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Sygnia Asset Management, a major South African investment firm with 180 bln rand ($14.5 bln) under management, has revealed that it will launch a cryptocurrency exchange later this year, BusinessTech reported May 25.

Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka said the company would launch its cryptocurrency exchange, dubbed ‘SygniaCoin,’ in the third quarter of 2018:

“The cryptocurrency market is evolving at a rapid pace internationally and domestically and is attracting both domestic and international flows. With its fintech focus, Sygnia is well-positioned to become the first major financial services institution to embrace cryptocurrencies and to offer investors a secure trading and execution platform backed by an international infrastructure, well-designed custody and integration with standard savings products.”

Wierzycka placed an emphasis on security and regulatory compliance, which she considers “will evolve” in the South African context. She noted that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has already stipulated that crypto trading is liable to tax and that she expects further domestic crypto regulatory frameworks to follow.

Meanwhile, SygniaCoin will base its policies on the existing regulatory framework currently adopted by crypto exchanges registered in New York State, namely the stringent NY BitLicense, which was introduced in August of 2015.

In addition to trading, Sygnia will create a dedicated fund that will invest in a range of cryptocurrencies on behalf of its retail and institutional clients. Sygnia investors will also be able to hold cryptocurrencies in their Sygnia accounts alongside their other assets.

Just this week, South Africa’s central bank (SARB) declared that cryptocurrencies are “cyber-tokens” because they “don’t meet the requirements of money.” The announcement followed upon SARB’s establishment of a fintech task force earlier this year that will be dedicated to addressing crypto regulatory issues.

In April, the central bank further established a self-regulatory organization to oversee developments in the crypto and fintech industries aimed at preventing ‘systemic risk,’ although the bank stressed it was cautious not to “throttle growth” in the burgeoning crypto sphere.




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Twenty nine percent of Germans are interested in cryptocurrencies as a form of investment, Cointelegraph auf Deutsch reported Tuesday, May 29. German bank Postbank came to this conclusion after a survey of 3,100 Germans, which was conducted from the end of February to the end of March 2018.

When asked about why are they interested in crypto, 60 percent of women and 51 percent of men cited "independence from established financial systems" as an important factor. The possibility of high returns, on the other hand, especially attracts men: 56 percent against 36 percent of women. For every third potential cryptocurrency investor, anonymity is also important.

In terms of age, cryptocurrencies are particularly popular among 18-34 year olds. In this age group almost every second - 46 percent - are interested in crypto investing. Six percent of Germans between the ages of 18 and 34 have already invested, with another 14 percent planning to do so over the next twelve months.

Dr. Thomas Mangel, Head of Postbank's Digital Department, has said in a press release that the sharp price declines in recent months had apparently not impacted the popularity of cryptocurrencies. He believes that the reason for this is a lack of knowledge about opportunities and risks of cryptocurrencies as an investment. Dr. Thomas Mangel warns:
"Despite all the fascination, young investors should not lose sight of offers from the established banking system. Anyone who already makes an investment in securities as an investment should certainly not invest in cryptocurrencies because of the high risks involved. Because this type of investment is highly speculative."
Many bankers have repeatedly warned against price fluctuations in recent months. For example, ECB Board Member Yves Mersch sees digital currencies as a threat to financial stability and calls for strict banking supervision. Also the wealth management head of the Deutsche Bank Markus Mueller criticized the high volatility of cryptocurrencies.




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London has enjoyed a status of a global financial hub for centuries and served as a pioneer for brand new trading options for decades. However, some fear it is now in danger of getting left behind by the hottest emerging asset class – cryptocurrency. One of the main reasons for this appears to be the dominance of the big banks over the UK economy.

Banks Hindering Progress


Despite having a thriving fintech startups scene, an established trading ecosystem and a leading role in the traditional fiat currencies market, London appears to be missing the boat with regards to the rush of institutional money flowing into crypto finance. Locations such as Tokyo, Chicago, New York and even San Francisco are taking the lead with regards to regulated platforms, OTC and hedge funds, as well as exchange-traded derivatives such as futures. And many people in the industry believe this is mainly due to the out influence that the banks have in the City.

“Banks have been unusually strict in dealings with crypto,” Max Boonen, a former Goldman Sachs trader and current CEO of B2C2, a London cryptocurrency market maker, told FT. “It’s nearly impossible to open an account for crypto in the UK. The problem is that in the UK there is a perception that banks have issues with anti-money laundering and decided to be a lot more conservative.” And David Mercer, CEO of LMAX, an FCA regulated FX trading venue which recently announced a physical cryptocurrency exchange dedicated to serving just institutional clients, expects UK banks would only join the market next year. “London is very bank-driven and we see it as being a late adopter,” he explained.

Not Too Late?


Dominance of Big Banks in UK Means London Might Miss the Boat on Bitcoin 

There are also factors that support London’s position in the crypto market, such as CFD brokers like IG Group and  Plus500 achieving success with retail traders as well as Barclays agreeing to open an account for Coinbase. Additionally, there are those that think that the matter is overstated.

“The City of London, taken as a whole, has the collective experience to make considered and forward-thinking decisions. This experience manifests itself in many ways, from the efficiency of trade execution to KYC & AML regulations and from the strength of our legal system to our culture of effective corporate governance. These reasons are why London dominates the international foreign exchange markets, and it is unthinkable that the City will not continue to be a dominant player in crypto markets,” commented to news.Bitcoin.com Nauman Anees, Co-founder of Think Coin, a multi-asset financial & cryptocurrency trading exchange.

Anees added: “London is the dominant player in global financial markets thanks to the strength of its regulatory infrastructure and position as a gateway & conduit between every key global market – and while the crypto markets are novel in many ways, these key contextual advantages still apply. Moreover, events in recent years show the crypto space is one where ‘first mover advantage’ does not apply. Repeated hacks of key exchanges along with the slow pace of international regulation has meant that many ‘early adopters’ have not been positioned to fully develop and grow with the market, meaning that a more cautious approach will likely prove to pay the biggest dividends later. That said, the idea that there is a corporate resistance to crypto adoption in London is misguided. Most of the major investment banks have opened crypto desks, and the ones which haven’t already announced are undoubtedly experimenting behind the scenes.”

How should London ensure that the crypto revolution does not pass it by? Share your thoughts in the comments section.




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South Korea’s national legislature has officially proposed to allow domestic initial coin offerings, effectively lifting the ban imposed by the government in September last year. With the lack of proper guidelines, South Korean companies have been migrating abroad to launch their token sales.

National Assembly’s Proposal

The National Assembly, the 300-member unicameral national legislature of South Korea, has officially proposed for the government to lift the ban on initial coin offerings imposed last September, Business Korea reported on Tuesday. The news outlet elaborated:
The National Assembly has officially made a proposal to allow domestic initial coin offerings (ICOs). As the administration is sitting on its hands after imposing a total ban on ICOs in September last year, the National Assembly has come forward with an official recommendatio

Citing the Assembly’s proposed “legislative and policy proposal of recommendation to allow ICOs under the conditions of investor protection provisions,” the publication explained that the next step is for the administration to discuss the proposal with the Assembly.

Earlier this month, news.Bitcoin.com reported a group of lawmakers working on a bill to legalize ICOs that meet certain conditions under the government’s supervision. ICOs that are approved will be subject to tight supervision by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Ministry of Science and ICT.

Special Committee’s Recommendations


South Korea's National Assembly Officially Proposes Lifting ICO Ban
         

The special committee on the fourth industrial revolution under the National Assembly held their last general meeting on May 28. “Through the legislative and policy proposal of recommendation finalized on the same day, the committee accused the administration of neglecting its duty in responding to blockchain application expansion,” the news outlet detailed.

“We need to form a task force including private experts in order to improve transparency of cryptocurrency trading and establish a healthy trade order,” the committee described. Among other recommendations, the committee outlined, “we will also establish a legal basis for cryptocurrency trading, including permission for ICOs, through the National Assembly Standing Committee.”

ICOs Moving Out of Korea


The news outlet pointed out that:
With the government failing to present any guidelines for ICOs, domestic blockchain companies are going to Singapore and Switzerland to do an ICO and pay unnecessary expenses.
Singapore and Hong Kong have recently emerged as meccas for token sales. According to Anson Zeall, chairman of the Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups Singapore, “there has been a lot of [ICO] activity since September last year.”

Naver and Kakao Corp, the parent companies of popular chat apps Line and Kakaotalk, recently set up subsidiaries abroad with the possibility of launching ICOs. One of the country’s largest crypto exchanges, Bithumb, has also partnered with a Singaporean company to launch its own cryptocurrency.




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Bitcoin remains a strong buy despite recent losses, blockchain venture capitalist Spencer Bogart told CNBC yesterday, May 26. The cryptocurrency will trade “at least” above $10,000 by the year’s end, he added.

Bogart is a partner at major VC firm Blockchain Capital, and was reportedly the first Wall Street analyst to cover Bitcoin and blockchain, authoring a highly regarded blockchain industry report.

Bitcoin has now seen three weeks in the negative, its “longest running streak of losses since September 2017,” as CNBC’s interview intro noted. Despite this, Bogart outlined a bullish forecast for the long term, saying that:
“The long-term thesis is very much intact... The institutionalization of Bitcoin is absolutely occuring...Every major bank is trying to do something in the space. Either they're going to be offering Bitcoin to their clients, they're working on a cust ody platform or they're opening up a trading desk.”
Bogart suggested however that many altcoins are likely “overvalued” and “have significant headwind,” emphasizing the dangers of relative valuation. He drew a parallel between the ICO boom in late 2017 - early 2018 and the dot-com boom of the early 2000s, warning that many crypto tokens are “over-promising and under-delivering.”

Bogart said he would sell alts such as CardanoTRONIOTA and NEO, but was “neutral” and would hold EthereumRippleBitcoin Cash and  EOS.

“I’m very constructive as regards Ethereum on a long-term basis,” he said. Nonetheless, he considered that Ethereum currently has “a lot of overhang” because of the many “overvalued” tokens that are built on its platform, and suggested that Ethereum’s future will be closely correlated to the future development of the ICO space.

Bogart also noted that this has been the first sustained bear market where nobody has suggested the “end of Bitcoin.” He suggested that the reality of a deeper institutionalization of the crypto space is securing the long term “story,” and is “overall positive” for Bitcoin’s future.  

He also said that ongoing turbulence in the traditional financial sector, such as recent national fiat currency crises, is reinforcing Bitcoin’s use cases.
"Could Bitcoin trade lower? Certainly. But do I think it will be higher a year from now? Absolutely… I would bet Bitcoin ends at least above $10,000 in the year.”
Negative performance in the crypto markets for now seems to be continuing, with Bitcoin trading below $7,400 to press time, down a further 2 and half percent over the 24 hour period.

This despite increasing provisions to facilitate mainstream investment in the crypto space, notably with a recent trend to provide custodian solutions for institutional holders. The ubiquity of the ‘institutional investment will lead to a major market uptick’ narrative moved one prominent crypto commentator to protest this weekend:




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In today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief we feature stories that show the increased focus regulators have placed on companies operating in the cryptocurrency scene and how it can adversely affect clients. FCA revels it is investigating dozens of ventures, and Poloniex tries to reassure legacy clients that their frozen funds are safe.

Poloniex Responds to Complaints

Poloniex, the cryptocurrency trading platform which was taken over by Circle earlier this year, has finally responded to complaints by its clients about frozen accounts. Stories of legacy accounts getting locked have flooded social media and cryptocurrency forums over the last week. The company now tries to reassure these clients their funds are safe and explain the matter is required by law.

“As soon as you submit this information, we will take steps to verify it and re-enable trading and transactions for your account. Please rest assured that your funds remain safe and accounted for while you complete this process – you can verify your holdings on the Balances page of your account throughout. Like all registered money services businesses, Poloniex is committed to compliance with all applicable law requiring identification and verification of its customers.”

The company also claims to have taken steps to increase the speed of the process. “We are happy to report that in the past 3 months we’ve seen a 33% increase in customers who are instantly verified, a 77% increase in customers who successfully pass our verification process, and an 85% decrease in customer waiting time for verification.”

24 Crypto Ventures Under FCA Investigation


 
Traders that are used to how things were before regulators started focusing on crypto platforms are understandably angry about the new hoops they have to jump to, but there is no doubt that the companies are under scrutiny and pressure to do so from regulators.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed it is currently investigating two dozen unauthorized cryptocurrency-related ventures and has also opened seven whistle-blower reports in 2018 alone related to companies operating in this field, according to  FT. Responding to a freedom of information request from accountancy and consulting firm Moore Stephens, the FCA said on Friday that the purpose of the investigation is to determine whether these crypto companies might “be carrying on regulated activities that require FCA authorization”.

ICO Marketing Tragedy


Ask.fm, an Irish company with its base of operations in Latvia and Ukraine, has sponsored four cryptocurrency enthusiasts to climb Mount Everest and place a wallet at the summit as part of its ICO marketing campaign. Lama Babu Sherpa, one of the Nepalese natives who helped the climbers, has reportedly been missing since May 14th and is now presumed dead, according to AFP.

The team responded on Saturday: “We are now aware that one of the Sherpas who assisted our group amongst others, went missing during the descent. We wish to clarify conflicting media reports by stating that at the time of this statement being made we have not had any response from the relevant officials confirming the status of the missing Sherpa, and we are not therefore in a position to confirm if he is safe or otherwise. It would be insensitive to make such assumptions and we await, and urge the media to await, confirmation from the relevant authorities. There is no doubt that climbing Everest is challenging and dangerous…The last official update we received was that the condition and location of the missing Sherpa was unknown and it was not our place to make public statements which could have resulted in false information being circulated.”

What do you think about today’s news updates? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 




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One of the largest Bitcoin ATM manufacturers in the world, General Bytes, has recently installed ten new cryptocurrency ATMs throughout the Prague subway in the Czech Republic. Now commuters riding the Prague Metro can purchase digital assets at various locations spread out across the fifth busiest metro system in Europe.

General Bytes Installs Ten Bitcoin ATMs Across the Prague Metro


The Czech Republic-based firm General Bytes has revealed the installation of ten new cryptocurrency ATMs spread out across the Prague Metro. The subway gets more than 1.6 million people in daily foot traffic and is one of the busiest metro systems in Europe. The General Bytes machines are located at Můstek, Nádraží Veleslavín, Dejvická, Florenc, Černý Most, Zličín, Pankrác, Flora, Skalka, and Hlavní Nádraží. Moreover, General Bytes provides a detailed map and description of each location on the website.

The new machines will likely get some use in the region as Prague is considered a booming cryptocurrency hub,  as the area is filled with quite a lot of crypto-enthusiasts. For instance, the area is home to the Crypto Anarchy Institute,  Paralelní Polis, and a few cryptocurrency businesses including the ATM manufacturer General Bytes.

General Bytes Has Manufactured 27% of the World’s Bitcoin ATMs


The Czech government is relatively friendly towards cryptocurrencies and politicians haven’t regulated virtual currencies or defined them as a currency or commodity like other nation states. However, the subject is being discussed among tax officials and the Czech National Bank  wrote a paper last year called “Don’t be Afraid of Bitcoin.” Last year the well known online retailer, Alza, added  cryptocurrency payments and installed two Bitcoin ATMs in the company’s showroom. Just three days ago one of the largest energy suppliers in the Czech Republic, Pražská Plynárenská, announced it was accepting BTC for payments.

   
With the ten new machines, the Czech Republic will now have a total of 46 Cryptocurrency ATMs and 27 of those devices are located in Prague. A large majority of the cryptocurrency automated tellers in the region are manufactured by General Bytes. On the General Bytes site where they announce the newly added Prague Metro machines there’s also a video explaining how to use the BATM 2 automated tellers.According to Coinatmradar out of the 3,122 cryptocurrency ATMs, General Bytes now has 858 worldwide.

What do you think about General Bytes installing ten cryptocurrency ATMs throughout the Prague Metro? Let us know in the comments below. 




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Mathematics questions pertaining to bitcoin have been included in recent high school matriculation examinations in the Netherlands. Approximately 200,000 Dutch students are estimated to have taken the OVW exam, a mandatory test for students seeking tertiary education in the Netherlands, which included five bitcoin-themed questions.

 Dutch High School Examinations Feature Bitcoin-Themed Maths Questions
Dutch
        High School Exam Features Bitcoin-Themed Questions  

According to a rough translation of the examination paper circulating on Reddit, students were given the following question introduction:
“Bitcoin is a digital currency that only exists online. It has existed since January 1st, 2009, and can be used as payment method in web stores and for other online services".

Bitcoin is not, like standard money, made by a central bank. Instead, all bitcoin that exist are created by having computers participate in solving specific mathematical problems. This works as follows: everyone can run special software on his or her computer that participates in solving such a mathematical problem. The owner of the computer that solves the problem receives 25 (newly created) bitcoin as a reward. Because it was the case that in 2014 such a problem is solved every 10 minutes, 25 new bitcoins were created every 10 minutes. On January 1st, there were (approximately) 12.2 million bitcoin.”

Following from the preceding introduction, students were asked to solve five different mathematical problems. The questions asked that students “calculate in what year the amount of bitcoin exceeded 18 million,” “calculate from which year on the reward will be less than one bitcoin,” “determine the maximal amount of bitcoin that can be in circulation,” in addition to posing addition problems based on the formula used to employed to solve the aforementioned questions.

Netherlands Warming to Cryptocurrency


 The test has been offered to students following increasing recognition of cryptocurrency on the part of Holland’s institutions.

During March, the Court of Amsterdam determined that bitcoin possesses “properties of wealth” whilst adjudicating a civil rights case between an individual seeking repayment from an unfulfilled contract pertaining to bitcoin mining. The court concluded that “bitcoin represents a value and is transferable” and “thus shows characteristics of a property right. A claim for payment in Bitcoin is, therefore, to be regarded as a claim that qualifies for verification.”
Earlier this month, the ambassador of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, Rob van Gijzel, presented a national blockchain research agenda, which had been commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. The ministry had created a designated committee, TopTeam ICT, tasked with analyzing the potential legal, economic, and ethical implications of distributed ledger technology in the Netherlands.

Do you think that more schools across the world will seek to integrate themes pertinent to bitcoin into examinations as cryptocurrency adoption grows? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!




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Leading US banking group and financial services firm JPMorgan Chase has recently created and filled the new position of head of crypto-assets strategy, Business Insider reported today, May 17.

London-based Oliver Harris, 29, will take the new role, reporting to the head of blockchaindevelopment, Umar Farooq. Harris will also lead JPMorgan’s internal blockchain project Quorum, which began testing by JP Morgan Chase and the National Bank of Canada last month.

According to Business Insider, Harris will be identifying and leading new crypto projects for the bank, rather than actively trading in cryptocurrencies. He will reportedly investigate crypto custody services and how blockchain could work in JPMorgan’s payments business.  

For the last two years, Harris has been leading JPMorgan’s In Residence program, which identifies and partners with fintech startups that the bank finds promising.

Daniel Pinto, co-president of JPMorgan, has recently taken a positive stance on cryptocurrencies in an interview with CNBC, claiming that the “tokenization” of the financial system is “real”, with “many central banks looking into” it. However, Pinto stressed that crypto adoption is not possible in its “current form”.

In general, the investment banking giant has been skeptical of cryptocurrencies. JPMorgan banned its customers from crypto purchases with credit cards back in February, in addition to including cryptocurrencies to the “Risk Factor” section of its 2017 annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Last year, JPMorgan’s Chairman & CEO Jamie Dimon called Bitcoin (BTC) a “fraud” and claimed that he would fire any employee  trading BTC on the company's accounts. Dimon soon reversedhis position in January, admitting that he regretted his earlier statements and adopting a lukewarm stance toward crypto. Dimon said he is, “not interested that much in [crypto] at all.”




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On May 15, 2018, the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network upgraded the chain’s base block from 8MB to 32MB. The software advancement makes blocks big enough to process lots of transactions over time — which gives developers plenty of breathing room to adjust the if it starts getting closer to its limit. Unfortunately, many misdirected individuals assume the BCH chain will start processing 32MB blocks right away, which could lead to a blockchain that’s much larger in gigabyte and takes longer to download. However, this is not the case right now at all, because BCH miners process blocks that are often still under 1MB, as the 32MB code is only set to ensure the network is capable in the future.

The Successful 32MB Block Size Increase Paves a Path for Mass Adoption

After the Bitcoin Cash network upgraded yesterday and even before the fork, a few misguided individuals asked why there was a need to raise the block fourfold when 8MB blocks were not filling just yet. The reason developers raised the limit to 32MB is likely because the software is perfectly capable of handling such a task in the future.

Right now block limits are set by the miner, and developers are there to help set the capacity so blocks cannot get full in the immediate future, and fees will remain low for quite some time. Unfortunately for the Bitcoin Core (BTC) network, Core developers let the block fill beyond capacity, and fees became unreliableduring the last quarter of 2017. The 32MB BCH block adjustment ensures this will not happen to the BCH network down the road, even when transaction usage becomes as extreme as 2017’s last quarter.

32MB Blocks Means Bitcoin Cash is Prepared for Mass Adoption
The Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community and developers are not afraid of forks and protocol upgrades. The May 15th upgrade is the second successful hard fork on the BCH network.

Looking at BCH blocks on Coin Dance — a website which records BCH chain data currently shows that mining limits are being set by the mining pool. Over the past nine months, there have been a few 2,4, and 8MB blocks processed, but typically blocks have been a megabyte or less. So in essence, once miners decide its necessary to increase the blocks they process, they will do so based on transactions and adoption increasing over time. In fact, current data also shows the Bitcoin Core (BTC) chain is still 34.4GB larger than the Bitcoin Cash chain.

 Transaction Data Shows Daily BCH Transactions Has Increased by 186% in Nine Months  

At the moment Bitcoin Cash transactions per day are less than BTC as there are roughly 20-25,000 daily BCH transactions. But there’s also been a misdirected notion that the BCH chain isn’t getting much use, but this is simply untrue as data shows over the past nine months that BCH daily transaction percentage rates have increased.

The decentralized currency BCH has seen a steady incline (186%) of use since the August 1 fork and the expansion of BCH transactions are now only5-10,000 transactions less per day than the Litecoin (LTC) network — a cryptocurrency that has been around for 7 years. This is due in part to many Bitcoin Cash-based on-chain platforms like the tipping bot Tippr, the social media apps Memo and Blockpress, and other applications that help increase BCH usage.

In just nine months Bitcoin Cash has more than doubled its transaction count, and the BCH daily transaction rate is just below LTC’s daily transactions per day.

32X the Capacity is Merely Preparation for the Future of Bitcoin Cash Adoption

Essentially the bottom line is the software is now capable of processing 32MB blocks as it was previously capable of 8MB blocks. So far BCH miners had proven the capability of mining much larger blocks than 1MB multiple times, clearing thousands of transactions from the mempool. After the successful fork on May 15, some BCH supporters are already asking developers to remove the block limit entirely.

Moreover, we know from testing that the Bitcoin software is capable of processing gigabyte blocks, and research studies further suggest the network could handle terabyte blocks as well. Unlike other digital asset developers, BCH programmers have set the bar high for capacity based on the known advancements in scaling a cryptocurrency network. Instead of saying “we don’t need to scale now,” the 32MB increase establishes a base block that can efficiently handle 32X more transactions than the BTC network’s highest daily transaction rate recorded this past December.

What do you think about the 32MB block upgrade? Do you think that the developers should remove the capacity limit entirely? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.




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