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Regulation

SBI Invests $9 Million In A Crypto Derivatives Platform

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The Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings has recently invested $9 million USD in the digital marketplace architects Clear Markets – funding the creation of a new institutional-grade cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform.

Designed for institutional investors, the new platform is funded with a 12% stake from SBI Crypto Investment, which is a company that is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina but has branch offices in New York, London and Tokyo.

As Nikkei Asian Review reported, the terms of the deal were not disclosed but SBI likely paid 1 billion yen (which is around $9 million USD) for the ownership position in the company.

With this, SBI aims to build a derivatives exchange that will allow institutional investors to trade investment products that are tied to the price movements of Bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies. These may include futures, options, and swaps and will certainly allow institutions to hedge other positions that they have in the crypto market as well as reduce risk while locking in greater profits (or mitigating losses).

Right now, the US is home to two regulated exchanges, CBOE and CME which are both based in Chicago and offering Bitcoin futures contracts.

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Bitcoin News

Bitcoin ETF: SEC Receives 84% Negative Feedback On Application

It seems like the enthusiasm for a Bitcoin ETF hasn't decreased - and such exchange traded fund is still waning. In the latest crypto news, we are seeing a new letter in a series of ones sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission in support of the investment vehicle. In fact, the SEC received just seven comment letters from the public that come as a response to a solicitation for feedback that it had requested in February 2019. Of these seven, six urged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to reject the Bitcoin ETF application - which is around 84% in terms of percents. According to the commenter named Dina Pinto:
“It is in my opinion that Bitcoin to date has no solid ground on which to base a serious product such as an ETF on. It is volatile, manipulated by the very few and has no real use case.” “I can see a lot of people getting hurt both financially and in other ways by you accepting this proposal. It is in my humble opinion that this proposal be rejected.”
Another commenter named D. Darnwell sent a letter in which he wrote:
“I would like to voice my disapproval of this Bitcoin ETP and would ask the SEC to take a much longer time horizon to take a ‘watch and wait approach’ to see if Bitcoin is worthy of becoming a financial product with all the positives and draw-downs it entails.” “Decline this ETP without hesitation.”
However, one Bitcoin ETF proponent named Sami Santos was confident, stating:
“Regarding the argument of the SEC that has not yet approved an ETF because of manipulation and mainly appreciates the protection of investors is contradictory, because without an investment fund, the investor is susceptible to buy bitcoins in deregulated exchanges and lose their investments (bitcoins). VanEck already offers insurance to cover possible losses and as such, the investor will show interest in investing in an ETF fund. So I see no reason not to approve VanEck ETF and Bitwise.”
To remind you, the September (2018) Bitcoin ETF application for VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust received more than 1,400 comment letters - of which 99% were positive. However, because of the crypto winter, this enthusiasm has dwindled. Currently, no one knows if this Bitcoin ETF will be withdrawn. If that's the case, the 240-day deadline clock will reset itself and be set once a new filing is submitted.
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Bitcoin News

Israeli Court Rules In Favor Of BTC Mining Company Against Igud Bank

Israminers, an Israeli Bitcoin (BTC) mining company sued Bank Igud (the Union Bank of Israel Ltd.) in May 2018 and seems like the Israeli court ruled in favor of the mining company after the bank shut down the company’s accounts over money laundering concerns. The crypto news and business outlet Calcalist reported the developments just yesterday. Israminers faced a lot of problems with cash flow after the bank blocked the company’s deposits after claiming that the deposits are against the terms of the bank. A long appeal process followed and a Tel Aviv district court judge explained that the policy of the bank on cryptocurrency clients is way too broad and should not include automatic rejections. Limor Bibi who is the judge in the case was quoted saying:
 “I believe that the sweeping policy, which does not distinguish between different types of activity, the scope of activity and different types of customers — in the field of digital currencies — is unreasonable.’’
At the same time, Bibi explained that the banks have a right to refuse deposits that originate from cryptocurrency trades.  However, the process continued and the regulatory attitude towards crypto trading showed the impacts on the legacy banking system. As previously reported, multiple banks claimed that they have issues with servicing private investors or small business who trade cryptocurrency. Banks usually have a hostile stance on cryptocurrency but their actions are quite contradictive. For example, The United Kingdom Barclays bank also shut down multiple accounts after developing a relationship with a few crypto exchange giants including Coinbase in order to speed up deposits and withdrawals. The Union Bank, on the other hand, appears that senior executives have benefited a lot from education in the blockchain sector when the local Bit2c startup held a seminar on its projects and developments in November 2018. At the start of March, a committee from Israel’s securities regulator officially issued a paper on recommendations for governing the economy around cryptocurrency which can help the bank to improve their treatment on crypto investments more uniformly in the future. The report noted:
 “The committee recommends considering adjustment of the existing regulation to create more suitable regulatory infrastructure for this trading activity in order to better cope with the risks incurred in this activity.’’
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Blockchain News

Companies Dealing With Crypto Need Rules, Not Crypto Itself: Winklevoss

Cameron Winklevoss’ statements reached our crypto news today for stating that crypto doesn’t need rules but the companies who deal with them need the rules. His statement comes as a response to the happenings with the QuadrigaCX crypto exchange. The Winklevoss twins are among the business owners who demanded the crypto market to be regulated since their Gemini exchange is ‘’fully regulated.’’ They aimed to change the image of the crypto industry as a place where theft, hacks and fraudulent activities occur by using cryptocurrency. Their campaign that crypto needs rules didn’t really catch the eye of most bitcoin users. Bitcoin was initially created so people can make transactions without having ‘’to trust’’ anyone. Cameron noted:
 “QuadrigaCX was editing its own internal ledger to move customer funds into special accounts controlled by insiders, who were allowed to trade using those funds and even transfer cryptocurrency out to external wallets.’’
Companies that offer custodial services by holding the bitcoins of their customers should be regulated in order to prevent another QuadrigaCX scandal happening. He added:
‘’Every incident in crypto to date has been/would have been PREVENTABLE w/ proper rules and thoughtful regulation.’’
Describing the failure of Mt.Gox and Quadriga, Cameron addressed the problems that still hover around in the crypto industry and he told while speaking at the Southwest Conference in Texas by saying:
‘’There are a lot of carcasses on the road of crypto that we’ve seen and learned from. At the end of the day it’s really a trust problem. You need some kind of regulation to promote positive outcomes.’’
The twins experience growth over the past few years and said that as long as crypto is growing, Gemini will continue to grow as well. They pointed out that the company had only 20 employees at the beginning and that they reached up to 200 nowadays. Their growth means that the stakes are becoming much higher today. Cameron wrote in a blog post:
 “As crypto has grown up a lot so has Gemini. We’ve grown from 25 to 200 employees…In 2016 crypto was niche — today it is something — tomorrow it will be everything.’’
According to him, it is time to regulate the industry because even the ‘’trustless’’ cryptocurrencies will require a trusted third-party.
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Regulation

Stablecoins Could Have Issues Under The Current Securities Laws: SEC’s Valerie Szczepanik

Valerie Szczepanik, a senior advisor for digital assets at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), pointed out that stablecoins could have a hard time under the current securities laws according to the information coming to our crypto news by the blockchain-related website Decrypt. Szczepanik, popularly known as the Crypto Czar, has officially been appointed as the new associate director of the Divison of Corporation Finance and senior advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation or Bill Hinman who is the division director, back in June 2018. When she made her statement regarding the stablecoins, she also divided them into three categories. The first category is the one related to real assets such as gold, the second one is the stablecoins related to fiat currency held in reserves and the third ones are the ones who use market mechanisms to keep the prices stable. She continued:
 “I’ve seen stablecoins that purport to control price through some kind of pricing mechanism, whether it’s tied to the issuance, creation or redemption of another type of digital asset tied to it, or whether it is controlled through supply and demand in some way to keep the price within a certain band.”
Valerie also noted that when a third central party controls how the prices move over time, the last type of stablecoins ‘’might be getting into the land of securities.’’ Also, she believes that if the buyers are promised that someone else will guarantee a profit or that is able to control the price, that token could be considered as security. Finally, she explained that when an asset is labeled as a stablecoin, the SEC will always have their eye on such projects with a high level of scrutiny. She noted:
 “Not to sound cliche, but we’d much rather people come to us and ask for [permission], or come talk to us before they do something, rather than doing something and then coming in and asking for forgiveness.”
For example, the United States-based stablecoin project Basis, stated last December that they will close all operations and all of the investors will get their money back since they weren’t able to avoid a security classification for their secondary token. In the meantime, Jay Clayton, SEC’s chairman, confirmed that Ethereum and other similar cryptocurrencies are not classified as securities under the US law.
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