Grayscale $3.8 Billion Investment In Crypto Keeps Growing

Grayscale, a trust fund, has attained a new all-time height to its AUM. The firm now holds a total of $3.8 billion worth of cryptos under management in BTC, ETH, and numerous other cryptocurrencies.

It seems that Grayscale has actually bought around 33% of all Bitcoin mined between February 7 and May 17. The Bitcoin fund is now worth more than $3 billion at current market prices. Grayscale has been ‘aggressively’ buying Bitcoin and Ethereum in 2020 despite the recent crash on March 12.

Grayscale Clearly Looking To Diversify Its Portfolio

While the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust continues to obtain an enormous amount of Bitcoin, the report revealed that Grayscale’s Bitcoin trust has amassed other cryptocurrencies while maintaining more than $3.36 billion worth of BTC.

Moreover, Ethereum Trust Fund also has seen significant growth, as the firm finally decided to diversify its portfolio by adding several major cryptos. A major portion of the firm’s prevailing funds rests in the Grayscale Ethereum Trust, with around $289 million worth of ETH. Compared to the past few years the figures are quite impressive, Grayscale Ethereum Trust highlighted this surge, as Ethereum’s institutional demand continues to rise.

OKEx Accuses CMC of Ranking Binance Higher After Its Recent Acquisition

Earlier in April 2020, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao showed the crypto community how to spend millions of dollars by acquiring crypto data aggregation website CoinMarketCap rumored to have cost $400 million. Currently, this is the most expensive acquisition within the crypto space.

CoinMarketCap recently launched new metrics to rank crypto exchanges on the basis of Web traffic rather than crypto volume or liquidity. According to these new metrics, Binance is now always ranked number 1.

In November 2019, Carylyne Chan, CEO of CMC, stated she did not support the ranking of crypto exchanges by web traffic.

Changpeng Zhao recently tweeted:

This ranking is currently heavily biased towards web traffic, not 100% accurate, but better than before. Will continue to iterate.

OKEx Considers CMC Ranking Biased

Alysa Xu, chief strategy officer of OKEx, called out CMC for its new ranking metrics, stating that they are heavily inaccurate. In a blog post, Xu said, “Fairness and justice are the basis of all rankings. CMC is dead, and we mourn together tonight.”

She additionally referenced consumer experience, administrations, in different capacities. 

Xu further states, “In the era of mobile internet in 2020, ranking with web parameters the list is either ignorant or shameless.”

CMC’s recent update made it clear that Binance is using CMC acquisition to squeeze out its competition. Some individuals believe that the exchange has acquired the market’s most used data site to help not only Binance but also the tokens of projects held by CZ’s friends.

All-Time High for CME Bitcoin Futures: $500 Million in Interest

The crypto community is excited about the most anticipated event in its history, the third Bitcoin Halving. Hours before the event, Bitcoin is trading at around $8,800 after the March meltdown. It seems that Bitcoin futures markets have seen similar excitement.

CME’s bitcoin futures market open interest has grown far quicker compared to other futures markets.

The Arcane Research, a cryptoanalysis firm, reported on May 7 that CME Group’s open interest for Bitcoin futures reached a new all-time high. According to the reports, the firm has hit more than $399 million in interest, surpassing the prior figure of $392 million in June 2019.

CME has recently seen a lot of interest from investors as the leading firms, Renaissance Technology’s flagship Medallion fund and US hedge funds, are intending to invest in bitcoin futures. Paul Tudor Jones, CEO of the Tudor Investment Corp. also highlighted interest in bitcoin futures.

The recent massive growth in regulated futures markets suggests growing institutional interest in bitcoin as an emerging macro hedge against money printing and geopolitical uncertainties,” said Qiao Wang, director of product at Messari and former quantitative trader at Tower Research. 

Rivals Leave the Bitcoin Future Market Open for CME 

In the U.S, CME rivals are facing a cold wind. For instance, the CBOE ceased its bitcoin futures service in June 2019 in the wake of low trading volume over more than a couple of years. Another competitor, Bakkt, is also facing similar issues and currently only covers around 5% of the U.S. bitcoin futures market.

As most competitors are facing issues in keeping the pace CME continues to accelerate faster than other exchanges.

The recent growth of open interest in our bitcoin futures contract demonstrates market participants are increasingly turning to CME Group to express views and manage their risk amid ongoing global uncertainty,” said Tim McCourt, CME Group Global Head of Equity Index and Alternative Investment Products. “We are committed to continuing to provide our customers with the risk management tools and robust liquidity they need to navigate this challenging environment.”

Thiel-Backed Decentralized Texting Startup Likely to Fail

During the 2018 ICO boom, a mania to decentralize everything led to a rise of disastrous investments as projects received funding for products that had no market demand. Some of the developments envisioned decentralized versions of common web-enabled resources, including text.

Text-enabling platforms are big business so there is no surprise VCs, erronously pumped millions into startups that aimed to decentralize text. None ever caught on as the vast portion of the population has insufficient regard for privacy, as has been proven time and time again with the level of information people comfortably release to tech giants.

However, some VCs apparently believe much has changed since 2018, and that 2020 offers a privacy-focused world.

Urbit, a blockchain startup firm backed by leading venture capital firms, Peter Thiel and Andreessen Horowitz, has launched new smart tools for its decentralized server program. Decentralized text is the project’s hopeful means to penetrating the market. 

The firm’s new initiative, branded as OS 1, is packed with a bunch of features consisting of a group messaging app, a note-taking system, a message board, and various other simplistic applications like weather or a clock display. Additionally, unobtrusive lists and white squares are used to create the entire system.

Urbit’s developers said, “OS 1 is somewhere between ‘productivity software’ and a ‘social network,” adding, “We think it’s the beginning of an altogether new breed of social computing.”

Urbit is Developing a Decentralized Internet

Most servers are operated on centralized protocols like Amazon Web Services, Urbit intends to create a decentralized network that operates on private cloud computers. Urbit allows users to operate on separate servers which means there is no need for a centralized system.

The firm also clarified that privacy was a primary focus while designing the chat system. “When you DM with people, messages are sent peer to peer. The system is, in fact, decentralized and pseudonymous by default. No one knows anything about you outside of your Urbit ID.” 

To develop a decentralized and encrypted operative system, Urbit consists of the Nock, a virtual machine, Arvo, an operating system, Hoon, a programming language, and Ames, a peer-to-peer network. The network also uses Urbit ID to recognize every individual with a private key and the ethereum blockchain will be employed to save users’ IDs.

All this is great but there is no evidence that the masses now have a greater desire for privacy than they did in 2018. If anything, the pandemic has shown that people are more willing than ever to give up their data in order for convenience, as usage of Facebook and its subsidiaries  has surged, as proven by the company’s last earnings report.

Unless Urbit manages to offer something beside privacy that is highly sought after and differentiated from existing apps which it competes against, the masses will have no reason to make the shift, as convenience is king in today’s world.

VC Andreessen Horowitz Raises $65 Million More Than Expected

Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm, also known as a16z, has raised $65 million more than its original goal. The US-based firm has accumulated a total of $515 million for its secondary crypto-focused fund, as reported by Fortune.

According to the news, the funds will be utilized to launch various new startup blockchains similar to a16z initial crypto investment fund, which raised almost $300 million in 2018. Chris Dixon, the general partner at the venture capital juggernaut, stated:

“It’s very rare that major, new computing paradigms come along, and we think this is on the scale of cloud and mobile for the Internet.”

VCs Earlier Crypto Investments

Being one of the major venture capital companies in the crypto space, Andreessen Horowitz has funded various crypto and blockchain projects already. In 2013, Coinbase received more than $25 million and Dfinity, a blockchain-based cloud computing project, raised $163 million through Andreessen Horowitz’s initial crypto fund. 

Other crypto investment funds include Compound, Filecoin, Maker DAO, and Libra. However, Kaun didn’t share any information related to the performance of the fund while speaking to Fortune.

The venture capital company also announced the launch of a crypto startup school, a free, seven-week blockchain education program. 

Considering the impact of the current pandemic, VCs support will be very significant for new startups in the near future. Any determined and focused blockchain startup will have the opportunity to raise funds to support their projects.

Giant Derivatives Exchange, BitMEX, Planning to Launch New ETH/USD Futures Contract Settled in BTC

BitMEX, a major cryptocurrency exchange, has planned to launch a new Ether based futures contract for quite a while now. 

According to a report on April 24, the new ETH/USD contract will enable investors to speculate on the future price of ETH. BitMEX states:

“Traders post margin in XBT [Bitcoin], and earn or lose Bitcoin as the ETH/USD rate changes.”

BitMEX brand new ETH/USD futures contract will offer high leverage of up to 50x. Furthermore, The new futures contract is integrated with the Quanto feature of the BitMEX ETH/USD regular swap contract. This new contract will expire quarterly. ETHUSDM20, the initial contract, will end in June. 

BitMEX Working Hard to Remain Popular

The new derivative contract makes its entry at a time when the exchange is losing clients and trading volume. According to a report on April 2020, the Black Thursday event massively damaged BitMEX. Investors lost faith in the exchange after numerous bitcoin liquidations and constant latency problems. Some investors believe that BitMEX intentionally liquidated some positions.

BitMEX is hoping to retrieve some of its popularity by launching the new contract. 

We anticipate that our new ETHUSD Quanto futures contract product will be popular amongst BitMEX users from launch on May 5, and we’re encouraged by the positive reaction we’ve received from the market already, pre-launch.

States CEO spokesperson.

Ripple Officials Have Taken YouTube to Court

Ripple, the largest holder of the XRP coin, has filed a lawsuit against YouTube, the video-sharing powerhouse, in the Northern District of California on April 21. 

The plaintiff has sued Google subsidiary, YouTube, for its negligence on the matter of deceitful scams that have affected the reputation of Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple. According to a report, Garlinghouse is asking for an unfixed amount as compensation. 

The complaint mentions that XRP giveaway scams are flourishing on YouTube but the site has done nothing against them despite Ripple asking several times for action. Furthermore, Ripple points out that YouTube verified accounts are executing fraudulent giveaways and the site has awarded “verification badges” to scam channels. 

YouTube Inaction Is Enabling Scams

Ripple failed to convince YouTube to stop generating profit from these scams videos and now it is looking at a federal court to force Youtube to take action. 

The firm said in a blog post, “We see a dire need—now, more than ever—to protect consumers around the world from dangerous online giveaway scams and false impersonations across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more.” 

The Court file alleges that Youtube purposely profits from fraudulent actions, despite having the ability to remove such content from the platform. Ripple affirms that irreparable damage has been made to the brand and Brad Garlinghouse’s reputation intensified by the “deliberate inaction” of Youtube.

However, YouTube spokesperson said:

 “We take abuse of our platform seriously, and take action quickly when we detect violations of our policies, such as scams or impersonation.”

Crypto scams have intensified amid the outbreak. Scammers are using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to spread news like fake giveaways or requests from the World Health Organization to donate Bitcoin or Altcoins. According to the reports, COVID-19 related scams exceed more than $12 million since the beginning of the pandemic.

Binance CEO Condemns Traditional Fundraising Methods at BlockDown 2020 Conference

While speaking on the BlockDown 2020 conference, Changpeng Zhao, CEO, and founder of Binance, shared some rough words for IPOs (initial public offerings), and VC (venture capital) fundraising methods.

Changpeng Zhao highlighted his confidence in the development of blockchain while trying to show the trust that blockchain-based fundraising methods will create as well as the massive growth achieved in the future.

CZ Highlights The Blockchain Role in Fundraising

Zhao explained that distributed ledger technologies are restoring and expanding global fundraising methods, stating that blockchain fundraising methods have empowered people to invest in a decentralized manner for “the first time in history.”

CZ stated:

Institutional investors cash out, the CEO gets a big bonus, the retail guys get left holding the bag, and then the company [becomes] a really large public company, and the CEO takes big packages and then leaves, and then the government has to bail them out.

He also explained that traditional fundraising methods have been “played [for] too long,” stressing that ”a lot of people know how to play it and they do game [the system].”

Changpeng Zhao also referred to the 2017 initial coin offering bull run as “too hot.” Zhao described the current slumps in decentralized fundraising markets as an “overreaction”. He further adds: “There is a lot of uncertainty, there is a lot of volatility, there is a lot of fear. So naturally, right now, it is a really tough time to raise money.”

Binance Denies Accusations of Embezzlement & Fraud

A Binance user has claimed that the exchange confiscated nearly $1 million from his account. Binance has denied allegations that it embezzled $1 million worth of digital currency. 

In an April 9 blog post, the exchange stated that a false conspiracy theory has suggested the exchange suspended $860,000 from a user’s account back in November 2018, following the direction of law enforcement. Such accusations are made against exchanges like Bitfinex in a near-weekly basis, but are uncommon against Binance and may cause severe damage to its reputation. 

Claimed as Korean Regulators’ Demand

Binance further clarified in the blog post that a crypto project based in Korea was scammed in 2018, and it lost more than 3,000 Ethereum. After losing the funds, the project officials filed a complaint to the district police station. 

Consequently, the Korean law enforcement started its investigation and found that the user pretended to be a Binance councilman and received $8 million from the victims to list project tokens on multiple exchanges.

Binance said that a police report showed,

 “An unidentified person (the “suspect”) sent emails impersonating himself as a ‘Binance representative,’ promising to help list the victims’ cryptocurrency on Binance and other exchanges, for a fee. As a security deposit from the victim, the suspect received a remittance in cryptocurrency (ETH) of approximately 10 billion worth of KRW.”

Later in 2019, the Korean police asked the exchange to transfer the crypto back to the victim. Binance stated.

“After we performed all necessary due diligence steps, Binance complied with the request from Korean law enforcement and completed the return of funds.” 

However, the user, ergo the claimed thief, wasn’t satisfied with Binance’s justification. He asserted that the Korean law enforcement had never alleged anything upon him. The user stated, “I have every reason to believe that Binance misappropriated my money for itself. Communication with them continues from November 21, 2018. It has been 18 months already.” 

In 2019, on request of the user, the Ukrainian law enforcement bureau contacted Binance. The exchange complied with Ukrainian officials’ requests and explained the entire incident while presenting evidence. Ukrainian regulators were convinced with the justification and told that no additional assistance was needed.

Binance emphasized that it was following the direction of the law enforcement agencies. If needed, the exchange clarified it can provide more evidence and assistance to regulators “to fight fraud and bring justice to these cases.”

Vertex Market $1.1 Million Successful Fundraising Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the official Vertex Medium account, the platform was able to secure $1.1 million in funds from private investors in Saudi Arabia. Vertex Market is a peer-to-peer marketplace available in most countries and supporting a wide variety of cryptocurrencies.

The platform was able to conduct a successful private fundraising that was initially valued at $2.2 million. The operation ended a couple of days ago and the $1.1 million raised will be used mostly for Marketing.

Vertex Is Looking For Users

According to the announcement, the team of Vertex is currently looking for more users and they have an initial target of around 250,000 active users by the end of the year.

The Vertex platform is already available in most countries and supports payment methods like SEPA transfer, Paypal or Revolut. The P2P Marketplace is fully functional and offers a few advantages over its competitors but they need more users.

That’s why Vertex is going to use most of the funds in Marketing operations and the growth of the platform.

Additionally, the team of Vertex also announced the introduction of a scam insurance system. The platform currently has 2 types of insurances, a wallet insurance system and trade insurance for the p2p marketplace.