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Cryptocurrencies Take Another Blow, Acquisitions and Partnerships Hold the Fort Amid Bear Market

This is the second consecutive week that the crypto market has seen price declines on Monday. It is a blood Monday as the majority of the digital assets are in the red. Bitcoin is down 2.3 percent in the last 24 hours and XRP is in the same boat with a 2.32 percent price drop. EOS is the biggest loser in the top 10 list after plunging more than 8 percent to trade at $3.25. The stablecoin Tether is the only digital asset in the top list that has registered a minor spike of 0.22 percent. The crypto market has lost nearly $4 billion in the last 24 hours.

Goldman-Sachs backed Circle closes the acquisition of SeedInvest

Crypto finance company Circle announced on Mar. 4 via a Coinbase blog that it has finalized the acquisition of SeedInvest, a leading equity crowdfunding platform in the U.S. and operator of registered broker-dealer. The announcement was made after Circle got a seal of approval for the deal by the self-regulatory organization the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Circle initially announced the ongoing acquisition in October last year and stated that the deal would enable Circle to expand SeedInvest’s services to support digital assets. The deal was put on hold pending approval from the FINRA. SeedInvest claims to have funded over 220 companies and has over 260,000 users.

Circle stated that SeedInvest will continue to function as normal except that it has additional support behind it. Circle welcomed SeedInvest’s employees to their fold. Unconfirmed reports that surfaced in the past week suggest that Circle is seeking to raise $250 million of funding in the form of debt and equity. Circle is one of the leading names in the crypto sector and is developing a habit of inking good acquisitions and partners. The firm acquired Poloniex last year and partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to launch the USDC stablecoin.

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Electronic brokerage firm for sophisticated crypto investors gets financial backing from Pantera Capital, Yale-backed Paradigm Fund

Tagomi Holdings, Inc., an electronic brokerage for sophisticated cryptocurrency investors announced a new funding round led by Yale and Sequoia-backed Paradigm Fund with the participation from other notable investors including Pantera Capital. The firm already has a strong set of investors whose line up already include Founders Fund, Collaborative Fund, Joe Lonsdale, Digital Currency Group, etc. The latest round of funding comes after the firm announced its public launch in December last year and has already raised $28 million to date. The financing round was open to the platform’s clients. The firm raised $16 million in the previous funding round.

“We view the development of an electronic agency offering as a critical step in empowering funds like Pantera to have complete control and anonymity when transacting in digital assets. We believe it is a key component to carrying out our fiduciary duty in achieving best execution for our fund,” said Pantera Capital chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer Dan Morehead.

Tagomi plans to use the funds to grow its operations and support in order to meet customer demand. The firm serves a diverse set of clients with a broad set of goals. Tagomi co-chief executive officer Greg Tusar, who previously served as Goldman Sachs’ Global Head of Electronic Trading, expressed his excitement after partnering with investors who have a first-hand account of using the Tagomi platform.

“We are excited to partner with investors who have experienced first-hand, the frustrations around the lack of infrastructure, and work toward our shared vision of building next-generation robust trading technology so that clients can focus solely on developing their strategies,” said Tusar.

Y Combinator’s president sees cryptocurrency as the native currency of the unbanked

Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, the largest seed accelerator in the U.S. has praised cryptocurrencies and believes that they have the potential to address social and financial challenges affecting the unbanked. He believes that cryptocurrencies have an important use case for poor people. Speaking at Tyler Cowen’s “Conversations with Tyler” podcast, Altman did not specify which cryptocurrency has the potential to be adopted by a large number of people. He focused on the entire industry and the potential impact of digital assets.

“I can imagine a cryptosystem where you see something that is more powerful than any government on Earth where you actually figure out a way to give every person on Earth a coin, and then you make this gigantic network that everyone believes in, and you can do redistribution outside the control of any government,” he said.

QuadrigaCX scandal takes another twist: empty cold storage wallets

New information coming in every day shows that the QuadrigaCX scandal is far from over. After several weeks of speculation, the court-appointed auditor general of the QuadrigaCX has finally revealed the addresses to the offline Bitcoin wallets of the struggling exchange. 

According to the report published on Mar. 1 by EY, the cold storage wallets are empty save for Bitcoins worth $400,000 that were transferred last month. This means that approximately $100 million in user funds is still missing. This comes after the exchange announced in January that it owes its customers cryptocurrencies worth $134 million. The exchange claimed at the time that it had lost access to the funds following the death of its founder Gerald Cotten who suddenly passed away in December last year.

EY has so far identified six Bitcoin addresses and five of them only have a balance of 104 Bitcoin ($400,000). The six known addresses are Bitcoin wallets – there is no word on wallets for other cryptocurrencies such as Ether, Litecoin, and more. It was previously revealed last week that the late Cotten may have stored some of the users’ funds on external exchanges such as Kraken. There will be many twists and turns to this saga as more information continues to surface. The exchange’s customers are in a for a long ride as it seems that investigations will carry on for a longer period.

Venezuela: government launches crypto remittance services

Venezuela, a South American country reeling from political and economic crises has announced the launch of crypto-focused remittance service. The new service was launched by the country’s crypto activities watchdog, the Superintendency of Cryptoassets and Related Activities.

The crypto regulator also announced the monthly limit and the fees per transaction. The service is only open to sending Bitcoin and Litecoin.“The cryptocurrencies that can be used to send [remittances] are Bitcoin and Litecoin,” said the country’s crypto regulator through its website. 

After the confirmation of the crypto transaction, the receiver can only collect the equivalent of the sent funds in Sovereign Bolivars. Users are allowed to receive up 10 Petros per month but in fiat. The Petrol is the cryptocurrency launched by the South American country as a way of evading U.S. sanctions. It is backed by the country’s vast mineral resources and President Nicolas Maduro claims to have raised billions during its initial coin offering. Those who receive money through this service are required to be natural persons of legal age residing in Venezuela but senders can be outside the country. As the woes beleaguering the country worsen, Maduro realizes that cryptocurrencies can offer a lifeline while the country tries to engineer an economic and political comeback.

U.S. State of Ohio will continue with its cryptocurrency tax program, says Treasury

The U.S. State of Ohio became the first state in the country to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for taxes. This was an innovative idea and many believed that it would attract more private and public companies and help fuel the adoption of digital assets. But only two companies have used the system to pay for their taxes since its launch in November last year. However, the state treasury is determined to keep the program open despite the small number of companies using it. Ohio’s new Treasurer Robert Sprague believes that there is nothing wrong with the program but companies are reluctant to use it because it is a new program. “I don’t think its an issue with the program. I just think it’s a very, very new program in a very new space that everybody – the private sector and the public sector – are trying to figure out,” said Sprague. 

The tax payment is offered through a third party – Atlanta-based BitPay. Individuals or companies who want to use the service visit a dedicated online portal where they make the payment in cryptocurrencies. The digital currency is paid to BitPay who then convert it to fiat currency and pay it to the State Treasurer’s Office. The service was launched by Josh Mandel, the former pro-Bitcoin state treasurer who describes Bitcoin “as a legitimate form of currency.”

Germany: Earn cryptocurrency for drinking beer

Germany, the world’s fourth largest producer of beer now wants to pay people for drinking beer. Drinkers can earn cryptocurrencies thanks to a new crypto project called Beercoin. The coins are mined through scanning a unique code on a bottle cap using an app to generate coins, reported online publication Express on Mar. 4. The acquired cryptocurrency can be used to buy beer (obviously), merchandise or convert it to cash. Speaking to a German tech site Crypto Tree, Beercoin’s founder and CEO Tobias Meyer said,“The end user should be able to easily participate in a cryptocurrency, without having to bring the necessary technical expertise. Furthermore, they do not have to expose themselves to speculative risks, but can simply buy a beer.”

The startup is planning to create 77.48 billion Beercoins which will be used within the ecosystem for the next decade by an estimated 10 million users. The startup arrived at these figures after making calculations based on the average Germany beer consumption. The significance of it all is that anything can be tokenized.

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin claims that ETH addressed Bitcoin’s limited functionality

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin stated during an interview published on Feb. 28 by Business Insider that he created Ethereum as a solution to Bitcoin’s limited functionality issue. During the interview, Buterin said that Bitcoin is more like a plot key calculator that serves one purpose and does it well too. However, he sees Ethereum as a smartphone that can run apps which can do almost anything, including having an app for a plot key calculator.

“So [what I did is] basically taking that same kind of [smartphone] idea of increasing the power of the system by making it more general purpose and applying it to blockchains,” said Buterin.

Stablecoin Tether to launch on Justin Sun’s Tron network

Tether, the issuer of the Tether stablecoin USDT has partnered with Tron to launch stablecoin on the blockchain protocol. Tether was launched in October 2014 and was issued via the Omni Layer Protocol and on Ethereum’s network, making it compatible with ERC20 standard. In the announcement, Tether said it is taking the next step of its journey by introducing USDT on the Tron blockchain. The TRC20 based stablecoin enables interoperability with Tron-based protocols and Dapps. Tether’s chief executive officer Jean-Louis der Velde expressed his excitement at the collaboration with Tron.

“We are pleased to announce this collaboration with the Tron Foundation. This integration underlines our commitment to furthering innovation within the cryptocurrency space as we continue to anticipate the needs and demands of the digital asset community,” said Velde. The founder of Tron Justin Sun was equally pleased with the collaboration and as usual, took to Twitter to make the announcement. “We are making big steps to achieve decentralized finance with Tether to TRON will soon have its own stablecoin! This will benefit our entire ecosystem and make it easier for institutions to access the TRON blockchain,” tweeted Sun.

Tron has positioned itself as a direct competitor of Ethereum and they have made a number of important acquisitions in the past. The platform successfully launched its main network last year and continually sees a growing number of users on its platform. Tron’s (TRX) is currently the tenth-largest cryptocurrency be market capitalization. TRX is down 2.41 percent in the past 24 hours.

$20 million crypto project with fake founders

The crypto landscape is not for the faint-hearted. It’s either the bear market, a hacked exchange, or as in this case, fake claims. A crypto project that may have raised more than $20 million through a referral-based marketing scheme has potentially been giving false information about its founding team, reported CoinDesk. 

The crypto project, BHB, was launched on Dec. 2 last year and claims to offer peer-to-peer lending services based on the Ethereum network. The project was accused of operating a pyramid scheme and it has been revealed that the people behind the project have been providing false information. Information obtained from the web shows that the founding team consists of three members – blockchain expert David Chen, financial engineer Bobby White, and product designer Gregory Moss. It has emerged that the image used for Bobby White is identical to that of an Economics professor at a local university named Alexander White. The image of Gregory Moss is the same as the one for another professor at a different university also named Gregory Moss. The two professors were contacted and they both denied affiliation with the project. Professor White said, “Any use of my photo for such purposes, including attached to the name ‘Bobby White,’ is fraudulent.”

Crypto startups hold discussions with the IMF on fintech

Some of the leaders of crypto projects have held talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on fintech and the future of finance. A panel of 19 leaders including Ripple CEO and co-founder Brad Garlinghouse, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, Chain CEO Adam Ludwin, Blockchain.com president Marco Santori, and Digital Asset board member Blythe Masters have held two meetings with IMF chief Christine Lagarde behind closed doors. The recordings from the session are yet to be released. The meeting between the IMF and the crypto community is an indication that the international financial organization is well aware of the impact of the digital asset sector. Lagarde, a French lawyer has previously come in support of cryptocurrencies after she urged central banks to explore central bank digital currencies. The IMF chief warned banks that they need to catch up with technology and be wary of the impact of crypto companies such as Ripple and Circle.

“So that’s where I see changes happening now. If you think of Circle, and Ripple and all those – that’s where they are active and helpful,” said Lagarde.

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