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Airbnb Co-Founder Backs $23 Million Funding Round for Institutional Cryptocurrency Dealer

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nstitutional-grade cryptocurrency prime dealer SFOX has raised nearly $23 million to fund the development of full-featured asset management platform for large-scale cryptocurrency investors.

Announced on Thursday, FOX’s $22.7 million Series A funding round was led by Tribe Capital and Social Capital, and it also included investments from Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, Blockchain Capital, and Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

SFOX helps institutional investors execute large cryptocurrency trades, routing orders through a myriad of exchanges and over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk, enabling them to capture the best available prices while also minimizing the impact that large orders have on cryptocurrency prices in the spot markets.

“The distributed nature of cryptocurrency has given rise to a large breadth of exchanges around the globe, creating a fragmented market and limited liquidity,” said Akbar Thobhani, CEO of SFOX. “Over the last four years, we’ve been able to provide our clients a single point of access and the best price execution by building the necessary smart routing technology to navigate and connect these global markets and exchanges.”

crypto hedge fund
SFOX works primarily with institutional and other high net worth investors.

The company says that it has processed a total of $9 billion in transaction volume since its launch in 2014 and has seen its client base grow 12-fold in 2018, even as the cryptocurrency market has suffered under the weight of a severe downturn. That’s not entirely surprising, as declining trading volumes have made it harder for investors to enter or exit large positions without causing violent price swings that ripple throughout the entire market.

Reflecting on how institutional investors have warmed to cryptocurrency since SFOX’s launch four years ago, Thobhani told CCN that he now spends far less time than he used to educating prospective clients on the basics of the industry — answering questions such as “What is Bitcoin?” — and more time explaining the nuances of the difference between various asset classes, as well as best practices for managing their cryptoassets.

Thobhani told CCN that SFOX plans to use its new capital to solve additional “pain points” for institutions throughout the trading process, from KYC/AML onboarding to post-trade reporting.

He said, “institutions are looking for more than just trading. Institutions for example, look for reporting so they can manage their accounting better. To support them, we provide unified reporting to our customers. SFOX provides a complete-suite solution for institutions, from KYC / AML APIs for onboarding, pre-trade analysis using our data analytics, to post-trade management using our reporting solutions. We will be using the capital we raised to build more tools to solve for these additional pain points for institutions and provide a complete crypto asset management platform.”

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China’s Tsinghua University Partners with Ripple to Create Blockchain Research Scholarship Program

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From the moment that Ripple first launched its platform, it has been looking for ways to spread cryptocurrency and their own products throughout the industry.

They have even managed to cross a major milestone as they established over 200 partnerships involving 40 separate countries. One of their most recent partnerships involves Tsinghua University, in an effort to launch a new scholarship program that will educate students in China.

While China has held a strict anti-crypto stance, the same has not been true of blockchain technology.

The program, which will be called the Blockchain Technology Research Scholarship program, is the combined venture of Ripple and the Tsinghua University Institute of Financial Technology (THUIFR). This university is one of the top schools in all of China, though THUIFTR was not started until 2017. It has been a collaborative effort between Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences, PBC School of Finance, School of Software and Law School at Tsinghua University.

As students participate in the program, they will learn about the ins and outs of blockchain technology. On Twitter, THUIFR claims to have already hosted a seminar, titled “Innovation and Development of Digital Currency and its Regulatory Path.”

The partnership with Ripple will allow the program to launch in China, focusing clearly on the international regulations that govern the blockchain. Ivy Gao, the Director of International Cooperation and Development for THUIFR, said,

“Most importantly, I believe, this program will greatly help with their future research or career in the field of blockchain technology.”

The SVP of Global Operation at Ripple, Eric van Miltenburg, said,

“The program’s goal – to provide students with opportunities in blockchain research – closely aligns with that of Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative. We’re thrilled to support THUIFR in this endeavor and look forward to its launch.”

Ripple has created an impressive reputation for itself as a major player in the fintech world. There are multiple banks using its xRapid product as their own blockchain solution, with more being added as the word spreads. However, it is perhaps the unique philosophy of Ripple’s platform and products that appeals to China, considering the substantial difference from that of Bitcoin’s ideology.

Their token has become the second-most valuable crypto asset, which could be due to the pattern of collaboration between financial institutions, governments, and universities.

According to the most recent data provided by CoinMarketCap, Ripple is presently being traded at $0.3175, ranking second by market capitalization.

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Was November the Last Big Bitcoin Sell-Off? Trader Expects Slow Grind in 2019

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By CCN.com: According to a trader and crypto technical analyst, November 2018 may have been the last sell-off of Bitcoin and a long consolidation period is expected throughout 2019.

Since experiencing a steep 13 percent drop on January 10 from $4,036 to $3,502, the Bitcoin price has been relatively stable in a tight range in mid-$3,000.

Chart from TradingView

What Does Low Volatility Mean For Bitcoin?

While it seems as if the price of Bitcoin has been volatile throughout the past two weeks, the volatility of the dominant cryptocurrency occurred in a tight range between $3,500 to $4,000.

No major movements below or above key support and resistance levels were recorded, preventing any meaningful short-term price movement.

One trader said that if the trend of relatively low volatility in a tight low price range continues, the sideways action of Bitcoin will extend throughout the year, resulting in a long consolidation period.

“The longer this sideways action takes place the more I think the bottom is in. November was one of the worst monthly candles in history. It’s very possible that was the last of the major selling and now we’ll have a consolidation period that lasts most of 2019,” the trader said.

bitcoin price
The trader is predicting bitcoin to trade sideways through much of 2019. Pic: Shutterstock.

On Sunday, Bitcoin recorded a six percent drop against the U.S. dollar in a 24-hour period from $3,700 to $3,470. The asset has since recovered above the $3,500 mark and based on the performance of the asset in the last 48 hours, Bitcoin is expected to demonstrate stability throughout the week.

Hsaka, a cryptocurrency analyst, said:

Inside Bar; Low that was taken out (3480) holding as support; Continue leaning neutral here, can’t short HTF support, will wait for a break (even moreso when confluent with that CME gap).

A slow grind upwards in the first two quarters of 2019 could allow Bitcoin to establish a proper bottom and a mid-term trend reversal. If the price of asset recovers quickly in a short time period, as seen in the major sell-off of cryptocurrencies in November 2018, it can leave the asset class vulnerable to a large short-term correction.

With events that are considered as catalysts to fuel the momentum of Bitcoin in the first two quarters of this year including Bakkt and Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) far from being materialized due to the shutdown of the U.S. government, it has become more likely for the cryptocurrency market to demonstrate a low level of volatility in the upcoming months.

How About Alternative Crypto Assets?

Historically, alternative crypto assets, especially low market cap cryptocurrencies, have tended to perform strongly against Bitcoin when the asset is in a sideways market.

However, as seen in the performance of tokens and other major crypto assets in the past 48 hours, the stability in Bitcoin is unlikely to trigger short-term rallies for assets with lower volumes and valuations due to the current conditions of the market.

Some analysts believe November to have been the last sell-off for Bitcoin and expect a several-month-long consolidation period to occur.

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Dow Futures Prep for Opening Bell Plunge as Bitcoin Price Turns Volatile

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By CCN.com: The US stock market returns to action this morning following Monday’s holiday break, and the Dow is gearing up for a triple-digit loss at the opening bell. The bitcoin price, meanwhile, experienced a jolt of volatility ahead of the US trading session to break out of what had previously been a relatively calm day for the cryptocurrency market.

Dow Futures See Triple-Digit Pullback

As of 8:29 am ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures had declined by 144 points or 0.58 percent, implying an opening-bell loss of 135.35 points. The broad S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq also steeled themselves for losses at the open, with futures for the two indices down 0.60 percent and 0.68 percent, respectively.

dow jones futures nasdaq S&P 500
Dow Jones Industrial Average (blue), S&P 500 (red), and Nasdaq (orange) futures declined on Monday and Tuesday ahead of the week’s opening bell.

With the US stock market closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, futures trading had nevertheless portended Tuesday declines. As CCN reported, China published its official GDP growth statistics for 2018, which showed that the world’s second-largest economy had expanded at its slowest pace in 28 years.

That data emboldened US President Donald Trump, who implored China to “stop playing around” and “finally do a Real Deal” that would end the ongoing US-China trade war.

“China posts slowest economic numbers since 1990 due to U.S. trade tensions and new policies,” the president tweeted on Tuesday. “Makes so much sense for China to finally do a Real Deal, and stop playing around!”

Hu Xijin, the editor of the China-based Global Times, responded to that tweet with a warning that Beijing won’t sign an “unequal deal,” even if the country experienced negative economic growth.

“China has hoped to reach a reasonable trade deal with the US. When China’s GDP grew at double digit rate, we wished China-US relations go well. But if the US forces China to sign an unequal deal, Beijing won ‘t yield even it is a negative growth, let alone 6.6%.”

Meanwhile, the March 1 end to the US-China tariff truce continues to inch closer, placing more pressure on the two economic superpowers to find common ground.

Bitcoin Price Turns Volatile on Tuesday

Though not on a holiday itself, the cryptocurrency market had been relatively calm on Monday following Sunday’s moderate pullback. This morning, though, bitcoin and its would-be peers have begun to regain a bit of their characteristic volatility.

bitcoin price
A relatively calm bitcoin price broke out of its slumber on Tuesday, at least for five minutes.

After range-trading between $3,550 and $3,500 for most of the day, the bitcoin price took a sudden drop shortly before 11:40 UTC, slipping as low as $3,401 before recovering above $3,520 in a whipsaw movement that took less than five minutes. As of the time of writing, the bitcoin price sat at $3,557 on Bitstamp, about $33 below its intraday high of $3,590.

Day-over-day movements were relatively muted throughout the wider cryptocurrency market. The ripple price (XRP) declined by 1.22 percent to a global average of $0.317, while ethereum, bitcoin cash, EOS, litecoin, and bitcoin sv all moved by less than 1 percent. Stellar, whose price often moves in tandem with ripple, declined 1.33 percent to $0.102, and tron outperformed the index with a 4.51 percent jump to $0.026 that was likely connected to the announcement that TRX holders would earn an airdrop when the new BitTorrent cryptocurrency arrives.

Altogether, the cryptocurrency market cap — which measures the aggregate valuations of all cryptocurrencies — stands at $119.7 billion, representing a 24-hour increase of around $100 million.

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