Ethereum’s Constantinople, St. Petersburg Upgrades Have Been Activated

The Ethereum mainnet’s latest update, Constantinople and St. Petersburg, went live at block 7,280,000.

The Constantinople and St. Petersburg network upgrades for the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum’s (ETH), occurred today Feb. 28, according to ethstats.net.

Specifically, the updates went live on the main network at block 7,280,000, in accordance with previously released schedule. Although the upgrade has two names of two originally separated updates, they have subsequently been combined into one.

Per Ethernodes.org, not all Ethereum users have adopted the updates. Only 22.3 percent of Geth and Parity clients are reportedly already running the Constantinople-compliant version.

Constantinople is set to bring multiple efficiency improvements to the platform, including cheaper transaction fees for some operations on the Ethereum network. As previously reported, the Constantinople hard fork was delayed in January due to a newly discovered vulnerability.

The St. Petersburg upgrade is meant to delete a previous update, Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1283, from Ethereum’s test networks, since that EIP had been identified to have security vulnerabilities.

In January, major United States cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Kraken became the latest to confirm support for Ethereum’s upgrade. The two exchanges join Binance, Huobi and OKEx, who had started to monitor the event before its first implementation attempt.

At press time, ETH is up 2.59 percent over the day and is trading at around $137.19. The altcoin started the day around $132, according to CoinMarketCap.

Spot the Difference: Bitcoin Bulls Versus Bitcoin Bears

For pretty much its entire ten-year history, Bitcoin has divided opinion. Some have nobly championed the cause of censorship resistant, decentralised money through immense market volatility, whilst others have slung as much dirt as humanely possible at the world’s most established digital asset.

It is interesting to notice a distinct division between those who support Bitcoin use and adoption, and those who deem the fintech innovation overdue for the rubbish heap. Most of the latter represent the existing financial structure in some capacity with the likes of Jamie Dimon, Nouriel Roubini, and Joseph Stiglitz falling amongst the ranks of the naysayers. Meanwhile, crypto’s biggest proponents are all deeply versed in cutting-edge technology – well, colour me surprised…

Those Who Understand Bitcoin Support it…

Founder and CEO of the Digital Currency Group, Barry Silbert, highlighted to divide between the Bitcoin bulls and bears in a Tweet earlier today. The crypto investment entrepreneur posted a simple list of those advocating for a crypto-centric future and those favouring the financial status quo:

As you can see, the Bitcoin Bulls list is almost a “who’s who” of leading tech figures.

First up is Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey has shown his interest in cryptocurrency many times previously. He was involved in the ongoing “Lightning Torch” passing awareness raising-exhibition and Tweeted support for the Tippin browser extension bringing Lightning Network tipping to Twitter. The CEO has also given financial support to one of the leading firms exploring the capabilities of the Bitcoin second-layer micropayment scaling solution.

Dorsey has stated on multiple occasions that he believes that the internet will one day have its own native currency and that he hopes it will be Bitcoin.

Following Dorsey in the Bitcoin bull camp is Elon Musk. Musk is of course the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. Although not nearly as active as Dorsey in the promotion of Bitcoin and other cryptos, he recently stated that it was a “quite brilliant” innovation and that other cryptocurrencies were interesting too. He highlighted the utility of Bitcoin as an escape from economies embroiled in financial and political turmoil. He added that crypto was a “far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper.”

Next up for the bears is Steve Wozniak. The Apple co-founder has only dabbled in cryptocurrency and states that he was even the unfortunate victim of a scam a couple of years ago, which cost him some coins. However, that has not dampened his optimism for Bitcoin. He recently stated that the bear market of 2018 should not have been looked at negatively, despite the plunge in crypto prices, and that the development that occurred had actually created value in the space.

Woz, as he is affectionately known, has also stated that only Bitcoin can be considered a “pure digital gold” and that he tended to agree with Dorsey in his belief that Bitcoin would eventually become the currency of the internet.

Rounding off Silbert’s list of bulls is Wall Street investor, Bill Miller; venture tech investor, Peter Thiel; and Fidelity Investments CEO, Abigail Johnson.

Turkeys Still Not In Favour of Christmas…

Sitting opposite these open-minded tech entrepreneurs and investors is a group of vocal naysayers, largely drawn from the world of legacy finance. This stands to reason since Bitcoin has the potential to completely redesign the way humans even think about money. Of course, as the old saying goes, the dogs with the loudest barks are often the most afraid…

It should be no surprise to see Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffet top the list of Bitcoin bears. The JP Morgan CEO and Berkshire Hathaway billionaire have made no secret of their distaste for Bitcoin. Rarely giving concrete arguments for their animosity, the pair have levied the following insults at Bitcoin previously: “a fraud”, “rat poison squared”, and “a delusion”. Dimon even went as far as to publicly state that he would fire any employee caught trading the digital asset.

Another of Bitcoin’s famous naysayers is former Federal Reserve Chair, Ben Bernanke. Bernanke, like many others, has stated in late 2017 that Bitcoin will fail but that blockchain is interesting. Bernanke sees Bitcoin as nothing more than an attempt to evade existing regulations and that eventually government will come down hard on it if it gets too big.

No list of Bitcoin shade casters would be complete without mention of New York University lecturer Nouriel Roubini. Roubini is another of Bitcoin’s toughest critics and has repeatedly slammed the innovation. Perhaps his most famous attack on the digital currency space was to call it a “stinking cesspool” that actually provides negative value based on the amount of resources it consumes.

Also making up Silbert’s list of Bitcoin bears is BlackRock CEO, Larry Fink, and Keynesian economist and public policy analyst Joseph Stiglitz.

 

Evidently, there is a gulf growing between those bankers and economists that have spent their life supporting existing financial systems, and those tech visionaries who dream of a more efficient and fair tomorrow. So, as Barry Silbert asked in his Tweet today, which side are you on?

 

Related Reading: Bitcoin Bulls Ready to Run, Why Crypto is About to Take Off Again

Featured Image from Shutterstock.

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Crypto Exchange Coinbase Adds Support for XRP on Retail Platform and Mobile Apps

U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase has extended support for XRP to Coinbase.com and its Android and iOS apps.

United States major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has added support for Ripple (XRP) to its retail platform and mobile apps. The exchange announced the development in a blog post on Feb. 28.

The announcement states that Coinbase’s users can now purchase, sell, convert, send, receive, and store XRP both on Coinbase.com and the Coinbase Android and iOS apps.

As usual, the service will reportedly be available for most jurisdictions, however it will not initially be available for residents of the United Kingdom and the U.S. state of New York.

On Feb. 25, Coinbase announced support for XRP on its Coinbase Pro platform. In the announcement, Coinbase stated that full trading of XRP will be available to customers in the U.S., Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia, while also planning to expand its services to other countries at a later date.

Following the news, blockchain research firm Diar released a report stating that XRP is violating one of Coinbase's listing rules. Per the report, in its “Digital Asset Framework,” Coinbase states that "the ownership stake retained by the team is a minority stake," while  Ripple purportedly holds around 60 percent of the supply in escrow with a release schedule.

XRP has not yet reacted the news, up by just 0.4 percent on the day and trading at around $$0.313 at press time, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The altcoin has seen a major dip today before recovering, having dropped to as low as $0.309 earlier today.

New Freelancing Platform Supports 12 Different Cryptocurrencies

A New Service Aimed at Freelancers Supports 12 Different Cryptocurrencies

There’s a new freelancing platform called Freelance for Coins that provides users with the ability to publish offers and bids for cryptocurrencies. In order to help facilitate deals between users, the service not only allows people to publish their bids and offers, but also provides them with a messenger for chatting. It also enables crypto invoices for coins like BTC, BCH, ETH, XMR, and a few stablecoins.

Also read: Crypto Exchange Circle Partners With Financial Surveillance Provider Nice Actimize

Freelance for Coins Offers a Free Service for Professionals Interested in Crypto Payments

Cryptocurrencies are a great way for freelancers to get paid online because people can get paid immediately, there are no chargebacks, and the funds can be sent in a permissionless manner. A new service called Freelance for Coins aims to promote the use of digital assets and freelance work by enabling users to place offers and bids for freelance services. The platform has been operating for about a week now.

New Freelancing Platform Supports 12 Different Cryptocurrencies
Posting a project on Freelance for Coins.

“I am proud to introduce you to our new project,” explained the founder of Freelance for Coins during the launch. “All freelance work for cryptocurrencies — Currently there are no platform fees — Guaranteed payment for freelancers.”

The founder added:

Freelance for Coins aims to help solve problems skilled workers face in order to create a more efficient global job market, reducing the friction experienced in the present-day freelancing process.

New Freelancing Platform Supports 12 Different Cryptocurrencies
Offer list has services like writing, website creation, social media marketing, web scraping services, and translations.

Invoices for 12 Cryptocurrencies

Signing up for the service is intuitive and only requires an email address and password. At the moment there are a bunch of offers from freelancers on the main feed offering services for things like Python development, writing, website creation, social media marketing, web scraping services, and translations. Offers show a description of the service offered and a starting price. Below the description, there is a “buy this offer” button which leads to a message area where users can conduct a deal in a peer-to-peer fashion. After the two parties reach an agreed price, an invoice can be created in the message center for cryptocurrencies BTC, TUSD, ETH, BCH, EOS, LTC, USDC, USDT, XLM, TRX, DASH, and XMR.

New Freelancing Platform Supports 12 Different Cryptocurrencies
Freelance for Coins messaging.

Freelance for Coins also has a roadmap, and during its first week, the developer integrated the following features: the ability to publish and edit projects, bidding for projects, bidding for offers, chat services for offers and bids, and crypto invoices. The project’s founder also plans to add a rating and review system, anonymous feedback, social profile integration (Linkedin, Github, Reddit, etc.), and automatic detection of transactions.

New Freelancing Platform Supports 12 Different Cryptocurrencies
Freelance for Coins provides invoicing for 12 cryptocurrencies.

Despite the Bear Market, Freelancers Are Offering Services for Crypto

“We believe that every freelancer in the future will have had at least one project done for crypto and every year cryptocurrency adoption grows with no stopping in sight,” explains a Freelance for Coins blog post. “We plan to take it slowly and attract users and earn their trust over time, adding new features and making this site more and more usable every day.”

For now, the service is free but the Freelance for Coins roadmap says that it may add an escrow service for 1-2% commission but the startup recommends using pre-payment and milestone payments for now. This week the platform’s developer also added categories for offers so people can filter for kinds of services they are looking for. The founder of the freelance application updated the community on Feb. 27 and the service has managed to capture a slew of freelancers.

“Despite the bear market in crypto, many people are very willing to offer their services for crypto,” the founder detailed.

What do you think about the Freelance for Coins platform? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned companies or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com and the author are not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Neither Bitcoin.com nor the author is responsible for any losses, mistakes, skipped steps or security measures not taken, as the ultimate decision-making process to do any of these things is solely the reader’s responsibility. This editorial is for informational purposes only.


Image credits: Shutterstock, Freelance for Coins, and Jamie Redman.


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Japan shows spike in crypto-associated money laundering from 2018

Although 2018 was home to an influx of regulatory action, it also saw an increase in crypto-related suspicious activities. Japan reportedly saw a major influx in crypto associated money laundering in 2018.

Increased nefarious totals

Last year, the National Police Agency (NPA) received more than 7,000 reported instances of suspected money laundering affiliated with cryptocurrencies, as reported by the Japan Times in a February 28th 2019 article.

April through December of 2017 only saw 669 of such reported events, the outlet said: “when it became mandatory for cryptocurrency exchange operators to report transactions suspected to be linked to the movement of illegally obtained cash.”

In total, the media outlet presented 7,096 fishy events which included instances of IDs with multiple names associated, as well as users accessing their accounts from countries other than their posted Japanese addresses.

As a whole, 2018 saw a 17,422 increase in overall reported claims of alleged money laundering (and other negative) activities, the Japan Times explained. A total of 417,465 events caught the attention of Japanese police last year. The brunt of such events related to financial institutions, equating to 346,014 of the stated cases.

The Japan Times added, “after analyzing the reports, the NPA provided information on 8,259 cases to investigating authorities, up 1,096 from a year earlier. As a result, police handled 1,124 cases, mainly involving fraud.”

In response to the increased totals, the agency looks to up its game in the technology department, preparing and utilizing experts and artificial intelligence (AI) to better (and more efficiently) identify suspicious activities.

Not as anonymous as publicly thought

Contrary to popular sentiment, bitcoin, and other crypto asset usage, is not necessarily anonymous or private. Bitcoin transactions, for example, are all recorded on a public ledger. Each transaction is traceable. Therefore, criminals seeking refuge behind bitcoin might see their identities traced back to them. This is unlike most cash usage, which is more anonymous and less traceable.

A 2016 article from Sciencemag.org explained:

The past and present ownership of every Bitcoin—in fact every 10-millionth of a Bitcoin—is dutifully recorded in the “blockchain,” an ever-growing public ledger shared across the Internet. What remains hidden are the true identities of the Bitcoin owners: Instead of submitting their names, users create a code that serves as their digital signature in the blockchain.”

Although the stated bitcoin holders’ identities are hidden on a surface level, it doesn’t necessarily mean later transactions won’t reveal those identities, especially if traced to a fiat currency gateway with know-your-customer (KYC) laws.

Sciencemag continued, “Even in the strange new world of Bitcoin, FBI Assistant General Counsel Brett Nigh said in September 2015, ‘investigators can follow the money.’”

 

 

 

 

 

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XRP Added to Coinbase Consumer Exchange, XRP Price Remains Flat

Less than a week after the announcement of full trading support for XRP on the Coinbase Pro division of the San Francisco-based brokerage and exchange platform, the same functionality is coming to the consumer-facing wing of the firm. In addition, full support will be made available on both the Android and iOS Coinbase applications.

Unlike following the previous announcement, the XRP price has remained consistent. The news that the digital asset was being launched on Coinbase Pro was greeted with a short-term price dump, followed by a quick retrace back down.

XRP Buying and Selling Comes to the Average Coinbase User

As reported in a recent blog post, the XRP digital asset will be fully supported at the well-known brokerage and exchange platform from today. Many in the digital currency community have been calling for the trading venue giant to add XRP for some time now. They finally got their way with full support already going live at the popular trading venue earlier today.

The blog post states that users of Coinbase.com (the main consumer-facing department of the exchange), as well as its Android and iOS applications can now “buy sell convert, send, receive, or store XRP”. However, not all users will benefit from the expanded offerings immediately. Those customers accessing Coinbase from either the UK or the state of New York will have to wait until a currently undisclosed date to take advantage of the new listing.

As part of the blog post detailing the launch of XRP support, Coinbase state that it expects greater numbers of new digital assets will be coming to the platform in the future. This has been made possible with the updated listing process it launched last September. The stated goal with regards listing new assets, according to Coinbase itself, is:

“Our goal is to rapidly list all assets that meet our standards and are compliant with local law, while providing our customers with the tools to discover, evaluate, trade, and use digital assets.”

Coinbase also state that it is providing information about all the assets it lists to help bring new users up-to-speed with the differences in the technologies. The Coinbase Learn platform covers a wide range of topics, from introductions to Bitcoin itself, to securing assets, and taking up position in various cryptos.

XRP Price Unmoved by Seemingly Positive News

Unlike the previous announcement of XRP support coming to Coinbase Pro, today’s news has been barely reflected in the market. The price of XRP had surged by over 10 percent following Tuesday’s news but sharply fell the next day.

By contrast, today’s announcement has not been greeted with either an increase in buying or selling pressure and XRP is currently trading almost exactly where it was 24 hours ago. This is likely due to the fact that support at Coinbase.com was strongly hinted in the earlier announcement. However, it has been launched much quicker than many were expecting.

 

Related Reading: Why Did Major Crypto Exchange Coinbase Suddenly Add XRP?

Featured Image from Shutterstock.

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Swiss Crypto Bank Warns Customers About Company Masquerading as Partner

Switzerland-based online crypto bank Dukascopy has warned clients about a “clone” company GCG Asia claiming to be affiliated with the bank.

Switzerland-based cryptocurrency bank Dukascopy has warned customers that forex trading company GCG Asia is fraudulently claiming to be the bank’s authorized firm in an announcement published on Feb. 27.

In the announcement, Dukascopy Bank —  purportedly the first regulated bank to launch its own initial coin offering (ICO) — cautions  that neither it nor any entities of Dukascopy Group have relations with GCG Asia, although the latter fraudulently claims the opposite. The warning reads:

“GCG Asia is fraudulently using Dukascopy's name and logo for attracting clients/investors, without Dukascopy Bank's permission. We are taking actions against this dishonest organisation.”

In January, European cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp partnered with Dukascopy Bank, wherein Bitstamp will support Bitcoin (BTC) transactions on behalf of Dukascopy. Customers will be able to send BTC to their accounts, convert them to U.S. dollars and trade on the Swiss FX Marketplace.

Previously, Cointelegraph reported about numerous cases of so called clone firms that carry out commercial activities while claiming to be or to be associated with well known firms. Last August, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warned investors about a “clone” company of investment firm Fair Oaks Capital Ltd. The fraudulent company, Fair Oaks Crypto — using registration data of firms authorized by the regulator — aimed to hoodwink potential scam victims by claiming that they represent Fair Oaks Capital.

That same month, the FCA issued another warning over crypto-related “fraudsters” claiming to be an FCA authorized firm. The rogue firm, Good Crypto, was purportedly giving out “false details or mix[ing] these with some correct details of the registered firm,” which in that case was London-based Arup Corporate Finance.

Ethereum Upgrades as Hard Forks Activate on Blockchain

Two long-anticipated upgrades appear to have officially activated on the ethereum blockchain, the world’s second-largest by market value, without incident. At 19:57 (UTC), the sixth and seventh system-wide upgrades to the software, dubbed Constantinople and St. Petersburg, respectively, rolled out on the main network at block number 7,280,000. As seen on blockchain monitoring website Fork Monitor, there is […]

Hong Kong Entrepreneur Who ‘Made It Rain’ from High-Rise Arrested for Crypto Mining Fraud

A purported Bitcoin millionaire, allegedly involved in a publicity stunt throwing money from a high-rise in Hong Kong, is now accused of mining-related fraud.

A purported Bitcoin millionaire (BTC) who was previously involved in “making it rain cash” on the streets of Hong Kong, has reportedly been arrested for mining-related fraud, the South China Morning Post reports Thursday, Feb. 28.

A 25-year old businessman named Wong Ching-kit and his 20-year-old colleague have purportedly been arrested by Commercial Crime Bureau officers at their office in Hong Kong. They are reportedly being held in custody for conspiracy to defraud investors by selling them cryptocurrency mining machines. Details on how or why these miner-related sales were considered fraudulent were not forthcoming.

As Cointelegraph reported in early January, Wong was accused of misleading numerous investors into purchasing mining hardware for a crypto token dubbed “Filecoin,” allegedly promising his clients profits on their investments within three months.

However, according to the investors, the coin was not tradeable. As SMCP then reported, the Democratic Party, which was helping those affected by the alleged fraud, said it received more than 20 complaints since October 2018. The total amount of their losses was around HK$3 million ($383,000). Some investors were demanding a full refund on their funds.

Following numerous complaints, the police promised to start a probe into Wong’s activities, which included suspected money laundering. However, the entrepreneur himself denied the accusations, claiming that he was being treated as if he killed people instead of selling mining machines.

Wong was purportedly part of a publicity stunt in Hong Kong’s relatively poor district Sham Shui Po in December 2018. The entrepreneur appeared in a video posted on his firm Epoch’s Facebook page, asking whether anyone believed that money could fall from the sky. Stacks of bank notes reportedly amounting to HK$6,000 ($764) subsequently were thrown from a nearby rooftop.

Following an incident, Wong was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct in public. However, later he was released on bail.

Counter Argument: A Caracas-Based Journalist Says Bitcoin is Not Saving Venezuela

While Venezuela’s economy continues to suffer under the haphazard mismanagement by Nicolás Maduro, it has caused the country’s citizens to rely on Bitcoin as a currency, store of value, and its use to transfer funds across borders.

Bitcoin has been at the center of many discussions claiming that the entire country is turning to the leading crypto by market cap, with one recent op-ed in the New York Times offering up a story how it saved one struggling Venezuelan citizen’s family. However, a new counter-argument is suggesting that Bitcoin’s usage and dominance in the economically strapped country is extremely overstated, and is instead is being used to fuel cryptocurrency-promoting campaigns.

Argument: Bitcoin Is Saving Families During the Venezuela Economic Crisis

A recent opinion piece published by the New York Times entitled “Bitcoin Has Saved My Family,” has the crypto world buzzing. Bitcoin’s deflationary design, its existence outside the control of governments and financial institutions, and its use as a store of value and transactional currency make the first ever cryptocurrency especially valuable for nations in economic turmoil or those without meaningful banking infrastructure.

The article’s author told a tale of how due to the rapidly declining value of the bolivar – Venezuela’s fiat currency – he buys Bitcoin from LocalBitcoins and uses it to send money to family members, or cashes it out to the bolivar when its time to actually spend money on essentials such as groceries, or in the article’s example, a carton of milk.

Related Reading | Bitcoin Is A Hedge Against Bolivar-Induced Financial Suicide, Claims Venezuelan Economist

Many may wonder why someone would prefer to keep their spending money in Bitcoin when the price of the cryptocurrency has declined over 84% since it’s all-time high price of $20,000, however, bolivar’s annual inflation rate in 2018 was nearly 1.7 million percent. To avoid the value of the author’s funds from falling too much, he finds Bitcoin to be a safer method that better preserves its value.

Counter-Argument: Venezuela’s Reliance on Bitcoin Is Far Overstated

Recently, a counter-argument was made against the New York Times piece, penned by a journalist from Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. The author details how, despite conflicting reports and dominant majority trading volume on LocalBitcoins originating from Venezuela, the country is “not becoming a Bitcoin nation.”

The author himself previously published an article about “how Bitcoin is a lifeline for some Venezuelans,” he doesn’t want to “overstate the popularity of bitcoin in Venezuela.”

“And please don’t use our crisis to attract attention to your crypto campaign,” the author pleads.

The author claims that although the nation has its own native cryptocurrency in the oil-backed Petro, and many are indeed turning to Bitcoin, the country’s citizens are still generally confused by crypto, and don’t yet trust the asset class as a medium of exchange. Others outright think it’s a scam, or lack the technological infrastructure to even access cryptocurrency.

Related Reading | Strong Fundamentals: Bitcoin Daily Transactions Return to Bull Run Levels

“Venezuela’s Internet continues to deteriorate, as the government manages most of country’s telecommunications concessions. Once you get far from the big cities it is even harder to get an good Internet connection. Smartphones, which tend to be priced in dollars, are even more expensive for Venezuelans now,” the author reveals.

In conclusion, the author believes that Bitcoin being a savior for the country has been overblown by the cryptocurrency community, and that Venezuelans would rather fight harder to earn income in their native fiat currency, and find other workarounds to deal with the government’s tightening grip that don’t include cryptocurrency.

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After a Brief Decline, Crypto Market Cap Is Stable Around $130 Billion, Stocks Are Down

Crypto markets capitalization has been hovering around $130 billion after a major sell off on Feb. 24.

Thursday, Feb. 28 — crypto markets continued trading sideways, while the total market capitalization has remained stable around $130 billion after a major sell off on Feb. 24, according to CoinMarketCap.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is trading around $3,865, up around 0.3 percent over the past 24 hours at press time. With that, the biggest crypto has seen some volatility on the day, with its intraday low of $3,787, and the high of $3,906. After the Sunday sell off, Bitcoin is down 2.15 percent over the past seven days.

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The top altcoin Ethereum (ETH) is up less than 0.1 percent, and is trading at $137.23 at press time. The second crypto by market cap is down about 6 percent over the past seven days. Earlier today, Ethereum dropped to as low as $131.6.

Meanwhile, major upgrades of Ethereum blockchain are set to take place soon today, with both Constantinople and St. Petersburg updates scheduled to happen at Ethereum’s block 7,280,000. According to Ethereum block explorer Etherscan the Constantinople upgrade will be activated in less than one hour from press time.

Ethereum 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP), the third top cryptocurrency by market cap, is down about 0.2 percent over the day, and is trading at $0.314 at press time. Similarly to the overall trend on the market, Ripple has seen a major dip today before recovering, having dropped to as low as $0.309 earlier today. Over the past 7 days, XRP is down about two percent.

Ripple 24-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple 24-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Some of the top 20 coins are seeing more volatility on the day. Binance Coin (BNB), the tenth largest coin by market cap, is up 4.17 percent, and is trading at $10.36. In contrast, Bitcoin SV (BSV) the Craig Wright-supported hard fork of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), is down around 3.3 percent, but is still up three percent over the past seven days.

Total market cap amounts to $130 billion at press time, while daily trading volume has slightly rose to $29 billion from around $26 billion yesterday.

Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that Singapore’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC) was one of the investors that helped to raise $300 million for major United States crypto wallet provider and exchange service Coinbase in 2018.

Also today, the New York Times (NYT) posted an article alleging that social media giant Facebook is planning a highly secretive crypto initiative that intends to integrate its three fully-owned applications including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, and create a token with exposure to its totally combined 2.7 billion monthly users.

The United States stock market tumbled today amidst talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as CNBC reported. At press time, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is down 36 points, while S&P 500 dropped around 0.1 percent at press time. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.04 percent as of press time.

Oil prices have followed the downtrend of stocks, after U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations ended with no deal, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, at press time, oil prices are seeing some growth, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil and OPEC basket having rose around 0.3 and 1.3 percent respectively, according to Oilprice.com. On the other hand, Brent crude is down 0.4 percent.

According to CNBC, gold prices have almost touched its two-week lows, as the dollar recovered losses after comments from U.S. Trade Representative who weakened investors' expectations for a closure to the tariff war with China. As of press time, spot gold is down 0.38 percent at $1,315 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures are down around 0.4 percent at $1,314.

Troubling Report Shows an Increase in Money Laundering Cases Involving Crypto in Japan

The number of money laundering cases linked to cryptocurrencies in Japan surged last year, up ten-fold from 2017. According to a report from local news media The Japan Times, the National Police Agency got over 7,000 cases of suspected crypto-related money laundering incidents in 2018.

The staggering number represents a 960 percent jump from the meager 699 cases reported from April 2017 to December 2017.

What’s even more startling is that the increase in money laundering activities occurred about the same time new crypto rules created to combat money laundering came into effect.

Japan Cryptocurrency

Along with the country’s recognition of cryptocurrencies, trading exchanges had to adhere to a strict set of rules in a bid to prevent another crypto exchange hack.

Crypto Rules for Japanese Exchanges

In April, Japan’s Payment Services Act required crypto exchanges operating in the country to obtain a Financial Services Agency (FSA) license, which allowed them to operate legally in the country and solidify the state as a hub for cryptocurrencies.

Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchange BitFlyer was the first exchange to obtain the license. This was followed by other exchanges including Coincheck who was granted a license a year after hackers stole $530million from its wallets.

History of The Coincheck Hack

Read: History of the Coincheck Hack

Per the report, the suspected transactions were easy to identify due to the patterns. In some cases, the trader used different personal details but the same photo ID across multiple accounts. For others, their login information showed they were overseas, but the listed address was in Japan.

The report revealed that crypto wasn’t a standout performer; traditional means was also used during the period covered. The total suspected money laundering cases were up 2,296 percent, with 417,465 cases reported to the police, up from 17,422 in 2017. Banks and credit card firms reported the bulk of the cases, the report revealed.

The agency wants to counter the threat posed by money laundering by ramping up its workforce to train experts who can detect patterns related to suspected money laundering transactions. They would be taught data analysis and how to use artificial intelligence technology.

Japan’s role in the Task Force

Last year, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a group of nations fighting money laundering and terrorist financing held a meeting where they announced the preparation of global binding rules for crypto exchanges. Japan was one of the countries that were prominently featured in the Task Force, as it did in an earlier G20 meeting that seeks a unified approach to tackling the use of crypto for money laundering transactions.

The Task Force will be looking at the effectiveness of current rules that require licensed crypto exchanges to follow know-your-customer (KYC) laws to report suspicious transactions and combat money laundering.

Money Launderers’ Love for Crypto

Japan is not the only country that is suffering from money laundering cases. American authorities have been busy as well. Last year, LocalBitcoins trader Theresa Lynn Tetley, also known by her sobriquet “Bitcoin Maven,” was sentenced to prison and fined $20,000 for her role in laundering bitcoin as proceeds of selling narcotics. Another American was sentenced to jail in Arizona for using crypto to launder drug proceeds. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona sentenced 54-year old Thomas Costanzo to 41 months in prison for laundering money and running an unlicensed money transmitting business on LocalBitcoins.

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German Government to Introduce Blockchain Strategy in Mid-2019

Germany’s blockchain strategy will be introduced in mid-2019, according to statements by the Cabinet of Germany.

The chief executive body of the German government, the Cabinet of Germany, has revealed that the country’s blockchain strategy will be introduced by mid-2019. The Cabinet commented on the development of fintech in the country on Feb. 26, following a request for information from parliamentarians in the Bundestag.

The document notes that fintech sandboxes are currently present in five member states of the European Union: Denmark, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom.

The Cabinet states that they will undergo an online consultation process prior to introducing the blockchain strategy. Per the Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy are preparing the strategy, with the expectation that other relevant ministries will contribute at a later time.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the German government is already consulting companies and industry groups that could become stakeholders in the country’s blockchain development. According to the report, unnamed organizations have been invited to make recommendations.

The report also cites unspecified government sources saying that it is unclear whether those recommendations will translate into regulation in the near future, but concrete results are currently being sought.

At the end of January, Germany’s second largest stock exchange, Boerse Stuttgart Group, officially launched its crypto-trading app Bison which enables free-of-charge trading in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP).

In January, major global securities marketplace Deutsche Boerse said it was “making significant progress” on its blockchain-based securities lending platform.

Japan Police: 98.3% of Money Laundering Cases Don’t Involve Cryptocurrency

japanese yen money laundering

Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) say cases of suspected money laundering reportedly linked to cryptocurrency increased by 900 percent in 2018 when compared to the previous year. However, this still comprises only 1.7 percent of all money laundering investigations.


Cryptocurrency Money Laundering Up Tenfold in Japan

According to The Japan Times, the NPA reports that it recorded 7,096 cases of suspected cryptocurrency money laundering. This figure represents a tenfold increase from the 669 cases reported between April and December 2017.

Back in early December 2018, the NPA released a report stating that alleged cases of cryptocurrency money laundering for the year stood at almost 6,000. At the time, the period accounted for was between January 2018 and October 2018.

Since Q2 2017, regulators have required cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan to report instances of suspected illegal virtual currency transactions. This move was part of a whole host of reforms targeted at combating illicit activities carried out via digital currencies.

The NPA says many of the suspicious transactions involved multiple accounts with different bio-data information but using the same photo ID. Other cases involved accounts using foreign IPs even though details of the accounts show listing addresses based in Japan.

According to the NPA’s figures, the increase in crypto-related money laundering is indicative of a general rise in illegal financial transactions across the board in 2018. The NPA says it recorded more than 417,000 cases of alleged money laundering, an increase of over 17,000 from 2017.

Also, the percentage of crypto-related money laundering in the general reckoning has also increased. In 2018, 1.70 percent of money laundering was from cryptocurrency transactions compared to 0.16 percent in 2017.

Robust KYC/AML/CFT Rules to the Rescue

In August 2018, reports emerged that the NPA was set to commit more than $300,000 to develop a tracking software for cryptocurrency transaction. The NPA plans to implement this tool as a way of combating the rise of cryptocurrency theft and other illegal transactions.

FSA Japan

As reported by Bitcoinist in January 2019, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations on cryptocurrency will come into effect by Q3 2019. These regulations which center around KYC/AML protocols will apply to the G20, of which Japan is a member.

Experts believe such international standards will hinder the ability for criminals to launder money via cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) continues to implement stricter regulatory standards for cryptocurrency exchanges based in Japan.

Do you think the introduction and enforcement of KYC/AML regulations will curb money laundering? Let us know your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

The post Japan Police: 98.3% of Money Laundering Cases Don’t Involve Cryptocurrency appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Constantinople Will Improve Ethereum But Will ETH Dump?

  • Ethereum prices bearish, strong liquidation at $170
  • Constantinople in progress
  • Transaction volumes increase in last weeks but will accumulation trigger bulls

After previous attempts flopped, we expect the ongoing Constantinople upgrade to be a success. Whether that will rouse price action, we don’t know, but for bulls to be firmly in control, prices must rally above $170 or Dec 2018 highs.

Ethereum Price Analysis

Fundamentals

As you read this, Constantinople software upgrade may be in progress and the second stage of the Metropolis could see Ethereum trudge closer to proof of stake in Serenity.

In a two-way fork—a separate upgrade in St. Petersburg because of vulnerabilities presented in the last update, Ethereum will implement all their EIPs ensuring that the network is efficient, delaying the difficulty bomb by another year and reduce ETH rewards for miners from three to two in “thirdening.”

However, a source of controversy is the implementation of CREATE 2, a proposal forwarded by Vitalik Buterin. There are concerns from the developer’s fraternity that interaction with smart contracts outside of Ethereum will create loopholes that would leave the blockchain open to attacks.

Unlike other contentious hard forks, coin holders need not worry about their stash unless otherwise notified by the foundation:

“If you use an exchange (such as Coinbase, Kraken, or Binance), a web wallet service (such as Metamask, MyCrypto, or MyEtherWallet), a mobile wallet service (such as Coinbase Wallet, Status.im, or Trust Wallet), or a hardware wallet (such as Ledger, Trezor, or KeepKey) you do not need to do anything unless you are informed to take additional steps by your exchange or wallet service.”

Candlestick Arrangements

Ethereum

Like most coins, ETH is in an uptrend, but prices are trending in tight trade ranges. The second most valuable coin is down 8.5 percent from last week’s close and trading inside the bear bar of Feb 24. In an effort versus result point of view, sellers have the upper hand.

Regardless, ETH/USD is within a bull breakout pattern thanks to Feb 18-19 upswings that saw prices rally and conclusively close above $135. Therefore, considering this price action alignment, we shall consider Feb 24 draw down a retest, and for risk-off traders, every low should be a buying opportunity.

Meanwhile, risk-averse and conservative type of traders can only ramp up once prices rally above $170—our main resistance level and Dec 2018 highs.

Technical Indicators

Our anchor bar is Feb 24 because it has high transaction volumes—880k versus 415k according to BitFinex data streams. Bulls are in control but for trend continuation, a bar that will cause a sharp reversal of trend must have high trade volumes exceeding recent averages of 365k or 900k above those of Feb 24.

The post Constantinople Will Improve Ethereum But Will ETH Dump? appeared first on NewsBTC.

Cryptocurrency Accounts for Less Than 2% of All Japanese Money Laundering Cases

Money Laundering Cases With Cryptocurrency Less Than 1.7% of All in Japan

Money laundering cases related to cryptocurrencies in Japan have increased significantly in 2018. Nevertheless, their number remains a fraction of the total. According to the Japanese press, the majority of reported money laundering instances actually involve banks and other traditional financial institutions.

Also read: Platform for Crypto Payments to Bank Accounts Launching in the UK

Most Instances Involve Banks and Credit Card Companies

The number of cases of suspected money laundering linked to cryptocurrencies reported in Japan surpassed 7,000 last year, the Japan Times reported, quoting the National Police Agency. The figure represents a 10-fold increase in comparison with the 669 cases registered between April and December of 2017, when crypto exchange operators were obliged to report suspicious transactions that may be linked to the movement of illicit funds.

Cryptocurrency Accounts for Less Than 2% of All Japanese Money Laundering Cases

The Japanese police detailed that in some of the cases, users with different names and birth dates have been sharing the same identification document. Others have been found to log in from foreign jurisdictions, despite providing Japanese addresses in their accounts.

In 2018 alone, 417,465 cases of suspected money laundering and other abuses were reported to the law enforcement agencies in Japan. That’s over 17,000 more cases than the previous year.

It should be noted, however, that the majority of these cases involve banks and other financial institutions, comprising 346,014 reports, and credit card companies 15,114. That means the cases related to cryptocurrencies, the exact number of which is 7,096, are less than 1.7 percent of the total.

Japanese Police to Train Data Analysis Specialists

The National Police Agency of Japan plans to take steps in response to the rising number of suspicious transactions. One of the initiatives involves the training of specialists in financial data analysis. Artificial intelligence technology may be employed to detect illegal trades. These systems can be taught to recognize patterns related to money laundering and other illicit transactions.

Cryptocurrency Accounts for Less Than 2% of All Japanese Money Laundering Cases

The Japan Times points out that the country has also seen some large cryptocurrency heists in recent years. These include the Mt. Gox hack in 2014 when $433 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from the digital asset exchange. Another attack, against the Japanese exchange Coincheck last January, led to the loss of approximately $550 million of the cryptocurrency nem.

Cases such as these were the main reason for a decision by the Japan’s Financial Services Agency to order several crypto trading platforms based in the country to improve their internal controls. The regulator also asked for the introduction of preventive measures against money laundering.

What do you think about the data released by the Japanese police? Share your thoughts on the topic of money laundering and cryptocurrency in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post Cryptocurrency Accounts for Less Than 2% of All Japanese Money Laundering Cases appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Ripple (XRP) Volumes More than Doubled in Feb, Prices in Range Mode

  • Ripple (XRP) prices in range mode
  • Miguel Vias of XRP Market put to an end bribing rumors
  • Transactional volumes in an uptrend

Although it is overwhelmingly bullish that CoinBase Pro now supports XRP trading pairs, bribing rumors is a stain. Miguel Vias of XRP Markets took to twitter stating that the listing was an independent CoinBase decision. All the same, Ripple (XRP) is in consolidation above 30 cents.

Ripple Price Analysis

Fundamentals

Now that XRP is available for trading at CoinBase Pro, the army should be jubilant. However, that is not the case.

Instead, there is a section of the populace that is suspicious of CoinBase making a U-turn and all of a sudden listing the world’s third most valuable coin, XRP. The origin of all these rumors and suspicious originates from reports back in Q2 2018 that Ripple inc, the majority owners of XRP, tried to “stimulate” XRP listings at two exchanges—Gemini and CoinBase.

There are allegations that Ripple Inc offered to pay CoinBase $100 million in XRP and an amount between $1 million to $3 million to Gemini for “quick liquidity” should the exchanges offer to avail XRP to their customers. All these were unsubstantiated. As a result, Miguel Vias, the head of XRP Markets, is dismissing this bribing rumor saying CoinBase listing was an “independent” decision.

Candlestick Arrangement

Ripple (XRP)

XRP prices are unaffected and are all over the place. Days after the coin experience the now fading “CoinBase Effect,” XRP is down 6.3 percent from last week’s close and could drop lower in line with Feb 24 sell-off.

Even so, we shall maintain a bullish outlook and while anchoring our analysis on Feb 18 bulls, expect prices to find support from 30 cents and rally above our first minor resistance and buy trigger line at 34 cents. It is after prices edge past this buy trigger line is when risk-off traders can buy on pullbacks with first targets at 40 cents.

Any break above will undoubtedly reinvigorate trading as price action finally syncs with strong bulls of the trend-setting Sep 2018 double bar bull reversal pattern. As far as recent price action is concerned, prices are in accumulation, and as long as they trade above 30 cents main support, bulls have a chance.

Technical Indicators

Coupled with supportive fundamentals, XRP is technically bullish. However, we are yet to see a break-off from recent accumulation despite Ripple (XRP) transactional volumes more than doubling in Feb—17 million to 34 million (data from Bitfinex). From an effort versus result point of view, a perfect bull bar that will stimulate higher highs must have high trading volumes exceeding those of Feb 24—61 million and most importantly recent averages of around 37 million.

The post Ripple (XRP) Volumes More than Doubled in Feb, Prices in Range Mode appeared first on NewsBTC.

New York Times: Facebook Reportedly Shopping ‘Facebook Coin’ to Crypto Exchanges

According to the Times, five sources that claim to have been briefed with the project have confirmed Facebook’s progress on its crypto.

Facebook is “hoping to succeed where Bitcoin failed” with its highly secretive cryptocurrency project, a New York Times (NYT) article published today, Feb. 28, argues.

Citing multiple anonymous sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Times pieces together the alleged contours of the project, which will reportedly aim to integrate cryptocurrency payments into its messaging services.

Notably, Facebook plans to rehaul its messaging infrastructure and integrate its three wholly-owned apps — WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram — under one canopy. As the Times notes, this would provide a future crypto token with exposure across the combined 2.7 billion who use the three services each month.

A crypto-powered payments system that would operate from within a messaging system, the Times notes, is an idea being hotly pursued by several global messaging giants, such as Korea’s Kakao, Line in Japan, and Russian-developed Telegram.

According to NYT, Facebook launched its crypto project — led by ex-PayPal president David Marcus — shortly after Telegram had sealed close to $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering (ICO) rounds for its forthcoming token and blockchain platform Telegram Open Network (TON).

Facebook has reportedly employed over 50 engineers to develop its cryptocurrency, three unnamed sources told the NYT. A further two told the newspaper that the importance of keeping the project under wraps is such that the relevant team has been given an office with separate key-card access to keep the details private from other employees.

Notably, five sources claiming to have been briefed on the team’s work alleged the forthcoming coin was most likely to be a fiat-pegged stablecoin — tied to the value of three different national fiat currencies, rather than just one.

The NYT notes, citing the anonymous sources, that Facebook has already begun shopping the “Facebook coin” around to unnamed crypto exchanges.

The question of centralization — and how far Facebook will allow its digital coin transactions to be decentralized, remains moot, according to NYT. Moreover, the Times cites industry experts who argued that Facebook is likely to face the same technological limitations and regulatory hurdles that have beset stalwart cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC).

As reported, unconfirmed reports of Facebook’s plans to integrate a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp users previously surfaced in December 2018. At the time, anonymous sources similarly suggested the token would be a stablecoin.

The trickle of information about the project aligns with the last year's job listings for blockchain talent on Facebook’s career page, as Cointelegraph has reported.

Will Bitcoin (BTC) Collapse Because of Feb 24 Sell Off?

  • Bitcoin prices in range mode
  • LocalCoinSwap launches a service allowing buying or selling of crypto without KYC
  • Transactional volumes shrink to 15k in the last four days.

Fiat—crypto on-ramps are indispensable liquidity doors. Enthusiasts and investors now have an option to buy or sell crypto without KYC. All the same, it is until prices race above $4,500 is when we expect prices to rally towards $6,000.

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Fundamentals

In a largely unregulated environment, regulators are demanding compliance from platforms facilitating fiat to crypto or crypto to fiat conversions. As significant players, exchanges do follow laid down rules and that can be a problem for crypto hard-liners.

Despite this hitch, it is true that exchanges play a crucial role. Good news is that there exist peer-to-peer networks like LocalBitcoins that connect buyers and sellers within a given location.

LocalBitcoins is dominant but the newly launched LocalCoinSwap promise clip part of the exchange’s market share. Like the LocalBitcoins, it is peer-to-peer, but the main differentiator is that users can buy or sell more than 20 cryptocurrencies and settle using any of the 250 supported payment methods. Besides, the platform is fast, private as users need not submit their details.

Candlestick Arrangements

Bitcoin

From the charts, it is clear that Bitcoin (BTC) buyers are under pressure mainly because of Feb 24 sell-off. In the short-to-medium term, this can be bad news for bulls.

However, buyers can snap back to trend once there is a sharp reversal of recent losses and prices rally above $4,500 complete with above average volumes. That would only confirm bulls set in motion by higher highs of late Dec, early Jan and Feb 2019 but could cause a sentiment shift and the hype element associated with crypto could cause a temporary pump driving prices above Dec 2018 highs as losses of Feb 24 are wiped out.

All the same, we must acknowledge from a top-down approach, volume indicators point to bears. Before there is confirmation, every low should be a buying opportunity for risk-off traders, and once sellers print below Feb 18 lows, our bullish outlook will be null. Assuming prices edge past Feb 24 highs, a modest target will remain at $5,800.

Technical Indicators

Transaction volumes are low averaging 15k in the last four days or so. Unless there is a sharp increase in volumes driving prices above $4,500, sellers are technically in charge. Confirming or invalidating this stand is a resumption of activity as volumes swell above 40k.

The post Will Bitcoin (BTC) Collapse Because of Feb 24 Sell Off? appeared first on NewsBTC.

R.L. Bryer (Pittsburgh Hodlr) Interview

R.L. Bryer, also known as The Pittsburgh Hodlr, is among the early Bitcoin adopters who decided to remain low key. According to his story, he stumbled upon Satoshi’s invention in 2009, and remained interested in cryptocurrencies to the extent that he became one of the first Litecoin adopters, and ended up making up for his silence by writing a book.

Everyone who wants to know a little more about Mr. Bryer’s experiences can purchase the Kindle version of “Blockchain: Project Renaissance, Volume 1”. It is an encapsulation of the Pittsburgh Hodlr’s thoughts and opinions on various phenomena taking place in the world of cryptocurrencies, and the second volume is said to be launched soon.

As you’re about to discover, Mr. Bryer isn’t quite a Lambo bro who got rich and brags about his early adopter-enabled wealth. He’s a well-read libertarian who understands the virtues and responsibilities that come with wealth, and he likes to make use of his study of Mises, Rothbard, and Ron Paul.

In this 46-minute interview, you will find insights on many events and phenomena taking place in the crypto-space. Mr. R.L. Bryer isn’t fond of self-labelling and appears to be open to blockchain innovations. However, he appreciates the finite supply and censorship resistance of Bitcoin and Litecoin, as they were the reasons behind his involvement.

The Pittsburgh crypto enthusiast also makes bold predictions about BTC adoption and acceptance on behalf of governments, to the extent that he believes taxes would eventually be paid using Satoshi’s invention. Though he likes quite a few blockchain-related projects, Mr. Bryer doesn’t see much potential in Ripple and Stellar, and even points out to their lack of compliance with the libertarian ethos that started this entire movement.

Find out more by watching the entire interview.

 

Watch more interviews:

The post R.L. Bryer (Pittsburgh Hodlr) Interview appeared first on Crypto Insider.

Putin Sets July Deadline For Cryptocurrency Law in Russia

putin russia

Russia’s long-running cryptocurrency regulation saga may soon be at an end as Vladimir Putin has ordered a deadline of 1st July 2019 for the approval of the ‘crypto-sphere’ bill.


Previously, On ‘Crypto-Currenskiy’

The ‘Quest for the Regulatory Bill’ picked up pretty much straight after the finale of prequel, ‘The Prohibition Question’. As you may recall, the Federal Tax Service had finally revealed the bombshell, that Bitcoin was legally a foreign currency. By this point though, the story had become so drawn out and confused by plot twists, that all but the most hardcore fans had stopped watching long before.

Despite this, way back in December 2016, the ‘Quest for the Regulatory Bill’ began. Sadly, it soon became clear it would be just as confusing and unwieldy as its predecessor.

The first season passed with barely any storyline at all. The first draft of the regulatory bill only made an appearance in December 2017’s season finale. Season two saw the government demand major revisions, but the second half of the story started to plod, and there was no real satisfying conclusion.

Season Three To Be Series Swan-song?

The Spring session of the state Duma (lower house of Russian parliament) runs from January until July 2019. The cryptocurrency thread was initially expected to play out by April, although the writers have already delayed this, due to technical and legal problems.

But now, with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, stepping in to demand a conclusion by 1st July, the team must surely up their game. After all, what Putin says…

…although, perhaps not? Putin originally intervened in the plot back in December 2017, also demanding a resolution by July the following year. And we all know that didn’t happen.

‘Crypto-Sphere’ Teasers

The Federal Council have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the slowness of the lower chamber. Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko openly demanded the Duma accelerate the amendment and adoption of the law.

No doubt, like the rest of us, he was eager to see the start of the final part of the trilogy, ‘Crypto-Sphere’. We have already had several teasers of what is to come. From an alleged $10 billion government crypto-investment, to the promise of a ‘Petro-like’ oil-backed state cryptocurrency.

But first, we need the ‘Quest for the Regulatory Bill’ to conclude.

$2 Billion Budget Lost

If nothing else, the regulation might finally plug a large hole in the budget. Following Putin’s intervention, the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain (RAKIB), claimed that in the last 18 months, the Russian economy has lost about $2 billion due to its lack of cryptocurrency regulation.

This, they claim, comprises three main components:

  • Commissions from Russian miners being paid to foreign intermediaries.
  • The outflow of Russian developers and specialists to foreign jurisdictions.
  • The growth of blockchain-related startups, working within the regulations.

Let’s hope Putin’s involvement makes a difference, and we finally find out what the future Russian crypto landscape will look like this time.

Will Russia finally pass its cryptocurrency law this summer? Let us know below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

The post Putin Sets July Deadline For Cryptocurrency Law in Russia appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Europe’s Regulatory Head Seeks Further Control of Crypto Assets

Europe’s Regulatory Head Seeks Further Control of Crypto Assets

Steven Maijoor, who chairs the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), has shown support for further regulation of crypto assets. Maijoor said he would like to see financial instrument regulation applied to cryptocurrencies in line with Europe’s securities laws, ostensibly to “help protect investors.”

Also read: Cryptopia Lost Almost a Tenth of its Assets in January Hack

‘Financial Laws to Protect Crypto Investors’

“Where crypto assets do not qualify as financial instruments, we are concerned that the absence of applicable financial rules leaves consumers exposed to substantial risks,” Maijoor was quoted by political publication Roll Call as saying on Feb. 27. The ESMA chairman was speaking at the Fintech Conference in Brussels earlier this week, in a prepared speech.

Europe’s Regulatory Head Seeks Further Control of Crypto Assets
Steven Maijoor

Whereas ESMA and another European regulator have since recommended the creation of tailor-made laws for the cryptocurrency industry, Maijoor would like to add to that new rules on initial coin offerings (ICOs). In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged sponsors of certain ICOs with violating federal laws, even though there’s no consensus on whether or not these were securities.

Maijoor also backed the broadening of Europe’s anti-money laundering rules to include the exchange of one digital asset for another, and not only the exchange between cryptocurrency to fiat money. Clarifying his position, he stated:

Without new rules, digital assets will likely fall outside of the regulation of Europe’s securities laws.

Crypto Regulation Headache

Cryptocurrency regulation has become a major focal area for governments all around the world. Existing legislation could not have anticipated the emergence of decentralized virtual currencies like bitcoin, which thrive on their freedom from government control. So, in their hope of effecting legislative control, regulators have struggled to qualify crypto assets as either commodities or financial instruments, as they do not fall into readily defined financial categories.

Many are still undecided on how to define them. In the U.S., for example, individual states are not in agreement on whether cryptocurrency companies should obtain money transmission licenses. However, the federal government seems to allow direct transactions of virtual currencies without regulation unless such transactions constitute fraud.

Europe’s Regulatory Head Seeks Further Control of Crypto Assets

According to Roll Call, Maijoor explained that most European jurisdictions agree that crypto assets should be regulated if they have attached profit or dividend rights, making them similar to traditional financial instruments. This would mean a lot more involvement by European regulators in an asset class that boasts a variety of use cases, providing utility rights and others, including functioning as a means of exchange.

“This makes it plain to see that we cannot legally qualify crypto assets via a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” Maijoor said.

What do you think about the regulation of cryptocurrencies in Europe? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and ESMA.


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The post Europe’s Regulatory Head Seeks Further Control of Crypto Assets appeared first on Bitcoin News.