Wednesday, April 24, 2019

G20 Prepares to Regulate Crypto Assets - a Look at Current Policies

 


Following their joint declaration committing to regulate crypto assets, the G20 countries are now preparing to set crypto policies at the upcoming summit. Several international organizations have contributed resources and are actively working to help shape the regulations.

The upcoming G20 summit will be held in Osaka, Japan, on June 28 and 29. Participants are 19 member countries, the European Union, guest countries and a number of international organizations. Following the members' joint declaration committing to regulate crypto assets for AML and CFT purposes, several standard-setting bodies have contributed resources to help the G20 set crypto policies. According to Japanese media, the countries are expected to agree upon new crypto-related regulations at the summit.

G20 Prepares to Regulate Crypto Assets – a Look at Current Policies
The G20 has reaffirmed its support for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as "the global anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing, and proliferation financing standard-setting body," the FATF described in its report submitted to the G20 last week. The G20 has additionally asked the organization to clarify how its standards apply to "virtual asset activities." Responding to this request, the FATF confirmed that "Jurisdictions should apply a risk-based approach to virtual assets" and related activities. Promising to issue new guidelines in June, it elaborated:

At a minimum, virtual asset service providers should be required to be licenced or registered in the jurisdiction where they are created, or … where they have their place of business.

The FATF also recommends that "Virtual asset service providers should be supervised or monitored by a competent authority/ies (not a self-regulatory body)" and "Countries should provide international cooperation in relation to virtual assets and virtual asset service providers."

The Financial Stability Board, which monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system, also submitted a report to the G20 which outlines who the crypto regulators are in each member country. Meanwhile, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is currently undertaking a quantitative impact study of banks' direct and indirect exposures to crypto assets.

Furthermore, global standard setter for securities market regulation, the International Organization of Securities Commissions, has developed a support framework to assist with addressing domestic and cross-border issues arising from initial coin offerings (ICOs) and a framework for identifying risks associated with the secondary trading of crypto assets.

The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, South Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S., and the European Union. Below is a summary of how they are currently regulating crypto assets.

South America
For Argentina, the central bank assesses the financial stability risks from crypto markets and monitors financial institutions' exposures to crypto assets. The Securities and Exchange Commission oversees these assets within the capital markets and the Financial Information Unit deals with crypto-related AML/CFT issues.

For Brazil, the Securities and Exchange Commission is responsible for cryptocurrencies that are securities. The Central Bank of Brazil (BCB) explained:

Our current mandate allows us to assess financial institutions' exposure to those assets and supervise their operations. Moreover, BCB has the mandate to regulate what type of operations involving crypto-assets, if any, financial institutions can perform.

North America
The U.S. has multiple regulators for crypto assets. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates cryptocurrencies that are deemed securities whereas the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) oversees crypto derivatives and commodities.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) supervises financial institutions' exposures to crypto assets. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Fincen) has sole federal enforcement authority over money transmitters operating in convertible cryptocurrency.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency determines the permissibility and prudential conduct of banks related to crypto assets. The Office of Financial Research monitors these assets and their markets to identify any financial stability risks.

Canada also has many regulators for crypto assets. Among them is the Bank of Canada which ensures that cryptocurrencies do not pose systemic financial stability risks to the country's economy. The Office of the Superintendent Financial Institutions ensures financial institutions' levels of exposure to crypto assets are within acceptable risk appetite.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is responsible for protecting consumers of financial services and products involving crypto assets. The Canada Revenue Agency deals with crypto-related taxes. Furthermore, the Ontario Securities Commission, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, the Alberta Securities Commission, and the British Columbia Securities Commission regulate crypto assets within their jurisdictions.

For Mexico, the central bank is responsible for defining the characteristics of crypto assets that financial institutions are permitted to operate with. The bank recently came up with some rules which stirred up the industry.

Europe
Last week, news.Bitcoin.com reported on how the European Union and five countries on the continent regulate cryptocurrency. Spain is not a G20 member but has been invited to attend the summit as a guest country.

On Monday, France's Financial Markets Authority published the details of the new regulatory framework for cryptocurrency which was adopted on April 11 as part of the Pacte bill.

Asia
Also last week, news.Bitcoin.com reported on how China, India, South Korea, and Japan are regulating cryptocurrency.

As for Indonesia, Bank Indonesia has banned cryptocurrency as a means of payment but continues to monitor crypto transactions and their potential long-term effects on monetary policy and financial stability. The Ministry of Trade, however, has acknowledged cryptocurrency as a tradable commodity with the Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency (Bappebti) acting as the regulator. The FSB described:

Currently, Bappebti is developing an ecosystem for crypto-assets markets and exchanges with aims to protect crypto-assets consumers.

Furthermore, the Indonesia Financial Services Authority monitors developments and effects of fintech on financial stability while the Ministry of Finance is reviewing the taxation mechanism for crypto asset trading activities.

Western and Central Asia
For Saudi Arabia, the Capital Market Authority, together with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), "are planning to conduct a study that aims to conduct assessment of the feasibility to introduce crypto-assets and ICOs in Saudi Arabia," according to the FSB. The board clarified:

Currently, there is no regulation directly targeting crypto-assets in Saudi Arabia. However, SAMA's current mandate allows it to assess financial institutions' exposure to those assets and supervise their operations.

For Turkey, the central bank is responsible for overseeing the country's payments system while the Financial Crimes Investigation Board is working on the rules related to cryptocurrency and related service providers.

Russia is also working on the regulatory framework for cryptocurrency. In February, President Vladimir Putin instructed the government to adopt federal laws on cryptocurrency by July.

Africa and Oceania
For the Republic of South Africa (RSA), the central bank assesses the regulatory implications of fintech and oversees crypto assets when used for payments. The bank has clarified:

There are currently no specific laws or regulations that govern the use of VCs [virtual currencies] in RSA. It follows, therefore, that currently no compliance requirements exist for local trading of VCs in RSA.

Meanwhile, the country's Prudential Authority supervises regulated entities' involvement in crypto assets and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority oversees crypto assets in the financial markets. The Financial Intelligence Centre ensures that they cannot be used for illicit purposes while the Revenue Services collects related taxes.

For Australia, the Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) regulates crypto exchanges which are required to register with it. The Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) monitors crypto and ICO activities that seek investment from Australians. Lastly, the central bank assesses the implications of crypto assets for monetary policy, identifies their risks to financial stability, and establishes related payments system policies if required. The bank published its April Financial Stability Review report last week confirming:

Crypto of the Day App Gauges Investor Sentiment and Market Trends

 

Taking relevant investment decisions in the crypto space requires comprehensive information about current trends and a good idea of the sentiment of market participants. A mobile application called Crypto of the Day aggregates data about both and offers some other useful features.

Crypto of the Day is an app developed for Android devices. In essence, it represents a social network that analyzes digital assets and their market movements. Traders can use it to find out which coins have the highest potential for growth based on the ratings and recommendations of the app's community and Telegram channel members.

Users can create their own cryptocurrency portfolio and share it with others. Crypto of the day supports all major cryptocurrencies including bitcoin cash (BCH) and many other coins. The app runs a vote on them every day and each crypto has a dedicated page with a chart for different time periods, current price, market cap, trading volume, and other users' comments.

The application aggregates breaking news and analyses, updates and video reports about market trends. There's a pumps and signals page as well. The app lists top rated cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers and a calculator helps investors compare digital assets in fiat currency equivalent.

To stay informed about the prices and market valuations of hundreds of cryptocurrencies you can also check out Bitcoin.com Markets. It allows you to pick your favorite coins and compare their indicators in major cryptocurrencies such as BCH and BTC and in a number of fiat currencies including U.S. dollar, euro, British pound, and Japanese yen. The platform is available in multiple languages.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

3 COUNTRIES TELL IMF THEY WANT TO ISSUE BITCOIN BONDS

 


Asia Times originally reported the trend April 17 referencing recent statements at this week's World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings held in Washington DC.

Afghanistan, Tunisia and Uzbekistan are currently mulling the possibility of a Bitcoin bond, all three interested in the instrument's potential to help out critical sectors of the economy.

For Afghanistan, a bond could be tied to metals, specifically the country's $3 trillion lithium industry. Despite being set for expansion due to a shortage of lithium, Afghanistan remains stifled when it comes to borrowing due to international restrictions.

The answer, Asia Times paraphrases Central Bank of Afghanistan governor Khalil Sediq as saying, lies in crypto solutions such as Hyperledger Fabric.

This, he claimed, "could offer a way to access international markets via a first-of-its-kind financial instrument made possible with hyperledger's blockchain technology financial services platform."

Similarly buoyant about the concept was newly-installed Tunisian central bank governor Marouane El Abassi. Abassi, known for his progressive stance on technology such as blockchain, said a dedicated working group was already studying the feasibility of a Bitcoin bond.

Bitcoin and Hyperledger's Blockchain technology, he indicated,

offers central banks an efficient tool to combat money-laundering, manage remittances, fight cross-border terrorism and limit grey economies.

In line with many other nations, Tunisia is also getting to grips with the idea of issuing a digital version of its national fiat currency.

IMF REMAINS CAUTIOUS
For Uzbekistan meanwhile, a Bitcoin bond could end up tied to cotton futures, Uzbek Ambassador to the United States Javlon Vakhabov told the Spring Meetings.

The approaches may yet gain mixed reviews from the IMF, in particular. Earlier this month, managing director Christine Lagarde again called for caution regarding cryptoassets, saying supervised testing would be preferable as a first step.

"One approach, undertaken in Hong Kong SAR, Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere, is to establish regulatory 'sandboxes' where new financial technologies can be tested in a closely supervised environment," she concluded in a blog post.

Above all, we must keep an open mind about crypto assets and financial technology more broadly, not only because of the risks they pose, but also because of their potential to improve our lives.

Lagarde likened the advent of early-stage cryptocurrency and associated financial technology to that of the telephone and its initial reception

UK and Europe-Based Users Can Now Buy Bitcoin Cash Inside the Bitcoin.com Walle

 


In the summer of 2017, Bitcoin.com launched its open source light client and since then more than 3.8 million wallets have been created. We've since added a load of new features to the wallet software and as of April 15, 2019, Bitcoin.com Wallet users in the UK and Europe can purchase bitcoin cash (BCH) directly inside the wallet.

Bitcoin.com's New Buy Feature Aims to Spread Economic Freedom Globally
Bitcoin.com strives to be the leading destination for all your bitcoin needs and our wallet is the perfect example. The open source Bitcoin.com Wallet is designed to be a secure application for sending, receiving, and storing digital assets. It features a simple interface for newcomers and veterans in the space. Our last version of the wallet gave users the ability to swap between BCH and BTC using the Sideshift platform. This week, the latest release of our light client has given U.K. and Europe-based users the ability to purchase BCH directly within the wallet thanks to our new Moonpay integration.

UK and Europe-Based Users Can Buy BCH Directly in the Bitcoin.com Wallet
"Bitcoin cash is a global currency with the potential to put an end to extortionate bank fees, delays, and fraud. But this isn't just an idea: it's usable right now as digital money. Both online and instore, an increasing number of merchants are beginning to accept bitcoin cash." – Roger Ver.

With the new buy service, Bitcoin.com Wallet users from Europe and the U.K. can quickly purchase the cryptocurrency using a credit or debit card. Small fractions of BCH (€150 worth) can be purchased without the need for formally validating your identity. If you want to purchase a larger amount of BCH up to €5,000 daily, and up to €20,000 monthly, verification will be required. One of the earliest angel investors within the cryptocurrency space and CEO of Bitcoin.com, Roger Ver, explained during the announcement that providing these types of resources helps bolster digital currency accessibility.

"We strive to bring economic freedom to everyone, everywhere, and we want to make it easy for everyone to buy bitcoin cash," Ver stated. "With our latest wallet feature, it's never been simpler."

UK and Europe-Based Users Can Buy BCH Directly in the Bitcoin.com Wallet
Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver.
Eliminate Exchanges and Reduce Risk by Purchasing Within the Wallet
Because the Bitcoin.com Wallet is noncustodial, it provides a a more secure solution for acquiring crypto because there's no need to deposit funds on a centralized exchange. After a purchase is made within the wallet interface the BCH is sent directly from the official seller to the owner's noncustodial light client. This is in stark contrast to leaving funds on an exchange for a period of time to make a trade. Cryptocurrency exchanges are custodial, which means the exchange has full control of the user's funds at all times.

Exchange breaches have been prevalent within the cryptocurrency industry for years and a few hacks have hit news headlines over the past few months. Canada's largest exchange, Quadriga, lost $145 million recently and Bithumb saw over $19 million worth of cryptocurrency siphoned out of the trading platform. In response to these recent exchange hacks, Roger Ver stated:

"It's a big eye-opener for many people. Buying from an exchange means using their custodial wallet and, even if it's just temporarily while you purchase the coins, the cryptocurrency is still not as secure as it could be — the Bitcoin.com Wallet now lets users sidestep exchanges altogether, so your bitcoin cash is under your control from the moment you buy it."

In addition to introducing the buy bitcoin cash feature to U.K. and Europe-based Bitcoin.com Wallet users, there are plans to roll the service out to more countries soon. To download the latest version and try the new Moonpay service, visit wallet.bitcoin.com today.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How 5 Asian Countries Regulate Cryptocurrency

 


The Financial Stability Board has detailed how its member countries regulate crypto assets, who the regulators are, and the scope of their oversight. Most countries have more than one government body monitoring and regulating different aspects of crypto activities. Among the board's Asian member countries, India is the only one with no legal mandate to directly regulate crypto assets.

India
Three regulators — the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Ministry of Finance — regularly attend the Financial Stability Board (FSB) meetings and G20 summits. The FSB is an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system. It has listed only the RBI, the country's central bank, as the regulator of the Indian crypto space, clarifying in a report published Friday:

RBI does not have a legal mandate to directly regulate crypto-assets. RBI's current mandate permits it to assess financial institutions' exposure to crypto-assets and supervise their operations.

The Reserve Bank of India
Within its mandate, the central bank has prohibited financial institutions from dealing in "or providing services for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with or settling" cryptocurrencies, the FSB detailed. The three aforementioned regulators are part of the panel headed by Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, tasked with drafting the country's crypto regulation. According to the government, this panel is in its final stages of deliberations. India's crypto regulation was expected to be presented to the country's supreme court on March 29 but the court adjourned without addressing the matter until July.

Japan
At the opposite end of the crypto regulatory spectrum, Japan legalized cryptocurrency as a means of payment back in April 2017 under the amended Payment Services Act.

The main regulator is the Financial Services Agency (FSA) which supervises and conducts oversight of crypto exchange service providers. Crypto exchanges are required to register with the agency. There are currently 19 registered exchanges with over 140 companies interested in entering the market, the regulator has shared with news.Bitcoin.com. The FSA also cooperates with a self-regulatory organization for added oversight. Additionally, the agency engages in international policy discussions on crypto assets and is currently discussing policies on initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The Bank of Japan
Besides the FSA, two other government bodies are involved in the regulation of the Japanese crypto industry: the central bank and the Ministry of Finance.

The Bank of Japan established a fintech center within its Payment and Settlement Systems Department in 2016. The center conducts research on new technologies including cryptocurrency and how they could change existing financial services and structures. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for supervising and legislating crypto assets' trade under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act including the planning and execution of crypto-related taxation.

South Korea
There are three regulators for crypto activities in South Korea, with the main regulator being the Financial Services Commission (FSC). The Financial Stability Board describes:

The FSC promotes information exchanges and cooperation with international organisations, especially in regard to virtual currency, and is responsible for analysing trends and establishing policies on the digital currency market and for integrating and coordinating policies and major plans of anti-money laundering system related to virtual currency.

Meanwhile, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) is responsible for the oversight, market integrity, general anti-fraud and consumer protection of crypto-related activities.

The FSS and the FSC worked together to produce the country's cryptocurrency measures at the end of 2017 and additional guidelines in January last year. However, they have yet to introduce any follow-up measures. Meanwhile, ICOs are banned from being launched domestically. At least six bills have been submitted to the National Assembly but none have advanced, the FSC previously told news.Bitcoin.com.

The two regulators implemented the real-name system in January last year with the aim to convert all anonymous crypto accounts into real-name-verified ones. In addition, the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit issued reporting guidelines for banks to prevent money laundering via crypto transactions. The country is also working on the taxation of crypto assets.

The Bank of Korea
The last regulator listed for South Korea by the FSB is the central bank. The Bank of Korea monitors and researches the development of crypto assets and their impacts on the economy and financial stability, including the implications of using cryptocurrencies as payment instruments.

Singapore
Despite the country's early history in the space, the only crypto regulator listed for Singapore is the central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which performs many regulatory functions.

Firstly, it monitors "the prudential exposures of banks, insurance companies and asset managers to crypto-assets." It also "regulates activities and institutions conducting activities involving cryptoassets if these are capital markets products" under the Securities and Futures Act, the FSB described. Moreover, besides monitoring "the financial stability risks posed by crypto-assets," the central bank has "extended its surveillance and market intelligence gathering to include crypto-assets."

The Monetary Authority of Singapore
The MAS additionally regulates crypto businesses as part of its regulation of payment systems, stored value facilities, remittance businesses and money-changers. The FSB explained that the upcoming Payment Services Act will expand the "MAS' regulatory reach to cover additional payment activities, including digital payment token services." It will also set out "regulations for AML/CFT to mitigate risks posed by entities … which conduct crypto-related activities."

China
Another member of the FSB, China became a hotbed of crypto activity in bitcoin's early life but then began heavy oversight of the crypto industry, banning crypto exchanges outright in 2017. In addition to the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the country's central bank, five other government bodies regulate crypto-related activities in China.

The People's Bank of China
The Cyberspace Administration of China monitors online crypto-related activities and rectifies any problems found. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology prohibits and shuts down illegal crypto-related websites, the FSB noted. Another regulator is the Ministry of Public Security which prohibits crypto activities that are "suspected of illegal criminal activities including illegal fund-raising, fraud and pyramid-schemes."

Meanwhile, China's Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission "is closely following the development of crypto-assets in China and its potential risk to the banking and insurance system," the board emphasized. Lastly, the country's Securities Regulatory Commission, which combats the illegal issuance of securities, "is now strengthening research on the issues of crypto-assets related securities."

Embed 1MB Files on the Bitcoin Cash Chain With the Blockupload Platform

 


The software developer known as Deswurstes revealed last week a new project he's been working on that allowed people to upload files up to 1MB in size to the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) testnet. On April 7, Deswurstes launched the first BCH mainnet version of Blockupload, a desktop platform that allows people to embed larger files into the blockchain without the need for the Interplanetary File System (IPFS).

lockupload Allows for 1MB Uploads Embedded Into the Bitcoin Cash Chain
The developer known as Deswurstes or Mcccs has announced a new project he's been working on over the last eight months called Blockupload. The platform uses a BCH Op_Return transaction and P2SH in order to allow individuals to upload files to BCH up to 1MB in size. The upload size is higher than the Bitcoin Files project allows, which is roughly a max of 5kb or less, but when using IPFS Bitcoin Files can upload much larger files. Deswurstes says his project doesn't need IPFS and the open source repository on Github explains that Blockupload is a "user-friendly tool to upload your files to the BCH chain."

"Last week I've introduced Blockupload so people could upload files to the BCH Testnet chain," Deswurstes detailed on Sunday. "This week I've changed it so that we can show the power of on-chain scaling by making it work on the real Bitcoin Cash."

In order to give our readers some insight into this new project, news.Bitcoin.com tested Blockupload Sunday afternoon. The platform is fairly intuitive and users simply choose a file of up to 1MB in size to upload and Blockupload will tell them how much it costs to embed the file. Users must check the disclosure tab, however, which explains that the uploader understands files should not infringe copyright law and cannot contain classified information. All of the content added to the BCH chain is solely the uploader's responsibility, the website details.

After choosing a file (a rare Pepe GIF) that was 899KB in size to test the app's features, the platform generated an invoice address after "Continue" was pressed. In order to upload the Pepe GIF, the invoice asked for 0.04BCH or roughly $15 to embed it into the chain. Once the transaction is paid, the platform gives the user a window to add a change address during the end of the process as well. Following the change address output, Blockupload gives the user a hash so anyone can download the specific file after it's broadcasted.

'All Mimsy Were the Borogoves': The Debate Over Uploading Arbitrary Data
Because $15 is pretty expensive to add an animated Pepe GIF to the chain, a text file was uploaded instead. Blockupload provides users with a notepad-like window so they can type or copy and paste any text they want into the upload window. The Blockupload platform will then convert the writing into a .txt file. Uploading a text file is significantly cheaper than embedding a larger file as the price to upload the Jabberwocky poem is only around 0.0002BCH or 6 cents.

The Jabberwocky poem is a very short nonsensical piece of writing by Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland. The poem's text can be found in this specific BCH address and the hash from that address can be used to download its .txt file using Blockupload. In the address' output section where the poem is located, the Op_Return can be seen in the UTXO data.

On social media forums like Reddit's r/btc, the platform was welcomed by some but not by others. Some BCH fans expressed the opinion that using IPFS is a better and far cheaper alternative. The cost to use Bitcoin Files is a good example compared to the cost of a 1MB upload on Blockupload, which is currently around $15. BCH developer Jonathan Toomim explained that the Sia protocol would be even more appropriate to use than IPFS. Meanwhile, other people thought the idea was great for anti-censorship and one person emphasized that right now the biggest threat on the web is censorship with scary regulations like EU's Articles 11 and 13. Essentially, they believe that individuals and organizations will pay for immutability if the web becomes far more censored in the future.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Brexit Chaos, Boost for Bitcoin Price?

 

Bitcoin price breaking $5,000 has everyone and their mum scrambling around to work out what might have caused it. Let's take a look at some of the key contenders (Brexit included), before settling this once and for all.

BECAUSE… APRIL FOOLS JOKE?
One of the first suggestions to hit crypto-Twitter can be blamed on the breakout's unfortunate timing. Yep, Bloomberg and The Telegraph even went as far as reporting that the whole thing could be down to an April Fools joke. The joke in question? A spoof article on Finance Magnates, claiming that the SEC had approved two Bitcoin ETFs in an emergency Sunday night meeting.

There are two problems with the theory: Firstly, Finance Magnates. Fair play to FM for the gag (it was certainly one of the most creative in the crypto-space this year). However, the idea that the whole crypto-verse read that article, and despite nobody else reporting the story, decided to buy, buy, buy… Nah.

Secondly, it didn't actually happen on April 1st; or at least not before midday, wherever in the world you are. By that time the article had been updated to include very obvious [April Fools] spoilers.

BECAUSE… BREXIT?
Now, we're being led to believe that Brexit might be to blame… bless the Dutch. The idea behind this theory is that, due to the uncertainty over Brexit, Brits are following the example of Venezuela and going all in on Bitcoin.

Plausible? Of course not; whilst the fate of the UK (and the pound) is uncertain, it isn't in the same league as some South American economies. And of course, there's an easy way to check; as the UK (and only the UK), uses pounds sterling, we can see if the flow of pounds into bitcoin is even visible on this chart. [spoiler alert: it isn't]

The consensus, of course, is wrong. I have privately suggested that the start of the thaw occurred when I said it did, and this latest spike is just an acceleration of that. But that was based on 15-month highs in volume, and we all know we can't trust volume anymore.

THE REAL REASON
In truth, Samson Mow came closest, with his tongue-in-cheek tweet that the price spike "was caused by more people buying and holding."

So if you want a definitive answer, here it is. The bitcoin price broke out because there wasn't enough supply to meet the demand at a lower price. In fact, considerable support built up at sub-$4k price levels. Then, as price broke through key resistance, demand increased further (possibly through a little FOMO), and there still wasn't enough supply to fulfill what turned into panic buying.

Is that enough to break the bear market. We'll have to wait and see. But that's why the price went up… and if you were expecting something more than that, you probably believed that it was the April Fools joke.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Data Shows Short-Term Crypto Tax Filers Increase, But Lots of Investors Still Won't File

 


According to personal finance firm Credit Karma Tax, filers who reported short-term capital losses for cryptocurrencies in the first month of 2019 jumped fivefold year-over-year. After the incredibly bearish crypto markets of 2018, data from early tax filers highlights the fact that more investors are claiming losses this tax season. However, a survey the company recorded back in November found that the number of people deciding not to file crypto taxes has increased.

Last April, as tax season approached, news.Bitcoin.com reported on how many cryptocurrency holders didn't really care. At the time, the general manager of Credit Karma Tax, Jagjit Chawla, explained that out of 250,000 cryptocurrency holders, less than 100 people (0.0004%) reported their gains to the IRS. The tax season in 2019, however, has seen an increase of individuals reporting short-term capital losses. Sharing the data with our newsdesk, the company said that filers who reported short-term capital losses for bitcoin in the first month of 2019 jumped 521 percent in comparison to the first month of 2018. Moreover, short-term BTC losses averaged $3,405, which is a 322 percent increase since last year's tax season.

"Short-term bitcoin gains declined during the first month of the 2019 filing season, with a net 7% decrease in the average amount of gains," the report reads. "However, 33% more early filers reported short-term gains year-over-year." The document's author notes:

Investors with long-term gains are the winners so far this tax season, with early filers reporting an average gain of $15,352 during the first month of the 2019 filing season — up 103% from the same period last year.

Out of 1,000 bitcoin investors, 47 percent of respondents stated they did not plan on reporting crypto gains or losses.
Despite Increase in Short-Term Filings, Survey Reveals 47% of U.S. Investors Still Plan to Skip Paying Crypto Taxes
The methodology Credit Karma Tax used stems from data from members who filed their 2018 federal income taxes with the company between January 28 and February 22, 2019. This is in comparison to tax filers who submitted their 2017 taxes with the firm between January 29 and February 22, 2018. So year after year, data shows that people are claiming gains and losses more so than 2018 and 2017. However, the amount of people paying taxes on crypto assets is still incredibly small compared to the number of investors. In November of 2017, a Lendedu survey of 1,000 U.S. residents showed that 35.87 percent of the survey participants responded, "No, I do not plan on reporting gains or losses on my tax return."

The data from Credit Karma Tax published on April 3 reveals that these numbers could be climbing higher. In November 2018, the company surveyed 1,000 bitcoin investors aged 18 and older and discovered 47 percent of U.S. based investors did not plan on reporting crypto gains or losses. "More than a third of those surveyed were unaware they could be required to report the same on their tax returns," the firm's report reveals. Last year a few bitcoin proponents got extremely salty with the previous year's survey which showed lots of crypto holders were not paying taxes, so the increase last year may infuriate them.

Many crypto investors despise taxation and believe that bitcoin was meant to be used as a tool to protest such acts.
In fact, for many people in the bitcoin world, the idea of crypto and taxes is like mixing oil with water. Only recently, bitcoiners have been discussing how crypto taxation is actually the biggest hindrance to digital currency adoption. So the steady increase of bitcoin holders that do not plan to report losses and gains to the IRS suggests that people may be thinking twice about paying into a blatantly corrupt and immoral system.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Crescent Cash Becomes the Third BCH Light Client to Adopt Cash Accounts

 

There's a new open source bitcoin cash (BCH) wallet called Crescent Cash which uses the Cash Accounts protocol by default. The new application was designed by the programmer Pokkst who built the wallet for simplicity by allowing BCH users to send funds to a specific username as opposed to a long alphanumeric address.

On Monday, April 1, the programmer behind the recently published Bchgallery wallet released a new wallet called Crescent Cash, a light client dedicated to the Cash Accounts username system. Crescent Cash is open source and noncustodial like traditional BCH wallets and the application also supports the standard BCH address format Cashaddr. The application's first release for Android is available on the Google Play store and Pokkst believes the wallet is simple and secure while combining the "simplicity of traditional, centralized money apps with the security of trustless Bitcoin wallets." Pokkst explained on the Reddit forum r/btc that he spent a few sleepless nights powered by soda while he was coding up the application for release.

The app, which is only 6.5 megabytes in size, takes just a minute to download and roughly another minute to create a new wallet. The Crescent Cash wallet creates a Cash Accounts username after you choose the handle you desire. After deciding on a username, the application registers the new name with the Cash Accounts system. Users can immediately see that the name was broadcast into the Bitcoin Cash blockchain after the wallet has been created on Crescent Cash. While testing the application's functionality, I registered the name 'Jamiecrypto' with the Crescent Cash app. While the transaction is unconfirmed it doesn't have an associated number. Following confirmation, the registered name 'Jamiecrypto#12871' was filed into the BCH chain for the rest of time.

Pressing the info tab reveals the wallet's private key and Pokkst plans to add a warning to this section and other improvements to Crescent Cash v1.1.0.

To send BCH to another Cash Accounts user, simply type their username into the address field which also supports a standard address and QR code scanning abilities. With Crescent Cash, the wallet's private key is stored on the device and the app's website notes that the wallet provider has no access to recovery seeds. Because Crescent Cash is a very basic wallet with the bare minimum functions, the user has to open the settings section within the wallet in order to jot down the mnemonic seed phrase. The application also provides an xpub address that can be used for other compatible wallet applications. It's important to write down the mnemonic seed phrase because like unlike other wallets the client does not make you verify that it is correct.

The Crescent Cash wallet is fairly intuitive, even for people just getting into the cryptocurrency space. The client with the predominately green and white design is very similar to Ifwallet and Yenom wallet's simplicity. Right now the Cash Accounts protocol designed by Jonathan Silverblood is still very new and the system needs more time to catch on. However, Crescent Cash is the third wallet to implement Silverblood's Cash Accounts protocol following Bchgallery and the Chinese BCH light client Ifwallet. Many of the new BCH-fueled ideas like the Simple Ledger Protocol and others are still nascent concepts and it will take time for them to make a lasting impression. The noncustodial Crescent Cash wallet is helping bolster the idea of more simplistic usernames within the crypto ecosystem. Pokkst has detailed that the next release, Crescent Cash v1.1.0, is already in the works with "a lot of improvements."

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Indian Supreme Court Takes Too Long on Crypto Case - Exchange Shuts Down

 



The inaction of India's supreme court to end the prolonged banking restriction has forced another cryptocurrency exchange to shut down. The exchange has given its users 30 days to withdraw funds at increased fees, prompting several other exchanges to offer to refund these fees for customers switching to them.

Coindelta Shuts Down
Indian crypto exchange Coindelta announced its service termination on Saturday. The exchange wrote, "we will no longer be able to provide exchange services for cryptocurrencies," elaborating:

The curb on the bank accounts by RBI has made us handicapped in order to provide seamless deposit and withdrawal services. There has not been any significant progress in the supreme court case which makes it difficult to predict when we will see the regulation.

The central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), issued a circular in April last year banning banks from providing services to crypto businesses including exchanges. The ban went into effect in July and banks closed the accounts of crypto exchanges at that time.

The banking restriction has put many crypto businesses in limbo. Zebpay, formerly one of the largest crypto exchanges in India, was forced to close down its exchange operations in the country in September last year.

A number of industry participants have filed writ petitions against the ban which the supreme court originally scheduled to hear in September last year. However, the case has repeatedly been postponed. During the most recent hearing which took place on Friday, the court adjourned without addressing the ban until at least July.

Expensive to Run an Exchange
The team at Coindelta, an 18-month-old exchange, explained that "Running the exchange is very expensive in such [an] unfavourable environment." Noting that "We have been operating at a minimal trade fee, bearing all the costs ourselves ensuring that your trading experience remains unaffected in the current unregulated environment," the team admitted:

It has been really difficult for us to operate Coindelta exchange for the last 6 months … Economically, it's no longer viable to continue with the exchange.

According to Saturday's announcement, Coindelta's exchange services were suspended and all open orders canceled in all markets at 2:00 p.m. (Indian time) on March 30. However, the wallet services will continue until April 29.

Customers Forced to Withdraw Funds at High Fees
Coindelta has requested that its customers withdraw all their funds within 30 days of the suspension, after which all requests must be submitted to support. "There will be a fixed fee applicable on all the withdrawals," the exchange warned.

According to the Indian crypto community, these fees are high compared to what other exchanges are charging. For example, "they increased the XRP withdrawal fees to 10 XRP," Coindcx CEO Sumit Gupta told news.Bitcoin.com, emphasizing that this fee is "a lot" since his exchange charges 0.01 XRP for withdrawals. Coindelta's BTC withdrawal fee is 0.002 BTC, worth about $8.19 at the time of writing.

Nischal Shetty, CEO of crypto exchange Wazirx, tweeted that he "Got many messages that withdrawal fees from Coindelta have been increased," adding that his exchange is offering Coindelta's users 100 percent refund of withdrawal fees if they switch to Wazirx.

Another Indian exchange, Bitbns, has made a similar offer. "We are waiving off/refunding any fee incurred while depositing funds to Bitbns from any other cryptocurrency exchange across the world. This means you can now transfer your funds from any crypto exchange to Bitbns without bearing any transfer charges," the exchange announced on Sunday.