Stock brokerage app Robinhood has begun rolling out its new cryptocurrency trading platform to users in 5 states. Beginning
Thursday, users who pre-registered for Robinhood Crypto will begin receiving emails inviting them to participate in an early
access program for the platform, which allows investors to trade cryptocurrencies, stocks, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
side-by-side on a single platform. Despite the limited roll-out, the creation of Robinhood Crypto promises to introduce
millions of new customers to cryptocurrency trading over the long-term. It took less than one week for the new platform to
achieve 1 million pre-registrations, and the firm said that its brokerage platform already has 4 million users, who
collectively have achieved more than $100 billion in transaction volume. At launch, Robinhood Crypto supports Bitcoin and
Ethereum trading, although users — including those who do not yet have access to Robinhood Crypto — can monitor and track
market data for 16 cryptocurrencies, indicating that the company intends to expand it cryptoasset offerings in the future.
The US securities regulator has charged the now-shuttered BitFunder with attempting to hide information about a major hack.
Meanwhile, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York simultaneously charged BitFunder founder, 37-year
old Jon E. Montroll of Texas who also ran digital wallet service WeExchange Australia, with two counts of perjury and
obstruction of justice. He faces decades in prison for the combined charges. Chief among the charges by the SEC is that
former bitcoin exchange BitFunder failed to disclose that hackers stole 6,000 bitcoins from customers on the BitFunder
platform, worth an estimated USD 70 million in today’s terms, that BitFunder was unable to cover. The hackers did so by
exploiting a weakness in the exchange’s code. The hack occurred in July 2013, and Montroll allegedly misled regulators by
testifying then that the exchange’s systems were successful at blocking it. He went to great lengths to conceal the breach,
even transferring some of his personal bitcoin to disguise the losses. Meanwhile, after misrepresenting the health of the
exchange’s balance sheet, he allegedly lied to regulators yet again, saying he learned of the hack only after regulators
France’s chief financial markets watchdog said Thursday that it will crack down on unregulated cryptocurrency futures and
derivatives trading. In a statement, the Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF) said that it had observed a variety of online
trading platforms launch cryptocurrency-based derivatives such as binary options, contracts for differences (CFDs), and Forex
contracts. The agency, which attributed this development to the “recent cryptocurrency boom,” said that it had concluded that
cash-settled cryptocurrency contracts qualified as derivatives, making them subject to AMF oversight. Bloomberg reports that
at least two French trading platforms — Plus500 Ltd. and IG Group Holdings Plc. — had reported strong growth in their
quarterly earnings reports, which they attributed in part to their cryptocurrency futures and derivatives products. In the
US, regulated exchanges CBOE and CME began listing Bitcoin futures contracts last December, while cryptocurrency derivatives
exchange LedgerX began processing orders several months earlier. Most of these products have targeted institutional
investors, although CBOE’s contracts have been cheap enough — each contract represents 1 BTC compared to CME’s 5 BTC
contracts — to attract interest from retail investors as well.
As recently covered by CCN, Venezuela’s Petro (PTR) oil-backed cryptocurrency is now being sold to investors in its pre-sale
stage. Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro has stated that the government already netted $735 million from the token’ sale,
without backing his claim with any evidence. The Petro is set to be used to pay taxes, fees, and other public needs, as well
as in international deals, particularly those related to oil. 84.2 billion tokens will be disbursed, out of the 100 million
ordered by Maduro. The country’s opposition-run congress has criticized the cryptocurrency’s sale as an “illegal and
unconstitutional” instrument to illegally mortgage the country’s oil reserves, yet investors are still seemingly pouring in.
Earlier this month, citing the project’s whitepaper, CCN reported that the Petro is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token that’s set
to have a private presale. According to the whitepaper found on the project’s official website, hosted by the country’s
Ministerio del Poder Popular para Educacion Universitaria, Ciencia e Tecnologia (MPPEUCT), that report was correct.
The market’s mid-week slump continued on Thursday, as just three of the index’s 100 largest cryptocurrencies managed to post
single-day increases against the US dollar. Following the day’s bearish pivot, the Bitcoin price is at risk of dropping below
$10,000, while other top coins continue to shed market share. The Bitcoin price returned an index-matching seven percent
decline, which forced the value of the flagship cryptocurrency down to $10,274 on Bitfinex. This signifies a more than $1,500
decline since Tuesday when the Bitcoin price appeared poised to punch past resistance at $12,000. Bitcoin now has a $175.2
billion market cap. This translates into a 39.4 percent market share, which — notably — represents a 0.3 percent increase
from its previous-day level, indicating that traders are rotating their holdings back into Bitcoin. There does not appear to
be a definitive trigger for the decline. Perhaps, unsure about the duration of the recovery, traders wise enough to
strengthen their positions when Bitcoin was trading near $6,000 are taking money off the table to secure profits.