Facebook Makes its First Blockchain Acquisition, Coinmama Expands to 8 New US States

It was a long time coming. Facebook, with its secretive but ambitious blockchain project, has made its first acquisition in the blockchain space. The social media giant is reported to have acquired Chainspace in a deal considered to be an acqui-hire. Coinmama, a platform that allows users to buy digital assets using debit and credit cards is offering its services to eight new states in the US. Kraken cryptocurrency exchange has acquired British derivative trading platform Crypto Facilities in a “nine-figure” deal worth at least $100 million.

Experts: bitcoin could surge by 84 percent this year

Anyone who has been in the crypto space knows how the current situation is in terms of price. The crypto winter is getting colder and the forecasts by the so-called experts haven’t offered any relief at all. The time of talking, as some would argue, is long gone. There is only space for innovation, mainstream adoption, and the attraction of institutional investors.

Amid the bear market and modest predictions, some analysts think that Bitcoin’s value can increase by as much 84 percent in 2019, according to data compiled by Finder.com.au from a panel of experts.

Bitcoin reached surpassed all expectations in December 2017 when it reached an all-time high of almost $20,000 before the crash began. The number one digital asset has shed more than 70 percent of its value since then.

Ben Ritchie, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Digital Capital Management believes that Bitcoin has the potential to finish off the year trading at $950.

“Two things to look out for in 2019 will be whether we will see decoupling of the cryptocurrencies, as to date they have trended in a relatively similar manner,” said Ritchie before predicting a slow and steady rise this year.

Fred Schebesta, the co-founder of both Finder.com.au and HiveEx.com said millennials are accustomed to digital technology and this is the main reason why they find it easy to invest in cryptocurrencies.

Crypto exchange Kraken raises $100 million from customers and acquires a British derivates trading firm

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken announced on Feb. 4 via a blog post that it has secured a regulated British derivatives trading platform Crypto Facilities. The financial details of the deal are sketchy but the exchange says that it paid nine figures. The press statement further added that this is Kraken’s largest acquisition and one of the largest deals in their entire crypto market.

For now, it is safe to say that the deal is worth at least $100 million.

“I’m thrilled to welcome the Crypto Facilities team into the Kraken family. We are excited to introduce eligible clients to these industry leading futures and index products.  Over the coming months, our teams will continue to enhance and expand these offerings. We’ve got great stuff in store for traders and institutional clients in 2019,” said Jesse Powell, the CEO of Kraken.

Crypto Facilities was the first regulated company in the crypto industry to list futures on a number of a number of cryptocurrencies that include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple’s XRP, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. The firm also boasts being one of the leading cryptocurrency index providers.

The acquisition further cements Kraken’s commitment to providing its clients with innovative products and services in line with its core spot exchange and white glove Over-the-counter (OTC) service.

This is good news for eligible Kraken customers who “will gain access to futures on six cryptocurrency pairs, providing a highly efficient way to trade and hedge cryptocurrency in any market environment.”

Crypto Facilities will continue to operate from its London offices where it is under the regulation of Britain’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Kraken has previously acquired a number of crypto firms that include Coinsetter, Carvitex, CleverCoin, Glidera, and CryptoWatch.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, the crypto exchange also stated that it is on the verge of raising $100 million from its larger customers. More details are yet to come and we will keep you posted.

Facebook acquires blockchain smart contracts firm Chainspace

Facebook reportedly has a ‘top-secret’ blockchain division that keeps its cards close to its chest. The company is slowly making big steps in the crypto industry after it was previously reported that Facebook is planning to launch a stablecoin cryptocurrency in India.

It has now surfaced that Facebook has made its first acquisition in the block space, further confirming that the tech giant has interests in the crypto industry.

Cheddar reported on Feb. 4 that Facebook has acquired Chainspace, a firm specializing in developing smart contracts for facilitating payment. Chainspace was founded by a small team of researchers from University London College.

According to Chainspace’s whitepaper published in August 2017, the firm is working on using blockchain technology to improve the speed of transactions. So far, blockchain transactions are still way too slow for traditional systems like Visa.

It has emerged that a number of researchers (possibly four or five) behind Chainspace’s white paper have been tapped by Facebook in what is known as acqui-hire in the Silicon Valley tech hub.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the hires but did not divulge any further information relating to specific tasks or long-term goals.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share,” said the spokesperson.

Facebook’s blockchain division has a headcount of 40+ and is led by David Marcus, the former president of PayPal.

Australia’s top financial watchdog approves 246 cryptocurrency exchanges

A part of the crypto’s price plunge in early 2018 is as a result of scuffles with regulators. However, the landscape is changing as lawmakers, regulators, and some other stakeholders are slowly coming to grip with the emerging market, reported ABC.

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the country’s top financial intelligence regulator has now officially licensed 246 crypto exchanges – a development some claim to be a very important step in the adoption of cryptocurrencies.

The cryptocurrency industry has long suffered from legitimacy problems.

Last year, the country made changes to its anti-money laundering and finance counter-terrorism laws that mandated cryptocurrency exchanges to register with AUSTRAC.

The documents in ABC’s possession indicate that the AUSTRAC investigated 11 exchanges since April last year. Two exchanges were refused registration by the regulatory agency although no details were shared about the rejections.

Exchanges were required to comply with AUSTRAC’s rules and were given until October to do so.

The early players in the crypto space were highly suspicious of regulation but many believe that regulation is an important part of the industry’s revolution.

Bit Mon Ex partners with Bittrex to launch a digital asset trading platform in Mongolia

Bit Mon Ex LLC has partnered with US-based cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex to launch a new digital asset trading platform in Mongolia. The deal will see Bit Mon Ex leveraging Bittrex’s state-of-the-art technology to provide its clients with a secure, reliable, and advanced trading option.

Bit Mon Ex boosts being Mongolia’s first platform to offer the country’s residents global trading markets and a gateway to the necessary volume and liquidity for trading. The new platform will initially serve the residents of Mongolia although there are future plans to expand into other Asian territories.

The new partnership allows Bit Mon Ex to have access to all the digital assets listed on both Bittrex and Bittrex International. Bit Mon Ex has a lot to do as a result of the deal and this includes management of the new platform, marketing, provision of customer support, compliance, customized development, and looking after customer operations.

“Our mission at Bit Mon Ex is to create more innovation and economic freedom to enable Mongolian companies to compete on equal footing on a global scale. Our platform strongly focuses on security and customer service, so we are particularly excited to partner with Bittrex to bring their world-class service and reputation to our local Mongolian market,” said Unenburen Ulziiburen, the chairman of Bit Mon Ex.

Australia’s crypto exchange Independent Reserve get insurance coverage

An Australian cryptocurrency exchange Independent Reserve announced on Feb. 4 that it has become the first crypto exchange in the country to secure insurance coverage for its clients.

The insurance policy underwritten by Lloyd’s of London insures against theft or loss of digital assets held in the exchange’s trading account. The policy does not provide any coverage for any losses resulting from market volatility, identity fraud, or hacks.

The founder and CEO of Independent Reserve said, “Institutions in Australia and overseas are cautious with regards to investing in cryptocurrencies and issues relating to regulation, price volatility, and security are explored in depth.”

If anything happens, the exchange’s customers will be compensated for any loss they incur in their crypto holdings. Founded in 2013, the exchange allows its customers to buy, sell, and trade a number of digital currencies including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, etc.

Coinmama expands its services to 8 more US states

Coimama, a Slovak-based service that allows entities to buy Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies with a credit card, Visa, and Mastercard announced on Feb. 4 via a blog post that it is expanding its services to 8 more states in the United States.

“From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream Waters, you can now find Coinmama in even more US states than before,” reads the introduction of the blog post.

The new states that can access Coinmama’s services are Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. Coinmama currently offers its services to 41 US states.

Coinmama users in these 41 states are able to buy six different digital assets – Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, etc. – through a debit card or credit card. Verified users are eligible to buy digital assets worth $15,000 with a credit card.

Coinmama has a global community of 1.3 million people and the service is found in over 200 countries and territories.

Coinmama was founded in 2013 with the belief that the people should be in control of their own economy. Since then, the exchange “has always strived to provide global access to cryptocurrency by providing an easy and safe way to buy crypto using your credit or debit card.”

The SEC wants eyes on leading blockchain ledgers

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is planning to have eyes on the transactions taking place on leading blockchain ledgers.

According to the announcement, the SEC doesn’t know how to do this and has only issued a request for information that might help the regulatory agency to achieve the results it is looking for.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is issuing this sources sought notice as a means of conducting market research to determine the availability and technical capability of large and small businesses to provide blockchain data to support the SEC’s efforts to monitor risk, improve compliance, and inform Commission policy with respect to digital assets,” says SEC.

The SEC did not specify the blockchain ledger it will be investigating but data from BitInfoCharts show that XRP, Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ethereum Classic, and Dogecoin recently had the leading transaction volumes.

In December last year, the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a pre-solicitation document indicating the government’s interest in tracking transactions facilitated by privacy-coins.

Bitfury and Common Foundation partner to launch mining operations in Paraguay

One of the world’s leading full-service blockchain technology companies Bitfury Group announced on Jan. 31 that it is partnering with South Korea’s Common Foundation to open transaction centers in Paraguay.

This partnership is as a result of the Golden Goose initiative – Common Foundation’s initiative to expand blockchain technology in South America.

Sandra Otazú Vera, a senior staff attorney in Paraguay and advisor to Commons Foundation said Paraguay is exploring various ways which the South American country could use blockchain technology to benefits its citizens.

“Paraguay is exploring creative ways to use emerging technologies, like blockchain and cryptocurrencies, to benefit their economy and their citizens, and this partnership with strategic allies like Commons Foundation and Bitfury will provide the infrastructure that enables them to advance those efforts,” she said.

The two companies are planning to build transaction data centers using Bitfury’s BlockBox AC mobile datacenters. The operations at these sites will be powered by clean energy from two hydroelectric power plants. Paraguay only consumes nearly half of the energy produced by these two electrical plants.

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