Japan’s Financial Regulator Denies Interest in Bitcoin ETF

Japan’s Financial Regulator Denies Interest in Bitcoin ETF

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has denied that it is considering allowing Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETFs), Cointelegraph Japan reports Jan. 9. As Cointelegraph reported Monday, Bloomberg has recently published an article claiming that Japan’s FSA is considering the approval of a Bitcoin ETF, citing an anonymous source. Following the reports, Cointelegraph Japan has contacted the regulator, and the FSA’s representatives have denied Bloomberg’s claims, stating: “At this moment, we are not exploring an approval of ETFs based on crypto assets.” The agency’s staff also told Cointelegraph Japan that they do not know who the person familiar with the matter cited by Bloomberg is. In December 2018, news broke that the FSA is considering placing cryptocurrencies into a new legal category dubbed “crypto-assets.” By classifying crypto this way, the government reportedly “hopes that traders will no longer purchase [cryptocurrencies] believing that they are legal tender recognized by the government.” Back then, an FSA advisory panel has filed a report requesting the change of the term “virtual currency” to prevent such confusion. As Cointelegraph reported Tuesday, Japan’s Financial Services Agency is considering the regulation of unregistered companies soliciting investments in crypto, reportedly in an attempt to close a loophole in the existing local legislation.

European Finance Regulators Call for Bloc-Wide Crypto Rules

European Finance Regulators Call for Bloc-Wide Crypto Rules

Two major European regulators have separately called for cryptocurrency and ICO rules at the EU level. Firstly, the European Banking Authority (EBA), a regulatory agency of the EU, has urged the European Commission to examine whether unified crypto rules are needed across the region. In a report published Tuesday, the EBA said that crypto asset-related activities do not currently fall under existing EU financial laws and, as these activities are “highly risky,” appropriate rules need to be put in place to protect investors. The EBA has, therefore, asked the commission to carry out a “comprehensive” analysis to determine what action may be required at the EU level. Adam Farkas, the EBA’s executive director, said in a statement: “The EBA’s warnings to consumers and institutions on virtual currencies remain valid. The EBA calls on the European Commission to assess whether regulatory action is needed to achieve a common EU approach to crypto-assets. The EBA continues to monitor market developments from a prudential and consumer perspective.” The EBA also advised the commission to take into account recommendations to be issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money-laundering watchdog, in June of this year. The FATF is expected to issue guidance for international cryptocurrency regulation covering crypto exchanges, digital wallet providers and initial coin offerings (ICOs). Meanwhile, throughout 2019, the EBA said it will take a number of steps to monitor the crypto sector, such as developing a common monitoring template for crypto activities, assessing business practices regarding advertisements in the industry, determining the treatment of banks’ holdings or exposures to crypto assets, and more. A second regulatory agency in the economic bloc, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), also published a report on crypto assets and ICOs today. It advises the EU’s Commission, Council and Parliament on the existing rules that could be applied to crypto assets and further sets out any regulatory gaps to consider for policymakers. Notably, it says that some crypto assets could fall under the EU’s MiFID financial framework and be classed as financial instruments, although some adjustments may be required. Steven Maijoor, ESMA chair, said: “Our survey of NCAs highlighted that some crypto-assets may qualify as MiFID financial instruments, in which case the full set of EU financial rules would apply.…

Ukraine: Overregulation Prevents Crypto Development, Says Central Bank Official

Ukraine: Overregulation Prevents Crypto Development, Says Central Bank Official

Overregulation in Ukraine is reportedly preventing the cryptocurrency industry from evolving in the country. An official of the Ukrainian central bank (NBU) told this to a local crypto news outlet LetKnow Tuesday, Jan. 8. Mikhail Vidyakin, the director of the strategy and reform department of NBU, believes there are too many institutions in the country that have the authority to regulate cryptocurrencies. LetKnow has highlighted that there are at least three government organizations in Ukraine that fall under that definition: the NBU, the Ministry of Finance and the National Securities Commission. In order to foster the development of the industry, the number of its potential regulators needs to be reduced, Vidyakin claims. Moreover, Vidyakin believes that Ukraine needs a more clear regulatory framework for crypto, along with better definitions for the industry. The NBU official further commented that he supports regulations that allow the market to grow and that the banks should be open to interacting with the fintech sector. As Cointelegraph reported in October last year, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry of Ukraine has already initiated a state policy for the classification and legalization of crypto-related activities. However, the actual legal framework has not yet been introduced by the government. In September 2018, the parliament of Ukraine proposed a draft bill on cryptocurrency taxation that offered to introduce a five percent tax for individuals and legal entities conducting operations with virtual assets. The draft bill also offered to raise the crypto-related profit tax rate to 18 percent for businesses, starting on Jan. 1, 2024. In the meanwhile, a working group within the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance is discussing guidelines for crypto taxation.

Bitcoin Price Faces Minor Pullback as Indecision Creeps into Market

Bitcoin Price Faces Minor Pullback as Indecision Creeps into Market

With the bitcoin (BTC) market showing signs of indecision, prices could soon retreat back below $4,000. The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization witnessed two-way business yesterday before ending largely unchanged on the day (as per UTC) at $3,995 on Bitstamp. Worryingly for the bulls, BTC created a doji candle on Tuesday – widely considered a sign of indecision in the market – even though a bull flag breakout, witnessed yesterday, had seemingly set the stage for a move above $4,300. Notably, the candlestick pattern appeared at the top of the recent recovery rally and near crucial resistance above $4,100, representing bullish exhaustion. The bears, therefore, have an opportunity to make a slight comeback, especially if buyers fail to keep prices above the previous day’s low of $3,934. As of writing, bitcoin is changing hands at $4,010 on Bitstamp, representing a 0.80 percent gain on a 24-hour basis. Daily chart As seen above, BTC has carved out a doji candle at the confluence of the 50-day exponential moving average (EMA) and the inverse head-and-shoulders neckline resistance. The prospects of a bull breakout above $4,130 (neckline + 50-day EMA) would drop sharply if BTC confirms a bearish doji reversal with a UTC close below $3,934. That will likely put the focus back on the long-term bearish technical setup and allow a drop to $3,566 (Dec. 27 low). It is worth noting that a drop towards $3,566 would imply inverse head-and-shoulders failure, which is widely considered a strong bearish signal. Put simply, the bulls need progress soon. A UTC close above $4,130 would confirm an inverse head-and-shoulders breakout and open the doors for a stronger rally. 4-hour chart BTC witnessed a bull flag breakout on the 4-hour chart yesterday, signaling a resumption of the rally from the Jan. 6 low of $3,753. So far, however, a break above the inverse head-and-shoulders neckline resistance of $4,130 has remained elusive. That said, the bull flag pattern is still valid and would lose credibility only below the previous day’s low of $3,934. View Bullish exhaustion seen at the key hurdle above $4,100 could embolden the bears. A UTC close below $3,934 could yield a drop to $3,566 (Dec. 27 low). A break below that level would violate the bullish-higher low…

Developer Releases Cash-DB, a Terab Project Fork for the BCH Network

Developer Releases Cash-DB, a Terab Project Fork for the BCH Network

Technology On Jan. 7, the technician and researcher Joannes Vermorel announced the release of a new project called Cash-DB, a forked repository for the BCH network which consists of Vermorel’s original Terab Project work. According to the engineer, Cash-DB is a high-performance backend storage protocol for the Bitcoin Cash network’s UTXO set. Also Read: Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals Vermorel Claims ‘Cash-DB Can Process Close to 20,000 Transactions per Second’ Joannes Vermorel.Bitcoin Cash (BCH) proponents were surprised to see the researcher and developer Joannes Vermorel reveal a new project called Cash-DB for the BCH network. News.Bitcoin.com reported on Vermorel’s work in the past when the Terab Project was sponsored by Coingeek and Nchain, well before the Nov. 15 blockchain split. Cash-DB is a fork of the Terab Project which aims to improve BCH throughput performance and optimize backend storage for the UTXO set of Bitcoin Cash. From Vermorel’s standpoint, the protocol can already scale gigabyte sized blocks in an efficient fashion.   “With a single Intel Optane 900P card – about $400 at time of writing – Cash-DB can process close to 20,000 transactions per second, which means that a 1GB Bitcoin block can be processed in 3 min 30 or so,” the researcher’s blog post notes. “Thus, Cash-DB, in its current form, is already scalable enough to process gigabyte blocks at peak network capacity.” According to the creator, Cash-DB is not a “scalability silver bullet” and only can help one part of the scalability challenges the BCH network will face down the line. The throughput of Cash-DB is still too low to handle sustained gigabyte blocks says Vermorel. But the developer says compared to the rate of Visa transactions it “should be enough for now.” Discontinued Sponsorship Following the announcement, some BCH community members were skeptical of Vermorel’s forked project due to his prior relationship with Coingeek and Nchain. When asked why the Terab Project was discontinued, Vermorel replied with a link to the project’s Github repository. The project’s current documentation states: “The sponsorship of Terab by Coingeek and Nchain has been discontinued.” Additionally, Vermorel told his Twitter followers that he had moved his the Lokad 4-byte prefix guideline for BCH OP_Returns to the BCH community repository at Bitcoincash.org. Vermorel…

Pakistani Bank Teams With Alipay for Blockchain Remittances

Pakistani Bank Teams With Alipay for Blockchain Remittances

Pakistan-based Telenor Microfinance Bank, a subsidiary of Norwegian telecoms multinational Telenor Group, has launched cross-border payments using blockchain technology from payments firm Alipay. Claiming it as Pakistan’s first blockchain-based international remittance service, the bank announced Tuesday that the product is a joint effort between Telenor Group’s Malaysian fintech subsidiary Valyou and its Pakistani mobile banking arm Easypaisa, offering real-time money transfers between the two nations. Blockchain will “significantly boost the speed and efficiency” of payments, the bank said in a statement, adding that the money transfers will be “highly secure and transparent.” “Currently, Pakistan receives about $1 billion in home remittances from Malaysia and this Easypaisa-Valyou collaboration is going to change it for the better,” said Roar Bjærum, senior vice president at Telenor Financial Services. “Home remittances contributed to over 6 percent in GDP, equivalent to over 50 percent of our trade deficit, 85 percent of exports and over one-third of imports during FY 2017-18,” added State Bank of Pakistan governor Tariq Bajwa. Alipay, operated by Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial, is said to have waived transaction fees for use of its technology during an initial one-year trial period. “By eliminating intermediary costs, the new remittance service reduces transactional cost for end-users,” the bank said in a statement. While Pakistan appears to be keen on the potential of blockchain technology, it has taken a negative stance of cryptocurrencies to date. Back in April, the country’s central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan, issued a statement barring financial companies in the country from working with cryptocurrency firms. “Any transaction in this regard shall immediately be reported to Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) as a suspicious transaction,” the central bank said at the time. Pakistani rupee image via Shutterstock

Decentralized Exchanges: 2019’s Key to a Dapp Comeback

Decentralized Exchanges: 2019’s Key to a Dapp Comeback

David Lu is a partner at 256 Ventures where he focuses on partnering with early stage blockchain companies and a venture partner at Virgil Capital, a quantitative cryptocurrency hedge fund. Find David on Twitter. The following is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2018 Year in Review. Ethereum and EOS, the two major platforms on which decentralized applications (dapps) are built, have market capitalizations of $15 billion and $2 billion, respectively. But, unfortunately, the number of dapp users simply fails to correlate with the market capitalization or valuations of these projects, with figures ranging in the thousands at best. Whilst it is impressive observing dapps execute functions in a decentralized manner that once required centralized authorities, we’re still many years from seeing their mainstream adoption, setting aside that gambling dapps have seen the highest levels of usage to date. Yet, a class of dapp that we should all be extremely excited about in the short term is the decentralized exchanges. A decentralized exchange is built on the blockchain and allows for the peer-to-peer trading of tokens native to that blockchain. How this works is that the users simply connect their cryptocurrency wallets to the decentralized exchange to begin interacting with the smart contract on it. This process automatically matches, verifies and executes trades without the need of a third-party. Traditionally, DEXs have been built on the ethereum blockchain (Kyber, 0x Protocol, Airswap), however, this has recently extended to other blockchains such as EOS or NEO. As a standalone, the decentralised exchange is a dapp that facilitates liquidity but arguably, their function extends beyond that. Here’s why. Dapps will often require multiple tokens to operate them. You might require the native dapp token, ethereum to send and confirm transactions on the blockchain, a storage token (Sia & Storj) to store the data for the dapp and perhaps a few other tokens depending on the specific needs of the project. The project might have these tokens to power the service on the backend, but it is unlikely that the users of these dapps will have such a portfolio of tokens (on top of having the correct ratios) to operate the application. The dapp can integrate with the DEX, which abstracts all of the tokens to the back end — providing a “just-in-time” mechanism that creates a seamless user…

New Bot Enables Millions to Send and Receive Cryptocurrencies on Facebook Messenger

New Bot Enables Millions to Send and Receive Cryptocurrencies on Facebook Messenger

A company is giving Facebook users a way to securely send and receive crypto through Messenger — all while keeping sensitive information private. Lite.IM says its bot currently supports four cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and its own native currency, ZTX. The company says it is “driven by a vision of what the world might look like if the founding ideals of the cryptocurrency revolution were actually realized” — a place where anyone can enjoy financial freedom irrespective of their technical skills or the region of the world where they reside. A presence on Facebook Messenger is the latest milestone for Lite.IM. Its service was first made available through Telegram, along with old-fashioned text messages. Zulu Republic, the company behind the Lite.IM project, said that support for text messages has been essential in fulfilling its ambition, as it means “anyone with even the most basic mobile phone” can manage their crypto, with or without access the internet. Faster than Facebook The launch on Facebook Messenger means that Lite.IM is more ahead of the curve on crypto payments than Facebook is. Toward the end of last month, Cointelegraph reported on rumors that the social media giant was preparing to create a cryptocurrency for money transfers — geared toward users of Facebook-owned WhatsApp. In a recent blog post, the team behind Lite.IM said: “With each new update, Lite.IM becomes more and more of a user-friendly cryptocurrency powerhouse, moving us closer and closer to widespread adoption. We’re proud to be bringing the world’s most popular cryptocurrency to the combined 2.5 billion users of Facebook and Telegram, not to mention all those who lack dependable internet access that can now manage Bitcoin via SMS messaging.” Of course, Facebook has been in the doldrums of late amid ongoing concerns about how the data of its customers is used. Lite.IM says it has taken action to address any concerns that would-be users might have, stressing that chat records are never stored by the company. And with secure password forms and advanced private key encryption, third parties like Facebook are blocked from seeing any sensitive information that could lead to funds being compromised. Updates on the way Lite.IM says that “a ton of new features” are going to be released in the not-too-distant future, which…

Security Token Offerings: A Way Past the SEC’s Incomplete Crypto Guidance?

Security Token Offerings: A Way Past the SEC’s Incomplete Crypto Guidance?

Chi-Ru Jou is a partner in the Blockchain Technology & Digital Currency Group of CKR Law LLP, a global law firm with approximately fifty offices worldwide and more than forty attorneys contributing to the blockchain group. The views offered in this article are her own only. The following is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2018 Year in Review. 2018 has been a tumultuous year on the regulatory front for the blockchain industry. The year began with news that the SEC had issued dozens of subpoenas for blockchain startups that had issued unregistered token offerings, spreading alarm throughout the crypto world. These investigations have recently resulted in penalties, mandatory securities offering registrations and in some cases reimbursement to investors, for a few blockchain companies. SEC Director William Hinman issued informal guidelines that bitcoin and ether were not securities because those networks had become “sufficiently decentralized.” Now, as the year winds to a close, we hear that the SEC will issue “plain English” guidance on the security token analysis as soon as early 2019. In this uncertain regulatory environment, most blockchain startups contemplating token offerings are steering away from the public crypto markets and venturing into the brave new world of security token offerings. The buzz on the street is that “STOs” may be the next big wave for blockchain fundraising. However, many blockchain startups initially planned their business model around what they perceived to be a utility token – a software license to use the token on a platform, often as the currency to pay for services or earn rewards in a digital marketplace powered by a blockchain. As these start-ups shift their plans from doing ICOs toward the regulatory landscape of STOs instead, the biggest question is whether the STO is going to be the panacea everyone is looking for: what unresolved legal issues for STOs do we confront in 2019? What cutting edge issues are currently boggling the minds of securities attorneys as they begin to execute these STOs? Using Security Tokens on a Blockchain Most STOs that are currently being initiated are private placement securities offerings to accredited investors. However, the private placement poses a number of unresolved problems for blockchain companies wishing to use the tokens on their platforms. These issues will have…

Venezuela Decrees Crypto Operators Must Pay Taxes in Cryptocurrencies

Venezuela Decrees Crypto Operators Must Pay Taxes in Cryptocurrencies

Taxes The Venezuelan government has published a decree requiring taxpayers with crypto operations in the country to pay their taxes in cryptocurrencies. Similarly, operators of foreign currencies must pay their taxes in those currencies. The decree states that the change is necessary for the “strengthening of the current fiscal regime.” Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations Paying Taxes in Cryptocurrencies The Venezuelan government published the official gazette No. 6,420 dated Dec. 28 on Monday, local media reported. It contains Decree No. 3,719 which outlines new tax payment rules for cryptocurrency operators. Dinero publication explained: The government of President Nicolás Maduro published a decree that will require taxpayers who carry out operations in foreign currencies or cryptocurrencies to pay their taxes in that same currency and not in bolivars. The decree states that “the Venezuelan people are currently facing a fierce war waged by internal and external factors that pursue the deterioration of the economy, which is why it is necessary to adopt sufficient measures to ensure the strengthening of the current fiscal regime.” The Ministry of Popular Power of Economy and Finance is in charge of the execution of the decree which is effective as of the time of the publication in the national gazette. Article one of the decree states that taxpayers in Venezuela “who carry out operations” in foreign currencies or cryptocurrencies as authorized by the law “must determine and pay [their tax] obligations in a foreign currency or cryptocurrency.” Two exemptions are listed in the decree: “transactions of securities traded on a stock exchange” and “the export of goods and services, carried out by public bodies or entities.” Furthermore, the decree describes that payments such as tax refunds for cases established in the decree will be made in the “national currency.” Using Petro for Tax Calculations Maracaibo Municipality in Venezuela’s Zulia State recently announced that it will use the national “cryptocurrency,” the petro, as the basis for business tax calculations, Runrunes reported. The announcement created some confusion among residents, who thought that they would have to pay their taxes in petros. On Tuesday, the intendant of Servicio Desconcentrado de Administración Tributaria (Sedemat), Jean Carlos Martínez, clarified to Noticia al Dia publication that “taxpayers will not be charged…