Blockchain News 01.08.2018

Bank freeze forces Korean crypto exchange Bithumb to disable new accounts

Starting today August 1st, Bithumb, one of Korea’s ‘big four’ exchanges, is no longer issuing new virtual accounts to customers due to the lack of a banking partner. Bithumb said the freeze will not impact customers who already have virtual accounts at the exchange used for deposits and withdrawals through linked bank accounts. For context, South Korean regulators enforced that cryptocurrency trading is only allowed for investors when their name at their bank-issued virtual account matches that of their account name at the cryptocurrency exchange. Accordingly, cryptocurrency exchanges are also required to renew their contracts with banks every six months.

An official from Nonghyup Bank said “We have decided not to renew the contract because Bithumb still has problems in protecting consumers and information and preventing money laundering.” As a result, Bithumb is left as the only operator among Korea’s ‘big four’ exchanges without a banking partnership for virtual accounts.

KPMG: Blockchain funding in US this year has already surpassed 2017’s total

Investment in the blockchain industry is booming in the US, according to “Big Four” auditing firm KPMG. Published this Tuesday, the company’s “Pulse of Fintech 2018” report states traditional venture capital investments in US-based blockchain companies for the first half of this year have already exceeded the total for 2017. The impressive half-yearly figure was partially led by $100M+ funding round achieved by crypto investment startup Circle Internet Finance.

KPMG US’s Financial Services Digital and Fintech Lead Safwan Zaheer said “there’s more VC flow available than opportunities to invest, a sign of tremendous growth in the space. In particular, investments in blockchain doubled the first half of 2018 compared to 2017. Blockchain has the potential to transform banking and if banking systems were to be rewritten today they would be based on blockchain… widespread applicability of blockchain to help harness efficiencies within financial institutions.”

Wall Street research firm Fundstrat now accepts Bitcoin as payment option

The Wall Street investment research company, Fundstrat, now accepts payment in Bitcoin via Bitpay. The company aims to make payment easier for their clients, especially those located outside the US, by eliminating the “hassles of currency translation.” Thomas Lee, Fundstrat’s Managing Partner & a renound cryptocurrency analyst said “Fundstrat found that accepting payments via BitPay is considerably simpler, faster and less expensive than bank wires.”

Claimed to be the “first research firm to start accepting crypto payments from clients”, the Bitcoin payment option will be available for all of Fundstrat’s clients, which include institutional investors, wealth advisors, pension funds, and high net worth individuals. Lastly, the company is convinced the new payment option will “skip costly, complicated cross-border wire transfers and receive or send international payments with complete accuracy, zero fraud risk and quick bank settlement.”

$10.7T asset manager Northern Trust opens financial services for Bitcoin hedge funds

Financial services giant Northern Trust, which ranks 486th on the Fortune 500 list of the largest US companies, has entered the cryptocurrency ecosystem. The 129-year-old Chicago-based firm, which caters to institutional investors, corporations, and high net worth individuals, has begun to open up some of its services to cryptocurrency hedge funds while also exploring how to integrate blockchain technology into its private equity division.

Northern Trust has reportedly been working with 3 “mainstream hedge funds” that have begun stealthily adding cryptocurrency investments to their portfolios as they seek to gain exposure to the nascent but burgeoning crypto marketplace. Northern Trust has an estimated $10.7 trillion in assets under custody and administration, according to its website.

Blockchain News 01.08.2018

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