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After SEC Feedback, Several Firms Withdraw Bids to List Bitcoin ETFs

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Several fund managers have shelved bids to launch bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), citing push back from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The regulator, which has taken a hard stance on bitcoin in the past, expressed concerns over liquidity and valuation of futures contracts backed by the cryptocurrency.

Bids Withdrawn

In a recent letter published online, Direxion and Exchange Listed Funds announced that they had cancelled their bids to launch ETFs that track bitcoin futures. ProShares Trust also issued a latter one day later informing the public that it will not pursue the matter further.

Unlike the cryptocurrency itself, bitcoin ETFs can be traded by retail investors as easily as stocks and other financial products. It would also allow them to gain exposure to the digital asset without the volatility of trading it directly.

Proponents of the ETFs had high hopes the filings would be approved following the launch of bitcoin futures contracts on the CBOE and CME exchanges last month. The coin’s 1,500% surge last year created a sense of urgency for fund managers to get in on the action.

Interestingly, the SEC does not regulate futures, as that is the domain of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC is being pressured to reassess the bitcoin futures contracts for underlying risks.

Last year, the SEC failed to approve a high-profile bitcoin ETF backed by billionaire investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. At the time, the securities regulator cited “concerns about the potential for fraudulent or manipulative acts and practices” related to bitcoin. Although that line of reasoning likely still persists, regulators now appear to be more concerned with volatility.

While volatility has been part and parcel of digital currency trading, the general trajectory of the market has been overwhelmingly higher. A flood of exchanges has rushed to get in on the action, although many have been unable to scale fast enough to meet demand. As a result, several major exchanges, including Bitstamp and Bitfinex, have instituted temporary blocks on new accounts.

Bitcoin has started the year in rocky waters, as investors seem to favor the more diverse altcoin universe. The original blockchain has seen its overall market share decline to roughly one third, with the likes of Ripple and Ethereum witnessing an upsurge in demand.

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 604 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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Japanese Cryptocurrency Exchange Zaif Suffers $59 Million Hack

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The Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif was reportedly hacked for almost $59,000,000. This is not the first time the exchange has struggled with vulnerabilities or technical flaws in its system.

The most notable example of this history occurred back in February when a system glitch enabled customers to buy cryptocurrency for free. At the time, users of the exchange complained about the sites poor backend performance and a general lack of support throughout the whole ordeal.

Unlike this former glitch, this hack could prove to be a much larger issue for Zaif and could potentially lead to its shutdown. This is mainly due to the fact that Japanese regulators have significantly heightened their overall scrutiny of domestic exchanges since Coincheck was hacked for $530,000,000 yen.

The Zaif hack occurred on Sept. 14 but was apparently not discovered until Sept. 17. The hackers managed to steal various amounts of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Monacoin from the exchange’s hot wallet, which was collectively worth about 6.7 billion yen (or just under $60 million).

Zaif has stated however that the efforts to re-enable deposits and withdrawals by are already well underway. The exchange has also reported the hack to the Japanese Treasury Department (who are ostensibly already investigating the incident)

Zaif also claims to have already made damages declaration to the relevant authorities. An official statement put out by the exchange said, “Currently, we are checking and strengthening security and rebuilding the server in order to restart the system.”

Zaif has additionally notified Japan’s Financial Services Agency, as well as invited a third-party investigation firm known as the Kaichi Corporation to review possible causes of the hack and to trace the steps the hackers took to carry it out.

The most concrete step that they have taken so far is to announce that the managing team that oversaw the exchange during the hack. This is seen in the following official statement:

“All of our management team takes seriously that our valuable deposit assets have disappeared due to this hacking damage. As a result, even if the virtual currency equivalent to customer’s assets can be prepared by the above-mentioned funding etc., the concerns and inconveniences given to customers are tremendous.

As a result, our current management team has responded with full power to this matter, and we are fully committed to preserving the customer’s assets and fulfilling our obligation to hand over control to the management team of the Fiscal Group, which acquires a majority of control. We will retire our officers as a management responsibility.”

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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Market Update: Dow Jones Hits Record High; Cryptocurrencies Hold Their Ground

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average notched record highs on Wednesday, as global bond yields continued to rise amid heightened trade tensions between the United States and China. Meanwhile, cryptoassets were little changed amid news that Fidelity Investments was preparing to unveil new crypto offerings this year.

Stocks Settle Mostly Higher

Strong gains in financials and materials stocks propelled the Dow to record highs on Wednesday. The blue-chip index climbed 158.80 points, or 0.6%, to close at 26,405.76. Financial blue-chips JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) were the Dow’s top performers.

The broader S&P 500 Index edged up 0.1% to 2,907.94. The S&P’s financials index rose 2%.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.1% to close at 7,950.04.

Bond yields rose across the board Wednesday as markets fully priced in a Federal Reserve interest rate hike next week. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose back above 3% en route to fresh four-month highs. Germany’s 10-year Bund jumped to 0.5% for the first time in three months.

Oil Prices Rise on Supply Concerns

Crude oil was back on the offensive Wednesday, with U.S. futures prices surpassing $71 a barrel after government data showed a fifth weekly drawdown in commercial inventories. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said commercial crude stocks fell by 2.057 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 14. Stockpiles fell nearly 5.3 million barrels the week before.

Gasoline demand, which normally falls in autumn, was estimated at 9.5 million barrels in the latest week as consumption continues to hold near summer levels.

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for U.S. crude reached a high of $71.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It would later settle at $71.19 a barrel for a gain of $1.34, or 1.9%. Brent crude, the international futures contract, rose 16 cents, or 0.2%, to $79.19 a barrel.

Cryptocurrencies Hold Steady

The cryptocurrency market hovered around $200 billion on Wednesday as bitcoin and the major altcoins traded within a relatively narrow range. Trade volumes were down 17% compared with Tuesday.

The CEO of Fidelity Investments, the world’s sixth-largest asset manager, has confirmed plans to unveil a suite of crypto- and blockchain-based products later this year.

“We’ve got a few things underway, a few things that are partially done but also kind of on the shelf because it’s not really the right time,” Abigail Johnson, Fidelity’s CEO, told Boston Fintech Week on Friday. “We hope to have some things to announce by the end of the year.”

Fidelity has been active behind the scenes researching cryptocurrency and mining bitcoin and Ethereum. While Fidelity’s mining operation turned out to be highly profitable during the bull market, the practice was intended to yield a better understanding of cryptocurrency networks and consensus.

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 604 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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Fidelity Investments Entering Crypto as Debate Over ‘Institutionalization’ Grows  

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One of the world’s biggest asset managers is planning to launch new cryptocurrency offerings by the end of the year, the latest evidence of a broad institutional push to bring digital assets mainstream.

Fidelity to Enter Crypto

Fidelity Investments, the world’s sixth-largest asset manager, is developing a new suite of crypto- and blockchain-focused products, according to CEO Abigail Johnson.

“We’ve got a few things underway, a few things that are partially done but also kind of on the shelf because it’s not really the right time. We hope to have some things to announce by the end of the year,” Johnson told the Boston Fintech Week conference on Friday.

While details remain scant, Johnson said Fidelity’s forthcoming offerings aren’t what she expected when her firm first began researching the space.

As CCN quotes:

“What we started with was building a long list of use cases for either bitcoin, Ethereum, other cryptocurrencies, or potentially just raw blockchain technology. Most of them have been scrapped by now or at least put on the shelf. The things that actually survived were not the things I think necessarily we expected. We were trying to listen to the marketplace and anticipate what would make sense.”

As Hacked reported last October, Fidelity appears to have been one of the first major institutions to mine cryptocurrency. At the time, Johnson acknowledged that her company’s U.S.-based mining operation is “making a lot of money” but the real motivation was to learn how networks and consensus operate.

Crypto Adoption Grows but Questions Remain

With $2.5 trillion in assets under management, Fidelity is one of the biggest players in global finance and its entry into cryptocurrency will provide an instant legitimacy boost to the sector. Despite the recent market downturn, large institutions ranging from Goldman Sachs to Intercontinental Exchange have announced new crypto ventures all designed to bring digital assets to mainstream circles. Although the pace and timing of these initiatives varies, the underlying trend remains overwhelmingly in favor of greater adoption, not less.

Some analysts have warned that the institutionalization of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin undermines the core mandate of peer-to-peer money. This view was recently conveyed by Andreas Antonopoulos, who argued that the inevitable rise of the bitcoin exchange-traded fund could do more harm than good.

“ETFs fundamentally violates the underlying principle of peer-to-peer money, where each user is not operating through a custodian but has direct control of their money because they have direct control of their keys,” Antonopoulos said.

At this stage in the game, evaluating the impact of institutional money on cryptocurrency isn’t an exact science. Several analysts have noted correlations between, say, the launch of bitcoin futures and the meteoric drop in prices, but establishing causality is less credible given the small size of the futures market relative to trading over-the-counter and on digital exchanges. It has also been relatively easy to show the positive impact of bitcoin futures on volatility. As Diar points out, bitcoin’s volatility has declined sharply since December.

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 604 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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