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Visa Inc. Dips Full-throttle into Crypto, Another Startup Launches a Crypto Debit Card

Things are turning for the better in the crypto industry as traditional major companies are adopting blockchain technology one way or the other. Payments giant Visa Inc. has set up a cryptocurrency unit and is already looking for the right candidate to steer the company in the right direction. On the same note, IBM’s Blockchain World Wire has been launched in limited production. The Winklevoss Twins – Cameroon and Tyler – who are known for co-founding Gemini cryptocurrency exchange and suing Facebook founder, claim that Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency is “cool” but Bitcoin is better. Banking startup 2gether is gearing to launch a crypto debit card that allows users to buy goods and services using digital assets as if it was fiat.

Loss-making Overstock praises its crypto subsidiary tZero in the Q4 earnings report

Canadian online retailer and one of the early platforms to accept Bitcoin payments, Overstock.com, has vowed to return to profitability after making huge losses in 2018, the online platform said so in a Q4 earnings report published March 18.

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne said the losses were incurred as a result of some changes of strategy but plans are underway to reverse that.

“Our retail arm lost money last year because I gunned things in an attempt to create a conventional high-growth/money losing e-commerce business, but the losses were nauseating and we reverted back to the philosophy of profitability on which we built Overstock,” wrote Byrne in a letter addressing shareholders.

Despite suffering pre-tax losses of $12.6 million in the last quarter of last year, Byrne added that the platform has some blockchain projects under its belt that have shown potential.

“Our blockchain projects are some of the most significant and cutting edge in the world, and we are just reaching the point where our products are being introduced to the public. In particular, tZERO brought live a security token trading platform,” he added.

Early this month, Overstock.com’s cryptocurrency arm tZero saw backers reduce the amount of investment in the project.

Visa Inc. is dipping into the blockchain sector

America’s multinational financial services firm Visa Inc. is en route to creating a cryptocurrency unit despite initial reluctance. This is evidenced by its recent job posting in which the financial firm is looking for a technical product manager.

According to the job post, the giant corporation is seeking a person who is “deeply familiar with permissionless blockchain technology” and has “a close network of experts in the fast-moving cryptocurrency and fintech ecosystem.”

The company is looking for a product manager from a top-tier university who will be tasked with managing a product roadmap and collaborate with the relevant stakeholders across several organizations such as research and engineering.

The company is so far keeping its cards close to its chest and is not giving away any clue about its plans. This is exactly the same stance that Facebook has adopted – secrecy.

The latest development is in sharp contrast to the earlier stance taken by Visa’s CEO Alfred Kelly Jr. who said that the company has no interest in pursuing the new technology.

Several major companies are making U-turns and embracing the nascent technology. The message is clear to big companies: move along with the new technology or remain behind.

IBM’s Blockchain World Wide goes into limited production

America’s multinational company IBM announced that its highly-anticipated blockchain-based global payments network is going into limited production, referring to it as the new “financial rail” that facilitates cross-border settlements in near real-time.

IBM Blockchain World Wire is set to become the first blockchain-based network that integrates a number of functions such as payment messaging, settlement, and clearing on a single network. The firm says that integrating the new payment platform with other existing systems will reduce costs, increase transparency, and provide financial opportunities to all people.

IBM’s Blockchain general manager Marie Wieck says that the new platform improves remittances and cross-border payments.

“We’ve created a new type of payment network designed to accelerate remittances and transform cross-border payments to facilitate the movement of money in countries that need it most,” he said.

World Wire is built on Stellar’s protocol and will support settlements Stellar’ native token, the Stellar Lumen (XLM) and stablecoin pegged to the USD through a partnership with Stronghold.

According to IBM’s website:

“72 countries, 47 currencies, 44 banking endpoints, and more than 1081 unique currency trading pairs. IBM Blockchain World Wire is here.”

Bitcoin bull Mike Novogratz predicts a “higher move” for crypto market

It is now like a never-ending cycle. Prices of digital assets are declining periodically with slight moments of bullish trends. Analysts and experts then claim either a bearish or bullish run.

Mike Novogratz, a billionaire, BTC bull, and the founder of the crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital has come out of his shell to share his mind on the status quo of the crypto market. Novogratz’s comments come shortly after Tom Lee of Fundstrat gave a bullish outlook on the market.

Novogratz’s comments are a direct response to a Twitter poll by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao who asked his followers if the current trends point to a bearish or bullish run. More than 67 percent of those who took part in the poll said that we are in a bear cycle.

However, Novogratz begged to differ and pointed out that the market is trading sideways.

“Looks pretty sideways to me.  But basing. Next move higher,” tweeted Novogratz in response to Zhao.

Novogratz did not disclose when he thinks the next bull run will happen although Lee has already predicted it will happen in the next six months.

Bitcoin has traded above the crucial $4,000 mark for two consecutive days despite some fluctuations. Despite trading in this favorable region, Bitcoin has lost 0.22 percent of its value in the last 24 hours and the majority of the top 10 digital assets – save for Bitcoin Cash, Stellar, and Tether – are also in the red.

The market valuation has increased from $132.7 billion in the past one week to its current value of $139.5 billion.

Winklevoss twins: Facebook Coin is good but Bitcoin is better

Billionaire investors and co-founders of Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, Tyler and Cameroon Winklevoss, collectively known as the Winklevoss Twins are not worried that Facebook secret crypto project may be a Bitcoin killer.

In fact, the twins believe that Facebook Coin will likely have more impact in the world than Facebook ever did.

Speaking to the British publication The Telegraph at the annual SXSW film and festival music, the twins pointed out that Amazon outperformed companies such as Barnes and Noble before becoming the force it is today.

The twins, who began stashing Bitcoin when it was still worth $8 says that the crypto industry is still young and still has a long way to go.

The twins went to Harvard University with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came into prominence when they accused the Facebook founder of stealing their idea when he created the giant social media network.

The matter was eventually solved when the twins were given $65 million in cash and Facebook stock. The pair used the money to invest in Bitcoin and they started piling the digital asset when it was selling between $8 and $20.

The pair claim that Zuckerberg is aware of the impact that digital currencies such as Bitcoin have and this is the reason why his company is reportedly developing a cryptocurrency. The pair said that Facebook’s rumored cryptocurrency is “cool.”

Facebook is secretly working on stablecoin that will likely be used for global remittances and payments.

The twins said that cryptocurrencies are allowing the digitization of markets and this is much better than Facebook’s core services.

“Crypto is transferring value and putting markets on certain resources which … brings more people in, like, than, like, sharing photos right. Which is powerful. People want to connect and stuff, but if you actually pay people and things in value that’s almost … more significant,” said Cameroon.

ICO statistics on a downward trend but Fundstrat’s Tom Lee sees this as a healthy sign

Odds are not favorable to the ICO industry after experiencing a massive boom in 2017. Now, statistics paint a different story.

According to data gathered by ICO bench, ICOs raised more than $4.7 billion in the first quarter of last year but has so far raised only $575 million since the beginning of the year till to date.

The number of projects using the ICO model to raise funds has decreased from 248 in December last year alone to 238 since the beginning of the year. The amount of money raised via the token model has dwindled by nearly 90 percent compared to 12 months ago.

One question that naturally follows is what does this mean for this young industry? Is it time to press panic buttons?

Thomas Lee, a managing partner at Fundstrat Global Advisors sees this as a sign of maturity as the industry departs from a get-rich-quick trend to value creation.

Speaking to CNBC a few days ago, Lee said that 2019 will be more focused on repair.

“We believe 2019 is a year of repair, setting up for a strong recovery in crypto prices broadly in 2020. Any improvements in supply/demand dynamics [are] positive for prices and hence, the slowdown in ICO funding is a net positive. Sentiment is also quite muted, which is positive,” he said.

Colombia sees a rise in Bitcoin volumes

The demand for Bitcoin continues to rise in Latin America, and the latest surge is in Colombia. Cryptocurrency exchange LocalBitcoin has seen its trading volume rise to approximately $3 million a week. The rise began in November last year.

The surge is attributed to Venezuelans living in Colombia using virtual currencies to send money home. In addition, freelancers may be contributing to the surge as they may be using cryptocurrencies to receive or send payments.

Matias Goldenhörn, the Latin America director of Athena said so while explaining that his firm has already installed 15 Bitcoin ATMs in the country.

“There are a lot of freelancers in Colombia who receive their payments in bitcoin and they use our ATMs to get their money in fiat and then there are people sending remittances to Venezuela are using them. Those are the two main users we have now in Colombia,” he said.

Banking startup 2gether launches a crypto debit card

Things are changing across the crypto space and an increasing number of crypto startups are launching crypto debit cards that allow digital currency holders to buy goods and services.

A new banking startup 2gether announced that it is going to launch a new prepaid Visa card enables users to pay for goods and services using fiat currency or select digital currencies that include Bitcoin, XRP, EOS, XLM, and a few more.

The debit card also allows customers to convert their digital assets into the Euro currency and will be supported in nearly 20 European Union (EU) countries.

“2gether enables people to spend their crypto on anything from bubblegum to new shoes with one swipe of a prepaid Visa debit card, now available in the 19 eurozone countries,” said the company in a press statement.

According to the startup’s spokesperson, 2gether’s crypto debit card removes the barrier that prevents direct crypto payments. The new service will only be available to users who complete the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) compliance procedure.

The startup goes on to say that customers can buy digital currencies without incurring the high costs typically charged by exchanges. The startup has already launched its beta version in Spain and will soon expand the service to other EU countries.

Although no official launch date has been given, customers can download the app that supports the debit card and takes part in the beta testing phase.

The firm is planning to launch the token sale of native coin known as 2GT. The firm has a target of $5.65 million and all people from the EU are eligible to participate in the token offering.

Twitter poll: the majority of crypto investors are all in on Bitcoin

A recent poll shared on Twitter revealed that the majority of crypto investors are predominantly in favor of Bitcoin despite the existence of more than 2,000 altcoins.

Those who took part in the survey had four options:

  • All in BTC
  • All in Alts
  • 30% BTC, 70% Alts
  • 70% BTC, 30% Alts

26 percent claimed that they are all in on Bitcoin and percent are in the corner of the “70% BTC, 30% Alts.”

Overall, the overwhelming majority of the voters are all in on Bitcoin, the largest and original digital asset with a market cap of more than $70 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

There are several altcoins out there and some of them have no real use case except offering risks for the unsuspecting investors.

Triple Inc. and Fujitsu Inc. enter a distributorship partnership for crypto mining equipment

Triple Inc. and Fujitsu Electronics announced on March 18 that they have a entered a distributorship contract for Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC). The mining equipment has been codenamed KAMIKAZE and uses 7nm advanced process technology.

Other features of the new mining equipment include reduced energy consumption and high cooling efficiency.

Triple-1 is a semiconductor company established in November 2016. The firm claims that it is the only manufacturer of ASICs in Japan.

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitpanda introduces a savings account

Austrian-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitpanda announced that it is launching a new feature – Bitpanda Savings – which allows users to have a savings plan for a number of selected digital assets. The new feature allows users to build their cryptocurrency portfolio and make automatic investments without worrying about timing the market.

The exchange is celebrating the launch of the service by rewarding verified users who decide to open a savings account with prizes worth up to €200 in cryptocurrencies.

The exchange has more than 900,000 users and aims to become one of the best and well-known trading platforms. The introduction of the new feature is a clear sign that the exchange wants to expand its services.

Cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb to lay off half of its staff

South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb plans to cut half its working staff, reported CoinDesk on March 18. The exchange will be reducing the number of its employees from 310 to nearly 150.

An official of the exchange confirmed that half of the staff will be departing but added that those who already wanted to leave the firm are the ones going.

“Voluntary retirement is part of our support program for former employees and is intended to provide assistance and training for job placement,” said the exchange’s official.

The official further explained that the exchange’s trading volume has decreased and the company has to take immediate measures to counteract these effects.

Cryptocurrency exchanges make money from charging trading fees and the higher the trading volumes, the more the exchanges make.

“Apart from that, [Bithumb’s] trading volume has decreased compared to the previous year, [so] we are trying to provide internal measures. We will continue to add necessary personnel for various new businesses,” added the official.

The move comes in the wake of similar job cuts made by crypto firms as companies respond to the on-going bear market that has seen the market lose more than $600 billion of its value. The job cuts have even affected employees from large crypto firms such as Bitmain.

Crypto exchange Bibox launches EOS/USDT perpetual contract

One of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange Bibox announced on its official blog post that is launching an EOS/USDT perpetual contract. The listing is scheduled to go live on March 20 at 3 PM [GMT+8].

The exchange currency supports perpetual trading for two of the world’s most valuable blockchains – Bitcoin and Ether.

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