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Showing posts with label Cryptocurrency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cryptocurrency. Show all posts
July 17, 2018

UK Set to Become Global Crypto and Blockchain Hub, Report Suggests

UK Set to Become Global Crypto and Blockchain Hub, Report Suggests
UK Set to Become Global Crypto and Blockchain Hub, Report Suggests

The UK has all the required resources to become a global hub for blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies within the next few years, a report published on Monday suggests.

The 960-page report authored by analytical companies Big Innovation Centre, DAG Global and Deep Knowledge, reveals that since 2017, over £500 million worth of investment has been poured into UK blockchain companies. This, combined with the UK's existing leadership in FinTech, as well as industrial and regulatory support led to the report's conclusion that the UK has the potential to become a world leader in the digital and crypto economy ecosystem by 2022.

DAG Global co-founder and CEO Sean Kiernan commented in a press release announcing the research findings: “The UK is a major global financial hub and in recent years has become a fintech leader as well. At the same time, it is starting to demonstrate significant potential to become a leader in blockchain technologies and the crypto economy. The gap between the two worlds of traditional finance and crypto economy remains, but in the coming years we can expect this to lessen and eventually disappear.”

“Blockchain has been recognised by the UK parliament as a very important and disruptive technology, and it has shown commitment to support the accelerated development of the digital economy via a variety of government initiatives,” Big Innovation Centre CEO Birgitte Andersen elaborated.

The UK has not been historically bullish on cryptocurrencies, however. Last month, the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a warning on cryptocurrencies, informing British banks about the potential risks posed by this new asset class and advising them to increase their scrutiny of clients offering crypto-related services.

Last September, the authority also released a formal warning on Initial Coins Offerings (ICOs), stating that they constitute “very high-risk, speculative investments”. In November, the FCA also warned about cryptocurrency Contracts for Differences (CFDs), which are a type of derivative trading. Around a month later, the FCA CEO Andrew Bailey said in a BBC interview that buying Bitcoin represents similar risks like gambling and, since it is neither backed by central authorities nor regulated, the cryptocurrency is not a safe investment.

The UK is expected to reveal cryptocurrency regulations later this year. In March, the FCA announced that it will be collaborating with the UK Treasury Committee and the Bank of England in drafting a discussion paper on various aspects, risks, and opportunities presented by cryptocurrencies.

Hong Kong regulator, banks launch blockchain-based trade finance platform

Hong Kong regulator, banks launch blockchain-based trade finance platform
© Reuters. Hong Kong regulator, banks launch blockchain-based trade finance platform

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong's banking regulator and seven banks, including HSBC Holdings PLC (L:HSBA) (HK:0005) and Standard Chartered PLC (L:STAN) (HK:2888), on Tuesday said they will jointly launch a trade finance platform in September using blockchain technology.

The platform will be one of the largest examples globally of a government-led, cross-bank effort to reform the multi-billion dollar trade finance sector using the distributed ledger technology that underpins digital currencies such as bitcoin.

The sector is often described as one of the most manual and paper-orientated parts of the financial services industry.

The blockchain project is aimed at digitizing documents and automating processes to reduce risk and increase the financing capability of the banking industry, said Howard Lee, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the territory's de facto central bank and banking regulator

"The next major milestone ... is to link up with other trade platforms in other jurisdictions to further facilitate cross-border trades," Lee said in a joint statement with the participating firms.

A 2017 survey by the Asian Development Bank found the global trade finance gap - the amount of unmet demand for trade finance - was $1.5 trillion, 40 percent of which originated from the Asia-Pacific region.

Market participants hope emerging technology, including blockchain, will allow them to serve more clients while also serving existing clients more effectively.

To that end, banks, governments and technology firms have been investing in technology for trade finance.

In May, HSBC and ING Groep NV (AS:INGA) said they performed the world's first trade finance transaction using a single blockchain platform. The platform, Corda, was developed by New York-based blockchain consortium R3..

The other banks involved in the Hong Kong initiative are BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd (HK:2388), Hang Seng Bank Ltd (HK:0011), Bank of East Asia Ltd (HK:0023), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (AX:ANZ) and Singapore's DBS Group Holdings Ltd (SI:DBSM).

The technology will be provided by Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd (SS:601318) (HK:2318).
July 16, 2018

Global regulators start monitoring crypto assets

Global regulators start monitoring crypto assets
Global regulators start monitoring crypto assets

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Global regulators have published a framework for “vigilantly” monitoring risks from crypto assets like bitcoin (BTC=BTSP) and ether, even though they don’t pose a major risk to financial stability for now.

Wild swings in crypto asset prices have prompted central bankers to warn investors they could lose every penny. It is unclear at times which financial rules, if any, apply to the sector or if there is legal authority to regulate it.

Start ups have begun issuing new digital currencies via initial coin offerings (ICOs), raising concern among regulators over investor protection.

The aim of the new framework is to spot any financial stability risks early enough to take action.

The Financial Stability Board (FSB), which coordinates financial regulation for the Group of 20 Economies (G20), said the framework focuses on how risks from crypto asset markets could spread to other parts of the financial system.

“Monitoring the size and growth of crypto-asset markets is critical to understanding the potential size of wealth effects, should valuations fall,” the FSB said in a statement on Monday.

“The use of leverage, and financial institution exposures to crypto-asset markets are important metrics of transmission of crypto-asset risks to the broader financial system.”

The aim of the new framework is to spot any financial stability risks early enough to take action.

But the FSB cautioned that data is still patchy at times in a rapidly developing market that can be fragmented and opaque. It would assess whether the framework will need extra data at a later stage.

Moves to formally monitor the sector forms part of a compromise in March between G20 members like France, who wanted more radical action, and other countries who preferred treading lightly for now.

The FSB framework also includes trading volumes, pricing, clearing and margining for derivatives linked to crypto assets, such as the bitcoin futures launched by CME Group (O:CME) last December.

Crypto assets in general and crypto asset trading platforms do not pose global financial stability risks, but they raise other significant concerns, including consumer and investor protection, market integrity and money laundering/terrorism financing, the FSB said.

It said its affiliate, the Basel Committee, which writes bank capital standards, is conducting an “initial stocktake” of banks’ exposures to crypto assets.

The committee is also looking at whether regulators are forcing lenders to set aside capital against holdings of crypto assets, and considering whether to rewrite its rules to explicitly require such holdings to be covered.

UK’s First Crypto-Friendly Mosque Gets 14,000 Pounds in Crypto Donations

UK’s First Crypto-Friendly Mosque Gets 14,000 Pounds in Crypto Donations
UK’s First Crypto-Friendly Mosque Gets 14,000 Pounds in Crypto Donations

The first UK mosque to start accepting cryptocurrency donations raked in 14,000 pounds in Bitcoin and Ether during the month of Ramadan. In contrast, regular cash donations generated a mere 3,500 pounds for Masjid Ramadan, or Shacklewell Lane Mosque, as reported by iNews.

“It’s new money. It’s moving with the times. It’s no different from transferring money from the bank,” Masjid Ramadan chairman Erkin Guney told iNews back in May, when the mosque first announced plans to accept Bitcoin and Ethereum Sadaqah (Islamic voluntary charity).

Islamic teachings oblige Muslims to make annual charity donations (known as Zakat) during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Only the poorest are exempt, with the rest having to contribute 2.5% of their personal wealth.

The Shacklewell Lane Mosque received over 24 individual crypto donations from around the world, the largest being worth 5,200 pounds. The mosque authorities managed to raise almost 40% over their original goal of 10,000 pounds, which is still four times the usual donations received during the month of Ramadan. Most of the crypto collections will go towards essential repairs at the mosque, soup kitchens and shelters, and funeral costs for low-income Muslim families.

Guney said:

“Many people at the mosque were initially skeptical about us accepting this new money…When the donations started to flow in, we were blown away. We received four times more in cryptocurrency donations than in cash from our local worshippers during Ramadan, and we are still receiving cryptocurrency Sadaqah [donations]. It is amazing!”

The mosque received advice on handling the crypto donations from Combo Innovation, a London-based startup with a focus on blockchain and Islamic finance.

“I hope other mosques and charities will now follow Masjid Ramadan’s lead to take advantage of this important new revenue stream,” commented Combo Innovation founder Gurmit Singh.

Whether cryptocurrencies are halal according to Islamic study is still up for debate. The Mufti of Egypt has emerged as a critic, slamming the anonymity of crypto users as well as the lack of regulations. However, Guney believes cryptocurrencies to be fully compatible with Muslim teachings.

“Any money or currency is neither halal – permissible – nor haram – impermissible. Guidance is about the value which it represents,” he told the news outlet in May.

Zayd al Khair, who advises the mosque on religious matters, added at the time:

“Cryptocurrency is new, but its usage is growing. In these circumstances, someone needs to lead. We’ve started this ground-breaking campaign. If it’s successful, I am sure many more mosques and [Islamic] charities will embrace crypto-currencies too.”

Jersey Island Enforces ICO Investor Protection Measures

Jersey Island Enforces ICO Investor Protection Measures
Jersey Island Enforces ICO Investor Protection Measures

The island of Jersey, a British Crown dependency, has issued a package of measures aimed to protect investors in the crypto funding method of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) announced on Friday. The measures are planned as guidance for ICO issuers and include several issues such as anti-money laundering requirements.

“Most ICOs are unlikely to be regulated by the JFSC. Instead, the JFSC places some conditions on an issuer of an ICO (an ICO issuer),” the regulator explained in the guidance note.

All Jersey-based ICO issuers must file a Control of Borrowing Order (COBO) consent with JFSC, to incorporate the ICO issuer as a Jersey company, which must be administered through a trust and service provider licensed by the JFSC to carry on trust company business (TCSP), the regulator explained.

ICO companies must apply anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) measures as well as steps to mitigate and manage the risks of retail investors participating in ICOs.

The token-issuer must have procedures that properly inform investors about risk related ICOs and to use JFSC adopted risk warning:

“Token sales or coin offerings are typically a highly speculative form of investment. Investors should be prepared for the possibility of losing their investment completely. Investment in token sales or coin offerings is not subject to existing capital market regulations and protections.I understand these risks and wish to proceed to purchase tokens or coins from [ISSUER NAME].”

JFSC separated ICO coins in two categories: security and non-security tokens. The first type has the characteristics of equity or a debt security in the traditional capital markets sense, such as the right to participate in the profits or earnings of the ICO issuer, the regulator explained.

The second coin type has two subcategories: utility token, which gives holders a right to access a product or service, and the so-called cryptocurrency token that is developed to be like currency.

JFSC is willing to consider relaxing some conditions for non-security tokens in certain circumstances as they are not deemed securities.

Last month, Binance cryptocurrency exchange announced a plan to open an office in Jersey.
July 10, 2018

Accenture Joins Blockchain Consortium Focused on Insurance Industry

Accenture Joins Blockchain Consortium Focused on Insurance Industry
Accenture Joins Blockchain Consortium Focused on Insurance Industry

Accenture, a leading professional services and management consulting company, said on Monday it has become part of The Institutes RiskBlock™ Alliance, a blockchain-oriented consortium focused on risk management and insurance market. Accenture, which is listed on the NYSE with the ticker ACN, will be responsible for developing a production-grade system to implement the distributed ledger technology (DLT). The upcoming platform will allow the consortium to trial several use cases by the end of this year.

Christopher G. McDaniel, who leads the consortium, commented on the move:

“Partnering with Accenture to develop real-world blockchain applications will lead to better insurance solutions and chart a clear course for effectively implementing blockchain technology throughout the insurance industry.”

Michael Costonis, the head of Accenture’s Insurance practice, stated:

“As insurers increasingly rely on partnerships to create business efficiencies and improve customer experiences, blockchain technology will be critical to holding partners accountable without first needing to establish trust.”

“RiskBlock has built a powerful alliance, and we’re eager to work with them to develop scalable blockchain use cases in insurance. Blockchain has the power to simplify, secure and speed up the way the insurance industry works,” he added.

Accenture will collaborate with the consortium by designing and developing the blockchain platform that would enable the realization of multiple use cases. Once the system is ready, Accenture will maintain and update it according to the business demand within RiskBlock group.

The goal of RiskBlock is to leverage blockchain to satisfy policyholders’ needs and cut costs by streamlining the payment procedures, improving the accuracy of data, and reducing fraud. The consortium has defined over 40 use cases and is keen to trial several systems, such as “first notice of loss” data-sharing process, “proof of insurance” application that allows car drivers and law enforcement to confirm insurance coverage accuracy almost in real-time, and a payments tool based on smart contracts.

RiskBlock has added over 30 insurance companies and brokers in the last 12 months.

Given its involvement with blockchain technology, Accenture made the list of the Reality Shares Nasdaq Blockchain Economy Index, created by Reality Shares and Nasdaq.
July 08, 2018

Benson Oak’s new fund to invest in Israeli blockchain technology

Benson Oak’s new fund to invest in Israeli blockchain technology
Un entrepreneur australien du nom de Craig Wright a déclaré lundi à la BBC être le créateur de la monnaie numérique "Bitcoin", mettant fin à des années de rumeurs concernant l'identité d'une personne qui, jusqu'à présent, se présentait sous l'identité de "Satoshi Nakamoto". /Photo d'archives/REUTERS/Benoît Tessier

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – European investment bank Benson Oak said on Sunday it has secured $25 million in investment commitments for a new Israel-dedicated fund and plans to raise $100 million in total.

The new fund, Benson Oak Ventures, will support Israeli startups, with an emphasis on blockchain technologies.

Benson Oak’s first technology fund from 2003 included an investment in Internet security company AVG, which generated a return of 100 times investment after the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Benson Oak has established three funds that invested in high-tech in the United States, the Czech Republic and Israel.

Benson Oak Ventures’ investors include private individuals, family offices and strategic companies from around the world.
July 07, 2018

FedEx Institute Partners With Pharmacy to Use Blockchain for Cancer Medicine Distribution

FedEx Institute Partners With Pharmacy to Use Blockchain for Cancer Medicine Distribution
FedEx Institute Partners With Pharmacy to Use Blockchain for Cancer Medicine Distribution

The FedEx Institute of Technology has announced its partnership with pharmacy services company Good Shepherd Pharmacy to develop new blockchain-based infrastructure to help cancer patients get medications, news outlet Commercial Appeal reported July 6.

The FedEx Institute of Technology is an organization that serves as a promoter of interdisciplinary research in emerging technologies that operates in tandem with the research infrastructure of the University of Memphis. The institutions launched the Institute in February of this year in order to make University of Memphis a center of technology and research.

Memphis-based Good Shepherd Pharmacy reportedly recognized blockchain as a means to retrieve unused medications from cancer patients and pass them on to economically disadvantaged patients who would not be able to regularly afford them. A secure and immutable ledger would allow for a safe and confidential distribution of medical information. Good Shepherd Pharmacy's CEO Phil Baker said:

“In Tennessee alone, over $10 million worth of perfectly good prescription medication gets flushed down the toilet every year. Blockchain is the solution for that problem. The REMEDI project (REclaiming MEDicine) will divert valuable medication into the hands of patients who would not otherwise use it."

The Institute will host an event to attract blockchain experts and enthusiasts to discuss Good Shepherd’s proposed initiative. The event will be held in tandem with Blockchain 901, a professional organization that aims to expand the tech workforce in the Memphis area.

In May, FedEx CEO Fred Smith said that blockchain is “the next frontier that’s going to completely change worldwide supply chains.” In February, FedEx joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a focus group whose members include rail operator BNSF, JD Logistics, and GE Transportation.

Last month, another blockchain-based pharmaceutical project was announced by Microsoft and supply tracking solutions provider Adents. The new system offers end-to-end traceability and visibility from the point of origin along the whole supply chain, which allows users to trace single product items within a case.
July 06, 2018

Dutch ETF Group Flow Traders Enters Crypto Market

 Dutch ETF Group Flow Traders Enters Crypto Market
Dutch ETF Group Flow Traders Enters Crypto Market

Amsterdam-based Flow Traders, Europe’s main exchange-traded funds (ETF) provider, has decided to enter the crypto market defying risk warnings from the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM).

Flow Traders co-CEO Dennis Dijkstra said in a Bloomberg interview on Thursday that the firm has expanded its trading products to exchange-traded notes (ETNs) based on Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Dijkstra said Flow Traders is hedging its trades of crypto notes with futures contracts run by CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) and Cboe Global Markets, but declined to reveal whether the company is also using the underlying cryptocurrencies to hedge.

The disclosure makes Flow Traders the first firm to publicly acknowledge that it is actively trading crypto ETNs on regulated stock exchanges. This possibly serves as a vote of confidence in the virtual currency market and is significant for the future of institutional investment in crypto.

“People underestimate crypto. It’s big, and it is to be regulated very soon. The market participants are much more professional than people think. Institutional investors are interested — we know they are because we get requests,” Dijkstra stated.

Until recently, financial institutions viewed cryptocurrencies as an untouchable asset. For the most part, that’s still the case. However, the launch of Bitcoin futures by CBOE and CME put the cryptocurrency world on the launchpad to mainstream status.

Flow Traders is joining other major financial institutions making a foray into

the cryptocurrency space. In May, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), one of the largest investment banks in the world, started trading derivatives based on Bitcoin. UK banking giant Barclays (LON:BARC) has also recently been rumored to be setting up a digital-asset trading desk. While CEO Jes Staley, rebuffed the speculation, he acknowledged that the lender was looking into virtual currency trading and other blockchain-related opportunities.
AFM Warnings

Dutch authorities have taken a negative stance towards crypto, with the AFM releasing a statement where it described it as “prone to abuse” and “not an asset class.”

“We discourage activities in cryptos both by consumers and professional license holders,” Nienke Torensma, a spokeswoman for the AFM said, as quoted by Bloomberg. “By virtue of its newness and the anonymity it potentially offers, it is very prone to abuse. Given its inability to serve the promised purpose as a currency, we don't regard it to be an asset class.”

Despite the regulator’s warnings, Flow Traders or any other firm in the country cannot be stopped from trading regulated crypto instruments on regulated exchanges, as there is currently no legal basis for such a restriction.
July 05, 2018

Japan’s Tech Bureau Spins Off Blockchain, Software Sales Business

Japan’s Tech Bureau Spins Off Blockchain, Software Sales Business
Japan’s Tech Bureau Spins Off Blockchain, Software Sales Business

Japan-based Tech Bureau Corp, a blockchain and cryptocurrency-oriented company, announced that it would spin-off its software sales and blockchain solutions division into Tech Bureau Holdings. After the spin-off, the parent company will focus on its crypto exchange Zaif. Tech Bureau, which was founded four years ago, has also developed blockchain software Mijin and COMSA, a solution for companies to raise funds via initial coin offerings (ICOs) and asset tokenization.

“By establishing the new company, Tech Bureau Holdings, Corp., it shall enable Tech Bureau, Corp. to focus on its efforts more closely on the Zaif, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange, which shall become a great opportunity to gain its corporate value by arranging to further improve the convenience of that business so that customers may continue to select it as their exchange of choice,” the company stated.

The new entity – Tech Bureau Holdings – will focus on Mijin, blockchain solutions, and sales businesses, including COMSA Core and COMSA Hub. The company’s other international branches – Tech Bureau North America and Tech Bureau Europe – will be run by Tech Bureau Holdings.

Zaif is one of Japan’s licensed cryptocurrency exchanges. It currently accounts for a quarter of the total trading volume of NEM, the 16th largest cryptocurrency on Coinmarketcap.

In February, Zaif experienced a glitch in the system that enabled customers to get free Bitcoins. Several users could buy Bitcoin for a zero-yen value for about 20 minutes. The error took place soon after a major hack of Coincheck, another Japanese crypto exchange. Zaif, Coincheck, and several other exchanges were then inspected by the local regulators.

As for Tech Bureau’s blockchain product Mijin, it uses NEM protocol and has several applications. Last year, Hitachi, which is also a founding member of the Hyperledger consortium, partnered with Tech Bureau to use Mijin for its point management solution “PointInfinity,” which has 150 million users.
July 04, 2018

Viber Launches Rakuten Coin in Russia in 2019

Viber Launches Rakuten Coin in Russia in 2019
Viber Launches Rakuten Coin in Russia in 2019

Rakuten - the Japanese behemoth of e-commerce, which owns Viber messaging platform, will launch its own digital coin in Russia, Viber's Chief Executive Officer Djamel Agaoua told reporters at a press-conference on Tuesday.

The Rakuten coin will be based on the messaging app and supported by the entire Rakuten system. The company hopes to make it available in Russia across the Viber network via a Viber wallet within the next 6-12 months.
Murky waters of Russian regulation

This Rakuten Coin will be tradeable in Viber against the US dollar, euro, and, possibly Russian ruble. Currently, the company is studying the Russian cryptocurrency legislation to figure out whether it is necessary to obtain a license from the local regulator and what steps should be taken in order to launch coins in Russia. Russia’s cryptocurrency regulation is vague as the government has yet to pass the bill on digital assets and decide how to deal with them.

The new digital coin will allow Viber users to access Rakuten e-commerce platform and pay for the services via the Viber messaging platform. Currently, the company has over one billion registered users worldwide with about 45 million of them living in Russia.
Viber is not alone

Viber is not the first communication platform trying to capitalize on the crypto hype. Telegram - another popular messenger in Russia - raised $1.7 billion from an ICO, which will eventually result in Gram coin being issued. Unlike other ICO projects, Telegram’s investors paid fiat money for the right to receive Gram coin once it comes to life.

South Korean conglomerate Naver is also exploring the opportunities of new form of money via its Japanese subsidiary, the popular pan-Asian messaging platform Line. It is likely that other leading communication services and platforms will attempt to enter the crypto universe this year.

Crypto Exchange Thefts Spike in First Half of 2018

Crypto Exchange Thefts Spike in First Half of 2018
Crypto Exchange Thefts Spike in First Half of 2018

Despite the best efforts of governments, cryptocurrency exchanges are still dropping like flies, suffering from breaches that leave them with massive losses. In the first half of this year, the total amount of money stolen from crypto exchanges has tripled compared to the whole 2017.

“In the last two years alone, some of the best and brightest criminal minds made off with $1.2 billion in cryptocurrency from exchanges. The first half of 2018 experienced a three-fold increase over the entire year of 2017. In addition, the FBI has reported an almost six-fold increase in the value of virtual currency in complaints from 2015 to 2017,” a report by cyber security company CipherTrace said.

Interestingly enough, one would have expected more of these attacks in 2017, when the cryptocurrency market exploded to just under a trillion dollars. However, it appears that hackers as a collective — much like other demographics — need time to adapt to changes.

Nonetheless, CipherTrace’s report noted that criminals often adopt new technologies quickly.

“Crypto transactions do not require criminals to use their real names, bank account numbers, etc., which can enable them to evade the watchful eye of law enforcement and other investigators,” the report added.

Funds that hackers obtain from exchanges can rarely be recovered. They can easily be laundered into privacy coins, which conceal transaction sizes, balances and many other factors that authorities could use to heuristically trace their origins.

We saw this a few months ago when a security company in Tokyo showed that most of the NEM stolen in the famous Coincheck hack were quickly laundered into other coins that were nearly impossible to trace using current methods.

This may have prompted the exchange to remove all its listings of privacy coins after its acquisition by Monex, but there may have also been other reasons, such as anticipated regulatory trouble.

Given how vulnerable the cryptocurrency community is at the exchange level, we can expect governments to enact sterner legislation that raises the cybersecurity standards of operators on this market.
July 03, 2018

SEC Charges Two for Illegal Sales of UBI Blockchain Stocks

SEC Charges Two for Illegal Sales of UBI Blockchain Stocks
SEC Charges Two for Illegal Sales of UBI Blockchain Stocks

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged two people for the illicit sale of UBI Blockchain stocks, according to a press release published on Monday. Attorney T.J. Jesky and business affairs manager Mark F. DeStefano have allegedly made approximately USD 1.4 million after selling restricted shares.

“This case is a prime example of why the SEC has warned retail investors to be cautious before buying stock in companies that suddenly claim to have a blockchain business,” said Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the SEC Division of Enforcement’s Cyber Unit.

Jesky and DeStefano did not admit or deny the allegations, but did agree to return approximately USD 1.4 million, as well as to pay USD 188 682 in penalties, and be subject to permanent injunctions.

The two Nevada residents received 72 000 restricted shares of the Hong Kong-based company in October of last year. T.J. Jesky’s acted as UBI’s attorney at law. Mark F. DeStafano is the associate business affairs manager of T.J. Jesky’s law firm, Jesky Law. The two individuals were permitted to sell their shares at a fixed price of USD 3.70. According to the US financial watchdog the shares were instead sold at prices ranging from USD 21.12 to USD 48.40

UBI Blockchain – Riding and Crashing with the Bitcoin Craze

UBI Blockchain stock prices rose from USD 9 to USD 87 in a single week during December of last year. During the peak of the surge, UBI Blockchain became the second most valuable publicly traded company related to bitcoin after LongFin Corp.

The 966% spike prompted Bloomberg to investigate the company. The much publicized findings revealed UBI Blockchain had only 18 employees and no revenue. The company was previously known as JA Energy, before changing its name in 2016. In January SEC temporarily suspended trading of the Hong Kong-based company’s shares amidst concerns of accuracy of assertions in its SEC filings.
June 30, 2018

Malta Now “Blockchain Island” After Passing Three Blockchain Bills

Malta Now “Blockchain Island” After Passing Three Blockchain Bills
“Blockchain Island” After Passing Three Blockchain Bills

The Maltese Parliament passed three cryptocurrency and blockchain bills into law on Tuesday, thus becoming one of the most attractive places for blockchain startups. The bills were proposed by Silvio Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, and were passed with unanimous votes.

The new laws regulate initial coin offering (ICOs), cryptocurrencies, and the businesses practices for launching a crypto-oriented company in Malta. Schembri tweeted after the parliamentary vote:

The three bills are as follows:

The Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA) – This law touches upon ICOs, which are a new form of fundraising. The law stipulates that startups looking to conduct ICOs have to come up with white papers that describe in detail the whole project, a practice that is currently followed by most startups. Also, ICO firms will have to publish their financial history.
The Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act – the second law regulates the crypto and blockchain market and sets up a new regulatory entity called the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA). The body will be led by a Board of Governors and a CEO. The first CEO of the new authority is Stephen McCarthy.
Technology Arrangements and Services Bill – the third law discusses the registration and licensing procedures for blockchain service providers. It also addresses the registration of a crypto exchange on Malta’s territory. Crypto watchers hope that this law will attract major crypto exchanges from around the world.

Malta has been known as an ideal destination for crypto and blockchain startups even before these bills were passed into laws. Several major players in the industry, including Binance and OKEx, have established offices in Malta.

At the beginning of this month, we reported that Malta was running with its blockchain trial for credentials. If the experiment succeeds, it might be extended at the national level to reach all areas of the education system and let the 400,000 residents store their educational records on a blockchain platform.
June 07, 2018

Van Eck, SolidX seek to launch bitcoin-linked ETF

The Bitcoin logo is seen on a pillow on display at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City, New York, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Asset manager Van Eck Securities Corp and blockchain company SolidX Partners Inc plan to launch a bitcoin-linked investment product that could be traded as easily as a stock, the two companies said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

The exchange-traded product, called VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Shares, will be insured against theft, fraud and loss of access to the currency, according to the filing, which is subject to a review by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The companies said they intend to buy and sell bitcoin in informally organized “over-the counter” bitcoin markets to cap transaction costs, while trading large blocks of the cryptocurrency.

Van Eck, which had $46 billion in assets under management, and several other fund managers had previously pushed for exchange-traded funds based on bitcoin futures instead of directly investing in the cryptocurrency.

This was to address concerns that bitcoin exchanges were not regulated by traditional financial market overseers, unlike the futures market.

The SEC has either denied or tabled all bitcoin ETF proposals received so far, joining a long list of regulators that have taken a tough stance against products and securities related to digital currencies.

Van Eck and SolidX hope to list the product on the Cboe exchange under the symbol “XBTC”.

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