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Bitmain Responds to UASF With Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Announcement

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitmain announces hard fork to counter uasf

Major Bitcoin mining hardware producer Bitmain today announced that it may launch a “hard fork” in August. Labeled a “contingency plan,” the announcement is a response to the upcoming user activated soft fork (UASF), as defined by Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 148 (BIP148) — and the wipe-out risk that comes along with it.

After an initial 8 megabyte proposal, Bitcoin Classic, the Hong Kong roundtable consensus, Bitcoin Unlimited, and SegWit2x, this marks the sixth time the Chinese mining giant has announced support for a hard fork in the space of two years.

Here’s what their latest proposal looks like.

Hard Forks, Coin-Splits and Altcoins

On August 1st, a segment of the Bitcoin community will activate the BIP148 UASF. These users and miners will only accept Bitcoin blocks that signal support for Segregated Witness (SegWit), the protocol upgrade proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team. If, at that point, a majority of miners (by hash power) does not signal support for SegWit through BIP148, Bitcoin’s blockchain and currency could split in two: a coin-split.

Now, with Bitmain’s hard fork announcement, it seems there could be a third part to the split … sort of.

Bitmain refers to its announced hard fork as a “UAHF” or User Activated Hard Fork. While perhaps a clever play on UASF, this is not a very accurate term because the “contingency plan” will actually be very explicitly activated by Bitmain — and Bitmain alone.

Moreover, use of the term “hard fork” is questionable in this context as well. Originally, at least, the term referred to a change to the Bitcoin protocol that makes previously invalid blocks or transactions valid. But for it to be a change to the Bitcoin protocol, it arguably at the very least requires the Bitcoin ecosystem to follow these new rules. Under Bitmain’s own stated condition this wouldn’t be the case, at least not to the full extent. 

Rather, the “UAHF” will only be launched in response to a successful BIP148 UASF. It is thus more or less assumed that not everyone will adopt the new rules, which indeed seems likely. Technically, at least, Bitmain’s “hard fork” would be better described as the creation of an entirely new coin that shares a common history with Bitcoin.

For purposes of this article, Bitmain’s version of Bitcoin will be called “Bitmain’s Bitcoin.”

Bitmain’s Bitcoin

So what. specifically, will Bitmain’s Bitcoin look like?

Bitmain announced it will create Bitmain’s Bitcoin exactly 12 hours and 20 minutes after the UASF activation, though this is configurable. At that specific point in time, under Bitmain’s new rules, a block must be included in the blockchain that’s bigger than one megabyte. This will automatically “split” the chain — or create a new chain depending on how you look at it. All existing full Bitcoin nodes would reject this block and ignore this chain, and would continue to follow the chain adhering to Bitcoin’s current consensus rules. 

From that point on, Bitmain will first mine on Bitmain’s Bitcoin chain privately for three days. After these three days, Bitmain will “officially” launch Bitmain’s Bitcoin to the public if three circumstances are met. 

First off, the BIP148 UASF must have been successful enough to have gained significant hash rate. Second, there must be strong market demand for Bitmain’s Bitcoin. And third, the non-BIP148 side of the split must not be doing great, comparatively.

Then, if launched, Bitmain’s Bitcoin will accept bigger blocks. The statement mentions an initial limit of up to 8 megabytes, though this is slightly ambiguous as the same blog post mentions there will be “no hard-coded consensus rule” at all. The hardware manufacturer does add that miners should impose a “soft limit” of less than 2 megabytes, which is really more like a recommendation. Additionally, Bitmain writes that there will be a new protocol limit on “sigops,” which, in short, should counter some potential attack vectors on bigger blocks that could otherwise significantly slow down propagation times. 

For the longer term, Bitmain lays out a “future roadmap” that includes a version of Segregated Witness, Extension Blocks, Bitcoin NG, Lumino, Schnorr signatures, Weak Blocks, and Bitcoin Unlimited-inspired base block size increases up to almost 17 megabytes in two years. Overall, this “future roadmap” part of the announcement does not seem very concrete yet, however. 

What This Means for You, and What This Means for Bitcoin 

The good news is that anyone who holds bitcoins (meaning: their private keys) at the time of a split will receive coins on both (or all) sides of the chain. In other words, you will get free "Bitmain bitcoins", which you can keep, sell or spend as long as someone is willing to accept them as payment. Bitmain will even implement replay protection on Bitmain’s Bitcoin, which means that there should be no risk of accidentally spending the same (copied) coin on both chains.

From a broader Bitcoin and scaling perspective, the chances of BIP148’s success may have actually increased, due to this announcement. If Bitmain follows through on their blog post, it means the company will take hash power that could have otherwise frustrated the UASF “off the table,” to mine on Bitmain’s Bitcoin chain. As a result, there is a greater chance that BIP148 miners will claim the longest chain versus non-BIP148 miners, avoiding a coin-split on the original blockchain. Additionally, Bitmain’s blog post seems to have angered some Bitcoin users that were so far undecided, further increasing support for BIP148.

The other scaling proposal in the running is SegWit2x, which is also supported by Bitmain. SegWit2x code should, according to its timeline, be up and running before August 1st. If that deadline is met, it may or may not prevent a coin-split in the first place, depending on its compatibility with the BIP148 UASF. But since this proposal has been mostly developed in private, the status of this project — as well as its (in)compatibility with Bitmain’s “contingency plan” — remains largely unclear.

And of course, in the end, it's possible that neither BIP148, nor SegWit2x, nor Bitmain's Bitcoin will gain much traction. Status quo could prevail, in which case not much would change at all.

The post Bitmain Responds to UASF With Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Announcement appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitmain Responds to UASF With Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Announcement

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitmain announces hard fork to counter uasf

Major Bitcoin mining hardware producer Bitmain today announced that it may launch a “hard fork” in August. Labeled a “contingency plan,” the announcement is a response to the upcoming user activated soft fork (UASF), as defined by Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 148 (BIP148) — and the wipe-out risk that comes along with it.

After an initial 8 megabyte proposal, Bitcoin Classic, the Hong Kong roundtable consensus, Bitcoin Unlimited, and SegWit2x, this marks the sixth time the Chinese mining giant has announced support for a hard fork in the space of two years.

Here’s what their latest proposal looks like.

Hard Forks, Coin-Splits and Altcoins

On August 1st, a segment of the Bitcoin community will activate the BIP148 UASF. These users and miners will only accept Bitcoin blocks that signal support for Segregated Witness (SegWit), the protocol upgrade proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team. If, at that point, a majority of miners (by hash power) does not signal support for SegWit through BIP148, Bitcoin’s blockchain and currency could split in two: a coin-split.

Now, with Bitmain’s hard fork announcement, it seems there could be a third part to the split … sort of.

Bitmain refers to its announced hard fork as a “UAHF” or User Activated Hard Fork. While perhaps a clever play on UASF, this is not a very accurate term because the “contingency plan” will actually be very explicitly activated by Bitmain — and Bitmain alone.

Moreover, use of the term “hard fork” is questionable in this context as well. Originally, at least, the term referred to a change to the Bitcoin protocol that makes previously invalid blocks or transactions valid. But for it to be a change to the Bitcoin protocol, it arguably at the very least requires the Bitcoin ecosystem to follow these new rules. Under Bitmain’s own stated condition this wouldn’t be the case, at least not to the full extent. 

Rather, the “UAHF” will only be launched in response to a successful BIP148 UASF. It is thus more or less assumed that not everyone will adopt the new rules, which indeed seems likely. Technically, at least, Bitmain’s “hard fork” would be better described as the creation of an entirely new coin that shares a common history with Bitcoin.

For purposes of this article, Bitmain’s version of Bitcoin will be called “Bitmain’s Bitcoin.”

Bitmain’s Bitcoin

So what. specifically, will Bitmain’s Bitcoin look like?

Bitmain announced it will create Bitmain’s Bitcoin exactly 12 hours and 20 minutes after the UASF activation, though this is configurable. At that specific point in time, under Bitmain’s new rules, a block must be included in the blockchain that’s bigger than one megabyte. This will automatically “split” the chain — or create a new chain depending on how you look at it. All existing full Bitcoin nodes would reject this block and ignore this chain, and would continue to follow the chain adhering to Bitcoin’s current consensus rules. 

From that point on, Bitmain will first mine on Bitmain’s Bitcoin chain privately for three days. After these three days, Bitmain will “officially” launch Bitmain’s Bitcoin to the public if three circumstances are met. 

First off, the BIP148 UASF must have been successful enough to have gained significant hash rate. Second, there must be strong market demand for Bitmain’s Bitcoin. And third, the non-BIP148 side of the split must not be doing great, comparatively.

Then, if launched, Bitmain’s Bitcoin will accept bigger blocks. The statement mentions an initial limit of up to 8 megabytes, though this is slightly ambiguous as the same blog post mentions there will be “no hard-coded consensus rule” at all. The hardware manufacturer does add that miners should impose a “soft limit” of less than 2 megabytes, which is really more like a recommendation. Additionally, Bitmain writes that there will be a new protocol limit on “sigops,” which, in short, should counter some potential attack vectors on bigger blocks that could otherwise significantly slow down propagation times. 

For the longer term, Bitmain lays out a “future roadmap” that includes a version of Segregated Witness, Extension Blocks, Bitcoin NG, Lumino, Schnorr signatures, Weak Blocks, and Bitcoin Unlimited-inspired base block size increases up to almost 17 megabytes in two years. Overall, this “future roadmap” part of the announcement does not seem very concrete yet, however. 

What This Means for You, and What This Means for Bitcoin 

The good news is that anyone who holds bitcoins (meaning: their private keys) at the time of a split will receive coins on both (or all) sides of the chain. In other words, you will get free "Bitmain bitcoins", which you can keep, sell or spend as long as someone is willing to accept them as payment. Bitmain will even implement replay protection on Bitmain’s Bitcoin, which means that there should be no risk of accidentally spending the same (copied) coin on both chains.

From a broader Bitcoin and scaling perspective, the chances of BIP148’s success may have actually increased, due to this announcement. If Bitmain follows through on their blog post, it means the company will take hash power that could have otherwise frustrated the UASF “off the table,” to mine on Bitmain’s Bitcoin chain. As a result, there is a greater chance that BIP148 miners will claim the longest chain versus non-BIP148 miners, avoiding a coin-split on the original blockchain. Additionally, Bitmain’s blog post seems to have angered some Bitcoin users that were so far undecided, further increasing support for BIP148.

The other scaling proposal in the running is SegWit2x, which is also supported by Bitmain. SegWit2x code should, according to its timeline, be up and running before August 1st. If that deadline is met, it may or may not prevent a coin-split in the first place, depending on its compatibility with the BIP148 UASF. But since this proposal has been mostly developed in private, the status of this project — as well as its (in)compatibility with Bitmain’s “contingency plan” — remains largely unclear.

And of course, in the end, it's possible that neither BIP148, nor SegWit2x, nor Bitmain's Bitcoin will gain much traction. Status quo could prevail, in which case not much would change at all.

The post Bitmain Responds to UASF With Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Announcement appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Price Hits 10-Day Low As Crypto Markets Tumble

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin prices continued to edge lower after setting a new all-time high this weekend. Other cryptocurrencies saw a similar shift into the red today.

Source

A cryptocurrency for weed is crashing a day after it sponsored Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A digital currency for the legal marijuana industry is plummeting a day after it sponsored Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea

PotCoin is a digital cryptocurrency — much like bitcoin — that was specifically developed to remove the need for cash transactions between marijuana consumers and dispensaries.

PotCoin plummeted 23% on Wednesday, just a day after it soared 97% following the publicity it received from sponsoring Rodman's trip. 

The currency is valued at just over 13 US cents. 

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, so the majority of banks won't take cash or open lines of credit for marijuana businesses. PotCoin was developed to facilitate transactions between marijuana consumers and businesses, removing the need for cash. 

potcoin

 

SEE ALSO: A cryptocurrency for weed is soaring in value after it sponsored Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains the key issues that Trump needs to address to boost the economy

Australian Politician Calls for Bitcoin Scrutiny in Fight Against Terrorism

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A major Australian politician has called for increased scrutiny on bitcoin transactions as a means of combatting terrorism.

Source

What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen   in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours.

With the stock market stuck running in place for the better part of four months, investors have resorted to making money by betting against price swings.  And it's worked.

But while many have started viewing the current environment as the new normal, JPMorgan's quant guru has a warning: it's not going to last — and when the shift comes, it's going to hurt.

It's a Fed day. The market is pricing in a 94.8% chance that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates at Wednesday's meeting, but Fed Chair Janet Yellen, will have a harder time justifying that hike, according to Business Insider's Pedro Da Costa. Click here to stay up to date with the latest from the Fed.

The Fed is missing a key sign of economic weakness coming from American consumers.

Treasury yields tumbled after disappointing retail sales and CPI data. The dollar plunged too.

And the Trump administration sure sounds like it's getting ready for a government shutdown in September.

Gun stocks rallied on Wednesday after a top Republican congressman and several other people were shot during baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Blockbuster first-quarter earnings were "as good as it gets." Here are the 11 big-name stocks hedge funds are dumping. And here are 17 ETFs that hedge funds are loading up on.

Traders and speculators in the market should be raising cash right now, according to Jeff Gundlach. And a senior portfolio manager at a $195 billion investment firm broke down the hottest story in markets.

Online lenders haven't been verifying income and employment on their loans, and that should set alarm bells ringing. Wall Street loves the Trump administration's plan to dismantle financial crisis regulations.

Standard Chartered is planning a Wall Street hiring drive. A big investor in scientific ventures just hired a former top JPMorgan bankerGoldman Sachs found a way to automate dealmaking tasks usually managed by investment bankers.

And a one-time portfolio manager at a top New York hedge fund has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The company behind the world's biggest tech fund keeps hiring former Deutsche Bank traders. And IBM is letting Watson loose on Wall Street regulations.

Private equity honcho David Bonderman resigned from Uber's board on Tuesday after making a sexist comment during a company meeting earlier in the day.

There's a new NYC law that eliminates your least favorite interview question — and Wall Street isn't happy.

Lastly, this $83 million private jet is designed to bathe you in the glamour of vintage Hollywood.

SEE ALSO: The 27 most important finance books ever written

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

United just obliterated Hawaiian Airlines' stock (HA, UAL)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Hawaiian Holdings, the parent company of Hawaiian Airlines, saw its stock plunge more than 10% Wednesday morning after an analyst downgrade and more competitor flights to the islands.  

United Continental Holdings announced Tuesday it would add 11 new daily flights to the mainland and Honolulu, as well as smaller Hawaiian airports, like Kahului (Maui), Kona and Lihue. 

The new competition led Stifel analyst Joseph DeNardi to downgrade the stock from "hold" to "sell," while lowering his price target by $20 to $40. 

Budget carrier Southwest also has its eyes on Hawaii, CEO Gary Kelly said last month at the airline's annual meeting, but flights are unlikely to take off until after 2018. Even then, Stifel adds, any additional flight from the west coast would only add about 0.2% to total industry capacity to the islands. 

United's stock was relatively flat on the news. Screen Shot 2017 06 14 at 1.23.35 PM

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

Could Switzerland Become Home to the First-Ever Crypto Mutual Fund?

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Could Switzerland Become Home to the First-Ever Crypto ETF?

Crypto Fund AG has announced the creation of a “Cryptocurrency Fund” which will invest in a variety of digital currencies such as bitcoin, ether and ripple, among others. The fund plans to launch in Q4 2017.

This would be Europe’s first ever diversified cryptocurrency fund. The fund is based on a Cryptocurrency Index which “invests in the largest virtual currencies by market capitalization and liquidity.”

This development would bring a new level of investment transparency to the digital asset class market.

“The fund will be highly diversified,” said Jan Brzezek, CEO of Crypto Fund AG. He explained that this diversification will lead to lower levels of volatility while still reaping the “high growth” benefits of new cryptocurrencies.

The fund’s goal is to raise roughly $113 million (€100 million) of assets under management during the first year with the ambitious target of $3.4 billion (€3 billion) within three years. The fund already has investors who have dedicated $11.3 million (€10 million) with an additional $11.3 million (€10 million) in transition to the pool.

The fund, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, has already initiated preliminary discussions with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), the body responsible for financial regulation. Switzerland has historically had a positive track record with cryptocurrencies and their regulation. It recognizes virtual currencies as a class of assets and is currently home to a variety of bitcoin financial companies.

Not the First Attempt

This is not the first time an entity has attempted to register a bitcoin financial vehicle.

In July 2013, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss filed to establish the first cryptocurrency Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A bitcoin ETF would allow investors to invest in bitcoin without actually owning the digital asset. This would have radically increased the accessibility of bitcoin and brought a flood of new investors to the decentralized currency.

However, just earlier this year, the SEC ruled against the establishment of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust due to the lack of regulation that occurs on bitcoin markets. However, the SEC did note that as bitcoin continues to emerge from its nascent form, more regulated markets could appear, thus “the Commission could consider whether a bitcoin ETF would, based on the facts and circumstances then presented, be consistent with the requirements of the Exchange Act.”

Though this initial attempt in the U.S. was unsuccessful, Crypto Fund AG appears to have more promise in moving forward. Zug, Swtizerland, often called “Crypto Valley,” has proven to be a strong foundation for the stable regulation of digital currencies. Additionally, the Cryptocurrency Fund has key advantageous differences from the Winklevoss ETF.

“Unlike the Winklevoss ETF, which was rejected by the SEC, we use the regulated and proven Swiss fund structure according to the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA), where the asset manager, the fund management company and the custodian bank are legally separate from each other,” said Brzezek. Additionally, unlike the Bitcoin Investment Trust, it will not be listed on an exchange and will “exclusively target qualified investors.”

The company is led by CEO & co-founder Jan Brzezek, Dr. Tobias Reichmuth, and Marc Bernegger. Brzezek previously served at UBS working in the Asset Management division.. He is joined by Reichmuth and Bernegger two fintech specialists who have founded SUSI Partners AG and usgang.ch, respectively. They are advised by MME Legal, a law firm specializing in blockchain technology and ICOs.

The post Could Switzerland Become Home to the First-Ever Crypto Mutual Fund? appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Could Switzerland Become Home to the First-Ever Crypto Mutual Fund?

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Could Switzerland Become Home to the First-Ever Crypto ETF?

Crypto Fund AG has announced the creation of a “Cryptocurrency Fund” which will invest in a variety of digital currencies such as bitcoin, ether and ripple, among others. The fund plans to launch in Q4 2017.

This would be Europe’s first ever diversified cryptocurrency fund. The fund is based on a Cryptocurrency Index which “invests in the largest virtual currencies by market capitalization and liquidity.”

This development would bring a new level of investment transparency to the digital asset class market.

“The fund will be highly diversified,” said Jan Brzezek, CEO of Crypto Fund AG. He explained that this diversification will lead to lower levels of volatility while still reaping the “high growth” benefits of new cryptocurrencies.

The fund’s goal is to raise roughly $113 million (€100 million) of assets under management during the first year with the ambitious target of $3.4 billion (€3 billion) within three years. The fund already has investors who have dedicated $11.3 million (€10 million) with an additional $11.3 million (€10 million) in transition to the pool.

The fund, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, has already initiated preliminary discussions with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), the body responsible for financial regulation. Switzerland has historically had a positive track record with cryptocurrencies and their regulation. It recognizes virtual currencies as a class of assets and is currently home to a variety of bitcoin financial companies.

Not the First Attempt

This is not the first time an entity has attempted to register a bitcoin financial vehicle.

In July 2013, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss filed to establish the first cryptocurrency Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A bitcoin ETF would allow investors to invest in bitcoin without actually owning the digital asset. This would have radically increased the accessibility of bitcoin and brought a flood of new investors to the decentralized currency.

However, just earlier this year, the SEC ruled against the establishment of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust due to the lack of regulation that occurs on bitcoin markets. However, the SEC did note that as bitcoin continues to emerge from its nascent form, more regulated markets could appear, thus “the Commission could consider whether a bitcoin ETF would, based on the facts and circumstances then presented, be consistent with the requirements of the Exchange Act.”

Though this initial attempt in the U.S. was unsuccessful, Crypto Fund AG appears to have more promise in moving forward. Zug, Swtizerland, often called “Crypto Valley,” has proven to be a strong foundation for the stable regulation of digital currencies. Additionally, the Cryptocurrency Fund has key advantageous differences from the Winklevoss ETF.

“Unlike the Winklevoss ETF, which was rejected by the SEC, we use the regulated and proven Swiss fund structure according to the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA), where the asset manager, the fund management company and the custodian bank are legally separate from each other,” said Brzezek. Additionally, unlike the Bitcoin Investment Trust, it will not be listed on an exchange and will “exclusively target qualified investors.”

The company is led by CEO & co-founder Jan Brzezek, Dr. Tobias Reichmuth, and Marc Bernegger. Brzezek previously served at UBS working in the Asset Management division.. He is joined by Reichmuth and Bernegger two fintech specialists who have founded SUSI Partners AG and usgang.ch, respectively. They are advised by MME Legal, a law firm specializing in blockchain technology and ICOs.

The post Could Switzerland Become Home to the First-Ever Crypto Mutual Fund? appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Op Ed: Why Connecting All the Blockchains Is the Final Step for Mass Adoption

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Why Connecting All the Blockchains Is the Final Step for Mass Adoption

Since the start of Bitcoin in January 2009, we have seen the introduction of a multitude of blockchains across all kinds of areas and financial markets. Today, we can count hundreds of public blockchains that amount to a total market cap of almost $100 billion, excluding many more private blockchain installations.

Last year, we saw the emergence of precious metal-backed tokens and derivatives, entirely new asset classes representing entire ecosystems and even ETF tokens to invest into other blockchain assets. One such example is Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) or token sales that are gaining in popularity.

The World Economic Forum is even going as far to predict that 10 percent of the global GDP will be stored on the blockchain in less than 10 years. In terms of today’s global GDP that would be $7.8 trillion.

Here a challenge arises: If we, as a community, do not find a way to connect blockchains, these $7.8 trillion will be dispersed in such a way that its true value is a lot lower.

So what is the solution? It’s one that we already saw being executed in a similar way around 30 years ago.

From Intranets to Internet

Before the invention of the TCP/IP protocol, the internet was also dispersed in many local networks, so-called intranets. These provided local efficiency over more traditional point-to-point communications (such as letters, faxes or telephone calls). The real breakthrough only came in 1973 when different intranet networks realized that they could use a unifying inter-network protocol to communicate among each other, thereby extending their reach by compatibility even more.

By dropping the requirements for an intranet to join the so-called internet to the bare minimum, it became possible to add almost any intranet, no matter how basic or sophisticated its characteristics were.

The initial adoption by users was relatively slow, as the services offered at the beginning were limited. There was one major factor, however, that eventually sped it up significantly. The same providers that were already offering mail, fax and phone services could now add internet services to their portfolios, giving them extra revenue streams. User adoption came easily, as a trust basis between the customers and these service providers was already established for years or even decades. Early adopters started, the later adopters followed.

Today, the internet spans across the entire world, and information that used to be accessible only locally is now accessible from anywhere, even from the moon. Information is stored by servers all over the world while routers create the backbone. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) give the average end-user easy and quick access to this vast database of information by opening a communication channel to their customers and to other ISPs, servers and routers.

Once the average user accesses the internet through his or her communication channel with the ISP in order to gain information from the internet, the user does not have to worry about how the information is retrieved exactly. All he or she has to do is type in the destination from where the information will be retrieved from (URL). The ISP which the user has the communication channel to does not know the exact path to the destination either. However, through the TCP/IP protocol, the request is routed through from one communication channel to another using routers, servers or ISPs, who then either know the location or continue the process. The important point is, neither one of them has to know the entire way. All they have to do is to trust the TCP/IP protocol, which has the task of delivering packets from the source host to the destination host, solely based on the IP addresses in the packet headers. Its routing function enables inter-networking and essentially establishes the internet.

Connecting the Blockchains

How does this translate into connecting blockchains? What if there was a way to connect literally any blockchain, without creating a new larger blockchain, like some companies have suggested? Creating a new blockchain would be like a large intranet, that all the other intranets would have to trust. It would be way more difficult to convince everyone. It is easier to leave everyone on their blockchain/intranet and just connect them.

With that in mind, I, therefore, suggested a Cryptographically-secure Off-chain Multi-asset Instant Transaction network (COMIT) at the end of 2016 and wrote a whitepaper about it.

What would such a network look like? Just like the internet, we need a stable and trustworthy backbone. In our opinion, any large blockchain provides exactly that. It can be any blockchain because, just like on the Internet, different modalities will be interconnected. For example, the initial internet never foresaw mobile app messaging services, but these have been implemented without any problems. The same will be true for COMIT, where any new blockchain can be connected to an existing one through the use of the COMIT Routing Protocol (CRP).

A user today who is using cryptocurrencies currently has to wait minutes if not hours before a transaction is accepted by the counterparty. With the adoption of payment channels such as the Lightning Network, Raiden or many others, such users can transfer assets instantly from person A to person B. If person B then opens another payment channel to person C, person A can also transfer assets to person C via B instantaneously, as long as person B provides enough liquidity.

In theory, there can be an infinite chain of participants in between person A and C, as long as they all provide enough liquidity. Again, such transactions are immediate without person A needing to know which route the assets took to end up at person C. Users can trust this system as the routing protocol ensures its correctness, plus the cryptographically secured payment channels, which will be described in the next chapter, ensures flawless functionality.

What we end up with are off-blockchain, cryptographically-secured, instant payments that can even be transferred from one asset to another via hashed time-lock contracts (those will also be described in a future post). In order for this network to have enough liquidity (in the example above person B needs to provide enough liquidity to enable a transaction between person A and person C), we introduce the concept of Liquidity Providers (LP). LPs can be seen or understood as hubs or nodes in the COMIT network that create payment channels to users, other LPs and businesses. They are a core part in COMIT, just like servers, routers and ISPs are to the internet.

Adoption of this system will be seamless, fast and will bring great benefits to all of its participants, just like the internet did. Some of the benefits of COMIT include, but are not limited to,

  • open source infrastructure;

  • true instant, frictionless and cheap payments for users all over the world;

  • true global access without limitations to any asset or business process connected to a blockchain;

  • cryptographically secure, trustless global transactions network;

  • new business opportunities for companies;

  • new and recurring revenue streams for banks and other liquidity providers; and

  • rapid adoption based on existing networks build with new, cheap and secure infrastructure.

According to our research, over 95 percent of all the blockchains (especially the large important ones) can be connected. In a future post, I will discuss in great detail what the three requirements are for such a system to work and how it looks from a technical perspective.


The post Op Ed: Why Connecting All the Blockchains Is the Final Step for Mass Adoption appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Blockchain Tech Company Sia (Siacoin) Could Disrupt Dropbox and Amazon

Inc, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Ethereum and Bitcoin are making the most headlines, but look out for Sia too.

Australian Politician Propose to Extend Anti-terrorism Regulations to Bitcoin

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Australia's opposition leader Bill Shorten has suggested in a speech that governmental regulations to deny use of encryption to terrorists should also extend to Bitcoin.   Shorten, who leads the Australian Labor Party said in a speech to the House of Representatives on June 12 that: “We need to track and target terrorists as they […]

Source

An investment banker explains why aspiring Wall Streeters should read every section of the newspaper

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

unnamed 8

Breaking into the Wall Street world is no easy feat. 

It's especially difficult for young people and students with non-traditional backgrounds and little finance experience. 

Michael Ventura was once one of those students. He studied political science while he was an undergraduate student at Colgate University in New York. He is now a director in equity capital markets at RBC Capital Markets. Ventura is what's called an originator, going out and winning business from energy clients that the investment bank can raise capital for. He's been with the firm for ten years. 

RBC finished 2016 ranked 10 for investment banking fees in the US, according to Dealogic, increasing its market share. 

Business Insider recently met up with Ventura to ask him his advice for young people with non-finance backgrounds interested in a career on Wall Street. He said such folks should, as a first step, immerse themselves in the news.

"Be knowledgeable and be up to speed on current affairs. Read the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times every day, cover to cover," Ventura said. "Absorb every section."

Yes, that even means the style section. Staying abreast on the forces that drive business on Wall Street is important, according to Ventura, but knowledge of more commonplace points of conversation is equally important. This, he said, will help young Wall Streeters over the course of their entire career.

"Reading Thursday Styles will help young employees become well-rounded individuals which means, if they meet my wife after work and she tells them she works in the fashion business, they’ll be able to engage with her and contribute insightful or meaningful comments, and that's very valuable," Ventura said. "It shows maturity, it shows they will succeed in client-facing situations, and it engenders loyalty and a sense of community."

 It also might improve a wannabe's look, which can never hurt.

SEE ALSO: Keep these 5 things in mind to get the most out of your summer investment-banking internship

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The company behind the world's biggest tech fund keeps hiring former Deutsche Bank traders

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son

Japanese tech and telecom giant SoftBank has hired Colin Fan, a former head of investment banking and trading at Deutsche Bank, Bloomberg News' Stephanie Baker reports

The Hong Kong-born banker joined Deutsche Bank as a credit trader in 1998. Over 19 years, Fan rose through the ranks, eventually being named co-head of the firm’s investment banking arm in 2012.

Fan left the bank in 2015 as part of a large restructuring.  

Fan isn't the only former Deutsche Bank executive with strong connections to Softbank. 

Rajeev Misra, a former top trading exec at Deutsche Bank, is SoftBank’s head of strategic finance. And Nizar Al-Bassam and Dalinc Ariburnu, who both previously worked at Deutsche Bank, arranged SoftBank's deal for hedge fund group Fortress.

The tech giant recently launched its $93 billion Vision Fund, with funding from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Apple and Qualcomm. Vision Fund is the world's largest tech fund and is based in London. It plans to purchase SoftBank’s previous investments in Nvidia and other American tech companies.

Read the Bloomberg story here.

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Cryptocurrencies Boost Hedge Fund Returns But Managers Still Avoid Them

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Cryptocurrencies Boosts Hedge Fund Returns But Fund Managers Still Avoid Them

Most hedge funds have had a poor start to the year. According to Hedge Fund Research, hedge fund portfolios gained only 3.5 percent in value from January to May of 2017, heavily underperforming the S&P 500 Index, which generated a return of 7 percent in the same time period.

Hedge funds are investment funds that can invest in a wide array of assets and adopt different types of investment strategies. Unlike mutual funds or pension funds, hedge funds are not constrained by regulatory requirements to primarily invest in stock and bonds and can, therefore, also invest in real estate, derivatives, and currencies, among other asset classes. This freedom of choice is what gives hedge funds a competitive advantage over traditional funds. For this ability to generate better returns, hedge funds charge a high annual management fee (usually 2 percent) as well as a performance fee. However, as witnessed in the first five months of 2017, these fees are not always warranted.

The HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index, which is an equally weighted index that tracks the performance of hedge funds, is up only 0.5 percent in May, while the S&P 500 Index is up twice as much. Given the rise in popularity of low-cost index tracker funds and an eight-year rally in stocks, hedge funds are struggling to justify their high fee structures to investors.

Bitcoin Is Boosting Hedge Fund Returns

The start of the year, however, was not gloomy for all hedge fund managers. The funds that did outperform were those focusing on technology and currencies.

FX funds that had the foresight to gain exposure to digital currencies such as bitcoin managed to outperform their peers as well as the S&P 500 Index. The HFRI Macro: Currency Index, for example, gained 8.2 percent year-to-date.

This should not come as a surprise given the impressive rallies of digital currencies such as bitcoin and ether, which both reached numerous new all-time highs in the spring months of 2017 and generated a 190 percent and 4,900 percent return respectively since the start of the year.

Most Portfolio Managers Still Avoid Cryptocurrency

Despite the exuberant returns of leading digital currencies such as bitcoin, ether and litecoin in the past six months, the majority of hedge fund portfolio managers are still staying clear of digital currencies as an asset class.

The reluctance to invest in digital currencies ranges from a lack of in-depth knowledge about the asset class to concerns of liquidity and fears of cyber theft.

Louis Gargour, Wall Street veteran and founder of hedge fund LNG Capital, suggests that bitcoin is not ready yet for widespread adoption as an institutional asset class.

He told CNBC: "Bitcoin's extreme volatility doesn't sit well with managers working on a risk-adjusted return basis. Furthermore, there are valid concerns that digital currency assets can be hacked or stolen. Finally, there's a perception that bitcoin remains a niche, retail investment that does not yet demonstrate sufficient quality to be seriously considered for many reputable institutions."

On the other hand, Bobby Cho, trader at Cumberland Mining, a subsidiary of DRW Trading, told Bitcoin Magazine: "The digital currency investment landscape is changing rapidly along with the mindset of investors. A few years ago, bitcoin wasn't viewed as a viable asset class through the eyes of hedge funds.”

However, this has started to change according to Cho. “Today, Cumberland Mining works with both traditional and digital-only funds by providing institutional-sized liquidity in different digital currencies, most notably bitcoin and ethereum.”

The post Cryptocurrencies Boost Hedge Fund Returns But Managers Still Avoid Them appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Cryptocurrencies Boost Hedge Fund Returns But Managers Still Avoid Them

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Cryptocurrencies Boosts Hedge Fund Returns But Fund Managers Still Avoid Them

Most hedge funds have had a poor start to the year. According to Hedge Fund Research, hedge fund portfolios gained only 3.5 percent in value from January to May of 2017, heavily underperforming the S&P 500 Index, which generated a return of 7 percent in the same time period.

Hedge funds are investment funds that can invest in a wide array of assets and adopt different types of investment strategies. Unlike mutual funds or pension funds, hedge funds are not constrained by regulatory requirements to primarily invest in stock and bonds and can, therefore, also invest in real estate, derivatives, and currencies, among other asset classes. This freedom of choice is what gives hedge funds a competitive advantage over traditional funds. For this ability to generate better returns, hedge funds charge a high annual management fee (usually 2 percent) as well as a performance fee. However, as witnessed in the first five months of 2017, these fees are not always warranted.

The HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index, which is an equally weighted index that tracks the performance of hedge funds, is up only 0.5 percent in May, while the S&P 500 Index is up twice as much. Given the rise in popularity of low-cost index tracker funds and an eight-year rally in stocks, hedge funds are struggling to justify their high fee structures to investors.

Bitcoin Is Boosting Hedge Fund Returns

The start of the year, however, was not gloomy for all hedge fund managers. The funds that did outperform were those focusing on technology and currencies.

FX funds that had the foresight to gain exposure to digital currencies such as bitcoin managed to outperform their peers as well as the S&P 500 Index. The HFRI Macro: Currency Index, for example, gained 8.2 percent year-to-date.

This should not come as a surprise given the impressive rallies of digital currencies such as bitcoin and ether, which both reached numerous new all-time highs in the spring months of 2017 and generated a 190 percent and 4,900 percent return respectively since the start of the year.

Most Portfolio Managers Still Avoid Cryptocurrency

Despite the exuberant returns of leading digital currencies such as bitcoin, ether and litecoin in the past six months, the majority of hedge fund portfolio managers are still staying clear of digital currencies as an asset class.

The reluctance to invest in digital currencies ranges from a lack of in-depth knowledge about the asset class to concerns of liquidity and fears of cyber theft.

Louis Gargour, Wall Street veteran and founder of hedge fund LNG Capital, suggests that bitcoin is not ready yet for widespread adoption as an institutional asset class.

He told CNBC: "Bitcoin's extreme volatility doesn't sit well with managers working on a risk-adjusted return basis. Furthermore, there are valid concerns that digital currency assets can be hacked or stolen. Finally, there's a perception that bitcoin remains a niche, retail investment that does not yet demonstrate sufficient quality to be seriously considered for many reputable institutions."

On the other hand, Bobby Cho, trader at Cumberland Mining, a subsidiary of DRW Trading, told Bitcoin Magazine: "The digital currency investment landscape is changing rapidly along with the mindset of investors. A few years ago, bitcoin wasn't viewed as a viable asset class through the eyes of hedge funds.”

However, this has started to change according to Cho. “Today, Cumberland Mining works with both traditional and digital-only funds by providing institutional-sized liquidity in different digital currencies, most notably bitcoin and ethereum.”

The post Cryptocurrencies Boost Hedge Fund Returns But Managers Still Avoid Them appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

81% of Brits who are heavily in debt are so worried they can't sleep

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

phone smartphone bed sleepless insomnia shutterstock

Four fifths of Brits who are heavily in debt are so worried that they can't sleep, while more than 10% don't even have a bed of their own, according to report by charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

The charity points to low income as the most common cause of prolonged and serious debt.

In a survey of 1,217 clients, CAP found:

  • 81% were so worried by debt they were having trouble sleeping
  • 11% said they were going without a bed 
  • 6% said they were renting their bed 
  • One in three were missing a bed, fridge, freezer, washing machine or sofa
  • 10% were renting items of basic furniture 
  • 63% of CAP clients were living below the poverty line (£15,780)

"For years our charity has been saying that people in debt can't sleep at night. Now we discover the shocking truth that more than one in ten don't have a bed to call their own," said CEO Matt Barlow.

CAP also highlighted the growing trend of low-income households renting furniture. BrightHouse, which is the UK's largest weekly payment retailer, provides a single bed for £2.50, or a single bed and mattress for £3.50 per week. But this amounts to £546 for a bed and mattress over a three year period, more than the cost of buying them outright.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, in June 2014, 46% of households in the lowest wealth bracket were in financial debt. Those with the lowest incomes also had far higher debts than those in any other income group.

CAP also found that overdue payments for household bills and essentials, such as rent and mortgage payments, have trebled in the last ten years. While the average client owed £1,412 in 2006, that figure had rocketed to £4,582 in 2016.

"It's easy to say that people get into debt because they are thoughtlessly overspending. That view is now not only lacking in compassion, it's thoroughly outdated," said Barlow.

"The vast majority of people we see have turned to credit to cover the costs of necessities like council tax, energy bills and rent. A decade ago, the pattern was different, credit was  more easily found and living costs weren't so high," he said.

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One of the world's top central bankers warns digital currencies like bitcoin could worsen future financial crises

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Jens Weidmann

Jens Weidmann, the head of Germany's Bundesbank and one of the most powerful figures in European finance, has warned that digital currencies like bitcoin have the potential to make financial crises in the future even more devastating.

Speaking in Frankfurt on Wednesday, Weidmann said he believes that central banks will eventually create their own digital currencies to reassure average citizens that such currencies are safe and stable, but in doing so could increase the risk of bank runs in future crises.

"Allowing the public to hold claims on the central bank might make their liquid assets safer, because a central bank cannot become insolvent," Weidmann said in a speech largely focused on the European Central Bank's QE programme.

"This is a feature which will become relevant especially in times of crisis – when there will be a strong incentive for money holders to switch bank deposits into the official digital currency simply at the push of a button. But what might be a boon for savers in search of safety might be a bane for banks, as this makes a bank run potentially even easier."

Weidmann's basic point is that by making currencies fully digital in future, withdrawing money from a bank would become much more simple. Instead of physically having to visit a cashpoint or bank branch to withdraw cash, customers could do it online. In times of crisis, when people tend to take money out of their accounts so they can have the perceived safety of cash, causing the phenomenon of the bank run.

At its simplest level, a bank run occurs when customers lose faith in the stability of the bank and the safety of their money, so decide to take out their cash. This, in turn, makes the bank's problems even worse, because they lose cash liquidity, making it more difficult for them to fulfil their obligations.

A famous example of a bank run came in 2007 when British lender Northern Rock saw a run after it was revealed that it had to seek emergency assistance from the Bank of England. Northern Rock collapsed shortly afterwards.

Digital currencies have hit the headlines in recent months after the price of bitcoin — the best-known cryptocurrency — began to increase rapidly.

Bitcoin's price has climbed from around $750 per coin in late 2016 to around $3,000 per coin today, a gain of 400% in just over six months. That has caused other currencies like Ether to spike higher as well.

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Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin: How Blockchain Will Transform Business In 3 to 5 Years

Inc, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Everyone says Blockchain is going to be huge. Here's what it will actually change, with specific examples in business and government.

A big investor in scientific ventures just hired a former top JPMorgan banker

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Stephen Berenson Headshot

A $1.75 billion venture capital firm just hired the former vice chairman of investment banking at JPMorgan.

Stephen Berenson had worked at JPMorgan for more than 30 years and now joins the firm as an executive partner.

Flagship Pioneering, which until December 2016 was known as Flagship Ventures, is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based venture firm, investing in everything from cutting edge gene editing companies to cancer drugmakers, to a buzzy biotech with a nearly $5 billion valuation.

It has originated and fostered the development of more than 75 scientific ventures with more than 500 patents, according to its website. 

Berenson told Business Insider that he made his choice to join after exploring what was out there and figuring whatever he did next had to be: 1. a big idea, 2. a place where he could be directly involved, instead of an intermediary, and 3. somewhere he could learn a lot. Jumping into the world of life sciences at Flagship checked all three boxes. 

In January, Flagship also picked up Novartis veteran David Epstein, who had most recently worked as the head of pharmaceuticals at the drug giant.

"Stephen's deep understanding of fast-growing companies as well as market-leading organizations, coupled with a strong commitment to developing talent and leading high-impact strategic initiatives, will play a catalytic role at Flagship as we continue to originate and resource the next generation of pioneering life sciences ventures," Flagship CEO Noubar Afeyan said in a news release.

SEE ALSO: There’s a race to treat a condition that affects 38 million Americans — here’s what you need to know

DON'T MISS: The FDA is getting a lot more aggressive about fighting the opioid crisis

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Bitcoin Scaling: How to Give Everyone More Control

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Jimmy Song of Paxos discusses bitcoin's scaling debate, arguing that adding sidechains to the protocol could ultimately provide the best path forward.

Source

Litecoin Foundation Reports 'No Issues' Since SegWit Activation

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The litecoin cryptocurrency adopted an upgrade called Segregated Witness just over a month ago and, so far, things seem to be going smoothly.

Source

Asia is turbo boosting luxury bag maker Mulberry's profits

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

mulberrycampaignpic

Luxury fashion brand Mulberry saw profits jump due to expansion in Asia, a rise in digital sales, and increased efficiencies, the group reported on Wednesday.

  • Profit before tax was up 21% at the end March 2017, compared to a year previously.
  • Sales from digital grew by 19%, and now make up 15% of the Group's revenue.
  • Total revenue is up 8% to £168.1 million, compared to £155.9 million in 2016.
  • The brand also created a new entity, Mulberry Asia, to manage its business in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, with stores opening in Shanghai and Hong Kong earlier in the year.

"During the year we have made good progress. Our sales and profits are growing, enhancing our strong cash position. We have advanced our international growth strategy with a new partnership in Asia and the continued expansion of our omni-channel offer in key markets," said CEO Thierry Andretta.

The rise in profit comes despite fears, over the past two years, that luxury brands expanding in Asian markets might suffer from slowing growth in China. The group also seems to have recovered from having slipped into the red in December 2016: despite upfront costs caused by expanding in Asia, Mulberry reported it now has no debt.

Despite the good news, Mulberry's shares dropped 2% as of 09:05 a.m. (BST) on June 14.

Screen Shot 2017 06 14 at 09.07.17

In the UK, two stores (Covent Garden and Bicester) were relocated, while two closed in North America (in New York and Washington), to focus instead on digital sales.

"Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in advancing our international development and increasing Mulberry's relevance to our customers' rapidly evolving lifestyle," said Andretta. 

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Collapsed fashion house Jaeger will repay just 2p for every pound of the £50 million it owes to creditors

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Clothes hang on coat hangers in a Jaeger store in London September 14, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON — Creditors of collapsed fashion house Jaeger are owed nearly £50 million pounds but will receive less than two pence back for every pound they are owed, according to an administrator's report.

The report, filed on Tuesday by Alix Partners to Companies House, shows that unsecured creditors across the four trading companies which make up the brand are owed £49.17 million in total.

Only creditors of Jaeger Company's Shops Limited — which are owed £29.12 million — are set to receive any compensation at all.

Creditors of Jaeger Company Ltd, which bought the stock sold in Jaeger stores and online, are unlikely to recover any of the £11.5 million they are owed.

A group of angry creditors led by textile magnate César Araújo — who is owed over half a million pounds — are demanding an investigation into the collapse of the fashion house, the Times reports.

The 113 employees who were made redundant will be fully compensated for unpaid wages totaling £51,565, the administrator's report says.

Jaeger was a well-known British brand which operated for 133 years, but collapsed in April after failing to keep pace with rapidly changing high street conditions.

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CITI EMEA INVESTMENT BANKING CHIEF: We're preparing for a 'Hard Brexit'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The sun sets behind The London Skyline, featuring Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the O2, Thames barrier and BT tower, after a security exercise along the River Thames on January 19, 2012 in London, England. The exercise including around 44 police officers, 94 military personnel, 15 boats and a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter was conducted by both the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Marines and designed to test their joint capability ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games. (Photo by )

LONDON – US investment bank Citi is preparing for a "hard Brexit" and is in the final stages of deciding where to move operations to maintain links to clients, EMEA corporate and investment banking chief, Manolo Falco, said.

"We're preparing for a hard Brexit, which means we will set up a second broker dealer in the EU," Falco said in an interview before the June 8 general election.

"The major cities in Europe have a lot to offer," he said. "We're doing our homework, like everyone else. We're looking at the regulatory side, the size of the country, political risk, we’re looking at real estate, infrastructure, education system and so on."

In January, Jim Cowles, Citi's European operations chief, said the bank would make a decision on the location of its EU-based broker-dealer in the first half of the year.

A broker-dealer accesses capital markets on behalf of clients, and there are concerns that, in hard Brexit in which the UK crashes out of the EU single market, London will lose its financial passport to access markets in the EU.

"On Brexit, we're still in the decision making phase," Falco said. "There will not be a disruption to the service we provide to our clients."

"My business is a lot less affected than others. M&A is a non-regulated activity so it’s more about the capital markets side of the business, and some cash management. I also already have 60% of my bankers outside of London," said Falco.

With the clock ticking down to March 2019, banks are not waiting to see how the UK's talks with the European Union pan out. The UK has been thrown into political chaos after this month's general election returned a hung parliament, weakening rather than strengthening Prime Minister Theresa May's credibility in the negotiations. 

Banks and European regulators need at least a year, if not longer, to set up fully functioning branches and subsidiaries in Europe to maintain activities. This means that if talks stumble, or the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU without a transition deal increases, banks may be forced to move quickly on plans to boost EU offices. 

Last month, Sabine Lautenschlager, vice-chair of the Frankfurt-based SSM, a unit of the European Central Bank, said applications for European licences will be scrutinised closely.

"It is the ECB that grants licences in the euro area. And to be clear: we will only grant licences to well-capitalised and well-managed banks," she said.

"We will not accept empty shell companies. Any new entity must have adequate local risk management, sufficient local staff and operational independence."

The direction of talks, and the SSM's regulatory stance prompted Deutsche Bank's chief regulatory officer last month to warn that the bank may be forced to move up to 4,000 staff from the UK to Europe as a result of Brexit.

Cowles has said "Germany is one of our favourites" as a location for the bank's European base in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung earlier this year.

Citigroup has 370 people in Frankfurt and could shift 200 more to Germany's financial centre from London to maintain access to the European single market after the UK leaves the European Union, he said.

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10 things you need to know before European markets open

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Arlene Foster DUP

Good morning! Here's what you need to know. 

1. The European Union plans to give itself powers to move euro clearing business away from London's financial sector to the EU after Brexit and adopt a model closer to that operated by the United States, Reuters reported. The draft law would force euro-denominated clearing business to shift from London to the bloc if the volume was deemed by Brussels to be systemically important.

2. Spain's government faced a vote of no confidence tabled by the far-left Podemos to denounce a series of corruption scandals that have hit Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative party. The motion is unlikely to succeed as a majority of lawmakers plan to vote against it or abstain, but it is once again shining the spotlight on the ruling Popular Party, whose reputation has been damaged by graft case after graft case.

3. Three London-based former currency traders facing US charges that they tried to manipulate prices in the world's largest financial market have agreed not to fight extradition, and will appear at a New York court hearing next month. Rohan Ramchandani, Richard Usher and Chris Ashton, formerly of Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Barclays - dubbed the "Cartel" - were indicted by the Department of Justice in January.

4. Money misappropriated from the Malaysian state fund was used to partly finance the $2.2 billion acquisition of Coastal Energy in 2014.  Proceeds from the Coastal Energy deal were then used to buy a property in London's glitzy Mayfair district. 

5. Finland's nationalist Finns Party has split into two groups after choosing hardline anti-immigrant politicians as its leaders, paving the way for Prime Minister Juha Sipila to include the moderates in a new coalition government. Sipila had said he would break up his three-party center-right coalition as he wanted to eject the Finns Party.

6. British junior finance minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who was responsible for liaising with the financial services industry over Brexit, said on Tuesday that she had left the government.  Neville-Rolfe became a Conservative member of Britain's upper house of parliament in October 2013 after a career at retailer Tesco and earlier in Britain's civil service.

7. South Africa's competition watchdog has launched an investigation into three pharmaceutical companies suspected of charging too much for cancer medicines. The Competition Commission said it will investigate Aspen Pharmacare, Africa's biggest generic drug maker, US company Pfizer and Swiss-based Roche Holding.

8. Bond investor Bill Gross warned that investors should reduce their risk appetite, given the US growth rate is stunted by secular forces "which monetary and even future fiscal policies seem unable to reverse." Gross of Janus Henderson said: "Strategies involving risk reduction should ultimately outperform 'faux' surefire winners generated by central bank printing of money.

9. OPEC said a rebalancing of the oil market was under way at a "slower pace" and reported that its own output in May jumped due to gains in nations exempt from a pact to reduce supply. OPEC said its output rose by 336,000 barrels per day led by a rebound in Nigeria and Libya, which were exempted from supply cuts because unrest and conflict had curbed their output.

10. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence from the company to "work on myself" and to deal with a recent family tragedy, according to an email he sent to the company. When he returns to the ride-hailing giant, Kalanick will be stripped of some duties, and Uber's board will appoint an independent chair to "limit his influence," Bloomberg reported.

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IBM is letting Watson lose on Wall Street regulations

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

IBM Watson

IBM is unleashing Watson, the tech company's artificial intelligence platform, on financial regulations. 

On Wednesday, the New York-based technology firm, rolled out a suit of software solutions that will help financial institutions manage their regulatory responsibilities.

"Essentially, we’re embedding our deep regulatory experience into Watson so that a broader group of professionals can benefit from this knowledge and help their organizations operate more effectively and efficiently," said Gene Ludwig, founder and chief executive at Promontory Financial Group, a subsidiary of IBM involved in the roll-out.

The three offerings, which are powered by Watson, are as follows:

  • Watson Regulatory Compliance. This offering will help financial firms better identify the regulations to which they have to subscribe.
  • IBM Financial Crimes Insight with Watson. This service uses advanced analytics to help firms understand and act on criminal threats. 
  • IBM Algo One Big Data Foundation. This solution marries big data and risk management technology. 

Financial firms pay a high price to comply with regulations. According to McKinsey, the international consulting firm, banks dedicate approximately 10% to 15% of their operational spending budgets to managing risk and compliance. 

SEE ALSO: Thomson Reuters is partnering with the 'Slack for Wall Street'

SEE ALSO: Wall Street firms are betting that the technology behind bitcoin could help them cut jobs

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