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Popular Crypto Exchange Bittrex Denied Operating License in New York

Popular Crypto Exchange Bittrex Denied Operating License in New York

The popular cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex was today denied its application to operate in the state of New York.

The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) rejected the BitLicense application from the exchange on the grounds of failure to adequately comply with a number of policies. In a letter written by NYDFS and addressed to the CEO of Bittrex, Bill Shihara, it is explained that the exchange failed to comply with the state’s anti-money laundering, know your customer and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) standards.

Bittrex first applied for the license back in August 2015 and has been operating in the state under a “safe harbor” since then, granted by NYDFS. Now, Bittrex has been given until tomorrow to cease all operations within the state of New York, as well as two weeks to formally confirm this closure via a written statement.

NYDFS claim they have issued the exchange multiple warnings regarding its ”continued deficiencies” in compliance, also telling the exchange it needed to develop ”appropriate controls and compliance programs” in line with the ”evolving nature of the sector”.

 

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Can Animated Series ‘Bitcoin and Friends’ Make Bitcoin Fun Again?

Can Animated Series 'Bitcoin and Friends' Make Bitcoin Fun Again_

A hand reaches out in the dim, a keyboard clack. Command lines flood up on a screen to the tinkling of electronic clatter. An orange sphere enters view, the command to awake received. No, wait, a coin. With a marking below his face perhaps interpretable as the ‘B’ alphabet.

A confused, shaky greeting is the first utterance from ‘B’ as its creator looms over him. A cryptic message is issued. Then he is abandoned. Left to discover who or what his nature is in an unforgiving world.

Yet ‘B’ is not without friends.

It’s a take on the first scenes from the trailer of “Bitcoin and Friends“, the fan-funded animated series from Uncle Chris Productions that tells the implausible story of Bitcoin went from obscure code to world’s most popular digital currency and geek darling of the internet. At least, that’s one way of looking at it.

For those who’ve seen it, it’s the opening of Episode 1: Tears of a Clown, freshly released to the public yesterday. It tells the story of a coin who wakes up alone in New Jersey amid the chaos of the 2009 financial crisis. After meeting ice-cream truck driver Jones, they go in search of his father.

What happens in the episode is a lot less sanitized than the previous description.

Making Bitcoin fun again

Producer Robert Allen told Bitcoin News that the guys behind the new series were from a diverse range of backgrounds, from video production to banking and “all united in our deep love of Bitcoin, comedy and cartoons”.

Asked about the inspiration behind Bitcoin and Friends, Allen said:

“The story of Bitcoin and crypto is so colorful that it was an obvious treasure trove of good comedy and compelling characters and stories, so we knew we had to do something with that. Definitely, it was a long time coming and it needed to be done. We hope the community feels the same and embraces what we are creating.”

Bitcoin, Bitcoin News is told (we asked), is also “100% binary” and has chosen not to self identify. Uncle Chris, creator and director, and the voice actor for the central character Bitcoin, hints at some of the other messaging in the show:

“In the pilot episode, we start at the beginning of Bitcoin in 2009 and wanted to show the frailty and uncertainty of those early days. Bitcoin will become more powerful and confident as the season progresses.”

The location of New Jersey, “a nice in between and cross-section of America”, was also deliberate: “We wanted to show the struggles of many in a rust belt town but also wanted to be close enough to NYC to have some scenes there as well.”

Wholesome fare for Bitcoiners and Nocoiners

The guys behind Bitcoin and Friends wrote the cartooon with the main aim of creating a compelling story and to entertain people. Bitcoin News asked if the people involved were actual Bitcoin users and supporters. Allen’s response was that it didn’t matter, and that people shouldn’t take themselves or others too seriously:

“…we hope to also educate non-crypto people about Bitcoin and related technologies and bring them into the space. We think it could be a good entry point for the non-initiated. We also hope the show will be a bit of a pressure release valve for the crypto community at large… We don’t think an actor has to be a Bitcoiner to be involved with the project. After all, how do you spread the word about Bitcoin if you only talk to other Bitcoiners?”

That said, there are some clear indications of where the loyalties lie for some members of the crew. The “core team” consists of Uncle Chris, Jumper Jake, Broccoli Rob and Berdian Torres, with some choosing to use pseudonyms as a homage to Satoshi.

Will Japanese school girls ditch Hello Kitty for Bitcoin and Friends?

Bitcoin may have friends but he can’t finish his story without his fans. As a fan-funded production, Bitcoin and Friends are seeking donations in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. Rob (Allen) explained:

“We have several seasons outlined and hope that the show catches on so that we can continue to produce episodes. For those who enjoy the show, we ask that you please help us get the word out and donate to help us cover the production costs. Bitcoin is already famous, but we want school girls in Japan to replace their Hello Kitty gear with Bitcoin and Friends merch someday soon!”

Will there be a happy ending for Bitcoin?

“Are you talking about a reach-around?” Rob winks. “The story of Bitcoin is still being written, but we are hoping for a very happy ending.”

 

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Exclusive: College Student Claims to Have Cracked Bitcoin Mixing Services

College Student Claims to Have Cracked Bitcoin Mixing Services

A college student has claimed to have successfully cracked the algorithm behind most centralized Bitcoin mixing services. Using his methods, he says he can backtrack all transaction history done by the service providers.

In an interview with Bitcoin News, Ruhr-Universität Bochum student Felix Maduakor explained how he carried out a study to assess the privacy levels of Bitcoin mixing services. In doing so, he discovered vulnerabilities in the algorithms used by centralized Bitcoin mixing services such that transactions supposedly thought to have become anonymized through the mixing algorithms of such platforms can be traced back to the source. He says that this proves the algorithms being used by centralized mixing services are inefficient in terms of security when compared to either decentralized mixing services or privacy-centric cryptocurrencies.

His study proves that the major mixing services tested at the time contained “trivial bugs” such as timing attacks and leakages that, attackers could manipulate to deanonymize past transactions processed by these services. He further claims that even if these implementation faults were fixed, every transaction processed prior to the fix is “irreversibly vulnerable”.

Bitcoin mixing or tumbling

Bitcoin has been described as a pseudonymous cryptocurrency since the transactions conducted on the blockchain are open to the public, and perhaps with a skilled programmer, such digital transactions can be traced back to the source. In an attempt to provide more privacy to the nature of Bitcoin transfers over the blockchain, a technique called Bitcoin mixing has often been used, which basically swaps user bitcoins with each other with the aim of reducing traceability.

However, as Maduakor notes, while the implementation of P2P mixing algorithms in Bitcoin clients could enhance privacy in Bitcoin, most of these algorithms based on the decentralized architecture such as Coinshuffle ++ introduced by Tim Ruffing, Pedro Moreno-Sanchez and Aniket Kate are not widely adopted.

In his opinion, the algorithms should be implemented in the wallet software, and if it were to be added to the Bitcoin core, it would have made a huge difference. However, according to Madu, the Bitcoin core developers do not yet see the need for such a feature, citing concerns that it could hinder the growth of Bitcoin.

To date, most Bitcoin users who want additional privacy for their transactions have resorted to using commercially-driven centralized mixing — also known as tumbling — services, which according to Maduakor, aren’t so effective after all.

Why privacy matters

Contrary to popular opinions about privacy-centric cryptocurrencies, in the digital world, privacy is of utmost importance because a leak in a string of information can lead to a cascade of misuse. Maduakor’s opinion about Bitcoin’s privacy provides a rather balanced approach to the concept:

“If Bitcoin is [to be] used as a [global] currency/payment token, it has to provide some sort of privacy. Otherwise, everyone could check the exact salary, production costs, etc. on the blockchain. The leakage of cash flow [information] can have a huge impact on a company, its partners and customers.”

Many governments have expressed their concerns about privacy-centric cryptocurrencies and for good cause, as cryptocurrencies from the get-go have been unfairly associated with unlawful activities such as money laundering and terrorist financing. Moreover, anonymizing transactions through Bitcoin mixing services could conceal the real origins of Bitcoins and make it hard to detect if it were from the darknet or stolen from a cryptocurrency exchange. Other strong proponents of decentralization have suggested cryptocurrency privacy to be a fundamental human right.

Should cryptocurrencies gain mainstream advantage and anonymity features, it could complicate the jobs of law enforcement agencies. While it does seem to be a dilemma, a middle ground would be certainly hard to come by. However, the option of having privacy features remains a top priority for internet-based activities, as security and data protection are important commodities in the ecosystem.

Are centralized mixing services doomed?

Maduakor’s approach involved identifying the characteristics of the transactions such as version, fee, timing, lock-time, sequence number as well as transaction signing and how the signing was done by a major mixer at the time, Coinmixer.se, followed by filtering of more than 99% of the blockchain data which were not connected to the mixing process. From the data obtained, he was able to detect the input transactions (source of funds) and the output transactions (anonymized coins).

His findings bore significant peculiarity because while Coinmixer.se is currently offline, the historic transactions done by the mixing service could still be traced. Moreover, with modifications on the approach, nearly all centralized mixing service out there could be deanonymized, as he was able to break the transactions done by bitmixer.io, bitblender, and helix using a similar approach.

The interesting conclusion isn’t just about the mapping of transactions, which invariably may be of interest to law enforcement, but the nature of the mixing as regards the provider. In the near future, it would be easy to associate a transaction log to a mixing service provider.

Alternate privacy solutions

Knowing that centralized Bitcoin mixing services have a loophole in their algorithms, alternatively, privacy-centric cryptocurrencies may be the best option for users of cryptocurrency. Even though Zcash and Monero have different approaches to achieving privacy, still their algorithms are superior to those of centralized mixing services.

Maduakor noted that a decentralized mixing service would have also been a good alternative, as they not only remove centralized entities who “steal your coins” but also have “higher levels of security since their implementation requires no black boxes”. He also thinks that bitmixer.io would have been more secure if it were open source.

 

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Exclusive: How a Local Startup Was Instrumental in Pakistan’s Decision to Legalize Crypto

How a Local Startup Was Instrumental in Pakistan's Decision to Legalize Crypto (2)

Pakistan’s own national celebrity and humanitarian Wakar Zaka has told Bitcoin News that his project, TenUp, played a key role in both informing the government about the technology and rousing a significant pressure group among the country’s population in favor of cryptocurrency legalization.

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar has issued a recommendation to legalize cryptocurrency trading and business in the country. Around 5,000 digital currency exchanges are to be registered, while the cryptocurrencies will be classified as “investments” and net gains will be subject to taxation as per the US’s standard.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) banned cryptocurrencies in April last year, so observers are asking, why the policy U-turn now?

Bitcoin News caught up with Zaka where he explained the vital role his own cryptocurrency project TenUp had in influencing the government’s decision.

TenUp was actually a test case to use and present to the government to show how cryptocurrency work… the government was very humble and up for the technology so I knew that I had a chance.”

Zaka has been in contact with Finance Minister Umar for a while now and his relationship with the country’s top government officials including the prime minister meant he knew they would be a careful audience for his ideas.

The new cryptocurrency legislation is still in a “recommended” stage but should be rolled out by 20 July given its strong support from the finance minister who has assured there will be a focus on know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) policies when it becomes legal to trade. It is particularly exciting news as it will be the first time Pakistan is taking the lead in technology, particularly among its neighboring countries, Zaka noted.

The government task force

He is currently working closely alongside the new government-imposed task force devoted to ensuring the cryptocurrency legalization is rolled out responsibly and practically.

”The task force is taking contributions directly from us; basically, it’s us behind all the decisions. They will send us messages and ask us about stuff. I have full faith in the new government. The president of Pakistan is educated about the technology and is pro-blockchain. He is the first national leader in the region to be this outspoken in favor of it. He explains the technology in the common man’s language- that’s a very good sign for us.”

The task force is made up of ”tech-savvy guys” there to create appropriate legislation. Zaka has been showing them videos and presentations and sharing information about the TenUp project.

On the task force’s agenda is mainly how cryptocurrency will be traced and how to appropriately license come 5,00 exchanges to operate. There will also be a special investigation team set up for initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Zaka’s next ambition is to help launch a state-issued cryptocurrency for Pakistan; he has been using Venezuela and Iran as examples for the government to look into. But the Pakistani state is still in need of some convincing that it is the best decision. Zaka argues, however, that a government-issued cryptocurrency could be a way to bring in revenue from across the globe.

”Pakistan should hold its own ICO because the president has good credibility all around the world, better than Venezuela for sure. The entire world would look into it.”

He has high hopes and expectations that the G20 held in Osaka, Japan in June will be a big turning point for how cryptocurrencies are perceived on the international stage. ”India will definitely follow us in legalization,” Zaka predicted, ”we will see that in a month or so.”

Legalizing cryptocurrency will of course usher in some macroeconomic changes for the country, allowing much of the vast number of unbanked people in Pakistan access to personal accounts. New businesses and the technology sector would also flourish, perhaps even bring the ”tech revolution” Wakar predicts.

Celebrity for the good and bad

Zaka has happily used his celebrity status and huge fan following to share the message and educate people on cryptocurrencies. ”It was very difficult to make them understand how cryptocurrency can work and can eliminate money laundering for example,” he acknowledged.

”Everyone in my region, in India and Pakistan, thought this was a tool for money laundering. I have been education fans for about six months. There has never been another case of a celebrity with a big fan following promoting cryptocurrency properly. When a celebrity starts promoting it, their fans will follow it. Those fans become an army and then they start pushing the government. If other celebrities in India or Nepal start speaking up about it, I think people will definitely start to understand.”

Pakistani celebrities have historically tended to protest against religions such as Islam and build popular movements behind these ideologies so Zaka’s actions were quite unpredicted.

The problem, of course, comes when celebrities such as Floyd Mayweather throw their weight behind token projects that prove to be multilevel marketing or Ponzi schemes. These cases bothered the Pakistani government, of course, and Zaka made it clear he was not in conversation with the government for personal financial benefits by promoting his own cryptocurrency project, TenUp.

”In every region of the world celebrities should use their fame to help people not just to promote themselves. If you have fame you have responsibility. Celebrities in Nepal and India should look at the bigger picture.”

”I’m very happy the government has made the decision to legalize cryptocurrency and its a very big thing for our country,” Zaka finished.

 

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Coinbase Moves with Cold Storage Trading via Custody Service, OTC Desk

Coinbase Moves with Cold Storage Trading via Custody Service, OTC Desk

US cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase has just announced that it plans to combine its custody service with its newly launched over-the-counter (OTC) desk in order to facilitate cold storage trading.

The move is partly a response to requests by Coinbase customers who have been pushing for cold storage trading since the recent launch of the OTC desk, mainly in order to sidestep the additional movement of client funds online before they can be traded.

Coinbase launched its OTC cryptocurrency trading desk at the end of 2018 again reacting to “client demand”, as well as gearing towards broadening its customer base to include more institutional clients. Its cryptocurrency custody was launched in July of 2018 for much the same reason in order to attract large financial organizations to the exchange.

The new cold storage trading facility promises to a route to the future of trading according to Sam McIngvale, the CEO of Coinbase Custody, who sees this as “the defacto way to trade”. However, the newly-announced feature rather follows in the footsteps of blockchain security company BitGo who already launched their own custody trading product earlier this year.

There are those that feel that Coinbase Custody could be far better than BitGo for this simplified trading process, due to its pull on larger institutional clients; a potential client base which has firmly been in the San Francisco-based exchange’s sights for some time. John McAfee is one who has long viewed this client pool as a future crypto industry game changer; long predicted maybe, but as yet still yet to become reality.

Institutional investors are preparing to enter the cryptocurrency market with a vengeance. They are generally long term investors and will be pumping billions into the market. Expect the top ten coins to go through the roof fairly quickly. The bulk of alt coins will soon follow.

— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) May 21, 2018

This won’t stop Coinbase trying though, and cold storage trading is another step down that road.

 

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George Samman Exclusive: Global Inequalities Created Need for Alternative Financial Solutions

Exclusive: Global Inequalities Created Need for Alternative Financial Solutions

Barely a decade after the last global economic crisis of 2008, economic pessimists continue to predict another impending crash on a global scale, brought on by the persisting inequalities in financial systems around the world.

Bitcoin News caught up with prominent cryptocurrency advisor, investor, and author George Samman to explore how a move towards full decentralization in the blockchain sector would be possible, why things may be looking better for the market in 2019, and why algorithmic stablecoins may be the real future of money.

George Samman has a versatile role in the blockchain industry and is currently running a proof of concept with the development team and holds the role of technical advisor for a project that is currently still in stealth mode. He is also working on a tokenomics and government model with another project, alongside his continued role as an advisor to blockchain companies. Samman often co-authors cryptocurrency reports and writes on his blog, with most of his work focusing on market trends and strategy as well as collaborating with teams on blockchain architecture and design.  

Moving towards full decentralization

As increasing numbers of institutional investors enter into digital currency, centralized exchanges like Coinbase and Binance are scooping up more traders through the promise of convenience. But many in the cryptocurrency community are concerned that centralized forces are beginning to play a major role. Samman firmly believes, however, that the future of cryptocurrency is bound to be more decentralized. This can not happen all at once though he said, pointing out that decentralization needs to be staged and it is not something you can start off with fully.

On the journey to total decentralization, Samman explained that there are trade-offs and in order to have real use cases and adoption emerge most systems will be- and are being designed to- gradually get to fully decentralized systems.

But the author had another note to add, linking the failings of the current global political system to the cause in the rise in popularity of decentralized models:

”I think the era of centralized systems is coming to an end. I don’t think it matters whether institutions come or not, the long arc of history is veering towards decentralization and I believe people are waking up to this now. Global inequality has reached levels where alternative financial systems are desperately needed. Riots and populism are the beginning of the end of centralized forms of governance as they have existed and centralized forms of money.”

Market performance

The shadow of 2018’s bad market year is still at the forefront of many investors’ minds, with nothing that looks too promising on the horizon for 2019. Samman explained what he believes went so wrong last year, pinning it down to overzealous investors and initial coin offerings.

”For me, the bull markets time ran out which ended with an irrational exuberance and market caps reaching unrealistic levels. Too much money was raised at crazy valuations  and one of the functions of bear markets is to always punish that and purge out the good projects from the bad and that’s where we are now.”

He has hopes that these negative factors have largely passed, saying the ”downside [this year] is limited”. Lots of poor projects are failing and real use cases and projects that have been working hard are going live; he pointed to these as encouraging signs. Breaking down what to expect in 2019 further, he continued: ”You also have some signs of institutional money coming in, ie Fidelity Custody and Bakkt launching. I think we can expect a long drawn out year of boring price action where lots of things are happening under the surface.  Volumes have dried up and stealth accumulation is happening.”

Samman advised investors to look out for interoperability solutions like Cosmos (a decentralized network of independent parallel blockchains)and Polkadot (a heterogeneous multi‑chain technology), saying they will ”be big deal and bring crypto to the next level”. And watch out for Bitcoin’s trading volume starting to rise again, as it could be one of the first telltale signs of the next bull market.

But for 2019, Samman really hopes to see big, solution-finding projects work and benefit from some type of adoption. As for what industry blockchain will conquer next, ”what hasn’t it conquered already?” he jokes.

The future of money

Samman’s hopes for decentralized currency are high and he has faith in their ability to replace fiat currency. He explained, ”I think the future is money systems which are not government owned, these will take many shapes and forms as we move through a giant experimentation phase but ultimately I believe some will emerge as the decentralized central banks for the internet.” The vision is for digitally native internet technologies to power the decentralized web.

But centralized currency is here to stay for a while, at least until algorithmic and cryptocurrency backed stablecoins prove they can remain stable to their namesake while maintaining the demand side. There is also the possibility that if a new bull market emerges, a lot of these stablecoins will lose value as traders and speculators use them to purchase cryptocurrency and don’t want to be “locked-up”.

That may not be a bad thing, however, as Samman explained: ”This actually would be a best-case scenario as it would be like Quantitative Easing for the crypto markets as there are billions of dollars locked up in stablecoins which could move the market much much higher.”

He recently worked as the lead author on the State of Stablecoins 2019 Report in which he explored in more depth why he believes stablecoins will evolve past the asset-backed subcategory dominant today, to be replaced by crypto-collateralized and algorithmic stable coins. Primarily, it goes back to his lack of faith in fiat currencies and his belief that an alternative form of currency will prevail.

To read more about George Sammans work and views, visit his website, LinkedIn or Twitter

 

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Crypto360 Exclusive: Inheritance, Custody – Crypto Deserves Same Protection as Traditional Assets

Crypto360 Exclusive: Inheritance, Custody – Crypto Deserves Same Protection as Traditional Assets

As the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries mature, firms are beginning to use the technologies to create increasingly sophisticated alternatives to mainstream financial services. Beyond cryptocurrency exchanges, startups have created solutions for cryptocurrency loan services and futures trading, with many expected to see a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in action later this year.

Based in Italy, Crypto360 is one such company offering an innovative finance solution as a digital currency custody provider. The project has two main selling points: 1) it offers a legally compliant platform to administer digital currency inheritance and 2) it provides a custody solution suitable for institutional and retail traders alike.

Ivan Rossi, who works at the company’s front desk, told Bitcoin News:

”We want to give to cryptocurrencies the same protection that traditional assets have on the hereditary front, and we do it in a different way from the competitors without taking possession of the asset.”

Crypto360’s founders claim they were ”not amazed” by other custody solution providers in the market but appreciated that these alternatives confirmed that custody is valid if integrated with the possibility for assets to be handed down in the face of decisive events.

Contractual and conditional custody on the go

The firm provides an ”ad hoc solution” for institutional investors, offering them different contractual conditions from that of other investors. 

A major group of users is expected to be those looking for a way to manage their cryptocurrency for inheritance with full legal compliance. Rossi explained, ”It is compatible with local tax laws because cryptocurrencies are not yet included as goods in the hereditary asset. The Crypto360 service has been conceived as an encrypted custody of private keys and the aspect of succession is an integrative character that makes its sphere of application complete.”

As well as inheritance, clients can assign a designated beneficiary to assume funds in the event of a particular incident that is contractually identified. 

The platform does save a copy of clients passwords but this is protected by a double level of encryption and stored in protected archives. If somehow the account was accessed fraudulently, any request to redeem funds in the account would be met with a request to verify the individual’s identity.

Rossi told Bitcoin News that the security process on Crypto 360 means the usual storage precautions needed to protect your private key does not apply. ”Clients can pin their password up on the wall or store it freely on multiple clouds. He could adopt any duplication and storage solution without countermeasures for the secret protection of the data, all in order to prevent its loss and without the fear that someone can use it,” he explained.

Because Crypto360 securely stores an encrypted copy of clients’ security details, if you lose your password through your own negligence you have not lost access to your account. As the company’s white paper cites, in 2017, as much as 23% of mined Bitcoins had been lost forever due to human error, so this is a way to help prevent client holdings from joining that statistic.

Security is, however, still a huge issue for cryptocurrency traders as compromised exchanges continue to make the headlines. Most recently it was revealed QuadrigaCX was given another 45-day extension for creditor protection, meaning any clients who lost money when the exchange lost control of USD 134 million in cryptocurrency will be unable to begin legal proceedings against the exchange during this time period. The exchange claims it lost control of the funds when its founder, who had sole control of the funds, died suddenly without passing on the private keys.

Rossi stated that Crypto 360 offers a different service to that of cryptocurrency exchanges, also operating with a unique security protocol which means incidents such as that experienced by QuadrigaCX would not happen on their platform. He added, ”It is important for users in the crypto world to understand that it is not safe to hold cryptocurrencies within exchanges. They are at risk of hacking and in the absence of countermeasures aimed at protecting the loss of access to funds, customers will lose their cryptocurrencies.”

How popular will crypto custodial services be?

It is no secret that cryptocurrency prices are not having their best moment. The success of projects such as Crypto360 is dependent on a large enough demand for its services, something directly correlated to the popularity of cryptocurrency and largely market prices also.

As the firm sees it, as the market matures there is a natural selection of projects as there was last year, but it is unlikely that performance similar to that of 2018 are repeated. ”Our vision on the market remains optimistic and we assume that it is a trend that is constantly growing, but in a more natural way that allows it to be consolidated,’ Rossi told Bitcoin News. 

Crypto360 also faces the potential problem of competition as more blockchain firms emerge to offer similar cryptocurrency solutions. Being one of the very first players, however, they are confident they will stay at the top of the game.

”We pride ourselves on being the first to think of a custody solution that keeps the clients’ funds private. It is very likely that the next competitors will be the banks, which as they currently do with the other assets, will keep the cryptocurrencies coming directly into possession,” Rossi affirmed. 

The prediction that 2019 will be the year of the cryptocurrency institutional investor had perhaps the largest consensus of all the year’s forecasts. In Rossi’s view, the time has already arrived: “[Custody soloutions] are a need very felt by the market and there are already large institutions ready to enter this business.”

 

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Germany’s #2 Stock Exchange Launches Bison Crypto Trading App

Germanys No. 2 Stock Exchange Lunches Crypto Trading App, Bison

The second largest stock exchange in Germany has announced the official launch of its new cryptocurrency trading platform called Bison.

Börse Stuttgart Group enlisted developers from its digital ventures subsidiary FinTech Sowa Labs to create the exchange, citing its goal as an attempt to make cryptocurrency trading easy for investors that are used to traditional marketplaces.

In this initial launch, the smartphone application allows zero-fee trading of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Ripple, offering a custodial service and escrow system from an additional subsidiary group, Blocknox.

Bison was first announced in May 2018. Its ambitious target launch date of fall 2018 was missed by months.

Users will need a German checking account to access Bison services, which for right now, will only be accessible from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. CET. Stuttgart Börse shared ambitions of opening up access to European countries towards the end of the year.

Other major stock exchanges have also shared ambitions of launching simal platforms; both the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the New York Stock Exchange have plans in motion to develop their own products. The London  Stock Exchange Group is aiding Hong Kong officials to develop their own digit asset exchange.

 

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Ripple Supports China’s Fintech Youth at Tsinghua University

Ripple Supports China's Fintech Youth at Tsinghua University

Ripple continues to expand its collaboration with universities in Asia with its latest blockchain research program at China’s Tsinghua University.

This Blockchain Technology Research Scholarship Program (BRSP) scholarship will only be available to graduates in 2019. It is principally aimed at the development of blockchain tech and international regulatory policies and will give participating students the opportunity to work on global policies related to blockchain technology.

San Francisco-based Ripple is gaining a global reputation for its graduate programs. In 2018, the company put USD 50 million into another Asian initiative, this time in South Korea. The University Blockchain Research Initiative there included 17 universities across the country.

Regarding its latest graduate initiative, Ripple’s SVP of Global Operations, Eric van Miltenburg, was impressed with the university’s forward-thinking approach to bringing the country’s youth into DLT. He said:

“The program’s goal – to provide students with opportunities in blockchain research – closely aligns with that of Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative; we’re thrilled to support Tsinghua University in this endeavor and look forward to its launch.”

The university’s response to the latest research initiative was one of encouragement for students to go forward in the industry by becoming skilled in the latest international relations and rules surrounding the industry.

 

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12 Days of Coinbase: What You Missed and What You Didn’t

12 Days of Coinbase: What You Missed and What You Didn't

December 21st marked the final episode of ’12 days of Coinbase giveaway‘. While some of the offers from the popular cryptocurrency exchange embodied the giving holiday spirit, others fell a little flat.

The highlights

There was a charitable undercurrent running through the giveaway, with Day 2 dedicated to a USD 10,000 donation in Zcash (ZEC) to impoverished families in Venezuela. As Bitcoin News previously reported, the South American country is struggling to handle major hyperinflation that has left many families unable to afford basic amenities. An increasing number of citizens are turning to cryptocurrencies as a store of value and a way to make charitable contributions.

Another USD 10,000 donation was made in Bitcoin (BTC) to support a project developing a basic income scheme for 150 Syrian refugees in Greece who are currently without access to the mainstream financial system.

Coinbase hit the mark with both days, using the event as a great way to draw attention to humanitarian efforts utilizing cryptocurrency, specifically through GiveCrypto.com.

Those ‘exclusive’ offers

Days 9 and 10 offered privileges for the more ‘exclusive’ Coinbase client. It was announced that Coinbase Pro members would be able to trade Dai (DAI), Golem (GNT), Maker (MKR), and Zilliqa (ZIL) within certain jurisdictions at least. Of course, the appeal is to draw more clients on to the Pro membership, but why not give all users a trial in the Christmas spirit?

An initiative called ‘Coinbase Earn’ was also detailed, which would allow users to ”earn cryptocurrencies while learning about them in a simple and engaging way.” Sound good? Well, unfortunately, this option is in the invite-only stage for the select few users they chose to reach out to via email.

The useful

Coinbase users in the US can benefit from several of the more practical new features added during the 12-day period. These benefits include being able to withdraw funds straight to their Paypal accounts, and use the e-gift card feature for Uber and Nike among other retail outlets, which were previously available to just the EU and UK members.

In all, Coinbase gave onlookers an entertaining diversion to follow and while some days may have lacked real substance, there is room for improvement for the coming year. Moreover, it was a nice gesture from the exchange at the very least.

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