eToro’s 9M Users Set To Increase with US Exchange & Wallet Launch

UK-based trading platform eToro has announced it will launch an international cryptocurrency exchange and mobile wallet, debuting in the US for the first time. $100M Series E Funds Put To Work As part of a keynote speech at the Consensus 2018 conference in New York which finished May 16, eToro CEO Yoni Assia confirmed the move, which will provide US traders with ten cryptocurrency pairs. “U.S. crypto holders have a strong appetite for diversified portfolios,”

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Ethereum Foundation Advisor: SEC Lacks Fundamental Understanding of Core Nature of Crypto

William Mougayar, advisor to the Ethereum Foundation, claims that the SEC is “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole” regarding crypto regulation.

William Mougayar, author of “The Business Blockchain” and advisor to the Ethereum Foundation, said in an interview with CNBC May 18, that regulators lack a foundational understanding of cryptocurrencies.

Speaking to CNBC, Mougayar explained that in an attempt to regulate digital currencies, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lacks an understanding of the core nature of the industry, trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach:

“The SEC is still trying to educate themselves, not just educate the public … Right now they are still grappling with it and for them the box that they play in is that they see all these cryptocurrencies as a security. But in reality not everything is a security. They want everything to play in that box.”

Answering a question about whether the SEC wants to keep digital currency classified as a security, specifically so they can regulate it, Mougayar responded:

“Exactly. That’s their box, the box they play in. They see everything as a security and they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, but not everything is a security right now.”

Regarding Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s recent statement that Bitcoin (BTC) will be the native currency of the Internet, Mougayar said that he considers BTC one of the native currencies, but “it’s not going to be the only one, there will be others.”

Mougayar stated that Ethereum (ETH) will “definitely” overtake BTC because it has the “largest ecosystem of developers and start-ups, and venture capital, and all kinds of support going around it.” He said:

“What’s important is not just the technology itself – it’s who is using it.”

Mougayar further explained that currently, cryptocurrencies are underused in their capacity as utilities with real use cases, where they would serve a real purpose and not merely be speculatory instruments. He pointed out that 53 percent of Ethereum transactions are on smart contracts. According to Mougayar this shows that it is “not just as a currency, [but] a utility.”

Recently, the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy at the SEC launched a fake initial coin offering (ICO) website, the goal of which is to increase awareness of the typical warning signs of scam ICOs and to promote investor education. According to the SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, the regulator supports the adoption of new technologies, but it also encourages investors to educate themselves and understand what fraudulent offers look like.

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Coinbase Aims to Obtain Banking Licenses

Coinbase, the largest U.S. Bitcoin exchange, has initiated exploratory conversations with financial regulators regarding banking licenses. Coinbase and Ivy Koin Meet with U.S. Regulators About Banking Licenses Coinbase is now intent on learning how to obtain banking licenses. The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to undisclosed sources, the exchange held conversations with officials from the U.S Office of the Controller of the Currency in early 2018. According to the report: Coinbase Inc. and another cryptocurrency

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People’s Bank of China: ‘Government Must Have Monopoly on Currency Issuance’

A seasoned counselor at the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) maintains that the control for currency issuance should remain within the government. The senior official also said that blockchain technology must remain astray from finance. His statements come despite the country’s intentions to create a state-owned cryptocurrency. Decentralization is Bad Spoken like a flat-out banker, Sheng Songcheng, a senior counselor to PBoC with more than two decades of experience, said that blockchain-based technology needs to

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Nocoiner Financial Advisers Are Failing Their Clients

With institutional investment being something of a major theme in the blockchain space these days, financial advisors better start studying up on cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology – and fast – lest they risk losing their clients.  ‘It’s Really Here to Stay’ JP Morgan chairman Jamie Dimon once called Bitcoin a “fraud,” and Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley once told CNBC, “You will never see a fund from Vanguard on bitcoin.” Their loss. Despite a slew of negativity

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Swiss Government Requests Study on State-Backed Digital Currency

The Swiss Federal Council has called for a study to examine the associated risks and opportunities of a government-issued cryptocurrency, the e-franc.

The Federal Council of the Government of Switzerland has requested a report on the risks and opportunities of introducing its own state-backed digital currency, or so called “e-franc”, Reuters reported May 17.

The Federal Council moved to investigate the subject at the prompt of Swiss lawmaker and vice-president of the Social Democratic Party, Cedric Wermuth. Now, the lower house of the Swiss parliament has to decide whether to support the Federal Council’s request for research. Should the proposal be approved, the Swiss Finance Ministry will conduct a study on the subject. No time frame has been published regarding the process. The Council stated:

“The Federal Council is aware of the major challenges, both legal and monetary, which would be accompanied by the use of an e-franc… It asks that the proposal be adopted to examine the risks and opportunities of an e-franc and to clarify the legal, economic and financial aspects of the e-franc.”

The idea to develop a national cryptocurrency was put forward in February by Romeo Lacher, chairman of the Swiss stock exchange SIX. He said, “An e-franc under the control of the central bank would create a lot of synergies – so it would be good for the economy.”

Other traditional financial institutions in the country have remained wary of the introduction of cryptocurrencies. Board Member of the Swiss National Bank Andréa Maechler said last month, that private-sector digital currencies are better and less risky than nationally-issued versions, as a government-issued cryptocurrency could increase the risk of so-called “bank runs.”

Earlier this month, Switzerland’s largest bank UBS declined to offer trading in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The bank’s chairman Axel Weber called for stricter controls on cryptocurrencies, stating “[cryptocurrencies] are often not transparent and, therefore, open to being abused.”

Other countries have also begun considering the possibility of a national digital currency. Sweden’s Riksbank is investigating whether they should issue an e-krona, as the use of physical banknotes in the country continue to decline.

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Chinese ASIC Manufacturer To Turn To AI In Case Of Stricter Gov’t Regulation

Bitmain is looking to artificial intelligence as the natural option to turn to in case of an increase in China’s already stringent crypto regulations.

Due to the recent crypto crackdown in China, Chinese ASIC chip manufacturer Bitmain is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as an alternate revenue source, Bloomberg reports today, May 17.

China’s crypto regulations have included an initial coin offering (ICO) ban in the fall of last year, this January’s ban on “exchange-like services,” and the February ban on foreign crypto exchanges.

Bitmain manufactures the processing chips and miners that mine for a variety of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and altcoin Monero; although the release of the Monero-mining Antminer at the end of March led Monero to upgrade in order to preserve its ASIC-resistant nature.

Jihan Wu, Bitmain’s co-chief executive, told Bloomberg in one of his infrequent interviews that because “artificial intelligence requires lots of computations,” it is the natural alternative option for the ASIC manufacturer:

“As a China company, we have to be prepared.”

Bitmain’s Sophon BM1680 chip, which they began selling in October, can more cheaply speed up machine learning as compared to those made by Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices Inc, although it is not as powerful.

Wu — who predicts that AI chips could account for up to 40 percent of Bitmain’s revenue in five years — told Bloomberg that Bitmain is “just trying to do something that they cannot take care of well enough.”

At the end of February this year, a report showed that Bitmain, a four-year-old company, made between $3 and $4 bln in operating profits in 2017, as compared to twenty-seven-year-old competitor Nvidia, who made about $3 bln during the same period.

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JPMorgan Creates and Fills New Position of Head of Crypto Assets Strategy

JPMorgan creates and fills new position of head of crypto assets strategy, post will identify and lead new crypto projects at bank.

Leading US banking group and financial services firm JPMorgan Chase has recently created and filled the new position of head of crypto-assets strategy, Business Insider reported today, May 17.

London-based Oliver Harris, 29, will take the new role, reporting to the head of blockchain development, Umar Farooq. Harris will also lead JPMorgan’s internal blockchain project Quorum, which began testing by JP Morgan Chase and the National Bank of Canada last month.

According to Business Insider, Harris will be identifying and leading new crypto projects for the bank, rather than actively trading in cryptocurrencies. He will reportedly investigate crypto custody services and how blockchain could work in JPMorgan’s payments business.  

For the last two years, Harris has been leading JPMorgan’s In Residence program, which identifies and partners with fintech startups that the bank finds promising.

Daniel Pinto, co-president of JPMorgan, has recently taken a positive stance on cryptocurrencies in an interview with CNBC, claiming that the “tokenization” of the financial system is “real”, with “many central banks looking into” it. However, Pinto stressed that crypto adoption is not possible in its “current form”.

In general, the investment banking giant has been skeptical of cryptocurrencies. JPMorgan banned its customers from crypto purchases with credit cards back in February, in addition to including cryptocurrencies to the “Risk Factor” section of its 2017 annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Last year, JPMorgan’s Chairman & CEO Jamie Dimon called Bitcoin (BTC) a “fraud” and claimed that he would fire any employee trading BTC on the company’s accounts. Dimon soon reversed his position in January, admitting that he regretted his earlier statements and adopting a lukewarm stance toward crypto. Dimon said he is, “not interested that much in [crypto] at all.”

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Wall Street Journal Research Finds ‘Red Flags’ In 19% Of ICOs

271 out of 1450 ICOs found by the Wall Street Journal use “deceptive or even fraudulent tactics,” it says.

The Wall Street Journal released findings from its analysis of almost 1500 initial coin offerings (ICOs) May 17, concluding 18.6% of them raised “red flags.”

The latest source to investigate the still-booming ICO market, the WSJ warned that of the 1450 offerings it found, 271 of them were using what it described as “deceptive or even fraudulent tactics.”

Those tactics ranged from hiding or providing fake information about the issuing company’s location and leadership to secrecy about finances and even plagiarized whitepapers.

Of the 271 suspicious actors, some have already shut down, with lawsuits and regulators resulting in investors attempting to recoup an estimated $273 mln in lost funds.

Authorities continue to grapple with the rate of expansion of ICOs throughout the world in 2018, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) resolving to closely monitor the domestic arena for bad actors.

The fundraising tool further divides opinion both inside and outside the cryptocurrency industry.

Cointelegraph today reported on how UK platform CoinShares’ CEO Danny Masters said improvements to the ICO arena were an essential step in allowing Bitcoin markets to grow.

Earlier this month meanwhile, Zhao Changpeng, CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance, released a dedicated blog post praising ICOs, investing in which he described as “100 times easier than through traditional VCs.”

“Scams exist everywhere, in every industry,” he wrote on the topic of illegal offerings.

“I still receive phone calls and SMS telling me I won a grand prize, but I need to make a bank transfer to someone first. Does that mean we should stop using phones, SMS, and banks?”

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Germany’s 2nd Largest Stock Exchange To Launch Zero-Fee Crypto Trading App

The Stuttgart Börse, which reportedly has a trading volume of $100 bln, has announced it is launching a zero-fee smartphone crypto trading app, dubbed ‘Bison.’

Germany’s second largest stock exchange, the Stuttgart Börse, which reportedly has a trading volume of $100 bln, has announced it is launching a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading app, Thursday, May 17. The smartphone app, dubbed ‘Bison,’ will be free to use as of fall 2018, and has been developed together with fintech startup Sowa Labs.

Four cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple – will be supported from the app’s launch, with additional digital assets promised “in the near future.” The interface and trading process aims at convenience, forgoing the need for crypto wallets or paperwork.

The platform also gives users an artificial intelligence (AI) data analysis tool, ‘Cryptoradar,’ which analyzes over 250,000 crypto-related tweets from the crypto sphere daily to give real-time insight into community sentiment. As of press time, Cryptoradar’s algorithm on the Bison website shows Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin as neutral, with Ripple edging towards the positive spectrum.

A prototype of the app was presented today at the finance and investment trade fair Invest in Stuttgart, with Dr Ulli Spankowski, Managing Director at Sowa Labs, commenting that Bison “is the first crypto app in the world to have a traditional stock exchange behind it.’ Sowa Labs claims that their survey of over 1,000 participants showed that the majority of investors would like “easier” access to the crypto markets.

Last week, Cointelegraph reported on stock trading mobile app Robinhood raising $363 mln in funding in order to expand its crypto-specific platform US-wide, with plans to support 16 different cryptocurrencies, all zero-fee. With the recent funding, Robinhood became the second most valuable fintech startup in the US, with a current valuation of $5.6 bln, and an SEC-compliant broker-dealer status, unlike leading US crypto trading platform Coinbase.

Beyond convenient entry points into the crypto space for individuals, perhaps the most important precedent for Stuttgart Börse’s new crypto venture is the New York Stock Exchange owner’s recent announcement of its own plans to offer Bitcoin (BTC) swap contracts that would be settled in BTC, allowing its traditional Wall Street clients to both buy and hold the cryptocurrency.

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