Stock market

Representatives in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would allow company shares to be issued and recorded on blockchain technology.

House Bill 0185, Corporate Stock-Certificate Tokens, is a cross-party bill put forth by Republican and Democrat representatives in Wyoming. If passed, it would allow stock certificates to be stored digitally on the blockchain rather than paper certificates.

“The articles of incorporation or bylaws of a corporation may specify that all or a portion of the shares of the corporation may be represented by share certificates in the form of certificate tokens.”

The tokenization of traditional assets like stocks, real estate, and even art is a growing presence in the blockchain space. 

Already on the DX.Exchange platform in Europe, you can trade tokens that represent shares in Nasdaq-listed companies. The tokens can also represent a fractional ownership in the the stocks and are backed by real shares held by the exchange’s partner.

The proposal by Wyoming lawmakers would be a significant step further, allowing direct tokenized ownership of shares, issued by the company itself.

The bill proposes a date of July 1, 2019 to enter into effect.

Source: Coindesk

Nasdaq bitcoin futures

Last week, Block Explorer reported that Nasdaq was gearing up to launch a bitcoin futures trading platform. Well, those reports have now been confirmed by Nasdaq.

Bitcoin futures are coming to Nasdaq, the world’s second-largest stock exchange on the planet, in early 2019.

The news was confirmed by Joseph Christinat, the vice president of Nasdaq’s media arm.

Speaking to The Express, he said:

“Bitcoin Futures will be listed and it should launch in the first half of next year – we’re just waiting for the go ahead from the CFTC but there’s been enough work put into this to make that academic.”

Nasdaq is reported to have “run a few extra miles” with regulators to ensure their futures contracts are free from manipulation and other nefarious market practices. The bitcoin futures platform will integrate Nasdaq’s unique surveillance system which targets and minimizes manipulation.

“We’re Doing This No Matter What”

Asked about launching the trading platform in the midst of bitcoin’s biggest drop since 2013, Christinat was unfazed:

“We’ve put a hell of a lot of money and energy into delivering the ability to do this and we’ve been all over it for a long time – way before the market went into turmoil, and that will not affect the timing of this in any way. No. Period. We’re doing this no matter what.”

A UK broker at XTB confirmed Nasdaq’s sentiment, saying: “This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction or jumping on the bandwagon – this is a serious plan.”

Indeed, Nasdaq claims it has been in the blockchain game for five years now, working on the best way to tap into, and support, the market. It appears the fruits of its labor are now beginning to appear.

Many have claimed the launch of Nasdaq futures will act as a catalyst for the next price surge. However, it’s worth remembering that futures contracts also allow traders to bet against an asset, putting downward pressure on the price.

When the first bitcoin futures contracts were introduced in late 2017, it triggered a record price run, followed by a quick reversal.

Will history repeat itself when the Nasdaq futures platform arrives?

Further reading: Wall Street is Coming to Crypt; Nasdaq Bitcoin Futures Explained

'Fearless Girl' statue face off Wall Street Bull in New York

America’s second oldest bank, State Street, says there is a “high level of interest” in cryptocurrency from its customers. However, those customers are not rushing into the market.

State Street’s managing director, Jay Biancamano, said there was “no sense of urgency on the part of our clients to move into these assets right now.” In particular, State Street is seeing little demand for crypto custody – whereby an institution would safely store digital assets on behalf of its customers:

“Currently none of our clients are looking for us to house these assets in custody.”

Crypto custody is a hot topic on Wall Street right now. Fidelity is reportedly launching a crypto custody and exchange platform for its customers, while Goldman Sachs is also exploring ways to hold crypto assets. 

Despite the cautious tone, Biancamano said his firm is “blockchain friendly:” 

“We do talk to our clients who are interested in doing this and we are looking at this very closely. But we are not putting a sign that we are opening for business. That said, we are a blockchain-friendly firm; we are very involved in the vertical.”

State Street might not be throwing its arms around crypto just yet, but they will be ready when the next wave arrives. “There is no sense of urgency on the part of our clients to move into these assets right now. When they do, we want to meet them there.”

(Source: CoinDesk)

Further reading: Wall Street is Coming to Crypto; Nasdaq’s Bitcoin Futures Explained

Nasdaq bitcoin futures Wall Street

Forget the plunging prices, Wall Street is still thirsty for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

According to Bloomberg, Nasdaq will launch a trading platform for bitcoin futures contracts as early as the first quarter of 2019.

The news comes as ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, prepares to launch its own bitcoin futures exchange called Bakkt. 

It’s a sign that institutional players and Wall Street see strong demand for bitcoin trading even amidst the 80% price drop.

What are Nasdaq Bitcoin Futures?

After hinting at the prospect late last year, Nasdaq will finally launch a platform for trading bitcoin futures contracts in early 2019.

The news was reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Nasdaq partners, VanEck, at Coindesk’s “Consensus” conference yesterday.

The launch will be the first in a range of institutional crypto trading solutions.

What’s a Futures Contract?

A futures contract is a simple way for traders to bet on the future price of an asset, like bitcoin.

It works by agreeing to purchase the asset for a predetermined price at a specific date in the future. 

For example, I agree to buy bitcoin for $6,000 on December 22nd.

If the price of bitcoin is much higher than $6,000 on the date of expiry, I get my bitcoin at a huge discount to the market. I can then turn around and sell it at market value for a big profit.

Of course, it can work the other way too. If bitcoin has fallen far below $6,000, I’m still obligated to pay the agreed price (or I can exit the trade before the expiry date). 

Futures contracts are used by traders to make future bets on price rises (or falls), and they exist for most market assets, like oil, gold, and stock market indices.

Nasdaq Bitcoin Futures: “We Ran A Few Extra Miles With [Regulators]”

The news is a long time coming after the first whispers emerged in 2017. During that time, Nasdaq has been working closely with US regulators, the Commodities Futures Trading Commision, to tighten the screws.

VanEck’s director of digital asset strategy, Gabor Gurbacs, explained: 

“What I’d like to point out is we ran a few extra miles working with the [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] to bring about new standards for custody and surveillance.”

Nasdaq already operates a strict surveillance system on its exchange to pick up signs of manipulation such as wash trading. By integrating this into a crypto trading system, it will give institutional investors a great deal more confidence to trade and invest in bitcoin.

Settled with Bitcoin?

One thing we don’t yet know about the Nasdaq bitcoin futures is how the contracts will be settled.

The only bitcoin futures contracts on the market right now (available via CBOE and CME Group) are settled in cash. So when the futures contract expires, the trader pays (or receives) cash.

The much-hyped Bakkt futures contracts, which are slated for launch in January 2019, are unique because they are settled in bitcoin.

Nasdaq nor VanEck have confirmed how their product will operate.

Wall Street is Coming: Bakkt Launch in January 2019

The Nasdaq futures announcement comes shortly after the hype around Bakkt’s futures contracts.

Bakkt is a cryptocurrency exchange platform, backed by the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange. To put it another way, it’s a big deal.

Bakkt will also facilitate bitcoin futures contracts settled with real bitcoin.

Originally slated to launch early December, the Bakkt launch has been pushed back to January 24th, 2019. The delay was caused by the large “volume of interest.”

2019: a Big Year for Bitcoin?

The first quarter of 2019 is lining up to be huge for crypto. Bakkt is scheduled to launch in January. The Securities and Exchange Commission will make a decision on the much-anticipated bitcoin ETF proposal, and Nasdaq’s futures market will launch.

If 2018 was the year of slow, painful regulatory issues, 2019 could be the year it all comes together.

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Wall Street - Bitcoin hedge funds

Crypto hedge funds are launching at a record rate in 2018, despite the ongoing downtrend in the market.

20% of all hedge funds launched in 2018 are crypto-related, according to new research from Crypto Fund Research. It’s a sign that “big money” and institutional investors haven’t been put off by the year’s selling pressure.

90 Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Launched in 2018

90 new crypto hedge funds have appeared this year, and that number is expected to rise to 120 before the end of December.

Compare that to 2016 when  just 3% of all new hedge funds were crypto-related.

Approximately half the new crypto hedge funds are based in the US, while others have popped up in the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, China, Australia, and the “Blockchain Island,” Malta.

Rapid growth aside, however, let’s put things in perspective. The total number of crypto hedge funds still account for just 3% of all hedge funds. In terms of market capitalization, crypto funds manage $4 billion compared to the global hedge fund total of $3 trillion.

What’s a Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund?

A crypto hedge fund invests predominantly in crypto assets like bitcoin and ethereum. They may also invest in ICOs (initial coin offerings – a form of crowdfunding capital in the crypto space).

They differ to crypto venture capital funds and private equity funds which invest directly in blockchain projects and crypto startups.

When you invest in a cryptocurrency hedge fund, your money is pooled with others and the returns are shared. Bear in mind, however, that participating in a hedge fund usually involved high minimum deposits.

Undeterred by Low Prices

The rapid growth of hedge funds in a year when bitcoin has dropped almost 70% is curious. Traditionally, hedge funds sprout up during boom markets to capitalize on an uptrend.

Founder of Crypto Fund Research Joshua Gnaizda said:

“These seemingly unfavorable market conditions have not deterred managers from launching new crypto hedge funds at a record pace. While we don’t believe the rate of new launches is sustainable longer-term, there are currently few signs of a significant slowdown.”

Profit From Volatility

While the market conditions might appear unfavorable, a number of crypto hedge funds still make money when prices are down. Hedge funds can profit from volatility, which is why one crypto hedge fund, Amber AI Group, was able to make a 30% profit in the first quarter of 2018, when crypto prices slumped.

Hedge funds are notorious for short-selling, or profiting from an asset’s decline. By doing this, they can “hedge” their losses and, in some cases, make a profit when the whole markets moves downwards.

Wall Street Embraces Bitcoin

The rise of crypto hedge funds is yet another sign that Wall Street is edging closer to broader cryptocurrency adoption.

With the launch of a bitcoin futures market in 2017, rapid hedge fund growth, and an exchange-traded fund (ETF) on the horizon, the “big money” is coming.

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