CME Bitcoin Futures See Record Volumes, Crucial Signal For Rising Institutional Demand

This week saw the highest ever volume for Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as volume exceeded 18,000. The big signal is that institutional investors are paying attention as futures contracts get snapped up at an ever-increasing rate.
Record BTC Contract Volumes on CME
According to stats from the CME there were 18,338 on Wednesday, the highest figure ever recorded. This is equivalent to 91,690 Bitcoins or roughly $365 million at today’s prices.
Source: CME
Futures contracts enable speculators to bet on the prices rather than purchasing the physical assets themselves so these figures may be a little misleading. What they do indicate however is that there is a lot more interest in crypto futures now than ever before.
When new products that offer physically settled contracts hit the market, they will be paying out in BTC which will drive massive momentum for crypto markets. Over the past year or so the anticipation of a crypto exchange traded fund (ETF) being launched has dominated the news. 2018 has been the year of regulation and cooling off which was only to be expected after the previous year of rampant FOMO and parabolic market action.
This year will be different and many industry experts predict the launch of at least one institutional investment vehicle. Bakkt is the primary candidate but it has been in a holding pattern with a few others while US regulators finally wake up from their month-long imposed vacation.
According to The Block European exchange giant, Eurex, is gearing up to launch crypto futures so the list of institutional offerings is growing rapidly. The derivatives exchange operated by Germany’s Deutsche Börse will be offering Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP imminently according to the report.
Exchange Traded Funds are The Future
In addition to these future products, there is already one type of ETF that is actually traded through an ETN (exchange traded note) which allows investors to get direct exposure to Bitcoin prices. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) bypasses the technicalities of buying and storing Bitcoin but still allows investors to get in on the action by buying shares that trade at around a thousandth of the price of BTC, so a few dollars instead of thousands.
GBTC has been wildly popular with over $800 million already invested in the Bitcoin fund:

2/21/19 UPDATE: Holdings per share and net assets under management for our investment products
Total AUM: $872.1 million$BTC $BCH $ETH $ETC $ZEN $LTC $XLM $XRP $ZEC pic.twitter.com/tzQxkd7ilX
— Grayscale (@GrayscaleInvest) February 21, 2019

In addition to BTC are 8 other crypto assets but clearly, Bitcoin is the most popular. The fund eliminates the volatility of buying and owning Bitcoin directly which is something that institutions want, slow and steady wins the race. The outlook for 2019 is currently taking shape and the institutions are already involved. Buckle up and get ready for the ride!
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Counter Argument: Why Bitcoin is Unlikely to Record Large Upside Movement in Near-Term

The recent crypto rally has reignited hopes of a larger trend reversal and a melting of the ice from the crypto winter. Price predictions from technical analysis and industry observers are all  to go on and several are of the opinion that Bitcoin is about to pull back.
Fibonacci Levels Critical For Bitcoin
Over the past five days, Bitcoin has bounced off resistance at $4,000 several times since it rallied on Monday.
It has surpassed it a couple of times hitting around $4,020 but dropped back equally as quick to below this crucial level. At the time of writing BTC is trading at $3,970, a price it has hung around since Tuesday.
After hitting a daily volume level of $10 billion, the highest it has been for over nine months, it has slowly fallen back to around $7.5 billion indicating a cooling off has started.
Bitcoin price and volume over past 7 days from Coinmarketcap.com
The longer BTC behaves like this the less likely an upside breakout will occur.
Technical analyst and crypto proponent ‘filbfilb’ has posted his expectations that Bitcoin will fall back to Fibonacci levels first. In the short term this means BTC may drop to around $3,700 by the end of the month;

BTCUSD: 1 Day outlook – #BTCUSD chart https://t.co/dvXj5746U3
— fil₿fil₿ (@filbfilb) February 21, 2019

The next predicted movement is another rally back up to current levels during the first week of March. This point will be crucial, if Bitcoin can break out of the pennant on the second top then further momentum is expected as it pushes through the long standing $4,000 barrier.
The opposite will see it bounce off resistance again, falling back to the bottom of the symmetrical triangle at around $3,550 by late March.
This point will also be crucial as a lower break could see BTC drop to new lows and pull the rest of the market down with it.
200MA Coming Into Play?
Other analysts have predicted the current momentum to continue with an upwards limit of $4,200 before a correction occurs. This is where it hits the 200 moving average which has been the key resistance point for much of the bear market.
CNBC, which has been famous for wrongly predicting things, recently posted this which generated quite a response;

Bitcoin trading within inches of the $4,000 mark, but @jimiuorio says there could be a breakdown ahead pic.twitter.com/WRdoqnTwdk
— CNBC Futures Now (@CNBCFuturesNow) February 21, 2019

The general consensus is that a correction is coming and that is being reflected at the moment as cryptocurrencies are falling into the red again during the day’s Asian trading session.
Short term predictions such as these may be good for short term profit taking or avoiding losses but in the long term all the analysts and observers are in agreement and the only way is up.
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Crypto Market Wrap: What Caused VeChain to Make a Comeback as Markets Cool?

Crypto markets slowly starting to correct; VeChain and BNB going strong, Stellar, ADA and NEO dropping fastest.
Market Wrap
Yesterday’s minor movement did not last and crypto markets have fallen back a little as we end the week. The week-long rally looks like it is about to run out of steam as resistance is hit for the big cap cryptos. Total market capitalization has held though and is still above $134 billion for the time being.
Total market cap, 24 hours.
Yet again Bitcoin hit resistance at $4,000 and failed to break through. The longer this happens the less likely there will be a break to the upside. BTC is trading down marginally on yesterday’s levels but it still holding around $3,970 at the moment, volume is slowly shrinking however.
Ethereum is holding $147 for now but it too has failed to break resistance at $150 so further losses could be on the cards. XRP is falling back and has lost 2% on the day dropping it to $0.322. This has widened the gap between it and ETH to $2.1 billion.
The top ten is all red during Friday’s Asian trading session aside from Binance Coin which is back up again while others are falling. BNB has made over 3% on the day taking it to $10.90. The biggest drop in the top ten is Stellar losing 3% but remaining above Tron for now.
The top twenty is awash with red at the time of writing. Cardano and NEO are dropping the most with 4% losses each. The rest are dumping between 1 and 3 percent as markets correct from three days of buying pressure.
QASH has surged back into the top one hundred with a fomo pump of 33% but today’s surprise mover is VeChain which has made 12% over the past 24 hours. Daily volume has almost quadrupled from $5.7 million to almost $20 million, over half of it traded on Binance. The recent blockchain integration with Amazon Web Services appears to be driving momentum;

AWS services enable one-click VeChainThor Blockchain deployment for enterprises.
Original: https://t.co/qIWZVS9mbR
English: https://t.co/lBtB6T5vCZ
— VeChain Foundation (@vechainofficial) February 18, 2019

Total market capitalization has cooled off and settled at $134 billion, down 1.5% from yesterday’s levels. Daily volume continues to dwindle and is now $10 billion less that it was a couple of days ago at $25 billion. It has been a strong week for crypto markets which are still up 10% on the same time last week.
Market Wrap is a section that takes a daily look at the top 20 cryptocurrencies during the current trading session and analyses the best-performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals.
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Crypto Investor Who Shorted Ethereum at $700: Bottom is Far From Over, Here’s Why

It has been difficult not to get hopes up when crypto markets surge by over 20% in a couple of weeks. What should be remembered though is that the asset class is still in the midst of a bear market that has lasted for over a year.
One hedge fund partner, who has been known for shorting, still thinks there is further to go before markets hit the bottom.
Ethereum Momentum Slow, Devs Jumping Ship
Alex Sunnarborg, founding partner of Tetras Capital, a New York City based cryptocurrency hedge fund, spoke to Forbes recently about the firm’s investment strategies and where he sees markets going next.
The company is estimated to have $30 million in assets under management. It shorted Ethereum in May when it was trading at around $700, which Sunnarborg admits was the firm’s biggest win for 2018.
Total market cap – 6 months
When asked where the bottom is for Ether he replied that fundamentals do not have that much impact because the assets trade so much relative to each other. Basically, Ethereum will follow what Bitcoin does, a pattern which we have all seen play out over the past couple of years.
He added that the ConsenSys downsizing news was bad for ETH as it is an integral piece of the Ethereum ecosystem. “There’s this massive disconnect between how much money is still tied up in these projects and how much people actually use them,” he added.
Ethereum dApps have had minimal uptake and rival platforms EOS and Tron are now getting the lion’s share of users. This will cause developers to jump ship to other platforms which would cause a ‘drop in momentum and steam’.
Not Confident on Bitcoin Yet
When asked the crucial question on whether Bitcoin has bottomed yet Sunnarborg replied;
“I don’t think so, and I think calling that is very difficult. That’s part of the reason I’m really thankful that we’re in the position we are right now. We can hedge ourselves, remain more neutral and not have to call that exact price or timing bottom. I’m not confident right now.”
The interviewer asked about what the firm was bullish and supportive of. Aside from being a Bitcoin proponent, he added that Mimblewimble and Grin are interesting along with Zcash and Monero.
Obviously, not a fan of EOS and alluding to its centralization he added; “The one-year long, $4 billion-dollar ICO seems a little excessive to me. The whole governance system, with 21 block producers that can essentially make, vote, or deny everything, is a weird concept to me.”
Back to the bottoms, he said that bad news is needed to cause the landslide and this is likely to come from the US SEC. Once all the bad actors and dodgy ICOs get washed out, the volume and price manipulation is quashed, and a few big name products get launched then the only way is up.
Noted crypto analysts are also of the opinion that this rally won’t last.

This is a suckers rally which will lead to more downside $btc
— fil₿fil₿ (@filbfilb) February 20, 2019

The $25 billion rally has been enjoyed by many, however, to put things into perspective, markets are still half of what they were worth on August 1 when market cap was $270 billion and falling.
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Litecoin Outperforms Top Crypto Assets Again, What Could Breakout of Crucial $50 Level Lead to?

Litecoin has become the darling of the cryptocurrencies again as it out performs the majority of the top coins including its big brother, Bitcoin. Breaking a psychological resistance level of $50 a few hours ago, Litecoin is one of the day’s best performing crypto assets once again. The question is, how far can it go this time?
Litecoin Lifted During Asian Trading
Over the past 24 hours, LTC volume has surpassed $1.5 billion which is over double that of XRP two places ahead of it in the market cap charts. The momentum has taken its price from below $48 to just over $51 where it currently trades. This represents a 6.5% gain on the day which has taken Litecoin market cap back over $3 billion.
Source: Coinmarketcap.com
Since its mid-December low of $23, Litecoin has made a staggering 120% recovery to its current level. In comparison Bitcoin has only managed 24% recovery, but Ethereum has done better with around 75%. This is quite remarkable for an altcoin that everyone gave up one when creator, Charlie Lee, sold his stash at the peak. Granted, LTC is still a long way down from those lofty heights but a recovery of 120% in just two months is staggering for any crypto asset in the depths of a bear market.
Litecoin, often dubbed the ‘sliver’ to Bitcoin’s ‘gold’, has been a stalwart of the crypto world having hung around since its inception in 2011 when it was forked from Bitcoin to provide a ‘lighter’, faster version of the digital currency.  In 2017 Litecoin broke and stayed above $50 for around three months before it lifted off and surged 250% in just two weeks in December. Lee, as usual, has been talking it up;

Litecoin trying its best to lead all of cryptocurrencies out of this bear market. #UFC #MammothFilm #ConfidentialTransaction #MimbleWimble #LightningNetwork #Flappening pic.twitter.com/B4h6L2rsgl
— Charlie Lee [LTC] (@SatoshiLite) February 8, 2019

Where Next For Litecoin
This shows that Litecoin still has monumental potential when the fomo train gets going again. This time, however, is likely to be different though as investment will be slow and steady but $100 LTC this year does not seem that incredulous any longer considering its recent performance.
Traders, analysts and crypto tweeters have been observing the stellar performance of LTC recently;

Wow litecoin is breaking out! #ltc #litecoin #bitcoin #btc
FOMO time
We brok the 200ma, we broke 48 now it’s time to hit 50-75@tradingroomapp pic.twitter.com/pS4HBrfUw0
— Bitcoin Litecoin Master (@xtdisnkfe) February 18, 2019

Just like Bitcoin, Litecoin will also be halving and it will be happening much sooner, August 19 according to this counter. This reduces the block reward from 25 to 12.5 LTC and decreases the inflation rate by over half and reinforces its scarcity. This is an extremely bullish event for a cryptocurrency and according to Chinese media a local crypto mining pool called Poolin.com has found a WeChat group named “Litecoin Halving Warm-up” to attract LTC investors and miners. Cheap Litecoin has been hard to resist for those that have known it for the past 8 years.
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Crypto Market Wrap: EOS Spikes 16% in 48 Hours as Digital Assets Regain Momentum

Crypto markets marching upwards again; EOS and Litecoin leading the charge, BNB cools off. EOS up 16% from $3.3 to $3.83 in 48 hours.
Market Wrap
Momentum is gaining once again on crypto markets following a little cooling off yesterday. Most cryptocurrencies are in the green at the moment and total market capitalization has topped $135 billion for the first time in six weeks.
Bitcoin hit resistance again at $4,000 twice in the past day but it has not fallen back and is holding there at the time of writing. It is currently up 1.3% from yesterday’s minor correction but has failed to break this crucial level. The next move for BTC is likely to be a big one.
Ethereum has regained momentum and has moved up a further 3% on the day to reach $148. ETH remains well supported and the next resistance level is at $150. The gap to XRP is almost $2 billion again as the Ripple token makes minimal progress today.
The top ten is green once again and EOS is the day’s leader with a gain of 8% taking it to $3.90. Litecoin has also had a very strong few hours with 7% added increasing its market cap over $3 billion and breaking through a crucial psychological resistance level of $50. Stellar has also shifted gear today with a 6% rise as it pulls away from Tron.
EOS Surges 16%, Source: TradingView
The top twenty is equally buoyant during Asian trading today with everything bar Binance Coin in the green. Maker is yet again the top performer in this section with another 5.5% added on the day. Most other coins here are making 2-3 percent as the rally pushes slowly higher.
REPO and Crypto.com’s MCO token are getting a dose of FOMO at the moment as they both have risen by 20%. There are no big dumps currently but Revain is currently the top one hundred’s worst performer losing almost 5% on the day.
Source: Coinmarketcap.com
Total crypto market capitalization is still moving up and has retained momentum. It is currently 2.2% higher on the day as it pushes through a six week high of $136 billion. Daily volume has fallen back below $30 billion though but it has maintained strong levels. Since last Thursday markets have made over 12% and hopes are that this will continue.
Market Wrap is a section that takes a daily look at the top 20 cryptocurrencies during the current trading session and analyses the best-performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals.
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Short The Bankers: Another Major Bank Ordered Closed for Money Laundering

Danske Bank has been ordered to close up in Estonia following another money laundering scandal. It is not the first time a major bank has been involved in money laundering and it will not be the last, which is all good news for crypto.
One of the most commonly spouted reasons that crypto is bad is that criminals use it for money laundering. But the bottom line is the US dollar is still the currency of choice for washing money, and banks are the vehicle. As more bank scams get unraveled it gives them less legitimacy and more to crypto, the decentralized way to conduct finance.
Danske Bank Ordered to Close

According to the BBC the Tallinn branch of Danske Bank has been ordered to close by October 19. The bank is under investigation in Denmark, Estonia, Britain and the US over around 200 billion Euros in spurious payments from Russia, ex-Soviet states and other countries. A large portion of this funny money has been found flowing through the Estonian branch.
Interim chief executive Jesper Nielsen said that the bank would comply and close branches in other countries as well;
“We acknowledge that the serious case of possible money-laundering in Estonia has had a negative impact on Estonian society and finds it best that Danske Bank discontinues its Estonian banking activities,”
Estonia’s financial regulator demanded Danske close its local branch and repay customer deposits within eight months. Head of the regulatory body, Kilvar Kessler, added;
“We have every right to put an end, once and for all, to this, as large-scale violations of the local rules have been committed, and this has dealt a serious blow to the reputation of the Estonian financial market.”
Thomas Borgen, CEO of Danske Bank, resigned in September last year following allegations of money laundering involving sums larger than the entire crypto market capitalization at the time. It is not the only high profile bank to be accused of something that crypto adversaries keep reiterating. Last month Fortune reported that Deutsche Bank was facing increasing scrutiny in the US over money laundering concerns. Morgan Stanley was also fined recently for failing to properly detect money laundering.
Short The Bankers
The news is bad for banks, good for crypto. Respected industry personality and founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital Assets, Anthony Pompliano, agreed with the sentiment tweeting ‘short the bankers’ yesterday;

Estonia just ordered the Danske Bank branch to close that was involved in one of the largest money laundering schemes in history.
The majority of criminals aren’t using Bitcoin to launder money, they’re using US dollars.
Long Bitcoin, Short the Bankers!
— Pomp (@APompliano) February 19, 2019

Banks are the undisputed heavyweight champions of laundering money. So much so that Bloomberg went to the effort of creating an infographic earlier this month to highlight the estimated $2 trillion that gets washed through banks every year;

Money laundering transactions are still as high as $2 trillion a year https://t.co/QQ6lAKlUDL
— Bloomberg (@business) February 3, 2019

This just makes any accusation about crypto being a vehicle for money laundering with its paltry $130 billion market cap simply ridiculous.
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Binance Coin Controversy: Love it or Hate it BNB Keeps Climbing

As expected when a two day rally occurs on crypto markets there is the inevitable correction. Total market capitalization and daily volume has fallen back as day traders take profits and top performing crypto assets start to cool off and fall back. There are a couple however that are defying this much repeated market movement and continuing to climb at the moment.
Binance Coin Crushing the Competition
The crypto asset holding above the rest and continuing to surge at the time of writing is Binance Coin. In less than a week BNB has made and held an epic 30% climbing from less than $8.50 last week to $11 before dropping a little to today’s price just below it. On the day BNB is up 13.5% as it outshines every other altcoin in the top fifty.

Binance Coin: Which bear market?
New ATH while everybody else is scraping the bottom. Have to say I missed on this one, mostly because I was listening too much FUD. $BNB pic.twitter.com/eG5rEGzEWF
— johnyqi (@JohnyQi) February 19, 2019

Daily volume has surged from $80 million to over $134 million, most of that over the past 12 hours. With Binance being the top exchange it stands to reason that BNB would possibly act like a stablecoin when traders are taking profits. If their trades are taken in BNB pairs, its volume and price will increase when they’re pulling out of other coins, which is what has been happening over the past few hours. Some have tried to decipher the controversy surrounding BNB with lengthy tweets;

0/ There has been a lot of controversy and confusion around $BNB (Binance Coin) recently. This isn't unwarranted considering it doesn't look like traditional tokens/financial instruments. In this thread, I will attempt to elucidate
— Andrew Kang (@Rewkang) February 17, 2019

Not all are convinced about Binance Coin though with some observers calling it a ‘manipulated Ponzi scheme controlled by one man’ on twitter. Others are equally critical of BNB labeling it as a centralized security token;

Reminder that BNB is a centralized security token for an exchange that is actively breaking US laws. You also have to trust that binance is reporting their financials accurately.
BNB could become worthless without warning due to gov action, exit scam, fraud, or theft.
— Matt Odell (@matt_odell) February 13, 2019

Either way Binance Coin is one of today’s top performers and since the beginning of the year has made a staggering 83% gain.
Stellar Flips Tron Showing Small Gains
Stellar has been losing momentum for quite a while now as it slipped down the market cap charts. Today however it has regained a place, flipping Tron for eighth spot at the time of writing.

With a further 5% gained on the day XLM has reached $0.088 with a market cap of around $1.68 billion, enough to pass TRX which is currently on $1.65 billion as it loses 1.5% in the correction. Tron has enjoyed a lot of momentum recently and has been one of the top performing altcoins this year with a gain of over 30% since January first. Stellar on the other had has been in decline, losing 22% in the same period. Stellar has a strong dev team with a lot of project updates so the lack of momentum recently is a little perplexing.
Maker is the other crypto asset that has shown impressive gains in recent weeks, climbing a further 10% on the day and 23% since the same time last week.
Image from Shutterstock
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Crypto Market Wrap: A Few Survivors As Markets Correct

Market Wrap
Crypto markets starting to pullback; BNB, Maker and Stellar are keeping in the green, BCH, and Ethereum starting to slide.
Crypto markets have started to correct as expected after a two day buying bonanza. Volume and market capitalization has pulled back a little as traders start taking profits. The next few days will be crucial in determining if recent gains can hold.
Bitcoin hit resistance in an intraday high at $4,010 a few hours ago and, as predicted, pulled back to $3,940 where it currently trades. This is pretty much where BTC was yesterday after testing the same resistance level indicating further losses could be coming soon.
Ethereum, after a very strong rally, has dropped 3% on the day as it corrects. ETH is currently trading at $142 and the gap to third has decreased back to $1.6 billion. XRP has remained stable on the day and is still at $0.323.
In the top ten, Binance Coin is running away with it as a further 12% is added on the day. BNB touched $11 before falling back to $10.80 where it currently trades. The only other altcoin defying the pullback is Stellar which has made 4% enabling XLM to flip Tron for eighth place. The rest are in decline with Bitcoin Cash dropping the most at 4%, back to just above $140.
Most altcoins are also correcting in the top twenty during today’s Asian trading session. One making an opposite move is Maker which has had a lot of positive momentum lately. MKR has added a further 8% on the day moving ahead of NEO in sixteenth to trade at $620. Everything else is dropping a percent or two.
Storj has entered the top one hundred with a fomo driven pump of 15% at the time of writing. WAX is up and down like a yoyo, today pumping again with 13%. Binance Coin is the other top performer at the moment. There is only one double digit dump with REPO dropping 11% at the messy end of the table. ODEM is also having a bad day with a 9% dump.

Total crypto market capitalization is holding above $130 billion but falling back slowly. After hitting a peak of $136 billion markets are now in decline as volume shrinks back to $30 billion during the selloff. Since last Wednesday markets have made 9% but the big question now is will these gains hold or is a big dump about to start again.
Market Wrap is a section that takes a daily look at the top 20 cryptocurrencies during the current trading session and analyses the best-performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals
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XRP Loses Momentum: Could JP Morgan’s Crypto Spell Trouble For Ripple?

Ripple’s XRP token has lost momentum of late. A couple of weeks ago it was the second largest crypto asset by market capitalization by a good margin. At the moment it can’t seem to get out of second gear as Ethereum streaks ahead increasing its lead.
In today’s market wide crypto rally XRP has only managed to eke out a 2% gain taking it to $0.307 at the time of writing. It is down over 5% on the month while others around it have been making better gains. There have been questions about XRP market cap and possible manipulation; it is currently being reported as $12.7 billion by Coinmarketcap.com. This is almost $2 billion behind Ethereum which is making good gains recently in the lead up to Constantinople at the end of the month.
Is JPMCoin a Real Ripple Rival?
The news last week that Wall Street giant JP Morgan intends to launch its own digital coin has drawn a big reaction in the crypto sphere. Many have said that this could be Ripple’s largest rival and may even spell the end for it;

“If it turns out that the Blockchain/Coin framework turns out to be a good one for banks transferring money around, then the JPM Coin should absolutely obliterate Ripple,” Bloomberg business editor Joe Weisenthal tweeted.
The arguments that the JPMCoin, which will be pegged to the dollar, could replace Ripple are strong. Tom Shaughnessy, principal at Delphi Digital, a crypto research boutique in New York, said; “This is a huge slap in the face for Ripple. Ripple’s target market is cross-border payments and remittances and now JPMorgan’s effort is a direct threat,”
The relevance of these comments really depends on the usage and purpose of the new stablecoin. The bank’s blockchain and digital treasury services head, Umar Farooq, explained;
“When one client sends money to another over the blockchain, JPM Coins are transferred and instantaneously redeemed for the equivalent amount of U.S. dollars, reducing the typical settlement time.”
This sounds remarkably similar to Ripple’s xRapid platform which uses XRP instead of a stablecoin. The difference being that JPMCoin being pegged to the dollar is stable whereas XRP prices are still highly volatile. There are a number of other major differences; Ripple’s system can handle multiple currencies and countries whereas JP Morgan’s will only be in USD for its institutional clients according to Forbes.
Both solutions are centralized but JPMCoin will run on a Quorum based private permissioned blockchain that is owned by the bank making it even more centralized than XRP. Naturally Ripple boss, Brad Garlinghouse, picked up on this tweeting last week;

As predicted, banks are changing their tune on crypto. But this JPM project misses the point – introducing a closed network today is like launching AOL after Netscape’s IPO. 2 years later, and bank coins still aren’t the answer https://t.co/39EAiSJwAz https://t.co/e7t7iz7h21
— Brad Garlinghouse (@bgarlinghouse) February 14, 2019

Banks will be reluctant to use public crypto assets for their own purpose preferring to keep a tight leash on any coin projects that they launch. The JPMCoin is just another service by the Wall Street bank whereas XRP remains a speculative asset that will continue to see those price fluctuations as the crypto industry evolves. It appears unlikely that another centralized stablecoin will do much damage to Ripple in the short term but the banks are likely to continue developing their own in house solutions rather than working with third parties which is a bit of a slap for Ripple.
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What Has Caused Ethereum to Surge and How Far Will it Go?

Crypto markets have started the week on a positive note with a $5 billion rally that has resulted in most tokens posting solid gains. The top performer at the moment however is Ethereum has it surges 12% and increases its lead over XRP in third.
Ethereum Beating Bitcoin on Recovery
Currently outperforming every crypto asset in the top 25, Ethereum has pumped 12% over the past few hours to take it to $138. Conversely XRP has not enjoyed much attention in this current rally so the market cap gap between the two of them has now widened to almost $2 billion.

Daily trade volume for Ethereum has also jumped from $2.8 billion to $4.7 billion after spending the past week hovering just above $120. Since its low for 2019 on February 6 of $103 Ethereum has made 34%. Bitcoin in the same period has only managed to gain 10% to its current levels.
Ethereum momentum is likely to be driven by the approaching Constantinople hard fork which introduces a number of network improvements. The estimated date now is March 1 according to this countdown timer to block 7280000. There will be two events taking place, Constantinople introducing several Ethereum Improvement Proposals, and Petersberg to remove one buggy EIP.
Some have speculated that the hard fork is actually bearish for Ether as postponing the difficulty bomb will result in a diminished supply reduction. The block reward adjustment buys a little more time until Proof of Stake is implemented with the Casper upgrade. At the moment though ETH is getting a solid boost as it heads towards $150.
Ethereum Futures Revisited
ErisX boss, Thomas Chippas, has recently revived interest in long awaited Ethereum futures by filing a letter to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) outlining their importance for market health. The company, a designated contract market and pending derivatives clearing organization, has close ties to fintech industry giants such as Nasdaq, ConsenSys and TD Ameritrade and has largely been seen as a rival to Bakkt.
“ErisX believes that the introduction of a regulated futures contract on Ether would have a positive impact on the growth and maturation of the market for Ether, as well as the Ethereum Network more broadly,” the letter stated.
Chippas added that the CFTC has previously approved of Bitcoin related products and Ethereum is built upon some of the architectural principles of Bitcoin to extend its functionality. The letter continues to laud the benefits of Ethereum and how a regulated investment vehicle based upon it would ‘promote responsible innovation and development in the derivatives market.’
Ethereum is showing the love today at least as it outperforms the top twenty five crypto assets by a clear margin.
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Crypto Markets Hit Monthly High With $5 Billion Pump

Market Wrap
Crypto markets moving on Monday; Ethereum is surging, BCH and Maker going strong, Tron and NEO are weak.
Crypto markets are rallying this Monday morning as $5 billion gets pumped back in over the past 24 hours. The upward momentum began around nine hours ago and market capitalization has now surpassed $125 billion for the first time in a month.
Bitcoin climbed to an intraday high of $3,740 a few hours ago before pulling back a little. It has broken through previous resistance levels at $3,650 to hit a new monthly high. At the moment BTC is showing a daily gain of 2.2% as it trades at $3,720.
Ethereum is the clear winner in crypto land at the moment as it pumps 11% on the day to a high of $138. Hard fork fervor seems to be driving ETH prices as there is only ten days to go for the second attempt at Constantinople. XRP conversely is still weak, adding only 2% and falling back to widen the gap to $1.6 billion behind ETH.
The top ten is all green during Asian trading today with Bitcoin Cash making the most after Ether at 6%. EOS gaining 3% has not been enough to retake fourth from Litecoin which hasn’t done much. Binance Coin continues to climb with another 3% on the day, while TRX is weak with no gains.
Looking at the top twenty Maker continues its march with another 8% on the day taking MKR to $555. Cardano has made a rare pump of almost 4% and the rest are 2-3 percent higher on the day aside from NEO which has not moved.
The big fomo in the top one hundred is going to WAX at the moment which has surged 40%. Close behind it is Ark pumping 30% as it gets integrated into Exodus wallets. There are no big dumps going on right now but Aurora is at the bottom of the list dropping 3%. All altcoins are generally performing well today.

Total crypto market capitalization has expanded by $5 billion over the past few hours reaching a monthly high of $125 billion. Daily volume is also strong at $26 billion, its highest level in 2019. Ethereum is leading the rally right now as Bitcoin dominance drops to 52%.
Market Wrap is a section that takes a daily look at the top 20 cryptocurrencies during the current trading session and analyses the best-performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals
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Crypto Market Wrap: Consolidation Continues, Is a Breakout Imminent?

Market Wrap
Crypto consolidation continues; Litecoin still inching up, NEO making progress, everything else is flat.
Crypto markets are looking a little erratic as we enter the weekend but in the grand scheme of things nothing has changed over the past seven days. Total market cap has crept up marginally but most tokens are still consolidating within their slim boundaries.
Bitcoin has bounced of intraday resistance levels of $3,640 twice but is still holding above major support at $3,600. Lower highs have been made all week indicating that BTC is likely to turn bearish soon, especially if it falls below the key $3,600 level.
Ethereum is stable at $123 still, it has not moved a bit over the past 24 hours and remains where it has been since mid-week. XRP is slowly weakening and the gap between the two has now widened to $450 million.
There has been so little action for the majority of the top ten that they are showing tenths of a percent change over the past day. Litecoin is the biggest mover with 2% as it pulls away from EOS and increases the market cap gap between them. Very little else is going on in this section.
NEO is today’s top coin in the big twenty as it adds 3% on the day. Tezos is creeping back towards a top twenty place adding 2% but it is still a way off Zcash. Maker and NEM are dumping 4-5 percent following a couple of days of reasonable gains.
There are only two altcoins in double digits at the time of writing. Ontology and Aelf have added 16% a piece during the Asian trading session. The Parity Games partnership appears to be driving momentum for ONT. There are no big dumps going on at the messy end of the top one hundred but the day’s worst performers are Aurora and Revain.

Total market capitalization has not moved over the past 24 hours and remains a fraction higher at just over $121 billion. Markets are still range bound in a very tight channel where they have been all week. There are no signs of momentum in either direction and the tedium continues in crypto land.
Market Wrap is a section that takes a daily look at the top 20 cryptocurrencies during the current trading session and analyses the best-performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals
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Will Bitcoin Block Size Reduction Argument Cause Another Crypto Conflict?

Things have been busy in crypto land this week and the big debate over Bitcoin’s block size has only just been usurped by JP Morgan’s attempt to launch its own completely centralized crypto coin. The block size issue is an important one so we’ll delve a little deeper into that.
Another Crypto Conflict Imminent?
Bitcoin Core, the enigmatic code that runs the world’s largest decentralized currency, has a highly calibrated and specific set of instructions and protocols. Any attempt to deviate from them is usually met with brimstone and fire from the developers and community. When they disagree a hard fork usually occurs and there have been a lot of them over Bitcoin’s short ten year lifespan.
The highly controversial proposal discussed this week came from Core developer Luke Dashj who suggested decreasing the size of the blocks from their current 1Mb to 300Kb. In theory this may increase adoption by reducing costs associated with network participation.

Another example: This patch would enforce a very simple softfork, reducing #Bitcoin block sizes to ~300k between Aug 1 and Dec 31. It demonstrates how one can make a truly TEMPORARY softfork.https://t.co/sukdk2zJpR
(DO NOT RUN THIS IN PRODUCTION EVEN IF YOU SUPPORT A UASF)
— Luke Dashjr (@LukeDashjr) February 7, 2019

Since the Bitcoin network has grown so large now (over 200Gb) running a full node, which stores and updates a copy of the entire blockchain, is extremely resource intensive and costly. The reduction in block size would alleviate these expenditures but would require the majority to move to a soft forked version of the existing BTC chain.
The decentralization case is a strong one; if data centers are required to run full nodes then the network effectively becomes centralized. Blockstream’s strategy chief Samson Mow told Hard Fork;
“This is also why most Bitcoin users do not want huge blocks, because then full nodes could only be run in data centers, which perfectly defeats the purpose of having a decentralized network,”
Some of the community have backed this notion and still advocate for a smaller block size to reduce the potential centralization of running full nodes. The counter argument is that this ‘minor tweak’, as some have described it, will result in a huge disruption to a well-functioning system.  The demise of Bitmain has already reduced centralization concerns and smaller blocks would be of greater benefit to miners who can earn more from transaction fees. The crypto community on twitter has also had their say as the debate rages on;

The crypto community is tired of being tortured by a Bitcoin that refuses to scale and remains in constant limbo. Live or die: scale or go off-chain, huge blocks or teeny ones. This is crypto fatigue. Just get it over with, and deal with what happens. https://t.co/lI8RPPBwJD
— Joel Valenzuela (@TheDesertLynx) February 13, 2019

Bitcoin guru John Carvalho added; “Right now, there isn’t a lot of support for [block size] adjustment ideas because many see it as a controversial and sore topic. We all still feel the bruises from the Segwit2x/No2x/BCash debates,”
There has also been a big push to the Lightning Network which could be affected as proponents of the recently forked Bitcoin SV noted;

I'm shocked the core devs want to reduce the block size from 1MB to only 300KB.
I'm flabbergasted!
Do they not understand along with killing mainnet adoption they're also killing LN adoption???
How the fuck are you going to onboard billions of people if you shrink???#Bitcoin
— Mike Relentless [SV] (@mikerelentless) February 13, 2019

The most pertinent comment though highlights that infighting such as this can only cause longer term damage to Bitcoin and the entire ethos of decentralized currencies;

Stop this madness! Last thing Bitcoin needs is yet more contentious forks in this key year for adoption! A soft fork to "reduce the block size" is a hard fork in all but name. This will split off from the established consensus, cause massive drama, and damage trust in Bitcoin. https://t.co/54tzz4UIli
— Cøbra (@CobraBitcoin) February 11, 2019

Changes to the established code and network are always a hot potato in the crypto world, and block size is top of that tree. Bitcoin has a long way to go before it can truly be considered autonomous and decentralized and these debates are part of that evolution process for the nascent technology. However, with markets battered and bruised, another public crypto conflict between rival factions will cause more damage than good in the short term for Bitcoin and its brethren.
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XEM Rises From Crypto Ashes as NEM Foundation Soldiers On

News that a crypto project has to downsize and restructure is never good. The bear market has battered all but the extremely resilient and most organizations have had to tighten their belts somewhat.
NEM Foundation Restructures, Reveals Debts
The NEM Foundation has managed to rescue its project from crypto oblivion through a series of funding proposals and restructuring. At the end of last month the Foundation revealed that it had less than one month of funding remaining and that downsizing was inevitable. Following that news the token dumped 34% over the next ten days to a 2019 low of $0.034 (1010 satoshis).
This week a further announcement was released with proposals for funding and joint collaboration between the two divisions of the organization, the Foundation and NEM Labs. A massive restructuring has started and the Foundation has called for a ‘proof of importance’ (POI) vote in support of a funding request from the community. The core of the project is now known as Catapult and it will become the new NEM engine for dApps and smart contract deployment.
The team has painfully admitted and made public the level of debt and what remains for future funding of staff and development;
“Yes, our team will be in debt once February expenses are paid … Total potential expected debt if everything is fully paid for: ~$15,000- $50,000 USD … We had 150 employees in 2018 and are projected to have ~54 employees (both fulltime and consultant) in 2019.”
With a clear path forward though, the project has a chance of survival and those that remain with it are confident in the future for NEM. These results can already be seen in token performance today.
XEM Market Reaction
XEM is the top performing altcoin in the top twenty at the time of writing. It had made 8% on the day when it reached an intraday high of $0.044 (1230 satoshis) a couple of hours ago. Daily volume has doubled from $12 to $24 million with Binance being the top exchange for NEM trade.

Over the past seven days XEM has made an impressive 22% climbing from $0.036 (1085 satoshis) this time last Friday to where it trades today. The longer term picture is not so pretty for NEM which has largely fallen out of favor along with most of the other crypto tokens that have dropped out of the top ten.
Nobody could have envisaged a dump of over 97% from all-time high but the NEM Foundation has taken the right approach under the circumstances. Restructure, keep building, and soldier on though hard times.
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