Former TD Ameritrade Digital Assets Head Joins Fed Reserve as Chief Innovation Officer

Former TD Ameritrade Digital Assets Head Joins Fed Reserve as Chief Innovation Officer

Sunayna Tuteja has joined the Federal Reserve System as the Chief Innovation Officer. Before heading this position, Tuteja was previously working at TD Ameritrade as the Managing Director, Head of Digital Assets & DLT (Blockchain, Crypto), reads her LinkedIn profile.

TD Ameritrade has been providing its services to cryptocurrency users for some time now. It also made a strategic investment in ErisX, the cryptocurrency spot, and futures exchange during the bear market.

Tuteja joined the broker in 2014 to head its digital strategy department, following which she changed the department that specifically dealt with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Here, Tuteja only spent less than two years.

Under her latest role, she will be working on the Federal Reserve System’s digital innovation strategy. As a CINO, the official is required to stay abreast of the technology industry and market trends to understand their impact on the Fed system. The description for this position reads,

“This role will be responsible for identifying, researching, enabling and evangelizing for innovative new technologies while fostering a culture of technical innovation, encouraging System-wide collaboration and experimentation.”

This is another positive development for the cryptocurrency market, bringing us all that much closer to positive and clear regulations.

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Author: AnTy

NEM In Final Stage of Testing of its Enterprise Blockchain ‘Symbol’ Before Mainnet Launch

NEM has announced that its enterprise-focused blockchain innovation dubbed ‘Symbol’ is set for a debut early next year. The announcement, which was made on Tuesday, highlighted that Symbol is in the last preparation phase before its Mainnet launch.

The NEM team is currently carrying out tests, having frozen Symbol’s iteration; this innovation is expected to introduce a hybrid blockchain infrastructure that features private and public architecture. NEM Group CIO, Dave Hodgson, commented on the value proposition in this enterprise-focused blockchain,

“Created for enterprise use, Symbol is purpose-built to be flexible to a suite of use cases, spanning regulated markets, supply chain, fintech, healthcare, government and more.”

Symbol’s scheduled Mainnet launch on January 14 will mark version 1 of the enterprise blockchain. Once it officially debuts, the platform will open up for use by businesses, token holders, and other stakeholders looking to leverage hybrid blockchain ecosystems. NEM Software CTO, Kristy-Leigh Minehan, emphasized that,

“As a hybrid network, Symbol offers a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario and more flexibility to businesses in how they manage and share data.”

According to NEM, the hybrid approach allows businesses to enjoy private and public blockchains’ benefits. These are fundamentals, such as the transparent nature of public blockchains and encryption measures/data restrictions embedded in private networks.

NEM’s Symbol hybrid infrastructure could be deployed in multiple business environments, including logistics or supply chains. As earlier reported by BEG, the team looked to tap into wine supply chain management as one of the debut niches.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Binance Launches ‘Innovation Zone’ to Justify DeFi FOMO Listings

Leading spot exchange Binance has created an “Innovation Zone” to list newer tokens.

“The team has created the Innovation Zone, which will allow users to trade newer token offerings from the comfort of their Binance account, while at the same time protecting less suited users from being exposed to the “risk” that comes with trading them,” wrote the CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao on Monday.

Whatever this means, you ask? Just that Binance will list all the DeFi tokens as fast as it can, as it has been doing.

The Innovation Zone was introduced along with the listing of SUN, Justin Sun’s DeFi venture.

What can we do?

The clarification came in the light of the fastest listing of UNI token by a centralized cryptocurrency exchange.

As we reported, exchanges rushed to list the highly anticipated governance token of DEX Uniswap. While Coinbase, Poloniex, FTX, Kucoin, OKEx, and Huobi all jumped in, it was Binance that was the first to induce the FOMO listing.

It wasn’t the first time either, the SUSHI saga earlier this month pointed many accusing fingers on Binance as well.

At that time, Zhao tweeted, now deleted, that if they don’t list DeFi coins, “traffic goes to other exchanges, and we become … obsolete. We provide access to liquidity; we don’t force you to buy.”

As the DeFi craze continued to roar, exchanges continued to take advantage of this opportunity by listing these DeFi tokens as fast as possible despite having a framework in place that requires significant and diligent efforts to review a project before listing.

CZ says so himself this time, “We don’t list every coin under the sun. We have a selection process that is often viewed as overly strict, especially by project communities that haven’t been listed yet.”

But with the DeFi sector so hot now, Binance has the dilemma of listing the token quickly or wait until the project is proven.

We’ll Continue to list DeFi coins!

According to CZ, unlike 2017, Binance is “bigger and has a wider user base” now. Not to mention, getting a listing on top exchanges is a time consuming and hard process with many, like Digibyte, complaining about exchanges asking for a listing fee.

The tables have turned for sure.

In the latest announcement, CZ argues that not only Binance needs to “stay competitive” by listing popular coins, but it is also hard to find what is good or bad as everyone’s definition is different.

“So, in keeping on-trend and delivering what our users (you) want, we (Binance) will continue listing DeFi coins,” he said.

Also, trading on DEX requires a “high degree of capability and understanding.” With Innovation Zone, Binance wants to provide you a “safer space for accessing newer tokens,” which have higher volatility.

You also don’t have to remember your password/seed phrases or suffer the loss in case of a wrong transaction as CZ will take care of it.

So, how exactly does this zone work?

If in the event of incurring losses, you answer it is your fault, and you are responsible because “it was a choice that you alone made” and the likelihood of incurring losses to your principal capital in the zone is less than 50%, you get a green light to trade.

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Author: AnTy

BIS and HKMA Launch ‘TechChallenge’ Seeking Trade Finance Innovations; DLT & IoT Included

The BIS Innovation Hub (BISIH) has partnered with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to hold a trade finance digitization competition to spur innovative solutions for the sector, especially in Asia. BIS announced on August 3 that global innovators are invited to submit their applications by the end of the month, after which successful participants will be invited to develop full prototypes in a sandbox environment throughout 2021.

Research conducted by the HKMA before embarking on the ‘Tech challenge’ revealed that over 70% of stakeholders in traditional financial institutions believe that most global trade finance needs are yet to be addressed. Notably, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has, in the past, presented similar facts, highlighting a $1.5 trillion global trade finance gap.

With such stakes in play, the BIS and HKMA have since taken the initiative to find solutions for this potential market. Other prominent stakeholders backing this project include the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), International Institute of Finance (IIF), and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Blockchain and DLT Highly Considered

Interestingly blockchain, which is among the latest emerging tech featured, has been regarded as a solution to some of the problem statements tabled by BIS and HKMA. For starters, distributed ledgers can be instrumental in connecting ‘digital islands’; this is where tech becomes akin to specific jurisdictions, or is limited such that every party runs its centralized platform.

The BIS now suggests that blockchain can be used for linking global trade finance platforms for better communication, hence connecting the digital islands from the point of trust and verifiability.

In addition, blockchain can also be considered in delivering efficient B2B or B2C ecosystems for SME’s to thrive. According to the explainer materials by the BIS, novel tech such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and IoT will further complement efforts towards the SME environment.

Finally, innovative solutions in line with onboarding emerging markets were featured in the BIS and HKMA problem statement. On this one, decentralization, which most actors approach with an open infrastructure perspective, could assist in the integration of developing markets through seamless interface connections. The organizers highlighted,

“To leverage the diversity of innovation and digitization underway on this topic globally, solution providers are free to suggest any technology approaches they consider suitable to address one or more of the problem statements, including decentralized approaches based on blockchain/ Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT).”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

PBoC’s Fintech Innovation Regulations Pilot Program Extends to Six More Districts

The new Fintech Innovation Regulations implemented last year by the Bank of China (BoC) in a Beijing Pilot program will be extended to six more districts, with hopes of benefiting the real economy amidst global Covid-19 concerns. The decision is aligned with China’s 3-year Fintech Development Plan unveiled last year by the BoC.

After releasing the new Fintech Innovation regulations last year, the Bank of China (BoC) opted for a pilot program approach that was unveiled in Beijing. On April 27th this year they have stated their intention to extend the regulatory programs to six of China’s districts.

The extension will involve the districts of: Chongqing, Suzhou Hangzhou, Hebei Xiong’an New District, Shenzhen and Shanghai in an attempt to bolster financial systems. Ultimately, the extension aims to boost the economies of these districts struggling under the present circumstances.

They have reiterated their intentions to help SMEs mitigate financial downsides amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are aiming to amid the pandemic situation and help enterprises to resume work and production.”

China’s Huge Appetite for Fintech Products.

The main objective of these Fintech innovation regulations is to uphold their citizens’ consumer rights. Notably, China has a colossal population with a voracious appetite for Fintech products and consumer goods.

The intentions of the BoC were made clear last year in October when they launched a certification program for Fintech products. The system was set to cover all possible angles on Chinese payment systems including point-of-sale mobile terminals, embedded application software, user front-end software, and security carriers and chips.

The fintech innovation regulations are a major cog in China’s mega plan to further foster growth in their Fintech realm.

During a conference held last year where the Fintech Development Plan (2019-2021) was discussed at length, whose scope of touched on the plans for the Fintech sector touching on guidance ideology, basic principles, development targets, key missions and guarantee mechanisms between the three-year period.

The bank has set a three-year timer to achieve one of their main objectives which are solidifying Fintech regulations which would entail coming up with a framework for implementing the regulations. According to the outline from the Bank, China ought to have come up with framework dubbed ‘the four beams and eight pillars’ of their Fintech Development.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Italian Bank Launches ‘Hype’ Bitcoin Trading Service in Wake of the Coronavirus Outbreak

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has inevitably sparked innovation and caused an increase in adoption of some markets sooner than we expected. An Italian bank, Banco Sella, recently launched a BTC trading service in a bid to deal with the tough financial times.

This move is not unprecedented, given the country has been hit the most by COVID-19 in Europe. Banco Sella will now allow over 1.2 million users who registered with their platform dubbed ‘Hype’ to buy and sell Bitcoin. In addition, they will be able to use this digital asset for payments of goods and services. The bank is optimistic that capitalizing on the growing BTC interest while the country is on lockdown will yield a positive ROI in the future.

Hype’s General Manager emphasized on the significance of tapping into this market;

“The cryptocurrency and Bitcoin market in particular continues to arouse interest, especially among the public that constitutes our customer base — by definition young and smart and who, increasingly, expect to be able to access this world through the tool that they use to manage money on a daily basis.”

Will Digital Currencies Help in Curbing Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The world is at an uncertain point as COVID-19 cases increase by the day. This has forced some countries to take radical measures like lockdowns while others are on the frontline of research and development to fight the virus.

Given the situation, a country like Kenya has moved to incentivize its citizens to use M-Pesa services. The leading mobile provider, Safaricom, announced that sending amounts below $10 will be free while it increased transaction limits to $1500 from $700 per transaction. This initiative has seen Kenya’s average use of mobile money rise from $1.5 to $3.5 within the last five days.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Hawaii Opens Up Regulatory Sandbox For Crypto Payment Companies Till 2021

Hawaii launches a regulatory sandbox, “Digital Currency Innovation Lab”, a pilot program to boost the understanding of digital currencies. The program will run for two years offering crypto startups and companies an opportunity to do business in the country “without obtaining a state money transmitter license.”

Hawaii launches the Digital Currency Innovation Lab

In a joint partnership among three financial authorities in Hawaii, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) and Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC), cryptocurrency payment services will now be able to carry out business in the state under the new sandbox program. The new program is set to assist the authorities shape up regulations for the industry while understanding it deeper.

Furthermore, this looks set to relax the arduous rules that crypto companies have had to deal with over the past few years in the state. One particular rule that is set to be eased is the “double-reserve” requirement that states companies can only hold as much fiat currency as their customers hold crypto.

Those companies that will be selected in the program will have total autonomy to carry out business activities that would previously been considered unlicensed money transfer activity. This means none of the financial authorities will take action for companies registered in the program. Iris Ikeda, Commissioner of Financial Institutions says,

“DFI is leveraging its statutory authority to provide an innovative way to introduce digital currency issuers into the State of Hawaii, while ensuring the safety of our consumers.”

“Financial authorities to benefit from program”

The digital currency pilot program is specifically set to help in regulating the crypto payments industry in the state better according to Len Higashi, acting executive director of HTDC. Len believes Hawaii will lead in the digital currency payments race by being an early adopter. He remarked,

“By spearheading the Digital Currency Innovation Lab, Hawaii can position itself on the forefront of financial technology and potentially, reap the economic benefits that accompany the leadership stance taken.”

Iris also believes that the project will help in understanding and appreciating the overall advantages that cryptocurrency offers. He said,

“By acknowledging digital currencies as a transmission vehicle of the future, we will be able to craft legislation that is conducive to its development in Hawaii.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Crypto Needs Central Banks’ Pegged Fiat Currency to be Stable: Former ECB Benoit Coeure

Benoit Coeure, current head of Innovation Hub at the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), has today said in an interview with CNBC he is confident central banks partly hold the future of cryptocurrencies. The French Economist and a former executive board member at ECB was keen to highlight a that practical approach by regulators would define where to place the digital currencies.

Benoit further expressed the reasoning behind this point of view during the interview. Notably was an advocacy for central banks being the binding factor of a stable economy given tools under fiscal and monetary policies. According to Benoit, it follows that a stable crypto ecosystem would have to be Central Bank pegged;

“It will be part of the backstop because that’s what’s needed for the stability of the system.”

Benoits take on Crypto Regulation

When asked whether digital assets like BTC need to evolve for them to be adopted; Benoit had an interesting answer for CNBC’s reporter. The veteran Economist said if crypto coins are presented as investment assets then it would only be prudent to regulate them under similar laws with mutual funds, ETF’s or collective schemes. On the hand, they can be regulated as payments if they tend to lean more towards this function.

Benoit also commented on tokenization of fiat currencies to serve as a back-end for crypto ecosystems. In his opinion, Central Banks are mainly concerned with economic stability hence the support for systems like RTGS. Crypto assets are therefore likely to face a similar fate as central banks will remain at the core of monetary operations;

“It might have to evolve to be part of the backstop. It might have to be tokenized, it might have to take different forms but it will remain at the core of the system.”

These sentiments were aired on the same day BIS announced two new appointees under its innovation hub. Benoit welcomed Morten Bech and Andrew McCormack to the team noting that their skills would be valuable in the BIS goal of bridging the gap between FinTech and central banks.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

New York’s Financial Regulator Searches for Crypto and Blockchain Deputy Superintendent

  • There are presently two deputy superintendents for the Research and Innovation Division.
  • The New York State of Financial Services prefers that applicants already have experience in compliance and the legal system with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

The blockchain and cryptocurrency industry in New York is very strict, requiring businesses to secure a Bitlicense before they can even operate in the state. Now, with a “special” focus on blockchain and cryptocurrency, The Block reports that the New York State of Financial Services is looking for a deputy superintendent.

Based on the job posting for this position, the superintendent would be working in the Research and Innovation Division. This division was only recently created, but already is in charge of overseeing the licensing of incoming crypto companies. The division was created with four executive appointments, including:

  • Matthew Homer, executive deputy superintendent
  • Matthew Siegel, deputy superintendent
  • Olivia Bumgardner, deputy superintendent
  • Andrew Lucas, counsel to the Research and Innovation Division.

In this position, the industrial would be offering their expertise on developing policies on cryptocurrency markets, while guiding the staff that will be reviewing all of the applications for licenses. The new hire will also have to work with the state and federal regulators continually and will continue offering advice to the NYDFS.

The NYDFS prefers that applicants have compliance and legal experience with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. The deadline for submitting applications on October 31st. While some speculation suggests that the new appointment would replace either Bumgardner or Siegel, it could also end up being the third deputy superintendent to join the division.

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Author: Krystle M

India’s Proposed Blanket Bitcoin Ban Will Set The Economy Back As Blockchain Devs And Traders Leave

Being too tough on innovation can be a cause for brain drain. At least that is what some crypto specialists in India believe right now. As the government continues its plans to ban cryptocurrencies locally, India is starting to see its first big signs of brain drain happening in the country.

A complete blanket ban as proposed by the government would basically make it inviable for people who specialize in cryptocurrencies to have a place in the country. These people would possibly be experts in the industry could simply move to other places.

The upcoming law could imprison people for up to 10 years for trading cryptos or dealing with them. This is already prompting people in the industry to plan their exodus from the country.

Rahul Jain, for instance, was interviewed by the Economic Times. He works at a local crypto exchange and affirmed that the company wanted to serve Indians first, but they are having trouble to keep a viable business there.

The CEO of WazirX, Nischal Shetty, affirmed that the bill could erode the wealth of millions of people in the country who are already using Bitcoin. Criminalizing crypto assets, according to him, would be a blow to businesses that were operating completely within the boundaries of the law before.

One of the main concerns of the people in the industry is that the country will also lose the chance to participate in a $10 trillion USD industry, which will certainly harm the local economy.

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Author: Gabriel Machado