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Dala Adds Stellar Blockchain to Ecosystem, Reveals Multi-Chain Strategy

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

Dala

Dala has officially announced a new multi-chain strategy that will include Stellar, the technology behind the seventh largest cryptocurrency (lumens) by market cap. Dala is looking to create the most decentralized financial system available by bring together top blockchains and protocols. It hopes to reach developing markets by establishing a decentralized system that allows users to borrow, earn, save and transact funds.

Dala says it will be using Stellar for payments, along with Ethereum for its smart contract capabilities. Stellar promises speedy and low-cost transactions for customers, and Dala executives believe its blockchain will lead to steady user growth.

Dala is a new cryptocurrency issued by the Dala Foundation. As a general purpose ERC-20 token, Dala’s ecosystem consists of several partnerships across the globe, making it a borderless financial system. Dala also powers blockchain-backed Wala, a zero-fee monetary platform built for mobile devices.

Tricia Martinez is the founder and CEO of Wala, and the director of the Dala Foundation. Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, she explained why the team was adamant about working with Stellar over something larger and more established like Bitcoin.

“Stellar has been designed as a payment network to integrate disparate currencies, payment systems and entities to move value quickly and reliably at almost no cost,” she states. “Stellar scales exceptionally well — transactions are generally confirmed in three to five seconds, and transaction throughput of up to 10,000 transactions per second has been reported. Furthermore, transactions on Stellar are extremely cheap in the region of 100,000 transactions for $0.01. This aligns with the core need identified when Dala was created: emerging market consumers need the ability to transact micropayments instantly at no cost.”

Lisa Nestor, Director of Partnerships at the Stellar Development Foundation, also provided her commentary as to why the Stellar blockchain was the best and only choice. She says that the reason Stellar moves so quickly is because it does not use proof-of-work (PoW), relying instead on the Stellar Consensus Protocol.

“With Stellar, it’s easier to move between local currencies and digital currencies, which makes it ideal for cash-heavy, emerging economies,” she says. “Stellar’s architecture makes it an ideal, open-source tool for digitizing and trading any type of asset, from currency to mobile money.”

Concluding our interview, Martinez says Dala is the first cryptocurrency in existence to be completely “blockchain agnostic,” and that it can run on virtually any blockchain depending on the use case. “Dala will take advantage of the best blockchains to drive financial inclusion and bring a decentralized system to the masses,” she explains. “It gives us great pleasure to announce that we will be using Stellar for payments.”

Integration is currently underway, and the partnership between Dala and Stellar will go live in the fourth quarter of 2018.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Billionaire Investor Says No One Wants to Buy Bitcoin, Market Shows Otherwise

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Ken Griffin, a billionaire hedge fund manager at Citadel, has said that not a single portfolio manager he knows is interested in the crypto market. At the Delivering Alpha Conference in New York, Griffin said: “I don’t have a single portfolio manager [of mine] who has told me we should buy crypto, not a single

The post Billionaire Investor Says No One Wants to Buy Bitcoin, Market Shows Otherwise appeared first on CCN

Pharma giant Merck just lowered the prices of some of its medications (MRK)

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

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier


Amid scrutiny over big pharma drug pricing, Merck said on Thursday it would lower the price of some of its medications. 

The pharmaceutical giant said it would reduce the cost of its hepatitis C medication Zepatier by 60%. 

"We believe that further changes are still necessary to help reduce patient out-of-pocket costs," Merck said in a statement. 

The list price of Zepatier had been $54,600 for a course of treatment, lower than its competitors. The drug had $1.6 billion in sales in 2017. 

Other Merck drugs, which the company hasn't yet named, will be lowered by 10%. 

But those drugs make up less than 0.1% of Merck's overall sales, Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat said in a note on Thursday. 

The decision comes a little over a week after President Donald J. Trump singled out rival Pfizer over its price increases. The move prompted Pfizer to defer its increases until the end of the year and Novartis to commit to not increasing prices for the rest of the year. 

Merck is the first major pharmaceutical company to actually lower its drug prices in the wake of the Trump administration's drug-pricing plan, which was unveiled in May, as Pfizer and Novartis simply deferred future price increases. 

While the Trump administration didn't single out Merck recently, the firm was the subject of a tweet by Trump last August. Amid Merck CEO Ken Frazier's withdrawal from Trump's manufacturing council, Trump tweeted that the move would give Frazier more time to "LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

Here's Merck's statement: 

"Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, has a long history of responsible pricing. In 2017, Merck issued its second annual Pricing Action Transparency Report, which showed that net prices across Merck’s U.S. product portfolio declined by 1.9 percent. We believe that further changes are still necessary to help reduce patient out-of-pocket costs. To demonstrate our commitment to achieving this goal, we are making the following announcement:

We commit to not increase the average net price across our portfolio of products by more than inflation annually.

We are also lowering our price on ZEPATIER by 60 percent and several other medicines by 10 percent to reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients across the country. The Merck products selected were based on a range of factors including the gap between list price and actual discounted (net) prices paid in the market, the contractual obligations under existing arrangements with payers, and the opportunity to broaden access to treatment.

Going forward, we will continue to evaluate our portfolio of products to look for opportunities to further reduce costs for patients and the health care system."

SEE ALSO: 'It's akin to us cancelling scheduled ice fishing trips during July and August:' Trump is claiming a win after drugmakers committed not to increase prices for the rest of the year but it could have little impact on patients

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

Malta Stock Exchange Partners With OKEx to Launch Security Tokens Platform

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

mse

The Maltese government is gradually building a global market for cryptocurrencies as it continues to assert itself as the world's blockchain island with crypto-friendly regulations. Thanks to such accommodating legislation, cryptocurrency companies like Binance and OKEx have flocked to the country to build out their services.

Helping to further build these services, the Malta Stock Exchange (MSE) just announced the launch of its MSX PLC, an investment vehicle that will partner with leading crypto exchanges to create joint ventures in the country. For MSX PLC’s flagship partnership, MSE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with digital asset exchange OKEx.

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Joe Portelli, chairman of the Malta Stock Exchange, was full of optimism for the partnership with OKEx.

“We believe security tokenization will be the next major wave in the digital asset arena and expect other stocks exchanges to follow our lead,” he commented.

OKEx, who recently moved to Malta, will partner with the MSX to create an “institutional grade security-tokens trading platform” called OKMSX. The company, however, expects to finalize the Joint Venture by the third quarter of 2018, while the platform won't be launched until the first quarter of 2019.

The partnership would leverage OKEx's expertise for running a digital exchange and the MSE's “experience in regulatory compliance and client due diligence.”

Commenting on the partnership, Tim Byun, chief risk officer and head of Government Relations of OKEx, said he believes OKMSX will be a “milestone for the economic development of Malta.”

MSX also joined hands with German-based Fifth Force, the operator of Neufund, a platform that allows companies to tokenize equities and sell them via Equity Token Offerings (ETOs).

In a Medium post, Neufund says the partnership aims to build a “regulated and decentralized, global stock exchange for listing and trading tokenized securities alongside crypto-assets.”

Zoe Adamovicz, CEO and co-founder at Neufund, revealed in the press release that he was anticipating the pilot, which would help “test the market's reaction and realize overall project idea.”

Malta has been committed to creating a favorable environment for the blockchain industry. Just last week, Malta-based STASIS launched a stablecoin backed by the Euro. The country’s friendly laws have also convinced crypto heavyweights to set up shop on the island.







This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

JetBlue is selling one-way tickets to the Caribbean for as low as $58 (JBLU)

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

JetBlue Airbus A320

  • JetBlue announced its "Endless Summer Sale" with one-way flights to the Caribbean for as low as $58. 
  • Departures must be out of JetBlue terminals in either Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, or New York. 
  • Destinations in the sale include Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands; Nassau, Bahamas; Cartagena, Colombia; and San Jose, Costa Rica. 

On Thursday, JetBlue announced an end-of-the month sale for tickets to the Caribbean for as low as $58 one-way and $108 round-trip. 

Advertised as JetBlue's "Endless Summer Sale," the fares include government taxes and fees. They include flights that depart from JetBlue terminals in three cities — New York City (JFK), Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando — and cover one-way or round-trip journeys to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands; Nassau, Bahamas; and Bermuda.

Flights to Cartagena, Colombia; San Jose, Costa Rica; Kingston, Jamaica; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; are included in the promotion as well. 

A flight from New York to Bermuda is available for $74 one-way, and a direct trip from Orlando to Nassau is advertised at $64. A flight from Fort Lauderdale to Aguadilla is listed as going for $108 round-trip.

JetBlue Fares

This is not exactly a free-for-all, as there are restrictions. Booking must be done by July 20, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The eligible travel dates listed are between September 5 and November 7, 2018, with October 4-8, 2018 marked as blackout dates.

The fares will be available through Friday only.

This is not the first time JetBlue has offered such generous deals. Earlier this year, the company offered a promotion that targeted regional travelers, discounting tickets for flights between Atlanta and Orlando as well as between San Francisco and Long Beach, California. 

SEE ALSO: JetBlue flight attendants reportedly broke protocol to save a dog's life by giving her an oxygen mask

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

Bermuda Is Quickly Gaining Favor as a Jurisdiction of Choice for Digital Assets

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

bermuda

Bermuda is well known as a global center for financial services as the island operates the largest reinsurance market in the world. Now, Bermuda is aggressively diving into the fintech sector with two clear objectives: to promote the island as the jurisdiction of choice for fintech entrepreneurs and to establish its new regulatory framework as the universal standard for initial coin offerings (ICOs), digital assets and virtual currencies. By doing so, Bermuda’s Premier and Minister of Finance E. David Burt hopes to diversify Bermuda’s economy and encourage new development ― monetary, educational and cultural ― in the island.

If recent developments are any indication, Bermuda is perhaps well on the path to quickly becoming the global leader for the issuance of digital assets. When discussing international interest in Bermuda’s initiative, the premier has stated, “Bermuda’s leadership in the development of a fintech industry supported by a sound regulatory base is attracting the attention of the world. This government’s determination to produce the right framework for growth in this area has set a high standard.”

Bermuda’s Innovative Digital Assets Regulatory Framework

While some nations have inhibited the development of digital assets (e.g., China and South Korea), most others have not yet passed legislation germane to the asset class. Bermuda, in contrast, seeks to set the market, implementing a comprehensive and prudential regulatory framework designed to create a supportive business environment that fosters development. The government has collaborated with a partnership of regulators, external consultants and other private sector representatives to develop a best-in-class system that will serve as the standard for other jurisdictions (the Bermuda Standard).

Bermuda has passed legislation that it believes will establish the necessary regulatory framework to guide its initiative. The legislation governs two distinct categories of business:

  • issuers who launch ICOs for their own crowdfunding purposes, which are regulated by amendments to the existing Companies Act 1981 and Limited Liability Company Act 2016 (collectively, the ICO Act), and by the Registrar of Companies (ROC) and

  • issuers of virtual currencies and operators of digital asset exchanges, as well as individuals who provide services related to digital assets, which are regulated under the new Digital Asset Business Act 2018 (DABA) and by the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA).

Bermuda seeks to embrace the potential afforded by digital assets but not at the expense of tarnishing its pristine international finance reputation. The Blockchain Task Force, comprised of government, industry, legal and technology professionals, collectively drafted these bills to set reasonable and credible regulation. The task force has also issued additional regulations and guidance on critical topics, such as cyber security and prudential business standards. Bermuda recognizes that digital assets present significant risks that require robust anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorism financing (ATF) regulations but believes that the ICO Act and DABA are suitable safeguards.

The Initial Coin Offering Act

The ICO Act was passed in May 2018 and regulates offerings of “digital assets,” which includes various types of digital coins and tokens (i.e., equity, security and utility) that are issued as ICOs. Specifically, the ICO Act defines “digital assets” as:

[A]nything that exists in binary format and comes with the right to use it and includes a digital representation of value that ―

  1. is used as a medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value and is not legal tender, whether or not denominated in legal tender;

  2. is intended to represent assets such as debt or equity in the promoter;

  3. is otherwise intended to represent any assets or rights associated with such assets; or

  4. is intended to provide access to an application or service or product by means of blockchain[.]

ICOs are a “restricted activity” that requires the consent of the Minister of Finance prior to a public offering, which is a sale to more than 35 investors. The ICO Act is silent as to private sales to 35 investors or fewer. Assisted by the FinTech Advisory Committee, the Minister of Finance will review each proposed ICO to ensure that the issuer satisfies the base criteria that the issuer purports in its offering document, which often is the issuer’s white paper. Once consent is granted, the issuer must file its ICO offering document (subject to certain exemptions, including, but not limited to, if the digital assets are listed on an appointed stock or digital asset exchange) with the ROC.

With respect to timing, the issuer should be able to incorporate within the typical 48-hour period using Bermuda’s standard incorporation procedures, assuming all know-your-customer (KYC), AML and ATF issues have been addressed from a due diligence perspective. However, because express consent from the Minister of Finance is a precondition to issuance, it is advisable that the issuer file its ICO offering document with the Minister of Finance as early as possible.

The ICO Act requires that the offering document at minimum include certain information, such as a description of the project and its timeline with any proposed project phases and milestones, the amount of money equivalent (in Bermudian Dollars) to be raised and its allocation among purchasers of digital assets at each offering point, and any rights or restrictions on the digital assets to be offered. The ICO Act also requires that the offering document include a general risk warning and a statement as to how the prospective purchasers’ personal information will be used.

Many provisions of the ICO Act are similar to the Bermuda statutes regulating initial public offerings. For example, the requirement to file the ICO offering document with the ROC and to submit updates of same to the ROC on a going-forward basis. The ICO Act also requires issuers to include a general risk statement identifying the potential ramifications to investors should the ICO fail. In addition, the ICO Act requires issuers to collect, verify and maintain investor identity information in accordance with AML and ATF laws. Finally, the ICO Act contains criminal offenses and imposes civil penalties of up to BD$250,000 for making materially untrue statements in the ICO offering document.

The Digital Asset Business Act

DABA, which was passed in June 2018, regulates “digital asset business” conducted in or from Bermuda. “Digital asset business” is defined as engaging in the business of providing to the general public any activities that fall within one of five specific categories: (1) issuing, selling or redeeming virtual coins, tokens or other forms of digital assets; (2) operating a payment service provider business that uses digital assets, including fund transfer services; (3) operating an electronic exchange; (4) providing custodial wallet services; or (5) operating a digital asset services vendor.

To be clear, companies issuing ICOs as a funding mechanism for their own business are not regulated under DABA, as such activities are within the scope of the ICO Act. However, companies that issue ICOs for others will be regulated under DABA.

Digital asset businesses must apply for one of two licenses under DABA unless exempt:

  • Class F – The applicant shall be licensed to provide any or all of the digital asset business activities.

  • Class M – The applicant shall be licensed to provide any or all of the digital asset business activities for a defined period determined by the BMA, which may be extended upon application to the BMA.

The Class F license is a full digital asset business license, whereas the Class M license is a “sandbox” license that allows startups to experiment with new products or services for a limited period of time. The tiered licensing scheme bolsters Bermuda’s initiative to create a supportive business environment that attracts fintech innovation to the island while simultaneously ensuring customer protection. The BMA may impose limitations as necessary with respect to the nature and scale of the business permitted under either license, which can include limits on the scope of the digital asset business activity or the manner of operating the digital asset business.

When applying for either the Class F or Class M license, an applicant must submit certain information to the BMA, including the applicant’s business plan that states the nature and scale of the digital asset business, its management arrangements, and its policies to assure compliance with Bermuda’s AML and ATF laws. The BMA has authority to demand additional information as may be reasonably required to determine the application.

Bermuda’s Initiative Moving Forward

This year, Bermuda will adopt additional regulations and issue further guidance to support the development of digital assets and its broader fintech initiative. These endeavors should solidify the island as the jurisdiction of choice for international fintech entrepreneurs and confirm the Bermuda Standard as best-in-class.

Earlier this month, the government of Bermuda announced that it intends to introduce a new class of bank to encourage the development of the fintech industry. A proposed amendment to the Banks and Deposit Companies Act 1999 will allow for the formation of “Restricted Banks” that reportedly can better serve the fintech sector. The amendment will outline categories of business that Restricted Banks may serve and include a provision that allows for future amendments as fintech evolves.

This summer Bermuda will launch a national electronic identification ledger (E-ID) using blockchain technology. E-ID will provide a single platform that licensees can use to efficiently comply with KYC, AML and ATF rules. E-ID is designed to comply with international rules and regulations, such as the Personal Information Protection Act in Bermuda and the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe. E-ID will also enable individuals to control third-party access to their data by allowing them to grant permissions for specific data for a defined period of time. In addition, the use of the blockchain should provide increased efficiencies through the elimination of duplicative efforts, the aggregation of verified data and instant customer authentication.

Bermuda’s Blockchain Task Force has announced that, later this year, it will establish a legal and regulatory framework for virtual currency exchanges. Reportedly, this initiative is scheduled to become operative in September 2018.

News of Bermuda’s business-friendly regulatory environment is spreading quickly, and, not surprisingly, fintech companies are moving to the island. In April 2018, the Burt signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Binance Group, operator of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and leader in digital exchange development and fintech, with a market capitalization of $1.3 billion. In May, the premier signed a MOU with Shyft Network Inc., which provides blockchain-based identification solutions for KYC and AML-compliant data transfers.

In June, the premier signed an MOU establishing a strategic partnership with interests from the Republic of Korea. The MOU involves B-Seed Partners (Republic of Korea), FinHigh Capital (United States) and BFS Holdings Ltd. (Bermuda), as partners in a new Bermudian joint venture, Bermuda FinTech Accelerator (BFA). BFA plans to deploy a developed pipeline of fully-funded fintech projects, including token sales and cutting-edge fintech technology that is not yet available on the Island, which will benefit the community through efficiencies, the creation of jobs and educational opportunities. Also in June, Arbitrade Ltd. announced its intent to establish its global headquarters in Bermuda with plans to launch its own ICO and digital asset exchange in August or September 2018.

Having been a part in some of these initiatives leading to the MOUs, we agree that, at the moment, Bermuda provides an attractive alternative to other jurisdictions where ICOs are allowed and accepted. Whether or not Bermuda will become a leading jurisdiction will depend, in part, on the rate and volume of ICOs, the establishment of digital asset exchanges to create liquidity, the development of digital asset management businesses, the extent to which digital assets are linked to fiat, and, ultimately, the expansion of digital banking.

Huhnsik Chung is a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York with more than 25 years of legal experience in the financial services industry. Nicholas Secara is a senior associate in the firm’s New York office practicing in the financial services industry. They can be reached at hchung@stroock.com and nsecara@stroock.com. This is a guest post by both Chung and Secara. Views expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Media.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Institutional Investors Are in Love With Bitcoin, Grayscale Report Reveals

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

Grayscale

In its recent Digital Asset Investment Report, Grayscale Investments LLC, an investment company that specializes in cryptocurrency funds, revealed that it has raised $250 million through new asset investments in this year alone. The investments come despite a slump in the cryptocurrency market’s prices, which has seen bitcoin's price decrease by nearly 50 percent during the same period.

The report came two days before a Bloomberg interview in which Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock — one of the largest asset managers in the world — said institutional investors were not interested in cryptocurrency.

Setting the record straight, Barry Silbert, CEO of Grayscale Investments LLC, tweeted his company's investment report, which shows that "56% of $250 mm raised till date came from institutional investors."

Investments Breakdown 

Grayscale, who has been bullish on cryptocurrencies since its launch in 2013, reveals that $248.39 million has been poured in its investment offerings in the first half of 2018 alone, marking the “strongest inflows of any six month stretch in the history of [its] business.” This breaks down into an average weekly investment of $9.55 million, with the company declaring that they had "seen fresh inflows during each week" of the year.

The report continues to show that, while most of the company's investment products have been down for the first half of the year, they have seen tremendous gains since launching their products. The Bitcoin Investment Trust, which the company claims is the "first publicly quoted bitcoin investment vehicle," is up by 4107.1 percent since it launched in 2013 but down 59.8 percent this year.

Ethereum Classic, another fund that has seen an increase of 270.3 percent since going to market, is currently down by 47.7 percent. The company's other investment products haven't fared much better this year, which doesn't come as a surprise as 2018 has been hard on the market.

Institutional Investors

While the progress made by Grayscale is quite encouraging, perhaps the most salient finding is where the money is coming from.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Grayscale Investments Managing Director Michael Sonnenshein hails the report as a positive for the market as it demonstrates a "meaningful inflow of institutional capital into digital assets."

"We anticipate this trend to continue as investors look to diversify their portfolios by adding exposure to digital assets," he continued.

The company has a diversified investor base, which includes accredited individuals, retirement accounts, family offices and institutional investors. The report states that 56 percent of its investment came from institutional investors, with an average investment of $848,000. The next largest investment group are accredited individuals (20 percent), followed by Retirement Accounts (16 percent) and Family Offices (8 percent). Of these investors who have bought into the company's products, 64 percent are Americans, 26 percent are investors from the Cayman Islands, and the remaining 10 percent are from other regions around the world.

The bulk of Grayscale investors funds have been allocated toward the Bitcoin Investment Trust. Institutional investors might favor it more because its value is directly related to the market, much like the index fund these traditional investors are probably accustomed to. Their favor also likely stems from bitcoin being the most popular digital asset in the world.

Grayscale Investments LLC is a one-stop shop for investors who want to benefit from digital currencies without actually holding them. The company offers a range of funds, including Single Asset Investment Products, like the Bitcoin Investment Trust, and the Digital Large Cap Fund, which offers diversified exposure to the top digital assets by market cap.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Goldman Sachs wades into the equity derivatives hiring frenzy, poaching an up-and-coming trader from Barclays (GS)

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

David Solomon


Goldman Sachs has waded into the equity derivatives hiring frenzy, poaching an up-and-coming trader from Barclays. 

The bank has hired David Wernert, formerly an equity derivatives trader at Barclays focused on single-stock trading, according to people familiar with the matter. 

He'll join the firm as a vice president in single-stock volatility trading, the people said. 

FINRA records confirm that Wernert, 32, left Barclays and joined Goldman Sachs in 2018. He worked for Lehman Brothers in 2007 and 2008 before joining Barclays around the time of Lehman's collapse during the financial crisis, according to FINRA and Linkedin. 

A Goldman Sachs spokesman declined to comment, and Barclays did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Competition for equities talent has been fierce in 2018 amid a rebound in volatility that has revived banks' stock-trading businesses, a trend that has been epitomized by the equity derivatives sector

Equity derivatives traders have become the focus of an intense Wall Street hiring battleground, with more than 40 moves at the level of vice president or higher in equity derivatives in the US this year. Multiple factors are driving the trend, but the catalyst that opened the floodgates was the blowup of the Cboe Volatility Index — known as the VIX — earlier this year, according to industry insiders.

Goldman lost a rising star amid the talent war earlier this summer, as Borzu Masoudi — a 32-year-old flow derivatives trader who was part of the team which allegedly made more than $200 million in profit during the volatility spike in February  — decamped for JPMorgan Chase. 

Banks reported second quarter earnings over the past week, with many of them showing strong results in equities, and some lauding contributions from their derivatives teams for the performance. 

Goldman lagged behind peers, reporting equity trading revenues of $1.89 billion — flat compared to last year. The business represents one of the biggest challenges facing incoming CEO David Solomon

CFO Marty Chavez defended the bank's stock-trading performance during a call with analysts this week, saying, "Our equities franchise is one that I wouldn't trade for anyone else's equities franchise."

Even so, replenishing its derivatives roster with another up-and-coming trader can't hurt. 

Have a tip you'd like to share privately? Email amorrell@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: 'I've never seen it like this in 10 years': How the VIX blow-up led to a talent raid on Wall Street trading floors

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

Bitcoin Rally Converts Staunch Bear, Sees Price Breaking Above US$8,000

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Whether it is FOMO or a conscious judgment, bitcoin bears seem to be fastening their seatbelts for a ride to the moon too. According to Boris Schlossberg, the managing director of FX Strategy at BK Asset Management, the fact that bitcoin had broken above the US$7,000 level was a possible indication that there was still

The post Bitcoin Rally Converts Staunch Bear, Sees Price Breaking Above US$8,000 appeared first on CCN

Coinbase's Wall Street team is luring in billion dollar hedge funds as it tries to fix the biggest pain point in crypto

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

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong

  • Coinbase has a team of former Wall Street executives building out a business to lure big money into the crypto market. 
  • The prime broker business launched earlier this year as Coinbase Prime. But the Coinbase team is working on expanding its services. 
  • Prime brokers are commonplace on Wall Street, but don't exist in crypto which is keeping out big money, experts say. 

Coinbase is best known for being one of the largest venues for mom-and-pop investors in the US to buy cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum.

But the San Francisco-based firm also has a band of ex-Wall Street executives working on addressing the biggest pain point in the crypto market: the lack of a full scale prime-broker.

On Wall Street, middlemen called brokers sit between institutional investors, like a hedge fund or money manager, and exchanges and other trading venues. Such operations are hard to come by in the crypto world because the barriers to entry are high.

Coinbase, however, is looking to overcome these barriers. It launched earlier this year a prime broker business, Coinbase Prime, joining a family of businesses spanning asset management, venture capital investing, and retail trading. 

As part of the business, Coinbase is offering some of the services of a traditional prime broker, including the onboarding of large institutional clients and custody, which had previously been announced by the firm. What's new, however, is that Coinbase is preparing to offer margin finance as early as the end of the year, people familiar with the matter said. 

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong

That would allow institutional investors to borrow to trade, which can help magnify returns, or leverage a short position, according to the people.

In the future, it is possible that Coinbase's broker business could help clients find the best venue to make a trade, even that means sending it to a rival trading outfit, a service known as best execution. 

"Coinbase is pursuing a lot of different initiatives that make sense and take it closer to or are more similar to traditional finance: custody, financing, lending, security tokens, and the institutional portal," said Greenwich Associates' consultant Richard Johnson. "They have the resources to fund them and will surely have some successes."

Already, the firm has onboarded a $20 billion hedge fund through its prime business, the people said, declining to specify which fund. The team is working on getting other large hedge funds onto its trading platform. 

At the same time, the firm is actively building out its teams in New York, Chicago, and London. Notably, it hired Christine Sandler from the New York Stock Exchange as cohead of institutional sales, as well as Hunter Merghart from Barclays as a sales trader

Prime brokers arose in the equities markets in the early 1990s, about the same time the hedge fund industry started to take off. According to the banking research firm Coalition, the 12 largest banks collectively brought in $4.9 billion from their prime-broker units in the first quarter of 2018, the highest level in three years.

Colleen Sullivan, the head of the crypto venture firm CMT Digital, said the lack of a end-to-end prime broker was among the bigger issues holding back large Wall Street firms from entering the crypto space.

Having to self-finance at each exchange opens the firm to above-average risk on Wall Street. She described the lack of prime services in crypto as CMT Digital's "biggest pain point."

"Without a prime broker, trading firms are directly subject to events that an exchange may suffer like hacks, regulatory issues, operational issues, technology issues (and many more) — all of which may lead to loss of the trading firm's cash and coin," she said.

Coinbase's decision to enter into the broker business is a bit ironic. Bitcoin, the largest digital currency on the market, was founded in the aftermath of the financial crisis as an alternative peer-to-peer financial system to Wall Street that would render middlemen useless. Coinbase's entrance into the institutional broker business also raises red-flags to some market observers. 

"There are many potential conflicts of interest in such a vertically integrated model," David Weisberger, a market structure specialist and CEO of CoinRoutes, said. 

The SEC, according to Weisberger, has been keen on keeping strict barriers between different Wall Street businesses because of the various conflicts that could arise. Specifically, Weisberger said he was concerned about confidential exchange info — who is trading and what funds are sitting on their accounts — leaking over to the broker side, which could be used to provide color to trading partners.

Institutional exchanges have historically taken steps to address potential conflict of interest. 

NYSE Group spun off Waves Securities, a brokerage unit, which it acquired when it bought Arca in 2003, after the SEC expressed concerns about conflicts. 

There are parallels between the two situations, insiders say, although it may take some time to play out since the crypto market is so nascent. 

"But right now, there's so many mature players, it is probably a good thing for Coinbase to do this because it is filling a much bigger gap," said Kyle Tuskey, a former Waves executive. 

Since Coinbase is not a registered securities exchange, it isn't clear whether the SEC would have the authority to step in and create firewalls or flat out prohibit Coinbase from operating such a business. 

A representative for SEC could not be reached for comment about Coinbase's ambitions. A spokesman for Coinbase also could not be reached for comment. 

Still, Robert Hockett, a professor of law at Cornell University, said "it seems likely the SEC will take interest in Coinbase's intention to offer prime brokerage services."

"This raises conflict concerns, given Coinbase's also running a coin exchange, reminiscent of those that the Commission has found when securities firms have attempted to combine these two roles."

SEE ALSO: Citadel Securities, a massive Wall Street trader, has made an unusual bet on humans, and it could help the firm tap into an $800 billion market

SEE ALSO: Crypto investors are complaining about the same 'biggest pain point,' and fixing it could add billions to the bitcoin market

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Uber, Airbnb, and bitcoin explains why it's actually a good sign that no one is spending their crypto

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

Goldman Sachs's incoming CEO David Solomon is considering changing up the bank's most powerful committee 

More changes are afoot as Goldman Sachs readies for a leadership handoff.

The firm's current president and incoming CEO, David Solomon, is considering adding more women to the firm’s management committee, its most powerful group, according to people familiar with his thinking. As Solomon thinks about the future strategy of Goldman, he's focused on gaining an array of perspectives at the top of the bank, the people said. 

Comcast has dropped out of the bidding for Fox to focus on its battle for Sky 

The battle between Disney and Comcast to win 21st Century Fox is over, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced in a statement Thursday.

"I'd like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company," Roberts said.

Instead, Comcast will focus solely on acquiring European broadcaster Sky, an asset it is again locked in a bidding war with Disney to win.

So why are these two media behemoths locked in a bidding war for Sky?

Some of bitcoin's biggest traders are teaming up to lure Wall Street money to crypto

A group of bitcoin's biggest traders have teamed up with a small crypto firm to build out two new pricing indices for bitcoin and ether.

TrueDigital, the digital currency trading firm led by Wall Street vet Sunil Hirani, the founder of interest rate swaps exchange trueEx, announced the two new reference rates on Thursday.

Those rates, which can serve as a basis for derivative products such as futures or an exchange-traded fund, take in data from market making firms.

Some of the firms that partnered with trueDigital on the project include Goldman Sachs-backed Circle and a number of Chicago proprietary trading shops, including DV Trading and Hehmeyer Trading.

In markets news

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NOW WATCH: Most affluent investors would rather go to the dentist than invest in a company that hurts the environment

'Tonight, We Stand Here, and It Feels Like We're Finally Winning,' Say Sexual Abuse Survivors in Inspiring Speeches at ESPY Awards

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

More than 140 women, including Aly Raisman, Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez, took the stage to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.At the televised ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards Wednesday night, one of centerpieces of the event was the presentation of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. This year, a group of more than 140 women took the stage to receive the award, all of whom are survivors of sexual abuse. The award honored the hundreds of women who were victims of abuse by former U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar over multiple decades. Nassar was imprisoned on child pornography and sexual abuse charges after The Indianapolis Star reported on a pattern of incidences. At last night's ceremony, the survivors spoke about the experiences they endured in a video that played prior to a series of remarks by current and former gymnasts Aly Raisman and Sarah Klein and former Michigan State University softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez. These women were also among those who provided statements at Nassar's sentencing trial. Watch the presentation, and read the complete transcript of Klein, Lopez and Raisman's remarks at the 2018 ESPYs, below. Sarah Klein "It's a privilege to stand up here with my sister survivors as we represent hundreds more who are not here tonight. "Make no mistake -- we're here on this stage to present an image for the world to see, a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage. "The abuse of Larry Nassar began 30 years ago with me. For 30 years, people at the United States Olympic Committee, U.S.A. Gymnastics and Michigan State University all placed money and medals above the safety of child athletes. Thirty years, until the work of Detective Lieutenant Andrea Munford of the Michigan State Police Department and Andrea Povilaitis, the assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case, finally putting our abuser away for life. "Speaking up and speaking out is not easy. Telling our stories of abuse, over and over and over again, in graphic detail, is not easy. We're sacrificing privacy, we're being judged and scrutinized and it's grueling and it's painful, but it is time. "As a mother, I am here to say that we must start caring about children's safety more than we care about adults' reputations. And as a survivor, I'm here to say that if we just give one person the courage to use their voice, this is worth it. If one more victim of sexual abuse feels less alone tonight, then our suffering has meaning." Tiffany Thomas Lopez "In my sport, softball, we typically measure ourselves with wins and losses. Well, the amount of loss is almost immeasurable. Tonight, we stand here, and it feels like we're finally winning. "There are a lot of conversations in our society that we tiptoe around as if they're something to avoid. I know in my life, people have looked that way at two issues extremely personal to me: race and sexual abuse. Sexual abuse claims victims in every race, showing no discrimination. Just like Arthur Ashe, I stand so very proud representing not only minorities, but all of us as humans, the human race. "I encourage those suffering to hold tight to your faith, and stand tall when speaking your truth. I'm here to tell you, you cannot silence the strong forever." Aly Raisman "1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar's abuse. All those years, we were told, 'You are wrong. You misunderstood. He's a doctor. It's OK. Don't worry. We've got it covered. Be careful. There are risks involved.' The intention? To silence us in favor of money, medals and reputation. "But we persisted, and finally, someone listened and believed us. This past January, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed a profound level of understanding by giving us each an opportunity to face our abuser, to speak our truth and feel heard. Thank you, Judge, for honoring our voices. For too long, we were ignored, and you helped us rediscover the power we each possess. You may never meet the hundreds of children you saved, but know they exist. "The ripple effect of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous. spanning generations. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided. Predators thrive in silence. It is all too common for people to choose to not get involved. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world we live in, impacting others. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar. If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. "Too often, abusers, and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors feel their truth doesn't matter. To the survivors out there, don't let anyone write your story. Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone. "We all face hardships. If we choose to listen and we choose to act with empathy, we can draw strength from each other. We may suffer alone, but we survive together.

A steam pipe explosion on NYC's iconic 5th Avenue prompts evacuation of 28 buildings and asbestos warning

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

Steam pipe explosion

  • A steam pipe exploded on 5th Avenue and 21st Street in New York City on Thursday at around 6:40 a.m. ET. 
  • The incident prompted the evacuation of 28 buildings and warnings of possible asbestos. 
  • Authorities are asking people to stay away from the affected area. 
  • Five minor injuries have been reported, according to the FDNY

A steam pipe explosion in New York City's Flatiron District on Thursday morning sent steam spewing high above buildings and created a crater-like hole on 5th Avenue.

The explosion, which occurred around 6:40 a.m. ET on 5th Avenue and 21st Street, prompted evacuations of at least 28 buildings, the FDNY said on Twitter. Five minor injuries have been reported. 

The incident also sparked concerns about asbestos. 

"Environmental testing is being conducted to determine whether asbestos or other contaminants are present, but as a precaution anyone in the vicinity of the rupture who was covered in material is advised to bag their clothing and shower," ConEd said in a statement via Twitter at about 9:00 AM ET. 

Steam pipe explosion

The energy company also warned people to stay away from the area as a safety precaution. Fifth Avenue from 20th Street to 23rd Street has also been shut down. 

While the FDNY said that while they are still awaiting lab results to see if asbestos is present, the department said that it is acting like the results will come back positive. 

"We’re operating with an abundance of caution since this steam main was installed in 1932, so there is possibly a presence of asbestos. Samples have been taken and we’re awaiting the lab results. We are operating as though those samples will come back positive," FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement on Facebook.

Those who feel like they were affected should report to one of two decontamination sites set up on 5th Ave where they can be evaluated, the FDNY said in the statement. One is located at 19th Street and 5th Ave. and the other is at 22nd and 5th Ave. 

Those who witnessed the incident were quick to take to Twitter to post footage of the explosion. 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: 32 of the most dangerous things science has strongly linked to cancer

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

Goldman Sachs' incoming CEO, David Solomon, is considering changing up the bank's most powerful committee — here's who he's considering adding (GS)

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

David Solomon

  • Goldman Sachs' incoming CEO, David Solomon, is considering naming more women to the firm's management committee, its most powerful governing group, insiders say.
  • Alison Mass, Sheila Patel, and Stephanie Cohen are said to be among the executives under consideration.
  • Solomon is already starting to make his mark in elevating women to top positions at the bank. In June, he appointed eight women to the partnership committee, a panel that helps vet the firm's future leaders.

More changes are afoot as Goldman Sachs readies for a leadership handoff.

The firm's president and incoming CEO, David Solomon, is considering adding more women to the firm's management committee, its most powerful group, according to people familiar with his thinking. As Solomon thinks about the future strategy of Goldman, he's focused on gaining an array of perspectives at the top of the bank, the people said.

Executives under consideration include Alison Mass, the global head of the financial and strategic investors group within investment banking; Sheila Patel, the head of the asset-management arm's international business; and Stephanie Cohen, the chief strategy officer who recently launched a $500 million investment fund for businesses owned or controlled by women. Mass is a favorite to join the committee, one of the people said.

The people cautioned that no decisions had been made and that the incoming CEO could still change his mind or elevate other executives.

As things stand, the management committee contains 29 executives, of which only four, or 14%, are women.

Adding women to the group is just one of many management or strategy changes Solomon is considering as he prepares to take over from Lloyd Blankfein in October. The bank said earlier this week that Blankfein would hand over the CEO's duties in the fall and then step down as chairman at the end of the year.

The announcement frees Solomon to be more public about making changes. In May, the securities division coheads and Blankfein loyalists Pablo Salame and Isabelle Ealet announced their exits from the firm in what was largely seen by insiders as a sign Solomon was asserting his voice in big decisions. He didn't explicitly push them out, people have said.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Solomon was thinking about shrinking the size of the management committee. Solomon, the report said, feels that it has become too big, unwieldy, and overly populated with people who don't have a direct hand in generating revenue. It's not clear how Solomon's desire to have more women on the committee would fit into any plans to consider shrinking it.

Two of the three women listed above are in revenue-producing roles, with Cohen the exception, and Solomon played an instrumental role in moving her out of the M&A banking group and into the executive office. The latest addition to the management committee, Dina Powell, is an investment banker charged with improving the firm's relationship with sovereign wealth funds, particularly those in the Middle East.

Solomon has already made his mark on what is arguably the firm's second- or third-most-powerful body, the partnership committee.

Goldman selects partners every two years, a throwback to its founding as a private partnership. The selections are closely followed both inside and outside the firm for signs of who will make up the next generation of leaders. The committee provides one of the final sign-offs on the selection of each biannual class. It also spearheads initiatives at other times intended to preserve and foster the firm's partnership culture.

In June, Solomon pushed to add eight women to the partnership committee, bringing the total number to 12, or about 40%, according to two people with knowledge of the appointments. Among the additions were Patel; Liz Martin, the global head of electronic trading; Amanda Hindlian, the chief operating officer for the investment research department; and Christina Minnis, the global head of acquisition finance. Cohen was already on it.

Both the management-committee considerations and the partnership actions show Solomon delivering on what has been a multiyear focus on improving diversity within the firm's most senior ranks. The company has committed to having a 2021 analyst class evenly split between men and women.

It's also a recognition of what works: Solomon's diversity push impressed the board and is said to be one of several reasons it chose him over Harvey Schwartz.

READ MORE: Goldman Sachs just named its next CEO — here are the execs who will be in and out, according to a dozen insiders.

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs just named its next CEO — here are the execs who will be in and out, according to a dozen insiders

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs' results just confirmed the biggest challenge facing its new CEO

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

Bitcoin Will Prove It Never Had Any Substance, Claims Billionaire Skeptic Howard Marks

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Billionaire Howard Marks, the co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, said bitcoin will eventually fizzle out and prove once and for all that it never had any substance. Marks, whose net worth tops $1.9 billion, made the scathing remarks at the 2018 Delivering Alpha conference in New York on July 18. The annual hedge fund summit is

The post Bitcoin Will Prove It Never Had Any Substance, Claims Billionaire Skeptic Howard Marks appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Price Has Finally Bottomed: Digital Currency Group Founder Barry Silbert

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Seven months into a severe cryptocurrency market downturn, the bears have finally run out of steam, leaving the bitcoin price primed for a breakout. That’s according to Barry Silbert, founder of the Digital Currency Group (DCG), perhaps the cryptocurrency industry’s most prolific investment fund. Speaking with CNBC on Tuesday, Silbert said that the recent surge

The post Bitcoin Price Has Finally Bottomed: Digital Currency Group Founder Barry Silbert appeared first on CCN

Some of bitcoin's biggest traders are teaming up to lure Wall Street money to crypto

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

trading desk

  • TrueDigital has teamed up with some of the largest crypto firms to launched two crypto price indices for bitcoin and ether, the company announced Thursday. 
  • Sunil Hirani said it could lure in big institutional money to crypto. 

A group of bitcoin's biggest traders have teamed up with a small crypto firm to build out two new pricing indices for bitcoin and ether. 

TrueDigital, the digital currency trading firm led by Wall Street vet Sunil Hirani, the founder of interest rate swaps exchange trueEx, announced the two new reference rates on Thursday. 

Those rates, which can serve as a basis for derivative products such as futures or an exchange-traded fund, take in data from market making firms. 

Some of the firms that partnered with trueDigital on the project include Goldman Sachs-backed Circle and a number of Chicago proprietary trading shops, including DV Trading and Hehmeyer Trading. 

Elsewhere on Wall Street, CME Group, the giant exchange group behind one of the US markets for bitcoin futures, has its own reference rate for bitcoin and ether. The former serves as the basis of its bitcoin futures product. Hirani said he would be open to having established bitcoin futures exchanges using trueDigital's rates. 

Proponents of trueDigital's model say it is superior because data sourced from OTC firms can be better trusted than the data coming from crypto exchanges, which are known for their immature market structure and being hacked. 

"If you grab the data off an API from a crypto exchange you don't know where the data from," Hirani said in a phone interview. 

"99% of institutions that haven't got involved will have more confidence in the market with a product like this," he added. 

To be sure, many of the proponents are market making firms themselves. 

Michael Moro, the head of Genesis Global Trading, a market making firm based in New York that's providing data for trueDigital's reference rates, said that the price data from an OTC desk might also be more relevant to Wall Street institutions since that's where most large firms are trading in bitcoin markets.

"While the exchanges dominate volume, the truly institutional guys are trading OTC, and it might be a truer indication of where those institutional trades will get done," he said in an interview with Business Insider. 

To be sure, in an exchange market, you are getting far more data points, Moro said. 

"Still, the OTC market is going to give you a much better sense of the price on multi-million dollar trades," he said. "What trueDigital is trying to do is address the more institutional crowd."

Not every market observer is onboard with the idea. Market structure specialist David Weisberger said there were some potential flaws in the product's design. 

"Speaking as a former market maker, I can state that market makers will provide price quotes that are biased based on their own book, which can often be in conflict with either investors or potential investors," Weisberger said. 

TrueDigital told Business Insider the indices' contributors have given the firm the ability to test whether they are consistent with the markets they are making with their counterparties.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An early investor in Uber, Airbnb, and bitcoin explains why it's actually a good sign that no one is spending their crypto

SBI opens its crypto exchange to the public

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

This story was delivered to Business Insider Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings has fully launched its long-awaited cryptocurrency trading platform. The platform, dubbed VCTRADE, was initially made available to select users last month, and will now be open to all users aged 20 to 70 in Japan.

Sources of Traffic on Global Cryptocurrency Markets, by Country

VCTRADE began with support for XRP, and has since added Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. The public launch comes almost two years after SBI first announced its intention to build a cryptocurrency exchange.

Although SBI obtained a license from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) in September 2017, it postponed the launch of the exchange earlier this year to beef up its security measures in the wake of the Coincheck hack. Coincheck suffered the largest crypto hack in history in early 2018, when over $500 million in customer holdings were stolen from the exchange.

That SBI decided to take the time to shore up its defenses bodes well for its platform, as it will not only help prevent against hacks, but also likely reassure consumers. For now, the platform is only available to retail investors. Moreover, this is the first cryptocurrency exchange to be launched by a traditional financial institution (FI), which will also likely increase investor trust.

As more FIs begin to dip their toes in the crypto trading pond — Goldman Sachs and Fidelity are reportedly among those eyeing the space — it will likely serve as a big vote of confidence for the market as a whole. That will likely help push cryptocurrencies further into the mainstream, ultimately transforming the industry into a more legitimate and accepted financial services sector.

However, effectively managing risk will be crucial for these players, given the volatility associated with the crypto market and potential for damaging hacks. Those looking to launch their own operations would do well to follow SBI’s lead, and put sufficient effort into security measures before any wide deployment.

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SBI opens its crypto exchange to the public

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

This story was delivered to Business Insider Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings has fully launched its long-awaited cryptocurrency trading platform. The platform, dubbed VCTRADE, was initially made available to select users last month, and will now be open to all users aged 20 to 70 in Japan.

Sources of Traffic on Global Cryptocurrency Markets, by Country

VCTRADE began with support for XRP, and has since added Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. The public launch comes almost two years after SBI first announced its intention to build a cryptocurrency exchange.

Although SBI obtained a license from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) in September 2017, it postponed the launch of the exchange earlier this year to beef up its security measures in the wake of the Coincheck hack. Coincheck suffered the largest crypto hack in history in early 2018, when over $500 million in customer holdings were stolen from the exchange.

That SBI decided to take the time to shore up its defenses bodes well for its platform, as it will not only help prevent against hacks, but also likely reassure consumers. For now, the platform is only available to retail investors. Moreover, this is the first cryptocurrency exchange to be launched by a traditional financial institution (FI), which will also likely increase investor trust.

As more FIs begin to dip their toes in the crypto trading pond — Goldman Sachs and Fidelity are reportedly among those eyeing the space — it will likely serve as a big vote of confidence for the market as a whole. That will likely help push cryptocurrencies further into the mainstream, ultimately transforming the industry into a more legitimate and accepted financial services sector.

However, effectively managing risk will be crucial for these players, given the volatility associated with the crypto market and potential for damaging hacks. Those looking to launch their own operations would do well to follow SBI’s lead, and put sufficient effort into security measures before any wide deployment.

Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

Content like this delivered straight to your inbox daily
Access to 250+ expertly researched reports plus all future reports
Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
And more!
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Join the conversation about this story »

Bitcoin Price Prepares to Test $8K After Bull Breather

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

Bitcoin's price pullback is seen yielding a more sustainable rally to $8,000, according to technical studies.

Crypto Market Makes Minor Retreat Post-Rally, Ether and Bitcoin Cash Down 5%

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

After adding more than $20 billion within a 30 minute period, the crypto market has declined in valuation, led by the 5 percent drop of ether and Bitcoin Cash. Over the past 24 hours, the price of Bitcoin Cash, ether, Ripple, and EOS dropped by 4 to 6 percent, while bitcoin remained stable in the

The post Crypto Market Makes Minor Retreat Post-Rally, Ether and Bitcoin Cash Down 5% appeared first on CCN

Crypto Market Makes Minor Retreat Post-Rally, Ether and Bitcoin Cash Down 5%

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

After adding more than $20 billion within a 30 minute period, the crypto market has declined in valuation, led by the 5 percent drop of ether and Bitcoin Cash. Over the past 24 hours, the price of Bitcoin Cash, ether, Ripple, and EOS dropped by 4 to 6 percent, while bitcoin remained stable in the

The post Crypto Market Makes Minor Retreat Post-Rally, Ether and Bitcoin Cash Down 5% appeared first on CCN

Russia is dumping US debt and buying gold instead

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

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

  • Russian ownership of US Treasury bonds has dropped from $96.1 billion in March to an 11-year low of $14.9 billion, latest figures show.
  • The US Treasury released a list of the top 33 national investors in its bonds on Tuesday. Russia, once in the top 10, was absent.
  • Elvira Nabiullina, head of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), said cutting the stake is due to an assessment of financial, economic, and geopolitical risks.
  • Russia has been buying gold as it sells off US bonds, recently overtaking China as the world's biggest holder of gold, with $80.5 billion-worth.


The Russian Federation has sharply reduced its holdings of United States Treasury bonds with Russian ownership recently moving to an 11-year low, RT and Wolf Street reported.

Russia's ownership of US bonds declined from $96.1 billion in March to $48.7 billion in April and now stands at just $14.9 billion, according to the latest available data.

The US Treasury on Tuesday released a list of the top 33 investors in US debt. Russia was in the top ten in 2010 with ownership of $176.3 billion, but it now ranks below Chile in terms of US Treasury holdings.

The Russian sell-off began in 2011 and has intensified as the US has raised sanctions against the country.

Elvira Nabiullina, head of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), said the reduction is due to an assessment of financial, economic, and geopolitical risks, RT reported.

The Russian Federation has been buying large amounts of gold as it continues to sell US Treasury bonds, recently overtaking China as the world's biggest holder with $80.5 billion-worth, according to the CBR.

China holds at $1183 billion of US debt, the most of any foreign country.

Turkey has also nearly halved it’s US debt holdings from $62 billion in 2017 to $32.6 billion in May. Germany’s position stands at $78.3 billion.

The US currency has come under increasing pressure in 2018 as US debt mounts.

SEE ALSO: The most costly mistakes investors of every size make, according to Bank of America’s $2 trillion wealth-management chief

DON'T MISS: The pound will relive the record-breaking horrors of Brexit night if Britain leaves the EU without a deal

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Uber, Airbnb, and bitcoin explains why it's actually a good sign that no one is spending their crypto

Founder of $150 Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Offers Compensation to Victims

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The mastermind behind the infamous bitcoin ponzi GainBitcoin has offered to compensate thousands of victims who incurred losses during the scheme which raked in an initial 1,000 crores in cryptocurrency (approx. $150 million). Now under arrest, Amit Bhardwaj has been found out as the kingpin behind India’s biggest cryptocurrency scam. The founder of now-defunct bitcoin

The post Founder of $150 Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Offers Compensation to Victims appeared first on CCN

Startups are rushing to try and digitise the mortgage market — now £1.6 billion UK comparison giant Moneysupermarket is getting in on the action

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

house for sale by owner

  • Moneysupermarket is launching a new 50-50 joint venture, Podium, that aims to digitise the mortgage application process.
  • It comes amid a wave of investment into startups looking to digitise mortgages in Britain.
  • Moneysupermarket's MD of Money said: "Why we think we can succeed is we have scale and search traffic."


LONDON — UK financial comparison website Moneysupermarket is launching a new joint venture aimed at digitising the mortgage market, which is still a largely phone and paper-based market in Britain.

Moneysupermarket, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange's FTSE 250 index and has a market cap of £1.6 billion, announced on Thursday that it is setting up a 50-50 joint venture with two entrepreneurs who built key comparison engines for credit cards and loans that are used by Moneysupermarket.

"The reality is the way that people take out mortgages is still unchanged from the mid-80s," Andy Hancock, MD for money and publishing at Moneysupermarket, told Business Insider. "It's still quite an analogue market. It's probably one of the last areas of the market to be digitised."

Moneysupermarket already attracts 16 million visitors a year to its website for information on mortgages, around 25% of the total UK search traffic on the topic. But the majority of these visitors then turn to mortgage brokers who work over the phone. Customers are also required to provide paper documentation to support their applications.

Podium, as the joint venture will be known, intends to digitise the entire process. If everything goes to plan, customers will be able to not only compare mortgages based on eligibility but also be able to apply for them through Moneysupermarket's website. Moneysupermarket earns a fee for every product sold through its site as long as the customer does not cancel or switch, which the company says aligns its interests with customers.

Hancock would not disclose how much Moneysupermarket is investing in Podium, nor would he disclose a timeline for when we can expect to see the product. He said: "This is obviously longer term, it's a complex process. But the current market is pretty broken and we think we're in a pretty good position to do this."

Moneysupermarket's efforts come amid a wave of investment into startups looking to digitise part or all of the UK mortgage market. Other notable businesses in the space include Habito, Goldman Sachs-backed Trussle, and Dynamo.

"It really is the final area no one has been able to digitise," Hancock said. "This is one of the most complex and one of the most significant financial transactions we make in our lives. A number of fintechs, including obviously ourselves, have identified this as a key opportunity but the reason why we think we can succeed is we have scale and search traffic."

He added: "The market is definitely moving this way. And to be honest the fintechs coming into the market are helping us."

Podium will be run by Matt Denman and Mark Hawkins, the other partners in the venture. Denman and Hawkins previously helped to build HD Decisions, a startup that makes financial comparison tools. Moneysupermarket previously owned a stake but the company was sold to Experian in 2014.

Hancock said Podium is part of Moneysupermarket's long-term growth plan. He said: "This we see as a key element of growth in the future."

Moneysupermarket announced the venture alongside its first half results on Thursday. Group revenue rose 5% to £173.7 million and post-tax profit rose 5% to £42.5 million.

SEE ALSO: The UK's biggest estate agent is working with Google's former UK MD to build an online mortgage broker

DON'T MISS: Over £45 million has gone into 'PropTech' in the last week alone as Habito and Yopa raise cash

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs has invested in a UK startup that tells you when to switch mortgages

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

Billionaire Marc Lasry Sees Bitcoin's Price Reaching $40,000

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

Billionaire investor and fund manager Marc Lasry said the price of bitcoin has the potential to reach $40,000.

Flooding in Sichuan Province Reveals Hidden World of China’s Small-Time Bitcoin Miners

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A special report on the recent floods across China’s Sichuan province has uncovered an extraordinary story of resilience, discomfort, tragedy, and rapidly changing economic circumstances experienced by the the people who make up the world’s largest concentration of small-time bitcoin miners. Put together by Chinese news platform Jiemian, the report follows the story of Li

The post Flooding in Sichuan Province Reveals Hidden World of China’s Small-Time Bitcoin Miners appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin’s Killer App is Ransomware, Not Payments: Stripe COO

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Stripe, a digital payments provider, took a pioneering role with bitcoin in 2015 when it introduced a tool that allowed merchants to accept bitcoin. This past April, the company discontinued the service. The company’s COO, Claire Hughes Johnson, told Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference Tuesday that the reason behind the firm’s abandonment of BTC is that

The post Bitcoin’s Killer App is Ransomware, Not Payments: Stripe COO appeared first on CCN

CheapAir Says Goodbye to Coinbase, Hello to BTCPayServer

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

cheapair

Online travel agency CheapAir.com has announced it is no longer working with Coinbase to process its customers’ bitcoin payments. In Coinbase's stead, the company has turned to BTCPayServer, an open-source bitcoin payment processor.

CheapAir had been partnered with Coinbase since early 2013, but this April, the digital currency exchange explained that it was shutting down its merchant platform, leaving CheapAir in the dark and struggling to find a steady replacement.

The company wrote in a blog post that its affiliation with BTCPayServer largely stems from customer feedback that came during a time of great need. “We were in unfamiliar territory to suddenly be scrambling for an alternative,” writes CEO Jeff Klee. “I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the overwhelming amount of thoughtful feedback we received. We went into the process thinking we were on a desperate quest to find a new processor, but thanks to many of you, we came out of it realizing we don’t need a processor at all.”

The post goes on to say that the company has been working with BTCPayServer for about the past month following several customers’ suggestions. Klee states he’s thrilled with what BTCPay can do, and that he finds it “liberating” to not have to rely on third parties anymore, as CheapAir.com now has more control over the transaction process, leading to faster and more efficient payments.

“We can also do a much better job of gracefully handling the occasional anomalies that are still inherent in crypto commerce,” the post claims.

CheapAir.com isn’t the only airline company accepting cryptocurrency. Star Jets International does, as well, which began accepting virtual money payments late last year. CheapAir states that despite the problems it’s had with Coinbase, it will continue to accept digital currency payments as they are likely the future of finance.

“We do think that most industries will have to come along and start expanding acceptable payments beyond fiat currencies,” explains Klee in a recent interview. “It’s not surprising that smaller, more nimble companies like ours can sometimes get out in front of legacy companies — the complicated infrastructure challenges make it tough to make this kind of leap early.”

Klee also hinted that while the company hasn’t made a firm decision just yet, they would be open to Lightning Network payments if customers showed interest.

“We certainly wouldn’t rule it out [Lightning Network] in the future, especially if our customers tell us it’s something they would like to see us accept,” he mentions.

At the time of writing, representatives of CheapAir had not responded to Bitcoin Magazine’s request for comment.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Trading Volume Is Up 100% From Its Recent Low

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

Bulls are back with a vengeance as shown by a 100 percent increase in trading volume from just four days ago.

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