Category Archives: US cryptocurrency news

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 12th to 18th 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.

United States

Top 6 universities from the US, including MIT, are busy developing what they claim to be the fastest cryptocurrency ever. Called Unit-e, the cryptocurrency is being built from scratch, using a version of blockchain that would accommodate a thousand transactions per second.

Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, tops out at 7 transactions per second, while Ethereum goes at 30 transactions a second. Will the new cryptocurrency being developed eventually dethrone Bitcoin? Only time will tell.

Crypto Bills Tabled in Congress: US Congressman Tom Emmer introduced a bill titled the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act that would exempt cryptocurrency related companies from money transmission laws if they are non-custodial in nature.

Emmer is also a member of the US House Financial Services Committee and co-Chair of Blockchain Caucus. If passed, the bill would help in accelerating the development of blockchain related industry and businesses on US soil.

Ex-Congressman Criticizes Current Approach to Crypto Sector: An ex-congressman, George Nethercutt has also criticized the US government for being too conservative and throttling the development of a technology that can help the country grow.

According to him, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laws are from the 1930s and should have no role to play in regulating cryptocurrencies.

Douglas County Announces Blockchain Innovation Campus: Douglas County in Washington has revealed plans for a blockchain innovation campus.

With a number of crypto mining farms in the county, due to its cheap hydroelectric power, the county already boasts of a number of blockchain startups and mining farms. The development of a dedicated area for blockchain companies to work would cement its place as a local industry leader.

Cryptocurrency Bills Passed by State Legislature: Two bills concerning cryptocurrencies have been passed by the State of Wyoming.

One of the bills caters to utility tokens, declaring them as intangible personal property and requiring no exemption from security regulators since they are not securities now. The second bill is set to provide a sandbox for crypto platforms to test various services while being shielded from specific laws and regulations. 

Nevada to Test Marriage Registration on Blockchain: Love is in the air for Nevada blockchain enthusiasts. Washoe County in Nevada allows its residents to cement their vows on the immutable blockchain.

The county has turned towards the Ethereum blockchain as it offers a simple way to record marriage certificates. Couples now do not have to wait for 10 days for issuance of their marriage certificates. The county also records births on the blockchain, issuing them as quickly as those of marriage.

Canada

Bankers Association Pushing for Blockchain Adoption: The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is pushing banks for a larger and broadscale adoption of blockchain due to the added benefits it carries.

The CBA calls for linkage of federal and provincial ID database on the blockchain. This, according to the association, would allow banks to authenticate clients digitally and replace the current slow, paper-based version which is prone to security lapses.

Marshall Islands

State Cryptocurrency Close to Becoming a Reality: Once the testing ground for nuclear tests by the US, the Marshall Islands governments blockchain team has announced it has made major achievements in developing a central bank backed cryptocurrency, dubbed the Sovereign.

Although the country has faced a lot of criticism from major financial institutions and regulators from around the world, it seems the tiny island nation is going full steam ahead.

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Ex-US Congressman Criticizes Stifling Government Approach to Crypto

Congressman

Former US Congressman George Nethercutt, a backer of cryptocurrencies, has criticized the current approach of the government on the matter and has said that it is damaging progress and innovation of this vital sector.

Nethercutt is a Republican who served as a representative from his home state of Washington for ten years since 1995. He is the founder and chairman of Nethercutt Consulting LLC and of his nonprofit, the Nethercutt Civics Foundation.

Criticizing the current approach of the government on the matter, Nethercutt wrote in a recent Op-ed for his non-profit foundation:

“While diplomats at the State Department are negotiating hard to pave the way for American innovation, US regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have been slow to make pronouncements regarding cryptocurrencies… This has hampered innovation and left many American businesses in regulatory limbo, particularly with respect to whether or not their tokens are classified as securities.”

While the SEC has been criticized by a number of past and current serving congressmen, it is clear that the regulator’s approach is unpopular among many sections of the public outside the cryptocurrency fraternity as well.

There is also considerable confusion regarding the jurisdiction of the SEC along with the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as both regulators differ on key aspects of regulating the industry.

For Nethercutt, the outdated SEC laws dating back from as early as 1930s are not compatible with modern cryptocurrencies. He wrote: “From a legal perspective, experts have concluded that securities regulations simply do not apply to cryptocurrencies.”

It remains to be seen what influence Nethercutt may have on the government.

 

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Two New Pro Crypto Bills Passed by the US State of Wyoming

Wyoming

Two new bills aimed at fostering a supportive regulatory environment for blockchain and cryptocurrency innovations have been passed by the US state of Wyoming’s legislature. Caitlin Long, the president of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, informed about the developments in her recent tweets (posted on 10 and 11 January).

Till now, only the reports regarding the House Bill 62 have been unveiled. Wyoming’s state legislature’s page was updated stating that the bill was passed 8-1. Moreover, the bill has been placed on the general file. However, the status of the House Bill 57 has not been updated yet. It is important to note that in a recent tweet, Long claimed that House Bill 57 had been passed with no opposition.

The House Bill 62 has been named as the Wyoming Utility Token Act-property amendments. The bill classified the open blockchain tokens as intangible personal property. It means that these tokens are not required to take exemption from federal securities law.  The bill states that open blockchain tokens cannot be considered as securities. The person who buys these tokens cannot get a cash payment or share in profits from the business, rather he/she will only get services.

The second bill, House Bill 57 is termed as the Financial Technology Sandbox. A sandbox is a flexible testing environment, providing immunity from particular rules and laws that hinder the innovation. It would ultimately give rise to a blockchain friendly business environment and help the new financial service firms.

This is not the first time the Wyoming State has taken positive steps regarding blockchain technology. In early 2018, the House of Representatives and Wyoming Senate passed a bill (House Bill 70) in order to relax regulations for particular tokens offered through the ICOs. Moreover, in March 2018, the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act was approved by the Wyoming state legislature, which exempted virtual currencies from state property taxation.

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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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FBI, Homeland Raid Michigan Crypto Setup for Illegal Trading

FBI, Homeland Raid Michigan Crypto Setup for Illegal Trading

A science and technology center situated in Michigan has been raided by Federal agencies during a crypto-related investigation, as reported by Wood-TV on 5 January 2019.

Chris Boden, founder of The National Science Institute (formerly The Geek Group), reportedly issued a live statement on YouTube Saturday night, stating that his office was raided by the officials of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He added that during the raid, agents took away computers and other equipment from the office. He maintained that his company was a technology-based non-profit organization.

The news agency also reported that Boden admitted that he was indeed trading in cryptocurrency without the essential authorization. Moreover, the founder believes that he would be facing federal prison time and around USD 100,000 for the legal defense.

On 6 January, Boden posted on Facebook stating that he would use an open Google Doc to issue a public statement. However, the current statement says that he will refrain from making any comment on the ongoing investigation; on the advice of his lawyers.

In a similar fashion, in the previous month, the CEO of Coinflux, a dominant Romanian crypto exchange, was arrested on the charges of fraud, organized crime and money laundering on a warrant issued by the US government. In August 2018, South Korean police took action against a local company which was allegedly offering its investors the remains of a sunken Russian warship.

 

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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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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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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 14 – 20 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.

United States

Coinbase transfers Biggest amount of Cryptocurrency: The United States’ largest cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has done a transfer that is the biggest in the history of cryptocurrency. With 15 million Litecoin (LTC), 8.3 million Ether (ETH), and 870,000 Bitcoin (BTC) transferred, the total value stood at USD 5 billion at the time. The transfer was done internally, moving funds from one of its cold storages to another even secure one to fend off any hacking attempts.

Token Taxonomy Act Introduced in House: A bill introduced by pro crypto Florida Democrat Darren Soto and Republican Warren Davidson will see SEC’s role in crypto regulation come to an end. SEC has had a history of coming down hard on ICOs, where it sees the crypto tokens being offered as securities.

The SEC Chairman Jay Clayton had previously announced that cryptocurrencies and ICOs will be officially classified as securities by the regulator. The bill, if passed, will be hailed by the crypto community which feels stifled and threatened by the undue pressure of the SEC.

Western Union Hints at Cryptocurrency Support: The American financial services company has recently hinted on supporting cryptocurrencies in the future. Western Union Global Money Transfer President Odilon Almeida has said “Cryptocurrency might become one more option for a way for assets to be exchanged between people and countries. If that happens we would be ready to launch,” and that the money transfer company is in the perfect position to start the services. Western Union has already partnered with Ripple Labs to establish whether using blockchain is feasible.

Taxing Software Node 40 being Used:  With still a lot of confusion on how to file crypto related tax gains in the U.S., many have turned towards Node 40. The Node 40 software integrates user wallets and exchanges into itself and over the year calculates the exact amount that needs to be reported and actual tax to be filed.

The use of specialized software indicates that many crypto users and traders still do not have clarity on exact taxes to be paid. This can lead to the wrath of IRS as it begins to clamp down on crypto trading.

Pro Bitcoin White House Chief of Staff Appointed: With General John Kelly leaving the White House Chief of Staff position, President Trump has hired Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management & Budget as acting White House Chief of Staff. Mulvaney is a staunch supporter of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. He is the driving force behind Blockchain Caucus, the lawmaker group pushing for laws to make it easier for cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption.

The hiring, though hailed by every crypto enthusiast, has had others stumped. Days before the presidential election, Mulvaney had called then-presidential candidate Trump a “terrible human being”.

Facebook Considering Stablecoin A report by Bloomberg has revealed that the social media giant Facebook is actively working on a stable coin that it intends to use in its messaging app, WhatsApp. Facebook had created a blockchain development team earlier this year. It is being led by David Marcus, the former Vice President of Facebook Messenger app division. Recently, the team had 5 openings, seeking to expand and recruit people from data science and even marketing.

The job descriptions had been vague, not exactly telling the nature of the work involved. However, the Bloomberg report clarifies at least one direction – the stable coin, reportedly, will be available in the Indian market first, where expats remitted USD 69 billion last year according to World Bank data.

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Pro-Bitcoin Lawmaker is New White House Chief of Staff

Trump

Mick Mulvaney has just been hired by US president Donald Trump to be his new White House Chief of Staff.

For once, the haphazard and on-the-fly decision to appoint people to crucial positions in the US government has finally led to an advantage for the cryptocurrency community. According to a report, Mulvaney has strong disagreements with Trump policies, and days before the election, he had said that the then-presidential candidate Trump was a “terrible human being”.

The appointment is seen by crypto enthusiasts and supporters around the world as a sign that cryptocurrencies will be given relief in the US. The South Carolina Republican is a strong advocate for the digital currency revolution and is one of the driving forces behind Blockchain Caucus, a lawmaker group that not only advocates for rising technologies like blockchain but introduce new legislation and laws for them too.

The latest appointment comes as General John Kelly steps down. President Trump Tweeted the new appointment:

I am pleased to announce that Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management & Budget, will be named Acting White House Chief of Staff, replacing General John Kelly, who has served our Country with distinction. Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2018

Mulvaney has pushed for a number of resolutions in support of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. House Resolution 7002 was a proposed amendment to the E-Sign Act designed to “confirm the applicability of blockchain to electronic records, electronic signatures and smart contracts”. Another previous resolution he backed, 1108, was to show the Congress on how to take a systematic and logical approach towards the innovations created by blockchain technology.

Mulvaney has said on record, “Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the financial services industry, the US economy and the delivery of government services, and I am proud to be involved with this initiative.”

 

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SEC Chair: ICOs Effective for Capital but Must Follow Securities Law

SEC

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton has said that although ICOs are an effective tool to raise capital, they must adhere to securities law.

The chairman’s latest ICO-related comments came during his speech on SEC rulemaking recently. He said that digital assets, ICOs and distributed ledger technologies are an “area where the Commission and staff have spent a significant amount of time” and that this would continue into 2019.

According to Clayton, ICOs are working in a manner where investors are not protected like traditional securities are, leading to higher chances of market manipulation and fraud. He and his organization have a tough stance on ICOs, saying that most of them are just like securities and, therefore, must be treated like one. This means ICOs must follow the laws set for securities under the SEC:

“I believe that ICOs can be effective ways for entrepreneurs and others to raise capital. However, the novel technological nature of an ICO does not change the fundamental point that, when a security is being offered, our securities laws must be followed.”

The chairman also highlighted the commission’s openness to blockchain technology and its financial applications by talking about the creation of SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub). One of the major tasks of FinHub is to facilitate crypto startups to comply with current regulations when it comes to ICOs and launching of their tokens. Clayton said the “door remains open to those who seek to innovate and raise capital in accordance with the law”.

The SEC is very active when it comes to violation of regulations. Only a couple of days ago, it had issued an order to digital fund asset platform CoinAlpha Advisors to halt its ICO, fining it USD 50,000 for breach of regulations.

 

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