Tag Archive : crypto

Andreessen Horowitz sets up a $515M crypto fund

Andreessen Horowitz sets up a $515 million crypto fund to help fund new blockchain projects – with this being the second fundraising campaign by the VC firm. 

According to the recent reports, Silicon Valley venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz has raised more than $500 million for creating a new crypto fund. The initial fundraising goal was $450 million, but the investment fund ended up nabbing in a total of $515 million. Chris Dixon and Katie Haun who led the investment clarified that the fund will be used to initiate a number of new blockchain projects. 

In an interview with Fortune, Chris stated, “It’s very rare that major, new computing paradigms come along, and we think this is on the scale of cloud and mobile for the Internet,” Chris and Katie explained that the fund will open up new avenues in the field of payments systems, digital stores of value, decentralized finance, Web3, and other ways to monetize content creators.  

Previously Andreessen Horowitz created another crypto investment fund worth $300 million, out of which $25 million went to Coinbase in 2013. Apart from Coinbase, the fund also invested in companies like Dfinity, MakerDAO, Compound, and Filecoin. Interestingly, Andreessen Horowitz was one of the first backers of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. 

The firm is also providing a free, seven-week blockchain education program, under its Crypto Startup School. Andreessen Horowitz partners and other top VCs are involved in the project. Promising projects also get an opportunity to pitch their ideas, and raise money. 

Andreessen Horowitz is clearly being actively involved in the crypto space, investing in projects, and setting up funds that will eventually trigger crypto and blockchain adoption. Last year, it also became a registered investment adviser, a distinction offered by the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

To sum it up, with a $515 million fund right there in place, it will be interesting to note how the capital will be allocated and to whom. Moreover, Marc Andreessen’s recent comment about rebuilding America amid the COVID disaster brings this question more into relevance.

Japanese STO Association Sets Guidance for Crypto Asset Management


Japanese STO Association

The Japanese STO Association lays down specific guidelines for the management of separately held customer assets and privacy. 

Recently, the Japanese House of Representatives announced that the revised Financial Instruments and Exchange Act (FIEA) will be enforced from May 1. In the latest development in this respect, The Japan Security Token Offering Association (JSTOA) has laid down a set of guidelines in regard to the separation of customer assets and electronic record transfer rights.

The Japanese STO Association held a meeting involving employees and the Board of Directors. In this meeting the number of rules were specified including those of electronic record transfer rights and management of customer assets. The meeting further stated that the JSTOA will monitor the management of separately held customer assets on a monthly basis along with certified public accountants and audits.

Moreover, in a quest to prevent investment solicitation, the board demanded a more lucid definition of digital asset sales to elderly customers so that it can outline specific guidelines regarding the same. – as the association believes that these people are more vulnerable to fraud.  

About the Japan Security Token Offering Association

The JSTOA is based in Tokyo and was founded in October last year. It was tasked to support the development of security token offering fundraising by involving industry experts while maintaining compliance with laws so that investors can be protected at all times. The JSTOA has backing from prominent names in japan like Nomura Securities, Rakuten Securities, SBI Securities, Monex, etc.

Crypto Regulations in Japan

Japan has been focusing on strengthening its regulatory compliance in regard to cryptocurrencies off late. As per schedule, the revised versions of the FIEA and Payment Services Act will come into effect from 1st May. 

US Citizens Might be Investing their COVID-19 Stimulus Package in Crypto

Data suggests that some US citizens are possibly investing their $1200 COVID-19 stimulus package in cryptocurrencies. 

Brian Armstrong, CEO of United States crypto exchange recently published a tweet, suggesting that a small portion of US citizens might be using their COVID-19 related stimulus granted by the US government to buy cryptocurrency. According to Armstrong, deposits and buys worth $1200 (which is exactly the stimulus amount granted) has increased by more than four times. It is being speculated that this data has been formulated from transaction trends in Coinbase. 

Stimulus package amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The US government recently announced a $1200 stimulus package for Americans who might be facing tremendous financial hardship amid the COVID-19 outbreak, due to loss of jobs or extremely low income. As of now, most middle-class people in America do not have a steady source of income, as the government has closed down consumer-facing businesses for the time being. As many as $22 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic started. 

Citizens have started receiving the stimulus, and the recent increase in the number of $1200 worth buys and deposits suggest that they are investing the relief fund in cryptocurrencies. 

The Washington Post recently reported that low-income Americans who do not file tax returns also have the right to claim the package, and parents are eligible for an additional $500 per child. The demand for relief funds has been overwhelming, so much so, that many banks across the US are facing server issues and are being unable to handle bulk requests. 

Amid the grave economic crisis, the US government recently allowed fintech giant PayPal to lend money to businesses in need. PayPal has also cut down its loan interest rates in order to help small businesses sustain and keep paying their employees. On the other hand, Square founder Jack Dorsey announced that it will enable citizens to claim their stimulus package via the Cash App so that the process can be made more streamlined and efficient for those who do not have access to banks. 

A New Incremental Way to Earn for Goods & Services in Crypto

Chris Robison introduces meTokens to help freelancers and influencers, in particular, to pay and earn using crypto 

Crypto entrepreneur Chrish Robison has introduced a new token named meTokens, which has been recently launched on StakeOnMe. meTokens implement two important concepts namely, Synthetic Labor and Curved-Token Bonding. The idea is aimed to include freelancers and influencers into the crypto space. 

Synthetic Labor and Curved-Token Bonding

Using Synthetic Labor, workers can issue meToken to employers, who can then use those as credits to ask for goods and services from them in the future. It is basically a way for employers to pay and buy the future work of a person or organization. 

Curved-token Bonding, on the other hand, allows one to buy tokens at a price determined by the existing token supply. However, as the supply increases, the token price will increase for future purchases from the contract i.e buyers will have to issue more collateral in order to buy meTokens as their supply increases. 

Creating meTokens

meTokens can be created and collateralized using a smart contract, and additional tokens can be minted at a ‘predetermined price curve by the originator or other users by contributing additional collateral.’ As the supply of the token increases, the bonded curve determines the selling price.

Moreover, the area between the two curves determines the collateral price. Hence, as more participants buy meTokens, the originator can redeem tokens at a greater value, and the token price increases at the contract level as well as on secondary markets like exchanges. 

meTokens founder Robison stated that the bonded curve implementation benefits from buyers buying tokens as speculation in order to make profits as the price increases. In an interview with Decrypt, he said, “The investments of speculators are used to subsidize the market for a person’s true believers and supporters. Speculation helps stabilize the market for people who intend on actually spending a person’s meToken with its issuer.”

meTokens, which are issued by DAOs are still in their initial stages but promises to be beneficial for those who offer specialized skill sets as on-demand services. 

Swiss Holding Firm Crypto Finance AG Nabs in $14.5M in Series B Round


crypto-finnance-group-ag-

Swiss holding company Crypto Finance AG closes a $14.5 million Series B funding round and plans to obtain a brokerage license.

As per the latest reports, Swiss holding company Crypto Finance AG has raised $14.5 million in its Series B funding round. The round was headed by Swiss investor Rainer-Marc Frey and Beijing-based private equity firm Lingfeng Capital. Hongkong-based QBN Capital also participated in the round. Since establishment in 2017, Crypto Finance AG has raised a total of $37.29 million.

Crypto Finance AG started the Series B back in September last year and was originally supposed to be closed by the end of March. However, the financial skepticism amid the COVID-19 pandemic led to the delay. The firm operates three subsidiaries namely Crypto Fund AG, Crypto Broker AG and Crypto Storage AG. 

Crypto Finance AG CEO and founder Jan Brzezek confirmed that the fresh capital will be used to obtain a broker-dealer license from the Swiss financial regulator FINMA. 

Brzezek went on to add that the eighteen-month long process of obtaining the license is finally in its last leg. Once achieved, it will enable Crypto Broker AG to co-ordinate cryptocurrency trades for larger regulated market players like banks. Brzezek is of the opinion that traditional financial institutions are often hesitant about connecting with different exchanges and brokers, but they can simply integrate their API with Crypto Broker AG’s infrastructure to trade around the world. 

Talking about regulatory hurdles involved, Brzezek commented, “The U.S. is still struggling to find the common solution. We have a very good legal basis to operate in Europe and in Asia.”

He concluded by acknowledging the potential of the crypto derivatives market and hinted that Crypto Finance AG plans to foray into that space. 

 

Japanese Crypto Exchange bitFlyer to Add Support for BAT tokens

After adding support for XRP last year, Japanese cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer will soon have Brave Browser’s BAT tokens available for trading. 

One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan, bitFlyer is soon adding support for Brave Browser’s BAT token. The news was confirmed by bitFlyer through a press release. BAT has recently gained trading approval from the FSA. This is the first time in four months that bitFlyer is bringing in some token for trading support. It added support for XRP in December 2019. 

About bitFlyer

bitFlyer was originally established in 2014, and today it is the largest crypto exchange in Japan in terms of the trading volume. It claims to offer top-notch security standards for virtual currency trading and is the only certified virtual currency exchange company in as many as three regions – Japan, Europe, and the US. 

Brave Browser and its Growing Popularity Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Brave browser first came into prominence when it sold $35 million BAT tokens in just under 1 minute in its 2017 ICO. In 2018, mobile manufacturing giant HTC made Brave browser the default browser in its blockchain phone Exodus.

Recently, BAT tokens were made available for trading in the Gemini exchange. So, Brave has had quite a good run ever since is 2017 ICO. 

However, what is striking, is the fact that Brave has increased its number of active users amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being speculated that Brave’s enhanced focus on user privacy is one of the prime reasons for its success.

Brave has positioned itself as a privacy-oriented rival Google Chrome. Interestingly, it has nearly doubled its user base from 2018 to 2019. 

Owing to the partnerships with Gemini and now bitFlyer, it would be interesting to note Brave’s progress in the near future. 

 

FBI Suspects an Increase in Crypto Scams Amid COVID Fears

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) expects an increase in crypto-scams amid the COVID-19 pandemic and has issued a warning urging people to stay safe from money-laundering schemes. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has issued a warning towards citizens alerting them to be careful of crypto-related scams. The FBI expects a radical increase in the number of crypto-based frauds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the press release, FBI noted that, though elderly citizens are more vulnerable to such attacks, people of all demographics are under threat and should be careful.

It stated, “The FBI advises you to be on the lookout for an increase in the following cryptocurrency fraud schemes related to COVID-19.”

Owing to the coronavirus outbreak, almost the entire world is under lockdown and people are adopting the ‘Work from Home’ culture. In this context, the FBI warned, “Scammers, posing as employers, may ask you to accept a “donation” of funds into your own bank account and to deposit them into a crypto kiosk. The so-called “donation” is likely money stolen from others. Your acceptance and transfer of the stolen money are considered illegal money mule activity and potentially unlicensed money transmission.”

Apart from this, it also warned citizens to stay away from suspicious investment opportunities as these might be potential scams. Fraudsters often portray these investment opportunities as luring, but there are chances of being scammed under the veil of ‘extremely high-return investments’.

The FBI warned that scammers could also blackmail citizens of extracting personal information, ‘inappropriate data’, or even threat to infect them with the novel coronavirus. 

The FBI suspects that scammers could use charity campaigns as a means to steal funds. While there are a number of legitimate charity campaigns set up in order to help those in need amid the COVID fears, the FBI warned citizens to stay away from such campaigns that pressurize to donate only in crypto. 

The FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division has already set up a dedicated unit to combat money-laundering attempts by scammers. It has also issued some directives and urged citizens to follow those in order to be safe from such scams. 

Recently, blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis noted that the number of crypto-related scams and fake emails from scammers have surged over the last month or so. FBI’s latest warning IS also aligned with the same trend. 

 

Twitter Updated Privacy Features, Crypto Community are Not Happy

According to an official update from the social media platform Twitter, it has removed one of its privacy features. Twitter is basically a free platform for users, and advertisers are its main source of revenue. To strengthen that model and maintain a beneficial proposition for advertisers on the platform, Twitter will share certain non-public information with them from now on. 

According to the update, Twitter users will no longer be able to control mobile app advertising measurements. However, it is their discretion, if they want to share non-public data to improve Twitter’s marketing activities on other sites and apps. 

Previously Twitter did not have the right to share data related to the ads you saw or clicked on Twitter with advertising platforms. However, with the recent removal of the data-sharing setting in regard to mobile app measurements, the above-mentioned information will be shared with third-party platforms by default. 

A Twitter spokesperson stressed the fact that this is a very crucial move in order to continue providing free services to users. 

Reaction from the crypto community

This decision has not gone down well with the crypto community. Crypto enthusiasts are by nature very defensive about privacy and security. After Twitter announced the new update, a whole lot of crypto supporters expressed their discomfort via tweets.

Zooko Wilcox, creator of Zcash tweeted that he would rather pay to use Twitter, than have his private information being manipulated supplied to third-party platforms. On the other hand, Ryan Selkis, the founder of crypto data provider Messari, stated that he is ready to pay as high as $1000 for a premium Twitter account. 

The common sentiment in the crypto community is that Twitter should make its service chargeable rather than allowing advertisers to pick up massive amounts of non-public data from millions of Twitter users. 

Japan to Enforce New Crypto Laws from Next Month

The Japanese government has announced that The Payment Services Act (PSA) and Financial Instruments and Exchange Act (FIEA), meant to regulate crypto in the country will be enforced from May 1st, 2020. These acts were passed by the Japanese House of Representatives last year and were originally scheduled to be operational from April 2020. However, an official government newsletter confirmed that the laws will go into effect starting from May. 

Interestingly, Japan does not have any official laws in regard to crypto. So the latest implementation of the amended PSA and FIEA are the only tools to regulate crypto in Japan. 

About the Payment Services Act

Under the PSA, crypto holdings will be “crypto-asset” instead of “virtual currency”. Furthermore, the PSA will make it mandatory for crypto exchanges to handle user funds separately, and not together with their won cash flow. This essentially means that third-party services will be responsible to manage user funds via stuff like cold wallets.

In case the users wish to store their holdings in hot wallets, the exchanges will have to back those up with a similar kind and equal amount of crypto assets, in order to have the capability of reimbursing them in the event of hacks and other discrepancies risking user funds. 

About the FIEA

The FIEA will implement the concept of electronically recorded transferable rights (ERTRs). These are basically tokens rolled out as per profit expectations. This will ensure that ICOs and STOs be regulated under the act. 

Moreover, from May 1, crypto-asset derivatives transactions will also come under the regulatory boundary of the FIEA. The act will also prohibit crypto users in Japan from selling, purchasing and engaging in crypto-asset based derivatives transactions in a fraudulent manner. 

It is being speculated that the implementation of the PSA and FIEA will help Japan is emerging as a ‘safe crypto-country’.

Roche Freedman files 11 lawsuits against 7 major crypto firms

As per the latest reports, law firm Roche Freedman has filed 11 lawsuits against seven cryptocurrency firms. The lawsuits were filed in a New York federal court on 3rd April. Interestingly, Roche Freedman is also representing late Dave Kleiman against self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto, Craig White. 

Seven Cryptocurrency companies under the scanner

The coordinated series of lawsuits claim that these firms have issued unregistered security tokens that violate exchange and broker-dealer registration requirements, and also the violation of U.S. federal and state securities laws. The lawsuits named several prominent names in the crypto industry including Binance, Civic, BProtocol, Status, Block.one, KayDex, Quantstamp, BiBox, TRON Foundation, KuCoin, HDR Global Trading. Furthermore, the application has also dragged in several big names like Brendan Blumer, Dan Larimer, Vinny Lingham, and Binance founder Changpeng Zhao. 

According to the lawsuits filed by Roche Freedman, he tokens which violate the norms include –  Bibox Token (BIX), Eos (EOS), Bancor (BNT), Status (SNT), Quantstamp (QSP), Kyber Network (KNC), Tron (TRX), Funfair (FUN), Icon (ICX), OmiseGO (OMG), ETHLend (LEND), Aelf (ELF), TomoChain (TOMO) and Civic (CVC). 

Proceedings amid COVID-19

It is being speculated that the court proceedings against the accused might specifically be delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak., especially for parties based outside of the US. 

It seems that the jurisdiction rules might make it complicated for non-U.S. defendants and the applicability of arbitration clauses will also be something to look out for.