Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: Report

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: Report

According to the head of Iran’s Blockchain Association, over 500 BTC belonging to Iranians were confiscated by the U.S. government last year, and the number is still rising. He explains that Iranians are unable to take action through proper channels from within their country due to Iran’s legal status of cryptocurrency.

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

Iranians’ 500 BTC Seized by US Government

Sepehr Mohammadi, the president of Iran’s Blockchain Association, told Ibena news outlet last week:

Last year, a remarkable volume of bitcoins which belonged to some Iranians were confiscated for unspecific reasons by the federal government of the United States, and the process of confiscation is still continuing.

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: ReportHe admitted that the exact number of confiscated BTC “is not clear, but it is expected to be over 500 bitcoins, worth approximately 25 billion tomans ($5.77 million)” at the time, the publication quoted him.

“Some people believe that this confiscation is because bitcoin owners were circumventing U.S. sanctions,” Mohammadi added.

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: ReportRecently, news.Bitcoin.com reported that the government of Iran is considering using cryptocurrencies to evade long-held U.S. economic sanctions. Mohammad Reza Pour-Ebrahimi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Economic Commission, said in an interview with Mizan news agency on July 15 that digital currencies are among the major mechanisms that Iran can use to the evade the sanctions. He noted that the Iranian parliament will soon discuss this issue.

Legal Challenge

Mohammadi further explained to Ibena the challenges Iranian citizens face to recover their cryptocurrencies:

The owners of confiscated bitcoins are unable to take legal action against the U.S. inside Iran as cryptocurrencies are banned in the country. The association is looking to take international legal action, but they have not yet found a legal expert in anti-money laundering law who will handle the case.

Over 500 BTC Belonging to Iranians Seized by US Government: Report
Central Bank of Iran.

In April, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) banned banks and financial institutions in the country from dealing with cryptocurrencies. The CBI claimed that “All cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals’ money.”

Nonetheless, Pour-Ebrahimi told Ibena in May that even though “few people in Iran are cryptocurrency users,” according to his data, “more than 2.5 billion dollars has been sent out of the country for buying digital currencies.”

What do you think of the US government seizing Iranians’ BTC? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Financial Tribune.


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Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in Cryptocurrency

Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in Cryptocurrency

Employees in Costa Rica can receive part of their salary in cryptocurrency and that wouldn’t be against the law. Certain provisions in the national legislation allow companies to pay their workers not only with fiat money but also with goods, and some legal experts believe cryptos can fit in this category. Besides, Costa Rican laws provide for the use of commonly accepted assets as means of payment.   

Also read: New BATM Supporting BTC, BCH Launches in Sofia

Cryptos in Costa Rica Can Be Goods, Assets, Quasi-Money

Workers in Costa Rica may soon start receiving a portion of their salary in cryptocurrency, local media reported. As far as Costa Rican law is concerned, there is no reason this cannot happen. The country’s legislation allows employers to partly remunerate their staff with goods that are not currency, as long as the legal minimum wage is paid in money. It also develops the concept of “quasi-money”, or any asset that can be used as a means of payment and has been widely accepted as such in the society.

Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in Cryptocurrency“This is a trend that could take hold in the country,” said Rolando Perlaza who is working at Nassar Abogados, a prominent law firm in Central America. “This type of payment would in no way replace traditional or liquid cash. It would rather become an incentive for the workers, who could decide if they accept these currencies as payment for their services,” the expert elaborated, quoted by the Costa Rican News. He also emphasized that in any case employees are protected by article 166 of the country’s Labor Code.

The publication notes that in October last year, the Central Bank of Costa Rica (CBCR) issued a directive which established that cryptocurrencies are outside the national banking system. The document also indicated that carrying out any type of commercial transactions with digital coins is a “limited option” in the country. Along with that, the central bank warned that those who use cryptocurrencies assume the associated financial risks.

Costa Rica’s Growing Crypto Sector

Costa Rican Workers Can Be Legally Paid in CryptocurrencyDespite CBCR’s assessment, the local crypto sector has been developing steadily in recent years with a growing number of merchants and other businesses, including many hotels and companies from the tourism industry, accepting cryptocurrencies as a legitimate payment method. Costa Rica, which has remained relatively open towards business ventures in the crypto space, has also seen a number of bitcoin ATMs popping up in the capital San Jose and elsewhere.

According to the report, the Latin American country also offers favorable conditions for crypto mining thanks to its renewable sources. “Our Costa Rica-based crypto mining facility utilizes renewable energy options such as solar and wind. We think renewable energy has to be an essential part of any crypto related project. This green approach is good both for us and for the planet and makes the new business opportunities even better,” said Daniel Yépez, a local crypto entrepreneur. “Cryptocurrencies are here to stay and we are embracing the changes,” added Yépez whose company, SH Mining Technologies, specializes in providing cloud mining services.

Can cryptocurrencies be used as legal means of payment under the current legislation in your country? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTC

UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTC

A UK police department has sold 295 BTC which they say were legally seized from a drug dealer. The court ordered him to forfeit his crypto stored in a hardware wallet. The police reportedly get to keep 18.8% of the sale proceeds.

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

British Police Seized BTC from Drug Dealer

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the principal public prosecuting agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales, unveiled this week the details of a case involving 295 BTC. The CPS wrote:

A drug dealer and money launderer who was using cryptocurrency to conceal his funds has had over £1.2 million [~US$1.6 million] worth of bitcoins seized, restrained and then converted into British pounds in the first case of its kind.

UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTC
Sergejs Teresko.

Sergejs Teresko, a 31-year-old Latvian, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and drug offenses in April last year. A “cannabis factory,” a number of fake identification cards, luxury goods such as jewelry and Rolex watches, gold bars, expensive cars and large sums of cash were found at his home in Surrey, a county in southeast England.

He pleaded guilty on October 6 “to one count of being knowingly concerned in the production of a controlled drug, one count of possessing criminal property, one count of possession of articles for use in frauds and six counts possession of an identity document with improper intention,” the CPS detailed.

Teresko “was later convicted of money laundering and drug offenses at Kingston Crown Court where he was sentenced to nine years, three months in prison,” the agency noted:

In total, Teresko was found to have made £2,058,613 [~$2,703,578] from his crimes with an available amount of £1,447,935 [~$1,901,574] to pay back. He was given three months to pay the order or would have to spend a further 10 years in prison.

Kingston Crown Court ruled on Thursday that Teresko must forfeit the £1,447,935 “of his ill-gotten gains, including bitcoin,” the Financial Times reported.

Keepkey Wallet Found

According to Surrey Live, a Keepkey hardware wallet was found at Teresko’s home. Surrey Police then secured a warrant to access the device. DI Rob Bryant of South East Regional Organised Crime Unit was quoted by the news outlet:

We didn’t think we were going to actually find anything in these wallets. We thought we would open them and there’d be nothing there.

The cops, however, found two wallets on the device. The first did not contain anything but the second had 295 BTC. When they found out the coins’ worth, “the colour started to drain from a number of faces,” the publication quoted Bryant saying.

The Independent elaborated:

Surrey Police has now become the first UK force to successfully seize bitcoin, convert it into sterling and be granted permission by a court to keep the cash for government and police coffers.

Police Can Keep 18.8%

Using “powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act,” Surrey Police seized Teresko’s coins, the CPS revealed.

UK Police Top up Budget With Proceeds From Sale of Seized BTCCiting BTC’s “extreme volatility and the risk of it being moved on or stolen,” the cops applied to the court to seize the coins and convert them into sterling, Surrey Live described. They convinced the judge that “bitcoin was a real thing that could be seized,” the news outlet wrote.

The CPS explained that it “applied to have the restrained bitcoins converted into pounds. The 295 bitcoins were then sold by Surrey Police through an approved bitcoin exchange.”

According to the Financial Times, the police “set up its own bitcoin wallet and then used an offshore exchange to transfer and convert” the seized BTC. The proceeds were then “transferred to a police bank account,” the publication added:

Surrey Police gets to keep 18.8 percent of the proceeds of Teresko’s crimes — about £273,000 — which the force can use to top up its operating budget.

What do you think of this case? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Surrey Police.


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Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto Use

Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto Use

India’s central bank told the country’s supreme court on Friday that “allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin would encourage illegal transactions.” Other crypto petitions being heard include one asking the government to “take emergency steps to restrain the sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies.”

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

RBI’s Argument

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, appeared before the supreme court Friday to defend its position regarding cryptocurrencies. RBI issued a circular on April 6 banning financial institutions under its control from providing services to crypto companies.

According to the Economic Times, the central bank told the court:

Allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies like bitcoins would encourage illegal transactions and it has already issued a circular prohibiting use of these virtual currencies.

Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto UseRBI explained that crypto is “a stateless digital currency” that operates independently of a central bank such as itself, thereby “rendering it immune from government interference,” the news outlet noted.

The Financial Express elaborated that the central bank believes “it is necessary to regulate the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to check illegal transactions which will impact the international flow of funds.” Senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for RBI, reiterated that the central bank has a particular stance and other departments may have other positions.

Petitions Being Heard

Petitions against the RBI crypto banking ban are not the only ones that the supreme court is hearing. The Economic Times described:

Some petitions challenged the use of virtual currencies and alleged that they posed grave dangers to the traditional economy and they also sought framing of guidelines to regulate them … They also sought a direction for the Centre to take emergency steps to restrain the sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies.

Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto UseThe Hindu pointed to one particular petition, filed by father and son Siddharth Dalmia and Vijay Pal Dalmia. “Mr. Dalmia, in his plea, has sought a direction to the Centre to take steps to restrain sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies like bitcoins, which were being traded openly for ‘illegal activities’ like funding terrorism and insurgency,” the publication wrote.

The supreme court already heard the duo’s initial petition in November last year and subsequently issued notices to various government departments including RBI. The central bank responded at the time that it had warned people against the usage and risks associated with crypto. However, the Dalmias were not happy with RBI’s reply and filed a new petition, pointing out the inadequate action by the central bank.

At the hearing on Friday, the supreme court gave the government until September 11 to respond to all petitions.

What do you think of RBI’s view and action? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and RBI.


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Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto Game

Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto Game

A growing number of big-name insurers are getting into the crypto space. They are exploring new product options in this area and meeting with cryptocurrency custodians and trading platforms about coverage. However, exclusions can add up fast for crypto businesses and premiums can be more than five times that of a normal business.

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

Large Insurers Getting into Crypto

While most big-name insurers are reluctant to provide coverage to crypto startups, some are slowly coming around and quietly entering the space. Two leading insurance brokers that help companies shop for crypto policies, Marsh & Mclennan and Aon, were quoted by Bloomberg on Thursday:

Business has been brisk this year.

Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto GameMarsh has formed a dedicated team to service blockchain startups while Aon says it has “seen some insurers tweak general company policies to include crypto-specific protections,” the publication detailed, adding that Aon also claims to have over 50 percent of the crypto insurance market.

According to the company’s website, “Aon has been working to understand these evolving technologies and actively collaborates with the insurance marketplace to develop innovative risk transfer solutions.” Its subsidiary, Aon Risk Solutions, has “developed a policy form to protect against the loss of cryptocurrency along with other initiatives designed to meet the emerging risks posed by cryptocurrencies and digital ledger technologies,” Business Insurance magazine described.

Big Opportunities

Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto GameEuropean insurer and asset manager, Allianz SE, has 88 million retail and corporate clients in more than 70 countries. The Munich-based company “began offering individual coverage for digital-coin theft in the past year,” the publication conveyed and quoted the company’s spokesman, Christian Weishuber, saying:

Insurance for cryptocurrency storage will be a big opportunity…Digital assets are becoming more relevant, important and prevalent on the real economy and we are exploring product and coverage options in this area.

American International Group (AIG) “has also been adding crypto coverage into standard policy forms” and has “met with cryptocurrency custodians and trading platforms about coverage,” the news outlet detailed and quoted a source familiar with the matter:

Over a dozen underwriters, including Chubb and XL, currently provide coverage to crypto-related businesses.

In February, Reuters reported that XL Catlin, Chubb, and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance firms started offering protection against crypto theft.

Costly Premiums

Big-Name Insurers Stepping Up Their Crypto GameCrypto companies are also increasingly seeking to obtain insurance coverage to help attract more clients. A London-based startup focused on crypto custody services, Trustology, is one of the businesses in talks to obtain coverage, according to Bloomberg. The company wants to insure its customer accounts for up to £85,000 (~US$111,630), which is the same standard as a U.K. bank account.

However, insurance premiums for crypto-related coverage are costly and policies can take months to get approved, the publication conveyed, adding that “exclusions can add up fast.” For example, while losses from an interruption of service may be covered, the theft of cryptocurrency that caused the interruption may not.

Citing that many startups cannot afford to pay the high premiums, the news outlet elaborated:

The premiums from insuring such risk can be substantial. By some accounts, underwriters can charge a crypto-related company upwards of five times or more than your average business for coverage against loss or theft.

Do you think soon all big-name insurers will soon get into crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Allianz, and Aon.


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Ukraine’s Financial Stability Council Supports Crypto Regulatory Concept

Ukraine’s Financial Stability Council Supports Crypto Regulatory Concept

Ukraine has taken a positive step towards legalizing cryptocurrencies. A new regulatory concept, one that recognizes coins and tokens as financial instruments, has won support from the members of the country’s Financial Stability Council. The body includes representatives of the National Bank, the Finance Ministry and other government agencies.

Also read: Minsk Mulls Rules for Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with Tokens

Ukraine Adopts Regulatory Concept for Cryptocurrencies

It’s been quite a while since Ukraine made any notable progress towards regulating its crypto sector. A new decision in Kiev, however, qualifies as an important development. The country’s Financial Stability Council has supported a concept to regulate crypto transactions. The body is composed of representatives from the National Bank of Ukraine, the Ministry of Finance, the Deposit Guarantee Fund, the National Securities and Stock Market Commission, and the National Financial Services Market Commission.

Ukraine’s Financial Stability Council Supports Crypto Regulatory ConceptThe news about the decision of the council was announced on social media by Timur Khromaev, head of the National Securities and Stock Market Commission (NSSMC). “This is an important first step in building a consensus among government agencies and financial regulators which confirms the readiness to work with the Verkhovna Rada and the crypto market on forming a legislative and a regulatory framework that will ensure transparency and quality of relations between investors and crypto market participants,” Khromaev said in a Facebook post.

The newly approved concept recognizes certain categories of cryptocurrencies and tokens as financial instruments. It also determines the roles and functions of government agencies, such as the National Bank, the Finance Ministry, the State Fiscal Service, the State Financial Monitoring Service, and the NSSMC, in regards to regulating the circulation of cryptos, licensing of participants in crypto transactions, and disclosure of information.

Cryptocurrencies Still Unregulated, Not Legal in Ukraine

The status of cryptocurrencies in Ukraine is still undetermined. Three bills designed to legalize and regulate them and the related economic activities have been filed in the Rada since October but no significant progress has been made towards their adoption. These are the laws “On the Circulation of Cryptocurrency in Ukraine”, “On Stimulating the Market of Cryptocurrencies and Their Derivatives”, and a supplementary draft addressing crypto taxation. The recently voted Currency Law did not mention cryptocurrencies at all.

Ukraine’s Financial Stability Council Supports Crypto Regulatory ConceptThe NSSMC, one of the regulators that would be responsible for overseeing the crypto industry, did not support the bills introduced in the Rada. At the time, the commission objected to the use of the term “cryptocurrency” in the legal texts, stating that it is a result of what it called “financial engineering” and not a currency. The National Bank, the National Securities and Stock Market Commission and the National Financial Services Market Commission did not recognize cryptocurrencies as legal means of payment or money surrogate.

Cryptocurrencies have been steadily gaining popularity in Ukraine, especially in the last couple of years. Local media claim that the country is among the top 10 by number of crypto users. According to some recent reports, the estimated daily crypto-hryvnia turnover on the three major Ukrainian exchanges reaches $1.9 – $2 million USD. The actual volume may be much higher, given the large number of small trading platforms and individuals offering exchange services.

Do you expect Ukraine to adopt comprehensive crypto regulations? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Timur Khromaev (Facebook).


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EOS Leads China’s Blockchain Rankings Once More

China ranks EOS number one

The third round of blockchain rankings has been released by the Chinese government. Yet again, China ranks EOS number one.

The rankings, released by the government-backed China Electronic Information Industry Development (CCID), evaluate the public blockchain networks with three different metrics. The metrics include technology, applicability, and innovation.

Previous Leaders

CCID released its first set of rankings back on May 16th, where Ethereum was ranked the world’s top blockchain network.

4/ Detailed scores of the first crypto ratings by CCID Research, China’s Ministry of Industry & Information Technology pic.twitter.com/7LiJIWokge

— ...

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Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today but RBI Ban Stays

Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today But RBI Ban Stays

India’s Supreme Court heard the petitions against the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today. After hearing some arguments from both sides, the court decided to set another hearing date, allowing some of the regulators involved to respond to the petitions.

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

Supreme Court Hearing on July 20

Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today But RBI Ban StaysThe long-awaited hearing at which the Supreme Court of India was scheduled to address all of the petitions against the crypto banking ban by the country’s central bank has finally taken place.

Today’s hearing follows the hearing on July 3 of the petition by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The court did not grant a stay against the ban at that time. Last week, the central bank responded to a representation by the association but did not change its stance on crypto.

The latest chapter of the courtroom saga did not see an overturn of the ban. The court also did not hear all arguments by both sides. Crypto Kanoon, a platform engaged in crypto regulatory analysis, legal awareness and news, detailed:

Limited arguments were advanced on behalf of IAMAI and RBI today.

Another Hearing Date Set

Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today But RBI Ban StaysThere are at least five writ petitions filed against the RBI ban. However, according to Crypto Kanoon, “SEBI [the Securities and Exchange Board of India] and few others have not filed their response to the petition seeking regulation…All (remaining) parties to file their reply within 4 weeks.”

Sohail Merchant, CEO of crypto exchange Pocketbits, commented on the outcome of today’s hearing:

Final hearing [is] slated for 11th of September. Now that is the Judgement Day.

According to lawyers familiar with the case, the central bank has been challenged on two grounds. They concern article 19(1) (g) and article 14 of the Indian constitution. The former “allows citizens to enjoy the right to carry on any occupation, trade, or business,” Quartz explained, adding that the latter “prohibits discrimination and mandates equal protection under the law for all.”

P2P Services Live

In response to the RBI banking ban, a number of crypto exchanges in the country have set up peer-to-peer (P2P) services.

Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today But RBI Ban StaysKoinex launched its P2P platform called Loop on July 17. “Loop is a peer-to-peer fiat to crypto trading platform where registered users can trade in cryptos with other registered users in INR,” the exchange described.

“To ensure user safety, a built-in escrow system is employed which releases the cryptocurrency only after the seller double confirms the exact payment of the trade.” According to its website, the service currently offers the buying and selling of BTC, ETH, and XRP without network or transaction fees.

Last week, Wazirx launched its P2P service, also without network or transaction fees. The exchange recently claimed to have 125,000 users on its main platform after operating for four months. Meanwhile, Coindelta is also preparing to launch a P2P service called Flux.

What do you think of the Supreme Court hearing today? Do you think RBI’s ban will eventually be lifted? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The Daily: Minsk Mulls Rules for Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with Tokens

The Daily: Minsk Mulls Rules for Crypto Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with Tokens

In today’s Bitcoin in Brief, Belarus, which legalized crypto activities this spring, is now turning its attention to adopting standards for companies operating crypto exchanges and issuing tokens. We’ve covered the decision of the Russian payment provider Qiwi to motivate its employees with tokens. The Daily also features crypto news from China and Canada.

Also read: Anti-Crypto Politician Backed by Payments Firm, Grayscale Raised $250m in H1

Belarus Working on Standards for Crypto Exchanges

The Daily: Minsk Mulls Rules for Crypto Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with Tokens
Belarus Hi-Tech Park

Having legalized crypto-related activities earlier this year, Belarus is now fine-tuning and expanding the regulatory framework. The Hi-Tech Park in Minsk (HTP) is currently developing standards for companies operating crypto exchanges and providers of services related to issuing and placement of tokens. According to media reports, state bodies and representatives of the legal and tech communities in the country are involved in the process.

The new set of rules and regulations is intended to supplement the basic framework outlined in the presidential decree “On the development of the digital economy”, which entered into force on March 28, Denis Aleinikov, senior partner at a Belarussian law firm, told Forklog. He shared details on the progress so far: “We’ve established that a token is not a security […]. Any organization is allowed to issue and sell tokens through residents of the High-Tech Park.”

The Daily: Minsk Mulls Rules for Crypto Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with Tokens

The legal expert added that entities in the field will be obliged to prove charter capital of at least $500,000. The standards will also regulate the activities of HTP residents and detail the requirements for those that want to issue and trade digital tokens. The Hi-Tech Park is actively participating in the process after it was granted right of legislative initiative with another presidential decree in June.

Payment Provider Qiwi to Award Employees with Tokens

The Daily: Minsk Mulls Rules for Crypto Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with TokensThe blockchain subsidiary of the Russian payment provider Qiwi plans to supplement the salaries of its employees with awards paid in tokens. The motivational program will be launched by Qiwi Blockchain Technologies in the second half of 2018 and will be based on the Russian Masterchain platform. Several dozens of employees will receive their awards in QBT tokens by the end of the year. The subsidiary plans to allocate up to 50 percent of its profit to the program.

The tokens will be divided into two categories. Part of them will come with voting rights, allowing their holders to participate in different company decisions. Employees won’t be able to exchange the tokens for fiat money but will have the opportunity to convert them to corporate bonuses. According to Konstantin Koltsov, Director for Corporate Affairs, the system will allow employees to be directly involved in the company’s development. Qiwi also plans to create a blockchain-based HR platform.

Companies with ‘Blockchain’ in The Name Surge in China

The Daily: Minsk Mulls Rules for Crypto Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with TokensIt’s no secret that adding “crypto” or “blockchain” to the name of a company comes with some image benefits. Since cryptocurrencies are not favored by authorities in Beijing, Chinese companies from the crypto sector have been left with only one choice. As a result, China has seen a sixfold increase in the number of new firms registered with “blockchain” in their names, The South China Morning Post reported.

According to an estimate based on government data gathered by Qixin.com, there are now more than 4,000 Chinese companies that identify with blockchain. Over 3,000 firms registered since January use the Chinese translation of the term describing the distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin – “qukualian”. In comparison, their number for the whole 2017 was only 555.

The analysis of the official data has produced another interesting finding – 16,600 companies that were established within the past 12 months had “blockchain” listed as part of their lines of business. SCMP comments that despite the reservations of the Beijing government on crypto exchanges, coin offerings and mining, the interest towards the technology in China remains strong.

Bitcoin Ownership and Awareness Increase in Canada

The Daily: Minsk Mulls Rules for Crypto Exchanges, Qiwi Awards Employees with TokensA survey conducted by the Bank of Canada has detected a twofold increase in the number of people owning bitcoin (BTC) over 12 months. About half of crypto owners said they regularly use bitcoin to buy goods and services or transfer money. The Bitcoin Omnibus Survey was carried out in December, when the prices of cryptocurrencies reached all-time highs, but the results were published recently.

According to another study, “Bitcoin Awareness and Usage in Canada: An Update”, the awareness of Canadians about bitcoin increased from 64 to 85 percent during the same period. The authors also found that the residents of the predominantly francophone province of Quebec were the most Bitcoin-aware citizens.

Meanwhile, the province’s state-owned power company Hydro-Québec has been allowed to charge crypto miners and blockchain promoters increased rates until regulations for the industry are introduced. Régie de l’énergie du Québec, the local energy sector regulator, has recently accepted most of the new Hydro-Québec’s demands. A rate of 15 cents (CAD) per kWh, double the tariff for residential clients, will be applied.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, HTP.


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TRON (TRX) Now Supported on Ledger Nano S

Ledger Nano S supports TRON

Ledger Nano S supports TRON: TRON (TRX), the world’s eleventh largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has just made the big announcement that it is now supported on the popular cold storage wallet the Ledger Nano S.

Thanks @LedgerHQ for supporting $TRX on your hardware wallet Ledger Nano S! pic.twitter.com/QoyDb9zbzF

— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) July 18, 2018

But things don’t appear to be all sunshine and rainbows just yet.

Connection Issues

One user reported an error when trying to connect to TRON on the Ledger Nano S.

anyone else ...

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EOS is Breaking Transaction Processing Speed Records

EOS transaction speed: Transaction time is important. It has been a point of concern for many on the Bitcoin network for one, where congestion on the network has created a problem and transaction processing currently takes an average of 8-9 minutes.

In fact, transactions on Bitcoins network have ranged anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes to even 7 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes at its peak in 2017.

But then there is EOS.

EOS Transaction Speed Breaks Record

EOS is blowing transaction times out the window with its near instant ...

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Fed Chair: Crypto Has No Intrinsic Value, Not a Store of Value, Great for Money Laundering

Fed Chair: Crypto Has No Intrinsic Value, Not a Store of Value, Great for Money Laundering

The Federal Reserve’s new chairman made his stance on cryptocurrency clear to the US House of Representatives on Wednesday. In his view, cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value, are not used often as a means of payment, are not a store of value, but are great for money laundering. He also dismisses the idea that cryptocurrencies could pose a significant risk to the country’s financial stability at their current size.

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

Powell’s Testimony

The chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve who took office in February, Jerome Powell, answered questions about cryptocurrencies in his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

Fed Chair: Crypto Has No Intrinsic Value, Not a Store of Value, Great for Money Laundering
Jerome Powell.

This committee has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to the U.S. economy, banking system, housing, insurance, securities, exchanges, monetary policy, international finance, international monetary organizations, and efforts to combat terrorist financing.

U.S. Representative and vice-chairman of the committee, Patrick T. Mchenry, asked Powell to outline his thinking on cryptocurrencies. The chairman replied that there are “significant” risks to “relatively unsophisticated investors” who “see the asset going up in price and they think this is great; I’ll buy this [but] in fact there is no promise behind that.” He elaborated:

Cryptocurrencies are great if you’re trying to hide money or if you’re trying to launder money…it doesn’t really have any intrinsic value so I think there’re investor or consumer protection issues as well.

Furthermore, regarding whether the Fed is considering issuing its own digital currency, the chairman clarified, “that’s not something we’re looking at,” reiterating, “we’re not looking at this at the Fed as something that we should be doing.”

As for whether cryptocurrency is a currency, Powell claims that “it’s not really a currency,” clarifying:

If you think about what currencies do, they’re supposed to be a means of payment and a store of value, basically. And cryptocurrencies…they’re not really used very much in payment. Typically people sell their cryptocurrencies and then pay in dollars. In terms of a store of value, you know, look at the volatility and…it’s just not there.

Regulatory Framework

Fed Chair: Crypto Has No Intrinsic Value, Not a Store of Value, Great for Money Laundering
Patrick T. Mchenry.

While questioning Powell, Mchenry outlined the current regulatory framework for cryptocurrency in the U.S. He detailed that each of the 50 states has its own requirements for crypto businesses operating locally such as obtaining a money service license.

There are also regulators such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that have some jurisdiction over cryptocurrency when it falls under their domain, he described, reiterating:

There’s some broad [regulatory] framework of it but not a concerted effort by the federal government to understand what’s happening in cryptocurrency.

No Serious Risk to Financial Stability

Fed Chair: Crypto Has No Intrinsic Value, Not a Store of Value, Great for Money LaunderingMchenry further asked Powell whether the Fed sees cryptocurrency impairing its ability “to act on monetary policy, given the current shape and scope of the size of the market.” The Fed chair replied, “not at all today.”

Powell additionally explained his previous statement regarding the impact of crypto on the country’s financial stability. He recalled being asked, “do cryptocurrencies currently present a serious financial stability threat?” He clarified:

They’re not big enough to do that yet. That’s really what I was saying, not that they’re not a longer-term thing.

Powell believes that the recent BIS report and others have adequately outlined risks associated with cryptocurrency “and called on the appropriate regulatory bodies to address them.” He emphasized, “we don’t have jurisdiction over cryptocurrency. We have jurisdiction over banks,” adding that those with jurisdiction such as the CFTC and the SEC can address the investor protection aspects of crypto.

This week, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) also said that “Crypto-assets do not pose a material risk to global financial stability at this time.”

What do you think of Powell’s view on cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the U.S. government.


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Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to Victims

Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to Victims

The alleged bitcoin Ponzi kingpin, Amit Bhardwaj, has reportedly offered to pay back the initial investments in Indian rupees to those who lost money through his scheme. However, victims want the current value of their cryptocurrencies, not the initial investments. Zebpay, one of India’s largest crypto exchanges, has also been called in to help with the investigation.

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

Bitcoin Ponzi Kingpin Offers to Compensate Victims

Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to VictimsAmit Bhardwaj, the founder of GBminers and Gainbitcoin, has offered “to pay back investors their initial investments in Indian rupees,” the Factor Daily reported Wednesday.

He has been accused of duping thousands of investors with promises of unrealistic returns on bitcoin investments. According to the news outlet, “dozens have filed police complaints in Pune, Mumbai, Nanded (Maharashtra), Kolkata, Delhi and others cities.” One of the victims was quoted as saying:

We want the returns in (today’s) cryptocurrency value and not the value of the cryptocurrency when we invested. Today, the bitcoin price is much higher than what it was when we invested. It is like Bhardwaj will keep the profits and just return the principal amount which is wrong.

Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to VictimsSince the middle of 2015, more than Rs 1,000 crore (~US$146 million) is estimated to have been invested in the Bhardwaj-led Gainbitcoin empire, the publication detailed.

Citing that Zebpay, one of India’s largest crypto exchanges, was called in to help with the investigation, Inspector Jayram Paygude of the Pune Cyber Crime Cell explained to the publication:

Zebpay is the platform through which investment and sale of bitcoins were done in this case, which is why they were called for an enquiry.

Challenge Recovering Crypto

Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to VictimsDuring an assembly session held last week, Nationalist Congress Party member Hemant Takle raised questions about the delay in recovering bitcoins “and the inability of the police to nab the remaining absconders in the case,” according to the news outlet. He also raised the question regarding the compensation that Bhardwaj’s victims will receive, pointing out the difference in the price of BTC now and at the time of their initial investments.

In response to Takle’s statement, Deepak Kesarkar, a member of the 13th Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, explained the difficulty in recovering some of the victims’ money which has been invested in bitcoin, stating:

Some of this amount is recovered by the police department through the e-wallets of these companies. The value of these digital currencies in the wallet will be recovered but it is difficult to recover the investment made in foreign companies.

Last week, the Indian state of Maharashtra announced that it is establishing a special unit to investigate all cases related to cryptocurrency, a move which follows the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India taking effect.

What do you think of Amit Bhardwaj offering to repay investors their initial investments? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Zebpay.


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Post-Flood Reflections Reveal Insights Into Lives of Sichuan Miners

Post-Flood Reflections Reveals Insights Into Live of Sichuan Miners

With Chinese media estimating that Sichuan’s mining sector comprises 70% of the computing power of both the bitcoin network and the total processing power situated within China’s borders, reflections following the devastating Sichuan floods’ have many insights into the realities of life of a crypto miner in Sichuan.

Also Read: Change.org Petition Attempts to Fight for Ross Ulbricht’s Freedom 

Floods Wreak Havoc in Sichuan

Post-Flood Reflections Reveals Insights Into Live of Sichuan MinersAccording to Chinese media outlet Jiemian, prior to the floods, roughly 5 million mining rigs owned by approximately 25,000 people were situated in Sichuan. The recent flooding in the province resulted in the streets being littered with broken mining rigs, as the entrepreneurs seeking to cash-in on the nascent next boom industry were forced into a state of survival.

Li Yang, a cryptocurrency miner based in Sichuan, discussed his firsthand account of the flood with Jieman, stating that unusually heavy rainfall began to besiege the province in June. Before long, the local hydropower station had cut the electricity provided to many miners – with Li Yang’s being among those to lose power.

At 10 am, on the 26th of June, Li Yang recounts that the water level quickly soared, resulting in the destruction of tens of thousands of mining rigs situated at low altitude – including those belonging to Li Yang. With each of Li Yang’s 2,000 mining rigs estimated to have cost 5,000 yuan each, the floods caused a total loss of 10 million yuan (approximately $1.5 million USD).

Li Yang also recounts that cloud mining companies flocked to Sichuan in the wake of the devastation, “offering 50 yuan a unit” to miners for scrap rigs.

Sichuan Attracts Li Yang

Li Yang is a former Apple employee who moved to Sichuan from Chengdu in 2017, quickly opening a cryptocurrency mine next to a hydropower station in Aba, Sichuan. Li Yang was attracted to the simplicity of the business model underpinning mining, stating “This business is very simple. Many people want to mine, but the cost of operation of a single mining pool is too high. Customers pay for the mining machine and then host it. We use the APP to check the status of the mining machine at any time.”

The entrepreneur had calculated that each small crypto mine hosting 1,000 rigs should be able to generate 1 million yuan (approximately $150,000) in profits each year after expenses. At present, Li Yang owns 5 mines.

Sichuan as Global Hydropower Capital

According to Jeimian, Sichuan is home to the most abundant hydropower worldwide, with “20 hydropower stations [located] in the Lancang River Basin. During the peak of the wet season, the media outlet estimates that “the cost of electricity in Sichuan can be as low as 0.08 yuan” – less than one-third of the price of thermal power in the region.

An anonymous mine operator from Chengdu attested that “Electricity is directly pulled from the hydropower station,” adding that “The hydropower station over there has too much electricity, and it can’t be used.”

Sichuan is estimated to be home to approximately 600 medium and large sized cryptocurrency mines hosting more than 2,000 machines each.

Do you think that the devastation caused by the recent Sichuan floods will lead to more miners spreading their operations across multiple locations? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock


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Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to Curriculum

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to Curriculum

CFA Institute, with over 150,000 members, is adding cryptocurrency topics to its curriculum for the first time. The course material will be released in August. A record 227,031 people in 91 countries and territories reportedly registered to take CFA exams this year.

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

Crypto Added to CFA Curriculum

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to CurriculumThe world’s largest association of investment professionals, CFA Institute, “is adding topics on cryptocurrencies and blockchain to its Level I and II curriculums for the first time next year,” Bloomberg reported.

A global, not-for-profit organization, CFA Institute offers a range of education and career resources including the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) designations. Its membership stood at 156,800 at the end of FY2017.

Citing that a majority of the candidates came from Asia, the news outlet elaborated:

A record 227,031 people in 91 countries and territories registered to take CFA exams in June…Material for the 2019 exams will be released in August, giving candidates their first opportunity to start logging a recommended 300 hours of study time.

Crypto – ‘Not a Passing Fad’

The CFA curriculum is organized into three levels. Level I tests “knowledge of the ethical and professional standards.” Level II tests how these standards are applied to situations analysts face. Level III tests how they are applied “in a portfolio management and compliance context.”

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to Curriculum

Each level currently consists of 10 topics such as quantitative methods, economics, corporate finance, equity management, fixed income, derivatives, and alternative investments.

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to CurriculumThe crypto addition is part of a new reading called Fintech in Investment Management, Bloomberg conveyed. The institute decided to include it “after industry participants showed surging interest in surveys and focus groups.”

Stephen Horan, the institute’s managing director for general education and curriculum in Charlottesville, Virginia, explained that “the CFA material on crypto and blockchain will appear alongside other fintech subjects including artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and automated trading.” Citing that “more crypto topics, such as the intersection of virtual currencies and economics, may eventually be added to the curriculum,” he asserted:

We saw the field advancing more quickly than other fields and we also saw it as more durable…This is not a passing fad.

A 27-year-old financial economics student at Columbia University who took the CFA Level I exam in June, Kayden Lee, was quoted by the news outlet saying that “it will be beneficial for us since there’s been a huge expansion and adoption of crypto in our investment universe.”

What do you think of CFA Institute adding crypto topics to its curriculum? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and CFA Institute.


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G20 Watchdog Unveils Framework to Monitor Crypto

G20 Watchdog Unveils Framework to Monitor Crypto

A framework has been developed for the G20 countries to “monitor the financial stability implications of crypto-assets markets.” The Financial Stability Board says cryptocurrencies “do not pose a material risk to global financial stability” but supports their “vigilant monitoring.”

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

G20’s Crypto Monitoring Framework

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) announced Monday that it “has developed a framework and identified metrics to monitor the financial stability implications of crypto-assets markets.” The framework was developed in collaboration with the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI).

G20 Watchdog Unveils Framework to Monitor CryptoThe board also published and submitted a report detailing its work on crypto-assets to the G20 as requested by finance ministers and central bankers at the G20 meeting on March 19 and 20 in Buenos Aires.

The FSB is an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system to G20, an international forum for governments and central bank governors. The CPMI supports financial stability by promoting the safety and efficiency of payment, clearing, settlement and related arrangements.

G20 Watchdog Unveils Framework to Monitor Crypto

“The objective of the framework is to identify any emerging financial stability concerns in a timely manner,” the report states, adding:

The framework discusses the primary risks within crypto-assets and potential transmission channels to financial stability risks. The framework identifies which metrics the FSB might usefully monitor in the short-to-medium term.

The report also notes that “in general, monitoring the size and rate of growth of crypto-asset markets is critical to understanding the potential size of wealth effects, should a decline in valuations occur.” Furthermore, “the use of crypto-assets for payment or settlement is another transmission channel to be monitored.”

FSB’s Proposed Metrics

Citing that the crypto market and its public data sources, which the proposed monitoring metrics are based on, are “rapidly evolving,” the FSB warned that “the quality of the underlying data can vary, and might not always be satisfactory.” The report explains:

Market-related figures, such as metrics on prices, trading volumes, and volatility may be manipulated by generally prohibited practices such as ‘wash trading,’ ‘spoofing,’ and ‘pump and dump,’ the existence of which cannot be ruled out at this stage.

G20 Watchdog Unveils Framework to Monitor CryptoThe FSB also pointed out that “the proposed metrics may not fit all types of crypto-assets equally.” Nonetheless, it believes that they “provide a useful picture of crypto-asset markets and the financial stability risks they may present.” Over time, the FSB and the CPMI will consider improvements to the metrics as well as add new ones at a later stage.

No Material Risk to Financial Stability

The FSB report refers to decentralized, unbacked cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets as “first generation private digital tokens,” which are dismissed as “unsafe money.” However, it notes that “safer central bank issued cash may be less convenient in an era of electronic payments.” The report continues:

Crypto-assets do not pose a material risk to global financial stability at this time…At present, like crypto-assets in general, crypto-asset platforms do not pose global financial stability risks. Nevertheless, they raise other significant concerns, including consumer and investor protection, market integrity and money laundering/terrorism financing, among others.

The FSB further revealed that the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is currently “conducting an initial stocktake on the materiality of banks’ direct and indirect exposures to crypto-assets.”

While the FSB does not believe crypto-assets pose a material risk to global financial stability, it supports “vigilant monitoring in light of the speed of developments and data gaps,” the report details.

What do you think of the FSB’s crypto monitoring framework? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, BIS, and FSB.


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Crypto Exchange Coinrail Reopens with Offers to Recover 11 Cryptocurrencies

Crypto Exchange Coinrail Reopens with Offers to Recover 11 Cryptocurrencies

South Korean exchange Coinrail has resumed service after it was hacked last month. The exchange has offered users some options to recover their cryptocurrencies. Eleven cryptos were stolen, some of which have been fully recovered and are now available for trading and withdrawals. However, some coins were not recovered.

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

Services Resumed

Coinrail reported that it was hacked on June 10 with an estimated damage of about 45 billion won (~US$40 million). The exchange suspended trading after the hack as it tried to recover lost coins. Coinrail resumed service on July 15, announcing:

We have completely revamped the existing security system that exposed the vulnerability, and have upgraded the overall security level.

Crypto Exchange Coinrail Reopens with Offers to Recover 11 Cryptocurrencies

The cause of the hack was not disclosed by the exchange when it resumed trading, Sedaily noted. “KISA [The Korea Internet & Security Agency] is in the process of finalizing the investigation, but it is still being analyzed, and details of the incident cannot be disclosed,” the news outlet quoted a KISA official saying. Coinrail claims that its new security system “complies with KISA security guidelines.”

11 Cryptocurrencies Affected

A total of eleven cryptocurrencies were stolen, Coinrail revealed. They are dent (DENT), tradove b2bcoin (BBC), ether (ETH), jibrel network (JNT), bitcoin (BTC), kyber network (KNC), storm (STORM), tron (TRX), pundi x (NPXS), aston (ATX), and nper (NPER).

Crypto Exchange Coinrail Reopens with Offers to Recover 11 Cryptocurrencies
The 7 partially unrecovered cryptocurrencies.

Funds in DENT, BBC, and ETH have been fully recovered; customers can start trading and withdrawing them. “Recovery [is] in progress” for JNT, the exchange detailed.

The remaining seven cryptocurrencies have not been fully recovered, including BTC.

Cryptocurrencies that are not stolen or in the recovery process “can be immediately withdrawn and traded,” the exchange clarified, adding:

The amount of cryptocurrencies that have not been recovered cannot be withdrawn or exchanged until the recovery is complete.

Recovery Options

Crypto Exchange Coinrail Reopens with Offers to Recover 11 CryptocurrenciesThe exchange has come up with two recovery plans for the coins that have not been recovered. However, these plans have been criticized as being inadequate.

The first plan is for the exchange to purchase cryptocurrencies directly to recover damages. Coinrail says it will “pay back the unrecovered cryptocurrencies by gradually purchasing the cryptocurrencies with the profit from the service operation.”

The second is for Coinrail to issue its own RAIL tokens to affected customers. “Unrecovered cryptocurrencies can be exchanged at a rate of ‘1 RAIL = 0.72 KRW,'” the exchange noted. However, the price of RAIL “fell about 72.2 percent in about half a day [to 0.2 KRW] after Coinrail officially resumed trading at 8 pm on the 15th,” Sedaily described.

What do you think of Coinrail’s plan to compensate customers? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Coinrail.


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Kodak-branded KashMiner Bitcoin mining rig for rent wasn’t — and won’t be

Write off another piece of crypto craziness: A Kodak-branded Bitcoin-mining rig that was on show at CES in January, where it generated much headshaking and skepticism that it could ever deliver the claimed returns, has evaporated into the ideas ether from whence it came.

The BBC reports that the plan to rent access to Kodak-branded KashMiner devices for the chance to earn Bitcoin returns has collapsed.

Spotlite USA, the company that had shown off the rig at CES, was also never officially licensed to use Kodak’s brand for the mining rig, according to the report (although the company does seemingly license Kodak’s brand for use on LED lighting products which nonetheless have nothing at all to do with Bitcoin mining so…).

Nor had it installed multiple KashMiner devices at Kodak’s offices, as it had claimed.

Speaking to the BBC, Spotlite CEO Halston Mikail said the US Securities and Exchange Commission prevented the scheme from going ahead.

Instead of renting Bitcoin mining capacity to consumers the company now plans to run a mining operation privately, with equipment installed in Iceland — apparently without pausing to examine the logic of joining the existing pool of professional Bitcoin miners all chasing diminishing returns.

Iceland has been a popular spot for setting up crypto mining ops for a while, owning to low average annual temperatures which help keep cooling costs down, plus the availability of (relatively) cheap electricity, including generated from clean geothermal energy, which can offset concerns about the environmental impact of crypto mining. Which is presumably why Spotlite has settled on Iceland for the next stage of its crypto adventure.

Meanwhile, Eastman Kodak, the 130-year-old camera company whose brand was not, as it turns out, licensed by Spotlite USA for Bitocin mining, did reveal a bona fide brand licensing plans to get involved with cryptocurrencies and blockchain (also) in January — announcing an imminent ICO for a photo-centric cryptocurrency (called KodakCoin), via a brand licensee (called Wenn Digital), with the mooted blockchain platform set to focus on image rights management.

So at least there’s a less than entirely tenuous connection in that crypto instance.

The ICO news instantly spiked Kodak’s stock price 44 per cent in January’s oh-so-bubbly crypto market. Albeit, weeks later the stock had deflated after delays to the ICO on account of regulatory uncertainty.

Months later Wenn Digital went on to launch a SAFT offering (aka Simple Agreements for Future Tokens), in May, which it’s still promoting on its KodakOne website — with the aim of raising $50M to build the touted image rights management blockchain platform.

It remains to be seen whether this officially Kodak-branded offering will be able to turn a crypto idea into a genuinely useful product either.