Last month, an IBM executive hinted at the company launching a cross border payment system in partnership with Stellar (XLM) coin. Jesse Lund, said that the program would allow payments from anywhere in the world,
The newest digital asset to be launched on the Huobi platform is issued by Paxos Trust, labeled PAX . It’s regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Investors will be able to trade the USD-endorsed and currently under the supervision of NYSDFS.
GUSD, who claims to be the first world regulated stablecoin was recently issued by the Winklevoss twins (owners of the Gemini exchange). This stable coin will also be regulated under the supervision of NYDFS and is backed by $1 in hard currency.
TUSD is another dollar backed stablecoin listed on the exchange and entrusted by multiple banking partners.
Lastly, Circles USDC token allows financial institutions to join their platform through open membership and offers financial solutions to those who seek to resolve current cryptocurrency market issues.
Huobi Global, the fourth largest crypto trading platform in the world, currently hosts Tether which is the most popular US dollar peg stable coin to date. Tethers fully backed by the currencies reserve although it was trading at .5% lower than its real value as of yesterday ($0.965). At one point it failed to $.93 during the day but is now trading at.
Tether Limited, the company behind stablecoin has been accused of not holding enough USD reserves to back the Tether tokens in circulation. The stablecoin recently lost their USD peg in a recent flurry of market activity amidst continued negative market sentiment. Although it still dominates a reported 98% of daily stablecoin trading volume, a series of new competitors entering the stablecoin arena over the next week, will certainly place pressure on the current reigning champ.
Earlier in the week, OKEx, another major cryptocurrency exchange, announced that they will also be listing the same four stablecoins (USDC, GUSD, TUSD, and PAX ) within their exchange.
Cryptocurrency has always been an extremely volatile marketplace to trade in. Price swings of 10 to 50% within a 24 hour period can occur a few times a week and almost daily for lower volume coins.
Although these fluctuations may be great for both traders and investors (depending if your long or short), the volatility makes it very difficult to use in the real world. It not only hinders its adoption, but its fundamental ability to be utilized as a reliable currency.
Volatility plays a very important role in mass adoption as consumers want to be able to make transactions without having to worry about the value fluctuating overnight. Who wants to worry about getting paid for a product or service to only have that currency lose its value by over 30% next week?
From a business standpoint, merchants don’t want to accept transactions in a currency that includes a ton of risk. A great example of this would be employee payments. No one wants to work for a wage where you perform the same task every week but your paycheck is constantly fluctuating?
You’ll be happy to know that there is one emerging class of cryptocurrencies that are designed to tackle this exact issue. These are known as stablecoins.
Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency that presents itself as a price stable asset in an ever-fluctuating marketplace. It offers a medium of exchange, store of value, and unit of account.
Stable coins are universal and are not tied down to a central monetary authority. Its supply cannot be controlled and dictated under future influence.
There are different versions of the stablecoin however there are only 2 popular versions that are utilized the most. They are the IOU issuance model and cryptocurrency-collateralized model.
Let’s take a closer look at these two stablecoin models.
With this model, stablecoin holds a 1-to-1 ratio to an asset that resides within a bank account. As an example, a corporation could hold a physical asset like gold or silver in their bank, which could be tied to a particular stablecoin.
Each stablecoin, under this model, derives its stability from the fact that its value can be exchanged for a physical asset. A countries fiat currency or a particular metal like gold are generally the type of physical items that are tied to these types of coins.
One of the most popular stablecoins in existence today is Tether (USDT). The actual value of Tether is tied to the equivalent of one US dollar. To ensure the value of the Tether coin, it must be backed against a corresponding US dollar inside Tethers bank account.
This brings us to one limitation within the issuance model. It’s centralized, which means individuals must trust that the entity that holds the physical asset being represented by the stablecoin is held within the company’s account. As you can imagine, this requires a lot trust by owners of the coin.
With this model, stablecoins are not backed by centralized assets; they are backed by digital assets, for example Bitcoin. The main advantage to this asset is that it doesn’t require blind trust from participants in order for it to work.
For example: the asset that backs the stablecoin can be held in a smart contract. This way the amount of assets held are transparent and independently verified within the smart contract.
The problem with this model is that it’s tied to a cryptocurrency which is volatile in nature and runs contrary to stablecoins entire purpose. As a result the method may involve “over collateralization” so that price fluctuations can be absorbed
As an example of this, a smart contract can be created in order to hold $400 worth of Bitcoin. This would serve as collateral for say $200 worth of stablecoins. Now if an unexpected event were to occur (massive swing in price- “Black Swan event”) this would negatively impact the stablecoins value. This will result in the destabilization of the issued coin.
All major cryptocurrency enthusiasts are looking towards a catalyst that will result in mass adoption. There are a ton of factors that can contribute to such an event. We can all agree that overcoming market volatility is imperative to facilitating mass adoption.
Perfecting the stablecoin in order to bring about mass adoption can be a difficult task, however there is still a number of promising stablecoin projects that aim to overthrow these issues and bring about a non-volatile cryptocurrency within the crypto ecosystem.
Most crypto traders utilize the Tether coin, however there is a blockchain project that goes by the name of Basis, that claims to provide a stable cryptocurrency that is backed by a large number of US venture capital companies. This will likely be the closest competitor to Tether in the near future.
[UPDATE: There is a new stable coin on the market by the name of “Reserve” that has been gaining a lot of support from many major investors. You can read more about the coin along with other stablecoin releases here.]
Fidelity Digital Launches Digital Assets Trading
Fidelity Investments has been making plans to roll out a crypto asset platform to include trading for the top cryptocurrencies. In October, the company had said that it would be launching a separate company called Fidelity Digital Asset Services. Head of Fidelity Digital Assets, Tom Jessop had earlier stated that the company was taking a customer driven approach since the larger component of their client base were interested in Bitcoin and Ethereum trading as the two cryptocurrencies currently dominate market cap.
The platform was to be rolled out in March of 2019 but as the time of post we still do not have concrete news. Updates will be put up as soon as the platform is launched. The company already had a digital assets LLC and the question was only if the company would include cryptocurrency trading onto their business, and they wanted to provide a trusted service platform for their clients.
Morgan Creek Institutional Funding
Last month Morgan Creek announced that it had gotten funding for $40 million for a venture capital that they intend to invest in blockchain start-ups. What caught the attention of the crypto community was the big names of the investors that came up with the figure. They turned out to be Virginia State Police and public employee retirement funds. The other investors include a university, insurance company, a hospital system and a foundation.
The investors actually control assets in the figures of billions of dollars and $40 million may not seem much but it is astride in the right direction if institutions are willing to bet on blockchain and cryptocurrency trading. One of the partners at Morgan Creek, Anthony Pompliano addressed the issue and stated that the company may not be able to hold large amounts of cryptocurrency, but will look into taking early equity positions in blockchain start-ups.
Venture capital investment is very risky as most of these start-ups generally fail but his argument is that blockchain technology is evolving and being talked about everywhere in the financial sector. He argues that even if it could take years, the investment will definitely pay off. Having institutional money invested into crypto is a huge win even though it may not play a role in affecting the prices of cryptocurrency, it healthy for the crypto economy.
Social media company, Facebook will not be left behind in the mad rush for digital tokens between the internet’s messaging applications. As of December, the news was out that Facebook would first take its focus into the Indian market. The transfer of funds will be done through Whatsapp which Facebook acquired in 2014. The reason the focus is pegged on India is because the country has the highest remittance market as well as a very large number of Whatsapp users of over 200 million.
Facebook had set up its blockchain team last year after publicly advertising positions they intended to hire in software engineering, marketing and data science to further their agenda. In early January, Facebook acquired the team from London’s Chainspace and proceeded to approach different crypto exchanges regarding listing their own coin.
There are however questions raised as to Facebook’s privacy issues and they have a heavy task of convincing users to get on board with the blockchain project they intend to launch on Whatsapp. In my opinion, Facebook is counting on its phenomenal user scale compared to Telegram which is also rolling out its cryptocurrency agenda and has raised around $850 million so far to back the project, but can they trust Facebook with their money?
So far, Facebook is not entirely forthcoming with the complete process but they are obviously throwing resources towards this project if their recent crypto history is anything to go by. It will be quite interesting to watch how the whole thing unfolds and if it will work or gain traction among users and provide competitive ground.
There is a rapidly growing interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies among institutional investors while there seems to be lethargy in the number of retail buyers operating within the space.
In the report titled “Bitcoin Decrypted: A Brief Teach-in and Implications” and dated Oct. 31, the multinational investment bank’s research department gave an overview of the last six months of bitcoin and brought up insights about observable trends. This new report serves as an update to an earlier report published in December titled “Bitcoin Decrypted: A Brief Teach-in and Implications.”
The findings underscored the researchers’ observation of what the report described as the rapidly morphing thesis of the market, covering evolving perceptions of bitcoin since it was introduced into circulation as “electronic cash” in 2009.
In 2009, bitcoin came into reckoning as a viable alternative to the big banking cartels after it was first issued through open-source software. It attained a cult-like following, and by 2012, it was in the spotlight of mainstream news as the means of transaction in the online black market infamously referred to as the Silk Road marketplace. Its growing market capitalization drew the attention of entrepreneurs, tech-oriented individuals across the globe, activists, journalists, and blockchain-based crypto initiatives followed in their droves.
Bitcoin has been able to provide a decentralized payment mechanism which employs the use of a distributed ledger. While it appealed to some as a novel system capable of disrupting existing business models, it also proved to be a veritable tool for facilitating new economic relationships and linkages. As a digital currency, its distributed ledger makes it easier to process retail payment transactions such as e-commerce, person-to-person payments, and cross-border transactions with lesser costs and logistics attached when compared to what is obtained in financial institutions.
While it is still widely regarded as a speculative investment, it is already being used as a store of value and has been touted as a potential means of payment in the next decade. Dr. Zeynep Gurguc from Imperial College London has said that the criteria which need to be fulfilled for it to be fully incorporated into the payment systems include: scalability, usability, regulation, volatility, incentives, and privacy.
The report highlighted developments such as the recording of all transactions on a permanent ledger, the emergence of novel and cheaper technologies than bitcoin, volatility in the market, the volume of hacks, and hard forks as concerns which have affected the bitcoin ecosystem.
In view of this, the prevailing bear market coupled with the decline in price predisposes bitcoin and altcoins as a “new institutional investment class,” and this has been the trend in the last year.
The study cited the new crypto services division of Fidelity, investments in crypto firms such as Binance, and regulatory approvals as evidence of the increased participation of financial institutions lending credence to the market thesis.
According to the Morgan Stanley Research, some of the bottlenecks faced by clients who were interested in investing in the cryptocurrency industry include regulatory disparities, the absence of regulated custodial solutions, and the lack of formidable financial institutions operating in the industry.
The report also recorded the gradual rise of fiat-pegged crypto stablecoins, which more or less began in 2017 but has quickened this year. The decline in cryptocurrency prices elicited an increase in the share of BTC trade volumes taken by USDT. Exchanges were used to trading crypto for crypto with relatively few involved in the trade of crypto for fiat.
The research, however, does not see all stablecoins surviving on the long-term. Those who would survive will most likely have relatively lower transaction costs, very high liquidity, and a clear regulatory structure.
Tether Limited, the issuer of controversial USD-pegged cryptocurrency stablecoin tether (USDT), has confirmed that it has established a banking relationship with a small financial institution based out of the Bahamas.
The cryptocurrency firm, notorious for its opaque operations, broke from standard practice on Thursday, announcing publicly that it has formed a banking partnership with Deltec Bank, a 72-year-old financial institution located in Nassau.
Writing in the announcement, Tether said that Deltec had only opened the account after a several month review that included evaluating whether the company could maintain the USDT token’s $1.00 peg. That, peg,, has faltered in recent weeks, even as Tether has redeemed more than $1 billion worth of the token at full face value since the beginning of October.
|“The acceptance of Tether Limited as a client of Deltec came after their due diligence review of our company. This included, notably, an analysis of our compliance processes, policies and procedures; a full background check of the shareholders, ultimate beneficiaries and officers of our company; and assessments of our ability to maintain the USD-peg at any moment and our treasury management policies. This process of due diligence, was conducted over a period of several months and garnered positive results, which led to the opening of our bank account with this institution. Deltec reviews our company on an ongoing basis.”|
Tether further published a letter from Deltec apparently confirming that the firm — accused by some of operating a fractional reserve — is holding $1.83 billion at the bank, more than enough to cover the assets backing the 1.78 billion in outstanding USDT.
The letter, which was attributed to Deltec Bank & Trust Limited, stressed that this confirmation was made “without liability” to the bank:
“We hereby confirm that, as at the close of business on October 31, 2018, the portfolio cash value of your account with our bank was US$1,831,322,828.
“This letter is provided without any liability, however arising, on the part of Deltec Bank & Trust Limited, its officers, directors, employees and shareholders, and is solely based on the information that is currently in our possession.”
Prior to this public confirmation, Tether’s relationship with Deltec had first been reported by The Block. Previously, the firm was said to be banking at Puerto Rico-based Noble Bank, which is now reportedly up for sale following the departure of Tether and other large crypto industry clients.
In June, Tether published a report from US legal firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP that vetted the firm’s bank accounts, finding that they contained enough funds to cover the outstanding USDT as of June 1, the date on which the review was conducted.
Coinbase, long one of the largest companies in the crypto industry, now ranks among the world’s most valuable tech startups following the conclusion of a new funding round.
The San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange operator announced on Tuesday that it had closed a $300 million Series E funding round led by Tiger Global Management. The funding round, which Coinbase President & COO Asiff Hirji said gave the company a valuation of more than $8 billion, also featured participation from Y Combinator Continuity, Wellington Management, Andreessen Horowitz, and Polychain Capital.
Writing in the announcement, Hirji said that Coinbase, which recently outlined a new crypto token listing framework, plans to “quickly” list more cryptocurrencies, adding that “we see hundreds of cryptocurrencies that could be added to our platform today and we will lay the groundwork to support thousands in the future.”
Speaking with Bloomberg, he said that Coinbase did not need the funding but pursued it for “opportunistic” reasons. Citing company documents, the report states that Coinbase achieved a record $380 million in profit in 2017 and — despite the bitcoin bear market — estimates that profit will grow to $456 million in 2018 with revenue approaching $1.3 billion.
“The companies interested in investing in us know that this is the next wave of tech innovation,” Hirji told the publication. “This was an opportunistic round. We didn’t have to go out and raise capital.”
Reports had long circulated that Coinbase had internally valued itself at $8 billion, though this valuation had not been confirmed by the market — until now.
According to Bloomberg, Coinbase had attempted to conduct the funding round at an even higher valuation but found that the crypto market decline had made some investors hesitant about overpricing a cryptocurrency-focused startup.
|“For this round, we simply weren’t interested in taking investments from firms that didn’t have a constructive view of crypto,” Hirji said. “This round, and the future of crypto in general, needs to be about more than asset prices.”|
In addition to listing new cryptocurrencies, the firm intends to use this financing to further its global expansion plans and add new features and supported cryptocurrencies to its institutional platform, which recently received approval from New York regulators to operate as a qualified custodian. Moreover, Hirji suggested that Coinbase will prioritize developing more “utility applications” for cryptocurrency, noting its decision to serve as a co-founder of the USD Coin stablecoin project as an example of this commitment.
Previously, Recode had reported that Tiger Global was considering a $500 million investment in Coinbase, with at least a portion of those funds being used to purchase shares on the secondary market.
Tether Limited, the issuer of the USD-pegged USDT cryptocurrency, has destroyed 500 million units of the embattled stablecoin.
Blockchain data reveals that earlier today, the firm transferred 500 million USDT from the token’s treasury address to this address, which the firm’s website indicates is the official USDT issuing address. Immediately following that transaction’s confirmation, the issuing address revoked the tokens, not only removing them from circulation (as tokens within the treasury are not counted as circulating) but also — once the transaction is confirmed — destroying them completely.
USDT’s market cap has plunged in October, primarily because token holders have redeemed nearly 800 million USDT since the beginning of the month. Following these redemptions, nearly 1 billion tokens were sitting in the treasury where they remained on-chain but out of circulation. At the time of writing, the treasury continued to hold approximately 467 million USDT.
Update 17:29 UTC: Tether published a statement confirming that the tokens have been destroyed:
“Over the course of the past week, Tether has redeemed a significant amount of USDT from the circulating supply of tokens. In line with this, Tether will destroy 500m USDT from the Tether treasury wallet and will leave the remaining USDT (approx 466m) in the wallet as a preparatory measures for future USDT issuances.
“Conceptually, the Tether issuance and redemption process is outlined in the Tether whitepaper, with issuances and redemptions visible through observing the Tether treasury balance on the OMNI blockchain.”
Cryptocurrency exchange and brokerage giant Coinbase has provided a major stamp of approval to one of several recently launched USD-pegged cryptocurrency “stablecoins” seeking to supplant tether (USDT) as the leader in this burgeoning market niche.
The San Francisco-based Coinbase on Tuesday announced that beginning today, customers can buy, sell, send, and receive USD Coin, the cryptocurrency initially launched by fellow cryptocurrency unicorn Circle.
Coinbase customers throughout the world can send and receive the token, which is backed by physical dollars stored in company-controlled bank accounts, while U.S. customers — excluding those in New York — can buy and sell the token on Coinbase.com. USDC is not currently listed on Coinbase Pro — the firm’s order-book cryptocurrency exchange — though the company says it will be added to this platform “in the coming weeks.”
Commenting on its decision to support the USDC stablecoin, Coinbase said that fiat-based blockchain currencies could contribute to the development of “a more open financial system” and could further the adoption of decentralized applications (dApps):
|“The advantage of a blockchain-based digital dollar like USDC is easier to program with, to send quickly, to use in dApps, and to store locally than traditional bank account-based dollars. That’s why we think of it as an important step towards a more open financial system.”|
Coinbase also noted that stablecoins like USDC are ideal for business purposes and e-commerce applications, as payments denominated in these tokens can be made at any time of day without the inherent risks of price volatility associated with using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as working capital.
At present, though, stablecoins are primarily used as a USD proxy in cryptocurrency trading. Collectively, fiat-pegged assets see more than $2 billion in daily trading volume, with the vast majority of those trades currently denominated in the controversial tether token.
In adding support for USDC, Coinbase joins Circle as a founding member of the CENTRE Consortium, which governs the development of issuance of USD Coin and other stablecoins that the consortium may develop in the future.
According to the announcement, Coinbase had already partnered with Circle to build the underlying technology behind USDC, which is structured as an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum network, though the full extent of Coinbase’s involvement had not previously been made public.
In launching USDC through a partnership with Coinbase, Jeremy Allaire, co-founder and CEO of Circle, emphasized the importance of creating an asset that has no single owner or issuer.
|“Coinbase joining us to co-found CENTRE and launch USDC reinforces the value of a shared, standard, interoperable stablecoin. Like internet standards, USDC is now not owned by one single company, but distributed among network participants according to clear rules, regulations, and collectively-owned software,” he said. “When we began work on CENTRE and USDC last year, we envisioned collaborating with a consortium of industry leaders to set new standards for global value exchange and financial contracts. We’ve been thrilled to collaborate with Coinbase on CENTRE, and we look forward to welcoming more partners who share this vision.”|
Five days since losing its U.S. dollar peg, fiat-backed cryptocurrency tether (USDT) continues to trade at a discount to its supposed $1.00 valuation.
Defenders have largely chalked up the markdown to FUD, arguing that supporters of other “stablecoins” are launching a coordinated assault on tether, which has long dominated this market niche. However, billionaire investor and cryptocurrency bull Mike Novogratz says that USDT’s woes are the fault of its issuer’s lack of transparency.
“I think Tether didn’t do a great job in terms of creating transparency,” said Novogratz on Wednesday at a conference in Frankfurt, according to a Bloomberg report. The former Fortress principal specifically called out Tether Limited, the token’s creator, for operating offshore and remaining cagey about its financial relationships, including with whom it is banking.
Tether is said to be currently banking at the Nassau-based Deltec Bank, where it opened an account after severing ties with the now-floundering Puerto Rican institution Noble Bank. Neither of these relationships has been confirmed publicly.
Concerned about the firm’s opacity, Novogratz said that he prefers some of the newer stablecoin options, particularly the Gemini Dollar (GUSD), which is issued by the cryptocurrency exchange founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. Unlike Tether, Gemini’s assets are housed in a U.S. correspondent bank, the Boston-based State Street. The stablecoin issuer, which received approval from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYFDS) to release the token, has also contracted with accounting firm BPM LLP to evaluate Gemini’s monthly attestation reports detailing that the token is always fully-backed by USD.
“The concept of stablecoins make sense,” Novogratz said, explaining that they are ideal for transactional exchanges, unlike bitcoin, which he has referred to as “digital gold.”
However, competition within the stablecoin market is growing increasingly stiff. GUSD, along with “regulated” stablecoins Paxos Standard (PAX), TrueUSD (TUSD), and USD Coin (USDC), has been listed on a number of major exchanges in recent weeks. All of these tokens have consistently traded at a premium to tether, suggesting that, at least right now, the market trusts them more than USDT. Moreover, two of them — GUSD and USDC — have been added as settlement options on BitPay, which processed more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency payments last year.
In follow-up comments posted on Twitter, Novogratz stressed that he believed USDT is fully-backed by physical dollars and did not want to sow rumors about the token.
|“Id like to put context to these quotes as the last thing I want to do is spread FUD. I said I thought tether has a dollar for every tether and that we actively traded it. The fact that almost $700mm has been redeemed in an orderly fashion is important.”|
Nevertheless, he said that Tether must work harder to earn back lost trust and prove that its token should trade at its full $1.00 valuation.
Tether, the controversial issuer of the USDT cryptocurrency, may have found a new banking partner in the Bahamas.
As first reported by The Block’s Larry Cermak, Tether — whose USD-pegged cryptocurrency has a market cap in the billions of dollars — is said to be holding its fiat reserves at Deltec Bank, which is based out of Nassau.
Those reserves, according to the company, are quite large. As of Tuesday morning, there are more than 2.25 billion USDT tokens in circulation, representing $2.25 billion in physical assets. At one point, USDT was worth nearly $2.9 billion, though hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency token has been yanked out of circulation in October.
Tether reportedly shares a management team with cryptocurrency exchange giant Bitfinex, and, concurrent with Cermak’s report on the stablecoin issuer’s new banking partner, Bitfinex introduced a “new, improved and increasingly resilient fiat depositing system” that utilizes a “distributed banking solution.”
Previously, both Bitfinex and Tether were said to be holding assets at Noble Bank, a financial institution located in Puerto Rico. However, Noble Bank is now reportedly up for sale as the result of monetary struggles of its own.
Bitfinex did not reveal any details about its new banking partner(s). However, screenshots allegedly taken from within the new fiat deposit system suggest that the exchange does not want this information to become public.
|“This banking information is being provided to you for purposes of contributing good faith funding to your account on Bitfinex,” reads the message in the screenshot posted by widely-followed cryptocurrency investor WhalePanda. “This banking information is commercially sensitive and confidential. You should be very careful with this information. You are asked to keep this information to yourself and to not share it except with your financial institution. Divulging this information could damage not just yourself and Bitfinex, but the entire digital token ecosystem. Accordingly, you are cautioned that there may be serious negative effects associated with this information becoming public.”|
The tether price has slipped below the $1.00 mark in recent days, perhaps in part due to lingering concerns over the long-term ability to redeem USDT for physical currency. After slipping as low as $0.92 on Monday, tether’s global average had recovered to about $0.98 by the time of writing.
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