Crypto weekly update
9. May 2019  • clock 3 min •  Martin Trnik

Ripple inks a deal with a $40 billion Money Transfer – 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.

68% of Rich Investors Admit They’ve Caught the Bitcoin. That’s the conclusion from a blockbuster survey conducted by deVere Group, a wealth adviser with more than 80,000 clients and $12 billion under advisement. The survey, which included responses from 700 deVere clients across the world with at least £1 million in investable assets, found that 68% of high-net-worth investors plan to invest in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies within the next three years. “The research shows that wealthy individuals are increasingly seeking exposure to cryptocurrencies,” said Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group. “There is growing, universal acceptance that cryptocurrencies are the future of money – and the future is now. High net worth individuals are not prepared to miss out on this and are rebalancing their investment portfolios towards these digital assets.” Green explained that FOMO – the fear of missing out – will drive wealthy investors to add cryptocurrency to portfolios. He predicted that the asset class would upend money like e-commerce giant Amazon plowed through the retail industry, and he said that sophisticated investors wouldn’t want to find themselves on the outside looking in. “Crypto is to money what Amazon was to retail. Those surveyed clearly will not want to be the last one on the boat.” Otherwise, they might end up like Warren Buffett, whose firm finally invested in Amazon stock – about two decades too late – and continues to punt at its chance to purchase bitcoin at a more than 70% discount from its all-time high.


Amazon Web Services Launches Managed Blockchain Service. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing platform subsidiary of retail giant Amazon, has made its Amazon Managed Blockchain (AMB) generally available, according to an announcement on April 30. The product will purportedly allow customers to set up blockchain networks within their organizations, and uses the Ethereum and Hyperledger open source frameworks. Notably, Amazon states that AMB can scale to support thousands to millions of transactions. Amazon states that the blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) will allow businesses to develop their own networks more quickly and at a lower cost, as it eliminates the need to “to provision hardware, install software, create and manage certificates for access control, and configure network settings.” Rahul Pathak, General Manager, Amazon Managed Blockchain at AWS said: “Amazon Managed Blockchain takes care of provisioning nodes, setting up the network, managing certificates and security, and scaling the network.” According to AWS’ announcement, major firms that have implemented AMB include United States communications giant AT&T, the Nestlé global food and beverage company and Singapore Exchange Limited. AWS initially announced AMB in November of last year along with the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB). QLDB is a ledger database designed to provide transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable log of transactions, which is overseen by a central authority.

Bitmain Aims to Leapfrog Competition With Its Next-Gen Bitcoin Miner. On April 28, the China-based mining rig manufacturer Bitmain Technologies announced the launch of its latest Antminer T17 model which processes roughly 40 terahashes per second (TH/s). The machine delivers better power efficiency with 55 joules per terahash (J/TH) and the T17 is also equipped with second-generation TSMC 7nm semiconductors. Bitmain has announced its latest product release with the new T17 model, a mining rig that supposedly boasts 40TH/s at top speeds. The manufacturer had already released the Antminer S17 series two weeks ago and the newest T models were announced as “coming soon,” but the specifications and prices were not yet available. The Antminer T17 is a mining rig that processes the SHA-256 algorithm allowing users to mine bitcoin cash (BCH) and bitcoin core (BTC). Bitmain’s blog details that the T17 uses an entirely new design feature aimed at reducing dust entry. Further, the company reveals the mining rig also uses dual tube heat dissipation technology in order to reduce wind resistance. “The space between the air inlet to the air outlet has been reduced by 50%, improving heat dissipation which further enhances the long-term operation of the miner and reduces maintenance costs for users,” the company’s announcement explained on Sunday. According to the Antminer T17 specifications, the machine costs $1,270 per unit and the company has set a limit to 10 miners per user. Shipments of the first batch will start on a first-paid-first-ship basis and delivery starts between May 5-20, 2019. In addition to the 40 TH/s, the miner has a power consumption of 2200W. The T17 weighs around 11.5kg with four fans and a sound output of around 82dB. There are three boards that utilize approximately 90 BM1397 7nm chips that employ TSMC’s FinFET technology. The T17 offers a newly improved APW9 power supply which aims to ensure longer and stable operations. The new miner can be purchased through the website but shipments to the U.S. will include a 2.6% tax due to the mining rig’s import classification.

MIT Professor Christian Catalini Is Working on Facebook Coin. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Christian Catalini is on leave and working on the development of Facebook coin, cryptocurrency news Coindesk reported on May 3. Per the report, two anonymous sources with knowledge of the situation told Coindesk about Catalini’s collaboration with Facebook. Catalini — the Theodore T. Miller Career Development Professor at MIT — is reportedly one of the more prominent researchers in the field of token economies. He recently co-authored a report with the University of Toronto professor Joshua Gans on initial coin offerings and the value of tokens. Earlier this week, news broke that social media giant Facebook is reportedly seeking investments worth $1 billion for its bespoke cryptocurrency. Reports first surfaced in May of last year that Facebook was “exploring” the creation of its own token. At the end of 2018, Bloomberg reported that the company was creating crypto for users of its WhatsApp messaging service. Then, in February, a New York Times report stated that Facebook is “hoping to succeed where Bitcoin failed” with its highly secretive cryptocurrency project. At press time, both Facebook and Catalini have not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment on the reported development. As Cointelegraph previously reported, Catalini was one of the people leading the MIT Bitcoin Project, which raised $500K to distribute $100 worth of Bitcoin to all undergraduate students at MIT in 2014. In April, Cointelegraph released an analysis of the participation — both rumored and confirmed — of internet giants Facebook, Twitter and Telegram in the cryptocurrency space.

II. Legal & Politics

80 Firms Including MasterCard, Coinbase Spent $42 Mln Lobbying Crypto, Fintech Issues in Q1. Around 40 entities lobbied for bitcoin (BTC) and blockchain-related causes in the United States in Q1 2019, political news site Roll Call reported on April 30. Citing data from the Federal Electoral Commission, the publication stated that around half of the 80 lobbying entities included cryptocurrency-related items, with total quarterly lobbying expenditure reaching over $42 million. Among the biggest spenders who included crypto were accounting giants Ernst & Young and Accenture, while the biggest of all was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which accounted for $16.4 million for fintech lobbying in general. Payment systems firm MasterCard also paid a total of $720,000 for lobbying activities on issues including those related to virtual currencies. Crypto industry businesses such as Coin Center and cryptocurrency wallet and exchange Coinbase also featured, the latter spending $50,000 on areas including the Bank Secrecy Act. Broadly speaking, entities seek to influence new or existing laws that create problematic conditions for the new technology, with some focusing on specific legislative projects. Industry advocacy group the Blockchain Association, for example, is targeting an Ohio bill which plans to exempt cryptocurrencies from securities regulations under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). “That’s probably been our biggest focus and it will continue to be our biggest focus for the next couple of months,” Roll Call quotes director of external affairs, Kristin Smith, as saying. Previous statistics mentioned a total of 33 entities lobbying Washington on blockchain in Q4 of last year. As Cointelegraph reported, regulation of the crypto space remains a contentious issue in the U.S., with approaches varying widely between states. Andrew Yang, the 2020 presidential candidate, has promised to unify the patchwork landscape as part of his election manifesto.

Singapore and Canada Central Banks Complete First Cross-Border Blockchain Payment. The central banks of Singapore and Canada have successfully used their blockchain networks to send each other digital currency, a joint press release confirmed on May 2. As part of the distributed ledger technology (DLT) projects being pursued by both banks, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (BAS) sent funds to the Bank of Canada (BoC) without a third party. The process was made possible by linking up two DLT networks: MAS’ nascent Project Ubin platform and BoC’s Project Jasper. JPMorgan and accounting giant Accenture, which assisted in the development of the platforms, also partnered with the banks to make the trade possible. “The next wave of central bank blockchain projects can make further progress by bringing technology exploration together with policy questions about the future of cross-border payments,” MAS chief fintech officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, commented in the press release. He added: “It is challenging work, and we welcome other central banks to join us in this global collaboration, to bring benefit to consumers, businesses and the broader financial industry.” As with other bank-initiated blockchain payments schemes at various stages of development worldwide, cost-cutting and efficiency lay at the heart of the central bank trade, which the participants claim is the first to be completed successfully. MAS and BoC subsequently released a summary report in which they discussed the merits of the joint network bridge.

III. Media

Memo Is a Decentralized Social Network Built on Bitcoin Cash. For a while now, the established social networks have been steadily cracking down on groups of users they find to be problematic, sending many people to look for alternatives where they can ensure their voice is heard. One emerging alternative platform is Memo, which is built on bitcoin cash and thus popular among BCH users. is a decentralized social network powered by the Bitcoin Cash blockchain and which launched a year ago. It gives users the ability to create a profile and post messages, images and videos using hashtags as well as to give tips instead of just likes. The platform added a mobile app for Android devices in January and the developers have promised that an iOS version is coming soon too. All posts are visible to anyone on the BCH blockchain, with each Memo account being associated with a BCH wallet address. Native tipping on the network is also supported by bitcoin cash.

Ripple Inks a Deal with a $40 Billion Money Transfer. Ripple has announced its latest partnership. Ria Money Transfer will use RippleNet to facilitate real-time blockchain-powered global payments. XRP, of which Ripple is the largest holder, is up 1% today. Ria Money Transfer’s yearly money transfer volume is approximately $40 billion. They rank as the No. 2 service provider in the remittance industry. Ria will leverage RippleNet technology to gain access to hundreds of financial institutions in Ripple’s global blockchain payment network. Some of the most recently added RippleNet customers include WorldCom Finance and BFC Bahrain, to name a couple. According to a report published by BlockData, money transfer platforms are better off utilizing blockchain-based solutions as they greatly reduce the transaction time and fees attracted per transaction. Ripple will benefit from the extensive reach Ria enjoys within the global remittance market and will significantly expand its status in fintech. One of the advantages highlighted on Ripple’s website is the access RippleNet customers will gain to Ria’s global fintech ecosystem. The remittance industry is set to be worth $1 trillion by 2022, according to a report released by BlockData. In 2017, which is the latest data recorded, some $150 billion in remittances was sent from the U.S. alone. Globally, the amount is closer to $625 billion in the same year, reflecting an increase of 6% vs. 2016. Ripple has continuously improved its platform to ensure a large percentage of remittance volume passes through its payment solutions such as RippleNet, xCurrent, and xVia.

IV. Business

Fidelity Investments, which began a custody service to store Bitcoin earlier this year, will buy and sell the world’s most popular digital asset for institutional customers within a few weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Boston-based firm, one of the largest asset managers in the world, created Fidelity Digital Assets in October in a bet that Wall Street’s nascent appetite for trading and safeguarding digital currencies will grow. It also puts Fidelity a step ahead of its top competitors that have mostly stayed on the sidelines so far. The firm said in October that it would offer over-the-counter trade execution and order routing for Bitcoin early this year. Fidelity would join brokerages ETrade Financial Corp. and Robinhood in offering cryptocurrency trading to clients, though Fidelity is only targeting institutional customers and not retail investors like Etrade and Robinhood, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing private matters. A study released by Fidelity on May 2 found that 47 percent of institutional investors think digital assets are worth investing in. “We currently have a select set of clients we’re supporting on our platform,” Fidelity spokeswoman Arlene Roberts said in en email. “We will continue to roll out our services over the coming weeks and months based on our clients’ needs, jurisdictions, and other factors. Currently, our service offering is focused on Bitcoin.” According to the survey, which questioned 441 institutional investors from November to February, 72 percent prefer to buy investment products that hold digital assets, while 57 percent choose to buy them directly. The hurdle to make crypto appeal to more mainstream investors is that it continues to be plagued with fraud, theft and regulatory infractions. The latest case involves the New York attorney general accusing Bitfinex, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges, of hiding the loss of about $850 million in client and corporate cash. Vancouver-based Quadriga Fintech Solutions Corp., which is going through bankruptcy in Canada, owes 115,000 clients about $193 million in cryptocurrencies and cash after the death of founder Gerry Cotten last year. Bitcoin has jumped more than 50 percent this year, extending the wild price swings that have attracted many individual investors to the mostly unregulated coin. The original digital currency gained widespread notoriety when it surged 1,400 percent in 2017, before tumbling 74 percent last year.

Bitpay and Refundo Now Provide Tax Return Payouts in BTC. On April 30, the global cryptocurrency payment processing firm Bitpay announced its partnership with the tax-related financial products and services provider Refundo. The collaboration will give U.S. residents the ability to receive all or a portion of their federal and state tax refunds in crypto. U.S. taxpayers now have the ability to get all or a portion of their federal and state tax refunds back in bitcoin core (BTC), according to the latest announcement from the Atlanta-based company Bitpay. The firm recently partnered with Refundo, a leading tax service provider founded in 2011. Refundo provides taxpayers with professional financial services alongside refunds, advances, and refund transfers. The company says the partnership with Bitpay allows for a transparent and seamless experience during tax season. Refundo believes the underbanked could benefit from a refund experience tied to crypto because it could help bridge the gap for individuals with alternative banking needs. “Refundo offers several options to help taxpayers receive their tax refunds safer, faster and more conveniently,” Roger Chinchilla, CEO at Refundo, said during the announcement. The tax service provider added: “Adding bitcoin was a natural fit for our customers who often do not have traditional checking accounts, pay high check cashing fees and regularly send money internationally. Coin-RT enables them to get bitcoin quickly and easily for one flat fee.” The new Coin-RT product offers taxpayers an account and they are given a unique routing and account number to input on their tax return. Refundo users who want a refund in BTC must provide identification for KYC purposes and a valid BTC address. When the federal and state deposit comes in, Bitpay sends the crypto to the taxpayer’s wallet. Rolf Haag, head of business solutions at Bitpay, remarked that the Atlanta company is thrilled to help power Refundo’s new solution.

Coinbase Wallet Adds Support for Dogecoin to Wallet App. American major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has added support for Dogecoin (DOGE) to its crypto wallet service Coinbase Wallet, according to an announcement published on May 1. The announcement states that users can now store DOGE directly in the Coinbase Wallet app. The coin thus joined other digital currencies — bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum classic (ETC), Ripple (XRP), Stellar Lumens (XLM) — already supported by the wallet. The wallet also supports the DOGE Testnet. DOGE was initially invented in 2013 as a joke currency, the logo of which features the likeness of a shiba inu dog from the “doge” meme. It’s inventor Jackson Palmer purportedly invented the token to poke fun at the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies in Silicon Valley at the time. Last September, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Elon Musk asked Palmer to help him combat “annoying” cryptocurrency scammers on Twitter. In reply, Palmer sent Musk a script that he purported could help combat the problem. At press time, DOGE is the 27th largest cryptocurrency on CoinMarketCap by market capitalization. The coin is currently trading at $0.002, having gained 3.2% over the past 24 hours. DOGE’s market capitalization is around $309 million, while its daily trading volume is around $33.8 million. In March, Coinbase introduced a service to link users’ accounts on its main platform to Coinbase Wallet app. The wallet can now be connected to accounts on its main platform for quick transfers from the main account to the wallet.

CoinMarketCap Looks to Repair Tainted Image with More Trustworthy Data. Started as a side project in May 2013 by a lone developer in a Queens, New York apartment, CoinMarketCap celebrated its six-year anniversary last week. The website, which keeps track of the market capitalization of bitcoin and more than 2,100 altcoins, commemorated the milestone with a few announcements. The changes come on the heels of the crypto data market site coming under fire for reportedly relying on faulty data when calculating exchange trading volume. CMC will be working to create a more rigorous and robust philosophy for what data it does and doesn’t include in its algorithms. Through a CoinMarketCap Data Accountability & Transparency Alliance, or DATA, it will “promote greater transparency, accountability, and disclosure from projects in the crypto space,” according to the announcement. The real-time blockchain data provider is also launching a new blockchain explorer. The company is hoping to make it easier and more intuitive for newbies to explore and interact with the blockchain. With its new blockchain explorer, CoinMarketCap promises a friendlier, more down to earth interface for users to learn about the blockchain.

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