Bank of Russia Advises Stock Exchanges to Avoid Trading Crypto Instruments

Bank of Russia Advises Stock Exchanges to Avoid Trading Crypto Instruments

In line with its hardline stance on cryptocurrencies, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has issued a recommendation against the listing of securities tied to crypto assets on the country’s stock exchanges. The “preventive measure” will not affect state-issued digital currencies.

Bank of Russia Worried About Common Investors’ Exposure to Crypto Derivatives

Russia’s central banking institution, known as Bank of Russia, has again expressed its misgivings regarding decentralized money. Cryptocurrencies and digital assets are characterized by high volatility, lack of pricing transparency, low liquidity, technological, regulatory and other specific risks, the financial authority said this week, emphasizing:

The purchase of financial instruments linked to them entails increased risks of losses for people who do not have sufficient experience and knowledge.

The new warning came as part of a recently issued recommendation for Russian exchanges not to allow the trading of domestic or foreign securities, the dividend payments of which “depend on cryptocurrency rates.” Among the unwanted financial products, the bank further listed those tied to “prices of foreign digital financial assets, changes in cryptocurrency and crypto asset indices as well as the cost of crypto derivatives and securities of cryptocurrency funds.”

The regulator’s notice also refers to financial instruments connected to the prices of tokens, defined under the current Russian legislation as ‘digital rights,’ which are offered or accepted as a non-currency means of payment. These do not represent a Russian or foreign legal tender, or an international monetary unit and unit of account, the central bank stressed.

According to the advisory letter sent out by the Bank of Russia, asset managers should not include cryptocurrency assets in mutual funds. The CBR advised brokers and trustees to refrain from offering “pseudo-derivatives with such underlying assets to unqualified investors.”

Bank of Russia Advises Stock Exchanges to Avoid Trading Crypto Instruments

These recommendations are meant as a “preventive measure,” the Russian central bank noted in the announcement. “They are aimed at preventing the offering of such instruments to the mass investor,” the regulator emphasized.

Bank of Russia remarked the restrictions do not apply to national digital currencies issued by governments, or CBDCs. They won’t affect digital financial assets issued in accordance with Russian law and by information systems whose operators are registered with the Russian central bank, the institution added.

What’s your opinion about Bank of Russia’s position on crypto-related financial instruments? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ukraine Unveils Roadmap to Integrate Cryptocurrencies by 2024

Ukraine Unveils Roadmap to Integrate Cryptocurrencies by 2024

Government and business representatives have produced a roadmap to transform Ukraine into a leader in cryptocurrency integration. The authors of the new strategy want to see half of Ukrainians using digital currencies by 2024. The East European nation is expected to regulate its crypto space by the end of this year.

Strategy for Crypto Market Development Adopted in Ukraine

As a country where cryptocurrencies have enjoyed a growing popularity, Ukraine now also has a strategy to develop its virtual asset market within the next three years. The plan has been presented by officials from the Ministry of Digital Transformation, other government institutions and representatives of the private sector, Forklog reported.

Ukraine Unveils Roadmap to Integrate Cryptocurrencies by 2024

The roadmap envisages various regulatory, educational and infrastructural activities. Participants in the initiative have already established almost a dozen working groups to achieve a set of goals. One of the key areas they intend to focus efforts on is the introduction of a relevant legal terminology and the adoption of necessary by-laws.

To do that, however, Ukraine has to first adopt comprehensive legislation to govern its crypto industry. A draft law “On Virtual Assets” was voted through at the first reading in the Ukrainian parliament in December. Since then, the bill which aims to regulate cryptocurrency transactions in the country has been revised and in June the parliamentary Committee on Digital Transformation recommended its final adoption.

The authors of the development strategy hope this will happen by the end of the year. Ukrainian lawmakers will have to prepare rules for crypto taxation and approve an anti-money laundering (AML) policy for cryptocurrency exchanges and their users.

Other priorities in the roadmap include promotion of real asset tokenization as well as the launch of a pilot fiat-crypto gateway. Officials and entrepreneurs also want to create educational materials on cryptocurrencies and establish a sandbox for projects in the crypto ecosystem.

The Digital Transformation Ministry and the industry members aim to bring Ukraine into the top 10 countries with the highest level of cryptocurrency integration. They estimate that the roadmap will be successfully implemented if by 2024 at least 47% of Ukrainians use digital currencies, 10% of Ukrainian companies tokenize or employ tokenized assets, and the country’s educational institutions have launched a master’s program in decentralized finance.

What’s your opinion about the new Ukrainian crypto development strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.

South Korean Regulators Warn Dozens of Foreign Exchanges to Comply With New Rules

South Korean Regulators Warn Dozens of Foreign Exchanges to Comply With New Rules

Overseas crypto exchanges marketing to Koreans will be blocked if they fail to comply with new South Korean regulations. The country’s anti-money laundering body has sent a notice to a number of foreign trading platforms warning them a registration is mandatory in order to provide services to Korean residents.

Korean Financial Intelligence Unit Notifies Foreign Crypto Exchanges of Registration Obligations

Access to foreign-based cryptocurrency exchanges can be denied and the platforms may face criminal investigations in South Korea if they don’t comply with the country’s new regulations for the sector. One of the key requirements is to register with the Korean anti-money laundering agency, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), by Sept. 24.

To remind them of their obligations, FIU has sent out a notice to 27 entities with crypto trading operations targeting Korean nationals, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) announced Thursday, quoted by the Korea Herald. The regulations adopted earlier this year also require exchanges to have information security certificates, but none of them has obtained one yet, officials said.

The commission emphasized that foreign exchanges shall cease business operations in Korea as of Sept. 25 unless they register with the FIU. Unregistered activities will lead to penalties, including up to five years of imprisonment and a fine that can reach 50 million Korean won (over $43,000). In a statement sent to the parliamentary National Policy Committee, the FSC elaborated:

Business activities carried out by overseas cryptocurrency exchanges targeting local customers without reporting to the Financial Intelligence Unit — an anti-money laundering unit under the Financial Services Commission — are illegal under the revised Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information.

Compliance Deadline Approaching With Few Exchanges Meeting New Requirements

South Korea’s revised Special Funds Act took effect on March 25 but will be enforced in September after a six-month grace period. Another of its updated provisions requires cryptocurrency exchanges to cooperate with domestic banks on the issuance of real-name accounts for their users. While the country’s top four coin trading platforms — Bithumb, Upbit, Coinone, and Korbit — have secured partnerships with commercial banks, hundreds of smaller exchanges are facing closures.

South Korean Regulators Warn Dozens of Foreign Exchanges to Comply With New Rules

Korean banks fear exposure to money laundering, hacking, fraud, and other crypto-related risks. Under the new rules, they’ll be responsible for assessing a crypto platform’s transparency and the possibility of criminal activity. Requests to be relieved of liability for offenses committed through the crypto exchanges they work with was reportedly rejected by Korean regulators earlier this month.

According to the Korea Herald, the FSC is planning to send guidelines regarding the new regulations to foreign crypto operators providing services in the country. “If overseas cryptocurrency exchanges serve local customers with the won-currency settlement, they must register with the FIU and comply with the government’s guidelines to prevent money laundering,” FSC Chairman Eun Sung-soo told lawmakers last week.

South Korea’s financial regulator is hardening its stance on foreign crypto service providers after authorities in a number of other jurisdictions, including Italy, Lithuania, the U.K., Japan, Germany, and Poland issued warnings against Binance, the world’s leading digital asset trading platform. New regulatory measures regarding the exchange range from temporary suspension of operations to stricter reporting requirements, the Korean daily notes, revealing a growing global crackdown on the market.

What’s your opinion about the new South Korean regulations for cryptocurrency exchanges? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Future of Digital Euro ‘Not Clear Yet,’ Former Eurogroup Official Says

Future of Digital Euro ‘Not Clear Yet,’ Former Eurogroup Official Says

Europe’s digital currency project has made some progress recently, with the Eurozone’s central bank moving to its next stage. Critics point, however, to the continuing lack of clarity around the design and purpose of the digital euro after a decade-long delay, if cryptocurrency is taken as a benchmark.

Digital Euro to ‘Feel Like a Prepaid Card of Sorts’

A week after the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to proceed with its plan to create a digital version of the euro, experts have voiced concerns about its unclear future. On July 14, the Governing Council of the ECB approved the launch of the project’s next, “investigation phase.” The stage is going to last 24 months during which key issues regarding design and distribution should be addressed.

But according to Hugo Coelho, former chief of staff to Eurogroup President Mario Centeno and partner at Forefront, “the outcome is not clear yet and might not be for a long time.” The Eurogroup is the informal but politically important meeting of finance ministers of the 19 EU member states that have adopted the common currency. Speaking to Euractiv, Coelho elaborated:

For the moment the digital euro remains flagrantly ill-defined … it might well be the case that the first version of the digital euro will feel like a prepaid card of sorts and make little difference to our day-to-day lives, but it could change gradually.

What’s known so far is that the digital euro is supposed to represent euro notes and coins in electronic form. Unlike present-day bank money, however, it will be stored directly in accounts issued by the ECB, and not at commercial banks. The central bank intends to use it as an additional payment instrument but has also stated that replacing traditional cash is not the goal.

ECB Losing Game to Cryptocurrencies and Stablecoins

By default, the digital euro should be safer than the private sector banking system, Euractiv remarks, as a commercial bank could become insolvent, a remote but nevertheless real possibility. “In the collective mind, the ECB is the ultimate guarantee,” Netinvestissement co-founder Karl Toussaint du Wast told the publication. What’s more, using the CBDC is expected to be free of charge, with payments made through a card issued by the ECB or a smartphone application.

Commenting on the start of the investigation phase, ECB President Christine Lagarde stated last week that the “encouraging results” from the analysis and experiments conducted over the last nine months have led the central bank to “decide to move up a gear and start the digital euro project.” Toussaint du Wast described the move as “desperate and hopeless,” emphasizing:

The ECB has lost the game … the innovation and growth power of projects developed on blockchain, including cryptos, having been 10 years ahead.

One of the main motives behind the digital euro project is the desire of the European Central Bank to keep a grip on currency sovereignty, Euractiv notes, and the ECB isn’t going to admit defeat. In this situation, stablecoins backed by fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the euro are the “first enemy” to the digital euro, according to Toussaint du Wast.

By all indications, the euro’s electronic incarnation is likely to appear after Facebook’s “diem” coin, for example. Earlier this year, the ECB requested to be granted veto powers over the launch of such stablecoins in the Eurozone, citing the need to preserve control over inflation and maintain the safety of payments in the single currency area.

Do you think the digital euro will be able to successfully compete with stablecoins and cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

China Offers Medics Digital Yuan Insurance Policy for Covid-19

China Offers Medics Digital Yuan Insurance Policy for Covid-19

China’s first insurance policy using the digital yuan for settlement has been issued in Shenzhen, local media reported. The new product, targeting medical personnel exposed to coronavirus risks, is offered by the country’s largest insurer, Ping An. The financial giant also has fintech and healthtech entities under its umbrella.

Ping An Teams Up With Bank of China to Offer Digital Yuan Insurance Policy

In what has been described as another major step towards wider deployment of China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), the first digital yuan-settled insurance policies have been launched in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. They come as the result of cooperation between the local subsidiary of Ping An Property Insurance and the Bank of China’s branch in the city, the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported.

China Offers Medics Digital Yuan Insurance Policy for Covid-19

The new insurance product is oriented towards medical staff in Shenzhen’s Nanshan district. The policy provides 300,000 yuan (over $46,000) in coverage for death resulting from Covid-19 infection, the Global Times English-language newspaper detailed in an article.

Insured healthcare workers are also eligible to receive 50,000 yuan (around $7,700) if they are diagnosed with Covid and the same amount of money in case of accidental death. Those who pay for their insurance policies using a digital yuan wallet will also get an exclusive preferential allowance, the publication added.

Ping An’s offering represents a pilot implementation of the Chinese digital fiat in the insurance market. The Chinese giant intends to also explore the application of the digital RMB in claims, payments, and other insurance scenarios, according to a representative of its Shenzhen office. Wang Peng, an assistant professor at the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence, Renmin University, commented:

[The move] aims to cultivate user habits for a broader range of application scenarios, as the previous trials mostly targeted e-commerce and online payments.

Shenzhen is one of several major cities participating in a government campaign to promote the use of the digital yuan through red envelope giveaways and lotteries, the others being Suzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. China has so far handed out $40 million in digital yuan in red envelopes, as Bitcoin.com News reported earlier this month, $35 million of which has been dispersed in these five metropolitan areas.

Public testing of the digital yuan started in Shenzhen in mid-October when the local government and the People’s Bank of China distributed 50,000 red envelopes, each loaded with 200 digital yuan. The handouts were reportedly part of China’s first experiment of this kind.

Do you think medical workers in Shenzhen will take advantage of the new digital yuan insurance policy? Tell us in the comments section below.

Turkish Draft Law Regulating Cryptocurrencies Enters Parliament in October

Turkish Draft Law Regulating Cryptocurrencies Enters Parliament in October

The Turkish government has prepared a bill designed to implement new regulations for the country’s crypto space. The legislation, which will be filed in the parliament this fall, will introduce taxation for crypto holdings and specific capital requirements for companies operating with digital assets.

New Legislation to Regulate Turkey’s Crypto Market

Following in the footsteps of the West, Turkey is planning to soon put its crypto space in order. The work on a draft law aiming to strengthen investor protection, prevent dirty money laundering, and improve control over cryptocurrency trading has been completed, the Deputy Minister of Treasury and Finance Şakir Ercan Gül announced.

Quoted by the Sabah daily, Gül noted that the Turkish regulations will be similar to those that are being introduced in Western Europe and the United States, although a “little more stringent,” the official remarked, citing the country’s free-floating exchange rate regime as a factor. Speaking to the parliamentary Planning and Budget Committee, Gül stated:

Those that ban [cryptocurrencies] are generally countries with democracy problems. There are free mechanisms in Western Europe and America.

In October, the new bill will be submitted to the parliament in Ankara. Like some European jurisdictions, the Turkish government intends to introduce taxation for cryptocurrency holdings above a given threshold. Lawmakers will review various proposals such as introducing mandatory reporting for crypto transfers over a certain value to the country’s tax office.

Turkish Crypto Companies to Meet Capital Requirements

The new legislation will also define the different types of crypto assets and deal with matters related to the issuance and distribution of digital coins. The draft law lists key principles traders should abide by and conditions under which crypto platforms may provide custodial services for digital currencies. Businesses will be given time to adapt to the new regulatory framework.

Companies involved in the crypto economy will also have to meet minimum capital requirements, the deputy finance minister revealed. The Capital Markets Board of Turkey will take responsibility for the oversight of their activities. The Financial Crimes Investigation Board will be tasked with establishing a surveillance mechanism for consumer protection, preserving market integrity and competition.

Turkey, which is one of the nations where cryptocurrencies have gained significant popularity, prohibited the use of digital assets for payments in April with a regulation issued by the central bank. The measure was enforced as the Turkish lira kept depreciating for months. Following the ban, Ankara updated its existing crypto regulations, adding coin exchanges to a list of entities governed by its anti-money laundering rules.

What do you think about the proposed crypto regulations in Turkey? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Majority of Institutions to Hold Digital Assets in Near Future, Survey Suggests

Majority of Institutions to Hold Digital Assets in Near Future, Survey Suggests

Most institutional investors look forward to adding digital assets to their portfolios, in spite of concerns over crypto market volatility. More than half of the respondents in a new survey conducted by Fidelity’s crypto subsidiary have revealed they already have digital asset investments.

Poll Confirms Strong Institutional Interest in Digital Assets

Despite the uncertain regulatory environment in the crypto space, 70% of institutional investors are likely to acquire digital assets in the near future, a study carried out for Fidelity Digital Assets has indicated. Price volatility remains a major obstacle to capital inflow, yet 90% of these respondents expect their firms and clients to buy cryptocurrency or make other crypto-related investments within the next five years.

The survey has been conducted by Coalition Greenwich among 1,100 institutional investors between December last year and April 2021. High net worth investors, family offices, digital and traditional hedge funds, financial advisors, and endowments were polled, Reuters detailed in a report. Over half of them said they had already invested in digital assets, either via direct purchase of cryptocurrency and related investment products or through acquisition of stocks of crypto companies.

This and other recent studies have confirmed a stable mainstream interest in crypto asset investments. A global poll released in June indicated that hedge funds are also planning to significantly increase their exposure to digital assets during the same five-year period.

In a vote of confidence, 100 CFOs said their funds would hold an average of 7.2% of their assets in cryptocurrency by 2026, or over an estimated $300 billion. That’s despite the decline in crypto prices and trading activity in past months, with the leading cryptocurrency, bitcoin (BTC), losing 50% of its market cap since April.

The participants in the poll ordered by Fidelity pointed to price volatility as the main barrier to potential investors that want to enter the crypto market. Another obstacle cited in the report is the lack of fundamentals necessary to assess the value of these assets, followed by concerns over possible market manipulation.

A JPMorgan survey of around 3,000 investors showed last month that an overwhelming majority of them (95%) believe fraud is prevalent in the crypto world, with only 10% of these professionals trading cryptocurrencies at the moment. As private investors, however, 40% of the respondents admitted to being active in the crypto market.

What’s your opinion about the survey results released by Fidelity Digital Assets? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Russian Crypto Industry Scrambles to Attract Miners as Kazakhstan Overtakes Russia in Mining Volume

Russian Crypto Industry Scrambles to Attract Miners as Kazakhstan Overtakes Russia by Mining Volume

An industry association representing the Russian crypto sector has launched a project to entice bitcoin miners. Despite its abundant sources of cheap energy, Russia is now lagging behind Kazakhstan, another Eurasian Economic Union member, in terms of cryptocurrency production.

Russian Project Aims to Expand Country’s Crypto Mining Capacity

The Russian Association of Crypto Industry and Blockchain (Racib) has unveiled a project to bring a larger portion of the global computing potential engaged in cryptocurrency mining to Russia. The Russian Federation, Racib noted in an announcement, ranks among the top five nations by total electricity production. What’s more, the country’s energy system features unique characteristics that can benefit enterprises involved in the minting of digital coins.

Russian Crypto Industry Scrambles to Attract Miners as Kazakhstan Overtakes Russia in Mining Volume

Racib has listed a number of them, including the large surplus of power-generating capacity which reaches 50% in certain regions. The colder Russian climate is another advantage as it allows the cooling of mining equipment at little cost, thus improving the efficiency of data centers. Add to that the wide availability of traditional fuels and other energy resources, as well as the low population density in many areas that makes it possible to deploy large-scale facilities and infrastructure. Racib emphasizes:

All this … provides the best conditions for the formation of specialized clusters in the country to support the global cryptocurrency networks and the infrastructure of the global digital economy.

The crypto association says it will implement the project in close cooperation with central and regional Russian authorities and state-run corporations. Several working groups have been established already with the participation of the energy industry and public institutions. The organization claims its main foreign partner in the project is a “consortium of the largest mining companies in China.”

Amid an ongoing crackdown on crypto miners in the People’s Republic, Racib hopes some of them will transfer their computing power to the Russian Federation to increase Russia’s share of the global hashrate.

Kazakhstan Overtakes Russia as Crypto Mining Destination

Environmental concerns are believed to be a major motive behind Beijing’s squeeze on crypto mining and Racib thinks Russia has an answer. Eco-friendly hydro and nuclear energy sources form around 40% of the country’s energy balance. And as far as Bitcoin is concerned, Russia’s involvement in the miners’ migration from China should “provide a more decentralized network format of the main digital currency” and help “avoid another concentration of mining resources in one region, in this case North America.”

Chinese miners are already on the move, however, and Russia should hurry up if it wants to lure some of them to its territory. Others have been quicker to take advantage of the shift, including Kazakhstan, another former Soviet Republic, and a member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Russian Crypto Industry Scrambles to Attract Miners as Kazakhstan Overtakes Russia in Mining Volume
Evolution of country share in global hashrate (monthly average). Source: University of Cambridge.

In less than two years, the Central Asian country has increased its share in the global bitcoin extraction by almost six times, from 1.4% to 8.2%, according to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge. By crypto mining volume, Kazakhstan is now third in the world, the data quoted by RBC (a major Russian business news portal) shows, overtaking Russia which ranks fourth with 6.8%.

During the same period, between September 2019 and April of 2021, China’s share has dropped from 75.5% to 46%, while the United States has climbed to second place, increasing its share from 4.1% to 16.8%, the report details. According to the research, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now fifth with 4.6%. Still, Russia has a chance to improve its position as Kazakhstan recently introduced a surcharge for electricity consumed by miners despite opposition from the local crypto industry.

Do you think Russia will be able to attract cryptocurrency miners to its jurisdiction? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Bithumb Terminates Trademark Agreements With 2 Foreign-Based Exchanges

Bithumb Terminates Trademark Agreements With 2 Foreign-Based Exchanges

Leading Korean crypto exchange Bithumb is terminating its trademark agreements with two coin trading platforms operating abroad under its brand name. The move comes as digital asset exchanges in South Korea prepare to comply with the country’s stricter regulations for the industry that will be enforced in September.

Bithumb Global and Bithumb Singapore to Change Their Brand Names as Bithumb Ends Trademark Agreements

Two cryptocurrency exchanges, Bithumb Global and Bithumb Singapore, will not be able to use the Bithumb brand name and trademark starting from the last day of this month. Bithumb Korea Co., Ltd., operator of the leading South Korean digital currency platform, announced its decision to terminate the Trademark License Agreements with the two entities.

According to the preliminary notice published this week, the termination date for the contracts has been set to Friday, July 30, 2021. The non-exclusive trademark license agreements apply to the usage of the Bithumb logos and trademark, Bithumb detailed in the press release. The Korean company emphasized:

Please be aware that the said exchanges shall not use Bithumb’s brand and trademark after the expiration date, and they need to use their own brand and trademark thereafter.

The South Korean exchange pointed out that the two platforms have been operating as independent overseas service providers, separate from Bithumb Korea. Bithumb Global and Bithumb Singapore only borrowed Bithumb Korea’s brand and trademark “to promote their initial business reputation through the usage of the Bithumb brand.”

Bithumb is a major digital asset exchange and with a score of 8.1, and it currently ranks first in South Korea and eighth in the world, according to Coinmarketcap’s Top Cryptocurrency Spot Exchanges list. The platform now has a daily trading volume of more than $550 million. Earlier in July, Bithumb Korea banned its employees from trading cryptocurrency and announced it will no longer accept registrations of overseas users starting from Aug. 13.

Korean Crypto Exchanges Face Regulatory Challenges

In the past few months, Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have been dealing with various challenges due to the changing regulatory environment in the country. Amendments to South Korea’s Special Funds Act, which went into effect this spring, require them to partner with local banks to ensure traders are issued real-name accounts by Sept. 24, when the new rules will be enforced.

However, leading banking institutions have been reluctant to work with the coin trading platforms, fearing exposure to money laundering, hacking, fraud, and other risks related to cryptocurrencies. Only the four largest exchanges – Bithumb, Upbit, Coinone, and Korbit – have so far managed to establish such cooperation with commercial banks. NH Nonghyup Bank provides services to Bithumb.

Hundreds of smaller exchanges may have to close down in September, as the Financial Services Commission Chairman Eun Sung-soo warned in April, if they fail to secure a partnership agreement with a bank. Addressing the upcoming stricter regulations, a number of platforms, including Bithumb, have started to delist some “high-risk” digital coins and issue warning lists with others.

What do you think about Bithumb’s decision to terminate its trademark license agreements with Bithumb Global and Bithumb Singapore? Tell us in the comments section below.

Ukraine’s ‘Largest Illegal’ Mining Facility May Have Been a FIFA Bot Farm

Ukraine’s ‘Largest Illegal’ Mining Facility May Have Been a FIFA Bot Farm

A data center busted by Ukrainian law enforcement this month for suspected electricity theft may have had a purpose different from mining cryptocurrencies. Ukraine’s security service described the facility as the “largest underground crypto farm” found to date but media reports are challenging that assertion.

Ukrainian Company Files Complaints Against SBU Raid on Its Facility

Earlier in July, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced it uncovered a crypto mining farm that had been powered with stolen energy in the city of Vinnytsia. Officers seized around 5,000 units of hardware, including 3,800 gaming consoles and 500 video cards, from a former warehouse of Vinnytsiaoblenerho. The local electric utility allegedly suffered losses of up to $256,000.

The illegal mining facility, the law enforcement agency said, was operated by residents of Vinnytsia and the capital Kyiv. According to an article by Ain.ua, the confiscated equipment belongs to a company called MMI Engineering which is engaged in software development, network maintenance, and AI training. Its lawyers contacted the news outlet and accused the SBU of spreading false information.

Ukraine’s ‘Largest Illegal’ Mining Facility May Have Been a FIFA Bot Farm
Source: MMI Engineering

The IT firm claims it buys its electricity from JSC Vinnytsiaoblenerho and the area’s grid operator, Enera Vinnytsia Ltd., paying its bills at commercial rates and in accordance with the meter readings. It also rents the premises hosting its hardware from a company called Alfa Energy which is the current owner of the warehouse.

Meanwhile, Vinnytsiaoblenerho released a statement, according to which the warehouse has never been occupied by a cryptocurrency farm. Its employees were also unable to detect any signs of electricity theft during an investigation conducted with representatives of the regional branch of Ukraine’s State Inspectorate for Energy Supervision. The utility emphasized:

The information about multimillion dollar thefts of electricity does not correspond to reality.

MMI Engineering said the seized equipment costs about 30 million Ukrainian hryvnia (over $1 million) and it’s now trying to get it back. The company added that the SBU raid has paralyzed its operations and its lawyers have already filed official complaints with the Pechersk District Court and the Prosecutor General’s Office in Kyiv.

Suspected Crypto Mining Farm Turns Out to Be Minting In-Game Currency

The Ukrainian entity, which is owned by the UAE-based firm Zafar Technology, did not provide any details regarding the specific use of its computer equipment. Playstation 4 Slims gaming consoles and discs have been spotted in the photographs released by the SBU on June 8. And although it’s generally possible to mine cryptos with them, many in Ukraine believe it’s more likely the consoles have been used for gaming-related applications.

Ukraine’s ‘Largest Illegal’ Mining Facility May Have Been a FIFA Bot Farm

The evidence suggests that the facility in Vinnytsia could have been a gaming bot farm rather than a crypto mining one. According to an investigative report by the Ukrainian business portal Delo.ua, the bot farm may have been used for grinding. That’s when gamers employ software to perform repetitive tasks in gameplay that reward the player with something valuable in the particular scenario like gaining experience points, for example, or raising a character’s level. The SBU declined to comment on the possible use of the hardware citing the ongoing investigation.

Delo is quoting an unnamed source from the SBU, who reportedly said that the Playstations were used for “pumping bots” for FIFA, EA Games’ famous soccer video game series. In FIFA’s popular Ultimate Team mode, gamers can gather a team of favorite players and compete against each other online.

They can either spend real cash on loot boxes that give them a limited chance of obtaining high-value cards, Eurogamer explains, or play for months in order to save enough FUT coins, the in-game currency, to spend on the FIFA auction house. It appears the PS4 consoles in the Ukrainian bot farm have been grinding to create accounts loaded with FUT money that can be subsequently sold to gamers, likely on the black market.

What do you think about the case of the alleged crypto mining farm in Vinnytsia? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Binance Quits Stock Token Trading as Hong Kong Adds to Mounting Regulatory Pressure

Binance Quits Stock Tokens Trading as Hong Kong Adds to Mounting Regulatory Pressure

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced it will no longer support the trading of stock tokens. The decision comes against the backdrop of an ongoing regulatory crackdown, with Hong Kong becoming the latest to declare that the platform is not licensed to provide such services in its jurisdiction.

Stock Tokens No Longer Available for Purchase on Binance.com

Binance, the world’s leading digital asset exchange by daily volume, is ceasing support for stock tokens. The coin trading platform explained that the move is part of its continuous evaluation of products, but it also comes amid an increasing pressure on the exchange from regulators around the world. On Friday, the crypto company said:

Today, we are announcing that we will be winding down support for stock tokens on Binance.com to shift our commercial focus to other product offerings.

The exchange pointed out that the suspension is “effective immediately,” with stock tokens already unavailable for purchase on Binance.com. The platform will not support any stock tokens after Oct. 14, 2021 but investors will be able to hold and sell them over the next 90 days.

The announcement further details that “all stock token positions on Binance.com will be closed at 2021-10-15 13:30 (UTC).” Binance said the closing prices will be based on actual executed prices after the market opens for trading on Oct. 15. It warned these may be different from the rates registered a day earlier. A Binance spokesperson was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as stating:

We believe that shifting our commercial focus to other product offerings will better serve our users for the long term.

Residents of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will have an option to transfer their stock tokens to a new portal to be launched by CM-Equity AG in early October. The transition will be subject to additional know-your-customer (KYC) procedures, Binance added, noting that all stock tokens listed on Binance.com are products issued and sold by the Germany-based CM-Equity.

Hong Kong Securities Commission Warns Against Stock Token Purchases on Binance

Binance’s decision coincides with a growing number of regulators expressing concerns over the exchange offering tokenized stocks among other products and services without authorization. The list includes regulatory bodies in Italy, Lithuania, the U.K., Japan, and Germany where the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, Bafin, said earlier this year that tokens linked to stocks of companies like Tesla represent securities, if they can be transferred and traded on a cryptocurrency exchange.

Binance Quits Stock Tokens Trading as Hong Kong Adds to Mounting Regulatory Pressure

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) became the latest agency to issue a warning against Binance. On Friday, the regulator said it’s “aware that Binance has offered trading services in stock tokens in a number of jurisdictions and is concerned that these services may also be offered to Hong Kong investors.” The SFC emphasized that “no entity in the Binance group is licensed or registered to conduct ‘regulated activity’ in Hong Kong.”

The commission elaborated that stock tokens are likely to be “securities” under the Securities and Futures Ordinance of the Chinese special administrative region. And if that’s the case, they should be subject to the regulatory remit of the SFC.

The regulator warned that the marketing and distribution of such tokens, “whether in Hong Kong or targeting Hong Kong investors,” constitute a “regulated activity” and require a license. Anyone offering stock tokens in the city without registration may face criminal charges, the securities commission stressed, urging potential investors to be “extremely careful” with stock token purchases on unregulated platforms.

What’s your opinion about the current regulatory pressure on crypto exchange Binance? Tell us in the comments section below.

Hong Kong Busts Money Laundering Ring Using Tether to Wash Millions

Hong Kong Busts Money Laundering Ring Using Tether to Wash Millions

Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested four people suspected of money laundering a total of $155 million through cryptocurrency wallets and bank accounts. The city’s customs agency said this was its first case in which virtual money had been used to launder dirty cash.

Money Laundering Syndicate Recycles $155 Million in Crypto and Fiat Transactions

The criminal group is believed to have processed illegal funds for a total of 1.2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($155 million), Hong Kong Customs announced Thursday. In an operation code-named “Coin Breaker,” officers detained the suspected ring leader and three other residents of China’s special administrative region.

The money laundering syndicate started its criminal activities last year and has been using three shell companies. The entities opened e-wallet accounts with an unnamed digital asset platform to trade the stablecoin tether (USDT). Authorities think the mastermind of the scheme convinced the other individuals to register as executives of the three firms.

Hong Kong Busts Money Laundering Ring Using Tether to Wash Millions

“Our investigation revealed that the syndicate laundered about HK$880 million ($113 million) through the cryptocurrency between February 2020 and May 2021,” said Senior Superintendent Mark Woo Wai-kwan of the Customs’ Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau. Quoted by the South China Morning Post, the official added that the coins involved in the transactions came from around 40 e-wallet accounts.

According to Superintendent Grace Tang Wai-ngan, 150 million Hong Kong dollars’ worth of crypto from the total amount was transferred to more than 20 e-wallets. The remaining 730 million Hong Kong dollars were cashed out and the money was deposited into eight bank accounts owned by the three shell companies.

Around 500 cryptocurrency transactions passed through the firms’ wallets in just six months, she explained. These transactions averaged 400,000 coins, or more than 3.1 million Hong Kong dollars (about $400,000), with the largest involving $20 million worth of crypto.

Suspects Allegedly Launder $350 Million Through Regular Fiat Channels

Besides the 880 million Hong Kong dollars handled through cryptocurrency, officials claim that another 350 million Hong Kong dollars ($45 million) were laundered through conventional means. The funds were transferred into the same eight bank accounts via 100 other accounts including business accounts belonging to 18 different shell companies registered in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Busts Money Laundering Ring Using Tether to Wash Millions

A total of 1.08 billion Hong Kong dollars (almost $140 million) was in the end deposited into more than 200 bank accounts. These included personal accounts and accounts controlled by money changers, investment companies, and real estate firms in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions.

Investigators established that 60% of the funds had been transferred through bank accounts in Singapore where Hong Kong authorities asked law enforcement officials to support their efforts to track the money. Hong Kong Customs now plans to enhance its cooperation with other agencies and regulators to address the use of cryptocurrency in money laundering crimes.

The investigation into the origins of the funds, the initial senders, and ultimate receivers of the laundered money continues. According to the South China Morning Post, the four suspects have been released on bail. Their money laundering offenses could lead to a maximum prison sentence of 14 years and a 5 million Hong Kong dollars fine (around $640,000).

What are your thoughts on the money laundering case in Hong Kong? Let us know in the comments section below.

Poland, Romania Rank in Top 10 for Number of Bitcoin ATMs, World’s Total Exceeds 23,000

Poland, Romania in Top 10 by Number of Bitcoin ATMs, World’s Total Exceeds 23,000

Two East European nations, Poland and Romania, are now among the top 10 countries hosting the most cryptocurrency ATMs. The global number of teller machines supporting crypto transactions has increased exponentially over the past months, now reaching over 23,000 devices.

Poland Ranks Among Leading Crypto ATM Destinations

The growth in popularity and market prices of cryptocurrencies in the past year has led to a spike in the number of locations around the world offering crypto holders automated teller services. Most Bitcoin ATMs let you buy coins with cash and cards, while some devices facilitate two-way transactions allowing users to also sell cryptos. Major currencies such as bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), and bitcoin cash (BCH) are typically supported.

Poland, Romania in Top 10 by Number of Bitcoin ATMs, World’s Total Exceeds 23,000

Quoting data compiled by Crypto Head, the Warsaw Business Journal recently wrote that Poland has entered the top 10 nations having the highest number of cryptocurrency ATMs. According to this ranking, the country is seventh with 112 crypto teller devices, placing behind Hong Kong and ahead of Switzerland.

The United States tops the chart. The U.S. has a rapidly growing network of Bitcoin ATMs (BATMs) that has exceeded 17,000 machines supporting deposits and withdrawals of cryptocurrency across the country. Its northern neighbor, Canada, ranks second with almost 1,500 ATMs, followed by the U.K. with around 200, the report details.

Over 23,000 Cryptocurrency ATMs Globally

According to Coin ATM Radar, the global number of locations with cryptocurrency ATMs and tellers has reached 23,386 as of July. Its data covers 74 countries and more than 600 operators. The tracking website has its own ranking, according to which Poland is eighth with 83 locations.

Poland is followed by another East European nation, Romania, which already has 78 ATMs and teller machines exchanging fiat and crypto. The U.S., Canada, and the U.K. are again the three leading BATM destinations with 20,603, 1,618, and 194 locations respectively.

Poland, Romania in Top 10 by Number of Bitcoin ATMs, World’s Total Exceeds 23,000

The Warsaw Business Journal remarks that the growing network of crypto ATMs has sparked concerns among authorities about whether they might be used for illicit purposes. The report provides examples such as the moving of large amounts of money across the U.S. and Mexico border during the coronavirus pandemic and a discussion in Vancouver on a possible ban on coin ATMs allegedly used for money laundering.

According to Poland’s Financial Supervision Authority (KNF), no provisions in the Polish legislation currently ban or restrict Bitcoin ATMs in any way. However, the companies that install and operate devices buying and selling cryptocurrencies are subject to the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, the Polish publication notes.

What are your thoughts on the growing number of cryptocurrency ATMs around the world? Tell us in the comments section below.

Digital Euro Project Gets Going as ECB Launches Investigation Phase

Digital Euro Project Gets Going as ECB Launches Investigation Phase

After months of deliberation, the European Central Bank has decided to proceed with a digital euro project. Officials insist the new version of Europe’s common currency should “ensure privacy” and provide access to “the safest form of money” at a “negligible” cost to the environment, in comparison with bitcoin.

Eurosystem Initiates Digital Euro Project

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) took a long-awaited decision on Wednesday to launch the ‘investigation phase’ of a project to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The stage will continue for two years during which key aspects of the design of the digital euro and questions regarding its distribution will be addressed. In any case, it will not replace cash and a final decision on its issuance is yet to come.

Digital Euro Project Gets Going as ECB Launches Investigation Phase
ECB President Christine Lagarde

“It has been nine months since we published our report on a digital euro. In that time, we have carried out further analysis, sought input from citizens and professionals, and conducted some experiments, with encouraging results. All of this has led us to decide to move up a gear and start the digital euro project,” ECB President Christine Lagarde said after the meeting. She also emphasized:

Our work aims to ensure that in the digital age citizens and firms continue to have access to the safest form of money, central bank money.

The Eurosystem, consisting of the ECB and the national central banks of the Eurozone’s 19 member states, intends to take into account the needs of future users when outlining the functional design of the digital euro. The investigation phase will involve focus groups, prototyping and conceptual work to examine the use cases for the currency, the regulator said in a press release.

The ECB will work with the European Parliament and the European Commission to establish what changes to the Union’s legislative framework would be needed to introduce the CBDC. The bank will also assess the possible impact of a digital euro on the market, while ensuring privacy and avoiding risks for its participants. Regulators want to define a business model for supervised intermediaries within the digital euro ecosystem.

Europe’s CBDC to Be Energy Efficient

The ultimate goal is to produce a “riskless, accessible, and efficient form of digital central bank money” that meets the needs of European citizens and businesses, the ECB explained. At the same time, the design of the CBDC must prevent illicit activities and undesirable effects in respect to the financial stability and the monetary policy in the Eurozone.

The investigation phase will build on the experiments carried out by the ECB and national central banks in the past months. They were conducted in several major areas — the digital euro ledger, privacy and anti-money laundering, circulation limits, offline access for end-users, and device support.

Digital Euro Project Gets Going as ECB Launches Investigation Phase

The tests proved that a possible solution is to combine centralized and decentralized elements in the digital euro architecture. “Both the Eurosystem TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) and alternatives such as blockchain were proven capable of processing more than 40,000 transactions per second,” the central bank revealed.

The core infrastructure of the European CBDC will be friendly to the environment, ECB assured. The energy consumed to maintain the high transaction volume will be “negligible” in comparison with the power needed to process transactions for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, the European Central Bank emphasized.

What do you think about the launch of the digital euro project? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

China’s Anhui Province to Shut Down Crypto Farms as Grid Operator Issues Closure Notice, Reports

China’s Anhui Province to Shut Down Crypto Farms as Grid Operator Issues Closure Notice, Reports

Anhui has reportedly become China’s latest region planning to end cryptocurrency mining. The province is going to shut down all mining facilities due to power supply shortages, according to local media. Another source revealed that the state-run network operator has issued a closure notice for bitcoin farms across the country.

Anhui to Halt Bitcoin Mining Amid Electricity Shortage

The Eastern province of Anhui has joined what’s become a long list of Chinese regions where cryptocurrency miners are no longer welcome. According to media reports, provincial authorities want to shut down mining facilities and also prevent new energy intensive projects in order to address the power deficit in the province.

China’s Anhui Province to Shut Down Crypto Farms as Grid Operator Issues Closure Notice, Reports

According to a local news portal owned by the government-affiliated Hefei Media Group, which was quoted by Reuters and Bloomberg, the plan is to close down all crypto mining farms to deal with a serious supply shortage of electricity over the next three years. The report says data centers will be built in the future but in an orderly manner.

Officials expect electricity demand in Anhui to reach 73.14 million kilowatts in 2024. That compares to the current supply of 48.4 million kilowatts, highlighting a growing gap which the local government intends to mitigate. Besides banning crypto mining, the province is also preparing to adjust electricity pricing with the aim of stimulating more economic power consumption.

State Grid Corporation of China Issues Closure Notice for Crypto Mining

Global Times, an English-language newspaper under the People’s Daily, also shared the news on Twitter. The state-run publication added that “By now, nearly 90% of #China’s #Bitcoin mining capacity has been shut down.” Although Anhui is not a coin minting hotspot, its move underscores the ongoing crackdown in the country which has already affected mining hubs such as Sichuan, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Inner Mongolia.

Meanwhile, Chinese crypto journalist Colin Wu, also known as ‘Wu Blockchain,’ tweeted on Wednesday that the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) has issued a closure notice for cryptocurrency mining operations across the People’s Republic. The measure concerns “all parts of the country” and the post detailed:

At present, some provinces with insufficient power in China, such as Henan and Anhui, have also begun to implement it.

Wu Blockchain later revealed that Gansu, a province in Northwestern China, has received the notification from the SGCC as well. The network operator “manages the vast majority of China’s electricity, but this notification appears to be formal,” the journalist explained in a comment on the latest developments in the battered crypto mining industry of China.

What do you think of this latest episode in China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency mining? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Shanghai Law Enforcement Officials, Scholars Talk Cryptocurrency

Shanghai Law Enforcement Officials, Scholars Talk Cryptocurrency

Representatives of law enforcement agencies and academia in Shanghai held a seminar devoted to cryptocurrencies, regulations, and the combating of crypto-related crime. Determining “the legal attributes of virtual currency” was among the main topics at the forum which also focused on matters of financial supervision.

Prosecutors and Professors Discuss Crypto Oversight in Shanghai

Amid an ongoing crackdown on cryptocurrency mining, trading, and other related activities in China, officials from law enforcement bodies, the judiciary, and academic circles in Shanghai gathered recently to talk about “virtual currency.” The debate focused on issues pertaining to applicable legislation and oversight as well as the challenges of providing a legal definition for cryptocurrencies and the treatment of crimes involving digital assets.

Shanghai Law Enforcement Officials, Scholars Talk Cryptocurrency
Source: Shanghai Prosecutor’s office.

The event was organized by various departments of the Shanghai Prosecutor’s Office, the People’s Court, the legal team of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, and the Financial Supervision and Criminal Governance Research Center of East China University of Political Science and Law. The Banking and Insurance Financial Crime Research Center under Shanghai’s Prosecutor’s Office took part in the discussions as well that also addressed financial risks associated with decentralized money.

More than 50 experts and scholars from the city’s public security agencies, judicial authorities, and academia participated in the forum, the Shanghai Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday.

The seminar was hosted by Wang Jianping, department director at the Shanghai People’s Procuratorate. In opening remarks, Prosecutor General Chen Siqun noted that financial security is an important part of national security and preventing systemic financial risks is a priority for authorities in Shanghai, which is a global financial center. Chen Siqun also stated:

We have the responsibility and obligation to actively respond to the risks implied in various financial innovations, take the lead in studying the regulatory issues … unify standards for financial justice and provide suggestions for financial supervision.

The forum paid particular attention to two important topics – the legal attributes and supervision of cryptocurrency and regulations dealing with crimes involving digital assets. Participants noted the increasing activity in the field of blockchain-based virtual currencies in recent years. In China’s judicial practice, this has led to a number of cases of theft, robbery, and extortion of crypto as well as illegal fund-raising and money laundering offenses.

“At present, crimes involving virtual currency mainly include: crimes involving ‘virtual currency’ as the direct object of infringement, investment object, settlement method, and money laundering method, as well as those associated with ‘virtual currency’ transaction activities and initial coin offering activities,” the Shanghai Prosecutor’s Office remarked in its report on the event. A major issue is that various judicial departments in China have a different understanding regarding the legal attributes of the many types of virtual currencies. Some identify them as data, others consider them property. As a result, similar crimes involving cryptocurrencies often receive very different sentences.

Cryptocurrency Deemed to Have Property Attributes in China

Yu Haisong, director of the Crime Division at the Research Office of the Supreme People’s Court, pointed out that virtual currency undoubtedly has property attributes, but whether it is property only is yet unclear. He quoted Article 127 of China’s Civil Code which stipulates: “Where the law has provisions on the protection of data and network virtual property, follow those provisions.” He admitted there seems to be no other applicable law at the moment but stressed that having property attributes does not necessarily mean cryptocurrency is property as far as the criminal law is concerned.

Shanghai Law Enforcement Officials, Scholars Talk Cryptocurrency
Mao Lingling

According to Mao Lingling, director of the Financial Regulation and Criminal Governance Research Center and professor at East China University of Political Science and Law, the legal status of cryptocurrency remains undefined and the treatment of crypto-related offenses as property crimes creates controversy.

Virtual currency is a new type of property, she elaborated, involving computer data and can be used in money laundering or illegal fundraising and issuance of securities. In her opinion, if a digital coin has economic attributes, a crime involving the crypto should be treated as a property crime, and if it doesn’t, then it should be dealt with as a computer crime.

Professor Lingling emphasized that the Chinese government has long insisted on strengthening financial supervision and has a “zero tolerance” policy towards acts that endanger national financial security. The development of virtual currencies, especially privately issued coins in unlimited quantities, presents risks that threaten China’s financial security, she warned, adding that relevant departments should pay sufficient attention and further strengthen supervision.

What’s your opinion about the views regarding cryptocurrencies expressed during the seminar in Shanghai? Tell us in the comments section below.

Police Set New UK Record Seizing £180 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency

Police Set New UK Record Seizing £180 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency

Britain’s Metropolitan Police have seized a staggering £180 million in cryptocurrency as part of a money laundering investigation. The announcement comes just weeks after Scotland Yard confiscated £114 million in crypto, breaking the previous record.

UK Police Discover £180 Million in Crypto Linked to Criminal Transfers

Law enforcement officials in the U.K. have announced the seizure of a record amount of cryptocurrency during an ongoing investigation into international money laundering. Detectives said they confiscated almost £180 million (close to $250 million) worth of crypto without providing more details about the type of coins and how they were seized.

“This is believed to be one of the largest seizures globally and tops the £114 million confiscation made by the Met on Thursday, 24 June,” the U.K.’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) remarked in a press release published on its website Tuesday morning.

Police Set New UK Record Seizing £180 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency

Both seizures were conducted by members of the Economic Crime Command of the MPS, Scotland Yard noted. The investigators acted on intelligence received by the British police pertaining to the transfer of criminal assets.

“Less than a month ago we successfully seized £114 million in cryptocurrency. Our investigation since then has been complex and wide-ranging,” Detective Constable Joe Ryan commented, emphasizing that his colleagues have worked hard to trace the money and identify the criminality it may be linked to. He further said:

Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the centre of this suspected money laundering operation.

As part of the investigation, police officers arrested a 39-year-old woman on June 24 who is suspected of money laundering offences. She was interviewed in relation to the discovery of the £180 million crypto stash on Saturday, July 10, and has since been released on bail until an unspecified date in late July.

Scotland Yard Improves Its Expertise in Cryptocurrency

Proceeds from crime can be laundered in many different ways, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty noted. And while “cash still remains king” in the criminal world, the development of digital platforms has increased the use of cryptocurrency to launder dirty money from organized crime.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard has been improving its expertise in the field over the past few years and McNulty stated:

Whilst some years ago this was fairly unchartered territory, we now have highly trained officers and specialist units working hard in this space to remain one step ahead of those using it for illicit gain.

According to the law enforcement official, police detectives have put a lot of effort into tracing the millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrency in this latest case. “Those linked to this money are clearly working hard to hide it. Our investigation will stop at nothing to disrupt the transfer and identify those involved,” McNulty was quoted as saying.

What do you think about the massive crypto seizure announced by the British police? Let us know in the comments section below.

China Has Dispersed Over $40 Million of Digital Yuan in Red Envelopes, Report Reveals

China Has Dispersed Over $40 Million of Digital Yuan in Red Envelopes, Report Reveals

China, which has arguably the most advanced digital currency project among leading nations, has so far handed out more than $40 million in red envelopes with digital yuan. The promotional campaign for the CBDC is currently focused on five major cities, taking into account their regional development priorities.

Beijing Gives Away 269 Million Yuan in Digital Currency

Chinese Authorities are rapidly moving forward with the pilot implementation of the digital yuan, the central bank digital currency (CBDC) issued by the People’s Bank of China. Since the announcement of the concept in 2014, the project has entered its seventh year of development, with large-scale trials across the mainland and cross-border tests with Hong Kong.

China Has Dispersed Over $40 Million of Digital Yuan in Red Envelopes, Report Reveals

The ‘red envelope’ campaign, which was launched to put the digital yuan into the hands of Chinese consumers, has been expanding. The amount of funds distributed to Chinese citizens in digital RMB red envelopes has exceeded 269 million yuan, or around $41.5 million, according to a report by the Tuoluo Research Institute.

In Chinese tradition, the red envelopes are small packets with money usually given to children, family members, friends, or employees, and intended as a good luck wish. The red color in China is perceived as a symbol of energy and happiness.

Published by the Chinese crypto news outlet 8btc, the article reveals that the government efforts are currently focused on five major cities – Shenzhen, Suzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. Authorities there have issued red envelopes with digital RMB for a total of 230 million Chinese yuan, approximately $35 million.

China Accelerates and Expands Digital Yuan Promotion

The report notes that the central government is “taking into account regional development strategies, and the frequency and scope of the promotion are accelerating outward.” For example, in Beijing, where local financial authorities recently announced a lottery to disperse 40 million worth of digital yuan ($6.3 million), the digital RMB program is mainly focused on the upcoming Winter Olympic Games.

Two pilots have progressed significantly in the Chinese capital. As part of the first one, selected merchants in the Wangfujing business district and the online marketplace JD.com started accepting digital yuan payments. Then, the second pilot project will focus more on the food, housing, transportation, travel, shopping, entertainment, and information scenes of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

China Has Dispersed Over $40 Million of Digital Yuan in Red Envelopes, Report Reveals

Meanwhile, the economic and financial hub Shenzhen has already distributed 60 million yuan in digital RMB red envelopes (over $9 million). Application scenarios for the CBDC have gradually covered government affairs such as medical care, education, and transportation as well as consumption. More than 30,000 merchants in the city are now working to introduce support for digital yuan payments.

Chengdu has until now handed out 40 million of digital yuan (over $6 million). At least 11,000 merchants are participating in the pilot. They come from various sectors including catering, retail, and entertainment. Chengdu also launched a digital yuan trial in the public transportation system in the city’s administrative area. Tuoluo remarks that Chengdu’s red envelope program “highlights the characteristics of digital currency – small-value, high-frequency trading and inclusive finance.”

What do you think about China’s red envelope campaign to promote the adoption of the digital yuan? Let us know in the comments section below.

Survey: Financial Sector Wants Ukraine’s CBDC to Facilitate Transactions in the Crypto Market

Survey: Financial Sector Wants Ukraine’s CBDC to Facilitate Transactions in the Crypto Market

A survey conducted among financial professionals has indicated that the industry wants Ukraine’s future digital currency to be used as a tool in the crypto space. The financial sector also favors a blockchain design for the e-hryvnia that would allow peer-to-peer transfers and fuel e-commerce.

Financial Experts Define Potential Uses of Ukraine’s Digital Currency

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has published the results of a survey aimed to establish the potential demand for a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The regulator sent out a set of 30 questions to 100 financial experts with various backgrounds – financial markets, corporate and retail business, public sector, and crypto business.

The poll also had to identify possible use cases for the e-hryvnia. NBU was among the first central banks to start exploring options to issue its own digital currency. It launched a study back in 2016 and then tested a CBDC in retail payments two years later. “We already have practical experience in implementing a pilot project to issue e-hryvnia in 2018,” the Chairman of the NBU Kyrylo Shevchenko noted, elaborating:

To find the really popular options and niches for the e-hryvnia and to determine the potential effect of its implementation, we decided to hear the opinion of financial market experts and conducted a comprehensive survey.

The representatives of the financial sector were offered to choose between six potential areas where they feel the e-hryvnia can be employed. According to the majority of the respondents, the most promising use case would be in non-cash retail payments, primarily peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers between individuals and e-commerce transactions. Using the CBDC for cross-border payments, again as a P2P instrument, is the second most recommended application.

The other options included ‘targeted social benefits (G2P),’ ‘settlement of securities (B2B),’ ‘corporate payments (B2B),’ and ‘financial instruments.’ 77% of the polled supported the first of these use cases, provided its scope is expanded to include other specific government payments such as dedicated subsidies. The NBU said it’s going to take into account the opinions of the financial professionals.

Ukraine’s Financial Sector Says E-Hryvnia Should Be Used in the Crypto Space

Many of the participants in the survey also supported the use of the electronic hryvnia as a tool for conducting transactions in the field of virtual assets, the NBU emphasized. The financial sector representatives also insisted the CBDC should be a blockchain-based currency.

Given the size of the crypto asset market in the country and the availability of blockchain technologies, Ukraine’s central bank believes the use of its digital currency to facilitate the circulation of virtual assets in the country – for example, in exchange, issuance, and other crypto-related transactions – is worth further research.

Ukraine is considered a leader in cryptocurrency adoption as it was ranked first among over 150 nations in last year’s edition of the Global Crypto Adoption Index by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis. However, the government in Kyiv is yet to adopt comprehensive regulations for the country’s expanding crypto space. A draft law on “On Virtual Assets,” which was recently updated, should be voted this year.

What’s your opinion about the possible uses of a central bank digital currency? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Ukraine Uncovers Country’s Largest Illegal Mining Farm to Date

Ukraine Uncovers Country’s Largest Illegal Mining Farm to Date

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has located a massive coin minting facility that was illegally connected to the power grid in Vinnytsia. Law enforcement officials claim it’s the largest underground crypto mining farm they have found so far.

Ukraine Seizes Thousands of Video Game Consoles Mining Crypto With Stolen Electricity

Ukraine’s main law enforcement authority, SBU, announced this week it exposed a large-scale electricity theft in the city of Vinnytsia, in west-central Ukraine. The stolen power was used to mint digital coins in what officials described as the country’s largest illegal crypto farm uncovered to this day.

Ukraine Uncovers Country’s Largest Illegal Mining Farm to Date
Source: SBU

The mining facility was set up by residents of Vinnytsia and the capital Kyiv in a former warehouse of JSC Vinnytsiaoblenerho, the agency said in a press release published on its website. They were able to conceal the theft from the distribution company using electricity meters that did not show the true energy consumption.

During the searches at the crypto farm and its operators’ residences, law enforcement seized almost 5,000 units of mining hardware, including 3,800 game consoles, over 500 video cards, and 50 processors. Agents confiscated documentation on electricity consumption as well as notebooks, phones, and flash drives, the announcement detailed.

The operation has been carried out by the SBU Department for Counterintelligence Protection of State Economic Interests together with the regional SBU Office in Vinnytsia and the Main National Police Investigation Department, under the supervision of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office.

Illegal Mining Farm in Vinnytsia Steals up to $250,000 of Electricity

Preliminary estimates released by Ukrainian authorities suggest the illegal mining operation is responsible for losses of electricity in the range of 5 to 7 million hryvnia, or between approximately $183,000 and $256,000, at the time of writing. The excessive consumption could have caused power surges and outages in the surrounding areas, officials added.

The SBU has initiated criminal proceedings for unauthorized use of electricity. Investigators are now working to identify all people behind the illegal crypto mining activities and trying to verify if JSC Vinnytsiaoblenerho employees are also involved.

The news from Vinnytsia comes after last week’s Ukrainian law enforcement shut down of an illegal mining farm in Chernihiv Oblast. The facility was powered by stolen electricity from the local electrical network. During a raid of rented warehouses, authorities seized 150 mining rigs that had burned energy for $110,000. In early June, the SBU uncovered a crypto farm with 350 mining rigs that were illegally connected to the power grid in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and had used over $70,000 worth of electricity.

Do you think Ukraine is undertaking a coordinated crackdown on illegal cryptocurrency mining? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Israel Begins Seizure of Bitcoin Donations Collected by Hamas

Israel Begins Seizure of Bitcoin Donations Collected by Hamas

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz has ordered the seizure of cryptocurrency funds raised by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. His department has reportedly started taking control over digital wallets used by the terrorist group to collect crypto donations from abroad.

Defense Ministry of Israel Targets Crypto Addresses Used by Hamas

Minister Gantz approved the seizure of the wallets on June 30, the Times of Israel reported on Friday. The National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) published a list of targeted addresses and wallet details used by Hamas to raise funds in bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies. They were identified during a joint operation with the Ministry of Defense.

Israel Begins Seizure of Bitcoin Donations Collected by Hamas
Ministry of Defense, Israel.

The publication adds that the stockpiles of cryptocurrency were being managed from the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas. The wallets were employed by the Palestinian organization in its efforts to collect money from foreign sources following the 11-day conflict with Israel in May. The seizure has affected the Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.

According to a blog post by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, the investigation focused largely on analysis of open-source intelligence such as social media posts and blockchain data. The blockchain analysis reveals the movement of donation funds to exchanges. Chainalysis published a graph showing bitcoin transactions carried out by addresses listed by the NBCTF, many of which have been attributed to individuals involved in donation campaigns.

Israel Begins Seizure of Bitcoin Donations Collected by Hamas
Source: Chainalysis

“The orange hexagons represent deposit addresses hosted by a large, mainstream cryptocurrency exchange and controlled by individuals named in the NBCTF announcement,” explains Chainalysis. “On the graph, we see how funds moved to those exchange addresses from Hamas donation addresses, often passing first through intermediary wallets, high-risk cryptocurrency exchanges, and money services businesses (MSBs),” the company detailed.

According to the report, two addresses named in the announcement received funds from addresses associated with the Idlib office of Bitcoin Transfer, a Syrian cryptocurrency exchange connected to terrorism financing cases. A third address received funds from a Middle East-based MSB that had previously received funds from the Ibn Taymiyya Media Center (ITMC), another organization linked to terrorism financing.

Besides BTC, the ministry intercepted payments in ETH, XRP, USDT, and DOGE, the Times of Israel claims. The crypto cash has been seized in accordance with Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Law from 2016. In a statement released by the defense department, Benny Gantz was quoted as saying:

The intelligence, technological and legal tools that enable us to get our hands on terrorists’ money around the world constitute an operational breakthrough.

Seizure of Hamas’ Funds Proves Bitcoin Is ‘Safe’ Currency

According to Noa Mashiah, CEO of the Israeli Bitcoin Association, “the seizure and forfeiture of Hamas’s donations proves that Bitcoin is a safe currency.” He elaborated that “criminals who make use of this financial system will find out the hard way that the open transaction log, the blockchain, will expose them and allow law enforcement agencies to act against them.”

The executive said that the news of the confiscation marks “a significant improvement over the anti-money laundering ban and also over international bank accounts hidden behind a bank secrecy wall.” He insisted that the operation proves regulators in Israel should “adopt and use” bitcoin “as it makes it possible to expose the bad and do good with the good.”

“Once you go beyond the boundaries of the blockchain to the worlds of trading platforms, you immediately lose anonymity and then, as in the present case, states and law enforcement agencies are able to locate and freeze the currencies of criminal and terrorist organizations,” added Omri Segev Moyal, CEO of cybersecurity firm Profero. He also noted that “when the network is completely exposed, you can very accurately track the trajectory of the coins and locate their final destination.”

Hamas called on its supporters to send bitcoin in 2019, when the Islamist movement needed the money to deal with its financial problems. A few months later, the terrorist group established an experimental program to collect money via an elaborate system designed to facilitate international cryptocurrency donations.

What do you think about Israel’s seizure of cryptocurrency funds raised by Hamas? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Majority of Salvadorans Skeptical of BTC as Currency, Poll Finds

Majority of Salvadorans Skeptical of BTC as Currency, Poll Finds

President Nayib Bukele’s adoption of cryptocurrency as legal tender in his country is not being met with deep understanding by most of his fellow Salvadorans, a new survey suggests. Almost half of the respondents admitted they knew nothing about Bitcoin, while two-thirds aren’t ready to be paid in crypto.

Bitcoin Adoption ‘Not at All Correct,’ Half of Salvadorans Say

In a blow to President Bukele’s crypto-friendly policy, poll results released Thursday showed that around 54% of people in El Salvador viewed the adoption of bitcoin (BTC) as “not at all correct.” Another 24% said it’s “only a little correct.” Less than 20% fully approved of the government’s crypto move.

Majority of Salvadorans Skeptical of BTC as Currency, Poll Finds
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, Twitter.

The survey has been conducted by Disruptiva, which is affiliated with Francisco Gavidia University, Reuters reported. The pollster reached out to 1,233 people across the Central American nation between July 1 and 4, and the study has a margin of error of 2.8%.

El Salvador has been using the U.S. dollar as its national currency for years but last month the Congress supported Bukele’s push for cryptocurrency adoption. Lawmakers approved legislation giving bitcoin (BTC) official currency status in the country, which became the first in the world to do that.

President Bukele has been promoting bitcoin also as a way to facilitate remittances from Salvadorans living abroad. The poll indicated, however, that a large portion of the country’s population, 46%, knew “nothing” about the cryptocurrency. And another 65% of the respondents stated they were not willing to be paid in crypto.

During an event presenting the outcome of the survey, the head of Disruptiva’s Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation, Oscar Picardo, commented:

This is a risky bet on digital transformation.

Supporters of 39-year-old Nayib Bukele in the Salvadoran Congress approved the bill making bitcoin (BTC) an “unrestricted” legal tender in early June. Since then, the unique decision has been met with concerns over how the crypto-friendly move will affect the country’s economy.

The IMF warned of “a number of macroeconomic, financial and legal issues,” while the World Bank refused to assist El Salvador in the technical implementation of the cryptocurrency. Last week, the U.S. State Department urged the president to ensure that bitcoin is “well regulated.”

What do you think about the Disruptiva poll results? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Israeli Knesset Creates Special NFT for New President Isaac Herzog

Israeli Knesset Creates Special NFT for New President Isaac Herzog

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has become the first national legislature to release a non-fungible token. The special NFT has been created for the country’s new president, Isaac Herzog, who took office this week after his election in early June.

Knesset Becomes First Parliament to Issue NFT

Isaac Herzog received the token right before his inauguration on Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reported. The unique NFT represents a copy of the original oath signed by his late father, Israel’s sixth president, Chaim Herzog.

Israeli Knesset Creates Special NFT for New President Isaac Herzog
President Isaac Herzog

With the symbolic gesture, the Knesset becomes arguably the first parliament to create an NFT. “I am excited to present President Herzog with a special memento of his father that includes the oath he signed 38 years ago,” Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy was quoted as saying. Levy also stressed:

It is a great honor for the Knesset to implement one of the world’s most innovative technologies in order to preserve such a significant historical document for future generations.

In the original file that has been published for the first time, president Herzog senior pledged “allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws and to faithfully carry out my duties as president of the state.” His son, Isaac, did the same on July 7 from the speaker’s podium in the Knesset plenum.

The image file for the NFT has been produced by the staff of the Knesset’s Technology and Computing Division using a secure and encrypted mobile device, the newspaper detailed. It will be handed over to staff members of the IT department at the President’s Residence.

The idea came up about a week ago, when Chaim Herzog’s oath of office was found in the Knesset archives. Parliament employees were moved by the historic document and suggested giving the new president a copy of it as a gift before his own inauguration.

In the past months, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become a sensation in the art world. The Israeli parliament spent only several hundred shekels to create the file, but the worldwide success of NFTs could boost its value to millions of dollars, the publication ponders. For example, artist Mike Winkelmann recently sold an NFT for $69.3 million, the third-highest price for a work by a living artist.

In Israel, the president has a largely ceremonial role and limited powers. The president’s main responsibility is to discuss nominations for prime minister with the leaders of the parties represented in the parliament and give a mandate to form a government. Isaac Herzog was elected by the members of the Knesset on June 2 for a single seven-year term.

What do you think about the Knesset’s idea to issue a special NFT for the inauguration of Israel’s new president, Isaac Herzog? Let us know in the comments section below.

Crypto Exchange Binance.us Hires Former Financial Regulator

Crypto Exchange Binance.us Hires Former Financial Regulator

Binance.us has hired Manuel Alvarez, a former financial regulator from California, to work as its chief administrative officer. The San Francisco-based crypto exchange, which sources technology from Binance, is aiming to deal with “the big question” — compliance.

Binance.us Filling Roles in Compliance, Risk Management, and Legal

Binance.us, powered by matching engine and wallet technologies licensed from the world’s leading coin trading platform, announced the appointment of Alvarez in a statement released this week. The exchange’s new chief administrative officer has previously served as the commissioner of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, Bloomberg reported.

Manuel Alvarez will join the company on July 22 and report to its CEO Brian Brooks, himself a former bank regulator. Brooks, who was acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), took his post at Binance.us in May this year.

Since then, Brian Brooks has been building his team, almost doubling the staff. He plans to employ more professionals for the exchange’s compliance, risk management, and legal departments in the next few months. Commenting on the latest hire, the chief executive stated:

Bringing on someone like Manny, who was the regulator responsible for the protection of over 40 million consumers, shows not only do we take this seriously, but we’re not going to be defensive about compliance and consumer protection.

Brooks added that Binance.us will continue to go after “the very best talent” and “the very most-senior people” for the respective “super important” functions. The company is expanding its workforce in a period of increased scrutiny over the crypto space, with exchanges under pressure from regulators around the world.

Binance Holdings, the company with which Binance.us shares a common founder and name, is now facing regulatory actions in Thailand, the U.K., and Japan. Binance.us is a separate entity from Binance, Brian Brooks noted. In his view, the calls for regulation aren’t bad signs and the market now needs basic frameworks. He emphasized:

Exchanges such as Binance.us have to navigate the big question of compliance.

“How do you allow decentralization to occur, how do you bring these assets to the market, while ensuring good risk management, compliance with law, the disclosure of what you’re selling to your customers and those kind of things?” Brooks said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Binance.us, which is operated by the San Francisco-based BAM Trading Services, allows its users in the United States to buy and sell more than 50 cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum (ETH), and the BNB token. CEO Brian Brooks revealed the exchange could eventually go public in the next four years.

What do you think about Binance.us hiring a former financial regulator as its chief administrative officer? Tell us in the comments section below.

EU Mulls AML Authority and New Rules for Crypto Transfers, Documents Suggest

EU Mulls AML Authority and New Rules for Crypto Transfers, Documents Suggest

The European Union is preparing to set up an anti-money laundering agency to coordinate national supervisory authorities. According to a media report based on EU documents, the bloc also plans to impose new rules to increase transparency for cryptocurrency transfers.

Europe Steps Up Anti-Money Laundering Efforts on Union Level

In response to calls for enforcement of anti-money laundering (AML) rules throughout Europe, the European Commission is likely to propose the establishment of a new Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA). According to documents seen by Reuters, the agency should become the “centrepiece” of an integrated supervisory system consisting also of national authorities.

In the absence of a pan-European anti-money laundering body, the executive power in Brussels has so far relied mainly on national regulatory agencies to enforce its AML rules. Cooperation hasn’t always been satisfactory when it comes to stopping dirty money, the report notes. That’s why the authors of the documents insist:

Money laundering, terrorist financing and organised crime remain significant problems which should be addressed at Union level.

The new authority will be expected to help prevent money laundering and terrorist financing cases in the European Union “by directly supervising and taking decisions towards some of the riskiest cross-border financial sector obliged entities.”

The agency will coordinate national supervisory authorities to more effectively enforce common European regulations. Brussels also wants to make EU’s AML rules directly binding on member states to stop criminals from exploiting differences between national regulatory regimes.

EU to Adopt Stricter Reporting Requirements for Crypto Service Providers

Another proposal from the quoted documents is to adopt new European requirements for service providers working with crypto assets. These platforms will be obliged to collect and make accessible data concerning the originators and beneficiaries of cryptocurrency transfers. The scope of EU rules for financial services does not currently cover such transactions and EU officials warn:

The lack of such rules leaves holders of crypto-assets exposed to money laundering and financing of terrorism risks, as flows of illicit money can be done through transfers of crypto-assets.

According to Sven Giegold, member of the European Parliament from the German Green Party, the European Commission has prepared a strong package against money laundering. “With uniform standards and more centralised supervision, the EU Commission is introducing important improvements to enable consistent action against financial crime,” Giegold emphasized.

The MEP added that the EU should in the meantime pursue legal action against those EU members that are not enforcing its AML rules properly. A final approval from the EP and the EU states will be needed for the new regulations to come into force.

What’s your opinion about the proposals in the EU documents quoted in the report? Let us know in the comments section below.

Korean Banks Elevate Cybersecurity to Deal With Crypto-Related Risks

Korean Banks Elevate Cybersecurity to Deal With Crypto-Related Risks

South Korean banks are taking steps to bring cybersecurity to a new level as they try to keep up with fintechs and address new threats arising from their interaction with the crypto space. A number of institutions are adopting unprecedented measures including the integration of blockchain technologies, Korean media reported.

South Korean Banks Boost Cybersecurity to Facilitate Digitalization

Faced with challenges stemming from the digitalization of the financial sector, commercial banks in South Korea are stepping up their efforts to improve security in the cyberspace. According to a report by the Korea Herald, the move is a bid to better compete with Korean fintech companies which have been developing rapidly. The new requirement for lenders and crypto exchanges to work together on the issuance of real-name accounts for traders is another motive.

Woori Bank is one of the institutions that have been taking extraordinary measures. On Monday, Woori announced the adoption of SOAR (security orchestration, automation and response), an advanced set of technologies enabling automatic collection and filing of security data. The lender said the integration would allow it to upgrade its cybersecurity platform and move beyond its previous monitoring-focused approach.

Korean Banks Elevate Cybersecurity to Deal With Crypto-Related Risks

KB Kookmin Bank, another leading banking group in South Korea, has been working on its own automatic cybersecurity system which is based on artificial intelligence. The project is part of its 551.9 billion won ($488.5 million) investment in IT services in 2021. The lender also uses technology from the Korean startup Everspin designed to prevent phishing and fraud attempts through fake apps imitating its mobile services.

Two other banks, Shinhan and Hana, have opted to implement blockchain technologies which they hope will provide protection against hacking and reduce security gaps. Shinhan Bank has launched three blockchain-related services, including an identity verification service for its mobile app, Sol. And Hana Bank has adopted blockchain technology in its Hana 1Q app which helps customers manage their highway toll payments.

Regulators Reject Banks’ Requests to Be Relieved of Responsibility for Crypto Crime

Continuous efforts to upgrade cybersecurity in the banking sector have led to a 35.9% annual drop in cyberattacks to 6.2 million cases as of the end of 2020, Korea’s Financial Security Institute revealed last month. The Korea Herald quotes industry observers saying that banks and other businesses now need to constantly update their cybersecurity platforms in light of the new requirement for domestic crypto exchanges to partner with banks on the introduction of real-name accounts for their users.

Banking institutions have been reluctant to engage with the Korean coin trading platforms fearing exposure to money laundering, hacking, fraud and other risks related to cryptocurrencies. A report in June suggested that Korean banks have asked regulators to be relieved of liability for this kind of offense committed through digital asset exchanges they have to screen.

Korean Banks Elevate Cybersecurity to Deal With Crypto-Related Risks

However, according to sources from the country’s banking sector quoted by Arirang, financial authorities have rejected the banks’ requests to exempt themselves from blame for such issues. Speaking with reporters recently, the Chairman of Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) Eun Sung-soo emphasized that lenders hold the primary responsibility in case money laundering occurs on a crypto trading platform they are working with.

South Korean exchanges have increased in number to around 200. The rejection may lead to many closures as most of these platforms have so far failed to secure a partnership deal with a local bank. It has been reported that only four major Korean platforms — Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit — are currently working with commercial banks to implement the real-name account system. The provisions of the revised Special Funds Act, which introduced the requirement, will be enforced in September.

Do you think Korean banks will eventually agree to provide services to more cryptocurrency exchanges? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Ukraine’s Monobank to Allow Customers to Trade Bitcoin

Ukraine’s Monobank to Allow Customers to Trade Bitcoin

Monobank, a mobile bank operating in Ukraine, has announced new products and services that will allow users to trade cryptocurrencies and stocks. One of the offerings includes a bitcoin card which the online banking platform is going to launch as early as this month.

Monobank to Offer Users Bitcoin Card and Crypto Exchange

By the end of July, Monobank’s clients will be able to buy and sell cryptocurrency using a new banking card that will support crypto transactions. The news was announced by the company’s cofounder Oleg Gorokhovskyi on Telegram.

The Ukrainian mobile bank also plans to introduce an integration with a cryptocurrency exchange which has not been disclosed yet. According to sources quoted by Forklog, Monobank will accomplish the task in partnership with the crypto trading platform Whitebit.

Gorokhovskyi further emphasized that the development phase of the project is already completed. At this stage, Monobank is only awaiting approval from the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), the country’s central bank.

This fall, the mobile bank will offer investors an option to trade company shares through a U.S.-based platform that is yet to be announced. Monobank’s team is currently working to introduce eSIM support with a mobile operator and improve its acquiring services. Both initiatives will be presented in August, the report details.

In February, Oleg Gorokhovskyi revealed he had “a fairly large portfolio of bitcoins” and advised his friends and followers on Facebook to buy cryptocurrency. At the time, the entrepreneur stated he was convinced by Tesla’s $1.5 billion crypto purchase that “bitcoin isn’t going anywhere.”

Later the same month, Monobank discontinued support for SEPA transfers from Binance citing restrictions imposed by foreign correspondent banks. The leading cryptocurrency exchange has been expanding its presence in Ukraine and in June launched an advertising campaign in major Ukrainian cities.

Last year, the East European country was ranked among the world’s top crypto adopters but the government in Kyiv is yet to introduce comprehensive regulations for cryptocurrencies and the related industry. A revised bill on “On Virtual Assets” should be voted this summer.

What do you think about Monobank’s offering of crypto products and services? Let us know in the comments section below.

Musk Trolls Buffett With Fake Quote on Twitter, Then Deletes It

Musk Trolls Buffett With Fake Quote on Twitter, Then Deletes It

Elon Musk went after Bitcoin hater Warren Buffett recently, sharing what looked like a bullish crypto quote attributed to the billionaire investor. The tech entrepreneur, whose comments on social media have been moving crypto markets this year, later removed the post with the obviously fake Buffett statement.

Elon Musk Finds Buffett’s ‘Best Financial Advice’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a meme of the famous American business magnate Warren Buffett with a quote underneath reading “Find as many coins as you can. And fast!” Musk attributed the statement to Buffett, describing it as his “best financial advice.” The entrepreneur turned-crypto-influencer said he found it on the internet.

Musk Trolls Buffett With Fake Quote on Twitter, Then Deletes It

In just a few hours, Musk’s latest crypto tweet gathered thousands of likes and comments early on Tuesday but the post later disappeared from his Twitter account. The quote in the tweet is most likely fake or wrongly attributed to the 90-year old legendary investor who is a well-known critic of Bitcoin, to say the least.

Warren Buffett has maintained a negative stance on cryptocurrencies over the years. In 2019, the Oracle of Omaha said “bitcoin has no unique value at all,” calling it a “delusion.” In 2018, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway stated that those who put money into bitcoin were not investing but speculating and gambling. “Probably rat poison squared” is arguably Buffett’s most famous description of Bitcoin, which he gave at the company’s annual meeting in May of that year.

On the other hand, Elon Musk has been a prominent supporter of cryptocurrencies, with few exceptions such as this year’s decision to suspend BTC payments for the vehicles produced by his electric car company, due to concerns about the increasing use of fossil fuels to power bitcoin mining. The crypto-economy lost billions following his announcement on Twitter.

However, Tesla’s $1.5 billion investment in bitcoin earlier this year gave crypto markets a serious boost. Then in May, Musk reaffirmed his allegiance to decentralized money stating that in the battle between fiat and crypto, his support goes to the latter. He also said that Tesla would resume accepting bitcoin upon confirmation of a “reasonable” 50% clean energy usage by cryptocurrency miners.

Musk and Buffett have in the past clashed over business models. In 2018, the Spacex founder said that “moats are lame” referring to a term popularized by Warren Buffett, and emphasized the importance of innovation. Buffett responded by warning Musk to stay away from his moated ventures. Musk then announced he is starting a new candy company to take on Berkshire-owned moat See’s Candies that he’s going to call “Cryptocandy.”

Why do you think Elon Musk removed his Warren Buffett tweet? Tell us in the comments section below.

Prime Minister of Vietnam Asks Central Bank to Pilot Digital Currency

Prime Minister of Vietnam Asks Central Bank to Pilot Digital Currency

Pham Minh Chinh, the prime minister of Vietnam, has asked the country’s central bank to conduct a study of cryptocurrency and pilot the implementation of a blockchain-based currency within the next two years. The efforts are part of the Asian country’s new e-government strategy.

Cryptocurrency Highlighted in Prime Minister’s Decision

Cryptocurrency is one of the highlights in a decision regarding the establishment of a digital government issued recently by the Vietnamese premier. “Cryptocurrency based on blockchain is among core technologies Vietnam hopes to develop and master,” Vietnam Plus said in a report, obviously referring to a coin issued by the state. Other priority areas include artificial intelligence, big data, and augmented and virtual reality, the English-language news outlet detailed.

Before mastering crypto, however, the Vietnamese government needs to adopt specific definitions for the various types of digital currencies and virtual assets as well as comprehensively regulate the crypto space. In April last year, a working group was established by the Ministry of Finance to study the matter and propose regulatory policies.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has in the past warned that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are not legally recognized in the country. The same applies to their use as a means of payment. The central bank has previously instructed financial institutions not to regard crypto as currency and the regulator has not licensed any coin trading platforms so far.

According to Huynh Phuoc Nghia, deputy director of the Institute of Innovation at the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s time for the government in Hanoi to study and carry out a pilot implementation of digital currency. The academic emphasized:

Digital money is an inevitable trend.

The pilot implementation should help the executive power to identify both positive and negative aspects as well as to develop a “more appropriate management mechanism,” Nghia also said. In his view, the recognition of digital currencies by the SBV will facilitate this process.

Vietnam to Catch Up With Other Nations in the Digital Currency Race

Le Dat Chi, deputy head of the university’s Finance Faculty, thinks the study should be accelerated to allow Vietnam to advance in the global race in the field of digital currencies. According to a survey he quoted, central banks around the world are at different stages in these efforts. Over 60 institutions are already piloting digital currency use and others are working on plans for pilot implementation, while a third group of banks is only observing developments. Vietnam now wants to move to the second stage.

Traditional currencies such as the U.S. dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen have a greater impact on the world currency basket and international trade than other fiat currencies, Vietnam Plus notes. But in the race to develop and apply new technologies, countries like Vietnam will have a chance to increase their influence on the global financial system, the publication points out.

Among the central banks working on projects to issue central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are those of China, Russia, the U.S., and the Eurozone. The People’s Bank of China has the most advanced project so far, with numerous domestic trials underway and a plan to test the digital yuan (e-CNY) in cross-border transactions with Hong Kong.

Do you expect Vietnam to adopt crypto-friendly regulations and issue a blockchain-based digital currency? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

‘We Want You,’ Pro-Bitcoin Senator Cynthia Lummis Invites Crypto Miners to Wyoming

‘We Want You,’ Pro-Bitcoin Senator Cynthia Lummis Invites Crypto Miners to Wyoming

U.S. lawmaker and bitcoin advocate Cynthia Lummis has indicated that cryptocurrency miners are welcome in Wyoming. In a recent interview, the senator defended bitcoin’s carbon footprint and later invited miners to her home state on social media.

Crypto Mining Adapted to Non-Carbon Emitting Energy

With the ongoing crackdown on cryptocurrency mining in China, companies in the business of coin minting have been actively looking for friendlier jurisdictions to relocate their operations. Some perspective destinations have emerged in the U.S., with Texas and Florida now being among the prominent examples. Both states can offer crypto miners access to affordable energy.

Wyoming, which has maintained a positive attitude towards cryptocurrencies for some time, can easily become the next bitcoin mining hotspot. Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a well-known supporter of Bitcoin, recently took to Twitter to welcome crypto miners to the state urging them to reach out.

Lummis tweeted her call on Saturday posting an excerpt of her interview from the CNBC Financial Advisor Summit in which she defended Bitcoin’s environmental record. The senator referred to research conducted at the University of Cambridge, according to which bitcoin mining uses about 40% renewable energy while the indicator stands at only 12% in the non-bitcoin mining economy. She emphasized:

Bitcoin mining is already more environmentally adapted to non-carbon emitting energy sources.

Bitcoin Mining Is Not an Energy Bad Guy, Says Cynthia Lummis

The Wyoming representative in the U.S. Senate also turned attention to the “innovation that’s happening behind the scenes” in the crypto mining industry, providing an example with her own energy-rich state. Wyoming is a producer of oil and gas and when a new well is drilled, initially it’s not connected to a pipeline, Lummis explained. Bitcoin miners are helping to utilize the gas that would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere with mobile mining platforms that can be installed and operated close to the source.

“I would say – don’t judge bitcoin mining as an energy bad guy. There are a lot of things going on to prove otherwise,” the lawmaker concluded. Cynthia Lummis also noted that cryptocurrency mining is helping the drilling industry in a way that keeps carbon out of the air while using it to produce another product in the form of bitcoin.

The race to attract crypto miners is on in the U.S. with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez recently giving his best to entice mining companies that are leaving China. “Hey, we want you to be here,” Suarez addressed them in another interview with CNBC, highlighting that his region relies on nuclear power which is a source of clean and cheap electrical energy.

Do you expect many crypto miners from China to relocate to the United States? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.