Circle CEO Says More Regulatory Clarity From US SEC Will Help Unlock Crypto Markets

The CEO of Circle says the biggest regulatory hurdle facing the industry today is the lack of clarity over crypto and securities laws.

CEO and co-founder of Goldman Sachs-backed crypto finance company Circle has said the biggest regulatory hurdle facing crypto today is the lack of clarity from the United States securities regulator over how to define various crypto assets.

Jeremy Allaire made his remarks in an AMA reddit thread he initiated on Jan. 10 together with Circle co-founder Sean Neville and other representatives from the firm.

In response to a question over Circle’s efforts to educate regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the crypto industry, as well as specific challenges the company faces, Allaire wrote:

“The biggest and most immediate regulatory hurdle we face is the lack of specific guidance from the SEC on how to classify various crypto assets. We believe many are clearly currencies and commodities, and there needs to be more specificity on what are really securities. This can unlock a lot of market activity, and also clearly enable the growth of a market for crypto-based securities.”

In response to other regulation-focused questions, Allaire also stated Circle’s belief that tax treatment should be differentiated for crypto-to-crypto transactions — noting that France has inched ahead of other countries in pursuing a statutory amendment to this end.

As reported, France’s prospective bill to ease crypto-crypto taxation has notably recently faced a setback in parliament.

Other topics that gained traction on the thread were discussions of privacy-focused altcoins such as Monero (XMR), with many redditors keen to get insights into Circle’s approach to handling scrutiny from regulators and law enforcement into so-dubbed opaque blockchains.

Robert Bench, chief compliance officer and head regulatory counsel for Circle, clarified that while no specific legislation has yet been drafted in the U.S. in regard to privacy coins, Circle may take use of such assets into account for its customers’ risk assessments.

Noting that tackling privacy and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance is high on regulators’ agenda, he added that he “wouldn’t underestimate the ability of smart industry and government participants to find solutions to provide transparency on these coins [in the future].”

As reported, Allaire has recently predicted that Bitcoin (BTC) will eventually be worth a great deal more than now, but stopped short of Bitcoin maximalism, stating:

“I do not think it’s winner-take-all. We have the phrase ‘the tokenization of everything,’ and we think cryptographic tokens are going to represent every form of financial asset in the world. There will be millions of them in years.”

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‘Payments Four Times Faster Than Visa’: Network Fights Low Speeds and Threat of Lost Funds

A new global blockchain finance infrastructure will allow users to recover their private keys – ensuring they “never lose their funds.”

Fraud, inefficient and expensive systems, a lack of transparency and slow transactions at busy times are a reality for many business networks around the world – inconveniencing merchants, their customers, and even the middlemen tasked with processing their transactions.

Volume limitations have also frustrated retailers who may have considered turning to crypto, while a lack of security has deterred the public.

Optherium, a global fintech company, believes that its ecosystem could be the silver bullet to eliminate the main issues facing the crypto world – as well as the old-fashioned economy. According to its white paper, the platform wants to tackle three key issues: slow transaction times, a lack of security seen in multicurrency wallets, and a general lack of usability.

The company is a member of the Linux Foundation. It has been successfully certified for advertising on Facebook and Google, who assess the eligibility of the companies wanting to run ads for cryptocurrency products and services. Optherium has also been featured on the likes of Bloomberg and Fox Business, and the company is positioning itself as a blockchain-as-a-service provider to Fortune 500 companies.

Solving these problems

Optherium offers an environment for instant, low-cost transactions backed up by “unprecedented” security levels thanks to its patented Multi-Decentralized Private Blockchains Network and Multisecure Technology. The company says its modular ecosystem gives banks, financial institutions and companies a way to offer these features on a “white label” basis, as well as the opportunity to adapt them for their own purposes.

The company’s infrastructure is fully licensed in the EU for exchanges between cryptocurrency and fiat – in addition to eWallet services. The fintech company has also registered with the IRS and is exempt under SEC Regulation D in the US. In time, it hopes its global finance blockchain infrastructure will be “accessible to all financial institutions, corporations and individual users.”

It has already established a working product by powering the VivusPay mobile application, which uses Optherium’s speed and security to achieve instant crypto to fiat and fiat to crypto transactions worldwide with lower fees.

Optherium consists of private blockchain networks where on-chain and cross-chain transactions can be completed. The company claims it can reach speeds of more than 100,000 transactions per second, with payments verified “four times faster than Visa and much faster than Ripple.”

When more users join the Optherium ecosystem, it plans to group nodes by region networks so it can better localize user transactions, making them faster and preventing an increase in demand from clogging up its network.

Its infrastructure also boasts “Multisecure Technology,” which is backed by several layers of protection including multisignature transactions, biometrics-based verification and multi-factor authorization using voice, retina, fingerprints and facial movements.

A key development

Optherium has launched a key recovery service which allows a user to regain access to assets and data if a private key is stolen or lost. Its ecosystem stores private keys in cold storage, shared among several airgapped computers that are “never connected to any network.” These isolated and safeguarded machines should ensure that hackers will never be in close enough proximity to Optherium hardware. By eliminating physical access to the computers, the company hopes to ensure that user keys remain safe and can only be recovered by qualified agents.

For consumers so used to being able to recover forgotten passwords and PINs, the ramifications of losing a private key have made them nervous – not to mention trying to get their heads around technology they don’t fully understand. Although some services allow users to recover these details, a single blockchain network has been unable to incorporate such protocols.

Users are required to enter personal information and answers to security questions when they are setting up their VivusPay eWallet. These details are then stored in Optherium’s Multi-Decentralized Private Blockchains Network. At this stage, users also set up their Dynamic Biometrics – a “fraud proof” feature which captures someone’s movements as well as their features.

The company claims this information ensures “users will never lose their funds due to the loss of their private keys.”

Optherium’s ecosystem also features a specially built utility and facilitator token known as OPEX. As well as being able to cover transaction fees incurred on the platform, the token acts as a bridge between the cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies that the service supports.

OPEX serves an “internal liquidity reserve token” for hundreds of digital currency pairings – paving the way for “rapid internal conversion between currencies in response to user requests.” The company says fiat and crypto can both be used with equal ease and the system can also handle huge amounts that may be transferred by large conglomerates.

Optherium’s whitelisting phase runs from Oct 5 to Dec 5. A presale of OPEX tokens will immediately follow and is expected to end on Feb 5. The main token sale will take place afterwards, wrapping up on March 5. OPEX is going to be listed on CoinBene, an exchange which is also promoting the VivusPay eWallet. Over time, Optherium aims to launch a debit card which can complete instant transactions between cryptocurrency and fiat, enabling users to complete withdrawals from ATMs worldwide. VivusPay facilitates payments using near field communication (NFC) and QR codes, and opens the door to paying at points of sale using crypto.

Company’s representatives told Cointelegraph that on Nov. 12, 2018, Optherium Labs signed a “multimillion euro agreement” with CFC Legal and MPOTrustee, an Italy-based company which specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals, and companies to protect their assets. The partnership aims to create TrustMeUp, a global trust platform built within the Optherium ecosystem. According to Optherium, the new project was inspired by successful fan-ownership business models such as soccer clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the Green Bay Packers football team. The company describes the platform as a “formal and democratic non-profit organization comprised of passionate, enthusiastic, Italian A-series football supporters.” The app is designed to allow direct and secure engagement with clubs and their supporters.


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Ukrainian Legislator Urges Parliament to Cut Crypto Taxes Until 2030

The Ukrainian opposition has offered an alternative bill on cryptocurrencies that would eliminate all taxes for crypto incomes until 2030.

A Ukrainian legislator has urged parliament during a speech on Monday, October 1 to review his alternative bill on cryptocurrencies that offers to freeze taxes for crypto traders up to 2030.

MP Yuriy Derevyanko, a member of the anti-corruption Movement of New Forces founded back in 2017 by former Georgian politician Mikheil Saakashvili, introduced his version of the bill at the conciliation board of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the country’s unicameral parliament.

“The bill provides tax exemptions for all the participants of crypto market up to 31 December, 2029,” Derevyanko stated. He further explained the importance of such a decision for the Ukrainian economy:

“I believe we need to impose a moratorium on taxation of [the crypto] area for the next 10 years. We have to regulate and legalize this segment, which will become an engine for a new economy.”

The alternative bill, registered September 27, offers slightly different definitions for cryptocurrencies, blockchain, mining, and tokens. According to the document, tax holidays will refer to all income from crypto deals both for individuals and entities.

Derevyanko’s document opposes the main bill, which several MPs of president Petro Poroshenko’s party has put forward earlier this September. Per the above graphic, the main difference between the two bills consists of their approach to taxation.

As Cointelegraph has explained, the first draft offers a five percent tax for individuals and legal entities operating with virtual currency assets, such as coins and tokens. Starting January 1, 2024, the tax for business revenues from crypto will rise up to 18 percent. This, the document states, might help Ukraine draw an additional 1.27 billion hryvnia ($43 million) to the budget annually from 2019-2024.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier, Ukraine has repeatedly expressed its desire to create a national digital currency tied to local fiat (hryvnia).

Ukraine’s draft cryptocurrency legislation also contains regulatory provisions against money laundering, terrorist financing, and other criminal activities.

Earlier in June, Ukrainian police arrested four men who were suspected of running at least six fake cryptocurrency exchanges. Later, the authorities questioned users allegedly deceived by fraudulent exchanges.

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Switzerland First in Ranking of Top 10 Most Blockchain-Friendly Countries in Europe

BlockShow’s rankings of the best European countries for opening a blockchain company puts Switzerland at the top of the list.

Switzerland is ranked number one in a list of the top ten European countries for starting a blockchain company, according to a study released by blockchain conference BlockShow Europe 2018.

In the list of best countries for starting a blockchain company, Gibraltar and Malta follow Switzerland in second and third respectively. The study consisted of 48 European countries that were examined for rankings by Initial Coin Offering (ICO) regulations, regulations on crypto as a payment service, and taxation frameworks for crypto.

Switzerland is known as a crypto-friendly nation due to both its establishment of a virtual currency hub, “crypto valley,” in Zug and its status as a tax-free haven for crypto investors. Gibraltar has reportedly attracted 200 ICOs before the planned launch of its Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), and Malta, the “blockchain island,” has welcomed major crypto exchanges Binance and OKEx recently.

BlockShow also released a poll this week on blockchain-based app Polys that allows users to vote on the leading women and companies in the EU blockchain space. The winners of the poll will be announced during the BlockShow conference at the end of this month in Berlin.

At the beginning of February, the European Commission announced the launch of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum as part of their aim to unite the economy around blockchain. However, more recently, newly approved EU privacy laws – which come into effect on May 25 – arguably conflict with the decentralized nature of blockchain technology.

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US: Seminole County Florida To Accept Crypto For Tax Payment

Seminole County to accept BTC and BCH for payment for taxes to remove risks connected with credit card usage, such as fraud and identity theft.

The Seminole County, Florida, tax collector Joel M. Greenberg announced May 14 that the county will begin accepting cryptocurrency for payment for various services this summer in order to eliminate heavy fees and improve payment accuracy and efficiency.

According to a press release, the county will begin accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) to pay for services, including property taxes, driver license and ID card fees, as well as tags and titles. The Seminole County Tax Collector will reportedly employ blockchain payments company BitPay, which will allow the county to receive settlement the next business day directly to its bank account in US dollars. Greenberg commented on the initiative:

“We live in a world where technology has made access to services on demand, with same-day delivery and the expectation of highly efficient customer service and we should expect the same from our government. The aim of my tenure in office is to make our customer experience faster, smarter, and more efficient, and to bring government services from the 18th century into the 21st century and one way is the addition of cryptocurrency to our payment options.”

With this move, the county reportedly aims to remove risks connected to credit card usage, such as fraud and identity theft. According to BitPay, Seminole county is the first government agency to use the company’s services.

Earlier this month in the state of Arizona, a bill that would have allowed state residents to pay taxes using crypto was amended, removing the provisions which obligated the state to accept crypto. Instead, the bill merely obliges the Department of Revenue to “study” whether a taxpayer may “pay the taxpayer’s income tax liability by using a payment gateway, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin or any other cryptocurrency.”

Also this month, the city of Berkeley, California moved forward with an initiative to apply blockchain technology to public financing for community projects. The pilot project also aims to decrease the minimum price of a municipal bond from $5,000 to $10-25, which would allow more people to invest in municipal projects they support. Vice Mayor Ben Barlett added that, should the political process allow it, the city could consider issuing a type of token which would function much like a municipal bond in providing city funding.

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