Ambrosus Progress Report 18 Mar 2019
8 days ago
Thank you very much for the update, Angel.
Exciting part: "Ambrosus Account Manager Rado Dragov is pleased to announce that there has been a remarkable increase in the number of entrepreneurs who are reaching out to use Ambrosus as their underlying platform for building blockchain based solutions!"
Congratulations, Ambrosus Team.
SEC’s Valerie Szczepanik at SXSW: ‘Crypto Spring Is Going to Come’
11 days ago
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Valerie Szczepanik is optimistic that regulation will ultimately boost the cryptocurrency market.
“I do think if we hope to smell the crypto spring in the air, it will take people walking with the regulators,” Szczepanik, the SEC’s senior advisor for digital assets, told a crowd Friday at SXSW in Austin, Texas. “But I do think the spring is going to come.”
In a Q&A session with attorney Daniel Kahan of Morrison & Foerster LLP, Szczepanik emphasized how the regulatory approach at the SEC is designed to let innovation flourish, though it comes at the cost of not providing completely clear guidelines for new kinds of businesses.
“The lack of bright-line rules allows regulators to be more flexible,” she said.
While respecting the desire from entrepreneurs to know whether they can or can’t run a business in full compliance with current securities laws, she said the principles-based approach allows more opportunities to arise from new technology.
She told attendees:
“I think if you were to propose a new regime of regulations in a precipitous way without really studying it, you might end up steering the technology one way or another.”
When asked for her thoughts on the rise of stablecoins, Szczepanik noted that there as several arrangements that allow these tokens to maintain a relatively stable price relative to other assets.
She singled out stablecoins that create two assets – one that maintains a fixed price and the other whose value fluctuates in order to help the first token’s price stay fixed (often referred to as algorithmic stablecoins).
With regard to that particular category of project, she said, “You might be getting into the land of security.”
“Folks like to put labels on things,” Szczepanik said of stablecoins, “but we’ll always look behind the label to see exactly what’s happening. We’ll give it the label it deserves under the law.”
A topic that she returned to multiple times during the 90-minute talk was the SEC’s FinHub, where companies can come in and talk with staff about approaches they are taking. Kahan offered a rule of thumb: “It’s always better to find your regulators than to let your regulators find you.
Szczepanik emphasized that dialogue with the SEC yields better outcomes for companies. In particular, she highlighted recent regulatory action against Gladius, a cybersecurity company defending against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Its settlement was announced in February.
As the agency acknowledged in that settlement, it did not impose a penalty on Gladius because the firm self-reported and communicated with regulators throughout the investigation.
That said, rather than focus entirely on regulatory action against companies, Szczepanik also argued that businesses can do better by working with regulators from the start.
She acknowledged that some companies will go offshore in search of more lenient regulatory regimes, but she said the real opportunity is with companies that abide by the stronger U.S. rules. “There are benefits to doing it the right way. And when they do that they will be the gold standard,” she contended.
Beyond the U.S., Szczepanik said regulators around the world are in regular contact about distributed ledger technology. “I think there’s a lot of excitement around the globe about how DLT can be deployed to increase efficiency,” she said.
One form of relief that entrepreneurs have been seeking since the earliest days of the initial coin offering boom have been no-action letters. That is, letters from the SEC that acknowledge a review of a companies business process and affirm that the SEC will not take regulatory action against it.
Szczepanik has emphasized these before. However, attorneys in the space have noted that thus far no no-action letters have been issued.
Regardless, Sczczepanik’s fundamental message was that companies will have better outcomes if they interact with securities regulators. To that end, she is going on the road now to give more entrepreneurs the opportunity to reach her.
“We’d much rather have people come and ask us before they do something rather than coming and asking for forgiveness.”
SEC Senior Advisor for Digital Assets Valerie Szczepanik speaks at SXSW 2019
Major US Grocery Chain Kroger Ditches Visa, Discusses Accepting Bitcoin
12 days ago
Major US grocery chain Kroger recently banned Visa from a regional supermarket in protest of the payment processor’s “excessive transaction fees,” announcing that hundreds of stores and fueling stations would halt Visa payments in April. However, the story has taken a surprising turn, with Kroger representatives reportedly considering Bitcoin’s Lightning Network as one potential alternative payment system.
Morgan Creek: Kroger Should Replace Visa with Bitcoin
Morgan Creek Digital partner, Bitcoin evangelist, and popular podcast host Anthony Pompliano got the ball rolling when he said that his team was willing to fly to meet Kroger executives to discuss the use case of Lightning Network-enabled Bitcoin as a low-fee alternative to Visa.
Kroger stated on March 1 that 142 supermarkets and 108 fuel center locations would stop accepting Visa by April 3 in order to maintain low prices for customers. Visa is by far the world’s largest credit card issuer with 323 million users compared to 191 million Mastercard users, making the ban a bold move on Kroger’s part.
The monopoly enjoyed by Visa has perhaps enabled it to inflate fees beyond market expectations. In this case, this is due to the sense that chains are essentially obligated to service Visa users or risk losing their business.
However, Kroger is saying no to high fees and drawing a line in the sand, leaving room for low-fee alternatives like Bitcoin Lightning Network payments to state their case. As a leading traditional grocery retailer in the country, the move could embolden other dissatisfied companies to follow suit.
Kroger is reportedly considering Bitcoin as a payment option, with Anthony Pompliano updating Twitter followers yesterday to state that he had spoken personally with Kroger Digital representatives. He added that it looked like “things are progressing,” praising the forward-thinking mentality of the major retailer.
The acceptance of Bitcoin among hundreds of supermarkets and fueling centers would, of course, be huge for the cryptocurrency industry.
Adoption has been on a steady upward trend regardless of the volatile or negative price action seen this past year, and with more and more press coverage and real-world use cases for cryptocurrencies seen in the public eye, the fundamentals for cryptocurrency technology are better than ever before.
The move could expose millions of people to Bitcoin in the context of it being a rapid, low-cost payment solution for everyday goods and services, transforming the perception of some onlookers that Bitcoin is a speculative asset only.
At the moment, the talks are tentative at best. However, regardless of the outcome, it seems that cryptocurrency adoption as an alternative to the increasingly dated services of companies like Visa is inevitable.
For now, as Morgan Creek Digital’s Anthony Pompliano suggests, all that remains is to “stay tuned” and watch as the situation unfolds.
Bcause has scored a huge coup by partnering with Nasdaq to deploy their matching engine, clearing, and market surveillance technology, as announced on the Nasdaq website, March 13, 2019.
12 days ago
Nasdaq Technology to be Deployed by Bcause
Reading Time: 2 minutes by Tokoni Uti on March 14, 2019 Adoption, Business, Finance, News, Tech
Bcause has scored a huge coup by partnering with Nasdaq to deploy their matching engine, clearing, and market surveillance technology, as announced on the Nasdaq website, March 13, 2019. Once they receive derivatives trading and clearing approval from the CTFC, they will be the only firm in the world to be involved in all levels of the crypto value system.
Over the past few years, Nasdaq has openly shown its commitment to cryptocurrencies. In February 2019, they announced that they would be adding bitcoin and Ethereum indices to their platform and in December 2018, they made an investment in ErisX.
Now, their technology will be put to use in helping Bcause, a crypto trading firm. It was announced On March 13, 2019, that Bcause, the creator of the world’s first full-stack cryptocurrency ecosystem, would be making use of NASDAQ’s matching engine, clearing and market surveillance technology via the Nasdaq Financial Framework platform.
According to the press release, Bcause will begin using the technology in the first half of 2019 when they debut their Bcause spot cryptocurrency market. On top of this, they have made an application with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to become a Designated Contract Market (DCM) and to establish a Derivatives Clearing Organization (DCO).
This is very significant as when derivatives trading and clearing begin, Bcause will officially be the only firm in the world that offers services at all stages of the cryptocurrency value system. This will include crypto mining, spot trading, derivatives clearing, and trading and so on.
The surveillance technology being offered by Nasdaq is a huge boost because it will ensure that the surveillance protocols in use properly fit the needs of the crypto market. On top of this, they will be able to detect manipulative activities, which will make trading more transparent and are for all involved.
Fred Grede, the CEO of Bcause, remarked in the press release that his company is honored to have access to this technology. He also pointed out that this will help attract different classes of investors; those that are already involved in the financial market and are familiar with Nasdaq operations and those that would be interested in joining the crypto market.
Paul McKeown, the SVP and Head of Marketplace Operators & New Markets, Market Technology at Nasdaq said:
“Bcause has methodically built a unique ecosystem that gives investors, partners and market players a holistic experience in tapping the cryptocurrency market and value chain,”
He also added that the use of Nasdaq technology will help improve on their scalability and modular functionality which will help them meet the evolving needs of the digital asset economy.
‘World’s Biggest’ Blockchain-Focused ETF to Start Trading on London Stock Exchange
16 days ago
While most in the cryptocurrency community are looking forward to a Bitcoin ETF, independent investment management company Invesco, which has over $800 billion in assets under management, has announced the launch of the ‘world’s biggest blockchain-focused ETF.
According to ZeroHedge, the blockchain-focused exchange-traded fund will include upon launch a portfolio of 48 different companies with exposer to blockchain technology.
Some given examples were that of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, which supplies cryptocurrency mining machine manufacturers with chips, and the CME Group, the first regulated US exchange to launch bitcoin futures. It’ll have a 65 basis points management fee, and include other firms like Apple, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
The head of ETF equity product management of Invesco in Europe, Chris Mellor, reportedly stated the potential for “blockchain to boost earnings was often not reflected in the share prices of companies such as Rio Tinto, the mining company that owns hydroelectric assets that could be harnessed for cryptocurrency mining. The report reads:
The ETF will initially invest in a portfolio of 48 companies based on a proprietary scoring system developed by Elwood Asset Management, a specialist crypto investment boutique backed by Alan Howard, co-founder of the Brevan Howard hedge fund.
The CEO of Elwood, Bin Ren, noted potential applications for blockchain technology go beyond cryptocurrencies, as per his words we’re “beginning to see the technology being used by financial services companies in particular, but we expect greater application of blockchain technology across a wide range of industries.”
There are other blockchain-focused ETFs on the market, although most have attracted a relatively small amount of capital. Per ZeroHdge the largest one, Amplify Transformation Data Sharing ETF, has $110 million in assets.
Notably investors have shown interest in Wall Street firms betting on cryptocurrencies and the nascent technology behind them. A group of 14 publicly listed companies with exposure to the crypto ecosystem compiled by Yahoo Finance, as covered, was outperforming the S&P 500 earlier this year.
Crypto Victory: Colorado Exempts Cryptocurrencies From Securities Laws
18 days ago
Colorado Governor Jared Polis just signed the Digital Token Act. The new law exempts certain cryptocurrencies from securities laws and allows technologists in Colorado to operate outside of strict securities registration requirements.
Lawmakers in Colorado introduced SB19-023 earlier this year to remove regulatory uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrencies. Passage of the Digital Token Act clears the way for entrepreneurs to emerge in Colorado and to build new technologies, strong ecosystems and decentralized applications that can use utility tokens to power various activities.
Under the new law, digital tokens that meet certain criteria will be able to transfer value on a cryptographically secure blockchain and will not be labeled as securities or otherwise subject to laws designed for fundamentally different financial instruments.
Digital tokens that are exempt highlight some of the major differences between a traditional, regulated security, such as a stock or a bond, and today’s emerging class of cryptocurrencies that can execute “smart contracts”, perform functions and transfer value.
The lawmakers recognized that they are not the same.
Cryptocurrencies that have a “primarily consumptive purpose” with qualifying use cases and which are available for offer, sale or transfer will no longer face possible prohibition under article 51.
A use case would offer details of specific goods or services that are tied to the digital asset.
Under the act, Colorado becomes an increasingly pro-crypto state that aims to support entrepreneurs who are building blockchain-based systems.
“Colorado has become a hub for companies and entrepreneurs that seek to utilize cryptoeconomic systems to power blockchain technology-based business models.”
These businesses often raise capital through the sale of digital tokens.
“Companies that seek to utilize cryptoeconomic systems face regulatory uncertainty that the issuance, sale, and purchase of digital of digital tokens that have a primarily consumptive purpose may be prohibited under this article 51.”
“‘Consumptive purposes’ means to provide or receive goods, services, or content, including access to goods, services, or content.”
The passage marks a major step forward for proponents of the digital economy. It supports developers, venture capitalists and investors who are working to blend traditional platforms with crypto infrastructure and blockchain-based solutions.
Fidelity announces Bitcoin custody service live with a select group of eligible clients
19 days ago
Fidelity Investments, the largest asset managers firm, digital assets solution branch – Fidelity Digital Assets, announced that its Bitcoin custody service has gone live with “a select group of eligible clients”, earlier today on their official Twitter handle. The firm that aims to provide Bitcoin custodial services to institutional investors first announced this news comes almost a month earlier, stating that have selected clients whom they will be serving with their initial solutions.
The announcement read:
“WE ARE LIVE WITH A SELECT GROUP OF ELIGIBLE CLIENTS AND WILL CONTINUE ROLLING OUT SLOWLY. OUR SOLUTIONS ARE FOCUSED ON THE NEEDS OF HEDGE FUNDS, FAMILY OFFICES, PENSIONS, ENDOWMENTS, OTHER INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS”
In their initial announcement, the solutions provider stated that they have built a strong technical and operational standards best suitable for institutions, meeting clients expectations from an investment giant. They had also stated that their initial clients are “an important part” of the “final testing and process refinement periods”. This, in turn, would help the Fidelity provide their platform services to a “broader set of eligible institutions.”
The blog post read:
“OUR MISSION IS MUCH BROADER THAN PRODUCTS. INSTITUTIONAL INTEREST IN DIGITAL ASSETS IS EXPANDING, AND THESE ORGANIZATIONS REQUIRE SOPHISTICATED CAPABILITIES IN ORDER TO PROCEED.”
This comes as a euphoric announcement to several members of the community as it marks as one of the first steps taken to open the cryptocurrency market for institutional investors. This is mainly because of the custody solutions and trading venue platform provided by the financial giant. More so, some also believe that the changes bought by institutional players of Fidelity would bring some light in the regulatory stance on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
XRP Raconteur, a Twitterati said:
“CONGRATULATIONS FDA ON YOUR SOFT LAUNCH. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOUR FULL LAUNCH. IT’S GOING TO BE LOCO !!!”
Alec Ziupsnys, another Twitterati said:
“FIDELITY’S DIGITAL ASSETS TRADING AND CUSTODY BUSINESS IS LIVE AND SUPPORTING BITCOIN. WHEN ARE INSTITUTIONS JOINING THE GAME? WELL, NOW. “
Swiss Bank Launches Crypto Token on Ethereum in a First of its Kind
25 days ago
Dukascopy Bank SA has begun an airdrop of Dukascoin (DUK or Dukas), a free floating speculative token that is currently entering circulation in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) manner.
“We confirm the real start of a bank’s crypto currency after a year of intense legal, technological and emotional effort that has required the consolidation of all our skills and knowledge,” says Andre Duka (pictured), CEO of Dukascopy Bank.
Each Dukascopy new customer will receive 5 Dukascoins for free and any referrer will receive an equal amount. The bank itself will receive 10 DUKs, or 50% of the supply.
“Dukascoin will simultaneously reside in two environments – in the blockchain and in the books of a regulated bank. It means that when clients keep the coins inside Dukascopy, they can enjoy multiple benefits, for example, the Swiss deposit insurance scheme covering CHF 100,000,” Duka says.
While some banks have or are planning to launch a stablecoin pegged to fiat, this is the first time that a free floating speculative token has been launched by a regulated bank.
Similar to any other token or cryptos like bitcoin and ethereum, individuals can place buy (bid) or sell (ask) offers, with the token seeing some volatility from circa 0.40 euro to a high of 2 euros.
“To sell and buy Dukascoins, the bank has created a secure internal marketplace that is designed as an easy-to-understand bulletin board that is linked to clients’ accounts at the bank,” Duka says, adding:
“It allows posting conditional orders (providing liquidity) or picking the desired orders from other participants (using liquidity). All transactions executed on the internal marketplace are secured by the bank.”
The regulated bank was given the green-light in December to issue the crypto token ICO by FINMA, the Swiss financial regulator.
They plan to further launch a stablecoin as well called Dukasnote which is to be pegged in as yet an unclear way, while the coin that was launched this Thursday is free floating like most other cryptos.
The online bank is one of Europe’s biggest forex exchange and is positioning itself as one of the most crypto friendly bank in the world.
They’re global, with offices in Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, Tokyo, as well as Geneva and other places.
They launched ethereum Contracts for Differences (CFDs) trading in October, with the bank so making history as the first to launch a crypto token which attracts a generous deposit reward program.
There is no indication of dividends or buy-backs from profits, however, so it isn’t very clear why this would have any speculative value beyond it being the first bank-backed crypto-token.
Three Ways Samsung Is Breaking Down Walls for Global Crypto Adoption
a month ago
The crypto-sphere has been begging for more examples of crypto adoption throughout 2017-2018. It was partly due to investors hoping for the continuation of Bitcoin’s parabolic rise. The crypto market has been anticipating Bitcoin to find a bottom to what is known as “crypto winter”. Therefore, the announcement from Samsung is refreshing.
Samsung can increase blockchain wallets by 100%
According to Mashable, Samsung sold over 30 million Galaxy S9s worldwide in the first quarter of 2018. Despite being the company’s lowest-selling phone since the Galaxy S III, the total number of Q1 consumers would be massive for the crypto and blockchain space. Imagine having 30 million more people exposed to cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
Here is something to bear in mind: according to Statista, the number of blockchain wallet users at the end of December 2018 is close to 32 million. At minimum, this number could double once the new Galaxy S10 is released.
It is important to remember that not all users of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will be using the wallet. But the feature will no doubt spark more interest. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain have been covered extensively throughout 2018 by mainstream media. Thus, it is not hard to imagine that the vast majority of consumers has an idea of what crypto and blockchain are and that there’s a foundation for human curiosity to flourish.
Accessibility triumphs over the cool factor
Having a wallet built into our phones makes it very accessible for people to do crypto-related tasks, especially when phones are one of the things that we carry all the time, everywhere. We tend to forget our keys more often than our phones.
Obvious crypto tasks that can be done are making transactions or storing cryptocurrencies. However, most would agree that having a built-in wallet on your phone is not safe to store your crypto holdings.
It is not advisable to store your entire crypto holdings on your phone. Always consider getting a hardware wallet. But when it comes to new crypto adopters, they prefer accessibility and ease of use over cool, high-tech mumbo-jumbo. One example I can think of would be building your own computers. It is cheaper and very satisfying to build and customize your own computer rig according to your needs. But the vast majority prefer to purchase it stock, for fear of messing it up gravely.
It should not be impossible for us to use our fingerprints instead of a randomly generated password. In addition to that, the risk of misplacing a paper wallet does not apply when fingerprints are used to access wallets.
First movers in the industry have their disadvantages. They bear the economic burden of developing a new market that future followers can exploit. But it is such competitiveness in today’s world that makes being a crypto enthusiast so fulfilling. Samsung started the party, and soon others will follow.
Taiwanese consumer electronics company HTC Corporation has created the world’s first blockchain phone: the HTC Exodus. Sirin Labsis also building a state-of-the-art blockchain smartphone with a built-in ‘cold storage’ crypto wallet and distributed ledger consensus. Therefore, Samsung isn’t the first major phone brand to introduce crypto wallet capabilities but it is definitely the largest.
A report by the Daily Hodl has shed light on Apple’s potential big move into blockchain with their SEC filing. Rest assured, blockchain technology is in the minds of the biggest corporate names out there. I think it will only be a matter of time before iPhones adopt the crypto wallet strategy and integrate it with Apple Pay.
Regardless of the success that Samsung will bring to cryptocurrencies, it suggests an increasing number of crypto adoption stories in the coming months or years. In particular, mainstream corporate names.
Huawei, China’s biggest and the world’s third-largest mobile phone seller, has already announced its support for cryptocurrencies by providing access to a Bitcoin wallet app, pre-installed on all new Huawei and Honor phones.
Mobile contactless payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and for the sake of this article, Samsung Pay, are on the rise. Again from Statista, the number of NFC (near field communications) mobile payment users more than tripled from 53.9 million to 166 million from 2015 to 2018. Adoption for NFC mobile payment took a while, but in six years we have gone from having just five million users in 2012 to 166 million. That is a huge increase.
Throughout 2018 and these few months into 2019, there have been several companies launching their crypto cards. Companies include TenX, Crypto.com (previously known as Monaco), BitPay and Shift. The idea is good – introducing debit/prepaid cards for crypto usage. However, we should consider whether the majority of consumers would rather add another card into their already thick wallet or simply have it built into their phone. More likely, consumers will just opt to have it on their phones.
Having a crypto wallet also means consumers can finally start using cryptocurrencies for everyday use. Sure, prior to Samsung introducing wallet capabilities, all we needed was a Coinbase app to store our Bitcoin. But it’s impractical. Now imagine Samsung integrating crypto into Samsung Pay, making it an internal exchange that can simply liquidate Bitcoin into fiat on the go, effectively using crypto to pay for things. We can also expect others to follow suit.
Mainstream crypto adoption is not quite here yet but the world is preparing for it
Moonwhale consolidated a list of mainstream companies already adopting blockchain technology. The list of companies includes very recognizable names such as Facebook, Alibaba, Amazon, and more recently, JPMorgan Chase. Regulations finally caught up with the hype and progress made by cryptocurrencies in 2018. That feat alone is something to be celebrated. Proper regulations will create a better environment for innovation to thrive without hurting its ambitions too much.
2017 to 2018 were the years when crypto was a novelty or a money-making plan for retail investors. The crypto winter has shifted the general emphasis away from the speculative nature of cryptocurrencies to the value of the underlying technology. Sure, it has been no fun to watch Bitcoin drop from its peak to $3,100 towards the end of 2018, but in the grand scheme of things, the crypto space is progressing very quickly. The bear market today isn’t so bad when you zoom out.
We can expect 2019 to be very special in paving the way for the inevitable mass adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
A followup on my last post, cute little garden.
a month ago