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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Poll Reveals Millennial’s Rush to Crypto Still Male Dominated

The latest cryptocurrency poll has indicated that millennial women are still lagging behind in adoption of cryptocurrency.

A new survey conducted in the US with 3000 millennials, was published on September 12, 2018, by crypto finance company Circle. It revealed that currently, men invest in cryptocurrency at twice the rate of women within the millennial age bracket.

In terms of investment, 71 percent of millennials say that they have kept their investment in crypto below $1000, of which 42 percent invested under $500 and 29 percent invested between $500–$1,000. The bigger spenders or at least those investing more than $1000 represented 29 percent of the poll. 17 percent of men are planning to purchase crypto against 8 percent of women.

The gender gap which has always existed in terms of crypto investments appears not to have narrowed greatly in the US if the results of this survey give a fair indication of who’s investing between the sexes. In the UK, which has become a major crypto hub, particularly for millennials, things have improved significantly over the past year according to a recent London Blockchange poll.

Their poll conducted earlier this year showed that the number of women showing interest in investing in cryptocurrencies has gone from 6 percent to 13 percent over the last six months; almost twice the amount revealed in the US poll. A significant result of that survey revealed that women were far less likely to stress over cryptocurrency, keeping a cool head when making their crypto investments. This inference was drawn from the new Circle poll which suggested that 42 percent of millennial men were “aggressive investors” as opposed to 27 percent of women.

The figures from the Blockchange poll suggested that women in the millennials group are responsible for the increased percentage of women participants in the space, as millennials remain the dominant group worldwide in cryptocurrency investment. Another survey revealed that this group viewed Bitcoin as more trustworthy than big banks.

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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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Coinbase CEO: Crypto-Space Population Will Grow to 1 Billion in Next 5 Years

Brian Armstrong, crypto exchange giant Coinbase’s CEO, has suggested that the number of people in the cryptocurrency ecosystem will swell to 1 billion over the next five years.

In a recent interview, Armstrong sees the current number of 40 million making such a substantial growth due to the continued development of tokens by commercial enterprises and even charities. He suggested:

“It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table should have their own token. Every open source project, every charity, potentially every fund or these new types of decentralized organizations [and] apps, they’re all going to have their own tokens.”

He added that his own company is likely to host hundreds of tokens within a period of years, and these could possibly swell into millions over time. He maintains that regulation remains key to such a groundswell of token adoption though, suggesting it is more likely that the majority of these tokens will more than luckily be classified as securities.

The exchange has made some major changes over past weeks. They introduced crypto trading pairs for the users in the United Kingdom through the Great Britain Pound (GBP) with a goal to be the trading platform of choice for UK crypto traders, one of the cryptocurrency’s largest world markets. Last month, the San Francisco Exchange introduced a digital gift card program aimed at revamping old business models, offering European clients other ways of accessing cash for crypto.

It’s also been rumored that Coinbase may apply for a Bitcoin ETF from the SEC, joining an already expanding waiting list, though, this hasn’t been confirmed yet by the exchange.

Last week Coinbase also revealed that it is considering the Irish Republic as its next push to expand local markets around the globe. Dublin has been cited as the exchange’s next target and to that end, they have begun an employment drive in the city taking on customer support, analysts, a compliance officer, and an office manager.

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15.8 Million UK Residents Own or Are Considering Bitcoin

A recent survey by Bitcoin wallet Luno has shown the desire by UK residents for the launching of a “Bitcoin Barometer” which monitors the numbers of those currently involved in crypto.

The barometer, which was launched today, shows that an estimated 15.8 million UK residents either currently own or would consider owning cryptocurrencies in the future.

The recent survey of 2,000 UK residents by Luno indicates that over a quarter could see Bitcoin as becoming a valid currency in the future, used in the same way as traditional mainstream currencies in circulation. Some 23% wanted more information, a figure born out by previous surveys elsewhere, and a fifth of respondent said that they would like to see Bitcoin used online and in-store in retail.

Again, as other surveys have indicated, trust and understanding remain a key issue as a barrier to wider adoption in the community. Luno’s own figures reflected this with 43% of respondents admitting that they hadn’t purchased cryptocurrencies for this reason and over half called for further regulation.

Maya Kumar, company spokesman and head in the UK and Ireland, commented:

“Our survey showed that just under 2 in 5 (36%) had not purchased cryptocurrencies because they didn’t understand the concept. There are public misunderstandings around cryptocurrencies that lead to this lack of trust. We believe by making cryptocurrencies easier to understand through education and offering a user-friendly, safe platform, more people across the globe can trust, benefit from an upgrade to a better financial system.”

What came through clearly, based on the numbers, is that cryptocurrency is well established in the UK, far more so that many other nations in Europe, such as France where crypto uptake is particularly low. South Korea, Japan, and the UK currently lead the way in general cryptocurrency awareness.

Earlier this year, UK city minister John Glen suggested that regulation could be a “significant boost”  to the local cryptocurrency industry should the government be able to find an appropriate level of regulation.

 

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New EU ICO Rules May Fall Under Crowdfunding Umbrella

The European Parliament in Brussels has taken a further step towards clarifying rules for ICOs within the nations of the European Community.

The all-party group met yesterday to examine proposals for the launching of ICOs although as yet no formal statements of intent have been made regarding the outcome of the meeting. Nicolas Brien of France Digitale did urge for haste, however, arguing that “the market wants legitimization… from every jurisdiction. In the UK it’s particularly bad, none of the banks will bank you if you have crypto”.

Two weeks ago, the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) published a draft report that offers insights into new regulatory frameworks for crowdfunding. ICOs received a notable mention in the report stating, “It takes a much-needed step towards imposing standards and protections in place for what is an excellent funding stream for tech start.”

Brien went on to explain:

“Having the certainty, but also having that legitimization, I actually welcome having a European-wide proposal because it gives people the certainty to know. I think we need to be clear whether this is a utility token or a transferable security, or how the regulator regime looks at that, but I think this can be done because an ICO is another form of crowdfunding. It’s different, but it is a form of crowdfunding.”

As is so often the case at such meeting many regulators got on to discussing the need to prevent potential fraud and scams requiring a higher level of scrutiny than is currently the case. Laura Royle of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) echoed those thoughts at the meeting commenting:

“…we certainly do see a huge potential benefit in this space for firms to raise capital from a broad array of investors and without the cost of an intermediary, but there are risks associated [such as] the potential for fraud, with a lack of transparency and the volatility.”

There are current EU estimates that as many as 81% of ICOs could result in fraud. However, if new regulations result in a higher standard than is currently evident, then this may set the example for productive projects in the future within the EU. How this will apply to ICOs within the UK is still uncertain, given the country’s departure from the EU in March of 2019.

 

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Russian Police Swoop on 22 Crypto ATM’s Across the Country

The Russian Police have seized 22 Bitcoin ATMs in 9 different cities across the country by orders from the country’s Central Bank.

The machines located mostly in shopping malls, stores and restaurants across the country are operated by Bbfpro. The company’s manager said there were no warnings from the police prior to the seizures, but that the authorities said that the machines will form part of an ongoing police investigation set to last for at least six months.

Cryptocurrencies are still not legally accepted in the vast country, although President Putin has flirted with the idea in the past of looking into the possibility of a state-owned crypto, principally to avoid trading sanctions. A statement on a government website in November last year, released when Bitcoin was skyrocketing, outlined the government’s position at that time when a local businessman attempted to install two ATM’s in Kazan:

“Currently, the legal status of crypto-currency in the Russian Federation is not defined. The provision by Russian legal entities of services for exchanging “virtual currencies” for rubles and foreign currency, as well as for goods (work, services) is considered as potential involvement in the implementation of questionable transactions in accordance with the legislation on combating the legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime, and the financing of terrorism.”

This hasn’t stopped the Russians from continuing the installations of Bitcoin ATMs, with 43 operating in the country until the police swooped in this week. In terms of world rankings, the US has the most number of installed Crypto ATMs, with 1721 machines currently in use, out of which 151 are located in New York City. Europe is led by Austria with 160 machines currently in use, followed by the UK with 124. The latest machine was installed in the UK, in the sleepy town of Kingsbridge, Devon just last week. France only has 2 active Bitcoin ATMs.

Although the Russsian Central Bank has not given any detail on why it ordered the seizures of Bbfpro’s ATMs, an official has indicated that the regulator carries out “systematic work to identify and counteract illegal activities in the financial market,” meanwhile, no indication of illegal activity has been reported.

Bbfpro has sought legal representation to fight against the seizures, claiming that Russia does not actually prohibit the acquisition of cryptocurrency and that the company itself follows all legal requirements by payment of government taxes and verification of user identities.

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Bitcoin Custodians with $12 Billion Assets Secures Lloyds Insurance

Lloyds of London, the world’s leading insurance market providing specialist insurance services to businesses in over 200 countries and territories, has moved into underwriting crypto with a new account through its business syndication.

UK underwriter Lloyds, which was established in 1765 when button maker John Taylor and iron dealer Samson Lloyd first set up a business together, has added another page to its long history through its connection with South Dakota registered Kingdom Trust, a company which provides customized and innovative digital currency custody solutions for institutional clients.

The trend is clearly changing with more insurers considering providing services to cover custodied digital assets, with AIG, XL Catlin, Chubb and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance all looking at this insurance sector as cryptocurrency grows in stature and popularity.

Until now insurance companies have very much stood back from the industry and some have not disclosed whether they are actually covering institutional assets such as cryptocurrency, due to the risk of compromised client accounts due to fraud and technical errors. Despite such risks, the sector is opening up.

“Insurance for cryptocurrency storage will be a big opportunity,” said Christian Weishuber, a spokesman for Allianz, who offer individual coverage for digital-coin theft. “Digital assets are becoming more relevant, important and prevalent on the real economy and we are exploring product and coverage options in this area.”

Its reported that Kingdom Trust, who has USD 12 billion in assets, secured the account due to the company’s cold storage protocol with the client’s digital currency stored offline. The broker who secured the account, Illinois-based Safe Deposit Box Insurance Coverage (SDBIC), says that Kingdom Trust’s level of security earned them a “drastic discount”.

SDBIC president Jerry Pluard suggests that Lloyds are comfortable with the direction it is moving in with this account and that more syndicates are looking at crypto. He commented:

“About ten syndicates in Lloyds have indicated a willingness and are somewhat active in evaluating crypto exposures… Of those ten, I would say there are five that have the level of expertise that allows them to be comfortable enough to do the analysis and underwriting of the risk, and then the other five will follow on with those leads in writing exposure.”

Kingdom trust reportedly stores 30 different digital assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple and ZCash.

 

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Artist Dubbed as Next Andy Warhol Sells Entire Collection for Crypto

Artist Lincoln Townley, dubbed by Sir Michel Caine as the next Andy Warhol, has sold his entire collection of work for cryptocurrency over one weekend.

The London and LA-based artist’s client list reads like a who’s who in the world of music, sport and cinema with Sir Michael Caine, Al Pacino, Sting, Ronaldinho and Samuel L Jackson just some of those artists in their own fields proud to hang his work in their homes.

Townley has snubbed the traditional gallery route as point-of-sale and sold his collection through social media, insisting on cryptocurrency as payment. He’s not the first artist whose work sells for crypto but he may be the first to insist on digital currency as a preferred payment method. Many of the purchasers hadn’t even seen the work until after they had made payment, having only been able to view it via social media apps such as WhatsApp.

The artist says he is “shaking up the art world” by utilizing an entirely different method of viewing and paying for artwork, removing the middleman from the process. He spoke to the Daily Express about his thinking behind the move:

“There is no two ways about it. The people who invest in Bitcoin are without doubt speculators – they are looking at something with more of a risk… but that’s why I thought to myself, these are the sort of people that would be interested in purchasing my art as an extension to their investment portfolio… There are so many other ways to get sales with technology.”

Townley said that some of his collectors were also cryptocurrency enthusiasts and many were looking for an alternative way to diversify their digital investment portfolio by putting their assets into art, adding, “They are looking for a tangible asset they can put this newfound currency into.”

His latest collection, Behind the Mask, exhibits at the Biennale di Venezia on The Grand Canal in Venice next spring. Townley suggests that galleries could be overrated give his recent crypto sales success online. Artists should be looking at more innovative ways of promoting and selling their work:

“The best thing is it fuels my belief that galleries are secondary to an artist’s success – they just need to look at galleries as another string to their bow… I’m always looking at ways to do things differently in my route to market.”

 

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Pro-Bitcoin Maltese PM Targeted by Crypto Fraudsters

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Malta’s pro-cryptocurrency prime minister, has been the subject of a recent Instagram scam.

Muscat was targeted by conmen using his name to open a fake Instagram account, in an attempt to promote a Bitcoin investment scheme.

The fake account quickly attracted around 1,300 followers with the promise of “enormous return on investments within a month’s time”. A suggestion that potential investors should contact a “Wang Wei” was made using Prime Minister Muscat’s name, but then the account was quickly removed from Instagram.

Muscat has long been an advocate of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, pushing Malta into the forefront of the industry taking it to third most “crypto-friendly” nation, according to a BlockShow Europe study earlier this year.

Not only is the small country planning to host the world’s first regulation-ready decentralized bank, but Malta’s PM has openly expressed a desire for his country to become the world’s number one blockchain hub.

The island has become increasingly appealing to Bitcoin companies conducting business there due to its positive spin on blockchain technology and its open-minded approach to regulation, linked to a strong economy. It also boasts the largest cryptocurrency trading volume in the world, according to Morgan Stanley. With this new legal-certainty status for cryptocurrencies, the country’s claim as another European “crypto haven” to rival Switzerland may be well founded.

The using of prominent names to set up fake schemes has been particularly popular in the UK of late with a number of TV celebrities being targeted. One is the subject of a legal case against Facebook after money saving expert Martin Lewis was targetted. Alan Sugar, British entrepreneur and presenter of TV’s ‘The Apprentice’, told the UK’s Mail on Sunday that scam cryptocurrency deals targeting celebrities were becoming a routine for many prominent business people.

Others who have suffered damage to their reputations due to crypto crime including Bill Gates, Virgin Boss Richard Branston, and BBC Dragon’s Den’s panel member Deborah Meaden.

 

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