Canada’s first regulated crypto exchange Wealthsimple Crypto goes live

Winklevoss brothers-founded Gemini powers the first regulated crypto exchange in Canada.

Wealthsimple Crypto, the first regulated cryptocurrency exchange in Canada, is rolling out its trading platform to the public today.

Starting from Sept. 22, users in all 13 provinces and territories in Canada will be able to sign up for the new product and start trading cryptocurrencies.

At the launch, Wealthsimple Crypto will allow users to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) through the platform’s mobile app. Deposits and withdrawals can only be made in Canadian dollars,

The public launch of Wealthsimple Crypto comes shortly after the company received regulatory approval from Canadian securities regulators on Aug. 7. To date, Wealthsimple Crypto is the only crypto asset platform that has been authorized to operate in Canada by the Canadian Securities Administration (CSA), a representative told Cointelegraph.

Prior to public launch, Wealthsimple Crypto was available in beta, allowing Canadians to join a waitlist to be invited to use the platform. According to Wealthsimple’s representatives, more than 130,000 Canadians joined the waitlist so far.

Wealthsimple will not hold any cryptocurrency assets in its own hot or cold wallets. Blair Wiley, Wealthsimple's general counsel, says that the crypto custody service on Wealthsimple is provided by Gemini, a major United States-based digital asset platform founded by Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss.

According to Wiley, collaboration with Gemini is one of the factors that contributed to Wealthsimple Crypto becoming regulated in Canada. The exec previously said that trying to offer too many services can be an impediment to becoming a fully regulated exchange, stating:

“Probably the simplest explanation is that folks who came before us tried to do everything — buy and sell crypto for clients, operate an exchange, hold onto the crypto that clients buy [...] And each one of those activities has its own long list of regulatory requirements. If one business tries to do all that, it makes getting regulatory approval a lot harder.”

Based in Toronto, Wealthsimple is a Canadian online investment management service focused on millennials. The company announced its plans to offer crypto trading in July 2020.

European central bank execs explain why CBDCs don’t need blockchain

Before trying to apply blockchain to anything, think why.

Global central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, do not require the use of blockchain technology, according to executives at major European central banks.

Thomas Moser, an alternate member of the governing board at Swiss central bank, and Deutsche Bundesbank’s Martin Diehl discussed the state of CBDCs at the European Blockchain Convention Virtual 2020 conference on Sept. 21.

During the online panel discussion, both Diehl and Moser seemed to agree that global CBDC projects like China’s digital yuan do not need blockchain, citing a number of reasons.

Moser said that the primary use cases for blockchain intend to provide trust when a project has no central party. “Like for instance Bitcoin, I think it is a very good use case for blockchain,” the exec noted.

However, he went on to say that the central bank involvement makes blockchain use unnecessary because the trust is provided by a central party:

But if you have a central bank then this is the central party. And if you trust that central party, I think then it’s not really straightforward to reason that you need a blockchain.”

The executive also noted that the Swiss National Bank will soon publish a working paper that proposes a retail CBDC without blockchain. According to Moser, the upcoming project will preserve transaction privacy — a key feature of cash — by utilizing the technology of blind signatures instead of a blockchain.

Diehl, the head of payment system analysis at Deutsche Bundesbank, noted that blockchain technology is not necessary for CBDC, citing examples of two major CBDC initiatives like China’s digital yuan and Sweden’s e-krona. “Neither Swedish Riksbank, nor the People’s Bank of China seem to be using blockchain, so blockchain is not a must,” the exec said.

Diehl also noted that there is no sense in implementing public, or unpermissioned, blockchains for CBDC systems. Providing a network for major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), public blockchains cannot be owned by any central party and are completely open to anyone to join and participate. “Unpermissioned blockchains being used for official blockchain transactions for me is not conceivable,” Diehl said.

Wisconsin Assembly candidate is accepting Bitcoin donations again

“Cryptocurrency is money,” argues a Wisconsin State Assembly candidate.

A candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly is challenging a state regulator by accepting donations in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).

Phil Anderson, a real estate broker and entrepreneur, now accepts cryptocurrency donations for his Assembly campaign. According to an official statement by Anderson, crypto donations are available via major cryptocurrency payment service provider BitPay.

Anderson said that his campaign is accepting crypto donations despite regulatory uncertainty from the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.

Back in 2018, Anderson accepted Bitcoin donations in his campaign for Governor of Wisconsin despite the WEC finding them a “serious challenge” to compliance with state law. According to the candidate, the WEC failed to arrive at a decision regarding the legal status of crypto donations in the state in 2018.

As such, the Wisconsin Assembly candidate is challenging the regulator again, arguing that the WEC “declined to interpret its own rules competently.” Anderson believes that crypto is a legitimate way to make campaign donations because “cryptocurrency is money.” The candidate promises to “push for the laws to be friendly toward cryptocurrency in Wisconsin.”

“I refuse to give in to ignorance and bureaucratic incompetence [...] People have the choice as to how they contribute, and it’s my intention to honor those choices. If my opponent or the Ethics Commission are interested in challenging me, I’m ready for a fight,” he said.

A number of political candidates for various offices in the United States have been accepting crypto as donations for their campaigns. Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate, was accepting Bitcoin donations for his political action committee in 2019. In August 2020, Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) also started accepting campaign donations in crypto via BitPay.

Wisconsin Assembly candidate is accepting Bitcoin donations again

“Cryptocurrency is money,” argues a Wisconsin State Assembly candidate.

A candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly is challenging a state regulator by accepting donations in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).

Phil Anderson, a real estate broker and entrepreneur, now accepts cryptocurrency donations for his Assembly campaign. According to an official statement by Anderson, crypto donations are available via major cryptocurrency payment service provider BitPay.

Anderson said that his campaign is accepting crypto donations despite regulatory uncertainty from the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.

Back in 2018, Anderson accepted Bitcoin donations in his campaign for Governor of Wisconsin despite the WEC finding them a “serious challenge” to compliance with state law. According to the candidate, the WEC failed to arrive at a decision regarding the legal status of crypto donations in the state in 2018.

As such, the Wisconsin Assembly candidate is challenging the regulator again, arguing that the WEC “declined to interpret its own rules competently.” Anderson believes that crypto is a legitimate way to make campaign donations because “cryptocurrency is money.” The candidate promises to “push for the laws to be friendly toward cryptocurrency in Wisconsin.”

“I refuse to give in to ignorance and bureaucratic incompetence [...] People have the choice as to how they contribute, and it’s my intention to honor those choices. If my opponent or the Ethics Commission are interested in challenging me, I’m ready for a fight,” he said.

A number of political candidates for various offices in the United States have been accepting crypto as donations for their campaigns. Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate, was accepting Bitcoin donations for his political action committee in 2019. In August 2020, Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) also started accepting campaign donations in crypto via BitPay.

Facebook-backed Libra welcomes Blockchain Capital as new member

Libra gets another member as it strives to have 100 entities on board.

The Facebook-initiated Libra blockchain project continues to grow as its governing body has added a new major industry partner.

Blockchain Capital, one of the largest venture capital firms in the blockchain industry, has joined the Libra Association, according to an official Sept. 18 announcement.

Alongside the other 26 association participants, Blockchain Capital will now be working to create a “more equitable payment system” with Libra.

Bart Stephens, co-founder and managing partner at Blockchain Capital, said, “Leveraging blockchain technology to improve financial access and promote innovation has been at the core of Blockchain Capital’s portfolio strategy.” 

The Libra Association was formed in June 2018 after Facebook originally released a white paper for its stablecoin project, Libra. At the release, the association had a number of major global companies as founding members including Mastercard, PayPal, Visa, Stripe, eBay, Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz and Uber. However, many initial members have left the association amid global regulatory pressure.

Libra has seen some revitalization this year, with the Libra Association adding more members like Checkout.​com and Shopify. However, with 30 members so far, Libra’s governing body is still far from its planned 100 members.

The Switzerland-based association has been also appointing top financial services experts as executives in 2020. On Sept. 17, the Libra Association appointed HSBC veteran James Emmett as managing director of its subsidiary firm, Libra Networks LLC. Previously, the association announced former HSBC chief legal officer Stuart Levey as its first CEO.

Police summon Bithumb chairman for questioning over alleged fraud

Police raids on the Bithumb offices are apparently not just FUD as more investigation reports come in.

The drama over alleged fraud involving Bithumb’s senior executives continues as the company’s chairman has reportedly been summoned for interrogation.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency is purportedly seeking to question Lee Jung-hoon, chairman of board at Bithumb Korea and Bithumb Holdings, according to a Sept. 18 report by South Korea’s state-run news agency Yonhap.

As reported, Lee is allegedly accused of multiple fraud and embezzlement offenses regarding the failed listing of the BXA token. The purported fraud caused investor damages of up to 30 billion won ($25 million), the report notes. The police are also reportedly looking to question Lee over alleged embezzlement of investors’ funds in overseas property purchases or offshore investments.

According to Yonhap, Kim Byung-gun, another chairman at Bithumb, is accused of being involved in the BXA fraud alongside Lee. However, the police have not yet initiated an investigation against Kim.

The latest news comes shortly after Seoul police reportedly seized a number of shares in Bithumb Holdings belonging to Lee. The exec reportedly failed to acquire Bithumb, and has been sued in the process.

As reported by Cointelegraph, local police conducted two raids on Bithumb’s offices in connection to the alleged fraud in September.

Bithumb has not responded to any of Cointelegraph’s requests for comment. 

Daily Ethereum transactions hit a new historical high amid DeFi boom

The previous all-time high in daily transactions was recorded in 2018.

Daily transactions on the Ethereum blockchain have just recorded a new all-time high amid the general surge of congestion on the network.

On Sept. 17, the amount of daily transactions on the Ethereum network amounted to 1,406,000, according to data from major Ethereum browser Etherscan. This is the highest number of daily transactions ever recorded on the Ethereum network.

According to Etherscan, the previous all-time high was on Jan. 4, 2018, reaching about 1,350,000 transactions on the day.

Ethereum daily transactions chart. Source: Etherscan

The new historical high of daily Ethereum transactions comes amid the ongoing boom in decentralized finance, or DeFi, applications. The DeFi industry has been growing massively in 2020, with the total value locked in the market hitting $9 billion in August 2020. Amid the apparent DeFi hype, a number of major global exchanges like Binance and OKEx have been rushing to list multiple DeFi tokens.

As most DeFi applications are built on the Ethereum network to date, the surge in the DeFi industry has driven a significant level of congestion as well as raised scalability issues. As a result, the Ethereum network commissions, or gas fees, have seen a sharp spike, resulting in Ethereum miners earning a record $500,000 in fees in a single hour on Sept. 1.

Following Uniswap’s UNI token launch, Ethereum transaction fees spiked to almost $1 million an hour on Sept. 18. Amid the increasing gas fees on the Ethereum network, Coinbase’s institutional trading arm, Coinbase Pro, required its customers to pay gas fees and withdrawal fees.

Binance’s US arm joins Chicago DeFi alliance

Binance’s interest in DeFi expands globally.

The United States arm of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange,  has entered a major organization focused on decentralized finance, or DeFi.

According to a Sept. 17 blog post, Binance.US has officially joined the Chicago DeFi Alliance. Also known as the CDA, the association is backed by crypto fund Volt Capital, brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, CMT Digital, Cumberland DRW, Compound Finance and others.

By joining the alliance, Binance.US aims to contribute to the further development of the DeFi industry in the U.S., the firm’s CEO Catherine Coley said. “By working with DeFi Alliance, Binance.US will help mature the DeFi space, build for broader inclusion, and support startups as they unlock the potential DeFi offers,” Coley noted in the announcement.

Established in April 2020, the CDA alliance aims to provide DeFi-focused startups and entrepreneurs with support and guidance in complying with trading regulations as well as other related requirements.

As Cointelegraph reported, the CDA was formed after the DeFi industry collapsed to $360 million in the total value in early April. The industry has more than rebounded in recent months though, with more than $9 billion being locked in DeFi applications at publishing time.

Binance.US’ entrance to the Chicago DeFi Alliance comes shortly after the company joined the U.S.-based Blockchain Association in August 2020.

Binance.US’ parent company, Binance, has been actively involved in a large number of blockchain-related alliances. In early September, the world’s largest crypto exchange joined Blockchain for Europe, a major European association advocating for the balanced regulation of the blockchain industry. Previously, Binance became an executive member in the self-regulating industry association known as CryptoUK.

INX exchange taps Israeli crypto startup GK8 for crypto custody

The SEC-approved IPO holder prefers to store crypto 100% offline.

INX, a cryptocurrency firm holding the first-ever token initial public offering, or IPO, approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, has chosen a digital asset custody provider.

According to a Sept. 16 announcement, INX has enlisted Israeli crypto startup GK8 for digital asset custody on its upcoming crypto exchange.

INX tweeted that the platform will use GK8's end-to-end platform for managing and safeguarding digital assets. The platform includes GK8’s patented “air-gapped vault that can create, sign, and send blockchain transactions while staying 100% offline,” INX noted.

Based in Gibraltar, INX is planning to raise $117 million from its ongoing security token IPO targeting both retail and institutional investors.

After raising $7.5 million as of Sept. 10, INX’s began accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and USD Coin (USDC) on Sept. 14. With the raised funds, INX intends to set up a multiservice digital asset platform as well as a cash reserve fund.

GK8 was founded in 2018 by Lior Lamesh and Shahar Shamai, cybersecurity experts who previously worked together in a classified Israeli cyber unit. The startup is said to be managing over $1 billion in digital assets for global banks, exchanges, and custodians. eToro, an Israeli social investment giant, became one of the company's first customers in 2019, Lamesh told Cointelegraph.

The Israeli crypto custody provider is known for its highly provocative stance on the crypto wallets industry. GK8 claims to be able to store and transact crypto without any connection to the internet. In July 2020, GK8 posted an article that says that “no cold wallet is really cold if it requires internet connection to run a blockchain transaction.”

XMR workgroup says IRS should study Monero — not try to break it

Dollars are used for nefarious activities too.

The United States Internal Revenue Service has better ways to spend taxpayer dollars than offering bounties to break Monero’s (XMR) privacy, a Monero working group says.

After the IRS announced it is offering up to $625,000 to anyone who can break Monero, a major Monero-focused workgroup expressed their take on the matter.

A spokesperson for Monero Outreach — an independent workgroup focused on XMR awareness and education — told Cointelegraph that the IRS should learn how Monero actually works instead.

Monero Outreach’s representative emphasized that the crypto’s features in fact provide users with a certain level of transparency, stating:

“$625,000 would be better spent by the IRS to hire a few consultants to teach their staff how Monero works and how its features allow users to opt-in to transparency.”

The spokesperson said that Monero is “designed to function just like cash,” highlighting that the U.S. dollar also has a certain amount of privacy:

“The U.S. dollar is used for a majority of the world’s nefarious activities and yet, it is what denominates the IRS’ balance sheet. [...] The IRS doesn’t know how much cash you earned unless you report it, but you don’t see them trying to break the U.S. dollar.”

The IRS announced its bounty program to trace transactions on Monero and Bitcoin’s (BTC) Lightning Network in early September 2020. The authority stressed that the program is driven by a lack of investigative resources for tracing transactions involving privacy coins used by illicit actors.

The IRS is not the only institution that wants to break Monero’s privacy. In August, a major cryptocurrency intelligence firm, CipherTrace, reportedly claimed that their crypto tracking tool is capable of tracing Monero transactions. Previously, Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service announced that its new crypto tracking tool will “partially reduce anonymity” of Monero transactions.

While authorities and companies worldwide are apparently racing to crack Monero’s privacy, the coin’s protocol has some built-in transparency features.

According to a Sept. 15 report by American law firm Perkins Coie, Monero enables users and virtual asset service providers, or VASPs, to disclose certain transaction details associated with a given account to a third party. According to the firm, these features are part of the key functionality built into the Monero protocol:

“This enables users and VASPs to disclose certain transaction details associated with a given account to a third party without publicly disclosing that user’s transactional information. In addition, VASPs can require up-front disclosures as part of their registration process and on an ongoing basis to meet their obligations.”

Designed to provide a private and untraceable cryptocurrency, Monero is the top privacy-focused coin by market capitalization at publishing time. According to Monero Outreach, the coin also has the third-highest number of code contributors of all cryptocurrencies, behind only Bitcoin and Ether (ETH). Monero is currently trading at $91.41 with a market cap of $1.6 billion.

Binance’s crypto Visa card is now available all across EEA countries

Binance is aggressively pushing its new crypto debit card.

The world’s largest exchange, Binance, has officially announced that its cryptocurrency debit card is now available in Europe.

According to a Sept. 15 blog post, the Binance Visa Card is now available to everyone in the European Economic Area, or EEA, countries.

To celebrate the launch in Europe, Binance is offering up to 7% cashback from purchases with the card. According to the firm, this is the highest cashback rate available in the market to date.

Binance noted that Binance Visa Card converts user crypto funds into a local currency automatically, allowing them to spend crypto like Bitcoin (BTC) at 60 million locations around the world.

Since announcing its plans for Binance Visa Card in April 2020, Binance has been aggressively pushing the new product. The Binance card officially debuted in Europe in July 2020, with the firm claiming that EEA-based users will be able to apply for a card in August. As the Binance card is powered by Binance-owned crypto debit provider, Swipe, the new product might soon enter the United States.

In early September, Binance’s head of operations for Russia and the CIS told Cointelegraph that Binance Card is still on its way to Russia despite the country’s upcoming crypto payment ban.

Avalanche blockchain network to launch full mainnet

A new blockchain protocol is set to solve major DeFi issues.

Avalanche, a new blockchain protocol and cryptocurrency backed by Cornell’s Emin Gün Sirer, will finally go live in a few days.

According to an announcement, Avalanche will roll out the full mainnet on Monday, Sept. 21.

With the mainnet launch, the Avalanche (AVAX) token, the platform's native token, can be listed on crypto exchanges, although Ava Labs did not specify which ones. 

As previously reported, the AVAX token will serve as a tool to secure the AVA network through staking, pay for operational fees, transfer value peer-to-peer and create new networks. Once the mainnet goes live, data about the AVAX token will be available on major token explorers like CoinMarketCap, a representative at Ava Labs said.

Alongside the Avalanche network, Ava Labs will also launch an open-source platform for building decentralized finance applications and enterprise blockchain tools. With the launch, Ava Labs aims to solve major DeFi issues like over-congestion on the Ethereum network by providing a highly scalable blockchain network.

Ava Labs co-founder and COO Kevin Sekniqi told Cointelegraph that DeFi has always been the core focus of Avalanche. He claimed that the network is basically limitless in terms of scalability:

“There’s no known limit to the number of full, block-producing validators who can participate in Avalanche consensus without any loss in performance. We’ve tested upwards of 2,000 of these full validating nodes without any drop-off in performance or downtime.”

According to Ava Labs’ representatives, the Avalanche network is capable of confirming transactions in under one second, with a capacity of over 4,500 transactions per second and security thresholds “well-above the 51% standards of other networks.”

As the Avalanche platform is designed to help current DeFi projects scale further, the network needs to provide a sufficient level of interoperability with other networks. Sekniqi says that Avalanche will support bridges to other networks to allow users to move assets between them.

“We’ll be launching a bridge to Ethereum very soon that will enable activity between the networks, like transferring assets like stablecoins between the networks or 'wrapping' native assets on Avalanche, without losing any functionality,” he said.

According to the firm, Avalanche has raised $60 million to date, including a $42 million public token sale this July 2020, and a $12 million private sale led by Galaxy Digital, Bitmain and Initialized capital. The project was initiated in May 2019.

Avalanche’s founder and CEO Gün Sirer recently criticized emerging blockchain projects for applying dubious strategies in the industry. In a Sept. 11 tweet, he said that too many industry projects tend to make strong tech claims without providing much evidence.

Avalanche blockchain network to launch full mainnet

A new blockchain protocol is set to solve major DeFi issues.

Avalanche, a new blockchain protocol and cryptocurrency backed by Cornell’s Emin Gün Sirer, will finally go live in a few days.

According to an announcement, Avalanche will roll out the full mainnet on Monday, Sept. 21.

With the mainnet launch, the Avalanche (AVAX) token, the platform's native token, can be listed on crypto exchanges, although Ava Labs did not specify which ones. 

As previously reported, the AVAX token will serve as a tool to secure the AVA network through staking, pay for operational fees, transfer value peer-to-peer and create new networks. Once the mainnet goes live, data about the AVAX token will be available on major token explorers like CoinMarketCap, a representative at Ava Labs said.

Alongside the Avalanche network, Ava Labs will also launch an open-source platform for building decentralized finance applications and enterprise blockchain tools. With the launch, Ava Labs aims to solve major DeFi issues like over-congestion on the Ethereum network by providing a highly scalable blockchain network.

Ava Labs co-founder and COO Kevin Sekniqi told Cointelegraph that DeFi has always been the core focus of Avalanche. He claimed that the network is basically limitless in terms of scalability:

“There’s no known limit to the number of full, block-producing validators who can participate in Avalanche consensus without any loss in performance. We’ve tested upwards of 2,000 of these full validating nodes without any drop-off in performance or downtime.”

According to Ava Labs’ representatives, the Avalanche network is capable of confirming transactions in under one second, with a capacity of over 4,500 transactions per second and security thresholds “well-above the 51% standards of other networks.”

As the Avalanche platform is designed to help current DeFi projects scale further, the network needs to provide a sufficient level of interoperability with other networks. Sekniqi says that Avalanche will support bridges to other networks to allow users to move assets between them.

“We’ll be launching a bridge to Ethereum very soon that will enable activity between the networks, like transferring assets like stablecoins between the networks or 'wrapping' native assets on Avalanche, without losing any functionality,” he said.

According to the firm, Avalanche has raised $60 million to date, including a $42 million public token sale this July 2020, and a $12 million private sale led by Galaxy Digital, Bitmain and Initialized capital. The project was initiated in May 2019.

Avalanche’s founder and CEO Gün Sirer recently criticized emerging blockchain projects for applying dubious strategies in the industry. In a Sept. 11 tweet, he said that too many industry projects tend to make strong tech claims without providing much evidence.

Italian soccer club SS Lazio goes crypto with StormGain exchange

There is a way for crypto exchanges and soccer clubs to work together.

Another major soccer club is entering the cryptocurrency industry by tapping a partnership with a cryptocurrency exchange.

SS Lazio, an Italian professional sports club, signed a multi-year deal with crypto trading platform StormGain.

Announcing the news on Sept. 16, StormGain said that it is now the “official crypto trading partner” of SS Lazio. According to the firm, the newly announced deal will enable StormGain and Lazio to boost fan engagement through unique giveaways like exclusive VIP suite hospitality at Lazio home matches.

As part of the initiative, StormGain will be providing access to private tours and events at the Stadio Olimpico — the main and largest sports facility of Rome, which is the home stadium of Associazione Sportiva Roma and Lazio.

While the announcement provides little information on how exactly crypto is expected to be used within the partnership, StormGain CEO Alex Althausen hinted that it is a big part of the collaboration:

“Through this sponsorship, we're thrilled to join the worlds of crypto trading and football together and offer many exciting benefits for our clients, who can win exclusive access to the Roman superstars and unique prizes thanks to StormGain.”

Marco Canigiani, event director at SS Lazio, outlined that the partnership will reinforce the club’s “innovative positioning,” bring more fan projects, as well as help them expand internationally.

Cointelegraph reached out to StormGain to know more about the partnership with SS Lazio. This article will be updated pending any new information.

According to data from CoinMarketCap, StormGain was launched in July 2019 and is a centralized exchange registered in Seychelles. The exchange facilitates the trading of major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), XRP, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC).

SS Lazio’s partnership is not the club’s first foray into blockchain and crypto. In March 2020, the soccer team partnered with Sorare, a blockchain soccer game provider, to launch tokenized player cards on the Ethereum blockchain.

Italian soccer club SS Lazio goes crypto with StormGain exchange

There is a way for crypto exchanges and soccer clubs to work together.

Another major soccer club is entering the cryptocurrency industry by tapping a partnership with a cryptocurrency exchange.

SS Lazio, an Italian professional sports club, signed a multi-year deal with crypto trading platform StormGain.

Announcing the news on Sept. 16, StormGain said that it is now the “official crypto trading partner” of SS Lazio. According to the firm, the newly announced deal will enable StormGain and Lazio to boost fan engagement through unique giveaways like exclusive VIP suite hospitality at Lazio home matches.

As part of the initiative, StormGain will be providing access to private tours and events at the Stadio Olimpico — the main and largest sports facility of Rome, which is the home stadium of Associazione Sportiva Roma and Lazio.

While the announcement provides little information on how exactly crypto is expected to be used within the partnership, StormGain CEO Alex Althausen hinted that it is a big part of the collaboration:

“Through this sponsorship, we're thrilled to join the worlds of crypto trading and football together and offer many exciting benefits for our clients, who can win exclusive access to the Roman superstars and unique prizes thanks to StormGain.”

Marco Canigiani, event director at SS Lazio, outlined that the partnership will reinforce the club’s “innovative positioning,” bring more fan projects, as well as help them expand internationally.

Cointelegraph reached out to StormGain to know more about the partnership with SS Lazio. This article will be updated pending any new information.

According to data from CoinMarketCap, StormGain was launched in July 2019 and is a centralized exchange registered in Seychelles. The exchange facilitates the trading of major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), XRP, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC).

SS Lazio’s partnership is not the club’s first foray into blockchain and crypto. In March 2020, the soccer team partnered with Sorare, a blockchain soccer game provider, to launch tokenized player cards on the Ethereum blockchain.

China’s blockchain partner Cypherium gets its own Twitter emoji

Cypherium is the fourth crypto emoji on Twitter.

Cypherium, a blockchain company involved in China's Blockchain Service Network initiative, has just launched its own branded Twitter emoji.

The New York-based blockchain firm announced the news in a Sept. 15 tweet, adding that the new emoji comes in anticipation of Cypherium’s upcoming public token sale on Sept. 16.

With the new feature, all #Cypherium and #CPH tags on Twitter posts automatically get a Cypherium logo, similar to Bitcoin logos when tweeting “#Bitcoin” or “#BTC.”

Cypherium’s new Twitter emoji comes in conjunction with the upcoming token sale. As previously announced, the firm is planning to sell a total of 300 million CPH tokens in two rounds. In the first round, Cypherium plans to sell 200 million tokens at a price of $0.25 per CPH. The remaining 100 million tokens will be available at a price of $0.28 per CPH.

Cypherium CEO Sky Guo told Cointelegraph that the firm expects to finish the sale on Sept. 23.

Cypherium is the fourth cryptocurrency to get a branded Twitter emoji after Bitcoin (BTC), Crypto.com (CRO) and Binance Coin (BNB).

As reported, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey debuted the social media platforms’ Bitcoin emoji in February 2020. In June 2020, Crypto.com became the second cryptocurrency to receive an emoji hashtag on Twitter. Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, added a similar emoji for its native coin BNB on July 1.

Cypherium is a major partner of China’s government-backed blockchain initiative, the BSN. In late August, Cypherium's CEO suggested that China’s digital yuan could be integrated into the BSN, “but at the moment it is not clear enough yet.”

Russia’s largest bank joins blockchain trade finance platform

The Swiss arm of Russia’s largest bank is exploring blockchain-based trade finance.

A subsidiary of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, has joined a blockchain-based platform for commodity trade finance.

Sberbank Switzerland AG has signed an agreement with Swiss trade finance platform Komgo to apply its blockchain-powered trade finance service.

Representatives from Sberbank Switzerland AG told Cointelegraph that the collaboration with Komgo addresses the growing digitization of trade finance.

Evgeny Kravchenko, head of trade finance at Sberbank, outlined that commodity trade finance is a strategic business of Sberbank Switzerland AG. According to the executive, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States’ countries are the company’s key markets, while Sberbank Switzerland AG also supports trade flows globally.

“In recent years, trade finance digitalization has accelerated dramatically, following the needs of market players,” Kravchenko said, adding that Komgo’s trade finance will further expand the efficiency of Sberbank’s operations.

As previously reported, Komgo is a decentralized trade financing startup that is developing a commodity trade finance platform based on the Ethereum blockchain. One of its purposes is to accelerate trade finance transactions as well as allow stakeholders to track a deal with instant success to commodity trade information.

Sberbank has been aggressively tapping the blockchain industry recently. As Cointelegraph reported in August, Sberbank is working with a major Russia-based airline company, S7 Airlines, to introduce a blockchain-based ticket sale system. The bank is also reportedly considering launching its own stablecoin pegged one-to-one to the Russian ruble.

BNP Paribas connects to major stock exchanges with DAML smart contracts

The DAML smart contract language is getting more popular.

BNP Paribas' securities arm has partnered with Digital Asset to develop a number of real-time trade and settlement applications using DAML-based smart contracts, the firm announced on Sept. 15.

The new DAML-driven apps will connect BNP Paribas Securities Services with major global stock exchanges like the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX).

The apps will provide market participants in the Asia Pacific with real-time access to ASX and HKEX’s upcoming blockchain-based trading and settlement platforms. BNP Paribas will specifically connect to the ASX’s blockchain-powered equity transaction platform known as the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System, or CHESS.

Alongside connecting various blockchain-based platforms, the new DAML apps will be also available to clients in markets that have not integrated distributed ledger technology, the announcement notes.

One of the apps comprises a smart elections service for corporate actions. Due in 2021, the app is designed to provide instant access to all the corporate action chain data like dividend reinvestment or purchase offer decisions. It is expected to reduce processing times and improve operational efficiency, as well as enable investors to make decisions based on the most relevant market data.

Introduced in April 2016, DAML stands for Digital Asset Modeling Language and represents an expressive language designed for financial institutions to model and execute agreements through DLT and smart contracts.

Both the ASX and HKEX have emerged as partners of Digital Assets. In 2019, the ASX and Digital Asset signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating that the stock exchange will support DAML as part of its CHESS blockchain registry. As reported, ASX’s CHESS system is coming in 2021.

In October 2018, HKEX partnered with Digital Asset to accelerate post-trade processes and reduce settlement risks. 

The DAML smart contract language is seeing increased implementation within major global blockchain initiatives. On Sept. 14, China’s national blockchain project, the Blockchain Services Network, announced DAML support to develop decentralized applications on its platform. In early September, Singapore’s major investment holding company, Singapore Exchange, issued its first digital bond powered by DAML.

INX starts accepting crypto payments after raising $7.5M in its IPO

The company's $117 million SEC-approved IPO is the first of its kind.

INX, a Gibraltar-based cryptocurrency exchange, is now accepting major cryptocurrencies as part of its initial public offering, or IPO. The company hopes to raise $117 million from both retail and institutional investors.

According to the announcement, more than 3,000 retail and accredited investors registered for the INX token offering in the first 3 days. INX says that the company set the offering price $0.90 per token with a minimum investment of $1,000. BTC/USD, ETH/USD and USDC/USD exchange rates will be determined in the manner as disclosed in the final prospectus, the firm noted.

As previously reported, INX’s ongoing sale is the first-ever security token IPO that is registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. A registration statement relating to the offering of these securities was declared effective by the SEC on Aug. 20, 2020.

In the announcement, INX clarified that the offering is only available in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

According to the firm, INX intends to use the funds raised from the sale of INX tokens to launch a multi-service digital asset platform. As such, INX plans to set up a regulated crypto trading platform for crypto, security tokens, and their derivatives, as well as to launch a cash reserve fund.

In late August, some figures in the crypto community explicitly criticized INX for “shilling” a SEC-cleared token. As reported, Stefan Jespers, known as WhalePanda on Twitter, compared the INX token to Binance's native coin Binance Coin (BNB). Jameson Lopp, the CTO of Casa and a self-proclaimed cypherpunk, expressed a similar stance, stating: “Not an equity offering. Not yo’ mama’s ICO. A guaranteed share of cash flow.”

Crypto mining and remote work drive GPU sales boom in Russia

Miners in Russia are purportedly buying more equipment amid regulatory uncertainty.

Graphic cards’ sales in Russia are surging amid an increase in remote work as well as the apparent growth in cryptocurrency mining, a new report says.

According to several local retailers like Citilink and Svyaznoy, crypto mining-related sales of graphic cards in Russia notably surged in August 2020, Kommersant reported on Sept. 14.

Alexey Rusakov, an executive at local tech distributor Citilink, told Kommersant that sales from mining-enabled graphic cards have spiked 49% in August. This comes in line with a two-fold increase in sales by tech giant Nvidia on a year-on-year basis, according to Irina Shekhovtsova, communications director of Russia and CIS at Nvidia.

According to Kommersant, PC components’ sales skyrocketed over the period of June to August 2020, a 470% increase over the same period last year.

The purported surge of interest in crypto mining in Russia comes alongside a significant level of regulatory uncertainty around the mining industry. Russia’s major cryptocurrency law, “On Digital Financial Assets,” or DFA, which was passed in July 2020, does not mention the term “mining” at all.

While the DFA law is referred to as a “glossary for crypto,” there is another bill that will likely touch upon the mining industry. Known as the bill “On Digital Currency,” the legislation is poised to provide a regulatory framework for the crypto industry in Russia, and is expected to be passed in December 2020.

In early September 2020, Russia’s Ministry of Finance reportedly proposed to amend the DFA law to prohibit miners from receiving payments in crypto for their activities. “Standalone crypto mining is legal, but it loses its financial value because the payment is usually processed in Bitcoins and Ethers,” the authority reportedly said.

No one can refuse China’s digital currency, says central bank exec

The digital renminbi is legally compensatory to China’s fiat currency.

China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) known as the digital yuan should be regulated in line with cash-related laws, according to a senior exec at the country’s central bank.

In an opinion article on Sept. 14, Fan Yifei, a deputy governor of the People's Bank of China (PBoC), outlined the major regulatory principles for the operation of the digital yuan. the digital representation of the official currency of the People’s Republic of China.

According to Fan, the digital renminbi is legally compensatory to the traditional fiat currency. In the article, the deputy governor outlined that the digital RMB is “mainly positioned” as M0, which means that the digital currency is part of the supply of paper notes and coins. As such, the digital RMB “needs to comply with laws and regulations related to cash management”, Fan said.

The deputy governor went on to say that according to the renminbi's indemnity provisions, the digital renminbi could be used to pay “all public and private debts within the territory of our country.” Fan emphasized that the digital currency should be accepted everywhere in the country, and “no unit or individual may refuse to accept it if the conditions are met.”

Fan also said that the digital renminbi must comply with laws and regulations on cash management, Anti-Money Laundering and combatting terrorist financing.

The digital yuan is reportedly being piloted in a number of regions in China including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, as well as the Hong Kong Greater Bay area. In late August, Reuters reported that the PBoC is planning to use the digital currency at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

China’s national blockchain project to support DAML smart contract language

Digital Asset’s DAML will connect diverse blockchains on a national DLT project in China.

The Blockchain Services Network (BSN), the largest blockchain infrastructure initiative in China, now has a unified smart contract programming language.

Red Date Technology, a major tech company involved in the BSN's development, will add support for DAML — a smart contract language developed by American blockchain startup Digital Asset.

Announcing the news on Sept. 14, the companies’ executives said that DAML will now be the “exclusive standard” for developing decentralized applications, or DApps, on top of the BSN.

The integration will enable the interoperability of DApps regardless of the implemented blockchain network. As such, developers will not have to rewrite their smart contracts each time they deploy a certain application on BSN to a new platform based on another blockchain.

According to the announcement, Red Date Technology and Digital Asset are planning to complete the first DAML pilot on the BSN by November 2020. The pilot will involve the deployment of a DAML application interoperating two blockchains — IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric and WeBank’s FISCO BCOS.

The application will further be integrated into the core BSN architecture, the firms’ representatives said. Following the pilot, general availability for developers building with DAML on BSN is anticipated in 2021.

Red Date Technology CEO Yifan He said that DAML will now act as the exclusive smart contract language of the BSN:

By selecting DAML as the exclusive smart contract language of the BSN itself, our developers will gain the choice of using one unifying smart contract language seamlessly and interoperably across every blockchain."

Digital Asset co-founder and CEO Yuval Rooz emphasized that connecting global blockchain platforms is a “key to global adoption,” stating:

“There are multiple blockchain platforms available and more coming to market [...] BSN already has incredible traction with more than 130 nodes in production across China. By integrating with DAML, the BSN will have one unified language for applications and a cutting-edge interoperability protocol to further enable this vision.”

Piloted in late 2019, the BSN is a state-backed initiative intended to support medium-sized businesses in building and deploying blockchain applications. As reported by Cointelegraph, the BSN will integrate stablecoin support in 2021 to unlock payment methods for various services on the BSN ecosystem.

Earlier this year, WeBank — a private Chinese neobank founded by Tencent — started exploring the integration of the DAML language for its consortium blockchain FISCO BCOS.

Hong Kong’s BTC association pushes ‘Bitcoin Tram’ ad campaign

Another massive Bitcoin ad rolls out in Hong Kong, urging citizens to “be their own bank.”

The Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, a major local alliance promoting crypto awareness and education, is launching the “Bitcoin Tram” ad campaign in Hong Kong; one of the world’s main global financial centres.

According to a Sept. 11 announcement, the new ad campaign composes three double-decker trams fully covered with Bitcoin logos and ads alongside 20 similarly-designed billboards across the city.

Hong Kong’s Bitcoin Association said in the announcement that the “educational campaign” was initiated by the Hong Kong Bitcoin community and is coordinated by the association. The campaign is financed with donations from the community, the non-profit added.

According to the public statement, the “Bitcoin Tram” campaign is scheduled to run between Sept. 11 and Oct. 8, while billboards in the city are due Oct. 1.

The ad campaign is expected to contribute to the global adoption of digitized economy, as the announcement reads:

“We hope the campaign will give us the opportunity to discuss how Bitcoin fits into a quickly digitizing global economy, the opportunities and dangers of drastic technological advancements and the implications of digital, verifiable scarcity.”

Alongside Bitcoin logos, the “Bitcoin Tram” ad campaign also includes some statements and quotes promoting Bitcoin usage. Some of the quotes belong to American writer Stewart Brand and famous United States Navy officer T.A.M. Craven. “More U.S. Dollars have been printed in 2020 than were in existence in 2009. There will only ever be 21 million Bitcoin,” one of the statements reads.

According to a Sept. 11 tweet by OKEx CEO Jay Hao, there are Bitcoin ads right in front of HSBC headquarters. The attached photograph shows that the ads urge Hong Kong citizens to “be their own bank.”

As reported by Cointelegraph, HSBC was allegedly among a number of global banks scrutinizing their Hong Kong clients amid the protests over China-backed national security law.

Cointelegraph reached out to the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong to find out more details about the Bitcoin promotion campaign. This article will be updated pending any new information from the association.

The massive Bitcoin ads in Hong Kong come shortly after another big Bitcoin ad was spotted in Apple Daily, a HK-based tabloid-style newspaper, in late August 2020. The full-page ad for Bitcoin promised that “Bitcoin will never ditch you.”

Russia’s crypto law is a mixed bag, according to industry execs

Crypto businesses are unsure how to react to new regulations in the Russian Federation.

Russia’s new cryptocurrency-related law, “On Digital Financial Assets,” or DFA, seems to have had little impact on the local cryptocurrency industry so far.

In its current form, the DFA law essentially provides legal status to digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC), but prohibits their use for payments in Russia.

As the DFA law is poised to be officially adopted in less than four months, Cointelegraph talked to major crypto firms operating in Russia to get their take on how the new law can impact their business. 

Based on comments from executives at companies like Binance, Waves, Paxful, LocalBitcoins, and Wirex, companies aren't exactly scrambling to adapt to the new law, largely due to its ambiguous language.

Many in the industry don't understand the new law

Anton Kozlov, head of the Russian market at Paxful, said that the DFA law has caused a lot of confusion. “Unfortunately, we could not say with certainty that the new law is clear to the industry,” Kozlov said. The executive added that the full impact of the new legislation “is not entirely understood by the industry players.”

Despite the apparent regulatory uncertainty associated with the law, Paxful does not expect it to affect its business because payments is not the core service on the platform:

“Most of the people on the Paxful platform are exchanging cryptocurrency and looking for arbitrage opportunities in the market.”

As reported, Paxful saw a massive spike of interest from Russian users this year. According to Paxful data, the platform’s crypto peer-to-peer (P2P) trading in Russia surged as high as 350% on a year-over-year basis. According to Kozlov, the main reason for the surge is the weak status of Russia’s national currency, the Russian ruble, which “is not a very attractive savings option.” 

“Crypto and P2P markets especially, can help solve these personal finance problems and offer people alternative ways to financial freedom, which is why we are seeing a spike in Russian interest on our platform,” he said.

Alexander Ivanov, founder and director of Waves Platform, said that the law has essentially no impact on the industry due to the lack of regulatory clarity:

“The law is hardly clear to the majority of players in the crypto and blockchain industry [...] At this point, the law is having neither a negative nor a positive impact on the Russian crypto industry, mostly because there's no explicit ban on crypto assets, which is the most important.”

Ivanov also noted that regulatory uncertainty is a major impediment to the development of the fast-growing industry of decentralized finance, or DeFi. “Against the backdrop of overall growth in the DeFi segment, an absence of a clear status or rules of the game for cryptocurrencies can be seen as an obstacle to the development of this industry and the Russian economy at large,” Ivanov said.

Shifting to new business models is not a deterrent 

Dominique Simon, global general counsel at British crypto payment processor Wirex said that the firm does not anticipate any big changes in its business. “Facilitating crypto payments is only one part of the services we provide at Wirex and disabling this feature will not discourage us from providing services to Russian customers,” Simon stated.

Simon also stressed that at least some regulation is better than nothing, claiming that the DFA law is a “big step towards business certainty and security for our customers.” 

He said, “We remain optimistic about providing our services to Russian customers, and once there is more clarity about the licensing regime, we will do our best to navigate the new framework and continue to establish a strong presence in the Russian market.”

On May 19, Wirex launched crypto purchases with fiat credit and debit cards in Russia, allowing users to buy Bitcoin and Ether (ETH) through Visa and MasterCard.

Some see the DFA law as a cause for celebration 

Jukka Blomberg, CMO at Finland-based P2P crypto trading platform LocalBitcoins, is confident about the new law, stating, “We welcome the new legislation and see it as positive for Bitcoin and the whole cryptocurrency industry in general.” 

According to Blomberg, LocalBitcoins has not seen significant changes on its platform since the law was passed. “Yet the official endorsement to allow people to buy and sell cryptos certainly excites us and definitely creates new opportunities for us as well as the other players in the industry,” he said. As reported, Russia was the top market for LocalBitcoins this year as of June 2020.

Binance still plans to launch its crypto card in Russia

Despite Russia being poised to officially ban cryptocurrency payments in 2021, Binance is still planning to launch its Binance Card in the country. Gleb Kostarev, Binance’s head of operations for Russia and the CIS, announced the plans to Cointelegraph on Sept. 7.

However, Kostarev said that Binance is not ready to either announce the anticipated launch date or provide any legal comment on the issue so far.

Binance’s plans to launch its card amid the upcoming crypto payment ban is probably the best example of the industry’s feedback to the country’s crypto legislation in its current form. The world’s largest crypto exchange is not going to give up its plans despite the law stipulating the following:

“In the Russian Federation, it is prohibited to distribute information about offering and accepting digital currency as a counterpart provision for transferred goods, rendered work (services) or any other method that allows one to pay in digital currency for goods (work, services).”

According to Kostarev, the current version of the law is “fairly neutral” and does not fully cover all aspects of cryptocurrency regulation. The adopted version of the law also “did not affect Binance's business in any way,” he said.

As reported, Russia is preparing to pass another law called “On Digital Currency,” or DC, in late 2020. In contrast to the DFA law, the DC bill will purportedly provide an actual regulatory framework for using crypto in Russia. On Sept. 3, Russia’s Ministry of Finance proposed to amend the DFA law to ban all crypto transactions except through inheritance, bankruptcy and enforcement proceedings.

Russian blockchain voting system shows up on GitHub

The Russian government keeps betting on blockchain for elections.

As Russia is set to pilot a blockchain-based e-voting system, the country’s federal elections authority has provided public access to the platform’s source code.

According to an official announcement by Russia’s Central Election Commission, or CEC, the source code for the e-voting system was partly released on GitHub on Sept. 7.

The initial release included the source code for smart contracts and front-end elements of the e-voting platform like developer libraries and servers responsible for the vote count.

According to the CEC, the internal elements of the e-voting platform are expected to be published on Sept. 10. At the time of publication, the internal part of the code is purportedly still not released, although latest publications on GitHub were released on Sept. 7.

Russia is set to pilot its blockchain-powered voting system at the upcoming elections for the State Duma, which is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia.

Scheduled for Sept. 13, the Duma elections were originally expected to come no earlier than September 2021. The elections, which also include other federal offices, come shortly after Russia piloted its blockchain-voting system during a vote on constitutional amendments in summer 2020.

Entering into force on July 4, the amendments allow President Vladimir Putin to serve two more six-year terms until 2036. At the vote, the blockchain system reportedly suffered a number of bugs as well as major data breaches.

As reported by Cointelegraph, the upcoming e-voting system was developed in collaboration between Russia’s state-owned telecommunications provider Rostelecom and major local blockchain company, Waves Enterprise. 

Belarusian crypto exchange looks to Lithuania amid political turmoil

A major crypto company is offering outs to its employees as the situation in Belarus grows more tense.

Amid the ongoing political unrest in Belarus, some local cryptocurrency-related companies are reportedly setting up backup offices in neighboring countries.

Currency.com, a Minsk-headquartered crypto trading company, is reportedly planning to open an office in Lithuania to provide a safe place for its employees.

According to a Sept. 8 report by local news agency TUT.BY, Currency.com is offering its Belarus-based employees to “take a sabbatical” in Vilnius amid election-fueled unrest.

Cryptocurrency. com CEO Jonathan Squires reportedly said that the company will maintain its offices in Minsk, while relocation is voluntary. “We expect that most employees who wish to relocate will be able to do so in the near future,” Squires noted.

Squires also said that Currency.com’s employees are free to either take part in local protests or refrain from participating. However, the staff is reportedly advised not to wear Currency.com or Capital.com-branded clothing in public. Capital.com is Currency.com’s sister platform, regulated by the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority and the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.

As reported, Currency.com’s decision to choose Lithuania was a natural move as the firm has a lot of connections in the country. Vilnius is also located about 120 miles from Minsk.

Cointelegraph reached out to Currency.com with additional queries but did not receive an immediate response. 

Belarus is home to a number of world-famous applications and games like Viber and World of Tanks. As Cointelegraph previously reported, the ongoing political unrest poses a threat to local IT and cryptocurrency projects

Companies in tech were heavily impacted by major internet outages that are supposedly linked to the government. As reported, 9.5 million people in Belarus did not have proper access to the internet on Aug. 9 — the day of the presidential election that resulted in Alexander Lukashenko’s claiming a sixth term with some 80% of the ballot.

Protests following the disputed presidential election have seen brutal blowback from police, including reports of authorities torturing and even killing protestors.

On Aug. 25, TUT.BY also reported that many Minsk-based employees of the Russian internet giant Yandex had to relocate to Russia following police raids on the company’s offices in Belarus.

Belarusian crypto exchange looks to Lithuania amid political turmoil

A major crypto company is offering outs to its employees as the situation in Belarus grows more tense.

Amid the ongoing political unrest in Belarus, some local cryptocurrency-related companies are reportedly setting up backup offices in neighboring countries.

Currency.com, a Minsk-headquartered crypto trading company, is reportedly planning to open an office in Lithuania to provide a safe place for its employees.

According to a Sept. 8 report by local news agency TUT.BY, Currency.com is offering its Belarus-based employees to “take a sabbatical” in Vilnius amid election-fueled unrest.

Cryptocurrency. com CEO Jonathan Squires reportedly said that the company will maintain its offices in Minsk, while relocation is voluntary. “We expect that most employees who wish to relocate will be able to do so in the near future,” Squires noted.

Squires also said that Currency.com’s employees are free to either take part in local protests or refrain from participating. However, the staff is reportedly advised not to wear Currency.com or Capital.com-branded clothing in public. Capital.com is Currency.com’s sister platform, regulated by the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority and the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.

As reported, Currency.com’s decision to choose Lithuania was a natural move as the firm has a lot of connections in the country. Vilnius is also located about 120 miles from Minsk.

Cointelegraph reached out to Currency.com with additional queries but did not receive an immediate response. 

Belarus is home to a number of world-famous applications and games like Viber and World of Tanks. As Cointelegraph previously reported, the ongoing political unrest poses a threat to local IT and cryptocurrency projects

Companies in tech were heavily impacted by major internet outages that are supposedly linked to the government. As reported, 9.5 million people in Belarus did not have proper access to the internet on Aug. 9 — the day of the presidential election that resulted in Alexander Lukashenko’s claiming a sixth term with some 80% of the ballot.

Protests following the disputed presidential election have seen brutal blowback from police, including reports of authorities torturing and even killing protestors.

On Aug. 25, TUT.BY also reported that many Minsk-based employees of the Russian internet giant Yandex had to relocate to Russia following police raids on the company’s offices in Belarus.

DCG’s Foundry to finance Bitmain customers in North America

The new partnership targets Bitmain's end customers.

China’s crypto mining giant Bitmain has entered a new partnership to streamline its operations in North America.

As Bitmain officially announced on Sept. 10, the company has officially partnered with Foundry, a wholly-owned crypto mining subsidiary of major cryptocurrency firm, Digital Currency Group, or DCG. Within the partnership, Foundry will provide financing to Bitmain’s end customers in North America.

According to Bitmain, obtaining financing is more difficult for crypto miners than for firms in other industries. Foundry, in its turn, will help “ship a significant number of machines into North America this year,” according to Su Ke, the global sales and marketing director of Antminer at Bitmain.

The announcement comes shortly after DCG officially introduced Foundry in late August 2020. Formed in 2019, Foundry offers institutional expertise, capital and market intelligence to crypto miners and manufacturers. According to Bitmain, Foundry has emerged as “one of the largest Bitcoin miners in North America” and helped to procure “almost half of the Bitcoin mining” in the region in 2020.

Bitmain has been collaborating with the company “for some time,” a Bitmain representative said. According to the firm, Foundry’s efforts not only “breaks down barriers to entry and growth for mining businesses,” but also “strengthens the overall mining ecosystem.”

Revolut expands to Japan as its first non-English speaking market

Two big crypto companies enter Japan.

Revolut, a major European cryptocurrency-friendly trading application is expanding to another major market.

The London-based firm has launched its digital banking app in Japan, as Revolut announced in a Sept. 8 tweet.

According to a report by The Nikkei, Japan is the first non-English speaking market for Revolut. Headquartered in London, the company reportedly has 13 million users worldwide, operating in European countries, the United States, Australia and Singapore.

As reported, Revolut’s initial roll out in Japan will be limited to “international transfers” and “managing money in 23 currencies.” Registered users will also reportedly receive a Revolut-branded Visa debit card.

Cointelegraph reached out to Revolut to find out whether its crypto services are part of the initial launch in Japan but did not receive an immediate response. 

Revolut’s entrance into Japan comes shortly after the company was reported to triple its losses in 2019 despite a significant surge in new customers. Revolut founder and CEO Nik Storonsky reportedly said that aggressive global expansion was the primary reason behind the company’s massive losses last year. In October 2019, Revolut outlined its ambitious plans to expand across 24 new markets like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, the U.S. and Singapore.

Japan is apparently one of the most attractive markets for crypto-related companies as Revolut enters the country alongside another major crypto company. Kraken, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, officially announced on Sept. 8 that the exchange is coming back to Japan after terminating its services there in April 2018.

Binance crypto exchange delists its own token on Uganda platform

BNB seems to have failed to meet certain standards on Binance's Uganda platform.

The world’s largest exchange, Binance, is delisting its own token for trading against the Uganda shilling (UGX).

According to a Sept. 9 announcement, the Binance Uganda platform decided to delist and cease trading on all trading pairs for Binance’s native token, Binance Coin (BNB).

The BNB/UGX trading pair will be officially removed from Binance on Sept. 17, while BNB deposits will be terminated on Sept. 10, the exchange said. BNB withdrawals will be still available on Binance Uganda till Nov. 6, Binance noted.

Binance provided little information about the reasons behind the delistings, only stating that the BNB/UGX trading pair apparently did not meet the exchange’s “trading standard.” Apparently, the trading pair did not have sufficient trading volume and liquidity, according to Binance’s statement:

“At Binance.co.ug, we periodically review the trading volume and liquidity of the assets we list to make sure our high level of standard is met. Unfortunately, when this trading standard is not met, their performance is subject to review and may result in the delisting of the coin or token.”

Binance has not responded to Cointelegraph's request for comments at publishing time.