Category Archives: Latvia

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Latest Report Shows US at Top of Most Favorable Countries for ICOs

The US has been ranked as the “most favorable” country for Initial Coin offerings (ICOs) according to a recent report linked to the Crypto Finance Conference, writes Cointelegraph.

According to the report, figures show that the US has seen 30 crypto start-ups launched, along with Switzerland and Singapore in the top three with 15 and 11 project launches respectively. The data was compiled by examining 100 ICO’s worldwide in terms of fundraising and designating their countries of origin.

The report also identified Russia, the UK, and Estonia as good locations for startup fundraising industry. Many crypto companies are now doing business in Estonia with Lithuania and Latvia, also experiencing an economic boom recently. Estonia’s widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies and fintech has become a breeding ground for new startups.

The start-up frenzy reached it hiatus in March of this year with $2.94 being raised in one month, although as many as 1000 cryptocurrencies have gone to the wall on the back of Bitcoin’s recent declining fortunes this year. The good news for the industry is the doubling of 2017’s start-ups in just the first half of 2018.

Second place Switzerland on the ICO report seems to be going from strength to strength with regulators attempts to support mainstream use, and startups in Crypto Valley are thriving as a result. Another step along that road has been the recent announcement that the country’s stock exchange, SIX, will open its doors to digital currencies.

Third place Singapore continues to deal with regulatory issues as it grows as an Asian start-up hub. Singapore, always at the forefront of technological advancement saw startup Tangem release its own version of a physical bitcoin banknote recently.

The US, in top place in the recent report in the ICO popularity stakes, continues to focus its attention on regulating the industry, particularly at State level. New major mining projects are making use of past defunct industry locations and making new homes in such installations, replacing steel for the cryptocurrency as the states attempt to integrate crypto into existing tax legislation.

Arizona is one of many states regulating ICO’s with a view to paving the way for regulatory framework for initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the state, although earlier this year both New Hampshire and the state of Georgia failed to pass a bill that was to require the state to accept cryptocurrencies for payment of taxes and license fees.

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Bitcoin is ‘Back in the USSR’

Russia’s launch of its first crypto investment bank is the hot news from Eastern Europe’s sleeping bear, but how is the old USSR and the rest of the eastern bloc holding up in the charge to regulate the nascent industry in the region?

In the Ukraine capital, Kiev, plans are underway to site a statue of the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, in the same location where a statue of Russian communist revolutionary Lenin, used to stand. This appears to augur well for the bitcoin community… or does it?

Things are changing since ex-President Victor Yanukovich created his own cryptocurrency oligarchy; the pro- Russian leader is now exiled in Russia and wanted in his home county for high treason. Today, according to businessman Michael Chobanian, who opened the first Ukraine exchange offering national currency hryvnia for Bitcoin: “Ukraine is a haven for cryptocurrency – no one can or will stop you.”

His comments don’t exactly ring true in light of recent swoops by state security forces on Kvazar semiconductor plant in Kiev, where a large mining operation was located. This, a month after armed men from Ukraine’s Security Service broke into the Odessa offices of ForkLog, a major Russian-language crypto news site, and seized its computers and hard drives.

In an attempt to start a dialogue on cryptocurrency, Alexei Mushak, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, has sought to urge the people to comment on Bitcoin, taking to Facebook to do so recently, stating:

“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…”

Cryptocurrency regulation in Ukraine remains a work in progress, despite the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) stating that it was “considering” introducing a digital version of the hryvnia earlier this year.

Ukraine’s northern neighbor Belarus has taken what appears to be a sensible approach to a difficult problem in some of the old USSR states. Both blockchain and cryptocurrency related business activities are legislated under the law in Belarus. Mining and exchanges are not regarded as business activities and consequently are not subject to taxation. In fact, the great news for crypto investors is they are not required to declare crypto income until 2023.

Traveling through the old USSR even further north, Estonia even toyed briefly with launching its own cryptocurrency, the Estcoin, through the country’s e-residency program, but later shelved the idea.

The e-residency program, introduced in 2014, allows non-Estonians access to national services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation. The program also allows anyone in the world to apply for a digital ID card and gain access to Estonian e-services when planning to start a company in the country.

Many crypto companies are now doing business in Estonia and the Baltic region is becoming a “Northern crypto-paradise” along with Lithuania and Latvia, both also experiencing an economic boom recently. Estonia’s widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies and fintech has, therefore, become a breeding ground for new startups.

Latvia has the crypto bug, but not necessarily the support it would want from its government, with the Latvian central bank maintaining a keep away stance as its advice to customers.

Latvia currently levies a 20% capital gains tax, and applying it to cryptocurrency would reportedly require a change in the country’s tax laws. Currently, cryptocurrencies are not recognized under existing legislation. However, its exponential growth in the Baltic country has generated an increased interest from the government as a potential tax revenue.

Lithuania has recently become a growing center for ICOs and crypto projects. Latest figures show that Lithuania is now attracting an impressive 10% of all global ICO investments, with cryptocurrency bringing in half a billion euros from such activities.

 

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Latvia Joins Baltic Neighbor Estonia to Drive Fintech and Blockchain Charge

The Baltic state of Latvia may be a fledgling in terms of fintech development but it is beginning to make real inroads into developing the space, writes Fintech Switzerland.

Fintech has a rapidly growing footprint in the startup scene and cryptocurrency interest is growing despite government’s uncertainty regarding regulations in the sector.

Latvia currently levies a 20% capital gains tax, and applying it to cryptocurrency would reportedly require a change in the country’s tax laws. Currently, cryptocurrencies are not recognized under existing legislation. However, its exponential growth in the Baltic country has generated an increased interest from the government as a potential tax revenue.

Latvia is still lagging behind its crypto-friendly neighbor Estonia, which is beginning to attract outside companies due to its innovative and vibrant crypto community. Estonia has a significant internet penetration and has recently considered its own national token, the Estcoin, although it later rejected the proposal for a CBDC.

However, Latvia is well networked, occupying the third position in the OECD with its fast fiber-optic broadband and has several government programs active after launching the introduction of a startup visa in 2017. This change to legislation introduced new tax laws which effectively doubled venture capital investors’ money for new companies.

Along with an EUR 15 million hand out to seed investments and several conferences held in Latvia’s capital Riga every year, the fintech space is catching up with its neighbors. The Latvian Startup Association also promotes new business in the country, although with such a small market and a population of 2 million, business is increasingly searching for new overseas markets.

In March 2018, Latvia hosted an international discussion between industry experts on the future of fintech in the Baltics and the overall EU, which featured the vice-president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, as keynote speaker.

European fintech platform and community B-Hive recently released a research paper showing that the most developed technological area in the country’s economy is now fintech with a startup industry worth USD 878 million, with blockchain technology a contributing factor.

 

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Estonia’s $2.3M Platform Supports ‘Northern Crypto Paradise’ Tag

With the news that an Estonian invite-only entrepreneurs’ community has raised USD 2.3 million to develop a “founders to founders” skill-sharing platform, Estonia continues to make its mark on the crypto space in the region.

Estonian World reported that the new platform, Lift99, aims to “build an online community of influencers and startup talents to lead this revolution. As the E-residency program has shown, it’s in the local DNA to think outside of the box, especially in the startup world”.

The e-residency program, introduced in 2014, allows non-Estonians access to Estonian services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation. The program also allows anyone in the world to apply for a digital ID card and gain access to Estonian e-services when planning to start a company in the country.

“We’re working to make e-residency the best option globally for entrepreneurs launching a trusted ICO, while proceeding with three variants of our own ‘Estcoin’ under consideration,” Kaspar Korjus, managing director of e-residency at Enterprise Estonia, wrote in a Medium blog post.

Many crypto companies are now doing business in Estonia. According to Cryptovest, the Baltic region is becoming a “Northern crypto-paradise” with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia experiencing an economic boom recently. Estonia’s widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies and fintech has become a breeding ground for new startups.

Estonia is a country with a significant internet penetration and now boasts its own Bitcoin ATMs established back in 2015 when the capital Tallinn saw the installation of its first machine. The government has also recently considered its own token, the ‘Estcoin’.

Another reason for Estonia’s raised profile in the region is due to the country’s proximity to Russia, where the future of cryptocurrencies continues to be uncertain, despite Vladimir Putin’s recent comments regarding adopting a state crypto-rouble, according to Entrepreneur Europe. Crypto adoption in Russia still remains at a punitive stage, until the country makes its next change of direction. This makes neighboring states an attractive proposition for Russian investment.

The region also has a relatively high concentration of Bitcoin full nodes, which strongly correlates with cryptocurrency knowledge and adoption. Along with a favorable tax policy, supportive regulators and safe ICOs, it appears that Estonia remains on solid ground in the crypto space.

 

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