Britain’s Largest Broker Offers Exchange-Traded Bitcoin Investments

Britain’s leading brokerage firm, Hargreaves Lansdown, now offers bitcoin exchange-traded products to its 876,000 customers. These investments are available for regular brokerage accounts as well as self-invested personal pension accounts.

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Largest British Broker

Britain's Largest Broker Offers Exchange-Traded Bitcoin InvestmentsHargreaves Lansdown plc is a financial service company based in Bristol, a city in South West England. The company “is the UK’s number 1 ‘investment supermarket’ for private investors,” according to its website. With 876,000 clients and more than £70 billion traded, the company currently offers “more than 2,500 funds, UK, US, Canadian and European shares, ETFs, investment trusts, bonds and gilts.”

Different types of accounts are available through its investment platform, also known as the Vantage Service. They include regular brokerage accounts, tax-efficient Individual Savings Accounts (ISA) and Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) accounts.

Bitcoin Investments Available

Britain's Largest Broker Offers Exchange-Traded Bitcoin InvestmentsOn Thursday, June 1, two bitcoin investments were added to Hargreaves Lansdown’s platform; Bitcoin Tracker One and Bitcoin Tracker Eur. Listed on Nasdaq Nordic in Stockholm, the former is denominated in Swedish krona (SEK) and the latter in the euro (EUR). Both are issued and managed by Stockholm-based XBT Provider AB, with Global Advisors (Jersey) Limited as the guarantor.

Both instruments are bitcoin Exchange-Traded Notes (ETNs) which are debt securities backed by the credit of the issuer. They track the price performance of bitcoin, giving investors exposure to the digital currency. However, investors do not own the bitcoin itself. Danny Cox, Head of Communications at Hargreaves Lansdown, told the Telegraph that “We have seen a handful of clients asking for the ETN.”

XBT Provider describes its products:

The certificates will provide an exposure to the performance of the digital currency bitcoin as priced in USD on the Primary Marketplaces. Holders of certificates will have exposure to both the performance of bitcoin and the fluctuations in the relevant foreign exchange rate.

The primary marketplaces listed in the ETNs’ prospectus are Okcoin, Kraken, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Itbit, Gemini, Gdax, and Gatecoin. The foreign exchange rate risk for Bitcoin Tracker One is USD/SEK whereas it is USD/EUR for Bitcoin Tracker Eur.

While the certificates are denominated in SEK and EUR, they track the price of bitcoin in USD. “As the BTC/USD market is the most liquid bitcoin market widely available for trading, we regard it as the most suitable underlying asset in a bitcoin product,” the company explained.

Both ETNs are currently available for Hargreaves Lansdown investors with regular brokerage accounts or SIPP accounts, but not tax-advantaged ISA accounts. The brokerage firm charges £11.95 per trade to start investing in these instruments but the cost decreases with the number of trades.

Bitcoin Investment Trust No Longer Available Online

Britain's Largest Broker Offers Exchange-Traded Bitcoin InvestmentsBarry Silbert’s Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) also used to be available for online trading on the Hargreaves Lansdown platform for regular brokerage accounts, but not SIPP or ISA accounts.

However, the brokerage firm has posted a notice on its website which reads: “Bitcoin Investment Trust NPV cannot currently be traded online. For further information about trading this security, or to obtain a current price, please telephone our dealers.” This restriction is likely due to the trust having applied to list and trade on the NYSE Arca exchange. Its application is now pending approval by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF).

What do you think about Hargreaves Lansdown offering bitcoin ETNs to its customers? Let us know in the comments section below.


Russian Bankers Push to Legalize Cryptocurrency

Russian bankers released a statement May 26, saying that cryptocurrency should be legalized for circulation. This message comes from German Gref, who is head of the Russian Sberbank. Gref said there needs to be an honest and intelligible conversation about cryptocurrencies, because attempts to ban it have only caused problems in the past. 

 

A Russian news article Russian Bankers Push to Legalize Cryptocurrencymentioned Greff’s commentary: “Gref stressed that they now engage in a constructive dialogue about cryptocurrency, the Central Bank are trying to understand – what is it and what to do next. ‘Attempts to introduce bans will only lead to the loss of existing competitors,’ said the head of the financial institution.”

Cryptocurrency May Become “Digital Product” in Russia

In another article by the same Russian news outlet, the Russian government’s Deputy Chairman Regulator of the Central Bank, Olga Skorobogatova, said government is preparing amendments regarding cryptocurrencies and the tax code. Skorobogatova went on to admit that government cannot control how many cryptocurrencies can be created. The Russian news page said,

Skorobogatov noted that virtual assets continue to be emitted, no gold reserves, they are not provided, there is no control over their number.

The Russian news outlet went on to say that government or the “financial market” does not necessarily see cryptocurrency as a threat, because government considers it a “digital product.” This is likely why government is seeking to create amendments for it in their tax code.

The article said, “Therefore, financial market electronic money does not consider it a threat. But, if you do not begin to deal with this issue, you can skip a significant risk increase.”

Russian Officials Want to Understand and Accept Cryptocurrency

Between bankers and government Russian Bankers Push to Legalize Cryptocurrencyofficials changing their perspective, it appears there could be a movement toward more political acceptance of cryptocurrency in Russia. This information comes as bitcoin’s popularity has surged over recent weeks and Japan has classified bitcoin as a payment method along others.

It looks like some governments and bankers are trying to understand cryptocurrency rather than react against it.

Do you think that Russia will accept and legalize cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

Japanese ATM Manufacturer Oki Gets into Bitcoin ATM Business

As the number of merchants accepting bitcoin in Japan grows, companies are incorporating the digital currency into their business models in different ways. Japan’s leading printer, info-telecom and ATM manufacturer, Oki Electric Industry Co Ltd, has entered into the Bitcoin ATM business. Their first line of Bitcoin ATMs is launching this month.

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Leading ATM Manufacturer

Leading Japanese ATM Manufacturer Oki Gets into Bitcoin ATM BusinessFounded in 1881, the Tokyo-based Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd (Oki) manufactures and sells products, technologies, software and solutions for telecommunications systems and information systems. Among other offerings, Oki supplies ATMs, cash-handling equipment, bank branch terminals for financial institutions, automated check-in machines as well as ticket reservation and cash-handling equipment for the retail and service industries.

The company claims to be the first to develop the world’s first cash recycling ATM in 1982. These ATMs recycle banknotes by taking deposits from customers and dispensing them to other customers who withdraw cash at a later time. They are expensive but are more efficient and save on the cost of labor.

According to London-based Retail Banking Research, there were 3.3 million active ATMs in 2016, about 30% of which were cash recycling machines. Oki’s corporate brochure says:

Oki is a leader in ATMs, with a leading share in the domestic market for financial institutions and the retail/service industries. In overseas markets, we actively sell “ATM-Recycler G7”, a cash recycling ATM that can handle banknotes in multiple currencies.

The Recycler G7 (RG7) is the company’s latest line of legacy ATMs, which is the seventh generation of its cash recycling machines.

Oki Launching Bitcoin ATMs

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the company’s next line of ATMs will be launching this month, and they will be Bitcoin ATMs (BTMs). The Recycler G8 (RG8) will allow customers to withdraw local currency from their bitcoin wallets as well as charge expenses to them. The publication describes:

It [the BTM] lets users link their online bitcoin wallets to the machine in order to withdraw funds based on the virtual currency’s market price, as well as deposit physical cash into their digital stashes.

Leading Japanese ATM Manufacturer Oki Gets into Bitcoin ATM BusinessThere will be other functionality as well, such as settling payment on invoices sent via smartphone. The features an ATM will have depend on the country where it will be located and what services local banks offer.

Initially, Oki aims to launch the new machines in China and other emerging nations. “Oki has no plans to deploy the ATM back in Japan yet, given the relatively quiet demand for bitcoin by financial institutions here,” Nikkei Asian Review wrote.

While the company has not announced where these Bitcoin ATMs will be installed, the RG7 units are installed in high foot-traffic areas such as international airports in Narita and Haneda, and other commercial facilities in Japan. In June last year, Oki installed 600 RG7 units in the State Bank of India, which is the largest bank in the country.

What do you think of Oki entering into the Bitcoin ATM business? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sidechain Juggernaut RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet After $3.5M in New Funding

he highly anticipated project by RSK Labs officially moves into open beta status today with the launch of their public testnet named Ginger. The company is inviting everyone to try out their smart contracts using Bitcoin with their ethereum-like sidechain. They have also secured new funding that will allow them to take the project to full production, planned for later this year.

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Ginger Testnet Launched

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingRSK Labs, the company behind Rootstock, announced at Consensus 2017 on Monday the global release of their open source testnet, Ginger. Developers worldwide can now deploy an RSK node, grab some testnet coins, and try out ethereum-style smart contracts on RSK’s sidechain to the Bitcoin network.

Ginger’s source code is now available on Github. A network stats page, an RSK block explorer, and a testnet RSK coin faucet are also available to the public.

The RSK platform is a layer on top of Bitcoin, which aims to better transfer its value. Ginger “adds more functionalities to the Bitcoin network such as smart contracts, greater scalability and a new revenue stream for miners,” RSK Labs described.

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingUsers of the network will be able to move the value of their bitcoins back and forth onto the RSK sidechain. RSK’s tokens have no value of their own, and primarily exist to speedily shuttle bitcoin around, giving it greater functionality with RSK’s varied smart contracts. Ginger allows a glimpse of this technology with some of the first smart contracts used on the system, including those that allow for merged mining, private networks, scaling benefits, and confidential transactions.

The RSK team says that over time, they will keep adding new features to Ginger. “These improvements will focus on the company’s vision of bringing the unbanked to the financial system, changing government through liquid democracies and building the Internet of Things,” they conveyed.

Second Announcement: New Funding

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingAlong with Ginger’s release, RSK Labs also announced on Monday that it has raised $3.5 million pre-Series A funding from various investors, including Jaxx CEO Anthony Di Iorio, Bitfury and Bitmain.

This amount is on top of the $1 million raised last March by the company from Barry Silbert’s DCG, Coinsilium, and Bitmain.

RSK Labs plans to use their latest funds for R&D, strengthening network security, and deploying a “mainnet in a few months,” which would end the Ginger trial and launch RSK for real usage this year.

Scaling Benefits

RSK Labs plans to add three-tiered networks on top of Bitcoin to scale transactions to new levels. With Ginger, smart contract users can already see scaling benefits up to 20,000 transactions per second using Lumino, the company claimed.

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New Funding

RSK’s Gabriel Kurman (Photo\ Micheal Hudson)

Developers should be able to see the full speed improvements now, RSK Labs explained, adding that:

With Ginger, users will be able to run their smart contracts in a platform that can scale up to 2,000 tx/sec on chain and 20,000 tx/sec off chain, providing the scalability needed for global financial solutions.

Merge-Mine Bitcoin with RSK

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingRSK Chief Scientist Sergio Demian Lerner gave a presentation on Monday at Consensus 2017. He said miners will be attracted to RSK because it is possible to mine their blockchain and Bitcoin, as well as other coins, all “at the same time and on the same hardware, and with the same power consumption.” The developer revealed that his team has “worked for over a year with mining pools” to develop “open-source plugins for merged mining that are highly efficient.”

This new form of merged mining is a cornerstone feature to RSK that incentivizes the use of their network and also of Bitcoin itself. Similarly, RSK’s smart contracts will reward people who run RSK nodes “from transaction fees,” Lerner described, and then announced that these contracts can be extended to “reward people running Bitcoin full nodes too.”

What do you think of RSK Labs’ Ginger Testnet? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ledger Holdings Generates $11.4 Million to Open U.S. Bitcoin Options Exchange

LedgerX, parent company of Ledger Holdings, generated $11.4 million in a financing campaign to open a regulated options exchange for bitcoin and other digital currencies in the U.S. The venture is led by Miami International Holdings Inc. and Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments. 

shutterstock_136945139-640x410Ledger Holdings Generates $11.4 Million to Open U.S. Bitcoin Options Exchange

The company is in the process of being granted approval by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). When approval is granted, companies can leverage LedgerX’s platform to acquire bitcoin using exchange-traded and other centrally regulated distributed contracts.

“We believe a regulated bitcoin market could substantially expand the bitcoin economy. In this regard, a vibrant options market, which LedgerX plans to build, is a critical foundation to the entire ecosystem,” said James Wo, President of Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments.

The president of LedgerX, Paul Chou, also commented on investments inside the bitcoin space:

In the short term, these investments will further our application to become a regulated exchange and clearing house for bitcoin options. In the long term, these strategic investors will help us enter additional marketplaces and territories.

Bitcoin Ecosystem and Company Asset Background

This new investment opportunity comes as bitcoin’s price hits $2275 on coinmarketcap.com. It appears the rising price and Japan’s recent acceptance of bitcoin has created a massive upward trend in the global ecosystem. Now, investment firms and hedge funds have taken an even more keen interest in developing strategies and expanding their regulated portfolios to include more bitcoin options.

The primary company involved Ledger Holdings Generates $11.4 Million to Open U.S. Bitcoin Options Exchangein the recent investment options, Miami International Holdings, Inc., is the parent company of Miami International Securities Exchange, LLC (MIAX Options) and MIAX PEARL, LLC.

The press release by LedgerX says that MIAX already offers trade options in 2,600 different classes. This implies bitcoin and other digital currencies will expand the company’s global monetary influence. This will put bitcoin into the U.S. securities and exchange limelight as the cryptocurrency tries to edge toward a price point of $3,000.

Do you see the creation of this centralized venture exchange for bitcoin as a net positive? Let us know in the comments below. 

Shapeshift Launches Decentralized Portfolio Platform Prism

Today at the Consensus Conference in New York City the Shapeshift founder and CEO Erik Voorhees has announced the launch of Prism, a “trustless asset portfolio platform”. The Swiss blockchain technology company says investors of all types looking to build a portfolio can do so using the decentralized digital asset holding application.

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Shapeshift Launches Prism – the Decentralized Digital Asset Portfolio Without Third Party Risk

Shapeshift Launches Prism the Decentralized Portfolio PlatformLaunched today, the Prism platform provides users with the ability to secure a basket of cryptocurrencies without exposure to third party risk. The platform is built using Ethereum-based smart contracts that enable investors to construct a crypto-portfolio with a broad range of cryptocurrencies to choose from including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero, and Ripple.

Shapeshift says bitcoin and altcoins as an alternative investment have grown exponentially over the past two years, as the combined market cap has expanded over 200% in the past year to over $40 billion, explains the company. Prism will forward the cryptocurrency fever by offering the first live platform in a trustless environment dedicated to the users’ crypto-asset portfolio.

“Prism enables investors to gain secure, transparent exposure to digital assets in a way that has never before been possible. The days of leaving funds at an exchange ‘because it’s easier’ are over,” Erik Voorhees, CEO of ShapeShift detailed during the announcement.

Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart-contracts, demonstrates a new standard in financial security.         

A Diversified Crypto-Portfolio That Competes With Other Prism Investors

The company says that it has used its proven model from the Shapeshift design to build Prism. The new platform is a “diversified crypto-portfolio that was distilled down into a simple interface: buy, rebalance, and settle, all of which the user can execute with nothing more than their Ethereum wallet,” explains the Swiss startup.

Shapeshift Launches Prism the Decentralized Portfolio Platform

Moreover once a Prism portfolio has been created it is positioned on a leaderboard competing with other Prism users based on investment performance. Furthermore, users can learn from top traders and copy their portfolio choices as well by visiting the public Prism performance leaderboards.

Prism Aims to Open a Whole New World of Borderless Finance

After creating a name for a personal Prism portfolio, users choose from a wide range of digital assets and determine how to split their investments. The investor then provides an Ethereum address that enables them to fund and track their Prism assets. The address gives Prism users proprietary control over their funds and the ability to track the investment vehicle via the Ethereum network. Shapeshift says the following ether wallets have been tested and vetted for use on the Prism platform Exodus.ioJaxx.io and Myetherwallet.

If an investor wants to close out their Prism account, they are asked to send a zero ETH transaction to a provided Ethereum address that will signal the smart contract to close the portfolio. If the Prism’s components went up 20%, the investor will receive 20% more Ether back than they put in, minus displayed fees.

“Prism takes us one step closer to a world of truly borderless finance. We suspect it will kickstart a vast horizon of financial experimentation upon smart contracts,” concluded Voorhees.

What do you think about the Shapeshift’s new portfolio platform? Let us know in the comments below.

Bitcoin Pizza Day: Reliving the Memories and Forging New Ones

Today cryptocurrency enthusiasts around the world are celebrating the notorious “Bitcoin Pizza Day” where two Papa John’s pizzas were purchased for 10,000 BTC. Not only is the transaction deemed the first bitcoin exchange for real-world value, the trade is now appraised at US$20 million at today’s exchange rates.

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‘I Like Having Leftover Pizza to Nibble On Later’

Bitcoin Pizza Day: Reliving the Memories and Forging New Ones The Bitcoin network had been in operation for a little more than a year on May 22nd, 2010 when a developer named Laszlo Hanyecz purchased two pizzas using the forum Bitcointalk.org. The trade Hanyecz made that day is widely celebrated every year by bitcoiners as it is considered the first real-world transaction using bitcoin as a medium of exchange.

“I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe two large ones, so I have some leftover for the next day — I like having leftover pizza to nibble on later,” explained Hanyecz.

You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy!

It Took Two Days for Someone to Accept the 10,000 BTC for Pizza Offer

After Hanyecz had published his post, a few bitcoin enthusiasts talked about making the trade with him. A couple of people contemplated a few ways they could get the pizza to Hanyecz who was living in Florida at the time. A whole day passed, and Hanyecz writes “So nobody wants to buy me a pizza? — Is the bitcoin amount I’m offering too low?”

I just think it would be interesting if I could say that I paid for a pizza in bitcoins   

Another 24 hours later Hanyecz announces that a successful transaction was made thanks to a user named “Jercos.” “I just want to report that I successfully traded 10,000 bitcoins for pizza,” the developer tells people on the thread. A few commenters thought it was great the exchange happened and congratulated Hanyecz that day. The 73-page thread discussion has been kept alive for years, with people commenting on how expensive the pizzas became as time had passed.

‘It Wasn’t Like Bitcoins Had Value Back Then’

Bitcoin Pizza Day: Reliving the Memories and Forging New Ones Years later the transaction is considered one of the greatest moments in Bitcoin history and the two pizzas purchased for $25 USD is now worth over $20 million. Hanyecz did an interview with the New York Times a few years later reminiscing about the infamous day.

“It wasn’t like Bitcoins had any value back then, so the idea of trading them for a pizza was incredibly cool,” Hanyecz told the publication.

Today as bitcoiners celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day they’ll always wonder how those pizza’s tasted and whether or not Hanyecz really doesn’t regret eating the most expensive pizzas sold on the planet. As long as the pizza didn’t have weird toppings like fish, Hanyecz was pleased with his decision to offer 10,000 BTC for two pies.

“I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.. just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that. I also like regular cheese pizzas which may be cheaper to prepare or otherwise acquire,” Hanyecz said at the time.

Celebrating This Year’s Festivities

There will be a lot of people enjoying Bitcoin Pizza Day in 2017 as the decentralized currency is more popular than ever before. There are businesses such as the Bitcoin Store featuring specialty pizza-themed goods, and some merchants are offering discounts like the artist Satoshi Gallery.

Additionally, the German-based bitcoin banking startup Bitwala recently started a campaign so the cryptocurrency community can donate pizza slices using bitcoin to refugee kids in Berlin. All the proceeds will go to Champions Ohne Grenzen, a Berlin-based NGO that works with children. Every week they hold football training sessions with qualified coaches to empower kids and help them overcome trauma. People from all around the world sent in their donations and the money received will help provide more than 100 slices to the refugee children.

“The fact that someone halfway around the world can have pizza delivered to war fleeing refugees without having to enter credit card info is a great and humane way to explain the power of bitcoin,” explained Bitwala’s CEO Jörg von Minckwitz.

What do you think about the two pizzas sold for 10,000 BTC? Would you have regretted this decision now? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Bitcoin’s Meteoric Price Rise to the Moon Going toward $3000

On May 20, 2017, the price of bitcoin reached the US$2000 line at the bitcoin exchange Bitstamp. The decentralized currency’s meteoric rise in value has captured a phenomenal $32 billion dollar market capitalization after eight tremendous years of growth.

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Bitcoin Has Broken So Many Records in 2017 It’s Hard to Keep Track

2017 has been an unbelievable year for cryptocurrency enthusiasts as they’ve watched bitcoin cross milestone after milestone. The digital asset is becoming widely known as a strong hedge against the turbulent global economy that continues to sink further every day. Many citizens from all around the world are clearly choosing bitcoin to hedge their wealth from deteriorating and to move their money however they see fit. This can be seen in countries like China, Japan, India, Venezuela, Russia, and more.

Bitcoin Meteoric Price Rise to the Moon Breaks Past $2K
Bitcoin breaks $2000 on May 20, 2017.

Some of the momentous feats Bitcoin has reached this year include global trade volume topping over $1 billion USD worth of trades daily. Bitcoin’s hashrate has reached a whopping 4.2 exahash per second encouraged by the mining revenue that has also crossed an all-time high. The decentralized currency’s daily transaction rate is higher than ever before with over 326,000 transactions per day. Bitcoin has crushed nearly all of its records over the past four months and doesn’t seem to be slowing up.

Mainstream Media Loves Bitcoin

Mainstream media has been awfully kind to bitcoin as friendly headlines from publications like the New York Times, Bloomberg, Fortune, Time Magazine, and many others have shown bitcoin in a positive light. The articles are very different from the editorials in the past calling bitcoin doomed, dead, worthless, tulip mania, and yes even beanie babies. Now mainstream media is calling bitcoin worthy of an investor’s portfolio, a “safe haven,” “store of value,” “digital gold,” and many other kind words.

Eight Years of Great Memories Without Asking Permission

The $2000 price is just shy of two days before the infamous pizza day where a pie from Papa Johns was sold for 10,000 bitcoins ($20M USD). Furthermore many bitcoiners can still remember the days when bitcoin reached parity with the U.S. dollar, silver, and this year surpassing 1oz of solid gold. Bitcoin has been in the movies, in songs, books, television shows, and even on the Simpsons.

Bitcoin Meteoric Price Rise to the Moon Breaks Past $2K
Think bigger. $2000 bitcoin is not Moon.

Overall bitcoin has had a very memorable life over the course of its short existence of only eight years. Many people, businesses, corporations, governments and think tanks mocked bitcoin and said it would never last, but now the digital currency is stronger than ever. Bitcoin has accomplished all of this without any rulers and has allowed people the ability to do what they want with their money without asking permission.

What do you think about bitcoin’s price reaching $2000? Let us know in the comments below.