Nordea Bank has won a court battle over its bid to bar employees from buying and selling cryptocurrencies outside of work.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that a Danish court had ruled that the northern European bank is justified in the ban due to the risks associated with cryptocurrencies.
The case was brought against Nordea by a financial industry union in Denmark, claiming a crypto ban would interfere with the personal lives of staff.
“We filed suit because of the principle that everyone obviously has a private life and the right to act as a private individual,” union chairman Kent Petersen said in a statement. “It was important for us and our members to establish what rights managers have. In this case, it was more far-reaching than what we find to be appropriate.”
Expressing concerns over harm to the reputation of the bank and its clients, Nordea had warned its employees in early 2018 against crypto trading because “the risks were too high.” The bank cited a lack of regulation and connections to criminal activity such as money laundering to back up its case, Bloomberg writes.
Staff would still be allowed to invest in financial instruments tied to cryptocurrencies and were not prohibited from holding cryptos purchased before the ban.
Some commentators are pointing out on crypto Twitter that the staff ban is perhaps ironic, as Nordea itself has been accused of money laundering.
Reuters reported in March that Finnish broadcaster Yle said leaked documents showed the financial group had allegedly handled €700 million euros ($775 million) in suspicious transactions between 2005 and 2017 that were linked to Russia. In its defense, the bank said it had reported suspicious behavior to relevant authorities.
Then, in June, the bank's offices were searched by the Danish state prosecutor as part of a criminal investigation into money laundering.
Sweden's financial watchdog also warned the firm in 2018 over deficiencies in how it followed anti-money laundering rules, according to another Bloomberg piece at the time.
Dan Matuszewski remembers the early days of cryptocurrency trading, just a handful of years ago. It wasn’t the possibility of a market correction that worried him. It was the risk that the whole business might disappear.
“There was always a non-zero chance that bitcoin would gap down, die, and never come back,” Matuszewski, 31, said in a phone interview.
Matuszewski, who previously oversaw trading at the cryptocurrency-focused financial company Circle, says he’s now confident enough in the market’s future that he’s teamed up with two partners to pool more than $10 million to start a proprietary-trading firm. They are Bobby Cho, 35, former head of trading at brokerage firm DRW’s Cumberland crypto unit, and Julien Collard-Seguin, 31, a former technology executive at Circle.
According to Cho, the new company, called CMS Holdings, started trading in October. The business is registered in the Cayman Islands and doesn’t manage money from outside investors, he said.
“We deploy strategies much like a hedge fund in the market, except that we’re not structured as such,” Cho said.
The plan is to put 30 percent of the firm’s money into highly liquid cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum and 40 percent to 50 percent into less-frequently traded tokens and digital assets, Cho said. The rest would likely go into long-term equity investments in the crypto industry, he said.
“The space is evolving very quickly, and it’s not stopping,” Cho said.
Bitcoin’s price has more than doubled this year to about $8,700 each, though it’s still well off the record of about $20,000 reached in 2017.
Said Matuszewski: “It’s a lot safer now, in that it’s probably not going to disappear.”
Bitcoin just turned 11 and it’s worth looking at what this technology has achieved. First, some context.
Facebook is 14 while Twitter is 13. Linux is 28. The World Wide Web – the network you’re reading this on – is 30. TCP/IP is about 44 years old, depending on whom you ask.
If you’re into a bitcoin, you’re most likely 18 to 34 years old, according to pollsters at the Global Blockchain Business Council. And you probably joined the bitcoin party about five years ago and own some fraction of or even a full coin. Some of you own many, many more.
I’m about as old as TCP/IP. I’m part of the generation that saw computing’s evolutionary bloom. If you’re younger, you’ve gotten used to modern networking technology and you don’t remember a time when everything wasn’t done on a screen. You were there for the birth of bitcoin.
But on the 11th anniversary of the white paper’s publication, we face a question: How long must we wait until bitcoin becomes like Twitter or Linux, something you use every day? Ten years? Twenty?
Bitcoin, from the vantage point of pure adoption, has been a failure. But it remains a beacon, the best chance we have for truly shaking up the status quo and, ultimately, changing the way we interact with our fellow global citizens.
When will we be using bitcoin daily? When will the underlying technology embed itself into the fabric of our financial lives?
Shrug. We don’t know.
A billion people use Facebook every month. On Twitter, it’s 330 million. Both services ramped up quickly but really took off in the last few years. Linux is on 98 percent of servers worldwide – that took a while but ramped up after the dot-com boom. The web is everywhere, but that took a solid 20 years to happen.
How many people use bitcoin? It’s hard to gauge on a decentralized network designed for anonymity. For a rough proxy, CoVenture Research says there are “11.2 million bitcoin addresses that hold at least .001 BTC,” or about $9 worth.
That’s a big number, more than the number of people in New York, including the outer boroughs. Of course, a single user can, and often does, control multiple addresses. Yet if anything, this estimate may be too conservative. An April 2019 survey by Harris Poll, done for Blockchain Capital, found 9 percent of Americans – 27 million people – own bitcoin.
All told, it’s safe to say that if the crypto community were a country, it would be bigger than Belgium.
But it’s not 330 million and it’s not a billion. It’s enough that the average investor and programmer will take notice and it’s enough for Hollywood to consider the topic interesting enough for an awful movie. But 11 million in 11 years is not good for bitcoin.
If bitcoin were a startup it would exist in the Valley of Death. In the startup world, an app with 11 million users is strong enough to generate some revenue but not interesting enough to attract massive investment. Bitcoin is like that. It works, but not enough to turn heads outside of a vocal minority.
So where is bitcoin going? Is 11 million enough? How many more years until we get to mass adoption?
Another shrug. Another unknown. We see the forward motion every day on CoinDesk – the various small changes that add up to a story of a platform. (Or is it a movement?)
This points to the primary problem that bitcoin and the wider crypto ecosystem has to accept. Facebook and Twitter achieved those numbers through investments far smaller than bitcoin’s $165 billion market cap. Linux and FOSS endeared themselves to developers enough that they happily contributed their time freely. The web grows by itself because it is trivial to join the party.
Bitcoin exhibits few of those traits. Bitcoin startup investment is cold. The crypto ecosystem is insular and self-involved, difficult for outsiders to join. The network grows by fits and starts, driven primarily by Number Go Up. We are in a vibrant early stage in which everyone is a pioneer and there is no clear way forward. Infighting turns developer against developer while crypto clowns hog the mainstream media’s attention. Only a small, dedicated group holds the center together.
This is bad for bitcoin.
By all rights, bitcoin shouldn’t survive another ten years. All the things that made Linux and Twitter and Facebook and the PS4 and Netflix commercial successes cannot be seen in bitcoin’s rise. You can’t spin up an AI that can write Harry Potter novels on bitcoin.
Bitcoin doesn’t move the world’s financial markets the way Twitter does nor does it get the same scrutiny that Facebook does. There is no “bitcoin and chill.”
Yet it still exists.
You will argue that it’s unfair to compare bitcoin to all of those things. But bitcoin is both a financial instrument and a technical product. It is, like a startup, a work in progress, an alpha product that may graduate to beta with a little more time. It is a good idea that needs another summer or two to germinate.
When I first looked at Spotify, 13 years ago, I saw the future of streaming music that freed me from CDs. When I stuck a copy of Mandrake Linux into my Pentium computer in 1998 I saw a future of machines freed from paid software. When I look at bitcoin through the eyes of an uninterested programmer I see numbers and hype and scams. But when I look at bitcoin through the eyes of someone who wants to catch the next big thing, I see the possibility that one day, not too far in the future, it will make banking and commerce vastly different.
All of the other services and tools I mentioned above are reaching their apex. It’s all downhill from here. Bitcoin, to quote the Joker, is just getting warmed up.
Bitcoin is a slow burn, one that will take another five or ten years to really explode. And when it does it won’t be visible like Facebook or Netflix. It won’t be one level removed from our browsers, hiding just out of sight, like Linux. It will be ingrained in our lives, in the interaction between our money and the world. It will be the currency used between humans and robots and between robots and robots. It will become so useful that it will disappear.
Bitcoin is 11. Where is it going? When will it win?
Shrug. We don’t know. But, compared with everything that came before it, there is little out there to stop bitcoin and a lot of energy driving it forward. It’s only a matter of time.
China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, will certify 11 types of financial technology hardware and software that are widely used for digital payment and blockchain services with its new verification system called the Certification of Fintech Products.
The central bank released the first list of fintech products that could be used in both front-end and bank-end development for digital payment services, according to filings dated Oct. 26 from the bank.
The new regulatory system comes at a time when China is accelerating the development of new financial infrastructure, including a digital version of its currency and a push by President Xi Jinping to capitalize on blockchain technology.
The central bank envisions the national digital currency boosting the digital payment industry, touting its own coin’s security features and off-line transaction ability as superior to commercial products offered by China’s Alipay and WeChat Pay.
With 11 fintech products currently on the central bank’s list, the certification system covers all the products that could be involved in digital payment technologies, including point-of-sale mobile terminals, embedded application software, user front-end software, and security carriers and chips.
The central bank will grant applicants a Certification of Fintech Product (CFP) if their products pass the prototype examination and on-site checks. The certificate will be reviewed and renewed every three years, according to the bank.
Related authorities would conduct random inspections on any step of the production process to ensure compliance while the certificate is valid. Institutions will be allowed to stamp the certifica on their logo; however, the certification cannot be used to directly promote a products or for advertising.
One of the very specific items included on the list of 11 products is trusted execution environment (TEE), a technology that can assist in the establishment of a “consortium blockchain network and verifying blockchain transactions in financial transactions use cases,” according to the filing.
The U.S. internet giant Microsoft filed for two patents in August 2018 to use similar type of technologies to improve the security and capacity of its blockchain services offerings.
Bitcoin’s price was quoted in five digits across cryptocurrency exchanges earlier today, but the breakout into $10,000 was short-lived.
The number one cryptocurrency by market value jumped to $10,350 at 01:45 UTC – the highest level since Sept. 24 – according to Bitstamp data. Meanwhile, the global average price, as calculated by CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index, clocked a high of $10,332.
Just 24 hours ago, the cryptocurrency was reeling under bearish pressures below $7,500 and prominent chart analysts were calling a deeper drop, courtesy of the so-called “death cross” – a bearish cross of long-term moving averages.
BTC, however, picked up a bid around $7,500 in the early U.S. trading hours on Friday and rose to $8,800 at 17:20 UTC. Prices then consolidated in the narrow range of $8,500 to $8,700 for a few hours, before printing highs above $10,000 earlier today. Essentially, the death cross trapped sellers on the wrong side for the fourth time since 2014.
Bitcoin closed (UTC) at $8,662 on Friday, representing a 16.51 percent gain on the day, as per Bitstamp data. That is the biggest single-day rise since April 2. Back then, BTC had rallied 18.45 percent from $4,133 to $5,080.
Further, the rise from lows below $7,400 to highs above $10,300 is reportedly the third-largest 24-hour price gain in bitcoin’s history, as pointed out by crypto-asset analyst Yassine Elmandjra.
Experts have associated the latest double-digit surge with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s comments that the world’s second-largest economy should accelerate its adoption of the blockchain technology. After all, China was one of the biggest sources of demand for cryptocurrencies during the 2017 bull run.
Prominent observers like Anthony Pompliano are of the opinion that the Chinese president’s public support of the blockchain technology will force the U.S. and other major nations to embrace the technology, perhaps boosting bitcoin.
The investor community, therefore, is expecting the rally to continue. Some observers, however, are worried that the market optimism is premature, as China is developing a digital version of its own currency and is unlikely to lift its ban on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
It remains to be seen whether Xi’s comments power further gains in BTC. The cryptocurrency is losing altitude at press time.
As of writing, BTC is changing hands at $9,320 on Bitstamp, representing a $1,000-plus drop from the Asian session high of $10,350. Technical charts indicate a bullish breakout would be confirmed if prices find acceptance above $9,750.
The daily chart shows early signs of a bullish reversal. For instance, bitcoin’s convincing move above $8,352 (Oct. 21 high) has invalidated the bearish lower highs setup. The cryptocurrency has also violated resistance at $8,820 (horizontal line).
However, the cryptocurrency is yet to exit the falling channel, represented by trendlines connecting June 26 and Aug. 6 highs and July 17 and Sept. 26 lows.
A UTC close above the upper edge of the bearish channel, currently at $9,750, would imply a resumption of the rally from lows near $4,100 seen on April 2 and put the cryptocurrency on the path to re-test of the high of $13,880 hit in June.
Put simply, a channel breakout is needed to confirm a bearish-to-bullish trend change.