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Blockchain Bites: China’s Tether Crackdown, CME’s Bustling Bitcoin Markets, Kin’s ‘Active Development’

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Chinese officials are cracking down on tether trades. The CME bitcoin futures exchange is heating up, signalling institutional interest. And Kik’s kin token will continue development following a $5 million SEC settlement. 

Top shelf

Ripple, across the pond
Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has given more insight on the company’s possible move away from the U.S., saying the legal status of the XRP cryptocurrency is key. Talking to CNBC Friday, Garlinghouse said his blockchain payments infrastructure company could potentially relocate to London, where the nation’s regulator “clarified” that XRP is not a security and is used like currency. Ripple is currently engaged in a U.S. legal dispute with investors who claim XRP is an illegally issued security. The Securities and Exchange Commission has not been clear on the issue. Switzerland, Singapore, Japan and the United Arab Emirates are also on the table for potential headquarters.

Tether crackdown
Chinese authorities, including the nation’s central bank, have arrested 77 suspects and shuttered three gambling sites said to have “whitewashed” illicit funds using the tether (USDT) stablecoin. Announced over WeChat, the PBoC’s Huizhou office said the suspects had laundered 120 million yuan ($17.95 million) obtained through illegal online gambling activity, in part through USDT. In July, several crypto over-the-counter (OTC) traders were detained in order to assist with state investigation efforts involving illegal economic activity. It is “illegal to open casinos and participate in gambling online,” the PBoC said. “Don’t be curious and lucky. Any ‘disguise’ can’t escape high-pressure supervision.”

Institutional interest
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has become the second-biggest bitcoin futures platform by number of open contracts, signaling institutional interest. As of Thursday, bitcoin futures contracts worth $790 million were open on the CME, according to data source Skew, topping 15% of the total global open interest. “The CME’s rise is predominantly led by institutional participation, as most entrants from that segment are prohibited from dealing in unregulated derivatives listed on retail platforms such as BitMEX and Binance,” said Matthew Dibb, co-founder of Stack Funds. This happens as rival options exchange BitMEX targets DeFi-focused futures listings, including yearn.finance (YFI). 

Whopping buy
Grayscale Investments has added $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies to its balance sheet in a single day, CEO Barry Silbert tweeted late Thursday evening. The additional sum brings the total held under management to $7.3 billion. “The move comes at a time when the hype surrounding PayPal’s foray into the crypto markets has drawn additional attention from big-name investors including Paul Tudor Jones II,” CoinDesk’s Sebastian Sinclair reports, and follows on the digital asset manager’s best quarterly results to date announced last week. (Grayscale is CoinDesk’s sister firm, both owned by Digital Currency Group, of which Silbert is a founder.)

Kicking back?
Kik’s $5 million Securities and Exchange Commission settlement won’t kill kin, the non-profit behind the token announced. The “cloud of uncertainty has dissipated,” the Kin Foundation claimed in a blog post. With Kik’s remaining treasury and Kin’s reserves, project leaders intend to continue “active development” of the open-source Kin SDK, the new Code wallet and a switch to the Solana blockchain. The foundation also alleged the SEC isn’t considering Kin a security and the judge didn’t find the token in violation of securities laws. Therefore, Kin “should be free to trade on exchanges.”

Most Influential 2020: Cast Your Vote
2020 has not been a good year by most metrics. There is no way to avoid this in a year-end retrospective.

Every year, CoinDesk recognizes the “Most Influential” people working to expand cryptocurrency and blockchain’s reach. It’s a list of the 10 outsized individuals who have gone the furthest and done the most.

In this most unusual year, we need your help determining who should be named as Most Influential. Check out the list of the top contenders and cast your vote by Oct. 31.

Quick bites

At stake

What’s immaterial?
In the buzz around PayPal’s announcement to extend crypto trading and transaction services to a third of a billion users, the fintech giant’s negative role in bringing bitcoin to national attention may have been elided. 

Last night, Bitcoin OG Jameson Lopp, tweeted, “9 years ago PayPal paved the way for proving Bitcoin’s value to the world when they shut down WikiLeaks’ account.”

In what was called “potentially the most significant attack on WikiLeaks” at the time, PayPal, then one of the principle means of moving money online, froze the German foundation’s account. This action was a wake up call for some about the dangers of web censorship. 

Satoshi Nakamoto, when creating Bitcoin, had been thinking about financial freedom and the power that banks and payment processors have to revoke it, based on their own contingent, ever-changing and unequally-applied “terms of service.” 

Of course, some of Nakamoto’s last words to early Bitcoin advocates were to resist using bitcoin to fund Wikileaks. He thought the network was too young and fragile to incur the government and public scrutiny that would result from supporting a bank-blocked organization.

It’s with some irony that PayPal has reentered the picture. As reported, the firm’s crypto services will be fully-custodial, fully-KYC’d and will fall under its terms of use. 

So why enter? CoinDesk’s Danny Nelson reported yesterday that Morgan Stanley analysts believe the cryptocurrency community will likely benefit more than PayPal’s bottom line from the services. 

The move “should expand crypto acceptance online, which to date has stalled at 1% of the top 500 internet retailers,” wrote the Morgan Stanley analysts. While the services will “likely [be] immaterial to earnings.”

With rumor saying PayPal is also exploring purchases of cryptocurrency companies including bitcoin custodian BitGo, the question of what is good for crypto becomes more urgent.

Who won #CryptoTwitter?

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MicroStrategy Buys Additional 13,005 Bitcoin for $489 Million

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With the current BTC price, MicroStrategy’s total Bitcoin holding is worth more than $3.4 billion.

MicroStrategy Inc (NASDAQ: MSTR) has continued its Bitcoin acquisition spree as it has purchased another $489 million worth of BTC. As of the 21st of June, the Nasdaq-listed business intelligence company holds 105,085 Bitcoins.

The company announced its latest Bitcoin acquisition earlier today. According to the company, the newly acquired BTC totaled 13,005 at an average price of about $37,617, fees and expenses included. The purchase came after MicroStrategy generated $500 million in cash from the sale of debt to fund the purchase of BTC.

Before MicroStrategy purchased the most recent Bitcoin, the company had unveiled plans to buy Bitcoin in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the filing, MicroStrategy said it would be selling up to 1 billion of its class A common stock through an “Open Market Sale Agreement” with Jefferies LLC. The company added that proceeds from the stock sales would be used to buy more Bitcoin. MicroStrategy explained:

We intend to use the net proceeds from the sale of any Class A common stock offered under the prospectus for general corporate purposes, including the acquisition of bitcoin, unless otherwise indicated in the applicable prospectus supplement.

MicroStrategy Focuses on Bitcoin Acquisition

In addition, MicroStrategy has made Bitcoin acquisition a focus for the company. The company said that it mainly pursues two corporate strategies. Apart from growing its enterprise analytics software business, a major strategy for the company is to acquire and hold BTC.

In the SEC filing, the Nasdaq-listed company added that it is currently seeking opportunities to implement Bitcoin-related technologies like blockchain analytics into its software offerings. Also, the company intends to hold its Bitcoin holdings long-term and not engage in regular trading.

MicroStrategy became the first publicly-traded company to buy Bitcoin in August 2020. At the time, the company bought 21,454 BTC worth $250 million, making BTC its primary treasury reserve asset. When MicroStrategy made its initial Bitcoin purchase, BTC was trading at $11,653 per coin. This means that the price of Bitcoin has surged about 5 times since the first purchase.

After debuting into the crypto space in August last year, MicroStrategy had purchased more and held more than 90,000 BTCs before its latest acquisition, announced on the 21st of June.

At the time of writing, Bitcoin is hovering around $33,000. With the current BTC price, MicroStrategy’s total Bitcoin holding is worth more than $3.4 billion. According to MicroStrategy, its new subsidiary – MacroStrategy, manages about 92,079 BTC of its coins.

MSTR stock is currently at $595.79, a 7.64% decline over its previous close of $646.46. The company has grown nearly 403% in the last twelve months and 53.57% in its year-to-date record. In addition, MicroStrategy stock has gained more than 26% over the past month. However, MSTR has shed 17.65% over the past three months and has dropped 0.30% in the last five days.

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Ibukun is a crypto/finance writer interested in passing relevant information, using non-complex words to reach all kinds of audience. Apart from writing, she likes to see movies, cook, and explore restaurants in the city of Lagos, where she resides.



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Wise Fintech to Go Public via Direct Listing on London Stock Exchange

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In the future, Wise plans to roll out OwnWise, a client shareholder program that will allow its users to own a stake in the company.

British fintech Wise, formerly TransferWise, announced Thursday its plans to go public via a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The money transfer company said it had sufficient funding and therefore, did not require underwriters or issuing of new shares.

Wise will pioneer direct listing in London, a deal which will be finalized on July 5. Sources speculate the listing could value Wise at anywhere between $6-7 billion, up from its latest $5 billion valuations. This would also make it one of the biggest floats this year.

Founded in 2010, Wise has managed to accumulate 10 million customers who use its services to send £5 billion ($7 billion) every month. Its rivals include Western Union and MoneyGram in addition to startups like WorldRemit and Revolut.

Since 2017, Wise’s track record shows consistent profitability with a 54% annual growth rate. The latest 2021 fiscal year report shows it made £30.9 million in profits out of the £421 million ($589 million) sales revenue. This year, the company’s payments app registered £54.4 billion of international transfers for 6 million clients.

Wise Listing on LSE

Listing the giant company is a great accomplishment for London as it competes with “The Big Board”, New York Stock Exchange Group (NYSE), to attract more high growth and Blue-chip firms. As of 2020, the NYSE had 2800 company stocks and its market cap as of June, 2021 was $24.68 trillion. LSE, on the other hand, has listed over 1300 companies and its market cap is at 40.08 from today’s MarketWatch data.

To further this development, the British government is considering increasing leniency in firm enlisting guidelines to encourage issuing of dual-class shares. However, European stock markets have been hit with a lot of volatility this year, with at least two IPO cancellations in recent weeks.

The dual share structure is what Wise is opting for as it allows them to retain voting control while accommodating investors and customers into their shareholder base. At present, however, it locks them out of the lucrative Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) indices.

Nevertheless, the company intends to issue both class A and class B shares with the latter holding the privilege of 9 votes per share. The expiry for Class B shares is in the fifth year following Wise’s IPO. It is likely for concerns to arise over this structure as it may give executives excessive influence on shareholder votes.

In the future, Wise plans to roll out OwnWise, a client shareholder program that will allow its users to own a stake in the company. Financial endeavors for the company are advised by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Citigroup.

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A financial analyst who sees positive income in both directions of the market (bulls & bears). Bitcoin is my crypto safe haven, free from government conspiracies.
Mythology is my mystery!
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.”



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JPMorgan Acquires Nutmeg Robo-Advisor, Furthering UK Retail Banking

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Before the deal, JPMorgan and Nutmeg had partnered late last year to offer clients an assortment of globally diversified exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) said Thursday it has closed a deal to purchase Nutmeg, an online investment management service, for an unnamed price. US biggest bank hopes the agreement, which awaits regulatory approval, will complement its launch of a standalone digital bank brand in the UK during the year.

Using the latest technology from Nutmeg will help boost JPMorgan’s retail and institutional push since the company aims at establishing as many branches as it can outside the US.

With over £3.5 billion (4.9 billion) worth of assets under management, the decade-old Nutmeg is one of the UK leading and award-winning robo-advisors. The company offers various investment accounts including Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), general investment, and pensions accounts.

Additionally, its competitors include Wealthsimple, Moneybox, and Moneyfarm. Before the take-over, Nutmeg had raised over $150 million in investments from Goldman Sachs and the British venture capital firm – Balderton Capital.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon stated last year that the banking giant would be “much more aggressive” in adding assets by conducting more acquisitions. The bank may also be stepping up to competition from adversary Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) which, in recent years, has spent $20 billion in merger agreements with E-trade and Eaton Vance.

Dimon also mentioned leveling up against blue-chip tech firm Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and other fintech firms such as PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL).

JPMorgan Stock Market and Nutmeg Acquisition

Before the deal, JPMorgan and Nutmeg had partnered late last year to offer clients an assortment of globally diversified exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This is not the first time the bank has partnered with a company then acquired it later. In October 2020, JPMorgan partnered with 55ip, a tax-smart fintech start-up, then bought it a couple of months down the line.

Differing regulatory guidelines in Europe and the UK made it necessary for JPMorgan to purchase the robo-advisor, rather than use investment technology available in the US. However, its US-based investment service You Invest is currently doing well, with assets valued at about $50 billion, as Dimon states.

JPMorgan’s tech initiative marks one among many happening in Britain’s retail banking sector. Banks such as Revolut, Starling, and Monzo manage digital-only checking accounts which have attracted a host of clients. Going by data from Innovate Finance, FinTechs in the UK probably make up the world’s largest markets, having pulled in $4.1 billion investment from venture capitalists as of last year.

JPMorgan Securities served as financial advisor in the JPMorgan-Nutmeg transaction, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted as legal counsel. Arma Partners was Nutmeg’s financial advisor and Taylor Wessing was legal counsel.

As of June 17, 2021, at 7:59 p.m. EDT, JPMorgan stock closed at $151.76, down 2.89%. In the after-hours session, it was trading at $151.48, down 0.18% in 24-hours.

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A financial analyst who sees positive income in both directions of the market (bulls & bears). Bitcoin is my crypto safe haven, free from government conspiracies.
Mythology is my mystery!
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.”



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