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wilslaw last won the day on July 18 2018

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  1. Two crypto exchanges will be open for business in Japan in months to come, which could be a big boost for the Japanese crypto industry. An announcement on its website revealed that Taotao (a Japan-based crypto exchange) which is partly owned by Yahoo! Japan, will be open to applicants that are more than 20 years of age. Those that qualify can pre-register and start creating their accounts from 25th of March to 17th of April; the initial trading period on the Taotao exchange will commence in mid-May through to July 1st 2019. Taotao is not the only Japanese exchange opening for business in the near future. According to a March 25 press release, Rakuten (a Japanese online retailer) will launch its own virtual currency exchange platform in April. Rakuten first introduced an exchange platform in March 2017 under the name "Everybody's Bitcoin." However, with the order from Japanese financial regulators in April last year, the exchange had no choice but to shut down and revamp its management methods, bookkeeping procedures, and investor protection protocols. March this year, the online retailer changed the name of its exchange platform to Rakuten Wallet Co. Ltd. The company believes that "Rakuten Wallet will contribute to the sound growth of the market as a virtual currency exchange company, and will further enhance security and provide enhanced services so that more customers can use it safely and with confidence." Over the years, Japanese-based crypto exchange platforms have been compromised and scrutinized. Last year April, two different exchange platforms were ordered by Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) to cease operations for at least two months over concerns of investor protection. In June 2018, Japan's FSA ordered the FSHO exchange to halt operations after the platform failed to adhere to the regulator's standards. And in October 2018, hacked Japanese exchange Zaif was forced to allow Fisco Digital Asset Group to take over its operations.
  2. Bing (Microsoft-owned search engine and advertisement platform) revealed in its “Ad quality year in review 2018” report that it blocked more than 5 million crypto-related ads. Bing notes that cryptos’ pseudo-anonymity “made cryptocurrency a prime target for fraudsters and scam artists to defraud end-users.” Bing claims that this is the major reason for their banning of crypto-related content from its advertising platform that led to the blocking of more than five million ads. Bing also noted that its ban against the advertisement of weapons led to the blocking of more than 18 million ads along with more than 5000 websites. The company also added that its fight against tech scams has resulted in the closure of more than 12,000 Bing Ads accounts. In May 2018, Bing along with other internet giants announced that crypto-related ads would be banned on its network by July 2018. In an official post, the company then stated that: Before Bing took action, Facebook placed a ban on crypto ads in January 2018, same as Google in March 2018. Twitter was next, placing a ban on adverts for initial coin offerings (ICO) and token sales. While the firms have initially introduced bans on contents relating to crypto, these policies have not reflected the thoughts of their top executives. Jack Dorsey (the CEO of Twitter) is a vocal advocate of Bitcoin. Mark Zuckerberg (the CEO of Facebook) has also expressed his interest in digital assets, telling CNBC in 2018 that:
  3. A new report published on March 25 revealed that by 2025, Blockchain spending in the United States will increase from $3.12 billion to $41 billion by 2025. A new report dubbed the "United States Blockchain Business Opportunities and Outlook Databook Series (2016-2025)” forecasts that blockchain spending in the United States will report a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44.5%, rising from $3.1 million to $41.1 million by 2025. The report was released by Research and Markets (a market and research data platform). The report also reveals that during 2018, there was a 110% increase in blockchain spending in the U.S, taking the value to $1.6 billion. This report was prepared after the company reportedly reviewed market opportunities and risks of blockchain in over 75 areas spanning 11 industries in the U.S. Earlier in March, a report was released by market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) that global blockchain spending will experience rapid growth between 2018 and 2022, with a five-year CAGR of 76%, amounting to $12.4 billion in 2022. Geographically, the U.S. is set to see the largest blockchain spending of $1.1 billion, followed by Western Europe ($674 million) and China ($319 million). Also this month, Nouriel Roubini (an economist and notorious cryptocurrency critic) argued that blockchain is in no way having any link with the future of financial services. Roubini excluded blockchain tech from the list of major technologies that will lead to a manufacturing or fintech revolution, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things. Meanwhile, Manisha Singh (the U.S. Acting Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment), said that presently, the agency is in the research phase, striving hard to get a better understanding of the blockchain tech. Singh stated that “blockchain technology is becoming a global phenomenon. It is therefore essential that we better understand this cutting-edge technology, as it becomes more widely adopted in our economy.”
  4. Valerie Szczepanik, the senior advisor for digital assets at the United States Securites and Exchange Commission noted that, with the current securities laws, stablecoins could face some issues. On March 16, Decrypt (a blockchain-based news website) gave a report of her comments. Szczepanik, who is also referred to as the Crypto Czar, was appointed as the new associate director of the Division of Corporation Finance and senior advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation for Division Director Bill Hinman in June 2018. Szczepanik in her statement, categorized stablecoins into three. One type is tied to real assets like gold or real estate, while the other type is tied to fiat currency which are held in reserves. The last category makes use of market financial mechanisms to ensure the stability of the price. Szczepanik, explaining the last kind, said: “I’ve seen stablecoins that purport to control price through some kind of pricing mechanism, whether it’s tied to the issuance, creation or redemption of another type of digital asset tied to it, or whether it is controlled through supply and demand in some way to keep the price within a certain band.” Szczepanik also revealed that since fluctuations in price over time are controlled by a central party, the last category of stablecoins “might be getting into the land of securities.” She also explained that whether assets are tagged as stablecoins or something else, the SEC will always place projects at the same level of scrutiny. Szczepanik noted that: “Not to sound cliche, but we’d much rather people come to us and ask for [permission], or come talk to us before they do something, rather than doing something and then coming in and asking for forgiveness.” As reported by Cointelegraph in December 2018, Basis (a stablecoin project based in the United States) has officially announced that it will close operations and give investors a refund after they confirmed that they wouldn’t be able to avoid a security classification for their secondary token. Recently, Jay Clayton (the SEC chairman) seemed to confirm that, under the U.S law, Ethereum and other similar cryptocurrencies are not securities.
  5. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, once Denmark’s primeminister and NATO’s secretary general, has become the strategic advisor of blockchain identity startup Concordium. In an announcement made on Wednesday, Lars Seier Christensen (the Switzerland-based firm’s chairman) said Ramussen will play a very important role in the global expansion plans of the firm. Christensen established Concordium and was also the founder and ex-CEO of Saxo Bank. The startup is creating what it describes as an identity (ID) and know-your-customer (KYC)-validating, regulatorily compliant blockchain network. A proof-of-concept (PoC) of the service was launched by the firm back in January, with a beta release expected in Q3 of this year and a full public launch in Q1 2020. Christensen said Concordium plans to move into areas that would require a blockchain solution for “secure and private communications, as well as liaising with governmental departments.” He added that: “The network will support “tamper-proof” voting systems to “protect the institutions of civil society, which are fundamental to the functioning of democracy.” Rasmussen, who served as Denmark’s prime minister for three terms from 2001–2009, and as secretary-general of NATO from 2009–2014, said in the announcement: “We are only beginning to see the benefits that blockchain technology will bring to our societies, including in our democratic processes. Concordium’s blockchain-based voting solution offers a means of voting that is trustworthy, quick, and cost-effective. I am pleased to be working with Concordium to make sure that every vote is counted.” Concordium has plans to combine a built-in anti-money-laundering (AML) and KYC function with zero-knowledge proof privacy tech and compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The project is also developing a cryptocurrency called GTU (global transactions unit), also with a built-in compliance function. In January, Hans-Ole Jochumsen (former vice chairman of NASDAQ Europe), also joined the advisory board of the firm to guide the firm on its compliance efforts with his expertise in taxation, know-your-customer (KYC) practices and transaction provenance.
  6. Avnet, one of the largest distributors of electronic components and services in the world, through a partnership with BitPay (a blockchain payments processor) has started accepting crypto payments. In an announcement on Tuesday, the Fortune 500 firm said its customers can now pay in bitcoin (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH) for products and services, with BitPay then verifying and processing those payments. Sunny Trinh (Avnet vice president of demand creation) said that: Avnet said crypto payments can reduce the “time, cost and complexities of bringing products to market,” adding that it has already closed “several multi-million-dollar” crypto transactions within the first month of accepting crypto payments. A spokesperson for Avnet told CoinDesk that, with this news, Avnet becomes the third largest technology company in the U.S. (behind only Microsoft and Dell) to accept bitcoin payments. Sonny Singh, the chief commercial officer of BitPay said: The announcement also reveals that, Avnet has also teamed up with Bitcoin.com to create a new hardware wallet to enable cryptocurrency storage and provide the “highest level of security” for transactions. In January, BitPay said it processed over $1 billion-worth of cryptocurrency transactions in 2018 for the second year in a row.
  7. Blockstream, the blockchain and bitcoin technology revealed today the launch of Blockstream Green (its brand new bitcoin wallet). Green is a major update to the GreenAddresss wallet of Blockstream. Rebuilding it to have better speed and performance, its interface has also been redesigned to offer a premium user experience. Blockstream has created the app to cover many languages including: Dutch, Chinese, German, Italian, French, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian and English. Soon, more languages will be included. CSO of Blockstream, Samson Mow said that: Both casual and power users of Bitcoin will find a powerful feature set behind the new UI of Green: Hardware wallet support: For additional security, Android users can make use of a Trezor or Ledger hardware wallet to take their keys offline. Connect to your own node: Specify a full node for SPV, in order to minimize trust. Privacy-focused: There’s no need for documents, KYC, or personal information when setting up an account. Just an email address is required which is for wallet recovery purposes. It also supports connections over Tor. Multisig Two-Factor Authentication: Green wallets protect the wallets of users from hacks and thefts making use of application-based Two-Factor Authentication. Blockstream Green can be downloaded on Google Play and App Store. The Green apps’ open source code: Green Development Kit and libwally, can also be accessed on GitHub.
  8. Silvergate Bank, one of the few U.S. financial institutions that serves crypto businesses, in the fourth quarter, included 59 such clients, but its deposits from the industry dropped 8 percent. The updated IPO prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as of Dec. 31, revealed that the bank had 542 clients in the industry, which includes crypto exchanges, institutional investors in digital assets, and others. This increased from the 483 crypto clients that Silvergate counted as at Sept. 30 when it first filed to go public last year. According to the updated prospectus, two exchanges, 24 investors and 33 firms were among the new crypto clients signed in Q4, in a miscellaneous category that includes protocol and blockchain developers, miners and service providers. Silvergate, for the first time in an SEC filing, identified some of these clients, a few of which were not well-known to be bank customers: market maker Genesis Trading and investment funds Kenetic and Polychain Capital. Reports published earlier noted that the bank worked with Xapo (bitcoin wallet provider), Paxos and Circle (which are diversified crypto startups) and exchanges such as bitFlyer, Gemini, Coinbase, Kraken, Bitstamp and Bittrex. Decline in deposits Despite the growth in crypto clientele, the amount of U.S. dollars held by these customers in their Silvergate accounts dropped by $123 million in the 4th quarter, from $1.593 billion on Sept. 30 to $1.470 billion on Dec. 30. This shrinkage came entirely from the exchange category, where account balances declined by $174.4 million, to $618.5 million, while deposits from the other two groups grew. Crypto investors’ deposits increased $4.8 million to $577.5 million and other startups’ balances grew $46.4 million, to $273.9 million. Crypto businesses do not just constitute Silvergate’s main customer base but also possess 13.1% of the bank’s stock. The 10 largest clients of Silvergate had $843.6 million of deposits at the bank –around 47.3% of the total, and nine of them happened to be crypto businesses, the latest filing said. Further, the 37 crypto exchanges using Silvergate, account for 34.7% of its total deposits.
  9. A Hard Fork investigation revealed that over 40 vulnerabilities in some blockchain and crypto platforms have been detected by cybersecurities between the period of February 13 and March 13. Making use of HackerOne (a security platform that links organizations with white hat hackers), 43 reports on the bugs were sent to 13 organizations which got involved with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Crypto and blockchain platforms affected Among the platforms that received the vulnerability reports are Tendermint, Monero, Tezos, MyEtherWallet, and Coinbase. On the surface, none of the bugs were seen as critical. However, there were platforms that received multiple vulnerability reports. Gambling platform, Unikrn, which has a native crypto referred to as Unicoin had a total of 12 vulnerabilities taking top spot in the list of affected platforms. Developers of the OmiseGo platform (Omise) claimed second spot after receiving six reports. EOS received five bug reports, Tendermint four, while the Augur and Tezos platforms both had three vulnerabilities each. ICON, MyEtherWallet and Monero had two vulnerabilities while Coinbase, Brave, crypto.com, Electroneum received just one bug report each. How the Security researchers got rewarded The white hat hackers for their research work, were rewarded with $23,675. But taking the number of vulnerabilities reported into account, this is a considerably low amount. With respect to the value of bounties paid by the companies involved, Tendermint gave the security researchers $8,500 for their effort. Block.one also gave out $5,500 (the second highest bounty). Unikrn, in spite of the 12 reported bugs on the betting platform, rewarded the hackers with $1,375. It is worth noting that the value of the bounties for seven of the reported vulnerabilities was not stated.
  10. Joseph Lubin (Ethereum (ETH) co-founder) during the SXSW conference held in Austin on March 14, said that he expects the global economy to be 10 times larger in 10 to 20 years, when blockchain is fully ramified, and that blockchain will play a very big role in it. Lubin also pointed out that just the way nowadays there aren’t many “normal” people using blockchain-based systems, “there weren’t a lot of ‘normal’ people firing email around in 1983.” He also talked about the promises of Ethereum 2.0, stating that there are a lot of inefficiencies present in Bitcoin (BTC) and the current version of Ethereum that Ethereum 2.0 lacks: “In Bitcoin and currently in Ethereum, you need to have specialized hardware, burn lots of electricity, waste lots of computation, to basically keep everybody in sync. [With Ethereum 2.0, in 18 months] we’ll have a blockchain system much more powerful and scalable that uses orders of magnitude less energy.” As Cointelegraph recently reported, Lubin also said that blockchain technology and decentralization can benefit both content creators and journalists. The statements mentioned above goes in line with what Lubin said last year November, when he told a New York Times interviewer that with blockchain, society will move “from a scarcity to an abundance mindset.”
  11. As reported by the official news outlet of the UAE (Emirates News Agency) on March 17th, a joint forum was hosted by the United Arab Emirates Banks Federation (UBF) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). The report revealed that the eventheld in ADGM in partnership with the UBF compliance committee and focused on bringing together industry specialists to rub minds on the challenges as well as the opportunities fintech and crypto assets face. When the meeting commenced, ADGM also let known its regulatory objective and its major features of its crypto asset policy and surveillance tools. The general topics discussed at the forum ranged from the crypto asset regulations and supervisory approach of ADGM to how banks as well as financial regulators team up to develop procedures and processes to ease regulatory risks of crypto assets. The report also included the statement of chairman Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair saying: Al-Ghurair also talked about its aspirations to be one of the top international hubs for finance and how keeping up with technological change is vital in achieving his objective. Last month, Cointelegraph reported that the Ministry of Finance of the UAE also announced that it has intentions of discussing blockchain and digital assets development in the country’s economy at the 7th World Government Summit. This same month, six commercial banks from UAE and Saudi Arabia joined a digital currency project after the authorities of both countries announced an agreement to collaborate on the creation of a cryptocurrency in January.
  12. For the first time, a consortium of global bank regulators is warning about crypto assets for the first time. In a statement released today by the Basel Committee, it says: In the release, the group warned that crypto assets present some risks for banks, which include credit risk, liquidity risk, operational risk (including fraud and cyber risks), market risk, legal and reputation risks, money laundering and terrorist financing risk. The statement also faulted crypto assets for high volatility, lack of standardization and the fact they are constantly evolving. The Basel Committee has urged Banks to ensure they possess the relevant technical expertise to assess the risks stemming from crypto-assets and a robust risk management framework before jumping into them. The consortium stressed: The Switzerland-based Committee also told banks around the world to publicly disclose any material crypto-asset exposures.
  13. It was recently announced that, Bcause (cryptocurrency ecosystem developer) has plans to make use of the Financial Framework platform of Nasdaq. Grede (CEO of Bcause) has revealed that, as part of its ecosystem, Bcause is making use of Nasdaq's platform to launch its spot trading crypto market. Grede explained: "This is a pure technology licensing agreement, so what we're licensing is their order entry platform, their trade matching system, their clearing systems and their market surveillance systems.” Grede noted that the system of Nasdaq has seen considerable worldwide usage. Grede said: Grede also said that, Bcause will launch spot trading on Nasdaq's platform in a strategic move, with its sights set on derivatives and futures trading down the road. Grede said: Also, Bcause recognizes the required regulatory procedures concerning its spot trading, Grede mentioned. Spot trading requires a FinCEN registration, and applies to individual state regulations, he explained, adding: Nasdaq also sees Bcause as a notable player in the space. Paul McKeown (Nasdaq senior vice-president) made a statement that: “Bcause has methodically built a unique ecosystem that gives investors, partners and market players a holistic experience in tapping the cryptocurrency market and value chain [...] By leveraging the Nasdaq Financial Framework, Bcause will have the scalability and modular functionality to introduce new micro-services and expand its business offerings to meet industry demands and the evolution of the digital assets economy.”
  14. On 12th March, Bloomberg reported that Elwood Asset Management (a United Kingdom-based asset Management Company) hopes to increase its crypto offerings after co-launching a blockchain exchange-traded fund (ETF). Elwood formed a partnership with Invesco to ensure a blockchain ETF is brought to the market this week. Now, the company told reporters that it is already thinking of what else to offer institutional investors who want to gain exposure to the crypto arena. CEO, Bin Ren said that: “The only way for institutions to get meaningful exposure to digital assets has been to buy Bitcoin, but many are reluctant or unable to buy Bitcoin - and for good reason. An ETF gives a highly liquid and regulated way to gain exposure. This is the right point to start.’’ Ren however didn’t reveal what products or services Elwood could offer. Bloomberg summarized that: Crypto investment products keeps gaining both publicity and uptake, a trend which is contrasted by the still patchwork regulatory climate, which makes serving large numbers of clients vary in difficulty depending on jurisdiction. As reported by Cointelegraph, operators are presented with uncertain environments by both the United States and U.K. London has eyed banning certain crypto-related trading instruments, while in the United States, regulatory conformity has led to the repeated delay of Bakkt, a major institutional trading platform many hope will increase the public profile of the industry.
  15. The real estate firm in charge of the world’s tallest building intends developing its own crypto token. Emaar Group, one of the United Arab Emirates’ largest real estate developers and the firm behind the nearly 3,000 foot tall Burj Khalifa, on Monday, announced that it was planning to develop for its customers and partners, the “Emaar community token”, by the end of 2019 with the major goal of launching an initial coin offering (ICO). The firm will form a partnership with Switzerland-based crypto startup, Lykke AG to create an ethereum-based token designed to comply with the ERC-20 standard. According to a press release, once it is developed, Emaar plans to utilize the token as a referral and loyalty system. Customers will be able to utilize the token at any of Emaar’s holdings, such as its entertainment facilities, malls, online shopping venues or other properties. With the community token, Emaar targets 1 billion internet users. Just a little information about Emaar’s ICO has been released; however, the company plans concluding it within a year of the token’s initial launch. Only European buyers will be able to access this token. Emaar did not say how much money it intends to raise. In a statement, Mohamed Alabbar (Emaar Properties chairman) said the company is looking to “extend the Emaar experience.” He then added that: Apart from the Burj Khalifa, Emaar also possesses the Dubai Mall (second-largest mall by total area), the Dubai Opera, the Dubai Fountain and a number of other properties.