Cryptocurrency data analytics startup Skew has raised $2 million in seed funding from several venture capital firms, including Silicon Valley icon Kleiner Perkins.
Announced Wednesday, the seed round was led by London-based FirstMinute Capital, with participation from Seedcamp, Kima Ventures and QCP Capital. The company declined to disclose its valuation.
The company’s skewAnalytics service, launched concurrently with the raise announcement, provides a real-time overview of crypto derivatives markets with more than 100 charts on crypto futures and options. A company of 10 employees, many from traditional finance, London-based Skew is building out features for institutional clients to visualize historical data as well as create dashboards and is hiring in engineering and eventually in distribution.
“Where we want to focus is on corporates and institutions that need this data to run their business,” Skew CEO and co-founder Emmanuel Goh told CoinDesk. “We have had heard concerns from interested traders and firms, and they would be able to generate backtest strategies from this data.”
Goh and his co-founder Tim Noat worked as traders of flow derivatives and exotic options at JPMorgan Chase and Citi, respectively, before starting the company.
The firm’s analytics tools resemble the institutional-grade tools one would find for established products such as foreign exchange and equity, Monica Desai, an investing partner at Kleiner Perkins, told CoinDesk by email.
“As a former trader I’ve found many of their tools (some forthcoming) to feel the most trading floor-native or Bloomberg-esque and am excited to see how they evolve the product as the crypto derivatives space grows exponentially in the next year,” said Desai, who used to manage bond portfolios at JPMorgan.
Crypto derivatives took off in 2018 after the brutal market correction of 2017 and are showing a resurgence driven by institutional adoption, Goh said.
Swaps are being traded in the billions every day on offshore venues, and regulated entities are ramping up offerings. For example, CME plans to launch bitcoin options in Q1 2019 and Intercontinental Exchange’s bitcoin futures platform Bakkt debuted Monday (though it didn’t do much volume).
“Bakkt is the first time large institutions can build physical coins,” Goh said, referring to the fact that the futures contracts are settled in real bitcoin rather than cash. “It’s going to be a moment of proof for the industry.”
While crypto derivatives markets are fragmented, Skew has contracted a number of licensing agreements with crypto exchanges.
According to Skew’s data, aggregated bitcoin options have grown more than sixfold from last year’s fourth quarter to $34.8 million this quarter.
Cryptocurrency finance startup Circle has stopped its line of research reports saying it needs to reconsider the offering.
In a post on its website on Tuesday, Circle reached out to consumers of the service, saying:
“While we’ve made significant progress with our content offerings, it’s time to evaluate our contribution and overall strategy. With that in mind, we’ve decided to pause Circle Research activity for the time being as we decide on a future direction for the program.”
Circle Research had provided weekly and quarterly overviews of the crypto space, looking at markets, blockchain news and industry news.
The move may be a continuation of apparent cost-cutting moves by the firm which offers cryptocurrency payments via an app, OTC trading and spot trading via its Poloniex exchange platform (acquired in February of last year). It’s also part of a consortium including Coinbase that has launched a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar called USD Coin (USDC).
Three months ago, Circle said it would wind down the Circle Pay app, with a closing date for the service of Sept. 30. At the time the firm’s CEO, Jeremy Allaire said it makes sense to focus more on USDC and “wallet services that take a bigger step toward reaching our original vision for a free, open and transparent global payments network.”
And in May, 30 staff were let go – roughly 10 percent of its employees – with Circle citing market conditions and “an increasingly restrictive regulatory climate in the United States,” as the reason.
Automaker Daimler has carried out its first transaction on the blockchain-based Marco Polo trade finance network.
The pilot commercial trade transaction saw the firm – which owns Mercedes-Benz among other brands – process the data required to exchange payments with engineering firm and parts builder Dürr, according to a press release sent to CoinDesk on Wednesday. German bank Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) was also involved in the trade.
The pilot involved an order and delivery agreement for a balancing system from Dürr subsidiary Schenck arranged over Marco Polo. Payment was prearranged through a conditional commitment from Daimler’s bank.
Once the ordered equipment was delivered, the fulfillment data was entered onto Marco Polo and automatically reconciled with the agreed transaction data, thus triggering an irrevocable payment obligation.
Founded by startups R3 and TradeIX, Marco Polo is built on R3’s Corda blockchain platform. The network aims to deliver real-time connectivity, boost transparency in trading relationships and lower barriers to accessing capital.
Currently, arranging traditional paper-based payments for international trade transactions is inefficient and and slow, requiring multiple systems and a number of intermediaries such as logistics providers, insurers, customs authorities, according to LBBW’s announcement.
The pilot – conducted in “minutes instead of days” – had persuaded Dürr and Daimler that blockchain can make the process “faster and simpler,” said the bank.
Susanne Schlegel, CFO of Schenck and Dürr Division Measuring and Process Systems, said:
“We focus on efficiency increases not only with regard to our machines and systems, but also to our business processes. The successful pilot project between Daimler and LBBW demonstrates the intrinsic efficiency potential of digital trade finance processes. Innovative platforms and technologies such as Marco Polo and Corda allow us to reduce complexities in order fulfillment – to the benefit of all participants”
The ability to automatically trigger payments was a milestone for the network, announced in August. Marco Polo’s first such transaction involved LBBW and Commerzbank and saw logistics provider Logwin AG adding data to the blockchain to initiate the payment obligation.
Marco Polo has also announced notable new members in recent weeks, with both Bank of America and Mastercard signing up to the project seeking new efficiencies in their trade finance businesses.
- BTC looks set to test support near $7,500, having confirmed a bearish reversal with a high-volume triangle breakdown on Tuesday.
- The cryptocurrency’s violation of the historically strong 55-candle exponential moving average (MA) on the three-day chart also favors a deeper price slide.
- The outlook would turn bullish if prices quickly rise above Tuesday’s high of $9,782, although that looks unlikely at press time.
Bitcoin fell sharply on Tuesday, confirming a bearish reversal and opening the doors for a test of crucial price support near $7,500.
The leading cryptocurrency by market value ran into selling pressure around $9,700 in the early U.S. trading hours and fell to a 3.5-month low of $7,998 at 19:45 UTC on Bitstamp.
BTC had been on slippery ground following Tuesday’s volatility band breakdown. A widely-followed indicator was also reporting the strongest a bear bias in nine months, as discussed earlier this week.
The price slide was likely exacerbated by a long squeeze, when investors square off (or sell) long positions to cut losses in a falling market, thereby creating further downward pressure on prices.
So, while a price drop was expected, the magnitude of the sell-off has caught many by surprise. The cryptocurrency fell by 11.83 percent on Tuesday – 2019’s third-biggest single-day drop, as per Bitstamp data.
- BTC has seen double-digit daily losses four times this year.
- The biggest single-day loss of 2019 witnessed on June 27 marked a healthy correction from a 17-month high of $13,880 reached on the preceding day.
The latest double-digit price slide has taken the cryptocurrency below major support levels. Therefore, a deeper drop toward $7,500 – a level seen a week ahead of Facebook’s launch of Libra – could be seen over the next few days.
As of writing, BTC is changing hands around $8,400 on Bitstamp. It’s worth noting the cryptocurrency is still up about 127 percent on a year-to-date basis.
Daily and monthly charts
Bitcoin dived out a three-month contracting triangle on Tuesday (above left), confirming an end of the bull market, which had started from April’s low near $4,000.
Currently, prices are flirting with the 200-day moving average (MA) support at $8,309. That long-term MA has come into play for the first time since April and will likely be breached, as the post-triangle breakdown price drop looks to have legs – volumes hit three-month highs on Tuesday.
BTC, therefore, risks extending losses to support at $7,500 – lows seen before Libra hype gripped the market in mid-June
Moreover, the triangle breakdown could yield a drop to $4,000 (target as per the measured move method), as tweeted by bitcoin skeptic and CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Peter Schiff. That target looks far-fetched, however.
The monthly chart (above right) is also now teasing a bearish reversal. The cryptocurrency charted inside-bar candlestick patterns in the previous two months, signaling an impending bullish-to-bearish trend change.
The outlook as per the monthly chart would turn bearish only if prices close below $9,049 (first inside bar’s low) on Sept. 30. That looks likely, with prices currently trading at $8,400 and the daily chart reporting a strong bearish setup.
The bearish case would weaken if prices find acceptance above $9,097 – a higher high created on May 30. The outlook would turn bullish if prices bounce from the 200-day MA and chart a quick V-shaped recovery to levels above Tuesday’s high of $9,782. That, however, looks unlikely.
BTC has found acceptance below the 55-candle exponential moving average, which served as a strong base during the 2016-2017 bull market.
Back then, the cryptocurrency charted bullish higher lows along the key EMA and not once did the sellers managed to secure a close below the crucial support.
Hence, the latest close below the 55-candle EMA could be considered a strong bearish development.
Oversold daily RSI
The 14-day relative strength index (RSI) is currently hovering below 23, its lowest level since November 2018. A reading below 30 indicates oversold conditions and suggests scope for a corrective bounce.
That said, indicators can and do remain oversold for a prolonged period in a strong bearish market, especially when a sell-off is preceded by a major bout of consolidation. BTC was trapped in a narrow range for almost three months before breaking lower.
In such situations, seasoned trades consider an oversold reading on the RSI as an indicator of trend strength. So, expecting a notable price bounce on the basis of the oversold reading on the RSI could prove costly.
Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing.
Venture capital firm 1confirmation is announcing a new, $45 million fund for investing in cryptocurrency startups.
Led by early Coinbase employee Nick Tomaino, the firm’s first fund, focused on seed rounds, amounted to $26 million.
“We wanted to start off relatively small, prove out the model and raise more capital if the model was working,” Tomaino told CoinDesk in an email. “The model is working well and we had strong support from our existing [limited partner] base to launch a larger second fund.”
He says he’s broadly optimistic about the crypto industry. In a blog post shared with CoinDesk in advance, Tomaino wrote:
“Today, the current total market value of crypto assets is ~$272B and investment/speculation is the only mainstream use case. We think in the next five years, that total market value will surpass $1T as the investment/speculation use case continues to grow and other mainstream use cases emerge.”
1confirmation has invested in a wide array of new companies in the industry, including BloXroute, Tendermint, OpenSea and Commonwealth. The firm invests in both startup equity and cryptocurrency tokens.
While Tomaino declined to detail participants in the new fund, he noted that it is “largely backed by our existing Fund I LPs.” When 1confirmation was first announced, limited partners included: Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Balaji Srinivasan, Brendan Eich, Runa Capital and Real Ventures, among others.
This larger fund will allow for the company to write larger checks while continuing to capitalize on being close to pioneers in the space, Tomaino told CoinDesk.
He wrote in an email:
“For Fund I, our focus was providing early stage capital for founders building infrastructure and middleware for the decentralized web. For Fund II, we’re continuing that focus with larger checks as a result of the larger fund (Fund II checks are generally between $1M and $2M, where Fund I checks were between $250K and $1M).”
In his blog post, Tomaino emphasizes the importance of not chasing the trend so much as investing in “focused, disciplined, mission-driven founders.” Further, he predicts that bitcoin will continue to be the market leader and that ethereum will follow close behind, particularly as the platform for decentralized finance.
“While the story for ETH as a store of value is not as strong as the story for BTC as a store of value and a lot of Ethereum infrastructure challenges remain unsolved, we think that Ethereum as a platform for innovation is here to stay and ETH’s future as Internet money for open, inclusive financial products (aka DeFi) is bright.”
Galen Moore is a member of the CoinDesk Research team. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.
The following article originally appeared in Institutional Crypto by CoinDesk, a weekly newsletter focused on institutional investment in crypto assets. Sign up for free here.
It’s a lively time for bitcoin derivatives – or at least for those writing about them. For those trading them, it may be business as usual.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) announced Friday it is preparing to offer options trades on its bitcoin futures contract. It’s a surprising move, because options volume to date rounds to zero, as a percentage of reported volume in futures and swaps.
Still, nobody in crypto has had an options counterparty as reliable as CME before.
The announcement gives CME a way to offer options without having to build much anew. Why should it? CME’s bitcoin futures market represents a tiny percentage of its overall volume.
Nevertheless, CME may be feeling a shade of anxiety about its leadership position in regulated crypto derivatives markets, with Bakkt rolling out a regulated bitcoin futures contract this week that, unlike the Chicago exchange’s, is settled in actual bitcoin rather than cash.
After all, other people in Chicago who trade a lot of bitcoin seem to think physically settled futures are important. Maybe CME’s announcement lets it steal a little of Bakkt’s thunder.
Speaking of Bakkt, its October 2019 monthly and daily contracts launched Monday. First-day volume in the monthly contract was just 71 BTC. That’s rather anemic, compared with the start of the CME product in December 2017, which isn’t necessarily apples to apples, given CME futures launched near bitcoin’s all-time highs.
The Bakkt one-day futures contract is the more intriguing product of the two. It could be anything from a CFTC-regulated fiat onramp to a duplicate of the popular BitMEX perpetual swap, if traders use its T+2 settlement to build a forward curve and continue to roll the contracts.
So far, traders aren’t. Volume in Bakkt’s one-day futures was all of 2 BTC on Monday.
The first regulated bitcoin futures came in December 2017, just before bitcoin’s price began a long slide down 83 percent from its all-time high. With volumes under $100 million, however, it would be hard to argue that futures trading brought sanity to the markets.
Instead, it’s more likely that slow demand for the new product punctured the myth of institutional demand for bitcoin exposure, pent up behind compliance departments’ insistence on a regulated product.
That myth is alive and well today among retail-focused crypto “analysts,” as a search for “bakkt volume fail” will show you. If you were around in 2017, you didn’t need time travel to know to short bitcoin on Monday: you had seen this movie before. Even the least-sober among us in 2019 recognize the obvious, that institutional investors’ interest in bitcoin is developing slowly, when it is developing at all.
For institutional investors, derivatives offer readily understood solutions to operational obstacles related to custody, investability and risk. (Regulated bitcoin futures are structured the same as futures in, say, frozen concentrated orange juice.)
Still, today the lion’s share of the volume is on unregulated exchanges that don’t operate as clearinghouses and offer leverage up to 100X.
These products could not be interesting to any regulated asset manager, but they are interesting.
Despite persistent doubts as to the reliability of their reported volumes (especially with OKEx and Huobi), bitcoin traders on the largest over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks know there is liquidity in these markets. Their hedging strategies rely on that liquidity.
Other than that, volume on these leveraged trades is probably all crypto hedge funds and, as one trader put it to me, “degenerate gamblers,” trading on their own accounts.
Bitcoin futures are structured much like orange juice concentrate futures, but everyone knows that orange juice concentrate, when mixed with more volatile things can become rather flammable. There are important qualities that set bitcoin apart from other asset categories and these qualities of the underlying are taken into account by institutional investors evaluating bitcoin derivatives.
For example, there may not be natural hedges in a bitcoin futures market. If you don’t believe that, compare global operating expenditure for gold miners to those of bitcoin miners. This isn’t Kansas.
Derivatives may be gold bricks paving the road to institutional investment in bitcoin, but it’s a long way to the Emerald City. Right now, the CME futures volume is as good a guide as any to investors’ progress along that road.
You may have seen charts showing the rise in CME volumes in May. That rise also coincided with a twofold increase in the price of bitcoin. Measured in bitcoin terms, CME futures volume surged in July and is now back trading at a modest growth rate over Q1 levels.
Meanwhile, no fewer than four other startups are readying new derivatives offerings for the U.S. institutional and other regulated markets. All are focused on physical settlement.
It remains to be seen whether physical delivery will be a feature that compels market participation. It’s not always very important in derivatives built on other asset categories.
One thing appears certain: no new financial instrument is likely to “unlock” institutional demand, as most institutions are only beginning to answer the question of why they would invest in bitcoin in the first place.
Uzun bir süredir istikrarlı olarak ilerleyişine devam eden bitcoin, kripto para boğalarının sevinçleri devam ederken onları üzebilecek bir haberle karşımıza çıktı. Yaklaşık olarak 600 dolar kadar dalışa geçen bitcoin, yatırımcısına uzun bir süre sonra kaybettirmiş oldu Artık eski dalgalanmalar görünmüyor dedikoduları çıkarken güzel bir cevap olan bu düşüş sayesinde piyasaların bir nebze daha hareketlendiğini söyleyebiliriz.
Büyük işlem hacmine sahip kripto paraların çoğu yeşil çizgisinde ilerlemeye devam ediyor ve yatırımcısının yüzünü güldürüyor. Ancak günlük borsa hareketlenmeleri yüzdelik olarak düşük kaldığı için daha yüksek kazanç peşinde koşan kişilerin yeni bir yol aramaya çıktıklarını da hatırlatmak gerek.
Altcoinler Dikkat Çekiyor
Büyük hacimli kripto paralar yeşil seyrinde devam etseler de dar bir aralıkta gezindikleri için özellikle küçük ve orta derecede yatırımları bulunan kişiler için yeterli gelmemekte. Bu yüzden de yatırımcılar yavaş yavaş yüzünü çok daha büyük yüzdesel değişiklikler gösteren altcoinlere çevirmiş durumdalar. Özellikle son birkaç günün parlayan yıldızlarından olan XRP, yatırımcısına en çok kazandıran altcoinler arasında.
The computing power dedicated to mining bitcoin has hit yet another new high, suggesting that more than 600,000 powerful new machines may have come online in the last three months.
According to data from crypto mining pool BTC.com, bitcoin’s two-week average hash rate has crossed another major threshold, reaching 85 exahashes per second (EH/s) around 19:00 UTC last Friday. Meanwhile, mining difficulty also adjusted to a new record of nearly 12 trillion.
Notably, both figures have jumped 60 percent since June 14, the data shows.
Bitcoin’s mining difficulty – a measure of how hard it is to create a block of transactions – adjusts after 2,016 blocks, or roughly every two weeks. This is to ensure the time to produce a block remains around 10 minutes, even as the amount of hashing power, deployed by machines around the globe competing to win freshly minted bitcoins, fluctuates.
Several new models of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners hit the market over the summer, with an average hashing power around 55 tera hashes per second (TH/s).
Assuming all of the 35 EH/s of new hashing power added since mid-June came from these top-of-the-line models, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that more than half a million such machines have connected to the bitcoin network. (1 EH/s =1 million TH/s)
These powerful ASIC miners, made by major manufacturers such as Bitmain, Canaan, InnoSilicon and MicroBT, are priced from $1,500 to $2,500 each. So if more than half a million of them were delivered, as estimated above, the leading miner makers could have made $1 billion in revenue over the past three months.
Bitcoin’s spiking hash rate and difficulty are in line with the soaring price since earlier this year, which led to increasing demand for mining equipment that has significantly outstripped supply. It’s also in part thanks to the rainy summer season in southwestern China which resulted in cheap, abundant hydroelectric power.
Further, there has also been a growing interest in Russia’s Eastern Siberia region, where the Brastsk hydropower station built in the Cold War era has been utilized to power mining farms that are estimated to account for almost 10 percent of the total computing power on the bitcoin network.
Miners in China estimated earlier this year that bitcoin’s average hash rate in the summer would break the level of 70 EH/s, which happened in August.
As such, major miner manufacturers have already sold out equipment that is due for shipment until the end of the year with customers placing pre-orders three months in advance.
TokenInsight, a startup that focuses on analysis of crypto trading and mining activities, said in a report published Friday that additional supplies of miners are expected to hit the market in the coming months.
“Following the drastic increase in bitcoin’s price, the bitcoin mining market saw significant inflation in Q2 2019. Most of the miners from various manufacturers were in serious shortage and pre-orders submitted in Q2 and Q3 are to be delivered by the end of the year,” the report states.
Therefore, the firm estimates mining difficulty will maintain its growth momentum to reach 15 trillion by the end of the year – with bitcoin’s average total hashing power crossing the threshold of 100 EH/s for the first time in its history.
Fintech startup Neufund has begun launching public offerings on its tokenized equity platform after receiving clearance from a financial regulator in Liechtenstein.
On Monday, the startup announced retail-grade public offerings of tokenized equity. With minimum ticket sizes as low as 10 euro, co-founder and CEO of Neufund Zoe Adamovicz said Neufund remarked that the firm “delivers on its promise to democratize access to funding for entrepreneurs globally” following clearing from the Financial Monetary Authority of Lichtenstein.
“It’s a big day – not just for Neufund, but business and finance,” Adamovicz said in a statement.
U.S. based investors must be accredited to partake. Unlike other tokenized financial products such as initial coin offerings, Neufund’s product is legally binding equity in a firm.
The first retail public offering being launched is for Greyp, an electric mobility platform. Neufund said $16 million in capital has been deployed on the platform to date.
Nefund’s protocol is based on the ethereum blockchain with custom smart contracts built in-house on the ERC-20 token standard. One of the most active participants on the ethereum network, Nefund has been developing the codebase since 2016. Neufund is based in Berlin.
The U.S. has sanctioned three North Korean entities for cyber crimes, mentioning cryptocurrency thefts as one of the reasons for the action.
In a Sept. 13 announcement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury identified the Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff and Andariel as entities now on its the sanctions list, who are believed to be responsible for the theft of $571 million worth of cryptos from five exchanges in Asia in 2017 and 2018.
The announcement comes just days after the North said that it would be holdings its second cryptocurrency-related conference, inviting the community to share information and do deals next February in Pyongyang.
The Treasury department said the stolen funds, including coins from cryptocurrency exchanges, are believed to have been used in the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
As a result of the designation, all assets owned or controlled by any of the three entities are now blocked and must be reported to Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The announcement said that “U.S. persons,” which broadly includes citizens, residents and companies incorporated in the U.S., are generally prohibited from dealing with the blocked entities. Anyone violating the sanctions could themselves be subject to designation by the Treasury.
Further, any financial institution in any country that deals with the blocked entities could lose their correspondent banking relationships with U.S. financial institutions, essentially locking them out of the dollar market.
Lazarus, which is the parent of the other two groups and also known as Apple Worm and Guardians of Peace, was involved in the WannaCry 2.0 ransomware attacks of 2017, the announcement added.
Bluenoroff, which came to the attention of security companies in 2014 and is sometimes known as APT38 or Stardust Chollima, has stolen funds from financial institutions, including $80 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh, and has targeted cryptocurrency exchanges.
Andariel was first noticed by the internet security community in 2015 and is also attempting to engage in theft and sow confusion. It was said to be responsible for a 2016 hack into the personal computer of the South Korean Defense Minister.
All three groups are controlled by North Korea and related to the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), according to the announcement.
A recent U.N. report alleges that the North has stolen $2 billion worth of crypto and fiat currencies in 35 separate attacks in 17 countries. South Korea’s UPbit exchange may have been one of the targets, with the North using phishing attacks to gain control of the computers of customers.