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2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Hits Out at BitLicense

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Hits Out at BitLicense

Pro-Bitcoin Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang is calling for more clarity in regulating cryptocurrencies slamming BitLicence as “onerous”.

BitLicence, the business license of virtual currency activities issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services, has again come under fire in the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s latest comments.

Yang is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist and the founder of Venture for America. He worked in startups and early-stage growth companies as a founder or executive from 2000 to 2009. He is one of the few presidential candidates in history to accept crypto donations.

One of the concerning factors of BitLicence that many exchanges cite is its dictatorial approach to regulating the market, even to the extent of instructing exchanges exactly which cryptocurrencies they are permitted to trade. When the BitLicense was first enacted at least ten major cryptocurrency companies shuttered their doors to New York customers, and some people have called this the Great Bitcoin Exodus. Ripple gained their license in 2016 and Coinbase in 2017.

Yang is pushing for much clearer regulation, a well-trodden path by many industry players, arguing that has the US will fall behind due to conflicting regulation measures and such introductions as the Token Taxonomy Act, pointing to Wyoming as a beacon of sensible legislation regarding cryptocurrency. He said:

“It’s time for the federal government to create clear guidelines as to how cryptocurrencies/digital asset markets will be treated and regulated so that investment can proceed with all relevant information.”

Wyoming continues to build legislative bridges between the cryptocurrency system, its underlying blockchain technology, and legacy financial laws of the state. Efforts so far have been channeled towards innovation and improved economic activities of digital assets. Its most recent bill aims to identify and classify digital assets into three categories: digital consumer assets, digital securities, and virtual currency.

The bill mentioned that virtual currency is “intangible personal property and shall be considered money”.

 

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Mueller Report Makes Bitcoin Link to Russian Interference in 2016 US Election

The much-anticipated Mueller Report on interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election claims that Russian intelligence used Bitcoin to secure computer infrastructure for hacking purposes.

The ‘Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election’ suggested that there is evidence that Russia attempted to smooth the path for Donald Trump by using hacking to target Hilary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency, although no collusion by the current president was proven. The report stated:

“…cyber intrusions (hacking) and releases of hacked materials [were] damaging to the Clinton Campaign,” adding “The Russian intelligence service known as the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) carried out these operations.”

The report accuses the GRU of hacking into computer hardware used by Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), leading to email leaks damaging to Clinton’s campaign. One of two military units of the GRU allegedly ran “a bitcoin mining operation to secure bitcoins used to purchase computer infrastructure used in hacking operations“, according to details in the report.

The report indicates that a Russian IT unit stored the Bitcoins on UK cryptocurrency cloud mining service and exchange CEX.io and used mined Bitcoins to purchase the domain name “dcleaks.com” on April 19, 2016. The Russian agents were successful in bypassing the UK based exchange’s strict strict KYC/AML policy, common to all cryptocurrency exchanges.

In January 2018 U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that such activity was a concern commenting at the time that cryptocurrency agencies, not unlike conventional banking, had tight KYC regulations. Clearly, this is an area that will come under scrutiny following the Mueller report revelations.

 

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Big Corporates Investing in Blockchain with Wait ‘N See Approach

Big Corporates Investing in Blockchain with Wait 'N See Approach

PitchBook data recently compiled for Reuters shows that both corporate funding and venture capital investments are still behind blockchain tech, although trust in cryptocurrency has still yet to become a feature of large company investment.

Corporate investment in Bitcoin is seen very much like the Holy Grail of the cryptocurrency industry, and to date, the big money is aimed at blockchain technology, although the application for the tech is not as widespread as some advocates would suggest.

However, the future is looking bright with this new data illustrating just how much corporates have softened towards the crypto market, despite avoiding the actual cryptocurrencies themselves. Funds heading in the direction of crypto and blockchain startups are now to the tune of USD 850 million this year to April, and some of this interest has come from high tech companies.

The Catch 22 continues for Bitcoin though, as large companies wait to see if Bitcoin can break through to gain wider adoption despite its fall in value. For many, the perception is that it is only corporate acceptance that can give the market impetus to drive crypto forward to new levels moving forward.

Despite the usual hype, blockchain still needs to find some more sectors in which to operate so that it can be accepted as a viable solution in industry, according to Richard Hay, UK head of fintech at law firm Linklaters, who calls for far more blockchain innovation:

“There are two dynamics at play… We can get something up and running and achieve cost savings, and also look longer term at ways of deploying the technology in more transformative ways.”

Pitchbook data to April also shows that some cooperate investment has been directed at crypto mining gear and exchanges, including the four biggest VC-backed firms by valuation, but Anton Ruddenklau, global co-head of fintech at KPMG feels that although companies are “really enamored” with tokenization, “they are investing as a technological hedge as much as anything”.

One potential crypto industry driver, Bakkt, has already run into problems before its launch. The highly-anticipated cryptocurrency platform has run into trouble with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) over its custody plans for clients’ Bitcoin, after raising USD 180 million last year from investors including M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm.

 

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Kraken Joins Other Exchanges in Delisting Bitcoin SV for “Toxic” Behavior

Kraken Joins Other Exchanges in Delisting Bitcoin SV for

Major US cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has decided to delist Bitcoin SV (BSV) after polling its clients on Twitter over the past few days.

In a largely expected move given the response by other major exchanges, Kraken stated that BSV’s behavior was not in keeping with what it regards as ethical. The California based exchange’s official press release stated that BSV had “…engaged in behavior completely antithetical to everything we at Kraken and the wider crypto community stands for

The alternative crypto’s popularity nosedived after pseudonymous cartoon space-cat “hodlonaut” was threatened with legal action for disputing the legitimacy Craig Wright’s claims to be the founder of Bitcoin.

Since Bitcoin SV forked from Bitcoin Cash in November of last year it has been on a downward spiral. Only major exchange OKEx is continuing to run against popular opinion with rumors that it may be forming a BitcoinSV-centric cryptocurrency exchange called Float SV, with a launch planned for later this month, although it remains to be seen if the tide against BSV is too much and it too caves in and delists, abandoning its offshoot exchange idea in the process.

The poll gathered over 70,000 votes, with 71% of respondents voting to delist the currency. Kraken didn’t hold back on their condemnation of the alternative crypto’s moves to attack those refuting Wright’s claim. Kraken added:

“It started with fraudulent claims, escalating to threats and legal action, with the BSV team suing a number of people speaking out against them. The threats made last week to individual members of the community were the last straw.”

 

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IBM and University of Louisville Launch Blockchain Academy

IBM and University of Louisville Launch Blockchain Academy

In an effort to bridge the current gap between blockchain demand for expertise and existing supply, IBM has partnered with the University of Louisville to launch a blockchain skills academy.

The IBM Skills Academy aims to train the next generation of technology workers in Kentucky state, USA, delivering a curriculum built out of eight emerging and developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), cybersecurity and not least of all, blockchain.

A recent Hard Fork report notes IBM as one of the top blockchain employers worldwide, and students will take heart in this pioneering form, even if this is the first academy of its kind with an institute of higher learning. While students attending courses there will gain credits towards graduation, an IBM certification is the attractive offer, with staff members also taught about emerging technologies.

The official statement from IBM also hints that more such deals are along in the pipeline, with at least four other universities holding talks with the global tech giant.

A Coinbase report from 2018 concluded that only two of the world’s top 10 universities had yet to offer a blockchain education course, and this University of Loiusville ensures that most of these universities continue to be from the US.

 

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Forbes: Trump Could Push Workers to Bitcoin

Forbes_ Trump Could Push Workers to Bitcoin

A Forbes article today has suggested that increasing pressure on immigration issues in the United States as the Trump administration prepares for a re-election campaign, could lead to more people, including residents in the USA, to consider Bitcoin as an alternative for sending money across borders.

Next year, President Trump will seek a second term as president of the world’s largest economy, and will be pulling out all the stops to ensure he rouses populist support, just as he did in his first election campaign.

Currently high on his agenda will be a remittance tax imposed on people living and working in the US illegally, sending money abroad. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told the Associated Press that targeting remittances was a possibility.

“It is a top priority for the administration, as has been for two years, to reduce overstay rates for visas and the visa waiver program — and it’s well known that the administration is working to ensure faithful implementation of immigration welfare rules to protect American taxpayers.”

However, with many naturalized Americans as well as legally employed immigrants also sending money home to families living outside, it could be that they may opt to use a currency that is less monitored than traditional remittance. In which case, Bitcoin fits the bill.

In fact, over the last week, several South and Central American countries have already been reporting new highs in Bitcoin trading volume, according to Coin DanceBitcoinist also reported that Bitcoin trading volumes on peer-to-peer exchange platforms such as Localbitcoins, Paxful, and Bisq have shown a spike in countries like Mexico and Venezuela ever since the news of Trump’s remittance tax first surfaced. Mexico alone set a new record, with half a million dollars moving hands in the last week on Localbitcoins.

 

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VC Tim Draper Eyeballs Facebook Coin Project as Possible Investment

facebook coin

Tim Draper, Draper Associates venture capitalist and crypto pundit, is reported to be meeting with Facebook in order to determine if his company should invest in Facebook Coin – a stablecoin project being considered by the social media giant.

The idea behind Facebook Coin is to allow FB users to conduct transactions using a cryptocurrency pegged to the US dollar in tandem with WhatsApp.

Draper is certainly not shy when it comes to investments, and knows a good deal when he sees one, having invested in Telsa. Inc, Hotmail, and Skype before discovering Bitcoin in 2014 into which he invested USD 89.1 million. Since then he has become an outspoken advocate of the flagship cryptocurrency, talking up its price at every opportunity.

It’s thought that Facebook needs USD 1 Billion in venture capital to get its plans for the stablecoin project moving. The company taking more than a passing interest in the crypto space over past months hired PayPal president David Marcus to head its blockchain team. A cryptocurrency could be a massive boon to the company’s already well-heeled status claims Barclays’ analyst Ross Sandler:

“Any attempt to build out revenue streams outside of advertising, especially those that don’t abuse user privacy are likely to be well-received by Facebook’s shareholders.”

Sandler sees a potential USD 19 billion being added to Facebook’s annual revenue. Draper’s role in such a project could be quite influential given his track record, and his predictions for Bitcoin, in particular, show great faith in the future of cryptocurrencies as a concept.

Draper who’s been consistent in his prediction that Bitcoin prices would hit USD 250,000 by 2022 has views on crypto’s future that would give Facebook, with all its engineering prowess, great heart. Talking of Bitcoin’s future, Draper maintains that crypto as a vital part of the financial system will become a reality, becoming bigger than the internet.

“My reasoning is that all these engineers have to create all the things they are doing to make it really easy for us to spend it and to use it and to move it and to build it into our contracts and all of that.” He adds, “This affects the entire world and it’s going to be affected in a faster and more prevalent way than you ever imagined.”

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New York Start-Up Raises $14.1 Million for Blockchain-Based Settlements in Retail Market

US-based startup raises USD 14.1M for blockchain-based settlements in the retail market

In a press release dated 11 April, New York-based Blockchain start-up Flexa has announced that it has raised USD 14.1M to develop a payments network for retailers. Flexa has raised this amount in a private token sale which involves 1kx, investment firms Nima Capital and Access Ventures. Hedge fund Pantera Capital was also a part of the token sale, among others. The company aims to create and develop a payments network for retailers that would significantly drop costs, fraudulence and other overhead costs by means of Blockchain based payments and settlements.

Flexa co-founder and CEO Tyler Spalding said,

“The anti-fraud and cost benefits of global cryptocurrency payments are enormous, but there are many barriers to mainstream adoption for merchants and consumers alike. Flexa is going to change that.”

Flexa has also revealed that it is planning to release an app wherein customers can perform tasks and conduct transactions with the cryptocurrencies that they own.  However, Spalding refused to specify which merchants will accept Bitcoin through this app. A few video tests show users buying coffee from Starbucks in it.

Flexa’s token, which is known as Flexacoin is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token. Developers and businesses will stake value on Flexa’s network using Flexacoin, for merchant payment processing. Spalding stated that the merchants would not be required to hold or spend Flexacoins. Flexa co-founder Trevor Filter said that the details regarding such governance and participation are still under development.

This becomes evident to the fact that Blockchain based settlements are being widely implemented in the retail industry. It serves as a step for the technology to be adopted in the wholesale sector and beyond, which remains vital for the wider adoption of Bitcoin globally.

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US Congress to IRS: Ambiguous Tax Treatment, a Serious Problem to Taxpayers

US Congress to IRS: Ambiguous Tax Treatment, A Serious Problem to Taxpayers

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner Charles Rettig received a request from members of the Congress on the blockchain committee chaired by Congressman Tom Emmer; to provide clarity about filing crypto-related taxes before tax day.

A bipartisan letter drafted by Congressman Emmer along with 20 others in the committee expressed their concerns in the form of questions about the ambiguous tax treatment of emerging exchange of value. Issues such as acceptable methods for calculating the cost basis of virtual currencies, the acceptable methods of cost basis assignment and lot relief for virtual currencies, and tax treatment of forks especially with regard to the 2017 hard fork of the Bitcoin blockchain.

In the press release, it was stated that rather than provide clarity, “the 2014 guidance by the IRS failed to address fundamental tax questions,” and further spawned more request for clarity, meanwhile, the IRS only tightened its processes and made it more difficult for taxpayers by increasing “enforcement activities against taxpayers who “misreport” their cryptocurrency transactions.”

It was the opinion of the committee that an appropriate tax filing procedure should be in order and one long overdue since the IRS released its preliminary guidance on the subject – about five years ago.

Congressman Emmer said:

“Guidance is long overdue and essential to proper reporting of these emerging assets. The bipartisan support this letter has received should send a clear message to the IRS that clear guidelines for reporting virtual currency are necessary.”

Earlier this year, it would appear that as the tax year end closes in, cryptocurrency users were on edge as to how to report their crypto earnings. In the UK, tax filing seems a step-ahead as it published a comprehensive guide (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) guidelines) detailing how crypto-related transactions for individuals are to be treated during tax reporting. Meanwhile, in the US, the IRS had only so far declared cryptocurrency taxation policies as a core campaign in 2019.

On a broader perspective, the overall attempt by the US to provide an ambient environment for the emerging asset industry continues at a rather progressive pace. Recently, a bill designed to exclude cryptocurrencies from being identified as securities was reintroduced for consideration.

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IMF Online Pollsters Call Crypto Most Popular Payment by 2024

IMF Online Pollsters Call Crypto Most Popular Payment by 2024

A poll running on the IMF website asking the question asking “How do you think you will be paying for lunch in 5 years?” now has almost 26,000 responses.

The response is clear, hedging towards crypto with 56% of respondents going for the flagship crypto with only 9% and 7% respectively suggesting payments in 2024 will be made with cash and bankcard.

Of course, IMF’s poll is limited to lunch, but clearly could well be extended to online and in-store purchases. However, eating out on crypto is not as difficult as one might think, which is probably reflected by the respondents’ views.

Asia is ahead of the game with Bithumb, South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency-to-fiat exchange and the world’s 6th largest digital currency, who installed cryptocurrency-accepting kiosks across the country, at restaurants, cafes, stores, and malls in 2018.

Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz has warned that cryptocurrencies need to be adopted by retailers in order to join reserve currencies around the world. The Bakkt project has for the latter part of 2018 been touted as the platform to finally make way for mainstream institutional investors to get into the cryptocurrency game and could see the beginning of Starbucks crypto coffee and bagels.

Currently, CoinMap identifies over 14,600 establishments that accept Bitcoin across the world, but these are not simply eateries such as restaurants and cafés. Scandinavia may be the place to dine on Bitcoin though. Denmark is keen and now registers 1500 restaurants which will happily take clients BTC for a tasty meal. Further south in Holland, Arnhem, once called the “world’s most Bitcoin-friendly city”, is now seeing BTC less used for such payments.

 

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