Bitcoin Buying Pressure Increases as Bitcoin Holds Above $4,000

The CEO of cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift has called crypto a “harsh mistress” as the majority of stakeholders in the highly volatile market do their best to remain warm in the midst of the crypto winter. The exchange has laid off a third of its headcount as it navigates its way around the tough times. Despite this, there are indications that Over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trading desks are experiencing a surge in Bitcoin buying interest. Ripple, one of the first blockchain companies in the crypto world is enjoying some bit of sunshine after the recent onboarding of 13 new clients, taking its clientele base to over 200.

Bitcoin’s price remains above the $4,000 despite a 0.72 percent slide in the past 24 hours. The NEO token – sometimes referred to as China’s Ethereum is up 7 percent in the last 24 hours to claim the 16th position by market cap. Trading at $9.43, NEO is up from $6.38 since Dec. 10, 2018. The crypto market remains a mixed board as digital assets recorded losses and gains of varying degrees in the last 24 hours. The market cap is slightly down in the last 24 hours.

Wall Street Crypto OTC Trading Desks Experience Bitcoin Bulls

Wall Street’s crypto trading desks could be the silver lining that the industry needs as it tries to recover from a battering 2018 that shed off more than $600 billion from the market.

There is a surge in buying pressure across a number of Over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks. The bullish sentiment is a sharp reversal from the tumultuous environment of last year. OTC desks are an important part of the crypto ecosystem as they oversee billions in institutional trading on a daily basis.

OTCs also tend to give a better picture of where the market is going from an institutional point of view because they facilitate a high portion of the largest trades.

Cumberland, one of the largest OTC crypto firms tweeted on Jan. 8 that their buy/sell ratio is skewed in favor of buying.

“Desk Update: Historically, our OTC trading is relatively balanced between buyers and sellers. Over the last week, our OTC buy/sell ratio (by notional value) has increased approximately 60% towards counterparties buying,” tweeted Cumberland.

Michael Moro, the CEO of Genesis Trading said his firm had experienced more buying orders at the start of the year in comparison to late last year when crypto investors where selling for several reasons such as tax purposes.

In an email to The Block, Moro said, “I’ll echo Cumberland’s sentiments. Year-end saw quite a bit of selling for numerous reasons (e.g. tax loss selling and liquidation of crypto donations). As the year turned, the selling pressure from such activities has subsided, and we have seen more buy-side interest pick up.”

Robinhood crypto exchange and stock trading eyes expansion into the UK

The U.S based commission-free Stock trading app and cryptocurrency exchange Robinhood is quietly hiring for a new London office as the startup eventually plans to launch in the UK, TechCrunch reported.

According to sources with information about London’s fintech industry, Robinhood is recruiting for operations, marketing/PR, recruitment, customer support, compliance, and product, including product design.

If the exchange has any hope of operating in the UK, then compliance is an important factor as it has to apply to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to get a license. Robinhood has not yet commented on its UK plans.

Robinhood was initially a free stock trading app but gatecrashed into the crypto sector early last year and allowed the traders to buy and sell BTC and ETH without paying any commission fees. The platform also allows investors to track information of at least 14 cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, Ripple, Monero and more.

Ripple signs up more than 200 customers worldwide

California-based blockchain solutions for payments Ripple announced on Jan. 8 that the startup has surpassed more than 200 customers worldwide on its RippleNet platform after 13 more financial institutions signed up on the company’s payment network.

The 13 latest partners of Ripple include Euro Exim Bank, SendFriend, JNFX, FTCS, Ahli Bank of Kuwait, Transpaygo, BFC Bahrain, ConnectPay, GMT, WorldCom Finance, Olympia Trust Company, Pontual/USEND, and Rendimento.

The financial institutions count on Ripple for its XRP liquidity and leverage the company’s “modern APIs for faster, lower cost, and more transparent payments.” The company currently operates in at least 40 countries spread across six continents.

Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of Ripple said the company is onboarding between 2 – 3 customers per week.

“In 2018, nearly 100 financial institutions joined RippleNet, and we’re now signing two—sometimes three—new customers per week. We also saw a 350 percent increase last year in customers sending live payments, and we’re beginning to see more customers flip the switch and leverage XRP for on-demand liquidity.”

He added that “At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure our customers can provide excellent, efficient cross-border payments experiences for their customers, wherever they are in the world.”

Ripple is currently enjoying a good run after it was recently added by Bitrue and Binance cryptocurrency exchanges as the base currency.

Gibraltar Stock Exchange’s digital asset exchange adds Ripple

It may be crypto winter but Ripple is enjoying a bit of sunshine. The Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), the crypto arm of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSX) has announced the addition of Ripple (XRP) to its Digital Asset Exchange (GBX-DAX).

The GBX-DAX prides itself in being built on its parent company’s institutional grade best practices and good governance.

“Ripple is a major player within the blockchain industry. In ways similar to our work at the GSX Group, it aims to reshape the old methods of finance and banking, transforming payments through blockchain technology. XRP is a globally traded token and by joining the GBX-DAX it further extends its liquidity and reach,” said Nick Cowan, the founder and managing director of GSX (Gibraltar Stock Exchange) Group Limited.

Cowen added that they were granted a full license by the country’s financial regulator in November last year and they are now working on listing new digital tokens on GBX-DAX.

“In November last year, we were granted a full license to operate by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) and, following this, we introduced insurance coverage for assets listed on the GBX-DAX. As we move into 2019, we plan to build on this momentum with new digital assets listed on the GBX-DAX, with Ripple as the first of these new tokens,” said Cowan.

Bitter frost of crypto winter as ShapeShift crypto exchange lays off 37 employees

The bitter frost of crypto winter has claimed its latest victims after the cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift laid off 37 employees – a third of its employees, according to a blog post published by the company’s founder and CEO, Erik Voorhees on Jan. 8.

“Today, we let 37 employees go, reducing the size of our team by a third. It’s a deep and painful reduction, mirrored across many crypto companies in this latest bear market cycle,” wrote Voorhees.

He pointed out the brutality of the crypto market is characterized by endless cycles of busts and booms. During the ascent of 2017, ShapeShift grew by 3,000 percent.

Apart from the sadness of letting go their employees, Voorhees wrote about the company’s mistakes, lessons learned, and the future ahead.

ShapeShift lacked focus and pulled their attention in too many directions. The company worked on several projects, plugins, and APIs still under development. These incurred financial costs to the exchange and changed their hiring priorities. He admitted that they diversified too soon.

After the first half of 2018, the company faced four critical issues:

  • People and structural issues
  • Legal issues
  • Customer issues
  • Financial issues.

“To that end, it is the confluence of these issues combined with our own lack of product focus that resulted in today’s layoff,” he explained the reasons for the layoff.

The company will take this difficult year with a new sense of focus. His hope and goal are that “the financial sovereignty becomes a pillar of 21st-century civilization, one of its most important advancements.”

Huobi officially launches its services in Japan

The world’s seventh-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume Huobi announced on Jan. 8 on Twitter that it has officially launched its services in Japan.

“We are pleased to announce that Huobi has officially launched in Japan! Follow @HuobiJapan for more news and updates,” tweeted Huobi Global.

Huobi Japan opened started trading on Jan. 8 and to celebrate the moment, the exchange is giving away Ripple (XRP) worth 500 Japanese Yen ($4.60) to new accounts.

Huobi is operational in 130 countries and has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. In December last year, the exchange laid off its underperforming staff and said that the job cuts had nothing to do with market conditions.

Last week, Japan’s self-regulatory body known as the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) welcomed five more cryptocurrency exchanges.

Nick Szabo: cryptocurrency reserves are a possibility

Nick Szabo, a computer scientist, legal scholar, and cryptographer considered by many to be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto gave a lengthy presentation about the history of currencies at Israel’s first Bitcoin Summit in Tel Aviv on Jan. 8.

Szabo said that he expects the use and adoption of cryptocurrencies to grow in countries and territories ravaged by conflicts or mismanagement of fiat currencies.

This has already happened before as Venezuelans and Argentines have shown a lot of interest in cryptocurrencies after the failure of their own government-issued currencies. Szabo further added that central banks may turn to cryptocurrencies to supplement their gold reserves.

“There’s going to be some situations where a central bank can’t trust a foreign central bank or government with their bonds for example,” he said.

He also hinted that cryptocurrencies may potentially become the next gold reserves. “The other problem with gold reserves is that they’re physically vulnerable. When the Nazis conquered countries in Europe, the first place they went to was a central bank’s gold reserves.”

Aside from his politically-inspired crypto predictions, Szabo said that this year will see major improvements and development in second-layer or off-chain solutions such as the Lightning Network.

Ukraine Central Bank official: Overregulation inhibits crypto development

Mikhail Vidyakin, an official of Ukraine’s central bank (NBU) spoke to a local news outlet LetKnow and claimed that overregulation is preventing Ukraine’s crypto market from reaching its true potential.

Vidyakin, the director of the strategy and reform department of NBU believes that there are too many institutions with the authority to regulate and oversee cryptocurrencies. At the moment, the NBU, the Ministry of Finance, and the National Securities Commission all have the powers to regulate the emerging industry.

He also said that his country needs a clear legal framework that regulates the crypto sector and provide better definitions as well. Vidyakin is in support of regulation that promotes the growth of the market.

In a roughly translated quote, he said, “I am in favor of regulation that will allow the market to develop. Fintech is a channel for the provision of financial services and banks must be open to this.”

European regulators call for collective crypto regulation

Two European regulators have separately called for cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO) rules at bloc level.

A report published on Jan. 9 by the European Banking Authority (EBA) says that cryptocurrency activities are not covered in the European Union (EU) financial laws yet these activities pose a risk and regulation needs to be put in place to protect investors. The EBA is the regulatory body of the EU.

The EBA has called the European Commission to carry out a detailed analysis to determine what regulatory steps to take at bloc level.

“The EBA’s warnings to consumers and institutions on virtual currencies remain valid. The EBA calls on the European Commission to assess whether regulatory action is needed to achieve a common EU approach to crypto-assets. The EBA continues to monitor market developments from a prudential and consumer perspective,” said EBA’s executive director Adam Farkas in a statement.

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