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ETFs: What Is The SEC  Really Thinking?

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As a veteran Wall Street type, I was not surprised at Thursday’s SEC announcement on the VanEck-SolidX Bitcoin ETF.  Once again they gave a “no decision”. This pushes the deadline back to December 29, 2018. Don’t be surprised if New Year’s Eve comes and goes and nothing happens before the SEC is forced into a action by the end of February.

Back in August, when the first delay was announced, crypto investors’ reaction was swift and painful.  On Thursday, after a temporary hiccup, prices took a surprisingly positive turn. If we are to believe for just a moment that crypto prices act rationally (or just occasionally) then comes two obvious questions, are crypto ETFs good or bad? Secondly why can’t the SEC come up with an answer?

Never Say Yes

Let’s start with the easy question first: what’s up with the SEC?  Having dealt with this teflon organization for over 30 years, their actions with regard to VanEck-SolidX are the same pattern they have followed forever.  Practically never do they approve anything. Instead they provide two choices: reject or delay. By delaying the VanEck-SolidX application they are accepting the ETF concept in principle but laying out objections that must be corrected.

The result of this regulatory song and dance, don’t expect a decision until the last minute. The reason is that the main issues are not likely to be resolved in time. In fact, I doubt that the ETF proposal gets approval for perhaps as much as another year.  Here is why.

SEC Speak: Obfuscation

According to Jake Chervinsky, attorney for VanEck, the SEC asks “18 multiple part questions covering seven pages.” He adds: “It’s not encouraging to see the SEC ask if the bitcoin futures markets are “of significant size” despite having already concluded last month that they’re not.”

This is a tactic in obfuscation that the SEC loves when an applicant has not provided an adequate response.  In this case there is no objective answer to how liquid a market must be to meet the measure of significance.  Moreover, there is little or nothing that can be done in the short run to create greater liquidity.

The SEC is a political body as much as any agency of the Federal Government.  In raising the issue of liquidity, they can stand behind their role of protecting the public without at the same time hindering public access to a class of assets, even at current depressed levels, is worth $200 billion, more or less.

The SEC Is Right With Their Delays

Does the crypto world really benefit, as this stage of its evolution, by fostering a group of ETFs?  The argument in favor says that this is the way to simply and safely offer the individual investor a way to participate in a diversified portfolio of crypto.  That sounds noble – or is it just something that makes lots of money for those who create them?

But so far, at least from the viewpoint of the SEC, ETF applicants have not created a more secure domain.  More importantly, even if this were not the case, what does the investor gain from investing in a diversified list of crypto when Bitcoin overshadows about every other altcoin?

With nothing against those that believe in the benefits of ETFs, the benefits in current terms is far better for the ETF sponsor that it is for the investor.

Looking just at the math, an individual investor could be just as well off buying Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Ethereum and EOS. Admittedly, it is somewhat more complicated finding a place to buy and store Ripple, but with this small portfolio, you cover 75% of the entire crypto asset class. If security is an issue simply go to  blockgeeks.com/cryptocurrency-safe/ and select from a list of hardware wallets.

So whether the SEC gives their approval of VanEck-SolidX in December or February might make a difference if this were 2020 or sometime thereafter.  As for now, it really isn’t critical to the mass acceptance of crypto.

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 115 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Analysis

Ethereum Price Analysis: Volume Spike Pushes ETH/USD to Monthly Highs

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Ethereum’s price rallied to one-month highs on Sunday, overcoming a soft landing for the broader cryptocurrency market and reaffirming the view that ETH has already bounced from a major bottom. A look at the fundamental picture, specifically ETH block transactions, suggests Ethereum isn’t out the woods yet with respect to the bear market.

ETH/USD: Toward Monthly Highs

Ether peaked at $139.50 on Sunday, according to Bitfinex. It was last seen trading at $130.78, having gained 4.9%. That marks the highest level since mid-January. As a result of the gain, ether moved into overbought territory based on the hourly Relative Strength Index (RSI).

Outside highly-anticipated Constantinople upgrade, which is scheduled later this month, there was no immediate catalyst for Ethereum’s breakout on Sunday. This suggests that technical trading was dictating market flows. ETH remains well supported above $120; the breakout north of $125 suggests further gains are likely.

Over the past 24 hours, Ethereum’s trade volumes have surged 25% to $3.5 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. Ether is presently on course for its highest 24-hour turnover since Feb. 9.

At current values, the Ethereum network has a total market capitalization of $13.4 billion, placing it second among active blockchains and $1.2 billion higher than the next biggest project, XRP.

Bottom is Well Protected

Since plunging to the mid-$80 range in December, Ethereum has undergone a doubling in price followed by a downward correction that threatened to expose the $100 support. Since the beginning of February, ETH has rallied more than 20% to current levels.

As Hacked recently reported, a tremendous pump was needed to keep Ethereum from further capitulation in December. Between Dec. 10 and Dec. 24, institutions and cryptocurrency whales picked up 11 million units of ETH to prevent further losses. In other words, they absorbed more than $1.5 billion worth of selling pressure at the time.

Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 24, these large players probably accumulated somewhere around 24 million ETH. This should serve as a strong backstop to any further attempt to push prices lower.

Block Transactions Plunge

Although Constantinople is expected to solve many of the technical challenges facing Ethereum, the number of transactions on the network has been in free fall since early 2018. According to data from Etherscan.io, block transactions have plummeted more than 90% over the past 13 months.

As the following chart illustrates, the highest number of transactions ever recorded occurred on Jan. 4, 2018 to the tune of 1,349,890 units. That figure fell to 381,151 units on Feb. 10, 2019.

This figure appears to be positively correlated with the sharp drop in Ethereum’s exchange volume over the same period. Combined with the fierce competition from Tron and EOS in the market for decentralized applications, its apparent that Ethereum could face further pressure in the short term. While this is unlikely to produce new lows, it certainly means that the bear market is here to stay.

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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4.7 stars on average, based on 771 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Analysis

How You Could Profit From The Fairfax County Investment In Morgan Creek Digital

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Morgan Creek Digital recently scored what it says is probably the first investment in the known crypto asset universe from a U.S. pension fund.

Two pension plans in Fairfax County, Virginia are anchor investors in a new $40 million venture-capital fund, according to a statement from the company. Other investors include an insurance company, a university endowment and a private foundation, said Morgan Creek Digital founder Anthony Pompliano, who declined to provide further details.

Fairfax County Retirement Systems manages three separate defined benefit plans, two of which invested in the Morgan Creek Digital fund, said Pompliano. Katherine Molnar, chief investment officer of one of the funds said in a statement that blockchain technology is an “emerging opportunity” that offers an “attractive asymmetric return profile.’’

Morgan Creek Digital, which is an affiliate of the investment manager Morgan Creek Capital Management LLC, exceeded its original target of $25 million for the fund. Its pitch: all traditional assets will eventually be represented by digital tokens, while the influx of intellectual capital into digital assets will create positive returns. It also argues that cryptocurrencies are not correlated to traditional assets, giving investors unique exposures.

The fund created by Morgan Creek Digital in New York is investing in cryptocurrency giant Coinbase, which was recently valued at $8 billion, and several lesser-known startups, including Blockfi, RealBlocks, TrustToken, Harbor, Open Finance Network, CityBlock Capital, Namebase, Good Money and Digital Assets Data.
As much as $4 million of the investment could eventually be used to purchase cryptocurrency directly, though that has not happened yet.

This sort of development is crucial for the digital asset markets to evolve. Let’s take a closer look at Morgan Creek Digital’s other blockchain companies, and see if there might be equity or token opportunities.

CityBlock Capital

CityBlock Capital offered a digital security token sale on the SharesPost platform, representing perhaps the lowest-barrier investment opportunity for someone looking to tag onto the Fairfax County investment in Morgan Creek Digital.

CityBlock’s NYCQ Blockchain Infrastructure Fund invests in companies building blockchain-based capital markets infrastructure. From the instantaneous settlement of trades, elimination of intermediaries, and the reduction of fraud, the fund’s portfolio companies include clearing houses, exchanges, depositories, makers of market aggregation tools, securities services firms, data analytics, smart contract auditors, and issuance platforms. Its focus is early-stage firms, with ten percent of its funds going to late-stage companies.

CityBlock’s digital tokens are designed to represent ownership interests in the fund. Investors will be able to buy and sell these assets on SharesPost’s Alternative Trading System (ATS), which is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

TrustToken

If you’re looking for a stablecoin, this Morgan Creek Digital-backed option might be a nice tool to escape crypto-volatility. TrustToken’s first token is TrueUSD, a stablecoin redeemable one-to-one for U.S. dollars. Over its initial four months of trading, the coin’s market increased to $85 million as investors look for stability in the unstable world of crypto. The token has a $61 million hard cap on the token allocated over three tranches of $0.12, $0.14 and $0.16 per trust token.

In the TrueUSD system, dollars are kept in the escrow accounts of multiple trust companies, not a bank account. Those accounts verified by an independent third party that issues monthly reports on the funds held in collateral.

Blockfi

In need of liquidity and have a lot of crypto you could put up as collateral? Blockfi is now operating in the US, and could be the business solution you need. BlockFi is a New York-based secured non-bank lender of  USD loans to cryptoasset owners who collateralize the loan with cryptoassets. Blockfi iquidity is available to both individuals and institutions. Client Bitcoin and Ether is held with a registered custodian. Loans are issued in USD to their bank account.

BlockFi currently operates in 35 US States, lending to retail investors and companies. It raised approximately $1.5 million in seed funding earlier this year from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFI and Kenetic Capital, followed by Galaxy Digital Ventures investment of $52.5 million. $50 million, the lion’s share of the capital, will be used to loan to BlockFi’s customers. The remaining $2.5 million represents an equity investment in the company from Galaxy and earlier backers.

Namebase

Namebase offers probably the most unique idea in which Morgan Creek Digital invests. This platform enables the registration of top-level domains on the Handshake blockchain. As a fork of Bitcoin, Handshake allows users to register domain names. Registration records are maintained by a decentralized network of nodes. Handshake is compatible with the existing domain name system. It is easily integrated with mainstream browsers.

Handshake uses the Bitcoin software with some extra transaction types allowing users to bid on names on-chain. Handshake forked everything about the Bitcoin node software while not forking the UTXO set, like in the case of Zcash. The Handshake project plans to distribute 70% of the coin supply to open source developers, projects, and non-profits without any contractual expectation of work.

Bakkt

The Bakkt Bitcoin Daily Future is a physically delivered daily futures contract on Bitcoin traded in BTC/USD. It’s still subject to regulatory approval, but ICE plans for them to be traded on its electronic trading platform which is regulated by the CFTC. ICE Clearing US, the main counterparty for all ICE cleared forex futures trades, will clear and guarantee all trades, to be settled in physically delivered Bitcoin “in the regulated Bakkt Warehouse.”

Bakkt raised $18.2 million to develop a global digital assets platform and a bitcoin futures product. Owned by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which in turn is owned by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Bakkt’s investors include Boston Consulting Group, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, ICE, M12 (Microsoft’s VC fund), Pantera Capital and Protocol Ventures.

Digital Assets Data

This financial technology and data company build enterprise-grade software and data feeds for crypto hedge funds and other market participants. The companies data, information and transparency tools will be applied to crypto assets, including currencies, platforms, applications, side chains, security tokens, and initial coin offers (ICOs) through subscription services offered to hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Harbor

While companies like Polymath stole much of security token show in early 2018, Harbor’s blockchain-based platform and compliance protocol has also been built to transform private securities like commercial real estate offerings an investment funds into more liquid forms of private investment.

This institutional-grade onramp for issuers and investors is an end-to-end service. Investor on-boarding to the platform encompasses KYC, AML, accreditation and tax forms, signing of documents, funding, and other tasks. The Harbor compliance protocol manages complex rules and regulations governing securities on issuance and secondary transfers.

Open Finance Network

Created in 2014, The OpenFinance Network (OFN) uses blockchain technology to create an U.S. regulated security token platform. “We wanted to give users the control over their funds. Since with security tokens, there is a lot of overhead holding tokens on a centralized platform. So to put capital to better use, we went with self-custody. We are not entirely decentralized though, and we think this is attractive to all types of users.”

Open Finance Network is comprised of the ledger, the token and the adaptors. Open Finance’s a global registry of assets that are represented by security tokens as well as entities such as broker-dealers, transfer agents, custodians or escrow agents that can be used on different security token processes.

Good Money

Good Money is a new type of banking platform founded by Gunnar Lovelace. When a new customer signs up with Good Money, they receive an equity share – in other words, they become co-owners. Lovelace says customers could hold as much as 70% one day.

Good Money operates similar to a credit union, which are non-profits, and offers members no ATM or overdraft fees. 50% of its profits are invested into green projects and charitable donations. The platform’s customers vote on where profits should be invested, but the options will only include sustainable investments, like clean energy and reforestation efforts.

RealBlocks

RealBlocks is creating a real estate capital markets platform designed to connect users globally so they can more easily raise capital for real estate. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the platform allows organizations to raise capital through the issuance of tokenized securities.

On the platform, investors can directly purchase ownership interest in real estate with digital and fiat currencies. The platform also claims to provide a mechanism for peer-to-peer liqudity. According to RealBlocks, “anyone in the world is now able to directly invest, raise capital, and obtain liquidity for investments in real estate.” The platform also provides a mechanism for peer-to-peer liquidity. By using RealBlocks, anyone in the world is now able to directly invest, raise capital, and obtain liquidity for investments in real estate.

Conclusion

“There’s a belief in the institutional world that if the industry will be around for a long time, it will be very valuable,’’ Pompliano said in a phone interview. “The smart money is not distracted by price but looks at the long-term trends, and believes they’re betting on innovation as a great way to deliver risk-mitigated returns.’’

Today, even police officers and other state employees in Virginia’s Fairfax County are now looking forward to retirement with potential dividends from bitcoin. Two separate pension funds that collectively manage $5.1 billion in assets for the state’s police force and other employees have joined a $40 million investment in the Morgan Creek Blockchain Opportunities Fund.

If you look at the startups in which Morgan Creek Digital is invested, there are few token options. Using TrueUSD to hedge your crypto-investments offers one opportunity to augment your investment strategy. More interestingly, the CityBlock Capital security token represents an alternative to other VC-backed securities tokens, such as Blockchain Capital’s BCAP.

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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5 stars on average, based on 2 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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Altcoins

Litecoin Price Analysis: LTC/USD Set for Another Potential Explosive Move North as Bulls Penetrate Pennant Pattern

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  • Litecoin price on Saturday is seen holding decent gains of over 3% at the time of writing, as the bulls continue their latest push north.
  • Fundamental prospects surrounding the Litecoin Foundation remain strong and supportive of the price recovery.

LTC/USD since last week has been on a decent push to the north; the price has gained well over 40% since 7th February. A breakout kicked-started the previous week after the bulls managed to escape a narrowing daily range-block. LTC/USD was contained within the tightening structure from 11th January right up to 7th February, which then saw an explosive move shortly after. In terms of the range, this was seen at a high of $35 down to a low $29.

Between 10-11th February, Litecoin managed to see its highest levels since 14th November, which demonstrated its recovery. Price action over the last few sessions has been somewhat consolidating while maintaining the new heights. As a result, LTC/USD has formed a bullish pennant structure following the long pole from 8th February gains. Given the current formation, the price does appear to be subject to further upside movements.

Adoption Progress – Litecoin

Earlier this week, Spend App announced iit would begin supporting Litecoin. The Spend App currently facilitates users to buy, sell and pay with Litecoin in more than 40 million locations, a massive step towards mainstream adoption. According to Spend’s official website, card transactions can be performed in 180 countries.

The company tweeted, “Litecoin is now available on the SpendApp. You can buy, sell and pay with Litecoin with your linked bank account. Spend LTC at 40+ million locations with the Spend Wallet by instantly converting to fiat with the Spend Visa Card!”

Pricing in Litecoin’s ‘Halving’

In August of this year, Litecoin is expected to see it’s second ‘Halving’. In a PoW, or proof of work blockchain, halving results in the miner’s reward being cut in half. Although the halving causes miners’ reward to be reduced, they tend to Bboost the price of an asset over the longer-term.

The inventor of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, introduced the halving feature to protect against inflation. Besides, he wanted to ensure that not all of the blocks were mined so soon. Similarly to bitcoin, Litecoin has a cycle of “halving”. What will happen is at predetermined blocks, Litecoin’s mining reward will reduce. It will be Litecoin’s second halving, as the first one occurred back on 25th August 2015. At the time miners rewards went down from 50 LTC to 25 LTC, this time round miners reward will be 12.5 LTC.

Technical Review – LTC/USD

LTC/USD daily chart.

As detailed earlier, LTC/USD is subject to an extended move higher should the market bulls breakout of the pennant pattern. The upper part of the structure can be seen tracking around $44.00; this must be broken down to see a more significant wave of buying pressure. Looking to the north, the next realistic target for the bulls will likely be the psychological $50.00 mark. The price has not been up at these heights since 14th November 2018.

In terms of support, it is observed at the lower acting trend line of the pennant structure, $41.50. If this fails to hold a complete reversal of the latest run of gains may be seen. LTC/USD would then likely be forced to return down to the low $30 region.

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 124 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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