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Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund GIC May Be One of Coinbase’s Backer

Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund GIC May Be One of Coinbase Backer

The cryptocurrency industry continues to elicit interest from mainstream financial services, the recent one being Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte. According to Bloomberg, it appears that the fund may have been involved in Coinbase’s USD 300 million funding round last year, citing people familiar with the matter, although neither of the companies had provided insight on the matter. However, at the time of the funding in October, Coinbase had only listed Tiger Global Management, Wellington Management, and Andreessen Horowitz as participants.

GIC has over USD 100 billion worth of assets in over 40 countries including a broad and diverse investment portfolio that ranges from government bonds to private equity. According to the source, Coinbase’s October funding round gave it a valuation of USD 8 billion, and against the odds of the trends in the crypto market last year, this, however, helped Coinbase rank as one of the most-valued startups.

Bloomberg further cited a document it accessed last year, reporting a forecast revenue to the tune of USD 1.3 billion to be made by Coinbase for 2018. The revenue was expected to be made from fees on its platform as well as its crypto holding’s profit/losses.

Parts of the Asian continent have always been supportive of the digital industry and clearly, they may as well be racing along with the rest of the world where blockchain and its underlying assets have been seen as revolutionary financial tools in the economy.

Binance is another beneficiary of Singapore’s government funding, as it reportedly received indirect funding last year to aid the launch of a cryptocurrency-to-fiat exchange desk in Singapore.

Most sophisticated investors may have been wary of cryptocurrency investments due to their volatility and chiefly because of the unregulated nature of the digital asset industry and possibly because in some cases, these assets may have been used in the financing of illicit trade activities. However, in recent times, the influx of large investors into the cryptocurrency industry has grown steadily, especially with newly introduced derivative markets, financial instruments, and services that are being tailored to suit their needs.

Moreover, in another recent report, retail investors were also found to have increased in a proportionate manner in the past few months. Despite the bear market that struck in 2018, interest in the digital asset marketplace continues to soar at various levels.

 

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German Derivatives Exchange Supposedly Considering Crypto Futures Contracts

German Derivatives Exchange Eurex May Launch Crypto Futures Contracts

German-operated derivatives market Eurex is rumored to soon turn on the futures contract faucet, releasing its own set of cryptocurrency derivative contracts. If true, the first wave of contracts will include Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple (XRP) coin future contracts.

Citing people familiar with the development, media outlet The Block Crypto said that the exchange is meeting with market making experts with regards to the product.

Though no official comments have been made by the firm, the move, if true, comes as no surprise seeing how it had set its target on the crypto market since 2017. In 2018, a division was set up for crypto assets and distributed ledger technology. During that period, a Deutsche Börse spokesperson reportedly told German-based news media:

“We are thinking about futures, with which private investors and institutional investors can protect existing investments in bitcoin or set for falling prices of the cyber currency.”

More so, while Deutsche Börse acknowledged the fact that they have been in touch with the space for a while now, it had only been in the “ideation and exploration” phase but will need a “centrally steered approach” for a full-scale expression of the technology in their business.

The future of the crypto derivative market continues to take shape as new players are being introduced joining others in the queue for regulatory approval. Bakkt, Seed CX, and ErisX are among those seeking to introduce new settlement types into the US market – the physical Bitcoin settlements – adding variety to already established market place for crypto futures contract offered by pioneers CBOE and CME.

CBOE also wants to launch an Ethereum futures contract and is only waiting for the approval from the regulatory watchdog. So far, net sentiments from the idea of an Ethereum futures contract have been somewhat positive.

A couple of other cryptocurrency exchanges such as BitMex, CoinFloor, and Binance are already marking their space in the advanced cryptocurrency market to suit sophisticated investors. As the industry continues to mature, perhaps the market will take a complete semblance to that of the traditional financial market and may appeal to more mainstream traders and investors. Although regulation may be pivotal to this development, the CFTC has a workaround on how to allow the exchanges self-regulate in line with the stipulated financial laws, as an interim approach before a more constituted legal infrastructure is in place.

Moreover, the major contention lies in the security of services provided – the custody infrastructure and market monitoring instruments – constituting major impediments to the launch of other derivate market classes like the Bitcoin ETF, which has had many of its proposals declined or for many months under review by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Nonetheless, it behooves any financial service operator willing to engage in this emerging market class to do a proper groundwork before launching any product into the market. As there are currently a few products, yet only a handful of institutional investors have dipped a foot in the water, although this number may be increasing steadily, still it only proves that a more comprehensive market infrastructure may be the only key to unlock the market for a full-scale adoption by institutions.

 

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EU-Regulated Bank Frick Launches DLT Markets for Institutional Investors

EU-Regulated Bank Frick Launches DLT Markets for Institutional Investors

One of the European leaders in blockchain banking, Bank Frick, announced last week that it will be starting up a subsidiary service to provide a secure environment for institutional investors to trade in digital assets.

The bank said it is introducing a digital asset marketplace dubbed DLT Markets with the regulatory properties of the traditional financial market. It will provide institutional investors with professional access to cryptocurrencies being traded on multiple exchanges.

CEO of DLT Markets Roger Wurzel said:

“We are creating a unique market offering for institutional investors in the area of the new digital token asset class. With our fully regulated platform, we are driving professionalism with regard to the trading of digital tokens and cryptocurrencies.”

This appears to be the second blockchain-related initiative of the bank, following the recently established Distributed Ventures AG – a subsidiary tasked with promoting and financing fintech and blockchain start-ups – the bank clearly wants a stake in the future digital assets market, as CEO of Bank Frick Edi Wögerer explains: “In establishing The DLT Markets AG, we are significantly building on our leading position in the area of regulated blockchain banking.”

Evidently, the digital asset ecosystem has become a gold rush for institutional investments and while regulatory framework and a secure custody solution may be holding some back, many financial service operators are seeking for ways to stake a place in the emerging market.

Bank Frick is a private bank based in Liechtenstein with a branch that operates in the UK. It has nearly two decades of financial service experiences offered to intermediaries such as fiduciaries, asset managers, payment service providers, and fintechs. Its services include custody of crypto assets, and as per the statement, the bank supports initial coin offerings. Earlier in February, it announced an official partnership with blockchain advisory AmaZix, as part of a drive towards mainstream adoption in blockchain banking services.

Many other financial institutions are participating in the blockchain economy.

Fidelity Investments, with over half a century’s worth of experience in the financial market, whose recent valuation was estimated to be worth USD 2.46 trillion in asset under management (AUM), has launched crypto subsidiary Fidelity Digital Asset Services to provide institutional grade crypto asset custody and cryptocurrency trading services. More so, a deadline has been set for March for the release of its Bitcoin custody solution.

Also, US investment bank JPMorgan recently launched its own JPM Coin, a digital coin backed by the US dollar meant for internal money settlements between its clients. Although it may have received many criticisms from crypto enthusiasts, the gesture remains one of clear certification that blockchain and its underlying asset classes are revolutionary to the traditional financial marketplace.

Last year, top cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that it was adding a sub-account feature to attract institutional investors. US-centered crypto exchange Coinbase also launched its over-the-counter (OTC) trading service for institutional investors. And most recently, New York-based digital asset management firm Grayscale Investstment LLC reported an increase in the number of institutional investors making up 66% of its portfolio under management.

Certainly, it’s turning out to be a bouquet of institutional grade digital investment niche, and with so many to choose from, the industry will perhaps be the replacement venture to traditional finance as many have speculated it to be.

 

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12.7% of Amazon Customers Call For Crypto Products or Services

amazon, cryptocurrency, bitcoin

A recent survey shows that 12.7% of Amazon customers would like to see the marketplace selling cryptocurrency products or services.

The report conducted by Global financial portal Investing.com had surveyed over 1000 of the multinational e-commerce company’s clients in an attempt to analyze Amazon’s consumption rate, with a view of expanding its services to offer more products.

The results revealed that most respondents, being allowed to choose multiple products, voted mostly in favor of an Amazon-backed computer offering (72.9%), followed by local coupons and deals (51.7%), prescription drugs (36.7%), home security (31%) and even medical marijuana (29.5).

13.7% of Amazon clients unsurprisingly voted for listing cryptocurrency products, especially given calls from the industry to drive cryptocurrency adoption through the huge e-commerce market. Although Amazon has been somewhat reticent, there were indications in November 2017 when Bitcoin was at its hiatus and looked to be stratosphere bound, that internet e-commerce giant had likely acquired digital currency-related domain names.

As for using crypto online for purchasing goods and services, exchange giant Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao has said in the past that he sees Amazon eventually accepting cryptocurrencies, suggesting that they are ideally suited for use on the platform. He commented:

“For any internet (non-physical) based business, I don’t understand why anyone would not accept crypto for payments. It is easier, faster and cheaper to integration than traditional payment gateways. Less paperwork. And reaches more diverse demographic and geography.”

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Binance: ETFs Not Core to Crypto Growth

ETFs Are Not Core to Crypto Industry’s Growth, Binance CEO Weighs In

A popular trend as the cryptocurrency industry develops is the introduction of the analogous derivative instruments of the traditional financial market, aimed at luring in institutional investors into the crypto world. One such instrument is the exchange-traded fund (ETF).

CEO of leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance, Changpeng Zhao, has, however, downplayed the role of ETFs in the growth of the crypto industry. He said: “If it [a Bitcoin ETF] is listed on a big traditional exchange… that does bring in a lot of attention from people outside our industry.”

In a live stream via Periscope on 6 February, Zhao attempted to draw the attention of crypto enthusiasts to a very important piece in blockchain development – entrepreneurs building real, and usable products.

Blame it on the bear

The bear market which started at the cusp of the last all-time high of Bitcoin hasn’t made it easy for crypto projects. Many startups last year faced developmental challenges and were either forced to abandon their projects or get absorbed by another. Now, lots of players in the industry have become highly dependent on these market derivatives being introduced.

First, it was Bitcoin futures introduced by CME Group and CBOE in late 2017, which helped drive the price of Bitcoin to a new high of USD 20,000. However, it didn’t last long. Suffice to say, it was an opportunistic glitch in the price dynamics of Bitcoin.

Secondly, speculations about another bull-run propelled by ETFs run deep in the crypto community. Perhaps similar trends are bound to occur with more derivatives being introduced into the sphere, however, without an established value-based blockchain ecosystem in place, the market could get dire once more.

ETFs or no ETFs

As of the time of writing, the US securities regulator, Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has rejected nine ETF applications. Each was laden with similar bull run expectations from the members of the crypto community as many have speculated on the prices increase should the SEC give the green light.

Recently,CBOE, along with investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX, reapplied for a rule change to list Bitcoin ETFs after withdrawing it a week earlier.

With the ongoing fuss about Bitcoin ETFs, Zhao seems to think that with or without the ETFs, the industry will grow. A sentiment probably sparsely shared as focus on the real development of blockchain and its applications are fairly the driving motif for latter blockchain adopters.

Other derivatives are coming

Bitcoin News recently reported a new class of derivative instrument being introduced by US-regulated derivative platform LedgerX, which is essentially a binary wager on the next Bitcoin’s block-reward halving.

While derivatives may be an economic milestone for the crypto industry, the overall utility of blockchain applications and their gradual adoption by legacy systems adequately offset the economic benefits of derivate crypto markets.

 

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Kraken Acquires Crypto Facilities in “Nine-Figure” Deal

Crypto Exchange Kraken Acquires Crypto Facilities In a 'Nine-Figure' Deal

In a report yesterday by news outlet Fortune, San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken made an M&A move towards British trading firm Crypto Facilities in a “nine-figure” deal, a reassuring gesture of the coming of high-profile investors into the crypto space.

Recently, Bitcoin News reported on how an expected full-fledged institution uptake has slowed down, most likely due to regulatory and infrastructural shortcomings. However, “institutional investment” clauses continue to pool millions of US dollars into the cryptocurrency market, as revealed by more frequent mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

According to Kraken CEO Jesse Powell, the deal had been in the works for about 10 months and was only awaiting approval from UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Kraken, which is currently on the cusp of a USD 100 million funding round from its larger customers made up of accredited investors, has made this move in order to provide trading facilities for institutional clients. Although it made it clear that this service will not be available to the US customer base.

At press time, Kraken is #43 on a 24-hour volume rankings of exchanges and has seen over USD 42 million trading volume in the past 24 hours from 72 trading pairs, according to CoinMarketCap data. The acquisition move means Kraken has positioned itself to be the first cryptocurrency exchange with both a spot and futures trading service in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple, making it a one-stop shop for crypto trading and derivatives.

The report further highlights other acquisitions made in the past by the exchange to include smaller exchanges, crypto research, and digital wallet firms. This achievement puts it on par with other exchanges to include Binance and Coinbase looking to scale up operations for the prospective market.

The previous year saw quite a number of acquisitions and mergers such as BitGo’s acquisition of the Kingdom Trust Company as well as Kingdom Services to provide institutional clients with regulated custodial services. Early this year, Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt said it had acquired certain assets of Rosenthal Collins Group (RCG), an independent futures commission merchant.

The recent spike in mergers and acquisitions brings back memories from the age of the internet boom, which saw an instrumental bear market that reshaped the industry. Smaller companies were being absorbed by larger corporations and the consolidation of internet firms solidified the place of infotech in today’s economy.

Perhaps, similar occurrences await the crypto boom and bust as with the early internet days, and if so, there’s a fierce competition for the future-grade blockchain and cryptocurrency market – which so far, paints a picture with institutional investors being pivotal to that reality.

 

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BitTorrent Fortunes Seek Boost from 11th February Airdrop

BitTorrent Fortunes Seek Boost from 11th February Airdrop

Further details have been released regarding BitTorrent‘s BTT token airdrop scheduled to take place in six days’ time.

The BTT token has been introduced as a medium of exchange for BitTorrent users, enabling the purchase of downloadable media, giving users the opportunity to participate in crowdfunding on the platform. File sharing will also offer rewards to users of the platform. The company explained some of the other benefits:

“Existing BitTorrent clients will implement an optional set of backward-compatible protocol extensions which allow them to bid and receive bids for their bandwidth, working in tandem with a cryptocurrency wallet and bidding engine.”

The firm is airdropping free BTT tokens to TRON (TRX) holders and it has been announced that the airdrop will continue for six years until 11 February 2025. The first snapshot will happen when TRON’s block height reaches 6.6 million. The initial airdrop will be a supply of BTT 10,890,000,000, followed by BTT 990,000,000 each month from 11 March.

No minimum of TRX is required to qualify for BTT airdrops. The following wallets and exchanges will support the airdrop: Kucoin, Binance, OKEx, Huobi, Bithumb, UPbit, gate.io, TrustWallet, Bitpie, Cobo, Bibox, Cointiger, ABCC, WazirX, Atomicwallet, DragonEx, CoinEgg, MBAex, Vena Pi, Livecoin, Ellipal, BitForex, Atomicwallet, Tokenomy, Coinsuper, Bitrue, FCoin, Bit-Z, Tronscan.

According to BitTorrent, “an additional BTT 99,990,000,000 will be airdropped to longtime TRX holders through online and offline events”.

It is widely expected that come 11 February, BitTorrent could come into immediate competition with similar file sharing outfits such as Upfiring, Flixxo, JoyStream, and LBRY, although a boost in funding through the airdrop could be significant for the company’s future.

 

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If Institutions Could Change the Crypto Market Narrative, What’s Keeping Them?

If Institutions Could Change the Crypto Market Narrative, What’s Keeping Them_ (1)

Last year saw lots of interest from institutions, who were a part of a hype-drive that supposedly should have ushered Bitcoin and the altcoins out of a prolonged bear market in 2019.

Suddenly, the prospects for institutional investments in the cryptocurrency markets have far more long-reaching effects than the actual application of the blockchain technology itself. It suggested that investors were bored with the cliché of what blockchain is and its potential, and are far more interested in how much they can profit off its underlying asset class.

Institutional investor flux

In preparation for these new class of investors, crypto ventures were adjusting their business infrastructures to accommodate the changes that would ensue from the influx of these sophisticated investors.

Top cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume Binance reportedly added sub-account features; Chicago-based cryptocurrency exchange Seed CX introduced spot trading facility for institutional investors; number one US crypto trading platform Coinbase launched an over-the-counter (OTC) trading platform for institutional clients; Circle’s Poloniex opened up trading services exclusive for institutional clients, and many more strides in the direction of high net-worth investment categories.

Perhaps the most currently notable investment interests for this class of investors include those to be offered by Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) Bakkt and Fidelity. The growing interests in these platforms suggest that these products would probably turn the tides for the crypto market upside, as it is perceived that they would offer a fresh inflow of capital and liquidity into the space.

Rewriting the market narrative

Accordingly, when the market crashed in November 2018, falling below the supposed bottom of USD 6,000 at the time, many thought that was the moment for institutional investors to hop in. Still, prices have breached many more speculated bottoms and are currently hovering around USD 3,400; yet, most of these investors have stayed their hands. One question, if these investors could actually change the narrative for the market, what’s stopping them?

Here are a few pointers: liquidity issues, susceptibility to market manipulation, regulation uncertainty, and crypto custody issues. Above all, the right framework may yet be the reason why these investors have not fully immersed themselves.

Moreover, insights provided by John Devlin, chief analyst at P.A.ID suggested that crypto needs to rise above stigma, and also become more regulatory compliant: “According to P.A.ID Strategies, 68% of Bitcoin exchanges across the US, and Europe is not KYC compliant.”

On another note, head of regulatory surveillance and marketplace at Nasdaq Tony Sio told business insider that while lots of exchanges were reaching out for Nasdaq’s SMARTS Trade Surveillance platform, it was however difficult because according to him, as a startup, “it is quite hard to set up because it requires a fair bit of work… [and] probably one of the sticking points”. This would imply that some of these investment propositions to institutions need time to develop and mature before implementing to scale.

Although some of the new projects reportedly claim that they are working diligently to ensure that their final product will meet the standards and expectations of the new class of investors. However, it remains to be seen exactly how the market will play out in the event that these platforms are finally launched.

 

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Is 2019 the Year of the Crypto Bull Market?

Is 2019 the Year of the Crypto Bull Market?

How Long Will the Crypto Market Bull Sleep?

Speculations about the cryptocurrency market continue to weigh heavily on the hearts of crypto enthusiasts as the market is yet to improve from the slump of 2018. The space is now left with dashed hopes, closed crypto exchanges, layoffs, hacks and a whole lot of constructive partnerships by the very few who truly understand what the blockchain is all about.

Reality has become grim for investors who hopped in at the all-time-high, especially shattering the expectations fueled by crypto influencers – the claims of Bitcoin reaching a high of USD 100,000 at the end of 2018. The ‘lambo’ songs that once reigned in many social communities have lost its savor as the lingo is being replaced with more realistic expectations such as measurable development goals and expected platform launch date.

Where are the 1000x’s promises?

Tough times greeted the new year, though still at the beginning of the year, many investors, as well as spectators, are wondering why the market still hasn’t had a bull run even though interest in blockchain has spiked. Some blame it on the delay in the entry of institutional investments.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse provided his personal opinion in a Blockchain Summit in Europe held at Brussels, saying that he estimates a 5 to 10 years waiting time for mainstream crypto payments.

This may be heartbreaking, as 5 years is indeed a long time to wait before hitting those 1000x’s again. More so, one would wonder if Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin was right about his earlier predictions on the end of 1000x’s in crypto space. However, in just under a decade, cryptocurrency has evolved many times over.

The flagship cryptocurrency Bitcoin started its dramatic steep decline in the wake of 2018 and dragged the whole market with it after grazing an all-time-high of USD 20,000 the previous year. The cryptocurrency market with a cap of over USD 813 billion in November 2017 has now dropped to USD 114 billion according to data from CoinMarketCap as at press time. Surely, this drop in market value is enough to make investors wary.

The previous 3 years had seen a steady rise of activity in ICO markets, with 2016 recording an approximate fund collection of USD 93,922,741; USD 6,576,372,746 in 2017;  a reportedly recorded USD 21,576,147,596 in 2018 and now, in 2019 ICOs have raised over USD  126 million and still counting, according to data from CoinSchedule. With these humongous figures, it behooves one to wonder what happened to post-ICOs and why the current conditions appear rather stale.

What’s wrong with Crypto?

Brad has said that the biggest risk in the market is regulatory uncertainty. With the Securities Commission of different jurisdictions like the US SEC breathing down the necks of ICOs for securities compliance and making scapegoats out of defaulters, startups are exercising more caution. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao had opined that 2018 was a year of correction and expressed his confidence for the future of crypto, however, he also pointed out that lack of clarity from regulators was a major drawback.

An analyst from JPMorgan expressed his skepticism about cryptocurrencies saying that real use for cryptocurrencies will only be in a dystopia – [one that has been duly noted in some hyper-inflated economies] – and that despite the correlation, the crypto market has with traditional assets, it’s of little value because of the prolonged bear market.

Legislation has indeed pegged the growth of the industry to a certain degree – at least from the cryptocurrency market perspective. However, some jurisdictions are opening up to the Idea of regulating the space in a way that innovation isn’t stifled. What’s left is for blockchain projects to live up to the hype that once ruled the space by developing more proof of concepts that are usable beyond the cryptomarket, as the market has so far proved to be a poor benchmark for the healthy state of blockchain enterprise.

For a while, the promise of institutional grade crypto services by elite financial systems such as Fidelity, and Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt has held many ‘hodlers’ ransom. Fortunately, as the space continues to mature, it becomes less reliant on external influences and survives on its initial narrative – decentralization.

Amid the market downturn, regulatory uncertainties, organizational restructuring, high expectations of institutional players; immense developments and innovation are driving adoption such as the rise in the numbers of Bitcoin ATM kiosks, use of crypto in charity, banks collaborating for cross-border payments, legacy systems shifting towards blockchain to tackle logistics problems. Perhaps, the market is just one trigger away to the next bull-run.

 

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Binance Embraces Visa, Mastercard for Crypto Purchases

Binance Embraces Visa, Mastercard for Crypto Purchases

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, Binance, is to enable the purchase of cryptocurrency using both Visa and Mastercard credit cards.

The announcement yesterday that users would now be able to Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP) using their credit cards has come as a boon to regular users of the exchange. The new facility has been enabled by a new partnership between the Chinese exchange giant and Israel-based payments processing firm Simplex.

We are super excited to announce the new partnership with @Binance – the leading #crypto exchange! Making it easier for mainstream users to buy crypto and continue transforming the financial space.#buycrypto #cryptocurrency #btc #bitcoin #etc pic.twitter.com/icuaLvk6sF

— Simplex (@SimplexCC) January 31, 2019

The other 151 tokens will be tradable against the 4 purchasable tokens using credit cards, according to a statement from Binance. “The crypto industry is still in its early stages and most of the world’s money is still in fiat,” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao. “Building fiat gateways is what we need now to grow the ecosystem, increase adoption and introduce crypto to more users.”

However, not all countries will be able to take advantage of the new service, including Iraq, Cuba, Afghanistan, and Libya. Even in the USA, some users will have to purchase their tokens in the usual way as New York, Hawaii, Georgia, New Mexico, and Washington are not supported by the new credit card payment system.

Simplex has released details of the fees for the service, indicating that charges will consist of 3.5% of a transaction with a USD 10 minimum (flat fee). The daily limit is USD 20,000 per user, while the monthly max is USD 50,000 per user. It adds that payment processing is subject to “local bank policies” and warns that some issuers may decline charges regardless.

 

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