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Nasdaq Announces “World’s First” Full-Stack Crypto Platform

Nasdaq Announces

The world’s second largest stock exchange has announced the upcoming release of what it is calling the “world’s first full-stack cryptocurrency ecosystem”.

Crypto startup Bcause LLC, using Nasdaq’s market surveillance tech, is planning to launch its spot cryptocurrency market in the next months, with a derivatives exchange application currently pending approval with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Until recently, Nasdaq’s primary interest in this area has been in blockchain. In September 2015, it joined a USD 30 million investment round in Chain, a blockchain startup that then partnered Nasdaq to launch Linq, a private equity platform.

Nasdaq’s team of specialists monitor all exchanges wishing to use the surveillance technology for both technical capability and ethics. To date, seven crypto exchanges have satisfied its stringent guidelines, although only the connection with Gemini and SBI Virtual Currency has been made public so far.

The exchange also made clear its Bitcoin futures program at the end of last year as coming online in 2019 when vice president of Nasdaq’s media team Joseph Christinat said:

“Bitcoin Futures will be listed and it should launch in the first half of next year – we’re just waiting for the go-ahead from the CFTC but there’s been enough work put into this to make that academic.”

On the current surveillance technology, Bcause CEO Fred Grede said that the Nasdaq-powered tech would help Bcause monitor its markets for “manipulative activities, among other misconduct, thereby creating a safer spot and derivatives market for all participants.” The company’s planned crypto ecosystem will include features such as mining facilities, a spot market, a regulated derivatives exchange, and a regulated clearinghouse.

 

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International Women’s Day: Women and Crypto – The Direction in 2019

International Women's Day: Women and Crypto – The Direction in 2019

It is International Women’s Day 2019, and a time for Bitcoin News to reflect on a year in print and celebrate women in fintech, and those women of all ages whose lives still remain largely uncelebrated.

The point of International Women’s Day is to look back over the past year and pinpoint the successes and failures in the promotion of equality between the genders. It is also a time to reflect on how to further combat sexual violence, harassment, domestic violence against women, and examine gender power structures, particularly in business.

A new UK government report has revealed that salary imbalance between the genders when it comes to business is still slow to change. Although one in three entrepreneurs are women in the UK — a hugely improved figure — many of the companies run by women are also half the size of those with male directorship. The report goes on to indicate that accelerating female recruitment into business over the next year could add an extra USD 25 billion to the UK economy alone.

One such entrepreneur is Queenslander Leanne Kemp who was named by the World Economic Forum as one of the most promising tech pioneers of 2018. Kemp’s blockchain startup, Everledger, was founded in April 2015, offering a way of tracking the provenance of diamonds; identifying them, and following their ownership history. She now has 2.2 million diamonds listed on Everledger’s blockchain and has now begun to add art, wine, watches jewelry and even natural resources to the blockchain. She maintained:

“We have a responsibility as next-generation technologists to underpin how this technology will form and inform all of us in our roles as citizens of the planet… There’s an important role to be had in re-innovating existing products in markets to bring transparency and provenance and then also the tracking of their second lives.”

Another Australian, Katrina Donaghy, co-founder of startup Civic Ledger, took her talents to London in 2014 to explore how she could integrate Bitcoin and blockchain into business. She told the Australian Financial Review that on arrival she was surprised to see the degree to which these technologies were already being utilized by London’s large financial institutions.

“If you just look at the companies that have done ICOs, there are very few women, but if you look at the ones that have been built based on customer validation and actually have sales, well most of the good blockchain companies that are still around were co-founded by women in the early days.”

In the US in 2018 ConsenSys teamed up with Black Girls Code, a non-profit organization providing tech training to young black women between the ages of 7 and 17. This established the first blockchain training program of its kind in the US which has plans to branch into US states and beyond. The program will eventually be available in Oakland, California, Atlanta, Georgia and in New York City, with plans to run in Johannesburg, South Africa. Black Girls Code CEO Kimberly Bryant commented:

“The ConsenSys team has consistently impressed me with their commitment to creating pathways for access and inclusion within the blockchain ecosystem and their passion for introducing these tools to the next generation of coders.”

The organization wishes to train a million girls by the year 2040, becoming a high-tech version of the Girl Guides. One aim is to ensure that minority groups in fintech have a space to grow and flourish encouraging innovative outside investments into such groups.

Amber Baldet is a household name in fintech, co-founder of Clovyr, well known for her work at JPMorgan as a leader of blockchain products, and developed the Ethereum based Quorum software designed to accelerate financial databases. Baldet left Wall Street to develop her own software by founding Clovyr and get startups on the road to using blockchain technology more effectively. She says:

“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people who see things very differently… Being able to transition back and forth, I can help people understand each other and build stronger products together.”

Of gender diversity in the tech world she suggests, “People have tried to call out crypto as being better or worse…Diversity is a challenge across all tech subcultures.”

In the UK last year, the number of women showing an interest in investing in cryptocurrencies leaped from 6% to 13% over a six-month period. A City Am conducted by cryptocurrency firm London Block Exchange, showed that cryptocurrency was most popular with women in the millennials group. Another survey conducted by Reddit at the end of 2017 indicated that one out of five women had considered investing in cryptocurrencies with a huge 96% of Ether users being males.

What then of the uncelebrated names of the past year? Since last year, the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, bypassing bureaucracy and getting aid to where it’s needed. The new project initiated by the WFP and UN Women was announced supporting the UN Women’s “cash for work” program running at both camps.

The cash for work program was organized by Syrian refugees to support local communities, offering them the opportunity to put something back into their new homeland. Typically, paid tasks included collecting waste, assisting with projects building homes, roads, and local schools, and in some cases working in education and the health industry as assistants. In areas which have seen destruction due to conflict and have since been liberated, refugees also participated with repairing heavily shelled infrastructure.

Cash transfers as part of that scheme enabled women assisting in the UN Women cash program to access their funds directly without a third party with accounts securely stored on a blockchain network. Women were thus enabled to pay for goods at participating supermarkets in Jordan by using one of a network of eye-scanners at their local supermarket, linking their cash to the Building Blocks program which was introduced for refugees at the Azraq camp in 2017.

UN Women continued its program to increase financial literacy rates among women by offering seminars at their “Oases”, encouraging recipients to examine their Building Blocks accounts online. Oases are safe spaces for women and children to congregate in the camps, where they can meet others and learn. They are usually funded through overseas aid and the host nation. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka explained the thinking behind its plans for women refugees in Jordan:

“We know that women in crisis situations and displacement settings tend to have lower digital literacy than men, and often lack access to the technology and connectivity that are so critical in today’s world.”

Ngcuka adds that such projects are designed to accelerate, as she put it, “progress towards women’s economic empowerment on a large scale”.

Humanitarian organizations have pointed out that women are disproportionately affected by such crises and consequently are often forced to become the primary breadwinners while taking care of their children and families as an extra burden.

Robert Opp, Director of Innovation at WFP, points out that it is a desire for “social good” which is driving the current use of blockchain technology by the organization:

“Blockchain technology allows us to step up the fight against hunger. Through blockchain, we aim to cut payment costs, better protect beneficiary data, control financial risks, and respond more rapidly in the wake of emergencies… using blockchain can be a qualitative leap, not only for WFP, but for the entire humanitarian community.”

 

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Symbiont, Nasdaq Partnership Builds New Bridge to Crypto

Symbiont, Nasdaq Partnership Builds New Bridge to Crypto

As Nasdaq continues to explore new business opportunities, with clients now looking for smart contract and tokenization solutions, the Wall Street exchange has found a new partner in blockchain firm Symbiont, giving the lead to further speculation that full-fledged crypto adoption is around the corner.

With Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman now describing cryptocurrency as “the global currency of the future” prior to the Davos World Economic Forum and putting globalization under the microscope, the chance of the exchange launching into trading tokenized securities seems that little bit closer. From Symbiont’s perspective, its Assembly enterprise blockchain and smart contract platform will provide “…the opportunity for new participants to enter the digital asset market and offers existing participants a superior infrastructure on which to build the future of financial markets”.

Symbiont co-founder and CEO Mark Smith sees a “huge opportunity to be able to go all over the globe with Nasdaq”. Gary Offner, Head of Nasdaq Ventures, is equally upbeat, claiming that the company’s investments could “help build our future market infrastructure used by more than 100 marketplaces around the world”. En route to Davos, Friedman confirmed cryptocurrency’s future role, arguing that digital currency was “a tremendous demonstration of genius and creativity” and that it was deserving of “an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy”.

Nasdaq has shown through its cooperation with VanEck to bring Bitcoin-based futures to the market early this year that it has serious intent to back up the company CEO’s words with intent.

 

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Wall Street, Institutional Investors Prime for Next Crypto Bull Run

Wall Street, Institutional Investors Prime for Next Crypto Bull Run

Analysts are looking ahead to the potential for a sustained bull run on cryptocurrency markets in 2019, and many are expressing an expectation this will be the signal for Wall Street and institutions to up investment.

Many see large-scale investment being re-examined in 2019 after being scared off by Bitcoin’s December dip. Wall Street notably stood back prior to the end of the year with Goldman Sachs’ much-publicized plans to open a crypto trading desk called “top-of-the-market-hype thinking” by one New York executive.

Travis Scher of New York’s venture capital firm Digital Currency Group sees a change in indirection from Wall Street and large investment as imminent suggesting that Wall St has lagged behind. He has been watching the industry, choosing to remain on the fringes waiting for signs of an upturn before making a move.

Canadian entrepreneur and activist Jeff Berwick (aka Dollar Vigilante) sees 2019 as the year that cryptocurrency prices will take off once institutions finally make their move. He suggests that trillions of dollars are waiting to be invested in the cryptocurrency market.

Despite Bakkt’s delay, the recent seed funding of over USD 182 million goes on to show that a lot of institution key players are supportive of a successful launch of the platform, after particularly after the New York-based platform acquired “certain assets” and employees of Rosenthal Collins Group (RCG) to expand the company.

With Nasdaq also waiting in the wings and the potential for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and ETFs predicted to push blockchain adoption and kickstart a crypto bull run, 2019 already offers high expectations for both analysts and investors.

 

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Wall Street Observes Bullish Trend in OTC Crypto Trading

Wall St Observes Bullish Trend in OTC Crypto Trading in New Year Copy

With Wall Street pretty much sitting on the fence last year and major players pulling back from the brink when it comes to cryptocurrency, reports from New York’s banking hub seem to indicate that the crypto trade is gaining fresh impetus.

Many see large-scale investment being re-examined in 2019 after being scared off by Bitcoin’s December dip. Wall Street notably stood back prior to the end of the year with Goldman Sachs’ much-publicized plans to open a crypto trading desk called “top-of-the-market-hype thinking” by one New York executive.

Nasdaq is already supporting crypto exchanges and the company is certainly not new to cryptocurrency’s underlying technology, blockchain. Apart from its long-term relationship with blockchain startup, Chain, it has recently announced a collaboration with cryptocurrency exchange Gemini.

It appears that selling on over the counter (OTC) desks is now turning to buying, as crypto OTC firm Cumberland pointed out, with the crypto buyers and sellers dynamic shifting towards far more bullish territory this year to date.

Desk Update: Historically, our OTC trading is relatively balanced between buyers and sellers. Over the last week, our OTC buy/sell ratio (by notional value) has increased approximately 60% towards counterparties buying.

— Cumberland (@CumberlandSays) January 8, 2019

Michael Moro, the CEO of Genesis Trading, sees the same reaction by buyers to the new year following last year’s rush to sell off crypto assets for tax purposes agreeing:

“I’ll echo Cumberland’s sentiments. Year-end saw quite a bit of selling for numerous reasons (e.g., tax loss selling and liquidation of crypto donations). As the year turned, the selling pressure from such activities has subsided, and we have seen more buy-side interest pick up.”

Monica Summerville, Tabb Group’s director of fintech, claims that major crypto exchanges have less trade that the OTC market which she says is over three times more active, arguing that “the big deals go to OTC”.

 

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Goldman Sachs Faces Criminal Charges in Malaysia, Calls for Blockchain Transparency

1MDB

Criminal charges were filed this week against leading investment bank Goldman Sachs by Malaysia’s Attorney General as part of ongoing investigations into Malaysia’s highly-controversial USD 2.7 billion 1MDB development fund scandal.

The charges were filed under Malaysia’s security laws against the NY banking giant and its former bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, former 1MDB employee Jasmine Loo and financier Jho Low in connection with the bond offerings.

The Wall Street Journal cites that a statement confirmed that the bank omitted material information and published untrue statements with the prosecution claiming that out of USD 6.5 billion worth of bonds arranged by Goldman Sachs, USD 2.7 billion were embezzled, creating a USD 600 million profit for Sachs. Malaysia’s Attorney General Tommy Thomas stated:

“The charges arise from the commission and abetment of false or misleading statements by all the accused in order to dishonestly misappropriate USD 2.7 billion from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs.”

A Sachs spokesman responded that the charges were misdirected and the bank would cooperate with the investigation. If convicted those involved could face up to ten years imprisonment under Malaysian law and face fines well in excess of the allegedly misappropriated funds.

Speaking of the bank’s credibility following the accusations, Attorney General Thomas said that, “Having held themselves out as the pre-eminent global adviser/arranger for bonds, the highest standards are expected of Goldman Sachs. They have fallen short of any standard.”

In a statement quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs said:

“At a time when some are calling for aggressive regulation of cryptocurrencies, this case illustrates the potential that exists for blockchain technology and cryptocurrency systems to create a positive disruption within the existing banking paradigm which permits or even encourages theft and inefficiency through opaque processes and practices.”

These unexpected views from the bank although numerous reports this year have suggested that Goldman Sachs is considering offering crypto custodial services for clients. The bank has hinted recently that they would be expanding on its crypto trading desk to develop a bitcoin derivative known as a “non-deliverable forward” due to demand from clients. The Sachs statement quoted by the Wall St Journal continued:

“The complete transparency offered by cryptocurrencies makes it very unlikely that a single sticky-fingered public official would realistically get away with diverting the better part of a billion dollars, aided and abetted by private bankers whose only real interest is in their fees – USD 600 million in this case.”

 

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“Institutional Investment Class” Morgan Stanley’s New Catchall for Crypto

A new report published by American multinational investment bank Morgan Stanley has redefined cryptocurrency as an “institutional investment class”.

The report was initiated after research revealed that current trading trends are flowing towards institutional investors who are increasingly wanting to invest in cryptocurrencies, so much so that Morgan Stanley have had its eyes firmly set on institutional investor potential for some months.

This led to rumors recently that the bank was intending following in the footsteps of some other Wall Street financial institutions offering crypto-related services by dealing in contracts that gave investors “synthetic exposure to the performance of Bitcoin”.

Still unconfirmed but if the rumors turn out to have substance, then investors will be given the option to go long or short using what is described as a “price return swap”, with Morgan Stanley adding its own charge to each transaction that it facilitates, according to a source close to the investment bank.

It is of little surprise then, that the New York financial giant has chosen this time to re-examine the way it looks at cryptocurrency. The new report, titled ‘Bitcoin Decrypted: A Brief Teach-In and Implications’, updated the classification of digital assets based on statistics from the last six months.

The report also examines problems reported by customers in relation to crypto as an investment class, such as regulatory uncertainty and a lack of regulations. These are areas that Morgan Stanley would like to address if it is seriously deciding on targeting institutional cryptocurrency investors, with a view to offering clients the chance to trade in Bitcoin derivative, as it has hinted in the past.

On a positive note for the bank, if this is to be their direction moving forward, is the reports mention of Fidelity’s new crypto services division, Coinbase’s fundraising round and positive regulatory developments. The report also notes that institutional investor confidence is rising at the expense of retail investment which has all but come to a standstill. The report states that institutional investors have gained “full confidence” in the market over the past six months.

 

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Bitcoin Influencers’ Payment Ideas Get Twitter Buzzing

Bitcoin influencers Jimmy Song and Tony Vays opened up a can of worms recently when chatting on Twitter about Bitcoin payment methods, provoking an all-in scenario for followers.

Jimmy Song, an instructor at Programming Blockchain LLC and Bitcoin educator/developer was sharing his opinion about using Bitcoin as a payment method with Bitcoin and Blockchain Researcher Tone Vays, on Twitter. The argument was posed by Song that one could spend money using a credit card whilst staying in credit and then pay the monthly bill with Bitcoin. His tweet suggested:

“If you want to use Bitcoin as a method of payment, this strategy is more rational and convenient than doing lots of on-chain tx’s:

  1. Spend with your credit card with no debt on it.
  2. When your credit card bill comes, sell just enough bitcoin to pay the bill.”

This provoked the response by Jackson Palmer, Founder of Dogecoin, who joined the thread to tweet that there was a missing third step to the Song scenario to avoid incurring credit card debt. He suggested that one could calculate the capital gain/loss tax on the sale of Bitcoin to USD to pay off the credit card.

Bitcoin Cash follower, Elliot, suggested, “That’s right folks. BTC supporters tell you to sell your Bitcoin back to fiat. BCH supporters say you must use bitcoin as CASH. It is peer to peer electronic cash. 1 bit @tipprbot” to which blockchain enthusiast Jan Klosowski responded.

“People will use Bitcoin because it’s profitable. Not for ideological reasons.”

Tone Vays worked on Wall Street for almost 10 years starting as a Risk Analyst at Bear Stearns and later becoming a VP at JP Morgan Chase in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. His feeling was that Song’s idea was feasible from a consumer standpoint and suggested that in 2014 he had spoken about how misusing Bitcoin could affect the entire ecosystem quite negatively.

When asked why Vays, a prolific trader as well as an educator, diversified his trading to incorporate traditional markets, he responded:

“Because all of my videos are on my love of Bitcoin, my explanations of blockchain, and covering blockchain news. I do all of this because you can’t monetize that content. So, coming to conferences and speaking is so that I can spread the knowledge of Bitcoin, but I make money from what I do best, which is trading.”

He suggested that traditional markets offered a better return on his investments.

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Nasdaq to Trial Prediction Tool for 500 Cryptocurrencies

Nasdaq, second-largest exchange in the world by market capitalization, is planning to add a tool to the exchange which will aid investors to predict crypto price movement, according to unconfirmed reports.

A person familiar with the company’s plans has indicated that it will shortly be adding crypto assets to its new Analysist Hub. The Hub, launched in 2017, computes traditional asset market fluctuations drawing on social media and other sources.

Wall Street has shown interest in the cryptosphere over past months, with major banks making statements of intent, although Brian Kelly’s prediction that the addition of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Goldman Sachs to the crypto status quo would cause the market to surge, has yet to happen.

Bill Dague, Nasdaq’s head of alternative data, is guarded in his response to the suggestion that the exchange giant is about to take the same steps as some of Wall’s Streets other major financial institutions, and commented, “…given the abundance of interest, we are exploring cryptocurrency related datasets… Whether or not we launch a crypto-related product remains to be seen.”

On the other hand, Nasdaq’s source had a less guarded response, suggesting that the service would provide information on the movement of 500 crypto datasets using resources such as Twitter, and possibly StockTwits and Reddit.

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman had hinted earlier this year that Nasdaq had been looking into crypto-related products when she remarked:

“Certainly, Nasdaq would consider becoming a crypto exchange over time… I believe that digital currencies will continue to persist it’s just a matter of how long it will take for that space to mature.”

An article published in May on the Nasdaq website even cited three coins that the exchange felt might be able to withstand future market turmoil if it transpired: Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and Stellar (XLM).

Nasdaq will need to move fast with its any crypto additions to its Analyst Hub, as news services Reuters and Bloomberg are already lining up with similar plans to launch a crypto analytic tool.

 

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Prominent CEOs Upbeat on Bitcoin with 10K November Prediction

Some prominent CEOs have been speaking out on where they see the cryptocurrency market heading as it moves beyond 2018 into the future and the synopsis is upbeat.

With co-founder of BTCC Bobby Lee predicting that when Bitcoin passes the USD 60,000 price level in the coming years, it’ll reach a total circulation value of USD 1 trillion, what then is the short-term synopsis for the digital currency?

With 3,650 Bitcoin ATMs in the world and approximately four new Bitcoin ATMs being installed each day, some in the most unexpected of places, the market for Bitcoin certainly isn’t going away anytime soon, and popularity on the street is clearly on the up, with experts expecting the ATM market will achieve a USD 145 million value by 2023.

Herman Finnbjornsson, founder of Svandis, is certain that Bitcoin is going nowhere if not onwards to success, suggesting that “[There’s] Less than a 1% chance in my mind that Bitcoin won’t succeed. I think that there are a lot of reasons to be bullish on Bitcoin. Banks are getting into Bitcoin.”

Banks around the world are becoming involved in Bitcoin with particular interest on Wall Street as ETFs are expected to gain approval by the SEC next year, along with industry expectations these will lift the market and attract institutional investors.

Russell Korus, the CEO of EZ Exchange, sees Bitcoin succeeding for a number of reasons, suggesting that its failproof, decentralized, and autonomous qualities simply can’t be overlooked. He suggests that Bitcoin will lead what he calls “a brand new paradigm” where value can be exchanged without the need for an intermediary creating “far-reaching and society-shifting repercussions”, within the industry as the move towards decentralization now, eventually becomes the norm.

Finnbjornsson sees this year as the springboard to his success scenario suggesting that Bitcoin could easily pass the USD 10,000 price level by the first week of November. Brian Kelly’s biggest news of the year, the much talked about platform backed by Microsoft and Starbucks, will see Bitcoins sales volume support that figure as investors rush to get in early.

 

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