Is the BitLicense About to Lighten Up on Crypto Ventures?

New York has never been a crypto-friendly haven. Thanks to the regulations set forth by the now infamous BitLicense, the Big Apple has garnered a reputation for allegedly being anti-blockchain.

The BitLicense Is About to Lighten Up

But now, changes are being made to the region’s regulatory protocols that may make things easier for crypto companies looking to do business in the city that doesn’t sleep. The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has suggested adding new legislation and updating the BitLicense so that crypto companies to add more digital coins to their offerings.

This would allow investors to diversify their portfolios even further and take advantage of the many cryptocurrency units available for trading and purchase.

The NYDFS is also seeking to add a page to its website that shows all the coins that are presently available and which ones will be added. This way, there’s no confusion about which coins are acceptable when a crypto company is looking to offer its services in the Big Apple.

Superintendent Linda Lacewell explains:

In order to get a license, they go through all that trouble, they have their AML and sanctions [compliance] – then they want to reach out with respect to a new coin and even if we’ve already approved that coin 175 times, they have to come back to us with a new application… Government is juggling 100 other things. How long does it take to complete this application? It can take months. I’m embarrassed to say there are at least one or two that took longer than a couple months. Sometimes it’s needed, but sometimes it’s not.

In any case, it sounds like a very rough – and above all, time consuming – process for most crypto businesses to go through. This is designed to assure all companies what is acceptable and what is not, so they don’t spend so much time asking what’s right for their business and instead focus more on ensuring their operations are going smoothly.

Reactions to the BitLicense’s introduction in 2015 have been somewhat mixed, with some companies – such as the Gemini Exchange operated by the Winklevoss Twins – seeking to garner licenses right away so that services can be offered to New York residents.

Others, however, such as Kraken, believed that the BitLicense was designed to stifle innovation. The proposal required heavy fees from companies seeking to offer crypto-related services, and many felt this was meant to force businesses into closing early. After all, many startups did not have the money the BitLicense was asking for.

Many Aren’t Happy with New York

Thus, many companies have simply packed up their bags and left the Big Apple, swearing to avoid all further business within the region.

The NYDFS is seeking comments on its new proposal by late January.

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Is the BitLicense About to Lighten Up on Crypto Ventures?

Analysts Say Whales’ Presence Is About to Get Larger

Analysts say that the presence of whales is about to get a lot stronger considering the bitcoin price is slated to rise heavily in the coming years.

We’re Continuing to Feel the Influence of Whales

Whales are a big problem in the crypto space in that they can heavily influence bitcoin’s behavior and increase its volatility. Whales are individuals who carry a lot of crypto in single accounts. Whenever they move this money, they tend to move much of what they own from one wallet to another. This causes the market to move up or down to such a degree that other investors will suffer.

Whales are widely considered to be “crypto rich,” often housing anywhere between 1,000 and one million bitcoins in a single account. One of the latest major stories to involve whales was one that potentially operated through the popular cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex. University of Texas finance professor John Griffin released a report explaining that such a whale was responsible for the massive price manipulation of bitcoin which occurred in late 2017.

It was this manipulation which caused bitcoin to spike as high as $20,000 in December of that year, but that kind of momentum can’t last, which explains why the currency suddenly fell to new lows in 2018. The report suggests that a whale holding serious bitcoin hordes through a Bittrex account may have been responsible for those 12-month long price swings investors witnessed.

In the report, Griffin explains what can make whales so dangerous:

The problem with a few large players holding crypto is that when they sell, they can easily push the price down, which makes the market susceptible to rapid swings.

Another big problem? According to crypto investor and writer Aaron Brown, whales are people that don’t like to stick around unless the market is performing well. Granted bitcoin continues to sink or suffers from a few other heavy drops along the line, he says that many are likely to sell off their stashes quickly, which could lead to permanent damage to the crypto space.

Are They Looking to Get Out Completely?

He comments:

I doubt they would have infinite patience, and without significant growth in actual use, I would expect them to quietly withdraw to chase other promising technologies. They have no great financial or ideological commitment to either crypto or the ideals and technologies behind it.

There is also wide speculation that bitcoin whales are not individuals but rather institutions or companies that have sought to invest much of what they have in digital currencies or who are holding the stashes of multiple clients. Ventures such as Fidelity Investments are now offering crypto trading services to institutional players, which are seemingly making up a higher percentage of the digital trading community.

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Analysts Say Whales’ Presence Is About to Get Larger

AMD Partners with Blockchain Game Distribution Platform, Ultra

On 13th Dec 2019, Ultra announced that it had entered a partnership with GPU giant AMD. According to the announcement, the new partnership was part of the ongoing mission to make the games industry democratic for both players and distributors.

The two companies aim to promote the use of the Ultra platform and to emphasize on the importance of blockchain-based game technologies.

Thoughts on the Partnership from Both Sides

The news of then new alliance seemed to arouse excitement from both sides of the partnership. Joerg Roskowetz, who is the Head of Blockchain Technology at AMD said that the two companies would work together to bring to reality the next-generation community-centric games. Through the partnership, the two companies would be able to transform the purchase, sharing and experience of online games.

The Co-CEO of Ultra, Nicholas Gilot added that Ultra was pleased to be working with AMD. He also mentioned that AMD had recognized early on the important role that Blockchain technology played in the gaming industry.

Common Commitment

The two companies have a shared commitment in the new partnership; to provide users with a robust game experience. The two tech-giants will cooperate on the marketing strategies to promote the use gaming technologies that are based on the blockchain technology.

Customers will receive game distributions from AMD. The games will vary in genre, and will have some of the games exclusive to the Ultra platform.

AMD and Ultra will also work together to provide optimal cryptographic computing experience for AMD users. The partnership will also see the two companies venturing into future collaborative projects.

Following the announcement, it seems Ultra will be joining Robot Cache on the ‘Featured Games’ page of AMD. Robot Cache is yet another game that is based on the Blockchain technology.

The partnership will see the Ultra platform built as an alternative to platforms such as Stream that are centralized with a mentality that focuses on the developer first. The new platform seeks to raise twice as much profits for game developers while maintaining a simplified gaming experience for gamers on the platform.

The news of the alliance came just weeks after Ultra announced its partnership with Ubisoft, which is a French gaming platform famous for Assassin’s Creed and far Cry.

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ISIS Easing in into Blockchain Based Messaging App

As the whole world transcends into Blockchain technology, so are terror groups. Recently, it has emerged that ISIS is also joining in the trend.

With the constant need of the group requiring a platform to air their media worldwide, remain anonymous, receiving and distribution of funds, and be able to have secure communication system necessitates them to have a communication app that can serve that same purpose.

Because Communication Matters (BCM) is the app that ISIS is now testing for the need of an efficient communication application. This move comes from the realization that Telegram is no longer offering their services.

Telegram has actively blocked more than 50 channels owned by ISIS on their platform in the past. In the recent past, international law enforcement operations ensured that all the channels and networks that had been previously formed by the group to be shut down.

BCM is among the many platforms that ISIS has tested for the same reason. Others including Tam Tam, Hoop, RocketChat and Riot have passed through ISIS testing before. BCM is however, showing the potential of being a crucial part of their operations offering all the services that are needed.

The main features of Because Communication Matters include the anonymity required by the group, encryption and large group chat sizes. According to researchers, these extremist groups have the need to air messages to large masses while ensuring their identities stay anonymous. As it is, no third party can access content in a message sent on BCM.

It is in the general public’s concern as to why BCM is allowing features that entertain the exploitation by groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. The company denies any claims to terrorist groups utilizing their platforms for their propaganda.

The fact that the company itself is not widely known and its basis established makes it even more questionable among people. It stands with their original statement that every feature is there for their users’ convenience.

The company insists the features of their platform is aimed at improving their users’ experience and not for the aid of any extremist groups.

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Sweden’s Central Bank to Develop the e-Krona Digital Currency in Test Environment

The Sweden central bank Riksbank has announced its intention to procure the services of consulting company Accenture in building out a pilot implementation of a digital Swiss krona dubbed e-krona. In a press release on Friday, the central bank indicated that it was yet to sign the deal to hire Accenture’s services. According to the release, Accenture’s assignment entails “producing a solution as to how an e-krona could function in a test environment.” The primary objective of the pilot project, Riksbank said in the statement, is to “broaden the bank’s understanding of the technological possibilities for the e-krona.”

The press release explains that “during the first year of the e-krona pilot project, a technical platform will be developed with a user interface that enables, for instance, payment with the e-krona from a mobile phone, a card, and a watch. The platform will also contain simulations of payment service providers, retail outlets and other parts of the Swedish payment system.” It is unclear whether or not the e-krona project will be based on a blockchain or distributed ledger technology, however, a report released last year in 2018 on the feasibility of a digital krona and its effects to the Swedish monetary environment stated that in the event of a development of an e-krona, the digital currency system would have to be compatible with distributed ledger tech applications.

E-krona-testing

The Scandinavian country is yet to commit to the launch of a digital currency as of yet but the development of a pilot project is no doubt a pointer in the right direction. The launch of a digital krona was necessitated due to the decreasing popularity of the physical Krona as citizens and banks use and accept the coins and bills less and less often. Bank of Canada’s Deputy Governor Timothy Lane highlighted the issue in a Fintech conference this past November that was held at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. He said “You’re actually reaching a tipping point [in Sweden]. Merchants are increasingly refusing to accept banknotes and banks are increasingly not offering services to process banknotes.”

The initial sign period will run from the beginning to the end of the year 2020 with a possibility for further extension to a maximum of seven years. “If the Riksbank chooses to extend the e-krona pilot project, the e-krona will be further developed with increased functions and further tests. The Riksbank has not yet taken a decision to issue an e-krona.”

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