JAMIE DIMON: JP MORGAN COIN: Dimon Describes JP Morgan Coin Potential Evolution; Could See Consumer Use

Jamie Dimon sure has been properly baptized as of late, hasn’t he? Baptized in the religion of crypto. Just two plus years ago Jamie was an avowed ‘no-coiner’ with knives out for Bitcoin and it’s siblings.

Earlier today he described a pathway where JP Morgan coin could be used at the consumer level.


“JP Morgan Coin could be internal, could be commercial, it could one day be consumer,” Dimon, 62, said during a question-and-answer session.”

“Earlier in February, J.P. Morgan became the first major U.S. bank to create its own cryptocurrency with the launch of “JPM Coin.” The digital token was designed to settle transactions between clients of its wholesale payments business, specifically for international payments and securities transactions that migrate to the blockchain.”

What a reversal. And what might that reversal mean? You can place your bets that JP Morgan has come up with a way to make the use of their native coin somehow profitable either directly or indirectly. Either way, it sheds light on the thinking of one of the largest banks in the world and where it’s CEO sees finance going.

And if JP Morgan and Dimon have moved this far, this quickly – how long before we see a Fidelity coin? Asking for a friend.

FACEBOOK STABLE COIN: BLOCKCHAIN BUILD OUT: As Facebook Continues To Build It’s Blockchain Team, Rumors Swirl Regarding A Potential Token

Facebook continues to stalk the crypto and blockchain space. If you stop and pay attention you can almost feel their eyes staring at the cracks in the ecosystem. And those cracks are feeding rumors regarding Facebook’s intentions when it comes to crypto and a potential native platform payment token.

Whether like or dislike Facebook it is hard to deny that a Facebook token of some sort would be a potential eye opener for adoption within crypto. Billions upon billions of users across Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram would have access to digital cash fostered by social media’s ultimate ‘elephant in the room’.

As we’ve discussed the potential for a Facebook token this week with several thought leaders in the space one particular theme kept coming up. A Facebook token would make the most sense as a dollar backed stable coin. It would provide incredible buying power for ‘unbanked’ individuals that find themselves part of all three platforms. The WhatsApp platform in particular, with it’s adoption across locations such as India (a notoriously un-banked country), would create enormous demand for a stable coin.

As Facebook staffs up across it’s blockchain initiatives (whatever those happen to be, nobody really knows) the next incredibly used and profitable product could be a Facebook token used across billions of daily active users across the globe.

One rumor we heard coming out of Silicon Valley is that Facebook considered several types of banking initiatives to integrate into WhatsApp over the past two years, but simply wasn’t satisfied with the potential solutions. With the advent of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies becoming a larger part of the financial discussion, as stable coin would seem to meet the needs that a potential banking operation may have had it been rolled out.

One source, who left Facebook two months ago, added:

“Facebook has flirted with acquisitions in the crypto space and has yet to pull the trigger. That is telling if you ask me. They could easily swallow up Coinbase tomorrow, but they’ve chosen not to up to this point. Just keep track of the size, scale, and names associated with their ever-growing blockchain team. As it grows you can bet they are getting closer and closer to pulling the trigger on a token of some sort. And my guess, to satisfy regulators, it would be tied to the dollar in the way stable coins have been. They (Facebook) could easily back a token with the cash hoard they have on tap.”

Whatever truth exists in these rumors a Facebook ecosystem token would be enormous. With access to platforms carrying billions of users on a daily basis, adoption would quickly dwarf and other coin in existence. The specter of ‘Facebook Coin’ becoming a competitor to Bitcoin would be a remarkable evolution to witness in real time. And it isn’t as far-fetched as you may think.

A reminder…Facebook matured in the depths of Silicon Valley and the best minds in the valley are constantly looking for the next big thing. And need we mention the headlines Facebook has dealt with overt the past 12 months?

A Facebook stable coin could be the next innovation from a company in need of something new and shiny to feed Wall Street. If one of techs ‘glitterati’ (Jack Dorsey) finds comfort basking in the glow of the crypto world, who’s to say others like him aren’t aware of the opportunity that lies in this fast growing industry. Nobody should be surprised if we eventually see a coin with Facebook’s fingerprints all over it.

CRYPTO JUSTICE SERVED: BINANCE DELISTS BITCOIN SV: Binance CEO Makes Good On Craig Wright Declaration As ‘Fraud’; Delists Bitcoin SV

Binance CEO, CZ, has made good on a public proclamation to delist $BCHSV should Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre continue their meritless crusade to sue anyone that doesn’t declare Craig Wright anything other than a fraud.

Across the crypto ecosystem the ‘Craig Wright is a fraud’ movement has come to an all-consuming crescendo over the weekend. More specifically, ‘FakeToshi’s’ most vocal provocateur, Peter McCormack received a letter from lawyers representing Craig Wright asking him to do all manner of ridiculous things that amount to ‘stop being mean to Craig’.

Peter McCormack publishes the letter and a sharply (and appropriately) worded response via Twitter. Kudos to Peter.

But CZ, the CEO of the worlds largest crypto currency exchange has put his money where his mouth is and delisted the token altogether.

Here is the statement from Binance:

“At Binance, we periodically review each digital asset we list to ensure that it continues to meet the high level of standard we expect. When a coin or token no longer meets this standard, or the industry changes, we conduct a more in-depth review and potentially delist it. We believe this best protects all of our users.”

“When we conduct these reviews, we consider a variety of factors. Here are some that drive whether we decide to delist a digital asset:”

  • Commitment of team to project
  • Level and quality of development activity
  • Network / smart contract stability
  • Level of public communication
  • Responsiveness to our periodic due diligence requests
  • Evidence of unethical / fraudulent conduct
  • Contribution to a healthy and sustainable crypto ecosystem

“Based on our most recent reviews, we have decided to delist and cease trading on all trading pairs for the following coin on 2019/04/22 at 10:00 AM UTC:”

Please note: 

  • All trade orders will be automatically removed after trading ceases in each respective trading pair.
  • To view your assets after trading ceases, please ensure you have not selected “Hide small assets” in your Funds page.
  • Withdrawals of these coins and tokens from Binance will continue to be supported until 2019/07/22 at 10:00 AM UTC.

“We thank you for your support as we continue to build the crypto ecosystem in a way that promotes transparency and long-term, sustainable growth.”

This will cause the back and forth to significantly ramp up, and one can only hope it does, so as to destroy whatever shred of credibility Craig Wright is hanging onto at the moment.

Let it be said again, “Craig Wright is a fraud.”

BAKKT BOARD: Bakkt CEO Pens Update, Announces Board Members

Bakkt continues to anticipate a pending approval from the CFTC to engage in the business of physically deliverable Bitcoin futures. The time and circumstances surrounding that approval has been a constant source of angst for those in crypto anticipating the heft that Bakkt will bring to the ecosystem.

While everyone waits (Bakkt included), CEO Kelly Loeffler posted an update via Medium. The update spoke specifically about the newly formed Bakkt board.

“We are charting a new course and it requires significant work, including by our Board, so I want to recognize our members. Chairing the board is Tom Noonan, a cyber expert and founder of numerous cybersecurity companies, including Internet Security Systems (IBM), JouleX (Cisco) and Endgame. Also joining me on the board are Jeff Sprecher, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of ICE and Chairman of the NYSE; Akshay Naheta, Managing Partner at Softbank; and Sean Collins, Managing Partner at Goldfinch Partners.”

Progress, if not slow and steady. One could make the case that announcing board members is a bit of a stop gap communication given the lack of visibility around when the CFTC may finally give them the thumbs up.

Still, this news coupled with a refreshed valuation approaching $1B, should fill the room for a short period. Maybe slow down the growing ‘When Bakkt’ memes.

TETHER IS A MESS: Incomplete Audits, Lack Of Transparency, Questionable Banking Jurisdictions; Red Flags Abound For Beleaguered Stablecoin

Tether Limited (“Tether”), one of the most traded digital assets, has been under pressure for lack of transparency and concerns that it does not have the U.S. dollar (USD) holdings to fully back its tokens (“Tethers”) in circulation.

Since 2017, Tether has taken steps to re-insure investors. Each effort, however, only raised additional concerns.

According to data from CryptoCompare.com, more than 40% of all Bitcoins are currently traded on exchanges directly against Tethers1; but the failure to alleviate these long-standing concerns could result in investors seeking better alternatives, namely stablecoins issued by regulated, audited, and transparent firms.

Some exchanges may also decide to move away from offering Tether trading pairs and adopt a rival, regulated stablecoin instead.

Tether’s Response to Industry Concerns

Tether responded to these concerns by stating on its website that “much of the speculation and negative reporting has been the result of misunderstandings of how Tether functions.”2

In addition, Tether’s website states that “(a)ll Tethers in circulation are fully backed by USD reserves”, and this has been “confirmed by “(m)emoranda, consulting reports, industry leaders, virtual currency pioneers, and competitors”.3

The company maintains a “Transparency” page that provides the current balances that Tether is holding in USD and euros (EUR) compared with the number of Tethers in circulation.4 Tether’s website also states that holdings are “subject to frequent professional audits.”5

Third-Party Attestations Issued, But With Significant Qualifications

Tether has supplied some evidence of its assets. Tether, however, has not produced a full assessment of its bank balances or a comprehensive attestation of its holdings by a professional, trusted third-party.

The most recent assessment of bank balances by a third-party was issued by Bahamas-based Deltec Bank & Trust Limited (“Deltec”). According to a statement released by Tether, Deltec accepted Tether as a client after a due diligence review that included an analysis of compliance processes, policies and procedures; a full background check of the shareholders, ultimate beneficiaries and officers of the company; and assessments of its ability to maintain the USD-peg at any moment.6

The statement also noted that Deltec reviews the company on an ongoing basis.7 It is unclear from the statement, however, when Deltec will conduct reviews or what the reviews will specifically assess.

Tether also released a letter, dated 1 November, from Deltec, which states that Tether has a portfolio cash value of $1,831,322,828.8 The reserve funds cited in the letter exceed the number of Tethers currently in circulation by more than $50 million.

The phrase “portfolio cash value,” however, implies that Tether may not be strictly complying with its own assertion that all Tethers in circulation are “fully backed by USD reserves”. “Portfolio cash value” could refer to various fiat currencies, virtual currencies, or, perhaps, short-term unsecured promissory notes.

The ambiguous letter, however, will not likely ease concerns from investors, as Deltec strongly qualified its findings. In the letter, Deltec states that the confirmation of reserves was made “without any liability, however arising, on the part of Deltec Bank & Trust Limited, its officers, directors, employees, and shareholders” and the confirmation was “solely based on the information” provided to the financial institution.9

Earlier this year, a three-page “Attorney-Client Communication/Work Product” prepared by Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP (FSS) was released by Tether. FSS reviewed bank account documentation and performed a randomized inspection of the numbers of Tethers in circulation and the corresponding currency reserves. FSS also reviewed the USD balances in accounts owned or controlled by Tether at its banks.10

The FSS report concluded that all Tethers in circulation as of 1 June 2018 were fully backed by existing USD reserves.11

Like Deltec, however, FSS, significantly qualified its findings, The FSS report stated:

  • FSS is not an accounting firm and did not perform the review and confirmations using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
  • The confirmation of bank and Tether balances should not be construed as the results of an audit and were not conducted in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.
  • FSS makes no representation regarding the sufficiency of the information provided to FSS.
  • FSS procedures were not performed for the purpose of providing assurance.12

The attestation has a few other additional limitations. The FSS findings are restricted to a single date-1 June- and do not confirm that each Tether was backed by a dollar for all points in Tether’s history.13 The FSS attestation also does not name any of the banks Tether was using to hold its reserve funds.

A September 2017 memorandum prepared the accounting firm Friedman LLP (“FLLP”) that is posted on Tether’s website is also problematic. The memorandum states that Tether had at least $440 million and €1,590 in various bank accounts.14

The memorandum, however, states that FLLP makes no representations about “whether the funds are committed for purposes other than Tether token redemptions”.15

The memorandum also redacts the name of banks where reserve funds are held, and the document is carefully phrased, so it is unclear if the Tethers are exclusively backed by USD reserves.

Tether’s relationship with FLLP was dissolved in January 2018 without a comprehensive audit being completed.16 Tether acknowledges that the services provided by FLLP “do not constitute an audit or attestation engagement, which would include a significantly expanded scope of procedures and take substantially more time to complete.”17

Unease over Tether’s Access to Banking Services

There have also been long-standing concerns over Tether’s relationships with banking institutions. These concerns will not be alleviated by Tether’s recent decision to select a bank in the Bahamas to hold its currency reserves.

A July 2017 Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) report was highly critical of the Bahamas efforts to combat illicit finance activities. The scores for the Bahamas for the eleven “effectiveness ratings” are troubling. The Bahamas scored “low” in six categories, and “moderate” in five categories. The Bahamas did not receive a “high” or “substantial” score in any category.18

The report also specifically faulted the Bahamas for:

  • Not providing law enforcement agencies with adequate resources to conduct investigations into illicit financial activities.
  • Limited judicial action (e.g. prosecutions) against individuals suspected of committing illicit financial activities.
  • The low number of suspicious activity reports filed, in particular in the context of the substantial size of the financial sector.19

The selection of a Bahmanian bank follows Tether’s previous banking relationship with Noble Bank International, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which ended earlier this year. Nobel Bank was audited by Puerto Rico’s bank regulator in 2017. The audit “raised concerns,” but the bank has not been “faulted publicly.”20 The bank is currently for sale.21

Prior to its relationship with Noble Bank, Tether lost its relationship with its Taiwanese bank in early 2017 after Wells Fargo & Co. (“Wells Fargo”) ended its correspondent banking relationship with the Taiwan lender.22 This followed Wells Fargo’s decision earlier in the year to end its role as a correspondent bank through which customers in the U.S. could send money to Tether’s banks in Taiwan. Tether was the co-plaintiff with Bitfinex in a suit filed against Wells Fargo, but the plaintiffs withdrew the case.23

Allegations of Market Manipulation

Authorities have not accused Tether of unlawful activity. There is possibly evidence, however, that Tether may have been used to manipulate the price of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, according to a research paper released by the University of Texas at Austin.24

The paper, written by Professor John Griffin and graduate student Amin Shams, alleges that Tether was a possible source of fraudulent buying demand that drove about half of the rise in Bitcoin in late 2017.25

The researchers found that Tether issuances rose in 2017 during periods when the price of Bitcoin was dropping. When Bitcoin was rising, the same pattern could not be found. Once issued, nearly all Tethers were moved to Bitfinex and then shifted to other exchanges, where they were used to buy Bitcoin, propping up the price.26

The authors contend that the findings may “provide substantial support for the view that price manipulation may be behind substantial distortive effects in cryptocurrencies”.27

In a statement, Bitfinex and Tether Chief Executive Officer JL van der Velde said that “(Neither) Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation”.28

In addition, an anonymously published statistical analysis of the issuance of Tethers, dated 24 January 2018, suggests that the timing of new Tether releases in 2017 was “closely aligned with notable dips in the price of Bitcoin”.29

The anonymous report contends that that price data for 2017 suggests that Tethers may have not been minted independently of Bitcoin price and may have been created when Bitcoin was falling. One interpretation of the data suggests that “Tether could account for nearly half of Bitcoin’s price rise, not even allowing for follow-on effects and the psychological effects of rallying the market repeatedly”.30

U.S. Regulatory Authorities Subpoena Tether

On 6 December 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sent a subpoena to Tether.31 Friedman LLP was also subpoenaed by the CFTC.32 According to Bloomberg, the CFTC is investigating whether Tether’s has the currency reserves to fully back Tethers in circulation.33

Tether’s response to the subpoena was muted. A spokesman for Tether (and Bitfinex) said in a statement: “We routinely receive legal process from law enforcement agents and regulators conducting investigations. It is our policy not to comment on any such requests.”34

Tether’s Response Motivated by Fear of Losing Market Share to Rival Stablecoins

Tether’s efforts to increase transparency are likely designed to blunt competition from four recently launched stablecoins that are also backed by the USD: Gemini, Circle, TrustToken, and Paxos.

The companies are substantially more transparent than Tether with disclosures of their holding entities, bank accounts, and regulatory compliance. The four new stablecoins, which are audited, regulated, and licensed, will provide more stability to the market.

Tether Should Increase Transparency to Ease Investor’s Concerns

Tether recognizes that its efforts enhance transparency are “unfinished” and it is taking “additional steps aimed at opening up Tether to the general public and clearing away any uncertainty that may exist.”35

In the near-term, Tether could ease the concerns of the market by:

  • Conducting regularly scheduled comprehensive assessments of assets and liabilities by a trusted third party, such as one of the “Big Four” accounting firms.
  • Routinely updating information on its website that confirms existing relationships with financial institutions.
  • Confirming existing relationships with virtual currency exchanges.
  • Introducing strictly prescribed, predictable rules for the creation of new Tethers.
  • Confirming the destruction of Tethers that have been taken out of circulation to ensure the tokens are not brought back into circulation in the future.

Tether fulfilled its initial promise for the virtual currency community, but its dominance will only continue if it provides investors with a high degree of transparency of their cash reverses, bank accounts, and regulatory compliance that approximates what is offered by rival stablecoins.

The information provided in this report is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with an attorney, financial advisor, or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.

This report was prepared by Trifin Roule.

For nearly two decades, Mr. Roule provided for the U.S. government legal analysis of anti-money laundering, counterproliferation financing and counterterrorist financing laws and regulations dozens of jurisdictions, and international standards, as detailed through intergovernmental bodies (e.g. Financial Action Task Force (FATF)), and financial institutions (e.g. banks’ financial intelligence units and compliance offices).

In addition, Mr. Roule has provided in-depth analysis of digital asset accounting, auditing, customer due diligence, exchange, licensing, mining, initial coin offering (ICO), private key storage, and record-keeping practices and regulations.

Mr. Roule is a former Assistant Editor at the Journal of Money Laundering Control, a peer-reviewed journal that provides detailed analysis and insight on the latest issues in the law, regulation and control of money laundering and related matters. Mr. Roule has published dozens of articles on anti-money laundering, and counterterrorist financing laws and regulations.

Trifin Roule is the Publisher of our new division, Abacus Legal, and his and his team’s reports will be free to read for the next 45 days. After that time they will be dubbed premium content and require a subscription.

  1. “BTC Volume by Currency,” 2018, https://www.cryptocompare.com/coins/btc/analysis/USD (accessed 5 November 2018).
  2. “Transparency Update – FSS Report,” 2018, https://Tether.to/fss-report-transparency-update/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  3. “Transparency Update – FSS Report,” 2018, https://Tether.to/fss-report-transparency-update/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  4. “Transparency,” 2018, https://wallet.Tether.to/transparency (accessed 5 November 2018).
  5. “Transparent,” 2018, https://tether.to/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  6. “Tether Banking Relationship Announced,” 2018, https://Tether.to/Tether-banking-relationship-announced/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  7. “Tether Banking Relationship Announced,” 2018, https://Tether.to/Tether-banking-relationship-announced/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  8. “Tether Banking Relationship Announced,” 2018, https://Tether.to/Tether-banking-relationship-announced/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  9. “Tether Banking Relationship Announced,” 2018, https://Tether.to/Tether-banking-relationship-announced/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  10. “Transparency Update – FSS Report,” 2018, https://Tether.to/fss-report-transparency-update/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  11. “Attorney-Client Communication / Work Product Privileged & Confidential,” Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, https://Tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FSS1JUN18-Account-Snapshot-Statement-final-15JUN18.pdf (accessed 5 November 2018).
  12. “Attorney-Client Communication / Work Product Privileged & Confidential,” Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, https://Tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FSS1JUN18-Account-Snapshot-Statement-final-15JUN18.pdf (accessed 5 November 2018).
  13. “Attorney-Client Communication / Work Product Privileged & Confidential,” Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, https://Tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FSS1JUN18-Account-Snapshot-Statement-final-15JUN18.pdf (accessed 5 November 2018).
  14. “Memorandum Regarding Consulting Services Performed,” Friedman LLP, 28 September 2017, https://tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Final-Tether-Consulting-Report-9-15-17_Redacted.pdf (accessed 5 November 2018).
  15. “Memorandum Regarding Consulting Services Performed,” Friedman LLP, 28 September 2017, https://tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Final-Tether-Consulting-Report-9-15-17_Redacted.pdf (accessed 5 November 2018).
  16. “Tether Confirms Its Relationship with Auditor Has ‘Dissolved’,” Coin Desk, 27 January 2018, https://www.coindesk.com/tether-confirms-relationship-auditor-dissolved/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  17. “Transparency Update – FSS Report,” 2018, https://Tether.to/fss-report-transparency-update/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  18. “Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures: The Bahamas ,” Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, July 2017, https://www.cfatf-gafic.org/index.php/documents/4th-round-meval-reports (accessed 5 November 2018).
  19. “Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures: The Bahamas ,” Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, July 2017, https://www.cfatf-gafic.org/index.php/documents/4th-round-meval-reports (accessed 5 November 2018).
  20. “Puerto Rico’s Noble Bank Seeks Sale Amid Crypto Slide,” Bloomberg, 1 October 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-02/puerto-rico-s-cryptocurrency-bank-noble-is-said-to-seek-sale (accessed 5 November 2018).
  21. “Puerto Rico’s Noble Bank Seeks Sale Amid Crypto Slide,” Bloomberg, 1 October 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-02/puerto-rico-s-cryptocurrency-bank-noble-is-said-to-seek-sale (accessed 5 November 2018).
  22. “Bank Tied to Tether Goes Quiet on Relationship With Crypto Firm,” Bloomberg, 2 November 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-02/bank-tied-to-tether-goes-quiet-on-relationship-with-crypto-firm (accessed 5 November 2018).
  23. “There’s an $814 Million Mystery Near the Heart of the Biggest Bitcoin Exchange,” Bloomberg, 5 December 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-05/mystery-shrouds-tether-and-its-links-to-biggest-bitcoin-exchange (accessed 5 November 2018).
  24. “Cryptocurrency Tether used to boost Bitcoin prices, study finds,” Reuters, 13 June 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cryptocurrency-tether/cryptocurrency-tether-used-to-boost-bitcoin-prices-study-finds-idUSKBN1J92U0 (accessed 5 November 2018).
  25. “Cryptocurrency Tether used to boost Bitcoin prices, study finds,” Reuters, 13 June 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cryptocurrency-tether/cryptocurrency-tether-used-to-boost-bitcoin-prices-study-finds-idUSKBN1J92U0 (accessed 5 November 2018).
  26. “Cryptocurrency Tether used to boost Bitcoin prices, study finds,” Reuters, 13 June 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cryptocurrency-tether/cryptocurrency-tether-used-to-boost-bitcoin-prices-study-finds-idUSKBN1J92U0 (accessed 5 November 2018).
  27. “Cryptocurrency Tether used to boost Bitcoin prices, study finds,” Reuters, 13 June 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cryptocurrency-tether/cryptocurrency-tether-used-to-boost-bitcoin-prices-study-finds-idUSKBN1J92U0 (accessed 5 November 2018).
  28. “Cryptocurrency Tether used to boost Bitcoin prices, study finds,” Reuters, 13 June 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cryptocurrency-tether/cryptocurrency-tether-used-to-boost-bitcoin-prices-study-finds-idUSKBN1J92U0 (accessed 5 November 2018).
  29. “Quantifying the Effect of Tether,” 24 January 2018, http://www.Tetherreport.com/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  30. “Quantifying the Effect of Tether,” 24 January 2018 at URL: http://www.Tetherreport.com/ (accessed 5 November 2018).
  31. “One of the Biggest Crypto Exchanges Is Heading to the Caribbean,” Bloomberg, 24 May 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-24/bitfinex-said-to-find-bank-in-puerto-rico-after-wells-fargo-exit (accessed 5 November 2018).
  32. “One of the Biggest Crypto Exchanges Is Heading to the Caribbean,” Bloomberg, 24 May 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-24/bitfinex-said-to-find-bank-in-puerto-rico-after-wells-fargo-exit (accessed 5 November 2018).
  33. “U.S. Regulators Subpoena Crypto Exchange Bitfinex, Tether,” Bloomberg, 30 January 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-30/crypto-exchange-bitfinex-tether-said-to-get-subpoenaed-by-cftc (accessed 5 November 2018).
  34. “U.S. Regulators Subpoena Crypto Exchange Bitfinex, Tether,” Bloomberg, 30 January 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-30/crypto-exchange-bitfinex-tether-said-to-get-subpoenaed-by-cftc (accessed 5 November 2018).
  35. “Transparency Update – FSS Report,” 2018, https://Tether.to/fss-report-transparency-update/ (accessed 5 November 2018).

TRADERS: BULL RUN: 5 Reasons A Legitimate Bull Run Is Coming (and soon)

The crypto bear market has lasted nearly 13 months, but seems to be turning at the moment.

For the longest time crypto twitter has been a ‘trail of tears’. Instead of bullish posts being all the rage, the latest crypto twitter meme seems to be rage tweets claiming portfolio destruction and leaving the space altogether.

Sounds perfect – to several tenured crypto traders and crypto hedge fund managers. The screeches and audible pain that is emitting from crypto ‘hodlers’ and traders sounds like the sentiment that occurs just before a turn and the makings of a quiet bull market floor forming.

In discussions with several traders and a couple of crypto hedge fund managers over the weekend, we gathered five good reasons why the next crypto bull run could be upon us. Let’s take a look:

  1. Institutional infrastructure breadth and depth: Beyond individual stories about Goldman Sachs, Fidelity or Bakkt – two hedge fund managers spoke extensively about the breadth of institutional involvement in crypto that is on its way to the markets. Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, DRW and TD Ameritrade (ErisX), BlackRock and Coinbase, Nasdaq, Bakkt and the NYSE, and on and on and on.
  2. OTC Markets are VERY robust: One trader told us that the volume on the OTC markets is at a turning point and volumes have recently spiked higher; and not for sellers, but for buyers. Smart money sees the 2018 bear market as an opportunity to buy ‘digital gold’ on the cheap and stash it away for a couple of years. If traditional markets weaken any further the OTC buyers dynamic will only increase and push Bitcoin prices higher.
  3. The SEC just gave muted guidance (via enforcement) that should embolden the tokenization movement: The latest enforcement actions by the SEC, scolding two separate ICO’s, provided further guidance to the tokenization movement and its actors. The short version is essentially this ‘ICO’s aren’t illegal, and we really don’t mind them, just check in with us, pursue registration, and you should be good.’ The ICO enforcement actions taken late last week amounted to small fines given how much those ICO’s raised. A virtual slap on the wrist. And neither announcement claimed fraud of any kind.
  4. Some alt-coins are being destroyed, while others are pumping as we speak: One crypto hedge fund manager discussed Verge ($XVG) as an example of the kind of waste that needed to be burnt out of the ecosystem for the next bull run to begin, “…a token like Verge, built on nothing more than vaporware, hype, cringe partnerships, and stickers on rented lambos are what needed to go away before capital could consolidate and find it’s way back to the likes of projects that are serious and legitimate. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, Stellar (and others) – these are teams that are legitimately attempting to build something that lasts and you can see money flows moving in that direction.” Yet, today the alt-coin markets are flying on the backs of the strength in Ethereum.
  5. Bakkt arrives soon enough: Bakkt brings serious force to the crypto markets by providing Tier 1 institutions the ability to accumulate and trade Bitcoin no differently than they trade gold, oil, natural gas, silver, copper, etc. Trading Bitcoin globally on the ICE exchange networks is 10x the size of CME and CBOE futures trading. The daily gold futures volume on global exchanges is routinely better than $200B. Yes, that is the DAILY volume. DAILY. The late 2017 bull run was somewhat fueled by the Bitcoin futures ramp up on the CME and CBOE. Expect a similar market reaction to Bakkt.

A look back to how some accomplished traders view Bakkt and its ability to curtail the bear market:

“Nothing else on the horizon comes close to what Bakkt will mean for Bitcoin. The depth and breadth of the ICE (Intercontinental Exchange) network and exchange ecosystem means that adoption/trading volumes will skyrocket overnight. The same pipes and structures that allow Goldman, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, among a horde of others, to trade billions in commodities like gold, silver, soybeans, and corn; will be the same architecture used to trade Bitcoin.”

“Think of it this way…with the custody and ‘warehouse facility’ solved inside of Bakkt’s infrastructure you have solved the final issue that institutions have been clamoring for in the digital asset space. Their Bitcoin transactions and investments are ‘safe’ via the warehouse facility, and the ability to go claim their Bitcoin straight from the warehouse should they allow their position to mature to that point.”

“Rather than ‘physical’ Bitcoin per se, you are getting access to Bitcoin being housed in an uber protected, heavily secure facility that will hold the digital asset as the backstop for Bitcoin. That is what the Novogratz’ of the world and Goldman and JPMorgan have been clamoring for.”

“While it would be interesting if Bakkt got the press it deserved, there really isn’t a single ‘name’ banking institution that could accompany them in a headline. And that is precisely the scale of the Bakkt story. The ramp up and volume with be enormous and lightning fast. Within months you will have billions of dollars in institutional cash running through Bakkt’s system, buying and selling Bitcoin.”

“This is ultimately the solution that the biggest players (within banking) want and need. And this move furthers the narrative of Bitcoin as a ‘store of value’ or ‘digital gold’.”

And a reminder regarding the reactions crypto hedge fund managers had to the Fidelity ‘digital assets’ initiative several weeks ago (that aims to compete with Bakkt):

“The rumors out there stem from Fidelity passing on taking a stake in Bakkt and then have run amok from there. They’ve been just as secretive about their build as Bakkt was for nearly two years leading up to their announcement. All we know is what we hear from a couple guys that work at Fidelity, but even that is vague and a wink and a smile. But as we see stuff leaked via the media in some way it makes sense that they would scale up. Bakkt has all the institutional pipes, but Fidelity has that same access, but a massive retail name that can tap millions of customers.”

“The real intrigue here is the rumor that Fidelity considers themselves to be crafting a real competitor to Bakkt. That is a mouthful if you ask me. Bakkt is leveraging fifty plus years worth of exchange infrastructure to establish Bitcoin as a standard and then offer products that evolve from there. Fidelity is said to be further along in the way they plan to leverage that same architecture. If that is true, and that is a big if, it only furthers adoption, and the crypto ecosystem wins. Still, lots of chatter about what could come from a name like Fidelity.”

Even Bank of America keeps grabbing crypto custody and blockchain patents by the armful:

“Describing its place and necessity in the future of financial services, the application reads, “As technology advances, financial transactions involving cryptocurrency have become more common. For some enterprises, it may be desirable to securely store cryptocurrency.” The Bank of America began its development of this online cryptocurrency vault system in 2014. So while top leaders at Bank of America have publicly derided Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general, actions speak louder than words. And they are preparing for the rollout of custody solutions, structured products, and payment systems. Book it.”

A bull run is coming…and if tenured traders are to be believed, it is just around the corner.

POP! BANG! JP MORGAN COIN: Hedge Fund Sources Claim Surge In Volumes And Prices Directly Tied To JP Morgan Announcement

Crypto purists scoffed at the JP Morgan coin announcement – and rightfully so. After nearly three years of shunning Bitcoin and crypto altogether, Jamie Dimon and his cohorts cooked up a crypto of their own.

Every news outlet in the world covered it. Every single one. And the news lasted for days and quickly made its way into the heads and hands of what most crypto diehards would call ‘plebs’.

Guess what those ‘plebs’ did with the JP Morgan coin information? They bought Bitcoin, Bitcoin futures, Ethereum (a whole lot of $ETH) and all manner of alt-coins as the crypto markets surged.

We went on the hunt to find out if a hunch we had had some meat to it. In speaking with our staffs friends and family, every single one of them asked “what do you think of the JP Morgan coin?”

That set our ears ablaze and gave us a reason to have deeper industry conversations.

Sure enough several hedge fund contacts were seeing and hearing the same thing. In the short run, the JP Morgan coin announcement breathed new life into the crypto narrative and added a large slice of credibility.

One hedge fund source said the following:

Every adult with a bank account and a job knows who JP Morgan is. So the announcement of a native cryptocurrency brought interest to a renewed and fresh level that had been diminished throughout nearly all of 2018. My wife even asked me about it the day after it was announced. The huge bounce in volumes in Bitcoin and, for example, Bitcoin futures at the CME are indicative of the wave the announcement caused.”

A second hedge fund source went a step further:

It isn’t that far fetched to foresee a look back in six months and point to the $JPM coin as the catalyst that busted the bear market. Sentiment and narrative play a huge role in what remains a pretty small markets at this point. The JP Morgan news pushed prices higher across the board and those price increases weee seriously validated by a surge in volumes.”

Again, nobody with a reasonable grip on the history and mission of Bitcoin and crypto believes that the JP Morgan coin poses any sort of existential threat to the ecosystem. In fact, those that claim that it may just be another shitcoin may not be that far off.

Be that as it may, everybody we’ve run into that is outside the crypto echo chamber has one question and one question alone: What do you think of the JP Morgan coin?

EXCLUSIVE: BITCOIN ETF ‘EVENTUAL APPROVAL’: Another SEC Commissioner Predicts Eventual Bitcoin ETF Approval/s (hedges on risk profiles)

In a yet to be released post in Congressional Quarterly, the lone Democrat commissioner left at the SEC, makes several interesting claims in favor of an eventual Bitcoin ETF approval, and potentially multiple approvals.

Robert J. Jackson Jr., in a long form interview, set to be released on February 11th, believes that he expects an eventual applicant to meet the necessary standards for an approval.

A leak of the document can be found below:

As is pointed out in the first page of the article above, the last vote taken on a Bitcoin ETF (the Winklevoss ETF) was defeated by a vote of 3-1. A quick check via simple math says that a turn by Jackson into the potential ‘aye’ column would put the vote at an even 2-2. That is a profound step forward.

As reported last week, VanEck and Solid X resubmitted their Bitcoin ETF for consideration after pulling it just two weeks prior. This effectively restarted the shot clock for approval, thus taking advantage of market maturity and changing attitudes like Mr. Jackson’s.

VanEck Solid X has gone to get lengths to communicate with the SEC and its commissioners on a regular basis, hunting for the secret sauce that leads to an approval. It sounds like, based on the above rhetoric in the interview, they are having a positive impact on the SEC’s commissioners.

Ultimately the proof will be in the proverbial pudding – and that pudding is votes cast for an approval or disapproval of a Bitcoin ETF. As legal experts have pointed out, the VanEck Solid X pull and subsequent resubmission pushes the shot clock on an eventual decision into the second half of 2019. Given that regulatory agency watchers believe that the likes of Bakkt, Fidelity, Nasdaq, ErisX, and other larger crypto futures initiatives will have been in operation by that time, the specter of manipulation may have dissipated.

Again, time will tell.

BAKKT EXPECTATIONS: APPROVAL TIMELINE: Sources Expect BAKKT To Win CFTC Approval In March (pending US govt shutdown)

For those of you closely watching the Bakkt narrative, in the hopes that the launch of the Intercontinental Exchange initiative will bust the bear market – we’ve got some good news for you. Sources in and around both the CFTC and Bakkt have been whispering about a potential approval and firm launch date.

It looks increasingly likely, pending any disruption via another US government shutdown, that Bakkt will win its CFTC approval and begin trading physically deliverable Bitcoin futures in March. The sources we spoke to refused to go on record, but were eager to share the potential timeline with us. They walked us through the ‘meat grinder’ that is the regulatory process and what to expect from Bakkt once an approval is passed on.

A source familiar with the Bakkt CFTC approval process said the following:

“You have to understand that the regulatory process is different than any reasonable business practice that most of you would recognize. It is ridiculous if you ask me. But it is the reality that we are faced with and are operating in. And understand this as well, the current administration is incredibly pro-business and pro-innovation; yet this process is still a meat grinder. I am sure that Jeff (Sprecher) and Kelly (Loeffler) are frustrated. Most believed that an approval would have come late last year. Either way, here we are, and an approval looks imminent.”

A source close to Bakkt (an early institutional investor in the project) gave us this piece of information late last night:

In a way the delays have helped gather clients who will provide liquidity and volume at launch. The Bakkt team has used the time wisely and spent endless hours courting some of the biggest banks and names on the street to be trusted trade partners from the word ‘go’. All signs look to be headed toward mid-March for a final CFTC sign off. And for those out there that have talked about Bakkt delaying for an extended period of time – that is ridiculous. Take a close look at the resume of Jeff (Sprecher) and Kelly (Loeffler), they aren’t in the business of losing. The launch will occur days after approval is finalized. Short of an elongated government shutdown, expect that to happen in March.”

Bakkt remains the most closely watched institutional development in the crypto space. Why? The vast network of potential clients already committed to Intercontinental Exchange operations (essentially ALL of Wall Street and any financial institution that trades commodities with any meaningful volume) could be the type of Bitcoin volume that could break the back of the bear market and send Bitcoin higher.

Beyond simply a well-heeled potential client list, should Bakkt be successful their announced joint venture partners, Microsoft and Starbucks (Boston Consulting Group – BCG is also an announced joint venture partner, but we will cover that connection in a separate article), represent that kind of adoption and real world ‘use-case’ network that could potentially bring Bitcoin to the masses. Retail, tech, software, devices, and on and on. This is the Bitcoin dream that has brought some of the worlds most well known venture capital firms to the Bakkt table.

The chatter regarding an imminent (albeit 30-45 days) approval from the CFTC should create a buzz and keep the team at Bakkt on alert. If you’ve been keeping score their staff has more than tripled and the list of job openings continues to grow.

They are preparing for the biggest Bitcoin push the crypto ecosystem has ever seen. That isn’t hyperbole. Google search the daily trading volume of gold futures and prepare to have your mind blown. The only way Bitcoin can be added to the Starbucks app and used to pay for your next ‘coffee milkshake’ is the promise of serious liquidity and price transparency. Bakkt is set to provide that in spades.

BREAKING: COINBASE ADDS XRP: Coinbase Pro Announces XRP Deposits, Accepting Inbound Transfers

And the XRP army rejoices. A collective exhale. The mob has been satisfied. Let them eat cake. And all manner of euphemisms associated with a long awaited, yet inevitable, outcome.

Coinbase officially announced that Coinbase Pro will add XRP, the official cryptocurrency of Ripple Labs, and make it available via several trading pairs.

The venerable and hyperactive XRP army is in ‘melt up’ mode at the moment. Here was the official language from Coinbase:

“After 10am on February 25, 2019 we will begin accepting inbound transfers of XRP to Coinbase Pro. We will accept deposits for a minimum of 12 hours prior to enabling full trading. Please note that inbound transfers require the specification of an XRP destination tag.”

“Once sufficient supply of XRP is established on the platform, trading on the XRP/USD, XRP/EUR, and XRP/BTC order books will start in phases, beginning with post-only mode and proceeding to full trading should our metrics for a healthy market be met. XRP trading will initially be accessible for Coinbase Pro users in the US (excluding NY), UK, supported European Union member nations, Canada, Singapore, and Australia. Additional jurisdictions may be added at a later date.”

“XRP is the cryptocurrency used by the XRP ledger, which supports international currency exchange and remittances. The ledger is powered by a network of peer-to-peer servers. All accounts on this network can send or receive XRP to/from each other, while XRP can be used to send underlying fiat currencies between two parties. In this way, XRP can function as a bridge currency in transactions involving different currencies such as US dollars, Japanese yen, Euros, Francs, and others in use on the XRP network.”

“Please also note that XRP is not yet available on Coinbase.com or via our mobile apps. We will make a separate announcement when that occurs.”