UAE Remittance Firm Launching Ripple-Based Payments in Q1 2019

UAE Remittance Firm Launching Ripple-Based Payments in Q1 2019

One of the largest remittance firms in the United Arab Emirates, UAE Exchange, is working with Ripple to launch blockchain-based payments to Asia by the first quarter of next year. According to a report from Reuters on Thursday, the firm’s CEO Promoth Manghat said he expects to go live with support from “one or two banks in Asia” using blockchain-based payments network RippleNet. With a large number of Asian workers in the UAE, that corridor accounts for the largest portion of its global remittance flow. According to a local news report in May, transfers to India made up 36.7 percent of the remittance total, those to Pakistan 8.8 percent and the Philippines accounted for 6.9 percent. UAE Exchange says on its website that it is associated with over 140 banks and has a presence in 31 countries, yet it’s taking blockchain adoption slowly. “Blockchain holds tremendous promise for the industry but there is progress to be made before we see it go fully mainstream,” Manghat told Reuters. The firm’s collaboration with Ripple was first reported back in February, with UAE Exchange aiming to reduce cost and frictions associated with cross-border transactions. Ripple has signed deals with several financial institutions worldwide for blockchain-based remittances. Its recent partnerships include Malaysian banking group CIMB, South Korea’s crypto exchange Coinone, U.S. banking giant PNC, among others. Remittances market is expanding. Last year, migrant workers sent $256 billion to their families in the Asia-Pacific region alone, according to the latest United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) report. And according to World Bank projections, global remittances are expected to grow at $642 billion by end of this year. UAE coins image via Shutterstock 

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

The Daily In Thursday’s installment of The Daily, we report on a highly anticipated stablecoin project that’s failed before it’s even launched, and explore the strangely centralized world of crypto Twitter. First though, we’ll start with the news that a third party app has made it possible to pay for your Uber ride using BTC. Also read: Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets Fold Brings Bitcoin to Uber Fold, an app dedicated to making it easy to spend BTC in the real world, has added one of its biggest integrations yet. “We are excited to welcome Uber to Fold lineup,” explained the team in a blog post. “You can now use bitcoin to purchase your next Uber ride. Simply select the dollar amount, send your bitcoin, and then ride safely to your next event.” The app, which also enables BTC to be spent at stores such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, works by converting cryptocurrency into a corresponding gift card balance within the Fold wallet that can then be redeemed by scanning a code in-store. Developers Pull the Plug on Basis Stablecoin It’s being reported that Basis, the largest stablecoin project to date based on early stage funding, has been sunsetted. The algorithmic stablecoin, which had been categorized in the same bracket as coins like dai, raised $133 million in venture funding from the likes of a16z, Bain, DCG, Metastable, Pantera Capital, Polychain, Lightspeed, and Google Ventures. The bulk of that funding is now believed to have been returned, with the Basis team reportedly having been spooked by regulatory concerns. While the technical skills of the Basis team have generally been praised within the crypto space, not everyone was convinced by the merits of their algorithmic stablecoin. Back in May, Messari Crypto’s Qiao Wang predicted that Basis would “fail catastrophically”. Commenting on the rumored shutdown of Basis, Three Arrows Capital CEO Su Zhu wrote “I hope the industry thinks more critically about what the shape of a good project is in this space. You can’t just cobble together ex-bigtech/bankers, raise [nine figures], and then pop the champagne. More importantly I hope LPs ask their VCs harder questions.” Stablecoin skeptic Preston Byrne was equally unimpressed, linking to a blog he had penned a year…

Bitcoin Price Consolidates Sub-$3.5K With Bulls and Bears in Stalemate

Bitcoin Price Consolidates Sub-$3.5K With Bulls and Bears in Stalemate

Bitcoin (BTC) is consolidating below $3,500 for the third day straight. The challenge now is to gauge whether the bulls or the bears will win out in the coming days. As discussed yesterday, the leading cryptocurrency could soon see a corrective rally if prices manage to clear the crucial resistance at $3,633 (the high of an “inverted hammer” candle on the 3-day chart) by Friday’s UTC close. The bull case is also bolstered by bitcoin’s 14-week relative strength index, which is reporting oversold conditions for the first time since January 2015. A corrective rally, therefore, looks overdue. The odds of a move above $3,633 would rise if BTC’s five-day-long narrowing price range ends with a bullish breakout. As of writing, the upper edge of the price range is located at $3,456 and the lower edge is seen at $3,360. However, it’s worth remembering that BTC has repeatedly struggled to score a significant and lasting rally in recent weeks, despite the very oversold conditions. BTC is currently trading at $3,400 on Bitstamp, representing a 0.75 percent drop on a 24-hour basis. Hourly Chart BTC has created a symmetrical triangle (narrowing price range) on the hourly chart. A bull breakout would validate the argument put forward by the 3-day inverted hammer candle that bargain hunters are beginning to challenge the bears’ resolve to push prices lower. As a result, the triangle breakout, if confirmed, could yield a quick move higher to $3,633. BTC, however, risks falling to the 200-week moving average (MA) of $3,179 if prices pierce the triangle support of $3,360. That long-term MA support will likely hold ground, as the 14-week RSI is reporting extreme oversold conditions. 6-hour chart Many market technicians believe that a break of an RSI trendline often precedes the break of a trendline in price. Going by that logic, the falling channel breakout in the 6-hour chart RSI could be considered an advance warning of an impending bullish price move. View Bitcoin could see a stronger recovery rally if prices close above $3,633 on Friday. A symmetrical triangle breakout on the hourly chart would boost the probability of BTC finding acceptance above $3,633. A symmetrical triangle breakdown would be a bearish development, although downside could be restricted around the 200-week MA…

Overstock Venture Chief Expects Market for Blockchain Products in 2019

Overstock Venture Chief Expects Market for Blockchain Products in 2019

“People often say that ‘blockchain will change the world with dot-dot-dot.’ Now everybody needs to figure out what ‘dot-dot-dot’ is, and build it.” That’s how Jonathan Johnson, president of Overstock.com’s Medici Ventures, describes the blockchain-focused venture fund’s goals for 2019. He told CoinDesk that, for Medici’s 19 portfolio companies, the focus of the coming year “should change from coming up with new ideas to executing on those ideas.” Since 2014, Overstock has invested $175 million in Medici’s portfolio companies, a list that includes the security token trading platform tZERO, enterprise tech provider Symbiont, voting app Voatz, lending startup Ripio, data managing platform Factom, and others. Although it began as an investment arm, Medici may soon become the publicly traded company’s core business, as founder Patrick Byrne is seeking to sell the flagship online retailing site by February. If all goes according to plan, the sale would leave the company with “Medici, it’s assets and a bag of cash,” according to Johnson. But while he said the management team views blockchain as a long-term investment, they are aiming to see some preliminary results soon. “We want our portfolio companies to focus on having their products in production,” Johnson said, going on to explain: “When you have a product, it starts to open up the creative juices, [people start] asking ‘how we can use it’ and it changes the discussion. When it’s mostly about technology, people want to talk about the Merkle tree, mining, nonces… All that talk gets confusing and in the way of progress.” Medici’s chief operating officer, Steven Hopkins, agreed that delivering a product shifts the narrative. “We need to do more than just explain what blockchain applications can be,” he said in an interview. “We need to show people how amazing blockchain is by launching blockchain products. When people can use a product, they are half the way up the learning curve of what blockchain is. And now they actually care how it works.” By way of example, Johnson added: “I don’t know if my mother-in-law cares if a voting app uses blockchain. She would say: ‘Wait a second, is it a safe and secure way for me to vote? And I don’t have to go and wait in line at a junior…

P2P Markets Report: Latin American Markets Continue to Post Record Volume

P2P Markets Report: Latin American Markets Continue to Post Record Volume

Markets and Prices This past week has seen Latin American peer-to-peer markets continue to set records for trade volume. For the week ending Dec. 8, Argentina and Venezuela posted a new record for Localbitcoins trade when measured in fiat, while Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela also posted records for trade measured in BTC. Also Read: Zebpay Exchange Now Live in 21 European Countries Fiat Volume Records Posted by Argentina and Venezuela Argentina posted a new record for fiat P2P trade volume on Localbitcoins this past week, with over 9.4 million pesos worth of BTC changing hands. The week also saw a significant uptick in the number of BTC traded, with the 65 BTC comprising the most bitcoins traded in a single week since March 2017. ARS/BTC Localbitcoins trade measured in ARSVenezuela set a new record in fiat volume for the third consecutive week, with 3.2 billion Venezuelan bolivars’ worth of trade. The week of Dec. 8 also saw the third consecutive record for trade when measuring in BTC for Venezuela, with 1,636 BTC changing hands. VES/BTC Localbitcoins trade measured in VESBTC Records for Colombia and Peru 660 BTC were exchanged for Colombian pesos via Localbitcoins this past week, the most in the market’s history. The same week also comprised the fifth strongest when measuring in fiat currency, with 7.1 billion Colombian pesos’ worth of trade taking place. COP/BTC Localbitcoins trade measured in BTCPeru also posted a new record for the number of BTC traded on Localbitcoins in a single week, with 213 BTC exchanged. This comprised the eighth strongest on record when measuring in fiat, with roughly 2.68 million Peruvian sol of trade. PEN/BTC Localbitcoins trade measured in BTCChile and Mexico Post Strong Volume The week of Dec. 8 was the sixth strongest on record for Chilean P2P trade, with 196.4 million Chilean pesos’ worth of BTC changing hands. The week also comprised the fourth strongest on record when measuring in cryptocurrency, with 69 BTC traded. CLP/BTC Localbitcoins trade measured in BTCMexico also saw a strong week for P2P trade, posting the 10th strongest week on record for trade between BTC and Mexican pesos. The week also comprised the strongest since May 2017 when measuring in BTC, with 99 BTC worth of trade occurring. MXN/BTC Localbitcoins trade…

Benchmark University Study: Millions of New Crypto Asset Users – Most Remain Passive

Benchmark University Study: Millions of New Crypto Asset Users – Most Remain Passive

News Judge Business School, a subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, has published its second annual report into the cryptoconomy. Its inaugural report surfaced in April 2017, just as crypto mania was exploding. A lot has happened in the ecosystem since then, and the school’s new 96-page report covers a good portion of it, with a particular focus on cryptocurrency mining, exchanges, storage, and payments. Also read: BTC Gets a Health Check in ‘The State of Bitcoin’ Crypto Sector Receives Its Second Report in a Week Within days of cryptocurrency enthusiasts being treated to a 59-page health check in “The State of Bitcoin,” a second weighty tome has hit their desks. Cambridge University’s “Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study” is as comprehensive as it sounds. Not only is the reference report packed with even more information than Delphi Digital’s effort, but it zeroes in on areas that the previous report skirted. Judge Business School’s second crypto assets report draws a number of primary findings including: Millions of new users have entered the ecosystem, but most remain passive. The majority of mining facilities use some share of renewable energy sources as part of their energy mix. Mining is less concentrated than commonly perceived. The survey found that mobile wallets remain the most supported format but web wallet support has significantly increased.Unpacking a Trove of Data While the price of crypto assets has tumbled through most of 2018, user adoption has continued to grow for many leading digital currencies. The Cambridge report found that “Total user accounts at service providers [exchanges, etc.] now exceed 139 million with at least 35 million identity-verified users, the latter growing nearly 4x in 2017 and doubling again in the first three quarters of 2018.” The authors conclude, however, that only 38 percent of these users can be regarded as currently active. It is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of these individuals will reignite their interest in cryptocurrencies once the market recovers. Another key finding from the report concerns the growth in industry employment. Despite having been published within days of various crypto projects including Consensys, Spankchain, and Steemit all downsizing, the report highlights the significant expansion of the cryptocurrency workforce since 2016. Back, then, the average cryptocurrency business had just five employees.…

Major German Stock Exchange to Launch Crypto Trading Platform

Major German Stock Exchange to Launch Crypto Trading Platform

Germany’s second-largest stock exchange, Boerse Stuttgart Group, is set to launch a cryptocurrency trading platform in the first half of 2019. The firm announced Wednesday that it has partnered with a local fintech company solarisBank to create an engineering infrastructure for digital assets trading. solarisBank, which operates with a banking license in the country, will also be Boerse’s banking partner for the venture. “With its combination of technology and banking expertise, solarisBank is a great partner for us to offer central services along the value chain for digital assets,” said Alexander Hoptner, CEO of Boerse Stuttgart. Initially, trading for bitcoin and ether will be enabled on the platform, with support for other tokens expected once its initial coin offering (ICO) platform – also currently under development – goes live. Both individual and institutional investors will be able to trade on Boerse Stuttgart’s crypto platform, which will offer features similar to its stock trading platform. This includes open order books and order execution in compliance with relevant laws. Boerse Stuttgart is also seeking a regulatory approval to offer multilateral trading facility (MTF) for its crypto trading marketplace. MTF is a type of trading system that allows matching buyers and sellers of financial instruments using electronic systems. The stock exchange first revealed its plans to launch platforms for crypto and ICO token trading in August of this year, as well as a trading app called Bison and custody services for cryptocurrencies. The trading app will be launched by Boerse’s subsidiary Sowa Labs and will offer fee-free trading at launch, the firm said at the time. Just yesterday, SolarisBank also teamed up with a crypto payments startup Bitwala to help them offer crypto banking services in the country. Boerse Stuttgart image via Shutterstock 

A Built-In Ethereum Wallet Just Got Added to Opera’s Browser

A Built-In Ethereum Wallet Just Got Added to Opera’s Browser

Opera has announced the public release of its “Web 3-ready” Android web browser, which notably sports a built-in cryptocurrency wallet. Previously available in beta, Opera for Android supports ethereum’s ether and other tokens using the network’s ERC-20 standard. The app also provides support for crypto collectibles (ERC-721 standard) such as CryptoKitties, as well as ethereum-based decentralized apps, or dapps, that can be accessed from the wallet. “Until now using cryptocurrencies online and accessing Web 3 required special apps or extensions, making it difficult for people to even try it out. Our new browser removes that friction,” Charles Hamel, the product manager of Opera Crypto, said in a statement. Speaking to CoinDesk, Hamel said the new product is largely the same as the beta version, but as it was approaching a “much wider audience” the firm had taken feedback on board and updated the app’s user interface “significantly.” It now displays “less confusing language” to users and reduces the steps needed to set up the wallet. The firm opted to support ethereum because it has the “largest community of developers building dapps and has gathered a lot of momentum behind it,” according to Opera. Opera’s crypto wallet integrates the ethereum Web3 API, facilitating interactions with dapps. The firm is calling it a “tool to access information, make transactions online and manage users’ online identity in a way that gives them more control.” Hearing the feedback Hamel said that, during the beta stage, Opera had received feedback from developers wanting to ensure their dapps works as intended in the browser. As a result, “we have better stability and better dapp compatibility,” he said, adding that the wallet is “much more secure than a browser extension.” With the Android browser now available on the Google Play store, Opera plans add similar updates to its full desktop browser for Windows, Mac and Linux some time in 2019, while a developer version is already available for testing. Regarding an Apple iOS app, though, Hamel told CoinDesk that, since it’s a more “challenging” and “strict” environment” for app providers to operate, “It’s not a focus for us right now.” Krystian Kolondra, executive vice president for browsers at Opera, said in a statement: “Our hope is that this step will accelerate the transition…

Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets

Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets

News Judge Business School, a subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, has published its second annual report into the cryptoconomy. Its inaugural report surfaced in April 2017, just as crypto mania was exploding. A lot has happened in the ecosystem since then, and the school’s new 96-page report covers a good portion of it, with a particular focus on cryptocurrency mining, exchanges, storage, and payments. Also read: BTC Gets a Health Check in ‘The State of Bitcoin’ Crypto Sector Receives Its Second Report in a Week Within days of cryptocurrency enthusiasts being treated to a 59-page health check in “The State of Bitcoin,” a second weighty tome has hit their desks. Cambridge University’s “Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study” is as comprehensive as it sounds. Not only is the reference report packed with even more information than Delphi Digital’s effort, but it zeroes in on areas that the previous report skirted. Judge Business School’s second crypto assets report draws a number of primary findings including: Millions of new users have entered the ecosystem, but most remain passive. The majority of mining facilities use some share of renewable energy sources as part of their energy mix. Mining is less concentrated than commonly perceived. The survey found that mobile wallets remain the most supported format but web wallet support has significantly increased.Unpacking a Trove of Data While the price of crypto assets has tumbled through most of 2018, user adoption has continued to grow for many leading digital currencies. The Cambridge report found that “Total user accounts at service providers [exchanges, etc.] now exceed 139 million with at least 35 million identity-verified users, the latter growing nearly 4x in 2017 and doubling again in the first three quarters of 2018.” The authors conclude, however, that only 38 percent of these users can be regarded as currently active. It is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of these individuals will reignite their interest in cryptocurrencies once the market recovers. Another key finding from the report concerns the growth in industry employment. Despite having been published within days of various crypto projects including Consensys, Spankchain, and Steemit all downsizing, the report highlights the significant expansion of the cryptocurrency workforce since 2016. Back, then, the average cryptocurrency business had just five employees.…

Zebpay Exchange Now Live in 21 European Countries

Zebpay Exchange Now Live in 21 European Countries

Exchanges Zebpay, formerly one of India’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has launched in Europe. Euro deposits, withdrawals, and trading are now live in 21 countries. While the exchange is not accepting new registrations from India, existing users can continue to use its wallet app. Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations Zebpay Launches in 21 Countries Zebpay announced on Tuesday that its European exchange is now live. “We have recently expanded our global footprints in Europe with our exchange and wallet enabling crypto-to-crypto trading,” the company wrote, adding: We are live with euro deposits/withdrawals and trading in 21 countries (Malta, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Austria) in Europe for users and corporate investors. Customers need to sign up for an account and go through Zebpay’s know-your-customer (KYC) procedures. “After successful KYC and bank verification,” customers can then deposit euros into their Zebpay euro wallets via bank deposits, the exchange detailed. They can also trade BTC against the euro on the Zebpay exchange and withdraw fiat from the wallets. “We will soon add more digital assets that can be traded with euro,” the company wrote. For its European grand opening, Zebpay is offering zero-fee euro deposits as well as zero maker fees. Customers will also receive a reward of 0.25 percent per transaction. The offer is valid until Dec. 31 for supported euro and crypto-to-crypto trading pairs, currently BTC/EUR, ETH/BTC, LTC/BTC, XRP/BTC, BCH/BTC, EOS/BTC, and TRX/BTC. Indians Cannot Register In September, Zebpay closed down its exchange service in India due to the banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). At the time, the exchange claimed to have over 3 million users. Zebpay subsequently set up subsidiaries overseas. The company is registered in Malta under the name Awlencan Innovations Malta Ltd. Another related entity is Zeb Ventures Pte. Ltd. Zebpay explained that this Singapore-registered company “is engaged in the service of providing a platform for the buying and selling of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies through its mobile application known as Zebpay App, being listed on Android and iOS platforms.” The exchange’s website states: We are not accepting new registrations from India. The crypto banking ban in India…