Category Archives: Gemini

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Winklevoss Twins and Gemini Glimpse Crypto Horizon in UK

Gemini and the Winklevoss twins are looking ahead to the UK as their next lucrative cryptocurrency landscape.

The entrepreneurial crypto brothers, having recently been knocked back by the SEC after their own ETF submission was turned down, have at least have received some recent success in getting a rubber stamp from the NY regulators for the company’s new stablecoin. Two firms, Gemini Trust Company, and the Paxos Trust Company are the first stablecoin providers to receive the go-ahead to list on exchanges in New York State.

Now it appears that the brothers are “crossing the pond” with their latest venture. Those close to the company have reported that Gemini has already taken the step to hire consultants to advise on an approach to move into the UK. London is currently the European financial epicenter, although many companies are now awaiting the final outcome of Brexit talks, and some have even already moved from London to Germany and France in anticipation of a negative result in which no deal between the UK and Brussels is reached.

This has clearly done little to dissuade Gemini as it plans to file an application with the UK’s equivalent of the SEC, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), according to the Financial Times.

If a move does materialize, Gemini’s made competitor will become San Francisco-based exchange giant Coinbase who are now well established in the UK as the main provider of crypto-related services to UK residents. Coinbase has recently expanded the offerings on its UK platform, enabling easier withdrawals from UK Coinbase sterling accounts to English banks and forming a partnership with major English bank, Barclays, to simplify its platform for users.

The UK market is still being monitored by the FCA but there have been recent calls for tighter regulatory measures called for by MPs. The FCA has recently asserted that it would not “rule out roles for crypto-assets themselves”, an approach far from calling for a ban or restriction on trading operations. However, the situation is ongoing without any real decisions taken as yet by the Crypto-Assets Task Force set up earlier this year in May.

The most recent noises out of Westminster concerning cryptocurrencies is that MPs want the FCA to look at digital currencies “as a matter of urgency”, suggesting that no new asset class is structured around the technology but that EU AML laws are enforced along with KYC checks.

The Gemini move may offer challenges in a vibrant and lucrative UK market, but the benefits may be worth the risks. The UK experiment has certainly worked for Coinbase who now plan to move into Ireland. Gemini is currently 61st in global rankings.


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Growth Over Time in Crypto Market Could Jumpstart SEC’s ETF Decisions

Asjylyn Loder, writing for the Wall Street Journal, feels that Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) will happen; it’s just a matter of time.

After ten rebuffs to date, it must seem to these crypto companies that they are continually banging their heads against a wall. Loder reminds them that history is on their side, although when this history is examined, the time lag may be a bit of a wake-up call for the new players on the block, as she points out, “The first ETF pegged to volatility futures launched five years after the debut of the futures, and the first oil ETF followed oil futures by 23 years.”

However, those early applications have an advantage, which is clearly why they keep on coming. The hope is that at least one successful approval on ETF by the SEC would bring a tidal wave of institutional buyers to the market, picking up prices and moving Bitcoin in a long-awaited upward trajectory. For the hopefuls in the market, the track record so far isn’t good. It could be that the SEC is waiting for Bitcoin to move first.

With Gemini’s failure to become the first-ever cryptocurrency ETF on a regulated exchange came other subsequent rejections by the SEC: five more applications failing in the same week as the second Winklevoss attempt. This latest string of rejections seems to be a cementing of the SEC’s hard-line stance.

GraniteShares, one of the ten unsuccessful proposals to the SEC, sees the agency regarding crypto assets as a high-risk class, one of the issues that may add to the tardiness of any decision. Co-founder Will Rhind says the commission is even tougher on cryptocurrencies than conventional futures because of the risk factor, arguing:

“That risk has always been a disclosure issue… But in this case, we had to go way beyond that and prove that the market is not being manipulated, which is a standard that is impossible to prove.”

Patomak Global Partners chief executive Paul Atkins was on the inside once as an SEC commissioner. He sees time as crypto’s best friend: “Is [the SEC] a merit regulator, or should investors be able to decide for themselves what to invest in?”

With three re-evaluations by the SEC of proposals turned down earlier this year, in part because of the concern that the cryptocurrency market is too small, Loder agrees that time may well become the saving grace for Bitcoin ETFs. But if this is the case, Bitcoin trading would need to take the much-awaited leap forward which the crypto community is waiting for in order for the SEC to sit up and take notice.


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New York Report Points to Improvement Areas for Crypto Exchanges

The New York Attorney General’s office published a report this week that investigates the practices of cryptocurrency exchanges in the state.

It was undertaken on the basis of protecting and informing residents, with evidence conclusively pointing to areas that exchanges need to improve in order to ”ensure the fairness, integrity, and security of their exchanges”.

The ten exchanges that chose to participate in the Attorney General’s report include Bitfinex, bitFlyer USA, Bitstamp, Bittrex, Coinbase, Gemini, itBit, Poloniex, HBUS and Tidex. Of these platforms, just Bitfinex, Tidex and HBUS are not regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

The report claims that some exchanges have failed to implement standard investor and consumer protections; this including adequate security measures as well as market surveillance protocols.

One aspect of this pointed to is an apparent lack of measures to impede ”abusive trading activity”. While the report acknowledges some exchanges have steps to implement safeguards and ”police the fairness of their platforms”, this cannot be said for all of those that participated in the study. The lack of market surveillance capabilities such as those found in traditional trading venues is said to restrict their capabilities of identifying and putting a stop to suspicious trading patterns.

Despite these criticisms, the Attorney General’s office is not looking to shut down or restrict any of their operations. Rather, the report has been conducted to help educate New York-based customers, and encourage the cryptocurrency marketplace to review its own flaws in order to preserve the integrity of transactions.

Should exchanges choose to ignore the advice and not adjust policies of their own accord, in the future the Attorney General’s office may well take legal action against the exchanges.

”As the sector matures, the OAG expects responsible trading platforms – in coordination with consumer advocates, regulators, and law enforcement – to expand the transparency, security, fairness, and accountability of their businesses,” it reads.


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The Rise Of Centralized Cryptocurrencies

The Gemini Dollar (USDG) is a new stable coin pegged at parity to the USD. It has been launched by the Gemini Exchange headquartered in the United States. Crypto coding expert Alex Lebed found that the USDG is completely centralized. Meaning, Gemini can freeze accounts, freeze the entire USDG coin supply, and print infinite USDG. But this is not just an isolated case as centralized cryptocurrencies like the USDG are becoming more common these days.

There are actually a couple of centralized cryptocurrencies hiding in plain sight among the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap. Tether (USDT), with a market cap of USD 2.76 billion, is the most popular stable coin, often used in place of the USD when the USD is not available. The popularity and success of USDT probably has a lot to do with the creation of USDG, and just like USDG the USDT is centralized to an extent. USD 30 million of USDT was stolen in a hack, and Tether Limited unleashed an emergency hard fork which reversed the hack.

This means USDT is not immutable, where immutable means transactions cannot be reversed. Immutability is one of the key advantages of Bitcoin. The fact that USDT is not immutable makes it much like fiat currency payment networks, such as banks or PayPal, and means users could have their funds reversed or frozen at any time.

EOS has a market cap of USD 4.84 billion, and it is run by a centralized organization of block producers. The EOS block producers work together and have in the past frozen EOS accounts since it was reported that a hack occurred. This means all EOS accounts can be frozen, just like when using a bank or PayPal. This likely is part of the reason EOS’ price dropped significantly after launch.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is planning on launching a Chinese national cryptocurrency, and it is clear that the PBoC will have centralized control to print this crypto at will and freeze accounts. When the PBoC crypto launches, it has the potential to be one of the top cryptos in the world, since it would be the only crypto in China that can be traded legally for fiat.

Essentially, regulations on cryptocurrency are becoming tighter with each passing month, and it is much easier to get a crypto approved for launch by the government if it is centralized. If the government comes to Gemini or Tether Limited with any concerns about money laundering regarding a specific account, Gemini and Tether Limited can simply freeze the account. For centralized cryptocurrencies like USDG and USDT, the government has just as much control as the organizations running the crypto, and this creates a precarious situation for users of those cryptocurrencies.

Crypto users should be careful and fully understand a crypto before they buy it and begin making transactions, and it is best to avoid centralized cryptocurrencies. Most cryptocurrencies are still decentralized and immutable, and these are optimal for business since there’s no chance of the government or a corporation freezing the money. There’s even a decentralized stable coin called Stableunit, created by Lebed, the same person who discovered that USDG is centralized.

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Blockchain Businesses Feature in LinkedIn’s Top 50 US Startups

Blockchain and cryptocurrency businesses performed consistently well in LinkedIn’s Top 50 US Startups, landing spots across the board.

LinkedIn’s list identifies the country’s most dominant startups looking at a variety of factors; 1) employee growth, 2) member, company and employee engagement, 3) interest from job seekers, and 4) to what degree the companies managed to pull talent from LinkedIn’s Top Companies list. To qualify, each company was required to have been established no more than seven years ago, and employ a minimum of 50 people.

Coinbase, Robinhood, Ripple in top 10

US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase grabbed the number three spot, with LinkedIn noting the company managed to double the number of accounts than that held by brokerage firm Charles Schwab, with numbers now standing at around 20 million. Coinbase currently has 500 employees and says it is looking to double that number this year. A spokesman for the company told LinkedIn that despite its rapid expansion, it is “absolutely not a run-fast-and-break-things culture”.

Investment app Robinhood landed in sixth, with LinkedIn partly attributing its success over competitors to the commission-free stock trades. The Stanford roommates that founded the platform four years ago have ambitions of ”[mimicking] every service found in a traditional bank, at lower costs”.

Blockchain-based international money transfer app Ripple found its place at number seven, as LinkedIn praised its ability to transform the antiquated process of cross-border financial transfers into one that can be completed in seconds. Ripple boasts over a hundred customers that include the major financial entities Santander and Standard Chartered.

Still appearing down the list

The Winklevosses’ Gemini trading platform ranked 25, Ethereum incubator ConsenSys at 26, and blockchain firm Axoni reached number 47.

The prevalence of the industry in the full list indicates the success and growth it experienced this year; recognition from LinkedIn in this way will only benefit it further.


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SEC Rejects Multiple Bitcoin ETFs

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rejected at least eight proposals for Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The decision was made yesterday on 22 August.

Two rejections were from applications filed by ProShares that would have tracked Bitcoin futures contracts — a decision made a day earlier from a 23 August deadline. However, the SEC also rejected six other proposals, decisions for which could have been postponed: one from GraniteShares and five leveraged and inverse ETFs filed by Direxion.

Brian Kelly’s lack of optimism on a 2018 decision on ETF appears to have been reflected in price action over the past few hours, with Bitcoin shedding around USD 300 or over 4% of its price after the news. It has held strong support at USD 6,400, however, and continues to trade just above that.

After two Winklevoss rejections by the SEC, the ProShares submission had been hopeful yo create the long-awaited spark the crypto community has been waiting for.

But Hunter Horsley‏, CEO of Bitwise Asset Management, felt that deadlines may not be the kickstart that some in the industry suggest it will be:

“An SEC filing hitting a deadline is a procedural reality — it doesn’t change the odds of it getting approved, it just draws our attention to it… Just because we hit the deadline doesn’t necessarily give any indication that the SEC has changed its tune.”

Horsley’s Bitwise filed in June with the SEC for their own exchange-traded fund of 10 cryptocurrencies. He, like Brian Kelly, doesn’t think that the SEC will necessarily meet their deadlines in the ever-increasing queue. He argues:

“I think [the SEC is] being cautious. That’s their job and that’s what we would hope they would do, suggesting that the SEC has “demonstrated a great understanding of the [digital coin] space.”

They appear to have been proven wrong with this latest string of rejections, however, as at least seven of them were decided on before their deadlines

The hope is that at least one successful approval on ETF by the SEC would bring a tidal wave of institutional buyers to the market, picking up prices and moving Bitcoin in a long-awaited upward trajectory. For the hopefuls in the market, the track record so far isn’t good.

With Gemini’s failure to become the first-ever cryptocurrency ETF on a regulated exchange came other subsequent rejections by the SEC: five more applications failing in the same week as the second Winklevoss. This latest string of rejections seem to be a cementing of the SEC’s hardline stance.

That said, SEC Commissioner Hester M Pierce, responsible for the second Winklevoss rejection, has thrown a bone to the industry which investors see as positive, commenting:

“More institutional participation would ameliorate many of the Commission’s concerns with the bitcoin market that underlie its disapproval order.”

Although that comment comes with an element of Catch 22, or possibly chicken or egg.


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Exchange Alliance Unites Gemini, Bittrex, bitFlyer USA, Bitstamp

Cryptocurrency exchanges Gemini, Bittrex, Bitstamp and bitFlyer USA have formed an alliance called the Virtual Commodity Association (VCA) working group. The goal of the VCA working group is to be a self-regulatory organization (SRO) that will work together to regulate their cryptocurrency exchanges with a common set of rules, which will help increase global crypto adoption by increasing security, compliance, accountability, and transparency. The VCA working group will have an independent board of directors and executive director.

Bitstamp has been one of the top USD to Bitcoin exchanges since the early days. Gemini is a well-known exchange that is headquartered in New York City and geared towards institutional investors. Bittrex is a popular crypto exchange that accepts USD. bitFlyer USA is the US branch of Japan’s most popular exchange.

The common denominator between these exchanges is that they are well-known and make significant amounts of money, but they are nowhere near the top crypto exchanges in the world. Huobi, Binance, Bitfinex, and OKEx are the top crypto exchanges in the world and often have daily trading volume of USD 0.5-1 billion. Bitstamp has trading volume of less than USD 100 million per day, Bittrex is at less than USD 50 million per day, and Gemini is around USD 25 million per day.

Even though the VCA working group is being marketed as focusing on regulations, it is likely that they will be focusing on working together to achieve greater success, like an alliance or cartel. Right now the exchanges in the VCA working group are relatively small fish in an ocean filled with whales, and perhaps if they work together they could become a bigger player. A big part of that will be achieving optimal balance regarding regulations, and they can do that much better together than alone.

It appears the VCA working group is open to accepting new members beyond the initial four exchanges that comprise the group right now. Perhaps the group harbors hopes to one day become influential in the industry.


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Winklevoss’s Gemini Integrates Block Trading for Crypto Whales

Trading platform Gemini, founded by the Winklevoss twins, announced Monday the introduction of block trading, with the goal of facilitating trades for those looking to exchange large sums of cryptocurrency.

As more institutional traders enter the market, publicly-open trading exchanges are not equipped to facilitate their substantial currency transactions and are extremely sensitive to high-value trades that take place.

The Winklevoss twins are looking to cater to the growing number of investors and hedge fund managers utilizing the cryptocurrency market while proving that block trading can potentially be conducted without destabilizing the market.

Block trading

Most exchanges maintain a central limit order book that keeps all transactions under a certain size, restricting trades to reflect the demand for the particular currency at the time. These limitations are there to prevent retail traders reacting to false signals of market movements that larger trades would create.

Block trading is utilized to overcome these restrictions, with larger trades that exceed the limitations being settled privately between the involved parties. A post on the Gemini blog lays out the conditions necessary for block trades to take place on the platform: “Any customer can place a block order that specifies: (i) buy or sell, (ii) quantity, (iii) minimum required fill quantity, and (iv) a price limit (the “Indication of Interest”)”.

The block trading orders will take place outside of Gemini’s continuous order books, with the pending transaction only successful if “a market maker agrees to “make a market” that satisfies the Indication of Interest”. There is a minimum investment of 10 BTC or 100 ETH to participate in block trades.

Gemini’s block trading service will go live on 12 April at 9.30am (EST). The exchange platform aims to publish confirmed trade information on its data feed within 10 minutes of being finalized. Block trading has the potential to reduce market volatility caused by cryptocurrency “whales” (the term given to large-volume traders) selling off large portions of their assets.

A recent substantial sell-off by a trader using the handle Mt. Gox, is reported to have influenced Bitcoin’s recent crash that reached nearly USD 6,000. Other platforms have already adopted block trading, most notably gaining popularity in Asian-based exchanges. Circle Trade is one such platform already utilizing block trading, with its website citing it is currently moving USD 2 billion a month.

Block trading companies have recently gained massive popularity in Asian trading hubs such as Hong Kong and also in Australia. With significant financial players including the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers and George Soros entering the cryptocurrency market, block trading is going to be a necessary adoption for all platforms looking to cater to these investors.


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