Libra Noise Cancellation: Tune Out The Poiticians, Libra Is Going To Happen

In spite of all the bluster, partners bailing, and constant congressional hearings, we’d put our money on Libra eventually being a things and Facebook getting what it wants – its own native payments system. Call it crypto, call it ‘paypal next’, call it whatever you want, but it is going to happen. It just might look, sound, and feel different than what the social media giant initially envisioned.

Meanwhile, the furor over the controversial Libra has begun to take a more political undertone, both within and outside the United States. Arguments for and against the project now seem to include issues surrounding the trade war between the U.S. and China.”

“In Europe, China’s response to Facebook’s crypto project (the creation of yuan-pegged digital currency) and Libra itself, have sparked some commentators calling on the European Central Bank to adopt a digital currency for the EU. In some ways, it appears Libra has ignited a new currency war, one that might take place in the digital realm, with several counties floating their own central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).”

“For Libra, the regulatory hassle might constitute only part of its trouble, as the project could face stiff competition from payment giants, especially in China and other parts of Asia. Some of these payment companies are already identifying Libra as a potential competitor ahead of its launch.”

Whether it executes specifically on its initial mission, or some ‘frankenstein’ version of Libra emerges after checking itself out of the regulatory hospital – you can still bet that the powers that be at Facebook will eventually prevail. Libra will happen.

Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and a number of other acquisitions (don’t forget the dummies at Snap that should’ve sold to FB); Zuckerberg always gets what he wants.

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Bakkt Update: Consumer App Is Coming, Starbucks Partnership Takes Shape

The intrigue around Bakkt and the scale of their operations continues to take shape. Not only are all of the ‘levers’ in place; given that their parent company and full scale architectrue backed by ICE and its myriad commodities platforms – but the Starbucks partnership has always held significant intrigue. Today’s Medium post begins to shed some light on what that will look like.

“While users are exposed to digital assets including bitcoin, cashbacks and rewards, Bakkt highlighted their efforts in supporting “a superset of digital assets, including cryptocurrencies as seamlessly as investors transact in stocks in a retail brokerage account.” Moreover, the company also shared its vision is to provide a consumer platform for managing a digital asset portfolio, “whether they wish to store, transact, trade or transfer their assets.”

“Based on his past experiences, Mike Blandina, Bakkt’s Chief Product Officer mentioned, that by driving more integration and efficiency across digital wallets, transaction processing and payment acceptance, “there are meaningful opportunities for merchants and consumers to seamlessly interact using digital assets in ways that have not been previously considered.” To sum up Bakkt’s efforts, Blandina said that Bakkt’s focus will be on four key areas: digital asset infrastructure, marketplace access, maximizing control and establishing trust.”

Starbucks remains the largest app based payments ecosystem in the United States – boasting better than 27M users – larger than Apple pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay. Bakkt hitching its consumer facing strategy to Starbucks is as good a decision as we’ve seen in the crypto space; remarkable even. 

The relative ‘efficacy’ of the partnership is yet to be seen, and it should be said that the partnership with Microsoft focused on things like encryption and user funds safety may ultimately be the bigger deal. Still, the branding cache’ and headlines play really, really well.

You’d do well to never bet against Sprecher and his squad, They have a long history of winning in the financial markets. So far, even with the delays, Bakkt remains in an enviable position.

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CME Bitcoin Futures Expand: Further Proof That Institutions Are Starting To ‘Get It’

When the needle begins to move it may be to late for the huddled masses to benefit from reasonable Bitcoin price levels. Global banking institutions continue to push real capital into Bitcoin and the flagship futures contracts at the CME have made that clear.

CME launched its Bitcoin futures contracts in December 2017 and since then it has attracted a ton of institutional interest towards the Bitcoin derivatives market. Each CME contract consists of 5 BTC which is settled at the end of each month. The Bitcoin futures volume on CME is also a great indication of market sentiment as investors usually go short in a bear market and start hedging long in the bull market.

Despite the price tussle in the last month, institutional investors have started to go bullish on Bitcoin again, as evident from the increasing number of investors going long on CME’s Bitcoin Futures market. Several crypto analytical firms have recently revealed that the number of investors going long on Bitcoin has started to rise again, after falling to almost zero. Currently, the long-holdings on CME have just gone above 1,100.

No longer is Bitcoin viewed as just a cypherpunk movement via’ neckbeards’ and anarchists. Those days are long gone – and have been replaced by commitments from Fidelity, CME, Bakkt (of the Intercontinental Exchange family), Microsoft and other corporate behemoths. In other words, CME volumes are just starting to catch up to the underlying architecture and dialogue. Long term, it seems higher BTC prices are ahead.

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Poloniex Pursuit: Former Crypto Exchange Volume Leader Hits Reset, Circle Spins Off

Back in late 2017 Poloniex was the place to be in crypto. The hands down volume leader and alt-coin king that managed nearly 60% of stated crypto exchange trading volume. Those halcyon days are long past and Poloniex now processes less than 1% of the industry’s trading volume. One could call Circle’s $400M acquisition a disaster, but that might just be a bit too kind.

Via Poloniex’s blog today:

” We are excited to announce that we are spinning out from Circle into a new company, Polo Digital Assets, Ltd., with the backing of a major investment group. The spinout will free us to focus on the needs of global crypto traders with new features, assets and services. Our first new offer to Poloniex traders is that effective October 21, 2019, all spot trading fees will be reduced to 0% until the end of the year. Poloniex intends to continue beyond that with highly competitive and creative pricing models for traders.”

The advent of KYC and AML destroyed Poloniex’s leadership position as most users ignored the new regulatory requests and took their account, eventually, to Binance. Binance, of course, is the current leader amongst crypto exchanges when it comes to volume.

Poloniex attempt to shift back to a stand alone entitiy as well as ‘re-brand’ is interesting and worth watching. But a ‘death spiral’ is just that when it comes to exchange volume. Volume is the game when it comes to any exchange anywhere, in crypto or in traditional finance. Cut and dried. Two years go Poloniex was the unquestioned volume leader; now, they are just a footnote.

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Bitso Is The Belle Of The Ball: Who’s Who Of Crypto Invest In Mexico-based Exchange

Bitso is this weeks ‘it’ girl, grabbing investment dollars from Ripple, Coinbase, Jump Capital, DGC, and Pantera. A literal who’s who of investment partners that have decided there is plenty of value still to be extracted from the trading of digital assets abroad.

” As reported by crypto publication The Block, the new investment round also involves major investors including United States-based crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase, Jump Capital as well as existing investors such as Digital Currency Group and Pantera Capital. The amount of investment has not been disclosed.”

Even though the amount of the investment has yet to be disclosed, you can bet it isn’t a peasants wage. One of, if not the most, profitable areas of the crypto space is the exchange ecosystem. BitMex and Binance regularly book revenues in the tens of millions, if not hundreds, on a quarterly basis. The consortium of investors are betting that their capital and advice could serve to push Bitso into that same stratosphere.

According to the report, the raised funds will help Bitso expand its business to Argentina and Brazil, among other Latin American countries.

As noted by Ripple, Bitso is the largest Mexican crypto exchange that was established in 2014 with a purpose to provide financial services for both banked and unbanked with blockchain technology and digital assets. To date, the customer base of the exchange accounts for 750,000 users.

Noting that its partnership with Bitso takes roots from the company’s beginning in 2014, Ripple says that the firm plays an important role in RippleNet’s United States-Mexican corridor by providing liquidity for payments. Earlier in 2019, Ripple launched On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) capabilities with MoneyGram into Mexico, where Bitso was a key exchange partner, Ripple added.

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Bitwise ETF Denied; Bitcoin ETF Strategy Adjusts, May Follow VanEck

In an expected move the SEC denied the ETF submission of Bitwise and penned a long and detailed ‘opinion paper’ that documented the decision. That decision was widely expected by experts across the crypto ecosystem, and yet developments have ensued. Most notably, Bitwise’s response to the decision.

The verdict on Bitwise’s ETF proposal had seen multiple delays prior to this week’s final decision, which the SEC had no choice but to make, according to statutory rules. The news release states:

“We deeply appreciate the SEC’s careful review. The detailed feedback they have provided in the Order provides critical context and a clear pathway for ETF applicants to continue moving forward on efforts to list a bitcoin ETF. […] We look forward to continuing to productively engage with the SEC to resolve their remaining concerns, and intend to re-file as soon as appropriate.”

Bitwise’s response denotes a path forward, but hedges with “…re-file as soon as appropriate.” That doesn’t say ‘as soon as possible’ – an important distinction.

“We’re closer than we’ve ever been before to getting a Bitcoin ETF approved,” CEO Matt Hougan told mainstream media on Oct. 7. 

Still, more than a year-long dialogue with regulators has not been for nothing, says the company, concluding:

“While we were not able to satisfy the SEC’s concerns inside the statutory 240-day review window afforded these filings, and while they have identified the need for additional data and context to interpret our key findings, we are pleased with the progress that the industry has made and believe that, with additional research and continued progress in the broader ecosystem, the remaining concerns and challenges raised in this order will ultimately be satisfied.”

In September, another ETF proposal, this time from VanEck and SolidX, was withdrawn by its sponsors. VanEck, notably decided on a wholly separate route that has seen the firm garner significant institutional interest in its Bitcoin product.

We wonder, will Bitwise choose a similar path, somewhat dodging regulators altogether, ergo; ultimately forcing their hand? Time will tell.

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MARK CUBAN: Bitcoin, Gold, and Bananas? Cuban Is All Over The Place On BTC

Mark Cuban is a renowned entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner, TV personality, and highly sought after interview. But a crypto expert he is not. In a far ranging interview the topic of Bitcoin and crypto were raised and ‘The Cubes’ was all over the place; at times sounding like a no-coiner and others like a hodler.

“I say it’s like gold. Gold is a religion: people who are really into gold — they’ll tell you that there’s a bad depression and things go to hell in a handbasket, if you own gold then you’ll be okay. No, you won’t! You carry around a gold bar — someone’s gonna hit your ass, knock you out and steal your gold bar and it’s gonna happen again and again and again. I’d rather have bananas, I can eat bananas. Crypto… Not so much.”

Comparing Bitcoin to gold is a reasonable position and not necessarily out of the mainstream. But that isn’t where he stops.

“Did you ever see someone who collected baseball cards? And they were really, really, really proud of their baseball cards because they kept saying they were going to go up in price? Comic books — same thing, even artwork. There’s no real intrinsic value, you can’t eat a baseball card […] Your artwork might look good on the wall but not much you can do with it. Bitcoin — there’s even less you can do with it: at least I can look at my baseball card […] I can look at artwork.”

I don’t know, the high end art markets have performed pretty well over the past decade. Cuban goes on to echo one of Warren Buffet’s lamest Bitcoin takes, connecting the digital asset to being valued at ‘whatever someone will pay for it’. Which of course is the literal definition of value in a free market economy. Lulz.

“Here’s the thing about crypto, particularly Bitcoin: Bitcoin is worth what somebody will pay for it.”

But as the interview comes to a close, Cuban comes full circle and all but proves that he probably holds some Bitcoin in his portfolio.

“Look, all I am saying is to be careful what you invest in. At worst Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are ‘stored value’, I’m not sure what they are at their best.”

Bananas, baseball cards, artwork, gold, and yet, stored value. A crypto expert Mark Cuban is not.

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JP MORGAN COIN: Privacy Is Paramount; Bank Aims To Hide Transaction Details

JP Morgan seems to be listening to some of the serious discussions within the crypto community. Specifically, the issue of privacy. And while most wouldn’t associate the largest bank in the world with the idea of privacy they seem to be taking notes as to what matters most to the movement: privacy.

**before we go further let’s make one thing clear – we do. Or believe that JPM will actually build a token that finds itself outside of the reach of US and global regulators. So ‘privacy’ in this context is limited.

As per a CoinDesk post moments ago: “Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, JPMorgan has built an extension to the Zether protocol, a fully decentralized, cryptographic protocol for confidential payments, compatible with ethereum and other smart contract platforms and designed to add a further layer of anonymity to transactions. The New York-based financial institution will open-source the extension Tuesday, and is likely to use it with Quorum, the bank’s homegrown, private version of ethereum.”

“Zether, which was built by a group of academics and financial technology researchers including Dan Boneh from Stanford University, uses zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), a branch of mathematics which allows one party to prove knowledge of some secret value or information without conveying any detail about that secret.”

So privacy, in this case, means the ability to conceal the transaction addresses and the amounts that are being sent and received. This is about as far as a heavily regulated organization like JP Morgan could ever get away with, and even this is probably pushing the limits.

Still, from 50,000 feet, this is an effort that pushes the crypto narrative along in earnest. JPM using crypto industry products to open source their entry into the space adds a significant level of validation – even if some in crypto aren’t interested in this type of validation.

It will be interesting to eventually see what JPM unveils and how it is used in both the institutional and retail space.

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FAKE NEWS: Fake Volumes On Crypto Exchanges Remain A Scourge On The Industry

Fake volumes are a problem at crypto exchanges across the spectrum. This practice is seemingly used to push a crypto exchange brand up the ranks of Coin MarketCap’s exchange volume rankings, providing more visibility to potential crypto traders and investors. BitWise figured out the sneaky scheme and put together a report to warn investors.

According to Bitwise, the exchanges that skirt the defined lines between the “real” and the “fake” were HitBTC, Huobi, and OKEx.

The firm’s March report addressed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission highlighted 10 exchanges with real volume. However, following public requests, the firm in a subsequent report highlighted three exchanges with “meaning volume”.

Firstly, the report analyzed the trade volume percentage on an exchange, depending on a specific trade size over a defined period. Citing this trade size histogram for OKEx, the report stated that the same is “notably suspicious,” as it had no absolute spikes and an “atypical rise” in volume from 1-6 BTC. The exchange’s trade distribution also showed an “unusual” tail from 6 Bitcoins.

In terms of volume spikes from 28 April to 5 May, the graph depicted constant hourly volume which according to Bitwise, “betrays none of the natural rhythms of the reference exchanges.” The “reference exchanges,” are the 10 exchanges that Bitwise has contended as having “real volume.”

If you happen to be scoring at home this opens up several lines of questions that could serve to potentially crash the markets in a similar way to Mt. Gox, should the truth eventually be found out.

Our advice: stick to the top four or five exchanges and avoid the potential for a ‘lose all your money’ type of event. Cryptopia we are looking at you.

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CRYPTO JUSTICE SERVED: BINANCE DELISTS BITCOIN SV: Binance CEO Makes Good On Craig Wright Declaration As ‘Fraud’; Delists Bitcoin SV

Binance CEO, CZ, has made good on a public proclamation to delist $BCHSV should Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre continue their meritless crusade to sue anyone that doesn’t declare Craig Wright anything other than a fraud.

Across the crypto ecosystem the ‘Craig Wright is a fraud’ movement has come to an all-consuming crescendo over the weekend. More specifically, ‘FakeToshi’s’ most vocal provocateur, Peter McCormack received a letter from lawyers representing Craig Wright asking him to do all manner of ridiculous things that amount to ‘stop being mean to Craig’.

Peter McCormack publishes the letter and a sharply (and appropriately) worded response via Twitter. Kudos to Peter.

But CZ, the CEO of the worlds largest crypto currency exchange has put his money where his mouth is and delisted the token altogether.

Here is the statement from Binance:

“At Binance, we periodically review each digital asset we list to ensure that it continues to meet the high level of standard we expect. When a coin or token no longer meets this standard, or the industry changes, we conduct a more in-depth review and potentially delist it. We believe this best protects all of our users.”

“When we conduct these reviews, we consider a variety of factors. Here are some that drive whether we decide to delist a digital asset:”

  • Commitment of team to project
  • Level and quality of development activity
  • Network / smart contract stability
  • Level of public communication
  • Responsiveness to our periodic due diligence requests
  • Evidence of unethical / fraudulent conduct
  • Contribution to a healthy and sustainable crypto ecosystem

“Based on our most recent reviews, we have decided to delist and cease trading on all trading pairs for the following coin on 2019/04/22 at 10:00 AM UTC:”

Please note: 

  • All trade orders will be automatically removed after trading ceases in each respective trading pair.
  • To view your assets after trading ceases, please ensure you have not selected “Hide small assets” in your Funds page.
  • Withdrawals of these coins and tokens from Binance will continue to be supported until 2019/07/22 at 10:00 AM UTC.

“We thank you for your support as we continue to build the crypto ecosystem in a way that promotes transparency and long-term, sustainable growth.”

This will cause the back and forth to significantly ramp up, and one can only hope it does, so as to destroy whatever shred of credibility Craig Wright is hanging onto at the moment.

Let it be said again, “Craig Wright is a fraud.”

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BAKKT BAND: Executive Roll Grows; “Doubting this team would be foolish…”

Just yesterday Bakkt announced another high level executive that comes to the project with an impressive resume’ and credentials that can’t be assailed. After speaking with several sources (disclosure: these sources have an equity position in Bakkt), it is clear that many, if not most, believe Bakkt is a nearly ‘fail-proof’ venture.

Just look at the executives, investors, announced partners – and the numbers really begin to add up. Venture capital scions and other well capitalized names that have taken a stake in Bakkt view the firm and its growing staff as the ‘gold standard’ and unmatched in the crypto space. We understand why.

Executives that include Kelly Loeffler, Adam White, and now Mike Blandina formerly of PayPal and Google. A board consisting of Tom Noonan, Jeff Sprecher, Sean Collins, and Akshay Naheta. Investors that include Mike Novogratz at Galaxy Digital, Fortress Capital, Pantera Capital, Boston Consulting Group, Eagle Seven, M12 (Microsoft’s venture capital arm), Goldfinch Partners, and several others.

A literal who’s who of Fintech venture capital and superstar execs with their sights set squarely on leading crypto to the promised land of adoption and usage for the masses.

One source who’s invested in the firm said the following, “You can never guarantee a win in venture capital or any such endeavor; but the risk/reward profile is seriously tipped in our favor as stakeholders. The team is as good as it gets, the tech has been in place for the better part of a decade (ICE), and planning for this moment has been going on for nearly four years. Our thesis, doubting this team would be foolish, so we remain very comfortable with our investment.”

Microsoft, Starbucks, and a bevy of executives and investors with lengthy and proven histories in building brands, mass marketing, work flow, leadership and good ole’ fashioned winning.

As a business it is a recipe for phenomenal success. As a marketing entity, and how it relates to crypto at large, Bakkt is on a mission to make spending and trading crypto as ubiquitous as credit cards and online brokerage houses.

Expect a marketing blitz that is smart and ever expanding. Bakkt is certainly planning on it being a large part of its eventual (inevitable) success.

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BLACKROCK, BITCOIN, BAKKT: BlackRock Adds To Digital Assets Team, Pivots To Alternative Assets In Large Scale Restructuring

BlackRock has been quietly building and advising across the digital asset spectrum. As the largest asset manager in the world, to the tune of $6T, they’ve built an internal digital asset team, published several crypto asset white papers, and have been closely advising Coinbase (and other crypto exchanges) for better than 18 months. When the term ‘institutional’ is used in the crypto ecosystem you could simply use the BlackRock logo in its place. They define the term in finance.

Take a look at the latest additions to the BlackRock movement in digital assets via Forbes:

“On Tuesday, BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world with $6 trillion under management, said it would undergo a massive management overhaul, in part reorganizing to focus on alternative investments. And while BlackRock declines to comment on any plans for large forays into crypto assets, it recently hired former Ripple product marketer Robbie Mitchnick to its Digital Wealth team, which uses the firm’s successful Aladdin global asset management software to build institutional portfolios. Last summer, Mitchnick and Stanford Business School professor Susan Athey published a paper called “A Fundamental Valuation Framework for Cryptoassets,” which essentially laid out a sophisticated model for valuing cryptocurrencies bitcoin and XRP.”

These are some of the first public markers as to BlackRock’s serious interest and work with respect to Bitcoin and other crypto assets. And from what we are hearing, they’ve taken a unique interest in Bakkt’s pending launch and operations as well.

Once Bakkt launches they are considering a Series B round of funding and BlackRock has a legitimate interest in taking a piece of that round. Not that this is a surprise, but BlackRock is known for eschewing founding or Series A rounds and generally prefer later rounds that have evolved via the ‘proof of concept’ of any business.

That also assumes that any digital asset participation for institutional clients would include using Bakkt’s infrastructure to clear trades. While we’ve yet to get any solid confirmation on that, it does pass the sniff test.

Whatever BlackRock’s intentions are with respect to digital assets, the fact that they are formulating some level of involvement is extraordinary and only adds to the ‘institutional fomo’ narrative.

As always, with respect to firms like BlackRock and global investment banks, watch what they do, not what they say. Very, very interesting.

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SEC GUIDANCE: SECURITY OR NO? Framework for ‘Investment Contract’ Analysis of Digital Assets”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission just issued a critically important document. It is the first to take significant steps to potentially define what tokens are a security and which are not. There is much to unpack here, but we’ve added the letter in its entirety below.

Based on an initial read it looks like there is a lot of ‘if, and’s and but’s’ to make sense of – but still, an initial framework. Legal analysts in the blockchain and token space will unpack this over the course of the day.

Read the full text below:

“Blockchain and distributed ledger technology can catalyze a wide range of innovation.  We have seen these technologies used to create financial instruments, sometimes in the form of tokens or coins that can provide investment opportunities like those offered through more traditional forms of securities.  Depending on the nature of the digital asset, including what rights it purports to convey and how it is offered and sold, it may fall within the definition of a security under the U.S. federal securities laws.”

“As part of a continuing effort to assist those seeking to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws, FinHub is publishing a framework for analyzing whether a digital asset is offered and sold as an investment contract, and, therefore, is a security.The framework is not intended to be an exhaustive overview of the law, but rather, an analytical tool to help market participants assess whether the federal securities laws apply to the offer, sale, or resale of a particular digital asset.  Also, the Division of Corporation Finance is issuing a response to a no-action request, indicating that the Division will not recommend enforcement action to the Commission if the digital asset described in the request is offered or sold without registration under the U.S. federal securities laws.”  

“As financial technologies, methods of capital formation, and market structures continue to evolve, market participants should be aware that they may be conducting activities that fall within our jurisdiction.  For example, market participants may engage in activities that require registration of transactions and persons or entities involved in those transactions.  Even if no registration is required, activities involving digital assets that are securities may still be subject to the Commission’s regulation and oversight.  More specifically, the information contained in this framework may apply to entities conducting the following activities related to digital assets:

  • offering, selling, or distributing
  • marketing or promoting
  • buying, selling, or trading
  • facilitating exchanges
  • holding or storing
  • offering financial services such as management or advice
  • other professional services

“This framework represents Staff views and is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Commission.  The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content.  This framework, like other Staff guidance, is not binding on the Divisions or the Commission.  It does not constitute legal advice, for which you should consult with your own attorney.  It does not modify or replace any existing applicable laws, regulations, or rules.  Market participants are encouraged to review all the materials published on FinHub.”

“The Staff recognizes that determining whether a new type of financial instrument, including a digital asset, is a security can require a careful analysis of the nature of the instrument and how it is offered and sold.  If after applying the framework, market participants have questions regarding whether a particular digital asset is a security, they are encouraged to reach out to the Staff through FinHub’s webform.”


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BAKKT BOARD: Bakkt CEO Pens Update, Announces Board Members

Bakkt continues to anticipate a pending approval from the CFTC to engage in the business of physically deliverable Bitcoin futures. The time and circumstances surrounding that approval has been a constant source of angst for those in crypto anticipating the heft that Bakkt will bring to the ecosystem.

While everyone waits (Bakkt included), CEO Kelly Loeffler posted an update via Medium. The update spoke specifically about the newly formed Bakkt board.

“We are charting a new course and it requires significant work, including by our Board, so I want to recognize our members. Chairing the board is Tom Noonan, a cyber expert and founder of numerous cybersecurity companies, including Internet Security Systems (IBM), JouleX (Cisco) and Endgame. Also joining me on the board are Jeff Sprecher, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of ICE and Chairman of the NYSE; Akshay Naheta, Managing Partner at Softbank; and Sean Collins, Managing Partner at Goldfinch Partners.”

Progress, if not slow and steady. One could make the case that announcing board members is a bit of a stop gap communication given the lack of visibility around when the CFTC may finally give them the thumbs up.

Still, this news coupled with a refreshed valuation approaching $1B, should fill the room for a short period. Maybe slow down the growing ‘When Bakkt’ memes.

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SUN DOWN: Tron CEO Justin Sun Blows It On Tesla Giveaway; CT Pounces **Tron and Sun Responds**

The current mess that is a marketing schtick gone wrong at Tron is causing many to doubt the viability of the project and the veracity of its leader, Justin Sun. A Tron giveaway that clearly included a Tesla has backfired in a big way. And all of CT is currently trading memes as the mess is still all over the CT streets.

As it became clear that Tron and Sun didn’t have an immediate intention to make the winner of the contest whole by allotting the grand prize of a Tesla, CT called them out in every corner of the globe.

It is exceptionally rare to get CT to universally agree on anything. This face-palm of a PR screw up has brought all manner of factions together to point and yell ‘boo this man!’

The meat of the issue is this: Justin and the Tron team ran a contest with a prize named to be a Tesla vehicle. A twitter user XRP_UzGar clearly won the contest and should’ve been awarded the grand prize, a Tesla.

“Instead, Justin Sun backtracked and offered him this: However, I do recognize that this is an unfortunate situation, and would like to extend my warmest welcome to the next #niTROn summit in 2020, including a fully paid round-trip ticket to the event location. We are very grateful for your continued support. #TRON”

So instead of a Tesla the winner has been awarded tickets to fly around the world (next year, we might add) to hear and see Justin Sun speak. Ugh.


And as of the last hour Tron and Justin Sun have reversed course:

I’ve happily decided to give away two Teslas to further my mission of creating transparency, reliability and openness about blockchain. I want to explain openly and clearly what happened with the giveaway I announced earlier to clear up some confusion.

To generate better awareness of the blockchain industry and celebrate the introduction our USDT-TRON stablecoin to everyone in the world, I personally decided earlier this month to give away two cars — a Mini in China, and a Tesla for the rest of the world. I created pretty simple rules that I expected to generate excitement and get more engagement for the industry and stablecoin in general.

On Monday, my team on Weibo gave away the Mini through Weibo, and the community has responded happily. The draw brought great, positive attention to the industry. On Twitter, the team used a tweet randomizer tool because Twitter does not have an official drawing mechanism. The team was unfamiliar with the tool and performed a number of test draws to understand how it worked, which has led to some misunderstandings about how we did what we did. We also were unaware there would be concern about the video not being live-streamed and that it would create ambiguity and controversy.

To address those concerns, I decided to create a live-streamed draw to show we are open about everything we do. The person picked in that draw has already contacted us and will receive the Tesla. I’ve also decided to give a Tesla to @uzgaroth.

I spent many hours thinking of ways to show how blockchain and the newly launched TRON stablecoin will be a game-changer for both consumers and businesses. I take that seriously; we will more than likely have a few setbacks along the way. The team has taken some learnings from this, and we are more than happy to collaborate with Twitter and third-party developers to have good mechanisms to select winners (maybe even powered by blockchain technology!)

I personally believe the industry needs to have more transparency, reliability, and openness so that people both inside the industry and out trust blockchain in general and TRON in particular. My mission is to create positive change, and I hope people will continue to join that crusade.

Justin Sun

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NORTHERN TRUST: Crypto Hedge Funds Keep Creeping Into Huge Institutions (Like Northern Trust) And Finding A Warm Welcome

The latest legacy financial institution to welcome increased involvement in the crypto ecosystem is Northern Trust. The ‘white shoe’ family wealth firm is the last place you would expect crypto hedge funds to find a ‘safe space’.

According to Forbes, the 129-year-old firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, that mostly caters to ultra high net worth investors and asset heavy institutions is now offering their services to raise funds by assessing their crypto ventures, while additionally passing on the accumulated data to the fund’s clientele.

Most recently, Northern Trust has been working with three “mainstream hedge funds” to broaden their portfolios into cryptocurrency investments.

Having an estimated $10.7 trillion assets under custody (focus on the term custody there), Northern Trust at present has no authority over crypto resources specifically. However, the firm is giving crypto-inquisitive hedge funds and institutions with managerial administrations advice; for example, helping them allocate assets to their ventures, aiding in Anti-Money Laundering [AML] detection, and confirming that the organizations’ third party custodians are holding on their balance sheets have proper legal standing and are tax compliant.

Pete Cherecwich, the President of Northern Trust’s corporate and institutional services explains to a Forbes Interviewer why Northern Trust as pledging so many resources to the Technology and the reason for his interest in cryptocurrencies. He said: “You can take anything today. You can take movie rights, you can take all sorts of entities, and you can create a token for those… We have to be able to figure out how to hold those tokens, value those tokens, and do those things.”

Sources indicate that it was also expressed that although the company is exploring blockchain technology, they are ‘cautious’ as they believe regulations specific to the crypto ecosystem are on a speedy path to an announcement in the United States.

Cherecwich further stated: “I do believe that governments will ultimately look at digitizing their currencies and having them trade kind of like a digital token — a token of the U.S. dollar — but the U.S. dollar [would still be] in a vault somewhere, or backed by the government. How are they going to do that? I don’t know. But I do believe they are going to get there.”

That…is a remarkable statement from a long-tenured executive at a financial institution of Northern Trust’s reputation. Very remarkable. But what isn’t remarkable is the continual creep into the deep end with cryptocurrencies and blockchain for financial institutions of note. It keeps happening, day after day.

Pay attention.

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BARCLAYS REDUX: BANK WEIGHS CRYPTO SERVICES: Despite 2018 Denials, Barclays Continues Crypto Custody/Trading Planning

More and more banks continue to wade into the crypto ecosystem with a sharp eye for both trading profits and the ability to score fees to hold crypto assets via custody solutions. Another name that we’ve attempted to ignore for nearly a month is Barclays. Their current CEO, Jes Staley, publicly denied any movement on or in the crypto space last fall, but he was being coy, to say the least. Continued exploration and progress is being made.

A word about European banks at large and Barclays in particular. They are, amongst the global IB set, the most concerned about crypto and its ability to displace their goods and services long term. The revenue base and profits of the likes of Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Santander, and others have gotten pressed down to levels not seen in more than a decade and a half. You may recall that Binance approached and surpassed the quarterly revenue of Deutsche Bank in the last quarter of 2018. An incredible feat given that Binance opened its doors for business less than two years ago.

Back to Barclays and their renewed interest in bringing crypto architecture to both institutional and UHNW clients. They are acutely aware of what Goldman Sachs is embarking on and where the global IB leader, that is Goldman, is about to take the industry with respect to crypto. And the sole reason, as it goes for bankers, that this move is on the way, is that profits can be extracted from the architecture being built.

Barclays needs new lines of revenue and profits. Pure and simple. That is the impetus behind the continued search for answers in crypto and the right time and place to roll out a crypto framework. As was discussed near the middle of 2018, Barclays has been discussing solutions with crypto hedge funds to understand their wants and needs.

A hedge fund contact on the west coast put it this way: “We’ve heard from Barclays, and by no means are they the only firm we consistently hear from, three different times so far in 2019. The pick up in communication seems to be mirroring other institutional initiatives that they may be able to conjoin with to put together framework that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg to build and staff. If I had to guess how many people are working on the project there (Barclays) I would put the number at 10, maybe 12. It isn’t a massive number by any means, but it isn’t zero either. And I doubt they will be first to market with anything…but they are preparing to at least come to the party.”

An interesting take on the inner workings of building crypto architecture and the ‘hive mind’ of decision makers at the firm. How best to position themselves if and when the institutional need becomes to serious that they can’t ignore the money to be made. It will be interesting to evaluate Jes Staley’s future comments about crypto and the firms involvement. Will it ‘evolve’ in the same way that JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon did? It wouldn’t surprise us.

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Tim Draper: “There is a clear case that cryptocurrencies will replace fiat currency altogether…”

Tim Draper remains an influential voice in the cryptocurrency community; if for no other reason than his bullish predictions.

In 2014, Draper predicted that Bitcoin would be worth $10,000 in three years. The prediction turned to reality when Bitcoin was soaring above and beyond this amount to reach an all-time high last December.

Tim Draper told Forbes in an exclusive interview:

“I didn’t want to make any predictions after that for a long time because I wanted to let the dust settle. For a while now I have been thinking that it was time for another prediction while introducing my new book, How To Be The Startup Hero: A Guide and Textbook for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs.”

Draper’s prediction, that led him to come up with $10,000 by 2017, was based on the idea that Bitcoin was going to be easy enough to use in the future and that people would be able to start trading with it and using it as a store of value.

He believes people are going to be able to spend cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, in mainstream situations. Cryptocurrencies will be something people can access on their phone as it will eventually replace credit cards. He truly believes that cryptocurrencies will replace fiat currencies.

As of now, there is about $80 trillion worth of fiat currency in the world. As cryptocurrencies are expanding, Tim Draper believes that fiat currency circulation in the coming time will fall from $80 trillion to $30 trillion and will be replaced by cryptocurrencies eventually as it will grow to $100 trillion.

He predicted that Bitcoin might end up with a 20% to 30% market share. As he explains the scenario, he believes the asymptote will be somewhere around $130 trillion, but only maybe $100 trillion would be cryptocurrency and 20% of that would be Bitcoin.

He is of the view that Bitcoin has a network effect. For instance, if a user has Bitcoin and no one else does, then it is worthless. But if two people have Bitcoin, and recognize it, then a connection is created. With it the connection grows – it’s the square of how many nodes are in the network. Right now there are 40 million Bitcoin wallets. Tim predicts that this number will continue to grow and the value of Bitcoin will be determined by the square of that.

Tim, in his interview with Forbes, later shares his strong opinion that fiat currencies will disappear completely

Tim Draper on cryptocurrency replacing fiat currency:

“I think that in the future fiat will resemble carrying around change. For example, in the future, if we would buy coffee with fiat, the barista will look at us like we are crazy. I also think that soon we will be able to buy coffee and other things with Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin cash or any number of other cryptocurrencies all on our phone.”

“The way I look at getting started with cryptocurrency is to get involved a little at a time. I’d suggest purchasing a small amount of cryptocurrency on Coinbase or to put some crypto on a ledger. A ledger is a hardware wallet, so if you are worried about someone taking your cryptocurrency you can put it there. It’s amazing that all you need now is a USB port and you are able to hold all your money in your own hands.”

As the crypto world awaits the outcome of his latest prediction, they have an opportunity to read his book and think the way that he does. At least that is the idea behind the new publication. Rest assured, many will do so in the coming months. Also, rest assured, should his prediction not come true crypto trolls will roast him for it! Thus is the nature of the crypto community.

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MORGAN STANLEY COPYCAT: FOLLOW FIDELITY: Morgan Stanley Is Watching Fidelity’s Digital Assets Initiative Closely, Planning Similar Offering

Morgan Stanley has seemingly been planning some sort of crypto initiative for longer than their clients can wait. According to sources at the global investment bank, clients (institutional and UHNW retail) have grown impatient with Morgan Stanley and ‘talk’ of crypto accessibility.

The sources discussed a small percentage of the client base keeps asking the firms bankers and brokers why they aren’t out in front in regards to crypto. Specifically, a straight line is being made by some as to Goldman Sach’s (it is well known in traditional finance that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are bitter rivals) consistent investments in the crypto ecosystem, BitGo and Circle, to name just a couple.

Those Goldman Sachs led investments position the firm to quickly scale up once the regulatory landscape is clear and defined. Morgan Stanley hasn’t made those any ‘in-kind’ investments that match Goldman’s and clients and brokers have been grumbling about it.

But there may be some hopes according to two sources that we spoke to at the bank. Morgan Stanley leadership is enamored with the path that Fidelity is taking and believe they can take the same path – and fashion it to be of interest to the firms largest institutional and UHNW clients.

“Are we behind? Yes. That really can’t be disputed at this point.” said our first source near the top of the communications org chart at Morgan Stanley. “But that won’t be the case once we commit to a particular strategy. We believe we are well positioned when the time is right.”

A second source closer to the broker ranks had this to say, “The word we hear is that leadership finds the Fidelity model for crypto appealing. And that could be the way it goes down here. Whatever strategy they choose, it needs to come quickly. We are getting asked about it daily. It does seem like clients that are aware of Bitcoin in particular see it as digital gold. That phrase has popped up often with UHNW clients.”

The digital gold narrative from uber-wealthy individuals and families is interesting. It means, if nothing else, that for those looking for Bitcoin information, the digital gold narrative is resonating.

“Clients that ask about crypto seem to be aware of Bakkt as well and question us as to our involvement and accessibility within their framework”, our second source described. “It is revealing what messaging seems to be making its way into these clients hands and sticking. Bakkt and digital gold seem to be moving in lock step – expect our firm (Morgan Stanley) to play along and once involved market it ($BTC) as such.”

Interesting conversations yesterday that reveal how traditional market players and dealing with the growth of Bitcoin and crypto at large. The bigger picture, that these firms have finally embraced, is that Bitcoin isn’t going away. And they are hell-bent on being there when mass investment follows an increase in awareness and adoption.

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CIRCLE APPROVAL: BROKER DEALER DEAL: Circle Bid To Acquire SeedInvest Gets Go-Ahead From FINRA

Circle is in the midst of a serious ‘beef up’ of its operations, scale, and capital position. Word of a sizable capital raise (which we expect to be heavily funded by one of their largest current stakeholders – Goldman Sachs) made its way through crypto news outlets last week. And now, today, FINRA has approved the broker dealer acquisition via SeedInvest.

As per Circle’s corporate blog post:

“Circle has signed a definitive agreement to acquire SeedInvest, an equity crowdfunding industry leader and an SEC and FINRA registered Broker-Dealer. This acquisition will accelerate our strategy of delivering a token marketplace that enables businesses and individuals to raise capital and interact with investors using open crypto rails and infrastructure. This acquisition and planned new offerings are subject to FINRA approval.”

“The SeedInvest product includes many of the end-to-end capabilities needed for executing regulated crowdfunding, including startup due diligence, securities issuance, investor accreditation, payments and securities custody, as well as a broad range of innovative tools for startups to market their crowdfunding offerings online in a compliant fashion. With the merger and approval from key regulators, these capabilities will be expanded to support crypto-denominated investments including using fiat stablecoins such as USDC, as well as issuing and offering tokenized securities.”

Circle remains a largely institutional trading platform, but moves like this make it clear they have designs on expanding their horizons. In many ways the language above makes it look like they are positioning themselves to handle as many STO-like transactions as legally feasible.

The growth in the crypto ecosystem, even in the midst of a long tail bear market, is remarkable. Add Circle to the list of those making moves in spite of any crypto headwinds.

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JAMIE DIMON: JP MORGAN COIN: Dimon Describes JP Morgan Coin Potential Evolution; Could See Consumer Use

Jamie Dimon sure has been properly baptized as of late, hasn’t he? Baptized in the religion of crypto. Just two plus years ago Jamie was an avowed ‘no-coiner’ with knives out for Bitcoin and it’s siblings.

Earlier today he described a pathway where JP Morgan coin could be used at the consumer level.


“JP Morgan Coin could be internal, could be commercial, it could one day be consumer,” Dimon, 62, said during a question-and-answer session.”

“Earlier in February, J.P. Morgan became the first major U.S. bank to create its own cryptocurrency with the launch of “JPM Coin.” The digital token was designed to settle transactions between clients of its wholesale payments business, specifically for international payments and securities transactions that migrate to the blockchain.”

What a reversal. And what might that reversal mean? You can place your bets that JP Morgan has come up with a way to make the use of their native coin somehow profitable either directly or indirectly. Either way, it sheds light on the thinking of one of the largest banks in the world and where it’s CEO sees finance going.

And if JP Morgan and Dimon have moved this far, this quickly – how long before we see a Fidelity coin? Asking for a friend.

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BREAKING: COINBASE ADDS XRP: Coinbase Pro Announces XRP Deposits, Accepting Inbound Transfers

And the XRP army rejoices. A collective exhale. The mob has been satisfied. Let them eat cake. And all manner of euphemisms associated with a long awaited, yet inevitable, outcome.

Coinbase officially announced that Coinbase Pro will add XRP, the official cryptocurrency of Ripple Labs, and make it available via several trading pairs.

The venerable and hyperactive XRP army is in ‘melt up’ mode at the moment. Here was the official language from Coinbase:

“After 10am on February 25, 2019 we will begin accepting inbound transfers of XRP to Coinbase Pro. We will accept deposits for a minimum of 12 hours prior to enabling full trading. Please note that inbound transfers require the specification of an XRP destination tag.”

“Once sufficient supply of XRP is established on the platform, trading on the XRP/USD, XRP/EUR, and XRP/BTC order books will start in phases, beginning with post-only mode and proceeding to full trading should our metrics for a healthy market be met. XRP trading will initially be accessible for Coinbase Pro users in the US (excluding NY), UK, supported European Union member nations, Canada, Singapore, and Australia. Additional jurisdictions may be added at a later date.”

“XRP is the cryptocurrency used by the XRP ledger, which supports international currency exchange and remittances. The ledger is powered by a network of peer-to-peer servers. All accounts on this network can send or receive XRP to/from each other, while XRP can be used to send underlying fiat currencies between two parties. In this way, XRP can function as a bridge currency in transactions involving different currencies such as US dollars, Japanese yen, Euros, Francs, and others in use on the XRP network.”

“Please also note that XRP is not yet available on or via our mobile apps. We will make a separate announcement when that occurs.”

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POP! BANG! JP MORGAN COIN: Hedge Fund Sources Claim Surge In Volumes And Prices Directly Tied To JP Morgan Announcement

Crypto purists scoffed at the JP Morgan coin announcement – and rightfully so. After nearly three years of shunning Bitcoin and crypto altogether, Jamie Dimon and his cohorts cooked up a crypto of their own.

Every news outlet in the world covered it. Every single one. And the news lasted for days and quickly made its way into the heads and hands of what most crypto diehards would call ‘plebs’.

Guess what those ‘plebs’ did with the JP Morgan coin information? They bought Bitcoin, Bitcoin futures, Ethereum (a whole lot of $ETH) and all manner of alt-coins as the crypto markets surged.

We went on the hunt to find out if a hunch we had had some meat to it. In speaking with our staffs friends and family, every single one of them asked “what do you think of the JP Morgan coin?”

That set our ears ablaze and gave us a reason to have deeper industry conversations.

Sure enough several hedge fund contacts were seeing and hearing the same thing. In the short run, the JP Morgan coin announcement breathed new life into the crypto narrative and added a large slice of credibility.

One hedge fund source said the following:

Every adult with a bank account and a job knows who JP Morgan is. So the announcement of a native cryptocurrency brought interest to a renewed and fresh level that had been diminished throughout nearly all of 2018. My wife even asked me about it the day after it was announced. The huge bounce in volumes in Bitcoin and, for example, Bitcoin futures at the CME are indicative of the wave the announcement caused.”

A second hedge fund source went a step further:

It isn’t that far fetched to foresee a look back in six months and point to the $JPM coin as the catalyst that busted the bear market. Sentiment and narrative play a huge role in what remains a pretty small markets at this point. The JP Morgan news pushed prices higher across the board and those price increases weee seriously validated by a surge in volumes.”

Again, nobody with a reasonable grip on the history and mission of Bitcoin and crypto believes that the JP Morgan coin poses any sort of existential threat to the ecosystem. In fact, those that claim that it may just be another shitcoin may not be that far off.

Be that as it may, everybody we’ve run into that is outside the crypto echo chamber has one question and one question alone: What do you think of the JP Morgan coin?

The post POP! BANG! JP MORGAN COIN: Hedge Fund Sources Claim Surge In Volumes And Prices Directly Tied To JP Morgan Announcement appeared first on Abacus Journal – Cryptocurrency News.

JP MORGAN COIN: DIMON DOLLARS: JP Morgan Creates Stable Coin To Process Blockchain Payments, Per CNBC

In a scoop snatched by CNBC earlier this morning, JP Morgan has created a stable coin to process payments at hyper speed and scale. The ‘JP Morgan coin’ has been under development for months and has been widely tested internally at one of the worlds largest banks.

As word spreads across financial media and crypto media alike, the term ‘Dimon Dollars’ has been used. Jamie Dimon, a noted Bitcoin and crypto skeptic, is now the first major global investment bank to use/issue an in-house and native token.


The lender moves more than $6 trillion around the world every day for corporations in its massive wholesale payments business. In trials set to start in a few months, a tiny fraction of that will happen over something called ‘JPM Coin,’ the digital token created by engineers at the New York-based bank to instantly settle payments between clients.”

“J.P. Morgan is preparing for a future in which parts of the essential underpinning of global capitalism, from cross-border payments to corporate debt issuance, moves to the blockchain. That’s the database technology made famous by its first application, bitcoin. But in order for that future to happen, the bank needed a way to transfer money at the same dizzying speed that those smart contracts closed, rather than relying on old technology like wire transfers.”

We’ve maintained, even amongst skepticism and some disbelief, that JP Morgan was actively engaging in both blockchain and crypto technology. They have designs on using Bakkt as a resource for client involvement in crypto, and you can bet that sooner rather than later, their JP Morgan coin will be marketed to clients.

How that plays out is anyone’s guess at the moment. But if JP Morgan is good at anything it is marketing it’s in-house products to HNW and UHNW clients.

What does this mean for some of JP Morgan’s competitors? Is it that far fetched to foresee a Goldman Coin in the works? And other coins connected to global investment banks?

You can ‘bank’ on it.

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RELEASE: SEC ICO GUIDANCE: Securities And Exchange Commission Issues New Guidance For Investors, Bullet Points On Coin Offerings For Public Consumption

On a sleepy Sunday morning the SEC decided to issue a grab bag of commentary on ‘coin offerings’. The timing is interesting, but it certainly didn’t get past the peering eyes of crypto twitter. The initial paragraph of the release, which looks and feels almost like a carefully coordinated press release (colorful, easy to digest snippets, drop down menus, etc), was an introduction to the guidance positioned for retail investor public consumption:

“Companies and individuals are increasingly considering initial coin offerings (ICOs) as a way to raise capital or participate in investment opportunities. While these digital assets and the technology behind them may present a new and efficient means for carrying out financial transactions, they also bring increased risk of fraud and manipulation because the markets for these assets are less regulated than traditional capital markets.”

The crypto ecosystem continues to wait with breathless anticipation as regulatory agencies craft the constructive architecture that will either move the industry quickly forward or dramatically slow it down.

To view the entire release:

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MT. GOX DRAMA: PIERCE VERSUS KARPELES: Argument Over Purchase And Revival Plan Of Infamous Exchange Plays Out In Twitter ‘Slap-Fight”

Brock Pierce and Mark Karpeles won’t be breaking bread any time soon. That much become increasingly evident throughout the late evening last night as they engaged in a back and forth as to Brock Pierce’s stated intentions to revive Mt. Gox.

As many media outlets have reported over the past 72 hours, Pierce has designs on acquiring the remaining assets and accompanying intellectual property of the defunct exchange and turning it back into a functioning entity again. He’s even detailed his purchase plan, intimating that it was all but a done deal.

It seems that the ‘done’ part of the deal may have been premature.

In a Twitter mentions back and forth, that quickly became very public (how very ‘crypto twitter’ of the two of you) both men stuck to specific positions. Pierce stating that he had an agreement in place and that the transaction was essentially done/imminent. Karpeles vehemently denying any such agreement, defaulting back to bankruptcy statutes and court appointed trustees. Both men staking out diametrically opposed positions.

It left many wondering where each was getting their best information. Accusations flew back and forth throughout the Twitter conversation. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Brock Pierce claiming that a purchase agreement was in place.
  2. Karpeles responding by denying any purchase agreement was even drafted.
  3. Karpeles claiming that Pierce had threatened to take their argument public, which occurred.
  4. Pierce stating that Karpeles had sold his 88% stake and was now backpedaling.
  5. Pierce claiming that Karpeles was attempting to pocket the $700-800 million surplus.
  6. Pierce claiming that Karpeles has a partner who had ‘secretly’ been doing the negotiating.
  7. Pierce finished the Twitter argument by asking Karpeles “aren’t you about to go back to prison?”

The back and forth held the attention of much of crypto twitter. All sorts of interested parties began searching for information to either back up claims that were made or discredit them.

This document showed up in that search that seemed to be of interest, although it doesn’t have any labeling or signatures that would identify it as being some sort of definitive barometer:

The document does reference several different elements of the Mt. Gox debacle at the time (2014) and the interest from ‘Sunlot Holdings Limited’. But those interests were never consummated and ownership of the entities remains in the hands of bankruptcy court trustees.

A bizaare argument and conversation, publicly displayed, doesn’t move the idea of Mt. Gox being revived forward in any meaningful way. Instead, it will only prove to push the possiblity back.

While we understand the idea behind the revival (name recognition alone denotes value) the complexity presented by bankruptcy court laws, the claims of creditors, and the mountain of BTC involved was never going to allow a transaction to be as simple as the headlines claiming, “Brock Pierce to Buy Mt. Gox”.

The twitter slap fight between these two guys is also an embarrassment in and of itself. These sorts of discussions mean absolutely nothing outside of any sort of legal agreement, courtroom, arbitration or any other such legal entity that would have to pass along approval to allow Mt. Gox to be privately held and operated once again as an exchange. Why media reports didn’t think that through is a mystery.

Neither Karpeles or Pierce are well-served by the back and forth, and did nothing more than waste their time and key strokes in an effort to one up the other.

Beyond that, there are some legitimate questions left to be answered. Is there a real purchase agreement out there somewhere? What would any purchase price look like? What sort of assets would be acquired? Specifically, whither the BTC currently managed by the court appointed trustee?

This story isn’t over.

The post MT. GOX DRAMA: PIERCE VERSUS KARPELES: Argument Over Purchase And Revival Plan Of Infamous Exchange Plays Out In Twitter ‘Slap-Fight” appeared first on Abacus Journal – Cryptocurrency News.

FACEBOOK STABLE COIN: BLOCKCHAIN BUILD OUT: As Facebook Continues To Build It’s Blockchain Team, Rumors Swirl Regarding A Potential Token

Facebook continues to stalk the crypto and blockchain space. If you stop and pay attention you can almost feel their eyes staring at the cracks in the ecosystem. And those cracks are feeding rumors regarding Facebook’s intentions when it comes to crypto and a potential native platform payment token.

Whether like or dislike Facebook it is hard to deny that a Facebook token of some sort would be a potential eye opener for adoption within crypto. Billions upon billions of users across Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram would have access to digital cash fostered by social media’s ultimate ‘elephant in the room’.

As we’ve discussed the potential for a Facebook token this week with several thought leaders in the space one particular theme kept coming up. A Facebook token would make the most sense as a dollar backed stable coin. It would provide incredible buying power for ‘unbanked’ individuals that find themselves part of all three platforms. The WhatsApp platform in particular, with it’s adoption across locations such as India (a notoriously un-banked country), would create enormous demand for a stable coin.

As Facebook staffs up across it’s blockchain initiatives (whatever those happen to be, nobody really knows) the next incredibly used and profitable product could be a Facebook token used across billions of daily active users across the globe.

One rumor we heard coming out of Silicon Valley is that Facebook considered several types of banking initiatives to integrate into WhatsApp over the past two years, but simply wasn’t satisfied with the potential solutions. With the advent of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies becoming a larger part of the financial discussion, as stable coin would seem to meet the needs that a potential banking operation may have had it been rolled out.

One source, who left Facebook two months ago, added:

“Facebook has flirted with acquisitions in the crypto space and has yet to pull the trigger. That is telling if you ask me. They could easily swallow up Coinbase tomorrow, but they’ve chosen not to up to this point. Just keep track of the size, scale, and names associated with their ever-growing blockchain team. As it grows you can bet they are getting closer and closer to pulling the trigger on a token of some sort. And my guess, to satisfy regulators, it would be tied to the dollar in the way stable coins have been. They (Facebook) could easily back a token with the cash hoard they have on tap.”

Whatever truth exists in these rumors a Facebook ecosystem token would be enormous. With access to platforms carrying billions of users on a daily basis, adoption would quickly dwarf and other coin in existence. The specter of ‘Facebook Coin’ becoming a competitor to Bitcoin would be a remarkable evolution to witness in real time. And it isn’t as far-fetched as you may think.

A reminder…Facebook matured in the depths of Silicon Valley and the best minds in the valley are constantly looking for the next big thing. And need we mention the headlines Facebook has dealt with overt the past 12 months?

A Facebook stable coin could be the next innovation from a company in need of something new and shiny to feed Wall Street. If one of techs ‘glitterati’ (Jack Dorsey) finds comfort basking in the glow of the crypto world, who’s to say others like him aren’t aware of the opportunity that lies in this fast growing industry. Nobody should be surprised if we eventually see a coin with Facebook’s fingerprints all over it.

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EXCLUSIVE: BITCOIN ETF ‘EVENTUAL APPROVAL’: Another SEC Commissioner Predicts Eventual Bitcoin ETF Approval/s (hedges on risk profiles)

In a yet to be released post in Congressional Quarterly, the lone Democrat commissioner left at the SEC, makes several interesting claims in favor of an eventual Bitcoin ETF approval, and potentially multiple approvals.

Robert J. Jackson Jr., in a long form interview, set to be released on February 11th, believes that he expects an eventual applicant to meet the necessary standards for an approval.

A leak of the document can be found below:

As is pointed out in the first page of the article above, the last vote taken on a Bitcoin ETF (the Winklevoss ETF) was defeated by a vote of 3-1. A quick check via simple math says that a turn by Jackson into the potential ‘aye’ column would put the vote at an even 2-2. That is a profound step forward.

As reported last week, VanEck and Solid X resubmitted their Bitcoin ETF for consideration after pulling it just two weeks prior. This effectively restarted the shot clock for approval, thus taking advantage of market maturity and changing attitudes like Mr. Jackson’s.

VanEck Solid X has gone to get lengths to communicate with the SEC and its commissioners on a regular basis, hunting for the secret sauce that leads to an approval. It sounds like, based on the above rhetoric in the interview, they are having a positive impact on the SEC’s commissioners.

Ultimately the proof will be in the proverbial pudding – and that pudding is votes cast for an approval or disapproval of a Bitcoin ETF. As legal experts have pointed out, the VanEck Solid X pull and subsequent resubmission pushes the shot clock on an eventual decision into the second half of 2019. Given that regulatory agency watchers believe that the likes of Bakkt, Fidelity, Nasdaq, ErisX, and other larger crypto futures initiatives will have been in operation by that time, the specter of manipulation may have dissipated.

Again, time will tell.

The post EXCLUSIVE: BITCOIN ETF ‘EVENTUAL APPROVAL’: Another SEC Commissioner Predicts Eventual Bitcoin ETF Approval/s (hedges on risk profiles) appeared first on Abacus Journal – Cryptocurrency News.

BAKKT EXPECTATIONS: APPROVAL TIMELINE: Sources Expect BAKKT To Win CFTC Approval In March (pending US govt shutdown)

For those of you closely watching the Bakkt narrative, in the hopes that the launch of the Intercontinental Exchange initiative will bust the bear market – we’ve got some good news for you. Sources in and around both the CFTC and Bakkt have been whispering about a potential approval and firm launch date.

It looks increasingly likely, pending any disruption via another US government shutdown, that Bakkt will win its CFTC approval and begin trading physically deliverable Bitcoin futures in March. The sources we spoke to refused to go on record, but were eager to share the potential timeline with us. They walked us through the ‘meat grinder’ that is the regulatory process and what to expect from Bakkt once an approval is passed on.

A source familiar with the Bakkt CFTC approval process said the following:

“You have to understand that the regulatory process is different than any reasonable business practice that most of you would recognize. It is ridiculous if you ask me. But it is the reality that we are faced with and are operating in. And understand this as well, the current administration is incredibly pro-business and pro-innovation; yet this process is still a meat grinder. I am sure that Jeff (Sprecher) and Kelly (Loeffler) are frustrated. Most believed that an approval would have come late last year. Either way, here we are, and an approval looks imminent.”

A source close to Bakkt (an early institutional investor in the project) gave us this piece of information late last night:

In a way the delays have helped gather clients who will provide liquidity and volume at launch. The Bakkt team has used the time wisely and spent endless hours courting some of the biggest banks and names on the street to be trusted trade partners from the word ‘go’. All signs look to be headed toward mid-March for a final CFTC sign off. And for those out there that have talked about Bakkt delaying for an extended period of time – that is ridiculous. Take a close look at the resume of Jeff (Sprecher) and Kelly (Loeffler), they aren’t in the business of losing. The launch will occur days after approval is finalized. Short of an elongated government shutdown, expect that to happen in March.”

Bakkt remains the most closely watched institutional development in the crypto space. Why? The vast network of potential clients already committed to Intercontinental Exchange operations (essentially ALL of Wall Street and any financial institution that trades commodities with any meaningful volume) could be the type of Bitcoin volume that could break the back of the bear market and send Bitcoin higher.

Beyond simply a well-heeled potential client list, should Bakkt be successful their announced joint venture partners, Microsoft and Starbucks (Boston Consulting Group – BCG is also an announced joint venture partner, but we will cover that connection in a separate article), represent that kind of adoption and real world ‘use-case’ network that could potentially bring Bitcoin to the masses. Retail, tech, software, devices, and on and on. This is the Bitcoin dream that has brought some of the worlds most well known venture capital firms to the Bakkt table.

The chatter regarding an imminent (albeit 30-45 days) approval from the CFTC should create a buzz and keep the team at Bakkt on alert. If you’ve been keeping score their staff has more than tripled and the list of job openings continues to grow.

They are preparing for the biggest Bitcoin push the crypto ecosystem has ever seen. That isn’t hyperbole. Google search the daily trading volume of gold futures and prepare to have your mind blown. The only way Bitcoin can be added to the Starbucks app and used to pay for your next ‘coffee milkshake’ is the promise of serious liquidity and price transparency. Bakkt is set to provide that in spades.

The post BAKKT EXPECTATIONS: APPROVAL TIMELINE: Sources Expect BAKKT To Win CFTC Approval In March (pending US govt shutdown) appeared first on Abacus Journal – Cryptocurrency News.

SOMA: A Digitized Market Place That Is Determined To Revolutionize Sales

We previously wrote about SOMA. They’ve been busy since, acquiring many brand partners for their upcoming marketplace launch. This post is a republication of a recent article on the SOMA website, and looks at how SOMA’s innovative reselling functionality could be a game-changer for how brands approach distribution.

Satisfied customers are a brand’s best ambassadors.

Why not incentivize them to promote you even more?

It’s every brand’s dream: pulpit-pounding customers telling everyone who will listen how great you are. These evangelists cost you nothing and bring a level of credibility no other marketing channel can. Not to mention astronomically sweet conversion rates.

Now, with SOMA, brands can reward this evangelism—and encourage much more of it—by allowing your most loyal customers to monetize their passion. In the process, you can exponentially grow your distribution network; distribution, as we all know, presents one of the largest bottlenecks to brand growth.

Given that the SOMA marketplace integrates social media functionality as a core component, all of your customers will have a profile, a newsfeed, and the ability to follow you, comment, like, and share. Because SOMA is built on blockchain, we can add one more interaction to the these. If you enable the feature, a customer can choose to ‘resell’ your product, and when she does so, all her followers will see it for sale on her newsfeed and profile. If one of them buys it from her, a ‘smart contract’ takes her commission out of the sale automatically…no paperwork on your part.

Let’s say you’re a watch microbrand and would like to scale (SOMA has chosen the wristwatch scene as our first market). You decide to amplify your distribution efforts with SOMA’s reselling function.

On your SOMA retail management system (storefront backend), when you create item listings, you’ll have the option to enable reselling (a setting also allows universal enabling of this feature). You choose to do so, and a prompt asks you to set the commission.

If you leave the commission blank, you’re allowing the would-be reseller to set their desired commission, after which you receive a notification and can accept or reject their reselling offer. A chat feature allows haggling. If you want to skip all that, just set the commission you’re willing to pay and be done with it.

Say you offer 10% commission on a $1,200.00 watch. Does an easy $120 motivate your SOMA followers and customers? You’ll find out. Considering how easy it is for them, probably. You can always increase it later if you’re not getting enough quality takers.

Horology nut George Wilkerson of Manchester, UK follows your every update on his SOMA newsfeed and owns several of your watches. His friends have admired them and have hinted at purchasing one for themselves.

Additionally, George has several hundred followers on the SOMA platform, who interact enthusiastically with his posts (which usually involve a #wristshot of his watches in various locales).

To top it off, George maintains a WordPress blog with a couple thousand subscribers, on which he posts every other month or so. A mix of travelogue, stream-of-consciousness, and life updates, George’s writing amuses and engages his readers—and he almost always manages to weave a watch review aspect into his blogging.

Scanning his SOMA newsfeed of a Saturday morning, coffee in hand, George notices that your brand page has a new update: you’ve just listed your latest creation. George ‘likes’ the post instinctively and comments ‘another masterpiece guys…wouldn’t expect anything less from you.’ He then pauses over the ‘resell’ button. This is new: he clicks it and sees that he can make $120. That’s small potatoes to him, but he’s intrigued regardless and follows through on the reselling prompts.

Almost immediately, George sees a notification that ‘Beckett has liked your post’ and ‘Beckett has commented on your post.’ ‘What’s this? You an authorized distributor or what?’ Beckett says. ‘Lol I guess so’ you respond. Beckett gives a thumbs up, and more likes and interactions pour in. An hour later, one of your friends has clicked ‘Buy’ on your post and you have your commission in your SOMA wallet.

(Understandably, not all brands prioritize growth. We respect the dedicated artisan who produces limited-edition products and cares nothing for expanding operations. Such brands can still benefit from SOMA in other ways (most notably, our ability to verify the provenance of products to successive owners and tell a story about each product over its lifecycle) without availing yourself of our reselling function. Growth is a huge priority to many brands, however, and we’re assuming you fall into the latter group if you’re still reading.)

How would you like to have a hundred Georges? A thousand? Ten thousand?

A similar increase in distribution would normally require substantial administrative scale-up, but not with SOMA. Not only do you not need to train George, manage George, and pay George’s commission—you don’t even need to know George’s identity! Hundreds or thousands of anonymous resellers bring no workload to you: all you need to know is that sales are booming, profits are incoming, and commissions are being paid on autopilot. SOMA’s robust reporting system provides any visibility you need, when you need it, but otherwise you’re free to focus on making watches, fishing, or…whatever.With your finger on the commission dial, you can shut off resales or alter your commission payout (higher to attract more resellers, lower if you’re having trouble keeping up with demand).

George, meanwhile, plays around with reselling a few more of your watches, then does so with some of his other favorite brands. Easy peasy, and soon a nice stream of side income tugs his attention away from his accounting job. He realizes that he can promote his SOMA listings across the web: in addition to selling within the SOMA marketplace, he begins to feature them at the end of his blog posts, on Facebook, and elsewhere.

Eventually, George does this fulltime, makes more money than he did before, and loves every minute of it. Beyond watches, he reviews and sells other men’s fashion items, travel gear, and, eventually, luxury automobiles.

About SOMA

On legacy ecommerce platforms, anonymous usernames and depersonalized storefronts strip trade interactions of an important social element. Additionally, buyers lack a definitive way to ensure the authenticity of items. Enter SOMA. Our Heimdall Protocol stops forgeries and counterfeiting by validating ownership and provenance history on the blockchain. Social media elements bring personalization and interaction to trade, and allow users to monetize social influence, while a rewards system incentivizes beneficial collaboration. SOMA is a free-market ecosystemfree of market manipulation, price-fixing, gouging, and bloat.

The post SOMA: A Digitized Market Place That Is Determined To Revolutionize Sales appeared first on Abacus Journal – Cryptocurrency News.