Blockchain and Cryptocurrency News Roundup

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  • April 26, 2021
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26 April 2021.

Here’s a short summary of some of the biggest headlines in Crypto. JPMorgan may let clients invest in Bitcoin fund, WeWork will begin accepting crypto payments amid partnership with Coinbase, Binance to launch Microstrategy, Apple, and Microsoft stock tokens and Dutch authorities seized over $360M in cash and crypto in 2020.

JPMorgan may let clients invest in Bitcoin fund

JPMorgan Chase is preparing to offer an actively managed bitcoin fund to certain clients, becoming the latest, largest and – if its CEO’s well-documented distaste for bitcoin is any indication – unlikeliest U.S. mega-bank to embrace crypto as an asset class.  

The JPMorgan bitcoin fund could roll out as soon as this summer, two sources familiar with the matter told CoinDesk. Institutional bitcoin shop NYDIG will serve as JPMorgan’s custody provider, a third source said.

JPMorgan’s bitcoin fund will be actively managed, multiple sources told CoinDesk. That’s a notable break from the passive fare offered by crypto industry stalwarts like Pantera Capital and Galaxy Digital, which let well-heeled clients buy and hold bitcoin through funds without ever touching it themselves. Galaxy and NYDIG are now offering bitcoin funds to Morgan Stanley clients.

The JPMorgan fund will be for private wealth clients, a source familiar with the situation told CoinDesk.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a dangerous fraud in 2017, threatening then to “fire in a second” any trader who touched the stuff. “If you’re stupid enough to buy it, you’ll pay the price for it one day,” he said at the time. 

While he quickly walked back the “fraud” label and has more recently toned down his rhetoric, Dimon, who has repeatedly argued that government regulation of cryptocurrencies is inevitable, maintained late last year that bitcoin is “not my cup of tea.”

Despite its CEO’s personal disdain for the crypto, top deputies within its Corporate and Investment Banking division acknowledged in February that client demand might force the institution to change. 

JPMorgan’s hulking investment, commercial banking and wealth management divisions have gradually evolved in their treatment of crypto and blockchain, even if the client-facing bitcoin fund is new. The bank’s research analysts regularly issue market insight on bitcoin’s price and prospects in reports available to clients. 

The firm’s Onyx division seeks to speed up interbank payments via blockchain technology and JPM Coin, for example. After five years of quiet development, Onyx is mounting a global hiring campaign for blockchain engineers.  

On the Investment Banking side, JPMorgan issued its first crypto-adjacent investment product in March, a structured note tied to the performance of bitcoin proxy stocks like MicroStrategy and Riot Blockchain.

JPMorgan’s new fund product, however, will be its first directly dependent on bitcoin’s performance.

Bank representatives did not respond to CoinDesk’s questions by press time.


WeWork will begin accepting crypto payments amid partnership with Coinbase

WeWork figures among the companies that have welcomed cryptocurrency payments with open arms. Partnering up with Coinbase and BitPay, WeWork will begin offering cryptocurrency payments as an option.

Through its partnership with Coinbase, the company will be able to pay landlords and third-party partners in cryptocurrencies. Coinbase also figures among the first WeWork member to use cryptocurrency to pay for its WeWork membership.

In regards to WeWork’s partnership with BitPay, crypto payments in the form of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), USD Coin (USDC), and Paxos (PAX) will be made available thanks to BitPay’s crypto payment services.

In addition to enabling cryptocurrency payments, WeWork also announced that it now holds cryptocurrencies on its balance sheet. WeWork Chairman Marcelo Claure spoke about the company’s willingness to integrate cryptocurrencies for inbound and outbound transactions. He said:

“When we think about the workplace of the future and business, we have to consider cryptocurrency a central part of that conversation. Cryptocurrency helps build a stronger global economy and WeWork’s announcement demonstrates the company’s commitment not only to innovation, but also to being a globally-focused business.”

On top of enabling cryptocurrency payments, WeWork is planning to publicly list in New York later this year by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) dubbed BowX Acquisition Corp.

Binance to launch Microstrategy, Apple, and Microsoft stock tokens

The upcoming listings will bring the total number of stock tokens tradable on Binance to five.

Top crypto asset exchange Binance has announced it will list three new stock tokens over the coming week, following the launch of tokens tracking the performance of Tesla and Coinbase shares earlier this month.

On April 26, Binance announced it will launch tokenized stock pairings for leading business intelligence firm, Microstrategy (MSTR), in addition to multinational tech firms Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT).

The tokens will allow users to trade fractionalized units of the share tokens, with minimum trade sizing set at one one-hundredth of a token.

Binance’s MSTR tokens are slated to go live at 1:30 pm UTC on April 26, while the AAPL tokens will launch at the same time on April 28, and MSFT tokens will be tradable from April 30.

The exchange asserts its stock tokens are “fully backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities” held by German financial services provider, CM-Equity AG. The tokens will observe traditional stock trading hours.

The tokens will only be tradable against Binance’s stablecoin BUSD. Binance’s stock tokens are not available to residents of mainland China, the United States, Turkey, and other jurisdictions restricted by CM-Equity.


Dutch authorities seized over $360M in cash and crypto in 2020

Dutch law enforcement seized over €300 million in cash and crypto last year, €8 million of which was in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Last year, Dutch authorities seized about €303 million ($367 million) worth of cash and cryptocurrency in criminal cases, the Netherlands Public Prosecutors Service (OM) said in an announcement last week.

That’s a considerable increase on 2019, when a total of €258.1 million ($312.3 million) in cash and crypto was confiscated.

Of the €303 million seized in 2020, about €8.2 million ($9.9 million) was in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies—a significant increase from the previous year, when authorities seized €1.1 million ($1.3 million) worth of cryptocurrency.

According to national money laundering prosecutor Anita van Dis, this is partly due to the fact that Dutch law enforcement seized a number of wallets belonging to so-called crypto whales—addresses that have large amounts of crypto stored in them.

In October 2020 the OM announced the seizure of over 2,500 BTC (then worth around $33 million) in a criminal case involving a couple from Hilversum, who were accused of laundering nearly $19 million and were convicted on money laundering charges.

“We are seeing a sharp increase in certain types of crime involving the misuse of crypto coins,” said van Dis.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are frequently associated with illicit activity and money laundering; however, the above numbers suggest that cash is still the preferred medium for criminal transactions, with some €184 million ($222.5 million) seized at the request of other countries.


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