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The Bitfinex digital currency exchange announced late last week that it will no longer provide exchange services to U.S. customers. A post on the company’s website provided details about the decision, and confirmed that all services to clients in the United States will end within the next three months. The announcement suggests that this move has been under consideration for some time.
Sony Global Education and Sony Corporation have partnered with IBM to create a new cloud platform that will allow student records and other educational data to be securely stored and exchanged. The platform utilizes the Hyperledger Fabric 1.0-powered IBM Blockchain and IBM Cloud to provide safe storage for consolidating records and storing “digital transcripts” in a safe environment. Sony expects to release the new platform in 2018.
Last week saw Bitcoin cross the $4000 mark for the first time in a continuation of a long-term bull-run that has seen it rise from just under $1000 at the turn of this year. Naysayers are drawing comparisons to investment bubbles from years past that were succeeded by crashes: Great Tulip bubble, dot-com & housing, while advocates are pointing to the intrinsic properties of cryptocurrencies finally being reflected in their price.
Bitcoin’s price continued to climb over the weekend, shattering the $4,000 mark on Saturday and climbing to more than $4,200 on Sunday. And though the world’s most well-known digital currency saw its price decline slightly from that high-water mark, the price of one Bitcoin is now more than four times what it was at the start of this year. Bitcoin’s market capitalization has also surged to roughly $64 billion.
Bloomberg has reported that Russia is moving to become a major Bitcoin mining center, openly challenging the current Chinese dominance of the industry. The effort is being led by Russian Miner Coin, which is co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s internet ombudsman, Dmitry Marinichev. To finance the move, the company is seeking $100 million in funding through an initial coin offering.
Coinbase has recently completed a $100 million Series D funding round, which featured investment from IVP, Draper Associates, Greylock Partners, and others. The company made the announcement via a blog post from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, and notified its customers by email. Coinbase has confirmed that the funding will be used to expand its operations.
After successfully testing digital currency viewing with its employees, Fidelity investments Inc is now ready to offer those capabilities to the company’s customers as well. The new offering debuted on Wednesday, and provides the firm’s clients with the ability to see their cryptocurrency holdings on the company’s client accounts pages. The move has been in the works for some time, and will enable those investors to more efficiently track digital currency investments on the same portal they use to monitor their stocks, mutual funds, and other investments.
The last year has seen the ICO become the preferred means of capital acquisition in the crypto industry, with more than one billion dollars of funding raised. While many praise ICOs for their easier access to capital, the SEC has a differing opinion to the many proponents who claim ICOs should be exempt from securities laws that require additional regulatory oversight. Generally ICOs do not issue rights to any equity or future earnings from a project or organization, which begs both a question about intrinsic value, and what mechanism beyond speculative trading could make ICO tokens fairly considered an “investment” or “asset” at all.
According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, a pair of Australian Senators want the country’s Reserve Bank to give official sanction to cryptocurrency. The duo are calling for the Bank to back an Australian digital currency, and warning that a failure to embrace the new technology could put the nation’s financial industry at a competitive disadvantage.
Japan’s retail market appears to be increasingly receptive to Bitcoin, with yet another large chain of stores on track to begin accepting Bitcoin payments. Reports suggest that the Marui fashion department chain has entered into a partnership with the BitFlyer exchange to enable its stores to facilitate the use of Bitcoin. Marui Group will reportedly begin by testing Bitcoin payments at the Shinjuku Marui Annex beginning on August 7.