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Latest BitFlyer Poll Sees European Confidence in Crypto High

A recent bitFlyer European study of consumer confidence in cryptocurrency has released figures showing a growing interest in the technology across the continent.

The study by the Japanese crypto and blockchain company selected a range of respondents from across Europe by selecting 10 pools of 1,000 people from each nation. The countries chosen for the study were Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, and the U.K.

One revelation coming from the results pointed to cryptocurrency, in general, being capable of having more legs than Bitcoin as a specific project, in fact only 7 percent of respondents saw Bitcoin as existing in its current form as an investment and security token 10 years on, although 49 percent envisaged it existing in some other form.

Cryptocurrency as a general concept fared much better, with 63 percent of respondents coming back favorably. In terms of geographical difference, given that the countries all came within a fairly tight regional group given the nature of the EU, the only clear correlation was that Britain, France, and Belgium all scored low in terms of showing low confidence in the proposition that the crypto space would exist in 10 years. However, Belgium returned some of the highest confidence rates that Bitcoin will continue being used as an investment tool over the same period.

In terms of the popularity of the general crypto space, a decade on Norway and France were polar opposites in terms of the respondents’ answers, with Norway giving the tech the biggest endorsement. It was noted that the survey was limited in its scope as it offered only one question “Do you think bitcoin will still exist in 10 years’ time?” meaning that there was little scope for the researchers to cover the multiple available responses.

With Bitcoin showing some recovery recently and Bitcoin believers in this particular study returning 50 percent and crypto more than 6o percent faith in the future of the technology its not unexpected that these European figures could rise over the coming months.

 

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Brexit, Binance and Bitcoin: A New Era for Crypto in the UK?

Brexit, Binance and Bitcoin: A New Era for Crypto in the UK?

With the clock ticking on Britain’s much-debated exit from membership of the EU and all that means if a decision is finally agreed by September, where will this leave the UK in European Crypto Space? In a position of strength, or cut-off from its legislative support on the other side of the channel?

Well, no man is an island according to English metaphysical poet John Donne, but at this moment in time, it appears that the UK is digging its own hole in the sand as each week passes towards the latest agreed date of departure, when Great Britain and Northern Ireland hopefully get its rules back from the longtime European partners; the leaver’s much heralded and acclaimed  “taking back control.”

Does this even matter when it comes to cryptocurrency trading? In the UK the banks are aware of it, the Bank of England is monitoring it, and the man on the street pretty much knows about it. Bitcoin continues to be classified as private money, with VAT applied and also subject to capital gains tax, where profits and losses are involved.

However-and Britain has illustrated with great clarity to a dumbfounded Europe with its Brexit machinations-it is often slow to make decisions and enforce regulations; in fact, the UK now risks falling behind its European partners regarding cryptocurrency regulations unless it acts with more clarity and decisiveness, and guess who has taken up the leading role in this regard? The French…that must hurt.

Yes, the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) did release a recent update of its progress which is currently in the hands of the specially selected Cryptoassets Taskforce.  However, a series of final guidelines or policy guidelines are still awaited from the FSA after the release of this consultation paper as far as regulatory dynamics go. With France now happy to lead Europe on a regulatory charge, Britain could be left counting its fingers after Brexit.

There are those in the UK however who like what they see in terms of crypto’s future after Brexit. Mike Romanov chief executive of Digital Securities Exchange (DSX) feels it can continue its dominance in the financial markets and crypto could come under the UK rather than EU legislative control. Others see an opportunity too, with a dent left in the Euro cryptocurrency market as Britain goes into its own crypto shell, out of reach from the EU’s legislative grasp, opening the door for new smaller players outside of the EU to leap in and plug some holes.

This is the Bitcoin bull’s stance, Britain hopes for friendlier digital currency regulations than it has at present. Another consideration is what might happen to the price of BTC with the impact of a final departure or possible vote to remain (the usual suspects) this year. There is a general feeling that it is simply the Brexit debate which is pinning the economy down and any kind of departure from this pain will be a release for both traditional and digital financial markets. According to the Bank of England, the economy has been shedding about £800M every week since they made the verdict in 2016.

There is one man who is just happy at what he sees, and if it continues, well then long may it do so. Enter Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao who, having now set up in Jersey is in the right place at the right time; well located for Europeans and Brits alike, whatever the outcome. With the existing offshore legal and regulatory framework for cryptocurrency, it is made to measure, given that there is now more than just a hint that Brits could turn to cryptocurrency come the predicted economic fallout given a no deal Brexit this year, and for this event, Zhao sees himself in the front line.

When it comes to crypto, the front line is always the place to be.

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France Will Push EU to Adopt New Crypto Regulatory Framework

France Will Push EU to Adopt New Crypto Regulatory Framework

France is keen for her European Union neighbors to adopt a similar framework for cryptocurrency to its own newly- formed financial sector legislation.

Its new laws have been structured to keep the Finance Ministry, exchanges, and traders satisfied that there is a little bit of harmony for all, and a relief for many traders who have been expecting a tightening of cryptocurrency guidelines this year.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire clearly wants to share the joy with the rest of Europe, although at this stage it seems unlikely that the UK would come on board with Brexit and European elections looming. France has jumped to head of the Euro queue in adopting a national regulatory framework and sees this as a solution for the other 26, or possibly 27. Le Maire commented:

“I will propose to my European partners that we set up a single regulatory framework on crypto-assets inspired by the French experience.”

Le Maire is clearly confident, adding that “our model is the right one”, although it remains to be seen how this suggestion will be greeted by other EU members.

The French government’s new cryptocurrency bill will now give the opportunity for startups and platforms that want to issue new cryptocurrencies or trade existing ones to apply for a certification giving companies official state recognition. This means that the rest of Europe will now be playing catchup. The certification will be granted by French market regulator and issuers, traders, custodians, and investors will have to pay taxes on their profits.

Transparency is seen as key by the French Finance Ministry and those applying for certification under the new rules will need to be thorough in furnishing business plans, AML, KYC, and be clear about exactly who is conducting and overseeing the business. Those not choosing to seek registration could be left in a vulnerable position.

 

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EU Report: Blockchain Key to ”Digital Twin” Transformation, Brings Trust

EU Report: Blockchain Key to ''Digital Twin'' Transormation, Brings Trust

A report published by the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum cites blockchain technology as fundamental in the next generation digital transformation, facilitating trustful transactions between parties.

Dr Tim Weingärtner, a professor at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences & Arts, authored the report, featuring it on the concept of a ”digital twin” world. This concept essentially looks to build a replica of the physical world within the digital realm, utilizing artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and tokens to represent physical objects, all underlined with blockchain as the ledger.

While blockchain would be used to identify and tokenize physical objects, smart contracts would also be vital in providing a tamper-proof digital environment, the report claims. Smart contracts would enable a secure, automated financial environment.

The Ethereum blockchain is touted as the best for creating and managing tokens, praised for its programming language and existing code examples.

The report claims this embedded connection between the digital and physical worlds will be particularly crucial in the near future because of exponential growth, explaining: ”…The physical world will be exceeded by the digital world in the coming years. This means that speed, growth, and complexity will increase by a multiple.”

 

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Multi Company Blockchain Initiative Launched In Brussels

Multi Company Blockchain Initiative Launched In Brussels

A European Commission initiative called the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) has been launched in Brussels.

With over 100 firms represented in the new project which is designed to bring developers in tandem the newly formed INATBA sees itself as a “global multi-stakeholder forum” aimed at further promoting blockchain across different sectors in Europe.

With members such as SWIFT, IBM, Ripple, banks such as Barclays, and notables from the cryptocurrency space such as ConsenSys AG, crypto mining firm Bitfury, wallet leader Ledger, and IOTA, the new body packs a punch.

The project has been an initiative in waiting for some months up to yesterday’s launch in Brussels. The European Commission itself has been proactive launching its won initiatives with a similar aim to the INATBA, most notably forming the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) along with 22 member countries to support the delivery of cross-border digital public services. Also last year, the EU launched the Blockchain Observatory and Forum, also including ConsenSys amongst its membership.

INATBA has laid out its specific aims as protecting and ensuring both “legal predictability”, and “integrity and transparency” in blockchain by dialogue between regulators, policymakers and participants in the industry.

Also in Europe, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAFM) has praised blockchain’s potential to “support Europe’s unity at a fundamental level” by improving the union’s asylum protocol.

BAFM published findings of its study on 26 March in a white paper, detailing how blockchain could be used in the case of identifying refugees using the immutable technology.

 

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New Report Confirms Terrorists Still Prefer Cash to Crypto

New Report Confirms Terrorists Still Prefer Cash to Crypto

A new report confirms that that terrorist activities continue to be backed by cash rather than cryptocurrencies, which don’t afford such groups the anonymity they seek.

It is a fact that has been known for some time, despite many government departments in jurisdictions around the world citing cryptocurrency links to terrorism, a connection well disproven over time. A 72-page long report published by Europol late last year confirmed conventional banking as the primary source of terrorist funding such as the recent attacks on European cities.

Europol, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, supports the 28 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organized forms of crime. They also work with many non-EU partner states and international organizations.

Now, a newly release Rand Corporation report reconfirms that cryptocurrency is ineffective as a source of funding for terrorist groups. Cash is seen as being far more suited to the transfer of large sums for such activities, mainly due to the increasing degree of legalization and regulation surrounding the cryptocurrency space, which is seen by many from within the industry as a good thing.

The latest report, eclipsing Europol’s 2018 report by 27 pages, focuses primarily on the receipt, management, and spending of funds for terrorist activity. The report maintains that the only one of these areas in which cryptocurrency might have some effectiveness in the first, as receiving funds has been made simple by using digital assets due to its global nature and ease of distribution.

This is counteracted by the fact large sums cannot easily be managed and certainly hit problems when it comes to spending cryptocurrency anonymously due to the current industry infrastructure. The report maintains:

“We see little current evidence of the adoption of cryptocurrencies by terrorist organizations or the motivation to do so, but that very well might change as countermeasures shut off funding and as the cryptocurrency technology changes.”

The report suggests the terrorist needs are not supported by current cryptocurrency systems such as affording the anonymity to buy arms, purchase property and pay for propaganda. These key areas vitally important to terrorist cells require hard cash.

However, the Rand report does add one note of concern for the future suggesting that situation might change with the potential emergence of a single cryptocurrency “that provides widespread adoption, better anonymity, improved security, and that is subject to lax or inconsistent regulation”.

 

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Germany’s Stance on Security Tokens Could Be a Green Light for Europe

In a surprise move, the German Ministry of Finance has called for recognition of blockchain-based securities as a legitimate form of financial instrument.

Friday’s announcement suggested that German law needed to recognize these types of securities, and legislation should be brought into place to support the changes. The new paper published by the ministry last week stated that “the currently mandatory documentary embodiment of securities (paper form) should no longer apply without restriction.”

The German government wants to start with electronic bonds and then later address digital shares. Such securities would in future be registered by a single government agency as yet to be established. This, in the view of the ministry, would ensure no risk of tampering or manipulation. In terms of utility tokens, the paper outlined:

“As a rule, utility tokens do not constitute securities, investments or other financial instruments under the German Securities Trading Act and in most cases will not be electronic bonds in the future,” although “it could be determined by law that a public offer of utility tokens may only take place if the provider has previously published an information sheet.”

There is also a draft bill on Security Token Offerings (STOs) passing through the German Parliament, although in the opinion of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member Senator Thomas Heilmann, who maintains that although it is an interesting technology “many people don’t understand it,” showing there is still a fintech gap in Germany’s ruling house.

The feeling is that Germany could steal a march on other European nations with this legislation, if passed and become the leader in tokenized finance in Europe, further creating a precedent for EU-wide regulations on security tokens moving forward.

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EU-Regulated Bank Frick Launches DLT Markets for Institutional Investors

EU-Regulated Bank Frick Launches DLT Markets for Institutional Investors

One of the European leaders in blockchain banking, Bank Frick, announced last week that it will be starting up a subsidiary service to provide a secure environment for institutional investors to trade in digital assets.

The bank said it is introducing a digital asset marketplace dubbed DLT Markets with the regulatory properties of the traditional financial market. It will provide institutional investors with professional access to cryptocurrencies being traded on multiple exchanges.

CEO of DLT Markets Roger Wurzel said:

“We are creating a unique market offering for institutional investors in the area of the new digital token asset class. With our fully regulated platform, we are driving professionalism with regard to the trading of digital tokens and cryptocurrencies.”

This appears to be the second blockchain-related initiative of the bank, following the recently established Distributed Ventures AG – a subsidiary tasked with promoting and financing fintech and blockchain start-ups – the bank clearly wants a stake in the future digital assets market, as CEO of Bank Frick Edi Wögerer explains: “In establishing The DLT Markets AG, we are significantly building on our leading position in the area of regulated blockchain banking.”

Evidently, the digital asset ecosystem has become a gold rush for institutional investments and while regulatory framework and a secure custody solution may be holding some back, many financial service operators are seeking for ways to stake a place in the emerging market.

Bank Frick is a private bank based in Liechtenstein with a branch that operates in the UK. It has nearly two decades of financial service experiences offered to intermediaries such as fiduciaries, asset managers, payment service providers, and fintechs. Its services include custody of crypto assets, and as per the statement, the bank supports initial coin offerings. Earlier in February, it announced an official partnership with blockchain advisory AmaZix, as part of a drive towards mainstream adoption in blockchain banking services.

Many other financial institutions are participating in the blockchain economy.

Fidelity Investments, with over half a century’s worth of experience in the financial market, whose recent valuation was estimated to be worth USD 2.46 trillion in asset under management (AUM), has launched crypto subsidiary Fidelity Digital Asset Services to provide institutional grade crypto asset custody and cryptocurrency trading services. More so, a deadline has been set for March for the release of its Bitcoin custody solution.

Also, US investment bank JPMorgan recently launched its own JPM Coin, a digital coin backed by the US dollar meant for internal money settlements between its clients. Although it may have received many criticisms from crypto enthusiasts, the gesture remains one of clear certification that blockchain and its underlying asset classes are revolutionary to the traditional financial marketplace.

Last year, top cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that it was adding a sub-account feature to attract institutional investors. US-centered crypto exchange Coinbase also launched its over-the-counter (OTC) trading service for institutional investors. And most recently, New York-based digital asset management firm Grayscale Investstment LLC reported an increase in the number of institutional investors making up 66% of its portfolio under management.

Certainly, it’s turning out to be a bouquet of institutional grade digital investment niche, and with so many to choose from, the industry will perhaps be the replacement venture to traditional finance as many have speculated it to be.

 

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EU Parliament Member Praises Euro Stance on Blockchain, Digital Assets

EU Parliament Member Praises Euro Stance on Blockchain, Digital Assets

Eva Kaili, a member of the European Parliament, the body which exercises the legislative function of the EU, has been speaking out about cryptocurrency and the progressive stance of EU member states towards it.

Speaking at a Ripple event in London recently, Kaili, a former television news presenter who represents the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, was telling her audience how blockchain technology’s disruption of various sectors was beginning to be understood by many EU member states.

She was highlighting the contrast between the industry now and how it was a few years ago in the early stages of its development,  indicating that this was gradually leading to a more positive reaction from EU banks and financial institutions, primarily due to recent regulation.

According to her, another reason for blockchain not being resigned to becoming just another clever idea was the growing mainstream acceptance of the technology by leaders across the world. The stance by these over the past five years has changed noticeably as more and more digital currencies reach acceptance and blockchain becomes a feature of many huge institutions’ business plans.

A major focus of many of these institutions has centered around remittances and cross border payments, which have been clearly improved through blockchain technology. One example being Ripple, the hosts of the event, who maintain that their cross-border payments are becoming both quicker and cheaper as new tech is developed.

MEP Kaili has long been a blockchain and crypto advocate in the European Parliament. In November, she spoke exclusively to Bitcoin News about the Parliament’s release of EUR 700 million for startup projects promising “great solutions” with blockchain.

 

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Hamas Calls for Bitcoin to Combat Israeli Freeze of Millions of Dollars in Qatari Aid

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The militant arm of Hamas in Gaza has made an appeal for Bitcoin funds after a decision by Israel to temporarily freeze millions of dollars in Qatari aid to Palestine.

Hamas, the de-facto ruling authority of the Gaza Strip in Palestine is regarded by several countries, including the US and the EU, as a terrorist organization. Russia, Turkey, and China are among those major world powers who do not subscribe to the definition.

The official Telegram channel of Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, made the appeal for Bitcoin asking all lovers of the resistance and the supporters of our righteous cause to support the resistance financially using Bitcoin.

Hamas has been the voice of Gaza since taking power from the Palestinian Nationalist political party Fatah in 2007 after a military conflict, although the Gaza Strip is now blockaded by both Israel and Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to freeze millions of dollars in Qatari aid – including USD 15 million a month to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants – has heightened the current tension between Gaza and Israel. Abu Obeida’s latest message hinted at the request for funds:

“The Zionist enemy is fighting the resistance by trying to cut its support by all means, but the resistance lovers in all the world are fighting these Zionist attempts and are seeking to find all possible support for the resistance.”

A recent congressional hearing in the US confirmed that in general, fiat currencies are the preferred choice of funding for terrorist activities or arms and that the success of fundraising for such groups through cryptocurrencies has been limited.

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