Treasury Committee Criticizes UK Regulators’ “Unsustainable” Crypto Stance

Treasury Committee Criticizes U.K. Regulators’ “Unsustainable” Crypto Stance

The parliamentary report published by the UK Treasury Committee has advocated for regulation of the “wild west” crypto-assets sector. The report criticizes the “ambiguity” of the current stance of UK regulators, arguing that with effective regulations, the United Kingdom could become a “global center” for the emerging cryptocurrency sector.

Also Read: Brazil’s Biggest Banks Under Investigation For Monopoly In Cryptocurrency Trade

Treasury Committee Criticizes UK Regulators’ “Unsustainable” Crypto Stance

U.K. Treasury Committee Calls for Regulation of "Wild West" Crypto-AssetsThe recent UK parliamentary report into cryptocurrencies has found the current “ambiguity of the UK Government and regulators’ position [regarding crypto-assets] is clearly not sustainable.”

The report states that “Crypto-assets, and most Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), are currently not within the scope of Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulation,” and as such, “Crypto-asset investors are currently afforded very little protection from the litany of risks, namely there are no formal mechanisms for consumer redress, nor compensation.”

The Treasury Committee advocates “strongly” that “regulation should be introduced,” proposing, “At a minimum, regulation…address[ing] consumer protection and Anti-Money Laundering (AML).”

U.K. Has Potential to Become “Global Center” for Crypto-Assets

U.K. Treasury Committee Calls for Regulation of "Wild West" Crypto-AssetsThe report asserts that “In deciding the regulatory approach, the Government and regulators should evaluate the risks of crypto-assets, and assess whether their growth should be encouraged.”

“If growth is favored,” the Committee continues, “regulation could lead to positive outcomes for the crypto-asset market, including the move toward a more mature business model and increased liquidity.”

The report emphasizes that “If the UK develops a proportionate regulatory environment for crypto-assets, the UK could be well placed to become a global center for this activity.”

“Consumer Warnings” Comprise “Feeble Corrective” to Misleading ICO Adverts

U.K. Treasury Committee Calls for Regulation of "Wild West" Crypto-AssetsThe parliamentary report also argues that the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has insufficiently responded to “misleading adverts” for initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The Committee asserts that “The advertisements of both ICO issuers and crypto-asset exchanges are not regulated by the FCA. One-sided adverts imply that the crypto-asset market will only go up, and that anyone can make a lot of money easily.”

The report describes “The FCA’s consumer warnings” as comprising “a feeble corrective to such misleading adverts,” concluding that “The regulator needs more power to control how crypto-asset exchanges and ICOs market their services.”

What do you make of the UK parliamentary report’s findings? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Danske Bank’s Alleged Money Laundering Now Totals $234 Billion, CEO Quits

Danske Bank's Alleged Money Laundering Now Totals $235 Billion, CEO Quits

The investigation into Danske Bank’s alleged money laundering has uncovered new funds. The amount of “questionable money” flowing through the bank’s Estonian branch has grown from $150 billion to approximately $234 billion. In response, the CEO of Danske Bank turned in his resignation.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

From $150B to $234B

Danske Bank's Alleged Money Laundering Now Totals $235 Billion, CEO QuitsDenmark’s largest bank released the report detailing the results of its internal investigation into the money laundering allegations involving its Estonian branch on Wednesday.

Prior to this release, $150 billion allegedly flowed through Danske Bank’s Estonian branch to suspicious accounts of non-resident clients from 2007 to 2015. However, the bank’s investigation has revised this number. Danske has “acknowledged that about €200bn [~US$234 billion] in questionable money flowed through its small Estonian branch in one of the largest money laundering scandals ever uncovered,” the Financial Times reported.

Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Denmark’s prime minister, was quoted by the news outlet:

I’m shocked. The numbers that came out today are of an astronomical magnitude. It is, of course, deeply disappointing that a bank that I consider to be an important player for Denmark has become involved in this kind of activity.

Danske’s Investigations

Danske Bank's Alleged Money Laundering Now Totals $235 Billion, CEO Quits“The investigations have been led by the Bruun & Hjejle law firm,” Danske Bank described, adding that “The scope of the investigations covers approximately 15,000 customers and 9.5 million payments.”

According to the report, “Some 12,000 documents and more than 8 million emails have been searched, and more than 70 interviews have been conducted with current and former employees and managers…Overall, approximately 70 people have worked full time on the investigations.” In addition, the report states that approximately 6,200 high-risk customers have been examined, “and the vast majority of these customers have been deemed suspicious.”

The Financial Times added that “The non-resident customers came from countries including Russia, the UK and the British Virgin Islands, but the bank said it could not yet estimate how much of the total was illicit.” The news outlet noted that Russia’s central bank said that Danske customers “permanently participate in financial transactions of doubtful origin,” estimated at billions of roubles monthly.

CEO Borgen Resigns

On Wednesday, Danske Bank also announced that its CEO, Thomas F. Borgen, has resigned. He has been the bank’s CEO since 2013 and was in charge of international banking including Estonia from 2009 to 2012. Borgen said:

It is clear that Danske Bank has failed to live up to its responsibility in the case of possible money laundering in Estonia. I deeply regret this…I believe that it is best for all parties that I resign.

According to the bank’s announcement, Borgen will continue in his position until a new CEO has been appointed.

Donation and Revised Outlook

Danske Bank's Alleged Money Laundering Now Totals $235 Billion, CEO QuitsAnother announcement made by Danske Bank on Wednesday concerns the donation of DKK 1.5 billion (~$235 million).

“Danske Bank does not wish to benefit financially from suspicious transactions that took place in the non-resident portfolio of its Estonian branch in the period from 2007 to 2015,” the bank wrote, adding:

As the bank is not able to provide an accurate estimate of the amount of suspicious transactions made by non-resident customers in Estonia during the period, the Board of Directors has decided to donate the gross income from the customers in the period from 2007 to 2015, which is estimated at DKK 1.5 billion, to an independent foundation.

The foundation will be “set up to support initiatives aimed at combating international financial crime, including money laundering, also in Denmark and Estonia.”

The bank further explained that its net profit for 2018 has been revised downward due to this donation. “We now expect net profit for 2018 to be in the range of DKK 16-17 billion [~$2.5-2.7 billion],” the bank clarified, noting that previously it “expected net profit for 2018 to be at the lower end of the DKK 18-20 billion [~$2.8-3.1 billion] range.”

Why do you think regulators are going after crypto when there is so much money laundering in the banking system? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC Stolen

Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC Stolen

Japanese government-approved cryptocurrency exchange Zaif has confirmed that it has been hacked. After a preliminary investigation, the exchange says at least 5,966 BTC have been stolen, with an estimated total damage of $60 million. Some of the stolen coins belong to the exchange but the majority belong to customers.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Zaif Hacked

Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC StolenJapanese crypto exchange Zaif has been hacked, its operator announced on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Tech Bureau Inc., which operates Zaif, explained that the exchange “detected server abnormality” on Monday and immediately suspended several services, including deposit, withdrawal, and merchant payment services.

The company revealed that unauthorized access to its hot wallet was detected between 17:00 and 19:00 on Sept. 14, elaborating:

Some of the deposit and withdrawal hot wallets were hacked by unauthorized access from the outside, and part of the virtual currencies managed by us was illegally discharged to the outside.

Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC StolenThe exchange believes that three cryptocurrencies may have been stolen: BTC, BCH, and MONA. While it has confirmed that 5,966 BTC were stolen, the theft of the other two cryptocurrencies is still being investigated. Tech Bureau explained that the extent of the damage is currently unknown because the exchange’s server will not be restarted until it is confirmed to be secured in order to prevent further damage. Nonetheless, the company clarified:

It is estimated that the total loss due to the damage…is equivalent to about 6.7 billion yen [~US$60 million] (including MONA and BCH) in Japanese yen.

Out of the total damage, the company says 2.2 billion yen (~$19.6 million) belong to the exchange and 4.5 billion yen (~$40 million) belong to customers. Tech Bureau said it has asked for 5 billion yen (~$44.6 million) in assistance from a subsidiary of Fisco Ltd. to help repay affected customers, Kyodo News described.

Investigating and Rebuilding

In its announcement, Tech Bureau stated that it reported the breach to the Treasury Department on Sept. 18. “This case is a criminal case,” the company wrote, adding that it has requested an investigation into the breach. The company detailed:

Currently, we are checking and strengthening security, rebuilding the server, etc., in order to restart the system of depositing / withdrawing virtual currency.

The Osaka-based exchange, established in 2014, is one of the 16 government-approved crypto exchanges in Japan. The country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) issued the company two business improvement orders: the first was on March 8 and the second on June 22. The agency ramped up its oversight of crypto exchanges after hackers stole 58 billion yen (~$534 million) worth of the cryptocurrency NEM from Coincheck in January.

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


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Major Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next Month

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next Month

Major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit will reportedly begin operations in Singapore next month. The new exchange will offer Singapore dollar trading as well as crypto-to-crypto pairs in three markets offered by Bittrex, Upbit’s US-based partner.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Upbit Expands to Singapore

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthDunamu Inc., the operator of the Kakao-backed exchange Upbit, said on Wednesday that it is launching a cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore next month, Yonhap reported.

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthUpbit is currently South Korea’s second largest crypto exchange. At the time of writing, its 24-hour trading volume is approximately $229 million, second only to Bithumb which has a 24-hour trading volume of $392 million. At present, Upbit has 271 cryptocurrencies listed.

Dunamu established a Singaporean branch office in February and has been preparing for an exchange launch ever since, the news outlet conveyed. Kim Kook-hyun, head of Upbit’s Singaporean branch, was quoted saying:

As Singapore has proactively supported blockchain technology, our advancement into the nation will help us secure many chances to lead a variety of relevant projects and to have global competitiveness.

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthWithout revealing the exact launch date, the company confirmed that it will be in “early October.”

Singapore was picked as the firm’s first overseas expansion because of “the city-state’s strong support for blockchain and related technologies,” the Investor stated, adding that the firm plans to expand to more countries in the future.

At the Upbit Developer Conference held on Jeju Island, Dunamu CEO Lee Sir-goo confirmed that Upbit will not be issuing its own cryptocurrency. Referring to the exchange’s expansion to Singapore, he told reporters:

We don’t want to lose out on the opportunities now…If we wait until the Korean crypto exchange environment improves, we could lag behind our global competitors.

Plans for Upbit Singapore

The new exchange will be headed by Alex Kim who previously served as the head of Kakao Indonesia, the Investor described, elaborating:

The Upbit Singapore [exchange] will be serviced in English and offer Singapore dollar trading. It will also support crypto-to-crypto pairs, including Upbit’s US partner Bittrex’s bitcoin, ethereum and tether markets.

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthLee detailed, “In the future we would like to add other fiat currencies and expand to other countries in Southeast Asia,” emphasizing that Upbit will continue to strengthen its partnership with Bittrex as it expands globally.

For the launch promotion, trading fees in the Singapore dollar market will be waived for one month for “users who complete their subscription and self-certification,” the publication noted.

Recently, several companies have expanded to Singapore. Line, the Japanese subsidiary of Korean internet giant Naver, has launched a crypto exchange called Bitbox in Singapore. In addition, Binance is beta testing a fiat exchange in the country, CEO Changpeng Zhao revealed last week.

What do you think of Upbit expanding to Singapore? Let us know in the comments section below.


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PBOC Provides Update on Its Crypto Prevention Efforts

PBOC Provides Update on Its Crypto Prevention Efforts

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has issued a statement detailing its efforts to stop and prevent crypto and initial coin offering activities in the country. The bank outlines measures against the widespread of overseas exchanges servicing domestic users such as blocking trading platforms and closing down 3,000 trading accounts.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Servicing Domestic Users From Overseas

PBOC Provides Update on Its Crypto Prevention EffortsThe Shanghai Head Office of the People’s Bank of China provided an update on the bank’s risk prevention measures for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

PBOC Provides Update on Its Crypto Prevention Efforts“In recent years, speculation related to virtual currency has prevailed, prices have skyrocketed, and risks have accumulated rapidly, seriously disrupting economic, financial and social order,” the bank proclaimed. “In order to maintain financial stability,” the central bank referred to the announcement in September last year which shut down all crypto exchanges in the country.

Consequently, the bank emphasized that the country’s “global share of domestic virtual currency transactions has dropped from the initial 90% to less than 5%.” However, through tracking and monitoring the activities of crypto exchanges that left the country, the bank found:

Some virtual currency trading platforms originally set up in China have left, registered overseas and continue to provide [service] to domestic users.

In addition, the bank noted that other methods of token issuance have emerged. “Another issue is initial coin, fork and exchange offerings (ICOs, IFOs and IEOs) and cyber currencies that are hyped up under the guise of a sharing economy,” Yical Global quoted the bank.

PBOC’s Responses

PBOC Provides Update on Its Crypto Prevention EffortsIn response to the consequences of shutting down crypto exchanges in the country, the PBOC has deployed the National Internet Financial Risk Special Remediation Leading Group and adopted a series of targeted measures.

The first is to “strengthen the monitoring of virtual currency trading platforms” that provide trading services to domestic users from abroad. The publication detailed:

China’s central bank has blocked 124 cryptocurrency trading platforms that targeted Chinese residents while using overseas servers to sidestep local laws.

PBOC Provides Update on Its Crypto Prevention EffortsThe second is to strengthen the clean up of crypto-related payment and settlement services, including efforts to “guide the relevant payment institutions to strengthen payment channel management, identify customers and provide risk warnings, establish a monitoring and inspection mechanism, and stop providing payment services for suspicious transactions.” The bank disclosed:

Currently, the relevant payment channels have been checked and about 3,000 accounts engaged in virtual currency transactions have been closed.

Fighting ICOs

PBOC Provides Update on Its Crypto Prevention EffortsThe third measure the PBOC described relates to ICOs and similar products. The bank aims to strengthen the research and evaluation of these instruments in order to “fight early…prevent problems…and transmit clearer regulatory signals to the market.” As part of this plan, the bank wants to ramp up censorship efforts, including “the disposal of domestic ICOs and virtual currency transaction related websites.”

In conclusion, the central bank reminds consumers and investors to increase awareness of the risks of ICOs, their issuers, and individuals and organizations that facilitate crypto transactions “for domestic residents through the deployment of overseas servers.” The bank also urges citizens to report suspicious activities relating to cryptocurrencies and ICOs to the authorities.

What do you think of the PBOC’s efforts to stop domestic crypto and ICO activities so far? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Iran to Allow Mining Hardware Imports, Cyprus Creates Fintech Hub

The Daily: Iran to Allow Mining Hardware Imports, Cyprus Creates Fintech Hub to Catch Up

Following a decision to recognize mining as an industry, the Islamic Republic of Iran is about to legalize the import of mining equipment. Also in The Daily, an executive at a leading Spanish bank insists cryptocurrencies are “perfect” and must be understood; trying to better understand the crypto space, Cyprus has set up a fintech innovation hub; and in Zimbabwe, the new finance minister is pushing the country’s central bank in a similar direction, calling on the RBZ to create a crypto unit.

Also read: Ethfinex Gets DEX, Cloudflare Goes Interplanetary

Iran to Legalize the Import of Mining Equipment, Considers Exchange

The Daily: Iran to Allow Mining Hardware Imports, Cyprus Creates Fintech Hub to Catch UpJust two weeks after Iranian authorities announced a decision to recognize cryptocurrency mining as an economic activity, the government in Tehran is preparing to officially endorse the import of hardware equipment used to mint digital coins.

The move is aimed at supporting the new industry in times when the country’s economy is under heavy pressure exacerbated by reintroduced US sanctions. It also comes after in August Iran stepped up plans to issue a national cryptocurrency.

This week, the Secretary of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, Abolhassan Firouzabadi, was quoted by Iranian media saying: “Necessary coordination has been done with related entities to allow the flow of hardware needed to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.” The high-ranking official also noted that besides legalizing crypto mining, the Council is also considering the establishment of an online digital assets exchange.

Cryptocurrencies Must Be Understood, Says Chair of Major Spanish Bank

The Daily: Iran to Allow Mining Hardware Imports, Cyprus Creates Fintech Hub to Catch UpCryptocurrencies are “perfect” but are used for “bad purposes” today, so we have to be careful, according to Francisco Gonzalez, Group Executive Chairman of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, Spain’s second largest bank.

In an interview with CNBC, BBVA’s representative also noted that blockchain, the distributed ledger technology underpinning digital currencies, is a “big, big tool”, but warned about the insufficient understanding of it too. Gonzalez, whose bank is actively investing in the fintech space, also pointed out:

We are in the middle of an incredible digital revolution. And in fact, a new world order is in the making, both social and economic…Something must be done in order to spread the wealth of this revolution to everybody…There are some ripple effects which must be understood in the case of cryptocurrencies.

Cyprus Creates Fintech Hub to Catch Up With Competition in the Crypto Space

The Daily: Iran to Allow Mining Hardware Imports, Cyprus Creates Fintech Hub to Catch UpProbably as part of its efforts to better understand cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) has established a Fintech Innovation Hub on the island. The Mediterranean nation, where financial services are a significant contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP), has to catch up with countries like Estonia, Malta and Lichtenstein which are definitely ahead in the race to attract businesses from the crypto space.

CySEC Chair Demetra Kalogerou believes regulation has to ensure the transfer of financial goods and services in a fair way. However, she also says that it’s not just about supervision of persons but the very technology that’s being used.

“We don’t want our regulatory framework to be static. We want it to progress in line with the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s investor,” Kalogerou stressed in an interview with Finance Magnates. That’s why, she pointed out, a dedicated hub would allow the Cypriots to experiment with the new technology in a safe environment and understand the risks and benefits before potential investors are exposed to new investment products.

New Finance Minister in Harare Pushing for a Crypto Unit at RBZ

The Daily: Iran to Allow Mining Hardware Imports, Cyprus Creates Fintech Hub to Catch Up
Mthuli Ncube

Mthuli Ncube, Zimbabwe’s newly appointed finance minister, revealed he is trying to convince the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the central bank of the economically hurting country, to establish a “cryptocurrency unit”, African media reported. The push is part of his plans to mitigate the nation’s ongoing cash shortage and position it better for new investments.

“Zimbabwe should be investing in understanding innovations and often central banks are too slow in investing in these technologies. But there are other countries which are moving faster. If you look at the Swiss central bank, they are investing in and understanding bitcoin,” Ncube said, quoted by IT Web Africa. The minister believes that if countries like Switzerland see value in cryptocurrencies, Zimbabwe should also pay attention.

“We have innovative youngsters, so the idea shouldn’t be to stop it and say don’t do this, but rather the regulators should invest in catching up with them and find ways to understand it. Then you regulate it because you now understand it,” added the representative of the current executive power in Harare.

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


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Mthuli Ncube (Twitter).


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Denmark’s Largest Bank Took Two Years to Close Accounts of Blacklisted Russian Clients

Denmark’s Largest Bank Took Two Years to Close Accounts of Blacklisted Russian Clients

Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, reportedly knew that some of its Estonian branch’s clients were on the Russian government’s blacklist but did not close their accounts for two years. The bank is currently being probed by three countries over $150 billion money laundering allegations.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Danske ‘Ok’ With Blacklisted Clients

Denmark’s Largest Bank Took Two Years to Close Accounts of Blacklisted Russian ClientsDanske Bank is currently under investigation by authorities in three countries: the US, Denmark, and Estonia. Its officials reportedly “knew earlier than previously indicated about problems at its tiny Estonia branch, including that it held accounts for blacklisted Russian clients,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing correspondence it has seen. The publication elaborated:

Officials at Danske Bank were aware almost two years before it started shutting questionable accounts that the small but highly profitable branch was involved in potentially illicit money flows.

Denmark’s Largest Bank Took Two Years to Close Accounts of Blacklisted Russian ClientsThe Estonian branch was one of the bank’s profit drivers, generating a net profit of €63 million (~US$73.5 million) in 2012, the most lucrative year. The whole bank reported €636.6 million (~$742.6 million) in net profit that year, the publication noted.

The largest bank in Denmark has been at the center of one of Europe’s largest money laundering cases. Between 2007 and 2015, an estimated $150 billion was suspected to have flowed through the branch to accounts belonging to non-Estonian customers including Russian clients. However, the bank has not confirmed how much of that figure comes from suspicious transactions. It has launched an internal investigation and is expected to announce the results on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Discriminating Email

Denmark’s Largest Bank Took Two Years to Close Accounts of Blacklisted Russian ClientsAccording to the Wall Street Journal, an April 2013 email reveals that the bank’s anti-money laundering (AML) chief based in Denmark had asked colleagues in the Estonian branch “about client accounts whose owners appeared on a blacklist generated by Russia’s central bank.” The Bank of Russia keeps a database of individuals and companies suspected of financial wrongdoing which it shares across borders. The list currently has about 500,000 names.

The Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) said on Tuesday that “it repeatedly complained to Danish counterparts about the branch’s blacklisted customers,” the news outlet conveyed, adding that in a 2013 email, Niels Thos Mikkelsen, the bank’s then-compliance executive, wrote:

They have the impression that we do not take the issue seriously.

Denmark’s Largest Bank Took Two Years to Close Accounts of Blacklisted Russian Clients
Thomas Borgen.

Furthermore, the news outlet added that a spokesman for the Danish FSA pointed out that a reprimand ruling against Danske Bank in May states that the authority received “misleading” information from the bank between 2012 and 2014. Danske claims the information came from the branch.

While the Financial Times recently reported that Thomas Borgen, the bank’s CEO, was notified in October 2013 about suspicious transactions at the Estonian branch, Borgen insists that “he was not informed in detail at the time about the problems,” Reuters described on Tuesday, elaborating:

The Danske Bank case has led to speculation in Denmark that its chief executive Thomas Borgen, who was in charge of its international operations, including Estonia, between 2009 and 2012, will step down.

Why do you think the regulators are after crypto when they let Danske Bank service blacklisted clients for two years? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Exchanges Round-Up: Palestinians Use Crypto to Transfer Offshore, LXDX Targets Retail Investors

Exchanges Round-Up: Palestinians Use Crypto to Transfer Offshore, Lxbx Targets Retail Investors

In recent news pertaining to cryptocurrency exchanges, Palestinians are reportedly turning to crypto brokers to facilitate cross-border transactions, XBT Provider has revealed plans to launch an exchange-traded product that will track between 5-10 cryptocurrencies, and LXDX has announced that it will make its platform available to retail investors.

Also Read: P2P Markets Report: Record Volume in Peru, Argentina, Philippines

Palestinians Turn to Crypto to Facilitate Cross-Border Payments

Ahmed Ismail, a Gaza-based financial analyst, recently told media that a growing number of Palestinians are using cryptocurrency to conduct cross-border payments.

Mr. Ismail attested that there are over 20 unofficial cryptocurrency exchanges in the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, stating that he himself has 30 clients whom he assists with using cryptocurrency to purchase offshore investments such as stocks.

Gaza-based cryptocurrency broker Mohammed also stated that he has helped up to 50 families a month purchase BTC. “Bitcoin, in their opinion, is cheaper, safer, and quicker. Nothing works with Palestinian banks. Bitcoin wallets are alternative banks,” he said.

LXDX to Make Platform Available to Retail Traders

LXDX, a Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange, has announced that it will soon make its platform available to retail traders, in addition to the institutional investors it already serves.

Joshua Greenwald, a former Spacex engineer and chief executive officer of LXDX, stated: “The mission of LXDX is to make capital markets better. Our immediate focus is on cryptocurrency and enabling every investor to utilize the exclusive tools, like smart order routing, that only institutions previously could access.”

XBT Provider to Launch Product Tracking Basket of Cryptocurrencies

Exchanges Round-Up: Palestinians Use Crypto to Transfer Offshore, Lxbx Targets Retail InvestorsStockholm-based XBT Provider has announced that it will launch an exchange-traded product that will track a basket of between five and ten cryptocurrencies.

The chief executive officer of XBT Provider, Laurent Kssis, described the product as “something that the market is looking for,” stating: “They are telling us ‘I’d just like blended exposure to 5 or 10 cryptocurrencies.’”

Do you think there is demand for exchange-traded products that track a basket of cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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A Third of Humanity Remains Financially Excluded

Statistics: A Third of Humanity Remains Financially Excluded

Unrestricted access to financial services is one of the main preconditions for achieving economic freedom. However, large portions of the planet’s population, especially in the developing world, remain excluded from the traditional banking system. The number of the unbanked or underbanked citizens of the industrialized, digitized nations is also unexpectedly high, now when almost everyone, everywhere has a smartphone in their pocket.

Also read: More Banks Sanctioned for AML, Fraud-Related Violations

Women and the Poor Less Likely to Have a Bank Account

Statistics: A Third of Humanity Remains Financially ExcludedCryptocurrencies offer an alternative path, a fast track to financial inclusion. Unfortunately, instead of facilitating it, overly worried states, authorities and regulators often hamper the economic emancipation of those whose interests they are supposed to uphold. Trying to please political powers, many banks around the world have been busy raising barriers to both individuals and businesses dealing with cryptocurrency. That’s not to say they’ve done enough to broaden the availability of their fiat-related financial services and products.

Statistics from a number of sources, multiple reports and analyses show that the share of the financially excluded members of societies remains large, despite some positive trends recently. The spread of mobile phones and improved access to the internet have accelerated financial inclusion – over 500 million adults have opened bank accounts since 2014 – but this process develops unevenly across different regions and countries, according to a report by the World Bank.

The Global Findex Database 2017, a study on how people in 144 economies use financial services which was published in the spring of this year, shows that almost a third of the planet’s population remains unbanked. 69% of adults now have an account at a bank or with a mobile money provider. However, while the global number of account holders has increased significantly from 62% in 2014, the progress in nations, characterized by large disparities between men and women, where the gap remains unchanged year after year, and between rich and poor, has been much slower.

Regions That Suffer the Most From Exclusion

Statistics: A Third of Humanity Remains Financially ExcludedMobile money services have had a positive effect on financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa. The number of people using them has doubled in three years but, nevertheless, remains very low – at 21%, while the share of adults holding accounts with a traditional financial institution stays flat. A fifth of the populations in 8 countries – Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe ­– use only mobile money accounts. Still, 95 million unbanked adults in the region, receive only cash payments for agricultural products, for example. In North Africa and the Middle East, there is another problem – only 35% of women have an account, the largest gender gap among all studied regions. Also, up to 20 million unbanked adults send or receive domestic remittances using only cash or over-the-counter services.

In Europe and Central Asia, account ownership has increased to 65% in 2017, driven largely by digital government payments of wages, pensions, and social benefits – 17% of the holders opened their first account to receive government payments. At the same time, 40% of the people are currently not making or receiving digital payments. In South Asia, 30% of the adults do not have a banking account. India is a notable exception, with 80% of Indians having an account with a financial institution. In East Asia and the Pacific, however, the growth in account ownership has stagnated during the researched period – close to 30% of the people in the region remain unbanked.

Statistics: A Third of Humanity Remains Financially ExcludedLess than half of Indonesians, whose country has actually scored an increase, currently have an account. Digital financial transactions have accelerated in China, where the share of account owners using the internet to pay bills or purchase goods more than doubled – to 57 percent. The People’s Republic has witnessed the rapid growth of mobile payment services like Alipay and Wechat Pay, while authorities have escalated the crackdown on crypto-related activities. Statistical data shows, however, that over 400 million account owners in the region still pay their utility bills in cash, despite the fact that 95% of them have a mobile phone.

More than half of the adults living in Latin America and the Caribbean own a mobile phone and have access to the internet, which is 15% more than the developing world average. Despite that, only about 20% of account holders in countries like Argentina and Brazil use their mobile devices or the World Wide Web to make financial transactions. By digitizing cash wage payments, the World Bank says, businesses could expand account ownership to up to 30 million currently unbanked adults. Almost 90 percent of them own a mobile phone, according to the report.

The Land of Opportunities Isn’t Faring Much Better

Statistics: A Third of Humanity Remains Financially ExcludedWell, you would’ve thought that the situation is way better in developed economies like the US, but it actually isn’t that different. When the level of development of financial services is taken into account, results should be much more encouraging. According to a detailed report from 2016, produced by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 7% of American households are unbanked – yes, that’s households, not individuals. The unbanked black households, however, were over 18% of the total, more than 16% among Hispanic households. Unbanked rates for Asian households actually increased during the examined two-year period, from 2.2 to 4%.

According to another study, a report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development titled “The Most Unbanked Places in America”, almost 18% of US households are ‘underbanked’ – the term describes people with insufficient access to mainstream financial products such as credit cards and loans. Lacking proper access to common services from retail banks, many of these citizens are often heavily reliant on micro-finance services such as those offered by loan sharks and pawnbrokers. According to the authors, cities where over a fifth of the residents do not have bank accounts include Miami (Florida), Detroit (Michigan), and Newark (New Jersey).

Do you think cryptocurrencies can significantly improve financial inclusion? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.  


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Five Major Banks Penalized in State Funds Theft Case in Kenya

Five Major Banks Penalized in State Funds Theft Case in Kenya

Kenya’s central bank has penalized five major commercial banks for handling stolen state funds in the corruption scandal involving the country’s National Youth Service and Ministry of Devolution and Planning. In addition, the banks’ CEOs and employees could face arrest, fines, and jail time.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Handling Stolen State Funds

Five Major Banks Penalized in State Funds Theft Case in KenyaThe Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on Wednesday, Sept. 12, fined five major commercial banks for handling stolen state money. The banks were “used by persons suspected of transacting illegally with the National Youth Service (NYS),” the CBK wrote.

The NYS is an organization under the government of Kenya, established in 1964 to train young people in important national matters. In 2015, it became the focus of a corruption scandal involving the country’s Ministry of Devolution and Planning. The scandal led to the resignations of the then-Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Anne Waiguru, and the NYS director at the time, Nelson Githinji.

Originally, at least 791 million Kenyan shillings (~US$7.65 million) were said to have been stolen from the ministry. However, in May, the Daily Nation reported a new 10.5 billion Kenyan shillings (~$104 million) NYS scandal. “Dozens of senior government officials and business people were charged in May with various crimes related to the theft of nearly $100 million from the NYS marking a new effort to crack down on widespread corruption,” Reuters added.

Five Banks Are Just the Beginning

The five commercial banks fined last week were the ones that handled the largest flows of funds received from the NYS, the central bank described.

Five Major Banks Penalized in State Funds Theft Case in KenyaThey are Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, Equity Bank Kenya, KCB Bank Kenya, Co-operative Bank of Kenya, and Diamond Trust Bank Kenya. They handled a total of 3.58 billion Kenyan shillings (~$35 million) of funds received from the NYS, the CBK detailed, adding that they have been collectively fined 393 million Kenyan shillings (~$3.9 million).

Concerning NYS-related bank accounts and transactions, the banks were found to be in violation of some anti-money laundering and combating of terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regulations, the CBK elaborated.

Five Major Banks Penalized in State Funds Theft Case in KenyaThey failed to report large cash transactions and undertake adequate customer due diligence. In addition to a lack of supporting documentation for large transactions, there were also lapses in the reporting of suspicious transaction reports to the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC).

Kenya’s central bank governor, Patrick Njoroge, was quoted by Citizen TV in May saying, “The issue is not regulations or lack thereof, the guidelines are there; the issue is not enforcement or lack of understanding of the regulations either. It is deliberately not following guidelines.”

CEOs and Employees Face Arrest, Fines, Jail Time

A day after the central bank fined the five banks, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Noordin Haji, told the Daily Nation in an interview:

Chief executives and employees of banks who helped ship out billions of shillings from the National Youth Service (NYS) will be arrested and prosecuted.

The publication explained that “Bank executives and persons who are convicted of handling illicit cash face a Sh1 million [~$10,000] fine and a three-year jail term, while institutions including banks, credit unions facilitating such deals could be fined up to Sh20 million [~$198,294] upon conviction.” Moreover, banks could also lose their licenses.

Penalizing five banks is the result of the first phase of the NYS-related investigation. In May, the authorities started investigating ten commercial banks for processing clients’ transactions from the NYS. For the next phase of the investigation, an additional set of banks will be identified and investigated, the central bank revealed.

Why are regulators going after crypto with so many problems in the banking system? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Bithumb and Coinone Terminating Fiat Withdrawals for Unverified Crypto Traders

Bithumb and Coinone Terminating Fiat Withdrawals for Unverified Crypto Traders

Two major South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have announced that they will no longer allow unverified users to make withdrawals in Korean won. Starting next month, users of Bithumb and Coinone must have verified real-name accounts in order to deposit and withdraw the fiat currency.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Bithumb Goes All Real-Name

Bithumb and Coinone Terminating Fiat Withdrawals for Unverified Crypto TradersBithumb, the largest crypto exchange by trading volume in South Korea, announced on Friday, Sept. 14, that it will terminate fiat withdrawal service for all users without verified real-name accounts.

The service will end on Oct. 1 for corporate members and on Oct. 15 for individual members. Bithumb says the move is to comply with the government’s anti-money laundering policy.

However, the exchange clarified that this announcement only affects fiat withdrawals, emphasizing:

Cryptocurrency transactions and withdrawals can be used normally.

Bithumb and Coinone Terminating Fiat Withdrawals for Unverified Crypto TradersThe South Korean government introduced the real-name system for crypto exchanges at the end of January. Members of an exchange using this system can convert their accounts to real-name ones at the bank that provides the conversion service to the exchange.

So far, banks have only been offering this service to the country’s top four exchanges – Bithumb, Upbit, Coinone, and Korbit. Nonghyup Bank provides this service to Bithumb and Coinone.

Despite efforts by the government, banks, and exchanges, local media recently reported that only about 40-50 percent of accounts at the four exchanges have been converted to date. News.Bitcoin.com reported last week that banks have been pressuring crypto exchanges to take measures to ensure conversion in order to reduce the risk of money laundering.

Coinone Makes Similar Move

Bithumb and Coinone Terminating Fiat Withdrawals for Unverified Crypto TradersSouth Korea’s third-largest crypto exchange, Coinone, also made a similar announcement on Friday.

The exchange explained that “Nonghyup Bank requested Coinone to limit the withdrawal of Korean currency” for members who have not verified their accounts by a certain date “pursuant to the Act on Reporting and Utilization of Specific Financial Transaction Information.” Coinone elaborated that effective Oct. 15:

In order to comply with the government policy related to virtual currency transactions, we will limit the withdrawal of persons who have not completed the real name verification.

Bithumb and Coinone Terminating Fiat Withdrawals for Unverified Crypto TradersAfter Oct. 15, users who do not have real-name accounts will be “unable to deposit and withdraw in Korean currency,” Coinone wrote. The exchange is asking users to make withdrawals before that date if they do not plan to convert to real-name accounts by then.

“When you authenticate real-name verified accounts, you can deposit and withdraw in Korean currency,” Coinone described. Like Bithumb, the exchange reiterated that the notice does not affect crypto trading, deposits, or withdrawals. Both exchanges have also confirmed that corporations, minors, and foreigners are not eligible for real-name conversion.

At the time of this writing, Upbit and Korbit, which do not use Nonghyup Bank, have not announced that they will stop providing Korean won withdrawal service to unverified users.

What do you think of Bithumb and Coinone disallowing fiat withdrawals for users without real-name accounts? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Crypto Market Steadies at $202 Billion. Low Bitcoin Volume Remains a Concern

Over the past 24 hours, the crypto market has consistently demonstrated stability in the $202 billion region, as Bitcoin and Ethereum remained above $6,400 and $220. Yesterday, on September 16, CCN reported that the volume of Bitcoin is a concern, as it recorded nearly 30 percent drop in volume in a period of three days. … Continued

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The Daily: Wirex Expands to Canada, Coin Stats Syncs Exchange Transactions

The Daily: Wirex Expands to Canada, Coin Stats Syncs Exchange Transactions

Wirex, the popular European crypto card provider, has announced it’s expanding to Canada and we have the details covered in The Daily. Also in the rubric, the Coin Stats mobile app now synchronizes transactions from several exchanges, a coin claiming to have AML and KYC features is listed on a major exchange, and the UK government is asked about its assessment of recent crypto market developments.    

Also read: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Crypto Platforms

Wirex Offers Crypto Wallets in Canada, Cards on the Way

The Daily: Wirex Expands to Canada, Coin Stats Syncs Exchange TransactionsUK-based crypto card issuer Wirex is expanding its operations to North America. In August, the company was awarded a Fintrac and Money Service Business registration by regulators in Canada where users can already take advantage of its wallet supporting several cryptocurrencies: bitcoin core (BTC), litecoin (LTC), ripple (XRP), and ethereum (ETH).

According to a blog post published recently, the company intends to next introduce traditional currency accounts and contactless Visa cards. Wirex plastics allow their holders to convert and spend cryptocurrency just like fiat money, both in shops and online. Their users can also benefit from the platform’s reward program offering 0.5% cashback in BTC on all in-store purchases.

The Wirex team notes that although the UK and the US are ahead in the rankings for traditional blockchain adoption, Canada leads the way when it comes to Ethereum technology implementation. They also point out that the country is currently second only to the US in terms of the number of operational bitcoin ATMs – more than 600 across the country.

Coin Stats Now Syncs Transactions From Binance, Bittrex and Kucoin

The Daily: Wirex Expands to Canada, Coin Stats Syncs Exchange TransactionsCryptocurrency portfolio management software Coin Stats has announced the release of new updates for its Android and iOS apps, available in Google Play and Apple Store. The main changes include the option to synchronize past transactions from several exchanges. Support for Binance, Bittrex and Kucoin is currently provided and developers promise to expand the list in the future. Coin Stats also comes as a web-based application.

According to a post on Medium detailing the updates in the app, “You can make it sync your past transactions of all of your portfolios by enabling the toggle in the update popup below. Please note, your Profit/Loss will most probably change but it will become more precise.” Another novelty is that the detail pages of some coins are now styled with the brand colors of the respective project.

AML Bitcoin Listed on Hitbtc

The Daily: Wirex Expands to Canada, Coin Stats Syncs Exchange TransactionsAML Bitcoin (ABTC), a cryptocurrency advertised as the coin with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) technology built into its code, has been listed on Hitbtc, currently the sixth largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume. According to Marcus Andrade, Chief Executive Officer of NAC Foundation and creator of the crypto, “The tectonic shift by the world’s governments in the past year shows the urgent need for a digital currency that can both attract the crypto community and be used in commercial and governmental transactions. We are that coin!”

The US-headquartered NAC Foundation, which is the developer of ABTC, also claims the coin boasts some theft-resistant properties. The team behind the project insists AML Bitcoin is compliant with all major national security and financial protection laws and regulations, including the USA Patriot Act and the Bank Secrecy Act.

British Government Questioned About Recent Crypto Swings

The executive power in London has been facing a lot of questions pertaining to cryptocurrencies, with the latest one coming from Lord Taylor of Warwick, who asked Her Majesty’s Government about their assessment of the reports that “the value of cryptocurrencies in the United States is falling” as well as “the potential effects that such a decline might have on the UK blockchain industry.” It turns out not much has been done in that direction.

The Daily: Wirex Expands to Canada, Coin Stats Syncs Exchange Transactions“The Government has not made a formal assessment of any potential implications of recent changes in the value of cryptocurrencies. However, the Government continues to monitor developments in the cryptocurrency market,” Lord Bates, Minister of State at the Department for International Development, said in a response quoted by Finance Feeds.

The exchange comes while the British public is awaiting a report this fall from the Cryptoassets Taskforce, formed in March by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to evaluate the risks and potential benefits of cryptoassets and other applications of the underlying distributed ledger technology in financial services in the United Kingdom. The body is also charged with determining whether and what kind of regulatory approach is needed to address the developments in the crypto space.

Prices across crypto markets have recently experienced a short term recovery after plunging between 10 and 20 percent for most digital coins last week. Check our latest Markets Update to get more details on the latest developments.

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


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Japanese Regulator Unveils Crypto Regulation Updates

Japanese Regulator Unveils Crypto Regulation Updates

Japan’s financial regulator has recently unveiled the current state of the crypto regulations in the country. Three crypto operators are currently being reviewed. With 160 companies wanting to enter the space, the regulator plans to add more personnel to help review new applicants. In addition, a self-regulatory plan for crypto exchanges has also been submitted to the regulator.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Current State of Crypto Regulations

Japan’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), published several documents from its fifth crypto study group meeting on Wednesday, September 12. The current state of crypto regulations and exchange registrations were discussed.

Japanese Regulator Unveils Crypto Regulation UpdatesThe agency confirmed that out of the 16 companies that have been allowed to operate crypto exchanges while their applications are being reviewed, only three have survived the agency’s recent inspections. Coincheck, Lastroots, and Everybody’s Bitcoin are currently being reviewed. The FSA reiterated that it is “currently reviewing the work improvement report” of Coincheck and, going forward, it will periodically conduct on-site inspections of registered exchanges.

Out of the 16 companies, one was rejected by the agency and 12 others have withdrawn their applications. In addition, approximately 160 companies have expressed their intention to register crypto exchanges, as previously reported by news.Bitcoin.com.

FSA Expanding Crypto Team

The FSA’s vice commissioner for policy coordination, Kiyotaka Sasaki, said at the meeting that “The biggest problem is how to deal with new operators,” Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Japanese Regulator Unveils Current State of Crypto RegulationsHe noted that the agency currently has 30 personnel whose jobs include monitoring crypto exchanges and traders, supervising unregistered operators, and reviewing registration applications.

However, with over 160 companies wanting to enter the market, the FSA is seeking additional workforce to help with reviewing applicants. The agency is requesting 12 more personnel in the financial year 2019 to swiftly respond to crypto exchange operators, the publication conveyed.

Plan for Self-Regulation

Also discussed at the meeting are self-regulatory rules established by the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (Jvcea).

Japanese Regulator Unveils Current State of Crypto Regulations
Yasunori Okuyama.

Currently, the members of the association are the 16 government-approved crypto exchanges: Money Partners, Quoine, Bitflyer, Bitbank, SBI Virtual Currency, GMO Coin, Bittrade, Btcbox, Bitpoint Japan, DMM Bitcoin, Bitarg Exchange Tokyo, Bitgate, Bitocean, Fisco Virtual Currency, Tech Bureau, and Xtheta.

The president of both the association and Money Partners, Yasunori Okuyama, explained to the meeting attendees the long list of self-regulatory rules, Impress Corporation reported. One of the rules relates to the handling of cryptocurrencies at exchanges, which states:

When handling a new virtual currency, after conducting an internal review by the member, it is necessary to notify the association beforehand, and if the association gives an objection, it will not be handled.

Another rule concerns the management of customer assets. The association explained that extra restrictions have been added such as “measures concerning margin trading using virtual currency” in compliance with the fund settlement law and the administrative guidelines.

Japanese Regulator Unveils Current State of Crypto RegulationsThe leverage limit designated by the association is four times but members can choose their own limit under certain circumstances. The margin trading rule aims to “suppress the risk of loss of users and excessive speculative transactions in leverage transactions using virtual currency,” the association explained.

Furthermore, exchanges must have anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) measures as well as rules regarding anti-social forces. Among other rules are ones covering basic transactions, dispute resolution, solicitation and advertising, trading guidelines, ethics and how to handle initial coin offerings (ICOs).

While the association says that “the self-regulatory rules will generally be enforced “at an early stage in order to acquire the accreditation of our association,” it acknowledges that some rules may take longer to comply.

What do you think of the Japanese crypto regulation and self-regulation? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Growing Number of Indian Crypto Exchanges Say Fiat Support Is Back Despite RBI Ban

Growing Number of Indian Crypto Exchanges Say Fiat Support Is Back Despite RBI Ban

A growing number of crypto exchanges in India have announced the return of fiat deposit and withdrawal support despite the crypto banking ban imposed by the country’s central bank. Several other exchanges in the country also allow their users to use Indian rupees to buy and cash out cryptocurrencies through their exchange-escrow peer-to-peer (P2P) services.

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

Exchanges Say INR Support Is Back

Growing Number of Indian Crypto Exchanges Say Fiat Support Is Back Despite RBI BanSince the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) went into effect in July, crypto exchanges in the country have been deprived of banking services. Many of them subsequently shut down their INR support, disallowing users to make deposits and withdrawals in Indian rupees. The Supreme Court of India is scheduled to hear petitions against the ban next week.

However, recently at least three crypto exchanges in the country have announced the return of INR deposit and withdrawal support despite the RBI ban.

On Wednesday, September 12, crypto exchange Koinex announced that it has brought back INR deposits and withdrawals through its P2P system, stating:

We are happy to announce the revival of INR in the crypto universe through a new peer-to-peer deposit and withdrawal mechanism for INR transactions…Just like the old times, users will be able to deposit and withdraw funds directly from their INR wallets.

Growing Number of Indian Crypto Exchanges Say Fiat Support Is Back Despite RBI BanAnother crypto exchange, Coindelta, announced on August 31 that it had resumed INR support. “We have resumed back the INR deposits and withdrawals on Coindelta. Not only this, your old favourite INR markets are back where you can trade with your INR,” the exchange wrote.

In addition, news.Bitcoin.com recently reported on another exchange, Giottus, offering a creative way of allowing users to deposit and withdraw Indian rupees using its P2P platform.

Other Exchanges With Similar Services

The three aforementioned exchanges are utilizing their exchange-escrowed P2P services to facilitate deposits and withdrawals in Indian rupees. Each has its own set of rules including the number of coins supported, the deposit and withdrawal process, and the time it takes to withdraw INR using their systems.

Growing Number of Indian Crypto Exchanges Say Fiat Support Is Back Despite RBI BanThere are several other exchanges with similar P2P services that allow users to both purchase cryptocurrencies and cash out in Indian rupees.

Crypto exchange Wazirx, for example, recently celebrated its six-month anniversary of launching its P2P service. The exchange claims “We’re seeing our trading volumes increasing every day.” Vouching for the popularity of P2P trading, CEO Nischal Shetty told news.Bitcoin.com “We see more than 1 match per minute on our P2P.”

Another exchange, Instashift, has been offering P2P trading of over 80 coins. “Since the last set of RBI related developments in the past couple of months, we have continued to see strong 20-25% growth in trading volumes month on month over the last 2 quarters of our operation,” CEO Rahul Chitale shared with news.Bitcoin.com.

Coindcx also offers P2P trading on its Dcxinsta platform. “We guarantee any 50+ cryptocurrencies purchase directly with INR in less than 60 seconds,” CEO Sumit Gupta claims.

Other fiat-enabling systems outside of the P2P services are also being used in India such as the Dabba trading system which uses the Telegram messaging app to facilitate the trades.

Disclaimer: Bitcoin.com does not endorse or support claims made by any parties in this article. None of the information in this article is intended as investment advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as a recommendation, endorsement, or sponsorship of any products or companies. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

What do you think of the way Indian crypto exchanges offer fiat support despite the RBI ban? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Crypto Platforms

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for Coin

Binance, the leading cryptocurrency exchange, has announced it will start testing a fiat currency trading platform in Singapore and we’ve got the story in Sunday’s edition of The Daily. Also, two islands in Russia are competing to host the country’s first regulated exchange, and the ECB says Europe doesn’t need a central bank issued crypto. However, Ukraine’s national bank is advancing with its plans to issue a digital coin.

Also read: Bitfinex Building Decentralized Exchange, Bitpanda Adds Zcash

Binance to Test Fiat Exchange in Singapore

Binance, currently the largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume, will soon be testing a fiat currency exchange in Singapore. The news was spread on social media by Changpeng Zhao, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chinese-run trading platform. “I just slipped that we will begin #Binance Singapore fiat exchange live money closed beta testing on Sept 18, in 3 days. Invitation only first. Exciting!” CZ said in a tweet this Saturday referring to his announcement during a crypto event in the Asian country. The new exchange will initially open in beta with an undisclosed number of invited users trading in a closed testing environment. The launch is scheduled for September 18. No further details have been revealed yet.

Russians Eye Two Islands for Crypto Exchanges

While authorities in Moscow are still fine-tuning their revamped crypto legislation, to be presented for public discussions in October, participants in a forum in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok have been busy discussing regulatory matters related to cryptocurrency mining and the circulation of digital coins in the vast country. And while the leading cryptocurrency trading platform explores opportunities to trade fiat currencies, the need to legalize cryptocurrency trading was also among the main topics during this year’s edition of the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok.

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for CoinSeveral Russian regions have been mentioned multiple times as possible crypto offshore zones and regulatory sandboxes. Two of them are Kaliningrad, the westernmost Russian oblast, and Vladivostok, administrative center of Primorsky Krai in the Far East. Both have two discrete territories, Oktyabrsky Island and Russky Island respectively, deemed ideal for such pilot projects. Officials and representatives of the local crypto community in Kaliningrad claim they have made serious preparations and their Oktyabrsky Island can be the first to host Russia’s first regulated cryptocurrency exchange.

According to Vladimir Zarudniy, General Director of the Kaliningrad Oblast Development Corporation, the region is ready to propose its own rules and regulations regarding the verification of users and the taxation of funds upon withdrawal from the trading platform. Kaliningrad’s attempts at self-regulation come at a decisive moment for cryptocurrencies in Russia. The draft law “On digital financial asserts” is expected to be adopted by the end of the year, while an industry association has recently proposed an alternative bill that will also be discussed with regulators and stakeholders in the coming weeks.

ECB President Sees No Need for Central Bank Crypto

The European Central Bank (ECB) has no immediate plans to issue its own cryptocurrency and doesn’t see a need to do that. Nevertheless, according to its president Mario Draghi, the bank is “carefully analyzing the potential consequences of issuing such a currency as a complement to cash.” In a letter to the European Parliament this week, Draghi said that in its analysis ECB is considering the implications in regards to the transmission of monetary policy, the payment systems, the financial stability and, more broadly, the economy.

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for CoinECB’s president further elaborated that from an economic perspective, introducing a central bank digital currency could potentially yield both costs and benefits which would depend on its specific features. In his words, a central bank coin could meet demands for the security and digitalization of the economy and allow monetary policy to reach a wider range of economic actors more directly. On the other hand, as Draghi pointed out, a crypto issued by a central bank, which would provide an alternative to some deposits, could affect the intermediation and leverage in the banking system, a traditional role of the commercial banks.

Mario Draghi mentioned several reasons why ECB is currently not considering issuing a digital coin, including the nascence of the distributed ledger technology and the possibility of central banks entering into competition with the banking sector for retail deposits. A similar opinion was expressed earlier this year by a high-ranking official from the Swiss National Bank. Both indicate that the interest in state- or central bank-issued cryptocurrencies among financial regulators and government institutions is decreasing.

Different Mood – Ukraine Preparing for National Coin

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for CoinThe above observation, however, is not necessarily valid for all countries and central banks. For example, the executive power in Kiev, which is still working on a regulatory framework for the crypto space, has recently confirmed its intentions to proceed with plans to develop a national crypto. The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) is preparing to launch a “national electronic currency,” Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said at the annual meeting of the Yalta European Strategy, local media reported. Poroshenko added that several government registries will soon start using distributed ledgers to keep their records. Pilot projects to transfer the state land cadastre and the legal registry to blockchain are already in motion, the Ukrainian head of state noted during his speech at the forum.

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


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$150B Money Laundering Probe of Danske Bank Implicates Citigroup and Deutsche Bank

$150B Money Laundering Probe of Danske Bank Implicates Citigroup and Deutsche Bank

U.S. law enforcement agencies have started their money laundering investigations of Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank have been implicated. Danske Bank is also currently under investigation by Denmark and Estonia and its CEO reportedly ignored warnings of suspicious transactions.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

$150 Billion Money Laundering Case

$150B Money Laundering Probe of Danske Bank Implicates Citigroup and Deutsche BankThe Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, September 14, that “The [U.S.] Justice Department, Treasury Department, and Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] are each examining Danske Bank after a confidential whistleblower complaint was filed to the SEC more than two years ago,” citing a person familiar with the matter. According to the person and the documents the news outlet has reviewed:

U.S. law enforcement agencies are probing Denmark’s largest bank over allegations of massive money laundering flows from Russia and former Soviet states…U.S. involvement in the case greatly raises the stakes for Danske Bank.

$150B Money Laundering Probe of Danske Bank Implicates Citigroup and Deutsche BankAn estimated $150 billion are suspected to have flowed through non-Estonian customer accounts held at Danske Bank’s Estonian branch from 2007 to 2015 – from countries such as Russia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. The publication added that the bank’s investigators have not revealed if the entire amount should be viewed as suspicious. The bank has been conducting an internal investigation and will release the results on September 19, a notice on its website states.

Danish and Estonian authorities have been investigating the bank and have shared information with their U.S. counterparts, several European officials familiar with the matter told the news outlet.

Why Is the US Interested?

The U.S. has yet to officially confirmed that it is investigating Danske Bank. Two weeks ago, Marshall Billingslea, U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, told Danish daily Berlingske “We are following this case very closely.” Reuters elaborated:

While the bank does not have a banking license in the United States, it has a bond program in dollars and its Estonian branch saw U.S. dollar customer flows, which could heighten interest among U.S. regulators.

The Wall Street Journal explained that the U.S. Treasury can restrict the supply of U.S. dollars to foreign banks and the Treasury and Justice Department can fine banks.

Adam Barrass, an analyst at Berenberg, noted back in July that the key risk to Danske Bank was “the potential U.S. fine because [of] Danske’s use of dollar funding and transactions,” the Financial Times reported.

CEO Ignores Money Laundering Signs

According to the Financial Times, Danske Bank’s CEO, Thomas Borgen, ignored calls to scale back business at the Estonian branch when warned of money laundering activities. The minutes seen by the news outlet reveals that the CEO was informed at a meeting in October 2013 that:

The level of activity in its [Danske Bank’s] Estonian branch from outside the country — mostly from ex-Soviet states and Russia — was higher than that of rivals and ‘needed to be reviewed and potentially reduced’.

$150B Money Laundering Probe of Danske Bank Implicates Citigroup and Deutsche Bank
Danske Bank’s CEO, Thomas Borgen.

Instead, Borgen responded by emphasizing “the need for a middle ground, and wanted to discuss this further outside of this forum,” the publication noted.

The Wall Street Journal additionally detailed, “Estonian officials are investigating 26 former Danske employees, from low-level staff to the former branch CEO. They are accused of helping to launder $230 million in money from an alleged fraud committed in Russia.”

Deutsche Bank and Citigroup Implicated

Citing the person familiar with the probes, the Wall Street Journal also reported:

The whistleblower complaint identified Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc., both overseen by U.S. regulators, as involved with transactions into and out of Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.

Deutsche Bank acted as a correspondent bank for Danske, handling dollar wire transfers while Citigroup’s Moscow office was involved in some of the transfers through Danske Bank’s Estonian branch, the person told the publication.

With the ongoing probes, the bank’s share price has been on a sharp decline this year.

$150B Money Laundering Probe of Danske Bank Implicates Citigroup and Deutsche Bank

Why are regulators going after crypto with so much money laundering going on in the banking system? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Yahoo Finance, and Danske Bank.


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Alternative Crypto Bills Presented in Ukraine and Russia

Alternative Crypto Bills Presented in Ukraine and Russia

Draft laws employing alternative approaches to regulating digital currencies have been introduced in Ukraine and Russia. In Kiev, a bill that classifies cryptocurrency as an asset, unit of exchange and store of value has been filed in the Rada and it’s supported by both deputies and representatives of the industry. In Moscow, the managers of leading Russian enterprises have prepared their own version of the law on digital financial assets which contains the legal term “cryptocurrency” and differentiates it from tokens.

Also read: Cash to Crypto Trade Blooming in Moscow, Reports Say

New Crypto Bill Filed in the Ukrainian Rada

Alternative Crypto Bills Presented in Ukraine and RussiaA bill that leaves crypto-to-crypto trade outside of the scope of government regulation has been filed in the Ukrainian parliament. The draft has been signed by 23 members of the Verkhovna Rada and is prepared in cooperation with representatives of the industry. News about the filling was announced during a crypto conference in Kiev by Ukrainian Member of Parliament Alexei Mushak.

The legal document defines the term “virtual assets” and differentiates between cryptocurrencies and tokens, Forklog reported. Cryptocurrency is described as a virtual asset that can function as a means of exchange and can store value. Tokenized assets, on the other hand, certify property or other rights of their holders that correspond to the obligations of an issuer.

The sponsors want to introduce a preferential tax regime in the space, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. According to their proposal, crypto incomes and profits of both private individuals and corporate entities will be subject to only 5% tax until 2024. Earlier this month, the country’s deputy-finance minister advised Ukrainians to pay 19.5% income tax on their crypto revenues.

Alternative Crypto Bills Presented in Ukraine and Russia

Three drafts have been introduced in the Rada since last October, including one amending the country’s tax code to incorporate crypto taxation. However, no significant progress towards their adoption has been reported so far, despite their passing through several relevant parliamentary committees.

An important aspect of the new law is the intention to relieve the state from any responsibilities related to the oversight of crypto-to-crypto trading. The authors of the bill believe the government should be responsible only for regulating those transactions that involve the exchange of cryptocurrency to fiat money.

Alternative Law on Digital Assets Proposed in Russia

A new draft law on digital financial assets, alternative to the one already developed by authorities, has been proposed by an organization that unites some of the leading enterprises in Russia. The bill authored by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) grants cryptocurrencies a “special status”, the head of the interdepartmental group assessing cryptocurrencies, Elina Sidorenko, told Forklog.

Alternative Crypto Bills Presented in Ukraine and Russia

The document divides digital assets into three groups: digital tokens, security tokens and cryptocurrencies. According to Sidorenko, cryptocurrencies will be regulated by the new law and the rules adopted by the Central Bank of Russia, which will also issue licenses to providers of exchange services.

The issuers of tokens – companies attracting capital through initial coin offerings (ICOs) – will not be required to apply for licenses from Centrobank. The tokens will serve as evidence of a civil law contract concluded between the ICO projects and the investors. The issuers of security tokens will have to abide by the rules applicable to traditional securities.

Alternative Crypto Bills Presented in Ukraine and Russia

The draft is still under consideration and will be discussed with the regulatory agencies in October. Some of Russia’s top managers, including the president of the mining and metallurgical company Nornickel, Vladimir Potanin, the head of Rostelecom, Mikhail Oseevsky, and the president of the Skolkovo Fund, Viktor Vekselberg, are participating in the working group developing the bill.

Three bills designed to regulate the crypto space were filed in the Duma in May. Their texts have been synchronized by deputies in the lower house of the Russian parliament and the revamped legislation will be presented for public discussions next month.

Do you think the alternative proposals will be taken into account by authorities in Kiev and Moscow? Share your expectations in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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RBI Ban Hearing Delayed – Indian Supreme Court Too Busy for Crypto This Week

RBI Ban Hearing Delayed - Indian Supreme Court Too Busy for Crypto This Week

All petitions against the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are supposed to have been heard by the country’s supreme court on September 11. However, the court has been busy every day this week and has postponed the RBI ban hearing.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

RBI Ban Hearing Postponed

RBI Ban Hearing Delayed - Indian Supreme Court Too Busy for Crypto This WeekThe Supreme Court of India was supposed to hear all petitions regarding the crypto banking ban by the country’s central bank on Tuesday, September 11. The RBI issued a circular banning all regulated financial institutions from providing services to crypto businesses on April 6.

As all eyes in the Indian crypto community were on the court to see if the RBI ban will be stayed, the supreme court adjourned on Tuesday without hearing the crypto case due to other cases running over time. The case was again postponed for the same reason on Wednesday and Thursday.

Furthermore, Nischal Shetty, the CEO of crypto exchange Wazirx, told news.Bitcoin.com that “It wasn’t scheduled for today [Friday] after yesterday’s delay.” Crypto Kanoon, a news and analysis platform, tweeted on Thursday:

As the arguments will continue for long in another matter, the court has adjourned all other matters including crypto matter. Matter is now likely to be listed on Tuesday [September 18].

Indian Association Tries to Get Attention of the Court

RBI Ban Hearing Delayed - Indian Supreme Court Too Busy for Crypto This WeekAmong the petitions against the RBI ban was one submitted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The non-profit organization filed its petition in May, which was heard on July 3 and July 20, before it was postponed to September 11.

At both hearings, the court did not grant a stay on the central bank’s ban. The association also tried to educate the RBI by filing a representation explaining how blockchain and cryptocurrency work. However, their effort did not sway the central bank.

RBI Ban Hearing Delayed - Indian Supreme Court Too Busy for Crypto This WeekOn September 12, Crypto Kanoon tweeted, “As per our internal sources, IAMAI is going to mention the crypto matter at 10:30 before Court No. 9 for seeking adjournment for the purpose of filing rejoinder to the counter affidavit recently filed by one of the respondents.” The platform soon tweeted further, “The court has declined to entertain the mentioning done by IAMAI for adjournment.”

Confusion Over the RBI Affidavit

On Tuesday, September 11, CNN News18 reported that the central bank had filed an affidavit with the supreme court. The news outlet wrote:

RBI files affidavit in top court against cryptocurrency and says that it can’t recognize bitcoins under the current legal regime as virtual currencies are neither money nor currency, can’t even be considered as a valid payment system.

RBI Ban Hearing Delayed - Indian Supreme Court Too Busy for Crypto This WeekCiting this report, Indiabits, which represents a community of blockchain enthusiasts, tweeted, “supreme court to hear affidavit filed by RBI on the matter on September 17th.” It also pointed out that, based on publicly available information on the supreme court website, RBI filed a counter affidavit on September 8, with a “computer generated date” for the hearing listed as September 17.

However, disputing the above information, Crypto Kanoon claims that this RBI affidavit was the same one filed in May, which they reported on at the time, adding that the “supreme court nvr [never] posted crypto matter on 17th Sep.”

Nonetheless, the crypto community will be watching the supreme court next week to see if the crypto case will eventually be heard. Shetty shared with news.Bitcoin.com:

The case has been postponed to monday…So let’s see what happens Monday.

What do you think of the supreme court repeatedly delaying the crypto case hearing? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, IAMAI, and the RBI.


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Bittrex to Launch Crypto Exchange in Malta Next Month

Bittrex to Launch Crypto Exchange in Malta Next Month

US-based cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex is reportedly launching a crypto exchange in Malta at the beginning of next month. Bittrex says the new platform will allow them to list coins “a lot faster.” It will operate within the regulatory framework established by the European Union and the Maltese government.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Bittrex Eyes Malta Launch in October

Bittrex to Launch Crypto Exchange in Malta Next MonthBittrex has confirmed that “it will open a branch in Malta on Oct. 1, as part of its global expansion plans,” the Investor reported on Friday, September 14. Bittrex’s co-founder and CEO, Bill Shihara, said at the Upbit Developer Conference on the South Korean Jeju Island:

We are now planning to launch Bittrex Malta…This will allow us to list tokens a lot faster.

Bittrex to Launch Crypto Exchange in Malta Next Month
Bill Shihara at the Upbit Developer Conference 2018.

The conference is organized by Dunamu Inc., the operator of one of South Korea’s largest crypto exchanges, the Kakao-backed Upbit. Bittrex has a partnership agreement with Upbit that “allows the two exchanges to share the same order book and coin listings, among others,” the news outlet conveyed.

Shihara explained that “the coin listing process will be much easier and faster in Malta,” the publication noted, adding that the exchange “will also not charge fees for listing.”

Bittrex to Launch Crypto Exchange in Malta Next MonthBittrex has already established a subsidiary in Malta as well as an affiliated company, Bittrex International, to manage all of its overseas operations.

Citing that “Bittrex Malta is designed to operate within the regulatory framework established by the European Union and Maltese government,” the exchange wrote:

Every digital asset listed on Bittrex Malta will be available for our international network of partner exchanges to launch (consistent with their local laws).

Bittrex’s Overseas Expansion

The CEO explained that “Working with the government in the US to stay compliant is hard. So it would be very difficult for us to open offices around the world in different countries,” elaborating:

We actually like this partnership model… If we can find great partners like Dunamu, then they can handle a lot of work with local regulations and banks. All we need to do is just help them make their exchanges better.

Bittrex to Launch Crypto Exchange in Malta Next MonthThe news outlet noted that Shihara expressed “great satisfaction with the tie-up,” adding that “he seeks to renew the partnership every year, without plans to open a separate Bittrex branch in Korea.”

Bittrex started offering US dollar trading in May but currently has no plans to add other fiat currencies, the publication described. “But we do plan to continue listing more digital currencies that trade against the US dollar.” According to Coinmarketcap, Bittrex now lists 287 coins while Upbit has 273 coins listed.

What do you think of Bittrex opening an exchange in Malta? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, the Investor, Upbit, and Bittrex.


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