Coinbase Acquires Blockchain Analytics Startup Neutrino

Coinbase has acquired a London-based blockchain intelligence startup to prevent theft of funds and investigate attacks.

United States cryptocurrency exchange and wallet Coinbase has acquired blockchain intelligence startup Neutrino, according to a post published in the company’s blog on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Coinbase reveals that the company will continue to operate as a standalone business in its London office. The amount of the contract has not been disclosed.

The U.S. exchange believes that blockchain intelligence will contribute to creating an open and protected financial system. The company expects Neutrino to help Coinbase prevent theft of funds, investigate hacks and ransomware attacks, and identify suspicious transactions.

Moreover, the exchange hints that the acquisition will help to add more cryptocurrencies and features to its services, assisting Coinbase in complying with current laws and regulations.

Earlier this year, Coinbase announced that it had acquired Andreessen Horowitz-backed tech startup Blockspring. The startup produces tools that enable developers to automatically gather and process information from application programming interfaces.

In January, the exchange added resources for customers in the U.S. to claim crypto trades on their taxes, integrating its systems with popular tax software TurboTax.

Later in February, Coinbase launched support for European Union residents to make fiat currency withdrawals to online payment system PayPal — a feature that was previously released for U.S. users only.

Moreover, Coinbase added Bitcoin (BTC) support to its Coinbase Wallet app, where the users can store their own crypto protected by their unique private keys.

Report: Bitcoin Unable to Solve Problems of Traditional Payment Systems

An expert from the Bank of Spain has issued a detailed report on cryptocurrencies, stating that Bitcoin will not have a significant impact on the finance sector.

An official from Spain’s central bank, the Bank of Spain (BDE) believes that Bitcoin (BTC) is unable to resolve the problems faced by major payment systems. BDE’s Deputy General Director for financial innovations and market infrastructure, Carlos Colesa, gave his opinion on the leading cryptocurrency in a report published on Sunday, Feb. 17.

The study dubbed "Bitcoin: a solution for payment systems or a solution in search of a problem?," is marked as an “occasional paper,” according to Cointelegraph en Español. This  means that the Bank of Spain does not necessarily share the stance of the author.

Colesa compared Bitcoin to traditional payment systems and financial intermediaries. First, he says that the Bitcoin blockchain processes only 250,000 transactions daily, which is a relatively small volume for a global system. For instance, major Spanish retail system, the Sistema Nacional de Compensación Electrónica (SNCE), reportedly handled around 7.2 million payments daily, as of 2017.

Given that the miners have to approve transactions, Bitcoin payments are slow, and the time required for a transactions is purportedly unpredictable. Thus, the Proof of Work (PoW) in fact limits the capacity of the whole system instead of yielding benefits, Colesa concludes. The report further states that the absence of governance and coordination impedes improvements to the system.

According to Colesa, the combination of private and public keys is a very unreliable system that is vulnerable to various types of fraud and scams. Moreover, the report states that loss of private keys means that users’ funds can never be restored.

The report echoes the stance of some Bitcoin sceptics, such as Nouriel Roubini, who believe that crypto is in fact very centralized. For instance, crypto has commissions for transactions, and the payment speed depends on its rate. The average rate is set by mining pools, which, according to the expert, have enough power to control the system in order to get more rewards. Colesa concludes:

“It is unlikely that Bitcoin in its current modification will have any significant impact on the finance sector as an alternative to traditional payment systems.”

Earlier this month the bank issued a reminder to citizens, warning of the risks related to cryptocurrencies. The document notes that they are not yet regulated in the country, while exchanges are not authorized by the central bank and thus the funds stored there cannot be protected by the government. Moreover, the BDE governor, Pablo Hernández de Cos, has determined that crypto “cannot replace money and is not a means of payment or common exchange.”

Bitmain Announces Energy-Efficient ASIC Chip for Mining Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash

Bitmain has announced its next generation 7nm ASIC chip, which reportedly enables faster and cheaper mining.

Chinese mining giant and ASIC hardware producer Bitmain has announced its next generation 7nm (nanometer) ASIC mining chip, according to a press release published on Monday, Feb. 18.

The new mining hardware, BM1397, is designed for mining cryptocurrencies that use the SHA256 algorithm for their proof-of-work (PoW), such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

BM1397 requires less power for mining cryptocurrencies, representing a 28.6 percent improvement in power efficiency in comparison with the company’s previous 7nm chip, BM1391.

The new chip will be used in new Antminer models — S17 and T17 — which will be revealed later this year.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Bitmain has recently faced difficulties due to the prolonged bear market and at least two class action lawsuits filed against the company. The Chinese giant reportedly shut down a blockchain development center in Israel, suspended its operations in Texas, and also reduced its operations in the Netherlands in the past few months.

Other major mining companies are also facing challenges due to the crypto market decline. For instance, Japanese internet giant GMO Internet Group revealed it was leaving the Bitcoin mining hardware sector in December 2018, citing the significant Q4 losses.

At the same time, United States gaming and computer hardware manufacturer Nvidia, which was one of the companies most affected by the market downturn and associated lack of demand for mining components, has recently reported full-year revenue gains despite Q4 losses and a “crypto hangover.”

Argentina Settles Export Deal With Paraguay Using Bitcoin

Argentina settles agricultural chemicals export deal worth $7,100 with Paraguay, accepts payment in Bitcoin.

Argentina has settled an export deal with Paraguay in Bitcoin (BTC), Cointelegraph en Español reported on Thursday, Feb. 14.

In a reported first for both countries, Paraguay has bought pesticides and fumigation products  worth $7,100 from Argentina, using cryptocurrency to settle the deal. The purchase was paid for in BTC and then converted into Argentine peso to settle accounts with the exporter of the agricultural chemicals.

To proceed with the payments, Argentina applied to Bitex — a Latin American financial services provider that supports Bitcoin payments.

According to the chief marketing office of Bitex, Manuel Beaudroit, the company is a part of the Argentine government’s program Exporta Simple, which facilitates the export of goods and services worth less than $15,000. Bitex, in its turn, aims to make cross-border payments for such deals more efficient.

As Cointelegraph reported, Bitex previously participated in a crypto project initiated by Argentine bank Masventas. In May 2018, Masventas announced it was considering creating an alternative to the SWIFT payment system used between banks globally. Bitex was appointed to provide the necessary ecosystem for supporting BTC transactions.

In other news for Argentina, this month, the country’s official state transport card SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico) — used by over seven million people in 37 locations — has started accepting BTC.

Meanwhile in Paraguay, global blockchain tech firm and Bitcoin mining manufacturer Bitfury partnered with South Korean peer-to-peer knowledge commons research firm, Commons Foundation, to launch several mining facilities in the country.

Report: Brazilian Bank Bradesco Closes Accounts of Local Crypto Exchange and Owners

One of the largest Brazilian banks, Bradesco, will close the accounts of cryptocurrency exchange Bitblue and its owners.

One of the largest Brazilian banks, Bradesco, has notified crypto exchange Bitblue that its banking accounts will be closed late February, local crypto outlet Portal do Bitcoin reported on Feb. 13.

As the outlet has learned from unnamed industry insiders, Bitblue will face the closure of its accounts in Bradesco on Feb. 26. Moreover, the decision extends to the private accounts of Bitblue owners.

Edisio Pereira, CEO of Bitblue, told Portal do Bitcoin that the company has previously had accounts in four other financial institutions; therefore, Bitblue will not appeal against the bank’s actions. However, its co-founders and partners — whose names are not specified — will definitely appeal, as the move can affect their reputation, Pereira added.

The local Association of Crypto and Blockchain (ABCB) has already reported the case to the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), an antitrust regulator operated by country’s Ministry of Justice. In its complaint, ABCB claims that the bank has violated the rules of free competition.

CADE initially launched a probe against six major national banks — including Banco do Brasil, Banco Bradesco, Itaú Unibanco Holding and Banco Santander Brasil — in September 2018. Following several complaints about banking accounts closure, the antitrust watchdog started investigating alleged monopolistic practices in the crypto space.

In October, CADE decided to review the recent activity of the crypto exchanges themselves. The regulator sent a questionnaire to ten companies that had claimed that their rights were violated by the banks: Bitcoin Market, Bitcambio, BitcoinTrade, Foxbit, Walltime, Braziliex, BitBlue, Open Digital Capital (OTC), e-juno and Profitfy.

Subsequently in October, Banco do Brasil and Santander Brasil were forced to reopen accounts for local crypto exchange Bitcoin Max following a preliminary decision granted by the Federal District Court. The judge ruled that the aforementioned banks failed to notify the exchange of account closure, which was treated as “abusive conduct” violating consumer protection rules.

More recently, Porto do Bitcoin reported on a similar decision that was taken against Banco Santander Brasil, which is now obliged to reopen Bitcoin Max accounts as well.

Liechtenstein’s Postal Service to Offer Crypto Exchange Services at Physical Locations

The Liechtensteinian postal service will offer crypto exchange service in one of its offices in Vaduz starting this week.

Liechtensteinische Post AG, the country’s official postal service, plans to offer cryptocurrency exchange services at their physical locations, according to an official announcement published on Feb. 14.

The postal service will allow customers to exchange their fiat to Bitcoin (BTC) in one of its offices in Vaduz, the country’s capital, starting on Feb. 15. After purchasing BTC, the customers will get a physical wallet generating public and private keys.

Later, the service will likely be extended to other post offices all over the country, the announcement notes. Moreover, the postal service wants to add support for other coins, including Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ripple (XRP).

To introduce the service, Liechtenstein’s post has partnered with Värdex Suisse AG — a Swiss-based financially regulated blockchain and payment service provider. The press releases states that crypto exchange services are nothing different from conventional money exchange businesses.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein are among the countries with the highest level of crypto adoption in the world. Liechtenstein introduced its crypto legislation in early 2018, when prime minister Adrian Hasler announced that the country will regulate blockchain business models and underlying blockchain systems.

The number of startups in the two countries has also been steadily growing despite the crypto winter and prolonged bear market. In December 2018, there were 750 companies in the two countries using distributed ledger technology, which is a 20 percent increase over the past year, consisting of 121 new companies entering the space.

Moreover, the top-50 startups located in the Swiss Crypto Valley hub account for a fifth of the global crypto market, according to crypto investment firm CV VC.

Messenger Giant Kakao Spent $57 Mln on New Tech, Including Blockchain, in Q4 2018

Major South Korean messaging app operator Kakao Corp reported $57.5 million in operating expenses related to new tech, including blockchain and AI.

South Korean internet giant and messaging app operator Kakao Corp has published its Q4 2018 report that covers blockchain and AI operating expenses, Korean news website ZDNet reports Thursday, Feb. 14.

According to ZDNet, in Q4 2018 Kakao’s consolidated operating income was 4.3 billion Korean won ($3.8 million). At the same time, the company’s operating expenses related to new businesses, such as blockchain and AI, was 65 billion won ($57.5 million), which reportedly led to a net loss for the whole period.

As cited by local media News1 Korea, executive vice president at Kakao Bae Jae-hyun confirmed that, despite the recent losses, the company will keep investing in new technology.

As per Korean news agency Yonhap, Kakao’s operating income went down 56 percent in 2018 despite record high annual sales. The sales, in turn, rose 23 percent on-year, reaching 2.42 trillion won ($2.1 billion).

As Cointelegraph previously reported, in October 2018 Kakao unveiled the testnet version of its new blockchain platform dubbed Klaytn, which is set to launch in Q1 2019. The platform, which is the brainchild of Kakao subsidiary Ground X, will purportedly focus on decentralized apps (DApps).

In November 2018, Kakao established a subsidiary in Singapore in order to attract foreign investment with cryptocurrencies. It expected to attract about 100 billion won ($88 million) worth of investment from venture capital and institutional investors through Klaytn in December. The following month, the number of Klaytn’s partners reportedly increased from nine to over 30.

Enterprise-Focused Ethereum Standards Consortium EEA to Form ‘Token Task Force’

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance will form a “token task force” in the first half of 2019 to contribute to entreprise tokenization.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), global blockchain community with over 500 members, will launch a “token task force” in 2019, EEA confirmed to Cointelegraph in correspondence on Feb. 13.

The executive director of the EEA, Ron Resnick, said that the task force is still at the design stage and is scheduled to launch in the first half of this year.

“We are creating a token task force; we will do that first half of this year,” Resnick stated, adding:

“It’s going to be focused on support for fungible ERC-20 and non-fungible, ERC-721 tokens.”

Resnick hopes that the new initiative will contribute to entreprise tokenization and build public confidence in crypto. Moreover, the group will reportedly focus on the issue of interoperability between different blockchains.

The EEA, according to its website, is a organization focused on creating standards to help enterprises adopt Ethereum-based blockchain technology.

Today, Feb. 14, the EEA announced that it is opening a new branch in China, as Cointelegraph reported. Weijia Zhang, vice president of engineering at blockchain interoperability startup Wanchain, has been appointed as the new office’s director.

In October 2018, the EEA partnered with another major blockchain community, Hyperledger, the open-source blockchain platform from the Linux Foundation. The two consortiums joined each other’s organizations as “Associate Members” in order to support enterprise blockchain adoption.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, major industry players believe that tokenized assets will be the main trend in crypto industry in the coming years. For instance, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Bitcoin bulls and founders of the crypto trading platform Gemini, believe that the initial coin offering (ICO) “crazy town” of 2017 is now over and that tokenized assets are coming to the fore.

Ripple’s Fundraising Arm Xpring Invests in XRP Community Developer’s Lab

Ripple’s fundraising arm Xpring invests in a startup that develops applications for XRP Ledger.

Ripple’s fundraising arm Xpring has invested in XRPL Labs — a startup that develops applications for the XRP ledger, the company announced in a blog post on Feb. 13.

Xpring’s director Vanessa Pestritto has announced that Wietse Wind — a long-time XRP community developer and one of the three XRPL Labs co-founders —  is a “proven entrepreneur” who “has successfully grown his companies organically.” According to Pestritto, the company’s decision to invest in the startup was motivated by Wind’s creative approach and ability to engage developers.

Pestritto believes that the funding will help Wietse and his partners dedicate more time building XRP Ledger-based projects, which include Wind’s recent tool for streaming payments for electrical power.

The exact amount of the investment has not yet been disclosed to press time.

Wietse recently paid a tribute to Xpring on his Twitter, promising to develop more “killer XRPL apps” soon.

Ripple recently announced version 1.2.0 of XRP Ledger, which focuses on improving the protocol’s censorship resistance.

Earlier this week, Ripple, Mastercard Foundation, MIT Media Lab and Barclays invested in remittance company SendFriend, which uses Ripple’s xRapid product for cross-border payments. The company successfully raised $1.7 million in its first funding round.

In the other important news for investments, this month New York-based blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis raised $30 million in a Series B funding round led by venture capital giant Accel.

Also this month, San Francisco-based blockchain lending firm Dharma Labs raised $7 million from several prominent investors, including Green Visor Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Passport Capital and Y Combinator.

Intel Launches Commercial Blockchain Package Based on Hyperledger Fabric

Intel has launched a commercial blockchain package based on the Hyperledger Fabric, also using the company’s own hardware.

Intel has launched a commercial blockchain package based on the Hyperledger ecosystem, according to marketing materials published on Feb. 12.

Intel, which is a member of the Hyperledger collaboration — hosted by the Linux Foundation along with IBM and other major financial institutions — has announced that its new product is designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchain fast and effectively.

The ecosystem will be based on the Hyperledger Fabric — a foundation for developing applications or solutions with a modular architecture. At the same time, the product will use Intel’s hardware, such as Xeon processors and Ethernet Network Adaptors.

The system has the base configuration that contains the necessary minimum to launch a Hyperledger-driven blockchain. According to Intel, the pack is enterprise-ready.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, other tech giant IBM has also launched its own Hyperledger-based blockchain platform in its data center located in Melbourne, Australia. The move will reportedly allow customers to run their applications on the company's cloud.

Furthermore, IBM announced a project this month using blockchain and the Internet of Things to manage the use of groundwater and thus combat drought in the United States state of California.

Microsoft also released a blockchain-development kit back in November 2018. The kit is a serverless solution dubbed Azure, which contains features like off-chain identity and data, as well as monitoring and messaging application programming interfaces (API) in a format that can be used to develop blockchain-based apps.

Italian Banking Association Further Tests Interbank Blockchain System Powered by R3 Corda

The Italian Banking Association states its blockchain solution tested by 18 local banks is now in the pre-production phase.

The Italian Banking Association (ABI) is now testing a blockchain interbank solution based on blockchain consortium R3’s open-source distributed ledger platform Corda, fintech news outlet FinExtra reports on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

The ABI states that the platform has been developed together with its technical partners — R3, Japanese IT firm NTT Data and Italian ICT company Sia. The project, dubbed “Spunta,” is reportedly now being tested by 18 banks that represent 78 percent of the Italian banking sector by number of employees.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the blockchain-powered interbank system by the ABI successfully passed the initial phase of testing in October 2018, with the participation of 14 local banks.

According to the association, the project is now in its pre-production phase and it will be launched for a focus group after a number of initial tests. Furthermore, the developers will test the platform’s stability by generating transactions volumes over a period of 365 days.

At the same time, the ABI and its partners are developing additional updates that will be tested by pilot banks, reconstructing the production processes of the whole Italian banking sector, the association notes.

The Italian parliament has recently passed a bill that defines distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and blockchain, as well as the technical criteria that smart contracts will have to comply with in order to have legal validity. Maria Laura Mantovani, a member of the Italian Parliament, told Cointelegraph Italy that a favorable use case for blockchain is its application in online voting.

In December 2018, Italy joined six other European countries (Malta, France, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain and Greece) who agreed to promote the use of the DLT in the region. The participating governments explained that it can be a significant innovation for southern EU economies.

R3’s Corda is frequently used by major financial companies. For instance, in late 2018, German banking and financial services company Commerzbank, French corporate and investment bank Natixis and Dutch financial services firm Rabobank completed a live commercial paper transaction based on this blockchain platform.

More recently, Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings officially announced a joint agreement with R3 to expand their business in Asia.

Chinese Bitcoin Billionaire Zhao Dong Believes Crypto Spring Will Come in 2020

Chinese Bitcoin billionaire Zhao Dong predicts the crypto spring will only come in 2020, while crypto summer will not arrive until 2021.

Chinese alleged Bitcoin (BTC) billionaire Zhao Dong believes that the crypto spring will only come in 2020. His opinion, shared in a public chat in local messenger WeChat, was cited by Chinese crypto outlet 8BTC on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

Zhao Dong, who owns a substantial stake in Hong Kong-based crypto exchange Bitfinex, has recently participated in a discussion held in the chat dubbed “The Public Chain Alliance Crossing The Bulls And Bears Elite Team.”

When asked about the future of BTC, Zhao Dong recalled the peak of the coin’s popularity in December 2017. In comparison to that time, no one cares about BTC today, he noted, adding that the coin will draw attention again only when its rate reaches “many tens of thousand of dollars” once again.

Therefore, in the entrepreneur’s opinion, a bear market is the best time to buy BTC. Zhao Dong also added that 2019 will be a year of low crypto prices, noting that the industry needs to brace itself for another several months of crypto winter. In his opinion, many companies will disappear during this period, but new ones will inevitably emerge to make 2019 both the best and the worst time for investors and entrepreneurs.

As for the long-term perspective, Zhao Dong said in the chat that the crypto spring is only coming in 2020, while the crypto summer will not arrive until 2021.

Crypto winter is a term used by industry insiders to define the prolonged bear market that came into being soon after BTC had reached its historical peak of $20,000 in December 2017.

Renowned crypto bulls Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, founders of crypto trading platform Gemini, once said that they feel “totally at home in winter,” adding that “it gives us time to build internally, and refine and kind of catch our breath.”

Zhao Dong is not the only major player to predict crypto market recovery. New York-based research company Fundstrat Global Advisors has recently released a 2019 crypto outlook, wherein the company describes incremental improvements that will purportedly support higher prices for cryptocurrencies.

Chilean Central Bank: Cryptocurrencies Are Unable to Substitute Fiat Money

The Central Bank of Chile issues a detailed report on cryptocurrencies, stating they have no potential to substitute traditional money.

The Central Bank of Chile (BCC) believes that cryptocurrencies are unable to substitute traditional money, according to an in-depth report on crypto issued Feb. 7.

The document, signed by the central bank’s president Mario Marcel, was prepared upon request of the Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia (TDLC). The TDLC is an independent anti-monopoly institution established to ensure that free competition rules are not violated in Chile. The organization actively participated in a recent legal battle between Latin American crypto exchanges and Chilean banks.

As per the BCC, Bitcoin (BTC) and other major cryptocurrencies that were created as alternatives to fiat money, are now at an early stage of development. Therefore, it is difficult to predict whether or not they will continue to evolve. However, the BCC itself remains sceptical about the future of the industry:

“Currently, there is no evidence that would allow the conclusion that Bitcoin, or any other crypto asset, or crypto assets in general, will substitute legal currencies. [...] To achieve that goal,  relevant legislative framework and regulation have to be adopted.”

The report also mentions volatility, limited acceptance and slow payments processing as the key obstacles to the mass adoption of crypto. Regarding statistics on businesses that accept crypto as payment in Chile, BCC stated that the crypto market in the country is “negligible” in comparison to the traditional one.

The document also hints at a possible approach to crypto regulation in Chile. According to the BCC, cryptocurrencies might be treated as intangible assets and a digital representation of value, which converts them into property. In that case, they could be used as a medium of exchange to purchase goods and services without any additional restrictions.

The BCC report comes almost a year after the case involving local crypto exchanges Buda, CryptoMkt and Orionx began. The three firms started a legal battle in April, soon after their banking accounts were closed by several Chilean banks. The antimonopoly court managed to grant protection to the exchanges, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling to keep the accounts closed.

Chile has not yet introduced clear legal framework for regulating cryptocurrency. However, the government seeks to control crypto profits. This January, the Chilean Internal Revenue Service obliged taxpayers to mention crypto gains when they calculate annual income tax, given that crypto falls under the definition of intangible assets.

UK Customs Service Postpones Blockchain-Driven Border Project Until After Brexit

U.K. revenue and customs watchdog postpones the trial of its blockchain solution in the wake of Brexit.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has delayed further work on a successful blockchain project in the wake of Brexit, according to a written parliamentary statement published Feb. 7.

The question about the distributed ledger project for customs needs was raised in the Q&A section on the United Kingdom Parliament’s website. On Jan. 30, Member of Parliament (MP) Eddie Hughes asked whether the government plans to use blockchain for customs systems after the U.K. leaves Europe. He also requested an update on a previously announced trial of the technology.

In response, the financial secretary to the U.K. Treasury, MP Mel Stride, explained that the project involved the development of a permissioned blockchain “that could be used to inform a trader’s ‘Authorised Economic Operator’ status.” Stride also reported that the pilot was trialed for six weeks and “established that government could use Blockchain to securely share the results of sensitive risk checks to improve the efficiencies of certain customs processes.”

However, the MP reported, further development of the solution would require significant work from HMRC and thus has been postponed “until after the U.K. leaves the EU when timescales and cost will be revisited.”

The financial secretary also revealed that the work might continue under the aegis of the Brexit-focused Future Borders Programme, as a part of their trading initiative.

The application of blockchain for customs needs was first announced by HMRC in September 2017 in what appears to be a separate initiative. Back then, the watchdog decided to examine using blockchain to make the border technologically ready for when the U.K. leaves the EU. After Brexit, the country’s customs will reportedly have to handle five times as many declarations than it currently does.

In June 2016, U.K. citizens voted to leave EU, with the country now scheduled to leave the Union on March 29, 2019. However, parties within U.K. have not yet come to a conclusion on how in particular the country is going to deal with various issues, such as trading, citizens' rights of residence and the border with Ireland.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, United States Customs and Border Protection also launched its own blockchain test to trial the use of decentralized technology in its shipment tracking system.

Russia: Cargo Shipping Firm to Use Blockchain in Port Logistics

A Russian cargo shipping firm deploys blockchain in more than ten ports across the country to increase overall capacity.

Russian shipping logistics company Infotech Baltika will develop a blockchain-based system for the ports in which it operates, Russian maritime news outlet Morvesti reported on Feb. 11.

To develop the blockchain-based solution, dubbed Edge.Port, the firm has partnered with Moscow-based blockchain startup Iconic.

The network will reportedly allow participants in port activity to store all necessary documentation on a blockchain. According to Morvesti, all services in port, including vessel parking and tug boat rentals, can be ordered and tracked online via the system, without time-consuming paperwork.

Infotech Baltika told the publication that Edge.Port will enable the firm to reduce the time spent on port operations from four hours to 25 minutes.

Moreover, the use of blockchain could reportedly save up to one hour while the ship is being unloaded. As a result, overall port capacity could increase by 3 to 5 percent, Iconic wrote on its Facebook page today, Feb. 12.

Infotech Baltika claims to operate in 14 ports all over Russia and in several European countries, including Italy and Cyprus. With more than 3,000 ships in operation every year, in 2017 the company was named best cargo shipping performer in St. Petersburg, in terms of the value of goods processed, moving goods valued at over 100 billion rubles (about $1.5 billion).

As Cointelegraph reported earlier, blockchain is currently being widely implemented in the maritime industry, both by port operators and logistics companies. For instance, Israel’s largest cargo shipping company, Zim, recently opened its blockchain platform to all clients in select trades, following a successful pilot.

In August 2018, IBM and Danish transport and logistics giant Maersk launched a global blockchain-enabled shipping solution. The initiative involves 94 organizations and had seen 154 million shipping events captured at the time of launch.

Venezuela Imposes Fees and Limits on Local Crypto Remittances

Venezuela introduces rules for sending crypto remittances, imposing taxes and fees.

The Venezuelan government has introduced regulations for crypto remittances within the country, according to a decree published on Feb. 7 in the country’s official media outlet, Gaceta Oficial.

According to the document, the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (SUNACRIP) will now be responsible for taxation related to the sending and receiving of cryptocurrencies. The new legislation will reportedly be applied both to individuals and legal entities.

According to the new requirements, the state has set out monthly limits and commissions, payable to SUNACRIP, on cryptocurrency remittances.

The decree states that the maximum fee for a transfer has been set at 15 percent. The rules also indicate that the minimum fee for a transaction in crypto is equivalent to 0.25 euros, or approximately $0.28.

The document also sets the monthly limit for crypto remittances in national state-backed digital currency Petro, at 10 Petro per month. According to price information on CryptoCompare, the sum in Petro is equal to about $600.

If the monthly amount exceeds $600, further transactions will require approval from SUNACRIP. The overall limit, the regulator notes, must not surpass 50 Petro, or about $3,000.

The document does not explain how the government is going to control services used to transact in decentralized cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC), except that it will use a “technological platform” to proceed with taxation.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Bitcoin weekly trading volumes in Venezuela have reached a new all-time high amidst massive hyperinflation and an ongoing presidential crisis. Volumes rose to almost $7 million per week on p2p platform LocalBitcoins alone in early February. Moreover, Venezuela and Colombia account for 85 percent of trading volumes on the p2p exchange in Latin America, according to Cointelegraph en Español.

Venezuela introduced a new legal framework for cryptocurrencies and related technologies earlier this month. The decree establishes obligatory licenses for mining entities and crypto exchanges, and introduces fines for unlicensed activities.

UAE Exchange and Payment Platform Unimoni Join Ripple’s Payments Network

Finablr, a major payments and foreign exchange firm based in UAE, joins RippleNet to launch cross-border payments with Thailand.

Finablr, a global payment platform and foreign exchange operator based in the United Arab Emirates, has joined Ripple’s (XRP) RippleNet blockchain network, a press release reveals on Feb. 11.

Finablr's network brands, UAE Exchange and payment platform Unimoni, will use the blockchain-based platform provided by Ripple to complete real-time transactions to Thailand. The firm also reported it has plans to expand the services to other countries in future.

As per the press release, the first partner in the service major Thai bank, Siam Commercial Bank, letting UAE Exchange and Unimoni customers globally send money to Thailand. The bank has been working with RippleNet since September 2018, when it became the platform’s first financial institution to trial a key feature dubbed “multi-hop.”

Navin Gupta, Managing Director of South Asia and MENA at Ripple, believes that joining a blockchain network with over 100-member banks and financial institutions will let UAE Exchange provide more efficient services to its customers.

In February 2018, UAE Exchange first partnered with Ripple for cross-border payments. Towards the end of 2018, the exchange — reportedly the largest payments firm in the Middle East to use RippleNet — revealed that blockchain-based remittances to Asia would be available by Q1 2019.

The UAE itself is actively exploring crypto and blockchain-related technologies. Recently, the country agreed to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to launch a cross-border digital currency. The UAE central bank further revealed that the digital currency, dubbed “Aber,” will only be available for a limited number of banks in the two countries while the technology is being tested.

A subsidiary of Siam Commercial Bank previously partnered with global management consultancy firm Accenture to launch a blockchain tool aimed at supply chains.

Fundstrat Expects 2019 to Bring Incremental Improvements Supporting Higher Crypto Prices

Fundstrat Global Advisors issues its 2019 crypto outlook stating that the major coins will soon recover.

New York-based research company Fundstrat Global Advisors has released its 2019 crypto outlook on Friday, Feb. 8. The analysts describe incremental improvements that will purportedly support higher prices for cryptocurrencies.

Tom Lee, Fundstrat’s co-founder and pro-crypto Wall Street analyst, commented on the study in his Twitter. He posted an introduction to the study and infographics that trace key market tendencies from 2017 to now.

“We see 9 incremental improvements in the landscape that ultimately support higher prices,” Lee’s tweet states.

The preview of the introduction chapter provides a brief assessment of 2018, which, according to Fundstrat, has brought a lot of disappointment.

The analysts state that negative headwinds, such as the initial coin offering (ICO) post-hangover, adverse regulatory developments and excessive exuberance have reversed some of crypto’s achievements, including the launch of the Lightning Network and wallet growth. As a result, the year was more like a “morning after sobering”, the report reads.

However, in 2019, the situation will slowly start to change. Fundstrat believes it is still too early to talk about mass adoption, but notes that cryptocurrency prices will likely see a visible recovery:

“Is 2019 the mainstream breakout year? Nope. But that is not necessary for crypto prices to eventually bottom in 2019, and by the end of 2019, we expect prices to be staging a visible recovery.”

At a macro level, the report names the expected weakening of the United States dollar as a first reason behind Bitcoin (BTC) price recovery. Fundstrat’s analysts also believe that emerging market equities will outperform U.S. stocks and bonds, thus creating a friendly environment for crypto.

The outlook further states that much anticipated institutional investments will also increase in 2019 due to the developments in custody solutions and over-the-counter (OTC) trading, thus contributing to the crypto price recovery.

Moreover, Fundstrat mentions that the overall interest in crypto might be stimulated by Binance’s recent decision to support credit card crypto purchases, along with the rumors that major companies like Bitfury and Bitmain might consider conducting initial public offerings (IPO).

The release of the report coincided with a market recovery that started Friday, Feb. 8. Bitcoin broke the $3,600 price point and has managed to stay above it for three days in a row at press time, while other major currencies saw double-digit gains on that day.

Late in 2018, Tom Lee announced that he will no longer give any further predictions on Bitcoin’s price. However, the analyst still thinks that $25,000 is a fair price for the world’s top currency, noting that the coin’s fair value could even reach $150,000.м

Major Currencies Gradually Roll Back After Short Recovery, Bitcoin Stays Over $3,600

The top cryptocurrencies are gradually rolling back after a recent short recovery.

Sunday, Feb. 10 — while Bitcoin (BTC) is managing to stay above the $3,600 price point for the third day in a row, other major cryptocurrencies are mostly in the red as the markets gradually roll back after short recovery, Coin360 data shows.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

BTC has been trading sideways during the last 24 hours, but the coin is still above over its psychological threshold of $3,600 at press time. As Cointelegraph previously reported, the top currency gained over $200 in value on Friday, Feb. 8, hitting $3,691 at some point during that day.

Also this week, BTC daily transaction volume almost reached levels it had not seen since January 2018, when world’s top cryptocurrency was worth close to $20,000.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP) — currently the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency — has seen almost a 3 percent decline and is now trading around $0.3. Its market capitalization has shrunk in last 24 hours to a total of $12.5 billion in comparison to yesterday’s $12.7 billion.

Ripple 7-day price chart

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

However, XRP still surpasses Ethereum (ETH), the next largest crypto, by market cap. ETH has also lost over 2 percent in price throughout the day and is hovering around $115. Its market cap is now around $12.3 billion after reaching $12.5 billion at some point on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Ethereum 7-day price chart

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies, which peaked at over $122 billion at some point on Feb. 9, has also gone down to approximately $120.1 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. The daily trading volume for the last 24 hours is around $18 billion.

Total market capitalization 7-day chart

Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Binance Coin (BNB) and Maker (MKR) are the only gainers among the top 20 cryptocurrencies on the day. BNB, currently the 10th largest coin by market cap, has been continuously growing since Feb. 6. The currency has been up almost 7 percent and is trading at about $9.2 as of press time. MKR, in its turn, is up 3.2 percent on the day and is hovering around $450.

Other major currencies are mostly in the red, seeing slight to visible losses. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Tron (TRX) have lost the most, both down about 4 percent, according to CoinMarketCap.

In industry news, the CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Jeff Sprecher has said he expects the firm’s much anticipated digital asset platform Bakkt to launch later in 2019.

Moreover, the commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission Heister Peirce, who is labeled “Crypto Mom” for her attitude to the industry, spoke out on the regulation issues in U.S in a recent speech. She believes that the lack of clear legal framework for crypto allows technology to come into its own.

Lawyers for Israeli Crypto Entrepreneur Say White Paper Confers No Legal Responsibility

Moshe Hageg’s lawyers claim that the white paper is a descriptive, non-binding document.

Moshe Hogeg, the Israeli entrepreneur behind blockchain firm Stox (STX), has denied misappropriating investors’ funds in a response to the lawsuit filed against him. Online newspaper The Times of Israel reported the development on Saturday, Feb. 9.

As Cointelegraph wrote earlier in January, Chinese investor Zhewen Hu has sued Stox and its founder for $4.6 million. Hu claims to have invested a total of around $3.8 million worth of Ethereum (ETH) in an open source, Ethereum-based prediction market platform.

According to the lawsuit, Hu’s anticipation was that the successful development of Stox’s prediction market platform would boost the value of the native STX token. However, the plaintiff believes that only $5 million of successfully raised $34 million went to fund Stox.

Moreover, Hu alleges that Hogeg used the rest of the amount to invest in other initial coin offerings (ICO) such as messaging app Telegram’s ICO, which was conducted in April 2018.

Nonetheless, in a response to the suit filed on Feb. 5, Hogeg’s lawyers wrote that the Stox white paper is of “a descriptive nature only and not binding.” That said, the document did not present any obligatory program and therefore confers no legal responsibility on its issuers, Hogeg’s attorneys concluded.

According to the The Times of Israel, Hogeg has denied any wrongdoing, describing the lawsuit as an “extortion attempt.” He argues that the STX token is not a security and does not grant any ownership rights in the company, apparently citing Stox’s contribution terms.

In addition, as STX Technologies Limited is a Gibraltar-based entity, Hogeg believes Israel is not the proper jurisdiction to proceed with the case.

Hogeg is known for his involvement in several crypto-related ventures: he founded blockchain smartphone developer Sirin Labs, along with serving as chairman of LeadCoin, a blockchain-based decentralized lead-sharing network.

The Times of Israel notes that Hogeg has spent several million dollars on different projects within the last few months. For instance, the entrepreneur bought Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel’s top soccer clubs, for $7.2 million late August. He also made a $1.9 million donation to Tel Aviv University in order to establish the “Hogeg Institute for Blockchain Applications.”

Cointelegraph has reported that the Stox ICO was promoted by professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. In a separate case, the boxer faced charges from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for unlawful promotional activities around crypto startup Centra Tech’s ICO in September 2017. The boxer agreed to pay $300,000 in disgorgement, a $300,000 penalty and $14,775 in prejudgment interest.

SEC ‘Crypto Mom’: Delay in Crypto Regulation May Allow More Freedom for Technology

Hester Peirce believes the lack of clear crypto regulation allows more freedom for the industry to come into its own.

A commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Friday, Feb. 8, that the delay in establishing crypto regulation may allow more freedom for the industry to move on its own.

Heister Peirce, who is widely known as the “Crypto Mom” in the community for her dissent against the SEC’s decision to reject a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposed by the Winklevoss twins, made the comments in a speech on the issues of state regulation at the University of Missouri School of Law.

Discussing the current delays in delivering a clearer legal framework for crypto, Peirce said that ambiguity is not that bad. She further explained:

“We might be able to draw clearer lines once we see more blockchain projects mature. Delay in drawing clear lines may actually allow more freedom for the technology to come into its own.”

The commissioner noticed that the process of regulating a new industry might be lengthy, and stressed that the SEC has to act appropriately in order to enable the industry to evolve without compromising the current laws:

“If we act appropriately, we can enable innovation on this new frontier to proceed without compromising the objectives of our securities laws — protecting investors, facilitating capital formation, and ensuring fair, orderly, and efficient markets.”

On the other hand, however, overregulation sometimes takes place, Peirce lamented. She stated that enforcement actions are not her preferred method for setting expectations for crypto investors. Moreover, she added that some crypto projects are simply unable to make any progress within existing framework, because “securities laws make them unworkable.”

Peirce also believes that the SEC is sometimes too hesitant in dealing with crypto projects, and that investors willing to raise money might be deluded by this excessive caution:

“We rightfully fault investors for jumping blindly at anything labeled crypto, but at times we seem to be equally impulsive in running away from anything labeled crypto. We owe it to investors to be careful, but we also owe it to them not to define their investment universe with our preferences.”

Peirce concludes that the U.S. Congress might resolve the ambiguities related to crypto by simply requiring that at least some digital assets should be treated as a separate asset class.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, such an initiative has already been introduced to the House of Representatives in late December 2018. In the bill, two U.S. representatives seek to exclude digital currencies from being defined as securities by amending the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Act of 1934.

Earlier this year, Peirce had admitted trying to convince her colleagues “to have a bit more of an open mind” when it comes to crypto adoption, but warned that it might take a long time. Back then, she also urged investors not to hold their breath waiting for a BTC ETF, as in her opinion, it might happen tomorrow or in 20 years.

Intercontinental Exchange CEO: Bakkt Will Launch Later This Year

The Intercontinental Exchange expects its much-anticipated crypto platform Bakkt to bring up to $25 million in expenses and launch “later this year.”

The CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) expects the firm’s digital asset platform Bakkt to launch later in 2019. The comment was made by ICE CEO Jeff Sprecher during an earnings call Thursday, Feb. 7.

The call was dedicated to ICE’s financial results for Q4 and the full year of 2018. Sprecher explained that the company spent over $1 billion on strategic initiatives, including on the launch of the digital asset platform.

ICE operates 23 leading global exchanges, along with the New York Stock Exchange.

The company’s CFO, Scott Hill, further revealed his expectations on the expenses Bakkt is set to bring, based on its current financial performance:

“And finally, our investment in Bakkt will generate $20 million to $25 million of expense based upon the run rate in the first quarter. We will update you on progress at Bakkt and the level of investment as we move through the year.”

When asked about the expected returns or revenue growth from recent investments, including Bakkt, Sprecher characterized the crypto platform as a “moonshot bet” for ICE:

“So it's a bit of a moonshot bet and it's been organized in a manner that is very different than the way ICE typically does businesses [...] They're well along in building out an infrastructure that I think you'll see launch later this year.”

Sprecher added that Bakkt exists independently from ICE, as it has its own offices, management team and infrastructure. He stressed that the project’s infrastructure has already attracted a number of high-profile investors and partners, including Starbucks and Microsoft — as Cointelegraph previously reported.

Hill concluded that Bakkt is more of a long-term project rather than a 2019-focused agenda. “I think Bakkt is really an investment [...] That's more about the future and revenue and market opportunities that we see in the future and less about 2019 topline,” Hill said.

ICE first announced the launch of its digital asset platform in August 2018. The company was set to launch in early 2019, but the date was delayed due to the ongoing consultations with the United States Commodity Futures and Trading Commission.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, ICE announced that it has finalized its first acquisition of assets in futures commission merchant Rosenthal Collins Group, which was first announced in mid-January.

Cryptos See Mild Movements After Market Surge, Bitcoin Holds Above $3,600

The crypto markets are seeing mixed, mild signals, while Bitcoin manages to stay above $3,600 for the second day in a row.

Saturday, Feb. 9 — as Coin360 data shows, major cryptocurrencies are facing a mix of mild gains and losses, following a major market surge since yesterday. Bitcoin (BTC) is holding steady above the $3,600 price point.

Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

BTC gained over $200 in value on Friday, Feb. 8, reaching a multi-week high of $3,691 throughout the day. The top currency continued to trade sideways today, before stabilizing to press time around $3,660.

BTC

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

BTC daily transaction volume is steadily growing, according to transactionfee.info stats. As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, the indicator has almost reached the levels BTC had back in January 2018, when world’s top currency was worth close to $20,000.

Ripple (XRP), currently the second largest cryptocurrency, has lost about 1 percent in price on the day and is currently trading near $0.31. Its market capitalization is over $12.7 billion — about $260 million more than the next largest crypto, Ethereum (ETH).

XRP

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

ETH price is hovering around $119. Throughout the week the currency mostly traded sideways near $110, dropping to an intra-week low of $103 on Feb. 6. Yesterday’s market growth brought ETH prices back to the rates seen in late January.

ETH

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Earlier today, total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies peaked over $122 billion, before dropping back down to $121 million later, according to CoinMarketCap. The daily trading volume for the last 24 hours is around $20.2 billion.

Total market capitalization

Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Binance Coin (BNB), Maker (MKR) and Litecoin (LTC) are the major gainers on the day. BNB, currently the 10th largest coin by market cap, has gained close to 3 percent, seeing fairly steady growth since Feb. 6. MKR is up 3.2 percent, while LTC is up 3.5 percent on the day. Litecoin saw double-digit growth starting yesterday, surging above Eos (EOS) to claim 4th largest cryptocurrency.

Among the top twenty coins, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Tron (TRX) have lost the most value on the day, both down about 2 percent as of press time.

In industry news, Bakkt, the much-anticipated digital assets platform operated by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has closed its first acquisition. The move marks the finalization of an acquisition of assets in futures commission merchant Rosenthal Collins Group.

In a win for adoption, Argentina’s state public transport card SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico) can now be topped up using Bitcoin.

NYSE Operator’s Crypto Platform Bakkt Finalizes Its First Acquisition

Bakkt, a digital asset platform operated by the NYSE’s parent company, finalizes the acquisition of assets from futures commission merchant Rosenthal Collins Group.

Bakkt, the much-anticipated digital assets platform operated by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has closed its first acquisition, a tweet from the company revealed Feb. 8.

The move marks the finalization of an acquisition of assets in futures commission merchant Rosenthal Collins Group (RCG). “With today’s closing of our transaction with Rosenthal Collins Group, we welcome great new team members to Bakkt,” the statement reads. By acquiring certain assets in the company, Bakkt said it hopes:

“RCG’s remarkable heritage, culture and expertise will help us build out a trusted institutional infrastructure for digital assets.”

Bakkt had announced the acquisition of assets in RCG in mid-January. As the company’s CEO, Kelly Loeffler, explained at the time, the acquisition means that the company is slowing down operations while awaiting regulatory approval by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for the launch of regulated trading in crypto markets.

Loeffler also added that the acquisition will allegedly expand Bakkt’s risk management and treasury operations with systems and expertise, and might contribute to Bakkt’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) policies.

On Thursday, Feb 7, ICE — the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange and over 20 other major exchanges — had its Q4 2018 earnings call. During the hour-long call, ICE CFO Scott Hill mentioned Bakkt, saying the firm’s investment in the digital assets platform “will generate $20 million to $25 million of expense based upon the run rate in the first quarter.” Later in the call, ICE’s chairman and CEO, Jeff Sprecher, called Bakkt a “moonshot bet.”

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Bakkt was first announced by ICE in August 2018. In late December, ICE reported it will update the launch of the Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract launch timeline in early 2019, in accordance with the CFTC’s approval process.

More recently, Bakkt published a list of eight evidently new vacancies at the company, all of which are based in Atlanta and New York City.

Argentina’s State Public Transport Card SUBE Accepts Bitcoin

Argentinian public transport card SUBE, used in 37 locations across the country, now accepts Bitcoin.

Argentinian state public transport card SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico) can now be topped up using Bitcoin (BTC), Cointelegraph in Spanish reported Friday, Feb. 8.

Alto Viaje, a platform for adding money to SUBE cards, has partnered with Bitex, which provides blockchain-driven financial services to businesses. As a result of the partnership, the SUBE card can now be funded using BTC, via Alto Viaje’s website.

Cointelegraph spoke to Manuel Beaudroit, CMO at Bitex, who said that SUBE — that can be used to travel by train, bus and subway — is used by over seven million people in 37 locations in Argentina. He explained that Alto Viaje has previously  worked with PayPal and Rapipago, an Argentinian digital payments system.

Beaudroit further explained that the main goal of the partnership is to give people wider access to “such a revolutionary technology, as Bitcoin.”

The technology provider behind SUBE is Argentina’s Nacion Servicios S.A., a subsidiary of Banco de la Nación Argentina, the country’s national bank.

As Cointelegraph reported previously, major U.K. public transport provider Go-Ahead Group Plc. has recently partnered with a blockchain startup DOVU to introduce a tokenized rewards system for rail customers. Following the agreement, DOVU will launch a platform, which uses a native  ERC-20 token, DOV, to reward members for sharing their travel data.

Bitfinex Resumes Trading After Unexpected 2-Hour Outage as Crypto Markets Surge

Hong Kong-based Bitfinex unexpectedly went offline for all users this morning, afterwards citing problems with “connectivity.”

Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex notified users in a tweet Saturday, Feb. 9, that it had temporarily gone offline for all users, as crypto markets saw major gains.

Initially, the company wrote that the platform was unavailable only “to some users” and apologized for the inconvenience, without specifying a cause for the outage.

However, about thirty minutes later, Bitfinex clarified that it had gone offline for all of its users, citing a “poor [...] choice of wording” as the reason for the misinformation. The full statement reads:

“We apologise for our previous tweet. In the rush to make users aware of our issue promptly, we were poor in the choice of wording. We can confirm Bitfinex is offline to all users. Please be assured that funds are safe. We will communicate here with further updates.”

After remaining inaccessible to users for a little over two hours, the exchange announced it is back up and running with full functionality.

In the most recent tweet from the exchange, the firm cited issues with “connectivity” as the reason behind the temporary shutdown, stating:

“The issue that caused this downtime was attributed to connectivity. [...] Your safety is our top priority and we can confirm that all funds were safe during this period.”

Bitfinex is currently the world’s 18th largest crypto exchange by adjusted daily trade volumes, according to CoinMarketCap.

Almost all top 100 coins on CoinMarketCap are seeing major growth on the day to press time, with top ten coins up as much as 20 percent.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the recent Exchange Security Report from independent analysts at ICORating has given 16 percent of the world’s biggest crypto trading platforms an A rating, and none of them an A+. According to the study that reviewed 135 crypto exchanges, Bitfinex ranked 5th for most secure exchanges globally, with an A- rating.

More recently, Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX has become embroiled in controversy following the sudden death of its CEO. According to the exchange, the firm has lost access to users’ funds — allegedly stored on cold wallets — because its CEO was the only person with access to them.

US Crypto Exchange Coinbase Adds Bitcoin Support to Coinbase Wallet App

U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase adds BTC support to its Coinbase Wallet — a secure app that allows users to store their own crypto.

United States cryptocurrency exchange and wallet Coinbase has added Bitcoin (BTC) to its Coinbase Wallet app, according to an announcement published Tuesday, Feb. 5.

In August 2018, Coinbase had announced that Toshi, the open source decentralized app browser and wallet developed by Coinbase, will rebrand to become Coinbase Wallet.

As explained by the crypto exchange, Coinbase Wallet is slightly different from the main app, Coinbase (or Coinbase.com). With the latter, the cryptocurrencies purchased by customer and the private keys are stored by Coinbase. With Coinbase Wallet, users stores their own crypto protected by their unique private keys.

The new update for Coinbase Wallet will be rolled out for iOS and Android next week. Bitcoin support will be activated by default, as soon as users choose to receive the coin to the wallet. The users’ private keys will be encrypted on the phone using Secure Enclave technology.

The announcement states that Coinbase Wallet supports both SegWit and Legacy addresses. Moreover, the app supports the Bitcoin Testnet for developers and power users. Coinbase also mentioned again that it is considering adding add Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and other major cryptocurrencies to its Coinbase Wallet.

Earlier yesterday, Feb. 5, Coinbase launched support for European Union residents to make fiat currency withdrawals to online payment system PayPal. And in January, the U.S. exchange added resources for customers in the U.S. to claim crypto trades on their taxes, and integrated its systems with popular tax software TurboTax.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, cryptocurrency hardware wallet firm Ledger has unveiled its new Bluetooth-based wallet Ledger Nano X that will allow customers to store 100 crypto assets and control them via a mobile device.

Another major crypto wallet, Blockchain.com, has recently added partial support for Bitcoin SV (BSV), noting, however, that it has no plans to offer full functionality for the crypto at present.

CEO of Canadian Crypto Exchange QuadrigaCX Filed Will 12 Days Before Death

Gerald Cotten, recently deceased CEO of Canadian QuadrigaCX, reportedly left all of assets to his wife.

Gerald Cotten, the recently deceased CEO of major Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX, had filed a will 12 days before his death, Bloomberg writes Tuesday, Feb. 5.

According to the documents obtained by Bloomberg, Cotten signed his last will and testament on Nov. 27, 2018. He mentioned his wife, Jennifer Robertson, as the only beneficiary and the executor to his estate.

Bloomberg has learned that Robertson will inherit several properties in Nova Scotia, where the couple lived, and in Kelowna, British Columbia, as well as a Lexus, a Jeanneau 51 yacht, an airplane and his two pet chihuahuas.

Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX has faced financial difficulty since its CEO Gerald Cotten reportedly died of complications from Crohn’s disease in December 2018.

According to a January affidavit filed by Robertson, Cotten was the only person to have access to QuadrigaCX wallets, and the CEO had not left any evidence of passwords. The reported number of users affected is over 100,000, with around $250 million CAD ($190 million USD) in cryptocurrency and fiat currency purportedly lost.

Bloomberg reports that several QuadrigaCX users have retained lawyers to instigate proceedings to receive their funds, however noting that the court has given the exchange a 30-day stay to prevent lawsuits during this time.

Cotten’s death sparked controversy in the crypto community, with some customers claiming he faked his death to steal their assets. However, later a death certificate, issued by the Government of Rajasthan’s Directorate of Economics and Statistics, was unveiled, which stated that Gerald William Cotten died on Dec. 9.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier, a court-ordered lawyer will receive the encrypted laptop — which allegedly contains the crypto reserves — from QuadrigaCX representatives. Moreover, the crypto exchange’s lawyers are considering selling the company to cover the debts, as revealed at a court case held yesterday, Feb. 5.

Breaking: Lawyers Might Sell QuadrigaCX to Settle Debts

The laptop of recently deceased Gerald Cotten will be given to lawyers, and the crypto exchange might be sold to satisfy debts.

A court-ordered lawyer will get the encrypted laptop of recently deceased CEO of major Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX Gerald Cotten, Canadian broadcast network CBC reports Tuesday, Feb. 5.

According to CBC, the laptop that might provide access to $190 million of QuadrigaCX customer funds will be given to a monitor — an independent third party who is appointed by the court to monitor the company's operations during bankruptcy procedures. According to Jack Julian, CBC's reporter who is attending the hearing in Nova Scotia’s court today, Feb. 5, the laptop was previously held by QuadrigaCX representatives.

As the assets were stored in a cold wallet, the court believes that the QuadrigaCX case is not a typical bankruptcy. The creditors might consider changing the jurisdiction to proceed with the case, Julian writes in his Twitter, citing the monitor.

CBC’s reporter also adds that QuadrigaCX has asked for a 30-day stay of proceedings — which will end on Mar. 7 — to search for the $190 million that is apparently inaccesible following Cotten's death. In case the keys are not found, the lawyers representing QuadrigaCX are considering selling the company in order to satisfy the debts.

Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX has faced financial difficulty since its CEO Gerald Cotten reportedly died of complications from Crohn’s disease in December 2018.

As some of the customers have expressed their concerns about Cotten’s death, Coindesk has recently published a death certificate, issued by the Government of Rajasthan’s Directorate of Economics and Statistics, which was obtained from an informed source. It states that Gerald William Cotten died on Dec. 9, and Jennifer Robertson is mentioned as his widow.

According to a January affidavit filed by Cotten’s wife, the exchange apparently has no access to its wallets, and the CEO had not left evidence of passwords. The reported number of users affected is 115,000, with around $250 million CAD ($190 million USD) in cryptocurrency and fiat currency lost.

Head of Russia’s Second Largest Bank Compares Crypto Mining to Counterfeiting

The head of VTB compares crypto mining with printing fake money, says crypto will have a very small market niche in the future.

Andrey Kostin — the head of VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank — has compared cryptocurrency mining with counterfeiting, major Russian news agency TASS reports Monday, Feb. 4.

While speaking to students who participated in an educational contest organized by major Russian tech corporation Yandex, Kostin said:

“I am not a big fan of the crypto ruble. To me, this is a kind of counterfeiting. A person who is mining [cryptocurrencies] is similar to someone who is printing money. During the initial euphoria, everyone thought that everything can be paid in crypto starting tomorrow, but it hasn’t happened so far.”

Kostin believes there will be a relatively small market niche for cryptocurrencies in the foreseeable future, for as the global financial industry is getting more and more transparent, offshore holdings are gradually disappearing.

Moreover, the banker believes that there is no relevant way to regulate the crypto area in the same way that the traditional markets are regulated. If cryptocurrencies become dominant on the financial markets, it can be dangerous, Kostin concluded.

However, the board chairman at VTB, Olga Dergunova, does not share Kostin’s stance. In June 2018, Dergunova claimed that VTB was potentially ready to work with digital assets. Moreover, she said that they could be treated on an equal basis with fiat in the near future.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the demand for cryptocurrencies in Russia is allegedly very high, but the banks are not able to meet it due to the lack of clearly defined regulations. During a closed-door meeting in September 2018, several Russian banks including Sberbank, Alfa-Bank and VTB reportedly expressed their interest in crypto.

Russia’s cryptocurrency and blockchain legislation, which had passed its first reading stage in March 2018, has since been sent back for further edits. At the end of January, the chairman of the upper house of the country’s parliament urged legislators to expedite their work on the digital economy bills.