Blockchain News 24 January 2018

Grayscale Investments to launch five new cryptocurrency funds in 2018

Grayscale Investments, which made it easier for mainstream investors to bet on Bitcoin, plans to offer four new single-currency crypto funds and another based on a basket of digital currencies by the start of April.

“By the end of the first quarter of this year, we’ll have a total of eight investment products,” Grayscale Managing Director Michael Sonnenshein said in an interview Tuesday in Vancouver.

Grayscale’s original Bitcoin Investment Trust, which trades over-the-counter in the U.S., has surged more than 1,300 percent in the last year as institutional investors barred from buying digital coins directly nevertheless seek exposure to the gains of cryptocurrencies.
Sonnenshein said the funds would be structured like the Bitcoin Investment Trust, giving investors the ability to gain exposure to digital currencies through the purchase of a security.

Sonnenshein said “That vehicle will hold the top liquid digital currencies, it will be market cap-weighted, and balanced on a quarterly basis.”

The New York-based firm is “keeping our ears open to what investors want exposure to,” Sonnenshein said. “If there are certain currencies that investors are asking of us to structure products around, then we want to be there to satisfy that demand.”

Weiss rating agency issues grades on cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin gets C+

Weiss Ratings, the nation’s leading independent rating agency of financial institutions, today releases the nation’s first-ever grades on cryptocurrencies by a financial rating agency.

What makes Weiss’ entry into cryptocurrency ratings significant is its history of independence and accuracy in other investment sectors, as noted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, among others.

The Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings evaluate price risk, reward potential, blockchain technology, adoption, security, and other factors. “Due to rapid changes in the data,” explains Weiss, “upgrades and downgrades are more frequent than in other sectors we cover.”

Bitcoin (rated C+) gets excellent scores for security and widespread adoption. But it is encountering major network bottlenecks, causing delays and high transactions costs. Despite intense ongoing efforts that are achieving some initial success, Bitcoin has no immediate mechanism for promptly upgrading its software code.

Weiss Ratings, which began in 1971, rates 55,000 institutions and investments. Unlike Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch and A.M. Best, Weiss never accepts compensation of any kind from the entities it rates.

Stripe is ending Bitcoin support

Payment processor stripe no longer supports Bitcoin as a payment method beginning April 2018.

Stripe began accepting Bitcoin in 2014 but now cites Bitcoin’s transaction fees and relatively slow confirmation times as the reasoning for ending its relationship with Bitcoin.

South Korean government inspects cryptocurrency exchanges’ security

South Korean Bitcoin exchanges were inspected and none meet security standards, according to the South Korean government. Each of the 8 exchanges inspected were deemed “insufficient” and recommendations were made to improve their security.

New laws will increase fines and set time guidelines for these exchanges to upgrade in order to meet the requirements or face possible closure.

This shows the South Korean government is taking cryptocurrency exchanges seriously and values security.

Digital Currency Auditor Friedman LLP removes all mentions of Bitfinex from website

Friedman LLP, a digital currency auditor service, removed any previous mention of Bitfinex as a client, and removed any mention of them from their news feed.

This comes as suspicions grow of the relationship between Bitfinex and tether as the USDT (tether tokens) are being minted by the million this past week.

City in Vermont to use blockchain for land registry records

The city of South Burlington, Vermont, is trialing a land registration system which uses blockchain as part of a system for recording ownership.

The City Clerk’s Office announced Monday that it was partnering with blockchain startup Propy to store land record management data, according to a press release. The pilot’s aim is to develop a more efficient and secure ledger for real estate transactions with an additional goal of evaluating how well using a blockchain-based platform will reduce the costs of storing land management data when compared to traditional systems.

South Burlington’s City Clerk, Donna Kinville, said the city “is always interested in taking advantage of technology that enhances its delivery of services to residents. We are ready to learn from this Propy pilot.”

Blockchain News 24 January 2018

Nordea bank bans employees from trading Bitcoin

Nordea, a Northern European bank based out of Finland, has told all its 31,500 employees they can’t trade Bitcoin.

Nordea will impose its ban from Feb. 28, after its board agreed to take a stand due to the “unregulated nature” of the market, spokeswoman Afroditi Kellberg said by phone on Monday.

“It is widespread practice across the banking industry to restrict the personal account dealing of staff to prevent them taking positions in speculative investments, or which might expose them to a risk of financial loss and therefore impact their financial standing,” Kellberg said. “Nordea therefore, like all banks, has the right to set out policies in this area that apply to its staff.”

Nordea said its policy “includes transitional provisions for staff with existing holdings and allows for certain exceptions.” Employees who already own Bitcoin are “permitted to keep existing holdings.”

Nordea is the first major European bank to impose such a ban.

Blockchain News 24 January 2018

Author: Sara Bauer