Crypto Bear Market Has Even Led $15 Billion Bitmain to Lay Off Employees

The ongoing bear market has begun to take its toll on a number of businesses, as many seek to close up operations, reduce staff, or make other changes that impact their ability to stay afloat. The latest cryptocurrency firm to feel pressure due to continued price decline, is the $15 billion-valued mining giant Bitmain.
Bitmain Closes Israeli Dev Center Due to Crypto “Shake Up”
After a mere two years in operation, Bitmain will be shutting down its development center in Ra’anana, Israel, citing continued turmoil and uncertainty in the cryptocurrency market.
“The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation,” said Bitmain VP International Sales and Marketing Gadi Glikberg who also serves as the Branch Manager at Bitmain’s Israeli development center.
Related Reading | Bitmain Restructures Leadership Board Positions Ahead of IPO
According to Globes Israel, the Ra’anana office has 23 employees who will be laid off in the process. Glikberg himself is also leaving the company in the wake of the closure.
Back in September, before Bitcoin’s price broke through the critical support floor of $6,000 and plummeted yet another 40% from previous 2018 lows, Glikberg appeared unfazed, suggesting that the “market will find a way to perfect itself” when discussing the influence falling prices had on sales of Bitmain’s Antminer ASIC miners. In the same interview, Glikberg revealed that he had aimed to expand his team to up to 30 employees before the year’s end and was anticipating growth into 2019. However, the tides have turned and many business have been forced to either shut down, or alter their business operations significantly to remain competitive in the current market climate.
ConsenSys and Coinbase: Other Crypto Giants Struggling to Survive
It’s not just Bitamin that is suffering amidst the current downtrend in cryptocurrencies. This past week, blockchain innovation firm ConsenSys laid off over 13% of its 1,200 employees in a major restructuring the company is calling ConsenSys 2.0. The company’s founder Joseph Lubin, who also helped co-found Ethereum, said the the market was extremely “competitive” and the company would need to “retain, and in some cases regain, the lean and gritty startup mindset that made us who we are.”
Related Reading | ConsenSys CEO is Planning Company Restructure Following Bear Market
Coinbase, who generated a whopping $1 billion in revenue during 2017’s bull market, also laid off nearly 3% of its workforce this past October. It’s especially surprising for Coinbase to be dropping employees as the firm’s CEO Brian Armstrong has said that bear markets are a time to “build a strong foundation so we can thrive in the next growth cycle.” The company was also recently valued at $8 billion after a successful $500 million round of investment.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Crypto Jobs Get Squeezed as Markets Continue to Free-fall

Crypto traders are not the only ones to suffer when prices plummet and markets crash. The wave of startups that emerged over the past year or so to ride the crypto train has also started to feel the pinch and downsize, or close up altogether.
Crypto Startups Feeling the Pinch
As the crypto winter intensifies, the number of companies forced to lay off employees is growing. The impact has been so significant that even Bloomberg ran a story last week on the demise of a number of crypto startups. Companies that have raised funding in cryptocurrency and have been using it to pay for staff can no longer do so as the prices are now well below what they were when they started.
The Ethereum Classic developer group, ETCDEV, has been one of the victims when it announced its closure as reported by NewsBTC last week. A group executive cited financial issues as the root cause of the closure which comes as no surprise in the current climate.
Other crypto firms such as Steemit and Spankchain have also been forced to downsize with losses of up to 70% of their employees. One of the biggest names in the ecosystem, ConsenSys, has also felt the squeeze with the loss around 13% of its estimated 1,200 employees. A press release last week labeled the workforce culling as a new chapter in the development of the organization, ConsenSys 2.0.
“Our first step in this direction has been a difficult one: we are streamlining several parts of the business including ConsenSys Solutions, spokes, and hub services, leading to a 13% reduction of mesh members,” it added.
Since the company deals primarily with Ethereum, downsizing comes as no surprise considering that the price of ETH has downsized itself by 93% since its all-time high.
The explosion of new crypto media outlets witnessed over the past year will also inevitably contract as the smaller ones go under because can no longer afford to pay for writers and editors due to diminishing ad revenue from crypto projects. Like an episode from a nature documentary, only the fittest will survive the crypto winter.
Hope is not all lost, however, and the crypto community is pulling together in its own way. Twitter, being the social media of choice for crypto aficionados, has been put to use by some members to post lists of crypto companies that are still hiring;

Companies that are hiring:– @ZeppelinOrg – @golemproject – @AragonProject – @neufundorg – @gnosisPM – @Chainzillaio – @web3foundation – @ParityTech – @BeaxyExchange We’re putting up a list for the people downsized. Are you hiring? A lot of talent is on the loose! DM me!
— María Paula (@MPtherealMVP) December 7, 2018

Support for the growing list of unemployed crypto specialists in this still nascent industry is growing. In what appears to be a case of extended hibernation rather than capitulation, those that have recently lost crypto jobs will need to hunker down for the winter and wait for warmer times.
Image from Shutterstock
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Coinbase CEO: Crypto in VR is the Next Big Application of Blockchain

Either it will be the best thing the crypto world will ever experience or a farce in the name of the best thing the world will ever experience.
That’s pretty much the discussion around virtual reality (VR), a technology which allows humans beings to experience an immersive illusion of being somewhere else. Many Hollywood blockbusters, including The Matrix, and the very recent Ready Player One, attempted to illustrate how the next generations of VR technology could be. In these movies, protagonists were living inside a world created by stunning – and almost paranormal – objects. They had a job (even if it was about kidnapping a key maker), expensive Ferraris, and even a bae to hang out with.
Away from the sci-fi, engineers meanwhile are exploring real-time use cases based on the VR. The technology is promised to gamers, with the influx on highly-handed games launched by the Play Station and the Xbox. Apart from that, the possibilities of removing the middle layer of keyboards and emails and using avatars to pass down information at workplaces are also being explored.
It could be a reason why Brian Armstrong, co-founder of one of the largest crypto exchanges Coinbase, believes that VR could become a tool to expand virtual payment technologies. They could allow participants to earn virtual money which they can take back to the real world and spend them like any other fiat money.
“The reason is simple,” explains Armstrong. “When people transact in virtual worlds, it doesn’t make sense to use the currency of one country. People from all over the world will gather in these virtual spaces, and it would be exclusionary (or perhaps even rude) to use one country’s currency in a digital world. Furthermore, digital currency will create an incentive for people to spend more time in these worlds (where they can earn “real money”) creating a virtuous cycle for companies building these worlds.”
Bitcoin in a VR World
Armstrong referred to the copper coins from the movie Ready Player One. These coins were a form of treasure or reward a character would receive within the OASIS, a virtual reality world. Players used a bag of holdings to store these coins.
Developers of such virtual worlds could create their centralized digital currency or use an existing decentralized currency like Bitcoin or Ethereum, Armstrong suggested. He also envisioned how people would start spending more time in the VR world to earn a passive income, especially when it’s going to be usable in the real world.
“Customers of these products can take the money they generate in the virtual world, and convert it to traditional money to pay their bills in real life. This will help take virtual reality from a hobby or entertainment to a full time job or lifestyle,” Armstrong explained.
While the theory itself seems like a sci-fi, it is still very interesting from the technological point of view. Who knows, nobody would need to go to the office anymore as they wear a headset and control every random task via an avatar.
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Crypto Week In Review: SEC Delays Bitcoin ETF Ruling, Coinbase Lists Four Altcoins

In a bear market-induced sense of panic, the crypto market at large has stopped responding to industry developments altogether, with the news of the past week coming in one ear, and out the other. Regardless, startups still seem hell-bent on bolstering this industry’s infrastructure. And, frankly, this unrelenting drive for innovation doesn’t come unwarranted.
As once stated by Spencer Bogart of Blockchain Capital, the news of today will become “important building blocks” and the “kindling” for the next cryptocurrency bonfire.
SEC Delays Bitcoin ETF Ruling To February 2019
Since Bitcoin’s earliest blocks, true innovators have discovered value in the crevices of the cryptocurrency world, finding it logical to latch onto this nascent industry in times of despair and euphoria alike. While this zealous faith in this decade-old innovation has taken many forms over the years, in the recent downturn, investors have sought a newfound light at the end of the tunnel — a U.S.-based, fully-regulated Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).
However, even after Bitcoin ETF hopefuls consulted with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Economic Risk Analysis branch, the American regulator recently had to delay its ruling on the prospective product. In an SEC-stamped document published Thursday afternoon, the governmental agency claimed that it would be exercising its right to delay a verdict on the application until February 27, 2019.
Although this regulatory judgment was deemed bearish by naive traders, many analysts and industry commentators claimed that the delay was expected, citing the concerns that the underlying crypto market isn’t ready for the advent of such an instrument.
Morgan Creek Digital Bets $1 Million That Crypto Will Outperform The S&P 500 
On Thursday, Morgan Creek Digital, the crypto-centric subsidiary of the similarly-named Morgan Creek Asset Management, announced that it was calling upon a to-be-determined investor to take on a hefty bet.
The wager, which Morgan Creek has dubbed the “Buffet Bet 2.0,” sees the cryptocurrency investment manager laud its in-house crypto index fund, claiming that it will out-perform the Standard and Poor’s 500 equity market index over a 10-year period. In other words, if Morgan Creek’s fund outperforms American markets, it expects a $1 million cheque to fly its way. On the other hand, if traditional stocks manage to outperform the crypto market, Morgan Creek is mandated to fork out $1 million to its opponent. The “Buffet Bet 2.0,” for those who are unaware, is an evident reference to Warren Buffet’s infamous ante, in which the multi-billionaire claimed that an expansive group of hedge funds would outrun the S&P.
Speaking with CNBC on the relevance of this wager, which is more serious than it may seem, Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, co-founder of the crypto group, noted:
“This [bet] is a combination of our outlook not only for the upside of cryptocurrencies but also the outlook on public equities.”
This short, yet foreboding statement, which paints a dismal picture for the future of equities, underscores Morgan Creek’s imperishable allegiance to cryptocurrencies. Mark Yusko, the founder of the overarching Morgan Creek brand, recently took to CNBC Fast Money to claim that he “loves Bitcoin for the long-term,” adding that the monumental growth in exchange volumes only spotlights the overlooked fact that this industry continues to flourish.
Coinbase Adds Four Altcoins, Looks Into Adding 27 More
On Friday morning, to the chagrin of the so-called “Bitcoin maximalist” investor subset, San Francisco-based Coinbase announced that it would be “exploring” offering support for a list of 31 well-known and bonafide altcoin projects.
Explaining the reasoning behind this sudden move, which caught many investors off-guard and caused a great deal of community backlash, referenced its goal to “rapidly list” regulatory compliant digital assets surprisingly issued in September. The assets Coinbase intends to add include a number of community favorites, namely XRP, Augur (REP), Cardano (ADA), Tezos (XTZ) and Maker (MKR). The full list can be found through Coinbase’s public statement on the matter.
Just hours after the announcement, which came straight out of left field, Coinbase Pro, the startup’s exchange for professional traders, took to Twitter to announce that it would be adding Civic (CVC), district0x (DNT), Loom (LOOM), and Decentraland (MANA), four altcoins that were part of Coinbase’s list.
As it stands, fully-fledged trading hasn’t been activated for the four ERC-20 tokens, but Coinbase Pro expects to launch complete support for the assets within a few day’s time.

Inbound transfers for CVC, DNT, LOOM, and MANA are now available. Order books will be in transfer-only mode for a minimum of 48 hours. During this period, traders can move their funds into Coinbase Pro but cannot yet place or fill orders. https://t.co/7HV3b41hME
— Coinbase Pro (@CoinbasePro) December 7, 2018

As reported by NewsBTC following Coinbase’s decision to add the four altcoins, an unprecedented happenstance, the community erupted into a logical outrage, with a number of analysts lambasting the exchange for its penchant to assist “s*itcoins.” Airswap employee Rob Paone, better known by the handle “Crypto Bobby” to the cryptocurrency community, noted that Coinbase, who was previously hesitant to list a good majority of altcoins, went “YOLO in like six months,” evidently touching on the company’s unexpected shift in business practices.
Binance Sneak Peaks DEX Yet Again
For the umpteenth time in a matter of months, Binance, the world’s foremost crypto asset exchange, sneak peaked its most promising venture yet, the so-called “Binance Chain” and the decentralized exchange (DEX) that is based upon it.
Through the medium of a short video, an unnamed member of the Binance team outlined the latest edition of the Binance DEX demo, which sports a graphical user interface (GUI) that is reminiscent of the startup’s world-renowned centralized exchange.

The video outlined a number of pertinent features seen on any exchange, including issuing trade orders, which were surprisingly quick, account and wallet creation for the Binance Chain, and the in-house block explorer.
Crypto Tidbits

Grayscale Accumulates 1% Of All Circulating Bitcoin (BTC): Since Bitcoin’s earliest years, the Digital Currency Group (DCG), a consortium of world-renowned crypto startups, has been an industry juggernaut. And with a recent report from Diar, a leading crypto-centric research unit, it seems DCG has maintained this hegemony. Per publicly-available data, Grayscale Investments, the investment management arm of DCG, now owns 20,300 BTC for its in-house Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC). This jaw-dropping number of BTC amounts to more than 1% of the circulating supply of Bitcoin, and is valued at approximately $850 million. Seeing that much of Grayscale’s clientele are high-net-worth individuals and institutions, it would be fair to assume that copious amounts of “smart money” continue to flow into this space en-masse.
Ethereum Whales Continue To Buy Up ETH En-Masse: Just as Grayscale has continued to accumulate BTC for its clients, the whales of the Ethereum sea have continued to purchase their asset of choice — ETH. Per data compiled by Diar, the amount of ETH that Ethereum’s top 500 wallets have held has risen by 80%. To put this growth figure into perspective, on January 1st, whales kept 11 million Ether under lock and key, as of November 30th, the same group of users holds 20 million. This jaw-dropping sum amounts to nearly 20% of all Ether currently circulating, and $2.2 billion in U.S. dollar values, clearly indicating that whales are heavily betting on a market reversal.
Ethereum Classic (ETC) Development Team Folds: To say that 2018’s bear market has been rough would, frankly, be putting it lightly. The value of BTC has collapsed by 83%, while altcoins followed suit, posting losses that would make traders cringe and shudder. And sadly, with the market tumult affecting all industry participants, startups and organizations within this nascent ecosystem have suffered as well. The past week saw ETCDEV, a key development consortium rooting for Ethereum Classic (ETC), fold, announcing its closure due to funding constraints stemming from the falling market and in-company conflict. The announcement of ETCDEV’s fate comes just days after Steemit, ConsenSys, and Spankchain purged a number of their employees.
Nasdaq Enthusiastically Confirms Bitcoin Futures Plans: As reported in NewsBTC’s last Week In Review, rumors suggested that Nasdaq, one of the world’s foremost financial markets, was in the midst of development on a Bitcoin (BTC) futures vehicle. While the financial instrument was briefly mentioned by Gabor Gurbacs, digital asset strategist at VanEck, this week, Nasdaq’s head of media relations spoke with a leading U.K. tabloid in the matter. In a statement conveyed to Express U.K., the Nasdaq spokesman, Joseph Christinat, enthusiastically verified the rumors, claiming that his firm’s Bitcoin foray is slated for a launch in Q1/Q2 2019, before adding the vehicle is awaiting approval from the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Although skeptics are adamant that the CFTC won’t give its blessing to the proposed vehicle, as made apparent with the introduction of CME’s and CBOE’s Bitcoin futures, this shouldn’t be a valid qualm. Christinat, accentuating Nasdaq’s enamorment with crypto assets, noted that Nasdaq first entered into the blockchain realm in 2013, which was when the now decade-old innovation “first popped up” and “leaned out of the window.” In closing, the company spokesperson explained that as Nasdaq has “put a hell of a lot of money and energy” into the vehicle, it would be remiss to cast aside its efforts due to the bear market.

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Institutional Investors Still Interested? Bitwise Releases Bitcoin and Ethereum Funds

The creator of the world’s first cryptocurrency index fund has launched two liquid beta funds holding bitcoin and ether exclusively to address market demand. The Bitwise Bitcoin Fund and the Bitwise Ethereum Fund are available in two share classes, Institutional Shares and Investor Shares.
Bitwise Funds Open to Minimum Investment of $25,000 for Retail Investors and $1 Million for Institutionals
Bitwise Asset Management has broadened its fund family with the two new strategies which join the Bitwise 10 Private Index Fund. The Bitcoin and Ethereum funds are being promoted as a low cost alternative to current existing options which charge exit fees and other expenses.
Hunter Horsley, chief executive officer of Bitwise Asset Management, believes the 68 percent drawdown in bitcoin prices this year has given investors a unique opportunity to enter the market at very low prices.
“Though an ETF has not yet been approved, investors and advisors like the fund format because it’s professionally managed and simplifies access to best-in-class custody, trading, reporting, and tax preparation, and allows for the safe capture of events like hard forks and airdrops.”
The Bitcoin and Ethereum funds aim to capture the total returns available to bitcoin and ethereum investors, respectively, including hard forks and air drops. Bitwise holds the capital in cold storage with an institutional third-party custodian. The asset management firm offers an institutional offering, with an all-in expense ratio of 1.0% and a minimum investment of $1 million, and a retail offering, with an all-in expense ratio of 1.5% and a minimum investment of $25,000.
The cryptocurrency market has been down lately. Bitcoin trades below $4,000 and Ethereum lost the $100 handle. Matt Hougan, global head of research at Bitwise, says that institutional demand for bitcoin and ether funds is increasing, with some adding to their positions throughout the downturn and others using the opportunity to enter the market.
“With significant positive developments on the horizon, including the launch of the Bakkt bitcoin futures exchange from ICE, the launch of Fidelity Digital Assets, and the continued movement of institutional investors like Yale University and Stanford University into the crypto space, we have seen significant inbound demand for high-quality bitcoin and ether funds.”
The funds launched by Bitwise allow U.S.-accredited investors to come in and out of the fund weekly and charge no withdrawal or performance fees, or performance fees.
Bitwise is backed by a few leading names within the ecosystem, including Khosla Ventures,  Blockchain Capital, and Naval Ravikant. In late July 2018, chief executive Horsley told CNBC that the asset management firm was hopeful of launching its own cryptocurrency index ETF. The company filed a proposition to the SEC with that goal in mind. In that interview, Horsley added that his customers “like the index strategy” because they don’t get tied down to a single cryptocurrency.
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From $4,350 to $117: Is Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Entering Death Spiral?

The Bitcoin Cash price continues to record new yearly lows, currently trading within its fifth consecutive session in the red.
The BCH/USD rate has dropped below $120 in the latest sell-off, noting more than 97% depreciation since its all-time high.
Since November 7, when the pair was trading at $638, it has tanked more than 81% in value. In comparison to other cryptocurrencies that also established their yearly lows recently, the price plunge in the Bitcoin Cash market is more severe.
Source: CoinMarketCap.com
Collateral Damage
The reason why investors are finding it difficult to hold onto their Bitcoin Cash is lack of confidence in the Roger Ver-led team.
Following months of discussions over the future of the Bitcoin Cash project, the community decided to split the blockchain to upgrade its core protocol.
There was also a section led by nChain founder Dr. Craig Wright and online gambling billionaire Calvin Ayre that revolted against Ver’s Bitcoin Cash upgrade plans. They decided not to support the hard fork and announced that they would launch their separate Bitcoin Cash chain.
On November 15, the Bitcoin Cash blockchain forked to give birth to two competing chains: Ver’s Bitcoin ABC and Dr. Wright’s Bitcoin SV. The split didn’t go peacefully, however.
Both of the groups waged a so-called hash war against each other to claim the original BCH ticker. In a hard fork, a community votes with hash power. The chain which receives the maximum hash power from the mining community becomes the longest chain among the two resulting chains.
In their efforts to prove dominance, both Ver and Dr. Wright arranged surplus electricity to mine on their respective chains. In the initial stages, both of the sides were dealing with half a million worth of losses in power consumption. By November 21, Bitcoin SV, in particular, had raked in losses of $2.2 million.
The entire episode damaged the rest of the crypto market, especially Bitcoin whose hashing power was unilaterally allocated to the Bitcoin ABC blockchain.
While ABC emerged as a winner over the competing SV chain, even a combined Bitcoin Cash-ABC cap couldn’t recover from the damages their markets had faced. Investors who left Bitcoin Cash are showing no interest in coming back to it, while Bitcoin’s dominance in the crypto market is going up at the same time.
Related Reading: Barry Silbert: Bitcoin Cash Fork Is a Distraction, Confusing for New Investors
What’s Next for Bitcoin Cash?
The Bitcoin Cash market is now moving into a bottomless abyss – a kind of death spiral – with no signs of investment confidence improving.
To say it will be dead would be too much, for Ver and his team would not see their billion dollar project turn to ashes. The market would need an aggressive bull whale to buy in at new dips to revive good confidence. Ver, in one of his press statements, looked bullish despite the negative turnover.
“As a self-proclaimed fundamentals investor, I believe that the long-term the future is brighter than ever for cryptocurrencies,” he told Bloomberg. “There is more awareness, more adoption, and more stuff happening all over the world.”
If only promises could comfort!
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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Report: Crypto Market To Consist Of 66% Bitcoin in 2019

Bitcoin has long been at the forefront of the crypto market, dominating this 10-year old industry with an iron fist and no holds barred. While it maintained its unquestioned hegemony over the cryptosphere for nearly a decade, as 2017 began, it became clear that something was amok. More specifically, in an industry first, altcoins began to drastically gain in terms of market dominance.
By the end of April 2017, altcoins made up 40% of crypto’s entire market capitalization, up from the 12% seen in January. And just eight months later, at the peak of the so-called “Crypto Bubble,” altcoins held 66% dominance over the crypto market, which, in turn, sent Bitcoin’s share to a measly 33%. At this point, some “altcoin maximalists,” known for their use of buzzwords to laud assets, claimed it was all over for Bitcoin, which was chided as an antiquated blockchain with little-to-zero use cases.
Related Reading: Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary Sees Ethereum Beating Bitcoin and Gaining Dominance
However, the original cryptocurrency’s fortunes took a relative turn for the better in early-2018, with altcoins showing signs of weakness after months of non-stop up-and-up. Now, just eleven months after Bitcoin market dominance, the first figure from the right on CoinMarketCap, hit an all-time low at the aforementioned 33%, the figure has stabilized in the 52% to 55% range.
A.T. Kearney Expects Bitcoin To “Reclaim” Two-Thirds Of Crypto Market Cap
Although noise regarding the Bitcoin’s dramatic tumult has recently begun to block out discussion regarding market dominance, a chief fundamental indicator, a recent piece from Forbes indicates the subject remains a hot topic in some circles.
Forbes contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas, whose work NewsBTC has covered in the past, noted that A.T. Kearney, a multinational management consulting firm, expects for Bitcoin market dominance to “nearly” reach two-thirds of the aggregate capitalization of cryptocurrencies. Citing reasons for this ~66% target, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, the American firm purportedly stated that altcoins have “lost their luster” due to growing risk aversion tactics enlisted by retail investors.
Investors’ growing penchant for liquidating their altcoin positions for Bitcoin can potentially be chalked up to the U.S. SEC’s renewed crackdown on ICO-funded tokens. Just recently, the American financial regulator fined AirFox and Paragon, two lesser-known ICOs, in a precedent-setting case, instilling fear throughout the crypto investor base as a whole. As is common practice, if there aren’t enough rewards to justify the risk, investors won’t allocate capital to the asset class in question. This case with altcoins, a majority of which were parented by ICOs, is undoubtedly no different.
However, A.T. Kearney says this isn’t exactly the case, with the firm drawing attention to the ever-growing complexity of the nascent altcoin subset. Courtney Rickert McCaffrey at A.T. Kearney wrote:
“Our prediction is that Bitcoin will regain its dominance is supported by the ever-growing complexity among altcoins, most recently demonstrated by the ‘hash war’ that occurred in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem.”
Although this isn’t a well-documented issue, a number of crypto-centric consumers took to Twitter during Bitcoin Cash’s hard fork to express how confusing the whole fracas was. This, of course, only legitimizes the aforementioned firm’s report, albeit only be a smidgen.
A.T. Kearney isn’t alone in touting this train of thought. As reported by NewsBTC in early-August, when Bitcoin market dominance forayed above 50% for the first time in nine months, Tom Lee, head of research of Fundstrat, claimed that investors have decided “Bitcoin is the best house in a tough neighborhood.” He added that with the SEC’s classification of BTC as a commodity, and the focus institutions have placed on Bitcoin in mind, the asset’s return to higher dominance levels is rationalized.
Lee’s comments, issued in August, came just 10 days after Mike Novogratz, CEO of Galaxy Digital, claimed that he didn’t expect for “BTC dominance to pull back any time soon,” also drawing attention to institutional-focused products centered around Bitcoin.

I don’t see $btc dominance pulling back any time soon. Lots of cool institutional projects coming and most will start with bitcoin. Stay long.
— Michael Novogratz (@novogratz) July 31, 2018

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Study: Pump and Dump Schemes have Negligible Effect on Crypto Markets

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has revealed that machine learning can identify crypto pump and dump schemes before they happen. It arrived at a figure generated by fraudulent trading which is a tiny fraction of the total trade volume.
$7 Million Monthly Volume From Pump and Dumps
The study went on to reveal that there are at least two pump and dump schemes per day which generate $7 million in trade volume per month. NewsBTC’s daily crypto market wrap often identifies a random altcoin that is pumping for no apparent reason. However, in the grand scheme of things this figure is negligible when compared to a daily trade volume of around $15 billion.
In February the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a specific warning about these types of scam, and regulators have begun to actively pursue the perpetrators. According to the regulator these schemes are considered as securities fraud. Research carried out at Imperial College London looked into pump and dump schemes in detail in order to develop an algorithm that can detect them.
The report highlights how pump and dumps are orchestrated as the organizer quietly accumulates an obscure altcoin before announcing a pump is about to begin on social media. Once the announcement, usually on Twitter or Telegram, has been made traders load up buy orders and the price begins to spike. The organizer then sells off his stash as the pump reaches a peak resulting in a dump back to previous levels.
As an example the researchers studied a single pump and dump scheme that occurred on November 18. The Official McAfee Pump Signals channel with over 12,000 members was monitored to glean details on the scheme. The chosen altcoin was BVB, worth around 35 satoshis at the time.
“We notice that the first buy order was placed and completed within 1 second after the first coin announcement. After a mere 18 seconds of a manic buying wave, the coin price already skyrocketed to its peak,” said the researchers noting a peak of 115 sats.
The speed of the operation was key as anyone entering the trade after around 18 seconds would not have made a profit. This was just one example but the study noted 236 other pump-and-dump events that took place between July 21 and November 18. The researchers used the historical data from known pump and dumps to train a machine learning algorithm to identify signs that a one is about to occur.
Cyptocurrency scams are not likely to go away anytime soon so identifying and being aware of them is all part of the evolution of this ecosystem. A few people make a little money out of pump and dumps but the effect on the market as a whole is negligible.
Full study can be found here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1811.10109
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Crypto Lending Services Coming to Australian Markets

Despite the ongoing bear market of 2018 crypto startups are still entering the market with new and innovative products. Australians are about to get their first taste of crypto lending services as a new company launched into the markets this week.
Crypto Collateral Without Liquidation
Helio Lending is the first independent crypto lending company to launch on Australian shores according to reports. Founder and Managing Director, John O’Shea, said he was excited to be entering such an untapped market with a huge growth potential;
“Currently there are only two or three providers globally, and we are excited to offer such an exciting service acting as a direct lender, with a quick seamless process and exceptional customer service.”
The company claims to be in the position to offer 50% more spending power to clients than they would have by holding on to their crypto assets. O’Shea added “These assets may be held overseas or Australia, and we allow the funds to come back to AUS, USD, EUR and HKD to be used by our clients. We anticipate our clients will reinvest, buy goods and services and even start their own business through unlocking these assets.”
The principle of crypto lending allows holders of cryptocurrencies to access fiat funds without selling any of their digital assets. By using the blockchain to record transaction and settlement data removes counter party risk and provides immutability for clients that wish to use cryptocurrencies as collateral without liquidating them.
Helio will be working with approved digital currencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and XRP. Crypto wallet management and liquidity clearing will be provided by ETHlend which has become the Asia Pacific partner for the venture.
“We are excited by the opportunity to partner with Helio Lending and already have enquires streaming in from the regional Helio opportunity, it will be great to now have a local presence to service our clients,” added Stani Kulechov, chief executive and founder of ETHlend
Australia is still very open to crypto and reports indicate that cryptocurrency holdings within the country have tripled during 2018. The survey also revealed that 80% of respondents said they would be open to using crypto for daily purchases on the condition that it was as easy to use as AUD.
The good news for Helio is that crypto is gathering pace in Australia quicker than elsewhere. RealRenta is a good example with their cryptocurrency token, House Coin, due for launch in 2019. It aims to give everyday Australians a better and more affordable way to invest in property by tokenizing it.
 
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Taking Social Trading to the Next Level: NAGA Integrates Binance

BNB can now be used for trading over 800 financial instruments on NAGA Trader.
NAGA, a $100M+ market cap German fintech company, publicly listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, has announced the integration of Binance Coin – a token introduced by one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world – Binance.
The new integration means Binance Coin (BNB) holders can now invest in over 800 financial instruments, from equities, cryptocurrencies, Forex, ETF CFDs, to gaming items through NAGA’s social trading platform, NAGA Trader, available for iOS, Android and Desktop PC.
NAGA Trader, the driving force of NAGA’s giant financial ecosystem, built within less than 2 years of the company’s presence on the market, is used by more than 500,000 traders worldwide.
The fuller NAGA Universe is made up of NAGA Wallet, NAGA Exchange, NAGA Virtual, NAGA Academy, and CYBO, its own AI-based robotic advisor. On top of this, there is also the ability to use the NAGA Card — a contactless Mastercard powered by the NAGA ecosystem — and the company’s own cryptocurrency NAGA Coin, serving as a utility token for all of NAGA’s products and services.
Now that BNB has been integrated into the NAGA Ecosystem, BNB investors will be able to use NAGA Wallet to withdraw and deposit their BNB funds, as well as fund their NAGA Trader Live accounts with BNB. Moreover, making strategic investments in curated Portfolios will also be an option for BNB holders.
The platform will enable BNB/USD and BNB/EUR trading pairs, and users will have a chance to earn Copy Bonuses in BNB, as well as set up CYBO, an AI-powered robo-advisor for smart, cold-minded trading through their BNB account.
Benjamin Bilski, NAGA’s Founder & Managing Director, commented on this event:
“We are pleased to integrate Binance Coin and help the global cryptocurrency adoption. From day one, NAGA has set our vision to offer a versatile financial ecosystem that makes personal banking, stock trading, asset management and cryptocurrency investing accessible for everyone. Our platform is built to create synergy and we are proud that BNB holders will be able to participate in the stock markets without the need to sell their precious BNBs for fiat money”.
Binance has prepared a BNB Usage Page, where potential users can read about all the ways they can make use of BNB, and NAGA Trader will soon be one of the featured products there: https://www.binance.com/en/use-bnb
NAGA welcomes all BNB Token holders to its platform from today onwards to start trading the global financial markets.
If you are new to NAGA, here is a quick guide on how to open your first trade on NAGA Trader:

Sign up here and create a trading account with BNB as a base currency.
Deposit BNB to your NAGA Wallet.
Transfer BNB to your BNB trading account.
Choose your desired market and open the trade!

Open your NAGA Trader account, here.
NGC can be bought and traded on Bittrex, NAGA Exchange, and other major crypto exchanges.

NAGA Trader is available on iOS, Android, and as desktop version.
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CEO of Crypto Firm Quoine Says Bitcoin Will “Surpass” All-Time High by End of 2019

Over the past year, the cryptocurrency industry has bore witness to many claims from “experts” who said that the price of Bitcoin would skyrocket to never-before-seen prices by the end of 2018, with estimates ranging from conservative ones of $15,000, to more liberal ones of $50,000.
Because the markets have failed to adhere to these estimates and are presently trading just a hair above their year-to-date lows, industry experts are now setting their sights for the end of 2019, with Mike Kayamori, the CEO of Quoine, telling Bloomberg that he expects Bitcoin’s price to surpass its all-time high of nearly $20,000 by the end of next year.
November proved to be one of the worst months of 2018, with Bitcoin’s price falling to lows of $3,800, from which it has stabilized around its current price of approximately $4,000.
Despite this, Kayamori noted that he believes the bottom is near for Bitcoin and the markets in general, and importantly added that nobody really knows how the markets are going to act over any given period of time.
As for his vision for the months ahead, Kayamori told the interviewer that he expects December to be a lack-luster month for the markets due to there not being any catalysts to increase Bitcoin’s price.
“Right now, there’s nothing new, there’s no catalyst that would potentially shoot it [BTC] up, so I’d look at it kind of flat.” He further added that he believes the markets will build some upwards momentum sometime in the new year, stemming from renewed market sentiment.
Furthermore, he noted that unfolding regulations in Asia, and Japan in particular, may ultimately have a positive impact on the markets, as they will help to prevent hacks and mismanagement from occurring within cryptocurrency exchanges in the future.
The Quoine CEO also added that starting in the new year, exchanges will begin adhering to their improvement orders from regulatory authorities, which will ensure an all-around better experience for cryptocurrency investors.
Related Reading: Bitcoin Holds Steady Around $4,000, Cost of Mining Continues to Drop
Despite Positive Developments, Bitcoin Still Performing Poorly
At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading up 2.2% at its current price of just under $4,000. Although Bitcoin appears to have found some stability at its current price point, it has failed to gain any serious momentum since setting its year-to-date lows of $3,600.
Many investors and industry insiders, Kayamori included, are surprised that the markets haven’t seen any positive price action so far in the final months of 2018. This despite the fact that there are multiple positive developments occurring in the industry, like the entrance of institutional players into the markets, including crypto platforms and products from companies including Fidelity and the ICE-backed exchange, Bakkt.
Kayamori concluded the interview on a hopeful, yet cautious, note, saying that he expects Bitcoin to surpass its all-time-high by the “end of next year.”
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Coinbase and PayPal – A Match Made in Crypto Heaven?

Crypto exchange giant Coinbase usually blows its own trumpet when a new option is available on its trading platform. This has not been the case however with the recent addition of PayPal as an option to withdraw fiat for a small number of its customers.
There has been no official announcement however the company FAQ page has been updated with the following notice:
“Beginning in November, Coinbase will add the ability for customers to link their PayPal and Coinbase accounts. Depending on country of residence, customers can either withdraw cash to PayPal or sell their crypto to their PayPal account.”
Currently the countries of residence are reportedly limited to the US, UK, EU and Canada but at the time of writing the PayPal option was not available via the UK portal when we tried to link an account as confirmed by the Coinbase support chatbot.

The announcement goes on to state;
“Currently, customers are only able to use PayPal to withdraw or sell, and transaction availability depends on region. Coinbase does not support the ability to purchase digital currency using your PayPal account.” It also states that all of the regular KYC requirements must be satisfied before the PayPal option is made available.
Varying reports are filtering down the Coinbase Reddit stream from users that have tried withdrawing to PayPal. Some are claiming it takes 13 days to transfer out, others stating that it doesn’t work for Canadians yet, and our own experience of failure from the UK portal indicates that there is probably a reason Coinbase has kept this quiet.
PayPal’s Excessive Fees Are Another Case For Crypto
Whether the option is available or not, PayPal is hardly a bastion of decentralized finance. It does not adhere to any global banking regulations and can freeze or close accounts at its whim – which appears to be the source of the highest number of complaints from its users.
In addition to the vice-like grip of control over it maintains over customer finances and accounts, PayPal has some of the highest foreign exchange fees in the industry. Converting currencies can cost as much as 5% if you do it via PayPal. That is a cost of $50 to send $1000 if converting to or from another currency. This is evidently how the company has made over $13 billion profit in 2017.
In addition to excessive forex fees, and waiting times of up to a week for bank withdrawals, PayPal is constantly increasing its base fees which are often much higher than high street banks. This will eventually send users to crypto where transfers are virtually instant and cost a fraction.
PayPal is the antichrist when it comes to cryptocurrencies and the entire model of decentralized peer-to-peer finance. Coinbase also gets its fair share of complaints about higher than industry average fees, and rather zealous account controls. In this scenario it appears to be modeling itself as the PayPal of the crypto world.
 
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Crypto Bear Market Strikes: Ethereum Classic (ETC) Development Group Folds

While crypto’s unbridled optimists have done their best to keep this market afloat, incessantly imploring Bitcoin investors to “HODL” and “BUIDL,” their cries haven’t stopped a key Ethereum Classic development group from unfortunately capitulating.
Ethereum Classic Ecosystem Loses Key Player Amid Market Tumult
After a multi-month downturn in the cryptocurrency world, which has seen $700 billion evaporate from this industry’s market value, ETCDEV, an essential player in the Ethereum Classic ecosystem, has announced its closure on December 3rd, 2018. For those who aren’t in the loop, ETCDEV is an Ethereum-centric development group launched two and a half years ago, whose creation was catalyzed by the DAO debacle of 2016.
Since the organization came into being, it rapidly became the face of the Ethereum Classic development community, lauded for its penchant for technological revolution and its ability to innovate.  But now, as aforementioned, the organization has had to fold, purportedly due to funding constraints.
Through a tweet, Igor Artamonov, the founder and chief technology officer of ETVDEV, wrote:

Unfortunately ETCDEV cannot continue to work in the current situation and has to announce shutdown of our current activities pic.twitter.com/N6xWnpBNJJ
— ETCDEV (@etcdev) December 3, 2018

Although the ETCDEV executive cited a lack of sustainable financing, this message comes just days after Artamonov released a Medium article lambasting one of his peers for being a “Trojan Horse” for another team. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that Ethereum Classic remains heavily wounded after this occurrence, as the project lost its primary development team.
Since the disheartening announcement from the experienced development consortium, ETC has fallen by 9.40% to $4.61 a pop, under-performing BTC by 5.7%.
Upon the advent of the rapid sell-off, deemed irrational by some, yet backed by $190 million in 24-hour volumes, the official Twitter page of the Ethereum predecessor quickly took to its brainchild’s side. Through a message of support, evidently issued to calm the nerves of perturbed ETC investors, the team made it apparent that ETCDEV isn’t the entire project. Instead, it was noted that Ethereum Classic is a consortium of like-minded innovators and teams, such as IOHK, ETC Co-op, “and a litany of volunteers.”
Aggregating its underlying bullish sentiment into a single statement, the show-runners behind the @eth_classic handle simply wrote, “keep calm, and build on.”
Crypto Bear Market Qualms
This recent announcement comes just days after Steemit, the company behind the (somewhat) decentralized social media platform that shares its name, revealed it was undergoing a business reorganization, purging 70% of its employees.
Related Reading: Steemit Announces Structural Reorganization, Laying off 70% of Employees
Ned Scott, CEO of Steemit, said on the matter:
“While we were building up our team over the last months, we had been relying on projections of basically a higher bottom for the market… Since that’s no longer there we’ve been forced to lay off more than 70% of our organization.”
He explained that as Steemit’s top brass met, amid worsening market conditions, it became logical that a staff restructuring at the private startup was necessary. Interestingly, Scott failed to divulge an exact headcount pre- and post-purge, making it difficult to discern how many were affected.
SpankChain, an adult entertainment platform centered around blockchain, recently saw its CEO take to Reddit to announce that it, as well as Steemit, had downsized drastically. The project head noted that the SpankChain project hired eight individuals, and has reduced its burn rate from $200,000 to $80,000 per month.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom, as not all crypto-related organizations and startups have been subject to the financial pressure caused by the unpredictable cryptocurrency market.
As reported by BreakerMag, Ethereum pioneer Joseph Lubin, who can be likened to the Sergey Brin (Google co-founder) of the blockchain industry, recently distributed an uplifting note to all employees at ConsenSys, often defined as the Google of this innovative sector. In the letter, authored by the passionate Canadian technology entrepreneur, it was noted that in spite of the market sell-off, ConsenSys remains poised to “succeed wildly,” with a potential to usurp the traditional facets of society. Lubin wrote:
“[Blockchain is] a technology and an ethos that many of us believe will profoundly reshape human society over time… We now find ourselves occupying a very competitive universe, [and have the ability to] succeed wildly. [But,] we must recognize that what got us here will probably not get us there, wherever ‘there’ is.”
In a testament to Lubin’s undying belief in this decade-old technology, ConsenSys itself, primarily consisting of a handful of distributed subsidiaries, has reportedly hired upwards of 550 employees. BreakerMag has divulged that the startup’s rapid expansion can be primarily attributed to Lubin’s Ether coffers, which are reported to hold millions upon millions of ETH. And despite the downturn, it appears his stash isn’t even close to depletion.
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Swiss FinTech License Allows Public Deposits of Up to 100m Francs for Blockchain Startups

The Swiss financial watchdog has published the guidelines for the FinTech license which allows companies to receive public deposits of up to 100 million Swiss Francs. The revised Banking Act, designed to promote innovation, has also opened doors to crowd-lending businesses within the regulatory sandbox.
Swiss Regulator Announces License With Relaxed Requirements for FinTech Startups
The Federal Council of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, the country’s financial regulator, is going forward with the goal of promoting innovation in the financial sector and to remove barriers to market entry for fintech firms. The extension of the holding period for settlement accounts and a regulatory sandbox have already come into force on 1 August 2017.
The third measure, “a new authorization category with simplified requirements in the Banking Act”, will come into force on 1 January 2019. FINMA, which is responsible for granting the FinTech license, will supervise firms subject to the relaxed requirements, said the official statement. 
“With the new measure, companies with special authorisation can accept public funds of up to CHF 100 million from 1 January 2019, provided they neither invest nor pay interest on these funds.”
Blockchain-related startups are welcome to apply for the FinTech license. After receiving the application, the regulator will get in touch and indicate which FINMA staff member is responsible for the procedure. The complexity of the project and the quality of the application may determine the duration of the procedure.
The regulator also welcomes firms to present their project during a meeting prior to submitting the application. The FinTech license, which was introduced by the Swiss parliament, requires licensees to have their registered office and conduct its business activities in Switzerland.
In addition to the announced FinTech license, FINMA has announced that the recent amendments to the Banking Ordinance (BankO) have included crowd-lending businesses to the sandbox, which will only come into force on 1 April 2019.
“In the BankO, the sandbox will additionally be extended to include crowdlending business models, whereby public funds up to a total amount of CHF 1 million can one day be brokered not only for commercial and industrial purposes but also for private consumption.”
The Swiss authorities have started to work on drafting the rules for the FinTech license two years ago. The Swiss government intended to ease regulatory guidelines to ease the entry of new providers of financial technologies and services. The country wanted to be among the leaders of fintech innovation.
The FinTech license, which is much easier to obtain compared to its traditional counterpart, eyes startups offering deposit services provided they neither invest nor pay interest on these funds. Switzerland enjoys the status of ‘crypto haven‘ among the crypto community. Many startups within the ecosystem have set up their offices there, namely in Zug. The new FinTech license will serve as another reason to set up shop in the country.
 
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Legendary Venture Capitalist: “We’re Close to a Crypto Nuclear Winter”

It’s no secret that 2018 has proven to be a rough year for the cryptocurrency markets, which have seen their market capitalization plummet from highs of over $800 million in January of 2018 to recently established yearly lows of under $120 billion.
The poor market performance, which can be attributed to little more than a boom-and-bust market cycle, has left many investors wondering when the markets will recover, and looking towards upcoming platforms and products being offered by major players in the world of finance, including an institutional investment platform from Fidelity, and a Bitcoin product from the ICE-backed company, Bakkt.
Despite there being positive developments occuring, one legendary investor warns that the cryptocurrency markets may be entering into a “nuclear winter,” while also noting that the technology is exciting and that it does have an exciting future.
The comments were made by Jim Breyer, a billionaire investor who has board seats in notable companies, including Dell, Blackstone, and Walmart, during Fortune’s 2018 Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou, China.
During the final keynote session of the event, Breyer, who is vocal about his bullishness on blockchain technology, said that he continues to be “very interested” in cryptocurrency and DLT-based companies, but further added that “we are close to a nuclear winter right now with cryptocurrency.”
Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is currently nearing its recently established 2018 lows of $3,600 and is currently trading down 80% from its late-2017 highs of nearly $20,000. Bitcoin’s poor market performance has led the altcoins markets into a downwards spiral that has sent many of their prices into territories not seen since early-to-mid 2017.
Related Reading: Mike Novogratz Expects Crypto Market Turnaround, Adoption in 2019
Not the First Cryptocurrency Winter 
Breyer importantly added that the current crypto slump isn’t unprecedented, and these type of cyclical pricing patterns are seen in most emerging tech markets, including the artificial intelligence (AI) industry and the internet, which saw a major bubble form and burst in the late 90s and early-2000s
Breyer made a huge portion of his wealth by investing in nascent markets, as he placed a massive, and risky, bet on Facebook in 2005 when the company was in its infancy. Ultimately, this bet was worth billions of dollars and allowed Breyer to form his own investment firm, aptly named Breyer Capital, in 2013.
While speaking about the predictability of boom and bust cycles in nascent industries, Breyer noted that “these cycles keep happening every decade or so,” and further added that this type of seasonality is “inevitable.”
Furthermore, he also said that blockchain technology, which underpins cryptocurrencies, is being investigated and implemented by some of the biggest names in technology, with some of the best and brightest computer science minds devoting their knowledge and skill to advancing the technology.
“So many of the very best computer scientists and deep learning PhD students and post-docs are working on blockchain because they have so much fundamental interest in what blockchain can mean… You don’t want to bet against the best and brightest in the world.”
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