The World’s Largest Asset Manager, BlackRock, Seeks Potential Interest in Bitcoin Futures

The World’s Largest Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), BlackRock, Seeks Potential Interest in Bitcoin Futures

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager announced the formation of a working group to assess the potential involvement in Bitcoin. This reported by Financial News today on July 16.

The CEO of Blackrock, Larry Fink, previously described Bitcoin, prior to last year’s all-time high, as an “instrument people use for money laundering”. This is a complete 180 from BlackRock’s more previous critical stance towards the cryptocurrency.

The decision seems to follow in the footsteps of the financial giant Goldman Sachs, who will among other things, focus on whether the company should invest in Bitcoin futures.

A spokesperson from BlackRock stated that the company has been “looking at blockchain for several years now” however it did not mention anything about cryptocurrency.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blackfein, had previously told the media that Bitcoin “is not for him”, before another announcement was made that there would be a dedicated research team looking to how Goldman Sachs could provide a range of financially based cryptocurrency products upon the massive customer demand.

BlackRock has just under $6.3 trillion in assets under management as a 2017. Institutional money seems to be waiting for its ideal entry point while the discussion continues to circulate among financial commentators.

Robin Hood Cryptocurrency Trading Platform Adds Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash

Robin Hood, the financial services mobile app, just added support for Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) on their cryptocurrency platform according to their blog post on July 12.

The company’s blog post states that they plan to further expand their selection of cryptocurrency and add support for coin transfers. Robin Hood’s platform has currently reached over 5 million users and counting.

RobinHood launched their zero fee trading platform back in February, which originally supported Bitcoin and Ethereum, with trading only available to US residents in California, Montana, New Hampshire, Missouri, and Massachusetts.

The app now can be used across 17 states and has raised $363 million in May during a series D funding round which will enable them to expand their cryptocurrency platform across the entire country.

The trading platform has also recently become the subject of rumors stating that they may potentially launch a cryptocurrency wallet after posting a job listing for crypto engineers.

Philippine Central Bank Approves 2 New Crypto Exchanges

Philippine Central Bank Approves 2 New Crypto Exchanges

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved the accreditation of two new virtual currency exchanges, bringing the total number of regulated crypto exchanges in the country to five.

In a statement released by Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier, the BSP announced that it has granted operating approval to Virtual Currency Philippines, Inc. and ETranss to carry out conversion of Philippine pesos (PHP) into virtual digital currencies.

Pinoy Cryptocurrency Boom

The Philippines has attracted a measure of attention for its unique approach to the cryptocurrency boom. Rather than crack down on crypto trading or send out mixed signals as is the case in much of the developing world, the BSP has consistently adopted a progressive policy direction, recognizing that cryptocurrencies offer huge advantages to Filipinos, particularly in terms of accessing cheap credit and enabling cheaper and faster remittances from abroad.

CCJ previously reported that the most popular crypto app in the Philippines, Coins.ph now has a user base of more than five million people, with more than a million users on its Android application alone. This app has achieved wild popularity by providing a range of transaction and credit options including mobile payments, bill settlements and short term unsecured loan facilities.

Importantly, it also provides fast and cheap remittance services, which is extremely important to the estimated 10.2 million people of Filipino descent who work abroad and sent an estimated $7.8bn home in the first quarter of 2018. Other crypto platforms in the country are keying into the exploding popularity of crypto payments and this has not gone unnoticed by the government.

Philippines Bitcoin
Philippine authorities have introduced effective but encouraging regulation for the domestic cryptocurrency industry. Pictured: Manila, Phillippines 

Earlier in July, CCN also reported that the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), an economic zone in the northern part of the Philippines supported by the government, will embrace up to 25 cryptocurrency exchanges with friendly regulations and tax policies.

The unrivaled enthusiasm for crypto-based innovation at a time when many regulators continue to view it as a competitor, can be traced to the economic knock-on effect it is having on the Philippine economy. Long seen as an ossified economy where people had little choice but to emigrate in search of opportunities, the Philippines is now witnessing a financial industry boom fueled by crypto.

A recent CCJ report revealed that crypto exchanges and crypto startups in the country are now consistently outperforming traditional financial institutions and services, with Coins.ph attracting $10 million in funding from Naspers and becoming one of the top 10 most used domestic applications in the country, exceeding the growth rate of financial platforms and other fintech applications.

No doubt sensing an opportunity to give the economy a jolt, the Philippine authorities have become of the most crypto-friendly regulators in the world, quickly giving official recognition to digital assets and legitimizing the crypto sector.

Plans are also in place to provide operating licenses to crypto startups from across Asia and beyond looking to offer ICOs and mine mine cryptocurrency in the Cagayan Economic Zone.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao Says “Bitcoin Still in a Good Position After 70% Fall”

Binance-CEO-Changpeng-Zhao-Says-Bitcoin-Still-in-a-Good-Position-After-70-Fall

 Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the founder and CEO at the world’s biggest crypto exchange Binance, has said that bitcoin is still in a positive position after its 70 percent fall since early 2018, especially considering its strong rally throughout 2017.

Crypto Market is Better in Every Way

From January to December of 2017, the price of bitcoin increased from $890 to $20,000, by more than 2150 percent. In comparison to mid-2017, the volume of bitcoin has increased by five-fold, signifying a significant surge in demand and interest towards cryptocurrencies as an emerging asset class from investors in the public market.

In an interview with Bianca Chen, a cryptocurrency researcher and reporter in Zug, Switzerland, CZ said that the cryptocurrency sector is in a better position than a year ago, in terms of infrastructure, price, volume, and mainstream interest.

“Just checked, btc price was $2500 a year ago, today $6800. Trading volume for btc was 780m a year ago, today is 3.4b. There you go,” CZ said.

In mid-2017, the cryptocurrency sector did not have any proper infrastructure in place for both retail and institutional investors. As of July, the crypto market has an institutional platform called Coinbase Custody established, with which hedge funds, academic institutions, and pensions can purchase many millions of dollars worth of digital assets like bitcoin and ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain protocol.

Major banks and financial institutions such as JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley have publicly disclosed their intent to facilitate the growing demand from their clients in the traditional finance sector towards cryptocurrencies by operating digital asset trading desks and exchanges in the future, once regulatory uncertainty around the crypto exchange market is cleared by the financial authorities of the US.

Most recently, at the Economic Club of New York conference, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that if government-operated fiat currencies can dominate the financial system, consensus currencies can also emerge as dominant mediums of exchange.

More to that, Blankfein emphasized that it is arrogant to think cryptocurrencies simply cannot work because they are based on new fundamentals, principles, and philosophies.

“If you go through that fiat currency where they say this is worth what it’s worth because I, the government, says it is, why couldn’t you have a consensus currency? And so it’s not for me, I don’t do it, I own no bitcoin. Goldman Sachs as far as I know… has no bitcoin, but if it does work out, I could give you the historical path why that could have happened. I’m not in this school of saying… because it’s uncomfortable with me, because it’s unfamiliar, this can’t happen, that’s too arrogant,” Blankfein said.

So Where Does Bitcoin Go Next?

Similar to the 2014 correction, the drop in the price of bitcoin in 2018 was caused by the bubble of retail investors. The recognition of cryptocurrencies as an emerging asset class by banks, leading economies, and governments like the US, Japan, and South Korea will enable the next FOMO, fear of missing out, amongst large-scale investors and institutions.

Binance Donates $1 Million Victim Relief forJapan Floods

Binance Donates $1 Million Towards Victim Relief for West Japan Floods

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, pledged $1 million for the victims of the floods in West Japan.

In an official post, Binance stated:

On Saturday Japan has been hit with unprecedented rainfall causing floods and landslides. According to a BBC report, More than 60 people have died and about a dozen people have been missing since. PM Shinzo Abe has ordered the evacuation of two million people in the disaster-prone areas.

Binance has urged users who’d like to donate to the cause to send ETH or ERC-20 tokens to the wallet mentioned in their official post.

They stated that all outgoing transactions would only be used for charity purposes and will be explained by Binance.

Changpeng Zhao, the founder and CEO of Binance, tweeted out calling the crypto community to contribute towards this fund. He stated that the exact logistics would be figured out shortly and his team is contacting local authorities to figure out final delivery logistics. “Given the short time, we had to keep this very simple for this time. We will build something more systematic later.” he further stated.

He also mentioned that projects which donated to the cause would get “bonus points for future listing requests” and that they might consider the donation towards the listing fees.

The Ethereum wallet mentioned has received about $90,000 worth of ETH and $1.05 Million worth of ERC-20 tokens as of writing.

Cryptocurrencies have been long used to donate for charitable causes especially due to the transparency of transactions on the public ledger. The Pineapple Fund, run by an anonymous donor, has supported over 60 charities, ranging from clean water initiatives to open source projects, by donating $55 million dollars worth of Bitcoin.

As CCJ reported earlier, Ripple has donated $29 million in XRP to DonorsChoose, a charity which helps public school teachers raise money for educational resources such as books and school supplies. Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit aimed to protect journalists and whistleblowers, has recently started accepting cryptocurrencies for donations and has already recieved half a million dollars in various cryptocurrencies so far.

IRS Launches International Taskforce to Take on Cryptocurrency Crimes

IRS Launches International Taskforce to Take on Cryptocurrency Crimes

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has launched an international task force along with four other countries in order to take on crypto currency related crimes according to this official press release on July 2.

The new coalition named “The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement” or “J5” is comprised of several tax enforcement agencies including Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, alongside the US.

As a part of the coalition, agencies will cooperate in sharing intelligence and criminal investigations in order to reduce the growing threat to tax administrations posed by cryptocurrencies and cybercrime. The also be targeting transnational tax crime as well as money laundering.

The IRS investigations chief, Don Fort, stated that this new coalition “will enable a multilateral effort can pressurize global criminal communities in a way that we could not achieve on our own”.

To overcome the difficulties that come with tracking anonymous crypto transactions, the IRS has been pursuing crypto enabled crimes by harnessing third-party blockchain intelligence tools such as Chainalysis, which was reported back in 2017 by Cointelegraph.

New Malware Targets BTC Addresses by Hijacking Windows Clipboard

New Malware Targets BTC Addresses by Hijacking Windows Clipboard

New malware which has recently been reported to gain control of Windows clipboard in order to swap out Bitcoin addresses. It’s already monitoring 2.3 million targets as reported by Bleeping Computer tech portal on June 30.

The malware which is known as a “clipboard hijacker” threat, secretly gains control of the victims computer memory and runs in the background to ensure the users do not notice his presence. It then proceeds to replace Bitcoin addresses that the user has copied on their clipboard with the addresses of the attacker, which the user unknowingly paste and sends their coins to.

Bleeping Computer explains, unless the user double checks the pasted address, they have no idea that the swap took place”. Bitcoin users face a variety of hardware vulnerabilities including Windows PCs, android smartphones, and other devices.

Staying up-to-date with the latest antivirus software is currently a users main defense against this problem, along with double checking destination Bitcoin addresses before transfers.

Coinbase Custody Targets Institutional Investors: Now Open for Business

Coinbase Custody Targets Institutional Investors: Now Open for Business

Coinbase, the major US cryptocurrency exchange, announced its newest business regarding digital assets for institutional investors has now been launched according to their blog post on July 2.

The exchange first revealed its plans to open “Coinbase Custody” back in late 2017. The company stated that they were seeking to address what they consider to be the number one concern of institutional investors, which was primarily security.

Coinbase Custody will most notably be secured through an SEC compliance Electronic Transaction Clearing (ETC). This addresses institutional investor concerns by abiding by the terms of US regulations, the SEC, as well as Wall Street financial industry regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Institutions from the US and Europe can now store cryptocurrency on Coinbase custody which will support Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Coinbase stated that they plan to continue adding more cryptocurrency assets as well as open the service to Asian institutional investors by the end of the year.

The exchange will employ a wide range of security measures including “on chain segregation of cryptocurrency”, off-line multi-sig and geographically distributed transaction protection, and extensive cold storage auditing and reporting.

Coinbase custody is the first to launch its suite of products which could potentially unlock $10 billion worth of institutional investor money sitting on the sidelines.

The exchanges is also attempting to become fully a SEC regulated broker-dealer through there are recent acquisition of the financial services firms as well as pursuing their own federal banking license.

Coinbase has also recently revealed the plans to do broaden their user base to the Japanese cryptocurrency market. However, amidst  their consistent expansion, the online tech website Mashable uncovered 134 pages of complaints filed by Coinbase users which included harsh criticism of the company for allegedly being underprepared for their fast-paced growth.

Pro Basketball Team Minds Ethereum to Fund Tech Education Scholarships

Pro Basketball Team to Fund Tech Education Scholarships

The Sacramento Kings basketball team has teamed up with a crypto mining hardware firm to install mining machines in an indoor arena, with the crypto earnings funding a scholarship program, local news outlet The Sacramento Bee reported yesterday, June 28.

The Kings have partnered with company MiningStore for the installation of Ethereum (ETH)

mining machines in Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center. All crypto proceeds will go to multi-year scholarship program MiningForGood, which the Sacramento Bee describes as a charity for tech education and workforce development in Sacramento. The first recipient of funding from the Kings will reportedly be an initiative for black communities in Sacramento called “Build. Black. Coalition.”

Vivek Ranadive, the Kings’ principal owner, said that the mining scholarship program aims to “inspire the next generation of tinkerers [sic] and thinkers to create change in their own community and around the globe,” Ranadive calls the team’s crypto-mining plans “innovative,” stating:

“Opportunity begins when technology allows the world to find innovative solutions to complex problems.”

Mining Ethereum for charitable causes has already been tried out around the world. In February, UNICEF Australia asked PC gamers to mine ETH  in their downtime as a donation to Syrian children, and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin donated $2.4 million in ETH to fund anti-aging research.

The Sacramento Bee notes that the Kings began accepting Bitcoin (BTC) for their team store in 2014 after partnering with BitPay.

Kaspersky Labs Reports “Cryptojacking” As #1 Threat over Randsomware

Kaspersky Labs Reports “Cryptojacking” As #1 Threat over Randsomware

Kaspersky Labs recently released a cyber security report that notates a significant decline in ransomware as compared to the growing increase of crypto jacking in a recent report published on June 27.

The report seeks to answer the question, “who wears the new threat crown within the cyber crime  world”. Crypto miners were recently able to gain popularity due to their discrete and modest way of making money utilizing user’s computer processing power.

According to the Kaspersky Lab report, which compared data from April-March of 2017 with data from April-March of 2018, a 30% loss in the amount of ransomware was found as opposed to a 45% gain in the amount of crypto mining attacks. The total amount of internet users affected by these crypto mining attacks are up to around 2.7 million.

Instead of using a one off payment achieved with ransomware, cyber criminals are now employing secret mining software that can benefit from stable and continuous flow of cryptocurrency funds.

Another cyber security report released this week from McAfee Labs notates that the use of crypto malware rose 629% in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the previous quarter in 2017.

The Kaspersky Labs report also notes that newer ransomware is requesting funds in Bitcoin, in exchange for unlocking infected computers. This being a significant change as opposed to fiat currency requests which was the typical means of payment last year.

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