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Europe Cryptocurrency News Roundup 14-20 September 2018

Welcome to another weekly blockchain and cryptocurrency news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country. In this article, we cover Europe.

United Kingdom

Government raises concerns about protecting investors in the bear market: A parliamentarian questioned the government’s ability to help the country’s blockchain industry in the current and future bearish scenarios.

The question raised by Lord Taylor of Warwick received a response from Lord Bates, the Minister of International Development Department who stated that the government hasn’t made a formal assessment of the situation yet, and it continues to monitor the whole situation.

Treasury wants “Wild West” cryptocurrency market regulated: In a recent report by the United Kingdom Treasury Committee, the cryptocurrency market needs to be regulated which it referred to as the “Wild West”.

The committee is made up of MPs who oversee the branch and have begun to urge the lawmakers to address numerous risks outlined in their report. The government’s response is awaited.

France

Country to celebrate 10 years of Bitcoin with art exhibition: The French artists in celebration of the dawn of the new cryptocurrency age have come together to have a crypto-themed art exhibition in the country.

The focus of the exhibition will be on how Bitcoin is changing the relationship between the artist and the audience. All showcased pieces of art can be purchased through top cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero.

European Union

Terrorism is funded by cash, not Bitcoin: EU Police: A detailed report by the Europol or the European Police has clarified that the primary source of funding for terrorist activities is conventional banking channels and cash, not cryptocurrencies.

The reason behind the use of cash was given that it is a tried and tested form of funding. Alternative currencies like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies log a lot of public transactions and are of little interest to terrorist cells operating in the country. Europol is based in Hague and supports the 28-nation coalition in its struggle against terrorism, cybercrime and other organized criminal activities.

Switzerland

Switzerland, Israel working on blockchain regulatory processes: The government of Israel and Switzerland are working to implement blockchain regulation in their countries in a deal that will open up the access of Swiss banks to Israel.

During a recent trip to Israel, Switzerland’s Minister of Finance Ueli Maurer met with the Israeli authorities and discussed terms for entering the Israeli market with high ranking officials. Switzerland’s quest for access to the Middle Eastern country’s markets will likely propel its blockchain industry further.

Ukraine

Government to introduce Crypto Tax Bill: The Ukrainian government is looking to pass a cryptocurrency regulation bill in the country that will tax both operations and assets in the country.

According to a draft law shared by the parliament channel, a 5% tax is being proposed on individuals and legal entities that are operating with cryptocurrencies and tokens. Businesses can face as much as 18% taxation as that is the standard rate in Eastern Europe.

Russia

Lobbyists push a new Crypto Regulation Bill: A lobby group in Russia is working to push an alternative cryptocurrency regulation bill in the country which will fight with the government’s own Digital Financial Bill for adoption by the parliament.

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) are trying to give a special status to cryptocurrencies and the regulation itself is being solely entrusted to the central bank. It is yet unclear whether any recommendations of this new bill will actually be adopted by the parliament.

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France Celebrates 10 Years of Bitcoin With National Art Exhibition

In celebration of Bitcoin’s upcoming tenth birthday, international artists have come together to offer a crypto-themed exhibition in France.

Thematically, the exhibition will explore how cryptocurrencies can inspire artists to look beyond the traditional social parameters that influence their work, including the banking system. The collaborating artists have been given the challenge to identify how Bitcoin changes the relationship between artist and audience, and identify how it can liberate creative expressions.

Artist and organizer Pascal Boyart said that the exhibition, Art (r)evolution, is a unique opportunity for creative minds to explore how exactly the emerging technologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency may influence the art world. Artists were also given the mission to hide Bitcoin symbols within their work somewhere not easily visible to surprise buyers and attendees.

One of the most significant blockchain developments in the art community is the ability it gives creators and buyers to track and prove ownership over pieces of work. Event organizers have posted the question to participating artists, querying whether now it is possible to sell works independently without intermediaries, empowering the creators financially.

All of the showcased work will be available to purchase with some of the most prominent cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Monero.

Held in Paris, Boyart said this was a deliberate choice as the French capital has historically been the place for new artistic movements, and he believes it can become the key location for the crypto-art movement to blossom. He added,”The advent of cryptocurrencies is not just a monetary revolution, it’s also a cultural revolution.”

Boyart is well known in the cryptosphere thanks to a graffiti mural he painted that included a QR code connected to his Bitcoin wallet so people could make donations to him. His initiative reportedly earned him USD 1,000 from donors.

Other artists attending the event include Andy Bauch, Coin Artist, Nanu Berks, Yom de Saint Phalle, Ilies Issiakhem, Josephine Bellini, Yosh, Mark Bern, Choq and Youl.

The event is scheduled from 28 September to 5 October 2018 and is open to the public.

 

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Europol: It’s Cash that Funds Terrorism

A 72-page long report recently published by Europol has clarified that it is conventional banking which is the primary source of terrorist funding such as the recent attacks on European cities.

The report explains that such outrages are financed through cash as it is a tried and tested form of funding. Finding an alternative source, such as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which publicly log transactions, is of little interest to terrorist cells operating in Europe, according to the findings.

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.

Also, in line with the findings of the report, in the US last week, a senior member of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies Centre on Sanctions and Illicit Finance spoke out against anti-crypto rhetoric, particularly those aimed at the financing of militant jihad.

A senior member of the center, Yaya Fanusie maintained that despite continual references by governments around the world that cryptocurrency finances terrorist activity, terrorist networks have been mainly unsuccessful in using cryptocurrency to fund their activities. The Europol report agreed, stating:

“…despite the clear potential, none of the attacks carried out on European soil appear to have been funded via cryptocurrencies. The use of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups has only involved low-level transactions – their main funding still stems from conventional banking and money remittance services.”

It is undeniable that just like cash, cryptocurrencies are on the radar of criminals but the use of Bitcoin in criminal activity has dropped to 35% of the market share from a peak of 80% when the flagship digital currency was its infancy. It is now known that criminals are more likely to use Zcash and Monero across the globe than Bitcoin. The report clarifies that:

“While the criminal abuse of cryptocurrencies remains largely within the realm of cybercrime, some Member States reported that they are increasingly encountering their use by non-cyber [organized crime groups].”

The report concludes that law enforcement information sharing and tighter security measures are the best weapons cybersecurity has against cyber-attacks.

 

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UK Government Questioned on Protection of Domestic Blockchain Industry in Bear Market

A question was posed to Lord Bates in parliament Monday regarding the UK’s ability to support the domestic blockchain industry in the current bear market that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are facing.

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked his colleague: “Her Majesty’s Government, what assessment have they made of reports that the value of crypto-currencies in the United States is falling, and of the potential effects that such a decline might have on the UK blockchain industry?”

Lord Bates, Minister of State at the Department for International Development responded, saying that as of yet the government has not made a formal assessment of the implication that the current market performance might bring. He added, ”However, the Government continues to monitor developments in the cryptocurrency market.”

The Cryptoassets Taskforce was pointed to by Lord Bates as evidence that the government is taking the potential risks of cryptocurrencies seriously. The taskforce comprises of members from HM Treasury, the Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and members of parliament, and maintains responsibility for determining any issues that the blockchain industry might face.

A report from the Cryptoassests Taskforce is due this Autumn, and Lord Bates’s pressing question will hopefully be answered within the publishment.

A ‘balanced approach’

Last week, Bitcoin News reported that the UK’s FCA chief Andrew Bailey wants the nation to take a ”balanced approach” to the cryptocurrency industry. In a speech in London, Bailey said that the FCA is keen to explore the potentials of the underlying technology of cryptocurrency, blockchain. He told the crowd, “The FCA is firmly a supporter of innovation.”

With the UK’s largest financial regulator onside, this is promising that the UK’s growing blockchain industry will get official support, despite the poor performance of the market this year.

 

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Ukraine Pursues Crypto Tax Bill

Ukraine is looking to pass a bill that would tax both cryptocurrency operations and assets, according to a draft version of the laws shared by the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

A 5% tax on individuals and legal entities is proposed on operations utilizing cryptocurrencies and tokens, with businesses that claim crypto-related profits suggested to pay 18% tax on this total amount. This 18% is the standard corporate and business tax rate in the Eastern European nation.

The proposed legislation is the result of a 23-member strong parliamentary team who are looking to implement the changes to the tax plan gradually between 2019 and by January 2024. The motivation for these individuals lies in a desire to create more state revenue and promote cryptocurrency activities by offering a legally compliant, regulated environment.

A figure of UAH 1.27 billion (approximately USD43 million) is cited by the politicians as the potential amount of state budget revenue that could be collected annually between 2019 and 2024 if the bill is approved by the parliament.

Right now, cryptocurrency operations are not technically controlled by the government, meaning that many are concerned about the legal implications of entering the market and are therefore choosing not to do so, and also that crypto-related businesses are technically working in an unsustainable grey zone, dissuading them from expansion and potentially innovation.

In September last year, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers on the Financial Stability Board held a discussion to determine the legal status of all virtual currencies, overseen by the Verkhovna Rada. The outcome of this was, however, unsatisfactorily clear, and has led to crypto mining operations being raided and shut down, with secret service agents even allegedly stealing profits from the miners in several cases.

With Ukraine still subject to occupation from separatist groups in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the government claims that one of the largest mining raids was connected to Russian banks that were financing the occupation. The Kvazar semiconductor plant in Kiev was raided last year, with over USD 4 million of mining equipment taken, including 1,000 graphics cards and 1,500 hard disks.

Regulating and taxing the cryptocurrency space in Ukraine could well prove to be the solution for solving the troubled climate that seems to be partly a result of the autonomous nature of the space.

 

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ECB Chief Reiterates Lack of CBDC Justification

European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi has reconfirmed to the European Parliament that there are no plans to create a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Draghi cited a lack of any prevailing economic conditions to warrant such as step, going on to suggest that DLTs hadn’t been severely tested as yet and still required “substantial further development before they could be used in a central bank context”.

The fact that discussions around the world about CBDCs is gaining some impetus hasn’t escaped the ECB or EU financial regulators, particularly in the light of Sweden’s Riksbank considering its own e-krona due to dwindling interest in cash and a rise in the use electronic money in that country.

The ECB, at one time scathing in its condemnation digital currency, has recently demonstrated a change of its stance, even suggesting that cryptocurrencies have a place in the future. It recently suggested that the financial body should begin to “…work on exchanges and platforms which provide services at the interface between crypto-assets and the real economy”. The comments were made earlier this year by Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau who also sits on the ECB’s Governing Council.

Bitcoin’s rising popularity currently feeds the debate globally whether the future direction of money is electronic rather than paper. The ECB chief has suggested however that an ECB digital currency would mean that the central bank would set itself against the banking sector in such a scenario and lead to potentially substantial operational costs and risks.

A view held by some experts is that a CBDC could make quantitative easing more effective bypassing the banking sector, also as a substitute for bank deposits, strengthen the transmission of monetary policy changes to the economy. Such views assert that a CBDC need not be nearly as disruptive as the ECB maintain in its criticism of the concept.

 

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TV Drama Features Crypto, Still the Elephant in the Room?

Another TV staple added some extra exposure to cryptocurrency. Britain’s longest running TV drama Coronation Street, added a scenario fitting a recent script.

The soap, Coronation Street, is one of the world’s oldest show running on British TV since 1960 and has a run of 9,500 episodes since its creation. The show is watched nightly by over 8 million viewers in the UK and many more around Europe.

The plots, always set in a working-class neighborhood in Manchester, deal with the daily struggles of loves and lives of those living in one street. The current plot in question focused on a local Ryan Conner, an ex-drug user with a serious gambling problem. He remembers a £50 investment he once made in a cryptocurrency called “Whipcoin” (fictional), only to discover that his investment is now worth £250 million.

Of course, he’s forgotten his password, but eventually, upon locating the coins, he finds that the information he was given about the coin was wrong. Although, his investment in Whipcoin had indeed been worth £250 million when the price of the coin peaked. It had since then plummetted in value to practically zero.

Channels such as Bitcoin News continue to bring the latest in cryptocurrency to the public, but the sector still needs greater mainstream media exposures. Although, this is happening slowly with exposure on popular mainstream television such as The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, House of Cards, Supernatural, The Good Wife, Silicon Valley, Family Guy, and Parks and Recreation.

The Big Screen is slow to integrate scripts with Bitcoin or cryptocurrency as a theme, but there are a few in the pipeline such as “Crypto,” starring Kurt Russell in the lead role. The film, already in post-production, is reportedly a crime-based thriller following in the footsteps of films such as Wall Street, Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short which focussed on the economic crisis of 2008.

Such films about the financial sector are becoming increasingly popular and tend to get good box office ratings as a result. Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street quickly became the prolific filmmaker’s top-grossing film at the worldwide box office shortly after its release.

Publisher Little Brown is to release a biography about crypto twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss called “Bitcoin Billionaires”. The book, which is to be published both in the UK and US next year, has been bought by Richard Beswick, Little Brown’s publishing director.

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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 7th to 13th September 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 Commission believes crypto has a future: The Vice President of the European Commission has said that cryptocurrencies will definitely have a place in the future at the second Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) press conference.

Vladis Dombrovokis said in his speech:

“We also had a good exchange of views on crypto-assets. We see that crypto-assets are here to stay. Despite the recent turbulence, this market continues to grow… In particular, initial coin offerings, or ICOs, we see they have the potential to emerge as a viable form of alternative financing. Already last year, ICOs helped raise over USD 6 billion in funding and this year this figure will be substantially bigger.”

He also pointed out the main issues posed by digital currencies including legislation and regulation.

Ireland

Women blockchain forum launched to advance awareness: Blockchain Women Ireland (BWI) was launched in the Republic of Ireland to raise further awareness of the blockchain sector and get more and more women involved in it.

The forum will also promote blockchain and cryptocurrencies as a potential career for Irish women and keep them apprised of the useful educational opportunities in the country.

UK

Financial regulator calls for balanced crypto approach: UK’s Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) top executive has called for a “balanced approach” towards cryptocurrencies in a speech last Tuesday.

He made these comments in the FCA’s Annual Public Meeting and said that it was “keen to see the potential of the underlying technology”. He also said that FCA is not ruling out cryptoassets for itself.

France

Football club to launch own crypto: French football champions Paris Saint-Germain has announced that the club will undergo an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to incentivize supporters over a blockchain.

The club has announced a partnership with top blockchain company Socios.com for this purpose. The partnership is similar to the one already existing within in the fanbase of famed clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona. It will give way to a crowd management concept for the football club.

Iceland

Financial watchdog announces registration of first crypto exchange: Iceland’s top financial regulator Financial Supervisory Authority (FME) has announced the registration of the first cryptocurrency exchange in the country.

The move comes after years of attempts by cryptocurrency exchanges to get in the tiny Scandinavian country. The exchange allowed is called Skiptimynt and will allow two trading pairs for now including Krona/BTC and Krona/Aurora.

The country is already a cryptocurrency mining haven because of its cold climate but cryptocurrency trading and exchanges have had difficulties getting into the market before.

Russia

Central bank announces successful ICO experiment: The deputy director of the Bank of Russia (BoR) has said that the trial experiment of an ICO was a technical success, paving way for further research and new projects.

According to local news outlet TASS, Ivan Semagin, the deputy director in question broke this news in an Easter Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia. While everything was technically all right, he did mention that the experiment showed several legal issues with the ICO that the government needs to look into.

BoR is rapidly experimenting with blockchain and cryptocurrencies and has developed a regulatory platform in April this year already for local businesses. Russia is also experimenting with a blockchain-based voting system.

 

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New French ICO Framework Attracts Innovation, Boosts Macron’s Business Plan

France is continuing to follow President Macron’s plan raise its business profile in the world by establishing a legal framework for ICOs.

A recent Autorité des Marchés Financier (AMF) annual report indicated that ICOs are most definitely on the agenda for further regulatory framework as Robert Ophèle, President of the AMF, indicated that the government body would:

“…continue to reflect on changes in the regulatory framework in the face of new offers, in particular, the Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), and to promote at European level the French regulator’s approach to innovation.”

The government has now taken one step further with a new announcement by finance minister Bruno Le Maire that the corresponding legislation, Article 26, had now been “adopted in (parliamentary) committee”, to improve business growth in the country, adding, “This legal framework will attract innovators from around the world of blockchain…”

✅Article 26 adopté en commission #PACTE !

➡Un cadre juridique des #ICO est créé. L’@AMF_actu pourra délivrer un visa aux acteurs respectant des critères de protection des épargnants
➡Ce cadre juridique va attirer les innovateurs du monde entier #blockchain #DirectAN

— Bruno Le Maire (@BrunoLeMaire) September 12, 2018

The legislation will allow the AMF to now approve businesses wanting to launch ICOs in France, given certain criteria are met by companies that “those projects provide specific guarantees for investors”.

Law firm Kramer Levin sees the new legislation providing a clear a definition of tokens for would-be French investors, suggesting that a token is:

“An intangible property representing, in numerical form, one or more rights that can be issued, registered, conserved or transferred using a shared electronic registration mechanism that facilitates the identification, directly or indirectly, of the owner of said property.”

After the lackluster and largely ineffective government led by previous president Francois Holland, Macron’s new regime has taken businesses to task with real vigor in an attempt to refresh outmoded business practices and regulations and inspire overseas faith in a new forward-looking approach, largely driven by government.

President Macron is seen by those that know him well and experts in the sector as a pro-tech leader, believing that he will further the interests of startups in the crypto industry as part of his business rejuvenation plan for the nation.

 

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It’s 2-0 as Brazilian and French Football Teams Go Crypto

With an increase in football teams and individual players taking up crypto-related products, two more clubs have picked up this current trend.

Two teams, Brazilian Avaí Futebol and top French club Paris Saint-Germain have both recently announced their own crypto token sales.

Avai Futebol Clube, currently languishing in Brazils Series B second tier, has announced plans for a USD 20 million ICO to develop a fanbase digital ecosystem in order to gain promotion to the higher Series A division. With promotion, the club would then be able to compete in the prestigious Copa Libertadores and make much-needed infrastructure modifications.

The club plans to work with SportyCo and Blackbridge Sports to sell 20.46 million tokens at USD 1 each and retain another 7% of the issue. Avaí president Francisco José Battistotti suggests that the ICO is part of a real push to get promotion and spread the club’s fanbase to a wider audience:

“With our ICO, we are actively… engaging all Avaí FC in Florianópolis and Brazil, working together towards our goal – to become a stable member of Brazil’s Série A and qualify for the Copa Libertadores… paving the way for other clubs all over the world to approach financing their sporting activities in this novel way.”

The club has set a minimum target of USD 8 million with its eyes set on a USD 20 million fundraising round, although the management suggests that funds will be returned to investors should it not make the lower figure.

The announcement follows French football giants Paris Saint-Germain’s own statement earlier this week that it was planning to form a partnership with Malta-based blockchain company Socios.com to issue its own cryptocurrency. PSG have become the most famous club in French history having won a total of 38 trophies at the top level, including the EUFA Cup.

The Fan Token Offering (FTO) will allow fans with PSG tokens to vote on “cosmetic” club issues, such as awarding player prizes, choosing friendlies and choosing strip colours.

 

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