Why 2019 Could Be Its Year

An established digital asset exchange has announced it is holding a summit in Singapore to explore new opportunities in the marketplace – creating a platform where crypto enthusiasts can detect industry trends and debate what the future holds after a volatile year.

Bibox, an exchange enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI,) is hosting a summit on Nov 29, and hopes the event will give investors an insight into the strategic changes that lie ahead in 2019.

The company says that token bonds are likely to take center stage at the day-long conference, amid questions over whether they could become a new, widespread investment opportunity. It is reported that ICO crowdsales have lost momentum in recent months – prompting entrepreneurs to find new ways to connect with investors.

Following a year of dizzying highs and lows, Bibox also says demand for fixed-income assets is on the rise, leading to rising interest around token bonds. This will be another topic that’s discussed at length – with a panel convening for an hour-long discussion on the impact these financial instruments may have on the blockchain industry.

Token bonds are a modern take on bonds, one of the oldest financial instruments in the world. In a way, they are a form of debt and they enable blockchain-based businesses to raise money. Bond holders normally receive a sum of money when they mature, along with regular interest payments over the bond’s lifespan. These assets can be traded, and their price can fluctuate.

Two other panel discussions are planned. One will offer Singapore’s perspective on token bonds, while the other will explore the role of institutional investors and market makers in the secondary market. Representatives from Bibox are going to give a presentation to kick off proceedings, with delegates from Vocean, a decentralized crypto financial ecosystem, to follow.

Shifting sands in crypto

The conference comes hot on the heels of two big milestones: Bitcoin’s 10th birthday, and Bibox’s first anniversary.

Over the first 12 months of operation, the exchange says it has opened offices in seven countries. It has also launched the BiboxLab, an “international blockchain hub” based in New York which aims to support top-tier projects with funding, consulting services, technical guidance, legal counsel, marketing, office space and media management.

BiboxLab’s goal is to uncover practical projects that innovate and provide “disruptive solutions to existing pain points” while embracing compliance and regulation. Vocean, mentioned earlier, is one of the first participants. The ecosystem enables fixed-income products such as loans, bonds and derivatives to be issued and traded. Additionally, it can provide blockchain projects with credit ratings and unlock new ways for them to raise funds.

Bibox is also going to launch a European fiat exchange early next year, supporting fiat currencies including the Swiss franc, British pound and the euro. The platform will also reportedly allow contract trading in the future.

In a year, Bibox says it has managed to amass more than 2,000,000 registered users – and according to CoinMarketCap it is the eighth-largest exchange in terms of daily trading volume, which at the time of writing stood at more than $290 million.

Celebrating its anniversary

Executives from the company wrote a letter of thanks to users, marking the anniversary by stating: “Bibox is planning to launch a series of derivatives so as to meet the diversified needs of investors, striving to become a one-stop transparent and smart assets management platform, and we do hope you, as always, to continue supporting us in the years to come.”

The Bibox exchange is available to download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play for Android devices, and software has also been released for Windows PCs and Macs. Five languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian.

Bibox’s Bond Summit – dubbed 2019 New Opportunities for Digital Assets – is being held at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Center, and runs from 10 am to 5 pm.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Cryptocurrency Markets Will ‘Flip Next Year’

Mike Novogratz, ex-Goldman Sachs partner and founder of Galaxy Digital, has said that he expects cryptocurrency to “flip next year” in an interview published by Financial Times (FT) Nov. 23.

During the interview, Novogratz said that “this year has been challenging” for Galaxy Digital –  a company that he hopes will become “the Goldman Sachs of crypto” – adding that “it sucks to build a business in a bear market.”

According to FT, Novogratz predicted that financial institutions will transition from “investing in cryptocurrency funds to investing in cryptocurrencies proper in the first quarter of next year.”

As FT reports, Novogratz also predicted that cryptocurrencies will “flip next year” since “that’s when prices start moving again.”

FT also quoted Tim Swanson, founder of fintech advisory firm Post Oak Labs, saying that Novogratz was “trying to predict something that he has no influence over” whenever he says “something is going to happen with price.”

Swanson then added that many companies had tried to do what Galaxy Digital is doing currently without much success, concluding “welcome to four years ago!”

The article also quotes an anonymous founder of a blockchain company saying that “one of the biggest problems in crypto is the lack of credible merchant banking” and that Galaxy Digital is “well placed to be the first to take advantage of new markets.”

According to FT, Novogratz said that “it’s easy to get sceptical but there’s something happening” after having pointed out cryptocurrency developments led by major figures in traditional finance.

Novogratz in particular cited the upcoming Bakkt, a digital assets platform created by the operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and the digital assets management services for institutional investors recently announced by major investment firm Fidelity.

This week the Chief Commercial Officer (COO) of global crypto payment processor BitPay also stated that these two moves from the traditional financial sector will cause crypto’s next major prices action. The COO, Sonny Singh, ventured that Bitcoin (BTC) will hit $15,000 to $20,000 by the end of 2019.

Bitcoin is currently seeing new multi-month lows, down about 11 percent at press time to trade at $3,850.

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Report: Bitcoin Use in Payments Collapsed This Year

Bitcoin (BTC) use for commercial payments has reduced significantly this year, according to a study by Chainalysis cited by Reuters Nov. 20.

To prepare the study, Chainalysis reportedly surveyed 17 Bitcoin payment processors. The amount of BTC handled by major payment processors reportedly dropped by almost 80 percent from the beginning of the year to September.

The analysis of individual payment processors’ figures reportedly shows a downward trend. At Canadian firm Coinpayments, the value of transactions has fallen by more than half between January and October 2018, Reuters reports, citing data from blockchain analysis site OXT. Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at research firm Autonomous Next, said that “Bitcoin payments processing is seeing a slow but consistent decline.”

Comprehensive data on the leading cryptocurrency used for payments is reportedly not consistent since trades with other currencies are commonly included together with its use for commercial payments.

Although Chainalysis recognizes a growing stability of BTC, the value of Bitcoin payments reportedly slumped from $427 million last December to $96 million in September 2018.

While many believe that BTC’s relative stability this year will result in the mainstream deployment of it as a payment method by both individuals and commercial organizations, some financial firms and crypto entrepreneurs think that stability is not enough.

Joni Teves, a strategist at London-based financial firm UBS, told Reuters that BTC needs to become faster and cheaper, also noting that the development of clearer rules on an asset would help give users a sense of legitimacy.

Some major companies that previously accepted BTC have turned away from the cryptocurrency as a payment method. Microsoft announced in January that after almost three years it would stop accepting BTC. However, it did reserve that position after taking its own steps to: “ensure lower Bitcoin amounts would be redeemable by customers.”

The gaming platform Steam also stopped accepting BTC payments in December 2017, over a year after it began accepting Bitcoin when the currency was trading around $450. Among concerns over volatility and regulatory uncertainty, industry players also cite the issue of growing transaction fees and slow transactions speeds as barriers to wider adoption.

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SEC Report Notes ‘Dozens’ of Investigations Into ICOs at End of Fiscal Year

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Enforcement Division has released its annual enforcement report for the 2018 fiscal year (FY), Friday, Nov. 2. The report notes actions by the Division against fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

According to the report, since the formation of the Division’s Cyber Unit at the end of FY 2017, the commission’s focus on cyber-related misconduct, including ICOs, has been growing steadily. The SEC attributes this to an “explosion” in crypto-asset offerings, which it says are often considered high-risk investments. According to the report:

“In the past year, the Division has opened dozens of investigations involving ICOs and digital assets, many of which were ongoing at the close of FY 2018.”

The report notes several illicit ICOs, three of which defrauded investors of over $68 million: the cofounders of a purported financial services startup raised $32 million from thousands of investors, the “blockchain evangelist” president of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services Inc. raised $21 million, while a “recidivist law violator” raised $15 million by promising a 13-fold monthly return on investments.

The Enforcement Division also noted new key formations in the agency to address investor protection, such as the Division’s Retail Strategy Task Force (RSTF). In turn, the RSTF has launched a lead-generation and referral initiative involving trade suspensions associated with the crypto and blockchain industries.

According to the report, the SEC ordered $3.94 billion in total penalties and disgorgement over FY 2018, $3.04 billion of which was ordered from the top five percent largest cases.

In October, Yahoo Finance and Decrypt Media released a joint report, claiming that the SEC has expanded its crackdown on ICOs, putting “hundreds” of projects at risk. Yahoo and Decrypto noted that there is still a lack of regulatory certainty in the space, and the agency “is not going to provide them.”

The report further states that, in response to SEC pressure, dozens of firms “quietly agreed” to refund investors’ money and pay fines, rather than attempt to reach a legal compliance.

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North Korea Allegedly Backed Two Cryptocurrency Scams This Year

According to a new report from U.S.-based security firm Recorded Future published on Oct. 25, the North Korean government has sponsored at least two scam coins.

In the report entitled “Shifting Patterns in Internet Use Reveal Adaptable and Innovative North Korean Ruling Elite,” Recorded Future’s research team Insikt Group mentions two alleged altcoin scams tied to North Korea.

The first scam coin allegedly backed by North Korea is called Interstellar coin, and was found by Insikt Group in June 2018. The coin has reportedly been rebranded a number of times, going by various names such as HOLD, HUZU, or Stellar. The latter should not be confused with the XLM token.

According to the report, the HOLD coin has been listed and delisted on a series of crypto exchanges, eventually defrauding investors in a scam staking scheme.

The second scam coin dubbed Marine Chain coin was detected in a “couple of Bitcoin forums” in August 2018. The coin, which supposedly enabled the tokenization of maritime vessels for multiple users and owners, was claimed to be fraudulent by the state of Ontario, Canada.

A slew of users complained about the loss of tens of thousands of dollars and scams on the website, which was hosted at four different IP addresses since its registration. Some users pointed out that the website marine-chain.io was a near mirror image of another site shipowner.io:

April 2018 screenshots of marine-chain[.]io and shipowner[.]io. Source: Recorded Ruture

In previous research, Insikt Group discovered that North Korean leaders were mining both Bitcoin (BTC) and privacy-oriented altcoin Monero (XMR), while at a limited or “relatively small scale.”

Earlier this year, Recorded Future released a report investigating the potential ties of major crypto exchange hacks with North Korea-affiliated cybercrime group Lazarus. Insikt noted the potential involvement of the group in the hack of South Korea’s Bithumb crypto exchange, following previous accusations of hacking Youbit exchange.

Last week, Cointelegraph reported that Lazarus stole $571 million in cryptocurrencies since early 2017. According to cybercrime firm Group-IB, the total amount stolen from online crypto exchanges during the studied time between 2017 and 2018 reached $882 million.

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A Year After Launch, BTCPay Has Grown Larger Than Its Creator Expected

First hinting at his project in a reply to a BitPay tweet on August 2017, Nicolas Dorier boldly claimed that BTCPay would make one of crypto’s most popular payment processors obsolete.  

In an r/Bitcoin post two months later, he clarified that his brainchild isn’t meant to “take the place of BitPay.” Rather, BTCPay is poised as a new and improved alternative, a decentralized stand-in for merchants who wanted an easier way to accept bitcoin.

A year later, the project has grown larger than Dorier anticipated. With a community of open-source developers at its back and growing demand from a faithful user base, the payment processor has expanded its support past bitcoin and has integrated with many of the web’s most popular point-of-sale (PoS) plug-ins.

It has become a meteoric success. But for what started out as a hobbyist’s side project, this success has, in some respects, become unwieldy.

A Fork in Response to a Fork  

Dorier launched BTCPay at a time when a contentious proposed Bitcoin hard fork was sending tremors through the community. BitPay’s approach to this hotly contested fork, Dorier told Bitcoin Magazine, was part of the reasoning behind BTCPay’s creation.

“BTCPay was created when BitPay was trying to force all their merchants to use another altcoin instead of Bitcoin. The priority for BTCPay was to make sure that all software written to work on BitPay will work on BTCPay with minimal (or no) change.”

The “altcoin” Dorier refers to is B2X, the unsubstantiated product of the failed Segwit2x hard fork. A controversial proposal at the time, the protocol change intended to double Bitcoin’s block weight limit. While proponents saw this as a necessary scaling solution, opponents argued it would open up security vulnerabilities, and many of these same opponents distrusted the invite-only, conspiratorial meeting that gave birth to the planned fork.

Incidentally, the fork never really made it off the ground. Still, a number of Bitcoin-related companies around the world supported it, and BitPay was part of a not-inconsequential list of companies that said they would treat Segwit2x as Bitcoin, given enough community consensus.

Dorier was not a fan. A part of the NO2X movement himself, the developer decided to create BTCPay in the face of what he viewed as an uneven, centralized decision in BitPay’s commitment to B2X.

His alternative in BTCPay is meant to offer the convenience of BitPay’s payment processor API without the counterparty risk or centralized custody inherent in its parent technology. To create this alternative, Dorier simply forked BitPay’s open source code.

“Redeveloping all of it would have consumed lot’s of my time. By using the same API shape as BitPay, I can basically fork their open source work and easily make it work on BTCPay.”

With BTCPay, users never relinquish control over their private keys, and they can even host their own node to buttress the platform’s services. As Dorier put it, this opens up the potential for “new things becoming easily possible,” such as integrating the Lightning Network or atomic swaps.

With a New Platform, New Services (and Coins)

For those who are less technologically savvy, BTCPay won’t leave them behind.

Node hosting on Microsoft’s Azure provides 1-click deployment for the average merchant, who can pay a third party to host a BTCPay node on their behalf. Dorier stated that this node hosting service is the most popular and oldest available, though a rising competitor is cutting into its dominance. Luna Node is gaining traction among BTCPay’s merchants, mainly because it is cheaper to host on the service ($10/month as opposed to $60/month for Azure). On top of this cost reduction, it also accepts bitcoin as a form of payment and has a more intuitive setup wizard, Dorier claims.

On the topic of merchants, BTCPay’s most integrated plugins are Drupal, WooCommerce, Magento and PrestaShop. Dorier told us that Shopify “is the most asked [for],” though he said that it’s difficult to “get a foot in the door” with them unless you’re a big company.

For those merchants that leverage BTCPay, they have access to more payment options than the platform’s counterpart in BitPay. Though BTCPay is “mainly focused on Bitcoin,” as Dorier put it, community developers have also added support for litecoin, dash, dogecoin, monacoin, bitcoin gold, feathercoin, groestlcoin, viacoin and polis. Dorier believes that there is enough interest for stratis, monero and ether to see their own support as well, though he emphasized that “the burden of integration is in the hands of the altcoin communities,” as he himself will not go out of his way to add them.

With Growth, Growing Pains and Limitations

Even with its fast-growing success, BTCPay has its tradeoffs and limitations.

One of these is lack of a fiat on-ramp. One benefit of BitPay’s centralization and custodial services is that it can support seamless crypto-to-fiat conversions. For a decentralized BTCPay, this feature has been markedly absent from its platform.

Still, Dorier is working to bring this liquidity to the platform, though he did say the solutions were still too underdeveloped to discuss seriously.

One of these solutions is an exchange integration that would allow merchants to forward transactions and autosell them on fiat-ramp exchanges. “Doing this, though, is a headache accounting-wise for businesses,” he cautioned, so the platform would also need to “provide a good accounting feature.”

In another model, “exchanges would host BTCPay on behalf of their user and automatically convert to fiat like BitPay is doing. This would solve accounting issues,” Dorier said, although this function also veers toward the same centralized, custodial services that BTCPay was built to avoid.

Fiat support troubles aside, BTCPay’s success was sprung on Dorier to a point. As we briefly mentioned, the platform began as a side project. Now, the formerly one-man job has turned into a wellspring of open-source development, and Dorier, who holds down two contractor positions at Metaco and DG Lab, said he is “reaching his limit.”

“My current challenge is about not being a bottleneck … Nowadays, I can’t keep up with the number of issues and pull requests to review. I find it hard to spend more time on developing features I want because of this.”

Still, a group of Bitcoin-faithful developers have helped to lighten his load, most notably the pseudonymous BitcoinShirt, Rockstardev and Kukks. With their work, these developers have also increased awareness, something that no doubt adds to Dorier’s burden as BTCPay grows.

Of course, this growth, while cumbersome, means the platform is thriving. And Dorier has plans to expand its offerings further, adding such features as a crowdfunding app, shareable invoices, atomic swaps and a wallet restoration function.

As BTCPay expands, Dorier hopes to continue to lengthen the already impressive strides of the 1-year-old payment processor, with the end goal of overtaking the industry’s frontrunner.

“BTCPay is giving back the power directly to the user. And I want to prove that we can compete, and even overtake the ease of use of centralized services … Ironically, centralized services are making themselves more and more difficult to use because of KYC/AML regulations. BTCPay is becoming easier and easier because we are solving a user-experience problem, not a regulatory one.”

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One Year on, ICOs’ Fate Is ‘Worse Than We Thought’

A new report published Oct. 19 by Big Four auditor Ernst and Young has found that initial coin offerings (ICOs) that raised capital in 2017 have done “little to inspire confidence” one year on.

The report, which is dedicated to what EY dubs the “The Class of 2017,” revisits the same projects the firm first analyzed back in Dec. 2017; the sample comprises over 141 “top” ICOs, representing 87 percent of total ICO funding that year.

One year later, EY’s statistics are stark: 86 percent of project tokens are reportedly currently trading below their listing price, with 30 percent having lost “substantially all value.” Overall, the report continues, “an investor purchasing a portfolio of The Class of 2017 ICOs on 1 January 2018 would most likely have lost 66% of their investment.”

Beyond investment returns, the auditor also analyzed the development of working products or prototypes, finding that at present, only 29 percent of studied projects had either – up just 15 percent from at the end of last year.

71 percent of projects have “no offering in the market at all.”

Of those projects that do offer a functional product or prototype, seven reportedly accept fiat currencies as payment alongside their native tokens, which EY suggests is a decision that “reduces the value” of investors’ tokens. One has even reportedly stopped accepting token payments altogether. Many of those projects with working products, EY suggests, are:

“Abandoning their ICO investors by de-emphasizing the role of their tokens [….] projects accepting fiat usually offer some benefits for token users, similar to points in traditional loyalty programs. However, users do not use utility tokens to store value. To use the platform, users have to purchase the necessary amount and incur related transaction costs and token volatility risk.”

EY continues to outline the apparent double bind that faces many projects; “[t]o become a means of payment, utility tokens have to be stable. If it remains stable, the token is of little interest to speculative investors.”

The auditor found that only ten ICO tokens have seen any gains, which it says are “mostly” in the blockchain infrastructure category; nonetheless, such growth has done little to counter the Ethereum (ETH) platform’s industry “dominance,” EY argues.

Paul Brody, global innovation leader for blockchain technology at EY, told The Globe and Mail in an interview, “this looks worse than we thought.” He compared the ICO landscape with the bleak fate of the late 1990s’ internet startups – in the latter’s favor. Brody singled out one dot-com era boom-and-bust casualty as an example: “At least from Pets.com you could get pets food, [t]hey had an actual working business… a product.”

As previously reported, data through Sept. 2018 corroborates that Ethereum remains the dominant platform for issuing tokens, with a share of almost 90 percent; some have observed this has left many ICO projects exposed to the altcoin’s market losses this year.

Conversely, others have argued that it is ICO developers themselves – who are cashing out their ETH holdings to spend on product development  – that have contributed to the price weakness in the 2018 Ethereum market.

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Nearly $1 Billion Stolen In Crypto Hacks So Far This Year: Research

The losses related to crypto hacks continue to rise sharply, with nearly $1 billion stolen so far this year, new research suggests.

In the first nine months of 2018, hackers stole $927 million from the cryptocurrency exchanges and other platforms, according to a recent report from blockchain security firm CipherTrace.

The document, titled “Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering 2018 Q3,” indicates the losses are 3.5 times higher than the levels seen in 2017, which came to $266 million. CipherTrace estimates the total figure will reach over $1 billion by the end of 2018.

The most notable theft of the year 2018 was the hack of Japanese exchange Coincheck, which saw $530 million-worth of cryptos stolen.

Other major breaches included a number of crypto exchanges such as Italy’s BitGrail ($195 million), Japan’s Zaif (around $60 million) and South Korea’s Coinrail (over $40 million) and Bithumb (over $30 million). Other types of businesses hit included token creation platform Bancor ($23.5 million) and Geth, an ethereum client (over $20 million).

While the biggest attacks dominated the headlines, the report also cited a steadily growing number of “smaller” thefts in the range of $20 million–$60 million, totaling $166 million since the second quarter report.

The report states:

“This data indicates a pattern of smaller robberies on a regular basis and sophisticated professional cyber thieves who carry out hacks at both the exchange and platform levels by capitalizing on exposed vulnerabilities, as well as by socially engineering employees who work at these companies.”

Some other hacks such as the CoinHoarder phishing thefts, estimated at $50 million, were excluded from the report, CipherTrace said, adding that it will include them in the 2018 annual report if the figures can be confirmed. The firm also said that it is aware of an over $60 million hack, which has not been reported publicly.

CipherTrace further revealed that 97 percent of the direct bitcoin payments from criminals went to exchanges in countries with weak anti-money laundering (AML) laws, and that the exchanges have laundered a significant amount of bitcoin, totaling 380,000 BTC or $2.5 billion at current prices.

Some governments around the world have taken stricter measures to curb the thefts, the report said, while many other governments are expected to come up with tighter cryptocurrency AML regulations by the end of this year.

Dave Jevans, CEO of CipherTrace, said in a press release:

“Different geographies are competing on regulations and trying to become ‘trusted’ digital currency hubs in order to grow their economies. We will see the opportunities to launder cryptocurrencies greatly reduced in the coming 18 months as cryptocurrency AML regulations are rolled out globally.”

Earlier today, CoinDesk reported that Tech Bureau, the firm behind Zaif, has revealed a new plan to compensate users after a major hack last month that would see it taken over by another crypto exchange.

CoinDesk also previously reported that the Bancor team managed to block the transfer of 2.5 million of its BNT tokens (worth around $10 million), reducing its total loss to $13.5 million.

Open lock image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Bitcoin Price Close to Bottom, Will See $10,000 this Year: Analyst

The cryptocurrency market capitalization has dropped by $575 billion since its all-time high, and the bitcoin price has dropped by two-thirds since it peaked near $20,000. But a hedge fund manager believes the trend is about to reverse.

Spencer Bogart, partner at cryptocurrency and blockchain venture firm blockchain Capital, predicted a bullish retracement for bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrency market on CNBC’s “Fast Money.” According to him, the recent week’s development in crypto-market could be the main reason why “bitcoin is close to bottoming.”

The week began with TD Ameritrade, a stock brokerage giant, announcing on Wednesday a strategic investment in ErisX, a cryptocurrency spot and futures exchange. High-frequency trading firm Virtu Financial will also give support to the New York bitcoin firm.

On Thursday, veteran financial advisor and billionaire Ric Edelman announced his investment in Bitwise Asset Management, a renowned cryptocurrency index fund. And on Friday, David Swensen, who oversees Yale’s $29.4 billion endowments and has earned himself the nickname of Yale’s “Warren Buffet,” reportedly spread his employer’s portfolio by investing in two cryptocurrency funds run by Andreessen Horowitz and Paradigm.

“Towards the end of last year, when we were at the peak of this bulls market, bad news seemed to have no effect on the markets […] Now we [see] the other side of that when we have a week of news with TD, Ric Edelman, and Yale, and it has almost no effect on price,” Bogart said.

The bitcoin analyst believed that the crypto market would not react immediately to these events, but the inbound institutional capital will prove to be the building blocks of the next bull run. The sentiments appear in line with the 54 percent institutional players who, according to a Fundstrat survey, also think bitcoin has bottomed out already.

Big Players Long on Bitcoin

Institutional investors under the threat of the mainstream market’s instability have started looking into the $220 billion cryptocurrency market as a part of their risk spread exercise. Big buyers have replaced individual investors by pouring in millions of dollars into the crypto space via over-the-counter trading. Under an ideal circumstance, this could mean cryptocurrencies like bitcoin could achieve more stability as larger capital gets distributed among a few players.

“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,” said Bobby Cho, head of trading at Cumberland, which handles OTC trading for cryptos.

Big money confirms a tight grip on the market action. Consequently, institutional players that have gone long at the bottom would not want to take their investment out anywhere below their entry position. Perhaps that is the only reason why financial experts like Bogart appears confident about the crypto’s much-awaited bull run.

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CFTC Chair Notes Crypto Cases in Record Year of Enforcement Actions

Christopher Giancarlo, the chairman of U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (СFTC), said in an Oct. 2 speech that enforcement actions and fines increased significantly in the last fiscal year.

Giancarlo presented at the Economic Club of Minnesota, stating that the enforcement of the recent fiscal year, which ended September 30, was “among the most vigorous in the history of the CFTC.”

The CFTC filed 83 enforcement actions in the last fiscal year, representing a 25 percent increase from the last three years of the previous administration. The CFTC levied as much as $900 million in penalties this fiscal year.

The watchdog has also reached settlements from $30 million to $90 million that are reportedly connected with interest-rate benchmark manipulation with banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank, and Bank of America, among others. Giancarlo noted cryptocurrencies among the commission’s enforcement actions over the course of the last year:

“We have not been shy to take these cases to trial, winning significant trial victories in this area over the past year—including a precedent setting victory in a trial involving Bitcoin (BTC) fraud.”

The chairman also noted inter-agency collaboration in bringing charges against Marshall Islands-based international securities dealer 1 pool Ltd., and its project 1broker.com:

“We brought the action charging the portion of the activity involving derivatives, the SEC charged the portion relating to equities, and DOJ and the FBI secured an order seizing the platform’s website and shutting it down.”

Earlier this year, an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent purchased security-based swaps on 1broker’s platform from the U.S. without complying with requirements set by federal securities laws. The CFTC and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), subsequently filed complaints against the firm.

In August, the commission permanently barred the operator and promoter of the CabbageTech Corp., who had previously been charged with “fraud and misappropriation in connection with purchases and trading of Bitcoin and Litecoin (LTC).” Although the operator, Patrick McDonnell, insisted that the CFTC did not have the authority to regulate his commercial operations, the judge took the CFTC’s side.

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