China Stance on Crypto Remains The Same; Blockchain, Not Bitcoin

In a recent report by Chinese state media Xinhuanet, the Chinese government wants its citizens to stop paying attention to cryptocurrency but concentrate more on blockchain technology, the technology behind the cryptocurrencies.

China is emphasizing that the current rise of almost all crypto coins could seem very attractive to investors, which may not be permanent.

According to the media report, the warning is to protect the Chinese citizens and residents from making life-damaging investment decisions. However, it encourages citizens to invest more time and resources in Blockchain technology since it can be applied in various industries.

The past few weeks had seen the upsurge of Bitcoin price, as it moved above its previous all-time high achieved in 2017 when it reached $20,000 per Bitcoin. The same story goes for other cryptocurrencies. Some even tripled in price, representing massive investment profits for the crypto holder.

Bitcoin’s direction is uncertain

Various market analysts have predicted on the recent Bull Run and where the market is headed next. Some have even predicted that Bitcoin’s price could reach $100,000 soon, as market indices show.

However, China is advising its citizens not to throw their entire investment bag into Bitcoin because the market is highly volatile. Generally, the country is known to be a strong supporter and advocate of advanced technology. But this time, the government is making a distinction between blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Based on the publication, one of the reasons for the advice against cryptocurrency investment is that no one knows why Bitcoin is rising fast. As a result, the fall can be dramatic and very volatile for some investors to bear.

The Chinese government has always been very protective of its citizens when it comes to investments. In the shared post, the government described Bitcoin’s price as a “hype,” and the risk f trading on the top cryptocurrency is very high, according to the post.

Different views about blockchain and cryptocurrency

But when it comes to the technology behind Bitcoin, China is well known to be an ardent optimist. It has made concerted efforts to develop its blockchain industry and has gone a long way towards developing it’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system.

The country has already passed the first stage of its DCEP testing. Additionally, China is in the process of developing its blockchain-based network service. Several public chains have already integrated into the network, including EOS, NEO, Tezos, and Ethereum. But it’s the negative stance of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency remains unchanged.

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Author: Ali Raza

Russia Proposes Tax Code Changes; Digital Financial Assets to be Classified as Property

The prime minister of Russia, Mikhail Mishustin, has said that the government is considering categorizing digital financial assets (DFA) as a form of property. Mikhail, who was speaking at a recent Russian government session, noted that the authorities intend to forge a path for a civilized local crypto market. According to a transcript of the meeting, Mikhail acknowledged the growing interest in this emerging asset class, hence the need for advanced oversight informed by law.

Other than supporting the growing crypto industry, Mikhail’s legal propositions are set to protect consumers as well. In fact, the Russian prime minister was keen to highlight that the propositions will help DFA owners to safeguard their rights and interest with a guarantee of proper legal frameworks. He also added that taking such a direction will make it difficult for ‘shadow schemes’ to thrive within the Russian market.

Mikhail’s general sentiment was to amend the tax code to include the legal propositions that would recognize DFA’s as property,

“Let’s make a number of changes to the Tax Code so digital financial assets can be recognized as property, and their owners will be able to count on legal protection in the event of any illegal actions, as well as to defend their property rights in court.”

The prime minister who was appointed earlier this year has been vocal about prioritizing a digital economy’s growth. Previously, Mikhail was the lead of Russia’s tax agency, having to be at the helm for around a decade. His newly appointed role as the head of government comes when crypto assets are a major and unavoidable topic for most developed economies.

Notably, Russia has not been among the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions according to the latest oversight developments that target the operation of crypto assets. Back in September, the Ministry of Finance proposed to criminalize the non-disclosure of crypto accounts. The country is set to enforce its digital asset bill in January 2021, having being signed into law by President Putin.

Oversight Still Ambiguous

While the latest sentiments by Mikhail seem quite bearish for crypto fundamentals, an expert who spoke to Decrypt was of a contrary opinion. Artyom Tolkachev, the CEO of Tokenomica, said that Mikhail’s take had not brought anything new to the table. He mentioned that tax code amendment to feature DFA’s had already been announced some time back. Also, crypto-assets supposedly do not fall within the DFA category,

“It is important to understand that cryptocurrencies are not ‘digital financial assets.’ By their nature, DFAs are more like security tokens, so it is a bit strange that they were considered side by side at a government meeting.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

USDC’s ‘Breakthrough’ Use-Case, US Govt. to Distribute Aid to Venezuela via the Stablecoin

With the support and licensing from the US Government, Circle is providing foreign aid through the USDC stablecoin to the people of Venezuela. Circle said,

“While this may be the first time, it will no doubt not be the last as global stablecoins firmly arrive on the world stage as a foundational infrastructure in the future of the international monetary system.”

USDC is the fastest-growing stablecoin of 2020, growing 500% in the past 8 months, with a market cap of over $2.8 billion.

In an announcement on Friday, Circle said it has been “approached” to help the “legitimate elected government of Venezuela” to distribute the financial aid to front-line medical workers in the country who, besides coronavirus, are also battling with hyperinflation, international sanctions, and economic collapse under the Nicolas Maduro regime who had launched his own oil-backed crypto petro.

After imposing sanctions on the Maduro regime, the US government seized Maduro and his government’s assets, which they now seek to get in the hands of the Venezuelans fighting COVID-19, for which they have turned to blockchain and fintech.

In collaboration with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, led by President-elect Juan Guaido and U.S.-based fintech innovator Airtm, aid will be distributed by leveraging dollar-backed USDC.

The Guaidó government will basically use the seized funds to mint USDC, which will be then sent to Airtm, a blockchain-based bank and dollar-denominated payment platform that powers digital payments throughout North, Central, and South America.

The USDC will then be sent to Venezuelan healthcare workers’ accounts as AirUSD — Airtm’s stablecoin-backed dollar token.

“All of this is powerful, inspiring, and underscores the ability of the internet and digital currency to transform… how value and money moves,” said Circle adding that

“it marks a historic moment where in order to execute on US government foreign policy objectives, economic and political leaders have turned to stablecoins.”

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Author: AnTy

Spanish Govt Embarks on Bill to Requires Crypto Investors to Disclose Holdings and Income

The Spanish government has embarked on a bill that may require its citizens to disclose their crypto income or holdings with the country’s tax agency. Reuters, which first reported on this development, noted that the bill in question aims at tracking down tax fraud/evasion amongst Spain’s crypto investors or users.

According to Spain’s government spokeswoman, Maria Jesus Montero, this piece of legislation is currently in progress and set to play a major role in harmonizing crypto tax reporting. If passed into law, crypto holders in Spain will have to disclose their crypto exposures within the rules of holding the burgeoning digital assets.

While the details of the proposed legislation are still scanty, this is not the first time Spanish authorities are making an effort to narrow down on crypto reporting. In 2018, they had embarked on similar efforts with the focus being identification; Montero highlighted that the Spanish government wanted to gain ‘identification of the holders and the balances contributed by these virtual currencies.’

She also touched on the tax issue at the time, although not much practicality on implementation followed later,

“It is stated as mandatory that people and companies inform the Tax Agency about this operation.”

However, the newly proposed legislation presents an opportunity to straighten out the ambiguity in Spain’s crypto tax reporting. Concurrently, tax cheats will be nabbed and taken into account based on an established regulatory framework.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Financial Firms & Law Enforcement Find Cryptocurrencies More Risky Than Opportunistic: Survey

Financial firms, government, and the private sector all see cryptocurrencies as risky, found a survey by the Royal United Services Institute think-tank and the Association of Anti-Money Laundering Specialists on Tuesday.

About 60% of respondents said cryptocurrencies were a risk rather than an opportunity with illicit usage the main concern.

The survey that maps out mainstream global views towards cryptos suggests an uphill struggle for the industry to achieve wider acceptance. Countries across the world are still grappling with how to regulate cryptocurrencies with the EU planning to introduce new rules by 2024.

The survey was based on over 550 responses from law enforcement, financial watchdogs, financial institutions, and legal and insurance firms along with the cryptocurrency industry.

Nearly 90% of respondents from financial firms said they were worried about digital currencies being used to launder money, while more than 80% are concerned about their usage to circumvent the financial system.

“All respondents accept that cryptocurrencies are vulnerable to criminals,” the survey’s authors said.

While the mainstream views about crypto are still marred by the potential criminal usage of crypto, according to blockchain analysis from Chainalysis, it is as low as 1% of all transactions. Not to forget the fact that major banks, including JP Morgan just recently, in one of its many over the years, have been involved in the illicit usage of trillion dollars and precious metal manipulation.

Only a fifth of respondents said they viewed cryptocurrencies as an opportunity, with one of the potential benefits cited was the extended access to financial services, the research found.

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Author: AnTy

US Congressional Members Ask The Govt To Support Blockchain Tech For COVID-19 Relief

  • U.S. Congressmen lobby the federal government to increase support and hasten the integration of blockchain technologies across the economy to ease the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
  • Blockchain technology innovations aimed at improving authorization of individual identity, supply chains, and medical registries.

A letter from lawmakers in Congress addressed to the US. President Donald J. Trump and directors handing the COVID-19 response strategies ask the top federal government executives to look into blockchain technologies as a solution to the pandemic.

According to the lawmakers (all members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus) urge the use of blockchains to improve the country’s economic interactions, enhance digital identification, manage supply chains and ensure credibility in medical registries and certifications. The letter reads,

“The membership of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus urges your consideration, support, and implementation of utilizing blockchain technology that could greatly mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus.”

The members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus who presented the letter are Bill Foster, Tom Emmer, David Schweikert, and Darren Soto – who lead the Caucus. Other members include Stephen Lynch, Warren Davidson, Jerry McNerney, Matt Gaetz, and Ro Khanna.

There is a growing need for verification and identity digitization as the world embraces social distancing. According to the statement, blockchains provide digital identity solutions that assist in authentication and verification of individuals, for example, when the U.S. distributed the CARES Package. Furthermore, blockchains offer strong encryption and a secure system hence protecting sensitive users’ data.

Blockchain can also improve the deployment of essential kits and medical equipment – especially during the times of the pandemic. These technologies could enhance the management of supply chains, identification of where supplies originate, transportation, and arrival times, the statement reads.

Additionally, medical registries, certifications, and licenses could all be deployed on a blockchain improving the medical field and professionals in the space. This could help these medical professionals securely and confidentially share critical information and deploy essential services in times of need.

This also points to the financial systems world whereby the U.S. Congress has continually called for more innovative technologies to be implemented to solve slow transactions and payments. In April, members of Congress reintroduced the “Digital dollar Act” to create a network of digital payments and distribute the CARES Act stimulus efficiently.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bermuda Govt Partners With Stablehouse to Test A Stimulus Token for COVID-19 Aid

On Tuesday, the Government of Bermuda announced that it has rolled out a pilot initiative for digital stimulus token. The program is being run in conjunction with Stablehouse, a Bermuda-based payments startup. The program is expected to offer crucial feedback on whether digital tokens can be used for buying essential goods and services in the country.

Stablehouse claims to be ‘a global virtual currency clearing house’ and facilitates the exchange of stablecoins. The startup is being advised by ex-Tether executive, Phil Potter, who will offer his expertise to the government in the provision of Bermudian Dollar Token, BMDT.

The government is seeking to collect vital information and data on whether merchants will readily accept digital tokens as a payment method. The pilot phase will also establish whether Bermudians are ready to use the tokens to buy essential goods and services.

At the moment, the government has recruited three merchants as well as 20 individuals who were given a stipend of free BMDTs that they use to test the initiative.

Speaking to Decrypt, chief fintech advisor to Bermudian prime minister, Denis Pitcher explained that the project will kick-off with a small number of participants but will gradually expand.

“Our ultimate goal is to end up with a wallet on every phone because wallets are the browser of the future when it comes to money and the future of finance.”

The partnership will see Stablehouse offer point-of-sale services to the merchants as well as provide its Green Wallet that enables clients to store coins while offline easily. The startup will also be handling issuance as well as redemption of the BMDT. It’s important to note that every token is backed by the Bermudian dollar, which is also pegged to the US dollar.

The token will run on Blockstream’s Liquid, which is a sidechain protocol that is designed to link together various exchanges.

The token stimulus initiative has been in the works since last year and is part of a comprehensive plan to introduce digital currency on the island.

Bermuda has implemented various crypto-friendly policies in the recent past. For instance, in October last year, the island allowed its residents to clear their taxes and fees using US dollar-backed stablecoins.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

US Department of Justice Working on Seizing 280 Crypto Accounts

The US government is looking to seize 280 cryptocurrency accounts that were used by North Korean hackers who reportedly stole millions of dollars of digital assets from two crypto exchanges.

A civil forfeiture complaint is filed by the US Department of Justice. Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s criminal division in a statement said,

“Today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network.”

The hackers also used Chinese traders to launder their funds who were charged by the US officials for laundering more than $100 million in crypto on behalf of North Korea — Pyongyang’s way of circumventing sanctions.

The United Nations Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 to curb its funding for nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In a report last year, the UN said the country had generated an estimated $2 billion through “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from crypto exchanges and banks. North Korea denied the allegation, calling them a “fabrication” to tarnish its image.

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Author: AnTy

Huawei and Beijing Municipal Government Collaborate to a Build Blockchain-Governed Smart City

Huawei, the Chinese tech giant, has partnered with Beijing Municipal government to develop a blockchain-governed smart city to improve service delivery and data-sharing. This initiative comes as China intensifies its tokenomics dominance with the DC/EP set to be rolled out in major cities such as Beijing. Notably, the two entities have been working together since 2019; a recent official report on the project highlighted that it is still in trial phases.

Huawei & Beijing’s Blockchain-based Directory

The blockchain-based public directory by Huawei and Beijing Municipal government leverages the former’s Cloud Blockchain ecosystem for real-time data sharing and management. It will link over 50 municipal agencies and support cross-departmental communication as well. In doing so, Beijing authorities are optimistic about enhancing trust through verification as per the technical fundamentals of blockchain tech.

The project is, therefore, set to play an important role, especially within the healthcare niche where COVID-19 responsive services are dependent on communication. Other areas set to benefit are real estate transfers, appeals to city government rulings, fundamental risk assessment, and finding local parking spots hence a direct trickle-down effect to Beijing natives.

Huawei Still China’s Tech Poster Boy

This Chinese tech conglomerate has not been short of controversy, with most of the pressure coming from the western world. Nonetheless, Huawei appears to be thriving in China’s market as well as emerging markets in African countries where it has partnered with the most significant service providers. The recent milestone in being part of Beijing’s shift towards a smart city further confirms the firm’s position as a leading tech in China despite criticism from International foes.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Irish Govt to Target Cryptocurrencies Use in Money Laundering And Terror Financing

The Irish government aims to implement stricter and more stringent laws to curb money laundering and terrorism financing in its financial system, including digital assets. In a report first published by Irish Examiner, the Cabinet is set to approve Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s bill, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Amendment Bill 2020, to place more stringent AML/CFT laws within Ireland.

As the only remaining English-speaking state in the EU, Ireland aims to see through the implementation of the proposed EU AMLD 5 directives by including cryptocurrency service providers. The bill also follows the Travel rule, which targets the regulation of virtual asset service providers (VASPs) such as crypto wallets and exchange providers and custodians.

The report further states there will be an introduction of new government ‘designated bodies’ to keep in check money laundering and terrorist financing after the bill is signed into law.

While the bill focuses on cryptocurrencies at length, traditional financial systems will also be under the spotlight, the Justice Minister said. Some provisions in the law state that traditional banking systems will also introduce tougher customer due diligence (CDD) processes to ensure the integrity of the financial transactions.

Moreover, the law prevents banks and financial institutions from creating anonymous safe deposit boxes for their customers in a bid to increase transparency. Corporate entities registered in the country will also be forced to disclose their ownership and funding fully.

The Irish authorities started clamping down on VASPs earlier in the year as these crypto services were denied any services by the banking institutions, slowing down trading processes. Most of the banks blamed the slow process of implementing the EU AMLD5 directive and lack of a clear path to regulate crypto in the country.

Expressing his frustrations at the time, CEO of Irish crypto exchange, Boinnex, Bryan Tierney said,

“Entering into a formal relationship with entities carrying out this type of business activity is outside of our risk appetite at this time.”

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Author: Lujan Odera