Circle’s USDC Stablecoin Fully Dollar Backed, Says Latest Auditor’s Report

Circle’s USDC Stablecoin Fully Dollar Backed, Says Latest Auditor’s Report

Crypto finance startup Circle’s USDC stablecoin was fully backed with fiat reserves at the close of 2018, according to auditing firm Grant Thornton. The auditor published an attestation report on Wednesday, stating that Circle had $251,211,209 held in custody accounts as of Dec. 31, 2018, against the 251,211,148 USDC tokens in circulation at the time. Goldman Sachs-backed Circle currently has a total of 353,309,381 USDC tokens on the markets, according to data from Etherscan, indicating it has topped up supply by about 100 million tokens within the last 15 days. In its report, Grant Thornton noted that its examination “was conducted in accordance with attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.” The firm’s previous attestation of Circle’s assets back in November also found no issues. Circle had just under $127.5 million as of Oct. 31, 2018, enough to redeem its USDC tokens circulating at the time. Stablecoin issuers Gemini and Paxos have similarly published supporting attestations from their auditing firms, BPM and Withum, respectively. Gemini had about $91 million in reserves to back its Gemini dollar (GUSD) circulation as of Dec. 31, 2018, while Paxos had about $142 million to back its PAX supply. While the controversial and the largest stablecoin issuer in the space, Tether, reportedly appears to have had sufficient fiat reserves to back up its USDT tokens during 2018 and 2017, it has failed to produce a full audit from a professional specialist. US dollars image via Shutterstock 

Bitcoin Price Volatility Is Down 98% Year-on-Year

Bitcoin Price Volatility Is Down 98% Year-on-Year

Bitcoin price volatility has crashed in the last 12 months as the bear market killed off the speculative frenzy. Daily volatility, the spread between the price high and price low, stood at $61 yesterday – down a hefty 98 percent from the figure of $3,468 observed on Jan. 16, 2018 – according to CoinMarketCap data. Meanwhile, bitcoin’s price is also down 74 percent year-on-year. Generally, with a sharp drop in price, volatility in dollar terms tends to fall in parallel. Notably, volatility was extremely high in percentage terms 12 months ago. The trading range was 26 percent on Jan. 16, 2018, indicating that the crypto market frenzy was at its peak. Volatility, however, subsided as the year progressed: dropping from $973 in the first quarter to $345, $245 and $195, in the following quarters, respectively. Meanwhile, in percentage terms, average daily volatility fell from 9.14 percent to 3.6 percent over 2018. This year has begun on a much more calm note. Daily volatility has remained largely below $200 and hit a 2.5-month low of $45.17 on Jan. 12. Many consider the slide in volatility a sign of speculative froth leaving the market and the cryptocurrency nearing a bottom. It is worth noting that an extended period of low volatility usually ends up paving way for a big move. Therefore, BTC could soon violate the six-day-long trading range of $3,500 to $3,700. Moreover, a range breakdown looks likely as the long-term technical charts are biased toward the bears. As of writing, BTC is changing hands at $3,585 on Bitstamp. Weekly chart As seen above, BTC fell 13 percent last week, reinforcing the bearish view put forward by the descending 10-week moving average, currently at $3,919. The outlook remains bearish as long as BTC is held below the 10-week MA. 4-hour and daily chart BTC has created a neutral diamond pattern on the 4-hour chart. The prospects of BTC breaking the $3,700-$3,500 range to the downside would rise significantly if the diamond is breached on the lower side. The relative strength index (RSI) is biased bearish at 41. So, there is plenty scope for a sell-off post-breakdown. Put simply, the prospects of BTC breaching the $3,700-$3,500 range to the downside would rise significantly if the diamond breakdown is confirmed.…

Indian Supreme Court Pushes Crypto Case Against RBI to End of February

Indian Supreme Court Pushes Crypto Case Against RBI to End of February

Regulation The case against the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was unexpectedly heard at the country’s supreme court on Thursday. However, senior advocates for the parties were reportedly absent, so a new date has been set and the crypto case will be “top of the list” on that date. Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations Caught by Surprise The Indian supreme court was scheduled to hear the petitions against the crypto banking ban imposed by the country’s central bank, the RBI, on Tuesday after repeatedly postponing it last year. The case was finally heard on Thursday. However, according to Twitter account Crypto Kanoon, an Indian platform for blockchain regulatory news and analysis, the “crypto vs. RBI matter reached in the supreme court. As the matter was unexpected to reach, sr. advocates appearing for parties were not present.” The user continued to detail: Now it will come for hearing on 26th Feb on ‘top of the list’ i.e., it will be at serial no. 1 on the Cause List. After many postponements throughout the second half of last year, few expected the case to be heard this week. Quartz India talked to a lawyer representing some of the crypto exchanges who said on Monday that “The case … is unlikely to come up for hearing this entire week.” In November’s hearing, lawyers representing crypto exchanges asked the court for a full-day hearing “so that the case could be expedited,” the news outlet noted, adding that “Despite this, delays are expected.” RBI Ban and Crypto Regulation The RBI issued a circular on April 6 last year banning regulated financial institutions from providing services to customers and businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies. The ban took effect in July and crypto exchanges’ bank accounts were closed. A number of petitions have been filed with the court to lift the ban. Most crypto exchanges in India responded to the banking restriction by launching exchange-escrowed peer-to-peer (P2P) services which have reportedly gained popularity. One of the country’s largest exchanges, Zebpay, shut down its exchange operations in India due to the banking problem. Another major exchange, Unocoin, tried to launch fiat kiosks but ran into trouble with the law when officers mistook its first…

Bitcoin Price Volatility is Down 98% Year-on-Year

Bitcoin Price Volatility is Down 98% Year-on-Year

Bitcoin price volatility has crashed in the last 12 months as the bear market killed off the speculative frenzy. Daily volatility, the spread between the price high and price low, stood at $61 yesterday – down a hefty 98 percent from the figure of $3,468 observed on Jan. 16, 2018 – according to CoinMarketCap data. Meanwhile, bitcoin’s price is also down 74 percent year-on-year. Generally, with a sharp drop in price, volatility in dollar terms tends to fall in parallel. Notably, volatility was extremely high in percentage terms 12 months ago. The trading range was 26 percent on Jan. 16, 2018, indicating that the cryptomarket frenzy was at its peak. Volatility, however, subsided as the year progressed: dropping from $973 in the first quarter to $345, $245 and $195, in the following quarters, respectively. Meanwhile, in percentage terms, average daily volatility fell from 9.14 percent to 3.6 percent over 2018. This year has begun on a much more calm note. Daily volatility has remained largely below $200 and hit a 2.5-month low of $45.17 on Jan. 12. Many consider the slide in volatility a sign of speculative froth leaving the market and the cryptocurrency nearing a bottom. It is worth noting that an extended period of low volatility usually ends up paving way for a big move. Therefore, BTC could soon violate the six-day-long trading range of $3,500 to $3,700. Moreover, a range breakdown looks likely as the long-term technical charts are biased toward the bears. As of writing, BTC is changing hands at $3,585 on Bitstamp. Weekly chart As seen above, BTC fell 13 percent last week, reinforcing the bearish view put forward by the descending 10-week moving average, currently at $3,919. The outlook remains bearish as long as BTC is held below the 10-week MA. 4-hour and daily chart BTC has created a neutral diamond pattern on the 4-hour chart. The prospects of BTC breaking the $3,700-$3,500 range to the downside would rise significantly if the diamond is breached on the lower side. The relative strength index (RSI) is biased bearish at 41. So, there is plenty scope for a sell-off post-breakdown. Put simply, the prospects of BTC breaching the $3,700-$3,500 range to the downside would rise significantly if the diamond breakdown is confirmed. View…

Binance Freezes ‘Some’ Tokens Stolen From Cryptopia: CEO CZ

Binance Freezes ‘Some’ Tokens Stolen From Cryptopia: CEO CZ

Major Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has frozen tokens sent to its wallet by the entity who allegedly hacked New Zealand exchange Cryptopia, CEO Changpeng Zhao reported in a tweet Jan. 16. Cryptopia, which is currently shut down as police investigate the hack, lost at least $3.6 million in cryptocurrency, sources reported. While the total amount seized remains unconfirmed, social media users alerted Binance to suspicious transactions from addresses known to be related to the Cryptopia theft. Zhao subsequently said staff had been quarantining the tokens, which appeared to arrive in several batches: 31,320 Metal (MTL) worth $7,830 to press time, and 49,766 KyberNetwork (KNC) tokens, with a value of $6,867 to press time. “…[W]e were able to freeze some of the funds,” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “I don’t understand why the hackers keep sending to Binance. Social media will be pretty fast to report it, and we will freeze it. It’s a high risk maneuver for them.” Cryptopia representatives meanwhile had said Jan. 15 that the company is unable to comment on the events leading up to the hack, due to the nature of the police investigation. At the time the hack was first reported, suspicions had arisen online due to the exchange moving large sums of tokens just days before the hack occurred.

Wyoming Blockchain Bill Proposes Issuance of Tokenized Stock Certificates

Wyoming Blockchain Bill Proposes Issuance of Tokenized Stock Certificates

Lawmakers from the U.S. state of Wyoming have introduced legislation that would allow the issuance of tokenized stock certificates using blockchain tech. On Wednesday, representative Jared Olsen (Republican), along with senator Chris Rothfuss (Democratic) and six other Republican representatives jointly filed House Bill 0185, titled “Corporate stock-certificate tokens,” proposing an amendment that would permit the use of tokenized digital share certificates in lieu of paper-based versions. “The articles of incorporation or bylaws of a corporation may specify that all or a portion of the shares of the corporation may be represented by share certificates in the form of certificate tokens,” the proposed bill states. HB0185, if passed, would allow share certificates – which represent ownership of stocks – to be stored in an electronic format and their information to be entered into a blockchain or other auditable database, according to the document. That information then would be “transmitted electronically to the issuing corporation, the person to whom the certificate token was issued and any transferee.” The tokenized certificates would also be authorized via the network signatures – unique identifying hashes – of two officers or directors of a corporation. The bill, if passed into law, would come into effect from July 1, 2019, according to the document. Wyoming has been taking several legislative initiatives around blockchain use cases. Just last week, the state approved a bill to let blockchain startups to operate within a regulatory sandbox for a legislative vote. It also unanimously passed a bill exempting some utility tokens from securities regulations last February. And, last month, the state’s Teton County signed a memorandum of understanding with Medici Land Governance – a subsidiary of Overstock.com’s Medici Ventures – to put its land registry on a distributed ledger. Wyoming State Capitol image via Shutterstock 

Bitpay Reports Processing Over $1 Billion Transactions in 2018

Bitpay Reports Processing Over $1 Billion Transactions in 2018

Wallets Popular cryptocurrency payment processor Bitpay has released figures showing that the company maintained strong performance during 2018, despite the downturn in the market. For example, while other ventures had to downsize recently, Bitpay’s staff increased by 78 percent from the previous year. Also Read: Binance Launches Euro and Pound Fiat-to-Crypto Platform in Jersey B2B Business Grew Almost 255% YoY Bitpay has announced strong performance for the payment processing platform in 2018, after more than seven years in operation. During the year, the service reportedly processed over a $1 billion in payments for a second year and set a new record for transaction fee revenue by adding new customers. The company’s B2B operation also reportedly had a record year as it grew almost 255 percent from the previous year. “Bitpay’s B2B business continues to grow rapidly as our solution is cheaper and quicker than a bank wire from most regions of the world,” said Stephen Pair, co-founder and CEO. “To process over $1 billion for a second year in a row despite Bitcoin’s large price drop shows that Bitcoin is being used to solve real pain points around the world.” The company reports that its headcount has grown by 78 percent in 2018, with new hires in the fields of engineering, support, and compliance, bringing the total close to 80 employees. Bitpay also raised $40 million in Series B funding bringing its total raised capital to over $70 million. Over 1.5 Million BCH and BTC Wallets The Copay wallet, Bitpay wallet, and other wallets using the company’s Bitcore Wallet Service (BWS) have reportedly sent billions of dollars in value in BCH and BTC in 2018. In total, users have created over 1.5 million wallets to date using Bitpay and Copay. The company also reports it set a record for reducing payment error rates, with the dollar volume lost falling from over 8 percent (in December 2017) to well under 1 percent of its total dollar volume processed. “The adoption of support for Payment Protocol wallets has made a big difference for our merchants. Merchants are now able to easily accept Bitcoin payments in a simple easy way without any support issues. This was our biggest request by our enterprise merchants”, said Sean Rolland, Head of…

Barclays and Clearmatics Call on Coders to Help Blockchains Talk to Each Other

Barclays and Clearmatics Call on Coders to Help Blockchains Talk to Each Other

U.K. bank Barclays and London-based startup Clearmatics are inviting coders to come up with ways to connect ethereum with made-for-enterprise blockchains such as Hyperledger Fabric. The interoperability challenge is being hosted by Clearmatics and will use a template involving its open-source interoperability protocol, Ion. The hackathon will take place at the Barclays Rise fintech hub in London on February 5 and 6.    The importance of addressing interoperability between major enterprise blockchain platforms is reflected by the big names involved: a panel of judges will feature representatives from megabanks Barclays, UBS, HSBC and Santander. (The prizes for the teams that come up with the most impressive solutions have not yet been announced.) The consulting giant EY will be observing the event and will produce a report based on the findings (a role played by Deloitte in the last Barclays DerivHack.) In an exclusive interview with CoinDesk, Dr. Lee Braine of Barclays’ chief technology office said: “We would like to gain a greater understanding of the challenges and potential solutions for interoperability between different distributed ledgers. Such interoperability can be complex and this hackathon will permit the industry to experiment with the Ion protocol and also provide feedback to the open source project.” Stepping back, the enterprise blockchain world has been reduced to about four prominent industry platforms. There are ethereum variants like Quorum, developed by JPMorgan; the Hyperledger family of protocols; R3’s Corda; and the Digital Asset platform. Unless they can be made to talk to each other, these new systems risk recreating the insular silos they were supposed to replace, undermining the business case for blockchain as an efficiency booster and lubricator of trade. For example, a currency running on ethereum can’t easily be swapped for a stock or bond tracked on Hyperledger without a way for each chain to verify the transaction on the other. On the other hand, a monolithic blockchain would undercut the purported benefit of decentralization. Sara Feenan, product strategist at Clearmatics pointed out that a single governing system “really creates a single point of failure and a single point of trust. Nor do we want something that is a coin or a token and have to exchange it at some point during the journey.” In particular, she said, interoperability between Hyperledger…

Thai Crypto Exchange Determined to Stay Open After SEC Orders Shutdown

Thai Crypto Exchange Determined to Stay Open After SEC Orders Shutdown

Exchanges The Thai Ministry of Finance has rejected the last cryptocurrency exchange application it had been reviewing. The exchange, which has been ordered to close down business and return customer funds, is determined to stay operational. “Shutting down is not an option for us,” its chief strategy officer reportedly said. Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations Coin Asset Exchange Rejected The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Monday the outcome of the latest cryptocurrency exchange application it had been reviewing. The country’s Ministry of Finance, under the recommendation of the SEC board, decided to reject the application of Coin Asset Co. Ltd. to operate a crypto exchange. The company has been allowed to operate in Thailand while its application was being reviewed. However, the SEC has notified the company of its rejection and ordered it to cease operations by Jan. 21. The regulator told the exchange’s CEO, Sivanus Yamdee, that the minimum processing time is four months should the exchange reapply for a license, the Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday. Yamdee said his company will meet with the SEC on Friday to discuss continuing crypto operations. The news outlet further quoted him as saying: We are seeking a way to keep our digital asset exchange operating as the business cycle is moving towards a peak … We are unable to endure such as long processing time. The business cycle is on the rise and there are costs for conducting daily business. It is not easy to maintain customer loyalty. With about 10,000 customers, the exchange’s 24-hour trading volume is approximately 91 million baht (~$2.87 million) at the time of this writing. In August last year, the exchange unveiled its own line of cryptocurrency automated teller machines (ATMs). It also lists Jfin coin, the country’s first initial coin offering launched by a subsidiary of a company listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Jay Mart Plc. Coin Asset’s new chief strategy officer, Arnon Saksri, was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying: Ultimately, we want to be regulated … It will improve investor confidence and the legitimacy of our cryptocurrency businesses, but the SEC has to find the right way to do it … Shutting down is not an option for…

One Year Later, What’s Holding Back SegWit Adoption on Bitcoin?

One Year Later, What’s Holding Back SegWit Adoption on Bitcoin?

It’s been over a year since the scaling upgrade known as segregated witness, or SegWit, was activated on the bitcoin network. Even so, only an estimated 36 percent of all bitcoin transactions are actually using it. Why the minimal adoption rate? It’s largely because, like any backward-compatible upgrade (otherwise called a soft fork), SegWit ensures participants in the bitcoin network that haven’t upgraded to the same software can still follow the same network only under a slightly less-restricted ruleset. As a result, some bitcoin businesses and exchanges have put off making the switch to enable SegWit transactions despite the low-fee advantage that it presents when sending bitcoin payments. “Some of the [venture capital]-backed companies don’t care about paying bitcoin fees,” said Rusty Russell, a developer for blockchain technology firm Blockstream. “They can burn a million dollars a week on bitcoin fees and nobody really cares because what they care about is user adoption numbers.” Calling the switch to optimize operations for SegWit an “engineering-level” decision, Russell told CoinDesk back in December that due to a significant decline in total transaction fees since the beginning of 2018 the priority at present for startups is “optimizing for growth” – not “implementing cool new tech.” Still, both Russell and Aaron Lasher, the chief strategy officer at bitcoin wallet company BRD, suspect that pressure for SegWit adoption will increase for businesses in the event of a bitcoin price increase. As Lasher told CoinDesk last November: “We don’t feel the pressure right now to implement SegWit because it doesn’t make a huge difference but it will during the next price run-up. I don’t know if that’s going to be one year, three years or five years but I’m quite sure it will happen.” Lasher conceded that it was no easy feat to change backend code to recognize, send and receive SegWit transactions. “There’s just a lot of mechanics that you have to be thoughtful about,” he said. “It’s people’s money. The default thing to do is to do nothing because it works already and you’re not risking your customers’ funds.” To Lasher’s point, Tyler Winklevoss, co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, said in an open Q&A forum on Reddit earlier this month that retrofitting exchange wallets for SegWit was a “very tricky” procedure requiring building “a…