Crypto Exchange News Update for November 2019

Siamak Masnavi

This article looks back at the most important/interesting crypto exchange news for the period 1–30 November 2019.

Bithumb

On November 12, crypto exchange Bithumb Global officially announced "Bithumb Coin" (BT), the native token of "Bithumb Chain", the custom blockchain being built by its parent, Bithumb Korea (which is one of South Korea’s largest exchanges).

Bithumb Global's press release said that Bithumb Coin (BT) "enables transactions within Bithumb Chain and provides the necessary mechanism for facilitating true incentives and value within the protocol."

30% of the allocation of Bithumb Coin is for the user incentive pool and another 30% is for "trading incentives with a point system." 

Bithumb Global says here are some other use cases for Bithumb Coin:

"Utility within Bithumb Chain for handling fees, usage rights of the Bithumb chain system and paying the transaction fees of the Bithumb Global platform as well as payment procedures for new products in the future. Through the system lease contract, users can also lease their BT to obtain leasing rewards. Moreover, BT holders can vote and participate in the governance of Bithumb Chain which includes project listing nomination."

Bithumb Coin's total supply will be capped at 300 million. 

CME Group

CME Group issued a press release on November 12, which reiterated that -- subject to regulatory approval -- it would be launching on 13 January 2020 trading in options on its cash-settled Bitcoin futures contracts. 

According to the details that CME Group first gave out on October 30:

  • Each options contract settles into one Bitcoin futures contract (representing five BTC).
  • CME Bitcoin futures are based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR), a Bitcoin pricing product launched in 2016 that is "a daily reference rate of the U.S. dollar price of one bitcoin as of 4 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time."
  • Each day, the BRR aggregates the trade flow of major bitcoin spot exchanges during a specific one-hour calculation window. This one-hour window is then partitioned into 12, five-minute intervals, where the BRR is calculated as the equally-weighted average of the volume-weighted medians of all 12 partitions.
  • These options are available for trading on CME Globex and CME Clearport. (Trading Hours: 5:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Central Time, Sunday to Friday)
  • Prices are quoted in USD per one BTC.
  • The minimum block size is 5 contracts.

Coinbase

On November 6, Coinbase published a blog post that said the exchange's Tezos (XTZ) staking service is now available to all eligible U.S. customers (rather than just institutional clients of Coinbase Custody). Currently, the only Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain for which Coinbase supports distribution of staking rewards is Tezos.

Any "eligible" U.S. customer that holds a "minimum" amount of XTZ on Coinbase can automatically earn staking rewards. The customer retains ownership of the staked XTZ, but delegates "staking power" to Coinbase. 

All you need to do get started with Tezos staking is to make sure you have some XTZ in  your Coinbase account. You can see "pending rewards" in real-time in the Coinbase mobile app, and you will receive these rewards every three days "once your initial holding period completes (35–40 days)."

Here is what being "eligible" means:

  • You have gone through Coinbase's KYC process to get your identity verified.
  • You are a resident of the U.S. (except that residents of the states of New York and Hawaii are not eligible).
  • You must hold a minimum amount of XTZ (currently, this is one XTZ).
  • You must hold your XTZ on Coinbase.com (no staking support on Coinbase Pro).

Then, approximately two weeks later (on November 21, to be specific), Coinbase Custody tweeted that it was "transitioning to an internationally-based staking service/" 

DX.Exchange

On November 3, crypto exchange DX.Exchange, which is licensed by the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit, made the following announcement on its blog: its directors had decided to "temporarily close the exchange" as the exchange looks to become a target for a merger or an acquisition. 

Gemini

Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto, Managing Director of Operations at Gemini, said in a blog post published on November 1 that Gemini would be joining BitMEX's .BXBT and .BETH indexes:

As a constituent of each respective index, Gemini’s market data will be used to help price the BitMEX XBTUSD Perpetual Contract, ETHUSD Perpetual Contract, and XBT Futures Contracts. Gemini’s market data will also be used for BitMEX Upside Profit Contracts (UPs) and Downside Profit Contracts (DOWNs).

Gemini, which was founded in 2014 by the famous Winklevoss twins, announced on November 19 the company's first acquisition: a trading platform for non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

What makes this deal even more interesting is that Nifty Gateway™, the startup bought by the Winklevoss brothers, was founded by identical twins Griffin Cock Foster and Duncan Cock Foster!

IDAX

China-based crypto exchange IDAX, which had admitted on November 24 to having trouble with processing withdrawals due to congestion (caused by a dramatic increase in withdrawals), issued an "urgent notice" on November 29, which stated that the IDAX CEO had disappeared for unknown reasons and that "IDAX Global staffs were out of touch with IDAX Global CEO."

This notice went on to say that this is why access to the exchange's cold wallets have been restricted, which means that currently IDAX cannot provide any deposit/withdrawal services. 

For many in the crypto space, this situation worryingly sounds too similar to what happened with the now-defunct Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX.

Upbit

Around 08:56 UTC on November 27, South Korean crypto exchange Upbit confirmed that it had had 342,000 ETH stolen from its hot wallet.

In a notice posted on its website, Upbit explained that at 04:06 UTC (13:06 Korean time) on November 27, 342,000 ETH (worth approximately $49 million) was transferred from its hot Ether wallet to "an unknown wallet". The address of this wallet is 0xa09871AEadF4994Ca12f5c0b6056BBd1d343c029.

As soon as Upbit realized this, it says that it started responding:

  • All cryptoassets in its hot wallets were moved to cold wallets.
  • Deposits and withdrawals were suspended and they will not be resumed for "at least two weeks".

Upbit says that it will cover this loss out of its own funds.

It is interesting to note that Upbit's announcement does not say that the exchange was hacked (only that some ETH was stolen), which leaves the possibility that this could have been an inside job.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com