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France Will Push EU to Adopt New Crypto Regulatory Framework

France Will Push EU to Adopt New Crypto Regulatory Framework

France is keen for her European Union neighbors to adopt a similar framework for cryptocurrency to its own newly- formed financial sector legislation.

Its new laws have been structured to keep the Finance Ministry, exchanges, and traders satisfied that there is a little bit of harmony for all, and a relief for many traders who have been expecting a tightening of cryptocurrency guidelines this year.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire clearly wants to share the joy with the rest of Europe, although at this stage it seems unlikely that the UK would come on board with Brexit and European elections looming. France has jumped to head of the Euro queue in adopting a national regulatory framework and sees this as a solution for the other 26, or possibly 27. Le Maire commented:

“I will propose to my European partners that we set up a single regulatory framework on crypto-assets inspired by the French experience.”

Le Maire is clearly confident, adding that “our model is the right one”, although it remains to be seen how this suggestion will be greeted by other EU members.

The French government’s new cryptocurrency bill will now give the opportunity for startups and platforms that want to issue new cryptocurrencies or trade existing ones to apply for a certification giving companies official state recognition. This means that the rest of Europe will now be playing catchup. The certification will be granted by French market regulator and issuers, traders, custodians, and investors will have to pay taxes on their profits.

Transparency is seen as key by the French Finance Ministry and those applying for certification under the new rules will need to be thorough in furnishing business plans, AML, KYC, and be clear about exactly who is conducting and overseeing the business. Those not choosing to seek registration could be left in a vulnerable position.

 

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EU Report: Blockchain Key to ”Digital Twin” Transformation, Brings Trust

EU Report: Blockchain Key to ''Digital Twin'' Transormation, Brings Trust

A report published by the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum cites blockchain technology as fundamental in the next generation digital transformation, facilitating trustful transactions between parties.

Dr Tim Weingärtner, a professor at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences & Arts, authored the report, featuring it on the concept of a ”digital twin” world. This concept essentially looks to build a replica of the physical world within the digital realm, utilizing artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and tokens to represent physical objects, all underlined with blockchain as the ledger.

While blockchain would be used to identify and tokenize physical objects, smart contracts would also be vital in providing a tamper-proof digital environment, the report claims. Smart contracts would enable a secure, automated financial environment.

The Ethereum blockchain is touted as the best for creating and managing tokens, praised for its programming language and existing code examples.

The report claims this embedded connection between the digital and physical worlds will be particularly crucial in the near future because of exponential growth, explaining: ”…The physical world will be exceeded by the digital world in the coming years. This means that speed, growth, and complexity will increase by a multiple.”

 

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Multi Company Blockchain Initiative Launched In Brussels

Multi Company Blockchain Initiative Launched In Brussels

A European Commission initiative called the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) has been launched in Brussels.

With over 100 firms represented in the new project which is designed to bring developers in tandem the newly formed INATBA sees itself as a “global multi-stakeholder forum” aimed at further promoting blockchain across different sectors in Europe.

With members such as SWIFT, IBM, Ripple, banks such as Barclays, and notables from the cryptocurrency space such as ConsenSys AG, crypto mining firm Bitfury, wallet leader Ledger, and IOTA, the new body packs a punch.

The project has been an initiative in waiting for some months up to yesterday’s launch in Brussels. The European Commission itself has been proactive launching its won initiatives with a similar aim to the INATBA, most notably forming the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) along with 22 member countries to support the delivery of cross-border digital public services. Also last year, the EU launched the Blockchain Observatory and Forum, also including ConsenSys amongst its membership.

INATBA has laid out its specific aims as protecting and ensuring both “legal predictability”, and “integrity and transparency” in blockchain by dialogue between regulators, policymakers and participants in the industry.

Also in Europe, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAFM) has praised blockchain’s potential to “support Europe’s unity at a fundamental level” by improving the union’s asylum protocol.

BAFM published findings of its study on 26 March in a white paper, detailing how blockchain could be used in the case of identifying refugees using the immutable technology.

 

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New Report Confirms Terrorists Still Prefer Cash to Crypto

New Report Confirms Terrorists Still Prefer Cash to Crypto

A new report confirms that that terrorist activities continue to be backed by cash rather than cryptocurrencies, which don’t afford such groups the anonymity they seek.

It is a fact that has been known for some time, despite many government departments in jurisdictions around the world citing cryptocurrency links to terrorism, a connection well disproven over time. A 72-page long report published by Europol late last year confirmed conventional banking as the primary source of terrorist funding such as the recent attacks on European cities.

Europol, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, supports the 28 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organized forms of crime. They also work with many non-EU partner states and international organizations.

Now, a newly release Rand Corporation report reconfirms that cryptocurrency is ineffective as a source of funding for terrorist groups. Cash is seen as being far more suited to the transfer of large sums for such activities, mainly due to the increasing degree of legalization and regulation surrounding the cryptocurrency space, which is seen by many from within the industry as a good thing.

The latest report, eclipsing Europol’s 2018 report by 27 pages, focuses primarily on the receipt, management, and spending of funds for terrorist activity. The report maintains that the only one of these areas in which cryptocurrency might have some effectiveness in the first, as receiving funds has been made simple by using digital assets due to its global nature and ease of distribution.

This is counteracted by the fact large sums cannot easily be managed and certainly hit problems when it comes to spending cryptocurrency anonymously due to the current industry infrastructure. The report maintains:

“We see little current evidence of the adoption of cryptocurrencies by terrorist organizations or the motivation to do so, but that very well might change as countermeasures shut off funding and as the cryptocurrency technology changes.”

The report suggests the terrorist needs are not supported by current cryptocurrency systems such as affording the anonymity to buy arms, purchase property and pay for propaganda. These key areas vitally important to terrorist cells require hard cash.

However, the Rand report does add one note of concern for the future suggesting that situation might change with the potential emergence of a single cryptocurrency “that provides widespread adoption, better anonymity, improved security, and that is subject to lax or inconsistent regulation”.

 

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Germany’s Stance on Security Tokens Could Be a Green Light for Europe

In a surprise move, the German Ministry of Finance has called for recognition of blockchain-based securities as a legitimate form of financial instrument.

Friday’s announcement suggested that German law needed to recognize these types of securities, and legislation should be brought into place to support the changes. The new paper published by the ministry last week stated that “the currently mandatory documentary embodiment of securities (paper form) should no longer apply without restriction.”

The German government wants to start with electronic bonds and then later address digital shares. Such securities would in future be registered by a single government agency as yet to be established. This, in the view of the ministry, would ensure no risk of tampering or manipulation. In terms of utility tokens, the paper outlined:

“As a rule, utility tokens do not constitute securities, investments or other financial instruments under the German Securities Trading Act and in most cases will not be electronic bonds in the future,” although “it could be determined by law that a public offer of utility tokens may only take place if the provider has previously published an information sheet.”

There is also a draft bill on Security Token Offerings (STOs) passing through the German Parliament, although in the opinion of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member Senator Thomas Heilmann, who maintains that although it is an interesting technology “many people don’t understand it,” showing there is still a fintech gap in Germany’s ruling house.

The feeling is that Germany could steal a march on other European nations with this legislation, if passed and become the leader in tokenized finance in Europe, further creating a precedent for EU-wide regulations on security tokens moving forward.

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EU-Regulated Bank Frick Launches DLT Markets for Institutional Investors

EU-Regulated Bank Frick Launches DLT Markets for Institutional Investors

One of the European leaders in blockchain banking, Bank Frick, announced last week that it will be starting up a subsidiary service to provide a secure environment for institutional investors to trade in digital assets.

The bank said it is introducing a digital asset marketplace dubbed DLT Markets with the regulatory properties of the traditional financial market. It will provide institutional investors with professional access to cryptocurrencies being traded on multiple exchanges.

CEO of DLT Markets Roger Wurzel said:

“We are creating a unique market offering for institutional investors in the area of the new digital token asset class. With our fully regulated platform, we are driving professionalism with regard to the trading of digital tokens and cryptocurrencies.”

This appears to be the second blockchain-related initiative of the bank, following the recently established Distributed Ventures AG – a subsidiary tasked with promoting and financing fintech and blockchain start-ups – the bank clearly wants a stake in the future digital assets market, as CEO of Bank Frick Edi Wögerer explains: “In establishing The DLT Markets AG, we are significantly building on our leading position in the area of regulated blockchain banking.”

Evidently, the digital asset ecosystem has become a gold rush for institutional investments and while regulatory framework and a secure custody solution may be holding some back, many financial service operators are seeking for ways to stake a place in the emerging market.

Bank Frick is a private bank based in Liechtenstein with a branch that operates in the UK. It has nearly two decades of financial service experiences offered to intermediaries such as fiduciaries, asset managers, payment service providers, and fintechs. Its services include custody of crypto assets, and as per the statement, the bank supports initial coin offerings. Earlier in February, it announced an official partnership with blockchain advisory AmaZix, as part of a drive towards mainstream adoption in blockchain banking services.

Many other financial institutions are participating in the blockchain economy.

Fidelity Investments, with over half a century’s worth of experience in the financial market, whose recent valuation was estimated to be worth USD 2.46 trillion in asset under management (AUM), has launched crypto subsidiary Fidelity Digital Asset Services to provide institutional grade crypto asset custody and cryptocurrency trading services. More so, a deadline has been set for March for the release of its Bitcoin custody solution.

Also, US investment bank JPMorgan recently launched its own JPM Coin, a digital coin backed by the US dollar meant for internal money settlements between its clients. Although it may have received many criticisms from crypto enthusiasts, the gesture remains one of clear certification that blockchain and its underlying asset classes are revolutionary to the traditional financial marketplace.

Last year, top cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that it was adding a sub-account feature to attract institutional investors. US-centered crypto exchange Coinbase also launched its over-the-counter (OTC) trading service for institutional investors. And most recently, New York-based digital asset management firm Grayscale Investstment LLC reported an increase in the number of institutional investors making up 66% of its portfolio under management.

Certainly, it’s turning out to be a bouquet of institutional grade digital investment niche, and with so many to choose from, the industry will perhaps be the replacement venture to traditional finance as many have speculated it to be.

 

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EU Parliament Member Praises Euro Stance on Blockchain, Digital Assets

EU Parliament Member Praises Euro Stance on Blockchain, Digital Assets

Eva Kaili, a member of the European Parliament, the body which exercises the legislative function of the EU, has been speaking out about cryptocurrency and the progressive stance of EU member states towards it.

Speaking at a Ripple event in London recently, Kaili, a former television news presenter who represents the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, was telling her audience how blockchain technology’s disruption of various sectors was beginning to be understood by many EU member states.

She was highlighting the contrast between the industry now and how it was a few years ago in the early stages of its development,  indicating that this was gradually leading to a more positive reaction from EU banks and financial institutions, primarily due to recent regulation.

According to her, another reason for blockchain not being resigned to becoming just another clever idea was the growing mainstream acceptance of the technology by leaders across the world. The stance by these over the past five years has changed noticeably as more and more digital currencies reach acceptance and blockchain becomes a feature of many huge institutions’ business plans.

A major focus of many of these institutions has centered around remittances and cross border payments, which have been clearly improved through blockchain technology. One example being Ripple, the hosts of the event, who maintain that their cross-border payments are becoming both quicker and cheaper as new tech is developed.

MEP Kaili has long been a blockchain and crypto advocate in the European Parliament. In November, she spoke exclusively to Bitcoin News about the Parliament’s release of EUR 700 million for startup projects promising “great solutions” with blockchain.

 

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Hamas Calls for Bitcoin to Combat Israeli Freeze of Millions of Dollars in Qatari Aid

gaza, hamas

The militant arm of Hamas in Gaza has made an appeal for Bitcoin funds after a decision by Israel to temporarily freeze millions of dollars in Qatari aid to Palestine.

Hamas, the de-facto ruling authority of the Gaza Strip in Palestine is regarded by several countries, including the US and the EU, as a terrorist organization. Russia, Turkey, and China are among those major world powers who do not subscribe to the definition.

The official Telegram channel of Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, made the appeal for Bitcoin asking all lovers of the resistance and the supporters of our righteous cause to support the resistance financially using Bitcoin.

Hamas has been the voice of Gaza since taking power from the Palestinian Nationalist political party Fatah in 2007 after a military conflict, although the Gaza Strip is now blockaded by both Israel and Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to freeze millions of dollars in Qatari aid – including USD 15 million a month to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants – has heightened the current tension between Gaza and Israel. Abu Obeida’s latest message hinted at the request for funds:

“The Zionist enemy is fighting the resistance by trying to cut its support by all means, but the resistance lovers in all the world are fighting these Zionist attempts and are seeking to find all possible support for the resistance.”

A recent congressional hearing in the US confirmed that in general, fiat currencies are the preferred choice of funding for terrorist activities or arms and that the success of fundraising for such groups through cryptocurrencies has been limited.

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Romanian Crypto Nest Eggs Decimated by New 10% Tax

Romanian Crypto Nest Eggs Decimated by New 10% Tax

Romania, Europe’s third-poorest nation (GDP per capita), has amended its taxation rules in order to accommodate those taxpayers with cryptocurrency earnings, now setting the rate at 10%.

Income for cryptocurrencies is now regarded by the taxation authorities in Romania as “income from other sources” and are therefore taxable. It is a move very much in line with many other countries across Europe who have been re-examining their tax laws as they apply to cryptocurrency earnings.

According to a local daily Ziarul Financiar, who quoted tax consultant Adrian Benta, this means that only gains will be taxed as opposed to revenues. Gains from transactions below RON 200 (Romanian ron worth USD 50) won’t be taxable under the new laws, but any earnings above RON 600 (USD 150) per annum will be liable for the 10% tariff. Benta suggested that the new rate was fair:

“Before this, we had a more cumbersome procedure in which one had to register as freelancer if he was trading repeatedly. It is now treated as an extraordinary income from other sources.”

Under EU leadership, cryptocurrencies are still closely monitored by the Romanian authorities as all jurisdictions in Europe continue to regulate the industry. In the hope to further encourage cryptocurrency adoption throughout Romania, the country’s top exchange Coinflux added Ripple to its trading platform last year by popular demand from clients.

Coinflux facilitates users in trading across cryptocurrencies and also with fiat currencies like Leu or RON.

 

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Dutch Authorities to Curb Crypto Trading Anonymity

Dutch Authorities to Curb Crypto Trading Anonymity

The Netherlands Authority for Financial Markets (AFM) and the central bank, De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), are making recommendations to put an end to anonymous buying and selling of cryptocurrencies in the Netherlands.

Under proposed new rules, all crypto exchanges and wallet providers would be required to apply for a special license to operate, with Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra pushing forward the new changes.

Some feel that this may be an “after the horse has bolted” scenario given what has been regarded as a largely uncontrolled crypto market in the country over the 18 months; a period where first-time investors have risked losses due to inexperienced and occasion fraud events. Also, given that many investors have withdrawn from the market due to dip in cryptocurrency values, some exchanges think this has a come a bit too late.

However, figures do illustrate that the industry has remained vulnerable, with Dutch police’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) reporting digital-relegated fraud rising since the beginning of last year from an average of 300 to nearly 5,000 a year.

It is possible the Dutch are simply responding to last year’s new AML directive introduced by member states of the EU which stipulates that cryptocurrency trading platforms follow the same AML laws as traditional financial institutions. Under these laws, the 27 nations of the EU are also required exchanges to keep full records of transactions and report those which are felt to be in any way dubious.

 

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