Archive January 2019

Huobi Exchange Hires Compliance Chief From Global Bank State Street

Huobi, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange by monthly trading volume, has hired a senior professional from a major U.S.-based global bank. Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Elaine Sun Ye Lin, former head of compliance for the Chinese branch of State Street, joined the Singapore-based exchange as a compliance director last month. According to Huobi spokesperson Jiayi Li, Sun will direct Huobi’s compliance efforts globally. As regulators in different countries are paying ever-closer attention at crypto, Huobi hopes to benefit from Sun’s expertise in working with government bodies around the world, the company said. “We are happy to welcome Elaine into the Huobi family. Her expertise in compliance and in traditional financial markets will definitely be an asset to the company as we look to ensure our compliance and work with regulatory bodies,” Fu Liting, HR director of Huobi Group, said through a spokesperson. Sun worked at State Street for more than six years and earlier worked at a Singapore-based OCBC bank in the Shanghai City office, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Attracting talent

Neil Dundon, director of CryptoRecruit, the specialized headhunter firm that recruited Sun for Huobi, told CoinDesk the flow of IT and finance professionals into the crypto space has become a robust trend. “CryptoRecruit has noticed a huge increase in the number of people from traditional banks who are extremely receptive when we approach them for potential job opportunities in crypto,” he said. “Developers have been moving over from tech firms since last year but to see bankers making the move is reassuring as to where the future of this industry is headed.” Indeed, a number of former Wall Street veterans and alumni of major traditional finance companies recently joined blockchain- and crypto-related startups. Last year, Coinbase on-boarded a bunch of former Wall Street execs, like Brian Brooks from Fannie Mae, Chris Dodds from Charles Schwab, Oputa Ezediaro from JPMorgan, Eric Scro from the New York Stock Exchange and Christine Sandler from Barclays. This month, a former vice chairman of NASDAQ Europe, Hans-Ole Jocumsen, joined the Swiss-based non-profit Concordium Foundation, which is building an AML/KYC-compliant blockchain. Source: www.coindesk.com

IBM, Aetna, PNC Explore Medical Data Blockchain for 100 Million Health Plans

IBM is collaborating with a group of major players in the healthcare space to improve the way sensitive data is shared and make health claims and transactions more efficient – all in the form of a “blockchain-based ecosystem.” Announced today, Big Blue is joined in this effort by Aetna (acquired last November by pharmacy and health plan provider CVS Health), health plan provider Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation (the largest customer-owned health insurance provider in the U.S.) and PNC Bank. These providers combined account for close to 100 million healthcare plans. IBM said additional members will join the Health Utility Network in the coming months, including other health organizations, healthcare providers, startups, and technology companies. Barbara Hayes, IBM general manager for payers at IBM Watson Health told CoinDesk: “IBM is one of the founding members, but everybody has an equal stake across those founding members. It’s so important because you do have competitors side by side who are going after tremendous amounts of waste that is in the healthcare system; 40 cents, 50 cents on the dollar.” Hayes said transforming industries such as healthcare means going after insights and advanced predictions using data and eliminating waste or inefficiencies. “In healthcare, these inefficiencies are in clinical areas and in administrative areas – or just friction that happens in the system which leads to bad customer experience,” she said. Dr. Bill Lafontaine, IBM, general manager of intellectual property, added: “We are going to provide the SDKs and other ways to link to the platform. We are leaving this very open because many of the members are bringing different technologies that they have already been investing in and so they get a faster return on that investment.”

Competing projects

However, IBM is far from the only tech firm trying to leverage the immutability and transparency of blockchain for the siloed and fragmented healthcare industry. Other prominent names in blockchain healthcare include Change Healthcare, Hashed Health, Guardtime, Gem and SimplyVital – to name a few. In such a busy space it’s not surprising IBM is faced with some consortia competition. For example, in April of last year, Humana and United Health Group, two of the largest health insurers, teamed up on a blockchain pilot with data providers Quest Diagnostics, Multiplan and Optum. Another healthcare blockchain called ProCredEx launched in November last year. It focuses on storing and sharing the credentials of medical and dental practitioners and is expected to save time and costs within the industry. Outside of healthcare, PNC Bank has been public about its blockchain activities, joining a group of banks exploring Ripple’s xCurrent payment system for cross-border transactions. Chris Ward, head of product for PNC Treasury Management, said in a statement that the healthcare collaboration with IBM will make it easier for the patient, payer and provider to handle payments, adding,
“Using this technology, we can remove friction, duplication, and administrative costs that continue to plague the industry.”
Source: www.coindesk.com

Suspect Behind $11 Million Crypto Theft Arrested in Europol-Led Operation

An investigation by EU law enforcement agency Europol and British and German police agencies has led to the arrest of a 36-year-old man suspected of carrying out a spate of crypto thefts. Europol announced Wednesday that the British man is suspected of stealing around €10 million ($11.34 million) worth of iota tokens in January 2018 from the wallets of over 85 victims worldwide. An investigation was launched in early 2018 after reports a number of thefts from iota wallets in Germany. Hessen State Police ultimately traced the possible suspect to the U.K. and a coordinated operation led by the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, hosted by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, was launched. The UK’s South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and National Crime Agency (NCA) also participated in the operation. The investigation found that the thefts took place by targeting users of a now-defunct website that created 81-digit security seeds for iota wallets, according to the announcement. Europol said:
“Several victims created the seed on this website in good faith, however the seeds were stored in the background by the service provider. Later the criminal used these to gain access to the victims’ wallets and transferred their money to other wallets created with fake IDs.”
SEROCU arrested the man on suspicion of fraud, theft and money laundering in the city of Oxford yesterday and also seized a number of computers and electronic devices. Back in September, Europol warned against the rising threats of crypto hacks, extortion and mining malware, saying that the holdings of those using digital currencies, as well as exchanges, are increasingly at risk as “criminal abuse” of the financial technology grows. The agency also arrested 11 individuals last April for laundering more than €8 million (or $9 million) from Spain to Colombia through an unnamed cryptocurrency and credit cards via a Finnish crypto exchange. Source: www.coindesk.com

Hong Kong Stock Exchange CEO Casts Doubt on Crypto Miner IPO Filings

New comments from the chief executive of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) may have dampened the hopes of several cryptocurrency mining giants that have filed for initial public offerings (IPOs). According to a report from Tencent’s news portal Finance.QQ on Thursday, HKEX CEO Charles Li Xiaojia said that companies seeking to list on the stock exchange must have a “sustainable” business model. While Li did not talk about specific company applications, he answered in general about HKEX listing requirements in a response to a question on the crypto miner IPO filings from the news source. Three top crypto mining companies, Bitmain, Canaan and Ebang, have all filed to list on the HKEX, but none has received approval to date. Li said that, if a company has made billions of dollars through one business, then suddenly says it will do some other business without demonstrating past performance, it could mean that the company’s first business model is “not sustainable.” If so, the question for the HKEX is, “Can you still do this business, can you make this money?” The HKEX will “adhere to the principle of market adaptability” when reviewing companies’ IPO applications, including those of crypto miners, he added. Bitmain filed its IPO application with the HKEX in September of last year, while Canaan and Ebang filed in May and June, respectively. There have already been signs that the HKEX is reluctant to approve Bitmain’s IPO, however. Last month, a person involved in the talks told CoinDesk that the exchange is “very hesitant to actually approve these bitcoin mining companies because the industry is so volatile.” Ebang, on the other hand, refiled its draft IPO prospectus last month, but stated in the filing that it saw “significant decreases” in revenue and gross profit in Q3 2018. With the delays, Canaan is now reportedly considering an IPO in the U.S., which could launch in the first half of this year in New York, although the process is still in its early stages. Source: www.coindesk.com

Lawmakers Pitch New Crypto Tax Payments Bill in New Hampshire

A pair of New Hampshire lawmakers filed a bill this month that, if approved, would let state-level agencies accept cryptocurrencies as payment, including the state’s tax office. Representatives Dennis Acton and Michael Yakubovich introduced House Bill 470 on Jan. 3, which seeks to require New Hampshire’s state agencies accept cryptocurrencies for taxes and other fees through a third-party entity. If passed, the bill would give the state treasurer until Nov. 1, 2019 to develop a plan for these agencies to begin integrating such payments. Under current New Hampshire regulations, only U.S. dollars may be accepted by state agencies for payments at present, and any other currencies used would be returned to the sender. If the bill passes, it would allow these agencies to accept an undetermined number and type of cryptocurrencies through “an appropriate third party payment processor that will process cryptocurrency transactions at no cost to the state.” “Assuming legislation is approved to amend this statute, the issues of valuation and currency risk are heightened by the volatility of cryptocurrency (bitcoin) fluctuations in value against the U.S. dollar,” the bill’s text explains, going on to state:
“Tax payments received by the state would need to be converted to U.S. dollars or alternatively, mitigate such risk by continually monitoring cryptocurrency levels held by the state to ensure there is as much demand for state payments to vendors and payees as the state has in its ‘inventory’.”
If implemented, New Hampshire agencies would start accepting cryptocurrencies on July 1, 2020. A hearing was scheduled for Jan. 23, according to public records, but as of press time, there is no recording of that hearing yet available.

Past bill didn’t pass

New Hampshire’s legislature has previously debated the merits of accepting bitcoin for taxes. A 2015 bill directed the state to partner with a bitcoin startup to accept payments made using the cryptocurrency. Public records indicated at the time that the bill died in committee, having previously faced opposition from some lawmakers at the time. Other efforts, in states like Arizona, had progressed before falling to the wayside as well. Should New Hampshire pass the measure, the state would join Ohio in accepting bitcoin payments. The Buckeye State announced last year that it would accept bitcoin for taxes through an online portal. Ohio partnered with BitPay to convert any bitcoins submitted into U.S. dollars. It is unclear how many companies have done so to date, though digital retailer Overstock became the first major firm to do so earlier this year. On Jan. 3, the company announced it would pay a portion of its 2019 taxes using bitcoin. Source: www.coindesk.com

Gold Price May Offer Clues About Next Big Bitcoin Move

Bitcoin (BTC) traders could get cues from an apparent negative correlation that has developed between bitcoin and gold prices. Gold picked up a strong bid at $1,196 on Nov. 13 and jumped to $1,300 on Jan. 4, possibly due to a sell-off in the weakening U.S. dollar. The greenback was down against most currencies in last two months of 2018 on growing speculation that the Federal Reserve (Fed) could decrease or pause interest rate hikes in 2019. Bitcoin, however, did not benefit from that broad-based sell-off in the dollar. The cryptocurrency instead saw a revived bear market with a convincing move below $6,000 on Nov. 14 – a day after gold found takers around $1,200 per ounce. That price action indicates that the two assets are inversely correlated. Validating that argument is the 90-day correlation coefficient of -0.593. The statistical measure ranges from -1 to 1, with a negative number representing the inverse relationship between the two variables, while a positive number implies direct correlation. As a result, the leading cryptocurrency by market value could be influenced by the next move in gold prices. Currently, the safe haven metal is trading at $1,285, having hit a three-week low of $1,276 earlier this week. Meanwhile, BTC is trading in a narrow range above $3,500 for the 13th straight day. The prolongedperiod of consolidation could end with a strong bullish move if the corrective pullback in gold worsens. It is worth noting that correlation is not causation and only describes the relative change in one variable when there is a change in another.

Bitcoin and gold chart

As seen above, bitcoin and gold have moved in opposite directions since late November. Gold rallied 8.33 percent in seven weeks leading up to Jan. 4. During the same time, BTC depreciated by 50 percent. Further, gold’s repeated failure at $1,300 has established that psychological level as a stiff near-term resistance. Meanwhile, BTC has defended $3,500 since Jan. 11. The cryptocurrency could see a strong bullish move if the pullback in the yellow metal gathers steam.

Bitcoin daily chart

On the daily chart, BTC created a “long-tailed” candle at the crucial support of $3,500, signaling bearish exhaustion. A positive follow-through – that is, a convincing move above $3,615 (Tuesday’s low) – would confirm bullish bias.

View

  • Bitcoin and gold look to be inversely correlated and sustained weakness in gold could bode well for BTC going forward.
  • As far as technicals are concerned, the immediate bias remains bearish, as indicated by the downward sloping 10-week MA. The prospects of a break higher toward $4,000 would improve if prices close today (as per UTC) above $3,615.
Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing. Source: www.coindesk.com

Ripple Partners With Chinese University for Blockchain Research Program

Ripple has partnered with a top Chinese university for a blockchain research program. The Institute for Fintech Research (THUIFR) at Tsinghua University in Beijing announced last week that the scholarship program would focus on global regulatory policies and blockchain development. Selected students will also get to participate in corporate visits and events. Ivy Gao, director of international cooperation and development at the university, said that the initiative is aimed to provide students a “comprehensive view” of global blockchain regulatory policies, adding that he believes it would help students with their “future research or career in the field of blockchain technology.” Eric van Miltenburg, Ripple’s SVP of global operations, said:
“The program’s goal – to provide students with opportunities in blockchain research – closely aligns with that of Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative; we’re thrilled to support THUIFR in this endeavor and look forward to its launch.”
Back in June, Ripple announced it was putting over $50 million into academic research into blockchain through the university initiative. It partnered with 17 universities from across the globe at the time, including institutions in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, India and South Korea. Blockchain research projects from educational institutions around the world have received funding support from government agencies as well. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced federal funding of up to $4.8 million for universities working on R&D projects, including those related to blockchain. Source: www.coindesk.com

London Stock Exchange’s Trading Tech to Power New Crypto Exchange

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is providing the trade-matching technology for an upcoming cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong. The LSE Group announced Tuesday that its Millennium Exchange matching engine has been chosen to power AAX, a new exchange platform being launched by Hong Kong-based fintech firm ATOM Group. AAX is scheduled to be launched in the first half of this year and will be the first crypto exchange to use the matching engine product, according to the LSE. According to a separate statement from the ATOM Group on Tuesday, the LSE Group also provides tech solutions to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) and Singapore Exchange (SGX). ATOM Group CEO Peter Lin said that Millennium Exchange will help AXA build a platform that ensures “safe, trusted and secure” trading for both retail and institutional investors. It will also enable AAX to provide a “scalable” and “compliant” crypto trading platform, the firm said. For security solutions to protect the upcoming exchange, ATOM Group said it will partner with the U.S.-based cybersecurity firm Kroll. Crypto trading platforms are increasingly looking to source their infrastructure from traditional stock exchange companies. Last April, crypto exchange Gemini partnered with Nasdaq to use its SMARTS Market Surveillance technology to automatically detect any possible price manipulation or other illicit activities. Recently launched tokenized shares trading platform DX.Exchange also harnesses a matching engine product from Nasdaq. Conversely, the LSE has been looking at blockchain tech for some time, although unlike some stock exchanges like the ASX, it has not moved to adopt the tech so far. However, in mid-2017, one of its subsidiaries teamed up with IBM for a trial using blockchain in digitizing both securities ownership and the capital structure of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Source: www.coindesk.com

Bitcoin Sees Longest Stretch of Price Consolidation Since October

Bitcoin (BTC) is witnessing the longest stretch of range-bound price activity in three months. The leading cryptocurrency by market capitalization has been largely restricted to trading between $3,700 and $3,500 since Jan. 11 – the longest stretch at such a narrow range since the end of October. Back then, the market had gone quiet, with prices staying within the $6,500–$6,350 range in the 12 days leading up to Oct. 28. On the following day, BTC dropped to $6,208. After another period of sideways movement, bitcoin fell well below the crucial support level of $6,000 on Nov. 14. The current period of consolidation may also end with a big move to the downside, as BTC reinforced the primary bearish trend – as represented by the downward sloping 10-week moving average – with a 10 percent slide on Jan. 10. The potential post-breakdown drop toward December lows near $3,100 could be rapid, too, as a prolonged period of consolidation often ends with a violent move. As of writing, the cryptocurrency is trading at $3,515 on Bitstamp, representing a 0.40 percent drop on a 24-hour basis.

Daily chart

As seen above, BTC’s 12-day-long range play is the longest since Oct. 28. Back then, Bollinger bands (standard deviation of +2,-2 on the 20-day moving average) were flat-lined, representing a neutral bias. As of now, Bollinger bands are signaling a bearish bias with a slight tilt to the downside. Another major difference is that prices had consolidated around the 20-day MA in October. This time, however, the moving average is working as stiff resistance, as indicated by BTC’s failure to secure a UTC close above that level on Jan. 19.

Weekly chart

The outlook remains bearish while BTC is held below the downward sloping 10-week moving average (MA), currently at $3,715. The long upper shadow (spread between high and close) attached to the previous weekly candle indicates that the “sell-on-rise” mentality is still intact, meaning the brief price bounce soon ran into offers. That candle also confirmed the end of a corrective bounce from December lows signaled by the preceding bearish engulfing candle.

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  • Bitcoin’s longest stretch of price consolidation will likely end with a convincing break below $3,500 and could be followed by a re-test of the December low of $3,122.
  • The bearish case would weaken if the cryptocurrency sees a UTC close above the former-support-turned resistance of the 21-day MA, currently at $3,732.
Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing. Source: www.coindesk.com

South Korean Exchange Loses $5 Million in Accidental Bitcoin Airdrop

South Korean crypto exchange Coinnest is looking to take back cryptocurrencies accidentally sent to clients in an airdrop. The exchange announced last week that some 6 billion Korean won (around $5.3 million) in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were sent to customers due to a computer error, according to CoinDesk Korea. The exchange was trying to airdrop We Game Tokens (WGT) when the incident occurred. Further, due to the server issue, some customers also received Korean won from the exchange. The exchange has no plans to compensate users for any losses suffered through its server issues. Coinnest’s server issues were resolved by Jan. 19, and the company plans to roll back transactions to restore its assets. It has also asked customers to return funds they received by mistake. As of Jan. 19, about half of the won was returned. Some traders who received bitcoin instead of WGT reportedly sold their new holdings immediately, causing bitcoin’s price to flash-crash to $50. Coinnest has found itself embroiled in controversy before. Last year, CEO Kim Ik-hwan was reportedly detained by South Korean police on concerns that he was embezzling funds from the exchange. Prosecutors had already raided the exchange, though it is unclear if any confirmation of embezzlement was found.

Source: www.coindesk.com