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Emphatic Return of Crypto Bulls: Bitcoin Surpasses $3,600 and Altcoins See Major Gains

Bitcoin and its cousins are known for their volatility, wild price swings, and surprises. Today (Feb. 8), the crypto market reminded people what it is all about when Bitcoin orchestrated one of the largest intraday recoveries in recent times.

Bitcoin traded just below $3,400 in the early hours of the day but surprised many when it surged to as high $3,695 in a matter of hours. The price has since retreated to $3,662 but this has already made a couple of investors happy.

Bitcoin has been struggling since the beginning of the year and threatened to dip below $3,100. Some analysts have predicted that it will tank even further but the latest rally may at least, delay that. The one question that remains is how long the price surge holds.

Altcoins are also in the green with Litecoin, now the fourth largest coin by market cap registering a massive 31 percent gain. Litecoin’s rally was offset on Feb. 7 after the Litecoin Foundation announced that it was planning to implement Mimblewimble.

“The Litecoin Foundation has approached Beam about possible cooperation to implement Mimblewimble via Extension Blocks on Litecoin,” read an excerpt of the press statement.

All the assets in the top 100 list are in the green except for ODEM and the stablecoin USD Coin. Thanks to the rally, almost $10 billion has been pumped into the market in the last 24 hours.

Investing app Invstr launches cryptocurrency index to track 18 digital assets

Investing app Investr announced the launch of a cryptocurrency index to allow users to follow the cryptocurrency market.

The 18 digital assets that make up the Investr Crypto Index include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ether, Ethereum Classic, etc. The weights of the assets in the index will be rated based on their volatility rather than market capitalizations.

The performance of the cryptocurrencies on the crypto index will be reviewed quarterly. Stable assets will remain on the app and those that exhibit high levels of volatility will be removed. On the same token, the app will only add a new asset to the index if it displays a respectable level of price maturity.

“Retail investors want to know whether they should be invested in cryptocurrencies and what the impact of that investment will be on their portfolios. Traditional indices measure [the] impact on the asset class not an investor’s portfolio,” said Invstr CEO Kerim Derhalli.

“If you are a large fund manager you want to know what impact you will have on the market when you enter or exit an asset class. This is not a relevant consideration for smaller investors who want to know what the impact will be on their portfolios. The Invstr Crypto Index addresses this by using weightings that optimize risk-reward based on the volatility of the constituent assets,” added Derhalli.

Donuts Inc. co-founder leads a $1.2 million investment round in stablecoin issuer Stably

Stably, the issuer of the StableUSD (USDS) stablecoin announced on Feb. 7 that it has raised $1.2 million from high net worth individuals in the Pacific Northwest in series A round of financing led by Donuts Inc. co-founder Paul Stahura.

This latest rounding of financing takes the amount raised so far by the firm since its launch to $1.7 million. Stably plans to use the funding to expand its marketing campaign and further the development of its products.

The USDS is pegged one-to-one with the USD. It is beneficial for crypto traders who can use the stablecoin to preserve their holdings during market volatility. Stablecoins were generally created to solve the high volatility associated with the crypto market.

The stablecoin has a clear mechanism. When a user purchases one USDS for $1, the firm mints one digital coin and releases it into circulation. If a user gives back 1 USDS, Stably returns $1 to the user and removes a single coin from circulation.

The company is listed on two respected exchanges in the crypto space – Binance and Bittrex.

“With our recent launch on Binance, we are proving that Stably is capable of competing with the larger players in the space, with a leaner but talented team. We have achieved a great deal in our first year, and plan to continue to expand to more exchanges, provide more liquidity, and expand on the use cases for stablecoins,” said Stably CEO Kory Hoang.

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Bitcoin hashrate hits new 3-month high

Bitcoin’s hashrate or the computing power of the network has reached new high levels last seen in November last year. At the same time, the Bitmain’s hashrate has fallen to its 16-month low.

Data from Blockchain.com indicated on Feb. 7 that the Bitcoin network has reached 50 quintillion hashes per second.

The rise in the hashrate is an indication that new miners are entering the space after the mining difficulty dropped by 1.5 percent at the end of last month. The mining difficulty increased by 10 percent at the beginning of the year for the first time in months. The hashrate was beginning to show signs of stability after declining in November.

If Max Keiser, a Wall Street veteran is right, then the price of Bitcoin could be going up. “Price follows hashrate and hashrate chart continues its 9-year bull market,” said Keiser.

The dominance of Bitmain – through its Antpool and BTC.com mining pools – has been shrinking. The two pools once accounted for more than 40 percent of the network hashrate which has now declined to less than 30 percent.

This is viewed by many as a good thing because it improves decentralization and the network’s security and most importantly, it reduces the possibility of a 51 percent network attack.

Bithumb Global launches OTC desk under the Ortus brand

South Korea’s cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has officially launched its Over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk to cater to institutional investors under the Ortus brand. The OTC desk is described as a “block deal, matchmaking service.”

Only institutions that successfully complete the platform’s rigorous onboarding process will have access to the platform.

Director Rahul Khanna said, ”Institutions trading digital assets need to open accounts at exchanges and OTC desks around the world; however, there is no real solution for an aggregated liquidity provider or a trusted interdealer where Institutions can trade these assets. To fill this market gap, Ortus will operate to allow institutions to buy and sell digital assets through a network of global liquidity providers and benefit from a competitive and best price execution service.”

The SEC and CFTC issue warning to investors

The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIED) and the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Office of Customer Education and Outreach have issued a warning to investors about fraudulent claims that the agencies have endorsed certain digital asset projects.

The SEC says that the fraudsters use false claims to attract investors to their projects and inflate the prices of digital assets.

Some of the false claims made by the fraudsters include:

  •         Digital asset promoted using the seals of the two agencies
  •         Claims that agency officials may be working or affiliated with certain digital asset projects
  •         Having knowledge of the SEC’s future ruling in relation to financial products that derive their value from digital assets

“Be skeptical of anyone attempting to sell you digital assets, or any investment, that makes claims about future SEC or CFTC actions,” the SEC warned the public.

Bakkt’s parent ICE announces record-breaking earnings

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of the NYSE and the cryptocurrency trading platform Bakkt reported a record-breaking $1.3 billion in net revenue in Q4 last year, 14 percent higher than the previous year.

The strong earnings come at a time when the company is waiting to launch Bakkt pending approval from the CFTC. Bakkt was initially scheduled to launch in November last year but was postponed to Jan. 24 this year. However, the launch date was pushed back again due to the U.S partial government shutdown that went on to become the longest in history.

ICE’s chief financial officer Scott Hill said the company’s strong income generation will support several key strategic initiatives such as the launch of Bakkt, mortgages, fixed income, etc.

“Our investment in Bakkt will generate $20 million to $25 million of expense based upon the run rate in the first quarter. We will update you on progress at Bakkt and the level of investment as we move through the year. We delivered another record year in 2018, and we have momentum entering 2019,” said Hill.

ICE’s announcement of Bakkt was welcomed by the crypto community who saw it as another step closer to legitimacy and recognition from mainstream financial companies.

In the run-up to the launch, Bakkt is making new key hires. The crypto platform has hired two new directors – Erik Haas and Rachel Ford.

Haas, who spent nine years working at ICE is the platform’s new director of compliance. Ford joins Bakkt from Techstars and has been appointed as the strategic operations manager. The firm recently hired executives with finance and tech backgrounds.

Be in the know

U.S wholesaler H & M now accepts crypto payments

America’s wholesaler H & M announced on Feb. 8 that it now accepts payments in cryptocurrencies. The accepted digital assets are Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin Diamond (BCD), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Zcoin (XZC).

The new payment service was made in partnership with Chimpion, a crypto e-commerce platform. H & M has been in business for more than 20 years and it is a good thing that old-time businesses are embracing new technology in finance.

“Accepting cryptocurrency payments allows us to share that expertise with even more clients by removing many of the barriers that made it difficult to sell internationally before. What sold us was the settlement system, which allows us to convert crypto payments to a USD equivalent right away,” said H & M founder and CEO Herb Needham.

Cointelligence launches a rating system for cryptocurrency exchanges

Cointelligence, a firm that provides data research and analysis services for investors announced on Feb. 8 that it is launching a new cryptocurrency exchange rating system.

The launch of the new rating system is inspired by the success of its rating system for initial coin offerings (ICOs) and security token offerings (STOs).

Cointelligence CEO and founder On Yavin said, “We looked around the industry and we didn’t see anyone really doing this. Given the number of hacks and exit scams the exchange industry has seen, we felt this was an important tool to protect the community.”

The exchanges will be rated on accessibility and usability, financial benefit, team, and risk. The firm promises impartial and accurate reviews.

Crypto hedge fund founder: Bitcoin may be better than gold

Bitcoin has been referred to as the digital gold of our time. Some investors see it as the ultimate insurance against any disasters triggered by irresponsible behavior by governments.

Speaking on Feb. 7 at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit in Grand Cayman, Travis Kling, the founder and CIO of crypto hedge fund Ikigai Asset Management said, “There is a really good chance we have something better than gold.”

The cryptocurrency market has lost more than $600 billion since reaching its peak in January last year. However, many firms still believe that digital assets are yet to unleash their true potential.

The privately-owned investment manager Morgan Creek Capital Management also believes in the potential of digital assets.

The asset manager is launching a crypto fund that will soon complete its fundraising round. The founder and CEO of Morgan Creek, Mark Yusko believes that the Bitcoin protocol has the potential to become of the largest networks in the world.

“We believe bitcoin will be one of, if not the, largest network on the planet. We are in the middle of the greatest wealth opportunity … It’s beyond any of our imaginations,” said Yusko.

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