Crypto weekly update
17. April 2019  • clock 3 min •  Martin Trnik

Opera releases new browser with built-in crypto wallet – Crypto weekly update

Every week brings you a recap of the most valuable crypto-news from fields of Technology, Legal & Politics, Business, and Media. So stay tuned and buckle up for some good reading.

Bitcoin’s recent price rally has stalled and signs of indecision are evident in the market just a week after a big bullish breakout.The leading cryptocurrency closed at $5,190 on April 7, confirming an upside break of a bearish channel — the same pattern that paved the way for a bull market in 2015. So far, however, the follow through to that bearish-to-bullish trend change has been anything but bullish. The cryptocurrency witnessed two-way business last week, clocking a high and low of $5,347 and $4,912 before closing almost flat at $5,162.

I. Technology

Opera Releases New Browser With Built-In Crypto Wallet and Web 3.0 Explorer: Major web browser Opera is releasing a new browser with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet. The development was announced in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on April 9. Opera’s new browser Opera 60 (codenamed Reborn 3) features a native cryptocurrency dubbed Opera Wallet and a Web 3 explorer, which enables users to conduct transactions and interact with the blockchain-based internet, also known as Web 3. The browser also provides a virtual private network (VPN) feature in a bid to enhance users’ privacy and security. The Opera Wallet purportedly synchronizes with the cryptocurrency wallet in the Opera browser for smartphones, so that wallet keys never leave the users’ smartphones. The release further explains: “In practice, whenever they need to identify themselves to a Web 3 website or sign a transaction on the blockchain, users get a notification on their smartphone. They can confirm it in the same way they unlock their system, using, for example, facial recognition or their fingerprint.” With VPN service integration, the company aims to ensure users’ security and privacy by establishing an encrypted tunnel which “protects users’ data from third parties and secures their geographical location.” Opera executive vice president Krystian Kolondra said: “Blockchain technologies bring the power and control back to the people. They can securely sign transactions and identify themselves to websites, without unnecessarily oversharing their data.” Opera first announced the addition of a built-in cryptocurrency wallet to its Android browser back in July 2018. Product manager Charles Hame said then that “our hope is that this will accelerate the transition of cryptocurrencies from speculation and investment to being used for actual payments and transactions in our users’ daily lives.” Last month, Opera announced the upcoming launch of Opera Touch for iOS, a Web 3 browser with an integrated crypto wallet and support for Ethereum (ETH) and interactions with decentralized applications (DApps). Prior to that, Opera added a new service that allowed users in Sweden, Norway and Denmark to purchase Ethereum through the Android version of the browser. Earlier this year, blockchain-based browser Brave, an open-source, pay-to-surf browser based on Chromium that blocks ads and website trackers, partnered with news website Cheddar to offer its users limited time free access to premium content. Brave is also the default browser on Exodus, HTC’s native blockchain phone.

II. Legal & Politics

How EU and 5 European Nations Regulate Cryptocurrency: Leading up to the G20 summit in June, the Financial Stability Board has detailed how the European Union and its member countries are regulating crypto assets, who the regulators are in each country and the scope of their oversight. In most cases, crypto assets are overseen by several regulators. The Financial Stability Board (FSB), an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system, has listed four regulators for crypto assets in the European Union (EU). The first is the European Commission which is responsible for planning, preparing, and proposing legislation, including any on cryptocurrency if it “decides to propose such legislation,” the Board clarified. The Commission also monitors the effectiveness of financial sector reforms and responds to emerging financial stability risks. Another regulator is the European Banking Authority (EBA) whose functions include carrying out “regular horizon-scans in relation to innovative products and services,” including those related to crypto assets, “from the perspectives of monitoring the impact on the financial system, [and] the suitability of the regulatory perimeter under EU law.” The third regulator is the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority which monitors the developments of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the insurance sector. Lastly, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is responsible for safeguarding the stability of the EU’s financial system. Regarding crypto assets, ESMA published advice to European institutions in January acknowledging that crypto assets with certain characteristics are financial instruments and should be supervised as such, the FSB elaborated: „The advice also recommended the establishment of a bespoke regime for certain types of crypto-assets that fall outside the scope of financial instruments under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive.“

Young Africa Looks to Crypto for Payment: Data from Google Trends shows that Lagos, Nigeria ranks as the number one city based on the volume of online searches for Bitcoin (BTC). While this data may indicate a high level of interest among the city’s approximately 21 million people, it has yet to equate to tangible adoption of the emerging trend of technology. But that is changing, as a growing movement among young people frustrated with existing payment systems looks for alternatives. For the most part, “Lagosians” who are aware of the existence of Bitcoin see the top-ranked cryptocurrency as a substitute for the United States dollar. BTC exists for them on a spectrum that lends itself as a viable substitute for foreign currency. Payment companies like PayPal do not allow Nigerians to receive money transfers from abroad, thanks to the notoriety of internet fraudsters in the country — and the companies that offer such services usually charge high fees. Thus, it is common to see the city’s growing freelancing community beginning to pivot toward cryptocurrency payments. Many of the youth in the city, having battled with underemployment or unemployment, have sought to try their hands outside the traditional working environment. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reports that Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to above 23 percent in 2018. In a city like Lagos, many young university graduates can be seen making a living as freelancers, offering services from copywriting to website design and even computer programming. Given that many of their clients are based abroad, there can be issues with receiving payment for the work done. However, with a BTC wallet and a plethora of local exchange services, these freelancers can receive payments easily from clients spread across the globe.

A Crypto Blessing: China’s Plan to Ban Bitcoin Mining Will Work Wonders: The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) revealed its intent to eliminate the bitcoin and crypto mining sector immediately in its guidance for adjustments to industrial structure published on April 1. The list of sectors that will be encouraged, restricted and eliminated will undergo a public consultation period until May 7 according to the report of SCMP, and as such, mining facilities in China are likely to be able to operate throughout the next month or two. If after the public consultation phase the NDRC and the government of China move forward with the current plans to shut down the bitcoin and crypto mining sector, it would signal the end of the most dominant bitcoin mining region. The potential imposition of a ban on crypto mining may lead to the decentralization of mining across the global mining market and encourage miners based in China to move to foreign countries. “Bitcoin mining will no longer be dominated by China but become more decentralized,” a Beijing-based cryptocurrency research company analyst Michael Zhong told SCMP, emphasizing that Chinese miners in Yunnan and Sichuan would have to leave. Mati Greenspan, a senior market analyst at eToro, also noted that China’s potential ban on crypto mining could have a positive impact on the price trend of bitcoin. He said: “If this ban does end up happening its more likely to push BTC prices up than down. The loss of cheap Chinese electricity would raise the mining cost, which is net positive on price. It would also serve to kill the FUD that Bitcoin mining is centralized.” Kenetic managing partner Jehan Chu said that similar to the way China has been able to control what’s known as the Great Firewall of China, the government likely wants to “reboot” the cryptocurrency industry to how it sees fit. Chu said: “The NDRC’s move is in line overall with China’s desire to control different layers of the rapidly growing crypto industry, and does not yet signal a major shift in policy. I believe China simply wants to ‘reboot’ the crypto industry into one that they have oversight on, the same approach they took with the Internet.”

It remains unclear whether China is planning to offer a strictly regulated cryptocurrency market in the future or its priority is simply to ban all industries related to the asset class.

III. Media

Youtube Star Pewdiepie Joins Live Streaming Platform That Accepts Cryptocurrency: Pewdiepie has announced that he is joining live streaming platform Dlive. The service supports cryptocurrency payments for purchases of its native tokens, with accepted options including bitcoin cash (BCH) as well as BTC, ETH and LTC. Pewdiepie, the leading Youtube star with over 93 million subscribers, has announced that he is partnering with Dlive. An alternative to video live streaming platform Twitch, Dlive is defined as a “decentralized livestreaming community built using the Lino blockchain.” Dlive claims to have over 3 million monthly active users and 35,000 active streamers. The platform is available online at as well as via its Android and iOS apps. Content creators and viewers can earn rewards for their participation in the form of Lino points, the native tokens of the network. For users outside the U.S. it is also possible to buy Lino points with cryptocurrency including bitcoin cash (BCH) as well as BTC, ETH and LTC. Why Is Pewdiepie Going With Dlive? Pewdiepie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has often complained about the demonetization of his videos by Youtube for a long while now, whether due to controversy, copyright claims or other issues. In contrast to Youtube and Twitch, he calls Dlive a platform that is focused on its content creators first. And according to its website, Dlive “takes absolutely zero platform cuts from users’ donations and subscriptions.”

It’s happening. The blockchain is disrupting the agriculture space, thanks to Fogo de Chao, a Plano, Texas-based Brazilian steakhouse. Fogo de Chao revealed it will integrate blockchain technology to monitor the meat it serves from farm to table. In doing so, the restaurant is helping to catapult the cattle ranching business into the high-tech arena. Cattle ranchers gain a window into the health and behavior of their animals. Restaurants can track where the meat came from. And consumers can see the history of the animal’s life on a “semi-public” network using their smartphone. Fogo de Chao, which has locations across the U.S., Mexico, and the Middle East, has teamed up with Boerne, Texas-based ag-tech startup HerdX for what it describes as the first of its kind partnership. The inspiration for adding the blockchain to track meat was twofold: food safety and transparency. A HerdX spokesperson told CCN: “We are launching first in Fogo de Chao’s three Dallas locations and then quickly scaling with them to all of their 52 locations.” HerdX CTO Austin Adams told a CBS affiliate: “Our main goal is to promote the legacy of the two percent of people that actually raise the animals that Americans eat. By doing that, we’re also able to create a safer supply chain.” The next time you visit Fogo de Chao, be sure and bring your smartphone. This is how you will be able to access the history of the herds of animals that made the meal possible. The app, which is built on the blockchain, provides you with a glimpse into the life of the animal. First, scan a QR code on Fogo de Chao’s menu. Next, thanks to the blockchain, view details such as where the cattle originated from and when the meat made its way to the restaurant. Keep in mind that seeing when the animal was born could have the unintended consequence of making you a vegetarian.

How Mobile Browsers Are Driving the Next Wave of Cryptocurrency Adoption: You may not have noticed, but crypto’s first killer app is already here. It’s called the mobile browser. Until recently, mobile internet browsers were little more than a means to connect to the web on the go. Then, developers began integrating crypto-friendly functionality such as wallet, dapp store, and VPN, supercharging the humble mobile browser and transforming it into a powerful toolkit with a range of applications. Mobile web browsers are quietly evolving into highly versatile tools for cryptocurrency users. In the process, they’ve lowered the barriers for entry for beginners by making it easy to take the first steps towards owning and using cryptocurrency. Quietly yet steadily, a number of software and hardware developers have been adding functionality to feature phones through infusing them with the tools required to browse the Web 3.0. It’s still early days, but the progress that has been made in bringing everyday usability to crypto assets bodes well for wider adoption. Opera’s crypto-friendly Android browser has been pivotal in driving this trend, with Brave hot on its heels. Until Opera came along, spending cryptocurrency in-browser was largely constrained to desktop devices, with Metamask handling ETH and ERC20 tokens and Badger taking care of all things BCH. With the introduction of Opera’s integrated ETH wallet, however, it’s now simple for users to browse, buy, send and receive crypto all within their web browser. On March 20, Opera went one step further, introducing an in-browser VPN for mobile users that can be activated in two clicks. At the same time, its new Android update introduced crypto pairing, enabling mobile users to link their Opera cryptocurrency wallet with their desktop browser, explaining: “With the recent improvements to our Crypto Wallet, including our efforts to dramatically simplify the acquisition of funds, we are fulfilling our goal to make Opera for Android the natural choice for stepping into blockchain technology and Web 3.0 for the first time. “

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have jointly launched a private blockchain and a so-dubbed quasi-cryptocurrency, the Financial Times (FT) reports on April 12. According to the newspaper, the asset called “Learning Coin” will be accessible only within the IMF and World Bank. The coin has no money value and thus is not a real cryptocurrency, the FT underlines. As the FT has learned, “Learning Coin” was launched in order to better understand the technologies that underlie crypto assets. Its app will serve as a hub where blogs, research, videos and presentations are stored. During the test, the World Bank and IMF staff will earn coins for achieving certain educational milestones. The institutions will allow them to redeem the assets gained for some rewards, which will allow them to learn how coins can be used in real life. Per the IMF, the banks and regulators across the world have to catch up with crypto technologies that are rapidly developing. The FT quotes the IMF as saying: “The development of crypto-assets and distributed ledger technology is evolving rapidly, as is the amount of information (both neutral and vested) surrounding it. This is forcing central banks, regulators and financial institutions to recognize a growing knowledge gap between the legislators, policymakers, economists and the technology.” Moreover, after the test, the World Bank and IMF reportedly might use blockchain to launch smart contracts, combat money laundering and enhance the overall level of transparency. Earlier in April, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that blockchain innovators are shaking up the traditional financial world and have a clear impact on incumbent players. She also noted that the potential of blockchain-based technologies and assets is embraced by regulators and central banks, who recognize its positive effect. Meanwhile, a World Bank official expressed a more skeptical point of view. According to Aanchal Anand, a Land Administration Specialist in the bank’s Global Land and Geospatial Unit, there is too much hype over blockchain, which causes unrealistic expectations.

IV. Business

Bitcoin Outperforms Nasdaq 100, S&P 500, Grows Whopping 37% in 2019: Since January 1, according to OnChainFX, the bitcoin price is up 37 percent year-to-date against the U.S. dollar, outperforming most indices including the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100. Despite its 80 percent drop from its all-time high in 2018, bitcoin has performed strongly in recent months, demonstrating newly gained momentum. In early 2017, bitcoin was valued at less than $1,000. Since 2017, bitcoin is up around 400 percent in about two and a half years. Last month, in a column entitled “The case for a small allocation to bitcoin,” Xapo CEO Wences Casares said that a $10 million portfolio should invest up to 1 percent in bitcoin, about $100,000 because it has a chance to bring a large return over the long run. Casares said: “I suggest that a $10 million portfolio should invest at most $100,000 in Bitcoin (up to 1% but not more as the risk of losing this investment is high). If Bitcoin fails, this portfolio will lose at most $100,000 or 1% of its value over 3 to 5 years, which most portfolios can bear. But if Bitcoin succeeds, in 7 to 10 years those $100,000 may be worth more than $25 million, more than twice the value of the entire initial portfolio.” Although the performance of bitcoin throughout the past several years has been overshadowed by the unexpected bull run in 2017 that briefly led the dominant cryptocurrency to achieve a price of $20,000, in a larger time frame, bitcoin has performed relatively well against many asset classes. Bitcoin along with the rest of the cryptocurrency market is currently at an early stage in terms of adoption. The signs of an inflow of institutional capital only started to show in 2018 through investment firms like Grayscale. Major financial institutions such as Fidelity and ICE have only begun to commit to the cryptocurrency market in early 2019, considering the launch of various custodial solutions. Investors and entrepreneurs like Casares note that there still remains a small chance of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general failing. But, if investors see a slight chance of bitcoin surviving as it has done in the past ten years, it presents a long-term investment opportunity. As the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) chairman Jeff Sprecher said: “Somehow bitcoin has lived in a swamp and survived. There are thousands of other tokens that you could argue are better but yet bitcoin continues to survive, thrive and attract attention.” A positive indicator in the long-term survivability of bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry is the direction which leading companies have started to take.

With the lead of Bitwise, Gemini, Coinbase, and other compliance-focused companies, the cryptocurrency industry has tacked key issues such as fake volume, regulatory uncertainty, and investor protection. Gemini, for instance, obtained insurance services from Aon in October 2018 to better protect user funds in a highly unlikely event of a security breach. “Educating our insurers not only allows us to provide such protections to our customers, but it also sets the expectation for consumer protection across the crypto industry,” Yusuf Hussain, Gemini’s Head of Risk, said at the time.

Top Trump Advisor’s Shocking Claim Proves Why We Need Bitcoin: As the Trump administration passes a snowballing debt pile onto Generation Z with self-serving monetary policy, a powerful pro-Bitcoin argument once confined to developing nations is coming home to roost. The importance of cryptocurrency as a means of financial independence became starkly apparent on Thursday when Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow made the bold — and shocking — claim that we “wouldn’t see another rate hike in his lifetime”. The “economist” is 71 and has excellent federal healthcare benefits, so either he’s not feeling particularly optimistic about his prospects, or he’s confident that Trump will rule the Federal Reserve by proxy through at least his second term. Either way, it’s an odd claim. Of course, we know the real reason he threw cold water on rate hawks. He’s trying to make sure the stock market is as pumped up as possible for Trump 2020 — so he can keep his job. Kudlow’s economic plan also requires a desperately weak dollar to keep foreign investment funding the debt-hole Trump blew open with the recent tax reform. I’ve never seen a more compelling argument for Bitcoin than the corruption and mismanagement that infects so many governments and central banks. Usually, these are in nations like Zimbabwe or Venezuela, where abuse of power has permeated every inch of public governance. However, disastrous monetary policy festers in the first-world, too. Naturally, a deflationary asset like Bitcoin could be a life-saver for people who have faced hyperinflation, but many reports have suggested that it isn’t such a compelling idea in the developed world, where sturdy mediums of exchange exist. This argument ignores the fact that damage isn’t always immediately apparent. The problem with limited-term governance is it encourages politicians to look only in the near-term. If you are a US resident born into Generation Z, you must helplessly watch your future tax burden grow with every passing month. It’s the only way to undo the mess that years of recklessness have created, and Trump’s tax cuts have put the cherry on top. Does anyone remember when Republicans cared about fiscal responsibility? Given that Trump’s yes-men now crowd the halls of the White House and are likely soon to sit at the Fed, Bitcoin may be the only way for the future to regain their future. Financial independence has always been important, but it’s quickly growing vital. The cost of two recessions has been kicked far down the road, and — newsflash — someone has to pay for it. The US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency because of its stability and liquidity. Cryptocurrency, in contrast, is illiquid, and the public trusts it less — for now. Every time the White House attacks the Fed or increases the unfunded debt, the confidence-gap narrows.

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