In what was a very tight, rangebound seven days of trading, crypto markets remained virtually unchanged across the week. Market capitalization was almost continuously around the $210 billion-mark. And Bitcoin also remained fairly static, having traded around $6,500 for the last 10 days, thus continuing its trend of almost constantly hovering in the mid-$6000s since August.
Coinbase launches stablecoin
In a blog post published on Wednesday, popular crypto exchange Coinbase announced the launch of the USDC stablecoin, which will be fully backed by US dollars. It is the first stablecoin to be made available on the platform. Coinbase said its customers in supported jurisdictions “can buy, sell, send and receive the USD Coin stablecoin (USDC) at Coinbase.com and in the Coinbase iOS and Android apps.” US customers outside New York state are able to “buy and sell,” while customers around the world “can send and receive.” More geographies will also be announced in the future.
The stablecoin is the result of a partnership between Coinbase and Circle, and each token is reportedly 100% collateralized by a corresponding USD held in accounts subject to regular public reporting of reserves. According to the blog post, “The advantage of a blockchain-based digital dollar like USDC is easier to program with, to send quickly, to use in dApps, and to store locally than traditional bank account-based dollars. That’s why we think of it as an important step towards a more open financial system.”
But not all stablecoins generated such positive news…
Tether burns Half a Billion USDT Coins
An official announcement on Wednesday confirmed that leading stablecoin Tether has destroyed 500 million USDT tokens from its treasury wallet: “Tether has redeemed a significant amount of USDT from the circulating supply of tokens. In line with this, Tether will destroy 500m USDT from the Tether treasury wallet and will leave the remaining USDT (approx 466m) in the wallet as a preparatory measures for future USDT issuances.”
— Tether (@Tether_to) October 24, 2018
But there does not seems to be any official reason provided for this drastic action. It has been a rocky time for Tether recently. With Nobel Bank first announcing that neither Tether nor Bitfinex are clients anymore, followed by growing speculation over whether Tether had sufficient dollar-backing for its tokens that led to it losing its peg with the US dollar, the latest torching of tokens does little to dispel the controversies and lack of transparency surrounding the project.
A new crypto token is coming to Ethereum
A joint project from the companies behind decentralized exchanges Kyber Network and Republic Protocol, as well as cryptocurrency custody company BitGo, are launching a Bitcoin-backed ERC20 token on Ethereum. Called Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), the token will be launched in January 2019, and is designed to incorporate “the best of both worlds,” according to CTO of BitGo Benedict Chan, who describes WBTC as having “the stability of Bitcoin and the flexibility of Ethereum.”
BitGo’s official blog announcement states that WBTC will provide users with a “wide variety of new decentralized use cases including on decentralized exchanges (DEXs), as collateral for stablecoins or lending, for payments and flexible smart contracts within the Ethereum ecosystem.” Chan, meanwhile, also observes that the new token is “very similar in some ways to how people created banknotes that represented a pound of gold. A pound of gold was heavier and it took longer to trade. You could use a note which represented a pound of gold and it was well accepted.”
Demand for Ripple token doubles in Q3
According to Ripple’s Q3 2018 XRP Markets Report, the native token (XRP) of the third most highly valued cryptocurrency project experienced twice as much demand in the third quarter of this year compared to Q2. Sales of XRP hit $163.33 million in Q3, compared to $75.53 million in Q2, with much of the increase being attributed to institutional direct sales – $98.06 million vs $16.87 million in Q2. Programmatic sales also gained moderately, from $56.66 million to USD 65.27 million.
The report acknowledges that while total market capitalization of crypto declined during the quarter, Ripple benefitted from an independent price rally last month.
The report also touches on Malta’s specific contribution to trading volumes, observing that for “more than two-thirds of the quarter, overall global digital asset trading was led by exchanges based in Malta,” and that Maltese Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat has called cryptocurrencies “the inevitable future of money.”
Japan grants cryptocurrency industry self-regulatory status
Japan’s Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), which represents a collective of Japan’s foremost cryptocurrency platforms, is now legally permitted to regulate industry players. According to Reuters, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) will allow the group to monitor and impose punishments on local exchanges that violate FSA regulations. They will also be responsible for safeguarding customer assets, preventing money laundering, and providing operational guidelines, as well as policing regulatory compliance.
According to an FSA official, “It’s a very fast-moving industry. It’s better for experts to make rules in a timely manner than bureaucrats do.” The collective, meanwhile, stated that it will “make further efforts to build an industry that is trusted by customers,” following the FSA announcement.