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Bank of America Acknowledges The Cryptocurrency Threat

In an annual report Bank of America (BOA) acknowledged the threat that cryptocurrency poses to its business model. Citing a range of economic, geopolitical, and operational risks it becomes clear that financial institutions can no longer ignore the digital asset revolution.

The bank’s admission, confirms a long-standing crypto enthusiast theory, that the financial world fears the rise of cryptocurrency and will take drastic measures to stop the digital money revolution.

Recently, BOA is one of four major U.S. based banks that barred its clients from using their credit cards for Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrency transactions. At the time they cited speculation, risk, and high volatility for their decision. Since the announcement, BOA has acknowledged the realistic threat this and other policies may pose to their firm.

In the February 22nd, 2018, SEC filing, BOA said:

“[C]lients may choose to conduct business with other market participants who engage in business or offer products in areas we deem speculative or risky, such as cryptocurrencies,”

Perhaps to the delight of many cryptocurrency users, Bank America highlights that the adoption of digital assets could impact the institution’s ability to comply with regulatory requirements. BOA cites cryptocurrency may cause an inability to remain “in compliance” with both local and international laws, striking a major blow to not only the firm’s business but its reputation.  Most notably acknowledging the difficulty of adapting to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering regulations.

BOA went on to say:

“The widespread adoption of new technologies, including internet services, cryptocurrencies and payment systems, could require substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our existing products and services,”

Although the cryptocurrency threat analysis makes up a minor part of BOA’s annual report, this marks a clear shift in the marketplace. Gone are the days where financial institutions could ignore the sleeping giant that is cryptocurrency. In the digital money revolution, it has become more clear that banks will either have to get on board or get out of the way because cryptocurrency is here to stay.

As always we here at Cryptobase will keep you up to date as this story unfolds.

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Adoption

PayPal Allows Bitcoin And Crypto Spending

PayPal has entered the cryptocurrency market, announcing that its customers will be able to buy and sell Bitcoin and other virtual currencies using their PayPal accounts.

Those virtual coins could then be used to buy things from the 26 million sellers which accept PayPal, it said.

PayPal plans to roll out buying options in the US over the next few weeks, with the full rollout due early next year.

Bitcoin prices rose alongside the news, breaking the $12,000 (£9,170) mark.

The other cryptocurrencies to be added first will be Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash (a spin-off from Bitcoin).

All could be stored “directly within the PayPal digital wallet”, the company said.

‘Penny stocks’

Cryptocurrencies have remained a niche payment method, partly down to the rapid change in prices they can experience compared with traditional state-backed currencies. That has made them popular among some types of investors.

PayPal said it was aiming “to increase consumer understanding and adoption of cryptocurrency”.

“As part of this offering, PayPal will provide account holders with educational content to help them understand the cryptocurrency ecosystem,” it said.

But David Gerard, author of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain and the forthcoming Libra Shrugged: How Facebook Tried to Take Over the Money, said PayPal was describing “a crypto day-trading market”.

“I’m at a loss as to who the market is for PayPal as a crypto-exchange,” he said.

He likened it to playing the stock market, but with Bitcoin – whose volatile and less well-regulated nature was like “gambling on penny stocks”.

“Have a flutter, drop $10 on it, you’ll learn things you wouldn’t learn any other way – but you are gambling,” he warned.

He said there were “a lot of big players who manipulate the price”, and ordinary people risked losing their money.

“I don’t expect much of a market for this beyond existing crypto holders… I’m baffled that PayPal would offer this, and it’s not clear what they’re trying to do here,” he said.

“There must be someone at PayPal who is very interested in cryptocurrencies,” he added.

Paying with crypto

Other payment firms, such as Square’s Cash app and Revolut, have already offered cryptocurrencies for sale. But PayPal has one of the largest merchant networks in the world.

When it comes to using the virtual coins, PayPal will convert the cryptocurrency into the relevant national currency, so the company being paid will never receive the virtual coins – just the correct amount of pounds or dollars.

PayPal said the system meant there would be “certainty of value and no incremental fees”.

But using Bitcoin to pay at ordinary merchants is not due to launch until “early 2021”.

Cryptocurrencies’ volatile prices – along with their historical use as a less traceable payment method for illegal purposes – have led to numerous calls for them to be regulated.

PayPal has been granted permission for its operation from the New York State Department of Financial Services, in the form of a conditional “Bitlicence” – the first such licence granted.

To begin with, the service will work with an existing cryptocurrency provider in the US, the Paxos Trust Company.

But it is not PayPal’s first venture into the area.

The firm was once a partner in Facebook’s digital currency Libra, but became the first to pull out of the alliance, just a few months after it was announced.

The scheme was controversial, attracting attention from financial regulators in several countries.

Earlier this year, Facebook was reported to be “rethinking” the idea amid the resistance.

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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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