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US Crypto Regulations Between a Rock and a Hard Place

US Crypto Regulations Between a Rock and a Hard Place

In the midst of the delay for the approval of Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications after several rejections, and current uncertainty regarding regulatory framework, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Hester Peirce provided insights into the matter as an opportunity for better industry development.

Last week, Heister made comments on the issues of state regulation at the University of Missouri School of Law where she opined that “entrepreneurship and innovation do not have the happiest relationship with innovation”, which may be the core reason why crypto ventures have suffered in the hands of most regulatory systems.

The SEC’s clamp down on non-compliant ICOs (issuing securities disguised as utility tokens), its rejection of Bitcoin ETF applications, and somewhat deliberate delay in providing a regulatory framework as regards the industry may have a more logical than malicious intent behind it. Innovations, while they make life easier most of the time, always come outside the norms, especially those of the regulatory system and often times drives regulators to accept changes despite skepticism.

“Regulators, for their part, tend to be skeptical of change because its consequences are difficult to foresee and figuring out how it fits into existing regulatory frameworks is difficult,” she said, implying that it’s not an easy task for the SEC to reject what seemingly looks like a financial innovation in an attempt to weigh and understand the situation correctly.

The last financial crisis has made it easier for trust issues to thrive, especially on the part of the regulator, given that some ascribe the crisis to be due to “financial innovations”. Peirce pointed out that “…every innovation — even one that almost everyone agrees is good — carries with it some risk”, something currently agreeable with the cryptocurrency system.

Accordingly, since innovations can be unpredictable, so caution must be applied when drafting regulatory frameworks, especially for a new industry such as blockchain and its underlying assets. Peirce continues by saying that “as regulators, therefore, we must allow innovation to proceed, even as we put in reasonable safeguards and watch for unanticipated consequences”, and still, it has to come with no comprise to the securities laws in place. It behooves one to imagine where the true line of trade-offs will be drawn, seeing that the core structure of the crypto industry lies in decentralization, which by implication makes it harder for any regulator.

Still, the regulatory polarity has created distinct shades of gray areas around the world. With the Chinese government adamant with its crypto ban, the Indian government chose a rather bizarre stance — first with a ban on banking services to crypto related ventures, and then planned to develop a state-backed cryptocurrency, which it shelved later on. Meanwhile, other jurisdictions have launched out to attract the “rejected”, by providing a safe haven to crypto ventures, and a few nations are developing their own state-backed crypto to augment their economies.

In the UK, the principal regulator has extended an invitation to the public through its consultation paper to better assess a possible way forward for industry regulations. It said in late January: “We are consulting on Guidance for crypto assets to provide regulatory clarity for market participants.” Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also hinted on possible ICO regulations to be introduced later this year.

So far, the crypto industry has had checkered developments and have more recently been in a stalemate (regardless of minor spikes in market dynamics), and many have been waiting eagerly for the next bull-run trigger. It’s basically what most crypto enthusiasts talk about these days, consequently, dialing down tech innovation, development and mass adoption of crypto products — at least, for the innovations that they stand for — and are relying on adjuncts gunning for more institutional involvement that would supposedly propel the market further.

While the US SEC does recognize the potential this innovative technology may provide, as Peirce says. “the United States has benefited greatly from the relative importance of non-bank financing”, supposedly placing them on par with the capital market. This further buttresses the point made by SEC boss Jay Clayton who viewed crypto as a “promise for adding efficiency to our [capital] marketplace”.

However, the regulatory watchdog maintains a stance of balance that involved protecting the interests of investors as market volatility, manipulation, hacks, frauds, exchange illiquidity, and a host of other unforeseen consequences from the unstandardized cryptosystem remain legitimate concerns.

Perhaps, when the SEC, as well as other financial regulators, have finally regulated the industry, these problems will be adequately tackled. Meanwhile, the regulator itself is waiting for the maturity of the industry marked by improved oversight on market surveillance, definitive asset classification, and airtight custody solutions, before embracing the industry wholeheartedly. But it still remains to be known at what cost?

The good news so far is that earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the House to help with asset classification, that partly takes care of one problem. Nasdaq introduced its SMARTS Market Surveillance solution which may have provided precedence in the direction of play towards controlling market manipulation. On the subject of custody solutions, crypto ventures are urged to ensure best cybersecurity practices. Fidelity, Coinbase, Gemini, BitGo, Ledger, ItBi and even Goldman Sachs are among many reportedly racing toward that end.

Peirce’s overall sentiment in a manner of speaking, perhaps one shared on both sides of the tussle is that the delay in drawing clear lines may actually allow more freedom for the technology to come into its own.

 

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IOTA Recovers Nearly All of $11 Million of Stolen Crypto

IOTA Recovers Nearly All USD 11 Million of Crypto Lost in Hack

Following the USD 11.4 million hack of technology group IOTA, a top official has confirmed to Reuters that nearly all of the funds have been recovered.

The hackers stole cryptocurrency funds from investor’s wallets on the IOTA platform by creating a malicious seed-generator running over the websites own page. When clients used the generator to create their 81-digit seed password, the hackers were able to capture and save the digits.

A 36-year-old man from Oxford, England was arrested last week on the grounds of stealing the funds from over 85 victims. It was initially thought to have been committed by an organized criminal group but officials now believe this man was the sole perpetrator. Authorities are withholding the funds to use as evidence in court.

Since the attack, IOTA has partnered with Ledger Hardware Wallet to enable users to protect their private keys for their IOTA tokens.

While of course any hacks or criminal activities that result in the unlawful loss of funds are unacceptable, it is a promising step that authorities are becoming increasing equipped to trace funds and find the criminals behind the offenses.

 

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Ledger Nano S Review: Good Value for Money?

Nano Ledger S Review BitcoinNews

Overview of the Ledger Nano S

The Ledger Nano S is a hardware wallet, meaning that it stores the private keys to your cryptocurrency wallets, securing your funds and giving you the ability to safely conduct transactions. Ledger has been around since 2014 and apart from being regarded as a very secure wallet provider, the Ledger Nano S is currently the only hardware wallet that supports Ripple (XRP) and a total of 1,180 other cryptocurrencies. Their wide range of supported crypto assets makes it a very useful storage option for those who invest in a wide range of altcoins and need a way to securely store them as well as for those who just need somewhere safe to put their crypto-assets.

We will explore all of this in more detail: Ledger’s reputation and history, the wallet’s design, security features, setup and initialization in the following Ledger Nano S review.

More about Ledger the company

Ledger is a French company that began life in 2014 and has grown into a leader in secure cryptocurrency storage solutions and blockchain applications. Since the original founders of the company came together to form Ledger, the company has expanded to over 130 employees with offices in Paris, Vierzon and San Francisco. In that time, Ledger has built up a strong customer base with clients in 165 countries and over 1,441,000 Ledger Nano S wallets already sold. Investments in the company are also healthy, having raised USD 85 million to date.

Design

So what can you expect after receiving your Ledger Nano S?

The box should contain:

  • The Ledger Nano S device
  • 3 documents: Getting started card, Did you notice card and 3 copies of the Recovery sheet
  • A lanyard and keychain
  • A USB cable

Note that Ledger doesn’t use a tamper-proof seal or sticker as they can be counterfeited to fool people. If there is anything missing from the box or the seed card has anything written on it, then it shouldn’t be used and Ledger should be contacted immediately. As a common rule when buying any hardware wallet, the device should only be purchased directly from the company and not from Ebay to ensure it hasn’t been pre-owned or tampered with.

Ledger Nano S box contents
What should be delivered with a Ledger Nano S

So back to the design of your new Ledger Nano S. It resembles a USB stick in size and shape and can be easily held in your hand or put in your pocket. Alternatively, you can use the lanyard or key ring it comes with to carry it around with you. The inbuilt display, although smaller than some other wallets such as Keep Key, is large enough and an important security feature as it allows you to use the device securely even if you are unsure that the computer you’re using it with is free from malware. The rotatable metal sleeve protects the screen isn’t strictly necessary but doesn’t do any harm and makes the wallet as a whole a bit more durable. In short, the device is practical and makes a good first impression.

Now that it has been unpacked and inspected, it is ready to be set up.

Setup and initialization

The setup and initialization process of the Ledger Nano S is quite intuitive and similar to most other hardware wallets. To start, plug your wallet into your computer and turn it on; after that, you will be asked to create a PIN code using the 2 buttons on the device.

Important to note is that when you first plug the wallet into your computer, the screen should display “Welcome” and “Press both buttons to begin”. If this isn’t the case, then there’s a chance it has been tampered with and Ledger should be contacted. Also, the PIN and seed code will not have been preset. If they have, then the device is likely not safe and Ledger should be contacted.

ledger nano s welcome screen

Once you have confirmed the PIN, you’ll be asked to write down your 24-word seed on the card provided. The seed will be displayed on the screen of your Ledger Nano S so that it never comes in contact with your computer or the internet.

The ability to use the device to create and display important, private information is part of what makes hardware wallets such a secure, simple option for storing cryptocurrencies. It is, however, important to write the seed code down in the correct order and store it somewhere safe from the elements and prying eyes.

Now all that is left to do is to install Ledger Live which is the software that allows you to download apps and manage your different wallets on the device. This includes conducting transactions with the hardware wallet. Ledger Live is not the only option. Those with existing software wallets, including those from Mycelium, Electrum and some others, can use the Ledger Nano S to secure them. In total, the setup takes around 5 minutes and is not difficult, following similar steps to most other hardware wallets on the market.

Supported coins

One of the most crucial things to consider when buying a hardware wallet, apart from its security features, is supported altcoins. In this regard, Ledger is well-known for being particularly willing to add support for new cryptocurrencies, often well before other devices on the market. Currently, the Ledger Nano S supports over 1,100 cryptocurrencies although many, such as ECR-20 tokens, aren’t supported by Ledger Live directly so to send or receive them you will have to download other software such as MyEtherWallet or MyCryptoWallet.

The Ledger Nano S, of course, supports many of the most popular cryptocurrencies traded, including:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Bitcoin Gold (BTG)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Zcash (ZEX)
  • Dash (DASH)

One of the issues with the Ledger Nano S is that although it can be used to store many different types of cryptocurrencies, the device has limited memory and only about 4 or 5 cryptocurrency apps can be stored at the same time on the device. This has drawn criticism from some users, however, although it is a hassle, it is not difficult to uninstall apps from the device via Ledger Live to make space for new ones. When uninstalling apps on the device, the personal keys are not lost and to gain access to the wallet, you just have to reinstall the app for that cryptocurrency on the device again as the private keys remain securely stored on the device.

As a side note, Ledger allows users with an Android OTG capable device to check their balance on the go with their Ledger Live app for mobile devices. Running in what Ledger calls consultation mode, with an OTG cable, you can currently only check your Ledger Nano S’s balance on the app and not conduct transactions. The OTG cable can be purchased from Ledger directly with the hardware wallet.

Security features

The Ledger Nano S is considered to be at least as secure as other popular hardware wallets on the market such as Trezor or Keep Key. Its inbuilt screen means that all actions have to be manually confirmed on the device. On top of this, when generating a private key and seed for the wallet, they are generated on the device in real time. This means that they are not accessible from the internet or the connected computer which is a large part of why the Ledger Nano S, and hardware wallets in general, are far superior in terms of security and privacy to software or cloud wallets.

For more advanced users and those with large sums of cryptocurrency that want to add an extra layer of security to their Ledger Nano S, there is the option to add a passphrase. This is an extra word added to the 24-word seed code and a second associated PIN that allows for hidden wallets. The passphrase is never written down and chosen on the device by the user so is therefore known only to the owner of the device. If a wallet is placed “behind” the passphrase, when trying to recover the device with the 24-word seed, only those not “behind” the pass code will be recovered.

ledger nano s security

By keeping a small amount of cryptocurrency for day-to-day use in basic, non-passphrase wallets, if the user is threatened to release the seed codes for the wallet or they somehow fall into someone else’s hands, only a small amount will be lost. The thief is tricked into thinking that no other funds exist on the device. It should be noted that this security feature is only recommended for advanced users because if the passphrase and second PIN are forgotten, then the funds can’t be recovered. The device is very secure without the use of the passphrase feature.

As mentioned above, because the generation of your seed code is so crucial to the device’s security, it is important to make sure that when purchasing any hardware wallet, not just the Ledger Nano S, you never order it from a third party. It is always recommended to purchase it directly from Ledger or a certified reseller, such as Amazon in the case of Ledger. Scams involving the selling of a hardware wallet with pre-generated seed codes have been known to occur. If someone gains access to the device’s seed code, they can access the private wallet keys on it and therefore the funds associated with them.

Ledger Nano S review summary: is it good value for money?

After running through the most relevant aspects of the wallet in this Ledger Nano S review, how does its price compare to other wallets on the market?

Ledger is a respected, secure and user-friendly hardware wallet that supports a wide range of cryptocurrencies, albeit with some limitations in the number of apps that can be simultaneously loaded and managed on the device. Costing at the time of writing EUR 59 (inc. VAT), it is competitively priced when compared to the Trezor One at EUR 83.49 (incl. VAT). Similarly, the Keep Key costs USD 129 when bought directly from manufacturer.

In summary, although the product could be improved by adding more memory to allow for more apps on the device, the Ledger Nano S is a reliable, secure cryptocurrency storage solution that offers good value for money. If this is what you are looking for, make sure that you get it only from Ledger directly. If you are still uncertain then you can read our reviews of other quality hardware wallets on the market.

 

Disclaimer: BitcoinNews does not provide any warranties towards the accuracy of the statements in the above Ledger Nano S review. Any content on this site should not be relied upon as advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. It is your responsibility to perform your own research of the wallet. Trading and investing in cryptocurrencies involves considerable risk of loss and is not suitable for every investor.

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Ledger, Neufund Partnership Latest in Security Token Management Developments

Ledger, Neufund Partnership Latest in Security Token Management Developments

In a press release yesterday, cryptocurrency hardware wallet provider Ledger announced a partnership with blockchain-based equity fundraising platform Neufund to allow users to manage their security tokens on the Ledger desktop app.

The collaboration between Ledger and Neufund will foster a framework developed for securitized tokens, “allowing users to manage real-world assets on the blockchain while creating the safest user-experience for investors”.

Ledger CEO Eric Larchevêque said the partnership “marks a new, important chapter in bringing security tokens to the Ledger platforms”.

The current partnership is built upon an already established collaboration back in November 2017. Then, significant investors backing the Neufund Initial Community Building Mechanism were offered special editions of the Ledger Nano S.

Ledger had recently released its desktop application for crypto asset management and is moving forward with plans to add ERC-20 integration to its app. The app will allow users to manage their blockchain-based security assets through Neufund’s set of protocols.

CEO of Neufund Zoe Adamovicz said: “Currently, Ledger’s hardware wallets are the safest way to set up and manage investments conducted through Neufund’s set of protocols. With operations in the 7-9 digit (EUR) range, security becomes a top priority.”

With security tokens taking deeper roots within the cryptocurrency economy, should security tokens replace or overshadow utility tokens, the race is on to offer the most efficient securitized services to an estimated USD 10 trillion securitized tokens market by 2020.

Recently, Gibraltar Stock Exchange joined Millbrook Accord for security token interoperability. Yesterday, crypto-based fintech operator Bankex expanded its ecosystem to include security token assets trading.

In October, Neufund’s partnership with leading European crypto exchange BitBay allowed investors to purchase security tokens using fiat currencies. The announcement followed other partnerships that involved Malta Stock Exchange and Binance crypto exchange. All in the bid to becoming the first end-to-end primary issuance platform for security tokens focused on equity tokens.

On the other hand, a shift in cryptocurrency investments towards institutions has Ledger expanding shop with plans of including crypto custodian services to its service chain just after making a profit of USD 29.4 million in hardware wallet sales.

The duo further disclosed a planned legal-technical hackathon to be held in Paris, with the objectives of creating a more secure framework for managing real-world assets.

 

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New York State Approves Signature Bank Blockchain Payment Platform

New York State Approves Signature Bank Blockchain Payment Platform

A New York bank has received approval from local regulators for a digital blockchain payments platform.

The Department of Financial Services of New York (NYDFS) granted its approval to Signature Bank on 4 December. According to a press release, Signature Bank has the go-ahead to launch its platform called Signet in the state, which offers clients a 24/7, free-of-charge payment option.

It is essentially a peer-to-peer blockchain payment system for use between the bank’s clients, claiming to ”[eliminate] any dependence on a third party”.

NYDFS had several concerns about the platform prior to its investigation but is now reportedly satisfied Signet can comply with its rigorous regulatory expectations. This includes many of the standard know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) policies that all banks are subject to, as well as extensive consumer protection guidelines.

NYDFS superintendent Maria Vullo said the regulators were ”pleased to strengthen and foster regulated innovation” in the city while emphasizing that Signature bank would be operating ”through sound state regulation”.

New York’s financial regulators are not the only officials putting their support behind the platform. Signet benefits from coverage by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a major US bank deposit insurance scheme managed by the government.

Signature Bank is relatively small, handling just 30 private clients and assets of around USD 45.87 billion.

The approval of Signet bodes well for other blockchain companies in the finance sector looking to operate from New York, which seems to looking to make its mark as an innovation-friendly city.

In mid-October this year, California-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase received approval for its digital asset custody solution in the state. Last month Ledger joined them, opening its own office with intentions of launching an institutional custody solution.

 

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Hardware Wallet Sales Booming as Nano S Tops 1.3 Million Units

French crypto hardware manufacturer Ledger has now sold over 1.3 million units of its Nano S wallets, according to a recent blog on their website.

The peak sales come at a time when the demand for such devices is on an all-time high. The changing trend is quite evident by the sales numbers of Ledger Nano S as well as its rival Trezor’s recently launched Model T which has interested buyers in a long waitlist. Also, the Nano S is now available over the counter as a dutyfree item at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, such is its popularity, particularly amongst travellers.

Such wallets, promoted as being unhackable and therefore the safer way of storing coins and conducting transactions, gained some critics earlier this year when Bitfi, with a new wallet on the market, challenged anyone to hack the device.  15-year-old Saleem Rashid took on the task successfully, which resulted in BitFi withdrawing its guarantee.

CEO Eric Larchevêque claims that Ledger is planning updates to tighten the security of the hot-selling nano with “a chip designed specifically to resist highly skilled attackers and a custom OS designed specifically to protect crypto assets.”

Ledger has a clear run in the market with Trezor the only other major competitor in the sector to date. Trezor had reputed sales of 800,000 units some months ago, but this wasn’t confirmed by the company. There are others on the market, but as yet they have presented no challenge to the top two hard-wallet leaders.

Although advertised as a reliable storage option, these wallets have incurred problems in the past and Ledger has had its own issues, resulting in a temporary shut down of its Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC) infrastructures in August. The resulting outcome was that Ledger announced that there had been no hack, but a glitch that occurred due to a “side effect when [it] pushed an update to invite users to use the Ledger Live instead of the Chrome app.” A refund of any funds lost was offered to users.

The market is booming despite the occasional unit glitch, due to investors’ needs for a portable, safe way of storing their crypto with an easy recovery option, should units be lost or damaged; attributes which most of these units on the market provide.

Ledger also announced recently that it will be expanding its business into cryptocurrency custodianship, and is planning another major investment round that has already sparked interest from Google, Siemens, and Samsung, which may bring their valuation up to USD 1 billion.

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Ledger Generates $29.4M Profit from Hardware Wallets, Plans to Launch Crypto Custodian Service

French crypto firm Ledger says it has sold over 1 million Ledger Nano S cryptocurrency hardware wallets in 2017, generating USD 52.9 million of sales and USD 29.4 million of profits. Ledger will soon be expanding its business to cryptocurrency custodianship, and is planning another major investment round that has already sparked interest from Google, Siemens, and Samsung which may bring their valuation up to USD 1 billion.

Hardware wallets like the Ledger Nano S are one of the most secure ways to store Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. One of the biggest mistakes that new cryptocurrency users make is they don’t keep their private key in a safe place, which can result in their cryptocurrency being stolen. The private key gives anyone who holds it total control over cryptocurrency held in the corresponding address. Another major mistake is keeping cryptocurrency in an exchange or an online wallet instead of in their own wallet; users who do this don’t have 100% control of their private key and would lose their coins if the online service they are using is hacked or shut down.

The Ledger Nano S and other hardware wallets give cryptocurrency users a fast and efficient way of safely storing private keys, which is beneficial for the crypto ecosystem since it reduces fraud and bad experiences. Considering this, it is perhaps no surprise that Ledger has sold over 1 million hardware wallets in a year. Hardware wallets are essentially a USB stick or external drive that holds a private key, but Ledger Nano S includes wallet software, encryption that can only be unlocked by entering a pin code, 2-factor authentication, and a display which shows transaction history. Also, Ledger Nano S supports multiple cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.

Ledger is expanding its business and has created the Ledger Vault, which provides everyone in an organization with hardware wallets that access the same crypto wallets. Varying permission can be set on each hardware wallet, which is ideal for businesses that use cryptocurrency.

The biggest move that Ledger is planning is the launching of Komainu, in partnership with Japanese financial giant Nomura, which will be a full-fledged cryptocurrency custodian service. Cryptocurrency custodian services are considered the final barrier to mainstream institutional investment, which could release a tremendous amount of money into the cryptocurrency markets. Coinbase, BitGo, and Xapo have already launched fully licensed and operational cryptocurrency custodian services.

 

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