Category Archives: Canada

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Canadian Banker’s Association: Outdated Methods Must Give Way to Digital ID

Canadian Banker's Association_ Outdated Methods Must Give Way to Digital ID

The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is driving banks to move towards what it calls a “federated model” of digital IDs replacing outmoded paper models throughout the country’s financial system.

The new system suggested would link links federal and provincial systems and allow user identities to be authenticated electronically. Canada’s six largest banks have also been collaborating with SecureKey Technologies Inc for the past two years on a blockchain-based system called Verified.Me, which is now seen as one potential solution for making the switch for paper to digital a simple and efficient one.

Neil Parmenter, CBA’s CEO, wants to unlock what he calls the “full potential” of banking in Canada, arguing:

“We should be open to innovative identity verification methods like document review through a live video connection, use of blockchain, biometrics and other methods that have begun to see widespread adoption in other parts of the economy.”

CBA, which represents more than 60 domestic and foreign banks operating in the country, is looking at viable solutions to updating its current security systems in consultation with Canada’s Federal Finance Department. Its suggested form of “open banking” would allow financial data sharing with other companies and banks.

Last year, a paper released by the Bank of Canada brought forth a positive argument for the implementation of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Published on 26 July 2018, the paper written by the bank’s Senior Economist in the Funds Management and Banking Department, Mohammad R Davoodalhosseini, went into great detail to emphasize the potential economic welfare gains that a CBDC could have for both Canada and the United States.


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Canada Debates Crypto Campaign Donations as Elections Loom

Canada Debates Crypto Campaign Donations as Elections Loom

With the Canadian General Election scheduled for later this year, Elections Canada, the body responsible for overseeing federal political fundraising, is polling the relevant parties on the question of whether campaign contributions could be allowed in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Elections Canada have posted online that “with interest in cryptocurrency on the rise, political entities have requested guidance on accepting contributions and conducting other transactions in Bitcoin or altcoins”. This indicates that a change in the way donations are normally conducted may well be on the agenda, given the rise in Bitcoin’s popularity in the country.

With the relevant political parties being asked to forward their view before 21 January, there is time left. Elections Canada terms cryptocurrency donations as non-monetary, in-kind contributions, claiming:

“Like money, they can be used to make purchases from businesses that choose to accept them. But unlike money, they cannot be placed directly into a bank account. Instead, cryptocurrencies can be sold for traditional currencies that can be placed into a bank account.”

This, according to Elections Canada, puts cryptocurrencies more on a par with stocks and bonds which the body regards as “a form of property”, thereby making them a non-monetary contribution.

For its part, the draft note provided by the body takes the position that cryptocurrency donations are non-monetary, in-kind contributions. It points out this correlation to other authorities such as Elections BC (British Columbia) and the US Federal Election Commission, as well as the Canada Revenue Agency.

This would mean that such offerings would be acceptable providing that cryptocurrency donations follow the same guidelines as set for other non-monetary contributions, exempting them from tax receipts.

Currently, none of Canada‘s major political parties currently offers the option for crypto donations and to date, no party has responded to the Elections Canada request.


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Kraken’s Law Enforcement Requests Tripled Last Year

Kraken's Law Enforcement Requests Tripped Last Year

US-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken reported that the number of law enforcement requests it received in 2018 was three times that of 2017.

The infographic data shared by the exchange cites a total of 475 such requests last year, with a significant majority (315) coming from the US government despite the exchange also operating in Canada, the European Union, and Japan.

The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was responsible for the largest number of US government requests with a total of 91, followed by 67 subpoenas issued by the FBI, and 40 information requests from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Kraken wrote on Twitter, ”You can see why so many businesses choose to block US users,” noting that the costs of dealing with such law enforcement requests are ”quickly becoming a barrier to entry.”

Peek at our Compliance team’s 2018 Transparency Report. You can see why many businesses choose to block US users. Cost of handling subpoenas (regardless of licenses) is quickly becoming a barrier to entry. Inquiries up 3x YoY.

— Kraken Exchange (@krakenfx) January 5, 2019

While the US Securities and Exchange commision (SEC) made its fair share of headlines last year after cracking down on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and on cryptocurrency generally, Kraken’s data shows that there are at least 11 different government agencies directly involved with governing the industry.

The UK was responsible for the second largest number of requests to Kraken, totaling 61, followed by Denmark with 34. Kraken did not share whether the number of requests from law enforcement was at all correlated with the levels of use of the cryptocurrency exchange in each of the countries.


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Canada Urges Cannabis Retailers to Protect Customers’ Data

Canadian authorities are encouraging Canadian citizens to conduct cannabis purchases in cash in order to protect their personal information.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has published a document advising Canadian citizens that “adequate physical, technological, and organizational security measures are in place to safeguard personal information,” suggesting that that security protocols “must recognize and respond to the sensitivity of this information.”

The commissioner emphasizes that cannabis purchasers should minimize the amount of personal information given to retailers. Also, credit card purchases can be risky due to the online visibility of the credit card number and the cardholder’s name. Customers are also advised to ascertain before purchasing if their personal information is then stored online.

The reaction to this advice by eToro market analyst Mati Greenspan is that the liberalization of Canada’s cannabis sector will be a huge boon for local privacy coin adoption suggesting, “this will almost certainly increase the usage of privacy coins…in Canada,”

Under Canada’s new liberal cannabis legislation introduced in October, plants grown at home will be limited and only 30 grams will be allowed for personal possession in public. Also, strict driving legislation will allow police to track and penalize drug-impaired drivers through roadside saliva testing for over the limit THC content.

Supply chain management is sure to become a major factor under Canada’s new legislation. DMG Blockchain Solutions is currently negotiating with cannabis licensed producers, quality assurance labs, retail distributors, and government regulators, to develop a cannabis supply chain solution. DMG describes itself as a diversified blockchain and cryptocurrency company that works on end-to-end solutions to monetize blockchain’s ecosystem.

Statistics Canada says sales at cannabis stores in the two weeks following the landmark legalization totaled $43 million with different retail structures in each province and territory affecting the availability of cannabis across the country.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 23-29 November 2018

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

United States

Federal Reserve Bank Blames Bitcoin Futures Markets for BTC Price Decline: The Federal Reserve has officially blamed the launch of Bitcoin Futures Market for the recent decline in Bitcoin’s price according to a letter published on its website.

According to the online publication, Bitcoin Futures launch on December 17 last year converted the biggest bitcoin bull into a bearish situation. The Fed also goes on to make comparisons with falls in other assets’ prices after the launch of futures markets including the mortgage industry whose uptick was neutralised by the launch of mortgage securities. The dollar issuer then goes on to say that the Bitcoin could have kept rising past $20,000 if the futures had not been launched.

Federal Government Places Sanctions on Bitcoin Addresses: The United States has issued sanctions against several Bitcoin addresses as a first in the country. According to the government, the addresses were set up by two Iranians to help a ransomware scheme.

The sanctions were issued by the United States Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control. People in the US and partnering entities are now banned from sending BTC to these addresses.

Lettuce Outbreak Results in FDA Seeking Blockchain Solution: A recent lettuce E. Coli break has resulted in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to seek a blockchain-based solution for food tracking in a supply chain. 

According to Dr. Scott Gottlieb in a CNBC interview, the FDA had requested that a food safety expert formerly of Walmart to act as a food and veterinary medicine supply commissioner. Dr. Gottlieb continued on and said that the new addition will help the administration to introduce new tools for tracking food, with blockchain being looked at as a viable solution.

Court Overturns Security Designation of ICO by SEC: In one of the first ruling of its kind, a judge of the Southern District of California has declared that the security classification by SEC on an ICO was not justified. 

ICO Blockvest had been walking a tightrope when it came to security designation from the SEC, but never explicitly broke the rules according to the judgment. While the decision is unique and first-of-its-kind, the ICO is still not exonerated as other charges remain on the project.

USD Tether Restarts Direct USD Redemption: USDT is slowly returning back to its best as the stablecoin company has announced that the direct redemption of the silverback is set to be re-enabled after months of issues that even affected the price of USDT against USD in the open market.

Tether currently is the top stablecoin in the market with over $1.8 billion market cap and it is ranked seventh on cryptocurrency market cap tables.


Blockchain Association Formed With Consensys as First Member: The Central American country has seen the formation of the first blockchain association with ConsenSys starting the rostrum as the founding member.

According to Forbes Mexico, the new association has members who represent the fintech facet of the industry. Several local exchanges and hedge funds have found a seat on the table including Bitso, Volabit, Lvna Capital, etc in addition to ConsensSys.


Air Canada Partnering to Develop Blockchain Travel Solutions: Air Canada, the national flag carrier of the country is now partnering with a blockchain firm for developing a distribution system based on Blockchain technology.

Winding Tree, the partnering DLT company has created an open source blockchain marketplace where agents can arrange flights at their own commission rates.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 16-22 November 2018

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.


Ponzi Scheme Figure Arrested and Extradited to the US: OneCoin’s public face Sebastian Greenwood has been arrested and extradited to the US after the company collapsed amid Ponzi scheme allegations.

Greenwood was captured by authorities in Thailand who facilitated the transfer back to his country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a USD 400 million indictment against Mark Scott, and Greenwood is also named. He disappeared back in 2016 just before the crash of the OneCoin scam.

Crypto VC Compares Bitcoin to Post 1990s Amazon: Lou Kerner, a Bitcoin investment VC has compared Bitcoin to the post dot-com bubble Amazon. Amazon remained strong after the bubble burst of the late 1990s and is one of the most valuable companies in the world right now.

According to Kerner, the volatility is part of any long-term investment remembering how in 2013, the value was down almost 70% in one night. He said:

“Nobody likes being down like this. But this is what investing in crypto is all about.”

Kerner is overall positive regarding the future of Bitcoin.

John McAfee Partnering with Art Firm to Auction Picasso’s Works: John McAfee, the eccentric Bitcoin billionaire has now teamed up with Maecenas and ERC-20 exchange Ethershift to auction Picasso’s paintings later this year.

The initiative called Project Phoenix will plan the auction for the unnamed Picasso and made the announcement on the Maecenas website.

According to the website:

“The auctioning process will be executed using Maecenas technology. The newly created digital asset, the first of its kind, will be represented as a single ERC-721 token for the digitalized artwork. A fixed number of ERC-20 tokens will separately represent shared ownership in the physical asset.”

It is expected that the BTC payment option will be available in the proceeding because of McAfee’s involvement.

IBM and Columbia University Promoting New Blockchain Startups with Latest Courses: Two blockchain accelerator programs are being offered at Columbia University in partnership with IBM for blockchain-based firms and innovators.

According to IBM:

The goal of these programs is to help network founders develop their ideas into sustainable and scalable companies offering blockchain solutions. For those already further along in their journey, the programs are designed to help them achieve scale and build successful business networks.”

IBM is also willing to offer entrepreneurs and blockchain innovators access to expertise and resources for establishing new use cases and products.

Former SEC Commissioner Appointed in Director Role by Blockchain Company: Former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commissioner Annette Nazarath has been unveiled as a Director by blockchain company BitFury.

With Nazarath’s extensive experience as a regulator, the company will have valuable insight into the workings of financial platforms and thus the ability to design their own system accordingly.

Colorado Regulator Closes 4 Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) for Violating Laws: The Colorado Division of Securities has announced the closure of 4 ICOs who were found to be violating securities laws of the state.

Global Pay Net, CrowdShare Mining, Cyber Smart Coin, and Credits LLC were closed down by the government. Two more ICOs are expected to meet the same fate in the near future. A total of 24 cease and desist orders have been issued by the state commissioner in total.


Lawmakers Calling for AML Regulations: Canadian lawmakers are looking to tighten cryptocurrency regulations in the country to fight Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) and other illicit activities in the country.

The Blockchain Association of Canada is against the new proposed legislation in the country and is asking the government to cooperate with the sector instead of imposing unilateral sanctions.

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Canada’s Lawmakers Seek AML Regulations for Exchanges, Wallets

Canadian lawmakers are calling for tighter cryptocurrency regulations to cover anti-money-laundering (AML) and illegal activity.

Canada’s move towards further cryptocurrency regulation and transparency reflects the growing trend with governments around the world to tighten the regulatory grip on the industry. The US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) has been particularly active this year in tracking down and prosecuting fraudulent cryptocurrency exchange activity.

The new calls for AML laws follow on from plans for heightened scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges, as announced by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) earlier this year due to the increase of digital currencies on the market, some of them less reputable than others.

The three new measures were proposed from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA); they include closer monitoring of both cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets. Added to this, MPs are calling for crypto-to-fiat exchanges to be registered as money services businesses, placing exchanges under Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) supervision. FINTRAC is Canada’s federal agency for the monitoring of AML and counter-terrorist financing.

The current concern among legislators is that cryptocurrency is used for the financing of illegal activity, a common concern amongst legislators globally. It is an argument which has less traction these days after the results of numerous surveys illustrating that fiat currency is still the preferred financial tool behind organized-crime and terrorist activity. FINA’s proposal suggests:

“Law enforcement bodies must be able to properly identify and track illegal crypto-wallet hacking and failures to report capital gains.”

The government regulatory body also recommends the foundation of a licensing regime similar to that of New York State, whose BitLicense covers financial regulatory issues, independent of FinCEN rules. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury that collects and analyzes information about financial transactions in order to combat domestic and international money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.

A decision is yet to be made whether such a bureau should operate on a local level across Canada’s ten provinces or should be overseen by a federal regulator.

The Blockchain Association of Canada is not happy with the new proposals, suggesting that rather than take unilateral action, government authorities should cooperate with cryptocurrency exchanges in detecting any criminal activity.


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One of the Largest Cryptocurrency Mines in North America Begins Hashing

After months of planning, DMG Blockchain Solutions has begun mining for cryptocurrency at one of the largest cryptocurrency mines in North America. The mine is in a 27,000 square foot building in British Colombia, Canada, and has begun operations with 60 MW of power, with plans to ramp up to 85 MW – all clean hydroelectric energy that is off-grid. This is enough electricity to power 50,000 homes.

Assuming this new cryptocurrency mine uses the most efficient Bitcoin mining chips – the 7 nm chips that were developed by Bitmain which operate at 0.042 W/GH – the mine will operate at 1.4 Exahash/s at 60 MW, and 2 Exahash/s at 85 MW. With the current Bitcoin network hash rate averaging 50 Exahash/s, this represents 2.8-4% of the total hash rate. Doing a rough calculation, this new cryptocurrency mine would produce 50-70 Bitcoins per day, worth USD 320,000-440,000 per day. This may be an overestimate since the mining facility might not be using 7 nm chip technology, and some of the electricity may be used for other infrastructure associated with the mining farm.

One interesting thing to note is the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, was able to mine 50 Bitcoins every 10 minutes with a simple personal computer that barely used electricity. Ten years later today, it takes a 34-acre mining farm using 60 MW of electricity to produce 50 Bitcoins in a day.

It has taken a year to build this cryptocurrency mining supersite. A road and a new power substation had to be produced for the site, since the mining operation uses its own power grid fed by hydroelectric power, and does not interact with the normal consumer grid of British Colombia.

The CEO of DMG Blockchain Solutions, Dan Reitzik, said, “DMG now proudly owns one of the largest, most cost-efficient, bitcoin mining facilities in North America – and we’re doing it in a responsible way with the local community. It was an audacious undertaking, but DMG’s executive team has been in the mining space for years, and we have the know-how and connections with the utilities and government agencies to pull it off.”

On a final note, the creation of cryptocurrency mining supersites like this new one in British Colombia may be forcing individual miners out of the Bitcoin mining game permanently.


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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 2-8 Nov 2018

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest blockchain and cryptocurrency news, continent by continent and country by country.


Politician Tries to set Record Straight on Cryptocurrency Donations: US politician Brian Forde has tried to clarify misconceptions against cryptocurrency campaign donations in the country including lack of transparency.

Brian Forde has served previously as Senior Tech Advisor to President Obama and he was the one who educated the president about the new industry. He was also one of the first US politicians to collect cryptocurrency campaign donations during his run for the House of Representatives. He received reportedly $300,000 in donations through Bitcoin alone.

He clarified in an article that the misconceptions regarding cryptocurrency donations are false including the allegation that they cannot be traced. Forde cleared that cryptocurrencies have the same process as their fiat alternatives when it comes to campaign donations.

SEC Shuts down 12 ICOs in One Year: The Securities and Exchange Commission has shut down a dozen ICOs in one year alone, according to its official report at the end of the current fiscal year.

According to the federal regulator, these banned ICOs raised more than $68 million before they were finally shut down. Overall, the SEC confiscated, fined more than $3.945 billion during the same period overall from all violators.

SEC to Issue Simplified Crypto Guidelines: The SEC is working on clarifying when and how cryptocurrencies and ICOs can be regarded as securities by the regulator and treated as such according to a recent speech by Director of Corporate Finance.

Willian Hinman, the director said on record that the SEC was working to release new regulations in plain English to help new startups looking to offer their tokens in the market. The overall attitude despite these simplifications will remain hawkish.

Crypto-favorable Candidates Elected in US Gubernatorial Elections: According to the results of the mid-term elections of this week, five pro-crypto governors have been elected in the country. Three are newly elected governors while two pro-crypto ones have been re-elected.

The five governors are given extremely high ranking by the Digital Asset Trade Association that assigns rankings to politicians regarding their crypto-friendliness.

Bank of America Gets Tamper-proof DLT Patent: Bank of America, the country’s second-largest bank has secured a blockchain patent that can provide a useful barrier against hacking attempts on banking networks.

The patent reportedly prevents tampering by having redundant keys which can be removed from a tampered device for good.

Cryptocurrency Pioneer Says He Will Run Only for Promoting Cryptocurrencies: Famed cryptocurrency pioneer John McAfee has said that his run for the 2020 presidential elections is solely meant for the promotion of cryptocurrencies in the country.

McAfee will reportedly campaign from the Libertarian platform like in the 2016 elections. However, he has now come out and said that the only reason he is doing this is to promote cryptocurrencies in the country.


First Bitcoin-backed Loan Service Launched for Businesses and Consumers: A financial company named Ledn Inc has become the first organization to offer fiat loans in exchange for Bitcoin as collateral.

The move was founded by a Bitcoin investor Mauricio Di Bartolomeo who aims to fill the market gap for Canadians who are invested in cryptocurrencies but can’t obtain loans because of various reasons.

Marshall Islands

President in Hot Water over National Cryptocurrency Launch: The President of Marshall Islands Hilda Heine is in trouble after promoting the idea of a national cryptocurrency in the tiny Pacific nation. She will now have to face a vote of no confidence in the country’s legislature on 12 November 2018.

The current currency of the islands is USD despite the country gaining independence from the mainland forty years ago. President Heine incurred the wrath of IMF and the USA after her move to start the island’s own national cryptocurrency. Now she is facing backlash and possible impeachment in the parliament. If she wins this battle, she will launch the Sovereign (SOV) as early as next year.

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Canadian Digital Safety Deposit Box Launches for Crypto Firms

Canadian bank VersaBank announced on Thursday that its digital safety deposit box is ready for use by cryptocurrency firms.

The VersaVault project is “initiating commercialization of its services” after successfully completing beta testing, a press release reports. The custody solution can be used to “securely” store cryptocurrency assets, while the bank says it will also provide multi-signature services for digital currency investment funds and exchanges.

According to VersaBank’s Director of Investor Relations Wade MacBain, VersaVault has already prompted over 200 inquiries.

MacBain has emphasized that alongside top security, clients can also ”enjoy absolute privacy”, with the bank unable to access or view funds in a clients account; the account holder is the only entity capable of accessing or knowing what is inside their digital storage facility.

Despite producing a significant product in terms of secure cryptocurrency storage solutions, VersaBank is far from a leading financial institution in terms of size. After becoming the world’s first branchless, electronic only bank in 1993, it remains Canada’s smallest bank in terms of asset size.

Major banks have shied away from the still risky business of releasing a cryptocurrency custodial solution, with some pundits saying a secure storage product will entice more institutional investors into the cryptocurrency market.

”While many are considering ideas and plans for a digital safety deposit box, we have designed and built it,” said David Taylor, President and CEO of VersaBank.

The project was first announced in January, with two beta users signed on in March for the final stages of testing.

Gurpreet Sahota, former lead architect of cybersecurity at Blackberry, joined the project shortly after its announcement in January and has spearheaded the security aspects of the project since.


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