Tel Aviv Court Rules Bank Can’t Close Crypto Miner’s Account

Tel Aviv Court Rules Bank Can’t Close Crypto Miner’s Account

A court in Israel has once again ruled against a local bank which tried to close the account of a cryptocurrency related business without any due cause. This time a Tel Aviv court has determined that a bank can’t refuse to operate an account on behalf of a crypto miner. Also Read: Tel Aviv Court Gives Moshe Hogeg 30 Days to Settle $4M Lawsuit Court Rules on Israminers vs Union Bank Union Bank of Israel, Ltd. (TASE: UNON), the sixth largest Israeli bank, will not be allowed to close the account of local cryptocurrency mining company Israminers Ltd. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Limor Bibi has ruled that the bank’s sweeping policy of prohibiting the opening of an account for any customer working with digital currencies is unreasonable. However, the bank could still refuse the company’s requests to deposit fiat money if it is coming from anonymous exchanges in order to remain in compliance with the banking system’s AML (anti-money laundering) and KYC (know your customer) legal requirements. The judge ruled: “I believe that the sweeping policy, which does not distinguish between different types of activity, scope of activity and different types of customers – in the field of digital currencies – is unreasonable.” However, she added that “In these circumstances, I find the bank’s argument that, given that the ‘money trail’, as defined, in terms of sales in a trading arena to an unknown factor which knowledge of it haven’t been proven, creates risks of money laundering. As a result, I find the bank’s refusal to provide service with regard to the receipt of the money deposited in the account as reasonable.” Repeated Precedence The Israeli banking system has repeatedly had to be told by the courts not to block crypto businesses and users without justifiable reasons. In May 2018, for example, Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, was forced by the same Tel Aviv District Court judge to accept a transfer of funds resulting from the sale of bitcoin to a client who had documents tracking the trade from beginning to end. In February 2018, the Supreme Court of Israel issued an injunction order forbidding Bank Leumi from sweepingly halting the account activity of the Bits of Gold bitcoin exchange. What do you think…

Australian Government to Help Fund Trade Mission to CoinDesk Consensus

Australian Government to Help Fund Trade Mission to CoinDesk Consensus

Australia’s government has committed AU$100,000 (US$71,139) funding for a blockchain industry trade mission to CoinDesk’s Consensus event in May. Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham jointly announced Monday that the federal government funding is aimed to help Australia become “a global leader” in the “burgeoning” blockchain industry. The grant will go to assist local companies joining the Australian Trade and Investment Commission’s (Austrade’s) mission to Consensus 2019 in New York (May 13-15), which Andrews described as “a landmark event for the blockchain industry.” Birmingham added that attending Consensus will help Australian tech firms to showcase their products and services “on the world-stage” and connect them with investors and customers “with a view to expanding their businesses globally.” Blockchain roadmap In the same announcement, the two ministers revealed a roadmap for the development of Australia’s national blockchain strategy, focusing on a range of policy areas including “regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment, and international competitiveness and collaboration.” Andrews said: “The national strategy puts us on the front foot in exploring how government and industry can enhance the long-term development of blockchain and its uses.” He further said that his team will work closely with blockchain experts from industry and academia to develop the strategy, as well as with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research arm Data61 “to incorporate findings from their forthcoming future scenarios report on blockchain.” Lat September, CSIRO completed a test on a blockchain network it developed in partnership with the University of Sydney that could process 30,000 cross-border transactions per second. The Australian government also committed AU$700,000 (about $521,000 at the time) to the Digital Transformation Agency last May to explore blockchain applications within government services. And, in March 2017, pledged AU$350,000 ($2,48,970) of public funds over a four-year period to support the development of blockchain standards. “It is vital Australia and our tech companies stay ahead of the game in one of the world’s fastest growing technology sectors,” Birmingham said in Monday’s statement. Australian flag image via Shutterstock

Winklevoss Twins: Crypto Heralds Something Greater Than Facebook

Winklevoss Twins: Crypto Heralds Something Greater Than Facebook

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Bitcoin (BTC) bulls and founders of the Gemini crypto exchange, say that while Facebook’s secretive crypto project is positive for the industry, ultimately crypto will usher in something greater than the social networking era. The twins made their remarks during an interview with British broadsheet The Telegraph on March 17. The Winklevoss twins have a famously antagonistic history with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, having sued him for allegedly stealing the idea for the social network from them during the trio’s student days at Harvard. The case was eventually settled, with the twins receiving $20 million and 1.2 million Facebook shares (worth over $199.2 million to press time). Years after the Winklevoss twins’ first entry into Bitcoin, Zuckerberg is now seemingly entering the crypto space with Facebook’s own highly secretive project to integrate crypto stablecoin payments into an overarching messaging service for WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. In their interview with The Telegraph, the twins apparently put past differences aside, with Cameron affirming that a Facebook stablecoin would be a “really positive” development for the crypto industry, echoed by Taylor’s comment that it is “cool” Zuckerberg is entering the market they have championed for so long. Nonetheless, the twins said they ultimately believe that the innovation heralded by crypto represents a more momentous and disruptive development than social networking platforms. Cameron remarked that “crypto is transferring value and putting markets on certain resources which is, like, greater, like, brings more people in, like, than, like, sharing photos right,” to which Tyler added: “[It’s] powerful. People want to connect and stuff, but if you actually pay people and things in value that is almost, like, more significant.” As Cointelegraph has reported, unconfirmed reports of Facebook’s plans to integrate a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp users first surfaced in December 2018, followed by further — yet still unconfirmed — details of the project this February. The site is preceded by Russian-developed encrypted messaging app Telegram’s own, public plans, to create a crypto- and blockchain-powered messaging network. The Winklevoss twins — whose numerous crypto investments span their crypto exchange and trading app, fiat-pegged stablecoin and sustained high-profile industry involvement — are meanwhile fielding a separate legal battle against Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem, the result of a fallout…

Citi Scraps Its Plan for a JPM Coin-Like Bank-Backed Cryptocurrency

Citi Scraps Its Plan for a JPM Coin-Like Bank-Backed Cryptocurrency

In light of the splash JPMorgan made recently with its plan for a bank-backed cryptocurrency, it’s worth remembering another big institution first tested a token to connect global payments – back in 2015. Codenamed “Citicoin,” the project out of Citigroup’s innovation lab in Dublin was never formally announced by the bank, even as a proof of concept. The idea was to streamline global payment processes. As such, there are obvious parallels with the much-vaunted JPM Coin. However, having taken stock of the experiment (not to mention the scorn of the bitcoin community at that time) Citi concluded that, while the technology has the potential to live up to its promises, there were other more effective and efficient ways of making improvements in payments. That’s according to Citi’s current innovation lab chief, Gulru Atak, global head of innovation for treasury and trade solutions. Regarding the crypto experiments of her predecessors, she told CoinDesk: “Based on our learnings from that experiment we actually decided to make meaningful improvements in the existing rails by leveraging the payments ecosystem and within that ecosystem, we are considering the fintechs as well or the regulators around the world as well, including SWIFT.” Taking a measured step back, Atak said when it comes to improving cross-border payments, the bank is looking at effective methods but with a shorter-term impact. “We are trying to make those changes today, rather than just putting all our efforts into future technology,” she said. After all, to completely change a cross-border payment network with blockchain-enabled technology, one would have to on-board all the world’s banks, Atak said, adding: “If we are talking about cross border payments, how many banks do we have across the world – and how many of them are already on-boarded on SWIFT? And how long has it taken SWIFT to onboard all those banks?” As such, Citi’s blockchain strategy in recent years has been about finding ways to integrate legacy systems, said Atak, citing the bank’s 2017 partnership with Nasdaq, CitiConnect, designed to streamline payments around private securities. That project, she said, also has parallels with JPM Coin. “[CitiConnect] didn’t issue stablecoins but the infrastructure that was used was similar to issuing coins on a blockchain platform,” Atak  said. “But it was purely…

Bitcoin’s Price and Network Activity: One is Outpacing the Other

Bitcoin’s Price and Network Activity: One is Outpacing the Other

Bitcoin’s user growth, as represented by active addresses, has spiked in the last eight weeks leaving the price far behind, a move that contradicts the popular belief the two tend to move in tandem. The 30 day average of active addresses on bitcoin’s blockchain, or the number of accounts that made cryptocurrency transactions at any point during the last 24 hours, total 664,064 as of March 16– up 17 percent from 569,812 seen on Jan. 20. Bitcoin’s 30 day average price, however, has increased just 1 percent during the same time span, according to Coinmetrics. An uptick in active addresses is taken by many as a sign of the cryptocurrency’s increasing popularity or investor confidence. The active addresses count, however, tends to rise even when long-term dormant “HODLers” move out of the cryptocurrency and into fiat. So, betting on a price rise every time active addresses spike could prove costly. Other network activity metrics like the network volume and the transaction amount to active addresses ratio (TAAR) tend to shed more light on how network activity impacts bitcoin’s price. Active Addresses vs. BTC/USD *coinmetrics.io As can be seen above, the divergence between active addresses and bitcoin’s price has become quite large, which perhaps comes as a surprise given the two rose and fell in unison for much of 2018. But while the divergence between the two metrics is indeed growing, it’s hardly been the first time such a development has occurred. For instance, active addresses maintained notable growth throughout the entire bear market that spanned nearly two years from 2014 to early 2016, which implies active addresses may not be the most predictive fundamental metric for bitcoin’s price. Since active addresses are only a measure of how many accounts are actively making transactions, other metrics like network volume and TAAR can be used to provide insight into the actual amount of funds the addresses are spending. Transaction Volume vs. BTC/USD As can be seen in the chart below, the 30-day average of bitcoin’s network volume, or the amount of funds (USD) transmitted through its blockchain, appears to have a much stronger relationship with the price of BTC/USD than the trend of active addresses. Perhaps not coincidentally, when viewed on Coinmetrics’ semi-log graph, the 30-day avg. of transaction…

Bank of Mexico’s Attempt to Regulate Crypto ‘Is a Disaster,’ Exchange CEO Explains

Bank of Mexico’s Attempt to Regulate Crypto ‘Is a Disaster,’ Exchange CEO Explains

The long-awaited rules on crypto assets recently published by the central bank of Mexico have caused quite a stir. A local cryptocurrency exchange’s CEO explains to news.Bitcoin.com that “the impact goes beyond the crypto industry.” Calling it “a disaster,” he asserts that the people within the central bank “have really shown their ignorance” about cryptocurrency. Also read: Mexico’s Central Bank Publishes ‘Catch-22’ Rules Impacting Crypto Exchanges Central Bank Showing Ignorance Much discussion has transpired after the Bank of Mexico (Banxico), the country’s central bank, published a circular detailing crypto-related provisions for the regulation of financial technology institutions (FTIs). Sebastian Acosta Checa, CEO of local crypto exchange Isbit, shared with news.Bitcoin.com that the circular “says FTIs have to prevent consumers from being ‘exposed’ to the terrible ‘dangerous’ nature of virtual assets on the grounds of their ‘volatility’ and ‘complexity.’” Overall, noting that “In a way, it [Banxico’s circular] is preventing institutions from offering virtual assets to end consumers,” he remarked: This is a disaster. The people within Banxico have really shown their ignorance about the subject they are trying to regulate. Mexico’s congress passed a law to regulate fintech companies in March last year, putting Banxico in charge of determining which cryptocurrencies would be authorized to offer to the public by regulated entities. At the time, the crypto community and stakeholders were hopeful that the central bank would introduce positive regulations to foster the fintech sector and the country’s economy as a whole. However, when Banxico finally published the circular, it “essentially stipulated that they wouldn’t authorize any cryptocurrency to be offered by regulated financial companies,” Tomas Alvarez, CEO of local crypto exchange Volabit, recently told news.Bitcoin.com. Restriction But Not Prohibition Mexican crypto exchange Bitso described in a blog post that “the circular is directed at banks and fintech [companies] regarding their operations with cryptocurrencies.” The exchange noted that “Banxico mentions that it seeks to take advantage of the use of the technology of these cryptocurrencies as long as they are used for internal operations of financial institutions,” emphasizing: This does not mean that operations with cryptocurrencies are prohibited. Alvarez calls it a catch-22 situation since the law requires crypto exchanges to become regulated financial institutions. “However, once you obtain this license you would not have…

When Bakkt? Bitcoin Futures Market’s Approval Appears Stuck in Limbo

When Bakkt? Bitcoin Futures Market’s Approval Appears Stuck in Limbo

Bakkt was first announced in early August as a bitcoin trading and custody platform, but its launch has been repeatedly delayed It has submitted a proposal to the CFTC, asking for an exemption which would allow it to custody the bitcoin it uses to settle its futures contracts. While CFTC Commissioners were reportedly given the proposal in December, it now appears to be back before CFTC staffers. It is unclear if or when the proposal may be published for a mandatory 30-day public review period. Until the review period has ended – and CFTC Commissioners have voted to approve Bakkt’s exemption – the exchange cannot launch its one-day physically-settled futures contract. ––––––– More than six months since Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) revealed its vision for Bakkt, the hotly anticipated bitcoin futures market is still awaiting regulatory approval. ICE, the parent of the New York Stock Exchange, originally planned to launch Bakkt in mid-December. Then it got pushed back to late January. Then, on New Year’s Eve, the launch was indefinitely delayed, with ICE saying its previous Jan. 24 target “will be amended pursuant to the CFTC’s process and timeline.” Now, with the first quarter of 2019 nearly over, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has yet to release Bakkt’s proposed exemption for public comment. That means even if the proposal came out today, the launch can’t happen until mid-April at the earliest since the commissioners have to give the public 30 days to weigh in and then take another few days to read the comments before voting on whether to approve the plan. And as of late February, the proposal, which would allow Bakkt to custody the bitcoin trading on the platform, was still being reviewed by the CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight, two officials said. Why the hold-up? The government shutdown, which began on Dec. 22 and lasted a record five weeks, creating backlogs at the CFTC and other agencies, surely didn’t help matters. In getting caught up, the agency has prioritized other matters, mostly unrelated to crypto, including more than half a dozen enforcement actions announced since the shutdown ended. But the ambitious nature of Bakkt’s business plan is likely also a factor in drawing out the process. Physical settlement To be clear: the issue is not necessarily with…

Top 5 Crypto Performers Overview: Stellar, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, Dash, Monero

Top 5 Crypto Performers Overview: Stellar, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, Dash, Monero

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision. The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. The crypto markets are showing the first signs of bottoming out. Most cryptocurrencies are well above their yearly lows and are starting new uptrends. Every bull phase has a new set of leaders. Therefore, it is important to note the digital currencies that are pulling the market higher, as these are the ones that are likely to outperform during the move upwards. Bitcoin’s (BTC) dominance continues to drop gradually since reaching a high of about 57.80 percent in mid-September. This shows that the market participants are loading up on altcoins. However, a new bull phase cannot start without support from the leading cryptocurrency. The good news regarding Bitcoin is that it has stopped falling and is gradually moving higher. Its volume topped $11 billion over the 24-hour period on March 15, a level not seen since April 25 of last year. This shows that market participants are gradually turning bullish on the leading cryptocurrency. As the crypto universe emerges from its prolonged bear phase, there will be periods when Bitcoin will lead and other times when altcoins will lead. So, traders should change their strategy accordingly. XLM/USD Stellar (XLM) is the best performing major cryptocurrency of the past week. It rallied on the back of favorable news, as Coinbase Pro announced support for Stellar on March 13. This move will likely eventually lead to full support on Coinbase’s other platforms. The appointment of Denelle Dixon, former chief operating officer at Mozilla, as the CEO and executive director of Stellar Development Foundation also served as bullish news. Additionally, IBM’s push to create a stablecoin targeting blockchain-powered cross-border payment solutions for banks involves a partnership with the altcoin in the form of Blockchain World Wire. The question is, can this adoption and development-based rally continue or will it hit a roadblock ahead? Let’s take a look at the charts. The XLM/USD pair is in a downtrend. Both the moving averages are still down and the RSI is in the negative zone.…

Stablecoins Are Threatened by These Two Major Issues

Stablecoins Are Threatened by These Two Major Issues

On the heels of recent commentary from the published correspondence between Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Jay Clayton and representative Ted Budd, SEC senior advisor Valerie Szczepanik explained at Austin’s SXSW conference that stablecoins may be violating current securities laws. Also read: Payglobal Provides Cryptocurrency to Fiat Transfers With Existing Bank Cards Stablecoins May Live in the Land of Securities Over the last two years, stablecoins have become an extremely hot topic while becoming popular vehicles for hedging against the volatility tied to cryptocurrency markets. Tether (USDT) has been king of the stablecoins for a while, and recently made headlines for a revision to the company’s website. The change caused uproar within the cryptocurrency community because instead of confirming that each Tether is backed by one USD, the terms were substantially revised. “Every tether is always 100 percent backed by our reserves, which include traditional currency and cash equivalents and, from time to time, may include other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether to third parties, which may include affiliated entities,” the website now reads. Following Tether’s recent website update, on March 15, SEC senior advisor Valerie Szczepanik explained that due to the inherent nature of stablecoins, the tokens could “raise issues under securities laws.” Szczepanik explained that stablecoins are broken down into categories which include tethering the tokens to “some real asset, like real estate or gold and oil — Coins tied to a fiat currency held in reserve, and a third category that could become problematic under the law.” The SEC advisor added while on stage at SXSW: “I’ve seen stablecoins that purport to control price through some kind of pricing mechanism, whether it’s tied to the issuance, creation or redemption of another type of digital asset tied to it, or whether it is controlled through supply and demand in some way to keep the price within a certain band.” Szczepanik continued: It’s these kinds of projects where there is one central party controlling the price fluctuation over time that might be getting into the land of securities. The recent statements from the SEC senior advisor and chairman Jay Clayton’s statements last week could mean that stablecoins fall into the security category. Stablecoins, no matter whether they are backed by…

Hodler’s Digest, March 11–17: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week

Hodler’s Digest, March 11–17: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week

Top Stories This Week U.S. District Attorney Charges OneCoin Founders With “Billions” in Alleged Fraud The founders of international cryptocurrency pyramid scheme OneCoin have been charged by a United States district attorney. Both Konstantin Ignatov and his sister Ruja Ignatova were reportedly arrested on March 6 in Los Angeles after being accused of “wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering offenses” after luring investors into putting billions of dollars into the fraudulent OneCoin cryptocurrency. The crypto organization — established in 2014 and based in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria — works as a marketing network in which members receive commissions for attracting potential buyers to buy into the cryptocurrency, with reportedly over 3 million members globally. U.S. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton Confirms ETH Is Not a Security Jay Clayton, the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) chairman, has reportedly confirmed that Ethereum (ETH) and cryptocurrencies similar to it do not qualify as securities. Citing a letter written by Clayton in March, nonprofit crypto research organization Coin Center reported that Clayton has agreed that a digital asset’s definition as a security is “not static” and can change over time. While Clayton does not mention ETH directly, he states that he agrees that a digital asset transaction may not represent a security if the purchasers no longer expect a group to carry out entrepreneurial efforts. Cryptocurrency Community Eyes Tether After Website Dilutes USD Backing Claims Stablecoin Tether (USDT), which has always claimed to be backed 1:1 to the U.S. dollar, drew scrutiny this week from the crypto community when the description of its holdings on its website was subtly changed. A new update to the site, date unknown, now reads that each tether is backed by its reserves, which, “from time to time, may include other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether to third parties, which may include affiliated entities.” Tether has previously faced criticism due to their lack of an official audit, although bank documents from the entity last fall had seemingly confirmed the validity of Tether’s backing claims. CBOE Will Not List Bitcoin Futures in March, Cites Need to Assess Crypto Derivatives The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) will not add a new Bitcoin (BTC) futures market in March, the firm said this…