New York-Based Signature Bank to Offer Services to Fintech Firms in Bermuda

New York-Based Signature Bank to Offer Services to Fintech Firms in Bermuda

Signature Bank, a New York-based bank with its own blockchain platform, will offer financial services to fintech firms in Bermuda.

New York-based commercial bank Signature Bank will begin offering financial services to fintech firms in the island nation of Bermuda, local news daily the Royal Gazette reports on Feb. 28.

According to the Royal Gazette, banks in Bermuda have mostly avoided dealing with the fintech industry, which is in need of financial services. Bermudian Premier David Burt said:

“Signature Bank’s willingness to consider Bermuda-licensed businesses for banking services is a significant vote of confidence in and endorsement of Bermuda’s efforts to create a leading high standard regulatory regime for fintech business.”

A reported government announcement stated that Signature Bank “has agreed to provide a full range of banking services to companies that meet Bermuda and Signature Bank standards.” Signature Bank Vice-Chairman John Tamberlane said:

“We are impressed with the progress Bermuda has made to date on a regulatory front, and look forward to working with the Government of Bermuda to help promote growth and expansion of the fintech and digital asset industry in that country.”

Bermuda has overhauled its regulatory frameworks to accommodate crypto, blockchain and fintech businesses. In July 2018, the government amended the Banks and Deposit Companies Act 1999 to create a new class of bank for blockchain and fintech businesses. Premier Burt then said, “The fintech industry’s success globally depends on the ability of the businesses operating in this space to enjoy the necessary banking services."

That same month, the government proposed new regulations for initial coin offerings (ICOs). The regulations required Bermudian ICO issuers to provide detailed information about the projects including “all persons involved with the ICO.” The government awarded its first certification under the new regime in October 2018.

Burt told the Royal Gazette today, “As a result of our business development and promotional efforts, 66 fintech companies have been incorporated in Bermuda.”

In December 2018, the Department of Financial Services of New York authorized a blockchain-based digital platform offered by Signature Bank called Signet. The bank’s CEO Joseph DePaolo told the Royal Gazette:

“Since launching at the start of the year, our blockchain based Signet system has on-boarded multiple clients who are using it to send each other millions of dollars, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. [...] Currently, we are seeing trades in the millions some days and tens of millions other days, with the number of Signet clients in the triple digits.”

Stanford Student Calls Out Crypto Professor for Inaccurate Bitcoin Lecture

Stanford Student Calls Out Crypto Professor for Inaccurate Bitcoin Lecture

stanford xrp.jpg

In January of 2019, student Conner Brown attended a guest lecture by a Professor Susan Athey at the University of Stanford Graduate School. She gave a presentation to his “Evolution of Finance” class titled “Blockchain and the Future of Finance.” According to Brown, the presentation contained “multiple misstatements” about Bitcoin and its fundamentals.

After the presentation, Brown was dissatisfied with how Bitcoin was referenced by Athey during the lecture to a room comprised (mostly) of people who were unfamiliar with the fundamental concepts behind the technology. This prompted him to write an email to the Stanford Graduate School Board, expressing his concerns.

Brown says that the only response he has received from the university thus far is an email stating, “We will get back to you on this.” That’s when he posted his complaint on Twitter.

What She Got Wrong

Athey, who Brown told Bitcoin Magazine is also slated to teach an entire course at Stanford next semester called “Cryptocurrencies,” claimed that not only is Bitcoin "controlled by a small group of miners in China," but that it also “wastes electricity by stealing from rivers to solve useless math problems.” Athey also mentioned that bitcoin is "secured economically and not cryptographically."

In her presentation degrading the first digital, decentralized currency, Athey drew comparisons to what she considered a better solution in Ripple’s technology, using XRP. Specifically, she cited exchange rate volatility, trust issues with exchanges, and long transaction times as drawbacks to using Bitcoin (stating that, subsequently, exchanges needed to buy bitcoin). Athey then, according to her presentation, explained how Ripple’s XRP, xRapid API, and overall consensus mechanism provide an alternative that is faster, cheaper, more secure, and more energy friendly than Bitcoin.

In protest, Brown composed a letter addressed to the Graduate School of Business, expressing his thoughts that certain statements about Bitcoin should have been subject to “high caliber discussion and peer review.”

In addressing Athey’s claims against Bitcoin, Brown properly explained where Athey missed key concepts.

Addressing her claim on mining centralization by a small group in China, Brown explained that Athey was conflating mining nodes with full nodes and had used this misrepresentation to position Ripple as a better alternative to Bitcoin. He also countered by explaining that miners often compile their resources together in a mining pool, but there are many individual miners in these pools and not one entity can completely control Bitcoin.

To Athey’s claim that Bitcoin is secured economically and not cryptographically, Brown pointed out that she is once again conflating two different things: Stealing funds by cracking the encryption of the wallet and using mining power to 51% attack a network.

Conflict of Interest?

As the matter came to light on Twitter, it was pointed out that Athey was welcomed to the Ripple Labs Board of Directors back in April 2014, where she still maintains an active role. When Nic Carter asked on Twitter if Athey had made any disclosure before her presentation, she replied directly: “Five minute verbal introduction discussing my background in the space — no way to miss it!”

Whether or not Athey had any ill-intent in her presentation, Brown told Bitcoin Magazine that is not what mattered to him.

“It concerns me that my classmates’ first introduction to Bitcoin contained severe factual errors along with strong anti-Bitcoin rhetoric. The academy is not a place for marketing, but rigorously testing ideas. If a professor has a potential conflict of interest, they should be held to the highest standards of scrutiny and peer review.

“That being said, Bitcoin is a creature of the internet. Its properties are difficult for academics to appreciate due to its deeply interdisciplinary and evolutionary nature. This makes it difficult for developing a curriculum because of the siloed design of academic disciplines and the slow pace of the peer review process. The internet will always be the best place to pursue a Bitcoin education.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

California Bill Would Legalize Crypto for Tax Payments From Cannabis-Related Businesses

California Bill Would Legalize Crypto for Tax Payments From Cannabis-Related Businesses

California legislators have introduced a bill that would require the state to accept stablecoins from cannabis-related businesses seeking to pay their excise or cultivation taxes.

Lawmakers in the United States state of California have introduced a bill to allow cannabis-related business to pay fees and taxes in stablecoins. The bill was introduced by the California State Assembly on Feb. 21.

Assembly Bill 953 would allow the state, city and county tax offices in California to accept stablecoins — cryptocurrency pegged to a physical asset or a fiat currency — from cannabis-related companies seeking to pay their excise or cultivation taxes, with effect from Jan. 1, 2020. The bill further reads:

“The bill would authorize that city or county in determining that method to either accept stablecoins directly into a digital wallet controlled by that jurisdiction or to utilize a third-party digital asset payment processor that allows for the immediate conversion of any payments made by stablecoins into United States dollars and deposit into an account of that jurisdiction.”

Cannabis has been legalized in several states in the U.S. However, cannabis businesses have difficulty securing simple financial services from banks, the vast majority of which are secured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and are thus prohibited from servicing an industry that is still deemed illegal under federal law.

Cannabis dispensaries can hold hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash at any given time. The bill is apparently an attempt to curtail the vast amounts of cash that end up in state tax offices and need to be processed. California State Treasurer Fiona Ma recently testified before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services regarding the tax collection process for cannabis businesses. She stated:

“Duffel bags and sometimes suitcases of cash would arrive quarterly at some of our designated offices and some business owners had to drive 350 miles to pay their taxes.”

In 2017, the Dash network began implementing Dash as a payment option in the cannabis industry’s point of sale devices. In doing so, Dash reportedly aimed to save the industry 10-15 percent, as the decreased flow of paper money will stymie the need for cash boxes, safes and guards.

Other U.S. states have also introduced bills that would allow tax payments in cryptocurrency. In January, legislators in the U.S. state of New Hampshire proposed a bill to accept Bitcoin (BTC) for state payments. “This bill requires the State Treasurer [...] to develop an implementation plan for the state to accept cryptocurrencies as payment for taxes and fees beginning July 1, 2020,” the document reads.

Crypto Exchange Kraken Offers $100,000 Reward for QuadrigaCX’s Missing Funds

Crypto Exchange Kraken Offers $100,000 Reward for QuadrigaCX’s Missing Funds

Crypto exchange Kraken is offering $100,000 as a reward for info that leads to the discovery of QuadrigaCX’s missing assets.

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has posted a $100,000 reward for the discovery of the major Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX’s missing funds. Kraken announced the offer in a blog post on Feb. 28.

QuadrigaCX has faced financial difficulty following the sudden death of its founder Gerry Cotten in December last year. Since then, Quadriga has not been able to access its cold wallets where it kept most of the assets, because Cotten was apparently solely responsible for the wallets and corresponding keys.

Quadriga purportedly only has CA$375,000 ($286,000) in cash, while it owes CA$260 million ($198,435,000) to its users. Facing insolvency, the exchange has sought creditor protection in Canadian court.

Now, Kraken is offering up to $100,000 in either fiat or digital currency as a reward for tips that could lead to the discovery of the missing assets. Kraken notes in the announcement that it may end the reward program at any point in time.

“All leads collected by Kraken will be provided to the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigaion], RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] or other law enforcement authorities, who have an active interest in this case,” the statement concludes.

As previously reported, Cotten might have stored the exchange’s private keys on paper in a safety deposit box. In an interview on the “True Bromance Podcast” in February 2014, Cotten explained that the best way to keep private keys is to print them off and store them offline in a safety deposit box. Cotten then said:

“Essentially we [QuadrigaCX] put a bunch of paper wallets into the safety deposit box, remember the addresses of them. So we just send money to them, we don’t need to go back to the bank every time we want to put money into it. We just send money from our Bitcoin app directly to those paper wallets, and keep it safe that way."

In mid February, a post by Redditor dekoze indicated five addresses allegedly associated with Quadriga, noting that the number is just a fraction of the total number of associated wallets. Transactions sent to the addresses roughly equal the amount of BTC Quadriga previously reportedly sent to locked cold wallets by mistake.

Report: Swiss Fintech Market Grew by 62 Percent in 2018

Report: Swiss Fintech Market Grew by 62 Percent in 2018

A new study from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences found that the Swiss fintech market grew by 62 percent in 2018.

The Swiss fintech market grew by 62 percent in 2018, according to a recent study by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences published on Feb. 27.

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences undertook an in-depth review of Switzerland's fintech market for the fourth time. The report dubbed "IFZ FinTech Study 2019" reveals that on a global scale the cities of Zurich and Geneva remain in second and third place for the best cities for fintech, respectively. The fintech sector inside the country grew 62 percent over the previous year.

Per the analysis, Switzerland had 356 fintech companies in 2018, compared to 220 companies one year earlier. The growth is reportedly contingent on fintech distributed ledger (DLT) companies, representing a triple increase in number. More precisely, “of the total of 356 companies, 122 are in Distributed Ledger Technology, 66 in Investment Management, 56 in Banking Infrastructure, 42 in Deposit & Lending, 36 in Payment and 34 in Analytics.”

The research also cites several initial coin offering (ICO) firms in the fintech sector of Switzerland, specifying:

“Overall, a total of $386 million was raised last year from 15 ICOs, a decrease in both the number and volume of this funding. The largest ICO in 2018 was Envion, which received approximately $100 million, followed by Nexo and SwissBorg with $52.5 and $50 million, respectively.”

Number of Fintech companies in Switzerland. Source: The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences

According to a recent report by ICO rating service ICObench, Switzerland became the second top country in terms of the amount of money raised through ICOs in the fourth quarter of 2018, having reportedly raised $238 million.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, the president of the Swiss Crypto Valley Association (CVA), Daniel Haudenschild, declared that the crypto bear market had damaged Switzerland’s position as a global blockchain hub. Haudenschild also noted that “great ideas are being shelved because they can’t find that funding,” further adding that “we need to bridge that by bringing back investors,” and “make Switzerland open and easy for companies to invest in blockchain projects.”

Ethereum’s Constantinople, St. Petersburg Upgrades Have Been Activated

Ethereum’s Constantinople, St. Petersburg Upgrades Have Been Activated

The Ethereum mainnet’s latest update, Constantinople and St. Petersburg, went live at block 7,280,000.

The Constantinople and St. Petersburg network upgrades for the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum’s (ETH), occurred today Feb. 28, according to

Specifically, the updates went live on the main network at block 7,280,000, in accordance with previously released schedule. Although the upgrade has two names of two originally separated updates, they have subsequently been combined into one.

Per, not all Ethereum users have adopted the updates. Only 22.3 percent of Geth and Parity clients are reportedly already running the Constantinople-compliant version.

Constantinople is set to bring multiple efficiency improvements to the platform, including cheaper transaction fees for some operations on the Ethereum network. As previously reported, the Constantinople hard fork was delayed in January due to a newly discovered vulnerability.

The St. Petersburg upgrade is meant to delete a previous update, Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1283, from Ethereum’s test networks, since that EIP had been identified to have security vulnerabilities.

In January, major United States cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Kraken became the latest to confirm support for Ethereum’s upgrade. The two exchanges join Binance, Huobi and OKEx, who had started to monitor the event before its first implementation attempt.

At press time, ETH is up 2.59 percent over the day and is trading at around $137.19. The altcoin started the day around $132, according to CoinMarketCap.

Crypto Exchange Coinbase Adds Support for XRP on Retail Platform and Mobile Apps

Crypto Exchange Coinbase Adds Support for XRP on Retail Platform and Mobile Apps

U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase has extended support for XRP to and its Android and iOS apps.

United States major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has added support for Ripple (XRP) to its retail platform and mobile apps. The exchange announced the development in a blog post on Feb. 28.

The announcement states that Coinbase’s users can now purchase, sell, convert, send, receive, and store XRP both on and the Coinbase Android and iOS apps.

As usual, the service will reportedly be available for most jurisdictions, however it will not initially be available for residents of the United Kingdom and the U.S. state of New York.

On Feb. 25, Coinbase announced support for XRP on its Coinbase Pro platform. In the announcement, Coinbase stated that full trading of XRP will be available to customers in the U.S., Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia, while also planning to expand its services to other countries at a later date.

Following the news, blockchain research firm Diar released a report stating that XRP is violating one of Coinbase's listing rules. Per the report, in its “Digital Asset Framework,” Coinbase states that "the ownership stake retained by the team is a minority stake," while  Ripple purportedly holds around 60 percent of the supply in escrow with a release schedule.

XRP has not yet reacted the news, up by just 0.4 percent on the day and trading at around $$0.313 at press time, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The altcoin has seen a major dip today before recovering, having dropped to as low as $0.309 earlier today.

Swiss Crypto Bank Warns Customers About Company Masquerading as Partner

Swiss Crypto Bank Warns Customers About Company Masquerading as Partner

Switzerland-based online crypto bank Dukascopy has warned clients about a “clone” company GCG Asia claiming to be affiliated with the bank.

Switzerland-based cryptocurrency bank Dukascopy has warned customers that forex trading company GCG Asia is fraudulently claiming to be the bank’s authorized firm in an announcement published on Feb. 27.

In the announcement, Dukascopy Bank —  purportedly the first regulated bank to launch its own initial coin offering (ICO) — cautions  that neither it nor any entities of Dukascopy Group have relations with GCG Asia, although the latter fraudulently claims the opposite. The warning reads:

“GCG Asia is fraudulently using Dukascopy's name and logo for attracting clients/investors, without Dukascopy Bank's permission. We are taking actions against this dishonest organisation.”

In January, European cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp partnered with Dukascopy Bank, wherein Bitstamp will support Bitcoin (BTC) transactions on behalf of Dukascopy. Customers will be able to send BTC to their accounts, convert them to U.S. dollars and trade on the Swiss FX Marketplace.

Previously, Cointelegraph reported about numerous cases of so called clone firms that carry out commercial activities while claiming to be or to be associated with well known firms. Last August, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warned investors about a “clone” company of investment firm Fair Oaks Capital Ltd. The fraudulent company, Fair Oaks Crypto — using registration data of firms authorized by the regulator — aimed to hoodwink potential scam victims by claiming that they represent Fair Oaks Capital.

That same month, the FCA issued another warning over crypto-related “fraudsters” claiming to be an FCA authorized firm. The rogue firm, Good Crypto, was purportedly giving out “false details or mix[ing] these with some correct details of the registered firm,” which in that case was London-based Arup Corporate Finance.

Hong Kong Entrepreneur Who ‘Made It Rain’ from High-Rise Arrested for Crypto Mining Fraud

Hong Kong Entrepreneur Who ‘Made It Rain’ from High-Rise Arrested for Crypto Mining Fraud

A purported Bitcoin millionaire, allegedly involved in a publicity stunt throwing money from a high-rise in Hong Kong, is now accused of mining-related fraud.

A purported Bitcoin millionaire (BTC) who was previously involved in “making it rain cash” on the streets of Hong Kong, has reportedly been arrested for mining-related fraud, the South China Morning Post reports Thursday, Feb. 28.

A 25-year old businessman named Wong Ching-kit and his 20-year-old colleague have purportedly been arrested by Commercial Crime Bureau officers at their office in Hong Kong. They are reportedly being held in custody for conspiracy to defraud investors by selling them cryptocurrency mining machines. Details on how or why these miner-related sales were considered fraudulent were not forthcoming.

As Cointelegraph reported in early January, Wong was accused of misleading numerous investors into purchasing mining hardware for a crypto token dubbed “Filecoin,” allegedly promising his clients profits on their investments within three months.

However, according to the investors, the coin was not tradeable. As SMCP then reported, the Democratic Party, which was helping those affected by the alleged fraud, said it received more than 20 complaints since October 2018. The total amount of their losses was around HK$3 million ($383,000). Some investors were demanding a full refund on their funds.

Following numerous complaints, the police promised to start a probe into Wong’s activities, which included suspected money laundering. However, the entrepreneur himself denied the accusations, claiming that he was being treated as if he killed people instead of selling mining machines.

Wong was purportedly part of a publicity stunt in Hong Kong’s relatively poor district Sham Shui Po in December 2018. The entrepreneur appeared in a video posted on his firm Epoch’s Facebook page, asking whether anyone believed that money could fall from the sky. Stacks of bank notes reportedly amounting to HK$6,000 ($764) subsequently were thrown from a nearby rooftop.

Following an incident, Wong was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct in public. However, later he was released on bail.

After a Brief Decline, Crypto Market Cap Is Stable Around $130 Billion, Stocks Are Down

After a Brief Decline, Crypto Market Cap Is Stable Around $130 Billion, Stocks Are Down

Crypto markets capitalization has been hovering around $130 billion after a major sell off on Feb. 24.

Thursday, Feb. 28 — crypto markets continued trading sideways, while the total market capitalization has remained stable around $130 billion after a major sell off on Feb. 24, according to CoinMarketCap.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is trading around $3,865, up around 0.3 percent over the past 24 hours at press time. With that, the biggest crypto has seen some volatility on the day, with its intraday low of $3,787, and the high of $3,906. After the Sunday sell off, Bitcoin is down 2.15 percent over the past seven days.

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The top altcoin Ethereum (ETH) is up less than 0.1 percent, and is trading at $137.23 at press time. The second crypto by market cap is down about 6 percent over the past seven days. Earlier today, Ethereum dropped to as low as $131.6.

Meanwhile, major upgrades of Ethereum blockchain are set to take place soon today, with both Constantinople and St. Petersburg updates scheduled to happen at Ethereum’s block 7,280,000. According to Ethereum block explorer Etherscan the Constantinople upgrade will be activated in less than one hour from press time.

Ethereum 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP), the third top cryptocurrency by market cap, is down about 0.2 percent over the day, and is trading at $0.314 at press time. Similarly to the overall trend on the market, Ripple has seen a major dip today before recovering, having dropped to as low as $0.309 earlier today. Over the past 7 days, XRP is down about two percent.

Ripple 24-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple 24-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Some of the top 20 coins are seeing more volatility on the day. Binance Coin (BNB), the tenth largest coin by market cap, is up 4.17 percent, and is trading at $10.36. In contrast, Bitcoin SV (BSV) the Craig Wright-supported hard fork of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), is down around 3.3 percent, but is still up three percent over the past seven days.

Total market cap amounts to $130 billion at press time, while daily trading volume has slightly rose to $29 billion from around $26 billion yesterday.

Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that Singapore’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC) was one of the investors that helped to raise $300 million for major United States crypto wallet provider and exchange service Coinbase in 2018.

Also today, the New York Times (NYT) posted an article alleging that social media giant Facebook is planning a highly secretive crypto initiative that intends to integrate its three fully-owned applications including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, and create a token with exposure to its totally combined 2.7 billion monthly users.

The United States stock market tumbled today amidst talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as CNBC reported. At press time, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is down 36 points, while S&P 500 dropped around 0.1 percent at press time. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.04 percent as of press time.

Oil prices have followed the downtrend of stocks, after U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations ended with no deal, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, at press time, oil prices are seeing some growth, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil and OPEC basket having rose around 0.3 and 1.3 percent respectively, according to On the other hand, Brent crude is down 0.4 percent.

According to CNBC, gold prices have almost touched its two-week lows, as the dollar recovered losses after comments from U.S. Trade Representative who weakened investors' expectations for a closure to the tariff war with China. As of press time, spot gold is down 0.38 percent at $1,315 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures are down around 0.4 percent at $1,314.

German Government to Introduce Blockchain Strategy in Mid-2019

German Government to Introduce Blockchain Strategy in Mid-2019

Germany’s blockchain strategy will be introduced in mid-2019, according to statements by the Cabinet of Germany.

The chief executive body of the German government, the Cabinet of Germany, has revealed that the country’s blockchain strategy will be introduced by mid-2019. The Cabinet commented on the development of fintech in the country on Feb. 26, following a request for information from parliamentarians in the Bundestag.

The document notes that fintech sandboxes are currently present in five member states of the European Union: Denmark, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom.

The Cabinet states that they will undergo an online consultation process prior to introducing the blockchain strategy. Per the Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy are preparing the strategy, with the expectation that other relevant ministries will contribute at a later time.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the German government is already consulting companies and industry groups that could become stakeholders in the country’s blockchain development. According to the report, unnamed organizations have been invited to make recommendations.

The report also cites unspecified government sources saying that it is unclear whether those recommendations will translate into regulation in the near future, but concrete results are currently being sought.

At the end of January, Germany’s second largest stock exchange, Boerse Stuttgart Group, officially launched its crypto-trading app Bison which enables free-of-charge trading in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP).

In January, major global securities marketplace Deutsche Boerse said it was “making significant progress” on its blockchain-based securities lending platform.

Platform Allows Users to Access Numerous Exchanges Via One Trading Termina

Platform Allows Users to Access Numerous Exchanges Via One Trading Termina

Blockchain startup seeks to aggregate crypto trading on one platform.

A startup based in Kyiv, Ukraine says its trading terminal Superorder, which is powered by automation features, can aggregate crypto trades across multiple exchanges, allowing investors to centralise their trading activities.

Superorder: Redefining trading terminals

According to the developers, Superorder is a “next generation trading terminal,” which provides users with centralized trading on any exchange from a single place.

The platform is still in its infancy, but the team say it has the ability to bring enhanced speed and convenience to crypto traders who use several exchanges.

Launched in 2018, the company was able to raise $500,000 in a funding round in August, led by Ukraine-based venture capital firm SMRK VC Fund.

While the startup says the terminal provides access to a wide array of exchanges, the platform currently supports only Bittrex, Coinbase and Malta-based Binance.

The company is working on integrating with other cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Poloniex, Bitfinex and BitMEX. According to its press release, the trading terminal works by connecting to a chosen exchange's API, which allows Superorder to interact with the platform on behalf of the user.

Superorder says it doesn't provide bots for traders to profit with. They provide a platform that “has automation flows capabilities, allowing traders to set pre-program rules that can minimize losses and maximize profits.”

While multiple trades can be executed on the terminal, the team highlights that withdrawal requests will still be carried out on the individual exchanges.

Strategy builder and chart timeframes

The platform has some features that it believes will attract professional traders. These include the ability to carry out hidden trades, an extended chart time frame and the tracking of a user’s portfolio across multiple markets.

The strategy builder is similar to a trading bot designed to take specific actions based on predetermined parameters.  Using a visual drag-and-drop editor, the strategy builder can program a sequence of activities that automates your trade.

According to the developers, traders can build automation strategies that allow partial sells for different tokens at different price levels. Automation features like Trailing Stop, which is a bit similar to the Stop Loss capabilities on popular exchanges, fills a sell order once a token gets to a specified price point.

Superorder says the strategy builder is the primary feature that demonstrates the platform’s commitment to automation and simplicity.

Hidden orders and portfolio tracking

Hidden Order is a feature the company says would provide traders with privacy. It's similar to going incognito on the market, allowing the users to execute multiple trades in an undisclosed manner.

Portfolio tracking allows the trader to monitor the performances of their holdings. Superorder says its trading terminal can gather data from various exchanges to ensure that the users are always up to speed regarding the value of their digital assets.

Superorder is still in beta, as the developers are still working on the final iteration of the terminal. When it launches, the terminal will work with a monthly paid subscription. Access to the trading terminal will cost $15/month (for the annual plan) or $19.99 paid monthly. The subscription plan will provide access to the full suite of Superorder tools.

Users can join the waiting list, which qualifies them to get two months free access on the platform.

Learn more about Superorder

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

Blockchain Advocacy Coalition Sponsors Bill to Allow Crypto for Legal Cannabis Tax

Blockchain Advocacy Coalition Sponsors Bill to Allow Crypto for Legal Cannabis Tax

BAC Weed bill.jpg

Activist group Blockchain Advocacy Coalition (BAC) has sponsored a bill in California’s 19th State Assembly District, set to allow legal cannabis businesses in the district to pay their state taxes using cryptocurrency. The bill was proposed by Assemblymember Phil Ting on February 20, 2019.

If put into law, it would affect the district’s many cannabis businesses, particularly all of those in San Francisco.

Logistical Barriers: Delivering Bags of Cash

One of the most prominent driving factors behind this bill, and where the decentralized nature of financial blockchain technology really has a chance to shine, is the fact that banks lack cooperation with these businesses. Citing a conflict with federal law, many financial institutions refuse to let cannabis businesses open bank accounts, thereby cutting off this multibillion-dollar industry from using digital money transfers.

“The current recommendation from the state of California to cannabis businesses is that they use armored vehicles to pay their taxes,” said Alexandra Medina of the BAC. “That’s inefficient and risky. It’s closer to how one might pay taxes during the gold rush, with a stage coach and gunman, than how you would expect California to accept taxes in 2019.”

This current approach is a logistical “nightmare for cities, the state and businesses,” she claimed. It’s dangerous to money couriers, and it forces revenue agencies “to count tens of thousands of bills,” causing tax offices to “smell like weed and fabric softener.”

So far, there has been little progress made to alleviate the situation. “The previous state treasurer convened a working group to solve this issue, and a year later their report did not have a solution,” said Medina. The physical cash transport is “a problem the state has tried and failed to solve.”

Opportunities for Blockchain and Open Finance

Medina called the new bill “a great use case for blockchain and open finance.” To this end, the Blockchain Advocacy Coalition will help educate policymakers about the basics of digital currency and blockchain technology in the hopes of getting the bill passed.

The group has already hosted roundtables for the state’s new treasurer, Fiona Ma, and Governor Gavin Newsom. “They are both very tech savvy and innovative leaders for our state,” said Medina. “Now is a really good time to introduce something like this.”

In the grander scheme, Medina believes that “California has the opportunity to turn around a lack of regulatory clarity” and serve as an example for other states in the Union.

Getting the Bill Passed

At present, getting the bill passed is the group’s main concern. The bill recommends using a stablecoin for these tax payments, but in its current form it will not be prescribing a specific stablecoin. For now, according to Medina, the bill’s supporters will “work to create standards for what kind of coins and wallets the state uses to make sure we have the highest degree of stability and safety for both the state and businesses.”

Medina claimed that the group has already supported two bills that were signed into law in the last year. This new bill will start going through the assembly committee(s) in March and April and has until the end of May to pass the Assembly. Then it will repeat the process with the Senate; it has to get through committee and through the Senate floor by September 13, 2019. If all of these processes go smoothly, and the governor signs it into law by October 13, 2019, Medina expects the bill to be implemented by June 2020.

Medina said that in the BAC’s previous campaigns, over 50 businesses signed support letters for their initiatives, and the group “would like an even stronger showing this year.”

She added that the group has plans to organize “a blockchain education day, where industry advocates can meet with legislators 1:1 and answer questions about the technology and bill,” before the vote reaches the Senate.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

New York Times: Facebook Reportedly Shopping ‘Facebook Coin’ to Crypto Exchanges

New York Times: Facebook Reportedly Shopping ‘Facebook Coin’ to Crypto Exchanges

According to the Times, five sources that claim to have been briefed with the project have confirmed Facebook’s progress on its crypto.

Facebook is “hoping to succeed where Bitcoin failed” with its highly secretive cryptocurrency project, a New York Times (NYT) article published today, Feb. 28, argues.

Citing multiple anonymous sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Times pieces together the alleged contours of the project, which will reportedly aim to integrate cryptocurrency payments into its messaging services.

Notably, Facebook plans to rehaul its messaging infrastructure and integrate its three wholly-owned apps — WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram — under one canopy. As the Times notes, this would provide a future crypto token with exposure across the combined 2.7 billion who use the three services each month.

A crypto-powered payments system that would operate from within a messaging system, the Times notes, is an idea being hotly pursued by several global messaging giants, such as Korea’s Kakao, Line in Japan, and Russian-developed Telegram.

According to NYT, Facebook launched its crypto project — led by ex-PayPal president David Marcus — shortly after Telegram had sealed close to $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering (ICO) rounds for its forthcoming token and blockchain platform Telegram Open Network (TON).

Facebook has reportedly employed over 50 engineers to develop its cryptocurrency, three unnamed sources told the NYT. A further two told the newspaper that the importance of keeping the project under wraps is such that the relevant team has been given an office with separate key-card access to keep the details private from other employees.

Notably, five sources claiming to have been briefed on the team’s work alleged the forthcoming coin was most likely to be a fiat-pegged stablecoin — tied to the value of three different national fiat currencies, rather than just one.

The NYT notes, citing the anonymous sources, that Facebook has already begun shopping the “Facebook coin” around to unnamed crypto exchanges.

The question of centralization — and how far Facebook will allow its digital coin transactions to be decentralized, remains moot, according to NYT. Moreover, the Times cites industry experts who argued that Facebook is likely to face the same technological limitations and regulatory hurdles that have beset stalwart cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC).

As reported, unconfirmed reports of Facebook’s plans to integrate a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp users previously surfaced in December 2019. At the time, anonymous sources similarly suggested the token would be a stablecoin.

The trickle of information about the project aligns with the last year's job listings for blockchain talent on Facebook’s career page, as Cointelegraph has reported.

South Africa’s Standard Bank to Launch Permissioned Blockchain for Overseas Exchange Services

South Africa’s Standard Bank to Launch Permissioned Blockchain for Overseas Exchange Services

Standard Bank will launch its private permissioned blockchain for overseas exchange trades with the participation of its Ugandan partner.

South Africa’s Standard Bank will soon launch its private permissioned blockchain for overseas exchange trades on behalf of corporate clients, fintech news outlet FinExtra reports Thursday, Feb. 28.

The platform, which is set to go live in the second half of 2019, is based on the Hyperledger Fabric — a foundation for developing applications or solutions for enterprise with a modular architecture. The South African bank is also planning to connect its foreign currency trading app, Shyft, to the blockchain platform.

The blockchain-driven system is expected to speed up the processing of international trades, foreign exchange payments and settlement. In addition, Standard Bank hopes to increase the transparency of transactions, as all the documents will be available for all parties in real time.

Richard de Roos, head of foreign exchange for Standard Bank, says that the blockchain solution is likely to reduce the incidence of trade failure, while increasing regulatory transparency and improving the visibility of liquidity.

Initially, the solution will be used by Standard Bank and its partner in Uganda, Stanbic Bank, along with third parties directly involved in trades.

Moreover, as the South African bank also works with the Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICBC) of China, the permissioned blockchain can further be extended to that partnership. De Roos confirmed that the bank and 20 of its franchises are currently negotiating with ICBC to extend the hub into Asia, Finextra reports.

Earlier this year, a working group of South African financial regulatory organizations had released a consultation paper focusing on cryptocurrencies. In the paper, the country’s officials called for public input to develop a cryptocurrency regulation policy for South Africa.

More recently, Intel has launched a commercial blockchain package based on the Hyperledger Fabric and using Intel’s hardware, including Xeon processors and Ethernet Network Adaptors. The new product is designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchain.

Crypto Brokerage Firm Voyager From Uber’s Former CTO Acquires Wallet Startup Ethos

Crypto Brokerage Firm Voyager From Uber’s Former CTO Acquires Wallet Startup Ethos

Voyager Digital, a crypto brokerage firm co-founded by a former CTO of Uber, is acquiring crypto wallet startup Ethos.

Voyager Digital, a crypto brokerage firm co-founded by a former CTO of Uber, is acquiring crypto wallet startup Ethos, an announcement published by Voyager on Feb. 27 reveals.

This acquisition is building on a strategic partnership between Ethos and Voyager, which was first announced in September last year. According to the announcement, the Ethos Universal Wallet software, first released in July 2018, will be integrated into Voyager’s retail and institutional businesses enabling self-custody integrated with a brokerage solution.

With the acquisition, Voyager will also obtain access to Ethos Bedrock, an enterprise blockchain application. With Bedrock, the company reportedly hopes to strengthen its institutional offering and allow businesses of any kind to build blockchain-enabled applications in the custody, payments and investments spaces.

Shingo Lavine, founder and CEO of Ethos, will reportedly join Voyager as chief blockchain officer. Crypto outlet Coindesk reports that Voyager will pay for the acquisition with 7 million of its shares, which are quoted at CA$0.77 ($.66) at press time. This translates to an acquisition price of about CA$5.39 million (a little over $4 million).

The acquisition is expected to take place at the end of March and the price will not be paid fully upfront, as 3.3 million shares will reportedly be handed over immediately and 1 million held in escrow and released over two years, while 2.6 million will be withheld for 24 months. Coindesk writes that Voyager will also reportedly gain some Ethos tokens, which were issued in its initial coin offering (ICO) in July 2017 — when the company was known as Bituence — raising nearly $1.7 million.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, Voyager has gone public on Canada’s TSX Venture Exchange following the completion of a so-called reverse takeover.

Grim Stories of Ethical, Privacy Abuses Emerge About Coinbase’s New Partners

Grim Stories of Ethical, Privacy Abuses Emerge About Coinbase’s New Partners

Neutrino Coinbase

When Coinbase acquired Neutrino for an unspecified amount in February 2019, the news looked like business as usual: A cryptocurrency juggernaut had made another acquisition. But the company in question, specifically the ties it has to the unethical practices of one of its predecessors, suggests that the monolithic Coinbase may be joining the oligarchic ranks of its privacy-hostile, too-big-for-consumer-comfort counterparts in legacy tech.

The Ties That Damn

On its website, Italian blockchain analysis company Neutrino proudly advertises that its proprietary software offers all-in-one “solutions for law enforcement” and “financial services.” Its two flagships, XFlow nSpect and XFlow nSight, are billed as “comprehensive solution[s] for monitoring[,] analyzing and tracking cryptocurrency flows across multiple blockchains.” nSight was built to help exchanges and financial service companies like Coinbase to stay regulatorily compliant. nSpect, on the other hand, was built for “criminal investigations and intelligence gathering” and is specifically marketed toward law enforcement.

Continuing on with their work at Coinbase, the Neutrino team, a three-man show consisting of CEO Giancarlo Russo, CRO Marco Valleri and CTO Alberto Ornaghi, are no strangers to building complex computer monitoring software for law agencies.

In another life, they did it as Hacking Team, the notorious Italian software services firm whose dubious business practices made them an antagonist of the wider tech and privacy community. Hacking Team got their start when Valleri and Ornaghi (under the aliases NaGa and ALoR) sold man-in-the-middle attack software to the police force of Milan, Italy, in 2003. These two founders would later be joined by Russo, who acted as COO of the company.

Throughout its history, Hacking Team sold its services to oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Sudan, Kazakhstan, Bahrain and Turkey, among others. These services centered around Hacking Team’s proprietary Remote Control System (RCS) software, a Trojan horse malware that gives users the ability to remotely access files, record keystrokes, take photos and read emails from any infected device.

Email leaks reported by The Intercept trace the team’s cyber footprints to human rights abuses around the world. Hacking Team’s RCS technology was used by the Ethiopian government (which ranks as one of the most oppressive in Africa, with a penchant for silencing free speech) to surveil and interfere with the operations of Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio, a news outlet run by Ethiopian expats. The technology helped the Turkish government to spy on an American, and it was also sold to the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service in 2012 for a whopping €960,000 (around $1,210,000 at the time), though the team shuttered Sudan’s access to their software in 2014 when the government’s clumsy implementation of the software showed that they weren’t “enough prepared for the product usage,” Hacking Team emails reveal. It also played its part in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia and the assault and arrest of UAE activist Ahmed Mansoor.

Reporters Without Borders labeled Hacking Team as one of five “Enemies of the Internet” in 2013 for its role in humanitarian abuses against journalists.

During the 2012 uprisings in Morocco that were inspired by the Arab Spring movement, RCS, under the control of the Moroccan government, singled out, an outlet that published journalists who were vocal critics of the regime. The leaked emails prove that Hacking Team had been selling its software to Morocco since 2010. This would culminate in Mamfakinch’s hardware being infected by a Trojan horse virus, which originally masqueraded as a news tip.

“ came as the first citizen media portal to document protests, providing tools like mapping of protests and also articles. At the time it started, I was not a member. I was asked to join later by one of the co-founders,” Zineb, a pro-democracy activist who was involved with Mamfakinch, told Bitcoin Magazine.

The outlet employed the help of the Citizen Lab to dismantle the virus and trace it back to its Hacking Team source, though most of the damage had already been done by the time they consulted this help.

“Moroccan activists suffer tremendously from what government surveillance provides them with, and former ones like myself have seen what that can be like. From physical threats to family threats, and even worse threats to fellow activists who were part of the human rights and digital rights effort in Morocco,” she said.

Hacking Team repeatedly refused to disclose its clients, and the internal emails betray that, more often than not, when their ties to human rights abuses and oppressive regimes were unearthed by international media, they always tried to mitigate the scrutiny and severity of the ensuing bad press.

In June of 2014, a U.N. panel inquired into Hacking Team’s business with Sudan for violating sanctions regarding weapons exports to the country. The U.N. considered Hacking Team’s software a weapon of sorts, something that Russo refutes in internal emails while also emphasizing that the team wants to keep its name clear from any records regarding the investigation.

“It looks like their focus is to trace every single armament,” wrote Russo. “We absolutely need to avoid being mentioned in these documents.”

Why Coinbase (and We) Should Care

The U.N. investigative panel would mark the beginning of Hacking Team’s unraveling. By March 2016, the Italian government revoked Hacking Team’s export license after an Italian PhD student was murdered in Cairo, Egypt. Hacking Team’s software was allegedly involved in the crime. With the company’s revenue streams severely restricted, Hacking Team was on its last financial leg.

Conveniently, Neutrino was founded the same year that Italian officials revoked Hacking Team’s export license, “very obviously around the time that they would have been desperate for money and needing to start fresh somehow,” Janine, a member of crypto podcast Block Digest who initially raised the alarm about Hacking Team and Neutrino’s ties, told Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Magazine spoke to Janine to learn more about the possible ramifications of this acquisition. In addition to her work at Block Digest, Janine has been a consistent and reliable whistleblower for industry developments that could indicate privacy threats. In the past, she also helped dissect community concerns surrounding the privacy implications of Bitfury’s Peach Lightning suite.

As with the Bitfury situation, Janine has covered every angle of Neutrino and Hacking Team’s shared past on Twitter, and she helped Block Digest produce a two-hour segment on the subject, as well.

Since Neutrino was acquired by Coinbase, the team is more than financially secure. Furthermore, as part of the deal, it will continue to act autonomously out of Coinbase’s London office. The exchange framed the buyout as a means to outfit itself with the proper tools to remain KYC- and AML-compliant with regulators. Janine points out that the company will likely make use of XFlow nSight to this end, though she’s also worried that Neutrino’s technology will come with more serious privacy trade-offs than nSight’s base functionality.

“The chain analysis stuff is not really that interesting to me; it is how much access Coinbase will give to Neutrino,” she told Bitcoin Magazine.

More specifically, she expressed concern about Money Module, a Hacking Team software that allows the user to access devices and private keys. Janine is also suspicious of the backdoors that Hacking Team coded into their software: “They likely had access to whatever data these government clients were collecting from their targets.”

If Coinbase forks over too much data to Neutrino for transaction analysis, and if a backdoor to the software exists in tandem with Money Module, this could spell disaster for user privacy and private key security.

That this backdoor may exist alongside a vehicle for stealing user funds is disturbing — even more disturbing, Janine and other critics have suggested, is Coinbase’s ability to overlook the history of unethical business practices of Neutrino’s team.

When Bitcoin Magazine reached out to Coinbase to ask about the acquisition and how it plans to use Neutrino, the exchange sent back a general statement, indicating that they are aware of and don’t condone Hacking Team’s practices. But this past behavior is not enough for Coinbase to distance themselves from a team whose expertise is in line with its vision:

We are aware that Neutrino’s co-founders previously worked at Hacking Team, which we reviewed as part of our security, technical and hiring diligence. Coinbase does not condone nor will it defend the actions of Hacking Team. Increasingly, third-party blockchain analysis companies are requesting customer data from cryptocurrency companies that they serve. It was important for Coinbase to bring this function in-house to fully control and protect our customers’ data and Neutrino’s technology was the best we encountered in the space to achieve this goal.

Zineb, who is also a crypto enthusiast, told us that it’s disheartening to see the same privacy-compromising and autocratic software eke its way into the cryptocurrency space. You expect this from the legacy tech industry, she expressed, but you don’t expect it in an industry whose tenets rest on privacy, freedom and censorship resistance.

“To have Coinbase acquire anything run by anyone ever associated with Hacking Team is alarming,” she said. “Perhaps Coinbase is clueless as to WHY it’s important to protect [these virtues], but I’m not. When banks freeze or easily hand over private financial information of dissidents in autocratic countries, that’s when a system like [Bitcoin] is needed.

“They say this is to protect user data. But how can they possibly trust that those who engaged in such appalling actions would somehow have Coinbase user data privacy’s best interest at heart? I can’t say much for others but I can only speak for myself: I won’t be using any of their tools in the future, and shame on them for allowing the Hacking Team people to continue to thrive."

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

China’s 10th Crypto Rankings: EOS Still in First, TRON Joins and Beats Ethereum to Second

China’s 10th Crypto Rankings: EOS Still in First, TRON Joins and Beats Ethereum to Second

China’s Center for Information and Industry Development released its monthly crypto rankings, adding TRON.

China’s state-backed tech workgroup has released its tenth crypto rankings report, placing Bitcoin (BTC) in 13th, while EOS (EOS) keeps its top spot. The monthly report was released by China’s Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID) on Feb. 26.

Operating under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, CCID first launched its monthly crypto ratings report in May 2018, and awarded major altcoin Ethereum (ETH) the top-rated crypto position out of the original 28 coins.

In its latest crypto rankings report, CCID has added a new entrant to the list, having analyzed 35 digital coins instead of 34 cryptos like in the previous report. Having entered the rating list, TRON (TRX) has beaten Ethereum and placed second.

CCID's Global Blockchain Technology Assessments Index / Top 10

Previously ranked 15th, biggest cryptocurrency Bitcoin has come up to 13th in the CCID’s rankings.

NEM (XEM) has been ranked with the lowest position at number 35, having lost its higher position to major altcoin Litecoin (LTC).

Since June 2018, the CCID has been featuring EOS as the top cryptocurrency in terms of three aspects: basic technology, application and innovation. EOS is currently the fourth top cryptocurrency by market cap at press time, accounting for $3.2 billion of the total market of around $130 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Recently, Cointelegraph reported on hackers who managed to move around $7.7 million in EOS from a hacked account due to an alleged update failure by one of the EOS block producers. In early February, the EOS team was reported to have handed over a number of $10,000 bounties for critical vulnerability reports.