New Ripple-Led Advocacy Group to Pay Lobbyists in XRP

New Ripple-Led Advocacy Group to Pay Lobbyists in XRP

Ripple is leading a number of organizations launching a lobbying group in Washington D.C., Business Standard reported Friday. Dubbed Securing America’s Internet of Value Coalition (SAIV), the group includes, apart from Ripple, the RippleWorks Foundation; Coil, a company developing a solution for digital payments; Hard Yaka, an investment firm focusing on digital assets; and PolySign, a company seeking to be a crypto custodian. Most of the participants have links to Ripple; for example, Coil was founded by the former CTO at Ripple Stefan Thomas and Hard Yaka has been working on a prepaid card allowing users to spend Ripple balances in real time. Together the startups hope to influence the regulation of crypto in an environment when “policymakers in Congress and government agencies examine this new technology and wrestle with a regulatory regime that must be updated to meet the needs of this global financial transition”, the SAIV’s press release says. SAIV will aim to promote “a vision of a fair and equitable Internet of Value,” standard and consistent rules for all major protocols, clarification of custodian rules and “fair and equitable IRS regulations for capital gains, assets and charitable contributions.” To that end, the coalition has hired lobbying firm Klein/Johnson Group, a bipartisan lobby shop focusing on issues related to technology and financial services and boasting Oracle as one of its clients. Klein/Johnson was founded by former staffers of senators John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer. Notably, the firm is going to be paid $25,000 a month, as well as 10,000 XRP – the Ripple-linked open-source crypto token worth $0.54 at press time. Paying lobbyists in tokens gives a certain advantage, said Chris Larsen, executive chairman of Ripple, continuing: “It gives them some upside and gives them some risk. Hopefully it gives them a taste of the industry in a way that hits home.” He admitted that lobbying for crypto-related issues isn’t easy currently, but “there is a lot of interest in this topic in D.C.” PolySign CEO Jack McDonald said in a statement that digital assets will “only reach their full potential/adoption when we achieve widespread education and understanding as well as institutional-grade infrastructure in the industry.” SAIV will focus its efforts on working with US policy makers and government agencies “who can help us…

Michael Arrington’s VC Firm to Leave US Following Subpoena

Michael Arrington’s VC Firm to Leave US Following Subpoena

Digital asset management firm Arrington XRP Capital may be poised to cease funding any U.S.-based startups. Partner and founder Michael Arrington tweeted Friday morning that the company had “received a second subpoena” from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) due to the firm’s role as an investor in a company based in the United States. He added: “The legal costs of dealing with these are not insignificant. We will not invest in any further U.S. deals until the SEC clarifies token rules. Pivot to Asia.” In a follow-up tweet he also noted that Lichtenstein is a country he may look toward. Arrington did not clarify which company is being investigated by the SEC, or what information the firm was told to provide. It was also not clear what the costs were for responding to the subpoena. However, Arrington joins an increasingly large group of members in the crypto community looking for greater clarity from the SEC on how it classifies token sales as securities or non-securities. A group of 15 congressmen wrote a letter to the agency’s chair, Jay Clayton, Friday asking him to more clearly define how the regulator is approaching token sales. Stopping short of providing a deadline for the SEC, it did list a series of questions that lawmakers hope to see answered on when token sales qualify as securities offerings and whether this classification can change over time. Neither Arrington XRP Capital nor its founder commented on the issue after CoinDesk reached out. Michael Arrington image via 360b / 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.

One Musician’s Creative Solution to Drive ASICs Off Monero

One Musician’s Creative Solution to Drive ASICs Off Monero

Algorithms are creative. At least, that’s according to Howard Chu, a monero core developer who has dedicated his time to protecting the crypto from specialized mining hardware, called ASICs, built by a multibillion-dollar mining industry. And recently, Chu found a solution to permanently keep ASICs off the network – a proof-of-work algorithm he calls RandomJS which exploits the fact that the hardware cannot so “multiple things at once.” What’s perhaps most interesting about his algorithm, though, is that he might have only stumbled on the innovation because of his hobby of traditional Irish fiddle playing. From his hometown in Donegal, one of the most rural and musically rich corners of Ireland, Chu told CoinDesk, the algorithm was created with the same imagination he draws on for his musical practice. According to him, music and code are deeply connected at a neurological level, requiring both the logical and creative sides of the brain to function simultaneously. As a result, Chu said there’s a frequent overlap between programming and musical talent – one that he tapped into for the algorithm. “Music is very mathematical, the basis of music is mathematical, but at the same time, there’s a creativity to it,” he told CoinDesk. And with that, Chu created an algorithm that utilizes randomly generated code. Because ASICs can only be designed to work towards one algorithm, using randomly generated code in an algorithm would make ASICs quickly incompatible, and as such, unprofitable. In this way, many developers think ASIC manufacturers would just steer clear of developing hardware for cryptocurrency projects that switch their algorithm frequently. Driving this interest in ASIC-blocking code is mining giant, Bitmain’s inroads into cryptocurrency communities outside bitcoin over the past year. More specifically for Chu, Bitmain released the Antminer X3 ASIC in March that was programmed to run monero’s underlying proof-of-work algorithm, cryptonight. Shortly after monero developers sparked what has become known as crypto’s “war on miners,” by enacting an emergency software upgrade in April to change the cryptocurrency’s algorithm so that the Antminer X3 would be useless on the protocol. Monero developers have since committed to regular software changes to remove any reemergent hardware. But because of the risk that the small software changes monero has committed to may be insufficient to dissuade hardware manufacturers long term, Chu…

Exchanges Roundup: Ledgerx Readies ETH Futures, Coinbase Partners With Caspian

Exchanges Roundup: Ledgerx Readies ETH Futures, Coinbase Partners With Caspian

Exchanges In recent news pertaining to cryptocurrency exchanges, anonymous sources have stated that Ledgerx is preparing to launch ETH futures trading, Coinbase has announced a partnership with Caspian intended to target institutional investors, and the chief executive officer of Binance has shared his opinions regarding “trans-fee mining” and decentralized exchanges. Also Read: European Regulator Renews Restrictions on Crypto-Based Derivatives Ledgerx Reportedly Readying to Launch ETH Futures According to an anonymous source, cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform, Ledgerx, is readying to launch ETH futures. The source states that the company has an Ethereum options product ready for launch, however, is currently awaiting regulatory approval for such. The source added that Ledgerx currently has a meeting with the United States Commodities Futures Trading Commission scheduled for the 5th of October. At the start of September, Business Insider cited anonymous sources in reporting that The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) was readying for the launch of ETH futures markets. The source predicted CBOE’s ETH futures may go live by 2019. Coinbase Partners With Caspian to Target Institutional Investors Major U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, has announced a partnership with Caspian to ”drive institutional participation in crypto.” According to Caspian’s website, the company offers an “institutional grade […] asset management solution that covers the lifecycle of the trade,” with Caspian purporting to currently be providing services to 25 cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance, Bitfinex, Bitmex, and Gemini. The chief executive officer of Caspian, Robert Dykes, stated: “We’re delighted to cement this important partnership with Coinbase, which will see one of the world’s leading digital currency trading venues join forces with one of the most exciting emerging crypto platforms.” Kayvon Pirestani, director of institutional sales at Coinbase, stated: “By working together, Coinbase and Caspian will deliver institutional-grade order and risk management tools to the growing number of professional crypto trading firms around the world. Customers will be able to take advantage of the best elements of both platforms — accessing Coinbase’s extensive historical market data and deep pool of liquidity, and combined with Caspian’s suite of seamless trading tools. We see this partnership as not only a tremendous commercial opportunity, but as a chance to truly move forward the institutional adoption of crypto as a mature, tradable asset class.” Binance CEO: Trans-fee Mining “Not a Threat,” Decentralized…

Popular Bitcoin Wallet Samourai Ditches All Government Currencies

Popular Bitcoin Wallet Samourai Ditches All Government Currencies

Wallets In what could be construed as calling the casual enthusiast’s bluff, BTC maximalists at the Samourai project announced, “All fiat currency conversions have been removed from Samourai Wallet. We understand this may inconvenience some, it may even be enough to cause us to lose some users, but we believe it is fundamental that our existing and future users understand that when they transact within the Bitcoin network, when they participate in the Bitcoin economy, they are transacting with the token native to the Bitcoin network, BTC, and nothing else.” Also read: Colombia Crypto Exchange Asks New President for Banking Help Samourai Wallet Increases Native Languages, Gives Fiat Currencies the Boot “0.98.87 – Welcome new international users, and saying adieu to fiat currency”, came the ad hoc title alerting users to a wallet update through Google Play and Github. The notoriously privacy-obsessed project revealed, “Samourai Wallet is now available in 12 languages with French and Chinese added in this release. These aren’t generic computer translations, these are translations by actual bitcoin users from the local region, and as such are extremely high quality and contextual.” Languages incorporated into the platform now include Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. They claim to have “already seen the side effects with installs increasing dramatically from international user bases with a native translation, usually in places where they need Samourai the most.” And while the above will inevitably lead to more adoption, at least for their wallet, the real tension in the post came with the announcement Samourai was ditching fiat almost entirely. Nearly all cryptocurrency communities have lofty goals of creating their own ecosystem, self-supporting, self-referencing. It appears the Samourai community is tired of debate, of hoping, of dreaming for that future.   Government Money Is a Crutch “In 2015 when we first launched Samourai Wallet,” they continued, “we reasoned that a fiat based conversion rate would be a convenient feature for users who wished to have a rough idea of what their BTC stash was worth in fiat currency at any given time. We said ‘users aren’t ready’ to give up fiat in the wallet, and we ended up including what we called the ‘Street Price’ – the fiat conversion…

Payments Platform Wirex Launches Iban for Spanish and French Users, Doubles Account Limits

Payments Platform Wirex Launches Iban for Spanish and French Users, Doubles Account Limits

News Wirex on Friday announced it had introduced International Bank Account Numbers (Iban) on its Euro accounts for customers in Spain and France. The bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallet firm also doubled account thresholds for users within the 31-member European Economic Area (EEA) to between $18,560 and $20,000, meaning customers can credit their accounts by that much. Also read: Bitcoin Group SE Reports Half Year Profit Surges 300% to $3.85 Million Spanish and French Users of Wirex Now Have Ibans, Spending Limit Doubled London-based Wirex, a crypto-based Visa card payments company, said on September 28 that it had raised the funding limits for account holders in the EEA to £15, 000, €16,000 and $20,000. An Iban, a function which allows for cross-border payments for citizens of the European Union (EU) and elsewhere around the world, has been introduced for users in Spain and France, the company said. According to Wirex co-founder and chief executive officer Pavel Matveev, the development is a result of collaborative efforts “with our financial partners, we have been able to expand our payment offering.”  Matveev said: We want to improve the Wirex experience for all users whilst continuing to bridge the gap between our service and conventional finance platforms.  Surging Demand The Iban is a long list of alphanumeric characters, capturing a series of important data, including country code, check digits and domestic bank account number, which are necessary when making international payments. Ibans were first used by the EU two decades ago to help smoothen across-the-border payments within the economic bloc, but have now expanded to about 70 countries worldwide. Wirex, which had 900,000 customers at the end of 2017, said it had seen a surge in demand for its product offerings, necessitating the 100% account limit spend, but did not provide further detail. The company forecasts demand for its Visa card, which allows for bitcoin and conventional currency payments, to continue to firm. “Our recent steps towards providing a more streamlined and well-rounded service are reflected in the IBAN and account limit updates,” said the company. Wirex reported a few weeks ago it will be expanding operations to Canada after it got a Fintrac and Money Service Business registration in the country. The move will give Wirex access to Canada’s more than 600 different…

European Regulator Renews Restrictions on Crypto-Based Derivatives

European Regulator Renews Restrictions on Crypto-Based Derivatives

Regulation Europe’s securities watchdog, ESMA, has decided to extend the restrictions applied to a number of financial derivatives, including contracts-for-differences (CFDs) based on cryptocurrencies. The limits that were introduced in August of this year will now remain in place until the end of January 2019.   Also read: French Regulator Blacklists More Fraudulent Crypto Businesses ESMA Concerned About CFDs Offered to Retail Clients The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has taken steps to renew the restrictive measures imposed on the marketing, distribution, and sale of contracts-for-differences (CFDs) to retail customers. The restrictions were enforced on August 1 and according to the regulator’s latest decision, will be extended for another three-month period, starting from November 1. In a press release, ESMA says it has “carefully considered the need to extend the intervention measure currently in effect.” The Paris-headquartered agency believes that “a significant investor protection concern related to the offer of CFDs to retail clients continues to exist.” That’s why a renewal of the limitations has been agreed by its Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, September 26, the regulatory body said in the announcement posted on its website this Friday. The restrictions include the obligation to maintain leverage limits on the opening of a position by a retail client. These vary depending on the volatility of the underlying assets: 30:1 for major currency pairs; 20:1 for non-major currency pairs, gold, and major indices; 10:1 for commodities other than gold and non-major equity indices, and 5:1 for individual equities and other reference values. For cryptocurrency-based products, the leverage is limited at 2:1. These restrictions will be valid until January of next year. Other Applicable Limits Remain in Place ESMA’s decision to limit the leverage offered on cryptocurrency CFDs to no more than 2:1 was agreed in March of this year, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. In its announcement back then, the EU institution referred to the restrictions as “temporary product intervention measures on the provision of CFDs and binary options to retail investors.” The ratio means that traders are obliged to provide an initial margin of “50% of the notional value of the CFD when the underlying asset is a cryptocurrency, which is more than the initial margin required of any other CFD. The authority motivated its ruling…

Crypto Accounts for Less Than 1 Percent of Pornhub Purchases

Crypto Accounts for Less Than 1 Percent of Pornhub Purchases

Canadian adult entertainment giant Pornhub has revealed that less than 1 percent of purchases on the platform are made in cryptocurrencies, Hard Fork reported September 28. Despite the low volume of subscriptions paid with crypto, a Pornhub spokesman told Hard Fork that  “[it] expect[s] to see widespread adoption of crypto[currency] and blockchain on our site in the near future.” Pornhub integrated a cryptocurrency payment option in August through a partnership with crypto payment and billing startup PumaPay. Pornhub is reportedly looking to integrate the Ethereum-based payment processor sometime next year. The PumaPay partnership followed a similar agreement with digital currency Verge (XVG) completed in April. The partnership with Verge lets users pay with the coin for Pornhub Premium and all purchases within the product. A PumaPay spokesman told Hard Fork that the company has attracted more than 60 “partners” mostly from the porn industry interested in the integration of PumaPay’s payment solution. The adult entertainment industry has been actively implementing cryptocurrency payment options. Last month, porn website Tube8 revealed plans to create a blockchain-based platform for users to earn crypto tokens as they watch and interact with Tube8 videos through a partnership with Vice Industry Token (VIT). In March, Playboy Enterprises announced it will be developing an online wallet that will allow customers to use crypto to pay for company’s online media and includes support for VIT. The first sector of Playboy to use the crypto wallet was said to be Playboy.TV. The project did not proceed as planned. In August, Playboy brought legal action against the Canadian developer that was responsible for integrating VIT into it’s online media platforms. Playboy accused Global Blockchain Technology of fraud and breach of contract. In January, Cointelegraph reported that the world famous Bunny Ranch brothel was considering to offer a Bitcoin (BTC) payment option due to demands from high-end clients.

US Congressmen Call on SEC for Regulatory Clarity Regarding Cryptocurrencies

US Congressmen Call on SEC for Regulatory Clarity Regarding Cryptocurrencies

A group of lawmakers from the U.S. Congress has sent a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton, calling for regulatory clarity regarding cryptocurrencies, CNBC reported September 28. According to CNBC, more than a dozen congressmen asked Clayton to tell investors how the SEC plans to regulate digital currency. The lawmakers requested clarity on the criteria for identifying digital tokens as “investment contracts” and therefore securities, in addition to a  description of the tools the SEC will use to provide more concrete guidance to innovators in the field. The letter reads: “It is important that all policy makers work toward developing clearer guidelines between those digital tokens that are securities, and those that are not, through better articulation of SEC policy, and, ultimately, through formal guidance or legislation.” The congressmen reportedly expressed their concerns regarding uncertainty surrounding the treatment of offers and sales of digital tokens because, in their view, it impedes innovation in the U.S. and could eventually drive business to other jurisdictions. The congressmen also said in the letter “We… believe that formal guidance may be an appropriate approach to clearing up legal uncertainties which are causing the environment for the development of innovative technologies in the United States to be unnecessarily fraught.” On Sep. 26, congressman Warren Davidson hosted a “crypto roundtable” with over 45 representatives from major Wall Street firms and crypto companies. Experts expressed their concerns regarding possible regulations of the crypto space and told lawmakers that there is a pronounced lack of regulatory clarity for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and digital currencies. Some of the participants argued that current regulations were not only vague, but outdated. Joshua Stein, CEO at crypto-security firm Harbor, stated that securities regulations “do not work” in regard to utility tokens in decentralized apps (DApps). He added that current securities laws are only appropriate for traditional securities, and “they are not good fit” for the ICO industry.

WSJ: $88.6 Million in Illicit Funds Funneled Through Cryptocurrency Exchanges

WSJ: $88.6 Million in Illicit Funds Funneled Through Cryptocurrency Exchanges

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation has found that $88.6 million in ill-gotten funds have been funneled through 46 cryptocurrency exchanges, the WSJ reported September 28. $9 million of the suspect funds reportedly went through crypto exchange ShapeShift. ShapeShift is a Switzerland-based digital currency exchange that was formed in 2014 by Erik Voorhees. Unlike other trading platforms, ShapeShift allows users to anonymously trade Bitcoin (BTC), which police can track, but can not identify the individual behind the transaction. To conduct its investigation of crypto money laundering, WSJ reportedly developed a computer program that tracked funds from over 2,500 suspected investment frauds, blackmail schemes and other alleged crimes that used BTC and Ethereum (ETH). To analyze ShapeShift transactions, WSJ downloaded and stored a list of the 50 latest transactions every 15 seconds, at the exchange’s website. Per WSJ, bad actors took advantage of ShapeShift’s services to convert BTC into an untraceable cryptocurrency Monero. ShapeShift further continued to process “millions” of fraudulently obtained dollars, but did not change its policy regarding users anonymity. In an interview with WSJ, Voorhees said that he does not think that “people should have their identity recorded to catch an occasional criminal.” WSJ subsequently provided ShapeShift with a list of suspicious addresses, which were allegedly using the exchange. Veronica McGregor, the chief legal officer at ShapeShift, told WSJ that the exchange reviewed and banned those addresses. She also said that the company plans to require user identification data starting Oct. 1. Commenting on Voorhees’s views regarding the company’s anonymity policy, McGregor said that “just because it’s the personal philosophy of the CEO doesn’t mean that’s how the business is going to be run. He’s not pro-money-laundering.” While users have not been previously obliged to sign in or register on ShapeShift in order to execute trades, the exchange will gradually introduce ID requirements for traders. Earlier this month, ShapeShift introduced a new rewards program, which will eventually become a mandatory membership model for the exchange’s users and require the provision of “basic” personal information.