Crypto News Round-Up: January 13-19, 2019

Binance Bitcoin Central Bank Cryptocurrency Cryptocurrency Exchange Cryptocurrency Markets Entourage Hollywood Jersey SETL

“Cryptos” Show Coming

It wasn’t too long when a show by the name of Entourage took the world by storm. The show, which premiered in 2004, was noted for the fact that it emphasized a tight group of friends who maneuvered through Hollywood. The cast’s star was Vincent Chase, portrayed by Adrian Grenier, and his best friend and manager, Eric Murphy, was portrayed by Kevin Connolly, who also went on to direct the 2018 feature film Gotti.

Connolly now apparently has signed on to a show about cryptocurrency, where he will be acting (no pun intended) in both an actor/director role. The show will still revolve around Hollywood, and focus on the fact that a group of friends resort to the cryptocurrency world when they cannot find traditional Hollywood funding. Specifically, they end up launching a token and a decentralized Hollywood studio.

The famous actor popped up at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami to learn more about the scene, admitting that this was the first time that he had ever attended a cryptocurrency-related event. He pointed out that much of the public still didn’t understand the sector, even if they were interested in it. He stated: “The thing that scares people about crypto is a lack of understanding. People like myself are still learning, but the curiosity is there.” Connolly admits that his producers understand the world better than him, and that he was more interested in the friendships involved. He elaborated: “For me, it’s about relationships and friendships. That’s what people tune in to see.”

If the show comes anywhere near the level of success of Entourage, it could be huge for the cryptocurrency world. While it might not have a direct effect on the markets, it certainly would raise the level of awareness to a new level. The show was quite critically acclaimed, helping boost the careers of many of its cast members, including Jeremy Piven, who portrayed Ari Gold, the intense and abrasive agent of Vincent Chase. The series was nominated for 26 Emmy Awards, 14 Golden Globe Awards, and six Screen Actors Guild Awards. It has since been syndicated across the world.

The show’s producers hope that the inclusion of Connolly will lead to various platforms picking up the project. They plan on creating ten episodes in the hopes that Netflix or Amazon Prime might be interested, for example. Two of the producers, Jason King, and Erik Sords, are directly involved in the cryptocurrency space. Sords has created “Dionysia”, a decentralized studio, and Sords is one of the founders of Academy School of Blockchain, which hopes to educate individuals around the world about blockchain technology.

The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami previously received some negative press for renting out a stripclub for what it had dubbed a “networking party”. Many in the cryptocurrency community pointed out this sent the wrong message to women, many of whom felt too uncomfortable to attend.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see whether the “Cryptos” show gets picked up, and whether critics approve or not.

Binance Still Expanding

During a year where many cryptocurrency-related companies were not able to survive, Binance has proved, yet again, that it is an anomaly with respect to the sector. The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily volume made headlines when it strategically expanded to Jersey, a self-governing dependency of Great Britain. Many point out that the move could have quite the implication for cryptocurrency in the sector, especially given recent political events in the UK.

Specifically, UK’s prime minister Theresa May has just suffered arguably the largest political vote defeat in the country’s history. Afterwards, May narrowly survived a “no confidence” vote, and the pressure is on the prime minister to come up with a new plan for lawmakers to finally approve with regards to negotiations with the European Union.

Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, often referred to as “CZ” within the cryptocurrency community, has been vocal about his praise, stating the country is “very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech.” The company itself has been speaking about a potential partnership since early 2018.

For those who don’t know, Jersey is a Crown dependency and is well-known for its offshore financial service sector, but is not part of the UK. It is only 8 kilometers long and 14.5 kilometers wide.

Binance Jersey has now officially launched, offering crypto pairs with both Bitcoin and Ethereum, and the British Pound and the euro. The CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, has tweeted about how much demand there has been with regards to user registrations. There was also a promotion surrounding the launch, with 20 euros being rewarded to the first 5,000 users who registered.

Binance is not the only company to think strategically about cryptocurrency and Brexit, as Coinbase, one of the most recognized companies in the sector, has opened a Dublin office. Ireland’s Minister for Financial Services openly praised the decision, stating that “the decision highlights the competitive offering and attractiveness of Ireland for financial services.”

With regards to cryptocurrency awareness, there are few regions in the world that can match UK in terms of optimism about the sector. An astonishing majority - 93% - of the UK population have heard of cryptocurrency.

This is not the first that Binance has launched an exchange in a new country, as many noted that it was one of the few cryptocurrency exchanges to involve Africa into its expansion strategy. Specifically, Binance launched Binance Uganda, and many believe that the entire continent’s unbanked population offers a unique fintech opportunity considering that cryptocurrency might be a better option with regards to payment options thanks to the fact that money can be sent for low transaction fees.

Former French Central Bank Chief Joins SETL

One of the reasons that many people have continued strength in the cryptocurrency markets is the fact that there are those with a background in traditional finance who have transitioned into careers in the cryptocurrency world. Some notable examples include Amber Baldet, who left JP Morgan Chase to found blockchain startup Clovyr, and Michael Novogratz, who went from running a hedge fund to founding Galaxy Digital, his cryptocurrency hedge fund. It appears now that a former French Central Bank Chief, Christian Noyer, is joining the board of directors at blockchain startup SETL.

One of the reasons why this is interesting is because many believe that cryptocurrency is a direct threat to central banks. This is a view that many support, due to the fact that money can be transferred 24/7 in real-time across borders, while banks rely on transaction fees and take much longer to execute. In fact, a commercial for Ripple even humorously depicted a bank teller traveling the world to highlight the fact that blockchain allows for quick and efficient payments.

SETL, by definition, involves those from the finance world much more than other cryptocurrency startups, because it actually seeks to make cryptocurrency trading easier and more efficient. Its founder used to be an executive for JP Morgan Chase and also founded the Bitcoin exchange Roolo, as well. There are some major finance players that have invested in SETL, such as Citi and Deloitte. The company is also seeking to launch a record-keeping system called IZNES as well.

The chairman of SETL, who worked to use for Barclays, stated: “Christian Noyer brings a wealth of experience in the financial, regulatory, economic management and central banking world.”

Peter Randall, a well-known stock trader and cofounder of SETL, also pointed out that this addition was much more than symbolic. He stated: "There are deeply experienced people on the board who have a stellar reputation in their fields and contribute to oversight and strategy, and the formation of ideas. It's not a brass plate on the door."

While some are skeptical, many believe that blockchain technology has the capability to the change the security settlement sector, and SETL is hoping to be a major player in this space. In fact, in October 2018, the company received a license from a French securities regulator.

There are other major names on the board, including Rachel Lomax, the former deputy governor of the Bank of England, and Ed Richards, who used to head a major telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Mr. Noyer did not simply spend a year or two at Banque De France, the central bank of France which was established over two centuries ago, in 1800. He oversaw the central bank from 2003 to 2015. Before that, Noyer was the Vice President of the European Central Bank from 1998 to 2002.

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