Crypto Adoption: a New Collection of 20 Examples
With every passing day, there are more options to pay with crypto - or to use blockchain in the real world, even outside of cryptocurrency payments. Adoption is slowly but surely creeping in, and while governments and giant financial institutions are working on regulations, many citizens are already opting for crypto because they recognize its perks for their businesses.
Although a lot of adoption comes from Japan - already well-known for their openness towards new technologies - there is also an enviable number from cities such as Kiev, Kuala Lumpur or Negombo.
At consumer electronics retailer Bic Camera in Tokyo, sometimes you have to queue to pay with Bitcoin… and sometimes there is an elderly gentleman in front of you. Additionally, according to local reports, you get a 15% discount, payments need zero confirmation, and the network fees are negligible.
Surprise! Vitalik Buterin Tried to be an Intern at Ripple
Imagine an alternate universe in which Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin never started working on Ethereum because he was way too busy with his internship at gross settlement system Ripple.
At the very least, the rankings of coins by market capitalization would be vastly different, but how many other events would have been affected by this change? Luckily, the US Department of Labor had the cryptoverse’s back when they decided to refuse Buterin’s visa application - and the course of history was set on the right track.
Following a story about Chinese entrepreneur Eric Yuan who, after being denied his US visa application eight times, still made it to the US to become the major shareholder of video conference services firm Zoom Video Communications (and a billionaire), Buterin came forward with his own story.
Now Buterin sits in Canada, having had to satisfy his need to work on blockchain projects by publishing the Ethereum whitepaper in late 2013, presumably due to the sorrow that followed having such an excellent opportunity at an existing company ripped away under his nose.
Meanwhile, in February, Buterin was making a tongue-in-cheek fun of Ripple’s partnership announcements that they have been making on Twitter.
However, in 2013, Buterin wrote an article where he praised Ripple: "Altogether, what Ripple has accomplished is impressive. With Ripple, we have a way of sending, receiving, and holding any currency – not just one specific cryptocurrency – in a decentralized way.”
eToro Targets Professional Traders With New Exchange
Today, social trading platform eToro launched its crypto exchange, eToroX, aimed at more professional crypto traders that are looking to trade tokenized assets.
"eToroX targets more advanced crypto traders by providing them with a regulated and secure environment to trade crypto assets on the blockchain," a spokersperson of the company told Cryptonews.com, adding that some people might still use both the traditional trading platform of eToro and eToroX’s exchange.
"Some users will choose to use the exchange because it offers trading options that don’t exist on the eToro platform. Today, the eToro platform offers a variety of instruments that don’t yet exist on the exchange so some users may continue to use the platform," according to the spokesperson.
At launch the exchange will have a range of instruments including:
8 fiat-stablecoins (eToro New Zealand Dollar (NZDX), eToro Japanese Yen (JPYX), eToro Swiss Franc (CHFX), eToro United States Dollar (USDEX), eToro Euro (EURX), eToro Pound Sterling (GBPX), eToro Australian Dollar (AUDX), eToro Canadian Dollar (CADX)
6 cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Dash, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin)
37 pairs including BTC-USD, XRP-GBP etc.
“In the coming weeks and months we will add more cryptoassets, stablecoins and tokens to the exchange and will work with other exchanges to encourage them to list our growing range of stablecoins,” Doron Rosenblum, Managing Director of eToroX, was quoted as saying in a press release.
Previously, eToro estimated to launch its exchange by the end of 2018, however, eToroX was granted a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) license from the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission only in December, according to the spokesperson.
Trading fees at eToroX:
Jimmy Song and Willy Woo Joined New Project, What is it About?
This week, two influential members of the cryptoverse, Jimmy Song and Willy Woo, have announced their participation on the advisory board of an emerging US-based cryptocurrency exchange Level (LVL.co). What is this project all about?
The exchange introduces a new approach to crypto trading, where users are charged a flat, USD 5/month fee for the unlimited number of trades instead of the traditional maker and taker fees per trade. Essentially, it is a subscription model service like Netflix, a major streaming service, but for crypto trading.
Jimmy Song is a well-known Bitcoin educator, developer, and entrepreneur. He serves as the project’s technology advisor. Willy Woo, a renowned entrepreneur and independent crypto-asset analyst, is the product advisor for the exchange.
Besides, the exchange has a long list of community advisors, including many popular Crypto Twitter personalities like The Crypto Dog, Ambroid, Panama Crypto, Josh Rager, Marsupilami, NebraskanGooner, Joe Zabbs, and others. The venture is led by Chris Slaughter, its founder and CEO.
Coinbase Enters New Business With Visa Debit Card
US-headquartered major crypto company Coinbase, best known for its exchange and wallet services, has entered a new business area by offering Coinbase Card, a Visa debit card.
At this stage, it's available for the UK clients, only, while other unspecified European customers might be supported in the coming months, the company said in a blog post.
Zeeshan Feroz, the head of Coinbase in the UK, told the Financial Times that there was currently “no timeline” on the new card’s launch in the US.
"We are targeting UK consumers because, generally speaking, data shows they are much more open to accepting new types of debit cards," according to Feroz.
"Coinbase Card is powered by customers’ Coinbase account crypto balances, giving them the ability to pay in-store and online using bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and more," the company said, adding that during a transaction they "instantly" convert crypto to fiat currency, such as GBP, which is used to complete the purchase. The card can be used for cash withdrawals from ATMs, also.
The card is managed via Coinbase Card app that among other things offers instant receipts, transaction summaries, spending categories, and more. Also, the company claims, that their clients will be able to dispute a charge, as "Card comes with the same consumer protections as any standard debit card."
There is the GBP 4.95 (USD 6.48) card issuance fee that has been waived for the first 1,000 customers. The card users can withdraw up to GBP 200 per month for free, while any amount over that sum is charged 1%-2%, depending on whether it's a domestic or international cash withdrawal. Domestic purchase transactions are for free, while the rest is charged 0.20%-3%.
In the future, Coinbase Card is likely to compete with other crypto payment card issuers such as Crypto.com and TenX, while there are also many other projects in development, such as TokenCard. However, at this stage, these cards are not available globally yet.
Coinbase has partnered with Apto Payments, previously Shift Payments, which previously ran its own ‘Shift Card’, allowing users to spend crypto from their Coinbase accounts in the US, the Financial Times noted.
Don't Fall a Victim of Dirty Games in Cryptoland: Binance vs OKEx
What if you’re offering a certain service, and you really don’t want potential customers to go to your competitor for the same thing? Or you're just a loyal fan of one or another company and want to help them win their competition war? Finding a solution is much easier when you’re not scared of playing dirty.
The Internet lets you take age-old dirty tricks and tailor them to both your needs and your circumstances. While it's not clear who's playing dirty this time, the most likely victim of such a trick is major cryptocurrency exchange OKEx, which has recently launched its OK Jumpstart token sale platform, and its first token sale is set to happen tomorrow.
However, if you were to visit the website under the name http://www.okjumpstart.com - note that it is not https - that seems to belong to them, you’d be redirected to the Binance Launchpad website - the token sale service of competing major cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
The domain was created almost a month ago - on March 12th, 2019, the very same day when OKEx announced their new platform. According to data from Whois, a public search engine for domain information, the website was supposedly registered by someone from the city of Chengdu, the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan, via West263 International Limited, a Hong Kong-based registrar company.
As for who purchased the domain, everyone’s guess is as good as any. Binance has previously organized community meetups in Chengdu, like back in October 2018, and the photo they posted in a blog post shows that they have quite a large following there. However, it's not the only place where the exchange has their fans.
Binance has not replied to our request for comment as of the time of writing.
OKEx maintains, however, that they have never went public with any sort of website dedicated to the platform.
“We’d like to stress that the mentioned website isn’t our official one and for any further information of OK Jumpstart you can refer to https://www.okex.com/activity/jumpstart,” Vivien Choi, spokesperson at OKEx, told Cryptonews.com. She declined to comment on what, if anything, the company intends to do in this case.
Considering Third-Party Staking Services? Read About These Risks
One of the biggest trends in crypto right now is for proof-of-stake (PoS) cryptocurrencies, with the likes of Cosmos, PIVX and EOS being some of the more recent examples. And with this trend, there has been an almost parallel growth in third-party staking services, platforms which stake coins on behalf of users who don't have the time or inclination to stake coins for themselves.
However, while such 'Staking-as-a-Service' (SaaS) platforms are in many respects good for investors who want to earn a return on their money without doing much technical legwork, the practice of placing coins with third parties comes with risks.
Third-party staking = big returns?
In contrast to proof-of-work (PoW) coins, PoS cryptos reward miners with new coins depending on how much they stake relative to other miners. While this can be a simpler process than calculating the correct hash for a block, it still requires a level of expertise beyond most ‘laypeople.’
"Most staking coins make it non-trivial to stake your coins and 'earn' the transaction and block reward fees," says Bitcoin Core developer Jimmy Song. "Much like the tax code, PoS coins optimize on technical competence required so that only the 'worthy' get some of the coins."
As Song explains to Cryptonews.com, SaaS platforms have appeared precisely because they help the average investor "optimize stake rewards without all the headache of running the software." This would account for why the industry is now home to the likes of Staked, Anchorage and Coinbase Custody, all of which launched their staking services within the last 12 months.
Even more recently, Battlestar Capital launched at the end of March, with its co-founder and chief of research, Jason Stone, telling Cryptonews.com that investors can expert handsome returns, depending on the cryptocurrency.
"The growth in portfolios of Battlestar clients is directly proportional to the coins they deposit with Battlestar," he explains. "Some coins, like Zen, deliver 25-35% yield in Zen token, paid by the Blockchain to the staker of Zen."
Risk of centralization
However, there are worries that the SaaS system carries several risks. Most prominent of all is the risk of centralization, and as NEM Ventures co-founder Kailin O’Donnell tells Cryptonews.com, this has implications for security as well as for the concentration of voting power.
"Any new custodial service introduces risk into the system," he says. "Historically, exchanges have always been a primary target for hackers in the space and SaaS platforms will be subject to the same or similar level of risk."
Likewise, Jimmy Song explains that custodial services require you to hand over control of your coins to a third party, and that if they "go bust for whatever reason (hacking, gov't intervention, founder dying with the only private key), you're out of luck."
Perhaps more urgently, Song points out another risk. "The other thing is that a lot of PoS coins use some form of voting for features," he adds. "The third parties could potentially use the voting power to influence the coin's development. Much like mining pools, the policy may end up being determined solely by the SaaS platforms."
Staking services acknowledge this risk, yet they also affirm that it will be slight compared to the risks witnessed with PoW currencies and mining pools.
"I think there's some concern about centralization but I don't think it will get anywhere near as centralized as mining," Tim Ogilvie – the CEO of Staked – tells Cryptonews.com. "There simply aren't the same cost efficiencies that have forced mining pools to become so dominant."
OKEx Announced its First Token Sale via IEO
Major cryptocurrency exchange OKEx has announced an initial exchange offering (IEO) for the BLOC token, on their newly-presented OK Jumpstart token sale platform. The sale marks the first such endeavor of the exchange, joining the likes of Binance and Bittrex in the so-called killer app club.
The token in question is BLOC, native to the Blockcloud blockchain, and the sale is set to start at AM 12:00 UTC on April 10th. “Combining the advantages of blockchain and Future Internet technology, it reconstructs the technology layers below where current blockchain networks and Internet applications operate,” explains the project’s website. In short, it is a blockchain-based TCP/IP architecture, where TCP/IP is a suite of communication protocols used to interconnect network devices on the internet.
The token sale uses a subscription + allotment approach. Users will have a timeframe of 30 minutes to subscribe, and allotment will be based on the amount of the exchange’s native OKB tokens they hold over a seven-day period. The minimum threshold for a subscription is 500 OKB tokens (USD 1,145) held for those seven consecutive days, or buying in 3,500 OKB tokens on the last day - but to have their subscription guaranteed, users need to hold at least 2,500 OKB tokens daily or buy 17,500 OKB tokens on the final day before snapshot time.
The snapshots, which will be used to prove the users’ eligibility for participation, will be taken every day at AM 10:00 UTC, starting seven days before the token sale day. Then, users get their individual allotment coefficients based on the sum of OKB holdings in the moment of those snapshots. Users will have their individual subscription amounts in OKB locked up, and receive tokens based on a formula available on the OKEx blog. This formula bases the token allotment on both how many tokens users held during this period, as well as the amount of OKB they locked in as their subscription.
This move lets OKEx join the club of exchanges offering fundraising services. The latest example was Bittrex, where the token sale of VeriBlock tokens took a mere 10 seconds, beating even Binance’s speed of 22 seconds for the Fetch.AI token. Binance’s co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao coined the term “killer app” back in February, when he said in an interview that he views exchange-based fundraising as the next killer app.
SEC Hints What Crypto Assets Might be Securities (UPDATED)
On Wednesday, in a long-awaited move, a division at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a framework for analyzing whether a digital asset is offered and sold as an investment contract, and, therefore, is a security. (Updated on 17:04 UTC: two new sections - "Nothing new here" and A no-action request - have been added.)
However, in an announcement, Bill Hinman, Director of Division of Corporation Finance at SEC, and Valerie Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation at SEC, stressed that the framework is not intended to be an exhaustive overview of the law, but rather, "an analytical tool to help market participants assess whether the federal securities laws apply to the offer, sale, or resale of a particular digital asset."
"This framework represents Staff views and is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Commission. The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content," they added.
According to them, the information contained in this framework may apply to entities conducting the following activities related to digital assets:
Binance Launchpad to Test its Lottery With Matic Network
Binance Launchpad, the token sale platform of major cryptocurrency exchange Binance, aims to test its new approach to a token sale with Matic Network, a developer of a Layer 2 scaling solution, on April 24.
The project looks to raise c. USD 5 million worth of BNB, which is the native token of Binance, at c. USD 0.00263 per token (MATIC) for 19% of their total token supply, the exchange announced on Monday. It compares with the USD 0.00079 seed sale token price and the USD 0.0026 "eguity early supporters token price."
As reported last week, Binance announced new rules for token sale on Binance Launchpad that would increase demand for BNB. Therofere, the MATIC token launch will be conducted as a lottery, instead of a first-come-first-served system. The number of tickets one can claim depends on the amount of BNB one holds over a 20-day period in a Binance account leading up to the day of the lottery, up to a maximum of 5 tickets per eligible account.
The exhchange added today that based on the community feedback they have decreased the lowest threshold to participate in the lottery by 50%, to BNB 50 (almost USD 900.)
"Matic Network is a Layer 2 scaling solution that achieves scale by utilizing sidechains for off-chain computation, while ensuring asset security using the Plasma framework and a decentralized network of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) validators," Binance said, adding that "many projects are already building apps & integrations with Matic."
It goes further to explain that commercially, "Matic sidechains are structurally effective for supporting many Decentralized Finance (DeFi) protocols available in the Ethereum ecosystem."
Lottery ticket allocation: