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Tyler Winklevoss Talks Up Bitcoin but Could Libra and Gemini Make a Match?

Munich Researchers Call for Higher Renewables Impact on Bitcoin Mining Copy

Gemini big gun Tyler Winklevoss claims that Bitcoin is fast en route to its next level of USD 15,000 after it hits USD 10,000.

With Bitcoin currently valued at USD 9,713 at time of writing, it looks like the first of these major levels is fast approaching. The other half of the Winklevoss entrepreneurial duo also sees the hallmark digital currency surpassing its all-time high, commenting, “If Bitcoin breaks 10k, you can bet it’s going to break 15k.”

Others agree with the Gemini boss that Bitcoin is still undervalued on the market with Fundstrat Global Advisors senior analyst Tom Lee unsurprisingly bigging up the number one coin, claiming that USD 40,00o by 2020 was not an unrealistic proposition, due to a renewed round of FOMO activity by investors.

Winklevoss didn’t go quite that far but commented, “It’s a cheap asset until it disrupts gold, however, the 2nd time breaking 10k will make it feel more ‘real’ to many people.” He made no mention of the impact that Facebook’s proposed entry to the market may be having on Bitcoin’s current surge, but elsewhere analysts are taking the view that crypto could ride on Facebook’s Libra publicity, at least for a while.

Facebook has been in talks with Winklevoss Twins, according to the Financial Times, which is interesting in itself given that they have been well-known rivals of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and were even involved in a lawsuit against him accusing him of stealing their idea for Facebook itself. Another interesting thought for astronomy lovers if Facebook and Gemini make a match:

“Gemini and Libra are a strange couple, both of them intellectual, floating high above the ground, but different in so many ways. They need to accept each other’s nature completely and be open to each other’s differences if they want to be happy together.”

 

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Big Guns Speak Out in Favor of Bitcoin Investment Now

Big Guns Speak Out in Favor of Bitcoin Investment Now

Big guns in the industry, The Winklevoss Twins and Fundstradt’s Tom Lee have spoken out this week on Bitcoin’s “digital gold” potential, a topic they have all pushed before, and agree that now is the time to not sit on the fence when it comes to investing in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin entrepreneurs and Gemini founders Tyler and Cameron were renowned in sporting circles as a rowing pair who competed for the US in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. To those not familiar with crypto’s big guns, they are perhaps better known for suing Mark Zuckerberg in 2014 for supposedly stealing their Uconnect social networking concept which went on to become Facebook. The case netted them USD 65 million.

Cameron Winklevoss has reiterated his belief that currently, cryptocurrency is creating the foundations of a new financial system by adding some more spice to the argument this week, suggesting that:

 Some people think it’s crazy to invest in crypto. Maybe. But definitely not as crazy as sitting on the sidelines when the future of money is literally being built before your eyes. 

After a disturbing pullback to ~$6,200, #Bitcoin back >$8,000 further cementing positive trend intact.

As we said a few weeks ago, Consensus 2019 @coindesk was to prove whether crypto winter is over…

…confirmed pic.twitter.com/M8ni4g2YvX

— Thomas Lee (@fundstrat) May 19, 2019

Fundstrat Global Advisors’ head analyst, Tom Lee has also added his views speaking on ‘CNBC’s Markets Now’ saying that there is plenty to be optimistic about when it comes to Bitcoin’s current movement. Last month he predicted historic highs by 2020 for Bitcoin. Crypto Winter is officially over, according to Lee’s tweet on the weekend.

However, it should be noted that not all of Lee’s many predictions come good, particularly those made last year claiming that New York’s Consensus would boost the market. Last year’s event wasn’t his finest hour, predicting that it would boost Bitcoin to USD 25K by the end of 2018. In his defense he argued:

Bitcoin doesn’t have to go up every day to move from USD 8,000 to USD 25,000. The ten best days account for all the return of bitcoin in a year. If you didn’t own bitcoin for ten days each year, you lost 25 percent each year.”

 

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Winklevoss: Bystanders Crazier than Bitcoin Investors

Winklevoss: Bystanders Crazier than Bitcoin Investors

One half of the Winklevoss twins and co-founder of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, Cameron Winklevoss, has debated that it would be “definitely crazier” to be a bystander on the sidelines than to be a part of the future of money that Bitcoin and other crypto are building.

Some people think it’s crazy to invest in crypto. Maybe. But definitely not as crazy as sitting on the sidelines when the future of money is literally being built before your eyes.

— Cameron Winklevoss (@winklevoss) May 20, 2019

Not ready to be outdone by his brother Tyler, also a Bitcoin bull active on Twitter who has called Bitcoin “Gold 2.0“, Cameron said:

“Some people think it’s crazy to invest in crypto. Maybe. But definitely not as crazy as sitting on the sidelines when the future of money is literally being built before your eyes.”

There are plenty of detractors, of course, even as Bitcoin surmounts a credible rally towards new highs in 2019, beating all other traditional assets such as gold, oil and the stock markets to be the best performing asset of the year so far. One such person is popular TV personality and wealthy entrepreneur Kevin “Mr Wonderful” O’Leary of Shark Tank fame.

In his recent argument with crypto analyst Anthony Pompliano of Morgan Creek, O’Leary insisted that there was no value in owning Bitcoin as an asset class:

“Tell me why this, which is basically a digital game, has any intrinsic value. And where is the long-term value? Just this idea that they’re going to cut the number of units in half is just a scam. That’s just total BS.”

Long time commentator Tom Lee, as well as others like the Winklevoss brothers, however, are of the opinion that Bitcoin has more than made a case for its title as “digital gold”. The millions of users and thousands of merchants accepting Bitcoin would be keen to agree.

 

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Winklevoss: Bitcoin is Gold 2.0

Winklevoss: Bitcoin is Gold 2.0

Tyler Winklevoss, one half of the famous Winklevoss Twins who manage digital asset platform Gemini, has spoken out about Bitcoin as the new digital gold, calling the world’s foremost cryptocurrency “Gold 2.0”.

Bitcoin is gold 2.0. It matches or beats gold across the board. It’s market cap is ~140bil, gold’s market cap is ~7tril. Do the math!

— Tyler Winklevoss (@tylerwinklevoss) May 16, 2019

According to his argument, Bitcoin’s position in the market today after only 10 years of existence has proven its staying power, and has now in fact displaced the precious metal in several comparisons. This includes a market capitalization of around USD 140 billion, compared to gold’s USD 7 trillion market cap.

Those who believe that Bitcoin is a store of value will probably enjoy the fact that the theory is supported by someone as influential as Winklevoss, although there will be others who say that for Bitcoin to succeed as a digital currency in the way it was originally deemed, its value needs to be more predictable and less volatile.

Senior market analyst at eToro, Mati Greenspan believes that both sides of the equation bear merits, seeing individual strengths for both gold as a traditional store of value in times of crisis and Bitcoin as a digital currency. As he points out, switch the power off and you can’t use Bitcoin:

Yeah. Bitcoin is digital gold and has advantages over regular gold. However, physical gold also has advantages over bitcoin.

It can be used to make jewelry or technology and can be used in the event of a total system meltdown. If the power goes out, you can’t use bitcoin.

— Mati Greenspan (@MatiGreenspan) May 16, 2019

Other industry giants like crypto fund Grayscale, for example, go even more extreme, launching a  #dropgold campaign calling for Bitcoin to replace gold as a store of value in the new global digital economic model.

Whichever the opinion, it is becoming clear that Bitcoin cannot be ignored, whether as a revolutionary new technology, or digital money, or store of value. 

 

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Crypto Companies Should Focus on Insurance for Value in Flight

Crypto Companies Should Focus on Insurance for Value in Flight_ Crypto Companies Should Focus on Insurance for Value in Flight

Cryptocurrency market as an emerging risk market requires insurance on multiple layers, according to a blog post by Coinbase chief information security officer Philip Martin.

As the cryptocurrency industry matures, so does the need for increased financial security. One way to achieve this is through a contingency system like an insurance program. Martin explained Coinbase’s approach in securing the confidence of its customers if exposed to loss due to the hacking of its hot wallet.

“The data is clear that today, the most likely consumer loss scenario for any cryptocurrency company is hot wallet loss due to hacking. We secured our first policy to address that risk at the end of 2013… If the worst happens and Coinbase loses customer funds, customers deserve certainty that they will be made whole.”

Coinbase insurance program covers both fiat deposits and cryptocurrency holdings in hot wallets, with the fiat deposits covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Meanwhile, the cryptocurrencies in the hot wallet are insured by multiple partners. “We currently hold a hot wallet policy with a USD 255 million limit placed by Lloyd’s registered broker Aon and sourced from a global group of US and UK insurance companies, including certain Lloyd’s of London syndicates,” Martin explains.

“Significant programs like ours, especially in emerging areas of risk, are generally put together using a large number of insurance companies who each take positions of loss in a ‘tower’.”

Martin finds misinformation around insurance to be one of the hindrances to adopting insurance. Where companies are rather puzzled by the nature of insurance to adopt, bundled with how much insurance should a crypto company have, and what should it cover? Martin suggested that “companies should focus on insurance for value in flight”, which caters for crime due to hacking, insider theft, and fraudulent transfer of both cryptos and fiat.

Circle and Gemini, as well as most financial companies, use institutions like the FDIC to cover for losses exclusively resulting from insolvency. However, losses due to the hacking of hot wallets are not covered by the institutions due to the nature of cryptocurrency’s unregulated status, hence the need for multiple insurers with sufficient knowledge-base on the risk nature of cryptocurrencies. “[Coinbase has] maintained a commitment to educating and growing the cryptocurrency insurance market,” Martin clarified.

Despite the level of risk in the cryptocurrency industry, and lack of transparency of insurance protocols for most companies, it is clear that insurance companies are indeed warming up to the cryptocurrency markets, though at a very slow pace.

Last year, Bitcoin News reported a new decentralized exchange UnitedCoin’s approach to insurance, where it disclosed a USD 100 million coverage on its hot wallet containing only 2% of the exchange’s funds. Moreover, in South Korea, insurance providers are willing to offer insurance products against hacking to crypto exchanges.

The importance of insurance in the cryptocurrency exchange marketplace cannot be overemphasized, and while many exchange businesses still suffer from the lack thereof, it may, however, soon be a defining factor for customers’ preference in the near future as the industry expands beyond retail cryptocurrency investors and traders. Yusuf Hussain, Gemini’s Head of Risk puts it this way:

“Consumers are looking for the same levels of insured protection they’re used to being afforded by traditional financial institutions.”

 

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Coinbase 48x More Expensive to Use Than Stock Exchange

Coinbase 48x More Expensive to Trade than Traditional Stock Exchange

Self-proclaimed market analyst Alex Krüger has drawn the attention of the crypto community to a rather bizarre comparison between cryptocurrency exchanges and traditional stock markets, claiming “maker fee + taker fee” for crypto exchanges could be far more expensive at higher volume tier trading.

1/ Are crypto exchanges overcharging customers?

The average “Maker Fee + Taker Fee” in crypto SPOT exchanges (excluding Gemini) for the lowest volume tier (where most users fall into) stands at 0.33%. pic.twitter.com/tZOmGSsAzO

— Alex Krüger (@krugermacro) March 28, 2019

Krüger queried the fees levied on crypto traders as he explains in a series of Tweets how legacy financial institutions often have a flat rate cut per trade, while a typical fee cut by cryptocurrency exchanges only remains fair for lowest volume tier, and according to him, this is where most users fall into. He illustrated how brokers like Fidelity charge a flat rate of USD 4.95 flat per trade, putting the sum maker and taker fee at 0.02% for a USD 50,000 trade, and at 0.33% for a USD 2,900 trade, which can further be reduced should a trader consider brokers who charge per share rather than per trade.

According to the data he shared, Gemini exchange stands out with a sum maker and taker fee set at an exorbitant 2.00%, followed by Bittrex and Bitstamp with 0.5%, whereas Bitmex being a derivative market only charges 0.05%. Meanwhile, major US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Pro takes 0.40%.

In a comparison with foreign exchange markets, Krüger further cited how “an FX trader at Oanda would pay 0.008% for a round trip (in and out of a position)”, concluding that:

“Trading on Coinbase is 48x more expensive, while trading on Bitmex is 6x more expensive.”

Moreover, Krüger opined: “A cross-asset trading costs analysis should also account for spreads and relative volatility,” which invariably should impact fees levied, however, “crypto fees are generally high even after adjusting by relative volatility”.

In recent times, institutional investors have been targeted with offshoot market solutions to further attract this class of investors to the burgeoning digital asset industry. However, considering Krüger’s analyses, crypto exchanges second to huge volatility index of cryptocurrency markets may indeed be a huge deterrent for currency traders from the traditional market.

In February, Marketing consultancy Edelman published a report noting an unwavering millennials’ support for cryptocurrency exchanges, further corroborating eToro’s findings of a generational shift in trust suggesting a concrete trust in cryptocurrency market exchanges as well as a fading faith in the traditional stock market exchanges. However, while cryptocurrency trading appears to be more rewarding due to high volatility, the practical aspects of trading come with hidden fees that make it a trying first-experience for newcomers into the industry.

Blockchain technology may appear to solve certain constraints in legacy financial institutions and reduce the cost of transactions between clients, however, cryptocurrency exchanges may end up constituting a clog to the furtherance of the decentralized ecosystem as it reinvents the centralized systems obtainable in the traditional markets.

 

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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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Seven Crypto Exchanges Use Nasdaq Surveillance Tech for Clean Trading

7 Crypto Exchanges Use Nasdaq Surveillance Tech for Clean Trading

Nasdaq’s cryptocurrency exchange guidelines are continuing to offer technical support for seven cryptocurrency exchanges, paying to use its tech to help them ensure trading activities are kept free from manipulation.

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 Nasdaq’s stringent guideless although only the connection with Gemini and SBI Virtual Currency has been made public so far.

Nasdaq’s head of exchange and regulator surveillance team, Tony Sio, explained the company’s thinking on allowing access to tech support: “Historically, we don’t do such a large vetting process for our clients because they are much more well-known… But as we started working with less well-known names, startups, then we realized we needed to do this check process.”

At yesterday’s Nasdaq briefing, the company’s surveillance head broke down the process of vetting crypto exchanges to members of the press, clarifying that not everyone makes the cut. Such is the rigorous nature of their prerequisites, which have separate criteria: a business model, KYC/AML, and exchange governance and controls.

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. Last week, Nasdaq also hooked up with Symbiont with a USD 20 million investment.

One key factor in allowing access to Nasdaq tech has been the company’s interest in how exchanges use their assets and exactly who is using them, and what they may have been used for in the past, illustrating the high level of ethical standard exchanges must demonstrate before passing muster, gaining access to the technology.

 

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Monero Devs: Privacy in Bitcoin “A Fundamental Human Right”

Monero Devs: Privacy in Bitcoin

The issue of privacy has been one issue that has frustrated cryptocurrency detractors over the years, claiming that such a factor simply encourages illegal activity and tax evasion, but strong advocates of Bitcoin claim it to be simply an inalienable right and one of the advantages of decentralization.

One of the most vocal mainstream critics of Bitcoin has been JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon, who has frequently asked for more government intervention in the regulation of cryptocurrencies, subscribing to one argument that such assets are easily concealed from taxation.

Riccardo Spagni and Cayle Sharrock, who are currently involved in projects related to the privacy-focused Monero altcoin disagree with this view, arguing that privacy is not only here, but should be here to stay when it comes to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero. Spagni hopes that the private cryptocurrency space will become the norm in the years to come. He commented:

“Between Bitcoin having enhanced privacy through something like Lightning and TumbleBit, between Monero and the work being done on ZK-STARKs by Starkware, between Grin and Beam and Tari [working on MimbleWimble]… I’m hoping that it’s just going to force a reckoning where everyone will have to go: ‘Okay, privacy is here. It’s accessible. Strong privacy is here.’”

Spagni draws parallels to the war on certain drugs which consume lawmakers energy only to be eventually legalized such as the case in Canada in 2018. People will use cryptocurrencies, claims Spagni, whatever regulation comes into play; a fact which is borne out by numerous prohibitive crypto jurisdictions around the globe, many of which have vibrant crypto communities despite government clampdowns.

There is no doubt that cryptocurrencies need rules and standards, and clearly, there are major players in the industry such as Gemini’s Winklevoss Twins who, despite industry criticism, are prepared to make a stand for considered and sensible legislation of the space, preferably through bodies within the industry itself.

“Over time, they’ll start to realize that actually, you can still do proper law enforcement without needing to see everyone’s transactions,” added Spagni. “You can still do proper tax collecting without needing to see into everyone’s bank account.”

 

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Winklevoss Twins Hit Back at Critics of NYC ‘Crypto Needs Rules’ Advertising

The co-founders of Gemini Trust Company, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have been responding to criticism of their ‘Crypto Needs Rules’ advertising campaign, launched for their New York-based digital asset exchange.

The concept of new rules surrounding cryptocurrencies, for many, is proving difficult to tolerate in the industry. The “crypto needs rules” placards can now be seen on the New York Subway and on the back of Yellow Cabs, promoting Gemini along with other slogans such as “money has a future” and “crypto without chaos.”

Many industry players feel that rules such as AML and KYC security measures go against the grain of Bitcoin’s purpose, conflicting with the original idea of a decentralized crypto economy. Messari co-founder Dan McArdle was so incensed by the advertising material that he closed his Gemini account in objection to the ads. Chris Roan head of Gemini marketing was quick to defend the advertising, telling the Wall Street Journal:

“We believe that investors coming into cryptocurrency deserve the exact same protections as investors in more traditional markets, adhering to the same standards, practices, regulations and compliance protocols.”

The Winklevoss twins have argued that their advertising is aimed at “…regulation oversight on how people use the technology and how people build the technology and how companies, like Gemini for example, custody assets and what kind of oversight.” The Gemini CEOs deny that financial regulations have a “big brother” element, but can effectively prevent crime, arguing that most people are fine with having their transactions monitored. They commented:

“Terrorist financing is a real thing. Being a New Yorker and living in New York, you know, September 11, is a real thing and that’s really, that’s the overarching goal of [the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering laws].”

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