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Japanese Online Retail Giant Buys Bitcoin Exchange

Despite the current bear dominated cryptocurrency market big buyouts in the industry are still occurring. Japan’s leading e-commerce giant Rakuten has announced plans to buy out a Tokyo crypto exchange.

The exchange, Everybody’s Bitcoin, was established in December 2016 and launched in Japan in March the following year. It is currently not one of the approved licensed exchanges that Japan’s Financial Services Agency permits to operate and itself was subject to a FSA probe following Coincheck’s hack in January.

The official announcement came a couple of days ago stating “The acquisition is based on a stock purchase agreement between Rakuten Card Co., Ltd. and Traders Investment, Inc. which is the parent company of Everybody’s Bitcoin.”

The acquisition will be effective on October 1 and is worth around $2.4 million, 265 million Yen, which will include all of the firm’s 5,100 shares. The Rakuten Group, which consists of 70 businesses, operates Rakuten Ichiba, the largest e-commerce site in Japan in addition to operating the country’s biggest internet bank and third-largest credit card company by transaction value. Services extend to travel and leisure, digital content, insurance and communications and financial technology. In 2016 the group also established the Rakuten Blockchain Lab, based in Belfast.

The company has cited a growing demand for crypto services from existing foreign exchange customers as a catalyst for the acquisition;

“In addition, a growing number of customers, in particular foreign exchange customers, of Rakuten Securities, the securities company of the Rakuten Group, have been calling for the provision of a cryptocurrency exchange service, which is also part of the background of the Rakuten Group considering entry into the cryptocurrency exchange industry.”

The company has acquired the exchange to register it with Japanese regulators early and develop cryptocurrency services for its customers by combining the knowledge and experience of the two organizations.

Rakuten already accepts Bitcoin payments and has been doing so since 2015 when it integrated its U.S. online portal with Bitnet, a leading Bitcoin payment processing firm. It also launched its own loyalty based cryptocurrency, Rakuten Coin, earlier this year.

This buyout is the latest in a long line of Rakuten acquisitions stretching back over a decade which includes a $100 million investment in Pinterest in 2012, Viber Media (messaging app) in 2014, and Bitcoin wallet startup Bitnet in 2016.

Crypto in Japan just keeps moving forward regardless of bearish activity on the markets this year.

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Canadian Crypto Exchange Coinsquare Prepares For European Expansion

Despite current market woes and prices lulling at a yearly low crypto exchanges and trading platforms are expanding at an unprecedented rate.

Canada’s premier crypto trading service, Coinsquare, has announced plans to expand into Europe in the fourth quarter of this year. According to the press release European customers will gain access to all of the major digital assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and Dash backed up with a secure and reliable service from the firm.

Chief Digital and Growth Officer of Coinsquare, Thomas Jankowski, said;

“Cryptocurrency investors globally want a platform they can trust. Coinsquare is a regulated, fully-compliant trading platform and we’re thrilled to offer the European market the same secure and intuitive interface that we offer to Canadians.”

Coinsquare, founded in 2014, has become one of Canada’s largest and most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges. Like Coinbase across the border in the US, it allows fiat to crypto trading for a number of different digital currencies. The move will be the first international expansion under the Coinsquare brand but not the first time the company has ventured overseas.

Last month the firm entered into a partnership in Japan with DLTa21, a global cryptocurrency investment bank. The collaboration allowed Coinsquare to open a cryptocurrency exchange for the Japanese market. Chief Executive of Coinsquare, Cole Diamond, added;

“Entering on a massive market like the EU is an exciting step closer to Coinsquare’s vision of becoming a global 21st century financial institution. Already the premier cryptocurrency exchange in Canada, we are careful in how we expand internationally to ensure we can offer the same high quality, secure service in every country we operate.”

However it was not specified which European country or countries the company would be operating in. If it follows the leads of Binance and Huobi it could choose crypto friendly Malta, Switzerland or Gibraltar which top the list of countries open to blockchain business.

Like its rivals Coinsquare continues to expand despite the bearish market of 2018. A new investment fund and portfolio manager offering a suite of products focused on emerging technologies including blockchain and cryptocurrencies was recently announced. Additionally a licensing division enabling the company to tap into regulated markets in the EU and Asia was also launched. More notably Coinsquare added XRP fiat trading to its listings a few weeks ago as part of its ‘global expansion’.

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Top Crypto Exchanges Join Hands To Tackle Regulatory Issues

Just weeks ago, the Winklevoss Twins’ Bitcoin ETF proposal was sadly denied by the SEC, with the US regulatory body citing concerns of manipulation and security as primary reasons why such an ETF would not be successful. Following the disappointing turnout for the final verdict, the twins took to Bloomberg to declare that they were not deterred by the SEC’s decision and would continue to trudge forward.

And it seems with a recent announcement that the twins are back, and are seemingly ready to tackle regulatory worries in the crypto community. In late-July, Ethereum World News reported that representatives from Gemini met with the Nasdaq, along with a variety of other firms, to tackle the regulatory development of the crypto industry.

With the arrival of a recent announcement, it seems that Gemini has kept with the theme of pro-regulation in the cryptosphere. As per a press release issued by the so-called “Virtual Commodity Association (VCA) Working Group” will work towards becoming a prominent self-regulatory body for “virtual commodity marketplaces (exchanges).”

The VCA will be initially composed of Bitstamp, BitFlyer, Bittrex, and Gemini, which all are home to a substantially sized American audience.

Representatives from the aforementioned four firms are scheduled to exchange formalities for the first time in September, where they will also flesh out the idea and aspirations of the newly-established VCA.

According to a somewhat pre-established meeting plan, the VCA will first highlight the guidelines for membership of the association. Secondly, exchange representatives will begin to create an outline for industry “best practices” and rules, that will only help to propagate “transparency, liquidity, risk management, and fairness.” Thirdly, member bodies will draw out a series of guidelines to address “member conflicts of interest, client communications, client disclosures, and record keeping.” And last but not least, the VCA members will do its best to establish a strong, dedicated and non-bias team of individuals to run this consortium.

Although this move is somewhat of a jab at governmental-operated bodies, the CFTC expressed its excitement for the VCA. CFTC commissioner Brian Quintez stated:

Given the absence of federal oversight jurisdiction in the crypto market, in February and again in March of this year I called on the crypto platform community to come together and develop a self-regulatory organization-like entity that could develop and enforce rules. Today’s announcement is a positive step towards that realization.

For the time being, this group will be headed by Maria Filipakis, who previously worked for the New York Department of Financial Services, where she was an integral part of the NYDFS’ move to establish the coveted “BitLicense.”

It is widely speculated that the introduction of a self-regulating conglomerate, like the VCA, will hail in another round of institutional interest, as traditional firms may realize that the crypto industry isn’t as rife with anti-regulatory madness as they may think.

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

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Coinbase Creates Its Own Political Action Committee (PAC)

The U.S cryptocurrency exchange known as Coinbase has created its own Political Action Committee (PAC). This is according to details made public on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website only today, July 21st.

Political Action Committees are organizations in the United States that pool campaign contributions from members with similar ideals, policies and political goals in a bid to donate them to the political campaigns of their preferred candidates, legislation or ballot initiatives.The funds can also be used against the campaigns that do not align themselves with the members of the PAC. The PACs are mandated to register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

But Political Action Committees are not without controversy. Many American citizens see them as a means for corporations and other private entities to contribute vast amounts of money to political campaigns in a bid to sway the final outcome of what should rather be a democratic process. The PACs are used by corporations and other private entities to circumvent the requirement that they cannot directly contribute to federal candidate campaigns.

With respect to Coinbase, the exchange has yet to raise any funds through the PAC.

Other Coinbase News

The recently launched Coinbase Custody service that stores digital assets for institutional investors and high net individuals, has been reported to have attracted a hedge fund that is worth close to $20 Billion. The name of the hedge fund has not been disclosed but there is news of the team at Coinbase planning on securing more hedge funds during the year to join the Custody service. There are also reports of the exchange planning to offer margin finance as early as by the end of the year.

All the progress being made by Coinbase is good news for not only the exchange, but for the general cryptocurrency ecosystem. The more institutional investors recognize cryptocurrencies as a viable form of investment, the more likely it is for mainstream adoption of crypto.

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Here is How Nano (NANO) is Silently Making Major Strides

Unbeknownst to many outside the Nano (NANO) crypto community, the project is silently making strides as the rest of the world focuses on the performance of Bitcoin (BTC) in the markets as well as the question as to whether institutional investors are getting into cryptocurrency investing.

Earlier on in the year, Ethereum World News had observed that the Nano (NANO) cryptocurrency was a sleeping giant due to its past crypto-market action as well as technical advantages over other cryptocurrency projects.

Firstly, the value of NANO rose by 41% when it was rebranded from Raiblocks (XRB) late in January. NANO was trading at $18.84 at the day of rebranding and had seen better times earlier in the year under Raiblocks when it was trading at $37.34. Secondly, transactions on the NANO are free. Yes. There are zero fees while transacting on the NANO blockchain. This then makes the cryptocurrency ideal for trading pairs, peer-to-peer transactions, micropayments as well as regular purchases of goods and services.

Recent developments indicate that the team at NANO released mobile compatible wallets on the 22nd of June. This means that HODLers of NANO can now transact with the digital asset via their Android or iOS powered mobile device. This adds to the already available desktop wallets for Windows, Linux and MAC.

Prior to the mobile wallet announcement, the team at NANO had announced that the famous hardware wallet of Ledger Nano S, was supporting the digital asset effective June 11. In a tweet on that day, the team at NANO announced the following:

Another major development of the Nano (NANO) project, is that the popular crypto-exchange known as Binance, is now a Nano representative. Evidence of this can be seen on the official block explorer for the Nano currency that is known as NANODE. This means that the team at Binance has seen that the NANO project is a solid one to the point where they want to offer their support as a representative. No wonder NANO was observed as being the fastest cryptocurrency on Binance.

In conclusion, all these project developments with regards to the NANO cryptocurrency might validate the numerous price predictions that have been put forth to estimate the value of the coin in the future. Some HODLers are optimistic that the current value of $2.33 is the opportune time to buy the digital asset for the future looks bright for NANO.

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. It is an opinion piece. The opinion herein should be taken as is. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available.

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OKEx and Malta Stock Exchange Team Up For New Platform Launch

The world’s second largest crypto exchange by trade volume, OKEx, has joined forces with the Fintech arm of Malta Stock Exchange Holdings, MSX, to launch a new exchange.

The initiative, part of Mediterranean Malta’s “blockchain island” drive, was formalized today by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in the capital, Valetta. According to the press release the new exchange will operate under the name OKMSX and provide a platform for security token trading.

OKEx currently handles $1.22 billion in daily trade volume and the partnership will leverage its digital asset operations and security expertise. This will be married with the Malta Stock Exchange’s 26-year track record of operating as a regulated stock exchange with extensive regulatory compliance and client due diligence.

The new platform has been slated for a first quarter of 2019 launch serving clients globally from its base in Malta. OKEx expects to complete its move to the island nation by the end of the third quarter this year.

Head of Government Relations of OKEx, Tim Byun, praised the partnership stating;

“Malta is taking the helm of regulating the blockchain technology and cultivating a regulated cryptocurrency and ICO epicentre. This joint venture marks our confidence in the Maltese government as well as our commitment to providing an efficient, secure, and transparent blockchain trading environment to clients worldwide. We believe OKMSX will be a milestone in the economic development of Malta,”

While Joseph Portelli, Chairman of the Malta Stock Exchange, added;

“Malta is on the cusp of becoming a centre of excellence within the global digital innovation landscape. We are thrilled to be teaming up with OKEx, a leader in the digital currency sector, to leverage our expertise on the compliance and regulatory front to truly be a trailblazer within the security token sector.”

Parliament member and Minister for the Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation department, Silvio Schembri, said that Malta has opened up a way for legally binding listing and trading of tokenized securities. Three cryptocurrency bills were approved last month as Malta moves to position itself as the heart of the crypto and blockchain industry in Europe.

OKEx, which revealed Maltese expansion plans in April, is following in the footsteps of rival crypto exchange, Binance, which moved operations there in March.

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Coinbase Retracts SEC Approval Claims

Coinbase has retracted reports of obtaining SEC approval for a trio of acquisitions in its quest to become a broker-dealer. The company also said it only discussed aspects of the deal with SEC officials and didn’t require the Commission’s go-ahead. This is the second time in as many days where a significant piece of news in the industry has been retracted or denied.

Coinbase Didn’t Receive SEC Endorsement

Reports emerged on Monday (July 16, 2018) that Coinbase had obtained approval from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to acquire three companies. These companies were Keystone Capital, Venovate Marketplace Inc., and Digital Wealth LLC. The acquisitions enabled Coinbase to operate as a registered broker-dealer for the crypto securities market.

However, the company retracted those reports, yesterday, (July 17, 2018). In an email to Bloomberg, Coinbase spokesperson, Rachael Horowitz, said:

It is not correct to say that the SEC and FINRA approved Coinbase’s purchase of Keystone because [the] SEC was not involved in the approval process.

SEC Approval Was Not Required

Horowitz also went on to say that the Commission’s approval was not required for the deal. According to Horowitz:

The SEC’s approval is not required for the change of control application. Coinbase has discussed aspects of its proposed operations, including the acquisition of the Keystone Entity, on an informal basis with several members of SEC staff.

The retraction from the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange platform is the second significant news to be retracted or denied in as many days. Reports also recently emerged that BlackRock was putting together a team to examine the merits of crypto-based investments. However, a few hours later, company CEO, Larry Fink dismissed those claims.

In the meantime, cryptocurrency investors will also be wondering what is to become of Coinbase’s bid to be a regulated broker-dealer. The main highlight of the plan is the listing of ICO tokens. The SEC has frequently classified ICO coins as security tokens. The following days and weeks will likely shed more light on the matter.

Are you concerned about the mixed reports that seem to be becoming a theme in the market? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.

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Crypto Pundit John McAfee Filling Legal Charges Against HitBTC

Cryptocurrency big daddy, John McAfee has declared his readiness to file legal charges against HITBTC, after the exchange allegedly refused to yield to his complains.

On different occasions, McAfee has been the voice of the cryptocurrency community, condemning “inhumane” actions of some governments who put a ban on cryptocurrency and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that earlier categorized some coins as security while playing double standard with many others.

“HITBTC has not responded to our requests. We are preparing a legal complaint against HITBTCs service provider and against HITBTC. If you have an issue with HITBTC, then please send details to: [email protected]

While the time that McAfee plans to fire his charges cannot be ascertained, the crypto enthusiast is gathering information from those affected by HitBTC services, which he said it is anti-people after it closed access to free health care available through Docademic.

The respected programmer whose Antivirus software known as McAfee was revered in the technology world earlier dished series of condemnations against HitBTC, but remained unsatisfied because the exchange has not replied him

The reason, as first stated by McAfee was that crypto exchanges are connected to banks and governments. He added that to take down the whole system (despotic government policies), exchanges must first be taken down. He said he singled out HitBTC because they are the worst.

In the same line, McAfee said he had sent eleven letters to HitBTC, however, he has not been replied.

“I have sent eleven empassioned letters to @hitbtc and received only one response. Is it our fault? CEO of Docademic, Mr. Charles Nader warned the CEO of Hitbtc three months prior to these unnecessary deaths. You tell me sir, who is responsible?”

Responding to McAfee, HitBTC sent a get well message to the crypto lord, then the exchange published a reply it sent to John McAfee, thanking him for been the voice of the cryptocurrency community.

Recently, McAfee released his “unhackable wallet”, Bitfi. The earlier batch of the wallet, according to him, sold out in less than a minute.

In the same line, the crypto lord had promised to unveil McAfee coin late last month. Observers have, however, opined that he is looking for a method to dodge the SEC unbendable policy before releasing the coin.

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This Scottish Hospital Has A Questionnaire To Gauge Crypto (BTC, ETH, XRP) Trading Addiction

Cryptocurrency trading in its infancy was considered as fun and exciting and the subject to memes and funny phrases such as When Lambo! But beneath the excitement and memes is actual digital funds being traded in the numerous exchanges online. This means that a savvy trader can end up being addicted to the lifestyle of constantly checking the prices of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), XRP – and the rest – in a manner that has been compared to actual online gambling or the type seen in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Las Vegas, Nevada.

It is with this background that the Castle Craig Hospital in Scotland, had earlier this year announced that it was offering treatment services to those suffering from Cryptocurrency trading addiction.

Chris Burn, who is a gambling therapist, at the hospital had this to say back in May about the similarities of crypto trading and traditional gambling:

The high risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler.

It provides excitement and an escape from reality. Bitcoin, for example, has been heavily traded and huge gains and losses were made. It’s a classic bubble situation.

It is therefore with this background and experience, that the same Scottish Hospital has released an online questionnaire for any crypto trader to gauge if they are addicted to the industry.

The questionnaire available online asks the following with a corresponding self grading system:

    • Do you feel compelled to check cryptocurrency prices all the time?

    • Do you invest more on cryptocurrencies than you can afford?

    • Do you feel the need to invest larger amounts of money to get the same feeling?

    • Have you spent more to get back money you have lost trading in cryptocurrencies?

    • Have you borrowed money from friends and family or sold anything to invest in Cryptocurrencies?

    • Have you ever wondered whether you have a problem with cryptocurrency trading

    • Have you ever experienced the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)?

    • Has your cryptocurrency trading ever caused you any health problems, including feelings of stress or anxiety?

    • Have people ever criticised your cryptocurrency trading or said you have an addiction problem (regardless of whether or not you thought it was true)?

    • Has your cryptocurrency trading ever caused financial problems for you or your family?

    • Have you ever felt guilty about trading in cryptocurrencies?

Score 0 for each time you answer “never”

Score 1 for each time you answer “sometimes”

Score 2 for each time you answer “most of the time”

Score 3 for each time you answer “almost always”

If your total score is 8 or higher, you may be addicted to cryptocurrency trading.

The institution goes on to add that if you feel that you are addicted to crypto trading and are in the U.K region, you can seek help through GamCare and the Castle Craig Addiction Treatment Clinic.

For those in the United States, one can seek help by calling the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 or visit Gamtalk.org. In Canada, visit problemgambling.ca.

Other self hep tips provided by Castle Craig are as follows:

Do:

      • Pay your important bills first, such as your mortgage, before you invest in cryptocurrencies.

      • Spend more time your with family, or friends who don’t have an interest in cryptocurrency.

      • Deal with all your debts rather than ignoring them

Dont:

      • View Cryptocurrency trading as the only way to make money – try to see it as a casual interest instead

      • Bottle up all your worries about your Cryptocurrency trading – talk to someone

      • Take credit cards with you when you start trading in CryptoCurrency

There is now a need for a global awareness on the dangers of cryptocurrency trading addiction with additional centers and helplines needed in other countries across the globe.

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Here is Why XRP is simply XRP and Not Ripple

Ripple’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, and the legal team at the company will spend the better part of the second half of 2018 defending against 3 concurrently running lawsuits against the parent company and its top management. The plaintiffs in all these cases want XRP declared a security for they believe the crypto asset is part and parcel of the company that uses the utility coin, Ripple.

Perhaps what has happened here, is a lack of differentiating Ripple the company, and the digital asset that is XRP, from the onset of this exciting world that is cryptocurrerncies and trading. The fault might be our own for when we started trading in crytpocurrencies back in November (in the case of the author), we continually referred to the coin as Ripple whereas we should have been referring to it via its actual currency code of XRP. Yes. This might be the reason. There was a lack of clarity from the get go from the traders as well as the team at Ripple. They too can be afforded a few ounces of blame 🙂

So why is XRP simply XRP and not Ripple?

Firstly, there is proof positive evidence that XRP was created before the company of Ripple was established. XRP was created in 2004 and the company that uses the coin in its network, Ripple, was only established in 2012. Chief Cryptographer at Ripple, David Schwartz, has clearly explained this aspect on numerous occasions including twitter.

Secondly, popular cryptocurrency tracking website of Coinmarketcap.com, has already figured out the difference in the two entities and now simply refers to the digital asset as XRP. If we remember a few months back, the website also used to refer to the coin as Ripple and had the blue splash logo that was the centerpiece of the digital asset. Now there is a prominent, futuristic looking X as the symbol for XRP on the website. Evidence of this can be seen in screenshot below with the current price of XRP at the moment of writing this.

New XRP symbol on coinmarketcap.com

A clearer new logo or symbol of the coin can be found below.

New XRP Symbol

In conclusion, there was some initial confusion when we, the crypto traders, referred to XRP as Ripple a few months back. This was due to the fact that back then, it was okay to interchange the two. But when the digital asset that is the favorite of many is facing the proverbial guillotine in court, and Ripple’s management team is facing possible jail time over the 3 aforementioned lawsuits, it might be time to lend them a hand and formally conclude that XRP is simply XRP and not Ripple.

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