When the world first learned that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were bitcoin bulls, the cryptocurrency that started it all was having a horrible day, having collapsed by 60% from what was then an all-time high of $266 down to a measly $120, according to a 2013 New York Timesreport. The Winklevoss brothers then valued their holdings at around $11 million.
Today, bitcoin’s forecast is hardly any better; it has lost 80% of its total value, down from its all-time-high of $19,000 to about $3,500 today. But it’s that relative price increase of 2,800%—and a number of other milestones—that the brothers think shows they’re on the right path.
So, instead of holing up their forces for a brighter day, Tyler and Cameron now employ more people than ever and just moved to some fancy new Park Avenue offices. Instead of giving up after multiple failed attempts to get a bitcoin ETF license from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the brothers have changed tack and are launching their first mobile application and a new basket of cryptocurrencies.
While the crypto industry is in many ways in retreat, the Winklevoss brothers are digging in.
“We can weather this downturn,” said Gemini president, Cameron Winklevoss.
The brothers say the mobile app is part of an expanded focus that has been in the works for months. In addition to letting existing customers set alerts and make purchases in any of Gemini’s five cryptocurrencies, the mobile app, which is available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play, lets new users initiate know-your-customer proceedings, including facial recognition and other biometric proofs using the mobile device camera.
To give an idea of exactly how rough the cryptocurrency market is that the brothers are launching these products into, the overall market cap has declined from its peak of $817 billion in January 2018 to $110 billion today. Collectively, the market caps of all five of the cryptocurrencies Gemini now trades have declined about 78% from about $356 billion in December 2018 to $75 billion today.
Nevertheless, the brothers remain undaunted, focusing steadfastly on their belief that the underlying blockchain technology will lay the foundation for a new, less-centralized financial infrastructure.
“For many years when we were building Gemini, price wasn’t a thing. Bitcoin was a $200 coin,” said Cameron. “Then, last year is actually an anomaly, and almost, you could argue, a distraction.” While a representative of Gemini declined to share how much cryptocurrency the brothers currently owned, or even if they owned any, in 2016 they confirmed they had a “material” stake in ether, according to a CoinDesk report.
The launch of the Gemini mobile app may seem like a long-overdue achievement, given that U.S. competitors like Coinbase and Kraken launched their mobile apps in October 2013 and September 2014, respectively. But Gemini has been focused largely on building out a financial infrastructure targeting institutions first, trusting a more organic approach in order to attract retail investors.
To give some perspective, while Coinbase received its banking charter only in October 2018 and Kraken still operates without a charter, which limits the kinds of business it can legally conduct, Gemini won its charter from the NYDFS all the way back in October 2015. Following multiple failed attempts to obtain another license from the SEC to offer a bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), the launch of a mobile app signals an expanded interest in specifically targeting retail investors.
“You’re going to see that the product story and the individual customer narrative is going to be a bigger part of 2019,” said Tyler Winklevoss, Gemini’s chief executive officer, who joined his brother, speaking with Forbes at the company’s new three-floor offices. Gemini declined to share customer numbers, but to give an idea of growth, the firm has doubled in size over the past year, according to a representative, and employs almost 200 people at the new 50,000-square-foot location.
While such a hiring trajectory flies in the face of developments at some crypto firms like ethereum incubator ConsenSys, which has had difficulty over the downturn and plans to lay off as much as 13% of its staff, it aligns with a Glassdoor report that showed a 300% increase in crypto jobs year over year. The blockchain-focused Web3 Foundation, tells Forbes it doubled its staff this quarter exclusively with crypto-related hires and will continue to make key hires into next year.
“While some capital might be leaving the market,” Cameron acknowledged, “the human capital is really impressive, and it’s long-term capital. People don’t make decisions to enter crypto on a month-to-month or price-to-price basis.”
This post credited to Forbes. Image source: Forbes
On Jan. 17, Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, one of the largest players on the market, relaunched as a fully licensed platform in Japan after merging with the BitTrade exchange.
Branching out to Japan, where compliance is valued and many regulatory measures are imposed for crypto players by domestic regulators, is a complex process. Here’s how Huobi entered the market, and which firms might soon follow suit.
Specifics of the Japanese market and the FSA’s role in it
Japan is one of the world’s largest markets for cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin (BTC) and altcoinscan be used as a legally accepted means of payment there, although they are not considered “legal tender.” Being closely overseen by the national financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), the Japanese crypto market is also one of the most compliant and regulation-oriented.
Since the amendment of Japan’s Payment Services Act in April 2017, all crypto exchanges in the country are required to register with the FSA. Counting Huobi’s recent merger with BitTrade, the pool of exchanges cleared to serve the Japanese market currently consists of 17 platforms: Money Partners, Liquid (previously known as Quoine), Bitflyer, BitBank, SBI Virtual Currencies, GMO Coin, Btcbox, Bitpoint, Fisco Virtual Currency, Zaif, Tokyo Bitcoin Exchange, Bit Arg Exchange Tokyo, FTT Corporation, Xtheta Corporation, Huobi and Coincheck.
The FSA is known to have a tight grip on local exchanges, firmly reacting to security breaches after a number of high-profile local crypto exchange incidents, namely last year’s bizzare $532 million Coincheck hack and the infamous collapse of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox. The FSA also conducts on-site inspections of exchanges that have their registration pending and occasionally asks exchanges to submit their risk management system reports in the wake of security breaches.
For instance, in March 2018, following the Coincheck hack, the watchdog sent“punishment notices” to as many as seven crypto exchanges and temporarily froze the activities of two more after a round of inspections. Business improvement orders were sent for a lack of “the proper and required internal control systems,” with Coincheck being specifically cited as missing a framework for preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Shortly after the regulator’s move, two local exchanges — Mr. Exchange and Tokyo GateWay — decided to close up shop.
As a result of the FSA’s thorough supervision, some players have decided to quit the Japanese market. Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges that had opened an office in the country, turned to Malta — the famously crypto-friendly country — after the regulator had issued a warning in March 2018. Similarly, around the same time, crypto exchange Kraken also decided to end its services in Japan, although citing the rising costs of doing business there as the primary reason for relocation. Japanese social messaging app Line has also decided to exclude the domestic market prior to the launch of its cryptocurrency exchange, citing local regulatory difficulties.
In May of last year, the FSA rolled out further regulatory stipulations for domestic crypto exchanges, intensifying its efforts to prevent another major hack. Exchanges were required to monitor customer accounts multiple times per day for suspicious fluctuations and must comply with stricter Anti-Money Laundering (AML) measures, which specifically demand Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, such as ID verification. There have also been reports regarding the FSA potentially prohibiting the trading of anonymity-oriented altcoins — such as Dash (DASH) and Monero (XMR) — in the future.
In July, the agency underwent a major redo aimed at improving its presence in fintech-related fields, including cryptocurrencies. Thus, the Strategy Development and Management Bureau replaced the Inspection Bureau to develop a financial strategy policy and handle issues addressing the digital currencies market, fintech and money laundering.
The Policy and Markets Bureau, in turn, succeeded the Planning and Coordination Bureau, and was tasked with developing a legal framework that addresses the rapid growth of the fintech sector.
In August 2018, Toshihide Endo, the commissioner of the FSA, said that his agency wants the cryptocurrency industry to “grow under appropriate regulation.” The official added:
“We have no intention to curb [the crypto industry] excessively. We would like to see it grow under appropriate regulation.”
In response to regulatory pressures, a self-regulatory body named the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) has emerged, comprised of the local exchanges. In October 2018, Japan’s financial regulator formally grantedself-regulatory status to the JVCEA to oversee the crypto sector. Therefore, the JVCEA might have a better say when it comes to the industry standards in the future. Specifically, the self-regulatory outfit is now expected to develop AML policies for crypto exchanges.
Huobi’s way of getting the FSA clearance — and similar attempts from the past
Founded in China in 2013, Huobi Group has been headquartered in Singaporesince Beijing’s crackdown on domestic crypto-fiat exchanges in September 2017. As part of its ongoing overseas expansion efforts, the platform has recently rebranded its United States-based strategic partner trading platform HBUS to the better recognized the Huobi name. Now, the platform — currently the world’s sixth largest by daily traded volume — has expanded to the Japanese market. Huobi’s arrival follows the news about Coincheck receiving full permission from the FSA to continue operating in the country after the above mentioned security breach.
Huobi’s press release emphasizes its security precaution, outlining that Huobi Japan “features specialized distributed architecture, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack countermeasures system, and A+ ranked SSL certification (the highest available).”
According to the official announcement, Huobi Japan supports the trading of Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP) and Monacoin (MONA).
Importantly, Huobi didn’t receive the FSA license from scratch, going through a different route instead. Although Japan’s Payment Services Act allows foreign operators to register in the country as “virtual currency exchange service providers,” Huobi has relaunched as a fully licensed platform in Japan after acquiring a majority stake in BitTrade last September. At the time, BitTrade was one of only 16 crypto exchanges in the country to have secured a license from the FSA.
However, Huobi’s market expansion through acquisition of a pre-approved FSA platform is not an entirely new move: In June 2018, BitTrade became Japan’s first FSA-licensed platform to be entirely purchased by an international investor, the Singaporean multi-millionaire and entrepreneur Eric Cheng. The investor also acquired BitTrade’s affiliate company at the time, FX Trade Financial Co., Ltd — one of Japan’s leading forex trading platforms. Following the Huobi deal, FX Trade Financial kept 25 percent of BitTrade’s shares.
More exchanges to receive the FSA’s blessing: Coinbase, Yahoo and others
Other players are only preparing to enter the market, still waiting to get clearance from the FSA. As Cointelegraph Japan reported on Jan. 12, seven applications will be either approved or rejected by the FSA within six months. The article also revealed the FSA’s complex and lengthy routine of reviewing crypto exchanges that have applied for a license.
Thus, the FSA conducts a procedure that takes almost six months from the time of application — which includes the submission of answers to over 400 questions — to final decision.
After receiving the answers, the FSA communicates with the company to verify its business plan, governance, cybersecurity and management system, along with its AML and counter-terrorist financing measures. In that phase of the review — which reportedly takes about four months — the agency’s officers personally double-check the company’s practices in person. After that, the company officially submits their application to the FSA. The agency then finally reviews the documents and decides whether or not to grant the license.
The financial regulator stated that there are 21 companies taking part in the first part of the review as of January, while seven are already in the decision phase. Therefore, up to seven companies could be granted a new license by the summer. In total, the FSA has reportedly received around 190 cryptocurrency exchange license applications.
Perhaps the most major of the pending candidates is San Francisco-based Coinbase, which revealed its plans to enter the Japanese crypto market in June 2018. Being a compliance-oriented company, Coinbase has made positive remarks about Japan’s crypto regulatory climate in the past, saying that the FSA’s intense focus on security is “good for us.” Given that the U.S. exchange originally planned to establish its operation in Japan “within the year,” the FSA is likely to approve or decline its application at some point in the next few months.
Moreover, the Japanese arm of the internet giant Yahoo will reportedly open their own crypto exchange “in April 2019 or later,” through buying 40 percent of BitARG Exchange Tokyo. Other potential players to open a crypto exchange in Japan include Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the largest domestic bank. In January 2018, South Korean newspaper KBS reported the financial group’s plans — however, there has been no update since.
Also, Money Forward, the company behind a popular financial management application that has over 7 million users in Japan, recently shared details regarding the upcoming launch of its cryptocurrency exchange. Thus, Money Forward is reportedly planning to open their yet-to-be-named platform between January and March 2019, although it depends on how the registration with the FSA will go.
This post credited to Cointelegraph. Image source: Cointelegraph
A recently observed form of malware uses a concerning new trick to avoid detection and mine cryptocurrency on cloud servers.
Two researchers, Xingyu Jin and Claud Xiao, from cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks, published a report on Thursday, saying that a nasty bit of software from bad actors dubbed the Rocke group is targeting public cloud infrastructure. Once downloaded, it takes administrative control to first uninstall cloud security products and then inject code that mines the monero cryptocurrency.
The researchers found that the Rocke malware injected code to uninstall five different cloud security products from infected Linux servers – including offerings from top Chinese cloud providers, Alibaba and Tencent. Adding insult to injury, the malware follows the uninstall steps set out in the products’ user manuals.
To do its malicious work, the Rocke group exploits vulnerabilities in Apache Struts 2, Oracle WebLogic, and Adobe ColdFusion applications, and then downloads a shell script named “a7.” This knocks our rival crypto miners and conceals signs of its presence, as well as disabling the security programs.
The researchers add:
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first malware family that developed the unique capability to target and remove cloud security products.”
The Rocke group malware was first discovered by IT giant Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group back in August. At the time Talos researcher David Liebenberg said that Rocke will “continue to leverage Git repositories to download and execute illicit mining onto victim machines.”
Back in November, research from Israel-based cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies showed that a monero mining malware, dubbed KingMiner, is evolving through time to avoid detection.
Monero remains by far the most popular cryptocurrency among hackers. Last week, a study by college researchers showed that hackers have mined at least 4.32 percent of the total monero in circulation.
A study from McAfee, published in December, showed that instances of crypto-mining malware grew by over 4,000 percent last year.
This post credited to Coindesk. Image source: Security Boulevard
Chip manufacturing giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) reported a sizeable drop in its crypto mining-related revenue in 2018. The news was revealed in the company’s Q4 2018 financial results, published Jan. 17, together with an earnings call transcript.
TSMC has not disclosed specific data for its crypto mining business — including it instead within its high-performance computing (HPC) segment. In the earnings call transcript, TSMC CEO & Vice Chairman C.C. Wei revealed that whereas HPC, excluding crypto, had grown slightly:
“[C]ryptocurrency is a big drop from 2018 to 2019. So if we put the cryptocurrency together in the HPC, it’s a big drop. It’s almost a double-digit.”
Pressed to give more exact data, Wei only noted that cryptocurrency had contributed a lot to the manufacturer’s chip sales last year, yet emphasized the firm “cannot specify too much of the segment, particularly it belongs to one of the big customers.”
As reported, TSMC is known as a major supplier of Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips to Chinese crypto mining behemoth Bitmain, which has been under increasing pressure during the persistent cryptocurrency bear market slump.
While a Bernstein analysis had attributed 2 to 3 percent of TSMC’s total revenue to cryptocurrency-related sales in February last year, Wei looked ahead to 2019 with considerably more circumspection:
“Okay. This year, we don’t forecast — we become conservative in forecasting this volatile business. So the cryptocurrency mining this year is much, much less than last year. And to what percentage, I don’t think it’s — I can release it right now.”
For Q4 2018 on a consolidated basis across its business, TSMC posted a revenue of $9.4 billion in Q4 2018 — a 10.7 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 2 percent rise year-over-year, according to the report. Lora Ho, chief financial officer and senior vice president of finance, stated that Q1 2019 revenue is forecast to be $7.3-$7.4 billion — representing a 22 percent sequential decline.
As reported just this week, the bearish market continues to impact mining industry participants. Major United States-based crypto mining and blockchainfirm Giga Watt has just announced it is closing access and power to its facilities and stopping day-to-day operations, after having filed for bankruptcy in November last year.
Bitmain continues to wind back its multinational operations, this month reportedly suspending its mining in the U.S. state of Texas, after having closed its development center in Israel and laying off local employees at the end of last year.
This post credited to Cointelegraph. Image source: Cointelegraph
Sterling Witzke, partner at the Winklevoss twins’ family office Winklevoss Capital, says she doesn’t think 2019 will be the watershed year for institutional investors to get into crypto. Witzke backed her claim by arguing that expectations are running ahead of facts on the ground.
Witzke made her remarks during an interview with Cointelegraph at the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Jan. 17. She argued that the upshot of the 2017 crypto market bull run — when Bitcoin soared to all-time highs of $20,000 a coin — has been a skewed perception of what it takes for traditional capital to embrace innovation:
“Because the end of 2017 was so crazy, people tend to think the space moves at lightning speed [..] At the level of underlying [tech] development it [often] does […] but I think it takes a while for institutions to get comfortable. There needs to be better custody, healthy debt and credit markets to get [them] really excited. So I don’t think 2019 will necessarily be the year.”
Witzke added that while she’s seen many investors thoughtfully dip their toes into crypto, she hasn’t really seen any take the plunge. Two factors she isolated as important were a lack of regulatory clarity — especially in the United States — and concerns over security.
As reported, the twins’ Geminicrypto exchange has recently launched an ad campaign which places a strong accent on solid regulation and compliance — encapsulated in slogans such as “crypto needs rules” and “crypto without chaos.” In light of some community opinions that this agenda runs counter to the original peer-to-peer ethos of crypto innovation, Witzke argued consumers in crypto deserve the same protections as traditional investors.
“The distinction comes,” she said, “between the protocol layer and the companies and applications that are built on top of it. At the protocol level, it’s absolutely correct you don’t need more regulations or rules, because those are already built in.”
A report issued last fall from “Big Four” auditor KPMGproposed that institutional investors are what is needed for the crypto industry to realize its potential as a full-fledged asset class — an opinion that is shared by many prominent voices within the crypto industry itself. Others have voiced concerns over the potentially adverse or — for some — unwanted impact of the increasing financialization of the sector.
In interviews tied to their recent ad campaign, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss steered the conversation beyond regulatory matters, saying they believe that stablecoins and tokenized securities are today among the most exciting developments in crypto. Their view was echoed at Crypto Conference this week by Bitcoin Association Switzerland board member Luzius Meisser, who said“stablecoins are a precondition for average companies to bring their equity onto the blockchain.”
This post credited to Cointelegraph. Image source: Cointelegraph
It goes without saying that 2018’s bear season savaged the broader crypto industry. Investors lost faith, Wall Street seemingly pulled out, and entire startups collapsed as financial pressure mounted, catalyzed by a collapse of the Bitcoin price. Yet, ambitious venture groups continue to seek financiers en-masse, as arguably, bear markets are an optimal time for “buying the dip.”
Pro-Bitcoin 1confirmation Seeking $60M For New Crypto Fund
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal’s “Venture Capital” column revealed that San Francisco-headquartered 1confirmation, supposedly one of the first crypto-dedicated venture groups, is looking for prospective investors. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the WSJ noted that 1confirmation is looking for $60 million for its second fund — more than double the $27 million raised in the American firm’s inaugural round in December 2017.
With this newfangled $60 million fund, 1confirmation, which has holdings in recently-launched Veil, Coinbase, Bitcoin, Ethereum, among other vehicles, plans to back infantile crypto projects by purchasing equity or tokens.
Although 1confirmation seemingly has high hopes for its fund, as its first venture secured funding from Mark Cuban, Marc Andreessen, and Thiel Capital, 2018’s downturn likely killed faith in this nascent sector. Maybe 1confirmation can tap Cuban and crew again, but such ambitions may be too zealous.
However, there’s a likelihood that 1confirmation performed better than cynics may be thinking. Save for the American fund’s investment in physical cryptocurrencies and Basis, which recently folded due to mounting regulatory pressure, it can be presumed that there’s more to 1confirmation’s venture stakes than meets the eye.
1confirmation-backed Veil, a peer-to-peer prediction markets platform centered around Augur, went online just two days ago. Veil brings ease-of-use to Augur’s blockchain-based prediction markets, which struggled with adoption throughout 2018. As a result of the platform’s launch, REP, the native token of Augur’s ecosystem, has skyrocketed, posting a 70% gain in the past week.
Coinbase has also performed extremely well. As established by NewsBTC in previous reports, the San Francisco-based crypto startup was valued at a jaw-dropping $8 billion, allowing Coinbase to approach to start to approach the $13 billion price tag put on Pinterest. Interestingly, Coinbase is more valuable than Robinhood — another Silicon Valley startup focused on democratizing finance.
Besides funding and lofty valuations, Coinbase has also done well for itself fundamentally. Bloomberg, citing a document, once projected that the exchange was to make $1.3 billion in fiscal 2018, despite the dropping Bitcoin price. The firm has also continued to expand its offerings, making notable strides in Q4 of 2018.
And with that in mind, 1confirmation has likely posted healthy paper gains through its capital allocations towards Veil and Coinbase and its holdings in Bloxroute Labs, dYdX, Stellar-based security tokens platform Harbor, OpenSea, Nervos, and Vest.
Yet, a number of industry insiders are skeptical that crypto funds, in general, will garner any notable amounts of traction in 2019.
Analysts Skeptical Of Crypto Fund Prospects In 2019
Via a November edition of Off The Chain, a crypto-centric publication and media group, crypto crusader Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano remarked that crypto organizations “are in more trouble than people realize.” The Morgan Creek Digital Assets founder noted that he expects for crypto hedge funds, not too dissimilar from pure venture funds, to start “shutting down” due to certain clauses in legal documents.
He added that it could just be a matter of times before fund managers, who Pomp claimed were “young and inexperienced,” start to fold en bloc, falling victim to crypto winter, just like an array of leading industry upstarts.
Travis Scher, who heads crypto conglomerate Digital Currency Group’s in-house investment branch, echoed Pomp’s concerns in a recent interview with Business Insider. Scher told the outlet that while 2018’s first half saw a “tremendous amount of venture investments” enter the crypto realm, fund convictions are likely more bearish than bullish. Scher explained that hesitance by the way of financiers may make it much more difficult for organizations, whether venture groups or startups, to raise adequate funding.
The Digital Currency Group executive added:
“There is going to be a real struggle to raise new money. As there is going to be less money going into the crypto funds, there is going to be less money available for token projects.”
This post credited to NewsBTC. Image source: FreeDesignFile
At the time, Coincheck executives said in a press conference that the security breach was caused by a lack of personnel and experts working to improve the security measures of the exchange.
As Yuji Nakamura, a Tokyo-based technology journalist, reported on Jan 26, 2018:
Main takeaways from Coincheck press conf: only NEM impacted. Plans to continue operating, restart trading; not clear on plan to repay customers; no multisig; wouldn’t admit security was weak; not sure how hacked, if domestic or foreign hackers; CEO barely spoke.
The Coincheck security breach prompted the Financial Services Agency (FSA) of Japan to tighten regulatory frameworks surrounding cryptocurrencies and implement changes into existing policies.
Within less than a year since the Coincheck hack, another major cryptocurrency trading platform has been hacked.
Due to many security breaches that have occurred since early 2016, the cryptocurrency exchange market has struggled to obtain a reputation for having strong security measures and internal management systems.
If exchanges continue to be breached with basic hacking tools and methods, the trust and confidence from investors in the public market will inevitably decline.
One of the contributing factors to the security breaches that cryptocurrency exchanges experience quite frequently is the focus on profitability over investor protection.
As such, some markets in the likes of Japan and South Korea require exchanges to allocate a certain threshold of their revenues to security and internal management system development.
Throughout 2018, in an attempt to increase the trading volume and activity on the exchange, the Cryptopia team integrated many cryptocurrencies and tokens, prioritizing the expansion of the businesses.
Ultimately, the decision of the exchange to allocate a larger portion of its resources toward business development over security and maintenance may have led to the materialization of a high profile security breach.
Yesterday 14th January 2019, the Cryptopia Exchange suffered a security breach which resulted in significant losses. Once identified by staff, the exchange was put into maintenance while we assessed damages.
How Hacks Can be Stopped
Strict regulation could work in several regions, and it certainly has worked in South Korea and Japan in preventing hacking attacks.
However, generally, a way to stop cryptocurrency exchange hacks is for users to rely on trading platforms that prioritize security and investor protection through the implementation of comprehensive security measures and insurance.
In most cases, fiat-to-crypto exchanges are compliant with local policies, but many crypto-to-crypto trading platforms operate outside of major markets, often to refrain from dealing with regulatory frameworks.
This post credited to CCN. Images from Shutterstock
Tuesday, Jan. 15 — following a brief period of recovery yesterday, all of the top 20 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization are falling again. The only exception to this are two stablecoins Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC), which are currently in the green.
As of press time, Bitcoin (BTC) is down 2.34 percent on the day, to trade at $3,615. The leading cryptocurrency started the day above the psychological threshold of $3,700, while on the weekly chart the highest price point was registered on Jan. 9 at $4,107.
Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Price Index
The second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, Ripple (XRP) has lost almost 3 percent of its value over the last 24 hours, currently trading at around $0.32. XRP did not experience significant price fluctuations today, but it is significantly down from the intraweek high of $0.38 seen on Jan. 9.
Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Price Index
Ethereum (ETH) — which is currently ranked the third largest crypto by market cap — is suffering a slump, having lost around 7.5 percent over the last 24 hours. At press time, the altcoin is trading at around $119.
As Cointelegraph reported earlier, Ethereum’s much-anticipated Constantinople upgrade has been delayed until at least the next week, following the discovery of a critical security vulnerability that it could unexpectedly introduce to the network.
Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Price Index
All of the other top 20 cryptocurrencies are also firmly in the red, displaying dips ranging from two to over 7 percent. The sole exception are stablecoins USDT and USDC, which are up by 0.06 and 0.45 percent respectively, according to CoinMarketCap data.
The total crypto market capitalization is around $120.5 billion at press time, down from its intra-week high of $138.6 billion.
A Jan. 14 report by research firm Diar has shown that cryptocurrency exchanges have closed 2018 with “record transacting volumes.” Both the number of trades and the trade volume have purportedly significantly increased on major crypto exchanges in 2018, compared to 2017 figures.
This post credited to Cointelegraph. Image source: Cointelegraph
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.
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
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