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Rakuten Is About to Buy a Bitcoin Exchange for $2.4 Million

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten is planning another step into the cryptocurrency industry with the acquisition of a local bitcoin exchange.

The company said in an announcement that it has inked a share transfer agreement for 100 percent of an exchange called Everybody’s Bitcoin on Friday. The acquisition appears to be costing the firm 265 million yen, or $2.4 million, when it goes through on Oct. 1.

Explaining the move, Rakuten said it believes “the role of cryptocurrency-based payments in e-commerce, offline retail and in P2P payments will grow in the future,” adding:

“In order to provide cryptocurrency payment methods smoothly, we believe it is necessary for us to provide a cryptocurrency exchange function.”

Further, the firm indicated that the acquisition is in response to demands from a growing number of foreign exchange customers on its securities business arm, who have been calling for the offering of a cryptocurrency exchange service.

Launched in March 2017, Everybody’s Bitcoin is one of the several unlicensed crypto exchanges in Japan that came under scrutiny from Japan’s Financial Services Agency after the Coincheck hack in January, as the regulator sought business and security improvements.

With the planned acquisition, Rakuten aims to assist the exchange in enhancing its internal systems in an effort to meet with the regulator’s requirements for obtaining a license.

According to today’s announcement, Everybody’s Bitcoin reported a net loss of around $444,000 in the fiscal year ended March 30, 2018.

The acquisition deal follows a previous report that Rakuten is also planning to launch its own cryptocurrency as a way to help the group expand its global user base.

The e-commerce firm first started accepting bitcoin payments in 2015, when it integrated its U.S. website with bitcoin payment processor Bitnet.

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Tron Foundation Officially Completes Acquisition of BitTorrent

File sharing software provider BitTorrent announced Tuesday that its acquisition by the Tron Foundation is now officially complete.

BitTorrent said it will now operate from Tron’s new San Francisco offices and support the blockchain project’s global development, while continuing to serve the claimed 100 million BitTorrent users around the globe.

According to the announcement:

“We believe that joining the TRON network will further enhance BitTorrent and accelerate our mission of creating an Internet of options, not rules.”

News of the imminent purchase became public in mid-June, when BitTorrent co-founder and former president Ashwin Navin told CoinDesk that Tron was forking out $120 million for the firm.

The news provoked speculation that after the merger BitTorrent might start charging users with fees in cryptocurrency. However, as reported, the firm wrote on its website that it has “no plans to change” its business model and will not charge fees for any of its services. Further, BitTorrent indicated it has “no plans to enable mining of cryptocurrency now or in the future.”

According to a report in Variety at the time, TRON founder Justin Sun began negotiating the acquisition of BitTorrent last September under a “no shop” clause, which prevented BitTorrent from discussing possible mergers with other potential buyers. However, on May 25, BitTorrent reportedly violated that clause and Sun filed legal paperwork to sue. The fate of that lawsuit is unknown.

Tron’s TRX blockchain-based token is now the 11th largest cryptocurrency with a $2.4 billion market capitalization, according to price data provider CoinMarketCap. In May, Tron started what’s called a token swap, shifting all TRX from ethereum to its own blockchain, dubbed Odyssey 2.0.

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Tron Bought BitTorrent And Crypto Won't Stop Talking

The founder of a little-known cryptocurrency is making big waves.

First leaked last week, more details emerged Tuesday on how Justin Sun, the founder of a controversial cryptocurrency project called Tron (with a market capitalization of more than $3 billion), is acquiring the file-sharing service BitTorrent for as much as $140 million.

(A subsequent CoinDesk report pins that total at closer to $120 million).

If you just did a double-take, you’re not alone.

A quick recap: Tron, the 10th-largest cryptocurrency in the world according to data published by CoinMarketCap, is in the midst of gearing up for its big software launch.

The project officially kicked off efforts in May to shift from the ethereum token it used for fundraising (in what’s called a ‘token swap‘) to new coins on a wholly independent blockchain, dubbed Odyssey 2.0. But the road to that point has been a tumultuous one, marked by allegations of plagiarism about its white paper.

As such, the acquisition was yet another opportunity for supporters and critics to spar.

Investors, you can guess, were more than ecstatic about the news.

What motives?

Amidst the social celebration, though, some of the network’s more ardent critics took the opportunity to raise questions about the timing of the news as well as the reasoning behind the acquisition.

Variety and TorrentFreak provide some key background to the sale’s origins.

Sun reportedly began pursuing acquisition of BitTorrent last September under a “no shop” clause that prevented BitTorrent from engaging in similar talks with other potential buyers.

On May 25, word got out that this clause had been violated by BitTorrent and that Sun had filed legal paperwork to sue. Fast forward to today, when news was broken by Variety of a merger between a registered company called Rainberry Acquisition Inc. owned by Sun and Rainberry Inc, the actual company owning BitTorrent.

Beyond the speculation over how negotiations for the acquisition of BitTorrent actually went down behind the scenes, critics have questioned the strategic motivation of even purchasing BitTorrent’s file-sharing services in the first place.

For one, the technology behind the services BitTorrent offers is entirely open-source and available for public view.

As such, some have been suggesting that what Sun is going after with this acquisition is not BitTorrent’s services per say but rather the established platform BitTorrent possesses from which to create entirely new services.

Others feel that the speculation is unnecessary given the sheer reach of BitTorrent around the globe servicing millions of users each day.

Open questions

Still, without a clearly defined motive, critics of Tron continue to warn away investors and view this acquisition as a poor attempt to “legitimize” what is clearly, to some, a “scam.”

For now, it seems Sun is content with staying tight-lipped about potential next steps for Tron as it relates to BitTorrent. (BitTorrent announced Tuesday that it doesn’t plan to shift its services in light of the deal).

Still, it might be too early to tell just what’s in store.

In an interview on Huobi Talk, transcribed and translated on Medium, he said:

“Regarding how we can unite with BitTorrent, I will keep it secret first. In July, we will have some activities with BitTorrent, please pay attention to that, thank you.”

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Coinbase Just Bought One of Bitcoin's Best-Funded Startups

Cryptocurrency startup Coinbase has announced the acquisition of Earn.com, one of the industry’s best-funded startups.

A statement released on Monday confirms a previous CoinDesk report in which sources said that Coinbase and other potential buyers were in talks to acquire Earn.com, formerly known as 21 Inc.

21 Inc previously ran a bitcoin mining operation, powered by technology from Intel, and later launched its eponymous, developer-focused 21 Bitcoin Computer in 2015. The company was backed by major Silicon Valley investors to the tune of $116 million raised over multiple funding rounds.

The firm rebranded to Earn.com last October in a pivot that saw it launch a social network aimed at incentivizing users to complete tasks in exchange for cryptocurrency rewards.

While Coinbase did not publicly disclose the terms of the deal, a source directly involved in the discussions told CoinDesk previously that the total amount in cash, crypto-assets, stocks and earn-out being pursued at the time could exceed $120 million.

As part of the acquisition, Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder and CEO of Earn.com, will become Coinbase’s first chief technology officer. The Earn.com team will be integrated with Coinbase’s operations and its existing business will continue, Coinbase said.

The startup said:

“Earn has built a paid email product that is arguably one of the earliest practical blockchain applications to achieve meaningful traction. We will keep Earn’s business running because it’s showing a lot of promise and potential.”

In his new capacity, Srinivasan will help lead the development of the Coinbase platform, and also recruit new cryptocurrency talent.

The news comes just days after another acquisition deal, announced last Friday, which saw Coinbase snap up mobile ethereum wallet Cipher Browser.

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Monex Confirms Coincheck Exchange Acquisition, Plans Future IPO

Japanese online brokerage Monex Group has confirmed a deal is in place to acquire cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, which suffered a major breach early this year.

According to Japanese daily The Mainichi, the deal will cost Monex 3.6 billion yen (around $33.5 million). Later this month, the broker will acquire 45.2 percent of Coincheck’s shares from its founder and CEO Koichiro Wada, another 5.5 percent from board member Yusuke Otsuka and 49.3 percent from six other stakeholders, the report adds.

In an announcement Monex said:

“The cryptocurrency exchange business plays a core part in a vision of “MONEX’s new beginning”. Therefore, the Company has resolved on 100% share acquisition of Coincheck who has been a pioneer among cryptocurrency exchangers.”

Once under Monex ownership, the broker said its senior executive officer Toshihiko Katsuya will take over as president of Coincheck, with Wada and Otsuka reportedly staying on at the firm in lower-level executive roles.

Monex said that Coincheck is in the process of improving its governance and internal controls after receiving an order from the Kanto Local Finance Bureau as a result of the hack that saw $530 million in NEM tokens stolen in January.

“We aim to build a secured business environment for customers by fully backing up Coincheck’s enhancement process,” the announcement states.

Another report from Nikkei Asian Review indicates that Monex has aired plans to obtain regulatory approval for Coincheck, with the aim of a June relaunch. Monex was also cited as saying it hopes to hold an IPO of Coincheck shares at a future date – a move that would be a first for a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange.

The exchange is currently attempting to refund investors the majority of the funds stolen in the hack, and also faces several lawsuits over the heist.

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Hacked Coincheck Exchange to Accept Takeover Bid, Report Says

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, which was the victim of a major heist in early 2018, is to accept a takeover offer from online brokerage Monex Group, a news report indicates.

Citing sources on Thursday, Nikkei Asian Review said that, once the deal is complete, Coincheck plans to change the management team in an attempt to rebuild investor confidence following the hack that saw $530 million in NEM tokens stolen in January.

While information is still sparse, Monex is expected to pay Coincheck several billion Japanese yen for its majority stake (1 billion JPY = $9.34 million). The deal is currently being finalized, Nikkei states, and an announcement may be made by Friday.

As part of the changes to the executive team, Monex’s chief operating officer, Toshihiko Katsuya, will take over as new president, according to the report, with Coincheck’s current president Koichiro Wada and COO Yusuke Otsuka to step down as soon as the deal is inked.

News of the possible takeover bid broke Tuesday, with Nikkei first reporting the rumor. Monex soon after confirmed it was considering the move.

Coincheck has faced investigations from Japan’s financial watchdog over the security failures that led to the hack, as well as its financial health.

The takeover will provide welcome new capital to the exchange, which is currently attempting to refund investors most of what was taken in the hack, and also faces several lawsuits over the affair.

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Japanese Brokerage Firm May Acquire Hacked Coincheck Exchange

Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, which suffered a major hack early this year, may soon be under new management.

According to Nikkei sources, Monex – an online brokerage firm also based in japan – is considering buying a majority stake in the exchange. Under the possible deal, Monex would reportedly replace the management team and rebuild the Coincheck platform itself.

If it goes ahead, the deal could be worth “several billion yen” and could be announced this week, Nikkei adds.

However, the acquisition has still not been officially confirmed by the broker, and a report from Reuters states that, when contacted for confirmation of the news, Coincheck said that it hadn’t released information on any deal.

Following the report, Monex shares shot up by 23 percent, the maximum permitted by the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Nikkei says.

Coincheck found itself in deep water with both customers and regulators following the hack of about $530 million-worth of cryptocurrency that occurred in late January.

Since then, it has faced investigations from Japan’s Financial Services Agency over security failures and its ability to repay users that lost funds in the heist.

Coincheck has pledged to reimburse users at a rate of $0.81 per token – which would result in a total payout near $420 million. Even so, the exchange has been faced with several lawsuits from investors claiming refunds and compensation.

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Token Trader Templum Just Bought a Broker-Dealer

Blockchain startup Templum has acquired Liquid Markets Group’s broker-dealer and alternative trading system Liquid M Capital LLC.

The regulated “tokenized asset” trading platform hopes to enable users to trade cryptocurrencies in compliance with U.S. securities regulations, notably treating digital assets as securities, the company announced in a press release today. Prior to the acquisition, Liquid M was a partner to Templum, enabling it to act as a digital exchange.

Liquid M is a part of both the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, a non-profit organization set up to protect customers in the event a broker-dealer fails, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a self-regulatory group aimed to protect investors from malicious securities firms.

Liquid Markets Group chief executive Vince Molinari said in the release that combining Templum’s team with Liquid M’s existing alternative trading system (ATS) and other assets will help “position Templum to drive the evolution of this asset class.”

He continued:

“We believe Templum’s platform, standardization and commitment to investor protection will make Templum the leader in facilitating the offering and secondary trading of digital assets offered as securities.”

Last October, Templum raised $2.7 million in a seed funding round, which it intended to use to launch its trading platform. At the time, the firm’s founder and CEO, Chris Pallotta, said that utilizing an ATS allows Templum to provide investors protection from possibly risky initial coin offerings.

The announcement is notable for its timing, coming just a day after U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton noted that no company offering an ICO had registered their tokens as securities to date. During his testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, he stated that every ICO he had seen looked like a security offering.

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Bitcoin Exchange BTCC Just Got Acquired

Bitcoin startup BTCC has been acquired by a Hong Kong-based blockchain investment fund.

While details remain scarce on the deal, BTCC said in a press release that the move will help its efforts to expand internationally following its recent closure in mainland China.

Bobby Lee, BTCC’s co-founder, said:

“Today’s acquisition is an incredible milestone for BTCC. … I’m very excited about the resources this gives BTCC to move faster and aggressively grow our businesses in 2018 and beyond.”

According to the statement, the company now aims to “lead every segment of the digital currency ecosystem,” expanding into the international market after Chinese authorities forced the closure of all cryptocurrency exchanges at the end of September 2017.

While its DAX cryptocurrency exchange is no longer in operation, BTCC will focus on its three main products: a mining pool, its Mobi bitcoin wallet and a USD/BTC exchange service.

According to BTCC, which is now registered in the U.K., its exchange business traded over $25 billion in bitcoin in 2017, while its mining pool produced almost $900 million worth in bitcoins in the same year.

CoinMarketCap data indicates that trading volumes for USD/BTC on the BTCC exchange was $123 million over the last 24 hours. It is currently in eighth place in the global volume rankings.

The BTCC pool accounts for 3.2 percent of bitcoin’s hashing power at press time, according to blockchain.info.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.