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Microsoft Azure Announces Blockchain Token and Data Management Service

Microsoft’s blockchain-enabled cloud service Microsoft Azure announced new tokenization and blockchain data management services.

In a post published on the official Microsoft Azure blog on Dec. 6, the IT service giant announced the Azure Blockchain Tokens and blockchain data manager.

New tools for Azure blockchain users

The Azure Blockchain Tokens service aims to simplify the definition, creation and management of compliant tokens built to industry standards. The firm also provides pre-built templates for common uses and hosts a gallery for templates created by partners, which are expected to be added in the future. The announcement reads:

“With this latest offering, we can now offer customers an end-to-end experience of easily creating and managing tokens for physical or digital assets via Azure Blockchain Tokens (preview), in addition to managing the blockchain network itself via Azure Blockchain Service.”

The other service announced, blockchain data manager, is a new Azure Blockchain Service feature designed to allow its users to capture blockchain ledger data, transform and decrypt it if it is encrypted and deliver it to multiple sources. Per the announcement, this new functionality simplifies “the cumbersome task of integrating existing applications with data that sits on a blockchain ledger.”

Earlier this week, Microsoft Azure also announced “Azure Heroes” non-fungible blockchain tokens aimed at rewarding its developer community.

Blockchain is seeing increasing adoption in the most disparate of industries. As Cointelegraph illustrated in a dedicated analysis yesterday, one of the latest examples is provided by the use of blockchain in combination with 3D printing to enhance aerospace supply chains.

Bitcoin Price Must Now Break $8.2K to End 6-Month Losing Streak

While Bitcoin (BTC) is in a range between $6,800-$8,200, some altcoins have shown impressive movements during the past week. Some examples are MATIC (+83%) and RVN (+46%). These movements generally occur during low volatility periods in Bitcoin. 

Crypto market daily performance

Crypto market daily performance. Source: Coin360

Now that Bitcoin is attempting to rally above $7,600, into its previous trading range, new analysis and perspectives are needed in order to see if the market can provide continued upside movement for altcoins. 

Bitcoin stuck in a bearish range

Bitcoin’s trend still favors the downside as is shown in the 12-hour chart below.

BTC USD 12-hour chart

BTC USD 12-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The trend is still down where lower highs and lower lows are created. However, the price temporarily found a bottom at $6,500-$6,800. Since that bottom formation, a range is defined between $6,800 and $7,800, in which the $7,800 area is the upper resistance zone.

Another indicator providing range-bound confirmations is the decrease of volume within such a range. During the dropdown from $8,400 to $6,500 the price started to accelerate, which caused the volume to increase. However, the moment the price is inside a range, volume usually decreases and goes away. The consequence is that the weird “Bart Simpson” pattern happens and liquidation hunts occur. 

Why? The volume is overall lower, which also means that order books are thin. This results in more effortless stop hunt movements as the required volume to execute such a move is much lower. 

Support spotted on the 4-hour chart

BTC USD 4-hour chart

BTC USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 4-hour chart is showing the same range levels. The price couldn’t clear the $7,800 resistance, through which the price retraced towards the green area around $7,000 for a support test. 

This confirmed support (including bullish divergences on smaller time frames), and the price moved back up towards the upper parts of the range in the $7,800 area. 

The $7,400 level is most important for now as this is a healthy horizontal level where the price needs to hold to justify a continued trend upwards. 

Falling wedge bottom construction

BTC USD 2-hour chart

BTC USD 2-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 2-hour chart shows a falling wedge construction, which led to the breakout to $7,800. However, the same day the price retraced back towards the previous support area in which the green zone once again confirmed the support area. 

Then, a natural slow gain towards the $7,400 area occurred, and now the price finally broke through this level upwards (as is recognized by the arrow).

Total market cap stuck in falling wedge structure 

Total market capitalization chart

Total market capitalization chart. Source: TradingView

The total market capitalization is showing a similar structure as Bitcoin. However, it’s more of a falling wedge structure rather than a downwards trending channel (even though the two don’t have many distinguishing characteristics).

In this regard, the purple area is still holding as support while the resistance defines the upper range at $213 billion.

Is the pattern repeating again?

Total market capitalization chart

Total market capitalization chart. Source: TradingView

The recent movements of the cryptocurrency market are showing similarities with the movements that took place throughout October. Through that, an upwards push is quite likely to occur towards the $215-217 billion zones (similar to the movements in October).

If this occurs, market liquidity is taken to the upside, which would make the market bullish overall. If the price is once again rejected at that resistance area, it’s likely that a retest of the purple area is needed. Through that the price is able to get the liquidity from the downside and create bullish divergences, generally marking a bottom formation. 

Would that be bad? 

Not at all! 

Remember that the price came from $3,100 earlier this year and is currently testing at which level support can be found (and a potential higher low). If the price and total market capitalization can do that here, market performance in 2020 could be astounding. The question is, what is needed for bullish perspectives over the short term? 

Bullish scenario 

BTC USD bullish scenario

BTC USD bullish scenario. Source: TradingView

Still, several scenarios can qualify for a bullish scenario. The short term vision is quite strict in which the $7,400 area plays an important role. The green area around $7,400 needs to be maintained as support in this scenario. If that’s the case, continuation towards the $7,800 resistance and the main upper resistance zone at $8,200 is likely to occur.

However, flipping towards a bigger horizon, the price needs to clear that $8,200 area to confirm a trend shift. Why? Well, through that push, the price will be able to break the downtrend and start a potential upward trend. 

Bearish scenario

BTC USD bearish scenario

BTC USD bearish scenario. Source: TradingView

The bearish scenario needs a bit more explanation. Either way, a test of $7,800 could occur through which a hard rejection (preferably a wick and instant dropdown) needs to occur. This is most likely to be followed by a drop below $7,400. 

However, on the other hand, if $7,400 doesn’t provide the required support, this bearish outlook could play out as well.

Would one expect to see the lower area to hold support then? To be honest, it seems unlikely but traders will be watching closely to see further downside in which the $6,800 region becomes interesting. It might even be possible to clear the liquidity below the lows before the price can surge to $8,000. 

Looking forward

it is clear that Bitcoin’s volatility is decreasing and could remain low for a couple of weeks. The range is defined by the $6,800 to $8,000 area where Bitcoin price could be hover for a few weeks before it tests the downward trendline. 

What does that mean for price action within the altcoin market? Possibly, altcoins will have more space to make their moves and these range-bound plays are quite attractive for leverage traders. 

Don’t get stressed out by minimal movements of Bitcoin inside a tightening range —  focus on the longer timeframe. 

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Bitcoin Price Showing Hidden Signs of Reversing — Next Target $8.2K

This week Bitcoin (BTC) continued to trade within a tightly defined range and at the time of writing the price is flat. The bulls and bears have been throwing the market back and forth with moments of high volatility on the lower timeframes, all of which are often a sign of a larger move simmering beneath the surface.

The wider market remains in a similar position, although some altcoins like XRP have slightly outperformed Bitcoin over the past 24 hours. 

Cryptocurrency market daily view. Source: Coin360Cryptocurrency market daily view. Source: Coin360

Watch the weekly chart

BTC USD Weekly chart. Source: TradingViewBTC USD Weekly chart. Source: TradingView

Analyzing the weekly chart shows that Bitcoin has fundamentally been locked in a bearish posture for close to six months and this is defined by the downward sloping diagonal resistance. 

Major resistance was found at $11,500 and the $9,500 and $7,500 support eventually turned into resistance. Support has now been found at $6,500 which was a critical bullish rejection level in the first half of the year and is demonstrative of a high volume node on the VPVR.

Bitcoin is currently trading up against previous support which has flipped to resistance and the Doji candlestick is a clear sign of indecision in the market as traders are pushing price within a clear range and coming back to the center. 

This shows that the bulls and bears are struggling to find a direction. Bitcoin price can either reverse course or find continuation of the previous candle but ultimately, the current price action defines the week to date quite nicely.

Moving averages provide useful insight 

The 50 and 100-week moving average (WMA) are in the process of crossing bullish which has only occurred a few times in Bitcoin’s history and has signaled an impending upside move. It is important to note that moving averages do not drive a market, they lag the market but can help to identify macro changes in the market’s direction. 

The 200-WMA is situated in the $5,000 range where there is also some historic volume interest at this price range. Many analysts are calling for a retest of the 200-WMA which would likely be a last line of defense for bulls. This would also be unprecedented at this stage in the Bitcoin market cycle. 

Generally, volume on spot exchanges has been decreasing through the circa six-month decline which is typically a sign of sellers becoming exhausted as each push lower entices fewer participants to sell. 

The moving average convergence divergence (MACD) has crossed the zero line to the bearish side, meaning that the underlying moving averages are now crossed bearishly. However, there is a higher low forming on the histogram which is an unconfirmed bullish divergence.

Thus, on a macro level, it seems as though the market is either at a turning point or it is looking to prepare for continuation; unlike previous weeks, it is a less clear picture.

Daily chart

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingViewBTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

The daily chart clearly shows the downward trending channel in which Bitcoin has spent months trading, defined by lower highs and lower lows. The lower 25% of the channel has acted as support and resistance throughout the downtrend and is once again being tested. 

The outcome is normally an explosive move up or a retest of the bottom of the channel. The 50% retracement of the channel is currently at $8,200 and would represent a reasonable breakout target. A retest of the channel could possibly occur at $6,500. 

The MACD histogram shows that there is bullish divergence forming and the MACD line itself has crossed bullish and plotted a higher low which is also a sign of bullish divergence.

The on-balance volume indicator (OBV), a tool that is demonstrative of the directional strength of cumulative volume, also shows a bullish divergence which is concurrent with the decreasing volume on the weekly chart. The OBV is however still trending down and a break out may imply a turn in the market. 

Overall, the daily chart shows a reasonable case for the bulls but is strongly defined by the downtrend which must be respected.

4-hour chart

BTC USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingViewBTC USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The 4-hour chart shows that Bitcoin is trading within a horizontal range between $7,900 and $6,500 and the digital asset has found support at the equilibrium of the two local extremities. At present, the 50% Fibonacci retracement ($7,200) is acting as support. 

This is a positive sign for the bulls who hope to retest the upper $7,000s. However, failure to hold above $7,000 will almost inevitably lead to a retest of $6,500 which is in line with the downward channel on the daily chart. At present, the price action is leaning bullish but only marginally.

If the bulls can reach out and close in the upper $7,000s, Bitcoin price will complete an Adam and Eve pattern, which would imply that a move well into the $8,000s and as high at $9,000 would be possible. This would be quite significant and does make sense as it would mean Bitcoin reclaimed the previous weekly trading range, but at this stage is just pure conjecture rather than a direct prediction of an imminent move. 

On the 4-hour timeframe, the MACD is reaching out towards the zero line, painting a higher high on the histogram, both of which are supporting the bullish case in the market. Trading volume is also declining within the range which implies that the market is winding up to make a definitive move.

BTC USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingViewBTC USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Looking forward

In summary, the market remains in a downtrend so any bullish signs must be taken somewhat lightly. However, it is clear across all timeframes that Bitcoin’s price action is attempting to flip to the bullish side. 

There are signs in the trading volume and the momentum in which the decline has somewhat subsided. The likely outcome is that there will be more volatility within this current consolidation before Bitcoin makes more of a definitive move to retest previous critical weekly support and resistance levels.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the (@filbfilb) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Private Blockchain Browser Brave Doubles Monthly Active Users in 2019

Privacy-oriented blockchain web browser Brave has seen its monthly active users (MAU) almost double from 5.5 million in 2018 to 10.4 million in 2019. At the same time, Brave’s daily active users (DAU) have tripled over the past year to reach 3.3 million, the firm announced Dec. 5.

According to the company, the recent growth in MAU follows the release of Brave’s new version, Brave 1.0, on Nov. 13. According to the blog post, Brave expanded its MAU base from 8.7 million in October to over 10 million at the end of November.

12x increase in new publishers

Alongside a spike in active users, Brave also recorded a 12-time increase in verified publishers that are registered to receive Brave’s built-in tokens — Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) — for sharing content.

According to data from BATGrowth — a site that tracks Brave browser adoption — the total number of Brave publishers was 341,880 as of Dec. 6. In contrast, Brave had just 28,000 verified publishers at the beginning of 2019.

Brave continues to grow after launching crypto tipping on social media

A number of reports show that Brave is becoming increasingly popular. Brave reportedly overtook its major competitors like Chrome, Firefox and Opera in Japanese Google Play in September. 

Mozilla co-founder and JavaScript creator Brendan Eich first announced by Brave in 2016. The browser allows users to tip on major social media platforms including Twitter, ad-free video platform Vimeo and social news site Reddit using Brave’s BAT token.

Crypto Market Flips Green — But Is Bitcoin Ready to Retest $8,000?

On Dec. 4, Bitcoin (BTC) unexpectedly rallied hard from $7,080 and over the next 5 hours the digital asset had moved 9.92% to trade for $7,788. The strong surge briefly broke the pattern of lower highs lower lows. But by the end of the day, the price had retraced back to $7,100. 

Crypto market weekly performance. Source: Coin360

Crypto market weekly performance. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin price slowed down as it met resistance at $7,800 and was unable to set a higher high above $8,000. Traders will note the high volume nodes of the volume profile visible range (VPVR) at $7,850 and an even larger one at $8,040. Given that the price stopped short both these nodes, the next push from bulls will need to be stronger and with sustained volume to overcome this zone. 

Ultimately, Bitcoin price remains trapped below the long term descending trendline and since Jun. 26 there is a clear pattern of price running up to the trendline, rejecting and falling into another phase of lower highs.

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

The situation has been less than ideal for perma-bulls who are lured into each large price drop under the belief that either a bottom has been found or the most recent drop presents an opportunity to open a low leveraged long position. 

Many following this strategy have either been stopped out, liquidated or went into the red on their investments.

Meanwhile, those playing both sides of Bitcoin’s price action will have recognized that the current trend of dropping to the lower trendline of the descending channel is followed by a strong oversold bounce that culminates with a brush against the main descending trendline where traders will have opened shorts, which they ride back down to lower trendline. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

BitMEX XBTUSD Liquidations chart. Source: Skew.com

BitMEX XBTUSD Liquidations chart. Source: Skew.com

According to data from Skew Markets, yesterday’s surge liquidated nearly $60 million in BitMEX leveraged positions. Additional news of the week that might weigh on investor sentiment was crypto Twitter chatter that Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures contracts are only 37% backed by Bitcoin, rather than the long purported 100% backing. Furthermore, in the late hours of Dec. 4, crypto media reported that Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler is departing Bakkt to serve as a United States Senator representing the state of Georgia. 

Surely this news does not bode well for investor sentiment but it’s likely that the narrative will soon shift to something along the lines of suggesting that Loeffler can advocate for crypto-supportive legislation from her new position as a senator. 

Fear & Greed Index. Source: alternative.me

Fear & Greed Index. Source: alternative.me

The Crypto Fear & Greed Index reading is back to “Extreme Fear.” Given that investors perceive the indicator as a counter trading signal, some will look at Bitcoin’s current price action as another opportunity to accumulate or at least open long positions. Risk-averse investors will likely interpret the reading as a further warning that Bitcoin price could fall to new multi-month lows if it fails to hold $7,000.  

Today, Bitcoin is attempting to replicate yesterday’s performance but is finding resistance at the descending channel midpoint ($7,512), which also aligns with the moving average of the Bollinger Band indicator. 

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

BTC Daily MACD chart. Source: TradingView

BTC Daily MACD chart. Source: TradingView

Over the past few days, the moving average convergence divergence (MACD) indicator managed a bull cross and the histogram flipped positive. But the current momentum leaves traders wanting to see more volume and range in Bitcon’s price action as it has been unable to hold onto gains or sustain above the 12-period EMA. 

Currently, purchasing volume is rising and if the price can push above the Bollinger Band moving average, Bitcoin could rise to $7,976. 

BTC USD 6-hour chart. Source: TradingView

BTC USD 6-hour chart. Source: TradingView

As shown by the 6-hour chart, Bitcoin is showing some bullish behavior. The 12-point exponential moving average (EMA) is slowly pulling its way up to cross above the 26-EMA and the price is pressing against the $7,400 resistance. As observed on the daily chart and mentioned earlier, the MACD histogram continues to gain momentum but more purchasing volume will be required to push Bitcoin price through $7,400-$7,600.

BTC USD 6-hour daily chart. Source: TradingView

BTC USD 6-hour daily chart. Source: TradingView

The relative strength index (RSI) has climbed back into bullish territory and the Stochastic RSI is quickly rising toward 80. Traders will also notice that the Bollinger Bands are tightening and the price is slightly above the indicator’s moving average. 

All of this suggests a larger move is in the making and the VPVR shows that price could run towards $8,000 if bulls can press the price through the zone mentioned above ($7,400-$7,600). 

A drop below $7,080 could see the price sink to $6,800 and if buyers fail to buy into the dip the price could revisit the previous double bottom at $6,524. If bulls ignore this level, then $5,250 is likely to be the next target. 

As shown by the daily chart and mentioned in a previous analysis, the run-up from $4,000 to $13,800 was rapid and minimal support was built from $7,200 to $5,300. So the price could quickly slice through this zone if BTC price drops below the descending channel support.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author (@HorusHughes) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

South Korea Telecoms Giant Ramps Up Blockchain Roaming Deal With China

South Korea’s largest telecoms provider, KT Corporation, is boosting a partnership with China Mobile targeting blockchain technology and 5G roaming.

As local English-language news outlet The Korea Herald reported on Dec. 5, KT is preparing to debut 5G roaming capabilities in China later this month. 

KT Corp. eyes B.Link blockchain rollout

At the same time, the companies are working on a blockchain system which will allow them to save time and costs when computing roaming charges for mobile users. 

According to The Korea Herald, the B.Link system is able to “self-analyze roaming data from the two carriers and can process roaming charges on a real-time basis.”

The news comes around six months after KT revealed it had built a blockchain network of its own. KT Network Blockchain similarly targets roaming, along with other use cases such as user identification.

That announcement in turn followed KT’s Blockchain-as-a-Service, or BaaS, which aims to ease access to the technology for South Korean firms. 

Telecoms embraces blockchain potential

As Cointelegraph reported, both South Korea and China have thrown their weight behind blockchain technology, the latter making it part of formal state policy in a widely-reported publicity campaign last month. 

Enthusiasm is also palpable in South Korea, with technology giant Kakao Corporation describing its Klaytn blockchain offering as being more advanced than Facebook’s Libra project in recent comments.

For the telecoms industry specifically, blockchain meanwhile should bring $1 billion of added value by 2023, according to a study published last year.

Cointelegraph Announces Chinese HQ, Bolstering Its International Expansion

To support our international expansion and global reach, Cointelegraph is delighted to announce the launch of the Chinese-language version of the publication. Today, Dec. 4, we celebrated the opening of the office of Cointelegraph China (Cointelegraph 中文).

The news — which marks another milestone moment in Cointelegraph’s growth — was announced at the Nova Global Blockchain Investment Institutions Summit hosted by the investment ecosystem alliance, Nova Club. Nova Club was formed by top blockchain organizations and aims to facilitate blockchain project development by consolidating resources and expertise.

The new expansion will be led by Vadim Krekotin from the heart of Guangzhou, with other offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

Meet the Cointelegraph China business team

Cointelegraph China has brought together leading names in the industry to highlight blockchain and crypto trends in the area. 

Kevin Shao is a co-founder of Cointelegraph China as well as a general manager at crypto mining equipment manufacturer Canaan-Blockchain. Shao’s professional background includes serving at Bank of China’s fintech and technology department.

Kevin Ren, a co-founder of Cointelegraph China and also a founding partner of venture capital firm Consensus Lab, has a double masters in computer science and business administration. Ren, who worked as a partner in a range of VC firms, currently holds managing positions at industry-wide associations and unions in the country.

Simon Li is another co-founder of Cointelegraph China and a founding partner of Chain Capital and Nova Club. Li focuses on mining, investment into blockchain projects, and initiating and managing blockchain investment funds.

Co-founder Vadim Krekotin will manage Cointelegraph China’s initial launch. He previously founded advisory blockchain firm the CBE Foundation. Vadim is fluent in Mandarin and has a long history of conducting business in China, which has brought him in contact with the country’s biggest industry players including Binance, Huobi, OkEX and many others. 

Stay tuned for editorial team

We will soon be announcing the Cointelegraph China editorial team. Our editorial team will produce the highest quality journalism for our readers in China, holding steadfast to the values of editorial independence and responsibility to our readers.

Cointelegraph China is now our third base in Asia, following the establishment of Cointelegraph Japan in Tokyo in December 2017 and Cointelegraph Korea in August of this year. China has proved itself a hub for blockchain development, with the support of President Xi Jinping and a slew of blockchain-related patents filed with local regulators.

The country is maintaining a hardline stance toward crypto, as cryptocurrency trading is wholly banned in China. Meanwhile, the country has declared plans to issue its own digital currency to compete with the United States dollar in the global market. Our China-based team will work consistently to raise awareness in the region and deliver readers a clear insight into significant industry developments.

Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler Appointed to US Senate Seat

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has appointed Kelly Loeffler, CEO of institutional Bitcoin (BTC) futures platform Bakkt, to a United States Senate seat.

With the appointment, Loeffler will replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who plans to retire at the end of the year, the Washington Post reported on Dec. 4. A person familiar with the matter, shared Loeffler’s remarks with the publication, in which she ostensibly said:

“I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington. But here’s what folks are gonna find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump. I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, various party leaders, including President Donald Trump, reportedly pressed Kemp to choose U.S. representative Doug Collins instead, purportedly given his strong support for Trump, gun rights and anti-abortion efforts.

The President and many among his followers are not sold on Loeffler, viewing her as too moderate. Previously, Kemp reportedly met with the President and Loeffler in a bid to obtain Trump’s approval of his pick for the Senate seat but to no avail.

Bakkt’s recent developments

In the meantime, Bitcoin futures open interest on the Bakkt platform hit a new all-time high of $6.5 million on Dec. 3. The reported open interest was a 42% increase from the previous day, which had been an all-time high as well.

Also, Bakkt is planning to launch the first regulated options contract for Bitcoin futures on Dec. 9. The new options product is based on customer feedback, explained Loeffler, and is designed to hedge or gain bitcoin exposure. Bakkt added:

“ICE Futures U.S. has self-certified the contract with the CFTC and we’re excited to leverage the benchmark futures prices and institutional-grade custody to meet the needs for a regulated options contract.”

SoFi Obtains BitLicense to Offer Crypto Trading Services in New York

California-based financial firm SoFi has acquired a BitLicense from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), the regulator said in a statement on Dec. 3.

SoFi is now one of 24 crypto-related firms that have obtained a BitLicense since 2015, Bloomberg Law’s crypto reporter Lydia Beyoud tweeted the same day.

Specifically, SoFi has acquired two licenses — a virtual currency license (BitLicense) and a money transmitter license — that will allow SoFi Digital Assets to offer crypto trading services to its New York customers. 

According to the announcement, the firm is authorized to support a total of six digital assets including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC) and Stellar (XLM). 

Client demand for solid regulations

NYDFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell noted the authority’s commitment to fostering innovation in New York’s crypto ecosystem, stating, “The Department’s approval of SoFi’s virtual currency and money transmitter licenses provides consumers with more choices in a continuously evolving global financial services marketplace.” 

SoFi CEO Anthony Noto said that the decision to pursue a BitLicense was a response to client demand:

“Putting our members’ interests first is our top priority at SoFi […] That includes both offering individuals the products they want, like cryptocurrency within SoFi Invest, as well as protecting them, through a solid regulatory framework like that created by the NYDFS.”

The news comes after the company launched zero-fee cryptocurrency trading to its platform SoFi Invest in September. SoFi, which has been in partnership with major American crypto exchange and wallet service Coinbase since February 2019, rolled out commission-free trading for BTC, ETH and LTC.

A BitLicense is a major business license for cryptocurrencies with a number of terms and conditions such as rules on operating with digital currencies, its control, administration, maintenance, storing and issuing, among others. Earlier this year, NYDFS granted a BitLicense to two subsidiaries of crypto derivatives firm Seed CX — Seed Digital Commodities Market LLC and Zero Hash LLC.

Bitcoin Lightning Network Payments Hit Bitfinex in Industry First

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has revealed the first of two major upgrades it says will completely change user payments and spending habits. 

In a tweet on Dec. 2, the platform’s CTO, Paolo Ardoino, confirmed that as of Tuesday, it would support Bitcoin (BTC) transactions on the Lightning Network (LN).

The move is a first for a major cryptocurrency exchange, Bitfinex announcing it via its updates mailing list.

Exchange eyes free and instant BTC payments

Users will benefit from instant transactions and will pay almost zero fees to send funds via Lightning. The reveal appears to correspond to the first of two mystery “integrations” Bitfinex announced on its website last month. 

“Once this feature is unlocked, crypto transactions will never be the same again,” its description reads.

The second improvement remains unknown but appears to focus on spending, rather than exchanging cryptocurrency. 

“When this feature is live, the way you spend crypto will change forever,” Bitfinex promises. 

Lightning inches into mainstream

Lightning has been functional on the Bitcoin mainnet since the start of 2018. Designed to improve Bitcoin network capacity, the tool has received high-profile backing from the likes of Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, and others. 

At the same time, its use remains reserved for the technically minded, as its nascent state makes it unsuitable for novice crypto investors.

Commenting on Bitfinex’s decision, Ardoino was clear about his preferences for Bitcoin scaling: 

“LN and LN assets are not only the best P2P micro-payments solution, but an impressive settlement layer for B2B.”

Lightning company Bitrefill confirmed it would assist Bitfinex with deposits and withdrawals.

Waves DEX Shuts Down and Relaunches as Hybrid Cryptocurrency Exchange

Decentralized exchange (DEX) Waves DEX shut down to resume operations as a hybrid exchange, Waves announced in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Dec. 2.

Per the release, the exchange has already ceased operations on the old domain and the process of moving its activities to Waves.Exchange has already started. The company announced:

“From this point onwards, the old version of the exchange will be unavailable, and the website will offer only functionality to support migration. User funds held on Waves DEX will remain completely safe during and after the process.”

The hybrid exchange was already partially activated before the migration began earlier today and it expects to become fully operational before tomorrow. The company claims that the new trading platform combines the irreversibility of transactions, safety and user control of funds of decentralized exchanges with the features of centralized trading platforms.

Changes in exchange development

Waves also announced that from now on, its main development team will focus on developing the protocol itself, its open and private implementation, sharding and infrastructure. The development and support of the exchange, on the other hand, will now be managed by a separate, dedicated team which will also include former Waves core team members. Waves founder and CEO Sasha Ivanov commented:

“Waves DEX was a kind of prototype. Now, after 2 years  of operation, it has grown and become a separate project. […] Now it’s time for us to focus on protocol development and hand over the exchange to an  external team and community separate from Waves, so we can merge all the infrastructure teams into one, synchronizing development work and taking the combined product to a new level.”

The announcement also promises that future plans include partner and market maker programs and that Tether (USDT) trading will be enabled when the gateway goes live later this month. Lastly, the announcement also promises “new tools for users to generate passive income, including the opportunity to stake stablecoins and collect interest with very low risk.”

One of Waves’s competitors, CryptoBridge, announced its shutdown earlier today, citing market conditions and increased regulations as driving factors for its closure. The exchange will completely shutter operations on Dec.15, just two months after introducing Know Your Customer standards mandated under EU law.

Vitalik Buterin Supports Petition to Free Arrested Blockchain Dev

Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin has declared his solidarity with Virgil Griffith, the American citizen arrested for his blockchain educational activities in North Korea.

In a tweet posted on Dec. 1, Vitalik shared a link to a blog post penned by blockchain firm CEO Enrico Talin, which had appealed directly to the Ethereum co-founder to start a petition in support of Griffith. 

“Let’s not have another Aaron Swartz martyr in our hands,” Talin had written, in reference to the hacker and political activist who killed himself in 2013 ahead of a high-profile federal trial.

Buterin: “geopolitical open-mindedness is a *virtue*”

Griffith, a 36-year old U.S. citizen living in Singapore, was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on Nov. 29 and is set to be charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). 

The U.S. Department of Justice has accused Griffith of providing “highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions.”

Griffith is alleged to have illegally traveled to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to deliver a conference presentation — entitled “Blockchain and Peace” — on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. 

In declaring his support of Griffith, Buterin prefaced his arguments by disclosing a “conflict-of-interest” insofar as Griffith is a friend of his. He also underscored that the Ethereum Foundation had provided no assistance to his trip and was not affiliated with Griffith’s personal decision — one that, Buterin claims, “many counseled against.” This notwithstanding, he wrote:

“Geopolitical open-mindedness is a *virtue*. It’s *admirable* to go to a group of people that one has been trained since childhood to believe is a Maximum Evil Enemy, and hear out what they have to say. The world would be better if more people on all sides did that.”

Buterin further states that he does not believe Griffith gave the DPRK “any kind of real help in doing anything bad” — having only purportedly delivered a presentation based on already publicly accessible, open-source software. “There was no weird hackery “advanced tutoring,” Buterin contends, further arguing that “Virgil made no personal gain” from his visit.

Community ambivalence

Buterin’s arguments met a mixed response on Crypto Twitter, with some pointing to Griffiths’ decision to travel to the DPRK despite allegedly having been denied permission to do so by the State Department. One noted that — whether open-source or not — sophisticated code requires considerable skill and proficiency to serve as the basis of successful implementation. 

As previously reported, North Korea is rumored to be in the early stages of developing a cryptocurrency that would enable it to circumvent international sanctions.