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Hester Pierce Slams SEC For Slow BTC ETF Approval

Hester Pierce – playfully known as the “Crypto Mom” thanks to her loose attitude towards digital currencies – has had it with the government agency she works with – the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – and all the people in it working to prevent a bitcoin or crypto-based exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Hester Pierce: The SEC Is Too Slow

Bitcoin ETFs have been all the rage for several years amongst crypto heads. They all think an ETF will be the next revolutionary step to take and will ultimately bring bitcoin and crypto closer towards mainstream territory. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that way, and several of these individuals are employed by the SEC. As it turns out, the organization has been rather obstinate towards permitting such a product, claiming that the crypto space is too wrought with fraud and other problems.

Several companies – including Bitwise and Van Eck – have tried hard for a period of four years or even longer to get a bitcoin ETF approved by the SEC, though their efforts have proven fruitless, as the SEC practically throws their applications back in their faces or the companies wind up having to cancel out their applications themselves due to a lack of action.

Pierce has had enough. She points out that the SEC has been so slow in the past that other nations have ultimately beaten the U.S. to the punch. Regions such as Canada have unveiled bitcoin and even Ethereum-based ETFs first, meaning the U.S. may be losing its competitive edge.

In an interview, she states:

I would never have imagined that I would be in this situation where we would not yet have approved one and other countries are moving ahead… We’re not a merit regulator, so we shouldn’t be in the business of deciding whether something is good or bad. An investor is thinking of their entire portfolio and sometimes we’re thinking in one-off terms of a particular product standing on its own and we forget that people are building portfolios.

The situation does not appear to have improved much this year. On the one hand, there are approximately nine separate companies right now that have bitcoin ETF applications on the desks of SEC office officials awaiting approval. At the same time, it appears the organization has delayed making decisions (once again) on all of them.

Will Other Things Get in the Way?

In addition, the bitcoin and crypto space has been ravaged by bears over the past three months. Bitcoin, for example, was trading at a new all-time high of approximately $64,000 per unit but has since dropped down by half. Several other altcoins have lost value as well, and it is possible the SEC may see this as a clear excuse for further rejection.

Either way, Pierce has made it clear that she thinks the U.S. is past due when it comes to providing approval.

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Elon Musk Joins Jack Dorsey and Cathie Wood for Online BTC Chat

Not long ago, cryptocurrency was pushed by an event that took place online. The event saw three major bitcoin bulls – Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Cathie Wood – chatting online in an open forum to discuss the future of the world’s number one digital currency.

Elon Musk Has a Lot to Say About BTC

Just hours after the meeting took place, bitcoin saw its price bouncing back above $32,000 per unit, up $2,000 from where it had been just a couple days ago. While the move doesn’t seem like much, many analysts are just happy that the currency has had a moment of getting back on track.

In the meeting, Musk confirmed what many people have been thinking – that it is not just Tesla that has added bitcoin to its roster of assets in the past year. Rather, SpaceX is an owner of BTC as well. He said:

Bitcoin by itself simply cannot scale to become the monetary system for the world at base layer. There may be some merit in combining something like Ethereum and Dogecoin… I might pump, but I don’t dump. I don’t believe in getting the price high then selling [and] I would like to see bitcoin succeed.

While bitcoin has ultimately made a move, it is not the giant jump that a lot of crypto heads were hoping for. Nevertheless, Musk has commented that he is now opening the door for Tesla to show crypto support again in the future. He stated:

There’s some merit in considering something that has a higher max transaction rate and lower transaction cost and seeing how far you can take a single-layer network with exchanges acting as a de facto second layer. I think you could take that further than people realize and as bandwidth increases over time, latency decreases… SpaceX and Starlink are playing a role in this, and long-term people will have worldwide access to gigabit-level connectivity at low latency and low cost. So, then your base layer could do a lot of transactions if you take that into account.

Starlink is a new project brought about by SpaceX. As a satellite internet network, the project boasts more than 70,000 users across 12 countries and is designed to “fill geographic gaps” between regions by providing cell phone coverage and ground-based internet connections.

Could Doge Become the Ultimate Crypto?

Musk said:

If someone else doesn’t do it then Starlink certainly will. I have high confidence you will be able to maintain a decent finance system while still having a much bigger blockchain. You can make a hash ledger bigger without suffering from decentralization as average connectivity improves.

Last month, Musk tweeted that he agreed with Vitalik Buterin – the co-creator of Ethereum – who stated that Dogecoin could ultimately be upgraded and even tied to Ethereum to “beat bitcoin hands down.”

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Crypto Mining Firm Core Scientific Set for “Public Debut”

North American cryptocurrency mining company Core Scientific has announced plans to be listed publicly on the Nasdaq.

Core Scientific Will Trade on the Nasdaq Soon

The company is the latest in a huge string of crypto and blockchain-related companies to become publicly traded entities. Popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase arguably started this trend in mid-April and debuted on the Nasdaq with stock shares trading for more than $300 each. From there, several others decided to follow suit, with digital payment platform Circle being the next in line, and most recently crypto trading app Robinhood saying that it will do the same.

Core Scientific will merge with a company known as Power & Digital Infrastructure Acquisition Corp., thereby bringing its valuation to more than $4 billion. At the time of writing, details are scarce, as not even the ticker name or an initial trading date has been announced, though traders can likely expect things to ramp up in the next few months.

At the time of writing, Core Scientific boasts data houses in several states including North Dakota, Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. It is one of the largest suppliers of digital mining power and equipment in North America and faces major competition from only two separate entities including Riot Blockchain and Marathon Digital, which are valued at just over $2 billion each.

Darin Feinstein – co-founder and co-chairman of the company – explained in a recent interview:

[Core’s] blockchain infrastructure business is unparalleled, backed by more than 70 blockchain and infrastructure-related patents and applications.

North American bitcoin mining operations are likely to become much larger over the coming months now that they are facing significantly less competition from the likes of China, their rival to the east.

China has been on a serious mission to become more environmentally friendly over the past few months and is purging itself of all crypto mining operations thanks to new orders from the country’s capital of Beijing. The maneuver has left many operation managers displaced, and several are looking at states like Florida and Texas to set up new companies.

In 2021 alone, Core minted more than 3,000 new bitcoin units, over 1,600 of which went straight to its corporate account. Co-chairman Mike Levitt explained in a recent discussion that this is considerably more than many other bitcoin operations on the continent, with the likes of both Marathon and Riot Blockchain, for example, producing only 846 and 1,167 new units, respectively.

More Popular Than Ever?

The company has also sold out of nearly all its mining rigs, and customers will need to wait until the following year if they are to obtain more. Levitt says:

We are all sold out. Every bit of infrastructure we can build – and we are the biggest – we have demand for. We are basically sold out of capacity through 2022, and we are building more.

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Tim Draper: I Will Not Sell My Bitcoin Stash

Tim Draper has earned a reputation as being one of the world’s biggest bitcoin bulls. He is always there to defend the currency and inform people about how they can potentially take advantage of its growing list of benefits.

Tim Draper On the Future of BTC

In a recent interview, he spoke briefly about where he thinks the currency’s price is headed in the coming weeks and months. This has been something of a hot debate at the time of writing, as bitcoin is presently down more than half its value since mid-April, when it reached its new all-time high of approximately $64,000 per unit.

Nowadays, bitcoin is trading in the low $30,000 range, which is still quite high when compared with where it was even last year, but the asset has ultimately experienced another 2018 in the year 2021, and things are not looking good for the world’s primary form of digital currency.

Draper has often stated that bitcoin is set to reach a price of $250,000 by next year or the year after. Given the recent price drops that the currency has experienced, the asset would need to spike tenfold for this to happen. The currency would need to add more than $200,000 to its price within the next six to 18 months if Draper is going to make good on this prediction.

In the interview, despite being up more than $1 billion on his BTC purchases, Draper mentioned:

I’m wrong more than I’m right.

When considering new coins to invest in, Draper says that he usually checks to see if the coin in question provides a certain sense of freedom to its users. He also wants to know that it is trustworthy. He says:

I’m always thinking if it works. Free speech is incredibly valuable for people all over the world.

In addition, he says that he’s always being asked if or even when he will potentially sell his bitcoin stash. At this time, he has no interest in selling given that he feels the currency is more useful than ever. He compared selling his bitcoin with selling euros for an old currency that is no longer in commission. He claimed this would be a rather foolish move to make, commenting:

It just doesn’t make sense. Why would I ever trade in my bitcoin, which is the currency of the future? We have a new currency.

More Retailers Need to Get Involved

He also had some negative things to say about fiat. He mentioned that standard money is too often tied to politics and can lead to inflation as it is doing now due to overprinting. He does not trust standard fiat and is instead putting all his hope and faith in BTC.

Lastly, he said he would like to see more retailers accept BTC in the long run, as this is the only way the currency can ever become fully legitimate.

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Upgrade Inc. to Offer BTC Rewards Card to General Public

Bitcoin rewards cards are typically only available to crypto traders and customers. Exchanges and companies like Coinbase offer them, but you need to be a client with the trading platform to get your hands on the product. Thus, it is often considered an exclusive tool. However, Upgrade Inc. is now making a crypto rewards credit card available to general members of the public, meaning you don’t have to be part of a specific organization or company to take advantage of bitcoin rewards.

Upgrade to Offer Bitcoin Rewards Card to Anyone Interested

Known as the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card, individuals who utilize the product for purchasing goods and services will garner as much as 1.5 percent in bitcoin back on everything they buy. Renaud Laplanche – the co-founder and CEO of Upgrade – explained in a statement:

Upgrade Card is already delivering over $3 billion in annualized credit to consumers. Starting today, anyone can apply for an Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card and enjoy the same affordable and responsible credit as with any Upgrade Card, plus the potential upside and fun of owning bitcoin.

Typically, most credit cards will offer cashback rewards to loyal customers, though these rewards often come about in the form of cash that gets mailed out to the recipient in check form at the end of each year. They are then able to cash this check and use it for further purchases.

Rarely does a card dole these rewards out in the form of the world’s number one digital currency by market cap. Upgrade is looking to make bitcoin accessible to anyone who might be interested in taking advantage of the benefits of digital assets, thereby making the cryptocurrency space far more mainstream and legitimate.

Terry Angelos – SVP and global head of fintech at Visa – explained:

Crypto rewards introduce cardholders to a new asset class that is increasingly part of a consumer’s financial portfolio. Whether you’re a crypto enthusiast or just getting started, programs like the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card offer an engaging and low-risk way to participate in the crypto economy.

Despite offering crypto-based rewards, the product provides much of the same support that comes with standard bank-issued cards such as purchase protection, baggage insurance, and extended warranty coverage. All custody and crypto trading options tied to the card are being provided by NYDIG. In addition, the card comes equipped with low fixed rates and no fees.

Standard Tools Are Also Included

The credit limit of the card can be anywhere between $500 and $25,000. At the time of writing, the card is not available to customers in various states including Washington, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Thus far, Upgrade has provided more than $7 billion in credit options to its customers either through loans or credit cards. The company has been around since 2017 and even provides standard banking tools such as checking accounts.

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The European Union Is Cracking Down on Anonymous Crypto

Cryptocurrencies are on the verge of losing their edge in European countries as members of the EU (European Union) are now looking into banning all anonymous crypto trades.

The European Union Is Working on New Crypto Regulations

The process is designed to ensure all monetary transactions are safe. The organization is seeking to end all financial crime such as money laundering and terrorist financing and representatives believe this will lead to a stronger environment for all traders. In addition, the European Union is looking to halt all crypto trades either equal to or higher than 10,000 euros.

The European Commission explained in a statement:

Given that virtual asset transfers are subject to similar money laundering and terrorist financing risks as wire fund transfers… It therefore appears logical to use the same legislative instrument to address these common issues.

On the one hand, regulation like this makes sense. Cryptocurrency – from the day it first appeared on the financial scene – has been subject to criminality such as theft, and without the appropriate rules in place, there is no chance that customers can ever be fully protected.

At the same time, the present suggestions would fully eliminate privacy, something that crypto has prided itself on for over ten years. Many traders and investors are looking to keep their identities hidden not necessarily because they are up to no good, but because they just don’t want prying eyes entering their business. It is the exact opposite of banks and standard financial institutions, which are often privy to all kinds of information when transactions take place such as where the money is from or how much.

With crypto, however, many users have more autonomy to them and are simply looking to keep their business to themselves. These new rules could potentially get in the way of that and violate one of the biggest factors of the crypto space.

The European Union is now looking to ensure that all cryptocurrencies are traceable so that they can track down any parties involved with malicious or illicit activity.

Will Other Governments Follow Suit?

The good news is that it could take as long as two years to implement these laws. The bad news is that other governments may follow in the European Union’s footsteps and implement additional barricades to anonymous trading, making the problem worldwide rather than just continental. Bob Seeman – a crypto author and tech entrepreneur – stated in an interview:

I believe that regulation will eventually overwhelm bitcoin. Some governments may soon realize that they already have gambling license requirements in place to regulate and collect tax due to every bitcoin transaction having any connection to the government’s jurisdiction.

Already traces of this behavior are being seen in other nations such as the United States, which is now working on implementing a plan that would fully regulate stable currencies in the future.

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Crypto App Robinhood Announces Plans to Go Public

Continuing a long streak of crypto companies that have gone public, popular trading app Robinhood is the latest digital currency enterprise to announce an IPO (initial public offering). The company is alleging that it will garner as much as $2 billion in new funds from the event it is planning to hold in the next few months, according to a statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Robinhood Is Set for Its Public Debut

Shares will start out at approximately $38 to $42. With the sale, the eight-year-old company is projected to reach a valuation of approximately $32 billion.

This all sounds fine and dandy at first. The trouble is that cryptocurrency – which Robinhood appears to delve heavily into – is suffering as of late, and trading is down for the count. Bitcoin itself has lost more than 50 percent of its overall valuation, with the recent all-time high it struck of $64,000 in mid-April looking as though it was a figment of traders’ imaginations. At the time of writing, the world’s number one digital currency by market cap is trading in the $29,000 range.

Even Robinhood appears to acknowledge the fact that trading has virtually vanished from the spotlight. It even projects its revenue to fall within the next three months according to its SEC filing, so why host this event now? The document reads as follows:

We expect our revenue for the three months ending September 30, 2021, to be lower, as compared to the three months ended June 30, 2021, due to decreased levels of trading activity relative to the record highs in trading activity, particularly in cryptocurrencies, during the three months ended June 30, 2021, and expected seasonality.

This Keeps Happening

The company appears to be taking a page right out of the book of both Coinbase and Circle, with the former company first filing to go public in mid-April at around the moment bitcoin hit its all-time high for the year. Circle was quick to follow suit, saying that it would host an IPO later in the year. CEO and co-founder Jeremy Allaire mentioned:

As we started the year, we had experienced a very dramatic growth in USDC and very strong traction with new products and services that we are launching. Our view is that we were in a rather unique position to rapidly build out and scale out a major franchise built around delivering digital currency-based financial services around the world. It is a unique opportunity to be able to not just raise that amount of capital but transform the company into a company that is accountable to the public.

Robinhood, for the most part, has had a bit of a controversial history with crypto, having put stoppages on all bitcoin and Dogecoin trades early in the year after the company deemed that the prices of both assets were rising too high.

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Bitcoin and Crypto Are Dragged Down Even Further

Bitcoin is in a very dark place at the time of writing. After trading for a new all-time high of $64,000 per unit in mid-April of this year, the currency has once again (for the second time in the past few months) dropped below the $30,000 range and is now trading for just over $29,000. This means that in just three months alone, the world’s number one digital currency by market cap has lost more than $35,000 off its price and more than 50 percent from its value.

Bitcoin Drops Further; Trading for Under $30K

In addition, bitcoin appears to be dragging other coins lower as well. Just under $90 billion in total valuation was removed from the crypto space over the course of a single day. Bitcoin itself is down more than five percent, but many other major altcoins have joined the fall. Ethereum has dropped six percent, while Ripple’s XRP has taken a nine percent dip during this time.

Experts believe that the fall that occurred with bitcoin and the crypto space is likely due to a recent selloff in global stock markets. Annabelle Huang – partner at the crypto financial firm Amber Group – explained in a statement:

There has been a broad selloff in global markets. Risk assets are down across the board. Broader risk assets turned weaker including high yields. Coupled with recent BTC (bitcoin) weakness, this just sent the crypto market down further.

Others, however, differ in their opinions of what is potentially bringing down the entire industry. Many analysts feel that China has entered territory in which there is no return from. The country has worked hard these past few weeks to basically obliterate its entire mining industry, which is a big feat for many reasons.

For one thing, China – at one point – accounted for approximately 65 to 75 percent of all mining operations in the world. Now, many former companies are either dealing with displacement or being forced to close altogether. This is also not the first time that China has gone after cryptocurrency businesses, having banned local crypto exchanges about four years ago.

Other analysts also feel that ongoing COVID fears are likely leading to market drops. The alleged Delta variant of the coronavirus is meandering throughout several regions, and it looks like traders are looking to hang onto as much money as they can for the time being.

Jehan Chu – founder of the crypto enterprise Kenetic Capital – mentioned in an interview:

All signals are red as BTC (bitcoin) continues to be weighed down by China’s ultimate crypto ban and worsening macro-economic conditions from a surge in COVID variants.

More Losses in the Coming Days?

In addition, he is also anticipating a greater selloff in the crypto community, continuing his discussion with:

Q1s crypto market momentum has stalled and is threatening further reversal potentially below the $25K levels.

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Analysts: Bitcoin Will Obliterate Fiat from Existence By 2050

A panel of crypto experts alleges that bitcoin – the world’s number one digital currency by market cap – will potentially remove fiat currency from circulation by the year 2050. This basically gives bitcoin approximately 29 years to become the primary financial product of the world.

Bitcoin Is Rising to the Top

On the one hand, this certainly seems possible. 29 years is a long time, and a lot can be accomplished within that period. On the other hand, is it really all that likely that fiat will disappear completely? We have so many institutions and industries that depend on fiat, and as we have seen in the past, financial changes in America and abroad can take many decades to complete, so would 29 years really be enough time for bitcoin to fully step in and take over?

Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency were initially created to push checks, credit cards and fiat to the side. They have always been designed to serve as payment tools in which people could use them to buy goods and services necessary for everyday life, but sadly, their volatility has gotten in the way of this goal, and as a result, the journey towards payment status has been rather slow.

We are witnessing one of the biggest bouts of volatility at press time with bitcoin. The currency was initially trading for a new all-time high of approximately $64,000 in mid-April of this year. However, as of this moment, the currency has dropped into the $29,000 range, meaning that in just over three months, the currency has lost approximately $35,000 off its price tag. That is more than 50 percent of its value.

Despite the bearish conditions the cryptocurrency is facing, many experts still feel that bitcoin is going to weasel its way into the top spot at some point. As many as 54 percent of analysts and crypto heads taking part in a recent panel said that bitcoin would be the world’s primary form of currency within the next 30 years, while as many 29 percent suggested that this day would come even sooner in the year 2035. 20 percent feel that bitcoin will be number one in the year 2040.

CEO of Morpher Martin Frohler was the most bullish amongst the panelist, claiming in an interview:

Adoption by corporations and institutional investors paired with a loose monetary policy and high asset inflation will propel bitcoin to six figures before the end of this year. The next halving cycle will see increased adoption of bitcoin as a legal tender by developing countries, and by 2030, bitcoin will have replaced gold as a global reserve asset.

So Many Bulls

This sentiment was echoed by Arcane Crypto analyst Vetle Lunde, who stated:

We are standing in the middle of the institutionalization of bitcoin. More funds are joining the space.

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Block Fi Receives Cease-and-Desist Letter from NJ Regulators

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office has issued a cease-and-desist letter to blockchain company Block Fi to get the firm to end all marketing for its interest-bearing accounts.

Block Fi Is at the Center of Some Unwanted Attention

According to the letter, Block Fi has been busy selling unregistered securities and violating present securities laws. The company provides interest rates of anywhere between .25 percent and 8.5 percent depending on the amount of money deposited and the digital asset in question. In addition, Block Fi also gives its customers access to a digital currency trading platform and BTC rewards cards.

One of the issues with the firm as stated in the letter is that despite offering both lending and savings options often seen in a decentralized finance (defi) environment, Block Fi is allegedly centralized and controlled by a single body. The firm also does not offer any insurance.

In a statement, Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck explained:

Our rules are simple: if you sell securities in New Jersey, you need to comply with New Jersey’s securities laws. No one gets a free pass simply because they are operating in the fast-evolving cryptocurrency market. Our Bureau of Securities will be monitoring this issue closely as we work to protect investors.

One thing that the crypto space really lacks is clarity. During the 2020 presidential election, several candidates – including businessman Andrew Yang and former New York mayor and publicist Michael Bloomberg – based their campaigns partly on providing clearer regulations when it came to crypto assets and how they would be taxed and viewed. Unfortunately, neither man was able to even make a dent in the race, and as a result, crypto laws are just as cloudy as ever.

This lack of clarity has often led to heavy problems for blockchain firms hosting initial coin offerings (ICOs) or providing newly minted tokens. Often, these companies find themselves at the mercy of regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which will go after these firms for reportedly disobeying securities laws. These companies typically find themselves either paying penalty fees or being forced to close their doors permanently.

Initially, Block Fi claimed to have no knowledge of the cease-and-desist order, with CEO Zac Prince explaining:

The company has no knowledge of any impending actions with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. We maintain great relationships with the New Jersey regulators and other state and federal regulators.

Recognizing the Letter

Unfortunately, not long after, Prince tweeted the following:

Late Monday evening, Block Fi received an order from the New Jersey Bureau of Securities regarding Block Fi Interest Account (FIA) operations in the state of New Jersey… We remain fully operational for our existing clients in New Jersey.

As it stands, Block Fi must end all relationships with new customers in New Jersey beginning July 22 of this year.

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