Major Mortgage Lender Abandons Plans to Accept Crypto Payments

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), one of the foremost mortgage lenders in the United States, has suspended its plans to accept cryptocurrency payments.

In a press release shared earlier this week, the Pontiac, Michigan-based mortgage lender explained that the risks associated with the acceptance of cryptocurrency far outweighed the benefits, and it would not be moving forward with the initiative for the time being.

Not So Feasible For Now

UWM had announced its plan to accept Bitcoin for payments back in August. The company explained at the time that its initiative would make it possible for U.S. homeowners to pay for their home loans in Bitcoin, marking it a first for the industry.

At the company’s second-quarter earnings call, chief executive Mat Ishbia said they were looking into the initiative’s feasibility and hoped to have something concrete by Q3. A company tweet even shared the possibility of adding payment options for Ether and other digital assets once the Bitcoin initiative sails through.

In this week’s press release, UWM explained that it accepted its first cryptocurrency payment in September and processed five more transactions this month. The pilot program focused on examining the speed, security, and ease of cryptocurrency payments. But, while the tests were successful, UWM said it would drop the idea for now.

“As we said last quarter, we were going to look into accepting cryptocurrency and test it to see if it’s a faster, easier and cheaper solution, and thanks to our innovative technology team members, the transactions were successful.”

“Due to the current combination of incremental costs and regulatory uncertainty in the crypto space, we’ve concluded we aren’t going to extend beyond a pilot at this time.”

Crypto for Investments; Not Payments

Speaking further to CNBC, Ishbia added that the problem wasn’t particularly with the cryptocurrencies themselves. He disclosed that UWM couldn’t find a market. While borrowers thought it was “cool” to make mortgage payments in crypto, there wasn’t much of a push to drive the initiative forward.

While the demand might not be substantial for now, UWM stated that it is committed to monitoring cryptocurrency adoption in the U.S. market to see possible paths forward.

The development further underscores the increasing use of cryptocurrencies as an investment, but not for payments. Crypto adoption continues to rise in the United States, with Chainalysis suggesting in its 2020 Crypto Adoption Index that traders and institutions appear to be driving this adoption push. But digital assets don’t seem to have the same appeal when it comes to payments.

Nevertheless, some companies have continued to push for crypto payments. Last month, major cinema giant AMC Theaters rolled out crypto purchase options for its electronic gift cards. Company CEO Adam Aron announced that customers would buy these cards for up to $200 with cryptocurrencies. Purchases will be available through the AMC mobile app, website, and physical theaters.

AMC continues to progress with its plan to accept crypto payments for movie tickets by the end of the year. The market will see how well this project pays off.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Dubai to Allow Crypto Trading within Tax-Exempt Economic Zones

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed an agreement with the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) to support the trading of cryptocurrencies in DWTCA’s free zone, reported the state news agency.

Under this agreement, a framework is established that allows DWTCA to issue approvals and licenses necessary to conduct financial activities relating to cryptocurrencies.

“Dubai poised to become crypto hub,” commented Su Zhu, CEO, and co-founder of Three Arrows Capital. “Crypto bigger epochal shift than the discovery of petroleum itself.”

As part of its efforts to drive innovation and become a digital economy hub, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority also announced on Wednesday that it would support the regulation, offering, issuance, listing, and trading of crypto and related financial activities within its free zone.

SCA meanwhile will be overseeing, monitoring, and inspecting entities operating within this free zone.

As the region’s financial hub and tax haven, Dubai has taken several steps to bolster the use of blockchain within the city.

The Airport Free Zone Authority of Dubai also signed a similar agreement with the SCA back in May. In June, a Bitcoin Fund – the first of its kind in the region – was listed on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange.

According to financial analysts, Dubai is well-positioned to benefit from the growing crypto market in the Middle East as regulators work on favorable rules leading to its acceptance and promotion of blockchain-based technologies.

“With the rise of new technologies such as non-fungible tokens set to play an important role in the future of commerce…DWTCA is also pursuing ways to offer a sustainable home for this ecosystem, in order to stay future ready,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of DWTCA.

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Author: AnTy

UAE Adopts Regulatory Framework for Crypto Assets

The National Committee for Combating Money-Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations of United Arab Emirates (UAE) endorsed a regulatory framework for crypto assets, said the central bank.

The committee tasked with fighting money laundering has the Central Bank of the UAE as one of its members. On Wednesday, it announced,

“The adoption of a regulatory framework for virtual assets in the UAE, concordant with approved anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism standards.”

The statement said that both the Gulf state’s central bank and the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) had been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the rules.

The central bank of the UAE further said that this regulatory framework is just “an initial step in providing comprehensive regulation of virtual assets” and to safeguard the investors and financial system from the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing.

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Author: AnTy

SEC Calls For Investigations Into Ripple Employees’ Slack Messages

SEC Calls For Investigations Into Ripple Employees’ Slack Messages

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has asked the court to order Ripple to submit its employees’ Slack communication app history.

SEC Requests Access To Over 1 Million Messages

SEC’s attorney Jorge Tenreiro filed a motion seeking access to over 1 million messages sent by Ripple’s employees. The SEC is specific, though. It seeks access to the team’s Slack messages.

According to the regulator, the defendants agreed to search all messages initially. However, they ended up with access to a limited 1,468 messages. The SEC revealed that the messages which have already been produced yielded critically important information.

Yet, the blockchain firm has refused to provide access to the rest of the messages after blaming its initial reluctance to cooperate on data-processing errors. The SEC said,

“Ripple agreed at the outset of discovery to search for and produce responsive Slack data but now, in the waning days of fact discovery, suddenly refuses to do so on the basis of Ripple’s mistakes in gathering that data.”

So far, the chats that the SEC has access to hover around Ripple’s desire to create speculative XRP trading and the company’s concerns about the XRP price. The impact of XRP sales on Ripple’s business and the cryptocurrency’s regulatory status is also points touched on in the messages.

Ripple has since asked that it be given until August 16, 2021, to respond to the motion.

The Ripple And SEC Battle Continues

The case between Ripple and the SEC started in December 2020. The regulator had alleged that the firm and its executives conducted unregistered securities offerings with their XRP token sales.

Since then, the SEC has maintained its stance while Ripple insisted that it had done nothing wrong.

This is not the first time the SEC would try to get in on Ripple’s records. Last month, Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn denied the SEC access to Ripple’s legal communications. She also declined the SEC’s motion to suppress the deposition of former SEC official William Hinman–an official who had previously asserted that Ethereum was not a security.

Ripple continues to argue that the XRP should be treated as a commodity offering like Bitcoin and Ethereum. In April, Ripple won a discovery ruling that required the SEC to produce internal documents about its discussions of Bitcoin and Ethereum. BTC -1.42% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 45,515.39
Volume 33.85 b Change -$646.32 Open $45,515.39 Circulating 18.78 m Market Cap 854.89 b
5 h PayPal-owned Venmo Rolls Out “Cash Back to Crypto” Option with Credit Card 7 h AMC Planning ‘Serious Involvement’ in ‘Burgeoning’ Crypto, To Accept Bitcoin by End of 2021 8 h VanEck Files for a “Bitcoin Strategy ETF” After SEC Chair’s Positive Signal
ETH -0.42% Ethereum / USD ETHUSD $ 3,136.74
Volume 27.82 b Change -$13.17 Open $3,136.74 Circulating 117.05 m Market Cap 367.17 b
5 h PayPal-owned Venmo Rolls Out “Cash Back to Crypto” Option with Credit Card 8 h VanEck Files for a “Bitcoin Strategy ETF” After SEC Chair’s Positive Signal 8 h SEC Calls For Investigations Into Ripple Employees’ Slack Messages

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has also reiterated this stance several times that XRP is not a security. In an interview with Fox News earlier this year, Garlinghouse said that XRP is an open-source technology and not a security. He described the similarities between XRP and Bitcoin while adding that the fact that BitPay, one of the leading payments firms, supports XRP is one example of how the token is not a security.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

The US and its Allies Accuse China of Global Crypto-Jacking and Cyber Hacking

The US and its Allies Accuse China of Global Crypto-Jacking and Cyber Hacking

  • The United States and some of its allies have accused the Chinese government of a global cyber hacking campaign.

On Monday, the US was joined by NATO, the European Union (EU), Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan to blame China’s Ministry of State Security “with official confidence,” according to a White House fact sheet.

The accusation comes a month after NATO and G7 leaders agreed with US President Joe Biden that China poses systemic challenges to the world.

“The United States and our allies and partners are exposing further details of the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China’s) pattern of malicious cyber activities and taking further action to counter it,” the US senior administration official said.

The Microsoft attack disclosed earlier this year to hackers working with Beijing was explicitly pointed out by the governments. Microsoft has already accused China of this.

China has previously said that they are also a victim of hacking and opposes all cyberattacks.

The governments will accuse Chinese-affiliated actors with “cyber-enabled extortion, crypto-jacking, and theft from victims around the world for financial gain,” the official said. “We’re not ruling out further action to hold the PRC accountable.”

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Author: AnTy

IBM Granted Blockchain Gaming Consensus Patent For Massively Multiplayer Online Games

Tech giant IBM has secured a blockchain-based gaming protocol patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent, which was published today, was granted to IBM last week; and focuses on the multi-player games that are played online.

Notably, IBM had filed for the patent back in 2018 and has previously hinted at a blockchain use case for gaming, especially through Non-fungible token (NFT) innovations, which can be used assets in a game.

Dubbed the ‘Gaming consensus protocol for blockchain,’ this patent is part of IBM’s vision to create a blockchain ecosystem that supports transactions within MMO games with a big user base. Per the patent’s proposal, the participants in a particular multi-player game can leverage IBM’s blockchain consensus protocol to harmonize the game’s flow. The patent reads,

“In one embodiment, the consensus algorithm is provided as a service from the game network to any blockchain network; thus blockchain networks can delegate consensus to a distributed network of game clients within the gaming peers.”

Other than using the consensus to select subsets for transaction verification within a game, the patent also outlines that participants might receive some incentives based on their fees.

“These fees may be distributed between the participants of the consensus round (i.e., participants/users associated with each gaming peer) as an incentive, be used to maintain the network infrastructure or any other purpose that serves the gaming network and the players.”

While the patent states that participants will only leverage the consensus to order transactions, smart contract execution will remain on the blockchain unless the gaming peers have enough computing power.

“In some embodiments, smart contract execution could be moved to the massively multiplayer online gaming network if the gaming peers have sufficient computing power to perform the additional task of executing the smart contracts and if the business case allows it in terms of security and confidentiality.”

Target ecosystems include popular games such as Fortnite, Warzone, or Call of Duty; notably, this development comes as the blockchain gaming space continues to bloom.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Cryptocurrency Lending Firm Cred Files For Bankruptcy After ‘Irregularities in Funds’

Cred, a united States-based crypto lending firm, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection giving a rude shock to its customers. The legal team of Cred filed the bankruptcy papers on November 7th in the District of Delaware. The legal filings revealed that the crypto lending firm had estimated assets worth $50-$100 million while their liabilities stand at $100-500 million.

Looking at customers’ reactions who are now worried about their funds, it is apparent that the firm did not keep customers in the loop of things. The bankruptcy announcement comes in the wake of the October 28 announcement about stopping the inflow and the outflow of funds from the platform for two weeks.

In its official statement, the firm noted that the decision to file for bankruptcy was finalized to safeguard the funds and maximize the value of the platform for its creditors.

Customers Suspect Criminal Proceedings

The customers who have their funds locked with Cred believe that the firm is hiding something and believe it could be under investigation for financial fraud. These rumors were fueled by the statements made in a tweet from the official Twitter account of the company. After prohibiting the inflow and outflow of funds, the crypto lending platform on Twitter said that the suspension was because of an ongoing criminal investigation about possible “irregularities in the handling of specific corporate funds by a perpetrator.”

The suspension, along with the shady explanations, hardly convinced anyone, and shortly before their bankruptcy announcement, their trading and wallet partner Uphold terminated all associations with the lending firm.

Cred later cleared that the fraudulent activity that led to the criminal investigation did not compromise any customer info or their funds. However, many users complained about not being able to access their funds in the wake of funds inflow and outflow suspension. Cred wrote on Twitter,

“No Cred systems or customer information have been compromised. We are on track to deliver a more comprehensive update in the next 7 – 10 days.”

To which a user replied,

“The funds we invested with Cred still safe with this chapter 11 bankruptcy?”

The consumers now have to wait for the court proceedings to complete the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing before getting their hopes high.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Kraken Opens Trading For Japanese Users, Becoming 1st Exchange to Enter Japan Organically

Kraken, one of the leading crypto exchanges based in the United States, has relaunched its trading services for Japanese customers under its expansion plan in the Asia Pacific region.

Japanese customers would be able to access Kraken’s spot trading services, to begin with, according to the announcement on October 22. The exchange would offer spot trading services for Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The exchange would offer crypto-to-crypto trading pairs along with JPY-denominated pairs for trading.

Kraken claimed that it is the first foreign exchange to organically enter the Japanese market without acquiring any local exchange.

Customers Could Make Deposits in 5 Crypto Assets

The re-launched trading services in Japan by Kraken has been done under its expansion plans in the region. To encourage more customers to join the platform and make it easier for them to trade using the platform, the exchange would offer deposits in 5 crypto assets along with local JPY deposits and withdrawals. The local fiat deposit and withdrawals would be available via SBI Sumishin Net Bank.

Before its current relaunch in Japan, Kraken had already launched its Japanese customers’ services back in 2014. By 2018, it had shut its operation in the country, citing the rising cost of operations and expanding in other geographical locations.

Kraken acquired the ‘Crypto Asset Exchange Service Provider’ license last month on September 8th and started registering user accounts by September 18.

David Ripley, COO of Kraken, expressed his joy in re-entering the Japanese markets and said that Japan is a dominant crypto market, and it would prove to be a crucial point for the exchange in its expansion plan in the region. He said,

“In today’s challenging economic environment, more people are turning to cryptocurrencies to hedge against volatile markets and use cryptocurrency as a store of value.”

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Author: Hank Klinger

IOHK and The UN Launch $10k Hackathon to Fight Hunger & Climate Change Using Cardano

  • IOHK announces a partnership with the United Nations.
  • The Cardano-developer will launch a hackathon targeting the millennium development goals (MDG).

The Input-Output Hong Kong (IOHK) development team is partnering with the global humanitarian organizations, the United Nations (UN), launching a hackathon to end poverty, hunger and solve climate change. The hackathon will have a top prize of $10,000, aiming to incentivize developers to make the humanitarian millennium goals more achievable.

IOHK aims at improving the overall blockchain impact in international development using the Cardano blockchain. The hackathon proposal submission period opens on Saturday, and entries must be finalized by October 18 at 11:59 MDT. The selections will then take a week before results are released on 24th October, on the 75th anniversary of the launch of the United Nations – United Nations day.

Participants can submit any Cardano-based solutions on any of the new 17-millennium development goals set in 2015, including ending extreme poverty and hunger, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change. A pool prize of $10,000 worth of ADA, Cardano’s native token, will be released to incentivize projects to build.

The winning projects will be judged by a panel from the IOHK and UN employees, determining “an idea’s technical prowess, scalability, and social impact, as well as its financial and volunteer support.” The statement further states,

“The winning ideas will be able to seek the advice of experts from both the UN and IOHK to ensure that they are implemented in the most impactful way.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ripple Looks For Options In Europe & Asia As the US Lags Behind In Clear Crypto Laws

  • Ripple Inc. could be leaving the United States, Executive Chairman at the company, Chris Larsen, stated on Tuesday.
  • The digital payments firm is looking for options to relocate, including Singapore, Japan, the U.K, or a friendlier country to crypto as the U.S. struggles with regulation policies in the field.

In an interview with Fortune Magazine’s Jeff John Roberts during the online LA Blockchain Summit on October 6th, Ripple Inc.’s executive chairman and founder, Chris Larsen, spoke of possible relocation. The U.S. to “crypto-friendlier nations.” As one of the largest crypto firms in the country, Ripple feels undone by the lack of regulation or policies in place and is looking at options in Europe and Asia.

Over the past few years, the payments firm has faced increased scrutiny from U.S. government authorities, especially the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The securities authority has, in the past, raised claims that XRP is a security claiming Ripple should apply for a securities license – a claim Ripple has vehemently denied.

While the pursuit from the SEC could be welcome, a lack of regulation or laws governing crypto payments or blockchain innovation is key in Ripple’s decision to move from the U.S. Speaking on the issue, Larsen said,

“The message is blockchain, and digital currencies are not welcome in the U.S. You want to be in this business, you probably should be going somewhere else. To be honest with you, we’re even looking at relocating our headquarters to a much more-friendly jurisdiction.”

Larsen also said that while the move from the U.S would not completely overrule jurisdiction from the authorities, Ripple would “feel relief” to have another country be the company’s chief regulator. Circle did just this last year.

The move has raised support from some of the top cryptocurrency influencers, including TechCrunch, Crunch Base, and XRP Capital founder, Michael Arrington, who tweeted the lack of crypto regulation in the U.S. a “disaster.” Supporting the tweet, Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, wrote,

”Strongest internet companies built in the US, in part b/c of regulatory clarity. We have that opposite with blockchain + digital assets. Responsible players like Ripple aren’t looking to avoid rules; we want to operate in a jurisdiction where the rules are clear.”

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Author: Lujan Odera