News Roundup — BlackRock Preps for Bitcoin ETF Launch

October 30, 2023

Major news stories this week;

  1. BlackRock Preps for Bitcoin ETF Launch, Lines Up Seed Investor and Reveals Ticker
  2. Ledger hardware wallet rolls out cloud-based private key recovery tool
  3. BlockFi emerges from bankruptcy and opens wallet withdrawals
  4. BlackRock fined $2.5M by SEC for incorrect investment disclosure
  5. JPMorgan handles $1B transactions daily in digital token JPM Coin

Story Summaries;

  1. BlackRock’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) might be close to launching. A ticker for the iShares Bitcoin Trust, IBTC, has been listed by the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC). The DTCC is a massive piece of behind-the-scenes infrastructure in U.S. financial markets. It handles an astounding $2.3 quadrillion—that's $1 billion times $2.3 million—worth of stock sales annually, which makes it the largest financial clearinghouse in the world. Senior Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Eric Balchunas made note of the update on Twitter. This follows news last week that the fund manager’s latest application amendment shows that a seed investor could be funding the product this month. In a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, the world’s biggest fund manager said the seed capital investor had planned to buy shares in October. The exact date had been redacted from the amendment. The visible part of the amendment reveals that the seed capital investor would buy this month.
  2. Hardware wallet firm Ledger is rolling out its cloud-based private key recovery solution despite facing significant criticism from the crypto community. Ledger Recover, an ID-based private key recovery service for the Ledger hardware wallet, is launching on Oct. 24, the firm officially announced on X (formerly Twitter). The release comes in conjunction with Ledger finalizing the open-source code for the Ledger Recover on GitHub. Provided by blockchain protection platform Coincover, Ledger’s seed phrase recovery solution is a paid subscription service allowing users to back up their Secret Recovery Phrase (SRP). SRP is a unique list of 24 words that backs up the private keys and gives users access to their crypto assets. A spokesperson for Ledger told Cointelegraph that a Ledger wallet encrypts a “string of random 1s and 0s” from which a SRP is computed. The encrypted string of numbers is then fragmented into three pieces used to backup a SRP.
  3. Crypto lending platform BlockFi has emerged from bankruptcy and is ready to pay back some of its creditors, according to an Oct. 24 blog post. Withdrawals “are currently available to nearly all Wallet customers,” the post stated, adding that BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) and Loan customers will be able to withdraw some assets in early 2024. According to the post, BlockFi’s emergence from bankruptcy means that it can now attempt to recover assets from other firms it believes owe it money. This includes bankrupt crypto platforms such as Three Arrows Capital (also known as “3AC”) and FTX. The firm will also be able to continue distributing assets to its creditors and processing claims. The team instructed Wallet customers with assets on BlockFi to log in to the app and submit a withdrawal request, which will allow the team to process the withdrawal. As for BIA and Loan customers, BlockFi said it’s preparing for initial distributions in accordance with the bankruptcy plan.
  4. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has fined investment adviser BlackRock Advisors $2.5 million, accusing it of failing to accurately describe investments in the entertainment industry that comprised a significant portion of a publicly traded fund it managed. According to the SEC’s filing, between 2015 and 2019, BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust (BIT) made sizeable investments in a print and advertising business called Aviron Group that worked on one to two films annually through a loan facility. The SEC alleged that BlackRock incorrectly referred to Aviron as a company that provided “Diversified Financial Services” in a number of BIT’s annual and semi-annual reports that were made available to investors publicly. The SEC also alleged that BlackRock misrepresented Aviron’s interest rate by claiming that it was higher than it actually was. However, the asset manager discovered these errors in 2019 and corrected information about Aviron’s investment in the following years.
  5. US banking behemoth JPMorgan (JPM) now handles $1 billion worth of transactions in its digital token JPM Coin per day, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. The Wall Street Bank has plans to widen the coin's usage, according to the report, citing an interview with the bank’s head of payments Takis Georgakopoulos. JPM Coin is a settlement token that enables JPMorgan's institutional clients to make blockchain-based wholesale payments between accounts around the world. From its inception in 2019, JPM Coin has been used to make payments denominated in dollars, with support for euros added in June. “JPM Coin gets transacted on a daily basis mostly in U.S. dollars, but we again intend to continue to expand that,” Georgakopoulos said.

And that’s all for last week’s news! Wishing you a great week ahead!

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