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Winklevoss Capital Partner Sterling Witzke: Dollar Is Not Designed for the Internet, but Stablecoins Are

Winklevoss Capital partner Sterling Witzke spoke to Cointelegraph about the future of stablecoins, regulatory clarity in U.S. and a fair price for Bitcoin

Sterling Witzke has been working at Winklevoss Capital — a venture capital firm set up by the famous Winklevoss twins — for five years now. As a professional investor, she is very interested in financing early stage crypto and blockchain projects. She believes that stablecoins are perfectly designed for the needs of internet payments and will steadily gain popularity as the industry evolves.

We talked to Sterling Witzke about the future of fiat-pegged cryptocurrencies, the necessity of proper legal frameworks and the future of the maturing crypto industry.

Clarity is always good for an ecosystem

Ana Berman: How do you think, what will 2019 bring in terms of regulation? The question is related to the ads that Gemini recently launched, which said, in particular, “Crypto needs rules.” Don’t you think it undermines the whole idea of decentralization?

Sterling Witzke: The short answer is no. As you know from the slogans, Gemini is very pro-thoughtful regulation and believes that consumers in the crypto space deserve the same protection as consumers in other industries.

It’s all about making fair outcomes for all. It doesn’t undermine the original ethos of crypto to have regulations. The distinction comes with the companies that are built on top of the protocol. So, at the protocol level, it’s absolutely correct that you don’t need any more regulation and rules, because those are already built in.

You’ve got the math and the cryptography that dictates the rules on the protocol. The difference is that the applications and companies built on top of those protocols are run by humans, and we all know they are fallible. That’s where the oversight comes into play.

AB: The United States Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) has recently claimed that crypto will be its top examination priority in 2019. Do you believe the SEC will take some important steps this year?

SW: I hope so. I think that regulatory clarity, especially on things like security tokens versus utility tokens, is needed to get us towards mass adoption. I know there are several companies that were thinking about raising capital, but are now a bit hesitant because they just aren’t quite sure how to operate in a gray area. Such firms want to ask for permission rather than forgiveness, which is our model also, and thus we appreciate that. But I think that clarity is always good for an ecosystem.

AB: Many entrepreneurs participate in crypto initiatives, like draft bills, round tables, etc. Is Winklevoss Capital interested in proposing some regulation or maybe discussing it with legislators?

SW: Tyler and Cameron are very involved and proactively working with regulators to help form the way that these rules are made, which I think is very important. We don’t want government to come down with a heavy hand, as they might not understand the intricacies of the ecosystem.

I am not involved in the regulatory side, but Tyler and Cameron have been very active in the space for a long time. One of the most recent initiatives is the Virtual Commodities Association [VCA], which is a self-regulatory organization started by Gemini. I believe that its current executive director, Maria Filipakis, is actually from the the New York Department of Financial Services [DFS]. So, there is a lot of ongoing communication and collaboration with regulators to try to move this case forward.

Investors are dipping their toes in crypto, no one is taking the plunge

AB: As far as we know, Winklevoss Capital is mostly focused on the investments and the institutional side of the business. Do you believe there will be more Wall Street involvement in 2019? What do you expect in terms of institutional investments?

SW: I don’t think that 2019 is necessarily the year. The end of 2017 was so crazy. People tend to think of the space as moving at lightning speed, but the underlying development doesn’t move that fast. I think it takes a while for institutions to get comfortable. There needs to be a better custody, and any kind of healthy debt and credit markets to get those institutions really excited.

So, I don’t think that I would make a prediction that 2019 is necessarily the year. I think that a lot of investors are thoughtfully dipping their toes in, but I don’t really see anyone completely taking the plunge.

Crypto markets face healthy corrections, as any emerging industry

AB: CNBC’s Brian Kelly once compared crypto regulations to a ski track. Someone has to put a warning sign on a dangerous one, and the skier then decides whether to take risk or not. Do you think it is a relevant description of what’s going on?

SW: I think that is a nice sentiment. The majority of me believes in free markets and free will. Everyone should be able to invest in what they want to invest in. But the fact is that we have some responsibilities to protect people.

I grew up in South Dakota, for example, and crypto has not really made a splash in the Midwest, yet. In the end of 2017, I had lots of friends who bought Bitcoin at $18,000 or $19,000 and kind of lost their shirts. For such a new market, we need the same protections as we do with public equities. The precedent is already here, and there is really no difference.

AB: You just mentioned the bubble of December 2017. Do you think it was a necessary process — let’s say, a sign of development?

SW: One hundred percent. I think that lots of new industries need irrational exuberance to garner excitement and really get the word out there. Thousands more people now know of Bitcoin. That said, there’s no reason why Bitcoin should have been $19,000.

That was all irrational exuberance, bubble — whatever you want to call it. You could maybe argue that this is an overly healthy correction, but I think that a healthy correction was 100 percent necessary. It’s part of the traditional cycle of a new industry emerging.

It was necessary to move this base forward, because it got rid of a lot of bad actors. From the end of 2017 to the beginning of 2018, we saw every Joe Blow creating an ICO [initial coin offering] just to raise, in some instances, hundreds of millions of dollars, and then take off and drink a Mai Tai on the beach. But their investors lost everything. The people that are left and active in the space are really in it for the long term. They see the fundamental effect that blockchain will have globally for the next 100 years. These people are in the industry for the long term.

Bitcoin is a store of value, not a speculative asset

AB: What, in your opinion, is a fair price for Bitcoin?

SW: I won’t make any price predictions, but I am happy where we are, because we’re in a build phase in the ecosystem. I think that the speculators that drove the price up are now sitting on the sidelines. And again, the people that are left truly believe in an ecosystem and think of Bitcoin as a store of value rather than a speculative asset.

AB: So, the ongoing price correction, let’s say, when Bitcoin hovers around $3,500, is more or less a fair process, right?

SW: I think it’s a fair process. And we’ll probably be at these price levels for a while. There is a lot of underlying infrastructure work to be done with things like scalability, user experience, etc. Maybe not on the underlying infrastructure part, but on the top layer. People aren’t going to use these applications if we can’t make it foolproof and extremely easy to use.

Stablecoins are designed for internet payments

AB: As per recent studies, the era of ICO craziness is now over. Many believe the future is in tokenized assets and stablecoins. Do you share this stance?

SW: The short answer is yes. The dollar has been a great form of payment for a long time, but it was not designed for the internet age we are currently in. We need a stable currency that works with the blockchain and the internet. Fiat-pegged stablecoins bring us ability to purchase assets or to be paid dividends in assets that are not volatile.

The craziest example of using something like Bitcoin as a form of payment is the pizza that was bought for 10,000 BTC back in the day. At that time, it was $20, and now it is about $3 million. So, we need something like a fiat-backed stablecoin to be able to facilitate transactions on the blockchain. It’s a currency designed for crypto.

That said, I’ll give my plug for the Gemini dollar [GUSD]. The Gemini dollar is 100 percent backed by the U.S. dollar, and it’s the only stablecoin that has actually released their banking partner, State Street, and are very upfront about that. State Street can say, “Yes, with 100 percent certainty we have 100 percent of the dollars that back GUSD.”

AB: Can you please tell us something about Winklevoss Capital’s blockchain plans for 2019?

SW: Winklevoss Capital invests in both blockchain and nonblockchain-related startups. So on the traditional venture capital side, we invest in early stage companies, both seed and Series A across industries. We’ve done a little bit of everything from e-commerce to IT hardware, and international logistics, and everything else.

On the blockchain side of things, we think about investing very similarly. We’re not trying to be a hedge fund, we’re not flipping public tokens. We sat out of the ICO craze, we’ve already discussed. We’re looking for a really long-term companies and founders that are trying to build a company for the next decades. We’re investing very patient capital with a seven to 10 years’ time horizon. We’re focused very much on infrastructure. As I mentioned, we think that scalability solutions for things like smart contracts are really interesting.

There’s so many interesting applications, like the ability to prove identity and bank the unbanked, which involves 2 billion people that don’t have an official form of ID or can’t get a bank account. If you think about 2 billion people coming online, not a single existing protocol can handle that.

You can also think of Bitcoin doing seven to 10 transactions a second, Ethereum doing 10 to 15, as a maximum — that’s just not feasible. So, we’re looking at solutions that can solve that problem.

Blockchain will be in focus next years

AB: Could you please name any particular companies you’ve already worked with or would like to invest into?

SW: Not yet, unfortunately. It’s something that I’m actively looking for but have not found, yet. We have not made any investments in this space. I think it’s an area of focus over the next year. I’m hopeful that more and more entrepreneurs will be focusing on that problem because it’s massive.

There are so many applications for a blockchain in the U.S. and in developed countries — to make markets more efficient, to fix what I would call First World problems, etc. But, at the end of the day, when we’re talking about addressing the bottom of the pyramid and applications for that, there is a huge quality of life difference that can be more impactful. I’m looking forward to more entrepreneurs focusing on those applications.

AB: Apart from the social application of blockchain, could you mention some areas that are interesting? What are the most promising industries for blockchain?

SW: I think that remittances are also interesting, but this is a social application as well. Gaming is an industry that is really promising. If you think about developers, they’ve been operating digital economies for a decade. Nobody understands the digital supply and demand economics better than gaming developers, and so that feels like a natural adaptation of blockchain — things like nonfunctional goods within games.

Imagine a kid that spends all his time developing this gaming character and another person that really loves playing a game like Fortnite, for example, but doesn’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to it. In that case, the kid could sell the character to someone who’s willing to pay. And, actually, that’s a good use case for stablecoins — defensible goods within gaming.

AB: How many years do we need for mass adoption?

SW: Most likely, several. There is a lot that needs to happen to the underlying infrastructure, and an amazing amount of things that needs to happen to usability before the average consumer is really using applications.

The interview was conducted at the sidelines of the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in January 2019. The panel Sterling Witzke took part in was called “From anarchy to adoption — are we selling out or really creating a better world?”

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Silvergate Bank Onboarded 59 New Crypto Customers in Q4 2018

Major U.S.-based bank Silvergate added 59 new crypto customers in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Crypto-supportive Silvergate Bank has signed on a slew of new cryptocurrency customers in the fourth quarter on 2018, according to a recent filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The filing reveals that as of Dec. 31, 2018, Silvergate had 542 digital currency-related clients including cryptocurrency exchanges and miners, custodians and global investors, among others. This marks an increase of 59 crypto-related customers since a previous filing in September 2018.

By Dec. 31, 232 cryptocurrency customers were purportedly in various stages of the bank’s customer onboarding process, including regulatory compliance.

The bank further says that it believes that acceptance of digital currency by traditional financial institutions will continue to grow, highlighting the following data:

“Currently, there are over 300 institutional investment funds with aggregate estimated assets under management of between approximately $7.5 billion to $10 billion. Over $8.3 billion has been invested in digital currency-related projects, excluding initial coin offering funding, since December 31, 2013. Approximately $1.3 billion in venture funding was raised in the digital currency and blockchain market in the 12 months ended June 30, 2018, which is the most recent date such information is available.”

Per the document, in the fourth quarter of 2018 the bank saw two exchanges, 33 companies, and 24 investors among its new clients, including software developers, cryptocurrency miners, and service providers.

Throughout the whole year, Silvergate’s deposits derived from cryptocurrency customers reportedly increased by $150.4 million, or around 11.4 percent. Digital currency investors’ deposits saw a growth by $4.8 million to $577.5 million, while other startups’ balances increased by $46.4 million, reaching $273.9 million.

Last February, the Digital Currency Group (DCG), a cryptocurrency venture capital firm, announced that they had invested in the Silvergate Capital Corporation, which contains the Silvergate Bank. As the Corporation later revealed on its website:

“Proceeds from this placement will support further growth in the Bank’s nationwide fintech deposit initiative and its business banking and residential lending activities.”

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Cryptopia Crypto Exchange Resumes Trading on 40 Crypto Pairs

New Zealand-based crypto exchange Cryptopia has reopened trading on 40 trade pairs following a mid-January hack.

New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia has resumed trading on 40 trade pairs, according to a tweet from the firm on March 18.

In the tweet, the company announces that it has “resumed trading on 40 trade pairs that we have quantified as secure. We will continue to expand this list as we clear more coins.” The update follows the exchange’s recent announcement of the plans to reopen trading on its platform by the end of March, following a $16 million hack in mid-January.

In January, Cryptopia suspended services after detecting a major hack that reportedly “resulted in significant losses.” The platform had initially informed the public it was undergoing unscheduled maintenance, issuing several updates before officially disclosing the breach.

After the initial reports of the hack, further evidence reportedly surfaced that hackers were siphoning crypto out of the exchange as late as two weeks later.

As previously reported, Cryptopia’s co-founder Rob (Hex) Dawson said that the company re-launched its website in read-only form on March 5, however the platform showed the balances as they were at Jan. 14, 2019, the date of the hack. The exchange explained that the website could be used to reset passwords and two-factor authentication credentials, which is also a top priority issue in terms of client support at the current stage.

Hex also specified that users who had lost their cryptocurrencies would start to see a section dubbed “Withdraws on your account for those coins.” He explained that transaction IDs (TXIDs) for the withdraw orders will not exist on the network, but include details on how the coin had been impacted during the event.

Today’s tweet faced a mixed reaction from the community, with some users welcoming the company back and others accusing Cryptopia of trading manipulation:

“Cryptopia manipulate trading at some extent. they open trading with wallet offline and no announcement.”

Another user said:

“what are you talking about? you took my BTC  i saw withdraw history : INTERNAL WITHDRAW: on March 18 2019….. i want my BTC back!!!!!!!”

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Major Cryptocurrencies See Slight Gains, Palladium Hits $1,600 for The First Time

Crypto markets are seeing a tint of green, with just a few top coins in the red. Bitcoin is hovering over the $4,000 mark.

Tuesday, March 19 — cryptocurrency markets are mostly trading in the green zone, with Bitcoin (BTC) hovering above the $4,000 mark.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

During the day, BTC has been trading in a narrow corridor between $4,031 and $4,082. At press time, the leading coin is trading at around $4,059, up around 0.62 percent on the day.

Today, major cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that its new service “Binance Lite” will enable the exchange’s Australian customers to purchase Bitcoin with fiat currency from supported newsagents.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The second largest crypto by market capitalization, Ethereum (ETH), is trading at $139.88, having gained 0.19 percent on the day at press time. Today, the altcoin dipped to its lowest price point of the week at $139.15, following an intraweek high of $144.43 on March 16.

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP) is currently trading at $0.318, seeing slight growth in price during the day by 1.10 percent. The coin began the day at $0.314, while its highest price mark on the day was $0.319.

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Stellar Lumens (XLM) — which was today added by major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase —  is trading at around $0.1138 at press time. The altcoin has dropped by 1.79 percent on the day.

On the health scale recently introduced by CoinMarketCap, XLM is sitting at the 725 points at press time.

Stellar Lumens 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Stellar Lumens 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Binance Coin (BNB), the native token of major crypto exchange Binance, has lost around 0.70 percent over the past 24 hours, and is trading at $15.53 at press time.

Earlier today, Binance Launchpad, Binance’s token launch platform, completed a $4 million sale of Celer Network tokens (CELR). The tokens sale was completed in 17 minutes and 35 seconds, with all 597,014,925 CELR tokens sold in a single session.

The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is currently around $140 billion, down by around $1 billion from its weekly high of $141.5 billion.

7-day total market capitalization chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

7-day total market capitalization chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Today CNBC reported that palladium climbed over $1,600 for the first time, however at press time the asset is trading at around $1,597. Platinum reportedly rose by almost 3 percent, and is trading at around $852.9 at press time.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reportedly closed lower for the first time in five days, exposed by declines in Apple, while investors are concerned about conflicting reports over the progress of United States-China trade negotiations.

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Report From Former CFTC Chairman Calls for Advanced Crypto Regulations

A recently published report from former CFTC chairman Timothy Massad has called for better regulations on crypto assets.

A recent report published for the Brookings Institution is calling for enhanced regulations on cryptocurrencies. The report was authored by Harvard University fellow Timothy Massad, who served as chairman of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) during the administration of Pres. Barack Obama.

The report dubbed “It’s time to strengthen the regulation of crypto-assets” addresses the purported need for better regulation on digital currencies, the illicit use of cryptocurrencies, as well as measures for reducing the risk of cyber attacks. The report also provides direct recommendations of how to improve existing cryptocurrency regulations.

Per the report, there is a gap in the regulation of crypto assets that contributes to fraud and weak investor protection, which is partly represented by the fact that traditional standards required for securities and derivatives market intermediaries are not applied to cryptocurrency trading platforms.

Massad writes that cryptocurrency exchanges are not properly regulated, making them vulnerable to fraud and manipulation, as well as conflicts of interest, which raises the need for regulations to minimize operational risk and implement system safeguards.

The report points out that insufficient regulatory supervision creates broader risks in respect to cyber security and illicit payments, which results in more hacking attacks.

The former CFTC Chairman suggests that the U.S. Congress has to address the aforementioned issues by developing regulatory oversight of the cash market for crypto assets, trading platforms and other intermediaries that operate in the market.

Both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the CFTC are purportedly competent enough to regulate the industry, so there is no need to establish a separate agency. The report states that Congress should authorize the SEC to regulate cryptocurrency circulation and regulation of trading platforms, custodians, brokers and advisors.

The legislation should also set forth core principles, rather than specifics for regulations, the same way Congress has done for futures and crowdfunding, Massad states. He added that the industry should continue to develop its own self-regulatory standards.

In January, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO and co-founder of crypto finance company Circle, said the biggest regulatory hurdle facing crypto today is the lack of clarity from the SEC. Allaire wrote in a Reddit AMA session:

“The biggest and most immediate regulatory hurdle we face is the lack of specific guidance from the SEC on how to classify various crypto assets. We believe many are clearly currencies and commodities, and there needs to be more specificity on what are really securities. This can unlock a lot of market activity, and also clearly enable the growth of a market for crypto-based securities.”

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TNW: Binance Lite to Allow Australians to Purchase Bitcoin at Newsagents

Binance Lite will enable the exchange’s Australian customers to buy Bitcoin with fiat money from supported newsagent stores.

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance is expanding its “Binance Lite” service to allow Australian residents to purchase Bitcoin (BTC) at newsagents, technology news outlet The Next Web reported on March 19.

The new service Binance Lite — which will initially be introduced in Australia — is purportedly set to enable customers to buy digital currency with fiat money from more than 1,300 supported newsagents within the country. The service currently supports only the purchase of Bitcoin, although it will offer more digital currency and fiat options at a later date.

Before using the service, customers are requested to pass account verification, including Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering procedures. Following that, users will be able to place an order online, deposit cash at a newsagent, and receive their Bitcoin “within minutes.” Australian customers of Binance Lite will reportedly be required to pay a five percent fee for operations.

Earlier this month, CEO of Binance Changpeng Zhao hinted at the creation of a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina in a tweet. Following the tweet, crypto news website CoinSpice reported about an agreement between the government of Argentina with Binance Labs — the exchange’s investment and social impact arm — to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by the exchange.

In January, Binance added support for credit card cryptocurrency purchases through its partnership with payment processor Simplex. Zhao said then that the exchange’s clients can purchase digital assets with credit cards and “start trading in minutes.”

Last November, Binance confirmed to Cointelegraph that it would use an automated KYC application provided by financial software firm Refinitiv. This will purportedly allow Binance to integrate the World-Check Risk Intelligence database into their internal workflow and streamline the screening process for onboarding, KYC, and third-party risk due diligence.

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Binance Launchpad Hosts Its Third ICO With Celer Network Raising $4 Million

Binance’s exclusive token launch platform Binance Launchpad completed a $4 million sale of Celer Network (CELR) tokens.

Binance Launchpad, the token launch platform of the major global crypto exchange Binance, has completed a $4 million sale of Celer Network (CELR) tokens, the company wrote on March 19.

The tokens sale was completed in 17 minutes and 35 seconds, with all 597,014,925 CELR tokens sold in a single session.

As the company announced two weeks ago, the CELR token sale only accepted Binance’s own cryptocurrency Binance Coin (BNB), with each CELR token worth 0.000434 BNB or $0.0067 dollar equivalent. One BNB could purchase 2,303.35821 CELR tokens. The minimum investment amount was set at $20, while the maximum contribution amount was capped at $1,500.

Binance Launchpad is an exclusive token launch platform of Binance that is designed to help blockchain startups raise funding to develop products targeting cryptocurrency adoption. As such, Celer Network represents a layer-2 scaling platform that aims to enable off-chain transactions for both payment transactions and generalized off-chain smart contracts.

Previously, Binance Launchpad hosted two major tokens sales such as the Fetch.AI (FET) and the BitTorrent token (BTT). The BTT sale concluded on Jan. 28, with investors purchasing all 50 billion BTT tokens, worth of $7.1 million, in less that 15 minutes. The FET token sale raised $6 million dollars on Feb. 25.

At press time, Binance is the second largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume, having been slightly overtaken by Hong Kong-based OKEx. Yesterday, trading analytics platform The Tie published research claiming that 90 percent of trade volumes reported by crypto exchanges may be incorrect.

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Japanese Company Launches New Stablecoin Pegged to the US Dollar

A Japanese company has launched a ERC-20-compliant stablecoin that is pegged to the U.S. dollar and supported by major Ethereum crypto wallets.

A Japanese company has launched an ERC-20-compliant stablecoin that it says offers “absolute decentralization, maximum security and a reliable source of stability in the face of volatility.”

As its name suggests, USDDex is directly pegged to the United States dollar, helping traders to move their money into crypto without exposing themselves to the erratic price movements seen in other major digital assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The company believes that its stablecoin could become a viable alternative to fiat and trigger the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, giving employers a safe way of paying their workers’ salaries while enabling consumers to make purchases with confidence.

USDDex firmly believes that 2019 is going to be the year of the stablecoin, citing research that suggests that the monthly trading volume of the first five such coins in the market has now exceeded $100 billion. Indeed, even major corporations are getting in on the action, with reports suggesting that Facebook is engaged in a top-secret project to launch its own.

The fixed rate of USDDex means that one of its tokens equates to $1. Adaptable to both centralized and decentralized exchanges, the firm says that its cryptocurrency is supported by most major Ethereum wallets, including MyEtherWallet, MetaMask, Ledger and Parity.

Presently, the company is also preparing to list on 20 exchanges, including HitBTC, Stellar, Bibox and Changelly.

Reliable and stable

The company says that every USDDex stablecoin is collateralized in excess, meaning that those who own this cryptocurrency are inoculated against wild price swings, irrespective of how the market behaves.

More than 800 trading pairs are also supported, enabling users to switch from Ethereum, Bitcoin, XRP, EOS, Litecoin and hundreds of others to USDDex with ease.

USDDex is available here

In a video explaining its vision, USDDex executives argue that stablecoins are essential if crypto is going to be used on a widespread basis, as right now, prominent coins and tokens only prove beneficial to speculative traders.

Ayako Nakamura, the company’s chief marketing officer, explained: “USDDex introduces the breakthrough technology and the possibility to develop an independent, transparent and potentially more stable monetary policy than ever before. The priority in the corporation is interaction with leading decentralized exchanges.

“The highest level of estimated reliability is provided by open-source code — proved by a repeated comprehensive security audit as well as open information of each USDDex token. Everyone can review this information.”

An experienced team

USDDex’s CEO and founder is Hitoshi Shibata. The entrepreneur — who is part of a working group on blockchain integration into Japan’s banking sector — started the business after leaving a 15-year career at Mizuho Financial Group. According to the company’s website, he “successfully developed and implemented complex economic projects for governmental and private organizations” while serving in this role. He believes that decentralized stablecoins are going to represent the next big breakthrough in the crypto industry — and in the past, he has invested in blockchain projects including 0x and Binance Coin.

He is joined by Naoki Sakamoto, the chief operating officer; Masaki Hatano, chief technology officer; Jiho Hong, chief information officer; and Ayako Nakamura as CMO. Tatsuo Okuda, Naoki Tamura and Satoko Kudo all serve in an advisory capacity.

The company raised funds in a closed round in December 2018, and says this initiative exceeded expectations after achieving its target in a matter of hours. An additional sale of limited amount of USDDex stablecoin with 45 percent bonus is launching on March 19, one month before the stablecoin is officially offered to the public. The company says its main goal “is the open and active participation of the crypto community in the life of the project.”

Learn more about USDDex

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Fortune 500 Company Avnet Works With BitBay to Add Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash Payment Option

One of the global leaders of electronic components distributions is working with BitPay to facilitate a cryptocurrency payment option.

Avnet, Inc, one of the world’s largest distributors of electronic components and technology solutions providers, has announced a collaboration with crypto payment processor BitPay to accept cryptocurrency for the company’s services and products. The development was disclosed in an official press release published on March 19.

Avnet, Inc., which has been listed on Fortune 500 for 24 years, had an annual revenue in 2018 of more than $19 billion.

The press release writes that Avnet will accept payment with Bitcoin (BTC) or Bitcoin Cash (BCH), while BitPay will verify the purchased funds and complete the transaction. The company has also announced that it had “closed several multi-million-dollar cryptocurrency transactions within the first month of accepting bitcoin,” specifying that this also includes their work with Bitcoin.com on a new hardware wallet.

The ability for the company to accept crypto will give Avnet customers more options for completing their financial translations, according to the company. The press release states:

“By accepting bitcoin as a payment option, Avnet is continuing to break down the barriers customers face when getting their ideas to market by enabling easier access to its unique end-to-end ecosystem of design, product, marketing and supply chain expertise at every stage of the product lifecycle.”

As Cointelegraph reported on Jan. 30, BitPay has also partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit and charitable organization that operates Wikipedia, to provide the possibility to accept donations in cryptocurrency.

And, earlier today, leading Swiss online retailer Digitec Galaxus announced that it would accept 10 different cryptocurrencies as payment for its products.

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QuadrigaCX Co-Founder Michael Patryn Is Actually Convicted Criminal Omar Dhanani: Report

QuadrigaCX’s co-founder Michael Patryn is allegedly formerly known as Omar Dhanani, who operated a credit card fraud scheme in 2002.

A co-founder of controversial QuadrigaCX exchange was reportedly involved in multiple criminal activities in the past, Bloomberg reports on March 19.

Michael Patryn, who co-founded Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX along with Gerald Cotten in 2013, was previously known as Omar Dhanani, a person that was involved in multiple crimes in the United States, Bloomberg states.

$145 million in clients’ crypto assets was found to be missing from the QuadrigaCX exchange after its co-founder and CEO Cotten died at the age of 30 from complications of Crohn’s disease in December 2018. The exchange is now ongoing legal and financial proceedings amid the controversy over the missing funds, having appointed Ernst & Young as an independent monitor in its creditor protection case.

Patryn reportedly left QuadrigaCX in 2016, citing a fundamental disagreement with Cotten over the listing processes for the firm. According to Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail, Patryn and his partner, Lovie Horner, remain two of QuadrigaCX’s largest shareholders, although he has not had any involvement in the company’s operations since 2016.

While Patryn has recently denied the allegations that he and Dhanani are the same person, Bloomberg reportedly acquired official Canadian records saying that Patryn legally changed his name twice — first losing his last name, Dhanani and then replacing his first name, Omar — in 2003 and in 2008.

Dhanani, one of the alleged past identities of Patryn, was reportedly sentenced to 18 months in the U.S. federal prison for being involved in identity theft related to both bank and credit card fraud back in 2005. According to Bloomberg, 22-year-old Dhanani pleaded guilty to operating shadowcrew.com in 2002, a now-defunct marketplace that trafficked over 1.5 million stolen credit card and bank card numbers.

In 2007, Dhanani also admitted guilt in separate criminal cases for for burglary, grand larceny and computer fraud, Bloomberg reports, citing California state court records.

Per Bloomberg’s allegations, Patryn reinvented himself as a Bitcoin (BTC) entrepreneur after he was deported to Canada. According to Patryn’s LinkedIn profile, he is now based in Vietnam, and has been serving as founder and chairman at fintech Ventures Group (FVG), a Canada-based blockchain incubator.

Patryn provided few details about his 13-years working experience before QuadrigaCX on LinkedIn, only specifying that he worked in many digital currency-related firms from 1999 to 2013.

Recently, Cotten’s widow Jennifer Robertson revealed that Cotten was funding the exchange with his own money while it was in litigation with a major Canadian bank.