The Bahamas Central Bank to Launch Its Digital Currency, the Sand Dollar, Next Month

The Bahamas are on the verge of becoming the first nation in the world to introduce a state-backed digital currency. The Bahamas Central Bank announced that it would issue a central bank-backed cryptocurrency (CBDC) next month.

Chaozhen Chen, the Central Bank of Bahamas assistant manager in charge of eSolutions, said that the virtual currency, known as ‘Sand Dollar,’ is set to enhance financial inclusion, especially the isolated islands within the country.

Chen explained that most people on those isolated islands have no access to banking and digital payment infrastructure. Based on reasoning that the central bank came up with a customized solution that will solve the problem while allowing the country to maintain its sovereignty.

The Sand Dollar transfers will be made using a mobile-based wallet app on users’ phones which will be much easier since more than 90% of the citizens use a mobile phone.

According to the official, the central bank digital currency (CBDC) will adhere to the regulations and rules subjected to the Bahama dollar. Users will have to comply with the anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) rules when it comes to the creation of accounts for the use of the digital currency.

The new virtual dollars will be issued by demand. Chen also revealed that the CBDC would be issued along with the withdrawal of the fiat Bahamian dollars to avoid an oversupply of money in the country.

The Bahamas Central Bank first indicated the desire to introduce a digital dollar in June 2018. At that time, the regulator noted that most smaller islands had witnessed a massive downsizing and closure of commercial banks, which left them with no banking services.

The central bank started a pilot project dubbed ‘project Sand Dollar’ last year in the islands of Exuma and Abaco with a population of 7,314 and 17,224, respectively.

Chen explained that every Sand Dollar would be pegged on the Bahamian dollar pegged on the US dollar.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

US FinCEN Set to Upgrade AML Guidelines in Wake of Evolving Illicit Financial Crimes

  • The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to amend its anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines, ensuring that all covered financial institutions maintain an efficient AML program.
  • This includes crypto entities that run under the Money Service Business (MSB) licenses, amongst other approvals, to offer this line of service to US residents.

According to the announcement on September 17, FinCEN is seeking feedback from stakeholders affected by changes to the AML requirements. This bureau of the US Department of the Treasury has since issued 60 days for interested stakeholders to have commented on prospectus regulatory amendments.

FinCEN noted that this move is particularly important in the combat of evolving illicit financial crime and will therefore set the stage for more solid AML practices,

“The regulatory amendments under consideration are intended to modernize the regulatory regime to address the evolving threats of illicit finance, and provide financial institutions with greater flexibility in the allocation of resources, resulting in the enhanced effectiveness and efficiency of anti-money laundering programs.”

Upon implementation, the prospectus changes will affect compliance and reporting by US domiciled financial institutions. FinCEN highlighted that the amendments are expected to be detailed enough, such that there is clear clarification on risk assessment methods, coupled with the consideration of oversight requirements under the US Bank Secrecy Act and AML priorities.

Crypto Businesses Amongst the Targets!

With a decade gone by since crypto made a debut, regulators appear to be paying more attention now that the trend is no longer a hype but a threat to traditional financial ecosystems. One of the areas that have proved incredibly difficult for oversight agencies is crypto in money-laundering and terror-financing activities.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that FinCEN is joining its counterpart agencies like the IRS, which recently issued a $625,000 bounty for anyone who would crack Monero’s anonymous ecosystem. Going forward, more financial oversight authorities are likely to take a similar route as crypto gradually goes mainstream.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

EU’s Draft Regulation to Fragment the Crypto Market with Special Focus on ‘Subset’ Stablecoins

The 168-page long leaked version of the draft legislation of “Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA)” by the European Commission provides legal certainty about digital currencies.

To be issued later this month, the set of regulations will be covering the issuance and trading of digital assets across the bloc.

Europe is basically planning to regulate crypto-like other financial instruments with the purpose to “further enable and support the potential of digital finance in terms of innovation and competition while mitigating the risks.”

However, the European Commission is putting a particular focus on stablecoins, a “subset of crypto-assets” leading to market fragmentation.

This is no surprise given the calls for regulating them for some time now. As we reported, this month, first, Bank of England governor and then five of the European countries supported regulatory oversight for asset-backed coins like Facebook’s Libra.

Additionally, regulators believe stablecoins have the potential to become widely accepted and potentially systemic, and of course, the plans for CBDC are behind the decision.

The new regulation will establish specific rules for ‘stablecoins,’ including when these are e-money.

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Author: AnTy

Lithuania’s LBCOIN, The World’s First Collectible Digital Coin, is Sent to the ECB Council

The world’s first collectible digital coin called LBCOIN was sent to the email inbox of European Central Bank policy makers on Monday from one of their colleagues.

The coin came to Governing Council members as a link to an e-wallet with six digital tokens. These tokens feature a portrait of one of the 20 signatories of Liithunai’s 1918 declaration of independence.

“I’m curious how popular this is going to be among Governing Council members,” said Vitas Vasiliauskas, Lithuania’s central bank governor. “I’ve asked for feedback,” he added.

Just last week, ECB President Christine Lagarde said that they would soon discuss whether or not the eurozone should create its very own digital currency.

Currently, finance chiefs of the euro region are working on devising a regime to regulate fiat-backed stablecoins.

Call for a Digital Euro

Before being sent to the colleagues, the LBCOIN was demonstrated at last week’s Governing Council meeting about how it works.

Based on blockchain technology, the project took three years to complete, Vasiliauskas said.

“We’re the first to issue” such a coin, he said. “The whole experience gave us ample possibilities to comprehend the technology.”

The users of the tokens can also trade them among themselves after activating the tokens. The specific set of them can also be exchanged for a credit card-sized physical coin that has a nominal value of 19.18 euros.

The central bank governor believes the LBCOIN experience will help ECB in reaching the decision on a digital euro. According to him, it was the social media giant Facebook’s stablecoin Libra that helped euro-area central banks in recognizing that digitization can revolutionize the financial system.

“We absolutely need to move forward, we see the Chinese are already testing it in practice, launching the CBDC in certain regions,” he said. “Europe shouldn’t sleep through this again.”

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Author: AnTy

Nigeria to Regulate Cryptocurrency Trading; SEC Says Digital Assets Are Securities

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria will start regulating trade in digital currencies to ensure investor protection and that transactions are transparent. The authorities said on Monday,

“The general objective of regulation is not to hinder technology or stifle innovation, but to create standards that encourage ethical practices.”

The agency said it’ is required to regulate “when the character of the investments qualifies as securities transactions.”

In the past, the West African nation declined to recognize digital currencies as legal tender. In 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria said that cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), XRP, Monero (XMR), and Onecoin, weren’t considered money.

The Abuja-based regulator said in a statement that it views digital currencies as exchangeable securities and that the issuers or sponsors of these virtual assets “shall be guided by the commission’s regulation.”

The country is now coming to acknowledge the growing presence of digital assets, and Ayodeji Ebo, managing director at Afrinvest securities in Lagos, said, “the earlier it is regulated, the less havoc on the economy.”

“It’s another way to provide alternative assets to investors,” he told Bloomberg.

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Author: AnTy

Bitmain’s Wu Regains Power Over Micree Zhan As Jihan Named Legal Representative

The struggle for Bitmain’s control has taken a different turn, with Jihan Wu regaining the position of executive director and legal representative of this Chinese Bitcoin mining rig manufacturer. According to the latest update on China’s business registration record, Macree Zhan will no longer serve in the above capacities but remains a general manager in the company.

This turn of events comes as an upper hand to Wu’s side of the company, given the powers embedded within the legal representative and executive director role in Chinese-domiciled entities. Wu is now the one in control of Bitmain’s seal hence broad powers to act on behalf of the company as well as sign strategic decisions into effect.

Bitmain’s Power Brawl

With cryptocurrencies on the rise, Bitmain pivoted as one of the leading mining rigs manufacturers, but the firm’s internal brawls since late 2019 have cost the business a fortune. The real trouble began when Wu ousted Zhan towards the end of 2019; a move that Zhan later termed to be illegal and took the battle to the courts. Since then, Bitmain’s operations have been at the mercies of the two opposing camps.

Fast forward, Zhan was able to regain control of Bitmain’s Beijing offices in June 2020 and proposed to buy Wu’s shares at a valuation of $4 billion. His helm at the firm, however, seems to have been cut short with the latest developments. Nonetheless, Wu has maintained that Bitmain’s respect for Zhan remains unchanged in a recent WeChat post on the Bitmain AntMiner brand account.

Bitmain’s Woes Might Be Far from Over!

While the latest changes may have signaled calm waters for Bitmain’s operations, it is still too early to predict whether the firm’s internal power struggles will persist. For starters, a lawsuit between the two divides is still pending in the Cayman Islands, where Bitmain’s holding entity is domiciled. This regulatory uncertainty has ultimately threatened the firm’s operational side as well; Wu, however, noted that they are looking to find long-term solutions for the troubles caused to Bitmain stakeholders.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

FATF Releases Red Flag indicators To Identify Money Laundering Using Crypto

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) releases report on how to identify possible red flags in crypto money laundering rings across virtual asset service providers, or VASPs in short.
  • The regulator highlights a number of ways that crypto exchanges can stop and curb illegal and illicit activity.

The report titled, Virtual Assets – Red Flag Indicators of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, outlines several red flags including those arising from irregular transaction patterns, anonymous transactions, arising from senders and receivers and sources of wealth profiles of the crypto users.

One of the red flags arises from the size and frequency of transactions whereby a money launderer could make multiple high frequency transactions over a period of 24 hours or staggered and regular transactions which stop shortly after they are made. Moreover, transferring virtual assets to exchanges with low or non-existent AML/CFT rules is also considered a red flag.

User profiling is also an excellent way of noticing possible money laundering and terrorist financing. Here, exchanges are tasked with checking on the transactions made and comparing it with the user’s profile.

This arises when a user deposits an unusual amount to their wallet which does not match the traders profile or recent transactions. This could signal the deposit is subject to checks of money laundering, scamming or a money mule. The report reads on transaction patterns as a red flags stating,

“Conducting a large initial deposit to open a new relationship with a VASP and funding the entire deposit the first day it is opened, and that the customer starts to trade the total amount or a large portion of the amount on that same day or the day after, or if the customer withdraws the whole amount the day after.”

Also quick deposits and withdrawals of full balance of virtual assets in a short period of time raises eyebrows.

Virtual asset accounts with no logical business explanation making frequent deposits and transfers off the exchange to less KYC friendly exchanges poses a red flag. Accumulation of funds from several unrelated exchanges or wallets sending small amounts to one virtual asset account before fully withdrawing the funds may be a money laundering scheme.

Regulators should also follow users who use anonymity enabled public cryptocurrencies and privacy coins such as Monero, Zcash and Dash closely, the report states. Also the exchange of public and transparent crypto coins such as Bitcoin for the anonymity enhanced cryptocurrencies also raises questions on the actions of the trader.

FAFT has pushed through KYC/ AML regulations and compliance rules for VASPs across the globe in a bid to curb money laundering and terrorist financing using crypto. The “Travel Rule” recommends that the 200 countries that follow it, say to mandate VASPs such as custodians and crypto exchanges to retain and share any information on possible illicit and illegal trades happening on their platforms.

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Author: Lujan Odera

SEC Charges Rapper T.I. & Four Others for Promoting Fraudulent ICO, FLiK

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Atlanta-based rapper Clifford Harris, Jr., better known as T.I., and four others for promoting an unregistered and fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICO).

T.I. promoted FLiK tokens in 2017 to his social media followers, falsely stating that he was a co-owner of the project boasted as “Netflix on the blockchain.” The platform was advertised as a streaming media platform with products that can be purchased with digital tokens, the SEC said in a statement on Friday.

The 39-year old rapper has agreed to pay the penalty of $75,000.

As per SEC’s order, he is not allowed to participate in offerings or sales of digital-asset securities for at least five years.

The company’s founder, a film producer, named Ryan Felton, who started FLiK and CoinSpark, is meanwhile facing claims that he misappropriated the raised funds to buy Ferrari, a million-dollar home, and other luxury goods.

“Felton victimized investors through material misrepresentations, misappropriation of their funds, and manipulative trading,” said Carolyn M. Welshhans, Associate Director in the Division of Enforcement.

The complaint alleges that Felton secretly transferred FLiK tokens to himself and gained an additional $2.2 million in profits by selling them into the market.

Previously, boxer Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled have also been sued by the regulators for hyping the ICOs.

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Author: AnTy

US Congress Adds Two Blockchain Proposals to the Consumer Protection Safety Act

The U.S House of Representatives has approved two blockchain-affiliated Acts through its Committee on Energy and Commerce; this marks the furthest a blockchain bill has come in the 116th Congress. The two Acts which will now be debated on the House as part of the larger Consumer Technology Act include the Blockchain Innovation Act and a section of the Digital Taxonomy Act.

Blockchain joins the list of emerging tech that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Commerce (DoC) will be tasked with consumer threat identification if the bill goes through. Rep Darren Soto (D-Fla) who is one of the bill’s sponsors noted that blockchain tech is excellent and could go a long way with the right regulatory support,

“I believe our government needs to support that growth, establish light-touch regulations to ensure certainty, protect innovation, stop fraud and enable its appropriate use for government, business and consumers.”

As it stands, the unregulated nature of blockchain has provided adequate grounds for scammers to engage in fraudulent activity and get away with the same in a blink. This was one of the issues cited by the bill’s sponsors and, in particular Congressman Jerry McEnery (D-CA); he highlighted that the incorporation of parts of the Digital Taxonomy Act would play a major role in protecting consumers from the scammers.

Better Late than Never!

Although a little late to the party, the U.S is gradually catching up with pioneers like Japan which enacted regulatory frameworks for the blockchain and crypto industry as early as April 2017. Politicians in the country have also started to accept donations in Bitcoin; Rep Soto, who sponsored this bill told the Chamber PAC that his campaign would be accepting BTC donations. The Democrat Congressman is not the only one that has gone this road; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and MN-06 Rep Tom Emmer are the other candidates that have since accepted Bitcoin.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Binance Rolls Out $100M Fund to Bring DeFi Developers to its Smart Chain (BSC) Platform

  • The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, is entering the raging decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem aiming to take over the market.
  • The centralized exchange will control the listings and governance of the platform – a case of CeFi taking on DeFi.

Binance announced a $100 million development grant in a bid to entice DeFi developers to build on its newly-launched smart contract platform, Binance Smart Chain (BSC). CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao made the announcement during the company’s World DeFi Summit this Thursday, stating the platform will provide ‘a bridge’ between the centralized and decentralized worlds of crypto.

The platform will provide a direct link between Binance.com exchange and the Binance Smart Chain allowing users to access DeFi products without leaving the exchange directly. Binance Coin (BNB) holders will also be able to participate and have more rights in the governance of BSC by staking on the chain.

The Binance community members will be in charge of distributing the funds with a maximum of $100,000 offered to each team.

The team will use their IEO criteria used on platforms such as Binance Launchpad and Binance X to select promising projects. The centralization aspect of the new platform has irked parts of the crypto community but has also received its fair share of praise – majorly due to Ethereum’s high gas fees.

A New Centralized DeFi platform

According to CZ’s explanation posted in a short thread on Twitter, the new-look centralized DeFi will offer users a couple of advantages over sticking to DeFi.

First, the exchange will vet the tokens that will trade and transact on the BSC, managing the risks involved in scams. However, he maintains the vetting may not prove sufficient “and sometimes may even be negative (depending on the CEX), he stated. “But a reputable CEX is financially incentivized to maintain it.”

Finally, users who stake BNB on Binance will be able to earn different yields on multiple projects simultaneously. This is different from DeFi whereby you need to stake on different protocols to earn their yields.

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Author: Lujan Odera