4th State Issues an Emergency Cease and Desist Order Against Crypto Lender Celsius Network

4th State Issues an Emergency Cease and Desist Order Against Crypto Lender Celsius Network

Cryptocurrency lending platform Celsius Network has now received an emergency cease and desist order from Kentucky’s securities regulator over its “Earn Interest Accounts.”

On Thursday, Kentucky joined three other states, including Alabama, New Jersey, and Texas, that last week took similar actions.

The Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions has ordered the company to stop offering its interest-paying accounts in the state, calling the accounts “an unregulated market that represents an unprecedented risk to consumers.”

In its order, the regulator said, Celsius offers unregistered securities to its customers, which is in violation of state law. It further said that the company didn’t sufficiently disclose to customers what it did with their deposits.

The regulator also has issues with the language regarding interest earned on certain crypto accounts that Celsius calls “rewards” or a “financing fee.”

According to the order, Celsius can either request an emergency hearing to challenge the decision or appeal it in court.

Last week, in a live-streamed ask-me-anything (AMA), Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky dismissed the company’s standoff with state watchdogs, saying he welcomes the chance to educate the US regulators.

“Any regulator who wants to learn more about what we do: we collaborate, cooperate and we don’t see any issues with that – the opposite.”

Mashinsky further said that regulators “should be cheering” for crypto lending service providers because “we’re effectively helping redistribute wealth and provide opportunity for everybody, not just the 1%,” before commenting, “regulators are here to protect consumers.”

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Author: AnTy

Lake County Illinois Treasurer Accepts Campaign Contributions in Multiple Cryptocurrencies

In the midwest state of Illinois, Lake County Treasurer has become one of the first political candidates to accept digital currency, according to the local publication.

Holly Kim, a Democrat running for reelection next year, received a $3 donation in Litecoin (LTC), with a promise of more to come later.

Kim also accepts the popular meme coin, Dogecoin, which has surged 4,717% YTD in value and is currently trading at $0.273.

After consulting with the election board to include an option for crypto donations, Kim has started accepting Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and stablecoin DAI besides Dogecoin (DOGE) and Litecoin (LTC).

“I believe you’ll probably find crypto enthusiasts will support candidacies of government officials who see the potential of blockchain technology as something that’s moving forward,” said Mark Tan, founder of Lake Forest-based investment management firm T Capital Coin, who sent a fraction of a single LTC, to test the donation system works as planned. “(Crypto donors) are more supportive and open-minded,” he added.

FTX CEO Sam Bankman Fried actually made the second-biggest contribution of $5.2 million to the Biden campaign. After the recent debacle with the controversial infrastructure bill containing a crypto tax provision in the Senate, the crypto community is further motivated to spend their riches on supporting those political candidates who support the crypto industry.

Getting Things Right

The election board is treating crypto donations like in-kind donations of corporate stock instead of cash.

Kim, who is also a crypto believer, plans to hold onto the donations in expectation of a rise in their value, and “if worse comes to worst, we can always convert it (to dollars),” she said.

The value of crypto assets is established in USD on the day they’re donated for the purpose of staying within campaign contribution limits, said Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections.

In order to make crypto donations, the donor has to provide their name, address, and occupation, just as with traditional contributions.

“Since we’re trailblazing here, I want to be sure we’re good ambassadors.”

“This could reflect how crypto donations are received in the future, so we want to be sure we do everything right.”

The election board can also investigate if it believes crypto donations are being used to subvert reporting requirements, Dietrich said. But Kent Redfield, a campaign finance expert and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said the rules already allow a level of opaqueness. People can shield their identities by donating to nonprofits then contributing to political action committees (PACs).

A New Frontier

By accepting cryptocurrency for campaign donations, Kim said it is a way to connect with tech-savvy people who might be new to political donations.

“It seems to be how people want to give,” she said. “I feel like it’s a new frontier.”

Crypto donations have been allowed by the Federal Election Commission since 2014, but few politicians have taken advantage of that so far.

A couple of months back in June, the campaign arm of the Republican House reportedly started accepting contributions in crypto in collaboration with crypto payment processor BitPay.

Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur, and Democratic presidential candidate, actually made digital currencies an important part of the campaign last year and shared his plans to make New York a hub for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

Aaron Merreighn, a Conservative Party candidate for lieutenant governor, might be the first one in Illinois to receive a Bitcoin contribution in 2018, which was never spent, and was returned to the donor at the campaign’s conclusion, said Rick Crosley, a DuPage County-based political consultant who was the treasurer on that campaign and believes crypto has several advantages that will bring it in the political mainstream.

“The speed and efficiency of this financial instrument will allow a candidate to do much more.”

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Author: AnTy

5th State Issues a Warning Against BlockFi as the Crypto Lender Engages with Regulators

5th State Issues a Warning Against BlockFi as the Crypto Lender Engages with Regulators

Crypto lender BlockFi has received another warning, and this time it’s from Kentucky.

The cryptocurrency trading and financial services provider received an order from the Division of Securities of the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions (KDFI) on Friday regarding the state’s BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) operations.

According to the order, BlockFi is prohibited from soliciting or offering any securities in the state.

BlockFi meanwhile maintains that BIA is lawful and appropriate for crypto market participants.

However, effective immediately, the firm will stop accepting new BIA clients residing in KY. This does not affect its existing clients, who will continue to access the products, services, and assets on the BlockFi platform. BlockFi said in a statement,

“BlockFi has been actively engaging with multiple regulators. We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect consumers’ rights to earn interest on their crypto assets.”

This month, BlockFi also received the same prohibitive orders from New Jersey, Texas, Vermont, and Alabama, where they have stopped accepting new customers and continue to be in active dialogue with regulators regarding its Interest Account.

This week, meanwhile, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities (NJ BOS) postponed the effective date of its order to Sept. 2, 2021, following their discussion. Texas securities regulators have also allowed the company to provide evidence to support its claims and have a hearing scheduled for early October.

Despite all the regulatory pushback, the company is reportedly still pursuing a $500 million Series E funding round, that too ahead of a possible public offering.

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Author: AnTy

Nebraska Approves Bill Allowing Banks Offer Crypto Services

The Nebraska state legislature has approved a bill that would allow banks in the state to offer cryptocurrency services to customers.

Nebraska’s Crypto Banking Charter Bill

Nebraska state senators have voted for the bill that would allow banks to register as cryptocurrency depositories and offer crypto trading services to customers.

The bill passed with near-unanimous approval as 39 lawmakers voted to advance the bill to enrollment and initial review, with only one in disagreement.

Senator Mike Flood first introduced the bill in January, intending to adopt the Nebraska Financial Innovation Act to create digital asset depository institutions while providing for charter, operation, supervision, and regulation of such institutions.

According to Senator Flood, Nebraska had an opportunity to become an early adopter of cryptocurrencies which could help it benefit from finance and technology jobs.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only for my district but the state of Nebraska,” he said.

Flood had introduced the bill alongside another also focused on crypto banking. The second, Legislative Bill 648, contains the “Transactions in Digital Assets Act,” which proposes a set of rules for Nebraska banks looking to hold cryptocurrencies or offer custodial services. However, this bill is yet to be adopted.

Nebraska Follows Wyoming’s Footsteps

This move by Nebraska follows similar legislation enacted by the state of Wyoming, thereby making it the second state in the US to set up a formal charter for crypto-powered banks.

Wyoming started its crypto-friendly constitutions when it passed its Digital Asset Law on February 26, 2019, and put into effect on July 1, 2019.

Wyoming went on to approve Kraken as its first crypto bank in September 2020. Kraken was granted the first special-purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter in Wyoming after the banking board approved the application.

After Kraken, another SPDI charter was approved for Avanti by the Wyoming State Banking Board, making it the second chartered bank in the state in 2020.

Nebraska is not the only state that has followed Wyoming’s lead.

Some months back, Texas had attempted to follow in Wyoming’s footsteps after Representative Tan Parker introduced the Texas UCC amendment bill, which aims to recognize virtual currencies under commercial law. This bill was supposed to help define crypto regulation clarity in the state but it did not pass due to lingering challenges.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

The State of Wyoming Appropriates $4M to Staking Program for At Least 3 Cryptocurrencies

The State of Wyoming Appropriates $4M to Staking Program for At Least 3 Cryptocurrencies

The state of Wyoming continues to drive cryptocurrency adoption, and the latest development in the area is creating a cryptocurrency staking program, advisory council, and appropriating $4 million towards it.

As per the latest Bill HB0001 regarding the increasing or decreasing the existing appropriations for the operation of state government for the period of July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2022, the University of Wyoming Cryptocurrency Staking Program has been introduced.

The bill appropriates four million dollars ($4,000,000) from the strategic investments and projects account to the University of Wyoming to operate and maintain nodes and staking pools for at least three publicly tradable cryptocurrencies.

Interestingly, the second-largest cryptocurrency Ethereum is currently underway to be fully shifted from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS), and already 4,026,082 ETH, worth $10.68 million, have been deposited in ETH 2.0 for staking.

The university has to provide public access to the staking pools and nodes and facilitate the operation of the blockchains.

All the fees and revenues generated from this operation will cover any costs of operation and administration. Any excess shall be deposited in the strategic investments and projects that will be used to support blockchain programs and activities at the university and community colleges in the state.

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Author: AnTy

Golden State Warriors Launches an NFT Collection, Accepting Only ETH as Payment

Golden State Warriors Launches an NFT Collection, Accepting Only ETH as Payment

The Golden State Warriors have become the first professional sports team to launch an NFT collection.

The officially licensed digital collection called Golden State Warriors Legacy NFT Collection commemorates the team’s six NBA championships and includes digital collectibles of their most iconic games in franchise history.

A portion of all proceeds from the auction, which is currently live, will go to Warriors Community Foundation. The auction ends on Sunday, May 2, at 8 p.m. PDT.

The auction is happening on OpenSea and accepts only the cryptocurrency ETH as payment.

The collection consists of two special series minted on the blockchain, the Warriors Championship Ring NFTs and the Commemorative Ticket Stub NFTs designed by artist Black Madre.

Its Championship Ring NFTs collection features six of them, with those from 1947, 1956, and 1975 having 25 editions each while the latest ones from 2015, 2017, and 2018 have 50 editions each, along with a 1-of-1 Warriors Six-Time NBA Champion Ring.

“The digital collectibles excitement is palpable,” said Warriors Chief Revenue Officer Brandon Schneider. “We see NFTs and digitization of our business as a mainstay to engage our fans around the world.”

Meanwhile, its Ticket Stub NFTs are limited to 10 editions, each with a special edition combining 75 years of historical moments into a 1-of-1 ticket stub NFT.

While the mainstream world is enjoying the NFT mania, in the crypto world as well, the leading crypto exchange Binance will launch its very own NFT marketplace.

To be launched in June, Binance NFT will involve a “Premium Event” that will have the most sought-after collaborations and a “Trading Market” to allow everyday users to easily create NFTs at a minimal cost. Helen Hai, Head of Binance NFT said,

“Our aim is to provide the largest NFT trading platform in the world with the best minting, buying, and exchanging experience by leveraging the fastest and cheapest solutions powered by Binance blockchain infrastructure and community.”

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Author: AnTy

China Stance on Crypto Remains The Same; Blockchain, Not Bitcoin

In a recent report by Chinese state media Xinhuanet, the Chinese government wants its citizens to stop paying attention to cryptocurrency but concentrate more on blockchain technology, the technology behind the cryptocurrencies.

China is emphasizing that the current rise of almost all crypto coins could seem very attractive to investors, which may not be permanent.

According to the media report, the warning is to protect the Chinese citizens and residents from making life-damaging investment decisions. However, it encourages citizens to invest more time and resources in Blockchain technology since it can be applied in various industries.

The past few weeks had seen the upsurge of Bitcoin price, as it moved above its previous all-time high achieved in 2017 when it reached $20,000 per Bitcoin. The same story goes for other cryptocurrencies. Some even tripled in price, representing massive investment profits for the crypto holder.

Bitcoin’s direction is uncertain

Various market analysts have predicted on the recent Bull Run and where the market is headed next. Some have even predicted that Bitcoin’s price could reach $100,000 soon, as market indices show.

However, China is advising its citizens not to throw their entire investment bag into Bitcoin because the market is highly volatile. Generally, the country is known to be a strong supporter and advocate of advanced technology. But this time, the government is making a distinction between blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Based on the publication, one of the reasons for the advice against cryptocurrency investment is that no one knows why Bitcoin is rising fast. As a result, the fall can be dramatic and very volatile for some investors to bear.

The Chinese government has always been very protective of its citizens when it comes to investments. In the shared post, the government described Bitcoin’s price as a “hype,” and the risk f trading on the top cryptocurrency is very high, according to the post.

Different views about blockchain and cryptocurrency

But when it comes to the technology behind Bitcoin, China is well known to be an ardent optimist. It has made concerted efforts to develop its blockchain industry and has gone a long way towards developing it’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system.

The country has already passed the first stage of its DCEP testing. Additionally, China is in the process of developing its blockchain-based network service. Several public chains have already integrated into the network, including EOS, NEO, Tezos, and Ethereum. But it’s the negative stance of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency remains unchanged.

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Author: Ali Raza

Microsoft Warns Cybersecurity Threat Posing as XMR Miners Attempts to Extract Data

A recently released Microsoft report has revealed that threat actors at the state level are now using coin miner techniques to cover their tracks or blend in. The report, which was published on Nov 30, highlights a recent attempt by state threat actor ‘BISMUTH,’ which leveraged Monero coin miners to infiltrate both government and private sector institutions in Vietnam and France.

While crypto-related cyber-crime activity is considered low risk, it appears that malicious attackers are now capitalizing on the nascent technology to advance their agendas. Per the Microsoft report, BISMUTH used the Monero coin miners as a decoy to distract security teams from tracking their real activity, which was data extraction. The report reads,

“The coin miners also allowed BISMUTH to hide its more nefarious activities behind threats that may be perceived to be less alarming because they’re ‘commodity’ malware.”

BISMUTH also used the DLL replacing tactic to further reduce their conspicuousness, given that it takes long time periods to extract information from the compromised applications. The group, famous for blending in techniques, pulled a new one with crypto miners, although the report notes a consistency in their pattern.

“The use of coin miners by BISMUTH was unexpected, but it was consistent with the group’s longtime methods of blending in.”

The report recommends that organizations prioritize reducing surface attacks by elevating and inspecting common threats such as phishing and coin miner techniques in a more advanced manner.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Iran to Use Bitcoin for International Trade, Bypassing the Dollar Due to US Sanctions

With the latest amendment to the legislation, Iran has become the first country to use cryptocurrencies at a state level for import funding.

The Iranian Cabinet amended legislation to redirect digital currencies into the funding mechanism of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) for imports, as per the report by the official The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The report by the CBI and the Ministry of Energy said,

“The miners are supposed to supply the original cryptocurrency directly and within the authorized limit to the channels introduced by the CBI.”

The limit on crypto for every miner will be decided by the level of the subsidized energy used for mining and the Ministry of Energy’s instructions.

This could create a war of hash rate in the Bitcoin space as China continues to lose its share while Kazakhstan, Iran, Malaysia, and Canada record an increase, as per Cbeci.org.

Iran’s share particularly has increased by over 2% in April 2020 from 1.74% in Sept. 2019.

Iran’s cryptocurrency move isn’t new and is a necessity for a country that is strapped for international currencies. In August 2019, it officially legalized crypto mining but banned trading in an attempt to take advantage of its subsidized electricity and extract taxes.

Iran’s fiat currency, the Iranian Rial, has also fallen as the country struggles with inflation, currently at 34%, for the past three years. Its economy has also been contracting since last year; this year, it did -10% a quarter. About a year back, Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran had noted that,

“The regime is struggling to acquire the foreign currency they need to procure imports such as machinery, industrial inputs, and consumer goods.”

Earlier this year, the nation allowed power plants to operate large scale Bitcoin mining operations.

Given that Iran is also in the grip of US sanctions, it is bypassing the dollar and officially using Bitcoin. The country is also considering creating its own digital currency.

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Author: AnTy

After Kraken, Avanti Granted the License to Become a Crypto Bank by Wyoming State Regulator

The first one was Kraken, and now another crypto bank is here. The Wyoming State Banking Board granted Avanti Bank & Trust a bank charter with 8-0 votes that give it the same powers as national banks. With this, Avanti can now provide custody service for digital assets as a qualified custodian and deposit customer funds that are 100% backed by reserves.

Avanti is also planning to launch its tokenized US dollar called Avit, for which a patent is pending. The stablecoin is planned to be issued on both Liquid, a Bitcoin sidechain, and Ethereum initially, with other blockchains to follow in the future based on customer demand and network security.

The crypto bank will start providing commercial accounts in early 2021, followed by other accounts with a high minimum balance. Caitlin Long, Avanti’s founder, and CEO said,

“Avanti’s mission is to provide a compliant bridge between the traditional and digital asset financial systems, with the strictest level of institutional custody standards.”

“Wyoming has the only U.S. regulator with a bank supervisory and regulatory program for digital assets that is near completion.”

As a bank, Avanti will fully comply with the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering, and OFAC-related laws, rules, and regulations.

Also Read: Kraken Gets Approval in Wyoming to Become America’s First Crypto Bank

More Reading: Kraken’s Crypto Bank Is “An Accident Waiting to Happen,” says Bank Policy Institute

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Author: AnTy