Xapo Transfers Key Operations to Switzerland

Xapo Transfers Key Operations to Switzerland

Global crypto services provider Xapo is moving major operations from its base in Hong Kong to its office in Switzerland. The company is incorporated in the Asian financial hub but that may also change soon due to the friendlier business environment in the Alpine nation.

Also read: Russian Institutions Back Proposal to Let Companies Use Cryptocurrency

Wallet Customer Services to Be Based in Zug

Xapo is a major player in the cryptocurrency industry offering wallet and cold storage services for digital assets as well as a virtual bitcoin debit card. It’s currently headquartered in Hong Kong but it has maintained a presence in Switzerland since 2015, when the company opened an office in the Canton of Zug.

Xapo Transfers Key Operations to Switzerland
Zug, Switzerland

In a move driven by Switzerland’s crypto-friendly regulatory climate, Xapo is now transferring a major portion of its operations to the Swiss Crypto Valley. The decision concerns its non-U.S. bitcoin wallet customer services, while traditional cash accounts will continue to be managed from London.

“It was once thought that Hong Kong was the holy grail of crypto regulations. But it has become more opaque,” Xapo president Ted Rogers told Swissinfo during the World Web Forum in Zurich. The executive further elaborated:

It’s a reality of this industry that you have to be agile and react to regulatory changes all the time. Swiss regulators are smart, interested and sophisticated in dealing with the financial markets … Nothing has changed my belief that Switzerland is the right place for a blockchain or crypto project.

Xapo is incorporated in Hong Kong but Rogers revealed its status is now “an open question.” He did not go into details about what the restructuring would bring to Switzerland but at the moment his company has around 250 employees around the world, while less than 10 are working in its Zug office.

According to a report from last May, Xapo held over 6.25 percent of all BTC in circulation. At the time, when bitcoin core was trading at over $9,000 per coin, the digital cash was worth over $10 billion. It’s believed the cryptocurrency is stored in a former military bunker in the Swiss Alps.

Xapo to Offer New Crypto Debit Cards

Switzerland has gradually become a leading European destination for crypto and blockchain businesses. It’s one of several crypto-friendly jurisdictions in the region, along with Malta, Gibraltar, Estonia, and the Isle of Man. That’s largely due to its neutrality, political stability, strong data protection laws, and tradition of financial privacy, as the Swiss outlet notes.

In December, the Swiss government announced a comprehensive strategy for the sector that describes crypto technologies as an important development and aims to build a legal foundation for their implementation. This month, Switzerland’s finance minister Ueli Maurer, known for his positive attitude toward the industry, took over the office of the country’s presidency for a one-year term.

Xapo Transfers Key Operations to Switzerland

Xapo is among the first companies in the crypto space to recognize the benefits of doing business in the Confederacy. In the interview, its president mentioned Switzerland’s decentralized political system as one of its main advantages. “It’s everything that the U.S. was designed to be, but actually lives up to it,” Ted Rogers said.

His company is also one of the first global providers of financial services related to cryptocurrencies. Its crypto debit card was a popular choice for bitcoin enthusiasts before Visa’s decision to terminate all card programs maintained by Wave Crest in January of last year. Rogers now says Xapo has learned its lesson and plans to offer new Visa and Maestro cards in different regions.

The executive did not provide a timeframe for the launch of the cards. Xapo’s website shows, however, that since October the platform has offered a virtual Visa debit card which is integrated with the Xapo app and can be loaded with BTC. The card is in beta testing and is available only to verified U.S. users in a limited number of eligible states.

Which nation do you consider to be the most crypto-friendly? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


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Russian Institutions Back Proposal to Let Companies Use Cryptocurrency

Russian Institutions Back Proposal to Let Companies Use Cryptocurrencies

An idea to allow companies from certain sectors and in some regions to use cryptocurrencies is gaining traction in Russia. The proposal has been included in a draft law prepared by the Economy Ministry, a high-ranking parliamentarian has voiced his support, and big business is discussing its implementation.

Also read: No Reason to ‘Bury’ Cryptocurrencies, Russian PM Medvedev Says

Draft Law Offers to Create Regulatory Sandboxes in Russian Regions

Select entities from the IT sector and the blockchain industry may be permitted to utilize digital assets in their financial transactions, Russian media reported. The experimental regulatory regime is to be implemented in some regions of the vast country, according to a draft law put forward by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Russian Institutions Back Proposal to Let Companies Use Cryptocurrency

The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, supports the idea of “pilot regions” where the circulation of cryptocurrencies can be tested, the chairman of the parliamentary Financial Markets Committee, Anatoly Aksakov, told the business outlet Izvestia. Efforts to regulate the crypto space continue in several directions, he added, and the establishment of regulatory sandboxes is one of them. Aksakov further detailed:

The law on the regulatory sandbox, which I hope we’ll adopt during the spring [parliamentary] session, will allow either individual companies or a given industry to use crypto instruments in their economic turnover and business operations in certain regions.

The Economy Ministry said its bill is still under discussion. The potential regions and corporate entities for the program have not been determined yet but according to its representatives, businesses working with cross-cutting information technologies will be eligible to participate. This includes not only blockchain firms but also businesses developing quantum technologies and artificial intelligence products.

Local authorities and companies based in the Russian regions of Kaliningrad Oblast and the Republic of Tatarstan have already expressed a desire to be part of the implementation of the proposed regulatory regime. Other regions such as Primorsky Krai, Omsk Oblast, Novosibirsk Oblast, Saint Petersburg, the capital Moscow, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea are also potential candidates.

Businesses Affected by Sanctions May Use Cryptocurrencies

Major Russian companies are currently discussing the proposal within the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP). The leading industry organization has already created a special advisory board which is looking into related matters, RSPP vice president Sergey Mytenkov told Izvestia. He believes it’s necessary to authorize about a dozen companies to operate with financial crypto instruments in order to make an assessment of the possible legal and economic risks.

Another group of businesses that might be interested in the crypto regulatory sandboxes are those Russian entities that maintain an international presence and have been forced to deal with foreign sanctions and restrictions. Mytenkov said that cryptocurrencies and asset-backed digital tokens can be used by these companies to attract capital and make payments.

Russian Institutions Back Proposal to Let Companies Use Cryptocurrency

The latest regulatory development concerning cryptocurrencies in Russia comes before the second reading in the Duma of a package of draft laws designed to regulate the crypto space. The bills were voted on first reading in May 2018 but their adoption was postponed many times and now lawmakers are expected to review them again in February.

Since last spring, the original texts have been revised significantly and references to cryptocurrency, tokens, mining, and smart contracts have been dropped. Under pressure from the industry, Russian lawmakers recently broadened the legal definition of “digital financial assets” to cover cryptocurrencies. However, Russian media reported last week that the Presidential Council for Codification has criticized the legislation. The Kremlin’s negative assessment means more changes may be on the way.

What do you think of the proposal to allow Russian companies to operate with cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.   


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‘Satoshi Way’ Course to Prepare Crypto Developers in Ukraine

‘Satoshi Way’ Course to Prepare Crypto Developers in Ukraine

Ukraine’s crypto business sector has decided to address the deficit of developers in the field. Several companies, the industry’s association and an educational organization have teamed up to organize a professional course that will teach students how to create solutions utilizing crypto technologies.

Also read: No Reason to ‘Bury’ Cryptocurrencies, Russian PM Medvedev Says

Win-Win Situation for All Stakeholders

Six companies, including a number of prominent crypto platforms, the Blockchain Association of Ukraine (BAU) and the Ukrainian National IT Factory (UNIT) are behind the educational project. Its first Blockchain Hub Academy course has already started and in the next four months it will prepare the first group of 30 students to take on the challenges facing the crypto industry in their country. Quoted by Forklog, BAU vice president Vitaliy Bulychev commented:

The aim of the initiative is to prepare tech specialists for the crypto industry… This is one of the few niches where a rapidly growing industry provides ample opportunities to monetize knowledge, while giving a feeling of satisfaction from value creation, where the products are open to the world and everyone is a brick in the foundation of the new paradigm of economic relations.

Bulychev also noted that in Ukraine “there are people willing to learn and there are carriers of unique knowledge.” In his words, that’s a “win-win situation for all stakeholders.”

‘Satoshi Way’ Course to Prepare Crypto Developers in Ukraine

The educational program has been developed with the participation of experts from major Ukrainian companies working in the crypto space such as Distributed Lab, Pandora Boxchain, Kuna Exchange, Remme, Atticlab, and Blocksoftlab. It is based on UNIT’s peer-to-peer approach which means there will be no lecturers.

Students to Learn to Create Wallets and Smart Contracts

The 4-month course is divided into two segments. The first part called “Satoshi Way” is focused on Bitcoin and the basic distributed ledger technologies associated with the first cryptocurrency. The second, titled “Post-Satoshi Era,” will cover the full spectrum of related technologies and developments that appeared after Bitcoin.

During the course, students will learn how to create cryptocurrency wallets, smart contracts, and how to work with different protocols. They will also acquire knowledge in cryptography and game theory. Upon completing the program, the participants will have the necessary expertise and skills to develop their own blockchain solutions.

‘Satoshi Way’ Course to Prepare Crypto Developers in Ukraine

Despite having a relatively developed crypto sector, Ukraine is yet to adopt dedicated regulations and legalize the industry. A number of draft laws have been filed in the country’s parliament since the fall of 2017 but the legislation is still pending approval by the Verkhovna Rada.

In October 2018, a new regulatory concept was announced by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. The document states that Ukraine should fully legalize cryptocurrencies and related business activities within the next three years.

According to a report published last spring, the daily trading volume of digital coins with the Ukrainian hryvnia surpasses $1.9 million. Another study released in December estimated that Ukrainians trade around $775 million of cryptocurrency annually.

What do you think about the educational initiative of the Ukrainian crypto industry? Tell us in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Coinspot Launches OTC Desk, Bitdeer Expands in Eastern Europe

The Daily: Coinspot Launches OTC Desk, Bitdeer Expands in Eastern Europe

Crypto exchange Coinspot has launched an over-the-counter trading desk in Australia and you’ll find more about the platform in this edition of The Daily. Elsewhere, computing power-sharing platform Bitdeer.com is focusing on Eastern Europe through a partnership with the largest digital asset trader in the region, Exmo. And in the U.S., expired Mccoins will get you a Big King.

Also read: Sapphire Develops GPU for Grin, TSMC Sees Drop in Mining Revenue

Crypto Exchange Coinspot Offers OTC Services to Australian Traders

Australian cryptocurrency exchange Coinspot has announced the launch of its dedicated over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk. The platform will be able to process high-volume transactions for its members without the need to use the traditional public order books.

The idea behind the project is to solve problems of liquidity for traders who want to deal in larger quantities. The company believes the OTC desk will reduce their exposure to fluctuations on the crypto markets. Lock-in pricing is expected to eliminate slippage and minimize the risks associated with high-volume trading.

The Daily: Coinspot Launches OTC Desk, Bitdeer Expands in Eastern Europe

Clients can now buy and sell a number of digital assets, including bitcoin core (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum (ETH), ripple (XRP), litecoin (LTC), and the stablecoin tether (USDT). Coinspot, which is among the leading crypto exchanges in Australia, promises access to the widest variety of digital coins in the country.

The main condition for using the service is that each trade should be valued at AUD $50,000 (USD ~$36,000) or more. A 0.1 percent fee is applicable to transactions on the platform. Coinspot’s OTC desk will offer its users the services of a professional trading broker.

Bitdeer Launches Russian Site, Partners With Exmo

Bitdeer.com has launched a Russian version of its website. The announcement comes with the news that the computing power-sharing platform has teamed up with Exmo, the largest digital asset trading platform in Eastern Europe. The partnership will allow Bitdeer and Exmo to provide their users with the opportunity to participate in cryptocurrency mining with no technical insight or investments in server infrastructure.

The two companies hope to popularize the minting of digital coins and contribute to the development of the crypto market. Offering new payment processing models and related customized products to the public is also part of their plans for the future.

The Daily: Coinspot Launches OTC Desk, Bitdeer Expands in Eastern Europe

Bitdeer CEO Celine Lu described the two initiatives as a milestone for the company’s venture in Eastern Europe. “Through the new partnership with the region’s largest crypto exchange and the launch of a localized website, Bitdeer.com has geared up to bring the best service to local as well as global individual miners,” Lu said, noting that around a third of the platform’s users come from Russian-speaking mining communities.

Despite the bearish trend in the crypto space, Bitdeer.com has seen its traffic reach over 1.2 million visits and over 50,000 daily active users. The platform has users from more than 165 countries. Over 40 percent of its orders have been placed by customers in the U.S.

Leading crypto companies such as Huobi and Binance have been taking steps to expand their presence on the Russian market, establishing offices in the country and offering Russian-language services. Crypto exchange Exmo enjoys growing popularity in the greater Russian-speaking world thanks to supporting trading pairs with local fiat currencies such as the Russian ruble and the Ukrainian hryvnia.

Burger Chains in Coin War

Maccoins, which were minted last summer to mark the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac and ride the wave of the crypto craze, have expired. Now a major competitor is making its own marketing stunt at the expense of McDonald’s “global currency.”

The Daily: Coinspot Launches OTC Desk, Bitdeer Expands in Eastern Europe

This week, fast food fans were invited to cash in their Maccoins at select Burger King locations in Chicago, U.S. media reported. Customers have been offered a free Big King XL in exchange for the tokens.

Burger King claims its new sandwich has 175 percent more beef than the Big Mac and comes without a third bun. Last year McDonald’s “limited edition” coins provided holders anywhere in the world with a free Big Mac.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


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8 Crypto Debit Cards You Can Use Around the World Right Now

Crypto Cards You Can Use to Spend Your Digital Coins

Cryptocurrencies are gradually becoming a viable payment option across a range of markets and jurisdictions. If there is a tool that significantly expands the usability of digital coins in a world still dominated by traditional payment systems, it’s the crypto debit card. A growing number of reliable platforms offer the fintech product to bitcoin enthusiasts.

Also read: Crypto Cards Are Legal in Russia, According to the Finance Ministry

Established Crypto Card Providers in the U.S.

Bitpay, which processed over $1 billion in payments during a bearish 2018, offers users in all U.S. states a convenient way to spend their cryptocurrencies online and in store. Its prepaid Visa card is tied to a cryptocurrency wallet that supports instant conversion from bitcoin core (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH) to U.S. dollars and local fiat currencies outside the country.

8 Crypto Debit Cards You Can Use Around the World Right Now

Bitpay’s crypto card is available to U.S. residents only. To apply, it is necessary to provide a home address, a valid government-issued ID and social security number. There’s a fee of $9.95 that covers the cost of issuing and a dormancy fee of $5 a month following a 90-day period of inactivity. A currency conversion fee of 3 percent is applied each time the card is used outside the U.S. Withdrawing cash at an ATM costs $2 in the United States and $3 abroad.

Shift, another card available in the U.S., allows users to connect to their Coinbase accounts. The Visa card has no maintenance fee but a 3 percent commission is charged on international transactions. ATM withdrawals cost $2.50 in the United States and $3.50 in other jurisdictions. The card itself is $20. Shift supports BTC only and offers fee-free conversion from bitcoin core to U.S. dollars.

Major Crypto Debit Cards Available in Europe

Wirex is the first choice for many Europeans. The U.K.-based startup offers both virtual and physical Visa debit cards, and the plastic version comes with chip and PIN. They are currently available to residents of the European Economic Area (EEA), where Iban support was introduced for all EUR accounts. However, the company plans to offer its services in North American and Asian markets as well.

Users can load the card with bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), ripple (XRP), litecoin (LTC), and waves, the latter having been added recently. Card holders can spend three leading fiat currencies – euros, U.S. dollars and British pounds. Wirex users pay a $1.50 card management fee each month. ATM withdrawals within Europe cost $2.50, and $3.50 elsewhere. In-store purchases are rewarded with 0.5 percent crypto cashback in BTC.

8 Crypto Debit Cards You Can Use Around the World Right Now

Revolut, another British company, offers up to 1 percent cashback in cryptocurrency for payments made with its Revolut Metal card. For less than $16 a month, the digital bank’s premium service provides clients with access to five major coins – BTC, BCH, ETH, XRP, and LTC – and the ability to pay in over 150 fiat currencies. The contactless card, which can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted, comes with fee-free ATM withdrawals up to €600 per month (~$680).

Cryptopay issues another card in both virtual and physical form. The latter has a chip and costs $15. The contactless card is currently issued only in Russia, where it has a 1 percent loading fee and a monthly service fee of 65 Russian rubles, less than a dollar. Cryptopay is planning to bring its cards to Singapore. The payment provider supports BTC, ETH, LTC, and XRP. A fee of $2.50 is applied to withdrawals from teller machines and each exchange transaction is charged a 3 percent commission.

Some Newcomers in the Market

A number of payment providers and fintech startups have launched new cryptocurrency debits cards in the past few months. These platforms are trying to attract the attention of crypto users around the world and prove themselves as alternatives to the well-established products on the market.

Fuzex is cryptocurrency payment card project that last summer chose bitcoin cash (BCH) as its base cryptocurrency. It also supports ETH and the platform’s own token, FXT. Fuzex cards are currently issued to residents of Europe and the APAC region. The physical card is NFC payment enabled. It comes with an EMV chip and a barcode display.

Crypto.com, a Hong Kong-headquartered company formerly known as Monaco, announced in October it’s starting to ship its MCO Visa cards to customers in Singapore. The prepaid cards are linked to a mobile wallet that allows holders to buy, sell, store, send, and track digital coins such as BTC, ETH, Binance’s BNB token, the platform’s own MCO tokens as well as major fiat currencies. Crypto.com also revealed the cards will be issued in the U.S. through a partnership between its Florida-based affiliate Foris Inc. and Metropolitan Commercial Bank, New York.

Aximetria offers a debit card linked to a cryptocurrency wallet which became available to Russian citizens since last year. In November, the Switzerland-based startup told news.Bitcoin.com its platform supports BTC and ETH which can be used for online and offline payments via instant conversion to fiat. The company is partnering with the cryptocurrency exchange Cex.io. The card can be ordered from its iOS app.

Are you using a crypto debit card? Tell us what you like about it in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Bitfinex Schedules Exchange Downtime, Koinex Adds New Security Features

The Daily: Bitfinex to Go Offline to Change Servers, Koinex Adds New Security Features

Ifinex, the operator of Bitfinex and Ethfinex, is planning to briefly restrict access to the crypto trading platforms on Jan. 7 while migrating data to its new servers in Switzerland. Also in The Daily on Sunday, Indian exchange Koinex has updated its security features and Huobi’s mining subsidiary is preparing to launch a new trading platform dedicated to an altcoin.

Also read: Wallet Hacking Debate Heats Up, Bitcoin-Based Patreon Alternative Emerges

Ifinex Switches From AWS Cloud to Own Servers

The Daily: Bitfinex Schedules Exchange Downtime, Koinex Adds New Security FeaturesHong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and its subsidiary Ethfinex will temporarily halt trading on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. The two platforms will be offline for three to seven hours, during which time their operator, Ifinex, will complete the migration of all data to new servers. Account holders will not be able to access their wallets and all features will be inaccessible for the duration of the upgrade.

In an announcement, Ifinex revealed it’s switching from AWS cloud services to a self-designed infrastructure. The exchanges will now be using its own dedicated servers in a data center located in the Swiss Crypto Valley. The hardware is suitable for high-volume trading and the company tweeted that the move aims to “significantly enhance platform speed, security and performance.” Ifinex further explained:

The last stage in this process necessitates taking Ifinex trading platforms offline, meaning that Bitfinex and Ethfinex account holders will be unable to trade or access their wallets during the transition.

The operator also noted that the change will bring some benefits to users. For example, the combination between selected hardware and new order submission gateways can potentially double the speed of processing. Ifinex also claims the bare-metal servers are inherently more secure as they are running dedicated custom hardware and are not reliant on a third-party cloud service.

The Daily: Bitfinex Schedules Exchange Downtime, Koinex Adds New Security Features

Koinex Introduces Security Updates

India’s leading crypto exchange Koinex has unveiled new security features for its customers. The trading platform explained on Medium that the additional layers of security applied to the accounts  will provide greater protection for users’ funds and add new functionalities. Koinex also promised to release more security updates in the future.

The Daily: Bitfinex Schedules Exchange Downtime, Koinex Adds New Security FeaturesA special “Protection Mode” is now automatically activated after signing in. It prevents any withdrawals of digital assets for the first 10 minutes of each session. During that time, users can lock their account if they suspect it has been compromised. However, clients will be able to start trading immediately after they log in and the mode does not restrict P2P fiat withdrawals of the Indian rupee.

Koinex developers have also introduced an additional verification step for cryptocurrency withdrawals. Now each withdrawal request will have to be confirmed over email, which users can do by following a verification link they will receive to their registered email address.

The notification email sent to account holders after they sign in now has a “Lock My Account” link that allows them to block any transaction if they suspect fraudulent activity. The link will take users to a security page, where they’ll be able to lock their account and delete any open orders. When an account is locked, all crypto withdrawal requests that have not been confirmed by email are cancelled automatically.

Huobi Pool to Launch EOS-Dedicated Exchange

The Daily: Bitfinex Schedules Exchange Downtime, Koinex Adds New Security FeaturesHuobi Group announced that its crypto mining subsidiary, Huobi Pool, is preparing to launch a new digital asset exchange in the first quarter of 2019. The platform will be focused on EOS and will allow users to trade the coin against a number of other cryptocurrencies. Commenting on the announcement, Huobi Pool’s chief executive officer Cao Fei stated:

As an EOS super node, Huobi Pool has placed its ecological development high on its list of priorities. Launching this EOS exchange is simply the next logical step in our support.

In the past few months, Huobi Pool has been working closely with the EOS community. The company has taken part in the building of an EOS testchain called the Crypto Kylin Testnet, which can be used to evaluate EOS-based projects.

Singapore-based Huobi group is a major crypto company that operates the third largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, Huobi. It has been expanding its business recently in a number of sectors and markets.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Koinex.


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Huobi and Major Russian Bank to Provide Legal Help to the Crypto Industry

The recently established Russian subsidiary of global cryptocurrency exchange Huobi and Vnesheconombank, Russia’s state-owned development bank, are now partnering to offer crypto companies legal support and advice. The newly created “legal lab” will also represent blockchain businesses in court.

Also read: German Startup Devises Eco-Friendly Energy-Efficient Miners

Legal Lab to Assist Crypto Companies in Russian Courts

Huobi, which is currently the third largest digital asset trading platform by daily volume, opened its office in Russia on Nov. 12. The branch provides 24-hour online support and has a Russian-language call center. The Huobi Russia online exchange officially launched on Dec. 6.

Huobi and Major Russian Bank to Provide Legal Help to the Crypto IndustryThe Singapore-based company also revealed it’s planning to participate in a number of projects including an educational program focused on crypto and blockchain technologies, a startup incubator, and mining hotels. The government-controlled Vnesheconombank (VEB) is Huobi’s main partner in Russia. The exchange cooperates with VEB’s Center for Digital Transformations in more than one field – education and training, legislative initiatives and blockchain research.

The latest joint initiative led to the creation of the Huobi Legal Lab, a unit that employs experts who will be providing legal assistance and advice to companies realizing new projects in the nascent crypto industry, Huobi Russia announced in its Telegram channel. It will also support businesses working in other related sectors of the digital economy, helping them to comply with the current Russian laws, Forklog and Bitnovosti reported.

Another of its priorities will be to provide legal representation in Russian courts to entities that require such services. The lab’s experts will also develop and assess new legislation concerning the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry in order to create favorable conditions for market participants.

The two partners will receive support from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). The chairperson of the parliamentary group assessing the risks associated with cryptocurrencies, Elina Sidorenko, will head the legal lab. Sidorenko, who is a professor at MGIMO, said the legal experts will make sure that digital assets do not violate the existing legislation and comply with international law. She also commented:

In a situation when the regulatory framework is developing more slowly than the digital industry itself, legal support is vital for the business.

Russian Cryptocurrency Industry Faces Challenges in Legal Vacuum

Huobi and Major Russian Bank to Provide Legal Help to the Crypto IndustryCrypto companies in Russia are finding it hard to comply with Russian law as it does not yet reflect the specifics of their activities. Unfortunately the adoption of the draft legislation that was expected to legalize them was postponed several times this year. In May, Russian lawmakers approved on first reading three drafts but none of them has passed second reading yet.

The final adoption of the main bill, the law “On Digital Financial Assets,” has recently been rescheduled for the spring session of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament. What’s more, following a number of amendments to the original text, the legal document lost key terms related to the matter it is supposed to regulate. These include “cryptocurrency,” “token,” “mining,” and “smart contract.”

The legal lab created by Huobi and VEB is not the first attempt by the Russian society to deal with the challenges stemming from the legal vacuum in the digital space. Recently, the Russian Lawyers Association and an educational organization called Blockchain Lawyers agreed to create a specialized commission of legal experts that will review cases not covered by the current Russian regulations. Two months ago, a leading Russian industry organization announced the establishment of an arbitration body to look into disputes between participants in the digital economy, including the crypto sector.

What do you think about the joint initiative between Huobi and Vnesheconombank? Let us know in the comments section below.


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German Startup Devises Eco-Friendly Energy-Efficient Miners

German Startup Comes up With Eco-Friendly, Energy-Efficient Miners

Azultec is a company that has been researching current mining solutions as part of its project to create an efficient alternative with high computing power and low energy consumption. Its Cube devices are silent mining rigs that can be installed in living rooms. The miners can also use renewable energy and are designed to reuse over two thirds of the generated heat.

Also read: Transnistria Welcomes Crypto Miners, Plans to Expand the Industry

Miners Made Suitable for Living Rooms

German Startup Devises Eco-Friendly Energy-Efficient MinersMining equipment manufacturing has been an industry long dominated by giants such as Bitmain, Ebang, and Canaan. But every once in a while, a smaller business comes up with a less powerful but nevertheless empowering offering. German-based Azultec is less focused on industrial-grade clients, with its devices designed for the domestic market.

The mining rigs the company makes are assembled using specially adapted graphics processing units (GPUs). The developers of the all-in-one concept have attempted to avoid issues that have plagued traditional mining hardware and have put forward solutions that make their equipment suitable for a regular living room or server room.

Azultec’s devices utilize high-end custom-built water cooling systems designed for personal computers. They can be installed in homes or in warehouses and connected to photovoltaic systems or fuel cells to reduce energy costs. The mining machines are also capable of repurposing up to 72 percent of the heat generated by the hardware.

German Startup Devises Eco-Friendly Energy-Efficient Miners

Cube 300, the mid-range configuration, is equipped with eight Nvidia GTX 1070 graphic cards, 2TB HDD memory and 4GB DDR4 of RAM. Its power consumption is about 1450W and the miner is capable of reaching 310 MHash/s. Cube 400, which is Azultec’s high-end consumer-grade miner, comes with 8 Nvidia GTX 1080 cards, 2TB HDD and 4GB DDR4 RAM memory. It has a power rating of less than 2000W and computing performance of 410 MHash/s.

The components in both rigs are water-cooled to ensure operation under optimal conditions. The product page doesn’t say what cryptocurrencies these rigs are designed to mine, but in general, video cards are more suitable for altcoins such as ethereum rather than bitcoin, which requires much more computing power and electrical energy. The first generation of the Cubes will be released in the first quarter of 2019.

Another of Azultec’s products, Wizard Machine 300, is an entry-level industrial solution for cloud computing and mining. The device is developed for 19-inch server racks and can be used by enterprises that need to utilize excess energy such as windparks. The liquid-cooled server is built to enhance CGI rendering performance and it comes with eight Nvidia GTX 1070 GPUs and 64GB of RAM hosted on a single motherboard to reduce the number of used components.

New Mining Rigs to Be Unveiled at CES

German Startup Devises Eco-Friendly Energy-Efficient MinersAccording to Azultec, its project is backed by three well-known German brands in the IT and high-tech sectors – Alphacool, Aquatuning and Technikpr. They have supported the idea of making the minting of digital coins and the earning of cryptocurrencies as easy as possible and sustainable.

The company is not only assembling mining rigs but also exploring options to produce its own graphics cards and mainboards in order to optimize the efficiency of its mining Cubes. Its engineers are working to design an in-house heat-to-cool conversion system that can utilize the heat generated by the mining hardware.

According to the startup’s roadmap, the first-generation of the mining rigs from the Cube series will be released onto the market in Q1 of 2019. During the same quarter, Azultec plans to also experiment with fuels cells as a power generating solution for its products.

Azultec will be presenting its devices at CES 2019, the annual consumer electronics expo that will take place on Jan. 11-18 in Las Vegas. Expansion in the U.S. and Asia is in its business plans for the coming year as well. The company will also launch its own token and conduct a coin offering in January to raise funds for its projects.

What do you think of Azultec’s mining solutions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Azultec.


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The Daily: Electrum Users Targeted by Hackers, Huobi DM’s Daily Volume Exceeds $1B

The Daily: Electrum Users Targeted by Hackers, Huobi DM Daily Volume Exceeds $1B

Electrum developers have confirmed reports of an attack against the popular cryptocurrency wallet. Also covered in The Daily, Huobi Derivative Market’s daily trading volume has reached $1 billion, and one of the founders of Brazil’s leading crypto exchange Foxbit has died in a car crash.

Also read: UFC 232 to Have Official Crypto Partner, 5% of Israelis Use Bitcoin

Electrum Developers Scramble to Stop Phishing Attack

The Daily: Electrum Users Targeted by Hackers, Huobi DM's Daily Volume Exceeds $1BUsers of the Electrum bitcoin wallet have been targeted in a new phishing attack, the project’s developers confirmed on Twitter. The team notes that the wallet’s official website is electrum.org and warns against downloading the software from any other source.

The attack, which began about a week ago, has been conducted through malicious servers. When asked to broadcast a transaction through a legitimate Electrum wallet, these servers reply with an error message, directing users to download a fake ‘security update’ from an unauthorized Github repository.

At startup, the malicious software asks users for a two-factor authentication code, an unusual request as the 2FA codes are needed only when sending funds. The app then uses the code to transfer the stolen digital cash to addresses controlled by the attacker.

Electrum is one of the most popular cryptocurrency wallets with support for major coins such as bitcoin core, bitcoin cash, litecoin, and others. According to a report by Zdnet, the unknown hacker or hackers have so far managed to misappropriate over 200 BTC.

The Daily: Electrum Users Targeted by Hackers, Huobi DM's Daily Volume Exceeds $1B

Electrum developers released an update, version 3.3.2, after they were notified of the attack. However, they admitted in a blog post that “This is not a true fix, but the more proper fix of using error codes would entail upgrading the whole federated server ecosystem.” Gitub admins have also taken down the attackers’ repository.

In January of this year, Electrum issued an emergency patch for another bug. The vulnerability exposed passwords allowing websites hosting the wallets to potentially steal cryptocurrency belonging to their users.

Huobi DM’s Daily Trading Volume Surpasses $1 Billion

The Daily: Electrum Users Targeted by Hackers, Huobi DM's Daily Volume Exceeds $1BHuobi Derivative Market’s daily volume has exceeded $1 billion within a month after the launch of the trading service, the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange announced. The threshold was reached on Dec. 25, which was also a strong day for the company’s main trading platform, Huobi Global, with the combined trading volume of both Huboi’s platforms amounting to $2 billion on Christmas day. Huobi Global CEO Livio Weng commented:

This just goes to show the market demand for more sophisticated crypto trading tools, particularly those that allow traders to control risks in volatile markets. Huobi DM is a priority for us and we will continue to enhance it over the coming months.

The cryptocurrency contract trading feature offered by Huobi Derivative Market allows users to buy or sell bitcoin core (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) at predetermined prices and specified times in the future. That provides traders with a number of options such as arbitrage, speculation, and hedging. Huobi also plans to offer support for more cryptocurrencies, with EOS contracts already scheduled to go live on Friday.

Foxbit Co-Founder Gustavo Schiavon Dies in a Car Crash

The Daily: Electrum Users Targeted by Hackers, Huobi DM's Daily Volume Exceeds $1BGustavo Schiavon, one of the founders of the leading Brazilian cryptocurrency exchange Foxbit, has died in a road accident. While driving between Marília and São Paulo, the young entrepreneur reportedly lost control over his car and ran into a cargo truck. Gustavo’s girlfriend, Ariadny Rinolfi, has survived but has been hospitalized in serious condition. Another victim died in the crash that involved a total of two passenger cars and two large trucks.

Schiavon established Foxbit in 2014 with three other partners – João Canhada, Marcos Henrique and Felipe Trovão. In the following years, it became Brazil’s largest digital asset trading platform. This past March, the exchange lost to hackers 1 million Brazilian real (approximately $260,000), however, restored customers’ balances with the company’s own reserves.

This year Foxbit was also involved in a lawsuit against a commercial bank that closed its account citing concerns over money laundering. Without presenting evidence in court, the bank claimed it had the right to shut down accounts which it determined to be risky, which was later confirmed by Brazil’s judiciary.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Electrum, Foxbit.


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Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield Results

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield Results

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been tirelessly promoting the petro, ever since his administration announced the creation of what is now considered the first state-issued cryptocurrency. Although no one is really sure whether the coin actually works, Venezuelans have already seen their salaries denominated in the national crypto and their pensions converted to petro. Imposing the virtual currency on other nations, however, is proving much harder.

Also read: Private Blockchains Have Few Applications, Study Finds

Russia Not Ready for Petro Bookkeeping

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield ResultsMaduro attempted to push the petro during his recent visit to Moscow, offering Russia the opportunity to use the Venezuelan coin in its oil industry finances. Speaking to journalists in the Russian capital, he revealed that Caracas intends to gradually introduce the oil-backed cryptocurrency in its trade relations with international partners and has already prepared a schedule to do so. The head of the Bolivarian Republic, who met high-ranking Russian officials including President Putin, added that his country will start using the petro for all transactions in its oil sector in 2019.

The news that the cryptocurrency will be on the agenda of the meetings in Moscow came from the Venezuelan ambassador to Russia, Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa, who claimed the Russian side has shown great interest in the Venezuelan proposals. Later, Russia’s deputy finance minister Sergey Storchak confirmed the petro has been presented to the Russian officials but said there were no immediate plans to use it in bilateral trade with Venezuela.

This is not the first attempt by Caracas to sell the petro to the Russians. In April of this year, officials from both countries discussed the expansion of the economic cooperation between their governments. Following the meetings, the South American country revealed plans to assemble Russian Kamaz trucks and intentions to pay for the auto parts with petro coins. The agreement, however, was not officially confirmed by the representatives of the Russian Federation who visited Caracas.

Belarus Prefers Raw Materials Over Crypto

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield ResultsMore recently, Venezuela offered another of its allies, Belarus, to pay a portion of the $113 million it owes for housing projects realized by the state-owned Belarusian construction company Belzarubezhstroy using the petro. “The financial situation in Venezuela is tense. We are considering alternative options for repaying the existing debt. One of them is to use the petro cryptocurrency,” said the company’s deputy director Alexander Falevich.

Despite the outstanding debt, Belzarubezhstroy continues to build apartment blocks in Venezuela, even after the departure of all Russian and Chinese companies from the country, Falevich told Sputnik. He added that the Venezuelan authorities do want to pay the money but the Belarusian law currently does not recognize cryptocurrencies such as the petro as legal tender. That’s why Minsk is trying to convince Caracas to repay the debt with raw materials, which Belarus can then re-export to the global market.

Caracas Pitches the Petro to OPEC Members

Maduro’s Promotion of the Petro Yet to Yield ResultsVenezuela also plans to offer its sovereign cryptocurrency as a unit of account in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). International oil trade is dominated by U.S. fiat currency and over the past decades a number of proposals to replace the greenback have been put forward by countries under U.S. sanctions.

In a video address, published last month on Twitter by the state-owned energy giant PDVSA, the country’s oil minister Manuel Quevedo said he intends to acquaint OPEC members with the “main oil-backed digital currency.” He also stated:

The petro will become the digital currency of the international oil trade. We will present it to OPEC. This will be a move to spread cryptocurrencies internationally.

Venezuela wants to start using the petro in its oil exports as soon as the first quarter of next year. Its government has already called on distributers of Venezuelan oil and petroleum products as well as air carriers and sea shipping companies to set up cryptocurrency wallets in order to be able to pay and be paid in petro. The problem is, however, that despite announcing the public sale of the national crypto in October, at this point its buyers can only get “petro certificates,” not the digital coins themselves.

That, of course, did not stop President Maduro from promoting the state-issued Venezuelan coin to another international organization, the regional “Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America” (ALBA). “We need to unite for economic liberation and go along the path of joint development,” the socialist leader told his colleagues from nine other member states, while suggesting that ALBA should put the petro in the focus of its monetary policy efforts.

What do you think of Venezuela’s attempts to promote its national cryptocurrency, the petro? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Belzarubezhstroy. 


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The Daily: Mimblewimble Coins Prepare to Launch, New Remittance Platform Announced

The Daily: Mimblewimble Coins, New Remittance Platform, Restructuring Giants

With the New Year around the corner, startups as well as established players in the cryptocurrency industry have announced plans for new products and services. In The Daily today we cover the upcoming premieres of two Mimblewimble-based coins, the planned launch of a low-fee, crypto-based remittance service in Asia, and the intentions of two leading Chinese crypto companies to focus on core business activities.

Also read: BTCP Bug Exploited by ‘Bad Actor’, Binance Lists New Pairs

Customizable Privacy Coins Coming Soon

The Daily: Mimblewimble Coins Prepare to Launch, New Remittance Platform AnnouncedTwo crypto projects using Mimblewimble, a protocol designed to increase privacy and scalability, have announced the upcoming premieres of their new coins. The Mimblewimble concept was introduced back in 2016 and is now ready to be implemented at the beginning of 2019. Challenges during the development of the two cryptocurrencies have postponed both launches.

A startup called Beam is preparing to issue what has been described as the first Mimblewimble-based cryptocurrency on Jan. 3, after earlier reports that it would go live by the end of this month. Beam has been developed as a privacy-oriented crypto, but according to its creators it will be highly customizable, unlike other offerings in that niche.

“Lack of transaction confidentiality and poor scalability are some of the major issues that hinder crypto adoption,” Beam’s CEO Alexander Zaidelson told Distributed. The company will offer users the ability to set the privacy level for their transactions so that they can still report them to tax authorities, for example.

Another blockchain project based on the Mimblewimble protocol, Grin, was announced even earlier than Beam. However, its coin is now scheduled to launch on Jan. 15, 2019, to become the second Mimblewimble-based cryptocurrency.

Remittance Platform to Use Crypto Conversion

Atom Solutions, a Japan-based fintech company, is planning to launch its new remittance service on March 1, 2019. The platform uses a crypto wallet system that provides an alternative to traditional channels such as those based on the banking network Swift, which can be quite expensive and in some cases very slow.

The Daily: Mimblewimble Coins Prepare to Launch, New Remittance Platform Announced

Initially, the service will be available to users who want to send money between South Korea and the Philippines. However, the Japanese startup plans to expand the coverage to include at least 10 countries by the end of next year.

Atom Solutions promises low exchange rates and fees for fiat transfers thanks to using cryptocurrency conversion, but also addresses the issue with volatility that concerns crypto remittances by providing fast exchange through its wallet. The company has developed a system that quickly exchanges the fiat amount a user wants to send into cryptocurrency and then again into local fiat for the receiver.

Chinese Crypto Giants Focus on Core Businesses

The Daily: Mimblewimble Coins Prepare to Launch, New Remittance Platform AnnouncedTwo leading cryptocurrency companies with Chinese roots have announced plans to optimize their operations and focus on core business activities. The news comes at the end of a bearish year that saw digital asset markets losing billions of dollars in capitalization compared to the all-time highs of late 2017.

Bitmain Technology, the world’s leading producer of bitcoin mining equipment, has confirmed recent reports regarding planned job cuts that first spread on Chinese social media. In a statement quoted by the South China Morning Post, the Beijing-based company said it’s undergoing “some adjustment to our staff this year.” Emphasizing that it’s continuing to build a sustainable business, Bitmain denied rumors that it will lay off half of its employees. The company explained:

A part of that is having to really focus on things that are core to that mission and not things that are auxiliary. As we move into the new year, we will continue to double down on hiring the best talent from a diverse range of backgrounds.

In a similar announcement, the operator of Huobi, currently the third largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume, said it’s working to optimize staffing. The Chinese Huobi Group intends to do so by laying off its “worst-performing employees.” A spokesperson for the company noted however that the Singapore-based exchange is still hiring people for its core businesses and emerging markets.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Beam, Atom Solutions.


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Private Blockchains Have Few Applications, Study Finds

Private Blockchains Have Few Applications, Study Finds

Despite all efforts, so far businesses haven’t been able to come up with significant applications for private, centralized blockchains as opposed to public distributed ledgers, a new study shows. According to the authors, in most cases corporate blockchain networks are used mainly for database verification and transactions auditing.

Also read: Poll Shows 13% of Russians Use Cryptocurrency for Online Purchases

Public Ledgers Are Universal and Disruptive

The research is part of a report on the development of the crypto sector produced by the Center for Financial Innovation and Cashless Economy at the Moscow School of Management “Skolkovo.” It has been conducted in response to the “growing number of infrastructure proposals, on one hand, and the increasing uncertainty regarding the technological integration and the level of development of distributed ledgers, on the other.”

Private Blockchains Have Few Applications, Study Finds

According to the study, in order to make a leap in its development, the crypto industry has to develop different kinds of distributed ledger applications. At present, there are 24 types of private blockchains, the report details. A few examples of “consortium blockchains” exist, such as joint projects between companies with similar activities, and the rest are private blockchains used mainly as support networks that are controlled by their creators.

The authors claim there are currently around 50 “unique” fields of implementation of the private distributed ledgers but all of them fit in just three categories: trustless solutions, business logic automation and database verification, Bitnovosti reported. At the same time, there are 21 primary distributed ledgers, and the majority of them, 14 out of 21, are “public, uncontrolled, universal and disruptive.” The researchers further explain:

This version of a distributed ledger is most similar to the Internet. It does not have a shutdown button and can be adapted to almost any need.

Private Blockchains Are Niche Products

Private Blockchains Have Few Applications, Study Finds“Consortium blockchains,” on the other hand, are far fewer in number, the Skolkovo researchers note. Most of them have been developed to automate business logic between different companies. There are only three such projects that have gained recognition and popularity, the institute points out. According to the study, these are Corda, Hyperledger and Symbiont.

The report also emphasizes that these systems usually represent niche products. The Moscow School of Management also concludes:

The key value of private ledgers has not been defined yet. It most often comes down to the possibility of creating nodes to review and audit transactions.

The Center for Financial Innovation and Cashless Economy has also identified the most urgent tasks facing the blockchain industry. According to the researchers, these have to do with solving issues related to network management, ensuring data security and confidentiality, addressing scalability challenges and matching the speed of development of public blockchains.

What is your opinion on the findings in the report? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Argentina Meets 2019 With New BATMs, Russia Budgets Millions to Block Sites

The Daily: Argentina Meets New Year With New BATMs, Russia Budgets Millions to Block Sites

In this edition of The Daily, we focus on the growing number of bitcoin ATMs in Argentina. Five new devices have been installed recently in Buenos Aires. We also look at a report that Russia’s telecom watchdog plans to spend millions of dollars to restrict access to banned websites and services such as Telegram. And in Greece, the suspected BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik has been hospitalized after a month-long hunger strike in prison.

Also read: The Daily: Bitfinex Launches Tether Margin Trading, Zebpay Resumes BCH Transactions

Five New Bitcoin ATMs Installed in Argentina’s Capital

The Daily: Argentina Meets 2019 With New BATMs, Russia Budgets Millions to Block SitesIn a bearish year, cryptocurrencies have enjoyed growing popularity in Argentina, a major South American economy that has been through some hard times in the past decades. For example, the trade between BTC and the Argentine peso on the P2P platform Localbitcoins has seen rising volumes throughout 2018. It reached a record high of almost 9.5 million peso (~$250,000) in the week of Dec. 8, according to market data compiled by Coindance.

The number of teller machines exchanging fiat with digital money has also increased significantly and Argentina is now ranking among the countries with the most crypto ATMs on the continent, the Cripto Noticias news outlet reported. Since September, a company called Athena Bitcoin has installed five new devices in shopping malls and supermarkets in Buenos Aires. That brings the total number of bitcoin ATMs in the country to seven. Two other teller machines were installed in the capital city in 2017.

New BATMs have been popping up across the region this year, with dozens of devices now operating in countries like Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Mexico. 2018 has also seen the number of cryptocurrency teller machines around the world double to over 4,000 devices, as news.Bitcoin.com recently reported. Most of these ATMs support major cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH and LTC. The number of devices exchanging BCH has increased to almost 1,400.

Watchdog to Spend Millions on Blocking Online Services

The Daily: Argentina Meets 2019 With New BATMs, Russia Budgets Millions to Block SitesRoskomnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, is planning to acquire new technology to better combat banned websites and online platforms. The agency is ready to spend up to 20 billion rubles (over $500 million) on its implementation, BBC Russian Service has learned. Sources familiar with the project have been quoted by the media.

The report comes after a year of futile attempts to block Telegram, the popular messenger used by millions of crypto enthusiasts around the world. Its operator, founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, is fighting a court decision to ban the service in Russia after it refused to hand over its encryption keys to the Federal Security Service, the country’s major security agency.

According to the BBC, Roskomnadzor is planning to use DPI (deep packet inspection) technology to improve its efforts to restrict access to Telegram and other banned platforms. Currently, Roskomnadzor is trying to curb traffic to these websites and services by blocking the IP addresses they use. This approach, however, has affected many other businesses that have nothing to do with the messaging app.

The Daily: Argentina Meets 2019 With New BATMs, Russia Budgets Millions to Block Sites

For example, this past spring the regulator blocked around 11 million IP addresses and 20 VPN and proxy services offering access to Telegram. Despite the offensive, the messenger is still accessible in Russia and has even increased its users to 3.4 million. According to Russian media, Roskomnadzor may also use the technology to block access to unregulated crypto platforms such as digital asset exchanges.

On Monday, the head of Roskomnadzor, Aleksandr Zharov, rejected the claim in the BBC report regarding the planned budget for the new technology. However, he admitted the agency is working to improve its procedures in order to block more effectively not only the websites but also the associated applications. Zharov noted that it’s too early to talk about the cost of the project.

BTC-e Operator Alexander Vinnik Hospitalized in Prison

Alexander Vinnik, the alleged operator of the infamous BTC-e exchange, has been hospitalized, his lawyer Timofey Musatov told RIA Novosti. Musatov wasn’t able to reveal any more details, but in the last week of November Vinnik went on a hunger strike to protest against prison conditions and violations of his rights by the Greek judiciary.

The Daily: Argentina Meets 2019 With New BATMs, Russia Budgets Millions to Block SitesThe Russian IT specialist was arrested in Thessaloniki last summer on a warrant issued by the U.S. where he is accused of laundering between $4 and $9 billion through the now defunct crypto trading platform, including bitcoins stolen in the Mt Gox hack. His native Russia as well as France have also requested his extradition on charges of other crimes.

Last week, the Supreme Court of Greece ruled that Vinnik should be handed over to the French authorities. His defense team claims the extradition request filed by Paris has already expired. Vinnik himself told Russian journalists in the court room that he would continue his protest in case Greece decides to extradite him to France, Tass reported. He also said he had lost 9 kilograms of body weight since he started the hunger strike.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bill to Curb Iranian National Crypto Filed in US Congress

Draft legislation designed to hamper Iran’s efforts to create a sovereign cryptocurrency has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. The Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act bans U.S. citizens and companies from all transactions and dealings in Iranian digital currency. The bill also introduces sanctions against foreign nationals and organizations that support the development of the crypto.  

Also read: Russian Developers to Help Iran Build Its Crypto-Economy

US to Ban Transactions With Iranian Digital Coins

The draft law, filed in the House of Representatives this week, is sponsored by a group of members led by Wisconsin Republican Mike Gallagher. The main focus of the act is to strengthen existing U.S. sanctions regarding a number of activities and impose new restrictions with respect to Iranian financial institutions and organizations providing services to Iranian banks. The authors of the bill have also proposed measures designed to prevent Iran from issuing its own digital coin to circumvent economic sanctions imposed by Washington.

Bill to Curb Iranian National Crypto Filed in US CongressThe draft law bans transactions and other dealings in any digital token or coin that can be identified as “Iranian digital currency.” It introduces penalties against U.S. citizens and corporate entities as well as foreign nationals and companies providing financial, material or technological support for the development of the Iranian crypto. Individuals and companies that conduct or facilitate transactions related to the purchase or sale of Iranian digital currency or any derivative will also be sanctioned. The same applies if they maintain significant amounts of such coins.

The legal document details that “All transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in Iranian digital currency by a United States person or within the United States are prohibited.” The bill describes the sanctions President Trump may impose on violators that are based abroad. The measures include prohibiting the opening of a bank account and blocking any property transactions in the United States. Foreigners may also be denied visa or other entry document for the U.S.

Assessing Iran’s Progress Towards Sovereign Crypto

The Republican representatives have also tasked the Secretary of the Treasury with producing a report on the progress made by the government of the Islamic Republic in creating a sovereign cryptocurrency. The document should be submitted to Congress within four months after the enactment of the new law. It is expected to contain a description of the technical details of the cryptocurrency that’s being developed by Tehran and provide a list of the involved organizations. The lawmakers also want an assessment of the state and non-state actors that are assisting the Iranians, including the governments of China, Russia, Venezuela, and Turkey.

Bill to Curb Iranian National Crypto Filed in US Congress

The introduction of the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act comes after mounting reports that the country is advancing in its plans to issue a national cryptocurrency backed by its fiat, the rial. In November, local media announced that the organizations working on the project have already finalized the development of the coin and are only waiting for approval from the Central Bank of Iran.

Tehran stepped up its plan for a sovereign crypto after the Trump administration decided to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal and reintroduced U.S. sanctions earlier this year. They were followed by a move to isolate Iran from the international banking network Swift and other measures that restricted its access to U.S. currency. Last month, trying to avoid breaching U.S. sanctions, a number of leading cryptocurrency exchanges stopped offering services to Iranian residents.

Do you think the new sanctions will slow down Iran’s progress towards a national cryptocurrency? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Poll Shows 13% of Russians Use Cryptocurrency for Online Purchases

Poll Shows 13% of Russians Use Cryptocurrency for Online Purchases

Cryptocurrency transactions are becoming a viable alternative to traditional electronic payments and Russia is no exception to the trend. Recently conducted surveys indicate that a large number of Russians have already started using digital coins for online purchases and many others are willing to try.   

Also read: Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per Year

Crypto Payments Among Preferred Cashless Methods

Poll Shows 13% of Russians Use Cryptocurrency for Online PurchasesA poll conducted among 924 residents of the Russian Federation on the eve of the Christmas holidays shows that 13 percent of Russians use cryptocurrencies to pay for items they buy on the internet. That may not sound like a lot, but the results of the survey, which covers the full range of cashless payment methods, also demonstrate there is more ground to be conquered.

For example, 18 percent of respondents said they are using peer-to-peer mobile payment systems and 38 percent are regularly making payments through contactless applications such as Paypass, Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, Forklog reported.

Another 48 percent have a mobile bank account and 56 percent prefer alternative nonbank payment systems. 76 percent have stated they use electronic wallets to buy goods and services. That means many of the participants in the study are well acquainted with a number of digital payment methods and could easily switch to cryptocurrency-based platforms in the future.

The majority of the respondents have confirmed they often pay with debit and credit cards or through direct bank transfers, as is the case in any country with a developed traditional banking system. Almost half of those questioned in the poll, which was ordered by Kaspersky Lab, admitted they are uneasy about online payments in general because they don’t feel their funds are safe.

Muscovites Who Never Owned Crypto Want to Spend It

By eliminating third party intermediaries and providing full control over one’s money, cryptocurrencies offer an alternative approach to securing financial assets. In many respects, crypto transactions can also be faster, cheaper, more convenient and to a large degree anonymous.

Poll Shows 13% of Russians Use Cryptocurrency for Online PurchasesThese are likely some of the reasons why 5 percent of the participants in another survey said they were willing to try cryptocurrency payments, despite never having owned digital coins before. The poll was conducted by Russia’s largest electronic payment service Yandex Money in cooperation with the Digital Technologies Department of the city of Moscow and published last month.

The researchers found that 34 percent of the residents of the Russian capital prefer cashless payment methods. Of them, 63 percent conduct such transactions on a daily basis. The report identifies insufficient knowledge and confusion about cryptocurrencies as the main obstacles to wider adoption.

Despite gaining significant popularity over the last couple of years, cryptocurrencies remain unregulated in Russia. Three bills were introduced and approved on first reading in the lower house of Russia’s parliament earlier this year, but lawmakers are still fine-tuning the legislation. The adoption of the main draft, the law “On Digital Financial Assets,” was recently postponed for the spring parliamentary session.

What payment method do you prefer for online purchases? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The Daily: Belgium Blacklists More Crypto Platforms, UAE Prepares ICO Regulations

The Daily: Belgium Blacklists More Crypto Platforms, UAE Prepares ICO Regulations

In this edition of The Daily, Belgium’s financial regulator has expanded its list of fraudulent platforms offering cryptocurrency investments, while UAE has announced it’s working on new ICO regulations. We also look at the plans for a common digital currency in the Eurasian Economic Union and Abkhazia’s intentions to regulate its growing crypto mining industry.

Also read: Bitcoin Posts Record Volume, Ledger Plans Major Update

Belgian Financial Watchdog Issues New Scam Warning

The Daily: Belgium Blacklists More Crypto Platforms, UAE Prepares ICO RegulationsBelgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has updated its list of companies suspected of operating fraudulent cryptocurrency investment schemes. The regulator has recently added 14 new websites offering crypto asset trading and other services, bringing the total of reported online scams to 113.

In a new message to investors, the financial watchdog noted that despite its earlier warnings, it continues to receive new complaints from consumers who have invested in digital assets through the blacklisted businesses. “Hence, the FSMA repeats its warning against the fraudsters behind those platforms who are using cryptocurrencies to swindle consumers,” the agency said.

The regulator emphasized that most of these platforms are based on the same principles. They usually claim to offer secure, easy and lucrative investment opportunities and expertise in the management of these investments. Clients are often told their funds are guaranteed and can be withdrawn at any time. In reality, however, they inevitably find themselves unable to recover the money.

UAE to Register and License Crypto Companies

The United Arab Emirates’ Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) is gearing up to introduce regulations for initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the first half of 2019. The decision to establish a dedicated regulatory framework for digital token sales is aimed at providing startups in UAE with the option to raise capital through crowdfunding, local news outlet The National reported.

According to the publication, the SCA has already recognized tokens issued in coin offerings as securities and will work with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Dubai Financial Market to develop trading platforms for ICOs next year. The watchdog’s chief executive, Obaid Al Zaabi, detailed:

We have signed agreements with law firms to come up with a sandbox and rule books for ICOs. The legal requirements will be completed by the end of the first half of 2019.

Al Zaabi added that after the introduction of the new regulations, UAE authorities will work with local exchanges on the implementation of relevant technologies and the development of the necessary infrastructure. He also stressed that the country will remain open to foreign investments in the industry, providing registration and licensing to crypto companies from around the world.

EAEU Plans to Issue Digital Coin by 2021

The Daily: Belgium Blacklists More Crypto Platforms, UAE Prepares ICO RegulationsThe Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is likely to introduce a common digital currency within the next two or three years, according to comments made by Russia’s deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseev. The coin will be similar to the European Currency Unit (ECU), which was used in the European Economic Community and later in the European Union between 1979 and 1998.

Moiseev added that not only EAEU members – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia – but also the union’s partners have shown interest in adopting a common digital currency in their trade and economic relations. He also said that a group of experts is already working to develop the idea.

“Inevitably, we have to move in that direction because of the mounting difficulties with accounting. The number of organizations placed under sanctions is also growing. We must respond by creating reliable international payment systems that are not tied to the U.S. dollar,” the Russian official stated, as quoted by Tass.

Abkhazia Mulls Mining Regulations

The Daily: Belgium Blacklists More Crypto Platforms, UAE Prepares ICO RegulationsThe Republic of Abkhazia, a partially recognized entity in northwestern Georgia, is planning to adopt regulations for its growing cryptocurrency mining industry. Its president Raul Khajimba recently scheduled a meeting with members of the territory’s government to discuss the drafting of a law dedicated to placing the mining sector under supervision.

The announcement comes after the head of the state-run energy company Chernomorenergo, Aslan Basaria, complained that mining farms set up in abandoned Soviet factories put additional stress on the country’s electrical grid which is already loaded to full capacity. “If temperatures fall, there is a risk that electricity will not reach regular customers,” Basaria warned, quoted by regional media.

According to Eurasianet, Abkhazia is emerging as a crypto mining destination much like neighboring Georgia, the country it broke away from in the early 1990s. Both share a large hydropower complex located on the de facto border, which satisfies most of Abkhazia’s electricity needs. In recent years, Georgia has become a regional leader in crypto mining as it offers miners some of the lowest operating costs in the world.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bitcoin ATMs Double in Number This Year

Bitcoin ATMs Double in Number This Year

For a markedly bearish year, 2018 turns out to have been pretty good for the spread of cryptocurrency teller machines. The number of bitcoin ATMs around the world has approximately doubled in the past 12 months. More than 4,000 devices in almost 80 countries are now exchanging fiat money for digital coins.   

Also read: Study Finds Less Than 40% of BTC Addresses Are Economically Relevant

Six New Devices Installed Every Day

Bitcoin ATMs Double in Number This YearDespite the falling prices of digital assets throughout most of the year, BATMs have been popping up across the globe at an average rate of six per day, according to crypto data analytics platform Data Light. In a tweet this week, the company noted that businesses installing these machines have been more active in the first months of 2018, when the market caps of most cryptocurrencies were significantly larger.

The numbers recently released by Data Light show that a total of 4,051 ATMs are currently operating on the planet. Most of these devices support several major coins including bitcoin core (4,046), litecoin (2,421), and ethereum (1,993). The number of machines offering bitcoin cash (BCH) has reached 1,356. Many crypto ATMs buy and sell altcoins such as dash (729), monero (120), dogecoin (79), and zcash (67).

Data Light has also published a graph that demonstrates the growth of bitcoin ATMs in the last four years. Since the beginning of 2014, there’s only one month when more BATMs were closed than installed – November 2015. According to the compiled statistical data, a record 257 cryptocurrency teller machines have been launched in April of this year.

Bitcoin ATMs Double in Number This Year

Over 4,000 Bitcoin ATMs Now Operational

According to another source, Statista, the number of ATMs supporting cryptocurrencies has increased from a little over 500 in January of 2016 to 4,036 on Dec. 18, 2018. In a recently published report, the platform points out that the highest number of bitcoin ATMs has been recorded in the United States. At present, over 70 percent of all crypto ATMs are located in North America.

Bitcoin ATMs Double in Number This YearStatista also notes there are two main types of devices – the basic, buy-only machines, and more advanced ATMs allowing users to not only purchase but also sell digital coins. The authors of the study have mentioned the two largest manufacturers of bitcoin ATMs – Genesis Coin and General Bytes – which as of September 2018 controlled around 33 and 29 percent of the market respectively.

According to the most popular BATM tracker, Coinatmradar, there are currently 4,063 crypto ATMs in 76 countries around the world. These teller devices are manufactured by over 40 producers and operated by more than 500 companies.

Coinatmradar’s data shows that almost all teller machines support BTC. At the same, the number of ATMs buying and selling BCH has been increasing rapidly throughout this year and is now close to 1,400.

Do you think the spread of bitcoin ATMs can help the wider adoption of cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.  


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Data Light.


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Study Finds Less Than 40% of BTC Addresses Are Economically Relevant

Study Finds Less Than 40% of BTC Addresses Are Economically Relevant

The number of unique addresses on the Bitcoin Core (BTC) network is constantly growing but only 37 percent of them are “economically relevant,” according to a recent study by Chainalysis. The vast majority of them – 86 percent – are controlled by service providers and the rest are used by private investors. Another key finding is that just 20 percent of BTC transaction value is economic.  

Also read: Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per Year

Researchers Say 27 Million Addresses Hold BTC

Study Finds Less Than 40% of BTC Addresses Are Economically RelevantBlockchain surveillance company Chainalysis sets the total number of BTC addresses at around 460 million as of December 2018. The research claims 172 million of these are economically relevant – in other words, controlled by people and companies that currently own bitcoin core. Yet only 27 million of these addresses actually hold BTC.

Chainalysis further notes that 86 percent of the economically relevant addresses, or 147 million, belong to named services such as cryptocurrency exchanges, merchants, gambling platforms or darknet markets. The other 25 million addresses are associated with private wallets holding cryptocurrency.

The authors of the study explain that the non-economically relevant addresses are mostly single-use addresses that hold bitcoin for short periods of time. Three quarters of them have held BTC for less than a day.

A total of 288 million addresses have limited economic value. These currently hold no balances and 93 percent of them have been used just once.

Study Finds Less Than 40% of BTC Addresses Are Economically Relevant

Only a Fifth of BTC Transaction Value Is ‘Economic’

In November, Chainalysis revealed that the use of bitcoin core for commercial payments has dropped significantly during the course of the bearish 2018. Its data showed that the value of BTC transacted by major payment processors has decreased by almost 80 percent between January and September.

Study Finds Less Than 40% of BTC Addresses Are Economically Relevant

According to its latest report, the majority of non-economically relevant addresses hold digital coins for a short time in order to facilitate payments between people and services. The study concludes that many of the addresses are created only to transfer BTC. The researchers also detail:

We estimate that on average only 20 percent of the bitcoin transaction value is economic, in that it is a final transfer between different people via economically relevant addresses. The remaining 80 percent is returned as change.

The authors have found that around $41 billion of transactions were executed between August and October of this year. However, the transactions that had real economic value were worth $9 billion. The majority of non-economically relevant addresses have been identified as either change addresses or “connective tissue.”

Chainalysis points out that the data about the number of addresses and the transaction volumes does not fully reflect the complex nature of the BTC network. The digital forensics company emphasizes that only a fraction of all created addresses actually hold coins and notes that a small proportion of the conducted transactions have economic value.

What do you make of the numbers in the Chainalysis report? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Chainalysis.


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Russian Parliament Postpones Adoption of Digital Assets Bill

The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, has postponed the second reading of a long-awaited bill intended to regulate cryptocurrencies in the country. Lawmakers will review the draft law “On Digital Financial Assets” during the spring parliamentary session next year, the house deputy speaker Sergey Neverov announced.

Also read: Transnistria Welcomes Crypto Miners, Plans to Expand the Industry

Second Reading Scheduled for the Spring

Russian Parliament Postpones Adoption of Digital Assets Bill
Sergey Neverov

The bill was adopted on first reading in May of this year, along with two other pieces of legislation aimed at regulating the crypto sector – a draft amending the Russian Civil Code to incorporate a definition of “digital rights” and another one introducing rules for crowdfunding platforms. The second reading of the legislative package was initially scheduled to take place during the fall session.

In the past months, Russian deputies made a number of changes meant to “synchronize” the texts. In the process, key terms such as “cryptocurrency,” “token,” “mining,” and “smart contract” were dropped, which triggered criticism from the country’s crypto community. Warning that many crypto companies may seek a better business climate elsewhere, industry organizations proposed an alternative bill that would grant cryptocurrencies a “special status.”

During the fall session of the Duma, the revised law “On Digital Financial Assets” was released for public discussions. Several Russian officials shared their expectations that it would be adopted by the end of this year.

Briefing Russian media this week, Sergey Neverov, who is also the leader of the United Russia party’s parliamentary group, noted that deputies believe digitization is a relevant matter. He added that the accelerated development of these technologies and solutions will allow Russia to be more competitive. Neverov did not explain, however, why if that is the case, the adoption of the legislation is being postponed. Quoted by Forklog and Regnum, he stated:

It is important for us to consider the bill ‘On Digital Financial Assets’ during the spring session. Its adoption is already overdue.

Neverov’s comments followed a statement by Russia’s deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov who said authorities in Moscow did not plan to introduce any more significant amendments to the texts. Noting the recent crypto market slump, he defended the “careful” approach employed by Russian legislators towards the regulation of digital assets.

Central Bank of Russia to Block Websites

Russian Parliament Postpones Adoption of Digital Assets BillLawmakers in the Duma are expected to review at least two other draft laws with potential implications for the crypto industry. Neverov revealed that after the Christmas holidays, Russian deputies will consider amendments that would allow the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) to initiate the blocking of websites. The bill is sponsored by the speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, and the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, Valentina Matviyenko.

The other draft was filed in the first week of December by a group of legislators from both houses led by the chairman of the Financial Markets Committee, Anatoly Aksakov. The law is designed to regulate the activities of electronic wallets and payment services providers that are based abroad, such as Alipay and Wechat, Bitnovosti reported. It introduces the legal term “foreign payment system” as well as new rules that will govern the operations of these platforms in the Russian Federation.

If deputies approve the bill, these providers will be required to establish an official representation in Russia and register with the CBR, which will take responsibility for oversight. Their operators will also be obliged to implement risk management systems, data protection mechanisms, and start using the Russian payment infrastructure.

What do you think of these regulatory developments in the Russian Federation? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per Year

Russians to Be Allowed to Invest in ICOs up to $9,000 per Year

Russian lawmakers have revised another bill regarding the regulation of the industry built around cryptocurrencies. In its latest version, the draft law on crowdfunding sets the maximum amount of money ordinary Russians will be permitted to invest in projects such as ICOs at less than $9,000 per year.     

Also read: Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate Laws

Investments Limited to $1,500 per Project

Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per YearThe bill “On attracting investments using investment platforms” is one of the three pieces of legislation aimed at regulating the crypto industry that were adopted on first reading by the State Duma in May. The initial text approved by the lower house of Russia’s parliament did not contain such limits. It only read that they should be determined in sub-statutory acts issued by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR).

According to the revamped draft law, private individuals will be allowed to invest through crowdfunding platforms up to 600,000 Russian rubles (less than $9,000) per year only, and a maximum of 100,000 rubles (~$1,500) per project RBC reported, quoting a copy of the document. Any investment exceeding 600,000 rubles, made by qualified investors or financial institutions, will be subject to mandatory oversight by the country’s financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, in order to prevent money laundering.

The new restrictions will limit the access of ordinary citizens to initial coin offerings (ICOs). The authorities in Moscow claim they want to protect Russians from the associated risks. In a statement, the CBR warned that investing through crowdfunding platforms can lead to the loss of all invested funds. However, the limits will not apply to social and charitable crowdfunding initiatives.

No Restrictions for ‘Qualified’ Investors

Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per YearProfessional investors will not be restricted in their participation in crowdfunding projects. Private individuals can be treated as “qualified investors” provided they meet certain criteria detailed in the federal law “On the securities market.” For example, they must control assets worth at least 6 million rubles (almost $90,000) and prove they have been employed in the securities industry for at least two years.

The revised crowdfunding bill is likely to be voted on second reading in the Duma in January revealed one of its authors, the chairman of the Financial Markets Committee Anatoly Aksakov. Before the parliamentary summer vacation, deputies approved two other drafts – a bill amending the country’s Civil Code to introduce a legal definition of “digital rights” and the main draft pertaining to the regulation of cryptocurrencies, the law “On digital financial assets.”

The latter bill also underwent serious revision, with lawmakers dropping key terms like “cryptocurrency” and “mining.” Representatives of the crypto industry protested and proposed an alternative bill granting cryptocurrencies “special status.” However, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov recently stated that authorities do not plan to introduce any more significant amendments to the texts. The crowdfunding law has also lost important terms related to the crypto economy such as “tokens” and “smart contracts.”

What is your opinion about the investment limits in the revised Russian draft law on crowdfunding? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Transnistria Welcomes Crypto Miners, Plans to Expand the Industry

The government of Transnistria has recognized the importance of cryptocurrency mining for the territory’s economy and budget. The unrecognized republic in Eastern Moldova now plans to expand the industry by attracting more miners with a crypto-friendly business climate and favorable regulations.   

Also read: CEO of Romanian Exchange Coinflux Arrested on US Warrant

Tiraspol Plans for 100 MW of Mining Capacity

Transnistria Welcomes Crypto Miners, Plans to Expand the IndustryEarlier this year, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) adopted legislation that legalized crypto mining and provided incentives for foreign investors to set up mining farms within its borders. Under its provisions, a free economic zone was established for these companies and authorities promised to provide the necessary infrastructure, including unrestricted access to the Transnistrian electrical grid.

The new law “On the development of information blockchain-technologies in the PMR” also allowed tariff-free imports of mining equipment and exempted mining incomes from taxation. As a result, facilities with a total consumption of between 5 and 7 MW of electricity are now operating in the country.

But the government in Tiraspol doesn’t want to stop there. According to its prime minister, Transnistria plans to increase that number to 100 MW and has already managed to secure the needed investments. In an interview recently broadcasted by two local TV channels, Aleksandr Martynov stated:

We adopted a fairly liberal law that stimulates mining activities in Transnistria. We also isolated them from our tax system.

The head of the executive power further emphasized that Pridnestrovian authorities do not exercise any control over the revenues from the production of cryptocurrencies and don’t claim any portion of the income generated by entities that operate mining facilities. He added that the main goal set by the government is to sell more electricity to the bitcoin farms, and Transnistria can offer a lot of it at a low price.

Miners Utilize Excess Generating Capacity

Transnistria Welcomes Crypto Miners, Plans to Expand the IndustryThe largest producer of electricity in the region is the Russian-owned Moldavskaya GRES, a thermal power station built on the shores of Lake Kuchurgan on the Ukrainian border. It has an installed capacity of 2,520 MW. The station burns mainly Russian natural gas which the self-proclaimed republic does not even pay.

The fuel is billed to Moldova which claims sovereignty over the separatist territory in a frozen conflict with the government in Tiraspol that dates back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The $6 billion of money owed by the Kuchurgan power station are considered part of Moldova’s debt to the Russian supplier, Gazprom.

Cryptocurrency miners help to utilize the excess capacity of the power plant. And more mining farms means higher revenues for the station, which translates into increased budget receipts for Transnistria, Prime Minister Martynov explained. He added that the projected income, which he described as significant, has already been included in PMR’s draft budget for the next year.

What do you think of Transnistria’s policies towards the crypto mining industry? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The Daily: Yellow Vest Coin Created, Security Token Trading Platform Launched

The Daily: Yellow Vest Coin Created, Security Token Trading Platform Launched

In The Daily on Monday, a new digital coin project targeting the ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters is promising censorship-free crypto transactions. Also, a regulated security token trading platform is now live in the U.S., South Korean internet giant Kakao invests in an Israeli startup, and crypto exchange Abra is giving away bitcoins for Christmas.

Also read: Trump Chooses Bitcoin Advocate as Chief of Staff, Congressman Proposes Wall Coins

‘Get Your Freedom Back!’

A new digital token project using symbols associated with the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) protestors in France has been devised. The creators of the Gilet Jaune Coin (GJCO) claim their main goal is to support what has become an international movement “in the legitimate struggle of nations to self-determination, and the reconquest of their economic, territorial, and monetary sovereignty.”

The coin’s website is littered with slogans such as “Get your freedom back,” “Long live the Gilets Jaunes” and “The people will not be sacrificed on the altar of debt!” It also abounds in promises and calls like “We will be listed on exchanges soon,” “To stay united, you should mine on our own pool” and “We invite you to buy a Gilet Jaune Coin wallet.”

The Daily: Yellow Vest Coin Created, Security Token Trading Platform Launched

The project’s team claims the coin is inspired by Bitcoin and based on Ethereum, and insists GJCO is easy to use and “perfect for transactions… at ridiculously low costs.” The developers of the new crypto further assure the public that the Gilet Jaune Coin is censorship-free and fraud-resistant, stating that its use is “recommended during the fight against the banking oligarchy, seeking to enslave us!”

It’s unclear whether the digital coin is actually related to the Yellow Vests Movement. The social media links on its website do not lead to real accounts, but coin’s Telegram channel now has over 90 members. The Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes demonstrations, which started as a protest against increased fuel prices in France this past November, have spilled over to other EU countries and even Turkey and Iraq. Protesters have also raised a number of demands related to socio-economic problems such as low incomes and government corruption.

Regulated Security Token Trading Platform Now Live

The Daily: Yellow Vest Coin Created, Security Token Trading Platform LaunchedOpen Finance Network (OFN), a security token trading platform regulated in the U.S., announced it’s transitioning from beta to full trading functionality. According to a blog post on Medium, one of the security tokens available to trade at launch is Blockchain Capital (BCAP). Blockchain Capital is a tokenized venture capital fund focused on digital assets. OFN notes that this is a compliant security token offering.

The platform is now available to both accredited and non-accredited investors in the United States and other markets. It implements a one-time verification procedure through an application called Investor Passport that allows users to invest based on their eligibility. Open Finance Network has also developed its own security token standard called the Smart Securities Standard in order to be able to offer both token issuance and secondary market trading.

Kakao Invests in Israeli Startup Orbs

South Korean Internet giant Kakao Corp. has invested in the Israeli crypto startup Orbs through its venture arm, Kakao Investment, Reuters reported. Kakao, which is South Korea’s largest messaging app operator, announced earlier this year its plans to establish a unit focused on blockchain technology. Orbs, which did not disclose the size of the investment, said the funds will help it grow and build on its existing partnership with the Kakao blockchain subsidiary Ground X. The two companies are already working together to develop applications of crypto technology.

Abra Giving Away Bitcoins for Christmas

The Daily: Yellow Vest Coin Created, Security Token Trading Platform LaunchedDigital asset exchange and crypto wallet provider Abra has decided to cheer up crypto enthusiasts during the bear market with a Christmas promotion. The platform is now giving away $25 of BTC to new investors for its ETF-style token called Bit 10. To be eligible for the crypto cashback, however, users have to buy at least $1,000 worth of tokens before the end of this month. And there’s another catch, according to The Next Web – Bit 10 is a market tracking index token that can be purchased and sold only through the Abra app. The token tracks the top 10 cryptocurrencies each month, which means its value will only go up in a bull market, but may struggle in the current one.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Gilet Jaune Coin.


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Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate Laws

Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate Laws

In the absence of a comprehensive regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in Russia, lawyers have taken matters into their own hands. A new advisory body of legal experts will look into cases where the current legislation does not reflect the specifics of the growing digital economy and propose solutions.

Also read: CEO of Romanian Exchange Coinflux Arrested on US Warrant

Legal Commission to Solve Problems Stemming From the Lack of Proper Rules

Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate LawsDuring a round table discussion on these issues, the Russian Lawyers Association and an educational organization called Blockchain Lawyers have agreed to establish a specialized commission that will address the legal challenges in the crypto industry. It will also work with companies in other related sectors such as blockchain development, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and the internet of things.

The commission’s main task will be to provide answers to outstanding questions and solve problems arising from the lack of proper crypto regulations, the Russian outlet Bitcrypto News reported. The participants in the round table expressed confidence that the new body will be able to give legal definitions to many new economic and technological phenomena in the digital space.

The members of the commission will help projects and organizations in the industry to overcome specific challenges. Some of them are related to accounting and taxation, for example. The Russian government currently treats cryptocurrencies as “other property.” In the case of ICO tokens, however, the digital coins can also represent property rights. The problem is that the Russian tax code applies different rates to these two categories.

Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate Laws

According to Mikhail Uspenskiy, partner at the law firm Taxology, keeping accounting records competently will be extremely difficult until Russian lawmakers finally adopt new laws to clearly define the legal nature of cryptocurrencies and tokens. However, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, has postponed the adoption of the legislation that was filed this past spring.

Russian Authorities Favor Conservative Approach to Crypto Regulation

Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate LawsAfter introducing a number of changes to the original texts, Russian deputies eventually dropped several key terms such as “cryptocurrency” and “mining” from the main bill, the law “On Digital Financial Assets.” Representatives of the crypto industry protested against its latest version and even proposed their own, alternative bill that grants cryptocurrencies a “special status.”

In a recent statement, Russia’s deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov defended the conservative regulatory approach. Commenting on the recent market slump that decreased the capitalization of most decentralized cryptocurrencies, he also said that authorities in Moscow do not plan to introduce any more significant amendments to the draft legal framework.

During the round table, the legal experts discussed a number of other related topics such as the need to regulate law enforcement in the crypto industry and provide protection for the rights of cryptocurrency holders. The new commission is expected to deal with these issues as well. The body will operate within the Moscow regional branch of the Russian Lawyers Association.

What do you think of the idea to create a legal commission to support the growing Russian crypto industry? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Diar.


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CEO of Romanian Exchange Coinflux Arrested on US Warrant

CEO of Romanian Exchange Coinflux Arrested on US Warrant

Police in Romania have detained the founder and CEO of Coinflux, one of the country’s major cryptocurrency exchanges. Vlad Nistor has been arrested on a warrant issued by U.S. authorities accusing him of a number of crimes, including the defrauding of American citizens. A court in Bucharest is currently reviewing the extradition request.

Also read: Ukrainian Village Distributes Dividends From Crypto Investment

Crypto Entrepreneur Accused of Fraud and Money Laundering

CEO of Romanian Exchange Coinflux Arrested on US Warrant
Vlad Nistor

The 29-year-old businessman was apprehended by Romanian policemen and prosecutors earlier this week at his home and office in the city of Cluj. The arrest was conducted in the presence of four U.S. law enforcement agents, local media reported.

According to the publications, Nistor is now awaiting a decision by the Bucharest Court of Appeal regarding his extradition to the United States. In its request, the U.S. Justice Department has accused him of running a fraud scheme, committing computer fraud, leading an organized crime group and money laundering.

Coinflux is one of the largest digital asset trading platforms in Romania. Nistor, a graduate of Brunel University in the U.K., established the bitcoin exchange in December of 2015. He has been described as a professional with seven years of experience in the financial sector, including pension funds where he managed savings worth millions of euros.

According to local news outlet Ştiri de Cluj, the company’s turnover in 2017 was €3.25 million ($3.68 million). Its website claims that the platform has, so far, exchanged over €201 million worth of cryptocurrencies in more than 203,000 transactions for over 19,000 traders.

CEO of Romanian Exchange Coinflux Arrested on US Warrant

Coinflux offers its users the opportunity to buy and sell major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC) and ripple (XRP). It accepts payments in Romanian leu, euro and supports Sepa transfers. Trading is currently disabled, however. In a blog post, the exchange said its bank accounts have been frozen and explained:

Due to a recently started, unexpected investigation, we are in the unpleasant situation of temporarily stopping any digital currency exchanges … We are doing all possible efforts, along with our legal advisers, to make sure everyone who had money deposited in Coinflux wallets gets it back.

The platform’s team further noted that, due to the investigation, they have been unable to send the announcement through the usual communication channels — via email and by publishing it on the website. “Our expectation is that we will gain back control within the next days,” they added.

Vlad Nistor Released, Expected to Appeal His Extradition

CEO of Romanian Exchange Coinflux Arrested on US WarrantAccording to the latest information on the case, the judges from the Bucharest Court of Appeal disagreed with Nistor’s arrest. Romanian media reported that the entrepreneur was released before the weekend but placed under judicial control for a period of 30 days.

Coinflux’s chief executive is not allowed to leave Cluj and the magistrates have banned him from conducting any financial transactions that involve digital assets. No decision has been taken yet regarding the U.S. extradition request and Nistor has until Dec. 20 to submit an appeal against it.

His case is not the first of this kind in Europe in the past few years. In the summer of 2017, Greek police arrested the suspected operator of the infamous Btc-e exchange, Alexander Vinnik, in Thessaloniki on a warrant from authorities in the U.S. He is accused of laundering billions of dollars through the now-defunct crypto trading platform, including bitcoins stolen in the Mt. Gox hack.

Vinnik is also wanted by his native Russia and France for other crimes. However, a lawsuit against him filed in Cyprus has been dropped, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. The Russian recently announced through his defense team his decision to go on a hunger strike in protest against his treatment by the Greek judiciary.

What do you think of Vlad Nistor’s arrest in Romania? Share your thoughts on his case in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coinflux, and Vlad Nistor (Twitter).


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The Daily: Japan Calls All Coins ‘Crypto Assets’, Russia Defines Cryptocurrency as Property

The Daily: Japan Calls All Coins ‘Crypto Assets’, Russia Confirms Their Property Status

The Financial Services Agency of Japan has resolved to refer to cryptocurrencies as “crypto assets” in order to prevent confusion with legal tender. Also in The Daily, the Justice Ministry in Moscow has confirmed that it classifies digital coins as “other property.” Finally, according to a recent report, stablecoins have seen significant growth over the past few months.

Also read: Crashing Crypto Trader Shares Advice, Bitcoin Bandit Extradited

Japanese Regulator Renames Cryptocurrencies

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has decided to call all cryptocurrencies “crypto assets,” the country’s leading daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The reasoning behind the decision is to help traders avoid confusing digital coins with legal tender recognized by the government in Tokyo. The regulator notes the price of many cryptos fluctuates wildly, there’s no evidence of value and it’s often unclear who is issuing them.

The Daily: Japan Calls All Coins ‘Crypto Assets’, Russia Defines Cryptocurrency as Property

FCA’s advisory panel has produced a report this week in which its members claim the term “virtual currency” could cause misunderstanding, calling for its substitution. According to the document, the regulator’s recommendation is to revise all relevant Japanese laws and regulations. The revision is expected to cover different pieces of legislation such as the Payment and Services Law, which regulates the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.

The panel has also emphasized the need to establish a mechanism aimed at protecting users in events such as a “cash outflow,” as reported by Japan Times, the newspaper’s English language edition. To achieve that, the Financial Services Agency intends to oblige Japanese companies operating with crypto assets to implement strict management systems.

Cryptocurrency Is ‘Other Property’ Russian Ministry Says

The Daily: Japan Calls All Coins ‘Crypto Assets’, Russia Defines Cryptocurrency as PropertyRussia’s Justice Ministry has once again confirmed the property status of digital currencies. According to an official statement, “cryptocurrency can be classified as an object of civil rights and be subject to obligations.” The document has been issued by the ministry in response to a request for a legal interpretation of the term and reaffirms a previously declared stance.

The query has been filed by a group of traders who have been trying to attract the attention of Russian authorities to the case of the now inactive Wex crypto exchange, successor of the infamous BTC-e. They’ve published a copy of the statement in their Wex.nz Initiative Group Telegram channel. Wex users, who have been unable to withdraw their funds from the trading platform for months, have also filed complaints with the Interior Ministry in Moscow calling for an investigation.

The Ministry of Justice further explains that cryptocurrencies cannot be accepted as “electronic money” and notes that the holders of digital coins cannot raise claims against their issuers. Nevertheless, the department states that “cryptocurrency has a property value recognized by its turnover” and falls under the “other property” category as defined by Russian law, an opinion expressed earlier this year by Russia’s justice minister Alexander Konovalov.

To this day, cryptocurrencies remain unregulated in Russia, with several draft laws filed in parliament still under consideration. In its latest version, the main bill, “On Digital Financial Assets,” does not have the term “cryptocurrency” among its legal definitions. Members of the crypto community and industry organizations have called for its inclusion but according to a recent statement by the country’s deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov, authorities do not plan to make any significant amendments to the texts.

Stablecoins See Rapid Growth, Report Claims

StablecoinsThe Daily: Japan Calls All Coins ‘Crypto Assets’, Russia Defines Cryptocurrency as Property have enjoyed growing adoption in recent months, reveals a report published by research company Diar. The transaction volumes of four new stablecoins – USDC, TUSD, GUSD and PAX – have increased by 1,032 percent, the authors claim. In terms of value, the total volume of transactions with the new stablecoins reached $2.3 billion in November, and $5 billion for a three-month period.

According to Diar, the paxos standard token (PAX), the most popular among these currencies, has attracted $93 million of volume. Its transactions volume is twice that of USD coin (USDC), a dollar-pegged crypto developed by San Francisco-headquartered digital asset exchange Coinbase in cooperation with crypto payments startup Circle. At the same time, the indicator has decreased for Trusttoken’s trueusd (TUSD) during the month of December.

The Daily: Japan Calls All Coins ‘Crypto Assets’, Russia Defines Cryptocurrency as Property

Despite the significant drop in its capitalization last month, the most recognizable stablecoin, tether (USDT), is at the time of this writing the fourth largest digital currency by market capitalization.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Diar.


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Bahrain’s Central Bank Issues Draft Crypto Regulations

Bahrain’s Central Bank Issues Draft Crypto Regulations

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has prepared draft rules designed to regulate digital assets and certain aspects of the country’s crypto industry. The move aims to establish Bahrain as a regional leader in the fintech sector and restore its role as a major banking hub in the Persian Gulf.  

Also read: New Bitcoin ATM Tracker Site Launches in Russia

Addressing Market Demand

Bahrain’s Central Bank Issues Draft Crypto RegulationsThe regulations have been released for consultation and the bank has set Dec. 31 as the deadline for providing feedback. The proposals have been published on the bank’s website, local media reported.

The comprehensive rules cover the implementation of a licensing regime for companies operating cryptocurrency trading platforms. A supervisory mechanism for the providers of other services related to crypto assets has been developed as well.

The draft paper addresses the need to introduce measures to safeguard the interests of customers. It also contains technology standards designed to minimize and manage the cyber security risks associated with the nascent industry.

In a statement quoted by the Bahrain News Agency, CBB’s executive director of banking supervision Khalid Hamad explained:

This regulatory framework will address the demand from the market for these services and the need to recognize this financial innovation.

Hamad further commented that the CBB’s experience with the participants in Bahrain’s regulatory sandbox has been “insightful in shaping these rules.” The bank official was referring to Bahrain Fintech Bay, which was established to allow companies from the sector to operate and experiment with new ideas under lighter regulations.

Restoring Regional Leadership

Bahrain’s Central Bank Issues Draft Crypto RegulationsAuthorities in Manama launched the sandbox to boost the development of the fintech industry and increase the number of companies offering related services. At the same time, the initiative was part of efforts to reduce government expenditure through the implementation of new financial technology. In fintech Bahrain sees an opportunity to restore its position as a regional banking and business hub.

Bahrain Fintech Bay, which was set up in February of this year, has become home to around 30 companies working with cryptocurrencies, digital payments, blockchain and financial technologies. Other players in the Persian Gulf, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are also investing heavily to support the growth of fintech startups.

But while Bahrain’s CBB is working to adopt regulations for decentralized, private cryptocurrencies, the central bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority have announced plans to issue a government-controlled digital currency. The new “blockchain-backed” coin will be used to improve the efficiency of cross-border transactions between the two neighboring countries.

What do you think of Bahrain’s decision to regulate the crypto industry? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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New Bitcoin ATM Tracker Site Launches in Russia

New Bitcoin ATM Tracker Site Launches in Russia

A new website showing a map of cryptocurrency teller machines and other points of sale has been launched in Russia. The platform currently provides information about bitcoin ATM locations in the city of Moscow but its developers plan to expand its coverage globally.

Also read: French Lawmakers Propose Lower Electricity Rates for Cryptocurrency Miners

Cryptocoinmap Has Some Useful Features

Cryptocoinmap.ru is quite similar in design to the popular bitcoin ATM tracker website Coinatmradar. At this early stage, there’s still a lot of room for improvement but the platform already has some unique features. It has been created by two Russian companies, Nanobit and Sova.rf, which have already expressed their intentions to continue to develop it.

At present, Cryptocoinmap shows several locations in the Russian capital where crypto enthusiasts are able to trade fiat with digital money. Six of them are bitcoin ATMs, where residents and visitors of Moscow can buy cryptocurrencies, and one is an exchange which sells and buys virtual coins. The website provides information about their addresses, phone numbers and business hours as well as images of the surroundings.

New Bitcoin ATM Tracker Site Launches in Russia

All points of sale support major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin core (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), and dash. The exchange rates are displayed in a number of fiat currencies including the Russian ruble, U.S. dollar, British pound, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, Indian Rupee, and Kazakhstani tenge. Bitfinex is the crypto exchange used for reference.

The service allows users to filter the suggestions by business hours, available services and supported cryptocurrencies. The platform is based on Yandex Maps, the Russian alternative to Google Maps, and it offers some useful features, including directions to the BATMs and real-time traffic updates.

Cryptocoinmap lists all supported coins with their current prices in fiat sourced from major global and local digital asset exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Bittrex, Poloniex, Cex, Exmo, Livecoin, and Yobit. The numbers are accompanied by graphs showing the daily, weekly and yearly price movements.

Developers Plan for Global Coverage

New Bitcoin ATM Tracker Site Launches in RussiaRepresentatives of the companies behind the project recently told Forklog they will only add new ATMs and change bureaus that are operated within the framework of the law. Businesses applying to be listed on Cryptocoinmap must provide proof they do not owe any taxes to the government and present documents demonstrating their financial viability.

Right now, the website displays only seven locations in the Russian capital, but Nanobit and Sova.rf want to expand the coverage to include over 100 regions around the world. The companies have promised to add 200 new locations by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Coinatmradar, which is the leading BATM tracker site, provides information about over 4,000 cryptocurrency ATMs globally. These are operated by 520 companies in 74 countries. According to its data, there are currently at least 11 bitcoin ATMs in and around the Russian capital, as well as dozens of devices in other regions throughout the vast country that spans 11 timezones.

Have you used a cryptocurrency teller machine? Tell us in the comments section below and share your thoughts on the subject.  


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Cryptocoinmap.


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French Lawmakers Propose Lower Electricity Rates for Cryptocurrency Miners

French Lawmakers Propose Lower Electricity Rates for Cryptocurrency Miners

Two French legislators have made a number of proposals aimed at turning France into a leading force in the development of the industry built around cryptocurrencies. One of the ideas is to allow crypto mining companies to take advantage of preferential electricity prices.

Also read: Ukrainian Village Distributes Dividends From Crypto Investment

‘France Must Have Its Own Mining Farms’

French Lawmakers Propose Lower Electricity Rates for Cryptocurrency MinersAs part of a parliamentary mission to explore the implementation of crypto and blockchain technologies in France’s economy, two pro-crypto deputies, Jean-Michel Mis and Laure de La Raudière, have put forward a proposal to recognize mining as an “electro-intensive activity.” That status would allow cryptocurrency miners to pay for the electricity needed for their facilities at preferential rates.

According to Jean-Michel Mis, France should offer mining companies good conditions to operate in the country, French news outlet Cryptonaute reported. He believes that cryptocurrency miners should be well distributed around the world as the concentration of mining power benefits mostly big players in China and the U.S. “We must have our own mining farms here in France,” the French legislator stated, as quoted by Les Échos financial daily.

France relies heavily on cost-efficient nuclear power to satisfy its energy needs. Almost 60 nuclear reactors account for over 70 percent of the total electricity production in the country. According to data compiled by Statista, the electricity rates in France averaged $0.19 per kilowatt hour in 2018, which is cheaper than in many other European nations. In comparison, this year’s prices in Germany have been around $0.33 per kWh.

€500 Million to Build Blockchain Industry

During a presentation of their report this week, the two lawmakers warned that France “shouldn’t miss the blockchain train.” They urged the French government to allocate €500 million ($568 million) to support the development of the industry until 2022. Their idea is to relocate some of the funds managed by the French Public Investment Bank, Bpifrance, and the country’s National Agency for Research, ANR.

“We would like France to get ahead this time,” said Laure de La Raudière, who believes authorities in Paris should develop a state strategy for the whole sector. The two members of the French parliament, whose report contains a total of 20 proposals, also revealed that they have recommended the “testing of a digital currency” issued by either the European Central Bank or the Bank of France.

French Lawmakers Propose Lower Electricity Rates for Cryptocurrency Miners

According to Jean-Michel Mis, 2019 will be the year of blockchain. “This ten-year-old technology is moving out of the experimental stage into industrial implementation. The general public will see the emergence of uses that affect their daily lives,” he said, as quoted by French business weekly La Tribune.

In the past months, France has gradually changed its attitude towards the crypto economy in a positive direction. In September, French lawmakers passed a law setting out guidelines for initial coin offerings (ICOs). A recent report by the country’s financial markets regulator, Autorité des marchés financiers, estimates that the global ICO industry has raised almost $22 billion since 2014. Last month, the finance commission of the National Assembly supported an amendment to the 2019 budget that will cut the capital gains tax on sales of cryptocurrencies from 36.2 to 30 percent.

What do you think of France’s new policies toward the crypto industry? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Jean-Michel Mis (Twitter).


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Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are Women

A new study confirms the crypto industry has a lot of progress to make to bridge the gender gap. It shows that startups conducting ICOs are still markedly male-dominated – over 85 percent of the team members in the surveyed companies are men. The data also suggests women are even less likely to hold executive and advisory positions.

Also read: New Platforms Track Major Stablecoin Markets

Four out of Five Startups Don’t Have a Female Executive

The research conducted by Longhash covers 100 upcoming initial coin offering (ICO) projects listed by ICO Rating, a website that tracks new token sales. The crypto analysis platform has collected data about the overall gender balance of each team, the number of female executives, including founders, as well as the share of women among their advisors.

Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are Women

According to the report, 14.5 percent of the team members are female, with only 7 percent of the executive roles occupied by women. Their number among advisors is just a touch higher – 8 percent. Furthermore, almost four out of five startups (78 percent) don’t have a single female C-level executive and 75 percent don’t have female advisors.

The survey is based on information published on the projects’ websites. The companies have listed a total of 1,062 team members, including 326 founders and senior executives, and 473 advisors. Another key finding is that well over a third of the companies, or 37 percent, have no female employees at all. The authors believe these are telling numbers and also warn they might even be overly optimistic:

In the case of advisors, if you discount two outlying startups that had large advisory boards with more than 25 percent women, the overall percentage of women in advisory roles drops to under 6 percent. And in the case of executives, there was only one startup out of the entire 100 we looked at that had more than one woman in an executive role.

ICOs With Female Advisors Less Likely to Be Managed by a Woman

Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are WomenResearchers at Longhash have also found some interesting correlations. It turns out, for example, that crypto companies with a woman on their advisory board are “slightly less likely” to have a female member of their executive team.

On the other hand, startups that have at least one woman in an executive role appear to be more likely to have a female advisor too. Longhash warns, however, that in both cases the differences as well as the samples are relatively small to draw reliable conclusions.

The authors of the report also note that the tech industry in general remains largely male-dominated. They point to other studies in the field indicating less pronounced but nevertheless evident imbalance. For instance, a study published by Statista on March 8, the International Women’s Day, shows that women made up between 26 and 43 percent of the employed in eight leading tech companies last year. And in 2015, they held 25 percent of the executive roles. Also, according to another study released by software platform Carta in September of this year, less than a third of the employees at small tech startups are women.

Study Finds Less Than 15% of Team Members in ICO Startups Are Women

Some representatives of the crypto industry have tried to address the issue. Following accusations that its leadership had become an “old boys’ club,” Switzerland’s Crypto Valley Association recently elected two female members to its board. According to a recent report, the upcoming major reshuffle of its management team will not affect their roles.

What is your opinion about the gender imbalance in crypto startups? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Longhash.


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New Platforms Track Major Stablecoin Markets

New Platforms Track Major Stablecoin Markets

The birth of more stablecoins, which has coincided with significant market losses for traditional cryptocurrencies, has drawn attention to these fiat-pegged digital assets. Dedicated platforms are now aggregating statistical data about stablecoin markets for the benefit of traders.

Also read: Chat Bot Advises Crypto Startups and Investors

The Stablecoin War Is Heating Up

The last couple of months has seen the arrival of new coins poised to challenge the dominance of the leading stablecoin tether (USDT). Two new “regulated” cryptocurrencies, also pegged to the U.S. dollar, were announced after receiving approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services in September. The Gemini dollar (GUSD) and paxos standard (PAX) are both backed one-to-one with fiat currency.

Another notable token in the same category is USD coin (USDC), but coins pegged to different fiat currencies or other traditional assets, such as precious metals, have also been announced. Exchanges and other trading platforms have already listed many of these stablecoins, granting them recognition in a bearish market for the majority of the free-floating cryptocurrencies. A crypto loans service has recently begun offering interest payments on stablecoin holdings.

New Platforms Track Major Stablecoin Markets

Competition among stablecoins has given rise to dedicated tracking services. A new website, Stablecoinswar.com, provides data about their price, market capitalization, daily trading volume, and share of total volume. It also has a “velocity of money” indicator that reflects the rate at which each coin is exchanged – in other words, the speed of circulation. The platform currently lists eight stablecoins: tether, paxos, trueusd (TUSD), USD coin (USDC), dai, gemini dollar (GUSD), susd, and bitusd.

According to Stablecoinswar, all but one of these assets is currently trading at a cent or two above the $1 dollar mark, at the time of this writing. The only exception is bitusd which is currently trading at $0.71. Tether remains the stablecoin with the largest market cap, at almost $1.88 billion. That’s over 72 percent of the total stablecoin capitalization, which sits at around $2.6 billion. Trueusd is second with 8.15 percent of the market cap, followed by USD coin. Paxos, with almost 33 percent, is the second-fastest stablecoin after tether (with over 166 percent) for velocity of circulation.

Stablecoin Index

Stablecoinswar constantly updates its market data but doesn’t offer much more than the basic indicators. Stablecoin Index is another platform that tracks and compares the leading stablecoins. The open-source tool displays cryptocurrencies that are already traded, ranked by market capitalization and presented with their current prices and trading volumes. It also separately lists other stablecoin projects that are still under development.

New Platforms Track Major Stablecoin Markets

The Stablecoin Index website provides market data for eight “live” stablecoins – USDT, TUSD, PAX, USDC, DAI, BITUSD, NUSD, and GUSD. The statistical information quoted there is understandably pretty similar to the numbers posted by Stablecoinswar, although it’s more detailed. The one coin that is different from Stablecoinswar’s list, NUSD, actually doesn’t look very “live”, with $0 capitalization and volume. According to its website, the total supply of NUSD is currently valued at $1,516,106 and its price is exactly $1.

Stablecoin Index also has a graph on its frontage that shows the price movements of stablecoins since Feb. 1, 2018. The most volatile of the bunch – the only volatile stablecoin if the standards of the regular cryptocurrency markets are applied – has been bitusd. The crypto reached its high of $1.19 in the beginning of the examined period and is currently trading at its lowest price this year, $0.72.

What do you think about platforms that track stablecoins? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Stablecoins War, Stablecoin Index.


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