The world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange by volume has just launched a new exchange in Africa: Binance Uganda. The crypto trading platform signed up 40,000 new users in its first week.

The massive response and interest in Uganda highlights a key strength of cryptocurrency that lies outside of the US and its preoccupation with Bitcoin ETFs, institutional traders, hedge fund heavyweights and Wall Street money. Crypto’s “killer app” will lie in its ability to attract people in developing countries where they do not have easy access to banks, credit and financial services.

According to a Stanford report entitled “Banking the Unbanked? Evidence from Three Countries” roughly 77% of Uganda’s population of 42.86 million is unbanked – an estimated 33 million people.

Writes UX/UI designer Pierre Rognion in Hackernoon,

In 2010, around 2.5 billion of the world’s adults was not using formal banks or semiformal microfinance institutions to save or borrow money. Nearly 2.2 billion of these unserved adults live in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. In most cases, they are unbanked because banks cannot serve them for various reasons (example: remote areas). But a lot of these people have mobile phones and make transactions with it. Why wouldn’t they transact with bitcoin and other cryptoassets?”

Binance Uganda, which launched in October, is operating outside of the established financial services industry and without a traditional bank.

Says Binance CEO Changpang “CZ” Zhao,

“We have no office, we have no bank account, and we have users from 180 different countries.”

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@ForbesAsia

In our second panel, Zhao Changpeng, CEO of @binance explains how blockchain companies are changing the nature of business. “We have no office, we have no bank account, and we have users from 180 different countries,” he says.

Binance Uganda will offer 24/7 customer service support for fiat-to-crypto trading of Ugandan shilling (UGX) for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

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CEO CZ is also hoping that Ugandas will use TrustWallet, which partnered with Binance in July. TrustWallet is a standalone application for iOS and Android devices that allows users to manage cryptocurrency and interact with decentralized applications (DApps), including decentralized exchanges. The technology empowers people to be their own bank without any middlemen. It supports Tron as well as thousands of tokens built on Ethereum.

CZ Binance

@cz_binance

Let’s give them a @binance account or a @TrustWalletApp app.

Tommy Mustache@tommyp408

Jarau from Uganda here just told me more than 70% of the people from Uganda don’t have a bank account. Binance is making a huge impact to help these millions of Uganda people by giving them an alternative they never had. “Freedom of Money” 👏@cz_binance @rambo1stbld @binance https://twitter.com/JarauMoses/status/1058364833299656709 

This post credited to Daily HODL Image source: Daily HODL

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance has frozen accounts that received more than 93,000 ether from two wallets indirectly linked to the troubled Russian exchange WEX.

The accounts were frozen on October 25, Leah Li, a spokeswoman for Binance, told CoinDesk. The action was taken in response to pleas from WEX users who have been watching the ethereum blockchain, the known location of a public wallet belonging to the WEX exchange, uneasily in recent months while they have been unable to withdraw their funds off the exchange.

These users traced the flow of funds through the ethereum blockchain and concluded that the two wallets that sent the ether to Binance – in 25 transactions from August through October – were controlled by entities related to WEX. The traders have expressed concern that they won’t get their money back now that the funds have been moved to Binance.

They are worried because WEX, a successor to the defunct BTC-e exchange that inherited its infrastructure, has not allowed withdrawals for major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether since July. Given a lack of answers or clarity about the state of affairs at WEX, frustrated users began filing police reports with Russian authorities earlier this month.

Hundreds of users appear to be affected by WEX’s ongoing withdrawal issues, judging from the size of the Telegram chat groups devoted to discussing the situation; one has more than 1,000 members, another focused on filing police reports has more than 400.

And at least $18 million is now believed to be at risk, based on the market value of the ether that flowed into Binance. The total figure could be higher, since only ether has been spotted leaving WEX-linked wallets so far, and users have been unable to withdraw most other coins for months.

The situation underscores the risks crypto users have long faced when trusting exchanges with their money. WEX opened for business shortly after the U.S. government shut down BTC-e in July 2017, slapping it with a multi-million dollar fine. At launch, WEX founder Dmitrii Vasilev framed the new exchange as a re-launch of BTC-e and said he was working with the old platform’s administrator and would restore its customers’ balances.

For almost a year, WEX functioned normally and had the full trust of former BTC-e users, some of them told CoinDesk. But the situation has gone quickly south, perhaps best exemplified by the highly inflatedprices for many of the exchange’s trading pairs.

“Help us to return our money!” a trader named Maxim M. wrote in an Oct. 20 email to Binance and shared with CoinDesk. “If you don’t want to follow the path of BTC-e, which was closed down by the authorities following its use in the laundering of cryptocurrency stolen from Mt. Gox, you should suspend all the WEX’s wallets and accounts.”

Vasilev did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Binance’s Li said the Malta-based exchange was “not familiar with the specific situation at WEX,” but “we always investigate user claims thoroughly and we will suspend account access if any unusual activity is detected.” She added:

“We are encouraging users who may be impacted to file reports with local law enforcement and ask them to send us case numbers or official notices/letters of investigation. So far, we haven’t been provided with any notices yet.”

Li later clarified that the freeze is only temporary, saying, “we’re only able to freeze accounts for a short time; some sort of letter from law enforcement is required for a longer-term freeze.”

Following the money

A CoinDesk review of public ethereum data found that the trail from the two wallets that sent ETH to Binance ultimately leads back to an address that was controlled by BTC-e.

Further, the analysis shows that the BTC-e-tied address is linked, by way of a divergent path of transactions, to the one wallet clearly belonging to WEX.

The BTC-e address is identified as such on Etherscan, a popular ethereum block explorer. Often, exchanges ask Etherscan to attach their brand name to their wallets, and if they can prove they are the real owners, the name gets assigned. Binance’s address is similarly labeled, but none of the more than 10 others are in the web of transactions between it and BTC-e.

The series of transactions began on July 29, 2017, when 485,705 ETH was transferred from the BTC-e address in one batch to another address that users believe to be WEX’s first wallet.

Subsequently, that address sent 480,000 ETH in 32 large, round-number transactions from September 2017 through January 2018 to a single address.

CoinDesk has confirmed that this wallet, pictured in the image below, belonged to WEX, since six users provided screenshots of their WEX withdrawal transactions – all of which involved the address, 0xb3AAAae47070264f3595c5032eE94b620A583a39.

But this WEX wallet was not the only recipient of ether from BTC-e. Another 184,772 ETH was transferred to the address 0x95cDdecd01856aA896426bd1ee021D87F3A5c199, and from there, smaller portions later traveled through several different addresses.

Eventually, two addresses – each connected to the BTC-e wallet through a different chain of six addresses – sent significant amounts of ETH to the address identified on Etherscan as belonging to Binance.

The first of these wallets sent 78,581 ETH to Binance in about two dozen transactions between August and October. The other wallet sent 14,794 ETH to the exchange in three transactions on October 15, October 18 and October 22.

Pleas for help

Maxim, the trader, said Binance’s initial response to his alert was discouraging.

“They responded that they can’t do anything so far but would watch those wallets carefully,” he said.

The text of Binance’s response, which Maxim sent to CoinDesk, reads: “Really thanks for your information, we are willing to cooperate with you. But at present it is hard for us to check all the account from WEX and take action. Anyway, we will keep an eye on this issue, if any update please feel free to contact us.”

While Binance spokesperson Li said the accounts were frozen on the 25th, this information was apparently not shared with frustrated WEX users until after CEO Zhao Changpeng (CZ) was asked about the issue on Twitter.

On Monday night, a Twitter user going by the name John James tweeted: “WEX cold wallets are moving funds through @binance. Meaning Binance is potentially help launder millions of dollars worth of stolens funds from Wex users. We have proof too. @cz_binance.”

CZ responded quickly: “The identified accounts are frozen, please report to law enforcement and have a case number. We will work with LE. This is part of centralization we hate too, dealing with other exchange’s mess (we don’t even know the details). But we will do what we can.”

This post credited to coindesk  Image source: Google 

According to Al Kelly, the CEO of Visa, the company could support crypto in the future if the global market moves in the direction of embracing consensus currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

In the short to mid-term, Kelly told Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money, that cryptocurrencies as an asset class is not a threat to reserve currencies that serve as the basis of Visa’s products. But, he stated that as the adoption of cryptocurrencies improve in the years to come, Visa will facilitate the demand for the asset class.

“I think there has to be some market that it becomes somewhat like a fiat currency in order for us to be comfortable. If it goes in that direction, we will move in that direction. We want to be in the middle, Jim, of every payment flow in the world regardless of how it happens or what the currency is behind it. So if we have to go there, we will go there. But right now, it’s more of a commodity than a payment vehicle.”

In the Middle

Visa is the most influential credit card service company in the finance sector and is amongst the most profitable businesses in the market alongside Mastercard.

In the long-term, Kelly emphasized that Visa will eventually serve as a middleman to attract crypto users to send and receive digital assets with Visa on its platforms, by providing fees to the company.

However, by the time Visa would feel comfortable in integrating cryptocurrencies, which as the CEO described it as when the asset class is established utilized by the mainstream, cryptocurrencies would not require middlemen to process payments.

With non-custodial wallets and open-source platforms, users of cryptocurrencies can efficiently and securely transfer digital assets without paying additional fees on top of the trasnaction fee provided to the miners of the ecosystem.

Currently, due to the lack of merchant adoption, it is difficult for crypto users to compensate merchants to purchase simple products like coffee and food. A financial institution at the size of Visa could single-handedly increase the adoption of crypto amongst merchants in a large capacity.

But, the intent of Visa to target the cryptocurrency sector is to provide middleman services several years from now when cryptocurrencies are already accepted by merchants and being utilized as an alternative currency to reserve currencies like the US dollar.

Fidelity’s Big Bet

The time to support and experiment with cryptocurrencies is now, when it is experiencing exponential growth and is still at an early phase.

Years down the line, the cryptocurrency sector could heavily rely on decentralized systems and services, which even platforms within the market including Binance expect, as seen in the development of the Binance decentralized exchange.

Already, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup have started to serve investors in the cryptocurrency market by seeing sufficient demand for the new asset class, while Visa, Morgan Stanley, and several other financial institutions remain cautious in entering the cryptocurrency market.

This post credited to ccn Image from Youtube/Boston College Carroll School of Management.

As the leading exchange Binance this week showed the power of delisting a coin, another major player, Coinbase just demonstrated the opposite effect.

After Coinbase started to accept deposits of the 0x (ZRX) token on its Coinbase Pro platform yesterday, the token shot up nearly 35% on strong volume, before it started to sell off again. ZRX is up by more than 15% in the last 24 hours (UTC 06:14 AM) and is the only non-stablecoin in green among top 50 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.

0x Surges on Coinbase Pro Listing, More Coins to Follow 102

Coinbase Pro is the crypto exchange aimed at active and professional traders formerly known as GDAX. In a blog post, the company said it will initially open up three markets for ZRX trading, namely ZRX/USD, ZRX/EUR, and ZRX/BTC.

In its statement, published by Coinbase Pro general manager David Farmer, the popular exchange reiterated previous reports that it intends to continue listing more assets that “meet our standards” in the future.

The statement marks a turnaround for Coinbase, which in the past has been hesitant to list new digital assets on its platform, and for a long time sticking with only Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin as alternatives for their users to invest in.

In line with earlier announcements from Coinbase, the new asset will not be available in all jurisdictions right away. The company previously said that it is changing its listing process, and will now add new digital assets on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction manner in an effort to speed up its addition of new assets.

However, it appears that the new asset will be available in most jurisdictions this time, with only New York state identified as the exception. Back in September, the state of New York was called “hostile to crypto” by Kraken Exchange CEO Jesse Powell after a heated exchange with New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood. According to Powell, his exchange got “the hell out of New York three years ago” in order to avoid difficulties with regulators in the state.

This post credited to cryptonews  Image source: Cryptonews

Binance announced that as of today the company will make all listing fees transparent. In addition, 100% of fees will be donated to charity.

The move is likely to generate a fair amount of attention for the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume. Previously, listing fees on Binance – the cost of listing a cryptocurrency in their exchange – have varied based on a number of factors such as the type of token and expected daily volume.

The move is not without some controversy. Binance was rumored to charge astronomical figures for tokens to be listed on the exchange. Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, refuted these rumors as baseless.

Zhao told CCN:

“There were so much incorrect data, rumors and FUD about listing fees. We care about our community and want to address this once and for all.”

When asked if Binance’s move towards greater transparency was driven by the earlier controversy, Zhao answered in the affirmative. “Yes, partially. We never charged 400 BTC for any project. That was a purely made up number,” he said.

Now, cryptocurrency projects will be able to decide what kind of fee they want to pay. In essence, this fee will be a donation to charity through Binance. The exchange will then disclose the fee to the public via their charity initiative, the Blockchain Charity Foundation.

“This will be disclosed in a subsequent Binance Charity Foundation press release. We are discussing with a few large donors at the moment. We don’t want to release a partial list just yet,” Zhao said.

Binance Zhao Changpeng Sequoia
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao | Source: Youtube/Piergiorgio Borgogno

Binance will not dictate how much projects have to charge, and there won’t be any minimum donation fee when listing a cryptocurrency. They also want to avoid giving the impression that larger donations will gain favor for projects, with Zhao saying in a press release, “A large donation does not guarantee or in any way influence the outcome of our listing review process”.

When asked if other players are expected to follow suit in providing transparency, Zhao was optimistic.

He said:

“I certainly hope so. They copied us on many other things, this will be a good thing to copy. There is no competition in charity.”

Binance recently launched Blockchain Charity Foundation together with the UN, led by UN Ambassador of Goodwill, Helen Hai.

The goal of the project is to help the UN tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals funding gap. Currently, the UN is struggling to raise the $2.5 trillion needed to help developing countries reach their investment goals. The BCF was set up to explore the potential of blockchain technology to help with this.

One of the next important steps in this process is the meeting of Binance and the BCF, at the Blockchains for Sustainable Development forum on October 24th in Geneva. The forum aims to unite various blockchain thought leaders with philanthropists and heads of state, with the goal of discussing how blockchain can be used in future for public good.

This post credited to ccn Image from Shutterstock.

The regulatory clampdown on cryptocurrency exchanges in China has been noted as a key factor in the sensational growth of Binance in 2018.

Launched in the middle of 2017, the rate of growth that Binance has experienced, both in terms of trading volume and capitalization has attracted a lot of attention within the cryptocurrency environment. In just a few months, the exchange grew from just a newcomer to one of the leading crypto exchanges in the world.

Even though the company started in 2017, its founder & CEO Changpeng Zhao has always been a major player within the crypto ecosystem and other related industries. Zhao founded Fusion Systems in 2005 in Shanghai, a company that specialized in building high-frequency systems for brokers. Down the road in 2013, he became the third member of the Blockchain.info cryptocurrency wallet team. Zhao also had a brief stint at OKCoin, where he worked as a CTO.

Despite his experience and expertise, Zhao notes that the force behind Binance comes from innovation that was born out of a supposedly adverse circumstance, speaking to the South China Morning Post. The ban in China motivated Zhao and the entire Binance team to expand everywhere else, hence the subsequent growth that has established the company as a leader in the industry.

In September 2017, China shut down the activities of all domestic crypto exchanges. This move forced Binance to move its headquarters and servers to Tokyo. This kept the establishment outside the regions where the Chinese regulations could affect its activities.

Binance then embarked on its systematic expansion exercise, which saw the company encroach into other markets, including Singapore and Taiwan.

Zhao elaborates that while Chinese operators of cryptocurrency exchanges scrambled to keep up with new regulations on the mainland, Binance found the perfect opportunity to capture new regions and establish itself. This is a move that has proven to be rewarding, based on visible evidence.

Binance claims to have over 10 million users across the globe who engage in trading digital tokens. From transaction fees alone, the company claims to have generated a profit of $350 million between January and June 2018.

The expansion philosophy of Binance necessitates the nomadic lifestyle of Zhao, who is known by his constant travels across different parts of the world. During the past month alone, Zhao said he has visited eight countries which includes Switzerland and South Korea to hire new staff, attend industry events and forge deals. He has not traveled back to mainland China since the cryptocurrency crackdown a year ago, he said.

This post credited to ccn Featured image from Shutterstock.

Australian cryptocurrency payments startup Travelbybit has seen a cash injection of $2.5 million from a high-profile investor in Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Crypto unicorn Binance is investing AUD $3.48 million (approx. USD$2.5 million) in TravelbyBit to further expansion of the latter’s network of cryptocurrency payment terminals following a successful implementation in Brisbane earlier this year, Business Insider Australia reported on Wednesday.

The two companies will jointly collaborate in introducing a point-of-sale (POS) system – already developed by TravelbyBit – into “major airports around the world,” the report added. The objective is to propel cryptocurrency adoption among travelers who commonly see friction in currency conversion and other markup fees.

Binance chief executive Changpeng Zhao said:

“Let’s start with airports and go from there…Real, on-the-ground, just-when-you-need-it use case is the key to further crypto adoption. In this light, there is no better fit than being able to use your crypto when travelling, just after you land in a foreign country, where you may not have the local currency.”

Queensland-based TravelbyBit has quickly become one of Australia’s most-relevant startups in the cryptocurrency industry for its adoption-forward focus in developing software and point-of-sale (POS) retail terminals that enable crypto payments.

Earlier this year, Brisbane international airport, Australia’s third-busiest airport, became one of the first major airline hubs in the world to accept cryptocurrencies at retail stores in both its terminals.

In essence, travelers are able to use a number of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash and litecoin, among others. Predictably, Binance’s own custom ERC20 token, Binance Coin, will also be supported by retail merchants using TravelbyBit’s machines.

TravelbyBit CEO Caleb Yeoh added:

“Imagine traveling with multiple stopovers and only needing a single currency. We’re working with the most innovative airports and retailers who want to offer their consumers non-traditional payment options and a chance to experience cutting-edge technology.”

Beyond airports, TravelbyBit has also boosted the profile of Australian beach town Agnes Water, which calls itself ‘Australia’s first digital currency town’. Nearly three dozen local businesses including tour operators, restaurants and accommodation providers – even a local pub – in the town of 2,000 residents are accepting cryptocurrencies for payment through TravelbyBit’s POS system.

Such initiatives have seen the Aussie crypto startup earn recognition and investment from the Queensland government, receiving allocated funds from an AUD$8.3 million grant.

Describing the startup as a “company set to drive more tourists to Central Queensland by selling travel experiences online using cryptocurrency,” Queensland Innovation Minister Kate Jones said in August:

“Tourism is one of Queensland’s most important industries. TravelbyBit has devised a clever way to make it easier for visitors to our state to pay for their purchases with a growing number of local businesses accepting cryptocurrency payments.”

This post credited to ccn Featured image from Shutterstock.

Binance is set to unveil a fiat currency exchange that will be based in Singapore. This was revealed by CEO Changpeng Zhao over the weekend while speaking at the Cumberland Summit, a blockchain event in Singapore. Zhao further revealed that the new exchange is currently under an invitation-only beta testing phase.

After making the announcement during his speech on September 15, Zhao also posted it on his twitter account where he also revealed that it will begin beta testing on September 18, 2018.

CZ Binance

@cz_binance

I just slipped that we will begin Singapore fiat exchange live money closed beta testing on Sept 18th, in 3 days. Invitation only first. Exciting!

Justin Chow@Justinchow08

Day 2: @JamesRadecki32 starting off breakout #2 with @tylerwinklevoss and @cz_binance on crypto exchanges. @GeminiDotCom @tylerwinklevoss @ApoloOhno @arrington @TusharJain_ @MatthewRoszak @missbitcoin_mai #cumberlandsummit #crypto #bitcoin

View image on Twitter

Fiat Exchanges and Singapore

Thus far, very few details have been provided about the operational framework of the new fiat exchange, but there is speculation that it will likely offer Singapore dollar trading pairs. Fiat to fiat exchanges are still a relative novelty in the crypto world, and they remain largely untested in the “wild”. From a Binance point of view, opening a fiat exchange improves its users’ experience by enabling them to seamlessly convert across several fiat currencies and then make transactions directly from the exchange account using the new currency. Even more significantly, fiat to fiat exchanges generally offer users interbank exchange rates as against retail exchange rates, which means that users get more for their money.

Binance’s choice of Singapore for this experiment is not without precedent, as over the past few years Singapore has become one of the global crypto industry’s major hubs alongside South Korea, Hong Kong, Malta and the USA. The island state has moved toward the epicentre of global crypto innovation in part because of its relatively relaxed regulatory environment and its booming economy, often described as one of the “Asian Tigers”.

Singaporean authorities do not regulate crypto exchanges because crypto is not recognised as legal tender in the country, but exchanges are nonetheless required to abide by AML and CFT regulations.

Binance Continues Expanding

Often described as the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume, Binance has enjoyed a red letter year despite prevailing crypto market conditions. Following a blanket ban on crypto trading in China, the company has embarked on an aggressive global expansion drive, opening up in Malta, Jersey, South Korea, Uganda and Liechtenstein.

The company recently outlined its strategy for expanding across Africa, which some see as the crypto world’s last frontier with potential for unparalleled adoption due to its relatively underdeveloped financial systems. With a daily trading volume that regularly approaches $1 billion, the exchange boasts of market-leading liquidity for a large number of trading pairs.


This post credited to ccn Featured image from Shutterstock.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has recruited an executive with wide experience in initial public offerings (IPOs) as its chief financial officer.

Wei Zhou, who is currently the vice chairman of gay dating platform Grindr, boasts of executive experience running into more than one-and-a-half decades. He began his career at the Hong Kong subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, where he focused on investment banking.

A graduate of Harvard University,where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics and East Asian studies, Zhou has particular expertise in growing and scaling business operations in the United States and China. Additionally, Zhou has served as the chief financial officer of both Charm Communications, a Chinese TV advertising firm, and Zhaopin.com, China’s second-biggest online recruitment services platform, managing to lead these firms into successful listings on NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), respectively.

Initial Public Offering

This has led to speculation that, with the hire, Binance is preparing for an IPO. However, the cryptocurrency exchange’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, has denied this while not dismissing the fact that the relatively young cryptocurrency sector could benefit from the fundraising model.

CZ Binance

@cz_binance

have no plans for IPO, but that doesn’t make those experiences less valuable in our new industry. On the contrary, those are very much needed. We are always looking for top talent, from traditional finance, internet … any industry and anywhere in the world!

SludgeFeed@SludgeFeed

#Binance Hires Wall Street Veteran as New CFO… via @craig_a_russo $BNB https://sludgefeed.com/binance-hires-wall-street-veteran-as-new-cfo/ 

The hiring of an ex-Goldman Sachs employee is not the first time in the recent past that a cryptocurrency firm has recruited an executive with experience from the traditional finance sector. As CCN reported earlier this month, for instance, Japanese crypto startup FXcoin announced that they had recruited a former foreign exchange dealer at Deutsche Bank, Yasuo Matsuda, as the firm’s senior strategist. Interestingly, the founder of the Japanese crypto startup, Tomoo Oshi, also has a background in traditional finance, having worked as the head of currency sales at the same German banking giant from which he poached his latest hire.

Regulatory Compliance

Towards the end of last month, U.S. cryptocurrency firm Coinbase announced that it had hired Jeff Horowitz, an alumnus of Bank of New York Mellon, to lead the company’s global compliance efforts. Prior to the new position, Horowitz held the position of global head of compliance and managing director of Pershing, a subsidiary of the firm. Horowitz had also worked at other traditional banking giants such as Salomon Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Citigroup.

In making the appointment, Coinbase argued that with the growth of the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector more attention needed to be paid to the compliance efforts that were increasingly becoming complex across the globe.

“Hiring Jeff is recognition on our part that navigating compliance complexities on a global scale requires a concerted, cross-functional effort, guided by leaders with experience that spans policy, financial services, and corporate governance,” wrote the president and COO of Coinbase Asiff Hirji, as CCN reported at the time.

This post is credited to ccn  Image from Shutterstock