Cardano (ADA) Ledger support coming soon!

Cardano (ADA) will support Ledger Nano s hardware wallets in the future

Open-source crypto wallet Daedalus is currently the safest and only supported option for thousands of Cardano users who are looking to store their ADA cryptocurrency. However, it’s been riddled with teething problems over the last couple of months. But, the good news is that Ledger support is coming in the near future.

Users seem to have no initial problems when setting up the Daedalus wallet, creating a seed or downloading the blockchain, but are later locked out of accessing the wallet when they restart the software due to the screen freezing and displaying the sprint message, “Connecting to network…”

Daedalus wallet

Users have tried a plethora of potential fixes, from completely uninstalling the wallet to tinkering with firewall settings and everything in between, with no success in sight.

On the March 7th, 2018, Daedalus released version 0.9.0 and Cardano 1.1.0 but, for many, this does not seem to have not provided any solution.

We spoke to the team behind Cardano regarding the wallet problems that we have witnessed, to see if a more successful solution would be coming soon. We are pleased to say that it’s good news all round, as we can announce that users will be able to store ADA on their Ledger hardware wallets in Q3 2018.

CS: Lots of users are reporting problems with syncing the Daedalus wallet, this seems to be a common problem in the community?

The latest Cardano SL release 1.1 is designed to address syncing problems experienced recently by some users. This update was released by IOHK on the 7th March, and they are now monitoring the performance of the Daedalus wallet to assess if further action is required.

CS: When will users be able to store Cardano on their Ledger Wallets, will this be pushed in 2018?

Stage one of the Ledger integration project is complete. This means that we now have a functioning Ledger app, but this still needs to be fully tested. Stage two of this project requires IOHK to develop an interface and test it. At present this work is scheduled to be completed by Q3 2018. This will provide Cardano holders with the highest level of security by allowing users to store Ada offline.

Hardware wallet support for cryptocurrencies once seemed like an overzealous way to store digital assets, but it’s now become the de facto method due to exchanges being regularly hacked, phishing attempts and all sorts of weird and well thought out hacking methods which are used to steal your assets.

Interview with Nexo: The world’s first crypto overdraft backed by Credissimo

We had the pleasure of chatting with Antoni Trenchev, Managing Partner at Nexo, in an exclusive CoinSpectator.com interview, to find out more about one of the most exciting crypto startups we have come across this year.

Not heard of Nexo? They are the world’s first instant crypto-overdrafts service, which enables anyone to access traditional fiat without selling their digital crypto assets. The whole process is powered by blockchain technology.

Although new to the blockchain industry, the team behind Nexo is no stranger to the world of finance, with its ten years of expertise and innovation running Bulgarian FinTech firm Credissimo.

CS: What are the benefits of having asset-backed lending on the blockchain?

Nexo’s primary mission is to enable the community to enjoy its crypto-wealth without selling it. You simply place your crypto asset in an Overdraft Wallet and instantly start using a credit line based on their value. With Nexo’s product, you have the cash to spent whenever you might need to while keeping the upside potential of your crypto. We have been in the consumer lending space for over 10 years now with our successful European FinTech Credissimo, so we are in an excellent good position to offer a unique proposition to the blockchain.

Please see our short video explainer:

CS: Who is providing the FIAT funds for the loans? Is this accredited lenders on the NEXO platform or will it come from NEXO reserves?

Here is where we differ from other services that are mostly P2P and borrowers have to match willing lenders. Nexo bridges that gap and makes the product more efficient, ensuring constant supply and liquidity. That is why almost all funds from the Token Sale will be used to fund our Crypto Overdrafts. We are also in advanced talks for the acquisition of an FDIC Bank, which would allow Nexo to extend even more overdrafts and even offer interest-rate bearing deposits.

CS: As you are probably aware lots of banks are unhelpful let’s say when buying/ selling cryptocurrency. Do you expect any problems with clients receiving fiat and having to explain where that money has come from if they mention crypto?

It is true that not all banks yet accept the inevitability of cryptocurrencies and blockchain solutions. That is one of the reasons we are looking to acquire a bank, we want to operate a company that understands what crypto assets are all about. Of course, KYC and AML are important for us and the community in general, so the source of funds is a must for larger amounts, but that should not interfere with the customer experience.

As for the Crypto Overdrafts – they are purely fiat transactions so we have solid banking partners even today. Starting April 2018, our clients will have a seamless experience and get access to cash in just a few clicks, all the while retaining full ownership of their assets.

CS: Similar companies are utilising asset-based lending such as “Salt Lending” “ETH Lend”, what benefits does Nexo have over these?

The Nexo Overdrafts are instant and automatic, as we fully appreciate the fact that speed is of the essence when a client needs liquidity. Nexo’s overdraft terms are standardised, so unlike P2P platforms, there is no back and forth between borrower and lender and the process is much more user-friendly.

Furthermore, Nexo is very flexible with regards to the crypto you can keep in your Overdraft Wallet. We will be revealing more details soon. Nexo offers a variety of options: besides fiat, you can also use crypto at market prices to make instant repayments. There are no geographic restrictions at Nexo, you can be anywhere in the world and still receive a Crypto Overdraft from us.

Nexo’s Overdrafts have fixed interest rates and the same Loan-to-Value for everyone and availability is instant and automatic. P2P platforms take а commission in the interest of each loan. Nexo’s income is the interest rate on the overdraft, we do not make money from anything else. An important aspect is that no minimum overdraft repayment is required if the outstanding overdraft balance is within the available overdraft limit.

Bottom line, Nexo’s Overdrafts are simple, extremely flexible, cost-efficient and with the customer in mind.

CS: Can Nexo overdrafts/ loans be used for purchasing property or mortgage purposes?

Of course, everyone can spend their cash the way they please.

CS: What regulatory hurdles do you still need to overcome?

Nexo’s model as a whole does not face any particular hurdles. But the crypto space has its challenges and in general what we would expect to see is more regulation kicking in. This could be either positive or negative. Some countries, like Switzerland, are very good at giving broad enough rules so that companies that bring value to the community, can operate with a higher degree of certainty. Rules are good, but concise, unobtrusive and business-friendly ones, and we hope for that.

We believe that security tokens are the future – most tokens are security tokens anyway, pretending to be a utility token, obviously, this is unsustainable. That is why we have opted for a security token with Nexo. It is interesting to see how exchanges will adapt to the new circumstances.

We are quite bullish and believe that crypto and tokenized assets will become a multi-trillion industry that will bring immense and exciting opportunities for all of us.

CS: According to a report by Morgan Stanley the p2p marketplace will be worth $150 to $490 billion by 2020. Does Nexo aim to take a large slice of this?

At Nexo we aim at delivering the best possible Crypto Overdrafts to the widest possible audience. We would like to convince the clients of our unique proposition by letting the users experience the ease of use and that will lead to market share that is satisfactory. For this reason we are launching the product prior to listing the NEXO Tokens on exchanges.

CS: Do you expect a high number of interest from companies as opposed to regular users?

Actually, we are experiencing a growing interest on all fronts.

CS: How do you plan to tackle money laundering, as you can appreciate around new technology you will always have a 3rd party trying to taking advantage. What markers do you have in place to stop someone using stolen/ hacked crypto to take out a loan?

In our 10+ years experience with Credissimo we have always adhered to the highest security and regulatory standards. We continue to do the same with Nexo, utilizing in-house solutions where we have the necessary expertise and contracting leading third party providers where this makes sense – escrow/custodian accounts and parts of our KYC/AML/CFT processes, for instance.

CS: The NEXO sale has been cancelled due to raising funds privately from investors, can you mention any institutions or firms that have invested?

It is part of our agreement with investors that they should make the first step and disclose their involvement with Nexo. Just like Michael Arrington, Founder of TechCrunch and the Arrington XRP Fund chose to do.

CS: You state that the overdraft benefits from not liable to capital gains tax (which is the case when selling crypto profits) but what if the borrower took out an overdraft but defaulted on the interest payments. In this scenario would any taxes be applicable?

As long as the client does not default, no tax liabilities kick in. If however we are forced to liquidate an asset, all depends on the price. Should the liquidation price be higher than the purchase price, capital gain tax will be owed to the relevant tax authority on the profit made.

Top ICO’s & Cryptocurrencies to invest in 2018

With new ICO’s being launched everyday the industry is thriving but it is becoming harder and harder to identify high quality, sustainable and investor friendly projects.

This has been compounded by the general bearish trend that has surrounded the space since the Decembers bull run where virtually every coin reached new all time highs (ATHs). The main reasons for this recent downward trend however have included: China confusion, hacks, Tether woes, Binance fud and more recently the dumping of roughly 35,000 Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash onto the market by the Mt. Gox trustees which correlated perfectly with the drops we can see on the charts.

mt gox dump
Image riverflop Reddit user.

With the market now showing signs of stabilization this is the perfect buy-in opportunity to invest in high quality projects at a fraction of their worth.

So without further ado check out our top upcoming ICO’s and cryptocurrencies we think will provide a good return on investment throughout 2018.

P.s Why listen to us? Because we have a proven track record in recommending high quality, very profitable projects. Take a look for yourself here and here.

XYO Network

XY, the firm behind XYO Network have built and currently expanding one of the worlds largest decentralised location tracking protocols with GPS beacons and Bluetooth.

The result? Tagging and monitoring the movement of physical objects (including humans) anywhere in the world.

For example in the future governments and agencies could potentially use the technology to ensure everyone is registered and able to move around legally and freely through selected jurisdictions with no additional need for verification, passports etc. It can also help with realtime tracking of lost, missing, wanted people or objects.

Another use case would be ecommerce. Given the amount of parcels that go missing with no resolution/ accountability companies can use the tracking to manage their shipping and supply chain needs resulting in full transparency and accountability. For example an ecommerce store only takes payment once an item has been received by the customer.

XYO Network powers the service through its mining kits and enables anyone with a location tracking device such as Bluetooth, GPS, LPWAN (LoRA), Low Earth Orbit LEO Satellites to contribute. As referred to in the Whitepaper these Sentinels, Bridges, Archivists and Diviners are also rewarded with XYO Tokens based on their interactivity/ helpfulness.

XYO Network will be running a token sale this March. Whitelist restrictions apply and you can take part by visiting their website.

Website: https://xyo.network/

Essentia

Data ownership has become a hot topic these last couple of years with many unaware that corporations, governments and other 3rd party entities are profiting from what many consider to be their personal data.

According to research studies in 2017 digitally generated data amassed roughly $1 trillion dollars in revenue last year, none of which is seen by the individual whom it concerns.

Blockchain startup Essentia wants to change this by developing a way for everyone to decide and control who has access to their data, what it can be used for and receiving a fee for its use.

The infrastructure model can be split up into three sections. These are:

  • User Data
  • Essences – This is the container that holds and controls the flow to the users data
  • Essentia Network – This is the decentralised network that manages the Essences in a clean, interoperable and secure manner.

Third parties and dApps can easily access user data as pluggable oracles based on what information users wish to release. Developers can also build on top of the Essentia framework to create data management tools, identity solutions, data exchanges, decentralized CRMs etc.

For example using Essentia’s eLogin users can authenticate and login to compatible websites without the need for any password. This move away from insecure and sometimes cumbersome passwords means more security, privacy and a cleaner interface to manage identity and authentication across every service that the user wishes to use.

The firm has an impressive advisory board which includes:

  • European Commission and certified business coache Erik van der Staak
  • Thomas Graham who is a managing partner at crypto advisory firm TLDR;
  • Francesco fusetti who raised $19 million with his charity project AidCoin
  • Yann Marston with 20 years experience in business, he is responsible for strategic sales at Motorola Solutions.

Esentia is running an initial coin offering to raise funds enabling investors to purchase ESS tokens which will power the technology. The price is set at 1 ETH = 15000 ESS and they aim to raise $31,900,000.

You can find more at the website here: https://essentia.one/

Hoqu

hoqu logoHOQU aspires to be the world’s first decentralised marketing platform enabling affiliates and merchants to work together directly without the need for a middleman. This ensures both parties are treated fairly with all actions completed through transparent smart contracts.

The global advertising industry is estimated to be worth some $200 billion dollars per year with the USA, China and United Kingdom dominating the market. HOQU hopes that a large proportion of these transaction will be running on their blockchain in the near future.

It’s no secret that this industry is centralised with the affiliate networks controlling a large number of merchants and affiliates. In doing so they are able to set high fees and low commissions, all the while enforcing unjustified and overpriced account maintenance charges.

Startups are also often priced out of joining the networks with insanely high barriers placed in their way. HOQU removes these barriers with smart contract technology and fair fees for all.

This technology creates a win win scenario for both merchants and affiliates by reducing fraud, ensuring fair payouts and lower all round costs. All whilst streamlining the whole process.

HOQU’s Initial coin offering raised $18.7 million and at the time of writing HOQU (HQX) was trading at $0.083164 on IDEX and ForkDelta.

Website: https://www.hoqu.io/

Gems

gems logoGems is a decentralised mechanical turk powered by blockchain technology. It builds on the shortcomings of traditional Mechanical Turks such as Amazons MTurk and Crowd Flower.

A traditional MTurk is a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace which enables individuals and businesses (also known as requesters) to hire others to perform microtasks that computers are currently unable to do.

However current providers are very inefficient, implement costly verification techniques (consensus by redundancy), charge exorbitant fees and are unavailable to a large portion of the workforce who don’t have access to bank accounts.

By using blockchain technology Gems is able to eradicate all these issues.
Gems is currently being advised by a range of industry heavyweights that include Medium and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Augur co-founder Joey Krug, reCAPTCHA co-founder Ben Maurer, Aragon co-founder Luis Cuende and co-founder of NEO Global Capital Roger Lim.

At the time of writing Gems is trading at $0.018616 on Gate.io and IDEX for both USDT and ETH pairs.

Website: https://gems.org/

Upfring

upfiringPeer-to-peer file sharing is a phrase most of us are familiar with. It was once one of the most popular ways to share files across the internet and through the use of torrents still is even today.

It is however starting to show its age and limitations. One of the biggest being a massive disparity between file downloads and availability ratio.

This is due to the lack of seeders who have no incentive to share content other than as a hobby or possible notoriety.

Upfiring tackles the root cause of this problem by offering seeders compensation (payment in UFR) for their contributions.

By adding incentivisation in to the mix seeders rise to a higher calibre and become more abundant, resulting in faster access and downloads for users.

The process is as follows:

  1. A seeder shares a file through the Upfiring network
  2. The file is encrypted by the platform
  3. A downloader requests access to the seeded file but can only download once they have paid using the currency of the network which is UFR tokens.
  4. Once downloaded and paid for in full the file can be decrypted.

UFR is currently trading on various exchanges including Cryptopia, Stocks.Exchange, IDEX and ForkDelta at roughly $0.30 and has been tipped by many as a coin that should at least rech $5 by Q4 of 2018 due to the attractive market cap.

Website: https://upfiring.com/

Cardano

cardano logoIt would be almost criminal to end the article without mentioning Cardano. This is by far one of the most exciting (albeit adventurous) projects that we will be following over the course of 2018/2019.

Founded by Charles Hoskinson, a former co-founder of Ethereum and Jeremy Wood, operations manager at Ethereum, the project takes all the best bits from previous generation blockchains and rolls them in to a peer-reviewed, institutionally backed decentralised public blockchain and cryptocurrency. In essence Cardano wants to be Ethereum but usable day-to-day e.g far more scalable, sustainable, and interoperable.

Born out of scientific philosophy with experts contributing from all over the world not only helps Cardano develop a solid, research-backed foundation but will also simplify government and legal approval when that time comes.

Their detailed roadmap can be found on the website with upcoming events such as Ledger support and the opening of a new research and development center that focuses on the Cardano blockchain Ho Chi Minh city.

Cardano (ADA) is currently trading at $0.22.
Website: https://www.cardano.org/

That’s it for now!

p.s Last year with tipped HelloGold, Cindicator, VeChain, TRON, Request Network and Utrust. All of which not only increased in price but reached significant roadmap goals, formed partnerships and are starting to make real change across many industries with their Blockchain technology.

‘North Korea may have up to $210m worth of Bitcoin’ – International expert

North Korea is renowned for many, many things, but until now, cryptocurrency investment wasn’t one of them.

However, that might be all about to change as an international expert has said that the country has made an absolute mint from Bitcoin recently.

Former US National Security Agency officer, Priscilla Moriuchi, told reporters that the politically isolated country took in more than $200 million in digital cryptocurrency transactions in 2017.

Ms Moriuchi, made this claim during an in-depth interview with Radio Free Asia. She also discussed the subject with Vox.com, where she stated that she has reason to believe that these coins are being liquidated and the resulting cash is being used to support North Korea’s military.

She said: “I would bet that these coins are being turned into something – currency or physical goods – that are supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme.”

She estimated that the regime took in 11,000 Bitcoins in 2017, which would have been worth around $210 million at the currency’s peak value.

This revelation comes after unconfirmed reports of a state-sponsored hacking regime, which is focusing on cryprocurrencies.

According to a report of the incident on the Daily Telegraph, North Korea’s government continuously deny any criminal doings but the evidence points towards genuine activity from Pyongyang.

The report read: “Pyongyang consistently denies all hacking allegations. However, cyber security experts and defectors have claimed that promising students are handpicked from prestigious universities to join Bureau 121, the hermit kingdom’s shadowy cyberwarfare agency.”

Many believe North Korea is attracted to cryptocurrency because of its lack of traceability and loose regulations.

Bitwala to relaunch as a crypto-first bank… Sign-up now

“Change is good” is a sentiment that Bitwala is definitely getting behind, as they have announced their intentions to re-launch as a crypto-first bank.

The award winning firm is now allowing potential customers to sign-up to a waiting list for their new offering, with the first accounts expected to open in the middle of this year.

Their move comes in the wake of high demand for crypto-friendly banking – which many believe there is currently a deficit in. Bitwala, who had to suspend their regular services in January due to regulation changes, intend to fill this gap in the market.

Bitwala were unable to reveal which bank they’ve partnered with but stated that its an “established German bank”.

Users will have full control of their private keys and thus will not be the holdings of Bitwala or the partner bank, this means the 100,000 Euro protection scheme will not cover cryptocurrencies but Euro deposits only.

Bitwala stated that users will be able to make transfers in and out of their account via SEPA transfer, making the selling and purchasing more flexible. Most of the established cryptocurrency exchanges are partnered with banks in Poland who are also on the SEPA network opening a quicker transfer time.

We asked Bitwala if they were anticipating any problems with users transferring funds in and out of the account, which is a common problem with banks blocking users from purchasing cryptocurrency.

“The foundation that we’ve built with our partner bank is very solid and based on German banking law, so we don’t expect any problems. This is not to say that we will not comply with the rules. Our partner bank and we are working very closely with regulators to ensure that all KYC and AML measures are in place.”

Co-founder and CEO of Bitwala, Jörg von Minckwitz said:

“Our founding vision has always been to bridge the gap between traditional and crypto economies. We believe that traditional banking was and has always been the weak link of the whole process, and we are looking forward to build an account that will tackle these very weaknesses.”

All new accounts that they open will come with a German IBAN and will be regulated by The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority of Germany (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht).

Up until January Bitwala was a digital payment processing system that worked using blockchain technology. It made a name for itself through simplifying complicated processes and making them more accessible to as many individuals and companies as possible.

We have no doubt that von Minckwitz will hope to keep these values in place as they move to the next stage of their development in the crypto economy.

Users will only be able to sell and buy Bitcoin at present but more cryptocurrencies are planned for the future.

Blockchain technology will track Billion dollar Amazon Fund

Brazilian Development Bank BNDES has signed a memorandum of understanding with German development bank KfW with the aim to improve transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources that finance the development of the Amazon Fund, this will now be powered by Blockchain technology.

BNDES was assigned the management of the Amazon Fund, which is responsible for raising funds and allocating resources; monitoring and supervising actions and supported projects; accountability; and reporting results obtained in a continuous and transparent manner; in addition to exercising the role of Amazon Fund Guidance Committee executive secretariat.

With eight years of existence, the Amazon Fund finished 2016 with a portfolio of 86 supported projects, totalling R$ 1.4 billion (US$ 617 million), of which 47% have already been disbursed. It has received donations from Norway, Germany and Petrobras totalling R$ 2.8 billion (US$ 1.13 billion).

Blockchain technology is set to be the object of cooperation between BNDES and KfW.

The memorandum is to be signed between the development banks of Brazil and Germany provides for test concept in the Amazon Fund

The National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) has been exchanging experiences with companies, research centres and financial institutions that are dedicated to blockchain technology development. In this context, the BNDES board approved a memorandum of understanding with KfW, the German development bank, to promote cooperation between the two institutions in enhancing TruBudget software.

The tool was developed by KfW to improve transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources that finance development. Although based on bitcoin-like technology, TruBudget does not involve the use of a virtual currency: it is a workflow tool that uses a private, not public, blockchain such as bitcoin.

Until May, BNDES will do a pilot test of the application in the Amazon Fund. The Fund, which is managed by BNDES, includes the German bank as one of the donors and carries out non-repayable financial operations, which are the focus of the memorandum.

Under the agreement, KfW will provide BNDES with access to the software repository and manage all other platforms and related tools necessary to collaborate and work on improving TruBudget. The German bank will also offer technical support for the application of the tool.

During the tests, BNDES will regularly share information about the use of TruBudget among participants. The Bank will not use it for commercial purposes or claim intellectual property for the software or a modified version of it. During the joint execution of the project, KfW intends to formalize the TruBudget license in the open source modality.

Bolster your cryptocurrency portfolio with these five breakthrough altcoins for 2018

Despite early investors making impressive gains with Bitcoin, and many experts predicting that the cryptocurrency will reach as much as $50,000 this year, opinions continue to be divided, with its future as a currency and an investment solution faltering. The project’s ageing architecture and lack of innovation are central in this debate and continue to drive investors and enthusiasts alike into more exciting and innovative projects that are built on more able and scalable blockchain platforms.

Why trust us? Last year we tipped HelloGold, Cindicator, VeChain, Tronix, Request Network, and Utrust as projects to keep your eye on.  See for yourself here.

With that in mind here are a few upcoming ICOs to keep your eyes on in 2018.

Databroker DAO

databroker dao icoGovernments, researchers, companies and individuals are currently maintaining roughly 6 million IoT sensors worldwide, with this number rapidly growing every day. The data collectively generated is worth an estimated $600 billion per year and is simply sitting in storage, locked away.

Blockchain startup Databroker DAO aims to unlock and monetise this IoT sensor data by creating a marketplace for data to be bought and sold. In doing so, these entities can create new revenue streams whilst also making all industries across the board better informed and more effective.

Databroker DAO is planning a pre sale and public token sale, enabling investors to contribute directly. The sale starts on 26 March 2018 and will run until 23 April 2018.

It’s also worth noting that the CEO of Overstock sits on the advisory board alongside three other key advisors, putting the project in a good, well managed environment.

Website: https://databrokerdao.com/

EQUI

EQUI ICO LOGOEQUI aims to be a revolutionary investment platform by bringing venture capital into the modern world.

Powered by Blockchain technology, the platform enables anyone to combine funds and invest in sectors that have previously been accessible only to the rich. This is achieved by purchasing EQUI tokens which open up access to the platform to invest in approved projects. Projects that make a profit also offer a dividend, which is returned to investors via their Ethereum wallet.

EQUI is backed by a number of entrepreneurs with a wealth of experience across many business sectors. This Blockchain startup was co-founded by Baroness Mone of Mayfair, OBE, and Doug Barrowman.

The EQUI pre sale will run from 1 March to 8 March 2018.

Website: https://www.equi.capital/

Skyllz

skyllz icoSkyllz will change the way we access and manage employment in the near future.

With a rapidly growing technology sector that continues to dominate every other job market, the need for a better, more qualified workforce is no longer being met by traditional institutions. What is being taught and learnt in colleges and universities is becoming less relevant, with many opting for self-taught courses instead. This has become all the more popular with online universities, webinars, remote learning resources and YouTube.

Blockchain startup Skyllz hopes to tap into this gap in the market by creating an open source public skills validation platform to showcase, track and rate candidates. This immutable CV will reflect human-based metrics on a global scale that is based on actual skill.

The Skyllz team founded Workkola, an already fully working platform utilising the Skyllz technology.

The pre sale is scheduled for February to March, and the public main sale is going to happen between July and August 2018.

Skyllz has a strong team behind it with a range of advisors from multiple industries to drive the product forward.

Website: https://skyllz.org/

Momentum

momentum icoMomentum makes it easy for brands to create their own cryptocurrency to reward and incentivise customers. It claims to be the world’s first Blockchain-based automation platform that rewards customers with cryptocurrency.

Customers are rewarded for being loyal, telling friends about a product, leaving reviews etc. This creates an incentivised ecosystem where both company and buyer benefit. Customers earn tokens for marketing the brands they love, with the added bonus of trading, gifting or selling tokens on, all from one simple handy wallet.

Momentum spotted a gap in the market due to current loyalty programmes not rewarding customers, as the points have little to no value, expire quickly and sit on customers’ cards unused.

Momentum is already working with some big-name brands such as Burger King and Firelli and has seen a large increase in activity on its apps.

With Momentum already working with real companies, the ICO is the perfect opportunity to invest in an established project.

The public token sale starts on 26 March 2018.

Website: https://momentumtoken.io/

Nexo

NEXO ICO LOGONexo aims to cater for a growing market of cryptocurrency enthusiasts who need access to fiat but don’t want to part with their cryptocurrencies.

Nexo plans to make this easier by offering people an instant overdraft secured by their own cryptocurrency assets. Customers simply import their cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin into their Nexo wallet, where they are provided with a fiat credit limit. Fiat currencies can be withdrawn using various methods, including bank transfer. It’s a win-win for both parties involved; once the overdraft has been paid back, customers can withdraw their cryptocurrency assets.

Nexo is one of our favourite ICOs this year. It’s been developed by the same people behind Credissimo, a leading FinTech group with a wealth of experience in the finance industry.

The Nexo token sale starts on 1 March 2018, with a fundraising goal of $50 million.

Website: https://nexo.io/

 

CoinShares announces two new flagship crypto investment funds

Crypto investment is nothing new, but CoinShares‘ recent launch of two flagship funds both designed to invest in a diverse range of cryptocurrencies, certainly is.

The two funds: ‘Active’ Fund – a multi-coin, alpha-generating, active strategy; and ‘Large Cap’ Fund – a passive basket fund; represent a natural evolution of market approaches based on the current trajectory of the crypto-asset economy.

CoinShares hopes to provide users with less volatility than other single purpose funds and also aims to provide more of a reward, without the higher risk some would assume to be in place.

Ryan Radloff, CEO of CoinShares suggested that this is the way forward for folks who are looking for a way to invest in cryptocurrencies. He said in a statement: “If you wanted to invest in the internet through a diverse mix of strategies focused on everything from servers, fiber-optics and silicon to search engines, social network start-ups and e-commerce infrastructure – this would be that fund; but for the crypto-economy.

“We are very excited about bringing this fund and Block Asset Management’s expertise to our investor base; both the strategy and team will be a great complement to CoinShares’ growing platform of strategies.”

The experience on the Block Asset team suggests this may be true, with their team holding experience from the likes of Credit Suisse, Societe General, Citibank, UBS, Barclays & Lloyds.

CoinShares are definitely hoping to take advantage of this market, as they have also announced that they would be introducing two other crypto asset funds just a month ago. Thus, it’s not surprising that they are the European leader in crypto-finance, holding over $1b in crypto-assets across their investment products.

This announcement follows the group’s October launch of the first Ether Tracking, Exchange Traded Products on Nasdaq Stockholm. These ETPs now comprise more than $350M of assets less than 4 months post launch.

Potential investors should take note however, that cryptocurrencies typically deal in a very volatile market. Thus, it is advised that investors should only invest if they can afford to do so, as their capital will be at risk and there is no guarantee of a return.

Tether Interview (spoiler: they ignored us)

With the recent media controversy surrounding Tether we reached out to the team with 13 interview questions at the start of December, heres what they had to say ( more precisely didn’t say):

  • The UK government along with banks have been very strict and often reluctant to provide any banking solution to crypto related businesses, often forcing them to look to places like Poland. How do you plan to tackle this with the GBP Tether plans?

Failed to respond.

  • Do you have a approximate date for when the JPY and GBP Tether currencies will be available?

Failed to respond.

  • Matthew Leising in a recent Bloomberg article was concerned about whether the exact amount of Tether ration exists 1-1 dollars within a bank?

Failed to respond.

  • Oguz Serdar claims Tether will not allow him to exchange his $1 million worth of Tether for US dollars and that Tether refused to disclose the bank Tether held the funds in. To avoid confusion how do you respond to this as various sources are claiming that Tether have issued more tokens than it has assets for, which of course is a great concern for those wanting to start using Tether.

Failed to respond.

  • People are very concerned about the link between Bitfinex and Tether, more specifically Phil Potter’s/ Giancarlo Devasini role as per the connection found in the Paradise Paper’s leak. Can you comment on this?

Failed to respond.

  • Bitfinex has hired a law firm to counter claims which you say are untrue regarding the Bitfinex/ Tether connection. Can you elaborate on this?
    Is it possible/ likely that you will be more open/ provide evidence of where funds are held to calm investor concerns?

Failed to respond.

  • When will the full audit of Tether’s assets be available to the public?
    Will you be launching on any exchanges in the future?

Failed to respond.

  • Your recent audit by Friedman LLP has been discredited by many. What have you learnt from this and how to you plan to overcome the naysayers?
    What are Tether’s plans for 2018?

Failed to respond.

  • Do you have any update on the recent “$30,950,010 USDT Tether hack? Are authorities any closer to resolving this?

Failed to respond.

  • Can you provide more information on how Tethers are created. Specifically what determines the creation volume. For example what prompted the creation of $70 million Tethers in Early September?

Failed to respond.

British banks strangle UK crypto-startups

bitcoinDo British banks fear cryptocurrency startups?

We asked Santander, Barclays, the RBS, Metro Bank, Halifax, Standard Chartered, HSBC for their side of the story.

The UK’s financial service sector adds more than £6.6 billion into the economy each year, employing hundreds of thousands of people. The City of London and Canary Wharf are often portrayed as the hub of fintech, with many of the world’s biggest financial firms operating there. With such an influential and active global presence one might think Britain would be at the forefront of blockchain innovation and adoption. Unfortunately the reality is quite the opposite, with banks demonstrating cartel-like behaviour and overplaying the money laundering card to actively discredit and cut off these startups.

With the recent exponential growth of blockchain technology, many of these startups are seeking to create innovative financial products by mixing old money with new − and this means obtaining a bank account like any other business. Unfortunately, in the UK, adoption has been thwarted at every turn by the country’s banking elite, often forcing these firms to seek banking partnerships elsewhere in Europe, such as in Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia and Estonia, and thus the startups often end up based in those countries too.

Blockchain is undoubtedly one of the most exciting technologies of our time and it will probably change the world we live in by redefining and streamlining every industry, be that through global distributed ledgers, smart-contract-based automation or even global collaborative systems and resource sharing. Some examples include:

  • charities using blockchain technology to provide transparent processing of donations/aid relief,
  • green energy startups using blockchain to offer transparent, distributed peer-to-peer energy, resulting in a national grid that allows anybody to generate, sell and consume energy,
  • medical research institutions that use the technology to harness, combine and manage computing power. This allows anybody to donate their idle laptop/computing power to a distributed network to help process things such as misfolding and protein aggregation, to help find cures for Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, cystic fibrosis etc.

Where does the government stand on this?

Earlier this year even HM Treasury’s special envoy for fintech, Eileen Burbidge, said:

“The UK is already the best place in the world to start, grow and scale a FinTech company”.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said:

“The FinTech sector is one of our fastest growing sectors, adding more than £6.6 billion into the UK’s economy and attracting more than £500 million of investment.”

And yet, despite these boasts from the UK government, the country’s own banks downplay and stigmatise the technology and refuse to service any crypto-related companies.

It’s a Catch-22 situation: on the one hand you have the UK government harping on about fintech and IoT while, on the other hand, British banks, supported by the government, are flat-out refusing to work with such companies by denying them basic access to services such as bank accounts without any justifiable reason.

Her Majesty’s Treasury is reluctant to intervene in any banking decisions, stating:

“Which businesses banks choose to offer services to is a commercial decision for each individual bank and the Government does not seek to intervene in these decisions.”

“The Government encourages banks to take a risk-based approach in their management of money laundering and terrorism financing risk, to ensure that the measures they take are proportionate and effectively mitigate the risks that they face.”

“We recognise the significant benefits that virtual currencies and the related technologies could bring, as well as the potential risks such as money laundering and terrorist financing.”

It would appear that change is on the horizon, as the Financial Conduct Authority, which operates independently of the UK government and regulates the financial industry, carried out sandbox testing with blockchain firms.

Following a feasibility report in 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) established a regulatory sandbox, which enables financial firms to test innovative products, services and business models in a live market environment while adhering to appropriate safeguards. But, unfortunately, multiple participants in the sandbox programme, the aim of which was to create innovative services with distributed ledger technology (DLT) were given “blanket refusals” from banks and “denial of banking services”. Furthermore, even individual enthusiasts exploring blockchain technologies have been penalised and deterred through bank account closures and warnings.

Due to the reluctance of banks to open accounts for cryptocurrency-related firms, the FCA is concerned about banks hindering competition, especially after many banks flat-out refused several start-ups entering the FCA’s sandbox programme to test their business models under its guidance.

The government is essentially taking a backseat in the matter and giving banks free reign on blockchain adoption, or rather the lack thereof.

“We are concerned that denying certain customers bank accounts on a wholesale basis causes significant barriers to entry and could lead to poor competition in certain markets,” said the FCA.

“We work to ensure that the UK financial system is a hostile environment for money launderers. However, we are clear that effective money laundering risk management need not result in wholesale de-risking, and are aware of the risks this may pose to innovation and competition and intend to continue our focus on this issue,” said the FCA.

Speaking to the Financial Times, James Godfrey, head of capital markets at BlockEx, said:

“Nobody will give us a bank account in the UK.”

“Having [Bank of England governor] Mark Carney standing at the front of the shop and saying ‘raa, raa, fintech’ just doesn’t do it for me.” James continued to say that London-based Metro Bank shut its UK account, forcing it to rely on a lender in Bulgaria.

We reached out to the Bank of England for a comment on this, and they said:

“We do not have a comment for you on this issue.”

We spoke to Jamie McNaught, founder of Solidi, a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange based in the UK:

“Our cryptocurrency exchange has implemented some of the most advanced AML and fraud detection systems in the industry; this has resulted in our fraud rate being below £3 per £1,000,000, much lower than card fraud statistics.”

“Multiple banks have refused our banking applications without a plausible reason; this is not just a problem for blockchain startups but also other innovative products in fintech. We are even part of the FCA Sandbox programme and with this accolade we’re still having little success with banks.”

We spoke to Marc Warne, the founder and CEO of Bittylicious:

“I can confirm the banks have remained hostile for the last five years; there are no crypto-companies allowed to open bank accounts in the UK [including those selling or operating ATMs].”

“Bittylicious and other companies in London regularly have meetings with representatives from the FCA to see if there is any power to change this – it’s a slow process but we’re trying hard.”

“The government is encouraging technology like this but the UK only has five real banks: they appear to have the same policies and block our industry quite easily.”

“Some exchanges are using banks on the continent too − it’s expensive and a waste of money, but there are ways around this.”

Jesse Powell, CEO and co-founder of Kraken Digital Asset Exchange:

“There are banks that see bitcoin and digital assets as an innovation they want to explore and leverage for good. These are the banks we choose as our partners. We choose to partner with the banks that are courageous enough and have the foresight to see opportunity and possibility in what’s new and different.”

UK Finance

What is UK Finance? It represents nearly 300 of the leading firms providing finance, banking, markets and payments-related services in or from the UK. They said:

“We can’t comment on individual banks and their activity.”

We contacted Santander, Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Metro Bank, Halifax, Standard Chartered and HSBC, among others.

Here’s what they had to say:

HSBC

“HSBC is monitoring the development of virtual and digital currencies such as Bitcoin as well as regulations governing their use. In countries where use of virtual currencies is permitted by the authorities, we expect any customer transacting in them to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, just as they would for transactions denominated in traditional legal tender. HSBC does not process virtual currency payments and we do not bank virtual currency exchanges.”

Santander

“As an innovative bank, we are interested in new technology and emerging currencies. In line with our regulatory obligations and industry best practice, any company, big or small, will be risk assessed when applying to open an account with us.”

“Santander is a supporter of new businesses and start-ups in the UK and across the globe, making significant investments through our venture capital, Santander Innoventures fund, based in London.”

Royal Bank of Scotland

Failed to respond to our enquiries.

Metro Bank

“We review all applications on a case-by-case basis.”

Halifax

Failed to respond to our enquiries.

Bank of Ireland

We are not in a position to comment.

Standard Chartered

Failed to respond to our enquiries.

Lloyds Bank

Failed to respond to our enquiries.

Co-operative Bank

“The Bank has been through a recapitalisation exercise as we look to rebuild our business, and our strategy is to focus on becoming a smaller retail and SME bank. As such, more specialist areas of finance and banking is not part of our current strategy, which includes new sectors such as blockchain at this moment in time,” said Paul Lawler, Head of Values & Ethics and Communications.

Yorkshire Building Society

Failed to respond to our enquiries.

Deutsche Bank

Failed to respond to our enquiries.

Conclusion

Based on the findings of the FCA, it would appear that some banks have been complicit in anti-competitive practices. The law states that businesses can be fined up to 10% of their worldwide turnover and sued for damages if they are found to be involved in anti-competitive activities. It’s been widely said that the larger banks have formed a “cartel” to block out crypto-businesses.

Hostility has been ripe for many years now (we covered the same issue back in 2014) and yet nearly four years on nothing has changed, with mainstream banks continuing to suffocate blockchain companies across all sectors.

What has changed, however, is the flexible and adaptive nature of some smaller banks in Europe that have started to embrace crypto-businesses. If things continue as they are over the next ten years we will probably see London lose its fintech crown to a more blockchain-friendly country somewhere in Europe.