Top 20 Global Investment Firm Franklin Templeton & VC Illuminate Finance Invest in Curv Series A

The global investment firm Franklin Templeton and Illuminate Financial, a Fintech venture capital firm, join Curv, an institutional cryptocurrency wallet solution, as investors – joining Curv’s July 2020 Series A funding. The move sees the former two firms join the $23 million funding round, including several top investors, including Digital Currency Group (DCG), Coinbase Ventures, CommerzVentures, Google’s Digital Garage, and Team 8.

According to an email sent to the BEG news desk, Franklin Templeton will switch from a customer of Curv to an investor. This follows the successful completion of a proof of concept built by BNP Paribas that allows Curv to transfer digital assets across blockchains securely.

This partnership will see the two traditional finance heavyweights join the digital and crypto world through Curv. The institutional wallet firm aims to drive traditional finance corporations to own and hold digital assets through its Multi-party Computation (MPC) technology. MPC allows a secure transfer, storage, and management of digital assets on distributed ledgers.

Franklin Templeton aims to leverage Curv’s MPC technology to expand into the growing crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) market on a secure platform. Curv’s MPC technology introduces a keyless approach removing all single points of failures to help institutions securely move assets and deliver them instantaneously on a blockchain.

Joe Boerio, EVP, Chief Risk & Transformation Officer at Franklin Templeton, believes joining Curv as an investor will improve security when transferring assets across blockchains with the MPC technology – protecting the system “against cyber breaches and insider collusion.” He said,

“We are excited to participate in Curv’s journey as it sets a new standard for digital asset security and scales its business across major financial institutions across the globe.”

Over the past few months, governments worldwide have taken a front foot in regulating the virtual currency industry to curb illicit activities. Due to this, first-time institutions entering the field are leaning towards licensed institutional wallets to store their digital assets. Curv, in particular, has witnessed a growth in its client base, offering an enterprise-grade infrastructure for these institutions ensuring they securely deploy these solutions. Itay Malinger, Curv CEO and Co-founder said,

“The addition of Franklin Templeton is a barometer of the traditional industry’s shift into digital assets, and a broader desire to bring public blockchain-based offerings to market.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

FSB Publishes 10 High-Level Recommendations to Regulate ‘Global Stablecoins’

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has released 10 high-level recommendations for regulation, supervision, and oversight of “global stablecoin” in its latest report on Tuesday.

The international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system says global stablecoins must adhere to all applicable regulatory standards before commencing operation.

While these so-called fiat-backed stablecoins have the potential to “bring efficiencies to payments and to promote financial inclusion,” they may also challenge the existing regulatory oversight and generate risks to financial stability, says the report.

As such, the 10 high-level recommendations have been made that follow the “same business, same risk, same rules” principle.

To enhance the cross-border payments commissioned by the G20, the FSB has agreed to complete the international standard-setting by December 2021. Necessary adjustments must be made by that time, too, and a framework consistent with the FSB recommendations must be enabled at the national level by July 2022.

The report came the same day the financial officials of the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Britain said digital payments should be “appropriately supervised and regulated.”

Until adequate regulatory, legal, and oversight standards are set, no global stablecoin project should begin operation, said the G7, without explicitly mentioning Facebook’s Libra, which has been the one that pushed them into action.

The officials also called on all countries to implement FATF standards to reduce the exploitation of criminals’ financial services. The emphasis was put on coordinated response through information sharing and economic measures.

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Author: AnTy

Former Employees Call Justin Sun A “Clout-Chasing, Evil Genius,” He Says ‘The Best is Yet to Come’

“I have devoted myself to being a responsible, global citizen throughout my entire life, spending significant portions of my personal and professional life to activities promoting universal values of respect, liberty & equality,” tweeted Tron founder Justin Sun in his response to an article on The Verge that paints him in a really bad light.

The publication interviewed several former and current employees of Tron, one of whom called him “an evil genius.”

Covering Tron, whose whitepaper was “cribbed off” of Ethereum’s and follows the business strategy of “get the pump on the coin,” the article lays down how the free Tron Network’s most successful part is gambling apps in which people lost their “life savings.”

In response, Tron’s San Francisco office also received letters from the Better Business Bureau in “piles.”

And as we all know it, it’s not the technology that’s the cornerstone of Sun’s business but marketing.

“He thrived on just doing anything for attention and clout,” said a former employee about Sun bidding for Warren Buffett’s lunch that he won for $4.57 million. “Clout-chasing, as the kids call it.”

Sun’s first success was an app called Peiwo, which bordered on ‘aural pornography’ and got booted from the Apple and Android app stores and shut down by the Chinese authorities for content that “disrupts socialist values.”

Sun reportedly hit his employees too. The violence led Lucasz Juraszek, a software engineer, to file an IC3 complaint with the cybercrime division at the FBI, for which he never received a response.

“There is no merit to the false claims,” said Sun in his tweet today, adding, “the dispute is currently pending in arbitration. We believe the decision will speak for itself.”

“I take great pride in working with its global team of talented contributors and developers to build one of the greatest decentralized blockchain protocols,” said Sun.

His other product BT Live had been reportedly looking to be “a porn app so it can get around the Chinese censorship laws and Great Firewall.” And for that, Sun wanted to exploit the BitTorrent protocol, which he acquired last year because the peer-to-peer sharing platform is hard to track down and shut down.

“There’s no bottom to how low he’s willing to go to achieve his goals,” a former employee said. “He doesn’t care about anybody. He doesn’t care about anything.”

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Author: AnTy

Over 100M Unique Users in the Crypto Ecosystem; University of Cambridge Digital Asset Study

The 3rd Global CryptoAsset Benchmarking Study, an initiative by Cambridge researchers to analyze the developing growth of the industry, has estimated that over 100 million people in the world currently hold BTC or alternative crypto assets. According to this publication, the number of new digital wallets increased significantly, with around 191 million accounts opened in Q3, 2020 alone.

Going by these stats, the number of new people who own crypto assets has skyrocketed compared to the 2018 estimates, which barely hit 36 million. The research attributes this growth to an increase in activity and awareness within the main functions of the crypto ecosystem. Other metrics highlighted include mining, off-chain service provision, regulatory compliance, and improvement in IT infrastructure.

A Vibrant Outlook

Despite taking a hit after the 2017 ICO boom, crypto onboarding has been at its highest post the bubble. More off-chain service providers have launched to on-ramp newbies through fiat-crypto ecosystems and vice versa. Notably, the usage demographics were found to vary between different regions greatly; for instance, crypto exchanges domiciled out of APAC emerged as more crypto-focused trading platforms. Reads the report:

“While North American and European firms primarily serve crypto asset hedge funds and traditional institutional investors …

a notable share of APAC service providers deals with miners (41%), in part explained by the high level of mining activities in the region, especially in China.”

Regulatory and Compliance

As for the regulatory scope, much still has to be done according to figures revealed by the research. Over 2 out of 5 firms surveyed have obtained a license or are in the process of doing so. This is despite the FATF Travel Rule coming in place last year, requiring all Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) to comply with new KYC/AML standards.

However, the research also argues that general compliance has increased, and some of those who are not licensed are because their activities do not fall within current regulatory frameworks or established guidelines.

“However, the remaining 58% should not be perceived as the share of entities conducting unregulated activities or evading regulations: some surveyed service providers are engaged in activities that do not yet warrant any authorization process.”

IT Security

With scamming being prevalent in the crypto ecosystem, the research notes that at least 90% of the VASPs keep the entrusted assets in cold storage. Nonetheless, there’s always a downside risk attributed to insurance since this line of service is yet to make in-roads into the crypto market. Had it not been the case, ‘Those who do have insurance plans are primarily insured against cybercrimes, professional errors, hazards, and loss or theft of private keys.’

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Kenya Leads Crypto Adoption In P2P Exchange Volumes; Ukraine Tops Global Index: Chainalysis

Chainalysis, a cryptocurrency, and blockchain analysis firm, released it’s latest Global Crypto Adoption Index 2020, showing developing countries are witnessing greater adoption for crypto – Ukraine, Venezuela, and Kenya featured in the top five countries with Russia and China completing the list.

The interim report from Chainalysis focuses on four significant parameters to rank the 154 countries that took part in the survey. The metrics to measure crypto adoption include on-chain cryptocurrency received weighted against the purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita, on-chain crypto sent out (transferred) weighted against the PPP per capita, and several on-chain deposits weighted by the number of internet users.

Finally, the overall p2p exchange activity weighted by both the number of users and PPP per capita. The index ranks the countries using all the metrics with those closest to one with the most incredible crypto adoption.

Ukraine and Russia top crypto adoption rankings

A glance at the top 10 ranked countries shows a disparate difference in the levels of development across all countries except for Russia, which ranked highly in all four sectors. Ukraine, Russia, and Venezuela grab podium positions according to the Global Crypto Adoption Index by Chainalysis.

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Despite the three not leading in any of the factors mentioned above, the total index score favors the countries. Ukraine ranked fourth in both the on-chain crypto value received and retail value transfers, while China dominated the two factors. Vietnam (ranking tenth) also ranked highly on these metrics.

Kim Grauer, head of research at Chainalysis, Ukraine, and Russia, top the charts due to their underlying innovativeness and tech native population. The latter country also has a vast network of digital payments and e-payments already, which makes the transition to crypto a bit more seamless, she said.

Notwithstanding, the adoption growth in Ukraine and Russia can both be attributed to the current COVID-19 global pandemic that has shrunk both economies. In a bid to make additional sources of income, citizens in the country are turning to crypto for a solution.

Retail investors are pulling their weight in crypto

According to Michael Chobanyan, founder of Ukraine’s first crypto exchange, Kuna, retail investors (less than $10,000) are pushing the adoption rates in Ukraine in search of better investment tools. A lack of a stable stock market exchange, financial systems failure, and an expensive real estate investment – all collude in growing the retail crypto space, he said.

In a differing tone, Grauer said Venezuela adopted cryptocurrency as a need rather than it being a “cool technology.” The hyperinflation in the country is causing plenty of citizens from South American to turn to Bitcoin (BTC) as “a stable store of value.”

The three states, alongside Kenya, showed strong growth in retail crypto adoption while in China (in fourth) and the U.S. (in sixth), crypto adoption is led by big money players and institutions.

“Looking at the share of the transfers greater than $100,000, we noticed that over the past year, the share of the overall activity in North America that is professional has been growing.”

Kenya leads the P2P volumes metric

Another surprise on the list is East African powerhouse, Kenya, which emerged fifth on the Global Crypto Adoption Index ahead of heavyweight economies such as the U.S., Nigeria, and all of Western Europe. Despite performing poorly in three of the four categories, Kenya leads the world in peer-to-peer crypto exchanges trade volume weighted by its number of internet users and PPP per capita.

The East African state has seen rapid growth in P2P exchanges growth volume in 2020 as Paxful and LocalBitcoins pushed for Bitcoin adoption. P2P exchange volume ranking, however, overlooks the prevalence of regulated, centralized exchanges across other states, unfairly pacing more weight to developing countries. Kenya and Venezuela top the P2P rankings but did not manage to make the top ten on any other ranking metric.

Explaining the rankings, Grauer stated no one ranking metric catapulted any country to the top. The report concludes that cryptocurrency adoption is happening globally – only 12 of the 154 countries scored zero on the index. Additionally, developing countries have high numbers of retail investors as P2P exchanges play a crucial role in enhancing crypto adoption in these countries.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Mastercard Launches a Virtual Testing Platform for CBDCs

  • Global payments company Mastercard launched a virtual testing platform for central banks to test out their CBDCs.
  • The technology company invited central banks, commercial banks, techs, and advisory firms to evaluate the suitability of CDBDs through its custom testing platform.

As the Bank for International Settlements survey revealed, a whopping 80% of central banks are engaged in some form of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). In the race to embrace digital payments, central banks clearly don’t want to lose its control of the monetary policy in issuing and distributing currency while supporting innovation.

Supporting central banks modernizing payments, Mastercard announced this “proprietary virtual testing environment” today where the use cases for the digital fiat currencies could be evaluated.

“Central banks have accelerated their exploration of digital currencies with a variety of objectives, from fostering financial inclusion to modernizing the payments ecosystem,” said Raj Dhamodharan, Executive Vice President, Digital Asset, and Blockchain Products and Partnerships at Mastercard. And with this new platform, the company wants to support that decision.

On this virtual platform, the interested parties can simulate the issuance and distribution of the CBDC along with the exchange ecosystem with banks and customers.

It can be used to demonstrate how CBDC can be used to pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

The development efforts of the CBDC that includes the technical, design, and security aspect, can also be evaluated while to determine its value and feasibility in the market, use cases and tech designs can be examined as well.

“Mastercard wants to harness its expertise to enable the practical, safe and secure development of digital currencies.”

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Author: AnTy

BTC Marketplace, LocalBitcoins Partners With Elliptic To Integrate Blockchain Monitoring

Global Bitcoin (BTC) peer-to-peer exchange, LocalBitcoins announces its partnership with Elliptic, a crypto surveillance company, to further compliance on the site. An announcement from the Finland-based company confirms the addition of two Elliptic Solutions to prevent illicit crypto from transacting on the platform, namely, the Navigator risk analysis tool and Lens wallet screener.

Following its registration as a virtual currency payment provider in Finland, LocalBitcoins set out changes in its regulations. The latest integration of Elliptic’s blockchain monitoring tools aims to comply with the AMLD5 recommendation set out to European countries. LocalBitcoins stopped cash trades on the platform, citing issues with KYC/AML compliance.

Read more>> LocalBitcoins drops in-person cash support for Bitcoin trading, could get left behind by rival

The P2P exchange also took steps to make KYC mandatory on the exchange as well as discontinue Iranian users from the platform due to global economic sanctions placed on the country.

According to the chief scientist of Elliptic, Tom Robinson, exchanges that implement the blockchain monitoring solutions reduce their overall work, saving time to focus on stricter compliance issues. Speaking on the latest addition of Elliptic, Tom said,

“The reduction in flows from dark markets to peer-to-peer exchanges is a clear consequence of these businesses introducing strong KYC and AML controls. Criminals are now thinking twice before trying to cash-out through the major peer-to-peer exchanges.”

Following the toughened regulation and compliance on LocalBitcoins, users seem to be migrating to rival P2P exchanges, challenging its dominance. In December 2019, Paxful became the first P2P exchange for dethroning LocalBitcoins in weekly volumes traded, and the latter has since struggled to recoup its dominance.

Read more>> P2P bitcoin market, LocalBitcoins, sees 10% YoY revenue jump despite competition and regulations

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Author: Lujan Odera

ESPN to Launch Blockchain-based Gaming Platform With Bitcoin & Crypto Payments

E-Sports Programming Network (ESPN Global) has integrated online gaming with blockchain technology.

Currently, the platform — a “blockchain-based gaming revolution,” is under the pre-launch phase, which will allow users to win cash by winning battles and tournaments. It will further allow players to make “deposits and withdrawals using bitcoin and other variety of crypto-currencies.”

In the press statement, ESPN Global will be using crypto payment specialist “Cryptopay” to speed up the integration process.

Chris Parker, one of the directors of ESPN Global, noted that e-sports and online gaming is a “$140 billion global industry driven predominantly by digital micro-transaction economies,” as such can benefit immensely from the integrity and resilience of blockchain technology.

The UK-based mobile e-Sports platform is also integrating its recently launched blockchain-based game, Satoshi’s Treasure.

“With this $1 million puzzle game Satoshi’s Treasure, we are promising a bounty-laden bitcoin wallet whose keys will be divided into 1,000 fragments, spawning a global hunt for the prize pieces,” said Parker.

The company is also planning to launch an Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) for its own ERC-20 based token, Smart Gaming Token (SGT). The tokens will be airdropped to all registered players as a gift, which currently has a value of $0.001.

According to Parker, any player who loses money by participating in any of the games or tournaments, their losses will be covered by the corporation. Also, their crypto wallets will be credited with our SGT airdrops equivalent to their losses.

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Author: AnTy

International Banks Reportedly Enhance Due Diligence in Hong Kong Following New Security Law

Global banks have begun scrutinizing their Hong Kong clients to filter out pro-democracy individuals following the new national security law backed by mainland China.

A recent report by Reuters has revealed that the likes of HSBC, Credit Suisse, and Julius Baer are among the international banking giants that have since increased their diligence process, screening for government and political ties.

With the new security law in place, such a move was anticipated, given more exposure to regulatory risks. Citing anonymous sources, the report notes that banks have, in turn, introduced a new ‘sub-class’ of threat dubbed ‘politically exposed persons.’

“The designation, called politically exposed persons, can make it more difficult or altogether prevent people from accessing banking services, depending on what the bank finds about the person’s source of wealth or financial transactions.”

It goes on to detail that wealth managers are relying on social media posts by the individuals and their affiliates in the recent past. A key stakeholder in this industry revealed that his clients’ AUM, which currently totals $200 billion, could be audited as far as 2014 to determine a person’s stand in the Hong Kong pro-democracy ‘umbrella’ movement, which kicked off in the same year. Should a party be found to be a pro-democrat, they may end up being excluded from Hong Kong’s entire financial ecosystem.

Though none of the global banks has yet to comment on the matter, they appear to be towing the line as they look to maintain and probably scale business in Hong Kong.

Surprisingly, this is not the same reaction from parent governments that have since called out China for the new security law. The U.S senate, for instance, has already passed some sanctions under the ‘Hong Kong Autonomy Act,’ which could eventually affect financial service providers that link Hong Kong’s liquidity with the dominant dollar-system.

China CBDC Implementation takes on Crypto Decentralization

At the same time, China is fast-moving to play an ace card on the emerging decentralized economy whose fundamentals are pegged on crypto assets. The country banned cryptocurrencies earlier but has aggressively developed its own PBoC backed digital currency, an initiative that is now a reality in the pilot phase.

Also dubbed ‘DC/EP,’ the Chinese digital yuan will be an integral part of its financial network, given most of its population already transacts via Alipay or WeChat. Notably, the CCP will be able to exercise further its authoritarian approach in this new central bank digital currency.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

PayPal’s Letter to European Commission Confirms Its Plans to Develop Crypto Capabilities

In a letter to the European Commission published in March this year, the global payment service, PayPal, stated they are in works to enable cryptocurrency capabilities on the platform. The company has yet to disclose plans in the digital assets arena completely, but the addition of Bitcoin (BTC) to the platform could be on hand.

PayPal’s ambition in the cryptocurrency space has been clear since its entanglement with the Libra stablecoin project. In the letter to the European Commission responding to the consultation by the regulators on building an EU framework for markets in crypto assets, PayPal confirmed its interests in the digital asset space. The report reads,

“Since the project’s [joining the Libra Foundation] inception, PayPal has taken unilateral and tangible steps to further develop its capabilities in this area,” the report reads. “And to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities to democratize access to financial services.”

PayPal’s entry into the cryptocurrency asset space will open up the crypto market to over 300 million global customers (95 million in the EU). In June, BEG reported the global online payment giant had started researching into integrating buying and selling crypto.

Read More: PayPal CEO Dan Schulman Reveals He Only Owns One Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin

A clear developmental EU framework

PayPal recommends a developmental framework that enables a well-regulated industry, promoting clarity to enable innovation and evolution of the industry. The letter recommends three fundamental principles that the EU could follow to ensure a stable developmental structure in crypto regulation.

First, the EU should subject cryptocurrency service providers to the same scope of applicable KYC/AML compliance rules as other financial institutions to prevent money laundering and other illicit online trading activities.

The EU should also set clear definitions and rules on licensing and regulation to avoid loopholes and uncertainty. Finally, the EU regulators should take a step back not to stifle innovation in the rapidly changing world of cryptocurrency. The letter reads,

“Any regulatory framework in Europe should strive to be technology-neutral to support innovation and competition in this fast-evolving space.”

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Author: Lujan Odera