From a memorable bitcoin Twitter scam involving big names from tech to politicians to bullish sentiments for bitcoin and ethereum, what a roller-coaster month it has been in the crypto world.
This is “Beyond the FUD & FOMO, ”a weekly roundup of the most interesting and relevant news of the week, and in this case, the month of July. While this recap takes a broader look at the crypto industry, we narrow it down to the most relevant updates in and around Asia. It is meant for you, whether you are a professional investor, retail trader, enthusiast, tech junkie, or even a critic.”
Bitcoin 17 Percent Up in July
The crypto market had a bullish month in July as the price of bitcoin broke the $11,000 mark. At the time of writing, bitcoin is up 18.26 percent against the USD in the past 30 days, according to TradingView data.
The leading digital asset broke out from the $9,000 range and catapulted to more than $11,000. However, it seems to have met some resistance and has retraced back to $10,940 at the time of writing.
The value of $11,304 reached on July 29 is the highest price Bitcoin has seen this year. Bitcoin last reached these figures in August last year.
Ethereum has enjoyed positive momentum in July as well. ETH is up 31 percent against the dollar in the past month. Investors who have been long on Etherereum since the beginning of the year will enjoy a 147 percent return on investment.
Ethereum broke from the $230 – $237 price range to reach a new 2020 high of more than $320. At the time of writing, a single ETH is changing hands for $319.47.
Bitmain Spin-Off Matrixport Launches Crypto Platform Targeting the Growing Options Market
Maxtriport, a spin-off of the crypto mining giant firm Bitmain, is launching a crypto derivatives platform called Bit.com to go after the rapidly growing options market.
According to The Block which broke the news, the exchange will offer futures and options products. Based in Singapore, Maxtriport said the new exchange will first launch bitcoin (BTC)/ U.S.$ perpetual swap on August 3 followed by bitcoin options two weeks later on August 17.
From the perspective of Matrixport COO Daniel Yan, a former options trader at Merrill Lynch, the timing of the new platform is spot-on as the crypto derivatives market, particularly options, is set to grow “30 to 100 times in the next five years.”
“So it’s not too late to get into this market,” pointed Yan.
Deribit currently enjoys the lion’s share of the crypto options market as it possesses more than 85 percent of the market value. Yan highlighted that having one professional exchange in this growing market is “not enough.”
Yan further argued that Deribit has not yet addressed some pain points substantial liquidity. Secondly, Deribit does not give its users enough benefits to grow with the platform.
Without providing any specific details, Yan reiterated that Bit.com will address the two pain points that Deribit has not been to solve.
Founded by Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitmain, Matrixport has 160 employees. And 50 of them are currently working for Bit.com.
Since its founding, Matrixport has raised $40 million from both Series A and Series B funding rounds.
Chinese Telecoms Giant Huawei Applies for Blockchain Patents
A tweet by the Global Times revealed that Huawei, a Chinese multinational company, has filed for new patents related to blockchain technology storage and devices.
The filings for the new blockchain patents can be found in Tianyancha, a Chinese corporate database. This is not the firm’s first dance with blockchain patents. Huawei has previously held multiple blockchain-related patents in areas such as settlement methods and data archiving.
Huawei, which has grown to be the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world only behind South Korea’s Samsung, has faced several challenges including cybersecurity concerns from the U.S.
Japan’s SBI Holdings Leverages Corda Enterprise Blockchain to Develop Digital Currency
Japan’s financial giant SBI Holdings requires no introduction in the blockchain/cryptocurrency circles.
SBI, a partner and shareholder in Ripple – the company behind XRP – announced on its website that it has created its own digital currency based on Corda, a private enterprise blockchain platform developed by R3 in the U.S.
Per the report, SBI first developed a platform called “S Coin,” which also became the name for its digital currency. A pilot project on the ‘S Coin Platform’ was run in July by SBI’s employees.
The ‘S Coin’ platform makes it possible “to design and issue a unique digital currency.” The experiment saw the S Coin platform being used together with a payment app called Money Tap.
“In this demonstration experiment, we constructed a mechanism that works with this S coin platform and the smartphone money transfer and payment application “Money Tap” provided by Money Tap Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of SBIH,” reads an excerpt from the announcement.
SBI is using this experiment to foster the utilization and adoption of blockchain platforms. The financial giant aims to work with “regional financial institutions to support the issuance of digital currencies in multiple regions.”
China’s Influencers Jump in on the Bullish Bitcoin Rally
Are bitcoin investors and traders partying like it’s December 2017? No, of course not. But the recent bullish momentum evokes nostalgia.
And as it turns out, social media influencers and even exchanges in China have been swept by the bitcoin fever.
This is interesting because China has taken a hardline stance against cryptocurrencies while opening all its arms to blockchain, the technology behind the majority of crypto assets.
The post “Bitcoin hits $10,000 mark” on Weibo – a social media platform considered to be China’s equivalent of Twitter – gained more attention than gossip and celebrity news combined. 4,300 discussions around the topic attracted 130 million people.
Other questions posed on Weibo included “What is bitcoin” and “What does it mean that bitcoin hits $10,000?”
OKEx and Binance capitalized on the bullish momentum to advertise their exchanges on Weibo. On the other hand, Huobi, a fan-favorite of the government, focused on blockchain technology.
China’s Blockchain Service Network Splits
China’s Blockchain Service Network (BSN) splits into two separate entities barely three months after deployment.
The split, or rather the fork (in blockchain speak), was caused by disagreements between members who failed to reach a consensus on integrating pubic blockchain into its existing frameworks.
The original BSN was launched in April this year with the aim of serving as a hosting platform for different sizes of businesses and entrepreneurs.
The BSN has split into BSN-China and BSN-International. The BSN-International is the new network and will be headed by Red Date Tech, a private firm and one of the original members of BSN.
BSN-International will only execute operational strategies after getting approval from BSN-China. In a way, it’s less of a split and more of branching.
Red Date Tech Co-founder and CEO Yifan He said the network did not split but rather took a step forward.
“In China, there is a clear regulatory restriction on the deployment of public permissionless blockchain networks,” said He.
OKEx CEO Jay Hao said that the quasi-split of the BSN network could be due to China’s censorship. Hao explained that Chinese officials are not in favor of integrating public blockchain protocols as they cannot be controlled by governments.
Hao further added that the split is not a setback but will create better competition and push China’s blockchain ecosystem to evolve much faster.
Bitmain Civil War, ASIC’s Disappearance: What’s Going On?
Bitmain’s drama is far from over.
Bitcoin mining giant announced the theft of 10,000 ASIC miners from its mining farm located in Inner Mongolia, according to 8BTCnews media outlet.
The disappearance of the 10,000 miners estimated to be worth around $10 million, will have serious economic ramifications for the company. The matter has been reported to the police.
The firm’s Antminer fleet – S9 to T17 – at the farm has gone missing. Bitmain started shipping its flagship T19 miners in June but it appears as if they never made it to the mining farm in question.
The company – which has promised to go all out to recover the stolen miners – is urging anyone with information to come forward.
But the disappearance of the mining equipment is only a microcosm of the bigger problems Bitmain is facing, such as the power wrangle between the company’s two co-founders, Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan.
An internal letter from Jihan Wu claims that Zhan and his allies are responsible for the theft or ‘illegal transfer’ of the missing miners.
While the two co-founders fight for the control of the company, Bitamain’s competitors are fighting to take a bigger pie in the market share. Ebang filed for a U.S. IPO and MicroBT is gaining some ground in the market.
Israel’s Bourse Launches the First-Ever Blockchain-based Securities Lending Platform
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: TASE) announced the launch of the country’s first-ever blockchain-based securities lending platform.
According to the press release, the innovative and groundbreaking financial technology will have a huge impact on the securities lending sector. Israel currently has no central securities lending platform. The securities lending market has not been exploited to the fullest extent because it is executed using mechanisms within and outside inter-bank mechanisms.
“This cutting-edge platform will transform the Securities Lending market in Israel by enabling direct lending among all the major financial instruments. The platform will function as a one-stop-shop for all securities lending activities, permitting access to larger securities volumes within shorter timeframes, even operating in shorter-term positions,” reads the statement.
The testing phase was deployed in March this year, with TASE members given access to the environment to test lending transactions.
The new trading platform will harness some of blockchain technology’s features such as direct peer-to-peer transactions, smart contracts, and security.
“All of these are expected to benefit TASE, its custodians and their clients by reducing costs, increasing security and enabling the market to exploit its full potential,” concludes the press statement.
South Korea’s ICON Blockchain Project Joins the DeFi Bandwagon
The DeFi train may have left the station a while ago, but new passengers are still catching a ride. The latest passenger on this DeFi train is ICON, South Korea’s leading blockchain project.
The blockchain protocol is taking this leap through a platform called BalancedDAO, which was initially proposed in February.
BalancedDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) based on the ICON network and allows the creation of new tokens pegged to real-world assets.
ICON has partnered with Band Protocol for its first DeFi project. ICON explained in a blog post why the network partnered with Band Protocol:
“We choose Band Protocol not only because of their secure and decentralized protocol, but also because of their willingness to work closely with us, almost acting as an extension of the Balanced team.”
Band Protocol is a cross-chain data oracle platform that collects and connects data and APIs to smart contracts. The first stages of collaboration between ICON and Band Protocol will be centered around ICX/USD price feed which will be sourced from five sources chosen by the Balanced team.
Huobi Dabbles in Digital Asset Custody
As the digital asset custodian industry grows, another major cryptocurrency exchange has thrown its name in the mix.
Singapore-based Huobi, the second-largest exchange by volume is the latest entity to dip its feet in the crypto asset custodial business. The exchange is currently targeting accredited investors and institutions.
Huobi Group Head of Global Markets, Ciara Sun, told Cointelegraph in an interview that this is an “exciting year for the institutional market as compliance and regulation matures.
In Asia, the cryptocurrency custodial business is concentrated in Hong Kong following the drafting of the industry’s framework by the region’s Securities and Futures Commission.
The digital asset custodial industry has seen the entry of big names in finance such as hedge funds, a positive factor for the market acknowledged by Sun.
“We are already seeing big Wall Street stalwarts like Tower Research, Renaissance Technologies, and some of the world’s top hedge funds publicly announce their entry into the digital asset market,” explained Sun.
The Philippines Commissions a Committee to Study the Feasibility of Issuing a Digital Currency
Digital assets are slowly moving from the fringes of finance to the mainstream. As the number of countries looking into, piloting, or issuing their own digital currencies increases, the Philippines is also joining the club.
According to a Bloomberg report, the central bank of the Philippines, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has created a committee to look into the feasibility of issuing a national digital currency and the accompanying policy implications.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno highlighted that the bank would look into the report before making a decision. The committee has until next month to release a report of their findings.
Governor Diokno noted that the demand for digital currency is on the rise but does not affect that of fiat currency in the country.
“Cryptocurrency for us has always been beyond the asset itself but more on the blockchain technology that underpins it,” added the governor.
Cambodia Digital Currency: Better Late than Never
At the beginning of the year, Cambodia grabbed crypto headlines when the country’s central bank announced that it would launch a blockchain-based digital asset in the first quarter.
We are now into the third quarter and the digital currency is not operating on a full scale. Bakong, as the digital currency is called, was launched on a trial basis early this month, said Chea Serey, the director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia.
Bakong is expected to be fully operational in this third quarter. Serey explained that the project has the support of 11 local banks.
“Bakong will play a central role in bringing all players in the payment space in Cambodia under the same platform, making it easy for end-users to pay each other regardless of the institutions they bank with. Eventually, we hope to allow cross border payment through the Bakong system too.”
Serey added that more banks will join the project. The project took too long to kick off because the central bank was working to ensure that the “system is useful and convenient for the users as possible.”
Shin Chang Moon, the president of Phnom Penh Commercial Bank informed reporters that Bakong would be deployed at all its branches. Chang Moon further said that Bakong will likely be cheaper and more convenient.
You are 5 Times More Likely to be Cryptojacked in India than Anywhere Else in the World
According to a report published by Microsoft called Security Endpoint Threat Report, cryptojackers are targeting India to hit it big through dirty money.
The report says that internet users in India are 4.6 times more likely to encounter crypto-mining malware than regional or global web users. Only Sri Lanka experiences more cryptocurrency mining attacks than India in the Asia Pacific region.
A cryptocurrency mining attack or cryptojacking happens when hackers install malware on someone’s to mine for cryptocurrencies without their knowledge.
The attackers’ sentiments are pegged to the cryptocurrency market outlook. When the market is bearish, the attacks go down, and when there is bullish momentum, the rate of crypto-jacking increases.
Crypto-jacking is here to stay. In general, cryptocurrency-related cybercrimes will likely rise and get more sophisticated in the future. The recent bitcoin Twitter scam, which embarrassed the social media giant more than it enriched the attackers, is an indication that crypto cybercrime is evolving.
Diginex Launches Crypto Exchange in Singapore
Diginex, a digital financial services and blockchain solutions company, has launched a new cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore and has already applied for a license.
EQUOS.io, a derivatives-focused exchange, will be based in Singapore instead of Hong Kong, where Diginex has its operational base.
Richard Byworth, the CEO of Diginex said they chose Singapore over Hong Kong because the former has a more conducive regulatory environment than the latter.
“Singapore was a bit more flexible in the way that they were thinking about things,” said Byworth.
EQUOS.io will focus on spot trading as well as other complex products.
“On the more interesting edge of (cryptocurrency) derivatives, we have seen a more limited product set to come to market because we are constrained by the infrastructure,” added Byworth.
Diginex is hopeful of listing on the Nasdaq through a $300 million reverse merger.
Iran Greenlights Power Plants Mining Bitcoin
Iranian authorities have permitted power plants to mine cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, but with a caveat that they don’t take advantage of subsidies.
Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, the deputy managing director at Tavanir, Iran’s power generation, distribution, and management company said power plants can mine cryptocurrencies if they have the required licenses and comply with approved tariffs.
“Now we’re in a situation where the supply of electricity is of great importance to the public,” said Mashhadi.
“We will not allow anyone to misuse tariffs provided for the agricultural and industrial sectors to produce Bitcoin while it’s worth more than $9,000.”