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CEO of Major American VC Firm Digital Currency Group: Crypto Winter Is Ending

Barry Silbert, DGG founder and CEO, said that the recent bull market will only continue based on the past price dynamics of bitcoin.

The crypto winter is likely to be ending, a senior executive at major American blockchain venture capital firm Digital Currency Group (DCG) said in an interview with Bloomberg Technology on June 11.

Barry Silbert, DGG founder and CEO, outlined the cyclical nature of the ups and downs of major cryptocurrency bitcoin (BTC), which allegedly means that the recent surge of crypto prices would only continue.

Silbert, who is known as a serial crypto investor, specifically pointed out that bitcoin’s price dynamics have been “quite a roller coaster,” with its price having dropped 80% four times since 2011 only to hit another all-time high afterwards. Based on this — combined with the recent surge of the markets after a massive bear market of 2018 — Silbert stated that it “looks like, perhaps, we are coming out of a crypto winter and we’ve entered a crypto spring.”

The DGG executive has also pinpointed the large involvement of institutions in the crypto industry, claiming that it has grown tremendously since the last bull market in 2017, when bitcoin hit its all-time record of $20,000. Citing big institutional crypto initiatives, such as the upcoming bitcoin custody offering by Fidelity, Silbert said that the institutional involvement of 2017 compared to the current interest of institutions is “really night and day.”

Earlier this year, Silbert had predicted that the majority of digital tokens will lose their value in the long term, claiming that almost every initial coin offering (ICO) was “just an attempt to raise money but there was no use for the underlying token.”

Recently, former JPMorgan executive and current blockchain researcher Tone Vays expressed skepticism about the supposition that the crypto winter is over. In opposition to Silbert, Vays argued that the recent spike in crypto prices was mainly supported by internal capital, which he considered shaky in comparison with external money coming into the space.

Meanwhile, bitcoin has just broken the $8,000 threshold again after dropping below the mark yesterday.

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Bitcoin Bull Run: Why This Time it’s Different to 2017 – Silbert

Barry Silbert Grayscale Investments

Barry Silbert founder and chief executive of the Digital Currency Group and Grayscale Investments, made an appearance on Bloomberg at the end of a fretful week in crypto, and as expected is un-phased by the Bitstamp-induced correction, predicting this bull run won’t pop like in December 2017.

With bitcoin currently priced at $7,350, there’s every reason to be comforted by the fact that nothing goes up in a straight line, and a correction of sorts was expected by some observers, as EWN reported.

Silbert has seen it all before and is convinced that this bull run will not be derailed. More than that, he says that this time the bull run will be different, by which he means it will not be another bubble rippening for a pop.

How will it be different this time?

So how will it be different? First, he addressed the chart technicals.

“Sentiment, the technicals are great… 80% draw down in price happened what three of four times before. Every time that happens…. record highs. As soon as you get the price going back up animal instincts come back.”

But the really crucially consideration is how the lay of the
land differs, and that comes down to infrastructure.

“The difference between this increase in price versus the bubble in 2017 is the infrastructure is much different. You have custodians now, compliance software, trading software. People are more educated about the asset class. This time it’s different,” says Silbert.

He also addressed the question of trust in the space, interjecting that he thought the ICO phenomenon was at the centre of those worries, and had helped power the bear market.

“All of the demand from ICOs went away. Projects were trying
to stay in business and selling bitcoin.”

Drop gold, buy bitcoin

Grayscale Investments is doubling down on the notion that bitcoin is digital gold, as seen in the recent launch of a nation-wide US TV advertising campaign themed Drop Gold. The ad had been previewed a couple of weeks ago.

Indeed, Silbert partly credits the ad with helping to
generate the buying fever behind the recent bitcoin mega rally.

Although the ad was previewed two weeks ago, the national campaign
only started running t the end of this week.

Silbert makes no bones about the fact that they are targeting a new generation of investors who will soon be coming into the family inheritance and will be more susceptible to the pitch from the issuers of bitcoin financial instruments.

Ad hits the mark with a million views and counting…

It’s a hard-hitting ad. “The ad is designed to be
provocative,” Silbert explains. “This has already gotten over a million views.”

“So what is the number one thing to break in terms of view
points regarding getting gold bugs into bitcoin, he was asked.

The ad is basically aimed at getting into the heads of millennials. “It’s important to start the conversation… there’s a generational shift happening,” he contends. “Anyone who has a phone can access this new asset class”, unlike with unportable gold bullion, as the advert makes clear.

“For the younger generation, money is digital… $68 trillion
in wealth being handed down over the next 25 years.”

“It’s not all going to go into bitcoin, but whatever is in gold is going to diversify into something else.”

But what about the solidity of gold built up over millennia,
how can computer code compare?

“Where gold has history and cultural significance it lacks in
utility. Bitcoin as a financial rail has the potential to be incredibly value
from an intrinsic potential.

In fact, Silbert argues that “gold’s use and utility is going
down”, pointing to its drop in use in electronics, which he says has fallen by
30%.

On who is buying gold he says: “It’s central banks buying. So basically, if you are buying gold you are betting on the central bankers, which is weird because gold bugs think that central bankers are idiots and don’t know monetary and fiscal policy.”

He continues: “So, there’s a real  disconnect – so OK I’m going to be betting on the bankers doing the right thing yet they’re the ones who are buying gold right now.”

Silbert is not the only one talking about digital gold, with Tyler Winklevoss also weighing in, as the EWN report here shows.

The Digital Currency Group is probably the nearest thing that crypto has to a conglomerate, with its fingers in many pies.

Abra, Bitflyer, BitPesa, Circle, Chainalysis, Coinbase, CoinDesk, Decentraland, Etherscan, eToro, Grayscale, Korbit, Kraken, Ledger, Parity Protocol Labs, Ripple, Shapeshift, Xapo and Zcash, are just some of the companies DCG has a stake in, or owns outright.

So what about some numbers, hard data on the institutional side?

In the first quarter Grayscale Investments saw 70% of inflows coming in from institutional investors and family offices, Silbert reveals.

What was the money buying? According to Silbert “right now it’s just bitcoin”. He said 90% went into bitcoin.

What about the rest of the crypto field?

He was asked what investors are to make of the rest of the field.

Would it be a sea of many or just a few from the 2,000 and more crypto offerings available that would prove their worth.

Silbert said there will be:

“winners in particular use cases, for digital gold bitcoin,  privacy will be very big use case,  Zcash and Horizon, … we like Ethereum Classic (ETC) for smart contracts.”

Grayscale has been a long-term supporter of the old Ethereum chain that was left behind after the DAO hack forced a hard fork that was followed by majority mining nodes.

Ethereum Classic is not much used, and fell victim to a 51% attack as a result in January, so at this point would be a risky pick for executing smart contracts on.

In July last year Silbert revealed that DCG held five coins, and the choices, bitcoin aside, were surprising,

“So, we have 50% in Bitcoin, 25% in Ethereum Classic, 15% in Zcash, 5% in Decentraland, and our newest one is 5% in ZenCash,” he said at the time

Silbert reiterated that there are “going to be a handful of winners”, so let’s hope he’s changed and rebalanced the holdings in that portfolio of crypto from 10 months ago, for Grayscale investors’ sake.

And what to say about the proliferation and oversupply of
tokens?

“The ICOs brought in a lot of capital… but there were some negative consequences.”

“More discipline and certainly more infrastructure came out
of it,” he concludes.

He didn’t let the opportunity miss to remind his audience about Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is “the only publicly quoted bitcoin fund out there” The fund has assets under management of $1.5 billion and he thinks it “will be one of the first that gets approved”.

Although it has a year to date return of 132% it trades at a premium of 29%, above its net asset value, ie is priced 29% above the value of its underlying bitcoin holding. That makes it 29% more expensive than buying bitcoin directly.

SEC approved collective investment vehicles still look a long way off in the US. The SEC recently delaying again a decision on the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF, thought to be one of the strongest offerings so far in terms of addressing custody and price discovery issues.

The Grayscale Ethereum Classic Trust has done even better than its bitcoin cousin, with a year to date return of 212%, but trades at a hefty premium to NAV – this time an eye-watering ridiculous 200%.

The post Bitcoin Bull Run: Why This Time it’s Different to 2017 – Silbert appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Barry Silbert: Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Was An Industry “Disservice”

Since the Bitcoin industry entered late-October, there has been an auspicious rise in search queries for the cryptocurrency, in spite of the downtrend that shocked crypto-centric investors worldwide. As reported by Ethereum World News, per Google Trends, the “Bitcoin” query has risen to a four-month volume high. The search term, “Bitcoin Cash,” also saw a notable explosion in volume.

Tom Lee and Mati Greenspan, two industry savants, both commented on this trend, with the former calling the statistic “interesting,” while the latter noted that “we’re back.” And interestingly, mainstream media outlets have picked up on this renewed trend, recently covering the cryptosphere incessantly and through a variety of different mediums.

CNBC, for one, recently began to call upon the executives, analysts, and researchers in the cryptosphere to make appearances on their television segments, which have become fairly infamous for their (sometimes inaccurate) coverage of Bitcoin.

Last week, they brought on Barry Silbert, the man behind crypto-centric conglomerate Digital Currency Group (DCG), to speak on the current state of cryptocurrency affairs and its potential future.

Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Was An Industry “Disservice” 

Discussing an industry hot topic, Silbert, who owns/manages stakes in this industry’s foremost startups, noted that the Bitcoin Cash debacle, which hasn’t even come to its final head just yet, is a distraction for investors.

Elaborating on this point, clearly indicating that he isn’t a big fan of the fracas, but remains a Bitcoin proponent, the DCG chief noted:

The fork is a distraction. The industry did itself a real disservice, but let me give you the other side of that — if Bitcoin emerges as the winner, it will have been battle-tested, as it has been challenged by competitive cryptocurrencies and internal development strife.

Silbert: Death Of ICOs, Ethereum (ETH) Sell-Off, And Crashing Stocks Prompted The Crash

Drawing the conversation back to this budding industry’s flavor of the month — the dismal market conditions — Silbert did his best to reason why Bitcoin, coupled with its altcoin brethren, underwent a jaw-dropping sell-off that caught investors with their pants down, as it were.

He first explained that crypto’s largest investors are funds/groups with asymmetric risk appetites. Silbert added that these funds often hold positions in high-risk, often-tumultuous technology stocks, coupled with cryptocurrency holdings. So, seeing that lines that can be drawn between the recent sell-offs seen in equities and crypto, it is apparent that the macro market has been proding Bitcoin investors.

The DCG head, one of the crypto industry’s foremost entrepreneurs then drew attention to the ICO market, which has been beaten and bashed by an SEC crackdown recently. Keeping in mind that ICOs primarily catalyzed 2017’s monumental bull run, the fact that “ICO market is completely unwinding” has evidently been a bearish catalyst for crypto assets.

Further speaking on this purposed factor, he explained that as ICO-funded tokens have collapsed, startups have sought to liquidate their war chests, which were primarily filled with Ether to stay financially afloat,

Last but not least, he noted that crypto hedge funds are finally seeing their first redemptions, putting further selling pressure on the cryptocurrency market, presumably through Bitcoin sell orders.

Title Image Courtesy of Marco Verch on Flickr

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Grayscale Adds Zcash Offshoot ZenCash to Crypto Investment List

Grayscale Investments has invested in ZenCash, a little-known, privacy-focused cryptocurrency.

Speaking at the Stocktoberfest East conference in New York City, Grayscale founder Barry Silbert – who also founded Grayscale’s parent company, Digital Currency Group – asked audience members to raise their hands if they owned offshore bank accounts.

“There is approximately 10 percent of the world’s wealth held in offshore bank accounts,” he said after some of the audience members raised their hands, adding:

“I believe that financial privacy is going to become a really, really important thing not just in emerging markets, but in the U.S. as well.”

For this reason, Silbert said, privacy coins were one of Grayscale’s primary focuses. That category includes zcash, a prominent privacy coin that Grayscale has previously revealed a stake in, as well the lesser-known ZenCash, which is a fork of a fork – via ZClassic – of zcash.

“I love the team,” Silbert said of ZenCash Wednesday, “I love the vision, and the community that we’ve gotten to know is incredibly passionate.”

He explained that the privacy coin is “broader” than its grandparent zcash, referring to its support for messaging and media applications.

Silbert said that ZenCash formed part of Grayscale’s “conviction list,” meaning that the firm has “meaningful dollars in a token.”

Despite his enthusiasm for certain digital assets, however, Silbert made it clear that the space as a whole is rife with soon-to-be flops.

“Most of the tokens are going to zero,” he said.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group.

Lotus image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Digital Currency Group Adds Zcash Offshoot ZenCash to Crypto Investment List

Digital Currency Group has added ZenCash, a little-known, privacy-focused coin, to its “conviction list” of cryptocurrencies. The other coins on the list are bitcoin, ethereum classic, zcash and Decentraland.

Speaking at the Stocktoberfest East conference in New York City, Digital Currency Group founder and CEO Barry Silbert asked audience members to raise their hands if they owned offshore bank accounts.

“There is approximately 10 percent of the world’s wealth held in offshore bank accounts,” he said after some of the audience members raised their hands, adding:

“I believe that financial privacy is going to become a really, really important thing not just in emerging markets, but in the U.S. as well.”

For this reason, Silbert said, privacy coins were one of Digital Currency Group’s primary focuses. That category includes the relatively prominent zcash, of which the lesser-known ZenCash is a fork of a fork – via ZClassic.

“I love the team,” Silbert said of ZenCash Wednesday, “I love the vision, and the community that we’ve gotten to know is incredibly passionate.”

He explained that the privacy coin is “broader” than its grandparent zcash, referring to its support for messaging and media applications.

Silbert said that ZenCash formed part of Digital Currency Group’s “conviction list,” meaning that the firm has “meaningful dollars in a token.”

Despite his enthusiasm for certain digital assets, however, Silbert made it clear that the space as a whole is rife with soon-to-be flops.

“Most of the tokens are going to zero,” he said.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group.

Lotus image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Grayscale Launches Fund for Top Crypto Assets (ETH Included)

The creator of the Bitcoin Investment Trust is today launching its fourth fund aimed at giving accredited investors a way to explore cryptocurrencies.

Unlike Grayscale’s previous funds, which focus on bitcoin, ethereum classic and zcash, the offering, formally called the Digital Large Cap Fund, is designed to give investors exposure to the five largest cryptocurrencies based on market capitalization.

At launch, the fund’s shares will be solely invested in a basket of crypto assets that will initially include bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), ripple (XRP), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC).

The decision to include new currencies, and to sidestep other cryptocurrencies that are already offered by Grayscale, was based on the total value of the assets, according to Grayscale managing director, Michael Sonnenshein.

“Investors are looking for broad market exposure to the digital currency asset class,” said Sonnenshein, in interview today.

He told CoinDesk:

“This gives them the ability to make a singular investment that is going to give them exposure to approximately 70 percent of the market via this one vehicle.”

Investors will buy shares in the private placement investment vehicle, which is backed by actual cryptocurrency, valued at 4:00 p.m. EST. The valuation will be based on the Digital Asset Reference Rate provided by institutional trading technology firm, TradeBlock.

Each digital asset will be evaluated, less the fund’s expenses and other liabilities.

To account for changes in cryptocurrency market caps, it will be rebalanced on a quarterly basis, potentially removing existing digital assets and adding new assets. The fund is a passive investment vehicle that is not actively managed.

In addition to market cap, liquidity, operational requirements and the availability of custodial solutions will also be factors weighed during listing.

Additionally, the fund will not offer a redemption program at launch, meaning there is no assurance that the value of the shares will approximate the actual value of the assets held by the fund. The fund is offering shares on an ongoing basis to certain accredited investors as described by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Interestingly, the total assets under management by Grayscale, a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, has decreased by almost $1 billion in the past couple months. In December, Silbert, the founder of DCG, tweeted the firm was managing $3 billion. In the current statement, that number has decreased to $2.1 billion.

As some of Grayscale’s previous fund can attest, the shares may trade at a substantial premium over the value of of the underlying asset if quoted on any secondary market in the future.

According to the official press release, Grayscale may eventually seek regulatory approval to operate a such a redemption program.

Sonnenshein further said that the firm intends to follow the path set forth by their first investment vehicle, the Bitcoin Investment trust, which trades over the counter with the ticker symbol, GBTC:OTCQX.

Sonnenshein said:

“It will be our intention to create a public quotation about this in about a year’s time.”

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group.

Image via Bailey Reutzel for CoinDesk

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.

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Merrill Lynch Bans Clients from Investing in Bitcoin Fund

Merrill Lynch, the brokerage arm of Bank of America, has blocked financial advisers and clients from trading in bitcoin-related investments.

The ban extends to clients trading in Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust, a fund led by bitcoin entrepreneur Barry Silbert. The decision to block access to the fund was due to concerns about the “suitability and eligibility standards of this product,” an internal memo circulated to approximately 17,000 advisers states.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the bank has extended a ban on recently launched bitcoin futures contracts. A WSJ source said Merrill Lynch put the policy in place on Dec. 8, just two days prior to the launch of bitcoin futures by CBOE.

The source also said that existing bitcoin funds cannot be held in fee-based advisory accounts, but can be maintained in brokerage accounts, WSJ adds.

Silbert, a former Wall Street investment banker, told Reuters:

“We look forward to speaking with Merrill Lynch and addressing any questions or concerns they have about the Bitcoin Investment Trust. We are unaware of any similar policies at other brokerage firms.”

The Futures Industry Association (FIA), published an open letter to the CFTC before the launch of bitcoin futures, causing concern over the process in which cryptocurrency futures have come to market. Big banks and brokers including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Royal Bank of Canada have told clients regarding the denial of access to bitcoin futures, the WSJ report says.

Disclosure: Grayscale Investments is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, CoinDesk’s parent company.

Merrill Lynch image via Shutterstock

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.

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NYSE Files to Bring Bitcoin ETF Closer to Reality

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has become the latest to put forward a Bitcoin ETF-related proposal to the SEC. NYSE is planning on launching to funds to track Bitcoin futures. The ProShares Bitcoin ETF and the ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF will be the two exchange-traded funds that would allow traders to bet on how the volatile cryptocurrency futures contracts will perform.

These funds would closely follow the movements of the current futures markets operating out of CME and CBOE. From there, the funds would invest their assets in benchmark futures contracts with the option of investing in contracts outside the benchmark. NYSE was quick to point out that the funds will not actually own Bitcoins, stopping just a step shy of an actual Bitcoin ETF:

“By being long Bitcoin Futures Contracts, the Fund seeks to benefit from daily increases in the price of the Bitcoin Futures Contracts. The Fund will not be benchmarked to the current price of Bitcoin and will not invest directly in Bitcoin. When the price of Bitcoin Futures Contracts held by the Fund declines, the Fund will lose value.”

Adding further legitimacy

ETFs have been filed many times before, and each time they have been stopped at the SEC’s door. However, a lot has happened since those failed attempts, and the fact that futures have been launched, and the popular digital currency ahs hit new levels of acceptance, means that time may indeed be ripe for Bitcoin ETFs.

If NYSE successfully launches their futures-tracking ETFs, would be further legitimacy added to the unregulated and highly volatile asset. It could also lead to the currency hitting another rally as was seen in the run up to the launch of the Bitcoin futures.

Win Thin, global head of emerging markets strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, the custodian of the proposed ETFs has said:

“It’s very hard for us, as currency analysts, to follow this. It represents further mainstreaming. Hopefully that what comes out of this: some more regulatory oversight. Beyond that, we don’t have any calls on where it will go from here.”

Barry Silbert, founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group, said:

“I think it is going to enable finally the approval of Bitcoin ETFs, and other digital currency ETFs, which is game changing,”

No objection?

Though the Winklevoss Twins and others have failed to earn the regulators’ approval for an ETF in the past, everything is different now.  With the successful launch of Bitcoin futures on the CME and CBOE exchanges, the SEC can no longer complain about the lack of a regulated mechanism for price discovery. This was their key objection when rejected earlier ETF proposals. A Bitcoin ETF is seen as huge for the currency, as it would open up Bitcoin trading to traditional investors.

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‘It’s An Orgy!’ Industry Reacts To US Bitcoin Futures Go-Ahead

“It’s an orgy” is how one strategist described the breaking news that US regulators have approved Bitcoin futures to start this month.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) confirmed Friday that CME Group and CBOE had met the requirements for regulated trading, while Cantor Exchange would also be able to debut Bitcoin binary options.

The news quickly rippled out across the industry and media, with a stream of delighted bullish statements gracing Twitter and other platforms.

Bitcoin prices are reacting in kind as of press time, with a surge towards $11,000 well underway. Bitcoin has gained $700 in a matter of hours, with another $600 to go before all-time highs of $11,360 seen earlier this week are challenged.

Curious alternative responses are meanwhile coming from the likes of Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert.

Speaking on CNBC about the futures approval, Silbert told the audience they should look to take profits from the price rally and put them into Ethereum Classic and ZCash.

“I think it is going to enable finally the approval of Bitcoin ETFs, and other digital currency ETFs, which is game-changing,” he added.

Ethereum Classic is currently among the biggest successes of Bitcoin’s huge price increases this week, with today’s reversal generating near 30 percent growth for the altcoin.

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Barry Silbert Agreement Loses Support As SurBTC Exchange Appeals to Bitcoin Core Devs

Latin American cryptocurrency exchange SurBTC has come out in support of Bitcoin Core developers in its SegWit2x statement.

Joining the growing number of exchanges publishing official stances on the upcoming hard fork, SurBTC, which originally signed the NYA agreement, nonetheless said it was not prepared to support changes Core devs “don’t feel safe with.”

“The technical background of the team that currently collaborates on the core bitcoin project has an unprecedented level, we believe them to be, at least as a group, unbiased experts who deserve at least a voice on the subject,” the company wrote.

SurBTC is one of multiple signees of Barry Silbert’s agreement which later went back on their commitment to support SegWit2x.

At the time the fork was proposed, Bitcoin network users had become frustrated by high fees and slow transaction times.

Post-SegWit, however, priorities have shifted, and the contentious nature of the SegWit2x debate has divided the community and given supportive businesses a difficult publicity hurdle.

“Even though we would be happy to have moderately larger blocks to accommodate growing demand, we feel that Bitcoin needs (at least a majority) of Bitcoin’s core developers’ support in order to do this responsibly,” SurBTC continued.

Xapo position

On Monday, Xapo’s admission it would potentially take the BTC ticker away from the original BTC chain caused widespread outrage and defense in equal measure.

Discussing the ticker issue, SurBTC took a more neutral stance, predicted to be indicative of the broader industry response to SegWit2x when it comes into being November 18.

“All things said, if a contentious hard fork does happen, SurBTC could eventually list both assets but will allow for sure its users to at least withdraw both,” the exchange added.

“Due to practical reasons, we will continue to list BTC, and we will incorporate B2X (or the names that catch on among the industry) later.”