Crypto Investor: Mainstream Has Almost Entirely Forgotten About Bitcoin

Bitcoin (BTC) became all the rage in late-2017, as the crypto asset surged to all-time highs, backed by an influx of naive, but money-hungry retail investors. And while many have argued that the project is stronger than ever, specifically in terms of fundamental factors (not price), it has become ostensibly apparent that the hype train is slowing, if it hasn’t already stalled at no man’s land.

The Bitcoin Hype Train Has Slowed

Chris Burniske, a leading cryptocurrency proponent, analyst, and researcher commented on this industry occurrence via Twitter in a slightly harrowing, yet cautiously optimistic thread. Burniske, who is a partner at Placeholder Venture Capital and co-authored “Cryptoassets,” noted that the mainstream “has almost entirely forgotten about Bitcoin again.”

Last year, the words “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain” occupied the computer monitors (or phone screens) of nearly every breathing human in the Western world. Mainstream media outlets, like CNBC, Bloomberg, and CNN, were covering the topic incessantly, while crypto’s very own content creators saw their subscriber counts soar to the noon. Yet, now, one fateful year after BTC peaked in value, all this clamor has died down to a mere murmur.

Gone are the days that “Bitcoin” was a popular word at the dinner table, as mainstream media outlets, the CNBC Fast Money segment, in particular, have slowed their coverage to a near-halt. Burniske touched on this, noting that via “conversations with people from home,” the crypto boom is still tangible in their minds, but the subsequent bust wasn’t observed.

He added that it isn’t all doom and gloom, as there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of new “decision makers” that gained knowledge of the crypto industry. Moreover, the diehards, developers, investors, and forward-thinking innovators still invest capital (both human and financial) in cryptocurrencies and related ventures. The Placeholder partner, formerly of ARK Invest’s crypto arm, wrote:

“And the technologists & financial folks that feed off the bleeding edge continue to pay attention, invest, or build, just as happened in 2015.”

Then again, retail investors en-masse have removed Coinmarketcap from their bookmark list, purged their Coinbase and Binance accounts, and unfollowed crypto’s most eccentric commentators on Twitter. As put by Burniske, “for most, crypto is still not relevant to their life.”

What Will Revive Crypto?

Yet, Burniske noted that he pointed out this thematic development to accentuate the fact that cryptocurrencies are still nascent, and that a majority of primary users in this industry are “developers and investors.” And as such, the former Ark Invest analyst claimed that there’s so much upside in store, which should leave participants excited, rather than disheartened.

So what will revive retail interest in crypto?

Well, forays from Wall Street, for one, will likely push the mainstream to follow the cryptosphere again. The impending launch of Bakkt’s physically-backed Bitcoin futures, coupled with institutional-centric platforms from Fidelity Investments, could push adoption yet again.

A Bitcoin exchange-traded fund based in the U.S. could be a bullish catalyst. But, a solid regulatory framework would arguably just as good as an ETF, as clarity would push innovators to double-down on their efforts. Yet, all this is likely months, if not over a year away. So cryptocurrency investors may need to sit on their hands for now, even if markets continue to stumble.

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Ethereum Developer ConsenSys Partners With AMD To Bolster Blockchain Industry

Although the crypto market has stagnated, the startups driving the blockchain boat have continued to forge ahead with their efforts. Reports indicate that ConsenSys, a key participant in the nascent Ethereum ecosystem, has partnered with a leading American multinational semiconductor conglomerate to produce blockchain-friendly hardware and software.

AMD And Blockchain Group ConsenSys Join Hands

On Friday, ConsenSys, the Ethereum blockchain development consortium headquartered in Manhattan, New York, dropped a press release to announce its business partnership with AMD and Abu Dhabi-based Halo Holdings. The trio intends to “develop optimized datacenter solutions” for blockchain-related workloads and processes, by creating an arm named “W3BCLOUD,” which presumably stands for Web 3.0 Blockchain Cloud.

ConsenSys will do a majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to blockchain technologies, while AMD will provide hardware, servicing, and its industry expertise. The third company’s role wasn’t publicly divulged, but the Middle Eastern firm is a pro-technology investment group, making it likely that Halo is financially backing and advising this venture. The press release claimed that W3BCLOUD will be focusing on creating solutions for governments and corporations.

Yet, ConsenSys didn’t full sell-out to centralized parties, as the release noted that a push for the adoption of decentralized applications will become a part of the effort’s modus operandi as well.

Related Reading: Biggest Ethereum Development Firm, ConsenSys, May Lay Off 50~60% of Firm’s Workforce

Joseph Lubin, who auspiciously called a market bottom just weeks ago, expressed his excitement for this operation, claiming that bolstering blockchains with AMD’s “leading-edge technology” will push this game-changing innovation to center stage across the globe. Joerg Roskowetz, one of AMD’s blockchain branch leads, also expressed his excitement for this collaboration. Roskowetz claimed that W3BCLOUD has its eyes on meeting growing governmental interest for smart identity, enterprise data centers, and health ID tracking, licensing, and supply chain management services.

Fruitless Blockchain Venture? 

Although this collaborative effort shouldn’t be entirely discounted, there are cynics who believe that ConsenSys, Halo Holdings, and AMD buddying up won’t produce real products, platforms, or services.

Case in point, as reported by NewsBTC months ago, ConsenSys joined hands with ING, Citigroup, Shell, and other global household names to launch komgo SA, a venture aimed at creating enterprise-level blockchain solutions based on Ethereum technology. But, since the announcement of the consortium, which came in late-September, no notable developments have been overtly disclosed. This begs the million-dollar question — is work really being done?

If you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, sure. But, even still, the lack of public development updates is slightly disconcerting, especially considering the fast-paced environment that cryptocurrency enthusiasts are acclimated to.

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Crypto Tidbits: Bitcoin Turns Ten, Ethereum Berated, Buy Fortnite Merch With Monero

Crypto’s 2019 arguably started with a bang, which was in stark contrast to the holiday season’s lull. The Bitcoin Network, for one, turned ten years old, just as a number of bullish development blessed crypto startups. Many hope that this positive momentum will continue to influence this industry in the months to come.

Crypto Tidbits:

  • Paypal Bans The Hacker News: Last week, The Hacker News (THN), a well-respected cybersecurity news portal, took to Twitter to express its distaste towards Paypal. According to THN’s company statement on the matter, Paypal permanently banned its accounts without mentioning a specific rationale. Paypal even purportedly rubbed salt on THN’s wound, so to speak, claiming that it would be holding wallet funds for six months, failing to cite a reason yet again. After some warranted banter, the American financial services firm explained that “specific reasons for such a decision is proprietary & [will not be] released,” skirting THN’s inquiry for the umpteenth time. This quip caused Bitcoin proponents to begin touting crypto’s merits. Matt Odell, a Bitcoin advocate, claimed that when there’s nowhere left to turn, BTC is always there. Marty Bent, a crypto-centric media creator, explained that payment processors have begun to lose their minds, likely referencing the worldwide theme of growing digital censorship. Bent added that it’s time to “level up” through Bitcoin, which will leave the “power drunk companies” in the dust.
  • Crypto Startup Digitizes Tesla, Apple, Nasdaq Stocks As Ethereum Tokens: DX.Exchange, a crypto startup headquartered in Estonia and Israel, will be tokenizing the shares of Tesla, Apple, Facebook, and seven other Nasdaq-based stocks. This system will allow the firm’s users to trade the aforementioned stocks on the Ethereum blockchain, even when American markets are shuttered for the night or weekend. Eventually, the fintech company intends to expand its offerings to equities listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Tokyo’s Nikkei, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng. These digital representations of stocks will be fully-collateralized, with MPS MarketPlace Securities, acting as the centralized counterparty.
  • Mike Novogratz Doubles-Down on Crypto: Mike Novogratz, a former Fortress Investments top brass turned fervent cryptocurrency investor, bought 7.5 million ordinary shares of Galaxy Digital, a crypto-friendly merchant bank he founded, for a grand total of $7.42 million Canadian dollars ($4.8M U.S.). With this purchase, he now controls 80% of Galaxy (GLXY) stock. When this news broke, the shares of the firm surged by 40% on the day, moving up to $1.4 Canadian dollars apiece.
  • Fortnite Merchandise Store Adopts Monero Payments: Per Riccardo Spagni and the Monero core team, the Fortnite merchandise store now takes payments in the privacy-centric cryptocurrency. This integration was enabled by Globee and paid for by a number of Monero community members and the aforementioned payment processor itself. Referencing the popular “Battle Royale” game, Spagni quipped on Twitter that “now you can purchase that sweet Durrr Burger onesie without your friends, family, or coworkers judging you,” evidently touching on Monero’s inherent privacy features. Interestingly, Globee accepts Bitcoin, along with a number of other leading cryptocurrencies, but the payment medium limited cryptocurrency transactions to solely XMR.
  • Bitcoin Blockchain Turns Ten Years Old: On January 3rd, 2019, the Bitcoin blockchain celebrated its tenth birthday. Just ten years ago, Satoshi Nakamoto made the first transaction using BTC. Due to the importance of this auspicious day, the cryptocurrency community was evidently joyous and in a celebratory mood. BitMEX put a multi-page advertisement in The Times in an evident reference to Bitcoin’s origins. A number of decentralists celebrated Proof of Keys, an initiative headed by early crypto entrepreneur Trace Mayer that implores investors to withdraw their cryptocurrencies from exchanges. Prominent cryptocurrency content creators celebrated the day by singing One Million Dreams, a song from the blockbuster movie “The Greatest Showman.”
  • Bitcoin Advocate Tuur Demeester Bashes Ethereum: Last week, Tuur Demeester, an altcoin cynic, Bitcoin proponent, and investor, compiled his years of skepticism towards Ethereum, issuing a 50-part Twitter thread on the matter. Through his scathing messages, Demeester, the founder of Adamant Capital, a so-called “Bitcoin Alpha Fund,” conveyed a multitude of reasons why he’s skeptical of the project. The Bitcoiner noted that Ethereum’s underlying architecture and culture is the stark opposite of Bitcoin’s. Yet, the former project is apparently still seeking to achieve decentralization and immutability, while becoming a store of value, an asset issuance platform, and a smart contract facilitator. He added that Ether’s current market capitalization of ~$15 billion is overinflated, as he sees the project as a “science experiment at best.” Since Demeester’s rant has gained traction on Twitter, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has responded.
  • Coinbase May Launch Subscription Model: An apparent survey from Coinbase has polled users on the appeal of a subscription model, which would reduce “maker” and “taker” fees for Pro traders, while offering perks for premium members. If implemented, this program would be the first of its kind in the cryptosphere, and would likely propel the company’s trading platforms to new heights.
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BitMEX CEO: Bitcoin Still An Experiment, But Has A Bright Future

Bitcoin (BTC) isn’t the world’s first stab at digital money. In fact, the idea of running society with digital cash has been around for three decades, if not more. David Chaum, an American cryptographer, founded DigiCash in 1990, but it failed not one decade later. E-gold, a computer-based representation of gold, and the Liberty Reserve, which converted U.S. dollars and Euros into digitized counterparts, failed, just like its predecessor in DigiCash.

But, when Satoshi Nakamoto released the original Bitcoin whitepaper, which was influenced by the failures of the aforementioned three attempts at digital cash, some became quickly convinced it would catch on. And, arguably, it has. BTC has now reached an aggregate market capitalization of $66 billion, and nearly everyone in the Western world has heard the word “cryptocurrency” or “blockchain” uttered once or twice.

However, via a recent blog post, Arthur Hayes, the chief executive at the Hong Kong-headquartered BitMEX, has claimed that the “first type of new money” will be centralized, not decentralized. Interestingly, his slightly harrowing post came on the tenth anniversary of Bitcoin’s first processed block. But don’t worry, Hayes expressed optimism on Bitcoin’s prospects too.

The “Bifurcated Near-Future Of Money”

In the post, titled “Two sides of the coin,” Hayes explained that as technology continues to propagate across all facets of society, a centralized, government-backed e-money is likely to become the norm — or “natural,” as the BitMEX chief put it. He explained that this centralized system will be a byproduct of existing financial infrastructure, coupled with the “increasingly corporatized economy.”

The key member of BitMEX’s top brass added that as consumers become more acclimated to hand over our private data — whether it be through Facebook, Google, or the traditional monetary system — an e-money actively tracked by the government becomes possible. Society’s forfeiture of privacy comes on the back of the abundance of convenience and entertainment, made possible by often exploitative technologies that track every bit and byte of data.

While the U.S. has been slow to adopt digital payments, Hayes noted that the push for government-backed computer-based cash has already begun in China, as millions in the Asian powerhouse now use WeChat Pay. And it’s no secret that WeChat Pay can fall victim to shortcomings, specifically those catalyzed by the presence of centralized entities. Through the system, payments can be censored, Beijing can monitor citizens, and, worse yet, it only works with Chinese renminbi.

Related Reading: China Shuts Down Blockchain News Accounts on WeChat

And eventually, when similar systems evidently prop themselves up in the Western world, consumers using said product will experience similar downsides. Hayes wrote on the matter:

“The only place left in the system for inefficient or corruptible humans to participate will be at the apex of the network, where the authorities can issue credit directly to people, tax every transaction immediately, and determine who can and can’t be part of the network. In theory, your entire financial existence can be governed this way.”

Interestingly, financial technology service providers have already shown signs of this dictatorship-esque business strategy. Just recently Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor that likes to speak his mind, was banned from Patreon — one of his main source of income — and cybersecurity news portal The Hacker News lost access to its Paypal accounts.

But that’s where Bitcoin comes in.

Bitcoin Still Has A Bright Future Ahead Of Itself

Bitcoin will fill the privacy gap, as its pseudonymous address system, coupled with fledgling privacy protocols, will make it a great alternative to the centralized e-money that is undoubtedly in the works. In contrast to this “top-down” system, the world’s first blockchain network is uncensorable, borderless, non-inflationary, and most importantly (in the eyes of Hayes), private — a far cry from the centralized systems of the future. The BitMEX CEO explained that privacy is an integral part of any well-function society, making a system like Bitcoin more than essential. He wrote:

“Sooner than you think, cash will not be an option for privacy, or for anything else. And private citizens will come to appreciate the inherent value of Bitcoin, as their ability to discreetly hold and transfer value evaporates once cash goes the way of the dodo.”

However, he explained that at heart, Bitcoin is “still very much an experiment,” as it’s the first system of its kind. This sentiment that Bitcoin is merely an experiment, but an elaborate one at that, has been echoed throughout the cryptosphere in recent memory.

Per previous reports from NewsBTC, Xapo founder Wences Casares claimed that Bitcoin is nothing more than an “interesting intellectual experiment.” Delving into the sentiment that crypto is an “experiment,” Casares noted that it is still worthwhile to pay attention to this industry, even if this experiment’s results aren’t optimal or according to plan. He explained that it would be irresponsible “not acknowledge that it could not work,” as Satoshi, like other humans, was inherently fallible.

Yet, Casares, along with his peer in Hayes, still touted optimism towards the project for the long-term. Hayes noted that Bitcoin has lasted ten years, even with the “biggest ‘bug bounty’” in software history, accentuating the fact that the project is likely here to stay for the long haul. And, as non-private digitized money becomes commonplace, BTC’s inherent value will become more than apparent in society’s eyes.

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Prominent Analyst: Bitcoin Will Bottom Between $1,800 and $2,400

To ring in the new year, Tone Vays, a former institutional investor turned Bitcoin (BTC) diehard, brought on Princeton graduate Murad Mahmudov, a leading cryptocurrency analyst and economist, to discuss the current state of this nascent market. As the debate/friendly discussion was over 130 minutes long, there was a mass of intriguing information contained in this episode of On The Record. But as made apparent in a pseudo-transcript compiled by Twitter user “Astatine,” the two prominent crypto traders made it clear that they still see a strong future for Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Hasn’t Bottomed Just Yet

Since Bitcoin began to capitulate in late-2017, as investors pulled out of the crypto industry en-masse, long-term believers and value investors have sought to time the bottom. Yet, over one year later, after BTC lost 80% of its all-time high value, common Joe investors still can’t clearly discern of cryptocurrencies have found a floor to stand on. Yet, Vays and Mahmudov aimed to answer this pressing question, which has plagued the waking hours of crypto’s most astute investors for months on end.

Mahmudov claimed that BTC is still in the process of finding a long-term foothold, explaining that the world’s first cryptocurrency is most likely to bottom with the $1,800 to $2,400 range. For some perspective, a $2,000 price level will require the Bitcoin price to drop an additional ~50% from current prices — not the end of the world, but a dismal move nonetheless. Explaining this short-term bearish call, the trader noted that while he’s 100% sure BTC won’t fall under $1,000, arguably the most pertinent psychological support level, the true bottom isn’t in.

Mahmudov, who hinted at his intent to launch a crypto-centric hedge fund in the near future, noted that a number of altcoins, like Ether (ETH), EOS, XRP, among others, are still drastically overvalued, especially considering their often misconstrued value propositions.

Interestingly, Mahmudov’s bottom call didn’t line up Vays’, nor forecasts touted by his fellow, well-respected crypto traders. Vays, for instance, said that there’s a 30% chance that BTC has bottomed, before adding that there’s a 40% chance BTC could fall to as low as $1,000 to bottom.

Per previous reports from NewsBTC, Filb Filb, a long-term Bitcoin permabull and one of Mahmudov’s analyst peers, revealed that according to historical market trends and cycles, Bitcoin could floor anywhere between $2,500 and $3,100 from now until early-2020. Anthony Pompliano, the founder of Morgan Creek Digital Assets, also claimed that BTC could easily fall below $3,000, especially as the chance remains that the VanEck-backed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund could get denied by America’s regulatory incumbents.

And while analysts’ forecasts are varied, a theme common in all their predictions is that BTC likely has further to fall.

What’s Going For Bitcoin Moving Forward?

However, while Mahmudov is nearly certain that this market’s bottom is still to come, the analyst made it clear that over a long-term timeframe, he’s extremely bullish on Bitcoin, along with its potential to revolutionize global finance. Mahmudov claimed that he’s so bullish, that he wouldn’t spend the cryptocurrency for at least ten years, as the asset’s potential upside and asymmetric risk profile makes it nonsensical to use BTC at current rates.

Explaining why he’s a “HODLer of last resort,” as the crypto community likes to call the most dedicated Bitcoin investors, the analyst noted that BTC’s fixed supply issuance schedule is the catalyst that will beckon in billions of U.S. dollars over time.

In fact, he claimed that based on his models, which considers up to twenty fundamental factors, including supply, there will be a far bigger bubble in 2023 compared to late-2017’s. Mahmudov noted that 2017’s bubble will be so relatively small that it can be likened to the Dotcom industry in 1994, rather than the 2002/2003 bubble that doomsayers have been touting. The analyst’s fundamental factors, coupled with the fact that there’s over $17 trillion worth of equity worldwide, along with over $100 trillion worth of all forms of money and value stores (SoV), made it clear that Bitcoin has likely got more than enough room to run.

Lou Kerner, the founding partner at Crypto Oracle, echoed the money and SoV catalyst in a recent interview, as reported by NewsBTC previously. Kerner simply stated that fiat currencies are a Ponzi scheme, before stating that BTC could surmount the $100,000 price point, specifically due to its ability to allow consumers to easily derisk their portfolios drastically. And in a brewing financial crisis like today, Bitcoin’s value proposition will only become even more apparent.

Related Reading: Messari CEO: Killer Use Case For Bitcoin Is Still Money, Digital Gold
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Crypto Giant Coinbase Made Strides In Q4 2018, Even As Bitcoin (BTC) Plunged 40%

Although Coinbase has recently become a controversial company, especially as it began to add crypto assets left and right, the company has long had an unrelenting drive for innovation. Since setting up shop in 2012, the San Francisco-headquartered startup, headed by a former Airbnb employee with visions of grandeur, has quickly set the industry standard in a number of subsectors.

The firm may have started as a consumer-centric exchange, which sported a simple (near-)one-click interface, but Coinbase has evolved far beyond its original premise now. And interestingly, even as digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC) — Coinbase’s lifeblood — continue to lose value, the firm has only doubled-down on its expansion and development efforts.

Related Reading: Only Coinbase, Binance Have 300k+ Users, Fake Volume on Most Crypto Platforms

Coinbase Outperformed The Bitcoin Sell-Off

Recent Giving Pledge signee Brian Armstrong, the fervent, sometimes controversial chief of Coinbase, recently issued a note to his underlings — a swelling group of talent — accentuating the fact that the company has not only survived but thrived in the recent bearish downturn.

The American firm, which now has offices around the globe, started Q4 of 2018 with a bang, securing $300 million in funding from Tiger Global, Y Combinator, A16Z, Polychain Cap, and a number of other crypto-friendly venture groups. This round valued Coinbase at a jaw-dropping $8 billion, making the firm arguably the most valuable company in the entirety of Bitcoin ecosystem.

And since that $300 million cash boost, which was explained to be allocated towards global expansion efforts, institutional services, and applications for crypto, Coinbase has arguably been on the up-and-up. As explained in Armstrong’s letter, released to the public in an evident attempt at transparency, Coinbase launched a number of pertinent products, including support for Circle-backed USD Coin, a revamped version of Earn, PayPal withdrawals, and crypto-to-crypto trading, to only name a few products.

The firm also added a dozen crypto assets to its platform, an evident sign of changing times, with notable additions including ZCash (ZEC), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Maker (MKR), and 0x (ZRX). In a podcast, vice-president Dan Romero explained that firm’s clientele has begun to clamor for crypto asset support, presumably catalyzing the recent listings.

Along with adding the aforementioned tokens and products, Coinbase forayed into six new regions, opening the ground-breaking potential of crypto to millions more. The Coinbase chief also explained that his firm made a number of investments, into organizations such as Alchemy, Securitize, Starkware, Nomics, and Abacus.

Closing the retrospective post, Armstrong made his excitement and gratitude more than apparent when he wrote:

“I continue to be so impressed by the ability of this team to execute on aggressive timelines, all while solving problems that have never been solved before. This was a year of scaling Coinbase up to meet the demand of the market and efficiently executing to serve our customers.”

Great Year Ahead For The Crypto Juggernaut

Interestingly, the firm already seems to have prospects for a great 2019. As reported by NewsBTC earlier today, an apparent survey from Coinbase has polled users on the appeal of a subscription model, which would reduce “maker” and “taker” fees for Pro traders, while offering perks for premium members. If implemented, this program would be the first of its kind in the cryptosphere, and would likely propel the company’s trading platforms to new heights.

Asiff Hirji, president of the fledgling company, recently hinted that 2019 will be a great year for institutional participation in cryptocurrencies. In an interview with CNBC, Hirji explained that Coinbase’s custodial service “has blown by internal goals,” as “hundred of institutions” have boarded onto the platform in recent memory. Seeing that Coinbase has been playing a role in that facet of this industry, it can be assumed that this influx of Wall Street hotshots will trickle down to the company’s growing roster of institutional products.

Zeeshan Feroz, the chief at Coinbase’s U.K. branch, also expressed a similar positive outlook, but from a broader perspective. He said:

“I think you can expect a more aggressive approach to us adding more countries in the coming months. Much of what we’re doing here is driven by customer needs and what we’re seeing in the market… I think if you look at last year, a lot of the focus was on people who bought crypto from an investment point of view and a lot of projects raised a ludicrous amount of money as a result of that.”

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Major Crypto Exchanges are Focusing on OTC, Do They See Big Institutional Demand?

Since Bitcoin (BTC) found its all-time high in late-December 2017, two weeks shy of one fateful year ago, the leading cryptocurrency has fallen by a jaw-dropping 81%, posting a performance that would make speculators shudder. Yet, dozens of reports indicate that institutional players have only advanced further into the battlefield that is crypto, infusing hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars worth of capital into BTC and its altcoin brethren.

Although these reports have been deemed credible by a myriad of industry commentators and analysts, the market has barely budged, which begs the million-dollar question — how are the institutional-sourced greenbacks entering the crypto market? And while many have struggled to discern the solution to this pertinent inquiry, the answer might have been floating right under the industry’s nose all along. More specifically, in crypto’s recent memory, a number of preeminent startups have launched over-the-counter (OTC) desks or made significant investments in this unique form of infrastructure.

Coinbase, Binance Embark On OTC Forays Amid Bear Market

In early-November, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the juggernaut behind the powerhouse that is Binance, made a guest appearance on CNBC Africa’s “Crypto Trader,” speaking with anchor Ran NeuNer about the status of crypto. After claiming that “something will trigger” a bull run, “sooner or later,” CZ, lending his insight as an exchange CEO, divulged that the OTC crypto market is “at least as large as the live recorded volumes.” In other words, as the Binance chief stated:

“I think that it is very possible [the money is flowing into the OTC market]. What I’ve heard is the OTC market is at least as large as the live recorded volumes. So, at least 50% of volumes are not being reported on CoinMarketCap. But we’re not heading to that business, so we don’t know the real volumes [there].”

Just 13 days after Zhao made his striking comments, in an evident change of heart, news arose that Binance Labs, the venture and incubator arm of its namesake, had made a $3 million investment into Koi Trading. San Francisco-based Koi Trading, for those who aren’t aware, is an emerging platform that acts as an OTC desk, specializing in the facilitation of non-retail investor-issued crypto exchange orders.

Coinbase, arguably Binance’s foremost competitor when it comes to diversified crypto offerings, quickly followed suit, one-upping Binance by launching its own OTC platform initially behind closed doors. As reported by NewsBTC, Christine Sandler, head of coverage at Coinbase, took to Cheddar to divulge more about the newfangled institutional product.

Sandler, discussing the matter in an exclusive interview, noted that Coinbase recently launched an “agency-only” OTC desk to complement its traditional exchange business. Explaining that this venture was catalyzed by the presence of valid interest, the executive, admitting that Coinbase’s OTC launch was “opportunistic,” stated:

“We found that a lot of institutions are usig OTC to on-ramp [their fiat] for crypto trading. And so we felt that this was a huge benefit for our clients to leverage our exchange and our OTC desk. So, we’re agency-only and we have plans to expand the service to offer delayed settlement and integration into our custody platform as well.”

Institutions Still Enamored With Crypto

Sandler’s statement, coupled with Zhao’s insight into the relationship between OTC and spot markets, only accentuates the fact that institutions continue to purchase copious amounts of crypto assets, even while it goes unnoticed by most naive traders. These two industry insiders aren’t alone in alluding to the fact that Wall Street hotshots are waxing their cryptocurrency skis, so to speak.

Related Reading: Goldman May Be Out For Now, But Wall Street Still Wants Crypto

Bobby Cho, the global head of trading at Cumberland, DRW’s cryptocurrency trading division, recently noted that hedge funds continue to issue abounding OTC Bitcoin transactions. Cho discerning what this meant, explained:

“What that’s showing you is the professionalization that’s happening across the board in this space. The Wild West days of crypto are really turning the corner.”

Boston-based Circle corroborated Cho’s remarks, with CEO Jeremy Allaire telling Bloomberg that Circle Invest has seen “triple-digit growth” in the number of individuals enrolling into its in-house OTC business.

While it is more than apparent that institutions still see monstrous value in this innovation, even in spite of BTC’s drawdown, it hasn’t been made all too clear how much capital flows into cryptocurrencies directly. Bitcoin proponent Alex Kruger, trying his hand at making an educated guess on the matter, recently speculated that $5.9 billion from Wall Street participants have been allocated towards crypto. To put the jaw-dropping sum into some much-needed perspective, Kruger, a leading markets researcher, explained that $5.9 billion is comparable to 237 days of block rewards issued by the “largest coins,” which report amounted to $24.8 million per day as of July 1st.

Still, the fact of the matter is that if institutions are truly unloading their wheelbarrows through OTC desks, the spot market will fall victim to the whims of speculators, making a bullish breakout less likely, unless this market sees a fundamental shift or extremely progressive news cycle.

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Happy Tenth Birthday, Bitcoin: BitMEX, Crypto Community Celebrate

In late-October, NewsBTC reported that Bitcoin turned ten. While this was factually accurate, the world’s first cryptocurrency turns a decade-old yet again on January 3rd, as Satoshi Nakamoto processed the first official block on this exact day, only ten years ago. This industry occurrence didn’t go unnoticed, as crypto enthusiasts en bloc(k) have taken to Twitter, expressing their love for Bitcoin’s inherent ability to turn the centralized establishment on its head. Even BitMEX, one of the most influential crypto startups in 2018, got in on the fun.

Happy (Actual) 10th Birthday, Bitcoin!

Ten years ago, sequestered away from the outside world, Satoshi Nakamoto, the individual or group responsible for Bitcoin’s birth, mined the first block. And while the network’s origins were nothing spectacular — as rumor has it that Satoshi mined blocks with a mere mid-range desktop, which probably ran loud and hot — a revolutionary force was set in motion nonetheless.

Bitcoin’s creator acknowledged the potential paradigm-shifting power of their innovation, transcoding a pertinent headline from The Times, a British newspaper, into the Genesis Block. Nakamoto never explicitly stated the reason behind the headline, which read “Chancellor on brink of [the] second bailout for banks,” but many decentralists claim that it was an evident jab at centralized financial entities. So, it has become widely agreed that this wasn’t any old headline snagged from one of the internet’s thousands of RSS feeds, that’s for sure.

Now, On January 3rd, 2019, BitMEX, the Hong Kong-headquartered exchange that has rapidly become the de-facto hub for cryptocurrency traders, took to Twitter to give its community a bit of a surprise. Through a tweet that has been shared to hell and back, the exchange, estimated to have made $1.2 billion in fiscal 2018, revealed that it left a cheeky message in Thursday’s installment of The Times.

The message, which encompassed the paper’s entire lower quarter, read “Thanks, Satoshi. We owe you one.” BitMEX also wished a happy birthday to Bitcoin, while leaving the hash to the first block processed on January 3rd, 2019 (553,509). In this block, processed by Bitmain, Jihan Wu and the Beijing firm’s other heads included “ThanksSatoshi” in the Coinbase input.

Considering that BitMEX secured a front page advertisement, on the exact same publication that pushed the text embodiment of Satoshi’s rallying cry, many crypto community members were taken aback. 

Nic Carter, a leading Bitcoin proponent, gave the exchange his accolades, jokingly wrote “Satoshi bless you” in an evident play on words. Alistair Milne, a pro-Bitcoin investor and entrepreneur that openly bashed the growing global debt levels, noted that the cheeky newspaper advertisement was a “great idea.” While Arthur Hayes, chief executive at BitMEX, simply wrote “strong to very strong,” likely touching on Bitcoin’s stellar fundamental performance since block one.

Jill Carlson, a cryptocurrency researcher and journalist, quipped that BitMEX “couldn’t have gotten a better headline too.” Carlson was drawing attention to Thursday’s The Times headliner, which read “Universities face credit crunch as debt spirals,” an accurate depiction of macro markets today.

The Times may not be the most well-circulated newspaper, but BitMEX’s efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty, on Bitcoin’s birthday out of all days, was appreciated by the cryptosphere en bloc.

Proof Of Keys 

BitMEX wasn’t the only group celebrating his key date. Weeks ago, Trace Mayer, a leading early-stage Bitcoiner and decentralist, began campaigning for an annual event that has been dubbed “Proof of Keys.” Proof of Keys, for those who missed the memo, is an event that implores cryptocurrency investors to withdraw 100% of their holdings off centralized exchanges. Proof of Keys’ official website reads:

“Every year HODLers celebrate with a test of trust. HODLers test people, exchanges, corporations and other services. Get withdrawals limits ready. Plus, one can easily forget where small amounts of bitcoins are. Remember and find them. Most importantly, HODLers can test themselves.”

Although this is meant to be an exercise to challenge centralized parities in the pro-decentralization movement that is cryptocurrency, Balaji Srinivasan, the chief of technology at Coinbase, commented positively on the matter. In a tweet, Srinivasan quickly outlined the event, before explaining how users of Coinbase could withdraw their BTC and other crypto assets from the platform.

Other notable industry insiders also came out in support of Proof of Keys. Blockchain.com, the San Francisco-based firm that manages the world’s most popular crypto wallet, along with ShapeShift, AirSwap, Ledger, and dozens of other startups, expressed the importance of the event. Even Weiss Ratings, the Florida-based markets research group behind a controversial crypto rating report, noted that as cryptocurrencies were designed to disintermediate consumers and their money, Proof of Keys is a perfect initiative to accentuate this raison d’etre. 

Arguably, Bitcoin is vastly stronger than it was just ten years ago. But there’s still a ways to go, especially as centralized entities continue to tighten their vice on the world’s common Joes.

Related Reading: Travis Kling: “Significant Chance” That Crypto Will Outperform Everything In 2019

Happy Birthday, Bitcoin!

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Crypto Analyst: Shutdown Of Bitmain’s Mining Operations Isn’t A “Big Deal”

While Bitmain has made forays into artificial intelligence and other budding markets, at heart, Bitmain is a Bitcoin– and crypto-centric mining startup. So, it should come as no surprise that industry participants were shell-shocked when hearsay arose that Bitmain was poised to shutter a number of its mining-related ventures. However, one crypto analyst has claimed that the firm’s reported shift in strategy isn’t “necessarily a big deal.”

Bitmain’s Crypto Mining Operations Reportedly Folding

Although Bitmain is hailed as the de-facto king of all cryptocurrency startups, the Beijing-headquartered firm has reportedly fallen on hard times. In recent weeks, as covered extensively by NewsBTC, (former) employees have claimed that the industry powerhouse has begun to layoff staffers en-masse. While the purge of Bitmain’s Copernicus team, who managed the Bitcoin Cash GO client, and the Israel development team have essentially been confirmed, those familiar with the matter have claimed that the company’s layoffs run even deeper.

Some reports claim that up to 85% of Bitmain’s ~2,500 staffers are on the chopping block, while low estimates stipulate that at least 50% are on thin ice. And although estimates and details vary from source-to-source, an overwhelming majority of reports believe that ~500 of Bitmain’s mining team are on their way out. As to why the startup is aiming to make this drastic change, it has been claimed that conglomerate is purportedly looking to prune its divisions.

Alex Krüger, a leading crypto commentator and researcher, recently commented on the aforementioned rumors, claiming that if they’re true, Bitmain isn’t fini. The Manhattan-based investor noted that the news that Bitmain is trimming its mining team has been blown out of proportion. He claimed that the firm’s self-run pools and proprietary mining business, the branches Bitmain is looking to trim, provide little economic value to the juggernaut, once valued at over $14 billion dollars.

More specifically, per Bitmain’s H1 financial data, which was routed through its IPO prospectus, operating pools amounted to 1.5% of Bitmain’s revenue. While Bitmain mining crypto for itself, a practice deemed controversial, generated a relatively mere 3.3% of its cumulative revenue. And, considering that the firm has 535 staffers, an approximated 20% of all employees, managing the two aforementioned operations, it is logical why the firm is mulling over these cuts.

Hinting that this move could be a net benefit for the crypto industry (save for the layoffs), Krüger noted that if the rumors are true, second-hand mining hardware may make their way to consumers, as Bitmain’s mining farms change hands. This means that the potential loss in hashrates across the board, catalyzed by Bitmain’s shift in strategy, will be reversed over time, so network security can be upheld.

Related Reading: Bitcoin Can’t Fall To $0 Nor Enter A “Death Spiral” — Mining Rules Deem It So

Bitmain Isn’t In the Clear Just Yet

While Krüger debunked the catcalls regarding Bitmain’s mining arms, local media and inside sources have claimed that the startup isn’t in the clear.

Dovey Wan, the founding partner of Primitive Capital and well-known industry insider, recently took to her well-followed Twitter soapbox to convey a rumor that could turn the cryptosphere on its head. Wan claimed that a local outlet, OriginalPlanet Daily, has stumbled across rumors that both Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan will step down from their co-CEO positions at Bitmain.

If these rumors are true, a businessman with the surname Wang will reportedly take over Bitmain’s CEO slot. Due to Bitmain’s extensive list of employees, there are a number of top brass surnamed Wang. Dovey Wan has suggested the successor in question could be Haichao Wang, the director of product engineering, or Shengli Wang, a former member of Huawei’s board of directors.

Speaking with OriginalPlanet, one familiar with Bitmain suggested that the co-CEO system wasn’t operational, quipping that Wu and Zhan haven’t been able to work in tandem. However, due to the fact that Bitmain hasn’t publicly commented on this debacle, it remains to be seen if these rumors hold their water. Yet, over the past few months, it has been hinted that Wu forfeited the ability to influence Bitmain’s operational decisions, and remains only as a figurehead.

This internal tumult, coupled with regulatory concerns and this industry’s nascency, has led sources to claim that Bitmain’s long-rumored initial public offering (IPO) has stalled, failing to make it off the starting block. Citing “two sources familiar with the matter,” the South China Morning Post noted that it is too premature for any crypto firm to make their way onto the Hong Kong Stock Exchange before the “proper regulatory framework is in place.”

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Analyst: How Bitcoin Could Breach $100K As Better Store of Value Than Gold

For many average Joes, Bitcoin’s use case is viewed as nebulous, a concept squirreled off in the ether by crypto’s pundits. Yet, a leading investor took to Bloomberg to accentuate that Bitcoin (BTC) is fundamentally a store of value (SOV), and one that is even better than gold, the de-facto king of investments for millennia.

Bitcoin Is Fundamentally Better Than Gold

Prominent venture capitalist Lou Kerner, the founding partner of CryptoOracle, sat down with Bloomberg on Sunday to eulogize the flagship cryptocurrency. When asked about value propositions, the investor claimed that Bitcoin has “the opportunity” to replace and oust gold, which sports a cumulative market capitalization of $8 trillion, as the “dominant store of value.”

Kerner even noted that if BTC fails to surmount the powerhouse that is gold, there is potential for the asset to appreciate dramatically. Yet, the CryptoOracle partner shunned the idea that gold isn’t on its way out, simply quipping that holding BTC is “just a better way to store your value.”

The CryptoOracle founder isn’t the only industry insider to laud BTC as a better alternative to gold. Ryan Selkis, CEO of crypto’s go-to resource, Messari, claimed that Bitcoin is a great hedge against “inflationary recession.”

Selkis, who tenured at J.P. Morgan prior to 2008’s Great Recession, noted that “at some point,” capital markets will begin to deflate, as asset inflation wanes. Continuing to paint a harrowing picture for centralized assets, namely stocks, government bonds, and fiat, the Messari chief noted that investors will “flock” to stores of value, like a digital gold, in trying times. As it stands, the digital embodiment of gold is best represented by Bitcoin, and as such, BTC would likely see an influx of buy-side volume as consumers lose faith in traditional markets.

Related Reading: Steve Wozniak: ‘Only Bitcoin is Pure Digital Gold’

The Bloomberg host subsequently questioned Kerner about crypto’s decline throughout 2018. The Bitcoin proponent, citing Amara’s Law, claimed that the impact of new technological paradigms, like the advent of the Internet is overestimated in the long run, but underestimated in the short-term. Kerner added that BTC, coupled with the rest of its crypto asset brethren — innovations more revolutionary than personal computing and the Internet in his eyes — are, and will continue to be subject to this lesser-known philosophical law.

Yet, the interviewer, approaching the matter with skepticism, wasn’t poised to pounce on this idea. And as such, he asked if the days of BTC at $20,000 are long gone. CryptoOracle’s chief, maintaining his bullish outlook, noted that while gold’s 5,000-year run is undoubtedly impressive, Bitcoin is “well on the path” to overtake the precious metal. And as consumers continue starting to come to the realization that gold underperforms Bitcoin in a number of categories, including portability, ease-of-use, divisibility, and scarcity, Kerner explained that BTC could easily surpass $100,000 apiece.

“The Dollar Is A Ponzi Scheme”

Echoing sentiment pushed by Bitcoin’s in-house Austrian economists, Kerner noted that if history is any indicator, “100% of fiat currencies, up until 400 years ago,” dwindled to a value of zilch. And while modern government-issued currencies have performed relatively well, the investor noted that “if you think about it,” the U.S. dollar is a Ponzi scheme. Interestingly, he added that the dollar’s Ponzi scheme-esque status isn’t the fault of the American government, but rather, how the financial system operates today.

More specifically, he noted that nobody, not even the POTUS himself, believes that the $20 trillion in national debt (or $180+ trillion in worldwide debt, for that matter) will be rectified.

And as such, to maintain purchasing power over long swaths of time, Kerner said that a capital allocation into gold has been the go-to choice. But, with BTC on the rise, it is within the realm of possibility that the world’s first cryptocurrency will gain traction, especially as equity markets falter.

In a similar manner, Travis Kling, a leading crypto investor who heads Ikigai, stated that Bitcoin will give consumers “the ability to opt-out of the largest monetary experiment of human history (quantitative easing),” as it is a “non-sovereign digital money” that transcends shortcomings in traditional markets.

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