In 2016, Visa made it known that they were making strides into its first B2B blockchain adoption. This was in the wake of institutions and big corporations moving into blockchain adoption and investments. When the
Bithumb, a major cryptocurrency trading platform located in South Korea, and now for its plans to operate a decentralized exchange in the upcoming months. This trailing on the news regarding Binance’s plan to launch a decentralized exchange by 2019.
Bitthumb DEX, is expected to target the global crypto marketplace and will be launched under an overseas subsidiary outside of South Korea. The DEX is currently being developed by the assistance of One Root Network (RNT), which already has experience deploying decentralized exchanges in early 2018.
The decision by BitThumb executives is a part of an ongoing strategy to compete with other leading exchanges within the global marketplace. Decentralized exchanges are receiving a lot of attention within the crypto ecosystem and will most likely continue to dominate headlines.
Both cryptocurrency exchanges generate massive profit margins from their trading fees. However, on decentralized exchanges, a third party provider cannot exist in order to collect these fees which limit the involvement of a central party with regard to processing crypto orders.
In order to incentivize developers as well as financial operations, it’s possible to code reoccurring transaction fees into Smart Contracts so each trade provides the development team of the DEX with an incentive to maintain development.
In an interview with Ran Neuner on CNBC’s Crypto Trader, Changpeng Zhao (CEO of Binance) stated that he firmly believes decentralized exchanges are the wave of the future for crypto trading.
“I believe that decentralized exchange is the future. I don’t know when that future will come yet. I think we’re at an early stage for that so I don’t know if it’s a year, two years, three years, or five years. I don’t know but we got to be ready for it,”
The SEC Commissioner, Hester Peirce stated that investing in the cryptocurrency marketplace requires a specific knowledge of the market which your typical investor lacks.
Due to this complexity only a particular type of investor can pursue this opportunity. However, entrepreneurs are developing new products which investors can access cryptocurrencies indirectly through hedge funds.
Investing through a decentralized exchange is much more complex than investing through a centralized cryptocurrency exchange due to the fact that users have no service providers to rely on when potential problems emerge. However for current Bithumb users, the launch of Bithumb’s DEX will provide an opportunity for the company to improve their track record with security breaches and hacking attacks.
In a recent report submitted to the UN, North Korea is accused of accumulation more than half a billion dollars in cryptocurrency. The country is basically a stand-alone pariah due to the tough regime by Dictator Kim Jong Un, which has seen the country suffer economically and get sanction upon sanction and cut off from the global economy. It is therefore not so surprising to hear that the country is slowly accumulating millions in cryptocurrencies.
The regime has had a hand in a few suspicious economic activities fueled by its tight control of its military and intelligence capabilities; that are normally fueled towards funding personal coffers of the Pyongyang elite. In September of 2018, CCN posted an article review of the cryptocurrency atmosphere in North Korea and stated that the country is using crypto assets to circumvent US sanctions.
The country’s mining activities were estimated to earn it between $15 and $200 million which they then push into different international exchanges, mixing and scrambling their services which mask their intentional exploitation of financial institutions that have fostered banking relationships with the United States. That notion pales in comparison to the shitstorm that was the Coincheck hacking scandal that was believed to have been sponsored by Kim Jong Un himself. The UN quoted that Cryptocurrencies will help the country to evade sanctions primarily because crypto is largely untraceable and independent of government regulation.
North Korea’s Office 39 was reported to have used malware commonly refereed to spear phishing to attack South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges to steal Bitcoin in 2017. This reckless ballsy move followed sanctions imposed by the UN against textile exports and severe capping of their fuel supplies. Not to add that the country has positively been identified as a criminal regime due to its nuclear weapon testing and manufacture. The country has invested billions into their military and chemical weapons and literally neglected everything else in the efforts to be the world’s nuclear superpower.
On a different perspective, maybe the sanctions are counterproductive since they do not really the country’s elite who only work to line their pockets but the sanctions hurt the already critically oppressed North Korean population. It is a warped way to curb the efforts towards nuclear funding. That is why it is not surprising that the country gravitated towards digital assets. But, the blame is not entirely on cryptocurrency because North Korea weapons of mass destruction agenda has existed for a long time. Digital assets merely provided technological advancement and a different avenue to do that especially because of its value that makes it the most attractive option.
In a report earlier this year, financial reviews and the experts at satellite imagery investigating North Korean nuclear plants revealed that the sanctions levied against the country have done very little to stop the manufacture of missiles and warheads. There has simply not been significant political of economic pressure to stifle chemical weapons production.
What North Korea is doing is not unwarranted considering it’s the same thing that is happening in Venezuela. The country has fallen to such economic depravity due to the level of corruption that even its own citizens fled the country as it was impossible to survive. Enter cryptocurrencies which offered a lifeline to those who could access it and invest in it. In many ways, Venezuela and North Korea are similar, for example their weakened population has no time to protest the gross economic indiscretions of the regimes if they are struggling to eat or get healthcare. One economics journalist, Tim Padgett, even referred to President Maduro the Caracas Kim back in 2017.
Many countries doing what North Korea is doing are motivated by currency crises and preposterous hyperinflation of their individual currencies. Such like Zimbabwe, Iran, Turkey and Argentina. Only difference is that these countries do not really pose any kind of threat such as North Korea which is potentially capable of causing world war three.
In 2016, Visa made it known that they were making strides into its first B2B blockchain adoption. This was in the wake of institutions and big corporations moving into blockchain adoption and investments. When the plan was launched, it was aimed at making cross border payments easier, transparent and secure by facilitating payments directly between institutions/enterprises by eliminating the middle man. On board with Visa were a few partnering banks namely South Korea’s Shinhan Bank, Commerce Bank in the US, Singapore’s United Overseas Bank and Union Bank in the Philippines.
Enter 2017, and Fintech became a priority for investors and attracting close to $1 billion in the first ten months. The need to simplify payment systems and cut transaction costs and streamlining the needs of the global and regional markets became the driving force for investors. As of 2015, research submitted on the online payments systems globally stood at $1.8 trillion and was estimated to grow to about $2.3 trillion by 2020. The system that is used in online payment systems (electronic invoice presentment and payment EIPP) reduces paperwork and shortens the period of time it would take to manually execute payments across borders.
B2B however is not there to replace the system as mentioned earlier, it is only meant to cut costs and eliminate the third party. As it stands, B2B is not exactly an easy investment as already established online paperless money transfer system depend on a very stringent operating system to conduct payments. This means that transfer vendors require strong balance sheets, solid cyber security systems and a proven regulatory record if they are to even have a customer base that will trust their services. Banks have dominated the business to business payment arena for long and they would not cede the space without a fight. However, the idea behind blockchain B2B led to the partnership like posted above with banks opting to adopt the technology and provide the service.
The skepticism back then on real time payments was based off the fact that yes, a payment may be digitally executed in real time but there is no way a system could digitally move currency in real time, which is what blockchain B2B is based on. Not to mention the whole idea of blockchain is decentralized in nature, while the traditional system is transparent. Well, Visa has managed to pull off their program and made the announcement last week on Tuesday June 11th 2019, dubbed Visa B2B Connect Network.
Based on the announcement, the system is not entirely based on distributed ledger technology but it will significantly allow for more information regarding payments compared to traditional systems. At the moment, Visa is targeting corporate clients after which, gauged by the performance of the service, they plan to launch retail service as well. The company also hopes to extend the service to at least 90 countries by the end of the year although it’s not clear what their trajectory on adoption and incorporation is but we cannot wait now can we?
Remember the news that beguiled cryptocurrency exchange company, QuadrigaCX CEO Gerald Cotten died, and took the whereabouts of more than $135 million with him to his supposed grave leaving thousands of its account holders without a way to recover their coins? The story made headlines of ridiculous proportions and raised too many questions regarding regulation and trust issues as far as cryptocurrency exchanges are operated, one of them being how one individual could be the sole custodian of important access logins and passwords.
When his wife swore an affidavit, she claimed that her deceased husband had all the logins and passwords to thousands of accounts encoded into his computer that could access millions of dollars in a curious case of being overly cautious about security issues after major attacks were launched against cryptocurrencies last year. It became very frustrating when even forensic experts were faced with limited access when they tried to decrypt the computer which severely compromised the company’s access to currency.
Needless to say that the news did not sit well with its thousands of its wallet holders who decried the exchange as a scam due to the unbelievable circumstances. Most crypto community members even questioned if the CEO was dead and called for class action lawsuits against the exchange, prompting the directors to issue a statement on January 31st. The statement alluded that the company was looking to the Nova Scotia court for creditor protection as they try to address the liquidity challenge and serve their customers. As at time of post, these efforts are still unsuccessful.
In the wake of the above events, Gemini founders, the Winklevoss twins have embarked on a campaign to call for regulation and review of the trust issues surrounding cryptocurrencies to avoid a situation such as that suffered by QuadrigaCX. They warned that in such a quickly evolving technology, users will keep losing vast amounts of investment due to lax and slow progress towards regulation.
At the same time, the advocated for their own crypto exchange company saying that the company is more user friendly and offers multi-level security account protection services, especially one major characteristic of blockchain technology is eliminating the third party trustees. Their case is not unfounded as the company is fully registered, compliant and as at the time of launch five years ago, they had the highest levels of reserves, which was a complete opposite from all other exchanges that followed the Bitcoin blueprint.
Here is why the Winklevoss twins are confident that their crypto exchange is a better fit:
The Winklevoss brothers in a statement yesterday said that regulation and security procedures will also allow the price of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, the top coins by market cap to increase. Kindly note that this article is not conclusive but due diligence is recommended for our subscribers before they can invest their money with Gemini.
This week, Bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer and blockchain software firm Bitfury secured a valuation of $1 billion from billionaire investor Mike Novogratz and Korelya Capital’s $80 million investment in the firm.
The multi-million dollar funding round comes after the release of Bitfury Clarke, the firm’s new Bitcoin ASIC miner, designed to compete against Bitmain’s new equipment, the 7nm Antminer.
Valery Vavilov, the CEO of Bitfury, stated that the demand for the blockchain and crypto in general from companies and institutions had increased significantly over the past 11 months.
“We see a lot of demand from companies and public institutions to put their services or products in the blockchain — especially in emerging markets, where administrative systems can be very inefficient.”
Throughout the past four months, despite the sideways market of Bitcoin (BTC) and the 70 percent correction experienced by the cryptocurrency market since January, the hash rate of the Bitcoin blockchain network has increased substantially from 15 million TH/s to over 50 million TH/s.
The increase in the hash rate of the Bitcoin network, which represents the strength of the blockchain’s computing power, led to a surge in the breakeven cost of crypto mining.
In July, cryptocurrency analyst Barclay James reported that the breakeven cost of mining Bitcoin is around $6,900, based on the hash rate of the Bitcoin network at the time which was 35 million TH/s.
According to Blockchain, the most popular cryptocurrency wallet platform in the sector, the hash rate of Bitcoin currently remains above 50 million TH/s, up 42 percent since July. Since the $6,900 breakeven cost of Bitcoin mining was calculated based on 35 million TH/s, the breakeven cost of mining has well surpassed $7,500 even in regions with naturally cold climates and cheap electricity like China that reduces operational costs.
“China has some of the world’s cheapest electricity rates as well as average temperatures consistent with temperate regions. This is important as cooling is one of the largest overheads in mining. In addition, the country’s generally low operating costs also give it a competitive advantage,” James wrote.
Due to the rise in the breakeven cost of mining, miners are generating BTC at a fairly large loss. Until BTC breaks out of the $7,000 resistance level and to the high region of $7,800 to $8,000, miners will continue to mine BTC with a loss of around 20 to 30 percent.
Mining companies and mining equipment manufacturers like TSMC and Samsung remain confident in the long-term development of the industry, and the investment of a major venture capital firm in Korelya is considered a confirmation of strength of the industry in a period of uncertainty and doubt.
Korelya is an investment firm financed by Naver, the largest search engine operator in South Korea that is more widely utilized than Google in the region. Bitfury is the first indirect investment in crypto from Naver.
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, has voluntarily engaged in an initiative to eliminate money laundering on its platform.
For years, despite the inherent lack of privacy measures on major public blockchain networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum that discourage the settlement of illicit transactions, a widely pushed narrative against crypto has been the suspected usage of digital assets by criminals.
Eliminating Easily Refutable Claims
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, and many other major cryptocurrencies are not anonymous by nature. With Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems integrated by cryptocurrency exchanges, it is extremely difficult for criminals to utilize digital assets to settle the transfer of illegal proceeds.
Authorities and government agencies across the globe are well aware of the non-anonymous characteristic of blockchains, which could have motivated governments like the US, Japan, and South Korea to legitimate and recognize the cryptocurrency market.
This week, Binance has started to cooperate with Chainalysis, a leading blockchain analysis company that evaluates suspicious transactions and addresses, to improve its AML system and to further legitimize the cryptocurrency sector.
“Cryptocurrency businesses of all sizes face the same core challenge: earning the trust of regulators, financial institutions and users. We expect many to follow Binance’s lead to build world-class AML compliance programs to satisfy regulators globally and build trust with major financial institutions,” said Jonathan Levin, co-founder and COO of Chainalysis.
In 2018, some of the world’s most influential banks were cracked down for money laundering. Danske Bank laundered $243 billion from criminal groups, and as CCJ reported on October 20, Nordea Bank, the largest financial group in the Nordic countries, is said to have taken several illicit payments from banks in the Baltic region.
With the institutional market of cryptocurrencies growing exponentially, the tightening of AML systems employed by public exchanges is expected to solidify cryptocurrencies as a recognized asset class and the digital asset market as a well-regulated sector.
Wei Zhao, the CFO at Binance, said that maintaining the firm’s vision of increasing the freedom of money globally, the exchange will continue to adhere to regulatory mandates in the countries it operates in.
“By working with Chainalysis, we are able to continue building a foundational compliance program that enables the next phase of our growth. Our vision is to provide the infrastructure for a blockchain ecosystem and increase the freedom of money globally, while adhering to regulatory mandates in the countries we serve.”
Importance of Compliance
The cryptocurrency sector is entering a new phase of development and growth, as Zhou explained.
During the 2017 bull market in which the valuation of the cryptocurrency market surged to $800 billion, the asset class obtained significant mainstream awareness in both countries that support crypto and regions that have established impractical regulatory frameworks to prevent local blockchain markets to flourish.
In a period in which governments are introducing increasing efforts to embrace crypto and blockchain businesses as a part of the fourth industrial revolution, voluntary initiatives by companies like Binance to legitimize the industry will ease the process of governments in regulating and acknowledging the global market.
Bolstered by stable trading volume, growing network activity, and increasing validation on Wall Street, the bitcoin price could be on the brink of a major move to the upside.
eToro senior market analyst Mati Greenspan said that the stars continue to align for a potential bitcoin rally, making it increasingly likely that the most prominent cryptocurrency will soon break out of its holding pattern.
|“It’s only a matter of time now,” he said of a potential bitcoin breakout. “Of course, the flatline pattern could easily remain for another few months and that wouldn’t be a bad thing, however, there are signs of excitement boiling underneath the cool price action exterior.”|
Greenspan, who previously said that he thought bitcoin was heading into a “classic breakout pattern,” identified three catalysts that he said were suggestive of an imminent breakout, namely, a rising transaction rate, steady daily trading volumes, and the continuing growth of cryptocurrency-related activities on Wall Street.
Citing data from Blockchain, Greenspan notes that the number of bitcoin transactions per second — which plunged during the first quarter — has steadily risen throughout the second half of 2018. Since dropping below 2.0 TPS in mid-April, the transaction rate has climbed to 2.78 as of Thursday morning — a six-month increase of more than 40 percent. While still far below the 4.8 TPS achieved in late December, this present growth has occurred during relatively stable market conditions — not a parabolic rally. This, Greenspan said, is “a classic indication that we’re nearing the end of the flat cycle.”
Concurrently, daily cryptocurrency trading volumes, which steadily declined throughout most of the year, appear to have flatlined near $10 billion over the past several months, which Greenspan notes is “exponentially higher” than the average daily volumes seen during the last bear market.
But while volumes on cryptocurrency spot exchanges have flatlined, trading activity within the Wall Street futures markets are booming. CME Group — operator of the largest U.S. bitcoin futures market — identified a 41 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in the average daily volume during Q3. On a daily basis, CME is handling approximately as much volume as Upbit, one of the largest spot cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea.
Taken together, Greenspan argues that these data points bode well for the short and mid-term future of the cryptocurrency market.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated in a recently released report that the rapid growth of Bitcoin and crypto could impact the international finance system.
The report entitled “World Economic Outlook: Challenges to Steady Growth” published by the IMF read:
|“Cybersecurity breaches and cyberattacks on critical financial infrastructure represent an additional source of risk because they could undermine cross-border payment systems and disrupt the flow of goods and services. Continued rapid growth of crypto assets could create new vulnerabilities in the international financial system.”|
Despite the 80 percent decline in the valuation of the crypto market, the industry has seen some of the most positive developments regarding the institutionalization, regulation, and development of cryptocurrencies as an emerging asset class in the past nine months.
Led by existing companies like Coinbase and Gemini, major financial institutions in the likes of NYSE, Cboe, and Goldman Sachs have started to strengthen the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency market, allowing both high profile retail traders and institutional investors to allocate large amounts of money in the asset class.
As the cryptocurrency sector continues to grow at an exponential rate, the IMF emphasized that it could create vulnerabilities in the financial system. Because cryptocurrencies are considered alternative currencies with value, a growing number of hackers have started to target digital asset trading platforms with sophisticated tools and hacking methods.
“Stealing cryptocurrencies is similar to stealing cash, and exchanges will continue to be targeted by hacking attacks in the long-term. It is as important to establish systems to deal with the aftermath of hacking attacks as integrating various methods to prevent hacking attacks,” Jeon Ha-jin, the chairman of South Korea Blockchain Association said.
In South Korea, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange market behind the US and Japan, exchanges have begun to insure their funds through trusted insurance providers like Samsung to add an additional layer of security and investor protection.
Gemini, a leading cryptocurrency exchange in the US alongside Coinbase, also recently obtained insurance services from Aon to ensure that in an unlikely event of a security breach, the exchange is able to cover user funds and holdings fully.
“Consumers are looking for the same levels of insured protection they’re used to being afforded by traditional financial institutions. Educating our insurers not only allows us to provide such protections to our customers, but it also sets the expectation for consumer protection across the crypto industry,” Yusuf Hussain, Gemini’s Head of Risk, said.
The cryptocurrency industry and infrastructure employed by exchanges are relatively new and fundamentally different from the technologies implemented by the traditional finance sector. As such, it is appropriate for the IMF and government agencies to describe the rapid growth of the asset class a risk to global finance.
But, continuous efforts to strengthen the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency market and improve investor protection will reduce the risk cryptocurrencies have on the global finance industry.
Emin Gun Sirer, a professor at the prestigious Cornell University and a highly regarded expert in the space of cryptocurrency and blockchain, stated that the acknowledgement of cryptocurrencies as an asset class by the IMF is optimistic for the industry.
On Oct. 6, Larry Cermak, former editor at Diar and head analyst at The Block, reported that leading crypto exchange Bitfinex obtained a banking partner in HSBC, a $133 billion banking giant based in London.
“Bitfinex is now banking with HSBC through a private account of Global Trading Solutions. Very good fit if you ask me. It’s also worth mentioning that all EUR, JPY and GBP deposits are paused but Bitfinex ‘expects the situation to normalize within a week’” Cermak said.
As one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitfinex has experienced some of the most difficult challenges an exchange could face, particularly before major cryptocurrency markets like Japan, South Korea, and the US offered clarity on cryptocurrency regulation.
The exchange’s conflict with Taiwanese banks is well-documented, and in April 2017, Bitfinex initiated a lawsuit against Wells Fargo, a US-based banking giant, for blocking deposits to the banking account of Bitfinex and disrupting operations of the business.
“The decision to initiate legal action is because we cannot allow precedents in this industry where clearing houses can disrupt businesses that are by all metrics complying with the rules in place. If we allow them to simply flip a switch and disrupt business, then there becomes a precedent in the bitcoin industry beyond just Bitfinex, so we believe it is the appropriate time to take action,” Bitfinex said at the time.
Since then, Bitfinex has moved out of Taiwan and relocated to the Caribbean and in May, Bloomberg reported that the exchange partnered with Noble Bank to process transactions sent by its clients.
However, Noble Bank has announced to file for bankruptcy following an in-principle deal to restructure debt in January and with that, the only banking partner of Bitfinex vanished.
HSBC is really the first proper banking partner Bitfinex has obtained since Wells Fargo in 2017. If the deal between Bitfinex and HSBC can be sustained throughout the long-term, it will bring a level of stability to the operations of Bitfinex which the exchange failed to secure in the past four years.
Speaking to The Block, Kasper Rasmussen, director of communications at Bitfinex said that the firm cannot comment on the nature of the partnership between the exchange and HSBC.
“Bitfinex does not, and has never, commented on actual or potential business relationships and this is not subject to change now,” Rasmussen stated.
Given the the $200 million dollar daily trading volume of Bitfinex and the amount of fiat deposits the exchange receives from its international customers, it is not possible for the exchange to unilaterally announce its dependence on HSBC as a banking partner through a private banking account.
It is highly probable that the exchange, with strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements, obtained the banking service of HSBC through a strictly regulated channel.
Already, most exchanges in major markets like Japan and South Korea have obtained banking services by large financial institutions and commercial banks in their respective countries. If Bitfinex can sustain its partnership with HSBC, it will have a positive impact on the stability of the crypto market.
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume, is set to launch a beta version of its decentralized exchange (DEX) by early 2019.
Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance better known to the community as CZ, said on Saturday:
|“Just had a productive meeting for Binance DEX (decentralized exchange), where BNB will be native gas, and the exchange don’t control user funds. Aiming for a public beta end of the year/early next year. Yes, we work on Saturdays, non stop.”|
In July, on CNBC Crypto Trader hosted by Ran Neuner, CZ stated that he personally believes decentralized exchange is the future of crypto.
In the long-term, CZ explained that users will be able to utilize non-custodial wallets to trade cryptocurrencies in a peer-to-peer manner with full control over their funds.
“I believe that decentralized exchange is the future. I don’t know when that future will come yet. I think we’re at an early stage for that so I don’t know if it’s a year, two years, three years, or five years. I don’t know but we got to be ready for it,” he said.
As a centralized cryptocurrency exchange, most of its revenues and profits are generated by the fees charged by the exchange. But, decentralized exchanges can also charge a native fee embedded into the smart contracts utilized by the platform to broadcast transactions to the mainnet of public blockchain networks like Ethereum.
In October of last year, Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin praised a model utilized by EtherDelta, a decentralized exchange, to incentivize developers for maintaining the platform.
“I think the EtherDelta model for developers getting paid is underrated,” he said.
At the time, a South Korea-based cryptocurrency user recommended Binance to Buterin on Twitter, mentioning its low 0.05% fee. Buterin responded that to use centralized exchanges, a process of setting up accounts is required. On decentralized exchanges, users can utilize existing wallets like MetaMask to trade.
“That requires setting up an account. I like EtherDelta precisely because it doesn’t. Just visit the site with MetaMask on and start using it. Not slow at all. I don’t give a damn about split-second trading. To me, speed includes login, deposit, withdrawal, logout time,” Buterin explained.
According to CZ, Binance is probably a more secure alternative to decentralized exchanges because of its strong architecture and infrastructure. Binance has never been hacked since its launch in 2017.
CZ emphasized that the real merit of using decentralized exchanges is in the freedom and control over user funds. On a decentralized exchange, users do not have to create user accounts or file withdrawal requests. Every trading activity is done on the blockchain with a non-custodial wallet.
Eventually, as the adoption of cryptocurrencies increases and fiat becomes less relevant in the cryptocurrency exchange market, traders will likely shift from centralized platforms to decentralized exchanges.
The Binance team remains uncertain when the change will happen but as CZ said, the company is getting ready for it.
Syndicated from CCN
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