Blockchain-Based Exchange Set to List First Company in June

SprinkleXchange, a blockchain-based stock exchange, is aiming to list its first company next month, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Bahrain-based trading platform is developed on Ethereum’s blockchain platform and uses its smart contracts feature for trade settlements.

According to the report, the exchange claims its blockchain-focused approach offers time and cost savings in comparison to traditional stock exchanges given that the exchange operates within a regulatory sandbox created by the Bahrain’s central bank and uses a decentralized clearing and settlement system that uses automation.

Currently, the exchange has been given permission to list a maximum of 10 companies. In addition to that, prices will be set using the Dutch auction method, with the exchange taking a 1% fee.

Apart from listing stocks from companies, the blockchain-based exchange will also offer trading options with digital currencies and, similar to other crypto exchanges, will operate around the clock for both stocks and digital assets. The exchange plans to add exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the future.

The CEO has revealed as well that the platform is only approaching small-cap companies with a market cap between $20 million to $200 million across all sectors.

CEO Alexander Wallin, has revealed that the exchange is aiming to bring around 35 companies within the next 12 months and expecting to list 1,000 companies over the next 3 to 4 years. Wallin further added that:

We have the luxury of being first with this, but we’re aware that it will become a crowded market. It’s like moving from VHS to streaming; Netflix did it nicely and was first, but now there are lots of streaming sites.”

A number of traditional stock exchanges are currently moving to integrate blockchain tech in their platforms. For instance, Switzerland’s top stock exchange, SIX, is also planning to launch a blockchain-powered exchange platform later this year, which will be powered by blockchain consortium R3’s Corda Enterprise platform.

Meanwhile the Gibraltar Stock Exchange has recently started allowing the listing of tokenized securities. The Australian Securities Exchange is notably rebuilding its ageing CHESS settlement platform using blockchain tech provided by Digital Asset. Other stock exchanges, including in Jamaica, Thailand and Spain, have announced as well initiatives involving blockchain technology and crypto assets.

New Cryptocurrency ETF Proposal Filed with the SEC

A new crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal has been filed with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a posting by the SEC on May 9th.

Commodity pool operator United States Commodity Funds LLC (USCF) has created the ETF and will back it alongside Crescent Crypto, a New Jersey-based hedge-fund. USCF comes under the regulatory oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), according to the filing.

The USCF Crescent Crypto Index Fund – “XBET”– will track the performance of a market capitalization weighted portfolio of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), offering investors cryptocurrency exposure through a public vehicle.

According to the filing, the ETF will trade “like other publicly traded securities,” brought and sold daily by investors placing “orders through their brokers and may incur customary brokerage commissions and charges.

XBET will reflect the daily changes in percentage terms of the Crescent Crypto Core II Index (CCINDX), less XBET’s expenses. The new “CCINDX” will comprise of the two cryptocurrencies – BTC and ETH – recognized as a decentralized ledger, which is not controlled by any central authority and price of which is determined by the demand and supply of the asset that is limited in number. The percentage distribution of each cryptocurrency will be re-balanced on a monthly basis.

Although it could be a while until it gets accepted, the co-sponsors expect the ETF’s shares to break even within a year, pitching the initial offering price at $20.00. If approved, the ETF will be issued as shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Arca.

At the moment, two separately filed, pure BTC based ETF applications are still pending with the SEC. Decisions on two BTC ETFs – one filed by Bitwise Asset Management with NYSE Arca, and the other one from VanEck and SolidX, in partnership with Cboe BZX Exchange – were recently postponed to be reviewed this month.

However, XBET is not the first ETF proposal which involves Ether. Back in 2017, EtherIndex had filed with the SEC to trade its ETH-based – Ether Trust – product on the NYSE Arca.

Whilst SEC has yet to approve any crypto ETFs, it may be just a matter of time before one passes with the regulator. Earlier in February, SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson stated in an interview that an ETF proposal would eventually “satisfy the standards” the regulator had set.

Microsoft Releases Azure Blockchain Development Kit for Ethereum

Microsoft has just announced the release of the new Azure Blockchain Development Kit for the Ethereum blockchain.

The new set of tools for Ethereum serves as an extension to Microsoft’s source-code editor Visual Studio Code and has been designed to help developers create and build Ethereum-based apps using Azure Blockchain Service, which is Microsoft’s newly-released blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) platform.

The new extension can be used for building apps on the public Ethereum network, and enables developers to create and set up ethereum smart contracts as well as use open source tools such as Solidity and Truffle.

Notably, the extension, which is compatible with both Windows and MacOS operating systems, is hosted as an open source on Github. It is further noted that it can also run within a Virtual Machine in Azure.

The post on its Github page openly clarifies that “Azure Blockchain service is a managed Ethereum service that you can deploy and interact with Solidity contracts as well as integrate into other Azure based services such as Azure Flow, Logic Apps or storage services like SQL Server or Cosmos DB.”

The blog post notes that this is the first official set of such development tools officially released by Microsoft, further adding:

“This proves even further the investment and dedication that Microsoft is putting forth towards the use of Blockchain ledger technologies in the Enterprise, or even on the public blockchain networks.”

Prior to this, the tech giant launched a token-building kit in association with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, with the goal to help businesses design and create the suitable cryptocurrency tokens for their particular needs. In addition to that, it rolled out as well “proof-of-authority” Ethereum consensus on Azure, which replaces the proof-of-work mining process that is commonly used by public blockchains.

As blockchain becomes an appealing alternative across industries now, many companies have started employing blockchain tech into their business operations.

For instance, in October 2018 Nasdaq revealed it would assimilate Azure blockchain technology into its financial framework with the goal to speed up transactions.

Meanwhile, last week the tech giant announced that it will support JPMorgan Chase’s Quorum blockchain and will promote the Ether-based open source platform to its business clients.

The central idea of the partnership between the two giants is to welcome Quorum as the inaugural blockchain on the Azure cloud platform, which will give Microsoft and JP Morgan customers the ability to deploy and manage scalable blockchain networks in the cloud, at lower costs.

Most recently, United States-based coffee chain Starbucks also revealed that it partnered up with Microsoft to implement Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service to track coffee production as part of its blockchain-powered “bean-to-cup” pilot.

AWS Introduces Amazon Managed Blockchain Service

Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Amazon’s cloud computing platform subsidiary – has announced the launch of Amazon Managed Blockchain (AMB) service to be available for wider audiences.

Announced on April 30th, the e-commerce giant has revealed that the service will be now available for general production use. Prior to this, the service was available only in preview, which meant that interested parties could sign up for approval to use the service.

Amazon Managed Blockchain was initially revealed last November along with the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB). QLDB is a ledger database designed to provide transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable log of transactions, which is overseen by a central authority.

Whereas AMB is a service which allows customers to create blockchain networks in minutes as well as manage them more easily and economically using open-source frameworks like Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum, therefore eliminating the need to “provision hardware, install software, create and manage certificates for access control, and configure network settings.” According to AWS’ chief evangelist, Jeff Barr, customers can scale out peer node capacity to support thousands to millions of transactions.

Rahul Pathak, General Manager, Amazon Managed Blockchain at AWS said:

“Amazon Managed Blockchain takes care of provisioning nodes, setting up the network, managing certificates and security, and scaling the network.[…] Customers can now get a functioning blockchain network set up quickly and easily, so they can focus on application development instead of keeping a blockchain network up and running.”

However, support for the Ethereum network is still under works and is expected to be made available later this year. Notably, the service is currently available only in Northern Virginia, USA. More regions are expected to be opened up in the coming year.

Currently, major companies are already using theirs services including AT&T, Nestle, Accenture and others.

Nestle Oceania’s digital technology manager – Armin Nehzat, has disclosed in a recent statement that, with the help of AMB, the company was able to set up its Hyperledger Fabric network easily as well as invite its partners to collaborate in its supply chain transparency efforts. He further notes that the service aids the company in tracking their products on the blockchain from the farm all the way through to consumption.

According to AWS, Accenture, non-profit foundation MOBI (Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative) and enterprise asset management company TrackX are also making use of the service.

At the moment, securities and derivatives trading platform Singapore Exchange (SGX) is in the works og a partnership with AWS to move its existing work on Hyperledger Fabric to Amazon Managed Blockchain, according to its head of blockchain technology, Andrew Koay.

Following this recent announcement, Amazon Web Services joins other big enterprise players like Azure from Microsoft and IBM in the blockchain as a service game player.

Samsung Makes Sizable Investment In Hardware Wallet Manufacturer Ledger

Most recently, South Korean technology behemoth Samsung has invested 2.6 million Euro ($2.9 million) into hardware wallet manufacturer – Ledger.

French business magazine Capital reported the news on April 24th, stating that a spokesperson for Ledger had confirmed the investment. However, the representative provided no further details beyond the amount invested into the startup.

The news follows the recent appointment of Pascal Gauthier – the company’s former president – as the new CEO. The previous CEO, Eric Larchevêque, will serve now as Executive Chairman of the Ledger’s Board.

Larchevêque has confirmed the news as well, tweeting out that “we will always need hardware wallets, but to accompany a revolution crypto based on a personal sovereignty accessible to all, the smartphone will actually play a central role.”

At present, the startup is in partnership with several other financial institutions with the goal to establish and offer a number of custody alternatives. For instance, their custody venture with Nomura – a Japanese bank – is expected to launch by 2020. Similarly, Ledger is also working on custody services for Ethereum-based tokens with Hong Kong legacy Trust.

Meanwhile, Samsung has recently broken into the crypto and blockchain industry. Recently, the company announced that a new line of flagship smartphones – the Galaxy S10 series – will come out including new functional features such as a crypto wallet.

In addition to that, Ledger has had previous funding rounds, including a $7 million Series A fund raise in 2017 and a $75 million Series B in 2018. Many speculate this could be part of a larger funding round from Samsung, however it currently remains unclear.

An anonymous source has tipped local news off that Samsung may be working on the development of a public-private blockchain platform as well as its own Ethereum-based token, dubbed the Samsung Coin. The person claimed “we expect Samsung Coin to come out in the market, but the direction has not yet been decided.

However earlier this week, Samsung has announced the delay of the official launch of its $2,000 folding phone dubbed Galaxy Fold after a series of breakage issues had been reported. Many tech reviews reported the inside screens flickering, freezing, and ultimately dying on their test phones within the first few days. The reviews revealed as well that substances found inside the device affected the display performance.