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A New Lifeline Emerges For Bitcoin ETFs

Cboe Global Markets, the first U.S. exchange operator to offer bitcoin futures, is renewing its push to list exchange traded funds (ETFs) tied to the popular digital currency.

Bitcoin futures debuted on the Cboe in December with rival exchange operator CME Group following suit later that month. The launch of bitcoin futures was viewed by many industry observers as a possible avenue to getting ETFs based on the cryptocurrency to market with the argument being that there already dozens of exchange traded products (ETPs) trading in the U.S., primarily related to commodities, holding baskets of futures contracts.

While the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened a comment period on bitcoin ETFs in early January, soon thereafter the commission told ETF sponsors to withdraw their applications for funds related to the largest cryptocurrency.

Renewed Vigor

Cboe remains proactive when it comes to listing bitcoin ETFs.

“Cboe encourages the Commission to approach Cryptocurrency ETPs [exchange-traded products] holistically and from the same perspective that it has historically approached commodity-related ETPs,” the exchange operator said in a recent letter to the SEC.

Last week, the SEC said it is examining whether or not allow the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to list two bitcoin ETFs from ProShares. Maryland-based ProShares is the largest issuer of inverse and leveraged ETFs.

The company originally filed plans for the ProShares Bitcoin ETF and the ProShares Short ETF in September, scrapped that application and then reapplied in December after bitcoin futures debuted. ProShares was among the ETF issuers forced by the SEC to scrap bitcoin ETF plans earlier this year.

“The ProShares Bitcoin ETF’s investment objective will be to seek results (before fees and expenses) that, both for a single day and over time, correspond to the performance of lead month bitcoin futures contracts listed and traded on either the Cboe Futures Exchange (“CFE”) or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (“CME”)(“Benchmark Futures Contract”),” according to the SEC.

In that document, the SEC notes the NYSE is looking to list the ProShares bitcoin ETFs under NYSE Arca Rule 8.200-E, Commentary .02. That rule permits the listing and trading of “Trading Issued Receipts,” which are securities used by a trust holding specific securities within said trust that may be surrendered to the trust by the owner to receive those securities and may entitle the beneficial owner to dividends or distributions.

The SEC said it received one letter expressing concerns about efforts to change NYSE Arca Rule 8.200-E, Commentary .02. The commenter called the proposal “a house of cards” while appearing critical of cyrpocurrencies trading on unregulated exchanges, said the SEC.

To date, turnover in bitcoin futures on both Cboe and CME has been light, but those volumes could increase if bitcoin ETFs come to life.

 

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Adoption

Litecoin Foundation & TokenPay strike a strategic partnership

TokenPay, The self-proclaimed “Bitcoin on steroids” has entered a partnership with the Litecoin Foundation for a 9.9% stake in the WEG Bank in Germany. In May 2018 TokenPay acquired just under 10% of WEG Bank with the option to purchase up to 90% if approved by the regulatory commission of Germany. In a move to leverage Litecoins marketing and technology service TokenPay has handed the 9.9% over to Litecoin in hopes that it will put TokenPay on the map as a major player in the cryptocurrency market.

TokenPay CEO Derek Capo said in a recent statement “We are building an entire ecosystem that includes merchant services, banking, escrow, gaming, e-sports, employment services, etc., where we have entire control of the vertical integration needed to lower costs, but also control our destiny. Litecoin is a top-five blockchain in the world, and boasts more than one million followers worldwide, which helps increase the chances of TokenPay’s ecosystem to succeed.”

What does this mean for TokenPay & Litecoin?

This partnership will provide TPAY access to LTC’s massive user base and will give the users the opportunity to buy, sell & trade as well as gain access to the company’s debit card service. In turn, Litecoin will benefit by having exclusive access to TokenPay’s long-standing bank connections to hopefully integrate the LTC blockchain network into a wide range of monetary associations.

Charlie Lee, CEO of the Litecoin Foundation responded to the partnership by saying “This partnership is a huge win-win for both Litecoin and TokenPay. I’m looking forward to integrating Litecoin with the WEG Bank AG and all the various services it has to offer, to make it simple for anyone to buy and use Litecoin.”

Each company will play a crucial roll in the partnership by focusing on TPAY crypto and its accompanying blockchain as well as the TokenPay multisignature transaction engine, which should accelerate payment and transaction speeds tremendously for both companies.

There is no word yet on exactly when the technology side will be implemented but TokenPay is geared up to make some major moves that include partnering with multiple other financial establishments.

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Adoption

Survey Says 20% of Banks, Hedge Funds Want to Trade Crypto

There is some good news on the cryptocurrency adoption and liquidity fronts. A new Thomson Reuters survey indicates 20% of banks and hedge funds want to get into trading digital currencies.

“One in five firms are considering trading digital currency in the next three to 12 months, according to a Thomson Reuters survey published Tuesday,” reports CNBC. “Of those that showed interest, about 70 percent said they were planning to trade in the next three to six months, and 22 percent said they would look to trade crypto in 6 to 12 months.”

Twenty percent is a significant improvement over some other recent data points pertaining to crypto adoption and use among professional investors. For example, a recent survey of attendees at the Context Summits conference in Miami revealed that 11% planned to allocate to cryptocurrencies this year.

Making Moves

“Thomson Reuters surveyed more than 400 clients across its trading solutions, which included hedge funds, large asset managers, and trading desks at the biggest banks. The results showed a widespread familiarity with cryptocurrencies,” reports CNBC.

News of more banks and hedge funds looking to get into the crypto games comes amid a backdrop of soaring crypto hedge fund openings, though some of those hedge funds have already been shuttered. On Monday, Goldman Sachs, the largest investment bank, said it made its first hire for its digital asset markets business.

Due to the recent resurgence in bitcoin, the largest digital currency, and other alt-coins, the digital currency market eclipsed a combined market value of $420 billion earlier Tuesday, up from around $300 billion just a few weeks ago.

“Banks are examining client interest and several hedge funds have tried their hand trading virtual currencies,” according to Reuters. “Large falls in cryptocurrency prices this year, however, have encouraged critics to warn again that the market is a bubble and that investors should stay away.”

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Adoption

A New Avenue For Verge: Pornhub Subscriptions

Verge currency, the digital currency known by the symbol “XVG,” got a boost on the adoption front Tuesday when it was revealed that Pornhub will accept XVG as payment for subscriptions. Pornhub is the largest adult entertainment site online and one of the most visited websites in the world.

“Verge is built on an open-source platform with no centralized control over the coin. Verge can process 100 transactions per second. With RSK technology implemented that number is projected to reach 2000 transactions per second,” according to Cryptobase.

As of this writing Tuesday, XVG has a market capitalization of $1.20 billion, making it the number 21 digital currency by market value.

“Pornhub users will now be able to use Verge, which allows for anonymous transactions by obfuscating the IP address and geolocation of its users so that they are untraceable, to pay for all Pornhub purchases – including Pornhub Premium, the company’s HD, On-Demand streaming service,” according to a statement.

Real Talk

The partnership with Pornhub is a potentially significant opportunity for XVG. While the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Netflix and Instagram are among the most visited websites in the world, Pornhub is on the top 50 list. In fact, Pornhub gets more traffic than Google Canada, eBay, Bing and Alipay, just to name a few.

Verge is a departure from traditional cryptocurrencies in that it relies less on cryptography and more on Tor and I2P network to deliver the user experience.

“Verge Currency, which was created in 2014, is designed for everyday use. It improves upon the original Bitcoin blockchain and aims to fulfill its initial purpose of providing individuals and businesses with a fast, efficient and decentralized way of making direct transactions while maintaining personal privacy,” according to the statement.

Pornhub added that its in-house production company, Brazzers, and its adult gaming platform, Nutaku, will also be accepting Verge.

“This partnership represents an enormous market with a global reach that will compete with fiat currencies. It’s huge for Verge and we’re extremely excited to finally be able to announce it,” said Verge founder Justin Sunerok.

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