Despite the bear market, some cryptocurrency exchanges continue efforts to expand their offerings. Last week, a filing to list a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) was resubmitted to the SEC by SolidX, another financial services firm, and the largest U.S. options exchange. There are a number of competing proposals, but if approved, this would be the first bitcoin ETF in the U.S. Early this week, Kraken announced its nine-figure acquisition of Crypto Facilities, a futures trading startup registered with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). By purchasing an entity with a current license, Kraken does not have to repeat the years-long process of obtaining regulatory approval from the FCA. In addition, Reuters reported that Swiss exchange SIX expects to launch a new digital trading platform that uses blockchain technology. Instead of taking several days, the alternative bourse can complete a trade in fractions of a second. Regulatory issues are still being worked out with Finma. In further news, users can now trade bitcoin, ether, litecoin and XRP on a new mobile application made available by the Boerse Stuttgart Group, operator of Germany's second-largest stock exchange.

At the end of last year, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and the UAE Central Bank announced that they were developing a cryptocurrency for cross-border payments. This week, six commercial banks from the regions joined the initiative. According to reports, issuance could occur in the next year if the two institutions leading the project determine the cryptocurrency is feasible. In other international developments, Coinbase extended the option to withdraw cash balances into PayPal accounts for its customers in 32 European countries (U.S. customers already had this feature). This week, added three USD-cryptocurrency trading pairs. According to reports, the new pairs require users to open a custodial account with Nevada-registered chartered trust company Prime Trust and complete their KYC verification. is the U.S. partner of Huobi, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Singapore.

According to statistics published this week by data analytics firm DataLight, U.S. traders account for 60 percent of total traders on Coinbase, and between 24 and 28 percent on Binance, Bittrex and Poloniex. According to another report issued this week, a greater number of ICOs occurred in Q4 2018 than in Q3, but they raised 25 percent less. In the last quarter, Singapore led globally both by number of offerings and amounts invested, followed by Switzerland.

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