Cryptonews Rewind 2019: Q3 - The Return of Bears and Growing Adoption
Here is what happened in the Cryptoworld in the third quarter of this year:
Total crypto market capitalization in Q3
- July was a very busy month. Telegram's token Gram jumped 201% even before public sale, and DOGE skyrocketed after the announcement that it'll be listed on Binance. In other coin news, Tron (TRX) was hit with fake news; and Opera’s crypto wallet for Android started supporting Bitcoin (BTC) and TRX.
Speaking of Tron, the anticipation and the guest list for the Sun-Buffett luncheon grew by day, but then it was pushed back, allegedly due to Sun’s kidney stones, after which the TRX prices dropped. This was followed by a lot of confusion and speculation when Sun posted, then deleted an apology.
- In the meantime, news about Libra and regulations in became practically inseparable, as governments started attacking it from all sides. Facebook was working hard to try to ease the concerns about Libra expressed by the Washington lawmakers. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decided to update its cryptocurrency guidelines following a request put forward by the parliamentarians. The G7 also discussed Libra and cryptos. Finally, there were not one, but two consecutive hearings to talk about the new coin.
- U.S. lawmakers were moving fast to stop major IT companies from issuing cryptocurrencies. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that brokers looking to offer cryptocurrency securities will have to comply with existing securities laws, including customer protection rules. The SEC, however, approved the first-ever digital token offering, to be held by blockchain start-up Blockstack. In the meantime, a Chinese court reportedly recognized Bitcoin as having legal value as property.
- In South Korea, we've seen companies investing in blockchain titles, while Samsung, LG and SK were set to begin their summer blockchain war for the Leader title. The local governments were setting new blockchain goals, while Samsung added six new dapps to its Galaxy S10 smartphone’s blockchain wallet with more to follow, might've talked with Kakao about a blockchain cooperation, and Kakao’s platform Klaytn sacrificed decentralization to be up to 15 times faster than Ethereum. Additionally, South Korean major mobile carriers joined with major companies and banks on a blockchain-powered mobile identification platform collaboration, and LG began offering blockchain-powered mobile phone insurance.
- Nearby, in Japan, the reports were out that there would likely be no obstacles for Libra as it’s not deemed a crypto. Also, a parliamentarian aimed to bring a cryptocurrency tax reform, and the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association lost its head, so to say, as the CEO stepped down.
- In Singapore, the authorities were building a global crypto and blockchain hub, while the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) proposed the exemption of some crypto transactions from goods and services tax. In other countries, Siemens was looking into ways to use blockchain for carsharing, and Pundi X partnered with Verifone to bring crypto to more retailers. India, however, was considering imprisonment for holding crypto. Meanwhile, John McAfee was detained by the authorities in the Dominican Republic, then released four days later safe and sound.
- A number of Russian companies were keen on launching tokens of their own and were waiting on Moscow to make its final decision. Cuba was also studying crypto’s ability to help its economy amid U.S.-led sanctions, but another regulatory battle was coming the Cryptoworld’s way as the UK financial watchdog said it wants to ban cryptocurrency derivatives to all retail consumers in the Kingdom. Also, Donald Trump joined ECB, IMF, China, Italy and others in unintentionally building a case for Bitcoin.
In the meantime, good news started coming in, as Bakkt started testing its bitcoin futures and Coinbase broadened its focus and targeted 1B people, the crypto derivatives market was heating up as Binance and BitMEX prepared to launch new products, and Catherine Coley, former Head of XRP Institutional Liquidity at Ripple, was appointed as CEO of Binance.US. Binance also launched margin trading on an upgraded version of its trading platform.
- A long-running battle between the New York Attorney General (AG) and Bitfinex took a fresh turn with the AG claiming that there have been irregularities with Bitfinex claims about whether – and how long – the platform and related companies have been dealing with New York-based customers. Furthermore, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) started investigating whether BitMEX broke rules by allowing Americans to trade on the platform. Furthermore, Abra announced restrictions due to regulatory uncertainty.
- Huobi announced its new stablecoin, while considering 'a more balanced shift' than Binance’s ‘radical’ BNB burn. And while the highly-anticipated Polkadot announced the “canary-net” that is its experimental version called Kusama, and Ycash, Zchash hard fork went live, Vitalik Buterin was criticized for his ‘Ethereum + Bitcoin Cash’ scalability solution, followed by some more criticism.
- We saw two more important firsts: a blockchain-powered shipment from South Korea to the Netherlands was successfully completed, and the first crypto hedge fund won the UK authorities’ approval. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs went ‘further than ever before’ into crypto as it sought to hire a “digital asset project manager” for its New York office. Newegg said it'll start accepting bitcoin in 73 additional of its country-specific stores, and Norwegian Air allowed its passengers to pay for tickets in crypto and to trade on the airline’s very own crypto exchange, while tour operators in China’s Yunnan Province would get blockchain-powered invoices for online and mobile payments.
- Bitcoin experienced the first interest cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve in its history, and people were not quite sure how to interpret the impact of this event. Nonetheless, after a senator said that U.S. can't ban Bitcoin, the crypto market went up. BTC dropped below USD 10,000 at the end of August, leaving analysts stumped.
- In the world of crypto-regulations: the UK got its final guidance on cryptoassets; Russian lawyers drew a pro-crypto tax plan; and China appeared to be rethinking its crypto ban, while also thinking about releasing its very own digital fiat. People discussed if Singapore's new tax regulations could give crypto exchanges and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) issuers a boost in the country's competition with Hong Kong, and while Ripple executives urged the U.S. Congress to recognize differences in cryptoassets, 27,000 Indian companies stood against the crypto ban proposed by the government. However, the Federal Reserve was reportedly “seriously considering” developing a new and faster payments system for domestic use. Furthermore, a congressional financial committee was set to debate a “tax fix” act on crypto tax in the U.S., while Indian authorities were grilling crypto holders with exhaustive questionnaires.
In Japan, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) looked set to beef up its policing of the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges.
- Meanwhile, a financial expert said that the evasion of economic sanctions in Iran and Russia via crypto is already happening. While Latin America has seen a lot of progress when it comes to crypto and blockchain, and BTC transactions in Venezuela were reportedly seamless, the former governor of the Central Bank of Brazil praised BTC, urging McDonalds and Starbucks to launch their own cryptos, though it was later reported that there might be a tax on cryptocurrencies in Brazil and that the Brazilian Central Bank changed its cryptocurrency classifications. Additionally, people in South Korea might be token-centivised to use city bikes.
- In their attempt to repay the lenders impacted by the market crash back in May, Poloniex said it would start crediting trading fees to lenders. In the meantime, Binance said it would pay 25 BTC for help to identify its blackmailer. Speaking of dirty players, the UN Security Council said North Korea’s crypto exchange raiders have amassed USD 2 billion. However, the country hit back at these claims, calling them “unfounded.”
- Major online trading platform, TD Ameritrade claimed it saw strong interest in their Bitcoin futures, while its partnering crypto asset exchange ErisX was on target with all their goals for 2019. Furthermore, bitFlyer Europe announced its new trading platform Buy/Sell, while Blockchain came out with its own crypto exchange the Pit, and eosfinex opened its doors for trading. Additionally, Kraken said it acquired Interchange, gaining access to over sixty institutions. Meanwhile, an American court ruled that Coinbase would be charged with negligence for allegedly botching the launch of BCH. Meanwhile, in South Korea, the local government stablecoins were booming.
- Following all that, as Binance CEO confirmed that its American branch would open within “a month or two,” it seemed that Binance users in the U.S. were left without this platform during the transition period. The exchange also planned to start an open blockchain project, Venus. While we're at Binance, the exchange also entered the crypto lending business, and said its futures is coming “very, very soon”.
- While South Korea's “big four” platforms seemed to be planning a slew of delistings, Coinbase UK decided to delist Zcash, despite its founders claims that its compliant, and we provided a possible reason behind this move. In an effort to focus on the decentralized finance (DeFi) community, Ethfinex became DeversiFi, an independent, hybrid decentralized exchange. And we had some unusual news with Colu DLT saying they want to buy back all circulating tokens and end their blockchain project.
- We learned that Litecoin has seen a massive rise since its first halving, and then it went through its second halving. Meanwhile, Zcoin rolled out its live zero-knowledge proof protocol, Sigma. We also learned what MoneyGram is using XRP for.
- We also saw a disagreement over two vital blockchain-related points, speed and capacity of existing blockchains, between two major figures in the Cryptoworld - CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), and co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin.
- Finally, one of the biggest airlines in Europe Norwegian pushed crypto adoption beyond its company, and a Russia’s major airline said that its blockchain-powered ticketing platform processed over USD 1M worth of sales in July alone. Samsung added support for BTC and another 32 coins to its crypto wallet. Mastercard posted three job ads for senior-level specialists, and Animoca Brands acquired Quidd.
- The third month of the third quarter started with Bitcoin rallying back above USD 10,000, pushing its market dominance at c. 70% and leaving more altcoins bleeding. This led to more analysts expressing their bullish views on Bitcoin, and even prominent venture capitalist Fred Wilson stated that he and his firm are "long [on] crypto." We finally saw Bakkt launch its long-awaited Bitcoin futures contracts.
- In the meantime, Binance announced the launch of USD-backed stablecoin BUSD while its U.S. traders were looking for alternative trading platforms ahead of the U.S. ban. Many people were left bemused by the news from Binance.US that the company would be following KYC (know-your-customer) protocol, and started to migrate to other exchanges. The branch soon opened for trading and said that there is still room for new exchanges in the U.S. September was also the month when Binance made its first strategic investment in China. Huobi introduced the Acute Angle blockchain smartphone, and while somebody moved USD 1 billion in BTC, Huobi's funds weren't a part of it.
There were also talks that Coinbase may announce its plans for an initial exchange offering (IEO) platform in a few months, while security token offerings were also in their radar. The South Korean branch of cryptocurrency exchange OKEx announced that it will delist Monero, Dash, ZCash, Horizen and Super Bitcoin, saying they “violate regulatory laws.” After reports that a large majority of OKEx's volume is fake, the exchange’s CEO Jay Hao challenged the claim, defending the company. Additionally, improving user experience was one of the main focus areas at Kraken this year and it plans a “major change” soon, Dan Held, Director of Business Development of the company, told us.
- In the regulators' corner, we saw the Venezuelan government planning to release a crypto calculator for Android smartphones, while a Venezuelan state-run oil and gas company seemed to be sitting on a BTC and ETH unspecified “stash”. The government agencies in Brazil and Mexico were looking to crack down on non-compliant platforms and brokerages. We’ve also wondered if the Uruguayan Central Bank took a crypto U-turn, while France said 'no' to Libra's development on European soil. Meanwhile, North Korea was preparing to host a crypto conference, and it may be working on wallets too, while it's people are allowed to own crypto. In South Korea, on the other hand, some of the biggest companies were investing in domestic blockchain and crypto startups, with the Seoul government looking to get in on the action. And in Japan, Japanese securities firm Monex Group said it will hand out bitcoin to all of its shareholders – regardless of how much stock they own in the company.
- Germany’s cabinet launched a stinging attack on stablecoins, with the country’s finance minister suggesting that it will “clearly reject” tokens like Facebook’s forthcoming Libra token and Berlin hoping to push the rest of the international community to follow suit.
- Ripple stood firm in its claim that XRP is not a security and wanted the federal court to dismiss a class action lawsuit according to which the company illegally sold unregistered securities.
Many other interesting things happened this month: a workaround for "Bitcoin-ETF" was found, but industry players argued that it's not a Bitcoin ETF at all; Japanese banks continued to invest in XRP-powered MoneyTapp app for smartphones; Chinese police untangled an elaborate crypto mining scheme, arresting fifteen suspects in south-central China, for stealing electricity from Internet cafes to mine cryptocurrency, and while a new wallet by ex-CEO of BTCC was revealed, Trezor introduced its BTC-only firmware.
- It wasn't the end of new developments. Samsung revealed more details about their crypto-friendly Klaytn phones, while we compiled the full list of tokens and dapps supported by the Samsung Galaxy S10. The Cryptoworld learned that LG could be launching its own blockchain-powered smartphone in response to Klaytn Phone, and the giant soon confirmed that it's considering the idea. Finally, U.S.-headquartered banking giant with USD 1.9 trillion in assets, Wells Fargo, said that it plans to pilot its internal settlement service, Wells Fargo Digital Cash, in 2020.
- And we wondered yet again if an alt season may be upon us.
What other news from the first quarter you would like to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Cryptonews Rewind 2019: Q1 - Last Months of Crypto Winter & First Hacks
Cryptonews Rewind 2019: Q2 - The Big Rally, Libra & Regulatory Awakening