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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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The post Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 11th to 17th May 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 4th to 10th 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.

Germany

TokenPay acquires German bank: TokenPay, a decentralized self-verifying payment platform has recently announced that it has acquired a sizeable stake in the Berlin-based German Bank WEG. In the beginning, it was established that Litecoin and TokenPay were partnering up for this move and Derek Capo, the founder of TokenPay had said to Charlie Lee, the founder of Litecoin:

“We are buying 9.9% of a bank in Munich with option to buy 90%. They have a whole ecosystem and plan in place.”

The move isn’t a surprise since acquiring banks was listed as an eventual end in the official whitepaper of the platform.

France

Conflicting tax policies cause confusion: France is continuing its love-hate relationship with cryptocurrencies with the latest move seeing cryptocurrencies being reclassified as “moveable property” rather than currency and thus the tax rate has come down from 45% to 19%.

The defence lawyer of the tax department argued that “Bitcoin has no other purpose than that of means of payment” but the ruling came in the favor of cryptocurrencies. Due to the rapid change in government dealing with crypto profits, there is a considerable confusion in the market and government circles regarding what rule should be followed.

Sweden

Company takes Bitcoin mining to the stratosphere: Swedish company Miner One has taken cryptocurrency mining literally a notch above as it launched a Bitcoin mining rig into the atmosphere over 100,000 feet (35,000 meters) above the Earth according to a blog post from the company.

The mining rig uses a hydrogen balloon with capsule assembly underneath containing an ASIC and a Raspberry Pi microcomputer capable of processing data at 35 km above land. The capsule also contains instruments for navigation, tracking and other necessary material to protect the rig from extreme temperatures. It mines at a rate of 330 megahashes per second.

The project is a brainchild of Swedish CEO Pranas Slusnys. He said:

“The goal of Space Miner One is to symbolically express our belief that bitcoin and cryptocurrency, in general, is about the future and the revolutionary technology at its heart: so-called blockchain technology. And with this new technology, the sky’s the limit.”

United Kingdom

Richard Branson says Bitcoin scams in his name a worrying trend: Latest Bitcoin scams include using the name and image of popular British billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson in fake schemes and they are becoming quite successful according to a recent blog post from the Virgin Group’s website.

Branson wrote:

“Some of the most regular and worrying fake stories currently spreading online are false endorsements of Bitcoin trading schemes. While I have often commented on the potential benefits of genuine Bitcoin developments, I absolutely do not endorse these fake Bitcoin stories.”

The scams usually involve Richard Branson endorsing a cryptocurrency or a product.

UK financial think tank calls Bitcoin a fad: UK’s financial think tank Evidence-based Management’s director Martin Walker has called Bitcoin a “fad” in an address to the British Parliament. The words were in stark contrast to the other representatives called for testimony including blockchain companies EverLedger and Ripple, researchers from local universities and other professionals, most of whom spoke at length about the potential benefits of the industry including saving the banks millions of dollars per annum.

Walker continued and said to a room full of British MPs that the world-renowned tech behind cryptocurrencies was nothing but “magic wand, pixie dust things” and the blockchain was nothing but a distraction from getting the basics of banking right.

Telegram cancels ICO amid ever-increasing restrictions: What was potentially the biggest ICO in history is now history as Telegram has officially closed its much-publicized ICO, according to a report by The Independent. The tightening of ICO regulation around the world including the US and the UK resulted in this move and will see potentially billions of dollars return to the investors.

Investors were frustrated with this move and called it a blow for the future of cryptocurrencies.

Portugal

Crypto regulations planned: The Portuguese government is meeting to debate cryptocurrency regulations in the coming weeks according to a local news outlet Jornal de Negocios. The government is all set to discuss possible sanctions in addition to supply and distribution of cryptocurrencies in the market.

But, there could be good news as the government officials were quoted saying that they would “accommodate the innovation to the benefit of consumers, and to even promote competition“.

Switzerland

Switzerland aiming to become the top blockchain nation: Switzerland is increasingly becoming the destination of choice for all cryptocurrencies and ICOs in the world. Out of six of the world’s largest ICOs last year alone, four took place in Switzerland according to a report by the Swiss Financial watchdog Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Most of the world’s ICOs are moving to Gibraltar, Malta and Switzerland. Small towns with just a few thousand people living are becoming famous as centres of this new revolution. Zug, a small town of 120,000 people has seen the entry of over 200 blockchain companies on its own. It was one of the first towns to install Bitcoin ATMs in 2016.

Switzerland’s openness to new ideas and innovations is a key factor in the country becoming the number one destination for ICOs and blockchain companies.

 

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The post Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 4th to 10th May 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd 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

European Commission to employ blockchain in fight against fake news: The European Commission (EC) has recently singled out the widespread issue of fake news on the internet as a major issue and is now looking to employ distributed ledger technology (DLT) to stop the spread of fake news on social media and on the web.

The first step from the EC will be to implement a ‘Code of Practice on Disinformation’, an EU program that is slated for publication by July 2018. The EC is saying that blockchain applications can help provide transparency and reliability of news on the internet. According to a press release announced on this subject:

“Innovative technologies, such as blockchain, can help preserve the integrity of content, validate the reliability of information and/or its sources, enable transparency and traceability, and promote trust in news displayed on the Internet.”

Italy

Lawyers file case against hacked crypto exchange BitGrail: BitGrail exchange’s troubles continue as a group of lawyers representing the victim traders whose digital currencies were lost during a recent hack on the BitGrail exchange filed a convincing case against the exchange.

The original hacking of the exchange was in February 2018 and saw a mammoth 17 million Nano tokens hacked worth around USD 187 million at the time. The exchange will probably have to file for bankruptcy if the verdict comes against it.

France

Authorities drop crypto tax after appeal by crypto community: The French government has eased gains taxes on cryptocurrencies after a Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) decision taken during this week. Previously, they could have been as much as 45% for larger users which, coupled with social security contributions, would see it swell to a whopping 62% but, the French government reduced it to 19% according to French Daily Le Monde.

Cryptocurrencies have also been placed in a category called “movable property” but crypto mining falls into a different category than trading. The move follows mixed reactions from the state machinery and government in France with the former proposing a ban and the latter easing restrictions to attract cryptocurrency investment in the country.

United Kingdom

Crypto union pushing UK government to regulate blockchain industry: While regulations are often seen as roadblocks, the British cryptocurrency union called CryptoUK is urging the government and the treasury to help regulate the industry in the country. The self-regulatory union is made up of eight members and they have been approaching influential MPs to use the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to regulate the industry.

The chair of CryptoUK and UK managing director of trading platform eToro, Iqbal Gandham, said:

“Introducing a requirement for the FCA to regulate the ‘on-off’ ramps between crypto and fiat currencies is well within the remit of HM Treasury. Based on our analysis, this could be achieved relatively easily, without the need for primary legislation, and would have a huge impact, both in reducing consumer risk and improving industry standards.”

The group is favoring regulating exchanges, brokers and platforms instead of currencies themselves.

Barclays refutes report of crypto trading desk: UK-based Barclays Bank has negated recent reports that it aims to set up a cryptocurrency trading desk like other financial players in the world such as Canada. Barclays UK has announced new ventures into blockchain technology but categorically denied setting up a trading desk for cryptocurrencies.

Barclays’ spokesman Andrew Smith said this in a statement:

“We constantly monitor developments in the digital currency space and will continue to have a dialogue with our clients on their needs and intentions in this market.”

Barclays CEO Jes Stately, however, has termed cryptocurrency a “real challenge”, suggesting the bank is still not ready to accept cryptocurrencies openly itself.

Russia

Putin plans to use crypto and blockchain to defy sanctions: Russia currently has been slapped with significant sanctions by the NATO bloc but according to Putin’s top economic advisor, the Russian government is looking to use cryptocurrencies and blockchain to avoid these sanctions.

Sergei Galzev, the advisor said, “We can settle accounts with our counterparties all over the world with no regard for sanctions.”

Putin is especially interested in cryptocurrencies since it was revealed that his opponent has been receiving campaign donations in Bitcoin and aims to use the anonymity and universal application of cryptocurrencies to strengthen the Russian government and its foreign influence around the world.

Siberian conditions appeal to crypto miners: Cheap electricity and cold climate in Siberia is found to be appealing to cryptocurrency miners around the world with many aiming to establish their mining set ups in this remote part of the world. The cold climate provides natural cooling to ASIC chips that produce a large amount of heat.

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

Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 6th to 13th April 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

EU urged to become a leader in blockchain technology: Vice President of the European Commission Andrus Ansip has called for Europe to become the leader in blockchain technology around the world. Ansip said this during the EC’s Digital Day 2018 convention in Brussels on 10 April. He urged the governments to invest in the technology both politically and financially in the future.

“A significant number of member states have already started to pioneer blockchain initiatives with the aim of developing and reinforcing local innovation ecosystems and aiming to create governmental services on the blockchain,” he said.

United Kingdom

Survey shows 20% of UK adults will own cryptocurrency in the next five years: A recent survey in the UK by Citigate Dewe Rogerson came to the conclusion that cryptocurrency will become more and more popular with the local people in the future with more than 20% of adults likely to own cryptocurrencies in the next three years and as much as 1 in 10 stores already accepting cryptocurrencies.

Head of marketing at Paymentsense Gur Moreve said: “It’s clear that cryptocurrencies are moving swiftly towards the mainstream. However, small business owners considering cryptocurrency as a payment option should be clear about how they can integrate it with their existing financial arrangements. Will suppliers or staff accept it? Can they pay local and national government agencies with it?”

UK’s financial watchdog to deliver crypto regulation analysis next year: The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently announced that they are undertaking a long-term study regarding the risks and benefits for Blockchain regulations and cryptocurrency tradings. The study will be delivered in 2019.

The FCA Business Plan 2018/19 states: “Cryptocurrencies has been an area of increasing interest for markets and regulators globally. In the UK, the Treasury Committee has announced that it will be launching an enquiry, to which we intend to respond.”

FCA warns against cryptocurrency derivatives: The UK’s top financial watchdog is of the opinion that cryptocurrency derivatives will require authorization from the financial agency to do business. The FCA website posted last Friday that derivatives have the quality to be considered as tradable assets but they need to be registered with the government to be lent legitimacy.

Hull launching its own cryptocurrency: Hull city is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency according to latest reports coming from the UK. The city with a 262,200 population will launch HullCoin and will implement “the world’s first Community Loyalty Point” according to latest reports. The coin will come pre-mined and individuals will partake in social activities and earn Hull Coins.

France

C’est magnifique! French chickens on blockchain: French supermarket Carrefour has recently announced that it has incorporated blockchain technology into a data system that allows shoppers to track the full history of the chickens they are buying.

This innovative approach came is currently limited to poultry in the Chain’s Auvergne stores but will be adopted for the majority of their inventory. Carrefour is one of the world’s largest retailers in the world coming only after US giant Walmart.

Germany

Localbitcoins.com to stop operations in Germany due to regulatory disagreements: Localbitcoins, one of the largest Bitcoin buying/selling portals in the world, is withdrawing from the German market for a while because of regulatory reasons. This may be a worrying sign for the German cryptocurrency industry and comes as a surprise after the country vowed not to “over-regulate” cryptocurrencies.

Officially, Germany recognizes Bitcoin as “private money”, which is short of calling it a real currency.

Spain

Sixty cryptocurrency companies contacted by Spanish tax authorities: In a sweeping move, more than 60 Spanish cryptocurrency companies have been contacted by the Spanish tax authorities regarding their clients according to a report by El Confidencial. Among these are 40 businesses that accept online cryptocurrency payments.

The move comes after the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Maroy’s party announced that his team was preparing legislation including possible tax breaks to attract cryptocurrency companies to the Iberian country.

Eleven arrested in crypto drug money laundering: Spanish Guardia Civil has arrested 11 people involved in laundering more than EUR 8 million via cryptocurrencies and fiat sources according to the latest press release by Europol. The individuals arrested were part of a crime ring which launders narcotics money using credit cards and cryptocurrencies.

Russia

Mining company charged with USD 1 million in electricity theft: Russian police have arrested two illegal cryptocurrency miners after an investigation found them mining without a license on stolen electricity. More than 6,000 pieces of mining equipment were found on the site which was at an abandoned factory in Orenburg, a small town 1,458 km away from Moscow.

Russian state bank to trial cryptocurrency transactions: Russia’s Gazprombank has announced that it plans to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions in Switzerland. An interview with Russian news outlet Vedomosti revealed that the operations would be for the benefit of the bank itself and not for commercial purposes at the moment.

According to the bank’s head, “this is a demand from the sides of our large private clients for such amenities”, acknowledging the significant call for traditional banks to streamline the banking services of clients holding cryptocurrency funds.

 

The post Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 6th to 13th April 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.