Anchorage Set to Provide Insurance Coverage for Cryptocurrency Storage

Cryptocurrency custody services firm Anchorage has announced that it is ready to offer full insurance coverage for storing digital assets.

The official blog post states that Anchorage will provide from now on insurance coverage for investors as well as institutions that covers digital assets under custody. Prior to this, the custody services company raised $17 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.

“Here’s the problem with crypto custody insurance: not all coverage is equal. Most custodians’ architecture uses a combination of hot wallets and cold storage, and policies may vary from one part of the architecture to another. This approach can result in coverage gaps.”

This development follows the partnership with major insurance broker Aon, which previously had stated that the company was seeing more crypto specific protections catering to the new industry.

The blog post further outlines not all coverage of cryptocurrency custody insurance is equal as most custodians use a combination of hot and cold storage, on which policies may differ. The custody firm stated that it has acquired a crime insurance policy, which apparently covers both types of digital asset storage under one policy.

The company further mentioned that “with Anchorage, investors don’t face such a trade-off. Our solution is built on new technology that advances beyond cold storage to enable online participation with offline assets. As a result, we were able to work with insurers to develop an insurance policy that breaks new ground for our industry, covering digital assets under custody end-to-end throughout their entire life cycle.”

Anchorage was launched back in January and at that time it claimed to be based on the principles of easy access to assets, voting, auditing proof of existence as well as quick transactions. In addition to that, the company stated that large scale investments in digital assets, for instance such as those from institutional players, will bring new growth to the blockchain community.

Meanwhile, insurance giant AXA XL and insurance technology startup Assurely have jointly launched a new insurance product dubbed CrowdProtector that covers equity crowdfunding and security token offerings. ICE’s Bakkt has also acquired the Digital Asset Custody Company aiming to provide a purpose-built custodian that protects cryptocurrencies in order to provide better security to its customers.

On the other side, some people within the crypto community still consider the custody industry as slightly shaky, with the risk of losing funds being a factor to be wary of.

Egypt Scraps Crypto Ban, Intends to Introduce Licensing

It appears that Egypt is easing off its restrictions on cryptocurrency as a new law proposal to ban the creation, trading, or promotion of cryptocurrencies without a license is being currently drafted. The news was reported by a local online news outlet on May 28th.  Prior to this, Egypt banned all cryptocurrency under Islamic law.

The new banking law drafted for the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) would make it mandatory to obtain licenses in advance of creating, advertising or operating platforms for issuing or trading cryptocurrencies.

According to official sources, it is stated that if the proposed bill passed, the draft law would also give CBE’s Board of Directors the right to regulate cryptocurrencies and require expensive licenses in order to operate within the country.

According to the official source, the bill aims to keep pace with fintech developments and the application of new technologies in the banking and financial services sectors. Pending regulatory rules and procedures to be issued by the CBE’s Board of Directors, the new law will accordingly establish legal status for the electronic authentication of bank transactions, electronic payment orders and transfer orders.

“The new law provides legal authority for the electronic authentication of bank transactions, electronic payment orders, and transfer orders as well as for the electronic settlement of checks and the issuance and circulation of electronic checks and electronic discount orders, provided that Board of Directors of CBE issue rules and procedures regulating all the aforementioned actions.”

Prior to this, Shawki Allam, the current Grand Mufti of Egypt, banned cryptos in early 2018, stating the technology had the potential to undermine the legal system via tax evasion, money laundering, and other fraudulent activities.

However, as the market has expanded and neighboring countries have begun exploring and embracing the technology, the government started loosen its rigid stance on the matter.

Notably, this is not the first that the Egypt is considering legalizing cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the National Bank of Egypt had recently participated in a major multinational and multibank trial of a system for letter of credit transactions using blockchain consortium R3’s platform.

Moreover, in December 2018 the CBE was reported to be conducting feasibility studies for the prospective issuance of a digital version of the Egyptian pound in order to help cut the costs of issuing and transacting physical coins and banknotes.

Rakuten to Collaborate with CipherTrace on AML and Compliance

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Group’s subsidiary has partnered up with blockchain security firm CipherTrace, according to an announcement on Wednesday.

CipherTrace will work on improving the safety of Rakuten Wallet’s investors as well as the protection of the integrity and compliance of the exchange.

CipherTrace is an established blockchain forensics company that provides tools and services that allow its customers to analyze cryptocurrency transaction flows, such as identifying hacked or laundered funds and also offers theft asset recovery service. The company also helps law enforcement and financial regulators in their investigations on crypto-related AML and compliance issues.

“We are happy to partner with CipherTrace in advance of our exchange launch,” said Yoshinao Kiyama, Head of the Risk Control Department at Rakuten Wallet.

Rakuten Wallet was previously known as Everybody’s Bitcoin, an exchange Rakuten acquired for $2.4 million last August. A rebranding of the entity to Rakuten Wallet took place in March.

Rakuten Wallet plans to launch its own exchange in June. According to the company, its trading platform will allow users to trade digital assets via a smartphone application.

According to CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans, the adoption of cryptocurrencies by the e-commerce giant is an important step for the industry.

“We have made significant strides as an industry to make the cryptocurrency market grow and become more trustable. Rakuten Wallet cares about its customers and will work with CipherTrace to make sure that exchanges have optimal protections for mainstream adoption. It is our hope that proper compliance, transparency and increased trust will lead to more and more participation in the global crypto market.”

Rakuten Wallet had already opened its online account registration process for cryptocurrency trading services in April.

Pre-registration with Rakuten Wallet is currently available only to customers who have accounts at Rakuten Bank, yet it’s not clear when or whether the service will be available to the wider public. Opening an account will reportedly be free of charge and customers’ funds will be stored in cold wallets.

The new exchange received a license earlier this year from the Japanese Financial Service Agency. The exchange is therefore registered with the Kanto Local Financial Bureau as a virtual currency exchange service provider under the country’s Payment Service Act.

JP Morgan Reveals Development of Blockchain Privacy Feature

The New-York based JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain division has developed a new privacy feature that will enhance security of payment on ethereum-based blockchains, according to a press release on May 28th.

Respectively, the new privacy feature has been designed as an extension to the Zether protocol, which is a confidential payment mechanism that’s compatible with Ethereum as well as other smart contract platforms.

The protocol Zether, which was designed by researchers from Stanford University uses zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) technology to add the layer of anonymity to transactions.

JPM has stated that it will release its extension as an open-source, and will most likely implement the tool on Quorum, the bank’s own private blockchain platform built on the Ethereum protocol.

JPM’s head of Quorum and crypto-assets strategy Oli Harris has outlined what the new extension does in an exclusive interview with CoinDesk:

In the basic Zether, the account balances and the transfer amounts are concealed but the participants’ identities are not necessarily concealed. So we have solved that. In our implementation, we provide a proof protocol for the anonymous extension in which the sender may hide herself and the transactions recipients in a larger group of parties.”

He further explained that the Zether protocol uses an accounts-based approach consistent with Ethereum, as opposed to the unspent transaction output approach employed by both Bitcoin (BTC) and privacy-focused altcoins like Zcash (ZEC).

Harris believes this new privacy feature to be an efficient trustless mechanism for trustless and anonymous payments, which will benefit privacy protection within enterprise consortia as well as further JPM’s interests to develop Quorum for wider use.

When we think about the community building on top of Quorum,” said Harris, “if anyone is looking to get an efficient trustless mechanism for trustless and anonymous payments in a consortium then that’s when it’s relevant. That’s why we wanted to open-source it back to the community so anyone can build on it further and continue enhancing it and potentially put it into their use cases as needed.”

Notably, the bank has attracted some 220 banks to its Quorum-based Interbank Information Network and has been working to change the privacy architecture of Quorum with the help of Microsoft Azure, in an effort to make the platform easier to be implemented by a broader spectrum of firms.

Apart from its Quorum innovations, JP Morgan has been in the industry limelight for its recently unveiled blockchain-powered stablecoin dubbed JPMCoin.

Franck Muller Unveils Encrypto Watch with Bitcoin Storage Capabilities

Swiss luxury watchmaker Franck Muller has unveiled a limited-edition watch “Encrypto”, which should be the world’s first functional Bitcoin watch.

In addition to being a high-end fashion accessory, the watch also functions as a cold wallet for Bitcoin, which would be the first watch to allow for this.

The dial of the timepiece will be engraved with a public address and comes paired with a private key on a USB drive. According to the firm, the cold storage wallet is secure and uses offline generated, non-deterministic TRNGs (True Random Numbers Generated).

The luxury watch has a distinct Bitcoin sign and the QR code of Bitcoin’s Genesis Block inscribed onto its frame. The Encrypto is currently available online and at Franck Muller’s Dubai Mall store, with accepted payment options being credit card and bank transfer, as well as Bitcoin.

Encrypto will be a limited edition with 500 each of men’s and women’s variants to be sold, with the cost being between $10,000-$60,000. The latter price, however, will get you the diamond encrusted version.

The company is reportedly considering the production of functionally similar watches that support other top cryptocurrencies, such as Ether (ETH) and Ripple’s XRP.

Earlier this year, luxury Swiss watchmaker A. Favre & Fils also announced that it is developing a handcrafted mechanical watch with a built-in crypto-wallet. The watch will cost in the range of $102,000–$153,000, depending upon the model, its features and materials.

Another Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer, Vacheron Constantin, will start using blockchain technology to track its timepieces.