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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 5th to 11th January 2019

Europe

Europe

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

The European Union

EU Banking Authority Says Cryptocurrencies Require Research before Regulations are Imposed: European Banking Authority (EBA), the EU bank regulation branch, has said that more cryptocurrencies warrant more research before an organization-wide regulation can be introduced. The authority admitted that there is a risk to investors since there is no proper customer protection under the EU law as yet. However, it said that a hurried set of regulations may do more harm than good.

Many EU states already have different rules and stances on cryptocurrencies within their jurisdiction. For an effective EU wide regulation, all countries’ regulations must be studied so that a uniform and smooth system can be created.

Malta

Government Denies Crypto Slowdown Has Caused Government to Slow Down Development in the Sector: The government of Malta has denied claims by the opposition that last year’s crypto market crash has caused the government to fall silent and slow down its activity in the sector. The Parliamentary Secretariat, Maltese body responsible for the crypto industry in the country, hit back strongly, saying that with already a number of cryptocurrency protections in place, it has still not lost steam and more are being planned.

Malta is one of the most crypto friendly countries in Europe and the small island nation has used it to become a center of interest. Malta hopes to become the first country in the world that will have a complete regulation system in place for cryptocurrencies.

France

Graffiti Artist Uses Bitcoin for Latest Work: Graffiti artist, Pascal Boyart, is famous for hiding messages in his artwork. He has, once again, used Bitcoin in his latest work. This time, the French artist has embedded clues to a prize of BTC 0.28492509 in “La liberté guidant le peuple 2019”.

Boyart has made the public key available and says that anyone who can crack the puzzle in his painting will be able to gain access to the private keys, and therefore, get their hands on the Bitcoin stored within it.

The artist loves to incorporate cryptocurrencies in his works. Recently, he organized an exhibition in Paris, where he told artists to hide the Bitcoin symbol in their creations and surprise visitors.

Tobacco Retailers Offering Bitcoin Vouchers: While Boyart plays with Bitcoin in his art, tobacconists in France are now offering the world’s leading cryptocurrency as gift vouchers to customers. The vouchers are being offered by fintech company KeplerK and allow buyers to claim bitcoins. Co-founder Adil Zakhar said that people in France face difficulties in getting their hands on Bitcoin. Using the trust developed between tobacconists and customers, he hopes to help people buy digital currencies.

The firm is facing a backlash from authorities, though. The authorities have warned people not to buy the gift cards since the company does not have regulatory approval from both French and EU authorities.

Italy

Italian Government Forms Crypto Task Force: Italian authorities have announced that the government has brought on 30 experts to form a blockchain task force. The vision of such a board was conceived in September last year in order to “know, deepen, and address the issue of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and blockchain, as well as increase public and private investments in this direction.”

The task force has major blockchain leaders of the country whose task is to examine practical and real-life uses of the technology in both private and public sector.

Ukraine

An Official from Central Bank Says Bitcoin Should be Allowed to Grow: An official from the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has said that authorities should allow breathing room for cryptocurrencies. According to him, the country is trying to over-regulate the industry and that will lead to its growth being stifled.

The official, Mikhail Vidyaking, Head of Strategies and Reforms Department at NBU says that laws need to be sensibly made. Too many regulators, each without a clear guideline, is also harming the industry, he said.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 5th to 11th January 2019

North America

North America

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

Canada

Canada Debating Crypto Campaign Donations with Elections Around the Corner: Fierce political debate has started in Canada among different political parties and advocacy groups regarding crypto donations to political campaigns as the country prepares for general elections later this year.

As of now, none of the parties are accepting crypto donations in the country as there are no rules and regulations regarding the sector.

The United States of America

NASA Develops Blockchain Prototype for Air Traffic Control: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has developed a blockchain prototype for air traffic control which offers superior security and communication capabilities compared to the upcoming Automatic Dependent Surveillance System (ADS-B). According to NASA, the  “framework features certificate authority, smart contract support, and higher-bandwidth communication channels for private information that may be used for secure communication between any specific aircraft and any particular authorized member.”

The prototype is based on Hyperledger’s blockchain ecosystem.

Department of Energy Announces Blockchain Grants: The US Department of Energy has announced it will be offering USD 4.8 million in grants to research and development by universities for different projects in the energy sector, including blockchain.

The grants are coming from its Office of Fossil Energy and are meant to bring advancement to fossil fuel power generation systems to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The department has had experiences with blockchain for electrical bill settlements. This time, the department’s interests are to “secure process signal data and other information flows within distributed sensor networks for fossil-based power generation systems.”

Colorado May Free Cryptocurrencies from Some Securities Laws: The State of Colorado just might free cryptocurrencies in its jurisdiction from some securities laws. The Colorado Digital Token Act, if passed, will allow for “limited exemptions from securities registration and securities broker-dealer and salesperson licensing requirements for persons dealing in digital tokens.”

Last year, the state had hit hard on blockchain platforms that did not comply with current securities laws. It carried out nearly two dozen cease and desist orders. With this bill, nearly all of the previous ones will be exempted now.

Dave Rubin Turning to Bitcoin for Funding: Stand up comedian Dave Rubin, famous for his political comments on The Rubin Report show, has announced that he will be turning towards Bitcoin for his crowdfunding campaign.

According to him, the current platform he uses, Patreon, has censorship policies that are not aligned with his beliefs. Citing that the platform’s policies suppress freedom of speech, he will be deleting his account there and using Bitcoin to fund his show. Gab, a controversial social media platform that allows uncensored speech was the first to respond with a donation of 0.0025 bitcoin.

Tech Center Raided in Michigan by FBI: A technology center in Michigan was raided by a team of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the suspicion that the firm was trading cryptocurrencies illegally.

The firm’s CEO, Chris Boden, said on a YouTube posting that the offices were raided and officials took away computers and other electronic equipment. Although he maintained that his firm was a technology-based non-profit organization, he admitted that the firm did not have the authorizations required for crypto trading. He could face imprisonment and a fine of around USD 100,000.

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 5th to 11th January 2019

Asia

Asia and Australia

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

China

Government to Implement New Blockchain Laws to Monitor Content: The Cyberspace Administration of China has outlined new guidelines for Blockchain content regulation in the country. The new set of regulations called the Blockchain Information Management Regulations will be enforced from 15 February of this year.

The basic idea of the new regulations is to give the Chinese government a driving seat when it comes to regulating blockchain-related content. Non-compliance with the new regulations may result in fines up to USD 4,420.

Japan

Regulator Denies ETF Rumours: Top Japanese Financial Regulator Financial Services Authority (FSA) has denied rumors that it was considering Bitcoin Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The statement contradicts earlier reports by Bloomberg that claimed that the top financial authority was considering accepting Bitcoin ETFs.

While Japan is one of the most progressive countries when it comes to cryptocurrencies and blockchain development, ETFs are currently banned in the country and numerous entities are working to influence the government to allow it.

In other news, the FSA is looking to crack down on unregistered cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. The move will eventually bring everyone under the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.

South Korea

7 Cryptocurrency Exchanges Pass Security Clearance: According to the South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT, only seven cryptocurrency exchanges have passed their detailed security inspection checklist. 

The extensive security survey was undertaken from September to December 2018 and covered key areas including administrative security, operational environment security, network and account security, database & backup security, and wallet security. Out of a total of 21 exchanges up for the security compliance, only seven could clear the test. The seven cleared exchanges include  Upbit, Bithumb, Gopax, Korbit, Coinone, Hanbitco, and Huobi Korea.

It remains to be seen how the uncleared cryptocurrency exchanges will be held accountable for their lack of robust security apparatus.

Pakistan/Malaysia

Pakistan Telecom Company Announces Development of a Blockchain-based Remittance System Between Pakistan and Malaysia: The first blockchain-based remittance system has been introduced by the Telenor group and is set to operate between Malaysia and Pakistan.

The new technology will be supported by AliPay’s blockchain technology and will serve the sizeable number of overseas Pakistani remittances based in Malaysia to send money back to their country.

India

Government May Legalize Cryptocurrencies with Strict Conditions: The Indian government may legalize cryptocurrencies in the country but with strict conditions according to the proceedings of a government committee formed to look into the matter.

The government committee is meeting twice per week to discuss the issue. A comprehensive financial report will be filed with The Ministry of Finance by February 2019. While it is clear that some members of the committee understand the need for allowing cryptocurrencies, yet, no final decision on the matter has been made.

In other news, India is seeking a skilled labor force for speeding up the pace of adoption of emerging technologies including Distributed Ledger and Artificial Intelligence.

New Zealand

Fake News Website Connects ex-PM with Cryptocurrencies: A fake news website was promoting Bitcoin-related investments using the image of ex-Prime Minister of the country.

The website Crypto Vault was already flagged before for its content including ads to promote fake services. The ex-PM in question John Keys has denied these rumors and also claimed that he has no investments in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.

Kiwi scammers seem to have taken a liking to using the image of politicians to promote shady projects. The current prime minister of the country was also on the wrong end of a similar situation in October 2018.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 5th to 11th January 2019

Africa

Africa and the Middle East

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

South Africa

South Africa Deliberating Tax with the Crypto Task Force: The South African government has set the wheels into motion to create a crypto task force and include all the cryptocurrency activities into the tax net.

The group consists of representatives from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, Financial Intelligence Centre, the SA Revenue Service (SARS), Treasury, and the Reserve Bank as they aim to develop a unified intergovernmental regulatory framework while ensuring that losses on cryptocurrencies are only offset against profits from the same system, a phenomenon known as ring-fencing.

Kidnappers Demand Bitcoin Ransom for Missing Nine-Year-Old: As the saga unfolds following the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl known as Linathi Titshala, possible kidnappers have recently sent an anonymous message demanding a ransom of 5 BTC ($19,200) for the girl’s return.

The message was sent to the anti-crime group Western Cape Gangwatch, who said to have tried to trace the email’s source via the Bitcoin address but failed since it was probably created at an internet cafe with an untraceable IP address.

Nigeria

Nigeria’s Electoral Commission to Conduct Pilot Test of Electronic Results Transmission: After the earlier success of electronic results transmission back in 2015 during the off-season elections, Nigeria’s Electoral Commission (INEC) has recently announced a pilot run of the system ahead of 2019 general elections.

Although Nigeria’s current Electoral Act doesn’t allow any provision for its adoption, the officials hope that the success of the test run will compel lawmakers to press for a much-needed change in the legislation.

Kenya

Cryptocurrency Regulation Battle Intense in Africa, Regulators Pin Down Suspicious Cryptocurrency Projects: Capital Markets Authority of Kenya (CMA) has recently warned the users of Kenya’s up-and-coming crypto tokens company KeniCoin about possible fraudulent activities. KeniCoin was launched in July 2018 and promised its users 10% monthly ROI.

CMA published the report in the wake of the ongoing investigations of KeniCoin’s parent company ‘Wiseman Talent Ventures’ and has already highlighted drastic discrepancies in the information on the KeniCoin website and the interviews given to the authorities.

Israel

Gold Reserves to Bitcoin Reserves: Nick Szabo on Crypto in 2019: History of currencies, scope of Bitcoin as a mode of payment, and predictions on the future developments; the first Israel Bitcoin Summit at Tel Aviv University had it all as the early pioneer Nick Szabo, and Bitcoin’s probable founder, Satoshi Nakamoto graced the event with their presence.

Among all the presentations, the highlights included Szabo’s claims that all central banks may soon be inclined to supplement their gold reserves with cryptocurrency. He also remarked that 2019 could see the adoption of the Lightning Network, which would allow two users to make payments to each other almost instantaneously.

Turkey

Interest-free payment platform developed in Turkey: Turkish Blockchain payment platform, MenaPay, has announced that it will launch the first-ever Islamic finance based payment methods to accommodate their large Muslim userbase. This will allow the residents of MENA region to utilize the safety of blockchain technology and leverage MenaPay Platform’s payment transparency while abiding by the religious obligations.

MenaPay has already made headway into the market thanks to its QR code payment system which allows all transactions to be executed within 5 seconds, and this move puts them on the path to becoming the largest cashless service in the MENA region.

UAE

UAE Wants 50% of Government Business on Blockchain by 2021: UAE Government has announced the launch of two new initiatives under the title “the AI and Blockchain Guide initiative.”

The program aims to allow the federal government to develop a standardized system to define and regulate blockchain technology and AI while streamlining the way to implement the technologies across all the smart cities in the seven emirates. The initiative will also focus on training and educating all relevant authorities on these technologies and integrate them in all sectors of the economy.

UAE’s Etisalat Picks Startups for Ai and Blockchain Scale-Up Program: Dubai-based telecommunication giant Etisalat recently announced that it had chosen four startups for the development of AI and blockchain technologies for its “Future Now” scale-up program.

The program offers the participants to access Etisalat’s digital resources, expertise, and office space and develop joint applications for the company’s client base. Among the companies chosen were China’s Yitu Technology, UAE’s Com IoT Technologies, Hong Kong’s 300cubits, and USA’s Tradefin.

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 5th to 11th January 2009

South America

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.

Venezuela

Government protests US Petro sanctions: Venezuela has registered a formal complaint to the World Trade Organization against the US sanctions on its cryptocurrency, Petro. The South American country revealed the development of the new cryptocurrency near the end of 2017 and managed to launch it in 2018. But although it has been in use within several different industries, it has seen a stiff resistance from US lawmakers, and more significantly, by President Donald Trump, who passed an executive order to undermine Petro last March.

Given the perpetually nose-diving bolivar and the consequential spectacular economic inflation, Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro sanctioned the use of cryptocurrency to collect taxes from crypto businesses in the country. But the hurdles set by the US mean that any economic relief is highly unlikely. According to Reuters, the US will now have to respond to the complaint to the WTO within 60 days; otherwise, the organization will have to decide on the complaint’s merits.

Brazil

Brazilian analyst says not possible to compare Bitcoin with tulip bubble: Bitcoin is usually contrasted with the Tulip Mania, which was an economic phenomenon during the Dutch Golden Age where tulip buds reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in 1637. But Samuel Maurer, an analyst at the Bitcoin Banco Group, has dispelled this notion and claims that there is no similarity of the Bitcoin phenomenon with that event.

To justify his claim, the analyst referred to the fact that the cost to price ratio is different from the tulips and this completely differentiates the two phenomena. He also emphasized that cost of Bitcoin production always increases as the value increases, and the market crash in 2018 and the following small recovery in 2019 signifies the health and liquidity of the crypto active market and makes it impossible to be compared with the “tulip fever”.

Brazilian crypto holders seek physical vaults for storing digital assets: As counterintuitive and ironic as it sounds, Brazilian whales and cryptocurrency investors have turned to the good old iron vaults to safeguard their digital cryptocurrency assets. Crypto crimes usually comprise intricate hacking and fancy technologies but recently, there has been a surge in traditional methods of theft like banditry, extortion, and kidnappings.

This means that many Brazilian investors have started to store their wealth in rather elaborate cold storages secured by several armored and reinforced steel doors. The doors can only be accessed using biometrics of authorized persons and palm scanners reading up to 5 million individual points on the hand and the blood pressure through infrared waves.

Chile

Supreme Court validates decision to close crypto exchange’s bank accounts: TheChilean Supreme Court has backed the decision of keeping closed the account of cryptocurrency exchange Orionx with state-owned BancoEstado. The saga began earlier this year, when Chilean banks Itau Corpbanca, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Banco Estado decided to curb the cryptocurrency operations in the country by shutting down accounts of the largest digital assets platforms Crypto MKT, Buda and Orionx. An appeal in the Supreme court was filed by the crypto companies in July, but the latest decision of the apex court supporting the actions of the bank and calling crypto activities “illegal and arbitrary” spells bad news for the future of cryptocurrency in the country.

Argentina

NEM Foundation to develop blockchain-powered copyright system for journalists: NEM Foundation and CISPREN, a local trade union of journalists of the city of Cordoba, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will lead to the establishment of a blockchain-powered solution for copyright protection. The memorandum aims to solve problems associated with protection of intellectual property rights, including content theft, plagiarism, and royalty defaults.

The solution will allow authors to upload their content directly to the blockchain, which will create a timestamp as proof of authenticity and will also attach a unique QR code and a digital signature to each piece to serve as a proof of ownership in case of any fraudulent activities.

 

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 29 December 2018 – 4 January 2019

South America

South America

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

Brazil

Market Experts Declare Bitcoin a big Opportunity Despite Price Tank: Many Brazilian markets have come together and selected cryptocurrencies especially Bitcoin as one of the main trends of 2019 alongside digital banks, payment systems, and data protection. The plus point for the industry is that these other sectors are also using the core blockchain technology in many applications as well.

According to Guilherme Horne, a Ph.D. holder and market expert, the cryptocurrency sector is maturing after ten years of existence and will play a big part in the digital banking industry as well. The government of Sao Paulo referred to the immense economic opportunity being presented by cryptocurrencies as a big lure for investment and innovation in a presser while experts like Ronaldo Lemos cited the development of Artificial Intelligence as the biggest attraction for investors while blockchain and cryptocurrencies will play a major role in the future as well.

Bitmain to Close South American Office in Sao Paulo: Bitmain, the world’s largest mining chip manufacturer has reportedly decided that it will be closing its office in Sao Paulo, Brazil which is responsible for operations across the continent. While Bitmain didn’t confirm this news itself, the move may not bring an end to the mining operations in the continent as the company wants to maintain its presence in one form or another.

The office was only opened in the second half of 2018 and was intended to bring the Chinese chipmaker closer to the mining industry in South America. There is a considerable surplus amount of energy in some parts of the continent and Bitmain believed that it could be used for mining purposes. The latest move isn’t indicative of Bitmain fleeing from the continent but rather restructuring efforts that are necessary for future expansion into the market.

Brazilian Military Experimenting with Blockchain-integrated Wearables: The Brazilian Industrial Development Agency (ABDI) has recently held a competition for wearables focused for military use in the country. IBM participated with a new tool built on the HyperLedger Blockchain system that could be used for Internet of Things (IoT) for the military.

Wearables and military tech are becoming one of the primary users of blockchain technology.

Exchange and Philanthropic  Organization Partnering to Raise Bitcoin for Digital Empowerment: Coinext exchange in association with Recode is throwing a fundraiser for a noble cause which is the digital empowerment of youth in the country. The money will be donated in Bitcoin and Recode will use the money for social insertion of young people in the sector through digital empowerment.

The issue of digital inclusion of the underprivileged youth in the country is extremely important if Brazil wants to progress as a leader in tech.

Venezuela

Petro’s Usefulness Once Again Questioned: Despite repeated government pushes to enable the state cryptocurrency Petro, it is still increasingly becoming clear that the government lacks a clear consensus and strategy on how to take it forward. Right now, Petro is mandated for passport fees by the government while pensions are also being paid in the cryptocurrency.

Overall, when you look closely, Petro is becoming more of a myth rather than a stable monetary tool by the government. It is still non-transferable and the only Petro one can see is a government guarantee that there are certain amounts of Petros there. Venezuela’s botched attempt at creating a national cryptocurrency is becoming a cautionary tale for other countries, prompting Japan to declare the fiat-pegged currencies as not cryptocurrencies at all.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 29 December 2018 – 4 January 2019

North America

North America

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

The United States

Bitcoin Not Affected by US Government Shutdown: Analysis of recent price flow of Bitcoin has revealed that the biggest cryptocurrency is slightly affected by the U.S. government partial shutdown. The row over President Trump’s Mexico wall has affected the U.S. stock market, but Bitcoin during that time has actually risen in value.

Institutional digital asset platform Bakkt has announced it has successfully completed its first seed round funding. The total investment is said to be around USD 182 million by 14 investors. The investment of Bakkt brings a lot of positivity towards cryptocurrencies, with the digital assets class finally gaining the attention of mainstream institutional investors.

New York

State Government Forms Task Force for Cryptocurrencies: The State of New York has announced that it is forming a task force to examine and see what kind of regulations are required for cryptocurrencies. Bank’s committee sect of the New York state legislature has already voted for the task force formation in May last year. The main target is to see how cryptocurrencies are affecting the state’s financial markets and what needs to be done to ensure that cryptocurrencies can co-exist with the current system.

The DarkOverlord, a hacker group that claimed it had accessed financial records of insurance companies involved in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attack in New York, has released the first batch of the records. What impact the financial records of insurance claims and payouts will have is anyone’s guess. The hacker group has demanded Bitcoin in ransom or they will continue to publish information.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Published Piece on Blockchain Technology: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has published an article in which it claims that decentralized technology like blockchain will “start to become mundane” in 2019, but also “more useful.” The report cites a number of indicators, such as Wall Street holding its first blockchain summit, the rise of a central bank backed national cryptocurrencies and the performance of the market. The report says that the hype is fading, leaving only the serious actors in the arena.

Ohio

Overstock Wants to Pay Tax in Bitcoin: The online U.S. retailer Overstock has become the first local retailer to be paying a part of its Commercial Activities Tax to the State of Ohio in Bitcoin. The government of Ohio had initially approved the option of firms and organizations to pay their taxes in cryptocurrencies. The state has even set up a dedicated portal OhioCrypto.com for the purpose.

Georgia

State Senator Sent to Jail for Falsifying Mining Equipment Fraud: Michail Williams, the State Senator from Georgia has been jailed for falsifying a crypto mining equipment theft. The Senator has reported the theft of the mining equipment from his office, claiming that the hardware was worth around USD 300,000. Investigators, however, failed to find any evidence of the machinery and he was indicted over the false report filing. Williams is a relatively little known in the Senate, although he had backed crypto related bills in the past. He is the first serving Senator to be sent to jail over cryptocurrency related matter.

Texas

Department of Banking Looking to Declare Stablecoins as Proper Currency: Texas Department of Banking is considering declaring stable coins as proper money. According to the state legislature, the Money Services Act, the state of Texas does not accept cryptocurrencies as any legal form of money. The Supervisory Memorandum 1037 says, “A licensing analysis will turn on whether the stablecoin provides the holder with a redemption right for sovereign currency thus creating a claim that can be converted into money or monetary value. This is true regardless whether the redemption right is expressly granted or implied by the issuer.

Mexico

UNICEF Holds Events for Promoting Blockchain Technology: UNICEF announced that it has held events in Mexico and Kazakhstan to encourage children and teenagers to go into the new sector. 

In Mexico, the focus of the event was on identity and payments part of the crypto world. There’s high optimism that these efforts will attract more people into the sector.

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 29 December 2018 – 4 January 2019

Asia

Asia and Australia

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

India

India Drops Plans for National Cryptocurrency: A report from the Hindu BusinessLine, an Indian financial news portal has said that the Reserve Bank of India has dropped its plan for issuing its own cryptocurrency. The rising cost of printing paper based money and the ever increasing trend of mobile-based micropayment services is what had pushed the central bank to eye cryptocurrency. The research by the institution held results that were not favorable, hence the plan being shelved.

The country’s regulators have declared cryptocurrencies illegal, with the local blockchain association running a legal battle in the courts. The blockchain industry in the country has a significant volume, therefore, a positive result on the legal status of cryptocurrencies can help promote the industry to make India a major player in the industry.

Thailand

Government Trialing Blockchain Voting System: The Bangkok Post, a Thai news outlet reported that the country’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) has completed the development of a blockchain based voting system. The NECTEC is currently looking for smaller partners such as Universities and Provincial governments to test the system before deploying at a national level. The system’s developer is very confident that its voting system is strong. Yet, the country still requires a significant penetration of mobile and internet use for the system to be effective at a national level.

Adoption of blockchain-based voting systems is developing a trend in the country. Recently, Democrat Party, the main Thai opposition held its primary party elections using the decentralized technology.

Philippines

The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission Fails to Issue Regulations on ICOs by the Year’s End: The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (PSEC) has made another delay in issuing regulations over Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The PSEC has hinted at declaring ICOs as securities and the local crypto community is eagerly waiting for an announcement from the regulator so that they can be in compliance. The regulator, though, allows unregulated sales of tokens to less than 20 individuals, organizations and other entities in a year.

The regulator has, so far, kept a positive attitude towards decentralized technology, with nearly a dozen blockchain companies in the country’s special economic zone of Cagayan. The Asian state has also granted licenses to 3 crypto exchanges.

China

Central Bank Concerned Over Rising Irrelevance of Cash: With cashless micropayment services like WeChat and AliPay on the rise, the People’s Bank of China is starting to show concerns towards cryptocurrencies. Perhaps one of the largest anti-crypto regulator in the world, the Chinese state bank has repeatedly stressed the illegal status of blockchain-based payment systems.

Online micropayments are common in Chinese society such that many vendors, hotels and merchants refuse to accept Yuan in the form of cash. The popularity of cashless transactions in the country is seen as only a stepping stone that will ultimately lead to decentralized payment systems.

Iran

Government Against Telegram’s Cryptocurrency: The Persian country’s authorities have once again stressed against the use of Telegram’s cryptocurrency, the Gram. The government has been in a strained relationship with the messaging app since the political upheaval of 2017. “One of the most important factors in banning Telegram was a sense of serious economic threat from its activities,” was explained as the reason by Javad Javidnia, the Secretary of Criminal Content Definition Task Force.

In the meantime, the Islamic Republic has announced plans for developing its own central bank backed cryptocurrency to circumvent the economic restrictions posed by the US. The Iranian banking system is completely isolated since the international money transfer service for banks, SWIFT.

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 29 December 2018 – 4 January 19

Africa

Africa and the Middle East

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

South Africa

Cryptocurrency Regulatory Working Group Formed by the Government: In an effort to be more decisive and inclusive in cryptocurrency regulation, the South African government has announced the formation of a local working group task with the responsibility of formulating regulations and getting input from the industry.

According to a letter by Tito Mboweni, the Finance Minister of the country, the Cryptocurrency Asset Working Group will not just focus on cryptocurrencies but all other facets of the industry including blockchain technology and its wide range of applications.

According to the Minister:

“It is anticipated that, following broad industry comment and participation, the crypto assets regulatory working group will be ready to release a final research paper on the subject during the course of 2019.”

It remains to be seen what will be the constitution of this latest working group.

Nigeria

Investors Training Nigerians on Cryptocurrency Trading Profitability: To encourage more investment and trading in the sector, cryptocurrency trading experts are tutoring an emerging generation of traders in the country to become more profitable in trading cryptocurrencies.

Ian Balina, an acclaimed bitcoin trader and investor said that trading can be a profitable investment for youngsters if they can understand more about its working. Faith Titus, the co-founder of Blockchain Nigeria User Group believes that it is necessary for one to be educated in order to succeed in the sector. Toyosi Abolarin, the Lead Project Manager at Venture Garden Group endorsed the government’s efforts to regulate the industry fairly and believed it will boost trading.

Zimbabwe

Reserve Bank Declares Cryptocurrencies a Threat to the Nation: The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is continuing its anti-cryptocurrency stance by declaring cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin a threat to the nation.

Governor  Dr. John Mangudya made these comments in an official statement, saying that all cryptocurrency investments have no legal protection and they are prone to embezzlement as well as being used in Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism.

While the government has taken a hardline stance in the country, many Zimbabweans are turning to cryptocurrencies to avoid the crippling hyperinflation prevalent in the country. This is also the reason why cryptocurrencies are being traded at a heavy premium in the country.

Israel

Israel Blockchain Industry Survives Despite Tough Year: The Israeli Blockchain industry has had a tough year as dozens of new projects were scrapped because of lack of regulatory approval and fears of government crackdown which hasn’t materialized yet. Despite the tough year, many blockchain projects have survived and are looking to build on their survival with a little help from the government if needed.

Sirin Labs rolled out the first blockchain smartphone in the country and may look to build on its initial success despite the high price tag of the phone. There are other exchanges and new startups that made money in the course of 2018, but in the end, due to the price tank of Bitcoin and regulatory challenges, the kind of growth expected in the industry didn’t happen. Still, innovators are looking at 2019 with hope.

Turkey

Countries Looking to Abandon US Dollar May See Cryptocurrencies as an Alternative: Several notable economies in the world including Turkey, Russia, China, etc are looking to undercut the dominance of the US Dollar in the market by adopting alternative ways of payments, with cryptocurrencies being eyed as a possible alternative.

While China is beefing up gold reserves for this purpose, Turkey has had a bad experience because of its dependence on the greenback with the local currency Lira losing as much as 25% at one time because of an ongoing diplomatic tussle with the US. P2P cryptocurrency trading platform LocalBitcoins.com noticed a considerable spike in trading volumes during the tense period. With cryptocurrencies gaining popularity in the country, the government may also look to adopt them from a strategic point of view.

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The post Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 29 December 2018 – 4 January 19 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 22-28 December 2018

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

USA

Lawmakers Looking to Revisit Definition of Cryptocurrencies to Favour Cryptocurrencies: Two Congressmen in bipartisan legislation are aiming to ease restrictions of cryptocurrencies in the country by aiming to revisit one of the oldest securities definition in the country.

A new bill presented in the House of Representatives introduced what is called the Token Taxonomy Act that reiterates support for cryptocurrencies by declaring that they do not fall under the securities law. The bill was co-sponsored by Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Darren Soto (D-Florida).

According to Congressman Davidson:

“In the early days of the internet, Congress passed legislation that provided certainty and resisted the temptation to over-regulate the market. Our intent is to achieve a similar win for America’s economy and for American leadership in this innovative space,”

It is yet to be seen how the bill will fare in the House as support is polarized for cryptocurrencies right now due to lack of knowledge and consensus among lawmakers.

Government Believes Drug Money Moving Via Crypto: The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has recently stated that Mexican cartels are using cryptocurrencies and Asian banking channels to shift funds across the country. The DEA announced these latest developments in a recent hearing in the US Capitol on Drug money and Mexican drug cartels.

Despite the extraordinary claim by the DEA, it is believed that cryptocurrencies still facilitate a tiny portion of the $2 trillion worldwide illegal drug business and its associated money laundering activities. The total cryptocurrency market cap is less than $150 billion and that shows that fiat channels are still working overtime to serve this illicit trade.

Government Working to Undercut Iranian Cryptocurrency Usage: After banning several bitcoin addresses allegedly connected to Iranian authorities, the American government is now looking to introduce new regulations to stop any Iranian plans for launching its own borderless cryptocurrency. 

A new bill called Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act has been tabled in the House and aims to block any foreign nationals involved in the support and development of the alleged Iranian cryptocurrency project. The move comes after Iran announced earlier that its sanctions-defying cryptocurrency project was ready to be deployed.

Mexico

Ripple Looking to Gain Foothold in Mexico: Ripple is working to increase the outreach of its cryptocurrency and have the Mexican market well within its sights. According to Ashish Birla, a senior executive at Ripple’s Product Development Team, the foray into the Mexican market will result in on-demand liquidity on an instant basis in the country. Birla is currently working on xRapid platform developed by Ripple for this purpose.

According to Birla:

“That’s such a big deal is because you don’t need to have the expensive capital tied up in Mexico. You can use xRapid for on-demand liquidity, instantly sourcing liquidity and delivering your payment into Mexico. One of the really exciting things about xRapid is that not only did we get the product launched not technically but we got it live in Mexico. We gotta live in the Philippines as well.”

Birla believes that increased regulatory clarity and its launch into more specific corridors will help customers in adoption and benefit the overall Ripple network in its quest for developing a blockchain ecosystem across the world.

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