After a holiday hiatus, Ran NeuNer, the founder of OnChain Capital and the host of CNBC Africa’s “Crypto Trader” segment, brought on a number of leading crypto investors, who all did their best to forecast where Bitcoin (BTC) and this industry would be heading next.

Pomp Expects Sideways Price Action For Bitcoin 

When asked about if the worst of 2018/2019’s bear season is over, Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, the founder of Morgan Creek Digital Assets and a former Snapchat and Facebook growth staffer, noted that Bitcoin likely doesn’t have much further to fall. This comment comes just weeks after Pompliano took to BlockTV to claim that there’s a chance BTC could re-test its $3,150 lows, before potentially falling even lower.

In the CNBC Africa segment, Pomp went on to add that while a bottom is likely inbound, there’s a low chance that BTC and other cryptocurrencies will embark on a drastic recovery during 2019. The decentralist, who has been overtly skeptical of banks, noted that instead of falling further, BTC may begin to range trade, potentially between $2,500 and $4,500 for much of 2019.

Pomp’s comments are interestingly similar to those touted by Fred Wilson, a pro-crypto venture capitalist that co-founded Union Square. Per previous reports from Ethereum World News, Wilson, who has become a respected figure in the Bitcoin, Silicon Valley, and traditional finance world alike, believes that crypto will find a long-term foothold during 2019.

Wilson didn’t stipulate where exactly cryptocurrencies would bottom but claimed that in the months to come, he expects for a fair share of “bullish runs” and influxes of “selling pressure” to push cryptocurrencies to retest their one-year lows. After Bitcoin finds some ground to stand on, the Union Square partner, who was presumably behind his firm’s investments in Coinbase and Polychain Capital, noted that he expects for this industry to enter its next bull season.

Tone Vays, a former institutional investor turned Bitcoin diehard, also recently echoed the idea that this market will find a long-term foothold during 2019, but was also vague about the precise timing and price points.

Crypto Fundamentals Still Strong

When asked about adoption, the Morgan Creek representative noted that all of Bitcoin’s underlying fundamentals are still going strong, echoing sentiment touted by Jameson Lopp of Casa. Pomp noted that this shows that “adoption has continued to increase even amid the bear market.”

Backing his comment, Pompliano explained that hashrate quadrupled (at 2018’s peak), while transaction count increased month-over-month from March until now. And, a collective $400 billion worth of value was settled on the Bitcoin network throughout 2018.

He went on to draw attention to the Lightning Network, which many believe will single-handily catalyze global adoption of cryptocurrencies, most notably Bitcoin. Pomp noted that the scaling solution is one of the fastest-growing protocols regarding scalability and usability. The in-house Morgan Creek crypto bull then noted that Lightning will be one of the big stories of 2019, along with the growth of a strong retail product and the arrival of institutional participation.

This post credited to Ethereum World News. Image souce: Flickr

Bitcoin has failed to stabilize above $3,600, which is leading the crypto markets to now face new levels of support. Today’s downwards move has led many altcoins to plunge 6% or more, and they are showing few signs of major buying support near their current price levels.

Analysts have mixed opinions regarding exactly where the markets will find support, but there is a general consensus that Bitcoin will find some buying pressure in the low-$3,000 region, which, if this level is to be touched, could result in a bounce.

Bitcoin Drops to Bottom of Trading Range

Currently, Bitcoin is trading down approximately 3% at its current price of $3,560, which is at the bottom of the trading range that Bitcoin formed earlier this week when it failed to stabilize above $4,000 for an extended period of time.

Mati Greenspan, the senior market analyst at eToro, discussed this range in a market update from last week, saying:

“It seems now, that bitcoin has opened a new mini-range within that from $3,550 to approximately $4,200.”

Bitcoin does appear to be respecting the bottom of this range as support so far, but the current lack of trading volume likely signals that further losses are imminent.

Crypto Markets Likely to Drop Further Before Finding Strong Support

In a recent tweet, Trading Room noted that Bitcoin’s next key support level exists between $3,292 and $3,396, which is approximately 5-7% lower than its current prices. If it does touch these prices, it will mark a nearly 10% drop from where Bitcoin began 2019.

They further noted that multiple altcoins are still above their support levels, meaning that they will likely drop further before stabilizing or possibly bouncing.

“ALTs market back to free fall. Waiting for majors to stabilize. Let’s see their reaction against major support before entering ALTs,” Trading Room cautioned, hinting that altcoins will face further losses in the near-future.

Josh Rager, a popular cryptocurrency analyst on Twitter, echoed a similar sentiment, noting that Bitcoin will likely find significant buying pressure at, or slightly below, $3,000. He further noted that the markets will likely range sideways for a while before dropping further.

“As the volume continues to slowly descend Bitcoin could see more sideways ranging… This could last for days or weeks until a decrease in buyers, currently holding up the market, at these levels… Nice support below $3,000 with lots of buyers waiting there,” Rager explained.

It is plausible that the crypto markets will find greater direction as their trading volume increases when the new week begins.

This post credited to News BTC. Image source: News BTC

Switzerland’s major private investment bank Vontobel has launched a cryptocustody solution targeting banks and asset managers, according to an official press release published on Jan. 14.

Zurich-based Vontobel bank is reportedly the third largest financial custody provider in Switzerland, with 110.3 billion CHF ($112.2 billion) in assets under its actively developing Asset Management tool, according to the company’s financial report in 2017.

With the launch of the new digital assets custodian solution named Digital Asset Vault, the private bank claims to be the first bank in the world to comply with standards required by both industry regulators and financial intermediaries.

The new tool allows banks and asset managers to offer their clients a number of crypto-related services including digital assets purchases, transfers and storage.

According to the announcement, Vontobel’s Digital Asset Vault operates just as in the traditional assets classes under the rules of the banking infrastructure, with customers acquiring an alternative to their previous personal registrations, as well as a consolidated overview of traditional and digital assets.

In order to protect users’ digital assets, Vontobel combined Hardware Security Module (HSM) technology and its own banking infrastructure, the statement says.

As reported by Cointelegraph, Vontobel has previously emerged as a pro-crypto bank, operating as a lender to provide its clients with cryptocurrency investments. In 2017, local sources reported that Vontobel’s Bitcoin (BTCcertificate was the most traded product on the Europe’s largest stock exchange, SIX Swiss Exchange.

In late 2018, Switzerland’s financial regulator, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority , issued guidelines for their FinTech license, with crypto-related businesses and blockchain firms reportedly set to start applying for the license starting from 2019.

This post credited to Cointelegraph. Image source: Cointelegraph

NEO appears to be losing ground in the popularity contest, at least lately. In the glory days of 2017, the “Chinese Ethereum” was a top 10 cryptocurrency with unstoppable potential. NEO was touted as being faster, better, and capable of handling way more transactions than other major networks. The hype surrounding the project was palpable.

Since its heyday in January 2018 when its market cap was over $10 billion, NEO has slipped to 18th place with a market cap around half that amount.

neo price
NEO, like other top cryptocurrency assets, had a rough 2018.

What’s happened to see it fall out of favor?

The crypto community may be losing interest in NEO, but its co-founder, Erik Zhang, isn’t losing any sleep.

In fact, ask him what NEO price is on any given day and, chances are, he hasn’t even checked.

“I don’t care about NEO’s price and market capitalization at all,” he told me.

I caught up with Zhang to find out what’s going on with NEO, why being compared to Ethereum irks him, and how his cat writes most of his code. Check it out.

Everyone’s heard of your charismatic co-founder Da Hongfei; he’s the face of NEO. Do you prefer to work behind the scenes? What is your main role at NEO?

erik zhang
Erik Zhang, NEO Co-Founder | Source: NEO.org

“Da Hongfei has done a great job in promoting NEO and made great contributions to the development of blockchain industry,” he says.

“Da had more exposure to the public whereas my contributions were more focused on the GitHub.”

Despite his reduced share of time in the spotlight, Zhang isn’t just the co-founder of NEO; he’s also a core developer. And he’s completely disinterested in the NEO price and the crypto market fluctuations in general.

His job, he reminds me, is to focus on building out NEO and strengthening the community.

“What’s the difference between the top 10 and the 18th?” he questions, “We are developing a blockchain project instead of playing a capital game. I just want to make this project even better.”

Is it accurate that NEO is often called the “Chinese Ethereum?” Do you mind that association or is this something that annoys you and the team?

Like a red rag to a bull, Zhang really begins to come into his own here. Somehow, I had the feeling that the constant comparison to Ethereum might be a sticking point.

The labeling is a hype. We never introduced NEO this way, and I’m personally against this labeling.

He goes onto explain that he has nothing against Ethereum, however; he even calls it a “great project.” But he reaffirms that the two blockchains are very different.

It’s easy to call WeChat the “Chinese WhatsApp” and Baidu the “Chinese Google,” but that’s probably where the similarities end. It’s pretty much watered down marketing for dummies in the West.

NEO may have been conceived in China, but Zhang explains that it’s a global project contributed to by developers throughout the world.

“Although it was initiated by two Chinese people, I believe that the founder’s nationality is not the nationality of the project.” And Zhang isn’t real keen on projects having a figurehead.

In my eyes, the founder is nothing but a mascot.

He then comes out with an extremely valid point on the NEO/Ethereum comparison:

Lastly, I have to say that the one that can defeat the Ethereum can never be another Ethereum.

So, what are the key differences between NEO and Ethereum at the technological level? And at a visionary level?

“NEO and Ethereum both have their own tokens. They can all run turing-complete smart contracts. But they also have a big difference. First, their consensus mechanisms are different. Ethereum uses a PoW algorithm, while NEO uses the dBFT algorithm,” he says.

“Second, their smart contract development languages are very different. Ethereum uses a domain-specific language called Solidity, while NEO uses general-purpose languages with a large number of developers, such as C#, Python, Java, Golang, JavaScript, etc.”

Even the smart contract features the two networks provide are different, Zhang explains:

The interfaces provided by Ethereum for smart contracts are relatively simple, and they are usually provided through the EVM instruction set. NEO provides a large number of powerful APIs for smart contracts, and they are provided in a way similar to virtual devices.

Beyond the technical differences, the greatest chasm lies between the vision of the two projects. Says Zhang:

Ethereum wants to be a world computer that cannot be stopped while NEO wants to serve the smart economy.

Da Hongfei said at Web Summit in Lisbon that NEO is ready for the “formal economy.” What does he mean by this and how is this the case?

NEO Team
The NEO Team | Source: Twitter

“In the past year, we have adhered to the principle of building NEO a compliance-ready blockchain. Although blockchain is treated differently in different countries, there’s no doubt that no country or region would turn away from blockchain technology,” he said.

From the perspective of social revolution, blockchain has to be well monitored for mass application and healthy development. We’ve seen the liquidity being facilitated by unhealthy development; however, it propagated a wrong way of usage.

“NEO’s vision of smart economy is composed of ‘smart contract,’ ‘digital identity,’ and ‘digital assets,’ of which ‘digital identity’ is a prerequisite for compliance and a feature of NEO,” he adds. “Digital identity is also the area NEO wishes to focus on to facilitate the development of the formal economy using blockchain technology.”

You can be forgiven for not digesting all that in one go. With so much focus on digital identity, what does that actually mean to the end user? What does all this translate to?

Regarding the importance of digital identity and privacy in blockchains for the mainstream, what applications are available to take NEO to the mainstream?

“NeoID is an important component which facilitates the development of digital identity.” He reinforces:

Blockchain has to be compliance-ready and associated with the real economy to achieve growth.

NEO has never wanted to disassociate itself with the real economy, according to its vision in the whitepaper. NEO plans to make the existing economy better. Zhang confirms:

What’s in NEO’s plan is to use blockchain to empower the real economy, and we firmly believe that NEO will build the future of smart economy.

Are you a believer in regulation despite the fact that ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges are banned in China? Do you still think this is the right move?

“Although ICOs and exchanges are banned in China, the government still encourages the development of blockchain technology. I think it works positively. When the monitoring system is immature, it is a good idea to build compliance into blockchain technology.”

The situation is a little murky in China upon first glance. On the one hand, the government seems to be entirely hostile to crypto. It’s not an ICO incubator hub the likes of Switzerland or Malta.

However, it’s also not falling behind in the race to blockchainize its economy in any way. But does banning crypto trading and ICOs not damage Chinese-based crypto?

Just to double check, cryptocurrency is not illegal in China, however, trading is? Has this hurt NEO’s growth? How will NEO be able to get ready for a formal economy if trading cryptocurrency is banned in China?

china bitcoin cryptocurrency
Crypto traders in China and Russia are evading local restrictions on exchanges by trading OTC.

“Trading is not illegal,” Zhang corrects me, “exchanges are illegal. This won’t hurt NEO, or the damage to NEO is the same as any other projects. You cannot trade NEO or other tokens on Chinese exchanges. But you can legally trade NEO or other tokens in other countries.”

This is where he brings out a sucker punch to retail traders, the likes of which only a developer can, reiterating that the price of NEO is about as interesting to him as the latest tweet from a Kardashian.

Traders always think of ways, I don’t need to care about this at all, because I am not a trader myself.

What’s new with NEO at the moment? What’s coming up next?

“NEO’s goal is to have the ability to run large-scale commercial applications. To achieve this goal, we are doing two things. The first is to improve NEO’s infrastructure so that it has higher tps and a more reliable dBFT consensus algorithm.

“After half a year of development, the improved NEO consensus algorithm dBFT is about to be completed. dBFT will become the best consensus mechanism for blockchains.

“The second is to develop a distributed storage network, NeoFS, so that applications can store massive amounts of data. The development of the first release candidate (RC1) of NeoFS is expected to be completed in Q3 2019.

“In February, we will hold the second NEO DevCon in Seattle and will share more details about the progress.”

NEO DevCon
DevCon | Source: devcon.neo.org

What’s the importance of DevCon for NEO and for the industry? Can you tell us a bit about the event?

“The DevCon is strategically held to keep the community informed of our development progress. It also provides a chance to the people interested in blockchain to learn about the latest technological advances, interesting applications and discuss the possibilities of future changes with relevant experts and scholars.

“NEO DevCon will be held during Feb 16-17 in Seattle revolving around Layer2, consensus mechanism and distributed file storage system etc., with more topics to be decided. This time we also invited some speakers from Seattle-based tech giants to share their insights with us.

“By holding the DevCon, we hope to build more connections between blockchain and traditional large enterprises to facilitate a wider application of blockchain technology.”

Do you see this year’s event drawing as many people as your last event, given the fact that many companies like ConsenSys are laying people off?

“The NGD marketing team has been dedicated to the preparation of DevCon, and we are confident of the result. Our objective is not restricted to the blockchain industry alone; instead, we expect to incorporate blockchain technology into higher-dimensional scenarios and industries to serve large-scale business purposes,” he continues, adding:

It is worth mentioning that in the past six months, we had more than a dozen new talent join the team and witnessed a growth in technology communities. Our vision is clear and we always focused on technology development, so market volatility doesn’t have a big impact on the team’s development.

So, that being the case, would you still encourage developers to get into blockchain despite the slump?

“Of course! This is one of the things I officially do. Just as the Internet has brought people into the digital economy era, I believe that the blockchain will lead people into the era of the smart economy. The changes in the economic system will bring people a better life.

“I think this is something that deserves to be done. We need more talented developers to join in the innovation. It has nothing to do with the market situation.”

Let’s get back to NEO and your plans. Can you tell us anything about the hard fork? Can you give us some details or a timeline for that?

“NEO will have a major update next year, which is NEO 3.0. To upgrade to NEO 3.0, we need at least one hard fork.” he continues:

We might even propose to start a new blockchain network, then migrate all the old data to the new chain.

However, “These are still under discussion. As for the type of upgrade that will ultimately be chosen, it depends on the final technical implementation. But in either case, it will not be implemented until next year.”

So, no hard fork in the road ahead for NEO until 2020, but there’s still plenty to look forward to as the NEO community continues along its roadmap.

Moving back to the cryptocurrency industry in general, what’s going on? Did you anticipate the Bitcoin Cash hard fork having such an effect on the industry?

ethereum bitcoin
Erik Zhang believes Ethereum will overtake Bitcoin, sooner rather than later.

“Personally, I didn’t pay much attention to the market fluctuations nor did I notice the BCH hard fork. So it is difficult for me to answer this question,” he said. However, he added:

From what I’ve observed, an industry has to weed out underperforming projects to achieve growth.

He then goes on to drop an unexpected prediction:

In my opinion, Ethereum will sooner or later exceed Bitcoin and get the first position. But Ethereum will also face very fierce competition from other projects such as NEO.

Where do you see the future of cryptocurrency? Are traditional financial institutions right to fear it?

“As far as I know, many financial institutions are exploring the application of blockchain technology in financial scenarios,” however:

I don’t think traditional financial institutions can make any real achievements in the blockchain field. Because in my opinion, the nature of the blockchain is to reduce the cost of trust transfer through decentralization, and the nature of traditional financial institutions is to create trust through a centralized authority. These two ideas are contrary to each other and difficult to unify.

Any hard-line predictions for us?

“No, I’m not a wizard.” (He also doesn’t mince his words.)

Okay then, lastly, can you tell us something about yourself that no one knows?

“Remember, NEO’s code is written by Erik’s cat.”

This post credited to CCN. Featured Image from Shutterstock

During his speech at the 2018 Devcon4, Joe Lubin, the CEO of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum, addressed the current state of the Ethereum ecosystem and said that the next killer app is much closer than you might think.

Lubin’s Devcon Address Brought New Hope to Developers

Ethereum Devcon, the annual Ethereum developer meeting, has been a congregating spot for the industry’s brightest and most forward ideas since its conception. The conference’s fourth iteration, held in Prague, Czech Republic, saw some of the biggest names in the game talking about the industry’s future.

One of them was Joe Lubin, the current CEO of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum. In his speech, Lubin reviewed the state of the Ethereumecosystem and brought forward some of the accomplishments made by its developers.

ConsenSys highlighted Lubin’s take in a Medium post on Jan. 9th, sayingthat its importance grew as ConsenSys prepares for the launch of a more lithe ConsenSys 2.0.

“Reverberations from Lubin’s address are still being felt in early 2019 as Ethereum 2.0 comes into view and teams, businesses, and individuals alike prepare for the next phase of development,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Lubin was optimistic about the next generation of decentralized applications, saying that the next killer app will be a killer ecosystem. He pointed out that the robust suite of developer tools and protocols built over the past two years have provided developers with everything they need to build “the next big thing” in tech.

Ethereum Is The New Killer App

Lubin’s words gained more weight as the industry entered the new year facing even more hurdles than before. He said that the crypto space has been criticized by pundits for “being all about speculation” and failing to provide any killer apps.

Arguing that cryptocurrencies themselves were the latest killer app(s) to has come out of the space, the same way the Internet drove the market almost two decades ago. The new killer app is already in the works and is bound to change the world in ways we have never seen.

Ethereum’s second iteration has brought the idea of Web3 closer than ever, enabling the creation, issuance, distribution, exchange, and management of “so many different kinds of crypto assets,” Lubin said.

He said that Ethereum is the killer ecosystem the industry has been waiting for, calling it an ecosystem that will transform global economic, social, and political systems.

While one could argue that Lubin’s praise for Ethereum is nothing short of biased, decentralization is the next killer app—one that’s meant to stay. Just as the Internet experienced its ups and downs in the early 2000s, the blockchain industry is going through the cycle, ready to change the world as we know it.

This post credited to Cryptoslate. Image source: Cryptoslate

Consulting giant McKinsey & Co recently published a report on the state of the blockchain industry, claiming that while crypto technology has potential, it has been unable to break away from the early “pioneer” phase with most use cases failing to take off.

The Report: ‘Blockchain’s Occam Problem’

The report is not entirely critical, stating that blockchain is viewed as a potential game-changer in many industries. It does, however, point out that a huge amount of money has been pumped into blockchain projects, adding the view that “little of substance has been achieved.”

The consulting firm states that blockchain is an infant teleology that is “unstable, expensive, and complex. It is also unregulated and selectively distrusted.” A chart is included in the report, illustrating the industry struggling to emerge from the first stage of a four-stage cycle moving from pioneering to growth, maturity, and decline.

The report goes on to detail emerging doubts regarding crypto technology, with the report title referring to Occam’s Razor, the concept that the simplest answer or solution is the best one. The implication here, of course, is that blockchain technology is not the simplest solution.

Crypto Firms Respond

Anyone reading the report could be forgiven for taking a rather dim view of the technology. While not an outright dismissal of blockchain tech, McKinsey’s report certainly aims to drastically temper the expectations of any blockchain enthusiasts who firmly support the technology as a potential solution for many cross-industry problems.

Blockchain firms have not remained silent in the face of the report, with multiple CEOs addressing and debunking various points made within.

CEO Angel Versetti of blockchain supply chain tracking company Ambrosus acknowledged that blockchain hype had clouded expectations, but firmly asserted that in its intended use case, blockchain is indeed the best solution by far:

“The report claims that competing emerging technologies are hindering the progress of blockchain, however, I think there is no technology that really competes with Blockchain in terms of its core value proposition: censorship-resistant, universally trusted ledger of transactions and contracts with no central point of failure,” said Versetti.

Blockchain will not solve all the problems of the world. But in the core value proposition of data integrity and immutability, blockchain is king.

Utopia Music CEO Brent Jaciow focused on solutions to the issue, pointing out that blockchain tech was still an emerging industry.

Developers must work hard to remove any roadblocks to firm’s harnessing its capabilities. This feat may be accomplished by creating API’s which integrate into existing solutions or developing a user experience that is simple and easy to use whilst integrating blockchain technology as the backend software.

Is Blockchain The Future?

The McKinsey report runs the gamut of regulatory, scaling, and security concerns which have of course featured heavily in all criticisms of blockchain technology.

Dale Sanders@drsanders

McKinsey report on Blockchain, Jan 4: “The bottom line is that despite billions of dollars of investment, and nearly as many headlines, evidence for a practical scalable use for blockchain is thin on the ground.” https://lnkd.in/gfWbiaj 311:16 PM – Jan 6, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacyBlockchain’s Occam problemBlockchain has yet to become the game-changer some expected. A key to finding the value is to apply the technology only when it is the simplest solution available.mckinsey.comSee Dale Sanders’s other Tweets

Blockchain company responses to CCN seem to tackle these concerns with the suggestions of API development and the assertion that blockchain truly does outshine competing technologies when it comes to immutability and data protection, but it’s perhaps too soon to say whether the crypto industry is ready to break through to the second phase of the growth cycle outlined in the report.

However, the report reads more like a stern lecture from a well-meaning parent than it does a smear campaign from competing interests. While highly critical in some cases, even McKinsey agrees that blockchain is potentially revolutionary. Three guiding principles are cited:

  • Organizations must start with a problem.
  • There must be a clear business case and target ROI.
  • Companies must agree to a mandate and commit to a path to adoption.

The report states that industries are “downgrading expectations” regarding blockchain, but acknowledges that the technology has the potential to revolutionize processes in banking, healthcare, insurance, shipping, and more – but only if the above principles are observed. Companies are urged to “adapt their strategic playbooks, honestly review the advantages over more conventional solutions, and embrace a more hard-headed commercial approach.”

The consulting firm concludes an occasionally bleak report with a more hopeful outlook by saying:

If they can do all that, and be patient, blockchain may still emerge as Occam’s right answer.

This post credited to CCN. Image source: CCN

Kuwait Finance House has announced the launch of its instant cross-border remittance service using Ripple’s blockchain technology. According to a company tweet, the zero fess “Instant International Transfer” service is now available. Customers will be able to make remittance transactions in Saudi Riyal (SAR) to beneficiaries at Al Rajhi Bank.

The announcement marks major progress following an extensive trial period.

In October, Ripple’s global head of infrastructure innovation Dilip Rao indicated that the Chairman of Kuwait Finance House said that the company was working with Ripple to test a service that will go head-to-head with Swift, the standard for processing messages and instructions to settle global payments and financial transactions among various counterparties.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Dilip Rao@diliprao

Chairman of Kuwait Finance House @KFHGroup_Eng ‘we are working with @Ripple and tested a service that challenges incumbents like #Swift#GIES20187392:21 PM – Oct 30, 2018332 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

One of the largest Islamic banks in the world, Kuwait Finance House (KFH) was the Arab nation’s first bank to join RippleNet, an enterprise network for international remittance payments.

So far, KFH has not revealed whether it’s using xCurrent, which is Ripple’s enterprise software solution that allow banks to settle cross-border payments instantly with end-to-end tracking, or xRapid, which is Ripple’s on-demand liquidity offering that uses XRP, to lower costs while enabling real-time, cross-border payments.

KFH simply indicates that its plans are global in scope, and that it plans to expand the service beyond the Saudi Riyal.

KFH has started operating an instant cross-border remittance service using Ripple’s blockchain technology. The zero fees “Instant International Transfer” service is available now in Saudi Riyal SAR where customers can make remittance transactions to beneficiaries at Al Rajhi Bank

Kuwait Finance House@KFHGroup

This service will expand to encompass most of the world countries in different currencies. KFH customers can make instant and secure zero fees remittances through their accounts in http://kfh.com .2132:24 AM – Jan 7, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy78 people are talking about this

Ripple continues to make strides in the Middle East.

In December, the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) launched NBK Direct Remit, a new service for easy cross-border remittances that utilizes Ripple’s xCurrent payment solution.

The 24/7 service marked the first time a banking institution in Kuwait used xCurrent for cross-border transfers, enabling customers to send payments to Jordan.

This post credited to Daily HODL.

Image source: Daily HODL

A crypto startup that raised close to $80 million in a 2017’s ICO funding has come in the midst of a controversy.

Singapore-based crypto-wallet TenX is facing accusations of insider trading after its co-founder and now-former CEO Julian Hosp allegedly dumped $2.2 million worth of PAY tokens. An internal management scuffle reportedly led to Hosp resigning from all his positions in TenX. In what could have been an emotional response, Hosp allegedly exchanged all his PAY tokens for other assets and sent the entire balance to his Bittrex deposit address.

Effect of Hosp’s Actions

His actions brought a strong selling sentiment to the PAY/USD rate. The pair was already bearish due to a market-wide crypto crash. It didn’t correct even at a time when rest of the crypto space was rebounding from its lows. The PAY/USD rate dropped 46.5% in the last 15 days, and 20% over the previous seven days.

Source: CoinGecko

The TenX community expressed its outrage over the fiasco, criticizing the TenX team for not managing the project well. Many also extended their criticism to TenX’s operational capability, stating that the company didn’t launch their Visa-enabled crypto debit cards.

“They say they [released the card] in Japan but after reading around it seems like people in Japan never even actually got them so nope,” exclaimed CryptoGod12 on Reddit. “No fucking cards after [two] years of so-called “development” and over 30 million in ICO funds.”

The community also ran a history check on Hosp. It provided them information about his earlier involvements in an Austrian multilevel marketing scam Lyoness. Before he dumped his PAY holdings, Hosp was already receiving monthly compensation from the PAY token reserves.

TenX Responds

TenX attempted to calm the situation by publishing a blog post full of clarifications.

Toby Hoenisch, co-founder, and CEO of TenX assured that they had introduced stringent trading standards for employees and partners. However, they received no such information on trading from Hosp.

Hoenisch refused to provide any more information on the matter.

“We are unable to provide any comments on the transfer and alleged trading of PAY tokens potentially undertaken by current and former employees of TenX,” he wrote. “We note that the transfers and alleged trading took place on dates after the Announcement Date, and such alleged trades, would have been made on publicly available information.”

The unnerved community accused Hoenisch of deflecting from the accusation. Redditor GMGH stated:

They are missing or deflecting from the point that the evidence provided is concerned about an ex-employee allegedly dumping 2.2M tokens on the open secondary markets. There is only one question everyone wants [to b]e answered: Did Julian Hosp sell 2.2M tokens on Bittrex?

This post credited to NewsBTC

Image source: NewsBTC

Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, which suffered a $530 million hack in January of last year, is now a licensed entity.

Monex Group, the Japan-based online brokerage firm that acquired Coincheck for $33.5 million following the cyberattack, announced Friday that the exchange is now registered with the Kanto Financial Bureau, under the country’s Payment Service Act, effective immediately.

The license was approved by the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), on the basis of Coincheck’s improved risk management and governance systems with “concrete internal controls and customer protection in mind,” Monex said.

Following the massive hack of around 500 million NEM tokens in January 2018, the FSA had orderedCoincheck to strengthen its security systems and submit a business management improvement plan to the authority. At the time, the exchange was not registered with the regulator.

The breach also forced Coincheck to suspend its services for some months. Since then, the exchange has been phasing back in its operations. By November 2018, it had reinstated services for all listed cryptos on its platform.

Now with the license in place, Coincheck joins the growing list of regulated crypto exchanges in the country, including financial services giant SBI Holdings, which operates a registered platform called VCTRADE. U.S.-based exchange unicorn Coinbase has previously said it expects to become licensed in Japan in 2019.

All crypto exchanges in Japan came under anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) rules in April of 2017 when the country’s legislature passed the Payment Service Act and recognized bitcoin as a legal method of payment.

Over 160 firms are planning to apply for the crypto exchange license, the FSA said back in September, adding that it is looking to increase its staffing levels to speed up the review process.

This post credited to Coindesk. Tokyo image via Shutterstock

In an earlier report about the Bezos divorce, CCN wondered if Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie had used a prenuptial agreement when they were married in 1993. Perhaps unfortunately for Jeff, they did not, TMZ reports.

Was Jeff Bezos Cheating?

Reportedly, Jeff Bezos has been officially carrying on a relationship with married Lauren Sanchez for some time. Readers may remember Lauren Sanchez from “So You Think You Can Dance?” She was a judge and host on the show.

The timing of the hook up coincides with Bezos’ initial separation from his wife MacKenzie. Jeff and MacKenzie were friends with Lauren and her husband, talent agent Patrick Whitesell. Both Lauren and Jeff officially separated from their spouses around the same time. Bezos’ lawyer and others insist that Bezos did not start seeing Lauren Sanchez until she had separated from her husband.

Texts Reveal Long-Running Relationship

According to Page Six, Bezos and Sanchez were texting each other as early as April and May last year. Bezos wrote a number of lewd texts to Sanchez while she was still in a committed relationship to Patrick Whitesell and MacKenzie was still officially his wife:

I want to smell you, want to breathe you in. I want to hold you tight.… want to kiss your lips…. […] I am in love with you.

I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon,

While Bezos’ lawyer claims that Jeff and MacKenzie have “long separated,” the official announcement of divorce did not come until yesterday. Just last September they were spotted celebrating their 25th anniversary. About two months before the first alleged text was sent, Bezos told CNBC how to treat a wife.

MacKenzie Bezos: Richest Woman in the World?

Mackenzie Bezos. Image Twitter.

Jeff Bezos did not become a millionaire until after the Amazon IPO in 1997. At the time of his marriage he was a good earner but far from rich. In addition to his massive trove of more than 15% of all Amazon stock, worth more than $120 billion at present, he and MacKenzie own over 400,000 acres of land.

Many expect the Bezos’ to have a very complicated divorce proceeding. Protecting his financial interests might become a nightmare, and MacKenzie Bezos stands to become the richest woman in the world. Effectively she will be able to buy Oprah Winfrey’s assets in whole every day of the week if she pleases.

No matter how it shakes out, it’s unlikely that MacKenzie Bezos will be anything less than a new addition to the Forbes top 10 list. Studies show that men are more likely to thrive financially after a divorce than women. Bezos will have to pull several rabbits out of the metaphorical hat in order to recoup what MacKenzie will get by virtue of ending the marriage.

Divorce courts often award alimony payments to minority-earning spouses. MacKenzie has a career as a writer but obviously Jeff is the earner in the relationship.

How Will The Divorce Affect Amazon?

Amazon package. Image from Shutterstock.

For Amazon investors, the question of Jeff Bezos’ holdings and what MacKenzie will do with her share is of great importance. Will MacKenzie hold her stocks or dump them immediately? Since the majority of Bezos’ wealth is in the stocks, she will have to seek them. Or could the court force Bezos to liquidate a portion of them in order to make a cash payment to MacKenzie during the proceedings?

While some analysts predict that Amazon stock will double in the mid-term future, it might be hard for the company to absorb sell pressure of over 5% of its outstanding shares. An alternative scenario might force MacKenzie to structure her sells or sell them to the company directly. The split has been characterized as “very amicable” by Jeff Bezos but even amicable divorces can get ugly once lawyers are involved.

This post credited to CCN. Featured image from Wikimedia.