From Health Care to Mining, Central Asia Stays on the Blockchain Beat

Central Asia following the sweeping global crypto and blockchain trend, with concrete adoption and utilization cases across the region.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology continues to be a global phenomenon, with adoption and utilization cases emerging in almost every corner of the globe. Digital technology has become so popular that it is now a major talking point not only in the financial sector but also in politics and governance.

The seven “-stan” countries of Central and South Asia — Pakistan, Kazakhstan, AfghanistanKyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — haven’t shied away from the sweeping digital technology phenomenon. Whether it be revitalizing Afghanistan’s healthcare sector with blockchain adoption or introducing a waiver for crypto mining in Kazakhstan, digital technology utilization appears to be gaining a foothold in these countries.

Some stakeholders in these nations argue that more still needs to be done if the region is going to enjoy a similar level of crypto and blockchain commerce as seen in Eastern and Southeast Asia. The following is an overview of some of the notable crypto and blockchain developments in the seven countries.

Pakistan’s government exploring digitization policy

Pakistan’s central bank — the State Bank of Pakistan — banned cryptos in the country. As is the case in India, stakeholders within the local crypto community have sought to overturn the prohibition.

Related: Binance Buyout in India Takes Industry Fearful of Regulation to Hope

Waqir Zaka, a co-founder of TenUp, a blockchain-based venture capital startup, is among the vocal critics of the Pakistani crypto ban. Zaka appeared before the Sindh High Court earlier in the week to argue against the central bank’s ban.

According to local media outlet ProPakistani, the SHC instructed the country’s Federal Investigation Agency to aid the court in understanding cryptocurrencies and come to a reasonably fair judgment on the matter.

In a tweet posted by Zaka on Dec. 5, the high court adjourned the case to Jan. 28, 2020. The TenUp chief also used his appearance in court to report the alleged harassment of crypto miners in Pakistan.

Stepping away from blanket crypto bans, Pakistan’s government is looking to implement robust digitization policies. Back in April 2019, Cointelegraph reported that authorities in the country were set to pursue digitization of core government operations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Strategic Reform and Implementation Unit — dubbed Digital Pakistan — on Dec. 5, with ex-Google Product chief Tania Ardus at the helm.

Additionally, the federal government enacted a set of rules in April 2019 to govern and license digital currency institutions. The move was part of efforts by the country to comply with Anti-Money Laundering guidelines prescribed by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force.

Pakistan is also reportedly eyeing the possibility of creating its own sovereign digital currency. As reported by Cointelegraph earlier in 2019, the State Bank of Pakistan has plans to issue its own national central bank digital currency by 2025.

Draft tax exemption policy for crypto miners in Kazakhstan

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, lawmakers in Kazakhstan are looking to exempt crypto miners from tax obligations. According to a draft law, the lawmakers want cryptocurrency mining to be recognized as a “purely technological process” for tax purposes.

Under this special designation, crypto miners will only be required to pay taxes when they convert their virtual currencies to fiat. The draft policy also seeks to establish crypto mining as a legal and regulated activity within the country.

The proposed tax bill is the latest example of the generally positive stance toward crypto and blockchain exhibited by the Kazakhstani government in recent times. On the matter, Cointelegraph spoke with Madi Saken, senior legislative coordinator at the Blockchain & Data Center Industry Development Association in Kazakhstan, to obtain first-hand details about the bill. In an email to Cointelegraph, Saken explained that the country is not considering levying a capital gain tax on mining activity, explaining:

“However, mining will still be deemed entrepreneurial activity in cases when mining farms offer services to use their computing hardware for digital mining. Mining farms would be taxed by analogy with typical data centers as they receive fiat income under commercial contract alike other data-center services.”

Concerning the legal status of crypto in the country, Saken revealed that the government has no official position regarding digital assets. However, he pointed to the Astana International Financial Center as having created a special regime for cryptos under its own independent legislative prerogative.

The association’s coordinator did reveal to Cointelegraph that the government was considering a draft framework for digital assets. Back in 2018, the country’s central bank called for a ban on crypto trading and mining.

For Saken, crypto and blockchain adoption in Kazakhstan is relatively low, but the NABDC says there are positive signs signaling greater utilization in the country. According to Saken:

“Business adoption of blockchain is relatively low at this stage. However, the biggest national telecom operator Kazakhtelecom JSC has just launched its corporate BAAS (Blockchain as a Service) platform for business, which allows companies and state bodies to create and place blockchain systems on its decentralized platform. The company expects that its product will ease blockchain adoption for business. Besides, there are several startups being developed in Astana Hub and AIFC.”

Saken also said that he believes cryptocurrency adoption is on the horizon, as he observes a positive attitude toward crypto from the national bank: 

“Having initially conservative and adverse position, now National Bank is more prone to be constructive consideration. The government and National Bank are more supportive with regard to mining industry development and cryptocurrency regulation, taking into account FATF recommendations and a need of proper financial monitoring and AML instruments.”

Transforming Afghanistan’s health sector via blockchain adoption

Afghanistan is seeing some real-world application of blockchain technology in areas such as healthcare and urban development. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the country’s Ministry of Public Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2019 with blockchain startup, FantomOperations.

The memorandum aims to facilitate the deployment of blockchain-based solutions in the country’s health sector. The major focus of the project is to combat the spread of counterfeit medicines and the digitization of patient and hospital records. In a statement released at the time, the ministry declared:

“The Ministry of Public Health is committed for the institutionalization of electronic government in the health sector and the block-chain technology would help the ministry bring transparency, acceleration and effectiveness in the related affairs.”

Earlier in the year, the United Nations also announced that it would be utilizing blockchain-based solutions to drive Afghanistan’s urban development projects. The move is part of the UN’s “City for All” initiative, with the country expected to become predominantly urban by 2034.

Elsewhere in the region

In Kyrgyzstan, authorities seem to be on the offensive against crypto miners. In September 2019, 45 cryptocurrency mining centers were cut off from the national grid as energy officials accused the mining farms of abnormally high electricity consumption.

Despite the 2014 crypto ban, miners have established a significant presence in Kyrgyzstan, taking advantage of the country’s cheap electricity rates. However, government authorities are reportedly looking for ways to regulate the industry, claiming that crypto mining is yet to be defined under federal law.

While Kazakhstan is considering a reduction to the tax burden on crypto miners, Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Economy is set to amend the country’s tax code in preparation for the introduction of cryptocurrency mining taxes. 

The draft law is reportedly considering two approaches to the proposed crypto mining tax regime — levying taxes on income or expenses. Based on the popularity of crypto mining in the country, the tax law could see the government earn close to $4.2 million per year.

In Uzbekistan, the government increased electricity tariffs for crypto miners by 300%. At the time, energy officials said the move was to facilitate a more rational utilization of electrical energy by consumers in the country. Crypto trading remains legalized in the country, with participants enjoying tax breaks. However, foreign traders can only operate in the country if they create a local subsidiary in Uzbekistan.

On the whole, the government of Uzbekistan maintains a positive attitude toward digital technology, especially blockchain. Back in September 2018, the country created Digital Trust — a state blockchain fund dedicated to the utilization of technology in several government projects across sectors like education and healthcare.

Bitcoin & Crypto Market Bleeding: BNB, BCH, LTC, EOS Analysis

  • The total crypto market cap is declining and struggling to stay above the $188.0B support.
  • Bitcoin price is down more than 2% and it broke the $7,200 support area.
  • Litecoin (LTC) price is declining and approaching the $43.20 support area.
  • BCH price is somehow holding the main $200 support area.
  • EOS price is sliding and it seems like it could soon test the $2.500 support area.
  • Binance coin (BNB) is now well below the $15.00 level and it might struggle to stay above $14.20.

Bitcoin (BTC) and the crypto market cap declining steadily. Many altcoins such as Ethereum (ETH), binance coin (BNB), ripple, litecoin, BCH, EOS, TRX, and ADA are under a lot of pressure.

Bitcoin Cash Price Analysis

In the past few sessions, bitcoin cash price mostly traded in a range below the $220 and $225 resistance levels against the US Dollar. More importantly, BCH price somehow holding the main $200 support area. If there is a downside break below the $200 support, there is a risk of a drop towards the $185 level.

On the upside, an initial resistance is near the $215 level. However, the main hurdles are still near the $220 and $225 levels.

Binance Coin (BNB), Litecoin (LTC) and EOS Price Analysis

Binance coin (BNB) price declined recently and settled below the $15.00 support area. BNB price even spiked below the $14.50 support and it is now consolidating losses. On the upside, there are resistances near the $14.80 and $15.00 levels. On the downside, the main support is near the $14.20 level.

Litecoin price is declining and it recently settled below the $45.00 and $44.50 support levels. LTC price is now approaching the $43.20 support. If it fails to stay above the $43.20 support, the bears are likely to aim the $41.00 support area in the near term.

EOS price is failed to stay above the $2.600 support area and it is sliding toward the $2.500 area. If the price continues to decline, the bears are likely to lead the price towards the $2.350 level. On the upside, the $2.600 and $2.650 levels are now likely to act as hurdles.

Bitcoin Crypto Market Cap

Crypto Market Cap

Looking at the total cryptocurrency market cap hourly chart, there was a steady decline below the $195.0B support area. The crypto market cap test the $188.0B support and it seems like it is struggling to hold the ground.

Therefore, a downside break below the $188.0B support area is likely to spark another slide in bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS, litecoin, ripple, ADA, BCH, XLM, BNB, TRX, XMR, and other altcoins in the near term.

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Ethereum Price Targets 9 Month Low as DeFi Markets Strengthen

It has been another miserable week for Ethereum as prices continue to erode. Further declines today have left the world’s second largest crypto asset in danger of hitting a nine month low. Decentralized finance (DeFi) markets are in an opposing trend with continued growth in the sector.

Ethereum Hits $140

Ethereum is still deep in a two year bear market and it has displayed little effort to pull itself out despite solid fundamentals. Its market cap has dumped to a meager $15 billion which is a far cry from the $100 billion invested in the token in early 2018.

A 4% dump on the day has seen ETH prices collapse to $140 a couple of hours ago. Aside from the brief dip on November 25 the asset has not been this weak since late March, nine months ago.

According to Tradingview.com Ethereum plunged below $140 a couple of hours ago and remains deep in bearish territory with prices making lower lows on a regular basis.

ethereum

Ethereum is now very close to its prices at the beginning of the year having wiped out all gains in a massive 60% correction over the past six months.

There is nothing specifically causing the ETH dump aside from overall bearishness on crypto markets in general. In fact Ethereum is looking strong from a technical standpoint having successfully rolled out the Istanbul upgrade which opens the next digital doors for Serenity to begin.

DeFi Don’t Care

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey’s advocating of decentralized social media is the next step in an internet free of controlling entities. The financial world is also evolving into a more decentralized nature with DeFi, which is largely based on the Ethereum ecosystem.

Oblivious of Ethereum’s stunted performance in terms of price this year, DeFi continues to grow. According to Defipulse.com new records have been made again with the total value of ETH locked in DeFi hitting 4.6 million.

The amount of actual ETH in decentralized finance platforms also peaked this week at 2.73 million which equates to 2.5% of the entire supply.

In dollar terms new records are also being made but this is largely due to the decline in Ethereum prices.

As DeFi grows more ETH will be used and locked in to interest earning platforms as opposed to being day traded on open markets. This over time will decrease volatility and increase the value of the token.

Add this premise with the transition to a proof of stake consensus model next year and it will not be long before Ethereum pulls itself out of its two year bear market.

Image from Shutterstock

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German SolarisBank Opens Subsidiary to Provide Custody Services for Digital Assets

Berlin-based fintech company solarisBank has established a subsidiary, solaris Digital Assets GmbH, to provide a custody solution for digital assets.

Berlin-based fintech company solarisBank has established a subsidiary to provide a custody solution for digital assets.

Per a Dec. 11 announcement, solarisBank’s newly established subsidiary, solaris Digital Assets GmbH, will provide clients with an application programming interface (API)-accessible platform, which gives access to the full range of solarisBank’s digital white-label banking services.

No need to apply for a license

The announcement further reads that solaris Digital Assets will operate in compliance with the regulatory requirements of the German market, as well as ensure storage of digital assets that is compliant. This, according to the company, will release clients from the need to apply for a license themselves. Solaris Digital Assets plans to apply for a license for the crypto custody business in 2020.

Commenting on the subsidiary launch, Alexis Hamel, managing director of solaris Digital Assets, said:

“The current infrastructure is simply not customer-friendly enough for mass adoption. That’s why we want to empower digital asset pioneers with our one-stop-shop platform, which provides a cutting-edge custody solution alongside licensed digital banking services, such as accounts, cards or KYC services.”

Custody services gain traction

Earlier in December, DXM, a financial services subsidiary of South Korean fintech firm Dunamu, revealed plans to launch an institutional crypto asset custody service, in collaboration with crypto cybersecurity firm Ledger. DXM plans to launch the custodian under the name Upbit Safe and that Ledger Vault, Ledger’s custody arm, will support the initiative with its technology.

Also, Fidelity Digital Asset Services, LLC (FDAS) procured a charter from the New York State Department of Financial Services to operate a virtual currency custody and execution platform, where both institutional investors and individuals can store, buy, sell and transfer Bitcoin (BTC).

US SEC Charges Shopin Founder With Orchestrating Fraudulent $42 Million ICO

Shopin Founder and CEO Eran Eyal allegedly spent $500,000 of investor funds on personal expenses.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Eran Eyal, the founder Shopin, with orchestrating a fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO).

In a press release on Dec. 11, the SEC alleged that the businessman and his company defrauded hundreds of investors in an ICO that raised more than $42 million from August 2017 to April 2018. According to the SEC, Shopin’s actions constituted an unregistered securities offering of Shopin Tokens.

Eyal told investors he would use the funds from the token sale to create blockchain-based shopper profiles. These profiles would then track customer purchase histories across online retailers and recommend products based on this information. However, Eyal never created a functional platform. Marc P. Berger, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office said:

“As alleged in today’s action, the SEC seeks to hold Eyal and Shopin responsible for scamming innocent investors with false claims about relationships and contracts they had secured in support of a blockchain-based universal shopper profile […] Retail investors considering an investment in a digital asset that meets the definition of a security must be afforded the same truthful disclosures as in any traditional securities offering.”

Furthermore, Eyal allegedly lied about having forged partnerships with established retail outlets when in fact no such partnerships existed.

The SEC also claims that Eyal misappropriated investor funds to pay for personal expenses. From the SEC complaint:

“Eyal used over $500,000 of investor funds for expenses such as his rent, retail shopping, entertainment, tickets to philanthropic events, and a dating service, but omitted to disclose to investors that he would use any proceeds for his own benefit.”

The commission has charged Eyal and Shopin with violating the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws, and is seeking injunctive relief, disgorgement with prejudgment interest and civil money penalties. The SEC also seeks a bar against Eyal and Shopin prohibiting them from participating in any future securitized token offerings.

Eyal had previously been charged with defrauding investors for $600,000 by misrepresenting the staff and clients of his previous startup, Springleap.

Ethereum Could Be the Defining Factor That Guides Other Altcoins, Claims Analyst

Ethereum has had a turbulent week, with much of its recent price action favoring sellers as the crypto has faced a steady stream of downwards pressure in the time following ETH’s recent visit to over $150 earlier this past week.

Although all eyes are closely watching Bitcoin’s near-term price action, it is important to note that one analyst believes that where Ethereum heads in the coming days could provide significant guidance to other major altcoins, regardless of BTC.

Ethereum Stuck in Firm Short-Term Downtrend

At the time of writing, Ethereum is trading down just under 2% at its current price of $143, which marks a notable decline from its weekly highs of $153 that were set just a few days ago.

ETH’s climb above $150 was fleeting, as it appears that this is a resistance region for the crypto, with each visit to this level slowing any momentum and invalidating any signs of bullishness.

Currently, ETH is trading at its lowest price of the week, and the lower-$140 region has been an important support level for ETH in the time following its recent drop down to lows of $134 in late-November.

Nik Patel, a popular cryptocurrency analyst, shared his thoughts on Ethereum’s price action in a recent blog post, in which he notes that its market structure currently remains bearish as it struggles to break above $150.

“For ETH/USD, market structure remains bearish with support turned resistance at $150 capping price. The next area of support is $130. I expect that Ethereum is awaiting Bitcoin’s next major move before picking a direction,” he said.

Will ETH’s Next Move Guide the Entire Altcoin Market?

Although Patel believes that Ethereum’s next notable movement will come about as a result of Bitcoin’s price action, The Cryptomist – another popular crypto analyst – explained in a recent tweet that she believes that ETH may soon make a bullish movement independent of BTC.

She further noted that this upwards movement could spark some bullish momentum across other major altcoins.

“$ETH: You can see the stop hunts below support of this 3 day falling wedge, but support stands. 1D – Heikin Ashi displays possibility of reversal. Only hint of bearish I can see is the double top on RSI. Am monitoring this -could be rewarding move up, which will push alts also.”

It is highly probable that the coming few hours and days will help shine a light on whether or not altcoins like Ethereum will be able to begin gaining any momentum independent of Bitcoin.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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China Continues to Dominate Global Bitcoin Mining, But for How Long?

New research shows that China’s dominance of the total Bitcoin hash rate continues to grow. The nation reportedly now accounts for around 66 percent of all the computing power supporting the Bitcoin network at present.

China has historically been the leader in global Bitcoin mining. However, with large mining operations coming online in the US and Russia in 2020, the industry this time next year might look quite different.

Two Thirds of Bitcoin Mining Happens in China, Says Report

A report by CoinShares, cited by Reuters, claims that Bitcoin miners located in China now control around 66 percent of the total network hash rate. Hash rate is a way of describing the amount of computing power supporting the network.

Total network hash rate has been rising rapidly during 2019. NewsBTC has reported several times about new all-time highs in terms of the amount of computing power supporting the Bitcoin network. With mining interests investing heavily in hardware, it’s clear that Bitcoin miners are confident in the future of the digital currency.

Chris Bendiksen, the head of research at CoinShares, attributes the rising hash rate to Chinese miners deploying higher powered hardware sooner that those located in other countries. Three of the largest manufacturers of mining hardware are from China: Bitmain, MicroBT, and Canaan. Despite how opaque the industry is it seems fair to conclude that a large proportion of the most cutting-edge mining hardware will be deployed in China first.

Although the mining industry in China is growing faster than in other nations, there are large operations in the works that allow other nations to catch up by this time next year. New mega mining farms are being planned in both the US and Russia at the moment.

Bitmain itself has just opened a huge mining operation in the state of Texas. The facility currently has a total capacity of 50MW. However, the Chinese mining giant says it has plans to increase this to 300MW at a later date.

Similarly, Layer 1, a San Francisco-based startup, also plans to launch a mining operation in Texas. This effort seeks to lower the mining industry’s dependence on firms like Bitmain by developing its own cutting-edge hardware and cooling systems.

Meanwhile, the Russian Mining Company (RMC), owned by the nation’s internet ombudsman also has plans to create a vast new operation in the province of Karelia. CEO of RMC, Dmitry Marinichev, claims that the new facility will command around a fifth of Bitcoin’s total hash rate when it is completed.

 

Related Reading: Two Bitcoin Mining Startups Merge to Work on World’s Biggest Mining Facility

Featured Image from Shutterstock.

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VC Firm Andreessen Horowitz Announces Instructors at Free Crypto School

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has shared a list of instructors for its free, seven-week crypto startup school, scheduled to launch in February 2020.

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has shared a list of instructors for its free, seven-week crypto startup school, scheduled to launch in February 2020.

On Dec. 11, the venture capital firm announced that experienced entrepreneurs, builders, investors and experts in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry will coach students by sharing lessons they’ve learned, bring new project ideas, and share information to help them get started in the cryptoverse.

The list of crypto startup school instructors includes top entrepreneurs and technologists like general partner at Andreessen Horowitz Chris Dixon, professor of computer science at Stanford University Dan Boneh,  and Brian Armstrong, CEO and co-founder at Coinbase, among others.

A16z previously said that it will not take payments from students as it aims to accelerate the development of existing blockchain-focused projects as well as to encourage more talent to join the sector.

Blockchain education pops up around the world

In November, Cointelegraph reported that France is about to introduce an educational module to its high school curriculum that covers Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies, where French educators are expected to teach an introductory course that will assist students in understanding the impact Bitcoin has on the French and global economies.

Research by major cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase showed that 56% of the top 50 universities in the world offer one or more classes on cryptocurrency or blockchain technology. 

The research found that the number of students who took blockchain or crypto courses had doubled since 2018 and that many top universities also have student-run clubs related to blockchain technology or cryptocurrencies.

Another example is a Mexican high school where students can follow the course Blockchain for Business as a graded subject. Academy head Hatem Mabrouk at the American Institute of Monterrey Preparatory School in Mexico told Cointelegraph that he has been teaching the course for two school years, adding:

“This [course] includes using data analytics apps, creating trading bots and founding business models based on the blockchain. As a result, my students could one day achieve financial independence, which is my main goal.”

Two Crypto Advocacy Groups Partner to Promote Digital Tokens Educational Efforts

The Chamber of Digital Commerce and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance have partnered to facilitate industry advocacy and education efforts around tokenization.

The Chamber of Digital Commerce and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) have partnered to facilitate industry advocacy and education efforts around tokenization.

According to a Dec. 11 press release, the two blockchain advocacy organizations entered a strategic partnership to boost educational efforts in the field of digital assets and blockchain-based technologies by promoting their understanding, acceptance and use.

Interoperability initiatives and regulatory considerations

As part of the initiative, the parties’ staff will get access to their respective token-related efforts, which will subsequently enable joint participation in the EEA’s Working Groups and Token Taxonomy Initiative (TTI), and the Chamber’s Token Alliance. The entities will specifically focus on token interoperability initiatives and regulatory considerations.

Ron Resnick, executive director at EEA, pointed out the need of active engagement and collaboration with the blockchain community in order to deliver real-world value through tokenized enterprise solutions, while Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber, admitted that the adoption of digital tokens faces a variety of challenges in terms of regulations and public policy, which should be addressed.

Actions taken by advocacy groups to promote blockchain adoption

Both the Chamber and EEA have actively participated in blockchain and digital assets adoption facilitation in recent months. In October, EEA revealed that it had created a new system of reward tokens that has the support of Microsoft and Intel. The token aims to incentivize and reward companies who are actively participating in a consortium.

Earlier this year, the Chamber encouraged the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to foster blockchain innovation. Generally, it asked both agencies to permit the introduction of new financial products based on blockchain technologies and to collaborate on efficient approaches that would promote investment and industry growth.

In November, the TTI unveiled a framework to standardize the construction of tokens, making its Token Taxonomy Framework (TTF) available to the public. The TTF provided 14 draft tokens to serve as examples that are portable across definitions from Adhara, ConsenSys, Digital Asset, EEA, IBM, ioBuilders, Microsoft and R3.

Circle Cuts Another 10 Employees, Rejects Connection to CEO Stepping Down

Payments company Circle lays off another ten employees, saying the move is not related to the CEO’s recent transition out of his role.

Payments company Circle has reportedly laid off another ten employees, following the news that its CEO Sean Neville quit his position — events that the firm says are unlinked.

On Dec. 11, a Circle representative told Cointelegraph ”we’ve streamlined some departments and eliminated about 10 roles.” The spokesperson confirmed that the company was looking to focus on its stablecoin, USDC. Earlier today, the company minted another $2.8 million of the coin. 

Unrelated to Sean Neville’s departure as CEO

The news follows the recent transition of co-founder and co-CEO Sean Neville to a post on the company’s board of directors in January 2020. However, a Circle representative told Cointelegraph:

“None of this is related to Sean transitioning out of the co-CEO role. Sean will continue to serve on Circle’s board.”

Neville launched Circle with Jeremy Allaire in 2013. At the firm, he directed many of the changes in recent years, including a pivot away from Bitcoin (BTC) and the acquisition of cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex in 2018. 

He will reportedly continue his activities with Centre, the joint project between Circle and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase that produced the company’s native stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC).

Former Circle execs venture out on their own

Last month, two former Circle executives, Daniel Matuszewski and Julien Collard-Seguin, alongside a third partner, founded proprietary crypto trading firm CMS Holdings. The firm plans to invest 30% of its capital into the most liquid cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), and 40% to 50% into less-traded digital assets.

Matuszewski, who left Circle in August, admitted that he would not have started a similar firm a few years ago because of risk concerns. He explained:

“There was always a non-zero chance that bitcoin would gap down, die, and never come back. […] It’s a lot safer now, in that it’s probably not going to disappear.”