US House Lawmakers Pass Two Key Blockchain Legislation; Bills Headed To Senate

Following a two-week debate in the U.S. Congressional House, the Consumer Technology Act, which covers the Digital Taxonomy Act and the Blockchain Innovation Act, passed on Tuesday. The Act will now head to the Senate for debate.

The Digital Taxonomy Act and the Blockchain Innovation Act were introduced to the House by the Congressional Blockchain Caucus chairperson, Rep. Darren Soto. The two were then rolled into the broader Consumer Technology Act (HR. 8128), a program that mandates the Consumer Product Safety Commission to research and develops artificial intelligence solutions to enhance consumer protection and product safety.

The Soto-backed acts will work under the same goals of consumer protection. The latter aims at using blockchain technologies to fight fraud while the former will protect consumers from cryptocurrency and digital asset scams and fraud. Both bills introduced by Soto aim at enhancing U.S.’ blockchain research and development while keeping consumers safe. Soto wrote in a statement,

“The bill [Digital Taxonomy Act] directs the Federal Trade Commission to produce a report that would detail how the FTC protects consumers from unfair and deceptive acts or practices and provide further recommendations.”

Additionally, the Digital Taxonomy Act, if passed, will authorize additional power to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “prevent unfair or deceptive acts or practices relating to digital tokens and transactions relating to digital tokens.”

The Blockchain Innovation Act, on its part, directs the Department of Commerce (DOC) to carry out a study on how blockchain technologies can be used to enhance trade and commerce – and how to reduce fraud across the commerce industry. The report, conducted in consultation with the FTC, will be submitted to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

The statement on the passing of the blockchain bills further praised the potential that blockchain offers to commerce and trade in the U.S. Soto said,

“The study mandated by the Blockchain Innovation Act is a starting point meant to give government agencies a chance to make recommendations before any bills pass with a regulatory effect.”

“These recommendations will perform an educational function to Members of Congress and will pave the way for more actionable blockchain-focused legislation.”

The Consumer Technology Act was introduced to the house by Congressman Jerry McEnery (D-CA), referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Also Read: ‌Financial Firms & Law Enforcement Find Crypto More Risky Than Opportunistic

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Author: Lujan Odera

US Congress Adds Two Blockchain Proposals to the Consumer Protection Safety Act

The U.S House of Representatives has approved two blockchain-affiliated Acts through its Committee on Energy and Commerce; this marks the furthest a blockchain bill has come in the 116th Congress. The two Acts which will now be debated on the House as part of the larger Consumer Technology Act include the Blockchain Innovation Act and a section of the Digital Taxonomy Act.

Blockchain joins the list of emerging tech that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Commerce (DoC) will be tasked with consumer threat identification if the bill goes through. Rep Darren Soto (D-Fla) who is one of the bill’s sponsors noted that blockchain tech is excellent and could go a long way with the right regulatory support,

“I believe our government needs to support that growth, establish light-touch regulations to ensure certainty, protect innovation, stop fraud and enable its appropriate use for government, business and consumers.”

As it stands, the unregulated nature of blockchain has provided adequate grounds for scammers to engage in fraudulent activity and get away with the same in a blink. This was one of the issues cited by the bill’s sponsors and, in particular Congressman Jerry McEnery (D-CA); he highlighted that the incorporation of parts of the Digital Taxonomy Act would play a major role in protecting consumers from the scammers.

Better Late than Never!

Although a little late to the party, the U.S is gradually catching up with pioneers like Japan which enacted regulatory frameworks for the blockchain and crypto industry as early as April 2017. Politicians in the country have also started to accept donations in Bitcoin; Rep Soto, who sponsored this bill told the Chamber PAC that his campaign would be accepting BTC donations. The Democrat Congressman is not the only one that has gone this road; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and MN-06 Rep Tom Emmer are the other candidates that have since accepted Bitcoin.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Coinbase & Circle’s USDC Stablecoin Now Available on Algorand Blockchain; Up to 1000 TPS

  • Algorand (ALGO) becomes the latest blockchain to house Circle’s USDC stablecoin.
  • The blockchain promises 1000 transactions per second, providing massive scaling to USDC.

Center Consortium, a blockchain group led by payments firm Circle, and the largest crypto exchange in North America Coinbase, announced the addition of Algorand (ALGO) as the latest blockchain to host its USDC stablecoin. The blockchain becomes the second blockchain, after Ethereum (ETH), to add USDC in a bid to scale and speed up transactions using the token.

In a Medium blog post released on Sept. 9, Center Consortium stated the Algorand blockchain would help ease off transactions on Ethereum presenting a highly scalable and practically costless platform for USDC transfers. Algorand is one of the fastest layer one blockchains in the market today, providing over 1000 transactions per second (TPS) and transaction fees averaging less than a 1/20 of a cent – COSTLESS!

Algorand is a layer one blockchain that leverages blockchain technology allowing developers and users to build instant, seamless and decentralized applications on a scalable and costless platform.

Center Consortium parent company, Coinbase, listed Algorand’s native token, ALGO, in July this year due to customer demand causing a 30% price surge in a day. Algorand will now provide massive scaling to both retail and institutional USDC investors on the platform, Alesia Haas, Chief Financial Officer at Coinbase stated.

The expanding decentralized finance (DeFi) is also making a case for USDC’s addition of Algorand’s blockchain platform. Ethereum’s slow and expensive transactions on its blockchain are sending developers, users, and projects in search of a more scalable platform.

“Expanding USDC from Ethereum to additional blockchains like Algorand will ensure USDC has the flexibility to support everything from emerging DeFi projects to large-scale financial institutions”

“Today’s launch represents a significant improvement to USDC’s scalability, improving its utility and making it a significantly more useful protocol for solving real-world financial problems.”

The USDC stablecoin is available on the Algorand Mainnet starting 9th Sept. The statement also announced payments platform, Circle’s support of Algorand in its ecosystem. Algorand will now be integrated into platforms and APIs, including “Circle Payments, Wallets, Marketplaces and Business Account APIs”.

Jeremy Allaire, CEO and Co-founder of Circle, hopes for a happier future on Algorand’s “scalable and secure blockchain infrastructure.” In a statement to BEG, Allaire praised Algorand as the blockchain of the future as USDC moves to its next growth phase – web-scale infrastructure for global consumer payments applications.

In June, USDC, backed by dollars, announced its launch on Algorand is a debut of its multi-chain framework. The move opened up a gateway for users to transfer their assets from traditional finance systems to Algorand blockchain. Center Consortium plans to add USDC on other blockchains following Algorand’s partnership.

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Author: Lujan Odera

US Fed Balance Sheet Jumps $7 Trillion & Congress Passes $3 Trillion Relief Package

On Friday, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package.

This bill includes a second round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals, up to $6,000 per household. Almost $1 trillion are for cash-strapped local and state governments while $200 billion for essential workers’ hazard pay.

It further involves $600 per week for federal unemployment insurance benefit, $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance, and $10 billion in emergency small business disaster assistance grants.

The repeal of the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions for tax years would be most beneficial to higher-income taxpayers.

Economy facing “significant” vulnerabilities

Elsewhere, the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has reached $7 trillion, growing by $213 billion in the week ended May 13 which equals a record 32.2% of US GDP.

Before the Fed started its bold emergency action on March 15, the assets stood at $4.31 trillion.

The Fed also warned this week that the financial sector faces “significant” vulnerabilities due to this pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreck the country with the US having more than 1.48 million cases and more than 88,000 lost their lives to this virus.

Already, over 36 million people have filed for jobless claims since the crisis started.

Deflation not inflation the bigger risk

Fed and Congress injecting trillions of dollars into the economy might feel like preparing for inflation with easy money floating in the economy. But Bank of America is expecting deflation.

Core CPI prices that have historically fallen both during and after recession dropped 0.45% in April, the weakest point since first created in 1957.

A drop in producer prices, another indicator of near-term deflation has also fallen 1.5% over the last two months. BofA wrote,

“Items that are most in demand due to the shutdown – groceries, cleaning products, PPE etc. have risen in prices. Less visible [to consumers] are the numerous falling prices.”

As such, the COVID crisis and policy response to it are “deflationary” — a bigger risk in the next couple of years than inflation.

Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya shares the same opinion as he said, Fed’s stimulus policies risk “accelerate a really bad deflationary supercycle.”

Central-bank liquidity prime catalyst to relaunch bull markets

The risk of deflation is why the likes of macro investor Paul Tudor Jones are looking at bitcoin, which is an uncorrelated asset. Currently trading around $9,400, BTC has risen 144% since its bottom and is up over 28% YTD.

According to Mike McGlone, Senior Commodity Strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence bitcoin would also be the one to sustain its higher prices given that it has a supply shock recently while continuing to see an increase in demand.

Meanwhile, the likes of Billionaire hedge fund investor David Tepper believes the stock market is overpriced, the most since 1999.

And although the bottom might be in, they can still “fall significantly” from their current levels.

“The market is too damn high,” tweeted Palihapitiya earlier this week. Since their bottom on March 23, both Dow Jones and S&P 500 are up nearly 28%.

Some meanwhile also believe stocks are “absolutely on the brink of an epic meltdown.”

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Author: AnTy

US Congress Members Reintroduce ‘Digital Dollar’ in Automatic Boost to Communities Act

  • In the wake of the devastating effect that COVID-19 has had in the past few months across the U.S, the House of Representatives are set to discuss a digital dollar bill in the coming weeks.
  • Could the said $2000 monthly stimulus package be distributed to Americans directly into their digital wallets?

The U.S government has begun distributing the COVID-19 stimulus checks in a bid to boost the economy. In a new development in the Lower House, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is looking to introduce a digital wallet in the new bill titled, ‘Automatic Boost to Communities Act (ABC)” to which the $2000 extended monthly payment will be distributed to. The Act reads:

“No later than January 1, 2021, the Secretary shall offer all recipients of BOOST payments the option to receive their payments in digital dollar wallets.”

The ABC Act was introduced to the Lower House on Thursday with several members supporting the bill including;

  • Jesús García (D-Ill.)
  • Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
  • Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)
  • Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
  • Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)
  • Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
  • Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
  • Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

The bill aims to improve access of financial services to Americans connecting the Federal Reserve directly to the citizens. The short term $1200 stimulus is currently underway but some Americans are yet to receive the check as the system faces some challenges with third parties.

The initial stimulus bill included a “digital dollar” payment system to allow seamless disbursement of the funds but was later removed without explanation.

The ABC Act aims to transform the digital payments field during this pandemic and beyond looking into various forms of payments including digital wallets, debit and credit cards, online payment systems and access to mobile payment systems.

Direct Competition to Libra?

The current news comes just hours after the Libra Association announced its plans to develop a multi-currency and single-currency backed stablecoin in its updated whitepaper.

Libra platform aims to offer unbanked and underbanked users a digital wallet account that holds the tokens backed by dollars, euros, pounds, and yen. The development of a digital dollar may prove to cause direct competition to the Facebook-led project.

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Author: Lujan Odera

US House Financial Services Committee To Hold Digital Currency Hearing Next Month

Chairwoman Maxine Waters just released the March schedule for the US House Financial Services Committee with one interesting addition on March 24th.

The Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy will meet to discuss digital currencies in a hearing called “A Review of Domestic and International Approaches to Digital Currencies.” It will start at 2 pm ET, on March 24, which states the notice from February 21. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver will chair the subcommittee.

No Further Information Has Been Given

Further information on the hearing has yet to be released. Meaning that its mode of inquiry and witnesses are not yet known.

Speculation is that the hearing will include a discussion of Facebook’s Libra, especially since committee chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters was strongly opposed in the past. She even asked before its launch, that Facebook put a stop to its work on the stablecoin.

Concerns Raised by Congress

Rep. Maxine Waters and US Fed Chairman Jerome Powell are not the only members of Congress to raise questions concerning Libra. In the past, Powell argued that it raises serious concerns about financial security, privacy, money laundering, and consumer protection.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Dash Core Group’s CEO Releases Plan To Improve Market Performance – PoS Coming?

In a recent presentation at the Dash Evolution Open House in Arizona, the CEO of the Dash Core Group, Ryan Taylor, explained that they are working in order to improve Dash’s market performance. One of the possible solutions is to move to a proof-of-stake (PoS) network if the community decides to do so.

Ryan Taylor Presents New Plan To Improve Dash

Mr. Taylor has released a new plan in order to help Dash improve its performance in the cryptocurrency market when comparing it to other digital currencies in the space. He mentioned that several price crashes and spikes were highly related to specific initiatives and incentives in the network.

Dash reached its highest point in the market at the end of 2017 when many other cryptocurrencies were reaching their all-time highs. Moreover, during 2017 Dash had a very high BTC price that started to fall in early 2018 without being able to recover part of the price it lost.

Ryan Taylor wants to improve Dash attributes as a store of value, which is going to be a very difficult task considering the digital currency lost a large part of its value in the last few years. Indeed, Dash is making new lows in several years with a price per coin of $50. This represents a decrease from it’s all-time high of over 96% when it was traded close to $1,550.

Mr. Taylor explained that the financial incentives are used to pay for labor, electricity and mining equipment. This makes the profit margins very small for miners, a very important part of the whole blockchain network.

At the same time, Taylor said that the coin is affected by boom-and-bust cycles that can be related to the fact that the cryptocurrency works with Masternodes that require 1k in Dash in order to run.

The CEO of the Dash Core Group proposed a series of changes that could massively change the way in which Dash works.

For example, block rewards going towards PoW mining could be reduced and minimize the pressure on Dash’s price or the PoW consensus algorithm could be changed for PoS relying on the masternode network. Nevertheless, the community will have to debate these changes and whether they are going to be implemented or not.

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Author: Carl T

Chinese Local Authorities Halts the Operations of a Local Cryptocurrency Exchange BISS

Sohu, a local media house, reported on November 22 that the Chinese government closed BISS, a Chinese cryptocurrency exchange. However, the exact date of the closure remains unclear. Ten people who are believed to have been working for the exchange have also been taken into custody. This comes just after the Shenzhen authorities warned against illegal activities in the crypto space, including cryptocurrency exchanges last week.

The exchange’s last publication was on user withdrawal concerns in a blog dated November 18. The company confirmed that its operations have been halted by the authorities. “BISS’ operations have been halted by regulatory authorities on inquiries about our services, which may be contrary to capital control regulations.”

BLISS stated in the announcement that its operations have only been halted as the authorities investigate cases concerning user interests. The company, however, made it clear that its intentions are to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities and follow all relevant regulatory legislation to be on the safe side of the law.

Dovey Wan, the founding partner of Primitive Ventures, a blockchain-powered company, wrote on her Twitter on November 22, saying that the local crypto market had been aware of the closure for two weeks. The publication of that development by the media came quite late. According to Wan, BISS which a Beijing-based Cryptocurrency exchange, was a relatively established exchange.

Recently, there has been a crackdown on local cryptocurrency exchanges in China. Thirty-nine crypto exchanges in the country may find themselves victims of the ongoing ban, according to a report released by Cointelegraph. Shenzhen authorities have identified the 39 companies to be acting in violations of the regulatory obligations. The city of Shenzhen happens to be China’s tech capital.

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Author: Denis Miriti