April 8, 2019
Alphacon Network: Blockchain-based Healthcare Platform for 120 year lifespans in the Alpha Age
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World’s First Bitcoin ETF Approved with Expected Launch in Bermuda by End of Year
The first-ever Bitcoin ETF will be launched on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) by Hashdex, a regulated Brazilian fund manager, and Nasdaq after garnering approval for the “Hashdex Nasdaq Crypto Index” four days ago.
The news continues Bermuda’s legacy of being a crypto-friendly offshore international business and financial center.
Three million Class E shares will be issued for trading and the exchange-traded fund is expected to go live by the end of 2020.
Hashdex currently boasts $46.4 in assets under management across four funds and uses Xapo, Kingdom Trust, and Vo1t for services relating to crypto custody. KPMG is the firm’s auditor.
‘When Bitcoin ETF?’
For years now, many Bitcoin proponents and cryptocurrency enthusiasts have been asking the question “when Bitcoin ETF?” While one is officially on the way for the Bermuda Stock Exchange, the prospect of such a regulated, insured, and institutional-focused vehicle for BTC exposure appearing on exchanges in the United States appears grim.
Bids from various parties — such as the Winklevoss twins, VanEck, SolidX, and Wilshire Pheonix — have all been rejected by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or pulled by the applicants. The securities regulator has frequently claimed that applicants failed to provide enough evidence that the BTC market is resistant to manipulation.
Speaking on the matter was the SEC’s Chair, Jay Clayton, who said that a Bitcoin ETF in the US is possible, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
‘Biggest Front-Running Opportunity of Your Life’
However, former Goldman Sachs executive and well-known fund manager Raoul Pal believes that a Bitcoin ETF is coming to the U.S. very soon. He recently stated:
“I’m going to give you the biggest front-running opportunity of your life: they will get an ETF across the line. There will be billions of dollars that pour into it. Every pension plan will allocate some money to it. Every family office will allocate some money to it. And the more the price goes up, the more they will allocate.”
Whether or not Pal’s prediction comes to fruition remains to be seen. However, it stands to reason that the SEC is objectively aware of the BTC market’s continued maturation and correlation to the equities markets. As such, it may take a more favorable stance as new Bitcoin ETF applications come across its desks.
US Binance CEO says companies not adopting crypto are “ignorant.”
In an interview with Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway on Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast, US Binance CEO Catherine Coley said crypto had the ability to offer “uses beyond speculation” wherein investors could engage in e-commerce transactions, drive new businesses, and other real-world applications like mortgages. She said, “If you’re building a company in the next five years and you do not consider digital assets as a component, you’re ignorantly going into this. It’s an adoption case that is pandemic resilient.” Crypto-related startup stories have become more frequent this year.
“Companies should take their cues from cryptocurrency.”
Catherine Coley, the CEO of crypto exchange Binance’s United States branch, said that in the future, companies should take their cues from cryptocurrency, which has made conversations about money more convenient for the average person but also more accessible to professionals in traditional finance. The crypto industry is an industry that is reaching a significantly different audience than finance,” said Coley. “I’ve been able to stay off the streets because of crypto, and there is so much benefit in that, that people underestimate,” she added.
Binance launches its crypto debit card.
Crypto exchange giant Binance revealed that its Binance Visa Card is now available for use throughout the European Economic Areas earlier this month. The rollout was initially announced in July this year. Crypto cards allow users to preload their accounts using supported digital currencies, which are then converted to fiat and deducted from the balance during the time of payment at a retail location. In Binance’s case, the money is taken directly from the user’s trading account. Binance card, powered by Swipe, works like your traditional debit card. But instead of fiat, you’ll be holding digital assets, such as BTC, BNB, SXP, and BUSD.
BRD Is Breaking Into the Crypto Compliance Game
BRD team is spearheading a new initiative: Blockset, a business-to-business blockchain technology stack with a bent towards compliance, surveillance and security for cryptocurrency companies and government agencies.
After its 2014 launch, Bread was the first Bitcoin wallet to land on Apple’s app store. A couple of years later, the wallet launched a $32 million ICO and changed its name to BRD in a bid to “unify” its brand. Since then, BRD has expanded its coin support, launched new features like payment IDs, and expanded in-wallet crypto purchases to a motley of fiat currencies.
Now, for its latest initiative, BRD has recently partnered with blockchain analysis/intelligence companies Chainalysis, CipherTrace and Elliptic, along with security firm Unbound Tech. The latter has been instrumental in securing Blockset’s key management features, while the former companies will provide Blockset with regulatory compliance and blockchain monitoring tools.
Blockset: A suit-and-tie tech stack
“Layering these crucial applications on top of Blockset allows us to offer a comprehensive, broad-use offering to financial institutions from a single platform. This also enables our enterprise customers to address many use cases across all their crypto projects from a single vendor,” BRD CEO Adam Traidman told CoinDesk.
Per a Blockset press release, the new tech stack will provide anti-money laundering (AML), fraud detection, and other compliance tools, along with key management, security measures and data feeds for “financial institutions, government agencies, and cryptocurrency businesses.”
For AML and compliance, the software combines Chainalysis’ know-your transaction tools with CipherTrace’s travel rule compliance software. These features, along with risk-management software from Elliptic, will create real-time alerts to flag suspicious or fraudulent activity and “tainted” transactions for Blockset clients.
Traidman told CoinDesk that BRD is marketing its Blockset services primarily to financial institutions and banks that need sound compliance and key-management solutions. Regulators and government agencies are another logical fit given Blockset’s partnership with leading blockchain analysis firms.
According to BRD, SBI Holdings, PayPal, KPMG, and Ripple’s developer initiative Xpring have all participated in a private pre-release of Blockset’s technology, along with some 16 other firms.
BRD, which reportedly has over six million downloads and 550,000 monthly active users, “is powered by Blockset,” according to BRD documentation shared with CoinDesk. A BRD representative claimed that the wallet will not use Blockset’s AML and compliance features; instead, Blockset is just used to quickly sync BRD wallets with Bitcoin’s (and other coins’) transaction histories.
Compliance comes to crypto
BRD’s new initiative is another tech stack in the fast-growing landscape of crypto-compliance software.
Some time ago, the Financial Action Task Force recommended that crypto transactions should adhere to the travel rule – a banking mandate wherein transactions greater than $10,000 must include fund-sourcing disclosure and payer/payee identity information. Since then, crypto companies have chased solutions to streamline compliance tools for exchanges, brokers, service providers and other market participants.
“Compliance is of utmost importance for any financial institution. It’s important for banks and enterprises to have the foresight to stay ahead of the regulatory curve. They need the knowledge and resources to protect their clients and themselves,” Traidman told CoinDesk.
Still, critics of the travel rule have weighed whether or not it hampers cryptocurrency business with undue burdens and even whether or not such a rule is sustainable at scale.
Indeed, the recently leaked “FinCen files” illustrate the failure of financial surveillance in the legacy financial system as some $2 trillion worth of money-laundered funds were pushed, sans renovation or consequence, through accounts held by criminals, oligarchs and other powerful persons at JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon.
As the same surveillance burden comes to the Bitcoin economy, perhaps the public nature of the blockchain’s digital ledger will make enforcing these mandates easier – if privacy preserving technology doesn’t keep up with the regulatory requirements, that is.
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