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Blockchain Bites: Buterin’s Stake, Google’s Bitcoin Searches, Square’s Bustling BTC Business

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Cash App generated over $1 billion in bitcoin revenues for Square in Q3. Vitalik Buterin sent 3,200 ETH to Ethereum 2.0’s deposit contract. Google search data shows little “FOMO” amid the current market bull run.

Top shelf

Monster quarter
Cash App, the mobile payment service of Square (helmed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey), generated $1.63 billion in bitcoin revenue and $32 million in bitcoin gross profit for Square during the third quarter of 2020, according to the company’s Q3 investor letter. This is 11 times more in bitcoin revenue than Q2’s $875 million, when Square profited $17 million from selling bitcoin. Still, Square’s bitcoin business has relatively tame profits for a money services business, with profit margins shy of 2%. In an earnings call, Dorsey said, “We believe [bitcoin] will be the native currency of the internet, and help people thrive around the world and the economy.”

Buterin’s stake
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has sent 3,200 ether, worth around $1.4 million, to Ethereum 2.0’s newly launched deposit contract. Ethereum 2.0 is making progress on its transition to proof-of-stake, which will progress to the next phase of readiness once 524,288 ether are staked in the contract. The deposit contract now holds 38,693 ether, worth some $17 million. Industry publication TrustedNodes reports that Buterin’s “VB2” address sent 100 transactions in total.

VASP
South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) is seeking legal amendments that would make it mandatory for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) – generally meaning custodians, wallet providers or brokerages – within the country to report the names of their customers. The change is part of a larger sweep affecting most money services (from gift cards to electronically registered stocks) to help guard against money laundering. If approved, VASPs will be required to use real-name accounts in their financial transactions with customers and implement other data security measures. The rules are aligned with FATF’s “travel rule” recommendations.

Identity
Several Spanish companies, including Banco Santander, have grouped together to develop a “self-managed” digital identity system using blockchain technology. The organization, Dalion, said the “secure and reliable” ID platform could be used in car rentals, insurance and loan applications, and sign-ups at utility providers. Designed to give users control over personal information it also streamlines “tedious” form filling by automatically providing the validated data required by the requesting entity. Using the Quorum blockchain, the group said, will ensure that data has not been altered. The system could roll out in May 2021.

Quick bites

  • Buggy code in a Compound Finance fork froze $1 million in ethereum tokens. (CoinDesk)
  • The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is pursuing antitrust action against Visa’s planned $5.3 billion acquisition of fintech, and crypto-friendly, firm Plaid. (CoinDesk)
  • “Crypto Twitter is not as influential as it likes to think, according to researchers at BDCenter.” (Decrypt)
  • Grayscale’s Ethereum Trust hits $1 billion in assets under management. (The Block)
  • Andy Edstrom: Financial advisors, Bitcoin is the next Amazon. (CoinDesk)

Market intel

No FOMO
Despite climbing to levels last seen in the 2017 bitcoin bubble, web search data suggest little crypto “FOMO” among the masses. After getting close to $16,000 yesterday, bitcoin is still trading in the mid-$15K range, nearly 120% up on a year-to-date basis. Google Trends, a barometer used to gauge general interest in trending topics, is currently returning a value of 10 for the worldwide search query “bitcoin price” – significantly lower than the value of 93 observed in early December 2017 following bitcoin’s record break above $15,000.

At stake

Gradually, then suddenly
CoinDesk’s head of research, Noelle Acheson, thinks crypto is still in the “gradual” phase of “gradually, then suddenly.” Reading the tea leaves of headlines – from PayPal’s crypto play to Microstrategy’s bitcoin buy – in October can create the image that mass adoption is right around the corner. The truth is, crypto is still maturing.

In the latest CoinDesk Monthly Review (available for download here), the team looks back at some key Bitcoin and Ethereum performance metrics from last month. What was found is gathering momentum, and an ever clearer sense of real use cases, albeit gradually.

Notably, Ethereum’s volatility, transaction count and fees have cooled – after a summer that saw the second-largest blockchain “flippen” Bitcoin in many of those key measures.

In September, ETH’s 30-day volatility (annualized) spiked approximately 110%. While bitcoin’s volatility flattened throughout October, ether’s declined – a signal that “the ETH market is still more immature than that of BTC,” Acheson and CoinDesk research analyst Christine Kim write.

Further, average transaction fees on Ethereum fell over 80% in October, retracing September’s sharp increase. A similar drop in miner revenues also occurred, as dapp activity cooled.

“This is a positive sign for the network, which in recent months has been pushed to its limits by the splashy debuts of new DeFi assets such as COMP, SUSHI and others,” they write.

It’s likely that many more rises and falls are in store before Ethereum “suddenly” takes hold.

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Apple to Debut Faster Watch with Temperature and Glucose Testing Capabilities, AAPL Stock Slightly Up

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Beyond the company’s move in seeking advancement in its smartwatch, it is also working assiduously to explore new areas, notably in the Apple car pursuits.

American multinational technology company Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) is set to debut a faster model of Apple Watch as the tech giant seeks to beat competitors in terms of product performance. Per a Bloomberg report citing people close to the company’s plans, the proposed new Apple Watches will also brandish the abilities to check temperatures and user’s blood glucose levels.

The Apple Watch was debuted in 2015 and has grown to become a vital part of the Cupertino-based company’s product suite. While the watches have seen bigger upgrades in times past, the currently scheduled boost will place it at the echelon of smartwatches with unique capabilities in the market. The temperature check feature became a necessity following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased demand for handy temperature checkers.

As against the usual format for checking blood glucose levels, the feature designed into the Apple Watches will not involve pricking fingers for traces of blood. Instead, the Apple technology will analyze the blood without being invasive, according to the Bloomberg report. The new model dubbed the Apple Watch Series 7 also has a faster processor, improved wireless connectivity, and an updated screen. 

The Apple Watch with the temperature capability may not be hitting the market until the next year 2022, while that designed to check blood glucose may take a couple more years before it is available commercially.

Apple stock is currently trading at $127.79 in the pre-market, representing a growth of 0.35% from the previous close.

Beyond Apple Watch, the Company Is Expanding Its Product Suite

One of the major tenets of the top technology companies including Apple is the ability to innovate and match with the competition. Beyond the company’s move in seeking advancement in its smartwatch, it is also working assiduously to explore new areas, notably in the Apple car pursuits.

While the details of the Apple self-driven car production remain sketchy, CEO Tim Cook once confirmed the firm is building its tech in autonomous systems. Per his word;

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of seeing it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on.”

Many have attributed this comment to the proposed self-driven cars which have been spotted on many occasions being tested by the company on the streets of California. The latest update from the Apple cars involves the potential pursuit of a partnership with either Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) and BYD Ord Shs A (SHE: 002594) for Lithium Iron phosphate batteries supply, according to an earlier Coinspeaker report.

The deal has neither been confirmed by either Apple or the two companies, however, people close to the matter noted the conditions to set up a plant in the United States set by the former is of disinterest in CATL. The cost considerations and the unrest between Washington and Beijing are the major considerations to pull the deal through.

Apple’s ties with Chinese firms are well engrafted as the assembling of the proposed upgraded main Apple Watch will be done by Luxshare Precision Industry Co Ltd (SHE: 002475). The Apple Watch SE is billed to be assembled by Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (TPE: 2354) alongside Taiwan’s Compal Electronics Inc (TPE: 2324).

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Benjamin Godfrey is a blockchain enthusiast and journalists who relish writing about the real life applications of blockchain technology and innovations to drive general acceptance and worldwide integration of the emerging technology. His desires to educate people about cryptocurrencies inspires his contributions to renowned blockchain based media and sites. Benjamin Godfrey is a lover of sports and agriculture.



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El Salvador Becomes First Country to Accept BTC as Legal Tender, Its Cogress Approves Bitcoin Law

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President Bukele said the country may explore Bitcoin mining as a way to put its geothermal energy option to full use.

Latin American nation, El Salvador has made history as the first country to accept premier digital currency, Bitcoin (BTC) as a legal tender. Per a Coindesk report, a supermajority in the country’s legislative arm voted in favor of the Bill proposed by President Nayib Bukele to officially recognize the cryptocurrency as an official currency to complement the United States Dollar it currently uses.

Bitcoin has come a long way from when it was first introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto with the publishing of the currency’s Whitepaper in 2008, and the eventual launch of the currency in 2009. Since then, the coin has been tossed around in many scenarios, some encouraged its growth, and others largely held it bound. Government regulations, energy consumption criticisms to mention a few accounts for the latter, however, events in the past year seeing multinational corporations begin to invest and acquire the digital currency stirred the changes we are seeing today.

While many governments are exploring means to clamp down on crypto and Bitcoin activities, in particular, the El Salvadoran legislature has teamed up with Bukele to back the coin for its uniqueness. The vote that passed the bill came with 62 members voting in favor, 19 voting against, and 3 abstentions. The nation’s move is against the norm and there are plans for government officials to go explain the plans of the new law to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Bitcoin Is a Legal Tender in El Salvador: Here’s What to Expect

With Bitcoin becoming an official legal tender – as will be finalized when President Bukele signs it into law – businesses are now mandated to accept the cryptocurrency for payments. Beyond payments, all forms of taxes can be paid using BTC, transactions or investments involving Bitcoin will not be subjected to a capital gains tax.

The acceptance of Bitcoin as a legal tender is not targeted at offsetting the role of the Dollar in the country’s payment ecosystem and will serve as the reference point for the new form of money. The issue of volatility is also going to be addressed through a Trust that will be opened at the Development Bank of El Salvador. This trust is going to help mitigate the risks associated with price fluctuations as it will help merchants in the conversion of their Bitcoin holdings to Dollar in real-time. An initial allocation of $150 million will be made into the new Trust.

“If there’s an ice cream parlor, he doesn’t really want to take the risk, he has to accept bitcoin because it’s a mandated currency but he doesn’t want to take the risk of convertibility, so he wants dollars deposited in his banking account, when he sells the ice cream, he can ask the government to exchange his bitcoin to dollars,” said President Bukele in a Twitter Space conversation hosted by Nic Carter of Castle Island Ventures. “Of course he can do that in the markets also but he can ask the government to do it immediately.”

In addition, President Bukele said the country may explore Bitcoin mining as a way to put its geothermal energy option to full use.

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Benjamin Godfrey is a blockchain enthusiast and journalists who relish writing about the real life applications of blockchain technology and innovations to drive general acceptance and worldwide integration of the emerging technology. His desires to educate people about cryptocurrencies inspires his contributions to renowned blockchain based media and sites. Benjamin Godfrey is a lover of sports and agriculture.



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Robinhood IPO on Horizon with $30 Billion Valuation Expected

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Robinhood IPO will offer over 22 million Class A shares, whereby they will be priced at $16-$19 per stock.

Robinhood Markets Inc, an America-based fintech company, has inched its way towards a $30+ billion IPO deal following immense growth in the past year. Its rapid development is attributed to its trading platform’s user-friendliness and simplicity, making it popular among the younger generation. Currently, it boasts of about 13 million users and a net value of over $11 billion having experienced a revenue ascent to around $260 million in 2020 from around $110 million in 2019.

Nevertheless, Robinhood has faced heavy backlash and lawsuits in the past year. The iconic Berkshire Hathaway investor Warren Buffett discredited the company’s reputation for easy trading by saying that it promotes a casino-like behavior. His partner Charles Munger backed him up saying it makes the stock market a gamblers’ ground and it makes money in “dirty ways”.

Additionally, a complaint was filed by Massachusetts regulators against Robinhood. Accusations ranged from their gamification of trading and use of aggressive methods to failure in preventing disruptions and outages in their trading platform. Rich Repetto, a brokerage analyst from Piper Sandler, reported that the company’s “zero commission” statement was true, however, its order flow payments and high trading volumes did more than cater for the revenue gap.

Furthermore, multiple class-action lawsuits have hit the company following their trading outages last year. Many users reported being locked out of the trading platform during major moves. Recently also, users reported restrictions from purchasing volatile stocks and unresponsive customer service.

Robinhood reacted to critics, saying that their users preferred the new way of trading compared to traditional methods. The company also reiterated its transparency and distanced itself from any conflicts of interest in its business model. More recently, the company has improved their customer service one of their customers committed suicide.

Amidst the chaos, Robinhood’s iOS downloads increased exponentially and more than $3 billion was raised by venture capitalists.

Bigger Picture on Robinhood IPO

Robinhood completed all requirements for its $30+ billion IPO offering, with Nasdaq as its stock exchange preference. It also widened its executive team to include Silicon Valley and Wall Street veterans such as Amazon’s Jason Warnick.

Silicon Valley’s unicorn has continued to express its novelty by allowing non-professional investors access to its shares before its IPO debut. Robinhood IPO will offer over 22 million Class A shares, whereby they will be priced at $16-$19 per share. Consequently, Robinhood users can now purchase the company’s shares on the Robinhood app. This move is intended to decentralize investment by making it accessible to people of diverse financial status rather than professional traders and the wealthy few.

To encourage both novice and experienced investors, Robinhood has provided prospectus with detailed information on its IPO including its business model, administrative personnel, and risks of investment.

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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.
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