According to a recent report, despite a lower price compared to the previous year, bitcoin's total trade volume for 2018 is $2.2 trillion, which is almost four times the volume of what was traded in 2017. Another recent statistic states that BitPay, the largest global cryptocurrency payment processor, processed more than $1 billion in 2018 and grew its B2B business more than 250 percent. BitPay added new features in 2018, such as integrating its wallet with major gift card brands and supporting new cryptocurrencies such as the stablecoins launched by Circle, Gemini and Paxos. BitPay's payment processing services could extend even further if a proposed New Hampshire bill passes, which would let state-level agencies – including the tax office – accept cryptocurrencies as payment.

There were several announcements from major cryptocurrency exchanges this week. Binance launched a crypto-to-crypto over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk with access to more than 80 cryptocurrencies. Seed CX launched a bitcoin spot trading market for its institutional clients and announced plans to add cryptocurrency trading pairs and trading pairs with foreign currencies, such as euros and Japanese yen. Cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb is seeking to go public in the United States through a reverse merger (also known as a reverse initial public offering), where it would acquire Blockchain Industries, a U.S. public company. The combined entity – Blockchain Exchange Alliance – would become the first U.S.-listed cryptocurrency exchange. And bitcoin wallet and cold storage provider Xapo announced that it is transferring key operations from Hong Kong to Switzerland, citing Switzerland's friendlier regulatory environment as the driving factor behind the move.

According to recent reports, professors from seven U.S. colleges have teamed up to create a digital currency that they hope can achieve speeds bitcoin users can only dream of, without compromising decentralization. The project, called Unit-e, seeks to create a globally scalable decentralized payments system that solves the challenge of blockchain scalability, which many believe has hindered cryptocurrencies from achieving widespread adoption. In another move aimed at solving the scalability problem, Bitfury has released a suite of tools aimed at driving adoption of the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The nascent Bitcoin Lightning Network promises to enable bitcoin transactions with near-instantaneous confirmation speeds without having to store information directly on the blockchain.

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