Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank announced today that it is expanding its current blockchain asset management services to provide its customers access to three additional cryptocurrencies. The bank made news in July when it began offering its clients the ability to use their bank cash holdings to buy and hold Bitcoin in their bank portfolios. Next week, that service will expand to provide those clients with access to Litecoin, Ether, and Bitcoin Cash as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After seeing its price increase to around $700 in the immediate aftermath of its arrival on the cryptocurrency scene, Bitcoin Cash quickly shed roughly a third of that value. Prices declined again on Friday, and the new coin is currently trading at $238 – with a market capitalization of just under $4 billion. As that currency’s price slipped, Bitcoin’s showed renewed strength as its price soared past the $3,100 mark late in the evening.
Just days after an forced split in the Bitcoin blockchain created Bitcoin Cash, the new digital currency has become the third-largest cryptocurrency. With a market capitalization estimated at nearly $8 billion, Bitcoin Cash is now positioned just ahead of Ripple on the market cap charts. Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to maintain their hold on the top two spots.
The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board has announced that a Department of Education worker has received a fine for running Bitcoin-mining software on his Department of Education computer. The improper mining activities took place in 2014, and involved a month-long mining operation in which Vladimir Ilyayev used that DOE system to mine Bitcoin each night.
Russia’s National Settlement Depository (NSD) is reportedly considering plans to develop a platform that will enable the Moscow Stock Exchange to service digital currency assets. According to Kommersant, the goal is to create a blockchain-based service package that the NRM can use to record digital assets and settlements, identify cryptocurrency wallet-holders, and store private keys. Ultimately, the Depository hopes to create a bridge that connects fiat currency payment systems to digital currencies.
U.S law enforcement officials dealt a serious blow to BTC-e this week, fining the cryptocurrency exchange and its owner a total of $112 million for a host of alleged criminal activities. The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network revealed that the exchange has been fined $100 million fine for aiding in the commission of crimes that include ransomware attacks and drug sales. Another $12 million fine was assessed against Alexander Vinnik, BTC-e’s owner.
The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced Monday that it has formally approved LedgerX LLC’s bid to become the nation’s first federally regulated derivatives clearing organization. The decision was the result of a unanimous vote by Commission members, and provides LedgerX with the legal authorization it needs to begin offering digital currency options sometime within the next few months.
Digital currency exchange Poloniex issued a press release Monday detailing the company’s overall position on any potential Bitcoin turmoil that may arise in the next several weeks. That announcement made clear that the exchange would reserve the right to temporarily halt Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals if that becomes “necessary to ensure that all tokens stored on Poloniex remain safe.”
With continuing uncertainty about the near-term fate of the Bitcoin blockchain, the Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that restaurants and retailers could temporarily stop accepting Bitcoin as payment for goods and services. Though most experts seem confident that recent events have helped the currency avoid a contentious split, some Japanese exchanges remain wary. And that lingering concern has left many Bitcoin-accepting businesses scrambling for a contingency plan.
United States Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley issued an order this week allowing an anonymous Bitcoin user to challenge the IRS summons compelling Coinbase to provide account information and transaction records for hundreds of thousands of its Bitcoin customers. In the order, the judge rejected the government’s effort to prevent ‘John Doe 4’ from intervening in the matter and seemed to signal at least some reservations about the broad nature of the agency’s demands.
Recent reports indicate that several major Bitcoin mining operations have started to signal support for the BIP 91 option that would implement the SegWit2x scaling solution and perhaps avoid the BIP 148 User-Activated Soft Fork currently scheduled for August 1. BitFury, AntPool, and BitClub are among the miners now expressing support for BIP 91 by adding the necessary signal code to newly-generated Bitcoin blocks.
Late last week, GDAX announced its contingency plans to protect its customers’ Bitcoin holdings from risks that could arise due to the anticipated Bitcoin User Activate Soft Fork (UASF) on August 1, 2017. Now, OKCoin’s digital asset trading platform OKEx has detailed its own strategy for safeguarding its users’ funds as UASF draws nearer.
Since Early last year, the government of Venezuela has been engaged in an ongoing crackdown against Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Officials have arrested Bitcoin miners, confiscated equipment, and intimated websites that deal with cryptocurrency. If Jorge Dommar has his way, however, the government’s hostility to digital currency would end.