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Brazilian Presidential Candidate Addresses Need for Bitcoin Regulation

Brazilian presidential candidate João Goulart Filho from the Partido Pátria Livre (PPL) party recently gave an interview to local blockchain media outlet Criptomoedas Fácil where he discussed the necessity of regulations for the country’s growing cryptocurrency industry.

Filho said that he and his party are ”following with caution” the recent movement in the cryptocurrency market, mentioning the price collapse in January of this year that saw Bitcoin lose nearly half of its value. As they educate themselves more on the specifics, they hope to be able to provide much-needed and well-informed regulation for Brazil.

PPL, he said, is also examining the experiences that other countries have had with cryptocurrencies in order to see which methods of regulation have been necessary and most effective.

”There is no regulation in the country for the Bitcoin market or any other cryptocurrency except Bill number 2003 has been in existence in the Chamber of Deputies since 2015,” he told the reporter, adding that through monitoring the market they hope to gather more elements that can contribute to the most appropriate format of regulation.

Brazil is now the fourth largest Bitcoin market in terms of volume traded… [A regulatory] bill is being discussed in the Chamber of Deputies,” he concluded.

On blockchain

Filho was also asked his position on developing technologies, including blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), to which he responded that he had a ”visceral commitment” to their development and their ability to meet the increasing needs of the population.

”The digitization of the productive processes, although in its embryonic phase, is an integral part of the technological development,” he explained. According to the presidential candidate, there are 193 startups in Brazil that work with these emerging technologies.

PPL describe themselves as a scientific socialist party and Filho has proposed progressive investment policies to promote the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications as well as private technology companies, including reversing the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development’s budget cut from 2014.


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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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Russian Lobbyists Push Alternative Crypto Regulation Bill

A lobby group in Russia is actively working to push an alternative cryptocurrency legislation bill, which they say addresses the contradictions set in the government’s drafted ‘On Digital Financial Assets’ bill.

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) want to give cryptocurrency a special status, entrusting their regulation solely to the country’s central bank. The document they presented separates digital assets into three groups: tokens, which are equivalated to securities, cryptocurrencies, and so-called ‘digital signs’. It also sets out the rights of cryptocurrency exchanges and holders.

Behind RSPP’s bill proposal are some of Russia’s wealthiest business personnel. The group is headed by the president of the mining and metallurgical company “Norilsk Nickel” Vladimir Potanin. Other members include the head of Rostelecom Mikhail Oseevsky and the president of the Skolkovo fund Viktor Vekselberg. They say they have sought expert counsel from members of the government, including the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

Local media outlet Forklog reports that Potanin’s deputy Elina Sidorenko discussed the subject at lengths, saying that all of the composers of the bill are interested in promoting ”safe business.”

She detailed that On Digital Financial Assets, particularly parts one, two and four of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, as well as On Alternative Methods of Attracting Investments (crowdfunding), as contained in the initial draft proposal, is both crude and at odds with one another.

The lobby group hope their bill will be considered as a solution to these issues: “The project, proposed by the working group of the RUIE, is a legally balanced golden mean between the bills” On the CFA and On Amending the Civil Code of the Russian Federation “…and neutralizes the contradictions in them. It is designed by taking into account the western trends and the current Russian legislation.”

On the matter of cryptocurrencies, she says they hope to give them a special status never seen before in Russian law and that the central bank should issue operational licenses for exchanges. Ownership of cryptocurrencies should be very similar to the ownership of securities, she added.

The document is currently being negotiated within the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, and in early October it is scheduled to be discussed with state body representatives.

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Binance CEO Predicts 1,000 Times Swell in Crypto Market

As the crypto community discussed the future of the market this week, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has disagreed with recent remarks by Vitalik Buterin, suggesting that the Ethereum founder’s comments about a squeeze on cryptocurrency growth are completely wrong.

Buterin has denied that he made exactly those comments, Tweeting, “I never said that there is no room for growth in the crypto ecosystem. I said there is no room for 1000x price increases.” Buterin has claimed that the crypto market has practically reached its ceiling.

Further explaining that a thousand-fold growth would equal to 70% of the world’s entire wealth seems to have done little to halt Zhao’s charge that cryptocurrencies will go mainstream over time, and thereby reach exactly that level of growth and possibly more.

Zhao maintains that Buterin’s mistake is to view such a huge level of growth in terms of the traditional financial market, in which such a market expansion would be totally unrealistic. He feels that cryptocurrency is capable of making such an impact once it becomes fully operational with an accompanying derivatives market in full sway. He argues:

“I will say ‘crypto will absolutely grow 1000x and more’! Just reaching USD market cap will give it close to 1000x, (that’s just one currency with severely restricted use case), and the derivatives market is so much bigger.”

It is the case now that more central banks are on board with, or if not, certainly examining, cryptocurrencies with more than just a passing glance, and as such, the industry is gaining respect. Blockchain technology is now becoming influential in banking and business at the highest level, having gained respect from some of the world’s major players such as IBM and Microsoft. As central banks begin to delve deeper into the space, it is highly likely that smaller banks will also begin to take an active interest.

The more positive the impact that cryptocurrency makes on the financial system, the more that regulation is likely become not only clearer but more accommodating as crypto becomes the normal way to conduct business.

This is more likely to be the scenario that Binance’s head envisages in making such predictions; thinking of the big picture rather than the status quo. A USD 200 trillion market would make cryptocurrency the main source of payment and would certainly make stock markets around the world look very different. Clearly, a scenario that Zhao sees as achievable.


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Brave Pursues Legal Action Against Google for User Privacy Breach

Brave, a first of its kind internet browser powered by blockchain technology, is taking international legal action against Google for systematically breaching user privacy on a large scale. Google’s actions are probably in violation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, so Brave’s actions against Google could lead to an investigation and heavy fines from the European Data Protection Board.

Brave has filed complaints against Google in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Johnny Ryan, chief policy officer at Brave, says, “There is a massive and systematic data breach at the heart of the behavioral advertising industry. Despite the two-year lead-in period before the GDPR, adtech companies have failed to comply.”

Allegedly, Google collects personal data about a user and their internet behavior, and broadcasts it to dozens if not hundreds of data firms. Selling personal data is big business for Google, particularly using this data for its Adsense and Adwords products to display ads targeted at specific users. The online ad industry has grown to USD 273 billion this year, with Google being the biggest online ad service.

Research shows that this goes beyond ads. Google supposedly collects data on political ideology, sexuality, and ethnicity, and distributes this to data firms who are willing to pay for it. Essentially, Google is wiretapping the internet usage of the world and selling the data for profit. It has been speculated that this data goes to governments and is used for criminal investigations.

Brave was specifically designed to improve the privacy of internet users, as well as launching a completely new ad model where publishers and users are paid with a cryptocurrency called BAT. This eliminates the middleman in the online ad business. Middlemen such as Google take most of the profits for online ads, leaving only a small fraction for publishers.

Since Brave is actively trying to protect user privacy, it makes sense that it noticed Google’s data collection activities. Google has been compromising the privacy of the Brave browser, defeating its purpose.

If Brave is successful with the legal action, Google could be fined up to 4% of their yearly revenue, which is billions of dollars, and it would lead to a beneficial reduction of data collection by the internet giant and other internet firms. However, Google can afford the most powerful lobbyists and lawyers in the world, and some foresee that any fight against it won’t be easy.


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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 7th to 13th September 2018

Africa and the Middle East

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.

South Africa

Reserve bank bags award for best distributed ledger initiative: The South African Reserve Bank (SARS) has bagged the award for the best DLT initiative at the Fintech RegTech Global Awards 2018.

The project called Khokha saw seven banks conduct gross settlements of the native currency rand on the Quorum blockchain from JP Morgan’s Byznatine fault-tolerant system. The system is designed as a high-throughput blockchain-based interbank payment system that adheres to the country’s principles for Financial Market Infrastructures.

While the initiative is good, the bank overall has been reluctant to adopt blockchain and said:

“This is only the starting point… Key considerations that need to be addressed include the evaluation of supporting frameworks and other systems that integrate with the RTGS system, as well as the legal, regulatory and compliance factors.”

Blockchain technology is seen by many as a solution to overcome South Africa’s financial woes.


Blockchain startup Elkrem receives $75,000 for blockchain development: Egypt’s blockchain startup Elkrem has managed to secure crucial funding of USD 75,000 from the ConsenSys Tachyon blockchain accelerator to create a smart kit for blockchain Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Elkrem hopes to launch its products across the globe soon.

The company started back in January 2018 and got a seed investment of USD 250,000 from Endure Capital. The company also won the competition at EthDenver Hackathon that featured over 100 teams from around the world.


US company aims to bring blockchain banking to Nigeria: US blockchain development company HashCash is looking to engage financial institutions in Nigeria to set up potential blockchain solutions in the banking industry.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency’s popularity is increasing in the country and HashCash is aiming to profit from it. The case of financial exclusion of millions of Nigerians is a big point of concern for many and the government is keen on solving it. The company aims to use the wide accessibility of mobile devices to implement a blockchain-based banking solution. The move will be especially important for far remote areas and their mainstreaming.


Blockbank purchases stake in local Bank to provide blockchain banking: Blockbank, a cryptocurrency banking startup, has purchased a stake in local Kenyan bank Spire. This strategic acquisition will allow the startup to provide global blockchain and cryptocurrency payments and other banking services to the customers of the bank.

The bank’s aim to is to provide users with a platform for faster transactions and increased transparency.


Currency crisis forces Turkey to focus on blockchain and crypto: Turkey’s lira has been suffering from a crisis in recent weeks due to sanctions imposed by the US after a diplomatic row. To counter these effects and move towards a crypto future that is free from US intervention and sanctions, Turkey is working to adopt blockchain and cryptocurrencies into its fintech space.

The Turkish Borsa Stock Exchange has announced the development of a first blockchain-powered customer database for the exchange services and a result, the Istanbul Gold Exchange and the Turkish Derivatives Exchange (TurkDex) will both move forward to a blockchain-based future.

Cryptocurrency trading is also becoming more and more popular in the country as people look to circumnavigate the effects of lira depreciation.

United Arab Emirates

Market watchdog recognizes crypto as securities: The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority has unveiled new regulation to give cryptocurrencies the status of a security.

According to the regulator’s statement:

“In light of the rapid development of the digital tokens market and the response thereto by the regulators in a number of countries worldwide towards regulating the initial coin offerings (ICOs), the SCA Board of Directors has approved the SCA plan to regulate the ICOs and recognize them as securities.”

UAE has become one of the crypto hubs of the region, allowing more and more blockchain companies to grow under its umbrella.


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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 7th to 13th September 2018

South America

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.


Government advised to buy crypto to resolve currency crisis: CoinDesk’s advisory board chairman Michael J Casey has advised the Argentinian government to buy Bitcoin to address financial challenges presenting the country.

The country has been in an economic crisis for the past 30 years and tried a number of solutions of conventional nature to overcome this issue. According to Casey, an out-of-the-box solution like cryptocurrencies is needed to overcome the circular challenges that are present in the fiat model of today.

While it may be a radical move, Argentina must try to look for innovative solutions, according to the adviser.


Brazilian Association of CryptoEconomics launched: The Brazilian Association of Cryptoeconomics (ABCCripto) was launched in the country with several members of the Brazilian cryptocurrency scene signing up as pioneering members.

Among the new members, notable names include Luiz Roberto Calado, founder of exchange Bitcoin Market, Natália Garcia, Legal Director at Foxbit and vice president of ABCripto and other members of the community.

Blockchain community holds election through blockchain: The Brazilian Association of Fintech (ABFintech) will hold elections for a new board of directors on 9 October with the help of blockchain technology.

Foxbit, a Brazilian cryptocurrency broker, is about to write an important chapter in its history by moving for a blockchain-based voting system. The election will use the system of OriginalMy, a Brazilian startup specializing in digital signatures and certification of documents through blockchain technology.

Brazilian MPs in talks for creation of parliamentary block for the promotion of crypto: The rising popularity of cryptocurrencies in the country is showing as several members of the Brazilian parliament have started the creation of a Joint Parliamentary Block for Blockchain and Digital Assets.

The current chair of the Science and Technology Commission is responsible for the initiative and has the support of Brazilian Association of Cryptomoedas and Blockchain (ABCB). The parliamentarians are hopeful they can promote the vital industry in the country.

Presidential candidate will implement digital government: A Brazilian presidential candidate has said that he will digitize the governance of the country and focus on blockchain-based applications.

João Amoedo, the candidate of the Novo Party, has said that blockchain technology can become a part of the system that will make public offices more efficient. He also supports mass applications of the Internet of Things initiative.


Petro to be affected by new oil deals: The state cryptocurrency of the Venezuelan government Petro may be hit by new ventures by the government to increase oil production in the country.

While the country itself is still struggling to adopt the new digital currency created by the state, it is still guaranteed by the government to be backed by a barrel of oil each. But once the oil production goes up, theoretically, the price of the Petro will be affected.

The move comes after several loopholes were found in the creation and operation of Petro cryptocurrency in the country. The initial affidavit by the government said that it was linked to oil barrels but investigations showed that lack of investments meant that it wasn’t possible to do so. The 5 billion barrels of oil that were supposedly allocated for Petro itself will take a hit because more oil is being drilled and there is no way to tell where exactly the oil backing Petro is.


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UK Financial Regulator Wants Balanced Crypto Approach

The chief executive of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) addressed the issue of cryptocurrencies at a speech in London on Tuesday, a subject with which he said requires a balanced approach.

Speaking at the 2018 regulator’s Annual Public Meeting, Andrew Bailey initially brought up crypto assets as one of four operational risks significant in the regulators’ current work. While he said that the FCA was ”keen to see the potential of their underlying technology,” he recognized that there are also evident risks, citing a lack of education from consumers who do not understand the price volatility of their investments.

Bailey added that the FCA would not ”rule out roles for cryptoassets themselves”, an approach far from calling for a ban or restriction on trading operations. Combined with his statement that ”the FCA is firmly a supporter of innovation,” UK investors can rest assured that the FCA is not looking to impose any radical changes to the current regulations any time soon.

The section of Bailey’s speech referring to cryptocurrency came to an end with his assurance that the regulatory body was working closely with the Treasury and Bank of England to address any related issues and find ”appropriate responses”, a reference to the Cryptoassets Task Force set up earlier this year in May.

The UK task force held its first meeting on 21 May to discuss the future of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and to establish ways to mitigate any risks that the growing industry might bring.

Alongside the FCO, the task force includes several senior government officials, the Bank of England and HM Treasury, although they have said they welcome the opinions and input of trade bodies, consumer groups, and investors in order to gain a broader perspective.

The UK has already begun establishing itself as a leading country in the blockchain industry; the outcome of these discussions are crucial in deciding whether this can remain the case in the future.


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Crypto Corporates Form Blockchain Lobbying Group in Washington

Blockchain companies in the United States are coming together to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency legitimacy in the form of a new blockchain lobbying group based in Washington DC.

Lobbying the American government

Named “The Blockchain Association”, the group is to represent investors and entrepreneurs in the blockchain/cryptocurrency space who are seeking to operate compliantly with the US political system. Furthermore, the group is setting out address the ongoing and numerous issues relating to the taxation and classification of cryptocurrencies in present US law.

The group will also be with lawmakers to develop clear policies on anti-money laundering (AML) and Know-Your-Customer (KYC). As the new entity grows, it will begin other efforts, although these short-term goals will be the early focus.

As reported by the Washington Post, the founding members of the association have been confirmed as Coinbase, Circle, Polychain Capital, Digital Currency Group and Protocol Labs. The backgrounds of these companies cover certain areas such as technology, cryptocurrency exchanges and investors.

Mike Lempres, Coinbase’s chief legal and risk officer, explained the rationale behind this effort: “The Blockchain Association is an effort to get the preeminent companies in the space together so [policymakers] know they’re hearing from companies that welcome regulation when it’s appropriate. We’re not companies looking to game the system, but trying to develop a legal and regulatory system that’ll stand the test of time.”

The association has begun recruiting already, beginning with former Republican lobbyist and former congressional staff member Kristin Smith on board, as well as Protocol Lab’s General Counsel Marvin Ammori. Founder of public sector technology company Hangar, Josh Mendelsohn is also taking a position.

Jerry Brito, executive director of the non-profit research and advocacy group Coin Center, is reported to have said that the emergence of such associations is a sign of a maturing industry.

Time for change

It appears as though the United States is undergoing radical changes at institutional and governmental levels; in late July, blockchain technology in public sector projects also received a guidebook from a US-based IT industry trade association called CompTIA.

The guide offers insights into how public sector leaders should approach blockchain technologies should they wish to implement and adopt the technology into public sector projects.

In July also, the US Chamber of Digital Commerce published a paper called ‘Understanding Digital Tokens: Market Overviews & Guidelines for Policy Makers and Practitioners’, a document that covers regulations, the need for legal clarifications as well as token classification.

Other entities within the US political system are also making bullish charges for blockchain and cryptocurrency regulation, with the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) believing that the United States is falling behind the rest of the world with regards to blockchain innovation.


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