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Morgan Stanley Establishes a New Research Department exclusively for Cryptocurrency

Bloomberg reported Monday that Morgan Stanley is establishing a dedicated cryptocurrency research team, citing an internal memo to workers viewed by the news organization.

The team, led by Sheena Shah, the firm's chief cryptocurrency analyst, will carry global research on the influence of cryptocurrencies on equities and fixed income.

The company stated, 

"The launch of dedicated crypto research is in recognition of the growing significance of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets in global markets."

Shah will be based in London and report to Adam Wood, the European head of Morgan Stanley's fintech and payments research division. Additionally, she will report to James Faucette, responsible for the firm's fintech and payments research in the United States.

Morgan Stanley was one of the first significant investment firms to accept bitcoin as a payment method. The business launched three bitcoin ETFs for its clients in March. The company introduced bitcoin to the investing strategy of 12 mutual funds in April.

Like Bank of America (BofA), several other large financial institutions, which launched a cryptocurrency research group in July, have also founded specialized cryptocurrency teams. Last Monday, asset management firm Franklin Templeton advertised a position for a bitcoin "investment research analyst."

An increasing number of investment banks have begun to offer cryptocurrency services to their clients or are in the prospect of doing so. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, Wells Fargo, and DBS are among them.

El Salvador Marks History as More Merchants Adopt Bitcoin Payments

The successful introduction of bitcoin as legal money in El Salvador on Tuesday was hit by several issues, including the appearance of furious individuals distrusting the technology, technological malfunctions, and a decrease in the cryptocurrency's value.

President Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, had some issues right out of the gate when he discovered that the government-backed bitcoin software was not accessible on the Apple App Store or Huawei.

According to President Nayib Bukele, food and drink businesses, including Starbucks Corp. and Pizza Hut Inc., accepted cryptocurrency payments from El Salvador after the country began using Bitcoin. The Starbucks franchise in El Salvador is taking bitcoin as payment for food and beverages at its locations, including drive-through and to-go options.

An initial $30 of bitcoin for each user was promised by Bukele, who encouraged its acceptance in the country by declaring that it could save Salvadorans $400 million annually in commission fees for remittances, in addition to allowing those without bank accounts to have access to financial services.

El Salvador's official currency has been the U.S. dollar since 2001, and the currency will remain legal tender. However, companies will also be allowed to accept bitcoin payments.

The consequences for firms who refuse to take bitcoin are yet unknown.

The government built ATMs that allow Chivo users to change bitcoin into dollars and withdraw the money without charge to avoid additional fees.

On Tuesday, anyone could pay for breakfast at McDonald's using Bitcoin in the Central American nation, the first day it was recognized as legal money.

The law requires businesses to take Bitcoin in return for their goods and services; however, it exempts those that lack the technology to receive the e-currency.

What looks like an ambitious mass adoption experiment like no other is yet to prove if it is sustainable for this nation in the future which is riddled with a 50% population living below the poverty range and limited access to technology and the internet.

Sep, 2021

Visa joins the NFT fever by purchasing a $150,000 'CryptoPunk'

Visa is the most recent large corporation to join the NFT bandwagon.

The payments processor said it paid roughly $150,000 in Ethereum for a "CryptoPunk," one of the thousands of NFT-based digital avatars.

An NFT (non-fungible token) is a one-of-a-kind digital asset used to indicate ownership of a virtual item. NFTs cannot be exchanged like-for-like with other NFTs, unlike bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Proponents argue that this increases the scarcity of NFTs, hence increasing their value. Physical collectibles such as rare trade cards and works of art have been used to compare NFTs.

Cuy Sheffield, Visa's head of crypto, stated in a blog post on Monday."  "We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce,"

"With our CryptoPunk purchase, we're jumping in feet first," he said. "This is just the beginning of our work in this space."

The purchase was made possible by Anchorage, a federally chartered digital asset bank, according to Visa.

The NFT frenzy has enticed large corporations. Several large corporations have recently begun experimenting with NFTs.

Several NFTs, some valued millions of dollars, have been auctioned off by Christie's. In March, the auction house made history when a digital artist's image, Beeple, sold for $69 million.

Meanwhile, several news organizations, including CNN, The New York Times, and Fortune magazine, have sold their own NFTs.

However, some skeptics are wary of NFTs. While such tokens serve as a digital certificate of ownership, purchasers do not own the underlying object, and internet users can still access the related media. Some people have even stolen the work of other artists and sold it as NFTs.

Aug, 2021

Early Adopters in Education - India to authenticate diploma credentials

India is one of the first countries to deploy an e-governance system for higher education, thanks to a new cooperation with LegitDoc.

Maharashtra's government recently announced a cooperation with Indian blockchain company LegitDoc to build an Ethereum-based credentialing system that will offer tamper-proof diploma records.

The Maharashtra State Board of Skill Development (MSBSD) opposes India's crypto ban story of adopting Ethereum-based public blockchains to combat the growth in document falsification. This is the same blockchain used to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are considered collectibles and require confirmation of validity.

Because there is no single authority in control of Ethereum, goods minted on the platform are considered tamper-proof. A network of computers verifies the online ledger or blockchain.

Nobody can tamper with a record on the blockchain, not even the owner – at least not without pouring a significant amount of work, money, and energy into it.

While certificates are currently confirmed using traditional manual methods, MSBSD will begin recommending the digital verification approach exclusively for all manual verification requests starting next year, according to LegitDoc CEO Neil Martis in an exclusive statement to Cointelegraph.

Anil Jadhao, chairman of MSBSD, highlighted blockchain's ability to combat fraud connected to document forgery:

"... in the last ten years, there has been a rampant increase in forgery of government-issued documents which have caused enormous financial and reputational losses to the stakeholders involved."

Jul, 2021

The NFT Marketplace ‘Opensea’ raises $100 million, making it a blockchain unicorn

In the latest news on the NFT front, Opensea revealed this week that it had raised $100 million in a Series B round, making it the latest non-fungible token (NFT)-focused company to raise financing this year. Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm, spearheaded the Opensea financing round, including Kevin Durant, Ashton Kutcher, and Tobi Lutke.

Opensea to Move to Polygon

Opensea, one of the most significant non-fungible token (NFT) exchanges on the market today, has announced a $100 million Series B fundraising round. Additionally, the project claimed that it will be adding "cross-blockchain support" to its capabilities and that Opensea would begin supporting the Polygon blockchain. After the Series B fundraising round headed by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Opensea has reached unicorn status among blockchain businesses, with a valuation of $1.5 billion.

Huge Volume for Opensea

According to 30-day data from Dune Analytics, Opensea's sales volume for the month of July was the largest ever, topping the previous month's record-breaking numbers. The total volume in July was $174.6 million, but the daily volume was $4.4 million, which is lower than typical.

According to daily figures from Dune Analytics, Opensea received $23.1 million on May 4 in the first week of May. Users can try out Polygon Opensea support right now by going to Opensea's Matic website. "When conducting trades on Opensea, buyers no longer have to pay blockchain fees, and creators may fully earn their way into crypto for the first time," the business stated.

NFT market is fierce 

Opensea's Series B follows a slew of NFT-focused exchanges that have raised millions of dollars to help the industry grow. In a token sale for the Efinity NFT marketplace, which supports the Polkadot blockchain, Enjin raised $20 million. Rarible, a new NFT market, just raised over $14 million and expects to launch on the Flow blockchain. During the first week of July, the Mark Cuban-backed non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Mintable raised $13 million in a Series A fundraising round. 

Investors and venture capital organizations appear to expect that the NFT craze will last for a long time, as seen by Opensea's newest funding.

Jul, 2021

Sotheby’s Auction sees its Biggest Crypto Purchase for Diamond

First, it was Digital Art, and now its gemstones! A stellar piece of 101.38-carat diamond was auctioned at Art and jewelry brokerage Sotheby for more than $10 million in crypto on July 9th, 2021. This marked the highest sale price of a gem paid in crypto.

According to MarketWatch, the diamond "sold for $12.3 million to an anonymous buyer last Friday at Sotheby's Hong Kong," it was added that "It's the most expensive gem ever purchased with cryptocurrency, according to Sotheby's," 

The auction for the crypto-friendly diamond was announced late in June, with estimations predicting that the diamond would sell for around $15 million. The diamond's moniker, The Key 10138, refers to the crypto industry's private keys, which provide access to each crypto owner's holdings. The Key 10138 is a rather befitting name for such a diamond. According to MarketWatch, the auction results did not reveal which digital asset the buyer used as payment. Buyers get the option of placing their diamond offers in Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), or regional currencies (fiat).

Anonymity and pseudonymity have become a hot-button issue when it comes to cryptocurrency. More of the buyers want to remain anonymous and stay under the radar. Crypto traders and social media influencers frequently use pseudonymous Twitter accounts to make comments. Even Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator (or creators) of Bitcoin (BTC), the commodity that launched the entire crypto-economy, remained anonymous. Due to anonymity, the actual total of which cryptocurrency was used was not shared.

Jul, 2021

Jack Dorsery & Elon Musk to have the ‘bitcoin talk’ at an upcoming event

It looks like two tech giants will be joining each other on a big stage next month to discuss the future of Bitcoin. Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk have never shied away from voicing their opinion in public about the cryptocurrency industry. However, this will mark a first-of-its-kind event in which these two will address the public together. 

Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, recently tweeted about the upcoming bitcoin event called 'The B Word' to which Musk replied. So naturally, it caught everyone's eye, and the Twitter world exploded with all sorts of theories for what it could mean. 

Dorsey asked Musk to join him on the stage and share his theories, to which Musk responded with "For the Bitcurious? Very well then, let's do it," followed by an emoji. It is still not clear if the event will take place in person or virtually. 

Dorsey has long been a frank advocate for bitcoin and believes the cryptocurrency will revolutionize the world for the better, as concluded from his tweets. By mid-May, the payment processing company Square, which he owns, held more than 8000 bitcoin. It shows Dorsey trusts the system and is playing his active role in scaling its adoption. 

However, Elon Musk is a mystery because sometimes he shows support for Bitcoin, and at times he is vocal about Dodgecoins. Unfortunately, Tesla stopped accepting bitcoin as a payment option in mid-May, citing environmental and sheer energy expenditure concerns. 

It will be interesting to see what sort of curiosities both tech leaders will be sharing about Bitcoin and what it means for its future.

Jun, 2021

Facebook can truly build the first mainstream coin, thanks to its huge user base

With roughly 2.85 Billion active users, Facebook is a force to be reckoned with. The colossal user database, if introduced to cryptocurrency, can quickly speed up mass adoption. Probably that's what Facebook thought two years ago when they came out with their native coin 'Libra'. 

Facebook was all set to bring the revolution to the digital currency in 2019, but regulators came calling, and things went south from there. The Libra token was initially intended to use as a universal currency pegged to other fiat currencies like US Dollars and Euro. 

It met strong opposition, and significant investors like Visa and Mastercard backed out, forcing the project to nearly fold. As a result, the project changed direction and minimized its scope. 

Now called 'Diem', the Facebook coin is expected to be launched later this year though supply will be limited. It is reported that The Diem Association, the Switzerland-based nonprofit which oversees Diem's development, is aiming to launch a pilot with a single stable coin pegged to the US Dollar in 2021. The pilot will be small and only focus on individual consumers. However, it is highly likely it will be used to buy goods and services. 

Diem, then Libra, met with intense scrutiny when it first came to light. Given Facebook's broad reach, central bankers and financial institutions feared the currency could endanger monetary stability and possibly facilitate money laundering. Facebook's involvement also meant that there were concerns about data privacy as well.

Jun, 2021