Unconfirmed: US Regulators Could Approve Bakkt BTC Futures Launch in First Week of November

Unconfirmed: US Regulators Could Approve Bakkt BTC Futures Launch in First Week of November

The Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) Bakkt cryptocurrency platform could get approval to launch its physically-delivered Bitcoin (BTC) futures product from U.S. regulators next week, an unconfirmed anonymous source told tech outlet The Block Thursday, Oct. 25. Bakkt, which seeks to create a “regulated ecosystem” for institutional investors looking to gain exposure to cryptocurrency, had previously confirmed it planned to launch its futures product Dec. 12. Should regulators give the project the green light, ICE’s Bakkt will begin launching its Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract for clients as soon as the first week of next month, according to an unnamed source “with direct knowledge of the situation,” The Block says. The unnamed source also told the publication that Chicago trading shop DV Trading will trade Bakkt’s product. Concerns that non-custodial options will ultimately detract from the industry’s credibility have surfaced from cryptocurrency figures in particular, with crypto enthusiast Andreas Antonopoulos warning over the impact of regulators approving Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETF) in the future. Non-physical Bitcoin futures first launched from CBOE and CME Group in December 2017. Poor returns have combined with volatility in markets close to settlement dates, sparking debate among analysts.

The Daily: AMD Takes a Hit, Johnny Depp and Wu-Tang Clan Enter the Cryptosphere

The Daily: AMD Takes a Hit, Johnny Depp and Wu-Tang Clan Enter the Cryptosphere

The Daily Today’s edition of The Daily showcases the impact of cryptocurrencies on the computer hardware business and the entertainment industry. Weak demand for graphics processing units (GPUs) in the cryptocurrency mining industry has hurt the quarterly performance of Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD), while movie star Johnny Depp and hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan have separately become part of the broader crypto-ecosystem. Also Read: Cryptocurrency Roundup App Gets $100,000 Shark Tank Investment AMD’s Stock Plunges on Weak GPU Sales AMD published its third-quarter financial results this week, recording a sharp decline in the sale of GPUs to cryptocurrency miners. The U.S. semiconductor manufacturer said its revenue fell by 6 percent quarter over quarter, sending its stock down as low as 22 percent on Wednesday, before eventually closing down 9.17 percent for the day. “GPU sales came in lower-than-expected based on excess channel inventory levels caused by the decline in blockchain-related demand that was so strong earlier in the year,” Lisa Su, president and chief executive officer of AMD, said in an earnings call with analysts. Devinder Kumar, chief financial officer and treasurer of the California-based chipmaker, noted for comparative purposes that blockchain-related sales of GPUs accounted for a “high-single-digit” percentage of third-quarter revenue in 2017. However, he described blockchain-derived revenue for the same period this year as “negligible” at best. Johnny Depp Partners with Tatatu Eccentric movie star Johnny Depp has signed a deal with a crypto company, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Depp is said to have agreed to develop and produce film and digital content in partnership with Tatatu, a self-described entertainment platform that incentivizes content consumption by offering digital tokens for views. Back in May, news.Bitcoin.com reported that the startup had started working on a biopic about famed Italian industrialist Ferruccio Lamborghini, starring Alec Baldwin. “Johnny has the ability to conceptualize material in a way that few can, and is unburdened of conventional industry formulas that dictate the projects that get made, traditionally,” stated Andrea Iervolino, founder of Tatatu. “As we make strides to embrace disruptiveness, Johnny will be a key collaborator with us and we are tremendously excited to back his visions and instincts on stories to bring to life.” Ol’ Dirty Bastard Coin A lot of eyebrows were raised earlier this…

Sony Unveils ‘Multiple Application’ Contactless Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet

Sony Unveils ‘Multiple Application’ Contactless Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet

The research arm of Japanese technology giant Sony announced it had created a contactless cryptocurrency hardware wallet in a press release Tuesday, Oct. 23. The as yet unnamed device utilizes IC smart card technology popular in Japan to communicate with the Bitcoin (BTC) or other cryptocurrency network. The advantages, according to developers from Sony Computer Science Labs (SCSL), lie in dispensing with the need to attach the wallet to a host device via USB, as is the current standard for the industry. “In addition, it is possible to securely generate and store a private key with a highly reliable tamper-proof module within the IC card,” the release explains. Sony has joined many multinationals in experimenting with blockchain technology in recent years, releasing several solutions and applying for patents related to blockchain hardware. Beyond sending and receiving cryptocurrency, the latest hardware wallet offering is designed to include multi-purpose uses, the company claims. “This IC card-type cryptocurrency hardware wallet technology not only manages the private keys used for cryptocurrency transactions, but also manages private keys used for other purposes, such as those for permitting the use of personal information using blockchain technology,” Sony continued in the release, adding: “It is an infrastructure technology with multiple possible applications.” It is not known when or if a mass rollout of the product will be scheduled. In March of this year, Japanese financial services group SBI Holdings bought 40 percent of Taiwanese cryptocurrency hardware wallet company CoolBitX. Leading security-focused hardware wallet supplier Ledger noted in July that it had sold more than one million wallets in 2017, earning a profit of $29 million.

Microfinance Firm Plans Issuance of Shariah-Compliant Blockchain Bonds

Microfinance Firm Plans Issuance of Shariah-Compliant Blockchain Bonds

An Indonesian financial firm is looking to put Sharia compliant bonds called sukuks on the blockchain to fund social projects. Blossom Finance, a microfinancing platform for social causes using Sharia models, is planning to issue a blockchain-based sukuk in coming months, according to a Reuters report Wednesday. While the size of the initial issuance may not be large, the use of blockchain tech is expected to lower issuance costs and attract more retail investors, chief strategy officer Khalid Howladar at a recent Islamic accounting event, according to the report. While the size of the initial issuance may not be large, the use of blockchain tech is expected to lower issuance costs and attract more retail investors, said Howladar, adding: “Technology allows you to on-board customers in a far cheaper way than you could ever do before. The sukuk would use a profit-sharing structure and carry a profit rate of around 10 percent.” Unlike traditional bonds that are debt instruments with an interest component, sukuks are tradeable instruments based on a profit sharing model, much like stocks. Blossom Finance also plans other blockchain-powered bonds to fund a green waste disposal project and a hospital expansion, the post adds. Blossom Finance first introduced its “Smart Sukuk” platform in May to standardize and automate legal, accounting and payment aspects of the bonds. The platform utilizes ethereum smart contracts to “increase the efficiency and reach of sukuk issuance globally,” the firm said at the time. Blockchain and smart contracts are seeing increasing attention in the bonds markets. A World Bank trial in August raised $81 million through its first blockchain-based bond. The city council of Berkeley, California, was looking to approve the issuance of a blockchain-based microbond in May, as a way of funding local initiatives. And JPMorgan Chase in April partnered with National Bank of Canada and other major firms to trial a blockchain platform aimed to improve the debt issuance process. The blockchain lead at National Bank of Canada said in a statement at the time that blockchain technology “has the potential to bring about major change in the financial services industry.” Indonesian rupiah image via Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an…

SEC Suspends Trading in Company Over False Cryptocurrency-Related Claims

SEC Suspends Trading in Company Over False Cryptocurrency-Related Claims

Regulation The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has suspended trading in a firm for making several false cryptocurrency-related claims. Among them are the firm’s partnership with an SEC qualified custodian, regulated cryptocurrency transactions, and tokens that are fully registered with the commission. Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space Trading Suspension The SEC announced on Monday that it has temporarily suspended trading in the securities of American Retail Group Inc. (ARGB) “for making false cryptocurrency-related claims about SEC regulation and registration.” Referencing ARGB’s two August press releases, the SEC described: The company [claimed it] had partnered with an SEC qualified custodian for use with cryptocurrency transactions that would be ‘under SEC regulations,’ and that the company was conducting a token offering that was ‘officially registered in accordance (with) SEC requirements.’ Formerly known as Resource Acquisition Group, ARGB is a Nevada corporation with stock quoted on OTC Link, a regulated alternative trading system owned and operated by OTC Markets Group Inc. According to ARGB’s filing with the SEC, “the company’s purpose is to seek, investigate, and … acquire an interest in business opportunities presented to it by persons or firms who or which desire to seek the perceived advantages of an Exchange Act registered corporation.” The firm is now also known as Simex Inc., after it acquired the Nevada-based company on May 16. According to ARGB, Simex has “developed and is commercializing a multi-functional online international digital asset management, investment and trading platform that is capable of buying and selling cryptocurrencies, tokens and conventional currencies.” No SEC Endorsement The SEC issued an investor alert earlier this month, warning about companies making false claims of its endorsements used to promote cryptocurrency investments. Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit, emphasized: The SEC does not endorse or qualify custodians for cryptocurrency, and investors should use vigilance when considering an investment in an initial coin offering. The agency explained that under the federal securities laws it “can suspend trading in a stock for 10 days and generally prohibit a broker-dealer from soliciting investors to buy or sell the stock again until certain reporting requirements are met.” Relationship Terminated American Retail Group issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that the SEC has suspended trading…

Japan’s Financial Regulator Mulls Cap on Cryptocurrency Margin Trading

Japan’s Financial Regulator Mulls Cap on Cryptocurrency Margin Trading

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is weighing a plan to put a cap on the leverage in cryptocurrency margin trading in a move that is set to curb speculation and market risks. According to a news report from Nikkei on Thursday, the financial market regulator is considering limiting crypto margin traders’ borrowing power to two to four times of their deposits. Currently, there’s no regulation specifically governing the cryptocurrency margin trading space in Japan, the report added, with exchanges offering as much as 25 times of borrowing power. That means users can trade cryptocurrencies worth up to 25 times of their deposits with the exchange but a four percent drop in the purchased crypto assets will wipe out the original deposits. Nikkei said seven of the 16 licensed exchanges by the FSA now offer marge trading services. And a panel that consists of FSA officials and industry experts will discuss rules for imposing potential regulation on this area. The news follows previous statistics released by the FSA, which indicated a rapid growth of cryptocurrency margin trading in Japan. For instance, over 80 percent of the total cryptocurrency trading volume in Japan in 2017 came from derivatives trading, which recorded $543 billion. And more than 90 percent of that was from margin traders. Early this year, the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), a self-regulatory body formed by the 16 licensed trading platforms in Japan, pushed for putting a cap as a low as 4 times. “This is just a provisional measure — I don’t think a ratio of 4 is adequate,” Taizen Okuyama, who heads chairs the association, was quoted as saying in the report. Just on Wednesday, the FSA officially approved the JVCEA as a “certified fund settlement business association” with a legal status to police domestic cryptocurrency exchanges. FSA image via Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Indian Police Seize Unocoin’s ATM, Arrest Two Founders

Indian Police Seize Unocoin’s ATM, Arrest Two Founders

Exchanges One week after Indian cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin announced the launch of its ATM, local police have reportedly seized the machine and arrested two founders of the company, including the CEO. Police say the machine was set up without approval. Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space Several Items Seized Indian police have seized a recently-installed kiosk operated by Bengaluru-based cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin, the Times of India reported on Wednesday. The kiosk was reportedly located at Kempfort Mall on Old Airport Road in Bengaluru. It was launched on Oct. 15 as an automated teller machine (ATM). According to the police, the machine is “illegal as it had been set up without approvals,” the news outlet detailed, elaborating: Central Crime Branch sleuths seized a teller machine, two laptops, a mobile, three credit cards, five debit cards, a passport, five seals of Unocoin company, a cryptocurrency device and Rs 1.8 lakh [$2,458]. Founders Arrested The company’s 37-year-old co-founder, Harish B.V., was arrested on Tuesday in connection with operating the machine. Harish is being held in police custody for seven days, the publication noted, adding that “Cops said more arrests are likely.” Then, on Thursday, the Times of India reported that another founder, CEO Sathvik Viswanath, was also arrested. “Viswanath, 32, who lives in Tumakuru, was produced before a judge at his residence and remanded in police custody for seven days. Sleuths have seized a laptop and a cellphone from him,” the publication wrote. According to the News Minute, the Cyber Crime department of the Central Crime Branch told the media: The ATM kiosk installed by Unocoin in Bengaluru’s Kempfort Mall has not taken any permission from the state government and is dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law. The Bangalore Mirror quoted Alok Kumar, a commissioner with the Bengaluru City Police, elaborating, “They did not have any licence from RBI [Reserve Bank of India], Sebi [Securities and Exchange Board of India] or any other agency to carry out the bitcoin transaction.” He added that the machine was also operated without any trade license from the BBMP, a branch of the government in the Greater Bangalore metropolitan area responsible for civic amenities and some infrastructural assets. Negative Media Reporting On Oct. 20, before the police…

A Decentralized Bitcoin Exchange That’s Almost Decentralized

A Decentralized Bitcoin Exchange That’s Almost Decentralized

Of all the cryptocurrency projects describing themselves as “decentralized exchanges” (DEXs), Bisq may live up to the description better than most. Operating since 2017, when it was originally called Bitsquare, the Bisq DEX runs directly on the user’s computer, rather than a hosted site, as many of the self-described DEXs currently do. And while DEXs like Airswap and Everbloom are operated by startups, Bisq is a strictly open source project developed by a grassroots collective. However, the team behind Bisq recognizes it has more to do to eliminate single points of failure. As Bisq contributor Felix Moreno, a former chief financial officer of the bitcoin custody startup Xapo, told CoinDesk: “If the [Bisq] founders want to go complete Satoshi and disappear from the project, it has to be able to survive that.” So the Bisq team is launching a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), essentially software designed to manage compensation for contributors to the project’s code without oversight from any single party. The testnet goes live in November, with the mainnet launching later this year. That compensation will come in the form of a new cryptocurrency called BSQ. It’s a colored coin, essentially bitcoin that’s been marked as representing some other form of value in a layer above the core protocol. The Bisq DAO will distribute bitcoin that’s been donated to the project, in this watermarked form, to those contributors that the community has voted to approve. “Every month there is this voting and compensation cycle where any contributor files a compensation request for the amount of BSQ,” Bisq co-founder Manfred Karrer told CoinDesk. “Then the BSQ stakeholders, anyone who has BSQ, can vote if they accept or decline this compensation request.” To be sure, this plan combines two crypto concepts with inauspicious histories. The bitcoin community’s colored coin projects have generally floundered and attracted far less usage than ethereum-based tokens, which allow people to issue their own cryptocurrency without creating a unique blockchain. And the most famous example of a DAO, known simply as The DAO, collapsed after a highly publicized security breach in 2016. Yet security is precisely the reason Bisq is launching BSQ on top of bitcoin, rather than ethereum, where The DAO debacle led to a contentious hard fork. Karrer said proof-of-work coins, which rely…

Japan Approves Self-Regulation of Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Japan Approves Self-Regulation of Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Regulation On Wednesday, Oct. 19, Japan’s Financial Services Agency granted the cryptocurrency industry the authority to self-regulate. The approval means that the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association, a coalition of several registered digital currency exchanges, can now set rules for operational requirements, consumer protection, prevention of money laundering and employee ethics. The association will also enforce compliance. Also Read: HTC’s New Blockchain Smartphone Can be Bought With Bitcoin Self-Regulation to Help Regain Trust in a Market Marred by Hacks “With the acquisition of accreditation, we will continue to make further efforts to create an industry that you trust for everyone who uses virtual currency with [its] members,” JVCEA, the Japanese cryptocurrency industry association, said in a statement on its website. Exchanges in the Pacific Island nation are desperate to regain public trust after two major digital currency heists earlier this year. An unnamed senior Financial Services Agency official told Reuters: “It’s a very fast moving industry. It’s better for experts to make rules in a timely manner than bureaucrats.” Last year, Japan became the first country to regulate virtual currency trading platforms, as part of efforts to encourage technological innovation while safeguarding consumer assets. Exchanges must register with the FSA, and 16 have done so to date. But a succession of attacks by hackers has struck at the very heart of the Japanese cryptocurrency industry. In January, thieves made off with $530 million from the Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck, a hack rivaling Mt. Gox’s as one of the largest ever for cryptocurrency. Hackers also stole about $60 million from Zaif in September, an exchange owned by Osaka-based Tech Bureau Corp. The heists have forced the FSA to institute stringent legislative guidelines to help safeguard customer funds while sanctioning exchanges that fail to comply. Stricter Rules Under Industry Association Regulation Yuri Suzuki, senior partner at law firm Atsumi & Sakai, explained that the rules under self-regulation are much tougher compared with existing laws and will help regain public confidence. At the same time, “the self-regulatory body’s workload is likely to be heavy and there is an issue of whether it can secure enough staff with expertise in crypto exchange business,” she told Reuters. In an effort to strengthen the country’s digital currencies industry, where more than 160 companies have expressed interest…

Judge Issues Temporary Dismissal in Bitcoin Cash Lawsuit Against Coinbase

Judge Issues Temporary Dismissal in Bitcoin Cash Lawsuit Against Coinbase

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Coinbase alleging the exchange hurt investors when it listed bitcoin cash by allowing insider trading. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, from the Northern District of California, dismissed a lawsuit filed by Arizona resident Jeffrey Berk against Coinbase, who claimed that the exchange allowed insiders to trade bitcoin cash prior to its listing on the exchange. This in turn harmed  investors, he said in March. In the original complaint, filed in March, Berk claimed that “unsurprisingly, those who had been tipped off [about bitcoin cash’s listing], immediately swamped Coinbase and the GDAX [sic] with buy and sell orders, thinning the liquidity but obtaining BCH at fair prices. The market effect was to unfairly drive up the price of BCH for non-insider traders once BCH came on line at the Coinbase exchange.” In dismissing the suit, Judge Chhabria wrote that “Berk’s complaint does not sufficiently articulate the legal basis for his claims,” and explaining that “a reader of the complaint is thus left wondering what Coinbase should have done differently, or why the rollout of bitcoin cash would have gone more smoothly had Coinbase done whatever Berk thinks is appropriate.” With one exception, all of Berk’s claims were dismissed without prejudice, the judge continued. As a result, Berk and his attorneys now have three weeks to file an amended complaint. This exception revolves around a claim Berk made concerning the Commodity Exchange Act. However, Berk lacks the standing to make this sort of argument, according to Stephen Palley, an attorney with corporate law firm Anderson Kill P.C. “They tried to use the CFTC vs McDonnell case, and in that case, that’s a case where the court said the CFTC has enforcement jurisdiction over claims of contracts and the court said ‘yeah you’re not the CFTC, so because you don’t have any futures-related claim that was thrown out,'” he said. Lynda Grant, an attorney for Berk, told CoinDesk via email that she will be filing an updated complaint within the deadline, though she did not provide any further details. “We intend to amend the complaint,” she said. A representative for Coinbase declined to comment on the case. Arbitration Coinbase’s victory in getting the case (at least temporarily) dismissed…