In what is becoming a regular development, last week saw more notable names in finance get involved with cryptocurrency. In addition to their consideration of blockchain technology and Ripple’s protocol, there was even an outright partnership for processing bitcoins as a currency.
Nasdaq, the world’s second largest stock exchange by market capitalization, disclosed that it is working with blockchain API startup Chain for its Private Market project. The trial will use the blockchain to streamline the transfer of pre-IPO shares.
Canadian bank CIBC also mentioned its consideration of the blockchain, acknowledging challenges posed by disruptive technologies. Struggling Royal Bank of Scotland, hammered by another embarrassing series of technical glitches, is now testing the integration of Ripple’s protocol for payments, in addition to its already testing of blockchain technology.
The potential of Bitcoin’s blockchain to serve in a wide variety of applications was recognized by the Canadian Senate, which warned not to stifle innovation through regulation. It even had its report embedded in the blockchain.
Barclays took it a step further, partnering with bitcoin brokerage service Safello to work on a payments platform for bitcoin donations. Safello was one of three Bitcoin startups to be accepted into the bank’s Techstars Fintech Accelerator Program. The partnership was a rare example of a bank willing to work with bitcoin as a currency, and previously unheard of with an institution of Barclays’ scale. It was also remarkable given Safello’s previous troubles working with banks in the UK.
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Investment in the crypto sector continued to trickle in. Hardware wallet provider Case got $1.5 million in seed funding. Crypto-focused payments processor Vogogo raised a $12.5 million financing, and Crypto Currency Partners rebranded to Blockchain Capital, while raising another $7 million for further investment in the sector. Altcoin brokerage ShapeShift surpassed its $1.785 million crowdfunding goal.
On the legal side, New York State’s BitLicense regulations formally came into effect, leaving businesses with a 45-day window to become compliant.
Shaun Bridges and Carl Force, the two federal agents implicated in Bitcoin fraud during the Silk Road investigation, agreed to plead guilty. The operator on an unlicensed Bitcoin-powered poker site also agreed to a plea deal.
A previously unknown wallet provider attempted to ‘stress test’ the integrity of Bitcoin’s block size limitations, but technical difficulties delayed the test for at least a week. The test may illustrate future challenges for Bitcoin’s sought graduation from an experiment into mainstream use.
Bitcoin prices ended the week in positive territory after a late rally, gaining 3.3%. Litecoin returned toward its recent 2015 highs above $3.00, gaining 18% in choppy trade.