SEC Settles Enigma’s 2017 $45M ENG Token Sale, Pay $500k Fine and Refund Investors

The ICO project Enigma has settled with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over charges of violating the securities law.

Enigma MPC is a blockchain startup that raised $45 million in a token sale from 2017. The SEC announced on Wednesday the settlement requires Enigma to refund all the investors it harmed by using a claims process, registering its tokens with the SEC as securities, filing reports to the agency and paying a $500,000 penalty fee. Back in 2017, Enigma sold ENG tokens that the SEC deemed as securities.

No Securities Registration Requirements Exemption

As the SEC says, Enigma wasn’t qualified to be exempted from the securities registration requirements. A blog post from the Enigma official website says the company is going to set up very soon the claims process, while the firm’s CEO Guy Zyskind explained how the settlement has been reached after many discussions conducted with the SEC. Here are his words on Enigma’s plans for the future:

“[It] clears the way for our development team to return its full attention and energy to our original and continued vision: building groundbreaking privacy solutions that improve the adoption and usability of decentralized technologies, for the benefit of all.”

Enigma Mainnet Was Just Launched

Zyskind also mentioned how the settlement allows the team working at Enigma to focus on the actual protocol, the company’s mainnet that launched last week included. Ever since it opened, the Enigma mainnet gained over 20 validators, says the company. It’s Cosmos SDK-based and secured by the new coin called Secret (SCRT). At the moment, Enigma is trying to legally swap its Ethereum-built ENG token for the new SCRT token. Here’s exactly what the blog post says about this:

“We are continuing discussions with our legal counsel and regulators to identify an effective means of facilitating a swap that complies with all relevant securities regulations, but for the time being, our team is not able to proceed. We appreciate your patience and will update you as things move forward.”

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Author: Oana Ularu

We Left Facebook Led Libra Association Due Lack Of Transparency: MasterCard CEO

MasterCard’s Chief Executive Officer has said the payment processor abandoned the Libra project, which was led by Facebook after realizing that there were some issues regarding its business model as well as some revolving regulatory compliance.

Ajay Banga, the president and CEO of MasterCard since 2009 recently sat down with the Financial Times and had a candid conversation pertaining to the Libra project. According to Ajay, his attitude towards this project began to weaken when some of the members in this project advanced proposals that would have seen it get linked to Calibra, a proprietary digital wallet.

His problem with this proposal stemmed from the fact that when the idea to develop Libra was first muted, the currency was supposed to be all-inclusive. It was to be accessible to all people across the globe. Banga told the Times that:

“It went from this altruistic idea into their own wallet. I’m like: ‘this doesn’t sound right.’”

Global Financial Inclusion

Banga noted that financial inclusion would imply that governments and other authorities would be in a position to pay its people using a given currency. Once paid, the recipients would be in a position to understand how that currency is used, and would thus be able to use it in their day-to-day lives, e.g., paying for their daily food supplies. He went on to note that:

“If you get paid in Libra [coin]…. which go into Calibras, which go back into pounds to buy rice, I don’t understand how that works”

According to the CEO, the lack of a viable business model also raised some concerns for MasterCard. Based on the proposals being put forward, the proponents of the project had not identified a way in which the Libra Association would start making money after launch, which would then make it profitable.

He noted that when an investor is unable to understand how money is being made, it may end up being made in ways that he or she will not be proud of. Other issues that concerned him was the lack of commitment by the project members to abide by data management, AML, and KYC rules.

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Author: Daniel W

Top Onecoin Ponzi Scheme Recruiters Launch A Clone Called Circle Of Finance (Invicta)

  • OneCoin token Ponzi scam affiliates are in the pipeline to form a new tokenized project, Circle of Finance (Invicta).
  • Two of the top ranking officials in the Onecoin scam, Veselina Valkova and Habib Zahid, are associated with the scam.

In late November, details emerged of the OneCoin Ponzi scheme spinoff, Circle of Finance (Invicta) which sounded a whole lot more like the its predecessor. According to BehindMLM, the company is incorporated under the name TradeInvicta, an Estonian based shell company set up by Heaven Invest and exists in name only, no transactions made through it.

According to general company information from the Estonian authorities, TradeInvicta is registered under Veselina Valkova and Habib Zahid, two of the many Onecoin scammers, who ran away with over $1 billion USD in users funds. Habib is believed to have been a top recruiter in Onecoin scam with Veselina playing a more key role as one of the inner circle members of the founder of Onecoin, Dr. Ruja Ignatova, who has since vanished.

At the launch of the Circle of Finance (Invicta), many of those who followed were convinced the project was a resurrection of the Onecoin scam. However, through their marketing and advertisements, the new entity is branding itself as a completely different platform despite offering the same corny promises Onecoin offered investors.

The new platform promises to offer users a network including forex, network marketing, e-commerce, payment processing and exchange & remittances. Only exchanges were missing from Onecoin’s initial plan.

This is a pretty basic MLM scam that is mainly targeting the Onecoin customers who were scammed earlier and the newbies in the field with an option to cash out on an exchange sound interesting. While the site is yet to be up and running, it is important for cryptocurrency investors to be on the lookout. We will follow up any details arising from the Ponzi as it arises.

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Author: Lujan Odera

OneCoin May Have Used Fake Reviews in Ponzi Scheme – Is Anyone Surprised?

The cryptocurrency project launched by OneCoin which was accused of being a Ponzi scheme by authorities may have used fake reviews on Quora and TrustPilot.

The Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) said in a blog post from Wednesday that the OneCoin campaign was initiated at the same time as its founder’s (Ruja Ignatova) disappearance, after she has had many legal cases brought upon her.

In March 2019, a supposed leaders at OneCoin was arrested for perpetuating a pyramid scheme. At the same time, Ignatova was charged with money laundering, and wire and securities fraud. Lawyer Mark Scott was found guilty of money laundering as well.

OneCoin Reviewed with 5 Stars Many Times in October

Researchers at DFRLab discovered that in October 2019, OneCoin received many 5-star reviews on TrustPilot. Here’s what’s written in the research lab’s blog post:

“Of the 579 reviews for OneCoin on the site, 90 percent were positive. Of the five star ratings, about 400 were published within the span of a single month.”

The researchers also say the bad reviews were practically hidden by the 5-star ones.

The Authenticity of TrustPilot Reviews Can’t Be Determined But…

The DFRLab team couldn’t prove that the reviews aren’t authentic, as the TrustPilot’s interface doesn’t allow to make such a determination. However, the influx of good reviews is abnormal and came at the same time as OneCoin was going through some serious legal problems.

However, when the answered about OneCoin from Quora have been analyzed, there were clear signs of inauthenticity, as the profiles that left answers don’t have pictures, nor bios, and they all have revealed an interest only in OneCoin-focused discussions. The respondents claimed they were experts in the cryptocurrency field, but their answers were restricted to OneCoin’s value and viability. This is what the DFRLab blog post concludes:

“While there was no direct evidence tying these inauthentic profiles and reviews to OneCoin employees or evidence of automated activity on either platform, the profiles and favorable reviews nonetheless served to boost trust for the OneCoin brand as it faced a multibillion-dollar scandal.”

Searches on social media for the names of the respondents turned back no matching results.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Justin Sun’s New ‘Secret’ Project Aiming to Disrupt Netflix & YouTube

  • The latest project won’t have any new token, to be purely based on TRX & BTT
  • PewDiePie live-streams on DLive, mentions BitTorrent and TRON
  • Tron is the 2nd largest Dapp platform, beating EOS
  • But TRX price isn’t showing any excitement
  • Tron founder and CEO Justin Sun is at it again.

This time he is making the announcement of an upcoming secret project for BitTorrent and DLive that according to “conservative forecast” will bring in millions of users and have at least multi-billion benefits not only for BTT but also for TRX ecosystem.

One good thing about this project is that there would be “no new token” and will be using BTT and TRX. It will be “purely” based on Tron and BitTorrent, explained Sun.

In his latest tweet, he said this “secret” project is aiming to disrupt Twitch, Periscope, Netflix, and YouTube.

That’s quite a secret project coming on. The community, however, is divided into two, with one side happy about yet another development while the other side wants Sun to just stop with all his announcements of announcements.

PewDiePie mentions BitTorrent and TRON

Recently, a famous YouTuber PewDiePie, who has 102 million subscribers on YouTube, live-streamed his content on DLive, a blockchain-powered streaming site that is migrating to the TRON network. Just a few days back, in late December, DLive announced its partnership with Tron.

Sun took to Twitter to announce this development on Jan. 10 although PewDiePie has been streaming on the platform for some time now. In his latest video, PewDiePie actually mentioned BitTorrent and TRON, saying Tron has “over 100 million users.”

Tron is the 2nd Largest Dapp Platform

In other news, Tron is the 2nd largest Decentralized Applications (Dapps) platform, as per DappReview, a dapp analyzing platform.

“The number of Dapps has increased dramatically at TRON and has surpassed EOS as the second-largest developer platform,” wrote Sun.

The report states, during H1 2019, casino and high-risk DApps contributed the most to the transactions on the Tron network. But as prices dropped, so did the users’ enthusiasm for speculation, leading to a “continuous decline” in transaction volume.

But TRX Price isn’t Showing any Excitement

When it comes to price, the 11th largest cryptocurrency is currently trading at $0.015, down 0.96% in the past 24 hours, as per Coincodex. In the past seven days, its value has increased by about 8% but is still down 95% from its all-time high of $0.30.

Released on Jan. 31, 2019, BTT is up by 6.21% in the past 24 hours while trading at $ 0.000320 but down 83% from ATH of $ 0.001875.

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Author: AnTy

Central Bank Of The Bahamas to Launch CBDC Pilot Dubbed ‘Project Sand Dollar’ Today

  • The pilot digital currency project of the Bahamas is set to go live in Exuma today.

People who reside in the Exuma island will be able to enroll in the Project Sand Dollar initiated by the Central Bank of the Bahamas. The Bahamian government thinks that giving residents mobile wallets will facilitate future payments on the island chain. The launch has been announced by central bankers on December 24.

The Sand Dollar Dubbed as a Digital Fiat Currency

Bankers wanted to mention the Sand Dollar is not a stablecoin or cryptocurrency, nor that it will compete with the Bahamian Dollar. They named it in the project outline as a “digital fiat currency”, which means a digital version of the currency in use. However, the Bahamas does have a long-term plan to launch a central digital bank currency (CBDC) that will also be called Sand Dollar and link businesses with domestic residents in a 100% digital payment infrastructure. This means people will be able to pay retailers via QR codes linked to their wallets, and banks will move funds digitally. By doing this, the Central Bank of the Bahamas is looking to cut costs for printing currency and transactions while improving the process of financial inclusion.

The Sand Dollar Kept under Restrictive Limits

At the moment, the Sand Dollar is facing many governmental restrictive limits. For example, businesses can’t have more than $1 million kept in their digital wallets. Besides, they can’t make transactions that are over one-eighth of their yearly business through wallets, in a month. Individuals have a $500 limit that can be increased through their accounts’ “enhanced due diligence”. As the outline says, the limits will be varied by the Central Bank with time, as necessary.

The Bahamas launching a retail-based digital currency comes as many governments are looking to launch their own CBDC schemes. For example, the Swedish Riksbank is working on the E-krona, whereas China is about to launch a CBDC in 2020.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Despite A 2020 Launch, Facebook’s Libra Has No Solid Strategy To Be Rolled Out

According to a member of the board responsible to oversee the Libra project, a solid strategy is yet to be developed on how and where the Libra cryptocurrency will be launched in the coming year, Reuters reports.

Patrick Ellis who is a board member of the Libra Association which is tasked to issue as well as govern the operations of the virtual currency, revealed that the launching of the Libra crypto, anticipated to be in June, will depend on the outcome of the negotiations with the regulators.

Ellis stated that currently there was no set strategy either for the markets as well as the cryptocurrency itself on how it will be launched.

The Libra project has rattled the financial regulators and authorities from across the world due to the prospect that it could be used by Facebook’s 2.4 billion users. The authorities are nervous that it has the capacity to change the world’s financial landscape.

The Libra project which is led by Facebook among other notable firms was unveiled in June this year. Since its inception, the project has faced numerous challenges from policy makers across the world which could lead to a delay in its launching.

Ellis stated that it was still too early for the board to come up with an elaborate strategy as they still have lots of issues to work out with the regulators before they can come up with a fine launching strategy.

The Libra project has faced various hurdles led by the US Congress who are questioning how the users data will be handled and whether it will be safe following the recent controversies that have rocked Facebook. The Congress has urged for a halt of the project until all the raised issues are resolved conclusively. On Wednesday Lael Brainard, Fed Governor, added the latest voice against the project stating that it was facing crucial legal as well as regulatory challenges. Brainard also stated that the concept of the stablecoin is still unclear and unproven.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

DigixDAO Offers DGD Token Holders The Option To Dissolve The $56 Million ETH Treasury

DigixDAO, a blockchain project which tokenizes gold on the Ethereum platform with the DGD token, made headlines on the 29th of November when they addressed the community saying they would offer an option to its token holders to either completely liquidate the treasury or keep making grants unless the project sees some headway. Interestingly, right after the announcement, the price of the native token DGD has seen a significant bump. DGD was trading at around $10 mark on 29th and currently, it has reached $19.

The blog post was written by the firm’s CEO Kai Cheng Chng, who noted that the community from now on will be given the option to vote whether they want to keep DAO’s Ethereum treasury intact.

Digix conducted its ICO in 2016 and collected around 466,648 ETH in public sales which were worth the value of around $6 million to $7 million. Cheng mentioned that they had 386,000 ETH in their treasury but DGD token’s market cap is a mere $39 million while if we calculate the value of the ETH held in the treasury it comes to around $58 million.

Should All ICOs Offer a Token Buyback Option?

The decision by Digix has prompted a discussion in the decentralized space on whether more projects should offer a similar exit plan for unsatisfied investors. The discussion seems legit in the light of the fact that a significant majority of projects which raised 100s of millions of dollars have either turned out to be a Ponzi scheme or they are not able to make any headway in terms of development on the project.

Ryan Zurrer, an investor himself welcomed the idea and believed that more people should call out such projects who are sitting on millions of investors’ capital without doing much with it. Nic Carter from Castle Island Ventures agree with Zurrer and called the move from Digix quite mature.

Ricky Li from Autonomy, a token trading company, however, does not agree with Zurrer’s point of view and explained that most of the ICOs raise capital to develop their project and bring real-world value, so it’s highly unlikely they would be keen on buying back their token using the treasury holdings. He said,

“ICOs are not really keen on buying back the tokens with their treasury holdings since they raise money to develop, not speculate on the token price,”

Many others like Mona El-Isa, CEO of Avantgarde Finance were undecided whether it was a good move or not. El-Isa explained why the same parameter cannot be used for every project and said,

“It’s hard to generalize on whether this would be a good or bad thing for space as each situation has its own unique characteristics. Some of these tokens will become very interesting token-activist opportunities. It’s a little bit surprising that we haven’t seen much of that yet.”

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Author: Hank Klinger

Lisk’s Lightcurve Blockchain Studio To Layoff 40% Its Workforce To Reduce Burn Rate

The blockchain project Lightcurve has made the decision to lay off 40 percent of its employees in order to enable moving forward in the market. It is worth mentioning that Lightcurve is part of the open-source platform Lisk, which is powered by a cryptocurrency called LSK and is among the top 100 largest cryptos in the space.

Lisk’s Lightcurve Blockchain Project Reduces Its Staff

Volatility in the cryptocurrency market continues to show its effects on different crypto and blockchain projects. The CEO and co-founder of Lisk, Max Kordek, said on Discord that Lightcurve had to fire 21 employees considering they had to reduce costs. The company had 53 employees that will now become 32.

They will not only help in reducing costs but they will also be focusing on keeping talent in the research and backend development sectors. Meanwhile, frontend development, marketing, and other operations would be downsized.

This staff reduction would also allow the company to become ‘more agile,’ considering a large degree of the funds were going to human resources. Lightcurve is currently based in Berlin, Germany, and the remaining employees will continue with their jobs at the firm.

This is not the first time that a blockchain and a crypto-related company decides to reduce its number of employees. Circle, for example, informed back in May this year that they were reducing staff by 10 percent. This represented 30 employees at that time.

Furthermore, the blockchain firm ConsenSys decided at the end of 2018 that they were reducing the number of employees to rebalance their priorities. After this lay off of around 10% of its staff, the company announced a new roadmap for ConsenSys and a change in its business strategy. And just recently they are parting ways with operations in India and the Philippines.

Chainalysis is another firm that decided to lay off 20% of its workforce to remain profitable while operating in the market. Huobi Global laid off Australian employees back in Feb.

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Author: Carl T

Launch A Real-Time Payments System Before Libra, FTC Commissioner Tells Federal Reserve

According to FTC Commissioner, the impending Facebook led Libra project should be reason enough for the US Federal Reserve to develop its own instantaneous payments system, CoinDesk reports.

Rohit Chopra, a sitting commissioner of the US Federal Trade Commission, in a letter to the Federal Reserve’s board, expressed his support for the recently mooted FedNow Service which is said to be an instantaneous payment system that will operate 24/7.

In the letter, Chopra urged the Fed to move with speed and implement the proposal before other private systems like Libra are launched. Chopra joined the bandwagon of senior government officials who have reservations about Libra. The commissioner alluded that Facebook is trying to become a shadow worldwide central bank and this should not be taken lightly by the regulators. He explained that the oversight role of the Fed was at danger if the project is allowed to launch in its current form where details are still scanty.

Chopra stated that he was supporting the stands taken by both the Fed chair and the governor on Libra who have argued that the crypto project poses risks to the global financial sector.

The Commissioner opined that coming up with a payments system that is controlled by a government agency like the Fed was the best option. He explained that without considering whether or not the Libra project will take off or not, the intervention by the Fed with the FedNow Service was timely.

The FTC commissioner explained that the market was ready for instantaneous payment solutions citing the frustrations brought about by the high banking fees. He added that the current real-time technologies are spreading at a fast rate and it was time the Fed took advantage of the market dynamics.

According to Cointelegraph, the Federal Reserve has been working on the FedNow platform since last year but the details are still scanty as the public came to know about it in August this year. The project is expected to be launched in 2024 and it is unclear whether it will be built on blockchain technology.

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Author: Joseph Kibe