Ripple XRP

Euro Exim Bank will be the first bank to use Ripple’s cryptocurrency service xRapid. The London-based bank will actively use XRP to source liquidity and settle cross-border payments.

It’s a major development for Ripple. As reported by Block Explorer, a handful of Ripple’s partners in the finance world now use xRapid, but most are money-transfer services. None have a banking license. 

Euro Exim Bank is the first official bank to flip the switch to xRapid.

What is xRapid?

xRapid is Ripple’s flagship service that uses XRP as a bridge currency to speed up cross-border payments.

Tests have reported 70% savings and almost instantaneous settlements.

xRapid is a solution to the outdated foreign exchange system which takes days and incurs high fees.

Learn more: What is xRapid (Everything You Need To Know About Ripple’s Crypto Service)

While Ripple now has more than 200 banking partners, only a few are actively using xRapid. The companies include Mercury FX, Cuallix, Catalyst Corporate Credit Union, and Viamericas. 

“Dozens of banks” will be using xRapid by the end of 2019

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has previously boasted that “dozens of banks” will be using xRapid by the end of 2019. But XRP holders have been disappointed by the lack of fully-licensed banks switching over to the cryptocurrency service.

Alongside the Euro Exim announcement, Garlinghouse also revealed that four additional companies will tap into xRapid: JNFX, SendFriend, Transpaygo, and FTCS.

“We’re beginning to see more customers flip the switch and leverage XRP”

During the announcement Garlinghouse expanded on Ripple’s progress: 

“In 2018, nearly 100 financial institutions joined RippleNet, and we’re now signing two—sometimes three—new customers per week. We also saw a 350 percent increase last year in customers sending live payments, and we’re beginning to see more customers flip the switch and leverage XRP for on-demand liquidity. At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure our customers can provide excellent, efficient cross-border payments experiences for their customers, wherever they are in the world.”

Euro Exim Bank director, Kaushik Punjani, said: “We have designed, tested and are implementing both xCurrent and xRapid in record time, and we look forward to the benefits these will bring our customers.”

Further reading: What is Ripple XRP (Absolutely Everything You Need to Know)

Gemini insurance

In a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the identical twin founders of crypto exchange Gemini, maintained their optimistic stance on bitcoin.

In one exchange, Tyler Winklevoss claimed that bitcoin’s market capitalization would surpass gold:

“Our thesis around bitcoin’s upside remains unchanged. We believe bitcoin is better at being gold than gold. If we’re right, then over time the market cap of bitcoin will surpass the ~7trillion dollar market cap of gold.”

Bitcoin’s market cap is currently at $71 billion, a far cry from gold’s $7 trillion.

“Crypto Needs Rules”

The Reddit AMA comes a week after Gemini launched a controversial new marketing campaign. Gemini posters erected near Wall Street in New York declared that “crypto needs rules.”

Further adverts in the New York Times claimed “the revolution needs rules” and promoted “crypto without chaos.”

It’s a controversial position among many in the cryptocurrency community who resent the presence of regulators in the space.

Since the launch of the Gemini exchange, the Winklevoss twins have operated within strict regulations and licenses. As Chris Roan, head of marketing at Gemini told the Wall Street Journal, “We believe that investors coming into cryptocurrency deserve the exact same protections as investors in more traditional markets.”

Committed to Bitcoin ETF

In the Reddit AMA, the Winklevoss twins also doubled down on their goal to launch a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). Cameron Winklevoss said, “We are committed as ever to making an ETF a reality!”

He also outlined some of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s concerns and how Gemini would work to satisfy them. This includes the addition of a Nasdaq-style market surveillance system.

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ethereum classic

Mining pool, Etherchain, has reported that Ethereum Classic (ETC) has succumbed to a successful 51% attack “with multiple 100+ block reorganization.”

A 51% attack occurs when a malicious actor commands more than half the hashing power on a blockchain. It allows the attackers to “double spend” a cryptocurrency, hence why it’s often known as a “double spend attack.”

“Block reorganization” as mentioned in Etherchain’s tweet, refers to a blockchain which excludes blocks that were initially thought to be part of the longest chain. This is consistent with a double spend attack.

Rumors of a 51% on the ETC blockchain emerged early on January 7th. The Ethereum Classic Twitter account initially dismissed the rumors. However, they have since recognized the attack and advised all exchanges and mining pools to increase confirmation times. 

Ethereum Classic forked from Ethereum after the community’s controversial decision to reverse a hack in 2016.

Block Explorer will update this article as we learn more.

Further reading: What is a 51% Attack?

Ledger nano x bitcoin hardware wallet

Ledger, the world’s most popular crypto hardware wallet provider, has unveiled its next-generation product: Nano X.

The Nano X is an upgrade from the Nano S which sold over a million devices and featured in our best cryptocurrency wallets of 2018 roundup. The Nano X offers a host of new, improved features for safe bitcoin storage.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Ledger Nano X: Bluetooth Enabled

Ledger’s new hardware wallet will feature Bluetooth connectivity, allowing users to connect to a mobile device. The previous Nano S only connected to a laptop or desktop via USB.

It improves usability in a mobile-first world and it means the Nano X can be used on the go.

Ledger Live Mobile: A New Mobile App

Ledger will launch a mobile app to integrate with the device, Ledger Mobile Live. The app will enable users to make transactions and check their balance quickly.

In the past, Ledger users could only conduct transactions on the desktop software.

The app will be available on Google Play and Apple App Store on January 28th.

Bigger Screen

The Ledger Nano X features a larger screen than its predecessor. That’s a crucial upgrade as most of Ledger’s security features operate right there on the screen (PIN code access and transaction confirmations, for example).

The larger screen makes this process easier and more user-friendly. The buttons have also been moved from the top of the device to the front for a more intuitive experience.

1,100+ Coin Support

Like the previous device, Ledger’s Nano X will support more than 1,100 crypto assets.

However, the big problem with the Nano S is the inability to hold more than about ten cryptocurrencies at once on the device.

The Nano X aims to address that by increasing the memory.

Ledger nano x cryptocurrencies

Increased Memory: 100 Coins At One Time

By increasing the memory on the Ledger Nano X, users can hold significantly more cryptocurrencies at once.

That’s because Ledger stores each different crypto asset on its own wallet, using a separate app. It’s a security feature. If you want to hold bitcoin on a Ledger device, you’re not just storing bitcoin, you’re using memory to store a bitcoin wallet. If you then add ethereum, you also store an ethereum wallet or app.

The Nano X drastically increases the memory, meaning you can hold up to 100 different crypto assets at once.

Security

The introduction of Bluetooth might send alarm bells ringing for some. A wireless connection does increase the risk of an attacker hijacking the connection.

However, Ledger claims it is still highly secure due to Bluetooth’s short range and the device’s built-in security features. Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, CEO Eric Larchevêque said: 

“The Bluetooth connection is only used to send public data, such as your public key. The transaction itself is encrypted end-to-end while using the highest level of encryption and security on the Bluetooth protocol … no private keys are on the Bluetooth connection. It’s the same as the USB cable. Security-wise, the architecture is the same.”

The private keys are stored in a microchip that remains in the device at all times. Additionally, all the most important security checks (like PIN access) take place on the device or in the app. The device itself will only respond to the corresponding user app which should limit attacker access.

Price?

The Nano X will launch at $119 including shipping. Its predecessor, the Nano S, will get a price cut. 

The Ledger Nano X is available to pre-order now and will ship in March. The app will launch on January 28th. 

Technical Specifications

Size: 72mm x 18.6mm x 11.75mm

Weight: 34g

Compatibility: 64-bit desktop computer (Windows 8+, macOS 10.8+, Linux) or smartphone (iOS 9+ or Android 5+)

Chips: ST33J2M0 (secure) + STM32F042

Battery: 100mAh

Further reading: 12 Best Crypto Wallets (For Safe and Secure Bitcoin Storage)

sachscircle

Crypto finance company Circle says institutional money is flowing into cryptocurrency, but adoption is coming slowly, not in “the major sweeping manner some in the industry had exuberantly predicted.” 

In a Medium post, Circle reported $24 billion in over-the-counter (OTC) trades in 2018, attributing much of it to growing interest from institutional investors.

OTC trading takes place in private and usually involve enormous sums of money. The trades are facilitated by brokers or private trading desks like Circle.

Hedge funds, VC firms, and Family Offices

Circle outlines a core group of clients including miners, exchanges, project founders, and developers. However, it also points to a new wave of institutional clients. 

Circle is seeing new volume from crypto funds, hedge funds, venture capital firms, and family offices. 

Despite the downturn in price, Circle maintains that institutional adoption is growing. It now counts 1,000 institutional partners including asset managers, high-net-worth individuals, and endowments.

According to Circle’s medium post, “institutional involvement in crypto grew steadily and incrementally rather than in the major sweeping manner some in the industry had exuberantly predicted.”

The company expects the trend to continue through 2019, pointing to the growth of stablecoins, regulatory clarity, and custody services:

“We anticipate further incremental growth in institutional adoption catalyzed by stablecoin usage, advancements in institutional custody solutions, increasing regulatory clarity particularly in the U.S., and improvements and innovation in core crypto infrastructure.”

Circle facilitated $24 billion in over-the-counter (OTC) trading in 2018. The OTC platform, known as Circle Trade, processed more than 10,000 trades from 600 different investors.

Further reading: What is Bitcoin OTC Trading? The Mysterious World of the Rich and Nebulous (Explained by an Insider)