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Grayscale Launches Stellar Lumens Trust and Crypto Exchange ErisX Taps 2 Big Names in the Industry

Another typical day in the cryptocurrency sector. ErisX, a Chicago-based cryptocurrency exchange has landed Joe Lubin and Cris Conde to sit on the firm’s board of directors. Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange has made its 11th acquisition in a deal with Blockspring. Grayscale Investment Inc. launches Stellar Lumens Trust to give institutional investors exposure to Lumens (XLR), Stellar’s native currency.

Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin joins Chicago-based ErisX cryptocurrency exchange

One of the most powerful people in the crypto sector, Joe Lubin, the co-creator of Ethereum has joined Chicago-based cryptocurrency exchange ErisX as a board member, announced the company on Jan. 17.

The exchange which has the backing of Wall Street’s trading firms such as Virtu Financial, XR Trading, Susquehanna, and DRW also appointed Cris Conde, a financial technology entrepreneur to the company’s board of directors. Conde replaces Cliff Lewis who joined the board as an independent member last year.

Tom Chippas, the CEO of the firm said, “We are pleased to welcome Joseph and Chris to the ErisX Board. As two leaders in the digital asset space, ErisX will benefit from the unique perspectives they offer and the enthusiasm they bring to the space. We also want to thank Cliff for the significant guidance and support he has provided, including helping shape the digital asset spot and regulated futures market.”

Lubin has been in the crypto industry for some time and apart from being the co-founder of Ethereum, he is the founder and CEO of ConsenSys, an organization that builds infrastructure, applications, and services for the Ethereum network.

“I look forward to bringing my experience with decentralized technologies and digital assets to a model that will further democratize access to digital assets. 2019 is likely to be a breakthrough year for digital assets, and the exceptional ErisX team is poised to lead,” said Lubin.

Conde has a proven track record of working with startups. He co-founded Devon Systems which was eventually sold to SunGard in 1987. “My experience with FinTech start-ups has taught me to take notice when one is situated to make this big an impact on digital assets,” said Conde.

Blockspring team joins crypto exchange Coinbase

The largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S, Coinbase has acquired Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup Blockspring. The startup was founded in 2014 and develops tools for collecting and managing data from APIs.

“Joining Coinbase was a no-brainer for a number [of] reasons including its commitment to establishing an open financial system and the strength of its engineering team, led by Tim Wagner (formerly of AWS Lambda),” announced Blockspring in a blog post published on Jan. 14.

“Excited to share that the @Blockspring team is joining Coinbase to help build out our developer tools. They’ve built an impressive platform that connects hundreds of different APIs and we’re excited for them to continue their work here at Coinbase,” tweeted Wagner on Jan. 17.

The financial details of the deal remain unknown. Coinbase raised $300 million in a round of funding in 2018 and the Blockspring deal is the exchange’s 11th acquisition. The startup raised $3.4 million in a funding round backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Y Incubator, and SV Angel in 2015.

Although Blockspring is joining Coinbase, the startup will not be swallowed by the exchange but “will continue to operate as an independent company and our products will continue to operate for current and new customers as they always have.”

A fine line separates Tron and the Bitcoin bubble

One of the hottest cryptocurrencies at the moment, Tron, rekindles memories of a Bitcoin bubble that has left crypto investors reeling from losses. The crypto market is still very young and those involved in the space do not forget easily.

Tron’s native currency, TRX, has almost doubled in the past month. This is akin to many startups that surged in value before the markets plunged at the beginning of last year. The token was launched in 2017 but has grown to a market valuation of $1.6 billion, making it the ninth largest cryptocurrency, according to CoinMarketCap.

At the center of it all is Justin Sun, a 28-year old digital entrepreneur who has previously created a popular app in China. He then went on to develop Tron based on Ethereum’s code and used other startups’ white papers to write his own.

He is known for his desire to make his blockchain platform better than Ethereum. Others argue that Tron’s success is based on hype.

Sun reportedly acquired BitTorrent, the world’s largest file-sharing application for $120 million.

In an email to Bloomberg, Ryan Selkis, chief executive officer at researcher Messari Inc. said “A lot of people wrote off Tron as all hype/marketing and no substance, but they made a lot of noise with the BitTorrent acquisition, and now I think it’s an open question of whether they will be one of crypto’s most high profile ‘fake it til you make it’ success stories.”

Tron wants to turn BitTorrent’s user base of 100 million into cryptocurrency users and if this happens, the blockchain protocol might experience further growth.

Seattle-based companies partner to allow customers to buy Bitcoins at grocery stores

The advantage that fiat currency has over digital assets is the convenience for shoppers. A partnership of two Seattle companies makes it possible to buy food, drinks, and Bitcoin under one roof.

Supermarket coin counter Coinstar has partnered with Coinme, a cryptocurrency ATM maker to allow customers to buy Bitcoins in-store.

Coinstar has already implemented the service in several two supermarkets – Safeway and Albertsons in California, Texas, and Washington. The kiosks enable customers to buy Bitcoins worth $2,500 using cash only.

Once the transaction is complete, users are given a code which can be used on Coinme’s website to redeem the purchased Bitcoins.

Neil Bergquist, the CEO and co-founder of Coinme claims that their ATM service is thriving despite the bear market that has claimed many crypto companies and heads. “Our customers are leveraging bitcoin as a medium of exchange for remittances, a diversified store of value for their portfolio, or simply as a gift for that ‘crypto-curious’ family member,” said Bergquist in an email to Geekwire.

Thailand Stock Exchange apply for a digital asset exchange license

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) plans to apply for a license from the finance ministry to open a digital asset exchange this year, reported Bangkok Post on Jan. 17.

This is another boost of the crypto industry that has suffered lack of trust from mainstream financial companies who are yet to fully-recognize digital assets as an asset class.

Pattera Dilokrungthirapop, chairwoman of the Association of Securities Companies and vice-chairwoman of the SET’s board of governors said the bourse wants to join the bandwagon of the investment trend in digital assets.

Pattera said that securities companies that are a part of SET are planning to apply for licenses to become brokers and dealers for cryptocurrencies on the new exchange. The SET is also looking forward to working with its members to set up the new digital asset exchange.

If the plan goes ahead as planned, the SET will be counted among the few global stock exchanges that have created a digital asset exchange to function independently from a stock exchange.

Pattera says that the SET has an edge over digital asset exchanges because the former has large capital and trust.

“We [securities firms] are not in a hurry to enter the digital asset trade, as some companies are still managing their core businesses, while cryptocurrencies are just one of the [digital] asset classes where brokers can adapt their trading platforms to serve digital trading,” said Pattera.

She added that “Securities firms are currently waiting for the SET to apply for a license. For us, digital assets are expected to grow in the future as investors gain more understanding of this asset class.”

Grayscale Investments launches world’s first Stellar Lumens Trust

One of the global leaders in digital currency asset management Grayscale Investments Inc. announced on Jan. 17 the launch of Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust, the first investment platform that exposes high net individuals and institutional investors to Lumens (XLM), the native token on the Stellar network.

This marks the ninth single-asset investment product launched by Grayscale, which manages Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund, a diversified investment product that provides exposure based on the market valuations of digital currencies.

Developed by Jed McCaleb, the creator of Ripple, Stellar is a blockchain protocol designed for financial institutions, payment systems, and people scattered around the world.

Michael Sonnenshein, Managing Director of Grayscale said, “We are pleased to bring Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust to market and will continue to provide investors access to established blockchain projects with substantial traction and resources. Grayscale has established a leadership role in this emerging industry and the launch of this product will expand our coverage of the digital asset universe.”

Stellar is the largest cryptocurrency by market cap with a valuation of just over $2 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data. Stellar is trading at $0.10, 0.8 percent higher than it did in the last 24 hours. It is too early to conclude that the price gain is as a result of the Grayscale’s product launch.

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