“Regulatory Compliance Is A Must, Not A Decision,” says Binance CEO As Malaysia, India, And Europe Strike Yet Again

“Regulatory Compliance Is A Must, Not A Decision,” says Binance CEO As Malaysia, India, And Europe Strike Yet Again

Malaysia’s SC has taken enforcement action against Binance, giving it 14 days to completely close its business while India’s AML agency is investigating the exchange’s role in betting apps. In Europe, Binance is winding down its futures and derivatives products offerings, starting with Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Another day and another round of regulatory onslaught. Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance can’t seem to take a break as a string of global regulators sends their warnings.

But CEO Changpeng Zhao is maintaining his composure as he works towards compliance, saying, “Sometimes, small setbacks are necessary for bigger long-term growth. Keep on building.”

“Regulatory compliance is a must, not a decision. And it leads to MORE market access and adoption, not less. Crypto adoption is probably around 2% now. Let’s go get the other 98% onboard,” tweeted CZ on Friday in response to this latest barrage of regulatory scrutiny.

Malaysia Takes Enforcement Action

To start with, Malaysia’s SC announced today that it is taking enforcement actions against Binance for illegally operating a Digital Asset Exchange (DAX) in the country. It reads,

“Under Sections 7(1) and 34(1) of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007, all DAX operators must be registered as Recognized Market Operators (RMO) by the SC.”

Binance was first included in the regulators’ Investor Alert List in July 2020. Then a public reprimand was issued against Cayman Island registered Binance Holdings Ltc., its CEO CZ, and three other Binance entities registered in the UK, Lithuania, and Singapore for operating illegally.

Now, Binance Holdings, Binance Digital Limited, Binance UAB, and Binance Asia Services Pte Ltd, are ordered by the SC to disable their website and mobile applications within 14 business days of 26 July 2021 and cease all media and marketing activities. The SC said,

“Investors are advised to stop dealing with and investing through illegal DAX. Those who currently have accounts with Binance are strongly urged to cease trading through its platforms immediately and to withdraw all their investments immediately.”

Winding Down Derivatives Trading in Europe

Meanwhile, in Europe, Binance is shutting down derivatives and futures products offering across the Europe region, starting with Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. The exchange said,

“With immediate effect, users from these countries will not be able to open new futures or derivatives products accounts. With effect from a later date to be announced in a further notice, users from these countries will have 90 days to close their open positions.”

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has already cracked down on the exchange, with several banks restricting their services to the platform. Regulators in Germany have also previously raised concerns about Binance selling tokenized stocks.

Binance yielding to regulatory pressure started earlier this week when the exchange announced KYC compliance and reduced its daily withdrawal limit to 0.06 BTC for non-verified users.

India Investigating its Role in Betting Apps

As for India, the country’s anti-money laundering agency is examining if Binance Holdings had a role to play in an online investigation involving betting apps, reported Bloomberg citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The Enforcement Directorate reportedly summons Binance executives for questioning.

India has already been probing betting apps run by Chinese operators for allegedly laundering money through the cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, acquired by Binance in 2019. These betting apps collected more than 10 billion rupees ($134 million) over the past ten months.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Hovers at $40k as USD Slides After Fed Says No End to Tapering Anytime Soon

The US central bank has made no decision regarding the timing of the tapering; as such, the market has now shifted its focus on the Jackson Hole conference of central bankers in late August.

After eight straight days of green candles, the longest winning streak in 2021, Bitcoin is comfortably trading around and above $40,000.

The price of BTC is up more than 24% in the past 7-days, 38% YTD, and 268.5% in the past year, the leading cryptocurrency is still green as ever.

The second-largest crypto Ether is also enjoying a $2,300 level, which is up 218% YTD and 632% in the last year. The total crypto market cap is back above $1.6 trillion, as per CoinGecko. ETH 3.66% Ethereum / USD ETHUSD $ 2,384.26
Volume 16.32 b Change $87.26 Open $2,384.26 Circulating 116.89 m Market Cap 278.7 b
8 h Altcoins, Not Bitcoin, Drives the Latest ‘Massive’ Surge in Crypto Adoption: Report 9 h Bitcoin Chills Around $40k as USD Slides After Fed Says It Has A Ways to Go Before Tapering Ends; GDP Rises Slightly, Better than Q1 10 h Paypal Reports “Strong Adoption & Trading Of Crypto” In Q2; Currently Working On Allowing Transfers To Third-party Wallets

Spot gold rose 0.8% today to $1,821 an ounce but is still down 4.5% YTD, while the dollar index has been going down since last week, now under the 92 level last seen late last month.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced three basis points to 1.26%, while little was changed with Germany’s 10-year yield at -0.44% with Britain’s 10-year yield advancing one basis point to 0.59%.

This positive action in the risk-on assets has been on the optimism that the Federal Reserve won’t start taping stimulus anytime soon. In Wednesday’s policy meeting, the Fed kept the interest rates in a range near zero while meaning its asset purchase at $120 billion a month.

While the officials have started to discuss how to go about scaling back the bond-buying when the time comes, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has yet again given the market reassurance that there’s still some way to go. It is simply, as expected, boosting sentiment.

“We haven’t made any decisions about the timing,” said Powell, adding they made their first real “deep dive” into discussions about the timing, pace, and composition of future asset purchases during this meeting.

While some US central bank policymakers said they want to end their monthly $40 billion of MBS purchases faster than the $80 billion in Treasuries because of the hot US housing market, Powell doesn’t think so.

“There really is little support for the idea of tapering MBS earlier than Treasuries. I think we will taper them at the same time,” Powell said at a press conference following the central bank’s latest two-day policy meeting.

BlackRock CIO Rick Rieder sees the Fed beginning to outline tapering at Jackson Hole late next month but says more specificity will be given at its September policy-setting meeting.

Powell also said that he is in the process of writing a speech to be delivered at the annual Jackson Hole conference of central bankers on Aug. 26-28.

As for why yields are still falling, Powell attributed that to the technical factor that “you can’t quite explain,” inflation expectation moderating, and decline in real yields as investors get concerned about a slowdown in growth due to the spread of coronavirus’ delta variant.

“We’ve seen long-term yields come down significantly.”

“I don’t think that there’s a real consensus on what explains the moves between the last meeting and this meeting.”

On Thursday, meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that the US economy rose at a disappointing rate in Q2, with GDP reporting an increase of 6.5% on an annualized basis during the April-to-June period, slightly better than the 6.3% gain in Q1 but well below economists’ forecasts of 8.4%.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance also missed the mark with 400k total above the 380k expectation.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has voted to move ahead with a broad infrastructure package of roughly $1 trillion. This bill includes new tax reporting obligations for crypto to fund a portion of their investment into transportation and power systems.

“Despite the popularity and the need for it, Washington hasn’t been able to get it done. This time, we’re going to get it done,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio).

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Author: AnTy

SEC Extends Decision On WisdomTree’s Bitcoin ETF Application

The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has postponed its decision on WisdomTree’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application.

SEC Seeks Public Comments On WisdomTree’s Application

The SEC pushed back its decision to get feedback from the public on WisdomTree’s application. According to the federal securities regulator, public comments would help ascertain whether the ETF would be safe for investors.

The public would be required to communicate their position on whether the ETF should be approved or denied.

The SEC also wants to know if the public thinks that the proposed Bitcoin ETF would be susceptible to market manipulation. It also intends to determine if the ETF is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices. The SEC explained,

“The Exchange asserts that the manipulation concerns previously articulated by the Commission are sufficiently mitigated to the point that quantifiable investor protection issues outweigh them.”

Members of the public are expected to submit their comments to the Federal Register within 21 days, while rebuttals would be filed 35 days from publication.

The SEC is still struggling to decide on whether to approve an ETF or not. This is the second time the regulator is asking for public comment on the same WisdomTree’s application.

The first time the commission asked for public comments was in April this year, a month after WisdomTree first filed its Bitcoin ETF application. On May 26, the SEC designated even a longer time to approve or disapprove WisdomTree’s proposed rule change.

WisdomTree has been working on ETFs since last year.

In June 2020, the firm applied for an ETF focused majorly on agriculture, energy, and metals, in which 5% of the assets would be invested in Bitcoin futures contracts. In addition to its Bitcoin ETF, the firm also filed for an Ethereum ETF in May this year.

WisdomTree Investments was founded in 2006 as an asset management firm based in the US. The company has subsidiaries in Canada, Europe, and Japan and was established by Jonathan Steinberg.

The SEC Continues Stalling ETF Applications

The SEC is still reviewing several applications for both Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs. Some of the applications have come from firms like VanEck, Kryptoin, and Fidelity. The regulator is yet to approve any crypto ETF within the US.

Proponents claim that a Bitcoin ETF can help investors by creating a more regulated market. Yet, the SEC continues to stall while citing volatility and market manipulation as key concerns in rejecting the ETF applications.

Former chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Timothy Massad, recently urged the SEC to approve a Bitcoin ETF. In a Bloomberg opinion piece, Massad said the SEC should look into approving an ETF in a way that would enhance transparency and integrity in the industry.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce has also made solid points supporting the approval of a Bitcoin ETF. According to CNBC, Peirce said a Bitcoin ETF approval is overdue and argued that the rejections for such funds are a kind of double standard.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

VanEck Files for the First Ethereum ETF in the US

While awaiting a decision on its Bitcoin ETF, which the Securities and Exchange Commission has postponed to July, VanEck filed for an Ethereum exchange-traded fund (ETF).

If approved, the VanEck Ethereum Trust would hold Ether and value its shares daily based on the MVIS CryptoCompare Ethereum benchmark rate and list those shares on the Cboe BZX Exchange, as per the filing with the SEC.

While the first one in America, already three Ether ETFs are trading in Canada after making their debut last month.

“Canada approving Ethereum ETFs so quickly on the heels of Bitcoin ETFs is part of the reasoning for this filing,” said James Seyffart, ETF analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

“I don’t see the SEC approving an Ethereum ETF until we have a Bitcoin ETF that has already begun trading. It’s possible that other issuers will follow suit because VanEck has been leading the charge with these filings in the last five months or so.”

While at least eleven companies are looking to launch a crypto ETF, US regulators have yet to approve a single one. Nine companies have filed for applications since the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, a small exchange-traded fund that changed its ticker to BTC last month is now reversing the move.

The issuer of ClearShares Piton Intermediate Fixed Income ETF said in a brief filing with the SEC this week that it will revert to the ticker PIFI from May 11, without any explanations for the same.

While initially, it looked like a bull market thing, a company trying to ride the coattails of crypto’s success, later, as we reported, there was speculation that Grayscale Investment might be the one looking to launch its ETF through ClearShares.

Grayscale said at the time that it was taking a stake in ClearShares and then later announced that it was “100% committed” its GBTC product into an ETF.

This switch to ETF resulted in assets in the Piton Intermediate Fixed Income ETF almost doubling to $62 million, with all of the new inflow coming in a single day shortly after the symbol change to BTC.

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Author: AnTy

SEC Postpones Decision on VanEck Bitcoin ETF to June 17

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delayed its decision on the VanEck Bitcoin ETF until June.

On March 1, 2021, Cboe BZX Exchange filed with the SEC to list and trade shares of the VanEck Bitcoin Trust. The SEC typically takes 45 days, or a longer period of 90 days, from the date an application is filed to render a decision whether it should be approved or disapproved.

Per standard, the 45-day window for the application ends on May 3, but the SEC is extending the deadline. The official notice reads,

“The Commission finds that it is appropriate to designate a longer period within which to take action on the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider the proposed rule change and the comments received.”

As such, June 17 is designated as the date by which the Commission shall either approve or disapprove, but of course, even then, they can defer the decision, which is to be seen.

As we reported, the new SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, who has taught about crypto and blockchain at MIT, was confirmed less than a fortnight ago.

In the past, SEC disapproved every single Bitcoin ETF application on the grounds of extreme price volatility, manipulation, and fraud in the crypto market.

Meanwhile, several Bitcoin ETFs have been approved this year in other countries. Canada has even moved past Bitcoin and already has four Ether ETFs trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Purpose Bitcoin ETF, the most popular in North America so far, has amassed almost 18,685 BTC.

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Author: AnTy

German Central Bank Official: CBDC Proposal is More ‘Political Strategy’ than Technical Decision

A popular figure in the German central bank has said the decision to launch a digital Euro is more politically motivated than the technical value proposition. Burkhard Balz was speaking at the Europe-Asia conference where he made the remarks. These sentiments coincide with a spike in CBDC interest, especially in Europe, where the ECB has zeroed in on the possibility of a digital Euro in recent months.

According to Balz, this move would be more politically motivated, given the fiat domination dynamics when it comes to reserve currencies. He went on to suggest a more detailed assessment based on this opinion,

“Introducing CBDC is a political decision rather than a technical decision. Therefore, a comprehensive conceptual analysis and assessment of CBDC relative to alternative options is necessary – especially in terms of the fulfillment of our mandate, but also regarding its impact on society as a whole.”

Nonetheless, he also highlighted the need to move swiftly, given the current progress to maintain Euro confidence if a virtual monetary policy shift is inevitable. Balz believed that a collaborative international approach would yield better results in developing seamless ecosystems to support global payment networks’ growth.

As for the risks associated, Balz mentioned that a CBDC could set precedence for ‘digital bank runs’ in a situation where these digital assets are held as a store of value instead of being used for payments. On the issue of stablecoins, he was adamant that they should be issued with the blessings of monetary bodies and regulatory authorities,

“I believe that it is in the interest of the global central bank community that new payment arrangements, like stable coins, with potentially global reach, should only be offered if appropriately regulated and supervised.”

With such ongoing discussions, it might not take long before a particular jurisdiction officially launches its own CBDC. Currently, China’s digital yuan is the most progressive in the pilot phase for a couple of months. Other Asian giants like Japan and South Korea are planning to follow suit with their pilot CBDCs scheduled for next year. Europe has also filed for a digital Euro trademark as discussions hit upon its viability.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Iranian Govt Approves Industrial Crypto Mining by Power Plants in the Country

The government of Iran has approved a decision that would allow industrial-scale powerplants in the country to operate bitcoin miners in their plant, given they don’t use subsidized fuel. The announcement was made on July 27th in the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), a local publication.

Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, Deputy Managing Director of Iran’s Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Management Company, Tavanir. Mashhadi commented on the government’s decision to approve crypto mining, that now they are focusing on making sure that these industrial-scale businesses do not exploit the subsidized electricity meant for farmers and underprivileged. He said:

“Now we’re in a situation where the supply of electricity is of great importance to the public. We will not allow anyone to misuse tariffs provided for the agricultural and industrial sectors to produce Bitcoin while it’s worth more than $9,000.”

The Iranian government had approved crypto mining back in July 2019 and issued 1,000 operating licenses. Since then, fourteen recipients of the permit have requested 300 MW electricity energy, which is equal to the consumption of three provinces in the country.

Now that the government has also approved mining for power plants, it would be imperative to ensure a balance between the amount of energy being consumed for mining and the standard requirements of the public.

The tariffs offered by the Iranian government on electricity for mining cryptocurrency depend on several factors, like the cost of oil, the abundance of energy, and many more similar elements.

Iran Turns to Crypto Amid Troubled Times

Iran has been facing a mounting financial crisis, which has been only aggravated by several trade sanctions imposed by the US. The value of the national fiat has also fallen significantly since 2011, which has forced the government to look for an alternative.

Given Iran offers one of the cheapest electricity, bitcoin and crypto mining always seemed a profitable industry that can be nurtured. The government’s recent decision to allow power plants to operate bitcoin miners appears to be a step in the right direction.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Congress Introduces Blockchain Amendments On The National Defense Authorization Act

The U.S military could soon be using blockchain technology after a unanimous decision by the House of Representatives to amend the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendments were introduced to the House by Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09), including two blockchain adoption policies, a 3% increase in pay, fights against racism and prejudice, and protections for sexual assault victims.

The NDAA budgets and sets policies in funds across the Department of Defense for the upcoming fiscal year.

The key Blockchain Amendments

Two key blockchain amendments were presented to the House by Soto. The first amendments call for a revision of the report on the potential use of distributed ledger technologies (DLT’s) to enhance their defense properties.

If passed, this new law will see the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering provide reports summarizing key findings and research activities of adversarial countries in the blockchain space.

The research team will further give recommendations and analyze the benefits of setting up a hub or center of excellence to research more on distributed DLTs in enhancing defense.

The second amendment is a direct call-to-action of adding DLTs to in the “emerging technologies” bracket. This gives the Defense Department a clear view that these new technologies and will be included in future assessments of what tools will ensure the U.S maintains its “technological edge.”

Read more: U.S. Department of Defense is looking to use blockchain tech for cybersecurity purposes

The latest amendments come as global superpowers, Russia and China, extend their efforts in blockchain development and creating their own central bank digital currency.

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Author: Lujan Odera

R&B Artist Akon to Launch The Akoin Utility Token on Stellar’s Blockchain

Famous artists and platinum-selling records Akon has a made the decision to build Akoin, his own cryptocurrency, on the Stellar blockchain.

The president and co-founder of Akoin said Stellar was chosen for having similar values with him and the artist, explaining on February 28 that:

“Akoin selected Stellar’s distributed, hybrid blockchain due to a shared vision for creating global financial inclusion, particularly in areas such as Africa.”

Stellar is on a mission to help banking the unbanked, and a spokesperson for Akoin wanted to mention its involvement with African businesses and the micro-loans and Dapp project.

Swapping Currencies Will Be Possible

Stellar wallets-compatible and interoperable with all Stellar-supported fiat currencies and digital assets, Akoins will be available for swapping currencies in order to ensure an “efficient cross-asset transfers of value”, which means the value of prepaid minutes will be realized.

As a result of banking problems and inflation, Nigeria and other African countries use phone minutes just like digital currencies, so Akoin will swap minutes for crypto and fiat currencies. It has been mentioned the token’s price is going to be fluctuating.

The Unbanked Will Be the Main Focus

Akoin’s aim is to provide the unbanked financial services not only in 54 African countries, but also in other developing nations from all over the world. Its total supply will be 400 million. Supposed to launch in 2018, the project is almost sure to be revealed very soon. Here’s what Akon had to say about it:

“It’s a global platform that we’re building and Africa is our target market because as we see it now, Africa has the most challenges.”

Akon, Incredibly Popular in Africa

Akon enjoys immense popularity in Africa, where he intends to create the $2 billion-worth Akon Crypto City. In the next 10 years, this futuristic and sustainable community will be built on a 2,000 acres surface close to Senegal’s capital, Dakar. The land was given as a gift to Akon from the President of Senegal. The artist’s charitable projects include the Akon Lighting Africa and some others, but Akoin will be a profitable endeavor for him.

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Author: Oana Ularu

SEC Reschedules Approval Decision on Wilshire Phoenix’s Bitcoin ETF Proposal to February

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has yet again delayed their decision on whether to approve Wilshire Phoenix’s proposal for Bitcoin as well as US Treasury bond exchange-traded funds (ETF). According to the watchdog agency, a comprehensive decision will be communicated in Feb.. 26, 2020, CoinDesk reports.

In a press statement issued on Friday, the regulator stated that they are still assessing the proposal submitted earlier this summer and have committed themselves to making a conclusive decision on whether to approve or dismiss the Wilshire Phoenix’s ETF proposal on Feb. 26, 2020.

For two years now, the commission has rejected over 12 Bitcoin ETF applications pointing out the issues like market manipulation as well as surveillance sharing as the main aspects that should be addressed before an ETF application can be approved.

According to Wilshire Phoenix founder and head William Herrman, his firm is confident that it has addressed these aspects fully. Herrman says that his firm’s proposal which has been filed with NYSE can be described as a multi-asset trust that will safeguard it from Bitcoin’s price fluctuations.

Whenever volatility enhances, the trust will instantly rebalance itself and lessen its exposure to Bitcoin while enhancing Treasury bills exposure. Similarly, when volatility is low, exposure to Bitcoin will increase while reducing that of Treasury bills.

Herrman explains that on Dec 18, his firm also submitted a comment letter to explain the concerns raised by the SEC. The founder says that the comment letter expounded how Wilshire Phoenix’s ETF will be different from a Bitcoin-based ETP application.

Given the uncertainty, it is still unclear if the SEC will approve a Bitcoin ETF any time soon. The regulator recently rejected a Bitcoin ETF application by Bitwise Asset Management raising the same concerns. However, the regulator is reviewing that rejection but it is still unclear when a decision will be reached and communicated.

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Author: Joseph Kibe