Australian Regulator Trials Blockchain to Automate Transaction Reporting

Australian Regulator Trials Blockchain to Automate Transaction Reporting

An Australian financial regulator is trialing blockchain technology to automate reporting of cross-border transactions by institutions. ZDNet reported Sunday that the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has partnered with the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne to build a prototype for the trial. The two partners will specifically examine how blockchain and smart contracts, as well as other technologies, can help entities such as banks to automate reporting of international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) to the regulator. Australia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act mandates that institutions or specific categories of individuals involved in a cross-border transfer of funds – including payer, sender and beneficiary institution – must report details of the transaction within 10 days. The trial effort started in December and is likely to run for a year, according to the report. Last month, Swinburne University collaborated with tech firm Capgemini to establish a new global Blockchain Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Melbourne. The blockchain trial, therefore, will likely involve Capgemini’s network from development to production, ZDNet suggests. Back in March 2017, AUSTRAC also opened an innovation center dedicated in part to blockchain research. Last spring, the agency brought in new rules for cryptocurrency exchanges aimed to counter money laundering and terrorism financing (AML/CTF), including mandated registration with AUSTRAC. Australia image via Shutterstock 

Supreme Court of India Puts 4-Week Deadline on Release of Crypto Regulation by Government

Supreme Court of India Puts 4-Week Deadline on Release of Crypto Regulation by Government

The Supreme Court of India has reportedly granted four weeks to Indian authorities to come up with cryptocurrency regulation policies, local news outlet Inc42 reports on Feb. 25. If the Indian government does not provide a crypto regulatory framework in four weeks, the Supreme Court is set to release their own judgement, the article states. At the hearing on Feb. 25, the court has given one last opportunity to the Union of India to develop crypto regulation, stressing that afterwards, the Court will stop hearing crypto-related cases, including the parties who demand to reverse the crypto circular released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Released in early April 2018, the RBI’s crypto circular prohibits banks from providing services to any person or business that deal with cryptocurrencies. The circular was subsequently critically assessed by the High Court of Delhi, which claimed that the RBI’s decision to end dealings with crypto businesses violates the constitution, while the supreme court apparently continued to support the RBI ban even after hearing a number of petitions. While the RBI has been negative to cryptocurrency adoption, the central bank confirmed its plans to consider the creation of its own Indian rupee (INR)-backed central bank digital currency (CBDC) in August 2018, but subsequently paused its plans to release the CBDC in January 2019. Meanwhile, an Indian governmental committee has recently released a report raising concerns about the impact of cryptocurrencies on the local fiat currency in the case of crypto being adopted for payments. On the other hand, another governmental committee’s report suggested that cryptocurrencies should be legalized in the country, stressing that there is a general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal.

Indian Supreme Court Gives Government 4 Weeks to Produce Crypto Regulation

Indian Supreme Court Gives Government 4 Weeks to Produce Crypto Regulation

The Supreme Court of India has reportedly given the Indian government four weeks to come up with cryptocurrency regulations before making its ruling on pending crypto cases. The court was set to hear the petitions against the crypto banking ban by the central bank this week. Also read: SEC Chair Explains Key Upgrades Needed for Bitcoin ETF Approval Government Given a Deadline The Indian supreme court reportedly addressed the matter regarding cryptocurrency today, Feb. 25. According to Twitter account Crypto Kanoon, a platform for blockchain regulatory news and analysis, the court gave the government four weeks to come up with a clear regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. After that time, the court will make a decision on the crypto banking ban by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Crypto Kanoon tweeted: Supreme Court has granted 4 weeks to Indian government as the final opportunity to bring about a policy (rules and regulations) on cryptocurrencies. The last time the supreme court addressed the crypto case was on Jan. 17 when it decided to hear the petitions against the RBI ban in the last week of this month. In its circular dated April 6 last year, the central bank banned financial institutions under its control from providing services to crypto businesses. One of the petitioners, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), requested for the RBI ban to be lifted. The IAMAI is an industry body whose members include a number of local crypto exchanges. The association argued that the ban is unconstitutional. It also pointed out to the court that some crypto businesses have suffered because of this banking restriction. Zebpay, for example, shut down its Indian crypto exchange operations due to the banking problem. Crypto Regulation in India The government of India has been working on the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. The finance ministry set up a panel, headed by Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary of Economic Affairs, to draft the regulation. The recommendations by this panel are reportedly being finalized. However, there have been conflicting reports about what they entail. In January, the Ministry of Finance invited reputed law firm Nishith Desai Associates to present its proposals for the country’s crypto regulation. Furthermore, the ministry told Lok Sabha, India’s lower house…

Bitfinex’s Stolen Funds Partially Recovered and Returned by US Law Enforcement

Bitfinex’s Stolen Funds Partially Recovered and Returned by US Law Enforcement

The United States’ law enforcement recovered and returned over $104,000 stolen from the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, according to a Medium post by the exchange published on Feb. 25. The funds returned are reportedly just under 27.7 Bitcoins (BTC), which were stolen in August 2016 in a hack that involved the theft of around 120,000 BTC in total. At the time, Bitfinex reportedly generalized the losses across all accounts and credited BFX tokens, one per every dollar lost, to those affected by the hack. These tokens could be redeemed for one dollar each or exchanged for the company’s stocks. The holders who chose to convert into stocks also received Recovery Right Token (RRT) tokens, while all BFX tokens were then destroyed. Since some of the stolen coins have been received, Bitfinex notes that they are now reportedly being converted to U.S. dollars and paid to RTT holders. According to the announcement, Bitfinex was first alerted that the U.S. government had obtained access to funds believed to be proceeds from the hack in November last year. Since the beginning of 2019, the crypto community has already experienced at least one large-scale hack of an exchange. As Cointelegraph reported at the end of January, two weeks after it first reported a hack, New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia was still compromised by cyber criminals who already liquidated $3.2 million in tokens obtained through the hack. Also, in November last year, the recently reopened Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, which had lost over $520 million in a hack in January 2018, announced it had resumed NEM (XEM) crypto token trading after a restructuring of its platform by external security experts.

US Government Returns Bitcoins Retrieved Following 2016 Bitfinex Hack

US Government Returns Bitcoins Retrieved Following 2016 Bitfinex Hack

Bitfinex has announced that some of the bitcoin stolen in a major 2016 hack has been returned by the U.S. government. In a blog post published Monday, the exchange said that 27.66270285 BTC – worth just over $104,000 at time of writing – have been received from the U.S. government, and come as the result of U.S. law enforcement efforts. Bitfinex said that, since the hack, it has been collaborating with international law enforcement agencies “to provide intelligence and assist with investigations,” adding: “Bitfinex was alerted in November 2018 that the U.S. government had obtained bitcoins believed to be proceeds from the 2016 hack.” The August 2016 hack, in which a total of 119,756 BTC were stolen, shocked the crypto market with the largest loss of bitcoins by an exchange since Japan’s Mt. Gox huge breach in early 2014. The returned funds represent about 23% of the total taken in the attack. As pledged in its recovery strategy formulated after the 2016 breach, the returned funds are being converted to U.S. dollars and will be paid to current holders of its RRT (Recovery Right Token) token. To compensate for the hack losses in 2016, the exchange generalized the losses across all accounts and credited BFX tokens to customers at a ratio of 1 BFX to every dollar stolen. “Within eight months of the security breach, all BFX token holders had their tokens redeemed at 100 cents on the dollar or exchanged their tokens for, directly or indirectly, shares of the capital stock of iFinex Inc. All BFX tokens were destroyed within this process,” Bitfinex said in Monday’s post. Bitfinex created the tradable RRT token for BFX holders allowing them to convert BFX tokens into shares of iFinex, it added. After any outstanding or unconverted BFX token holders have been reimbursed, as per the recovery plan, recovered funds were set to be distributed to RRT holders, up to 1 dollar per RRT. “As all BFX tokens have been redeemed and destroyed, the full amount of recovered bitcoins today is being distributed pro rata to the RRT holders,” Btfinex stated. Thanking the U.S. federal law enforcement agencies for their efforts in investigating the attack and returning the stolen funds, Giancarlo Devasini, chief financial officer at Bitfinex, said: “Over two years following…

Bitcoin’s Bull Trend At Risk After High-Volume Price Dump

Bitcoin’s Bull Trend At Risk After High-Volume Price Dump

View Bitcoin dropped 9.3 percent yesterday on the back of high volumes, invalidating the triangle breakout witnessed last Monday. A UTC close below $3,714 today would validate Sunday’s bearish outside reversal candle and open the doors to levels below $3,400. The longer duration charts are signaling bearish exhaustion, however, and any drop to $3,400 or below could be short-lived. A move above $4,190 (previous day’s low) is needed to revive the bullish outlook. Bitcoin (BTC) nosedived overnight, clouding the interim bullish outlook, and a deeper drop could unfold if key support near $3,700 is breached. The leading cryptocurrency by market capitalization rose to highs near $4,200 in the Asian trading hours yesterday, as expected, only to fall back to levels below $3,800 by UTC close. That 9.31 percent slide is the biggest single-day drop since Jan. 11. Notably, trading volumes across all cryptocurrency exchanges totaled $10.79 billion on Sunday – the highest since April 25, 2018, according to CoinMarketCap. The high-volume sell-off erased gains seen over the previous five days, thereby weakening the bullish case put forward by last Monday’s break above $3,800. That said, a bullish-to-bearish trend change would be confirmed only if the sell-off seen yesterday is extended to levels below $3,700. Further, the losses following a potential bearish reversal could be short-lived, as signs of seller exhaustion have emerged on longer duration charts. As of writing, BTC is changing hands at $3,780 on Bitstamp, representing a 7.78 percent drop on a 24-hour basis. Daily chart As seen above, BTC created a widely-followed candlestick pattern called “bearish outside-day” yesterday – invalidating the triangle breakout seen on Feb. 18. A bearish reversal would be confirmed if prices close today (UTC) below $3,714 (Sunday’s low). That could yield a drop toward the recent lows below $3,400. Hourly chart The probability of BTC closing today below $3,714 would rise if the pennant pattern seen on the 4-hour chart is breached to the downside. A break below the lower edge of the pennant, currently at $3,740, would confirm a breakdown and could be followed by a sell-off to $3,360 (target as per the measured move method). BTC, however, may rise back to $4,000 if the pennant is breached to the higher side. Weekly chart The inverted hammer seen…

Tron Will Hard Fork in February to Add Institution-Friendly Features, CEO Confirms

Tron Will Hard Fork in February to Add Institution-Friendly Features, CEO Confirms

Blockchain development platform and BitTorrent owner Tron will debut a host of upgrades via a hard fork at the end of the month, CEO Justin Sun confirmed on social media on Feb. 23. Tron, which presents itself as a competitor to Ethereum (ETH) for launching cryptocurrency tokens and other offerings, is preparing to increase its appeal to institutional users. According to Sun, the hard fork will deliver institution-handling capabilities, as well as other features such as multi-signature abilities and account management options. Tron’s TRX token appeared to react to the news when it surfaced last week, before a downturn in the price of Bitcoin (BTC) saw the altcoin also fall 9 percent in Monday trading. Under Sun, the company has pursued an aggressive expansion program, which saw it acquire BitTorrent, the operator of popular torrent client uTorrent, last year. At the same time, publicity measures by Sun have come in for criticism due to their public condemnation of Ethereum. As Cointelegraph reported, some commentators have taken a dislike to Tron, with Stellar (XRM) Jed McCaleb lambasting the platform in an interview over the new year. Last month, BitTorrent completed an initial coin offering (ICO) to raise funds, hitting its token allotment in minutes, with its price since spiking to 600 percent of its value at the point of issuance.

Bahrain’s Central Bank Issues New Cryptocurrency Regulation

Bahrain’s Central Bank Issues New Cryptocurrency Regulation

The Central Bank of Bahrain has issued new cryptocurrency regulation, English-language local media TradeArabia reports on Feb. 25. Before, in December last year, the central bank had issued draft proposals to potentially regulate and license crypto asset services. The new rules reportedly concern licensing, governance, risk management, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing measures, business conduct, conflict of interest avoidance, reporting and cybersecurity. The regulation also establishes new supervision and enforcement standards. Cryptocurrency exchanges licensed by Bahrain’s central bank will now also have to respect guidelines concerning order matching, pre and post-trade transparency, market manipulation and market abuse avoidance, as well as conflicts of interest. According to TradeArabia, the central bank’s regulation has also specified that the crypto exchanges will need to have enhanced due diligence when onboarding new clients, as well as specifications involving assurance that safe encrypted custody wallets will always be able to be retrieved. As Cointelegraph recently reported, Bahrain’s central bank previously launched a regulatory sandbox to allow blockchain and crypto companies to work in the country, pending formalized regulations. Also, in January, the University of Bahrain announced that they will issue diplomas on the blockchain using the Blockcerts open standard in partnership with Learning Machine, a startup providing a system to issue verifiable official records using a blockchain-anchored format.

Crypto Markets See Double-Digit Crash, Asian Markets Soar as Trump Delays Tariff Hike

Crypto Markets See Double-Digit Crash, Asian Markets Soar as Trump Delays Tariff Hike

Monday, Feb. 25: cryptocurrencies are today seeing a blood-red market rout, with virtually all of the top 20 coins posting losses of between 7 and 17 percent, as data from Coin360 shows. Market visualization by Coin360 Top cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) is down a round 8 percent on the day and is trading around $3,836 to press time, according to CoinMarketCap data. Today’s crash is the second day the coin — and wider market — is reporting losses, with Bitcoin having yesterday tumbled from an intraday high of $4,210 to around $3,800. The sharp downturn has squeezed the cryptocurrency’s gains on the week to just above 2 percent. Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Ethereum (ETH) has seen an even more severe downturn, shedding 14.6 percent on the day to trade at roughly $140 to press time. As with Bitcoin, the leading altcoin plummeted yesterday from a price point close to $150 down to below $140. Earlier today, the coin reported an intraday low of $135, having since mildly recovered. On the week, Ethereum is virtually breaking even, up by a fractional 0.2 percent. Ethereum 1-month price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Third-largest crypto asset Ripple (XRP) has seen 9.4 percent in losses on the day and is trading around $0.305 at press time. After a 24-hour low of $0.302, the coin has gained some ground in recent hours. The market downturn has brought XRP’s 7-day losses to 2.2 percent. Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Among the remaining top 10 cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap, fourth-largest coin EOS is seeing the heftiest losses, losing 16.2 percent on the day to trade at $3.62 to press time. Fifth-largest crypto Litecoin (LTC), sixth-largest Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and eighth-largest coin Stellar (XLM) are all seeing heavy double-digit losses — at 13.6 percent, 14.6 percent and 10.8 percent respectively . Among the top 20 coins, Ethereum Classic (ETC), Cardano (ADA) and IOTA (MIOTA) — ranked 18th, 11th and 14th largest respectively — are down 14.4, 12.4 and 11.9 percent each. Native crypto exchange token Binance Coin (BNB), ranked 10th, is seeing the mildest 24-hour losses among all the top twenty cryptos, trading down by around 7 percent on the day. The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $129.2 billion as of…

A Group of 30 Global Central Securities Depositories Is Exploring Crypto Custody

A Group of 30 Global Central Securities Depositories Is Exploring Crypto Custody

A group of central securities depositories (CSDs) in Europe and Asia is taking a serious look at how they might collaborate on infrastructure to custody digital assets. Still very much in the exploratory phase, the CSDs are planning to present the findings of their working groups at the annual SIBOS conference in London in October. But these organizations, which have been guarding stock certificates for decades, clearly see an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to the crypto space, where losing your private keys means losing your coins forever. Indeed, far from the “blockchain not bitcoin” mentality that such enterprises exemplified a few years ago, the group’s focus is looking at how to protect these keys for crypto investors, and how the tokenization of everything stands to change … well, everything. Artem Duvanov, head of innovation at the National Settlement Depository (NSD) of the Moscow Exchange Group, told CoinDesk: “A new world of tokenized assets and blockchain is coming. It will probably disrupt our role as CSDs. The whole group decided we will be focusing on tokenized assets, not just blockchain but on real digital assets.” Since coming together under the auspices of the International Securities Services Association (ISSA) last year, the CSDs’ crypto-asset initiative has doubled in size to over 30 participants. Key members in the next stage are NSD, Belgium-based Euroclear, Swiss stock exchange SIX, and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX). Duvanov said the aim right now is to create “a common vision” as opposed to a deadlined platform build. Alexander Chekanov, the NSD’s chief architect, who is heading the working group on safekeeping of crypto assets, said the research being carried out regarding tokenized securities “certainly applies to cryptocurrencies” as well. Chekanov pointed out that the NSD’s own D3 solution is geared specifically towards safekeeping and providing legal services for cryptocurrencies, which it is now piloting with two other CSDs: KDD of Slovenia and ADX. “Obviously the ideas that we have in ISSA are heavily correlated with what we are doing in D3,” said Chekanov. Banks on board? Walter Verbeke, global head of business model and innovation for the Euroclear Group, said the next phase of the research will also involve some large custodian banks. “So BNY Mellon would be…