As 2018 comes to close, a number of analysts expected a “Santa Claus” rally, whereas the crypto market would undergo a positive reversal in the holiday season. Yet, the value of Bitcoin, along with the altcoins it reigns over, has continued to suffer. Amid this market turmoil, this industry’s news cycle has also faltered, with discussion regarding promising product releases and institutional forays becoming a rare sight. Still, there remain many optimists that are hopeful for what’s to come in 2019.
CFTC Requests For Public Feedback On Ethereum, Altcoins
After over a year of hype surrounding Bitcoin (BTC) futures, as CBOE and CME launched contracts, and Bakkt unveiled plans for its own, a new contender is expected to enter into crypto’s alternative investment vehicle scene. This, of course, is Ethereum (ETH), which formerly sat at Bitcoin’s side as the second-most valuable capitalized cryptocurrency.
The U.S. Commodities Trading Futures Commission (CFTC) only confirmed these rumors in the past week, as the entity made a “request for information” to the public on the matter of alternative cryptocurrencies, namely ETH. The governmental regulator wrote:
“The RFI [Request For Information] also seeks to understand similarities and distinctions between Ether and bitcoin, as well as Ether-specific opportunities, challenges, and risks.”
It is believed that the CFTC is seeking public sentiment and comments to precede its ruling on an ETH-backed instrument, like proposed Ethereum futures backed by CBOE. Interestingly, not everyone is convinced that futures based on Ether will be beneficial for the asset. Tom Lee, for instance, told Business Insider that ETH futures will allow speculators to push the asset’s price lower, even if the contract isn’t physically-backed. Su Zhu, the CEO of Singapore-based Three Arrows Capital, echoed these concerns, issuing a poll questioning if the advent of such a product would aid ETH.
Bitcoin Friendly Square Cash Tops Apple, Google Play Store
Last Saturday, Miles Suter, a prominent Bitcoin commentator, divulged that Cash App, a mobile financial services application backed by Square, had become the #1 free application on Apple’s iOS App Store, a monumental accomplishment for any startup. Although this development isn’t exciting in and of itself, the fact that Cash App (Square’s Cash) natively supports the purchase and sale of BTC is undoubtedly a fact that struck a chord with crypto diehards worldwide.
Commenting on this surprising occurrence, Matt Odell, a long-time “Bitcoiner,” exclaimed that Square’s Cash, which has the stamp of approval from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, will be a primary catalyst behind Bitcoin’s growth in the years to come. Odell noted that the application, available throughout the U.S., is much more impactful on this budding market than a Bitcoin-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF).
Just days after Square Cash topped the charts of iOS, the popular fintech program gained on the standings of the Google Play Store, Android’s go-to location for applications and content. The Jack Dorsey-backed application purportedly became the most downloaded free finance-related application on the Play Store, due to a rapid influx of downloads. Square’s flagship product now sits in front of its most notable competitors — Venmo, ranked third on the same chart, and Paypal.
Related Reading: Square’s Crypto-Friendly Cash App is the Most Downloaded Financial Application on Play Store
Facebook Bolsters Blockchain Division Amid Bear Market
Those familiar with the matter have told Cheddar, and up-and-coming, crypto-friendly business news outlet, that Facebook has been bolstering its blockchain division, even amid the dismal market downturn. The insiders claimed that nearly 40 employees, which consist of blockchain developers and former members of Paypal’s top brass, now work within the walls of the secretive initiative.
The Menlo Park-based social media giant doesn’t intend to cease its expansion efforts anytime soon, however. In recent months, as bears took hold of the cryptocurrency industry, Facebook reportedly shot representatives across the globe in a search for potential team members at industry events. Recruiters at Facebook Blockchain have also reportedly reached out to prominent crypto projects, specifically in an apparent bid to poach talent with potential.
Although while Facebook evidently means business with its blockchain foray, not much is known about the spoke’s inner workings and long-term ambitions. One source, who remains anonymous, reportedly told Cheddar that the company has intentions to launch a “decentralized digital currency,” but this statement could not be confirmed by NewsBTC. Still, while such a digital asset is undoubtedly an absurd plan, as it would have to operate efficiently at scale, multiple rumors have accentuated that a token could be in development at Facebook’s new arm.
- Basis Shutters $133 Million Stablecoin Project: In an apparent sign of the times, so to speak, Basis, a stablecoin project championed by three Princeton graduates, has folded. Basis promised to be a breath of fresh air in the stablecoin realm — rife with skepticism — touting its algorithm-based “central bank” and a multi-crypto asset ecosystem to facilitate stability. Yet, according to preliminary reports from The Block, later confirmed by the American startup itself, the stablecoin venture had to shutter its operations due to “regulatory headwinds.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportedly forced Basis’ hand, as the upstart’s tokens quickly became classified as digital securities. The firm will purportedly do its best to return $133 million in venture capital it received from Google Ventures (GV), Andreessen Horowitz, Bain Capital, and a number of other preeminent investment groups.
- Samsung Hints At Crypto Wallet Offering: As the HTC Exodus smartphone arrives at consumers’ homes, while Sirin Labs has divulged more details regarding its blockchain-centric smart device, Samsung has hinted at launching crypto-related software. Per an exclusive report from Sammobile, the Seoul-based technology giant recently trademarked three terms that name drop “blockchain.” The three names, “Blockchain KeyStore,” “Blockchain Key Box,” “Blockchain Core,” are purported to pertain to a cryptocurrency wallet and cold storage solution that the multinational corporation will launch alongside its Galaxy S10 smartphone. The offering will supposedly have two parts — a cold storage solution for cryptocurrencies, which will lock down private keys in a secure enclave, and a fully-fledged wallet that will presumably resemble its rivals in Bread Wallet, Blockchain.com, and comparable applications. Samsung’s proposed wallet will purportedly list BTC, Ethereum, ERC-20 tokens, and Bitcoin Cash as supported assets. Issuing a comment to a number of outlets, Samsung representatives weren’t able to either deny or confirm the reports.
- Gemini Launches Mobile App, Winklevoss Twins Bullish On Bitcoin: Amid an extended bear market, Gemini, the U.S.-based exchange headed by the Harvard grads the Winklevoss Twins, has unveiled its latest offering — Gemini Mobile App. The application, currently listed on Apple’s iOS Store and Google’s Play Store, will be tied to Gemini’s flagship product, its regulatory-compliant exchange. Gemini Mobile, which joins similar initiatives from Binance, Coinbase, and Poloniex, will allow users to purchase and sell cryptocurrency, track their portfolio value, create price alerts, and store their holdings. This cutting-edge mobile program comes just days after Gemini listed Bitcoin Cash (BCH). In tandem with the product’s launch, Bloomberg released an interview piece with the Winklevoss Twins, Harvard graduates who once represented America at the Olympics. Tyler told the outlet that they were “totally home in winter,” subsequently opening up about his startup’s plans for 2019. Firstly, Tyler made it clear that Gemini isn’t changing its underlying business strategy to solely facilitate institutional participants, before adding that the New York-headquartered firm intends to foray into Asia’s cryptocurrency ecosystem. This plan only underscores the twins’ belief that cryptocurrencies are here, and are here to stay.
- American, Canadian Businesses Hit With Bitcoin Bomb Threats: On Thursday, businesses, governmental entities, and shops across the world saw foreboding emails appear in their inboxes. According to emails gathered by authorities and media outlets, those targeted, a majority of which were situated in Canada and U.S., were asked to fork over thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin (BTC). If the specified sum wasn’t sent, the message’s authors, supposed cybercriminal consortiums, threatened to activate explosives on targeted locations. As fear propagated, a multitude of firms targeted evacuated their places of work, including Infinity Ward, the development group behind the Call of Duty franchise.
- Coinbase Launches Paypal Withdrawals For U.S. Clients: Since Coinbase launched its so-called “12 Days of [Christmas]” initiative on Monday, the world-renowned startup has embarked on introducing a new feature to its product roster each and every day. On Friday, day six of the holiday event, the San Francisco-headquartered firm revealed that it would be allowing its U.S.-based clientele to withdraw their fiat balances on Coinbase Consumer through Paypal. Users taking advantage of this feature will not be charged by Coinbase or Paypal, making such a system a cost-effective and relatively speedy proposition for withdrawers. Prior to this newfangled integration, the platform’s American customers had to make use of the extremely sluggish bank wire network.
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