Crypto As An Asset Class, Blockchain Interoperability & A Bitcoin Hublot

Volume 40

This newsletter is our weekly roundup of some of the significant blockchain news this week. Join thousands of subscribers to get your weekly news to map your blockchain strategies, be aware of regulatory announcements and get an overview of the rapidly changing blockchain landscape. 

Number of the Week

Crypto traders signed up by Binance in the first week of its launch in Uganda, a country where 75% of the population does not have bank accounts.

The Main Story | Crypto is an Institutional Investment Class - Morgan Stanley

Institutional investors are increasingly getting involved in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – while the number of retail investors in the space is staying stagnant – according to a new report by Morgan Stanley. Perhaps most notably, the report emphasized its writers' view of the market's "rapidly morphing thesis," which began by defining bitcoin as "digital cash" and noting that investors had full confidence in it, to a solution for issues in the financial system, to a new payment system to ultimately a new institutional investment class.

As such, the market's current thesis appears to be that bitcoin is a "new institutional investment class," and has been for almost a year, the authors wrote. The amount of crypto assets under management has been increasing since January 2016, with $7.11 billion currently being stored by hedge funds, venture capital firms and private equity firms. That being said, the report did cite three issues clients had with investing in the cryptocurrency space: regulatory uncertainty, a lack of regulated custodian solutions and a current lack of large financial institutions in the space.

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Singapore | Startups Riding Blockchains

Blockchain continues to be the hot topic in the global startup ecosystem. And, more entrepreneurs are placing huge bets on this technology. This article takes a look at 4 startups in Singapore that are harnessing the power of this technology for good by tackling big opportunities in personal data protection, organizing decentralized data, insurance contracts and providing decentralized credit by bridging the world of crypto and fiat. 

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Business | Maersk's Bad Business Model Is Breaking Its Blockchain

Maersk—the largest shipping container company in the world—took the bold step of forming a blockchain-enabled platform called TradeLens to transform the shipping industry. However, up until now, only a single shipper has signed on to use the platform. In the world of blockchains, where incentives align interests, it is unclear why would Maersks’ competitors want to use a technology platform (and fledgling at that!) that would enrich Maersk directly?

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Markets | How much have ICOs raised in 2018?

So far this year, initial coin offerings have raised $22 billion, or half of that -- depending on where you look. With the cryptocurrency market nearly 80 percent off its peak, a critical question is exactly how much the ICO boom has deflated. That becomes harder to answer when even the most commonly used websites that track the phenomenon disagree on the figures. With the ability to trace actual transactions, on-chain data are more reliable and comprehensive. The downside is that on-chain data don’t capture investments in fiat currency.
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Cryptocurrencies | CryptoKitties Maker Doubles in Valuation

Dapper Labs, a year-old Vancouver, B.C.-based startup behind the popular digital collectibles, announced a $15 million round led by Venrock. CryptoKitties are digital cats that can be collected and breeded. They are purchased and traded on the Ethereum blockchain network. It is based on the idea of digital scarcity — a new take on trading and collecting baseball or Pokémon cards, for example. Total funding to date is $27.8 million.

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Energy | GE Building Virtual Power Plants

GE is investigating blockchain to potentially incorporate the technology into a virtual power plant offering, likely delivered via the company’s Predix platform. “With the move toward distributed, the types of plants that are of interest in different parts of the world seem to be changing. There’s interest in more medium-sized, more throttle-able plants. There’s also interest in front-ending those plants with energy storage.”  GE is increasingly being asked about plants with shared ownership structures or, at the other end of the scale, aggregated assets coordinated to work in unison, Martin explained. 

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Tech | Nasdaq Integrates Microsoft Azure

Microsoft announced it would be bringing its Azure blockchain technology to Nasdaq’s Financial Framework (NFF) system. Nasdaq’s Financial Framework will integrate with Microsoft’s Azure blockchain to build a platform that does not rely on one particular distributed ledger. Microsoft claims that this integration will address interoperability challenges to create a blockchain system that allows various technologies to work together.

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Research | EOS Lacks Immutability, say ConsenSys & Whiteblock

A research commissioned by ConsenSys and conducted by blockchain testing company based in Los Angeles, Whiteblock, said that the world’s fifth-largest cryptocurrency, EOS, is not a blockchain, but a ‘cloud service’. The tests that were carried in laboratory settings ran a replica of EOS and the company concluded that EOS is essentially a cloud service for computation. They came to the inference as it is built entirely on a centralized premise and that it lacks blockchain’s most basic aspect, immutability. This will surely escalate. 
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The Final Word | Now Buy A Hublot with Bitcoin

Swiss watchmaker Hublot, introduced a limited-edition timepiece that’s exclusively available for purchase with Bitcoin, 10 years after the digital currency was first created. The watch, made for Hublot’s Big Bang line, costs about $25,000, Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Guadalupe said at an event in Hong Kong. It’s the world’s first major luxury brand to offer a product that can only be bought with Bitcoin. 

Hublot is partnering with Hong Kong-based digital-asset brokerage Octagon Strategy Ltd., which will perform background and anti-money-laundering checks and handle payment services. Orders have already exceeded the limited run of 210 pieces, Octagon CEO Wayne Trench said. The customers whose applications have been accepted will receive a purchase agreement at a predetermined Bitcoin strike date, with deliveries starting in January. 

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About Proteum
Proteum is a global blockchain advisory firm that works with public, private and start-up companies to help them transition into the world of blockchains and decentralized applications. We help companies strategically build their capabilities so that they can own and control their future. Let's put blockchains to work for your business. |  | Twitter: @proteumio | Telegram