Brazil: Antitrust Watchdog Sends Questions to Crypto Exchanges After Bank Account Closures

Brazil: Antitrust Watchdog Sends Questions to Crypto Exchanges After Bank Account Closures

Brazil’s antitrust regulator has sent a questionnaire to crypto exchanges whose banks accounts have previously been closed, major Brazilian financial newspaper Valor Economico reports Tuesday, October 20. The Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), operated by the local Ministry of Justice, sent the questionnaire to ten companies: Bitcoin Market, Bitcambio, BitcoinTrade, Foxbit, Walltime, Braziliex, BitBlue, Open Digital Capital (OTC), e-juno, and Profitfy. The move comes shortly after CADE launched a probe into six major banks to find out whether they had closed accounts for crypto exchanges. The initial request, sent by the Brazilian Association of Cryptomoedas and Blockchain (ABCB), claimed that Banco do Brasil had closed the account of crypto exchange Atlas Quantum. CADE has set Friday, Oct. 19, as a deadline to respond to the questions, noting that the companies will be fined up to 5,000 Brazilian reals (approximately $1,300) if they fail to send in answers. The penalty could be increased up to 20 times if necessary, reaching 100,000 reals (around $25,800), CADE clarifies. In the questionnaire, the exchanges have to reveal the identity of those who will answer the questions, local Brazilian crypto outlet Portal do Bitcoin writes. Furthermore, they must explain how their business functioned in Brazil and clarify if they were unable to open a bank account, or if the account was closed by some financial institution. According to Portal do Bitcoin, one of the reasons why banks may have decided to close the crypto exchanges’ accounts was that they did not comply with the National Classification of Economic Activity. For these reasons, the questionnaire touches on the issue of how the exchanges declared their activity to banks while registering their accounts. As Cointelegraph reported earlier, another South American country, Chile, has also faced a legal battle between banks and crypto exchanges. A group of exchanges applied to the courts to fight multiples banks’ decision to shut down their accounts. At the end of April, Chile’s anti-monopoly court ordered two banks to re-open crypto exchange Buda’s accounts.

Bitcoin’s Price Is Testing a Month-Long Trend Line

Bitcoin’s Price Is Testing a Month-Long Trend Line

Bitcoin bears have been emboldened by repeated rejection from a key moving average hurdle, but they may take a breather over the next 24 hours as the price heads for another key trendline of support. The world’s premier cryptocurrency is lacking a strong bullish or bearish bias in the near-term given that its price action has largely traded sideways since the beginning of September. That said, the repeated failure to find sustained acceptance above the 50-day moving average and $6,850 resistance gives the upper hand to bears, as it indicates that the path of least resistance is still to the downside. Bulls might be ready to fight back, however, after bouncing off of a month-long ascending support trendline that has allowed prices to form a series of higher-lows. As of writing, BTC is changing hands at $6,506 on Bitfinex, after having bounced off of the support trendline at $6,424 earlier today. Daily chart As seen above in the daily chart, any bullish momentum for BTC has been halted by the 50-day moving average and $6,850 resistance zone. It’s worth noting the moving average convergence divergence (MACD) is also nearing a bearish cross which may hint at more downside action to come. However, the bearish MACD cross has yet to be confirmed. On top of that, bulls may be able to put up a fight by finding support on the ascending trendline that has been in effect since Sept 8th. Bitcoin’s price has been able to form a higher low on the trendline three times in the past, so making a fourth is not out of the question. Also of note: the compressing relative strength index (RSI) and narrowest Bollinger Band width since Dec. 2016 suggest price is overdue for volatility. 4-hour chart Having failed to find acceptance above the 200 EMA on the 4-hour chart, again, confirms the path to the upside remains filled with obstacles. That said, it is evident that bears have not yet gained full control since a near oversold 4-hr RSI – when combined with the ascending support – has allowed the price to form a series of higher lows. Currently, in a stalemate, bears will look to extend losses to the previous higher low of $6,328 if price finds acceptance…

Retail Brokerage TD Ameritrade Backs New Crypto Exchange

Retail Brokerage TD Ameritrade Backs New Crypto Exchange

Brokerage firm TD Ameritrade is investing in a brand new cryptocurrency exchange, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Dubbed ErisX, the exchange will allow investors to trade bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, litecoin and bitcoin, as well as bitcoin futures, a spokesperson told the news source. The exchange, built by derivatives market provider Eris Exchange, is also backed by DRW Holdings and Virtu Financial. Adding more detail, the report indicates that the futures contracts traded by the exchange in particular will be physically delivered, not cash-settled. Moreover, while at present TD Ameritrade customers can trade bitcoin futures contracts through the Cboe market, managing director J.B. Mackenzie told Reuters that ErisX may also allow customers to trade ethereum and litecoin futures eventually. TD Ameritrade executive vice president of trading and education Steve Quirk told Bloomberg that “our retail clients are seeking to access and trade digital currency products in the same way they do with traditional capital markets – through a legitimate, regulated and transparent exchange.” ErisX is currently in the process of self-certifying its futures contracts with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and will clear its derivatives products through its parent firm’s clearinghouse if and when it is approved. Should the CFTC give ErisX the go-ahead, it will begin cash-trading processes sometime from March to June next year, and begin trading derivatives in the second half of the year. TD Ameritrade image via Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

CFTC Chair Explains Why US Has Regulated Bitcoin Futures but Not Bitcoin ETFs

CFTC Chair Explains Why US Has Regulated Bitcoin Futures but Not Bitcoin ETFs

Regulation The chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has explained why bitcoin futures have been approved in the U.S. but bitcoin ETFs have not. He also shared his thoughts on the future of cryptocurrencies and how they can potentially solve currency-related problems in as much as two-thirds of the world’s countries. Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals Bitcoin Futures vs Bitcoin ETFs CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo. CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo discussed on Monday why there are bitcoin futures trading on regulated exchanges in the U.S. but not bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). While bitcoin is a commodity, bitcoin ETFs are securities under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In an interview with CNBC, Giancarlo explained the disparity. “We are old agencies, our statutes are written in the 1930s,” he began, adding that the two agencies are trying to work with statutes that were written when there were no innovations that exist today. He then elaborated: More broadly, the SEC, their oversight is over capital formation markets with a big retail focus. Ours, at the CFTC, our focus is on risk transfer markets and we are always focused on derivatives and a lot of that is institutional trading. So we are focused on institutional investments, they are focused on retail. He further pointed out that the CFTC and the SEC have “different orientations, different histories, so we do come at these things from different perspectives.” CFTC’s Regulatory Focus Sharing the regulatory focus of his agency, Giancarlo detailed, “We are very focused on the fraud and manipulation aspects of cryptocurrency markets right now.” He then referred to the recent landmark ruling involving My Big Coin. “Last week, we just won a big victory in the federal court in Boston, certifying our authority to prosecute fraud and manipulation in the crypto space,” he described, adding that “We have been very active at it.” Noting that his agency is balancing between regulation and innovations, the chairman claimed: It’s the United States that’s gone forward with the very first bitcoin derivatives, with bitcoin futures trading on the CME and also bitcoin options and bitcoin clearing – we are ahead of the world in that. There is no question that the…

US Brokerage Firm TD Ameritrade to Invest in New Crypto Exchange

US Brokerage Firm TD Ameritrade to Invest in New Crypto Exchange

Retail brokerage firm TD Ameritrade has announced that it is backing new crypto exchange ErisX, according to a press release published on the company’s website Wednesday, October 3. TD Ameritrade, which currently provides investment services to up to 11 million clients, did not reveal the details of the deal. However, according to Bloomberg, investing company DRW Holdings and high-speed trader Virtu Financial are also participating with investments. Both agreed to be market makers for ErisX, which might help ensure a deep order book, Bloomberg writes. ErisX, a reboot of traditional futures market Eris Exchange launched back in 2010, is going to announce its business plan later today, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has learned. The exchange is expected to start a direct sale of cryptocurrencies along with futures contracts in early 2019. As Bloomberg notes, it will allow investors to trade in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC). The head of futures and foreign exchange trading at TD Ameritrade, J.B. Mackenzie, told WSJ that the brokerage firm wanted to convert cryptocurrency into “something they [investors] feel comfortable with in regulated space.” As cited by Bloomberg, another TD Ameritrade official, executive vice president of trading and education Steve Quirk, stated that the brokerage clients had expressed interest in coin trading, noting: “Our retail clients are seeking to access and trade digital currency products in the same way they do with traditional capital markets — through a legitimate, regulated and transparent exchange.” As Cointelegraph has reported earlier, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) launched BTC futures trading back in December — a move that attracted so much trading volume that the CBOE website temporarily went down. In early January, Cointelegraph wrote that the release of BTC futures might indicate that even more traditional institutions on Wall Street might want to recognize BTC as a legitimate asset. Later that month, CBOE closed its first Bitcoin futures contract at $10,900.

Ripple Grapples With Its $21 Billion ‘Gorilla’: Crypto Asset Adoption

Ripple Grapples With Its $21 Billion ‘Gorilla’: Crypto Asset Adoption

The organizers of Ripple’s two-day Swell conference in San Francisco didn’t beat around the bush when they named the final panel of the event “The 800-Pound Gorilla.” The question of crypto asset adoption was certainly on many of the attendees’ minds, especially since Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse announced the previous day that xRapid, the company’s product the leverages the XRP cryptocurrency for “on-demand liquidity” in cross-border payments, is now being used in commercial payments by three companies. At the time of the event, the combined value of all XRP in circulation was worth roughly $21 billion, with each asset trading for around $0.50. XRP previously traded at above $3.50 earlier in the year (at a $130 billion market capitalization) and at around $0.20 at the time of its inaugural Swell conference last year. Widely circulated estimates suggest Ripple owns as much as 60 percent of the overall market for the asset, though many remain under trading restrictions. Representatives of two of the companies in question were on the panel: Brad Ganey, COO of Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union, and Nicolas Palacios, CFO of Cuallix. (The third company using xRapid commercially is MercuryFX.) They were joined by Kwon Park, head of business development at Bittrex, a cryptocurrency exchange that has partnered with Ripple to facilitate the fiat-to-XRP transactions at the center of xRapid; and Alfredo O’Hagan, SVP of payment services at IDT, a telecoms firm that provides international payment services and has trialed xRapid in the past. As might be expected from a group that uses cryptocurrencies in their businesses, the panelists were mostly enthusiastic about the adoption of digital, cryptographic assets in cross-border payments. “There’s a big difference” between xRapid and traditional systems such as SWIFT, said Palacios, in terms of “cost efficiency, time efficiency, transparency” and customer experience. “We see a lot of competitive advantage to this moving forward,” Ganey said of xRapid, given that sending international wires is costly, time-consuming and “not the cleanest process.” Rather than thinking of the service as a totally new or alien technology, he added, it may be better to describe it as “a digital wire. It’s a faster wire.” Garlinghouse perhaps captured the unsatisfactory nature of the incumbent payment infrastructure on the first day of the conference, when he said that…

US Lawmakers Push for ‘Blockchain’ Definition in New Congressional Bill

US Lawmakers Push for ‘Blockchain’ Definition in New Congressional Bill

A bipartisan bill recently introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives proposes creating a “consensus-based definition of blockchain.” Representatives Doris Matsui and Brett Guthrie – both members of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Communications and Technology and Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection – submitted the legislation Monday. If passed and signed into law, bill H.R. 6913, dubbed the Blockchain Promotion Act of 2018, would create a working group to study the technology and create a common definition for the purposes of government. Moreover, the group would go as far as proposing possible recommendations for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission to study how blockchain can be used by the administration. Saying “blockchain technology could transform the global digital economy,” Matsui commented: “Opportunities to deploy blockchain technology ranges from greatly increased transparency, efficiencies and security in supply chains to more-opportunistically managing access to spectrum. This bipartisan bill will bring a broad group of stakeholders together to develop a common definition of blockchain, and, perhaps even more importantly, recommend opportunities to leverage the technology to promote new innovations.” Her co-sponsor, Guthrie, added that blockchain “can be a great resource for innovation and technology,” noting, however, that the government first needs to establish how best to leverage the tech. Like Matsui, he noted that it may play a role in an increasingly digital economy. The two join other lawmakers in introducing legislation to promote blockchain. Last month, Congressman Tom Emmer introduced three bills of his own aimed at supporting development of the technology, though they focus more specifically on cryptocurrencies. Two of Emmer’s bills touch on issues such as cryptocurrency taxation and ensuring miners need not register as money transmitters. The third simply advocates for “light touch” regulation on the space. U.S. Capitol Building image via Chris Parypa Photography/Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Bitcoin Cash Speaker Series II Brings Leading BCHers Together

Bitcoin Cash Speaker Series II Brings Leading BCHers Together

News Later this month, the London Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Speaker Series II will take place at Huckletree Shoreditch. It’s one of the final times representatives from Coingeek and Bitcoin.com, among other BCH enthusiasts, will meet prior to the November 15th hard fork. Though not overtly about forks, it is a chance for the public to hear thoughts from important developers and marketers about the future of decentralized digital currency. Also read: Colombia Crypto Exchange Asks New President for Banking Help Bitcoin Cash Speaker Series II in London at the End of This Month Mark Hebblewhite, Head of Marketing at Coingeek.com, Gabriel Cordona, Senior BCH Developer at Bitcoin.com and Founder of Bitbox, Alex Agut & Rafael Seibane, Founders of Hand Cash, and Alejandro De La Torre, VP Business and Operations of BTC.com, are part of the lineup set for Thursday, October 25th, 6pm to 9pm, in London for the second Bitcoin Cash Speakers Series. According to organizers at Cryptartica and Coingeek, supported by partners Bitcoin Cash Association (BCA) and Bitcoin.com, the event is “a follow-up to the first Speaker Series event. The series aims to cover the recent BCH ecosystem development and to nurture the local BCH community in London.” Cryptartica, a co-organizer, bills itself as “early adopters of” Bitcoin Cash, and a “first Bitcoin Cash store.” They’re a “platform in which independent designers can earn cryptocurrency by turning their unique ideas into high-quality and customization products.” BCH shirts, mugs, posters, and assorted swag can all be found on their site. Coingeek, the other principal organizer, is part of the Ayre Group, and it has a news site, a Citizenship Investment Program, a BCH Mining Pool, and it routinely organizes well-attended BCH-related conferences around the world. A Comprehensive Evening “The first part of the evening,” organizers explain, “will focus on BCH adoption. Mark from Coingeek and Gabriel from Bitbox will discuss about how their companies/projects help spread BCH adoption.” Gabriel Cardona’s Bitbox claims to solve BCH developer redundancies, making it theoretically easier to build applications, and has over 40,000 downloads through more than 100 countries. He’s also traveling the world explaining Wormhole, a BCH way to tokenize on-chain.   The event also includes Brew Dog, “the first major brewery to accept cryptocurrency, will also speak about their…

Wave of Mobile Tax Hikes Squeeze Africa’s Poor to Indulge Governments

Wave of Mobile Tax Hikes Squeeze Africa’s Poor to Indulge Governments

Emerging Markets A smart robber fleeces you with a pen and a handshake. From Zimbabwe to Kenya, Uganda to Benin, African governments are on a tax-raising spree, looking for easy money, ostensibly to help fund successive revenue shortfalls and budget deficits. Often, the money ends up being misappropriated by corrupt public officials. The best weapon in government hands is now your mobile phone – the closest thing most citizens in the continent have to a functional bank account. Also read: Banks, Money Mules And Front Companies Aid Terrorists in Conflict Zones Launder Money Milking the Poor: African Governments Enforce a Raft of New Taxes on Mobile Money Faced with the informalization of the economy and a record increase of mobile money transactions, as citizens pull their own weight against unemployment and financial exclusion, taxmen in Africa have pitched up on the last frontier, punishing the poor who are often denied cash rewards for their labor. In Zimbabwe, finance minister Mthuli Ncube this week increased taxes on mobile money transfers to 2% on each dollar from the previous flat 5% on the amount transferred, joining an expanding list of African governments intent on squeezing every dollar from impoverished citizens. The new tax looks like a reduction. It is not. It is a rise in all costs for every transaction. For every dollar spent, Zimbabweans now have to pay 2 cents. In the past, they paid only 5 cents for every transaction, including those exceeding $1. With 96% of transactions in Zimbabwe done electronically, the new tax means that citizens, already battling severe cash shortages, will have to pay more each time they buy bread or fuel or transfer money to a relative, by mobile or bank. The latest increase doesn’t account for the 15% VAT levied on goods and services, and a slew of taxes already charged by mobile carriers and banks, such as balance enquiry. It also means easy revenue for the government. So far this year, cashless transactions have reached 1.7 billion, said the finance minister, compared to just 50 million four years earlier. That’s the equivalent of $64 billion moved via mobile phones and other electronic means by the end of June, according to data from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. If the 2%…

Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work Can Be Made More Efficient, IBM Research Claims

Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work Can Be Made More Efficient, IBM Research Claims

Proof-of-work (PoW), the consensus mechanism that secures bitcoin and numerous other cryptocurrency blockchains, has given the technology a reputation for hogging energy. Indeed, a commonly advanced argument is that an army of specialized computers all racing to solve some arbitrary math problem can wind up using as much electricity as a small country. However, scientists from IBM Research, the tech giant’s R&D arm, claim to have found a way to reshape and combine blockchain architectures including PoW, arriving at what they call in a paper a “sweet spot” for energy efficiency, scalability and security. Announced Wednesday, their discovery stems from applying PoW to a very different use case, the internet of things (IoT), and would run blockchain nodes inside the connected devices.  The problem they faced is that, unlike specialized PoW mining hardware for cryptocurrencies such as ASICs and GPUs, IoT devices vary widely in their computational power and energy resources. After all, IoT is a broad category that includes everything from pocket-sized temperature sensors to internet-connected automobiles. As such, all or some of the devices in an IoT network might not be able to solve very complex PoW puzzles. Hence the impetus to make PoW energy-efficient, according to the IBM researchers’ paper:  “Efficiency in IoT can be defined as an optimal utilization of hardware resources and energy. Therefore, in order to achieve that, the IoT devices on the blockchain should optimally utilize resources and energy to maintain and progress the blockchain.” Their proposed solution takes advantage of the fact that not all nodes on a network have to engage in mining. (Many dedicated bitcoin users, for example, simply run full nodes to check miners’ work and keep them honest.) Working on a testnet, or simulated blockchain environment, the IBM researchers have been dividing the nodes into small groups of 250 to 1,000 and then allowing an algorithm to decide what proportion of each group should be doing the mining work, depending on the amount of power used by each node and the security required. This, they say, gains optimum results in terms of conserving power while preserving security. “At the moment we look at blockchains like totally flat peer-to-peer systems, in which all the nodes have to do the same things, compete against each other to get that mining reward, for…