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December 17, 2018

BitcoinNews.com

Switzerland to Relax Laws for Blockchain and Crypto Startups

The Swiss government has announced a new legislative approach to blockchain regulation in an official report. The document recognizes the technology as one of the most important recent developments for the financial sector in stimulating the country’s economy.
Also read: How Bitcoin Companies can Legally Operate in Switzerland
A Swiss Innovation Paradise
According to the report, the Swiss Federal Council’s main focus is on “ensuring the integrity and reputation of Switzerland as a financial center” and on better positioning the country to “exploit the opportunities offered by digitalization.”
The government’s plan is to create the best possible legal framework conditions so the country can continue to evolve as a leading and sustainable destination for fintech, blockchain, and innovative companies in a number of fields.
Although the report discusses the risk of cryptocurrencies being used for illegal purposes like the financing of terrorism, it maintains a positive attitude towards the technology, noting that the country’s laws should be amended to recognize encrypted digital tokens that are not backed by any physical assets. The Federal Council also made clear that it wants decentralized financial transactions to have a place in the legal code.
A Lighter Touch
The report mentions a proposal to give discretionary powers to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to loosen regulations affecting decentralized securities trading platforms as long as their activities do not harm investors. This regulatory approach circumvents current legislation enacted so as to be aligned with the EU’s position on the subject.
Swiss economist Luzius Meisser expressed his belief that this approach to legislation could prove much more effective in a written statement, saying:
This shows once again how the traditional Swiss approach of having principle-based laws that give a lot of discretion to citizens and regulatory agencies are much more innovation-friendly than overly detailed European-style laws.
Switzerland has decided to achieve these objectives without creating a slew of new laws, opting instead to adapt current legislation to incorporate new technological developments. Mattia Rattaggi, spokesman for regulatory matters at the Crypto Valley Association (CVA), commented on the association’s stance on these announcements:
We feel that this approach best represents the principle of technological neutrality and is in line with the position taken by the CVA in the consultation process … Crucially, this approach ensures maximum consistency within the current legal framework while keeping it principle-based and flexible, while allowing changes to be adopted on a ‘need-to-regulate’ basis.
Proposed Changes
Switzerland’s Federal Council’s report outlines several modifications to the country’s laws but clarifies that there are no intentions to immediately change financial or insurance industry-related laws, as it considers that blockchain technology is still “in its infancy” when it comes to these sectors. The most important legislative changes proposed so far include:

Amending the Collective Investment Schemes Act to include a new type of “limited qualified investment funds” with the intention of placing future innovative products on the market in a more time and cost-effective way.
Start recognizing data as an asset by changing company bankruptcy laws. This would allow Swiss courts to handle and properly distribute digital assets when solving legal disputes.
Widen the Anti-Money Laundering Act to include decentralized exchanges and allow law enforcement to dispose of third-party digital assets.
Creating new authorization categories to give FINMA discretion to loosen regulations for decentralized securities traders and exchanges based in Switzerland.
Amending the Financial Institutions Act and the Financial Market Infrastructure Law to make them more flexible towards blockchain initiatives.

What do you think about Switzerland’s regulatory stance on cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.

Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.
The post Switzerland to Relax Laws for Blockchain and Crypto Startups appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Switzerland to Relax Laws to Accommodate Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Startups

The Swiss government has announced a new legislative approach to blockchain regulation in an official report. The document recognizes the technology as one of the most important recent developments for the financial sector in stimulating the country’s economy.
Also read: How Bitcoin Companies can Legally Operate in Switzerland
A Swiss Innovation Paradise
According to the report, the Swiss Federal Council’s main focus is on “ensuring the integrity and reputation of Switzerland as a financial center” and on better positioning the country to “exploit the opportunities offered by digitalization.”
The government’s plan is to create the best possible legal framework conditions so the country can continue to evolve as a leading and sustainable destination for fintech, blockchain, and innovative companies in a number of fields.
Although the report discusses the risk of cryptocurrencies being used for illegal purposes like the financing of terrorism, it maintains a positive attitude towards the technology, noting that the country’s laws should be amended to recognize encrypted digital tokens that are not backed by any physical assets. The Federal Council also made clear that it wants decentralized financial transactions to have a place in the legal code.
A Lighter Touch
The report mentions a proposal to give discretionary powers to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to loosen regulations affecting decentralized securities trading platforms as long as their activities do not harm investors. This regulatory approach circumvents current legislation enacted so as to be aligned with the EU’s position on the subject.
Swiss economist Luzius Meisser expressed his belief that this approach to legislation could prove much more effective in a written statement, saying:
This shows once again how the traditional Swiss approach of having principle-based laws that give a lot of discretion to citizens and regulatory agencies are much more innovation-friendly than overly detailed European-style laws.
Switzerland has decided to achieve these objectives without creating a slew of new laws, opting instead to adapt current legislation to incorporate new technological developments. Mattia Rattaggi, spokesman for regulatory matters at the Crypto Valley Association (CVA), commented on the association’s stance on these announcements:
We feel that this approach best represents the principle of technological neutrality and is in line with the position taken by the CVA in the consultation process … Crucially, this approach ensures maximum consistency within the current legal framework while keeping it principle-based and flexible, while allowing changes to be adopted on a ‘need-to-regulate’ basis.
Proposed Changes
Switzerland’s Federal Council’s report outlines several modifications to the country’s laws but clarifies that there are no intentions to immediately change financial or insurance industry-related laws, as it considers that blockchain technology is still “in its infancy” when it comes to these sectors. The most important legislative changes proposed so far include:

Amending the Collective Investment Schemes Act to include a new type of “limited qualified investment funds” with the intention of placing future innovative products on the market in a more time and cost-effective way.
Start recognizing data as an asset by changing company bankruptcy laws. This would allow Swiss courts to handle and properly distribute digital assets when solving legal disputes.
Widen the Anti-Money Laundering Act to include decentralized exchanges and allow law enforcement to dispose of third-party digital assets.
Creating new authorization categories to give FINMA discretion to loosen regulations for decentralized securities traders and exchanges based in Switzerland.
Amending the Financial Institutions Act and the Financial Market Infrastructure Law to make them more flexible towards blockchain initiatives.

What do you think about Switzerland’s regulatory stance on cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.

Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.
The post Switzerland to Relax Laws to Accommodate Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Startups appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Monitor Bitcoin Cash Development With the Coin Dance Tracking Page

Cryptocurrency data website Coin Dance revealed on Friday the team’s revamped Bitcoin Cash protocol development tracking page. Interested proponents can get a comprehensive look at all the completed BCH developments, proposals, ideas that are being discussed, and concepts that are currently under development.
Also read: Markets Update: Bears Continue to Drag Cryptocurrency Prices Down
The Coin Dance Bitcoin Cash Protocol Development Tracking Page
The analytical website Coin Dance has added a lot more detail to the site’s development section. The Bitcoin Cash protocol development tracking page expands upon a list of development discussions, proposals, and code that’s being developed right now. For example, there are currently 12 featured concepts ‘under development’ by the groups of developers who help the BCH protocol prosper. Developers from groups like the Cashshuffle developers, Bitcoin ABC, and Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) have all contributed to the maturing ideas.
BCH protocol development under discussion.
According to Coin Dance statistics, the 12 features under development include UTXO commitments, Modified fee structure, enable Schnorr signatures, reinstate more opcodes, add Compact Blocks, Graphene version 2, and more. The website data describes what the feature does like how Graphene v2 adds a lot more functionality to the first Graphene phase.
BCH protocol development under discussion.
In another instance, the Coin Dance documentation describes Bitcoin Unlimited’s Compact Blocks protocol. “Supporting CB in BU would strengthen the connections between the BU peers and the rest of the network, without having to rely on intermediates,” explains the BCH development tracking page. Additionally, the site gives users a link to where they can read up on more information specifically tied to each concept.
Optimization, Privacy, Scaling, and Whether or Not Its Backward Compatible
The tracking page also details there are 14 Bitcoin Cash protocol developments under discussion. This means BCH programmers have merely conversed about the idea but no one, in particular, is developing the specific concept. Features being discussed include Bobtail, One Way Aggregate Signatures, Representative Tokens (GROUP), Avalanche, BLS Signatures, and more.
BCH protocol features under development.
All the features that Coin Dance has listed, whether they are being discussed or under development, explain the underlying purpose of each improvement as well. Each concept has a little icon on the top left corner of the window frame and a popup window details the features intention. A fingerprint icon says “the purpose of this proposal is to improve security.” Other icons include usability, extensibility, optimization, privacy, and scaling. Moreover, icons on the upper right explain if the concept is “not backward compatible.”
BCH protocol features under development.
If anyone is interested in what is going on with Bitcoin Cash development, then they will likely appreciate the development tracking page. Coin Dance still has its other sections of data sets which include the BCH protocols nodes, blocks mined, hashrate, politics, opinion, mining profitability, and a section where BCH users can create vanity addresses. In the Bitcoin Cash protocol development section enthusiasts and researchers can also see completed progress that happened during prior upgrades.
What do you think of the newly revamped Coin Dance BCH development tracking page? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Images via Shutterstock, Pixabay, and Coin Dance.

Have you seen our new widget service? It allows anyone to embed informative Bitcoin.com widgets on their website. They’re pretty cool, and you can customize by size and color. The widgets include price-only, price and graph, price and news, and forum threads. There’s also a widget dedicated to our mining pool, displaying our hash power.
The post Monitor Bitcoin Cash Development With the Coin Dance Tracking Page appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Linkedin Names ‘Blockchain Developer’ Top Emerging US Job of 2018

Linkedin has published its 2018 “Emerging Jobs Report” for the United States, in which it names “Blockchain Developer” as the most rapidly emerging employment position of the past year. According to the report, the position saw growth of 33x on Linkedin’s platform during 2018.
Also Read: Pantera Capital Braces for SEC Action Against 25 Percent of ICO Investments
‘Blockchain Developer’ Tops Linkedin Emerging Jobs Report
The position of Blockchain Developer has topped Linkedin’s 2018 emerging jobs report, producing an astonishing 33x in growth according to the social media company.
Blockchain Developer significantly overshadowed the growth of the next most-rapidly emerging job on Linkedin, the position of “Machine Learning Engineer,” which was unable to retain its position as the fastest growing job on Linkedin, despite gaining over last year’s 9.8x with 12x growth during 2018.
Linkedin lists the top skills associated with the role of Blockchain Developer as being “Solidity,” “Blockchain,” “Ethereum,” “Cryptocurrency,” and “Node.js.” The company lists the leading employers of blockchain developers as being IBM, Consensys, and Chainyard, adding that demand for the position is high in San Francisco, New York City, and Atlanta.
Despite Bear Market, Blockchain Jobs Proliferate
A report by Glassdoor that was published in October similarly asserted that blockchain-related jobs have seen significant growth during 2018, in spite of falling cryptocurrency prices.
Glassdoor estimated there to be 1,775 blockchain-related positions to be open in the United States during August of this year, which the company estimates to comprise a 300 percent increase over the 446 blockchain-related jobs available during August 2017.
Glassdoor also estimated the median salary for blockchain jobs to be $84,884 annually, which the company asserts is 61.8 percent higher than the median US salary of $52,461. Glassdoor found “Software Engineer” to comprise the most prevalent job pertinent to distributed ledger technology, estimating such to account for 19 percent of all open positions as of August 2018.
Many of Linkedin’s findings are consistent with those made by Glassdoor, with the company’s report also finding New York City and San Francisco to be the leading cities for open blockchain positions, equating for 24 percent and 21 percent of positions respectively. Glassdoor also asserts IBM and Consensys to list the most jobs in the distributed ledger technology sector, estimating that both companies are responsible for 12 percent of the open positions each.
Do you think that jobs within the distributed ledger technology sector will continue to proliferate rapidly in coming years? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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The post Linkedin Names ‘Blockchain Developer’ Top Emerging US Job of 2018 appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Will Coinbase Hit Its 2018 Target of $1.3 Billion in Revenue?

The current crypto bear market is dragging on, with billions in cryptocurrency wealth wiped out in 2018. The trading volume of six year-old Coinbase has hit a yearly low. Despite the crypto winter, the company is continuing to raise funds and has reached an impressive valuation of $8 billion. But is this figure justified and will Coinbase meet the $1.3 billion in revenue it’s projected for 2018?
Also read: Coinbase Opens the Door to More than 30 Cryptocurrencies
Six-Year-Old Startup in an Uncertain Industry
In 2017, Coinbase generated $923 million in revenue and $380 million in profit. In 2018, the San Fransisco-based exchange is projected to bring in a total of $1.3 billion in revenue and $456 million in profits, according to a recent Bloomberg report, citing a document it reviewed.
Coinbase is expected to have generated just $600 million in revenue by the end of Q3 2018. With the current bear market and upcoming Q4 financials approaching, is this target really possible?
The first question to consider is how Coinbase makes its money. Revenue is generated through fees, commissions on trades and returns from its own cryptocurrency holdings. Compared to 2017, trading in 2018 has continued to decline.
The number of Coinbase users has seen a significant drop according to recent data from Diar. In Q3 2018, Coinbase’s BTC volumes increased to $5.4 billion compared to $4.6 billion in 2017 for the same period. ETH, on the other hand, has nearly halved, falling to $2.8 billion in Q3 of this year compared to $5.2 billion in Q3 2017. In Q3 2018, LTC volumes were also down at $1 billion compared to $2.6 billion for the same period last year. In Q3 of 2018, BCH volume on Coinbase stood at $875.4 million.

The California-based exchange has increased staff and other outgoings by adding products for larger institutional clients. The latest major new hires include Chris Dodds, who has joined Coinbase’s board of directors and also serves on the board of Charles Schwab, and Jonathan Kellner who joined as a managing director of its institutional group. Will these new hires pay off?
In the first eight months of 2018, Coinbase also acquired Distributed Systems, a San Francisco-based digital identity startup, for an undisclosed amount.
Further Investment Funding Rumored
There are reports that Coinbase is in talks with Tiger Global Investment with a view to obtaining an investment of up to $500 million, reported by Recode. Coinbase has also denied rumors that it will launch an IPO any time soon. This week, Coinbase announced that its customers in the U.S. can now make withdrawals via Paypal. This move will allow customers to convert their cryptocurrency holdings to cash without incurring any withdrawal fee.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong frequently blogs about expansion plans and updates the cryptocurrency community on major accomplishments. He recently wrote: “Our business is cyclical, and it’s crucial that we continue pushing hard to ship new features, fix what’s not working, and make the customer experience better, whether the crypto market is on fire or in a slower part of the cycle. We did that well this quarter, and in Q4, we’ll need to double down — and stay humble, scrappy, and focused — to do even more.”
Is Coinbase being too ambitious with its 2018 revenue target? Let us know in the comments section below.

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The post Will Coinbase Hit Its 2018 Target of $1.3 Billion in Revenue? appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Wendy McElroy: From Drugs to Gold and Prostitution, the Blockchain Minimizes Violence

The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising ExpectationsSection 5: Saving the World Through AnarchismChapter 11, Part 9From Drugs to Gold and Prostitution, the Blockchain Minimizes Violence
The most obvious objection to relying on self-defense…and restitution to prevent and rectify rights violations, is that these measures will be inadequate to deter criminals…Most people fail to appreciate the fundamental obstacles placed in the path of crime prevention by the perverse logic of public property, public law enforcement, and public imprisonment. Step one: start with public streets, sidewalks, and parks where every citizen must be permitted unless proved guilty of a crime. Step two: rely on an inherently inefficient public bureaucracy to catch, prosecute, and try those criminals against whom enough evidence of guilt exists. Step three: should they be convicted, subject criminals to the dangerous, unproductive, and sometimes uncontrollable setting of public prisons to prevent them from engaging in further misconduct. Step four: periodically release most prisoners back into the community and then return to step one and repeat the cycle.
–Randy Barnett, The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law
The state manufactures criminals. Then it centralizes and monopolizes a solution to the problem of crime, for which it is largely responsible. Put aside the manufacture of false criminals–that is, peaceful people who are considered to be immoral or unpatriotic or otherwise living their lives in an unacceptable way. The state factory also creates real career criminals—people who habitually initiate or threaten violence for profit. (For a discussion of fraud, please see the immediately previous articles.)
Today’s perverted system of law and justice deliberately produces two types of real criminals. The first and largest group consists of state-sanctified ones who use the veil of legitimacy to plunder the wealth and to control the actions of ordinary people. These are politicians, bureacrats, and other agents of the state, including crony corporations. They are “men of the system.” When the veil of legitimacy falls away and people refuse to obey, the state initiates or threatens open force against them. In this way, violence is legalized and institutionalized across society. The state functions according to a parallel and different standard of morality; society is expected to accept a double standard by which state agents can commit official violence that would be unacceptable if committed by ordinary people.
The second group of criminals manufactured by the state system consists of unsanctified or street thugs. They pursue profit in the same manner as the state—the initiation or threat of force—but they do so without the veil of legitimacy or hypocrisy. The brutalization of innocent people for profit is not accompanied by lies.
The state manufactures street criminals, for at least three reasons.
As long as people believe the state is the thin line between their safety and rampaging savages, then people will accept the comparatively-civilized violence of the state. They will render obedience.
The state also profits from the confiscation of the criminals’s wealth, through mechanisms such as civil asset forfeiture, and of their labor in prison factories.
The state is able to monopolize and industrialize yet another human need—the need for safety and justice. There is the legislative industry, the regulatory bureaucracies, the police industry, the court system, and the prison industry. This industries are immensely profitable. The payoff comes not merely from the exploitation of people who are processed through the machine but also from taxpayers who pay for the facilities, wages and pensions to men of the system.
If a villainous mastermind had deliberately designed a system to create career criminals of both sorts—the sanctified and the not–it would be difficult to imagine an operation that is better suited to the task than the trusted third party institutions of the state.
The law-and-justice industries are mirror images of the financial ones against which Satoshi Nakamoto struck a telling blow. The central banking system wears a fabricated mantle of legitimacy, and it declares “I am necessary!” even as it confiscates and regulates private wealth. The banks claim to be the thin line against economic barbarism, crime, and chaos. Crypto exposes that lie. The banks are the barbarians at the gate, just the current distortion of law and justice are the real criminals at the doorstep.
It is difficult to believe that any system could be worse.
Decentralizing Law and Justice
No collection of Mafia or private bank robbers can begin to compare with all the Hiroshimas, Dresdens…and their analogues through the history of mankind. [I]t is illegitimate to compare the merits of anarchism and statism by starting with the present system as the implicit given and then critically examining only the anarchist alternative. What we must do is to begin at the zero point and then critically examine both suggested alternatives.
–Murray Rothbard, “Society Without a State”
Ground zero of any system is human nature.
Human beings are incredibly diverse and driven by free will. Every choice possible to human beings will be pursued by someone. The vast majority of those in society will deal with each other peacefully and exchanges that represent mutual advantage. But violence is an active alternative, and it will be chosen to some degree by some people, whether or not a state exists.
The goal of crypto anarchism with regard to violence is twofold: first, to minimize its occurrence; and, second, to make the cost of violence fall upon those who make that choice.
Minimizing violence is built into the blockchain. It is not merely that the blockchain epitomizes a society by contract without the corrupting influence of a trusted third party. It is also due to features such as pseudonymity and transparency.
Consider drug dealing. In an anarchist society, it would be legal to sell anything that did not violate a person’s body or property, whether or not the good is viewed as moral by others. Bitcoin.com contributor Sterlin Lujan observed, “Those are personal choices that apply to an individual’s own body and mind. Anyone who tries to control a person’s drive to have sex or use drugs is essentially a tyrant trying to subdue another person. It is not the moral high ground to harm someone if they are merely pursuing their own version of happiness. This is referred to as individual sovereignty, and it is important.”
But high-priced and portable items, like drugs or gold, would remain especially vulnerable to violent theft. One of the most demonized aspects of the crypto community offers a partial solution. Darknet markets have prevented violence. By providing a means through which people can buy drugs and other high-value items with a diminished risk of violence. For one thing, competing drug-dealers hock their wares without killing each other over whose territory a street corner represents. Under anarchism, darknet markets would be accessible through searches on popular browsers, and drugs would be treated like any other commodity. But such high-value commodities would have a filter against violence, especially commodities that might well attract “immoral” or erratic people.
The privacy of the blockchain also offers protection, while providing the value of a transparent exchange. Who wants others to know that they own a fortune in gold and silver—a fortune for the taking? Eliminating the middle man—the trusted third party—eliminates risk factors. Precious metals can be ordered with comparative anonymity and then stored as though they did not exist. The blockchain, or technology in general, does not change what people want from the world: the pleasure of drugs or the safety of gold will still be sought. But technology reduces the risk of violence attached to satisfying such wants.
In her article “A Hundred Years of Crypto Anarchy,” Elaine Ou commented, “When Tim May wrote The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, it wasn’t a call to action or instigation of sorts. It was simply an observation. We now have the technology to create and enforce our own rules, and this knowledge cannot be stopped. We can either rail against the inevitable, or use these tools to build the world we want.” The building block of personal safety is anonymity with transparency. “Public Key cryptography isn’t just for encrypting private messages,” Ou explained, “It also provides proof that the sender is who they say they are. When buyers and sellers conduct transactions, they sign messages with their private keys. The signatures become digital identifiers.” If this seems trivial in preventing violence, skeptics should talk to sex workers who can verify the crypto-identities of “safe” and reliable clients and then share those identities through an online database. Sex workers are among the most vulnerable people in any society to violence because of the privacy and intimacy of the exchange. An often overlooked role of a pimp is to ensure the safety of sex workers by screening customers. In short, pimps are trusted third parties to the exchange; like every trusted third party, they are often more abusive than not. Pimps also take a substantial part of all earnings. Cryptography can change that dynamic to benefit sex workers.
The foregoing examples merely hint at how crypto anarchism could revolutionize for the better some areas of human exchange that are most prone to violence. In each diverse case, the risk is minimized in the same manner: control is decentralized into the hands of the direct participants. And self-control is the antithesis of enduring violence. Self-control is almost a definition of living in peace.
The other aspect of how crypto anarchism addresses violence is to make the cost of that choice fall upon those who make it.
[To be continued next week.]
Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters

Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.
The post Wendy McElroy: From Drugs to Gold and Prostitution, the Blockchain Minimizes Violence appeared first on Bitcoin News.

The Daily: Japan Calls All Coins ‘Crypto Assets’, Russia Defines Cryptocurrency as Property

The Financial Services Agency of Japan has resolved to refer to cryptocurrencies as “crypto assets” in order to prevent confusion with legal tender. Also in The Daily, the Justice Ministry in Moscow has confirmed that it classifies digital coins as “other property.” Finally, according to a recent report, stablecoins have seen significant growth over the past few months.
Also read: Crashing Crypto Trader Shares Advice, Bitcoin Bandit Extradited
Japanese Regulator Renames Cryptocurrencies
Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has decided to call all cryptocurrencies “crypto assets,” the country’s leading daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The reasoning behind the decision is to help traders avoid confusing digital coins with legal tender recognized by the government in Tokyo. The regulator notes the price of many cryptos fluctuates wildly, there’s no evidence of value and it’s often unclear who is issuing them.

FCA’s advisory panel has produced a report this week in which its members claim the term “virtual currency” could cause misunderstanding, calling for its substitution. According to the document, the regulator’s recommendation is to revise all relevant Japanese laws and regulations. The revision is expected to cover different pieces of legislation such as the Payment and Services Law, which regulates the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.
The panel has also emphasized the need to establish a mechanism aimed at protecting users in events such as a “cash outflow,” as reported by Japan Times, the newspaper’s English language edition. To achieve that, the Financial Services Agency intends to oblige Japanese companies operating with crypto assets to implement strict management systems.
Cryptocurrency Is ‘Other Property’ Russian Ministry Says
Russia’s Justice Ministry has once again confirmed the property status of digital currencies. According to an official statement, “cryptocurrency can be classified as an object of civil rights and be subject to obligations.” The document has been issued by the ministry in response to a request for a legal interpretation of the term and reaffirms a previously declared stance.
The query has been filed by a group of traders who have been trying to attract the attention of Russian authorities to the case of the now inactive Wex crypto exchange, successor of the infamous BTC-e. They’ve published a copy of the statement in their Wex.nz Initiative Group Telegram channel. Wex users, who have been unable to withdraw their funds from the trading platform for months, have also filed complaints with the Interior Ministry in Moscow calling for an investigation.
The Ministry of Justice further explains that cryptocurrencies cannot be accepted as “electronic money” and notes that the holders of digital coins cannot raise claims against their issuers. Nevertheless, the department states that “cryptocurrency has a property value recognized by its turnover” and falls under the “other property” category as defined by Russian law, an opinion expressed earlier this year by Russia’s justice minister Alexander Konovalov.
To this day, cryptocurrencies remain unregulated in Russia, with several draft laws filed in parliament still under consideration. In its latest version, the main bill, “On Digital Financial Assets,” does not have the term “cryptocurrency” among its legal definitions. Members of the crypto community and industry organizations have called for its inclusion but according to a recent statement by the country’s deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov, authorities do not plan to make any significant amendments to the texts.
Stablecoins See Rapid Growth, Report Claims
Stablecoins have enjoyed growing adoption in recent months, reveals a report published by research company Diar. The transaction volumes of four new stablecoins – USDC, TUSD, GUSD and PAX – have increased by 1,032 percent, the authors claim. In terms of value, the total volume of transactions with the new stablecoins reached $2.3 billion in November, and $5 billion for a three-month period.
According to Diar, the paxos standard token (PAX), the most popular among these currencies, has attracted $93 million of volume. Its transactions volume is twice that of USD coin (USDC), a dollar-pegged crypto developed by San Francisco-headquartered digital asset exchange Coinbase in cooperation with crypto payments startup Circle. At the same time, the indicator has decreased for Trusttoken’s trueusd (TUSD) during the month of December.

Despite the significant drop in its capitalization last month, the most recognizable stablecoin, tether (USDT), is at the time of this writing the fourth largest digital currency by market capitalization.
What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Diar.

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Pantera Capital Braces for SEC Action Against 25 Percent of ICO Investments

Increasingly frequent action taken by the SEC against initial coin offerings is expected to lead to more cryptocurrency projects being forced to refund investors. Among those expected to be affected is the first U.S.-based cryptocurrency investment firm, Pantera Capital, with the company bracing to receive refunds on a quarter of its ICO investments.
Also Read: BTI Claims Only Two of Top 25 Crypto Exchanges Accurately Report Volume
Pantera Capital Anticipates a Quarter of ICOs in Portfolio May Be Targeted for Securities Violations
In a letter written by Dan Morehead and Joey Krug, Pantera’s co-chief investment officers announced the company’s expectation that one in four of its ICO investments will be deemed to comprise unlicensed securities. If that proves to be the case, the projects may be compelled to issue refunds to investors. The concerns have been sparked by the SEC’s Nov. 16 announcement that coin offerings Paragon Coin and Carriereq had issued tokens to non-accredited investors in violation of securities laws.
The letter states: “While we believe the vast majority of the projects in our portfolio should not be affected, approximately 25 percent of our fund’s capital is invested in projects with liquid tokens that sold to U.S. investors without using regulation D or regulation S,” adding “If any of these projects are deemed to be securities, the SEC’s position could adversely affect them.”
Further elaborating regarding the projects of concern, the letter estimates that “about a third (approximately 10 percent of the portfolio) are live and functional,” noting that “while they could technically continue without further development, ending development would hinder their progress.”
Pantera-Backed Paragon Coin Targeted by SEC
Paragon Coin, an ICO that received backing from Pantera, was fined $250,000 by the SEC on Nov. 16 for having failed to register its token sale with the agency. The company is also required to compensate investors who sold the tokens at a loss, in addition to those who are still holding Paragon Coin.
The SEC then described the action as comprising “the commission’s first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations,” adding that “Both companies have agreed to return funds to harmed investors, register the tokens as securities, file periodic reports with the commission, and pay penalties.”
Do you think we will see widespread refunds being issued by ICOs as regulatory pressure mounts? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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BTI Claims Only Two of Top 25 Crypto Exchanges Accurately Report Volume

The Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI) has published its December 2018 “Exchange Volumes Report,” claiming that only two of the top 25 cryptocurrency exchanges by reported volume on Coinmarketcap pairings accurately report their trade volume. The report also asserts that wash-trading is estimated to comprise 99 percent of the purported volume for 12 of the top 25 cryptocurrency pairings by reported volume.
Also Read: Cryptocurrency Enthusiasts Can Pay $10 Million for a 12-Night Stay in Space
BTI Claims Binance and Bitfinex Accurately Report Volume
According to the BTI’s December report, the two largest exchanges by trade volume are Binance and Bitfinex, both of which the report asserts do not distort their volume through wash-trading. According to Coinmarketcap’s reported volume rankings, as of this writing, Binance ranks as the third largest by 24-hour volume, with Bitfinex positioned at 21st place.
The BTI estimates that Upbit is the third largest exchange, despite ranking 39th on Coinmarketcap, followed by 27th-ranked Kraken, 34-ranked Coinbase, 41st-ranked Bitstamp, 54-ranked Bitflyer, 62nd-ranked Poloniex, 50th-ranked Bittrex, and 55th-ranked Gate.io. As such, BTI estimates that only one of the top 20 exchanges by reported volume should be ranked in the top 10.
The report also takes particular aim at Okex, claiming to have found “just about all of their top 30 traded tokens to be engaging in wash trading.”
Wash-Trading Estimated to Comprise 80% of Reported Volume Among Top 25 Crypto Pairings
BTI’s December volume rankings report also analyzed the purported volume of the top 25 virtual currency pairings by reported trade activity, again finding Binance and Bitfinex to have accurately reported trade volume.
Wash-trading has been estimated to comprise 80 percent of reported volume among top 25 crypto pairings. The BTI also found wash-trading forms 99 percent of trade activity for 12 of the pairings, including Coinbene’s top-ranked BTC/USDT pairing, Oex’s fifth-ranked ETH/BTC pairing, Digifinex’s eighth-ranked BTC/USDT pairing, and Coinbit’s ninth-ranked BTC/KRW pairing.
The BTI estimated only one percent of the reported trade volume to be genuine for the top 25-ranking pairings hosted on Coinsbank, Ooobtc, Rightbtc, Dobi trade, Bcex, Simex, and Coinzest.
Of Adjusted Volume Rankings by Crypto Pairing, 30% Found to Engage in Wash-Trading
Based on BTI’s research, the most-traded cryptocurrencies pairing is Binance’s BTC/USDT pairing, despite ranking third on Coinmarketcap at the time of the report’s publication. The BTI asserts that all of the top five-ranked pairings by adjusted volume to have accurately reported trade activity, with Bitfinex’s then fourth-ranked BTC/USD pairing ranking as the second largest by volume, followed by 33rd-ranked BTC/USD pairing on Coinbase, Bitflyer’s 42nd-ranked BTC/JPY pairing, and Kraken’s 47th-ranked BTC/USD pairing.
Despite the BTI finding only a quarter of the reported volume for the BTC/USDT pairings hosted by Hitbtc and Huobi to be genuine, both pairings retained their rankings as the sixth and seventh most traded cryptocurrency pairings.
Upbit was found to accurately report the volume of its BTC/KRW pairing. According to BTI, the pairing ranks as the eighth-most traded cryptocurrency pairing, despite ranking 60th according to Coinmarketcap. The purportedly second-ranked BTC/USDT on Okex was found to comprise the ninth most traded cryptocurrency market, despite only 11 percent of reported volume having been found to be genuine. BTI found the then 82nd-ranked BTC/USD pairing on Gemini to comprise the tenth most traded market, also estimating reported volume to be accurate.
The BTI warns token projects against paying to list on exchanges suspected of wash-trading, arguing that the tactic is employed to entice aspiring crypto projects into paying exorbitant listing fees.
What is your response to the BTI’s December findings? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Free Speech Social Network Gab Starts Accepting BTC

Gab, a social network dedicated to preserving freedom of speech, has announced that its store now accepts BTC directly after banks and payment processors denied the platform service. “Literally no one can no-platform our new crypto shop,” Gab announced. The platform integrated Btcpay Server after it was refused service by Coinbase and Bitpay.
Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations
Gab Begins Accepting BTC
Social network platform Gab announced on Thursday that its integration of Btcpay Server has been completed. Its store now accepts payments in BTC and LTC.
Launched as a free-speech alternative to Twitter in August 2016, this fast-growing website is currently used by several alt-right and libertarian personalities who have been censored from using popular social networks. Among Gab’s users are Alex Jones, Ann Coulter, Stefan Molyneux, and Milo Yiannopoulos.
Gab offers free accounts as well as four levels of pro membership, which are three months for $15, six months for $30, one year for $60, and five years for $200. Gab’s store also sells $25 “Make Speech Free Again” ballcaps. Btcpay is now the store’s only checkout option.
The platform tweeted on Thursday, “Literally no one can no-platform our new crypto shop. No one. Not banks. Not the media. Not activists. Not online mobs.”

About Btcpay
Btcpay is a free and open-source payment processor that allows anyone to directly receive payments in several cryptocurrencies “with no fees, transaction cost or a middleman,” its Github page describes. The software conforms to the same invoice API format as Bitpay, allowing merchants to easily migrate from using Bitpay’s paid service to the Btcpay platform.
Merchants can use the app to accept direct, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency payments without requiring know-your-customer (KYC) information, the software’s Github page details, adding:

Btcpay is a non-custodial invoicing system which eliminates the involvement of a third-party. Payments with Btcpay go directly to your wallet, which increases the privacy and security. Your private keys are never uploaded to the server. There is no address re-use since each invoice generates a new address deriving from your xpubkey.

Recovering From Censorship
Gab has been a victim of censorship for most of its existence, often resulting from racist views posted by some of its users. The matter came to a head on Oct. 27 when Gab made national headlines after one of its users, Robert Bowers, killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg.
Bowers was identified as a neo-Nazi who made anti-semitic threats on Gab, posting that he was “going in” just before the shooting. Paypal, Stripe, Godaddy, and Medium all terminated their relationships with Gab soon afterward, along with Gab’s web hosting provider. The platform was subsequently down for eight days as the company searched for a new web host. For about a month afterward, Gab’s only income was from customers mailing checks to the company’s headquarters.
Despite the media often painting the platform as an online haven for racists, Gab claims to have staff constantly monitoring all content posted on its platform for violations of its terms of service. Its stated restrictions on expression include threats of violence, promotion of terrorism, child pornography, revenge porn and doxing.
On Nov. 20, the company tweeted, “Gab has been denied by multiple banks during the underwriting process for a new payment processor. Multiple processors supported us, their banks did not.” The platform added, “Gab is the supreme example of why bitcoin exists. We will be integrating @Bitpay asap because @Coinbase already banned us.” However, after Bitpay also rejected the platform, Gab took the suggestion of several Twitter users to integrate Btcpay Server. In another tweet, Gab wrote:

You will never fully understand the power and importance of bitcoin until you go through the underwriting process with banks trying to get approved for online payment processing. They essentially want your unborn child, an arm, and all of your personal data to get an answer.

What do you think of Gab accepting BTC? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Btcpay Server, and Gab.

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The post Free Speech Social Network Gab Starts Accepting BTC appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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