Fidelity, Nasdaq, Others
Crypto exchange ErisX has raised $27.5 million from stock exchange Nasdaq and Fidelity, which administers over $7.2 trillion in client assets, among other clients. According to media reports, ErisX will offer both spot trading in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC), as well as futures markets in the following year, pending regulatory approval.
Previous reports had noted that ErisX could include Bitcoin Cash (BCH) support, but this week’s news did not include the altcoin. According to ErisX CEO Thomas Chippas, the investment’s purpose is to hire staff and “build out our infrastructure and secure the appropriate steps are taken to develop a regulated market for digital assets.”
Most Memorable Quotations
“Definitely possible could be 20 years from now, or it could be tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath. The SEC took a long time to [establish] Finhub. It might take even longer to approve an exchange-traded product,” — Hester Peirce, commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), speaking about Bitcoin ETF approval
“#TRON will build a fund to rescue #ETH and #EOS developers from the collapse of their platform as long as those developers migrate their dapps to #TRON,” — Justin Sun, TRON CEO
Laws And Taxes
US: Two New Bills Focusing on Crypto Market Manipulation, Regulations Introduced
Two new bills in the United States were compiled this month that focus on crypto market manipulation, with the aim to “position the United States to be a leader in the cryptocurrency industry.” The “The Virtual Currency Consumer Protection Act of 2018” and “The U.S. Virtual Currency Market and Regulatory Competitiveness Act of 2018” will go before the House of Representatives, and were a bipartisan effort from congressmen Darren Soto and Ted Budd.
Swiss Finance Minister Prefers Current Laws, Rejects Creation of Blockchain Legislation
Ueli Maurer, the Swiss Minister of Finance, has rejected a possible blockchain law in a speech at blockchain conference this week. Switzerland plans to work with existing laws in order to regulate and legislate the new technology and its financial applications, as opposed to introducing a specific blockchain or crypto legal framework, according to Maurer. The government expects to propose changes to six laws, including the civil code and bankruptcy law, in 2019.
New York Financial Services Department Approves Blockchain Digital Payment Platform
The Department of Financial Services of New York (NYDFS) has authorized a blockchain-based digital platform offered by New York-based Signature bank. The financial services department will allow the bank to offer its digital payment platform Signet in the state, which uses blockchain tech to allow bank clients to “transfer ‘Signets’ to make payments with no transaction fees, at any time of the day, year-round.” The department noted that Signet has been subject to a “comprehensive and rigorous review” and needs to comply with “significant regulatory conditions.”
US Congressman Plans to Introduce Federal Cryptocurrency and ICO Regulation
Republican U.S. Representative Warren Davidson announced plans this week to introduce legislation on a federal level to regulate both cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). The new bill would create an “asset class” for both crypto and digital assets, which “would prevent them from being classified as securities, but would also allow the federal government to regulate initial coin offerings more effectively.”
G20 Leaders Call for Global Cryptocurrency Taxation and Regulation Systems
After their meeting this week, the G20 countries have called for the taxation of cryptocurrency, as well as its regulation to combat money laundering. According to a Japanese news outlet Jiji.com, the final text of a G20 document asks for a “taxation system for cross-border electronic payment services.” The document then continues that under the current laws, foreign companies without a base in Japan cannot be taxed by the local government, noting the need for this taxation system.
Mastercard Files Patent for Anonymization Method for Blockchain Transactions
Mastercard has filed a patent for a system that anonymizes transactions on a blockchain. According to the filing, the “the use of one or more intermediary addresses to obscure the source and destination of funds in a blockchain transaction” can be used in order to “increase anonymity of entities associated with blockchain addresses.” The system outlined by Mastercard would consist of a series of “anonymization request[s] ” designed to anonymize the transactions themselves, rather than just the user behind any individual wallet.
Switzerland’s ‘Crypto Valley’ Ranked the ‘Fastest-Growing’ European Tech Hub
Zug, Switzerland, which is also known as “Crypto Valley,” has been ranked the fastest-growing tech community in Europe. According to the “State of European Tech” report from London-headquartered global technology investment firm Atomico, Zug tops the list in a comparison of year-on-year growth of attendees to tech-related “meetup” events per European city. The report notes that Zug has a 117 percent increase as compared with 2017.
More Than One Third of German Big Businesses See Blockchain as Important as Internet
A recent survey has shown that over one third of big businesses in Germany consider blockchain technology to be as revolutionary as the internet. The survey, conducted by the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom), found that 15 percent of German companies think blockchain will “change society and the economy as much as the Internet.” Larger companies, with 500 or more employees, were more than twice as likely to hold that opinion, at 36 percent.
Abu Dhabi Int’l Financial Free Zone Completes Phase of Blockchain-Based KYC Project
The Abu Dhabi Global Market’s (ADGM) regulatory body, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), along with Big Four audit firm KPMG, released a review of the blockchain-based Know Your Customer (KYC) utility project this week, calling it a “successful” first phase. An international financial free zone in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) worked on the project for four months, along with a consortium of major UAE-based financial institutions. The review notes the use of cryptography and digital signatures can support a more secure and convenient system for upholding KYC industry standards.
US Air Force Graduate Schools Develops Blockchain-Based Supply Chain Tool
The graduate school for the U.S. Air Force has developed an educational tool based on blockchain technology for managing supply chains. The tool is a live application and a set of tutorial videos released by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). According to their report, “blockchain will revolutionize […] the digital infrastructure for future supply chains,” which can translate into “better visibility” for the military’s “extremely complex logistics network.” The Institute worked with private supply chain security firm SecureMarking and the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business.
Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships
Seven Southern EU Member States Sign Declaration to Promote Blockchain Use
Seven southern European Union members states — Malta, France, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, and Greece — have released a declaration calling for the promotion of distributed ledger technology’s (DLT) use in the region. The document notes blockchain tech’s use in protecting citizens’ privacy and making bureaucratic systems more efficient, as well as its potential for use in the “education, transport, mobility, shipping, Land Registry, customs, company registry, and healthcare” industries.
Hardware Wallet Ledgers Partners with German Startup to Create Security Token Framework
Crypto hardware wallet firm Ledger and crypto startup Neufund have announced a partnership to let users manager security tokens through Ledger’s desktop application. The collaboration aims to develop an overall framework for security tokens. In addition, Ledger Live, which is a recently launched desktop app for crypto asset management, plans on “soon” adding an ERC-20 integration, which will let users manage security tokens issued via Neufund’s set of protocols.
US Trading-Comms Firm Partners With Blockchain Consortium R3
American trading-communications firm IPC system and enterprise blockchain software consortium R3 have partnered this week. IPC is known for producing trading turrets, i.e., communications systems used by financial traders on their trading desks. With the partnership, IPC will support R3’s Corda blockchain networks on its Connexus Cloud platform — a financial markets cloud-based platform for data, voice, and business communications and compliance.
Four Blockchain Companies Jointly Launch ‘Blockchain for Europe’ Association
Four major blockchain companies — Ripple, the NEM Foundation, Emurgo, and Fetch.AI — have formed a “Blockchain for Europe” Association. The organization’s aim to promote understanding and proactive regulation of blockchain and other distributed ledger (DLT) technologies across Europe, addressing the EU’s “fragmented” policy debate around blockchain. The organization will use education about the technology in the member states in order to advocate for future “smart” regulation, conducive to innovation, that will help the continent “shape the global agenda” on blockchain.
Overstock.Com’s Blockchain Venture Arm Purchases Equity in Blockchain Agri Project
Medici ventures, Overstock.com Inc.’s blockchain venture arm, has purchased $25 million in equity in agricultural blockchain project GrainChain. The project has developed a blockchain-powered system for the tracking of supply chain parties in the distribution process of harvests, allowing producers, buyers, and sellers to create smart contracts in order to secure funds throughout the grain transaction process. The platform is aimed at small- and medium-scale farmers, which can then remove the middlemen and conduct business outside of their immediate geographic area.
Seven New Funds in Ohio Plan $300 Million Investment for Blockchain Startups
Seven Ohio-based funds and other investment teams will contribute $300 million in investments into blockchain startups through 2021, as announced this week by executives. Speaking at a blockchain conference, the CEO of nonprofit JumpStart Ray Leach announced that the seven funds with investing $100 million in “early-stage startups that focus on using blockchain technology for business or government.” As well, “additional investment teams” will add $200 million for blockchain outfits working within Ohio’s social welfare projects, dubbed “Opportunity Zones.”
Sequoia Capital, Huobi Participate in $35 Mln Funding for Scalable ‘Blockchain’ Network
A new blockchain-type network led by a Turing Award recipient and various other academics have received $35 million in funding from investors including Sequoia Capital, IMO Ventures, FreesFund, Rong 360, Shunwei Capital, F2Pool, and major crypto exchange Huobi. The network, dubbed “Conflux,” aims to tackle blockchain scalability, proclaiming that its new testnet is capable of processing ”at least 6,500 Transactions Per Second (TPS), while supporting at least 20,000 nodes.”
Winners And Losers
The market is holding steady after a week of declines, with Bitcoin trading at around $3,489, Ripple at $.30, and Ethereum at $91.99. Total market cap is at about $110 billion.
The top three altcoin gainers of the week are TittieCoin, Bastonet, and TRONCLASSIC. The top three altcoin losers of the week are FREE Coin, Etheera and RabbitCoin.
For more info on crypto prices movement, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.
FUD Of The Week
Former Israeli PM Calls Crypto a ‘Ponzi Scheme,’ But Thinks Blockchain Is Important
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak compared digital currencies to Ponzi schemes but noted the importance of blockchain technology. Barak, who participated in the Camp David Accords in 2000, now serves as the chairman of medical marijuana producer InterCure. When asked about the comparison of the alleged marijuana investment “bubble” to crypto, Barak underlined that “he would never invest” in cryptocurrenciesas “Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies [are] a Ponzi scheme.” However, Barak added that blockchain technology and smart contracts are important and useful technological and mathematical concepts.
US Securities Regulator Issues Cease and Desist to Delaware-Based Digital Asset Fund
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a cease and desist against CoinAlpha Advisors LLC in addition to ordering a $50,000 penalty to be paid. The company had allegedly raised over $600,000 from 22 investors in at least five states, purchasing limited partnership interest in the fund in exchange for a proportional share of any profits derived from the fund’s investment in digital assets. However, even those CoinAlpha filed an exemption notice with the SEC in November 2017, the company was not registered with the SEC, meaning that they violated securities laws.
Chilean Supreme Court Rules Against Crypto Exchange Over Bank Account Closure
The Chilean Supreme Court has ruled against crypto exchange Orionx in a case over the right for state-owned bank Banco del Estado to close the exchange’s account. The high court revoked the July decision that protected Orionx and ordered the bank to reopen the account, with the court decision noting that the nature of cryptocurrencies prevents banks from receiving detailed information on transactions, customers, and companies that interact with the assets. The court has ruled that the bank did not violate any aspect of the Chilean constitution.
South Korean Financial Authority Warns 2 Banks Over Poor Crypto Transaction System
A financial authority in South Korea has warned major domestic banks Kookmin Bank and Nonghyup Bank over their lack of management of cryptocurrency transactions and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulation. The country’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has found that the banks had “unreasonable elements related to virtual [currency] handling business.” The banks have also beengiven orders for improvement and must submit the measures to the FSS within three months or face more “direct sanctions.”
Prediction Of The Week
Quoine CEO: Bitcoin Will Surpass Last Year’s All-Time Highs by End of 2019
Mike Kayamori, the CEO of Japanese fintech firm and crypto exchange operator Quoine, said in an interview this week that he believes Bitcoin (BTC) will “surpass” its all-time price highs by the end of 2019. He also noted that the bottom is near for the top coin, citing the pressure on Bitcoin miners as an accurate sign of its coming. Kayamori added that the better practices across the industry, Japan’s crypto ecosystem, in particular, is experiencing a period of “consolidation.”
Best Cointelegraph Features
G-20 Summit Results: Crypto Is Important for Global Economy, Needs to Be Regulated and Taxed
After the G20 summit that took place last week, the global community learned that G20 leaders believe the cryptocurrency is worth bringing up in reference to the sustainable development of the global economy. In this analysis, Cointelegraph looks at how the G20 member states see their role in both crypto regulation and taxation.
EOS Community Is Challenged After Node Announces Financial Rewards for Votes
After various previous centralization scandals surrounding altcoin EOS, a new issue has surfaced, with one of their Block Producers (BP) allegedly offering money in exchange for voting them as a proxy in a thinly veiled “gamification.” Cointelegraph delves into the BP, Starteos, and how its offer of crypto for votes was received in the EOS community.