Word on the Street: BlackRock rumor gets the ball rolling

Andrew Gillick , 21 Jul 2018 - Bitcoin PriceBlockchainEthereum Price

Unsurprisingly, talk of institutional interest coincided with a crypto-market rally this week and any crypto-related news that followed only seemed to further buoy optimism. 

Rumor of BlackRock bitcoin ETF (High Impact)

The market got a shot of adrenaline on Monday on rumors that the world’s biggest asset manager BlackRock was looking into trading cryptocurrencies and even establishing a bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF).

Although the BlackRock chief executive dispelled the rumors shortly after, saying clients had “zero interest” in trading crypto, it reignited the hope that institutional investment is close. The $6 trillion financial giant is keeping track of the performance of coins, however, assessing blockchain technology for its own use and whether cryptos will be legitimized as an alternative form of currency.

Blockchain and crypto make it on to CFA exam (Medium impact)

This week was also significant as cryptocurrency entered the mainstream education curriculum for the first time. The CFA Institute said it would add the subjects of cryptocurrency and blockchain to its notoriously difficult exams to become a certified financial analyst (CFA). This addition will educate hundreds of thousands of finance professionals about crypto economics every year.

“We saw the field advancing more quickly than other fields and we also saw it as more durable. This is not a passing fad.”   Stephen Horan, CFA Institute Virginia

The CFA material on crypto and blockchain will appear alongside other fintech subjects including artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and automated trading. More crypto topics, such as the intersection of virtual currencies and economics, may eventually be added to the curriculum, CFA managing director Stephen Horan said.

Pass rates for the CFA exams have dropped steadily over the decades from around 90% in 1964 to under 50% in 2017. A record 227,031 people in 91 countries are registered to take CFA exams in June.

New pro-crypto CEO named at Goldman Sachs (Medium impact)

Llyod Blankfein the incumbent CEO and chairman at Goldman Sachs for the past 12 years announced his successor this week. David Solomon, who will take over both roles in coming months, has made positive pronouncements about crypto and bitcoin in the past and his appointment comes around the same time that the bank has been talking about setting up a bitcoin futures trading desk.

Not only is Solomon expected to bring a fresh attitude to crypto but also bring diversity to the CEO role. In his spare time, Solomon is a dance music dj, performing under the stage name DJ D-Sol.

Solomon told Bloomberg earlier this year: “We are clearing some futures around bitcoin, talking about doing some other activities there, but it’s going very cautiously. We’re listening to our clients and trying to help our clients as they’re exploring those things too."

Malta stock exchange and OKEx security exchange (Low impact)

One of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges, OKEx, is joining forces with the Malta Stock Exchange (MSX) to create a new exchange dedicated to security tokens.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed for the joint venture which will operate under the name OKMSX and will leverage OKEx’s digital asset operations and security expertise, along with the Malta Stock Exchange’s 26-year track record of operating as a regulated stock exchange. OKMSX will be a serious contender for tZERO in the race to develop an institutional grade security-tokens trading platform. 

Additionally, MSX signed an agreement with Berlin-based blockchain platform Neufund to work with the exchange in creating their own security tokens.

Another “world first” for blockchain finance (Low impact)

The Hong-Kong Markets Authority, the region’s de facto central bank, launched a world first blockchain trade finance platform involving 21 banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered.

The system was designed by China’s Ping An Group the platform will be the first and largest example of a government-led upgrade project to the $9 trillion global finance industry.

In May, HSBC announced that it had completed a world first trade transaction involving the contract delivery of soybeans on the blockchain.  

The new global platform created by Ping An subsidiary OneConnect has already been deployed in China and the Hong Kong project is the biggest trade platform project outside of mainland China. The platform will be owned by the banks that have partnered with the Hong Kong regulator.

The project would allow easy access for smaller companies to banking service and finance streams.