Quite a few updates in crypto this week, lets briefly cover the items that stand out:

Wyoming Continues Pushing for Clarity on Crypto

While we already reported on this last week: Blockchain Bills in the U.S., is it important to note that Wyoming is continuing to press forward on the legal status of cryptocurrencies to help set good precedents for the rest of the United States. If you follow Caitlin Long on social media, you probably already know everything there is to know on this situation. The bill introduced by the state, will clarify definitions on digital assets, digital securities, and virtual currencies. These definitions will allow cryptocurrencies the exact same treatment as money within the state. These are not new ideas, but they do need this proper legislation to get us as far away as possible from the over-bearing iron (and out of touch) grip of the SEC.

USDC by Circle: All Auditing Passed

Reported by Gant Thorton LLP on January 15th, this audit confirms USDC is indeed fully backed by fiat (US Dollar) reserves. In fact, as of December 31, 2018, USDC Fiat reserves (Supply: $251,211,209) were $61 over what they needed as collateral for the actual USDC in circulation (251,211,148 USDC tokens).

This makes the third report since USDC was implemented in September of last year. All three were conducted by Gant Thorton LLP and all three give positive confirmations that the asset is truly backed by physical fiat reserves.

Coinstar & Bitcoin

The grocery store coins-to-dollars kiosk maker, Coinstar, has announced that they will begin selling Bitcoin directly from their machines. The processing will take place through Coinme, a cyrptocurrency ATM startup. With the tens of thousands of machines already in place, Coinme hopes to create thousands of new locations from which the general public can purchase Bitcoin conveniently. There will of course be some limitations, and you probably won't be able to just turn your loose change directly into bitcoin, as it can only be purchased with cash, of which there is a $2500 limit. I also haven't seen mention of what their fees will be like, but one would hope it will be much less than the current scam-crypto ATMs that charge upwards of 14%. While this is some cool news, and definitely helps further the mainstreaming of crypto, I don't recommend any of you experienced traders or crypto enthusiasts rush out to find one of these machines, as it is still far easier (and probably cheaper) to buy Bitcoin from the convenience of your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Overall, this feels more like a marketing tactic on Coinstar's part, rather than something you could call "innovative."

Venezuela's First Crypto ATMs

The country with probably the greatest need and use case for cryptocurrency will soon have their very own cryptocurrency ATMs. CryptoBuyer is the ATM manufacturer who will be installing the first crypto-ATMs in Venezuela. They have mentioned the equipment is already physically installed and the company is in the midst of final testing. Results will be announced through their social media accounts when the testing is complete. The machines will take the physical cash from a user and transfer that value directly into their respective cryptocurrency wallet. They also intend to provide education on the technology to the Venezuelan public. Hopefully they don't intend to charge ridiculous transaction fees to sleazily profit off an entire country's ongoing strife.

BitPay Tops $1 Billion+ Transactions in 2018

The Bitcoin Payment Processor, BitPay, has stated that they totaled over $1,000,000,000 payments processed during 2018. The rate at which companies are getting on-board with accepting crypto payments, has enabled BitPay to enjoy a significant rise of approximately 250% in value. Support was recently added for settlements of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Circle's stable-coin USD Coin (USDC), Gemini's dollar (GUSD), and Paxos Standard (PAX). They are continuing to gain big customers such as Dish Networks, HackerOne, and the State of Ohio. And simultaneously bringing in new solid investors such as Menlo Ventures, Capital Nine, G Squared, Nimble Ventures and Delta-V Capital.

HSBC Reports $250 Billion Settled in 2018 with Blockchain Technology

HSBC is a British banking & finances holding company and is the 7th largest bank in the world. This past week they have stated, within the past year they have settled $250,000,000,000 worth of Forex trades by harnessing the power of blockchain tech. The number of trades settled is over 3 million and there have been over 150,000 payments made since February 2018. However, they also said that this only accounts for a minor portion of their total trades settled. I'm guessing they don't want their statements to sound too bullish on crypto and spark a FOMO-run. Either way, since there has been very little use of blockchain tech in mainstream finance, this is still progress and could be considered as a point of increasing momentum for mass adoption. As they embrace the security and automation blockchain tech allows, they can become less dependent on external technologies.

Grayscale & Stellar Lumens (XLM)

Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust: "Grayscale Stellar Lumens Trust’s shares are the first securities solely invested in and deriving value from the price of XLM."

Grayscale is a digital asset management firm operating under Digital Currency Group, and this marks the 9th asset they have added:

  1. BTC Bitcoin
  2. BCH Bitcoin Cash
  3. ETH Ethereum
  4. ETC Etheruem Classic
  5. ZEN Horizen
  6. LTC Litecoin
  7. XRP Ripple
  8. ZEC Zcash
  9. XLM Stellar Lumens

For the first time, investors will have direct exposure to a singular asset investment product for Stellar Lumens (XLM). The company is optimistic about the current status and growing popularity of XLM and believes in the fundamentals. This move is designed to make Grayscale an even more appealing option for banks. This may seem odd since they already have XRP, but maybe adding XLM will appeal to smaller businesses as the Stellar Lumens project itself wants to see utilization by anyone and everyone. Sounds like good news for XLM holders, but don't FOMO buy! While this is an example of progress for mass adoption, it isn't ground-breaking go-to-moon news. Watching price action and practicing TA (Technical Analysis) is always recommended above all else.