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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 18th to 24th May 2018

North America

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.

United States

Department of Justice opens investigations into Bitcoin price manipulations: The US Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into the currency manipulation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The DOJ’s notable concern was that the volatility of the market comes with a suspected potential for investors and traders to influence price in their favor. In addition to price manipulation, DOJ is also looking at fraudulent activity due to lack of regulation.

Former Obama advisor attacked with anti-Bitcoin adverts: Ex-Obama advisor Brian Forde is being attacked for accepting donations in Bitcoin by Dave Min, a rival Democrat competing for a seat in the House of Representatives. The move comes despite the Federal Election Commission ruling that allowed donations to be received in Bitcoin.

The ad targeted Forde for being associated with hackers and malicious activities. In response, Forde said:

“These comments about my supporters are sensationalist, wildly inaccurate, and in line with my opponent’s lack of understanding of the technology… If they were speculating, they wouldn’t have donated to my campaign in Bitcoin. They didn’t HODL, they donated to my campaign in Bitcoin because they believe in the technology.”

Bitcoin Pizza transaction now worth $80 million: The Laszlo Hanyecz story is a legend in Bitcoin world as the person purchased two large pizzas in 2010 with BTC 10,000. Now, after eight years, the Bitcoins are worth USD 80 million and increasing every year.

The legendary story is seen as a missed opportunity for HODL and the first instance in which a major company accepted payment in Bitcoin. Hanyecz had mined the Bitcoins on his personal computer. On 23 May or Bitcoin Pizza Day, the crypto world looks back at how far it has come from BTC 10,000 for two large pizza eras.

Walmart integrating blockchain to Help with Sales: American retail giant Walmart has filed a patent for an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a sales platform that uses blockchain technology. The platform was designed by Donald R High, Michael D Atchley, and Chandrashekar Natarajan.

This is a big milestone for the future development of blockchain startups as Walmart is one of the biggest companies in the world with 11,700 stores in 28 countries. The application allows users to re-sell products from Walmart using blockchain as proof of authenticity.

Federal Trade Commission holds workshop for ICO Scams: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a cryptocurrency workshop to address the considerable challenges that ICOs pose for investor security because of the possibility of scams. The conference called Decrypting Cryptocurrency Scams will comprise law enforcement, research organizations and consumer groups in the space.

The conference will allow the FTC to make new protections for consumers in the future by getting their feedback.

Warren Buffet taunted for his anti-Bitcoin views: Warren Buffet’s anti-Bitcoin views are universally disliked in the cryptocurrency space and Genesis Mining, a mining company purchased a billboard sign right outside his office to taunt him on his views on Bitcoin.

It reads: “Warren: you said you were wrong about Google and Amazon. Maybe you’re wrong about Bitcoin?”

Buffet’s dislike for new tech is obvious but he is the third richest man in the world due to his successful investments in conventional enterprises including banking and stocks.

Only 5 companies holding BitLicense in New York: New York’s notorious BitLicense has resulted in only five cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the city. The grand total only got to five recently when the New York Department of Financial Services gave a new license to Genesis Global Trading Inc.

Stringent BitLicense policies include AML, KYC, anti-fraud and cyber security measures but it is widely seen as a roadblock for further development of cryptocurrencies.

Canada

Unlicensed crypto trader jailed: An unlicensed Canadian crypto trader was jailed in the US after admitting undercover federal agents that he was trading in Bitcoin.

Louis Ong, a trader from Vancouver has received a 20-day sentence in the US after running an unlicensed cryptocurrency trading platform. Ong also had to forfeit over USD 1.1 million worth of Bitcoin to the investigators and was given three years of supervised release.

Ong claims that it wasn’t his intention to break the law and most of the trading he did was on legal channels.

Sweeping operation launched by US and Canada: US and Canadian governments launched investigations into 70 suspect ICOs and cryptocurrency scams in a wide-ranging operation called ‘Crypto Sweep’.

The operation by the combined North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) was termed only as “the tip of the iceberg” by the association by the president Joseph Borg.

Marshall Islands

Government breaks away from US Dollar and launches crypto: The Marshall Islands are looking to break away from the US Dollar and launch their own cryptocurrency called Sovereign.

The tiny Pacific nation is in free association with the US but is now looking for greater economic independence. The government has already signed the move into a new law.

 

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 2017 Bad Year for Aussie Crypto Scams as US Launches ‘Cryptosweep’

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced on Monday that consumers lost more than USD 2.1 million to cryptocurrency scams last year, CoinDesk reported.

Of this figure, the ACCC reported, consumers lost approximately USD 100,000 per month between January and September of 2017. These losses increased in December to USD 200,000 when Bitcoin price rose to nearly USD 20,000, recording losses of more than USD 700,000. The commission noted that these figures showed a correlation between the number of scams and the price of Bitcoin.

The common cause of consumer losses was due to scams involving fake ICOs, cryptocurrency pyramid schemes, and ransomware payments.

Although the figure is high, it was noted that scams overall last year Australians lost more than USD 340 million, with USD 64 million being lost to investment scams specifically last year.

Cryptocurrency fraud is by no means limited to Australia, with fraud occurring in all countries which have a crypto market. In North America, seven scams and hacks last year netted around USD 490 million of consumer funds for the criminals. The Wall Street Journal has reported that of the 1,450 ICOs it reviewed, 271 had “red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams”.

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) has launched its own task force to attempt to clean up the crypto space in the US and Canada, primarily by conducted thorough investigations of ICOs and cryptocurrency related products, according to CoinDesk.

The investigation, labeled ‘Operation Cryptoweep’ according to statements, has involved to date “nearly 70 inquiries and investigations and 35 pending or completed enforcement actions since the beginning of the month”.

The Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) conducted its own survey on cryptocurrency crime recently in an investigation involving 32 cryptocurrency investment plans over four weeks.  The report indicated that almost two-thirds of these promoters did not give investors a physical address and that five out of the 32 promoters did not disclose any investment risks, as well as the risk of cybersecurity threats and hacks, and instead simply promised gains of up to 40% every month.

Joseph Rotunda, the TSSB’s Enforcement Division director, commented that “the market for cryptocurrency investments is saturated with widespread fraud, and our work is only revealing the tip of the iceberg”.

 

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Global State Bank Crypto Adoption Still in Its Infancy

With banks increasingly switching on to the current global interest in cryptocurrencies, digital currencies are now being utilized by the same institutions they were designed to subvert, writes Cointelegraph.

More and more banks around the world see blockchain as a panacea to banking issues, all long overdue for improvement and update. They are realizing that, due to today’s already digitalized banking, which has changed the nature of payment and storage of monies, the technology behind Bitcoin clearly has a place within global financial systems.

Only a fraction of money is paper money bills in circulation, and current digital systems lack speed, stability and security. This, coupled with customer demand, as in the case of Goldman Sachs’s adoption of a digital dollar recently, is driving many nations to consider or actively support central bank cryptocurrency.

Governments and central banks from India, Japan, Canada, Russia, Switzerland to Singapore and the Marshall Islands are all currently looking into a government-backed digital currency. Several other governments, including China, Estonia, and Iran, have discussed plans for their own digital currency. Of these, the Marshall Islands have taken one step further and plan to issue its own cryptocurrency that will be circulated as legal tender along with the US dollar.

Singapore has project UBIN and the Bank of Canada has Project Jasper, while the United States is toying with the idea of a FedCoin. Last year, in the Middle East, the Bank of Israel was considering a digital Shekel.

In Sweden, many retail stores no longer accept paper money and some Swedish bank branches no longer disburse or collect cash. In response, the Riksbank has a current project in progress examining the viability of an e-Krona for retail payments.

Crypto-friendly Switzerland is looking towards the viability of a Swiss National Bank (SNB) e-Franc, but has little support within the Swiss government. The often controversial Venezuelan Petro, seen as both an economy saver and possible sanction breaker, was launched in February 2018 to supplement the plummeting bolivar fuerte, reportedly backed by the nation’s oil reserves.

In Russia, deputy minister of economic development Oleg Fomichev suggested the proposed CryptoRuble, conceived in a climate of heavy anti-crypto sentiments regarding adoption by private companies but nonetheless in state hands, becoming another powerful sanction breaker in the current political climate. Russian president Vladimir Putin stated that the Stone Age has not ended because humanity has run out of stones, but because new technologies have appeared.

“If if central banks were to back cryptocurrencies, the central banks would be better positioned to predict money demand and therefore adjust supply accordingly,” writes Mohamed Damak of S and P Global, adding, “It is still too early to tell in which direction this instruments will move.”

Alternatively, he writes, “If cryptocurrencies were to take off and become an effective currency issued in a decentralized manner, the impact on monetary policy implementation would be deep, since central banks might lose their ability to control the money supply.”

It is a view more closely aligned to Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision.

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 11th to 17th May 2018

North America

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.

USA

Crypto markets likely to surge with Wall Street interest: Crypto markets may be up for a boost amid interest from Wall Street according to BKCM digital asset former founder and CNBC contributor Brian Kelly. Kelly maintains the opinion that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Goldman Sachs’s entry into the crypto space will increase popularity of crypto markets.

But, it was also reported that NYSE won’t be launching a futures market but instead a regular cryptocurrency trading desk or app where customers can trade in cryptocurrencies like stocks.

According to NY Times:

“The parent company of the New York Stock Exchange has been working on an online trading platform that would allow large investors to buy and hold Bitcoin, according to emails and documents viewed by The New York Times.”

Elon Musk challenges Warren Buffet’s take on crypto: Warren Buffet’s anti-cryptocurrency views are famous around the globe and constantly draw flak from pro-blockchain figures. Recently, Elon Musk was involved in a social media exchange with his rival that led to a light-hearted jab.

Elon Musk said in response to Buffet’s rigid ideas on cryptocurrency in a tweet: “ok ok, just for the sake of argument, what do you wish for Candy? Cryptocandy?”

The reference was a light jab at Buffet’s investment in See’s Candy. Musk hasn’t taken to much of a strong stance on cryptocurrencies but the tweet shows he is ready to defend the currency and the tech.

Mutual fund VP says blockchain to drive companies into next industrial revolution: Mutual fund Federated Investors’ VP and portfolio manager Steve Chivarone has ranked blockchain as one of the top five techs that will usher the world into the next industrial revolution.

Chivarone went beyond that and said blockchain could become an “economic driver” along with robotics, AI and IOT.

He said, “When you think about it from an enterprise perspective, it has the ability to replace reconciliation, which is expensive and requires back-office and time and paperwork with more instantaneous verification […] that will allow cost to be cut and that savings [sic] to be passed along.”

Microsoft and Amazon adapting to blockchain: Two of the biggest companies in the world, Microsoft and Amazon, are now trying multiples approaches to get into the blockchain space as part of their transition into decentralized economy and cashless society.

Microsoft had been one of the pioneers in the business it has already toyed with Bitcoin payments in the Xbox and Windows store but is now looking at its technology for the future rather than just monetary value.

Similarly, Amazon has been under pressure to start accepting cryptocurrency payments. While that is not possible right now, Amazon has announced that it is looking into blockchain-related proposals for its Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The involvement of both these tech giants is seen as a boost by the crypto community.

Californian candidate running on pro-crypto platform: Californian politician Brian Forde is running on a pro-crypto platform for Congress. The candidate is aiming to become the representative of the 45th District seat in Washington and is promising to bridge the gap between the government and the crypto community.

Speaking at an Ethereum summit in Queens he said:

“What I want to do is create transparency for the voice of the citizen, so that if I do make a decision that’s not consistent with what all the votes said, then I’ve got to explain myself.”

New York looking to become blockchain hub: The New York Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) has announced that it is taking initiatives to make the city a Blockchain hub in the country. With Blockchain Week underway in the city, several plans for the future of cryptocurrencies have been proposed. The development of a Blockchain Center is one of the initiatives and its purpose is to educate and raise awareness of the groundbreaking technology.

New York’s notorious BitLicense requirements are seen as anti-crypto policy and that may well change following this move by the administration.

NYC Blockchain Week underway: The first Blockchain Week is underway. The inaugural edition is taking place in partnership between NYDEC and CoinDesk.

Over 8,000 attendees are likely to participate in the conference and speakers include Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis President James Bullard and CEO FedEx Corp Fredrick Smith according to co-sponsors Coindesk.

After parties will include a bash hosted by Ripple featuring Snoop Dogg.

Canada

Bank of Canada says blockchain effective for securities settlements: Canada’s central bank and Toronto Stock Exchange has said that blockchain technology is an effective method for automating securities exchange in real time.

British Columbia regulator warns against investing in crypto: British Columbia securities regulator has voiced the same concerns as his Ontario counterpart by coming out against investment in cryptocurrencies because of the risk of financial scams.

The official channel of the commission states that residents should take extreme caution in deciding whether or not to buy cryptocurrencies.

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 4th to 10th May 2018

North America

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.

USA

New York cryptocurrency probe continues: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s resignation might have brought a slight relief for cryptocurrency exchanges but the department says that the probe will continue in the near future. Schneiderman resigned within three hours after reports emerged of physical abuse to four women but this won’t stop any investigation into the operations of cryptocurrency exchanges, 13 of whom are under investigation.

The Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative was launched by Schneiderman on 17 April, just a few weeks before his time abruptly came to an end. The office had sent letters to 13 exchanges including (1) Coinbase, Inc. (GDAX); (2) Gemini Trust Company; (3) bitFlyer USA, Inc.; (4) iFinex Inc. (Bitfinex); (5) Bitstamp USA Inc.; (6) Payward, Inc. (Kraken); (7) Bittrex, Inc.; (8) Circle Internet Financial Limited (Poloniex LLC); (9) Binance Limited; (10) Elite Way Developments LLP (Tidex.com); (11) Gate Technology Incorporated (Gate.io); (12) itBit Trust Company; and (13) Huobi Global Limited (Huobi.Pro).

The New York BitLicense is widely seen as one of the harshest cryptocurrency laws in existence that outlaws all Bitcoin dealers and exchanges and requires extensive legal costs to acquire. Only four companies have been granted permission under the law and the rest of these exchanges face continuing troubles.

Texas securities board issues cease-and-desist letters to crypto exchanges: The Texas Securities Board (TSSB) has served two cease-and-desist letters to cryptocurrency exchanges because it believes they are scams. The Exchanges BTCRUSH and Forex EA & Bitcoin Investment LLC have been involved in promising returns of up to 4.1% daily and 1000% per 21 days profit and that caught the attention of the TSSB as a possible scam.

While the companies disguise themselves as mining companies, they are far from such because mining profits aren’t this much at all which reinforces the belief by the state board that these are not real mining companies.

Violating this order can result in USD 5,000 fine and two years in state prison. The exchanges have the option to request a hearing within 31 days.

Wisconsin seeks approval for Bitcoin campaign donations: The Wisconsin state Ethics Commission has asked the state legislators to decide on whether campaign contributions made in cryptocurrency can be allowed by the state or not, according to a report by Washington Times.

The Senate and assembly action committees have asked to provide clarity regarding the new currencies and whether candidates may be able to accept cryptocurrencies or not. US states are still mostly seen as skeptical towards cryptocurrency donations to campaigns. Wisconsin Libertarian party Chairman Phil Anderson has asked to allow cryptocurrencies due to their popularity and conversion to fiat at the time of receipt is also being discussed.

Kentucky Derby opens for crypto for the first time: The famous Kentucky horse race event will accept cryptocurrency wagers according to wide reports from the media. The horse race takes place in Louisville, Kentucky every year and is part of a two-week festival in the small state which is world famous for its gambling and other activities like the Grand National in the UK and Melbourne Cup in Australia.

Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin are being cited as top cryptocurrencies being fared in wagers this year as punters rush to get a bet on their favorite horse rider. 

US Racing’s operations director Tim Maxwell said: “…both the legality and associated risk management of accepting cryptocurrency needs further clarification before we see widespread adoption in the gaming and racing industry as a whole.”

Oracle to roll out blockchain products: California-based ERP giant Oracle has announced that it is ready to roll out blockchain-based platform-as-a-service products for clients around the world according to a news piece from Bloomberg.

The company had over USD 37.3 billion in sales last year and this could be a big news for blockchain-based businesses as enhanced security and functionality would mean more investment in the sector especially in the Oracle’s space.

Millennials prefer Bitcoin over other investments and trading options: A recent survey has discovered that millennials in the US are starting to prefer investment in Bitcoin over other traditional ventures including stocks. More than 27% will prefer investing USD 1,000 in Bitcoin rather than in stocks, according to the survey.

Millennials who came of age around the 2008 financial crisis had a hard time and they blame the big banks and corporations for the whole mess so it is no surprise that they see Bitcoin’s transparency and profit-making capability as a viable alternative.

Canada

Blockchain startup flees from US to Canada: CBlocks, a Miami-based cryptocurrency company has announced that it is moving to Canada due to regulatory troubles and uncertainty in the United States. The firm had been trying to clear legal hurdles in the US for a while but has eventually decided to move to its northern neighbour, signalling a potential exodus from the US.

Austen Bunsen, one of the co-founders of the company said: “They can’t agree as to whether we’re a money services business or not.”

Getting a precise answer to this question is tricky as the Securities and Exchange Commission of the US has been reluctant to classify blockchain businesses as either.

Canadian bank says crypto is the future: Canadian bank ATB Alphabeta has voiced its support for cryptocurrencies and blockchain by saying they are the future. Many such businesses have to continue to rely on banks due to a variety of reasons and in countries like India, banks have refused to entertain them. This is one of the rare instances where a bank has actually credited cryptocurrencies as  the future in the fintech space.

While the bank has acknowledged that Bitcoin is currently taboo in banking circles due to its unorthodox approach, anonymity and other features, ATB is ready to become progressive and become Canada’s leader in the business.

 

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Kentucky Derby Is Open for Crypto on the Big Day

It has been widely reported that this year’s Kentucky Derby held on Saturday, 5 May will be attracting more cryptocurrency wagers that at any previous running of the famous race.

The Kentucky Derby is a horse race that is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. It is become an institution in the US, similar to the Grand National in the UK and the Melbourne Cup in Australia.

US Racing notes reports that Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin will feature in wagers far more prominently this year as punters rush to get a bet on the derby. This despite digital currency still needing further acceptance by betting companies. US Racing’s operations director Tim Maxwell notes:

“…both the legality and associated risk management of accepting cryptocurrency needs further clarification before we see widespread adoption in the gaming and racing industry as a whole.”

Maxwell suggests that the reluctance by companies to fully endorse the use of Bitcoin in the gaming and racing industry as a whole is its volatility, adding an unwanted layer of risk management. He does suggest, however, that companies based in the UK, Malta, and Canada are expected to accept Bitcoin payments on a trial basis by early to mid-2019, followed by land-based racebooks and casinos in late 2019 and early 2020.

A blockchain startup chain, Ethorse, allows punters to use ETH to back their favorite coin in the same way they would back a horse on the Kentucky Derby. Maxwell comments: “Punters will be game for a flutter on whether BTC will beat XRP in a match up or if ETH will win by a nose. Just because it is blockchain doesn’t preclude people from making a bet.”

The Crypto Currency Investors Club in US southern state Georgia enjoys it very first gathering of friends for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. It promises “…an artsy, derby themed Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency community event”. Attendees can enjoy a glass of mint julep, watch a live stream of the race and place a wager (Bitcoin of course) on one of the renamed “CryptoDerby” horses.

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018

North America

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.

USA

Goldman Sachs announces Bitcoin futures trading: Prominent Wall Street banker Goldman Sachs has announced that it plans to trade in Bitcoin futures after a crucial decision by the bank’s board of directors, as reported by the New York Times.

This significant decision that may pave the way forward for Bitcoin’s validity as a currency or a genuine asset came after the bank’s customers requested the board to trade in Bitcoin. The bank will officially start trading in cryptocurrencies within a few weeks according to these latest reports.

Largest car manufacturers form blockchain alliance: World’s largest carmakers including US giants General Motors and Ford have joined other brands to launch the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI). Other members of the partnership include Bosch, Hyperledger, IOTA, IBM and dozens of other big companies as part of the 30-strong group.

MOBI was established to create common standards to enable data sharing and making transportation safer, affordable and accessible with the help of blockchain technology.

Chris Ballinger, CEO of MOBI said, “Blockchain and related trust enhancing technologies are poised to redefine the automotive industry and how consumers purchase, insure and use vehicles… by bringing together automakers, startups, and government agencies, we can accelerate adoption for the benefit of businesses, consumers and communities.”

Regulators seek legal pathway for ICOs: Regulators at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are looking for a solution to facilitate the launching of ICOs in the country within current securities law in the country.

According to Robert Jackson, commissioner at the SEC, SEC still has several concerns when it comes to ICO fraud but he also suggested a legal method for raising cryptocurrency funds could be a viable alternative.

He said, “Investors are having a hard time telling the difference between investments and fraud. Down the road, I think we will be thinking about ways to make those investments work consistent with our securities laws.”

His is among other positive voices in the SEC coming out for the last few weeks.

Crypto under microscope in SEC hearing: Various issues were discussed during the latest SEC meeting on 26 April including an approach towards token sales and classifications. SEC has previously argued that coins sold in token sales can only be termed as securities and thus cannot be self-regulated according to current law.

Other issues in the hearing included the designation of Ethereum token Ether as a security considering its decentralization. While there is no consensus on the decision, there are several positive voices in the commission wishing for a better outcome for the cryptocurrency circles.

Republican Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer went as far as to say: “People tend to fear what they don’t know. If people sailing the oceans at the time of Columbus had believed the world is flat, we wouldn’t have had the great discoveries of the New World.”

Bitcoin like a regular currency – St Louis Federal Reserve: The Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis has in an official piece declared that the Bitcoin is valid as a currency.

The post on its official website, titled ‘Three Ways Bitcoin is Like a Regular Currency’ reads:

“Bitcoin units have no intrinsic value but also currencies such as the US dollar, the euro, and the Swiss franc… have no intrinsic value either.”

This is a bold statement from this part of the Federal Reserve and may go against the policies of the bank itself.

Blockchain way forward to cashless economy – Ex-Fed VP: Ex-Fed vice president Rod Garrott has said that blockchain is the way forward to introducing a cashless economy in the country. He made these comments at a recent MIT Business conference in April in Boston along with other claims that banks will soon start adopting Blockchain.

While a cashless society could be a far cry right now, it is a futuristic concept that fascinates many.

Canada

Canada gets best rank as blockchain nation: Canada’s coin economy is increasing and it is quickly becoming a world leader in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology behind the UK and US. Canada is home of Ethereum, the world’s largest programmable blockchain and second only to Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization for a long time.

Emin Gun Sirer, Cornell professor of computer science said, “The Ethereum nodes are both in the latency space, and also geographically, more distributed around the world, as opposed to Bitcoin nodes, which tend to be located in data centers.”

Vitalik Buterin, Toronto-based Ethereum founder is leading the nation’s development in cryptocurrencies and fintech. More than 70 projects have been invested in by the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) in Toronto alone.

Quebec hydropower company suspends requests for power: After investing considerable sums in cryptocurrency mining operations, miners in Quebec, French Canada have taken a major hit as the state’s power company Hydro-Quebec has announced that it is putting all mining operations’ requirement of electricity on hold.

What happened was that all requests from miners for additional power were deemed excessive, taking up a quarter of all the state’s total power generation capacity.

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Jonathan Côté said, “At the moment, the volume of requests that we have received from the cryptomining scene is very large. We’re talking about more than 10,000 megawatts.”

It remains to be seen how much of this can be met by the Canadian power company.

 

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4000 New Bitcoin ATM’s for Argentina Follows Global Trend

US ATM distributor, Odyssey Group, has announced that it has pre-agreements to install 4000 Cryptocurrency ATMs throughout Argentina, after an easing of regulations by the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA)

The new laws enable the installation of ATMs, of any kind, to be installed in supermarkets, shopping malls, and cinemas. Until now, operating licenses have only been issued to Argentinian company Bancelo and international Link networks, providing they site their machines on banking premises.  The new legislation has broadened location rules and also opened up the market to independent players.

Odyssey Group CEO, Sebastian Ponceliz, explains that company platform, Octagon, “… allows the ATM user to obtain cash, exchange cryptocurrencies, obtain microcredits, transfer money and many other functions through electronic wallets.” Ponceliz has said that the planned 4000 ATMs is only a small part of the BRCA’s expected 30,000 machines to be installed across Argentina due to the new legislation.

Worldwide

Bitcoin ATMs are a becoming a global phenomenon, breaking down the entry barrier of identity verification by allowing the public to use cash or a debit card to purchase BTC immediately. The transaction issues a physical paper receipt with a QR code on it allowing users to scan that code into any wallet.

Bitcoin ATMs are becoming a more common sight, particularly in major capitals or centers, and the US currently has the greatest total of around 1,700 machines nationwide. Statistics show that there are now more Bitcoin ATMs than traditional banking machines being installed currently, with on average, five new machines being positioned each day.

There are now approximately 3000 Bitcoin ATMs installed in 67 countries and nearly half of these support altcoins as well as Bitcoin. In 2017 the number of Bitcoin ATMs doubled from just 954 to 2,028. Surprisingly Asia only has just 2.16 of the world total with the US, Canada and The UK leading the way.

China’s last ATM

China now has one Bitcoin ATM, after its cryptocurrency shut down, it’s been moved from a cafe in Shanghai’s Zhangjiang high-tech park where it was used by employees.  In now stands in the lobby of the headquarters of BTCC, one of the worlds oldest crypto exchanges. The machines’ screen shows that there’s ‘no bitcoin available for trading.’

Image Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/atm-money-cash-payment-finance-2923515/ jarmoluk

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 13th to 19th April 2018

North America

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.

 

USA

Authorities launch major investigation into Bitcoin trading: The attorney general for the US district of New York has launched an investigation into one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country with big exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini and others under the radar for any financial wrong play.

The Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative could result in more regulations for these cryptocurrencies.

According to the prosecutor:

“With cryptocurrency on the rise, consumers in New York and across the country have a right to transparency and accountability when they invest their money… Our Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative sets out to change that, promoting the accountability and transparency in the virtual currency marketplace that investors and consumers deserve.”

Kraken refuses to share data: Crypto exchange Kraken has already locked horns in battle with the exchange openly saying that it won’t comply with the Attorney General’s requests for information if asked.

Kraken co-founder and CEO Jesse Powell’s Tweeted:

“The resource diversion for this production is massive. This is going to completely blow up our roadmap!”

Powell also said that his company’s decision to pull out from New York to “dodge this bullet” was well thought out because the district already requires a “BitLicense” from the New York State department of financial services. Several companies already have the license, including Coinbase, Ripple, Circle and bitFlyer.

StableCoin initiative in US raises more than $133 million from major VC firms: An American blockchain initiative called Basis (formerly Basecoin) aiming to provide a non-volatile cryptocurrency for the masses called StableCoin has raised more than USD 133 million in funding from a pool of major investors from VC funds including Bain Capital Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.

The project was launched in 2017 to provide a coin that could become the basis of automated operations of a blockchain-based central bank. According to founder Nader Al-Naji, cryptocurrencies are now too much volatile to use and StableCoin is an attempt to bring much-needed stability in cryptocurrency markets.

Blockchain technology to help homeless Texans: Texas capital Austin is working on a blockchain platform that helps address the identity management crisis of its sizeable homeless population. The pilot program aims to become an identification platform for the government to provide financial and medical support to the city’s over 2,000 homeless population. Most of them face issues in accessing these services because of identity-related issues. The homeless population is increasing and could increase by over several thousands more.

The project is being financed by Bloomberg Philanthropies under a Mayors Challenge Program that is seeing 35 cities across the US being awarded pilot grants. The top city from this group will be eligible for a funding of USD 5 million for making the best social impact in their city.

Blockchain-based ID system will allow these homeless people to obtain the services they need to get back on their feet and become productive members of the society according to Austin’s chief innovation officer Kerry O’Connor.

 

Canada

Canadian companies moving to crypto mining from natural resources: Prominent Canadian companies Divestco and Bird River Resources have joined hands in a massive digital currency mining venture according to latest news from the Great White North. The partnership by these two companies is publicly listed and their specialities in different fields outside of fintech and cryptocurrencies showcase the growth of the cryptocurrency sector in the country.

According to Ty Pfeifer, Director of Bird River Resources: “Electricity is one of the largest expenses in running a commercial cryptocurrency mining operation… securing low-cost electricity through our joint cogeneration facility provides us with an impressive competitive advantage.”

The venture will compete with other Canadian companies looking to take advantage of low electricity prices for mining exploits.

 

Mexico

US billionaire with fortune in crypto dies in Mexico: Matthew Mellon, the US billionaire who made a fortune in digital currency has died in a Mexican rehabilitation centre, according to a press release from his family. Mellon had a history of drug addiction and is widely known as one of the early backers of the Ripple (XRP) digital currency. Mellon historically turned a USD 2 million investment into USD 1 billion as XRP went on to become the third largest cryptocurrency in the world.

 

The post North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 13th to 19th April 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

Quebec Government Defends Bitcoins Liberty

The Chief Scientist of Quebec, Rémi Quirion, has published a report on Bitcoin, taking an in-depth look at the state of legality that Bitcoin faces on a day-to-day basis. It finds no direct link between Bitcoin and criminal activities.

Quirion disagrees with accusations such as that by BlackRock CEO Larry Fink who labelled Bitcoin as “an index of money laundering”, saying that Bitcoin’s distributed ledger technology has helped law enforcement agencies track down illegal activities with ease.

“Bitcoin is not above the law, nor is it a magnet for illicit transactions: it forms only a tiny part of the criminal money circulating around the planet. The reason: it is less attractive for anyone who wants to make transactions without leaving a trace,” said Quirion.

The Center for Sanctions and Illicit Finance of the Defense of Democracies Foundation’s study found that funds linked to criminal activities accounted for only 0.61% of money entering the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

The percentage of Bitcoin transactions as a whole related to money laundering has decreased over the last five years, from 1.07% to a minuscule 0.12% in 2016.

The report cited that Bitcoin was still unregulated, although the Quebec government insists that companies must obtain a crypto specific license before operating a cryptocurrency exchange in the country.

While these figures might challenge commonly-held views about Bitcoin, they come as little surprise to veteran Bitcoin users. Others argue that fiat currency, in particular, the US dollar still ranks highly as currency favored by criminals.

 

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