Monday, July 15, 2019

Crypto Terminals Offer Venezuelans a Bridge to Economic Prosperity

 


Arley Lozano, founder of the cryptocurrency based startup Panda Group, recently explained how his firm is spreading cryptocurrency adoption throughout Colombia and Venezuela. Panda Group has deployed 10 hybrid cryptocurrency point-of-sale (PoS) terminals that also act as automated teller machines (ATM). Four of the machines are situated near the border of Venezuela, giving refugees from the country and Colombian citizens access to cryptocurrencies like BCH, DAI, and BTC.

Spreading Crypto Adoption Throughout Colombia and Into Venezuela
In January, news.Bitcoin.com reported on Panda Group installing a hybrid PoS terminal that also works as a digital currency dispensing automated teller machine (ATM). At the time the machine was dubbed the "Exeler," but since then the product has been rebranded as Pandabtm. Panda Group's founder Arley Lozano said his team so far has installed 10 Pandabtms around Colombia and four machines are on the border of Venezuela in Cucuta city. The machines can be located on Coinatmradar.com and devices installed near the border are meant to help Venezuelan refugees who cross the Simon Bolivar International Bridge every day

Panda Group emphasized that the machines process VES (Venezuela soberanía bolívar ) and COP (Colombian pesos). The devices allow anyone to process payments through the Xpay.cash payment system, which provides users with the ability to avoid fiat currency volatility. The machines process sales using a digital asset like bitcoin cash (BCH) or visitors can also purchase coins from the Pandabtm. Lozano told news.Bitcoin.com that the company has 15,000 users and three new partnerships. Panda Group is collaborating with Cobru, Gracon, and Pagos Inteligentes. Panda Group's founder explained that the new alliances are meant to bolster true cryptocurrency adoption throughout Latin America.

Opening Operations in Our Own House
In addition to the Pandabtm installations, Lozano said that Panda Group's trading platform Panda.exchange is allowing all Colombians to deposit and withdraw COP. On July 15, accounts will be able to trade 113 different cryptocurrencies and tokens against the local tender. The founder said that this is the first time the door has opened in his country as the team, based in Colombia, have previously worked throughout Panama, Europe, and Portugal.

The founder of the cryptocurrency based startup Panda Group, Arley Lozano, showing off a Pandabtm.
"Panda Group is a Colombian and Venezuelan company that started its operations almost three years ago with the hope of opening our operations in Colombia and generating true Latin American adoption. However, thanks to the slowness and fears we ended up operating outside of Colombia, in regions like Panama and Portugal," Lozano explained, adding:

Now we come to open operations in our own house and we hope that the Colombian government and the local banks see us as allies. Panda Group wants to encourage the true education of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and heal the wounds caused by Ponzis and pyramid schemes that plagued Colombia.

Pushing the Orange Economy to the Blockchain
Lozano insisted that Panda Group wants the country's citizens to know what true blockchain innovation and cryptocurrency solutions are. He noted that the Panda team is filled with passionate and talented individuals willing to work hard for that goal. The Panda Group founder detailed that Latin America was an "orange economy" filled with cultural and creative entrepreneurs. Between the Panda Group team, the Panda.exchange, Ccoins.io, Pandabtm, and Xpay, his crew is ready to take the "orange economy to the blockchain level." Lozano commented further:
We will help all the individuals who want to learn what cryptocurrency technology is or assist them in buying their first digital currency using one of our many services where you can buy BCH, BTC, and more.

Pandabtm locations situated near the Venezuelan border according to Coinatmradar.com.
The demand for digital assets in Colombia exceeds many other Latin American countries and the region is second to Brazil in terms of adoption. In fact, Rodolfo Andragnes, executive director of NGO Bitcoin Argentina, explained that there is clamor surrounding bitcoin and its "popularity has been impressive considering that it's been only ten years and hundreds of new cryptocurrencies have been created." "Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia are the countries with the highest activity and growth in the use of cryptocurrencies throughout Latin America," Andragnes said in June. "Colombia has great potential and more and more people see the benefits of Bitcoin," the NGO Bitcoin Argentina executive explained . Situated in Bogata, Lozano agrees that Colombia is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to digital asset usage and overall activity in Latin America.

One of the Pandabtm machines located in Cucuta near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge is aimed at helping Venezuelan refugees escape the hardships of their stricken economy. The 300-meter-long bridge spans the Táchira River which covers the Colombian and Venezuelan border. Cucuta is an access point for many Venezuelans seeking safety from the country's economic crisis. The Simon Bolivar International Bridge sees a lot of foot traffic as Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro closed the bridge to vehicular traffic.

"Thousands of Venezuelans cross the bridge," Lozano told us. "No cars are allowed to cross the bridge and only people can cross taking basic stuff like medicine, food, and supplies. They pass through to buy food and some of them are crossing to reach Peru or Ecuador. They pass and sometimes stay a few days — Some pass to work and return home in the night."

The Pandabtm positioned across the Táchira River is in Villa del Rosario City which sees vast numbers of Venezuelan travelers daily. Lozano is pleased with the strides Panda Group has been making and concluded that the company's goals include increasing cryptocurrency ease of use and spreading economic prosperity. The Panda Group founder added:

Our products are designed so that even our grandparents can use them and we are always thinking of our Venezuelan brothers and sisters.

Monday, July 8, 2019

India to Educate High-Ranking Police Officers on Cryptocurrency

 


India's national police academy has launched a cryptocurrency course for high-ranking officers of the Indian Police Service. Among the objectives of the course are the functioning and legal aspects of cryptocurrencies, as well as investigations of cases involving digital coins. The Indian police continue to regularly uncover crypto-related schemes as the government deliberates on the regulatory framework for cryptocurrency.

Crypto Course for Indian Police Officers
As the Indian government prepares the regulatory framework for cryptocurrency, the country's police force is working on educating law enforcement officers on cryptocurrency. India's premier police training academy, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVP NPA), has announced a course on the subject to train officers of the Indian Police Service (IPS).

The course entitled "Investigation of cases involving cryptocurrencies" is scheduled to be held on Sept. 5 and 6 at the institute which is located in Hyderabad. Enrollees will be nominated IPS officers of the rank of Additional Superintendent of Police to Inspector General of Police, the institute explained. The academy has begun accepting nominations for the course; self-nominations are not accepted.

According to the institute's announcement, the course has four objectives. In addition to the "Introduction of [the] functioning of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology," officers will learn the "legal aspects of cryptocurrencies, crimes committed using cryptocurrencies, [and] investigation of cases involving cryptocurrencies."

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy trains IPS officers "who have been selected through an All India based Civil Services Examination," the institute's website describes. The IPS cadre is controlled by the Home Ministry of the Government of India and officers of this service can only be appointed and removed by an order of the President of India, the institute emphasized. "The trained officers will be posted as Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in their respective states under whom the other sub-ranks of [the] police force will be working."

In February, India's Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a national cyber forensics lab, which included a crypto forensics lab, and the Delhi Police's cybercrime unit called the Cyber Protection Awareness and Detection Center (Cypad). It is "the first cybercrime awareness and detection center opened in the country," Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik said. "We are now equipped with technology to recover data from damaged hard disks, cryptocurrency analysis, malware forensic and data can be retrieved from 33,000 kinds of mobile models available in the market."

Recent Crypto-Related Schemes Busted by Police
The Indian police have regularly uncovered scams involving digital coins. Over the past two weeks, at least three crypto-related schemes were busted. The Times of India reported on July 5 that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has registered another crypto scam from Surat, a large city beside the Tapi River in the west Indian state of Gujarat.

"The CID officials said that the accused had launched 'KBC coin' six months ago and had lured investors with the promise of converting their 10 paise [~$0.0015] into Rs 10 [~$0.15] in no time," the publication detailed. "The value of KBC coins never increased and within six months, the promoters went underground," said CID Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia. This is the sixth crypto-related fraud registered in Surat in two years, the news outlet noted, adding that the police arrested four people in this latest case.

Another crypto-related case was reported on July 3. "Delhi Police arrested a private bank manager in Gurugram for his alleged involvement in several financial frauds using shell companies and other cryptocurrency scams," Mumbai Press wrote. The financial fraud surfaced when a resident of Delhi's Ghonda filed a complaint against a gang that cheated him out of more than Rs 14 lakh (~$20,453) to invest in "Kashhcoin," Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) AK Singla explained.

The accused Sandeep Singh Dua currently works as a manager at Standard Chartered Bank in Gurugram, the publication noted. He confessed to being an active member of the scheme. Six of his accomplices were also arrested, Singla revealed.

Further, The Times of India reported on June 26 that the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) "unearthed a major bitcoin scam" after four members of an interstate gang that conned several people offering hefty returns were arrested. Multiple complaints were filed alleging that over Rs 15 crore (~$2.2 million) belonging to local investors were swindled on the pretext of extraordinary returns from investing in the scheme. "The investors were assured of soaring profits at an exponential rate. Their unsuspecting victims invested in monivo.com but did not get their returns. The gang then told investors to put their money into another website identified as bet2bet," ATS Director General Bhupendra Singh said.

Legal Aspects of Cryptocurrency
The Indian government is in the process of deliberating on a proposed regulatory framework for cryptocurrency drafted by an interministerial committee headed by Finance Secretary and Secretary of Economic Affairs Subhash Chandra Garg. He said in last month that his committee's report was ready to be submitted to the finance minister for approval.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (center) and Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg (right).
However, the government has yet to announce the details of the recommended crypto regulation, leaving room for speculation and rumors including reports of the draft bill entitled "Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency." We recently provided a preliminary analysis of the leaked content of this bill. Last week, India participated in the G20 meetings and joined other G20 countries to declare its commitment to applying the crypto standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Meanwhile, the country's supreme court is scheduled to hear the crypto case on July 23. The court is expected to address the banking ban by the central bank after repeatedly postponing the case. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a circular in April last year banning regulated financial entities from providing services to crypto businesses. The court may also ask the government for the report with the recommended crypto regulation it previously gave the government four weeks to submit this report.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Satoshi Comparisons Surface After Grin Founder Exits in Similar Way

 


Pseudonymous Grin founder Ignotus Peverell has stepped away from the project, reassuring the privacy coin's community that it is in "safe hands." The move has sparked inevitable Satoshi Nakamoto comparisons. Bitcoin's pseudonymous creator used almost identical language eight years ago, writing in an email that "I've moved on to other things," before adding "It's in good hands with Gavin and everyone."

Ignotus Peverell Pulls a Satoshi Nakamoto
Digital currency obsessives love a good mystery, and in Satoshi Nakamoto and to a lesser extent Ignotus Peverell, they've got a couple of crackers. The former needs no introduction, while the latter is the founder of Mimblewimble cryptocurrency Grin. The privacy technology underpinning the coin was posted to a bitcoin IRC chat in 2016 by someone called Tom Elvis Jedusor (Voldemort's real name in the French version of Harry Potter), who then disappeared. It's possible that Jedusor is also Ignotus Peverell (aka Igno), who posted an introduction to Mimblewimble and its Grin implementation on Github in March 2017.

Igno may or may not have created Mimblewimble, but it was he who got the ball rolling by turning Jedusor's concept into a reality. The fact that the two share Harry Potter names is of course no coincidence. Ignotus Peverell was a pure-blood wizard from the 13th century, the youngest of three brothers and recipient of the invisibility cloak that eventually found its way to Harry Potter. It's an apt moniker for a privacy coin developer who's made a point of concealing his identity.

On June 22, Grin member Yeastplume posted on the project's forum: "As some have already noticed, Igno has not been very active over the past few weeks. He recently communicated to us in the council that he needs to be away from the project for a while for personal reasons. We do not have further details on his situation or a timeline for his return, but we anticipate he will be absent for at least a few months, possibly more. As Grin is open source and not reliant on any single person or group in order to progress, our work continues uninterrupted in his absence." He added:

In his message to the council members, Igno stated that Grin was "in the best hands possible" … We individuals in the current council are as committed as ever to doing our part, putting in our best work, and moving Grin forward in the spirit in which Igno started this project. We look forward to Igno's return, and, as always, invite you to join us and help us in making Grin the best it can be.

The departure of Grin's founder has given observers plenty to ponder. While little is known about Igno, his persona has some striking similarities with Satoshi. The first and last names of both characters are of the same length. Moreover, when 'Ignotus' is flipped and a few liberties are taken

In Harry Potter, Ignotus Peverell was described as the wisest and humblest of the three brothers, qualities that could easily be applied to Satoshi, who lasted just 13 months on the Bitcointalk forum he founded before stepping away. Igno, in comparison, lasted 16 months on the Grin forum before bowing out.

Like Satoshi, Ignotus could write lucidly and code proficiently, but had little interest in self-promotion. In his only interview, Grin's founder dismissed certain aspects of Bitcoin's design, asserting "There is no evidence that bitcoin's supply curve is optimal. But there is a growing body of solid research showing that several aspects of it are problematic." He did profess to "believe in the bitcoin ideals" however and stated that he saw Grin as being "much closer to Monero or bitcoin" than to fellow Mimblewimble coin Beam.

Intriguing as the parallels between Satoshi and Ignotus are, the likeliest explanation is that Grin's founder drew his cues from Bitcoin's creator. Any similarities between the two are likely either a deliberate ploy on Igno's part or mere coincidence. What's not a coincidence is that the creators of three of the most innovative and fairly distributed cryptocurrencies to date – bitcoin, monero, and grin – are anonymous. Those who place the greater good over personal glory, it seems, leave a lasting legacy.

V20 Summit Concludes With Promises for Crypto Industry

 


As the G20 leaders' summit came to a close, the nearby V20 summit concluded with a set of promises for the crypto industry in response to the global crypto standards set by the Financial Action Task Force. A group of national crypto associations aims to engage with government agencies and global policymakers to ensure the industry's best interests are understood and valued at an international level.

V20's Commitment
The two-day Virtual Asset Service Providers Summit or V20 in Osaka, Japan, wrapped up Saturday. Policymakers and representatives of major companies in the crypto industry gathered "to develop a clear roadmap toward full compliance with a new set of recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for the global regulation of crypto asset transactions," the V20 declared. At the same time and in the same city, the G20 leaders' summit also wrapped up Saturday.

At the conclusion of the summit, the V20 announced that a group of national trade associations representing virtual asset service providers (VASPs) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) "to establish an association to provide a global unified voice for the virtual asset industry." Ronald M. Tucker, convenor of the V20 and founder of the Australian Digital Commerce Association (ADCA), commented:

We've brought everyone on the journey to create a new body that will assist in establishing a means to engage with government agencies and the FATF to ensure our best interests are understood and valued at an international level.

Tucker explained that the agreement signals a commitment to develop a "cooperative regime to underpin dialogue with government and regulators to promote VASP." In addition to supporting "industry-wide information exchange and best practice" and an increased "awareness of the industry and its economic value," it promotes and facilitates "compliance with global industry standards."

The signatories include the ADCA, Singapore Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association (ACCESS), Japan Blockchain Association (JBA), Korean Blockchain Association (KBCA), Hong Kong Blockchain Association (HKBA) and Taiwan Parliamentary Coalition for Blockchain & Industry Self-Regulatory Organization. A former FATF president, Roger Wilkins AO, witnessed the signing ceremony.

Representatives from a number of major cryptocurrency exchanges, media outlets, law firms, and other crypto service providers participated in the event. They include Bitfinex, Circle, Coinbase, Huobi, Kraken, Okcoin, Coins.ph, B2c2, Bitcoin.com, Bitcoin Australia, Crypto Garage, Deloitte, Diginex, Norton Rose Fulbright, Sentinel Protocol, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, and Pwc. Several regulated crypto exchange operators in Japan also participated such as Bitflyer, Bitpoint, Coincheck, Huobi, Rakuten Wallet, and SBI Group.

Implementing Controversial FATF Guidelines
The FATF released its new guidance for the risk-based approach for crypto assets and related service providers on June 21. However, some industry participants, particularly service providers such as crypto exchanges, have raised concerns regarding the implementation of some recommendations.

"What we are hearing from industry is that the new rules may have the opposite effect to which they were intended, effectively forcing crypto transactions off the controlled platforms," said the former FATF president. Industry participants believe that applying these requirements "could result in potential unintended consequences, including encouraging P2P transfers via non-custodial wallets, which are significantly harder for law enforcement to track or control," the V20 explained.

Daniel Kelman, Bitcoin.com's resident legal advisor, spoke at the V20. He shared with news.Bitcoin.com that, in essence, the FATF wants VASPs to be regulated and "only licensed and regulated exchanges could participate in a SWIFT-like network for payments between VASPs." He remarked, "Of course this makes no sense, since this is not how crypto works. No one uses an exchange to send money, they'll withdraw to their own wallet and send it anywhere," stressing the need to address this issue first and foremost. Kelman added:

One quote from a regulator stands out: 'combating money laundering will always trump innovation and financial inclusion.' I couldn't disagree more.

"Most importantly, it was clear FATF did not know much about our industry and were just forcing bank rules cookie-cutter style onto crypto. Case in point was my discussion about using the public ledger to assess risk as opposed to the 'Travel Rule,' which is basically impossible for crypto exchanges to implement. I raised the prospect of blockchain analysis to achieve the same result and they were dumbfounded, had never even considered this," he recalled. "The conference was not really about debating these rules. They were essentially forced on us and they wanted to use this event to try to claim 'consensus' that they were fair and valid."

The FATF Standards Summarized
Following the publication of the FATF guidance, blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis gave its feedback on the recommendations. The firm previously made it clear that there are challenges to implementing the FATF standards, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. The full FATF report can be found in this article.

One of the most controversial proposals is Recommendation 16 which mirrors the Travel Rule in the U.S., the firm explained, adding that it requires VASPs to send originator and beneficiary information to other VASPs or financial institutions involved for transactions over 1,000 EUR/USD. The firm emphasized:

There is a substantial technical obstacle to implement the 'secure' and 'immediate' transfer of information to other obliged entities.

The FATF requires countries to regulate and monitor crypto activities and register or license crypto service providers. Financial Intelligence Units need to modernize systems and have a regime to freeze and seize accounts when necessary. In addition, financial institutions, including retail and corporate banks, must not de-risk VASPs or customers with crypto activities, but should instead apply the FATF's risk-based approach and find ways to mitigate risks associated with these activities.

The guidance requires VASPs to have enhanced "due diligence" procedures in place, and include that information in their reporting. Regulators must be able to receive and investigate Suspicious Activity Reports generated from financial institutions and crypto service providers from their compliance efforts.

Moreover, AML compliance needs to be consistent with local privacy laws. "FATF calls upon countries to coordinate and ensure that recommendations are compatible with national data protection and privacy rules," Chainalysis remarked. Anonymity-enhancing cryptocurrencies were highlighted for higher AML risk, the firm described, elaborating:

Guidance leaves room for truly decentralized exchanges and applications with no natural person connected to them to be excluded.

The importance of international information sharing to mitigate the risk of money laundering is also highlighted in the guidance.

FATF Recommendations Are Not Laws

FATF Secretariat Tom Neylan provided the V20 with an update on the new guidance for VASPs. Emphasizing the importance of regulation, he said that at the current stage they are still looking for an appropriate regulatory framework relating to cryptocurrency which would include not only centralized exchanges but also decentralized exchanges and P2P transactions, Coinpost reported. The publication quoted him as saying, "The regulation on the virtual currency industry is not a 'monster' that causes panic," noting that "If implemented, the virtual currency market will become more open."

However, lawyer Jake Chervinsky pointed out soon after the FATF released its guidance that the money-laundering watchdog simply "makes recommendations, not laws," emphasizing that the organization "doesn't have any regulatory authority of its own." He detailed:

Member countries can adopt all, some, or none of FATF's recommendations. There are basically no repercussions for not adopting (or for violating) FATF recommendations.

Self-Regulation
Speaking at the V20 conference, Takato Fukui, Director General of the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), shared with attendees the best practices for establishing a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for the crypto industry. His association received approval from Japan's top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), to operate as an SRO in October last year.

The FATF was clear in its new guidance that "only competent authorities can act as VASP supervisory or monitoring bodies, and not self-regulatory bodies." The FSA explained to news.Bitcoin.com that it is working closely with the JVCEA on self-regulation. "We expect that through self-regulation, clearer and more detailed rules will be provided as to provisions that are not specified under the existing laws/regulations, as well as self-discipline in areas that are not covered by the laws and regulations," the FSA shared.

Operators of crypto exchanges are expected to follow similar rules to those set by the SRO regardless of whether they are members of the organization. The FSA also clarified that registration of non-SRO members that have not established internal rules equivalent to the SRO's rules can be refused or canceled.

How Japan Regulates Crypto
Japan has often been referred to as the leader when it comes to crypto regulation, having legalized cryptocurrencies as a means of payment back in April 2017 and requiring crypto exchanges to register with the FSA. The country currently has 19 registered crypto exchanges.

At the summit, Bitflyer CEO and Chairman of the JBA Yuzo Kano was on stage describing his country's regulatory landscape, Coinpost reported. He explained that, in Japan, the FSA is in charge of multiple areas so it can respond to any issues flexibly and quickly. With the country's Revised Fund Settlement Act, passed in 2016, the agency succeeded in providing the legal definition for cryptocurrency ahead of most other countries worldwide, Kano detailed. He noted that the industry has been through various twists and turns as it grows such as the Mt. Gox debacle and a couple of major hacks last year. Coincheck, one of the country's largest crypto exchanges, was hacked in January last year and Zaif, a regulated exchange, was hacked in September.

Kano also noted that the term "virtual currencies" will be changed to "crypto assets" from April 2020 since the revised Act on Fund Settlement and the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act were passed the Plenary Session last month. He added that the crypto industry continues to develop year-after-year.

Some Embrace FATF Standards
Huobi Global, which was represented at the V20, openly embraces the FATF standards. "The crypto industry should embrace industry standards & compliance," the company announced Friday. "FATF's guidelines are a chance to develop progressive industry standards, create innovative tech that weeds out abuse while preserving access for legitimate actors, and more."

Elaine Sun Ye Lin, Huobi's Head of Compliance, commented: "We see this as the starting point in an ongoing conversation between the cryptocurrency industry and G20 regulators … we believe direct dialog with FATF will help clarify the unique nature of the crypto industry and allow us to find industry-wide solutions to the problems we face." Huobi Global CEO Livio Weng elaborated:

While it's true these changes do present a challenge to the industry in terms of immediate implementation, they present real opportunities as well.

He believes that "This is a chance for us to develop industry standards to promote growth and protect user rights, develop technology to identify and weed out the bad while preserving the access for legitimate users, and to develop our ability to respond as a community to the issues that the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries face."

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Buy Airline Vouchers With BCH From Flightgiftcard

 


It's the season of travel and if you want to surprise someone with a trip, you can now do it using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin cash (BCH). Flightgiftcard.com is a Dutch website that allows you to order airline vouchers and send them to your friends and family with a personal message.

Flightgiftcard Lets You Customize Gift Cards for Air Travels
When buying a voucher from Flightgiftcard, you can choose between three different options. Printout and Email are the fastest as they take only a few minutes to order. In the first case you'll receive a PDF file in your inbox with customized text and image, while the Ecard, or Evideo, can be emailed to the recipient. You can also purchase a physical luxury gift card and have it delivered to your address. Then you'll be able to add a handwritten message to it.

You can order up to 10 vouchers at a time and have their value denominated in a number of major fiat currencies including euro (EUR), U.S. dollar (USD), British pound (GBP), and Japanese yen (JPY). You can also select an image according to the occasion from hundreds of stock photos in categories such as Birthday, Anniversary, Wedding, and Congratulations. Alternatively, the online platform lets you upload your own personalized image.

Once you create your Flightgiftcard voucher and confirm the order, you'll be offered multiple fiat and crypto options to pay for it. These include bank cards like Visa, Mastercard and American Express, as well as payment processors such as Paypal and Ideal. If you choose to buy the voucher with digital coins, you'll be able to send bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin core (BTC) and litecoin (LTC).

Recipients of the Flightgiftcard vouchers can search for flights with over 300 airlines and departures from 70 countries around the world and they can book a flight using the platform's website. Businesses can order branded vouchers to send to their employees, clients or partners as corporate gifts.

For more gift cards you can purchase with bitcoin cash, check out our Spend Bitcoin Cash page, where you can shop online for a variety of products and order gift cards of major retailers such as Macy's, Target and Home Depot. The cards are listed in multiple categories including Travel and Lodging, Sports and Outdoors, and Home and Garden.

48 Crypto Exchanges Approved in the Philippines

 


The number of approved cryptocurrency exchanges has been growing in the Philippines. In addition to 11 operators registered by the central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, there are 37 other crypto exchange operators licensed by the government-owned Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.

11 Crypto Exchanges Registered With Central Bank
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has registered 11 cryptocurrency exchanges, allowing them to operate in the country, according to the most recent list of Remittance and Transfer Companies with Money Changing or Foreign Exchange Dealing and Virtual Currency (VC) Exchange Service.

The licensees are Betur Inc. dba Coins.ph, Rebittance Inc., Bloomsolutions Inc., Virtual Currency Philippines Inc., Etranss Remittance International Corp., Fyntegrate Inc., Zybi Tech Inc., Bexpress Inc., Coinville Phils Inc., Aba Global Philippines Inc., and Bitan Moneytech Co. Ltd.

The central bank adopted a formal regulatory approach to cryptocurrency through the issuance of Circular No. 944 dated Feb. 7, 2017. It requires businesses engaged in the exchange of cryptocurrencies for fiat money in the Philippines to register with the central bank as remittance and transfer companies. The bank elaborated:

BSP-registered VC exchanges are now required to put in place adequate safeguards to address the risks associated with VCs such as basic controls on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, technology risk management and consumer protection.

As for cryptocurrency ATMs, the central bank revealed on June 13 that it had not authorized any individual or entity to install them in any location in the Philippines or manage online platforms for them and other crypto transactions. The notice reiterates that crypto ATM operators must register with the central bank as VC exchanges under the aforementioned circular. In addition, the BSP noted that a separate approval may be required from the Securities and Exchange Commission for the issuance of initial coin offerings and operation of crypto trading platforms.

37 Others Licensed by CEZA
Besides the companies registered by the BSP, many others have been licensed by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) to operate crypto exchanges. CEZA is a government-owned and controlled corporation tasked to manage and supervise the development of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, the 54,119-hectare area located at the northeastern tip of the country.

"As a freeport, it operates as a separate customs territory similar to Hong Kong, Singapore, Labuan in Malaysia and Hamburg in Germany," CEZA described, adding that it has been offering foreign companies incentives and advantages to registering their businesses there. "These developments are all deemed toward attracting legitimate and productive local and foreign investments and, thus, creating employment opportunities in and around the freeport," its website details. CEZA Administrator and CEO Raul L. Lambino explained:

We are making CEZA a sandbox for the development of these disruptive technologies, serving as a laboratory for interested parties to experiment on these new dimensions of business enterprise.

On June 17, CEZA revealed that 37 companies are currently licensed under its "Financial Technology Solutions and Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange (OVCE) Business Rules and Regulations of 2018." There are two types of licenses. Twenty-four companies have been granted the OVCE Principal license and 13 companies the OVCE Regular license. The former allows licensees to conduct offshore fintech business and crypto exchange activities; the latter allows licensees to conduct only offshore crypto exchange activities.

List of OVCE licensees provided by CEZA on June 17.
The 24 Principal licensees are Golden Millenial Quickpay, Ultra Precise Investment, Liannet Technology, Rare Earth Asia Technologies, Formosa Financial Holdings, Tanzer Holdings, Asia Premier International, Orient Express Global, White Ranch, Dragon Empire Developments, Galaxy Plus Developments, Tiger Wheel, Ipe Global, Cr8tiv Solutions Management, Sino-Phil Economic Zone Agency Development and Management, Digifin Technologies, Hong Kong Yuen Shing Hong, First Bullion Holdings, Okcoin Philippines Technology, 6x Tech, Increz Korea, Harseq, Fafa Internet Blockchain (China), and Wangwang Quickpay Foundation.

The 13 Regular licensees are Cezex Trading, Unicorn Venture Investment, Eplata Pacific, A&C Fintech, Zipmex, Bird Mouse, Ecoflow, Adax Tech, Monetium, Bitpoint Apec Investment, Hxl (HK) Technology, Noah Ark Technologies, and Wtia.

Some companies have falsely claimed to have been licensed such as Freedom Traders Club, Ploutos Innovation, Ploutos Coin, Hedger Technology, Hedger Mining, Idragon Science Development, Teo Consulting Group, ECP, and Grace Exchange, CEZA warned. The authority additionally clarified:

No Filipino company, Filipino, or Philippine resident is allowed to apply for a CEZA OVCE license, and if so licensed, such licensee is not allowed to sell securities to Filipinos or to exchange tokens into fiat currency, unless they are registered with the SEC or the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), respectively.

Philippines Building Crypto Valley of Asia
In collaboration with property developer Northern Star Gaming and Resorts, CEZA is building Crypto Valley of Asia for companies operating in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport.

The first phase of the project consists of a 25-shop housing development inside the cyberpark with services and amenities such as co-working and living spaces, business incubation and acceleration hubs as well as back offices of crypto exchanges and service providers, CEZA outlined, adding:

Soon to also rise in crypto valley are a world-class internet data center, crypto-mining firms, self-contained power production facilities, and a state-of-the-art cyber security and risk assessment facility.

BSP's Regulatory Approach to Cryptocurrency
"The BSP recognizes that VC systems can revolutionize financial services delivery, particularly for payments and remittances," Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. acknowledged at the annual convention of the Association of Philippine Correspondent Bank Officers in June last year.

BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr.
Explaining the central bank's views and regulatory approach to cryptocurrency, the governor stated that "Cryptocurrencies are a medium of exchange. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recognizes this," noting:

We have adopted a regulatory approach to privately-issued cryptocurrency that is balanced, open and flexible… This is to allow the market to promote financial innovation and for the industry to take advantage of all its benefits and efficiencies – with prudence.

He further remarked, "Cryptocurrencies, like fiat currencies, are neither good nor bad. They are neutral … The BSP allows the market to develop but it has also issued responsive regulations to uphold consumer protection and to maintain financial stability."

Monday, June 10, 2019

Crypto Debit Cards You Can Use Now Plus a Few to Expect Soon

 


Debit cards tied to cryptocurrency wallets provide an opportunity to spend your digital coins almost anywhere fiat money is accepted. It's a working solution, at least until wider adoption comes around. That's why they've become so popular in the crypto community. Challenges of different sorts have negatively affected some of the earlier offerings, but it's good to see products that have survived and new ones that are gaining traction or are about to enter the market.

A Global Crypto Debit Card
During the past year, crypto winter forced businesses to downsize and adjust to unfavorable market and regulatory conditions. Many are still trying to adapt and some are already seeking opportunities elsewhere. For example, the company that issued Shift, arguably the first bitcoin debit card in the U.S. which allowed holders to spend from their Coinbase wallet, is not offering it anymore. It's now operating under a new brand name, Apto Payments. And in Europe, many card providers suffered a hard blow when Visa terminated Wavecrest's membership – some have recovered, others are yet to return.

Not everything is so bleak, however. Paycent is a crypto debit card that's been available worldwide since relatively recently but according to its website, over 53,000 cards have already been delivered globally. They enable users of the Paycent wallet to spend their digital assets in brick and mortar stores as well as with online merchants through conversion to fiat. You can also withdraw funds in local currency from ATMs in just about any country. The card can be ordered from the platform's wallet which supports a number of coins including bitcoin core, ethereum, litecoin, dash, and the Binance token.

Paycent's operator, Singapore-based company Texcent Asia, issues three types of cards – Mastercard, Union Pay International and China Union Pay. The Ruby card (CUP) has spending and withdrawal limits of $2,500, while the Sapphire card (UPI) and the Solitaire card (MC) are limited to $5,600 for transactions and $1,650 for withdrawals. They come as both physical and virtual cards and are delivered for $49. You can find out more about the applicable fees and limits on the Paycent card site.

At the moment, Paycent is offering one of the few, if not the only, crypto debit cards with global coverage. Nevertheless, there's a number of other options that we've previously reviewed and here are those that are still available in mid-2019. Wirex is a popular choice in Europe. Its Visa card supports conversion from several major cryptocurrencies and provides a 0.5% BTC cashback on in-store purchases. The card issued by Bitpay remains a working option for U.S. residents who can use it to shop with Visa merchants anywhere in the world. They can spend bitcoin cash (BCH) and bitcoin core (BTC) from their Bitpay wallet and the cryptos are converted to dollars.

Cryptopay is a platform that offers a prepaid card which can be loaded from its wallet supporting four cryptocurrencies – bitcoin core, ethereum, litecoin, and ripple. The card is currently available for clients in the U.K., Europe and Russia, with negotiations underway with a new issuer in Singapore. It comes in plastic and virtual form and allows holders to spend their coins both online and offline as well as withdraw fiat cash worldwide.

Cards Supporting Bitcoin Cash
A growing number of card issuers now support bitcoin cash in their products, with the above-mentioned Bitpay being the most notable example. Other platforms added the cryptocurrency more recently. Crypto.com's MCO Visa card has allowed you to spend BCH since the end of May, when the Hong Kong-based payment processor announced it had introduced the coin to its wallet and card app. The company started shipping its debit cards to customers in Singapore last October and promised to take them to the U.S. through a partnership between its Florida-registered affiliate Foris Inc. and the Metropolitan Commercial Bank in New York. Its wallet is currently available in 36 states but there's been no update on the plans for the card itself.

Crypto enthusiasts who have a Uquid account can order one of their virtual and plastic cards. The platform promises unlimited online spending and ATM withdrawals as well as fee-free POS purchases. You can top up your balance with a staggering number of coins and tokens, a total of 89 so far, including bitcoin cash. Your digital assets can be converted to British pounds, euros and U.S. dollars. The card is not offered in the United States, however, and you'll be able to determine if your country is eligible only after logging in to your account. Creating one is free of charge but ordering the physical card will cost you up to $17, depending on the fiat currency you've chosen.

Bitnovo buys and sells more than 20 major cryptocurrencies. The trading platform has a mobile app and issues debit cards with which you can pay in stores and online with coins converted to euros. To use it you don't need to have an associated bank account and you can top up with crypto. Bitnovo added BCH to its options in September last year. It also supports bitcoin core, dash, litecoin, ripple, zcash and stellar. Bitcard allows you to withdraw fiat from ATMs for €1 per transaction and there's a monthly fee of €1.20. The card is currently available only for EU residents. Ordering a Basic Level card does not require any registration but you can only load up to €250 on it. The Level Plus (up to €2,500 per year) and the Premium Level cards (maximum €15,000) do come with the obligation to share personal data.

An offering known from before the Wavecrest saga is now returning to the market. Belize-based company Advcash is preparing to launch its virtual and plastic cards in the European Union, Russia and other countries. The fiat currency of the ADV Cards will be either euro or U.S. dollar but holders will be able to withdraw any currency at teller machines around the globe. You'll be able to fund your card with the ADV wallet which supports BCH along with other leading cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH, LTC, HRP, and ZEC. Advcash promises free shipping for their cards and no maintenance fees but you need to pay 14.99 in euros or dollars for the card. Detailed information about other fees and limits can be found on the issuer's website.

A new player in the niche is the Spanish fintech startup 2gether, which is targeting its products and services at the crypto community in Europe. The platform released its prepaid Visa card in April and its holders can use it in any of the 19 members of the Eurozone with plans to expand availability to the rest of the EU. It allows you to spend your digital coins anywhere Visa is accepted through instant conversion to EUR, which is the common fiat currency of the Eurozone countries. Bitcoin cash (BCH) is one of seven supported cryptocurrencies along with ETH, BTC, XPR, EOS, XLM, and LTC. 2gether lets you hold and manage euro and crypto balances in the same app as well as to buy and sell digital coins.

Yahoo Japan-Backed Exchange Launches Crypto-Yen Markets and Margin Trading

 


Back in April 2018, it was revealed that Yahoo Japan was planning to launch a cryptocurrency exchange licensed by Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA). Now, a year later, Yahoo Japan's trading platform Taotao is open offering BTC and ETH trading while also providing users with margin trading available in litecoin (LTC), ripple (XRP) and bitcoin cash (BCH).

Yahoo Japan's Taotao Exchange Has Launched
Yahoo Japan Corporation has officially entered the cryptocurrency trading industry with its newly launched exchange Taotao. Yahoo Japan is an internet company tethered to the American multimedia corporation Yahoo. The web portal operated by Yahoo Japan is the most visited website in the country, offering services like email, Roku, Gyao, Geocities, auctions, shopping, and travel. The company's exchange was initially called Bitarg up until Yahoo Japan acquired the trading platform last February and renamed it Taotao. The trading platform is fully licensed with the FSA as a Japanese virtual currency exchange business association type 1 member.

The Yahoo Japan-backed cryptocurrency exchange offers both BTC and ETH trading against JPY. The trading platform also provides margin trading with LTC, BCH, and XRP.
Taotao President, Shinichiro Arakawa, announced the launch of the platform on May 30, 2019, with an initial commemoration campaign that gives traders zero fees for 30 days. Additionally, for BTC, ETH, BCH, XRP, and LTC margin trading, the open position management fees from leverage transactions are waived for the first month. Taotao launched the web portal with its slogan "New money, new world," and the company believes Taotao makes it easier for cryptocurrency users to trade in a safe manner. The Taotao trading platform can be used in a browser but the exchange also offers a mobile trading experience with its Android and iOS applications. Users can trade with BTC and ETH in a traditional spot market fashion with their smartphone while also playing with leverage on LTC, XRP, and BCH.

Taotao users can trade and execute leverage using either an Android or iOS mobile device. The iOS version of Taotao is pictured above. Users can also register with a Yahoo Japan ID as well.
The Yahoo Japan-backed Taotao claims to offer top-notch trading in a completely isolated environment from the external networks. Funds are kept in cold storage and Taotao also offers multi-signature technology which requires the approval from multiple individuals at the time of withdrawal. In order to prevent unauthorized logins, Taotao requires two-factor authentication (2FA) for accounts. One interesting thing to note about registering for Taotao is users can sign up with a Yahoo Japan ID to make the process much quicker. Still, in order to be fully verified, users are required to provide a photo ID in order to obtain approval. After the Coincheck breach in January 2018, Japanese exchanges have to abide by strict rules in order to acquire a license to operate a virtual currency trading platform. Yahoo Japan's Taotao platform is among 19 FSA approved cryptocurrency exchanges within the country.

A Taotao advertisement which at the time reimbursed accounts with 11,000 yen worth of credit.
Crypto Exchange Competition in Japan Is Growing
Yahoo Japan's entry into the cryptocurrency trading environment will surely help give digital assets further mainstream attention. There have already been advertisements on Yahoo Japan's web portal when the company announced the pre-registration account openings for March 25 and gave up to 11,000 yen in reimbursements for advance registrations.

The Japanese cryptocurrency platform Bitflyer is one of the longest-running exchanges in the country and typically captures the most BTC trade volume in Japan. In 2017 Bitflyer commanded the most crypto volume in the world for a short period of time.
Taotao will compete with a slew of trading platforms and the Japanese forerunner Bitflyer, one of the world's leading digital asset exchanges by volume. For instance, on Monday, June 10.

The Yahoo Japan-backed exchange Taotao will face other competitors such as Rakuten, Fisco, and Decurret.
One of those examples is the Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange, which initiated services in Japan during the last week of April. Fisco Digital Asset Group (FDAG) previously worked with Tech Bureau Inc., the firm which operated the hacked exchange Zaif, and FDAG decided to relaunch services seven months later. Then there's the recent opening of Huobi Japan last January, which introduced LTC, BCH, MONA, BTC, ETH, and XRP trading to Japanese traders. Huobi Group managed a merger with Bittrade and rebranded into Huobi Japan after acquiring a license to operate under the FSA's stricter guidelines. Taotao will also be challenged by the new platform Decurret and the revamped Rakuten service in Japan.

Monday, June 3, 2019

US, Japan and South Korea lead the world in crypto interest: Report

 


The U.S., Japan and South Korea lead the world in crypto interest. This is according to the latest study into cryptocurrency trends worldwide. The study, conducted by crypto outlet The Block, showed that five countries account for half the traffic for the 48 most popular digital currency exchanges.

The U.S. was the undisputed leader of the pack, the poll found. The country accounted for 24.5% of the total traffic to the exchanges over the six months that the poll was conducted. The country has always been a world leader in the adoption of new technology, and cryptocurrencies have proven to be no different.

In second place was economic giant Japan. The country, which was the first major economy to recognize cryptocurrency as a legal method of payment, had a 10% share of the traffic. South Korea at 6.5%, Indonesia at 4.5% and India at 4.2% rounded up the top five. China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and Brazil were the other countries in the top ten.

However, the rankings changed significantly when the researchers took the population of a country into consideration. With a population of 327 million, the U.S. was no longer at the top. Instead, Singapore came out top. The Asian country is recognized as one of the top global financial hubs and it has lived up to its name according to the study. In second place once again was Japan, with Switzerland ranking third.

The study also ranked crypto interest by regions and as expected, North America came out top. With Canada and the U.S. quickly taking to digital currencies, the regions is way ahead of its peers. Europe was second, with Oceania, Asia, South America and Africa rounding up the list respectively.

While the study provided an insight into the interest levels in cryptos, its data wasn't a perfect representation of the crypto market. For one, in some countries, the cryptocurrency exchange industry hasn't quite matured. Moreover, the established crypto exchanges have shunned some regions and thus crypto enthusiasts turn to peer-to-peer trading platforms such as LocalBitcoins. For instance, Coinbase still doesn't provide its services to African countries despite expanding to 60+ countries globally.

The data was also skewed by the fact that some countries have either outlawed cryptos completely or have discouraged their citizens from trading. China is a prime example, with the country becoming hostile to cryptos in the past few years. Citizens in such countries turn to VPNs to avoid the censorship, skewing the data against them and for some other countries.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce Encourages Less Caution Toward ETF Innovation

 


Hester Peirce, commissioner at the United States securities regulator, has urged for a less cautious approach towards innovation in the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) space on the regulator's part. The Financial Times reported on her remarks on June 2.

Per the report, the Security and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Peirce called on her co-commissioners to allow for innovation in the ETF space by lessening their caution.

She reportedly commented on the SEC's approach towards this category of highly regulated financial derivatives, noting that the SEC is "still smothering ETFs with personalised attention as if they were infants."

Peirce also noted that she believes the regulator was wrong in its decision to reject the bitcoin (BTC)-based ETF application introduced by the Winklevoss twins, who are also founders of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. According to Peirce, an ETF would encourage institutional investors to participate in the cryptocurrency market.

The CEO of world's third-largest asset manager, State Street Global Advisers, Cyrus Taraporevala commented to the Financial Times:

"If something does go awry with them, then the whole industry gets painted with the same brush. [...] We do not do inverse ETFs or leveraged ETFs. That will be the case as long as I am in my role."

In 2010, the SEC reportedly banned leveraged and inverse ETFs, presumably because they can produce particularly large losses, the Financial Times notes. Still, Peirce noted that other types of mutual funds also use derivatives to amplify their exposure, and it was clear that unsophisticated retail investors are not the target for leveraged ETFs. She reportedly commented:

"The unwillingness to allow more competitors to offer geared ETFs seems to be another example of denying or curtailing access to a product that would be useful to some investors."

The Financial Times further notes that the U.S. regulator in question is also expected to introduce new ETF regulation, which is expected to speed up innovation in the space.

As Cointelegraph reported at the end of May, the Japanese Financial Services Agency has also showed a cautious approach towards cryptocurrency-based ETFs, according to comments from the finance committee of the upper house of the National Diet.

A recently released Cointelegraph analysis writes that part of the crypto community believes bitcoin's volatility could render the odds of an ETF based on the coin being approved significantly lower.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

China Releases New Crypto Rankings

 


China's Center for Information and Industry Development has released its latest rankings of 35 crypto projects that were evaluated over the past two months. While several top positions remain unchanged, Bitcoin has climbed up the overall ranking.

New Rankings From China
The Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID), under China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, released the 12th update of its crypto project rankings Thursday. The number of projects evaluated was unchanged from the previous rankings published in March. The center also announced that starting this month the rankings will be adjusted every two months instead of monthly.

In addition to the overall ranking, the CCID published three others based on basic technology, applicability, and creativity sub-categories. EOS tops the list overall, followed by Tron, and Ethereum. The center started ranking Tron in February, debuting at number two overall and has remained at that position ever since. BTC now ranks 12th, up three places from the 15th place in the previous ranking. BCH has also improved, currently occupying the 29th spot overall, up from the 31st place previously.

"The results show that the world's three major Dapp platforms — EOS, Tron, and Ethereum — remain ranked in the top three, [and] the scores are 148.5, 144.1 and 136.6," the CCID wrote.

The center describes itself as "a first-class scientific research institution directly under the administration of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China." The first crypto ranking was released in May last year. The assessment is carried out by the CCID (Qingdao) blockchain research institute, an entity established by the CCID, in collaboration with multiple organizations such as the CCID think tank and the China Software Evaluation Center. "The result of this assessment will allow the CCID group to provide better technical consulting services for government agencies, business enterprises, research institutes, and technology developers," the center previously explained.



Sub-Rankings
The overall ranking is based on the total index scores of 35 crypto projects. The total index of each crypto project is the weighted average of its three sub-indices: the basic technology index, the applicability index, and the creativity index. The basic technology sub-index accounts for 64% of the total index, while the applicability sub-index accounts for 20% and the creativity index 16%.

"The basic technology sub-index mainly assesses the level of technical realization of the public chain," the center described, adding that the key areas evaluated under this category "include the function, performance, safety and decentralization of the public chain." The top five crypto projects in this category are EOS, Tron, Steem, Bitshares, and Gxchain.

The creativity sub-index "focuses on continuous innovation in the public chain, including developer size, code updates, and code impact," the center detailed. In this category, the top five crypto projects are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lisk, EOS and Tron.

The applicability sub-index "mainly evaluates the comprehensive level of public chain support for practical applications," the center continued. "The assessment includes four aspects: node deployment, wallet application, development support and application implementation." For this category, the top five crypto projects are Ethereum, Neo, Nebulas, Tron, and Ontology, which are unchanged from the previous ranking for this sub-category. "However, the data shows that the applicability indices of only 11 of the 35 public chains have increased, and the overall index has declined compared to the previous period," the CCID noted.

G20 Countries Start Implementing Unified Crypto Standards

 



As the G20 summit approaches, member countries have been discussing how to implement the standards set by intergovernmental organizations such as the Financial Action Task Force. While there may be some challenges in complying with the standards, the European Central Bank says the risks crypto assets pose to the euro area's financial stability are manageable.


The G20 countries have reaffirmed their support for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as the global standard-setting body in areas such as anti-money laundering. They have also agreed to follow the FATF recommendations including those concerning crypto assets.

The FATF held its annual Private Sector Consultative Forum in Austria earlier this month with its members and over 300 representatives from the private sector participating. Members of the FATF are 36 countries and two international organizations including the European Commission. The FATF explained:

The discussions focused on the mapping of virtual asset services and business models … and on the implementation of specific FATF recommendations.

A FATF meeting
In its April report to the G20, the FATF outlined its work on crypto asset standards and promised to update its guidance "to continue assisting jurisdictions and the private sector, in implementing a risk-based approach to regulating virtual asset service providers, including their supervision and monitoring," the report describes. "This will help countries in exercising oversight of this sector." While emphasizing various risks such as money laundering, the FATF also recognized:

Technological innovations, including those underlying virtual assets … may deliver significant benefits to the financial system and the broader economy.

Russia Has Issues to Resolve
Among countries that have announced their plans to implement the standards set by the FATF is Russia. The country has yet to finalize the regulatory framework for cryptocurrency, which President Vladimir Putin originally said must be done by July last year. Since no crypto regulation had been introduced, the Russian president signed another order for his country's crypto regulation to be implemented by July this year.

However, another delay may also be in the cards as the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Market, Anatoly Aksakov, has revealed that "The adoption of the law on digital financial assets is 'stuck' because of the requirements of the FATF," Tass reported on May 21. Speaking at the Russian Stock Market 2019 conference, he explained that the requirements will either be implemented in the law on digital financial assets or in a separate bill, elaborating:

The law on digital financial assets has been suspended … There were FATF decisions that require us to resolve issues related to bitcoins and so on.

The news outlet also reported first deputy chairman of the Bank of Russia, Olga Skorobogatova, indicating that the law on digital financial assets could be adopted in the Spring session. "The law on digital financial assets, on crowdfunding, etc., all these bills are in a fairly high degree of readiness," she told the State Duma. "Colleagues from the State Duma committees are very helpful, we expect that these laws can be passed during the Spring session." She further stressed that these laws "are extremely important for the country and will provide an opportunity to implement new projects."

Japan Collaborating With Other G20 Countries
The host of the June G20 summit, Japan has been actively working on implementing global standards on crypto assets. Last week, the country's House of Representatives passed a crypto bill with a number of required resolutions. According to Impress publication, one of them reads:

We have fully grasped the regulatory trends of G20 countries, and cooperated with each country to achieve international harmony.

In April, local media reported that the Japanese government is preparing to offer a handbook to the G20 countries to help them with their own crypto regulations. This matter will be discussed at the June summit along with a wide range of regulatory measures relating to crypto assets.

In December last year, Japan's top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), released a report stating:

To manage and mitigate the risks emerging from virtual assets, countries should ensure that virtual asset service providers are regulated for AML/CFT purposes.

They should also be "licensed or registered and subject to effective systems for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the relevant measures called for in the FATF recommendations," the report details.

South Korea Wants Regulatory Consistency
South Korea has announced several times that it will comply with the unified crypto regulatory standards. At the FSB plenary meeting in April, the progress report to be delivered to the upcoming G20 meetings in Japan, vulnerabilities in the global financial system, and global standards of crypto regulation were discussed. "Transnational cooperation is necessary to regulate virtual currencies," Choi Jong-ku, Chairman of the Financial Services Commission, was quoted as saying. He emphasized the importance for each country to consistently implement international standards prepared by the FATF "to minimize regulatory inconsistencies."

FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku
Possible Challenges Ahead
Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis provided feedback to the FATF on its guidance for crypto assets in April. "FATF's guidance, as it is currently drafted, would have profound implications for the cryptocurrency industry," the firm wrote.

"There are clear technical obstacles that prevent cryptocurrency businesses from being able to comply with these standards," Chainalysis detailed. Citing that "Cryptocurrencies were originally designed as a peer-to-peer financial system that has no central authority and no intermediaries," the firm asserted that in most cases crypto exchanges "are unable to tell if a beneficiary is using another exchange or a personal wallet," adding:

Requiring a transmission of information identifying the parties is not technically feasible.

The firm proceeded to discuss "technical opportunities," suggesting that in order to meet the FATF's goals, "Cryptocurrency exchanges can use the transparency of the shared ledger to form an effective risk-based approach." They explained that it should be the job of exchanges to collect and store know your customer (KYC) information of each transaction's originator, and clarified that "While the transactions themselves are public, exchanges should also link their customers with their specific transactions as this information is not available on the public ledger."


Another point highlighted by the firm, which they referred to as "unintended consequences," is that "There is no infrastructure to transmit information between cryptocurrency businesses today, and no one has the ability to change how cryptocurrency blockchains work." The firm elaborated:

Forcing onerous investment and friction onto regulated businesses, who are critical allies to law enforcement, could reduce their prevalence, drive activity to decentralized and peer-to-peer exchanges, and lead to de-risking by financial institutions.

Chainalysis noted that "Such measures would decrease the transparency that is currently available to law enforcement."

Manageable Financial Stability Risks
The European Central Bank (ECB) monitors crypto assets and analyzes potential implications for monetary policy and the risks they may pose on market infrastructures, payments, and the stability of the financial system. Its report published earlier this month entitled "Crypto-Assets: Implications for financial stability, monetary policy, and payments and market infrastructures" summarizes the outcome of the analysis of its Crypto Assets Task Force. The report reads:

At present, crypto-assets' implications for and/or risks to the financial stability of the euro area, monetary policy, and payments and market infrastructures are limited or manageable.

Noting that crypto assets cannot be used to conduct money settlements in important financial market infrastructures in the EU, the bank states that "they do not qualify as securities … [and] central securities depositories (CSDs) cannot undertake settlement of crypto-assets."

Even if crypto-based products were to be cleared by central counterparties, they would need to be authorized and to satisfy existing regulatory requirements, the bank clarified, adding that "Even at their peak in early 2018 the outstanding value of crypto-assets was too small to give rise to concerns for the EU financial system and the economy." Stressing that "Crypto-assets market developments are dynamic and links to the financial sector and the economy may increase in the future," the bank claims:

It is therefore important that the ECB continue to monitor the crypto-assets phenomenon, raise awareness and develop preparedness for any adverse scenarios, in cooperation with other relevant authorities.

The ECB concluded that "Financial institutions investing directly or indirectly in crypto assets should have in place relevant governance arrangements, also in line with the licensing criteria, and commensurate to the materiality of investments in crypto-assets and/or crypto-assets-related activities." The bank added that many factors ranging from market developments to "unintended 'legitimising' effects" of crypto regulation could result in greater exposures to crypto assets.