Blockchain Bites: Google Validates Theta, Coinbase and BitGo Eye Crypto Prime Brokerage

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Google is teaming up with Theta Labs to help the video delivery network onboard users through Google Cloud. As part of the partnership, the tech giant is assisting Theta with its Mainnet 2.0 launch, and will become the platform’s fifth validator. Polkadot is now live following the mining of its first “chain candidate’s” genesis block. Polkadot will first launch under a Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus algorithm controlled by the Web3 Foundation, in its bid to become an interoperable blockchain for other chains and dapps to utilize.   

Prime Brokerage
San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is finally acquiring Tagomi, a prime brokerage platform specializing in digital asset trading. In an all-stock deal, Tagomi will integrate into Coinbase’s product suite, helping the firm complete its liquidity, custody, lending offerings. BitGo, a crypto custodian, has also announced its prime brokerage status, with the launch of its new entity BitGo Prime. Earlier this year, London-based Bequant launched a prime brokerage service, while Genesis Trading (owned by CoinDesk parent DCG) recently purchased crypto custodian Vo1t in a bid to become a prime broker.

Financial Innovation
Brazilian retailer Via Varejo has purchased the Boston-based fintech startup Airfox to provide financial services for underbanked Brazilians. The firm, with more than 1,000 locations in the country, plans to begin offering free bank accounts and gradually expand into other financial services, with Airfox serving as an innovation hub. Meanwhile, a senior figure at the International Monetary Fund said a digital currency backed by a central bank, but issued through private entities, would open the door to much greater innovation in retail payments. “This public-private partnership is intended to conserve the competitive advantages of the private sector: to interface with clients and innovate, and the comparative advantage of the central bank: to regulate and provide trust,” IMF’s Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli said.

Expansions
TradeLens has been tapped by India’s largest port operator to digitize shipping supply chains across the nation. Crypto.com will expand its Visa crypto debit card and a wallet app to 31 European countries with a partnership with digital-payments company i2c Inc. (PYMNTS)

Open Accounts
Kingdom Trust has rolled out a single retirement account for traditional and digital assets called Choice. The self-service retirement platform allows investors to hold stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and digital assets in one tax-advantaged account. Bitfury launched an investment opportunity offering “exposure to bitcoin by way of the mining company’s data center” for institutional investors, The Block reports. 

Real and Virtual Worlds
Switzerland’s government has rejected a $103 million coronavirus-related bailout for “Crypto Valley.” The Swiss Blockchain Federation recently surveyed 203 firms in the area and found 80% on the brink of bankruptcy. (Bitcoin.com) Crypto startup Centrifuge is introducing a dapp that allows users to collateralize real-world assets for use in the decentralized finance ecosystem. (The Block) Land parcel auctions in the virtual Somnium Space have totaled $470,000 over the past 10 weeks. (Decrypt)

Opposite Editorial

To See Libra’s Potential, Look at the Philippines, Not the US
Leah Callon-Butler argues that the much derided Libra project could provide real utility in countries where Facebook – one of the project’s leads – essentially is the internet. “Take the Philippines as an example. I’ve lived here since 2018 and it’s not hard to imagine how fast libra could become the preferred tender of Filipinos everywhere. To paint you a picture: While very few are banked – only 22.6 percent of adults have a formal account – the number of mobile phone subscriptions is greater than the number of actual people who live here,” she said. 

Look to Design, Not Laws, to Protect Privacy in the Surveillance Age
Raullen Chai argues that privacy preserving measures should be built into a product, rather than ensured by law, if there is any hope to counter wanton surveillance. “Data privacy regulations have begun emerging in recent years, but these reactive measures simply cannot guarantee our privacy. We must proactively build and adopt new technologies with “privacy by design” to reach a human-centered future,” he said. 

Market Intel

Macro Movements
The yuan (CNY) fell to 7.1613 per U.S. dollar earlier on Tuesday to hit the lowest level since early September. Bitcoin has historically seen gains as the Chinese yuan falls. “If China’s CNY continues to weaken against USD, then we could have a 2015 and 2016 repeat, where BTC strength coincided with yuan weakness,” tweeted Chris Burniske, partner at venture capital firm Placeholder.

EOS
Over the past year, the EOS token’s price is down 69%, the worst performance among digital assets with a market capitalization of at least $1 billion, based on Messari data. That’s more than twice the decline over that period in prices for EOS’s biggest rival, Ethereum. Bitcoin is flat over the past 12 months. Things could worsen for the cryptocurrency, as lingering concerns over its applicability and centralized structure have yet to be adequately addressed, according to industry experts surveyed by CoinDesk’s First Mover team. 

CoinDesk Podcast Network

‘Narrative Violations’
Bedrock Capital founder Geoff Lewis joins The Breakdown podcast to discuss how alternative ideas and narratives are challenging the media’s consensus-making function. These “narrative violations” are reshaping how people understand the world. 

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