Crypto Investors Are Using Back Door for Bitcoin Buys 1717

Crypto Investors are becoming more involved in the $220 billion cryptocurrency market than many observers may realize. Buyers such as hedge funds have replaced high-net-worth individuals as the biggest buyers of large swaths of digital coins worth more than $100,000 through private transactions, according to Bobby Cho, global head of trading at Cumberland, the Chicago-based cryptocurrency trading unit of DRW Holdings LLC, which handles the over-the-counter purchases.

“Wait until institutional investors embrace crypto” has long been the rallying cry for digital-currency enthusiasts as prices surged and collapsed in the past year amid shifting expectations for regulatory acceptance of the asset class.

Meanwhile, the big sellers — miners, whose computers generate coins by confirming transactions — have begun scheduling regular coin sales instead of holding or waiting to offload them during market rallies. Many of the largest miners have also set up their own liquidity desks and operations.

“What that’s showing you is the professionalization that’s happening across the board in this space,” Cho said. “The Wild West days of crypto are really turning the corner.”

The over-the-counter market facilitated anywhere from $250 million to $30 billion in trades per day in April, according to researchers including Digital Assets Research and TABB Group. Exchanges have recently handled about $15 billion in daily trades, according to CoinMarketCap.com.

“We’ve seen triple-digit growth enrolling in our OTC business,” said Jeremy Allaire, chief executive office of Boston-based Circle Internet Financial. “That’s a big growth area.”

While the OTC market has declined along with crypto prices, it likely hasn’t dropped as much as volume on exchanges, which is down 80 percent since its peak, according to Digital Asset Research. Many institutional buyers have dived into crypto recently because the wide swings in prices have eased, Cho said.

“One of the biggest criticisms of crypto by institutional investors has been the volatility,” Cho said. “Over the last four to six months, the market has been trading in a very tight range, and that’s seems to be corresponding with traditional financial institutions becoming more comfortable diving into the space.” A third of DRW’s transactions are happening during Asia hours, he said.

Large buyers and sellers like private sales because transactions on exchanges can move coin prices. In a private sale, parties can fix the price in advance, instead of worrying about a sudden plunge or spike just as the transaction takes place.

“If they are liquidating [coins], they are liquidating them via OTC,” said Tom Flake, founder of Bcause, a provider of mining facilities whose customers are institutional miners with hundreds to thousands of machines. The largest miners also sell their coins to sellers directly or through brokers.

One of the biggest reasons to buy coins outside of exchanges, though, is that there are often not as many coins offered for sale as the institutional buyers would like to buy, according to Sam Doctor, managing director and head of data science research at Fundstrat Global Advisers.

“At this point in time, because more and more institutions are beginning to enter the market, there’s more of an imbalance,” Doctor said. That’s why brokerage firms are springing up to help institutional buyers find inventory, he said.

What’s more, miners can offer something unique: brand-new, “virgin” coins, which some investors covet. Such coins command a premium of up to 20 percent, according to Travis Kling, founder of the hedge fund Ikigai. It’s easier to prove they’ve not been involved in money-laundering operations, he said.

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NexChange Group and Marita Group Co-Host Africa Blockchain Week Virtual Summit to Showcase Continent’s Technological Leapfrog 8417

NexChange Group, a blockchain ecosystem and venture builder and MARITA Group, an African conglomerate will combine forces to co-host this Virtual Summit. The event will feature key industry players and decision-makers contributing to regulation, application, investment and education across many African countries.

Juwan Lee, Chairman of NexChange Group: “Africa is the next big move for blockchain. We see not just opportunities in the payment space and financial inclusion, but we see significant institutional involvement.”

The new reality has proven technology to be a bridge to a better future. Strong ties between African countries, like the cooperation South-South, encouraged by HRH Mohammed VI go beyond just politics. New economic bridges ensure that Africa is able to bypass certain steps on a technological stair, positioning itself ahead of the global curve. Described by the World Bank and called leapfrogging, it relies strongly on enhanced technologies including blockchain.

Rahhal Boulgoute, Chairman of Marita Group: “Blockchain will revolutionize Africa and provide opportunities for financial inclusion. It is important that we expose blockchain technology in Africa.”

The impact is seen on Africa’s financial map. Over the last years, digital banking and mobile payments have proven to be a real-life case study for millions of users, making people’s financial lives better, ensuring inclusion, and changing the game for the unbanked. Banks, enterprises, and entrepreneurs are changing the continent’s destiny, shaping the investment landscape.

This event backs the efforts of the African regulators to adopt the required regulations to embrace blockchain and become a main global player in the technologies shaping the future. The ambition of the Co-hosts is to make Africa Blockchain Week the key platform for dialogue and networking between all stakeholders in blockchain to transform it into a reality in Africa.

NexChange Group is a venture builder and media platform specializing in Blockchain, FinTech, HealthTech, AI, and Smart Cities.

Marita Group Holding is a global company focused on:

  • turnkey solutions in real estate development, theme parks, smart cities
  • Renewable energy and waste recovery, hydrogen production, electric mobility
  • sustainable agriculture and sustainable development
  • local mining development of natural resources
  • health, medical products, equipment and supplies

ZIM & Marius Nacht complete additional investment in WAVE BL, a leading provider of a paperless Bill of Lading solution 8416

ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. (NYSE: ZIM) and Marius Nacht, one of Israel’s leading serial entrepreneurs and investors, announced today that they have jointly invested in a Series B Financing round of WAVE BL, a developer of groundbreaking blockchain network supporting paperless trade in the shipping industry. The two investors co-lead a round of approximately $8 million that will accelerate global implementation of WAVE BL’s proven technology.

ZIM pioneered the first paperless electronic bill of lading pilot in the shipping industry in 2017 using WAVE BL’s platform and has since widely expanded its use to become the industry leader. Electronic bill of lading is currently offered to ZIM customers worldwide, requiring only a simple onboarding process which is supported by ZIM.

Digitization of bills of lading is revolutionizing shipping documentation, sharply reducing time, complexity, errors and costs for all parties involved, while maintaining a high level of security and, importantly, being far more sustainable than the traditional paper bill of lading.

Aligning with international rules, standards and insurance coverage such as IG P&I Clubs and eUCP 600, WAVE BL’s one of a kind decentralized, digital documentation solution is changing the shipping industry as it becomes the new industry benchmark enabling secure and efficient remote business continuity.

Proceeds will be used to support development of WAVE BL’s business and further implementation of its pioneering technology supporting paperless trade in the shipping industry, as well as in other sectors.

ZIM President and CEO Eli Glickman: “Our early adoption of WAVE BL’s blockchain based platform to promote paperless trade highlights our leadership in utilizing digital strategies to best serve customers and has proven extremely successful for ZIM and for changing the industry. Today, ZIM is an industry leader in paperless shipping processes, and we are seeing growing interest from others in our sector to adopt the platform reflecting the significant benefits it provides to both customers and carriers. This new investment in WAVE BL is a step forward in the path to a more digitized and sustainable future, in accordance with our vision and values.”

ZIM CIO Eyal Ben-Amram: “Since completing the integration of WAVE BL’s platform with our system, we can offer every customer the ability to enjoy the vast benefits of paperless shipping, which is especially crucial during COVID-19. We are pleased and proud to continue our support of this exciting and leading company.”

WAVE BL CEO Gadi Ruschin“Our partnership with ZIM has enabled us to introduce our pioneering technology to a vast audience as we endeavor to become the shipping industry standard in paperless trade. We are extremely pleased with the continued faith and commitment of ZIM and Marius Nacht in our company and look forward to leading the wave of the future in shipping.”

Ophir Shoham, who leads Marius Nacht’s investments in high-tech: “We are proud to continue supporting WAVE BL’s remarkable technology and believe in its disruptive potential, leading to a fundamental change in the way business is conducted across countless sectors and industries. We are very impressed with the great progress the team has made and excited to invest in WAVE BL’s trail-blazing platform.”

Ideanomics Invests in Italian Electric Motorcycle Company, Energica Motor Company 10037

Ideanomics (NASDAQ: IDEX) (“Ideanomics” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce it has acquired 20% of Italian Energica Motor Company S.p.A. (Energica) for the consideration of $13.2 million. It develops high performance 100% battery-powered motorbikes. With this investment in Energica, Ideanomics expands its global footprint in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, and complements Treeletrik’s business in the ASEAN market. This investment marks continued investment in European-based OEM.

“Energica has combined zero emissions EV technology with high-performance engineering synonymous with Italy’s Motor Valley to create a range of exceptional products for the motorcycle market. It also has proprietary EV battery and DC fast-charging systems that have applications and synergies with Ideanomics Mobility. We are very impressed with Livia and her team, and we look forward to supporting them through their next phases of growth,” said Alf Poor, CEO of Ideanomics.

The rapid increase of EV sales that began in 2019 has continued to gain momentum over the past year. The global high performance electric motorcycle market is growing at a CAGR of over 35% from 2019-2024. With its state-of-the-art battery technology development, Energica was chosen by Dorna as a single manufacturer for the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup. With this partnership, Energica has been able to test new battery solutions and innovations in extreme conditions with the best riders in the world to advance its high-performance battery technology.

“We are proud to be part of this unified global platform”, says Livia Cevolini, CEO of Energica Motor Company S.p.A. “Ideanomics’ network of innovative companies will help accelerate the growth and adoption of new EV technologies such Energica.. We look forward to leveraging Ideanomics to capture market share in the rapidly growing global electric motorcycle market”.

Max Dilendorf Serves as a Bitcoin Expert Witness in USCIS EB-5 Green Card Adjudication Proceedings 9526

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has frequently denied EB-5 applications that list Bitcoin exchange-traded-funds as a legitimate “source of funds”. Yet, in an unprecedented approach that included forensic reporting analysis, attorney Max Dilendorf provided an expert legal opinion and due diligence report proving that a green card applicants’ source of funds met the standards to be qualified under this program.

Because USCIS only requires a “preponderance of evidence” showing the legal acquisition of investment funds in EB-5 petitions and offers little guidance for applicants whose funds originated in cryptocurrency, Dilendorf’s confirming evidence was a significant achievement.

The Dilendorf Law Firm, NYC’s top law firm for the digital age, represented several clients in EB-5 matters with the USCIS concerning the clients’ EB-5 investments funded with cryptocurrencies. By submitting blockchain and cryptocurrency expert reports in these cases, the firm has provided evidence to support the legitimate “source of funds”.

The firm’s clients were software engineers and early cryptocurrency adopters who, in the opinion of the crypto compliance law firm, are legally qualified for obtaining EB-5 investor green-cards, as there was little doubt on the legality of the source of the clients’ cryptocurrency funds.

Dilendorf’s legal opinions and blockchain forensic reports, as submitted to the USCIS, included an expert assessment of the following:

  • legality of the specific digital assets and regulatory framework for the involved financial institutions dealing with cryptocurrencies;
  • origin and flow of cryptocurrencies funding the EB-5 investments;
  • mechanism and sufficiency of digital wallets, private cryptographic keys, crypto trading platforms and accounts establishing ownership of the clients’ cryptocurrency funds;
  • KYC/AML compliance measures taken at each point of the funds’ journey by clients and third parties, including crypto exchanges and OTC traders.

Max Dilendorf, Esq. is also a top forensic Bitcoin and crypto expert witness. His expertise has also made him one of the top cryptocurrency consultants for Fortune 500 companies.  Mr. Dilendorf’s recent speaking engagements have included the Thailand SEC, IBM, Berkshire Hathaway, and New York University, to name a few.

Pastel Network Announces the Listing of PSL on the Bitcoin.com Exchange 9046

Pastel Network, the first truly decentralized and scalable blockchain project designed specifically for rare digital art, has officially announced its pending listing on Bitcoin.com, scheduled for March 5, 2021. Pastel Network is a blockchain for rare digital art (also known as “NFTs”) that is built on the secure, battle-tested codebases of the Bitcoin, Dash, and ZCash cryptocurrency projects. Pastel introduces several important innovations to the world of blockchain art, such as the decentralized storage of art image files natively in the network, as well as a decentralized validation process for registering new artworks that prevents near-duplicate images from being added to the system. Pastel’s novel near-duplicate detection algorithm is based on robust image fingerprints that are generated using state-of-the-art deep learning image models and introduces a new form of digital scarcity which makes pixel patterns themselves “rare.”

Pastel takes a different technological approach than competing digital art blockchain projects, which are primarily built on top of the Ethereum platform. Because Pastel is an integrated platform specifically designed for the application of rare digital art, it has its own native Bitcoin-like currency (called the PSL coin). Having a native currency token makes the Pastel Network’s fees for registering, storing, and trading rare artwork very low, which makes it affordable to artists and collectors all over the world. Furthermore, the system includes a native mechanism based on changes in the mining difficulty of Pastel’s proof-of-work algorithm for maintaining these fees at affordable levels long into the future — even if PSL appreciates significantly in value. This is in stark contrast to Ethereum-based art projects, where the cost to create new artworks is currently hundreds of dollars, creating unnecessary financial risks for artists and making these other platforms out of reach for all but the wealthiest artists and the most expensive digital artworks. Even if an artist can afford to pay these egregious fees, the cost of simply transferring the artworks to users is prohibitively high. Pastel offers digital artists a secure and robust environment for registering their rare digital artworks with very low transactional costs, making digital art accessible to artists from anywhere in the world, and allowing a different business model for artists where they can sell larger numbers of their limited-edition digital art “prints” at a price point of under $5, while still making a healthy profit margin.

At the same time, Pastel allows art collectors and fans to purchase rare digital artworks directly from their favorite artists — with most of the value going to the artist instead of being wasted on unproductive network fees and overhead. This allows fans to participate in the long-term success of their favorite artists, creating a reciprocal relationship that transforms an artist’s fans into partners that have a financial stake in promoting the artist’s work. Furthermore, buyers of rare artworks on Pastel are able to trade their owned artworks with other Pastel users in a decentralized exchange that is native to the platform, all while paying modest trading commissions and transaction fees that are closer to the ~2% charged by payment processors such as Paypal and Stripe than the 15% or more charged by art dealers and auction houses, and other NFT platforms. Pastel Network’s low trading fees will lead to a much more dynamic and liquid marketplace for rare digital artwork that has the potential to radically transform the way art is created and collected. Best of all, the trading fees are sent by buyers and sellers to an unspendable PSL address, thus, “burning” them and removing them permanently from circulation. Over time, this natural deflation will offset the new PSL created through the mining process, making PSL scarcer and more valuable.

As Pastel Network’s founder Jeff Emanuel explains, “Today marks an exciting milestone for our project, which has been under continuous development since 2018 with the singular mission of serving the world’s artistic community. We have created an open platform that frees artists from the restrictions of the traditional art market, with its outrageous commissions and dealer fees, as well as its elitist ‘gatekeeping’ mentality that excludes the vast majority of talented artists around the world from earning a living as an artist. With the listing of Pastel on the Bitcoin.com exchange, as well as the public launch of our wallet software for artists and collectors in the next months, Pastel is now poised to disrupt the NFT space with a radically better network design that solves the high transactional fees and scalability issues that plague existing Ethereum-based NFT marketplaces and platforms.”

Pastel Network originated as a fork of the Animecoin blockchain project originally introduced in 2014. Animecoin was based on a modified version of the Bitcoin code and was fairly distributed with zero “pre-mine” to thousands of users around the world. After the fork, the Pastel team raised over $3 million from Innovating Capital and other blockchain investors to fund the development of the Pastel software and to further the goals of the project through community engagement and exchange listings, culminating in Pastel’s pending listing on Bitcoin.com.

Majid Al Futtaim Taps IBM Food Trust to Deliver Food Traceability Across Carrefour Stores Using Blockchain Technology 10810

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia – owner and operator of the Carrefour franchise in these regions – and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Majid Al Futtaim has joined IBM Food Trust, a blockchain-enabled global ecosystem for the food industry run on IBM Cloud. Carrefour will become the first retailer in the region to offer new levels of insight and transparency to its customers about the provenance of their food via end-to-end visibility on products throughout its supply chain, promoting increased quality, credibility and safety for its shoppers.

The initiative will start with two initial product categories, Carrefour’s own fresh chicken brand and microgreens harvested from select in-store hydroponic farms, before expanding into more product lines. All participants in this initiative across the supply chain will benefit from a smarter, and more sustainable food ecosystem. The digitisation of transactions and data provides a more efficient way of working across the supply chain for growers, processors, shippers, retailers, regulators, and consumers.

By simply using their smartphone to scan a QR code on participating products such as Carrefour’s fresh chicken, customers will be able to get immediate access to actionable food supply chain data, from farm to store shelf. The history of the product, including production process, halal and hygiene certifications, date of birth, nutrition information and temperature data, will be readily available once uploaded onto the blockchain.

The growing demand for food traceability is evidenced by research conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), showing that 73 per cent of those responding to a survey said traceability of products is important to them. Of those who said it was very important, 71 per cent of respondents indicated they are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide it.

“Trust in the food supply is becoming increasingly important worldwide, a trend accelerated by changing consumer demands and the subsequent health and wellbeing concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Retail. “It is therefore imperative for us to invest in ensuring quality throughout the value chain while simultaneously working to build robust customer trust and loyalty. In meeting the new market expectations, we are now offering enhanced food traceability for our valued Carrefour customers and improved operational efficiency for our business.”

Majid Al Futtaim is engaging with its supplier partners to enable broader participation in this initiative, giving Carrefour customers access to traceability details across diverse products throughout the UAE, before introducing it to other Carrefour markets operated by the company in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“Thanks to the availability of advanced cloud-based, blockchain technology and the commitment of Majid Al Futtaim to deliver the highest quality to its customers, we are proud to be using this supply chain solution to provide the very best in quality, safety and trust to our customers in the markets we operate in,” Nalla Karunanithy, Chief Digital Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Retail said.

IBM Food Trust uses decentralised ledgers to record transactions in a verifiable way. Through a collaborative blockchain network, critical information such as product origin, transportation, and ingredients, can be logged effectively and accessed quickly by permissioned participants across the value chain and ultimately customers.