Ripple Shortlists A Move to Asia and Europe Should it Leave the US

Ripple Labs considers Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, UAE, and the UK as possible jurisdictions should the blockchain patent services company leave the US amidst a lack of regulatory clarity, said Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said,

“The common denominator between all of them is that their governments have created a clarity about how they would regulate different digital assets, different cryptocurrencies.”

When it comes to the US, authorities here are unclear on the status of cryptocurrencies, said Garlinghouse adding that there are different opinions on whether crypto is a currency, commodity, property, or security. “Regulation shouldn’t be a guessing game,” he said.

“Ripple is definitely a proud U.S. company, and we’d like to stay in the U.S. if that was possible, but we also need regulatory clarity in order for us to invest and grow the business.”

In “contrast” to the US, Garlinghouse said Japan had created an “environment for a very healthy market to develop.”

The country has already introduced a registration system for crypto exchanges about three years back. Moreover, Ripple has close ties with Japanese financial conglomerate SBI Holdings, and its CEO Yoshikata Kitao also sits on Ripple’s board since last year.

“Japan is one of our fastest-growing markets, in part because we have key partners like SBI,” he said. “I have spoken to the SBI team about the fact we are looking at” Japan as a potential destination, Garlinghouse said.

Ripple has been thinking of a move for some time now; in another of his interviews, Garlinghouse has said that China is already decades ahead in the digital currency sector.

In terms of a central bank digital currency, China has moved further ahead in its digital currency trial as it distributed 200 digital yuan to 50,000 people spendable at 3,000 retail outlets. Other central banks, including the Federal Reserve, meanwhile are still in the research phase.

The playing field won’t level until a country established a lead in “the internet of value,” he said.

The pandemic raised the interest in digital currencies and not just for CBDC. According to Garlinghouse, the coronavirus pandemic has given a “tailwind” to crypto markets because of all the money printing central banks have been doing.

While the monetary stimulus, which is “inflationary on some level,” drives the demand for crypto, a move away from cash is also helping, he said.

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Author: AnTy

Switzerland Passes Blockchain Legislation Unanimously; Will Take Effect Early 2021

  • Switzerland has finally approved legislation for blockchain and digital assets, making it one of the major financial hubs to have a formal regulatory reference point for the upcoming crypto market.
  • The country’s parliamentarians voted unanimously for the ‘Blockchain Act’ that had been passed earlier in summer.

According to a report by the international unit of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, SWI, this legislation on DLT’s and blockchain is likely to come into effect at the beginning of 2021. The milestone will open up doors for Swiss crypto-savvy investors to participate in the latest tech, including decentralized finance (DeFi); companies will also be able to tokenize shares within the law amongst other assets.

These new blockchain-oriented laws for Swiss crypto companies define several events and the probable course to follow, should such situations arise. Given the new dynamics underpinning crypto ecosystems, some underlying laws on bankruptcy and security trading have been amended to accommodate the digital assets.

The legislation goes to the extent of providing clarity on trading security tokens as well as due diligence procedures by service providers. The clarifying is an effort to curb money laundering and terror financing activities that appear to be thriving in crypto networks. Speaking to Decrypt, Urs Bolt, a leading Swiss FinTech influencer, noted that the new laws would be a big boost for the country’s burgeoning crypto space. He commented,

“Overall, it will create one of the most favorable regulatory environments in the world. It will allow the financial center to lead in the digital asset space and hopefully attract new business into CryptoValley.”

Interestingly, this latest legal advancement comes just after Switzerland’s Canton of Zug decided to accept tax payments in crypto. The town, which has earned a nickname ‘Crypto Valley’ due to the high blockchain and crypto activity, said that residents can now pay their taxes in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) via QR codes; the initiative will roll out in Q1, 2021.

It is quite noteworthy that Switzerland joins its neighbors Malta and Liechtenstein, which had already enacted comprehensive legislation for blockchain-related tech. However, the country’s position on a CBDC remains unclear despite global hype and China’s debut of its digital yuan.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Switzerland-based Atupri Is the First Health Insurance Company to Accept Bitcoin & Ether

Atupri, a health insurance company in Switzerland, is the first such company to offer its user’s policyholders the option to pay bills with cryptocurrency.

The company currently accepts the top two cryptos, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). It further mentions that the transaction fees, so-called miner fees, is the only cost to be paid. Also, they do not yet offer the option of repayments in cryptocurrency.

Starting August 31, 2020, the crypto options have been allowed.

The crypto payment addition is part of the company’s comprehensive digital strategy and “one of many aspects to optimize our service and to offer our policyholders the greatest possible comfort.”

The payments in digital assets are made through the payment system of Bitcoin Suisse AG (BS), a financial intermediary domiciled and registered in Switzerland, which is a member of the self-regulatory organization VQF recognized by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

It is BS that bears the risk of price fluctuations in digital assets. Atupri clarifies that it doesn’t share any data with third parties and that they only send the invoice number to BS. The translated version reads,

“The original claim and the related invoice is in Swiss Francs (CHF). The customer’s payment to BS in cryptocurrency via the system provided leads to a debt-discharging effect. The customer can settle the claim in CHF at any time up to the time of payment with cryptocurrency.”

In its FAQ section, Atupri also briefs that to pay bills with BTC or ETH, one just needs a crypto wallet. It also mentions that paying with bitcoin involves electricity consumption, but it is “negligibly small” compared to the energy consumption of the “traditional” monetary system.

And with computers becoming more and more efficient and the use of renewable energy becoming more widespread, “this difference will become even bigger,” it states.

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Author: AnTy

ShapeShift Rolls Out Self-Custody Trading App for BTC, ETH, LTC, DGB, TUSD, & ERC20 Tokens

ShapeShift, a Switzerland based self-custody crypto exchange has launched its sovereign mobile trading application following on the footprints of Robinhood and Revolut. The newly launched mobile trading app would allow the traders to buy and sell crypto from their mobile devices, with the users having full control over their keys.

A self-sovereign trading app like ShapeShift is considered safer since it does not involve any third parties for the storage of the assets. At the time of launch, the mobile trading app would support bitcoin, Ethereum, and ERC-20 tokens, Digibyte, and TrueUSD.

ShapeShift also claims to boast a customer base from 120 countries and at the time of launch they tweeted:

“Our new app gives you the power to trade with competitive rates & buy Bitcoin in 120+ countries, all while enjoying self-custody of your crypto.“

Erik Voorhees, ShapeShift’s founder and CEO released a statement for the launch of the mobile app which read:

“The ShapeShift crypto platform launched a year ago, bringing proper self-custody digital asset management to the masses. But, it was only available on the web. The mobile app is here, and with one email and password, users can enjoy self-sovereign finance on both web and mobile.”

ShapeShift’s mobile trading app launch sits well with its expansion plans to reach out to a new customer base. Back in February this year, the firm announced a new COO in Lisa Loud, a former Apple engineer, and PayPal executive.

ShapeShift Trying To Take a Piece In The Growing Mobile Trading Sector

The mobile trading app arena has started to see some competition with Robinhood sharing the majority of the market. ShapeShift’s mobile trading app launch comes just days after the London-based challenger bank, Revolut, launched its mobile banking app with the facility to purchase Bitcoin and Ethereum for US customers. At the same time, European customers can also buy Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and XRP.

Robinhood has also canceled the UK launch of its stock and crypto trading app after getting the broker authorization from the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2019. A company representative commented on the postponement of the UK launch and said they are currently trying to strengthen their position in their core market in the United States. The spokesperson said:

‘”A lot has changed in the world over the past few months, and we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our UK launch indefinitely. As a company, we are refocusing our efforts on strengthening our core business in the US.”

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Author: James W

Telecom Giant, Vodafone, Announces Partnership With Energy Blockchain Startup, Energy Web

  • Global Telecoms firm, Vodafone, announced its partnership with Switzerland based blockchain startup, Energy Web (EW), to develop solutions for energy-smart devices.
  • The partnership aims at improving the “integration of renewable and distributed energy assets on the power grids using blockchain and internet of Things (IoT).

In an official statement released Tuesday, EW confirmed its partnership with the London based telecommunications giant to incorporate IoT and blockchain in building secure IDs for energy assets. The project will use SIM centric blockchain tech (SCB) in a bid to provide a platform for users to quickly map and access their distributed assets on the energy grids.

The official Vodafone statement reads,

“This will provide a secure digital ID for every device and allow the decentralized energy assets to be safely integrated within a grid.”

Vodafone’s IoT extends operations in the energy industry

Vodafone’s expertise in the IoT space, having connected over 100 million smart devices, will be crucial in integrating assets such as wind turbines, batteries, heat pumps, solar panels, etc. on power grids efficiently. As the world turns to a green economy and more opportunities arising from the need to generate, store and even sell energy, the partnership between the two will open a new gateway to access these distributed energy assets.

Speaking on the latest partnership with Vodafone, Walter Kok, the CEO of Energy Web, said,

“We are seeing the convergence of multiple sectors in making the energy transition happen — the energy sector, of course, but also automotive, telecoms, and even finance. From our perspective, the energy sector can only evolve so fast and so far without taking into account IoT connectivity.”

How will distributed energy assets fit into the grid?

To give grids the required stability to keep running users will be able to identify and validate the decentralized energy assets through the platform created on the Energy Web Decentralized Operating System (EW-DOS) using Vodafone Business’ IoT. Erik Brenneis, Vodafone Business IoT director said,

“As the number of decentralized, new-generation, low-carbon devices grows, so does the need for them to be securely connected regardless of their location.”

“We are proud to work together with Energy Web to make this a reality.”

Since launching earlier in the year, the EWT token has seen massive growth with the latest partnership propelling it to all-time highs of $3.73 USD as at the time of writing.

A bold step into blockchain

Despite leaving the Libra Association in January this year, Vodafone’s journey in the blockchain industry has not stopped. The partnership with EW follows the multinational telecom firm’s alliance with IBM to create a blockchain based ID system on the company’s supply chain.

In March, Vodafone announced the extension of the project with IBM, launching a blockchain based “Know Your Supplier” platform to endorse and authenticate suppliers.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Swiss-Based Overture To Become First Authorized IPO On Ethereum Blockchain

As firm in Switzerland, is now permitted to integrate a blockchain IPO that offers tokenized shares. In an announcement made Wednesday, Andriotto Financial Services says that Overture, the firm for which it offers financial advice, is going to provide something different than what other security offerings do:

“The company has approved the first Swiss articles of incorporation that directly states the digital nature of the shares (tokens) and the use of the blockchain as the technology to keep the shareholders registry […] transfer of the company ownership can be achieved only with a transfer of the tokens on the blockchain and only the ownership of the token can give the status of shareholder.”

Overture Will Offer Class-A Shares on the Ethereum Blockchain

Overture will provide class-A shares with Zug-based EURO DAXX (which stands for the European Digital Assets Exchange) smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. By deploying blockchain technology this way, the efficiency in the major capital markets is boosted, claims Overture, in the sense that banks, central depository systems, broker dealers, as well as other financial intermediaries no longer need to be involved.

The native blockchain approach to the securities offerings is expected to be warmly welcomed by the most important new platforms in Switzerland, for example by the upcoming Swiss Digital Exchange from SIX Swiss Exchange.

The IPO Model to Become More Prevalent?

There are many voices saying the original IPO model, no matter if implemented on the blockchain or not, may become more and more prevalent in the crypto and blockchain space this year. This month at Davos, the CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, said he expects more crypto companies to want to launch IPOs, so Ripple itself may be interested in a public flotation. Until now, the crypto industry had to focus solely on ICO’s, which are the alternative model for issuance, especially for new firms that don’t want to deal with the regulatory requirements of creating a traditional IPO.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Worldline and Bitcoin Suisse Are Bringing Cryptocurrencies to the Swiss Market

Online and in-store businesses in Switzerland are soon going to receive cryptocurrency payments, as the Bitcoin Suisse operating crypto financials has partnered with the payment company Worldline. The announcement has been made on Friday, and it says that the two financial players will leverage the SIX Payment Services infrastructure. This means cryptocurrency enthusiasts have something to be happy about, seeing they’ll be able to spend their bitcoins in shops all over Switzerland.

SIX Payment Has Signed with Bitcoin Suisse

French SIX Payment Services used to belong to the Swiss stock exchange conglomerate providing card payment terminals in more than 85,000 retail businesses in Switzerland. The company now wants to have its infrastructure hooked up with cryptocurrencies. An intent external link letter between Bitcoin Suisse and SIX Payment Services has been signed, saying that bitcoin will be converted into Swiss francs and used for retail payments.

Pilot Project for 2020

This partnership is only in its early stages and supposed to happen in 2020. The date at which is going to take effect still needs to be determined. The two financial companies must wait and see which merchants are going to come on board. If the project will be a success, Worldline has announced to provide its services to other European markets.

The Future of Worldline – Bitcoin Suisse Partnership Looks Promising

The plan looks like it’s going to take shape as the largest online retailer in Switzerland, which is Digitec Galaxus, has partnered up with Datatrans, the e-payment company, and Coinify, to accept cryptocurrencies as payments. Aside from this, the Dolder Grand luxury hotel has adopted the Swiss Inapay system. This means it allows cryptocurrencies payments.

Amid Schmid, Crypto Tokens CEO, Trusts the Deal

The CEO of the Crypto Tokens, which is a Bitcoin Suisse division, says that crypto payments in the retail sector will very likely start as e-payments. The same Armin Schmid, who is a former employee of PayPal and Swiss Payment Services, thinks that Worldline’s involvement is of great importance and that retailers will want to take cryptocurrency payments. He also stated that the service fees will be soon defined and that they shouldn’t be more than what’s being charged to accept payment by card.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

New BIS Innovation Hub Center Will Study Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) Integration

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are an important subject in Switzerland right now. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has recently started a partnership with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to begin a study on CBDCs, which will be conducted at the BIS Innovation Hub Center, which is based in Switzerland.

According to the latest announcement made by the banks, this will be one of the three hubs that will be established to research more about the project. The other two will be set in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The focus of the Swiss center will be on how to integrate CBDCs to the blockchain and to analyze the requirements for tracking electronic markets, which are much faster than their non-digital counterparts. The first joint project will be a proof of concept about how to release a CBDC in the country that could facilitate the settlements between financial organizations.

Another important goal of the researchers is to identify more insights and important trends of the technology that can be used by the experts of the bank to innovate in the creation of solutions.

The chairman of the SNB, Thomas Jordan, affirmed that the central bank is following the trend of the market closely and that it is important to cooperate with other banks and the financial sector to develop.

Right now, Switzerland is still unconvinced of CBDCs, but willing to learn more. Jordan recently claimed that stablecoins could hurt the country’s monetary policies and that access to a CBDC could result in a negative outcome. Despite this stance, however, the country seems willing to learn more about the technology before completely disregarding it.

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Author: Denis Miriti

Swiss Exchange SIX Debuts New Crypto Exchange-Traded Product Based in Swiss Francs

SIX, a prominent stock exchange based in Switzerland, has launched a new financial product based on cryptocurrencies. This exchange-traded product (ETP) is denominated in the local fiat currency and backed with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) both.

In order to launch this new product, SIX started a partnership with two other companies: Amun AG and Bitcoin Suisse. Amun has collaterized the investment while SIX will sell it on its platform. Bitcoin Suisse will be important as it will store the underlying assets. The investment is fully collateralized, meaning that for each BTC bought by a client, one BTC will be stored in a vault.

The new offering will be listed as ABBA and it will be formed mostly by Bitcoin (90%). The rest of the assets will be in Ethereum (ETH). The co-founder of Amun AG, Hany Rashwan, affirmed that this can be a unique way for new investors to add more products to their portfolios. The product will be fully regulated, so it can be very appealing to institutional investors.

A Growing Crypto Market

This is the seventh time that Amun listed a crypto-based ETP on an exchange based in the country.

Some of the investments that were already launched include some focused solely on Bitcoin, XRP, Bitcoin Cash and other mixed assets.

SIX is also betting heavily on this kind of asset. The company has seen what a big trend digital assets can be and it is focused on giving its clients more options to invest in this industry.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

UBS Former CEO: Big Banks Are Interested In The Blockchain Technology

Peter Wuffli, the former CEO of UBS, an international bank based in Switzerland, has recently affirmed that the crypto market is attracting the attention of large banks because of the advent of regulated actors.

He was known for being the CEO of UBS during the 2008 crisis. At the time, the bank lost a lot of money and the Swiss government had to bail it out in order for the bank to continue existing. At the time, he resigned. Today, Wuffli works as a board member of the local crypto bank Sygnum.

Wuffli affirmed that he does not see a bubble in the market right now, which is a very different way of how things were in 2017. There are more serious planning about how to solve the needs of the clients and a better understanding of the market, its potentials and limitations.

Sygnum is also on its way to becoming a fully regulated bank in the country, so Wuffli was obviously talking about his own company, not Bakkt, which was also launched this week. However, there is a clear trend of very well-organized regulated institutions entering the crypto market, and banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse are looking at them.

According to Wuffli, interest has clearly picked up lately and people from these banks are starting to approach the crypto industry in Switzerland. What they want strategically and how committed they will be to this new market, however, is what we’ll see in the following months.

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Author: Gabriel Machado