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Crypto Trader Cumberland Upgrades from Skype to Wall Street Interface

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Cryptocurrency market maker Cumberland is modernizing the way it handles over-the-counter (OTC) trades with clients.

Announced Tuesday, the unit of financial trading giant DRW has unveiled a so-called single-dealer platform called Marea, allowing institutional investors to interact with Cumberland through a screen-based interface, rather than negotiating trades by phone or Skype

As such, the new portal brings Cumberland in line with the way OTC trading has been conducted on Wall Street for more than a decade in traditional asset classes like stocks.

“This is a single-dealer platform and a way for our counterparties to interact with our markets, execute, trade and also view their trading history via a platform,” Bobby Cho, Cumberland’s global head of trading, told CoinDesk, adding:

“We looked at what other asset classes have done in the past, and that was an evolution from voice to chat to kind of on screens.”

To start, the new OTC platform will handle trading of 10 popular cryptocurrencies and also interacts with back-office reporting, ably handled via a tie-up with trade reporting specialists MG Stover.

The initial 10 market pairs include zcash, Sterllar lumens and the U.S. dollar-linked stablecoin TrueUSD, and then the plan is to offer the other coins Cumberland trades, said Cho.

“We are hoping to expand that into all the coins that we trade here, so upwards of about 40 coins, and then expand across the different settlement fiat currencies we also settle in – dollars, Swiss francs, euros, GBP and other currencies like that,” he said.

“So it’s a little bit different from exchanges where you are set to what the exchange offers you from just an order book perspective. In the future, we hope this opens up our counterparties to trade any asset that we allow against either any fiat currency or any other crypto that we offer.”

Research and back office

Also to be added to the portal is the research Cumberland began producing in-house last year, Cho said.

Meanwhile, Marea integrates with back-office trade reporting and reconciliation of positions at the end of the day, said Cho, “whether that’s through a spreadsheet that’s downloadable or through the user interface.”

His team wasn’t going to attempt to build a “full-stack solution for front and back office in a silo,” noted Cho.

To help with the process, third party fund administrators were brought on board, such as MG Stover, which currently services over 80 crypto-dedicated hedge funds.

Matt Stover, CEO of MG Stover, said this involves simple concepts like getting a trade confirmation that is time-stamped with the right quantity and making sure funds have proper books and record.

“We take best practices from the private fund administration space and apply these to digital assets,” he said. “We are really trying to institutionalize the digital asset space.”

Bobby Cho image via CoinDesk Consensus archives

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New Zealand Blockchain Group to Request Government Blockchain Strategy

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New Zealand-based blockchain industry group BlockchainNZ announced that it will request a national blockchain strategy from the government next Thursday, according to a press release on May 21.

The executive director of Blockchain NZ, Mark Pascall, will give a presentation to the New Zealand parliament’s economic development, science and innovation select committee hearing on the potential economic advantages of implementing blockchain tech solutions in the country.

The presentation will reportedly serve as an introductory seminar on blockchain, bitcoin, smart contracts, security tokens, and decentralized autonomous organisations.

Pascall commented that Blockchain NZ wants to have its experts work together with the government to formulate this strategy, and also highlighted the financial scope of blockchain in 2019:

“So, we really want government to take blockchain seriously and produce a strategy. We can help them with that so we strike a balance between trying to plan for an unpredictable future and taking some action so we realize huge potential economic benefits for the country.”

Blockchain NZ is a group of various blockchain-oriented business, organizations and experts, that was formed in 2016. In 2018, the organization voted to become part of the not-for-profit New Zealand Tech Alliance.

Various countries have either implemented or are in the process of implementing or have already implemented national blockchain strategies.

In April 2018, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the ‘UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021.’ In addition to other benefits, the plan will purportedly reduce government expenditures on documentation.

In February, the German government announced it would form such a strategy by mid-2019. Some parliamentarians of the Bundestag stated that the strategy should also include a framework for trading cryptocurrencies.

In March, Australia revealed a national blockchain roadmap and a funding boost to support the technology’s development. The new plan aims to make Australia a national leader in the blockchain industry.





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Central Bank of Laos Issues Warning Against Using Cryptocurrency

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The central bank of Laos has warned the public against the use, purchase or sale of digital currencies, local news outlet Vientiane Times reported on May 21.

The Bank of the Lao PDR has issued a warning to financial market participants and the public against cryptocurrency transactions as they are considered illegal in the country. The bank previously banned financial institutions from conducting any operations with cryptocurrencies, as well as making investments in such an asset.

The bank is purportedly concerned about the anonymity of the sender and receiver in a cryptocurrency transaction, which it worries increases the risk of digital assets’ use in money laundering. A source familiar with the matter told Vientiane Times that authorities do not have a relevant security system to protect cryptocurrency owners.

While some countries like, Canada, Malta and Switzerland have embraced the new asset class to varying degrees, officials around the globe are still expressing skepticism toward crypto, while some hardliners call for outright bans.

In the United States, where the legal status of crypto can vary state-to-state, California Congressman Brad Sherman recently called for a full ban on cryptocurrencies. Sherman claimed that crypto presents a threat to the power of the U.S. dollar to affect world economic developments.

In April, Cointelegraph reported that the Indian government was considering a complete ban of cryptocurrencies under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act since it could purportedly be used for money laundering. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs reportedly stated that cryptocurrencies are used in fraudulent schemes to “defraud gullible investors”.

That same month, news broke that Pakistan — which banned cryptocurrency trading last April — is implementing new cryptocurrency regulations in an effort to improve its track record in fighting financial crime. The move was reportedly in part a reaction to demands from international monitoring body the Finance Action Task Force, which has repeatedly voiced concerns about cryptocurrencies’ role in terrorist financing.





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Firefox Quantum Offers Anti-Cryptojacking Feature

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Firefox Quantum, the latest version of open-source internet browser Firefox, has a new privacy toggle that protects against cryptojacking, according to a blog post by Mozilla on May 21.

Mozilla previously warned official blog post that websites can deploy scripts that launch a crypto miner on a user’s machine without them being aware — a practice known as cryptojacking.

To combat these exploitative practices, Mozilla partnered with online privacy company Disconnect to create a crypto mining blocker for their browser. Users can now toggle an opt-in feature, that purportedly blocks would-be cryptojackers from taking advantage of spare computing power to mine cryptocurrencies.

Mozilla initially announced that it would block cryptojacking in new browser releases in August 2018. As per a report by Cointelegraph, Firefox featured cryptojacking protection in its Firefox Nightly 68 and Beta 67 versions this April, just prior to the launch of Quantum.

Firefox Quantum also aims to mitigate the practice of so-called “fingerprinting,” which makes a sort of digital fingerprint of a user that is employed to monitor their activities on the internet.

Cryptojacking at the consumer level was called “essentially extinct” by cybersecurity company MalwareBytes on April 23. According to the report:

“Marked by the popular drive-by mining company CoinHive shutting down operations in early March, consumer cryptomining seems to have gone the way of the dodo. Detections of consumer-focused bitcoin miners have dropped significantly over the last year and even from last quarter, while business-focused miners have increased from the previous quarter, especially in the APAC region.”

According to the report, consumer malware detections have gone down by approximately 40%. Businesses, however, are being targeted more heavily by cryptojacking attempts, with

Business detections increasing by about 7% during the first quarter of 2019.





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