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  • Writer's pictureMike V.


You Can Now Shop With Bitcoin on Amazon Using Lightning

Bitcoin spenders can now use the lightning network to shop at e-commerce sites like Amazon. Crypto payment processing startup Moon announced that any lightning-enabled wallet can now also be used through Moon’s browser extension. Before this lightning feature, roughly 250 beta users already used Moon to spend crypto on e-commerce sites by connecting the browser extension to exchange accounts like Coinbase. Moon CEO Ken Kruger “The extension will pop up a QR code and it will have the lightning invoice, which you could also copy and paste if you can’t use the QR code for some reason, and you’ll be able to pay with your favorite lightning wallet.”

Visa Next's API set could streamline digital transactions (V)

The first set of beta APIs enable Visa partners to create digital money management tools that will give issuers the ability to offer more flexible digital payment capabilities.

Create new digital card accounts on demand. They can also add newly issued or existing cards to the platform to build solutions that combine multiple Visa digital services.

Activate tokens to enable digital accounts to be used in e-commerce and in mobile wallets. The APIs can also enable mobile devices to make contactless or QR payments.

Share digital companion cards and control them in real time. The bigger picture: Visa Next can streamline digital transactions in a number of ways — which can ease digital transactions on both the provider and consumer side.

The ability to set specific card controls could facilitate account sharing for consumers. Visa provided the example of parents instantly creating a Visa card on their children's mobile device rather than giving them cash. The child would be spending from the parent's bank account or credit line, but the parent would have the ability to set specific spend controls including up to what time the child can use the card and at what specific types of merchants. This capability could "set a level of fidelity around the payment that doesn't exist right now," Sam Shrauger, SVP.

The APIs could enable payment platforms to accelerate their global expansion by tapping into Visa's expansive merchant network. Visa gave the example of "super apps," which reach almost all aspects of a consumer's life and are popular in Asia. These apps are typically used domestically, but Visa said its clients and partners could use the APIs to turn wallet balances from the super apps into digital Visa cards. Consumers could then spend the balance wherever Visa is accepted, allowing them to use their preferred payment method even in a country where it's not accepted. Though Visa didn't point to one super app specifically, the API could benefit firms like WeChat Pay, which is an extremely popular super app in China. So far, its expansion efforts have been successful: Chinese tourists paid for 32% of transactions overseas with their phones in 2018, overtaking cash for the first time. The upswing in mobile payments is likely because of the increased availability of WeChat Pay — and its main rival Alipay — in popular tourist destinations. WeChat Pay could speed up its expansion by using these APIs, which give it access to Visa's network of 43.9 million merchant locations across 200 countries.

Samsung Tests Ethereum Blockchain (ERC20) Token

Samsung Electronics is reportedly developing an Ethereum-based token and is currently in the process of creating a mainnet. A source of the publication within Samsung Electronics said that the blockchain task force of the company has already tested several versions of a blockchain protocol on top of Ethereum. “Blockchain task force made several models and are evaluating . There are already several platforms that are functioning after some internal tests,”

Can IBM's World Wire Be The Answer To Cryptocurrency Payments?

If cryptocurrencies were the flavor of 2017, and 2019 is all about enterprise blockchain usage, then it is also important to note the quiet amalgamation of these two that has been bubbling under: the institutionalized cross-border blockchain payment solution. Everyone knows that one of Bitcoin’s most significant assets is its borderless nature and that it can be used as a cross-border payment solution. However, the decentralized nature of Bitcoin has hamstrung its widespread adoption somewhat, and several companies have thus spotted a niche in the traditional market. First, there was Ripple, one of only three blockchain-first companies that was recently named in the Forbes Blockchain 50 list, that has made its mandate to partner with large and institutionalized financial institutions and banks. Ripple has, as of January this year, announced over 200 partnerships with well-known financial institutions to offer cross-border payment solutions. Ripple, as a blockchain-first startup, was always in danger of being usurped by prominent and powerful names coming in to steal its market. Some believe this has already happened. JP Morgan Chase this year also announced its own blockchain-based cross-border payment solution experiment, the JPM Coin.

The competitive battle for a viable and workable solution has continued as blockchain backer IBM has also come forward with their own solution, the Blockchain World Wire. IBM already has a considerable stake in the burgeoning blockchain market with Hyperledger Fabric the most-used in the Forbes Blockchain 50 list, accounting for 26.

Don't Call It A Comeback: With Two Bills, U.S. Lawmakers Aim To Give New Life to Non-Security Tokens

It has been an eventful few days in the crypto community, especially for the lawyers. But as blockchain lawyers throughout the Twitter-verse, the LinkedIn-mosphere and beyond issue-spot and analyze the potential implications, complications and limitations of the Bills and the Token Guidance, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on how remarkable and powerful it is to have broad bi-partisan support for non-security token sales. In the past 10 days, federal regulators and legislators may have breathed new life into a U.S. blockchain and crypto industry that – outside of states like Wyoming – had begun to resemble a repeat of the traditional financial space, including with respect to who may participate. For those who sounded the death knell for the non-security token sale, it is time to unring that bell. “The lack of regulatory certainty in the U.S., combined with confusing, spasmodic guidance from the SEC, and an inconsistent patchwork of court decisions, has capital and innovation fleeing the U.S. market for the welcoming certainty of other jurisdictions.” Representative Davidson's statement echoed the sentiment of many in the blockchain space, who have repeatedly and vocally sought bright-line answers and safe “swim lanes” for digital token sales. Yet, those deceptively “simple,” black-and-white results may be extraordinarily difficult for U.S. regulators to provide, as certain key existing legal frameworks (such as the Howey test, used to determine whether a digital asset sale is the sale of an investment contract and, hence, a security) are principles-based and intentionally involve highly individualized, facts-and-circumstances-based analyses. Initial reactions from certain lawmakers, market participants and lawyers to the SEC’s Token Guidance have been mixed. Some – including this author, as will be explained in a separate piece – view the very existence of the Token Framework and the TKJ No-Action Letter as meaningful steps forward for the industry and the future of bona fide non-security token sales. Others lament that the Token Framework, while potentially useful as an analytical tool, represents the SEC Staff’s non-binding views and introduces new terminology and questions, rather than that elusive “legal clarity.”

South Korean Gen X’ers Purchase $11,000 of Crypto

South Koreans are keen to invest in crypto and millennials aren’t out front this time. According to a new survey, bitcoin is becoming more popular among South Korean investors. The survey was performed by the Korea Financial Investors Protections Foundation, which canvassed 2,500 South Koreans between the ages of 25 and 64 at year-end 2018 across Seoul and five other of the country’s biggest cities. Results reveal that 7.4% of South Koreans polled own crypto, which is up from 6.4% in the prior year. The average size of the allocation is roughly $6,100, reflecting a 64% increase over the prior 12 months. South Korean investors demonstrated resilience during the prolonged crypto winter. It’s widely cited that millennials fuel much of the demand in crypto. Yet, it’s Gen X-ers that are pouring the most funds into this space in the country. South Koreans in their 50’s are allocating an average of $11,000 into crypto, which is close to twice the average amount and is followed by investors in their 40’s and 30’s, respectively. Institutional Holders, 1st Quarter 2019

Shares Owned Shares Purchased

Allianz Global Investors U.S. 2,051,824 27,309

BlackRock Fund Advisors 1,426,191 94,143

Susquehanna Financial Group 1,237,536 55,069

New Jersey Division of Investment 1,083,000 1,083,000

Contrarius Investment Mgt 929,328 724,330

SSgA Funds Mgt 781,318 21,662

Penserra Capital Mgt 525,571 85,888

Lee Danner & Bass Inc. 503,645 1,745

Point72 Asset Mgt 399,712 399,712

JPMorgan Investment Mgt 380,225 380,225

Goldman Sachs & Co. 319,283 243,936

Northern Trust Investments 300,519 18,240

Group One Trading 289,101 11,926

Toroso Investments 255,714 255,714

OZ Management 255,600 255,600

Balyasny Asset Mgt 238,608 171,141

Federated MDTA 223,238 223,238

Nomura Securities Co. 161,696 161,696

Jane Street Capital 136,302 123,482

Charles Schwab Investment Mgt 122,207 18,192

AXA Rosenberg Investment Mgt 109,600 42,400

Barclays Capital 100,594 67,162

Simplex Trading 100,017 35,977

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) 83,785 37,738

EQIS Capital Mgt Inc. 83,065 61,403

Susquehanna Investment 80,616 43,775

BlackRock Investment Mgt 77,513 7,601

Quantitative Investment Mgt 77,400 77,400

Walleye Trading Advisors 74,161 74,161

UBS Securities 67,997 67,327

BlackRock Advisors 62,784 31,161

Wolverine Asset Mgt 53,500 53,500

DWS Investment 48,733 14,831

Barclays Bank 45,304 37,108

Vanguard Fiduciary Trust Co. 44,802 3,768

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