Ireland Adopts AMLD5; Virtual Asset Service Providers Given Three Months to Register

Ireland Adopts AMLD5; Virtual Asset Service Providers Given Three Months to Register

  • Ireland is the latest European state to introduce the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5).
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges are required to register with the central bank within 90 days.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the AMLD5 from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has been transposed into Irish law on Friday, April 23, 2021. The directive, now Irish law, forces virtual asset service providers (VASPs) to register with the Central bank of Ireland within the next three months and comply with all Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws.

The directive becomes part of financial laws in Ireland via the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Amendment Act 2021.

The report describes VASPs as firms that facilitate the exchange between virtual assets and fiat currencies, an exchange between one or more forms of virtual assets, custodian wallet provider, transfer of virtual assets between digital addresses, and any other activities involving transacting virtual assets.

This starts a new regime in Ireland whereby crypto exchanges must record and keep their users’ KYC/AML information– effectively killing anonymous crypto transactions. As per the guidelines, VASPs operating in the country must comply with these laws or “it will be a criminal offense,” which could result in a fine, imprisonment, or both.

Additionally, VASPs are required to perform due diligence on their clients to find the origin of their funds, destination of transactions and report any suspicious activities to authorities.

As reported last May, the Irish cryptocurrency service providers found it difficult to conduct their business as local banks locked them out as the government delayed implementing the AMLD5. With the new laws, a few crypto companies are looking to restore their partnerships with local banks.

Netherlands became the first European country to charter a cryptocurrency exchange under the new AMLD5 laws in late October 2020. Nederlandsche Bank NV (DNB), the Netherlands’ central bank, approved AMDAX BV as the first digital asset firm to operate under its jurisdiction allowing users to buy and sell crypto through the exchange.

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Author: Lujan Odera

CBOE Now Wants Back In, CEO says ‘Haven’t Given Up’ on Bitcoin Futures & We ‘Need’ to be Here

CBOE Now Wants Back In, CEO says ‘Haven’t Given Up’ on Bitcoin Futures & We ‘Need’ to be Here

There has been a “lot of demand from retail and institutions” that the crypto space has been seeing lately

CBOE Global Markets is now looking to get back into the crypto space.

Back in March of 2019, the Chicago-based exchange holding company delisted Bitcoin futures when the price of BTC was about $4,000. It was the first US exchange to list Bitcoin futures in late 2017 and was followed closely by CME Group, which gained wider acceptance.

Now that Bitcoin has risen to a new all-time high of $62k, Chief Executive Officer Ed Tilly says, “We’re still interested in the space, we haven’t given up on” bitcoin futures, reported Bloomberg.

“We’re keen on building out the entire platform. There’s a lot of demand from retail and institutions, and we need to be there,” he added.

In December 2020, CBOE partnered with CoinRoutes to launch a suite of tools, including crypto indexes, real-time ticks, and historical data. At the time, it was said to be launched by the end of the first quarter of this year.

They are now eyeing new efforts as the demand for the product increases and the market matures.

Earlier this month, as we reported, CBOE also filed with the SEC to list and trade shares of the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust.

“We’re very keen to move along approval for the VanEck ETF,” said Tilly.

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Author: AnTy

DeFi Trading Startup, Dharma, Adds Ability to Buy Tokens Directly from Bank on UniSwap

Dharma, a DeFi-focused startup, has been given the green light to enable Automated Clearing House (ACH) trading for DeFi tokens within 13 states in the U.S. The startup, backed by Coinbase, has been making major strides in the burgeoning DeFi space, with the latest integration of the Uniswap DEX a few months back. The startup is optimistic about becoming the ‘Robinhood’ of crypto as per earlier comments from its CEO, Nadav Hollander.

“Our goal in building ‘the Robinhood of crypto’ is to bridge the final gap between these blossoming markets and the millions of individuals who will want to tap into them as they gain popularity and mindshare.”

The ACH service by Dharma will enable its U.S clients to make direct DeFi token purchases from their bank accounts. According to the milestone update, users will incur a 1.5% fee while the weekly purchase limits have been capped at $25,000. U.S states where this service is available to include Wyoming, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Washington, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Montana, Michigan, Massachusetts, Georgia, California, and Arizona.

With the ACH service in place, Dharma’s prospects of pivoting as the ‘Robinhood’ of crypto have increased; Nadav noted that DeFi trading with their application would undoubtedly make the participation process simpler,

“Investing DeFi has, up until now, been a bifurcated and highly technical process. Now, it’s as easy as downloading an app and connecting your bank account.”

Notably, Dharma had earlier incentivized user participation by offering to cover the gas fees coupled with a no-fee, no-gas promotion in August. Its newly integrated ACH services are being supported by APIs from a Fintech giant dubbed ‘Plaid.’ Nadav told CoinDesk in an email that they are leveraging services from an active crypto-focused bank. However, he did not disclose the name.

“We are processing ACH transfers through a direct partnership with a well-known bank active in the crypto space.”

Dharma’s journey in the DeFi space has evolved quite fast; the startup secured $7 million in a funding round back in February 2019. At the time, Dharma’s focus was an Ethereum based lending service; it later moved to stablecoin-oriented savings and finally the Uniswap integration.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

The Fed Fires Shots At Libra: FedNow Will Provide Instant Payments Without Bypassing Regulations

In a speech given on Thursday, Lael Brainard, the Federal Reserve governor canvassed on various financial issues in the United States and the world and the issue of stablecoin like Libra was raised.

The Facebook led project that was launched last year with lots of publicity, has been said to fuel the clamor by central banks in the world to develop their own digital currencies. Libra has also elicited criticism across the world with some financial regulators vowing to never allow the stablecoin to operate within their borders.

Jerome Powell,the Fed’s chair, explained to Congress that Libra ‘really lit a fire’ in regards to the works of the US central bank.

On her part, the Fed governor has previously stated that they are working with several central banks across the globe to come up with a way of introducing central banks issued digital currencies (CBDC).

Brainard’s speech majorly talked on FedNow which is a platform that is being created by the Fed which will allow financial institutions in the country to make instant payments. Brainard stated that most of the core aspects of the platform have been approved by the Federal Reserve Board.

Brainard’s speech also touched on the future of payment systems in the wake of advanced technology. She stated that stablecoin network projects such as Libra have raised fundamental issues on regulatory standards, financial stability as well as the aim of private money in the world. She stated:

“Efforts by global stablecoin networks such as Facebook’s Libra project to drive the next stage of payment innovation have raised other fundamental questions about legal and regulatory safeguards, financial stability, and the appropriate role of private money.”

The speech seems to explain some of the key projects being undertaken by the Federal Reserve when it comes to payments. Brainard stated that the Fed remains optimistic that technology as well as innovation will be used to deliver payments instantly, safely as well as efficiently. She however cautioned that the right safeguards must be developed for the technology to work swiftly.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Several Catalysts Will Drive the Demand for the Scarce Digital Asset, Bitcoin: Fidelity

Bitcoin’s inherent properties have given rise to the perspective that the digital asset could be a store of value, states Fidelity in its latest report on Bitcoin Investment Thesis. It is actually an “aspirational” SoV, creating value as it matures into a store of value.

Fidelity likened investing in bitcoin today to investing in Facebook when it had 50 million users with the potential to grow to the more than 2 billion users it has today.

One of the key arguments against bitcoin being an SoV today is its volatility, but even upward volatility attracts investment, development, and innovation.

But there is no long-term value to store it if there is no sustained demand for the digitally scarce asset and a decentralized settlement network. According to the report, the demand for the digital asset would grow incrementally.

The Catalysts

External forces that are accelerating interest and investment in bitcoin include unprecedented levels and exotic forms of monetary and fiscal stimulus globally, which is exacerbating the concerns that Bitcoin was designed to address as such leading more users towards bitcoin as an “insurance policy.”

This is a near-to medium-term catalyst where as many as 285 stimulus measures have been announced in just eight months, including virtually zero interest rates, increasing money supply via QE, and a range of lending facilities.

These measures were taken by central banks and governments to counteract the deflationary pressures created by global lockdowns to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. These restrictions and lockdowns have also propelled deglobalization, yet another catalyst for bitcoin.

“The increase in money supply may translate to an increase in the price of risky or scarce assets,” it reads. In case the combination of policy leads to inflation or if it stays suppressed, but nominal leads stay low or go lower, investors may turn to an asset that maintains its real value and cannot be printed.

Traditionally, investors turn to fixed supply assets like real estate, dividend-yielding stocks, and precious metals. Still, this time they have a new type of fixed supply asset available that has “significant growth potential.”

Simultaneously, the massive transfer of wealth from the older generation to a younger one is a gradual process but an important long-term tailwind, as younger people view bitcoin more favorably. Long-term wealth preservation is yet another factor to drive this demand.

According to WEF’s 2017 Global Shapers Survey, 45% of the 30,000 millennials surveyed said they don’t trust banks to be fair and honest. Edelman’s October 2018 survey of affluent millennials, those aged 24-38 with $50K in investable assets, found 77% of them believe “the whole financial system is designed to favor the rich and powerful.”

There has also been an affinity in millennials towards bitcoin relative to traditional stores of values like gold. About 90% of ETF Store’s millennial clients prefer bitcoin to gold, which they say is “landslide.”

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Author: AnTy

This Stock Puts Crypto Pump to Shame; From All-Time Low to All-Time High

Crypto pumps have nothing on this stock, which makes sense, given that President Donald Trump himself is the one behind the pump.

This stock is none other than Kodak; that’s right; the same company that once jumped the blockchain train has now found another driver to pump its shares.

KODK shares are witnessing an enormous rally that seems to have no end in sight. Its shares started rising after the Trump administration announced the company would be transformed into a pharmaceutical producer under the Defense Production Act.

Trump announced on Tuesday that the company would receive a $765 million loan to launch Kodak Pharmaceuticals, which will generate key generic medicines to fight the coronavirus and reduce America’s dependence on foreign drug makers.

In response, the company’s share skyrocketed, up more than 2,440% this week, that sent its market valuation to nearly $2 billion. During this uptrend, it triggered at least six halts for volatility.

Once a giant producer of film and cameras, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012 only to emerge as a restructured business the very next year and has now pivoted itself to a materials and chemicals company.

Kodak CEO Jim Continenza said they already manufacture key materials for some pharmaceuticals and would take three to three and a half years to build out the new production capacity. For this, the company would hire 359 workers, most in New York state, and create about 1,200 indirect jobs.

“KODAK just went from All-time Lows to All-time Highs in just a few days,” said trader Mr. Anderson, adding, the chart of KODAK shares is of the kind that “every RIPPLE fanboy will pin their hopes and dreams on.”

Crypto market has been enjoying a rally for months now. However, this altcoin season has slowed down since Bitcoin hit the psychological importance level of $10,000.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Community Sentiment Still Bullish Despite BTC Trading 40% Lower Than Yearly High

Bitcoin proponents had a lot of expectations from 2020, given the impending Block Reward Halving and the expected bull run. The year started as per expectations as Bitcoin crossed the $10K mark in the first month itself. The traditional markets were falling but Bitcoin showed resistance, however, the outbreak of coronavirus led to chaos not just in the traditional market, but it also impacted Bitcoin’s price in the second week of March.

Bitcoin fell by almost 50% in one day, registering one of the biggest drops since its inception. Many believed that the drop was caused by panic selling while few others believe institutional investors liquidated their hedge in crypto to provide support in the traditional market. Whatever may be the reason, it seems the Bitcoin community is not fazed by the recent drop and is highly bullish on Bitcoin seeing another bull run and achieve its all-time high price.

Santiment, a behavior analytical platform looked into hundreds of social media posts related to cryptocurrencies to analyze the overall sentiment of the market. Santiment’s analysis suggests that on the day of the drop i.e 12th March the sentiment in the market was quite “volatile” too. Some of the investors shrugged off the drop and believed it served as a perfect opportunity for new entrants in the market who have been complaining about the price. While a few others called it Bitcoin’s doom where a few went on to predict a total collapse of the digital asset in the coming days.

Bitcoin made headlines outside the crypto-verse as well

While crypto Twitter is known for voicing opinions strongly, the price drop on March 12 seemed to have garnered attention even outside the crypto verse. Santiment analysis suggested that negative sentiment prevailed on different social medias like Reddit, most of whom have been naysayers predicting Bitcoin’s doom.

While the COVID-19 pandemic surely had its share of impact on Bitcoin right before the halving, it seems Bitcoin proponents are aware of the volatility. The analysis is evident that despite the massive drop Bitcoin community is still behind cheering on for it to succeed.

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Author: James W

European Commission to Offer Grants for Creating Digital Twins Using Blockchain for Defense

Blockchain developers and specialists are being given grants by the European Commission (EC) so that they adapt civil tech to defense applications.

The European Defense Industrial Development was published by the EC on March 24. It calls on small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to come with solutions in the defense sector using new technologies that are quick to deploy and are cost-effective.

How To Be Considered For The Blockchain Grants?

The EC has provided an outline that offers guidance for the program, which may benefit from the 254 million Euros budgeted in 2019-2020 that were designated for grants to successful projects. The proposals should fall within these guidelines:

“Based on real-time cloud and on-premise digital twin benefiting from blockchain technologies’ robustness, able to channel all currently optimized logistics needs, such as chain of spare parts, maintenance, energy consumables.”

What Is a Digital Twin?

Digital twins are virtual representations or mirrors of physical entities, assets, and processes such as human beings, pieces of infrastructure, machines or objects. The blockchain is capable of strengthening the digital twins’ integrity because it allows tamper-proof cryptographic tags for validating provenance, ownership, and states of either objects or products, to be used.

What Can a Blockchain – Digital Twins Combination Offer?

The 2018 Deloitte report says the combination between blockchain and digital twins can bring benefits for the internet of things (IoT) sector and other applications that are very useful for production environments’ predictive maintenance.

According to Deloitte, blockchain is efficient at offering secure identity management and transparency in data analytics and ownership models. The EC admits that combining blockchain and digital twins is efficient in the energy, supply chains, and equipment maintenance sectors for defense. The submissions for the program will take place between April 15 and December 1, 2020, according to how the COVID-10 pandemic dictates.

Blockchain and Defense

As it has been reported of late, BAE Systems, the US-based contractor providing defense service solutions and support together with civilian systems and intelligence, has a cryptocurrency exploiter open position for supporting operations. Back in July last year, the US Department of Defense also released its blockchain technology plan for digital modernization.

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Author: Oana Ularu

NYFDS Gives Crypto Firms 30 Days to Submit A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Contingency Plan

New York’s Financial regulator, NYFDS, has given crypto firms registered within this state one month to have submitted a preparedness plan for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The watchdog sent out letters to crypto entities it regulates which was followed by a state of emergency declaration by New York’s Mayor, Bill De Blasio.

These firms are required to outline how they plan to tackle short term and long-term operational risks amongst others as the world’s economy dips due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The letter sent out to over 15 firms regulated by the NYFDS partly reads;

“COVID-19 has already had adverse economic effects domestically and globally. It is critical that each regulated entity establish plans to address how it will manage the effects of the outbreak and assess disruptions and other risks to its services and operations.”

Markets across the world have been red with crypto also falling victim. These highly volatile assets lost over 30% this week despite stakeholders having faith that they would be a great alternative for value realization during black swan events. The NYFDS concern with players in this field is, therefore, no surprise given the industry’s brief history.

The NYFDS Risk Mitigation Proposal Outline

Crypto firms targeted by the NYFDS are required to highlight a minimum of 9 areas that pose an operational risk to their businesses. In addition, they should have 3 separate plans to tackle the identified shortcomings.

Basically, the operational outlook will cover company specifics that are exposed including probable solutions that can be implemented in a scalable manner. The NYDFS took this approach as it yet to quantify how much financial damage Coronavirus (COVID-19) has done and will do in the coming days.

This development means the likes of Ripple, BitPay and Coinbase will have to analyze the options of working remotely. Furthermore, the regulator requires them to update health protection tactics to prevent their employees from COVID-19 exposure.

Apart from coming up with a contingency plan, crypto firms operating in New York have to regularly check whether their suggested strategy is effective. As of reporting date, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in New York is below 100 but the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, might spike to 1000 hence the state of emergency.

Coinbase Ahead in COVID-19 Prevention

This San Fransisco based crypto exchange appears to have already taken initiatives to prevent more risks than the markets are already experiencing. Coinbase rolled out its contingency plan last month and it comprises four tiers; 0-3. At the moment, only Japan is at tier 1 with all the other subsidiaries still at 0. Ideally, all employees will work remotely in case it reaches a point where all outlet locations are placed in tier 3; this will probably be at the extremes of COVID-19.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

IBM Wins ‘Self-Aware’ Token Patent, It Can Record Offline Transaction Data To Upload Later

IBM was given a US patent for a “self-aware” token that’s capable of recording its own data for transactions.

The patent was awarded on January 7. It presents a ledger-based system for payments, a system that makes tracking and tracing crypto transactions easier for governments, businesses and individuals too. It’s designed to record the transactions even when not being used on the payments platform patented by IBM back in 2012. As soon as the token gets back to this platform’s ecosystem later, the data of offline transactions is immediately uploaded.

Payment Location and the Transacted Amounts Revealed

With the patent, tokens make a complete cycle and reveal all the data about the amounts that have been transacted, the payment location and some information on the token holders. However, the data is not stored in the token itself, but on other devices like phones, laptops and so on.

IBM says that knowing where the tokens come from is very helpful as far as bolstering “trust and viability” in the newly formed community that uses tokens goes, seeing businesses will be able to prove they haven’t been conducting illegal activities, individuals can make sure they haven’t been scammed, whereas regulators can enforce their laws more effectively.

Exchanges Between Different Asset Classes Facilitated

IBM claims that with the new patent, the exchanges between asset classes that are of various forms get to be facilitated. The more cryptocurrencies seem to be developed, the more payments between different asset classes are difficult to enable. This is what the company said about how important it is to record transaction data:

“e-Currencies [could] operate across disparate economic systems, fostering easier participating alongside sovereign currencies and other non-standard currencies.”

IBM’s Patent for a Blockchain-Based Web Browser that Protects Privacy

In August 2019, IBM also received a patent for a privacy protection blockchain-based web browser. It can be said the company had a certain contribution to the crypto space, seeing it launched the IBM Blockchain Platform back in 2017 and has contributed to the Hyperledger project.

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Author: Oana Ularu