Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs with Zero Fees

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs with Zero Fees

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs With Zero Fees



Exchanges

Another Indian cryptocurrency exchange has launched crypto-to-crypto trading. Koinex is offering 23 crypto-to-crypto trading pairs with zero fees. Earlier this week, leading Indian exchange Zebpay also launched crypto-to-crypto trading but with only one trading pair.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Koinex’s Crypto-to-Crypto Trading

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs With Zero FeesIndian exchange Koinex announced last week, “We are delighted to announce the commencement of crypto-to-crypto trading on our platform,” elaborating:

We are going live with not just one or two crypto-crypto pairs; we are launching a total of 15 token pairs, all at the same time!…This is the largest crypto-crypto pair offering by any Indian exchange and to add to this, the trading fees will be zero.

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs With Zero FeesThe exchange then announced on Saturday the addition of 8 more crypto-to-crypto trading pairs, set to go live on Saturday night.

In addition, the “seller fee has been revised to 0.15% for the INR market. Buyer fee is now fixed at a flat rate of 0.15%,” Koinex detailed.

As for deposits, the exchange clarified, “INR deposits via UPI and Netbanking are now live with payment gateway 2. Deposit fee is 1.18% for UPI and 2% for Netbanking.” However, Koinex reiterated that “all other payment methods are discontinued…All INR withdrawals are temporarily halted.”

23 New Trading Pairs

Koinex currently has 19 coins listed for trading against the Indian rupee. Its 24-hour trading volume for all cryptocurrencies is approximately $5.5 million, according to Coinmarketcap.

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs With Zero FeesFor crypto-to-crypto trading, there are nine bitcoin trading pairs, six ether, and eight ripple –a total of 23. Bitcoin and ether trading pairs are already live and ripple pairs are set to go live on Saturday night, the exchange clarified. “For the first time in the crypto world, Koinex proudly presents XRP-based trading market with 8 XRP pairs going live tonight.”

“The tokens available in the bitcoin market will be ethereum (ETH/BTC), litecoin (LTC/BTC), TRON (TRX/BTC), ripple (XRP/BTC), omisego (OMG/BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH/BTC), EOS (EOS/BTC), nucleus vision (NCASH/BTC), and request (REQ/BTC),” Koinex wrote.

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs With Zero FeesFor the ether market, in addition to BTC, the exchange is offering trading pairs for BCH, TRX, XRP, OMG, EOS, and NCASH.

For the ripple market, customers can trade BTC as well as LTC, TRX, EOS, OMG, REQ, NCASH, AE (aeternity), and GNT (golem).

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs With Zero Fees

Bypassing RBI’s Order

Indian Exchange Launches 23 Crypto-to-Crypto Trading Pairs With Zero FeesOne of India’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Zebpay, also launched crypto-to-crypto trading last week with one trading pair – ETH/BTC.

Both Zebpay and Koinex launched their crypto-to-crypto trading services after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued an order banning banks and financial institutions under its control from dealing “in virtual currencies or provide services for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with or settling virtual currencies,” Koinex described, adding that:

Such services include maintaining accounts, registering, trading, settling, clearing, giving loans against virtual tokens, accepting them as collateral, opening accounts of exchanges dealing with them and transfer / receipt of money in accounts relating to purchase/ sale of virtual currencies.

The exchange warned that RBI’s order could cause “a disruption in [its] banking services” which “may affect our capacity to service withdrawals and deposits seamlessly.”

The RBI has since been taken to court by Kali Digital Eco-Systems. The Delhi High Court has accepted the company’s petition and issued a notice to the central bank. Other exchange operators are also planning to challenge the regulator as a consortium.

What do you think of Koinex launching crypto-to-crypto trading with 23 trading pairs? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Koinex.


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ICO Promoters Can Expect Canada to Be as Tough as the US

ICO Promoters Can Expect Canada to Be as Tough as the US

Matthew Burgoyne is an associate and head of the fintech practice group, and Ryan Franzen is partner for securities and fintech, at McLeod Law in Calgary, Alberta.


Unlike in the United States, Canada’s securities laws fall into the domain of the provinces. Arguably no area of provincial law has seen more activity as a result of the crypto boom than securities law, mainly due to the advent of initial coin offerings (ICOs).

On Aug. 24 of last year the Canadian Securities Administrators (an umbrella organization of Canada’s provincial securities regulators) published CSA Staff Notice 46-307 on cryptocurrency offerings, in which the authors posit that “[A] coin/token may still be a ‘security’ as defined in securities legislation of the jurisdictions of Canada. Businesses should complete an analysis on whether a security is involved.”

The Staff Notice goes on to confirm that Canada, through the seminal Pacific Coast Coin Exchange v. Ontario Securities Commission decision, has adopted the United States’ Howey Test in determining whether a particular investment constitutes an investment contract and therefore a security.

Although the authors of the Staff Notice admit that “Every ICO/ITO is unique and must be assessed on its own characteristics,” we believe provincial securities regulators in Canada wouldn’t take a radically different approach than the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission in analyzing whether tokens and coins are securities.  

We believe the provincial securities regulators in Canada would be as equally inquisitive and systematic as the SEC has reportedly been in its recent analysis of Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) contract based coin and token offerings.  Indeed there is evidence that similar investigations have begun in Canada.

An issuer selling tokens in an ICO to Canadians would certainly have its work cut out for it in attempting to argue it was in fact selling utilities, commodities or licenses to use some sort of yet-to-be developed platform.  

There are a number of examples in Canadian case law where issuers were attempting to sell “utilities” or something similar to modern day tokens and coins, where the court simply didn’t buy the argument.

The Furtak decision

Take for example the 2016 Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”) decision of Furtak.  The issuers in this case were selling licenses to use relatively complex financial software agreements which granted users the right to use the financial software to trade futures contracts.  

However, as part of the arrangement, the “users” would then contract with an affiliate of the issuer to operate the software. Users did not share in any profits or losses as a result of the use of the trading software but received certain trade report fees. In effect, users paid a licensing fee in expectation of generating a return through no effort of their own.

The issue for the securities regulators was, were the licenses investment contracts or something else, such as a set of contracts that created a business? The OSC ultimately found that the licenses were investment contracts.  

In arriving at its decision, it noted that:

“[T]he salient feature of a securities transaction is the public solicitation of venture capital to be used in a business enterprise…this subjection of the investor’s money to the risks of an enterprise over which he exercise no managerial control is the basic economic reality of a security transaction.”

The nature of the business enterprise can vary to a large extent. As the OSC noted, investment contracts have been found in Canadian and U.S. cases in arrangements as diverse as the use of solar panels, in proprietary software that would generate profits based on volatility, in fractional interests in death benefits of life insurance policies, in dental services sold by the promoter under sales agency agreements, in arrangements to share in the ownership and revenue from blood alcohol testing machines in pubs and even in payphones (remember those?).

The fact is, existing Canadian securities laws would probably already categorize most ICO tokens and coins as investment contracts, no matter how novel and supposedly unique they are. Some would argue the courts have seen it all before.

Provincial regulators in Canada have at least shown a willingness to work with crypto entrepreneurs, but to date the only published examples we have of where this cooperation occurred was when those entrepreneurs accepted the fact that their coins were securities and proceeded to move forward with the regulators on that basis. Even then the relief granted from securities laws was limited at best.

Limited relief

Around the time of the publication of the OSC Staff Notice, a number of provincial securities regulators granted limited relief from dealer registration requirements under securities laws where coins issued in an ICO were offered as securities.

For example, in August 2017, the responsible-investing firm Impak Finance Inc. received limited relief from certain registration requirements in conjunction with its ICO by the Autorité des marchés financiers in Quebec. Two months later, the OSC granted similar relief in conjunction with an ICO by Tokenfunder Inc., a company established to, among other things, facilitate the issuance of third party coins and tokens.

In our opinion, the two aforementioned examples demonstrate that where coins are issued in an ICO not only might they be treated as securities, but if exemptive relief from some securities laws is granted by a securities regulator, the relief won’t be dramatic or earth shattering.

The parameters that have accompanied the exemptive relief in these cases appear excessively obstructive to some in the crypto community, and may simply serve to highlight the scope of the jurisdiction of the securities regulators and the difficulties which arise given the application of securities laws.

For example, in both cases, each purchaser in the ICO is prohibited from purchasing more than $2,500 worth of coins (unless detailed know-your-client and suitability reviews on the purchaser are conducted) and Impak and Tokenfunder are restricted from listing and trading their coins on any cryptocurrency exchange unless prior approval is obtained from their respective provincial securities regulators.

Further, the coins in each ICO are subject to resale restrictions under securities law which impose a fairly stringent hold period where further trading and transfer of the coins are prohibited indefinitely (unless certain rigid criteria are met). This may be frustrating to some as certain coins and tokens need to be freely traded on the blockchain by many different participants in order to fulfill their intended purpose.

Despite the exemptive relief from dealer registration requirements provided by the securities regulators in these decisions, issuers should bear in mind that under applicable Canadian securities laws a person is only required to register as a dealer if they are engaging in or holding themselves out as engaging in the business of dealing in securities. Consequently, if an issuer is not “in the business”, then registration is not required, nor would exemptive relief from dealer registration requirements be necessary.

Simply because a corporation has issued shares in an initial public offering (IPO) to raise capital to fund its business, and those shares are listed on a stock exchange, does not mean the corporation is in the business of dealing in securities.

By extension, simply because a coin is issued in an ICO and subsequently traded on the blockchain does not necessarily mean the issuer of the coin is in the business of dealing in securities. In fact, unlike shares of a corporation, at the time a coin is traded on the blockchain, it may have its intended utility and essentially lost any security characteristic it initially had.

All told, ICO promoters should exercise caution in Canada when attempting to market a utility token without consideration of securities laws.  

Further, if you’ve come to accept that your token is an investment contract, then based on these decisions, expect to be treated like any other issuer of securities.

The authors would like to acknowledge Amanpreet Sran for her research, contributions and assistance with this article.

Canadian flag image via Shutterstock.

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Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?

Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?

Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?



Markets and Prices

From pump and dump groups to insiders trading on esoteric knowledge, market manipulation is rampant within the cryptocurrency space. While some of it is illegal, most of the activity is either legal or quasi-legal, falling into the sea of grey that separates lawful land from unlawful territory. Everyone knows that market manipulation is endemic. The question is, does anyone care?

Also read: Warren Buffett: Bitcoin is Gambling, a Game, Not an Investment

In the Beginning, There Was Fontas

Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?Traders have been manipulating the cryptocurrency markets since day one. In bitcoin’s earliest days, it and the altcoins that existed on a handful of illiquid exchanges were ripe for pumping, dumping, and then pumping again. Coins were won or lost in a heartbeat which, back then, were worth buttons. In hindsight, traders should have just hodled, as those $1 litecoins proved to be worth a whole lot more five years down the line (feathercoin and terracoin not so much).

One trader whose pseudonym was synonymous with pump and dumps back in 2014 was Fontas. Often these schemes would be orchestrated through the trollbox on Btc-e, an exchange whose attitude to illegal activity was laissez-faire to say the least. No one knows how much BTC Fontas made from preying on noobs who arrived late to the pumps he orchestrated with the promise of dropping “1 BTC buy bombs” to keep the green candle rising.

Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?

Phase II: Private Pumps

As the cryptocurrency markets started to mature, manipulation didn’t go away: it just went private, moving from public chatboxes to invite only Slack, Discord, and Telegram groups. The objective was still the same though: to buy cheap, force the coin to pump (now by spreading fake news about partnerships and other bullish signals) and then dumping at the top.

Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?

But pump and dumps are only one form of manipulation, and are arguably one of the more benign attempts at profiteering. Their effects are short-lived, and any trader who blindly chases a rising candle without understanding why it’s rocketing deserves little sympathy. Other attempts at gaming the system are more subtle and are not explicitly illegal, but their effects can be insidious. Examples include:

  • A developer who bulk buys a shitcoin and then suggests dual forking it with bitcoin to inflate the price
  • A major exchange that tells its cronies about an imminent coin listing, allowing them to secure a position before the masses pile in
  • A cryptocurrency team that buys more of its own coin prior to announcing a major partnership
  • A whale trading group that secures a discounted private sale allocation and then shills the ICO to the masses to ensure FOMO

Don’t Hate the Trader, Hate the Game

Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?Every second of every day, traders are trying to game the system and steal whatever advantage they can over their peers. Whales creating fake sell walls to psych out the market; Twitter traders taking positions before shilling the coin as an undiscovered gem; FUDsters FUDing; bots buying; wash traders washing. Everyone’s at it, and while most people aren’t breaking the law in the pursuit of profit, there’s a case for saying that manipulation should simply be accepted as part of life.

It’s been going on in the world of finance since day one, with insider trading and stock manipulation some of the oldest tricks in the book. Exchanges such as Bittrex and Cobinhood have condemned such behavior and the CFTC has offered pump and dump whistleblowers a $100k bounty. But given the inability of prosecutors to catch even a fraction of financial lawbreakers, what hope is there of headway in the free and easy world of cryptocurrency?

Everyone’s At It

A widely-shared Steemit post exposed blatant attempts to manipulate an altcoin, but many who read it demurred with the author’s assertion that a crime of the highest order had been perpetrated. “I’ve already contacted the SEC, FBI and other federal authorities regarding their activities on the market. I have all intentions of making an in-person visit either today…or tomorrow to deliver all of these screenshots,” they vigorously concluded. Some would argue that crypto users crying foul to the three-letter agencies is counter-productive and the last thing the community needs.

Cryptocurrency Market Manipulation Is Rife – But Does Anyone Care?
Martha Stewart is one of the unlucky ones who got caught insider trading

In his recent autobiography, “A Higher Loyalty”, former FBI director James Comey recalled his decision to prosecute Martha Stewart for insider trading when he was Attorney General. The sum the cooking magnate had cashed in was trifling – around $50,000 worth of stocks – but she was prosecuted in the end because there was clear evidence showing she had benefited from insider information and later lied about it. Most cases, Comey conceded, are unprosecutable because it is hard to prove the reason behind someone buying or selling an asset. Offloading a stock just before it dumps could be nothing more than a coincidence.

How to Deal with Market Manipulation

Given the impossibility of eradicating market manipulation, it may be wise to seek a more pragmatic solution. One is for the crypto community to continue publicly condemning such behavior, while in private accepting that nothing can be done about it. The alternative is to embrace manipulation and accept it as part of the cut-and-thrust of trading. This notion isn’t as outlandish as it might sound: some people believe that doping should be allowed in professional sport because if all athletes dabbled, it would create an even playing field. Who’s to say that shilling a coin on Twitter is any more ethical than pumping a shitcoin in a private group, or profiting off the inside scoop on Coinbase’s next token listing?

When Martha Stewart emerged from her short prison sentence in 2005, it was to find that her fortune had increased by $200 million. Ironically, a few months away from trading could be the most profitable thing a crypto investor does. When the punishment is more profitable than the crime, there’s a case for saying that prosecution is pointless. Manipulators gonna manipulate and insider traders gonna inside trade. It’s just human nature.

Do you think market manipulation is inevitable and should it be illegal? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia, and Twitter.


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The Crypto Community Must Use the Blockchain to Self-Police

The Crypto Community Must Use the Blockchain to Self-Police

Yaya J. Fanusie is the director of analysis at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. He tweets at @signcurve.


Self-policing illicit activity on the blockchain may soon be a necessity for the cryptocurrency space.

The everyday cryptocurrency enthusiast in the future is likely to spend time identifying illicit wallets and transactions to avoid. The U.S. Treasury Department has made that inevitable.

A few weeks ago, Treasury quietly published additions to its FAQs section on the website for the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the unit which oversees U.S. economic sanctions. The language shows that OFAC is planning to include “digital currency” addresses on its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list.

This would be a big deal.

Banks and all types of businesses are supposed to check the SDN list to ensure they do not provide financial services to people, organizations, and governments which the U.S. has designated as “blocked” due to involvement in terrorism, nuclear proliferation, kleptocracy, human rights violations, and other crimes.

Banks can be legally compelled to freeze any assets they have custody over that belong to those on OFAC’s list, and stop their transactions. The financial penalties for not doing so can be severe. And while most everyday cryptocurrency investors know little about the legalese-laden world of sanctions compliance, anyone running any sort of financial business knows that noncompliance can put you out of business-and potentially, in jail – quick.

Never before has a specific cryptocurrency address or wallet been listed by OFAC, although legal experts have understood for years that sending bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies to anyone on the SDN list is illegal for U.S. persons.

Still, there is a big difference between blocking funds in the fiat banking world and what can be done in the realm of crypto. Peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions cannot be blocked or reversed by third parties.

So an OFAC-designated crypto wallet is likely going to bring more scrutiny on the external addresses it transacts with rather than the designated wallet itself.

Some cryptocurrency industry compliance experts argue that digital currency wallet designations could usher in a new era; where tokens get categorized as either clean, tainted, or unknown with regard to their level of association with SDN addresses.

This might cause varying price levels for coins on the same blockchain, with clean tokens valued above those with tainted or unclear origins, and the end of the fungibility that cryptocurrencies have enjoyed since their existence.

One can also expect that blockchain forensics tools will become more valuable and more widely deployed as crypto exchanges aim to lessen the risk of transacting with users with tainted coins.

It’s on you

However, the more significant part of a new era arising from financial authorities scrutinizing cryptocurrency addresses is going to be what the cryptocurrency community itself will have to do: Work to prevent illicit transactions on the blockchain.

This is something many in the crypto space do not want to hear.

Cryptocurrency experts often point to “censorship resistance” as the technology’s most valuable feature, enabling anyone to store and send funds, unencumbered by any government authority. In theory, this is a strong enabler of freedom and democracy.

But in practice, this technical ability has never been a scalable reality given the reach of laws in most jurisdictions relating to financial crime. While evading the impositions of corrupt governments is a worthy goal, the crypto community should recognize that it is morally unacceptable to stay passive while evidence grows that criminals and terrorists are exploiting the community’s freedom.

In recent years, anti-money laundering (AML) compliance experts focusing on the blockchain industry have encouraged cryptocurrency firms to go beyond doing the “know your customer” (KYC) due diligence required of traditional financial institutions and do “know your transaction” (KYT) analysis by leveraging data on the blockchain.

There are multiple startups specializing in such blockchain forensics, serving crypto exchanges along with other enterprise customers like law enforcement agencies and large banks. These companies’ analytic tools are useful for fighting crime, but many voices in the crypto community criticize such tools–which deanonymize financial transactions on the blockchain–for undermining privacy. However, most information from blockchain forensics is not shared publicly. One usually needs to be a corporate or government client to access the data.

But OFAC listing cryptocurrency addresses would raise the stakes of KYT analysis.

It would make it more important for anyone involved in cryptocurrency transactions to verify the “licitness” of the addresses they touch.

And although it is likely that the number of designated addresses would be minimal to begin with (OFAC does not make designations lightly), even the small chance of a sanctions violation brings compliance risk mitigation into the picture for Joe Blow Token Buyer.

An inadvertent transaction with a banned address or an address that has transacted with a banned address would be viewable on the public blockchain ledger, possibly tainting that person’s cryptocurrency wallet as well.

The only way to help everyday users of cryptocurrency navigate the maze of an SDN-laden blockchain platform would be having real-time AML/KYT insight into the funding flows of various wallet addresses. This is not possible under the current environment where blockchain analysis is done in siloes, available just to financial firms and law enforcement.

Crowdsourced AML

What’s needed is an open-source platform where illicit activity is flagged and derogatory information is vetted. Call it crowdsourced AML on the blockchain.

I understand this need. As a researcher at a nonprofit national security think tank, I’ve investigated cases of cryptocurrencies and illicit financing, such as bitcoin terrorist funding campaigns in the Middle East. Our team has used free public blockchain explorer websites to analyze donations to these campaigns.

These tools are not as robust as what the government and banks can access with costly specialized machine learning and algorithmic tools. And even  if I, through rigorous manual tracking and analysis of blockchain activity, flag addresses I see transacting with a terrorist funding wallet, there is no efficient way to share my findings on a platform so everyday cryptocurrency users could see my “flags,” evaluate their veracity, and stay clear of those addresses, as appropriate.

The industry can help.

Two years ago, I suggested that cryptocurrency experts should set up their own watchdog groups to look out for nefarious activity on the blockchain, similar to how “white hat” hackers flag viruses and other cyber threats. Treasury’s plans make it more important now for the crypto space to build self-policing initiatives.

And besides incorporating OFAC’s blacklist, a public crowdsourced blockchain AML tool could address an illicit finance threat that affects crypto users directly: crypto heists. It would allow victims of ransomware or exchange hacks to voluntarily list their extorted or stolen tokens. While that won’t bring funds back to their rightful owners, it could make moving or stealing coins more difficult and disincentivize cryptocurrency theft in the long term.

Of course, for a self-policing AML platform to work, there would have to be a way to vet listings so that inaccurate and false information is not published. Otherwise, such a tool could be misused to falsely malign addresses, and thus, undermine innocent people financially. But this is more a technical problem to solve rather than a reason to not pursue a better way of doing AML on the blockchain.

The breakthrough of the first blockchain protocol, bitcoin, was in designing a decentralized way to incentivize strangers to compete and confirm the veracity of a global public financial record.

Certainly, with all the attention, time, and money invested in new products and services built off of cryptocurrency tokens, those who are developing this technology should be able to design ways to incentivize keeping the blockchain clean.

Police car image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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New Store Sells Cryptocurrencies for Regular Old Cash in Croatia

New Store Sells Cryptocurrencies for Regular Old Cash in Croatia

New Store Sells Cryptocurrencies for Regular Old Cash in Croatia



News

A “Bitcoin store” has opened doors in Croatia. It sells bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and even issues receipts. The shop is a welcome addition to the steadily growing crypto sector in the Balkan country. The team behind the project plans to expand to all major Croatian cities and even other countries in the region.

Also read: Steps towards Self-Regulation in Croatia and Slovenia

OTC Point of Sale Now Operational in Split

The new walk-in point of sale is located in the Croatian city of Split, a famous tourist destination on the Adriatic coast. The store on Hrvatske Mornarice Street currently offers direct sales of bitcoin, ether and other altcoins, Bitfalls reports. The premium is around 5 percent on top of the average prices at Coinmarketcap. Customers are given a receipt and proof of purchase for tax reporting purposes.

New Store Sells Cryptocurrencies for Regular Old Cash in Croatia

Bitcoin Store is arguably the first of its kind in the country, and probably on the Balkans. Bitkonan, the Croatian crypto exchange behind the project, has plans to offer similar OTC (over the counter) solutions to residents and guests of other major cities, starting from Zagreb and Rijeka. Its team also hopes to expand in the region, depending on demand for this kind of service in neighboring countries.

The cryptocurrency sector in Croatia, including crypto trading, has seen a rapid development. Bitfalls’ own project, Coinvendor, is already processing direct purchases of digital coins through bank transfers and its services are available globally. The Bitcoin Store in Split now adds another dimension, offering cryptocurrencies for fiat cash.

Croatians Helping Their Government with Regulations

Interest towards cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and blockchain technologies has increased significantly in Croatia over the last several years. The local crypto community has grown with many new crypto companies and businesses accepting crypto payments. Bitcoin ATMs have been installed in major Croatian cities, including the capital Zagreb, the second-largest city Split, Rijeka, and Pula.

Bitcoin Store Sells Cryptocurrencies for Cash in CroatiaThe Croatian government, however, has yet to respond adequately to the bitcoin boom and adopt a long-awaited comprehensive regulatory framework. The Croatian National Bank (HNB) has taken a conservative stance. It stated last year that cryptocurrencies are not legal means of payment under the current laws in the country. The central bank also noted that they should not be considered electronic money.

Earlier this year, blockchain businesses and crypto enthusiasts in Croatia announced intentions to “help authorities take informed decisions” about the cryptocurrency sector. The local crypto community established a new organization called Udruga za Blockchain i Kriptovalute (UBIK), or Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association. Its main task is to channel their efforts towards adopting meaningful regulations. UBIK has already declared readiness to advise authorities on all crypto-related matters. It is also providing legal, financial, and technical support to its members.

Do you agree that over the counter bitcoin sales can bring more people into the crypto world? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Google Maps.


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Bank of America Is Closing My Three-Year-Old’s Account Over Crypto

Bank of America Is Closing My Three-Year-Old’s Account Over Crypto

Tim Enneking is the managing director of Crypto Asset Management in San Diego, California.


My daughter is 3 years old. Bank of America is closing her bank account on May 4 because of her “risk profile” and, it would appear, her “connection” with the crypto space.

Please let me explain. My management company manages a hedge fund which does indeed routinely invest in the crypto space. Importantly, the management company itself does not trade crypto.

The fund has an account with a bank other than BoA; the management company, my wife and I, and our daughter all have our bank accounts with Bank of America. This has led to some rather curious consequences.

My wife and I opened our joint checking and savings accounts with Bank of America (in La Jolla, CA) about four years ago, well before I founded the management company. We opened a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account there for our daughter shortly after she was born. We have fifty dollars a month transferred into that account automatically to kick-start her college fund; that is pretty much the extent of the activity in the account.

There have never been any transfers into or out of my daughter’s account other than with the joint account my wife and I have in the same BoA branch. There certainly has not been any activity even vaguely related to crypto assets in it.

On April 4 of this year, we received notices dated two days prior that Bank of America would restrict our accounts in 21 days and close them in 30.

The management company received three such notices (one for each of its two bank accounts and one for its BoA credit card); my wife and I received three such notices (for each bank account and for my wife’s BoA credit card); and our three-year-old daughter received one notice for her account. 

Other than saying that these decisions were “final and won’t be reconsidered,” only the notice canceling the management company’s credit card had any explanation: “because your risk profile no longer aligns with the bank’s risk tolerance” – for a card linked to an account which has had an average six-figure balance since it was opened and for a company which has never had any debt whatsoever and has an eight-figure balance sheet.

It gets better.

Are you now, or have you ever been?

Just prior to our receiving these letters, on March 28, 2018, the Bank of America Money Services Business Control Center sent the management company a Customer Data Form for Money Services Businesses (MSBs), with numerous questions regarding what the management company does.

All of the questions were related to specific monetary transactions (transfers, exchanging currencies, issuing travelers checks), except the last one: “Does the Business engage in virtual/digital/crypto currency activity?”

To such a broad question, we answered yes – and duly completed the entire questionnaire and sent it back the same day.

When the cancellation notices arrived less than a week later, we were very impressed with the alacrity with which BoA operated.

Hardly…

Let me emphasize: the management company doesn’t deal in cryptocurrency. It doesn’t act as an exchange. It doesn’t act as a money handler. Its primary role is processing payroll for management company employees.

However, the word “crypto” does appear in its name. That apparently is a mortal sin in the eyes of BoA.

Two days after we received the notices of all of these closings of various accounts, I received a call from a woman who introduced herself as an employee of the Bank of America MSB Control Center.

She wanted to discuss some queries she had regarding our replies to certain questions on the Customer Data Form. I politely explained to her that her company had already told us that it was closing all of our accounts irrevocably, to which she blithely replied, “Oh, does that mean you don’t want to answer my questions?”

Somewhat nonplussed, I said, “What would be the point? Is there a chance that BoA then won’t close our accounts?”

To which she replied: “Oh, I have no idea about that. Are you sure that BoA is closing your accounts? If so, we’ll still close them, but if you answer my questions, we’ll have the information necessary to complete our records.”

I declined as politely as I could at that point and that was the end of the conversation.

Knee-jerk reaction

So, aside from the fact that the right hand of Bank of America clearly does not know what the left hand is doing, it would seem to me that BoA has gone a bit far in what is clearly a knee-jerk reaction to all things “crypto” and all things related – no matter how indirectly – to crypto.

My three-year-old daughter has a risk profile which does not align with the risk tolerance of Bank of America? In that case, I’m amazed BoA has any clients at all.

Dear fiat-centric people: Please stop being so paranoid.

Please stop trying to swat a fly with a sledgehammer (if you must treat crypto assets like a fly). Using a firehose to put out a match (sorry to mix metaphors) is simply bad business. The crypto space is expanding faster than any other segment of the financial sector.

Beware: One day, you will need it more than it needs you and you will regret such un-nuanced behavior.

In the meantime, the management company, my wife, daughter and I have all opened two new sets of accounts – with different banks, just in case.

I have, however, realized what the motto of Bank of America should be:

“Ready, fire, aim!”

Child playing with abacus image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Hong Kong Alcohol Company Buys 51% of Bitcoin Miner for $60 Million

Hong Kong Alcohol Company Buys 51% of Bitcoin Miner for $60 Million

Hong Kong Alcohol Company Buys 51% of Crypto Miner for $60 Million



Mining

Regardless of what the central Chinese government tries to do or say, bitcoin and cryptocurrency remain popular investments among everyday people in China. And a new way to get exposure to the ecosystem just materialized for those with access to the Hong Kong market, a publicly traded company entered the mining industry.

Also Read: This Week in Bitcoin: Amazon Wants to Track You and TD Ameritrade Plants a Flag

Wine and Mine

Hong Kong Alcohol Company Buys 51% of Crypto Miner for $60 MillionDiginex Limited, a multinational crypto-asset investment company headquartered in Hong Kong has announced it sold a 51% stake of its cryptocurrency mining and high performance computing (HPC) operation for $60 million USD to Madison Group Holdings (HKG: 8057), a distributor of alcoholic beverages. An MOU (memorandum of understanding) between the two companies detailed a number of synergies, including the leveraging of Diginex’s proprietary platform Digiassets that can be used by holders of cryptocurrencies to purchase high value wines and other assets.

Madison Holdings Group, formerly Madison Wine, is an investment holding company mainly focused on the retail and wholesale alcoholic beverages business. The company offers a wide spectrum of fine wines, wine related products and other spirits such as premium and rare whiskies, cognacs and Chinese baijiu in Hong Kong. Madison is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 2015.

GPU Farms in Asia, Sweden and Switzerland

Hong Kong Alcohol Company Buys 51% of Crypto Miner for $60 MillionDiginex, which privately owned, has offices in Hong Kong, Switzerland, Germany and Japan. It has mining operations in Asia, Switzerland and Sweden. The $60 million investment by Madison is said to allow Diginex to fast track the expansion of their GPU mining operations in Western Europe in partnership with hardware suppliers, power and security providers in order to build a secure and efficient GPU-based cryptocurrency mining data center.

Miles Pelham, the CEO of Diginex, stated: “this cash injection allows us to expedite our steps towards becoming the global provider of Distributed Ledger Technologies. We will continue to build out our mining operations in Sweden and Switzerland, but also focus on helping corporates and governments across the world to implement transformative DLT applications.”

Are there any synergies between wine cellars and crypto mining farms that these companies can now exploit? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Binance, Bermuda Ink $15 Million Crypto Investment Agreement

Binance, Bermuda Ink $15 Million Crypto Investment Agreement

Binance plans to set up its new global compliance center in Bermuda over the next few months, Premier David Burt has announced.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Friday, Burt announced that a memorandum of understanding has been signed, under which the Binance Charity Foundation will put $10 million toward educational programs related to the tech. An additional $5 million will be invested in blockchain startups.

On top of that, Binance will help the Bermuda government develop a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as well as establish a new office in the country.

Burt said during the press conference:

“Through this partnership, Binance proposes to develop its global compliance base here in Bermuda, creating at least 40 jobs in Bermuda with at least 30 jobs for Bermudians … [and] as soon as practical, develop a digital asset exchange in Bermuda subject to all required legal and regulatory processes, and finally, work collaboratively with the government of Bermuda and all necessary oversight agencies in the development and improvement of the robust legal and regulatory framework.”

Binance CEO and founder Zhao Changpeng said Bermuda’s government and regulatory bodies “are one of the most approachable on the planet,” and said his company would “commit to helping the local economy.”

The exchange has already begun working with a local law firm to ensure the startup’s new office would be compliant with relevant laws, he added.

During the press conference, Zhao also addressed the recent lawsuit filed against Binance, noting that “the Hong Kong high court has already rejected it and ordered Sequoia to repay our legal fees.”

In his closing remarks, Burt also mentioned the new legislation Bermuda intends to pass regulating initial coin offerings. Burt claimed that Bermuda intends to “comprehensively govern” initial coin offerings that are conducted within the country’s borders.

“We want to ensure that Bermuda is the world’s number-one place for regulation inside of this space. We have a reputation to protect,  we will protect it but we will work with all persons who we believe represents future growth for the people of this country and future opportunities and jobs,” Burt said.

Premier David Burt; Changpeng Zhao image via Bernews

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PR: LEEKICO helps Blockchain Network Connectivity Project NKN to Close Successful Crowdfunding

PR: LEEKICO helps Blockchain Network Connectivity Project NKN to Close Successful Crowdfunding

LEEKICO helps Blockchain Network Connectivity Project NKN to Close Successful Crowdfunding

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

Sydney, Australia – LEEKICO, a one-stop-service ICO platform, successfully supported NKN, a project aiming to rebuild the Internet that will be truly open, decentralized, dynamic, safe, shared and owned by the community, completed its highly anticipated token sale on April 19th, 2018. With LEEKICO’s support, NKN collected a total of ETH 24,100.

NKN’s early bird sale, which was only opened to participants who were previously whitelisted for the project, started on April 2nd and was completed on April 8th. The main ICO took place on April 19th and collected 70% of the hard cap in the first 3 minutes, with the cap reached shortly after.

LEEKICO supported NKN in both stages of the ICO, managing the KYC (Know Your Customer) whitelisting during the first stage and the crowdfunding during the second. Thanks to LEEKICO’s service and marketing support, the project managed to reach 2,000 participants, and generate over 9,000 new sign ups to LEEKICO’s platform and deliver over 15,000 visitors per second to the project’s website at its peak.

NKN (New Kind of Network) is a new generation of highly scalable, self-evolving and self-incentivized blockchain network infrastructure. NKN addresses the network decentralization and self-evolution by introducing Cellular Automata (CA) methodology for both dynamism and efficiency. NKN tokenizes network connectivity and data transmission capacity by a novel and useful Proof of Work.

NKN focuses on decentralizing network resources, similar to how Bitcoin and Ethereum decentralize computing power as well as how IPFS and Filecoin decentralize storage. Together, they form the three pillars of the Internet infrastructure for next generation blockchain systems. NKN ultimately makes the network more decentralized, efficient, equalized, robust and secure, thus enabling healthier, safer, and more open Internet.

“NKN intends to revolutionize the entire network technology and business. We want to be the Uber or Airbnb of the trillion-dollar communication service business, but without a central entity” Said Yanbo Li, founder and core developer of NKN. “We aspire to free the bits, and build the Internet we always wanted, and we could not have found a better partner than LEEKICO to help us run the token sale while we focus on developing our vision.”

NKN is an open source community-driven blockchain project, where the team members join on a voluntary basis. The project is spearheaded by experienced blockchain, network and computing specialists including Yanbo Li, previously co-founder of Onchain, and eminent advisors such as Whitfield Diffie, winner of the 2015 Turing Award.

The LEEKICO platform allows project teams to focus on developing their solution and technology by taking care of the ICO process. LEEKICO applies strict KYC (Know-Your-Customer) and region restriction policies and works with compliance agencies on top of its rigorous due diligence process to ensure a successful token sale. The LEEKICO team thoroughly reviews each project team, solution and plans, before giving them access to its friendly customer support team, marketing and promotional resources, as well as its network of over 30,000 users in 40 countries.

LEEKICO is extremely experienced in managing both private sales and crowdfunding and has successfully supported a number of projects including IPFS, Singularitynet, Qash, INS, Cybermiles before NKN.

LEEKICO is currently supporting the upcoming ICO of Shivom, a new blockchain project aiming to provide a platform where individuals can ‘donate’ their genomic data for use by researchers, securely store and control who accesses the information, and earn rewards as a result.

About LEEKICO

LEEKICO shares the belief of asset decentralization and commits to promoting the wave of global cryptocurrency start-up companies. LEEKICO aims to build an initial coin offering platform with ensured security, integrity, fairness and transparency for both start-up companies and investors. LEEKICO provides cryptocurrency and blockchain start-up companies with crowdfunding services, and provides investors with comprehensive cryptocurrency consulting services, pre-ICO, and post-ICO management service. Both start-up companies who are planning to go through an ICO process and investors who are involved in ICO projects will enjoy the best experience with LEEKICO’s one-stop service provided by the LEEKICO platform.
http://leekico.com/

About NKN

NKN (New Kind of Network) is a new generation of highly scalable, self-evolving and self incentivized blockchain network infrastructure. NKN addresses the network decentralization and self-evolution by introducing Cellular Automata (CA) methodology for both dynamism and efficiency. NKN tokenizes network connectivity and data transmission capacity by a novel and useful Proof of Work. The NKN Foundation is registered in Singapore.

https://www.nkn.org/

Contact Email Address
[email protected]
Supporting Link
http://leekico.com/

This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

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5 More Payments Firms to Adopt Ripple’s xVia Tech

5 More Payments Firms to Adopt Ripple’s xVia Tech

Five payments providers in Europe and Asia are set to use Ripple’s xVia technology, the distributed ledger startup announced Thursday.

The company’s new customers include U.K.-based firms FairFX, RationalFX and Exchange4Free, in addition to peer-to-peer currency exchange platform MoneyMatch in Malaysia and settlements company UniPay from the Republic of Georgia.

Using Ripple’s xVia tech will help these companies expand their customer base, said Ripple senior vice president of product Asheesh Birla.

“All of these customers run into the same problem: building bespoke connections to banks and networks all over the world. It’s expensive and time consuming,” he said in a statement. “xVia enables them to grow their overall market share by reaching new customers in new markets, easier than ever before.”

Ripple explained in a blog post that, unlike traditional means of transferring funds abroad, such as wire transfers, xVia’s standard API solution means that it doesn’t suffer from high failure rates and manual reconciliation costs.

FairFX’s chief commercial officer, James Hickman, said xVia “will allow us to reach more people, more efficiently and at a lower cost.”

“It will also enable us to deliver on our commitment to give customers the most transparent, efficient and truly global money transfer possible using RippleNet,” he said.

Ripple has been steadily acquiring new customers, and announced in February that fintech firms Beetech and Zip Remit also planned to adopt xVia.

Water ripples image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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