Category Archives: Belgium

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New EU ICO Rules May Fall Under Crowdfunding Umbrella

The European Parliament in Brussels has taken a further step towards clarifying rules for ICOs within the nations of the European Community.

The all-party group met yesterday to examine proposals for the launching of ICOs although as yet no formal statements of intent have been made regarding the outcome of the meeting. Nicolas Brien of France Digitale did urge for haste, however, arguing that “the market wants legitimization… from every jurisdiction. In the UK it’s particularly bad, none of the banks will bank you if you have crypto”.

Two weeks ago, the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) published a draft report that offers insights into new regulatory frameworks for crowdfunding. ICOs received a notable mention in the report stating, “It takes a much-needed step towards imposing standards and protections in place for what is an excellent funding stream for tech start.”

Brien went on to explain:

“Having the certainty, but also having that legitimization, I actually welcome having a European-wide proposal because it gives people the certainty to know. I think we need to be clear whether this is a utility token or a transferable security, or how the regulator regime looks at that, but I think this can be done because an ICO is another form of crowdfunding. It’s different, but it is a form of crowdfunding.”

As is so often the case at such meeting many regulators got on to discussing the need to prevent potential fraud and scams requiring a higher level of scrutiny than is currently the case. Laura Royle of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) echoed those thoughts at the meeting commenting:

“…we certainly do see a huge potential benefit in this space for firms to raise capital from a broad array of investors and without the cost of an intermediary, but there are risks associated [such as] the potential for fraud, with a lack of transparency and the volatility.”

There are current EU estimates that as many as 81% of ICOs could result in fraud. However, if new regulations result in a higher standard than is currently evident, then this may set the example for productive projects in the future within the EU. How this will apply to ICOs within the UK is still uncertain, given the country’s departure from the EU in March of 2019.

 

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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 1st to 7th June 2018

Europe

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Poland

Government rules crypto exchanges still legal: According to latest reports from Poland, the top financial authority in the country Polish Financial Supervision ‎Authority (KNF) has announced that cryptocurrency exchanges are still legal. 

The move comes after massive media coverage which stated that cryptocurrency trading is going to be banned by the government. The government itself is looking towards adding cryptocurrency regulation in the near future but is yet undecided on the matter.

Russia

Putin rejects possibility of Crypto Ruble: Russian President Vladimir Putin has shot down the possibility of issuing a Russian crypto Ruble according to latest reports.

The President was asked about the matter at the 15th annual Direct Line Speech in which Russian public asks the president questions. While he was supportive of the crypto community and blockchain, he was clear on the fact that Russia won’t be launching a cryptocurrency soon.

Farmers village using local crypto: Russian innovation in blockchain and cryptocurrency is to be noted as farmers in a small village have started their own cryptocurrency according to latest reports.

Mikhail Shlyapnikov, self-proclaimed ‘agro-anarchist’ gave the idea to start his own cryptocurrency the Kolion but was stopped by a court order in 2015. His initial coin offering was started in April 2017 and raised over BTC 401, more than USD 510,000 only at that time.

Kolion has a fixed supply of 1 million tokens and thus is protected from inflation.

Estonia

Wind-powered crypto mining farm started in Estonia: An Estonian government-owned cryptocurrency mining operation drawing energy from a wind farm has started operations off the coast of Estonia in the cold Baltic sea, thus highlighting the massive potential of the area for cryptocurrency mining.

The Salme Wind Farm, as it was named, will provide power worth 6 MWh for mining rigs in Estonia form mining cryptocurrency. While cryptocurrency mining has been an issue worldwide, renewable sources are generally more acceptable for mining purposes.

Switzerland

Bank open for crypto companies: Swiss Bank Hypothekarbank Lenzburg has become the world’s first bank to provide business accounts to cryptocurrency and blockchain companies in the country.

While other banks like Falcon Private Bank based in Zurich have also offered crypto management services, this is the first instance of a bank offering corporate accounts to crypto startups, thus giving a further boost to the country’s crypto space.

European Union

Crypto no greater threat than conventional sources according to EU study: According to latest reports from an EU funded study, cryptocurrencies don’t pose a bigger threat in case of terror financing than traditional fiat currency options do.

The parliamentary think tank gave these findings after months of research related to terror financing in the continent. The report was commissioned by the EU parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

Netherlands

Blockchain-based land registry in Netherlands: The Dutch government’s decision to test a blockchain-based land registry system in the country is gaining attention as a testbed for revolution in real estate data management.

The government, according to Coindesk reports, is going to test the system in the near future with complete integration possible within the next 2-3 years.

Belgium

Belgium state website warns against possible crypto scams: Top Belgian markets and finance authority the Belgian Federal Public Service Economy and Financial Services & Market Authority has created a website called ‘Too Good to be True’ to warn investors about possible cryptocurrency scams. 

The website gives sensible warnings on how hackers and scammers are using the popularity of cryptocurrencies to con people out of their life savings.

Germany

Banks offering ATMs capable of converting crypto to fiat: German financial watchdog German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) has given the green light for banks to facilitate cryptocurrency ATMs. Now banks can set up Bitcoin ATMs that will allow people to convert Ether and Bitcoin to Euros, according to Trustnodes.

While banks are interested in this endeavor, no bank is currently giving this option to its customers.

 

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Belgium’s ‘Too Good to Be True’ Website Warns Investors About Crypto Scams

The Belgian Federal Public Service Economy and Financial Services & Market Authority have teamed up to create a website named ‘Too Good To Be True’ to warn investors about cryptocurrency scams, in order to protect its citizens amid a rising tide of scams as the popularity of cryptocurrency climbs.

There is a warning on the website that anyone can create a cryptocurrency, and that some people create cryptocurrencies for drug trafficking, scams, and terrorism. In reality, it is rare that an actual cryptocurrency is created solely for criminal purposes, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.

The real threat the website warns about is investment scams, where companies offer big profits and then run away with the invested coins. That’s where the name of the site is derived from: if an investment scheme seems too good to be true, it should be avoided, since it probably isn’t true.

In general, the website recommends never sharing personal information to avoid identity theft, to know who you are dealing with and get clear and understandable information from them, and to be wary of promises of high profits. Even though cryptocurrency prices have gone up tremendously in the long term, no honest person would ever guarantee profits since the markets are volatile.

The website has an integrated tool where the legitimacy of cryptocurrency websites can be verified, but the developers say they are not responsible for any errors. It would take an entire task force to verify the trustworthiness of every cryptocurrency website, so it seems unlikely that this tool is 100% accurate. In order to operate in Belgium, a cryptocurrency company must have a license, so any company that does not have a license would be considered fraudulent by this checking tool even if the rest of the world considers the company legitimate.

There is a section of the website which archives real-life stories about cryptocurrency fraud, and users of the site can submit their own stories. Stories range from getting involved in pyramid schemes, purchasing mining equipment that never showed up, fraudulent cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets being hacked, and being scammed when purchasing cryptocurrency.

The ‘Too Good To Be True’ website will help educate citizens of Belgium about cryptocurrency crime, hopefully resulting in fewer victims and a healthier cryptocurrency ecosystem.

 

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UN Gets $2.4M from Belgium for Blockchain Food Plan

The World Food Program (WFP) announced on 19 April that it had received a USD 2.4 million contribution from Belgium towards a program to finance blockchain solutions to fight global hunger.

The Belgian donation will be used to expand research of the WFP’s blockchain solutions in addition to its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project used for topographical data collection.

Belgian deputy prime minister and minister for development cooperation, Alexander De Croo, has calculated that more than 128 million worldwide will need humanitarian support this year.

“Only by finding better ways to deliver aid more efficiently will we close the gap between requirements and aid delivery on the ground,” De Croo said. “Belgium lauds the efforts of WFP to come up with innovative solutions to save more lives and help more people in need.”

WFP chief of staff Rehan Asad has expressed his gratitude towards Belgium, commenting that organizations must continue “to harness the most promising digital technologies in the service of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Using blockchain technology is not new to UN agencies. In 2017 the WFP launched an Ethereum-based payment pilot in Jordan, ‘Building Blocks’, which allowed effective transfer of cash payments to Syrians in Jordan’s refugee camps.

The UN continues to embrace new technologies in its fight against poverty, displacement, and hunger. Drones have recently been used in Mozambique, where WFP-supplied aerial vehicles were able to send flood analysis data on ahead allowing mass movement of people before they could be affected by flooding, avoiding loss of life.

The WFP, with a declared challenge of “zero hunger by 2030”, is not the only UN agency to utilize blockchain technology. The UN Office for Project Services now has a blockchain working group which includes the UN Children’s Fund and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The WFP states that it has made “great progress” in reducing hunger around the world: “There are 216 million fewer hungry people than in 1990-92, despite a 1.9 billion increase in the world’s population.”

The World Food Programme is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. According to the WFP, it provides food assistance to an average of 80 million people in 76 countries each year.

 

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