On the Bitcoin network, whether it is a transaction worth $100 or $1 million, it costs the same miner’s fee to process the payment.

On October 16, a $194 million payment was moved on the Bitcoin network with a mere $0.1 fee nearly instantaneously. Through legacy banking systems, weeks of paperwork, days of settlement system, and a significant load of compliance work is required to clear a payment of that size.

The research of Nic Carter, a Partner at Castle Island Ventures and the co-founder of Coinmetrics.io, found that comparing Bitcoin to other cryptocurrencies and centralized systems like PayPal based on transactions per second (TPS) is inaccurate.

Why Bitcoin Comparison isn’t All That Simple

As shown by the chart below created by Carter, centralized systems like credit card network operators and Bitcoin target a different market. While credit and debit card network operators mostly focus on processing small payments at a large capacity, the users of Bitcoin tend to rely on the network for larger payments.

“Bitcoin transactions tend to be quite large. It’s hard to know the precise number, but your average transaction will be in the thousands of dollars, possibly tens of thousands. Your median transaction is well over $100,” Carter explained.

Multi-million dollar payments are quite frequently moved on the Bitcoin blockchain network, and on some occasions, as seen in the $194 million BTC payment processed last month, large net-worth investors settle substantially large payments that are rarely settled using credit cards.

In November 2015, Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian purchased a painting worth $170 million with his American Express credit card. That is, a payment $24 million smaller than the BTC transaction settled last month. Yet, due to the rarity of the transaction, the $170 million credit card purchase was reported by mainstream media outlets and national television networks, because it is not normal for an average credit card user to purchase anything larger than $10,000 to $100,000.

“What critics miss when they fixate on TPS is the simple fact that the users of these systems tend to have a good idea of what they want from them. Low-stakes, small value transfers with some reversibility guarantees work just fine on Venmo, Paypal, or Visa. Yes — these don’t work for the unbanked, but then again virtually no financial infrastructure does. This stuff takes a long time to build, as does the trust in the system.”

Based on one metric that is TPS, Bitcoin could seem like an inferior network to centralized protocols. But, Bitcoin can process significantly large payments on the network with relative ease, which centralized systems simply cannot do due to compliance and regulatory requirements.

TPS is Not the Only Measurement

While TPS can be used as a measurement, it is one of many measurements that can be utilized to evaluate and compare payment networks.

Carter noted:

“So, in short, value transfer systems vary along at least three major axes, not just one. The response to ‘Our system does 500,000 TPS” is “at what cost?’ Are you deferring settlement? Do you have a single validator? Do you require that transactors be part of the US-controlled financial system?”

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One of the U.K.’s Conservative Party members has both joined and left an advisory role at a cryptocurrency exchange platform in the last week.

Stephen Hammond, MP, stated that his position at the IronX digital asset trading venue might be seen as a conflict of interest.

IronX Promotes Risks Hammond Has Previously Warned About

According to a report in the Financial Times’s Alphaville column, Conservative MP Stephen Hammond started working for a digital currency exchange platform last week. However, today it emerged he lasted just four days in the position before announcing his intentions to quit.

The role Hammond had taken was described on the IronX website as advising “on government relations.” For this, the MP would be paid in the platform’s native token, IRX. For just two or three days work each quarter, he would be awarded 50,000 IRX – today valued at around £16,000.

It seems curious that Hammond would take such a role in the first place. The Conservative MP has a place on the Treasury Committee, which has been investigating cryptocurrency and blockchain technology for a while now. In a recent report, the committee warned of the dangers posed to retail investors taking up positions in cryptocurrency – something that IronX, as an exchange platform, seeks to encourage explicitly. The report reads:

“On account of their volatility alone, crypto-assets are especially risky, particularly for inexperienced retail investors.”

The Treasury Committee also warned about the dangers of ICO fundraising methods. Such a token sale is also part of the IronX business model:

“Crypto assets and ICOs are extremely risky, and the Committee agrees with the FCA that investors should be prepared to lose all their money.”

When asked for comment on his decision to both join and leave the startup within the space of a week, Hammond stated that he initially believed he was well-suited for the role since he had experience in both politics and cryptocurrency.

After mulling the idea properly, however, the MP noticed that there could be a conflict of interest between his role in government and that at IronX:

“… crypto is going to be increasingly going to be a major part of the financial world and therefore it may well affect a number of Treasury Select Committee inquiries, and potentially therefore that might cause a greater conflict than I had first hoped it might.”

Unsurprisingly, when grilled about the IronX’s goals being at odds with the Treasury Committee’s reports on the space, Hammond did not provide comment.

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The majority of global financial institutions surveyed believe that central banksshould develop central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDCs), according to a joint study by IBM Blockchain World Wire and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) released Oct. 25.

The study includes 21 central banks that participated in the OMFIF’s research between July and September 2017. The reports notes that participants failed to find a compromise on whether governments should issue their own cryptocurrencies, as well as were divided over the associated processes of managing and accessing those CBDCs, tech news media The Next Web notes.

76 percent of respondents have reportedly expressed uncertainty about the efficiency of distributed ledger technology (DLT) deployments, while most financial institutions surveyed said that they believed that central banks should issue their own digital currencies.

Still, 38 percent of financial institutions in the study are actively exploring and trialling CBDC, while the rest — 62 percent — are reported as completely not active in this field.

Apart from providing statistics on opinions towards central bank-issued digital currencies by global financial institutions, the report also includes a number of approaches to establish CBDCs, as well as offers guidance for institutions on how to manage the associated challenges.

On Oct. 23, a senior executive at U.K.-based bank HSBC Craig Ramsey claimedthat both CBDCs and blockchain deployments pose a “great challenge” to existing real-time gross settlement (RTGS) systems.

Last week, the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya claimed that CBDCs are unlikely to improve the existing monetary systems, since controlling the economy through CBDCs only works if central banks eliminate fiat money from the financial system.

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The Switzerland-based Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) has published new anti-money-laundering (AML) standards for digital assets and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) Oct. 18.

CMTA is a non-profit, independent association established in Geneva earlier this year with the aim of promoting the adoption of DLT, such as blockchain, and digital assets in the financial markets.

Its creation was a joint initiative from online bank Swissquote, market software provider Temenos, and the country’s largest law firm Lenz & Staehelin.

According to CMTA, the newly-published standards are designed to “clarify […] measures to be taken in order to comply with the Swiss regulations against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.” As per CMTA general secretary Fedor Poskriakov, the document is intended to “pav[e] the way for a compliant tokenization of financial assets.”

The document is split into two parts, the first of which outlines compliance standards for digital asset issuers, whether or not they formally designate themselves as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs); the second addresses Swiss banks, securities dealers, and other intermediaries who may wish to enter into business relationships with digital asset issuers or investors, or whose business practices involve “a material exposure” to digital assets and/or DLT.

Notably, the standards are not statutory and do not have formal regulatory status, yet CMTA states they “represent a consensus” among financial sector experts as to how good practice should be established and conducted in the emerging digital assets space.

CMTA outlines that the guidance has been developed on the basis of a range of legislative frameworks, including the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance (AMLO), FINMA’s Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance (AMLO-FINMA) and other laws for Swiss banks’ code of conduct and due diligence requirements.

As reported last week, France’s intergovernmental organization, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has recently updated its standards regarding digital currencies to ensure that virtual asset service providers are subject to AML and CFT regulations.

Earlier this week, Swissquote announced it had become “the first bank worldwide” to offer purchase and custodial services of ICO-issued tokens for clients.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated in a recently released report that the rapid growth of Bitcoin and crypto could impact the international finance system.

The report entitled “World Economic Outlook: Challenges to Steady Growth” published by the IMF read:

“Cybersecurity breaches and cyberattacks on critical financial infrastructure represent an additional source of risk because they could undermine cross-border payment systems and disrupt the flow of goods and services. Continued rapid growth of crypto assets could create new vulnerabilities in the international financial system.”

Rapid Growth, Improving Regulation, Acknowledgement From Government Agencies

Despite the 80 percent decline in the valuation of the crypto market, the industry has seen some of the most positive developments regarding the institutionalization, regulation, and development of cryptocurrencies as an emerging asset class in the past nine months.

Led by existing companies like Coinbase and Gemini, major financial institutions in the likes of NYSE, Cboe, and Goldman Sachs have started to strengthen the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency market, allowing both high profile retail traders and institutional investors to allocate large amounts of money in the asset class.

As the cryptocurrency sector continues to grow at an exponential rate, the IMF emphasized that it could create vulnerabilities in the financial system. Because cryptocurrencies are considered alternative currencies with value, a growing number of hackers have started to target digital asset trading platforms with sophisticated tools and hacking methods.

“Stealing cryptocurrencies is similar to stealing cash, and exchanges will continue to be targeted by hacking attacks in the long-term. It is as important to establish systems to deal with the aftermath of hacking attacks as integrating various methods to prevent hacking attacks,” Jeon Ha-jin, the chairman of South Korea Blockchain Association said.

South Korea bitcoin

In South Korea, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange market behind the US and Japan, exchanges have begun to insure their funds through trusted insurance providers like Samsung to add an additional layer of security and investor protection.

Gemini, a leading cryptocurrency exchange in the US alongside Coinbase, also recently obtained insurance services from Aon to ensure that in an unlikely event of a security breach, the exchange is able to cover user funds and holdings fully.

“Consumers are looking for the same levels of insured protection they’re used to being afforded by traditional financial institutions. Educating our insurers not only allows us to provide such protections to our customers, but it also sets the expectation for consumer protection across the crypto industry,” Yusuf Hussain, Gemini’s Head of Risk, said.

The cryptocurrency industry and infrastructure employed by exchanges are relatively new and fundamentally different from the technologies implemented by the traditional finance sector. As such, it is appropriate for the IMF and government agencies to describe the rapid growth of the asset class a risk to global finance.

But, continuous efforts to strengthen the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency market and improve investor protection will reduce the risk cryptocurrencies have on the global finance industry.

Expert Believes it is Optimistic

Emin Gun Sirer, a professor at the prestigious Cornell University and a highly regarded expert in the space of cryptocurrency and blockchain, stated that the acknowledgement of cryptocurrencies as an asset class by the IMF is optimistic for the industry.

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Robinhood is now in Ohio bringing the number of states that the cryptocurrency and stocks trading app is currently available in to 25.

In a tweeted statement, the trading startup indicated that Ohioans can now trade various cryptocurrencies commission-free on the Robinhood app. Some of the cryptocurrencies that the users of the app can trade include bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum classic and dogecoin.

Earlier this month, the trading startup was launched in Rhode Island (October 2), Tennessee (October 5), Arkansas (October 5). Towards the end of last month the trading app was unveiled in Oklahoma. Prior to that, as CCN reported, it was also made available in the Last Frontier state, Alaska.

25 States and Counting

Other states which already enjoy the commission-free crypto trading services of Robinhood include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The move to Ohio comes in the wake of the stocks and trading startup announcing the launch of its own clearing system which had been in development for around two years.

Prior to developing its proprietary clearing system, Robinhood which now boasts of more than six million customers had been depending on a third party. According to Robinhood, creating the proprietary clearing system was the effort of a team consisting of close to 100 people. The trading startup also had to obtain licenses from the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority(FINRA) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

With the new proprietary clearing system some fees will be reduced such as bank reversal fees. Previously, there was a bank reversal charge of US$30 but this will be cut to US$9.

“This means you’ll only pay for what things actually cost, and not a penny more,” Robinhood wrote on its blog. “Before, bank reversal fees were $30, but once you’re on the new system, we’ll only pass on what the banks charge: $9.”

Traditional Banking Services?

Currently valued at around US$5.6 billion after a recent funding round, Robinhood has argued that the new clearing system will allow it to introduce new financial services. While the trading startup did not specify exactly what kind of financial services it is eyeing, one of these services could be banking. Mid this year, reports emerged that Robinhood had approached regulators with a view of acquiring a national banking charter.

This would not be a completely alien line of business for the trading startup as it already acts as a lender as its own FAQ page reveals:

“Robinhood Financial makes money from its margin trading service, Robinhood Gold, which starts at $6 a month. Additionally, Robinhood earns revenue by collecting interest on the cash and stocks in customer accounts, much like a bank collects interest on cash deposits.”

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Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Vice President Jim Cunha discussed his views on cryptocurrency adoption and limitations at Forbes’ Annual 30 under 30 Summit on Oct. 2, highlighting asset security remains a significant concern for institutions.

Asset Security a Concern for Banks

While crypto-enthusiasts await widespread adoption, industry observers shed light on the blockchain industry at the ’30 Under 30′ event, discussing the technology’s impact on the perception and production of money.

Cunha spoke at length about the issues voiced by central banks when it comes to embracing cryptocurrencies within their existing framework. He also explained how the U.S. bank interacts with global currency issuers and startups to carefully understand the disruptive technology.

The Federal Bank VP is no stranger to blockchain technology. The Boston bank boasts of a 200-member strong team dedicated to exploring decentralized applications (dApps) on Ethereum and IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric.

Bank of America Files for Cryptocurrency Storage Patent
Related: Bank of America Files for Cryptocurrency Storage Patent

For Cunha, central banks are not opposed to the borderless, transparent, and immutable features that blockchain-powered systems offer. Instead; banks are uncertain about the organizations propelling the blockchain industry forward, in particular, the security features they instill in place before being trusted with millions in crypto-assets.

Cunha’s mistrust presumably stems from the pseudonymous veil worn by most developers from serious projects like Monero and Ethereum. In comparison, a majority of ICO projects–which have approachable developers and members–border on the dishonest side of the cryptocurrency sector with tall promises and lack of technology use cases.

Interestingly, Cunha revealed his distrust for third-party startups was limited to the cryptocurrency industry, stating:

“We use private companies all the time. I don’t know if we’ll ever do that with cryptocurrency.”

Panelists Call for Inclusive Financial System

Despite the lack of cohesion amongst blockchain projects and governments, Cunha cited the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Project Ubin as an example of how central banks realize the potential threat from cryptocurrencies.

The banking veteran added that multiple central banks across the world, such as Sweden’s Riksbank, provide insight on a futuristic, state-controlled cryptocurrency powered by a public blockchain. He added that the adoption could take five years before third-part cryptocurrency companies work directly with central banks.

For most, a state-backed digital token would circumvent the ethos of cryptocurrencies and unnecessarily try to infiltrate a banking system that works well for the most part. However, another speaker at the event, Jeremy Allaire, the founder of crypto-finance giant Circle, believes a new market could form after fiat-to-crypto businesses take off.

Circle Introduces Stablecoin Backed By U.S. Dollar
Related: Circle Introduces Stablecoin Backed By U.S. Dollar

Referencing the launch of Circle’s aptly-called stablecoin “USD Coin,” Allaire argues a price-stable currency could kickstart trading between global markets for cryptocurrencies and other isolated asset classes, apart from enabling off-hours trading.

Other panelists expressed the monumental rise of cryptocurrencies in December 2017, and a “proliferation of poorly vetted” projects in the crypto-space has led to widespread skepticism amongst most finance veterans.

But to counter such concerns, younger panelists argued the widespread distrust seen in traditional markets, especially by millennials. With this in mind, blockchain technology could help to regain trust in financial markets by propelling new technologies or building a comprehensive financial system from the ground up.

However, all panelists agreed that fairness, social access, equality, and ease-of-moving money were significant factors influencing the advent of cryptocurrencies. CoinShares CEO Meltem Demirors concluded:

“We now have to work together to define the future of who has the right to print money and who has the right to define for us individually and collectively what has value.”

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San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange and wallet service Coinbase is finishing negotiations that would value the company at $8 billion, technology news site Recode reports Oct. 2.

Citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Recode states that Coinbase is in talks with Tiger Global and its shareholders regarding a possible $500 million investment. The sources reportedly said that Coinbase would add $250 million to its treasury, while another $250 billion could be slated for buying out existing investors.

Tiger Global Management is an investment firm founded in 2011 that invests globally in both private and public markets.

Galaxy Digital crypto investment firm CEO Michael Novogratz said the news about the reported negotiations proved that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) were more than just “tulip mania.” CNBC quotes Novogratz at the Economist’s Finance Disrupted conference on Tuesday:

“Here’s the poster child (Coinbase) of the crypto space worth $8 billion — that’s a real company, and Tiger’s not a flake of an investor. These are smart, savvy guys.”

According to CNBC, a deal with Tiger Global would make Coinbase one of the most highly valued startups in the U.S. Last year, following a series D funding round led by IVP, with participation from Section 32, Draper Associates, and others, Coinbase was worth an estimated $1.6 billion.

Over the past year, Coinbase has moved quickly to expand its business on multiple fronts. In May, the exchange announced the launch of four new products which aim to “unlock $10 billion of institutional investor money sitting on the sideline.”

Recently, Coinbase introduced a new product called “Coinbase Bundle,” which it purports will simplify the crypto trading process. Coinbase Bundles is a basket of five cryptocurrencies supported on Coinbase — Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ethereum Classic (ETC) — and purchased in proportion to their market capitalization in U.S. dollars.

Coinbase has also on-boarded a host of talent from traditional financial institutions as well as big name tech companies like FacebookMicrosoftAmazon, and Google. Today, Coinbase announced that Chris Dodds, a member of the board at Charles Schwab, would be joining the exchange’s board to contribute to the Coinbase’s expansion in terms of its financial services capabilities.

 

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CBOE, the Chicago exchange that pioneered the listing of bitcoin futures in the U.S., has quietly begun telling market makers that it is close to launching a new cryptocurrency product: ethereum futures.

Citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation, Business Insider reports that CBOE wants to become the first U.S. exchange to list an ethereum futures product, which would transform ether into more of a two-sided market by allowing professional traders to go both long and short on the second-largest cryptocurrency.

Those futures, the person said, could launch before the end of the year and would source their pricing data from Gemini, the New York-based cryptocurrency exchange founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. Gemini currently supplies pricing data for CBOE’s bitcoin futures, which first launched last December.

The report further states that CBOE wants to receive further regulatory clarity from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which oversees the trading of futures and other derivatives products. The agency, run by J. Christopher “Cryptodad” Giancarlo, has garnered a reputation for being quite accommodating to the burgeoning cryptocurrency asset class, though it also vowed to ramp up its scrutiny of cryptocurrency derivatives products in response to criticism for its handling of bitcoin futures.

CBOE’s case will likely be bolstered by the announcement earlier this year that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) does not believe ether is a security, despite the fact that the project was initially funded through an initial coin offering-style token sale. Bitcoin is the only other cryptocurrency that the SEC has explicitly said is not a security.

CBOE’s rush to list the first ethereum futures is not surprising. Executives including CBOE President Chris Concannon had, even in the days after listing bitcoin futures, expressed their desire to launch an entire suite of cryptocurrency products, and listing ethereum futures is the natural next step in accomplishing this goal.

The creation of ethereum futures will doubtless help legitimize ether as a financial instrument. However, particularly in the short-term, they could also be a double-edged sword since they will make it much easier to short the ethereum price. As CCN reported, many analysts including researchers at the U.S. Federal Reserve attributed the start of the cryptocurrency market decline to heavy shorting in bitcoin futures markets.

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