Maitland/AMO ICO Monitor – 7 February 2019
The Big Read
Binance, the Maltese-based cryptocurrency exchange, has announced a strategy to overcome anticipated difficulties in 2019, which will involve diversifying its brand beyond its primary trading platform and introducing new features. CoinDesk reports that Binance’s acquisition of Trust Wallet last summer could allow the company to start the standardisation of crypto wallet addresses across currencies and platforms, thus allowing for the introduction of new features. Despite Binance’s revenue slowing up during the market downturn, chief growth officer Ted Lin has emphasised that the exchange remains profitable and does not plan another fundraise.
The London-based electronic trading firm and crypto liquidity provider B2C2 has announced that it has received regulatory approval from the FCA to arrange and deal in crypto contracts for difference (CFDs). The new derivatives products will offer exposure to bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, Litecoin and XRP while protecting clients from the risks associated with crypto custody. Coindesk reports that the FCA’s authorization is notable given its warnings over CFDs in the past, and is part of a concerted effort to tighten up regulation within the crypto space.
Celsius, a leading cryptocurrency lending and borrowing platform announced that it completed over $630m in loans since July 2018. The news represents a notable success story in an industry that has struggled during 2018, according to Forbes. Although Celsius has leveraged itself against normal banks, 80% of the income generated from loans is given back to depositors.
New Kid on the Block – The Technologies, Funds and ICOs you should know about
BitTorrent Token is set to close on nearly six times the price of its ICO that started last week, with 59.8bn BTT tokens sold through its token platform sale on the 28th of January. CoinDesk reports that its price rose by nearly 40% on Sunday alone, with the sale selling out in a number of minutes. BitTorrent was acquired by the much larger Tron last year, which stemmed a number of criticisms and staff exits.
The US cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has announced its purchase of London-based Crypto Facilities, a digital asset exchange specialising in Bitcoin futures. The acquisition, which reached its financial close at the end of last year, is Kraken’s largest to date running up to “nine figures”. The Financial Times notes that the tie up of two of the world’s leading exchanges highlights the industry’s determination to build market infrastructure and attract institutional investors.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are set to follow Venezuela and launch a government-funded cryptocurrency, which is already being tested out. Engadget writes that the decision will hopefully allow for cross-border transactions between the two nations, with both sets of governments also interested in seeing how a greater use of cryptocurrency could impact monetary policies. The project is part of a seven-point cooperation plan to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, emphasising the growing influence of the cryptocurrency industry in today’s world.
Scams, Sanctions and Suspicious Activity
Since the death of the founder of Canada’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, in early December, 115,00 clients of the exchange are still unable to access the $190m in holdings, according to The Washington Post. The founder Gerald Cotten was only 30 years-old when he died of Crohn’s disease, and unfortunately did not leave records of the passwords necessary to administrate the exchange. The news stoked fresh discussions over the lack of regulations within cryptocurrency markets, and even sparked conspiracy theories suggesting that Cotten faked his own death as part of an exit scam.
A new form of malware will attempt to steal browser cookies and other information on Apple Mac computers as a way of hacking cryptocurrencies. CoinDesk reports that the malware, dubbed “CookieMiner”, is able to target a variety of exchanges including Binance, Coinbase, and Poloniex, with it also trying to steal credit card information from major issuers, including Visa and Mastercard. What’s more, the malware also changes a victim’s system configuration to maliciously load crypto mining software, providing popular as nearly 5% of all mined hackings used CookieMiner last month.
Forbes reports that hackers stole up to $1.7bn worth of cryptocurrency last year, despite the declining price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Crypto-security firm CipherTrace, expects that scams are likely to increase in 2019, despite the increasing efforts to clamp down on the industry. The 2018 figure of $1.7bn is three times greater than in the previous year, showing how widespread the practice of scamming has become.
Bulls & Bears of the week
“The world ultimately will have a single currency, the Internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin.” – Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter
“The stability that we are seeing right now in the cryptocurrency market is setting the stage for more participation by institutional investors in the future.” – Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, Global Market Strategist at JPMorgan
“The sooner that happens, the better.” Matt Hougan, Global Head of Research at Bitwise Asset Management and president at ETF.com, on his prediction that 95% of cryptocurrencies will die.
“Bitcoin completely met my expectations: it crashed and so did the others.” Neil Liversidge, managing director of West Riding Personal Finance Solutions.