Thursday (June 14) turned out pretty well for ether, which CNBC described as the “world’s second largest cryptocurrency.” The price of ether increased 9 percent after William Hinman, head of the Division of Corporate Finance for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said that his agency does not consider the digital currency to be a security. The price of ether hit $520.88 after his comments, made at the Yahoo All Markets Summit: Crypto conference in San Francisco.
“While SEC leaders have publicly labeled bitcoin as a commodity, this is the first clear statement by the financial watchdog on how they plan to regulate ether,” CNBC reported. “Hinman cited the cryptocurrency’s decentralized and public network, and lack of a third party expecting to make a profit as reasons that the agency won’t treat it like a security.”
In well-that-didn’t-really-work news, Western Union has said that it realized no savings from its use of Ripple XTC for transactions, though Ripple said that the money-transmitting firm did not do a “proper case study,” according to NewsBTC.
“Ripple has pegged its reputation and that of its cryptocurrency, XRP, to the fact that it is a faster, cheaper way to move money across borders,” NewsBTC reported. “The loss of Western Union as a client could be a major setback for Ripple, but the company has pointed out that the Western Union’s test case is too small to make any conclusive judgments.”
It also seems that criminals are moving beyond bitcoin. That’s the theme of a story this week in Data Breach Today, which said that “in response to bitcoin’s volatility, many crime gangs have been seeking payment in more stable cryptocurrencies.” Make no mistake: bitcoin remains the preferred payment method for cybercriminals, but research showed that the fees associated with bitcoin, its price fluctuations and long transaction-processing times are inspiring more use of monero.
Meanwhile, AlphaPoint‘s expertise is helping organizations launch “cryptocurrency exchanges and tokenize assets,” and has raised $15 million in a funding round led by Galaxy Digital, according to a report Thursday (June 14) from Bloomberg. Earlier this spring, AlphaPoint announced it would build a platform for trading digital gold with the Royal Mint and CME Group.
In other news, the New York Department of Financial Services has extended a friendly hand to two digital currency firms, according to a report Thursday (June 14) in Reuters. The global financial services company Xapo gained a virtual currency license from the state regulators so it can offer a “digital wallet and vault service,” the report said. PayPal board member Wences Cacares co-founded Xapo, and “its board of advisers is led by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and former Citibank Chairman and Chief Executive John Reed.”
The state agency also approved a request from New York-based itBit to “trade and offer custody services to four additional virtual currencies — Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin and Stellar Lumens,” Reuters said.
Chad Cascarilla, chief executive officer of itBit, said to Reuters, “itBit will immediately start to offer custody, escrow and over-the-counter trading services, with trading on the exchange to follow.”
On a pop culture note, the man who played police officer T.J. Hooker in the 1980s crime drama of the same name — along with some other roles along the way — is standing up for bitcoin. The Chicago Tribune reports that William Shatner has signed on as spokesman for Solar Alliance, a Canadian firm that said it will build a solar-powered bitcoin mining facility in a southern Illinois.
The process of validating and recording transactions requires “huge amounts of electricity,” the paper said, making solar an attractive option — as does the state’s requirement that utility companies buy renewable energy. The town of Murphysboro offered the company a “65,000-square-foot former label-making factory that has been vacant since 2004.”
It’s unclear how much Shatner — who also portrayed an eccentric lawyer in the ABC comedy-drama “The Practice” in the 2000s — knows about bitcoin mining.
“It’s an interesting idea to see it at work because … it’s so esoteric that it’s difficult to understand,” he told the newspaper.