The price of bitcoin closed a touch firmer this week at around $3,950, inching close to the $4,000 resistance level it has been struggling to surpass.
The market sentiment seems to be changing, and it looks like the crypto winter could be over soon. Bitcoin has stabilized in the high $3,000s for several weeks now, and with a number of institutional investor on-ramps in the pipeline, the next big move could be up again.
This week, Fidelity Digital Asset Services (FDAS) announced that it had launched its crypto custody business with a handful of select clients, thus making good on its announcement to begin in March.
Moreover, Binance Labs has announced that is has started to work with the Argentinian government to boost the local cryptocurrency startup community, which, in turn, is expected to help the country’s struggling economy by offering more alternative currency solutions to the citizens of the South American nation.
Perhaps, the biggest news in crypto in the past week was that after the #DeleteCoinbase campaign launched on Twitter following the exchange’s hire of a company that has been involved in helping authoritarian regimes, Coinbase has taken the step to remove former staff of the Hacking Team who were engaged in these activities. This shows that the Bitcoin community’s activism can cause even the biggest crypto unicorns to change course.
Binance, a Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange, announced that Binance Labs, the venture arm of the exchange, is building the cryptocurrency future of Argentina while the government is supporting Binance Labs to foster the growth of blockchain technology in the country.
Startups, established companies, and even the government are playing their part in ensuring that the country with the third largest economy in Latin America is a part of the innovative technology.
The level of support can be seen in the country’s most recent implementation which allows seven million people resident in 37 locations to pay for rides using bitcoin. By just funding the state public transport’s card, SUBE with bitcoin, bus, train and subway fares can be paid for.
In the same vein, 260 merchants in Argentina are accepting cryptocurrency for payments which is on par with 8,000 convenience stores in the country where bitcoin could be purchased as of 2014.
There has also been an increase in the number of Bitcoin ATMs in the area which currently ranks it second after Columbia (40 ATMS) for the eight machines that have been installed and thousands more are expected this year from the Odyssey group.
In May 2018, Banco Masventas (BMV), a bank in the region discontinued the use of SWIFT, a global network for cross border payments and opted for bitcoin for its international payments’ clients.
Brian Armstrong announced through a Medium post that Coinbase’s employees who had previously worked at Hacking Team would transition out of the firm. This comes after Coinbase received flak on the Internet after its acquisition of the blockchain intelligence firm named Neutrino.
The past couple of weeks haven’t been particularly kind to the cryptocurrency exchange, as it received widespread criticism for employing people from Neutrino who had previously worked for Hacking Team, irrespective of the fact that these new hires had any direct affiliation with the notorious group.
For the uninitiated, Hacking Team is an intelligence organization that has been accused by Reporters Without Borders of cooperating with authoritarian regimes.
Matters reached a boiling point for Coinbase towards the end of February 2019, as users took to social media using the #DeleteCoinbase hashtag to show their discontent towards the exchange’s acquisition.
In a bid to undo the wrong, Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong stated that the exchange and Neutrino have agreed to transition the former Hacking Team personnel out of the company.
In a surprising revelation, it has come to light that the second biggest miners of cryptocurrencies are college students who make use of their university’s free electricity, as reported by PC Mag on March 5, 2019.
Anyone who has ever tried to mine cryptocurrency will know that besides the specialized equipment sometimes needed, a lot of electricity is also required, which has led many to steal power. Certain places have even banned crypto mining firms from setting up shop due to their energy requirements.
However, a new study by Cisco published shows that one of the biggest concentrations of crypto mining takes place not in small towns with cheap power but on college campuses. The study was conducted through an analysis of different industry verticals and it was discovered that college campuses account for 22 percent of all crypto mining.
The most likely reason for the amount of mining taking place on campuses is the free electricity that the students enjoy. Unlike people who have to pay for their own electricity bills, students can make use of the universities’ electricity and not pay a dime.
Researcher Austin McBride said:
“You leave [the mining rig] running in your dorm room for four years, you walk out of college with a big chunk of change.”
Bitt, a portfolio company of Medici Ventures, the leading blockchain accelerator and subsidiary of Overstock, has joined forces with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) to conduct a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot across member countries in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), according to a press release on March 6, 2019.
As reported by BTCManager in March 2018, the ECCB and Bitt, a Barbados-based fintech firm inked a partnership deal to carry out a blockchain technology pilot focused on developing a central bank-backed digital asset that could be used by all the member countries of the ECCU.
Fast forward to 2019 and the blockchain pilot is now live.
As stated in the ECCB press release, the digital currency will make it easier for people residing in the ECCU member countries to carry out zero fee peer-to-peer transactions in real-time.
Commenting on the matter, the Governor of the ECCB said that:
“This pilot is a live CBDC deployment that could eventually be rolled out to the public in phases. The initiative is part of the ECCB’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021, which is focused on reducing cash usage within the ECCU by 50 percent, boost financial stability and accelerate the growth of member countries.”
In a recent report on digital currencies put together by the Finance Committee of France’s National Assembly, the French National Assembly’s Finance Head, Éric Woerth stated that anonymous cryptocurrencies pose a lot of dangers and should be banned or heavily regulated.
In the report, Woerth claims that to protect against the several risks that anonymous cryptocurrencies pose it would be advisable to implement rules or even ban any activity related to cryptocurrencies capable of providing greater levels of anonymity to users.
The head of the French Finance Committee expressed his concerns on the challenges for regulators and lawmakers spawning from the advent of cryptocurrencies. He revealed an extensive list mentioning the issues explicitly associated with privacy-focused cryptocurrencies.
“A certain number of cryptocurrencies (Monero, PIVX, DeepOnion, Zcash…) whose purpose is to bypass any possibility of identifying the holders. To date, regulation has not gone that far.”
The Israel Securities Authority (ISA), the country’s market regulator, made recommendations for the creation of a standardized digital assets platform that would support crypto trading and allow firms to raise funds by issuing tokenized assets to investors, reports Reuters on March 6, 2019.
Per the report, a committee at the ISA has recommended the establishment of a well-regulated platform that will be used to trade blockchain-based virtual currencies and also support the issuance of tokens by startups to investors.
They have outlined the need for the regulation of such platforms to create a balance between increased competition in the capital market and protecting investors. Reportedly, in comparison to a decade ago, the number of companies in the industry, as well as the amount raised in Tel Aviv, has been on the decline.