Although Bitcoin (BTC) and its crypto asset brethren have effectively stabilized, seeing little-to-zero movement, this industry’s startups have continued to make strides in an array of directions. Some preeminent companies made monumental steps forward, while others took devastating steps back. Regardless, the bottom line is that the crypto sector hasn’t slowed, contrary to sentiment touted by cynics.
- Bitcoin Giant BitGo, Genesis Trading Launch Cold Storage-Secured OTC Desk: Palo Alto-headquartered BitGo, a long-time industry powerhouse that has served Pantera Captial, Ripple Labs, Bitstamp, among others, recently joined hands with Genesis Trading, a subsidiary of the crypto conglomerate in Digital Currency Group. BitGo and Genesis’ collaborative effort is taking the form of a newfangled over-the-counter (OTC) trading service, which will allow clients to “buy and sell digital assets directly from the security of their BitGo Trust cold storage account.” Genesis, headed by Michael Moro, will provide its expertise in facilitating large-sum, institutionally-sourced transactions, while BitGo will leverage its veteran status in the Bitcoin custody subsector to provide security for the offering. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple’s XRP, ZCash, and three other leading digital assets will be available through this innovative exchange channel.
- Cryptopia Hacked, New Zealand Police Commence Investigation: The broader crypto market suffered its first notable hack of 2019 last week. On Tuesday, the New Zealand-headquartered Cryptopia, a former major exchange, revealed that it suffered a “security breach.” In a company statement, signed by the Cryptopia team, it was revealed that the breach incurred “significant losses” for the startup. After further digging, the organization decided to contact local authorities, who have since pledged to keep the public updated on this imbroglio. Rumor has it that over $3 million in varied crypto assets, including Ethereum. This figure has been corroborated by so-called “whale watching” Twitter accounts, which revealed that thousands of Ether, along with an array of lesser-known (but valuable) tokens, were shipped out of Cryptopia’s cold wallets on the day of the supposed attack.
- Bakkt Makes First Acquisition After $182.5 Capital Injection: On New Year’s Eve, Bakkt, a crypto platform backed by NYSE owner Intercontinental Exchange, revealed that it secured a $182.5 million cheque from 12 financiers, including Galaxy Digital, Pantera, and Microsoft’s venture arm. And just days later, the company revealed that it had already begun to put its hefty capital injection to good use. More specifically, the company, headquartered in the Big Apple, revealed that it had purchased “certain assets” of Rosenthal Collins Group (RCG), a Chicago-based independent futures commission merchant. The nitty-gritty details of the deal weren’t divulged, but Bakkt chief Kelly Loeffler told Fortune Bakkt saw an opportunity to “purchase a portion of the back office operations,” especially certain facets of RCG’s compliance, risk management, treasury service departments. As put by Fortune’s Shawn Tully, “Bakkt is essentially buying part of Rosenthal’s back office.”
- Ethereum Co-Founder Joe Lubin Joins ErisX’s Board: Speaking of Wall Street-backed platforms trying to make a splash in the nascent crypto realm, ErisX, a seeming Bakkt competitor supported by TD Ameritrade, recently made a surprising announcement. ErisX revealed that it would be bringing on Joseph Lubin, a co-founder of Ethereum and the founder of blockchain development upstart ConsenSys, to its board of directors. His exact role wasn’t divulged, but some have speculated that Lubin will help ErisX in its push for Ether-backed derivatives vehicles.
- South Africa Looking To De-anonymize Bitcoin Transactions: Per Business Insider, South Africa’s Reserve Bank, the Sarb, is currently advising local crypto startups, namely wallet providers and exchanges, about how to best operate their services. The Sarb claims that its up-and-coming registration system, which startups will be mandated to utilize, will aid in the crusade to protect investors from crypto’s shortcomings. But the registration system isn’t all that innocuous. In fact, Sarb’s plan will deanonymize crypto accounts within the country, as it would mandate firms to actively track transactional data, including the identity of senders and receivers, transaction amounts, and other pieces of pertinent data. As put by Business Insider, this system will be much like how “banks are required to know their customers.”
- E.U. Financial Regulator Wary Of Crypto: In the same vein of news, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the E.U.’s in-house financial agency based in Paris, recently issued an in-depth report regarding “crypto-assets.” While the report was lengthy, it became apparent that the ESMA is somewhat skeptical with digital assets, which it was hesitant to call bonafide currencies. Via the report, the ESMA remarked that it currently sees an array of pertinent issues. Most notably, the organization drew attention to market volatility, fraud, money laundering, market manipulation, and multi-million dollar cyber-attacks.
- Ethereum Constantinople Hard Fork Delayed: Earlier this week, Ethereum’s long-awaited Constantinople upgrade fell upon a number of complications. A pertinent security issue in one of the to-be-activated protocols made Ethereum’s core team members spring into action, with Vitalik Buterin and others convening via an emergency call. After deliberation, the group of developers agreed that Constantinople, deemed a “decidedly bullish” upgrade for the project, would be delayed until February 27th, or block 7,280,000 to be more specific.