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

After Shutting Down Ahead of EU’s 5AMLD, BottlePay’s Set to Relaunch New Lightning Payment App

BottlePay, a social payment app that choose to shut down its operation in December of 2019 amid regulatory concerns, is ready for a relaunch with a new Lightning Payment App. The firm has restructured its products and services to comply with Europe’s 5th anti-money laundering directive (AMLD5). The new payment app also offers an exchange wallet with social features on Reddit, Twitter, and Discord and set for a beta launch in August.

Some of the features of the new payment app include scheduled payments to buy more bitcoin, which is quite similar to Square’s Cash App. However, this feature would be first rolled out in Europe. Users would also have the option to opt for a custodial or non-custodial wallet.

Pete Cheyne, a co-founder of BottlePay, said, “Lightning works in the background, without users having to manage channels.” Adding,

“There will be a small fee for exchanging between fiat and bitcoin, and vice versa. … There will also be tiers because people are interested in our app for different use cases.”

Mark Webster, CEO of BottlePay, revealed that his team of 11 employees was funded continuously by their angel investors, who were responsible for trading equity worth $2 million in 2019. He explained that the firm has no immediate plans to support any token. Webster also revealed his plans for expanding his workforce up to 35 people by 2021.

Webster went on to reveal that most of the recent hiring has been in the legal and marketing department, which helped them in restructuring their product. He said,

“I think Lightning is at the core of the strategy. As consumer demand increases, we can open more channels. You can store a fiat balance, Scan a Lightning code, and pay that from your pound or euro balance.”

The scheduled beta launch in August will be limited to the European citizens. Still, Webster said that he hopes to expand the reach of his application in the United States and hopes to launch a Telegram integration by 2021.

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Author: Hank Klinger

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

Cryptocurrency Payment Processor BitPay Finally Announces Support for SegWit

Bitpay, the crypto payment processing giant, has finally integrated the segregated witness (SegWit) protocol, a second layer scalable solution to make bitcoin processing cheaper. The Segwit integration is currently optional for bitcoin wallet users on BitPay. However, the firm plans to make it a default feature by the year-end.

SegWit was first proposed by Pieter Wuille, a bitcoin core developer in 2015. The SegWit protocol aimed to free up block space on Bitcoin blockchain without increasing the block size.

SegWit also eliminated a transaction signature vulnerability, which allowed miscreants to manipulate transaction signatures. On the other hand, BitPay is one of the largest crypto processors and currently processes around $1 billion worth of crypto transactions every year.

BitPay had earlier passed on an opportunity to integrate SegWit on its platform almost three years back and instead opted for another protocol called SegWit2x. SegWit2x implemented segWit itself, but at the same time, it also increased the block size from 1MB to 2 MB.

The Bitcoin community was divided over the use of the two protocols, creating conflict in the community over the size of the Bitcoin block, and many believe this also led to the creation of Bitcoin Cash Network.

However, SegWit2x failed to capture on the industry support, and as of today, 63% of all bitcoin transactions are processed using SegWit.

BitPay’s Decision Surprises Many

BitPay’s staunch support for an alternative second-layer protocol over SegWit has made many wonder what changed the minds of its decision-makers.

Sean Rolland, BitPay director of the product, claimed that now is the perfect time to introduce SegWit to its users as it decreases the cost of transactions by up to 30%, and the firm believes it would reduce the fee by 5%-10% with a new update.

Bitcoin was created to provide an alternate easy to use financial tool which offered lightning-fast transaction speeds at minimal transaction cost.

However, as bitcoin’s popularity grew, the network started to show signs of fatigue as it was unable to handle the transaction volume, making it slow, complicated, and costly to use. This was when developers came up with an off-chain second layer solution in the form of the Lightning Network and SegWit.

The lightning network showed a lot of promise. Still, even after years into development, the LN protocol seems to have more complexities than it was invented to resolve. Thus, SegWit became a popular choice.

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Author: Lillian Peter

BTCPay Server Update Streamlines Refund Process; Adds Notification for Payment Status

The open-source bitcoin payment server BTCPay Server introduced a new system update called Update 1.0.5 on Friday. The updated aim is to ease the interaction between the server and the merchant. This update would make it easier for the merchants to manage their crypto transactions on their website.

The latest update brings a set of new features, including notifications, pull payment, and refunds, along with a few upgrades to the wallet. The BTCPay Server was launched back in 2017 and helped merchants in processing their bitcoin transactions. It also kept all the invoices organized for the owner. The server also has a native wallet that can be used to store bitcoins.

The most talked-about feature of the update is the refund, which streamlines the otherwise quite cluttered process of re-issuing of coins. The update feature would allow merchants to decide a certain amount of bitcoin that can be pulled from the escrow. Before the update, merchants had to manually authorize the payment, where the sender and receiver had no common platform to connect onto, which made the process complex and challenging.

With the new update, merchants won’t have to send and receive numerous messages as the process is automated, where the refund is generated via invoices without the need for any formal communication between the two parties.

The other notable feature is notifications, which comes with an API integration option and allows merchants to monitor their payment status, whether it is confirmed or not. It would also include the status of partial payment and many other similar payments related notifications. All of these will be managed through a dedicated notification page.

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Author: James W

Wirecard Collapses With $3.7 Billion of Debt, Leaving Crypto-Card Holders in Limbo

  • German Payment Processor, Wirecard, Collapses with £3bn worth of debt
  • The news comes as Ernst and Young refused to sign off on its payment records from 2019.

From its Chief Executive being arrested on suspicion of market manipulation to the horrific admission to the regulatory body, Ernst and Young (EY), that £1.7bn of its case “probably did not exist.” The German payment processor and Fintech, Wirecard, has collapsed, leaving many holders of its associated Crypto Card in limbo.

Within Munich’s court, the company stated that it would be filing, citing its “impending insolvency and over-indebtedness.” According to recent statements by both EY and Wirecard, this would lead to the 5,300 employees.

One of the interesting, yet disconcerting features of this collapse is that Ernst and Young, the corporate services and auditor, failed to press Wirecard for its financial history. An activity that took place over three years.

In addition to the collapse of Wirecard, its UK-based subsidiary, Wirecard Card Solutions, has been ordered to cease operations by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) the same day. Consequently, all cards issued by Wirecard have been deactivated, including those belonging to crypto services like Crypto.com, and TenX.

It proved to be a pretty embarrassing situation for both companies; however, tenuous links to Wirecard might be. For example, TenX and Crypto.com remained silent with the announcement by Wirecard of nearly £3bn in missing assets.

Both companies, however, have been outspoken is in their support of affected customers, however. Crypto.com’s CEO, Kris Marszalek, has since announced that cardholders will be 100% reimbursed by the company within 48 hours.

TenX has since posted that customers will not see their assets affected by the recent collapse of Wirecard; reiterating that existing assets are safe, while also stating that it is currently working on getting their cards up and operational again:

“Please be reassured that all customer funds are safe and remain accessible as the TenX Wallet is unaffected…The TenX team is working to re-enable the affected services as soon as we can. We apologize for the disruption and will continue to provide updates to you whenever we have them.”

With the ongoing developments involving Wirecard, Crypto.com’s Kris Marszalek has further added that it is also seeking alternative card providers to bring its card services up once again. This is according to a blog post the company provided recently.

“Separately, we’re working on transferring the card program to a new provider, so that we can resume the issuing of cards in the UK and Europe and allow existing and new customers to benefit from our card program again.”

However, further requests for comment regarding the collapse or activities of Wirecard have not been met with comment.

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Author: James Fox

Venezuelan Government Exploring Bitcoin Payment Option for Passport Renewal Services

  • Venezuelan government via immigration authority SAIME might avail BTC payment options for passport application and renewal as indicated by recent ‘test-run’ as the SAIME website extended the option briefly before disabling it.
  • The country seeks to embrace cryptocurrencies to mitigate sanctions as its national fiat’s value is experiencing hyperinflation and has plummeted to almost zero.

News has emerged that soon Venezuelans shall be able to apply for their passports via Bitcoin. This was first revealed by a Reddit post showing a BTC payment option available for passport application on the Administrative Identification, Migration, and Alien Services (SAIME) official website.

The information was further collaborated by twitter users who confirmed that immigration watchdog SAIME had extended the BTC payment option for passport application and renewals. There is also an indication that they might even extend support to Visa and MasterCard as it was marked coming soon. This might have been brought about by economic sanctions placed by the US. The other alternatives of paying for the service are by using their fiat currency, the Bolivar, or leverage their state-backed crypto, Petro.

Inaccessible to Venezuelan Residents

However, the option wasn’t available to residents of Venezuela. This was confirmed by the owner of the original post, who disclosed that he was unable to complete the transaction hours after the initial post. Users in other countries such as Brazil were able to utilize the option which has since vanished from the site indicating that the government was simply conducting test runs.

Huge appetite for crypto

Notably, Venezuela has been seen to increase its crypto uptake with the sanctions well underway. With banking halls inaccessible indefinitely due to global Covid-19 pandemic, the Venezuelan based witnesses have noted a surge in P2P BTC transactions. Their legislature has recently amended government policies offering the residents fuel at subsidized prices. The residents can now make gas payments with their national crypto petro, alongside their fiat currency.

With the national fiat facing hyperinflation now almost valueless, they have turned to crypto for cross border remittances. Valiu, a Colombia based startup, has availed a BTC backed crypto dollar. Although tests are still underway for the synthetic dollar, they have partnered with Latin food delivery firm, Rappi, as they anticipate tremendous market response on launch.

There has also been mention of government holding BTC and Ethereum as part of their international reserves. The country’s main revenue generator Petroleos de Venezuela SA, is looking for ways to transfer BTC and ETH to the central bank to fulfill their financial obligations.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Signature Bank Uses Fireblocks to Launch Blockchain-Based Payment Platform, Signet

Signature, a New-York based commercial bank, has launched its blockchain-based digital payment platform, called Signet, on Fireblocks network. This integration also makes Signature the first bank to debut its digital payment platform on the Fireblock network.

Fireblocks is an enterprise-grade blockchain platform known for facilitating the storage, moving, and issuance of digital assets and helping traditional institutions like banks, exchanges, and custodians to scale their digital asset infrastructures. However, Signature is the first bank to integrate with the blockchain scaling platform.

Michael Shaulov, Chief Executive Officer of Fireblocks, commented on their recent association with Signature bank and said:

“Fireblocks and Signature Bank share the same core philosophy when it comes to ensuring the accessibility and security of customer assets 24/7/365. Naturally, Signature Bank is a vital partner for us as we continue to grow the Fireblocks Network.”

Signet is a tokenized representation of the US Dollar made to facilitate instant settlements. The commercial bank also released an Application Program Interface (API) for Signet, which can be easily integrated by its clients and banks in their respective systems and access full transactional capabilities.

The API also helps the bank clients to settle the transaction in real-time and low cost. Signature Bank clients and Signet users can now use Fireblocks to initiate their transactions using the API.

President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph DePaolo, of Signature Bank, commented on their Fireblocks integration:

“The integration with Fireblocks will offer an enhanced service for our clients. With this latest banking technology innovation, Signature Bank remains at the forefront as we advance our Signet product and its capabilities.

As the digital needs of our clients continue to evolve and the broader adoption of asset tokenization increases, Signet APIs are yet another example of how we continuously strive to help our clients deliver better business performance and improve their operations,”

Signet was launched back in January 2019 and was the only platform of its kind to be approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Online Payment Giant, PayPal, Kick-Starts Research Into Buying & Selling Crypto

The international payment service, Paypal, has announced plans for a direct sales solution of cryptocurrency for its more than 325 million users.

This report is according to a few people that are familiar with Paypal’s activity. For the moment, Paypal is primarily known as an alternative payment provider worldwide, allowing users to make and take payments globally. Paypal’s previous relationship with cryptocurrencies offers users a means of withdrawing funds from crypto exchanges like Coinbase.

According to one of the individuals familiar with this activity, Paypal’s crypto service would allow users to buy and sell crypto directly through its platform. The source goes on to explain how Paypal would make use of a dedicated soft wallet.

While this announcement comes with a lot of speculation, it remains unclear as to how many, or even what cryptocurrencies would be available for users.

The timeline for development may be shorter than we think, another source claims. The user confirmed that Paypal would be looking at other exchanges for sourcing liquidity as well as crypto assets. All of this currently has a timeline of fewer than three months.

At this moment in time, Paypal has refused to comment. Major exchanges like Coinbase and Bitstamp also join the international payments provider in declining to comment.

While Paypal has had little direct experience with crypto-assets, it has had a long working relationship with the California-based Coinbase. For example, Paypal worked with Coinbase to offer instant fiat withdrawals back in 2018 for customers in the United States. In 2019, this was followed by the expansion of these withdrawals to both the European Union and Canada.

Crypto Trading and Fintech – A Winning Combination

While the market is experiencing some understandable uncertainty, fintech companies that expand into the crypto space are capitalizing well. For example, Jack Dorsey’s Square, the digital payments provider, introduced support Bitcoin purchases in mid-2018. As a result of this, Square’s Cash App reported more than $305 million in new revenues from BTC.

Revolut, meanwhile, rolled out support for crypto-assets off the back of a partnership with Bitstamp back in 2017. This was followed up by a successful raising of $500 million in seed capital in February this year – bringing its total market valuation to $5.5bn. Last, but not least is Robinhood, which was previously tipped to be behind the boom in equities day trading. Robinhood began offering access to cryptocurrencies back in February 2018.

What these companies do prove conclusively, and consistently, is that introducing access to cryptocurrencies is an effective way of bolstering user numbers, and earning some additional popularity.

Paypal is Staffing up

Paypal has begun 2020 on a very bullish note with a large number of new job openings. These are seen as a strong ramp-up for its brand new Blockchain Research Group. The giveaway comes from the posting of eight engineering positions across San Jose in California and Singapore.

In the wake of Facebook’s turbulent and ill-fated venture with Libra last year, and Paypal’s short-lived partnership with it, the company appears to be going its own way on blockchain and cryptos.

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Author: James Fox

Crypto Debit Card Issuer Wiredcard Missing $2 Billion, No Fiat or Crypto Funds at Risk

German payment processor Wirecard which issues debit cards of Crypto.com has its share plunging more than 60% after the company said on Thursday that its auditor Ernst & Young can’t find evidence for €1.9 billion euros (US$2.1 billion) in cash on its balance sheet. Markus Braun, Wirecard chief executive, in a statement said,

“Previously issued confirmations by the banks were no longer recognized by the auditor. All parties involved are endeavoring to clarify the matter as quickly as possible.”

“It is currently unclear whether fraudulent transactions to the detriment of Wirecard AG have occurred.”

Source: TradingView

This is, however, just the latest twist as back in October, Wirecard staff reportedly conspired to fraudulently inflate sales and profits at subsidiaries. The company denied the charges and after a special investigation, KPMG said it couldn’t prove the revenue of its third-party acquiring business. Barry Norris, manager of the Argonaut Absolute Return Fund said,

“During our first-quarter conference call we previously described the company as ‘having more red flags than you would see at a communist rally.’”

Germany’s stock market regulator is separately investigating the company CEO who held 7% of the stock making him the largest shareholder, over insider trading allegations.

Crypto Connection

Wirecard Card Solution, the wholly owned subsidiary of Wirecard issues the MCO Visa Card of Crypto.com and Visa Debit Card of TenX.

After the news broke out, Kris Marszalek, chief executive of Crypto.com clarified that the debit cards issued by the company are “fully prefunded” and Wirecard doesn’t have custody of any cryptos held by Crypto.com. Marszalek said,

“These client fiat funds are held by an EMI institution regulated by UK FCA in segregated client accounts. The funds are held at another bank (not Wirecard) as required by the FCA.”

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Author: AnTy