Stellar [XLM], Cardano [ADA], & Ethereum [ETH] Price Update – the Skies the Limit

Stellar [XLM]

This week the entire cryptocurrency market hit a year low and closely scraped going under the $250 billion mark.

Source: CoinMarketCap

Many speculate that the reason for this week’s dip is due to the Bitcoin futures, but the impact the futures have on the greater market remains a mystery to most.

Most coins within the top 100 are in the green today, let’s take a look at a few that are outperforming the rest.

Stellar [XLM] 

It was just announced that the tech giant IBM (NYSE:IBM) ...

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Russians Owe 13% Tax on Their Crypto Incomes

Russians Owe 13% Tax on Their Crypto Incomes

Russian citizens are expected to pay 13 percent tax on their crypto-related incomes. Amendments to the tax code are currently being prepared. The exact rates should be confirmed by the end of the year. However, lawyers have warned that even now citizens risk criminal prosecution if they fail to report gains from dealings with cryptocurrencies.

Also read: 0 to 50 percent – Time to Pay Crypto Taxes in the European “Union”

Tax Obligations Apply to All Residents, Including Foreigners

Lawmakers are finalizing the legislation that should regulate crypto-related matters in the Russian Federation. Two bills have been filed in the State Duma in the last couple of weeks. The draft law “On Digital Financial Assets” legalizes blockchain technologies, mining operations and initial coin offerings. Another bill amends Russia’s Civil Code to introduce terms like “digital money” and protect the rights of crypto investors. The bills should be adopted by early summer but changes to the tax laws are expected to follow later.

In the meantime, private individuals in the Russian Federation are not free from the obligation to inform tax authorities on their income from cryptocurrency operations. The standard tax rate of 13 percent is applicable to gains from trading cryptos like bitcoin, according to a letter by the Finance Ministry. The clarification notice has been issued in response to a private request (№03-04-05/66994) filed in October last year.

Russians Owe 13% Tax on Their Crypto Incomes

Although the letter is just a recommendation, tax lawyers say it reflects the stance of the ministry and should be used as a reference before new rules are adopted, Kommersant reports. The income tax rate, and other crypto-related parameters of taxation will be officially confirmed with the amendments of the tax code. Russia’s parliament and the Ministry of Finance are currently working on these changes expected to take effect by the end of the year.

Until that happens, Russian citizens are required to report crypto income on their tax returns and pay the regular income tax which has a flat rate of 13 percent. Foreign nationals present in the Russian Federation for at least 183 days in a year are treated and taxed as permanent residents. In all other cases the rate is doubled to 30 percent. Dividends are taxed at 6 percent (15 percent for non-residents).

Miners Can Pay Taxes as Individual Entrepreneurs or Legal Entities

The draft legislation, currently under review in the lower house of Russia’s parliament, defines crypto mining as an “entrepreneurial activity”. That means miners will be have to either register as individual entrepreneurs, or set up companies. In any case, they will be required to report their profits and pay their taxes. The applicable tax rates, and tax rights, depend on the type of registration they choose. Corporate profit tax in Russia is 24 percent.

Russians Owe 13% Tax on Their Crypto Incomes

Many aspects of crypto taxation need further clarification. Legal experts say that Russian tax officials lack the expertise necessary to address the matter adequately. The Federal Tax Service inspectors are struggling to understand how crypto exchanges work, and have no idea how to identify the owner of a cryptocurrency wallet.

At the same time, traditional regulations collide with the principles of anonymity and independence associated with cryptocurrencies. Nevertheless, individuals and businesses risk prosecution if they fail to report their incomes and gains from crypto-related activities. That’s why tax lawyers advise both citizens and companies to pay their taxes on time.

Do you agree that tax authorities should first do their homework on cryptocurrencies before they tax crypto incomes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bitcoin Futures the Beginning of a New Derivatives Class: Wedbush Securities Director

Less than three months have passed since the first Bitcoin futures contracts exchanges hands on a regulated US exchange, but one industry veteran says that his clients are already clamoring for more cryptocurrency derivatives. Bitcoin Futures the Beginning of a New Derivatives Class: Wedbush Securities Director Bob Fitzsimmons, who spent decades in the trading pits … Continued

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Crypto Still Tax Free in Korea but Regulators Have Set Timeframe for Taxation

Cryptocurrency transactions are still tax-free in South Korea due to a lack of tax regulations. As the law stands, citizens are able to profit millions of won from cryptocurrencies without being required to pay taxes on them. However, the regulators have set a tentative timeframe for the introduction of the crypto tax law.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Still No Tax on Crypto Transactions

A lawyer in his early 40s recently revealed that he “made a profit of nearly 30 million won last year on investments in bitcoin and ether, but he did not pay any tax on virtual currency investments,” Money Today reported. The news outlet reiterated:

There is no obligation to pay tax even if you earn hundreds of thousands of won or even hundreds of millions of won in virtual currency investments.

Crypto Still Tax Free In Korea But Regulators Have Set Timeframe For TaxationMeanwhile, when selling stocks, there is a sales tax of 0.3% for listed securities and 0.5% for unlisted ones, the news outlet detailed.

“In the case of the ‘major shareholder,’ the obligation to pay tax on capital gains is also imposed. Unlisted shares also pay taxes on capital gains.”

Tax Regulation Timeframe

Crypto Still Tax Free In Korea But Regulators Have Set Timeframe For TaxationTo rectify the situation, the tax authorities have set up “a virtual currency taxation standard in the first National Tax Administrative Reform Committee in 2018,” Money Today informed. Furthermore, the 2018 economic policy direction, announced by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, has a schedule set for crypto taxation plan for the first half of this year, the news outlet added, noting that:

Korea will be able to pass the tax bill in the first half of this year if it is included in the amendment bill of the August tax law. Virtual currency taxation will be implemented next year.

Recently, local media reported that “Virtual currency taxation will come out in June.” However, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance subsequently issued a statement, clarifying that, “we are currently considering the taxation data through virtual currency taxation task force regarding virtual currency taxation,” adding that the media report was “not true.” An official of the ministry confirmed:

We did not set a specific time frame but we are thinking about announcing a virtual money tax during the first half of the year.

Crypto exchanges will also pay taxes. While reiterating that “Virtual money exchanges will have to pay taxes,” an official of the ministry was quoted by local publications early this year explaining that “we have yet to decide the exact tax rates as we are in talks with the National Tax Agency.”

What do you think of South Korea’s tax plan for crypto transactions? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bitcoin Magazine’s Week in Review: South Korea Rises, Cryptocurrencies Falter

Week in Review

The week began with news that Twitter’s ban on cryptocurrency ads was taking effect immediately, affecting an industry already taking a hit in interest worldwide. Studies are showing that internet searches are on the decline. But things are looking a little more optimistic in areas like South Korea, which seems poised for growth. Indeed, it was announced that cryptocurrencies will be accepted in over 6,000 South Korean stores over the coming months.

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This week's tories contributed by Jeremy Epstein, Nick Marinoff and Amy Castor

Twitter Abruptly Bans Cryptocurrency Ads — Beginning Today

Less than two weeks ago, the social media giant announced it was developing new policies which would lead to the eventual ban of cryptocurrency and ICO-related advertisements on its platform. That ban suddenly took effect on March 27.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of the Twitter community,” said a company representative. “As such, we have added a new policy for Twitter Ads related to cryptocurrency. Under this new policy, the advertisement of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token sales will be prohibited globally.”

Cryptocurrency Interest: Is It on the Decline, and Could It Spike Again?

Following a three-month period of drooping prices, it appears interest in bitcoin and digital currencies is falling to new lows, and the market value is sinking along with it. In addition, interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrency related jobs is generally on the decline, though blockchain gigs remain stable enough. Some regions, like India, on the other hand, are seeing job growth.

What we’re probably witnessing is a “shift” in interest, not necessarily a lack of regard for cryptocurrencies; instead, interest may be adapting as people learn more. Analysts are still predicting that overall interest in crypto could spike again later this year. Many remain bullish on virtual assets, particularly bitcoin, and suggest it could reach new price highs by the summer of 2018.

Cryptocurrency Exchange Bitfinex Plans Move to Switzerland

Bitfinex, the fifth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by 24-hour trading volume, is looking to hoist itself out of Hong Kong and settle in Switzerland. As confirmed by sources close to Bitfinex, the exchange is already in talks with Swiss authorities.

Jean-Louis van der Velde, CEO at Bitfinex, hints that a move to Switzerland would bring a renewed transparency to the business. “We want to be the most transparent of all exchanges and meet the requirements of the Swiss regulator,” he said.

Op Ed: Why Korea Could Be the First Cryptocurrency-Powered Nation

Korea has many of the pieces of the puzzle to become the first “Crypto-Powered Nation,” one that runs on blockchains and supports a crypto economy.

Cryptocurrency awareness and adoption are already widespread throughout the country. The end result is that the crypto-infrastructure is in place to handle a large number of customers and almost everyone there has heard of the concept.

The current government, led by President Moon Jae-in, relies heavily on the support of the young adult population. Not surprisingly, this is the same demographic that is highly invested in crypto-assets. As a result, the government is likely to support balanced regulation when it comes to cryptocurrencies. “The government needs the young people to stay in power, and young adults love crypto. They are not going to mess that up.”

Between the money coming in and going out, Korean exchanges and the network of providers that support them are seeing a huge amount of activity. The end result is that they are being forced to innovate on security and scaling solutions. The in-country knowledge could ultimately trickle down to benefit other South Korean companies in the blockchain industry. This, in turn, would give them a competitive advantage by allowing these companies to test and refine a lot of these systems at enterprise scale within the country.

Combine all that with an intense culture of achievement, a drive for economic success and an increasingly global outlook as the country has vaulted to become one of the top 10 economies worldwide, and you have the recipe for a powerful cycle of innovation.

South Koreans Will Be Able to Pay in Cryptocurrency at Over 6,000 Stores

Popular South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb is partnering with digital payment service provider Korea Pay Services (KPS) to pave the way for widespread digital asset adoption in the country. Both companies are working to give over 6,000 of the country’s retail outlets the option of accepting cryptocurrency payments for goods and services.

Executives say they are seeking to launch these new services by summer of 2018, then increase the number of stores to 8,000 by the year’s end.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Slump Begone: What’s Next For Cryptocurrencies? Tokens & Purpose

I know most of you are worried about price and the recent slump in the overall market valuation. Personally speaking, that does not concern me one bit as I believe this price and volume downfall is just temporary. As I mentioned before the market is no-where near maturity as the basis technology – distributed ledgers

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Wendy McElroy: How Centralized Exchanges Intend to Devastate You

How Centralized Exchanges Intend to Devastate You

The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations
Section 2: The Moral Imperative of Privacy
Chapter 6: Privacy is a Prerequisite for Human Rights

How Centralized Exchanges Intend to Devastate You. Chapter 6, Part 6.

The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work…We have to trust them [third parties] with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves [including government] drain our accounts.
Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi never envisioned centralized exchanges. The spectacle would have appalled him. Bitcoin was forged to avoid centralized third parties, such as banks and centralized exchanges, that require users to trust them with wealth and privacy. Peer-to-peer transfers based on cryptographic proof were supposed to replace the need for a middleman who demanded trust. They were designed to give financial power back to the individual.

The problem: there is a market demand to speculate, to trade in currencies, and to perform sophisticated financial transactions for which peer-to-peer (as it currently exists) can be ill-equipped. There is also a demand for convenience and access that does not require technical knowledge or effort. Centralized exchanges may be the polar opposite of what Satoshi envisioned, but centralized exchanges fill a niche, or else they would not be popular. They currently dominate much of the crypto world, with a majority of users entrusting exchanges with their wealth and privacy.

The niche of centralized exchanges comes from blending the functions of a stock market and a bank. A centralized exchange is a marketplace for trading or converting assets through a single location or service. In many ways, it is similar to the New York Stock Exchange. Currencies can be traded and shorted, for example; margin trading, stop loss, and lending are also available. Satoshi did not address the stock-market functions of crypto, which he probably did not foresee. In fairness, Satoshi explicitly referred to Bitcoin as a developing and evolving technology, which was in its infancy.

In other ways, centralized exchanges resemble banks. After purchasing crypto from an exchange, many customers choose to leave their coins in an account rather than transfer them to a private wallet on their own hard drive. The reasons vary: convenience, the comforting similarity to a bank, the ease of converting to fiat, quick trading, and discomfort with the technology required to set up a private wallet. Whatever the reason, centralized exchanges become trusted third parties that endanger the wealth and well-being of individuals. Consider one aspect of the problem. Private keys are the crypto. The coins have no physical presence, only algorithmic ones. When an exchange controls the keys, it owns the coins; the customer has nothing more than a promise of access to them upon demand.

Reality often breaks promises. Hackers use software vulnerabilities and human error to loot accounts that are advertised as secure. High volume causes downtime, during which traders lose opportunities and prices can plummet. Then, there are calculated denials of access. Outstanding orders may be canceled, especially if rates disadvantage the exchange; withdrawals and deposits can be halted without notice; exchanges vanish, along with accounts; owners commit fraud or steal from accounts. This returns people to the pre-Bitcoin days, in which trust and betrayal are defining factors of wealth management.

Recently, the risks associated with centralized exchanges have increased exponentially, and for one reason.

A Forbes article (Feb. 28, 2018) announced the inevitable.

“It’s finally happening: The much-ballyhooed turnover of documents in the battle between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Coinbase, a company which facilitates transactions of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, is moving ahead. Coinbase has announced that it has notified affected customers that it will comply with a court order regarding the release of specific data.”

2018 is the year in which tax agencies get serious about cryptocurrency profits and holdings. Governments around the world are watching as Coinbase turns in data on its customers, which will almost certainly lead to audits and high-profile prosecutions. Specifically, Coinbase is reporting all customers with transactions of $20,000 or more in a single year between 2013 and 2015. Taxpayer IDs, real names, dates of birth, street addresses, and all transaction records from whichever period is in question will be delivered. The wealth of data is available because Coinbase, like every other licensed centralized exchange, complies with Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering laws, which destroy financial privacy.

Beyond such requirements, Coinbase is extremely aggressive about gathering information and verifying identities. The exchange uses facial-recognition technology, for example, to compare a real-time face shot from a webcam or smart phone with whatever ID an applicant submits. Coinbase UK adds, “we may collect personal information disclosed by you on our message boards, chat features, blogs and our other services to which you are able to post information and materials.”

Expect such intrusion to become the norm for centralized exchanges that prize their licenses and relationships with government. Expect them to act as data-gathering arms of government. The danger is not only the freezing and confiscation of accounts, but also legal proceedings against and imprisonment of account holders. The IRS states that “anyone convicted of tax evasion is subject to a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000. Anyone convicted of filing a false return is subject to a prison term of up to three years and a fine of up to $250,000.”

Fortunately, the market demand for stock market and banking functions can be satisfied (or soon will be) without sacrificing the privacy and safety.

Decentralize for Privacy

A decentralized exchange is a marketplace that does not rely on third party services. Trades are peer-to-peer; they are direct transfers between people who use an automated process to facilitate the exchange. They are trustless. They are transparent, with software and transactions being open source. They are Satoshi. A decentralized exchange allows individuals to hold their own private keys, which makes it a less attractive target for hackers. It also requires a minimal amount of personal or financial data to establish an account and to conduct commerce. Often, only an email address is requested, and it can be one that is generated specifically to register, with no connection to a real identity, to a True Name.

Decentralized exchanges employ a wide variety of strategies to facilitate peer-to-peer transfers. Some create proxy tokens; others employ a multi-signature escrow. Peer-to-peer banking uses an auction-type dynamic to facilitate loans between members of a specific amount and at an agreed-upon rate. Smart contracts can assume the traditional functions of banks. Technology Review (Dec. 7, 2017) explained,

“Switching back and forth between fiat money and cryptocurrency will require a traditional point of exchange for the foreseeable future. But some technologists say an alternative model for trading cryptocurrencies that would give people more control over their wealth is possible. It’s meta: exchanges can be decentralized, they say, using a blockchain. The idea hinges specifically on so-called smart contracts, software code that can be stored in a blockchain and set up to programmatically govern transactions. Imagine, for example, you want to send your friend some cryptocurrency automatically at a specific date and time. You could use a smart contract to do that.”

The point here is not to advocate a particular decentralizing strategy. It is to offer a sense of the rich and evolving alternatives to centralized exchanges.

Many people will still choose a centralized exchange because the platforms are easy to access and use; they are sanctioned by government; and they offer familiar, advanced functions of a stock market. For those who prize privacy, however, this is a poor choice. An analogy illustrates the stark difference in how privacy fares under a decentralized and a centralized system.

The Cautionary Tale of Social Media

’Want To Freak Yourself Out?’ Here Is All The Personal Data That Facebook/Google Collect.” That was a headline in Zero Hedge on March 28, 2018. The types of data collected are too extensive to enumerate. An indication: Android cellphone users who downloaded specific Facebook apps have had data on their personal calls logged by Facebook, sometimes for years.

A relatively undiscussed cause of social media’s privacy hemorrhage, along with its abridgment of free speech, is the centralization of information and discussion that accompany corporate behemoths, like Facebook and Google. An intriguing article in The Federalist (March 28, 2018) asked, “Was Social Media A Mistake?” The author, Robert Tracinski, harkened back to the 2000s-the golden age of blogs, when everyone and their grandmothers expressed themselves through blogging.

Tracinski wrote, “It felt like liberation. The era of blogging offered the promise of a decentralized media. Anybody could publish and comment on the news and find an audience. …We were bypassing the old media gatekeepers. And we had control over it! We posted on our own sites. We had good discussions in our own comment fields, which we moderated.” It was a whirlwind of free speech, but it was also a bastion of privacy because individuals retained control.

Then social media arrived like a juggernaut, and the mom-and-pop blogs migrated their insights and information to Facebook, Google, Twitter and other trusted third parties. Like centralized exchanges, the social media giants were relatively easy to access and use; they offered sophisticated software and functions that individual bloggers lacked the technical knowledge or money to implement; social media also slid seamlessly onto cell phones via apps that seemed to open up the world.

Tracinski noted the result. “A few of the best and most interesting blogs became full-fledged online publications, but a lot of the small, quirky, one-person amateur bloggers moved onto social media. That turned out to be a big mistake, because the era of social media has recentralized the media. Instead of a million blogs—what Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame called an “Army of Davids” — we now have a social media economy mostly controlled by three big companies: Twitter, Facebook, and Google.”

Lately, the price tag of centralizing insights and information has become apparent. The left-leaning politics of social media meant they purged (suspended) or punished (throttled) the “wrong” views; this is akin to banks and other financial institutions refusing to deal with porn, pot, or gun industries due to political pressure from government. “The old media gatekeepers” were replaced by the equally intrusive Silicon Valley Puritans. Although both are preferable to direct government intervention, their quasi-monopolies are bolstered by tax privileges, by favorable regulation, and, sometimes, by direct tax funding. Individuals lost control. Perhaps it is more accurate to say they relinquished it.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with personal data. In return for offering convenience, all social media wanted was to know and to market every detail of customers’ lives. The role of centralization in this rape of privacy should not be ignored. It was key to the effectiveness. This is equally true of the centralization of financial data-only with an important difference. The destination of the financial information is a government file, especially a tax one. Social media cooperates with government, to be sure, but its ultimate purpose was and is making a profit.

Conclusion

Privacy is a front-line defense of individual freedom and well-being. Decentralization is the social condition under which privacy thrives. No one can or should tell individuals which strategy to use. But, if you value privacy and safety, decentralize.

[To be continued next week.]

Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters


Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.

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Opinion: Bitcoin’s Biggest Problem Isn’t Child Porn, It’s GDPR

This week, a barrage of articles came out proclaiming bitcoin’s demise. They had titles like “Bitcoin Could Become Illegal Almost Everywhere, After Shocking Discovery in The Blockchain“, “Bitcoin’s (BTC) Story May Have Come To An End” and even “Child Abuse Content on Bitcoin Blockchain: Can Node Operators Be Prosecuted?“. The basic premise of these articles is

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PBOC to Strengthen Cryptocurrency Regulations in 2018

PBOC to Strengthen Cryptocurrency Regulations in 2018

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC)’s Institute of International Finance has released a report identifying cryptocurrencies as a top priority for 2018. The document claims that widespread retail investment into cryptocurrencies has the potential to pose systemic risk to the Yuan, and also emphasizes the PBOC’s intention to expand its research and development into cryptocurrencies.

Also Read: FBI Warns of Crypto Scammers Posing as Exchange Support Staff 

Strengthening of Virtual Currency Regulations Top Chinese Monetary Policy for 2018

PBOC to Strengthen Cryptocurrency Regulations in 2018The report emphasizes the risks perceived to be associated with virtual currencies by the Chinese government – specifically the potential for price volatility to manifest systemic risk to the yuan in the event of widespread retail investment, the potential for criminal misuse, and the lack of a robust regulatory framework providing consumer protections to investors.

The document advocates the strengthening of China’s regulatory framework regarding cryptocurrencies, calling for the development of a comprehensive procedure for monitoring the circulation of virtual currencies. The report also supports propositions that the G20 should lead efforts to establish a global regulatory framework with regards to digital currencies, advocating information sharing and cooperation between international regulatory institutions regarding digital currencies.

The report asserts that the popularity of cryptocurrencies has grown rapidly – attributing their dramatic rise to global demand for bitcoin’s utility of providing greater efficiency and reduced costs in conducting transactions.

The report also emphasized the targeting of MLM and pyramid schemes using cryptocurrencies as a priority for Chinese regulators.

PBOC Convenes Monetary Policy Conference

PBOC to Strengthen Cryptocurrency Regulations in 2018The PBOC also recently published a document providing a synopsis of the topics discussed during the central bank’s recent telephone conference on national currency, gold, silver, and monetary policy.

The document emphasizes the PBOC’s desire to expand its efforts asserts in the “promot[ing] the R&D of the central bank’s digital currency” as a primary monetary policy for 2018, indicating that the development of a long-rumored Chinese national cryptocurrency is still a top priority for China’s central bank.

The PBOC also described “the rectification of various […] virtual currency” markets as a desired policy outcome, emphasizing the need for strengthened anti-money laundering processes.

Do you think that China will be able to effectively enforce its cryptocurrency ban? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Nigeria’s Central Bank Warns Against Cryptocurrency Investments, Again

Nigeria as a nation is popular for its peculiarity on how to interpret events, developments and innovations, especially when it has to do with technological disruptions. Often times, this popularity happens for the very wrong reasons, but in the long run, the dust usually settles and ideas take off with the correct solutions that they … Continued

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