Retail Giant Overstock Seeks to Restructure Cryptocurrency DividendBy

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By Ana Alexandre

American e-commerce giant Overstock hopes to liberalize its planned digital dividend shares trading.

According to a Sept. 18 press release, Overstock is working with regulatory authorities on making its digital asset-based dividend freely tradable by non-affiliates following distribution.

As such, the company will not have to put its dividend shares on the six-month holding period as required under Rule 144 enforced by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Commenting on the development, interim CEO of Overstock Jonathan Johnson said:

“We have received a great deal of interest surrounding our Series A-1 dividend from shareholders, broker-dealers, regulators, and the general market. [...] It also introduces blockchain technology to enhance the investor experience. It is an important step on the journey to demonstrate that blockchain technology has enormous potential to transform society for the better.”

Continue Reading at Cointelegraph.com

Warner Music to Build Token on New Blockchain by CryptoKitties Creator

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By Helen Partz

Global media giant Warner Music Group will be creating digital assets using new public blockchain backed by CryptoKitties creator.

Warner Music’s to create assets on Flow

According to a Forbes report on Sept. 12, Warner Music has joined an $11.2 million investment in CryptoKitties creator Dapper Labs in order to collaborate on the deployment of the company’s new blockchain network called Flow as well as building tokens on top of it.

While Warner has reportedly invested less than $1 million in the form of a convertible security, other contributors included major industry investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Digital Currency Group, Union Square Ventures and Venrock, the report notes.

Continue Reading at Cointelegraph.com

Amazon Web Services Announces Cryptography-Using Quantum Ledger Database

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By Joeri Cant

Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com company, announced that the Amazon quantum ledger database (QLDB) was now available.

Transparent and immutable transaction log

According to a post on Sept. 10 from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the newly available Amazon QLBD is a new class of database that provides a transparent, immutable and cryptographically verifiable transaction log ‎owned by a central trusted authority.

The post continues to explain that Amazon QLBD eliminates the need to engage in the complex development effort of building one’s own ledger-like applications or rely on the capabilities of a blockchain framework.

Shawn Bice, a VP at Amazon Web Services, Inc. told Business Wire that AWS has been using a version of Amazon QLDB for many years to store data for some of its most critical systems, and has benefitted from being able to view an immutable history of changes. He added:

“Today, we are proud to announce Amazon QLDB, offering customers a fully managed service that provides the same ledger capabilities, along with the ability to cryptographically verify data integrity. We are excited to see customers streamline their operations and enhance their customer and partner experiences by using Amazon QLDB.” 

Continue Reading at Cointelegraph.com

Mystery 94K BTC Transaction Becomes Richest Non-Exchange Address

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By Helen Partz

The recipient wallet of the $1 billion Bitcoin (BTCtransaction on Sept. 6 is now presumed to be the first richest non-exchange address.

The recipient wallet of the massive 94,504 Bitcoin ($1.031 billion) transaction is the top richest Bitcoin address that is not reportedly associated with any crypto-related company, according to data from monitoring resource Bitinfocharts.

A third of the coins came from Huobi

According to data by London-based blockchain data provider TokenAnalyst, at least one third of the mysterious transaction directly originates from Huobi exchange. Another analyst, blockchain data and metrics firm Glassnode tweeted that at least 73,000 BTC from the transaction originate from Huobi.

According to an earlier tweet by Crypto Herpes Cat, at least two Bitcoin wallets involved in the notable transaction belong to Huobi. One of the specified wallets is directly involved in the transaction. 

Continue Reading at Cointelegraph.com

Binance Joins Forces With Paxos to Launch USD-Backed Stablecoin ‘BUSD’

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By Joeri Cant

Binance, the biggest crypto exchange by volume,and digital asset trust company Paxosannounced its partnership to launch a USD-backed stablecoin, which has received approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS)

Binance USD available later this month

In a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Sept. 5, Paxos co-founder and CEO Asia Rich Teo shared that the NYDFS’s approval of the stablecoin Binance USD (BUSD) is a vital step towards long term stability in global crypto markets. He continued by saying:

“We are proud that our stablecoin as a service offering enables trusted companies like Binance to introduce products customized for their users. The Paxos brand symbolizes regulatory integrity, consumer protection and transparency for all of our partners."

BUSD will be available for direct purchase and redemption 1:1 for U.S. dollars on the Paxos platform and for trading against Bitcoin (BTC), Binance Coin (BNB) and Ripple’s XRP on Binance.com.

CZ excited to work with Paxos

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao — commonly known as “CZ” — said that Paxos is leading the digital trusts space and expressed that Binance is excited to work with them in developing their native stablecoin. He went on to say:

“We hope to unlock more financial services for the greater blockchain ecosystem through the issuance of BUSD, including more use cases and utility through the power of stable digital assets.”

Continue Reading at Cointelegraph.com

Bahamas Blockchain Company Raises Crypto for Hurricane Dorian Relief

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By Joeri Cant

PO8, a blockchain company headquartered in the Bahamas, is asking the crypto and blockchain communities to help them bring relief to the victims of Hurricane Dorian. The firm made its appeal in a blog post on Sept. 2.

Devastation in the Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian brought devastation to Bahamas islands on Monday and Tuesday. Satellite images show the region has suffered heavy flooding, with more than 60% of Grand Bahama Island submerged. 

Call to help Dorian victims

PO8 has witnessed the devastation firsthand and is asking the crypto and blockchain communities to help rebuild and restore the islands most affected. A recent post on the PO8 website said:

“PO8 has pledged 1 billion PO8 tokens to hurricane relief efforts. For every dollar worth of crypto donation, PO8 will match it 100%.”

Crypto donations can be made with Bitcoin or Ethereum (ETH). Cash donations can also be made on the PO8 GoFundMe page.

PO8’s blockchain platform aims to democratize access to marine archeological artifacts by establishing their provenance and preventing their sale.

Charity and crypto

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are increasingly being applied for charitable efforts. Following the Notre Dame cathedral fire earlier this year, France’s Minister of State for the Digital Sector Cédric O said he was open to cooperating with cryptocurrency platforms for donations to reconstruct the cathedral.

In an August report, independent public charity Fidelity Charitable said that it has received $100 million in cryptocurrency donations since it began accepting cryptocurrency in 2015.

Via: Cointelegraph.com

Bitcoin.com Opens Crypto Exchange to Compete with Coinbase and Binance

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By Liam Frost

Bitcoin.com, a website previously focused on covering Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and general cryptocurrencies news, announced the launch of its own digital assets exchange.

Per the announcement published on Sept. 2, the platform “will host a slew of trading pairs including popular cryptocurrencies like litecoin (LTC), ripple (XRP), tron (TRX), zcash (ZEC), stellar (XLM), and EOS.” It is also noted: 

“Exchange.Bitcoin.com will have markets denominated in base currencies like bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum (ETH), bitcoin core (BTC), and tether (USDT).”

Always aim high

Managing director of Bitcoin.com exchange Danish Chaudhry told industry news outlet Decrypt that the platform “is hoping to compete against the bigger, more established exchanges, such as Coinbase and Binance by catering to its base.” He also claimed:

“Bitcoin.com is one of the most trusted brands in the industry.”

To attract new users to its exchange platform, Bitcoin.com also offers a few promotional benefits. For example, it is promised that “new accounts will get paid to trade by benefiting from negative 0.3% trading fees for the next three months.”

Month of permutations

As Cointelegraph reported on Aug. 2, Bitcoin.com has appointed Stefan Rust as the company’s new chief executive officer as Roger Ver left the post.

Ver, however, will not be completely gone, but will serve as Bitcoin.com’s executive chairman. The announcement did not clarify what duties this role will entail.

On Aug. 20, Bitcoin Twitter handle with one million followers renounced Bitcoin Cash. At the time, Bitcoin’s best-known names played a guessing game after one of the industry’s most controversial Twitter accounts changed its views overnight.

via Cointelegraph.com

Stablecoins Vulnerable to Regulatory Uncertainty: European Central Bank

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By Helen Partz

Stablecoins with a clear governance framework may be hampered by the uncertainty of the lack of regulation, according to the European Central Bank (ECB).

Four major types of stablecoins outlined

On Aug. 29, the ECB released a new paper devoted to stablecoins, which it describes as digital units of value that are not a form of any specific currency but rather rely on a set of stabilization tools in order to minimize fluctuations in their price.

The ECB’s paper is called “In search for stability in crypto-assets: are stablecoins the solution?” and proposes a classification of stablecoins based on different key concepts used to keep their value stable. Specifically, the ECB outlined four major types of stablecoins including those specified as tokenized funds, off-chain collateralized stablecoins, on-chain collateralized stablecoins and algorithmic stablecoins.

54 stablecoins totally $4.8 billion in July 2019

According to the ECB’s data, there are at least 54 existing stablecoin projects, with 24 of them being operational. The total market capitalization of stablecoin initiatives almost tripled from €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) in January 2018 to over €4.3 billion ($4.8 billion) in July 2019, while the average volume of stablecoin transactions was €13.5 billion per month within the period between January and July 2019.

Tokenized funds are the most popular stablecoin type, accounting for almost 97% of the monthly volume of all other stablecoin initiatives, according to the ECB.

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Classification of 54 active stablecoin initiatives. Source: European Central Bank

Uncertainties in the field pose major risks

In the report, the ECB emphasized existing uncertainties in governance and regulatory treatment of stablecoin projects. Specifically, the bank wrote that stablecoin adoption may require improvements to its governance, including the processes of updating the smart contracts at the core of the project. 

On the other hand, stablecoins with a clear governance framework are also at risk as far as they may “nevertheless be hampered by the uncertainty relating to the lack of regulatory scrutiny and recognition,” which is specifically relevant in the event that financial institutions use the same tech for recording of traditional assets. In that situation, stablecoins would be redundant in the use of DLT outside crypto-asset markets, the bank concluded.

In July 2019, an official at the ECB raised concerns over stablecoins use, claiming that there is no reason to be alarmed but there is reason to be vigilant with stablecoins.

Via Cointelegraph.com

Americans are googling the Dow — here’s why that could spell trouble

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By William Watts

Stock-market volatility can undermine consumer confidence: analyst

Main Street is paying attention to Wall Street — and that might not be a good sign for the economy.

Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, observed on Aug. 8 that Google searches for “dow jones” were higher than they were in May, when the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.78%  retreated 6.7% and the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.51%  suffered a 6.6% decline due to a flare-up in U.S.-China tensions over trade policy. Through Monday, the Dow was down 3.6% this month, while the S&P 500 was down 3.4%.

In a Tuesday note, he wrote that Google searches for “dow jones” for the week of Aug. 11-17, the last full week of data, are up 28% from the peak May week (see chart below).

MarketWatch.com

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So what? While the S&P 500 index is indeed the preferred measure of U.S. stock-market performance and the benchmark for funds, Colas said that “Main Street googles ‘dow jones’ when they are worried about stock-market volatility.” The concern for investors is that stock market volatility and more chatter about recession indicators flashing warning signs could lead to make U.S. consumers more cautious headed into the 2019 holiday season, he said.

There might be a small bit of comfort in that search volumes are still 14% below the 12-month high seen during the last week of December, when markets suffered a sharp rout. Attention turned away from the market in January as the market recovered, Colas noted.

The main take-away from the current search interest, he said, is that even if average Americans don’t own equities, they know that volatile stock markets signal the potential for job losses and even recession.

“We’ll have to wait to see how markets perform over the rest of 2019,” Colas wrote, “but one thing is sure: Americans are watching.”

Via marketwatch.com

Bitcoin Rewards App Lolli Partners With Major US Pet Store Chain

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By Max Boddy

Lolli, an app that provides Bitcoin (BTC) rewards to users when they shop with partner stores, has teamed up with major American pet retailer Petco.

The rewards deal with Petco

Lolli announced the new partnership in an official blog post on Aug. 23. In the announcement, the company notes that there are two new veins of rewards that come with the partnership. One is that Lolli users can earn up to 3.5% satoshis (sats) of their purchases on Petco’s website, Petco.com. 

Another is that Lolli users can earn a flat 5,000 sats payment for sharing a photo of their dog and commenting on the partnership. A satoshi is 0.00000001 BTC. Therefore, these users would earn 0.00005 BTC for promoting the partnership with their dog photos. At press time, this amount of Bitcoin is equivalent to a little over $0.51.

Petco is the second-largest pet chain retailer in the United States, controlling nearly 20% of the market according to data from Statista.   

Lolli’s expansion with other stores

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Lolli partnered with the American grocery chain Safeway near the end of July. As is the case with the Petco partnership, Lolli announced that they would offer 3.5% back in BTC for their total purchases.

Lolli also partnered with the booking service Hotels.com back in June. This website apparently lists over 325,000 properties in approximately 19,000 locations globally.

Via Cointelegraph.com

How Facebook Libra Has Been Influencing Crypto, Politics and Finance

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By Stephen O’Neal

Over the past few days, a number of Libra-related announcements have been made — only, they weren’t from Facebook, the Libra Association, Calibra wallet or any other party involved in its development. 

First, top crypto exchange Binance announced a project called “Venus” — coincidentally, another astrology-themed name — which will focus on developing “localized stablecoins” worldwide; the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) said it is almost ready to launch its government-backed digital currency, reportedly admitting that Libra prompted it to speed up; and Erik Finman, ostensibly the youngest Bitcoin (BTC) millionaire, launched a crypto peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app, called “Metal” — daringly marketing it as "the Libra killer."

Libra has been making waves since its white paper was released in mid-June, prompting regulators across the world to form global task forces, United States legislators to hold multiple hearings in the Senate and crypto firms to roll out competing projects. 

However, Libra itself is still far from seeing the light of day: Its initial release is scheduled for 2020, but given the scale of regulatory backlash it has been facing, the future of Facebook’s crypto venture is hardly set in stone. Nevertheless, just two months in, its influence on the space is already palpable. 

Libra and the regulatory splash

Libra, a stablecoin-like digital asset and a blockchain-based financial infrastructure project, was officially announced on June 18, when Facebook published its white paper. The release followed several media reports suggesting that the social media titan was developing a cryptocurrency that will facilitate payments across its platforms — WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram — which boast a combined 2.7 billion monthly users

The project seeks to target the unbanked population, which accounts for around 1.7 billion adults across the globe, with a focus on cross-border remittance. The latter aspect puts Libra alongside the likes of Visa and Mastercard — both of which have invested in the project — as well as some fellow cryptocurrency firms like Ripple and the XRP token. 

The project will be governed by the Libra Association, a not-for-profit consortium headquartered in Switzerland, which includes Mastercard, PayPal, Visa, eBay, Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz, Lyft and Uber among a total of 28 founding members. 

There is also Calibra, a Facebook subsidiary, which is developing an eponymous digital wallet to facilitate Libra transactions, while the currency will be supported by third-party wallets — as the software powering the Libra blockchain is open source, as its developers have said. Once ready, the wallet will be available to all of the social media’s users.

The looming release of Facebook’s new project caused immediate regulatory resentment, triggering a new wave of national-level discussions on the legal status of cryptocurrencies. The company’s infamous reputation for being involved in privacy-related scandals — the most recent being Cambridge Analytica, which resulted in a record-breaking $5 billion fine— its all-encompassing scale and its barefaced interest in cryptocurrencies made it an unmissable target for regulators across the world. 

In July, U.S. congressional hearings on the matter began, and Calibra CEO David Marcus was interviewed twice before Congress. The key take-away from those meetings was that Facebook won’t launch Libra until regulators’ concerns are fully addressed, as Marcus explicitly reassured both lawmakers and investors. That has not entirely mitigated the pushback, however, as the European Union antitrust regulators have launched a probe into Libra. 

Meanwhile, U.S. legislators — including vocal Libra skeptic Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) — are travelling to Switzerland, the home of the Libra Association, to meet with Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner Adrian Lobsiger to exchange views about digital currencies.

John Todaro, director of research and provider of institutional trading tools for digital currencies at TradeBlock, summarized the main reasons behind the intensified scrutiny in a comment for Cointelegraph:

“The primary attention Libra is getting is because of the size of Facebook, its resources, and its ability to integrate a low cost, efficient digital currency payment channel across a number of its own platforms which could bring significant adoption to the space. Other projects have not seen the same level of interest, mainly because they do not have an ability to accelerate adoption of a stablecoin so quickly, which Facebook could accomplish.”

The scale of the regulatory backlash is not surprising, despite the rawness of Facebook’s project, experts say. Konstantinos Stylianou, assistant professor of competition law and regulation at the University of Leeds, told Cointelegraph that for regulators, it is never too early to start worrying about potential problems. He elaborated:

“Financial regulators are right to go in first, because financial regulation aims to ensure that Libra and its clones comply with set standards before they launch. Other regulators, like the European Commission's antitrust arm, which recently started an investigation into Libra, have a long way to go, because they need to prove actual harm. But even so, their early activity sends a message to the industry that the regulator's watchful eye is there to stop illegal activity at its inception.”

Other experts, like Lars Seier Christensen, chairman of Swiss blockchain identity network Concordium and former CEO at Saxo Bank, are even surprised that Facebook has not foreseen some of the regulators’ worries. Christensen explained to Cointelegraph:

“I actually fully understand the concerns of regulators as Libra raises a host of major issues because of the potential scale of the project. I think Facebook may have been a little too quick off the block here, because many of the concerns about systemic risk, disruption of money markets, and moral hazard were easily predictable and could have been addressed from the beginning.”

Libra and its killers: Chinese government, Binance and Walmart

While many of the aforementioned jurisdictions were busy discussing the potential ways to regulate Libra, China took a somewhat different approach. For the East Asian powerhouse, where the sale of cryptocurrencies is explicitly banned, Facebook's project turned out to be the prime motivator in hastening the development of its own state-controlled digital currency.

Notably, during one of the congressional hearings, Marcus warned lawmakers that vetoing Libra could result in the U.S. being left behind: 

"I believe that if America does not lead innovation in the digital currency and payments area, others will. If we fail to act, we could soon see a digital currency controlled by others whose values are dramatically different.”

China steps in

Thus, after five years of research and system development work since 2018, the PBoC is almost ready to launch its central bank digital currency (CBDC), according to a recent reportfrom the state-owned news portal China Daily. As Yang Dong — director of the Research Center of Finance Technology and Cyber Security at Renmin University of China — told the publication that the announcement of Libra has motivated the project’s designers to involve more private institutions in development and issuance process of a CBDC, which seems to follow the concept of the Libra Association. 

Co-founder of a decentralized cloud computing network Aelf, Chen Zhuling, whose associate Ma Haobo is a committee member of the government-affiliated Chinese Institute of Electronics Blockchain Branch, told Cointelegraph in an email conversation that:

“Considering how mobile payment and e-money has been fully adopted in the Chinese society, it is inevitable that the government is also looking at digital currency initiative. More than half of global Bitcoin hash rate is under mining pools in China, the government is no strange to cryptocurrency.”

Patrick Dai, co-founder of Qtum, a blockchain platform that has a presence in China, is largely optimistic about the project, as he told Cointelegraph that the PBoC’s currency is likely to beat Facebook in terms of public resonance and will challenge “the monopoly” of local giants WeChat and Alipay:

“People’s Bank of China’s digital currency will escalate and affect crypto adoption at a much greater magnitude than Facebook’s Libra announcement. There is already overwhelming distrust of Facebook. Introducing a new asset class also brings healthy competition to the Chinese FinTech ecosystem, which is currently dominated by a few major players. A complimentary payment solution helps break up the monopoly of power from payment giants like WeChatPay and Alipay.”

However, CBDCs and privately issued cryptocurrencies can co-exist, which is relevant for capitalist economic systems exclusively, professor Stylianou said:

“Central bank cryptocurrencies and private cryptocurrencies are not in a zero-sum game. The adoption of one does not detract from the adoption of the other. They can and will most likely co-exist, much like state-provisioned goods co-exist with privately-provisioned goods in every other industry. This, of course, only applies to free capitalistic economies.”

Binance launches a race to the stars

Other Libra competitors come from the private sector. Arguably, the strongest attempt to topple Facebook’s crypto project is being performed by Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchange, although, as its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, diplomatically noted, it is “always happy to co-exist.” 

Thus, following the astrological theme, Binance’s open blockchain project is dubbed “Venus” and focuses on developing localized stablecoins around the world based on Binance Chain, which reportedly has a wide user base and has already established global compliance measures. 

However, it is still unclear whether Venus actually could rival Libra for the global crown. Judging by the announcements made in English and Chinese, the tones used are drastically different, with the latter mentioning challenging “financial hegemony” and creating “independent ‘regional version of Libra.’” Binance has not yet responded to Cointelegraph’s request for clarification regarding the relationship with Libra.

There is also a global retail giant, Walmart, that has already filed a patent for a U.S. dollar-backed digital currency similar to Libra. According to the retail giant, it could provide low-income households — for whom banking is costly — with “an alternative way to handle wealth at an institution that can supply the majority of their day-to-day financial and product needs.” Additionally, it could further challenge incumbent banks by removing the need for credit and debit cards, Walmart suggested in the filing.

Libra has also provoked a response from smaller, crypto-oriented startups, which are brazingly calling themselves “Libra killers.” For instance, Erik Finmann, known as the youngest Bitcoin millionaire, has recently announced a crypto P2P payment app called “Metal” that reportedly supports Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH), among other cryptocurrencies. 

It seems to be working in select U.S. states at the moment, which makes it unclear how it could “finally bring crypto to the people — in ways that Facebook Libra only wishes they could,” as Finmann put it on Twitter, given the scale of the social media giant’s operation. Metal has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request to clarify the scale of its operation. 

Libra’s influence has accelerated, despite all the difficulties

While it is not certain if Libra will ever manage to get through the regulatory hurdles it is facing, its impact on the crypto industry — and even the larger financial world — is evident. TradeBlock’s Todaro told Cointelegraph, “Libra has influenced the industry insofar that other large corporate entities and governments have sped up their projects on stablecoins, such as Wal-mart, PBoC, Binance and others.”

Notably, while the overall scope of Facebook’s crypto project could have been predicted, experts are perplexed by the breakneck speed at which everything around it is unfolding. “It was only a matter of time until Libra contenders emerged,” Stylianou told Cointelegraph. “What's surprising is how quickly it's all happening.” He went on to say:

“The majority of Libra killers will be extinct within a few years (including, possibly, Libra itself), as it always happens with prototypes, but that at the same time means that some others will survive.”

Thus, Libra seems to be actively unsettling the crypto space even at its most infant stage, urging other actors to launch similar stablecoin-based projects or join it by investing as much as $10 million. Among the interested parties are online brokerage Monex Group Inc., the owner of the hacked Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck and even the Winklevoss twins, who have famously had a falling out with Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook in the past. 

On the other hand, some of the earlier investors are reportedly asking to get off the trainbecause they’re frustrated with Libra’s half-baked strategy — as well as the intense regulatory pushback it has been getting.

Via Cointelegraph.com