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Tiny $217 Options Trade on Bitcoin Blockchain Could Be Wall Street’s Death Knell

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Tiny $217 Options Trade on Bitcoin Blockchain Could Be Wall Street’s Death Knell

The cryptocurrency industry isn’t replacing Wall Street just yet. But inventors and entrepreneurs are working on it, with some initial success, albeit modest.

In this case, an option premium of 0.0202 bitcoin ($217 at the time) paid via a smart contract may have just become the proof of concept.

The latest target for blockchain disruption is options trading tied to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the main benchmark for U.S. stocks. It’s a massive market, with roughly $400 billion of the options changing hands every day last year, on average.

Under the current setup, Wall Street firms typically execute the trades and handle the settlement afterward – essentially making sure the securities end up in the buyer’s account, and that the cash ends up with the seller. But for investors, the process can be expensive, due to the middlemen fees being charged, and slow, with settlement typically taking a day or two.

In July, Emmanuel Goh, CEO of London-based firm skew., a startup specializing in analytical tools for the crypto industry, says he came up with the idea of using the bitcoin blockchain – the decentralized computer network underpinning the decade-old cryptocurrency – to trade S&P 500 options.

Goh was previously a trader in London for JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, where he slung options on auto, chemical, consumer and industrial stocks. In other words, the options market is an arena he knows well, at least in the traditional sense. Earlier this month, skew. (which spells its name with a period) announced $2 million in seed funding from several venture capital firms, including the Silicon Valley icon Kleiner Perkins.

The S&P options project was entirely experimental, Goh told CoinDesk – the challenge was mainly to see if it could be done. (The publicity probably doesn’t hurt, either.) Since the trade would essentially be automated via computer programming, it would be less expensive to conduct and settle a lot faster, maybe in just 10 or 15 minutes, according to Goh.

Goh said the technology that made it possible comes from Crypto Garage, a subsidiary of the publicly traded, Tokyo-based tech firm Digital Garage. Crypto Garage has developed an expertise in smart contracts, small strings of programming that can be encoded into the bitcoin blockchain to run when activated.

The transaction needed to cross on the bitcoin blockchain, Goh said, because it’s the most secure in the industry, even though smart contracts are generally considered easier to program on the ethereum network.

The transaction

So on Sept. 6, Goh says, he took some British pounds from an in-house research-and-development fund at skew. converted those into bitcoin, and then used the proceeds to buy 10 S&P 500 call spreads – a popular type of option – from Crypto Garage, all under a new smart contract, with terms agreed to by both counterparties in minutes. The expiration date for the options was set for the third Friday of the month, similar to the standard practice on many exchanges.

At the outset, Skew. paid an option premium of 0.0202 bitcoin ($217 at the time) via the smart contract, and Crypto Garage posted 0.04667 bitcoin as collateral.

On Sept. 20, the expiration date, the smart contract automatically used a price feed from Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange (parent company of the New York Stock Exchange) to establish the final price for the S&P 500.

The trade went in skew.’s favor, resulting in a payout of 0.036 bitcoin ($365 at the time). Crypto Garage got 0.01 bitcoin of its collateral back. (Skew later sent some money back to Crypto Garage, as a true-up.)

Above is an image produced with data from the bitcoin blockchain – the trade settlement, at expiry. Initially daunting, it’s the elegant simplicity here that is the promise of a blockchain-driven future.

At the top, that string of letters and numbers in blue is the ID number for the transaction. On the left, the blue string is the address where the collateral is stored, and the white number is the amount of collateral, in BTC. On the right, the top blue string is the address of the winning counterparty in the trade, which got back the white number of bitcoin, and the blue address just below that is for the losing counterparty, which gets back the leftover collateral. In yellow, on the lower right, it shows that the transaction was confirmed 2068 times by the blockchain and then the yellow number of bitcoin is the total BTC proceeds distributed to the two counterparties from the collateral, after deducting the fees.

Scaling limitations

For Goh, the big takeaway from the exercise is that it worked.

“The trade settlement took 45 minutes to process, with total transaction costs equal to a few U.S. dollars,” he said. “The smart contract knows exactly how much the parties will get back.”

In theory, he says, the cost would have remained the same even if the notional amount of the trade had stretched into the millions or billions of dollars.

The important part, he says, is that “you don’t have all the intermediaries.”

Could the new process be scaled up to handle the volume of S&P options trades currently handled by securities firms? Probably not without improvements to the bitcoin blockchain’s processing capacity, Goh says. But a lot of programmers are working on doing just that.

In the annals of technological breakthroughs, it’s not exactly Ben Franklin hanging a key on the end of a kite. But the little $217 options trade might be a step forward in making financial markets cheaper and faster to use – with less Wall Street involvement.

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Altcoin News

Is Crypto Growing In Africa?

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Is Crypto Growing In Africa
Is Crypto Growing In Africa?

Crypto adoption is making significant advances in Africa, with crypto ownership, trade volume, and regulation all moving toward greater adoption. A recent report by Arcane Research and Luno found that Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya are frequently among the top 10 countries by Google searches for the word “Bitcoin.” The report describes the continent as “one of, if not the most promising region for the adoption of cryptocurrencies,” emphasizing Africa’s combination of low existing crypto adoption alongside an “enormous” domain possibility. The firms emphasize that Africa exhibits a young population, frequent monetary crises and currency failures, large unbanked or underbanked populations, and expensive means of payment.

While Nigeria has long dominated the continent’s trade volume, the report found that South Africa has the highest percent of cryptocurrency ownership or use among internet users in Africa with 13%, followed by Nigeria with 11%. Worldwide, South Africa ranks fifth for crypto adoption among connected citizens. This past week saw South Africa post its second-strongest weekly volume on peer-to-peer Bitcoin (BTC) marketplace Localbitcoins, with nearly $1.65 million worth of BTC changing hands.

Weekly Localbitcoins trade volume: Coin.dance

The surge in trade activity saw total P2P volume for South African trade edge out Kenya last week with $1.95 million in trade across Localbitcoins and Paxful. Last month, South Africa’s financial regulator issued a policy document asserting that crypto-assets and activities relating to virtual currencies “can no longer remain outside of the regulatory perimeter.”

Nigerian P2P trade is rallying to record highs, producing $9.2 million in combined weekly trade. Kenyan trade has also seen a recent spike, with Localbitcoins trade between BTC and the Kenyan shilling producing its second-strongest week on record for the third consecutive time. Morocco and Egypt have also posted record trade activity in recent weeks. The increase in volume across the continent has also seen P2P volume from Sub Saharan Africa beat out Latin America for the first time.

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Altcoin News

Craig Wright Says He Did Not Transfer ‘Satoshi’ Coins, Leaving Him in Legal Catch-22

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Craig Wright Says He Did Not Transfer ‘Satoshi’ Coins, Leaving Him in Legal Catch-22
Craig Wright Says He Did Not Transfer ‘Satoshi’ Coins, Leaving Him in Legal Catch-22

Bitcoin’s SV’s billionaire benefactor Calvin Ayre revealed Satoshi claimant Craig Wright has denied moving 50 BTC from a long-dormant address thought by some to belong to the Bitcoin founder. On Wednesday, an unknown party moved 50 BTC ⁠— roughly $486,000 worth — from an address containing coins mined barely one month after the launch of the Bitcoin mainnet in 2009. But in a Twitter response to Blockstream’s Adam Back, Ayre said it had nothing to do with Wright:

“It was NOT Satoshi, I just spoke with him and Craig confirmed not him.”

However, the address in question, 17XiVVooLcdCUCMf9s4t4jTExacxwFS5uh, is among the 16,000 listed in a court document in the Kleinman v. Wright case, that Wright claims as his own. The Catch-22 in this situation is that Wright has denied in court he has access to the private keys to the addresses, so if he said he moved the 50 BTC he’d be in trouble. However if someone else moved the coins, that would indicate the address does not belong to him, again leaving him in a potentially sticky legal situation. If Ayre is to be believed regarding Wright’s denial, the latter could face serious complications in the ongoing trial. The judge has already questioned Wright’s credibility on more than one occasion.

Prior to Ayre’s response, the movement of 50 BTC from the dormant wallet had many in the crypto community asking whether Nakamoto himself was back. The wallet address is not one associated with the Bitcoin creator, but the 11-year gap in activity still caused a 5% drop in BTC price — from the $9,700s to $9,400s — when the news broke.

Wright’s denial should stem any fears he’s about to sell off a large amount of Bitcoin. In 2018, he posted an ominous warning on Slack, explaining in detail how he’d be selling a “large volume of BTC” around the time of a halving that would tank the price. Others in the crypto community, however, are highly skeptical the tokens belong to either Nakamoto or Wright. Blockstream founder Adam Back thinks if the real Satoshi were to liquidate some of his holdings, he would choose a more anonymous address.

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Bitcoin News

Does ISIS Have $300M In A Bitcoin ‘War Chest’?

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Does ISIS Have $300M In A Bitcoin ‘War Chest’
Does ISIS Have $300M In A Bitcoin ‘War Chest’?

Blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis has published a report debunking a number of popular narratives surrounding the use of crypto to finance terrorism. The report emphasizes the harm of false reporting in spreading misinformation and damaging the reputation of firms operating with virtual currencies. As “a trusted investigative partner to governments around the world, preventing terrorists from using cryptocurrency is one of our primary objectives,” Chainalysis states. “It’s a serious task, and it’s important to be responsible and judicious when releasing information on a subject as consequential as terrorism financing.”

Chainalysis cites reports from over the last week claiming that ISIS’s missing $300 million war chest is being held in Bitcoin (BTC). Despite being expressed as a certainty in mainstream reporting, the primary source for the reports, Hans-Jakob Schindler, director of the Counter Extremism Project think-tank, merely suggested that cryptocurrencies “might have been one of the ways [the funds] might have been used.” Apart from highlighting how Schindler’s claims had been beaten up, Chainalysis said that “Schindler’s theory is highly unlikely” in any case.

“We know that most terrorism financing campaigns have raised less than $10,000, indicating limited adoption. Further, if ISIS had funneled oil proceeds into Bitcoin, trading volume of regional exchanges and money service businesses would have reflected this flow of funds.”

The report also notes poorly founded claims that ISIS funded its 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka using Bitcoin, citing Chainalysis’ 2020 Crypto Crime Report in refuting that crypto was used as a means to fund the attacks. However, a separate report from the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research released today, shows the ISIS offshoots in South East Asia have been using crypto for money laundering.

At the start of the year, reports claimed that the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza had raised $24 million through the local money service business Cash4PS. Chainalysis noted significant flaws underpinning the story, asserting that the reports assumed that every single transfer to Cash4PS wallets was related to terror financing without evidence. Further, the majority of funds received by Cash4PS wallets were from other addresses within the Cash4PS network, with Chainalysis estimating that only $1 million was transferred into the network from external sources.

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