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Coinbase Adds Latin America and Southeast Asia to Its Expanding Client Base

Coinbase Adds Latin America and Southeast Asia to Its Expanding Client Base

US cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase is to add 11 new markets in Latin America and Southeast Asia as part of its current global expansion programme.

This is hot on the trail of its expansion in the UK market seeing revenue growth of 20% to USD 173 million, and the recent announcement of its new Coinbase card. In 2018, the exchange recorded USD 520 million in revenue according to Reuter’s latest figures.

The Visa card, linked with the Coinbase Card app for iOS and Android, is only available to UK account holders, although there are plans to add support for other European countries in the future. The card will allow worldwide purchases where crypto payments are available online or in store.

Latin America has been in Coinbase’s sights for some time, so the access to trading services in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile won’t come as a huge surprise to those in the region, given the company’s desire to spread its services to all corners of the globe.

Southeast Asia has a booming cryptocurrency market with Japan and South Korea leading the way, so a move towards capturing a piece of the market in the region is a sound move with India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Zealand customers now having access to Coinbase services.

With 53 countries now using Coinbase services including the recently added Andorra, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Lithuania, and Iceland, the San Francisco-based company has thrown down the gauntlet to other major exchanges in its bid to become the globally dominant cryptocurrency exchange.

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Chilean Government Moves to Tax the Cryptocurrency Sector

Chilean

The Chilean government has decided to expand the tax net by including the burgeoning cryptocurrency market in the country. The Internal Revenue Service (Servicio de Impuestos Internos, SII) has recently amended the taxpayers’ Annual Income Tax Returns form by adding a section for crypto assets.

Last year, the Chilean government decided to omit cryptocurrencies from Value-Added Tax (VAT) and classified them as “intangible assets.” But it seems Chileans will have to eventually pay taxes on crypto-related earnings since it adds up to their total income. To keep track of that, the Chilean government has included a new section in the forms, making the taxpayers declare “their own income and/or third-party income from cryptocurrencies companies that declare their effective income.”

This development accompanies an official notification by the director of the SII, Fernando Barraza, who has made it mandatory for all crypto traders to register their operations through “tax-exempt invoices”. The move also aims to monitor the exponentially increasing crypto activity in the country and “offers legitimacy to cryptocurrencies,” where people are increasingly using them as “valid currencies to trade products and services.”

In an interview, a member of an NGO Bitcoin Chile and tax attorney Patrício Bravo revealed that the Chilean cryptocurrency community has been eagerly waiting for SII’s input. He added,

“[The SII] has arranged taxation in the broadest possible way, this is apparently due to two objectives: on one hand expand the tax structure as much as possible to cover all types of crypto assets and, on the other hand, due to the current lack in Chilean legislation of figures specifically designed for this type of instruments, which makes it difficult to generate more specific items.”

The crypto traders will be looking at the changes rather nervously since they already have had their fair share of bureaucratic problems that included blocking of their current accounts by all major banks. That was followed by long and ugly legal battles which resulted in the Third Chamber of the Chilean Supreme Court rejecting their appeals and siding with the banks. But the investors will be hoping for a bit of relief and better news from these latest developments.

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Bitcoin in the Americas: The Changing Face of Money in Latin America

bitcoin, america, latin america, cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies are on the march in South America despite the continent’s relatively small slice in the global ownership breakdown.

The number of users of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dash continues to swell in many Latin American countries, and historically it is not hard to see why.

The last World Bank study revealed that as few as 49 percent of adults in the region had access to traditional banking, mainly due to the costs inflicted on potential new customers, and the bureaucracy involved in setting up a bank account. However, the deep penetration of smartphones continues to give autonomy to many without banking facilities by enabling them to conduct simple financial transactions using Bitcoin. South Americans love cash, it has always been the mainstay of a market economy, with credit cards still little used by much of the community for similar reasons as those for circumventing the traditional banking system.

Venezuela

Countries suffering inflation are currently the key drivers of Bitcoin and alternative currencies in South America and the mother of all these currently in Venezuela. For this reason, the movers and shakers of the crypto space in South America are rarely out of the press. Venezuela and Columbia are now almost joined at the hip, with President Maduro’s economic crisis causing refugees to flee across Venezuela’s nearest border.

With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting that Venezuelans may face consumer prices that will “increase by 10 million percent over the course of 2019,” many nationals have been forced to flee, or remain but shun the traditional economy by using bitcoin as a tool.

In terms of tracking the rise of Bitcoin in the Americas, the numbers speak for themselves. The latest statistics show Venezuela’s weekly Bitcoin Volume increasing from 11 BTC in the first week of January 2017 to a staggering 190 BTC in the first week of January 2019. Volume-wise, the figures are equally impressive with trade volume in Venezuela up to 252 BTC in the last week of 2018. President Maduro’s saving grace, the Petro, backed by huge oil reserves has been a failure, and the country has turned to more traditional cryptocurrencies in order to bypass the worthless national currency, the Bolivar.

Bitcoin is now recognized as the only way of getting around the country’s currency controls, and bitcoin mining offers Venezuelans a chance to pay for good imported from overseas. Although the process is not sanctioned for individuals other than going through ‘official’ methods, residents are able to sidestep the government’s control to buy foodstuffs from Florida and Miami by trading Bitcoin for bolivars.

Brazil

Brazil is the economic giant of South America, and a recent change in government has analysts waiting to observe how this might change the direction of the current legislation regarding cryptocurrency. Bitcoin use is certainly not undercover in the country, it is out there and being used as Satoshi intended. Supermarkets, construction, e-commerce, hospitality, and transportation have all become highly visible evidence that cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly mainstream.

BTC, BCH or LTC are commonly used and now, a supermarket chain ‘Oasis Supermercados’ allows customers to use any of these to pay for groceries. Transportation companies, such as ‘Viação Garcia’ are also open to payment in any of these three currencies. Some businesses and retailers have been taking Bitcoin since 2013. Other businesses including Nobile Plaza Hotel, e-commerce website Fasttech.com, robotic and electronic parts retailer Webtronico, and Imperius Food are also accepting crypto.

Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has cryptocurrency advocates worried, however. His views are hard right and his opinions regarding women, race, immigration, and homosexuality, among other topics, have caused concerns amongst many. Both the use of cryptocurrency and questions around the treatment of Brazil’s minorities have come in to play, and these areas have already felt the effect of a change of government following his election.

The new administration has already canceled a contract which would have benefited indigenous communities living in the Amazon basin. The project with an elongated title Study and diagnosis of socioeconomic viability of the creation of an indigenous cryptocurrency; development of the cryptocurrency platform; and implementation of that platform,” included the launch of a cryptocurrency affectionally referred to as the “Bitcoin of the Indian.”

As part of the project, the new cryptocurrency would have been distributed amongst Brazil’s indigenous communities, with organizers establishing a database of indigenous territories through working with local universities. Bolsonaro has not minced his words in the past regarding Brazil’s indigenous population arguing:

“There is no indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin, and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.”

Columbia

The number of Bitcoin ATMs in the country, the most in South America, speaks volumes when analyzing the degree to which the Bitcoin imprint is becoming more visible. There are now 17 ATMs around cities across the country. The city of Medellín, the second largest in Colombia, has recently installed the third Bitcoin ATM in one month.

The largest users of these ATMs are Venezuelans fleeing in greater numbers across the border into neighboring Columbia. Mostly uncovered by mainstream news in the past year, a staggering 1.9 million have fled poverty, hunger, crime and hyperinflation in Venezuela since 2015.

Dash has achieved great popularity in Columbia in some areas, often more so than the flagship cryptocurrency, with adoption on the increase, illustrated by an increase in merchant use of the Dash wallet in 2018. Bitcoin use is huge though, and in a comparison of the weekly volume of January 2017 to that of January 2019, it can be seen that the weekly Bitcoin volume in Columbia has increased from a 135 BTC to 364 BTC. The BTC weekly trade volume reached a maximum of 759 BTC in the last week of 2018.

Peru

Peru is not a big South American player but cryptocurrency use is on the rise. Bitcoin’s biggest hurdle is overcoming bad press caused by misuse. Peru’s Enrique Cardoza, Project Manager at Bitinka Exchange explains the situation and some of the complexities surrounding cryptocurrency business in the country:

We can say that this is being divided into two camps: There are people who are very much in favor of promoting information and spreading the word so that people can learn. [And also] There are many people who know about this and take advantage of people’s ignorance.”

Cardoza claims that much of the problem has been caused by those who have deliberately cheated, damaging the fledgling ecosystem. It has affected the businesses as potential new clients now lack confidence in companies offering cryptocurrency services as they consider them to be risky. He claims that Ripple (XRP), and Ethereum (ETH) are the greatest cryptocurrencies in demand.

Elsewhere

In other South American countries such as Bolivia and Chile, governments have restricted access to online payment systems like PayPal, who do not accept local documentation as a means of verifying the identity of the account holder. Bitcoin is being used more regularly in these countries because of limited financial services operating in these jurisdictions.

Chile, Bolivia, and Equador

Cryptocurrencies have never been legal in Bolivia and the government has been known to enforce its anti-Bitcoin stance with a firm hand. Mining and use of Bitcoin are still under strict regulation in the country. Chile is somewhat more forward thinking, and just recently, attempts to close cryptocurrency exchanges’ bank accounts has been thwarted by the Chilean anti-monopoly court granting these exchanges protection. In Equador, there are several ways to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and although still illegal, Bitcoin is often used by a small number of the population.

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Chile Looks to Incorruptible Tax Collection Using DLT

Chile Looks to Incorruptible Tax Collection Using DLT

Chile’s Treasury Department is looking to blockchain technology in order to streamline its tax collection programme.

The Chilean Government has taken this step due to losses incurred over time in the process of collecting taxes. The new programme under consideration would use DLT to create an incorruptible automatic quadrature system hosting multiple nodes.

The current system has resulted in losses in revenues at the end of each month as the Treasury Department shares information with three other organizations which adds further complexity. The new blockchain based measures will ensure that collected taxes will be redirected to the municipality through the banking system. Any interference in this process will be detected and rejected as all client information will be stored in incorruptible nodes.

Ximena Hernández, the Treasurer of General Treasury of the Republic stated that greater effectiveness and efficiency was the aim of the new updated DLT measures. He said:

“Nowadays the Digital Transformation will allow us to be much more efficient, more effective, to have greater proximity to our taxpayers and thus also to our own users. We will be able to give a better service.”

Both the Philippines and Thailand have integrated DLT solutions into their tax collection programmes over the past months. In the UK, member of parliament Eddie Hughes, an outspoken promoter of blockchain and cryptocurrency, has raised eyebrows among his more conservative peers and suggested that citizens should be given the option to pay their council taxes to local authorities in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ether.

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Anniversary Report: Bitcoin 10 Years on in Venezuela, South America

venezuela, bitcoin, cryptocurrency

In a Bitcoin News exclusive with the founder of crypto-backed non-profit Bitcoin Venezuela, Randy Brito shared how Bitcoin has evolved over the last decade in South America to become an increasingly popular tool for freelance workers to sell their services on the global market in the absence of access to payment systems such as PayPal. Brito also discussed his own humanitarian work done to promote Bitcoin adoption in Venezuela, the trajectory of Bitcoin in the next 10 years, and why he would like to see developers work on real use cases for cryptocurrency rather than on cryptokitties. 

Bitcoin’s 10-Year Journey

After researching Bitcoin in Venezuela since 2011, Brito has seen a significant shift in the number of local users and people even aware of Bitcoin. Back then, he jokes, there were only 10 people talking about it in the country and they were not even trading. In 2012, a small number of traders emerged with some grouped on the Colombian border, alongside Bitcoin mining which is gaining a strong following as well.

”It took 2 or 3 years more in 2014, 2015 for regular people to see how it could be used in Venezuela where electricity prices are very low. The first 5 or 6 years of Bitcoin’s existence in Venezuela was mostly unknown- only people with very technical knowledge or really inside the scene from the beginning were actually using Bitcoin for something,” Brito told Bitcoin News.

After 2015, the cryptocurrency was more common to see around, he said, with a growing movement surrounding it because of how it was utilized in relation to the riots in this period. Brito’s own non-profit Bitcoin Venezuela used cryptocurrency at this time to send food and medicine to protesters and street rioters. ”2015 was when most people started learning about it, after one year or so of using it to help people in the streets and even assist others leaving the country,” he shared.

Venezuelans line up at the Bitcoin Venezuela soup kitchen

A queue at Bitcoin Venezuala’s soup kitchen

Many South American countries are without access to major online payment systems such as PayPal and Venmo, so one of the primary use cases for Bitcoin has been as a way to receive international payments, with freelancers and entrepreneurs seeing an opportunity to develop their own business models around cryptocurrency acceptance.

”Argentina, for example, is known for having professional tech freelancers working in design and consultancy. Most of them used to work receiving international wire transfers or through Western Union but, there were capital controls imposed on foreign exchanges for a couple of years, meaning Bitcoin became an increasingly popular option to receive payments.”

In Venezuela, the foreign exchange controls which are meant to prop up the local Boliver currency have been running for not 2 or 3, but 14 years.

In other South American countries such as Bolivia and Chile, they also have restricted access to online payment systems as providers such as PayPal do not accept local documentation as a means of verifying the identity of the account holder. Bitcoin is being used more regularly in the region because of this limitation of financial services that operate in the continent.

A lack of real Bitcoin users

In Venezuela, Brito says, Bitcoin is not actually being used as a medium for exchange on the street. ”Even if you have smartphone and BTC wallet and try to pay for something, it’s almost impossible. Even places that say they accept cryptocurrency there is usually someone there like the owner of the store who needs to be there to accept it personally.”

Citing a report from Russia Today, he says journalists went to popular food chains in Venezuela that advertise to accept Dash but when they got there and asked to pay with the cryptocurrency, the employees said it was not possible because the owner was not there.

Brito partly attributes the lack of Bitcoin-accepting merchants to government persecution against anyone accepting currency that is not the local Bolivar: ”Even though for the last few months you are allowed to accept any other foreign currency as payment, you are obligated to do it at the exchange rate they impose, something not beneficial for the store. If they take dollars, for example, at the imposed rates they will lose money.”

Another problem for adoption is that people need smartphones, realistically running on the latest software update which most Bitcoin wallets require for security purposes. And if you are spotted with a USD200, USD300 phone, Brito says you are putting yourself at risk of mugging or even being killed on the streets of Venezuela.

Data released by the country’s national telecom providers showed that there are only 11.9 million devices in Venezuela, a country with a population of 30 million people. Currency controls mean this number is dropping even further because no one is importing smartphones into the country to sell, meaning the ones in circulation are often unbranded or not up to date. ”Most of them run on old, modified versions of Android designed for Chinese models, copies of other brands,” Brito says, not devices capable of supporting secure cryptocurrency wallets.

After a lot of hard work collaborators have completed the creation of the two water wells we’ve donated to a soup kitchen & an elderly center in #Venezuela. Kids & old ppl now have permanent access to water. Thanks!

Now let’s get em food!

DM if you’d like to help us help others pic.twitter.com/BkTlcAQixJ

— Bitcoin Venezuela ⚡ (@btcven) November 7, 2018

 

The Next Decade for Bitcoin

When will Venezuela even hit the bottom on security, connection, smartphones? Right now, some cities are completely disconnected from any communication system, some going without access to calls, SMS, text, 3G or even cable internet, staying weeks like this without connection to anywhere outside the city.

”If you get into that situation, there is no way you can pay with Bitcoin. What’s happening now is that cables, antennas, and wires are getting stolen by people who want to sell the copper of the cables. This is happing more regularly; it’s pretty common to see people getting beaten after getting caught stealing cables, even beaten to death by people angry that they are disconnecting them from the rest of the world. It’s happening more regularly, even daily.”

Brito is working on a mesh network of devices that would be affordable for Venezuelan citizens, with the software able to be installed in repurposed devices already existing in the country. Antennas or routers already in homes but lack connection to services such as the internet, or physical devices with restricted services could be repurposed and have the new software downloaded that would allow them to connect to each other and communicate via encrypted text messages, as well as facilitate Bitcoin transactions.

”They don’t need any other connection if the device is running the mesh software; they can connect and can transmit both messages and Bitcoin. Any device can have the software installed and is capable of connecting to others up to 5 km away, but with bigger, repurposed antennas that are basically abandoned because of the lack of service, they can be repurposed to make the range longer.”

Brito’s idea is the number of devices running will be so many, that they will be able to connect to each other in small towns and cities, while the big ones can be connected to one another via radio which can go up to 20 km distance: ”You will be able to deploy an alternative to the internet and other communication systems, capable of broadcasting Bitcoin transactions approved on the network even if there is no internet connection at all.”

Bigger devices will work basically as small computers, keeping connected and up to date with the Bitcoin blockchain through satellite. People inside the mesh will be able to see if transactions have been added to the network and approved.

Brito has not been to Venezuela since 2008 and knows he would probably get arrested if he did. He expects the government to try and restrict his mesh network concept, even as it tries to scale back internet use.

”You have to be careful about using, say a USD 1,000 dollar antenna to strengthen the network not only because it will likely get stolen, but people can also track it and get to your house, small affordable DIY devices are much more practical. They are more difficult to shut down or crack down on. Hopefully, there will be so many devices communicating with each other they will be impossible to shut down.”

Money, Brito notes, is a monopoly of the state in every country. Bitcoin takes that power out of the government and gives it to anyone capable of running a node. ”We are basically trying to achieve the same. Just like a Bitcoin node, you will be a node inside a mesh,” he says.

a Turpial 🐦 (ESP32 LoRa) could connect to another one to join the mesh up to 3km-4km distance (~1.8 miles) in the open. You could switch antennas

A phone could only make it up to ~50m (~0.031 miles)

We’ll be making tests in the coming days, stay tuned!https://t.co/gKr1gJxMHu pic.twitter.com/8O7sMPO8Yf

— Bitcoin Venezuela ⚡ (@btcven) December 28, 2018

 

Hopes for 2019

Next year, Brito says he would like to see more people transacting in Bitcoin with each other in Venezuela, but that opportunity is not yet in the hands of the local people.

”If developers actually want to see adoption they should put an effort into making the wallets more accessible to those not part of the first world, those that don’t have access to smartphones at all. I would like to see developers pay more attention to what is actually needed in some places not things like cryptokitties which only end up with one thousand users globally while we have people that are not even capable of transacting or communicating with families in other countries.”

Brito concluded by sharing hopes that more people in the Bitcoin industry will focus on humanitarian efforts: ”I would like to see real use cases for actually helping people, making their lives better. I do think there are ways to do it and it’s not that costly. Bitcoin is capable of working in the worst of places, and I would like to see the resilience of it and how it can circumvent all kinds of censorship.”

To learn more about Bitcoin Venezuela or to make a donation, visit the website or follow them on Twitter.

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Decentralization: Cryptocurrencies and Solar Energy

Humanitarian Blockchain

a BitcoinNews.com series

   Part 5: Decentralization: Cryptocurrencies and Solar Energy

Rural Africa has sun in abundance, but many across the continent are without electricity, impacting on their access to basic human rights such as health, education, and security. Economic development is strangled and breaking out of poverty is all but impossible without it. More than 1 billion people on the planet suffer from this dilemma. Bitcoin News examines how cryptocurrency together with blockchain is being utilized across the globe by a handful of companies in an attempt to deal with this problem.

Earlier this year, Sun Exchange, a solar micro-leasing marketplace, linked with rural mini-grid solutions provider AfricaPowerhive to create a solution which would harness the crypto-economy in the quest for universal energy access for all.

Sun Exchange SUNEX digital rewards tokens create the funds for building solar-powered rural electrification mini-grid projects for the sub-Saharan African region. Powerhive benefits from funds generated from the sale of Sun Exchange’s SUNEX rewards tokens by public sale. The project also allows for the solar panels used to be sold off later to Sun Exchange members who will, in turn, own the cells used in the projects and subsequently profit from a sustained period of “solar-powered money”. Sun Exchange founder and CEO Abraham Cambridge explains why:

“Together, we are working towards a world where no one is forced to cook with unsafe kerosene or wood-burning stoves, no child has to worry about how they will study after dark, and lack of energy access ceases to propel cycles of poverty.”

The project will raise in the region of USD 23 million as capital and finance 150 new projects offering 175,000 people electricity. Powerhive has other projects underway in Africa, such as its Kuku Poa initiative which uses solar power for chicken incubation. Powerhive founder and CEO Christopher Hornor explained that the crypto-community is not simply in it for financial gain and is made up of “inspired individuals” who support crypto projects such as this that clearly work towards reducing global inequality and making a significant climatic impact.

Cryptocurrency and solar energy can be a perfect match; complimentary in the sense that they both represent their own interpretations of decentralization; one in the form of money, and the other in the form of energy. SolarCoin is an example of this match with its 97.5 billion non-circulation SolarCoins created to be granted to energy producers up until the year 2054.

As SolarCoin explains, “in the Middle East today it is two times cheaper to produce a unit of power with solar energy than with fossil fuel sources”. The company’s goal is to create more solar electricity by rewarding those who generate it, reducing both the cost and payback time of solar installation.

The SolarCoin Foundation issues SolarCoins directly into claimant’s wallets at a rate of 1 SolarCoin per 1 MWh of electricity produced. Claimants can then save, exchange, or spend their SolarCoins as they wish, and may receive ongoing grants. This year, Sun Exchange in South Africa, Solar View in Brazil, and Solar Gain in Chile have all joined the SolarCoin Affiliate programme, and the foundation itself is now a member of the Climate Chain Coalition for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Also just recently MySolarPay has joined the SolarCoin Affiliate Network to help increase Solar adoption in Australia. The current circulating supply of SolarCoin stands at 47,757,794 SLR.

Bitlumens based in Zug, Switzerland, is another company making a difference on the solar energy stage. It states that it can… “offer a peer to peer platform where users adopt off-grid Solar systems to reduce carbon emissions and get access to lighting and water in places where there is no power grid.”

Bitlumens has a unique approach and is there in the field transforming lives and creating confidence amongst those in local communities to strive for a better quality of life. Working in rural Latin America it is attempting to remove the dependence on kerosene and wood, and replacing these with affordable clean energy options. The company website describes some of the problems the company is addressing:

“A single kerosene lamp emits over 100 kg of CO2 per year when used four hours a day. Globally, burning kerosene for lighting generated 240 million tons of CO2 equivalent a year, around 0.5% of global emissions. In fact, just kerosene lamps replaced in Africa and Asia with solar panels saved 1.4 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2014 alone.  Moreover, on a general basis, burning 20 kg wood during one day emits about 200 grams of PM2.5, this equals smoking 10,000 cigarettes”

Women in the programme lease Bitlumens hardware and pay in installments using BLS tokens, allowing them to build a credit score. Family members are also able to buy tokens which they can then send to family to cover the costs to run equipment, covering associated water and electricity bills. Bitlumens points out that “We also quantify carbon mitigation and particulate matter reduction in each household to allow women to become carbon credit issuers at a later stage.”

The company also provides solar energy to remote villages replacing traditionally used fuels such as biomass, thus reducing farmers costs, in some cases enabling them to recruit labor as a result of the savings made on replacing unsustainable and often harmful fuel with Bitlumens supplied solar energy.

Kevin Treco, an associate director at the Carbon Trust, an environmental consultancy, sees blockchain-based technologies significantly changing the energy use in countries striving to decentralize power and boost renewable sources. “They have faster-growing energy needs… and a more accommodating legal and regulatory environment towards such innovations,” he said.

The United Nations Development Programme has suggested that if such crypto-funded schemes were successful, they could revolutionize renewable energy markets in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Technology supplying cheaper and more sustainable energy options to those in need using blockchain and cryptocurrency may be in its infancy, but it is clearly beginning to get support to where it is most needed, as companies begin to see both its humanitarian and ecological value.

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Chilean MPs Bring Blockchain Resolution to Parliament

Two members of the Chilean government put forth a blockchain adoption resolution Thursday. It is currently being reviewed by the lower house of the country’s parliament, Camara de Diputados.

The members of parliament (MPs) Miguel Angel Calisto and Giorgio Jackson presented the drafted resolution to the government with the hopes of implementing a ”blockchain ecosystem” for Chile in the near future.

Calisto made the argument that the technology could be used to add transparency and trust to the work carried out by different public agencies, also reducing the risk of private information that they have access to being used in a malicious way. He told parliament: “It is the moment that these new technologies that are at the forefront of innovation, are seen as a real option in a Chile that must look to the future and ensure the good of all its citizens.”

Jackson added that that aim of the blockchain resolution is to increase cybersecurity standards and reduce bureaucracy within public services but that blockchain should not be limited to this, pushing that it’s ”transformative” and ”revolutionary” potential of decentralizing information should be explored further.

He also made a point that instituting blockchain data sharing solutions could save costs, citing a recent report produced by the Chilean Economic Prosecution office which points to the increasingly challenging financial situation that maintenance of notaries has become for the government.

Calisto and Jackson first registered the resolution in August, backed by eight of their colleagues. In it, the resolution appeals to president Sebastian Pinera to take action in instituting blockchain solutions in the country, with an offer to conduct studies into the potential advantages of blockchain-based security and energy solutions.

The president of Chile’s Central Bank, Mario Marcel, said in May that he was considering the establishment of regulation around cryptocurrencies to prevent them being used in the country for any illicit activities. Pointing to terrorist financing and money laundering, in particular, Marcel said that formulating a legal structure around digital currencies could help ”monitor risks”.

 

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NY Firm Want to Change the Face of Crypto Mining with Moroccan Wind Farm

If plans come to fruition Morocco could become the location for one of the biggest blockchain-powering energy operations in the world.

Soluna the computing company that generates its own renewable energy has revealed plans to build a 900-megawatt wind farm south of Marrakesh suggesting that such a move may well significantly push crypto mining towards a far more sustainable era.

The site in Dakhla, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, by the Atlantic Ocean is known as a class 1 wind site with wind speed reaching higher than 22mph. The site covers 37,000 acres and should produce 900 megawatts as an off-grid operation.

Bitcoin mining has become a contentious issue with opposing view on each side of the ecological divide. Critics argue about the consumption of vast amounts of energy, often citing the Irish example to support their argument citing the entire network now consumes more power than the Irish Republic in its entirety. Digiconomist estimates that Bitcoin consumes more power than some countries, such as the Irish Republic, Chile, and Austria.

John Belizaire, CEO of Soluna, argues that this approach misses the point:

“Some have accused crypto miners of being extractive… In contrast, one of our core values is to invest in local economies. By building our own power and operating data centres, we bring investment dollars, create jobs, and (notably) don’t take away from the existing stock of energy to the local region.”

Soluna is backed by NY private equity firm Brookstone Partners which specializes in acquisitions and growth capital. One of their current projects is to convert wind energy into electrical energy for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency, being the cheapest source of energy available.

It is estimated that by the end of 2018 the Bitcoin network will be using over 125 terawatt hours per year. The issue here for many is its carbon footprint as the network is mostly fueled in China by burning coal, as this is a low-cost energy source.

Utility-scale renewable green energy sources such as the project planned for Morocco have enormous potential for the future if crypto mining continues to grow at its current rate.

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

South 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.

Argentina

Growing number of Bitcoin ATMs despite regulation: Bitcoin ATMs are being deployed around the world and Argentinian companies are also setting up large numbers across the country despite heavy government regulation on cryptocurrencies that is hampering the growth of the cryptocurrency space.

More than 200 Bitcoin ATMs deployed across Argentina: US ATM distributor Odyssey Group has announced that it has signed pre-agreements to install over 4,000 cryptocurrency ATMs across the Latin America country after the central bank BCRA agreed to loosen up restrictions in the space.

According to the relaxed rules, ATMs can be installed in supermarkets, shopping malls and even cinemas. Right now only the Argentinian company Bancelo has the license to install them only within bank premises but the new legislation has unveiled the path to massive Bitcoin ATMs across the country.

Brazil

Traders bet big on crypto options market: Brazilian traders have made a bold move into the cryptocurrency options market because of the volatility in the markets. They bought more than USD 1.4 billion worth of contracts on Tuesday alone, hoping it will pay off if the currency increases its value next week. Trading volume has jumped up 25 times the average volume in recent two weeks alone.

Political volatility including upcoming elections are also increasing investor anxiety and it could have effects on the investor attitude in the market.

Exchange hacked for BTC 58 overall losses: Brazilian cryptocurrency exchange FoxBit’s woes continued with a login issue resulting in traders losing more than BTC 58 in different cryptocurrencies. The cause was a bug in the login menu that allowed users to withdraw double amounts of cryptocurrencies. FoxBit was a little late to respond to the threat and had to close for 14 days. All in all, around BTC 58 (USD 540,000) was lost in the hacks.

The bug was first noticed in the Brazilian cryptocurrency circles by Leandro Trindade. His own investigation into the issue revealed that traders could even change their 2FA settings with a one-time password thus locking users out of their accounts.

In an interview with Portal do Bitcoin, Trindade said, “I could be rich right now. But my code of ethics won’t let me.”

Angry traders were reporting all sorts of losses on the platform, as much as USD 10,000 each, while the operating company has blamed the users for enabling weak security and revealing sensitive information to third parties by the users.

Chile

Court orders banks to re-opening crypto exchange accounts: Chile’s anti-monopoly court has ruled that the two Chilean banks who suspended the accounts of the cryptocurrency exchange BUDA, have to be re-open the accounts. The announcement was seen as a victory by the BUDA and CryptoMKT exchanges against the might of the Association of the Banks and Financial Institutions (ABIF) after the latter reportedly agreed on a policy to contain the cryptocurrency exchanges.

Their statement read: “The lack of knowledge and regulatory clarity has given rise to the fact that some banks, out of fear, misinformation or perhaps by strategy, are refusing to provide their services to anyone who has any relationship with any digital asset”.

Minister supports crypto initiatives after positive court decision: Chile’s Minister of Economy Jose Valente has come out and supported the cause of embattled cryptocurrency exchanges and put his weight behind their cause to get their bank accounts re-opened.

Diario Financiero reported him as saying, “What interests us with cryptocurrencies is basically giving them the opportunity [to develop] because they are an important innovation that is happening in the world… You have to give them a chance.”

He also said that Chile cannot remain outside these innovations and “economy of the future”.

Venezuela

India offered 30% discount on crude oil purchases in Petro: Venezuela is offering a big discount to other central banks to accept payment in its Petro cryptocurrency. It has offered India a 30% discount on its crude oil purchases but only if India uses Petro to pay for them.

It is difficult to say whether or not India will take up the offer as there is much to learn about the cryptocurrency. The Reserve Bank of India is already in the midst of a crackdown against Bitcoin traders across the South Asian country.

The post South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

Chile Crypto Exchanges Fight Bank Blockade

Following the shutdown of three Chilean cryptocurrency exchanges by banks Itau Corbanca, Bank of Nova Scotia and the state-owned Banco del Estado de Chile, the exchanges have taken their grievances to the appeals court in an attempt to overturn the decision.

Chile’s largest exchanges, Buda.com, Crypto Market (Crypto MKT), and Orionx are currently blocked from using the banks. Banco del Estado de Chile stated at the time of its decision that it would “not operate with companies that are dedicated to the insurance or creation, brokerage, intermediation or serve as a platform for the so-called cryptocurrencies”.

Before the shutout, Buda facilitated approximately USD 1 million worth of cryptocurrency trades daily. The lawyer representing the exchanges commented that the decision was “an abusive exploitation of a situation of economic independence”.

Although little reason has been offered by the banks, there is a general feeling that the blockade may have originated from the government after Chile’s Financial Stability Council (Consejo de Estabilidad Financiera, CEF) warned of risks pertaining to the use of cryptocurrencies earlier this month.

The appeals court has agreed the hear the exchanged out, although their bank accounts remain closed. According to Bloomberg, Chile’s financial institutions are currently attempting to put a blanket ban on the cryptocurrency industry.

Both BUDA and Crypto MKT issued a public statement titled ‘Chile Can Make A Fool Of Itself Or Stand Out Worldwide’, asking for a transparent stance on cryptocurrencies. They argue that banks in Chile have been shutting down crypto exchange accounts with instructions “not to open an account for anyone” with a connection to cryptocurrencies. The statement argues:

“Due to the lack of knowledge and clarity some banks, out of fear, lack of information, or even poor strategy, are refusing or not offering services to people who are in the cryptocurrency market.”

Guillermo Torrealba, Buda’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying, “They’re killing an entire industry. It won’t be possible to buy and sell crypto in a safe business in Chile. We’ll have to go back five years and trade in person. It seems very arbitrary.”

The moves by state-owned Banco del Estado de Chile seem to conflict with a recent statement by Susana Jimenez, Chilean minister of energy, announcing that the country’s National Energy Commission would start using blockchain, the technology behind virtual currencies, in its energy sector data.

Despite the relatively small amount of business compared to some of the world’s biggest exchanges which trade up to USD 2 billion worth of cryptocurrency a day, the market in Chile continues to be buoyant.

 

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