• Bitcoin price is showing a slightly bullish tendency as American traders begin their Thursday
  • Crypto exchange BitMEX announces native Segregated Witness (SegWit) integration for Bitcoin
  • ING bank is developing custodial services for digital assets, catering to institutional investors

Bitcoin markets showed a tendency to sell off almost as soon as any attempt to breakout happened, but of course, at such low volumes that continue to show a lack of willingness from traders to enter the fray at strength, price range continues to be narrow.

Only USD 200 separates the daily high from the daily low, but it does look as if the American market could take the day close to the USD 7,282 high it has registered so far, with support holding extremely well for the second day running at a low of USD 7,081 (CoinDesk).

One of the items of news emerging today that will interest long-term bulls and proponents of strong Bitcoin fundamentals is that of BitMEX now supporting native Segregated Witness (SegWit) wallets for Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals.

BitMEX, which oversees some of the largest trading volume for Bitcoin globally, said that this means users can request withdrawals to Bech32 addresses, which is the format natively supporting the SegWit standard. The SegWit standard was the latest scalability upgrade that essentially ensured smaller sizes in transaction data, allowing blocks to fit in more transactions. This, in turn, allows for a much lower cost per transaction in terms of miner fees.

Despite the huge difference in SegWit transaction sizes, very few services like exchanges have upgraded to the native Bech32 Bitcoin addresses, with most choosing to remain either with Bitcoin’s original address format (pay to public key hash or P2PKH addresses that start with a “1”), or the less older format (pay to script hash or P2SH addresses that start with a “3”). The latter does support SegWit technology, but not as efficiently as native bech32 addresses that begin with a “bc1”.

BitMEX said in its announcement:

“The key advantage of Bech32 addresses is that transaction fees can be saved when spending Bitcoin, which was already sent to a Bech32 address. Therefore this upgrade will not directly result in fee savings when customers withdraw from BitMEX, however in the next transaction, when the bitcoin already withdrawn from BitMEX is spent again, our customers may benefit from lower transaction fees.”

So will users have cheaper withdrawals from BitMEX? Apparently, not, but since native SegWit spends save about 37% compared to traditional transactions and 17% compared to non-native SegWit transactions, at least when spending on inputs from BitMEX, users will get benefit from cheaper fees.

Moving on to old-world finance, big investors will be happy to know now that Dutch bank ING is developing a custodial technology for cryptocurrency. At least, that’s according to Reuters.

The development of the new custodial service is apparently just one of many of the Amsterdam-based bank’s initiatives related to blockchain and is still at a very early stage. The move comes as the bank ” β€œsees increasing opportunities with regard to digital assets on both asset-backed and native security tokens”.

Reuters couldn’t get any comment from ING revealing more details, though they have let on that it is “particularly active to further develop the technology behind digital assets to empower its clients with a compliant access to this emerging ecosystem”.

The exclusive story comes on the back of many well-established financial players peering into similar technology to keep, protect and secure digital assets such as Bitcoin. Institutional and high-volume traders who trade over the counter (OTC) are apparently demanding more and more such services from traditional banks. The fact that few, if any, are able to provide these, is cited by analysts as one of the major hurdles to mainstream adoption by institutional players.

Of the major names already in the race for such a service, Boston-based Fidelity is probably leading, with it receiving an approval just last month by regulators in New York to offer its crypto custody services to companies based in the state.

In Japan, Nomura Holdings Inc bank also announced a new venture last year called Komainu to offer the same to institutional investors.


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