Pakistan Central Bank Eyes Digital Currency Launch by 2025

Pakistan Central Bank Eyes Digital Currency Launch by 2025

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country’s central bank, is considering the launch of a digital currency by 2025. According to a report from news source Dawn on Tuesday, SBP deputy governor Jameel Ahmad said that the central bank is currently working on the digital currency concept in order to “promote financial inclusion and reduce inefficiency and corruption.” The central bank is also reportedly planning to make its services “fully digitized and technology equipped” by the year 2030. In light of the proposed digitization efforts, Pakistan’s finance minister Asad Umar asked the central bank and the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to ensure cybersecurity in the banking system, the report adds, as a failure here could cause damage to confidence in the system and the economy. Just yesterday, the SBP also published new regulations for Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs), a classification that covers cryptocurrency firms. As per the new rules, EMIs must meet certain requirements to be licensed by the country’s government, with firms flouting the rules to face suspension or cancellation of licenses. The officials made their comments at a ceremony to mark the launch of the new regulations on Monday. With the regulations in place, the central bank said in a statement that it expects upcoming EMIs to offer “convenient, cost effective, interoperable and secure digital payment products and services to end users.” The finance minister said in the Tuesday’s report: “It is our government’s policy to encourage the use of e-commerce amongst [the] public through awareness campaigns to promote a culture of e-commerce, which supports electronic business transactions at national, regional and international levels.” State Bank of Pakistan image via Shutterstock

PayPal Makes Its First-Ever Investment in a Blockchain Startup

PayPal Makes Its First-Ever Investment in a Blockchain Startup

Online payments giant PayPal has made its first-ever investment in a blockchain technology company. Announced today, PayPal has joined the extension of a Series A funding round in Cambridge Blockchain, a startup that helps financial institutions and other companies manage sensitive data using shared ledgers. Neither PayPal nor Cambridge Blockchain disclosed the investment amount, but recent filings with the SEC indicate that Cambridge Blockchain has raised a total of $3.5 million in new equity from several investors over the past nine months. That follows the $7 million close of its Series A in May of 2018, and brings the total capital raised to $10.5 million. That first $7 million consisted of $4 million of new capital plus $3 million of converted notes, and came from several investors, including HCM Capital, the VC arm of Foxconn, which manufactures the iPhone for Apple, as well as Digital Currency Group. The subsequent $3.5 million came from PayPal as well as Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm started by the founder of eBay (PayPal’s former parent); Flourish, Omidyar’s financial inclusion investment spinoff; and Future/Perfect Ventures. In this way, PayPal’s investment was modest but symbolically important. Regarding its part in the funding, a PayPal spokesperson told CoinDesk via email: “We made an investment in Cambridge Blockchain because it is applying blockchain for digital identity in a way that we believe could benefit financial services companies including PayPal. Our investment will allow us to explore potential collaborations to leverage blockchain technology.” She confirmed that Cambridge is PayPal’s first investment in a blockchain company. A match made in Luxembourg Cambridge Blockchain CEO Matthew Commons said PayPal has been involved one way or another with his Massachussets-based identity startup for the past year or so. For instance, Cambridge was one of a small cohort of startups in the “Fintech Europe 2018” accelerator program, which was sponsored by PayPal. Serendipitously, Cambridge Blockchain has been working with LuxTrust, which is backed by the government of Luxembourg and financial institutions in the region. PayPal had moved its European headquarters to Luxembourg and was granted a banking license there.  So, there was a natural affinity there, Commons told CoinDesk, adding: “We can’t talk specifically about anything commercially that we are doing because it’s all sort of exploratory now, but I think the…

Bitcoin Cash Markets and Network Gather Strong Momentum in Q1

Bitcoin Cash Markets and Network Gather Strong Momentum in Q1

The first quarter of 2019 has ended and things are starting to look much better for digital assets this year. Bitcoin cash (BCH) prices touched all-time highs for 2019 during the end of Q1 and the network’s overall strength has improved a great deal since the fork last year. Also read: Broken Phone? Don’t Sweat It — Restore a Bitcoin Wallet in Minutes Bitcoin Cash Action Q1 2019 Q1 is finished and the BCH chain and market value have both improved over the last three months. For instance, the price of each BCH touched its 2019 all-time high of $193 on April 2. In fact, bitcoin cash markets have gathered a higher percentage (+47.6% / 30-day) than many other cryptocurrencies that have been experiencing decent gains during the last month of Q1. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) 30-day chart shows BCH is up by 47.6 percent.The most dominant pairs traded against BCH over the last three months include USDT, BTC, ETH, USD, KRW, and JPY. According to Bitcoin.com Markets, the top exchange that traded the most BCH in Q1 was the Chinese cryptocurrency trading platform Lbank. The trading platform Lbank, however, has trading volume data that is hard to verify. If Lbank was to be removed from the equation, Binance would be the market leader in Q1 as far as BCH trade volume is concerned. Over the last three months, there’s also been a lot of accumulation as the network’s unspent transaction output (UTXO) set size has grown immensely. The BCH UTXO set size shows a serious amount of accumulation taking place. Historically this happens before a bull run in cryptocurrency markets. In fact, the UTXO set size has grown to levels not seen since 2017 and historically this is an indicator that a bull run will take place in the near future. The BCH chain is also inching toward there being one year left until the next reward halving. Depending on the hashrate speed, the expected halving for BCH will be around April 8, 2020, at around 1 a.m. UTC. The date could be closer if the BCH network’s hashrate continues to climb at the pace it has been growing this quarter. After the November blockchain split, the overall hashrate dropped below one exahash per second…

Why Binance, the World’s Biggest Crypto Exchange, Is Enthusiastic About Stablecoins

Why Binance, the World’s Biggest Crypto Exchange, Is Enthusiastic About Stablecoins

Binance has unveiled a series of new products and features relating to stablecoins — with the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange describing these digital assets as “an efficient fiat gateway into crypto.” Stablecoins are often pegged with a fiat currency, meaning one unit can equate directly to 1 euro or $1. With new coins emerging all the time, the industry is evolving quickly, prompting the company to launch a stablecoin market in which its consumers can benefit from pairings with other cryptocurrencies. The crypto-only exchange now supports five stablecoins in total: Paxos Standard Token (PAX), TrueUSD (TUSD), USD Coin (USDC), StableUSD (USDS) and Tether (USDT). As reported by Cointelegraph, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has been vocal about his support for stablecoins, as he believes they offer “far more freedom than traditional fiat for users” and help regulators maintain control. In November, the exchange introduced its combined Stablecoin Market, creating a place where a broader range of assets can be used as base pairs. Binance asserts that “it is now often more efficient to buy cryptocurrency via stablecoins than through a fiat exchange” — not least because of how stablecoins are less susceptible to high transaction fees and market volatility. The benefits In explaining the rationale behind using stablecoins, Binance says that it can help eliminate the confusion that all too often swirls around conversion rates. Given how the prices of other coins and tokens can change dramatically in a matter of minutes, this increasingly popular form of cryptocurrency could help deliver the certainty that many everyday consumers want and expect. Over time, it could also enable the industry to build a compelling case for mainstream adoption — addressing some concerns that many digital assets amount to a store of value rather than a currency that can be used for everyday purchases. Binance is available here The financial plus sides may not end here, either. In a blog post on stablecoins, Binance explained that “there are minimal to no fees when converting US dollars to stablecoins and back.” The exchange explains that this is primarily because these transactions eliminate the cost associated with making wire transfers during the fiat-to-crypto conversion phase. There can also be advantages when cryptocurrencies are being changed back to fiat, as the use of stablecoins…

Apple, Amazon Alums Behind Sharding Startup Raise $18 Million

Apple, Amazon Alums Behind Sharding Startup Raise $18 Million

Bucking the 2019 trend of fundraising on equity, one startup has completed a substantial token presale. Harmony announced Tuesday that it raised $18 million from an array of investors that includes Hong Kong’s Lemniscap VC, Australia’s BCA Fund, Singapore’s UniValues Associates and Silicon Valley’s Consensus Capital, among others. Co-founder Nick White told CoinDesk that selling tokens was the only path that made sense, because “our long-term vision is to create a decentralized protocol.” The Harmony blockchain will launch with a pre-mine of 12.6 billion tokens. Investors have purchased slightly more than 2.8 billion of these tokens in this sale. The startup is considering ways of using some of the remaining pre-mined tokens to incentivize early adopters of the network, including distributions to those who participate as nodes. Upon launch, proof-of-stake nodes on the network will be compensated with an as-yet-undetermined rate of inflation, which should gradually decrease over time (like bitcoin), though there is no pre-determined maximum supply (unlike bitcoin). White said that the large number of investors spread around the world should help the blockchain to win adoption. Additionally, many of these investors have backed existing decentralized applications (dapps). “That’s where it becomes more interesting,” White said. Chain swapping The Harmony chain is purpose-built to make porting dapps over from ethereum, in particular, quite easy. So if a dapp has traction but is running into friction with confirmation times or gas fees on ethereum, teams might find they can give users a superior experience by running their dapps on Harmony. By having investors who have backed these dapps, Harmony believes it can help persuade companies to port their operations to the new chain. “Harmony’s core architecture and approach are the right ones to scale blockchain protocol (state sharding and peer to peer networking),” Maximilian Thyssen, an angel investor who joined the Harmony round, told CoinDesk in an email. “Innovation in centralized systems is slowed down and bottlenecked by massive incumbents like Google/Facebook.” The goal is much larger than that, though, according to Harmony. The company wants to get all personal data moved onto a decentralized protocol so that people can start earning money from the data they generate, as a sort of universal basic income. Though White acknowledged that vision is a long way –…

A16z-Backed TrustToken Launches Stablecoin Pegged to UK Pound

A16z-Backed TrustToken Launches Stablecoin Pegged to UK Pound

Cryptocurrency startup TrustToken has launched its second stablecoin – one pegged 1:1 to the British pound. Revealing the news exclusively to CoinDesk on Tuesday, the firm said its new TrueGBP token is now available for trading on over-the-counter (OTC) desks, including Alameda Research, Bluefire Capital, Galois Capital and QCP Capital. The firm is working to make it available for general trading on cryptocurrency exchanges soon. TrueGBP will trade under the ticker symbol TGBP and will initially be backed by GBP funds held in U.S. escrow accounts, TrustToken said. Rafael Cosman, the startup’s co-founder and head of engineering and product, told CoinDesk: “Purchase and trade of TrueGBP will be available like any other ERC-20 token, and is compatible with all ERC-20 wallets. Customers who want to purchase or redeem through the TrustToken app will need to pass the regular KYC [Know Your Customer]/AML [Anti Money Laundering] requirements in accordance with our MSB [Money Service Business] license.” TrustToken already offers a dollar-pegged stablecoin called TrueUSD, a product launched in March 2018. At the time, the firm said it plans to launch stablecoins linked to the yen, euro and other fiat currencies in the future. Reiterating the point, TrustToken indicated Tuesday that TrueGBP is the “first of several” stablecoins planned for launch “in the coming months to open up new opportunities for payments, international remittances and foreign exchange.” Cosman said in the statement: “With TrueUSD, we have built the bridge between the fiat and crypto world, without being tied to any one exchange. Our goal in launching TrueGBP is to fully utilize this bridge to reduce the friction within global financial markets, to seamlessly increase the speed and decrease the cost of transferring value across global borders.” The TrueGBP token is based on the same technical and legal standards as its dollar-pegged sibling, he added. TrueCoin, LLC, the entity first created by TrustToken to oversee TrueUSD, is a registered MSB with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). It has now partnered with “independent state-licensed trust companies to manage the British Pounds backing TrueGBP,” according to the statement. The firm raised $20 million in a strategic token sale with the help of major VC firms, including Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), last June. Pound image via Shutterstock

Russian Banks Join Chinese Swift – Is the Dollar Era Under Threat?

Russian Banks Join Chinese Swift – Is the Dollar Era Under Threat?

As a Saudi oil minister once remarked, the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. It seems it’s neither the deficit of a tool nor its deficiencies that make it obsolete, but rather the invention of new tools that do the job better. With increasing competition, will the U.S. dollar continue to be the world’s primary currency, will it come to be just one of several reserve fiat currencies, or will cryptocurrency become the new instrument that powers the global economy? Also read: Lithuania Central Bank’s Policy Update Opens the Door for Crypto Payments Why Is the Dollar Still the World’s Currency? No one can predict exactly how long the greenback era is going to last. What’s certain is there are different camps that want to end it for various reasons. And if cryptocurrencies are taken into account, there’s an evolutionary push in that direction as well. Bitcoin is an alternative to all traditional, government-issued currencies, of which the dollar is the most recognizable. The U.S. dollar has been the most important currency since the last years of World War II, when the Bretton Woods agreement established a monetary system which formed the basis for international financial transactions and commercial relations. It fixed the value of the dollar to the gold and pegged other currencies to the dollar. For decades the United States maintained a policy of providing stability and liquidity to the global economy through its currency. And when in the ‘70s the Nixon administration terminated the dollar’s direct convertibility to gold, turning it into fiat money, the dollar became the primary reserve currency for many banks and countries around the world. Almost 50 years later, the USD is still the world’s main currency and there are a number of reasons for that. It’s the most used currency in international commerce. It often serves as an intermediary currency in foreign exchange. It’s the currency in which major commodities are priced and traded on global markets including oil, gold, wheat, soybeans, sugar and coffee. The dollar is also a tool used by the United States, the major superpower, to project its influence around the world. It’s been like that for a long time – from the post-war European Recovery Program, known as…

Major Swiss Stock Exchange SIX Lists XRP Exchange Traded Product

Major Swiss Stock Exchange SIX Lists XRP Exchange Traded Product

According to its official website, Switzerland’s principal stock exchange, SIX, has listed a Ripple (XRP)-based Exchange Traded Product (ETP) today, April 2. As Cointelegraph reported in March, the exchange had already confirmed that it was planning to list the product, dubbed Amun Ripple (AXRP). Hany Rashwan, co-founder and CEO of Amun — the cryptocurrency derivative development company behind AXRP — at the time claimed that this is the first such product on the market: “We can comfortably say that we expect to release the world’s first XRP ETP within the next two months.” Furthermore, Rashwan also told media that the company has also received SIX’s approval to launch four more ETPs for other altcoins — Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Stellar (XLM) and Eos (EOS). In November last year, SIX also listed what was reportedly the world’s first ETP tracking an index of multiple crypto assets, based on Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple, Ethereum (ETH), BCH and LTC. At the beginning of March, the company also launched an ETH ETP and in February it listed a BTC-tracking ETP. As Cointeledgraph noted in a dedicated analysis in December, those developments are seemingly part of a broader trend, which sees the United States being left behind where cryptocurrency ETPs are concerned, as compared to Europe.

Sudden Bitcoin Price Breakout Sets New Bull Target at Over $5K

Sudden Bitcoin Price Breakout Sets New Bull Target at Over $5K

View With bitcoin’s move today to 4.5-month highs near $5,080, the transition from bear to bull market appears done and dusted. The trend change would gain credence, though, if and when BTC finds acceptance above the former support-turned-resistance of the 21-month exponential moving average (EMA), currently at $5,200. The cryptocurrency is looking overbought as per the 14-day relative strength index, so prices may have a tough time breaking above $5,200 in the near-term. Bitcoin could see a pullback to $4,400 if signs of bullish exhaustion increase in the next few days. After today’s breakout, bitcoin (BTC) now needs to move above crucial resistance near $5,200 to solidify the case for a longer-term bull market. The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization crossed the last bearish lower high of $4,236 (Dec. 24 high) at 04:30 UTC Tuesday and jumped to $5,080 – the highest level since Nov. 19 – confirming a transition from a bear to a bull market. The rally to a 4.5-month high was accompanied by a surge in 24-hour trading volumes to above $15 billion – the highest since mid-January 2018, according to CoinMarketCap. The bullish reversal, therefore, looks sustainable. Further, the spike witnessed today has reinforced the positive trend change signaled by both the weekly moving average convergence divergence (MACD) and the money flow index a few weeks ago. While the path of least resistance is now to the higher side, the bulls now face taking out the former support-turned-resistance of the 21-month exponential moving average (EMA), currently lined up at $5,200. The persistent defense of that average support in the five months to October 2018 had triggered hopes of a strong bullish move. More importantly, a convincing break below that technical line on Nov. 14 invited strong selling pressure. So the bulls need to force a convincing break above the 21-month EMA before claiming a complete victory over the bears. As of writing, bitcoin is changing hands at $4,800 on Bitstamp, representing a 15 percent gain on a 24-hour basis. Other major cryptocurrencies like ethereum’s ETH token, XRP and EOS are up at least 5 percent each. Meanwhile, names like litecoin, cardano and monero are flashing double-digit gains. Weekly chart As seen above, BTC’s move above $4,236 has activated twin bullish…

BTC Hits $4,800 for the First Time in 2019, Top Crypto Markets See Double Digit Growth

BTC Hits $4,800 for the First Time in 2019, Top Crypto Markets See Double Digit Growth

Tuesday, April 2 — Bitcoin (BTC) has pushed over $4,500 for the first time this year, while top crypto markets are solidly in the green for the second day in a row, some seeing major 24-hour growth. Market visualization from Coin360 The price of BTC skyrocketed, gaining more than 14 percent in the space of one hour early Tuesday. Hovering around $4,650 at press time, the coin peaked at $4,849 early on April 2, according to CoinMarketCap stats, before dropping slightly and trading sideways to press time. In comparison to yesterday’s charts, when BTC’s price was hovering around $4,100, the market capitalization of the world’s top coin has gained almost $10 billion, totalling $82 billion by press time. BTC is currently up about 13 percent over the past 24-hours. Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Ethereum (ETH), the second-ranked cryptocurrency by market cap, is also solidly in the green, seeing about 6 percent in gains on the day. The coin is now trading at $150 in comparison to yesterday’s $140, while its market cap is over $15.8 billion at press time. Ethereum 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Ripple (XRP), currently the world’s third largest cryptocurrency, is also up 6 percent today, trading around $0.33 by press time. The coin’s market cap has gained about $900 million within a day, reaching $13.8 billion at the peak earlier today. Ripple 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies has significantly increased during the sudden market surge today. While yesterday’s highest point was at $146 billion, today’s peak was at $163 billion, declining to $159.4 billion at press time. 24-hour total market capitalization chart. Source: CoinMarketCap As for other altcoins, all top 20 currencies except Tezos (XTZ), ranked 19th and down 4.4 percent, are currently in the green, with many seeing double digit growth on the day. Litecoin (LTC), Cardano (ADA), Tron (TRX) and Monero (XMR) have seen the most significant gains today, all growing over 10 percent, while other altcoins are up 5 to 10 percent to press time. At the same time, Tether (USDT), the fiat-pegged stablecoin with the highest trade volume, has recently hit an all-time high by the number of daily transactions, according to blockchain data provider Coin Metrics. As…