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Mauritius to License Crypto Custodians Starting in March

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Mauritius will quickly license virtual asset custodians as a part of its plan to create a fintech hub “in and for” Africa.

In a press release Friday, the island country’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) mentioned that, after publishing draft laws in a session paper in November 2018, the framework has now been finalized and will come into impact on March 1.

In impact, the framework units out the foundations for a licence that permits the holder to supply custody services and products for virtual property. The transfer makes the Mauritius the “first jurisdiction globally to offer a regulated landscape for the custody of digital assets,” consistent with the FSC.

Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, top minister of the Republic of Mauritius said:

“In revolutionising the worldwide FinTech ecosystem via this regulatory framework for the custody of Digital Assets, my Government reiterates its dedication to accelerating the rustic’s transfer to an age of digitally-enabled financial expansion.

While the general framework shall be printed in complete within the upcoming Government Gazette on March 1, the announcement signifies that holders of the virtual asset licence shall be mandated to agree to the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism investment laws “in line with international best practices.”

Although most likely modified in some sides in its ultimate shape, the November session paper lists a chain of conditions for licensees, together with statutory reporting and disclosures to purchasers, no less than reserve property and “comprehensive” program for chance control.

Custodians would additionally need to apply pointers for garage of virtual asset keys and seeds, exhibit safety procedures for onsite chilly garage of property and feature in position a gadget for detection and reporting of suspicious transactions, as in keeping with the draft.

The FSC added in lately’s announcement that it has engaged with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development at the governance and legislation of virtual property and that the trouble guided building of the brand new licencing laws.

The procedure has additionally been “collaborative across industry stakeholders, policymakers and the regulator,” Loretta Joseph, regulatory guide to the FSC, informed CoinDesk.

“This regulatory framework reiterates the stance taken over the last year to be a forward thinking and innovative nation that can lead appropriate and sensible regulation for the region,” Joseph mentioned.

The new comes after Mauritius’ recognition of virtual property as an asset-class for funding “by sophisticated and expert investors” in September 2018,

Port Louis, Mauritius symbol by way of Shutterstock

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IBM Signs 6 Banks to Issue Stablecoins and Use Stellar’s XLM Cryptocurrency

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IBM is taking its banking clients a step closer to cryptocurrency.

Announced Monday, six international banks have signed letters of intent to issue stablecoins, or tokens backed by fiat currency, on World Wire, an IBM payment network that uses the Stellar public blockchain. The network promises to let regulated institutions move value across borders – remittances or foreign exchange – more quickly and cheaply than the legacy correspondent banking system.

So far three of the banks have been identified – Philippines-based RCBC, Brazil’s Banco Bradesco, and Bank Busan of South Korea – the rest, which are soon to be named, will offer digital versions of euros and Indonesian rupiah, “pending regulatory approvals and other reviews,” IBM said.

The network went live Monday, although while the banks await their regulators’ blessings, the one stablecoin running on World Wire at the moment is a previously announced U.S. dollar-backed token created by Stronghold, a startup based in San Francisco. “We say ‘limited production,’” said Jesse Lund, IBM’s head of blockchain for financial services, of the project’s status.

Indeed, while Stronghold’s USD-backed coin currently serves as an on-ramp for greenbacks, there are as yet no pay-in/pay-out locations in the U.S.  In this regard, IBM has received “a favorable verbal response” from U.S. regulators, said Lund.

“So we are starting with markets that are outside of the U.S., but it won’t be long before we add U.S. as an operating endpoint. It will be sometime this year; we will get to it, third quarter, fourth quarter something like that,” he said.

Still, the World Wire platform has payment locations in 72 countries, with 48 currencies and 46 “banking endpoints” (which include banks and money transmitters) where people can send or receive cash, said IBM.

Aside from issuing their own tokens, the arrangement opens up the possibility of banks using lumens, the native token of the Stellar blockchain, which can be used as a “bridge currency” when it is hard to trade one type of fiat for another. Also, World Wire “could support other cryptos” but is only supporting lumens for the moment because financial institutions are put off by the volatility of cryptocurrencies, Lund said.

However, as far as growing a bank-backed stablecoin universe is concerned, Lund has a grand vision. He told CoinDesk,

“As more stablecoins come on board, the whole notion of FX changes over time. We are working very hard to expand the ecosystem of stablecoins that will include many more banks and many more fiat currencies – so digital representations of fiat currencies – and even, eventually, central bank issued digital currencies.”

Stellar performance

World Wire may be the first big outing for IBM and Stellar, but Big Blue has been quietly working on this for some time, such as in its pilot in late 2017 with a money transfer operator called KlickEx in the South Pacific region.  

It’s all part of former banker Lund’s idea for how IBM will play its part in the future of financial services.

“We are doing a lot of other stuff in the private permissioned space, which is code for enterprise blockchain,” he said. “But this is a different type of system and a different type of network, and IBM is convening this. I mean, this is something IBM has never done before.”

Stellar, created by former Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb, has been making plenty of bold moves under its own steam: so what does IBM bring to the table?

Lund said IBM calls itself the “network operator” while Stellar is really the protocol level. In terms of IBM’s role, this includes maintaining the payment API and some core system software that handles accounts and money flow for participants on the network.

It also helps that IBM has relationships with most of the banks on the planet. Lund also pointed out that IBM is “the single most trusted validator on the public Stellar network today,” meaning many other nodes listen to its nodes about which transactions should occur.

“Look at the Stellar dashboard and see the IBM validators out there,” said Lund. “There’s a lot of others, but everyone trusts us. So in the consensus model, we are kind of a big anchor there.”

New revenue model

As well as pushing Stellar and stablecoins into the wheelhouse of numerous banks and regulators, IBM’s blockchain division is also exploring a new revenue model with World Wire.

This is probably a smart strategy as the pressure on enterprise players to show at least the possibility of a return on investment is becoming palpable.

Indeed, an IBM spokeswoman told CoinDesk last week about the vendor’s move to a pay-as-you-go model.

“In the next version of IBM Blockchain Platform, we will be moving to an hourly charge based on consumption, so that users have much more flexibility over their costs and infrastructure as they build blockchain,” she said.

In keeping with that, World Wire is free to join; participants pay according to the value they move through the network, said Lund. “That’s how we maintain our revenue for supporting the network and so that alone is an entirely new way of engaging the financial services industry that IBM has never done before.”

The aggregate numbers for global payments  are pretty staggering, noted Lund, in the hundreds of trillions of dollars per year which transact across borders. As such, IBM intends to “meter the money” and “charge a very, very modest amount of basis points” on the value that flows through this frictionless pipeline, said Lund, concluding,

“I am not talking about selling software here. I am talking about transactional revenue by way of our ownership of a new kind of network that’s enabled by blockchain; it’s all about new transactional networks.”

IBM image via nattul / Shutterstock.com

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A Lightning API for Bitcoin Futures Data Has Launched

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An experimental service that allows users to pay for futures data from exchanges Kraken and BitMEX with bitcoin’s in-development lightning network is now live.

Launched by SuredBits Monday, the application programming interface (API) allows developers access to information about available futures contracts, specifically, according to CEO Chris Stewart: “You will be able to subscribe to market data from those two exchanges with a payment over the lightning network.”

This data from popular exchanges Kraken and BitMEX is normally free. In this way, the new service is not necessarily intended to be used. Rather it’s a proof-of-concept for how lightning network micropayments can be used to procure data.

SuredBits thinks lightning will play a big role in the future of developer APIs because the payment network allows for smaller payments (often called “micropayments”), making it easier for developers to buy small amounts of data – maybe even less than a cent’s worth at a time.

Stewart went as far as to call traditional market data and API models “broken,” adding:

“We are using [the new APIs] to showcase that lightning allows [exchanges] to monetize things that are monetized at traditional exchanges. We are pushing the idea that lightning has a multitude of benefits when integrated into an exchange’s infrastructure that isn’t just related to withdrawals and deposits.”

Lightning is still considered risky to use, with lingering bugs leading some users to lose money. But developers are still building on top of the network, since it’s widely seen as the future of bitcoin payments.

SuredBits, a little startup from Iowa, is one of a few companies focused mostly on lightning projects. Yet, it’s part of a growing number of bitcoin startups tying the lightning network into their business.

As another showcase, SuredBits (which launched on mainnet earlier this month) recently revealed a “playground” developers can use to test its service for retrieving NFL and NBA data – all using lightning.

Electricity image via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, EOS, Bitcoin Cash, Binance Coin, Stellar, Tron, Cardano: Price Analysis, March 18

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The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Joseph Lubin expects the global economy to grow 10 times in the next 10 to 20 years, powered by the mass use of blockchain technology. According to him, the current condition of the nascent space is similar to the use of email in 1983, when only a handful of early adopters were using it.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, founders of the Gemini crypto exchange, have welcomed Facebook’s rumored stablecoin. However, they said that cryptocurrencies will usher in a greater disruptive development compared to the social networking platforms.

Gradually, large traditional players in various fields are recognizing the power of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, partnering with various startups to gain the first mover advantage. Different nations are also not leaving any stone unturned to make the most of the budding technology.

These developments are positive for the future. Nevertheless, the price is yet to respond to improved fundamentals. What do the charts of the major cryptocurrencies project? Let’s find out.

BTC/USD

Though Bitcoin (BTC) has been rising above the psychological resistance of $4,000 for the past three days, it has not been able to sustain it. This shows profit booking at higher levels. If the price doesn’t close above $4,000 soon, we anticipate a mild correction to the 20-day EMA and below it to the uptrend line.

If the digital currency rebounds sharply from either of the supports and breaks out of $4,000, it will be a positive sign. It is then likely to rally to $4,255, which is a major hurdle. A close (UTC time frame) above $4,255 will complete a double bottom, which has a pattern target of $5,273.91.

Currently, both the moving averages are sloping up and the RSI is in the positive territory. Hence, the path of least resistance is to the upside.

BTC/USD

Our bullish view will be invalidated if the BTC/USD pair dips below the moving averages. On a fall below the 50-day SMA, the pair can drop to $3,355. Below this level, the final support is at $3,236.09. The downtrend will resume if the bears sink the price to a new yearly low.

Traders can retain the stop loss on the long positions below $3,236.09. We shall soon trail the stops higher to reduce the risk. We might suggest adding long positions on a close above $4,255.

ETH/USD

Ethereum (ETH) failed to sustain above $144.78 on March 16. This shows a lack of buying at higher levels. The price has again dipped back to the 20-day EMA, below which a fall to $134.50 is probable. Both the moving averages have started to slope up, which indicates a minor advantage to the bulls.

ETH/USD

A breakout and close above $144.78 can result in a move to the next overhead resistance of $167.32. If this level is also crossed, it will complete a bullish ascending triangle pattern that has a target objective of $251.64.

On the other hand, if the ETH/USD pair plunges below the moving averages, it can slide to the trendline of the ascending triangle pattern. Traders can keep the stops on the remaining long positions at $125.

XRP/USD

Ripple (XRP) has been trading close to the moving averages for the past few days. This period of consolidation is unlikely to continue for long. We expect a decisive breakout or a breakdown within the next few days.

XRP/USD

A breakout of $0.33108 will propel the XRP/USD pair to the resistance line of the descending channel. If the bulls succeed in pushing the price above the channel, we expect the pair to pick up momentum and start a new uptrend.

On the other hand, if the digital currency plunges below the uptrend line of the ascending triangle, it can drop to the next support at $0.27795. Below this level, a drop to $0.24508 is possible. Traders can protect their long positions with the stop loss just below $0.27795.

LTC/USD

Litecoin (LTC) broke above the resistance line on March 16, but it is facing profit booking at higher levels. If the price rebounds off $56.910, it will indicate strength and a rally to $65.561 is probable. Above this level, the up move can extend to $69.2790. Though the price has been moving up, the RSI has failed to catch up. This negative divergence on the RSI is worrying us. Traders can trail the stops on the remaining long positions to $52.

LTC/USD

We are not recommending booking complete profits at the current levels because, in a bull phase, the negative divergence on the RSI can often give a false signal. Notwithstanding, since it is a warning sign, we have proposed trailing the stops to protect the paper profits.

If the LTC/USD pair breaks down of the 20-day EMA, it can slide to the next support at $47.2460. The 50-day SMA is just below this level. A breakdown of this support will indicate weakness.

EOS/USD

EOS has been struggling to breakout of $3.8723, but is finding support close to the 20-day EMA. Both the moving averages are gradually trending up, and the RSI is in the positive territory, which shows that the bulls have a slight edge.

EOS/USD

If the EOS/USD pair sustains above $3.8723, it can move up to $4.4930. But if the pair turns down from the current levels and breaks below the 20-day EMA, a fall to $3.1534 is probable. Below this support, the trend will turn in favor of the bears. Therefore, traders can retain the stops on the remaining long positions at $3.1. We shall soon trail it higher.

BCH/USD

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) has quickly risen to the overhead resistance of $163.89. The attempt to breakout and sustain above it has failed. Still, with the 20-day EMA starting to slope up and the RSI in the overbought zone, the path of least resistance is to the upside. Above $163.89, it can rally to $175 and above it to $220.

BCH/USD

If the BCH/USD pair fails to scale above $163.89, it will again slide back to the 20-day EMA. The trend will turn negative if the bears sink the price below $120.46, and traders can retain the stop loss on the long positions at $116. We shall watch for a couple of days and then recommend trailing the stops higher.

BNB/USD

Binance Coin (BNB) broke out of the overhead resistance at $15.9100517 on March 16. We expected it to continue higher after breaking out of the resistance. However, the digital currency is stuck near the breakout levels for the past two days.

BNB/USD

A breakout of $16.6442826 can propel the BNB/USD pair to its target objective of $18. Both the moving averages are trending up and the RSI is in the overbought zone, which shows that the bulls have the upper hand.

However, if the price again slips back below $15.9100517, it will indicate profit booking at higher levels. The support on the downside is at the uptrend line and below it at 20-day EMA. If the 20-day EMA breaks down, the short-term trend will turn in favor of the bears. Therefore, please trail the stop loss on the remaining long positions to $14.

XLM/USD

Stellar (XLM) is consolidating near the recent swing high, which is a positive sign. The 20-day EMA is sloping upward and the RSI is close to the overbought zone, which suggests that the bulls are in command.

XLM/USD

On the upside, the XLM/USD pair has to breakout of the resistance line to pick up momentum. The targets are $0.13250273 and above it, $0.14861760.

Our bullish view will be invalidated if the price turns down from the current levels and slips below the 20-day EMA. In such a case, a fall to the uptrend line is probable. The traders can keep the stop loss on the long positions at $0.08.

TRX/USD

Though Tron (TRX) broke out of the 20-day EMA on March 16, it turned back from the 50-day SMA. The bulls could not keep up the buying pressure and it is currently struggling to hold the 20-day EMA.

TRX/USD

Both the moving averages are sloping down and the RSI has also slipped into the negative territory, which suggests that the bears have the upper hand. The TRX/USD pair will pick up momentum above $0.02815521. Until then, the bears are likely to sell on rallies.

On the downside, support lies at $0.02094452. If this level breaks, the next one to watch is $0.01830. We remain neutral on the digital currency until it breaks out and sustains above the range.

ADA/USD

Cardano (ADA) broke above the $0.036815 to $0.051468 range on March 16, but did not trigger our buy mark of $0.05650 suggested in the previous analysis. However, it has not given up much ground as is trying to hold above the previous resistance-turned-support of $0.51468. This is a positive sign, as it shows that the bulls are in no hurry to book profits.

ADA/USD

If the ADA/USD pair picks up strength and rallies above $0.05650, we expect it to reach $0.066121 and above it to $0.080. Therefore, we retain the buy suggested in the previous analysis.

Contrary to our assumption, if the price sustains below $0.051468, it can drop to the 20-day EMA, which should provide support. If this support breaks, the pair will extend its stay in the range.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. The charts for the analysis are provided by TradingView.

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Colorado Lawmakers Seek Exploration of Blockchain Use in Agriculture

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Lawmakers in the U.S. state of Colorado are eyeing a role for blockchain technology in the agricultural industry.

Four representatives and senators from the state jointly filed the bipartisan house bill 1247 on Friday, proposing that the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture assemble an advisory group to study the potential applications for blockchain technology in agricultural operations.

Several blockchain use cases were identified by the lawmakers, including improving traceability of products “from farm to shelf,” controlling inventory and monitoring in-field conditions such as weather and soil quality.

Maintaining records for production and transportation equipment, verifying data and certification of organic products, tracking and ordering resources such as fertilizer and seed – all using blockchain – are also some of the other areas that could be studied by the group.

As proposed, the advisory group would eventually report back to the general assembly with its findings and recommendations for any legislation by Jan. 15, 2020.

The prospect of improving agricultural operations through blockchain technology is starting to see widespread interest across the globe.

The area of supply chains is seeing particular attention, with numerous projects having launched to investigate the tracking of products such as coffee, meatmilk, fish and more.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron made a strident call for increased use of data technologies such as blockchain across the EU to boost the agriculture industry and address concerns over food traceability following the Polish meat scandal.

And, back in October, the four biggest agricultural corporations, popularly known as the “ABCD” – Archer Daniels Midland Company, Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus – were also looking to blockchain and AI to bring the global grain trade into the digital age.

Colorado agriculture image via Shutterstock

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Banking Startup Launching Visa Card That Lets You Spend 7 Cryptos

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Banking startup 2gether is launching a prepaid Visa debit card that allows users to spend cryptocurrencies.

In an announcement, 2gether said customers will be able to use the card to pay with either euros or any of the following seven cryptocurrencies: bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), XRP, bitcoin cash (BCH), EOS, Stellar (XLM) and litecoin (LTC). The card “instantly” converts the cryptos to fiat currency and, it said, and can be used fee-free by customers in any of the 19 eurozone nations.

The company said the card would address the hurdles that come with making payments directly with cryptocurrencies. “Currently, spending crypto is a long and difficult process involving exchanges, personal keys, and lots of waiting,” it said.


2gether customers passing know-your-customer (KYC) procedures can also manage their balances in an Android and iOS mobile app that also lets them buy, sell and and hold cryptocurrencies. The firm said purchases are offered at “no mark-ups to exchange prices.”

Following a beta launch in Spain, the firm is now expanding across the eurozone. While it did not provide an exact date for the arrival of the service, it said that users can now download the app in expectation of the launch.

From March 27, the firm also plans a pre-sale of its native token “2GT” via the app, aiming to raise €5 million (or $5.65 million). All EU citizens can participate, it said.

“To date, there has been no consumer-owned, tangible application that connects crypto and the mainstream market,” said 2gether CEO Ramón Ferraz. “We’re proud to be one of the first companies in the crypto space launching a token sale with an already finished product.”

Founded in 2016, Madrid-based 2gether says it is advised by KPMG and A.T. Kearney, and takes the mission to “dramatically improve the personal economies of customers” using technologies such as big data and blockchain.

CEO Ramon Ferraz and Visa card images courtesy of 2gether

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