70+ Investigations: 40 Regulators Crack Down on Suspicious Crypto Schemes

70+ Investigations: 40 Regulators Crack Down on Suspicious Crypto Schemes

Forty regulators in the US and Canada are reportedly collaborating in the largest coordinated crackdown on cryptocurrency scams to date by state and provincial officials. The operation has triggered over 70 investigations so far, with 35 cases completed or pending.

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

Mass Crackdown

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) said Monday that US and Canadian securities regulators have launched nationwide investigations on suspicious cryptocurrency investment schemes, the Washington Post reported. This is “the largest coordinated crackdown to date by state and provincial officials on bitcoin scams,” the news outlet wrote. CNBC elaborated:

More than 40 state and provincial watchdogs are participating in ‘Operation Crypto-Sweep,’ which has triggered at least 70 investigations so far.

70+ Investigations: 40 Regulators Crack Down on Suspicious Crypto SchemesNASAA is a voluntary association whose members are securities administrators from states, provinces, and territories in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, and Mexico. According to its website, the association is the oldest international organization devoted to investor protection.

The association, which helps coordinate Operation Crypto-Sweep, confirmed that “as many as 70 investigations have been opened in the sweep, with more expected in the coming weeks.” Furthermore, the Washington Post detailed, “As many as 35 cases are pending or already completed, with some resulting in cease-and-desist letters warning the alleged schemes that their unregistered activity violates state securities law.”

The efforts focus on “unregistered securities offerings that promise lucrative returns without adequately informing investors of the risks” as well as initial coin offerings (ICOs), the regulators explained.

Fighting Fraud

By posing as members of the public, the NASAA task force found roughly 30,000 crypto-related domain name registrations, the news outlet described, adding that “Many of the alleged scams use fake addresses, slick marketing materials and promises of over 4 percent daily interest,” the news outlet described. “A few have even used unauthorized photos of high-profile individuals, such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to portray themselves as aboveboard.”

70+ Investigations: 40 Regulators Crack Down on Suspicious Crypto SchemesThe director of enforcement at the Texas State Securities Board, Joseph Rotunda, was quoted saying, “Although the international task force’s work is far from complete, my suspicions have already been confirmed: The market for cryptocurrency investments is saturated with fraud, and our work is only revealing the tip of the iceberg.”

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a study showing that out of 1,470 ICOs, 271 were found to contain “red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.” Investors have poured more than $1 billion into these 271 ICOs, the publication added. In addition, a Chinese government-backed industry organization also published its fake crypto analysis last week, claiming that its monitoring system has detected 421 fake cryptocurrencies.

Massachusetts’ Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Francis Galvin, emphasized on Monday:

Not every ICO or cryptocurrency-related investment is fraudulent, but we urge investors to approach any initial coin offering or cryptocurrency-related investment product with extreme caution.

NASAA president and the director of the Alabama Securities Commission, Joseph Borg, explained that “consumers face higher risks of being misled at a time when the intense demand for bitcoin has prompted many retail investors to take extreme steps to gain exposure to the currency, such as taking out a bigger mortgage.”

What do you think of Operation Crypto-Sweep? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Crypto Scams Comprise 0.6% of Fraud – Australian Consumer Watchdog

Crypto Scams Comprise 0.6% of Fraud - Australian Consumer Watchdog

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a report on trends within the scam economy during 2017. The report identifies cryptocurrency related fraud to comprise less than 1% of the scam activity recorded in Australia last year.

Also Read: Ross Ulbricht Continues to Fight for Freedom With Supreme Court Petition

Cryptocurrency Scams Responsible for 0.6% of Australian Losses to Fraud in 2017

Crypto Scams Comprise 0.6% of Fraud - Australian Consumer WatchdogThe ACCC has published its annual report on the Australian scam economy. The report provides insight into “emerging trends and techniques employed by scammers.”

During 2017, the ACCC, and other pertinent Australian government institutions received “over 200,000 scam reports” corresponding to “losses exceeding $340 million [AUD]” (approximately $258 million USD) – an increase of 13.3% compared with 2016’s total losses.

During 2017, the ACCC attributes $2.1 million AUD ($1.59 million USD approximately) in losses to cryptocurrency scams – a megre 0.617 percent of Australia’s combined losses to scams.

Cryptocurrency Scams Peak During December 2017

Crypto Scams Comprise 0.6% of Fraud - Australian Consumer WatchdogThe report states that the prevalence of reported cryptocurrency scams was closely correlated to the speculative frenzy surrounding virtual currencies last year.

The states that “In the fourth quarter of 2017, the value and popularity of cryptocurrencies increased worldwide [….] Between January and September 2017, about $100,000 was reported lost per month to scams which had a cryptocurrency angle. However, in the month of December 2017, reported losses to Scamwatch exceeded $700,000 and the average reported loss had jumped from $1885 in January to $13,205.”

The report also states that “With the increased popularity of cryptocurrency speculation in the last quarter of 2017, fake initial coin offerings and other cryptocurrency-related scams were reported […] to the ACCC.”

Many Victims Recommended Scams by Friends

Crypto Scams Comprise 0.6% of Fraud - Australian Consumer WatchdogThe ACCC describes a variety of different scams involving cryptocurrency that were reported during 2017. In addition to “fake initial coin offerings,” the report states that other scammers “capitalized on the general confusion about how cryptocurrency works and instead of people discovering how to directly buy cryptocurrencies, many found themselves caught up in what were essentially pyramid schemes.” The report adds that “A number of reports showed that victims entered into cryptocurrency-based scams through friends and family who convinced them they were onto a good thing, a classic element of pyramid schemes.”

The report also states that “Not all cryptocurrency-related scams involve victims attempting to invest in stocks or initial coin offerings. Many scammers also ask for payment through cryptocurrencies for a variety of scams because it is easier to remain anonymous while receiving payment. Ransomware scammers for example, commonly ask for payment through Bitcoin.”

Crypto Fraud Dwarfed by Losses Incurred by Other Scams

Crypto Scams Comprise 0.6% of Fraud - Australian Consumer WatchdogThe ACCC report states that losses to investment scams exceeded $64 million AUD (approximately $48.6 million USD) in 2017 – a 33% increase from 2016. The report also estimates that dating and romance scams accounted for over $42 million AUD (roughly $31.9 USD).

The ACCC also states that “Australian businesses were targeted by business email compromise scams” – resulting in over $22.1 million ($16.8 million USD approximately) being transferred to scammers.

Do you think that the mainstream narrative surrounding cryptocurrency and scams is balanced or embellished? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Johannesburg Gets a New Crypto ATM, Ban Threatened Harare May Lose One

Johannesburg Gets a New Crypto ATM, Ban Threatened Harare May Lose One

A new crypto teller machine is now operational in South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg. The ATM, which supports several digital coins, has been installed at a supermarket in the north-western part of the city’s metro area. It is the latest addition to a growing number of terminals offering automated crypto-fiat exchange services in the country and across the continent. Not all is rosy in the region, however. A crypto ban in neighboring Zimbabwe may deprive Harare of its bitcoin ATM. Nevertheless, crypto teller services are spreading in Africa.   

Also read: Coinsource Installs 20 Bitcoin ATM Machines Around Washington DC

Multicurrency ATM Installed in a South African Supermarket

Johannesburg Gets a New Crypto ATM, Ban Threatened Harare May Lose One
Johannesburg

The Republic of South Africa, the continent’s economic powerhouse, and neighboring Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s most troubled nations, have at least one thing in common – the growing interest in cryptocurrencies, although under different circumstances. In recent years, both countries have been experiencing their own versions of crypto development. The process has led to improved access to the crypto ecosphere but now their paths may diverge again.

A South African outlet reported this week that the nation has got its “first” cryptocurrency ATM in its largest city. The teller machine has been installed at a store in Northwold, part of one of the biggest retail chains in the country – Spar. The automated terminal is a multicurrency device, according to Business Insider South Africa. Customers can buy bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH) and litecoin (LTC) with fiat cash. Unfortunately, it supports one-way transactions, which means only purchases of cryptocurrency are available.

Of course, “the first” is almost always a doubtful label. Unsurprisingly, right after the report came out, the breaking news information was corrected by other media. “While this is undoubtedly a forward-looking move, it is most certainly not the first cryptocurrency ATM to go live in South Africa,” Mybroadband wrote in a piece putting forward another example. According to member of the local crypto sector, multiple cryptocurrency ATMs are operating in South Africa. Jacques Serfontein, CEO of mining hardware supplier Bitmart, said his company has installed one last year at its store in Nelspruit, east of Johannesburg. It supports multiple cryptocurrencies, as well, including bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, dash, and zcash. Serfontein added he knew of several other crypto ATMs in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Midrand.

The new Johannesburg’s ATM may not be the first in the country after all, nevertheless, it’s arguably the first one in Northwold. The good news is that the residents of another South African neighborhood will be able to buy digital cash with a simple QR scan and a fiat payment. The teller machine has been installed by the Spar store manager, George Neophytou, who is a crypto enthusiast and entrepreneur. “I asked permission to use this location because I work here. What better place to set it up, so that if a user required help, I’d be on-site to help,” Neophytou said. His initiative was supported by Vendibit, a company developing software and hardware blockchain solutions, and his partner, Daniel Cappiello, director of the Danish firm Copencoin.

Johannesburg Gets a New Crypto ATM, Ban Threatened Harare May Lose One

The future of cryptocurrencies in South Africa is still unclear. A “self-regulatory approach” has been mentioned as part of the solution for the country’s crypto sector, while the central bank is expected to formulate a comprehensive regulatory framework. In April, the South African Revenue Service announced it expected residents to declare crypto gains on their tax returns, although cryptocurrencies are not regarded as currencies for income tax purposes. Despite the uncertainty, cryptos have been gaining popularity both as investments and as means of payment. Last year, the country’s second largest supermarket chain, Pick n Pay, started testing bitcoin payments. It has been reported that drivers can pay tickets with cryptocurrency.

South Africa – Not the First and Only in Africa

The teller machine in Johannesburg is definitely not the first to offer automated crypto teller services on the continent, as well. Bitcoin has been gaining ground in SA’s neighbor Zimbabwe, where cryptocurrency exchange Golix has recently installed a BATM in its Harare office, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. Another local trading platform, Styx24, has announced plans to introduce a second machine in Gweru. Neither of the two companies, however, are licensed to provide these services. Besides, Zimbabwe’s central bank issued this month a circular effectively banning all crypto-related activities.

According to recent reports by local media, some of Golix’s bank accounts have been closed already and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has ordered the company to cease all crypto-exchange operations. If the trading platform shuts down, residents of Harare will probably lose the only bitcoin ATM in their city, which Golix has installed in its office.

Johannesburg Gets a New Crypto ATM, Ban Threatened Harare May Lose One

Further north, an ATM in the Kenyan capital Nairobi supports four cryptocurrencies – bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), and dogecoin (DOGE), according to data provided by Coinatmradar. Again, only crypto purchases are available. To the east, the tiny nation of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa offers a crypto teller machine operating 24/7. Customers can both buy and sell bitcoin (BTC) through the ATM located at the Appart Hotel Moulk in the capital city.

The Spanish Canary Islands, situated off the west coast of Africa, have at least three crypto teller machines. The one in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, capital of the largest island, offers support for two cryptocurrencies – BTC and LTC, but it’s a “buy only” terminal. The other two BATMs, in Costa de Adeje and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, can be used for both purchases and sales.

Undoubtedly, many more cryptocurrency ATMs operate in Africa and its neighboring regions. Naturally, it’s up to local crypto communities and crypto media to spread the news about them.

Do you think ATMs increase the availability and popularity of cryptocurrencies? Tells us in the comments section below.


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Spanish Regulator Open to Approving Funds Investing Directly in Cryptocurrencies

Spanish Regulator Open to Approving Funds Investing Directly in Cryptocurrencies

Spain’s financial regulator has clarified its position on regulated investment funds investing directly in cryptocurrencies. These type of funds are legal under Law 22/2014, and investments can be made through three types of legal entities.

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

Funds Directly Investing in Cryptocurrencies

Spanish Regulator Open to Approving Funds Investing Directly in CryptocurrenciesSpain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV – Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores) recently clarified its position on registered funds investing in cryptocurrencies directly. The CNMV is the Spanish government agency responsible for regulating the securities markets.

In a Questions and Answers document addressed to fintech companies on activities and services that can have a relationship with the Commission, one of the questions was “Can a fund registered by the CNMV directly invest in cryptocurrencies?” The Commission replied:

This type of funds would have a legal place in Law 22/2014, which regulates, in addition to venture capital entities, other collective investment entities of closed type and their management entities.

Law 22/2014 establishes, among others, closed-end collective investment entities (EICC), closed-end investment funds (FICC), and closed-end investment companies (SICC), Iclg describes.

EICC, FICC, or SICC

The CNMV explained that the investments could be made through EICC, FICC, or SICC.

Spanish Regulator Open to Approving Funds Investing Directly in Cryptocurrencies
CNMV building.

For EICC, Article 2.1 of the above law mandates that “the divestment policy of its participants or partners” must meet two requirements. Firstly, the fund’s “disinvestments [must] occur simultaneously for all investors or participants,” the Commission detailed. Secondly, “what is received by each investor or participant is based on the rights that correspond to each one of them, according to the established terms in its bylaws or regulations for each class of shares or participations.”

Both FICC and SICC have their own “numerous requirements and conditions,” the CNMV noted. For example, an FICC registered with the Commission must be “managed by a management company of closed-end type collective investment entities (SGEIC) or by a collective investment institution management company (SGIIC) that is authorized to manage this type of funds.” The Commission also noted that “the FICC and the SICC are not subject to the supervision of the CNMV (except [for] self-managed SICC)” based on the provisions of article 85 of Law 22/2014.

While registered funds can theoretically invest in cryptocurrencies directly, the Commission emphasized that there are many factors to consider, reiterating:

The investment of FICC and SICC in cryptocurrencies raises a series of practical problems on how to comply with the regulations regarding the valuation of assets, the management of liquidity and the custody guarantee.

European Regulation

Europa Press reported earlier this month that the CNMV “will apply [its] securities regulations to cryptocurrencies until there is European regulation.” The news outlet quoted CNMV’s general director of Strategic Policy and International Affairs, Víctor Rodríguez, saying:

The approach adopted by the CNMV is to try to apply the existing securities regulations as long as we do not have an international or European reference standard.

What do you think of the CNMV’s approach to cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Canadian Regulator Warns Investors of Five Cryptocurrency Firms

Canadian Regulator Warns Investors of Five Cryptocurrency Firms

The Ontario Securities Commission has issued a warning against five unlicensed crypto companies involved in schemes to encourage investors to trade or invest in cryptocurrencies. The regulator started gathering information about these platforms after receiving complaints about them.

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

Warning to Investors

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) published an Investor Alert on Friday, warning the public of five firms that “appear to be involved in schemes that target Ontario investors and encourage them to trade or invest in cryptocurrencies,” stating:

Btcreal, Bitserial, Hypercube Ventures LP, Cabincoin OÜ, and Baappay Inc. are not registered in Ontario to solicit investments or provide advice on investing in, buying or selling securities.

Canadian Regulator Warns Investors of Five Cryptocurrency FirmsThe Commission started gathering information on several crypto trading platforms last month after it received a number of complaints about them, CBC reported, adding that to date no platform has been recognized by the OSC as an exchange or exempted from recognition. Any platform that offers cryptocurrencies that fit the definition of securities “must determine whether it is a marketplace. Marketplaces are required to comply with the rules governing exchanges or alternative trading systems,” the news outlet elaborated.

Last month, the OSC issued an Investor Alert on Bitconnect, Bitconnect Coin and the BCC Exchange. “Bitconnect, the BCC Exchange and representatives of Bitconnect are not registered in Ontario to solicit investments or provide advice on investing in, buying or selling securities,” the regulator wrote.

The Five Unregistered Firms

Canadian Regulator Warns Investors of Five Cryptocurrency FirmsThe first firm mentioned in Friday’s warning is Btcreal. This company “claims to provide full investment services for cryptocurrency-related investments and forex,” promising investors “high returns in short periods of time,” the OSC described. The company’s website advertises “6 high ROI [Return On Investment] plans.”

Canadian Regulator Warns Investors of Five Cryptocurrency FirmsThe next company is Bitserial which “claims to offer opportunities to invest in BTE Tokens.” The firm also “encourages investors to participate in a lending program where they can exchange bitcoin, litecoin, or ethereum for BTE Tokens that are ‘lent out’ for high returns,” the Commission detailed.

The third company is Hypercube Ventures LP which manages multiple websites to encourage investors to buy “emission pools” in order to generate “VNN cryptocurrency,” according to the Commission.

Canadian Regulator Warns Investors of Five Cryptocurrency FirmsThe fourth is Cabincoin OÜ which “is currently advertising an unregistered token sale for Cabincoin Tokens,” claiming that “the future value of these tokens will far exceed their initial price,” the OSC wrote.

The last on the list is Baappay Inc. which “is a multi-layered platform that integrates both fiat and cryptocurrency payment services for merchants, that will confirm and guarantee all payments in seconds,” its website describes. The OSC says this company “is also currently advertising an unregistered token sale.”

What do you think of the OSC’s warning? Let us know in the comments section below.


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More Whales, Bans, and an Optimistic Cookie Monster: This Week in Crypto

Let’s go over what happened in crypto last week.  Price Watch: Bitcoin Price is down 1% this week after dropping around $1,000 last week. The drop comes in stark contrast to what some high-profile analysts had predicted. Investors have been waiting patiently to regain the all-important $10,000 support level. Ethereum is up 5% this week after being down … Continued

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Cryptocurrency is Property in Russia, Justice Minister Confirms

Cryptocurrency is Property in Russia, Justice Minister Confirms

The Russian Ministry of Justice has taken side in what looks like a lively debate about the status of cryptocurrencies that are still unregulated in the country. A bankruptcy case involving a modest amount of bitcoin has sparked discussions in Russian legal circles. Some say a crypto is nothing more than “a set of characters.” Others, including the justice minister, are categorical – cryptocurrency can’t be anything else but property.   

Also read: Cryptocurrencies to be Called “Digital Money” in Russia, Tokens – “Digital Rights”

Russian Justice Ministry Takes Side in a Legal Argument

Cryptocurrency falls under the legal category of “other property,” Russia’s Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov told reporters this week. With two draft laws on the matter still pending in the State Duma, he also noted that digital coins should not be considered electronic money, at least on this stage.

A bankruptcy case involving some bitcoin holdings has recently stirred the Russian legal community, which was challenged to provide a provisional answer to the question about the status of cryptocurrencies. In the absence of firm definitions in the current legislation, this question split Russian legal experts in two camps. On one side are those who think that cryptocurrencies have real value, on the other – their colleagues who believe they don’t, if the law doesn’t explicitly say so.

Cryptocurrency is Property in Russia, Justice Minister ConfirmsAccording to Konovalov, his department has adopted a “consolidated opinion” on the legal nature of cryptocurrencies and it supports the view that they should be defined as property. “If digital money is not property, its theft would not be considered criminal offense because there would be no object of the crime,” he warned.

“If cryptocurrencies are to develop, additional regulation will be necessary. The main point is to ensure that all this does not grow into financial pyramids,” Konovalov added, quoted by Prime. He is convinced that Russia should introduce rigid crypto regulations but also recognizes that the phenomenon is itself a “manifestation of the people’s desire to escape from total dependence.”

The Question Will Be Answered by the Duma Soon

Minister Konovalov’s comments added to the ongoing debate among experts and officials in Moscow on whether cryptocurrency can be considered a property in accordance with the current Russian legislation. The discussions were prompted by a bankruptcy filing from October last year. During the arbitrage proceedings, the debtor protested the trustee’s request to include his crypto funds, less than 0.2 bitcoin (BTC), in his bankruptcy estate.

According to his legal representative, such move is impossible as the term “cryptocurrency” is not mentioned in Russia’s Civil Code at all. The Moscow Arbitration Court accepted this position. “A conclusion can be drawn that cryptocurrency is a certain set of symbols/characters contained in an information system. It cannot be an object of the civil rights,” it said.

Cryptocurrency is Property in Russia, Justice Minister Confirms

But then, earlier in May, an arbitration court of appeals overturned this ruling recognizing cryptocurrency as a valuable property, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. On Thursday, the Ninth Arbitration Court of Appeals published its decision on the case. According to the document quoted by Interfax, cryptocurrency cannot be regarded as anything else but property. And, since the current civil law does not contain the notion “other property”, the widest possible interpretation of property is permissible, the court explained.

The question about the status of cryptocurrencies in the Russian Federation will be answered very soon. Two drafts have been filed in the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, and the one that focuses on legalizing initial coin offerings will have its first reading on Tuesday, May 22. The second bill is expected to amend the country’s Civil Code in order to regulate crypto payments. According to comments made by the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev this week, the new legislation will refer to cryptos and tokens as “digital money” and “digital rights”, respectively. Whether this means that bitcoin will be accepted both as currency and property remains to be seen.

Do you expect Russia to eventually accept and legalize decentralized cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.    


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Japanese Crypto Exchange Continues Global Expansion – Now in Five Countries

Japanese Crypto Exchange Continues Global Expansion - Now in 5 Countries

A Japanese government-approved cryptocurrency exchange has resumed expanding overseas. Already operating in five countries with a plan to launch in more in the near future, the exchange aims to construct a global network of crypto transactions.

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

Building Global Network

Japanese Crypto Exchange Continues Global Expansion - Now in 5 CountriesBitpoint Japan was among the first crypto exchanges to be fully licensed by the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA). It is a subsidiary of Remixpoint (3825.T), a listed company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Bitpoint has started a new round of expansion overseas, after entering a few countries last year. The company announced on Thursday that its Malaysian exchange has begun operations.

The Kuala Lumpur-based Bitpoint Malaysia opened its doors on May 17, offering spot trading and leverage trading. The fee for spot trading is 0.5% while leverage trading carries no fee. Deposits and withdrawals in Malaysian Ringgit are free during the grand opening. The exchange wrote:

We offer leverage of 2, 5, 10 and 25 times.

Five cryptocurrencies are supported: BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, and XRP. Bitpoint Japan says it “will support Bitpoint Malaysia as a system and liquidity provider.”

Global Operations

Japanese Crypto Exchange Continues Global Expansion - Now in 5 CountriesIn addition to Malaysia and Japan, Bitpoint is also operating in South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The exchange also opened an office in China in July last year before the Chinese government shut down all crypto exchanges in the country.

In addition, the exchange is reportedly preparing to enter Singapore, Thailand, and other Asian markets in the near future. Bitpoint detailed:

By continuing to provide overseas exchanges using the Bitpoint system in the future, we will continue to realize the construction of a global network of virtual currency transactions.

Tougher Rules and Competition in Japan

Since the hack of Coincheck, one of the most popular crypto exchanges in Japan, the FSA has tightened its cryptocurrency oversight. The country still has 16 fully-licensed crypto exchanges, which have recently formed an association to focus on self-regulation in an effort to rebuild public trust in the crypto industry.

However, out of the 16 “deemed dealers,” which are those allowed to operate while their applications are being reviewed by the FSA, only 8 remain. The agency recently revealed that the other 8 have indicated that they are withdrawing their applications.

Meanwhile, the agency confirmed that over 100 companies are seeking to enter the space, including Yahoo! Japan and Line Corp, which operates the popular chat app Line.

What do you think of Bitpoint’s global expansion plans? Let us know in the comments section below.


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China Has Found 421 Fake Cryptocurrencies

China Has Found 421 Fake Cryptocurrencies

A Chinese government-backed industry organization has published a report on fake cryptocurrencies. As of April, its monitoring platform has found 421 fake cryptocurrencies, 60% of which are deployed overseas. The Committee has also outlined major red flags of these cryptocurrencies.

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

421 Fake Cryptocurrencies

China Has Found 421 Fake CryptocurrenciesThe National Committee of Experts on the Internet Financial Security Technology (IFCERT), a Chinese government-backed industry organization, published the results of its analysis on fake cryptocurrencies on Friday.

China Has Found 421 Fake CryptocurrenciesCiting that “In recent years, virtual currencies represented by bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum, etc. have received continuous attention,” IFCERT pointed out that “some criminals are engaged in financial fraud or pyramid schemes under the cover of virtual currency.” The Committee added that fake cryptocurrencies frequently appear, “causing investors to suffer major losses.”

IFCERT’s National Internet Financial Risk Analysis Technology Platform continuously monitors fake cryptos, the Committee detailed, elaborating:

As of April 2018, the technology platform has found 421 fake virtual currencies, of which more than 60% of fake virtual currency website servers are deployed overseas. Such platforms are difficult to find and difficult to track.

The Red Flags

China Has Found 421 Fake CryptocurrenciesThe Committee outlined some major red flags of these fake cryptocurrencies. Firstly, they adopt “pyramid-based” business models, claiming that their cryptocurrencies will generate high returns.

Secondly, they have no real code, IFCERT described, noting that they either do not have a blockchain or cannot generate blocks for one.

Thirdly, they will not be traded on legitimate cryptocurrency exchanges, “so they often trade on over-the-counter or proprietary exchanges,” the report detailed, adding that:

There is a phenomenon that prices [on these platforms] are highly controlled by institutions or individuals, which tends to cause the illusion of rapid price increase. However, users often cannot conduct transactions or withdraw cash.

IFCERT emphasized that fake cryptocurrencies have no value and are illegal, asserting that “Many of these platforms do not have business premises and business information, and servers are often deployed overseas,” so it will be difficult to recoup any losses for victims.

271 Fake ICOs

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal independently published its finding after a review of documents produced for 1,450 initial coin offerings (ICOs). The publication “has found 271 with red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.”

Investors have poured more than $1 billion into these 271 ICOs, the publication detailed, adding that “some of the firms are still raising funds, while others have shut down. Investors have so far claimed losses of up to $273 million in these projects, according to lawsuits and regulatory actions.”

Do you think there are many more fake cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Coincheck Delists XMR, DASH, ZEC, REP – Prompted by Japanese Regulator

Coincheck Delists XMR, DASH, ZEC, REP - Prompted by Japanese Regulator

Japanese exchange Coincheck has confirmed that it is delisting three privacy coins: monero, dash, and zcash. Augur’s reputation token will also be delisted next month. The exchange made this decision after receiving a business improvement order from the country’s financial regulator following the NEM hack.

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

Coincheck Delisting 4 Cryptocurrencies

Coincheck Delists XMR, DASH, ZEC, REP - Prompted by Japanese RegulatorFollowing reports that Coincheck was going to delist monero (XMR), zcash (ZEC), and dash (DASH), the exchange has now confirmed that those cryptocurrencies will be delisted along with Augur’s reputation token (REP).

The four cryptocurrencies will be delisted on June 18, Coincheck emphasized, adding:

The target currencies [XMR, ZEC, DASH, and REP] held on the discontinued date will be sold at the market price and converted into Japanese yen.

The sales’ proceeds will then be credited to the customers’ accounts. Before that date, customers can sell or transfer these cryptocurrencies. The exchange says it has received many transfer requests, warning that it may be several days to complete the transfers.

Business Improvement Order

Coincheck Delists XMR, DASH, ZEC, REP - Prompted by Japanese RegulatorFollowing the NEM hack in January, Coincheck received a business improvement order from the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) on March 8. The exchange is a “deemed dealer,” meaning it has been allowed to operate while its application is being reviewed by the agency. The exchange has now been acquired by Monex Group. After delisting the above cryptocurrencies, Coincheck will continue to support BTC, ETH, ETC, LSK, FCT, BCH, XRP, XEM, and LTC.

In complying with the FSA order, the exchange says it is “drastically reviewing” its internal control and management control systems, as well as rethinking its “management strategy that thoroughly protects customers,” the announcement reads, adding that:

It is necessary [for us] to further develop and strengthen the management system of AML / CFT [Anti-Money Laundering/ Counter-Terrorist Financing] in the future.

Monex CEO Oki Matsumoto “expects the exchange to secure an official license in Japan next month,” Fortune reported on Friday.

FSA Cracks Down on Privacy Coin Listings

Nikkei reported earlier this month that the FSA has set new criteria for crypto exchanges. One of them concerns the types of cryptocurrencies listed on exchanges. “Those granting a high level of anonymity and easily used for money laundering will as a general rule be banned,” the news outlet described.

The FSA “strongly requests money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures not only for Coincheck but also for other virtual currency exchange operators,” News24 wrote.

Out of the 16 licensed crypto exchanges in Japan, none have listed XMR, ZEC, DASH, or REP on their applications with the FSA.

What do you think of Coincheck delisting the four cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Warren Warned By Billboards, Coinbase Tempted by Banking

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Warren Warned By Billboards, Coinbase Tempted by Banking

In Bitcoin in Brief today, billionaire Warren Buffett has been reminded that he was wrong about Google and Amazon, and told he might be wrong about bitcoin, too. Billboards have appeared outside his office to convey the message of the crypto community. Also, a report suggests that the US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase may apply for a banking license. Some conflicting views on the future of the Internet and its money complete Saturday’s roundup.  

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Friday: UN Backs Crypto-Solar Project in Moldova, Malta Uses Blockchain in Public Transportation

“Warren: Maybe You’re Wrong About Bitcoin?”

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Warren Warned By Billboards, Coinbase Tempted by BankingBillionaire investor Warren Buffett, known for his negative attitude towards cryptocurrencies, has been targeted in a bitcoin advocacy campaign lead by one of the largest cloud mining companies. Genesis Mining has recently posted billboards in front of Buffett’s office reminding him that he was wrong about Google and Amazon, and telling him that he may very well be wrong about bitcoin, as well.

The initiative has received a lot of support from the crypto community on social media. Genesis co-founder Marco Krohn posted on Twitter photos of the message to the investment guru with a short note saying: “Some new billboards outside of Warren Buffetts office! :)”

Earlier this month, the American business magnate issued another warning in regards to bitcoin and the like. “Cryptocurrencies will come to a bad ending,” he said during the annual Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meeting, but he didn’t stop there. “If I could buy a five-year put on every one of the cryptocurrencies, I’d be glad to do it but I would never short a dime’s worth,” he said, concluding that bitcoin is “probably rat poison squared.” Needless to say, Buffett’s comments provoked reactions and even inspired new business ideas. A tokenized marketplace called Ecoinmerce has announced the “Rat Poison Squared clothing line.” Т-shirts and hats are already offered online, but one can also order a mug with the winged phrase.

The Money of the Internet and the Internet of Money

Square CEO Jack Dorsey has recently reiterated his views about bitcoin. “The internet is going to have a native currency, so let’s not wait for it to happen, let’s help it happen,” he said during a blockchain conference, adding: “I don’t know if it will be bitcoin but I hope it will be.” Dorsey, who is also the chief executive of Twitter, wants his payment processing company to be at the forefront of the efforts to achieve adoption of cryptocurrencies as global means of payment. In an interview in March, he predicted that there will be a single world currency in the next ten years. The billionaire believes that will be bitcoin, although he admits the cryptocurrency is still slow and costly.

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Warren Warned By Billboards, Coinbase Tempted by Banking

Circle co-founder and President Sean Neville, however, has a different vision of what’s to come for the digital space and the digital currencies. “Very excited about the idea of reimagining what global finance can be,” he says that a dollar token is the future of the Internet of money. “One of the things that’s interesting for us is how we take fiat money and put in on blockchains, how do we get the benefits of a public blockchain infrastructure, which might underpin something like HTTPS of money,” he told Bloomberg.

Neville thinks there is a problem with using existing crypto assets for payments and settlements – they are very volatile. “So, it makes sense to have something like the US dollar represented as a token that can transfer anywhere in the world, to any digital wallet and any exchange that can support it,” he explained. Sean Neville, whose company raised $110Mn USD in a fundraising round led by Chinese giant Bitmain, believes that “we need a replacement for SWIFT.” He also predicted that eventually everything of value will be tokenized in a “hybrid world” of centralized and decentralized services. Boston based Circle has announced plans to issue a dollar-backed cryptocurrency called USD-C.

Coinbase May Apply for a Banking License

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Warren Warned By Billboards, Coinbase Tempted by BankingBy attracting some serious investments, Circle has actually joined the club of the most well-funded cryptocurrency companies. Another of its members, Coinbase, seems tempted to expand its financial business to include banking services. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, representatives of the crypto brokerage have met with US regulators to talk about the possibility to apply for a banking license.

A source quoted by the WSJ has revealed, that the company, which operates the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States, has contacted officials from the US Office of the Comptroller of Currency earlier this year to discuss the matter. Beside the opportunity to broaden the types of products it offers, a banking license would allow Coinbase to operate without the need to partner with banks.

What are your thoughts on today’s Bitcoin in Brief stories? Tell us in the comments section below.   


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Marco Krohn (@mkrohn5).


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Japanese Exchange Coincheck Eyes America for Expansion

Japanese Exchange Coincheck Eyes America for Expansion         

Coincheck, the Japanese crypto trading platform that found new owners after it was hacked earlier this year, is now planning to offer services on the US market. The exchange expects to be licensed in Japan next month, according to the chief executive of Monex, the online brokerage which bought the troubled company last month.    

Also read: Coincheck Resumes Monero Withdrawals and Sales

Coincheck’s US Plans – Part of the Comeback

Japanese Exchange Coincheck Eyes America for ExpansionRecognizing the need to “study carefully” the legal framework for cryptocurrencies in the US, Japanese exchange Coincheck is planning to expand its operations and its customer base in America, building on top of over 2 million accounts in Japan. No timeframe has been specified yet, but the move is under consideration by the platform’s new management. Its operator, Coin Check Co., became a wholly owned subsidiary of Monex Group in April after losing some ¥58 billion worth of NEM (~$550 million USD at the time) in a hacker attack in January – one of the biggest heists in crypto history.

“The legal framework for cryptocurrency in the US is somehow wandering right now – money transfer, commodity, security. And, the rules are different state by state. So, we have to study this carefully. But the short answer is ‘yes’,” Monex CEO Oki Matsumoto told Bloomberg in an interview about Coincheck’s future intentions. He also revealed that the exchange, which spent a lot of funds and efforts to improve security and restore confidence, is expecting to receive a license in Japan next month. Matsumoto’s comments indicated that bringing the trading platform to the US is also part of the plans for the comeback.

Japanese Exchange Coincheck Eyes America for Expansion

For many observers, the purchase of the notoriously hacked cryptocurrency exchange for $34 million might have looked like a risky investment, but the takeover has so far proven to be a positive move for Monex. Its shares have almost doubled in price since the news of the acquisition broke in April. Doing crypto business in the US may not seem like a great idea either, given that the company comes from Japan, a country known for its much friendlier crypto atmosphere.

A Different Perspective of the West

Matsumoto, however, has a different reading of the situation as he sees favorable conditions forming in the West, including lower taxes and growing interest from institutional money managers. France was mentioned in the interview in the light of last month’s government decision to lower the crypto capital gains tax rate by more than half – to 19 percent, compared to Japan’s 55 percent.

Japanese Exchange Coincheck Eyes America for ExpansionAnother sign of the warming climate in Paris was the Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire’s statement this week that he was wrong about cryptocurrencies before. “I was a neophyte a year ago, but now I’m passionate. It took me a year, so let’s […] make France the first place for blockchain and crypto innovation in the EU,” Le Maire was quoted as saying at a meeting with entrepreneurs and representatives of the French startup Blockchain Partner. According to Bitcoin.fr, he also assured the members of the French crypto community of his “total support.”

The Japanese government does not plan any tax cuts for crypto-related incomes and gains and that, according to Oki Matsumoto, means that cryptocurrency will remain a “plaything for speculators.” Despite legalizing crypto trade last year, Tokyo has yet to determine the status of crypto-related financial products such as futures contracts, which will require some amendments to the Japanese securities law.

“Japan may seem like it’s one step ahead in crypto, but in terms of deciding what’s a security or a token, and in terms of attracting institutional investors, the US and Europe are moving ahead,” the chief executive of Monex said. In his opinion, the classification of cryptocurrencies in the United States will create regulatory clarity which is necessary to draw more investors. Matsumoto believes that the decisions US regulators take will influence the role of cryptocurrencies, in general, and have a huge impact on the crypto policies in his country, in particular.

What are your expectations for the future of crypto industries in both Japan and the US? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.  


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What is EOS? Block.one Explains EOS Project Through Series of Videos

What is EOS

The EOS team has been releasing videos all week about the project, making it a great time for beginners to check out the EOS blockchain. We’re here to help break things down even further – what is EOS? Let’s find out.

Who is Launching the EOS Blockchain?

It’s not Block.one, if that’s what you’re thinking. Block.one is the team behind the development of EOS, but, as the first of the EOS videos explains, the EOSIO blockchain can only be launched by communities – not by any centralized organization, which is what it would be if Block.one ...

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Five Petitions Pile Up Against India’s Crypto Crackdown – High Courts Ordered to Ignore

Five Petitions Pile Up Against India's Crypto Crackdown – High Courts Ordered to Ignore

Five writ petitions have now been filed against the order by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banning banks from providing services to entities dealing with cryptocurrencies. The country’s Supreme Court has set a date to hear all petitions but has barred all other courts from accepting any new ones.

Also read: US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment Firms

Latest Writ Petition Against RBI Order

Five petitions have been filed with Indian courts against RBI’s order banning financial institutions under its control from dealing with cryptocurrencies and servicing entities that deal with them including crypto exchanges. RBI has set “a three-month deadline or by July 5 for financial institutions to comply with its notice, putting the cryptocurrency businesses in India in a disarray,” the Economic Times elaborated.

Five Petitions Pile Up Against India's Crypto Crackdown – High Courts Ordered to IgnoreThe latest writ petition was filed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), a non-profit industry body representing the interests of online and mobile value-added services industry. It was filed on Tuesday according to IAMAI president, Subho Ray, and the Supreme Court website, Inc42 reported.

Crypto exchanges that are part of the association include Unocoin, Zebpay, and Coinsecure. They were originally part of another industry body called the Digital and Blockchain Foundation of India which merged with IAMAI, the publication detailed.

Four Other Writ Petitions

The fourth writ petition was “filed by a group of 11 different representatives from various crypto-related businesses,” the Economic Times conveyed on Monday. One of the petitioners told the news outlet:

Banking is an essential service. How can one deny access to an essential service when I am not doing anything illegal? You have not declared VCs (virtual currencies) illegal in the country.

Three more writ petitions were previously filed. One was by Kali Digital Eco-systems and another by Flinstone Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which conducts business under the trade name Money Trade Coin (MTC).

Moreover, a joint writ petition was filed by four cryptocurrency exchanges in the Supreme Court against the RBI circular on May 8. According to lawyer Mohammed Danish, the four exchanges are Coindelta Exchange run by Bitfair Technologies, Koinex Exchange run by Discidium Internet Labs, Throughbit Exchange run by Throughbit technologies, and Coindcx run by Neblio Technologies.

Supreme Court Taking Charge

Five Petitions Pile Up Against India's Crypto Crackdown – High Courts Ordered to IgnoreFollowing the petition by IAMAI, the Supreme Court on Thursday reportedly refused to stay RBI’s order. “However, it allowed cryptocurrency exchanges, their shareholders, traders and other individuals to present their cases within two weeks to the RBI, which will look into the issue in accordance with the law,” the Financial Express explained.

All petitions relating to RBI’s crypto directive will be heard by the Supreme Court; the hearing is set for July 20. Pending petitions have been transferred to the Supreme Court from two high courts – two in Delhi High Court and one in Calcutta High Court.

Furthermore, high courts have been ordered not to entertain any more petitions regarding RBI’s crypto order, Business Standard described, adding:

No court shall accept petitions on the subject of cryptocurrency.

Do you think the Supreme Court will reverse RBI’s order? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin in Brief Friday: UN Backs Crypto-Solar Project in Moldova, Malta Uses Blockchain in Public Transportation

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: UN Backs Crypto-Solar Project in Moldova, Malta Uses Blockchain in Public Transportation

Today’s Bitcoin in Brief features several examples of harnessing crypto and blockchain technologies to improve quality of life around the world. The United Nations is involved in a crypto-funded project to power Moldova’s Technical University with solar energy. Initiatives in Malta and India will employ blockchain technologies to create more reliable public transportation and land registry systems.

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto Rules

UN Launches Crypto-Funded Solar Power Project in Moldova

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is launching this year a crypto-funded initiative to power a university in Moldova with solar energy. The project, to be realized in partnership with the South African solar power marketplace Sun Exchange, will allow people to buy solar cells and then lease them to the Technical University in Chisinau, which is one of the largest in the country.

According to a VOA report, the purchases will be made using Solarcoin, a crypto launched by the blockchain startup Electricchain. The idea is to find new sources of finance “to help buildings go green overnight, in this case with rooftop solar panels,” said Dumitru Vasilescu, program manager with UNDP in Moldova. “One of the biggest obstacles to countries investing in renewable energy is the lack of financing, as you often have to wait 10 to 15 years before you get a return on your investment,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: UN Backs Crypto-Solar Project in Moldova, Malta Uses Blockchain in Public Transportation

Vasilescu added that the university will get a full 1 megawatt of energy installed in the summer as a result of the crowdfunding effort. The owners of the solar cells will in turn receive Solarcoins, as soon as the university produces energy, and will be able to earn about 4% interest on their investments. According to the UNDP representative, there is more than 10,000 square meters of unused rooftop space on public buildings in the country, which could potentially be covered with solar panels.

Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, is heavily dependent on energy imports, mainly from the Russian Federation. Cryptocurrencies have been gaining popularity in the former Soviet republic which is economically and politically on a crossroad between East and West. The local crypto community has recently opened the country’s first cryptocurrency exchange and presented a new digital token, both developed locally.

Malta Uses Blockchain for Better Public Transportation

Authorities in Malta, a country maintaining a crypto-friendly regulatory environment, are working on a project to use blockchain to improve the public transportation services. Maltese Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Ian Borg, has announced a partnership with Omnitude, a multi-enterprise blockchain platform. According to a press release, the deal is part of the nation’s blockchain strategy that will see the technology implemented to develop a transport and logistics platform using Omnitude’s blockchain middleware technology.

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: UN Backs Crypto-Solar Project in Moldova, Malta Uses Blockchain in Public Transportation

On the first stage, the government will work with the company to introduce overall improvements in transport reliability. Omnitude is a tech partner of Formula 1 team Williams Martini Racing and is working to assess the benefits that blockchain can bring to advanced engineering. Their project is said to be the first example of using blockchain in F1.

“We believe in Omnitude’s blockchain technology and its broad use-cases for the government […] It will improve the quality of life and enhance access to information for Maltese citizens. Blockchain technology is a key part of our overall technology strategy that will transform different sectors,” Ian Borg said. Earlier this year, Malta became one of the first countries in the world to approve a national strategy on blockchain technology.

Land Registry in India Made Reliable with Blockchain

The potential of the technology underpinning the majority of cryptocurrencies is not left unnoticed in other parts of the world. In India, blockchain will be used to trace transactions in property sales almost in real time. A newly announced project aims to build a land registry using blockchain technology for the Indian city of Panchkula, according to a blog post on the website of the London School of Economics.

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: UN Backs Crypto-Solar Project in Moldova, Malta Uses Blockchain in Public TransportationThe people behind the initiative – Alexandru Oprunenco, innovation advisor for the UNDP in Asia, and Chami Akmeemana, CEO of the Blockchain Learning Group – say their small venture is actually a “big deal” that represents a “meaningful and commercially viable solution” for the region. They point out that in many cities across the developing world land registry systems suffer from inefficiency and corruption. People selling a piece of land are often unsure if they legally own it, even if they have a legitimate sale deed. Potential buyers, on the other hand, are also not sure if the seller owns the plot.

“With blockchain we have a chance to fix many of these problems. The solution we are building incorporates many key benefits of the technology, such as an immutable history of transactions, so that no one doubts the authenticity of the records or be able to forge them,” Oprunenco and Akmeemana explain. Their project is using the Ethereum blockchain.

The Central Bank of Libya Says Bitcoin Is Illegal

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: UN Backs Crypto-Solar Project in Moldova, Malta Uses Blockchain in Public TransportationObviously failing to recognize the potential of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technologies, the central bank of Libya has declared “virtual currency” illegal in the country. Those who use it cannot be protected by Libyan law, the financial institution said, quoted by The Libya Observer.

On Tuesday, the CBL warned all Libyan citizens and businesses of the “security perils” of cryptocurrency, saying that it could be used in crimes, financing terrorism and money laundering – arguments often heard from financial regulators and central banks around the world. According to the notice, any use of virtual currency requires prior permission from the central bank in Tripoli.

What are your thoughts on today’s topics in Bitcoin in Brief? Let us know in the comments section below.


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South Korea to Follow G20 Unified Cryptocurrency Regulations

South Korea to Follow G20 Unified Cryptocurrency Regulations

The South Korean government reportedly plans to soften its crypto regulations in line with the policies set by the G20 nations in an effort to create “unified regulations.” The Korean regulators have also agreed to apply the standards set by the Financial Action Task Force to its crypto policies.

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

G20’s Unified Crypto Regulations

South Korea is reportedly planning to follow the policies set by the G-20 nations and soften its crypto regulations, the Korea Times reported.

The G20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors. Its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union.

South Korea to Follow G20 Unified Cryptocurrency Regulations

The top financial policymakers of these countries have agreed to acknowledge and regulate cryptocurrencies as financial assets, the news outlet noted, elaborating:

Financial policymakers of G-20 nations have set a July deadline for the first step toward ‘unified regulations’ of cryptocurrencies. One reason for the move by the G-20 is that they see cryptocurrencies as ‘too small to jeopardize’ financial markets. The combined market value of cryptocurrencies is less than 1 percent of the global GDP.

Financial Action Task Force Standards

While the G-20 classifies cryptocurrencies as financial assets, the Korean government has earlier classified them as non-financial products due to their speculative nature. Acknowledging the differences, the country’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) was quoted expressing:

It’s almost certain that cryptocurrencies will be classified as assets and the main issue will be centered on how to regulate them properly under the unified frame that will be agreed upon between G-20 nations. Given the current stance, this isn’t good, but we will step up efforts to improve things.

South Korea has also agreed to apply to cryptocurrencies the standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body formed to fight money laundering and terrorism financing, the publication conveyed.

Softening Crypto Policies

Recently, the new FSS chief indicated that he will ease the country’s cryptocurrency regulations. Governor Yoon Suk-heun said there are many positive aspects of cryptocurrencies, promising to release updates on this issue in the near future.

South Korea to Follow G20 Unified Cryptocurrency RegulationsMeanwhile, the country’s National Tax Agency has been collaborating with the finance ministry to collect tax data in order to establish crypto tax policies. While cryptocurrency transactions are currently tax-free in Korea, crypto operators are required to pay income taxes, the news outlet detailed.

Despite the new FSS chief suggesting an easing of crypto regulations, his department has launched an investigation into crypto exchanges, in collaboration with other related authorities. In March, the prosecution arrested four employees of crypto exchanges including the CEO of Coinnest. Last week, they started investigating the country’s largest crypto exchange, Upbit. This week, three people were arrested from HTS Coin exchange for alleged fraud and embezzlement charges.

Do you think South Korea will soon ease crypto policies? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Cryptocurrencies to be Called “Digital Money” in Russia, Tokens – “Digital Rights”

Cryptocurrencies to be Called “Digital Money” in Russia, Tokens – “Digital Rights”

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has shed some light on the progress authorities are making towards adopting the long-awaited crypto regulations. Legislators will replace common words like “cryptocurrencies” and “tokens” with legal terms such as “digital money” and “digital rights”, he revealed. Two draft laws have been filed in the Duma. One of the bills is scheduled for first reading next week.

Also read: EU Adopts Rules to Reduce Anonymity for Crypto Users

Replacing “Slang” with “Strict Legal Concepts”

Cryptocurrencies to be Called “Digital Money” in Russia, Tokens – “Digital Rights”The work on the Russian crypto regulations has been going on for some time, with unresolved questions and disagreements between institutions postponing their adoption. Two pieces of legislation have been filed in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament – a bill defining crypto activities like initial coin offerings and mining, and a draft law amending the Russian civil code to regulate crypto transactions. According to Parlamentskaya Gazeta, the law legalizing token sales has been approved by the Financial Market Committee and will hit the House floor on May 22.

Words like “cryptocurrency” and its derivatives have gained popularity beyond crypto communities, yet authorities around the world tend to avoid them. Russian officials are no exception. According to comments made by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the new Russian legislation on “digital financial assets” will not use the colloquial terms either, RIA Novosti and RBC reported. In a speech during the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum he said:

We need to consolidate the basic provisions and translate them into the language of the law. Therefore, instead of common slang expressions such as “cryptocurrencies” and “tokens”, lawmakers are developing the more strict legal concepts of “digital money” and “digital rights.”

Regulating Everything Is Counterproductive

We need to consolidate the basic provisions and translate them into the language of the law. Therefore, instead of common slang expressions such as “cryptocurrencies” and “tokens”, lawmakers are developing the more strict legal concepts of “digital money” and “digital rights.”Medvedev emphasized that the ruble is and will remain in the future “the only legal means of payment” in Russia but admitted that “deals in the digital environment are a reality we can no longer ignore.” He added that the new regulations would help to ensure judicial protection against abuse, prevent the transfer of assets into an uncontrolled digital environment, and develop a basis for taxation.

The head of the Russian government noted, however, that attempts to regulate everything are not effective in the digital world and authorities need а flexible legal regulation in this sector that does not hamper its development. “Prohibitions in the digital environment do not work because one can immediately find ways to circumvent them,” Dmitry Medvedev explained, quoted by ITAR-TASS. “It is quite difficult to enforce a ban,” he noted.

“Attempts to regulate everything in the digital world be absolutely counterproductive and unrealistic. It is changing very quickly and we need to have flexible legislation that sets some basic terms without interfering with the development of the digital space. Finding this balance is probably the most difficult task,” the Russian Prime Minister admitted.

Regulator Wants to Identify Users of Crypto ATMs

While the fine tuning of the upcoming legislation continues in the Duma, other institutions are trying to push forward their own ideas for the new regulatory framework. Russia’s federal financial regulator, Rosfinmonitoring, has recently insisted on introducing mandatory identification for persons using the services of crypto exchange bureaus and Bitcoin ATMs.

We need to consolidate the basic provisions and translate them into the language of the law. Therefore, instead of common slang expressions such as “cryptocurrencies” and “tokens”, lawmakers are developing the more strict legal concepts of “digital money” and “digital rights.”According to the Deputy-Director of the agency, Vladimir Glotov, the identity verification procedure for buyers and sellers of cryptocurrency should copy the identification process for traders of foreign currency. “This is, in fact, our job – we must see the person, look at his transactions and try to understand if they are related to money laundering or tourism financing,” Glotov said.

The deputy head of Rosfinmonitoring added that in the case of cryptocurrencies, the vigilance of the regulatory bodies is especially important as digital coins provide anonymity. “That’s why we are very cautiously and we take part in all discussions,” Glotov told Prime.

The official said he was also positive towards another initiative to expand the scope of the regulations. The Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain (RACIB) has recently proposed the creation of a special register of crypto investors and the assignment of Taxpayer Identification Numbers to all cryptocurrency traders in the country.

Why do you think officials prefer to use different terms when referring to cryptocurrencies? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Openbazaar Enables Decentralized Peer-To-Peer Trading of 44 Cryptocurrencies

Openbazaar Enables Decentralized Peer-To-Peer Trading of 44 Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies can now be traded on the peer-to-peer online marketplace Openbazaar in addition to physical goods, digital goods, and services. Initially, 44 cryptocurrencies are supported but the development team plans to add more over time. There is no fee for trading cryptocurrencies and no need to register with any service.

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

Crypto Trading on Openbazaar

Openbazaar Enables Decentralized Peer-To-Peer Trading of 44 CryptocurrenciesPeer-to-peer e-commerce platform Openbazaar’s development team, OB1, announced this week that fully decentralized, fee-free cryptocurrency trading is now available on the platform with the release of Openbazaar version 2.20. The platform previously had three types of listings: physical goods, digital goods, and services. “We’re now adding a fourth: cryptocurrency,” the team emphasized, elaborating about the new software version:

The biggest new feature is the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Vendors are now able to use a special new listing type to sell cryptocurrencies on Openbazaar. They can choose from 44 different cryptocurrencies right now and more will be added over time.

The main benefits of using Openbazaar to trade crypto, as detailed in the announcement, is that there are “no fees, no need to register with any service, and no threat of an exchange getting hacked,” so users “aren’t forced to reveal any identifying information.”

Openbazaar Enables Decentralized Peer-To-Peer Trading of 44 Cryptocurrencies

“We’ve released this new feature with the goal of listening to the community about how they believe cryptocurrency trading on Openbazaar can be improved. We plan to rapidly iterate as we receive feedback from users,” the OB1 team conveyed. They also shared that since the launch of the crypto trading option, “we’ve seen users on the Openbazaar network from more than 60 different countries.”

Not an Exchange, No Order Book

However, the platform is “completely peer-to-peer” so “this is not an exchange,” Openbazaar developers admitted, adding that “the new feature only allows people to trade cryptocurrencies directly with each other at market prices.” It does not “include an order book with the ability to choose a target price for buying or selling,” the OB1 team clarified.

Openbazaar Enables Decentralized Peer-To-Peer Trading of 44 CryptocurrenciesCurrently, the platform uses 3 different cryptocurrency payment types: Direct, Offline, and Moderated. “If a buyer trusts a seller they can just send their coins directly to them in a direct payment,” the developers described. For sellers who are offline at the time of payment, the Offline option allows them to claim their coins when they return. The Moderated option can be used when buyers do not know or trust the vendors.

For crypto trading, the team reiterated:

“Payment must be settled in whichever coin they [vendors] have chosen for their Openbazaar store, either bitcoin, bitcoin cash, or zcash.”

What do you think of Openbazaar’s crypto trading option? Will you trade cryptocurrencies on Openbazaar? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto Rules

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto Rules

In today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief we’re focusing on developments in the realm of international politics and economics regarding cryptocurrencies. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is looking into the possible uses of digital coins and the associated technologies. Kazakhstan is calling for the adoption of common crypto rules by the United Nations, while Iran and Russia are thinking about using cryptocurrency in bilateral trade.  

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Coinbase Goes After Big Money as Nomura Creates Komainu

OECD Explores Cryptos and ICOs

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto RulesThe Committee on Digital Economy at the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) has started exploring blockchain-based cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The international body also wants to help governments of member-states develop and implement legislation aimed at protecting consumer rights in electronic trade.

According to Elina Sidorenko, head of Russia’s interdepartmental group working to assess risks and opportunities associated with cryptocurrencies, the OECD will be used as a platform to discuss matters related to cryptos and token sales. These discussions will be held in the context of ensuring the safety of consumers of financial services, she said in a post on her Telegram channel.

The OECD and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) recognize the role of cryptocurrency as a means of payment and accumulation, Sidorenko emphasized. Both organizations also view ICOs as a good mechanism to attract funding, she added. “I hope that the generally positive rhetoric on cryptocurrencies in the OECD will not change,” the Russian official said, promising to keep her followers informed on further developments.

Astana Calls for UN Crypto Rules

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev thinks that the time has come to adopt common, international rules on cryptocurrencies with the help of the United Nations. “Most countries are actively exploring the possibility to adapt their regulations to the current configuration of the financial system. At the same time, the disconnected actions of different states will lead to inefficiency. It is necessary to develop general rules,” he insisted, quoted by Zakon.kz.

During the Astana Economic Forum, Nazarbayev noted that Kazakhstan’s own project to issue an assets-backed cryptocurrency called G-Global has won institutional support from international organizations. The initiative “has been mentioned on multiple occasions during the G20 summit. Last week the Council of Foreign Ministers at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which includes more than 50 nations, adopted a resolution to support it,” the president revealed.

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto Rules

Kazakhstani officials have previously said that G-Global will be designed as a crypto “backed by assets, not just trust.” These assets have not been specified so far but the Central Asian country is rich in natural resources. Kazakhstan is the leading economy in the region, generating 60% of its GDP, primarily through the oil and natural gas industry.

Recent reports that Kazakhstan’s central bank is preparing legislation to ban the sale and purchase of cryptocurrencies, as well as crypto mining, have been dismissed by representatives of the local crypto community. According to Leonid Muravjov, VP at the Blockchain and Crypto Technology Association of Kazakhstan, the government is actually spending huge amounts of money to digitize the economy, which is currently heavily reliant on the export of mineral resources.

Kazakhstan and Belarus to Cooperate on Blockchain

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto RulesAstana and Minsk intend to strengthen their ties in the field of blockchain implementation. Kazakhstan and Belarus have signed a memorandum of cooperation that will allow experts from the two former Soviet republics to exchange experience and improve their competitiveness on the world stage through wider adoption of new technologies. Both countries are members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

“The bottom line is that this (blockchain) is a multinational technology, and the development of some real solutions, both at state level and in the private sector, does not make sense in the context of a single state. The memorandum aims to develop the most optimal solutions through exchange of experience and personnel, and to share already working solutions based on blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies,” said Stanislav Baskov, Director of the Belarussian Distributed Ledger Technologies Association.

According to a press release by Astana Hub, Kazakhstan’s IT Park, the agreement was signed during the international expo TIBO – 2018 in Belarus. It would allow Kazakhstan to take advantage of the Belarusian experience in blockchain and cryptocurrency integration. Recently, Minsk legalized crypto-related activities for entities registered with its Hi-Tech Park with a presidential decree that came into force on March 28.

Iran and Russia to Create Crypto Alternative to SWIFT

Recognizing the opportunity to minimize dependence on the US dollar, Iranian authorities have turned their attention to cryptocurrencies. Iran’s central bank has commenced work on proposals to use cryptocurrency in international trade, as requested by the parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs, Interfax reported.

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto Rules“Cryptocurrencies offer a good opportunity to circumvent the use of the dollar, and also replace the SWIFT system,” said Mohamad Reza Purebrahimi, who heads the commission. Teheran has established cooperation with Russia on the matter following a meeting with the chairman of the Economic Policy Committee of the upper house of Russia’s parliament, Dmitriy Mezentsev. Purebrahimi said that the two countries may be the first to use cryptocurrency in bilateral trade transactions.

“Against the backdrop of US pressure, the expansion of settlements in national currencies, as well as the possible use of payment systems like [the Russian] Mir and the Iranian Shetab is promising,” Mezentsev commented. According to official sources quoted in Moscow, Russia may put its version of SWIFT, the SPFS, on blockchain as early as next year.

What are your thoughts on the highlights in today’s Bitcoin in Brief? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Thailand Waives 7% VAT for Individual Cryptocurrency Investors

Thailand Waives 7% VAT for Individual Cryptocurrency Investors

Thailand’s Revenue Department has announced that it will waive the 7% value-added tax for individual cryptocurrency investors. The country began regulating digital currencies and initial coin offerings on Monday, putting the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in charge of the regulations.

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

VAT Exemption

The decree to provide the legal framework for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) in Thailand went into effect on Monday.

Cryptocurrency transactions are currently subject to income tax for both private companies and individual investors, Nation Multimedia explained. Saroch Thongpracum, Director of Legal Affairs of the country’s Revenue Department, announced at a press conference on Tuesday:

The Revenue Department will waive value-added tax for people trading in cryptocurrencies on exchange markets approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Thailand Waives 7% VAT for Individual Cryptocurrency InvestorsHowever, Mr. Saroch emphasized, “Individuals will still have to pay a 15 percent capital gains tax, also known as a withholding tax, on income earned in a transaction.”

The VAT waiver for individual cryptocurrency traders aims to “reduce their tax burden,” the publication noted, adding that the Revenue Department “would issue a regulation waiving the 7 percent VAT for individual investors.”

Furthermore, the news outlet detailed, “Under the new law, private companies launching ICOs have to pay corporate income tax on the funds they raise from the exercise.”

Full Regulations Expected Next Month

Thailand Waives 7% VAT for Individual Cryptocurrency InvestorsAccording to the decree, the Thai SEC will be the primary regulator of digital assets. Three groups of crypto operators will be regulated: brokers, dealers, and ICO portals. They must obtain licenses from the Finance Minister, according to the department’s spokesperson.

The SEC chief says that the Commission expects to issue regulations on cryptocurrencies and ICOs by the end of June after holding a public hearing. “The public hearing will take 2-3 weeks because investments in digital tokens are complicated and carry high risks,” the Bangkok Post reported SEC secretary-general Rapee Sucharitakul conveying. During this time, ICOs are banned in the country.

The news outlet then quoted Mr. Rapee elaborating:

The new regulation aims to provide protection for general investors since only investors who have knowledge of ICO issuance or digital-asset transactions should be allowed to engaging in this kind of trading.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) announced that it will wait for the SEC to release more details of the regulations before it will take any action, Assistant Bank of Thailand governor Chantavarn Sucharitakul told the publication. The central bank has previously requested financial institutions in the country to refrain from dealing with cryptocurrency transactions.

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