Facebook aims to launch cryptocurrency in 2020 as SEC delays decision on bitcoin ETF
As bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies get increasing attention from investors, Wall Street and its traditional banks continue to adjust to the shift. Catch up on this week's top stories highlighting the intersection of these old guard and new school areas of finance with this recap compiled by The Fly.
FACEBOOK AIMS TO LAUNCH CRYPTO IN 2020: Facebook (FB) is preparing to launch its own cryptocurrency, internally referred to as GlobalCoin, in roughly a dozen countries by 1Q20, BBC News' Szu Ping Chan reported Friday. The company, which has spoken to Bank of England governor Mark Carney as well as U.S. Treasury officials, wants to begin testing the virtual currency by the end of this year and is expected to outline more specific plans in the summer. In addition, the company held talks with some of America's largest trading houses and cryptocurrency exchanges as it looks to create the currency, the Financial Times' Hannah Murphy and Philip Stafford reported Friday. The company has talked to high-frequency trading firms Jump and DRW about making a market as well as with cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Gemini, founded by CEO Mark Zuckerberg's enemies the Winklevoss twins, through which users could store their coins safely or could convert the Facebook coin into other cryptocurrencies.
SEC DELAYS DECISION ON BITCOIN ETF AGAIN: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has again postponed a decision on approval of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund asking for additional comments on a plan by Cboe Global Markets (CBOE) to list an ETF from VanEck Associates and SolidX Partners, Bloomberg’s Vildana Hajric and Carolina Wilson reported Monday. The SEC said the delay does not “indicate that the Commission has reached any conclusions with respect to any of the issues involved”. The move comes after the agency previously delayed making a decision on the fund and denied an exchange’s request to list a bitcoin ETF backed by the Winkelvoss twins last year.
SEC HALTS CRYPTO PONZI SCHEME: The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday it had obtained a court order halting an ongoing $30M Ponzi scheme targeting more than 300 investors in the U.S. and Canada. The SEC complaint charges Argyle Coin and its principal Jose Angel Aman with using investor funds to run a Ponzi scheme. On May 20, a court granted the SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order and temporary asset freeze against Aman, Argyle Coin and other companies charged. The SEC's complaint alleges that Aman operated Argyle Coin as a Ponzi scheme. As alleged, this fraud is a continuation of a scheme Aman orchestrated with two other companies he owns, Natural Diamonds Investment and Eagle Financial Diamond Group. According to the complaint, Aman engaged in unregistered offerings of securities in Natural Diamonds and Eagle as early as May 2014, falsely promising investors the companies would invest in whole diamonds to cut down and sell for huge profits. In October 2017, Aman continued the scheme by luring investors to invest in Argyle Coin, falsely claiming the investment was risk-free because it was backed by fancy colored diamonds and promising to use investor funds to develop the cryptocurrency business. Instead, according to the complaint, Aman, Natural Diamonds, Eagle, and Argyle Coin, misused or misappropriated more than $10M of investor funds to pay other investors their purported returns and for Aman's personal expenses.
AT&T ACCEPTS CRYPTO PAYMENTS: AT&T (T) announced Thursday that it will now accept online bill payments through BitPay, a cryptocurrency payment processor, making it the first major U.S. mobile carrier to provide a cryptocurrency payment option to customers. “We’re always looking for ways to improve and expand our services,” said Kevin McDorman, VP, AT&T communications finance business operations. “We have customers who use cryptocurrency, and we are happy we can offer them a way to pay their bills with the method they prefer.”
MLG, LUSAKA CITY COUNCIL SIGN MOU: Overstock.com (OSTK) announced Wednesday that Medici Land Governance has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lusaka City Council that will lead to the issuance of no fewer than 250,000 certificates of title related to real property under the jurisdiction of LCC in and around the capital city of Zambia. In addition to establishing a titling process that builds on the 50,000 homes upon which MLG collected governance information in the fall of 2018, the MOU calls for developing and deploying a land information management system to handle title transfers, title searches and other transactions.
CRYPTO STOCK PLAYS: Cryptocurrency revenues have been pointed to as reasons to be bullish on Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia (NVDA) in select research. Overstock, DPW Holdings (DPW), Kodak (KODK), Ideanomics (IDEX), Riot Blockchain (RIOT), Pareteum (TEUM) and Social Reality (SRAX) are other stocks that have been touted, or promoted themselves, as a way to play the crypto theme.
PRICE ACTION: As of time of writing, bitcoin rose roughly 13.1% this week to 8,012 in U.S. dollars, according to TradeBlock.