China Introduces New Anti-Anonymity Regulations for Blockchain-Related Companies

China has introduced new guidelines seeking to eliminate anonymity in blockchain networks.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has introduced new regulations for blockchain firms that are operating in the country. The announcement was published on the regulator’s website on Thursday, Jan. 10.

According to the CAC, the guidelines, which will come into force on Feb. 15, were developed to contribute to the healthy development of the industry.

The document describes the firms that are subject to regulations as websites or mobile apps that provide information and technical support to the public using blockchain technologies. As soon as the regulations come into power, they will be obliged to register their names, domains and server addresses at the CAC within 20 days.

The guidelines require blockchain startups to allow authorities access to stored data, and to introduce registry procedures that would require ID card or mobile numbers from its users. Moreover, they will be obliged to oversee content and censor information that is prohibited under current Chinese law.

If a firm fails to comply with the regulations, it might face fines from 20,000 to 30,000 yuans ($2,900 and $4,400, respectively). In case of serial offences, the company might face a criminal investigation.

China first released draft guidelines in October for blockchain companies, which also contained recommendations that sought to eliminate anonymity in blockchain.

At the time, Asian newspaper The South China Morning Post wrote about an anonymous open letter that alleged sexual harassment at a top Chinese university that was published on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain in April. The media outlet believes the publication of the letter could be a motivation behind the new regulations.

China is currently mainly piloting blockchain legislation in three regions — Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. According to a December report by local finance publication Securities Daily, there are 11 blockchain-related policy projects concentrated in these areas.

In the meantime, the country has upheld a de facto ban on domestic crypto trading since 2017, which was completed in February 2018 when the government added international crypto exchanges and initial coin offering (ICO) websites to its Great Firewall. The decision was approved by the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, and regulators.

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Crypto Exchange Seed CX Launches On-Chain Wallet Solution for Institutional Investors

Crypto exchange Seed CX, a Chicago-based platform targeting institutional clients, has launched a new digital asset wallet solution with on-chain settlement.

Crypto exchange Seed CX — a Chicago-based licensed platform targeting institutional clients — has launched a digital asset wallet solution with on-chain settlement, according to a press release published Jan. 10.  

Seed CX has reportedly developed the new wallet solution together with its settlement subsidiary, Zero Hash — a crypto and fiat currency custodian providing on-chain settlement services. Zero Hash reportedly has FinCEN’s regulatory approval to operate as a money transmitter across 25 American states, and is also under review for a prospective BitLicense from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

As the press release outlines, Seed CX platform users will each be assigned a unique, segregated wallet, which the company argues is more secure than existing multi-user, omnibus wallet solutions offered by other exchanges. Seed CX makes the case that dispersing digital asset holdings across multiple unique wallets helps to mitigate the risk of threat actors accessing pooled assets via a single vector of attack.

To provide a higher level of anonymity for its on-chain solution, Zero Hash will also reportedly generate new wallet addresses for each user each time transfers between wallets occur, making the movements associated with a single wallet less conspicuous to other market participants.

Other operational safeguards will reportedly include restricting access for withdrawal of assets to the user or an authorized delegate signer, whitelisted address functionality to determine pre-approved destination wallets and mult-signature security.

The press release levels criticisms at the inadequate security protocols it considers to be rife among exchanges, as well as at the limited visibility investors are given with off-chain wallet solutions.

As previously reported, 31 crypto exchanges have been hacked over the last eight years, with an estimated $1.3 billion stolen.

As Cointelegraph reported in September, Seed CX is backed by Boston-based alternative investment firm Bain Capital Ventures, which led a $15 million funding round for the exchange. The platform is licensed to offer both spot market and U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)-regulated derivatives, the latter for which it reportedly plans to offer a separate market in the future.

With Seed CX targeting institutional clients with its new solution, the market for retail-focused wallets has seen several recent developments. South Korean electronics giant Samsung filed for a crypto wallet-related trademark in the United Kingdom in December, while stalwart hardware wallet firm Ledger launched a Bluetooth-based wallet earlier this month.

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Venezuelan WTO Request Accuses US of ‘Discriminatory Measures’ Against Petro Coin

Venezuela has requested consultations with the U.S. government in connection with “discriminatory” sanctions against its national digital currency.

Venezuela has taken issue with United States sanctions, including those levied against transactions in the country’s national digital currency, the Petro (PTR), according to a World Trade Organization (WTO) consultation request, published Jan. 8.

The request, dubbed “United States — Measures relating to trade in goods and services,” was originally filed on Dec. 28. In the document, the delegation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requests consultations with the U.S. government regarding “certain measures imposed by the United States in relation to trade in goods and services.”

In particular, the document describes five key areas through which the U.S. purportedly introduced “coercive trade-restrictive measures […] on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” One of the fives areas describes “[d]iscriminatory coercive trade-restrictive measures with respect to transactions in Venezuelan digital currency.”

In this section, the Venezuelan government alleges that the U.S. government subjects Venezuelan financial services and financial service suppliers to the above measures, “under which suppliers receive treatment less favourable than that accorded to like services and service suppliers of WTO Member States not subject to the measures.”

The document also alleges that:

“[…]inasmuch as digital currencies originating in the United States are not subject to the same prohibitions as Venezuelan digital currencies, the United States is according less favourable treatment to Venezuelan financial services and service suppliers than to like domestic financial services and service suppliers, in violation of Article XVII:1 of the GATS.”

Venezuela thus requests consultations with the government of the U.S. and modification, replacement and amendment of the measures identified in the compliant.

In February 2018, the Venezuelan government launched the pre-sale of its national oil-backed cryptocurrency Petro (PTR). The country reportedly introduced the currency in an attempt to attract foreign investors and skirt U.S. and EU sanctions, as well as overcome catastrophic hyperinflation in the country.

Later in August, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that the Petro will be used as a unit of account within the country, creating two official currencies. In December, the country took one more step towards mass adoption of the Petro by reportedly automatically converting pensioners’ most recent monthly bonus into the cryptocurrency.

Today, Jan. 10, Cointelegraph reported that the Venezuelan government has published a new decree that introduces taxation for operations with cryptocurrency and foreign fiat currencies. The decree states that all citizens who deal with cryptocurrencies or foreign fiat currencies are now obliged to report their income and pay taxes in the same currency they have operated in, and not in the sovereign bolivar.

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Nick Szabo: Central Banks Might Switch From ‘Physically Vulnerable’ Gold to Bitcoin

Nick Szabo

Central Banks might resort to cryptocurrency reserves as means of supplementing national gold reserves according to veteran cryptographer Nick Szabo. He also holds that the use of digital currencies will rise in countries with distraught economies.  Cryptocurrency Over Gold Speaking at the Israel Bitcoin Summit at Tel Aviv University on January 8th, legendary cryptographer, Nick Szabo, said that national central banks might resort to cryptocurrency reserves as means of supplementing existing national gold reserves. “Bitcoin

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Russian Parliament to Focus on Digital Economy Bills in Next Session, Says Chairman

Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, has prioritized digital economy bills, including a draft bill on crypto.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, has said that bills on the digital economy will be a priority during the upcoming session. The parliament’s official website revealed this in a press release published Wednesday, Jan. 9.

Speaking at the opening of the parliament’s spring session, Volodin mentioned the digital economy bills that are currently being considered, including the ones on digital financial assets, digital rights and crowdfunding. According to the chairman, the members of the parliament will focus on these bills during the upcoming session.

Volodin also urged lawmakers to create a favorable legal environment for the development of the digital economy in Russia.

The chairman further recommended the creation of working groups of experts, entrepreneurs and researchers in order to speed up the development of new digital economy-related laws. Volodin added that the MPs are set to present more than 20 new draft bills related to the digital economy in the near future.

The Russian government has been struggling to finalize its bill on digital assets throughout last year, with the final version receiving heavy criticism from members of the industry. The draft bill for crypto legislation — which lacked definitions for core crypto concepts, such as mining and cryptocurrencies themselves — has been ultimately sent back to the first reading stage.

In September, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) — the members of which include mineral mining and smelting billionaire Vladimir Potanin and the head of the Russian innovation fund Skolkovo, Viktor Vekselberg — proposed an alternative to the state draft bill on crypto. In November, the group sent its proposals to the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

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DARB Finance: An Integrated Trading Solution With a Special Christmas Offer

DARB Finance is a fully-fledged integrated trading platform. It’s user-friendly, secure, and it also makes trading particularly convenient. Going beyond what ordinary exchanges provide, DARB offers an entire ecosystem for trading, managing, learning, and taking the best care of your portfolio. Cryptocurrency Trading Made Easier Before everything else, DARB Finance is a very easy-to-use, secure, and comprehensive trading platform. Its most integral qualities include lightning fast speed, convenience, and security. Using a matching engine capable

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New York Economic Dev. Non-Profit NYCEDC Opens Blockchain Center

The New York City Economic Development Corporation has announced the opening of a Blockchain Center in the city.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has announced that it is opening its Blockchain Center in Manhattan, Bloomberg reports today, Jan. 10.

The organization told reporters that the center is part of a partnership with international trade organization Global Blockchain Business Council and affiliates of New York-based venture capital fund Future Perfect Ventures.

Located in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, the 4,000-square-foot center will reportedly offer blockchain-oriented educational services to the general public, such as programming classes to lectures for software developers.

Ana Arino, chief strategy officer at the NYCEDC, told Bloomberg in a phone interview that the organization is “playing the long game” in terms of the potential of blockchain tech, and looking to keep New York at the forefront of future development. Arino stated:

“[Blockchain is] a nascent technology, so there’s bound to be uncertainty around this evolution from year to year. While we don’t know what the future holds, we want to make sure we have a seat at the table shaping it.”

The city is reportedly contributing a “one-time initial investment of $100,000.” Bloomberg reports that the organization will seek to raise further funds via membership fees and through corporate partners, which already reportedly include Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.

According to Bloomberg, the city has tentative plans to test the use of blockchain tech this fall.

The NYCEDC’s president and CEO first announced plans to open a blockchain-focused resource and education center in the city in May.

This month, a New York state legislature assemblyman announced that New York had become the first United States state to create a cryptocurrency task force aimed at studying the regulation, use and definition of digital currency.

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Bitwise Files With the US SEC for a Physically Held Bitcoin ETF

Cryptocurrency index fund provider Bitwise Asset Management has applied with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to launch a new Bitcoin ETF.

Cryptocurrency index fund provider Bitwise Asset Management has applied with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch a new Bitcoin (BTC) Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), according to a registration form published today, Jan. 10.

According to the form, Bitwise’s proposed ETF will track the Bitwise Bitcoin Total Return Index, the value of which is “calculated based on the prices of bitcoin that the Index Provider derives from bitcoin price transactions occurring on cryptocurrency exchanges.” According to a press release accompanying the newly filed form, the firm’s proposed Bitcoin ETF reportedly differs from other previously proposed Bitcoin ETFs in that it draws prices from a variety of crypto exchanges, with the aim of better representing the market.

Bitwise’s Bitcoin ETF reportedly also differs from other applications in that it would require “regulated third-party custodians to hold its physical bitcoin.”

In the firm’s press release, John Hyland, Global Head of ETFs at Bitwise declared:

“Having a regulated bank or trust company hold physical assets of a fund has been the standard under U.S. fund regulation for the last 80 years, and we believe that is now possible with Bitcoin.”

As Cointelegraph reported in July, Bitwise had filed with the SEC to launch a crypto ETF tracking the Bitwise HOLD 10 Private Index Fund, a basket of ten cryptocurrencies. To press time, a decision from the SEC is still pending.  

An ETF is a security that tracks an asset or a group of assets and is traded the same way in which stocks are on an exchange. As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has denied that it is considering allowing Bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

The crypto industry has long awaited the approval of a Bitcoin or generally crypto ETF by U.S. regulators, since a number of firms have applied to launch such products in the country. In December, the SEC further postponed its decision on a Bitcoin ETF by investment firm VanEck and blockchain company SolidX on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE),  setting the new deadline for Feb. 27, 2019.

Also in December, an SEC commissioner said “not to hold your breath” waiting for a Bitcoin ETF, speaking at the Digital Asset Investment Forum held in Washington.

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Daily On-Chain Bitcoin Transactions Hit Yearly High

Despite the prolonged bear market of 2018, the year has seen a steady increase in the number of confirmed Bitcoin transactions. They are currently at their highest point since mid-January 2018.  Real Adoption Regardless of the sharp decline in Bitcoin price in 2018, the cryptocurrency has seen a steady increase in the number of transactions throughout the entire year. Data from Blockchain.com shows that the number of confirmed Bitcoin transactions is currently higher than that on January

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Bitcoin Dips Below $3,700 as All Top Cryptos See Severe Losses

All of the top 20 cryptocurrencies report severe losses, with Bitcoin tumbling below the $3,700 threshold.

Thursday, Jan. 10 — all of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are seeing severe losses in the 24 hours to press time. Bitcoin’s (BTC) price has dipped below the $3,700 mark, according to Coin360 data.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

At press time, Bitcoin is down over 9 percent on the day, trading at around $3,661. Looking at its weekly chart, the current price is lower than $3,888, the price of BTC one week ago. The current Bitcoin value is also substantially lower than $4,108, its mid-week high reported on Tuesday.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP) has regained its position as the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, overtaking Ethereum (ETH). Moreover, the divide between the two assets coins has shrinked, with Ethereum’s market cap being $13.3 billion and Ripple’s — $13.57 billion.

Ripple is down over 9 percent on the day, trading at around $0.33 at press time. On the weekly chart, the current price is lower than $0.364, the price at which the cryptocurrency started the week. XRP’s current price is also notably lower than its high of $0.381, reported earlier today.

Ripple 7-day price chart

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum has seen its value decrease by about 16 percent over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading at around $127, having started the day around $151. On the weekly chart, Ethereum’s current value is significantly lower than $150, the price at which the coin started the week.

Ethereum 7-day chart

Ethereum 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, none are experiencing growth other than the stablecoin Tether (USDT), which grew by 0.65 percent in the last 24 hours. The cryptocurrencies reporting the most substantial losses in the top 20 by market cap are Iota and Neo, which are down over 16 percent.

The combined market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies — currently at about $122 billion — is lower than $130 billion, the value it reported one week ago. The current value is also substantially lower than $138 billion, the value it reached earlier today.

Total crypto market cap 7-day chart

Total crypto market cap 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

As Cointelegraph reported today, a critical vulnerability that leaked sensitive user data has been discovered and quickly patched on the Nasdaq-powered cryptocurrency and tokenized stock exchange DX.Exchange.

Furthermore, news broke earlier today that several tobacco shops in Paris, France, have started selling Bitcoin despite a degree of regulatory uncertainty. Customers can reportedly purchase tickets for the sums of 50, 100 or 250 euros with an alphanumeric code and a QR code, which can then be used to obtain Bitcoin.

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