The incoming SEC chairman Gary Gensler clearly stated that both Ethereum and XRP were non-compliant securities

In a recent seminar with Court Judge Sarah Netburn, Dugan Bliss, a senior adjudicator at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, argued that the agency has not yet made a formal position on the regulatory status of Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin looks more certain, however, the status of ETH is being disputed as is the case with XRP.

Ethereum could still be classified as a security

Bliss stated:

“So I want to make clear that this is my understanding of the current situation and I don’t want to be overly technical, but the SEC, itself, my understanding, it has not taken an official position. There is no action that it took to say Bitcoin is not a security, Ether is not a security.”

While former SEC chairman Jay Clayton has repeatedly stated that Bitcoin is not a security, there is less regulatory certainty over Ethereum.

Bill Hinman, former head of the SEC’s Corporate Finance Division, issued a statement of approval on the sale of Ether and non-securities offers just months before the end of his term in 2018.

Bliss stated that Hinman’s speech does not necessarily reflect the regulator’s stance on Ethereum:

“Now, there was a speech by a high-ranking person who said that to him that’s what it looked like but there has been no action letter, no enforcement action, none of the official ways in which the SEC takes a position on that matter that has occurred.”

However, the upcoming SEC chairman Gary Gensler has made it clear that both Ether and XRP are non-compliant securities in an interview with the New York Times:

“There is a strong case for both of them — but particularly Ripple — that they are non-compliant securities.”

Notably, Gensler confirmed that he sees Bitcoin as a commodity during his recent congressional hearing:

“So I think at the SEC it’s really to the extent somebody is offering an investment contract and security that’s under the SEC’s remit and exchanges that operate there. […] If not, it’s a commodity as Bitcoin has been deemed.”

Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum pre-mined a significant portion of the money prior to holding the initial coin offering (ICO).

USD 3 Trillion Corporation State Street Goes Crypto
USD 3 Trillion Corporation State Street Goes Crypto 101
Source: Adobe/Lubo Ivanko

US-based financial giant State Street aims to enter the crypto trading market in the middle of this year.

State Street’s trading platform Currenex, that was reportedly put for sale last year, partnered with London-based Puremarkets Ltd (Pure Digital) in order to develop a wholesale, multi-custodial digital currency trading platform, Puremarkets said today, adding that the partners “intend to further explore the digital currency trading space.”

“Pure Digital will be a fully automated, high throughput [over-the-counter] market for digital assets and cryptocurrencies with physical delivery and bank custody,” the company said.

According to them, institutional participants will trade on the platform utilizing bilateral credit enabling efficient capital utilization and control for all trading participants.

“The Pure Digital trading platform will be the first of its kind, offering a wholesale interbank market for Tier 1 investment banks to trade bitcoin and other digital assets. Pure Digital is in discussions with several other Tier 1 investment banks to use the platform, which will provide a high throughput OTC market for digital assets and cryptocurrencies with physical delivery and bank custody,” Norway’s digital asset-focused company Arcane Cryptosaid in a separate announcement. They indirectly own a 37.5% stake in Puremarkets.

At the end of 2020, State Street had USD 3.47trn in assets under management or 11% more than a year ago. However, their revenue dropped by 4%, to 2.9bn, and net income decreased by 5%, to USD 537m.

“While State Street rose to the challenges in 2020, we are laser-focused on fee revenue growth and expense management to continue to make progress in 2021 towards our medium-term targets. We are confident in the trajectory of our business and will continue to drive innovation, automation and productivity to achieve these goals,” Ron O’Hanley, Chairman and CEO of State Street, said.

Calm After the Strom: Bitcoin Reclaims $57K and Ethereum Above $2K (Market Watch)

Bitcoin dipped to its lowest point in over a week beneath $56,000 but has recovered some of the losses and currently stands above $57,000. Most altcoins have retraced even harder, including a double-digit price drop for the high-flying Ripple (XRP) and Ethereum briefly dropping beneath $2,000.

BTC’s Dominance Increases Despite the Drop

The past several days didn’t go all that well for the primary cryptocurrency. After failing to overcome $60,000 on numerous occasions, the asset reversed its trajectory and headed south.

Bitcoin reached $59,400 on Thursday, but its inability to sustain the upward momentum gave the bears an opportunity to push it down, which led to a $4,000 price drop in less than 48 hours.

Yesterday was an especially harmful trading day for BTC as it slumped to a low of about $55,500. This was the lowest price line since late March.

It’s worth noting that this retracement came as the South Korean kimchi premium normalized following a yearly high. As CryptoPotatoreported, such developments typically lead to a price drop.

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Nevertheless, the cryptocurrency bounced off and has regained more than $1,500 since its low. As of writing these lines, BTC stands just above $57,000.

On the positive side, the altcoin market has retraced even harder. Consequently, bitcoin’s market capitalization has recovered a little less than 1% and stands around 55% after dipping below that level yesterday.

Altcoins Deep in Red

The alternative coins were on a roll in the past week or so, registering new records. Ripple was among the best performers by adding 100% of value in that timeframe, reaching a 3-year high at over $1,10, and becoming the 4th largest cryptocurrency by market cap.

However, XRP has retraced with about 11% since yesterday, despite the company’s CEO claiming that the court hearing against the SEC went well for the payment processor.

Ethereum dropped below $2,000 but has jumped slightly and currently stands at $2,020. Binance Coin (-2%), Polkadot (-4%), Cardano (-6%), Uniswap (-2%), Litecoin (-5%), and Chainlink (-5%) are also in the red.

The situation with the lower- and mid-cap altcoins is significantly more volatile, as one could expect. Helium (-15%), Ontology (-14%), Qtum (-14%), NEM (-12%), EOS (-12%), Waves (-11%), and Bitcoin SV (-10%) have also retraced with double-digits.

On the other hand, WazurX (37%), 1inch (23%), Enjin Coin (23%), Harmony (21%), PancakeSwap (12%), Yearn.Finance (12%) and Conflux Network (10%) have gained the most since yesterday.

GAMEE Token (GMEE) to Launch on Uniswap on 8 April 2021; Public Presale Sold Out in 7 Minutes; Concluded 2.2M USD Private Presale

7 April 2021 – Hong Kong –Animoca Brands and its subsidiary GAMEE announced that the GAMEE Token (GMEE) will launch on Uniswap on 8 April 2021 at 9 a.m. (UTC) at an opening price of 0.0888 USD, paired with ether (ETH), USD Coin (USDC), REVV, TOWER, and Lympo (LYM).

GAMEE held a public presale of GMEE on 2 April 2021 that sold out within 7 minutes. GAMEE has also concluded a 2.2 Million USD private presale of the GAMEE Tokens, with key investors including Metakovan from Metapurse (who recently bought Beeple’s “The First 5000 Days” at auction for 69.3 Million USD), OKEx’s Block Dream Fund, Mind Fund, Genesis Block, Smile Tech, Summit 33, Longling Capital, AKG Ventures, Everest Ventures, and other prominent angel investors.

Uniswap

GMEE is an ERC-20 fungible utility token designed to recognize and reward the efforts of players and to drive engagement on GAMEE’s social casual gaming platform. GMEE tokens have a variety of utility: they will serve as player rewards earned within GAMEE games, they will be used to pay for entry fees in special events, and they will have governance functions, including allowing token holders to vote on GAMEE roadmaps, game deployment, and the distribution of prize and rewards pools.

The supply of GMEE is fixed at 3,180,000,000 with all tokens minted at one time (contract address). More information on GMEE is available in the lightpaper.

Official launch on Uniswap on 8 April 2021

GMEE will be paired with ETH, USDC, REVV, TOWER, and LYM on Uniswap starting on 8 April 2021 at 9 a.m. (UTC). The opening price at launch is set to 0.0888 USD per GMEE. These GAMEE Tokens will be supplied by the GMEE Liquidity Pool (tokenomics and release schedule can be seen at this Medium post).

Successful GAMEE Tokens presale

On 2 April 2021, GAMEE held its first public presale of GMEE, hosted on the web site of its sister project REVV at https://revvmotorsport.com. 800 vouchers were available for this sale representing a total 5,000,000 GMEE. All vouchers were sold out within 7 minutes.

Vouchers will be redeemable for GMEE starting on 8 July 2021, three months after the token launch. The vouchers themselves are not locked and owners can now trade them without restriction on any secondary markets such as OpenSea. More information about the first public presale of the GAMEE Token can be found at the official Medium post.

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About GAMEE

GAMEE, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, is a high-engagement hyper-casual gaming platform where users complete game missions, compete in tournaments and earn prizes for their activity. GAMEE was founded in 2015 in the Czech Republic and now has 25 million registered users. Start playing at https://www.gamee.com.

About Animoca Brands

Animoca Brands is a leader in the field of digital entertainment, specializing in blockchain, gamification, and artificial intelligence technologies to develop and publish a broad portfolio of products including the REVV token and SAND token; original games including The Sandbox, Crazy Kings, and Crazy Defense Heroes; and products utilizing popular intellectual properties including Formula 1®, Marvel, WWE, Power Rangers, MotoGP™, and Doraemon. Animoca Brands’ portfolio of blockchain investments and partnerships includes Lucid Sight, Dapper Labs (creators of CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot), WAX, Harmony, and Decentraland. Subsidiaries include The Sandbox, Quidd, Gamee, nWay, and Lympo. For more information visit www.animocabrands.com or get updates by following Animoca Brands on Facebook or Twitter.

Bitcoin Miners Hit Jackpot as Hash Rate Peaks Again

Data from on-chain analytics provider Glassnode has reported that Bitcoin’s average hash rate hit a new all-time high this week, crossing a daily average of 178 exahashes per second for the first time in history.

Bitinfocharts confirms the record high, reporting the current hash rate at 176 EH/s. It topped 150 EH/s twice in February and has remained at these high levels for the past two months, steadily increasing.

Hashrate is often considered as computing ‘horsepower’ for the Bitcoin network and a strong sign of its security. The higher the hashrate, the harder it is to attack the network.

The bullish on-chain metrics were observed by data scientist Rafael Schultze-Kraft [@n3ocortex], who added that mining difficulty has also hit a new all-time high.

1/ A thread on #Bitcoin miner metrics.

First, some fundamentals.

Bitcoin’s average hash rate hit a new ATH yesterday – crossing a daily average of 178 exahash / sec for the first time in history.

Miners keep spinning up machines – hash rate is up only.https://t.co/SEdtQGNsT7pic.twitter.com/vIjVGyH8QC

— Rafael Schultze-Kraft (@n3ocortex) April 6, 2021

Mining Never More Profitable

The analyst noted that Bitcoin miners have been making more than $50 million per day for the past month. He put this into perspective by pointing out that a year ago, this number was around $12 million – so current earnings are a fourfold increase despite the block subsidy being cut in half in May 2020’s halving.

Miners are also now holding on to the new coins they’re minting as the net position has flipped back to green, according to Glassnode. In the run-up to the $40K price level, miners were aggressively selling off to cover their costs, but they’ve now switched back into accumulation mode.

“In fact, the Bitcoin unspent supply (BTC that has never left the original mining addresses), has started to increase again after a quick and sharp drop of around 15k BTC at the beginning of the year. More hodling than spending.”

He added that direct BTC transfers from miner to exchange wallets have been going back down significantly, and even USD-dominated miner to exchange volume has decreased despite a stable price. However, miner activity represents a tiny fraction of BTC trading volumes as a whole.

The analyst concluded that these metrics are very bullish, and miners have little incentive to cash out now or capitulate as many predicted after the halving.

Bitcoin Price Update

At the time of press, Bitcoin was trading down 1% on the day at $56,700, according to Coingecko. It is down at the same time last week by 3.4% but remains within the month-long range bound channel it has formed.

Bitcoin has not dropped below $50K for over a month, which is also a bullish sign that support is holding strong.

Private equity funds: get strong returns from these bargain investment trusts

Fund-of-funds PIN trades on a near 15% discount despite having cleaned up an unwieldy share structure a couple of years ago and exited a long tail of small holdings in the portfolio. Investment performance over all periods, including back to inception in 1987, is a remarkably consistent 12% per year. Given that most of the portfolio was last valued at the end of September, there is sure to be more to come. Despite the absence of a dividend, the shares are cheap.

Intermediate Capital took over management of ICGT five years ago, giving the fund access to a broader range of private-equity contacts and expertise and enabling nearly half the portfolio to be internally managed. This part of the portfolio has returned 19% per year over five years while the third party funds have returned 14%, promising continued improvement as the internally managed portfolio grows. This progress should bring down the discount from a heady 18%, as it did for Apax.

NB Private Equity (LSE: NBPE) managed a 12-month return of 21% but still trades on a discount of 25% to estimated NAV, reckons analyst Chris Brown at JPM Cazenove, making it “excellent value”. He estimates the discount for Harbourvest (LSE: HVPE) to be 19%, which looks anomalous given its excellent record (a return of 100% over five years) and high exposure to the tech sector (29%). The record of Princess Private Equity (LSE: PEY) is even better, 106% over five years, but Brown rates it as only a “hold” as its discount of 16% is “fair relative to peers”. In absolute terms, it still looks attractive.

Perhaps the biggest bargain is Oakley Capital (LSE: OCI), which is trading on a 26% discount after an 18% return in 2020 and 114% over five years. Performance is held back by the 31% of the portfolio in cash, but this is matched more than twice over by commitments to invest in Oakley funds. The portfolio looks modestly valued given its focus on the popular technology and education sectors. The third leg of its investment strategy, consumer brands, provides recovery prospects once the coronavirus crisis passes – notably via Time Out, the well-known publisher of entertainment and nightlife guides, which has been expanding into food centres and events in cities around the world.

“I am very positive about the outlook for private equity and believe that it will continue to out-perform public equities,” says Gardey. “Long-term ownership has provided superior governance and there have been fewer disasters in the last ten years.” This confidence is reflected across the sector, which makes the cheapness of most of the listed trusts an anomaly. Perhaps, as one cynic says, “the brokers are too busy earning fees from issuing equity in anything renewable to pay any attention to listed private equity”.

Three stocks to buy to forge a path to our green future

The world is undergoing rapid change amid the degradation of the natural environment and the looming breakdown of the global climate system. There is therefore a worldwide pan-industrial effort to use resources with much greater efficiency. To exploit this secular theme, we identify companies that either deliver or benefit from the efficient use of resources. We have strict criteria covering both quality and value.

We like to own firms with enduring assets that generate predictable long-term cash flows. They must benefit from high barriers to entry (so it is difficult for potential rivals to gain a foothold in the market) and trade at a reasonable valuation. This approach has served us well: the Menhaden investment trust’s net asset value (NAV) has risen by an annual 11% in the past five years.

Helping technology go green

Google’s parent company Alphabet, (Nasdaq: GOOGL) is helping the entire technology industry transition to a more sustainable footing. The company is one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable-power worldwide and aims to run only on carbon-free energy by 2030. The firm occupies a dominant position in search engines and has the ability to monetise an unparalleled level of user interaction, which should underpin revenue growth for many years. Furthermore, there should be significant potential to expand margins as YouTube, Cloud and other business lines mature and investments in start-ups mature.

Sophisticated internet infrastructure

Telecoms and media group Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR), a key broadband provider to over 20 million households, is set to play an important role in enabling significant improvements in resource and energy-efficiency with the development of the internet of things (IoT). Its hybrid fibre-coax network (comprising a mix of fibre-optic cables and coaxial cables, the type used to deliver cable television), is critical for infrastructure. Traditional telecom providers still partly rely on copper telephone wires, while high upfront costs serve to limit fibre build-outs by incumbents and new entrants.

Charter offers a superior bundled connectivity product (including mobile) at a lower price than competitors. We believe it can continue to deliver robust growth in free cash flow per share based upon a combination of revenue growth, falling capital intensity, share buybacks and lower customer turnover.

On track for industry-leading profits

Canadian Pacific Railway (Toronto: CP) owns infrastructure that can’t be replicated. Prohibitive start-up costs and building regulations ensure that no one is building railways today. Economies of scale mean that transporting freight by rail is up to four times more fuel-efficient than by road, which helps provide rail operators with a significant cost advantage over their main competitor, trucks, on longer-haul routes.

We believe these scale benefits will persist even as we shift to electric and autonomous vehicles because rail should be able to harness the same technologies. The proposed merger with Kansas City Southern will create a unique footprint linking Canada, the US and Mexico. The ensuing opportunities should help the company deliver industry-leading earnings growth in the years ahead.

The best ways to invest in private equity

The multi-year time frames of private equity are highly beneficial to the managers. Once the investors – who are known as limited partners (LPs) – have committed to invest a certain amount, the private-equity fund manager – or general partner (GP) – will call the capital in stages over the investment period to fund the acquisition of companies. This phase will usually last five years. Investments will usually be held for three to seven years, after which the manager will exit by selling the firm to another private-equity fund or a trade buyer (another company in the same industry), or listing it on the stock exchange through an initial public offering (IPO). The fund may be able to make some distributions to the LPs relatively soon if the investments are performing adequately, but it takes a few years to get one’s initial capital back and up to 12 to 15 years to realise all the returns.

Meanwhile, PE managers can generally charge 1.5% management fee on committed capital (even though it is not invested yet) and take a performance fee (known as carried interest) – typically 20% – if the fund achieves returns above a certain rate (an internal rate of return, or IRR, of 8% is common). The manager may be able to use bridge financing (short-term loans taken out with the intention of replacing them with longer-term funding) to postpone the call of capital or to accelerate distributions, both of which help juice the IRR by altering the timing of cash flows. (For this reason, you should not look solely at IRR as a measure of the manager’s returns, but also look at the multiple – what it paid for the company and what it’s now worth.)

The secret of their success

When a PE manager sets out to raise a new pool of capital, the detailed documentation (known as the private placement memorandum) will underline how they will deliver returns by finding undervalued firms and adding operational value to them by cutting costs, outsourcing production, investing in brand growth and internationalising operations. However, the true skill of PE managers is financial engineering. They take advantage of low interest rates to gear up their investments (and often to fund small acquisitions or “add-ons” at lower valuation multiples that grow the size of the businesses quickly). Higher leverage improves tax efficiency because interest costs are tax deductible, it imposes financial discipline on the firm’s management and magnifies returns if all goes well. It also supports high prices: the ratio of enterprise value (equity plus debt) to earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation (EV/Ebitda) on new deals averaged 11.4 in the US and 12.6 in Europe last year (versus a past average of between eight and nine), with over half of deals geared above seven times Ebitda.