Category Archives: Spain

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Valencia Port Joins Maersk in IBM Blockchain Shipping Project

The Port Authority of Valencia, Spain (POV) has announced that it has joined the TradeLens blockchain shipping platform co-developed by tech giant IBM and shipping magnate Maersk.

The platform itself was launched back in August this year and it uses DLT for global supply chains. Ports and shipping are a primary part of the supply chain process. Recently, the Port Authority of Rotterdam had also joined the platform to become a part of the new decentralized shipping revolution. UK’s top port operator signed an agreement with Marine Transport International to develop blockchain-based logistics system for its port operations.

The TradeLens system is seeking to improve efficiency and security of supply chains. They can include shipping lanes, port and terminal operators, taxation and duties watchdogs and other concerned parties. The platform can be used to access the data and the documents involved, thus making it simpler and much more effective.

The Port Authority of Valencia has now integrated the platform and has become an “early adapter” of TradeLens. It means that the port will now take part in the early development of the system. There are 20 participants in the early adaptation platform.

TradeLens is gaining traction for supply chain systems as it has already processed more than 154 million shipping-related data transactions including information on container shipping, warehouse timing and customs documentation. According to early estimates, the blockchain-based system can be used to cut shipping times by almost 40%.

The POV has unveiled plans to develop a smart port which is based on blockchain and big data technologies since the start of October this year. According to the person-in-charge of implementing new technologies, Jose Garcia De La Guia, DLT-based systems can improve supply chain logistics on a global scale and thus help create fully electronic ports with no paperwork which can help reduce the maintenance times and increase efficiency.

 

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Spain Bank BBVA Announces $150 Million Syndicated Loan on Blockchain

Spanish banking behemoth BBVA has announced it has completed a pilot test of a syndicated loan through a DLT system, according to a report from Financial Times.

The report states that the Spanish bank organized the loan for Red Electrica, the national grid operator and the biggest electricity distribution company in the country.

BBVA organized the syndicated loan through two other banks namely Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Paribas from France. The loan was agreed by these three banks and then recorded on the Ethereum blockchain to make the transaction immutable.

A syndicated loan is when a number of banks team up to lend money to one borrower, usually a big company itself. Since syndicated loans normally involve significant funds, the data for the loan was time-stamped at each step of the process.

Traditionally, banks rely on centralized records for complex information like a syndicated loan. They normally involve fax papers which is not only slow but also expensive and inefficient. Blockchain has been touted as a major disruption technology for banking circles which are most affected by these outdated technologies. It can also lower the transaction times from two weeks to one or two days while reducing operational costs.

BBVA, buoyed by the recent success of a blockchain-based syndicated loan process, is now investing more into DLT and will look to process more loans like that in the future. This is not the first time the bank has issued a blockchain-recorded loan. In April, a USD 91 million sum was approved for corporate clients and recorded on the Ethereum blockchain for safe-keeping.

 

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Spain Wants Crypto Holders to Declare Assets Under New Law

The new administration in Spain under Pedro Sánchez is beginning to show its stance on cryptocurrency as new measures are introduced to cut down on tax evasion in the country.

The new law will require holders of cryptocurrency to declare their all their holdings. Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero has stated that the new legislation will require “the identification of the holders and the balances contributed by these virtual currencies”.

This makes a notable shift in direction since the ousting of former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who was on the point of pushing forward legislation for possible tax breaks in order to create a more favorable environment for potential blockchain investment. Under Rajoy, cryptocurrencies were still being considered for legislation, with some of the digital currencies viewed as being “located in a grey area of regulation”, by the political party Podemos.

Alberto Montero, the deputy of the political alliance under Rajoy, presented favorable legislation to Spain’s lower house with a view that blockchain could significantly boost security levels for social and economic transactions, suggesting that blockchain had “enormous potential”.

Under the new tax laws, Spain clearly sees cryptocurrency as a potential source of revenue and is even proposing measures to track down crypto assets held offshore by Spanish nationals. To this end, the government has further plans to extend the range of its tax havens so that holdings, when tracked, can be taxed in the same way as fiat.

The government has indicated that a potential EUR 850 million in tax receipts could be the outcome of the proposed changes to its tax legislation.

The previous position was that Spanish Congress supported a draft regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in theory. The Partido Popular’s original suggestion was that the state cooperated with the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the Bank of Spain to coordinate its position on cryptocurrency in line with EU guidelines.

It now remains to be seen exactly which direction the Sanchez government takes regarding cryptocurrency legislation. The tax law regarding crypto is the first legislation to date to be made by the new administration. It is as yet unclear if the Unidos Podemos proposal for a body to oversee the implementation of blockchain technology and crypto regulation in the country is to go ahead.

The coalition formed from left-wing parties Podemos, United Left, Equo and smaller parties suggested the move in order to study the benefits of blockchain and implement its use in public administration in the country as well as to explore its industrial potential.

 

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Catalonia Independence-Fund Donations Now Exceed 80,000 Bitcoin

The support fund started after exiled Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemnot’s plea for financial support this year is reportedly gaining some ground.

According to Spanish news outlet El Confidencial, officials have now reportedly collected 80,000 BTC in support of exiled politicians. Current claims suggest donations of 81,000 BTC, although the exact number is difficult to confirm.

Catalan politicians who incited a break away from Spain last year and used public funds to organize an independence referendum which the Spanish courts had declared unconstitutional are either now in exile or in prison. The fund was organized by Carles Puigdemont who is currently living in exile in Belgium. Once the former Mayor of Girona, Puigdemont served as the President of the Government of Catalonia from January 2016 to October 2017.

The donated funds are to go towards legal support for those politicians who fled after the Spanish government decided to act against the renegade Catalonians last October.  Funds will also be used towards the security of some of the exiled politicians and activists involved in last year’s push for Catalonian independence.

The fundraising website was registered in the Caribbean state of Saint Kitts and Nevis by the co-founder of torrent tracker Piratebay, Peter Sunde. The Bitcoin wallet address for fund donations, posted on Reddit, shows transfers of more than 81,300 BTC, but as of October 19, the balance was 51.176 BTC. However, El Confidencial noted how “no report on the management of the funds has been presented” in over six months. It also said there has been no word about who is on the independent council.

Meanwhile, Spain has hit a wall in terms of its own crypto/blockchain aspirations following the ousting of Prime Minister Rajoy back in June and replacement by Socialist chief Pedro Sanchez as a result of a no-confidence vote following corruption charges aimed at the ex PM’s center-right People’s Party.

The Sanchez-led no-confidence vote may delay the current pro-crypto legislation, which had been scheduled to go to a vote by 7 July after public consultation on 7 June. New elections could delay legislation for more than six months.

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Spanish Political Coalition Calls for Regulatory Body to Explore Crypto

Spanish coalition party Unidos Podemos is proposing a body to oversee the implementation of blockchain technology and crypto regulation in the country.

The coalition formed from left-wing parties Podemos, United Left, Equo and smaller parties has suggested the move in order to study the benefits of blockchain and implement its use in public administration in the country as well as explore its industrial potential.

Under the last administration, then Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was suggesting possible tax breaks in order to create a more favorable environment for potential blockchain investment. Although Spain’s new prime minister Pedro Sánchez has promised to raise taxation on companies and increase public spending, so far, his views on new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency still remain unclear.

Alberto Montero, the deputy of the political alliance, has presented the plan to Spain’s lower house as he sees blockchain significantly boosting security levels for social and economic transactions, suggesting that blockchain has “enormous potential”.

Regarding cryptocurrencies, the alliance is looking at examining current regulation for the use of digital currencies in Spain. Many of the major currencies are described by Podemos as being “located in a grey area of regulation”.

Podemos is not the only party looking at the adoption blockchain in government, as members of the current ruling party Partido Popular (People’s Party) had proposed a similar bill, although it now remains to be seen if this position is taken up by prime minister Sánchez as that proposal was made with Rajoy at the political helm before his departure in June of this year.

The current position is that Spanish Congress supports a draft regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in theory. The Partido Popular’s original suggestion is that the state cooperates with the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the Bank of Spain to coordinate its position on cryptocurrency in line with EU guidelines.

 

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Five Spanish Speaking Universities Offering Crypto-Courses Join Education Surge

Five universities across three Spanish-speaking countries, Spain, Argentina and Venezuela, are now offering crypto courses, reports one of the crypto-news outlets.

Asia is normally regarded as the world’s cryptocurrency hub with centers, courses, and crypto educational establishments on the rise, where Japan, Thailand and South Korea are leading the way.

However, Asia isn’t the only continent taking steps to educate its crypto communities. There are numerous courses now being run by private schools, companies, and universities across the globe. The new courses for Spanish speakers offer studies in Bitcoin, Ethereum, cryptocurrencies, blockchains, initial coin offerings (ICOs), smart contracts, DAOs, and crypto-economics.

In Europe, Spain’s capital Madrid offers a new venue for crypto studies. The Universidad de Alcalá is not only a world heritage site it is also one of Europe’s oldest universities dating back to 1293. The University of Alcalá is especially renowned in the Spanish-speaking world for its annual presentation of the highly prestigious Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious and remunerative award given for Spanish-language literature.

The university now offers a course entitled “Master in Ethereum, Blockchain Technology and Crypto-Economics,” and promotes the study as being for “professionals, students or those interested in learning about blockchain-based technologies from an integrative perspective of technical, economic, social and legal aspects.”

Not to be outdone, another Madrid university has opened its doors to cryptocurrency enthusiasts and professionals. Universidad Europea Madrid, the European University of Madrid, is a private university with more than 16,000 students. The school offers a 6-month postgraduate diploma in Bitcoin and blockchain which starts in October.

Across the world in South America, struggling Venezuela, along with Argentina have both recently started offering courses. In hyperinflation struck Venezuela, Bitcoin for some is the only way of putting food on the table due to the state of the country’s national currency — bolivar, which is now worth practically nothing.

The Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) a private non-profit business school with 3 campuses, which offers a 60hr summer course called “Cryptocurrency, blockchain and business in the new economy, opportunities and challenges for management and business.”

In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology, is a private university focusing on information technology, business and engineering studies offering a course of 3 months for newcomers to cryptocurrencies:

“It is designed especially for people who start from scratch or with very basic knowledge and who want to learn the reasons, mechanics and disruptive opportunities at a monetary, technological level and as a form of investment that is in the present and future in the world of crypto-economies.”

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Spain Vows to Tackle Corruption and Fraud with Blockchain and AI

Spain is amending its anti-corruption laws and updating its existing Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) measures by developing blockchain and AI solutions, writes Cointelegraph.

Since the OECD measures came into force in 2015, Spain has continued to struggle with high-profile corruption scandals, marking a period of 18 months in 2016/2018 with 1,379 officials prosecuted for corruption.

Again this year, the Gurtel scandal in May saw another 29 officials convicted, finally resulting in the ousting of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. The High Court stated that Spain’s Popular Party (PP) participated in “…an authentic and efficient system of institutional corruption via mechanisms to manipulate public tenders at the national, regional and local level.”

In order to combat the recent surge of corruption, Angel Gurría, OECD secretary-general, has suggested that “integrity, transparency and the fight against corruption have to be part of the culture. They have to be taught as fundamental values”.

In February, the EU invested more than EUR 80 million into projects. As a member of the European Blockchain Partnership with other members, Spain is developing blockchain and AI applications to fight digital crime and cooperate on developing blockchain projects. Along with Spain, 21 European countries signed the declaration earlier this year to establish the partnership, including other EU nations Germany, France, and the UK.

Spain is further stepping up its fight against corruption in the cryptocurrency space with another project supported by the European Regional Development Fund. In order to add more clarity to tracking crypto transactions and clamp down on fraud, a Spanish blockchain company is working on an Ethereum-based programme which eliminates the need for intermediaries, as it transfers verified tracked funds using electronic time stamps and certified electronic delivery services.

Researchers from the University of Valladolid have developed an AI application which is an ingenious early warning system which calculates the probability of corruption in Spanish provinces. The system calculates data from various sources as to where corruption has taken place historically over a period of 12 years, between 2000 and 2012. It then predicts public corruption based on economic and political factors.

In a positive development for the country, Spain’s Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV) or National Securities Market Commission, recently stated that investment funds could interact with Bitcoin, which has given a significant boost to the Spanish market in terms of giving more credibility to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The EU promised that another EUR 300 million more is to be allocated to blockchain support by 2020.

 

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Spain Wants Blockchain Regulation but Political Unrest Could Turn Back Clock

The Spanish government’s 30 May draft legislation to implement blockchain within its borders may now have to allow for political change after PM Mariano Rajoy’s departure, writes Cointelegraph.

Before the ousting of Rajoy on 1 June, Spanish Congress rolled out its draft legislation for the regulation of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the country, with a move directed at encouraging fintech start-ups in the country.

Rodrigo Garcia de la Cruz, president of the Spanish Fintech and Insurtech Association, credited the UK for the inspiration for the legislation after the successful launch of the fellow EU member’s own regulatory framework, writes the Econotimes. Garcia commented:

“It is an experience that is giving very positive results and that has led many countries to study its implementation. If we hurry up here in Spain, we could become a pole of attraction for financial innovation.”

Congress also see blockchain implementation creating a cost-efficient and decentralized means of payment and transaction, such as Barcelona’s planned specialized blockchain sector for that city.

Such progressive moves targeting the crypto space have now been overshadowed by the current political crisis in the country, after Rajoy’s replacement by Socialist chief Pedro Sanchez as a result of a no-confidence vote following corruption charges aimed at the ex PM’s center-right People’s Party.

Spanish news source La Vanguardia points out that the Sanchez-led no-confidence vote may delay the current pro-crypto legislation, which had been scheduled to go to a vote by 7 July after public consultation on 7 June. New elections could delay the project for more than six months, Vangardia suggests.

As CNBC notes, Rajoy’s departure and related events in Spain could extend beyond its borders and spark a political crisis in southern Europe, “further unnerving financial markets already wrongfooted by failed attempts to form a government in Italy three months after a national election”.

However, while collectively positive towards such blockchain legislation, the EU continues to be more guarded view towards cryptocurrencies. In May, it approved new anti-money laundering (AML) legislation, in part targeting anonymity in cryptocurrency market.

 

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Bank of Spain’s Governor Calls Crypto “Spurious Novelties” but Govt Sees Potential

Luis Maria Linde, Banco de Espana governor, said in a recent speech that cryptocurrencies presented more risk than they did benefits, although blockchain technology could improve efficiency and costs, according to Coindesk.

The comments made during a recent speech organized by multinational professional services firm Deloitte referred to cryptocurrency tokens as “those spurious novelties that do not provide significant improvements and that should be tackled as soon as possible”.

Spain’s stance on cryptocurrency is heavily nuanced towards regulation. A recent investigation implemented by the National Office of Fraud Investigation (ONIF) has passed data on the Spanish Treasury which will attempt to enforce new requirements regarding cryptocurrency payments, writes the Daily Express.

Under the plan, 16 financial institutions based in Spain will be required to pass on their information to the ONIF in relation to overseas accounts.

In his speech, Linde did concede that digitalization could offer interesting possibilities as could blockchain technology, providing that underlying technology is “well used and managed”. However, he signaled that:

“….the move to a more digital economy is accompanied by greater cyber threats and it is necessary to develop new measures to protect processes, assets and customer data.”

Like countless other countries at present, the Spanish government is continually referring back to the misuse of cryptocurrency such as organized crime and fraud and regulating in order to address the issues, often ignoring the underlying advantages. In Spain, this is very much the case and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are not recognized as legal tender.

However, of late, despite the comments of Governor Linde regarding cryptocurrency, there have been attempts to create more flexibility in the space, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s consideration of possible tax breaks to attract blockchain investments. Registered funds can now theoretically invest in cryptocurrency under law 22/2014 passed by Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV – Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores).

According to lawmaker Teodoro Garcia Egea, it is in Spain’s national interest to attract blockchain companies to the country, as they can inject new life into areas such as health, finance, and education, writes UTB.

Rajoy’s Peoples Party is now considering government regulations which will enable businesses to use blockchain technology and carry out coin offerings in the light of its benefits to these areas.

 

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Spain Opens Legal Doors for Funds Investing in Crypto

Spain’s Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV) or National Securities Market Commission, recently stated that investment funds could interact with Bitcoin.

The statement was within a Q&A document for fintech companies, with one of the questions asking if a fund registered by CNMV could directly invest in cryptocurrencies. The answer by the CNMV was:

“This type of funds would have a legal place in Law 22/2014, which regulates, in addition to venture capital entities, other collective investment entities of closed type and their management entities.”

Law 22/2014 funds for Spain fall into three categories: closed-end collective investment entities (EICC), closed-end investment funds (FICC), and closed-end investment companies (SICC).

All three funds must have their own conditions and requirements in order for a fund to be classified as such and, therefore, to be able to invest in cryptocurrency. And while the CMNV has made it legally possible for funds to delve into digital currencies, the possibility is only on paper. Separate issues regarding regulations and valuation of volatile assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum still exist. CMNV later states:

“The investment of FICC and SICC in cryptocurrencies raises a series of practical problems on how to comply with the regulations regarding the valuation of assets, the management of liquidity and the custody guarantee.”

The last condition eager funds should know is that this possibility may not be permanent. CMNV is only issuing this ruling until there is a European or international standard. So even if a fund satisfies all the right conditions, all of its hard work may be for naught at a moment’s notice.

Regardless, this is a massive step forward for cryptocurrencies being seen as legitimate assets in institutional trading.

Most regulated funds handling cryptocurrency do it indirectly, either through a price index, derivatives, or other market products. Few hold actual Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other digital currency.

And while having regulated funds hold something reminiscent of a cryptocurrency, the positive implications for cryptocurrencies market and brand image are more pronounced when they’re holding the real thing.

 

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