Square wins new patent for a cryptocurrency payment network

Square – the company headed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey – has successfully been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) which details a new payment network that would enable merchants to accept payments in any currency – including the likes of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – and then withdraw their currency of choice following a transaction.

The patent elaborates that:

“The disclosed technology addresses the need in the art for a payment service capable of accepting a greater diversity of currencies…including virtual currencies including cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, ether, etc.)…than a traditional payment system in a transaction between a customer and a merchant, and specifically for a payment service to solve or ameliorate problems germane to transactions with such currencies. Specifically, the payment service described herein can facilitate real-time (or substantially real-time) transactions, allowing a customer to pay in any currency of their choice, while the merchant can receive payment in a currency of their choice.”

The patent describes methods through which a point-of-sale (POS) system could eliminate latency in cryptocurrency transactions to the point that both cryptocurrency and credit card transactions could process at the same speed.

The system would make this claim a possibility through managing a private blockchain that could record transactions from Square wallets. While this approach does not eliminate the potential for double-spend attacks, it does eliminate that risk from a merchant and places the onus on itself, instead.

Square CEO Jack Dorsey has previously gone on record as a Bitcoin supporter – noting that Bitcoin could become the world’s foremost means of exchange within the next ten years.

At the time, Dorsey quipped that Bitcoin’s market emergence will “probably take over ten years”, and went on to say that “The world ultimately will have a single currency, the Internet will have a single currency… I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin.”

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Bitcoin breaks through $7000 USD as cryptocurrency markets resurge

After a month of pressure, cryptocurrency markets appear to have broken a stranglehold invoked by the  US Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to reject (and later re-evaluate) several Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund proposals.

While the middle of August saw a minor rally, Bitcoin has largely struggled to surpass the $6500 USD mark, while Ethereum has remained deflated below $300 USD.

As of today, Bitcoin has powered through the $7000 USD mark to reach $7,061.28 USD – while Ethereum has flirted with positive gains to touch $293.32 USD at press time.

Leading the charge are several prominent altcoins – Holo has climbed some 27.31% to reach $0.000836 USD, while Bytecoin, MaidSafeCoin, and EOS have climbed by 13.68%, 10.03%, and 9.93% to reach $0.002249 USD, $0.276411 USD, and $5.89 USD, respectively.

A notable return to form is Dash, which has now climbed by 9.44% to reach $194.16 USD.

Among the cryptocurrencies seeing losses, Substratum leads the pack with a -7.34 decline, while Aion and VeChain follow closely by posting losses at -5.53% and -4.67% respectively.

Bitcoin dominance itself presently hovers at around 52.8%, while the total market cap of all cryptocurrencies is presently valued at $230,548,537,071 USD.

As our technical analyst Graeme Tennant noted last week, cryptocurrency markets remained stagnant ahead of what appeared to be imminent volatility – noting a clear reversal signal above Bitcoin’s $5800 USD support zone.

Our sentiment analysis, courtesy of Remy Stephens, noted that while sentiment on Bitcoin itself remained neutral, the altcoin market had taken a bullish term with support rallying for Basic Attention Token, Wanchain, and Bulwark – among other projects.

The US SEC is expected to resume its course and offer a verdict on yet another Bitcoin ETF proposal by the 30th of September. More broadly, US regulators have announced the continuation of ‘Operation Cryptosweep’ – a joint endeavor that has probed some 200 ICOs and cryptocurrency firms.

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Is Monero holding strong through the bear market? A retrospective

While 2018 has brutalized several pre-eminent cryptocurrencies, Monero has been fortunate to grace headlines in a variety of ways; whether for the fact that – for better or worse – cryptojacking software has reportedly mined some $175 million USD worth of XMR, or the launch of Tari – a merge-mined sidechain for digital assets.

At the start of the year, Monero entered proceedings as the thirteenth most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap on January 7th, and traded at $476.33 USD. At the time, the cryptocurrency bore a total market cap of $7,417,611,689 USD.

Fast forward to August, and time seems to have taken its toll on all things in interesting ways. Now the tenth most valuable cryptocurrency, Monero trades for $89.38 USD, and bears a total market cap of $1,453,909,220 USD.

In relative terms, Monero has lost some 81% of its trading value over the past eight months, while its market cap has similarly diminished by approximately 80%.

Transaction volume

At its height on the 9th of January, the Monero network saw some 8.2k XMR transacted daily – down from a record of 10.8k XRM on the 6th of December in 2017.

The network’s lowest point saw only 1.1k XMR transacted on the 7th of March, while the network’s next high point of 7.53k XMR shifted hands on the 1st of May.

Development changes

While the Monero protocol itself is under constant development, the cryptocurrency network drew attention earlier this year when it adopted an emergency hard fork to mitigate the impact of ASIC mining.

The move specifically targeted Bitmain’s Antminer X3 – which was designed to mine Monero in the first instance – and instead increased the presence of consumer-grade laptops and other entry-level hardware – all of which can mine Monero through the cryptocurrency’s Cryptonight script.

In a declaration on GitHub, core developer Riccardo Spagni decried that “I will do everything in my power to help the community prevent the proliferation of centralization-inducing ASICs on the Monero network”.

The decision had relatively little impact on Monero’s trading price, which shuffled from $182.11 USD on the 3rd of April to $165.95 on the date of the fork on the 6th of the month. Monero regained its strength shortly thereafter, and traded for $184.15 USD on April 12th.

Adoption

While Monero’s trading price may have diminished along with a majority of the cryptocurrencies present in digital currency markets, Monero has seen notable adoption cases.

Perhaps most significantly, Tari – a new project spearheaded by Riccardo ‘FluffyPony’ Spagni, Naveen Jain, and Dan Teree – aims to cut out ‘middleman’ ticket and asset vendors, and instead empower the original the original owners of digital assets such as artists, sports teams, or even event promoters. Tari will be built as a merge-mined sidechain which will function in concert with Monero itself.

Elsewhere, Monero further found inroads into charity – earlier this year, Change.org has jumped on the crypto bandwagon with a new, downloadable screensaver that mines (and donates) Monero.

Simply called ‘The Mining Screensaver’, the utility functions similarly to a standard screensaver save for the fact that it leverages idle processing power to mine Monero.

Finally, in perhaps one of its most significant moves, Circle Invest proceeded to list ZCash and Monero amongst its existing inclusions of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin earlier this year.

Into the future

While cryptocurrency markets shudder and shake under the pressure of roaming bears, Monero continues to generate robust transaction volumes and, with Tari, has found a new utility in digital asset management.

The cryptocurrency may yet be well placed to thrive in the future – as Bitcoin was years ago, Europol has noted that that Monero has quickly become the flavor of choice for cybercriminals and online black markets given its privacy mechanics, and has notably played a role in the rise of cryptojacking.

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Winklevoss brothers’ Bitcoin ETF rejected, Bitcoin retreats below $8,000 USD

In gloomy news for a cryptocurrency market that was showing new signs of vitality, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rejected Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss’ proposed Bitcoin ETF for a second time.

The news comes shortly after the SEC elected to delay its verdict on several other proposed Bitcoin ETFs until September this year, and further turned down a proposed rule change from Bats BZX Exchange.

As a result, Bitcoin has retreated below the $8,000 USD mark to trade at $7,900 USD at press time – a damning reversal given the gains the pre-eminent cryptocurrency made earlier this week.

The Winklevoss brothers first proposed a Bitcoin ETF earlier in 2017, where their initial proposal was turned down on March 10th.

While the news does not create a damning indictment on other proposed Bitcoin ETFs, it remains to be seen as to whether another proposal might shift the SEC’s continued stance.

The SEC has previously elaborated that it may one day approve a Bitcoin ETF – noting that “over time, regulated bitcoin-related markets may continue to grow and develop.”

Principally, proposed Bitcoin ETFs have endeavored to track Bitcoin prices offered through Bitcoin Futures contracts – and the SEC has argued that both low Futures volumes and liquidity do not constitute a worthwhile price index.

The Commission made a hopeful submission, however, indicating that “existing or newly created bitcoin futures markets may achieve significant size, and an ETP listing exchange may be able to demonstrate in a proposed rule change that it will be able to address the risk of fraud and manipulation by sharing surveillance information with a regulated market of significant size related to bitcoin, as well as, where appropriate, with the spot markets underlying relevant bitcoin derivatives”.

At press time, Bitcoin is down by -3.77% day-on-day, and presently trades at $7,913.80 USD.

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Bitwise proposes a new ETF for the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap

Bitwise may be more recognizable for its HOLD 10 Cryptocurrency Index Fund, though the startup has now confirmed that it is seeking regulatory permission to launch an Exchange Traded Fund catering the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap.

The company has proposed that its ETF offering would track the returns based on its HOLD 10 Index, which “captures approximately 80 [percent] of the total market capitalization of the cryptocurrency market”.

As such, the aptly named Bitwise HOLD 10 Cryptocurrency Index Fund ETF would use “a 5-year-diluted market cap and other eligibility criteria meant to address challenges of the crypto space such as continuously changing supply, liquidity, trade volume concentration, and custody limitations.”

The company has publicly revealed that a registration statement has now been filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), though the registration has not yet been declared effective.

Presiding over the news, Bitwise Global Head of Exchange-Traded Products John Hyland elaborated that “We are aware that other investment firms have filed for cryptocurrency ETFs under the Securities Act of 1933, and that there continues to be interest in filing under the Investment Company Act of 1940. As best we know, all of these funds plan to offer exposure to a single coin such as bitcoin or ether. That is fine, but our proposed offering is obviously different”.

Hyland went on to elaborate that “We know that the current crypto ETF filings have generated a great deal of discussion and analysis within the SEC about this emerging asset class, and the SEC and its staff, to their credit, have asked for public comment on a wide range of issues relating to these products. We expect the staff of the SEC has had ongoing discussions with the investment firms making the crypto filings to date, and we look forward to having our own discussions with the SEC about the nature of our proposed offering.”

More recently, the SEC announced its bid to postpone its verdict on several Direxion-proposed ETFs until September this year.

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US SEC delays ruling on Direxion’s five proposed Bitcoin ETFs

In a new statement, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has confirmed that it will delay its ruling on whether five Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (EFT) proposals from Direxion will be accepted or not.

The Commission has now noted that it will use a special extension period to delay its planned verdict until September this year.

The SEC release outlines that NYSE Arca, Inc had submitted a filing for a proposed rule change that would accept the trading and listing of shares of the planned ETFs under ‘NYSE Arca Rule 8.200-E’.

The SEC has indicated that it retains some concerns as to whether the proposed changes would be line with the SEC Act, given that that the rules of a securities exchange must be designed in order to “prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, and to protect investors and the public interest.”

The Commission will accordingly reach its final decision by September 21st, at the latest date.

In a statement, the Commission elaborated that it “finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change. Accordingly, the Commission, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,10 designates September 21, 2018, as the date by which the Commission shall either approve or disapprove the proposed rule change.”

Presently, the five named Bitcoin ETFs as proposed by Direxion are the Direxion Daily Bitcoin Bear 1X Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.25X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.5X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bull Shares, and Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bear Shares.

Bitcoin has traveled upwards by 0.90% in the past twenty-four hours, and presently trades at $8,216 USD.

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Korea’s biggest crypto exchange seized in authority raid

The weekend is meant for relaxing and unwinding, but relaxation is anything but what South Korean exchange UPbit must be experiencing following the raid of investigating persecutors of the exchanges’ offices recently.

The offices of UPbit, South Korea’s largest crypto exchange, were the matter of investigation on Thursday and Friday this week. The investigation was caused owing to a suspicion that the company was acting in fraudulent behavior – selling cryptocurrency to customers when it did not actually hold the funds possible – according to a report.

A search of the company’s head office in the Gangnu-gu district of Seoul took place and the prosecutors have already reported that they “have secured hard disks and accounting books through confiscation. Analysis is expected to take days”. No news of whether the review will be publicized or the process of the analysis in which it takes place has been disclosed yet.

UPbit representatives, on the other hand, have allegedly declined to offer any insight into the raid merely answering that they “can not answer anything about this seizure.

However, looking that the exchange’s support page establishes that the company has admitted to the fact that the investigation is a current matter saying that they are “currently under investigation by the prosecution, and [they] are working diligently.” The exchange continues to offer to customers that “UPbit services such as all transactions and withdrawals are operating normally. [Customer] assets are kept securely in your account, so [they] can rest assured that [they] can use UPbit services.”

The news of the investigation is timeous with other investigations that the country’s authorities have been conducting.  Last month there were reports that the country’s prosecutors had raided the offices of three other cryptocurrency exchanges (including Coinnest – the country’s fifth largest exchange at that time) under the supposition that the companies were drawing funds from the accounts of their customers.

The investigations also come at the same time that regulations have been heightened in the country.

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