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Winklevoss’ Gemini Exchange Launches Chicago Office to Serve as Engineering Hub

New York-based Gemini exchange adds a Chicago office in a move to extend engineering expertise for the platform.

Winklevoss brothers-led Gemini crypto exchange is launching a new office in Chicago, the firm officially announced on June 27.

Headquartered in New York, Gemini adds its new Chicago office to their existing office in Portland, Oregon, Gemini co-founder Tyler Winklevoss wrote in a Medium post on Thursday.

According to the statement, Gemini’s Chicago office will act as an engineering hub, and reflects the company’s goal of providing a “safe and reliable institutional-grade infrastructure” for trading and storing crypto. In the post, Tyler emphasized the city’s role in the global financial system, referring to Chicago as the “birthplace of commodities markets.”

As part of the initiative, Gemini has reportedly hired former engineers from major United States-based crypto exchange and wallet service Coinbase, according to a report by crypto news outlet Coindesk. The group of former Coinbase employees were reportedly laid off when Coinbase shut down its Chicago office in April 2019, focusing on the development of its machine engine efforts in its office in San Francisco.

Tyler Winklevoss wrote that the new Chicago team has “deep expertise in matching engines and marketplaces,” and will be focused on the development of the “core platform” for Gemini, as well as optimizing the existing services on the platform.

The initiative has followed a news that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have seen their fortune more than double to reach a total $1.45 billion as Bitcoin (BTC) hit a 17-months high of above $13,700 yesterday, June 26.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin recently saw a massive decline by around $1,400 within minutes after a recent Coinbase crash.

In a recent interview with Cointelegraph, Tyler stated that Facebook’s Libra project is “huge validation” for the crypto industry, considering it another revolutionary step by the firm’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is a well-known rival of Winklevoss brothers.

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Northern Trust Hands Off Blockchain Solution to Fintech Firm

Asset management firm Northern Trust gives blockchain solution to Broadridge for further development.

Northern Trust has handed over its blockchain platform to fintech firm Broadridge Financial Solutions, according to a press release on June 26.

The Chicago-based asset management firm Northern Trust has handed over its blockchain-based private equity (PE) management solution to Broadridge for further improvement.

The platform purports to streamline and automate certain tasks, such as middle office functions. The PE blockchain solution will initially roll out “to all PE funds domiciled in Guernsey and Delaware, including those administered by Northern Trust.”

Pete Cherecwich, President of Corporate & Institutional Services at Northern Trust commented on the hand-off, saying:

“For the benefit of our clients and the industry as a whole, it’s now time to hand over the reins to a technology provider with deep fintech expertise. Broadridge’s administrator-agnostic position, coupled with its DLT (distributed ledger technology) leadership and global footprint, make them an ideal firm to open up this innovative technology to the marketplace, paving the way for the digitization of the asset class.”

Broadridge partnered with the bank Santander last year to facilitate investor voting via proxies using blockchain technology. 

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Northern Trust partnered with Big Four consulting and auditing network PwC to provide a repository of audit data on its private equity blockchain to interested parties.

The solution was reportedly built using the open source Hyperledger Fabric framework as well as the IBM Blockchain to provide security and scalability.

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US-Based Exchange ErisX Officially Announces Public Launch of Spot Market

Following media reports in late April, Chicago-based cryptocurrency exchange ErisX has launched spot trading.

Chicago-based crypto exchange ErisX has officially announced the public launch of its spot market, the firm tweeted on April 30.

The ErisX spot exchange is the first part of the company’s development of a single platform that will represent both a digital asset spot and regulated futures exchange, as reported by Finance Magnates.

Subsequently after the announcement, ErisX reportedly enabled support of United States dollar trading pairs with major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC), according to crypto news outlet Coindesk.

Coindesk writes that ErisX is already in touch with a number of companies that are willing to trade on its platform at launch without disclosing any names.

Cointelegraph first reported on ErisX’s plans to launch spot trading on April 24, with some financial firms such as U.S. retail brokerage TD Ameritrade reportedly testing the exchange.

The launch of a spot market by ErisX reportedly follows the closure of the third round of a Series B fundraising round, with investors including Fidelity Investments and Nasdaq Ventures, among others.

The company is awaiting approval from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to launch a regulated futures exchange along with a clearinghouse, the report notes.

Yesterday, Intercontinental Exchange-backed institutional crypto trading platform Bakkt announced the acquisition of crypto custodian service Digital Asset Custody Company.

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Coinbase Closes Chicago Office and Scales Down Work on Matching Engine

Major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase shut down its Chicago office and scaled down the development of its matching engine.

Major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase shut down its Chicago office and scaled down the development of its matching engine, Fortune reports on April 23.

Per the report, the exchange will consolidate the high-frequency trading matching engine efforts into its San Francisco office. Coinbase also purportedly laid off about 30 employees and will relocate some to the area of the other office, while others will work remotely.

According to local news site Chicago Inno, when the company announced the opening of the Chicago office in May last year, it planned on hiring 100 people over three years, most of whom were going to be engineers.

The office was lead by Paul Bauerschmidt, who according to his LinkedIn profile was the former managing director at Eris Exchange and executive director at CME Group, and Derek Groothius, who was previously a software engineer at DRW. Both are reportedly leaving the company.

A spokesperson of the company reportedly told Fortune that while the closure of the office is a setback, the company is continuing to hire new employees in other offices. The spokesperson also noted that high-frequency trading is no longer a priority and that the company is focusing on new products.

The Block reported that the decision to close the office was made at the executive level and it is unclear whether the employees were expecting their positions to be terminated. The Block estimated that simply the teams salaries could have been as high as $6 million, without accounting for bonuses, office rent or the cost of technology.

As Cointelegraph reported last week, Coinbase reportedly saw around $520 million in revenue last year, 60% less than some analysts expected.

On the other hand, competing crypto exchange Binance reported $78 million in profits in Q1 2019, up 66% compared to the previous quarter.

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Crypto Scores Big-Name Backer in Chicago’s Mayor: “Alternative Currencies Will Happen”

Chicago’s Mayor Takes To The Stage To Laud Cryptos

Very often do incumbents of legacy industries mention crypto assets. And even if they do, their comments are often laced with a negative tone, as they are wary of the purported criminal activity-enabling potential of assets like Bitcoin.

But, this narrative took a sudden turn on March 18th, as Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s incumbent mayor, took to the stage of a local FinTech gathering to make mention of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Per Forbes, his statements were rather positive.

Emanuel, who formerly served as President Obama’s chief of staff, remarked that for nations facing finanicial imbroglios, namely Iran and Venezuela, harnessing crypto assets could be a good escape mechanism. He went on to explain:

One day, somebody’s going to figure out – whether that’s Argentina, ten years from now, five years from now – how to use cryptocurrencies to stay alive when their facing a financial crisis, and then you’re going to find out that this moment has arrived.”

Emanuel’s comments are rather reminiscent of those made by humans right advocate Alex Gladstein, who wrote an op-ed in TIME Magazine on a similar subject matter. According to reports from this very outlet, Gladstein explained that he sees Bitcoin, privacy-centric digital assets (ZCash, for example), and similar technologies as a way out of authoritarianism.

The mayor of one of America’s biggest cities was open in stating that his knowledge of the technology is lackluster, but explained that he sees blockchain’s “trend lines are affirmative for its future.”

Emanuel Joins Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Others In Bitcoin Love

Emanuel’s public show of affection for cryptocurrencies comes after some of the world’s largest Silicon Valley stars, entrepreneurs, and the like have lauded Bitcoin.

As you, the reader, likely know, Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter and Square, has become somewhat of a BTC crusader in recent months. After adding the cryptocurrency, which he has called a contender for the Internet’s native currency, to Square’s Cash App in early-2018, Dorsey has gone, as CNBC puts it, “all-in” on the space. After confirming that he would add the Lightning Network to Cash App, he scooped up a Trezor hard wallet to store his holdings.

Most recently, he called on three to four developers and one designer to join Square Crypto, a recently-launched division meant to bolster the Bitcoin ecosystem through development and newfangled products.

Nearby, Elon Musk, a world-renowned entrepreneur and visionary of what’s to come, has expressed a similar sentiment on the future of digital assets. Musk told ARK Invest’s CEO that he expects for paper money to be ousted by cryptocurrencies, before adding that he sees Bitcoin’s structure as “brilliant.” The Tesla and SpaceX CEO, however, made it clear that he only owns less than $1,000 worth of BTC.


Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

The post Crypto Scores Big-Name Backer in Chicago’s Mayor: “Alternative Currencies Will Happen” appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Chicago Board Options Exchange to Launch Bitcoin Futures, Announces Specifics

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) has released its new Bitcoin derivative contract specifications in late November 2017, with the product itself to be introduced in the market in the next few weeks. With the move, the exchange follows other financial institutions in introducing Bitcoin futures products.

The CBOE will use the XBT ticker for its new products. The ticker is exactly the same as the one being used by Bitcoin exchange Kraken in its platform. It is also expected that CBOE will introduce different types of contracts in the near future in its bid to secure a major market share quickly. The product launching, however, will be mainly dependent on the performance of its new products.

High demand for Bitcoin-based financial products

The demand for Bitcoin-based financial products is very high right now because of the continuous surge in the price of the number one cryptocurrency. Several financial institutions have also taken a complete turnaround on their assessment of Bitcoin.

Among them is Goldman Sachs, which is now advising its investors not to ignore Bitcoin anymore. This is a complete about-face by the investment bank, which has previously criticized the digital currency.

The high demand for Bitcoin futures and derivatives products is resulting in very tough competitions among industry players. With the entry of CBOE, competition is expected to intensify further because the exchange is the biggest of its kind in the US. It remains to be seen, however, if the exchange can outperform its competitors in this area.

To effectively compete, there are issues that should be resolved by the exchange. Among these issues is how to relate its contracts to spot Bitcoin pricing. The exchange previously announced that it will extend its trading hours and all its Bitcoin-related transactions will be settled in cash. Whether these strategies are effective, however, remain to be seen.

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Governments Eye Blockchain in Their Creation of National Identity Systems

Various governments around the world are planning to use Blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) in their bid to establish a national identity system in their jurisdictions as of early October 2017. These systems are intended to be safe and secure and can be used in both public and private transactions.

The need to create said systems is driven by the susceptibility of existing systems against various risks like identity theft. An example is the case of consumer credit reporting agency Equifax, whose latest data breach has resulted in the theft of personal data of over 140 million individuals.

Countries and states using DLT to establish national identity systems

Several countries are piloting the use of DLT to create their own national identity systems that span the private and government sector. Among these countries is Singapore, which is eyeing a system that would expand beyond the functions of its existing citizen account for e-government services called the SingPass. The initiative is part of the Singaporean government’s smart nation program.

Estonia, meanwhile, is another country which successfully utilized DLT to create its identity system called ID-kaarts. Among the benefits of the system are an all-digital government experience enjoyed by all citizens, substantial reduction of bureaucracy, and high citizen satisfaction with their government transactions.

Moreover, the state of Illinois has launched a pilot trial on a Blockchain-based birth registry/ID system with a goal to individualize and secure identities. The state government is partnering with Utah-based company Evernym and is expected to use the Sovrin Foundation’s publicly accessible distributed identity ledger in the project.

Benefits of DLT-based identity systems

There are several expected benefits of using DLT in creating identity systems. Among these are the shift of power and profit from data management to individual owners from major companies and the right of the owner to “sell” his/her own data.

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Illinois Government Pilots Blockchain Technology for Birth Certificate Digitization

The state government of Illinois has started testing a Blockchain-based system for the digitization of birth certificates. They are conducting the pilot project in collaboration with Blockchain identity startup Evernym.

According to Illinois’ Blockchain business liaison officer Jennifer O’Rourke, the platform that is being developed could eventually lead to the creation of a comprehensive identity tool-set that an individual can use in the long term. O’Rourke says:

“In this pilot, businesses and governments would be able to verify and authenticate a citizen’s identity by requesting encrypted access to verifiable claims.”

Goals/objectives of the program

In the pilot program, the partners will develop and test Blockchain-based tools that will enable parents and doctors who are present during the time of birth to officially log or register the birth on a permissioned Blockchain. The tools being tested were based on the work done by a task force within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The pilot project is part of the state’s Illinois Blockchain Initiative, whose aims include the creation of a more welcoming environment for Blockchain firms in the state and the elimination of barriers for the government to build with Blockchain. Among the partner agencies of the initiative are the State Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Department of Insurance (DOI), and the Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT).

Under the proposed framework, state agencies will be able to verify a person’s registration data at birth, as well as cryptographically sign information related to an individual’s name, date of birth, blood type, and others. The information will then be stored on a tamper-proof distributed ledger that can only be accessed if authorized by a legal guardian until the individual becomes a legal adult.