Category Archives: Bakkt

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Bakkt CEO Appointed US Senator

  • Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler was officially appointed this morning to fill a vacant United States Senate seat for the state of Georgia
  • She will serve at least until 20 January 2021 and could even run for office in November elections to remain in Congress

The Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has officially appointed Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler to fill a vacant United States Senate seat. Essentially, Senator Johny Isakson is stepping down due to health issues on the last day of 2019, so Loeffler will become Senator on New Years Day and continue to be in office until the new Congress is inaugurated on 20 January 2021. That being said, Loeffler could technically run for office in the November elections and stay in Congress long term.

One thing that is unclear at this time is if Loeffler will remain the CEO of Bakkt during her Senate term, or if she will step down. Loeffler has indicated that she has been trying to become a politician in Washington DC for her entire life, so it seems more likely than not that she will step down from Bakkt to focus on her political career.

That being said, Loeffler would still likely have strong ties to Bakkt even if she steps down, and more importantly, Loeffler is a well-known cryptocurrency advocate, having helped launch the first physical Bitcoin futures in the United States. Therefore, the crypto space now has an advocate who is a United States Senator, and this could perhaps improve the regulatory situation for the crypto space during 2020.

 

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Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler Will Likely Become the Senator of Georgia This Week

  • Bitcoin advocate and CEO of Bakkt, Kelly Loeffler will likely become the Senator of Georgia early this week

According to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), the CEO of Bakkt, Kelly Loeffler, will likely be appointed as the Senator of Georgia early next week. This appointment is happening due to Senator Johny Isakson stepping down, and if Loeffler is appointed she will serve as Senator until the general elections in November 2020.

The only caveat is that the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, is in charge of the appointment process, and a last-minute change of heart is perhaps possible especially since President Trump has been urging the Governor to appoint Doug Collins.

Bakkt is the first venue to offer physical Bitcoin Futures, meaning Bitcoin contracts are settled daily for actual bitcoins, and trading volume on Bakkt has been rapidly growing. If Loeffler is appointed, it will be the first time that anyone who is running a crypto company has been appointed to any position in the United States Congress.

Aside from being the CEO of Bakkt, Loeffler is well-known as a crypto and blockchain advocate, and it seems quite possible that she will advocate for crypto right on the Senate floor.

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Bakkt Physical Bitcoin Futures Volumes Rapidly Increasing

  • Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures trading volumes set a new daily record of USD 37.45 million this week

Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures launched on 23 September and started off with low volume, but two months later the market is coming to life, with a new record daily volume of USD 37.45 million.

A chart of Bakkt’s daily volume history shows that during the first month the volume never exceeded USD 2 million on any given day. Then on 23 October, volume neared USD 5 million, and just two days later, volume exceeded USD 10 million. These volume spikes in late October seemed to have jumpstarted Bakkt, and throughout the month of November volume has been steadily rising with numerous days in excess of USD 10 million. And now, this new record of USD 37.45 million was marked on 27 November.

There is a saying that liquidity begets liquidity, meaning that as soon as a market begins to have some trading volume and liquidity, it attracts other traders, and then the liquidity and volume increase even more. Indeed, an exchange with higher liquidity and volume can handle traders that need to move larger amounts of money.

Bakkt is the first physical Bitcoin futures exchange, meaning contracts are settled for actual Bitcoins on a daily basis. It has been speculated that Bakkt would help increase Bitcoin’s price via increasing demand, and it will be interesting to watch if that begins to happen as trading volumes continue to grow.

 

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Bakkt Plans Cash-Backed Bitcoin Futures Based in Singapore

Bakkt is now planning on launching cash-backed Bitcoin futures that will be based out of Singapore. However, these cash-backed Bitcoin futures will be available to traders worldwide including the United States.

Apparently, there is strong customer demand among the Bakkt user base for cash-backed Bitcoin futures, meaning that the futures contracts settle for cash and involve no actual Bitcoin. It is based on this customer demand that Bakkt has decided to launch its latest product.

Bakkt, a subsidiary of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which is the parent company of some of the biggest stock and futures exchanges in the world, recently launched physical Bitcoin futures in the United States. Physical Bitcoin futures means that the futures contracts settle for actual Bitcoins, and therefore physical Bitcoin futures can have an impact on the spot Bitcoin market. Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures are the first of its kind.

Notably, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) already offers cash-backed Bitcoin futures and has become extremely popular, with volumes approaching the level of top spot cryptocurrency exchanges. When Bakkt eventually launches cash-backed futures, which may happen before the end of this year, CME will finally have some competition in the cash-backed Bitcoin futures sector.

 

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Bakkt Physical Bitcoin Futures Finally Launches

After an entire year of regulatory delays and missed deadlines, the Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures have finally launched. Apparently Bakkt is already open for both institutional and retail traders.

Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures have been highly anticipated ever since being announced over a year ago. These are the first physical Bitcoin futures, meaning contracts are settled for actual Bitcoins, as opposed to the Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) which are settled for cash. Also, Bakkt has been built by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which is the parent company of the biggest stock exchange in the world, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

There was speculation that Bakkt could lead to a major Bitcoin rally, since the physical nature of the futures could increase Bitcoin demand. So far Bitcoin has dropped from $10,000 to $9,700 in the 24 hours since Bakkt has launched. That being said, volume is low on Bakkt since it is only the first day, and perhaps the true effect of Bakkt on the Bitcoin market remains to be seen.

 

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How CME, NASDAQ, and Bakkt Bitcoin Futures Impact the Bitcoin Market

What Are Bitcoin Futures And How Do They Impact The Bitcoin Market?

A futures market offers traders the ability to bet on whether the price of an asset, such as precious metals, commodities, or stocks, will go up or down in the future. Specifically, a futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell an asset for a predetermined price at a precise time in the future.  If the price of the asset goes up during the lifespan of a futures contract then the trader makes a profit. This is because the trader gets to buy the asset at a lower price than the asset’s true value when the futures contract expires. 

Also, futures markets can be used for hedging risk. For example, if a business uses gasoline to power its fleet of trucks, and a price rise is expected, then that business can buy a gasoline futures contract. Rising gas prices make it more expensive to operate the fleet of trucks, but this expense is negated by profits earned from the futures contract. Thus, trading futures contracts can lessen the blow of adverse price movements when operating a business. 

CME and CBOE Cash-Backed Bitcoin Futures Have Hurt the Bitcoin Market

The first official Bitcoin futures market in the United States launched in early December 2017 on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launched the 2nd Bitcoin futures market shortly afterward on 17 December. The CBOE Bitcoin futures market has actually closed down due to lack of trading activity, likely due to the CME Bitcoin futures becoming extremely popular and overshadowing CBOE. For example, when CBOE announced the closure of their Bitcoin futures in March 2019, CME was seeing USD 90 million of trading volume per day with CBOE only having USD 8 million of volume. In May, CME saw daily Bitcoin futures trading volume in excess of USD 500 million. 

CME Bitcoin futures is one of the top choices for institutional traders that want to buy and sell Bitcoin. This is because CME Bitcoin futures are officially regulated, can handle high volumes, and there’s no risk of Bitcoin being stolen because the futures are backed by cash, with no actual bitcoins involved. 

Therefore, CME Bitcoin futures provide a conduit for institutional investors with deep pockets to get involved in the cryptocurrency market. However, institutional demand flowing into the CME Bitcoin futures market does not increase demand in the Bitcoin spot markets, since CME Bitcoin futures do not use actual bitcoins. Instead, the CME Bitcoin futures are actually diverting demand away from the Bitcoin spot market, as well as inflating the Bitcoin supply since the futures contracts are essentially equivalent to paper bitcoins. 

Although the diversion of demand away from spot markets and the printing of paper bitcoins already theoretically cause Bitcoin’s price to be lower than it would be if the CME Bitcoin futures did not exist, the worst thing is that CME introduces massive short-selling pressure into the Bitcoin market. The Federal Reserve posted a statement indicating that the 2018 bear market was likely initiated by the launch of the CME Bitcoin futures, and it is apparently quite common for an asset to crash in price when a futures market is launched for the first time. Indeed, the day of the CME Bitcoin futures launch, 17 December 2017, was the same day that Bitcoin hit its all-time high and began to crash.

The reason it is possible to short on a futures market is that traders can buy Bitcoin futures contracts with funds from a margin loan, and then sell the Bitcoin futures contracts immediately. If Bitcoin’s price declines during the contract period, then the traders can buy back the Bitcoin futures contract at a lower price when the contract expires, leaving behind a tidy profit in their account. 

Essentially, it was just about impossible for institutional investors to short Bitcoin before the CME and CBOE Bitcoin futures launched, and institutional investors generally only had the option to buy and sell spot Bitcoin. The CME and CBOE Bitcoin futures gave institutional investors the capability to truly short Bitcoin for the first time.

Aside from helping to precipitate the 2018 bear market, the CME Bitcoin futures influence the Bitcoin market on a month to month basis. An analysis shows that the price of Bitcoin often pivots, i.e. reverses its trend, when the monthly CME Bitcoin futures expiration occurs. This may represent CME Bitcoin futures traders collectively deciding to go short or long at the beginning of a new monthly contract period. 

For example, in late June 2019, as Bitcoin recorded a new 2019 high of USD 13,800, CME Bitcoin futures traders began to collectively open short positions for July. Interestingly, institutional traders were mostly going short, while small traders were going long and expecting the Bitcoin rally to continue. Ultimately the institutional traders on CME ended up being correct, with Bitcoin declining as low as USD 9,000 during July. 

Therefore, it is important for Bitcoin traders to be aware of CME Bitcoin futures expiration dates since it might herald a change in the market trend. 

Bakkt Physical Bitcoin Futures, Will They Ever Launch?

While CME Bitcoin futures are cash-backed and seem to have an overall negative influence on the Bitcoin market, it is possible that one day physical Bitcoin futures will launch on Bakkt. Physical Bitcoin futures would provide a safe and efficient conduit for institutional traders to get involved in the Bitcoin market, while simultaneously increasing spot Bitcoin demand since for each futures contract purchased on Bakkt there are actual bitcoins backing it.  

The launch of Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures has been delayed several times since 2018 due to regulatory concerns. Specifically, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has delayed Bakkt because it wants to custody the Bitcoin on behalf of its customers, while generally, futures markets in the United States use a 3rd party qualified custodian. 

As of late July, Bakkt has begun testing their physical Bitcoin futures, but there is no official launch date, which is unfortunate considering that the Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures would likely have a positive impact on the market. 

NASDAQ Bitcoin Futures, More of the Same?

In 2018 NASDAQ, which is one of the biggest stock exchanges in the United States, announced that they would launch Bitcoin futures in the first half of 2019. Just like with Bakkt, NASDAQ seems to have missed its target launch date due to CFTC regulatory concerns. 

BREAKING: BTC is now being traded on the Nasdaq! I bought one BTC through my TDAmeritrade account! According to the chart it started trading April 10, 2019!! Other digital assets are soon to follow!! 🚀🚀🚀pic.twitter.com/1VgE1Whoa4

— Cryptopolis (@cryptopolis_x) April 22, 2019

In April there was speculation that NASDAQ had begun testing a Bitcoin-based product under the symbol CXERX. It is unknown if this was the Bitcoin futures product or something else since NASDAQ did not disclose any details about it. 

As of now there is no publicly disclosed launch date for NASDAQ Bitcoin futures. More importantly, it seems that the NASDAQ Bitcoin futures will be backed by cash like CME. Although NASDAQ Bitcoin futures would provide a conduit for institutional traders to enter the Bitcoin market, this could end up adding to the negative effects of the CME Bitcoin futures. 

In summary, Bitcoin futures like those on CME offer institutional investors an easy way to enter the Bitcoin market, which has caused the CME Bitcoin futures to become quite popular. NASDAQ wants to get in on the action and launch their own Bitcoin futures markets. Unfortunately, it seems the cash-backed nature of CME Bitcoin futures has damaged the Bitcoin market via diverting demand away from the spot market, introducing massive short selling pressure, and printing paper bitcoins. If NASDAQ Bitcoin futures do eventually launch it could be more of the same. It seems the greatest hope for the Bitcoin market is Bakkt physical Bitcoin futures since they would provide a conduit for institutional investors to increase spot market demand. Unfortunately, regulators are making it difficult for Bakkt’s physical Bitcoin futures, and there is no sign that they will launch anytime soon. Perhaps Bakkt will eventually launch and help negate some of the damage caused by the CME Bitcoin futures. 


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Bakkt Sets Date for Bitcoin Futures Trial

Bakkt Sets Date for Bitcoin Futures Trial

Crypto trading for institutional clients platform Bakkt has announced that it will begin the trials of its much-awaited and much-vaunted Bitcoin futures product. The first testing of physically-delivered Bitcoin futures will commence on 22 July.

The latest announcement from Bakkt comes on the back of many delays to date, stretching back to the second half of last year when it first promised to launch by the end of 2018. This latest news will be seen by many as them biding time, as the true delay lies with issues of compliance with regulatory laws. It also appears that there is little new information since its last announcement in May.

The latest announcement makes a subtle reference to a monumental moment, underlining the belief held by many that once these Bitcoin futures are approved, institutional money pouring into Bitcoin would be a giant step for the market. COO Adam White remarked:

“On July 22, two days after Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, Bakkt will initiate user acceptance testing for its bitcoin futures listed and traded at ICE Futures U.S. and cleared at ICE Clear US… This is no small step. This launch will usher in a new standard for accessing crypto markets. Compared to other markets, institutional participation in crypto remains constrained due to limitations like market infrastructure and regulatory certainty.”

There is likely to be a void to fill as well once Cboe, the first-ever firm to provide Bitcoin futures, shuts down operations after its final contracts settle later in June. Although CME Group is already benefiting from the demise of its competitor, Bakkt will be more attractive since its contracts will be settled with physical Bitcoin instead of cash.

 

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CBOE Futures Closure Unlikely to Impact Bitcoin

bitcoin, CBOE, futures

In about a week’s time, Bitcoin futures at CBOE will cease operations after almost a year and a half. After its last futures contract expires on 16 June 2019, it will close indefinitely.

CBOE spokeswoman Suzanne Cosgrove explained to Bloomberg that there were no plans at all by the company to introduce any new crypto trading products, after confirming its decision to close, announced earlier in March. She said:

“[CBOE] is assessing its approach with respect to how it plans to continue to offer digital asset derivatives for trading, but we have nothing new to announce at this time.”

Although Bitcoin futures markets have had some sway over the price of Bitcoin ever since their introduction —  it is sometimes credited for helping bring on the bull market in 2017 — analysts do not believe that this closure will have any impact on the price movements this time around. This will all be thanks to the success of CBOE’s rival in Bitcoin futures, CME Group.

Just last month, CME Group recorded its highest ever volume for Bitcoin contracts: 33,700 individual contracts worth over USD 1 billion on a single day on 13 May 2019.

Markets analyst Alex Krüger also said that Bitcoin was CME’s second highest traded asset in May and that demand was not diminishing from institutions and accredited investors:

“Bitcoin is the second most heavily traded asset at the CME when measured by the volume / open interest ratio. In other words, bitcoin is an asset very actively traded throughout the day… Volume is the number of contracts traded in a day, while open interest is the number of outstanding contracts held (unsettled) at the end of the day. A high ratio points towards market participants actively trading intraday for whatever reason (hft, arbitrage, etc).”

And with Fidelity and Bakkt also scheduled to come later this year, it doesn’t seem like the bulls will stop their pace.

 

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Grayscale CEO: Bitcoin’s Price Uptrend Likely Due to US-China Trade War

Grayscale CEO_ Bitcoin’s Price Uptrend Likely Due to US-China Trade War

In the past few months – for the most part of 2019, Bitcoin has been bucking the trend, attracting onlookers from the traditional investment circles, and while the reason behind the sudden increase in Bitcoin’s price may have been unclear, critics have engaged numerous sound reasoning wavering from strong fundamentals to typical bullish technical trends sponsored by whales.

In an interview with Forbes, owner of Digital Currency Group Barry Silbert noted how Bitcoin’s sudden uptrend began just as the trade discussions between the US and China broke down:

“It’s certainly interesting that the [Bitcoin] price started its acceleration, moving up and to the right, when the trade discussions broke down.”

He explained Bitcoin as a non-correlated asset and which has performed better than historical stores of value investments like gold, citing other events such as Brexit and Grexit and how Bitcoin price was up at both instances.

According to the Bitcoin bull, whose investment firm has a share in over 145 crypto-related ventures, and has its Grayscale Investments arm holding over USD 2 billion AUM, its 2019 Q1 reports suggested a heavy influx of institutional investors into the Bitcoin portfolio and significant interest from hedge funds.

Silbert has always been strongly opinionated about Bitcoin investments as against traditional investment hedge such as gold, and recently started a #DropGold campaign – as a zero-sum game – to intentionally place Bitcoin on the path of investors of all types – specifically targeting older generations. His reasoning is that as Bitcoin becomes more mature and becomes more resilient, there’s a possibility gold is not going to play the role it did for the older generation of investors, and perhaps Bitcoin may play that role at least for the younger generation. He said:

“Bitcoin has real utility. [It’s] creating a new financial system, eliminating middlemen, friction, cost, removing barriers. And if you think about the value it can bring from the remittance perspective –banking the underbanked and unbanked, that is [the] real true utility. Bitcoin has the potential to create real economic opportunity around the world. [Whereas], gold, the more expensive it gets, the less useful it becomes.”

It appears over the years, Bitcoin has been maturing to become the digital gold of an emerging economy. Silbert explained the trend in Bitcoin’s price history suggesting that its pattern of ups and downs over the past 5, 6, or 7 years with significant drops in the price of up to 60, 70, or 80% while testing new highs – up to 4 record highs – so far, were maturity indicators.

A major indicator is the infrastructural growth of the Bitcoin ecosystem since the last bubble in 2017 and to Silbert it is as clear as night and day. These growths are explained as the on-ramps of institutional grade bitcoin-related services as well as custody providers such as Fidelity and Bakkt, revamps of trading infrastructures, compliance structures, and increased awareness.

According to data from CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin is currently trading at about USD 7,938.01 after recently hitting its year-to-date high of USD 8,320.82 – a figure trending close to its 12-months-high of USD 8,424.27 in July 2018.

 

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Bakkt to Test Bitcoin Futures and Custody in July

Bakkt to Test Bitcoin Futures and Custody in July

Institutional grade cryptocurrency platform Bakkt may have caught a lucky break yet after a slight bump in its initial launch schedule, as it plans to kick off with its user acceptance testing (UAT) for bitcoin futures custody and trading.

CEO of Bakkt Kelly Loeffler issued an update on the launch strategy in a blog post. She noted that collaboration with ICE Futures US and ICE Clear US was in the works to help launch Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures contracts and expressed optimism on the test launch scheduled for July:

“In conjunction with our exchange and clearing partners at ICE, we’ll be working with our customers over the next several weeks to prepare for user acceptance testing (UAT) for futures and custody, which we expect to start in July.”

After a long delay in the launch of the platform, which was essentially due to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) concern over the proposed platform’s custody protocol. However, it appears they are making headways in that direction. Moreover, Loeffler hinted Bitcoin futures will be listed on a federally regulated futures exchange in the coming months. She further remarked:

“We’ve worked closely with the CFTC to develop contracts that both meet our customers’ needs for trading, transparency, and market certainty, and are also compliant with Federal regulations.”

As a matter of update to the Bitcoin futures product, Loeffler clarified certain security and risk management modifications made to the contract which emerged as a result of conversations with stakeholders.

These updates include the formation of two new futures contracts to be listed – a daily and monthly settlement, tools to effectively monitor aberrant prices, a USD 35 million contribution by Bakkt into the clearinghouse, and an integrated custody service subject to regulatory approval.

Although no specific date has been announced, it appears that should the CFTC find no problem with Bakkt’s proposal to self-certify through its parent company, ICE, the outcome would be a major milestone for the project.

In April, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) was reportedly seeking a New York license to facilitate the Bakkt’s launch, considering that the license grants the platform permission from New York’s Department of Financial Services to hold tokens.

 

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