InfStones aims to simplify ETH staking through Shappella upgrade

InfStones, a blockchain infrastructure provider, has announced a new Ethereum validator service that aims to simplify ETH staking through the upcoming Shappella upgrade. The service will utilize Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to make staking easier for both users and institutional investors, with the goal of attracting more participants to the Ethereum ecosystem.

The Shappella upgrade, which is expected to bring heightened market demand for ETH staking, will allow participants with less than 32 ETH to stake their tokens on InfStones’ platform. This is a significant development, as currently, there is a requirement of 32 ETH to participate in staking.

InfStones founder Zhenwu Shi stated that their Ethereum validator service enables anyone to launch validator nodes for staking purposes with just a few clicks. In addition, the platform is targeting institutional investors by providing a way to set up around 1,000 validators for ETH staking.

The project’s goal is to attract more participants to the Ethereum ecosystem by creating an easier staking experience. InfStones’ platform aims to capitalize on the Shappella upgrade by offering a more streamlined staking service. Liquid staking platforms may also get a boost when ETH is released from the Beacon Chain following the upgrade, according to analysts from blockchain analytics firm Glassnode.

However, Ethereum staking deposits have seen a slight decline recently, which has been attributed to both regulatory pressure in the United States and the upcoming Shappella upgrade. Despite this, community members have expressed various sentiments on the news, with many praising the developers for achieving the next milestone for the Ethereum ecosystem.

As the Ethereum ecosystem continues to grow, InfStones’ new validator service aims to make staking more accessible for both individual users and institutional investors. By providing an easier staking experience, the platform hopes to attract more participants and contribute to the growth of the Ethereum network.


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Nasdaq to Launch Digital Asset Custody Services

The global securities marketplace known as Nasdaq is planning to join the cryptocurrency business by the end of the second quarter of 2022 when it will provide its custody services for digital assets. Ira Auerbach, Senior Vice President of the exchange operator, is in charge of the digital assets division, which has submitted an application to the New York Department of Financial Services for a limited-purpose trust company charter. This charter would allow the department to monitor the new business.

The initiative, which was unveiled for the first time in September, will begin with the storage of Bitcoin and Ether, with the intention of ultimately offering a whole suite of services for the division, including the execution of transactions for financial institutions. Before the launch, Auerbach stressed the group’s commitment to ensuring that all of the essential governmental permissions and technological infrastructure are in place.

It is possible that Nasdaq’s introduction into the cryptocurrency market will be a big step forward for the industry. This comes at a time when conventional financial institutions are increasingly filling the void left by industry bankruptcies. The reputation of the exchange and its presence in the worldwide market might help enhance institutional investor trust in the cryptocurrency market, which would pave the road for more conventional financial institutions to follow suit in the future.

The decision by Nasdaq is similar to those taken by other prominent financial institutions, such as BNY Mellon and Fidelity, who provide services related to the storage of cryptocurrencies. These offers are a reflection of the increased demand from institutional investors for exposure to digital assets. Digital assets are considered by some as an alternative asset class that may bring advantages of diversification when included in a portfolio.

Traditional financial institutions have been hesitant to provide these types of services despite the rising interest in digital assets; this reluctance may be attributed to worries over the regulatory clarity and security risks connected with digital assets. But, with Nasdaq’s introduction into the market, it is feasible that more institutions may follow suit, as they attempt to profit on the potential development prospects that exist within the cryptocurrency business.


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Institutional Investors Seek Tokenization Solutions

Institutional investors managing trillions of dollars worldwide are seeking solutions for tokenization, which can allow fractional ownership of an asset that previously had to be sold as a whole. This method can improve liquidity for global assets, which is expected to reach $145.4 trillion by 2025, according to Big Four firm PwC. Polygon, a blockchain scaling and infrastructure development platform, has been working with many global players in this space, including Hamilton Lane and JPMorgan.

In January, Hamilton Lane announced the first of three tokenized funds backed by Polygon, bringing part of its $824 billion in assets under management on-chain. By tokenizing its flagship Equity Opportunities Fund, Hamilton Lane was able to lower the minimum required investment from an average of $5 million to $20,000. This move enables greater accessibility for smaller investors and creates a more liquid market for the asset.

JPMorgan also explored the potential of decentralized finance (DeFi) for wholesale funding markets by executing its first cross-border DeFi transaction on the Polygon network in November. This initiative is part of a pilot program that aims to leverage the benefits of blockchain technology to improve traditional financial markets.

Polygon offers a blockchain scaling solution that enables developers to build and connect decentralized applications. The platform has been working on providing institutional-grade infrastructure for tokenization, which is crucial for institutional investors who require reliable and secure systems. Colin Butler, the global head of institutional capital at Polygon, acknowledges the need for institutional-grade systems and solutions that are easy to implement, flexible, and upgradeable, which are essential for institutional investors to integrate tokenization into their existing systems.

Overall, tokenization presents a significant opportunity for institutional investors to improve liquidity and accessibility to a wider range of investors, and platforms like Polygon are working to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the growth of this market.


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Fidelity Launches a New Commission-Free Crypto Trading Product

Fidelity Investments, one of the largest asset management firms in the world has launched a crypto trading service, giving its customers the ability to embrace Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) directly.


As reported by CNBC, the new service is dubbed Fidelity Crypto and will be powered by Fidelity Digital Assets, a more developed offshoot the company launched to handle its investments in the nascent crypto ecosystem.


Embracing Bitcoin and Ethereum through Fidelity has been made relatively hassle-free as no commission is charged. While most institutional investment firms typically require only their most wealthy clients to invest in cryptocurrencies, Fidelity has set a threshold of a minimum of $1 in order to be able to maintain the account.


The company said it will be adopting the revenue generation model of Robinhood and Binance.US and it will be adding a 1% spread into every trade execution price.


“Where our customers invest matters more than ever,” Fidelity said in a statement shared with CNBC. “A meaningful portion of Fidelity customers are already interested in and own crypto. We are providing them with tools to support their choice, so they can benefit from Fidelity’s education, research, and technology.”


Fidelity has over $9.9 trillion in assets under management, and it has been exploring renewed strategies and models to dominate the crypto ecosystem. Just like BlackRock, Fidelity has launched a good number of crypto products over the years and as well, partnered with so many other crypto firms.


That big money firms are getting into the crypto bandwagon spells a lot of good omen for how far the industry has come over the past decade. With outfits like Fidelity and BlackRock now leaning to offer services that are predominantly reserved for crypto exchanges, the competition is growing and geared to benefit consumers in the Web3.0 ecosystem much more.

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Hong Kong is a Step Closer to Legalizing Retail Crypto Trading – Report

Hong Kong is truly making moves that can help define it as a thriving hub for all crypto-related activities within the region.


According to a report from Bloomberg citing unnamed sources, the City’s top financial regulator, the Securities and Financial Commission (SFC) is set to permit to relisting of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) in exchanges that permit retail traders.


The news that the Hong Kong SFC is considering a divergent crypto regulatory framework was first unveiled by Elizabeth Wong, Head of Fintech at the SFC as reported by Blockchain.News earlier this week. According to Wong, new allowances will be made for retail crypto traders, marking a move away from the earlier stance instituted in 2018 that sees only institutional traders with $1 million in capital trade the nascent asset class.


The timeline for announcing the new regulatory frameworks is yet unknown, however, speculations abound that the SFC will make its plans known at a fintech conference that is billed to start on Monday. Hong Kong has lost its luster as the preferred destination for most mainstream crypto companies and veterans.


With the new move, the city is looking to backtrack on its stance, thus creating an environment whereby it can compete with other countries including Singapore. With the speculation about the new crypto regime growing stronger, sentiments from stakeholders is still largely skeptical as many believe China’s influence might still be a drawback for the firm.


“The kind of conversations I’ve had was that people still fear there’ll be a very strict licensing regime,” said Leonhard Weese, co-founder of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong. “Even if they’re able to deal directly with retail users, they’re still not going to be as attractive or as competitive as overseas platforms.”


The crypto ecosystem is gaining massive traction with the UK Government making impressive strides to regulate the industry. The SFC as well as other promising nations are not slacking on this trend and are ready to do all they can to provide an enabling environment for all actors.

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Fidelity Institution’s President Advocates Room for Consumers to Acquire More Crypto

Michael Durbin, the Fidelity Institutional President is advocating for more digital currency allocations for consumers in a bid to match the current demand.


Speaking at a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s annual meeting in New York City, Durbin said institutional investors will need to be conservative in allocating funds for consumers after conducting a proper risk assessment.


“As digital assets extend beyond cryptocurrencies and other sorts of wrapped tokens, or whatever the regulatory environment facilitates for us, we think there will be an increased funding for that portfolio construction,” Durbin said. “A basis to get more digital assets into the end consumer portfolios.”

The digital currency ecosystem is highly volatile and this will still make investments to be at risk. The cryptocurrency industry has trillions of Dollars since it attained its peak in November 2021 as lower prices and collapsing firms have generally made sentiments to be bearish in the space as a whole.

Durbin advocated that caution should be the watchword for crypto investors when choosing assets to allocate investors funds into.

“What we’ll be putting out to advisors is just be careful in your risk budget if you’re going to allocate any money to bitcoin for alpha creation,” Durbin said. “You better set aside a pretty meaningful amount of your risk budget, which can be defendable, but that’s sort of the evolution we need to get into.” 


Fidelity has played a frontline role in helping to break the barriers for institutional investors to get involved in the crypto ecosystem. Besides launching an avenue for 401(k) subscribers to invest in digital currencies, the firm has been operating its crypto custody business since 2019, paving the way for institutions to safeguard the coins they invest in.

Fidelity has tried launching a Bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) product, but in the SEC’s characteristic manner, its application has been rejected alongside others.

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Fidelity to Offer Crypto Trading to Retail Customers

Fidelity Investments plans to launch Bitcoin trading for retail customers on its brokerage platform, The Wall Street Journal reported the matter on Monday, citing people with familiar sources.

The Boston-based investment management company has more than 34.4 million individual brokerage clients on its brokerage platform. Due to this huge customer base, the firm is exploring allowing these retail clients to trade Bitcoin on its brokerage platform.

During a panel discussion at the SALT New York conference on Monday, Mike Novogratz, CEO of crypto investment firm Galaxy, said he had heard Fidelity was moving to offer cryptocurrency to retail customers.

“A bird has told me, a little bird in my ear, that Fidelity is going to shift their retail customers into crypto soon enough. I hope that bird is right,” Novogratz said.

Fidelity responded to a request for comment, saying: “While we have nothing new to announce, expanding our offerings to enable broader access to digital assets remains an area of focus.”

The trillion-dollar asset manager launched its Bitcoin-trading business for institutional investors and hedge funds in 2019. One year later, the firm launched its Bitcoin index fund, which amassed over $125 million in investments in May this year.

Betting on Crypto Investing

In April, Fidelity Investments made headlines when it started allowing investors to add Bitcoin to their retirement accounts.

Fidelity’s decision to let its clients incorporate Bitcoin into their retirement accounts was a landmark first for major retirement plan providers. Fidelity Investments is the country’s largest 401(k) provider.

In May, the crypto winter set in, and the industry suffered nearly $1 trillion in losses over a month. Despite that, Fidelity Digital Asset Services, a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, launched plans to double its headcount on the bet that institutional investor interest in crypto would persevere.

Fidelity’s digital assets arm intended to hire 110 tech workers and 100 customer service employees as it believed institutional crypto trading demand would increase.

During that, Fidelity said falling crypto prices did not affect the company financially, although the flow of new customers slowed down. Regardless, the company maintained its commitment to investing in crypto trading technology.

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Institutional Investors Regain Confidence towards Crypto while Retail Investors Remain Hesitant: Analysis

Analysis suggests institutional investors have an increasingly optimistic stance on the cryptocurrency ecosystem, while retail investors are still hesitant to return to the market.

Previously, BlackRock, the world’s largest investment management firm, partnered with Coinbase to offer cryptocurrency trading services to its institutional clients. A few days later, the company announced the launch of the Bitcoin Spot Private Trust.

According to Bloomberg, Leah Wald, CEO of digital asset investment management firm Valkyrie Funds, said in an interview with Bloomberg that:

“BlackRock really wouldn’t be doing this if there wasn’t significant demand from both institutional and retail clients.”

This institutional investment in the digital asset space shows that institutional interest in digital assets has not waned due to the slump in the cryptocurrency market.

According to Coinbase’s second-quarter earnings report, the cryptocurrency exchange’s core retail customers have been inactive and on the sidelines.

The exchange recorded a record loss of $1.1 billion for the quarter.

James Malcolm, head of foreign exchange and crypto research at UBS, believes that the cryptocurrency market is still primarily a retail-driven market. That group will return when it feels like a bottom has been reached.

“The hope is that at some point in the future, institutions will come into the space, institutional adoption will pick up a lot and it will start to look more like traditional financial markets. But this is still predominantly a retail-driven market,” Malcolm added.

Nevertheless, retail investors continue jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon based on the rise of non-zero BTC addresses. Among small addresses, those holding less than one bitcoin are climbing rapidly, according to Market insight provider Glassnode.

Noelle Acheson, Head of Market Insights at Genesis, said:“This suggests that retail is participating, just not yet in the kind of size that would add more momentum to the overall market.”

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Binance Launches Premier Platform for VIP Users and Institutional Investors

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced on Friday that it has launched a new exclusive platform designed for institutional investors and VIP users to trade digital assets. 

Called ‘Binance Institutional’, the new advanced platform provides specialized services to high-net-worth clients and institutional investors such as asset managers, hedge funds, and family offices. The platform also offers other services including asset management, brokerage program, and algorithmic trading.

The exchange announced the product through a new Twitter social media account specifically dedicated to ‘Binance Institutional’. In the tweet, Binance said the decision to launch the new product comes amid “an effort to upgrade its institutional offerings and services.”

While Binance Institutional webpage is accessible via the company’s main website, it is not available to users of its U.S unit, Binance.US.

Based on the Binance Institutional webpage, the product provides various services including advanced custody solutions, access to instant pricing, a suite of broker products, over-the-counter liquidity, execution for algorithmic trading, and a liquidity program for traders in spot and futures markets.

The launch of ‘Binance Institutional’ follows Binance’s plan to continue the expansion of its operations, despite the current market downturn.

This is in contrast to several other cryptocurrency exchanges that have recently announced mass layoffs as the acclaimed “crypto winter” continues. So far, over 1,700 crypto job cuts have been announced this month across all crypto trading platforms.

A week ago, Binance boss Changpeng Zhao (CZ) said that while the bear market is far from over, it is a great time for crypto firms to increase investments and hire more talents.

Binance has remained positive in the current tough market conditions and continues seeking expansions, including its latest plans to hire 2,000 new jobs and solicit acquisition opportunities.

On Friday, CZ acknowledged that large players, such as Binance, have a responsibility to help industry players survive the current market conditions. He, however, noted that “bad” crypto projects should be left to fail and not receive bailouts.

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Bitcoin Bulls Should Gear Up, SEBA CEO Predicts $75K ATH in 2022

The new year brings with it new expectations for all market investors, including those in the digital currency ecosystem.

Suppose expert opinions are to serve as a basis for reckoning. In that case, Bitcoin bulls are to gear up for an eventful year as Guido Buehler, the Chief Executive Officer of crypto-focused Swiss-based SEBA Bank, is optimistic that the digital currency will grow to a new ATH of $75,000 this year. 

This is a very modest forecast compared to earlier predictions by prominent market analysts who say Bitcoin will top $100,000 by the end of 2021. The position of Guido Buehler is, however, strongly based on the firm’s analytic models, as the CEO affirmed at the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

“We believe the price is going up,” Guido said, adding, “Our internal valuation models indicate a price right now between $50,000 and $75,000. “I’m quite confident we are going to see that level. The question is always timing.”

Bitcoin did not start the year on a very positive note as it plunged to a 5-months low of $39,796.57 earlier this week amidst growing concerns of the Fed’s increasing interest rate that can stir an exodus of investors from the nascent and volatile crypto industry into traditional investment products. 

However, Bitcoin price has started experiencing a bullish consolidation in what many hopes will be a sustained uptrend. The optimistic stance of Guido is based on his belief that institutional investors are likely to start taking new positions in the crypto ecosystem. 

“Institutional money will probably drive the price up,” he said. “We are working as a fully regulated bank. We have asset pools that are looking for the right times to invest.”

Despite his optimism, Guido believes the price of Bitcoin will not just trend upward but rather will experience volatility at intermittent times.

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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 27,088.26 0.62%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 1,891.66 0.81%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 96.05 0.60%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 114.97 0.17%