Gibraltar Govt Joins the Global Blockchain Business Council as an Observing Member

Gibraltar, of the British Overseas Territories, has been appointed as an observing member of the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC). According to a Twitter announcement on the official handle of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, the admission into GBBC is an opportunity for the British Overseas Territory to collaborate with stakeholders in blockchain advance research and adoption.

The GBBC is roughly three years old and constitutes various industry experts from over 50 jurisdictions, all of whom Gibraltar will now be working alongside. This initiative was launched three years ago in Davos to strengthen the blockchain community by enhancing partnerships, advocacy, and education.

Gibraltar noted that it would contribute its innovative approach in regulation and share ideas with other members of the GBBC. They also plan to expand collaborative partnerships to increase their contribution to both local and international blockchain regulation.

Gibraltar’s Minister for Digital and Financial Services, Hon Albert Isola, said that GBBC’s goal to grow the blockchain space by ‘engaging and educating enterprises and regulators is totally aligned with our own mission.’ GBBC CEO Sandra Ro was also optimistic about the announcement,

“The Global Blockchain Business Council welcomes the Government of Gibraltar into our global network as a GBBC Observing Member.

We look forward to highlighting the important digital assets and blockchain technology work and innovation from Gibraltar as we advance global collaboration, adoption, and opportunities.”

It is quite noteworthy that Gibraltar has previously been progressive on embracing blockchain technology; they introduced a DLT legislation as early as 2018 and recently made an update to feature the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines that were passed last year. The British Overseas Territory is also a member of an EU blockchain-focused group dubbed ‘INATBA.’

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Chamber Of Digital Commerce Launches ‘Crypto for Congress’ Sending $50 in BTC to Every Member

  • CDC plans to give every member of congress a small campaign donation in Bitcoin (BTC).
  • The $27,000-plan aims to introduce digital assets to members of Congress to ease the lobbying process.
  • The U.S. still lags behind its competitors in the blockchain and cryptocurrency field.

In a published post on Monday, the Chamber of Digital Commerce (CDC), a leading trade association in digital asset payments and blockchain innovations, announced the launch of ‘Crypto for Congress’, a program set to send campaign donations in Bitcoin (BTC) to each of the 541 members of Congress. This represents the first time every member of Congress will have an opportunity to fully interact with the technology, leveling the field when making digital asset laws.

The Chamber of Digital Commerce PAC will send $50 donations to the campaign trail to each member, in addition to “providing extensive public online educational training, a toolkit, and resources.” The donation remains trivial but will greatly impact Congress members interacting with Bitcoin and the crypto ecosystem directly.

The post further states that presenting BTC to Congressional members will “foster a deeper understanding of blockchains” to ease the legal procedures and promote “greater participation in the political process” to integrate blockchain benefits to every industry U.S.

Also Read: US Congressional Members Ask the Government to Support Blockchain Tech For Covid-19 Relief

Crypto for Congress is an educational initiative formed by CDC’s PAC, a different entity from CDC, aiming to teach Congressional members from both parties of the benefits and law-making process in the blockchain and crypto ecosystem. Perianne Boring, President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, emphasized the need for Congress to interest the blockchain field. Boring said,

“Now is the moment for all Members of Congress to learn about and embrace cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and the best way to do that is to set up a digital wallet and get started on the blockchain journey.”

Further focusing on the U.S. lagging behind leading nations in digital assets and blockchain technology, she said,

“Many other nations like China, Japan, Singapore, and Switzerland have rapidly embraced blockchain technology and created robust national plans to be global leaders in this area. The United States is falling behind in technological innovation, and this is not a risk we should be willing to take.”

Support from Congress

The initiative is also supported by the Congressional Blockchain Caucus led by Tom Emmer and Darren Soto, who recently sponsored two digital asset bills in the Consumer Protection Act – currently in Senate.

Emmer labeled the Crypto for Congress initiative as a ‘lightbulb moment’ in Congress, finally taking an interest in the digital assets and blockchain developments. He said,

“By embracing the digital asset movement, we have an opportunity to take a significant step forward to ensure America’s leadership position in the future of the global economy.”

Representative. Darren Soto said,

“As lawmakers, it’s our duty to ensure the United States leads in blockchain technology. Understanding how this technology works at a hands-on level is an important step we must take to promote innovation and maximize the potential of cryptocurrencies for the U.S. economy.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

European Central Bank (ECB) Must be Ready to Issue a Digital Euro, Says Board Members

ECB board member Fabio Panetta said on Friday that the European Central Banks should be preparing to issue a digital euro.

In a study published on Friday, the ECB said a digital euro could help an environment where citizens have abandoned cash, other means of payments became unavailable, or foreign forms of electronics have taken over.

“We should be ready to issue a digital euro if and when developments around us make it necessary,” said Panetta in a post accompanying the study. “This means that we already need to be preparing for it.”

Open for public consultation that will start Oct. 12; the ECB has given itself until the mid of next year to decide whether to go forward with the project, which would start with an “investigation phase.”

“Our role is to secure trust in money,” said ECB President Christine Lagarde. With this, she means making sure “the euro is fit for the digital age,” and should the need arise, be prepared to issue its digital version.

Digital euros will give holders a direct claim on the central bank and could be transferred directly between users — typically an option only for governments and commercial lenders, making them safer than any deposits.

As it has implications for financial stability and monetary policy, the ECB report urged to assess whether a digital euro should be accessible by firms and households directly or indirectly via intermediaries.

The ECB also said deposits in digital euros might be capped and subject to its interest rate on deposits, which is minus 0.5% currently. Instead of just by the ECB, they would also be offered by the private sector, it said in the study.

A digital euro “is becoming an obligation which, indeed, central banks — need to carry out,” said ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos in an online discussion on Friday.

In a sign that ECB is serious about a central bank digital currency, it applied to trademark the term “digital euro” last week.

While the People’s Bank of China is already working on the testing of its CBDC, the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are still discussing the possibilities around the digital version of their respective fiat currencies.

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Author: AnTy

FinTech Firm, Wirex, to Launch A Multi-Currency Mastercard Card With 2% Crypto-Back in Europe

Wirex, the inaugural crypto firm to become a Mastercard principal member, is set to roll on its new multi-currency card days after gaining principal membership.

The crypto payment platform is based in London and is licensed by Uk’s Financial Conduct Authority to offer crypto cards across Europe.

The new multi-currency Wirex Card will be backed by Mastercard and will be connected to 19 crypto as well as fiat currency accounts found in the Wirex app. The firm is however yet to issue the release date.

In efforts to boost the utilization of crypto in everyday payments, the firm is also enhancing its existing cryptoback rewards program that has so far been rewarding crypto users with upto 1.5% back in Bitcoin for every in-store transaction.

Going forward, crypto users will enjoy a 2% cryptoback for both in-store and online transactions. In addition, users will get up to 6% rewards on their native Wirex Token balance per year.

Before releasing the Mastercard backed crypto card, Wirex is also set to release various new features taking advantage of the recent partnership with LHV, a payments solution firm.

Within the European Economic Area, the new features which are now live come with support for five fresh currencies consisting of Hungarian forint, Czech Koruna, Romanian leu, Croatian kuna and Polish złoty.

Wirex has in the recent past enjoyed an increase in support with the platform revealing that it has more than three million users in the start of the year. According to the firm’s CEO, the firm has seen adoption especially among mainstream users that are not usually hardcore crypto worshippers or enthusiasts.

Wirex platform allows users from about 130 nations to use their crypto as well as fiat money via an existing dedicated Visa card as well as mobile app.

Recently, there have been positive signs of integration between plastic money and crypto as both Visa and Mastercard have enhanced their efforts to form working relationships with various established crypt-based companies.

Coinbase card was the inaugural crypto card to be issued in the United States and is backed by both Mastercard and Visa.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Wirecard Manager Hiding in Russia With A ‘Significant’ Amount of Bitcoin Stashed

Former Wirecard board member – Jan Marsalek, who has been in hiding for weeks, has fled to Russia with “significant” amounts of bitcoin stash, which he bought from Dubai where the company had dubious operations, according to a report by the German news outlet.

Marsalek had much interest in cryptocurrencies as earlier this month The Wall Street Journal noted:

“Mr. Marsalek liked engaging in late-night discussions about cryptocurrencies and their ability to move money without a trace.”

He is currently staying at a private house in the Moscow region under the supervision of the Russian military secret service GRU.

Last month, the head of Wirecard’s Dubia-based unit was arrested by the German prosecutors, and an arrest warrant was also issued for Masalek. But he escaped, leaving behind “a slew of false leads and clues as to whether he may be hiding,” including falsified immigrant records and airline bookings.

The company which operates crypto debit cards, filed for insolvency at the end of June after it was found to have $2.1 billion missing from the balance sheet.

This resulted in the crypto debit cards operated by the company getting frozen, and now crypto companies are looking for new partnerships.

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Author: AnTy

Currencycloud Partners with Ripple to Leverage RippleNet for Efficient Cross-Border Payments

Currencycloud – one of the global payment processing giants – has become the latest member of the RippleNet family and would help ripple in expanding its cross-border remittance services further. The B2B payment processing giant is known to work with several small and medium business entities before joining the RippleNet.

RippleNet, a venture of Ripple blockchain, is known for its cross-border remittance solutions and has partnered with hundreds of banks, financial institutions, and payment processing giants to avail fast and cheap cross-border transactions using XRP as liquidity.

RippleNet aims to be the payment processor for a rapidly-changing world and is banking on the wave of globalization moving from west to east.

Asia is one of the footholds for the decentralized tech provider firm, and they have made aggressive expansion in the region with new members and services regularly.

Currencycloud, which has been working with Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), aims at expanding its service to help its new partners, especially in a world where traditional banks often overlook SMEs for big MNCs. The payment processing giants hope to reach new firms and SMEs who are deprived of the banking facilities up until now.

Ripple’s Client List Grows to 350

Ripple, which calls itself a decentralized tech company, ventured into remittance services through RippleNet a few years back, and even though the XRP token hasn’t managed to see a price break though, in a very long time, the cross-border solutions have garnered a lot of popularity over the years.

Ripple now boasts over 350 clients and recently updated its official website to include its new partners.

Mike Laven, CEO of Currencycloud, commented on their recent association with RippleNet and hoped the partnership would be mutually beneficial, helping them in expanding their network to new parts of the world. He said:

“Currencycloud is all about bringing clarity, speed, and value to the traditionally opaque, costly, and time-consuming issues associated with cross-border payments, particularly for SMEs that have historically been under-served by traditional banking. Ripple’s solution will help us to extend our network to new parts of the world, removing more barriers to payments for our clients.”

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Author: Hank Klinger

Banco Rendimento Becomes First Bank To Run Entirely on RippleNet Cloud

Banco Rendimento, one of the top volume producing banks in Brazil, has become the first RippleNet member to shift its RippleNet operations to the Ripplenet Cloud completely. Cloud technology has found a lot of relevance recently as it offers uninterrupted connectivity between the service provider and the customer no matter irrespective of their geographical location.

Financial institutions see great potential in cloud technology in these changing times, as it allows them to attend to customer issues and queries rapidly and resolves them almost instantly.

Ripple has made a name for itself among the cross-border remittance technology providers. Its RippleNet solutions are being adopted all across the globe by various banks and financial institutions to offer instant cross-border transactions at low cost to their customers.

The traditional remittance system is quite complicated and hasn’t seen much advancement in terms of core technology, which makes cross-border transactions a tiresome task.

While Banco Rendimento is the first bank to shift its operation on the cloud completely, many other RippleNet clients such as Azimo, MoneyGram, Pontual, and Viamericas have also been utilizing the benefits of the RippleNet cloud.

80% of New RippleNet Clients Prefer Cloud Deployment

In an official announcement blog published by Ripple, the firm mentioned that its clients are highly bullish on cloud deployment, and a majority of them have already opted for the same.

In the past 6-months, 80% of all the new clients of RippleNet have opted for a cloud deployment while 30% of all forms of the transaction on the RippleNet platform is being carried via RippleNet Cloud.

Adrian Yap, CEO and co-founder at MoneyMatch explained how RippleNet Cloud has helped them connect with multiple financial institutions needed for the business and how this technology could be the way most of the banks function in the future. He said:

“Being hosted on RippleNet’s Cloud allowed us to connect with financial institutions around the world that would have otherwise been more challenging to connect to from Malaysia. Using one API set for all of our RippleNet connections allowed us to cut our costs and speed up the integration process, which otherwise would have taken days or weeks longer.”

Banco Rendimento expects to see a significant change in its transaction volumes by the first quarter of 2021 and offer a much more efficient and cost-effective set of services to their customer base.

Jacques Zylbergeld, FX Superintendent at Banco Rendimento, commented on their decision for a complete cloud deployment saying:

“We migrated to RippleNet Cloud to give our customers the chance to connect with global partners easily, faster, and with more transparency. We see cloud services as a way to allow them to navigate easily, while they can submit and trade payments in the same environment with clients from all over the world, and Ripple is helping us with that.”

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Author: Silvia A

Estonia Revokes License of Over 500 Crypto Companies to Curb Money Laundering

European Union member Estonia is now cracking down on cryptocurrency firms to attack money laundering in the country.

Estonia has been in the spotlight for Europe’s biggest money-laundering scandal, about €200 billion were laundered from Denmark’s biggest financial institution Danske Bank’s Estonian branch from 2007-2015. To put it in perspective, in 2017 Estonia’s GDP was €29 billion.

The scandal raises serious questions over the capacity of not only banks but also the government in combating money laundering. Now, the country has set its eyes on crypto businesses that exchange and help hold virtual currencies like bitcoin, reported Bloomberg.

Interestingly, Estonia was among the first in the EU to license these firms in late 2017.

But now, the regulators have stripped more than 500, a third of the total permits this year. According to Madis Reimand, head of the Baltic country’s Financial Intelligence Unit, the decision was made because the regulators are worried these firms are using their local credentials to help commit fraud elsewhere. Reimand told Bloomberg,

“This is a first step in tidying up the market, allowing us to take care of the most urgent issues by permitting operations only for companies that can be subjected to Estonian supervision and coercive measures.”

According to FIU’s annual report released on Thursday, there has been an increase in sectoral risks in 2019 amid “extremely fast” growth in service providers.

Out of the 56 supervisory inspections last year, 34 were of the virtual currency companies suspected of embezzlement of clients and providing financial services abroad without proper authorization.

So far, the crackdown has been those companies that failed to start operations in Estonia within six months of receiving the permit.

They were “probably giving out those permits too easily to God knows what companies,” which were then used to “create credibility for some evil schemes,” said Andre Nomm, a member of the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority’s management board last year.

After warnings from supervisors about the increase in issuance since 2018, parliament has also been enacting stricter licensing rules.

Now, more than half of the remaining 900 cryptocurrencies risk losing their licenses if they have no operations in Estonia.

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Author: AnTy

Counting Down the Final Days for Crypto Exchanges and Wallets to Set in Motion FATF’s Travel Rule

  • The FATF 24th Meeting will be to analyze the adoption of the Travel rule by member states in VASPs in their jurisdictions.
  • Most of the member states are facing compliance crunches as industry expert estimates only 10% have rolled out effective steps.

The Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) members have an impending 24th June meeting. They will be scrutinizing how well the ‘travel rule’ has been discharged to the various Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP).

Travel Rule

In June 2019, the FATF updated guidelines that essentially covered the banking sector and other traditional financial systems. They extended the travel rule to now cover crypto exchanges and wallet providers amongst other VASPs. They would now be required to meet the same information exchange guidelines as other financial institutions when ownership of the virtual assets changed.

The travel rule was formulated to counter AML and CTF practices. It obligates financial institutions to improve their KYC protocols by ensuring collection and information sharing by requesting names, possible addresses, and account numbers to establish the parties involved in the respective transactions. This would create an audit trail, hence cracking down on criminal fronts leveraging the Virtual Assets infrastructure.

Shortly after presenting the new amendments to the travel rule, the FATF gave their member countries a year to enforce the VASPs in their jurisdictions. They would then hold a meeting to analyze steps and measures taken to align with the new standards. Although the guidelines might not be binding, the organization has warned that members not conforming with the standards might be kicked out of the body.

Countries Grappling With Compliance

CoolBitX CEO Michael Ou has offered insight into how various countries were fairing so far in the adoption of the new guidelines. Remarking that with close to two hundred member states, only 20 of them had tweaked their regulations to include the new travel rule amendments.

The remainder of the nations were on course with implementation but not fully there yet. His company is working with regulators to develop tech that will bolster compliance with the Travel Rule. They recently released their version of a solution dubbed Sygna Bridge to solve compliance woes.

He anticipates that the meeting will help the VASPs set actual deadlines for compliance with FATF standards. However, other analysts in the industry don’t share the same opinion. Siân Jones XReg Consulting expects that it would take considerably longer before all the member states achieve full compliance.

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Author: Lujan Odera

DeFi Startup Eidoo Partners With Contis To Launch Visa Crypto Card For EU, and UK Users

Eidoo, a Swiss-based Defi startup has partnered with Europe’s principal Visa member Contis to offer Visa crypto debit cards in Europe and the United Kingdom.

The new Visa crypto debit card would support Bitcoin and Ethereum while utilizing regulated stablecoins to offer crypto-to-fiat conversion to negate the volatility factor associated with crypto assets. The card would also allow for the storage of fiat and, since it would be targeting the customers of the UK and Europe, the card would support pound and euro.

Eidoo got the nod from Visa for issuing crypto debit cards on May 25th, allowing for almost 40 million Visa merchants to accept crypto in the form of stablecoins and derived fiat currencies.

Contis, the principal European Visa member, played a key role in enabling the crypto debit card as it holds the e-money license. The firm would also be responsible for the issuance of these non-custodial crypto debit cards where the users would have complete control over there crypto assets, as these cards would be connected to non-custodial Eidoo wallets. Thomas Bertani, CEO of Eidoo, said:

“Everyone is anticipating the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, yet there are few solutions which make these digital currencies practical or useful in our daily lives. We know the key is to bring together the worlds of traditional and decentralized finance; the Eidoo Card is that bridge between these two worlds.”

How Would the Non-Custodial Crypto Debit Card Work?

The issuance of cards as well as crypto-to-fiat conversion would be handled by Contis, while Eidoo would look into offering decentralized wallet support.

While there are many crypto visa cards in the market, none are decentralized like the one being offered by Eidoo and Contis.

A user with their crypto-assets can convert it into a stablecoin using Defi exchanges such as Uniswap. The stablecoin obtained from the conversion of crypto can later be topped with a 1:1 exchange rate when the crypto card is used at a merchant’s shop.

The conversion of stablecoin would be facilitated by the likes of Moneyfold’s Ethereum-based stablecoins, Moneyfold Euro and Moneyfold GBP.

A user would be required to either stake or burn Eidoo’s native EDO token in order to pre-order the Eidoo crypto debit card. At present, a user is required to burn at least 100 EDO tokens or stake 2500 to pre-order the card. The firm is planning to ship the card orders in a phased manner, the first batch of which would be shipped this summer.

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Author: James W