This week brought a slew of developments in the block and crypto capital markets space, largely in Europe. In Germany, solarisBank is working with the Boerse Stuttgart Group to create full-spectrum infrastructure for digital assets. The two entities are seeking to launch a crypto trading venue by the first half of 2019, with bitcoin and ether initially available for trading and an eye toward providing a platform for ICOs and secondary market trading for tokens. Blockchain consortium R3 has partnered with several major European banks to produce live commercial paper transactions, which follows a simulated transaction conducted last year. The program aims to cut inefficiencies from current models. The Gibraltar Stock Exchange subsidiary is now providing insurance coverage for crypto assets (both online and offline) traded on the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange. This makes the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange at least the third digital exchange offering such insurance, but coverage remains insufficient to cover all trades made daily worldwide. To quell concerns that its stablecoins may not be backed one-to-one with euros, Malta-based Stasis has hired an outside auditor to provide assurance to investors. In October, similar concerns led to Tether's USDT tokens losing parity with the dollar. Outside Europe, a major South Korean bank announced it will begin blockchain recordkeeping to reduce human error and increase efficiency.

While bipartisanship can feel unfathomable these days, congressmen from different sides of the aisle have introduced two bills focused on cryptocurrency market manipulation. The lawmakers say the proposed legislation will help shape regulations that will also promote competitiveness. The Congressional Research Service (CRS), which operates for and under the direction of Congress, has issued a report on cryptocurrencies, economics and policy issues. The CRS report notes that cryptocurrencies' "role and value ... remain highly uncertain," largely because of functionality questions. The report also notes cryptocurrency-related concerns about consumer protections, proper regulatory schemes, potential facilitation of crime and the effect on monetary policy. CRS also wrote that central bank digital currencies could provide certain benefits, including allowing individuals to have accounts at central banks, which could improve systemic stability and cause commercial banks to offer interest rates to entice customers.

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