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Okcoin Awards $100K Grant to Brink, A Non-Profit Organization For Bitcoin Development

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Cryptocurrency exchange Okcoin is continuing its rash of grants to support the open-source development of the Bitcoin protocol.

On Thursday, the exchange announced that it has awarded a $100,000 grant to Brink for the non-profit organization to continue funding Bitcoin developers and researchers.

Brink’s first round of grants allowed developers to work full-time on projects ranging from the security and privacy of second layer protocols to overall Bitcoin Core coding and code review.

Bitcoin, a network that captures $685 billion in value, only has around 30 full-time core developers, whereas more traditional tech firms have thousands.

As bitcoin continues to scale, grants such as these help more developers work on ensuring the protocol can handle the challenges ahead.

Brink supports newer developers through fellowships as well as more mature ecosystem developers through grants.

Last week, Okcoin awarded João Barbosa, a highly respected code reviewer in the industry, with a grant of an undisclosed amount. His work helps with the overall privacy and security of the protocol.

Barbosa had previously returned a grant awarded to him by Coinbase, citing personal reasons.

“We partnered with Brink because as well as sponsoring individual developers with specific roadmaps in the last year, Brink is growing the Bitcoin Core developer ecosystem: mentorship, education, connecting and collaborating with peers,” Okcoin CEO Hong Fang said in an email. “Brink allows us to extend the reach of our grants, while we work with individual devs whose work we support.”

As for Barbosa, Fang said the grant was to support the development of Bitcoin Core’s user experience on mobile.

Barbosa said it makes sense to contribute to support on mobile devices given that mobile usage has been increasing steadily compared to desktop computers.

“People tend to judge software by its look, and the existing GUI is pretty much outdated,” he said in the post. “With better UX, we can push people to run their own Bitcoin node from their pockets – this is especially relevant for people who can’t access a desktop computer.”

Brink co-founder Mike Schmidt said Brink is grateful for the generous contribution from Okcoin.
“We have recently closed submissions for our latest round of grants and will be evaluating applications and announcing grants soon,” he said in an email to CoinDesk. “We are excited for this next round of grants and will be funding impactful developers similar to our first round of grants.”

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Banking Giant BBVA Opens Bitcoin Trading and Custody Service in Switzerland

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Spanish banking giant BBVA’s swiss entity, BBVA Switzerland, has started offering bitcoin trading and custody services.

Announcing the news on Friday, BBVA Switzerland said the services will be available to all of its private banking clients from Monday, June 21. The launch comes six months after the bank began trialing the services in Switzerland.

“This gradual roll-out has allowed BBVA Switzerland to test the service’s operations, strengthen security and, above all, detect that there is a significant desire among investors for crypto-assets or digital assets as a way of diversifying their portfolios, despite their volatility and high risk,” said Alfonso Gomez, CEO of BBVA Switzerland.

While the bank currently only supports bitcoin, it said the aim is to also offer other cryptocurrencies in the future. As for the launch of the services in other countries, BBVA Switzerland said that would depend on maturity, demand, and regulation in those markets.

BBVA said its bitcoin services are novel as clients can manage their investments alongside traditional assets in the same portfolio. Customers willing to convert their bitcoin into fiat and vice versa can do so “without delays and without the illiquidity that affects other digital wallets or independent brokers,” said BBVA. That’s because the bank operates with several sources for converting cryptocurrencies, it said, without disclosing those sources.

BBVA’s services come as more mega-banks open up to the crypto space. In recent weeks, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon, and other financial institutions have moved to provide crypto services to their clients.

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Goldman Sachs Partners Crypto Management Firm Galaxy Digital, Offers Bitcoin Futures

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Galaxy Digital’s co-president Damien Vanderwilt announced today that his firm has partnered with Goldman Sachs to help provide bitcoin futures products. The partnership marks one of the first occasions where an American multinational investment bank has partnered with a crypto asset service provider.

Galaxy Digital is a financial services and investment management innovator founded by the company’s CEO Mike Novogratz. Vanderwilt explains that Goldman Sachs, the bank with $2.1 trillion assets under management (AUM), may entice other financial incumbents to follow its lead.

“There’s a whole dynamic with the major banks that I’ve seen time and time again: safety in numbers,” Vanderwilt explained during his discussion about the subject. “Once one bank is out there doing this, the other banks will have [fear of missing out] and they’ll get on-boarded because their clients have been asking for it.”

According to Vanderwilt, Goldman depends on Galaxy because regulatory policy stops the multinational investment bank from handling the leading crypto asset directly. Max Minton, head of digital assets for Goldman’s Asia-Pacific region said during the announcement that the bank procures clientele with the assets they demand.

“Our goal is to equip our clients with best-execution pricing and secure access to the assets they want to trade,” Minton remarked. “In 2021, this now includes crypto, and we are pleased to have found a partner with a broad range of liquidity venues and differentiated derivatives capabilities spanning the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”

The statements from Minton and Vanderwilt follow the report that said Goldman was prepping to offer ether futures and options swaps. At the time, Goldman said “institutional adoption will continue” in the crypto space.

In mid-April Galaxy Digital revealed it had entered the bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) fray when it submitted its Form S-1 registration with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

Vanderwilt also said that when more institutional players join the crypto ecosystem volatility will grow less and less.

“You’re moving the market participants from being north of 90% retail, a huge chunk of which have access to ridiculous amounts of leverage, into an institutional community, who have proper, tried-and-tested rules and regulations about leverage, asset-liability mismatch, and risk,” Vanderwilt concluded.

“The more activity that moves into the institutional community, the less volatility there will be.

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Central American Bank for Economic Integration Supports El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law

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The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), which has 15 member countries, will help El Salvador implement bitcoin as legal tender.

The CABEI president has expressed his support. “We’re very optimistic,” he said.

The head of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) expressed his support for El Salvador’s bitcoin law Monday. CABEI Executive President Dante Mossi said that the bank will give El Salvador technical assistance to implement bitcoin as legal tender.

Last week, El Salvador became the first country in the world to pass a law making cryptocurrency legal tender.

The CABEI has 15 member countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Belize, Mexico, Republic of China (Taiwan), Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Cuba, and Korea. The bank’s objective is to “promote the economic integration and the balanced economic and social development of the Central American region,” its website details.

Mossi said his organization will work with El Salvador’s finance ministry and central bank to select a team to work on the implementation, Reuters reported.

Mossi believes that the move to make bitcoin legal tender would offer many benefits to people in El Salvador. For example, it would lower the cost of remittances for relatives of Salvadorans living abroad, he explained.

The CABEI executive president also called on El Salvador’s government to develop a regulatory framework for bitcoin in order to prevent “bad actors” from taking advantage of the system’s anonymity, the publication conveyed.

Following El Salvador’s move to make bitcoin legal tender, lawmakers in a number of Latin American countries have expressed their interest in bitcoin.

The countries include Paraguay, Argentina, Panama, Brazil, and Mexico. Moreover, Tonga and Tanzania have also reportedly expressed interest in bitcoin.

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