Report: Singapore’s Wealth Fund GIC Among Those to Raise 300 Mln for Coinbase in 2018

Report: Singapore’s Wealth Fund GIC Among Those to Raise $300 Mln for Coinbase in 2018

                               

Singapore’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC)

was reportedly one of the investors to have helped raise $300 million for major United States crypto wallet provider and exchange service Coinbase in 2018. Bloomberg reported the news on Feb. 28, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter. According to its official website, GIC — which was founded to manage Singapore’s foreign reserves — has in excess of $100 billion assets in over 40 countries worldwide.

As reported, Coinbase revealed it had raised $300 million in a Series E equity financing round in October 2018, brining its post-money valuation at the time to $8 billion. With the round led by investment firm Tiger Global Management, Coinbase further disclosed at the time a host of backers well-known for their investments in the crypto industry — such as Y Combinator Continuity, Wellington Management, Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain, among others. Singapore’s GIC was not among those investors named.

To press time, neither Coinbase nor GIC have responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment. Bloomberg also cites documents reportedly seen by the news agency last year, which are alleged to have indicated that Coinbase forecast its 2018 revenue at almost $1.3 billion — mostly derived from trading platform commissions and its proprietary crypto asset holdings. In summer 2018 — amid the protracted bear market — analysts judged that revenue generated by crypto exchanges would more than double to hit $4 billion in 2018, with Coinbase estimated to account for 50 percent of the transaction revenue pool.

As Bloomberg notes, the reported entrance of a major state investment fund such as GIC into the crypto sector appears to align with a growing tide of large-scale stalwart investors — including the prestigious Ivy League university endowments at Yale and Harvard — backing the innovative asset class. Notably, as Cointelegraph wrote in Nov. 18, GIC is reported to have joined Singapore government-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte in backing enterprise blockchain software firm and global banking consortium R3. This month, digital asset management fund Grayscale Investments’ latest crypto investment report revealed that the share of its capital inflow from institutional investors is on the rise.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/report-singapores-wealth-fund-gic-among-those-to-raise-300-mln-for-coinbase-in-2018

 

Blockchain and Crypto in the Labor Market: Overview of Salaries Taxes and the Most In-Demand Jobs

Blockchain and Crypto in the Labor Market: Overview of Salaries, Taxes and the Most In-Demand Jobs

                                 

Over the past months, the cryptocurrency market has been demonstrating bearish sentiment,

with crypto prices falling to a yearly lows. This is making some blockchain companies rethink their business models and cut employees. However, the slump didn’t prevent the blockchain industry from experiencing a human resources boom, as evidenced by an active growth of vacancies associated with blockchain and digital assets, according to the latest study by recruiting site Glassdoor.

Increase in demand for blockchain-related jobs

As estimated by LinkedIn analysts, 645 vacancies tagged with the words “blockchain,” “Bitcoin,” or “cryptocurrency” were published on the site in 2016. By 2017, this value has surged to approximately 1,800 and to 4,500 vacancies by mid-May of this year. As of now, LinkedIn’s search system displays 13,816 records related to blockchain and 2,479 records related to cryptocurrency.

These estimates are supported by recent data published by Glassdoor’s recruitment portal. As of August 2018, United States companies had posted 1,775 vacancies related to blockchain technology, which is three times more compared to the previous year. As noted in the Glassdoor report, 79 percent of the vacancies are concentrated in the 15 largest American cities, and the most saturated demand regions show that New York and San Francisco account for 24 percent and 21 percent of the total number of crypto-industry job openings. The current total number of blockchain and cryptocurrency vacancies worldwide has grown to around 3,000 and 900 correspondingly.

Software developers are the highest demanded occupation, with 19 percent of vacancies published by employers seeking employees falling into this category. In addition to programmers and technical specialists in the crypto industry, there is a shortage of product managers, risk analysts and marketing specialists. Traders and investment analysts are not among the most sought-after professionals in the crypto industry. But there are more and more vacancies for specialists in new disciplines that have appeared in the wake of blockchain technology’s popularity — “Decentralized Finance,” “Decentralized Internet,” and “Security Hardware.”

However, if taking into consideration the last three months, a fuller picture looks partially different. According to the extended analytics shared by job-search platform Indeed with Cointelegraph, from October 2017 to October 2018, job-seeker interest for roles related to Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency declined by 3 percent, while employer interest for roles related to the same terms only rose (25.49 percent), which was different than the interest levels from the year before by both parties. If looking at data from 2016 to 2017, job-seeker interest for roles related to Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency rose by 481.61 percent, while employer interest for roles related to the same terms rose by 325 percent. The following graph shows both the growth of job-seeker interest in jobs with these keywords and the growth of job postings for jobs with these keywords for that time period.

Today, IBM, ConsenSys and Oracle have the greatest need for qualified personnel. Each of them has more than 200 corresponding vacancies, as Glassdoor reports. They became strong competitors of the industry leaders like crypto exchanges, among which Coinbase and Kraken have the greatest need for qualified personnel. The list of major employers for blockchain professionals has also been joined by larger consulting firms Accenture and KPMG. At the same time, the lack of vacancies related to blockchain from such giants as Facebook, Google and Apple could be noted. The need for crypto industry experts isn’t a uniquely American phenomenon. In August, Cointelegraph reported a 50 percent increase in the number of vacancies associated with blockchain and cryptocurrency in Australia, India, Singapore and Malaysia compared with 2017. At the same time, developers who are proficient in the Python programming language are among the most desirable candidates.

“Half-a-million-dollar” jobs and “insane” packages

The lack of qualified personnel means higher salaries for blockchain specialists. As estimated by Glassdoor, the average base salary for such employees is $84,884 a year. This is 62 percent higher than the average wage in the United States ($52,461 per year). At the same time, the variation in salaries ranges from $36,046 for junior developers to $223,667 a year for qualified software engineers. Blockchain developers with three to five years of experience can earn “half-a-million-dollars” a year, according to Blockchain Developers recruitment agency. At the same time, analysts suggest that newcomers can count on a salary “definitely well over $120,000.”

Company executives also noted the increase in salaries in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. According to David Schwartz, chief cryptographer at Ripple, the hiring packages have "gotten insane" since “ICOs dumped a bunch of money on the industry.” In particular, a couple of Ripple developers received “$1 million signing bonus offers,” Schwartz disclosed. Notably, the current average salary of software engineer at Ripple is $125,000, as estimated by Glassdoor. Given the fact that the same job was paid $85,000 in May 2018, according to Paysa, it doesn’t seem the crypto market prices affect the developers salaries, at least not at Ripple.

Some employers attribute the decline in the quality of products produced by developers to the increase in salaries. According to Alex Ferrara, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, which invests in crypto funds, such an “overeagerness” is “impacting the pace of development. A lot of these projects are way behind on their launch schedules.” The current realities of the blockchain industry has been continuously battered by a declining cryptocurrency market, which is partially responsible for the tightening of staff shortages. As raising funds through ICO became more accessible than crowdfunding, qualified specialists prefer to launch their own projects and begin to assemble their development teams, as was the case with Amber Baldet. The leader of JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain team left the company on April 2 to start her own project. As a result of such “forks” inside companies, the shortage of personnel is becoming increasingly acute.

Who needs salaries in crypto?

The popularity of cryptocurrency as a means of remuneration is also growing, although not as quickly. On Sept. 17, HR startup Chronobank published the results of its survey of 445 crypto enthusiasts from around the world, including the U.S., Australia and Russia. The respondents were asked in which currency they preferred to receive wages. Two-thirds (66 percent) of them stated that they were ready to be paid for work in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The majority (83 percent) of respondents indicated they were supportive of receiving their bonus payments in digital money. Of the individuals interviewed, 72 percent said that, when choosing their next job, they would prefer an employer who offered the possibility of paying salaries in cryptocurrency.

One-fifth of the respondents indicated that they would exchange cryptocurrency, received as wages, for traditional money. Notably, half of the respondents believe that if they receive a salary in cryptocurrency, they will spend less than they do now. The results of the latest survey conducted by peer-to-peer (p2p) platform Humans.net demonstrated the high level of interest and readiness among U.S. citizens to get paid in cryptocurrencies. Eleven percent of 1,100 freelancers responded that they would like to have their salaries be paid in digital money, and 18 percent expressed their desire to receive a part of their wages in crypto.

Today, wages in cryptocurrency are popular mainly inside the industry. On Aug.18 TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington tweeted that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao told him that 90 percent of the company's employees preferred to receive a salary in the platform’s native token, Binance Coin (BNB).In December 2017, GMO Internet, a Tokyo-based IT giant, announced its plans to start paying salaries in cryptocurrency. The company intended to pay up to 100,000 yen ($884) of over 4,000 employees monthly salary in Bitcoin. Bitcoin.com also offers its employees the opportunity to get paid in Bitcoin Cash, given the information from job openings located on its website.

However, cryptocurrency wage payment goes beyond the industry. In August, semi-professional football club "Gibraltar United" announced plans to pay its players a salary with a cryptocurrency called Quantocoin. Club owner Pablo Dan believes that the use of cryptocurrency provides greater transparency and, most importantly, simplifies financial relations with foreign footballers playing for the club. Experts believe that the salaries in cryptocurrency will help international companies attract remote foreign specialists.

“Several U.S.-based companies are paying their international workers in Bitcoin, as it can save both the company and the employee money,” Bloomberg Law analysts suggest. According to the statistics published on the company’s website, nearly 200 companies use Bitwage, a service allowing employees and freelancers to receive payments in cryptocurrency. As estimated by Bloomberg Law, about 65 percent of Bitwage clients are U.S. companies, and 95 percent are using it for paying wages to international workers.

The current statistics, located on the Bitwage’s website, shows that over $31 million has been paid to employees by the companies through this service. Among the clients mentioned are Google, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb. For some people, cryptocurrency payments become more than just a new way to carry out the transactions. Workers in such regions like Latin America, which might not have a matured banking system or stable currency, are given the ability to be paid in cryptocurrencies. For example, developers in Venezuela got more business opportunities and revenues with the advent of Bitcoin. However, receiving wages in cryptocurrency may involve tax liability.

Tax liabilities

The main obstacle to the spread of cryptocurrency salaries remains the lack of clearly defined legislation, including tax rules. Today, the regulatory approaches of different countries and their views on the taxation of digital money vary greatly. In the European Union, there are no special rules for regulating activities related to digital money, and the taxation of crypto transactions is regulated by the national legislation of each country. As a result, in France, digital currencies are subject to capital gains taxes, with fees of 14-45 percent. Germany doesn’t charge any taxes as long as cryptocurrency is used as a means of payment. Bitcoin has no established legal status in the U.K,, but is commonly treated as a foreign currency for most purposes, including value-added and goods-and-service taxes.

Asian countries offer a different approach to taxation of crypto-related activity. In Singapore, if digital currencies are part of the taxpayer's investment portfolio, then the profits from selling them are not taxed, since they are considered capital gains. Notably, Bitcoin is recognized not as money but as a service, and therefore a tax on goods and services (local analogue to VAT) is applied to it. In China, cryptocurrency transactions are subject to income tax and capital gains tax, and revenues are subject to taxation. Japanese individuals are charged from 15 to 55 percent for any activity related to Bitcoin. In Australia, cryptocurrency transactions are subject to income tax. In Canada, they are subject to income and capital gains tax, with up to 50 percent of the revenue charged. In the U.S., cryptocurrency owners pay taxes on digital money as they would on property.

Blockchain in recruitment

As blockchain technology and cryptocurrency give birth to new jobs, business models reliant on third-party involvement may become increasingly outdated. The bottom line is that smart contracts — decentralized, digitized commercial agreements — control the fulfillment of obligations by all parties and manage all essential financial flows. As a result, the third-party services of various kinds of intermediaries may no longer be required. Meanwhile, mediation services constitute a large segment of the modern economy. After all, in traditional contracts used by banks, brokers, authorities, realtors and others, it is the intermediary that describes the terms of the transaction, draws up the document template, monitors the execution of an agreement, and appropriates a significant part of the payment.

Smart contracts automatically coordinate and ensure the interests of all parties, almost instantly and free-of-charge. Moreover, the inability to change information in the blockchain provides the highest level of security to all participants in the transaction, eliminating the possibility of data manipulation and deception. Basically, one smart contract can replace a room full of corporate lawyers, realtors, recruiters, risk managers and other professionals whose work essentially boils down to the formal assessment of documents.

In addition to regulating labor relations inside the company, blockchain technology can become a magic pill for the freelancing industry. During the past couple of years, the scale of remote work around the world has increased significantly, and the sector is expected to continue to expand. Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich calculated that in a couple of years, 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers. However, this could lead to a number of issues since freelancers are not considered to be full-time employees, which means that they remain outside the scope of health insurance, pensions and other social benefits. Moreover, they are forced to use the services of aggregator sites, which primarily focus on the interests of the customer, and not the freelancers themselves. In addition, such platforms like Upwork charge up to 20 percent for a bill, and payments for the work performed are often delayed.

Some projects use the advantages of blockchain technology to solve the problems that currently plague the freelance economy. Some provide freelancers with service where blockchain is leveraged to ensure paid vacation and sick pay when needed. Other solutions offer a blockchain-based system for resolving disputes between customers and freelancers. Some platforms are deploying blockchain-powered Human Resource Bank to allow p2p matching of potential employers with contractors on the basis of verifiability of all user data, and excluding the possibility of falsification. The use of blockchain technologies in social networks and internet sites for freelancers demonstrates the high demand of the industry for new solutions using advanced technologies and cryptocurrencies. The exclusion of intermediaries, direct communication, reputation systems is what the blockchain brings to the labor industry.

What's next

The pace of development and the integration of blockchain and cryptocurrency in everyday life will likely depend on the position and attitude of national governments. Countries with a friendly position on cryptocurrency are already leaders in the use of blockchain technology. Florida residents pay for property taxes, driver's licenses, ID cards and car numbers in cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash — using the BitPay payment system. The corresponding decree has been approved by the State Department of Taxes.

Meanwhile, in 2017, China banned cryptocurrency trading, ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges, and the result was a tenfold decrease in the circulation of cryptocurrencies. According to the country's central bank, the yuan's share in the Bitcoin market fell from 90 percent to 1 percent, and 88 crypto exchanges and 85 blockchain startups that had been operating in China since autumn 2017 left the country. In such conditions, the numbers of those who want to receive a salary in Bitcoin may also gradually drop.

Another factor, which may impact the adoption of cryptocurrency in the labor market, is the price of digital currency. As of now, most cryptocurrencies are volatile, and that dramatically cools the enthusiasm of workers regarding the payments of wages in digital currency. As the sector continues to develop, mature and adhere to government-mandated regulations, the number of workers choosing to receive their wages in Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies may become more and more common. Raj Mukherjee, senior vice president of products at Indeed,

told Cointelegraph:

“While over the last few years, Indeed saw a steady rise in job-seeker interest for roles related to cryptocurrency, our data shows that job searches for these roles really picked up around the time when the cost of Bitcoin was at its highest. Since then, job-seeker interest has gone down, but still remains strong.”

On the other hand, the demand for specialists capable of solving specific tasks will grow. Stephane Kasriel,

CEO of Upwork said:

“In just a few years, more than 30 percent of the workforce’s essential skills will be new. We’re seeing that shift take place on Upwork, where new and emerging skills like blockchain surface on a monthly basis."

Large corporations like IBM and Microsoft have been willing to invest for the long term in blockchain by expanding hiring over the last year. The trend of mid-2018 will likely continue moving to smaller companies, as experts predict. Though the overall number of applications posted by job-seekers has declined by 3 percent since last year, the continuous fall in cryptocurrencies’ prices hasn’t affected the interest that companies seeking blockchain specialists have demonstrated.

Article Produced By
Julia Magas

Julia is good at analysing cryptocurrency and blockchain market, as well as finding the deep and most demanding information, even when it's practically impossible. Julia writes for a number of digital information resources, raging from music to technology and game reviews. Practices some trading for experimental and analytical purposes.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/blockchain-and-crypto-in-the-labor-market-overview-of-salaries-taxes-and-the-most-in-demand-jobs

Cowboys on the Block: Inside Wyoming’s Race for Crypto Prominence

Cowboys on the Block: Inside Wyoming’s Race for Crypto Prominence

                               

In the first month of 2019, the state of Wyoming

has performed yet another series of power moves showcasing its continued commitment to becoming America’s new crypto hub, even despite recent changes in political leadership. The incoming governor, Mark Gordon, made room for some blockchain talk in his inauguration speech, celebrating the state’s innovative approach to regulation and touting a handful of homegrown startups. Over the next couple of weeks, Wyoming’s legislature erupted with a series of groundbreaking crypto-related bills that is only comparable to a similar wave in March of last year.

America’s least populous state, whose economy has been always skewed toward mining and agriculture, looks determined as ever to deliver on the promise to become the nation’s “crypto valley.” Consonant with this jaunty tune, blockchain startups have indeed started pouring into the area. Perhaps Wyoming’s biggest signing this year so far is the relocation of Iohk, the company behind the Cardano blockchain.

The sweeping changes that the Cowboy State’s lawmakers have recently passed or introduced as bills include defining three categories of digital assets and treating them as property; granting assets designated as virtual currencies the same legal status as money; authorizing banks to hold digital assets in custody; allowing corporations to issue certificate tokens that represent shares; and creating a regulatory fintech sandbox aimed at further diminishing any regulatory hurdles to industry startups. These developments look more radical than many of the other states’ recent blockchain-savvy moves, as they often explicitly challenge a variety of disparate federal approaches to crypto regulation.

Celebrating the news of another revolutionary piece of crypto legislation from Wyoming, one could wonder: Is this for real? Are they serious about this? What is it they are really shooting for? Putting Wyoming’s newfound crypto drive in a broader context could shed some light on how and why the state of ranchers and miners decided to boldly reach out to the crypto industry.

Courting the giants

It is not unprecedented for a small state far removed from traditional technology and financial hubs to be courting a burgeoning new industry amid regulatory uncertainty — something that often happens after the initial period of explosive growth. Once a state is willing to tweak its laws to provide a greenhouse level of care and protection to a particular class of enterprises, moving from the comfort of coastal urban areas into some windy plains doesn’t seem like

that much trouble any more.

An unlikely romance between Citibank and South Dakota provides a textbook example. In the early 1980s, when the initial gold rush of early credit card lending business began stalling under the weight of regulations — such as strict interest rate caps — policymakers in the Midwestern state saw their chance. Taking advantage of a Supreme Court ruling that allowed banks to charge the highest interest rate allowed in their home state, South Dakota introduced a batch of lax banking laws and invited banks to feel themselves at home. In 1981, Citibank was the first to respond to the call, bringing thousands of new jobs into the area. The city of Sioux Falls now has about 20,000 financial sector jobs, while South Dakota holds more bank assets than any other state.

Another place in the United States that definitely knows how to attract out-of-state enterprises is Delaware. Its hospitality extends beyond just tech businesses, or any specific kinds of businesses, for that matter — the state has long been known as a tax haven and is now home to almost a half of all U.S. public corporations. More recently, it has seen a surge in limited liability corporations (LLC) registration, thanks to relative ease of incorporation and a small flat LLC tax. Delaware also has a far-reaching statewide blockchain initiative, which apparently became the inspiration for one of the fresh Wyoming bills. Against the background of the already highly welcoming corporate climate, however, Delaware’s set of blockchain-friendly policies inevitably looks less salient than the Cowboy State’s legislative onslaught.

Underlying interests

So, how exactly does the influx of digital-money businesses promise to benefit Wyoming? Perhaps the simplest hunch is that the state is looking to capitalize on registration and incorporation fees. Delaware’s example is enticing: Once you have a steady stream of newcomers from all over the place, you can enter a virtuous circle by keeping the fees low and attracting even more enterprises. State Rep. Tyler Lindholm, who has been behind most of Wyoming’s key blockchain legislation, openly admitted to looking at the Northeastern state as a benchmark, and noted that his state was making about $30 million in fees, against Delaware’s $1.2 billion.

If there is one thing that is potentially more lucrative than attracting a whole new industry to your jurisdiction, it is harboring a new industry that barely exists elsewhere. This is basically what the digital asset custody bill does. By authorizing banks to administer digital assets under the new regulatory framework, Wyoming sets out to reach an ambitious goal of enabling them to comply with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) regulations for “qualified custodians.” This is nothing less than a bid to establish a regulatory environment that would allow for the entirely new class of services to emerge within the state: digital asset custody.

It is worth noting that Wyoming’s attraction to blockchain technology is not a standalone phenomenon, but rather a part of a larger effort to diversify the economy. The official commitment to expanding the state’s technology sector is at least seven years old, while theEconomically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) program was established in 2017. It was the ENDOW executive council that included recommendations for legislative action on several technological initiatives last year, including a series of blockchain-related bills.

One more reason to double down on blockchain liberalization has been the flight of money transmitters from the state over the last few years — and the need to get them back.  Contrary to the proclaimed tech-friendly spirit, the Wyoming Money Transmitters Act, which was passed in 2011 and came into full effect in 2014, imposed cumbersome licensing requirements on crypto exchanges. This forced Coinbase and a handful of others to halt their operations in the state by 2015. The series of laws enacted last March included provisions that crypto exchanges be exempted from the money transmission laws. A few months later, Coinbase returned to Wyoming.

Wyoming Blockchain Coalition

If some important legislative developments have taken place somewhere in the U.S., probably someone has lobbied for it. Lurking behind all the news reports of Wyoming’s blockchain regulation advancements is the group called the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, as well as the names of several of its prominent members. Among them, Caitlin Long is the undisputed headliner.

A Wyoming native with a passion for “honest ledgers,” Long spent more than two decades working for the likes of Morgan Stanley before heading the blockchain startup Symbiont. Having realized that she couldn’t legally donate to the University of Wyoming in crypto, Long got the idea that the state law could use some improvement. That’s how the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition came about. Consisting initially of Long and a few of her friends, the group eventually drew in many of the state’s forward-thinking notables. Their names can now be found among those who sponsored the groundbreaking bills.

Not only are some state politicians members of the coalition, they are also personally invested in local blockchain enterprises. Sen. Ogden Driskill became involved last year with BeefChain — a Wyoming-based startup that is building an immutable ledger designed to track free-range cattle. Another legislator who often makes headlines in crypto media, Rep. Tyler Lindholm, acts as the chief of ranching operations for the same company.

It appears that Wyoming’s impressive push for blockchain leadership relies on several major ingredients. There is evidently a consensus among the elites as to the urgent need for expanding and promoting the state’s technology sector — and somehow they decided that the trendy distributed ledger technology might be their best bet. There is also a tried and tested strategy for small states that are eager to get ahead: tailoring legislation to the needs of whomever they are betting on. Yet, even when all the structural factors are in place, things are unlikely to work unless there are leaders on the ground, who value and understand the innovation they are pushing for. With the blockchain-savvy ranchers of Wyoming, this seems to be the case.

Article Produced By
Kirill Bryanov

Kirill Bryanov is a PhD researcher at Lousiana State University. His scholarly interests center on political and societal implications of communication technology, with a focus on blockchain-powered decentalized architectures.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/cowboys-on-the-block-inside-wyomings-race-for-crypto-prominence

ETH Futures Case: The Industry’s Feedback to CFTC Reviewed

ETH Futures Case: The Industry’s Feedback to CFTC, Reviewed

              

On Feb. 17, the United States Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

stopped accepting public comments regarding the Ethereum (ETH) mechanism. Previously, as 2018 was drawing to a close, the agency requested the feedback on the cryptocurrency to better understand the technology and how it compares to Bitcoin (BTC). The CFTC, which oversees the futures and options market in the U.S., has long determined that Bitcoin is a commodity, and therefore falls into its regulatory purview. In December 2017, the agency allowed two major regulated exchanges — the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) — to list BTC futures on their platforms. Now, given that Ethereum, like Bitcoin, has been cleared of being classified as a security, the watchdog might be preparing to greenlight Ethereum futures contracts.

Around 30 public comments were submitted in response to the CFTC’s request: Coinbase, Circle and Craig Wright were among respondents

On Dec. 11, the CFTC announced it was seeking public comments and guidance regarding the Ethereum network. Specifically, the agency required the feedback to better understand the cryptocurrency and its underlying technology, as well as the differences and similarities between Ethereum and Bitcoin, including the “opportunities, challenges, and risks” associated with the altcoin.

Further, on Dec. 17, the regulator followed up on its initial statement and published a respective Request for Information (RFI) with the Federal Register in order to collect the information. The CFTC requested public comments on 25 different questions regarding Ethereum — namely its security and market features, as well as use cases of applications based on its network. The agency also noted that it oversees the commodity futures markets as per the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), meaning that the CFTC will most likely use the comments to assess the possibility of approving Ethereum futures. The watchdog

wrote:

“The Commission is seeking public feedback in furtherance of oversight of these markets and regulatory policy development. The input from this request will advance the CFTC’s mission of ensuring the integrity of the derivatives markets as well as monitoring and reducing systemic risk by enhancing legal certainty in the markets.”

Moreover, the CFTC noted that the results of the RFI will also be used by its fintech initiative dubbed LabCFTC. Founded in May 2017, LabCFTC is a dedicated hub for “engagement with the fintech innovation community,” aiming to examine “new regulatory fintech developments in the marketplace,” as previously explained by CFTC Chairman Christopher Giancarlo. Finally, the 60-day deadline was announced as well, as the document stated that comments must be sent not later than Feb. 17, 2019.

According to the CFTC website, a total of 43 entries were submitted by the public before the deadline. After taking a closer look, it becomes clear that 14 of those entries are either advertisements, generally irrelevant comments or identical copies of other statements. Hence, only 29 RFI entries represent comments on Ethereum submitted by the public. Those were filed by industry participants such as Coinbase, Circle, ConsenSys and Craig Wright, among others. Here is the list of selected, generalized questions proposed by the CFTC, along with answers from certain crypto companies and trading associations.

How do the current functionalities and capabilities of Ether and the Ethereum Network compare to those of Bitcoin?

The Ethereum Foundation: Switzerland-based nonprofit organization comprised of global team of developers

The Ethereum Foundation argued that, on the Bitcoin blockchain, each account simply stores a certain amount of Bitcoin as well as “a script in an ultra-minimal programming language that determines how to verify who has the right to spend these bitcoins.” Ethereum, on the other hand, supports the creation of smart contracts, the foundation argued. Smart contracts, in turn, are featured in applications that are “not financial in nature but simply use the blockchain as a source of high-assurance computation and data storage.”

Circle: Goldman Sachs-backed startup focused on making instant money transfers

Circle compared Bitcoin and Ethereum in the context of payment transactions, also explaining that, unlike Bitcoin, the Ethereum network supports additional tokens that utilize its

smart contracts feature:

"As with bitcoin, Ether can be used to pay for transactions and can be used for payments. Unlike bitcoin, tokens on the Ethereum network can be generated using smart contracts and can be used in smart contracts and transfers."

The Futures Industry Association: international trade organization for the futures industry with around 180 corporate members

The Futures Industry Association (FIA) also suggested that Ethereum is generally more versatile than Bitcoin, but warned the CFTC to measure additional risks caused by this difference.

The association stated:

"With the Ethereum Network’s architecture, risk management is potentially more complicated than for Bitcoin by orders of magnitude. Whereas Bitcoin is a payment unit on a shared and distributed ledger for transactions, Ether is a unit of work on a distributed functionality tool that offers super-computing power on the Ethereum Network, in exchange for value.”

Craig Wright: leader of Bitcoin SV, nChain chief scientist and self-proclaimed “Satoshi Nakamoto”

Craig Wright also reached out to the CFTC with a comment. Notably, in the introduction, he reiterated his previous claim that he is actually the original inventor of Bitcoin. Further, Wright harshly criticized Ethereum while arguing that Bitcoin can also support smart contracts in theory, but that ability was allegedly damaged by its

core developers:

"Ethereum is a poorly designed copy of bitcoin designed with the purpose of completing the promise of smart contracts and scripting that were delivered within bitcoin but which were hobbled by the core developers of bitcoin."

Would transitioning ETH to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus make it more prone to manipulation?

The Futures Industry Association Principal Traders Group: FIA’s lobby group that represents principal traders

The FIA’s Principal Traders Group suggested that, hypothetically, if Ethereum fully migrates to the PoS model, a participant could open up multiple validator accounts on its blockchain to their benefit. However, the community will still hold enough instruments to deal with such manipulation, the trading association argued, citing Vitalik’s views on

the proof-of-stake design:

“If a malicious group of validators attempted to prevent others from joining or executed a 51% attack, the community would simply coordinate a hard fork and slash the offending validators’ deposits. See Vitalik’s proof-of-stake design philosophy, where he addressed this issue, here.”

ConsenSys: blockchain tech company led by Joseph Lubin, Ethereum co-founder

ConsenSys argued that, “under the current proof?of?stake plans for the Ethereum Network,” the risk that someone succeeds in manipulating the Ethereum Protocol is low, and even lower than under the current proof-of-work

(PoW) system:

“In particular, any party that stakes ether to validate blocks on the Ethereum Network will have less of an ability to directly impact the network, even relative to their proportional ‘staked wealth,’ than miners on proof?of?work protocols relative to their proportional hash power. In fact, […] under the Ethereum Network’s planned proof?of?stake protocol, even if a validator controlled 1/3 of the entire ether staked in the protocol, the validator’s probability of obtaining enough control to do damage is less than one in one trillion.”

Circle

Circle also agreed that the PoS-based network is generally safer than PoW, arguing that the community would notice any suspiciously rapid increase in

the token’s value:

“Additionally, there may not be enough of a given PoS-based token’s supply on exchanges, so sourcing the liquidity necessary to purchase a majority of tokens may not even be possible.”

Craig Wright

The self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto argued that “there is no working proof of stake-model,” and that “all proof of stake mechanisms collapse into single-user control and allow alteration rather than the creation of an immutable record.” He cited his experience of testing “the equivalent a proof of stake mechanisms” in 2003-2007 to support those statements.

What impediments or risks exist to the reliable conversion of Ether to legal tender?

ErisX: Chicago-based, Wall Street-backed crypto exchange

ErisX noted that Ethereum owners face certain problems like price volatility and liquidity risk related to finding ready counterparties with offsetting interest when looking to cash out on their tokens, “which is similar to other assets that are not legal tender.” Further, the exchange compared Ethereum to gold in the sense that it is difficult to convert both of those assets into the legal tender physically, while future contracts significantly

simplify that task:

“The efficiency that futures contracts introduce into the gold market enables gold owners to convert their assets into legal tender more efficiently and at better prices than may otherwise be available in the absence of the futures contract. Regulated futures markets can be similarly expected to benefit the Ether market.”

Coinbase: major U.S. crypto exchange

Coinbase essentially used this question to remind the agency that most risks associated with the conversion of cryptocurrencies into legal tender exist due to the unregulated nature of the crypto market. Ideally, the exchange continued, all trading platforms must follow thorough Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) policies, among

other factors.

“As with any freely-traded asset, the price of Ether can fluctuate based on a variety of factors. The greater the percentage of volume trading on the exchanges with capabilities listed above, the more that the market price will reflect true supply and demand for the product.”

Circle

Circle appeared more confident about the conversion of Ethereum into legal tender:

“There are not many impediments or risks associated with converting Ether to and from legal tender. Ethereum is one of the most liquid crypto assets available on spot trading platforms, and there are numerous trading platforms that also contain fiat on-ramps, including Coinbase, Gemini, Kraken, Bitstamp, itBit, HBUS (Huobi), and others.”

How would the listing or trading of derivative contracts on Ether affect the cryptocurrency itself?

ErisX

ErisX stressed that the introduction of a regulated futures contract on Ethereum “would have a positive impact on the growth and maturation of the market,”

adding:

“The introduction of standardized futures contracts […] may have the effect of making the market more accessible, at lower risk, with lower volatility, for a larger, broader diversity of actors. This includes the potential for greater liquidity, more effective price discovery, and more efficient risk transference. A higher quality market invites greater participation, which can lead to increased quality in a positive feedback loop.”

Circle

“Generally, we believe the listing and trading of derivative contracts would be orthogonal to the functionality of the Ethereum Network, as networks are designed to be used independent of the existence of trading markets for their respective tokens,” Circle noted. The startup, however, continued by stressing that, under sufficient scrutiny provided by the CFTC, the risks associated with Ethereum derivative contracts should be mitigated.

Coinbase

The U.S. exchange argued that financially settled futures products “would not likely have a substantial impact on the Ethereum network.” In fact, Coinbase added, it could reduce price volatility, which, in turn, could result in “greater commercial usage.”

Conclusion:

CFTC received mostly positive comments, large crypto players ask to regulate the industry

Overall, the CFTC received mostly positive feedback from crucial crypto and futures industry participants. The negative comments were provided mostly by a private individual — who put “Ethereum Fraud” under his company name, arguing that listing ETH futures would “validate fraud,” among other things — and Craig Wright.

The message from major U.S. crypto players such as Circle and Coinbase was clear: The industry needs more definite regulatory measures from the watchdogs. Interestingly, last week, CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz suggested that participants in the cryptocurrency market should create a self-regulatory structure, citing the CFTC’s lack of crypto statutory oversight capability. As Cointelegraph previously reported, the CFTC’s progress in reviewing Ethereum could have been significantly delayed due to the U.S. government shutdown in January.

Article Produced By
Stephen O'Neal

Stephen O'Neal is a Sociology major from Leeds. He's passionate about crypto and all the stuff you can spend it on.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/coinbase-wallet-users-can-now-back-up-their-private-keys-on-google-drive-and-icloud-how-safe-is-it

Parity Developer Quits Ethereum Projects Amid Outrage Sparked by Recent Tweet

Parity Developer Quits Ethereum Projects Amid Outrage Sparked by Recent Tweet

               

Afri Schoeden, release manager at blockchain infrastructure firm

Parity Technologies, has quit all Ethereum projects after a controversial tweet that sparked outrage on social media. Schoeden spoke to blockchain media BreakerMag on Thursday, Feb. 21. In his tweet, Schoeden reportedly criticized Serenity, also known as “Ethereum 2.0” — a final upgrade for the Ethereum network that brings its mainnet over to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. The tweet, which has since been deleted,

reportedly read:

“Polkadot delivers what Serenity ought to be…”

Polkadot is Parity’s upcoming protocol aimed at linking different blockchains. Schoedon told BreakerMag that he will “no longer work on Ethereum or Ethereum-related projects,” but will remain with Parity. He explained the meaning of the recent

tweet:

“Polkadot is not a direct competitor to Ethereum and chains like Ethereum were always an integral part of the Polkadot vision. The focus of my tweet wasn’t Polkadot or competition, but Serenity, which is, in my eyes, rolled out too slowly, and I fear that it [won’t] matter anymore once we get there. People didn’t get that, and only I am to blame for not getting the message straight.”

Moreover, Schoeden believes that the Ethereum community needs to find some shared values and

goals:

“I also fear that Preethi [Kasireddy] was right last year when she said that we might need to talk about the values (again) to find out what the community really stands for.”

Following the controversial tweet, users immediately accused the developer of “betrayal,” along with “sabotaging” Ethereum from within and having a conflict of interest. Schoeden subsequently clarified that the discussions forced him to quit

Ethereum:

"I did not quit social media, I quit Ethereum. I did not go dark, I just left the community. I am no longer coordinating hard forks, building testnets, or contributing otherwise. I did not work on Polkadot, I never did, I worked on Ethereum. I did not hate Ethereum, I loved it."

The pre-release of Ethereum 2.0 kicked off in early February. The Constantinople hard fork, an upgrade to the Ethereum, network — which encloses separate Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) in order to soften the transition from the current proof-of-work (PoW) to PoS — is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Constantinople faced its first delay in October 2018 due to a consensus issue that was detected on the Ropsten testnet. In January, smart contract audit firm ChainSecurit found a vulnerability in the Constantinople hard fork. The critical issue, which could have allowed for reentrancy attacks via the use of certain commands in Ethereum smart contracts, caused another dealy. Blockchain entrepreneur Andreas Kristof even insinuated that Schoeden was directly responsible for Serenity’s delay.

Article Produced By
Ana Berman

https://cointelegraph.com/news/liechtensteins-bank-frick-launches-institutional-crypto-trading-platform

Why Bitcoin Ethereum and the Entire Crypto Market Are Down in Value

Why Bitcoin, Ethereum and the Entire Crypto Market Are Down in Value

              

The way I see it, investors — and specifically in Q4 — wanted to buy Bitcoin (BTC)

and Ethereum (ETH) for the sole purpose of exchanging it for specific ICO tokens they wanted to invest in. The buyers of Bitcoin and Ethereum did not want to own Bitcoin or Ethereum. They wanted to buy the newly issued initial coin offering (ICO) tokens, but they needed to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum as a short way to get what they ultimately wanted. The owners of Bitcoin and Ethereum did not want to sell. They were watching the price of their holdings increase, so why would they? They were also believers in Bitcoin and Ethereum. So, in a “bid-ask world,” the price went up.

Then, those startup companies that completed their ICOs became whales, which began — as a group — to unload their tokens in December and January, thereby flipping the dynamic of the huge demand for Bitcoin and Ethereum to all sellers of Bitcoin and Ethereum. After the New Year’s hangover faded, the startups needed to exchange their crypto for fiat in order to pay engineers and build their startups.

Then, it was a run-on-the-bank panic. Pressure from the United States regulators in Q3 and Q4 of 2017 resulted in a slowing and near total halt of ICOs by early 2018. After that, ICOs either stopped or radically slowed. New token issuers began to accept fiat without the need to pass through Ethereum, which killed more demand and left only sellers and “hodlers” and no buyers. In a “bid-ask world,” the market tanked. An interesting dynamic of the current market is that the prices of all cryptocurrencies are highly correlated to each other. Just look at the price of any token on CoinMarketCap, and you will notice a perfect correlation among the prices of most of them. Bitcoin and Ethereum go up and down together, and most other tokens are correlated in the same way. It shouldn’t be that way, but without any banks analyzing and reporting on these startups — the way they do for Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. — that’s the way it is for now. So, Bitcoin can raise or drop the price of your token, but it now appears that gravitational pull works in both directions.

In 2018, something else developed. It became clear that all of these funded ICOs were not diligenced by real tech experienced angels or VCs — they were mostly not tokens you would really want to invest into. Previously, all of these coins were correlated to the rising price of Bitcoin and Ethereum, but now it is dragging them down. They are all correlated, and the big section of the overall market cap is sinking the ‘crypto ship’ in general.

               

What will happen is that all of these weak startups

will eventually be flushed out, and we will be left with some decent and even amazing companies. Today, the consumer retail investors of Southeast Asia and around the world are no longer gambling and throwing cash at the latest ICO to pitch at some blockchain event — or at least not at the volumes of Q4 2017. It used to be 20 percent institutional (VC) investors and 80 percent retail. Now, it's 80 percent institutional investors, if not more. It makes sense to me that, if strongly branded VCs like a16z, Pantera Capital and 7BC.VC invest into a startup from their wide funnel of investments after conducting VC-grade due diligence, consumer retail investors will want to invest — following the VC's lead in jurisdictions where this complies with local securities law (or, in the U.S., if the startup filed an S1, Reg A+, etc.).

Now is the time for the arrival of experienced VCs to raise real VC funds, generate large volumes of deal flow, process that deal flow with fully centralized and decentralized teams qualified to conduct proper due diligence, fund the best ones, as well as help these portfolio companies execute and manage investor risk via diversification and portfolio construction. We have seen a return to sane equity funding — and not just for tokens. Investors now own equity and tokens. Some “pure play” decentralized cases require only tokens — but again with real, old-school due diligence — before just throwing money around. We are also seeing a return to market valuations, rather than a team of high school dropouts seeking a $50 million or $100 million pre-money valuation without ever having met a payroll or accomplish any substance prior to getting that kind of valuation.

The new companies to be funded in 2019 — and to be listed in 2019, 2020 and 2021 — will be far better on average than the 2017 cohort, resulting in a rebound in the market. Experienced VC-backed entrepreneurs are now working on blockchain startups, which means the population of management teams has evolved beyond the original Bitcoin anarchists.

Bitcoin itself is resilient, proven by its survival of multiple Mt. Gox-type events and numerous up-and-down cycles. The long-term curve for Bitcoin is up and to the right. After the infamous coins run out of cash and disappear, the market will become much more robust. Many of the managers became delusional due to their experience of traveling the world and completing their ICOs, thinking that BTC and ETH would only go up and up while failing to exchange enough of their crypto for fiat. Not only did they have startup risk, but they foolishly added FX (foreign exchange) risk.

So, the good news is that these weak, never-should-have-been-funded startups will run out of cash sooner than expected, because their crypto is worthless when converted to fiat than they thought at the time they completed their financings. The flushing out of these coins currently weakening the market will drive the market up. Today, startups exchange their crypto into fiat the moment they get it.

            

I also predict that we will see a few killer startups

take off and generate mass adoption, which will bring mainstream users into the crypto world and — in a gravitationally correlated world — this will lift the tide of the entire market. We will probably see some video game become a huge sensation — like Angry Birds — or something that will drive the adoption of a token. I expect to see something else come along that no one ever thought of — like Skype — that everyone begins to use, which will pull huge populations into the crypto world, as the value will just simply be there.

It is imperative that all businesses move onto the blockchain so that no party can tamper with the numbers of how many “widgets” were sold or with who gets paid what. All business, government and health care data should be on the blockchain — and pretty soon, it will be unacceptable without it to enter into a business agreement and trust the other party to tell you how many widgets were sold in China, the U.S. or Africa. Once these business transactions or elections are on the blockchain and no one can tamper with the data, all sides can trust each other. The big picture here is that the market will see a major rally and long-term trend up and to the right.

2019 might be an excellent time to invest in a blockchain-focused VC fund or invest into blockchain startups taking on-board lessons from top-performing VCs that have a strong entrepreneur-experienced investment team with experience in achieving top-quartile venture capital IRR performance and cash-on-cash performance.

Article Produced By
Andrew Romans

Andrew Romans is a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist at 7BC.VC and Rubicon Venture Capital as well as an author of two top-10 books on Venture Capital on Amazon and Masters of Blockchain.

 

https://cointelegraph.com/news/why-bitcoin-ethereum-and-the-entire-crypto-market-are-down-in-value

Vitalik Buterin Discloses His Cryptocurrency Holdings Corporate Investments and Other Potential Conflicts of Interest

Vitalik Buterin Discloses His Cryptocurrency Holdings, Corporate Investments, and Other Potential Conflicts of Interest

               

Vitalik Buterin, the founder and figurehead behind Ethereum,

recently disclosed his cryptocurrency holdings, corporate investments, and other compensation in an act of transparency, likely to disclose any potential conflicts of interest he might have.

Vitalik Buterin’s Cryptocurrency Holdings

On Feb. 19th, Vitalik Buterin disclosed his investments and compensation in a Reddit thread titled “AMA [ask me anything] about Ethereum Leadership and Accountability.” He responded with a breakdown of his investments and compensation. First, the majority of Buterin’s assets are, naturally, held in ether. Based on his primary wallet address, he holds at 350,000 ETH worth over $50 million at current prices.

That said, in a previous disclosure on Oct. 10th, 2018, on Twitter he stated “I also have some other addresses, but they’re quite small relatively speaking,” so his Ethereum holdings likely exceed the amount listed above. His non-Ethereum-related holdings are as follows: Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dogecoin (DOGE), and Zcash (ZEC), worth less than 10 percent of his total ETH holdings. His ERC20 and other Ethereum-related holdings are as follows: Kyber Network (KNC), Maker (MKR), OmiseGO (OMG), and Augur (REP), worth less than 10 percent of his ETH holdings.

Vitalik Buterin did not disclose a large number of airdrop tokens (similar to spam mail, these are coins given out to holders of certain cryptocurrencies as a marketing tool). Buterin’s tokens received via airdrop are worth more than $2,000 at current prices. Based on an Etherscan of Buterin’s main wallet, his OmiseGO holdings total $40,000 at current prices. In another wallet that is also likely Buterin’s, there are holdings of $693,000 in Maker, $625,000 in Augur (Reputation), another $25,000 in OmiseGO, $25,000 in Kyber Network, and $11,000 in Trustcoin. The addresses of Buterin’s wallets were not disclosed in the statement, so the real figures may differ.

Corporate Investments and Equity

Buterin also has “significant” corporate shareholdings in two corporations, Clearmatics and StarkWare. Clearmatics is a software and blockchain research and development company, stating that its

mission is to:

“Build peer-to-peer infrastructure for a machine-driven future that is resistant to the monopoly-making tendencies of network effects inherent in today’s client-server architectures.”

Based on information from Crunchbase, Clearmatics was founded by Robert Sams and Vitalik Buterin and raised funding of $13.3 million. Understandably, the company has close ties to the Ethereum Foundation and is a member of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.

StarkWare Industries Ltd. is a software company that is attempting to solve the scalability and privacy issues around blockchains, which are “inherent problems,” according to the startup. The company raised $36 million according to Crunchbase. Buterin did not disclose the exact amounts invested, nor is it clear how much equity he holds in either company.

Other Compensation and Potential Conflicts of Interest

Buterin also mentioned that he receives a salary from the Ethereum Foundation. He did not state his current salary, but in 2016 he commented that he was receiving $150,000 per year. That said, this number could have changed since then. Finally, Buterin talked about his “non-financial” interests, including “friends in the ecosystem” represented by the previously mentioned projects and cryptocurrencies as well as ecosystem organizations including L4, Plasma Group, EthGlobal, EDCON, and some professional “cryptography and economics circles.” Overall, Buterin supports greater transparency from other projects and leaders in the Ethereum community,

stating:

“I’d definitely support more people actively involved in protocol decision-making making such statements!”

These comments by Vitalik Buterin iterate his commitment to transparency and his conviction towards building the Ethereum ecosystem. Hopefully, other ICOs and blockchain projects will follow his example.

Article Produced By

Mitchell Moos
Editorial Manager at CryptoSlate

The author of this article is invested and/or has an interest in one or more assets discussed in this post. Mitchell is a software enthusiast and entrepreneur. In addition to writing, he runs a non-profit that teaches people about the blockchain. In his spare time he loves playing chess or hiking.

https://cryptoslate.com/vitalik-buterin-discloses-his-cryptocurrency-holdings-corporate-investments-and-other-potential-conflicts-of-interest/

CEO of Japanese Finance Giant SBI Vests His Crypto Industry Hopes in Ripple and R3

CEO of Japanese Finance Giant SBI Vests His Crypto Industry Hopes in Ripple and R3

             

Yoshitaka Kitao, CEO and representative director of Japanese financial services

giant SBI Holdings, has singled out Ripple (XRP) and blockchain consortium R3 as reasons to remain optimistic about the future of the crypto industry — bear market notwithstanding. Kitao made his remarks during an interview with Japanese crypto news outlet Coin Post on Feb. 18. SBI Holdings is an active partner of Ripple via their joint venture, “SBI Ripple Asia,” established to promote the use of XRP in Asian financial markets back in 2016.

In his interview with Coin Post, Kitao underscored that the protracted crypto market slump is not to be thought of as an end to the industry, and that SBI has been working intensively to foster the adoption of XRP among financial institutions. He affirmed that the real demand for the asset’s use in cross-border remittances and settlement is already underway and will continue to burgeon— pointing to Santander’s use of Ripple’s blockchain-powered xCurrent and RippleNet platforms for international payments as an exemplary, high-profile case.

Aside from predicting that Ripple’s still-fledgling market capitalization would eventually grow to be a global standard, Kitao also made positive remarks in relation to enterprise blockchain consortium R3 — of which SBI is a member, as well as reportedly being the largest outside shareholder — as well as the R3 Corda settlement platform.

Alluding to the now-resolved legal disputes between R3 and Ripple, Kitao said he had encouraged the two former ostensible rivals”to cooperate on a joint venture, and was bullish on the potential impact of “Corda Settler” — R3’s universal payment settlement platform, which unveiled XRP as its first supported crypto in December. Among the rest of his wide-ranging remarks, Kitao said he judged the “temperature of institutional investors [in regard to crypto] to be extremely hot,” noting that surveillance and real-time data on the crypto markets are improving, as well as clearing services.

Kitao said he hoped that Japan would spearhead cryptocurrency regulation and act proactively ahead of other global markets, such as the United States. He noted that SBI was awaiting more legislative clarity from the Japan’s watchdog, the Financial Services Agency, before launching its own crypto fund for institutional investors. As previously reported, the past couple of years have seen SBI pursue multiple ventures in the crypto sector, including its own exchange — VCTRADE — alongside a series of investments in businesses developing crypto infrastructure and services. It also has its own blockchain initiative S coin platform, which it trialed for retail payments in September 2018, integrating R3 Corda technology.

In January, SBI published its nine-month financial report, which identified the implementation of R3 and Ripple technologies as a major part of its strategy. In October 2018, SBI and Ripple’s XRP-powered payments app, MoneyTap, went live for account holders at selected Japanese banks — with the eventual ambition of including a consortium of 61 institutions (representing over 80 percent of all of Japan’s banking assets) in the service.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/sec-charges-ico-with-selling-unregistered-securities-after-startup-self-reports

Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Discloses Non-ETH Crypto Holdings and Other Revenue Sources

Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Discloses Non-ETH Crypto Holdings and Other Revenue Sources

             

Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin has disclosed

that his crypto investments are virtually exclusively devoted to the Ethereum network, in a post published to an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Reddit thread on Feb. 18. The AMA post is dedicated the Ethereum leadership and accountability, asking those in leadership positions in the ETH community to share their possible conflicts of interest. In Buterin’s summary, his total holdings of non-Ethereum ecosystem tokens — comprising Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin (BTC), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Zcash (ZEC) — account for less than 10 percent of the value of his Ethereum holdings.

A further set of non-ETH Ethereum ecosystem tokens — comprised of Kyber (KNC), OmiseGo (OMG), Maker (MKR), (OMG) and Augur (REP) — are similarly reportedly collectively worth less than 10 percent of Buterin’s Ethereum (ETH) holdings. Buterin also disclosed on the AMA that he has “significant corporate shareholdings” in blockchain research and development firm Clearmatics, as well as in scalability- and privacy-focused blockchain startup Starkware. The latter notably develops cryptographic technology such as zero-knowledge proofs, of which Buterin is a vocal proponent.

Aside from this, Buterin revealed his external revenue over the past 12 months — aside from the Ethereum Foundation — was accounted for by his advisory role for the tokens disclosed in his holdings. Vitalik also discussed his non-financial involvement in other blockchain projects — including the ecosystems for the aforementioned tokens — as well as several non-token-based Ethereum-related organizations; such as L4, Plasma Group, EthGlobal and EDCON.

He is also reportedly involved in several non-token-based and non-Ethereum organizations — “mainly professional cryptography and economics circles” — which he didn’t specify. As reported, Vitalik has recently been engaged in an Ethereum developers’ discussion in regard to a new smart contract creation feature set to be released in the forthcoming Constantinople hard fork. Some community members had voiced their concerns that the feature could have negative security implications, which Buterin refuted, while emphasizing the need to evolve the feature in question with a longer roadmap in view.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/ethereums-vitalik-buterin-discloses-non-eth-crypto-holdings-and-other-revenue-sources

Indonesia’s Commodity Futures Regulator Releases Regulation for Crypto Futures Market

Indonesia’s Commodity Futures Regulator Releases Regulation for Crypto Futures Market

              

Indonesia’s commodity futures regulator has established

a legal framework for operating crypto and digital assets futures markets, according to an official press release published on Feb. 18. The Indonesian Commodity Futures Trading Supervisory Agency (Bappebti), which operates under Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade, has officially required multiple entities involved in crypto futures trading to seek regulatory approval and apply for registration before legally operating in Indonesia. The news follows the recent release of legislation that officially recognizes Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital assets as trading commodities. The Bappebti first greenlighted crypto trading as a commodity on Indonesian stock exchanges back in June 2018.

The new regulatory framework is based on a number of major rules for futures market operations, including regulation on the adoption of crypto as a tradable commodity on futures exchange markets, as well as technical provisions for placing crypto futures contracts on exchanges. The new rules require both futures exchanges and clearing houses that offer crypto futures trading to pay at least 1.5 trillion Indonesian rupiahs (IDR) or $106 million, as well as maintain a closing capital balance of at least 1.2 trillion IDR ($85 million), according to international law-focused media agency Lexology.

The rules also affect crypto futures traders and storage service providers, requiring both to maintain at least 1 trillion IDR ($71 million) and a minimum closing balance of 800 billion IDR ($57 million) before they can become officially approved to trade crypto futures. The regulation demands crypto futures exchanges to ensure compliance with security policies, requiring at least three staff members to be acquire Certified Information System Security Professionals (CISSP) certification. The entities should undergo risk management procedures, including compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and combating terrorism financing policies.

The new regulation was established in order to provide legal certainty around the crypto futures trading field, as well as to protect investors, as Head of Bappepti Indrasari Wisnu Wardhana stated, stressing that commodities futures trading intends to provide the ecosystem with support in the development of digital innovative business models. While the latest document confirms crypto as being an officially accepted tradable commodity on the futures market, Bitcoin still remains banned from being used as payment in Indonesia, following a ban imposed in 2017 by Indonesia’s central bank. According to Lexology, the regulation stressed that the new regulatory scheme cannot be applied to initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Recently, Indonesia’s crypto trading volumes have surged significantly, with Bitcoin trading volumes reaching around $730,000 on peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange LocalBitcoins during the week ending Feb. 16, according to data from Coin.Dance. Recently, Cointelegraph reported that crypto traders have negatively assessed the Indonesian regulators’ decision to set a capital requirement of $70 million in order to launch futures trading. Oscar Darmawan, CEO of local crypto exchange Indodax, recently told Reuters that the sums required are even bigger than the cost of opening a rural bank.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/indonesias-commodity-futures-regulator-releases-regulation-for-crypto-futures-market