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Bitcoin in Lebanon mirrors its role in Argentina, Hong Kong

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If you were to ask a Bitcoiner in the early 2010s their vision for the world come the end of the decade, an answer involving Bitcoin close to $10,000 and a burning central bank would not be far off. Well, prophecy or not, both those things came true. While the price of Bitcoin hovers around $9,400 a pop, at press time, unfazed, or rather recovered from the economic effects of the pandemic, artificial and controlled economies are breaking down.

The Banque du Liban, the central bank of Lebanon, was recently set in flames by protesters as the Mediterranean country continues to deal with economic turmoil. Now, as the domestic currency, the Lebanese pound [LBS], teeters, the citizenry is looking to offload the falling fiat for the relatively stable cryptocurrency – Bitcoin.

Looking at the P2P exchange rates of Bitcoin for LBP, the premium is staggering, and perhaps reflective of the economic strife. Data from LocalBitcoins indicates that Bitcoin is being sold for LBP39,894,863.99 [$26,000] or almost 3 times the price it is being sold globally. It is important to note here the buy orders in LBP on LocalBitcoins is LBP14,204,502.61 [$9,400].

Earlier in the year, when the first inklings of the Lebanese crash came to be, P2P prices of Bitcoin in LBP were as high as 20.8 million or $13,700, while Bitcoin’s global trading price was $9,000.

Bitcoin as a hedge against the failing economic policies of isolated countries is a recurring phenomenon, something that was on display in 2019. Last August, following a surprising presidential election in Argentina, the Argentine peso [ARS] dropped by 25 percent, and while the domestic stock index, the S&P Merval 25, lost 48 percent of its value overnight, Bitcoin was trading at a premium.

Similar data from LocalBitcoins suggested that lower premiums for Bitcoin in ARS were $10,790 or 8 percent higher than the market price, while the upper premium was 28 percent higher than the market price.

Following the infamous August 2019 crash of the ARS, the South American currency has fallen another 22 percent against the U.S dollar, providing further impetus to holding Bitcoin. Current P2P exchange data from LocalBitcoins suggests that buy and orders in ARS are roughly around ARS1.1 million or over $16,000, or a 70 percent premium on the global market price of Bitcoin.

Last year, during the first few days of the protests in Hong Kong, with a looming threat of China seizing capital assets, another Bitcoin inflow from Hong Kong dollars was seen. Tidebit, a Hong Kong-based exchange, saw a premium on Bitcoin trades as high as $150 when compared to other global exchanges.

Similar domestic concerns with cryptocurrency premiums are seen in Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Kenya, and other countries. Yassin Elmandjira, an analyst at ARK Invest, highlighted the interest in Bitcoin from these “emerging markets,” based on the Google search interest.

Call this a ‘protest premium’ or a hedge against the faltering economic system, Bitcoin is certainly a pick of concerned citizenry looking for a safe capital flight out of fiat currency. Lebanon, by no means, is an exception. As Bitcoin has become the currency of choice in other economically ravaged countries, fiat currency, especially in these troubled times, is being ignored and rounded out. The question remains if [or maybe when] this spreads to more than just isolated examples.

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Source: https://eng.ambcrypto.com/bitcoin-in-lebanon-mirrors-its-role-in-argentina-hong-kong

Blockchain

Eyeing EU Banks, Hex Trust Teams With SIA on Crypto Custody

A multinational payments firm is partnering with cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust to help its European banking clients hold digital assets.

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Multinational payments firm Sia is partnering with cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust to help its European banking clients hold digital assets.

“When you have one bitcoin, it’s not a big problem, but when you start adding 10, 20 or 100, you have a treasury and you have to decide where to store this,” said Daniele Savarè, SIA’s innovation and business solutions director. “We are discussing digital custody needs with banks in Europe.” 

The firm is also helping banks manage and safekeep security tokens and central bank digital currencies, he added.

Through SIA, Hex Trust plans to offer European banks the software to custody digital assets on behalf of their customers. Hex Trust will also act as a sub-custodian for banks that don’t want to directly offer the service, said Hex Trust CEO Alessio Quaglini. 

Currently, Hex Trust works with three banks – Mason Privatbank Liechtenstein AG and two unnamed Asian banks. Quaglini said Hex Trust has 10 other banks that are exploring the custodian’s products.

Going forward, SIA will be the primary distribution partner for Hex Trust to offer digital-asset services to banks in Europe, Quaglini said. 

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/hex-trust-sia-crypto-custody-eu-banks

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Collider Labs Raises $1M to Invest in Blockchain Startups

The venture builder is seeking to invest in early-stage startups with a focus on transparency, privacy and “fairness.”

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Collider Labs has raised $1 million to be invested in early-stage blockchain and cryptocurrency startups.

In an announcement Thursday, the venture builder said the raise had brought on board several notable limited partners including Efficient Frontier CTO Alon Elmaliah and Follow [the] Seed Founding Partner Andrey Shirben.

Collider provides funding and liquidity and actively participates in building up startups alongside their communities and founders, according to the firm’s founding partner, Avishay Ovadia.

The company is actively seeking to invest in early-stage blockchain and crypto startups globally, with a focus transparency, privacy and “fairness.”

Collider “is a venture builder that somewhat resembles an accelerator” Ovadia said. With some “key characteristics” that differentiate it from a typical accelerator.

Venture builders, also known as startup studios, pair with early-stage startups and utilize their own ideas and resources to, if all goes according to plan, construct viable enterprises.

According to Ovadia, Collider forms partnerships with founders, invests in teams and works alongside them as what he calls “Investors in Residence.”

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/collider-labs-raises-1m-to-invest-in-blockchain-startups

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Voyager Agrees to Buy LGO Markets and Merge 2 Firms’ Tokens

Two cryptocurrency trading firms are merging, and in a rare twist, so are their tokens.

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Two cryptocurrency trading firms are merging, and in a rare twist, so are their tokens.

Voyager Digital, a publicly traded digital asset brokerage with offices in New York, has agreed to buy LGO, a French crypto exchange primarily serving institutional investors, as the company expands to Europe.

The transaction requires regulatory approval, which the parties said they expect to receive by the end of this year, along with the token swap. The value of the deal will depend on the value of Voyager’s shares, and the firms’ tokens, at closing; at current prices, it would be in the low seven figures.

As such, this deal is dwarfed by this year’s blockbuster crypto M&A deals such as Binance’s acquisition of CoinMarketCap, estimated to be worth $400 million, and FTX’s $150 million deal to acquire Blockfolio.

Read More: ‘They Have the Users’: Binance CEO Explains Why He Bought CoinMarketCap

What makes this deal unusual is that the two companies’ utility tokens, VGX and LGO, will be swapped into newly minted tokens featuring decentralized finance (DeFi) functions such as community governance and staking at an initial interest rate of 7%.

“We think this is really taking the old-school mergers and acquisitions to the token world, which hasn’t been done before,” Steve Enrlich, Voyager’s co-founder and chief executive officer, told CoinDesk.

Upon completion, Voyager, which is publicly listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, will issue one million shares for the acquisition and operate in the European retail market with LGO’s Virtual Asset Service Provider registration with the French Financial Markets regulator (AMF). All activities will be conducted under the Voyager brand and LGO will discontinue its institutional services on Oct. 31. Shares of Voyager closed at C$0.67 ($0.51) on Wednesday. 

Read More: Voyager to Pay Interest on DeFi Tokens to Gain Brokerage Clients

Hugo Renaudin, co-founder and chief executive officer of LGO, told CoinDesk that the French company made the deal after it decided to shift its focus from institutional clients to increasing value for its token holders.

“The key decision-maker is what will bring the most value to our tokens,” Renaudin said. “So we have this token. We have token holders and they’re mostly retail [clients].”

LGO launched an initial coin offering (ICO) in February 2018, according to its website, which raised 3,600 bitcoin (worth about $36 million at the time). The company’s white paper shows that 60% of the tokens were distributed through a pre-sale process, while 20% of the supply went to LGO’s founders and advisors.

At its peak in April 2018, the LGO token’s market cap was nearly $40 million, according to data from CoinMarketCap. On Wednesday, that value was calculated to be $1.5 million. 

Renaudin told CoinDesk that the company’s other option would have been focusing on better serving its institutional clients, which means its spot exchange would have to provide new and exotic derivatives products. After consideration, he said that the team had decided to change its focus to retail customers instead.

The merger comes during a time of regulatory crackdown on crypto derivatives trading around the globe. Popular crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX was charged by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with facilitating unregistered trading activities, while in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned crypto derivatives for retail consumers.

This is not the first acquisition by Voyager, which went public in early 2019 in a reverse merger with the shell of a Canadian mineral exploration company. Previously, it acquired wallet startup Ethos.io for about $4 million.

Read More: Voyager CEO Says Revenue Growth Accelerates 8-Fold as DeFi Trading Surges

Voyage’s revenue in the most-recent fiscal quarter, which ended Sept. 30, surged to about $2 million, compared with $1.1 million during the fiscal year ending in June.

“We are becoming the financial service firm of the future, which means I will look at acquisitions that can add products, customer assets to the platform, or tokens and other communities that can be accretive to what we are trying to do,” Enrlich said. “And adding these pieces together we are going to either do it organically or through more acquisitions.”

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Source: https://www.coindesk.com/voyager-acquires-lgo-token-merger

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