Report: Crypto Exchanges Saw Trading Volumes Plummet in January

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The crypto winter that started toward the end of last year doesn’t appear to be showing signs of slowing down. Digital assets like bitcoin lost more than 80 percent of their value while the overall crypto market cap shrunk from over $600 billion in January 2018 to less than $138 billion in December 2018.

Now, blockchain and cryptocurrency research firm Diar has released a report that reveals a sizeable drop in crypto trade volumes in January 2019 for popular crypto exchanges Binance, Gemini, OKEx and Coinbase.

Popular Exchanges Affected

The report from Diar notes that the plunge in trading volumes affected most crypto exchanges irrespective of their scale.

Malta-based Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by 24-hour trading volume, endured one of its worst periods in January 2019, where its popular BTC/USD market saw trading volumes fall by over 40 percent in January compared to December where it traded above $5 billion.

U.S.-based Coinbase, which has been on a downtrend since the beginning of last year for its BTC/USD market, saw trading volumes rally above $2 billion in November. However, while December saw figures recede by a small margin, the trading volumes on the exchange fell even further and sat firmly on the $1 billion mark in January.

It is worth noting that January’s trading volume levels for Coinbase are the lowest that the exchange has recorded since May 2017.

Hong Kong-based OKEx had seen its volumes for the BTC/USD market growing from October all through December before plummeting 30 percent from around $5.5 billion to below $4 billion.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ Gemini exchange also had an underwhelming year with trade volumes falling below $500 million.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao made an effort to calm fears in November, telling CNBC Africa that business was going well despite the crypto winter. According to Zhao, the exchange was trading one-tenth of the volumes it did in January 2018, but it was still way above what it was trading “two or three years ago.”

Despite the low trading volumes registered on popular crypto exchanges, the number of crypto ATMs installed continued on its ascent despite the market crash. Per data from Coin ATM Radar, there were 149 new Bitcoin ATMs installed across the world in January 2019. The U.S. had a whopping 107 new Bitcoin ATMs installed, while Canada and Spain came in second and third.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Abra Users Can Now Buy Stocks and ETFs Using Bitcoin

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“Investing in stocks can be a daunting, complex and decidedly exclusionary activity,” says Bill Barhydt, Abra’s CEO. To that end, his company’s mobile cryptocurrency wallet app has announced a new feature which will allow investors to purchase traditional stocks using bitcoin. The new feature is built into the existing Abra app that enables users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

Crypto investors in the 155 countries where Abra has its presence will be able to invest in traditional stocks, such as Apple or Amazon, as well as in exchange traded funds (ETFs), using both cryptocurrencies and fiat directly from their mobile app.

According to Barhydt, everyone should have access to capital markets, regardless of where they live in the world or the amount of capital they have at their disposal. This is where Bitcoin comes in.

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency has shown its capacity to serve as a democratic form of money by creating an open financial system, and he believes his company’s app could change how smaller investors access publicly traded companies and other securities.

“We are building Bitcoin-backed investing products because, for the first time, we can truly democratize access to investment opportunities at global scale. It shouldn’t matter where you live or how much you earn to be able to make investments and participate in capital markets. We’re excited to allow anyone to start investing in global equity products and take control over their savings.”

Cryptocurrency exchanges have been offering features that allow traders to do more than buy and sell crypto of late. Last year, social trading platform eToro launched a mobile trading app that will enable investors to invest in fiat currencies, stocks and cryptocurrencies.

“Abra is different by offering this on a global scale,” Barhydt pointed out, in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine. He said that the Abra app makes it easy for investors to make fractional investments in stocks, commodities, ETFs and indexes.

“These are not tokenized securities,” he added. “We are not creating an ERC 20 chain. All investments in stocks, ETFs, indexes, etc., are collateralized by bitcoin.”

Crypto Collateralized Contracts

The new feature will leverage Abra’s Crypto Collateralized Contracts (C3s), a model that allows an investor to convert their bitcoin into different investment options, without having to move money from one wallet to another. The C3s act rather like a stablecoin whose value can be pegged with a reliable price feed to the value of bitcoin.

For every security purchased on Abra, the investor enters into an investment contract, a multi-sig smart contract based on P2SH scripts on the Bitcoin blockchain, which automatically determines whether or not an investor has made money based on the price of the asset. For instance, if an investor wants to purchase $200 worth of Amazon shares, he will place $200 worth of bitcoin into a contract and the movement of the stock’s price will determine the addition or subtraction of bitcoin from the contract.

According to Barhydt, Abra takes all the risk here, which it hedges in the open market, the instant a user creates the investment.

Barhydt also touts the broad crypto and fiat offerings on Abra as a unique selling point, as well as its non-custodial nature — so users hold the fate of their funds in their hands.

“Abra does not collect, store, or have access to its users’ funds. So individual users hold their private keys in the Abra app on their smartphone,” Barhydt said.

For investors who register for the early access program, Abra is offering zero trading fees, with a $5 minimum investment.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Kraken Advances U.K. Expansion With the Acquisition of Futures Platform

Kraken Completes U.K. Expansion With the Acquisition of Futures Platform

U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange platform Kraken has completed the largest transaction in its history after it made its foray into the futures trading world with the acquisition of London-based Crypto Facilities.

Jesse Powell, chief executive officer of Kraken, stated, “I’m thrilled to welcome the Crypto Facilities team into the Kraken family. Over the coming months, our teams will continue to enhance and expand these offerings. We’ve got great stuff in store for traders and institutional clients in 2019.”

Kraken reports that it paid “nine figures” for Crypto Facilities, a company that lists futures of digital assets including bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), litecoin (LTC) and ripple (XRP). The exchange will also acquire Crypto Facilities’ index business as part of the deal, which makes Kraken one of the first crypto exchanges to offer both spot and future trading in cryptocurrencies.

Powell told Bitcoin Magazine via email that the platform is now open to non-U.S. users, enabling them to trade futures from their Kraken accounts. He added that there are no plans to add support for U.S. customers at the moment.

Kraken Futures: Strong Entrance Into the U.K.

Crypto Facilities will be rebranded to Kraken Futures going forward, but it will continue to operate out of the U.K., “benefiting from the regulatory oversight of the Financial Conduct Authority, one of the world’s most forward-looking and innovation-focused regulators, and reflecting Kraken’s commitment to the UK as the leading financial and cryptocurrency hub in Europe.”

Foreign Expansion: A Practical Move for Crypto Exchanges

Kraken isn’t the only U.S. cryptocurrency exchange that has made moves to increase its reach and expand across the borders of the United States. In October 2018, crypto exchange Bittrex launched an overseas division of its trading platform, which afforded it the opportunity to segregate its U.S. users to provide more digital tokens to foreign markets.

Among other benefits, potential markets provide many opportunities for expansion, as the growth of most exchanges has been stifled by the patchwork regulatory landscape of the American crypto market.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.