We will be introducing Week in Review starting this week. Before we get to that, we wanted to give you the scoop of important updates that took place in Blockchain and Crypto space so far this year. If we missed any, do let us know.
This could be considered Part 2 of our original Bull Stampede ahead but with a focus on what happened in 2019.
Of course, the biggest news for 2019 so far is Bitcoin remained the highest performing asset of any asset class. That is quite a feat especially emerging out of a bear market.
There are some constants in the space: Bitfinex-Tether conundrum, Warren Buffet’s anti-BTC sentiments, Craig Wright’s claim to be Satoshi, and Christopher Giancarlo is still a hero for crypto lovers.
And, there are some indicative trends that are emerging: failing fiat economies are embracing bitcoin as hedge against market and political pressures.
Let’s look at the news that has some relevance for bitcoin and blockchain space, not just glitter.
Binance hack: KYC data of its users exposed
One of the most popular and quick to fame Binance Crypto exchange has been hacked and the KYC documents of its users has been compromised. The hackers are now blackmailing Binance for a ransom.
Coinbase Ventures is Empowering the Open Financial System
Coinbase is working on the long term vision of blockchain and crypto by investing in the companies that are working to make financial system more inclusive. The company’s website lists the companies in which Coinbase has already made an investment.
South Korea’s partial ‘Regulation-Free’ zones open doors to Crypto
While the politicians in the US are busy making uninformed statements about Bitcoin and comparing it with USD and nefarious activities, South Korea is creating spaces to nurture blockchain technology. Busan has been declared as the ‘regulation-free’ zone for Crypto operators to set their businesses.
Walmart applies for Digital Currency patent
The quality of this application leaves us asking for more, nevertheless, Walmart has joined the race of digital currency using blockchain. Walmart is the largest retail store in America and if it introduces Walmart coin with a boat load of discounts for using it – the adoption could be much easier and faster than Facebook’s Libra. This space is getting hotter by the minute.
IRS issued letters to Crypto taxpayers
Internal Revenue Service has issued notice letters (Format 6173, 6174, 6174-A) to close to 10,000 taxpayers who had cryptocurrency transactions. We will be providing more guidance on these letters and what to do if you received one yourself. Stay tuned.
New York establishes Research and Innovation Division to license Crypto businesses
“It will house the Department’s division responsible for licensing and supervising virtual currencies, and it will assess new efforts to use technology to address financial exclusion; identify and protect consumer data rights; and encourage innovations in the financial services marketplace to preserve New York’s competitiveness as a financial innovation hub,” read the Press Release.
TD Ameritrade launches Bitcoin futures trading
With 1.2 Trillion dollars in assets under its management, TD Ameritrade’s launch of Bitcoin futures marks yet another milestone in the journey of Bitcoin mass adoption. At this time, the futures are available for professional clients with a minimum of $25,000 in the account.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calls Bitcoin a “National threat”
Bitcoin is a “National threat” opined the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, while holding a briefing on regulating cryptocurrency. We do not expect Politicians to know a lot about bitcoin, however, being a Treasury Secretary – Steven Mnuchin was expected to be more ‘balanced’ in his approach, however, that was not the case.
Canada’s City of Richmond Hill accepts bitcoin for tax payments
City of Richmond Hill in Canada has approved a proposal to accept bitcoin to settle tax payments. “We believe that the demand for a digital currency payment option is only going to grow in the coming years, especially amongst millennials”, said Richmond Hill Deputy Mayor Joe Di Paola who moved the motion.
IRS’s leaked Cyber Crimes training deck sends ripples in the Crypto community
Blanket Subpoenas against Apple, Google and Microsoft to backtrack the crypto activities was among the suggestions proposed in an IRS Cyber Crimes training deck that was leaked on the internet. IRS is building capabilities to use Chainalysis to track the wallets back to the owners.
The Miami Dolphins have an official Cryptocurrency: Litecoin
What better way to get the word out than sports? Litecoin managed to become the official cryptocurrency of The Miami Dolphins team giving them access to the NFL hardcore fan base. Moves like these are paving the way for Cryptocurrency to the mainstream.
SEC is seeking blockchain data provider to help its efforts to monitor
Securities Exchange Commission of the United States intends to “procure Commercially Available Off-the-Shelf (COTS) enterprise-wide data subscription for blockchain ledger data to support its efforts to monitor risk, improve compliance, and inform Commission policy with respect to digital assets” according to its solicitation.
Prime Factor Capital receives authorization as Alternative Investment Fund Manager
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has authorized Prime Factor Capital to act as Alternative Investment Fund Manager. Nic Niedermowwe, CEO of Prime Factor Capital, comments: “This is a significant milestone not just for Prime Factor, but for the industry as a whole. Being FCA-regulated brings us under the purview of one of the most recognised financial markets regulators globally. This is particularly relevant in the cryptocurrency space, which has repeatedly captured headlines for poor operating standards and even fraudulent activity. Investors need to be able to trust their managers not only to generate returns, but also to act responsibly and in their best interest.”
Facebook is asked to halt its cryptocurrency, Libra, project
There is a new villain in the Cryptosphere and everyone is glad that it is ‘Facebook’. U.S. House of Representatives asked Facebook to appear in front of Congress to discuss its Libra project. Governments have realized just how detrimental Facebook’s Libra could be to the Fiat’s existence and they are using all the excuses in the book to undermine it.
ErisX gets approval for physically settled Digital Asset Futures Contracts from CFTC
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has granted Derivatives Clearing Organization (DCO) license. “As a registered DCO, the ErisX clearinghouse will offer the clearing of digital asset futures contracts traded on ErisX’s regulated derivatives market, which will launch later this year” read their official Medium post.
Coming soon: Ethereum on Amazon
Thanks to two startups, Clic Technology and Opporty, we could soon be able to use Ethereum to make purchases on Amazon. These two startups are launching a browser extension that could bring the modern day token economy one step closer to reality.
Google integrates Chainlink
“Possible applications are innumerable, but we’ve focused this post on a few that we think are of high and immediate utility: prediction marketplaces, futures contracts, and transaction privacy” read the announcement from Google which is integrating Chainlink into its initiative.
Rumors about Crypto ban in India intensify
First it was South Korea, then China, and now India. Rumors about the ban on cryptocurrency have intensified in India. A draft bill made rounds on the internet that proposes severe punitive measures against people dealing in cryptos.
Apple unveils CryptoKit
Framework around Cryptographic Developer tools that enable Cryptographic operations has been unveiled by Apple under the name CryptoKit.
Microsoft adds BTC symbol to Excel
Nerds and crypto enthusiasts welcomed the addition of BTC sign to Microsoft’s Excel tool. This gesture comes after Google and Apple both beat MS to the punch in adding the BTC sign. Better late than remaining MS.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) tightens the grip on Crypto exchange firms
FATF is closing in on ‘liberal’ crypto exchanges who have ignored the KYC and AML requirements. Lot of the banking rules (like reporting the sender/receiver details under the ‘travel rules’ issued by FinCEN) could be applied to Crypto exchanges. The direction of FATF was met with resistance from the crypto communities who argue that these rules are being designed to ‘stifle’ the blockchain and crypto revolution.
Montana catches up with times; exempts utility tokens from Securities Laws
Catching up with the times is not confined to Silicon Valley or NYC and Montana proved this by introducing House Bill 0584 which exempts utility tokens from Securities Laws as long there is a ‘utility’ for the token as defined in the bill.
Twitter and Square to make Bitcoin adoption INEVITABLE
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, is a known advocate of Bitcoin. He is showing his love for Bitcoin into business by making bitcoin and crypto payments available on Square. Square is a 30 Billion dollar company and bringing crypto payments to the platform can make adoption of Bitcoin and Crypto payments inevitable.
Blockchains LLC buys Nevada based Kirkwood Bank
In an effort to bring Crypto mainstream, Jeffrey Berns, CEO of Blockchains LLC, has acquired Nevada based Kirkwood Bank. These dents into the mainstream financial service industry is what is needed to onboard blockchain businesses into our daily lives.
China includes Blockchain as one of their top strategic priorities
Deloitte’s 2019 Global Blockchain Survey included Blockchain regional analysis in which they shine light on China’s “real economy” initiative in which blockchain was included as the top strategic priority.
Euro 6.5 Million Real Estate deal conducted on Blockchain in Paris
A real estate deal worth Euro 6.5 Million was closed in Paris using Blockchain. This transaction further cemented the utility of Blockchain in the Real Estate space.
MIT says it developed a cryptocurrency that reduces the bandwidth by 99%
In a Press Release, MIT announced that it has developed a cryptocurrency that reduces data users to join the network and verify the transactions by 99%. They have named this cryptocurrency as “Vault”.
LedgerX, a New York based clearing house, gets approval to physically settle bitcoin futures contracts
The first federally regulated exchange and clearing house to list and clear fully-collateralized, physically-settled bitcoin swaps and options for the institutional market, LedgerX LLC, is the first entity to get CFTC approval to physically settle the bitcoin futures contracts.
Congressman joins the blockchain race
Former chief economic adviser to President of the United States, Gary Cohn, joins Spring Labs, who also held Chief Operating Officer post at Goldman Sachs. Talk about acceptance of the mainstream business of blockchain.
Prominent crypto news site dies and resurrects from the dead in less than 3 days
CCN.com (formerly CryptoCoinsNews.com) announced that they were going to shutdown following Google algorithm updates that slashed the mobile traffic for the website. However, thanks to the outrage and all the searches flooding their way – they announced that they were back from the dead.
Visa’s move may be RIP for Ripple
Our readers know that we are not big fans of Ripple, even to the peril of being on the wrong end of an otherwise lucrative investment. We are willing to live with that chance. Swift, then Stellar, then IBM, all ventured into what Ripple was hoping to, however, the latest to enter this space is Visa. With its massive network and infrastructure, this could be something that can finally sing RIP for Ripple. Of course, we don’t want that to be the case, just to be clear.
Niall Ferguson retracts his comments about Crypto and joins Ampleforth
First he openly accepts that he was completely wrong about assuming Crypto being worthless, then, Niall Ferguson joins a crypto startup that wants to develop a stablecoin pegged against goods instead of dollar.
Justin Sun wins lunch bid with Warren Buffet and hopes to turn him into a blockchain believer
4.6 Million, that’s what costs to sit with Warren Buffet at lunch. Justin Sun has invited blockchain pundits to join him with Warren Buffet for lunch, and hopes to change his views on bitcoin and blockchain.
Facebook introduces its CopyCat coin
Social media giant, Facebook, will announce its own cryptocurrency that will facilitate messenger payments. The verdict is still out on whether or not this is good for crypto space. You can read our opinion here.
Microsoft releases tool to verify smart contracts
Formal verification of smart contracts developed in solidity programming language is now possible, thanks to Microsoft. These strides are necessary for building confidence in smart contracts and blockchain platforms.
SEC sues Kik
You cannot raise $100 Million without appropriate meeting the requirements of the SEC. Kik was sued by SEC according to their official press release.
Google and Apple add Bitcoin sign to the keyboard
IRS to issue, finally, guidance on Cryptocurrency taxation
Cryptocurrency taxation guidance might finally be available this year. This guidance is expected sometime in June, however, even if we get this before the end of the year – that would be a great stamp of approval for the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies.
State Farm and USAA are working together to test a blockchain solution
Two insurance giants announced a joint subrogation solution to test blockchain technology in speedy processing of auto claims.
Ernst & Young and Deloitte join Ethereum network
First it was EY, and then Deloitte, both accounting behemoths are now on Ethereum network building their own service solutions for the blockchain space with Ethereum as the underlying platform.
Samsung Pay to utilize blockchain to onboard its 10 million users
Korea Herald reported that Samsung Pay could include crypto wallet that could give direct access to its 10 million users to the crypto world.
Montana exempts utility tokens from securities law
Who would have thought that Montana would lead the way for other states to wake up, but that is just what happened, Montana exempted utility tokens from the purview of securities law.
Robinhood comes to New York
Commission-free cryptocurrency trading platform enters New York marking a milestone. Robinhood’s entry into global financial hub is a ceremonious moment for the crypto fans.
AT&T becomes first mobile carrier to accept bitcoin
We are not sure why anyone would exchange their bitcoins for fiat, but if one so chooses, he/she can use bitcoin to pay AT&T bills.
Swiss Exchange (SIX) to launch blockchain and stablecoin in 2019
Stable coin fever is everywhere. It is more rampant than blockchain itself. Swiss Exchange is the latest to catch this fever, however, we are glad because it’s the Swiss.
CBS’s 60 minutes on bitcoin
60 minutes is probably one of the longest running shows that has not lost its credibility because of tenure. Now Anderson Cooper hosted 60 minutes show on Bitcoin titled “Bitcoin’s wild ride”. Adoption, here we come in the disguise of sensational titles.
Bitconnect is coming back, but why?
After the spectacular fall from $435 to under 30 cents in the shortest span of any asset class’s history, Bitconnect site hints its resurrection. Our only question is – WHY?
Crypto dominates IMFs survey on preferred payment method
21000 out of 37000 preferred cryptocurrency to other payment methods. Of course, this survey may have been swarmed by crypto evangelists but nevertheless that is quite an overwhelming outcome to IMFs survey
Amazon files patent for Proof of Work
It may not be long before the USA will mean Unified Shoppers of Amazon. It just feels like Amazon is in everything. Now Amazon made its omnipresence known with a patent for Proof of Work with US Patent office.
FDIC insurance comes to crypto
Crypto is getting more and more legitimate by the day. The latest in this journey is the FDIC insurance, thanks to SFOX and its partnership with M.Y. Safra Bank.
FinCEN issues guidance on virtual currencies
Addressing many questions from the businesses and individuals in the virtual currency space, FinCEN has issued guidance that many interpret to be restrictive, read it yourself.
Fidelity may offer cryptocurrency trading for pros
Investment mammoth, Fidelity, is looking to open its doors for cryptocurrency trading to professionals.
Maryland passes bill to embrace blockchain
States are in a race to put out a ‘blockchain friendly’ face for the techies. Maryland embraced blockchain by signing Senate Bill 136 that allows companies to record stock ledgers and accompanying information on blockchain.
London Stock Exchange could use blockchain
For a 300 year old financial institution to acknowledge blockchain is a big deal, it’s even sweeter deal when that institution is London Stock Exchange.
Washington gives legal status to blockchain
Records entered on Distributed Ledger Technology, including Blockchain, will now be legally binding in Washington. Bill 5638 is now passed into law.
Amazon Managed Blockchain service opens
A fully managed blockchain service is now available via Amazon Managed Blockchain services.
Philip Morris International pivots blockchain use
The cigarette giant wants to use public blockchain to track tax stamps on the cigarette boxes to ensure that the taxes are actually paid.
Let us know if we have missed any important updates in the comments.
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RK Reddy holds two Masters degrees, one in Accounting and another in Business Administration with over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry.