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.