Anti-ICO Chairman of South Korean Financial Regulator Resigns as Expected

Anti-ICO Chairman of South Korean Financial Regulator Resigns as Expected

Financial Services Commission (FSC) chairman Choi Jong-ku, a governmental official in South Korea who took a hard line on domestic Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), has tendered his resignation. The Korea Times reported the chairman’s decision on July 18. “I recently tendered my resignation to President Moon Jae-in to widen the scope of his choice before the expected reshuffle,” Choi said. According to the report, officials in the finance sector expected Choi Jong-ku’s resignation, since historically the finance chair does not complete their term in office. There are also reported rumors that Choi will run for a National Assembly seat in 2020, but the former chairman says he is not planning on it.  As previously reported by Reuters, South Korea decided to ban ICOs, and any means of crypto fundraising, in September 2017. The FSC reportedly made the decision with Choi chairing the commission at the time. In January, the FSC said it would uphold the country’s ICO ban. South Korea originally banned ICOs due to concerns over stability and manipulation. In upholding the ban, an FSC spokesperson reportedly commented on issues the commission sees with enforcing ICO-related laws in a timely manner: “If there is an unlawful act, a third party has to intervene, but it is difficult to intervene until the transaction volume or price soars.”  Choi is skeptical on ICOs, but not opposed to crypto and blockchain innovation Choi also voiced opinions in favor of crypto exchanges holding bank accounts during his term, with the stipulation that such exchanges have sufficient Anti-Money Laundering  and Know Your Customer regulations. Choi’s statements were welcomed by the Korea Blockchain Association — an organization that promotes the dissemination of education on blockchain technology, according to its website.  In March 2018, Choi spoke on the possibilities of the fintech sector, as the FSC pivoted from simply regulating emerging technologies to taking a more supportive role. Choi then said, “Fintech is an area that requires new technologies, and it will solve the youth job problem by increasing job positions for young people.”

Judge Denies AT&T Request for Dismissal in $224M SIM Swap Crypto Case

Judge Denies AT&T Request for Dismissal in $224M SIM Swap Crypto Case

The federal judge overseeing Terpin v. AT&T — a legal battle pertaining to stolen crypto via SIM-swapping that has been going on for almost a year — has denied the telecom giant’s motion for dismissal. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, investor Michael Terpin had sued AT&T for $224 million. Terpin reportedly lost $24 million as a result of theft, and is seeking an additional $200 million in punitive damages. Terpin claims that he lost the foregoing assets in two hacks within seven months, due to the telecom provider’s alleged cooperation with the hacker and gross negligence. Judge Wright denied AT&T’s request to ignore their own 2011 Consent Decree with the Federal Communications Commission, according to a press release by Terpin’s legal representatives at Greenberg Glusker on July 22. This consent decree purportedly holds AT&T responsible for protecting customer data. Wright said that, because Terpin’s claims concern the illegality and unenforceability of AT&T’s customer agreement, the contract’s relevant terms are directly implicated: “Specifically, he objects to the exculpatory provision that exempts AT&T from liability from its own negligence, acts or omissions of a third party, or damages or injury caused by the use of the device. […] Mr. Terpin alleges that as a result of these illegal contract provisions, the entire customer agreement is unenforceable because the central purpose of the agreement is tainted with illegality. […] AT&T and Mr. Terpin have adverse legal interests of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant a claim for declaratory judgment. The terms of the wireless customer agreement are directly implicated by this lawsuit, particularly the terms that Mr. Terpin has identified.” While Terpin is currently seeking action against AT&T, in May he won a civil case against Nicholas Truglia, the alleged fraudster who actually perpetrated the SIM swap and subsequent crypto theft. The California Superior Court ordered Truglia to pay over $75 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

New NYDFS Division to Oversee Licensing for Cryptocurrency Startups

New NYDFS Division to Oversee Licensing for Cryptocurrency Startups

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), the financial regulator for the state of New York, is moving its in-house team supervising cryptocurrency businesses to a new division. In a statement Tuesday, Linda Lacewell, the newly appointed superintendent, announced the Research and Innovation Division at the Department of Financial Services will track emerging financial technologies and be “responsible for licensing and supervising virtual currencies.” This will include licensing approvals made under the state’s BitLicense, a regulatory regime that governs firms buying, selling or issuing cryptocurrencies to consumers in the state, the agency affirmed in a follow-up request for comment. “This division will oversee the virtual currency licensing process and will encourage development in the area,” the NYDFS said. Lacewell’s predecessor, Maria T. Vullo, opposed regulatory experimentation for non-banking financial firms when leading the agency, marking this research and innovation division as a reprieve from the regulator’s formerly heavy hand. Lacewell said: “The financial services regulatory landscape needs to evolve and adapt as innovation in banking, insurance and regulatory technology continues to grow.” The NYDFS has been regulating companies in the crypto space in 2015, when its BitLicense program came into effect. The regime has been attacked by industry entrepreneurs including ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees, who once said: “Here we are two miles from the Statue of Liberty and you cannot sell CryptoKitties in the state without that license. That’s the absurdity of what’s happened here.” The agency reportedly only granted eight BitLicenses in the first three years following its implementation. Currently over 20 licenses have been granted to cryptocurrency firms. Lacewell most recently approved two subsidiaries of the crypto exchange Seed CX to operate in the state under the BitLicense framework. Named executives Four executives were named in the announcement, all with backgrounds in governmental work. At the helm of the organization is executive deputy superintendent Matthew Homer, who most recently worked at fintech startup Plaid. The current director of research, Olivia Bumgardner, will also join the division as deputy superintendent. In her tenure at the state’s financial watchdog, Bumgardner has led initiatives involving digital assets and cybersecurity. Matthew Siegel, attorney in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, will serve as a deputy superintendent, and Andrew Lucas, director for the Office of Financial Innovation, will serve as counsel.…

New York Legislature Names Initial Members to Crypto Task Force

New York Legislature Names Initial Members to Crypto Task Force

The New York State legislature has selected six representatives from the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry to join its Digital Currency Taskforce, first formed in January. Revealed in a video announcement Monday, Assemblymember Clyde Vanel announced the legislature has selected three chief executives from blockchain startups, two members of industry think tanks, and a regulatory expert in the field. The group will advise the state on how to “regulate, define and use” cryptocurrencies and prepare reports on the state of the crypto industry for December 15, 2020. Members include ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin, Global Blockchain Business Council CEO Sandra Ro, adjunct fellow at the foundation for Defense of Democracies Yaya Fanusie, co-founder of Blockchain @ Microsoft York Rhodes, director of regulatory relations a Ripple Ryan Zagone, and professor of law at Cardozo School of Law Aaron Wright. “We’re excited that we’re going to have some of the premier people in blockchain technology and in cryptocurrency to help guide New York State and the country – and maybe the world – on our finding the right level of regulations,” said Vanel. When the task force was first proposed, Governor Cuomo said at the time he believed the technology could be used for state elections, record-keeping and real estate transactions. The unit will also examine the energy costs of crypto mining and the digital assets impact on tax collection. Though selected, members still need to go before the house legislature and the Governor for confirmation, according to Vanel. The remaining seven task force members will be selected by Governor Cuomo. The announcement received some backlash on social media, including from those that oppose a regulatory unit comprised of corporate actors. Preston Byrne, an attorney that specializes in technology upstarts and cryptographic firms, said: Also, the fact that @clydevanel clearly wasn’t aware of the close connections among the CSys crowd suggests that independent advisors might be a smarter route than corporate advisors. — Preston Byrne (@prestonjbyrne) July 23, 2019 Yaya Fanusie via CoinDesk archives

Crypto Criminals Send Scam Emails Impersonating British Financial Watchdog

Crypto Criminals Send Scam Emails Impersonating British Financial Watchdog

Cyber criminals have been sending scam emails claiming to be from the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and promoting crypto assets investments, financial market-focused platform FT Adviser reported on July 22. The letter impersonating the FCA is entitled “Guaranteed chance to earn” and features the watchdog’s logo and branding. After reading that “Bitcoin is still a long way off its peak price of $20,000, which it reached in 2017, but some cryptocurrency experts believe it could hit an even higher value by 2020,” it offers recipients to follow a link dubbed “Click her” [sic]. The FCA has reportedly confirmed that it has no relation with the aforementioned emails. The agency also warned that it would never ask the public to provide it with their bank account details. The FCA said: “The correspondence is likely to be linked to organized fraud and we strongly advise you not to respond to the criminals in any way. Look for signs that the email, letter or phone call may not be from us, such as it listing a mobile or overseas contact phone number, an email address from a hotmail or gmail account, or a foreign PO Box number.” FCA asks the public to remain cautious In May, the FCA reported that cryptocurrency investors in the U.K. lost over $34 million due to cryptocurrency and forex scams from 2018–2019. At the time, the FCA considered a ban on “high-risk derivative products linked to cryptoassets,” with the watchdog’s executive director Mark Steward saying: “Scammers can be very convincing so always do your own research into any firm you are considering investing with, to make sure that they are the real deal.” Recently, the FCA announced that it will soon publish a consultation paper on a potential ban on cryptocurrency derivatives such as Bitcoin futures and other crypto-related trading products.

Justin Sun Posts Video From San Francisco Following Investigation Reports

Justin Sun Posts Video From San Francisco Following Investigation Reports

Tron founder Justin Sun broadcast a live video from San Francisco to disprove reports that he was prevented from leaving China due to a police investigation. On July 23, Sun launched a live video on Twitter to deny rumors that he was prevented from leaving China by local authorities based on charges of money laundering, gambling and spreading pornography. Additionally, Sun posted a picture with him and his “aka bodyguard” Cliff Edwards, the Tron director of communications, with the Bay Bridge in the background. Justin Sun and Cliff Edwards in San Francisco. Source: Twitter Earlier today, local Chinese media outlet Caixin reported that the Office of the Leading Group for the Special Campaign Against Internet Financial Risks called on security organs to launch an investigation into Sun. Per Caixin, Chinese law states that individuals under investigation can be prevented from leaving the country for one month to one year. The report states that, at the time of writing, Sun’s whereabouts were unclear. Investigation reports follow postponement of Sun’s lunch with Warren Buffett The report follows an announcement that Sun is rescheduling the long-discussed charity lunch with Berkshire Hathaway CEO and renowned investor Warren Buffett. According to a Tron Foundation tweet on July 22, the relevant parties agreed to reschedule the meeting at a later date as Sun had purportedly fallen ill with kidney stones. The postponement came just a few days after Sun invited more notable figures from the crypto industry to attend the lunch with Buffett, including eToro founder Yoni Assia, the head of Binance Charity Fund Helen Hai, as well as Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of crypto payments firm Circle. Tron price slightly recovers after Sun goes live on Twitter Meanwhile, the Tron (TRX) price has reacted positively to the news, seeing a slight recovery after a major decline caused by the Chinese media reports. At press time, Tron is up about 2.27% over the past hour, while still seeing losses of over 13% on the day.  Tron 24-hour price chart. Source: Coin360 Earlier in July, the offices of a Tron affiliate in Beijing were surrounded by police as a crowd gathered to protest against a Chinese Ponzi scheme that operated under a Tron-like name.

Swiss Data Protection Regulator Seeks Details on Facebook’s Libra

Swiss Data Protection Regulator Seeks Details on Facebook’s Libra

The Swiss data protection regulator is waiting for Facebook to provide it with particulars on data protection risks associated with the forthcoming Libra digital currency, Reuters reported on July 23. The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) — the competent authority for data processing by federal bodies and individuals in Switzerland — sent a letter to Libra Association on July 17, asking for details about Libra. The FDPIC stated: “The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner has noted the remarks made by Mr. David Marcus at his hearing before a U.S. Senate committee. The FDPIC stated in his letter that as he had not received any indication on what personal data may be processed, the Libra Association should inform him of the current status of the project so that he could assess the extent to which his advisory competences and supervisory powers would apply.” The news follows a statement from the head of communication at the FDPIC, Hugo Wyler, who said that Facebook had not contacted Swiss regulators regarding the registration of its cryptocurrency project. At the time, Wyler said that the FDPIC expects Facebook or its promoters to provide it with concrete information when the time comes, and that the agency is following the development of Libra in the public debate. U.S. Regulators question Libra’s Swiss registration As previously reported, Marcus assured Representative Bill Huizenga that Facebook had been in touch with the Financial Market Supervisory Authority, a Swiss financial regulator. Marcus also underlined that Facebook would not launch the Libra cryptocurrency project before they received the go-ahead from all relevant regulatory authorities. At a hearing with the United States House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on July 17, Rep. Patrick McHenry asked Marcus why Facebook wanted to have its project based in Switzerland. Marcus responded that it was an “international place” conducive to doing business.

IEA Report: Bitcoin Causes 0.03%-0.06% of Global CO2 Emissions

IEA Report: Bitcoin Causes 0.03%-0.06% of Global CO2 Emissions

According to a report released on July 23 by the International Energy Agency Bitcoin (BTC) mining is likely responsible for 10‑20 Megatonne (Mt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year or 0.03-0.06% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Bitcoin consumed more in 6 months than Ireland in 12 Per the report, the recent price and hash rate increase of the Bitcoin network increased its energy consumption, and it is estimated that during the first six months of 2019 it has already consumed 29 TWh. This is more than the annual energy consumption of Ireland (26 TWh). Annual Bitcoin’s energy consumption estimates range from 20 TWh to 80 TWh, with the agency’s own estimate being 45 TWh. But despite allegedly consuming more energy than Ireland, this means Bitcoin still consumes less than electric vehicles (58 TWh in 2018). Bitcoin mining is mostly powered by renewable energy The report’s author further points out that Bitcoin mining hotspots tend to start in places rich in cheap, renewable energy. The paper also cites research claiming that roughly 76% of the energy consumed by Bitcoin is renewable and using this data its estimates of CO2 emissions. This last point is in line with the estimates of cryptocurrency investment products and research firm CoinShares, which estimated that 74.1% of bitcoin mining is powered by renewable energy in its biannual mining report released in June.

Coinbase Added 8 Million New Users in the Past Year

Coinbase Added 8 Million New Users in the Past Year

America’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange and wallet service Coinbase has signed up 30 million users since launching in 2012. New user signups slowed after Bitcoin price peak Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has registered eight million new users, according to data revealed by Bitcoin (BTC) investor and entrepreneur Alistair Milne in a tweet on July 22. Number of Coinbase users since January 2014. Courtesy of Alistair Milne on Twitter Based on the chart above, the rate of new users sign ups has slowed compared to the second half of 2017, in particular, right before Bitcoin price hit its all-time high of $20,000. Nevertheless, Coinbase added about 8 million new users in the past year despite the bear market.  According to the Coinbase website, the number of users on the crypto exchange is now over 30 million to date with over $150 billion traded in cryptocurrency. Coinbase stopped disclosing public user stats in November 2017 Coinbase stopped disclosing precise details on the number of users on their website at the end of November 2017. Founded in June 2012, Coinbase is one of the most popular crypto exchanges globally, with adjusted trading volume of around $350 million as of press time. In August 2018, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong revealed that the platform was signing up 50,000 users per day back in 2017. Earlier this year, software firm DataLight reported that the United States was the most active crypto trading country with over 22 million monthly visits of crypto exchanges. Recently, Coinbase CEO presented his vision of the company in five years, claiming that he sees Coinbase as not just a crypto trading service provider but a more universal entity contributing to global adoption of crypto.

German Regulator Greenlights $280 Million Ethereum Real Estate Bond

German Regulator Greenlights $280 Million Ethereum Real Estate Bond

The German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) approved an Ethereum-based real estate bond for security issuance firm Fundament Group. The company announced the news in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on July 23.  Regulated real estate bonds on the Ethereum blockchain The given bond backed by a portfolio of properties in major German cities with an issued volume of 250 million euros ($280 million). The firm’s solution reportedly leverages standardized and regulated financial instruments to build a real estate-backed asset that can be traded worldwide independently of banks. Providing liquidity to real estate investments through tokenization The company hopes that the project will bring more liquidity into the traditionally illiquid real estate market. Furthermore, this is also reportedly the first BaFin-approved real estate backed security token. Fundament Group co-founder Florian Glatz commented on the development, saying: “As the first company to receive approval from the German Financial Market Authority for a blockchain-based real estate bond, we are excited to enter the sales process for the Real Estate Security Token, while already preparing the tokenization of other highly attractive assets.” The company allegedly allows its customers to withdraw and deposit funds in Ether (ETH) and euros. Lastly, the release specifies that the firm focuses on properties located in major urban centers in Germany, including Berlin, Hamburg, Rostock, Jena and Fulda. German authorities also showed openness towards blockchain and cryptocurrency. In a recent statement, the central bank noted that the potential benefits of Facebook’s Libra should not be suppressed despite regulatory uncertainty and potential risks.