Ethereum founder and CEO, Vitalik Buterin revealed his non-Ether holdings and revenue sources

The founder and CEO of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin spoke recently about his Digital Currency investments and holdings. He stated that his Digital holdings are almost entirely devoted to the Ethereum Blockchain and network. He disclosed this in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) post on February 18.

The Reddit “Ask Me Anything” post addressed the Ethereum leadership, team and accountability and asked the right questions to the Ethereum team. The Ethereum community wanted from developers to share possible conflicts of interest and future possibilities. Buterin summarized the total of his Digital Currency holdings as mostly Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens.

Regarding Digital currencies outside Ethereum’s ecosystem, Vitalik Buterin said that he has some Bitcoin (BTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), Zcash (ZEC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). But in total, these Cryptocurrency holdings are only 10% or less of the value of his Ethereum and ERC-20 holdings.

Other non-Ethereum tokens include Kyber (KNC), Maker (MKR), OmiseGo (OMG) and Augur (REP), again reportedly less than 10% of Vitalik Buterin’s Ether holdings.

Vitalik Buterin is involved in many projects

Vitalik Buterin also stated on the Reddit AMA that he is a significant corporate shareholder in the Blockchain development and research company Clearmatics. He also is a shareholder in the privacy and scalability-focused Distributed Ledger Technology startup Starkware, which develops cryptohraphic technologies like the zero-knowledge proof algorithm.

The founder of Ethereum also disclosed his external revenue sources over the past year, outside of the Ethereum Foundation. He also disclosed his non-financial involvements in Blockchain and Crypto projects outside of Ethereum. Some of the ones that were disclosed were Plasma Group, L4, EDCON and EthGlobal.

Other of his professional non-token involvements are mainly professional economics and cryptography circles, which he did not specify exactly.

Vitalik Buterin was involved recently at the Ethereum developer’s discussions regarding new smart contract creation and feature sets that will be released in the long-awaited hard fork – Constantinople.

Ethereum community members expressed their concerns about the new features having a negative security implication on the Ethereum Network. Vitalik Buterin was quick to refute these concerns emphasizing the need for evolution and a long term frame for the Ethereum roadmap.

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Full Crypto: Now is Not the Optimal Time According to Musk

Musk’s views do not mean Tesla will go full crypto any time soon. His stance on crypto has never really been a secret. He rarely speaks about the topic, but his views are clear and simple:

“Bitcoin is quite brilliant. Paper money is going away and crypto is a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper, that’s for sure. As with everything, it still has its pros and cons.”

The endorsement doesn’t really mean much considering the current state of the market. Even though Musk believes that cryptocurrencies will inevitably replace fiat, he still thinks now is not the right time to go full crypto.

“At the moment, I’m not sure that using Tesla’s resources to get involved in crypto would be the optimal strategy.”

For someone who’s as busy as Musk, optimal time management is everything. The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla works for 40 hours in one company and 42 hours in the other. With Tesla being an auto company and SpaceX being an aerospace tech company, there is much burden on Musk to innovate.

These two companies have the opportunity to score a massive monopoly if they deliver with groundbreaking new options in their respective fields. What’s more interesting however is that neither SpaceX nor Tesla are actually profitable.

Going full crypto at the right time can completely turn a company around

The companies need to constantly innovate in order to move forward unlike giants like Microsoft and Google who have had plenty of time to sit back and reap the juicy profits. Microsoft and Google can afford to steadily dive into cryptocurrencies and carefully analyze the markets.

The cloud services of Microsoft will be support the NYSE’s upcoming crypto exchange, Bakkt. On the other hand, Google along with Goldman Sachs have been heavily investing into crypto industry films despite the rough market conditions.

As an interesting side note, on the same day that Musk praised crypto, Google reacted. The giant instantly added the Bitcoin symbol to its keyboard for iOS apps.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that eventually electricity grids will start getting decentralized. High tech companies like Tesla will eventually be using a decentralized, peer to peer network of electricity production.

Each building will be able to generate and store its own power from solar. Depending on the type of building, Tesla Solar Roof Tiles or Tesla Power Walls could be used. Regardless of what’s used, the building will become a full node in this new power grid.

Bitcoin and other PoW cryptocurrencies will bloom in such an economy. Modern day science is on the brink of huge waves of affordable, clean and renewable energy. Elon Musk is on the top of that wave and when the time comes, he will inevitably go all in on crypto.

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Thai Parliament Approves Amendments Allowing Issuance of Tokenized Securities

Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly allows for the issuance of tokenized securities on blockchain with new amendments.

Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly has officially allowed the issuance of tokenized securities on blockchain, major newspaper The Bangkok Post reports on Friday, Feb. 22.

The government will amend the Securities and Exchange Act, according to the article. As soon as the changes come into effect later in 2019, tokenized securities such as stocks and bonds can be officially issued on blockchain.

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (Thai SEC) will issue additional rules so that crypto platforms can seek a securities depository license. According to Thai SEC deputy secretary Tipsuda Thavaramara, the regulator will also allow businesses that operate as depositories of securities and digital tokens to apply for such licenses.

Previously, the aforementioned act defined Thailand Securities Depository Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), as the only company permitted to operate as a securities depository for the SET’s securities trading operations.

The Thai SEC will also decide whether a security token offering is regulated under the current securities act or the royal decree on digital assets. The decision will depend on the rights and obligations associated with a particular token, the publication notes.

Earlier this year, the Thai Ministry of Finance issued digital asset business licenses to four crypto-related firms under the recommendation of the Thai SEC Board. Two other applicants failed to comply with Thai SEC rules and were rejected.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center of Thailand is exploring the use of blockchain in e-voting. The solution could be deployed in the short term in a closed environment; for example, Thai nationals living abroad could go to an embassy or consulate to vote and verify their identities on blockchain.

Reddit Co-founder Says Crypto Winter Erased Speculators, Gave Space to Real Builders

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian claimed that the crypto hype is gone, leaving space for true crypto believers.

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and known crypto bull, claimed that the crypto hype is gone, leaving space for true crypto believers. Ohanian spoke on the subject in an interview with Yahoo Finance released on Feb. 22.

When asked if he is still a big believer in crypto, Ohanian acknowledged that the current state of the market is undoubtedly still considered to be a crypto winter, which means crypto prices are depressed.

However, citing Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, Ohanian emphasized that the bear market has contributed to the elimination of speculators, while true crypto believers have stayed to build real crypto infrastructure.

Ohanian elaborated that in his opinion, the extinction of the hype around the crypto and blockchain space is actually a good thing for industry development. He said:

“Now, it’s still to be seen. But what’s a strong signal to me is still some of the smartest people I know in tech are working on solving these problems. They’re building companies that are built on blockchain. The hype is gone. The fervor is gone. But I think that’s a good thing.”

Ohanian was also asked about the announcement from banking giant JPMorgan Chase concerning the launch of its own cryptocurrency JPM Coin, a blockchain-powered asset that is expected to increase settlement efficiency within the bank’s operations.

Answering the question, Ohanian stressed that the recent move by JPMorgan is just another indication that there is real innovation happening since the wild speculation is gone. Considering the upcoming release of the coin to be a good thing, Ohanian still noted that JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon had previously called major cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) a scam.

Recently, Dimon has since clarified his stance towards Bitcoin, claiming that he had not intended to become the spokesperson against the biggest cryptocurrency.

Born in 1983, Alexis Ohanian became a 23-year-old multi-millionaire in 2006 after selling Reddit along with the second co-founder Steve Huffman back in 2016. The internet entrepreneur and investor is also a co-founder of early-stage venture capital firm Initialized Capital.

In July 2018, Ohanian maintained his prediction that Bitcoin and top altcoin Ethereum (ETH) will hit $20,000 and $1,500 respectively in 2018. However, since July 2018, the highest price points of the two cryptos have been maximum thresholds of around $7,200 and $400 respectively, according to CoinMarketCap.

Luxembourg University Postdoc: Central Bank Digital Currencies Too Attractive to Ignore

A postdoctoral researcher from the University of Luxembourg believes central banks are very interested in launching CBDCs.

The idea of issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) is too attractive to ignore, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Luxembourg wrote in a study. The research was shared by the Oxford Business Law Blog on Friday, Feb. 22.

Hossein Nabilou, a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Law, Economics, and Finance of the University of Luxembourg, presented his findings in a study entitled “Central Bank Digital Currencies: Preliminary Legal Observations.” The report focused on potential challenges that launching a CBDC might cause for the European Central Bank (ECB).

According to Nabilou, cryptocurrencies have significantly impacted the banking sector. He writes how their functionality, similar to money issued by a central bank, first drew banks’ attention. Banks were also preoccupied with the idea that cryptocurrencies could ruin their monopoly on controlling the circulation of money and influence the stability of existing financial systems, Nabilou believes.

Thus, CBDCs can be treated as a policy response to the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, he continues. Despite the prevailing scepticism towards crypto and several failed attempts to launch a state-backed coin, such as the Venezuelan Petro, central banks are actively studying the technology behind digital currencies. Some of them even have the possibility of launching a CBDC in their agenda, the researcher writes.

However, if the ECB launches a digital currency, it might lead to banking disintermediation, Nabilou continues. Customers will get direct access to the central bank’s balance sheets, and consequently there will be no reason for them to hold balances within a commercial bank, which might lead to overall banking sector instability.

Moreover, such a move would centralize the credit allocation and undermine the principle of an open market economy with free competition, violating the constitutional constraints set by the EU. For those reasons, the ECB is unlikely to issue a CBDC unless the appropriate regulations are introduced, Nabilou concludes.

Venezuela was one of the first countries to launch a state-backed coin in 2018. Despite the efforts taken by the government, the Petro has seemingly failed to help bail out the country’s economy. Several banks in Iran have also supported a gold-backed digital currency dubbed PayMon, while Egypt is still considering a possibility of launching a CBDC.

Some central bank officials have publicly shared Nabilou’s view on CBDCs. For instance, South Korea’s central bank has recently issued a warning over CBDCs, stating that they would result in mass withdrawals of funds from private institutions, squeezing liquidity and pushing up interest rates.

Third-Top Exchange OKEx Lists Ripple and Bitcoin Cash on Customer-to-Customer Platform

The OKEx C2C platform has listed Ripple and Bitcoin Cash while delisting NEO, QTUM and Exchange Union (XUC).

Malta-based major cryptocurrency exchange OKEx has listed Ripple (XRP) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) on its customer-to-customer (C2C) trading platform, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Feb. 22.

OKEx, the top third crypto trading market by daily trading volumes at press time, now allows users to buy or sell XRP and BCH with five supported fiat currencies: the British pound (GBP), Chinese renminbi (CNY), Vietnamese dong (VND), Russian ruble (RUB) and Thai baht (THB) on the OKEx C2C trading platform.

The Thai baht was added to the OKEx C2C platform in mid-February.

During the newest upgrade, all services on the OKEx C2C platform will remain as normal, the announcement states. The platform allows users to place orders with self-selected exchange rates and payment method, purchasing or selling crypto from other users using fiat with zero transaction fees.

The new listings are added to already supported biggest cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC), major stablecoin Tether (USDT), top altcoin Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC), the fifth top cryptocurrency by market cap at press time.

At the same time, OKEx has announced the delisting of three cryptocurrencies: on Feb. 25, OKEx will stop supporting 17th ranked cryptocurrency NEO (NEO), as well as QTUM (QTUM) and Exchange Union (XUC).

Recently, OKEx has listed four new crypto derivative pairs to its platform, enabling users to trade Bitcoin SV (BSV), QTUM, DASH (DASH) and NEO against Bitcoin or Tether on margin with a 3x leverage option.

The newly listed XRP coin is the third-top cryptocurrency by market cap at press time, having lost its top coin position in January. Recently, CEO and representative director of Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings outlined Ripple as one of the reasons to remain optimistic about the future of the crypto industry.

Bitcoin Cash, a cryptocurrency created as a result of a Bitcoin hard fork in August 2017, is now ranked the sixth-top crypto by market cap. Recently, major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange and wallet service provider Coinbase has listed BCH on its Coinbase Wallet.

Principality of Andorra to Implement Blockchain Tech for Digitizing Academic Degrees

Andorra will implement blockchain tech in storage of its higher education degrees, with plans to expand to lower degrees.

The government of Andorra will implement blockchain technology in the country’s higher education system, Spanish-language news outlet EuropaPress reported on Feb. 21.

The Principality of Andorra, a sovereign landlocked state on the Iberian Peninsula, will digitize national higher education by implementing blockchain technology for storing all academic degrees.

The initiative is aimed at creating a more secure registry processes, EuropaPress reports. Academic degrees recorded via blockchain tech can not be eliminated or modified, and the tech will also allow for the reduction of “administrative expenses derived from the current analogue process,” the article notes.

The access to the blockchain is to be provided by Andorra Telecom, the national telecom company, which is responsible for the distribution of digital terrestrial and radio broadcast services in the Principality of Andorra.

Europa Press also states that blockchain tech would allow for easier access to higher education:

“It opens the possibility that in the future the Hague Apostille in the recognition of titles at an international level will not be necessary.”

The Hague Apostille is a certificate through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states.

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, the Maltese government signed a two-year contract with a software company to store all educational certificates, including secondary school certificates issued by the state, church and independent schools, with blockchain technology.

Earlier this month, the Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Education and Science announced plans to implement blockchain technology in the country’s main graduation examination starting this year, as Cointelegraph wrote on Feb. 5.

Coinbase CEO: Defunct Exchange QuadrigaCX Likely Did Not Plan Exit Scam

Brian Armstrong has cited the company’s lengthy history as proof its intentions were not fraudulent.

The CEO of United States cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase added to theories surrounding the downfall of Canadian platform QuadrigaCX in fresh social media comments on Feb. 21.

In a series of tweets, Brian Armstrong suggested the exchange, which is currently undergoing restructuring procedures and owes creditors around $190 million, did not attempt fraud.

“(QuadrigaCX) was one of the oldest exchanges in existence (founded in 2013). If they planned an exit scam, it likely would have been timed better,” he summarized.

Users of the now-defunct Quadriga are currently battling through the courts to secure missing funds. The exact circumstances under which their deposits disappeared remain uncertain; the exchange’s CEO, Gerald Cotten, unexpectedly died in December.

Since then, multiple claims have raised the prospect that funds were mismanaged and that the official information from Quadriga’s representatives may not match the facts resulting from blockchain analysis.

Coinbase had conducted investigations of its own, Armstrong said, likewise suggesting the last months of operations posed questions about its management.

“Sequence of events suggests this was a mismanagement with later attempt to cover for it,” he wrote, adding:

“This implies that at least few people inside Qadriga (sic) knew that they were running fractional. If so, then it’s possible that untimely death of their CEO was used as an outlet to let the company sink.”

Big Four auditor Ernst & Young is currently in charge of consolidating Quadriga’s wallets and accounts. On Thursday, the exchange transferred its remaining accessible wallet balances to the company’s possession.

Crypto Hedge Fund Pantera Capital Seals $130 Million for Third Crypto Venture Fund

Crypto hedge fund Pantera Capital has already sealed $130 million out of a $175 million target for its third crypto venture fund.

Crypto hedge fund Pantera Capital has already sealed $130 million out of a $175 million target for its third crypto venture fund. The development was shared with Cointelegraph in private correspondence with Pantera president Bill Healy on Feb. 22.

For Pantera’s debut fund in 2013, the firm had raised $13 million, rising to $25 million for its second. As reported in August 2018, Pantera raised the game for its third offering, saying at the time that the $175 million target was “a function of how fast the space is moving, the talent coming in, the opportunities, and the sizing of rounds.” Healy today told Cointelegraph that:

“Blockchain venture equity continues to be very strong, both in terms of returns and deal flow.  Pantera’s first two venture funds, which were launched in 2013 and 2015, are currently valued at 7.2x and 2.8x, respectively.  [For the third,] we’ve raised $130mm of the $175mm fund in the previous closing. Venture Fund III will have its final close on March 28th.”

Pantera executives have previously disclosed that $100 million from 140 investors had already raised by mid-August 2018, according to a CNBC report at the time. The fund reportedly has a decade-long investment period, and offers investors equity in a blockchain company in return for their capital.

Healy revealed the fund’s activities to date, outlining that:

“Our third blockchain venture fund has invested $30 million into nine portfolio companies.  Pantera was joined by BCG and Microsoft as a founding investor in Bakkt, the newly formed subsidiary of the parent of the New York Stock Exchange (Intercontinental Exchange – NYSE: ICE). Pantera led the funding rounds in five deals, including Blockfolio and, most recently, Staked. Our investments in StarkWare and Synthetic Minds have also been announced.”

As reported in August, Pantera has also been developing nontraditional venture funds for crypto investors, such as an investment strategy with input from machine learning and a hedge fund that focuses on initial coin offerings (ICO).

In December, the hedge fund published a newsletter warning that a quarter of its ICO projects could be found to be in violation of United States’ securities laws, and would potentially be compelled to repay investors.

Pantera’s most recently led funding round, as Healy noted, was in crypto staking startup, Staked — a venture that manages clients’ deposited and staked cryptocurrencies, which generate block rewards.

Whereas ICO investments may face the adverse impact of the cryptocurrency market slump and regulatory crackdowns, some have proposed that that proof-of-stake token investments can provide a profitable investment strategy regardless of market conditions.

Korea Exchange Official: US Decision on Bitcoin ETF Will Set Tone for Local Crypto Market

An official at South Korea’s sole securities exchange operator says the bourse is closely eyeing developments in regard to crypto ETFs.

An official at South Korea’s sole securities exchange operator, the Korea Exchange (KRX), says the bourse is closely eyeing developments from United States regulators in regard to Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The official, reportedly speaking on condition of anonymity, was cited by local English-language daily The Korea Herald on Feb. 20.

ETFs are securities that track a basket of assets proportionately represented in the fund’s shares. They are seen by some as a potential development that would herald the widespread adoption of crypto as a regulated and passive investment instrument.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has to date either rejected or postponed its decision on a wide range of proposed crypto-related ETFs. With the SEC’s review period of one proposal now set to come to a close by April, the KRX official reportedly remarked:

“The US has been the front-runner on the cryptocurrency market and related derivatives, and there are strong voices supporting the launch of Bitcoin ETFs within the market — which is why we are observing the progress and response of the US [SEC]’s decision on Bitcoin ETFs.”

The official added that KRX is extensively discussing the provision of a solid Bitcoin index, which would be “required for the launch of such ETFs […] when […] commercialized and integrated into the market […] because it would eventually concern investor protection issues.”

As The Korea Herald further reports, South Korea’s burgeoning blockchain space has reportedly already seen the launch of blockchain ETFs by local investment banks and asset management firms — products whose listing is eased by the relatively lower level of scrutiny they receive from the country’s watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Service.

Lee Kyung-ho, a professor at Korea University’s Graduate School of Information Security, reportedly argued that the health of the local blockchain sector would eventually pave the way to cryptocurrency ETF integration, remarking that:

“With the government expanding its investment in research and development of blockchain technology, the projects are expected to minimize or eliminate the risk of integrating ETF transactions in the cryptocurrency market.”

Lee further pointed to the fact that prospective Bitcoin ETF trading relies on robust Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering compliance, which the Korean has already increasingly been requiring of domestic crypto exchanges.

In a recent interview with Cointelegraph, prominent CNBC commentator, crypto analyst and investor Brian Kelly said he believes there is no shot for a Bitcoin ETF this year — but a very good chance in 2020.