Blockchain Bites: Square's Green Bitcoin Pledge, $15B AUM in Crypto Funds

Crypto markets are trading sideways, while Spain's second-largest bank is reportedly planning a leap into the digital asset industry.

AccessTimeIconDec 8, 2020 at 5:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:39 a.m. UTC
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Square will invest in environmentally conscious bitcoin tech. Spain's second-largest bank is reportedly planning a leap into the digital asset industry. And large crypto funds topped a combined $15 billion AUM, as markets trade sideways. 

Top shelf

Greening the orangecoin
Square has announced the launch of a Bitcoin Clean Energy Investment Initiative, where it has committed $10 million to support companies working on green energy technologies within the bitcoin mining sector. Announced Tuesday, the company said it aims to become a net-zero carbon contributor for operations by 2030 and wants to help drive the adoption and efficiency of renewables within the bitcoin ecosystem. “We believe that cryptocurrency will eventually be powered completely by clean power, eliminating its carbon footprint and driving adoption of renewables globally," said Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. "

Spain's second-largest
BBVA, the second-largest bank in Spain, with about $840 billion in assets, is planning a crypto industry entrance by way of Switzerland, according to two sources. BBVA would not comment, but is said to be “launching its Europe-wide crypto initiative from Switzerland,” according to a close source. “There are still some compliance hurdles, but I expect [BBVA] will be live next month,” they said. BBVA is rumored to have integrated a digital asset custody solution, called SILO, and was among the first financial institutions to experiment with public and private blockchains in 2018.

Qualified investors?
Alternative investment intermediary Vincent is seeing record interest in crypto as it launches out of beta. Between October and November, “investors looking for digital assets have grown 80%,” said Vincent co-founder Slava Rubin. Built by the team behind Indiegogo, Vincent is a kind of investment search engine, where qualified investors can browse for opportunities – actual fundraising occurs on regulated partner platforms – like regulated crypto deals from Grayscale, Republic and Cadence, among other non-crypto businesses. “Considering digital assets today represent less than 10% of the total available deal volume on Vincent, there is significant room to grow,” Rubin said. (Grayscale is a sister company to CoinDesk.)

$15B AUM
Large crypto funds are riding high, with an estimated $15 billion in assets under management (AUM), an all-time high, according to CoinShare’s data. By comparison, there was $2.57 billion in AUM at the close of 2019. CoinShares, a digital asset manager, told Reuters on Monday that large-scale cryptocurrency funds saw an inflow of $429 million last week alone. The largest-ever weekly inflow was $468 million seen three weeks ago.

Ethereum, Nervos?
Huobi, one of the “Big Three” Chinese exchanges, is tapping the public Nervos blockchain for its dollar-pegged stablecoin, HUSD, issued by Huobi-backed Stable Universal Limited. This is the first dollar-pegged stablecoin to go live on Nervos, which is sometimes called China’s answer to Ethereum. Currently, HUSD is an ERC-20 token based on the Ethereum blockchain that has its dollars in reserve by Paxos Trust Company. With this integration, it will also be on the Nervos blockchain through the sUDT technical standard, a native token standard launched by Nervos to compete with Ethereum’s ERC-20.

Privacy inoculation
Blockchain-based “immunity passports” don’t resolve core privacy concerns, according to new research from Harry Halpin. “Identity systems based on globally unique identifiers are by nature against privacy, and putting them on a blockchain does not change this fundamental dichotomy,” said Halpin, the author of the paper “Vision: A Critique of Immunity Passports and W3C Decentralized Identifiers” and the CEO of NYM, a privacy startup developing a mixnet. “In fact, putting this data on a blockchain tends to make privacy problems worse, and it’s not clear that hand-waving about zero-knowledge proofs really changes the situation.”

Quick bites

  • BLOCK-U-SIGN? The simple reason DocuSign doesn’t use blockchain. (Quartz)
  • DERIBIT DEGEN? How one bitcoin options trader turned $638,000 into $4.4 million in five weeks. (CoinDesk)
  • STILL FEARED: Rebranded Libra still a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” according to German Finance Minister. (CoinDesk)
  • TOKEN TRANSMOGRIFICATION: Blockstack’s stacks tokens could be tradable in U.S. after the launch of its new Stack 2.0 blockchain. (CoinDesk)
  • MACRO STRATEGY: MicroStrategy will raise an additional $400 million to fund yet more bitcoin allocations. (CoinDesk)
  • ‘ABSOLUTELY INEVITABLE': Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters says about digital currencies adoption. (CNBC)
  • TRACED FASHION: International fashion brand Desigual will employ the Marco blockchain for supply chain transparency. (CoinDesk)
  • $1M NFTs: Cryptocurrency artist Murat Pak becomes the first to earn $1 million. (Decrypt)
  • SIGNALING SECRECY? MobileCoin, a crypto with associations to Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike, quietly launched with trading on FTX. (CoinDesk)

Market intel

Deja vu – 2017?
Bitcoin is facing selling pressure on Tuesday. The leading cryptocurrency dropped below $19,000, a more than 2% decline on the day, according to CoinDesk 20 data. The decline comes after multiple rejections near $19,400 in the past 48 hours, CoinDesk’s Omkar Godbole reports. Large sell orders were placed around the all-time high of $19,920, capping the upside, as traders look poised to liquidate their holdings. For instance, the balance held in “accumulation addresses,” i.e., large bags, has declined by over 4% to 2,698,719 bitcoin in the past three weeks, according to data source Glassnode.

At stake

Squaring the circle?
In the period before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, several Democrat lawmakers have come out swinging against favorable, crypto-focused guidance issued under the Trump administration. 

Most notably is the Stablecoin Tethering and Bank Licensing Enforcement (STABLE) Act, introduced by U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) last week. 

The bill, if passed, would essentially treat stablecoin issuers as deposit holders and therefore be subject to certain banking regulations. As Blockchain Bites reported earlier, much of the crypto community has come out against the proposed legislation – with many saying it fails to understand the nature of decentralized, programmable money and would hinder the growth of an emergent industry. 

It’s a bit of a black box how a President Biden will run his administration, especially regarding financial matters. While campaigned he told rich donors, i.e., Wall Street, “nothing would fundamentally change" if he's elected. And he has gone on to nominate or float financially lenient regulators, such as Janet Yellen, for cabinet positions. 

Yellen is on record as saying she believes the U.S. financial regulators should allow blockchain and cryptocurrency projects to develop, saying in 2015 the Federal Reserve and other regulators might have “limited authority” over digital currency systems.

That said, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire believes the incoming administration will “ultimately be supportive of cryptocurrency because it represents a seismic shift as large as the commercial internet.” Allaire’s Circle is part of the CENTRE consortium that oversees the USDC stablecoin.

The Biden administration is “going to be focused on infrastructure changes that make America more competitive, and this is absolutely going to be a core building block in that,” Allaire said on CNBC. He did not comment on the STABLE Act directly, but noted there are moderates in office that believe in constructive approaches to regulation. 

If the economy is the biggest story in this election cycle, the growing crypto dollar sector – now over $20 billion – is hard to ignore. 

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