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Ledger secures $75m for crypto security

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The demand for secure crypto storage is almost as high as the demand for the assets themselves. Only a few companies at the moment are offering solid secure offline storage devices for cryptocurrencies and they are selling out like hot cakes. Ledger is one such company and it has just secured its second round of investments which will go into research and development and up-scaling operations.

In a press release on the company blog yesterday Paris based Ledger announced that Series B of funding has now been completed with 75 million USD secured in investments. The first round of investments was held in March 2017 where $7 million was raised. Leading the way was London based capital markets firm Draper Esprit whose CEO Simon Cook said;

“Blockchain, as evidenced by crypto assets, is a truly revolutionary technology. Security will be paramount to its success and we believe that Ledger has built the world’s best security platform to manage private keys for all blockchain and crypto asset applications. This is a global company for a global industry and we have built an international syndicate through the Draper Network to support the team in their huge ambition.”

A number of other venture capitalist partners added to the stash which included Draper Associates, Draper Dragon and Boost VC, as well as FirstMark Capital, Cathay Innovation, and Korelya Capital.

Eric Larchevêque, Ledger CEO, was pleased with the outcome;

“We initially designed our Ledger hardware wallet as an enabler for the blockchain revolution. Three years later and with this Series B, we are reaching a significant milestone in our path to build a technological giant in the promising space of cryptocurrencies. These funds will be used to keep investing significantly in R&D while scaling our operations and deploying our teams globally. I am delighted to bring on board Draper Esprit and a truly global group of investors who will support the company as it grows rapidly.”

Further services are in the pipeline including the Ledger Vault which aims to enable banks, funds and offices to secure and manage their crypto assets. The company has sold over a million hardware wallets around the world and demand is at an all-time high. They have currently sold out and have a pre-order notice on the website for the next batch on March 26.

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Bitcoin SV Wallets Collaborate to Bring Peer-to-peer Transactions Back to Bitcoin

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Bitcoin Scam

HandCash and Money Button – two leading wallets in the Bitcoin SV ecosystem – are collaborating to bring back true “peer-to-peer” transactions for Bitcoin, the way Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto intended. The original Bitcoin white paper announced Bitcoin as a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system”, but BTC protocol developers deviated from the “peer-to-peer” design nearly a decade ago.  HandCash and Money Button will now send signed BSV transactions to each other directly, without third parties involved, restoring the true Satoshi Vision for Bitcoin.

The original Bitcoin software provided an option for users to “send to IP”. This method would allow a sender (Alice) to deliver a transaction directly to the recipient. (Bob), with no third parties involved. But the implementation for “send to IP” was not finished, so early BTC protocol developers removed the IP-to-IP functionality, removing the peer-to-peer nature of Bitcoin’s protocol.

Bitcoin SV’s mission has been to restore Satoshi’s original Bitcoin protocol and allow it to massively scale. HandCash and Money Button seek to lead the Bitcoin SV ecosystem back to the peer-to-peer design that Satoshi intended. The Paymail protocol (announced for Bitcoin SV in May 2019) brings back true peer-to-peer transactions. Paymail allows users to send Bitcoin transactions to an email address, providing for secure, end-to-end, encrypted communications and authentication via HTTPS.

Using the Paymail protocol, both the HandCash and Money Button wallets will now send all signed Bitcoin SV transactions to each other directly, without third parties acting as an intermediary. The receiving end will check if the transaction is valid instantly and broadcast it to miners directly, allowing both services to scale far beyond the limits imposed by status-quo. A peer-to-peer transaction system, as Satoshi intended, is much more scalable than how Bitcoin has worked for the past decade.

A call to the Bitcoin SV ecosystem: HandCash and Money Button have agreed to launch this change on their wallets in order to quickly demonstrate the original peer-to-peer design of Bitcoin. Both companies invite the rest of the Bitcoin SV ecosystem to follow suit and help the industry smoothly transition back to peer-to-peer transactions for the benefit of all.

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Curv’s Keyless Cryptography Brings a New Level of Security to Bitcoin Satoshi Vision

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Today, Bitcoin Association announced Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) will be fully supported by Curv’s institutional digital asset security platform. Helping secure digital assets thanks to its keyless cryptography, Curv’s wallet service is swiftly being adopted by exchanges, OTC desks, lenders, brokers, and traditional asset managers worldwide.

Eliminating the single point of failure introduced by private keys, Curv delivers a mathematically secure way to approve and sign transactions on the blockchain. In addition, Curv has obtained digital asset insurance protection of up to $50 million for its customers from Munich RE and is the first and only Multi-Party Computation (MPC) digital asset wallet solution to achieve SOC2 Type II status.

Bitcoin Association is the global industry organization that supports Bitcoin SV. In its ongoing work to grow the Bitcoin SV ecosystem’s infrastructure, Bitcoin Association sought an additional security provider for BSV that was blockchain agnostic and not limited by certain rule sets, such as the need to support the Pay-to-Script Hash (P2SH) transaction type which has now been sunsetted on Bitcoin SV.

Jimmy Nguyen, Founding President of Bitcoin Association said, “We have secured another partner for the Bitcoin SV ecosystem that ensures BSV institutional users gain multi-signature wallet functionality and can use large-scale applications on top of the Bitcoin SV blockchain, without needing to compromise on security and flexibility. Curv’s protocol-agnostic approach gives institutional users the freedom to expand BSV utility and aligns with the restorations the Bitcoin SV Node team sought to achieve with the recent “Genesis” hard fork that successfully activated on February 4, 2020. We hope that enterprise adoption of BSV will accelerate and Curv’s infrastructure will play a critical role in supporting this scalability and more future business use of BSV.”

Curv’s service is able to support Bitcoin SV for multi-signature transactions even after P2SH is sunsetted given Curv offers users the ability to securely manage and trade all types of digital assets on both ECSDA and EDDSA blockchains. This flexibility is central to Curv’s platform given its patent-pending Multi-party computation (MPC) protocols enable transactions to be securely approved and verified off chain and eliminate the need for private keys.

Curv’s COO Josh Schwartz said, “We’re excited to add BSV to our growing portfolio. Our clients trust us to enable their business and help secure their digital assets. We view it as our obligation to ensure customers have the freedom to hold, trade, and interact with any and all digital assets. They should feel empowered to let the market dictate the assets they choose to support and not be limited by their wallet provider’s capabilities.”

About Curv

Curv is setting a new institutional standard for digital asset security, using revolutionary cryptography to deliver the industry’s first cloud-based Institutional Digital Asset Wallet Service. Curv’s unique, mathematically-secure, keyless platform gives organizations complete protection, instant access, and total autonomy over digital assets.

Curv is headquartered in New York with R&D offices in Tel-Aviv, Israel. For more information, please email [email protected]

About Bitcoin Association

Bitcoin Association is the global industry organization that backs Bitcoin SV (BSV). It brings together merchants, exchanges, application developers, service providers, enterprises, miners and others in the Bitcoin SV ecosystem to advance the growth of Bitcoin commerce. Bitcoin Association supports Bitcoin SV (BSV) as the original Bitcoin, with a stable protocol and scaling roadmap to become the world’s new money and global enterprise blockchain. For more information, email [email protected]

To hear from Bitcoin SV industry leaders, come to the CoinGeek London conference on February 20-21, 2020 at the historic Old Billingsgate venue in London. Visit BitcoinSV.com to learn more about BSV.

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Layer1 Opens its First Bitcoin Mining Factory; Brings Multiple Megawatt Containers Online in Texas

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Digital Money

Layer1 Technologies, the first U.S. based vertically-integrated and renewable energy Bitcoin mining and factory development company, announced today that it has started mining at its Bitcoin factory in West Texas. With multiple 2.5-megawatt liquid-cooled containers now online, Layer1 is on track to deliver on its mission to pioneer Bitcoin mining’s use of renewable energy and be the first to enhance Bitcoin’s decentralization.

With the goal of repatriating U.S. Bitcoin mining, Layer1 aims to scale up to 100 megawatts in the coming months and exceed 2% of the total Bitcoin hashrate, with a roadmap to reach 30% by the end of 2021. This will enable the U.S. to offset China’s dominance in Bitcoin mining and improve the country’s national security efforts for an asset class with the potential to be a reserve currency.

Layer1’s vertically integrated approach is a fundamental improvement over the industry’s status quo and positions the company to own the whole Bitcoin infrastructure stack. Layer1 designs, produces, and operates its entire mining infrastructure, from proprietary ASIC chips and liquid-cooled mining containers to wholly-owned power development and procurement.

“We are already delivering on our vision of making Layer1 the world leader in vertically integrated, sustainable Bitcoin mining,” said Alexander Liegl, co-founder and CEO, Layer1. “Our factory in West Texas is a game changer in Bitcoin mining. The facility uses custom ASIC chips and patent-pending liquid cooling technology, that enables us to unlock warmer climates – where others cannot – and benefit from the world’s largest supply of low-cost, sustainable local energy.”

Layer1 challenges the notion that bitcoin mining in the U.S. cannot compete with regions such as China, where approximately 60% or more of Bitcoin mining operations are located. Currently, less than 5% of the hashrate and 0% of the hardware for Bitcoin mining come from the U.S.

“We have a long-term vision for Bitcoin mining, building a multi-generational business that is already profitable in the short-run and growth-focused in the long-run to be the biggest player in the space,” said Liegl. “From hardware to energy, we’ve redesigned Bitcoin mining from first principles to control every profit and cost lever across our technology stack. Far too many mining operations still work from a playbook stuck in 2017; the halving will be a death knell for many of them.”

The Layer1 team brings together Bitcoin mining’s most experienced team, having built-out over 10% of the network as founders of some of the biggest players in the world. Armed with a full-stack approach and never-before-seen container power capacity that’s rapidly scalable, climate resistant, and plug-and-play deployable, the Layer1 team is on a mission to forever change the way large-scale mining works.

About Layer1

Layer1 is the only U.S. based renewable energy, vertically-integrated Bitcoin mining, technology and factory development company. Layer1’s team consists of highly experienced Bitcoin miners, energy entrepreneurs, and hardware technology experts who are on a mission to reinvent the business of mining and control every aspect of performance and cost, in order to strengthen Bitcoin’s decentralization and improve the usage of renewable energy.

Layer1 is backed by VCs including Digital Currency Group, Shasta Ventures, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who participated in a $50 million round adding to a previous $2.1 million seed round. Layer1 has its headquarters in San Francisco, with additional offices and an engineering presence in China, Nevada, Switzerland, Russia, and Texas. To learn more about the company, please visit www.layer1.com.

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Most Profitable Option of ВTC Gambling

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If you decide to make money on sports betting or on playing bitcoin poker, the website of the reliable company will easily provide you with the suitable opportunities.

The process of earning crypto currency is now greatly simplified thanks to the special feature of the presented bookmaker office, ВTC gambling 1xBit.com. Such type of entertainment allows the users to spend some quality time and earn digital assets at the same time and same place!

The reliable office offers its customers to take advantage of all the benefits available to them. If you decide to start your way in gambling here, you will certainly appreciate the following features:

 

  • Bonus offers. All new customers of the bookmaker can get a nice bonus during registration, which can be used right away.
  • Simplicity. Registration on the site takes only a couple of minutes, and the navigation here is very clear even for those who came here for the first time.
  • Wide opportunities. The company’s customers are able to not only try their hand at BTC gambling on 1xBit.com, but also bet on sports to increase their digital assets.

In any case, the cooperation with the reliable bookmaker office will bring users positive emotions, opportunity to put their knowledge into practice and use cryptocurrency without any additional costs.

Try your hand at bitcoin poker

Gambling can be a source of stable income for you even in the long run. We should also mention bitcoin poker https://www.1xbit.com, presented on the website of the trusted bookmaker. This version of the game will help you to not only convert your knowledge into profit, but also get cryptocurrency at no additional cost.

If we talk about sports betting, then the proven platform offers a wide selection of sports. According to user reviews, the most popular of them are:

  1. Football
  2. Basketball
  3. Tennis
  4. Hockey
  5. Volleyball
  6. Boxing
  7. Cybersports

In football, the sports season has already begun in most European national championships. The English Premier League is the most popular and strongest of them. Currently, the leader of the standings in Liverpool, which has not a single defeat. The previous year, the Reds became vice champions, losing the coveted title to Manchester City. The team of Josep Guardiola, who became the champion of the 2018/2019 season, now ranks second, but everything can change over the long tournament distance.

After all, the most important thing is that the customers are able to choose the most profitable options for them based on their own preferences.

 

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BitMEX: Bitcoin’s Initial Block Download

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Bitcoin

Abstract: We test the performance of Bitcoin Core by successfully conducting 35 initial block downloads (IBDs) and recording the amount of time the node takes to synchronize with the network. We used software releases in the period spanning from 2012 to 2019. The results show a considerable and consistent improvement in the performance of the software, but also a high degree of variance. Even with the latest computer hardware, older versions of Bitcoin struggled to get past the pickup in transaction volume which occured in the 2015 to 2016 period. Therefore we conclude that without the software enhancements, an initial synchronization today could be almost impossible.

Figure 1 – Bitcoin Initial Block Download Time (Days) – Average Of 3 Attempts

(Source: BitMEX Research)
(Notes: Synchronization up to block 602,707. Further details in the notes below)

Overview

To test the performance of Bitcoin Core during the initial synchronization, we successfully conducted 35 initial block downloads (IBDs) and recorded the amount of time each attempt took. The results are shown in Figure 1 above and illustrate that there was a significant improvement in speed when Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 was released in February 2016, due to the upgrade from OpenSSL to libsecp256k1 for signature verification. Libsecp256k1 was built specifically for Bitcoin. Since then, the improvements in speed were much slower and due to the high variance in IBD times, the improvements are only clearly visible after multiple attempts. However, even after Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 was released in February 2016, a small gradual improvement in performance is still visible after each software release from Bitcoin Core 0.13.0 to Bitcoin Core 0.19.0.1.

Of course, IBD time is only one metric, and there are plenty of other angles and considerations that one can use to evaluate the performance and capabilities of Bitcoin Core. While the IBD time may not be the perfect or complete measure of overall software performance, it is highly resource-intensive and therefore potentially a good metric to benchmark.

This report follows on from two previous experiments:

  • In November 2018 Jameson Lopp conducted a similar exercise, however that analysis focused on independent implementations, while this analysis focuses on older versions of Bitcoin Core (or just “Bitcoin”, as some of the older software pre-dates the name “Bitcoin Core”).
  • Sjors Provoost also conducted this experiment in July 2017, although Sjors provided data for fewer synchronization attempts.

Full Results and Raw Data

Figure 2 – Bitcoin Initial Block Download Time (Days)

(Source: BitMEX Research)
(Notes: Synchronization up to block 602,707, further details in the notes below)

System Specification & Other Notes

MacBook Pro (64 bit)
Linux VPS (64 bit)
OS
macOS Mojave (10.14)
Ubuntu 18.04.3
Processor
6 Core Intel i9 2.9GHz
8 Core Intel Xeon
Memory
32GB
32GB
Storage
1 TB Flash Storage
640GB Flash Storage
Internet Downstream Bandwidth
62Mb/s
2,000Mb/s
Internet Upstream Bandwidth
20Mb/s
400Mb/s
IBD ended at height
602,707
602,707
Bitcoin.conf settings
assumevalid=0
dbcache=24000
maxmempool=500

Full Table of Results

Client Client release date
Sync Time (Hours)
Machine
Bitcoin Core 0.19.0.1
24/11/2019
11.4
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.18.1
20/07/2019
10.4
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.17.0
03/10/2018
17.7
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.16.0
28/02/2018
18.5
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.15.0
14/07/2017
21.1
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.14.0
08/03/2017
16.4
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.13.0
17/08/2016
24.7
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.12.0
17/02/2016
15.8
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.11.2
10/11/2015
53.3
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.10.0
12/02/2015
81.2
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.9.0
18/03/2014
85.1
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.8.6
09/12/2013
Abandoned
MacBook Pro
Bitcoin Core 0.19.0.1
24/11/2019
13.6
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.18.1

20/07/2019
15.9
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.17.0

03/10/2018
13.3
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.16.0

28/02/2018
18.8
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.15.0

14/07/2017
17.9
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.14.0

08/03/2017
25.1
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.13.0

17/08/2016
15.8
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.12.0

17/02/2016
14.8
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.11.2

10/11/2015
46.0
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.10.0

12/02/2015
77.2
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.9.0

18/03/2014
78.9
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.8.6

09/12/2013
98.5
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.19.0.1

24/11/2019
14.0
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.18.1

20/07/2019
13.7
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.17.0

03/10/2018
16.0
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.16.0

28/02/2018
18.2
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.15.0

14/07/2017
17.9
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.14.0

08/03/2017
17.0
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.13.0

17/08/2016
21.9
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.12.0

17/02/2016
17.1
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.11.2

10/11/2015
44.1
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.10.0

12/02/2015
82.2
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.9.0

18/03/2014
82.1
Linux

Bitcoin Core 0.8.6

09/12/2013
72.6
Linux

(Source: BitMEX Research)

Analysis of the Results

As Figure 2 above illustrates, even when conducting the IBD with the same software and with a machine with the same specification, there is considerable variance in the reported times.

Figure 3 – IBD time vs Client Release Date (Days) – Average Time of 3 Attempts

(Source: BitMEX Research)
(Note: For the Bitcoin 0.8.6 client, the results above are an average of only 2 attempts)

Figure 3 above indicates that the performance of the software improved incrementally with each software release, with the exception of the strong performance of Bitcoin Core 0.12.0. However, despite the apparent clear trend in the above chart, the large variance and in IBD times on each attempt could indicate there is considerable uncertainty. One may need more sample data before drawing strong conclusions about improvements in performance since 2016. It is possible the variation is primarily caused by issues in the Bitcoin P2P network or the internet connection and therefore a good area of further study may be to compare the re-scan speed, the time taken to fully verify the blockchain once it has already been downloaded.

Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 performs well in the above analysis. This may be because Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 has libsecp256k enabled, but does not validate signatures for transaction inputs where the witness is segregated (Segregated Witness). Therefore Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 does not validate all the signatures in the blockchain post August 2017, giving the client somewhat of an “unfair advantage”. However this advantage may also apply to Bitcoin Core 0.13.0, despite this node not appearing to be an outlier. Of course all the versions prior to Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 have that same “unfair” advantage, but this is dwarfed by the disadvantages of using OpenSSL.

Syncing The Client Up To Its Release Date

The below chart (Figure 4) illustrates the time it takes to synchronize a client, up until the block height on the date the software was released.

Figure 4 – IBD Time Up To Client Release Date (Days)

(Source: BitMEX Research)
(Note: Data for the nodes running on Linux only. Bitcoin Core 0.19.0.1 only synced up to height 602,707)

The chart shows that the trend was reasonably flat from Bitcoin Core 0.8.6 to Bitcoin Core 0.14.0, at that point the scalability improvements could not match the impact of time progressing and the blockchain increasing in height, and the chart shows an upward trend. Unfortunately the rate of software improvement has been reduced in recent years, perhaps as the low-hanging fruit improvements have already been made. Higher transaction volume may have also contributed to this. Future scalability improvements may be a lot more challenging, and even if the 4 million unit blockweight limit is maintained, IBD times may continue to increase going forwards, despite further software upgrades and moderate increases in hardware performance.

The Failed IBD Attempts

We did successfully compile and run versions of Bitcoin prior to 0.8.6, however, the synchronization became slow when the node reached the 2015 to 2016 period. The pre-0.8.6 nodes, such as 0.7.0, did successfully get past the apparent hardfork in 2013, by manually changing the lock limit, however 2015 proved too challenging due to the increased transaction volume, and the node stopped processing blocks. We tried restarting the node, which did help push it forwards, but then it only got stuck again. We then even tried running Bitcoin Core 0.7.0 on our brand new local machine, with 64 GB of RAM and 8 Intel i9 processors, however the node was still unable to get past 2016. With many of the scaling parameters involved being non-linear, one cannot simply throw more hardware at the problem.

On occasions when the nodes got stuck on a block and we re-started, we abandoned the synchronization after 4 restart attempts. For Bitcoin Core 0.8.6 on the MacBook Pro, the synchronization was abandoned when the leading block was in 2016. Although this is slightly disappointing, no restarts were required for the remaining 35 successful synchronizations.

Conclusion

Other than the fact that the BitMEX IT department should be more cautious when issuing BitMEX Research with MacBook Pros, the data illustrates the significant scalability enhancements which have been delivered over the last seven years. The transition to libsecp256k being the most significant improvement. The large reductions in IBD times and the inability of old nodes to fully synchronize indicates that if it were not for these scalability enhancements, by now Bitcoin would be essentially dead, even if users had the highest specification hardware available. The data also shows that technological innovation is unlikely to keep up with the growing blockchain going forward and that IBD times will increase.

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Korean Government Seeking to Levy Taxes on Cryptocurrency

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The government is seeking to impose taxes on capital gains from transaction of virtual currencies, including bitcoin, according government sources, Sunday. The Ministry of Economy and Finance confirmed it is pushing for the measure to be reflected in tax regulations next year.

“Related discussions have been taking place,” a ministry official said. “The revised bill will be drawn up by the first half of next year.”

A move to pass a related bill has also been taking place at the National Assembly.

A bill on enhancing the transparency of the trading of virtual assets awaits passage at sub-committee level. If the bill passes the Assembly’s plenary session, it will go into effect one year after the regulation is promulgated.

The government’s is seeking to include capital gains tax on virtual currency regardless of the bill’s passage.

But for this to be reflected in regulations, there needs to be a more precise definition of virtual assets.

The government also needs to decide if it will consider gains from the trading of virtual assets as the type of gains coming from stock trading or real estate transactions.

If this is the case, the government needs to obtain trading records from virtual currency exchanges, to be able to levy taxes accordingly.

The bill on trading of virtual assets requires virtual currency exchange operators to identify traders and retain separate records for each trader.

However, unlike share prices the price of virtual currencies varies according to exchange, so it is more complicated to determine market price at the trading point.

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New York Gives SoFi Green Light on BitLicense

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New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has approved SoFi’s BitLicense application, allowing SoFi Invest customers in New York to trade cryptocurrencies on its platform through SoFi Digital Assets, LLC.

In response to requests from its members, SoFi launched the ability to trade cryptocurrencies in September of this year within the overall SoFi Invest platform. After a rigorous application process, SoFi can now provide its members in the state of New York a trusted, secure platform to trade crypto.

“Putting our members’ interests first is our top priority at SoFi,” said Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi. “That includes both offering individuals the products they want, like cryptocurrency within SoFi Invest, as well as protecting them, through a solid regulatory framework like that created by the New York State Department of Financial Services. We’re thrilled to now be able to offer the trading of cryptocurrency, in addition to active and automated investing, as part of SoFi Invest in New York State, in addition to the full suite of SoFi products that help our members borrow, save, spend, invest, and protect their money.”

The state of New York uses a thorough, measured approach to review applicants for the BitLicense. The NYDFS ensures companies adhere to high standards of consumer protection, security, and fraud-prevention. “This approval is a testament to our ongoing commitment to earn the trust of regulators and stakeholders as we try to offer investors more choice for products and services across the country,” Noto said.

SoFi Invest, released to the public earlier this year, offers both automated (robo-advising) and active investing (trading) with no fees on stock trading or account minimums. The platform is the first of its kind to offer automated and active investing with stocks, ETFs and crypto through a single app.

Additional information about SoFi Invest can be found at https://www.sofi.com/invest/buy-cryptocurrency/.

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CME Group to Launch Bitcoin Options in Q1 2020

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CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it will launch options on its Bitcoin futures contracts in Q1 2020, pending regulatory review.

“Based on increasing client demand and robust growth in our Bitcoin futures markets, we believe the launch of options will provide our clients with additional flexibility to trade and hedge their bitcoin price risk,” said Tim McCourt, CME Group Global Head of Equity Index and Alternative Investment Products. “These new products are designed to help institutions and professional traders to manage spot market bitcoin exposure, as well as hedge Bitcoin futures positions in a regulated exchange environment.”

Since their launch in December 2017, market users have rapidly adopted CME Bitcoin futures for their hedging and trading needs. There have been 20 successful futures expiration settlements and more than 3,300 individual accounts have traded the product since inception. Year to date, nearly 7,000 CME Bitcoin futures contracts (equivalent to about 35,000 bitcoin) have traded on average each day. At the same time, institutional interest continues to build with the number of large open interest holders reaching a record 56 in July.

CME Group is the only derivatives marketplace where customers can hedge or trade benchmark options on futures across every investable asset class, with average daily volume of 4.3 million in 2019 to date. By launching Bitcoin options, the company is providing clients with additional tools for precision hedging and trading.

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FIN-FSA registers LocalBitcoins as a Virtual Currency Provider

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The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority, FIN-FSA, has registered LocalBitcoins as an official virtual currency provider. Starting from the beginning of November 2019, only registered virtual currency providers that fulfil the legal requirements are allowed to operate in Finland.

As part of the registration process, the FIN-FSA has determined that LocalBitcoins has suitable procedures in place to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, that customer assets are adequately held and safeguarded, and that the company’s management and key personnel fulfil the fitness and propriety criteria.

Registering to be an official virtual currency provider is part of a longer evolution in which LocalBitcoins has invested in the transparency, reliability and accountability of its Bitcoin exchange service globally. “Finland is a well-functioning society, which holds trust and confidence at high levels. At the same time, the controls in the financial sector are of particularly high quality and the position of the clients is well protected. These themes are also at the heart of LocalBitcoins’ operations” says Sebastian Sonntag, CEO.

In the near future, LocalBitcoins intends to continue developing its operations, with a focus on customer service and on topics covered by the FIN-FSA, such as the prevention of money laundering. “Operating as an official virtual currency provider strengthens our position and enables us to continue to operate responsibly and reliably. At the same time, it opens up new business opportunities for us. Our goal is to create a truly global marketplace where everyone, regardless of their starting point, can participate in the virtual economy,” comments Sonntag.

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Bitcoin is Not Real

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Bitcoin is not real, and any purchase amounts to speculation, says ECB’s ex-chief as he pours cold water on cryptocurrency. The European Central Bank’s former president Jean-Claude Trichet said he is doubtful that cryptocurrencies can ever become the future of money, becoming the latest monetary authority to pour cold water on the simmering technology that seeks to disrupt and disintermediate global central banks from their control of currencies.

“I am strongly against bitcoin, and I think we are a little complacent,” Trichet said during a panel discussion at Caixin’s 10th annual conference on Sunday in Beijing. “The [crypto]currency itself is not real, with the characteristics that a currency must have.”

Buying a cryptocurrency is “in many respects pure speculation,” said Trichet, who led the ECB from 2003 to 2011, after a decade as governor of the Bank of France. “Even if [the cryptocurrency] is supposed to be based on underlying assets, I am observing a lot of speculation. It is not healthy.”

Trichet’s comment echoes the concern shared by global central banks about the threat posed by cryptocurrencies, for their decentralisation of traditional currencies, disruption of the global financial system and hindrance to monetary authorities in controlling the value of money. The ECB’s board member Benoit Soeure went as far in September as warning that cryptocurrencies could “challenge the supremacy of the US dollar,” in a report on CNBC.

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