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Crypto Roundup: There’s No Shortage of Positive News in the Digital Currency Market

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An outpouring of positive news from the blockchain community on Tuesday painted a very bright picture of crypto’s future in institutional settings and mainstream consciousness. Below is a roundup of the top developments over the last 24 hours.

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Coinbase Aims to Unlock Institutional Capital

The Coinbase digital currency exchange announced on Tuesday the launch of four new products aimed at luring institutional capital: Coinbase Custody, Coinbase Markets, Coinbase Prime and The Coinbase Institutional Coverage Group.

According to Adam White, Coinbase’s vice president and general manager, the new products could unlock up to $10 billion in institutional funds currently sitting on the sidelines.

Coinbase is banking on institutions driving the next leg of the crypto revolution, arguing that the first push was driven by retail investors. The cryptocurrency market has gotten too big for banks and hedge funds to ignore, which means more players are looking to enter the space.

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Goldman Sachs confirmed earlier this month that it will begin offering bitcoin futures contracts. The much smaller Nasdaq has also expressed interest in becoming a digital currency exchange once regulatory kinks have been ironed out.

Top-Five Bank to Experiment with Crypto

The banking enterprise behind Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is planning to trial its own cryptocurrency as early as next year, according to a Tuesday report by Japan’s NHK news agency.

MUFG Coin, as it has come to be known, could be tested by as many as 100,000 customers once rollout begins. Testing will involve the installation of an MUFG Bank app that converts user funds into fiat money. One MUFG Coin is said to be worth one Japanese yen.

Users will be able to spend the currency at retailing shops as well as transfer tokens to the accounts of other participants.

MUFG is currently the world’s fifth largest bank by total assets, which means its entry into the cryptocurrency market could push other financial institutions in a similar direction.

Upbit Did No Harm

South Korea’s Upbit has been cleared of any wrongdoing tied to allegations of balance sheet fraud after a local accounting agency concluded its audit of the digital currency exchange.

CCN reported Tuesday that one of South Korea’s largest accounting firms found no evidence that Upbit deceived investors with inflated balance sheets in the wake of a federal raid last week.

According to MoneyToday:

“Since early 2018, Upbit created snapshots of its multi-signature wallets and funds stored within them for auditing purposes. Yoojin accounting firm, a major accounting firm based in Seoul, confirmed that all of the funds on the Upbit platform match the cryptocurrency holdings of UPbit stored in its multi-signature wallets.”

The raid of Upbit triggered a massive slide in cryptocurrency prices, with the total market falling by as much as 17% from when the news broke on Thursday to Saturday.

The results of the raid, which was carried out jointly by the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KIU) and local police, will be released this week.

IBM Partners with Environmental Startup to Launch Cryptocurrency

Technology juggernaut IBM has announced plans to develop its own cryptocurrency in tandem with Veridium Labs, an environmental fin-tech startup. The new token will be used to monetize carbon credits in an effort to bring about greater corporate social responsibility.

IBM and Veridium are planning to launch their token on the Stellar network, which is also home to Lumens, the world’s eight largest cryptocurrency by market cap. To put it simply, Veridium will utilize IBM’s vast infrastructure to create a carbon-credit backed token on the Stellar network.

According to IBM, the tokens are fungible, which means they can be exchanged for another asset of similar characteristics and value.

Carbon credits come much prescribed, but before blockchain technology, administering them was considered extremely difficult. That’s because there’s no generally agreed upon formula for deriving individual value, let alone a system that can serve as a central repository for the buying and selling of tokens.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 406 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Parity Wallet’s ICO Passport Services Are Shutting Down

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Parity Wallet has succumbed to EU regulatory pressure and is shutting down it’s PICOPS services on May 24th, 2018.

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EU Crackdown

PICOPS, a service which allowed customers to associated a single Ethereum address with their identity to simplify KYC requirements, allegedly due to the more stringent requirements of the EU’s new GDPR legal framework.

The Parity Wallet team itself posted a statement saying, “We are looking at ways of resolving the uncertainty and making PICOPS compliant with GDPR while keeping it useful. However, as things stand the solutions we have identified restrict the service to a very limited set of features.

Because of this, the significant resources required to make PICOPS GDPR-compliant, and the fact that PICOPS is not part of our core technology stack, we have decided to discontinue the service despite overwhelming market needs and demand.”

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The team remained open to restarting the service in the future however, stating, “These challenges make running a service like PICOPS more difficult. We are looking at ways of resolving the uncertainty and making PICOPS compliant with GDPR while keeping it useful. However, as things stand the solutions we have identified restrict the service to a very limited set of features.

Because of this, the significant resources required to make PICOPS GDPR-compliant, and the fact that PICOPS is not part of our core technology stack, we have decided to discontinue the service despite overwhelming market needs and demand. PICOPS’s deprecation does not mean that we are going to wait and see what happens to blockchains under regulation.”

Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin tweeted his disappointment with decision on Friday, but didn’t go into specifics about the state of EU regulation.

Based on the company’s statements, it seems likely that Parity Wallet will continue to be an active voice in trying to steer more crypto-friendly regulations into law. But the shuttering of an incredibly useful tool could be interpreted as a byproduct of international government’s growing hostility to all things blockchain.

Governments around the world are still in the very early stages of understanding, defining and adequately regulating cryptocurrencies. The state of crypto regulation varies wildly across the board, with some nations recognizing cryptocurrency as money and others banning them outright.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Fraudulent ICOs Have Raised More than $1 Billion: WSJ

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ICO scams are said to have raised in excess of $1 billion since the cryptocurrency boom began, according to a new report published by The Wall Street Journal. Though the findings will likely be contested by investors, the report provides compelling evidence that a large number of coin offerings rely on fraudulent tactics to attract investors.

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The Rise of the “Shitcoin”

Of the 1,450 initial coin offerings (ICOs) reviewed by WSJ, 271 were flagged for potential fraud. Combined, these projects generated nearly $1.1 billion in funding from investors who bought into dubious claims about guaranteed returns and huge ROI. That represents 21% of the total amount raised across the 1,450 projects, which are believed to encompass most of the ICOs targeting English-speaking investors.

Since 2017, ICOs are said to have generated more than $9 billion globally, according to data provided by Satis Group.

Although fraud isn’t always seen as black and white, WSJ analysts outed projects with plagiarized investor documents, promises of over-sized gains and incomplete or fake executive teams.

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In the crypto world, these token projects are often referred to as “shitcoins.” A shitcoin refers to any altcoin that is said to be worthless because it lost value, failed to generate interest or was not created in good faith.

ICO Market: Bad Press Continues

This isn’t the first time researchers have drawn troubling conclusions about the ICO market. By February, it was shown that nearly half of all ICOs launched last year had already failed. A further 13% were labelled as “semi-failed.”

Deceptive ICOs are only one part of the problem. According to Ernst & Young, roughly 10% of ICO funds have been lost or stolen by cyber criminals looking to capitalize on the insatiable demand for digital currency projects.

ICOs themselves are also struggling to meet their funding-cap goals. By November of last year, only one-in-four ICO projects reached their fundraising target compared with 90% in June.

Token raises have generated nearly $4.6 billion in funding over the last five months, but funding amounts have declined sharply since the year began. The month of May is shaping up to be one of the smallest hauls for token projects since the crypto boom began in early 2017.

Earlier this month, Australia became the latest country to target “deceptive” ICO projects that promote “misleading or deceptive” statements.  An inquiry by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) resulted in several companies either modifying their ICO projects or halting them entirely.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been highly critical of ICO projects, arguing that all of them meets the traditional definition of a security.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 406 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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‘Bitcoin Will Reattain Its Former Highs’ – CoinShares Exec

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CoinShares Chairman Danny Masters isn’t deterred by the recent pullback in the bitcoin price, instead believing there will be a comeback and the leading cryptocurrency will revisit its former highs in 2018. Masters was present at the Consensus 2018, which wrapped up in New York on Wednesday and which did little to prop up the bitcoin price this week. Nonetheless, he characterized it as “very exciting week,” one in which the “new financial paradigm” is being built.

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The bitcoin price has taken investors on a roller coaster ride in May after closing in on the $10,000 level again only to fall to about $8,300, which is where it’s hovering at press time. Any short-term movements in the bitcoin price, however, don’t seem to phase Masters, according to an interview with CNBC.

CoinShares launched the industry’s maiden bitcoin and Ethereum exchange-traded products several years ago, when “cryptocurrency was really small,” as Masters explained. And while the cryptocurrency market has come a long way since then, as evidenced by some 8,000 blockchain fans who attended this week’s blockchain conference, the next phase of maturation isn’t likely to unfold until institutional capital comes off the sidelines and into cryptos, blockchain startups, etc.

Next Up: Institutional Investors

Masters offers a unique perspective, having previously spent two decades watching from JPMorgan’s global energy trading desk as the commodities markets rose a logistics business into a high-frequency trading market with derivatives and the like. He explained on CNBC that in order for the bitcoin price to rally and reattain its high, which was close to $20,000 in mid-December, several milestones must occur.

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“We need to see this [cryptocurrency] structure continue to build. We need to see the custody solutions come and be provided. We need indices and we need performance measures where we can actually start to … measure our performance We need to do more mature work around the ICOs, so that post ICO we have a token life cycle. And just give investors more clarity, better expectations, more transparency,” said Masters.

As for the custody solutions, CoinShares is doing its part. CoinShares’ parent company Global Advisors Holdings just unveiled a joint venture with Japan’s Nomura to facilitate digital asset custody services for institutional investors. Developments like these on custodial services as well as strides made by the likes of Coinbase on the institutional front are what Masters described as the “bedrock of what institutions need… in order to go forward.”

For now, it remains the “very early days”, according to Masters, who reflected back to when high-frequency trading came on the scene in the commodities markets, adding, “We’re nowhere near that yet.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 6 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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