Coinbase Deny IPO Rumors as Crypto Giant Closes $300 Million Series E

Coinbase announced a $300 million fundraising round on Tuesday, October 30, which puts the San Francisco-based company’s new valuation at $8 billion and makes it one of the most highly valued startups in the United States. However, in an interview with Bloomberg TV following the announcement, Coinbase President and Chief Operating Officer, Asiff Hirji, said […]
Source: Forklog




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New Zealand Gov’t-Backed Institute Issues Grant to Crypto Wallet and Trading Service

New Zealand government-backed innovation institute Callaghan Innovation issued a grant for $330,000 to a domestic crypto wallet and trading service.

 

New Zealand’s state-backed innovation institute Callaghan Innovation awarded a $330,000 grant to a local crypto wallet and trading service, according to a press release published Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Callaghan Innovation issued an “R&D Project Grant” to local crypto wallet and trading platform Vimba, a rebranded version of former MyCryptoSaver. Following the grant, the crypto startup is reportedly set to expand its offerings, as well as to list more cryptocurrencies and enable multi-signature crypto wallets.

R&D Project Grants are a type of co-funding for a research and development project. A Callaghan Innovation spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the grants fund up to 40 percent of a project, and that 355 such grants were approved during the last fiscal year.

Founded in 2014 as MyBitcoinSaver, Auckland-based Vimba platform offers New Zealand residents with limited weekly investments in major cryptocurrencies Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Since its launch, Vimba has underwent two investment rounds, and will reportedly launch services in the U.K. in the coming weeks.

Vimba CEO Sam Blackmore commented that firm’s client base has “remained very stable” despite the bearish market this year. Blackmore also expressed company’s belief that Bitcoin will “at least reach the market cap of gold,” due to being a “more efficient, more accessible, more secure version of that rare asset.”

The neighboring state of Australia has also awarded government grants to crypto and blockchain startups. In August, the government of the state of Queensland issued a grant to a crypto travel startup called TravebyBit as part of over $8.3 million in innovation funding. The company would purportedly boost tourism to the state by selling travel offers with cryptocurrencies.

In July, the Queensland Cane Growers Organization received a $1.7 million government grant to implement blockchain technology for tracking the provenance of sugar supplies.

Source: Coin Telegraph




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South Korea Cracks Down on Unauthorized Cryptocurrency Funds

South Korea Cracks Down on Unauthorized Cryptocurrency Funds

South Korean financial regulators are cracking down on unauthorized cryptocurrency funds. In particular, one crypto fund launched by a local exchange is reportedly being investigated. The exchange claims no wrongdoing as its token activities were carried out overseas, but has promptly canceled its plan to launch a second fund.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Unauthorized Crypto Funds

South Korea Cracks Down on Unauthorized Cryptocurrency FundsSouth Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) have warned investors of unauthorized cryptocurrency funds. The warning followed the launch of a financial product where “cryptocurrencies collected from some investors are managed through initial coin offerings (ICO), and profits are distributed at their expiration dates,” Business Korea described.

The regulators specifically referred to the fund launched last month by crypto exchange Zeniex called “ZXG Crypto Fund No. 1,” which is “the first virtual currency fund in Korea,” the publication detailed, noting:

The virtual currency fund has never been registered with the Financial Supervisory Service … None of the management company, sales company and the trustee have been approved by the Financial Services Commission.

Maeil business newspaper reported on Tuesday that “The financial authorities have handed over the circumstantial data for the investigation to the prosecution.”

South Korea Cracks Down on Unauthorized Cryptocurrency FundsZeniex explained that while funding was made through its platform, “the actual recruitment and token issuance were made by overseas management companies,” the news outlet conveyed. Noting that less than 1 billion won ($878,080) has been raised, the company believes that there was no reporting obligation. An official of the exchange was quoted asserting:

An indirect investment in a virtual currency fund is an attractive tool to raise market soundness … It’s unfortunate that innovative attempts will not continue until the government’s guidelines are set.

The South Korean government banned ICOs in September last year but has yet to introduce guidelines for them. A number of proposals have been submitted to the National Assembly and the government is expected to announce its ICO stance in November.

Zeniex’s Funds and Capital Markets Law

South Korea Cracks Down on Unauthorized Cryptocurrency FundsBusiness Korea explained that under the Korean Capital Markets Act, all investment funds must be registered with the FSS.

In addition, “Public offering funds that collect funds from general investors must file securities reports,” and “an asset management company that manages a fund and the fund sales company that sells it have to obtain necessary financial approval,” the publication detailed.

The company must also “honor regulations on business practices such as the maintenance of minimum capital for soundness and the prevention of conflicts of interest and [has] a duty to explain to investors.”

As for Zeniex’s fund, an FSS official was quoted by Maeil saying, “It is the interpretation of the authorities that the fund must follow the investor protection system set out in the capital markets law as long as it is sold to domestic financial consumers.” However, the official admitted:

There is no way to check whether the platform is operating as claimed by Zeniex, because the financial authorities have no regulatory authority at present.

Zeniex had planned to launch its second fund this month. However, the company issued a statement on Monday stating that “The authorities are concerned that there is room for illegality,” adding that it “will completely cancel the launch of the second product because it could lead to misunderstandings of investors and regulators.” Local media then reported on Tuesday that Zeniex has canceled the launch of its second fund.

What do you think of South Korean regulators cracking down on unauthorized crypto funds? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Zeniex.


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The post South Korea Cracks Down on Unauthorized Cryptocurrency Funds appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Source: Bitcoin News




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Chinese Retail Giant JD.com Launches Blockchain Research Lab

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has partnered with two technology institutes to launch a blockchain research lab to examine new applications of the technology.

Chinese retail giant JD.com is further gaining a foothold in blockchain technology by launching a research lab for blockchain in partnership with two technology institutes, according to an announcement published Oct. 30.

Jingdong Group (JD.com) is a leading Chinese e-commerce company, controlling roughly 30 percent of the business-to-consumer online market in China with 314 million active users, according to Financial Times. The company focuses on implementation of new technologies in e-commerce, delivery services, and finance.

Per the announcement, JD has collaborated with the Ying Wu College of Computing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS) to establish a blockchain technology lab. The lab will be geared towards solving efficiency problems and examining new applications for the technology.

Among other objectives of the lab, JD cites long-term joint research efforts in fundamental consensus protocols, privacy protection, and security in decentralized applications (DApps). Zhong Hua, deputy director of the Software Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, stated that “through this partnership we will bring about blockchain innovation and promote industrial applications of blockchain technology.”

Last month, JD established the Smart City Research Institute at its headquarters in Nanjing aimed at facilitating the development of “smart city” construction with the use of artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and blockchain technologies. The Institute will reportedly influence “the entire East China region” and aims to reduce industry costs and increase efficiency.

In August, JD revealed its new Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform dubbed JD Blockchain Open Platform. The new product is designed to help commercial customers to build, host and implement blockchain solutions without having to develop the technology from scratch.

Moreover, in August the company revealed plans to issue asset-backed securities (ABSs) on a blockchain in conjunction with Huatai Securities and Xingye Bank. Within the collaboration, the partners would purportedly assess blockchain’s potential to improve asset security.

Source: Coin Telegraph




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Bitstamp Is Looking Towards ‘Global Expansion’ After Being Acquired by South Korean Investors

Bitstamp has been acquired by Brussels-based investment firm.

On October 29, the cryptocurrency exchange, Bitstamp, was acquired by Belgium-based investment firm NXMH, which in turn, is owned by South Korean media conglomerate NXC Corp.

The Luxembourg-registered exchange is now controlled by the same company that bought the majority stake in the South Korean crypto exchange, Korbit, last year, while its CEO remains in office to continue with Bitstamp’s “global expansion.”

Brief history of Bitstamp, Europe’s oldest and most legally compliant crypto exchange

Bitstamp was launched in August 2011 by Nejc Kodrič and Damijan Merlak in their native Slovenia. As Kodrič recalled in an interview, their business started out in a garage “with an initial capital of just a thousand euros, two laptops and a server.” The idea to open up an exchange came to the entrepreneurs after they experienced difficulties buying Bitcoin in Europe.

As they told Forbes, when they were originally registering their exchange with a Slovenian bank in 2011, it didn’t object because people in Slovenia “didn’t know what Bitcoin was.” In April 2013, Kodrič and Merlak outsourced support, compliance, and legal needs to the U.K., because they couldn’t do all the screening “necessary to keep bad guys out” in their home country. Bitstamp was now a UK registered limited company.

In 2016, Bitstamp became Europe’s first fully legal crypto exchange after it received a license from Luxembourg to operate as a payment institution. To receive the document, the exchange went through two years of various checks, including an audit by Ernst & Young. Being a compliant business, Bitstamp has stuck to strict Know-Your-Customer (KYC) principles.

In 2017, Bitstamp became one of four crypto exchanges that provides the CME Group with pricing data for its Bitcoin futures trading. Kodrič told Cointelegraph at the time:

“It’s essential that we ensure that all data provided does not include any forms of manipulation that could affect the index. We’re proud that we’ve earned the trust of the industry and were chosen to be a part of the new Bitcoin futures market.”

Security seems to be one of the main priorities for Bitstamp, especially after the 2015 hack, when the exchange lost 19,000 BTC (around $5 million at the time). The fraudsters stole the funds from Bitstamp’s hot wallet in a typical phishing attack — the exchange employees received personal emails and Skype messages from seemingly friendly sources. As a result, the person responsible for security, Bitstamp system administrator Luka Kodrich, downloaded malware onto the work computer, which led to the exchange’s security getting breached.

Compensation did not follow, but the security regime was significantly toughened. Specifically, carrying out transactions on Bitstamp now requires using multisignature, and 98 percent of the cryptocurrency is stored in a cold wallet.

Established back in 2011, Bitstamp is the oldest active crypto exchange in the world. It is currently ranked 26th on CoinMarketCap, seeing around $65,858,358 in trades in the 24 hours before press time. Kodrič told Reuters their volume has been down between 60-70 percent comparing to previous years, but stressed that Bitstamp remained profitable in 2018 because current cryptocurrency prices were still higher than they were for most of last year.

Buyout details: Kodrič remains CEO, investor ‘helps with global expansion’

On October 29, Reuters reported that Bitstamp has been acquired by Brussels-based investment firm NXMH in an “all cash deal.” Prior to that, the exchange had raised a total of about $14 million from investors including Pantera Capital, which invested $10 million in Bitstamp in 2014.

NXMH is a family investment holding which has over 2 billion euros in assets “managing the wealth of an Asian tech entrepreneur,” as per its Linkedin profile. It was founded in 2011 and focuses on European consumer and tech investments. The firm is a subsidiary of South Korea-based media giant NXC Corp, which bought a 65.19 percent stake in South Korean crypto exchange Korbit last year.

The deal between NXMH and Bitstamp was reportedly finalized on October 25. Whilst Kodrič declined to share the full terms to the media, he informed Reuters that in 2016 Bitstamp was valued at $60 million, up from $39 million in 2014. Interestingly, in March 2018 the exchange was rumored to be “in the final stages” of being acquired by South Korean investors (of which NXMH is technically a subsidiary) for $400 million.

NXMH now has an 80 percent stake in Bitstamp, with Kodrič retaining his 10 percent ownership interest and staying on as CEO. NXMH has also reportedly obtained “part” of Pantera Capital’s $10 million stake in the exchange, however it will keep a six percent ownership stake in the exchange. Kodrič’s co-founder, Damian Merlak, has reportedly sold all of his 30 percent stake in the exchange in the NXMH deal. According to Kodrič, his co-founder has “not been active since 2015.”

Bitstamp CEO does not believe anything will change for either the exchange’s customers or its 180 employees following the acquisition, as he told Fortune:

“We have kind of the same opinion as NXMH — why change something if it works perfectly well?”

He added that a merger between Bitstamp and Korbit (both owned by one parent company NXC Corp.) was in the talks, but the parties decided to run the exchange separately in the end. The crypto exchanges still plan to share technology, research, and development resources, according to Kodrič.

NXMH was one of four interested bidders for Bitstamp in a process that began in “mid-2017.” He added that they initially struck the deal last December, as the price of Bitcoin was peaking near $20,000, and it took several months for the companies to receive regulatory approval for the arrangement.

Kodrič claims that he and Merlak “were not looking to sell,” and “were definitely not looking for investment because they “didn’t need to raise the capital.” Nevertheless, he took the opportunity to cash out on the majority of his share in the company while keeping 10 percent and remaining the CEO:

“[Bitstamp and NXMH] were very much aligned—where we see the industry going and what the company wants to be […] They’re willing to help us along the way, and help us with our global expansion.”

Other major acquisitions of 2018: Poloniex, BitTrade, Bithumb

Earlier in February, Goldman Sachs-backed, Circle startup, acquired the US-based Poloniex crypto exchange for $400 million.

In late May, Japanese crypto exchange BitTrade was acquired for S$67 million ($50 million) by a Singaporean multi-millionaire and entrepreneur, Eric Cheng. After purchasing a 100 percent stake in the company, Cheng became the first foreign investor to own an exchange licensed by Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA).

On August 31, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, with a market capitalization of over $12.5 billion, revealed a 265 million yen ($2.4 million) deal to acquire domestic crypto exchange, Everybody’s Bitcoin.

In October, BK Global Consortium, a group led by one of South Korea’s leading plastic surgeons, Dr. Kim Byung Gun, closed a deal to obtain “50 percent plus one share” of BTC Holding Co. – the largest investor in Bithumb crypto exchange. According to Bloomberg, the purchase was settled at around 400 billion won ($352 million) and will be finalized in February 2019.

Source: Coin Telegraph




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