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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SEC Launches Mock ICO to Show Investors Warning Signs of Fraud

The SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy launched a fake ICO website to illustrate common warning signs of a scam.

Office of Investor Education and Advocacy at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a fake initial coin offering (ICO) website,  according to a press release May 16. The goal of the site is to increase awareness of the typical warning signs of scam ICOs and to promote investor education.

The mock website HoweyCoins.com represents a classic example of a fraud ICO website that touts an “all too good to be true investment opportunity.” The website includes such details as a misleading and blurry white paper, guaranteed returns claims, celebrity endorsements, and a countdown clock that is “quickly running out on the deal of a lifetime.”

When a user clicks on “Buy Coins Now,” they are lead to the website Investor.gov, which was established by the SEC to help investors avoid fraud. The site warns that if users would have responded to an investment offer like HoweyCoins, they “could have been scammed.”

ICO - HOWEYCOINS

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton emphasized that the agency supports the adoption of new technologies, but it also encourages investors to educate themselves and understand what fraudulent offers look like:

“We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with many of the classic warning signs of fraud. Distributed ledger technology can add efficiency to the capital raising process, but promoters and issuers need to make sure they follow the securities laws. I encourage investors to do their diligence and ask questions.”

Owen Donley, Chief Counsel of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, noted that a fraudulent ICO website can be set up in a very little time, which illustrates how easy and fast it can be to launch another scam offer. “Fraudsters can quickly build an attractive website and load it up with convoluted jargon to lure investors into phony deals,” Donley said.

Earlier this week, Cointelegraph reported that three co-founders of cryptocurrency startup Centra Tech have been formally indicted for running a fraudulent ICO. Centra Tech’s ICO raised $32 mln from investors in 2017. The Florida-based founders misled investors by claiming that they had partnered with Visa and Mastercard to issue virtual currency debit cards.

Late last month, SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson expressed criticism of ICOs in general, claiming that investors “are having a hard time telling the difference between investments and fraud.” He further stated that the ICO market is a prime example of what an unregulated securities market would look like.

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Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Confirms IPO Filing, Backed by Major Banks

Canaan Creative is pushing ahead with its IPO, which could raise $1bln, reports announced this week.

Chinese Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer Canaan Creative plans to start trading of its IPO as soon as July, Bloomberg reports May 16.

Canaan, which confirmed rumors it was planning an IPO with a filing this week, will likely create the largest Bitcoin-focused offering yet seen when it debuts on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg added that while the filing did not mention a specific fundraising target, the figure “could” circle $1bln – a figure which had previously appeared earlier this month.

The move would create further competition for mining stalwart Bitmain, with Canaan currently already controlling around 15% of the Bitcoin chips and hardware equipment market.

In an interview with Reuters last month, meanwhile, co-chairman Jianping Kong said the numbers were equal to “a quarter of the world’s bitcoin blockchain computing power.”

Major IPO backers appearing on the filing are Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG and CMB International Capital Ltd.

Canaan has yet to issue a public statement about the move, declining comment after a request from Reuters Tuesday.

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Japan: Nomura Bank Announces Crypto Custody Solution For Institutional Investors

Japan-based global investment bank Nomura has announced a joint venture to establish a custody offering for digital assets.

Japan-based global investment bank Nomura has announced a venture to establish a custody offering for digital assets, Cointelegraph Japan reports today, May 16. The new project aims at removing barriers to institutional investment in the crypto space.

Nomura’s joint venture will be conducted in partnership with digital asset security company Ledger and investment house Global Advisors, according to reports.

The partners allege that a shortage of robust and legally regulated “safekeeping solutions” is currently preventing traditional asset managers from building investment vehicles in the crypto ecosystem, emphasizing that overcoming custody and security obstacles is crucial given that “one in five finance firms are [allegedly] considering launching digital asset trading and investment businesses in the coming year.”

The new digital asset custody venture is dubbed “Komainu,” and will provide infrastructure and an operational framework for institutional investors to integrate their traditional investment vehicles into the “frontier” crypto industry.

Just yesterday, major US crypto wallet provider and exchange service Coinbase announced its own custodian solution to address security and regulatory compliance concerns, with Coinbase VP Adam White saying that the product could “unlock $10 bln of institutional investor money sitting on the sideline.”

Earlier this month, New York Stock Exchange owner ICE revealed its own plans to offer crypto swap contracts that would be settled in BTC, suggesting it too has come up with an SEC-compliant custody solution for institutional holders.

The narrative that custody and regulatory obstacles are the last remaining obstacle for the crypto market to “mature” and draw major institutional investment is widely shared, and led CNBC’s Robert Kelly to suggest recently that cryptocurrencies now “look to be becoming an emergent asset class,” with custody solutions a significant milestone that could soon herald widespread crypto adoption in the traditional financial sector.

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Ripple Launches Initiative To Support Entrepreneurs, Businesses Using XRP Tech

Ripple announced a new program that will both invest in and and incubate businesses that use Ripple’s XRP technologies

Ripple has launched a new initiative, Xpring, that will provide investments and grants to entrepreneurs using the XRP token and the XRP ledger, Ripple announced on their blog yesterday, May 14.

A former director of the Facebook Developer Network, Ethan Beard, will serve as Senior Vice President to lead both Xpring and Ripple’s developer program. Beard said that “…XRP – with it’s speed, scalability and demonstrated real-world use case – is a great tool for startups and entrepreneurs to build businesses around.”

Xpring partners operate as separate entities of Ripple, although Ripple provides Xpring’s capital. In certain cases, Xpring will take board seats or ownership stakes in the companies they support.

Last week, financial institutions that took part in a pilot of Ripple’s xRapid platform reported both improved transaction speeds and savings of 40-70 percent. In April, Ripple Foundation’s chief market strategist Corey Johnson said that XRP is not a security. Johnson wanted to allay speculation that XRP had not been added to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase due to questions over its status.

At the beginning of May, Ripple was named in a class action lawsuit by an investor of XRP who has alleged that XRP sales were indeed unregistered securities sales.

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Circle Raises $110 Mln In Investment Round, Plans To Release Fiat-Based Stable Coin

Circle and Bitmain’s cooperation has resulted in a $110 mln investment round and the planned development of a fiat-based stable coin, which will reportedly be released this summer

Boston-based Circle Internet Financial Ltd., a digital currency products developer, has closed a $110 mln fundraising round led by mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain, Bloomberg reports May 15. The two companies are now partners in a project to create a token which is backed by US dollars.

The investment lifts Circle’s valuation to nearly $3 bln, which is more than six times what it was in 2016. The partnership between Bitmain and Circle has also resulted in plans to develop a fiat-backed token or “stable coin”, which aims to address the unstable nature of some cryptocurrencies. The project is called Circle USD Coin, or USDC, and will reportedly be released by Circle in the summer.

USDC will be an ERC-20 token based on the Ethereum network. It will be backed one-to-one with the dollar and is lauded by supporters to carry many of the benefits of cryptocurrencies, without the risk of volatility. Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire said in an interview at an industry conference Monday, that the token will also provide greater transparency. He added:

“It’s a version of fiat that can move at the speed of the Internet with global reach, with much less cost, with high levels of security. It’s a huge improvement for how fiat money transmission can work around the world for consumers and for businesses who might want to collect digital payment with tokens.”

Circle, which has 7 mln users, is looking to integrate USDC in its Circle Pay payment app and in Circle Trade, a crypto OTC desk and liquidity provider. The company also plans to offer USDC on its cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex. Co-founder Sean Neville said that Circle hasn’t yet decided whether it will charge fees for traders using USDC, as the objective is to increase its circulation.

Fiat collateralized stable coins like USDC are the easiest type of stable coin to implement, as they function much like an IOU. Every token is paired with an equal amount of fiat currency, which is held by a central custodian. Holders are then able to redeem their coins for the stable value denominated in fiat.

In general, stable coins aim to carry both the relative price stability of fiat currencies, and keep the core values of cryptocurrencies such as decentralization and security. For truly decentralized stable coins to work, there must also be a system in place that can reliably obtain the exchange rate between the stable coin and the pegged asset, without leaning on third-party institutions that can be manipulated.

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Coinbase Targets ‘$10 Bln’ Institutional Investor Market With New Suite Of Products

Major US crypto wallet and exchange service Coinbase has announced it is launching a series of new products aimed at drawing in major institutional capital.

Major US crypto wallet provider and exchange service Coinbase has announced it is launching a suite of new products aimed at institutional investors, according to an official blog post today, May 15.

The four products – Coinbase Custody, Coinbase Markets, The Coinbase Institutional Coverage Group and Coinbase Prime – all focus on alleviating major concerns that have allegedly caused institutional investors to hold back from entering the cryptocurrency space so far, such as security and regulatory compliance.

Adam White, Coinbase vice president and general manager, was confident in telling CNBC that:

“We think this can unlock $10 billion of institutional investor money sitting on the sideline. We’re seeing a rapid increase in attention awareness and adoption in the cryptocurrency market.”

Coinbase Custody, first announced last year in an official Coinbase blog post, addresses the “number one” concern of institutional investors, namely, security. The company explains that the  custody solution for digital assets will secure clients’ funds through rigorous financial controls such as multi signatory protection, audit trails, and withdrawal limits.

Although the company reportedly already stores over $20 bln worth of clients’ crypto, according to CNBC, Coinbase Custody will be established in partnership with a third party auditor, reported to be an SEC-compliant independent broker-dealer.

Coinbase Markets, meanwhile, will be a Chicago-run electronic marketplace that provides a centralized pool of liquidity for all investors, and aims to offer settlement and clearing services in future, according to Coinbase’s announcement today. In addition, Coinbase Prime will be an separate trading platform for institutional clients.

Coinbase currently has over 20 mln customers and has already traded $150 bln in digital assets on its crypto exchange platform, according to CNBC. In 2017, it reported $1 bln in revenue, according to figures from Recode, with $225 million in VC funding from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and the New York Stock Exchange. It reportedly valued itself at around $8 bln in an acquisition deal this spring.

This month, New York Stock Exchange owner ICE announced its own plans to settle crypto swap contracts in BTC, suggesting it too has come up with an SEC-compliant custody solution for institutional holders. ICE’s announcement came just days after investment banking giant Goldman Sachs said it would be opening a crypto trading desk “within weeks.” With custody and regulatory obstacles seemingly out of the way, many have predicted that a “mature” crypto market will indeed inevitably draw major institutional investment into the space.

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Forex Platform Serving Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Adds Crypto Trading

Kx Systems has recently launched crypto trading on its forex trading platform to “meet the ‎current and future needs of clients.”

Software developer Kx Systems has launched cryptocurrency trading on its white label forex (FX) trading platform Kx for Flow, the company reported in a blog post May 14. Starting today, Kx for Flow customers are able to conduct spot trading of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP).

US-based Kx Systems is a high-performance software supplier with customers including global investment banking group Goldman Sachs, multinational investment bank Morgan Stanley, and GSA Capital Partners hedge fund. Kx Systems also commercialized the proprietary processing languages K and Q.

Kx for Flow, an HTML5 FX trading platform, allows customers to create liquidity pools and publish price information to markets and clients. The platform operates with such liquidity sources as banks, non-deliverable forwards, precious metals, contracts-for-difference, and now cryptocurrencies.

According to the Kx Head of FX Solutions Rich Kiel, the company’s move toward cryptocurrencies is mainly driven by customer acquisition purposes, since the company has been “inundated with ‎interest in crypto.”

“As with most ‎leading trading technology providers we have been inundated with ‎interest in crypto. When you sift through the noise the interest from ‎mainstream financial services firms to begin trading cryptocurrencies ‎has been growing and we are delivering this solution to meet the ‎current and future needs of our clients.”‎

Kiel’s comments echoed those of Goldman Sachs executive Rana Yared, who cited customer interest as a driving motive for the firm to introduce contracts with Bitcoin exposure earlier this month.  Yared said, “It resonates with us when a client says, ‘I want to hold Bitcoin or Bitcoin futures because I think it is an alternate store of value.’”

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