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

Europe

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

European Union

Companies folding after GDPR legislation in EU Parliament: The latest GDPR regulations passed by the EU Parliament are taking their toll on the blockchain space with several companies folding or minimizing their operations. The General Data Protection Regulation is especially focused on the fintech industry to adopt standards like Know-Your-Customer and other ID verification approaches onto their platforms.

The aftershocks of this wide-ranging legislation will mean that blockchain businesses in the continent are in for a rough ride in the near future with the EU giving businesses a 25 May deadline for compliance with heavy fines and punishments for the absconders. A blockchain startup, CoinTouch, has already closed because of the regulations. 

The owner of CoinTouch was of the opinion:

“This new EU law hurts small website[s] like mine but helps reinforce the dominance of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, who are able to prepare and defend themselves using established legal teams and cash reserves, and who now face less competition from startups. The EU Cookie Law, EU VAT regulation and now the EU GDPR are all examples of poorly-implemented laws that add complexity and unintended side-effects for businesses within the EU.”

Long-term effects of the GDPR legislation remain to be seen.

Germany

Stock exchange to launch zero-fee trading app: The second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the country, Stuttgart Börse, is reportedly launching a new trading app that will be a zero-fee option for cryptocurrency traders. The app is named Bison and will be available in the fall of 2018.

The app was developed by a fintech startup named Sowa labs and includes an AI tool to measure the overall mood of the crypto community through analysis of over 250,000 crypto-related tweets.

Free trading apps are likely to become more common in the future with the stock trading app Robin Hood already raising USD 363 million with plans to support 16 cryptocurrencies with zero trading fee.

German bank using Bitcoin for cheap international payments: Nascent German bank BitBond is using cryptocurrencies to bypass the all-powerful Swift International transfer system to help lend money around the world at low interest rates. The traditional money transfer is seen slow, expensive and insecure by crypto enthusiasts.

Radoslav Albrecht the founder of the bank said:

“With Bitbond, payments work independently of where customers are. Via internet it is very, very quick and the fees are low.”

The bank’s clients hold Bitcoins for only a few minutes before they are changed back to fiat currency so the volatile nature of the currency is avoided. Bitcoin has never been used to transfer fiat credit before by regular banks so this is a significant development in the crypto world.

United Kingdom

$700K worth of Bitcoin seized by London police: The London Metropolitan Police and Scotland Yard have seized more than USD 700,000 in cryptocurrencies from fraudulent activity taking place in the city. This is the first seizure of its kind by the local police. The suspect was identified as 25-year-old Grant West and he has plead guilty in court.

The police investigator Mick Gallagher said, “These people generally feel they can operate with impunity, that they can’t be touched. We have now debunked that.”

This shows that authorities are now catching up with new fintech development and are now equipped with the facilities they need to catch crypto criminals.

France

French minister declares support for cryptocurrencies: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has openly said to French entrepreneurs in a meeting that he supports cryptocurrency space according to a report by Bitcoin.fr.

Le Maire committed his total and determined support to cryptocurrency and said:

“I was a neophyte a year ago, but now I’m passionate. It took me a year. Let us show a lot of pedagogy with our fellow citizens to make France the first place of blockchain and crypto-active innovation in Europe.”

Ireland

University urging government to push blockchain into mainstream: The National University of Ireland (NUI) has urged the Irish government to promote blockchain technology in the country according to reports from The Irish Times.

The study is going to be first of its kind in the country that presents how blockchain technology can be used for good governance and how its adoption can progress the country in tech overall.

Research leader at NUI Dr Trevor Clohessy said:

“…Beyond business, other beneficial uses of this technology would be in voting machines and ballot boxes to address electoral fraud and potentially looking at a blockchain enabled technology-controlled border identification system that could provide a possible solution to the current North/South Brexit border challenges.”

Belgium

Government expands list of fraudulent crypto companies: Belgium’s monetary watchdog Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has expanded the list of fraudulent cryptocurrency platforms in the country. Back in March this year, FSMA had revealed the first list with 19 suspicious firms and now it is expanding to include several others according to latest reports from the country.

Ukraine

Government preparing to legalize crypto: The Ukrainian government is realizing the potential of cryptocurrencies and is now set to legalize them according to a post by a Ukrainian lawmaker Alexei Mushak.

He said on his Facebook page:

“We go to the home stretch to create conditions for digital tokens and cryptocurrency in Ukraine. This is the outcome of many meetings and work of many people. There are many more nuances left to figure out. The final version will be ready in two weeks. I ask you to comment and edit. The thoughts of market practitioners are especially important.”

The use of blockchain in government affairs will increase in the future with this bill being passed by the government.

Russia

Russia looks to crypto to defy US sanctions: Russia is looking to end the dominance of the US dollar in the currency market of the world today by using cryptocurrencies. Recent reports suggest that the country is both helping Venezuela and Iran, countries under heavy US sanctions, to overcome them.

According to Head of Economic Affairs of the Iranian government Reza Purebrakhimi, Iran is looking to end the dependence on SWIFT banking system and the USD through cryptocurrencies. The central bank has also instructed the government to begin the process of “developing proposals for using cryptocurrency”.

 

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