Breaking: Japan’s FSA Approves License for Hacked Crypto Exchange Coincheck, Nikkei Reports

Breaking: Japan’s FSA Approves License for Hacked Crypto Exchange Coincheck, Nikkei Reports

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has purportedly approved a cryptocurrency exchange operating license for hacked crypto exchange Coincheck. English-language Asia-focused news publication Nikkei Asian Review reported the news Dec. 19. According to Nikkei, an announcement from the financial watchog is reportedly due to be released by the end of the year. Notably, in private correspondence with Cointelegraph Japan, Coincheck’s PR emphasized “it is not [the exchange’s] official announcement and we haven’t confirmed the fact yet.” As previously reported, the FSA has intensified its scrutiny of domestic crypto exchanges in the wake of the industry-record-breaking $532 million theft of NEM tokens from Coincheck’s wallets this January. While a license has been mandatory for all crypto exchanges operating within Japan since the amendment of the country’s Payment Services Act back in April 2017, the FSA has continued to ratchet up requirements for applicants throughout 2018; some 160 applicants were reported to still be awaiting a decision on an operating license as of mid-October, and as many as 200 today, according to Nikkei. Following the January hack, Coincheck received two business improvement orders from the FSA, with a particular focus on ameliorating its customer protection and anti-money-laundering (AML) measures. The exchange further decided to rehaul its shareholder composition and management, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Monex Group in mid-April. Under the new stewardship of Monex, Nikkei reports the FSA has now purportedly judged that protection measures and other critical systems at the exchange have now been sufficiently improved to warrant a new license. Alongside these improvements, Coincheck revised which cryptocurrencies it will manage, and also reimbursed those customers affected by the hack. In mid-November, Coincheck resumed NEM trading, and opened support for Ethereum (ETH) and Lisk (LSK). It also joined the Japan Network Security Association in a bid “to renovate its image.”

UK Tax Agency Publishes Detailed Guidance for Crypto Holders

UK Tax Agency Publishes Detailed Guidance for Crypto Holders

The United Kingdom’s tax agency has just released a comprehensive explanation of how it sees crypto assets and how individuals may be taxed on their holdings. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the government agency responsible for collecting taxes and overseeing other aspects of the nation’s coffers, explained that Wednesday’s report specifically focuses on how individuals possessing crypto assets might be taxed, but does not outline the tax scheme for tokens held by businesses or for business purposes. Guidance on that will be published at a later date. The document follows on previous reports from the UK government, treating crypto assets more as property than as a form of money. “HMRC does not consider crypto assets to be currency or money. This reflects the position previously set out by the report from the Cryptoasset Taskforce (CATF),” it explains, noting that the task force classified cryptocurrencies as either exchange tokens, utility tokens or security tokens. Importantly, Wednesday’s report notes that how a token is treated for tax purposes depends on the token’s use case, rather than its definition. “This paper considers the taxation of exchange tokens (like bitcoins) and does not specifically consider utility or security tokens. For utility and security tokens this guidance provides our starting principles but a different tax treatment may need to be adopted,” HMRC explains. Investors who purchase tokens specifically in the hopes that their value will increase will be required to pay capital gains tax when they sell, while individuals who receive tokens from their employers as a form of payment, from mining, transaction fees or airdrops will have to pay income tax and national insurance contributions. The report continues: “As set out in more detail below, there may be cases where the individual is running a business which is carrying on a financial trade in cryptoassets and will therefore have taxable trading profits. This is likely to be unusual, but in such cases Income Tax would take priority over the Capital Gains Tax rules. HMRC will publish separate information for businesses in due course.” Notably, HMRC will not consider the purchase and sale of cryptoassets to be the same as gambling. The report goes into detail, explaining to UK residents just how and when their holdings – or transactions – may…

Venezuela Isn’t the Crypto Use Case You Want It to Be

Venezuela Isn’t the Crypto Use Case You Want It to Be

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts love to talk about Venezuelan users – wracked by political oppression, economic collapse and food insecurity – as a prime example of bitcoin’s subversive potential. But the reality is far more complicated. Venezuelan expat David Díaz of the Blockchain Academy in Buenos Aires told CoinDesk that many Venezuelans are learning about cryptocurrency through forced exposure to the state-issued petro, in addition to aggressive outreach strategies from projects like dash. Many don’t even know that bitcoin is useful itself, beyond its ability to ease the transfer of assets like dash or dollars. That’s why Díaz is teaming up with fellow expat Jorge Farias of Panama-based startup Cryptobuyer to offer a free educational course about bitcoin to Venezuelans, including online programming and in-person classes in Argentina, Venezuela and Panama. News of the program was revealed exclusively to CoinDesk. The course, which starts in February, will be very similar to the paid programs Díaz has already run for roughly 2,000 students in Buenos Aires, including a few hundred Venezuelan migrants. But now the focus will be on providing free information that is useful in a Venezuelan context, where cheap Android phones and censored internet access impact usability. Díaz told CoinDesk: “The main benefit for Venezuela is the knowledge, what to do with bitcoin, how to escape from the power the Venezuelan government has placed there, not only economically but also for information. There is a lot of censorship there.” Fellow expat Eduardo Gomez, the head of support at the crypto startup Purse who recently moved to Argentina, now uses the peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins to help his mother pay bills. “The government has [told] the private banks and government-run banks that external IPs should not be able to access their bank accounts,” Gomez told CoinDesk. “The government wants to control remittance businesses.” Díaz and Gomez are among the many Venezuelans connecting with their homeland through the bitcoin-centric diaspora. WhatsApp groups and Instagram communities help expats coordinate financial transactions on the ground. LocalBitcoins usage surged throughout the year and now facilitates weekly volumes worth billions of bolivars. According to a recent report by the United Nations, a whopping 17 percent of the country’s population has fled Venezuela in recent years. There are now many Venezuelan expats working on…

Chatter Report: Schiff Accuses Kelly of Pump and Dump, Lingham Calls for ‘Real Adoption’

Chatter Report: Schiff Accuses Kelly of Pump and Dump, Lingham Calls for ‘Real Adoption’

News In our latest roundup of crypto chatter, tensions run high as Peter Schiff accuses Brian Kelly of dumping bitcoin on retail investors. The accusation surfaced after Kelly recently revealed that he is net short on BTC. Also, Vinny Lingham gives great advice to the crypto community on building for the future. Also read: Bitcoin Skeptic Peter Schiff to Joe Rogan: BTC Will Plummet, Voorhees Debate Rigged CNBC Regular Accused of P&D Longtime gold proponent and bitcoin skeptic Peter Schiff has accused Brian Kelly Capital Management founder Brian Kelly of using his position as a CNBC regular to “pump and dump” bitcoin. In a recent video released by CNBC, Kelly casually mentions that he is net short on bitcoin. Under normal circumstances, Kelly shorting bitcoin would not raise eyebrows in this bear market. However, Kelly’s recent comments seem to be entirely incongruent with almost every other clip of him on CNBC. A Trip Down Memory Lane Just watch this video of Kelly released by CNBC last August, where he heavily shills bitcoin. While referencing a BTC price that was around $7,400, Kelly boldly proclaims, “If you’re looking for an entry point in bitcoin this might just be the place”. There is a huge disconnect between Kelly recommending the “completely under-appreciated” cryptocurrency markets in August and the same man sheepishly mentioning that we are “getting closer to the bottom” in the recent CNBC video. Even more disturbing are the implications of Kelly’s actions, as he may have been shorting and dumping cryptocurrency bags on retail investors who listened to him on CNBC, which would be a massive conflict of interest. Alternatively, Kelly could have only recently taken short positions some time after he was shilling cryptocurrencies throughout most of 2018. That would imply that Kelly is unqualified to talk about cryptocurrency price movements, however, as he has been completely wrong on his predictions thus far. Vinny Lingham on Building for the Future In other news, Civic CEO Vinny Lingham has been tweeting advice for the cryptocurrency community to build for the future. There is a large skill/knowledge gap between observers/speculators/traders and builders. Those who are building need to keep their heads down and continue to execute. Traders will trade & the market will judge the best projects…

Bitcoin.com’s Oracle Aims to Bolster BCH-Powered Smart Contracts

Bitcoin.com’s Oracle Aims to Bolster BCH-Powered Smart Contracts

Promoted Bitcoin.com is pleased to unveil plans to offer one of the world’s first oracles for smart contracts on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain. The autonomous feature will allow specialized prediction markets and decision-based transactions for sports scores, political results, and market exchange rates. Also read: How to Spend and Give Bitcoin Cash Over the Holidays Bitcoin.com’s Oracle Section: Verifiable Multi-Sourced Facts Since the Bitcoin Cash network upgrades in May and November, the protocol and its scripting language is now far easier for coding smart contracts, decision-based transactions, and predictive oracles. Aided by opcodes like OP_Checkdatasig (DSV) and Bitcoin Cash’s 32MB blocks, BCH is one of the simplest and most secure platforms to build your smart contract. By building the Bitcoin.com Oracle, we plan to utilize the benefits of the BCH network and all the new features added during the last upgrades in order to provide verifiable multi-sourced facts. The basics of an oracle with enough valid data can prove ideal for executing decisions and triggering smart contracts. Back in the ancient days of civilization, humans often visited oracles, validated reports, created prediction markets, and attempted to forecast the probability of outcomes in order to make better decisions. With the new opcodes like DSV, Bitcoin Cash network participants can validate data when certain conditions are met within the smart contract. BCH-based oracles can theoretically trigger any type of smart contract from any type of data that exists outside the Bitcoin Cash blockchain. Empowering Global Participation There are so many use cases for BCH-powered oracles and autonomous contracts that can be executed by using verifiable data. With Bitcoin.com’s Oracle, we hope to provide tools that can monitor personal goals, track sports results, detect exchange rate movements, record social media platforms, and monitor news. Alongside this, you could even track the Bitcoin Cash code repository, pull requests and more with our oracle pulling data from Github’s API and other sources. Historically, oracles have been centralized, but by utilizing the security of the distributed BCH ledger we can trust the autonomous oracles to determine certain outcomes. Going beyond the limits of centralized entities, BCH-based oracles provide the means for global participation because peer-to-peer BCH transactions are cheap and reliable. At the moment our Bitcoin.com Oracle is still under development. But…

France Rejects Cryptocurrency-Friendly Tax Amendments

France Rejects Cryptocurrency-Friendly Tax Amendments

Taxes France’s National Assembly has rejected a number of tax amendments aimed at lowering taxes for cryptocurrency traders and users. Among rejected amendments are those concerning capital gains and losses and crypto tax exemptions. Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations Crypto Amendments Rejected The French National Assembly rejected a number of tax amendments designed to benefit cryptocurrency traders and users on Monday, local media reported. One of the rejected proposals concerns the increase in annual tax exemption from €305 ($347) to either €5,000 or €3,000. The National Assembly believes that “305 euros is already quite favorable,” stating that compared to how securities are taxed, “increasing to €5,000 or €3,000 seems particularly excessive.” Another amendment that did not gain support was one to allow capital gains to be taxed on the same basis and under the same conditions as securities under the current system. Similarly, the amendment to distinguish between normal crypto-related activities and occasional ones that would result in more favorable taxation for cryptocurrency users was turned down, as was a proposal on crypto-related capital losses. In addition, the amendment outlined in Article 16a to only tax gains on cryptocurrencies when they are sold and withdrawn to a bank account, instead of taxing them based on their values converted into fiat on crypto exchanges, was also denied. 30-Percent Flat Tax While a number of amendments have been rejected, the proposed 30-percent flat tax for cryptocurrency transactions was not part of the proposals considered on Monday. It is, therefore, still part of Article 16 Bis. Currently, crypto assets are taxed at 36.2 percent, which is 19 percent income tax and 17.2 percent social contributions. It was mentioned at the National Assembly meeting that “a flat tax rate is positively welcomed for its simplicity and legal certainty.” Reuters previously explained that “Currently bitcoin gains are taxed at a rate of 36.2 percent while other forms of capital gains on other non-real estate assets are taxed at a flat 30 percent.” The news outlet further noted that “The finance commission adopted an amendment to the 2019 budget bill that would subject sales of crypto-assets like bitcoin to the 30-percent flat rate as well,” as news.Bitcoin.com reported. What do you think of France’s approach to…

Hong Kong: Purported Bitcoin Millionaire Reportedly Arrested After Making It ‘Rain Cash’

Hong Kong: Purported Bitcoin Millionaire Reportedly Arrested After Making It ‘Rain Cash’

A supposed Bitcoin (BTC) millionaire has been arrested in Hong Kong after “making it rain cash” on the streets, local English-language news outlet the Shanghaiist reported on Dec. 17. On Sunday, a swathe of 100-Hong Kong dollar bills were thrown off a roof in Sham Shui Po, one of the poorest Hong Kong neighborhoods. Wong Ching-kit, a local cryptocurrency enthusiast, purported Bitcoin millionaire, and entrepreneur who owns the Epoch Cryptocurrency website, is reportedly believed to be responsible for the stunt. In a video posted on Epoch’s Facebook page, he is seen asking “does anyone believe that money can fall from the sky?” before money starts falling from a high building behind him. The description of the video details a competition wherein participants can allegedly win large cash prizes. In another video Ching-kit reportedly describes himself inside a luxury car as some kind of “god” that “steals from the rich and gives to the poor.” According to Shanghaiist, the man was subsequently arrested by local police, reportedly before performing another publicity stunt. Shanghaiist reports that he was detained for “disorderly conduct in a public place” while live-streaming with a stack of cash in his hand. Leo Weese, a member of the local crypto community, tweeted that Ching-kit is not a Bitcoin millionaire but is instead “running a pyramid-like scheme.” The police reportedly claim to have only recovered 6,000 Hong Kong dollars ($767) while “a popular Twitter post claims, unreasonably, that ‘100’s of millions of HKD’ was dropped from the rooftop.” In May 2018, organizers of a blockchain conference in China were subjected to harsh criticism after they arranged a performance including a Mao Zedong impersonator. An actor dressed in a grey Mao suit gave a speech in the style of the Chairman, wishing success to the audience in an accent from Mao’s birth province of Hunan, declaring: “You are worthy of being called the great sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, and I thank you in the name of Mao Zedong.” The organizers reportedly broke a law prohibiting the use of the image of any past or present leader in promotional activities and television advertisements. Earlier that same month, a Ukrainian initial coin offering (ICO) publicity stunt on Mount Everest resulted in the death of…

Crypto Could Represent New Asset Class in Next Decade, Says BitMEX CEO

Crypto Could Represent New Asset Class in Next Decade, Says BitMEX CEO

Bitcoin (BTC) has the potential to become a new asset class in the next ten years, CEO of major crypto derivatives platform BitMEX claimed on the podcast Unchained Dec. 16. Arthur Hayes, CEO and co-founder of BitMEX, the largest crypto exchange by reported daily trade volumes, spoke with host Laura Shin and a group of other industry leaders at CME’s Global Financial Leadership Conference last month. When asked if cryptocurrency represents a new asset class, Hayes expressed skepticism, saying crypto “is sort of a blend” but that it is “still extremely small”: “Could it become a bona fidе asset class in the next ten years? Maybe. Still, jury’s out on whether or not Bitcoin is actually secure in the long run […] It’s still an experiment.” Hayes, however, added optimistically that crypto “could be a new way of raising capital and sending value around the world.” BitMEX’s CEO also weighed in on the future of trading, saying 24/7 trading — as with crypto — will replace conventional hours: “I think 24/7 trading of all different types of assets is something that’s going to be the future, and that will bleed into other markets we’re all familiar with, you know, FX, fixed income and equities.” Earlier in November, Hayes predicted that this year’s crypto winter could last as long as 18 months, citing “previous experience” of a “nuclear bear market” in 2014 and 2015. At press time, Bitcoin is trading at $3,755, up almost 6 percent on the day, seeing a slight rebound after dropping to as low as $3,172 earlier this week.

A Year After $20K, Blockchain Capital Exec Says Investors Will Regret Not Buying In Now

A Year After $20K, Blockchain Capital Exec Says Investors Will Regret Not Buying In Now

One year after Bitcoin (BTC) broke crypto industry records to hit $20,000, a partner at venture capital firm Blockchain Capital says that today’s bearish market represents “a fantastic buying opportunity.” Spencer Bogart made his remarks during an interview on CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Dec. 17. Bitcoin is now trading around $3,550, up 2 percent and capping gains of around $260 in the 24 hours before press time. The coin, however, is over 82 percent down from its price point this time last year. Emphasizing that Blockchain Capital is a “long-term venture investor,” Bogart told CNBC: “Could Bitcoin go to $50,000? Absolutely. It doesn’t have the same kind of price-to-earnings, enterprise value to revenue that normally puts a kind of upper bound or a ceiling on a typical early-stage technology company […] How long will it take? I’m not sure.” After CNBC host Melissa Lee criticized the belief that the historic 2017 bull run “could only go higher,” Bogart said that “there is absolutely nothing wrong with the [bull] thesis,” but noted that — up until recently — the Bitcoin market has been “almost entirely driven by retail [investors].” This, he suggested, still results in bull market runs “going a little too high,” and conversely, bearish dips “too low.” Bogart stressed that notwithstanding short-term price weakness, the core characteristics of the technology and concept are still there. In particular, the VC exec stated that 2018 has seen major advancements in scaling, with the Lightning Network helping to “transact extremely cheaply, and extremely quickly.” He further pointed to increased institutionalization of the asset class, with this year’s endowments from United States Ivy League universities — such as Yale and Harvard — the forthcoming Bitcoin derivatives and the global digital assets trading platform from the Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) “Bakkt,” and the establishment of more qualified custodians for crypto assets. Bogart’s last bullish remarks highlighted the outstanding “quality of the talent that we’re seeing entering the space,” adding that “a lot of the best and brightest are saying ‘I want to go work on Bitcoin.” With one last consideration on price volatility, Bogart said that Bitcoin today could also “absolutely” go lower — “anywhere between here and $2,000 or even $1,000” — but that all of these price points represent “a great buying…

Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per Year

Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per Year

Crowdfunding Russian lawmakers have revised another bill regarding the regulation of the industry built around cryptocurrencies. In its latest version, the draft law on crowdfunding sets the maximum amount of money ordinary Russians will be permitted to invest in projects such as ICOs at less than $9,000 per year.      Also read: Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate Laws Investments Limited to $1,500 per Project The bill “On attracting investments using investment platforms” is one of the three pieces of legislation aimed at regulating the crypto industry that were adopted on first reading by the State Duma in May. The initial text approved by the lower house of Russia’s parliament did not contain such limits. It only read that they should be determined in sub-statutory acts issued by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR). According to the revamped draft law, private individuals will be allowed to invest through crowdfunding platforms up to 600,000 Russian rubles (less than $9,000) per year only, and a maximum of 100,000 rubles (~$1,500) per project RBC reported, quoting a copy of the document. Any investment exceeding 600,000 rubles, made by qualified investors or financial institutions, will be subject to mandatory oversight by the country’s financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, in order to prevent money laundering. The new restrictions will limit the access of ordinary citizens to initial coin offerings (ICOs). The authorities in Moscow claim they want to protect Russians from the associated risks. In a statement, the CBR warned that investing through crowdfunding platforms can lead to the loss of all invested funds. However, the limits will not apply to social and charitable crowdfunding initiatives. No Restrictions for ‘Qualified’ Investors Professional investors will not be restricted in their participation in crowdfunding projects. Private individuals can be treated as “qualified investors” provided they meet certain criteria detailed in the federal law “On the securities market.” For example, they must control assets worth at least 6 million rubles (almost $90,000) and prove they have been employed in the securities industry for at least two years. The revised crowdfunding bill is likely to be voted on second reading in the Duma in January revealed one of its authors, the chairman of the Financial Markets Committee Anatoly Aksakov. Before…