The first month of 2019 brought the crypto market a bit less reason for optimism than was expected in the community, but there are still reasons to rejoice. More and more organizations are successfully using the blockchain tech in their daily activities, market players and investors are eagerly awaiting the Bitcoin ETF approval, and the number of ATMs for converting cryptocurrencies has increased by 700% worldwide in three years. All of this points to the possible emergence of reasons for active purchase of Bitcoin, Ether, and other assets—not even the top ones—and the accelerated increase in their value in the coming months due to the influx of not only retail investors but also owners of large capital wishing to make money on the “crypto fever.” Although it will probably no longer resemble the madness of the fall and winter of 2017, it will have a smooth and confident character.

Cboe Reapplies

No matter how strange of a coincidence this is, but as soon as we wrote about the withdrawal of the joint application to start a Bitcoin ETF from the Cboe and the financial companies VanEck and SolidX in light of the U.S. government shutdown, the news came over almost immediately about the reopening of the federal government. Although this may again be only a temporary event, after all, funding was allocated only for three weeks until mid-February. And if members of the Republican and Democratic parties of the United States cannot agree on the conditions for the allocation of funding until February 15, the shutdown will resume. As a result, the question of approving the application for creating a Bitcoin ETF will hang in the air indefinitely again. In our previous review, we also mentioned the promise of VanEck CEO Jan Van Eck to apply again soon. And, indeed, the company’s management kept its word and on January 31 filed a second application, which was announced by VanEck Director for Digital Asset Strategy Gabor Gurbacs on his Twitter account. From this point on, under U.S. law, the SEC has 240 days to make a decision. If the application is approved, this event will be, without exaggeration, a new milestone in the history of the crypto market and attract billions of dollars in investments both in the assets themselves and in the entire crypto industry.

Along with the news about Bitcoin ETF, the article mentioned automatically deferred consideration of an application for the launch of a Bitcoin futures provider, the Bakkt platform, by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The reason for this was also the “shutdown” of all government organizations in the United States, which led to the postponement for an indefinite period of consideration of the application for the first license of this kind. Initially, Bakkt was supposed to start trading on January 24. The importance of launching the platform lies in the fact that, according to its model, futures contracts for cryptocurrencies will be traded on stock exchanges in Europe, Asia, and other regions of the world. This week, the Bakkt platform revealed some details of the specifications of the proposed conditions for the regulator of Bitcoin futures. The traded instrument called “Bakkt BTC (USD) Daily Future” will be the USDBTC pair with a contract size of 1 BTC, that is, one Bitcoin will be in one lot. The exchange minimum value will range from $0.01 to $2.50 on average per unit of the first cryptocurrency. The maximum number of contracts in one position will be set at 100,000 lots, and the transaction fee will be limited to $0.50. Another interesting detail of the plan to launch this tool was the lack of leverage, that is, the bidding will be carried out only with the funds of the client. Note that the Chicago exchange is not ready to dwell only on Bitcoin futures. In August, rumors appeared in the media about the possible creation of similar contracts for broadcasting; however, neither journalists nor the management of the corporation has yet confirmed this information since the launch of the new instrument will also require approval from the CFTC.

Another piece of news from the world of “big capital” refers to the readiness of Fidelity Investments to launch a cryptocurrency custodial service in March, the development of which began in October 2018. This service will allow institutional investors to securely store their assets in a cold wallet with the ability to protect against the loss of private keys or theft of funds. The service will also take into account, in addition to privacy, the location of the client and the jurisdiction, as well as many other relevant factors.

Ether Matures along with Vitalik Buterin

The Ethereum network continues to function even after postponing the Constantinople upgrade. It involves the activation of five large-scale proposals for improving the network, one of which will reduce the mining rewards from 3 Ethers to 2 per mined block. Due to the detected critical vulnerability in one of the EIPs, the Ethereum network could be subject to a double-spending attack, in connection with which, it was decided to postpone the activation of a hard fork to February 27. But the preparation procedures have already begun, and one of these solutions was the activation of the “difficulty bomb,” which would reduce daily supply by 25% to a maximum value of 15,000 units. And the average time for mining a block has increased from 15 seconds to 18 seconds, although other mild changes may occur so that the community can get used to the upcoming changes. By the way, on January 31, one of the main inspirers and creators of Ether, Vitalik Buterin, turned 25. Congratulations and also thank you for your contribution to the development of the crypto industry!

Dynamics of daily ETH mining from 2015 to 2019. Source.

Blockchain Is Becoming More and More Popular

In addition to the news mentioned above, it is also worth noting the emergence of equally positive reports about the successful use of blockchain in everyday life. Thus, one of the largest European stock exchanges in terms of trading volumes, the Deutsche Börse, together with a startup called HQLAx, which specializes in promoting liquidity management technology, plan to present a platform for managing securities. At present, the platform has not been shown to a wide range of users, but it is rumored that a beta version was demonstrated to a narrow circle of people from the financial sector, and since, six banks have already expressed their desire to integrate the platform and participate in its development. The created platform will allow converting securities into fiat currencies and provide quick loans and their mutual settlement. The full release is expected after settling all the existing bureaucratic obstacles in the second half of this year.

Binance Accounts Can Now Be Replenished from Cards

Starting cryptocurrency trading is becoming easier every day. It is now possible to deposit funds to the Binance exchange from anywhere in the world by having a plastic card issued by the Visa or Mastercard payment systems. From now on, funds can be credited to a refillable account not only in cryptocurrencies but also in fiat via the Israeli Simplex processing service. The funds will be immediately converted at the market rate to Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Ripple, or any other of the 150 traded assets. In this case, the commission for depositing funds will be 3.5%. Today, according to Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, money turnover in the world is predominantly in fiat funds, but this situation may change in the future and shift to cryptocurrencies thanks to such partnerships.

Gemini Successfully Passes Audit

The Nasdaq stock exchange has selected seven cryptocurrency exchanges in which it plans to introduce technology to counter fraudsters and manipulators in the market. One of these exchanges can be the Gemini platform. The Winklevoss brothers’ cryptocurrency exchange has recently been successfully audited by Deloitte for storing user funds and data. This fact has already pleased subscribers of one of the founders of the crypto exchange, the charismatic Olympic champion Cameron Winklevoss. It is worth noting that it was the brothers who became one of the main participants in the community who called for renouncing anonymity in favor of greater transparency for the state in making transactions with crypto assets, a statement for which they have been harassed by crypto anarchists.