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.

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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

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

Crypto startup Bitwise Asset Management has proposed a new bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) that it says would address the regulatory concerns that doomed previous attempts.

The company has filed an initial registration form proposing the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF Trust with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund would track the Bitwise Bitcoin Total Return Index, which measures the value of bitcoin plus any “meaningful hard forks.”

If the ETF is approved, its shares will be listed on NYSE Arca, which focuses on trading stocks and options (rather than large-cap stocks, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange).

The initial registration statement indicates that Bitwise wants to underpin its index for the valuation of the fund with spot prices from exchanges and physically settled futures contracts, rather than cash-settled contracts, as earlier proposed ETFs would have done.

In a statement, Bitwise global head of Exchange-Traded Funds John Hyland noted that the SEC may not grant the application, adding:

“We believe the crypto trading ecosystem has evolved in significant ways in the past year … Having a regulated bank or trust company hold physical assets of a fund has been the standard under U.S. fund regulation for the last 80 years, and we believe that is now possible with bitcoin.”

Further, Hyland said, “we are optimistic that 2019 should be the year that a bitcoin ETF launches.”

The SEC currently has one bitcoin ETF rule change proposal sitting before it, filed by VanEck and SolidX in partnership with Cboe last year. A decision on the proposal has been delayed a number of times, and now faces a final deadline of Feb. 27, 2019.

Past efforts

According to a press release, Bitwise’s proposal differs from previous bitcoin ETF proposals by having regulated third-party custodians store the actual bitcoins in the trust.

Further, the index that the ETF is based on will determine prices using data drawn from a “large number of cryptocurrency exchanges,” which will allow it to represent “the majority of currently verifiable bitcoin trading.”

Bitwise global head of research Matt Hougan said the company’s proposal is informed by questions asked by the SEC in the past.

“We have spent the past year researching these questions and look forward to discussing those findings with the SEC staff in connection with the filing and listing application,” he added.

NYSE Arca will file for the required rule-change proposal “in the coming days,” the press release explained.

SEC headquarters image via Shutterstock

This post credited to Coindesk.

Crypto exchange Seed CX — a Chicago-based licensed platform targeting institutional clients — has launched a digital asset wallet solution with on-chain settlement, according to a press release published Jan. 10.  

Seed CX has reportedly developed the new wallet solution together with its settlement subsidiary, Zero Hash — a crypto and fiat currency custodian providing on-chain settlement services. Zero Hash reportedly has FinCEN’sregulatory approval to operate as a money transmitter across 25 American states, and is also under review for a prospective BitLicense from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

As the press release outlines, Seed CX platform users will each be assigned a unique, segregated wallet, which the company argues is more secure than existing multi-user, omnibus wallet solutions offered by other exchanges. Seed CX makes the case that dispersing digital asset holdings across multiple unique wallets helps to mitigate the risk of threat actors accessing pooled assets via a single vector of attack.

To provide a higher level of anonymity for its on-chain solution, Zero Hash will also reportedly generate new wallet addresses for each user each time transfers between wallets occur, making the movements associated with a single wallet less conspicuous to other market participants.

Other operational safeguards will reportedly include restricting access for withdrawal of assets to the user or an authorized delegate signer, whitelisted address functionality to determine pre-approved destination wallets and mult-signature security.

The press release levels criticisms at the inadequate security protocols it considers to be rife among exchanges, as well as at the limited visibility investors are given with off-chain wallet solutions.

As previously reported, 31 crypto exchanges have been hacked over the last eight years, with an estimated $1.3 billion stolen.

As Cointelegraph reported in September, Seed CX is backed by Boston-based alternative investment firm Bain Capital Ventures, which led a $15 million funding round for the exchange. The platform is licensed to offer both spot market and U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)-regulated derivatives, the latter for which it reportedly plans to offer a separate market in the future.

With Seed CX targeting institutional clients with its new solution, the market for retail-focused wallets has seen several recent developments. South Koreanelectronics giant Samsung filed for a crypto wallet-related trademark in the United Kingdom in December, while stalwart hardware wallet firm Ledgerlaunched a Bluetooth-based wallet earlier this month.

This post credited to Cointelegraph

Image source: Cointelegraph

This week, a major crypto exchange ShapeShift was forced to lay off 30 percent of the company’s workforce, letting go 37 employees.

In a letter to the company and to the users on the platform, ShapeShift founder and CEO Erik Voorhees said that the crypto winter had left the firm with no other viable choice but to adjust to worsening market conditions.

“Today, we let 37 employees go, reducing the size of our team by a third,” Voorhees said.

Not Wholly Negative: Lessons from Crypto Winter

Following one of the largest bull markets in the history of the cryptocurrency market in 2017, the vast majority of companies in the industry including ConsenSys, Bitmain, and ShapeShift aggressively expanded their services, often outside of their core business.

CCN.com@CryptoCoinsNews

Calling Crypto a ‘Harsh Mistress,’ ShapeShift Announces Major Layoffs https://www.ccn.com/calling-crypto-a-harsh-mistress-shapeshift-announces-major-layoffs/ …257:24 AM – Jan 9, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacyCalling Crypto a ‘Harsh Mistress,’ ShapeShift Announces Major LayoffsShapeShift exchange has become the latest in a string of cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to announce major layoffs due to the ongoing cryptocurrency bear market. In a Medium post entitled…ccn.comSee CCN.com’s other TweetsTwitter Ads info and privacy

During that time, ShapeShift recorded a massive growth rate of 3,000 percent as the valuation of cryptocurrencies surged past $800 billion. Exchanges were seeing record volumes, and businesses in the industry received substantial venture capital money from prominent investors.

Voorhees explained:

We ride high and fast during the ascents, growing at rates unseen almost anywhere else in the business world (ShapeShift grew 3,000% in 2017). And when the markets turn, the crypto recession is similarly dramatic and severe.

But, as the market eventually entered a correction phase and most crypto assets began to record 70 to 80 percent drops from their all-time highs, the market started to struggle; less venture capital money was coming in, revenues declined, and overall trading activity dropped.

bitcoin price ethereum price
With the Bitcoin (blue) and Ethereum (red) prices down more than 70 percent over the past year, crypto firms are starting to tighten their belts.

Having already expanded to different areas within the cryptocurrency market and in some cases outside of finance, many companies could no longer sustain large teams working on a variety of products.

He said:

As a company, we’ve made a thousand mistakes. The most thematic has been a lack of focus. Here’s the lesson we learned: regardless of any particular project’s marketability, they were pulling our attention in too many directions. They cost financial resources. They required legal review. And then further review, and then additional review after that.

Consequently, ConsenSysBitmain, and ShapeShift all laid off 30 to 50 percent of their workforce to redirect their focus to their core products, realigning their vision.

Bitmain eliminated entire departments working on areas like artificial intelligence (AI), ConsenSys announced the second phase of the company to work on products that can be used by the mainstream and casual users, and ShapeShift has also begun to shift more attention to its core business.

The realignment of vision by large companies in the crypto sphere is not entirely negative; they are going back to their roots to serve their core user base and drive adoption into their main services before expanding again to other areas.

Importance of a Bear Market

A bull and bear market cycle is crucial in an emerging market like crypto because it allows companies to re-evaluate their progress and move forward to achieve greater success in the long-term.

This post credited to CCN. Erik Voorhees Image via ShapeShift/YouTube

Plunging cryptocurrency values in 2018 and the collapse of the money-for-nothing white paper market in initial coin offerings (ICOs) took much of the focus last year for many people when it came to blockchain mindshare.

All of that marketplace drama, however, concealed an enormous amount of real progress for the technology that will, slowly but surely, lay the foundation for a robust revival of the blockchain markets in the future.

Over the last year, the market did provide lots of drama related to ICOs. Nearly a quarter of all the ICOs from 2017 lost most of their value, and the market as a whole declined by nearly two- thirds.

The first half of 2018 was no better. There were nearly 1,000 ICOs every month, but only 5% of them raised more than $1 million – with one, EOS, raising around $4 billion.

Not only did the bulk of the money raised go to a very small number of the ICOs, but nearly every aspect of the world of blockchain also became more consolidated and, dare I say, centralized, in 2018 – rather counterintuitive for blockchain, since decentralization is at its core.

Public blockchains consolidate

According to a study by EY that examined the ICOs’ progress and investment returns, ethereum, which is the dominant platform and shows the highest activity among developers and on social media, became even more dominant, with more than 95% of all ICOs and funds raised.

The market for exchanges consolidated rapidly as well, with 73% of daily trading volume in the first half of the year taken by the top 10 exchanges. Though the full-year numbers are yet to be updated, that trend seems set to continue.

The biggest exchanges are consolidating their positions in part by rapidly maturing their processes and approach to regulatory compliance. Know-your-customer procedures are being tightened and many of the big exchanges are, or soon will be, audited by some of the major financial services organizations (EY included). These same exchanges have been beefing up their security as well, with fewer large-scale thefts in 2018 than in 2017.

Another big trend last year in the world of public blockchains was the surge in popularity of stablecoins of all kinds, mostly based on fiat currencies. While stablecoins offer some advantages, including stability, they do raise the single most important question remaining for public blockchains: why are they useful?

Parking money in a stablecoin is beneficial if it’s between investments or purchases as a way to avoid volatility, but it’s not a very good investment in and of itself. The purpose of capital markets is to allocate capital to productive uses and, at least for the moment, that doesn’t seem to be happening. For public blockchains in 2019, this is the single most important question.

Private blockchains deliver

While public exchanges have been consolidating their hold on the market, private blockchains are getting to work by delivering real business value for enterprises. At EY, a number of systems entered production status, including our software licensing solution with Microsoft and a maritime insurance joint venture with Maersk and Guardtime.

Looking at the enterprise space, there are three key learnings from the work with blockchain in 2018.

First and foremost, the biggest rule in blockchain seems to be: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Over and over again, when companies are working on projects where blockchain seemed to be an excellent fit, they did not move forward because they already found a solution to their problem. Despite the fact that blockchain in nearly every case would be better, that isn’t necessarily enough to justify replacing already existing processes, given the cost and risk.

Second, and very closely related to the first learning, is the primacy of solving real problems. While chief innovation officers sometimes love to do blockchain proofs of concept, the technology is far past that. It’s all about the focus on productizing and solving solutions for line-of-business executives — with real ROI. If one can, with confidence, point to an ROI from a solution, then there’s no need to worry about which blockchain platform or future comes to pass. There is a return from this investment, no matter what.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is clear that companies are prioritizing operations before finance. While tracking products and assets as they move through the supply chain is useful, there are a lot of financial services that could add value, from the very simple approach “payment upon delivery,” to complex services like factoring receivables and trade finance.

However, in most cases, companies want to achieve confidence in their operational systems before closing the loop with payments and financial services, a challenge they will start to take up at the start of 2019.

This post credited to coindesk Image via Shutterstock

FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet’s Google) may be getting all the attention from Wall Street and investors, but digital payment companies PayPal and Square could be better bets on the future of technology and payments.

Both stocks are up double-digits or more this year but have market capitalizations that are much smaller than their FAANG counterpoints. They are also in growth mode, launching new products, engaging in acquisitions and inking partnerships as the movement toward digital payments marches on.

PayPal A Darling Of Wall Street

Take PayPal for starters. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based digital payments stock is up more than 21% so far this year, with shares gaining nearly 5% in the past month alone. PayPal has a market capitalization of $106 billion, which is a far cry from the more than $1 trillion in value both Amazon and Apple commanded this summer.

It also has the praise of many on Wall Street with most of the firms that cover it rating it a strong buy. Instinent analyst Bill Carcache is the most recent one to heap praise on the payments company. Earlier this week he reiterated his buy rating and $120 price target, calling the company a “safe haven stock” similar to credit card companies Visa Inc. (V) and Mastercard Inc. (MA).  The analyst noted in a research report covered by MarketWatchthat demand for Venmo debit cards is outstripping supply. Venmo is PayPal’s peer-to-peer payment app. At $120 a share, the Wall Street analyst thinks the stock can surge an additional nearly 35%.

PayPal Is In Growth, Buying Mode

It’s been a busy few months for PayPal, which was spun off from eBay back in July of 2015. Aiming to expand into new markets and offer more features, the company acquired iZettle in May for $2.2 billion. iZettle is a small business eCommerce platform operating mainly in Europe and Latin America. It followed up that acquisition with a purchase of payments company Hyperwallet in June for $400 million and its $120 million buy of Simility, the fraud protection company during the same month.

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Ethereum, which has regained its spot as the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization after recent gains, is soaring today, helping to boost the cryptocurrency market—including bitcoin and ripple (XRP) as a post-Christmas rally rolls on.

Ethereum has climbed some 80% over the past month, adding a further 12% rise over the last 24 hours, as an upcoming so-called hard fork pushes up demand for ethereum’s tradable token ether.

Bitcoin has added some 4% over the last 24 hours, while ripple, a common name for the XRP tradable token, has climbed 3%. Ripple last year overtook ethereum as the world’s second largest cryptocurrency on the back of surging interest from the established financial services sector but has failed to hold on to those gains.

The hard fork, which usually means a cryptocurrency splits in two, will see ethereum miner rewards fall from three ether to two and decrease the block time, making the network faster. The update is set for January 16 and is thought to be a key component of ethereum’s transition from using a proof of work protocol to proof of stake.

Cryptocurrency forks do not always mean their value rises, however.

Bitcoin forks have previously led to minor drops in the bitcoin price in the short term. When bitcoin cash forked from the bitcoin network in July 2017, bitcoin dropped some 4%—though bitcoin had risen strongly in the months leading up to the fork and continued to do so in following months before peaking in December 2017.

Bitcoin cash itself then rallied hard ahead of its split in November last year. The bull run proved to be short-lived, however, with both bitcoin cash, and the hived off bitcoin SV, falling sharply in following weeks.

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Ethereum has rallied this month after falling steadily throughout most of 2018.COINDESK

The ethereum price has lost some 80% from its peak 12 months ago, as many of the digital tokens built on the ethereum network failed to hold their value. However, ethereum co-creator Joe Lubin called the “cryptobottom of 2018” in mid-December, saying it was “marked by an epic amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt from our friends in the 4th and crypto-5th estates.”

The bitcoin and wider cryptocurrency bear market forced Lubin to make changes at his company ConsenSys last year.

Last month, closely followed economist and a cryptocurrency trader Alex Krüger tweeted he expected the reaction to the upcoming ethereum hard fork would be “bullish.”

“Once mining is past the initial (painful) adjustment period, less mining supply mined by fewer miners will be decidedly bullish,” Krüger wrote.

Meanwhile, bitcoin and Ripple’s XRP have also climbed over so far this week, kicking off 2019 with a rise and greeting many traders and investors returning to work today after the holidays with a sea of green.

ethereum, ethereum price, bitcoin, bitcoin price, ripple, ripple price, chart

Traders returning to work today have reason to be cheerful.COINMARKETCAP

Many will be hoping this positive start to 2019 will continue for the rest of the year after 2018 ended in what’s been called Crypto Winter, due to its debilitating effect on the market and crypto investment and development.

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Over the past 12 months Bitcoin has continued to fall, dragging the entire crypto market down with it. The daddy of all digital currencies hit a 16 month low in mid-December when it fell below $3,200. Things could be on the verge of a reversal soon though according to analysts.

Turning The Tide On The Bears

A positive start to 2019 and new technical analysis suggests that trends are about to turn for Bitcoin and its brethren.  An indicator used to detect trend reversals shows that Bitcoin is in its longest buying streak for six months according to Forbes.

The GTI Vera Convergence Divergence indicator has previously been used to highlight buy signals and it has not been wrong. Bitcoin had a month long rally the last time this indicator showed positive signals. “Should buying pressure persist as it has over the past 13 days, Bitcoin could continue to see a rise in prices,” Bloomberg added.

Bloomberg’s Galaxy Crypto Index, which tracks some of the top crypto assets, is similarly indicating Bitcoin’s longest buy streak since September when its market dominance climbed to 58%. This sentiment has been echoed by senior analysts such as eToro’s Mati Greenspan who said the market is much closer to the bottom than we are to the top, before adding;

“I’m seeing an industry that is growing at a very rapid pace right now where we see companies that are involved in bitcoin and blockchain hiring at a rapid rate. We see new projects coming online. We see all kind of indication that people are getting more and more involved in the market.”

While it is true that large scale mining operations have downsized, crypto exchanges such as Binance and Coinbase have continued to expand and take on new staff and new geographic locations. The looming promise of institutional investor involvement from the likes of Nasdaq and ICE is another signal that the market is not likely to fall any further.

Ethereum has led the rally so far this year with its upcoming Constantinople hard fork being the catalyst. A recovery of over 80% in just three weeks for ETH has bolstered crypto markets which have grown almost 5% since the new year started. Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin called the bottom in mid-December when most cryptos were at their lowest levels for 18 months;

Joseph Lubin

@ethereumJoseph

I am calling the cryptobottom of 2018. This bottom is marked by an epic amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt from our friends in the 4th and crypto-5th estates.

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The momentum at the moment is slow but recovery is a painful process and will not happen overnight. A steady upswing for crypto markets will be far healthier for the ecosystem than the mass volatility of 2017’s bull run. The snow from the crypto winter could slowly be starting to melt.

This post credited to News BTC Image source: News BTC

Following a several day period of relative stability in the cryptocurrency markets, Bitcoin has now risen nearly 4%, which is leading the overall crypto markets to surge. Today’s positive price move is being led by Ethereum, which is currently trading up well over 10%.

Today’s move marks the first market surge of 2019, although Bitcoin faces historical resistance around $4,000 which may prove to be a difficult level to break through.

Crypto Markets Add $7 Billion From Daily Lows 

Today’s price surge has led the crypto markets to add over $7 billion to their aggregated market capitalization, which has risen from daily lows of $125 million to its current levels of nearly $133 billion.

Bitcoin is naturally leading the direction of the market and is currently trading up 4.4% at its current price of $3,900. This has been a relatively volatile week for Bitcoin’s price, which fell to lows of $3,600 before rising to highs of nearly $4,000.

During its last price rise, Bitcoin appeared to treat $4,000 as a level of resistance, as its price was swiftly pushed downwards after touching this level. More time is required to see if Bitcoin will be able to maintain its current upwards momentum and break above $4,000 during its current price surge.

Altcoins Surge, Ethereum Leads the Way 

Bitcoin’s price rise has allowed the altcoin markets to see some decent gains, with Ethereum and EOS being today’s best performing cryptocurrencies so far.

At the time of writing, Ethereum is trading up 13% at its current price of $152. Ethereum is nearing its one-month highs of $156, which may act as a level of resistance. Ethereum is trading up 83% from its monthly lows of $83.

Ethereum’s massive price rise over the past month is the likely result of two primary factors, consisting of being in oversold territory earlier this month, and its upcoming Constantinople fork, which will reduce its block rewards and in turn decrease the new Ethereum supply.

Alex Krüger, an economist who focuses primarily on cryptocurrencies, linked Ethereum’s performance directly to this event, saying in a recent tweet that the supply reduction will be a bullish event.

“Notable outperformance of $ETH over $BTC in the last few weeks. There’s a reason for it: the upcoming fork / supply reduction. Another BAKKT delay adds to it,” he said.

In the past, Krüger has spoken bullishly about the Constantinople fork, which is set to occur around January 16th of this year, saying:

“Ethereum’s Constantinople fork is coming on block 7080000, around January 16, 2019. Constantinople will reduce the block rewards from 3 to 2, decreasing new $ETH supply accordingly… On the long run, this is decidedly bullish.”

Ethereum has now retaken the number two spot by market capitalization from XRP.

XRP is slightly outperforming Bitcoin and is trading up nearly 6% at its current price of $0.374.

EOS is also having a good day and is trading up over 10% at its current price of $2.84.

This post credited to News BTC Image source: Shutterstock